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close this bookAsbestos Overview and Handling Recommendations (GTZ, 1996)
close this folderPart I. Introduction
View the document1. Introduction
View the document2. Structure
View the document3. Definition of terms

1. Introduction

ERM Umwelt Consult Rhein-Main-Neckar GmbH (ERM, formerly ERL) was commissioned by the Deutschen Gesellschaft fur Technische Zusammenarbeit (gtz) mbH to perform an Asbestos study. A total of 1.5 FM was available for this assignment. The first phase of the project was completed in June 1992. In a second phase the main focus was placed on the use of Asbestos containing materials in the areas of housing and water mains construction, as well as on the available Asbestos substitutes in these areas. Furthermore, the use and handling of Asbestos should be more closely discussed on the basis of selected countries and donor organizations. The selection of the countries and donors was performed in collaboration with the contractor or the Kreditanstalt fur Wiederaufbau (KfW). External budgets were formed for the acquisition of information from the selected countries. For the performance of the second phase 2 FM were available.

The study "Asbestos" serves as an estimation of the risks resulting from the handling of Asbestos materials. The practices in mining and use of Asbestos containing materials in the developing countries (DC) should be given special attention. One goal of the study is the development of recommendations for handling the Asbestos problem for people involved in joint projects with developing countries. The study should also be helpful in practical use for better handling of the Asbestos problem in DC.

2. Structure

As described above, the present report is based on an overview analysis, which was performed by ERM in 1992. As an extension to that study, new points of focus were defined and compiled in a new report in which the findings of the first study have also been incorporated in another format.

The study contains four independent parts:

(Part I: Introduction)

Part II: Asbestos

In this part a basic introduction to the subject of Asbestos is provided. This part was the result of the first phase of the study and includes:

- Introduction: Asbestos - Deposits, Uses, Types, Characteristics
- Legal Regulations
- Environmental Aspects and Heath Hazards
- Application Areas of Asbestos Materials and Asbestos Products
- Health and Safety Measures in Handling Asbestos
- Aspects of Asbestos Abatement and Disposal of Asbestos Containing Materials

Part III: Asbestos Substitutes

Here the principally available substitutes for Asbestos containing materials in the areas of housing and water mains construction are discussed. This part includes the following sections:

- Technical Requirements for Asbestos Substitutes
- Properties of Typical Asbestos Substitutes - Overview
- Fiber Substitutes for Asbestos Fibers in Building Construction
- Fiber-free Substitutes in Building Construction
- Fiber-free Substitutes in Water Mains

Part IV: Country Analysis

As described above, the handling of Asbestos in different countries should be studied. Aside from a general introduction and the discussion of the Asbestos subject in developing countries, the situation in other selected countries is also described. The country-specific information was compiled on the basis of the questionnaire which is presented in the Annex.

Part V: Development of Handling Recommendations

In the last part of the study handling recommendations are developed based on the experiences of other donor organizations and other considerations.

(Part VI: Literature)
(Part VII: Annexes)

3. Definition of terms

Asbestos is a collective description for different naturally occurring fibrous minerals. The legislative definition describes Asbestos as a collective term for naturally occurring crystalline silicate with fibrous structure. The term "fiber" is defined by its geometry: fibers having a length > 5 km, a diameter < 3 km and a length/diameter ratio of at least 3:1. An important property of Asbestos materials is the continual splitting along their length down to the very smallest fibers.

Asbestos minerals are natural components of the Earth's crust. The name "Asbestos" originates from Greek and means "inextinguishable", whereby one of the material characteristics is mentioned which led to the great usefulness and industrial interest in this material.

The differentiation among Asbestos containing products is made between nonfriable and friable Asbestos:


Asbestos cement or hard Asbestos with a gross density significantly higher than 1000 kg/m³ and an Asbestos percentage of 10 - 15 % (remainder is cement)


Sprayed Asbestos/soft Asbestos with a gross density under 1000 kg/m³; ca. 60 % Asbestos powder, ca. 40 % cement

Friable Asbestos can easily be released from the surface by hand. As of 1979, sprayed Asbestos has been prohibited in the Federal Republic of Germany, due to the associated health hazards. Asbestos cements were permitted to be manufactured until the end of 1993; about 70 % of the applied Asbestos amounts are fabricated into Asbestos cements.