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India Says NO to Asbestos

December 2, 2013.

Over 300 scientists and health defenders from 36 countries condemn dangerous misinformation being disseminated in India by asbestos industry organisations

In a letter released today, over 200 scientists and over 100 labour and health organizations from 36 countries strongly condemned efforts by asbestos industry organisations to promote use of chrysotile asbestos in India. The letter, sent to Health Minister Sh Gulam Nabi Azad, Labour Minister Sh Sis Ram Ola and Environment Minister Ms Jayanthi Natarajan, noted that the asbestos industry is on a mission to enhance its profits and urged the National Government of India to put the health of the Indian population ahead of the vested interests of the asbestos industry.

“The International Chrysotile Association and the Asbestos Cement Products Manufacturers’ Association of India (ACPMA) are disseminating deadly, deceptive misinformation about chrysotile asbestos, that will cause suffering and loss of life for years to come,” said Dr. Joseph LaDou, Emeritus Chair, Division of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, University of California School of Medicine, USA.

“These organisations claim that scientific research shows that chrysotile asbestos can be safely used,” said Professor Luiz Augusto Facchini, Department of Social Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, Universidade Federal de Pelotas, Brazil. “This claim is utterly false. The International Agency for Research on Cancer and the World Health Organization, as well as numerous other scientific organisations, have all called for an end to the use of chrysotile asbestos in order to prevent further tragic epidemics of asbestos-related diseases.”

“While a handful of scientists financed by and allied to the asbestos industry, deny the health risks of chrysotile asbestos and promote its continued used, not a single reputable scientific body in the world supports this position,” said Dr. Fernand Turcotte, Professor Emeritus of Preventive Medicine and Public Health, Laval University, Québec, Canada.

In the face of the public health disaster caused by asbestos, 54 countries have banned any use of asbestos. The asbestos industry, in order to ensure its continued profits, is aggressively targeting Asian countries for sales. Just six Asian countries – China, India, Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand and Sri Lanka – now represent 70% of world asbestos consumption.

India imports more asbestos than any other country in the world, with imports having risen from 253,382 tons in 2006 to 473,240 tons in 2012, an increase of 186%. “These vast amounts of asbestos, being placed in homes and schools across India, are a deadly time bomb that will go on causing suffering and deaths for decades to come,” said Dr V. Murlidhar, Pneumoconiosis compensation board, TN Trust, UK and Trauma surgeon, Mumbai, India.

As a result of increased use of asbestos in Asia, asbestos experts, Dr. G.V. Le and Dr. K. Takahashi have warned: “A surge of Asbestos Related Disorders (ARD) in Asia should be anticipated in the coming decades. Asian countries should not only cease asbestos use but also prepare themselves for an impending epidemic of ARD.”

One of the ‘eminent’ speakers at the forthcoming industry conference, Dr David Bernstein was found by a New York court early this year to have committed potential crime-fraud by billing per hour to publish papers in the scientific literature that were financed and controlled by an asbestos products company.[1]

The independence of a 2012 study conducted by the National Institute of Occupational Health titled ‘Health hazards/ environmental hazards resulting from use of Chrysotile variety of asbestos in the country’ commissioned by the Ministry of Chemicals and Petrochemicals was tarnished by the participation of the asbestos industry behind the scenes.

Commenting on the study, Dr Arthur Frank, Professor of Public Health, Drexel University, USA stated: “There are so many things wrong with this study it is hard to know where to begin. Perhaps the single most damning statement in the whole document is to be found on page 106 - All workers were using personal protective equipment device such as a piece of cloth as mask. Who could possibly believe that a piece of cloth acts as a piece of protective equipment for microscopic Asbestos dust?”

“It shows cynical indifference on the part of the asbestos industry that they are holding their event to promote a toxic product on the anniversary of the Bhopal tragedy,” said Pralhad Malvadkar, Occupational Health and Safety Centre, Mumbai.  “The millions of tons of asbestos that are being placed in homes and schools in India will create thousands of innocent victims, while this irresponsible industry reaps the profits. A slow motion Bhopal is being created. It may be reliably predicted that the toll of death and disease from asbestos in India will be at least 10 to 100 times as great as that from the disaster in Bhopal.  The corporate mentality that is the cause is the same in both cases”.

