Asbestos, asbestosis, and cancer – Helsinki Criteria for Diagnosis and Attribution 2014

The Consensus Report 'Asbestos, Asbestosis, and Cancer: Helsinki Criteria for Diagnosis and Attribution 2014' summarizes the current, up-to-date information on the methods for managing and eliminating asbestos-related diseases. The newly updated Helsinki Criteria are recommended for use in programs and practices for the detection, diagnosis and attribution of asbestos-related diseases.

News | 16 January 2015
The asbestos epidemic is far from being over. While the use of asbestos has been banned in many industrialized countries, and production has been stopped in some countries, the global production and use of asbestos remains at a high level. Asbestos is still widely used in many newly industrialized, rapidly developing countries. Exposure to asbestos fibres may also still occur in countries that have banned the new use of asbestos in, for example, demolition and asbestos removal activities. According to the most recent WHO estimate, more than 107 000 people die each year from asbestos-related lung cancer, mesothelioma and asbestosis resulting from exposure at work.

The first ‘Asbestos, asbestosis, and cancer’ symposium convened in Helsinki in 1997 and included 19 participants from eight countries. The purpose of the meeting was to “discuss disorders in association with asbestos and to agree upon state-of-the-art criteria for diagnosis and attribution with respect to asbestos, in addition to questions concerning the surveillance of asbestos-exposed workers.” The resulting document was named the Helsinki Criteria. A follow-up Expert Meeting on new advances in radiology and the screening of asbestos-related diseases was held in 2000 in Helsinki.

Since 1997, a considerable amount of new knowledge regarding the diagnosis and screening of asbestos diseases has been accumulated. The Finnish Institute of Occupational Health (FIOH) therefore decided to integrate this new data into the Helsinki Criteria. The updating of the Helsinki Criteria was carried out with the help of international experts over a period of two years, with a final meeting in Espoo, Finland, on 10–13 February 2014. The conference was organized by the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health in collaboration with the International Commission on Occupational Health (ICOH).