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International Ban Asbestos Secretariat

International Ban Asbestos Secretariat

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Jul 17, 2024

The article cited below, which was uploaded on July 8 2024, referenced new data published in The Lancet which revealed that: “a ‘substantial portion’ of lung cancer patients in India are those who do not smoke.” In 2020, there were 72,510 new cases of lung cancer diagnosed and 66,279 deaths according to research by doctors from the Tata Memorial Hospital in Mumbai. Exposure to asbestos was listed as one of the causes of the high rates of lung cancer in India, along with environmental and air pollution, exposures to chromium, cadmium, arsenic and coal, and second-hand smoke. See: Most of India's lung cancer cases are linked to non-smokers. Here's why.

Jul 17, 2024

Staff at the Department of Waste Management (DWM) in Tuvalu, an island country in the South Pacific, are taking a proactive approach to the legacy of asbestos use, with new protocols for identifying toxic products. According to DWM Director Mr Epu Falega: “By knowing where the asbestos is we can help our communities live with it safely.” Using newly acquired technology, the first survey of the 148 buildings on Niu island was conducted. Nineteen of the 131 samples tested were found to contain asbestos including those taken from roofing on the old chapel which was built in 1925. See: Protecting communities in Tuvalu from the threat of asbestos.

Jul 17, 2024

A precedent was set on July 9, 2024 when a mesothelioma sufferer, who had been employed at a textile factory in Uji City, sued the government for failing to protect him in a lawsuit being heard in Kyoto District Court. Between 1969 and 1979, the worker had been tasked with handling burlap bags containing asbestos which was fed into the production line for the manufacture of heat insulation products. As a result of workplace exposures, he contracted the asbestos cancer, mesothelioma. See: ユニチカ工場で石綿暴露 宇治市の元労働者が救済求め提訴 中皮腫発症し今年3月に労災認定 [Asbestos exposure at Unitika factory. Former worker with mesothelioma in Uji City sues for relief and [exposure] is certified as a worker's accident in March this year].

Jul 17, 2024

As of July 15, 2024, two tunnels in the east of Brussels were closed as part of an asbestos removal and remediation project being carried out over the summer months. According to one of the supervisors Inge Paemen: “The work involves removing asbestos and repairing and protecting the reinforced concrete ceilings… Asbestos was already removed from part of the ceilings in summer 2020. This will now be finished and the ceilings will also be repaired.” The work on four key tunnels is being undertaken at this time as traffic flow is 20% decreased during July and August. See: Two Brussels tunnels closed for works from Monday.

Jul 17, 2024

The Office of Education in Chungnam City, Korea is implementing plans to remove asbestos from selected schools during the 2024 summer school holidays. On July 12th, attendees at a training session for individuals tasked with monitoring this work were informed that asbestos removal work would be undertaken in 37 schools. Among the team of monitors are: school principals or vice-principles, asbestos building safety managers, parents, members of civic groups, on-site representatives of asbestos dismantling and removal companies, and construction supervisors. See: 충남교육청, 여름방학 학교 석면해체·제거 감시단 교육 [Chungnam Office of Education, summer vacation school asbestos dismantling and removal monitoring group training].

Jul 16, 2024

The article cited below by veteran ban asbestos campaigner Brazilian Engineer Fernanda Giannasi is an excellent summation of the current state-of-play regarding the process of banning asbestos in Brazil. The commercial exploitation of asbestos was prohibited by order of the Supreme Court (STF) in 2017. Under a state granted exemption, which was and is unconstitutional, asbestos mining continued at the SAMA facility in Goiás State; all the fiber produced was exported. On August 14, 2024, the STF will, after a wait of 7 years, give its ruling on shutting down the mine. See: Fernanda Giannasi: Fim definitivo do amianto no Brasil está nas mãos do STF [Fernanda Giannasi: The definitive end of asbestos in Brazil is in the hands of the STF].

