Finnish Institute of Occupational Health (FIOH): Prevention and detection of asbestos‐related diseases, 1987–2005
Background Between 1987 and 1992, the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health (FIOH) initiated and implemented the Asbestos Program that aimed at reducing asbestos-related risks. It was a cooperative effort between government authorities, labor market organizations, and health care and labor protection personnel. Methods During the Program and its follow-up since 1993 several preventive actions were taken, and considerable new legislation and official instructions were issued. Results Approximately 200,000 people in Finland have been exposed to asbestos in their work. Through the cooperative efforts of government, labor, health care and worker protection programs, the import of asbestos was ceased in 1993 with a few exceptions. Almost all imports ceased in 2005 following European Union directives. Regulation of asbestos abatement companies has been greatly increased. The occupational exposure limit has been reduced from 2.0 fibers/cm3 to the present 0.1 fibers/cm3. Asbestos-related diseases are closely monitored and education of health care providers regarding the occupational source of these conditions is now emphasized. Conclusions The success of the primary goal of the Program, a reduction in asbestos-related morbidity, will not be fully realized for many decades. Am. J. Ind. Med. 49:215–220, 2006. © 2006 Wiley-Liss, Inc.