International Ban Asbestos Secretariat

International Ban Asbestos Secretariat



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Apr 15, 2024

Texas-based BNSF Railway, a company owned by the American billionaire Warren Buffet, is being sued by multiple asbestos victims – including 61-year old asbestos victim Paul Resch and the estates of Joyce Wald and Thomas Wells – who alleged that the railway failed to prevent cancerous fibers being liberated as a result of its operations in the Montana town of Libby. To date, arguments advanced by BNSF’s legal team in defence of the company have been rejected by U.S. District Court Judge Brian Morris. See: Victims of Montana asbestos pollution that killed hundreds take Warren Buffet's railroad to court.

Apr 15, 2024

An industrial tribunal in Rouen ordered the DS Smith Paper company in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray, France to compensate 131 asbestos-exposed employees last month (March 2024). The judges agreed that, as a result of hazardous workplace exposures, the claimants suffered from “asbestos anxiety,” a fear of contracting an asbestos-related disease. Compensation payouts ranged from €1,200 (US $1,280) to €15,000 (US $15,980) per employee. See: Rouen. Affaire DS Smith: l'entreprise condamnée à indemniser 131 salariés exposés à de l'amiante [Rouen. DS Smith case: the company ordered to compensate 131 employees exposed to asbestos].

Apr 15, 2024

Massive amounts of asbestos-containing waste are being created around the world every year. Burying this material in regulated landfills is, at best, a temporary solution. The article cited below discussed progress being made by companies in the Netherlands and France in detoxifying this waste using heat processes, microwaves or chemicals to destroy the fibers, so that the material can safely be reused, thereby eliminating the need to further contaminate dumpsites or the environment. See: Asbestos is a global waste problem – here's how we might get rid of it.

Apr 15, 2024

The Court of Velletri, in the Italian capital city, this month upheld an appeal from 60-year old Piero De Luca, who alleged that as a result of asbestos exposures at the Colgate Palmolive plant in Anzio he contracted pleural plaques and pleural thickening. His application for asbestos benefits and early retirement was rejected by the Italian National Social Security Institute (INPS) in 2020. The Court ordered INPS to increase by 30% the social security benefits paid to the claimant bringing the sum to €2,500 (US$2665) per month. See: Amianto alle porte di Roma, lavoratore affetto da placche pleuriche: tribunale condanna l'Inps [Asbestos on the outskirts of Rome, worker suffering from pleural plaques: court condemns INPS].

Apr 15, 2024

WorkSafe – New Zealand's primary workplace health and safety regulator – has ceased funding the national asbestos registry, claiming it was unreliable and redundant. Commenting on this development, researcher Dr Terri-Ann Berry said that the existence of a “centralised, well-maintained asbestos exposure registry” was pivotal for determining trends in asbestos-related diseases and identifying population- and regional-hotspots. Every year, 220 people are diagnosed with asbestos-related diseases in New Zealand. See: Asbestos exposure register should be continued – researcher.

Apr 15, 2024

The Asbestos Health Impact Survey in the South Korean Province of Gyeongsangnam-do is now in its fourth year of operations. Outreach work by staff members seeks to identify at-risk members of the public and provide check-ups by medical staff from the Asbestos Environmental Health Center at Yangsan Pusan National University Hospital. People who are eligible for the free screening include those who had lived within a 2km radius of asbestos exposure sources (asbestos factories, shipyards, repair yards, etc.) for more than one year or worked with asbestos or asbestos-containing material. See: 석면 피해 의심된다면, 늦기 전에 무료 석면건강영향조사 받으세요! [If you suspect asbestos harm, get a free asbestos health effects survey before it's too late!].

