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French Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health & Safety

Publication of the ANSES report on the study of "natural outcrops of asbestos"

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News of 02/11/2010

2 November 2010

The French Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health & Safety (ANSES) has just published a review of current knowledge of the health risks and public health measures taken in France and in other countries to deal with the exposure of humans to natural outcrops of asbestos.

Asbestos is mainly found in France around natural rocky outcrops in Upper Corsica and New Caledonia. These outcrops, due to erosion or specific construction work (building, road networks, earthworks, etc) may lead to humans being exposed to asbestos fibres and potential risks to their health.

The ANSES report gives a synthesis of current knowledge in terms of metrology, assessment of the exposure of populations and the effects on public health. It also reviews the measures taken to deal with asbestos outcrops in France and in other regions of the world.

The converging proof in the scientific publications studied shows that there is a risk for local populations and workers during moving or use of asbestos-bearing rocks.

The review of public health practice reveals that some measures are widespread but differ from one country to another (risk taken into account in urban planning, inspection of outdoor worksites, handling of rubble, etc). The report specifically mentions that local management initiatives, particularly in France, are effective and may be generalised to other regions facing identical risks.

ANSES recommends that current public health practice be improved and completed in various ways, in particular to reinforce protection of populations exposed to construction work on asbestos-bearing land. These recommendations should enable policy-makers and risk managers to adapt or define appropriate measures for specific exposure situations encountered in various French territories where asbestos-bearing ground is involved.

The report, which was written in response to a request from the Ministries responsible for health, the environment and work, may be consulted below.

Find out more

Opinion (in Engkish) and report (in French) on a study following the solicited request for expertise on "Natural asbestos outcrops". Current knowledge on exposure, health risks and health measures in France and in other countries.