Jul 16, 2024

On July 12, 2024, the head of Russia’s 2nd largest asbestos conglomerate: Uralasbest admitted that the outlook for the asbestos industry was bleak: “Over the past two decades, the situation on the chrysotile market has been getting worse every year. In different countries that are consumers of our products, there is pressure at the government level: opponents of chrysotile are calling for a ban on asbestos.” For this reason, Yuri Kozlov said, the company had been working to diversify with the launch of new production lines at its enterprises in Belgorod, Bryansk, Krymsk and Sterlitamak. See: Глава "Ураласбеста": новые линии производства откроют в Белгороде, Брянске и Крымске [Head of Uralasbest: New production lines will open in Belgorod, Bryansk and Krymsk].

Jul 16, 2024

Last week, the Kobe District Court ordered the Japanese Government to pay 11,000 yen (US$70) to the family of a man who died from asbestos cancer because the Labor Standards Department had illegally destroyed records documenting his toxic exposure. It is believed that this is the first time that a punishment has been handed down for the mistaken disposal of public documents. See:「父も労災記録も戻ってこない」アスベスト吸い込み死亡の男性 労基署が記録廃棄 国に賠償命じる判決 [“Neither my father nor the records of his work-related accident were returned” - Man dies after inhaling asbestos; Labor Standards Office destroys records; court orders government to pay compensation].

Jul 16, 2024

Sixteen lecture halls were closed on July 6, 2024 at the University of Lille, France after routine maintenance work discovered traces of asbestos on June 17, 2024 in air handling units of lecture halls built during the 1960s at the University of Lille, France. The authorities say that asbestos remediation and refurbishment work required to make the premises safe will take at least 2 years and cost several million euros. See: L'Université de Lille ferme 16 amphis du campus Cité scientifique après la découverte d'amiante [The University of Lille closes 16 lecture halls on the Cité scientifique campus after the discovery of asbestos].

Jul 16, 2024

In return for $3,000,000 (US$3.9m), between 2018 and 2022 Devon landowner Christopher Garrett allowed 12,000 tonnes of asbestos debris to be dumped on land designated as a floodplain alongside his home. According to the Environment Agency (EA), this is the worst such crime ever to have been committed in Devon and Cornwall. Exeter Crown Court last week sentenced the 64-year old defendant to 32 months in jail and ordered him to pay £200,000 under the Proceeds of Crime Act. The EA believes it would cost in excess of £2.5m to decontaminate the site. See: Devon man sentenced to 32 months for dumping waste on floodplain.

Jul 16, 2024

Toxic asbestos-cement pipes which are part of the water delivery network serving 8,000 households in the Greek city of Lagadas in Thessaloniki are finally being replaced. The €4,000,000 (US$4.36m) project was approved by the Ministry of the Interior. In addition to the human health risk posed by the aging toxic pipes, they were also liable to leak and/or burst necessitating frequent and expensive repairs to be carried out on the obsolete network. See: Λαγκαδάς: Ξηλώνεται επιτέλους το δίκτυο αμιάντου στο σύστημα ύδρευσης [Lagadas: The asbestos network in the water supply system is finally being dismantled].

Jul 11, 2024

The article cited below, which was uploaded on July 8, 2024 to a Russian-language news portal, reviewed the positive contribution the asbestos sector had made to Russia and the glowing long-term prospects for the industry. Technological experimentation has succeeded in producing new uses for asbestos and the mining debris left behind once the chrysotile (white) asbestos fiber is extracted. Amongst the substances now being reclaimed from the waste are: sports magnesia, silica and components for use by the steel and rubber industries. See: Метаморфозы горного льна [Metamorphoses of mountain flax].

Jul 11, 2024

When comparing asbestos policies in Australia and Indonesia, author Gwyn Roberts pointed out that in the 1980s there was a divergence of attitude by the countries, finalizing in asbestos being banned in Australia in 2003. In Indonesia, however, there is no prohibition on asbestos use and the country is the world’s 2nd largest importer. Ban asbestos mobilization is gaining traction and in March 2024 the Supreme Court mandated that asbestos-containing products sold in the country must carry health warnings. Lobbyists at the Chrysotile Information Center and elsewhere continue to spread industry reassurances that chrysotile asbestos is safe for humans to use despite the WHO, ILO and other international agencies categorizing chrysotile asbestos as a Group 1 carcinogen. See: Asbestos danger.

