One in three Europeans potentially exposed to asbestos, new UN study shows

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Baku, May 1, AZERTAC

A high-level meeting on environment and health in Europe today appealed urgently to all European countries to eliminate asbestos-related diseases, as a new United Nations report showed that one third of the 900 million people living in the region are potentially exposed to asbestos at work and in the environment.

“We cannot afford losing almost 15,000 lives a year in Europe, especially workers, from diseases caused by exposure to asbestos,” Dr. Zsuzsanna Jakab, the World Health Organization’s Regional Director for Europe was quoted as saying in a press release issued in Haifa, Israel, where more than 200 delegates met from 28-30 April to evaluate progress on environment and health in Europe.

“Every death from asbestos-related diseases is avoidable,” Dr. Jakab said. “We urge all countries to leave the Haifa meeting to fulfil their 2010 commitment and develop policies by the end of this year that will eliminate asbestos-related diseases from the face of Europe.”

“There is very little time left for that,” she said.

Elimination of asbestos-related diseases was one of the major issues discussed at the Haifa meeting, according to WHO.

The report presented at the meeting, indicated that asbestos, a group of natural fibrous minerals, is responsible for about half of all deaths from cancers developed at work. According to new estimates, deaths from mesothelioma in 15 European countries cost society more than 1.5 billion euros annually.

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