Asbestos may cause harmful health: WHO

Many Vietnamese people suffer lung diseases and cancer owing to exclusive exposure to Asbestos, but may not be diagnosed early.

This news was released at a scientific seminar ' How Asbestos affects health' held by the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Science and Technology and the World Health Organization ( WHO) on July 17 in Hanoi.

Deputy health minister Nguyen Thanh Long pointed out at the seminar that Vietnam is one of ten countries which use Asbestos much in the world. WHO and international cancer researchers did warn of the straight link of Asbestos to cancer and lung diseases. Realizing that Asbestos can cause harm to human health, the Ministry of Health has issued a guideline for protecting the workers' health.

Diseases caused by Asbestos exposure are included in insured profession indexes in the country. 'Asbestos should not considerd as the most effective way to eliminate Asbestos-related diseases', said deputy health minister Long.

Science and Technology Deputy Minister Tran Van Tung said that Asbestos is only used in technology for defense and nuclear power plants.  It is also used as roof sheets suiting in outbuildings, warehouses and garages.

People in mountainous districts even deploy Asbestos sheet for collecting rain-water for daily activities.

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Tran Van Thuan, deputy director of the Hanoi-based K Hospital said that those who have exposed to the dangerous substance over 30 years are at highly risk of getting lung cancer. The incubation is around 20-30 years. Laborers who exposed to Asbestos develop lung diseases when they are retired and their document can be lost already; thus researches on effects of Asbestos is limited in developing nations.

WHO's calculation showed that approximately 100,000 people in the world are killed and more than 1.5 million people are terminally ill by asbestos exposure.

Consequently, both WHO and the International Labor Organization warned a total prohibition of Asbestos to delete Asbestos-related diseases.

Vietnam has over 15,000 new cancer patients and more than 75,000 cancer-related deaths every year. Since 2000, Vietnam has imported an average of 6,000 tons of Asbestos per year and most Asbestos is used for manufacturing cement Asbestos sheets.

By Quoc Lap - translated by Uyen Phuong

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