Mar 11, 2024

After the presence of asbestos-contaminated mulch had been confirmed at 75 sites in Sydney, the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) of New South Wales is progressing an investigation to identify those responsible. “While the EPA works on its criminal investigation, the government will move to tighten regulations and make further changes as required,” Penny Sharpe, the Environment Minister of NSW, said. “The discovery of asbestos in mulch,” Sharpe added “led to the biggest investigation in the EPA’s history.” See: Asbestos-contaminated mulch found at 75 sites across Sydney, watchdog finds.

Mar 11, 2024

The General Services Administration (GSA), an independent US government agency tasked with helping manage federal agencies, published a 48-page report in March 2024 (see: Federal Real Property: More Consistent Monitoring of Asbestos Could Improve Oversight) that disclosed that 2/3 of the GSA’s buildings (638 out of 955) haven’t been inspected for asbestos for five years, including some of which that may never have been inspected. A comprehensive plan for completing required inspections and updating the agency’s asbestos policy is under consideration by GSA officials. See: Federal Real Property: More Consistent Monitoring of Asbestos Could Improve Oversight.

Mar 11, 2024

On March 6, 2024, a settlement was reached in the Kobe District Court between the Japanese government and relatives of a 78-year old self-employed electrician from Hyogo Prefecture who died from mesothelioma caused by exposure to asbestos at construction sites. The Government will pay a total of 14.3 million yen (US$97,200) in compensation to the three sister-in-laws of the deceased. See: アスベスト被害で男性死亡 遺族と国が和解へ 原告請求通り1430万円支払い 神戸地裁 [A man dies due to asbestos damage The bereaved family to receive 14.3 million yen from the government as ordered by Kobe District Court].

Mar 11, 2024

The municipal authorities of Incheon, a South Korean city bordering the capital of Seoul, are offering subsidies of 7 million won (US$5,320) to encourage property owners to commission specialist contractors to remove and replace asbestos-containing roofs and other products to protect the public from toxic exposures. The city has allocated 1,432 billion won (US$1.1m) for asbestos remediation of 333 houses, 33 non-residential buildings, etc. during the coming fiscal year. See: 인천시, 주택 슬레이트 철거 시 최대 700만 원 지원 [Incheon City supports up to 7 million won for demolition of house slate].

Mar 11, 2024

New Zealand’s Ministry of Education said that as a result of shoddy work by licensed asbestos removal companies, tighter regulations are on their way to protect workers and members of the public from potentially deadly exposures to a known carcinogen. Under protocols currently being considered, the Ministry would only allow work to be undertaken by asbestos specialists which are members of a national panel of approved contractors. On March 7, 2024, Ministry spokesperson Sam Fowler told reporters: “We have identified examples of poor removal practice where, for example, asbestos cement pieces have been found in outdoor areas after a clearance certificate for the area had been issued.” See: Ministry signals tighter controls after 'inadequate' asbestos removal in schools.

Mar 11, 2024

In the aftermath of a broadcast on France 5 of the TV documentary “Asbestos, Our Schools are Sick,” the media was awash with articles denouncing the presence of asbestos-containing material throughout the educational infrastructure. The article cited below featured the views of former MP and whistleblower Jean-Marie Schléret who was president of the National Observatory for School Security for 26 years. According to Schléret, the ubiquity of the contamination and lack of adequate communication have made the situation in many schools even worse. See: Amiante dans les écoles: trois questions à l’ancien député de Meurthe-et-Moselle et lanceur d'alerte Jean-Marie Schléret [Asbestos in schools: three questions for former MP for Meurthe-et-Moselle and whistleblower Jean-Marie Schléret].

Mar 7, 2024

Clover Moore, the Lord Mayor of Sydney, last week denounced failures of the New South Wales (NSW) Government and the NSW Environmental Watchdog which led to the unfolding asbestos scandal in and around Sydney. At an extraordinary general meeting on March 4, the Mayor said that the council had incurred costs of $200,000 for testing of samples of mulch thought to be contaminated with asbestos at dozens of locations in the city. According to Carolyn Walsh, chair of the NSW asbestos taskforce, 90+% of the contaminated mulch had come from the company Greenlife Resource. See: Clover Moore attacks NSW government and EPA over ‘regulatory failure’ before asbestos crisis.

