Carefully managing our asbestos past

Asbestos is part of our past, and we continue to carefully manage our history with the material. We cannot undo the past, and we deeply regret that people have become seriously ill due to asbestos exposure.

One policy, three principles

To ensure adequate support systems are in place, we have established a mandatory policy that enables our companies to manage their pasts vigilantly. It is our sincerest hope that treatment for asbestos-related illnesses will benefit from medical and scientific research in the future. Our group-wide policy is based on 3 principles.

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Compensating victims

Etex companies must ensure that those who become seriously ill due to the use of asbestos in their factories receive fair financial compensation.

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Preventing exposure

While finishing site upgrades, Etex companies continuously monitor facilities for the presence of airborne asbestos fibres and meticulously manage the safety of buildings and landfills.

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Supporting research

We support and contribute to medical and scientific research into asbestos-related diseases, their management and the development of better treatments.

 

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Asbestos through the years

Since its discovery, this naturally occurring, industrially relevant mineral has been used, and is still used, around the globe by various sectors. However, all the health implications of inhaling asbestos fibres were not yet known. Unfortunately, it has taken the world decades to fully understand the risks associated with asbestos exposure.

In line with regulations, Etex banned asbestos in 2002. In the past, some of our companies used asbestos as a raw material in production processes. Starting in the 1970s, they took measures to reduce asbestos concentration levels in the air in their factories. These measures were aligned with legislation and based on scientific knowledge available at the time. However, scientific and medical knowledge further evolved, indicating later that these measures were not sufficient. The significant average latency period of asbestos-related disease has influenced the progression of scientific understanding of these diseases.

Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, the use of asbestos was more strictly regulated, and in 2005, the European Union completely prohibited its use. Etex entirely banned asbestos from the production processes of all its companies in 2002.

The name Eternit was used to patent the technology which was sold worldwide to multiple companies, several of which adopted and retained the name for their businesses as well as it being the name of the product. As a consequence, some companies today that are not affiliated with Etex produce and/or sell products under the name Eternit. It should also be noted that although the EU prohibits its use, asbestos can still be legally used and sold in many countries around the world.

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About asbestos

Asbestos is a natural mineral found in many locations around the world. In the 20th century, this material was extensively used in industry. Its inherent resistance to fire and mechanical and chemical aggression and its tensile strength, insulation properties, and affordability made it a coveted material.

This explains why it was used in numerous applications in many industries, from construction, chemicals and home appliances to shipbuilding and automotive. Applications included building insulation, fire protection (trains, buses, buildings), heat protection in industrial processes, domestic appliances (e.g. hair dryers and toasters), the petrochemical industry, the automotive industry (brakes, clutches), water and wine filters and fire-resistant clothing. Consequently, the widespread presence of asbestos still makes it a societal problem today.

 

 

Etex substantially increased its annual contribution to the Foundation Against Cancer. Between 2012 and 2024 donations will attain 10 million euro.

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