When it comes to asbestos exposure and its dire consequences, sadly it’s a small world after all. Asbestos is still mined in many countries, exported across borders and incorporated into products that get shipped around the globe. Malignant mesothelioma resulting from asbestos exposure spares no one based on nationality or ethnicity.
That’s why I am sharing with you news of a landmark new report about asbestos just published in Europe and brought to my attention by a prominent anti-asbestos activist in England – my sister Laurie Kazan-Allen.
The report “Asbestos-Related Occupational Diseases in Central and East European Countries” provides as thorough as possible an overview – some countries keep no records – of the status of asbestos and asbestos-related illness throughout Europe. Easy to read and available online for free, the report is packed with interesting information.
Consider this for example: World production of asbestos was estimated to be 1.98 million tons in 2012. According to the United States Geological Survey (USGS, 2013), Russia was the leading producer of asbestos, followed by China, Brazil, Argentina, Kazakhstan and Canada. These six countries accounted for 99% of world production in 2013.
Or this excellent historical synopsis: Commercial exploitation (of asbestos), with little thought for environmental controls, increased over the 20th century, particularly in the period of strong economic growth after 1945. The unique technical properties led to a boom in consumption; asbestos was used in huge quantities in buildings or ships, and also for many smaller applications, such as cigarette filters. In the first substitution projects of the 1980s, alternatives for more than 3,000 technical applications had to be found.
Major topics covered include monitoring of asbestos-related diseases, recognition of occupational asbestos-related disease and the problem of underreporting.
This research report was commissioned and coordinated by the European Federation of Building and Woodworkers (EFBWW) and its project partners International Ban Asbestos Secretariat (IBAS) and the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC), with the financial support of the European Commission
The report was prepared by the Kooperationsstelle Hamburg. This research institute provides national and international services and studies in the field of occupational safety, health and environmental protection.