Asbestos is classified as a carcinogenic substance by the World Health Organization (WHO) over 45 years ago, completely banned in Europe since 2005, and forbidden in over 60 countries and five Brazilian states. But the 32,000 inhabitants of the town of Minaçu apparently have yet to receive the memo. Located in the north of the state of Goiás, some 365 kilometers from the capital Brasília, this municipality was born, grew, and continues to rely on asbestos to sustain its economy.
Minaçu is home to the only asbestos factory in Latin America — the third-largest in the world, smaller than plants in China and Russia. With its non-stop production, it is responsible for 13 percent of all the asbestos sold around the world, and half of what is consumed in Brazil.