South Korea Officials React to Reports of High Asbestos Levels at Ballparks, Stadiums
September 29, 2011
The government of South Korea ordered the ground at ballparks and stadiums in Busan sprayed down to prevent deadly asbestos fibers from becoming airborne, but the sporting venues will remain open for the time being.
An active anti-asbestos group, the Asian Citizen’s Center for Environment and Health, said it had soil samples analyzed from five ballparks in the country, and each sample found 0.25 to 1.0 percent of asbestos in each sample.
One of the venues tested was Sajik stadium in Busan, a port city in southeast South Korea. It is home to a professional baseball team, and its soil sample tested at 1.0 percent, the group said.
Since 2009, the country has banned the importation, use and manufacturing of any products with more than 0.1-percent asbestos.
Asbestos is a world-wide health contaminant and is the known cause of diseases like mesothelioma cancer and asbestosis. About 55 countries around the world have banned its use. Although its use it is heavily regulated, it is not banned in the United States.
Following the testing in South Korea, the asbestos group asked that no games be played in the parks where the mineral was found in high amounts. But South Korea’s Ministry of Environment said the professional baseball league games that were scheduled would continue.
The government said it would periodically spray water on the fields to help prevent any asbestos fibers from becoming airborne.
The South Koren Education Ministry said it will also inspect playgrounds that may have high levels of asbestos in the soil. The environmental watchdog group reported it found asbestos on eight playgrounds around the country.
Yeyong Choi, Executive Director of the Ban Asbestos Network Korea (BANKO) and a Director of the Asian Citizen’s Center for Environment and Health, has said that asbestos awareness in South Korea is not what it should be and that its use is still too prevalent.
Over the past decade, Asian countries imported 76 percent of their asbestos from Canada, up from 70 percent just a few years earlier.