Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Airborne abestos levels high in Japan quake zone; three demolition workers sick

Airborne asbestos levels are exceeding the World Health Organization's safety limits in 14 locations where building were damaged in last year`s Japan earthquake.

The quake registered 9.0 on the Richter sale, damaged over 1 million buildings and killed over 15 thousand people.

Normally,  industrial safety and health laws require that when buildings are demolished, sites should be covered with plastic sheets and special industrial air cleaning equipment be used to keep dangerous asbestos fibers contained. However, in the disaster-hit areas, a large amount of demolition work had to be conducted in a short period of time and government officials believe that overwhelmed demolition companies didn`t take the proper precautions.

At least three demolition workers have developed tumors as a result of inhaling asbestos.

Following the new findings, the local Environment Ministry plans to revise the Air Pollution Control Law which currently put the onus on contractors to notify local governments when they begin work on buildings with asbestos. If they don`t, inspectors have no authority to enter the sites.

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