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Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2018 Jan 25;15(2). pii: E198. doi: 10.3390/ijerph15020198.

The Asbestos Ban in Korea from a Grassroots Perspective: Why Did It Occur?

Author information

1
Department of Environmental Health, School of Public Health, Seoul National University, Seoul 08826, Korea. yyy001@hanmail.net.
2
Department of Environmental Health, School of Public Health, Seoul National University, Seoul 08826, Korea. ggm1981@snu.ac.kr.
3
Department of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Gachon University Gil Medical Center, Incheon 21565, Korea. ggm1981@snu.ac.kr.
4
Asia Citizen's Center for Environment and Health, Seoul 03184, Korea. choiyy@kfem.or.kr.
5
Department of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Wonjin Green Hospital, Seoul 02228, Korea. dudunanum@hanmail.net.
6
Department of Public Health, Keimyung University, Daegu 42601, Korea. jwbahk@gmail.com.
7
Department of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Pusan National University Yangsan Hospital, Yangsan 50612, Korea. kangdm@pusan.ac.kr.
8
Department of Environmental Health, School of Public Health, Seoul National University, Seoul 08826, Korea. paekdm@snu.ac.kr.
9
Institute of Health and Environment, Seoul National University, Seoul 08826, Korea. paekdm@snu.ac.kr.

Abstract

In 2009, asbestos was finally banned in Korea, about 70 years after the first opening of asbestos mines under Japanese control. After having presented the history of asbestos industry, together with its regulations and health effects over time, we constructed narrative analyses of how the asbestos issue under the prevailing risk system was managed by whom and for what purpose, to provide context for the change. We could identify five different phases: laissez-faire, politico-technical, economic-managerial, health-oriented cultural, and human rights-based post-cultural risk systems. The changes leading to the asbestos ban evolved over different phases, and each phase change was necessary to reach the final ban, in that, without resolving the previous issues by examining different categories of potential alternatives, either the final ban was not possible or, even if instituted, could not be sustained. An asbestos ban could be introduced when all the alternatives to these issues, including legitimate political windows, economic rationalizations, health risk protections, and human rights sensitivities, were available. We think the alternatives that we had were not in perfect shape, but in more or less loosely connected forms, and hence we had to know how to build solidarities between different stakeholders to compensate for the imperfections.

KEYWORDS:

Korea; asbestos ban; grassroots; health and safety stage; health-oriented cultural change; narrative analysis

PMID:
29370079
PMCID:
PMC5858267
DOI:
10.3390/ijerph15020198
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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