European Trade Union Institute, ETUI.


EU experts project that 500,000 people in Western Europe will die from asbestos-related causes in the first thirty years of the 21st century! Even though it was known to cause cancer as long ago as the early 1950s, asbestos use reached its peak of popularity in industrialized countries in the 1970s.

The European Union was not to adopt a directive banning the marketing and use of asbestos products until 1999. Meanwhile, millions of European workers – mostly manual workers – fell victim to pleural plaque, asbestosis, lung cancer or mesothelioma, the infamously still incurable form of malignant pleural or peritoneal cancer.

Despite this human and social catastrophe, the mineral fibre is still being mined, and used to manufacture asbestos-cement construction products for emerging economies like China and India. Some unscrupulous industry groups continue to pocket fat profits in the full knowledge that their workers will develop serious diseases a few years down the line. It is time to close the deadliest chapter in industrial history by banning the use of asbestos in all its forms everywhere in the world.

Further readings:


Colombia bans asbestos

15 July 2019
camara colombia

On 11 June 2019, the Colombian House of Representatives unanimously voted to ban asbestos as of 1 January 2021. A historic victory for the unions and victim associations, the vote took place in an unfavourable political context.

Canada’s unions applaud asbestos ban regulations

22 October 2018

Canada’s unions applaud the federal government for introducing regulations to ban the import, export, manufacture, sale and use of asbestos and asbestos-containing products. The regulations, announced in December 2016 will come into force on December 30, 2018.

United States: New findings show asbestos-related deaths estimated at more than double previously reported

17 April 2018

The Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO), an independent nonprofit dedicated to preventing asbestos exposure, announced on 16 April new findings via research from Jukka Takala, President of the International Commission of Occupational Health (ICOH).

Inspectors find phthalates in toys and asbestos in second-hand products

14 February 2018

Inspectors commissioned by the European Chemicals Agency have found high concentrations of toxic chemicals in consumer products. As an example, every fifth toy inspected contained high levels of restricted phthalates. Asbestos has also been detected in second-hand products.

Economic blackmail by Russia against Sri Lanka’s asbestos ban decision

17 January 2018

International trade unions, led by the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) and global union the Building Workers' International (BWI), have joined with health networks including victims groups representing those suffering from asbestos-related diseases and their families from around the world, in declaring their outrage at the economic blackmail on Sri Lanka by the Russian Government.