New line on asbestos heralds policy shift on "sunset chemicals"

A revised approach to the control of asbestos, involving a ban on all uses of the material except those shown by means of a risk assessment to represent the best environmental option, has been announced by the Government. The new policy may set a precedent for the control of other "sunset chemicals."

A review of existing controls on asbestos was promised by the 1990 White Paper on the environment. This revealed that the Government had already initiated consultations with industry on a policy of "banning or discouraging all uses of asbestos, except for a number of existing uses where detailed risk assessment has shown that suitable substitutes are either not available or do not offer a materially better option in safety or other terms."

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