Nepal legally banned asbestos in June of 2015, yet it is growing in use throughout Nepal, primarily in the heavily populated area of Tarai. The reason is simple – advertising. Just as in the 1950s-70s in the U.S., people are told asbestos is the best construction material. It’s warm in witner, cool in summer and is easy to repair. It’s also used for almost all roofing, tiles, auto parts, cement compouds, and textile products. Despite the ban, it’s imported, marketed, promoted, and used extensively. Monitoring by the Centre for Public Health and Environmental Development in the Tarai showed no record of formal importation of asbestos, however.
Ram Charitra Sah, Executive Director at Center for Public Health and Environmental Development, states, “This calls for urgent action towards effective implementation and monitoring by the government. It needs to effectively implement the government ban on the import, sale, distribution, and use of asbestos.”
Though advertised as a versatile miracle mineral, asbestos is a known carcinogen. Its microscopic fibers are easily inhaled when disturbed, such as in manufacturing, cutting, and repairing. Once inhaled, the fibers can stick to the lining of lungs and inner cavity tissues. After they are lodged in this soft inner tissue, they are rarely expelled or absorbed by the body. Given enough time, generally 20 to 50 years, asbestos can cause malignant mesothelioma, lung cancer, and asbestosis.