Asbestos fears

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Asbestos fears

The belated actions of the Korea Food and Drug Administration concerning the danger from asbestos is cause for concern.

We know that the administration was made aware five years ago that talc used to make baby powder poses a serious health risk.

But the office has taken no action to improve the situation, even though it received a research paper exploring the details of this danger.

Instead, the officials looked on with folded arms as Europe and the United States imposed sanctions in 2005 and 2006 preventing talc from the entering the manufacturing process for baby care products such as baby powder.

The administration was late to investigate, apparently acting only after a television program raised questions about asbestos and released results showing that traces of it had been found in 12 out of 30 baby powder products on the market. The day after the results of the study were made public, the administration hurriedly issued a notification requiring inspections of products using asbestos as an ingredient before they reached the market.

There are now fears that medicines and household goods might also be affected. We’re now in a situation where we don’t know which household goods we use every day are contaminated by this dangerous material.

However, the administration is at a loss as to how to proceed in this matter, it seems. The only thing it did was disclose to the public eight talc providers that use asbestos.

It has not issued any guidelines on how it would deal with products containing asbestos manufactured by these companies.

Instead, it has been left up to the cosmetics and pharmaceutical companies to take responsibility for swiftly recalling defective products.

It’s fair to say hardly anyone is impressed with the way the administration has handled this incident.

What it should have done at the outset is collect expert views and let people know what the safety exposure standard is for asbestos found in cosmetics and medicines. In order to soothe frayed nerves it should release its findings on companies that received the ingredient after conducting a through investigation.

We should be told which companies and manufacturers are involved.

In addition, appropriate measures should be taken regarding the danger of exposure to asbestos in places such as demolition and construction sites as well as in subway stations.

The government must devise a strategy immediately that will publicize the extent of dangers posed by asbestos in different products to allay people’s mounting fears.
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