The Brazilian Supreme Federal Court (STF) ruled to ban asbestos throughout all of Brazil ¬ – a major achievement. Brazil is the third largest asbestos producer in the world through its mining operations, a major global exporter of asbestos, as well as a user of asbestos in manufacturing and construction. For the STF to ban asbestos shows a positive shift in direction for protecting the health of Brazilians and also for limiting exposure to millions of people throughout the world. This ruling may be the impetus of a worldwide ban, which could be closely followed by a Canadian ban, currently pending.
Why ban asbestos?
This bold move by the STF affirms there is no safe or controlled use of asbestos. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) “all forms of asbestos, including chrysotile, are carcinogenic to humans.” The US spent an estimated 4 million dollars on asbestos from Brazil since 2013, all to be used by the chlor-alkali industry. This ban will drastically limit accessibility to asbestos in the US and other countries.
ADAO Celebrates this ruling
Dr. Barry Castleman, who has testified at public hearings on behalf of the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO) remarked, “Congratulations to Brazil, the first country that has banned asbestos even as active asbestos mines were operating. This is the result of an extraordinary social movement that now opens the final chapter on ending asbestos use in the Americas. . . We (the US) now face the prospect of importing Russian asbestos and asbestos propaganda, all because US chlorine producers want to go on using asbestos.”
Dr. Arthur Frank, another ADAO witness to the harms of asbestos said, “After years of careful deliberation and listening to all sides on the issue of the safe use of chrysotile, the Brazilian Supreme Court has reached the only safe and sound decision and has voted to protect the lives of Brazilians and many others and needs to be applauded, and I only wish [were] so enlightened in the USA.”
The US battle continues
This recent ban was deliberated in Brazilian courts for decades, but they continued to press on through many disappointing decisions until they won. Those in the US who understand the dangers and ramifications must also continue the fight against all asbestos importation and use until asbestos, the “miracle mineral”, is totally banned throughout the US.