Dozens of prestigious scientific organisations and scientists from around the world have called on India to end its ‘discredited’ efforts to keep chrysotile asbestos outside the scope of a United Nations treaty on toxic exports.
A study by India’s National Institute of Occupational Health is being used to support the Indian government’s argument, and concludes there is no evidence that chrysotile asbestos is harming workers in India. It is the key evidence submitted by India in its bid to block listing of the human carcinogen at the Rotterdam Convention conference in Geneva in May. The Convention does not ban products, but sets safety standards to promote responsible trade in hazardous substances.
“The study has no scientific credibility,” said Philip Landrigan, the president of the Collegium Ramazzini and a signatory to a statement sent to the Indian government calling for it to withdraw the paper. “It is flawed in the design, methodology and interpretation of the results.” Photos in the study show some workers wearing a cotton scarf tied around their face as their only “safety equipment”.
The study also shows workers weaving asbestos cloth. This is one of the most hazardous uses of asbestos. The statement notes that the conclusion of the study “is unacceptable to any credible scientists or scientific community. The world scientific community has overwhelmingly concluded that chrysotile asbestos causes deadly diseases, such as asbestosis, mesothelioma and lung and other cancers, and that it cannot be safely used.”
It requests that the government of India “withdraw the NIOH study, which does not hold up to any credible scientific scrutiny and do the right thing by supporting the listing of chrysotile asbestos at the upcoming UN conference.”
RightOnCanada.ca news release. Study of health hazards/Environmental hazards resulting from use of chrysotile variety of Asbestos in the country, National Institute of Occupational Health (India). Rotterdam Convention. Risks 696.