J Korean Med Assoc.  2009 May;52(5):442-448. 10.5124/jkma.2009.52.5.442.

Occupational and Environmental Asbestos Exposure in Korea

  • 1Department of Preventive Medicine and Industrial Medical Center, The Catholic University of Korea College of Medicine, Korea. jwkoo@catholic.ac.kr, cyclor@catholic.ac.kr


Asbestos had been produced from the 1930s to the early 1990s in Korea. There has been gradual increase of importing asbestos until the middle 1990s in response to increased use of asbestos as Korea's economy developed rapidly. Asbestos was mainly used to make constructional material like slate, which leads to constant exposure of asbestos even after forbidding its use. It was reported that the highest level of occupational asbestos exposure occurred in asbestos textile industries. Other industries including shipbuild repair, automobile repair, and demolition work are also reported to have high level of exposure. The number of exposed workers, except for some demolition workers, is expected to be reduced since the use of asbestos has been banned from 2009. However, asbestos already used in buildings will make continuous environmental exposures. There are also several reports on naturally occurring asbestos from soils in Korea, which had already happened in Turkey, Greece, and China. The Korean government should try to give more effort to control the used asbestos and to care for exposed people.


Asbestos; Textile industry; Environmental exposure
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