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by Barry Castleman Environmental Health (2016) 15:8


“As the result of social movements around the world, asbestos is banned in over 50 countries. Yet most of the world’s people live in countries where asbestos is still used, often with few if any protective measures. No other industry has a comparable record of documented bad practices in occupational and environmental health. In the US, decades of litigation over asbestos injury compensation have pried loose a vast number of internal documents from the asbestos companies. These corporate documents reveal a veritable encyclopedia of menacing business practices.

This record includes :

  • the suppression of medical and experimental findings
  • manipulation of published reports
  • suppression of reference to asbestos hazards in the trade press
  • publication of statements and reports by trade associations that asbestos products are not toxic
  • withholding of information on asbestos disease from governmental authorities
  • prolonged violation after regulations required health warning labels on asbestos products
  • marketing of products without warning labels in some countries after starting to affix warnings on the same products in other countries
  • targeting of doctors raising public awareness about asbestos hazards
  • settlement of damage suits on condition that the lawyer representing the workers file no more such cases
  • non-disclosure to employees of asbestosis revealed in their medical examinations
  • firing workers and busting unions for protesting asbestos hazards
  • firing and replacing workers before they had time to develop asbestos diseases from their exposures
  • exporting banned asbestos products
  • labeling asbestos-containing products “asbestos-free”
  • removing the word “asbestos” in advertising asbestos products bearing no warnings
  • selling asbestos for use in children’s modeling compounds
  • sub-contracting of hazardous asbestos maintenance work
  • wanton disposal of wastes around asbestos factories
  • prolonged failure to take basic sanitary precautions to keep workers from taking asbestos dust home to their families on their clothes

Individual countries must overcome the influence of the asbestos-exporting countries and asbestos companies and stop building with asbestos, as recommended by WHO, ILO, and World Bank”.