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Will Pakistan finally ban the use of asbestos
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It has been reported that in a recent investigation commissioned by the tobacco industry that not only has the sale and purchase of counterfeit cigarettes significantly risen this year but more worryingly, that the “fakes” may contain elements of human excrement, mould, dead flies and most worryingly of all, asbestos.
After a series of hearings on asbestos and its link to mesothelioma, the Pakistani National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Human Resource Development is recommending that the use and importation of asbestos products be permanently banned in the country.
55 countries worldwide, including most of the EU, have asbestos bans in place but of the countries bordering Pakistan, China is the only country to enact an asbestos ban. This is therefore a very significant move for the international campaign to ban the use of this deadly product around the globe.
Medical experts worldwide agree that exposure or handling of asbestos dramatically increases the risk of developing mesothelioma and a host of other asbestos-related conditions such as asbestosis, lung cancer and pleural thickening. Asbestos was commonly used in the UK until the 1980s because of it’s excellent insulation and fire retardant properties however a complete ban on the use of the product was not enforced until 1999. Notwithstanding the overwhelming medical evidence confirming the potentially deadly effects of inhaling asbestos dust, some countries around the world continue to use it daily, putting lives at risk.
Despite the encouraging recommendation that the Pakistani National Assembly’s Standing Committee is making to the government, there is a risk that any proposed ban on asbestos in Pakistan may prove futile as research suggests that current asbestos consumption in Pakistan increases yearly. One study shows that the figure quadrupled from 1,590 tons to 9,170 tons from 2000 to 2004 alone. The proposals were also met by resistance from the Director of the Centre for the Improvement of Working Conditions and Environment, based in Lahore. He argued that a total ban is too strong and suggested that some products which cause asbestos aren’t a threat!
The Pakistani National Assembly’s recommendation for a ban will be sent to the Ministry of Commerce and Federal Board of Revenue in Pakistan which is responsible for banning imports. Let’s hope that the ban is put into place and other countries swiftly follow!
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