Eurasian Economic Commission Supports Chrysotile Asbestos

International Alliance of Trade Union Organizations «Chrysotile» supports the decision of the Board of the Eurasian Economic Commission (EEC), the regulatory body of the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU), to recommend that member countries (EEU unites Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Russia) develop a unified position on international trade and the use of chrysotile asbestos.

The document adopted by the Commission proposed to form, «A coordinated position of member states on the issue of international trade of chrysotile asbestos in order to present it at meetings of the Conference of the Parties to the Rotterdam Convention,» and also make available to the commission for future publications scientific studies on the effects of chrysotile asbestos on human health, a list of importing countries, and regulations governing the use of asbestos.

The appearance of the document is not coincidental. This spring, the regular Conference of the Parties to the Rotterdam Convention will be held. Under this agreement, rules for the use and trade of hazardous chemicals and pesticides are specified.

For more than 20 years, delegates from territories including Australia and some EU countries have been trying to add chrysotile asbestos to the list of banned substances, operating with facts that are not confirmed: there are no strong arguments in favour of limiting the mineral, widely used all over the world.

A number of conducted international studies indicate that with controlled use, chrysotile asbestos is safe. Representatives of international research institutes and independent expert commissions have repeatedly confirmed that chrysotile does not pose unacceptable risk to human health. For example, the second edition of the World Health Organization’s Guidelines for Drinking-Water Quality states that, «Currently existing epidemiological studies do not support the hypothesis that asbestos penetration into drinking water increases the risk of cancer.»

The authors of a study published in the Inhalation Toxicology journal by the resource Taylor & Francis Online came to similar conclusions. For the scientific community, there is no doubt that with controlled use, chrysotile is safe. Nevertheless, representatives of some countries continue trying to push the decision to ban chrysotile.

The position of the Board of the EEC summarises the above-mentioned disputes: «According to the expert community of the Eurasian Economic Union, the initiative of representatives of the EU to ban chrysotile asbestos is based on the results of an assessment of the consequences of the use of amphibole asbestos (a prohibited group) and, accordingly, is illegal.»

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