Friday, October 16, 2015

Asbestos – another HOT POTATO we will be confronted with for years.

It is admirable that the President had a meeting with interested parties on his intention of banning ALL Asbestos related substances by 2018. I trust even the major 5 Asbestos sheeting manufacturers were also present, though I have a sneaky feeling they were not invited.

On the last point, IT IS VITAL that all employees who are exposed to Asbestos dust, especially in manufacturing are protected as far as is practically possible. So as far as President’s initiatives are concerned these Manufacturer representatives should already be taking these precautions with Govt. health and safety experts inspecting the Companies for compliance.

I recently saw some paid expert saying the Asbestos in Sri Lanka is NOT harmful, and that it was definitely overkill on the part of the President to take this drastic step. I disagree, all developed Countries have rules with regard to this, and we should also follow the same rules. It is puerile to say that roofing costs will go up, and therefore it is against the Country’s interest to ban.

I challenge this myth created by the Asbestos lobby, who must take the challenge and diversify into other cheaper roofing alternatives, after raking in the enormous profits they have salted away from the poor man’s misery, as they have simply been unable to self regulate their business. That is why the Govt. checks in and tries to take action on behalf of the whole nation, and not personal interest alone.

IT IS IMPORTANT that we stop this rumor of Asbestos NOT being harmful, immediately and act accordingly. It is not just asbestosis that we are trying to prevent. It is a carcinogenic agent, and we have enough cases of cancer detected each day, and we must go about finding the causes of this one by one, and take action on all the areas that contribute, and more importantly make the public aware of the consequences of all their actions as it affects their health.

If the panel were headed by health experts, I am sure we could be more forceful, and I note the respected Secretary of the Health Services, Dr Mahipala was amongst the Public Officials present. Don’t forget however that Public Officials in general have no clue on this issue and have to be guided by experts. However if the experts who are easily corrupted by money, are bought and paid for by the Asbestos lobby, incorrect myths will start to spread, putting pressure on the Govt. to lighten some of the regulations. I would advise the Govt. to be wary of the presence of such interlocutors, and act with caution in the public interest.   

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