French labs called dangerous

Researchers angered by asbestos exposure and other safety lapses

Jane Burgermeister(janeburgermeister@yahoo.co.uk)
Feb 21, 2005

The health of scientists across France is being put at risk by exposure to asbestos and other biohazards, senior researchers and union representatives said this week. The issue of workplace safety looks likely to add fuel to the ongoing disputes between scientists and the government.

The matter came to a head last week, when Jean Kister, joint secretary general of the National Union of Scientific Research Workers, accused the management of the French Institute of Health and Medical Research (INSERM) of needlessly exposing researchers in a Paris research center to dangerously high levels of asbestos.

"The management plans to cynically raise the threshold at which staff are evacuated from laboratories when asbestos leaks into the air rather than investing enough money in removing the asbestos in a way that is safe," Kister told The Scientist.

Employees at the INSERM laboratory of Necker University Hospital Center (CHU Necker) have been...

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