Mar 7, 2024

The article cited below included a discussion of an episode entitled “Asbestos, our sick schools,” which was broadcast on France 5 as part of the “Vert de Rage” documentary series on March 4, 2024. Based on research by journalists, it was reported that a third of French schools still contained asbestos which was poorly monitored and badly understood by school administrators and staff. According to Public Health France, 60 teachers or school workers contract mesothelioma, the signature cancer associated with asbestos exposure, every year. See: L’amiante dans les écoles, un fléau qui perdure en France [Asbestos in schools, a scourge that continues in France].

Mar 7, 2024

The death was announced of 62-year old Daniela Zanier, a mesothelioma victim who was environmentally exposed to asbestos whilst living in the Italian town of Casale Monferrato, for decades home to an infamous asbestos-cement factory owned and operated by the Swiss Eternit Group. Mrs Zanier had been an active member of the local asbestos victims’ group: AFeVA. The funeral took place on March 4, 2024. AFeVA spokesperson Bruno Pesce said: “She leaves us with a great emptiness, but also deep anger and bitterness for the cause that took her away.” See: Vittime dell'amianto a Casale, morta Daniela Zanier. "La mia unica colpa: aver respirato l'aria" [Asbestos victims in Casale, Daniela Zanier died. “My only fault: having breathed the air”].

Mar 7, 2024

The Environmental Protection Department of the City of New Taipei, a special municipality located in northern Taiwan, announced last week plans to subsidize asbestos eradication work on domestic properties. Asbestos-containing debris is now listed as hazardous waste and must be dealt with according to mandatory protocols. Municipal funds have been allocated to encourage the safe disposal of this toxic material. Residents wishing to get rid of asbestos material in their homes have until October 31, 2024 to submit an application for funding. See: New Taipei Offers Subsidies for Asbestos Material Cleanup.

Apr 16, 2024

On March 18, 2024 – more than 32 years after America’s first asbestos ban was vacated by a Louisiana Court of Appeals – the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) confirmed that the use of chrysotile (white) asbestos would be phased out with an immediate embargo on asbestos imports once the Final Rule on Asbestos Part 1; Chrysotile Asbestos; Regulation of Certain Conditions of Use Under the Toxic Substances Control Act (the Final Rule) was implemented. This long-awaited national ban will protect not only people in the US but those in other countries which decide that the time is right for them to also take unilateral action on the asbestos hazard. It is reassuring that, after all this time, the EPA is once again becoming a force for good. [Read full article]

Mar 12, 2024

On March 3, 2024, members of the Asian Ban Asbestos Network (ABAN) convened for the 2024 ABAN South Asia Strategy meeting. With its unique asbestos history, Sri Lanka was an appropriate venue for the meeting. In retaliation for plans to impose an asbestos ban in Sri Lanka, Russia embargoed tea imports from Sir Lanka. As a result, the asbestos ban was put on hold. Despite these setbacks, groups in Sri Lanka are progressing a range of efforts to minimize hazardous asbestos exposures. Commenting on the deliberations in Colombo, ABAN Coordinator Sugio Furuya highlighted: the high level of engagement exhibited by the attendees and the participation of a new generation of ban asbestos campaigners. [Read full article]

Mar 8, 2024

March 24, 2024 will be the 100th anniversary of the death of Nellie Kershaw, the first named victim of asbestos-related disease. Her story is paradigmatic of the experience of so many victims, abandoned to their fate once occupationally-contracted diseases made them unfit for work. Has much changed since Nellie Kershaw’s death 100 years ago? Thousands of Britons are still dying from asbestosis, the disease which killed Mrs. Kershaw, and asbestos cancers every year. The government’s refusal to address the contamination of the national infrastructure will ensure that in decades to come there will be many more people like Nellie Kershaw who experience ill health and premature death due to toxic exposures. A 100 years on, the human face of this tragedy may have changed but the problem remains the same. [Read full article]

