4 Countries block export restriction on asbestos

Given everything we know about asbestos and the associated dangers it seems shocking that Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Zimbabwe continue to oppose the listing of asbestos as a dangerous substance. Russia, as the world leader in asbestos production, will not allow the inclusion of chrysotile onto a list that would inform workers of the risks they are exposed to should they come in contact with asbestos.

This list known as the Rotterdam Convention list features all the known “pesticides and industrial chemicals that have been banned or severely restricted for health or environmental reasons”.

This convention forces exporters to inform the countries where their merchandise is shipped to what it contains and what risks they are subjected to. Unfortunately, it takes only one country to veto a listing of a substance and all discussions are closed. It’s needed full consensus by all signatory members for a substance to be marked as dangerous and be legally regulated for shipment.

At the mid-May UN convention in Geneva , Russia once again, for the 5th time in the last 10 years, vetoed the inclusion of chrysotile on the list.

"Every year you do not list, thousands and thousands of people will be exposed to this substance, which means their death sentence," Alexandra Caterbow, the co-coordinator of the Rotterdam Convention Alliance organisation told the audience.

Today, the numbers are horrifying both in medical and production terms: 107.000 people die annually because of asbestos-related diseases, 2 million tonnes of chrysotile asbestos are produced every year, 125 million people are exposed to asbestos at work.