All types of asbestos cause cancer in humans. It is thus estimated that hundreds of thousands of people around the world fall ill each year as a result of asbestos exposure in the workplace. These diseases do not develop immediately following exposure to asbestos, but appear only after a number of years.
Three decades may pass between initial exposure to asbestos and the appearance of related disease symptoms, triggering a public health time bomb in all countries where workers are still not protected from asbestos. Although a ban on asbestos is necessary, there is also a need to cope with the past by eliminating or protecting ourselves from asbestos-containing material which is already in place.
Often, the removal of asbestos is perceived as an integral part of the decision to ban asbestos. The costs and difficulties related to the removal of asbestos-containing material is being used as an argument to impede the decision to ban asbestos. However, the removal of existing asbestos-containing material is not the primary concern: the most urgent step is to ban asbestos. The session will look into the practical implication of the different stages that will follow an asbestos ban, namely a) the removal of asbestoscontaining material and b) the availability of alternative, substitute products.