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International Ban Asbestos Secretariat

International Ban Asbestos Secretariat

lka@btinternet.com

 

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Dec 10, 2017

The first lawsuit has been filed in Spain over anxiety caused by toxic exposures of five claimants who were exposed to asbestos at their Barcelona workplace. They are calling for the classification from the State of their anxiety and depression as an occupational disease and asking for compensation for hazardous conditions which would not have occurred “if the defendant company had fulfilled its obligations in relation to prevention and safety at work.” See: Primera demanda presentada en España para considerar la ansiedad enfermedad professional [First lawsuit filed in Spain to consider occupational disease anxiety (caused by asbestos)].

Dec 10, 2017

A paper appearing in the January issue of the International Journal of Hygiene and Environmental Health highlights the importance of early diagnoses of the asbestos cancer mesothelioma, which enables patients to access trials of novel treatment therapies. The authors described a method of calculating past asbestos exposures in order to assess individuals’ levels of risk of contracting mesothelioma. A strong correlation between measured and estimated asbestos exposure has been shown. See: Estimating past inhalation exposure to asbestos: A tool for risk attribution and disease screening.

Dec 9, 2017

On December 7, 2017, a one-minute video was uploaded to YouTube by Greenpeace Colombia, one of the organizations calling on politicians to support legislative efforts to ban asbestos in the country. The footage shows Greenpeace volunteers in the Plaza de Bolivar – the main square in the Colombian capital Bogotá – with a clock demanding that Senators vote for the “Ana Cecilia Niño ban asbestos bill” in the second legislative debate before the end of the year. Colombian journalist and ban asbestos campaigner Ana Cecilia Niño died from the asbestos cancer mesothelioma in 2014. See: Senadores: ¡Ya es hora! [Senators: It's time!].

Dec 9, 2017

On December 7, 2017, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) issued an alert (Reference EFA/2017/006) over the continuing use of asbestos-containing pipe gaskets (CNA 2000) put into circulation by a British engineering company between 2006 and 2010. The contaminated products were manufactured by G&H Engineering Services with material imported from China that had been sold as asbestos-free. According to a letter by the HSE dated October 30, 2017 efforts in 2011 to alert customers “may not have been fully circulated further down the supply chain.” See: Supply of CAN 2000 pipeline gaskets: presence of asbestos.

Dec 9, 2017

This week the Superior Court of Justice of Murcia dismissed an appeal by public companies Navantia and Izar Construcciones Navales against the judgment of a Cartagena court that imposed a 30% uplift on the benefits of a widow whose husband died from asbestos workplace exposures in the shipbuilding sector. The deceased – who had worked for the public naval shipyards Empresa Nacional Bazán from 1967 until 1992 – suffered from a lung adenocarcinoma, respiratory failure and pulmonary asbestosis. See: Confirman una condena por permitir el uso de Amianto [Confirming conviction for allowing the use of asbestos].

Dec 8, 2017

The International Chrysotile Association (ICA), founded in 1976 by asbestos vested interests, is a shadow of its former self. Although the ICA is still registered in Quebec as a non-profit organisation and is still funded by asbestos mining and manufacturing corporations “it is increasingly isolated and discredited…” Nowadays, the ICA has directors from just seven countries: Russia, Kazakhstan, Brazil, Zimbabwe, Mexico, India and USA; since asbestos was banned in Brazil on November 29, 2017, it is likely that number will be reduced to six. See: International asbestos lobby organisation shrinking and doomed.

Dec 8, 2017

The Superior Court of Justice of Catalonia (TSJC) has recognized that the death of a former Uralita worker from oesophageal cancer was caused by asbestos exposures experienced during 20 years of employment at the company’s Rocalla de Castelldefels asbestos-cement factory in Barcelona. Despite the fact that oesophageal cancer was not included on the list of diseases caused by asbestos, the Court decided that the evidence regarding the causation of this disease was categorical. See: El TSJC avala que trabajar con amianto puede provocar cáncer de esófago [The TSJC recognizes that working with asbestos can cause esophageal cancer].

Dec 8, 2017

The scandal over the sale of asbestos-contaminated shot-blasting material by the Eurogrit subsidiary of Sibelco landed them in a Dutch court which ruled on December 6, 2017 they were liable for damages; the lawsuit was initiated by the Muehlan Company which was awarded interim damages of €49,000 (they had asked for €2.4m). When Muehlan was informed by Eurogrit of the asbestos contamination on October 5, work immediately stopped at 9 locations including an oil rig, bunker vessels and silos. Muehlan says it has incurred a loss of millions of euros. See: Eurogrit aansprakelijk voor schade in asbestschandaal [Eurogrit liable for damages in asbestos scandal].

