The Call for a Worldwide Asbestos Ban

In a recently released statement, the United States and other international organizations have called for the global ban on the exportation, usage, and mining of asbestos. Over 150 organizations from 20 countries have endorsed the statement by the Joint Policy Committee of the Societies of Epidemiology. The serious consequences of the use of asbestos are proven and irrefutable, and have caused the premature death of millions of innocent people worldwide.

Many countries, mainly in Asia and Africa, still use asbestos because it is cheap, durable, and can be used in an array of applications. The statement calls namely upon the main exporters of asbestos: Russia, Canada, Brazil and Kazakhstan. Asbestos attorneys at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm remind the public of the risks associated with exposure. Mesothelioma, asbestosis, and lung cancer are diseases directly linked to asbestos inhalation; if you or a loved one has suffered as the result of exposure, call a mesothelioma lawyer today to discuss your legal claims.

The Joint Policy Committee of the Societies of Epidemiology approved the release of this statement, which was developed by representatives of twelve societies. The statement condemns the asbestos industry for blatantly lobbying the use of asbestos in low income countries despite scientific evidence of its health risks.

The profound tragedy of the asbestos epidemic is that all illnesses and deaths related to asbestos are entirely preventable. Safer substitutes for asbestos exist, and they have been introduced successfully in many countries.

All forms of asbestos cause asbestosis, a progressive, fibrotic disease of the lungs. They can all cause lung cancer and malignant mesothelioma. Asbestos has been declared a proven human carcinogen by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and by the International Agency for Research on Cancer of the World Health Organization.

An immediate international ban on the mining and use of asbestos is necessary because the risks cannot be controlled by technology or by the regulation of work practices. Scientists and responsible authorities in countries still allowing the use of asbestos should have no illusions that the “controlled use” of asbestos is a realistic alternative to a ban. Moreover, even the best workplace controls cannot prevent occupational and environmental exposures to products in use or to waste.

Environmental exposure from the continued use of asbestos is still a serious problem. A recent study of women residing in communities in Canadian asbestos mining areas found a 7-fold increase in the rate of death from pleural cancer. Large quantities of asbestos remain as a legacy of past construction practices in many thousands of schools, homes and commercial buildings in developed countries and are now accumulating in thousands of communities in developing countries.

The commercial tactics of the asbestos industry are very similar to those of the tobacco industry. In the absence of international sanctions, losses resulting from reduced cigarette consumption in the developed countries are offset by heavy selling to developing countries. In a similar fashion, the developed world has responded to the asbestos health catastrophe with a progressive ban on the use of asbestos. In response, the asbestos industry is progressively transferring its commercial activities and the health hazards to the developing countries.

Multinational asbestos corporations have a deplorable history of international exploitation. These firms have opened large and profitable internal and export markets in Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina and elsewhere in South America, Mexico, India, Thailand, Nigeria and Angola. Brazil is now the fifth-largest producer and consumer of asbestos in the world, after Russia, Canada, Kazakhstan and China. Whereas asbestos use in the United States amounts to less than 100 g per citizen per year, asbestos use in Brazil averages more than 1 kg per citizen per year.

The asbestos industry has a powerful influence over many countries. Even in the United States, the asbestos industry succeeded in 1992 in overturning the EPA’s recommended ban and phasing out of asbestos by a technical ruling in the courts. An immediate worldwide ban on the production and use of asbestos is long overdue, fully justified and absolutely necessary. Asbestos attorneys at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm champion the efforts of those who developed this statement. Protection from exposure to asbestos is your legal right. If you were exposed to toxic asbestos and developed a related illness, contact an experienced asbestos lung cancer lawyer today for a free consultation.

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