Tuesday 02 June 2020

Asbestos removal strategy needs reform, housing corporations say

‘No trespassing, asbestos’ at a demolition site. Photo: Depositphotos.com

The risks attached to living in a house with an asbestos roof are far fewer than originally thought and even removing the roof does not require special clothing in most cases, housing corporation group Aedes said on Tuesday.

Aedes bases its claim on a report it commissioned from the TNO institute,  experts at Utrecht and Radboud universities and Crisislab. That research, based on a number of different scenarios, shows that current policy towards asbestos is not realistic in terms of exposure, the health risks and the cost of protection, Aedes said.

The Netherlands agreed last October that all asbestos roofs must be replaced by 2024. However, current strategy to deal with asbestos means that measures are being taken which are, in most cases, unnecessary, Aedes said.

‘If you are demolishing asbestos ceilings on a daily basis you do run risks and you should wear proper protective clothing,’ professor Ira Helsloot, one of the researchers, told broadcaster NOS. ‘But if you are simply removing an asbestos roof, the risk is zero. The risk is so small that no protective measures are necessary.’

‘The legal norms, complexity of working practices and the costs are in many cases disproportionate to the actual risk,’ Aedes said. ‘This research confirms that current policy on asbestos needs reform.’

The association of asbestos removal companies VAVB told NOS it disagrees with the report’s conclusions and says proper protection is always necessary.

Aedes has presented the findings to junior employment minister Tamara van Ark. MPs are due to debate asbestos policy on Wednesday.

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