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South Korea Environmental Group Urges Government Study

A national environmental group is urging the government of South Korea to conduct additional studies regarding possible health problems from asbestos used in Seoul Metro subway stations.

Earlier this week South Korea's government released a study on subway workers who are developing lung cancer and mesothelioma at an alarming rate. Of the 2900 Seoul Metro workers studied, 30 percent have been diagnosed with respiratory conditions, nearly three times the national average.

The doctors in charge of the study added that the presence of asbestos within the stations was the likely source of many of those problems. Their conclusions led The Korean Federation for Environmental Movement to request additional studies that would examine commuter health in addition to that of subway employees.

The presence of asbestos in South Korea's subway system has been known for some time. In early 2007 Seoul Metro conducted inspections at 30 stations and found 17 contained asbestos on their ceilings or platforms. Seoul Metro used asbestos to reduce noise and vibration from trains long before its dangers were fully understood.

Recently a South Korean family received a landmark verdict that for the first time held a company accountable for a worker's death following their exposure to asbestos.