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Countries pledge to eradicate asbestos diseases

Ends daily reports on WECF's work at Ministerial Conference in Parma

15.03.2010 | Ends daily

Fifty-three countries in the World Health Organisation's Europe region including the EU's 27 member states plus Russia, Ukraine and Turkey pledged to eliminate asbestos-related diseases at a meeting on environment and health in Parma, Italy, last week.

In a declaration adopted on Friday the countries committed to develop national programmes by 2015 to eradicate asbestos-related diseases, and to tackle risks posed by persistent, endocrine-disrupting and bio-accumulating chemicals as well as nanoparticles.

Lobby group Women in Europe (WECF) called the pledge a "small step forward". A proposal to ban asbestos in construction materials was dropped because of "vested interests" in Eastern Europe, it says. The EU bans almost all uses of white asbestos.

Last week's meeting followed a conference in 2007 during which WHO Europe reviewed its children's environment and health action plan. Environment and health ministers in Italy renewed their commitment to protecting children's health.
In particular, the ministers pledged to provide each child access to healthy and safe environments by the end of the decade. They also vowed to prevent diseases through improved outdoor and indoor air quality and to tackle the health impact of climate change.

Follow Up:
WHO Europe press release plus declaration and reaction from WECF.
See also Health and Environment Alliance's press release on environment-related respiratory diseases and daily updates from the meeting.

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