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International Ban Asbestos Secretariat

International Ban Asbestos Secretariat

lkaz@btconnect.com

 

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Feb 8, 2019

The families of three workers (2 from the dockyards and 1 from a hospital) who died from mesothelioma due to workplace asbestos exposures have won lawsuits in the Malta Court. Judge Joseph R. Micallef awarded €10,000, €15,000 and €20,000 respectively to the families for the breach of their rights due to the employers’ negligence in protecting the deceased from toxic exposures and their failure to take “effective precautionary measures” despite the knowledge about the health hazards posed by asbestos use. See: Relatives of workers who died from asbestos-induced illness awarded €45,000. Court rules right of applicants to protection of life had been breached.

Feb 8, 2019

Under the umbrella of the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) – representing Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Russia – steps are being progressed to defeat United Nations efforts to regulate the global trade in asbestos under the Rotterdam Convention (RC) which will next meet in Geneva in April-May 2019. Following a meeting in Moscow on February 5, 2019, the Board of the Eurasian Economic Commission announced that EEU members will work together to defeat UN attempts to list chrysotile asbestos on Annex III of the RC. See: Страны ЕАЭС намерены выработать общую позицию по хризотиловому асбесту [EAEU countries intend to develop a common position on chrysotile asbestos].

Feb 8, 2019

An operation at the Port of Santos in Brazil’s São Paulo State uncovered 266 kilograms of cocaine hidden within a shipment of raw asbestos fiber. The joint Federal Police and Customs of the Federal Revenue of Brazil taskforce found the drugs on Friday, February 1. The cargo was destined for Chennai, India – the world’s largest asbestos-importing country – with a stop en route in Antwerp, Belgium. A sniffer dog alerted the officials to the presence of the drug. See: Receita Federal apreende 266 kg de cocaína no Porto de Santos [Federal Revenue seizes 266 kg of cocaine in the Port of Santos].

Feb 6, 2019

On February 6, 2019, Sarah Newton, Minister for Disabled People, Health and Work, moved that the draft Mesothelioma Lump Sum Payments (Conditions and Amounts) (Amendment) Regulations 2019, laid before the House of Commons on January 15, be approved – they were. The 2019 regs increase the rates of payments set out in the Mesothelioma Lump Sum Payments (Conditions and Amounts) Regulations 2008 by 2.4%; the last uprating for the rates of payment had been on April 1, 2018. MPs – including Dennis Skinner, John Woodcock, Mike Amesbury, Ann Clwyd, Tracy Crouch, Peter Grant and Paul Scully – debated the motion. See: Hansard: House of Commons debate – Social Security.

Feb 6, 2019

Almost all of the aboriginal men who transported shipments of blue asbestos from the mine at Wittenoom Gorge have died from the asbestos cancer mesothelioma, as have thousands of other people who worked at the now infamous mine in Western Australia or lived in the mine town. Small-scale mining began in the late 1930s in the gorges near Mulga Downs and from 1944 production under the Colonial Sugar Refining Company (CSR) continued for a further 22 years. None of the workers at the mine or people in the community were informed of the human hazards of exposures to asbestos. See: How mesothelioma devastated this Indigenous community in the Pilbara.

Feb 6, 2019

The Collective Trade Union of Machinists of Madrid Subway (SCMM) has criticized the Chief Executive Officer of the Madrid Metro Borja Carabante who has, over the last two years, failed to deliver the quality and level of services deserved by the company’s passengers and staff. The SCMM highlights the decrease in the workforce and rolling stock including 50 trains which are out of service due to asbestos contamination. The lack of rolling stock has led to “chaos and crowds in suburban stations, causing serious situations of lack of security.” See: El SCMM denuncia “la mala gestión” de Borja Carabante: 50 trenes paralizados por el Amianto [SCMM denounces “the bad management” of Borja Carabante: 50 trains paralyzed by asbestos].