Jul 11, 2024

Off-loading asbestos liabilities has become a popular pastime for corporations facing a tidal wave of lawsuits from those injured by the production, use and sale of asbestos-containing material. According to the July 10th article cited below: “Private equity firms (in the US) are quietly buying up a literal toxic asset: companies’ liabilities for decades of asbestos poisoning.” Once the huge payouts from the industrial manufacturers have been received and the liabilities transferred, the new owners make use of well-tried legal machinations to deny or delay the payment of claims. See: Wall Street Is Investing In Your Asbestos Poisoning.

Jul 11, 2024

On July 9, 2024 it was announced that the multinational construction material maker Saint Gobain SA had completed the acquisition of Australia-based building materials maker CSR for A$4.3 billion. CSR is a frequent defendant in asbestos-related lawsuits brought by Australian claimants from around the country. The use of asbestos by the company’s subsidiaries in the US and Brazil have also led to litigation from injured employees, relatives and members of the public. Press releases from Saint-Gobain and CSR are fulsome with praise for the takeover; it is unlikely that Saint-Gobain’s asbestos victims will share their enthusiasm. See: Saint-Gobain completes the acquisition of CSR in Australia.

Jul 9, 2024

A truck from the Brazilian city of Goiânia loaded with 47 tonnes of chrysotile asbestos overturned on Brazilian highway PR-092 in Paraná State over the weekend. The 44-year-old driver was injured in the accident and was taken to a local hospital. Broken sacks of asbestos – an acknowledged carcinogen – were photographed on the road and surrounding areas. Brazil’s only operational asbestos mine is located in the city of Minaçu, 300 miles from Goiânia. See: Caminhão carregado de amianto tomba na PR-092, e deixa motorista ferido [Truck loaded with asbestos turns over on PR-092, leaving driver injured].

Jul 18, 2024

If asbestos producers have their way, the global epidemic of asbestos-related deaths could well continue into the 25th century. And yet asbestos, in all its forms, is categorized as a Group 1 carcinogen (“carcinogenic to humans”) by the International Agency on Research for Cancer. According to data published on July 22, 2024 in The Lancet, Asia bears the highest disease burden of lung cancer, with 63.1% of newly diagnosed lung cancers and 62.9% of lung cancer deaths occurring in the region…” It is no coincidence that the region with “the highest disease burden of lung cancer” is also the region with the highest consumption of asbestos. [Read full article]

Jul 16, 2024

At an art exhibition held in Dundee, Scotland on May 9, 2024 by the Scottish asbestos charity Asbestos Action, ten original portraits of asbestos victims by artist Craig Semple were displayed. The objective of the event was to show that people are “much more than their diagnoses.” Commenting on the day, the Charity’s General Manager Dianne Foster said: “Every single person who is diagnosed with an asbestos-related condition has a life, has a family, has friends, and it is a very unfair situation that people have been exposed to asbestos.” Positive feedback was received from many of the hundred or so people who attended the showing. [Read full article]

Jul 8, 2024

Last week, millions of readers of major UK newspapers were reminded of the country’s tragic asbestos legacy in stories about asbestos-related deaths from occupational, second-hand and environmental exposures. Almost simultaneously, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) released figures confirming the continuation of the epidemic which has been killing Britons for over a century. According to new HSE data, 5,000 people+ die annually from asbestos-related diseases including mesothelioma, lung cancer, asbestosis, cancers of the larynx and stomach; there is no data for the number of asbestos-related deaths caused by cancers of the ovary and pharynx. Calls are being made for the new Labour Government to take action on this national scandal. [Read full article]

Jul 1, 2024

The death of Robert Vojakovic was announced on June 27, 2024. Robert was a star in the galaxy of asbestos campaigners: he was indefatigable, incontrovertible and irrepressible. Coming from thousands of miles away, Robert Vojakovic grew to represent the very best of Australian values in his fight for a “Fair Go” for workers in his new country. Over the span of fifty years, he devoted his time and energy initially as a volunteer, latterly as the President of the Australian Diseases Society of Australia, to making manifest the devastating impact asbestos exposures had had on miners, millers, transport workers and family members from the infamous asbestos mining town of Wittenoom, where he himself once worked. [Read full article]

