Call to Action by EU Today on Mineral Wool Health Threats

Call to Action by EU Today on Mineral Wool Health Threats

PR Newswire

BRUSSELS, March 22, 2019

BRUSSELS, March 22, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- EU Today, a leading platform for European news, has today called for three actions to be taken to protect construction workers and homeowners from the health risks posed by mineral wool, also known as Man-made Vitreous Fibres (MMVF).

This call for action from policymakers follows a 2018 report published by EU Today that detailed the risks to health caused by the material, which is seen as the successor to asbestos, which was banned in 1999.  That report explained that after initially being classified in the past by the WHO and International Agency on the Research on Cancer as carcinogenic and hazardous to humans, mineral wool was declassified as a carcinogenic in 2002.  However, the report found that mineral wool may "pose similar risks to asbestos."  There was particular concern that past tests on mineral wool gave misleading results because a component was missing from the test samples and the product was not tested as it is actually sold and used.  Health concerns relate not only to carcinogenicity. Mineral wool is known to cause skin and lung abnormalities.

Speaking in Brussels, Gary Cartwright, the Editor of EU Today and author of the 2018 report said: "There are three very obvious steps that must be taken.  The first action is the re-testing of the product. There is evidence of the carcinogenic hazards of mineral wool, as attested by the WHO and IARC classification in 1988. The subsequent declassification in 2002 was based on tests carried out on products that did not accurately represent mineral wool as they are used commercially and by consumers. There is therefore a clear and urgent need for retesting these products as they are used in practice."

Mr Cartwright went on to explain that the second action required is health and safety legislation: "Unlike on building sites, for example, there is currently no legal requirement for employers to enforce rules on the use of protective clothing by employees. There is also anecdotal evidence that workers in the construction industry are not adequately informed about the potential health hazards of mineral wool. There is a clear and urgent need for these shortcomings to be addressed, possibly in the form of EU legislation."

Mr Cartwright detailed the third action to be taken as product labelling, explaining: "Consumer goods such as alcohol and tobacco are currently subject to strict requirements to inform about potential health risks on product labels. There is a strong argument for mineral wool, whether sold through the trade, or to consumers, to carry similar warnings, displayed prominently on all packaging."

He concluded by saying that policymakers have a duty to act now and protect people from the health risks that mineral wool poses, explaining: "With asbestos, essentially mineral wool's older cousin, we waited 99 years from discovering it was dangerous to actually banning it.  Think of all the lives lost in that time.  We must learn from that and act more swiftly and firmly around the threat of mineral wool."

About EU Today

Launched on May 1st 2014, EU Today is an independent and politically neutral media platform. 

We are based in London, but our journalists and contributors are active across the EU and beyond.

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