ABOUT 15,000 residents in Labasa continue to receive water channelled through asbestos pipes installed in the 1960s, according to the Water Authority of Fiji.
But the authority has assured consumers they are not exposed to health risks although some countries around the world and the European Union have banned the use of asbestos.
The authority yesterday clarified asbestos pipes only become dangerous if disturbed and release asbestos particles into the air which people inhale.
It said a budget of $0.5million would be used to replace existing asbestos pipes in the residential areas of Batinikama and Vunivau, outside Labasa Town.
WAF said there were no asbestos pipes in Savusavu and Taveuni.
A search on Google revealed that although the measurement of asbestos fibres in drinking water was technically difficult, research indicated that most water, whether or not distributed through asbestos cement pipes, contained asbestos fibres.
It said asbestos cement pipes could give rise to an increase in the numbers of asbestos fibres in drinking water, particularly when first installed.
The World Health Organisation considered asbestos in drinking water arising from asbestos cement pipe in their 1993 edition of the Guidelines for Drinking Water Quality.
WHAT IS ASBESTOS
Asbestos is a group of minerals with thin microscopic fibres.
Because these fibres are resistant to heat, fire, and chemicals and do not conduct electricity, asbestos has been mined and used widely in the construction, automotive, and other industries.
If products containing asbestos are disturbed, the tiny fibres are released into the air. When they are breathed in, they can become trapped in the lungs and stay there for many years.
Over time these fibres could accumulate and lead to serious health problems including lung cancer.
Source : Webmd Website