Total ban on asbestos use pressed

Published by rudy Date posted on April 7, 2011

MANILA, Philippines — Environment and labor groups appealed to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to review and revise the “outdated” Chemical Control Order (CCO) to implement a total ban on asbestos use.

In a joint statement issued by the Ecological Waste Coalition (EcoWaste), Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP), Associated Labor Unions (ALU), Building and Wood Workers International (BWI), and Alliance of Progres-sive Labor (APL), the groups stressed the need for an immediate review and revision of CCO for asbestos issued by DENR in January 2000 to prevent lung cancer and other asbestos-related diseases among Filipinos.

Asbestos is used for thermal insulation, fire-proofing, roofing, flooring, and other construction materials.

The groups pointed out that the CCO, while banning the use of amosite (brown) and crocidolite (blue) asbestos fibers, allows the use of asbestos and asbestos-containing materials for asbestos roofing felts, cement roofing, cement flat sheet and several other applications.

They also pushed for multi-sector support to House Bills 896 and 479 on asbestos, sponsored by TUCP party-list Rep. Raymond Democrito Mendoza and Akbayan party-list Rep. Kaka Bag-ao, which were recently approved by the House Committee on Ecology.

Both bills seek to prohibit “the importation, manufacture, processing, use or distribution in commerce of asbestos and asbestos-containing products.”

The World Health Organization (WHO) cited asbestos as one of 10 chemicals or groups of chemicals listed as a “major public health concern.”

“We urge our policy makers in Congress and in the Senate to act fast on the pending bills banning asbestos use to proactively safeguard Filipino workers, their families and the general public from debilitating diseases due to exposure to asbestos and asbestos-containing materials,” said Rafael Mapalo, director for Education of TUCP.

“The development and implementation of a national program for the elimination of asbestos related diseases (NPEAD) should be fast-tracked,” added Gerard Seno, na¬tional vice president of ALU.

The NPEAD focuses on minimizing asbestos hazards and improving support mechanisms for exposed workers based on the mandates of the labor, health, environment and other departments.

“Banning asbestos and substituting it with alternative non-hazardous materials can create a safer working and living environment for all and should be acted upon without delay,” APL secretary-general Josua Mata said. –ELLALYN B. DE VERA, Manila bulletin

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