Skip to main content

India 'continues' carcinogenic asbestos use, trade, manufacture amidst US import ban

By Dr Gopal Krishna* 

ToxicsWatch Alliance (TWA), a member of Ban Asbestos Network of India (BANI), has welcomed total import ban on White Chrysotile Asbestos, a mineral fiber that causes laryngeal cancer, lung cancer, mesothelioma, and ovarian cancer by USA under the the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) which was amended in 2016. 
The new TCSA law provides the US Environment Protection Agency (USEPA) with more authority to restrict or ban commercial chemicals. The chrysotile asbestos ban is the first rule under the amended toxic chemical safety law. Unlike India which has imposed a partial ban on White Chrysotile Asbestos, US Environmental Protection Agency has announced that it is banning import of White Chrysotile Asbestos for all of the purposes for which these mineral fibers is used.
“The science is clear. There is simply no safe level of exposure to asbestos”, asserted Michael Regan, the 16th Administrator of USEPA, in a press conference while announcing the decision. 
Empowered by the amendment in TCSA, Washington, DC based US Environment Protection Agency (USEPA) has gone beyond its 35 years old 55 page long regulation dated July 12, 1989,  which had prohibited “the future manufacture, importation, processing, and distribution in commerce of asbestos in almost all products”under Section 6 of the Toxic Substances. Control Act (TSCA), 1976. But this 1989 prohibition was overturned by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit on October 25, 1991. Sadly, the Court decision was not appealed by the US President George HW Bush administration.
It is because of the tireless altruistic work of Washington, DC based Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO) and public health scholars like Dr Barry Castleman, the author of Asbestos: Medical and Legal Aspects, Prof. Arthur L Frank and Prof. David Michaels, the author of "Doubt is Their Product: How Industry's Assault on Science Threatens Your Health" that made the USEPA  to announce the final Part 1 rule prohibiting the importation and use of one type of white chrysotile as a significant step towards safeguarding the public health of present and future citizens of USA. 
Linda Reinstein, co-founder and president of ADAO has underlined that the rule has limited scope because it addresses only one of the six conditions. As a next step, the USEPA must restrict importation and use of five other recognized asbestos fibers, namely, crocidolite, amosite, anthophyllite, tremolite, and actinolite. 
It is estimated that 50,000 Indians are dying of incurable asbestos-related diseases every year
She said,“Users of raw asbestos and asbestos-containing brake blocks and gaskets in the chlor-alkali, brake block, chemical and refining sectors will finally be required to transition to non-asbestos technology, but we are alarmed that the rule allows an unnecessarily long transition period and creates inconsistent compliance deadlines for certain asbestos users, which will allow dangerous exposure to chrysotile asbestos to continue for years to come.”
The victims of asbestos-related diseases are a community of the same fate. It is estimated that 50,000 Indians are dying of incurable asbestos-related diseases every year. In the US, more than one million US citizens have died from preventable asbestos-caused diseases during 1991-2021.The ruling parties and governments of USA and India must put public health before naked lust for profit, without being constrained by questionable electoral finance from asbestos based companies.    
The announcement by USEPA was made on March 18, 2024.TWA and BANI said, they hope that India will impose a total ban on trade, manufacture and use of deadly mineral fibers of White Chrysotile Asbestos. BANI has been working for making India free from asbestos and asbestos related disease since April 2002 with limited success. 
TWA and BANI urged USEPA to desist from allowing long phase-out periods for some specific asbestos users and from permitting five other types of asbestos mineral fibers, drawing lessons from some 70 countries which have banned asbestos of all kinds.
Notably, Dr S Jaishankar, Union Minister of External Affairs informed parliament on February 9, 2023, "There were asbestos concerns with regard to  Indian property in Washington DC It posed a challenge in preparing it for use as an Indian Cultural Centre.”  
It seems someone took India for a ride by selling a hazardous asbestos laden building in Washington D.C. An inquiry must be ordered by the government to ascertain who compelled India to buy asbestos laden property in Washington D.C. 
There is a compelling need for both the USA and India to enact a comprehensive ban on trade, manufacture and use of all six kinds of asbestos to pave the way for a future free from the tragedy of asbestos-related diseases.
---
*With ToxicsWatch Alliance and Ban Asbestos Network of India

Comments

TRENDING

Bill Gates as funder, author, editor, adviser? Data imperialism: manipulating the metrics

By Dr Amitav Banerjee, MD*  When Mahatma Gandhi on invitation from Buckingham Palace was invited to have tea with King George V, he was asked, “Mr Gandhi, do you think you are properly dressed to meet the King?” Gandhi retorted, “Do not worry about my clothes. The King has enough clothes on for both of us.”

