Subway Passengers Exposed to Asbestos
By Bae Ji-sookStaff Reporter
Passengers are exposed to asbestos, a material that can cause cancer, when subway surfaces deteriorate and the material used for bonding them is released in the air.
This is the first time the material has been found in passenger sections of subway stations.
Seoul Metro conducted inspections on 30 subway stations from last November and found that 17 had asbestos in the ceilings and platforms.
Among those 17, 14 stations were on subway line 2 _ City hall, Euljiro Ipgu, Sangwangshimni, Hanyang University, Samsung, Sollung, Seoul National University of Education, Socho, Pangbae, Naksongdae, Pongchon, Mullae and Youngdungpogu office. The material was also found in the air at Chungmuro of line three and Sungshin Women’s University and Sookmyung Women’s University stations.
Asbestos is said to absorb noise, and stations used it on facilities to lessen the noise and vibration from trains.
It said that a particle of asbestos, as small as 0.02 micrometers, can lodge in human lung tissue and cause deadly diseases including cancer or malignant mesothelioma. Also, drinking fluid containing particles of asbestos is 20 times more dangerous than being exposed to radioactivity.
"The health of subway workers and passengers is actually in danger. But people are not as aware of the danger as they are for radioactivity," said Prof. Lim Sang-hyuk of Wonjin Green Hospital.
Seoul Metro said that asbestos used in construction is usually solid and safe at most times, but the aging of facilities might have caused the problem. "We will conduct monthly air quality audit from this year, and also gradually get rid of the asbestos," a company spokesman said.
In the United States or European countries, asbestos is banned from use and in Korea the use will be banned from industrial sites from 2009.
[The Korea Times]
Monday, January 22, 2007
asbestos in the subway