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Saturday, November 12, 2011

ALU’s Ban Asbestos Philippines Decries Serious Breach in Asbestos Removal Protocols in the Central Bank Building in Manila

The Associated labor Unions’ Ban Asbestos Philippines today called on Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz to intervene on the alleged serious breach in the asbestos removal procedures in the central bank building in Manila and save workers and employees from more significant exposure to its cancerous dust.

“We call on the government, particularly with the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz to conduct an immediate site inspection of the asbestos removal being conducted by an asbestos-removal service provider at the 17th and 19th floor of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) building located in Manila and impose the necessary government intervention and prevent disposal service provider workers and central bank employees from further primary and secondary exposure to the cancerous asbestos dust,” said Gerard Seno, ALU National Vice President.

Based on the video and still pictures taken during an asbestos abatement procedures atop the BSP building, workers from Safeco Environmental Services Inc. wears insufficient personal protective equipments. There is absence of necessary and prescribed enclosures of the areas where asbestos dusts and asbestos-containing materials are being removed, lack or absence of prescribed container plastic bags which should store all asbestos and asbestos-containing materials. There was also none of labels indicating that those recovered are asbestos and asbestos-containing materials, Seno said.

He emphasized further and said: “Due to these serious flaws, we can say the workers may have been significantly exposed. Yet, we cannot also discount the possibility there were secondary exposure to unwitting BSP employees. Somebody must be made to account for such a very irresponsible and unfortunate situation.”

Since 1977, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), the World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Labour Organization (ILO) maintained that there is no safety threshold to it, meaning even a small amount of exposure to all kinds of asbestos dust can cause incurable cancers and various diseases such as lung cancer, mesothelioma, asbestosis, and pleural plaques and effusions, 10 to 30 years upon exposure. Recently, there are growing anecdotal evidences showing exposure to asbestos dust also causes cancer in the ovary and the larynx.

Primary symptoms of asbestos-related diseases includes shortness of breath, wheezing, or hoarseness, persistent cough that gets worse over time, blood in the sputum coughed up from the lungs, pain or tightening in the chest, difficulty swallowing, swelling of the neck or face, loss of appetite, weight loss, and fatigue and anemia.

The WHO estimated that around 125 million people are exposed to asbestos, most of these are workers in the construction industry. This figure translates to 107,000 people die every year due to cancers and other diseases caused by first and second hand exposure to asbestos dust. Alan A. Tanjusay, ALU Policy Advocacy Officer, Associated labor Unions’

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