During last century Asbestos was the most extensively used naturally occurring mineral fibre in various industrial, commercial, ship building and housing industries. Asbestos is cheap, easy to mine and fire retardant. These qualities made asbestos bulk filler in construction-related products. After its extensive use for over 20-30 years, scientists found out a hazardous quality in asbestos – its ability to shatter easily into microscopic fibres. These fibres could get airborne, and if inhaled lodged themselves permanently into inhaler’s respiratory system and lungs. Continuous exposure to asbestos fibres, lead to asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma (Cancer of the chest and stomach cavities). In the past century thousands of people died in U.S. alone because of mesothelioma, asbestosis, lung cancer and several other asbestos-related illnesses. Today asbestos production and its use is completely banned in U.S. and most of the countries and the mineral is being continuously extracted and disposed off safely using various methods. In India, asbestos was most commonly used in construction, railways, ship building industries etc. because of its cheap availability. But with the increasing awareness of asbestos ban, Indian companies and railways are now taking initiative in removing asbestos. In fact Indian Railways recently removed asbestos roofs from various stations all over India and replaced it with steel sheets. Asbestos is being removed from houses and construction sites using various international safety norms. EPSCO India is constantly striving in training workers regarding safety measures to remove asbestos safely. All clothing of the site workers is safely disposed after being used in a contaminated area. All staff has to undergo through a decontamination process to ensure no fibres are taken out of the contaminated area. All removed Asbestos has to be disposed off as per international standards. All Asbestos waste of contaminated clothing is double bagged in thick 200 micron plastic bags, all duly labelled with warning information. India is known as the graveyard for dying ships. Most of the ships that reach India are full of toxic materials and most of the ship parts are woven with asbestos. The ship breaking workers are generally migrants and they dismantle the ships with their bare hands. Almost every third worker suffers from mesothelioma. The ship breaking job is highly dangerous and full of many occupational hazards like suffocation, sudden explosion, unhealthy toxic air etc. EPSCO India is setting standards and strict guidelines for asbestos abatement. They have already trained 95 candidates who work at ship yards as safety officers and supervisors in proximity with this deadly mineral.
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