In the construction boom in the lead-up to the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games as well as major urban redevelopment projects, old buildings in the metropolitan area are being demolished in growing numbers. This adds to the urgency of the need to tighten regulations on dealing with asbestos, which was once widely used as a construction material and whose dust poses a serious health risk if inhaled.

From the 1960s to 2006, when it was banned in principle, asbestos was used as a low-cost construction material for fire-proofing and heat insulation in this country. Inhaling its tiny fibers — each roughly 1/5,000th the breadth of a hair — while cutting the materials at construction sites and spraying it on walls and ceilings exposed construction workers to the risk of contracting such illnesses as lung cancer and mesothelioma.

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