More than 800 tons of asbestos from Russia were dumped eight months ago at the Mexican Gulf coast port of Veracruz and represents a health risk for the population, the Reforma newspaper reported Saturday.

In its front-page story, the daily said the material was imported by the Mexalit company, which makes construction materials.

According to the article, the product was stored in Veracruz in October 2012 when Mexalit asked a transport company to keep it at the port because its warehouses were full.

The transport company, which the daily did not identify, apparently did so but filed a complaint this year with the Veracruz state Attorney General's Office for Mexalit's failure to pay the storage, according to the article.

Faced with that situation, the transporter dumped the asbestos in the port's Supply Center loading zone, located on the Veracruz-Xalapa highway, in a populated area, the paper said.

Reforma said the material is being handled with little protection by the Center's workers and remains outdoors, with its packing deteriorating and with no measures being taken to avoid its fibers drifting into the air.

The newspaper cited a note by the World Health Organization, or WHO, which says that prolonged exposure to asbestos fibers, which do not decompose easily nor can be diluted in water and can remain airborne for a considerable time, can cause grave damage to the respiratory system.

All forms of asbestos are carcinogenic for humans and may cause mesothelioma and cancer of the lungs, larynx and ovaries, the WHO document says. EFE