One would assume that with all the evidence about the dangers of asbestos and the diseases it can cause that countries throughout the world would halt its use.
Yet, asbestos importing and exporting trade in 2015 amounted to approximately $344 million USD and continues going strong according to Research and Markets, a large market research company.
Russia is still the leader in asbestos trade, with most mines operating in the appropriately-named city of Asbest, located on the eastern slopes of the Ural Mountains and home to about 70,000 residents, many of whom work in the mines.
Many young people have made their way out of the area, intent on leaving this toxic wasteland, but thousands still remain and most are sick with a persistent cough, reports have said.
The Russians exported $191 million USD to other countries, accounting for about 56 percent of all global exports. The rest of the exports came from Brazil, China, India, and Kazakhstan.
China was the fastest-growing exporter, increasing its numbers by nearly 40 percent per year in the last eight years, the report states. India’s asbestos industry also continues to grow, though not as quickly, with a 7.6 percent increase per year since 2007.
That may make one wonder who’s using all of this asbestos and why use would continue despite the known hazards of all types of asbestos, including chrysotile, which mining companies maintain is a “safe” variety of asbestos.
Indonesia was, in fact, one of the largest consumers of asbestos and has been for quite some time. Imports to that country have grown by 14 percent per year over the last 7 years.
Sri Lanka and Vietnam also accepted a large amount of imported asbestos, and the reports also show that China and India continue to make widespread use of asbestos in those countries, likely mostly in the manufacture of building products.
Hence, the asbestos trade continues to prosper, despite the fact that the World Health Organization (WHO) has been rallying for years for a worldwide ban on the use of the mineral. In a short document simply entitled “Chrysotile Asbestos”, the agency wrote:
“Bearing in mind that there is no evidence for a threshold for the carcinogenic effect of asbestos, including chrysotile, and that increased cancer risks have been observed in populations exposed to very low levels, the most efficient way to eliminate asbestos-related diseases is to stop using all types of asbestos.”
Each year in the U.S., about 2,500 individuals are diagnosed with asbestos-caused cancer and thousands more suffer from less-serious asbestos-related diseases, including asbestosis.
In countries where asbestos use continued until just a handful of years ago – like England and Australia – those numbers are even higher. The American Cancer Society and the National Institutes of Health have stated that they don’t expect diagnosed cases of mesothelioma to level off, and then decline, for at least four more years.
That means thousands more Americans will suffer due to the negligent use of asbestos and companies’ disregard for the health of those who were exposed in the workplace or elsewhere.