Europe Says No to Asbestos!
Asbestos is now a banned substance throughout all twenty-five member countries of the European Union (EU)! A five year phase-out period which was permitted under Commission Directive 1999/77/EC1 ended on January 1, 2005. According to the written procedure signed on July 26, 1999 the introduction of new applications of asbestos cement materials, friction products, seals and gaskets is prohibited; the restrictions apply to chrysotile (white asbestos), amosite and crocidolite having previously been banned. The directive states: no threshold level of exposure has yet been identified below which chrysotile asbestos does not pose carcinogenic risks. Highlighting the risks from intermittent exposure, it maintains: an effective way of protecting human health is to prohibit the use of chrysotile asbestos fibres and products containing them.2
Of the fifteen original EU member states only Portugal and Greece were still using asbestos when the EU ban came into force; many of the new EU members had banned asbestos in the run-up to their joining the Community.
The EU asbestos ban marks a landmark in the global campaign to ban asbestos. The fact that 450 million Europeans refuse to use asbestos cannot help but influence decisions taken elsewhere. If asbestos is too hazardous for Italians and Poles, surely it is too hazardous for Koreans and Russians.
January 4, 2005
2 Although the removal of asbestos in situ is not required under the Directive, new regulations have been drafted to protect European workers and the public from potential threats posed by hazardous exposures to asbestos-riddled infrastructures.