Vietnam still wavers between prohibiting or allowing use of white asbestos

VietNamNet Bridge - Scientists have repeatedly urged eliminating white asbestos in Vietnam as soon as possible, while government officials still debate the matter, saying that no scientific research can find a relation between white asbestos and cancer.


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Answering a question from Bui Thi An, a National Assembly Deputy, in late 2015 about the use of white asbestos, Deputy Prime Minister Hoang Trung Hai said the government has assigned relevant ministries to consider stopping the use of white asbestos by 2020 as per the recommendation by the World Health Organization (WHO) and International Labor Organization (ILO).

However, scientists still argue about whether white asbestos causes cancer. Scientific research in Vietnam has not found any evidence showing that white asbestos is the cause behind lung cancer and mesothelioma cancer. 

Bach Dinh Thien from the Institute for Tropical Building Materials Research and Application affirmed that brown and green asbestos have been prohibited all over the world, while scientists have not found any relations between white asbestos and disease.

In Brazil, 1,000 people now live next to the biggest American white asbestos mine and no cancer in the locality has been found related to white asbestos since 1980.

It is estimated that 2.5 million tons of roofing plates containing white asbestos are bought in Brazil every year. However, no one living in these houses has been found as having cancer.

The government has assigned relevant ministries to consider stopping the use of white asbestos by 2020 as per the recommendation by the World Health Organization (WHO) and International Labor Organization (ILO).

Le Hong Tinh, permanent member of the National Assembly’s Committee for Science, Technology and the Environment, thinks that the Ministry of Health should consider use of white asbestos with controls, saying that ministries must not prohibit something just because they find it difficult to place under control.

Tinh went on to say that the research on white asbestos needs to be conducted to find convincing evidence about the possible effects caused by white asbestos on humans. 

People’s health must be the top priority, but the government also needs to consider other factors when making decisions, including the socio-economic conditions and people’s & enterprises’ benefits.

What should be used instead of white asbestos?

Low-income families in mountainous areas in the north, central region and Mekong River Delta still live in houses with white asbestos roofing plates. 

If the government prohibits the use of white asbestos, this would put pressure on poor people because they cannot afford more expensive materials.

There are not many types of products which can replace used roofing plates made of white asbestos. 

Meanwhile, the products are four to seven times more expensive. PVA is the cheapest alternative product, but it is still is 50 percent more expensive. 


Kham Pha


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