Public Participation in Developing a Common Framework for the Assessment and Management of Sustainable Innovation

A life threat on the rooftops of Poland

30.11.2015 | Jakub Betkowski

A life threat on the rooftops of Poland


Many years after Asbestos was found dangerous to health it still nests on the rooftops of Polish houses. The WASTE-KLASTER of Poznan Science and Technology Park tries to provide expertise and services in the field of identifying Asbestos and its disposal.  


Asbestos is a trade mark for nonorganic fiber material that naturally appear in environment. Due to his unique physical and chemical characteristics it was already used in ancient times. The name of the mineral comes from ancient Greek and means non-extinguish non-slake.

Asbestos has unique chemical and physical characteristics, from which the most important are: incombustibility, high thermal resistance, high mechanical endurance, ability to easy combine with other materials, chemical resistance, high electric resistance, thermal insulation feature, good absorption feature and ability for spin it into fabric. Due to those features, Asbestos has (had) more than 3000 applications in four branches:

  1. Building industry uses most of Asbestos resources – 80% consumption of raw material
  2. Transport
  3. Power industry – in power plants and thermal-electric power stations

In the 70’, a number of studies reported about the negative impact of Asbestos on human health. Through breathing and inhaling, the fibers which have a pathogenic factor affect the lungs.

            Exposition to Asbestos fibers can lead to serious health issues. The resulting diseases are characterized, firstly, by a long period of time without any symptoms. Only after a dozens of years, symptoms like problems with breathing, nuisances, dyspnea,   reveal themselves. The long-term outcomes of exposure to Asbestos can be lung cancer.


Due to the hazardous impact of Asbestos on human health, various countries in the world, including Poland sanction and regulate the use of asbestos. In Poland it is prohibited to trade, use and produce all types of Asbestos. Moreover, strict regulation with regard to the use, disposal and transport of Asbestos secures human health and the environment in Poland.  

To take stock of the amount of Asbestos in Poland, the rooftops composed out of Eternit are counted. In 2014 it was estimated that there are 1,5 million rooftops made from this material in Poland. However, we must realize that not only cement-asbestos slab contain Asbestos. There are more products of that type that are still in use. Often those products are only located during the stage of demolition of old houses and infrastructure. That means that the unidentified amount of Asbestos’ products is very high. The same can be assumed in terms of the amount of unaware users.


Along with a degrading condition of buildings built in the ’60 and ’70, the number of cases when asbestos is found is strongly increasing. During the pull downs and renovations of such buildings the dangerous asbestos’ dust can find its way into atmosphere. This dust poses a severe treat to the building company workers and people living in the neighborhood.  The risk of air pollution can be mitigated by identifying suspected materials (test of fiber presence) before the stage of demolition in order to take necessary precaution measures. When there is certainty about the presence of asbestos in a construction element it is necessary to monitor the air condition during pull down. Moreover, it recommended to monitor soil, water and wastewater in the surrounding area during pull down.

The WASTE-KLASTER laboratory of Poznan Science and Technology Park offers complex service of analyzing Asbestos using patented method.


Relevant themes: Raw materials, Environment
Relevant tags: Sustainable materials management, Circular economy


  • Jakub Betkowski - Fundacja Uniwersytetu im Adama Mickiewicza w Poznaniu (Poznan Science and Technology Park of Adam Mickiewicz University Foundation), (PSTP)

    Jakub Betkowski