Treatment & Doctors

International Think Tanks Attempt To Shape Asbestos Policy

Written By:
Nov 22, 2011
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Written By: Mark Hall,
November 22, 2011

Patient advocate groups aren’t the only ones taking up the fight to have tighter regulations on asbestos. Some prestigious scientific research groups and think tanks are joining the effort.

Evidence suggests these think tanks have been a leading catalyst of stronger policies and laws regulating asbestos use around the world, even though they are largely unknown.

Asbestos, a naturally-occurring mineral, causes mesothelioma and other lung-related cancers.

What is Collegium Ramazzini?

One specific think tank known for its expertise and guidance on asbestos-related issues is Collegium Ramazzini.

Collegium Ramazzini is a consortium of 180 occupational and environmental health experts from around the world. Since its inception in 1982, igt worked as an information liaison between the scientific communities and political bodies that shape legislation.

Much of the collaboration on asbestos research among its members occurs at its annual conference in October in Italy. The think tank and its events are viewed with reverence by many in the research community.

Scientists and researchers from Collegium Ramazzini asked multiple times for a ban on all asbestos use and asbestos products with the aim of eliminating asbestos exposure.

Events organized by the think tank are typically attended by important researchers, influential scientists and others who produce publications that affect the way governments understand asbestos.

As public officials set laws based on up-to-date research, such a group becomes an integral part of the policy-making process.

The prominence of Collegium Ramazzini in the asbestos field is credited to the fact that its founder, Irving Selikoff, M.D., is the researcher who is discovered that asbestos fibers cause lung-related diseases. Because of this discovery, Selikoff is often referred to as the “father of asbestos research.”

The actions of Collegium Ramazzini and other think tanks to shape public policy around the world have been more effective in some places, while making less of an immediate impact in others.

Current State of Asbestos Policy

In the United States, asbestos is not banned, although it is regulated and some asbestos products are outlawed. Some critics say the lack of action by the U.S. government will result in a future burden on the health of thousands of individuals.

Canada is a much stronger target for Collegium Ramazzini. Canada mines and exports a large amount of asbestos annually, and it receives criticism for As a result, it has also become a target of criticism for an oft-double-standard approach to asbestos.

Canada is a proponent of asbestos mining and exportation but limits the material’s use and consumption by its own citizens. Some argue that it shows the country’s belief that asbestos is harmful to people, but such dangers are worth the risk for citizens of developing nations.

In the United Kingdom, large scale restrictions have been put on the use and import of most asbestos-containing products. Conversely, no complete ban has been made on the toxic mineral.

Countries like Turkey, Poland, Japan and Italy have been very proactive in reducing asbestos consumption in its entirety. Each of these countries has completely banned the use of asbestos in all forms.  This is not to say that countries that have banned asbestos have required the extraction of it in materials that are already in existence, but it does take a stronger approach than many.

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