Lanch of BANI (Ban Asbestos Network India)
ASBESTOS is a confirmed human carcinogen which has brought havoc in the life of millions of people around the world, therefore its continuing use needs to be eliminated.
As a common voice of anti-asbestos alliance, BANI- Ban Asbestos Network of India, undertakes to raise public awareness and bring about action against asbestos hazards. BANI as a network of individuals working as an umbrella inclusive of organisations of civil society, unions and environmental and health professionals recognise the urgency of complete, immediate ban on all usage of asbestos.
1. To work towards the immediate ban on the import, use, manufacture and trading of all forms of asbestos and asbestos products;
Workers and Consumers
Education and Awareness
7. The creation of publicly accessible mesothelioma registry.
8. Polluters' responsibility/ and polluter pays principle to apply in cleanup, and compensation with full transparency to all relevant information, particularly regarding regulatory implementation.
Taking cognisance of the inhuman, barbaric and pathetic conditions of the asbestos mining operations in India in general and Rajasthan in particular,
And also taking note of the European UnionÕs asbestos ban and Collegium Ramazzini*Õs call for international ban on asbestos states that Òall forms of asbestos are an occupational and environmental hazard of catastrophic proportion. The profound tragedy of the asbestos epidemic is that all illnesses and deaths related to asbestos are entirely preventableÓ.
The International Programme on Chemical Safety (IPCS), Environment Health Criteria 203 concludes and recommends protection of human health from exposure to chrysotile asbestos because it poses increased risks for asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma. ÒNo threshold has been identified for carcinogenic risksÓ. It adds, where safer substitutes material are for chrysotile asbestos is available, they should be considered for use. IPCS specifically discourages the use of chrysotile asbestos in construction materials, the use for 90 percent of all asbestos in India.
We at the International Symposium on Health Effects of Hazardous Materials-Phasing Out the Most Hazardous One-Asbestos on 13th April, 2002, in New Delhi, are alarmed by the misinformation brought to our notice by a report of Asbestos Information Centre (AIC), called Chrysotile asbestos, a magic mineral Ð it will have us believe that the pattern of asbestos is entirely different in India hence most of the diseases pattern seen in the west bear no relevance to the magnitude of Indian experience.
Contrary to these misleading facts, Dr Qamar Rahman, head of the toxicology division of Industrial Toxicology Research Centre (ITRC), Lucknow, one of the most renowned toxicologists of India revealed a very shocking data on cellular and genetic mutations and about the plight of the asbestos mine workers especially women. She informed the scientific and medical community present here about the occurances of asbestos related diseases that includes cases where women have died after 6-7 years of the first exposure as was reported by the government doctors.
We, the delegates present here publicly denounce the wanton greed and callousness of asbestos industry and the inhuman conditions of the mine and milling workers. The industry has started harrassing even the occupational and medical professionals who have disclosed the gravity of hazards of asbestos, particularly Dr. Tushaar Kant Joshi, a well known occupational health expert, simply for leading medical efforts to bring asbestos hazards under control in India and for having a public discussion on the justification for banning asbestos. As medical and public health professionals, we support Dr. Joshi and agree that efforts to ban the use of asbestos in India should be given serious and immediate attention by the government of India. We urge the government to take immediate action to correct the horrendous conditions prevailing at the asbestos mines and to close milling and mining activities immediately.
In short we
*The Collegium Ramazzini is an international academic society that examines critical issues in occupational and environmental medicine. The Collegium is dedicated to the prevention of disease and the promotion of health. The Collegium derives its name from Bernardino Ramazzini, the father of occupational medicine, a professor of medicine of the Universities of Modena and Padua in the late 1600s and the early 1700s. The Collegium is comprised of 180 physicians and scientists from 30 countries, each of whom is elected to membership. The Collegium is independent of commercial interests. The first Indian physician to become fellow in this Collegium is Dr. T K Joshi.
