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International Ban Asbestos Secretariat

International Ban Asbestos Secretariat

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Sep 21, 2018

On September 20, 2018, Presiding Judge Eguchi Toshiko of the Osaka High Court issued judgment in an appeal brought regarding a decision by the Osaka District Court which had held the Japanese government liable for asbestos injuries sustained by 33 construction workers. Toshiko found that the manufactures of asbestos-containing building products were also responsible for the damages sustained by the plaintiffs and awarded the claimants – including self-employed workers as well as employees – a total of 339 million yen (~US$3m). There are 15 similar lawsuits currently progressing through the Japanese judiciary; this is the 4th high court ruling to be issued. See: 大阪アスベスト訴訟 [Osaka Asbestos Lawsuit].

Sep 21, 2018

The East Asia Asbestos Meeting was held in Hong Kong on September 20, 2018 and included delegates from China, Korea and Japan who discussed issues related to the continuing use of asbestos in the region. This event took place within days of the Southeast Asia Ban Asbestos Conference 2018 (Vietnam, September 13 & 14, 2018) and not long after the South Asia Asbestos Strategy Meeting (Sri Lanka, July 10 & 11, 2018). Sponsors of the September 20 meeting included the Asian Ban Asbestos Network, the Asia Monitor Resource Centre and the International Ban Asbestos Secretariat. See: Group photo.

Sep 21, 2018

A Brazilian Court has awarded compensation of R$1 million (US$240,000+) for moral and material damages to a former Eternit employee who contracted asbestos cancer as a result of occupational exposure. The Court held the company liable and condemned Eternit’s failure to protect workers from the human health risks of asbestos exposures; despite knowing that the use of asbestos could cause debilitating and fatal diseases to workers, the company’s use of this substance continued. See: Empresa Eternit é condenada a pagar indenização de 1 milhão para ex-funcionário [Eternit company is ordered to pay compensation of 1 million to former employee].

Sep 21, 2018

The Amiens Court of Appeal upheld a ruling that awarded 38 former employees from a plant in Northern France compensation for anxiety caused by the knowledge that they had been exposed to asbestos. Commenting on the conditions at the Hazemayer factory, a former employee said: “We cut and processed asbestos to make the necessary parts for the manufacture of fuses and circuit breakers. Every day we were handling carcinogens.” The Appeal Court increased the amount of damages from €4,000 set by the labor court to €8,000. See: Amiante: la cour d’appel d’Amiens donne raison aux anciens salariés d'Hazemayer à Saint-Quentin [The Court of Appeal of Amiens upholds claims by former employees of Hazemayer in Saint-Quentin].

Sep 21, 2018

A court in Madrid has ruled that the Spanish asbestos multinational Uralita was negligent in allowing non-occupational asbestos exposures which resulted in 14 people in Barcelona’s Cerdanyola and Ripollet areas contracting asbestos-related diseases. The plaintiffs – who were awarded a total of €1.7m (~US$2m) – either lived with Uralita workers or within 2 kilometers of the company’s factory. Previous rulings held the company liable for asbestos diseases contracted by former workers. See: Uralita deberá indemnizar con 1,7 millones a afectados por el amianto de Cerdanyola y Ripollet [Uralita must compensate with 1.7 million the asbestos affected of Cerdanyola and Ripollet].

Sep 21, 2018

A decision by Judge Patrícia Erica Luna da Silva from the São Paulo district of Rosana has been handed down in response to a public civil action brought in May 2018 by the São Paulo Public Prosecutor's Office; the Judge has given the São Paulo Sewage Company (SABESP) 18 months to replace asbestos-containing water pipes in the Rosana district. The basis for this verdict is Law 12,684/ 2007 prohibiting asbestos use in São Paulo State; the constitutionality of this law was upheld by the Supreme Court in November 2017. See: Juíza manda Sabesp substituir tubulação de amianto no interior de SP [Judge orders SABESP to replace asbestos pipe in the interior of SP].