Feb 6, 2019

A proposal to erect a monument commemorating those whose lives had been sacrificed to asbestos is working its way through the municipal legislature of Osasco, formerly the center of Brazil’s asbestos-cement sector, under the sponsorship of Mayor Rogério Lins. Thousands of workers and members of the public had died in Osasco from asbestos-related diseases and it was in Osasco in 1995 that the Brazilian Association of the Asbestos-Exposed was formed. See: Projeto prevê monumento às vítimas do amianto em Osasco [Project proposes monument to asbestos victims in Osasco].

Feb 5, 2019

Government and industry specialists have admitted that Bangladesh lacks the capacity to test samples of Johnson & Johnson (J&J) baby powder for the presence of asbestos. Until such time as the authorities in India report on the tests they are currently undertaking, no action will be taken in Bangladesh to forestall or curtail imports. Sri Lanka has banned imports of J&J baby powder. India's drugs regulator ordered J&J to stop manufacturing baby powder in two of its factories until test results show it is free of asbestos. See: Bangladesh fails to test Johnson and Johnson Baby Powder for asbestos.

Feb 5, 2019

The potential risk posed by the continued presence of asbestos-containing products in hundreds of schools in Algeria was the subject of a question asked in Parliament. Answering the question, Minister of National Education Nouria Benghabrit-Remaoun Benghabrit reassured colleagues that the Ministry of Education in collaboration with the Ministry of Finance would be taking “preventive measures” to address the situation. See: Amiante dans les ecoles: La ministre de l’Éducation Nationale réagit [Asbestos in schools: Algerian Minister of Education reacts].

Feb 5, 2019

Judge Alberto La Mantia from the second civil section of the Court of Genoa, Italy has awarded the sum of €670,000 in a civil case against the Ministry of Defense (MoD) to the wife and two children of a worker from the naval military arsenal at La Spezia who died in 2012 (aged 62) from mesothelioma contracted from occupational exposure to asbestos. The deceased had worked as a carpenter at the MoD’s dry dock in La Spezia from 1967 to 1994. The Judge ruled that the MoD had been negligent in failing to prevent toxic workplace exposures. See: Amianto, ministero condannato [Asbestos, ministry condemned].

Feb 5, 2019

Residents from the Polish commune of Jerzmanowice-Przeginia, a rural area in southern Poland, are being encouraged by the Mayor to submit requests for the free collection of asbestos-containing products under a municipal contract financed by the Regional Operational Program of the Małopolska Voivodship; as per the program, collections are available throughout the year (2019). See: Akcja usuwania azbestu w Jerzmanowicach-Przegini [Asbestos removal campaign in Jerzmanowice-Przegini].

Feb 4, 2019

In an article published online on January 31, 2019 by Andrei Golm, Co-President of the Russian non-profit organization Chrysotile [Asbestos] Association, Golm reassured consumers and workers that: “Scientists and doctors from Russia and other countries agree: chrysotile asbestos is safe for controlled use” and that “chrysotile (white) asbestos with controlled use does not pose a threat to health.” In addition, Golm noted: “Products made of chrysotile cement are approved for use in construction in the Russian Federation in accordance with the hygienic standards GN 2.1.2 / 2.2.1.1009-00 approved by the chief sanitary doctor of Russia.” See: 6 самых важных фактов об асбесте [6 most important facts about asbestos].

Feb 4, 2019

In Casale Monferrato, the town at the center of Italy’s asbestos scandal, one person is diagnosed every week with the asbestos cancer, mesothelioma. The hospice which provides caring for the injured is at the heart of the community and undertakes outreach work with schools and the public to ensure that the history of industrial abuse caused by the operations of the Eternit asbestos-cement factory remains part of the daily discourse. This article highlights the work of healthcare and other professionals who provide the care and outlines plans to increase the services on offer and the compensation to the victims. See: Reportage. A Casale Monferrato, tra gli “angeli” dell'amianto [Reportage. In Casale Monferrato, among the "angels" of asbestos].

Feb 4, 2019

A 23-page submission by AVAQ – Association des victimes de l'amiante du Québec [the Association of Quebec Asbestos Victims] – to the Quebec government recaps the history of occupational asbestos exposure in Quebec and concludes with facts detailing the current situation in which Quebec’s allowable occupational exposure limits to asbestos– despite vocal protests from provincial experts and civil society groups – remain far higher than those elsewhere. AVAQ calls for an immediate lowering of the exposure limit to 0.1 f/cc with a further decrease to 0.01 f/cc as soon as possible. See: Mémoire de l’AVAQ au comité de révision de la RSST.1 – Amiante [AVAQ submission to the RSST.1 review committee – Asbestos].

