South Korea's drug safety agency banned the sale of 1,222 medical goods which contain talcum powder contaminated with asbestos, and ordered their recall from stores.
The government separately banned imports of talcum powder containing asbestos, a toxic mineral that can cause serious illnesses such as malignant mesothelioma and lung cancer.
AdvertisementTalcum power is widely used in items ranging from surgical gloves to drug capsules and cosmetic products. The European Union since 2005 has ordered manufacturers to refine the powder thoroughly to remove asbestos.
The Korea Food and Drug Administration said it had banned the sale of 1,122 medical products suspected to be contaminated with asbestos.
It said 1,111 products would be immediately removed from the market and 11 others a month later.
The administration has come in for criticism for failing to protect public safety after announcing last week it had detected the harmful material in 11 brands of baby powder and cosmetic products.
"I sincerely apologise for causing public anxiety," its chief Yoon Yeo-Pyo said, adding his office would also screen all cosmetic products.
The prime minister's office said the government placed an import ban on talcum powder containing asbestos. It promised to conduct asbestos screening for rubber, paper and other industrial products using talcum powder.
The JoongAng Daily has urged the government to work out safety standards on asbestos.
"There are now fears that medicines and household goods might also be affected," it said in an editorial Wednesday.
"We're now in a situation where we don't know which household goods we use every day are contaminated by this dangerous material," it said.
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