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Experts for banning asbestos in Bangladesh

Staff Correspondent
15 Apr 2024 18:06:45 | Update: 15 Apr 2024 21:05:19
Experts for banning asbestos in Bangladesh
— Courtesy Photo

The Bangladesh government should ban asbestos to protect human health and the environment, as asbestos is a known carcinogen – a substance capable of causing cancer in humans.

The World Health Organization (WHO) and International Labor Organization (ILO) data shows that around one million workers worldwide die from asbestos-related diseases every year. Currently, the import, marketing and utilisation of asbestos are banned in 62 countries.

Speakers made the remarks on Monday, at a press conference held in the Dhaka Reporters Unity Hall Room, organised by the Bangladesh Ban Asbestos Network (B-BAN) and Bangladesh Occupational Safety, Health and Environment Foundation (OSHE Foundation).

In a statement, OSHE Foundation Executive Director Aminur Rashid Chowdhury Repon disclosed recent study findings on asbestos in cement sheet and brake shoes. 

OSHE Foundation and South Korea's Asia Citizen Center for Environment and Health (Eco Health) jointly conducted the study. The study found presence of chrysotile asbestos in the cement sheet and also found the asbestos in the brake shoe of vehicle.

At the same time asbestos was not found in the soil of ship breaking yard areas in Chattogram and samples of baby talcum powder, though in many countries this product bears asbestos.

Asbestos is a gray mineral that breaks down easily into long flexible fibres. It is fireproof, electrically conductive and chemically resistant. It can cause serious lung disease if inhaled as dust. Asbestos infectious diseases are compensable in line with Bangladesh Labour Act.

The speakers appreciated the initiative of the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change to ban asbestos and urged the ministry to implement the decision taken in a multi-stakeholder meeting held on December 2, 2021.

They also underscored the need for more research to find out alternatives of asbestos and sensitization to the business community who imports the asbestos.

Among others, Dr SM Morshed, Vice Chair of OSHE foundation and Public Health Expert Professor Dr Mahmud Hossain Faruqi and researcher and journalist Ataur Rahman were present in the press conference.