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:
Regarding VictimsÕ Rights:
Regarding New Research Priorities:
Regarding Double Standards:
The Seminar acknowledges the pivotal role of asbestos victimsÕ 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.
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