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International Ban Asbestos Secretariat

International Ban Asbestos Secretariat

lkaz@btconnect.com

 

News text:

Oct 22, 2018

News was released last week that the US Securities and Exchange Commission had on September 13, 2018 launched an investigation into the accounting procedures of the US multinational Honeywell International Inc. after the company admitted that its asbestos-related liabilities had been underestimated by US$1.1bn. The revised figure for Honeywell’s asbestos liabilities is $2.61bn after amending the cost for asbestos claims against its subsidiary Bendix Corporation, a manufacturer of automotive brake shoes and systems. See: SEC Opens Investigation Into Honeywell’s Asbestos Accounting.

Oct 22, 2018

On October 18, 2018, the French Court of Appeal condemned local health authorities for the “deliberate endangerment of life” of 40 hospital employees exposed to asbestos between 2009 and 2013 at the Jean-Minjoz Hospital in Besançon, eastern France. This is the first time a French public institution has been sentenced as a legal person. While the defendants have announced their intention to appeal to the Supreme Court, the 40 claimants have started proceedings before the Besançon Administrative Court to have their damages recognized. See: Amiante: le CHU de Besançon condamné en appel [Asbestos: CHU Besançon condemned on appeal].

Oct 22 2018

A paper by Turkish researchers investigated methods for differentiating malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM) from lung cancer (LC) and non-malignant pleural effusion (NMPE) from pleural fluids. The technique – Fourier transform-infrared spectroscopy coupled with chemometrics – succeeded in differentiating MPM from LC with 100% sensitivity and 100% specificity and from NMPE with 100% sensitivity and 88% specificity. The scientists concluded that: “This approach can provide a rapid and inexpensive methodology for the efficient differentiation of MPM from other pleural effusions.” See: Diagnosis of malignant pleural mesothelioma from pleural fluid by Fourier transform-infrared spectroscopy coupled with chemometrics.

Oct 22, 2018

This paper examines the twists and turns on the road to banning asbestos in Thailand, highlighting the apparent inability of the National Health Assembly “to enforce implementation, especially when power and authority lie with state actors…” The authors conclude that to protect the health of citizens “participatory policy-making and effective governance of multisectoral action throughout implementation” is required to confront counterpressure from domestic and foreign vested interests such as that exerted by international asbestos lobbyists. See: Multisectoral governance for health: challenges in implementing a total ban on chrysotile asbestos in Thailand.

Oct 19, 2018

In what could be seen as a classic example of political tit-for-tat, in the same week as Canadian federal regulations banning asbestos were announced, the Ottawa government will make public at a press conference in Danville, Quebec plans to provide funding for operations by Allied Magnesium Inc. to process mining waste containing up to 40% asbestos to reclaim magnesium. The company has already received $30.9 million from the Quebec government for its $100 million project despite well-publicized objections to this scheme from Quebec medical and health specialists. See: Federal government rejects health experts and funds project to exploit asbestos mining wastes.

Oct 19, 2018

A paper published this summer documented a case-control study undertaken in Mexico to evaluate the usefulness of mesothelioma tumor markers found in plasma samples in diagnosing malignant pleural mesothelioma. Good results were achieved with mesothelin and calretinin, with scientists developing prediction models based on plasma concentrations of both markers. It was concluded that these markers could be cost-effective tools for expediting the diagnosis of mesothelioma. Poor results were achieved with thrombomodulin. See: Biomarkers for Predicting Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma in a Mexican Population.

Oct 18, 2018

News was released yesterday (October 17, 2018) confirming that the Government of Canada had on September 28, 2018 adopted legislation that would ban asbestos in 90 days – i.e. by the end of 2018 (see: Prohibition of Asbestos and Products Containing Asbestos Regulations). Unfortunately, the Canadian ban on the import, sale and use of asbestos will not prevent companies in Quebec from processing asbestos mining waste, containing up to 40% asbestos, to reclaim magnesium. See: Canada ban on asbestos takes effect but mining residues are exempt.

Oct 18, 2018

On October 16, 2018, there was a ban asbestos demonstration by members of the Indonesia Ban Asbestos Network (INA-BAN) in Bandung City, West Java, Indonesia with a rally in front of the Bandung Parliament to support draft legislation being considered this week by special committee 6 which would include asbestos as a dangerous raw material in Bandung building regulations. Six of Indonesia’s largest asbestos processing plants employing 4,000 people are located in West Java. See: Ina-Ban Tuntut Larangan Penggunaan Asbestos Masuk Dalam Perda Bangunan Gedung [INA-BAN Calls for Prohibition of the Use of Asbestos in the Building Regulations].

