Silent, but sure killers

Asbestos mesothelioma is one of the incurable diseases that can afflict a person exposed to asbestos for an extended period. The other diseases are asbestosis or pulmonary fibrosis, calcified pleural plaques, lung cancer, pleural thickening and laryngeal cancer.

Five years ago local health and environmental experts have warned that the country would experience the peak of asbestos-related deaths 10 to 50 years from now if asbestos use is not abated. Asbestos is considered one of the most toxic chemicals being used for industrial purposes.

The products known to contain asbestos include fiber cement boards, packaging materials, gaskets, and friction and mechanical parts such as brake and clutch. Some major building projects such as malls, gasoline stations, airports, and several condominium projects use fiber cement boards.

While 40 countries have already ban asbestos use, Metro Manila-based companies are still importing an estimated 4,000 metric tons of asbestos for the local manufacturing and distribution of various asbestos-containing products.

There have been efforts by the government to regulate the importation, manufacture and use of asbestos and the storage, transport and disposal of their wastes. However, the order was not strictly enforced because of the government’s limited manpower and technological deficiency.

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