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No clear cut policy on banning asbestos

Article No 18188

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Posted on June 13, 2011 by Writer

By Ifham Nizam
The Government had not taken a clear cut policy on banning asbestos, immediately, Environment Minister Anura Priyadharshana Yapa said.
He told The Island yesterday that replacing roofing sheets is a very costly affair. Thus, there won’t be immediate steps to ban it.
He said that however, steps will be taken to minimize the use of various kinds of asbestos that are banned in a majority of the countries.
He says it is impossible to ban roofing sheets when the country is on track for rapid development. Apart from that, replacing thousands of roofs on buildings particularly schools is a herculean task, a senior official said.
Recently a special committee was appointed by the Central Environment Authority (CEA) to look into the health hazards posed by Asbestos roofing sheets. It is a well known fact that asbestos causes cancer, respiratory and other dangerous diseases.
Central Environment Authority Chairman Charitha Herath said the use of asbestos is banned in some countries, whereas in others it is not.
“This has created an open market for us in Sri Lanka. There are multiple opinions about its uses from it being hazardous to health to it being otherwise. People’s speculation raised the need for the CEA to take up the responsibility and appoint a committee.”
The committee is made up of various departments and associations including the CEA, Ministry of Health, the National Cancer Hospital, Customs Department and Sri Lanka Standards Institute.
The responsibility of this committee is to find out if the use of Asbestos roofing sheets is actually hazardous to health and seek out solutions thereafter. “We have already asked the Moratuwa University to work out a report and hope to discuss the issue in the next two weeks,” he added.
Herath also said that they did not hope to ban the use of roofing sheets until the committee studied its effects.
“People tend to misinterpret these matters and worry for no reason. We do not hope to cause any alarm until we get to the truth of this issue. The intention of the committee is to study the situation, and come up with policies that should be taken into consideration,” he added.

June 8, 2011, 12:00 pm

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