In this Nov. 23, 2013 photo, discarded waste material lie in the Ramco Industries Ltd. factory which manufactures asbestos products in Bhojpur district of Bihar state, India. (AP Photo/Saurabh Das)
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The International Labor Organization, World Health Organization, medical researchers and more than 50 countries say the mineral should be banned; asbestos fibers lodge in the lungs and cause disease.There are some poor Indians trying to keep asbestos out of their communities.Durable and heat-resistant, asbestos was long a favorite insulation material in the West.The asbestos lobby says the mineral has been unfairly maligned by Western nations that used it irresponsibly. It also says one of the six forms of asbestos is safe: chrysotile, or white asbestos, which accounts for more than 95 percent of all asbestos used since 1900 .Russia now provides most asbestos on the world market.Billions have been spent stripping asbestos from buildings in the West.The two-day asbestos conference in December was billed as scientific, though organizers admitted they had no new research.The Indian lobby's website refers to 1998 WHO guidelines for controlled use of chrysotile, but skips updated WHO advice from 2007 suggesting all asbestos be banned.Many of the speakers are regulars at asbestos conferences in the developing world.India placed a moratorium on new asbestos mining in 1986, but never banned use of the mineral despite two Supreme Court orders.
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