The decree of 14 October 2023 “creates for the general social security scheme a table of occupational diseases relating to cancers of the larynx and ovary caused by the inhalation of asbestos dust”. This recognition will enable the workers concerned “to benefit from improved compensation and support”.
This recognition is the result of work by the specialised commission on occupational pathologies of the Conseil d’orientation des conditions de travail (COCT), based on scientific expertise produced by the Agence nationale de sécurité sanitaire de l’alimentation, de l’environnement et du travail (Anses) a year ago. This revealed that cancers of the larynx and ovary are “under-reported and under-recognised” when they are linked to occupational exposure to asbestos. The International Agency for Research on Cancer, linked to the UN, has for several years recognised the link between such exposure and laryngeal and ovarian cancers, as have certain EU countries.
Asbestos remains the second most common cause of occupational disease and the leading cause of work-related cancers. According to the health authorities, inhalation of asbestos, which was banned in 1997, could cause between 68,000 and 100,000 deaths in France between 2009 and 2050 from respiratory cancers. Although all forms of asbestos have been banned in the European Union since 2005, asbestos fibres are still present in millions of buildings and infrastructures, and are responsible for the deaths of 70,000 people a year in Europe. In all, 78% of occupational cancers recognised in EU Member States are linked to exposure to asbestos.