A move to protect workers in developing nations from the dangers of asbestos was defeated recently by leading asbestos exporter Russia and six of its allies at the UN Rotterdam Convention Conference.
The defeat means that chrysotile, or white asbestos, will not be included in the convention's list of substances known to be hazardous to human health, according to the NewScientist. Five of the six forms of asbestos (actinolite, anthophyllite, amosite, crocidolite, and tremolite) are already listed in the convention's Prior Informed Consent (PIC) list of hazardous substances.
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However, all forms of asbestos, including chrysotile, are hazardous. Even brief exposures to asbestos fibers can cause serious illnesses and cancers, including asbestosis and malignant mesothelioma. The World Health Organization estimates that 125 million people worldwide are exposed to asbestos in the workplace. More than 107,000 people die every year from asbestos diseases.
Supporters of the move to include chrysotile in the Rotterdam Convention argue that the move would result in better labeling of asbestos-containing products and safer handling practices, thus protecting thousands of workers' lives.
Russia, along with Kazakhstan, Ukraine, Kyrgyzstan, Zimbabwe, India, and Vietnam opposed the inclusion of chrysotile on the convention, saying it would increase shipping and insurance costs.
"This is a disaster and a human tragedy," Kathleen Ruff of the Rotterdam Convention Alliance told the NewScientist. "The convention has been used to protect industry profits rather than public health, and as a result risks becoming a farce."
Although this deadly mineral is banned in most developed nations, asbestos is still legally used in the United States. However, most Americans have no idea that asbestos is still in use in this country.
If you or a family member has been diagnosed with mesothelioma due to asbestos exposure, you have rights under the law. A successful mesothelioma lawsuit may help pay related medical bills and other expenses. Contact Sokolove Law today for a free case evaluation and to learn if a mesothelioma lawyer can help you.