• Kyodo

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The municipal government here conducted an examination Thursday to measure how much asbestos enters the air when a building is demolished.

The examination was conducted at a demolition site in the city using special equipment to measure asbestos density in the air.

If the city’s measurements exceed 10 particles per liter, the limit set under the Air Pollution Law, it will ask construction firms to change their demolition methods.

The examination began at 11 a.m. at an old paint factory. No details were provided on the level of asbestos measured.

The equipment was set up to filter air at several places about 1.5 meters above ground, about where a standing adult’s nose would be.

The city plans to conduct more tests to check asbestos volume at demolition sites with floor space exceeding 1,000 sq. meters.

“Demolition of buildings will be the main focus of asbestos pollution,” said Sadayuki Tomoe, an official in charge of counter-pollution measures at the municipal government.

“We want the central government to set measures to regulate the density of asbestos in the air at such demolition sites.”

Alternatives studied

The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry held a meeting of medical and engineering experts Thursday to examine alternatives to asbestos amid mounting concerns over asbestos-linked deaths and health problems.

The ministry has said it plans to fully ban the use and production of asbestos by 2008.

The panel will look into industrial products that still use asbestos, including sealing materials for chemical plants and some electrical insulating materials.

The nine experts, including professors from medical and engineering schools, will seek to establish the range of products that contain asbestos, explore alternative materials and decide when to replace them.

The team is expected to compile a report by January to fully ban asbestos.

Asbestos is a naturally occurring fireproof fibrous mineral widely used for heat insulation and other industrial purposes. Exposure can cause mesothelioma, lung cancer and other health problems.

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