Ukraine Bans Asbestos, Finally! 

by Laurie Kazan-Allen



On September 6, 2022 Parliamentary bill No. 4142, which prohibited the use of all types of asbestos and products containing it in Ukraine, was enacted.1 As a result, said Ukrainian politician Olena Shulyak: “Finally, we will get rid of the health-threatening Soviet construction legacy and replace it with modern building materials that will preserve the health of both builders and residents of new buildings.”2 The road to achieving this ban was not straightforward due to aggressive lobbying by Ukrainian and foreign pro-asbestos stakeholders. In June 2017, Ukraine’s Ministry of Health first outlawed asbestos use3; within months, however, that prohibition was quashed by the Ministry of Justice. Judicial as well as legislative actions were blocked on multiple occasions, testing both the stamina and conviction of campaigners in the Verkhovna Rada (Parliament) and in civil society organizations.4

In an email received on Tuesday, (September 6) from a colleague in Kyiv just fifteen minutes after the vote had been won, he said that “finally, 14 years after we first began our campaign, the use of asbestos has been banned!”5 The jubilation in his message was apparent; achieving the ban was not just a measure to protect the health of all Ukraine’s citizens but was also a defeat of the foreign powers which had controlled the country’s asbestos dialogue for far too long. It was, of course, always in the interest of Russia and Kazakhstan, the world’s two largest asbestos producers, to have a docile customer on their doorstep. Commenting on the news of the ban, Ukrainian Deputy Roksolana Pidlasa remarked that:

“the Kazakh and Russian lobbies opposed the ban for years.It was from these countries according to the Ministry of Health, during 2006-2016 that Ukraine imported 556,000 tons of asbestos: 35.5% and 64.5%, respectively.’”6

Between 2018 and 2020, Ukraine’s average annual consumption of asbestos was over 10,000 tonnes. Whilst under Russian dominance, there was no way that Ukrainians could have succeeded in banning asbestos.

Commenting on the momentous vote in the Ukrainian Parliament, Mick Antoniw, Counsel General for Wales and Member of the Welsh Parliament (Senedd Cymru), on September 7, 2022 said:

“Ukraine, Russian and former Soviet countries are riddled with asbestos. There has been a reluctance to recognise the problem and also to halt the mining and use of asbestos. Russia has one of the most aggressive asbestos industries in the world. Ukraine has its problems but the decision by the Ukrainian Parliament to ban asbestos is an illustration of the effectiveness of international campaigning against the asbestos industry which also has deep tentacles in Ukrainian industry. It is also a testament to the progress being made in the Ukrainian parliament regarding public and workers health issues. It has now taken a significant step to distance itself completely from the Russian asbestos influence.”7

The committed and sustained efforts by Ukrainian politicians and civil society representatives were amplified by support from Ukrainian and international experts and campaigning groups, including the Collegium Ramazzini,8 the European Trade Union Confederation, the European Federation of Building and Woodworkers (EFBWW),9 the Building and Woodworkers’ International (BWI) and PROFBUD – the Ukraine construction trade union federation. Parliamentarians from England, Scotland and Wales10 had also expressed solidarity with the ban asbestos campaigners in statements made and motions adopted in 2021.11

As the EFBWW General Secretary Tom Deleu and his colleagues put it in their April 23, 2021 letter to the Heads of the Ukrainian Parliament and Committee on Public Health, Assistance and Medical Insurance:

“The EFBWW, BWI and PROFBUD remain committed to the objective of protecting all workers from deadly substances. We fully support our affiliate and long-term sister organization PROFBUD, the Ukrainian Building Workers union, in their address to the Parliament on the final voting for the Draft Law 4142 ‘On the Public Health Systems’ where a significant effort on the chrysotile asbestos ban is made. We express our full solidarity with you and your efforts to ban asbestos in Ukraine as a first step towards eradicating this workplace hazard, which has taken the lives of untold numbers of workers.”

The news of the Ukrainian asbestos ban was reported not only on Ukraine news portals but also on websites in Russia and Kazakhstan. There is no doubt that asbestos stakeholders will contest this reversal of their fortunes but for now, congratulations must go to all those in Ukraine who worked so hard to throw off the asbestos yoke.

September 9, 2022


1 В Украине запретят использовать асбест в строительстве: в Раде принят закон
[Ukraine will ban the use of asbestos in construction: law adopted by Rada]. September 6, 2022.

2 Верховна Рада заборонила використання азбесту у будівництві [The Verkhovna Rada banned the use of asbestos in construction]. September 7, 2022.
Токсичен и вызывает рак – Рада запретила использование асбеста [Toxic and causes cancer - Rada banned the use of asbestos]. September 7, 2022.

3 Kazan-Allen, L. Ukraine Bans Asbestos! July 8, 2017.

4 Депутат рассказала, почему в Украине хотят запретить использование асбеста в строительстве [MP explains why Ukraine wants to ban the use of asbestos in construction]. August 20, 2022.

5 To understand the fierce battle for Ukraine’s ban on asbestos see:

6 This huge consumption figure was verified by data from the United States Geological Survey, according to which Ukraine consumed 586,253 tonnes of asbestos between 2006 and 2016.
Токсичен и вызывает рак – Рада запретила использование асбеста [Toxic and causes cancer - Rada banned the use of asbestos]. September 7, 2022.

7 Email received on September 7, 2022 from Mick Antoniw.

8 Collegium Ramazzini letter on asbestos hazards in the Ukraine. April 16, 2021.

9 Joint letter by the EFBWW, BWI & Profbud. April 23, 2021

10 Letter by Member of the Welsh Parliament Mick Antoniw, Member of the Scottish Parliament Anas Sarwar, MP Ian Lavery, MP Stephen Timms to Chairman of Ukraine Parliament Dmytro Razumkov and Head of the Parliamentary Committee on Public Health, Medical Assistance and Medical Insurance Mykhailo Radutskyi, dated April 20, 2021.

11 Welsh Parliament. Ban the use of chrysotile asbestos [in Ukraine]. November 24, 2021.



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