Few in Vietnam
recognise dangers of asbestos
HA NOI (VNS) — A recent survey revealed that 85 per cent of
households in northern Yen Bai and Thanh Hoa provinces in Vietnam used
roofing sheets made with asbestos.
Asbestos has been proven to harm human health, causing diseases
such as lung and esophageal cancer and pneumoconiosis, Tran Anh Thanh
from the Ministry of Health (MOH)'s Environment Management Agency said
at a workshop on Thursday.
Only five per cent of survey respondents were aware about the
risks of exposure to asbestos and only 25 per cent knew asbestos was
used in the production of roofing sheets.
After being warned about the risks of exposure, 65 per cent of
the households wanted to replace their roofing sheets.
"We must first communicate the danger of asbestos to human
health and the environment and together the country will work toward a
timeline for the ban of asbestos use," said Nguyen An Luong from the
Labour Safety Department.
People in rural and mountain areas use these roofing sheets
because they are cheap and durable, said Nguyen Manh Hung from the Viet
Nam Standards and Consumer Protection Association. According to Hung,
there are 41 facilities producing roofing sheets made with asbestos in
the country, exposing about 5,000 workers to the harmful mineral on a
Viet Nam recognised asbestos-related diseases as occupational
diseases since 1976 but routine health checks for workers have been
largely ineffective to prevent them.
The MOH also urged the Ministry of Construction and the
Ministry of Science and Technology to limit the use of asbestos and
invest in research and development to find an alternative material.
More than 40 countries in the world have agreed to prohibit the
use of asbestos. In Viet Nam, however, consumption is increasing with
78,000 tons used in 2012, said head consultant from the International
Labour Organisation Phillip Healton. — VNS