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LCQ13: Products and waste containing asbestos

     Following is a question by the Hon Leung Ka-lau and a written reply by the Secretary for the Environment, Mr Edward Yau, at the Legislative Council meeting today (March 30):


     It was reported that as early as 1977, the International Agency for Research on Cancer, a subsidiary of the World Health Organization, had classified asbestos (including chrysotile) as a carcinogen hazardous to human health, and no safe level of asbestos exposure could be specified. At present, more than 50 countries have imposed a total ban on the use of products containing asbestos to safeguard the health of workers and the public at large. However, Hong Kong still allows the import and sale of certain types of asbestos products at present. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) whether it knows the details (including the types and quantities) of the import into Hong Kong, re-export from Hong Kong, sale, usage and storage in Hong Kong of various kinds of asbestos materials and waste, as well as materials and waste containing asbestos, in 2008 and 2009 respectively; and

(b) as I have learnt that Taiwan is planning to impose a total ban on the use of asbestos in the next five years, whether the authorities also have the plan to impose a total ban on the use of products containing asbestos and the trading of such products in Hong Kong; if they have, of the details, if not, the reasons for that?



(a) According to the statistics of the Census and Statistics Department, there was no asbestos waste imported into and exported from Hong Kong. The import and export of various kinds of asbestos materials in 2008 and 2009 are enclosed at Table.

     We have no statistics on the sale, usage and storage of various kinds of asbestos materials in Hong Kong.

(b) Since 1996, we have banned the import and sale of the more hazardous blue and brown asbestos and substances containing these asbestos. We have also put asbestos abatement work, work which involves the use and handling of asbestos containing material and other related work under the control of the Air Pollution Control Ordinance. As regards substances containing white asbestos of which the import and sale have not been banned currently, their health hazard is lower. Even so, the import of these substances has already declined substantially as non-asbestos substitutes are widely available on the market. To further reduce the impact of asbestos and substance containing asbestos on the public, we are now formulating a proposal for banning the import, sale and use of all forms of asbestos and substance containing asbestos and will consult the trade about the proposal.

Ends/Wednesday, March 30, 2011
Issued at HKT 12:27


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