In nine years, asbestos will disappear from Poland. At this rate it will happen in 60 years

In nine years, asbestos will disappear from Poland.  At this rate it will happen in 60 years

By 2032, harmful asbestos should disappear from millions of roofs of houses, garages and outbuildings. In 2022, the Supreme Audit Office warned that at this rate it will take another 60 years to remove asbestos. It is not even known what the scale of the problem is, because a full inventory of buildings covered with eternit has never been made.

We have known for many years that asbestos is a harmful substance and contributes to asbestosis, lung diseases and cancer. This effect of asbestos is the result of inhalation of fibers suspended in the air (asbestos dust), which are invisible to the human eye. The threat is often underestimated due to the microscopic size of the fibers and the long-term and latent development of diseases.

Asbestos. It is not known how many roofs it was placed on

Asbestos was once widely used to cover roofs. A dozen or so years ago, the great removal of asbestos from residential and farm buildings began, but considering that there are millions of smaller and larger houses, farmsteads and garages – the scale of the challenge is huge. Unprotected asbestos boards are harmful, even if they are only placed on the roof. Rain washes away the cement binder, which causes the asbestos fiber bundles to become exposed, split and released into the environment. The more damaged the roof is, the more fibers escape.

There has never been a complete list of buildings where asbestos was used. However, it is estimated that approximately 15.5 million tons of products contain it. There are approximately 1.5 billion asbestos roof coverings alone. m2. Half of the existing asbestos was used in individual construction.

On June 19, 1997, the Act on the Prohibition of the Use of Products Containing Asbestos was passed. From March 28, 1999, the trade in asbestos was banned. It has been in force in EU countries since 2005. Currently, the National Asbestos Cleansing Program for 2009-2032 is being implemented. According to the regulation of the Minister of Economy of December 13, 2010, the use of this material in Poland is allowed until December 31, 2032. However, meeting this deadline seems very unlikely.

The Commissioner for Human Rights reminds Minister Buda about the asbestos problem

The Ombudsman drew the attention of the Minister of Development to the too slow “moving away from asbestos”. He explained that he receives complaints from building owners who would like to replace asbestos roofs but do not have the funds to do so, as well as from people who live in the vicinity of such facilities and experience negative impacts. This reveals the problem of the inability to oblige the owner to remove the asbestos product when it has not been assessed as urgent and the owner does not remove it himself.

This decision often results from the lack of funds for renovations and depends on the individual beliefs of property owners or managers.

In the current legal situation, the assessment of the condition and possibilities of safe use is prepared by the owner, perpetual usufructuary or manager of real estate, as well as of a facility, construction device, industrial installation or other place containing asbestos – according to the regulation of the Minister of Economy, Labor and Social Policy of April 2, 2004. regarding methods and conditions for the safe use and disposal of products containing asbestos.

NIK also criticizes the pace of asbestos removal

The Supreme Audit Office also analyzed the rate of removal of roofing materials containing asbestos. The analysis of NIK data leads to the conclusion that, while maintaining the current pace of implementation of the Program’s tasks, such products will be removed for at least 60 years – counting from the end of the Asbestos Cleansing Program for 2009-2032.. According to the Supreme Audit Office, only 17 percent were removed during the first 12 years of the Program. asbestos products. And this only applies to inventoried products. Their exact number is still unknown. Estimates from 2009 amounted to 14.5 million tons of inventoried asbestos products.

According to the Supreme Audit Office, the Asbestos Database maintained by the Ministry of Energy and Technology does not reflect the actual situation regarding the number of asbestos products. In practice, this makes proper monitoring of the Program implementation impossible.

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