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Tuesday, August 18, 1998 Published at 18:50 GMT 19:50 UK

Health: Latest News

UK set to ban 'killer dust'

Asbestos in buildings is known to kill 3,000 people each year

Plans to virtually ban the use of white asbestos, which kills thousands of workers every year, have been published by health and safety chiefs.

The UK's Health and Safety Commission is proposing to ban the use of the so-called 'killer dust', apart from in a few cases where substitute materials are not available.

Consultations will be held over three months from September and the action is expected to come into force next summer.

The use of brown and blue asbestos has been banned for some time, but white asbestos is still widely used in buildings.

Campaigners have been pushing for a ban on the dust since figures showed that as many as 3,000 people die from asbestos-related diseases each year.

A report commissioned by the HSC estimates that the death toll could rise still further past the year 2000 and could reach 10,000 a year by 2020.

Workers at risk

Among those most at risk are builders, plumbers and shipyard workers who come into contact with the dust.

But it has also been used in schools and hospitals, posing a threat to children, teachers and nurses.

[ image: John Monks: welcomed the ban]
John Monks: welcomed the ban
The Trades Union Council welcomed the HSC's action.

General Secretary John Monks said: "The death toll will continue to rise well into the next century, but at least we now know that the plague of asbestos-related diseases might be coming to an end."

Most white asbestos is imported from Canada, Russia and South Africa.

The TUC says it will contact the Canadian High Commissioner in London to urge his country to accept a ban on the use of white asbestos.

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