Milestone achievement: Asbestos banned in Ukraine
Ukraine's Ministry of Health banned asbestos in Ukraine. WECF's and other civil society organisations' work paid off!
Asbestos testing as part of a WECF workshop
The use of asbestos is a topic dear to WECF. A great achievement has been achieved however, as Ukraine’s Ministry of Health has banned the use of all types of asbestos."It is prohibited to manufacture and use asbestos regardless of its type, and asbestos-containing products and materials in technological processes and during construction works, …" the regulation reads. The ban in Ukraine takes place 5 years after WECF co-organized the first International Expert Conference on Asbestos in Kiev with longtime partner MAMA-86, where for the first time an open debate was held to discuss the issue of chrysotile asbestos in Ukraine.
The ban was subject to heavy lobbying against it. Within Ukraine, the ban is opposed by Ukrainian companies working with asbestos (employing 4000 people), while Ukraine’s neighboring countries, Kazakhstan and Russia, produce about 65% of global asbestos, and can expect to see their exports decline due to the ban. Over the period of 2009-2015, Ukraine imported an average of 42,200 tons of asbestos a year.
Image: there are 55 countries in the world with full or partial bans on the use of asbestos. Ukraine can now be added to this map.
Being banned from use in the E.U. since 2005, asbestos use is still allowed in many countries that WECF is active in, in the former Soviet Union, and in many other countries in the world. It might be noteworthy to mention that the USA is one of these countries. The most-used type of asbestos is chrysotile asbestos, which is also one of the most dangerous forms. Science has unanimously demonstrated that chrysotile asbestos has carcinogenic properties. Diseases caused by asbestos include asbestosis, mesothelioma and lung cancer, which the WHO estimates to lead to about 100,000 deaths a year. Asbestos is particularly dangerous for construction and mining workers, who can come in direct contact with it. It is thought to be responsible for half of the deaths from cancer developed at work. The most efficient way to reduce illnesses resulting from asbestos exposure is by banning its use and ultimately presence, although past use can still lead to dangerous situations.
WECF has historically been committed to banning the use of hazardous chemicals. WECF’s long-time partner, MAMA-86, founded after the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, has actively campaigned against environmental pollution in Ukraine, focusing especially on pollution by chemicals. Work of WECF regarding asbestos includes giving trainings on the ground to provide information about chrysotile asbestos, its mining and treatment, the use in building and machinery construction to local NGO’s and others in Kazakhstan, Macedonia and Russia, but also high level lobbying to phase out the use of asbestos. WECF is a member of ROCA (Rotterdam Convention Alliance), to promote full and effective implementation of the Rotterdam Convention.
Workshops on asbestos in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, FYR Macedonia and Russia
Asbestos is a very serious but unfortunately neglected threat, especially in Eastern Europe and Central Asia. Therefore WHO European Region decided to finance workshops on this issue in four Eastern European and Central Asian countries
Rotterdam Convention COP 7 (May 13th 2015). ROCA /WECF Side Event on “Chrysotile Asbestos and the question: Who pays the Bill?”
More than 70 people attended a successful, informative and emotional Side Event at COP 7 in Geneva Testimonials and Dialogue
WECF at the Chemical Convention COPs in Geneva
Through out May WECF participated in the COPs of Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions and the Extraordinary COP, which took place in Geneva
06.06.2013 | Alexandra Caterbow
WECF co-organised International Expert Conference on Asbestos in Kiev, and demands phase-out of asbestos production and use in Ukraine
For the first time in Ukraine a public open debate was held to discuss the issue of chrysotile asbestos in Ukraine
06.04.2012 | Alexandra Caterbow
WECF at the COP 5 in Geneva
WECF attended from 20-24 of June the 5th Meeting of the Parties on the Rotterdam Convention, the COP5. WECF attended the meeting on behalf of the Rotterdam Convention Alliance (ROCA), which represented civil society at the conferenc and was shocked by Canada’s behaviour
25.06.2011 | Chantal van den Bossche