National Asbestos Profile - Challenges and public policy recommendations to mitigate the risks associated with the negative legacy of asbestos, based on the dimensioning of the problem in Colombia

Project: Research Project

Project Details


Asbestos are minerals that are classified into two families, amphiboles and serpentines. Amphiboles include 5 mineralogical forms (amosite, actinolite, anthophyllite, tremolite, and crocidolite), and serpentines include chrysotile, which is the most widely used type of asbestos worldwide [1, 2]. Due to its physicochemical characteristics, asbestos has been used in multiple products and in various productive sectors [3, 4]. All types of asbestos are classified as carcinogenic to humans (i.e., Type I Carcinogens) and exposure to this material causes diseases including mesothelioma, lung cancer, laryngeal cancer, ovarian cancer, and asbestosis [5]. Despite the negative effects of asbestos on human health, it is still traded in many countries and currently only 67 countries, recently including Colombia, have banned it [6].
In the Colombian case, the use of asbestos began in 1942 when the first asbestos-cement plant began operations in the municipality of Sibaté, Cundinamarca [7]. In Colombia, the consumption of this mineral is concentrated in the construction and automotive sectors, to which is added the presence of a chrysotile-type asbestos mine located in Campamento, Antioquia [8]. Despite the extensive history of the use of asbestos in Colombia, the government entities that should monitor the use and commercialization of the mineral (Ministry of Health and Social Protection, Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development, Ministry of Labor, Ministry of Mines and Energy and Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Tourism) do not have reliable figures on the incidence of diseases related to asbestos in the country, nor on the population at risk; neither is epidemiological surveillance carried out, nor are there official figures on the trade of asbestos in Colombia. In other words, knowledge about the dimension of the asbestos problem in the country is extremely limited.

Therefore, this project responds to an urgent need for the country to recognize and measure the asbestos problem based on a better knowledge of the magnitude and characteristics of the asbestos market, of the populations at risk, and of the scientific evidence about of the health effects that may be associated with exposure to this mineral. Taking into account the above, the academy can make a contribution to decision-making by state entities, through the development of two central dimensions that are part of this project: 1 - Prepare the PNA for Colombia, which constitutes a Fundamental input for the country to generate evidence-based public policies to address the asbestos problem. 2 - Review the content, both of Law 1968 of 2019 and of the current regulations on occupational health, to establish, in light of the previously prepared PNA, what are the main challenges that the Colombian State will have to face in public policy matter related to the mitigation of risks associated with asbestos. Therefore, with the dimensioning of the asbestos problem in Colombia and the identification of the challenges of the State in terms of public policy, this project aims to provide information and knowledge that will allow, in the future, to better protect the health of the population in general and of workers in industries that previously used asbestos


The main result of this research is the National Asbestos Profile for Colombia (PNA), which measures and characterizes the asbestos problem in the country based on scientific evidence. As previously explained, the PNA is the first step for the elaboration of the National Plan for the Elimination of Asbestos-Related Diseases (PNEERA), which must be generated by the national Government in accordance with the recommendations of the World Health Organization. and the International Labor Organization to address the asbestos problem at the country level [22]. In the context of Law 1968/19, through which asbestos is prohibited in Colombia, this information will be essential for the Law implementation process.
Based on the information collected, public policy recommendations will be formulated as a contribution to the initiatives that are established in Colombia to face the asbestos problem in the country, looking for these strategies to be designed based on figures and a better knowledge of the national situation

Commitments / Obligations

Preparation and distribution of the National Asbestos Profile for Colombia.
- Policy brief with the generated public policy recommendations, which will be distributed among decision makers on the issue of asbestos.
- Publication of one (1) journal article indexed Q1 Scopus Category A.
- Presentation of the research results in a National Congress and an International Congress.
- Presentation of the final results of the project at the Inter-institutional Research Seminar organized within the framework of this call.
Short titlePerfin de asbesto en Colombia
Effective start/end date2/1/207/31/22

UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This project contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being

Main Funding Source

  • URosario-UAndes-Javeriana


  • Bogotá D.C.


Explore the research topics touched on by this project. These labels are generated based on the underlying awards/grants. Together they form a unique fingerprint.