Oct 18, 2018

Within the context of a commentary highlighting multiple legal victories for construction workers in asbestos claims against the Japanese government and manufacturers of asbestos-containing building products, calls are made for construction workers to be provided relief within an existing national scheme that awards compensation to other sufferers of asbestos-related injuries. “It is time,” the author writes “for the government to work with other parties in the lawsuits to explore out-of-court ways of providing relief to the plaintiffs.” See: Provide relief for asbestos-linked health damage.

Oct 16, 2018

On Saturday, October 13, 2018, an asbestos medical seminar entitled Update Diagnosis of Asbestos Related Disease was held at Binawan University in Jakarta by the Indonesia Ban Asbestos Network (INA-BAN), the Local Initiative for OSH Network Indonesia (LION) and partnering organizations. During her presentation, Professor Jeung Sook Kim, from Korea, highlighted the importance of cooperation between NGOs and scientists in the ban asbestos movement. See: Picture of Session on October 13, 2018 at Binawan University.

Oct 16, 2018

On October 12, 2018, 1,000 people from all over France gathered together to march through the streets of Paris demanding that action be taken on the asbestos hazard in French schools. This was the 14th annual protest organized by the National Association for the Defense of Asbestos Victims (Andeva) to highlight the national asbestos epidemic which continues to kill thousands of citizens every year. See: Amiante dans les écoles: “protégez nos enfants” demandent des manifestants [Asbestos in schools: “protect our children” demand protesters].

Oct 16, 2018

The Supreme Court of Catalonia has overturned a 2014 High Court decision to issue a landmark ruling allowing the heirs of a deceased widow to obtain damages from the Uralita company not claimed by her husband who died of mesothelioma in 1974 as a result of occupational asbestos exposures. Legal experts believe this judgment could open the way for many more claims. See: El Suprem admet que els hereus d’una vídua d’un afectat per l’amiant puguin percebre els danys i perjudicis que el finat no va reclamar [Supreme Court allows heirs of an asbestos widow to receive damages not claimed by the deceased’s husband].

Oct 16, 2018

Under a program to produce more asbestos removal operatives in Turkey, 474 successful trainees have received certification as specialists in this field of work. Upon completion of the latest course, organized by the General Directorate of Occupational Health and Safety of the Ministry of Family, Labor and Social Services, Dr. Orhan Koç – General Director of Occupational Health and Safety Operations – highlighted the need for the safe removal of asbestos before buildings are demolished. Asbestos removal training will continue in 2019. See: Asbest Söküm Uzmanlığı Eğitimi Yeni Mezunlarını Verdi [Asbestos Removal Expertise Training Provides New Graduates].

Oct 15, 2018

A Moscow online portal has uploaded news of a meeting that took place last month in Kazakhstan entitled: International Trade Union Conference on Chrysotile Asbestos and Safety. Representatives of the chrysotile industry from Kazakhstan, Russia, Belarus, and other stakeholder countries were regaled with industry propaganda and “commissioned science” about the “safe use” of asbestos, despite advice from international agencies that the only “safe use” of asbestos is no use at all. See: Kazakhstan Hosted International Trade Union Conference on Chrysotile Asbestos.

Oct 15, 2018

An asbestos awareness training session in Nepal was held on October 6, 2018 by the Center for Public Health and Environmental Development (CEPHED). The fact that the meeting took place in Janakpur was significant as this area is one where asbestos use is very high. More than 60 participants were addressed by Deputy Mayor Mrs. Rita Kumari Mishra, Chief Custom Officer Mr. Hem Chandra Sharma, Janakpurdham SMC Senior Official Mr. Pradeep Sah, DYN Dhanusha President Mr. Dhiraj Sah, and Mr. Ram Charitra Sah, Executive Director of CEPHED. An asbestos factsheet, posters and booklets on asbestos were distributed to participants. See: Photo of Mr. Ram Charitra Sah, Executive Director of CEPHED addressing October 6 meeting.

Oct 15, 2018

On October 10, 2018, 20 environmental campaigners displayed a banner in central Bogota saying “Congressmen: we all pay for your cowardice,” to draw attention to the Senate’s continued failure to debate ban asbestos legislation which has been pending since October 2017. Congressman Nadia Blel has said the delay was “unacceptable,” asserting that the draft law “aims to save lives.” She has called on the Senate President to make consideration of this bill a priority. See: A paso lento camina en el Congreso la prohibición del asbesto en Colombia [At a slow pace the Colombian asbestos ban moves in Congress].

Oct 19, 2918

This Media Release by a number of labor federations and civil society associations has been uploaded to the IBAS website with the permission of its authors.
 
(Other responses to the sea change in Canadian federal policy on asbestos include a statement by President of the Canadian Labour Congress Hassan Yussuff [see: Canada’s unions applaud asbestos ban regulations]: “This is a critical step on the long road to banning asbestos, and will, without a doubt save lives for generations to come.”)
 