Mar 4, 2024

Nearly ten years after the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), in Strasbourg condemned Switzerland for its treatment of one asbestos victim, a ruling last month (February 2024) found that the same legal system was in violation of the European Convention on Human Rights (the Convention) in its handling of a lawsuit brought by another asbestos plaintiff. Although there were differences in the cases, the ECHR’s response to the time-barred defense advanced by Switzerland’s legal team was the same; the need for “legal certainty and legal peace,” did not justify depriving asbestos claimants “of the chance to assert their rights before the courts.” [Read full article]

Feb 21, 2024

In an Asbestos Factsheet uploaded on February 16, 2024, by the United Nations Environment Programme it was reported that: “There is ongoing evidence that mismanagement of asbestos is resulting in elevated healthcare expenses that surpass any benefits.” The validity of this finding was substantiated by the asbestos scandal – news of which has gone global – which has rocked Sydney, Australia over recent weeks. The discovery of asbestos in mulch used in parks, playgrounds, schools, sports centers, hospitals, electrical substations, supermarkets and domestic gardens has led to closure of premises, cancellation of events and extremely high levels of public anxiety. [Read full article]

Feb 16, 2024

It is now 125 years, since Factory Inspector Lucy Deane warned the British Government about the hazard posed by exposures to asbestos. One wonders what she would have made of the fact that so many decades later, asbestos cancers and diseases continue to wreak havoc amongst populations the world over. Recent developments reviewed in the article cited below, revealed both good and bad news. Despite the dramatic fall in asbestos use in the 21st century, asbestos contamination of national infrastructures and pollution of the natural environment remain a public health as well as an occupational health risk to global populations. [Read full article]

Feb 5, 2024

In the run-up to World Cancer Day 2024, an article in The Guardian newspaper reverberated a World Health Organization (WHO) warning of an impending cancer “tsunami” which will see the number of new cancer cases rising by 77% by 2050. Exposure to all types of asbestos can cause a variety of cancers; data released in 2024, confirmed that 1,300,000 tonnes of asbestos were consumed worldwide last year. It is neither prudent nor humane for national governments, international agencies and regional authorities to neglect their duty to protect populations in countries where asbestos use remains legal; every minute of every day millions of people are being exposed to a substance that could kill them. It has to stop. [Read full article]

Feb 2, 2024

Following on from a TV program – Britain’s crumbling schools – broadcast on the BBC last month, an article on the website of the World Socialist on January 29th asserted that: “Schools in the UK are not fit for purpose, and many pose a ‘critical risk to life.’” While asbestos protections are increasing in EU countries, it seems that in the UK the only change is for the worse. As our schools continue to age, asbestos-containing products within them deteriorate and the likelihood of carcinogenic fibers becoming airborne grows. The final price for the negligence of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) will be paid by the children, teachers and school staff who contract mesothelioma in the decades to come. [Read full article]

Jan 25, 2024

Johnson and Johnson (J&J) announced in May 2020 that it would stop selling its iconic talc-based baby powder in US and Canadian markets. It would be another two years before the company bowed to mounting pressure over claims of discriminatory marketing and double standards and agreed to stop sales outside North America. Grassroots’ groups around the world which have been monitoring the availability of J&J products during 2023 & 2024 reported that there appeared to be a decrease in supplies of the toxic baby powder available in many retail and online outlets. [Read full article]

Jan 18, 2024

A proposal to compensate asbestos victims with shares of the asbestos defendant charged with causing their injuries is under consideration by a Brazilian court overseeing the emergence of Eternit S.A. from judicial recovery. In the 30+ years I have been involved in the fight for asbestos justice, I thought I had witnessed every type of avoidance, cover-up and denial strategy by asbestos defendants and their lawyers. I had not, however, in all that time seen anything so vile as what is being proposed in Brazil. To tie the financial survival of a suffering claimant and his/her family to the fiscal welfare of the killer company is a concept that is so egregious that it almost takes your breath away. [Read full article]

