A number of government officials from around the world have recently met in Hong Kong for a five day meeting to discuss improvement in regulations for safety within the global ship breaking industry to minimise the risk of exposure to asbestos and other hazardous materials that can be found aboard vessels.

The officials were looking at making the recycling of old ships more environmentally friendly, and also at ways to protect people from the harmful debris that can be released during the ship breaking process. However, critics have said that the proposals resulting from the meeting would have limited impact on the safety of workers and would do little do reduce pollution.

In many places around the world, but in particular in South Asia, many workers are killed after being exposed to deadly asbestos and other toxins during the ship breaking process. Areas such as beaches and waters are also being contaminated due to unsafe practices during ship breaking according to some officials.

The concern is that many older ships that end up having to be destroyed or recycled contain a lot of asbestos, and the age of the vessels means that the asbestos becomes more friable, posing a greater danger to workers and the environment.

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