 
[Read full article]

Oct 17, 2018

Recent efforts by grassroots groups and medical associations to address Indonesia’s asbestos challenges are discussed in this article with a focus on a medical seminar held in Jakarta on October 13, 2018 to raise awareness of asbestos-related diseases. During that session, medical experts from Indonesia and Korea reviewed the categories and causes of asbestos-related diseases and discussed state-of-the-art protocols for making diagnoses of these diseases. Concluding the seminar, Professor Jeung Sook Kim, a Korea specialist, highlighted the importance of cooperation between NGOs and scientists in the campaign to ban asbestos. [Read full article]

Oct 15, 2018

Former asbestos worker and founding member of the Brazilian Association of the Asbestos-Exposed (ABREA) João Batista Momi died in Sao Paulo on October 14, 2018 from asbestosis, a disease he contracted from toxic exposures at the Eternit factory in Osasco. Mr. Momi’s pioneering lawsuit against Eternit took 12 years at the civil court – at that time the only court which could hear claims for injuries caused by toxic occupational exposures. In 1998 he was awarded more than 150,000 reais (equivalent in 1998 to US$150,000) for his injuries; the company appealed. After a 2004 constitutional amendment allowed Labour Courts to hear these cases, Mr. Momi received his compensation. [Read full article]

Oct 2, 2018

From the northeast of Brazil to the streets of West Java via a community center in the Northern Cape Provence of South Africa, Autumn 2018 has seen a burgeoning of activities to mobilize support for the asbestos-injured and demand the implementation of environmental remediation programs and national asbestos prohibitions. Members of asbestos victims’ groups, ban asbestos activists, health and safety campaigners, trade unionists, legal practitioners and medical professionals raised the asbestos profile at international conferences, strategy sessions, local meetings and outreach projects in Latin America, North America, Europe and Asia. It is no longer a question of “if” but of “when” asbestos will finally be consigned to the history books. [Read full article]

Sep 20, 2018

Just weeks after the South Asia Asbestos Strategy Meeting took place in Sri Lanka, 100+ delegates from Vietnam and ten other countries – eight of which are members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations – met at the second annual conference of the Southeast Asia Ban Asbestos Network in Hanoi, Vietnam to progress plans for achieving regional asbestos prohibitions. The conference, broadcast live on GTV multimedia channels, took place on September 13 and 14, 2018 and raised the profile of the struggle to ban asbestos in Vietnam via widespread TV coverage, newspaper articles and social media posts. Speakers lambasted the government’s continued failure to ban asbestos, blaming pressure from local and foreign vested interests. [Read full article]

Sep 19, 2018

Media reports of a warning by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) that large numbers of military engineers and former military engineers could have been exposed to asbestos whilst servicing Sea King helicopters highlight not only the historic exposure to asbestos our military personnel have faced, but also the ongoing risks that exist from asbestos that remains in situ. The alert also points once again to an arguable failure of government to fully and appropriately address all of the issues asbestos continues to pose including the access to compensation by injured service personnel. [Read full article]

Sep 13, 2018

On August 18, 2018, West Australian (WA) asbestos campaigners gathered at Perth’s Solidarity Park, across the street from the WA Parliament, to remember the thousands of people whose lives had been lost due to occupational and environmental exposures received at the infamous Wittenoom asbestos mine. Nearly a month later, members of the Asbestos Diseases Society of Australia – co-organizers of the August event – will revisit the memorial plaque unveiled during this earlier gathering when they reach the end of the Society’s annual walk to raise asbestos research funds and heighten public awareness about the asbestos hazard. [Read full article]

Aug 6, 2018

A report entitled Chlorine and Building Materials - A Global Inventory of Production Technologies, Markets, and Pollution released at the end of July 2018 provided a wealth of information on the actions of chlorine producers in Africa, the Americas and Europe. Acting individually and/or in concert with other vested interests, companies such as Dow Chemical and Olin Corporation and trade associations including Euro Chlor and the American Chemistry Council lobbied state agencies, national governments and regional bodies on three continents over decades to maintain a status quo which procured them large financial rewards despite huge societal costs and deadly consequences for human health and the environment. [Read full article]

Jul 18, 2018

Once upon a time, photograph albums held the memories of generations of families; important days and events were marked by black and white and then colour photographs which were taken, processed and mounted for safe-keeping. Those days are long gone with most images now stored somewhere in the cloud or on phones or hard drives. Some may call us old school, but we could think of no better way of reflecting the optimism, support and engagement of groups all over the UK who joined as one on July 6, 2018 to observe the Annual Mesothelioma Action Day than uploading a selection of photographs in which fellowship and commonality of purpose shine through. [Read full article]

