Call to ban asbestos use and imports
The Toxicology Information Unit of the National Hospital has called
upon the construction authorities and the public to refrain from using
asbestos sheets in houses due to the adverse health impact. National
Toxicology Information Unit Head, Dr. Waruna Gunathilake told the Sunday
Observer, "It is now medically proven that long-term exposure to
asbestos can cause respiratory problems and cancer. Research in recent
years has proved this," he said.
"Many Western countries including Canada, Britain and Australia had
banned the use of asbestos in the building industry following these
studies. "It is mostly used in our region mainly due to its low price",
Those who have asbestos ceilings should replace them with safer
substitutes such as Sinhala ulu or Amano sheets.
However, since this switch cannot be done overnight, we call upon the
housing and construction industry to phase out the use of asbestos in
Sri Lanka during the next few years, till people obtain suitable
On the high risk groups affected by asbestos use, he said, those
working in construction sites were particularly vulnerable."They should
wear protective masks especially when cutting asbestos sheets since
particles could enter their lungs and lead to cancer", he said.
Commenting on the lack of a proper disposal system for asbestos waste
in Sri Lanka, he said, "this is an urgent need. Asbestos is non
"We need to dispose of it quickly and safely without endangering the
public's health," he said.