From: Miriam Kresh, Green Prophet
Published June 5, 2012 05:00 PM

Asbestos Exposure Raises Cancer Rates in Lebanon

Asbestos, linked directly to mesothelioma, a rare form of lung cancer, is still present in many products used daily in Lebanon. But there's no protection for workers or the population at large.

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In 1998, Lebanon submitted to popular pressure and banned asbestos imports. In 2000, Eternit, the country's major importer of asbestos closed down. But almost no action has been taken to prevent usage of remaining asbestos products or to find substitutes for them. Sudden environmental disasters such as the recent carpet fire in Safra and protesters burning rubber tires plague the beleaguered country. But asbestos exposure, which leads to mesothelioma, a fatal form of lung cancer specific to asbestos exposure, is an ongoing issue that isn't being addressed. The worst part is that the dangerous material is still being imported and used.

There are no protected waste dumps for asbestos products in Lebanon. And under an outdated law that permits imports of Crysotile, or "white asbestos," importers are still bringing in the cancer-linked mineral. The reasoning is that Crysotile is "less dangerous" than other types of asbestos.

In an interview with the Daily Star, Dr. Joseph Kattan doctor of hematology and oncology at Hotel Dieu Hospital, describes all asbestos as dangerous and a direct cause of mesothelioma cancer.

"Unlike various speculations on other types of cancers, there is clear and strong evidence on the cause and effect relationship between asbestos contamination and malignant mesothelioma (a rare cancer directly linked to asbestos exposure)," Kattan said. "If one type of asbestos is less aggressive, it doesn’t mean that it is not dangerous."

Article continues at Green Prophet

Image credit: David Gabel

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