Statement from the Brazilian National Association of Occupational Medicine (ANAMT) regarding the outcome of the Supreme Court ruling on the production and sale of asbestos in Brazil
The Brazilian National Association of Occupational Medicine – ANAMT, a non-profit civil entity and the legitimate representative of Occupational Medicine, dedicated to defending workers’ health, welcomes the decision of the Supreme Court, announced on 24th of August 2017, where it was declared that Article 2 of Federal Law 9,055 / 1995 is unconstitutional. The referred article allowed the production and sale of chrysotile asbestos in Brazil.
The ruling also declared State Law 12,684/2007 of the State of São Paulo, which prohibits the extraction, transportation and sale of all types of asbestos in the state, constitutional.
ANAMT has defended the asbestos ban for decades and considers the recognition from the Supreme Court judges regarding the threat of asbestos as a representative act for the health of Brazilian workers, as well as a significant step towards the goal of our cause.
During the case judgement, heads of ANAMT follow the votes in person in the capital, Brasilia. ANAMT says that “safe and controlled use” of asbestos, including chrysotile, is an anachronistic and fallacious discussion that may lead to long-term consequences such as serious illness for people exposed to the fibres along the production chain. Asbestos is a widely-studied substance recognised as a human carcinogen by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC).
The Brazilian Ministry of Health also demonstrates the occurrence of thousands of asbestos-related deaths – and this occurrence has been increasing. Even worse, considering the latency time between exposure and cancer diagnosis, there will be a continued increase of new cases of mesothelioma arising from past exposures, as was clearly demonstrated and discussed during the Public Hearings held by the Supreme Court in 2012.
With the current decision, the Supreme Court plays its role as the highest guardian of the Brazilian judicial system which defends life, health and environment. From now on, ANAMT expects the immediate, practical and effective prohibition of asbestos in Brazil. In the coming years, we expect to see a decrease of asbestos related diseases, as well a positive impact on health in Brazil.