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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

4.3 Republic of China



4.3.1 General overview

Data on Asbestos fiber production in the Republic of China are not currently available, since the Chinese government does not officially keep statistics on this matter. It is known, however, that all important fiber types are produced in China, and that the production amount is very dependent on the respective demand. Mining regions lie in different provinces in China, including in the Province Hubei.

The processing of fibers proceeds in numerous plants, primarily as manual labor. Asbestos containing products are manufactured in the following cities among others:

Beijing

Guangdong Province

Chengdu

Guizhou Province

Chongqing

Hubei Province

Dalian

Shannxi Province

Hunming

Zheijang Province

Nanchang


Qingdao


Shanghai


Shannxi


Tianjin


Wuhan


Zhuzhou


This list is by no means complete, but it shows that in China a large volume of Asbestos products are manufactured and the amount has been estimated at about 150,000 t/a.

4.3.2 Legislation

In the Republic of China there is no specific legislation on Asbestos. In the area of Asbestos mining, the general safety and hygiene regulations are applied, which refer to supervision of dust emissions in factories, quarries and mines. However, it must be mentioned that occupational safety legislation in China can be described as rather inadequate. A few of these regulations are mentioned below:

· Rules on Safety and Hygiene in Factories (1956)
· Circular Letter on the Improvement of Occupational Safety and Supervision (1983)
· Rules on the Improvement of Occupational Safety in Agriculture (1987)

Some environmental regulations also exist which can be applied to Asbestos. Their content is typically very vague, however, and is hardly imposed. These regulations include restrictions on Asbestos production for development projects in rural areas. It can be assumed, that a minimum of personal safety equipment is used during Asbestos mining (face masks, etc.). The processing of Asbestos fibers is primarily performed manually, and occupational safety measures in this area are not generally common.

4.3.3 Research and Development

In China research projects on Asbestos are being performed in the areas of occupational safety and hygiene, and toxicology. These research projects are focussed mainly on the pathological changes induced by fibers in humans (e.g. Asbestosis und pneumoconiosis) and on the general relevance to health.

In comparison, very little research is concerned with Asbestos substitutes. This is due to the fact that Asbestos products are currently used in great amounts because of their good properties as thermal/acustic insulators and because of their mechanical properties. The development of substitutes does not have any priority or only low priority in China.

4.3.4 Substitutes

The introduction of Asbestos substitutes is limited to particular application areas, and even there they must be considered the exception. Examples are glass fiber reinforced plastic sheets as a substitute for Asbestos containing sheets (roof coverings) and reinforced concrete pipes as a substitute for Asbestos containing pipes. However, the application of Asbestos substitutes must be considered the exception rather than the rule.

4.3.5 Risk Philosophy

The controlling authorities (e.g. the Guangzhou Environmental Protection Agency) and research institutes are generally aware of the hazards of handling Asbestos containing materials. Special control measures are typically lacking, however. Although guidelines and administrative regulations limit the use of Asbestos (e.g. in newly introduced products), their implementation and any general progress in this field are hardly noticeable.

Consequently, Asbestos containing materials continue to be applied without any special protection measures.

On the other hand, Asbestosis and mesothelioma are recognized in China as occupational illnesses. However, there is no information available on the number of sick people. Apparently, most of the illnesses are attributed to Asbestosis, whereby the groups of peope between 18-40 years old are particularly affected.