Raleigh, NC - The Joint Policy Committee of the Societies of Epidemiology released a statement on Tuesday calling for the complete global ban of asbestos for mining, use and export. Supported by nearly 150 international committees, organizations, public health awareness groups and scientists, the statement reinforced the danger of the highly toxic and carcinogenic mineral.
This timely call for a global ban on asbestos came after Quebec’s highly controversial move to provide $58 million in supportive funding to a defunct asbestos mine, Johns-Manville. National and international criticism over the move by the Quebec government has dominated global news since the announcement in June. Currently, the Quebec mine is the only functioning asbestos mine in a western country still in operation.
Outside of Europe and North America, there are some operational asbestos mines that export the mineral to developing nations like India and Thailand. The backlash against a global ban stems from countries on the verge of becoming economic powerhouses. Many of the nations that rely on asbestos in manufacturing do so because the mineral is inexpensive, durable and highly versatile. Alternative asbestos products are more expensive, forcing companies to raise prices on an already taxed consumer base.
However, the push for a global asbestos ban garners support from 20 countries who have recognized the health hazards asbestos poses.
According to Dr. Stanley Weiss, Chair of the Joint Policy Committee of the Societies of Epidemiology, in the published statement, asbestos is remains a killer of people exposed even decades ago and if the use of asbestos continues worldwide, this pattern of death will continue for years.
“Continued use of asbestos will lead to a public health disaster of asbestos-related illness and premature death for decades to come, repeating the epidemic we are witnessing today in industrialized countries that used asbestos in the past.”
Among the asbestos-related diseases is mesothelioma, a rare yet deadly form of cancer directly linked to asbestos exposure. Tiny airborne asbestos particles are inhaled, leaving extensive scarring on the tissue of the lungs, stomach and heart, which will eventually develop into the cancer. At this time, there is no known cure for mesothelioma.