Finnish Institute of Occupational Health (FIOH): Prevention and detection of asbestos-related diseases, 1987-2005

American Journal of Industrial Medicine. Volume 49, Issue 3 , Pages 215 – 220. Published Online: 8 Feb 2006 [Link]

Matti S. Huuskonen, MD 1 2 *, Jorma Rantanen, MD 1 3

1Finnish Institute of Occupational Health (FIOH), Helsinki, Finland
2Department of Public Health, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland
3International Commission on Occupational Health (ICOH), Helsinki, Finland

email: Matti S. Huuskonen (

*Correspondence to Matti S. Huuskonen, Finnish Institute of Occupational Health (FIOH), Topeliuksenkatu 41 aA, 00250 Helsinki, Finland


Background: Between 1987 and 1992, the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health (FIOH) initiated and implemented the Asbestos Program that aimed at reducing asbestos-related risks. It was a cooperative effort between government authorities, labor market organizations, and health care and labor protection personnel.

Methods: During the Program and its follow-up since 1993 several preventive actions were taken, and considerable new legislation and official instructions were issued.

Results: Approximately 200,000 people in Finland have been exposed to asbestos in their work. Through the cooperative efforts of government, labor, health care and worker protection programs, the import of asbestos was ceased in 1993 with a few exceptions. Almost all imports ceased in 2005 following European Union directives. Regulation of asbestos abatement companies has been greatly increased. The occupational exposure limit has been reduced from 2.0 fibers/cm3 to the present 0.1 fibers/cm3. Asbestos-related diseases are closely monitored and education of health care providers regarding the occupational source of these conditions is now emphasized.

Conclusions: The success of the primary goal of the Program, a reduction in asbestos-related morbidity, will not be fully realized for many decades.

Keywords: asbestos exposure, asbestos-related diseases, international collaboration, Finland