Sep 19, 2018

On September 17, 2018, a report by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) documented a significant failure to protect schoolchildren and teachers from hazardous exposures to asbestos (see also: one-page summation of ongoing failures by the EPA to perform “sufficient compliance inspections of schools to reduce asbestos exposure”). See full 26-page EPA report: EPA Needs to Re-Evaluate Its Compliance Monitoring Priorities for Minimizing Asbestos Risks in Schools.

Sep 19, 2018

Three months after the June 18, 2018 earthquake hit the Osaka area of Japan, some libraries, community centers, classrooms, and other facilities remain closed due to collapsed ceilings and materials containing asbestos. A multipurpose center – home to the central library, the municipal welfare department and the central community center – remains shut without any plans for reopening due to the threat posed by damaged asbestos-containing products in the building’s ceiling. The situation is replicated in buildings throughout the prefecture. See: Public facilities still closed since June Osaka quake for fear of asbestos exposure.

Sep 19, 2018

Decisions this month have proved beneficial to asbestos-injured workers in Brazil. As a result of revisions to the National Classification System, people with injuries caused by occupational exposures to carcinogens who were insured by the National Social Security Institute can apply for early retirement. The 34th Labor Court of São Paulo awarded R$1million to a former Eternit worker who lost a lung to asbestos cancer following toxic exposures between 1976 and 1991. See: Trabalhador exposto a agente cancerígeno tem direito à contagem de tempo especial para aposentadoria [Worker exposed to carcinogenic agent is entitled to special time count for retirement].

Sep 19, 2018

On September 5, 2018, the Reims Court of Appeal overturned a 2017 court ruling which awarded 72 railway workers the sum of €60,000 each (€30,000 compensation for anxiety and €30,000 for the company’s breach of obligations) for asbestos exposures experienced over a period of 12 years at the railway yards in Romilly-sur-Seine. The defendant in that case, the Société Nationale des Chemins de Fer Français (SNCF) – France’s state-owned railway company – appealed. The Reims Court’s ruling, which deemed the complaints “inadmissible,” has been soundly criticized by victims’ groups and unions. See: Amiante à la SNCF :la justice se fout de la santé des cheminots [Asbestos at the SNCF: justice does not care about the health of railway workers].

Sep 20, 2018

Although asbestos was banned in 2006 by a United Arab Emirates (UAE) statute and local building regulations stipulate that asbestos use on new construction projects is illegal, the UAE consumed more than 26,000 tonnes of asbestos in 2009. UAE legislation does not prohibit the import, production or use of asbestos-cement water pipes. Other practices which continue to endanger occupational and public health safety include the demolition of buildings containing asbestos, the reuse of discarded asbestos products and the unregulated dumping of asbestos-contaminated waste. See: Asbestos: There’s no time to lose.

Sep 20, 2018

A new report entitled: “Why the UK Needs Tighter Asbestos Controls” concludes that UK asbestos safety regulations and preventative measures are weaker than those in other European countries which have less of a problem and calls for the implementation of stricter controls to prevent toxic exposures. Of particular interest is the discussion of impact of the cumulative effects of low-level asbestos exposures to contaminated products within the national infrastructure on the life expectancy of children. See: UK must bring its asbestos safety rules into line with rest of Europe.

Sep 18, 2018

New legislation is being drafted in Italy which will provide financial incentives for replacing asbestos roofing with photovoltaic systems. According to the draft bill, which awaits approval by the Ministry of the Environment, eligibility will be dependent on installing solar panels after asbestos roofing has been removed. A budget of €250,000,000 has been approved for this initiative. Priority will be given to applications for work on schools, hospitals, other public buildings and other buildings open to the public. See: In arrivo il “bonus Amianto” [The “asbestos bonus” is coming].

