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Brazilian Supreme Court Bans Use of Asbestos in Brazil

11/30/2017 - 12h36

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LETÍCIA CASADO
FROM BRASÍLIA

By a vote of 7 to 2 on Wednesday (the 29th), the Brazilian Supreme Federal Court (STF) banned the production, commercialization and use of asbestos in Brazil. The substance is currently used in the production of roofing tiles and water tanks, but health organizations point to its risk of being a carcinogen.

The justices declared article 2 of federal law 9.055/90, which regulates the exploration of minerals in the country and allows for the utilization of asbestos in a "controlled" fashion to be unconstitutional. The justices are analyzing a case involving the law in the State of Rio de Janeiro, but the ban is valid for the entire country.

The case's Rapporteur, Rosa Weber, voted against the use of asbestos and was followed by six colleagues. Their interpretation is that there are no safe levels for the use of asbestos, and therefore, it should be banned. Alexandre de Moraes and Marco Aurélio voted in favor of the continued use of the material.

Pedro Ladeira/Folhapress
Justice Rosa Weber, of Brazil's Federal Supreme Court
Justice Rosa Weber, of Brazil's Federal Supreme Court

In August, the STF had voted in favor of maintaining the prohibition of asbestos in the State of São Paulo, which had already been ordered by a state law. At the time, the justices had already decided that the production and commercialization of asbestos was unconstitutional. But six votes were needed to change the federal law and they didn't have the necessary quorum at that time.

The asbestos industry has argued that the type that is produced in Brazil has a high level of embedded safety. Asbestos has already been prohibited in more than 60 different countries due to its lack of safety, but in Brazil, its use has continued in the production of the majority of roofing tiles.

Translated by LLOYD HARDER

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