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close this bookAsbestos Overview and Handling Recommendations (GTZ, 1996)
close this folderPart IV Country analysis
close this folder4 Country profiles
View the document4.1 Australia
View the document4.2 Chile
View the document4.3 Republic of China
View the document4.4 India
View the document4.5 Israel
View the document4.6 South Africa
View the document4.7 Tunisia
View the document4.8 USA

4.2 Chile



4.2.1 General overview

In Chile Asbestos is not mined, but only processed. Consequently, the import rate of Asbestos is very high, as illustrated in the following figure. Asbestos is mainly imported from Canada.


Figure 4: Annual Import of Asbestos in Chile 1988 - 1991 ( in tons)

Source: Central Bank / Jan. 1993

Raw materials, such as Asbestos sheets, blocks, powder and fabric, are imported as well as finished products, such as construction and roofing materials and facades. The largest fraction of finished products is comprised of clutch and brake linings.

Only 12 companies are part of the Asbestos industry in Chile, and 8 of them process Asbestos. Four companies trade with Asbestos and Asbestos containing products. Based on the following figure, it is apparent how high the valued import of Asbestos fibers is (e.g. for 1991: 6,660 t at 660 U. S.$/t).

Asbestos production does not account for a large fraction of the total industry in Chile. Only about 1,500 workers are employed, achieving an interior product of 7 million US $ at a gross national product of 35,700 million US $ in Chile. Accordingly, the percentage lies only around 0.18 %.

From the total products produced, only clutch and friction linings are exported in an amount of about 225 tons/a.


Figure 5: Expenditure on Asbestos Import in Chile
Source: Central sank / Jan. 1993

4.2.2 Legislation

Only two legislative ordinances on the use of Asbestos exist in Chile. In a governmental publication on 7 June 1967, as a result of several appeals by international organizations to the federal health bureau, Asbestos was declared a potentially hazardous substance through inhalation. A legal regulation on improved workplace and environmental conditions was not passed until 1983, and prescribes a maximum average Asbestos concentration of 2 fibers/ cm³ in air (Paragraph 78). Since 1983, no further tightening of regulations has occurred. The limit of 2 F/cm³ is valid as the maximum workplace concentration as well as the general maximum permissible concentration in air.

The Health Bureau and public independent health institutes are responsible for the maintenance of the Asbestos fiber limits established by this law. Workers at Asbestos workplaces undergo regular medical examinations and must be priorly informed about potential risks. This training serves to prevent risks and high Asbestos concentrations through inproper handling. Depending on the working situation, face masks and protective clothing must be used, and the workplace must be under a continuous water supply. Often ventilation filters are installed or good ventilation is provided by other means. Smoking at the workplace is generally prohibited.

According to in official information, however, the monthly spot checks which have been announced are not regularly performed, and reports are only made in cases of elevated concentrations.

The draft to update Paragraph 78, which has been submitted as a proposal, would include an additional detailed limitation on special Asbestos fibers:

- Crocidolite max. 0.16 fibers / cm³
- Amosite max. 0.4 fibers / cm³
- Chrysotile max. 1.6 fibers / cm³

The prohibition of the use of sprayed Asbestos is not being discussed, though, neither in the import area nor in the area of abatement. Transport or use of Asbestos does not fall under any legal regulations.

4.2.3 Research and Development

Research and development is performed only to a limited extent in Chile. The results of the questionnaire lead to the presumption that at most one or two private companies are involved in research in the area of Asbestos substitutes, however, exact information was not provided.

A few investigations on health hazards through Asbestos are performed by the public health ministry (ISP).

One single air measurement study by Chile's health organization (ACHS) was concerned with the emission of Asbestos in Asbestos processing textile industries. The investigation showed emissions during sewing to average at 0.97f/cm³, during final finishing 0.7 f/cm³ and an emission to the general surroundings of 0.2 f/cm³. Consequently, Asbestos in this industrial area is not considered a health hazard.

There have been no investigations or measurements of the concentration of Asbestos in drinking water.

The majority of the information was taken from international regulations and guidelines (OPS/OMS Panamerican Health Organisation).

