1722c Asbestos related diseases in asia: trends and perspectives

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Asbestos production and consumption

Asbestos has not been widely used in Asia before 1970s. Asbestos consumption reached the peak in 1980s (Japan, Singapore) and 1990s (Korea). Since then, the consumption has sharply dropped in those countries. However, asbestos is continuously used in many Asian countries. The estimated amount of consumption in Asia is still approximately 2 million metric tons. More than Two-third of asbestos is being used in Asia while less than 20% had been consumed before 1970s. Most asbestos consumed in Asia was produced in China or imported from Canada and Russia.

Asbestos-related diseases

Japan showed sharp increase of mesothelioma since 2005 and the number of mesothelioma has continuously increased in Korea since 2000. However, most Asian countries do not have data of asbestos-related diseases (ARD). The reasons would be the time lag between the exposure and outcomes and the lack of resources (accessibility, equipment, skilled manpower) needed for detecting ARDs.

Policies and practices

Japan banned asbestos in 2006 after experiencing massive outbreak of ARDs, and followed by Korea (2009) and Brunei. Singapore technically banned asbestos although they did not announce the policy of ban on asbestos. Taiwan will ban asbestos by 2018. There are some countries to struggle against strong opposition to the direction of ban on asbestos. So far, Korea and Japan ratified the ILO Convention 162, which has been done by 35 countries in the world as of 2017.

Proposals for further actions

Public awareness would be the most important factor to ban on asbestos in Asian countries. Social pressure would make the government do an action. Detecting cases of ARDs would be the effective way of persuading the policy makers based on Korean experience. A continuous pressure from international organisations or academic societies would be advantageous to those who are working on banning asbestos in the country.

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