Chrysotile Asbestos: 7 countries prevent the inclusion in the Rotterdam Convention List

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Asbestentsorgung (Foto: Bernard Maurin / fotolia)

Washington — The Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO) and the Global Asbestos Action Alliance are outraged: Seven countries have blocked the listing of chrysotile asbestos to the Prior Informed Consent (PIC) list of hazardous substances during the 2017 United Nations Rotterdam Convention. Russia, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Zimbabwe, Belarus, and Syria opposed the listing of chrysotile asbestos.

The World Health Organization (WHO) states that all forms of asbestos are carcinogenic to humans and may lead to mesothelioma and lung, larynx, and ovarian cancer. The Global Burden of Disease study estimates that 194,000 people globally die every year from asbestos-related lung cancer, mesothelioma and asbestosis. Nearly half of all deaths from occupational cancer are caused by asbestos.

All six types of asbestos are carcinogenic, but chrysotile is the only type of asbestos not included in the list. The Rotterdam Convention does not prohibit trade of the listed substances, but requires exporters to establish protocol to inform purchasers about the hazards related to the substances. Of the 157 countries attending the conference, Russia, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Zimbabwe, Belarus, and Syria opposed the listing.

“The callous disregard of some countries for educating workers condemns many to unnecessary and painful deaths“, argued Arthur L. Frank, Professor of Public Health and Pulmonary Medicine, Drexel University. “The pandemic of asbestos-induced diseases that the world is currently experiencing will continue to grow as thousands more uninformed users of this cancerous material will face disease and death in their future. The action of these few countries represents a callous disregard for human dignity and life”, underlined Ph.D. Richard Lemen. “It is reprehensible that Russia, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Zimbabwe, Belarus, and Syria used propaganda and junk science to block chrysotile asbestos from being added to the Rotterdam Convention’s list of hazardous substances,” commented Linda Reinstein, Co-Founder and President of ADAO.

And she stated: “Each day, more than 500 innocent people die from preventable asbestos-caused diseases, yet the asbestos industry, including the Russian Chrysotile Association, continues to promote the ’safe use‘ of chrysotile asbestos. Russia annually mines an estimated 1,000,000 tons of asbestos and is responsible for half of the world’s chrysotile asbestos production. Thugs and criminals profiting from the deadly toxic trade will not silence asbestos victims.“ Instead, the ADAO will turn its grief, pain, and anger into action for continue global educational and advocacy initiatives to collaboratively ensure chrysotile asbestos will be added to the PIC List at the 2018 Rotterdam Convention.

The Global Asbestos Action Alliance is supported by International Trade Union Confederation, European Trade Union Confederation, Australian Council of Trade Unions, New Zealand Council of Trade Unions, Trades Union Congress, Canadian Labor Congress, AFL-CIO, IndustriALL Global Union, BWI Global Union, Australian Manufacturing Workers Union, CFMEU, Unifor, Unite the Union, CCOO (Spain), Associated Labor Union (Philippines), Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO), Union Aid Abroad-APHEDA and Asia Monitor Resource Centre.

Source: Business Wire