Stay away from asbestos

Published by rudy Date posted on April 27, 2011

MANILA, Philippines – Thousands of Filipino workers and their families are at risk of inhaling asbestos, with as much as 6,000 metric tons of the substance imported to the country each year.

The Associated Labor Unions (ALU), Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP), and Building and Wood Workers International (BWI) made the statement this week as they called on the government to reduce the exposure of workers to asbestos and asbestos containing materials.

Citing estimates from the World Health Organization (WHO), the 3 groups said about 107 workers across the globe die each year of asbestos-related diseases.

Regular and prolonged exposure to asbestos fibers increases the risk of developing lung cancer and other types of lung diseases such as mesothelioma and asbestosis.

“Imports of 4,000 to 6,000 metric tons of highly hazardous asbestos and asbestos-containing materials every year highlight the risks that thousands of Filipino working men and women and their families are exposed to killer dust,” the groups said in a statement.

Asbestos in the home

Asbestos is a substance commonly used in fiber cement boards, packaging materials, and friction and mechanical parts such as brakes and clutch linings in motor vehicles.

It is also found in houses, schools, churches, public buildings, malls and other similar structures.

If materials in your home — such as corrugated cement sheets and side wall panels — contain asbestos, don’t fret. Amado de Jesus, founding chairman of the Philippines Green Architecture Movement, had said that this is not a problem as long as the materials remain intact.

“Generally, material in good condition will not release asbestos fibers,” he wrote in an article in the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

Here are some tips from de Jesus and advice from information website eHow on avoiding exposure to asbestos in damaged housing materials:

* Have a qualified professional identify, remove and replace materials that contain asbestos. Do not do this yourself — this may be more hazardous than leaving the materials alone.
* Do not sand, scrape, saw or drill holes on asbestos containing materials.
* Do not sweep, vacuum or walk on asbestos debris. If necessary, clean the area with a damp mop.
* Do not sand or level asbestos flooring. –

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