Asbestos in Belgium: use and abuse

Int J Occup Environ Health. Jul-Sep 2003;9(3):287-93. doi: 10.1179/oeh.2003.9.3.287.


It took 50 years for Belgium to recognize asbestosis; mesothelioma and lung cancer were recognized as occupational diseases caused by asbestos in 1982 and 1999, much later than in neighboring countries. Only salaried workers can claim compensation from the Occupational Diseases Fund. The right to reparation is thus denied to most victims because many have been self-employed: mechanics, electricians, painters, roofers, carpenters, plumbers, etc. Compensation was also denied to people who became ill through exposures to the workclothes of family members or pollution from asbestos factories near their homes. The main obstacles facing asbestos victims are legal and judicial. For instance, an employer is not liable, even for gross negligence. Victims are not allowed to claim if 20 years have passed since their exposures to asbestos. Changes in Belgian legislation are sorely needed.

MeSH terms

  • Asbestos / adverse effects*
  • Asbestos / economics*
  • Asbestosis / economics*
  • Asbestosis / etiology*
  • Belgium
  • Humans
  • Liability, Legal
  • Lung Neoplasms / economics*
  • Lung Neoplasms / etiology*
  • Malpractice
  • Mesothelioma / economics*
  • Mesothelioma / etiology*
  • Occupational Exposure*
  • Public Policy*
  • Workers' Compensation*


  • Asbestos