Asbestosis in India 

by Laurie Kazan-Allen



A paper entitled: Asbestosis in an Asbestos Composite Mill in Mumbai: A Prevalence Study, which was published in the journal of Environmental Health in October 2005, estimated that:

"6,000 workers are directly exposed and nearly 100,000 workers indirectly exposed to asbestos (in India). The prevalence rate of Asbestosis in our study was 23%, which was less than the expected prevalence among workers exposed to asbestos for more than 20 years... This is mainly due to the "healthy worker effect" (i.e., most of the affected workers in past years have either died or have been removed from employment due to lockouts). Some have opted for early retirement coerced by the management. There are less than 30 cases of Asbestosis compensated in India among the 100,000 exposed workers."

The survey was conducted among 232 current workers at the company: Hindustan Composites formerly called Hindustan Ferodo and previously called Asbestos Magnesia and Friction Materials. The company was set up in Mumbai in1949 to act as a sales agent for T&N Group1 products, and a few years later it was launched as a manufacturing concern with a factory at Ghatkopar, near Bombay. The T&N ownership remained for many years. In a BBC radio programme broadcast on October 14, 1993, Dr. James Allerdice, Turner & Newall's group medical officer, said that the company could have done more to protect its overseas employees. He regretted that workers in India and Africa had died from asbestos-related diseases when knowledge and techniques were available which could have prevented these fatalities. During the research for this programme, the BBC reporter witnessed horrendous asbestos exposures at T&N's subsidiary Hindustan Ferodo Ltd. (Bombay), where primitive and dangerous conditions still existed.

November 8, 2005


1 The T&N Group of asbestos companies was one of the largest in the world and the dominant asbestos company in the UK for much of the 20th century. It was bought in 1998 by the US automotive multinational Federal Mogul.



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