Asbestos World Watch For March 20th, 2009

In SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA, it took four years after notifying residents in public housing riddled with asbestos until they were informed that the asbestos would be removed.
The Cape Breton Island Housing Authority informed the residents on March 5, 2009, of Ashby and Whitney Pier Terraces that the roofing would be replaced later in the spring of that year. Before work on the roof can be done, the asbestos present must be removed according to standards set by the industry.

The residents were told that during the asbestos removal and roofing work, they would have to find another place to stay since the risk of exposure to asbestos from the remodeling work was too great.

The total to remove the vermiculite asbestos from the 60 units was estimated to be between $288,000-330,000 (Australian). Additional funds for the roofing work were to be added to that number.

In the UNITED KINGDOM, a report released in Occupational Medicine noted that annually 3,000 die in driving accidents but more than 7,000 perish each year from occupational-caused cancer including mesothelioma and lung cancers from asbestos exposure.

John McClean, the GMB national health and safety officer, noted that: “All too often, new substances and technology are launched without any research into the carcinogenic side-effects,” he said, adding: “Employers should be held directly responsible if they expose their workers to dangerous substances.”

Perhaps if McClean’s “preventative principle” had been heeded in the early 20th century, asbestos could have been tested more extensively before being used in construction materials.

The numbers from the report also call for an increase in the level of awareness of diseases caused by exposure to toxins in the workplace. An estimated one million Britons were exposed to potentially cancer-causing substances each year at work. The listing of these in the report was over 250 and included asbestos.

Britain has the highest death rate from asbestos in the world.