Thugs and Criminals Continue to Profit from the Toxic Trade of Asbestos
Asbestos-related diseases cause great human suffering. Death from difficult-to-treat cancers and suffocation caused by asbestosis are terrible ways to die. The callous disregard of some countries for educating workers condemns many to unnecessary and painful deaths. (Arthur L. Frank MD, Ph.D., Professor of Public Health and Pulmonary Medicine, Drexel University)
One of the important items on the agenda of the Rotterdam Convention was the inclusion of chrysotile asbestos on the Prior Informed Consent (PIC) list of hazardous substances. The purpose of this inclusion is to force exporters to establish protocol to inform purchasers about the hazards related to the substances.
Linda Reinstein of the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO) expressed outrage with the fact that seven countries blocked the listing of chrysotile asbestos on the PIC list of hazardous substances. In her words:
It is reprehensible that India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, the Russian Federation, Ukraine, Vietnam, and Zimbabwe used propaganda and misinformation to block chrysotile asbestos from being added to the Rotterdam Convention’s list of hazardous substances. Each day, 300 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. ADAO is a proud supporter of the 2013 Rotterdam Convention Alliance (ROCA) Position Paper, as well as Association of Asbestos Victims Families (AFeVA) President Romana Blasotti Pavesi’s global asbestos victims solidarity letter, which was endorsed by 55 asbestos victims’ organizations. Asbestos victims around the world will not be silenced by thugs and criminals profiting from the deadly toxic trade. Instead, we will turn our grief, pain, and anger into action as we continue global educational and advocacy initiatives to collaboratively ensure chrysotile asbestos will be added to the PIC List at the 2015 Rotterdam Convention.
These seven countries blocked the inclusion because they have put profits ahead of the safety of worker’s lives. It is very sad and truly outrageous:
Chrysotile asbestos is recognized by every leading world scientific body as a cause of asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma, as have all other forms of commercially used asbestos that are currently listed on the PIC List, but because chrysotile asbestos remains the only type of asbestos commercially exploited, those countries having a financial stake in its continued use have placed profit and greed over the protection of the public’s health, in order to promote this carcinogenic product. Today, a few countries have again blocked chrysotile’s listing on the PIC by claiming it is not hazardous and can be used safely. It is a farce for them to suggest continued “controlled use” since by blocking its listing, the consumer is never informed of chrysotile’s hazardous nature. Thus, 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. (Richard Lemen Ph.D., MSPH, Assistant Surgeon General (ret.), Rear Admiral, USPHS (ret.); Adjunct Professor, Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University)
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