The end of asbestos: Colombia says no to the dangerous chemical

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After the initiative sank 7 times, Congress banned the use of asbestos in Colombia

The end of asbestos: Colombia says no to the dangerous chemical

A historical failure. Last Monday, June 10, unanimously, the Colombian Congress approved a bill to prohibit asbestos in the country. Subsequently, on June 11, Congress ratified the decision. The law, called Ana Cecilia Niño, a journalist who died of cancer of mesothelioma due to contact with asbestos, would prohibit the production, commercialization, and distribution of this chemical nationwide. The decision causes the coffee nation to join 68 other countries that have banned the use of asbestos.

Leer en español: El fin del asbesto: Colombia le dice no al peligroso químico

The bill proposes a five-year transition so that industries that use asbestos can find other inputs or adapt their processes to cleaner technologies. The bill says that there will be a "GENERAL PROHIBITION OF THE USE OF ASBESTOS, prohibit the production, commercialization, export, import and distribution of any variety of asbestos and products made with it in the national territory."

In addition to the transition, according to El Tiempo, the project also urges the Ministry of Labor to carry out a work adaptation plan for those who are working in these industries, among which is the production of tiles, car brakes, paints, packaging, etc.

The decision has been celebrated by different sectors, among which is the NGO Greenpeace. Silvia Gómez, director of the organization in Colombia, declared that "today, history was made. It is an unprecedented victory for the health of the country. It is also a tribute to the victims of asbestos and the tireless and exciting struggle of their relatives. "

The ruling is historic, as the debate to pass the law had sunk seven times in the last 12 years. In this regard, Gomez states that "thanks to public pressure, the power of citizens and the will of Congress, we can say that asbestos was banned in Colombia once and for all."

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According to the National Cancer Institute, the use of this chemical, which has been linked to the development of diseases such as cancer of the liver, larynx, among others, is responsible for the deaths of 1744 deaths from lung cancer between 2010 and 2014.

Juan Carlos Lozada, represent to the Chamber of the Liberal party, explained that "they wanted to get their hands on this project, industries that wanted to tarnish, muddy this bill and prevent the obvious from being banned." However, the decision of Congress demonstrated the commitment to the health of Colombians. On the other hand, Senator Nadia Blel Scaff, from the conservative caucus and author of the project, stressed that the decision is a tribute to the victims.

The Colombian, in a report presented in February, pointed out that companies like Eternit -producer of tiles and tanks made with this material- have replaced this component with a synthetic fiber called polyvinyl alcohol (PVA).

The bill proposes that after the five years of transition, any natural or legal person who fails to comply with the provisions will be sanctioned with "fines from one hundred (100) up to two hundred (200) minimum legal monthly salaries in force for each day of non-compliance ".


LatinAmerican Post | Marcela Peñaloza

Translated from "El fin del asbesto: Colombia le dice no al peligroso químico"