India Continues Debate Regarding Asbestos Safety

Reports Shed Light On Current Situation Regarding Use Of Material


Debate is continuing to rage in India regarding the safety of asbestos materials, according to reports. 

AP reports that while the material, which is recognised to cause serious illnesses including the terminal cancer mesothelioma, is banned in many countries its use remains very common in India and other Asian countries.

According to Indian asbestos trade organisations, there is a strict adherence to safety standards in factories handling asbestos. Yet AP journalists who visited a working factory and a shuttered one in the impoverished Bihar state, found both had dumped broken asbestos sheets and raw material in fields or uncovered pits within the factory premises. The journalists reported that workers without any safety gear were seen handling the broken sheets at both factories.

Activists including Ban Asbestos India are continuing to work to raise awareness of the dangers associated with asbestos and counter arguments that there is a lack of evidence in relation to links between disease and chrysotile – which is also known as white asbestos.

A moratorium on asbestos mining has been in place in India, but the use of the material has not been banned despite Supreme Court rulings stating that the country’s laws should be brought in line with regulations from the International Labor Organization.

Most asbestos on the world market today comes from Russia, Brazil, Kazakhstan and China.

If you or a loved one has been affected by an asbestos related illness, our solicitors can help you to claim compensation. See our Asbestos Claims page for more information.

Expert Opinion
Scientists and medical experts overwhelmingly agree that inhaling any form of asbestos can lead to deadly diseases including mesothelioma, lung cancer and asbestosis, or the scarring of the lungs.

"Yet despite the evidence, India remains the world’s biggest importer of the substance with figures suggesting that last year India imported $235 million worth of asbestos into the country.

"Part of the problem is due to misinformation. Supporters of the use of asbestos in India will routinely argue that the asbestos used to produce corrugated roof sheets, wall panels or pipes, is perfectly safe. They will say that because it is bound by cement, it means that this reduces the possibility of airborne asbestos fibres. However, fibres can be released when the sheets are sawed or hammered, and when wear and weather break them down. Mixing loose asbestos powder with cement and pouring it into moulds will undoubtedly release asbestos fibres into the atmosphere. Without suitable respiratory protection, they will invariably be inhaled by persons within proximity.

"The use of asbestos in construction and refurbishment work is banned in the UK, but sadly through our work, we see many cases which demonstrate the terrible legacy that exposure to the material has on so many lives.

"These reports regarding the situation in India in relation to asbestos are very disturbing. We would urge authorities on an international level to continue to work towards ensuring that the dangers and risks posed by the deadly material are continually emphasised to authorities and the people of India.

"It is vital that the country learns lessons from the problems which have been seen for a number of decades in many other parts of the world and not make the same mistakes."
Satinder Bains, Partner