Killing The Future: Asbestos Use In Asia

Asian Action on Asbestos

Asbestos Experience of Asian Countries

The asbestos problem epitomizes common challenges facing Asian populations, such as the epidemic of industrial accidents and deaths and the lack of good governance. Grass-roots mobilization linked to international advocacy is critical for a "sustained and holistic improvement" for workers in the region according to Sanjiv Pandito, from the Hong-Kong based Asian Network for the Rights of Occupational Accident Victims (ANROAV) who says:

"Workers in Asia should not need to go through the same painful experience as workers in industrialized countries before a complete ban on asbestos is introduced."

ANROAV is working to raise awareness of asbestos issues throughout Asia and has played a major part in the asbestos campaign mounted by NGOs such as BANJAN and JOSHRC in Japan. Recognizing the need for practical support from medical and legal professionals and collaboration with trade union, environmental and health activists, ANROAV cultivates links through its attendance of meetings such as the GAC 2004 and the AAC 2006 and its outreach programs. To counter industry's propaganda, it has launched an information campaign in major Asian languages about occupational and environmental asbestos hazards.

Throughout the 20th century, countries with the highest incomes were the biggest asbestos consumers; in the 21st century, the biggest consumers are middle income countries. This shifting pattern of consumption should be ringing warning bells throughout Asia. As history has shown that a national ban by one country merely relocates the problem to its neighbors, a coordinated strategy such as once proposed by Professor Ken Takahashi, from the University of Occupational and Environmental Health (Japan), is needed. To be effective, and Asian Asbestos Action Plan should include: measures for prevention of all types of asbestos exposure, simultaneous national bans to prevent the transfer of hazardous technologies and systems for monitoring actions taken and progress made.

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