Asian Asbestos Workshop 

by Laurie Kazan-Allen



Japan's Ministry of the Environment (MoE), in collaboration with Indonesia's Ministry of the Environment, held the “Workshop on Asbestos Management in Asian Countries” in the Indonesian capital, Jakarta, on March 17 & 18, 2010. In attendance were representatives from Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Philippines, Vietnam and Japan. Amongst these countries, Indonesia and Vietnam are the biggest asbestos users, consuming 37,806 and 49,998 tonnes respectively in 2008.

Asbestos Consumption (tonnes)1


 20082007 2006% change
Indonesia37,806 46,18740,542-7
Laos36 -  -  -  
Malaysia13,557 9,38710,349+31
Philippines2,903 2,1804,136-30
Vietnam49,998 64,42960,657-18
Japan60 58117-49


The biggest national asbestos markets in Asia are found in China and India, which respectively used 565,419 and 348,538 tonnes in 2008.

Subjects under discussion at the seven workshop sessions included health effects of asbestos and its substitutes, technical procedures for measuring asbestos levels, the management of asbestos-containing waste and future measures against asbestos in Asian countries. Even as Japanese experts detailed their country's countermeasures against asbestos – Japan banned the use of chrysotile in 2004, having banned amosite and crocidolite in 19952 – some Indonesian officials maintained that the use of chrysotile was in compliance with national legislation and that the Government was trying to “prevent health damages caused by asbestos in line with the Bangkok Declaration on the Elimination of Asbestos and Asbestos-related Disease.3 Citing this document was unwise in the circumstances, as the first recommendation of the Bangkok Declaration calls for a total ban on asbestos, stating that: “Asbestos mining, the use and recycling of asbestos and asbestos-containing products should be totally banned in all countries.”

It is also quite ironic that the initiative for this workshop was taken by Japan, the home country of one of Asia's largest asbestos-using corporations: Nichias. Historically, Nichais has moved its asbestos-using operations from country to country to escape the imposition of new national health and safety legislation. Major Nichias subsidiaries in Asia are based in Indonesia, Malaysia. Singapore, Thailand, China and Japan.

April 21, 2010


1 The data used has been sourced from the United States Geological Survey.


3 See: Appendix A, Report on Asian Asbestos Conference 2006.



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