Fatal fibre

Published: Wednesday 31 July 1996

shaken out of apathy by a recent study on the health hazards posed by industrial fibre, the government finally announced a ban on asbestos from next year. The ban, which is already in effect in most other industrialised nations, came after a new study revealed that asbestos -- a heat-resistant fibre used in building insulation, roofing and filters -- took the lives of about 2,000 people in France every year. Asbestos has been found to induce lung cancers and other lethal respiratory ailments.

"The manufacture, import and sale of products containing asbestos cement are banned,"said labour minister Jacques Barrot. Environmentalists and labour groups criticised the government for its failure to act earlier. France began restricting the use of asbestos in 1977 and banned the lining of building interiors with asbestos insulation in1987, but it was still used in some construction materials.

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