Asbestos-related deaths are preventable. That is part of why asbestos-related deaths are especially tragic and inspire the work we do at Kazan Law as asbestos attorneys. But asbestos-related deaths continue to occur because uncaring people place profits before human lives. My unrelenting concern about this inspired my sister Laurie Kazan-Allen to also become involved in the fight against asbestos in Europe where she lives. I am proud of the fact that she heads the International Ban Asbestos Secretariat (IBAS).
Just recently she told me about a high level international asbestos conference in Finland. The International Conference on Monitoring and Surveillance of Asbestos-Related Diseases gave rise to a new call on the part of the global health leaders in attendance to end asbestos-related deaths. To achieve this they acknowledged the need for a complete global asbestos ban. They put their unanimous agreement into a formal document called The Helsinki Declaration.
Speaking on behalf of the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, as reported by IBAS, the conference organizer, Dr. Panu Oksa said, “There is no safe use of asbestos.” Dr. Ken Takahashi, from Japan’s University of Occupational and Environmental Health, stated, “Asbestos-related deaths are preventable by banning the use of asbestos, as WHO recommends.” An increase in asbestos-related deaths is being observed in developing countries where knowledge is lacking about the hazards of exposure.
The conference consensus report Asbestos, Asbestosis and Cancer: Helsinki Criteria for Diagnosis and Attribution 2014 includes these facts:
- 2 million tons of asbestos per year is exported for use in products such as cement and insulation
- 125 million workers are exposed to asbestos every year
- Asbestos even at low doses is a known human carcinogen
- There are 107,000 asbestos-related deaths worldwide every year
- 55 countries have banned the use of new asbestos
- The financial impact of asbestos use is negative for companies and economies when health costs are considered
- Asbestos in existing buildings in countries that have banned asbestos and the continued use of asbestos in countries that haven’t banned asbestos, means that asbestos-related deaths and illness will continue into the second half of the 21st century
It is significant that independent world experts and authorities have again reviewed all available evidence and concluded all types of asbestos are deadly, prevention of exposures is crucial, and the world needs a total ban on continued use, mining, manufacture, export/import and sale of raw asbestos and products made with it. Only the asbestos mining industry, concentrated in Russia and its paid supporters disagree.