Wednesday, November 10, 2010

US government fails to fault Malawi on Asbestos

The United States government has for 15 years failed to prove the existence of asbestos, blamed for causing Cancer among millions worldwide and killing thousands a year, in Malawi.
The United States Geological Survey (USGS) has for the past 15 years failed to prove the existence of asbestos in Malawi, indicating in all its reports that "little is known about the use of asbestos in Malawi".
However, USGS has been trying to link Malawi to Zimbabwe- the later being, until recently, one of the biggest exporters of asbestos.
USGS bases its figures on the United Nations trade data. UN statistics have aslso failed to link asbestos use to Malawi.
The USGS indicates in its latest report that 15 tonnes of asbestos were used worldwide in 2000, 12 tonnes in 2007, but that nothing was used in 2009.
This points to a decline in asbestos usage.
The USGS notes, however, that Zimbabwe has been a top exporter of asbestos, hinting that- with over six million Malawians living in Zimbabwe- chances are that Malawi has been using huge quantities of asbestos without informing its citizens of its dangers and cancer-causing elements.
This, it says, is against international law.
"It is clear that, as a one time top exporter of asbestois, Zimbabwe was very eager to sell its asbestos to Malawi. However, there are no statistisc indicating how much asbestos is being used every year, how much was used in previous years, data on asbestos-related disease in Malawi. This is worsened by the fact that there are no medical, labour, public and government awareness initiatives pertaining to asbestos use; this is a time bomb," reads part of a USGS risk assessment report on Malawi.
This means that vulnerable groups such as children are not being protected from exposure to hazardous substances like asbestos, puting their future at risk.

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