Asbestos is a highly dangerous and carcinogenic substance that is still present in many of our buildings and is responsible for many avoidable deaths in the EU. The Commission aims to better protect people from asbestos and ensure an asbestos-free future. To achieve this, it is today presenting a comprehensive approach to better protect people and the environment from asbestos and ensure an asbestos-free future.
It proposes progress from improving the diagnosis and treatment of diseases caused by asbestos, to the identification and safe removal and treatment of asbestos waste a proposal to amend the Asbestos at Work Directive to improve worker protection by significantly reducing the occupational exposure limit for asbestos.
Although all forms of asbestos have been banned in the EU since 2005, asbestos is still present in old buildings. It poses a health threat when asbestos-containing materials are disturbed and fibers are released and inhaled, for example during renovations.
Up to 78% of recognized occupational cancers in the Member States are related to asbestos. When inhaled, airborne asbestos fibers can cause, for example, mesothelioma and lung cancer, with an average time lag of 30 years between exposure and the first signs of disease.
Addressing the health risks of asbestos exposure is therefore essential to protect human health and the environment while ensuring decent living and working conditions. This is even more relevant in the context of the green transition and our EU ambition to increase the renovation rate of buildings, which are responsible for more than one third of energy-related greenhouse gas emissions.
The actions presented today are part of the prevention pillar of the European Plan to Combat Cancer, and will contribute to the objectives of the European Green Pact and the European Pillar of Social Rights.
The Commission will present a legislative proposal on the monitoring and registration of asbestos in buildings. Member States will be asked to develop national strategies for asbestos removal.