Pakistan Committee Urges a Ban on Importing Asbestos
By Warren Miller. 30th January 2013
Pakistan’s Committee on Human Resource Development have recommended a complete ban on the import and use of asbestos in 22 industries in Pakistan to safeguard the health of its workers.
The committee met at the Parliament House in December 2012 and their findings will be forwarded to the Ministry of Commerce and Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) for a ban on importing asbestos.
The use of Asbestos has been banned in 55 countries, but is still used in Pakistan in various industries including: cement manufacture, clothing, plastics, chemical filters, brake linings, clutches, construction, heat resistant insulators and furnaces.
The committee was made aware of the dangers of asbestos exposure and the chances of developing diseases like asbestosis, pleural thickening and asbestos related cancers.
Expert opinion was sought from the Centre for the Improvement of Working Conditions and Environment (CIWCE) Lahore director. He recommended a ban on importing asbestos but with exceptions granted to products with little chance of human exposure and marked benefits of the use of asbestos.
Pakistan has consumed more than 35,000 tonnes of asbestos since 2009. This excessive use of asbestos was highlighted by a recent court case:
Asbestos Case Reviewed by Pakistan Supreme Court
The plaintiff was the brother of a man who died recently of asbestos cancer. He worked as a maintenance engineer in a factory in Karachi.
The factory is owned by Dadex Eternit Ltd, which produces asbestos cement building materials, widely used in sewage pipes and roofing materials in Karachi, Lahore and Hyderabad. An occupational health expert who recently visited a Dadex plant in Pakistan reported that the workers he observed were operating in an unsafe environment.
A link was established between the cancer and prolonged exposure to asbestos in the factory and a complaint was filed by the family with The Environmental Protection Tribunal in Karachi urging a ban of asbestos in Pakistan.
The Dangers of Asbestos Use in Pakistan
The dangers of asbestos were highlighted in a presentation to the 2006 Asian Asbestos Conference in Bangkok. At the Conference, Noor Jehan, a Geologist concluded that exposure to asbestos was an everyday occurrence in Pakistan.
She had conducted a range of tests, including product sampling from various factories, mills, mines and residential areas. She concluded that the widespread asbestos contamination was endangering not only the lives of industrial and mine workers, but also children, housewives, hospital workers, patients and teachers.
She noted that there was no health and safety legislation in Pakistan for asbestos exposure and no procedure in place for claiming compensation for asbestos diseases such as Asbestosis and Pleural Thickening.
If you have any questions about claiming compensation for an asbestos disease, please call us on Free Phone: 0800 923 0046 and ask for Warren Miller or Kathy Cooke.