International Ban Asbestos Secretariat

International Ban Asbestos Secretariat



News text:

Dec 13, 2018

Canadian prohibitions on the mining, manufacture, import, export, sale and use of asbestos and asbestos-containing products come into force on December 30, 2018. The distribution of asbestos products after this time such as those in inventories or stock will be prohibited and suppliers have been warned that compliance with the regulations is mandatory: “It is expected that automotive stakeholders would comply with the regulations by switching from imports of friction materials containing asbestos to asbestos-free friction materials, such as ceramic brakes pads or materials with synthetic fibers.” See: Canada's ban on asbestos products takes effect December 30.

Dec 13, 2018

On December 11, the French Supreme Court upheld the cancellation of indictments for asbestos “homicides and involuntary injuries,” against 8 officials charged for their parts in asbestos scandals at Jussieu University, Paris and the Normed shipyards, Dunkirk. Appeals against the dismissal of the indictments had been made by the Anti-asbestos Committee of Jussieu University and the Association of Asbestos Victims of Nord-Pas-de-Calais. The Court dismissed the appeals bringing to an end 20+ years of litigation to hold those in power responsible. See: Amiante: la Cour de cassation annule les mises en examen pour homicides et blessures involontaires [Asbestos: Court of Cassation overturns indictments for homicides and involuntary injuries].

Dec 13, 2018

In the Russian occupied Ukrainian city of Kerch in the east of Crimea, workers have protested over a week of toxic exposures experienced during the replacement of a boiler containing asbestos under hazardous conditions. Their complaints to the company went unanswered. After contacts were made with the authorities and trade union, nine respirators were provided for 27 at-risk workers. According to those affected: no measurements of airborne asbestos levels have been taken. See: РАБОТНИКИ ЦЕНТРАЛЬНОЙ КЕРЧЕНСКОЙ КОТЕЛЬНОЙ ДЫШАТ АСБЕСТОВОЙ ПЫЛЬЮ (ФОТО И ВИДЕО) [Workers of the central Kersch boiler room breathe asbestos dust (photo and video)].

Dec 13, 2018

Information received pursuant to Freedom of Information requests made to all 243 NHS trusts in Britain by the BBC confirmed that “about” 9 out of 10 NHS trusts have hospitals containing asbestos.” The BBC identified 352 legal claims against health trusts made between January 2013 and December 2017 by people who had developed asbestos-related diseases from exposures in NHS buildings. The trusts say those claims resulted in payouts of ~£6.8m; three law firms told the BBC they had secured compensation of more than £16.4m in the same period for asbestos exposures in healthcare settings. MP Jo Stevens, chair of the Parliamentary Asbestos Sub-Group, is urging action to prevent more toxic exposures in hospitals. See: Nine out of 10 NHS trusts have asbestos in hospitals.

Dec 6, 2018

On December 5, 2018 Health Canada, the government agency responsible “for helping Canadians maintain and improve their health,” issued a national warning regarding the dangers of using products containing talc, and announced plans to: “prohibit or restrict the use of talc in a limited number of product types, such as certain cosmetics, natural health products and non-prescription drugs.” Draft proposals – Risk management scope for talc – will be published and a public consultation ending on February 6, 2019 will take place. In the US, multiple court cases have established the link between the use of asbestos-contaminated talc and the occurrence of ovarian cancer. See: Ottawa évalue les risques des produits contenant du talc [Ottawa assesses risks of products containing talc].

Dec 6, 2018

On December 5, 2018, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) issued a media release updating the extent of asbestos-containing products present on Sea King helicopters and now admits that they are still contaminated: “the risk remained that asbestos-containing components could still be fitted to Sea King aircraft. Action has been taken to remove these components from the supply chain.” Veterans, former and current civilian employees and serving members of the armed forces are advised of what action they can take if they have concerns about asbestos exposures on these aircraft. See: Sea king helicopters, asbestos.

