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Simon Allen: A Renewed Call for a Global Ban on Asbestos

An estimated 125 million people continue to be exposed to asbestos in the workplace.At least 8 companies in the Indian state of Gujarat produce asbestos-containing goods and there are instances of asbestosis arising from those companies which is indicative of substantial exposure.Anti-asbestos activists in India have staged hunger strikes and written to political leaders in Quebec accusing them of racism for allowing asbestos to be shipped to India when it is no longer used in Canada.This shows the different standards adopted between the western world and others.  Negotiating with countries such as Russia and China is more difficult because whilst the US and Canada won’t ban the use of asbestos, their response is “so why should we?”The real issue is, of course, financial.  Other alternatives to asbestos tend to cost 10-15% more.  Large scale buyers in developing countries, therefore, often choose asbestos forgetting that the costs of treating and compensating sick people far outweighs the extra cost of the asbestos alternative.As someone who sadly regularly comes into contact with people suffering with the effects of Mesothelioma I think it is shocking that this trade is Asbestos continues.Simon Allen is a partner in the Sheffield office of Russell Jones & Walker, and also head of the Personal Injury department. Simon specialises in accidents at work claims as well as asbestos/Mesothelioma claims