EcoWaste, TUCP push for stronger anti-asbestos policy

Published January 7, 2022, 5:08 PM

by Faith Argosino

There is an urgent need to improve the policy on the manufacture and use of asbestos and materials containing the disease-causing substance to protect public health, the EcoWaste Coalition (EcoWaste) and Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) said Thursday, Jan. 6.

(Courtesy of EcoWaste Coalition Facebook Page)

In a joint statement, EcoWaste and TUCP said that the Chemical Control Order (CCO) for Asbestos “needs serious enhancement” to protect the public from the unrestricted importation of raw asbestos and materials or products containing such substance.

According to the groups, the most common diseases caused by asbestos exposure are asbestosis or a form of lung disease, lung and ovary cancer, scarring of the lung lining, and mesothelioma or the formation of a tumor in the linings of the lungs, abdomen, or heart.

“We no longer see labels on asbestos-containing products. And we don’t see warning signages that forewarn the people and keep communities from hazards of asbestos dust exposure in demolition and disposal of asbestos,” said TUCP President Raymond Mendoza.

“The compliance to and enforcement of CCO is long gone. We fear that many workers and their families may have been exposed already, and its effects will only manifest a few years later,” he added.

Meanwhile, EcoWaste Coalition Chemical Safety Campaigner Thony Dizon said the CCO can be strengthened by expanding the ban to cover all forms of asbestos, phasing out asbestos-containing products, and promoting the commercial use of safer alternatives to such carcinogenic material.

“All stakeholders, including workers, communities, and local governments, need to be involved in raising citizens’ awareness on this public health issue and in the conduct of sustained monitoring and surveillance on asbestos exposure,” Dizon said.

The CCO on Asbestos was issued by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) on Jan. 6, 2000.

It prohibits all forms of asbestos on toys, low-density jointing chemicals, corrugated commercial paper, and untreated textiles among others.

Moreover, it also notes that asbestos and asbestos-containing materials must be labeled in structures, construction, demolition, disposal, and packaging products.

All manufacturers are also required by the DENR to register with the Environmental Management Bureau, obtain importation clearance, and submit annual reports, among other things, to ensure compliance with the CCO.