Asbestos victims support groups, trade unions and UK campaigning bodies are urging local authorities, government agencies and market surveillance bodies to prioritize the threat posed by the possible asbestos contamination of UK imports.
An exposé in the United States earlier this month documented the presence of various types of asbestos fibres in crayons and toy fingerprinting kits imported from China.
Previously, Korean researchers identified asbestos contamination in baby powder from China and authorities in Italy, Spain and Ireland seized toxic thermos flasks also sourced from China. It is relevant to note that not only is China the world’s second biggest asbestos user, consuming over one million tonnes in 2013 and 2014, but China is also now the UK’s second largest import partner accounting for 7% of all UK imports in 2014.
How many of these imports contain asbestos?
Research undertaken last week revealed that products marketed by the toxic brands can be purchased online in the UK. Expressing the concerns of UK victims, John Flanagan from the Forum of Asbestos Victims’ Support Groups said:
“Thousands of people die every year because of past asbestos exposure at work and at home. Despite the UK asbestos ban, hazardous exposures to asbestos continue through lax enforcement of legislation and employer negligence.
If these crayons are being imported to the USA and Australia, it is possible they are also finding their way into the UK. The Government needs to assure people that these products are not being sold here and confirm the measures being taken to monitor imports from China and other countries to ensure that no products containing asbestos reach this country.”