Asbestos Lobby Targets Union Aid Abroad – APHEDA

Oct 31, 2019

Because of the growing momentum to ban asbestos in Asia, the asbestos lobby is fighting to reverse the major gains made towards securing an asbestos free future.

The asbestos lobby is a group of industry associations around the world that lobby and advocate for the continued use of white asbestos or chrysotile asbestos.

Recently, because of the major progress towards banning asbestos in Asia, the asbestos lobby has turned their energy towards Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. The asbestos lobby has offices across Asia, where they mislead governments, decision-makers, and the medical community by attempting to re-brand white or chrysotile asbestos as ‘safer’.

Videos published by the Chrysotile Information Centre claim that white asbestos dissolves in the lungs in a matter of days, but medical professionals have shown that asbestos can remain in the human body for decades after exposure. Pro-asbestos groups have even hired spies to undermine the campaign to ban asbestos in Asia.

A still image from an asbestos lobby video that claims asbestos fibers dissolve in the lungs after just nineteen days. Medical professionals confirm that asbestos fibers remain in the body for years and decades after exposure.

In recent letters to government decision-makers they have tried to discredit Union Aid Abroad – APHEDA and the World Health Organisation.

In October the International Chrysotile Association wrote to the Cambodian Minister of Health in a direct attempt to intimidate Cambodia into not proceeding with an action-plan to eliminate asbestos-related diseases, and to warn them off of working with Union Aid Abroad – APHEDA.

In this letter they claim that Union Aid Abroad – APHEDA misled the government on facts and information included in the National Asbestos Profile launched by the Minister of Labour in June. This letter follows another from the Vietnamese Roof Sheet Association to government leaders that also mentioned Union Aid Abroad – APHEDA several times.

In Laos, just days after an international workshop to tackle the dangers of asbestos with the National Assembly of Laos, the lobby succeeded in getting a letter from the Chief of Staff of the Lao Prime Minister’s office supporting the continued use of chrysotile asbestos in Laos for the time being. The lobby also funded and conducted a ‘safe use’ study tour with the Roof Sheet Association in Vietnam. The 2019 developments also reveal that the Chrysotile Information Centre now has staff working to reverse the major gains of the Ban Asbestos campaign in Laos, Vietnam, and Cambodia.

Union Aid Abroad – APHEDA are meeting with activists, unions, international organsiations, and government representatives to strategise and respond to the asbestos lobby’s efforts. The power of the Ban Asbestos campaign comes from the growing movement of people in Australia who support an asbestos-free future – you can help bolster the campaign to ban asbestos by giving a donation to Union Aid Abroad – APHEDA, or by becoming a member.

What is clear is that the lobby is fighting a desperate battle to delay or stop the ban processes across the Mekong region.

The Ban Asbestos in South East Asia Campaign is supported by the Australian Government through the Australian NGO Cooperation Program (ANCP).


Bolster the Fight to Ban Asbestos

The campaign to ban asbestos is making major gains. But now, this progress is under threat from the asbestos lobby, which is desperate to continue producing, selling, manufacturing, and exporting dangerous asbestos products. By giving a donation to Union Aid Abroad – APHEDA, you can help the Ban Asbestos campaign to fight back against the asbestos lobby. 

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