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European Parliament Endorses Asbestos Seminar

European Parliament Endorses Asbestos Seminar
Written Declaration
Resolution: European Asbestos Seminar

European Parliament Endorses Asbestos Seminar

On October 15, 2001 a Written Declaration(1) submitted to the European Parliament acknowledged the work and conclusions of the European Asbestos Seminar (EAS). The meetings which comprised the EAS took place in Brussels on June 7 & 8, 2001; the event was organised by The International Ban Asbestos Secretariat and The Belgian Asbestos Victims' Group (ABEVA). Dr. Charles Tannock and Peter Skinner, UK Members of the European Parliament (MEPs), issued the declaration which encouraged national governments to:


  • develop and implement techniques for treating waste containing asbestos
  • end the use of asbestos for chlorine production
  • harmonise the criteria for diagnosing asbestos-related diseases and compensation procedures
  • share medical knowledge to that all sufferers of asbestos-related diseases
  • gain equal access to the most effective treatments

The MEPs recognised the "work being done by asbestos victims' groups, NGOs and social movements throughout Europe to improve the plight of asbestos victims." It is hoped that this statement will help increase the visibility of groups struggling to assist Europe's asbestos victims. Parliamentary interest in the work of these under-funded and largely unseen groups is essential if Western Europe is to cope with the 500,000 asbestos deaths which epidemiologists predict will occur in the current thirty year period.

The value of the EAS has also been acknowledged by other European authorities. A letter from the office of the European Union's Commissioner of Employment and Social Affairs, Mrs. Anna Diamantopoulou, stated that the event "held in Brussels in June 2001 has to be considered as one of the most important organised during the recent years: the resolution adopted which covers issues of different policies is a matter to be considered by various institutions or organisations." Mario Tereiro, Head of Unit A/3 Judicial Cooperation in Civil Matters read the EAS resolution "with a great interest." He stated that "concerning the question of compensation of crime victims, we are preparing a Green Paper that will be published in early autumn." The EAS resolution has also been acknowledged by Commissioners John Bell and Philippe Busquin, Members of the European Commission Cabinet.

Previously (June 26, 2001) an Early Day Motion (EDM34) had been tabled by Michael Clapham, Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Occupational Safety and Health; it was supported by sixty-nine MPs . It welcomed "the motion agreed by the European Asbestos Seminar, which calls for the establishment of local, national and international networks, accurate recording of the location of asbestos, development and implementation of techniques for treating waste containing asbestos, an end to the use of asbestos for chlorine production, the harmonisation of criteria for diagnosing asbestos-related diseases and compensation procedures ad shared medical knowledge to give all sufferers of asbestos-related diseases equal access to the most effective treatments."

Revised October 17, 2001

1 Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) and Members of Parliament (MPs) in the European and UK Parliaments are able to flag issues of special importance by use of devices known as Written Declarations and Early Day Motions (EDM). The contents and popularity of these documents are part of a procedure for gauging political interest in specific issues. Parliamentarians are encouraged to express their opinions by adding their signatures to these petitions.


20th September 2001   


pursuant to Rule 51 of the Rules of Procedure

    by Charles TANNOCK, John BOWIS, Chris DAVIES, Jean LAMBERT, Peter SKINNER 

for entry in the register
on asbestos-related fatalities



Charles Tannock  
John Bowis  
Chris Davies  
Jean Lambert 
Peter Skinner

The European Parliament


  • expresses concern that scientists predict that the total number of asbestos-related fatalities over the next thirty years in Western Europe could exceed 500,000;
  • welcomes the motion agreed by the European Asbestos Seminar on the 7th and 8th June 2001 which called for the establishment of local, national and international networks and accurate recording of the locations of asbestos;
  • recognises the work being done by asbestos victimsÕ groups, NGOs and social movements throughout Europe to improve the plight of asbestos victims;



  • calls upon national governments of the Member States to develop and implement techniques for treating waste containing asbestos;
  • to end the use of asbestos for chlorine production; 
  • to harmonise criteria for diagnosing asbestos-related diseases and procedures for claiming compensation;
  • to share medical knowledge so that all sufferers of asbestos-related diseases have equal access to the most effective treatments.
  • Thus, instructs its President to forward this declaration to the Council of Ministers and The European Commission.

Resolution: European Asbestos Seminar


Although the European Union has adopted directives to ban the use of all types of asbestos by 2005, scientists predict that the total number of asbestos-related fatalities in the coming thirty years could exceed five hundred thousand in Western Europe alone. The origin of the asbestos exposure is predominantly occupational. However, asbestos-related fatalities from environmental sources of exposure can be significant. In view of the rising number of asbestos victims, the delegates to the European Asbestos Seminar held at the European Parliament on 7 & 8 June, 2001 wish to make the following recommendations to the European Commission, the European Parliament and governments of Member States.