Dec 6, 2018

On December 4, 2018, it was reported that a Santiago court ordered Pizarreño Industries to pay compensation to the surviving family of Mrs. Julieta Bernal Trigo, a woman who contracted and died (in 2016) from the asbestos cancer, mesothelioma, having lived near the company’s asbestos cement plant in Maipú City, and washed her father’s contaminated work clothes; her father had worked for the company. See: Condenan a Pizarreño en insólito caso de mujer que murió de cáncer por asbestos [Pizarreño condemned in unusual case of woman who died of cancer due to asbestos].

Dec 6, 2018

A paper uploaded on December 4, 2018 to the website of the International Journal of Radiation Biology examined the incidence of mesothelioma amongst former military personnel who were present during above-ground nuclear weapons testing held between 1945 and 1962. The researchers reported that: “Although jobs with high potential for exposure to asbestos products were held by only 20% of the enlisted naval population, sailors with these jobs (machinist's mate, pipe fitter, boiler technician, water tender and fireman) experienced 55% of mesothelioma deaths.” See: Asbestos Exposure and Mesothelioma Mortality among Atomic Veterans.

Dec 5, 2018

The “Ana Cecilia Niño law,” which will ban asbestos nationwide, has been approved by the Colombian Senate; companies will have five years to make the transition to asbestos-free technologies. According to Senator Nadia Blel, the sponsor of this legislation: “Over the past five years, 1,744 people died of lung cancer as a result of their exposure to asbestos and more than 250 died of mesothelioma thanks to that silent enemy that is still being marketed in our country.” The bill now goes to the House of Representatives. See: Senado aprobó ley que elimina el uso de asbesto en Colombia [Senate passes law that eliminates the use of asbestos in Colombia].

Dec 5, 2018

A check for $80,000 was presented to mesothelioma researchers from the National Centre for Asbestos Related Diseases at the December 2, 2018 Christmas barbecue held by the Asbestos Diseases Society of Australia (ADSA) at Whiteman’s Park in Perth, Western Australia. The money was raised by donations to the ADSA 2018 walk for medical research and asbestos awareness which took place in September and saw participants cover the 300 kilometers between Hyden and Perth. The funds will support the research of Dr ‘Melvin’ Wee Loong Chin, the recipient of the ADSA PhD Scholarship in Mesothelioma Research. See: Group Photo.

Dec 5, 2018

Work to remediate the water delivery system of the Italian municipality of Terranuova has been completed after two years and €200,000 expenditure. All the asbestos-cement (ac) pipes formerly used to deliver water have been replaced by cast iron alternatives. According to Mayor Sergio Chienni, the ac pipes had constituted only 1.5% of the total network and with the completion of replacement work in the commune of Ciuffenna, the water system in Terranuova is now asbestos free. See: Rinnovata la rete idrica: via le tubazioni in cemento amianto. Sostituite con quelle in ghisa [Water network renewed: asbestos cement pipes replaced with cast iron ones].

Dec 5, 2018

Three cases of South African women aged between 58 and 70 with malignant mesothelioma were analysed in this new paper which highlighted the ongoing hazard posed by secondary, domestic and environmental exposures to asbestos, a substance banned in 2008 in South Africa. The authors predicted that: “a significant number of cases of non-occupational mesothelioma will be seen in many countries for several decades given the extent of asbestos containing materials.” See: The significance of non-occupational asbestos exposure in women with mesothelioma.

Dec 4, 2018

This article about the rising level of Russian non-commodity exports, states that “Asbestos products… [are] the leaders of growth.” According to government data, from January to November, 2018, Russia exported 400,000 tonnes of raw asbestos fiber to more than 20 countries including: India, China, Indonesia, Uzbekistan and Thailand. Diversification of the industrial asbestos sector has improved economic prospects with the production of asbestos-containing building materials such as asbestos roofing and asbestos-cement pipes proving lucrative. See: Несырьевой экспорт продолжает рост [Non-commodity exports continue to grow].

