Asbestos is a Group 1 carcinogenic substance listed by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). To reduce the risk of exposure, on 24 June the EPA pointed out that it will soon begin planning for an early ban on the use of asbestos in vehicle brake pads. The EPA expects to announce amendments to the relevant regulations by the end of 2016, which will represent another step on the road to the complete banning of asbestos use in Taiwan, thus safeguarding public health.
As early as May 1989, the EPA announced asbestos to be a Category 2 toxic chemical substance in accordance with the Toxic Substances Control Act. Over the years, the use of asbestos has become more restricted, and a timetable for a complete phase-out on asbestos has been formulated. The EPA is already enforcing the bans on the production, importation, or sale of crocidolite and amosite; asbestos in new drinking water piping and peripheral components; and the manufacturing of asbestos panels, asbestos piping, fiber cement board containing asbestos, asbestos waterproof adhesives, asbestos-containing heat insulation materials, calcium silicate boards, asbestos ropes, asbestos paddings, asbestos shingles, etc. There is now a blanket ban on the use of asbestos except for use in brake pads which was originally scheduled to be banned from 1 July 2018. However, given the risk to public health from exposure to asbestos the EPA is considering an earlier ban on asbestos in brake pads. The EPA will follow the regulation amendment procedures to revise the asbestos control regulations. It is estimated that the revised ban on asbestos use will be announced at the end of 2016.
There has been some concern among the public about asbestos in construction materials, and the EPA would like to remind anyone who has asbestos materials in need of removal should hire a licensed construction or demolition firm to do the job so as to prevent the inhalation of fugitive toxic asbestos dust. According to the Ministry of the Interior’s Regulations Governing Building Demolition, demolition firms must adopt the dust control measures laid out in the regulations and follow the regulations concerning protective gear for workers, pre-demolition inspection, asbestos removal best practices, and waste disposal.
Since a ban on asbestos in new drinking water pipes came into effect as early as 1 May 1989, all drinking water operators have complied with the regulations. The EPA is confident that none of Taiwan’s drinking water pipes contain asbestos.
- Environmental Protection Administration, R.O.C.(Taiwan)