Its Official: Asbestos Use Banned in Ukraine
Despite aggressive lobbying by Ukrainian and foreign pro-asbestos stakeholders, on October 1, 2023, legislation banning asbestos use and providing safeguards to protect Ukrainians from deadly workplace exposures came into effect.1 The asbestos prohibitions were stipulated in Article 28, provision 3 of the law outlining the revised constitution of Ukraines Public Health System:
Production and use of asbestos, regardless of its type, as well as asbestos-containing products and materials, are prohibited in technological processes and during construction and assembly work at any facilities. Safety and protection measures against the harmful effects of [exposures to] asbestos and asbestos-containing products and materials are [to be] determined by state health and sanitary regulations.
The implementation of laws which brought Ukraine into harmony with EU Member States was accomplished despite fierce opposition from the countrys asbestos-producing neighbors: Russia & Kazakhstan. As recently as August, 2022, Mikhail Radutsky, head of Ukraines National Health Committee, reported that the draft asbestos prohibitions were under attack by Russian interests:
Russian bot farms are working. Again, they are spreading many myths that have nothing to do with the text of the bill. The narratives are very similar to the theses of the Kremlins propagandists. Some manufacturers of building materials that use asbestos are helping the enemy to engage in sabotage. After all, the document finally prohibits harmful [asbestos] production, as they did in almost all countries of the world, even fascist Russia.2
Since officials from Ukraines Ministry of Health announced that it had implemented measures to prohibit the use of all types of asbestos including chrysotile, the type mined in Russia & Kazakhstan at a press conference in Kyiv on June 26, 2017,3 government ministers, ambassadors, civil servants and non-governmental organizations had been under bombardment from the asbestos lobby via a string of judicial actions as well as media offensives: one rather eye-catching initiative was the erection in January 2022 of a pro-asbestos poster close to Kyivs government quarter where the Parliament, Cabinet of Ministers and Parliamentary Committees were located (see below).4
It is worth pointing out that the sponsors of the Facebook page: Asbestos for Ukraine, the website: Stop [Asbestos] Tile Ban and the poster above chose to remain anonymous.
International supporters of Ukraines asbestos ban did not have to hide their identities when they backed measures to establish an immediate and complete ban on the use of Chrysotile asbestos in Ukraine.5 As Welsh Parliamentarian Mick Antoniw, himself of Ukrainian descent, wrote in a letter to the Head of the Ukraine Parliament:
Wales is a country with a long industrial history and consequently we have had many thousands of citizens who have become ill, disabled or died as a consequence of asbestos exposure including Chrysotile asbestos. We all support the international ban on all forms of asbestos including Chrysotile.
Antoniws views were shared by medical professionals, scientific experts, trade unionists and other European politicians.6 Asked for his reaction to the news about the implementation of Ukraines asbestos ban, on October 24, 2023 Mr. Anotoniw wrote:
I had lost track of the process after so many twists and turns in this saga. I am thrilled to know that the efforts of the Ukrainians have succeeded in overcoming the judicial, legal, social and economic hurdles thrown in their way by asbestos profiteers at home and abroad. The fact that this has been achieved during a time when the country has been at war with Russia makes this accomplishment all the more extraordinary.7
October 25, 2023
1 ЗАКОН УКРАЇНИ: Про систему громадського здоров’я [The Law of Ukraine: About the public health system].
МІНІСТЕРСТВО ОХОРОНИ ЗДОРОВ'Я УКРАЇНИ: Про затвердження Державних санітарних норм і правил "Про безпеку і захист працівників від шкідливого впливу азбесту та матеріалів і виробів, що містять азбест" [Ukraine Ministry of Health: On the safety and protection of workers from the harmful effects of asbestos and materials and products containing asbestos].
Kazan-Allen, L. Ukraine Bans Asbestos, Finally! September 9, 2022.
2 Kazan-Allen, L. Reflections on Ukraines Independence Day. August 24, 2022.
3 Kazan-Allen, L. Ukraine Bans Asbestos! June 26, 2017.
4 Kazan-Allen, L. Ukraine Asbestos Ban: 2022 Update. January 26, 2023.
For more information on the background to the asbestos ban, see the IBAS Ukraine article dossier and the IBAS Ukraine news dossier at http://ibasecretariat.org/abs_archive_articles.php?sel=c&c_val=Ukraine and
5 Letter from Mick Antoniw, Member of Welsh Parliament and Counsel General and Minister for the Constitution in the Welsh Government to Mr Ruslan Stefanchuk Head of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine. November 25, 2021.
6 Letters from other associations and groups supporting Ukraines asbestos ban can be viewed at the links given below:
Collegium Ramazzini. April 16, 2021.
https://www.collegiumramazzini.org/news/detail/199European Federation of Building and Woodworkers (EFBWW), Building and Woodworkers International (BWI) and Construction and Building Materials Industry Workers Union in Ukraine (PROFBUD). April 23, 2021.
UK Parliamentarians. April 20, 2021.
7 Email received from Mr. Antoniw on October 24, 2023.