Being concerned with continuous wide used of asbestos in the world, the EU and ILO convened the European Asbestos Conference in September 2003 in Dresden, Germany. Gerd Albracht, chairman of the Conference, underlined that "mmillions of workers and consumers have been exposed to asbestos dust. Twenty-thousand asbestos related lung cancers and 10,000 mesotheliomas occur annually across the population of Western Europe, Scandinavia, North America, Japan and Australia alone, but developing countries have much higher risks of exposure. In such countries, asbestos is thus a time bomb that looks set to lead to an explosive increase in asbestos related diseases and deaths in the next 20 30 years."
"Due to strong initiatives at national, European and international level, numerous countries have banned imports and handling of asbestos, other countries are preparing bans. The total world production has decreased since the 1970s by more than 50 per cent. Nevertheless, 2 million tons of asbestos are still produced every year and it is precisely in the developing countries that consumption is on the increase."
The Conference adopted the "Dresden Declaration on the Protection of Workers Against Asbestos", the full text of which can be found in many languages at www.asbestkonferenz2003.de/. The final report of the conference will be available on the same website shortly. More technical data and ILO-related activities can be found in the keynote presentation at the conference by Dr Jukka Takala, Director of the ILO InFocus Programme on Safety and Health at Work and the Environment (SafeWork), which is accessible from http://www.ilo.org/public/english/protection/safework/accidis/asbestos-dresden1.pdf