Jul 13, 2018

Children and staff from 11 local schools took part in an asbestos awareness workshop organised by the Asbestos Interest Group (A.I.G), a campaigning body in a former asbestos mining area on South Africa’s annual Youth Day (June 16). Feedback from participants has been positive with children having enjoyed meeting up with pupils from other schools to learn about the impact of asbestos contamination of their towns. A report written by A.I.G’s Prudence Kotoloane is informative as well as inspiring – workshop facilitators organized outdoor games to keep the children “awake and energetic.” The International Ban Asbestos Secretariat is proud to be a co-sponsor of this and other events organized by the A.I.G. [Read full article]

Jul 12, 2018

Participants from Sri Lanka, India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan, China, Hong Kong, Vietnam, Philippines, the US and Japan attended the two-day 2018 South Asia Asbestos Strategy Meeting which took place in Negombo, on the west coast of Sri Lanka, on July 10 and 11, 2018. On the agenda were updates about current national situations highlighting successful strategies and ongoing challenges. Of great interest to international delegates were presentations by Sri Lanka colleagues who provided a wealth of information on current developments and announced that plans for national prohibitions of asbestos had not been abandoned. [Read full article]

Jul 2, 2018

The annual Parliamentary Asbestos Seminar took place on June 26, 2018 in Committee Room 14 of the House of Commons. As always this event, held under the auspices of the Asbestos Sub-Committee of the All-party Group on Occupational Health and Safety, offered the opportunity for Members of Parliament to hear about a diverse range of global asbestos developments from people working on the asbestos frontline. During the two-hour session, first-hand testimony was provided regarding challenges faced by UK asbestos cancer sufferers, progress being made by British mesothelioma researchers, asbestos legacy issues at brownfield sites, the campaign by the Asbestos in Schools Group and the tragic consequences of asbestos consumption in India. [Read full article]

Jun 22, 2018

An authoritative audit of UK mesothelioma cancer care of 7,000+ individuals between 2014 and 2016 contains both good and bad news. During the period in question, more mesothelioma patients in England and Wales received active treatment – i.e. anti-cancer treatment with chemotherapy, radiotherapy, surgery or a combination of the three – than previously. Unfortunately, only 7% of patients survived for three years post-diagnosis. Recommendations made by the authors included suggestions to: improve the quality of data collection, conduct surgical survival audits, provide better information to guide patients’ treatment decisions and ensure patient referrals to clinical trials outside their areas. [Read full article]

Jun 18, 2018

On June 11, 2018, the District Administrative Court of Kiev published its decision in the case brought by Ukraine’s Ministry of Health (MoH) over the quashing by the Ministry of Justice and the State Regulatory Service (SRS) of 2017 MoH regulations ending the use of asbestos in Ukraine. The ruling of the three-judge panel upheld the human rights of Ukrainians to live a life free from asbestos exposure. A Ukrainian campaigner called this decision “an indisputable victory” by the Ministry of Health of Ukraine and its supporters and pledged to continue the struggle “to achieve a total asbestos ban in Ukraine such as that which exists in other European countries.” [Read full article]

Jun 12, 2018

The text of this article appeared as Chapter 10 in the book: Beyond Testimony and Trauma: Oral History in the Aftermath of Mass Violence published by University of British Columbia Press in 2015; the author of this chapter Professor Arthur McIvor and the editor of the book Steven High have given their permission for this seminal text to be uploaded to this website. In his concluding thoughts the author says: “In common with other trauma victims and survivors of mass violence, those with disabling and terminal ARDs feel the need to have those responsible admit their blame and recognize their role in economic violence. This is crucial for reconciliation, social healing, and making sense of their working lives.” [Read full article]

May 21, 2018

This press release has been issued today by the Asbestos Victims Support Groups Forum (UK) and the International Ban Asbestos Secretariat; it expresses serious concerns over the discovery of tremolite asbestos in products being sold in the UK. The analysis of items purchased in April 2018 in a London suburb was undertaken by Sean Fitzgerald, a US expert who had previously found asbestos contamination in 24 talc-based make-up items sold by the US chain of Claire’s Accessories. Fitzgerald reported the presence of tremolite, an amphibole type of asbestos fiber, in various eyeshadow and blusher products purchased at this shop. [Read full article]

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Demonstration in Woluwe Park, Brussels, 2006

Under cloudy skies, members of Belgian and French Asbestos Victims' Associations from Dunkirk and Bourgogne marched side-by-side in the third annual demonstration organized by ABEVA, the Belgian Association of Asbestos Victims. Erik Jonckheere, ABEVA's Co-chairman, condemned the government which still refuses to recognize the plight of the asbestos injured.

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Asbestos Trade Data (2015)

Fiber Producers
(tonnes):
   Russia650,000
   Brazil270,000
   China210,000
   Kazakhstan180,000
    
 Top Five Users
(tonnes):
   India370,000
   China287,000
   Brazil163,000
   Russia124,000
   Indonesia120,000