Ban Asbestos Mobilization in Hong Kong
On January 19, 2012, local activists met with representatives of the (Hong Kong) Legislative Council Panel on Environmental Affairs to progress calls for a ban on the import, use and transshipment of asbestos in Hong Kong. Prior to the meeting, members of the No More Asbestos in Hong Kong Alliance (NMAHKA) put on protective clothing and marched from Admiralty Centre to the Central Government Offices with banners, signs and slogans calling for asbestos to be banned.
Chan Kam Hong at the centre (front) of Hong Kong protest.
During the discussions last week, the activists called for the government to introduce measures to raise occupational awareness of the asbestos hazard, identify asbestos-containing materials in all public buildings and quantify levels of environmental contamination. NMAHKA is also urging the introduction of a mandatory scheme to protect workers which would involve the registration and supervision of proposed plans to demolish asbestos-contaminated properties.
Chan Kam Hong, one of the key advocates for an asbestos ban, is optimistic that substantial progress will be made this year. Kam Hong, who is a member of NMAHKA also represents the Hong Kong Workers Health Centre; the Centre's December 2011 newsletter highlighted epidemiological research which found increased mortality risks, particularly from lung cancer and non-malignant respiratory diseases, associated with exposure to chrysotile asbestos 1 amongst a cohort of 577 male asbestos workers in China who were followed from 1972 to 2008.
January 27, 2012
1 Wang X et al. A 37-year observation of mortality in Chinese chrysotile asbestos workers. Thorax. September 2011. http://thorax.bmj.com/content/early/2011/09/21/thoraxjnl-2011-200169.abstract