Regarding the Politics of Prevention:

  • the support of local, national and international networks for the identification and recording of sources of occupational and environmental asbestos exposure; the provision of practical and financial assistance for work undertaken to compile an inventory of these sources;
  • the timely provision to people at risk of accurate information on the presence and hazards of asbestos and asbestos products;
  • the rejection of proposals intended to raise the current level of acceptable concentration of asbestos in waste material;
  • the development and implementation of techniques for treatment of asbestos-containing waste;
  • the rejection of present or future exemptions on the use of asbestos such as the current derogation permitting the continued use of asbestos for chlorine production.

Regarding Victims' Rights:

  • the harmonisation of criteria for the identification and compensation of asbestos-related diseases caused by occupational and environmental exposure;
  • the study of inter-country legislative differences regarding legal responsibility for asbestos-related diseases.

Regarding New Research Priorities:

  • a commitment to medical surveillance of exposed populations in order to provide victims with access to effective medical treatment and compensation;
  • a commitment to develop effective diagnostic and therapeutic approaches for asbestos-related diseases;
  • a commitment to monitor the current burden of asbestos-related disease and to continuously update epidemiological predictions;
  • a commitment to integrate clinical research with investigations into the human and social costs of asbestos-related diseases to victims and their families.

Regarding Double Standards:

  • the monitoring of the operations of European companies and their subsidiaries in non-EU countries; the identification and prosecution of corporate behaviour which infringes European asbestos regulations;
  • the enactment and enforcement of legislation which ensures that EU corporations guilty of exposing EU workers, the public and the environment to asbestos will be held liable; the setting of compensation levels guaranteed by funds put up by Member States;
  • the encouragement of the ILO and WHO to update asbestos-related measures such as ILO convention 162 and Chrysotile Criteria 203 in line with European Directives.


The Seminar acknowledges the pivotal role of asbestos victims' groups in improving the plight of asbestos victims and strongly urges cooperation with these groups, other social movements and NGOs working in this field as is the practice of the United Nations. We stress the necessity and urgency of funding for projects intended to improve the situation of asbestos victims.

It is clear that many East European countries have problems relating to the unregulated and continuing use of asbestos. We strongly recommend that steps be taken to evaluate the extent of these problems.

Outside the established market economies, exposure to asbestos is a significant occupational and environmental hazard. This observation was confirmed by Indian and Brazilian representatives at the Seminar. As there is no 'safe threshold,' any exposure/contact with asbestos can cause fatal lung disease including cancer. Increasing efforts to market asbestos in the developing world are being made by the international asbestos industry. It is imperative that every possible effort be made to provide objective scientific information on the hazards of asbestos and the availability of safer alternatives to the countries which have not banned asbestos. In addition, research to quantify past and current asbestos use and production should be commissioned; this information should be disseminated to all 'at risk' populations.

The EU countries which have not yet banned asbestos, Luxembourg, Greece and Portugal, should be urged to do so immediately.


Front Page, Week Of:

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10/16/05: Victim's Organizations Form Asbestos Victims Coalition in Opposition to Asbestos Trust Fund Legislation

11/17/05: White Lung Mourns Jose Jesus Pessora

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12/04/06: Asbestos Watch Newsletter: Help Celebrate the 27th Anniversary of the WHITE LUNG ASSOCIATION

Jim Fite's Alerts:

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Directorate of Safety, Health, and Environment (open letter)


Joe Oliver's Alerts:

Joe Oliver, National Board Member and former President of the White Lung Association, has issued a call to all persons to help gather evidence on the conspiracy by asbestos trade organizations to suppress the knowledge about the hazards of asbestos exposure.

If you know anything about this horrific history or have documents which can be used to further prove their heinous crimes, please contact Joe Oliver, WLA, POB 1483, Balt. MD 21203.

Leonard Makowski's Alerts:

The White Lung Association stands in opposition to The Specter Bill (S.852)

WLA Alerts & News

S.1115: Bill to amend the Toxic Substances Control Act to reduce the health risks posed by asbestos-containing products - This bill is supported by the WLA.

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Proceedings of the Asbestos Symposium for the Asian Countries - now available for purchase.

Australia Bans Asbestos!



Senator Specter Breaks Promise to Mesothelioma Patient and Research Community

Senate Judiciary Committee returns to Mark-Up on May 11th: Proposed asbestos trust fund legislation will further penalize victims of asbestos-caused diseases


World Trade Center Health:

In May 2003, the Global Environment & Technology Foundation developed the "Asbestos Strategies" report.

British Asbestos Newsletter:

The latest issue is Spring 2005


News from India:

The latest issue is January 4, 2007



December 17, 2000 is Asbestos Hazard Awareness Day


Current Projects:

Asbestos Museum


Articles & Publications:

Occupational Respiratory Diseases: Asbestos Associated Disease -- Reprinted from: Maxcy-Rosenau Public Health and Preventative Medicine 11th ed. (John M. Last, Ed.) 1980, Appleton-Century-Crofts

Asbestos Victims Deserve Compensation Not Betrayal: position release by the Board of Directors, White Lung Association



In Memoria:

Paul Safchuck May 21, 2003

Dr. William Nicholson Dies at 70

Ray Sentes Brave Fighter For Asbestos Victims

For more information please contact info whitelung org.