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Human Safety Takes a Back Seat to Asbestos Profits in India

By Mike Riley on August 14, 2014

The World Health Organization, the International Labor Organization, virtually all of the world’s medical community and the credible scientific community have declared for years that no level of asbestos exposure is safe for humans. We’ve known for decades that asbestos exposure is the only cause of malignant mesothelioma, a horrible and aggressive cancer usually diagnosed in the lining of the lungs.

Yet somehow, the asbestos industry in India has become a two billion dollar powerhouse, putting thousands of workers and citizens at risk of developing mesothelioma and other asbestos-related cancers and diseases. The asbestos industry was once a behemoth in the United States, peaking in the decades from the 1940s into the 1970s as the deadly fiber was used heavily in shipyards, power plants, paper mills and virtually every type of residential, commercial and industrial construction. The result has been the largest epidemic of occupational disease in US history, as hundreds of thousands of Americans have suffered from asbestos-related diseases. Even though the US banned most uses of asbestos in the 1970s, the medical epidemic continues today, because asbestos diseases like mesothelioma typically take from 20 to 50 to develop in humans after the exposure to asbestos occurs.

It’s mind boggling that a nation as advanced as India can allow the use of asbestos on a widespread scale. The reason for this is simple: money. Because asbestos fibers can be mined so inexpensively, the industry is extraordinarily profitable. Some of those profits have been used to fund studies designed with the sole purpose of creating doubt about the dangers of asbestos exposure. The asbestos industry has been successful in finding scientists willing to accept large amounts of money, in return for publishing studies questioning whether asbestos is truly hazardous. These studies have been ridiculed by legitimate scientists, doctors and health organizations around the world. However, that hasn’t prevented the asbestos industry from capitalizing on the poverty in India by pushing cheaper asbestos-containing construction products there.

Read more details of this disturbing situation here.