Profit at the risk of disease - Eric Stevenson
Today it seems like many businesses are cutting corners to bump revenue, increase profits, or even just to stay afloat. Unfortunately for some companies, they are going too far in their efforts to grow and sustain their companies. Throughout the world, many workers are being put in major health risks within their every day job duties. Many of these companies are using the dangerous material asbestos as a part of everyday work, putting employees and workers at the risk of dangerous health problems like mesothelioma.
The use of asbestos within industry is nothing new. It was a common material throughout the 1900’s all over the world. Popular in shipyards, military bases, and factory settings, it was widely known for its versatility in use and ability as a fireproof material. In the ladder half of the last century, companies and government began to catch on to the correlation of asbestos exposure and increased cases of cancer. This lead to bans in many countries, unfortunately for some, asbestos use still remains legal in a few areas.
Some businesses in countries like Canada and Russia have come under major fire for their continuing effort to use asbestos to make money. These are two of the largest countries when it comes to modern day mining of asbestos materials. Some Canadian companies have caught major flack from medical leaders and citizens for their actions in mining and exporting asbestos products. Meanwhile, the fight on asbestos could be a losing battle. Many have said that if a country like Canada were to stop mining asbestos, Russian industry would only pick up the slack. Either way, the fact that some areas are still mining this product sends a signal to some others that it’s okay to use the material, which is completely untrue.
The United States is one of many countries that use the ship-breaking industry. Older, retired ships and vessels are often sent over to major ship breaking areas such as Bangladesh and India, to be disposed and broken down. This is an extremely dangerous practice because of the amount of asbestos that is common on older ships. As previously mentioned, the use of asbestos was huge in the ship building industry, as the material was common in the pipes and lining of most ships built in the 20th century. These workers in the ship breaking industry in India and Bangladesh are being put at a major risk of exposure. The exposure level is even more dangerous because asbestos is highly toxic in the friable form. Friable means damaged or broken down, therefore ship breaking would bring on tons of exposure to friable asbestos.
Besides just the ship breaking industry, asbestos is still used as a construction material in countries like China, India, and other developing nations. Companies still choose to use asbestos because of its cost effectiveness and dependability; unfortunately there is a huge tradeoff when it comes to health risk. Mesothelioma and asbestos exposure are not to be taken lightly. This cancer within the lining of the abdomen and chest organs is extremely dangerous and has one of the lowest survival rates of all diseases. Many of these companies are putting their workers in major risk as a direct result of their own greed.
Moving forward, the fight against further asbestos use seems to be heading in the right direction. Canada is beginning to evaporate all of its one remaining asbestos mine and this could be a huge first step in cutting the overall use. Further awareness and controversy towards these companies is the only way to put an end to this dangerous policy.http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2006/11/03/60minutes/main2149023.shtml http://www.mesotheliomasymptoms.com/asbestos-history http://cotocrew.wordpress.com/2011/01/25/from-the-corporate-slimeball-series/ http://www.publicintegrity.org/investigations/asbestos/