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Industry seeks to ease ban on asbestos import

Jun 20. 2013
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The Industry Ministry will propose to the Cabinet that it phase out the use of chrysotile (white asbestos) fibres in the manufacture of roof tiles over several years instead of imposing a total ban on its import, as for some products there is no good subs

The proposal accepts an immediate ban on chrysotile as a raw material in the production of wall panels and rubber floor tiles, as there are alternative materials. Relevant state agencies must issue regulations to impose and enforce this ban within a two-year preparation period.

However, the ministry proposes that the ban on chrysotile as a raw material in the production of roof tiles, vehicle brake pads, and concrete piles not be implemented for five years, because of the lack of solid evidence on the harmful effect of asbestos on human health and inadequate preventive measures. Moreover, the ban on such products would adversely affect consumers, society and the economy, it says.

Amid the growing health concerns over the harmful effects of asbestos on human health, the social, economic and legal impacts a ban on the substance would bring must also be considered, said Nattapon Nattasomboon, director-general of the Department of Industrial Works.

After the Cabinet approves a ban on the use of asbestos, the Industrial Works Department must enforce it by exercising its authority as granted under the Factory Act to specify the type, quality and content ratio of a raw material as used by factories, as well as its source, he added.

Inclusion of asbestos as a Type 4 hazardous material and a total ban on its import would impose adverse impacts on some products (for example heat-insulation materials, fire-resistant suits and fire extinguishers) for which there are no equivalent substitutes, he said.

The Industrial Works Department has supported an end to the use of asbestos, but vague implementation plans in the past and preparation periods for factories to make necessary adjustments have delayed the process. The department will disseminate information to increase public awareness on the harmful effects of asbestos on human health. It hopes consumers will then oblige producers gradually to yield to their wishes and stop using it.

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