Friday, November 19, 2004

Confronting the Global Asbestos Tragedy

The bad news is that “Every hour, another American dies from asbestos-related cancers.” The good news, according to our friend Barry Castleman, writing in today’s Washington Post, is that “asbestos use in the United states has continued to plummet.” This despite continuing imports and the inability to pass Senator Patty Murray’s (D-WA) “Ban Asbestos In America Act,” which would shut down the remains of the asbestos industry here and stop importation of products containing asbestos.

The news around the rest of the world is not as happy, however. While many countries have banned asbestos, our normally more liberal friends north of the border (that would be Canada for the geographically challenged) continue to be the world's largest exporter of asbestos and an aggressive challenger of other countries’ efforts to ban the deadly mineral.

Castleman calls for help from international lending institutions such as the World bank to assist countries to phase out asbestos production and use, assist countries in converting asbestos-cement plant to safer materials, and “promote construction practices for the careful renovation and demolition of asbestos structures. “