The government said Tuesday it will tighten regulations on the use of asbestos by examining levels of the carcinogenic construction material in public buildings and other sites.
Asbestos exposure becomes a health concern when high concentrations of asbestos fibers are inhaled over time, causing asthma, respiratory disease or even lung cancer. South Korea has banned the material’s use in new construction projects since the late 1990s for health and safety reasons.
At a weekly Cabinet meeting presided over by Prime Minister Kim Hwang-sik, the government passed an enforcement ordinance to require all state or public institution buildings with a total floor area of 500 square meters or more to survey their asbestos levels.
Buildings with at least 50 square meters of asbestos-containing material will have to take control measures, Cabinet members agreed.
The government said it will also limit the permissible level of asbestos near sites removing the material to 0.01 part per cubic centimeter.
Any imports or production of material possibly containing asbestos will need the approval of the environment minister, it added.