Dec 4, 2018

A series of meetings, formal events and discussions in Laos during the week beginning November 26, 2018 progressed actions by government and civil society stakeholders to protect citizens from asbestos cancer following the signing on November 23, 2018 of an order by the Minister of Health to ban the import and use of chrysotile asbestos in Laos by 2020. Recent consumption of chrysotile asbestos in Laos has been very high at 1.2 kg/person, most of which went into the production of roofing materials. See: Strong support as Lao Government demonstrates action on preventing future cancers in Laos with launch of National Action Plan to Eliminate Asbestos-Related Diseases including a planned ban on chrysotile asbestos 2020.

Dec 4, 2018

An Australian Ministerial Media Release on November 30, 2018 announced new government measures to ensure public access to information about the asbestos hazard and prevent the import of banned asbestos-containing products into Australia. Assistant Minister for Home Affairs, Senator Linda Reynolds said: “The Government intends to bring forward amendments to strengthen offences and penalties for the illegal importation of products containing asbestos.” In addition, Australia will continue to play a leading role in regional moves to ban the mining, production and use of asbestos. See: Coalition continues to take action to mark National Asbestos Awareness Week.

Dec 4, 2018

A study entitled Medical Asbestos Cohort by personnel from the Army Training Hospital will begin in 2019 to assess occupational asbestos exposures experienced by hundreds of serving or retired French naval personnel. Speaking at a conference on November 29, 2018, the program’s supervisors Drs. Pégorié and Rivière said: “We want to propose a job-exposure matrix. Depending on the time of boarding, the type of ship and the job, we will be able to evaluate the degree of exposure to asbestos risk and then adapt the medical follow-up.” See: Amiante. L’exposition des marins à l’étude [Asbestos. An investigation into the exposure of sailors].

Dec 13, 2018

2018 has been an extraordinary year for the global ban asbestos campaign, with long-awaited prohibitions coming into force and others moving ahead swiftly. The progress achieved this year has almost surpassed expectations with many landmark developments and solid progress made in identifying asbestos victims, mobilizing at-risk workers, building medical capacity, supporting communities devastated by environmental contamination, facilitating access to medical treatment and compensation, engaging with medical researchers progressing new treatments for mesothelioma, collaborating on initiatives to raise asbestos awareness and exposing the dirty tricks used to forestall efforts to protect public and occupational health endangered by asbestos exposures. [Read full article]

Nov 22, 2018

The text of this paper formed the basis for a presentation made on November 15, 2018 at the First International Asbestos Conference [in Portugal] held in Lisbon. Having detailed annual asbestos trade data and exhibited a graphic showing national levels of global consumption and national asbestos bans, the speaker contrasted the legacies of asbestos use in the UK and India before highlighting the progress being made in Asian countries working to end asbestos use. A report disclosed by the speaker which had been issued by a Portuguese asbestos-cement lobbying association for a meeting of the Asbestos International Association in London 2001 was of obvious interest to Portuguese delegates. [Read full article]

Nov 1, 2018

On October 29, 2018, a bill prohibiting the sale or distribution of asbestos-containing products was unanimously adopted by the New Jersey Assembly. Sponsors of the bill condemned the federal rollback on asbestos protections and declared their determination to protect people in New Jersey from lethal exposures with the bill’s sponsor Assemblywoman Lisa Swain saying: “There is absolutely no reason why any New Jerseyans should be at risk of asbestos exposure… While the current Administration in Washington may be okay with rolling back environmental health standards that protect so many Americans, here in New Jersey we are not, and this bill ensures we will stay proactive in protecting our residents.” [Read full article]

Oct 31, 2018

On October 28, 2018, personnel from leading environmental NGOs joined with municipal and government representatives in Nepal to assess the current situation regarding the effectiveness of legislation banning the import and use of asbestos-containing goods. Although government data shows a dramatic reduction of asbestos imports, more needs to be done to protect people in Nepal from hazardous exposures both to new products but also to asbestos products incorporated within the national infrastructure. Of particular interest was the input from customs officers who are on the front line in preventing the import of more asbestos goods and from civil servants tasked with developing new protocols for the identification of toxic goods. [Read full article]

Oct 19, 2018

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]

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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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