26 May 2005

France to fund new study of New Caledonia's asbestos problems

4:10 pm on 26 May 2005

France is to fund a new study into the incidence of asbestos related deaths in New Caledonia after figures showed a high fatality rate in some Kanak communities.

The news agency, AFP, says this follows findings that certain rocks used in the construction of traditional houses have an asbestos fibre content which is 400 times higher than advised as the norm in French building codes.

But a researcher at the Pasteur Institute says there appears no clear link between the presence of the rock and the incidence of cancer.

The researcher says over an 18-year period, 20 people died of the cancer in the town of Houailou which is 250 times the global average for such a population.

Questions are now being asked whether there could be a link to nickel ore but studies show the cancer strikes men and women in same numbers.