The Anti-Asbestos Lobby's New Way to Get Rich. Now it is Europe's turn

Anti-asbestos lobbyists and activists are exerting pressure on the European Commission, demanding the establishment of a mandatory special-purpose program to dismantle every product that has ever been manufactured containing asbestos in the EU. The question is, whose interests does such a program really promote?

According to a document that journalists managed to get their hands on, the European Parliament is going to consider a declaration in December on the need for the complete removal of asbestos from all buildings and infrastructure in EU countries. Given the fact that a huge number of buildings in post-war Western Europe were constructed using asbestos-containing materials, we can get a feel for the scope of the potential market that the removal or abatement lobby is creating for its own personal gain. In Poland alone, the asbestos removal market totals approximately 9 billion Euro

In 2005, the anti-asbestos lobby forced the EU and a number of other countries to prohibit the use of all types of asbestos, regardless of profound biochemical and risk-profile differences between fiber types. The legislators ignored the fact that amphibole asbestos (the form of the mineral that is detrimental to human health) was universally prohibited well before the law was adopted. This means that the true purpose of the document was to snuff out demand for chrysotile asbestos, which is completely safe when used in controlled conditions. In fact, there isn’t a single field in the EU where amphibole asbestos can be mined, so the ban on this affordable building material provided synthetic fiber manufacturers with a competitive advantage. The adopted document became the foundation of numerous lawsuits aimed at seeking monetary compensation from people who worked with the supposedly harmful substance.

According to a study conducted by the RAND Institute for Civil Justice, by the end of the 2000’s the number of anti-asbestos lawsuits exceeded 600,000, with over 6,000 companies acting as defendants. The total amount of compensation is estimated at 200 to 265 billions USD.

The United States stands at the forefront of those seeking monetary recompense. Wide-spread legal campaigns helped the country earn hundreds of billions of dollars on anti-asbestos litigation. But by the end of the 2000’s many of these cases were marked scandals involving forgery and mis-representation. There have been cases where law firms (charging a commission of 70 percent) used the same X-ray image for thousands of individual applicants, or when they had a corrupt doctor give the same diagnosis to all of their patients, using information dictated by the lawyers themselves.

Today, the market for legal cases in the US is finally drying up. In their search for profit, anti-asbestos activists have now turned to a new prospect: the mandatory removal of asbestos — no matter if there is a health risk or not — and this can mean big money for decades to come.

The anti-asbestos lobbyists have also adopted a new slogan: «The best way to prevent asbestos-related diseases is to remove asbestos from the existing buildings and infrastructure, as millions of tons of this deadly substance still remain there today.»

And unlike in 2005 when the goals of the anti-asbestos lobby still seemed selfless (disguised as concerns about human health), the new requirements for its removal will cost taxpayers hundreds of billions of euros. Might these developments be planned rather than accidental, and actually betray a step-by-step strategy? What if from the very beginning lobbyists had been willing to subjugate the construction industry of EU countries for their own ends? In any event, the names of the final beneficiaries of the anti-asbestos hysteria are now out in the open.