Jun 18, 2024

The news released last week that Russia’s Ministry of Health (MoH) was considering plans to recognize occupational cancers, including those caused by exposures to asbestos, as industrial diseases was as huge a surprise to ban asbestos campaigners as it was a shock to Russian vested interests. The consultation period was due to close yesterday (June 17, 2024). No doubt the MoH received angry complaints from Orenburg Minerals, Uralasbest and other asbestos stakeholders over the implicit threat to the substance at the heart of their enterprises. After all, if asbestos is hazardous enough to be on the authorized list of diseases caused by occupational exposures in Russia, then the industry propaganda which affirms that asbestos use is safe is patently untrue, as we all know it to be. [Read full article]

Jun 17, 2024

Late on June 11, 2024, Italy’s Supreme Court (the Court of Cassation) announced that it had overturned a decision by the Palermo Court of Appeal which had nullified a first-instance guilty verdict for the asbestos deaths of 39 shipyard workers and the serious injuries sustained by 11 other employees. The lower court had ruled that the negligence of executives Giuseppe Cortesi and Antonio Cipponeri had resulted in dangerous workplace asbestos exposures at the Fincantieri S.p.A. shipyard in Palermo in the 1980s. The Court of Appeal rejected this decision saying that exposure to asbestos at the company’s shipyard in Palermo had ceased in the early 1980s. The Supreme Court found the decision of the Appeal Court “erroneous” and ordered a new hearing. [Read full article]

Jun 5, 2024

I’d seen it with my own eyes but hadn’t believed it. However, in the aftermath of an explosive article on the news portal of Deutsche Welle, a German state-owned international broadcaster, I’m convinced. Last year, Brazil solidified its position as the number one supplier of asbestos to India, toppling Russia into second place. Russia’s reversal of fortunes was first observed in 2022 when Indian import data recorded 169,134 tonnes (t) from Brazil and 145,398t from Russia. The slide continued in 2023, with shipments of 160,720t of Brazilian asbestos to India. This news has repercussions that far transcend mere reals, rupees and rubles: let me explain. [Read full article]

Jun 3, 2024

“Sportswashing” is the latest weapon in the arsenal of tricks wielded by asbestos conglomerates to decontaminate corporate names sullied by decades of wanton behaviour, workforce deaths and environmental crimes. Around the world, former and current asbestos companies are attempting to restore their brands by a public relations sleight of hand, attaching their name to that of a popular team or sporting event. The contentious nature of this technique was confirmed last week by the reaction of sports fans in Parramatta, New South Wales who vociferously condemned a renewal of links between the local rugby team and James Hardie, formerly Australia’s largest asbestos conglomerate. [Read full article]

May 20, 2024

The leadership role of Australian campaigners in the struggle to eradicate the asbestos hazard in the Asia-Pacific region has not gone unnoticed. The latest newsletter (April 2024) issued by Uralasbest – Russia’s second biggest asbestos conglomerate – condemned Australia for its “sophisticated” efforts to “destroy the chrysotile (white) asbestos industry” via the UN’s Rotterdam Convention and its attempt “to add two negative paragraphs on chrysotile asbestos to the text of the Resolution on Chemicals” at the latest meeting of the UN Environment Assembly. This month’s Australian outreach project – a training initiative to build local medical capacity for the diagnosis and treatment of asbestos-related diseases in Laos and Vietnam – will almost certainly offend the Russians even more. [Read full article]

May 10, 2024

On May 7, 2024, the Government of Catalonia approved draft legislation to address the region’s deadly asbestos legacy. The Asbestos Eradication Bill, when it’s ratified by Parliament, will facilitate a timely and safe removal of asbestos from buildings and facilities. Commenting on the significance of this development, Catalonia’s President Pere Aragonès acknowledged “the commitment and involvement of civic and social entities, neighborhood associations, local governments and social agents, and various departments of the Government of Catalonia” which had led to the adoption of this landmark bill. One can but hope that the coalition of stakeholders praised by the President will continue to press for much-needed change; the sooner The Asbestos Eradication Bill becomes law, the better! [Read full article]