We call on the three government ministers to reject the discredited propaganda of a tainted, irresponsible industry and instead show leadership that respects reputable science and protection of health.

We call on the national government to adopt an enlightened policy and to support the WHO’s recommendation to end all use of asbestos in India.

CONTACT:

Mohit Gupta, OEHNI: oehni.del@gmail.com

Krishnendu Mukherjee, Barrister: tublumukherjee@yahoo.co.uk

Madhumita Dutta, OEHNI: madhudutta.new@gmail.com


Via AMRC Hong Kong
OHS OHS's insight:

It is hard to understand that there would even be any reason in todays world to continue to use asbestos. 

 

It goes to show that there is still a long way to come in OHS in a lot of poorer nations around the world.

more...
Jamis Brooks's curator insight, March 8, 6:59 AM

To think that Asbestos is still being used in this day and age after all the law suits and the health risks it has presented. It is essential for the UN to step in and stop this injustice. 

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OHS OHS's insight:

Many unfortunate deaths while at work are completely avoidable. While many deaths and injuries come down to profit driven company leaders a lot are simply because of lack of knowledge or carelessness.

 

In poorer countries in particular many work related injuries and deaths could have easily been avoided had the workers have had briefings, induction and basic safety training.

 

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OHS OHS's insight:

The jobs listed as the most dangerous come as no real surprise, so why cant we make these jobs safer?

 

I believe the very nature of many jobs is why they are so dangerous.
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OHS OHS's insight:

These unfortunate deaths did not occur during standard work procedures but they are a good reminder of what other countries have to face at work. Developing and third world nations have a great deal of issues even before the work starts. Lack of education, money, job availability and what sometimes seems a lesser value of life in these poorer countries results in dangerous working conditions for a lot of workers. 

 

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Although many would claim OHS is over the top and a waste of red tape the fact remains that there is still room for improvement. The areas where the most improvement is needed is Self-Employed Workers, by nature this is the hardest area to introduce and implement safer work practices. I very much doubt that there will ever be a year with no work related deaths however I am sure in time the number will be reduced to what will be classed as a reasonable level.

 

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OHS OHS's insight:

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Brittany Yates's curator insight, July 17, 7:21 AM

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India Says NO to Asbestos

December 2, 2013.

Over 300 scientists and health defenders from 36 countries condemn dangerous misinformation being disseminated in India by asbestos industry organisations

In a letter released today, over 200 scientists and over 100 labour and health organizations from 36 countries strongly condemned efforts by asbestos industry organisations to promote use of chrysotile asbestos in India. The letter, sent to Health Minister Sh Gulam Nabi Azad, Labour Minister Sh Sis Ram Ola and Environment Minister Ms Jayanthi Natarajan, noted that the asbestos industry is on a mission to enhance its profits and urged the National Government of India to put the health of the Indian population ahead of the vested interests of the asbestos industry.

“The International Chrysotile Association and the Asbestos Cement Products Manufacturers’ Association of India (ACPMA) are disseminating deadly, deceptive misinformation about chrysotile asbestos, that will cause suffering and loss of life for years to come,” said Dr. Joseph LaDou, Emeritus Chair, Division of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, University of California School of Medicine, USA.

“These organisations claim that scientific research shows that chrysotile asbestos can be safely used,” said Professor Luiz Augusto Facchini, Department of Social Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, Universidade Federal de Pelotas, Brazil. “This claim is utterly false. The International Agency for Research on Cancer and the World Health Organization, as well as numerous other scientific organisations, have all called for an end to the use of chrysotile asbestos in order to prevent further tragic epidemics of asbestos-related diseases.”

