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Street Art Versus Asbestos kicks off; Intramuros first to receive urban intervention

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Graffiti crews provided fresh urban intervention for the walled fort of Intramuros today as the Asbestos Street Fighters Street Art Competition Versus the Deadly Dust location battle begins. Ten teams, out of the total 46 teams which registered for the competition, will be going head-to-head today at Anda Street, Intramuros, Manila City, interpreting the competition theme “Asbestos Kills People”.

The competition will stretch until July 9, 2011 with the following schedules: May 14, 2011 - Intramuros, Manila, May 21, 2011 - Paliparan, Marikina, May 28, 2011 - Sun Valley, Paranaque, June 4, 2011 - Aurora Boulevard, Quezon City, June 11, 2011 - Subangdaku Wireless, Mandaue City, Cebu.

The Asbestos Street Fighters (www.streetversusasbestos.com) street art competition aims to bring together various street artists and anti-asbestos activists across the Philippines to propagate information regarding the dangers of Asbestos to human health. The location battles will serve as qualifying stages for the final head-to-head scheduled on July 9, 2011. The winner will go to Taiwan to represent the Philippines for the Asian Wall Lords 2011. This initiative is part of the Institute for Occupational Health and Safety Development (IOHSAD) commemoration of Workers Memorial Day 2011 (WMD 2011).

“We recognize the power and dynamism of this art form, which brings fresh and powerful messages, much appreciated by the young and old alike,” said Noel Colina, Executive Director of IOHSAD. “We intend to maximize the dynamism of street art to package the message that death via asbestos remains a threat lingering among the human population.”

Asbestos is a silent killer, the International Labour Organization estimates around 100,000 people dying every year, across the globe, because of Asbestos-related disease. Researchers in India suggests that in the year 2020, death from Asbestos can exceed 1 million, particularly in developing nations. Asbestos is considered a carcinogen, a cancer-causing material that can lead to fatal diseases, including lung cancer and Mesothelioma. Because of its well-established danger to human health, Asbestos is banned in 52 countries.

“In the Philippines, white Asbestos is still being used,” continued Colina. “Companies prefer asbestos because of its heat resistant properties and is being used for steam pipes and boilers, including construction materials like floor tiles, cement sheets, roofing and textured paints and also for vehicle parts like clutch lining and brake pads.”

According to Colina, Asbestos disease have a long latency period. A person can be exposed today but the disease and its symptoms will come out after 3 or 4 decades. Many victims find it difficult to associate their exposures to Asbestos to their current health predicament. The World Health Organization estimates that around 125 million people encounter Asbestos during work. With Asbestos still being used here in the Philippines, anyone, including families and friends can be exposed to the danger.

“By pushing for the development of bonds and relationships between street artists and anti-asbestos activists, we can learn from each other, build better synergies between our own movements, making it more potent and effective,” ended Colina.