Argentina Bans Asbestos!
Argentina has banned asbestos! The final resolution, signed on July 26, 2001 became law on July 31 when it was published in the Official Bulletin. Resolution 823/01 stipulates that the use of chrysotile in textiles, paper, rubber, plastic, paint and insulating products, filters and gaskets will be prohibited sixty days after publication. The import, trade and uses of chrysotile which remain legal will be strictly regulated until January 1, 2003 when they too are banned.
The decision to ban asbestos, taken by the Minister of Health Dr Hector Lombardo, is the culmination of an extended process of consultation including research of the international consensus as expressed by bodies such as the International Agency for Research on Cancer, the WHO, the ILO and the Panamerican Health Organization. The World Trade Organization judgment in the Canadian action against the French asbestos ban is cited and the WTO’s upholding of national sovereignty over matters of public and occupational health confirmed: "the right of member states to prohibit the import and use of materials containing carcinogenic substances as chrysotile…" An extensive decision-making process included consultation with all sectors of society. Meetings and initiatives took place over a number of years: The National Workshop for the Identification of Priorities in the Sustainable Management of Chemical Substances (1997), The Second Workshop for the Identification of Priorities (2000), The Seminar on Asbestos, Work and Health (1999), The Second Seminar on Asbestos, Work and Health (2000) and the creation of An Advisory Committee on Chrysotile Asbestos. The use of the amphibole forms of asbestos was banned by a Resolution of the Ministry of Health in 2000. Despite discussions with trade associations and Chambers of Commerce, it is expected that industry will take steps to have the new law rescinded. Having learned of the actions taken by the international asbestos industry in Chile, it is reasonable for the Minister of Health and his team to be prepared for an onslaught from The Asbestos Institute and others who aim to ensure that developing countries absorb the asbestos no longer required in the West.
August 8, 2001