Chrysotile Factsheet

Fact 12 In 2014, a multi-disciplinary gathering of scientists meeting in Helsinki, Finland agreed that all types of asbestos cause cancer in man and “In order to prevent the epidemic of asbestos-related diseases from being repeated among workers and communities in the developing world, ceasing the use of new asbestos is essential” (Helsinki Declaration, 2014).

Fact 13 In 2015, the Collegium Ramazzini (CR) reaffirmed its long-standing position that “well-documented availability of safer, cost-effective alternative materials” exist for asbestos, including chrysotile. The CR supports both the 2006 World Health Organization (WHO) position to cease using all types of asbestos and the 2014 WHO publication Chrysotile Asbestos that “all forms of asbestos, including chrysotile, are causally associated with an increased risk of cancer of the lung, larynx and ovary, mesothelioma and asbestosis” and “are in line with the recent evaluation by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC).” (Collegium Ramazzini, 2015; WHO, 2006; WHO, 2014)

Fact 14 Labor federations including the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), the Building and Woodworkers International (BWI), the IndustriAll Global Union (IndustriAll) representing millions of trade union members worldwide have issued calls for asbestos bans, just transition programs for displaced workers and measures to protect affected workers and communities (ITUC, 2006; BWI, 2014; IndustriAll, 2014).

The next facts refer specifically to risks from asbestos-containing roofing products.

Fact 15 The recent study by Ferrante et al, 2015 “provides strong evidence of an association between pleural mesothelioma and the use of asbestos-cement roofing (OR=2.5, 95% CI 1.4 to 4.5) and pavement containing asbestos tailings (OR=3.6, 95% CI 1.4 to 9.2) (Ferrante et al., 2015; Stayner, 2015).

Fact 16 Acknowledging the human health hazard posed by asbestos and the environmental contamination following the destruction of asbestos-containing products after man-made or natural disasters, the World Bank Group, humanitarian organizations and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees have recommended that asbestos-containing materials including asbestos-cement building products should not be used in disaster relief (WBG, 2009; GSC, 2010; UNHCR, 2005).

Fact 17 Strong evidence exists for the occurrence of non-occupational asbestos-related diseases as a result of domestic or environmental exposure to asbestos; in particular, among family members living with asbestos workers (NIOSH, 1995; Ferrante et al., 2015; Stayner, 2015).

Fact 18 “For roofing in remote locations, lightweight concrete tiles can be fabricated using cement, sand and gravel; and optionally, locally available plant fibers such as jute, hemp, sisal, palm nut, coconut coir, kenaf, and wood pulp. Galvanized iron roofing and clay tiles are other alternative materials. Substitutes for asbestos-cement pipe include ductile iron pipe, high-density polyethylene pipe, and metal-wire-reinforced concrete pipes.” (CR, 2015; WBG, 2011; WHO, 2009)

Fact 19 The World Trade Organization “considers that the evidence before it tends to show that handling chrysotile-cement products constitutes a risk to health rather than the opposite. (emphasis added)” (WTO, 2001).

Fact 20 The World Health Organizations warns “Continued use of asbestos cement in the construction industry is a particular concern, because the workforce is large, it is difficult to control exposure and in-place materials have the potential to deteriorate and pose a risk to those carrying out alterations, maintenance and demolition. In its various applications, asbestos can be replaced by some fibre materials and other products that pose less or no risk to health” (WHO, 2006).