Progress on Asbestos Transition in Vietnam
On March 11, 2008, a bilateral seminar was held in Hanoi during which technicians from Vietnam and Japan detailed progress on replacing asbestos in fiber-cement roofing tiles with safer alternatives.1 During this meeting, Dr. Do Quoc Quang of the Technology Institute of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Vietnam and Dr. Nguyen Dinh Kien of the Mechanics Institute, Vietnam discussed production techniques for polyvinyl alcohol (PVA) fiber-cement roofing tiles. The session was attended by officials from the Ministries of Commerce, Industry, Science, Technology and Construction as well as Vietnamese and international scientists and business people. The two speakers have been involved in research to replace hazardous asbestos in roof tiles since 2002. During this time, they have undertaken a series of research projects and have worked extensively for the State on developing technology for the manufacture of non-asbestos cement roof tiles.
Three years ago, in collaboration with Danish and Japanese experts, they produced a promising mixture of additives (including PVA fiber and pulp) for fiber-cement tiles. The same year, (2005) working with the Tan Thuan Cuong Company and Kuraray Ltd. (Japan), they converted an existing Hatcheck production line to non-asbestos technology. The new production line became operational in 2007 when the first non-asbestos tiles were manufactured at the Tan Thuan Thanh company in Vietnam. These tiles were tested at Kuraray Ltd. and Tan Thuan Cuong Company and found to be either lighter or more elastic than similar products in the Vietnamese market and as strong as them. Other tests conducted in Japan found that the asbestos-free tiles satisfied international standards of strength, softness and safety.
Responding to questions about the economics of production, Dr. Quang told seminar attendees that:
According to estimates, the cost of the PVA fibre cement roof tile is 20-30 per cent higher than similar asbestos cement roof tiles. But I hope that when the new product is made in mass production, the price will go down to that of asbestos ones.
Praising the work of the two Vietnamese scientists, the Deputy Minister of Commerce and Industry, Do Huu Hao, highlighted the important applications of their work as the demand for cement roofing material is so high in Vietnam. He said: The birth of the PVA fibre roof tile can provide a healthier environment for poor people, which could be seen (as) a good chance for them to escape from poverty.
April 2, 2008
1 Thu Nguyen. Practical and Social Meanings of Scientific Research. March 13, 2008. websites: http://army.qdnd.vn/Ultility/PrintView.aspx?Newsid=13790