South Africa's Export Trade in Asbestos: Demise of an Industry

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BackgroundSouth Africa's export of each of its three types of asbestos, crocidolite, amosite, and chrysotile, and the total amounts to 84 countries in metric tonnes is examined over a 24-year period, 1980-2003.MethodsFor convenience, the countries are divided into nine world regional groups, Europe, Eastern Europe, North America with the Caribbean, South America, Africa, Middle East, Far East, South Asia, and Oceania.ResultsThe three greatest importing countries of total asbestos in metric tonnes were all in the Far East region, ranging from Japan, South Korea to Thailand, and followed by USA and Italy. All exports to all countries diminished steadily as the South African trade came virtually to an end by 2003, due to ever increasing international pressure.ConclusionThe export trade has changed significantly since 1960 from being dominantly to European countries to being directed in recent years to the Far East, with serious implications for asbestos-related ill-health in those countries. Am. J. Ind. Med. 53:524- 534, 2010. © 2010 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

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