Sep 17, 2018

Last week (September 12, 2018), the Ministry of Defence (MoD) announced that an investigation was proceeding to establish whether there was asbestos contamination of Sea King helicopters two years after a report by the Australian Defence Force had concluded that occupational asbestos exposure experienced on a Sea King helicopter by Petty Officer Greg Lukes had contributed to his cancer death (see: Petty Officer Greg Lukes' death linked to Sea King service). Considering the huge media coverage of this story – not least because Prince William had flown this type of helicopter – the MoD announcement was pretty uninformative. See: Sea king helicopters: asbestos.

Sep 17, 2018

In September 12-14, 2018, trade unionists, asbestos victims’ campaigners and doctors from eleven countries in Southeast Asia met in Hanoi, Vietnam to build momentum for a regional ban on asbestos. Also taking part in the sessions were experts from Australia, the World Health Organization and Vietnam ministries. During the conference, it was announced that Vietnam would ban the use of asbestos roofing sheet in 2023. Sponsors of the conference included; Australia’s Union Aid Abroad (APHEDA), the Asian Ban Asbestos Network, the Asia Monitor Resource Centre, the International Ban Asbestos Secretariat and Solidar Suisse. See: Photo from South East Asia Ban Asbestos Meeting and also Facebook Video .

Sep 17, 2018

An alert has been raised in Nigeria by Prince Gbolahan Lawal, the Lagos State Commissioner for Housing, who warned the public about the hazard posed by the use of asbestos in domestic premises: “asbestos ceilings are carcinogenic, it causes cancer and if you have it in your house you should try and change it’’ he told the News Agency of Nigeria. Lawal is calling for a nationwide program to raise awareness about the risk of asbestos in public and private buildings. See: LASG warns against use of asbestos in homes, says it is carcinogenic.

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]

May 16, 2018

Asbestos victims’ groups, campaigning bodies and NGOs issue an open letter to the asbestos industry declaring: “the end for the deadly asbestos industry is fast approaching.” Supported by signatories from Asia, Latin America, Europe, Australia and Africa, the text highlights recent measures called for by regional bodies and international agencies to address the global asbestos crisis: securing a covenant for implementing a global ban on asbestos, providing financial, technical and educational support for countries seeking to achieve bans – programs to minimize hazardous exposures and eliminate asbestos diseases, making public investment and development aid conditional on banning asbestos [Русской версии] [Versão em português]. [Read full article]

May 15, 2018

A grassroots effort to identify workers with asbestos-related disease from an asbestos factory in Kolkata, India has resulted in the suspension of two workers who had been involved in organizing the initiative. Angered by the management’s attempts to intimidate the workforce and punish full-time factory workers Arun Chakraborty and Goutam Sardar, former workmates have formed a “Struggle Committee” to increase the pressure on the management of Everest Industries Ltd. to withdraw the suspension orders and to progress efforts to improve the occupational health and safety regime at their workplace. [Read full article]

May 15, 2018

As the UK asbestos death toll mounts, concerns have been expressed by civil society representatives regarding the impact of a potential UK-US trade agreement and the diminution of measures to safeguard human health from toxic exposures after our exit from the European Union. There is evidence of the importation of asbestos contaminated products even under present conditions; certainly no room for any relaxation of controls. The author concluded: “With the world’s highest asbestos-related disease mortality rate and regulatory authorities facing brutal financial cutbacks, the last thing anyone wants is the import of more toxic material or a watering down of health and safety protections.” [Read full article]

May 5, 2018

On April 6, 2018, an asbestos awareness event was held for community members in the Loopeng Village Community Hall by the Asbestos Interest Group (AIG), a grassroots group from Kuruman in the Northern Cape Province of South Africa. Addressing the audience were palliative care and cancer specialists – who provided information on a multitude of aspects affecting people with asbestos-related diseases – as well as representatives of the municipality. The exchange of information was facilitated by questions and answers sessions as well as the provision of handouts, leaflets and pamphlets. Photographs of the day’s activities illustrate the text of this report. [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