UICC Position Statement on Asbestos
The majority of industrialised countries have virtually ceased using asbestos and over 50 countries have passed laws banning its use(1). Consequently, the asbestos industry, to establish new markets, is promoting the use of asbestos in low-to-middle income countries, particularly in Asia, and has created lobby organisations to achieve this goal(2).
In spite of the scientific evidence and calls to end all use of asbestos by many organisations including the World Health Organization, the World Federation of Public Health Associations, the International Commission on Occupational Health, the International Social Security Association, the International Trade Union Confederation and the World Bank, the use of asbestos is increasing in low-to-middle income countries. There is little awareness in these countries of the risk that asbestos poses to health; in addition, safety regulations are weak to non-existent. If unstopped, this continued and increasing use of asbestos will lead to avoidable asbestos-related cancers and lung diseases and premature death for decades to come in those countries, repeating the epidemic we are witnessing today in industrialised countries that used asbestos in the past.
UICC Position and Recommendation to Governments
- Calls for a global ban on the mining, use, and export of all forms of asbestos;
- Calls specifically on all asbestos exporting countries to respect the right to health by ceasing the mining, use, and export of asbestos, and providing transition assistance to their asbestos-mining communities;
- Calls specifically on the all asbestos-using countries to cease use of asbestos;
- Urges all countries that have used asbestos to inform their citizens and their healthcare professionals of the hazards of asbestos and to implement safety measures to monitor the health of citizens who are likely to have been exposed at any point in their lives. To facilitate this, an inventory of asbestos already in place is needed, particularly in schools and places where children are present.
*This position draws heavily from Position Statement on Asbestos from the Joint Policy Committee of the Societies of Epidemiology (JPC-SE), approved June 4, 2012
- Worldwide asbestos supply and consumption trends from 1900 to 2000 Robert L Virta; Geological Survey (U.S.) (Nov 2011)
LAST UPDATED: AUGUST 2012