Jan 15, 2024

The production of minerals has an environmental impact and asbestos is no exception. Mountains of toxic tailings dominate the landscapes of many asbestos mining towns; although the amount of contaminated material in these mounds can vary, it is not unusual for them to be composed of up to 40% asbestos fibers. Projects to turn these environmental liabilities into assets by reclaiming magnesium, zinc, nickel and high-quality silica from the waste are being spearheaded in Canada, China and Russia. This article questions the human costs of such plans. [Read full article]

Dec 13, 2023

During 2023 there have spectacular highs and lows intermixed with pockets of progress set against a global backdrop which has constrained the work of grassroots ban asbestos campaigners in many countries. Despite serious political and economic obstacles, campaigners have found creative ways to build momentum for asbestos restrictions and support the injured. The progress achieved in 2023 was tempered by setbacks and stalemates in key asbestos-using countries. The November death of Mavis Nye, erstwhile Mesothelioma Warrior, who was a much-loved figure among the global community of ban asbestos campaigners, was a stark reminder of how vital it is to eradicate the asbestos hazard. [Read full article]

Dec 7, 2023

In a David and Goliath legal battle in Brussels, David won. In this case, David was Eric Jonckheere, President of the Belgian Association of Asbestos Victims (ABEVA), retired pilot, mesothelioma patient and member of a 7-person family which has been decimated by the signature cancer associated with asbestos: mesothelioma. On November 27, 2023, a Flemish-speaking court of the first instance convicted Eternit, a former asbestos conglomerate, of “intentional wrongdoing,” “deliberate misconduct,” “systematic manipulation” and “deliberate distortion of the facts.” By exposing Eternit’s “fraud” and “deliberate misconduct,” a path has been cleared for asbestos victims in Belgium and elsewhere to hold the company to account. Justice has long been denied; it must no longer be delayed. [Read full article]

Dec 5, 2023

Patience is running out amongst people who have been campaigning for decades to protect Brazilians from the asbestos hazard. An inexplicable and indefinite postponement last month by the country’s once revered Supreme Court of a judgment which would, once and for all, have stopped asbestos mining was the final straw. To make manifest the overwhelming public support for banning this class 1 carcinogen, asbestos victims, their supporters and advisors spent two days in Brasilia last week to mobilize support among political and civil society allies (Versão em português aqui). [Read full article]

Dec 1, 2023

Observers of the global asbestos epidemic have long categorized estimates of the number of asbestos-related deaths postulated by international agencies as woefully inadequate. Authors of a paper published in November 2023 agree: “a more realistic estimate of asbestos-related deaths could be of 289,621 in the workplace, and 304,841 when including environmental and semi-occupational causalities.” Toxic exposures experienced in the manufacture, processing and use of asbestos-cement (AC) material play a significant part in the causation of this global catastrophe; the majority of asbestos consumed every year goes into the production of AC pipes, roofing, cladding, flues, water tanks, etc. [Read full article]

Nov 26, 2023

Asbestos victims’ groups, trade unions, research institutes and community activists from Latin America, Asia, Australia & Europe have today issued a declaration supporting colleagues who are protesting in Brasilia this week over the failure of Brazil’s Supreme Court to hand down as scheduled its judgment regarding the timetable for the cessation of operations at Brazil’s only remaining asbestos mine. According to Brazilian asbestos victims’ lawyer Leonardo Amarante: “The Ministers – as STF Judges are called – were asked to determine whether mining should cease immediately or whether a one-year phase-out period should be allowed. The information vacuum which currently exists regarding this litigation is something I have never seen before” (Clique aqui para ler a versão em português). [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.

From Article:

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