6 Countries to Watch for Asbestos Use and Abuse

Chinese Workers Unloading Asbestos with No Protection

Even with all the scientific evidence linking asbestos to a variety of serious health risks, many countries are still in the asbestos business.

The cheapness of the material, its indestructibility, and the fact that it is fire-resistant, all play into why asbestos is so popular in developing countries. Its usefulness is understandable, but not at the risk of someone’s health, right?

Well, these countries don’t seem to mind.

Asbestos Use and Abuse by Country

  • Canada Canada is one of the most notable countries to watch right now because it is a large exporter of asbestos to underdeveloped countries. Asbestos was considered “Canada’s Gold” before medical researchers linked asbestos exposure to serious health problems like mesothelioma cancer and other illnesses. Production of asbestos in Canada recently halted for an undetermined amount of time, though the country’s mines continue to sell small amounts of asbestos from their inventories.

  • India Currently the second- largest consumer of asbestos products behind China, India has an estimated 55,000 workers unmindful of the lethal effects of the asbestos-laden material, working long hours exposed to its deadly fibers. In India, asbestos is known as the “poor man’s roof,” because of its durability and fire-resistance. Plus, asbestos is available almost  everywhere.

  • Russia Russia is the world’s largest producer of asbestos as well as the third-largest consumer of it. In fact, in 2008 Russian mines yielded more than 1 million tons of asbestos, which is the nearly half the world’s supply and more than three times that of the next-largest producer, China. Russia then shipped nearly two-thirds of its supply overseas – pouring into world markets more asbestos than the next four top exporting countries combined. Their leading customers you ask? Thailand, China and India.

  • China In China, asbestos is a booming industry. As the world’s second- largest producer and the largest consumer, China has more than 400 factories turning out 300 million square meters of asbestos sheeting for roofs and walls each year. Other factories make braking pads, gaskets and cloth. It is reported that in 2007 China used 626,000 metric tons of asbestos, more than twice that of India.

  • Kazakhstan With about 220,000 metric tons of asbestos produced every year, Kazakhstan is the fourth-largest producer and consumer of asbestos in the world. Asbestos containing materials are used without restriction in public buildings such as hospitals and schools in addition to be used for brake pads and other materials.

  • Thailand As the fifth-largest consumer of asbestos, Thailand imports the material to be used in the production of building materials. In recent years, Thailand has been consistently among the top seven consuming countries, accounting for up to 11% of annual consumption in Asia and 7% worldwide.

These are just a few of the countries still utilizing asbestos materials to build and construct homes among other uses. With this many people being exposed to the fibers, an epidemic of asbestos sufferers is on the horizon.  What do you think should be done to stop it? Should worldwide bans be put in place? How do we stop this business of asbestos?


Nadia Persaud joined the Mesothelioma Center in 2011 as the Social Media Community Analyst. She is excited to be spreading awareness about asbestos safety and new developments in the industry with our online community. If you have a story idea for Nadia, please email her at npersaud@asbestos.com.

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