As if the Lebanese government is in short of methods of how to kill its own people. Every now and then, we get either environmental disasters like dumping hazardous waste in the ecosystem or health disasters like having to deal with corrupted food.
Although the health and safety awareness is very low in Lebanon as numerously discussed on this blog before (here, here, here and here), in terms of legislation and implementation, but sadly, the citizens’ personal health is always subject to political bargaining and turning-the-blind-eye in Lebanon.
The Daily Star reported today on the state of asbestos trading in Lebanon. Pretty scary stuff.
The material is one of most dangerous constituent in construction and insulation materials, but can still be found in Lebanon, with no controls on its disposal. Asbestos is banned almost all over the world, with Lebanon banning its imports in 2006.
Joseph Arbajian, co-owner of the import business Arbajian Brothers, told The Daily Star “we had been buying products that contained asbestos since the 1950s. Now [we] are stuck with poisonous products that we can’t sell or dispose of.” So what is this guy suggesting? Selling his poisonous stuff?
This material is called the hidden killer, because all what needs to happen to kill the person is to inhale the dust of the disturbed material (let’s say during demolition or old pipe removal). The fibres get into the person’s lungs and cause cancer within years or decades. Hence it’s “hidden” as the symptoms are not prompt. It has no cure as well, so if the person was exposed to the asbestos dust, that’s it, they are done.
You don’t need to be doing big projects to be exposed to this danger. You could face it at your home if you were doing any structural changes or simply drilling in an old contaminated plaster board you didn’t know about.
Lebanese government dealing with matter is no way near acceptable. I am not exaggerating if I say it’s literally killing its people.
Assuming it’s being implemented efficiently, banning imports is not enough. Who is going to control or remove all the contamination (when dumped or disturbed) in the existent massive national stock. And where is the public awareness campaign?
If you want to find out more information on this killer, you can check this informative page from the UK Health and Safety Executive which is a law-enforcement agency that we have no equivalent in Lebanon.