For Immediate Release
Ban Asbestos Network of India (BANI) launched calling for an immediate ban on asbestos
New Delhi, 15 April 2002: Activists from India, Australia, US, Malaysia, Italy and South Korea along with the Indian medical community represented by the Indian Association of Occupational Health (IAOH) has called for a ban on all activities relating to mining, manufacture, use and trade in asbestos. In a symposium organised by the IAOH on Banning Asbestos, for the last two days, the experts deliberated the dangers posed to the human health by asbestos and demanded immediate ban on all the activities related to asbestos and its products. An anti-Asbestos Resolution supported by the participants was passed at the symposium.
Dr Qamar Rahman, head of the toxicology division of Industrial Toxicology Research Centre (ITRC), Lucknow, one of the most renowned toxicologists of India revealed a very shocking data on cellular and genetic mutations and about the plight of the asbestos mine workers especially women. ÒEven one fibre if it reaches the right place in a cell can cause irreversible damage - leading to asbestosis, lung cancer or mesotheliomaÓ. She informed the scientific and medical community present about the occurrences of asbestos related diseases that includes cases where women have died after 6-7 years of the first exposure as was reported by the government doctors.
World over thirty-six countries have already banned asbestos and even World Trade Organisation has given an judgement against it, upholding FranceÕs decision to ban import of asbestos from Canada. Alarmed at the continuing asbestos usage, its hazardous consequences and misinformation campaign of the asbestos industry, Ban Asbestos Network of India (BANI) has been launched to raise public awareness about the hazards of asbestos.
Asbestos has been banned in Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovenia, Luxembourg, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, New Zealand, Chile and other countries. All European Union countries have agreed to put in place bans by 2005. "Public concern, regulations and liabilities involved have ended the use of asbestos in the US today", said Dr Barry Castleman, one of the key speakers at the session and a leading international expert on Occupational health, adding "in the US it is down to 2% of the peak level used in 1974".
The most vulnerable and affected people are the workers in asbestos mines who work under extremely hazardous conditions, according to studies done by the Consumer Education and Research Center, a public interest group based in Ahmedabad and the National Institute of Occupational Health, Ahmedabad.
ÒWe have given representation to the National Human Rights Commission to look into the plight of the workers in the asbestos industry,Ó said Sudam Mitra from Kalyanshree, a Kolkata based Non Governmental Organisation (NGO).
ItÕs a conflict between the money of the asbestos industry and the knowledge of the scientific and medical community, we are optimistic about the fact that ultimately the misinformation campaign of the industry will get defeated and public health hazard due to exposure to asbestos will get exposed, said Fernanda Giannasi, an internationally known labour inspector from Brazil.
In India asbestos is used in the manufacture of pressure and non-pressure pipes used for water supply, sewage, and drainage, packing material, brake linings and jointing used in automobiles, heavy equipment, nuclear power plants, thermal power plants amongst others. The current demand for asbestos in India is to the tune of 100,000 metric tonnes, one fifth of which is mined in India. Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan and Bihar are major asbestos mining belt of India with 20,000 tonnes being mined from these three states yearly. In addition, raw asbestos worth Rs 40 to 50 crores is imported annually.
There is an urgent need to protect human lives from asbestos hazards, said Ravi Agarwal of Toxics Link.
The IOAH and various other medical experts feel that it is high time the government of India worked out a timetable to Ban Asbestos for once and all. Diseases related to asbestos exposure include, asbestosis-an irreversible and progressive lung condition which results from the inhalation of asbestos fibres; Mesothelioma- cancer of the thin membrane enclosing in the lungs; and lung cancer.
According to International Ban Asbestos Secretariat-asbestos has been responsible for over 200,000 deaths in the United States and will cause million more deaths worldwide.
Members of BANI include- Kalyaneswari-Kolkata, Toxics link-Delhi, Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti-Gujarat, Mines, Minerals and People-Delhi, Mine Labour Protection Campaign-Rajasthan, Banjara Development Society, Greenpeace-Delhi, PeopleÕs Training Resource Centre-Gujarat and Occupational Health and Safety Association-Gujarat.