The extensive health risks of asbestos have been clearly demonstrated in epidemiological and clinical research: There is little doubt that we can call ARDs a global epidemic of distressing proportions. An important, if hard won, legacy of this epidemic is the knowledge of the toxicology of fibrous materials that asbestos has taught us. This legacy has been well employed in regulation of man-made vitreous fibres (MMVF). Another expression of this legacy is that we currently spend about 250–300 million euros/year on nanotoxicology partially in order to prevent a ARDs like epidemic caused by an engineered nanomaterial. There is an irony in that, while we have been successful in eliminating asbestos like risks from other materials, asbestos itself is still around all over the world.
Some positive trends are however seen:
The number of countries banning asbestos grows (now 75)
Intensive policy and practical interventions have been undertaken by the UN, the World Bank, the ILO, WHO, EU and the Council of Europe and several NGOs, not least the ICOH
Several countries have drawn up national asbestos profiles and launched national programmes for elimination of ARDs and national demolition programmes are proposed.
The global estimates of ARDs, derived from several sources, are converging
Advances in clinical medicine allows for more accurate and earlier diagnosis of ARDs.
New diagnostic entities are recognised as ARDs (e.g. larynx and ovarian cancers)
Guidelines for good diagnostic practices and attribution are provided.
This Session will monitor all continents for the current asbestos situation and trends, consumption, health impact, policy and practical actions and proposals for future actions. We wish to produce proposals for further global actions by national and global actors.
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