Dec 8, 2017

Brazil’s Public Prosecutor's Office (MPT) is pioneering programs to monitor workers’ health and diagnose asbestos-related diseases using funds from judicial awards to pay for medical examinations, diagnostic equipment and follow-up programs; asbestos lawsuits have been filed by the MPT in Rio de Janeiro, Bahia, São Paulo and Paraná. There are, in addition, four main public civil actions against Eternit, formerly Brazil’s largest asbestos conglomerate. See: MPT quer reparação dos danos causados pelo amianto no país [MPT wants to repair the damage caused by asbestos in the country].

Dec 7, 2017

Academic researchers have announced findings of tests undertaken using samples of amphibole asbestos fibers collected in Arizona and Montana which document the toxic effects on mice of low level environmental exposures to asbestos. During a presentation last month made at Boulder City Library, Jean Pfau of Montana State University said: “Low exposure caused health effects in mice, suggesting that we cannot dismiss low environmental exposures…We can no longer say there is no health risk.” While the fibers from Arizona seemed to be more toxic, exposures to all the samples led to increased frequency of autoantibodies and inflammation. See: Scientists warn of asbestos risks.

Dec 7, 2017

At the annual Christmas picnic of the Asbestos Diseases Society of Australia (ADSA) on December 3, 2017, a check for $85,000 was presented to Professor Anna Nowak from the National Centre for Asbestos Related Diseases (NCARD). The donation was the result of fund-raising efforts during the ADSA’s five-day walk in September 2017 from Merredin to Perth via Bruce Rock, Quairading, Beverley, York and Northam to raise asbestos awareness and support for life-saving research. The money will be used by NCARD for the ADSA PhD Scholarship in Mesothelioma. See: Press release of Asbestos Diseases Society of Australia.

Dec 6, 2017

The Court of Appeals of Santiago, Chile has confirmed a verdict which ordered the asbestos company Pizarreño S.A. to pay compensation of $80 million (pesos) (US$122,550+) to the children of Manuela del Carmen Marín Cabello, who died on July 18, 2012 as a result of environmental and domestic exposure to asbestos dust brought home on her husband’s work clothes. The court heard evidence documenting the company’s extensive knowledge regarding the deadly hazard of asbestos exposure. See: Pizarreño deberá pagar $80 millones a hijos de mujer que murió de asbestosis [Pizarreño must pay $80 million to children of a woman who died of asbestosis].

Dec 6, 2017

In a press release issued by Eternit S.A., Brazil’s biggest asbestos conglomerate, on December 5, 2017 the company informed its shareholders and the financial markets that it had suspended mining at Brazil’s only chrysotile asbestos mine, which was operated by the Eternit subsidiary SAMA, following the Supreme Court verdict of November 29 declaring the mining, processing, use, sale and export of asbestos and asbestos-containing products unconstitutional throughout the country. Also suspended were the activities of the Eternit subsidiary Precon Goiás, which was a manufacturer of asbestos cement tiles. See: Eternit S.A. Press release.

Dec 4, 2017

The Joint Union Asbestos Committee (JUAC) has issued new guidance reminding schools of the precautions needed to prevent hazardous exposures caused by pinning up Christmas decorations and exhibits in the majority of schools which still contain asbestos products. According to the Department for Education, pressing staples or pins into asbestos-containing walls or ceilings can release harmful fibers into the air. JUAC has recommended that this alert be incorporated as part of schools’ mandatory asbestos management plans in order to give staff “timely reminders.” See: Schools told not to pin up Christmas decorations in union asbestos guidance.

Dec 4, 2017

Announcements have been made regarding substantial compensation payments awarded by courts to family members of two men who died of mesothelioma due to occupational asbestos exposures experienced whilst employed by the Trieste Port Authority; the Simoni family was awarded €700,000 for the 2013 death of 64-year old Luigi Simioni who had worked at the port loading and unloading asbestos cargo from 1973 onwards; the relatives of port worker Gina Grube received €645,000. See: Amianto:700 mila euro alla famiglia dell'ex dipendente dall'Autorità portuale [Asbestos: 700 thousand euros to the family of a former employee of the Port Authority].

Dec 4, 2017

A National Asbestos Profile for Australia has been published in accordance with WHO/ILO guidelines to “provide information and define the baseline situation with regard to the elimination of asbestos-related diseases.” The 49-page document highlights the need for further research into the extent of asbestos contamination of housing stock and the cost and social implications of caring for Australians with asbestos-related diseases. The collection of additional information on these subjects will inform government decisions and enable the implementation of effective measures to prevent future exposures to asbestos. See: National Asbestos Profile for Australia.

