The global asbestos industry is shrinking as countries increasingly move away from reliance on asbestos, and country-level data show no negative economic impact from asbestos bans or decline in asbestos production or use.
A new report by the World Health Organization (WHO) suggests that countries currently consuming and/or producing asbestos, in quantities similar to countries that have already banned asbestos, would not experience an observable effect on gross domestic product from a ban on or decline in asbestos consumption and/or production.
The report further emphasises that the continued use of asbestos carries substantial costs related to health, remediation and litigation. For example, the annual global health-care costs associated with the health effects of asbestos are estimated to be US$ 2.4–3.9 billion, excluding the additional costs of pain, suffering and welfare losses. In the US alone, asbestos litigation costs have been estimated at another US$ 2.3 billion per year.
A summary of the key methods and findings of this report was recently published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health in the special issue ‘Global panorama of national experiences in public health actions to ban asbestos’.
Source: WHO, 19 April 2018