The World Bank finances government and private sector construction projects. This document will serve as guidance for bank project officers to select safer construction materials than the asbestos-cement sheets and pipes that account for 90% of the asbestos use in the world today. Asbestos materials are also to be avoided in disaster relief projects. Use of safer alternative materials will avoid the needless, continuing, mortal endangerment of workers and building occupants whenever the structures have to be renovated or demolished.
Similar policies may now be adopted by the regional development banks, some private banks, and governments. This in turn may do something to reduce global asbestos use, which is again on the rise after dropping by half in the 1990s, mainly fueled by growth in Asia, particularly China and India.
I was delighted to be asked by the World Bank to start drafting this document in 2006, just as ILO and WHO launched new initiatives on asbestos and called for a global ban on asbestos use. Industrial hygienist Andrew Oberta drafted the parts of this guidance note on asbestos abatement, an area in which he is expert. Bank environmental staff provided advice and editing in getting the report in final form. The guidance note consists of 7 pages of referenced text and 10 pages of appendices.