chrispy thoughts

-the world as I see it

OUT with asbestos

Back after almost a year, I noticed some striking changes in my hometown.  No, this has nothing to do with the moral police that have been patrolling the streets in recent times, although, I must admit, if I had to voice my opinion on that front, it would run into pages. This issue is different – one with more dire consequences and one which poses a threat to a great many people across India- the asbestos everywhere!!!! This boom in construction seen across our country has prompted an escalated use of asbestos sheets. According to our cyber pal–wikipedia, asbestos is described as a set of six naturally occurring silicate minerals used commercially for their desirable physical properties.

Asbestos is available in plenty and for the number of uses it has to offer, it is quite easy on the pocket. Its principal advantages are its resistance to heat and fire. However, it is highly carcinogenic and owing to this, asbestos has been banned in 52 countries across the world (the EU, the U.S, Canada, Australia, the U.K to name a few). Faced with the option of either shutting shop or going into other markets, many asbestos mining and manufacturing companies have identified potential customers in developing countries and sadly India occupies one of the top positions in that list. Asbestos is a town in Quebec, known for the world’s largest asbestos mine- the Jeffrey mine. Though this mine had been closed down due to the ban on mining of asbestos, in June 2012, it received a whopping 58 million dollar loan for its revival. If you think that this is bad for Canada, you are wrong. It is our country which is on the line and by being the no. 1 importer of asbestos, we have signed our own death warrant. Unlike cigarette packs (which affect just the smoker and the unfortunate people around him/her) that have statutory warnings, asbestos products (which affect millions of people) carry no such warnings.

There are three types of asbestos that are commonly used – blue asbestos, brown asbestos and white asbestos. Blue and brown asbestos release fibres that are the most dangerous due to their size and shape. Vested interests argue that the amount of fibre released from white asbestos is not enough to kill a person and that the people vetoing the use of white asbestos in countries that have not yet banned it are those who want to make money out of the suing process. They identify law firms, the organizations that work for the removal of asbestos, doctors and others who speak up against it as the ‘principal conspirators’.  In my opinion, this is just a load of trash and a substance if known to cause harm to people, even if not lethal SHOULD be banned.The WHO has furnished a report which clearly states that all forms of asbestos are carcinogenic. Exposure to asbestos fibres is known to cause asbestosis, mesothelioma and lung cancer. When materials containing asbestos get damaged or deteriorated, they release fibres that enter the lungs and get embedded in the tissues that line them. So at no rate should asbestos and asbestos products be drilled, sawn, scrubbed or perturbed in any way, without consulting experts.

“It is the greatest of all mistakes to do nothing because you can only do little – do what you can“
– Sydney Smith

  • STOP  using asbestos and asbestos products.
  • Hold discussions in schools, colleges and offices and make people aware of the ill effects of the use of asbestos.
  • Find alternatives or possible ways to avoid the use of asbestos. Since I am no expert in that line, I have found a few websites that give us a list of alternatives to asbestos.

If you would like to read further about this issue, please take a look at

Be informed and inform other people.

We might not be able to root it out, but we can definitely curb it 🙂


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This entry was posted on September 12, 2012 by in Environment, India and tagged , , .

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