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Asbestos pushed on Asia's poorest

Banned in west, the cancer-causing mineral is being hawked from India to Thailand

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  • Writer: Katy Daigle / AP Environment Writer
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VAISHALI, India – The executives mingled over tea and sugar cookies, and the chatter was upbeat. Their industry, they said at the conference in the Indian capital, saves lives and brings roofs, walls and pipes to some of the world's poorest people. 

A worker covers his face with a handkerchief as he sees people photographing him and his co-worker handling asbestos sheets at the Ramco Industries Ltd factory in Bhojpur district of Bihar state, India. Scientists and medical experts overwhelmingly agree that inhaling any form of asbestos can lead to deadly diseases, but the Indian asbestos lobby say the risks are overblown. (AP photo)

The industry's wonder product, though, is one whose very name evokes the opposite: asbestos. A largely outlawed scourge to the developed world, it is still going strong in the developing one, and killing tens of thousands of people each year.

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