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AC sheets roofing of Civil Supplies godowns posing a health hazard

Canacona: The corrugated cement sheets more commonly called “asbestos cement sheets” or “AC sheets” is a building material in which asbestos fibres are used to reinforce thin rigid cement sheets. The material rose to necessity during World War II to make sturdy, inexpensive military housing, and continued to be used as an affordable substitute world over thereafter.Goa has many government and private structures with asbestos cement sheets on top of the roofs. With lack of information and knowledge on the health hazards posed by the asbestos fibre it is still a preferred choice both in rural and urban areas due to its affordability and durability.Most of the developed countries have banned the cement sheets containing asbestos as when exposed to weather and erosion elements, such as in roofs, the surface corrosion of asbestos cement can be a source of airborne toxic fibres.Medical studies have also proved that asbestos is also directly related to a number of life-threatening diseases including asbestosis, pleural mesothelioma (a fatal lung cancer that affects the lining of the lungs) and peritoneal mesothelioma (a form of cancer that affects the lining of the abdomen).
A specific area of concern to the locals of Canacona is the presence of a godown of civil supplies located at Mastimoll in Canacona built decades ago to store food grains and other items supplied through the fair price shops still having such type of asbestos cement sheets.Sources said there is a possibility of health hazard to the people of Canacona as such chemical carcinogens exposed to food grains and other edible items can cause health issues over a period of time.Enquiries at the department of civil supplies revealed that most of the 11 godowns in different talukas of Goa have asbestos cement sheets roofing since they were built after liberation of Goa when other roofing material was not available locally. Since it also involves huge costs it is difficult to replace the roofing of all the godowns at the same time.They are replacing the sheets whenever a godown comes up for due repair, said sources at the Department of Civil Supplies. [H]

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