Posted on Jun 04, 2020
The Danish government has reportedly announced that after lengthy negotiations, a compromise has been found on regulating the demolition and installation of mineral wool, a widely used building insulation material that has been the subject of longstanding health concerns.
The government announcement in Denmark covers both the “old” and “new” variants of the synthetic insulation material. The so-called “old” mineral wool category relates to material from 1997 or earlier and is still found in housing stock. The “new” mineral wool is that which has been put on the market after 1997.
Among other things, Denmark will require that for work on the installation and demolition of both new and old mineral wool the employer has to prepare a chemical risk assessment, provide effective training and instruction of employees in relation to work with mineral wool, as well as on the labelling of waste containers. With a few exceptions, the rules on old mineral will be equivalent to that of carcinogenic substances, which is the strictest health and safety regulation in the chemicals field.
There are also concerns that those exposed to mineral wool, such as home-owners or construction workers laying or removing mineral wool insulation, could be at greater risk of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), a serious long term illness which causes inflammation of the air passages and damage to the lung tissue, leading to the flow of air to be restricted.
Examples of COPD include bronchitis and emphysema: smoking is a major cause of COPD but there is evidence that 15% of COPD cases are work-related, due to exposure to dusts and fumes, including dust from MMVFs such as mineral wool. Inhalation can lead to pulmonary fibrosis, a chronic disease that cannot be cured and which is accompanied by breathlessness. These health concerns were summarised in an EU Today Report.
The next step in Denmark is for the Danish Labour Inspectorate to prepare draft decrees for consultation with the interested parties and the public.
Image: By Achim Hering - Own work, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/...
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