Posted on: April 15, 2011 Posted by: Diane Swarts Comments: 1

Some USA and Canadian companies still export asbestos, at severe occupational and public health risk, to developing countries.

These African imports continue despite awareness of the cause of mesothelioma, asbestosis being asbestos exposure, and despite local and international legislation.

Health and safety advocate Eric Stevenson writes in a circular, cited in Foreign Policy Journal, that The USA does not mine asbestos any more, but relays, or imports and directly exports, some Canadian and South African asbestos or asbestos products.

Canada used to lead asbestos mining and exporting in the West. Asbestos was a common building material all over the world in the 1900s, due to its insulating properties. South African legislation now bans asbestos processing and products, and requires hazardous waste handling and disposal procedures for clearing deteriorating asbestos roofs and other plant from sites.

Blacklisted and banned in most countries, asbestos is now usually found in some older buildings, heaters, refrigerators, mining waste dumps, and informal waste dumps, instead of licensed hazardous waste landfills like Chloorkop in Kempton Park or Holfontein near Springs.

South African asbestos mines were closed in the late 1900s, leaving a legacy of miners, process plant workers and local residents suffering from asbestosis and mesothelioma, as well as hazardous waste dumps and a trail of asbestos dust along rail lines from Northern Cape mines to Port Elizabeth and some other harbours.

“Russia also exported large quantities of asbestos and products to poor African and Asian countries, where occupational health awareness and health care facilities were deficient”, writes Stevenson.

Asbestos workers usually die within a year of diagnosis. USA and Canadian agencies spend millions per year on removal and abatement of asbestos.


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