Target: Asbest City Council
Goal: Halt production of asbestos to protect residents and workers and develop safer alternatives for building materials
The town of Asbest in the Ural Mountains is a focal point of Russia’s thriving asbestos industry. As a known carcinogen, exposure to asbestos can lead to respiratory ailments and cancer. Asbest means asbestos in Russian and is one of many Russian towns completely dependent on one sprawling factory that serves as the primary employer and foundation of the local economy. Demand the town adapt to safer alternatives for building materials.
Asbestos is a cancer-causing building material used in fireproofing and insulation. Daily explosions from the mine send asbestos fiber and dust into the air, infiltrating into houses and covering crops. Exposure to asbestos has been proven to cause various respiratory ailments. Many workers from the factories and mines experience a persistent cough and skin inflammation. The International Agency for Research on Cancer is conducting a multiyear study of the town’s asbestos workers to determine other possible illnesses linked to asbestos such as ovarian cancer.
According to the New York Times, Russia has the world’s largest reserve of asbestos, accounting for a $540 million industry annually. The town is also home to the world’s largest open pit asbestos mine, which has displaced residents as it has expanded through the years. A study by the Russian Government revealed 25 million people out of a total 142 million living in towns where the one primary industry can’t close, even if it’s polluting.
Since the 1970s, many countries have placed harsh restrictions on asbestos, as well as extra precautions for workers in asbestos production. Japan and the European Union have banned asbestos entirely. As the New York Times explains, Russia’s judicial system “favors powerful producers,” making it difficult to successfully file lawsuits to close asbestos factories. Furthermore, as more countries ban asbestos, demand continues to grow from less developed countries. This is a major obstacle that prevents Russia from shifting away from asbestos production. China and India are the primary customers, where asbestos remains a common building material.
Despite health concerns, the town is resistant to closing asbestos mines and factories as so many livelihoods depend on the industry. Sign this petition to express your disapproval of the destructive asbestos industry in Russia and demand a safer alternative.
Dear Asbest City Council,
As the town’s City Council, you must recognize the serious environmental and health consequences of Asbests’ reliance on asbestos mining. It’s your responsibility to protect residents and work towards a more stable economy based on safer building materials.
Although it provides employment and support to the local economy, the health consequences from asbestos exposure and the forced relocation of residents away from mines have made asbestos more of a burden then a benefit to the town. As a major center of the national asbestos industry, Asbest has the potential to play a major role in the shift toward a safer and cleaner economy. We implore you to help Russia join other developed countries in banning asbestos.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Ktorbeck via Wikimedia Commons