May 9, 2024

This article comprises the English translation of an open letter to the Swiss asbestos billionaire Stephen Schmidheiny, written by Italian journalist Silvana Mossano, whose husband Marco Giorcelli died from environmental asbestos exposures experienced in Casale Monferrato, his home town. Ms. Mossano has seen with her own eyes the dreadful repercussions of the asbestos manufacturing operations owned by Schmidheiny, who has been tried and convicted in multiple Italian courts for his role in this deadly epidemic. Ms Mossano’s letter is both heartfelt and well reasoned. It deserves to be read. [Read full article]

May 2, 2024

Italians were shocked to the core by the appearance of journalist Franco Di Mare on the Sunday night TV chatshow – Che tempo che fa (What's the weather like) – on April 28, 2024. Sixty-eight-year old Di Mare, who was speaking remotely, was shown using a respirator as he announced that he was seriously ill with the asbestos cancer, mesothelioma. During a dramatic interview with Fabio Fazio, Di Mare laid bare the devastating impact of the disease and its poor prognosis: mesothelioma has, he said “a very long latency period and when it manifests itself it is too late.” Di Mare castigated the RAI TV channel, owned & operated by the Italian Government, for turning its back on him after his diagnosis. [Read full article]

May 1, 2024

As a result of a Supreme Court ruling, it will now become obligatory for all asbestos-containing products sold in Indonesia to feature warning labels in Bahasa, the country’s official language. This landmark decision was issued further to a petition submitted in December 2023 by the Independent Community Consumer Protection Institute, the Yasa Nata Budi Foundation – a consumer advocacy body – and the Local Initiative for OSH Network. Celebrating this victory, campaigner Muchamad Darisman said: “By granting our request, the Judges took a giant leap forward in safeguarding the lives not only of workers but also of members of the public and consumers. It is essential that the Government and all relevant authorities take prompt action to implement the Court’s ruling...” [Read full article]

Apr 29, 2024

Between 2009 – when the Asian Ban Asbestos Network (ABAN) was founded – and 2023, global asbestos production fell from almost 2 million tonnes/t to 1,300,000t a year, a whopping 35% decline. There are many factors which adversely affected the asbestos industry’s bottom line during this time; the work of ABAN was one of them. On ABAN’s 15th year anniversary, its members take stock of what has been achieved by the journey which began in Hong Kong so many years ago and reaffirm their determination to continue the campaign to rid Asia of the scourge caused by the continuing use of asbestos. [Read full article]

Apr 24, 2024

Now in its 46th year of operations, the Asbestos Diseases Society of Australia (ADSA) is more relevant than ever. Having had the privilege of catching up with ADSA colleagues during a recent trip to Western Australia (WA), it was clear that the Society’s staff were even busier than usual. During our stay in Perth, we were delighted on April 18, 2024, to learn that the much-hated “once and for all rule,” which had disadvantaged ADSA members by barring them from accepting provisional damages, had been overturned by the adoption of the Civil Liability Amendment (Provisional Damages for Dust Diseases) Bill 2024. Commenting on this momentous development, the ADSA’s CEO Melita Markey said: “asbestos and silicosis sufferers in WA will have the same legal rights as sufferers elsewhere in the country.” [Read full article]

Apr 19, 2024

Last month was the grand opening of a factory in the Sverdlovsk region of Russia. The Vestra plant which is owned by Uralasbest – Russia’s 2nd biggest asbestos mining conglomerate – is located conveniently near the group’s chrysotile (white) asbestos mine in the Urals’ monotown of Asbest. Although the nature of the “mineral dust” used in the facility remains unspecified, it is likely that it is material reclaimed from chrysotile asbestos mining waste. In due course, the toxic secret at the heart of this shiny new factory will be exposed. One can but hope that this day comes sooner rather than later. [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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USGS Asbestos Trade Data

Fiber Producers (2022)
(tonnes):
   Russia750,000
   Kazakhstan250,000
   Brazil197,000
   China130,000
    
 Top Five Users (2022)
(tonnes):
   India424,000
   China261,000
   Russia230,000
   Uzbekistan108,000
   Indonesia104,000