WHITE ASBESTOS (Syllabus: GS Paper 3 – Sci and Tech)

News-CRUX-10     20th March 2024        

Context: In a long-awaited move, the United States’ Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a comprehensive ban on all forms of the deadly carcinogen asbestos.

White Asbestos

  • Definition: Asbestos comprises six silicate minerals with similar yet distinct characteristics, once extensively employed in construction, insulation, and various consumer goods.
  • Modes of Asbestos Exposure: Asbestos exposure occurs through inhalation of airborne particles or accidental ingestion, with both avenues posing significant health risks irrespective of the type of asbestos involved.
  • 6 types of asbestos: actinolite, amosite, anthophyllite, crocidolite, tremolite (amphibole minerals), and chrysotile (serpentine mineral).
  • Health Implications: All forms of asbestos are linked to severe health conditions, including lung cancer, mesothelioma, laryngeal cancer, ovarian cancer, and asbestosis, as reported by the World Health Organization.
  • Evolution of Awareness: Public awareness concerning asbestos escalated notably during the latter part of the 20th century, prompting the enactment of partial bans on numerous asbestos-containing products.
  • Industry Impact: The recent ban on chrysotile asbestos, primarily utilized in the chlor-alkali industry, poses significant challenges. 

oThis industry produces essential chemicals for water treatment and public health, raising concerns about potential disruptions.

  • Global Regulation: While India has banned asbestos mining and certain uses, trade in raw asbestos and asbestos-based products persists, particularly in economically disadvantaged regions where asbestos is still commonly found in roofing materials.
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