Dec 6, 2017

On December 5, 2017, the High Court declared that historical documents detailing corporate knowledge regarding the asbestos hazard due to be destroyed as part of a confidential agreement must be preserved and shared with parties not involved in the original litigation. The ruling marked a positive outcome for a case brought by the Asbestos Victims Support Groups Forum to obtain information that would facilitate claims by asbestos victims and better understand “the close relationship between the Factory Inspectorate, whose function was supposed to be protecting the health and safety of workers, and the asbestos industry that they were supposed to be regulating.” [Read full article]

Dec 1, 2017

A majority verdict of the Federal Supreme Court (STF) handed down on November 29, 2017, prohibited the mining, processing, marketing and distribution of chrysotile (white) asbestos in Brazil – currently the world’s third largest producer of chrysotile. The judgment was binding on all jurisdictions and on the national congress which is, said the STF, barred from enacting new legislation authorizing the use of asbestos. Commenting on this ruling Fernanda Giannasi, who was been at the forefront of the campaign to ban asbestos in Brazil for 30 years, said: “If an asbestos producer country like Brazil is able to make such a decision, why wouldn’t consumer countries do the same?” Why indeed! [Read full article]

Nov 21, 2017

Untold numbers of workers may have been exposed to asbestos-contaminated blast cleaning abrasives supplied by the Netherlands-based Eurogrit Company, a subsidiary of the Belgian company Sibelco, which were sold to companies in the Netherlands, Belgium, the UK and possibly elsewhere. The Eurogrit product (Eurogrit coal-slag abrasive (aluminium silicate) at the center of this unfolding health and commercial catastrophe is used primarily for removing rust and dirt from steel surfaces. Compared to well-honed protocols put into action by Dutch stakeholders, the UK’s response to this illegal use of a toxic product has been singularly unimpressive. [Read full article]

Nov 9, 2017

Actions taken by Ukraine’s Ministry of Health in June 2017 to protect citizens from exposures to asbestos were officially quashed last month (October 2017) by the Ministry of Justice which excluded the implementing regulations from the State Register. The formalization of this move to undercut the capacity of Ukraine to act in the best interests of its citizens is further proof of the over-reaching influence of asbestos vested interests. Simultaneously, a 2017 free trade deal between Canada and Ukraine – The Canada-Ukraine Free Trade Agreement – could provide enhanced opportunities for the commercial exploitation of regional asbestos production. [Read full article]

Oct 31, 2017

On the evening of October 27, 2017, the Worker’s Initiative – Kolkata organized a mass meeting in Kolkata, India where 19 workers with asbestosis were presented compensation payments received from the T&N Asbestos Trustee Company (UK) totaling INR 55,08,924.00 (US$ 85,000) by representatives of trade unions and labor organizations. Despite attempts by the asbestos manufacturing company Everest Industries to deter workers from attending the meeting, there were many asbestos workers in the audience as well as workers from other companies. Information leaflets on the asbestos hazard in Hindi and Bengali were distributed during the meeting. [Read full article]

Oct 13, 2017

A press release issued by UK asbestos campaigners declared support for French comrades demonstrating in the streets of Paris today (October 13, 2017) demanding justice for those injured by asbestos and punishment for corporate entities, entrepreneurs, government officials, scientists, public relations professionals and others who promoted sales of deadly asbestos products (voir la version française du communiqué de presse). Highlighting the importance of the French protest, Graham Dring of the Asbestos Victims Support Groups Forum (UK) said: “The ties which bind French and UK asbestos victims are enduring and solid; their battles are our battles. Today, we send them a message of fellowship and solidarity and our wishes for a great day!” [Read full article]

Oct 12, 2017

In mid-September, 2017, an article entitled: Global, regional, and national comparative risk assessment of 84 behavioural, environmental and occupational, and metabolic risks or clusters of risks, 1990–2016: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease (GBD) Study 2016 was featured in The Lancet. Using data sourced from the GBD Study regarding the 2016 incidences of asbestos-related mortality in 195 countries, IBAS has compiled three tables listing asbestos-related disease mortality and mortality rates, relating (mostly) to occupational asbestos exposures. [Read full article]

Sep 28, 2017

A letter by the Occupational and Environmental Health Network of India to Ram Nath Kovind, the President of India, calls for action according to international guidelines and independent research to protect citizens from the deadly hazard posed by the massive use of asbestos and asbestos-containing products in India. The text of the September 12 document cites statements by the Environment Ministry that the “use of asbestos may be phased out” and the Ministry of Labour: “The Government of India is considering the ban on the use of chrysotile asbestos in India to protect the workers and the general population against primary and secondary exposure to Chrysotile form of Asbestos.” [Read full article]

Sep 22, 2017

This paper was submitted by the Government of the Cook Islands to the 28th meeting of the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) which took place in Samoa on September 19-21, 2017. This and other documentation submitted under agenda item 13.1 supported the Cook Is. delegation’s call for a Pacific wide ban on asbestos and urged the SPREP to take “action on existing asbestos materials and wastes and address the issue of new asbestos in the Pacific.” The members of the SPREP include: American Samoa, the Northern Marianas, Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, French Polynesia, Guam, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, New Caledonia, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu and Wallis and Futuna. [Read full article]

