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									                                 INTERNATIONAL SOCIAL SECURITY ASSOCIATION

                    No Lasting Peace without Social Justice…

                                                                 No Social Justice without Social Security

                            Asbestos – A danger ignored1
Two recent campaigns have called on governments of countries producing and
processing asbestos to ban production, trade and use of all types of asbestos and
products containing asbestos. These were the 2004 ‘Declaration on Asbestos’ by the
ISSA and the 2003 ‘Dresden Declaration on the Protection of Workers against
Asbestos’. The economic viability and enforceability of an asbestos ban is
demonstrated by the EU member states.

The volume of asbestos currently produced and used worldwide is approx. 2.5m
tons/year, of which the majority is chrysotile.

The five largest producers of asbestos are:

                  Country                            t/a
                  Russia                             700,000
                  China                              450,000
                  Canada                             335,000
                  Kazakhstan                         180,000
                  Brazil                             170,000
The five largest consumers of asbestos are:

                  Country                            t/a
                  Russia                             447,000
                  China                              410,000
                  Brazil                             182,000
                  India                              125,000
                  Thailand                           121,000

It is worth noting that Canada, the third largest producer, consumes just 3 per cent of
its own production.

In Germany, occupational diseases are divided into three categories:

      Lung cancer and cancer of the larynx caused by asbestos

          Dr Wolfgang Huber, Industrial Employment Accident Insurance Fund for the chemical Industry, Germany

In the last 20 years there have been:

      19,000 asbestosis cases
       7,000 cases of lung cancer and cancer of the larynx
       7,000 mesothelioma cases.

The entire process from introducing special protective measures to imposing a ban
took approx. 30 years in Western Europe. This action was mainly motivated by ethical
and economic considerations. Ethical, since illness caused by asbestos inevitably
leads to reduced quality of life and premature death. Economic, since costs for
treatment, rehabilitation and compensation exceed an economy’s ability to pay. For
example, extrapolating the annual numbers of asbestos-related diseases (asbestosis,
lung cancer, cancer of the larynx and mesothelioma) in West European countries
produces totals worldwide of 310,000 sufferers and 100,000 deaths.

Companies in countries which have not introduced a system of statutory accident
insurance face high costs for the consequences of workplace-related asbestos cases.
For instance, in the USA it is estimated that damages awarded by the courts in the
next few years will rise to between $200 and 265 billion. At present, 74 US companies
have been forced into bankruptcy because the damages awarded exceeded their
available funds. To prevent further company collapses, the setting-up of a fund worth
over $140 billion is being planned to compensate asbestos victims.

Based on the European Union’s experience of introducing an asbestos ban, countries
producing and using asbestos are recommended to take the following steps:

      Outlaw the use of spray asbestos.

      Replace asbestos with less dangerous substances.

      Introduce regulations to ensure that measures are devised to protect employee
      health. The authorities responsible are to be empowered to monitor
      compliance of the measures.

      Label products containing asbestos so that everyone recognises the risks.

      Fix limits for airborne asbestos fibre dust.

      Make the performance of demolition, renovation and maintenance work subject
      to technical, organisational and personal protective measures.

      Work clothing must not be washed in the home.

      Set up institutions to look after and treat employees already afflicted. Store the
      collected data.

      Dispose of waste contaminated by asbestos in such a way that there is no
      danger to man or the environment.


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