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Facts on chrysotile asbestos

March 09, 2018

Email

THIS is in response to your editorial ‘Asbestos ban in industry’ (Feb 25).

Asbestos is a set of six naturally occurring silicate minerals, found in the crust of the earth’s surface in two-thirds of the world. It is present in air, water and soil owing to the natural erosion from geological formations, however risk is undetectably low.

At present the value-added high density, non-friable encapsulated chrysotile cement commercial applications/products are being manufactured, marketed and approved for use in more than 140 countries in the world.

It is important to differentiate between chrysotile fibre (white asbestos) and banned amphiboles fibers (blue and brown asbestos) on account of physical and chemical properties. Under safe and controlled conditions, there is no significant health risk to workers in the high-density chrysotile cement industry.

A recent scientific study ‘Health Risk of Chrysotile Revisited by Dr David M Bernstein (PhD in toxicology) is very reassuring that low exposure to chrysotile asbestos does not pose any serious health risk over the time.

Yes, illegal mining of asbestos in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and exposure in the shipbreaking industry is a risk, where the regulator has to play its role.

The European Union is interested in promoting its substitute products by making value- added high-density chrysotile cement products controversial. We must watch our national interest and not be carried away by the ‘Ban asbestos rhetoric’ about chrysotile fibre.

Dr Tahir Baig Barlas
Karachi

Published in Dawn, March 9th, 2018