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Ministries to prohibit white asbestos, NA deputies indecisive

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While the Ministries of Health and Construction have repeatedly urged the government to prohibit the use of white asbestos, National Assembly deputies say there must be more thorough research on the substance.

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While asbestos is used to make fibro cement roofs


Deputy Minister of Construction Nguyen Van Sinh said that white asbestos is widely used in Vietnam in many industries, including automobile, anti-fire material production and textiles & garments. White asbestos is also used to make fibro cement roofs, with about 50,000 tons per annum. 

The total designed capacity of roofing production lines in Vietnam has reached 94.4 million square meters per annum. However, the total consumption of white asbestos decreased by 30 percent in the last three years because of the roofing consumption decline.

MOH has called for a plan to stop using white asbestos to make roofing by 2023, citing a report of WHO and ILO that shows that asbestos is a toxic material which can cause cancer to users.

The organizations estimate 107,000 deaths occur each year because of lung and mesothelioma cancer and asbestos-related pneumoconiosis. Asbestos is prohibited in 54 countries. 

MOH said that Vietnam does not need any further research on the impact of white asbestos on human health.

Mai Si Dien, head of the Thanh Hoa provincial Delegation of National Assembly Deputies questioned why the two ministries, since 2014, have been building a roadmap to stop using white asbestos. Under the initial plan, the roadmap would cover the period from 2020 to 2030.

“MOH only cites the recommendations of WHO, while Vietnam still doesn’t have proof of the harm of white asbestos on human health,” Dien said, adding that there might be an interest group in the industry.

Sharing the same view, a member of the National Assembly’s Economics Committee, Doan Thi Thanh Mai, doubts if this is a signal of an unhealthy completion among enterprises.

Bui Thanh Tung, a National Assembly Deputy from Hai Phong City, said he has never heard complaints from people that roofing made of white asbestos may cause cancer.

Tung went on to say that the argument by MOH on the relation between white asbestos and cancer is a ‘unilateral argument’, adding that Vietnam must not prohibit the use of white asbestos until there is clear scientific evidence about the damaging effects of the material.

He stressed that the Prime Minister had assigned MOH to carry out research on the issue in Vietnam before suggesting solutions to deal with white asbestos.

“One must not make conclusions if there is no scientific evidence,” he said. 

Meanwhile, scientists affirmed that no cases of mesothelioma and lung cancer related to white asbestos have been found in recent years.



Source: VietNamNet

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