South Africa facing an asbestos epidemic

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Dozens of South Africans still die of asbestos-related diseases every year, despite the closure of asbestos mines in the mid-1980s.
The most recent victims, a 19-year-old and a 60-year-old man from Kuruman in the Northern Cape, died last week from secondary pollution from asbestos.

The deaths came in the wake of a 2005/6 government study on the extent of pollution at former mining sites.

The objective of the study was to highlight the potential extent of secondary pollution.

Dr Shahieda Adams, a medical specialist in occupational and environmental health, said although the government was trying to prohibit the use and manufacture of asbestos, the fibre had a long latency period and problems could manifest only years after people were exposed to it.

 

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