“While a handful of scientists financed by and allied to the asbestos industry, deny the health risks of chrysotile asbestos and promote its continued used, not a single reputable scientific body in the world supports this position,” said Dr. Fernand Turcotte, Professor Emeritus of Preventive Medicine and Public Health, Laval University, Québec, Canada.

In the face of the public health disaster caused by asbestos, 54 countries have banned any use of asbestos. The asbestos industry, in order to ensure its continued profits, is aggressively targeting Asian countries for sales. Just six Asian countries – China, India, Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand and Sri Lanka – now represent 70% of world asbestos consumption.

India imports more asbestos than any other country in the world, with imports having risen from 253,382 tons in 2006 to 473,240 tons in 2012, an increase of 186%. “These vast amounts of asbestos, being placed in homes and schools across India, are a deadly time bomb that will go on causing suffering and deaths for decades to come,” said Dr V. Murlidhar, Pneumoconiosis compensation board, TN Trust, UK and Trauma surgeon, Mumbai, India.

As a result of increased use of asbestos in Asia, asbestos experts, Dr. G.V. Le and Dr. K. Takahashi have warned: “A surge of Asbestos Related Disorders (ARD) in Asia should be anticipated in the coming decades. Asian countries should not only cease asbestos use but also prepare themselves for an impending epidemic of ARD.”

One of the ‘eminent’ speakers at the forthcoming industry conference, Dr David Bernstein was found by a New York court early this year to have committed potential crime-fraud by billing per hour to publish papers in the scientific literature that were financed and controlled by an asbestos products company.[1]

The independence of a 2012 study conducted by the National Institute of Occupational Health titled ‘Health hazards/ environmental hazards resulting from use of Chrysotile variety of asbestos in the country’ commissioned by the Ministry of Chemicals and Petrochemicals was tarnished by the participation of the asbestos industry behind the scenes.

Commenting on the study, Dr Arthur Frank, Professor of Public Health, Drexel University, USA stated: “There are so many things wrong with this study it is hard to know where to begin. Perhaps the single most damning statement in the whole document is to be found on page 106 - All workers were using personal protective equipment device such as a piece of cloth as mask. Who could possibly believe that a piece of cloth acts as a piece of protective equipment for microscopic Asbestos dust?”

“It shows cynical indifference on the part of the asbestos industry that they are holding their event to promote a toxic product on the anniversary of the Bhopal tragedy,” said Pralhad Malvadkar, Occupational Health and Safety Centre, Mumbai.  “The millions of tons of asbestos that are being placed in homes and schools in India will create thousands of innocent victims, while this irresponsible industry reaps the profits. A slow motion Bhopal is being created. It may be reliably predicted that the toll of death and disease from asbestos in India will be at least 10 to 100 times as great as that from the disaster in Bhopal.  The corporate mentality that is the cause is the same in both cases”.

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We call on the national government to adopt an enlightened policy and to support the WHO’s recommendation to end all use of asbestos in India.

CONTACT:

Mohit Gupta, OEHNI: oehni.del@gmail.com

Krishnendu Mukherjee, Barrister: tublumukherjee@yahoo.co.uk

Madhumita Dutta, OEHNI: madhudutta.new@gmail.com


Via AMRC Hong Kong
OHS OHS's insight:

It is hard to understand that there would even be any reason in todays world to continue to use asbestos. 

 

It goes to show that there is still a long way to come in OHS in a lot of poorer nations around the world.

more...
Jamis Brooks's curator insight, March 8, 6:59 AM

To think that Asbestos is still being used in this day and age after all the law suits and the health risks it has presented. It is essential for the UN to step in and stop this injustice. 

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Ladders are an extremely helpful and handy item to have around a job site. They are also extremely dangerous when used incorrectly.

 

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OHS OHS's insight:

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G. L. Taylor's curator insight, June 17, 6:38 PM

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OHS OHS's insight:

Even if this day and age Asbestos is still destroying families and lives around the world. Almost 60 years ago my Grandfather died from Asbestosis and unfortunately there is no guarantee that in 60 years my son wont die from the same condition.

 

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