Macau (MNA) – The Macao Water Supply Company Limited announced on Tuesday that all remaining plumbing in the city containing asbestos, a material known to cause serious health problems, will be replaced in 2019.
During a presentation by the Macau government Coordination Group for Road Works on works for 2019, a representative from the water supply company indicated that there are currently 1.4 kilometres of asbestos plumbing in the city – less than 1 per cent of the current city plumbing network – with 44 works to be conducted next year to replace them.
“These asbestos plumbings are very disperse and small, being located in crossroads so we did not have the conditions before to replace them. So we will try to conduct these works next year,” the Macao Water Senior Water Officer, Lam Keng Fu, said today.
Asbestos is a heat-resistant fibrous silicate mineral that can be woven into fabrics, and is used in fire-resistant and insulating materials. Since the 1800’s pipe manufacturing and fitting has been using asbestos as its composing material or for insulation and fireproof purposes.
However, research indicating that breathing in air containing asbestos fibres could lead to lung cancer and chest lining led to the use of asbestos materials being restricted worldwide.
According to Ms. Lam asbestos was being used as a material for main plumbing with a diameter higher than 300 mm in Macau as early as the 1980’s.
“In the 1990’s health concerns connected to asbestos already lead to the replacement of these pipes little by little […] We predict that by 2019 such plumbing will be replaced,” she added.
However according to the Macao Water official these plumbings were being replaced due to their fragility and possible damage created by temperature changes than possible health dangers.
In the beginning of this year health concerns connected to the removal of asbestos roof sheeting material at the construction storage site near the Macau Anglican College, led to the intervention of the Environmental Protection Bureau (DSPA)
However in recent statements to TDM TV, the DSPA indicated they had no information on how many construction sites still had to remove asbestos materials and that there was no intentions to criminalise the use of this material, with the department director previously stating that more than 1,000 could still have asbestos.