What's Bill Gates up to? Have 'irregularities' found in funding HPV vaccine trials faded?

By Colin Gonsalves*  After having read the 72nd report of the Department Related Parliamentary Standing Committee on alleged irregularities in the conduct of studies using HPV vaccines by PATH in India, it was startling to see Bill Gates bobbing his head up and down and smiling ingratiatingly on prime time television while the Prime Minister lectured him in Hindi on his plans for the country. 

Displaced from Bangladesh, Buddhist, Hindu groups without citizenship in Arunachal

By Sharma Lohit  Buddhist Chakma and Hindu Hajongs were settled in the 1960s in parts of Changlang and Papum Pare district of Arunachal Pradesh after they had fled Chittagong Hill Tracts of present Bangladesh following an ethnic clash and a dam disaster. Their original population was around 5,000, but at present, it is said to be close to one lakh.

Muted profit margins, moderate increase in costs and sales: IIM-A survey of 1000 cos

By Our Representative  The Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad’s (IIM-A's) latest Business Inflation Expectations Survey (BIES) has said that the cost perceptions data obtained from India’s business executives suggests that there is “mild increase in cost pressures”.

Anti-Rupala Rajputs 'have no support' of numerically strong Kshatriya communities

By Rajiv Shah  Personally, I have no love lost for Purshottam Rupala, though I have known him ever since I was posted as the Times of India representative in Gandhinagar in 1997, from where I was supposed to do political reporting. In news after he made the statement that 'maharajas' succumbed to foreign rulers, including the British, and even married off their daughters them, there have been large Rajput rallies against him for “insulting” the community.

Magnetic, stunning, Protima Bedi 'exposed' malice of sexual repression in society

By Harsh Thakor*  Protima Bedi was born to a baniya businessman and a Bengali mother as Protima Gupta in Delhi in 1949. Her father was a small-time trader, who was thrown out of his family for marrying a dark Bengali women. The theme of her early life was to rebel against traditional bondage. It was extraordinary how Protima underwent a metamorphosis from a conventional convent-educated girl into a freak. On October 12th was her 75th birthday; earlier this year, on August 18th it was her 25th death anniversary.

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

Govt putting India's professionals, skilled, unskilled labour 'at mercy of' big business

By Thomas Franco, Dinesh Abrol*  As it is impossible to refute the report of the International Labour Organisation, Chief Economic Advisor Anantha Nageswaran recently said that the government cannot solve all social, economic problems like unemployment and social security. He blamed the youth for not acquiring enough skills to get employment. Then can’t the people ask, ‘Why do we have a government? Is it not the government’s responsibility to provide adequate employment to its citizens?’

Youth as game changers in Lok Sabha polls? Young voter registration 'is so very low'

By Dr Mansee Bal Bhargava*  Young voters will be the game changers in 2024. Do they realise this? Does it matter to them? If it does, what they should/must vote for? India’s population of nearly 1.3 billion has about one-fifth 19.1% as youth. With 66% of its population (808 million) below the age of 35, India has the world's largest youth population. Among them, less than 40% of those who turned 18 or 19 have registered themselves for 2024 election. According to the Election Commission of India (ECI), just above 1.8 crore new voters (18-and 19-year-olds) are on the electoral rolls/registration out of the total projected 4.9 crore new voters in this age group.

Mark Lee: A spiritual leader who thought conventional religions are barrier to liberation

  By Harsh Thakor*  The Krishnamurti Foundation of America (KFA) lost Roger Edwin Mark Lee, who was a devoted disciple of Jiddu Krishnamurti, one of the greatest and most self realised spiritual philosophers of our time. Mark passed away due to pneumonia complications on April 6, 2024, at he Ventura Community Memorial Hospital in California. His exit was an irreparable loss to the spiritual world.