The efforts of the Russian Federal State Unitary Enterprise “NAMI” to ban the use of asbestos in automotive friction products in the Eurasian Economic Community are being rebuffed by stakeholders and special interest groups like the Russian Chrysotile Association.
According to Coordinator of International Ban Asbestos Secretariat (IBAS) Laurie Kazan-Allen, the Russian Chrysotile Association has even appealed to Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, in order to aid its fight in blocking the ban and keeping the asbestos industry as is in the country.
Such opposition has been apparent for years, as an August 2008 event titled “Chrysotile Asbestos: Problems of Its Production and Application in Russia and Elsewhere,” heard from a number of Chrysotile Association representatives, who claimed that asbestos can absolutely be handled properly in certain conditions.
Additionally, an asbestos company director claimed his workers had not suffered an asbestos-related disease such as asbestosis or malignant mesothelioma in the previous 30 years, while a medical director asserted the risks of such illnesses were, in fact, very real.
Vested Interests Aside, Asbestos Poses Real Danger
While officials from the asbestos industry quite obviously have vested interests in preventing a ban of the carcinogenic material, the fact remains that even low-level exposure to asbestos can have devastating consequences.
Notably, the symptoms of diseases such as lung cancer, mesothelioma and asbestosis, typically do not appear until decades after initial exposure, so reports that workers have not been affected by exposure to the material may be premature at this stage.
Additionally, it is clear that asbestos exposure can be deadly, as the World Health Organization estimates that 107,000 people die each year around the world as a result of asbestos-related illnesses.
President of Collegium Ramazzini Backs Asbestos Ban
With the debate growing between special interests and those looking to ban asbestos use, president of the Collegium Ramazzini Dr. Philip Landrigan recently penned a letter to Dr. Tatiana Golikova, Russia’s Minister of Health and Social Development, saying he was in support of the ban.
“Asbestos exposure from grinding brake pads and cleaning brake assemblies is a widely recognized health hazard,” Dr. Landrigan wrote. “Manufacturers of new cars and trucks all over the world have converted to safer technologies. China and over 50 other countries have banned the use of asbestos in vehicle friction materials.”
As a result, Dr. Landrigan told the health minister that he looked forward to helping in any process that could ultimately “phase-out” the use of asbestos.