Progress on Thailand Asbestos Ban
According to a Press Release of the National Health Commission Office of Thailand, issued on March 30, 2011,1 the Thai Government is throwing its weight behind plans to outlaw asbestos use. A meeting of the National Health Commission, chaired by the Prime Minister on February 25, 2011, considered a (2010) resolution submitted by the National Health Assembly which called for an asbestos ban. As a result of the debate which took place in February, the National Health Commission issued a resolution on banning the import of all types of this mineral. Simultaneously, the Commission delineated a road map to achieve this objective which assigned specific roles to various Ministries. The Ministry of Public Health has been tasked with the overall coordination of government efforts towards a ban, while the Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Commerce, and Office of the Consumer Protection Board have also been given jobs relating to their remits.
Although the Press Release does not indicate how soon the ban will be in place, Prof Dr. Pornchai Sithisarankul, an expert closely involved in the pro-ban campaign, is calling for an end to asbestos imports and production by 2012. As asbestos is not mined in Thailand, a ban on imports will result in the national asbestos industry shutting down. The country currently uses 102,735 tonnes of asbestos annually, making it the world's 5th heaviest consumer. Industry lobbyists have been very vocal in the campaign to stave off national asbestos prohibitions.
April 26, 2011