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Plans to end asbestos-use,  related disease nationwide

Laos plans to put an end to asbestos-related diseases among workers by banning the use of the material to stop exposure, according to a leading official.
Speaking to local media on Wednesday, Minister of Labour and Social Welfare, Dr Khampheng Saysompheng said nations around the world including Asean member countries must stop the use of asbestos as a construction material.   
“Urgent action is required to prevent the extended use of asbestos as a construction material and banning all forms of asbestos to protect lives, support safer economic growth and ensure social stability in the country under the National Action Plan,” he said.
The National Action Plan’s aim is to eliminate asbestos-related diseases among workers, noting that, “all forms of asbestos can

cause cancer in humans and no threshold has been identified for the carcinogenic risks”.
He said the government would join other countries to protect their labour force as they finalise the policy to eliminate asbestos-related diseases among workers. Asbestos is often used in building products such as roof tiles and wall sheeting.
Chrysotile asbestos is still being imported into the country and used in the building industry; the amount of imported asbestos has been increasing from about 3.375 tonnes in 2010 reaching over 8,000 tonnes in 2013, he said.  
In future, authorities will raise awareness among officials about asbestos-related diseases and report on the effects of asbestos to local people through various channels, as many in society are unaware of the toxic effects of this household material, he added.
 “We will also have a workshop to discuss the national action plan for the elimination of asbestos-related diseases in Laos,” Dr Khampheng added.
The government, including the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare, has worked with non-government organisations and development partners to actively discuss how to protect workers and eliminate asbestos-related diseases in the future.
An official from the Ministry of Health said Laos was one of the highest users of asbestos in the world per capita. The country has 16 roof tile factories that use asbestos, that employ more than 500 people.
One of the factories has closed as part of efforts by authorities to end the industrial use of asbestos by 2020.
He said it was well known that asbestos and chrysotile could cause cancer. About 125 million people in the world come into contact with asbestos and chrysotile in their offices and workplaces.
About 107,000 people die each year from lung cancer and fibrosis of the lungs as a result of inhaling asbestos or chrysotile, according to the World Health Organisation.

By Phetphoxay Sengpaseuth
(Latest Update
June 23,

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