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India Urged to Ban Asbestos Use

There are many different individuals working to spread awareness of asbestos exposure, but the most recent cry came from over 300 scientists and organizations across the globe urging India to halt imports and ban the substance from use in the country altogether. In a letter addressed to three ministers of the Indian government, these hundreds of professionals want to see people put before profits.

The safety of asbestos has been challenged in America since the 1920's, but many companies and exporters of the substance have defended its use in commercial buildings and products up until the present day. Today, chrysotile asbestos is the most common type of asbestos used in construction and development.

Asbestos is a naturally-occurring carcinogen known to cause deadly diseases within the human body, including asbestosis, mesothelioma, and lung cancer. Use of all types of the substance is banned in many countries, but a few continue to import and use it in massive quantities, including India, China, and Vietnam. It is estimated that these and three other Asian countries consume 70% of the world's asbestos.

Regardless of the known dangers, countries like Russia and Brazil continue to export asbestos to these six countries in Asia. The substance is marketed as durable and cost-effective for developing nations, but few of the civilians who are intended to build and occupy the new structures are aware of the 10-50 year latency periods associated with asbestos-related diseases. In the letter addressed to the Indian government, the use of chrysotile asbestos is described to have left behind "a legacy of terrible human suffering and billions of dollars in economic costs" in the places it has been used before.

Written on November 27, 2013, this letter was published just before a conference held in New Delhi, India, that promoted the use of chrysotile asbestos in the country. The authors of the letter urged government officials to "support the recommendation of the World Health Organization and the worldwide, reputable scientific community" and ban the use of asbestos in India.

Read the letter here.

The conference took place on December 3 and 4, 2013. What do you think will happen to asbestos in India? Share your thoughts with us in a comment below.


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