Vila Times

Fiji may ban the imports of asbestos

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There could be a ban on the importation of asbestos to Fiji, said Fiji’s Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations Jone Usamate.

“I think at the moment, that is just a suggestion. That is something that will have to be discussed if we are going down that route,” Usamate said, Fiji Times reports.

“The ministry is of the view that one of the best ways to prevent or reduce asbestos-related diseases is to work towards banning or minimising the use of all types of asbestos.”

This comes after the director for Asbestos Disease Research Institute for the University of Sydney, Professor Ken Takahasi, made a suggestion to ban the importation of asbestos.

“In June, an asbestos frenzy hit Suva City when a junior staff member of SPREP circulated wrong information on the containment of asbestos in the Suva Civic Centre area,” Usamate said.

“Despite the ministry issuing an assurance that the 30 per cent asbestos containment was only on the materials from the Suva Civic Centre that was tested and that the asbestos was not airborne, the damage was already done,” he said.

Meanwhile, there is not enough awareness in Fiji and the Pacific region on the health implications of asbestos exposure, says Ken Takahashi, the director and Professor for Asbestos Disease Research Institute at the University of Sydney.

Takahashi said the fact that an asbestos symposium hosted in Pacific Harbour was the first of its kind, speaks of the fact that the country and the region needed to start organising similar kinds of effort, including general awareness raising, training of workers and education of children.