On 1st October 2016 New Zealand will join 57 other countries worldwide in banning the importation of asbestos. The ban was announced recently by New Zealand’s environment minister, Nick Smith.
Exposure to asbestos can give rise to a risk of developing a variety of serious medical conditions, including mesothelioma, asbestosis, pleural thickening and asbestos-related lung cancer. The World Health Organisation estimates that 100,000 people die annually from conditions caused by asbestos exposure.
Despite the dangers posed by asbestos, progress towards banning the use and importation of this dangerous substance on a worldwide basis has been slow. In New Zealand asbestos has been regulated since 1978, but the country continued to manufacture asbestos based building materials until 1987.
Even when the new ban is introduced in October, there will still be some exceptions. When announcing the ban Smith stated that “a permit will only be issued if there is genuinely no alternative product available or if the alternative would be disproportionately expensive”
Despite the new ban, it is thought that fatalities from asbestos related conditions will continue to occur for several decades. This is because there is typically a latency period of between 10 and 50 years between exposure to asbestos and the first symptoms of an asbestos-related condition affecting sufferers.
The new ban in New Zealand has been welcomed there and around the world by experts and campaigners, but the delay in introducing the latest restrictions was lamented.
David Skegg, an epidemiologist at the University of Otago told the New Zealand Herald:- “I think New Zealand was unusually slack in dealing with this issue. Until the recent past, you have to say that the challenge of asbestos was largely ignored in New Zealand”
UK based campaigner Laurie Kazan-Allen, who is coordinator of the International Ban Asbestos Secretariat, was more succinct, saying “It’s about bloody time”.
If you require assistance in pursuing a mesothelioma claim or believe you have a valid asbestos claim for any other asbestos disease, then please contact us today on our freephone number 0800 038 6767. Alternatively, head over to the ‘Contact Us’ page, complete the form and we will be in touch.