White Asbestos: Definitely Top-Level Carcinogen
28 May 2011
The Safety and Health Practitioner has reported that the Government's chief scientific advisor has reaffirmed the status of chrysotile (white) asbestos as a Class 1 carcinogenic substance, and has concluded that there is no valid reason to demote it to a less-serious category.
Last year, Sir John Beddington, head of the Government Office for Science, was approached to consider whether any evidence exists that would "justify an imminent change to the 'international scientific consensus on the classification of asbestos' and so allow ministers to reconsider UK legislation".
At a meeting of experts, in March - which included representatives from the HSE, Imperial College London, and the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine - it was agreed that while there is consistent evidence pointing to chrysotile as a cause of lung cancer, more uncertainty exists with regard to causation of mesothelioma, particularly at low levels of exposure.
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