4.2.4 Substitutes

The following tabulated fiber containing materials and products are used in Chile as substitutes for Asbestos materials:

All of the named substitutes are available within Chile. Only small amounts need to be imported. The technical suitability of the substitutes is generally considered very high. The weather resistance and the lifetime are generally comparable to those of Asbestos products. Exceptions here are insulation, cement products and fleeces, whose resistance is generally judged poorer.

Table 24: Substitutes for Asbestos Fiber Products in Chile

Application

Asbestos Fiber - Substitute

Price

Textiles

cotton

more expensive


special synthetic fibers


Paper Products

Teflon

more expensive


plant fibers



polymers


Insulation Materials

graphite

more expensive


plant fibers



cotton


Cement Products

glass fibers

more expensive


plant fibers



synthetic fibers


Surface Materials

fiber glass

more expensive


kevlar, teflon, graphite


Roofing

fiber glass, plant fibers

more expensive


wood


Tiles

glass fibers, plant fibers

more expensive


wood, carbon material, polymers


Friction Materials

kevlar, teflon

more expensive


cotton


Source: own compilation
Note: Since 1969 fiber glass has been bound in the form of glass wool.

The fiber-free substitutes are listed in table 25.

The fiber-free substitutes are all available within the country. The technical suitability is considered adequate, as is the lifetime.

One can generally say that the use of substitutes often means a change in the technology and
machinery. This circumstance frequently prevents manufacturers from using substitutes, since this
would mean a high investment. This is also the reason for the very small amount of research being performed in Chile.

Table 25: Fiber-free Substitutes for Asbestos Fiber Products in Chile

Application

Asbestos Fiber - Substitutes

Preis

Textiles

various synthetic materials

more expensive

Paper Products

clay and venous polymers

more expensive


Polymers


Insulation Materials

clay

more expensive


venous polymers


Cement Products

clay

more expensive


concrete



synthetic fibers


Surface Materials

clay, polymers

comparably more expensive


metal rails

slight difference

Roofing

asphalt with plastic

comparably more expensive


asphalt with fine gravel

slight difference

Tiles

clay tiles

more expensive


special polymers


Friction Materials

clay

more expensive


special polymers


Source: own compilation

In the special areas of housing construction and construction of water mains, the following substitutes are applied:

Table 26: Substitutes for Asbestos Fiber Products in Housing Construction and Water Mains in Chile

Application

Fiber-free Substitutes

Fiber Containing Substitutes

Housing Construction

wood (for shingles)

cellulose


metal rails

fiber glass


asphalt with fine gravel

ceramic fibers


asphalt paving

special Polymers


straw

(kevlar/ teflon)


plant fibers


Water Mains

steel

as above


concrete



PVC (predominantly)



clay


Source: own compilation

The substitutes of both areas are much more expensive, although they are largely available within the country. Asbestos products continue to be considered more weather resistant and longer lived and therefore more useful. In summary, one can see that in housing construction the most common substitute is wood shingles, because they have a better optical effect than Asbestos cement sheets and are lighter. However, the higher costs and the required maintenance work are considered disadvantageous. In water mains construction PVC pipes are primarily used, due to their better processing ability, their lower weight and the longer lifetime. In addition, there is only a small difference in price. Although steel pipes have longer lifetimes, they and clay pipes are used less. The reason for this is the higher price, the higher weight and the more difficult processing.

4.2.5 Risk Philosophy

In Chile Asbestos is considered a health risk only under certain conditions and above a specified fiber concentration. The arising problems are treated case by case. For instance, based on measurements in individual factories it is decided how fiber emissions can be reduced. The health authorities in Chile generally have the opinion that Asbestos materials should be avoided. However, even in case of a potential health danger there is no prohibition for use.

In the future, the government intends on making the legislation stricter. However, only particular fiber emission limits are expected to be prescribed and not a complete Asbestos program. In contrast to air contamination, fiber emission into drinking water is not considered hazardous, and consequently there are no limits and no investigations on this matter.

In summary, the impression is that stricter measures in the Asbestos politics in Chile are not going to be imposed, because industry and trade are mainly interested in marketing materials with lower prices and the best possible properties (weather and temperature resistant, stressability). Research is supressed amd the search for substitutes appears too expensive, since the market is not prepared to accept more expensive materials. Consequently, in Chile a purely monetary cost-benefit consideration currently still has superiority over health aspects.