Helsinki (15.02.2001 - Juhani Artto) Every year some one to two hundred people in Finland die of asbestosis-related illnesses. This means that asbestosis has caused the all-time worst working environment catastrophe, characterised by immense human suffering and major expenses for society, comments SAK lawyer Arjo Suonperä. Asbestosis kills annually roughly the same number of people each year in Finland as drug abuse.

According to Suonperä, medical science recognised the dangers of asbestosis as long ago as the first half of the 20th century. There was plenty of scientific information on the matter in the early 1950s and the subject was taught to medical students at that time in the same manner as at present.

Now three universities have reacted to the SAK initiative, made a year ago, to establish a research project to study why the asbestosis catastrophe was ever allowed to happen. The expert group will also study the general attitude of the Finnish judiciary towards this illness.

The study will be conducted under strictly academic conditions and criteria. The project financing has yet to be settled.