The term "asbestos" designates a group of naturally occurring fibrous serpentine or amphibole minerals with current or historical commercial usefulness due to their extraordinary tensile strength, poor heat conduction, and relative resistance to chemical attack. The principal varieties of asbestos are chrysotile, a serpentine material, and crocidolite, amosite, anthophylite, tremolite and actinolite, which are amphiboles
Why is asbestos a problem?
It is estimated that currently about 125 million people in the world are exposed to asbestos at the workplace. According to WHO estimates, more than 107,000 people die each year from asbestos-related lung cancer, mesothelioma and asbestosis resulting from occupational exposures. One in every three deaths from occupational cancer is estimated to be caused by asbestos. In addition, it is estimated that several thousands of deaths can be attributed annually to exposure to asbestos in the living environment.
Below is a list of documents reflecting WHO's assessment of the risks of the different forms of asbestos and WHOs' technical directions and recommendations for the elimination of asbestos-related diseases.
WHO/ILO outline for the development of national programmes for elimination of asbestos-related diseases
- Review of human carcinogens (metals, arsenic, dust and fibres) by WHO's International Agency for Research on Cancer (external site)
- IARC Monographs Supplement 7: Asbestos