There have been regulations restricting the use of asbestos since 1990 and, since 1 January 2005, following a European Commission Directive, the use and marketing of asbestos-containing products has been completely banned. The reason is well known: exposure to asbestos increases the risk of lung cancer by up to six times. It also affects the upper respiratory tract, oesophagus and kidneys as a result of inhaling the microscopic fibres released, including from the asbestos-cement plates used on roofs.
Through Government Decision of 15 April 2006, asbestos was outlawed in Romania. However, Government Decision No 734/2006 extends the use of asbestos: ‘Products containing asbestos which have been installed or were in operation before 1 January 2005 may be used until the end of their life cycle’ which is sometimes far beyond the life expectancy of humans. Somewhat ironically, asbestos can be found even on apartment blocks which have been rehabilitated using European funds.
What tools does the Commission have at its disposal to ban and definitively remove asbestos-cement plates from the roofs of buildings in Romania before the end of their life cycle, as they are exposing people in the vicinity to incurable diseases?