India faces asbestos epidemic according to The Lancet

A report in the influential medical journal "The Lancet" shows how the deadly work of the Canadian Chrysotile Institute continues to kill and maim thousands every year in developing nations.  A silent Bhopal is happening every year — here are some shocking statistics:

From 2000—07, India 's use of asbestos rose from roughly 125 000 metric tonnes to about 300 000. Nearly all of India 's asbestos is mixed with cement to form roofing sheets. Bolstered by asbestos import tariffs that have been reduced from 78% in the mid-1990s to 15% by 2004, the country's asbestos-cement industry is increasing by roughly 10% every year, employing in excess of 100 000 people. Since 2003, companies no longer require a special licence to import chrysotile.

Since 1960, India has incorporated about 7 million tonnes of asbestos into its buildings. The health consequences are already apparent, but the scale of the problem is not clear. “The Government of India has a very poor, almost non-existent, system to record death and disease”, explains Arthur Frank from Drexel University , Philadelphia , PA , USA . Besides, cancer is not a notifiable disease. Frank cites a hospital in Mumbai which sees a dozen cases of mesothelioma every year. Studies have shown high rates of asbestosis among workers in the industry, including in those whose exposure to the material has spanned less than 5 years. “But I suspect that there has been no real assessment of [asbestos-related disease] to the point that you can get accurate figures”, Frank concedes".

To read more, go to The Lancet online at:  http://bit.ly/amJVqF

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