Insight into roof tile industry after the massive flooding: Do we find lung cancer or crooked scheme?

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11 December 2011

Siam Rath

Though the massive flooding situation in Thailand has gradually been relieved, it left behind major damages to homes and properties that need to be repaired and restored. Some experts have warned flood victims of a cancer risk they may get when pulling down the Asbestos-containing damaged roof tiles. This issue has long been argued between the two groups of experts; the pro-ban and the anti-ban group. According to Dr. Somchai Borwonkitti, there was no substantial evidence to back up the assumption that Asbestos Chrysotile is risky to one’s health and for over 70 years that the substance has been used in Thailand, also there was no report of a patient who suffered from asbestos-related illness. Dr. Somchai also said that the pro-ban group consists of academic and medical experts, who have tried to disseminate only one side of the information about Asbestos Chrysotile. This could mislead people and also blew the asbestos situation in Thailand out of all proportion. The fact is that Amphibole Asbestos is truly hazardous and rapidly fatal.

Like many countries around the world, Thailand has already banned this material for over 20 years. However, the pro-ban group has never attempted to talk about the fact that Chrysotile is different from other kinds of Asbestos. The two groups are completely chemically and mineralogically distinct. In contrast with Amphiboles, Chrysotile can be quickly eliminated by the body. World Health Assembly once reported that Chrysotile can be safely used with proper construction like other kinds of material.

The question is why some experts specifically want a ban on Asbestos-containing roof tiles? Why did they have to rush on the ban? Chrysotile has been proven useful and allowed in 130 countries all over the world indicating that it is not as dangerous as it is portrayed in Thailand. Therefore, the Asbestos ban commission should work and consider carefully before approving the ban for the sake of Thai people.

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