When did they stop using asbestos? is a question often many people want to know especially if one is buying a house or renting so as to be aware of the presence of asbestos related issues. When did they stop using asbestos? is also a question which comes up when people are looking at Asbestos related cancers especially Mesothelioma cancer and lung cancer.
To answer the above, some questions are necessary:-
Asbestos is used in a variety of products for thermal insulation, for fire proofing, for roofing, for flooring and in a various other aspects of building materials. Some Acoustic and other decorative finishes on ceilings and walls also use asbestos.
Australia – 31 December 2003
USA – 1977
Canada – 1970’s
Great Britain – Controlled use – 2006
European Union – January 2005
In Australia Asbestos use was stopped for domestic building materials in the mid 1980’s however it was not until 31 December 2003 that asbestos and all products containing asbestos were banned throughout Australia. See www.public.health.wa.gov.au
According to The US Consumer Product Safety Commission, the use of asbestos was stopped in 1977. It also mentions that most houses built between 1930 and 1950 have asbestos insulation.
According to The University of Toronto, asbestos-containing building materials were commonly used till 1973. Legislation put an end to the production of friable asbestos products in the early 1970's but some installation continued until the 1980’s.
Has Great Britain stopped using asbestos, not really. Has it tightened regulations of use of asbestos, yes. However that as it may be, the statistics of male deaths especially those over 65 continue to be appalling. In Great Britain, the mesothelioma male deaths were 2,216 compared to 409 females. This is a statistic given by www.hse.gov.uk. The 2006 Control of Asbestos Regulations instructs that nearly all work that involves the use of asbestos insulation products must be performed by a licensed professional. The law further states that the work must be performed in accordance with the approved code of practice and that any plans for the removal of asbestos must be submitted to the HSE minimally two weeks before the work commences.
January 2005 saw the ban of asbestos and asbestos related products in the whole of the European Union.
Some countries such as Denmark, Norway and Sweden had already banned the mining of asbestos, its sale and had also restricted imports and exports.
Finally the question that still remains is:-
Is asbestos still being used today? This is a great question with a very sad answer. The answer will surprise you. Even with the vast research and evidenced statistics there is still so much that has not been implemented to stop the use worldwide. Apart from the few countries mentioned above where we have clear dates when they stopped using asbestos, many countries still liner in indecision. Meanwhile many people are dying of cancers such as mesothelioma.
In India, many people are working in the asbestos factories and the business seems to be booming and a deaf ear is being paid to the concerns of the long term effects of asbestos. In fact some executives are indicating that the risks of asbestos are overblown and that scientists and officials from rich Western nations cite copious research showing it causes cancer are distorting the facts. Will asbestos use be stopped in India?, only time will tell.
Whereas many countries are closing mines that are asbestos related the Zimbabwean minister was quoted as saying “In fact we have got proposals not just on asbestos but also on the gold mines under ZMDC-Jena, Elvington and Sabi. We got proposals for Kamativi and Mhangura.” What this means is that a mine is being opened that will expose many to the diseases mentioned above such as lung cancer and mesothelioma. Like the Indian case one asks; will asbestos use be stopped in Zimbabwe or Africa at large?, only time will tell.