Feb 4, 2019

A paper published in December 2018 was based on a retrospective study of 188 subjects who died from asbestos-related diseases in Italy in 2000-2017; most of the deceased had worked and/or lived in Broni, Italy, where the Fibronit company operated a large asbestos-cement factory from 1932 until 1993. Amongst the asbestos-exposed factory workers, most of whom were men, the majority died from mesothelioma although some died from asbestosis; however, each of the 73 women, whose exposures were either environmental or via household contact, died from mesothelioma. See: Impact of asbestos on public health: a retrospective study on a series of subjects with occupational and non-occupational exposure to asbestos during the activity of Fibronit plant (Broni, Italy).

Feb 1, 2019

The Attorneys General (AGs) from 15 US states are petitioning the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to introduce a mandatory reporting rule that will require US asbestos importers to furnish the EPA with more data on its use; currently, asbestos importers are exempt from having to provide the EPA with information about imports of raw asbestos or products containing it. The AG from Massachusetts Maura Healey said: “Each year, tens of thousands die from exposure to asbestos. We urge Acting Administrator Wheeler to issue a rule that will protect the lives of thousands of workers, families and children in Massachusetts and across the country.” See: 15 AGs petition Trump administration to draft asbestos rule.

Feb 4, 2019

Throughout Europe, the legacy of widespread asbestos use continues to manifest itself in cancer registries and coroners’ courts. While EU countries have adopted innovative and pro-active measures to address national asbestos legacies, the UK government’s entrenched policy of denial and delay continues to endanger the lives of workers as well as members of the public. Compared to the deadlines for asbestos removal in the Netherlands and Poland, the financial incentives to replace asbestos roofs in Italy and nationwide measures to monitor at-risk individuals in Germany, the UK policy of “safe management of asbestos in schools” is a manifestation of an ostrich mentality which continues to endanger children as well as staff. [Read full article]

Jan 15, 2019

Reacting to news that Eternit S.A. was phasing out asbestos use in Brazil but continuing to mine and export asbestos fiber, there has been a furore of outrage from groups at home and abroad who condemned this policy as a “national disgrace”. Ban asbestos activists in India and Indonesia denounced Eternit’s actions asking the company: “How many more people will you kill?” and stating: “Your hypocritical behaviour is the cause of a humanitarian disaster for Asian countries and we publicly condemn you for your actions.” On behalf of a global federation representing millions of construction workers, Fiona Murie said: “It is simply unacceptable for Eternit Brazil to dump its asbestos on industrializing countries…” [Read full article]

Jan 8, 2019

Permission to translate this October 2018 article by Taras Volya, of Ukraine’s Journalists Against Corruption, was obtained in November 2018 and translated by Mick Antoniw in December. The edited English language text highlights the economic and political pressures brought by foreign asbestos vested interests to continue sales of a class 1 carcinogen to Ukraine despite efforts by Ukraine’s Ministry of Health to ban asbestos, and names institutions and corporations in Ukraine, Russia and Kazakhstan profiting from asbestos sales to Ukraine. Despite Ukraine’s war with Russia, the trade in asbestos persists with Russian and Kazakh asbestos sales to Ukraine valued at $7.2 million in 2016. [Read full article]

Dec 17, 2018

Concerns regarding the purchase by a UK company of an asbestos-laden passenger ship from Portugal were raised at a meeting of the Parliamentary Asbestos Sub-Group in the House of Commons on December 12, 2018. The Sub-Group was informed that a Portuguese cruise ship named MV Funchal containing “about 100 tons of asbestos in a friable state, namely composed of the fiber types chrysotile, amosite and tremolite” had been purchased at a December 5, 2018 auction in Lisbon by a UK-based hotel group which plans to berth the vessel in Central London where it will be used to provide hotel accommodation. [Read full article]

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]

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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