Sep 17, 2017

The asbestos house of cards built on “denial, distortion and distraction” is collapsing. With more and more evidence documenting the toxic effects of human exposures and action being taken the world over to protect populations, preliminary data for recent years have shown a dramatic fall in consumption and reports from the asbestos frontline have documented a waning of industry influence and power even in home markets. This article draws on recent developments, published material and new data which detail a collapse in political, social and commercial support for the asbestos industry and the growth in support for national and regional action on the asbestos hazard in Asia and Latin America. [Read full article]

Sep 1, 2017

This letter is in response to recent comments made by President Rustam Minnikhanov of Tartarstan, Russia about the toxic nature of chrysotile (white) asbestos during a confrontation with Mr Andrey Holm, the head of Orenburg Minerals JSC – a major Russian producer and exporter of chrysotile asbestos fiber. During a meeting to discuss the state of the roads in the Kazan area, the President queried whether asbestos, a substance extolled by Holm, was a poison. According to a Russian environmental campaigner: “This is the first time an administrator of this high level questioned the safety of asbestos.” [For a Russian version of this letter click here] [Read full article]

Aug 26, 2017

Legislation regarding the use of asbestos in Brazil – the world’s third largest producer of white asbestos – was the subject of a split decision on August 24, 2017 by the Supreme Court which upheld the right of São Paulo State to ban asbestos but failed to declare the federal law allowing asbestos use unconstitutional by one vote, despite majority support for a national ban from the nine Justices eligible to vote. This is a great victory for the Brazilian Association of the Asbestos-Exposed, for its legal advisors and for the associations which invested their expertise, time and resources to challenge a dangerous law and a status quo that prioritized corporate profits over public health. There is no place in the 21st century for asbestos. [Read full article]

Jul 30, 2017

A press release issued in the aftermath of an international ban asbestos mission to Indonesia held between July 25 and 28, 2017, highlighted the “Urgent need for banning asbestos in Indonesia to avoid large increases in lung cancer rates and other asbestos related diseases in coming decades.” In meetings and workshops with trade unionists, asbestos sufferers, medical professionals, academics, and government officials, Canadian Prof. Yv Bonnier Viger detailed the tragic asbestos legacy in consuming countries and issued dire warnings of the price to be paid for Indonesia’s asbestos use. “Only 7 countries use more than 50,000 tonnes [of asbestos] per year – including Indonesia.” [Read full article]

Jul 25, 2017

In a press release dated July 21, 2017, the Vietnam General Confederation of Labour declared support for prohibitions on the use of asbestos by 2020. This position was adopted in the wake of a Hanoi meeting which provided the opportunity for Australian, Canadian, Japanese and Vietnamese experts to discuss the multi-faceted hazards posed by the continuing use of asbestos in Vietnam with national stakeholders, including representatives of the asbestos-cement roofing industry. Unfortunately, the participation of industry delegates was obstructive as they claimed there was “no proof chrysotile asbestos causes cancer…,” a claim which has been rejected by global experts and independent scientists. [Read full article]

Jul 20, 2017

The number of cross-border ban asbestos initiatives is escalating on an almost weekly basis with victims, family members as well as academic and technical experts travelling far afield to collaborate with like-minded colleagues. This month alone, we have seen groups of Japanese delegates visit the UK on an asbestos solidarity mission, while UK, Australian, Indian and Indonesian campaigners have taken part in activities to mark the 30th anniversary of the Ban Asbestos Network of Japan. Throughout the Mekong region, a ban asbestos roadshow has visited Cambodia, Laos and other countries to generate support for asbestos bans through the provision of up-to-date data and independent research. [Read full article]

Jul 17, 2017

A press release dated July 14, 2017 details efforts made by representatives of 13 Cambodian Ministries and trade unions to build capacity regarding the asbestos hazard, during a 5-day training initiative which took place in Siem Reap from July 10 to July14, 2017. Amongst the featured speakers were Canadian expert Professor Yv Bonnier-Viger, Dr. Rokho Kim (WHO), Mr. Jungho Choi (ILO), and Peter Tighe, Nick Miller and Phillip Hazelton (Australia). The initiative was organised by Union Aid Abroad (APHEDA) in collaboration with multiple partners including the International Ban Asbestos Secretariat. As a result of these meetings, work will begin on a Cambodian Asbestos Profile as the first step towards a national ban. [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 (2014)

Top Five Producers (tonnes):
   Russia1,100,000
   China400,000
   Brazil284,000
   Kazakhstan240,000
   India270
 Top Five Users
(tonnes):
   Russia608,000
   China507,000
   India379,000
   Brazil154,000
   Kazakhstan68,000