Asbestos and product defence science

In 2015, the Collegium Ramazzini, an independent, international academy of experts in occupational and environmental health, released three statements on asbestos.1–3 The documents are focused on the only form of asbestos remaining in use, i.e. chrysotile (white asbestos). The Collegium is concerned by the persisting use of chrysotile in many countries taking place in spite of the evidence of its carcinogenicity and the calls for a ban by the World Health Organization, the International Labour Organization and the Collegium itself as well as other institutions over the past decades.

Currently, over half of the world’s population is extracting and/or using 2 million tons of asbestos annually, mostly in low- and middle-income countries. Asia has become the largest asbestos consumer in the world and Russia, Kazakhstan and Brazil have become the largest asbestos exporters. As late as 2015, the major producers and users of asbestos opposed the inclusion of chrysotile among substances covered by the Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade….

The Collegium notes that the reluctance to stop using asbestos is a consequence of ‘the corrupting influence of pro-chrysotile lobbies employing product defence science’. This term encompasses research activities whose goals are not scientific knowledge but to influence policy decisions on the use of an industrial product….

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