May 20, 2021
By Raissa Havens, Regulatory Specialist
Colombia joined the growing list of countries that have adopted a complete ban on asbestos through Law 1968 on July 11, 2019. The ban took effect on Jan. 1, 2021, for the production, import, export, distribution, market and mining of any asbestos and asbestos-containing products. The national government has five years to implement a public policy to replace asbestos already installed.
The law also created the National Commission for the Substitution of Asbestos, which is made up of members from different ministries, such as, Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development, Ministry of Health and Social Protection, Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Tourism, Ministry of Mines and Energy, Ministry of Labor, as well as a Citizen Overseer and a member representing the academy sector.
The National Commission’s responsibilities are to supervise the effective replacement of asbestos in all its forms and launch the National Program for the Elimination of Asbestos-Related Diseases (NPEAD), which is one of the programs published by the World Health Organization and the International Labor Organization
Colombia’s ban also includes the mining of asbestos in all its forms. Entities that hold an active contract or valid license for extracting and using asbestos must begin phasing out activities.
Further to the nationwide ban on asbestos mining initiatives, on April 16, 2021, Colombia’s president, Iván Duque Márquez, signed Decree 402 of 2021, establishing provisions related to the prohibition of import and export of asbestos. Any products and derivatives that are manufactured with it are prohibited and their tariff code is provided under Article 1.
The Decree applies to all persons, both natural and legal, who carry out import or export activities of any variety of asbestos and any products that contain it.
Any asbestos or asbestos-containing materials imported and/or installed before Jan. 1, 2021, must meet the demands of the asbestos substitution public policy, specified in Law 1968 of 2019. Asbestos materials, including any imports made before the entry into force of Decree 402 of 2021, effective on April 17, 2021, can no longer be used or installed.
As of Jan. 1, 2021, penalties will be imposed on those who do not comply with this regulation, including fines and potential criminal and disciplinary actions.
Recommended action items
Note the deadline for the ban on the production, use, import, export or trade activity of asbestos was Jan. 1, 2021.
Develop and implement company policy measures for the substitution of asbestos and asbestos-containing products where the use/activity currently occurs.