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Environmental health guideline for the Municipal Public Health Services : Health risks from asbestos in residences and public buildings

GGD-Richtlijn medische milieukunde : Gezondheidsrisico van asbest in woningen en publieke gebouwen

Synopsis

Until 1993, asbestos was often used in Dutch residences and other buildings, including schools. Incidents with asbestos take place frequently, which in some cases results in the acute evacuation of residents. In case of such incidents, the Municipal Public Health Services (GGDs) are responsible for advice on appropriate measures and communication about possible health risks. In these situations, the Municipal Public Health Services have a need for guidelines leading to an appropriate and univocal approach. To this purpose, and commissioned by the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sports, the National Institute of Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) and representatives from the Municipal Public Health Services developed a guideline. This document provides a review of existing knowledge about asbestos, the corresponding health risks, and about the necessary measures and corresponding terms, in case of asbestos incidents. An advice on asbestos in residences is custom-made and is focused on the prevention of adverse health effects. The basic principle is that 'non-drastic measures' should be taken as soon as possible. This means, for example, that residents are well informed about the situation and that the release and spread of asbestos fibers is prevented as much as possible. 'Drastic measures' such as temporary reallocation of residents could lead to substantial emotional, psycho-social, financial or organizational consequences. Therefore, it is a condition that the consequences of such measures are proportional to the health risks from asbestos exposure. Asbestos fibers are carcinogenic through inhalation. Today, asbestos as building material is banned in the Netherlands.
 

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