Asbestos is not naturally present in Belgium. It is a highly toxic, natural, fibrous material. This is why, since the end of 2001, it has been strictly prohibited across Belgium in accordance with the Royal Decree of 23 October 2001 restricting the placement on the market and use of certain hazardous substances and preparations and the REACH regulation (Appendix XVII - point 6). Only research, development and analysis applications are exempt from this ban.
However, asbestos was used extensively in past decades, (including asbestos cement in the construction industry) and continues to be present in our living environment in various forms. Products containing asbestos that were installed and/or used prior to 1st January 2002 continue to be permitted until these are removed or replaced.
Asbestos can constitute a health risk for citizens and workers.
Asbestos dangerous to health
All forms of asbestos are classified as - carcinogenic substances for humans according to the European regulation 1272/2008, presently called CLP regulation (Classification, Labelling, Packaging).
Asbestos fibres are very fine and very fragile filaments. Once inhaled, they can get deposited in lungs and cause diseases. These can manifest up to 30 or 40 years after exposure to asbestos dust.
Asbestos used in several fields of activities.
Asbestos was in particular integrated in some construction materials and products as well as in some consumer goods. A material in good condition containing asbestos is not dangerous by itself. Danger arises from the spread of fine asbestos fibres in ambient space and their inhalation, for example in case of wear, during specific work on these materials and products (drilling, sanding, etc.) or even when they are being replaced or dismantled. Prudence is therefore mandatory while carrying out any work.Attention: asbestos removal and management of asbestos waste should both be executed in a strictly managed way.
Would you like to have more information about asbestos and how to recognise it? Check the advice given by your region:
• Brussels-Capital: website
• Wallonie: brochure "L’amiante dans et autour de la maison"
• Flanders: www.asbestinfo.be (OVAM)