Representatives from 16 European countries met with occupational health and cancer experts in Germany last week (10–11 June 2014) to discuss efforts to protect Europe from asbestos-related diseases.
Asbestos is a building material that can cause fatal diseases, including lung cancer, mesothelioma and asbestosis, when its fibres are breathed in. These can develop several decades after exposure.
While most countries in Europe have banned the use of all forms of asbestos, an estimated 300 million people are exposed to the substance both in and out of the workplace.
At the meeting, hosted by the World Health Organization (WHO) European Centre for Environment and Health, participants called for national registers on work-related diseases and cancers to give a better idea of the situation in each country and make it easier to take action.
They also discussed the need to train healthcare providers to spot and report asbestos-related diseases in order to build up this data, as well as asbestos removal and substitutes for the material.
By 2015, each WHO European Region Member State will have set up national programmes to stop asbestos-related diseases.
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