An anti-asbestos campaign worldwide resulted in ceasing of the import and production of asbestos in 60 countries including EU, USA, Australia, Japan and Korea. Thai academia together with civil society including the consumer protection network revealed health hazards from asbestos exposure especially chrysotile which causes pleural mesothelioma. This controversial issue was brought to the National Health Assembly 2010 to find a consensus on how to solve the problem, which concern health and investment.
The resolution from the assembly was submitted to the National Health Commission, chaired by the Prime Minister on 25 February 2011. The Commission issued a resolution on banning the import of all types of this mineral.
The Premiere assigned the Ministry of Public Health as the focal point to coordinate the involved agencies to comply with the resolution. The involved agencies include the Ministry of Interior to control demolition, deconstruction renovation and extension of buildings, the Ministry of Commerce to control the asbestos’ import and the Office of the Consumer Protection Board to monitor and issue the list of asbestos containing products.
In addition, the Ministry of Finance will consider the feasibility to increase the asbestos import tax and decrease the import tax of asbestos substitutes that are not dangerous to people’s health. The Prime Minister’s Office will supplement an additional measure for the construction of government buildings that prohibits the use of asbestos containing materials.
On 11 March, during the 20th Asian Conference on Occupational Health held at the Emmerald Hotel and participated by representatives from 20 countries, the Federation of Occupational Health, Safety and Environment including the Association of Occupational health and Safety; the Association of Occupational and Environmental Diseases of Thailand; and the Association of Occupational Health Nurses in cooperation withDepartment of Disease Control, Ministry of Public Health launched a press conference in order to support the Premier in banning asbestos in Thailand.
Prof. Dr.Pornchai Sithisarankul, responsible for technical support of the Federation and a head of the Specialized Medical Centre on Occupational Medicine and Environmental Medicine, Department of Medical Services,stated that the Federation fully supported the National Health Commission resolution and appealed the Premier in pushing forward the agenda for the cabinet’s consideration, so that production and import of asbestos is banned from the nation by the year 2012.
This will benefit in health safety of all people especially the risk groups who work intiles and break fibre industries as these products rank the first and secondrespectively in terms of asbestos use in production. The Ministry of Publich Health and International Labor Organization (ILO) will take further action on training medical staffs in monitering patients affected by hazardous asbestos.
“Diagnosis of diseases is difficult as incubation of pleural mesothelioma from asbestos exposure takes up to 30-40 years, while inhaling only small amounts can increase the risk of health hazards. So far, it has been found that some risk groups inhale 3 Kgs./person/year, and it can be detected only when symptoms like coughing or having tight chest show. And that is already the dangerous phase”, Prof.Dr.Sithisarankul added.
NHCO Press Release dated 25 February 2011
Post Today dated 26 February 2011.
Matichon dated 12 March 2011