Asbestos in South Korea to be addressed by revised ‘Asbestos Safe Management Act’

18 Jul 2016 by under News

South Korea flag 300x198 Asbestos in South Korea to be addressed by revised Asbestos Safe Management Act is making strides in preventing asbestos exposure by strengthening its management of buildings with asbestos during the abatement procedures. Taking effect mid-August, the revised Asbestos Safe Management Act will ensure that all buildings with asbestos have at least one safety supervisor at dismantling sites, unless they are more than 2,000 square meters, in which case they will need more than one.

Asbestos is a mineral that was used in building for generations due to its strength and fire-resistant properties. It was commonly used in insulation, flooring and roofing materials during the 1970s. However, the World Health Organization (WHO) now identifies asbestos as a carcinogen. Asbestos is dangerous when it becomes crushed or broken, as in a renovation or demolition project, because it can release microscopic fibers that may be ingested or inhaled. These fibers can result in asbestos diseases such as asbestosis, a severe scarring of the lungs, or mesothelioma, a deadly cancer that affects the lining of the lungs, abdomen or, rarely, the heart. There is no known cure for mesothelioma.

The original Asbestos Safe Management Act states that a safety supervisor must be chosen by the building’s landlord and have completed at least six hours of safety education. The safety supervisor is also responsible for keeping track of the asbestos condition within the building, including during the disposal process, which requires very specific instruction. Instruction must be followed carefully until the asbestos waste is disposed of and completely sealed.

“Exposure to fine particles of worn-out asbestos materials or during reconstruction can lead to health risks such as respiratory or lung disease. That is why it is very important to make sure dismantling or removal of asbestos are done in sealed areas,” Lee Seung-bok, a professor of Architectural Engineering at Yonsei University told The Korea Herald. “Like other developed countries which have used a large amount of asbestos in the past, using asbestos has not been a big deal.”

As of 2016, the Metropolitan Government reported that a total of 3,456 buildings within the capital city contain dangerous asbestos. The data also shows that out of all the school buildings in , an outstanding 78 percent are tainted by asbestos. The report continued to show that 50 percent of public facilities, 35 percent of senior centers and day care centers are also compromised by the presence of asbestos.

Source: The Korea Herald


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