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Asbestos still a threat for Pacific Islands

11 May 2017

Posted in: Pacific Radio News,

The multi-million dollar effort to rid the Pacific Islands of asbestos has hit a snag. 

About NZD$12 million has been spent on removing the disease-causing asbestos from 13 Pacific nations, but now more of the deadly insulator is on the market, hidden in building materials.

Stewart Williams from the Pacific Hazardous Waste Management project says asbestos is mined in Russia, concealed and manufactured in Asian countries where it is not banned and then sold to the Pacific Islands.

"We've almost completed cleaning up about 74 hospitals, schools and public buildings." 

Williams says it is time Pacific people demand that their governments ban asbestos.

"A lot of voices can come together and create a political climate to stop this material from flowing in."

According to Williams, Samoa has the least problem with asbestos, but nearly one-third of structures in Niue, Nauru and Kiribati are riddled with the deadly fibre.

He also says that there is still removal work to be done in Vanuatu, Fiji and Tonga.

Williams says the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme is working on an international ban on products containing asbestos. 

Tags: asbestos, Pacific Hazardous Waste Management, pacific health, pacific environment, Stuart Williams,