The Associated Labor Unions’ ban asbestos campaign urged the Environment department today to conduct an inspection of the toxic wire gauzes openly sold in Avenida, Manila and impose the safety product labelling as required by the Chemical Control Order for asbestos.
“This is request to you Mr. Secretary to conduct an immediate inspection of all asbestos-containing wire gauzes being sold in the open specifically along Avenida in Manila for serious violation of labelling and handling provisions of the Chemical Control Order for asbestos and require its local or foreign manufacturers for safety label,” said Gerard Seno, ALU National Vice President in his letter to Environment Secretary Ramon Paje.
“By requiring safety labelling of asbestos-containing products as required by the Order such as wire gauze, the DENR can actually save million of teachers and students from significant exposure to cancerous asbestos dust fibers. Safety labels will serve prior information for teachers and students for them to make the necessary preparations and handling of wire gauze to prevent primary and secondary exposure,” Seno added who is also Program Coordinator of ALU’s Ban Asbestos Philippines, a campaign to responsibly ban and phase out of asbestos in the Philippines.
Last week, the campaign revealed that a sample of a wire gauze used in high schools and colleges, and laboratories, contains 3 per cent of the deadly Chrysotile asbestos in a testing and analysis conducted by a private laboratory using polarized light and dispersion technique. This wire gauze was bought in Avenida.
“All manufacturers, TSD facilities and premises, transporter, haulers, and disposers or asbestos-containing materials and asbestos-containing waste must comply with the labelling requirements hereinafter stated. Visible signs will be required on all packaging for all asbestos and asbestos-containing products as described…The signs must clearly mark that the product contains asbestos and disposal of friable asbestos containing wastes is regulated under this CCO,” Section 9 on labelling requirements of the CCO says.
The Chemical Control Order for Asbestos was issued in 2000 by the DENR to control and regulate the hazardous phenomenon that asbestos pose to the population.
The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), the World Health Organizations (WHO), the World Bank (WB), and the International Labor Organization (ILO) maintained that all asbestos are cancerous and there is no safety threshold to it. They estimated that around 125 million people are exposed to asbestos, most of them workers in the construction. This translates to 107,000 people die each year due to cancers and other diseases caused by first and second hand exposure to asbestos dust 10 to 30 years after inhalation.
In the Philippines, despite difficulty to diagnosed asbestos-related diseases, the Lung Center of the Philippines and the Philippine Cancer Society has recorded 12 cases of mesothelioma, asbestosis, and lung cancers. One of which is a 21-year old. There are hundreds of workers claiming for compensation after they alleged to contract asbestos related cancers and diseases while at work. Alan A. Tanjusay, ALU Policy Advocacy Officer, Associated Labor Unions