International Ban Asbestos Secretariat

International Ban Asbestos Secretariat



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Feb 5, 2016

As recent verdicts deemed the Japan Government negligent for failing to act on the asbestos hazard and as manufacturers of building materials have also now been held liable, this editorial urges that guilty parties act urgently to make restitution to all the injured many of whom are suffering from asbestos diseases which can cause death in a very short time. The editorial calls on the government and others to collaborate on establishing an asbestos fund which would compensate various categories of injured people including asbestos mill workers, construction workers and the self-employed. See: Widening asbestos compensation.

Feb 5, 2016

On Tuesday, February 9, 2016 a court hearing will take place in Bogotá, Colombia during which asbestos vested interests will seek to normalize the use of asbestos, an acknowledged carcinogen, contesting growing support in the country for asbestos to be banned on the grounds of protecting public and occupational health. Representing asbestos stakeholders, lawyer Ramiro Bejarano will, it is believed, argue that no one in Colombia has been injured by their exposure to asbestos and that asbestos can be used safely. See: El amor es más fuerte que el cancer [Love is stronger than cancer].

Feb 5, 2016

Six papers (from 20) in the latest issue of an Italian medical journal look at issues relating to malignant mesothelioma, including: causation, treatment, links to asbestos use and national incidences of diseases. Of particular interest were the following: The global health dimensions of asbestos and asbestos-related diseases; Malignant mesotheliomas with unknown exposure to asbestos: a re-examination; Asbestos at the time of the First World War. The last paper reports that from 1912-17, the writer Franz Kafka was co-owner of a small asbestos factory in Prague. I bet you didn’t know that! See: La Medicina del Lavoro [Journal of Labor Medicine].

Feb 5, 2016

Six papers in the latest issue of an Italian medical journal look at issues relating to malignant mesothelioma, including: causation, treatment, links to asbestos use and national incidences of diseases. Of particular interest were the following: Malignant mesotheliomas with unknown exposure to asbestos: a re-examination; Asbestos at the time of the First World War; The global health dimensions of asbestos and asbestos-related diseases. The 2nd paper reports that from 1912-17, the writer Franz Kafka was co-owner of a small asbestos factory in Prague. I bet you didn’t know that! See: La Medicina del Lavoro [Journal of Labor Medicine].

Feb 4, 2016

From April 4, 2016, the Health and Safety at Work Asbestos Regulations will incorporate new rules for New Zealand asbestos removal companies, Certificate of Competence holders, builders and other tradespeople who work with asbestos. Tighter regulations will mandate that licenses be obtained by all those who undertake asbestos removal work including builders, roofers and other non-specialist contractors. Only draft guidelines are currently available; a finalized guidance note will be released in due course. Further restrictions for this work are expected to be implemented in 2018. See: The Regulations around working with asbestos will change from 4 April 2016.

Feb 4, 2016

Of the 150,000 workers “officially” exposed to asbestos in Spain, only 40,000 are registered with the national occupational health surveillance program which is, say the Confederación Sindical de Comisiones Obreras – Spain’s largest trade union – woefully inadequate. There were 2,474 companies that processed asbestos with up to 38,642 employees at any one time in the 15 regions which have so far submitted data. Many thousands more will have been at risk elsewhere before the use of asbestos was banned in 2002. See: Sólo el 2% de los afectados por amianto es reconocido por la Seguridad Social [Only 2% of those affected by asbestos are recognized by Social Security].

Feb 3, 2016

At the end of January, 2016, a Regional Labor Court in Rio de Janeiro handed down an important decision in a civil action which recognized the right of ABREA, the national association of the asbestos-exposed, to represent victims in a civil lawsuit against Eternit S.A. for hazardous asbestos exposures to workers at its Rio de Janeiro Guadalupe plant; toxic exposures to family members will also be considered. The injured are seeking financial restitution as well as moral damages and comprehensive healthcare costs. See: Mauro Menezes faz defesa que restaura processo da Abrea-RJ contra a Eternit [Defense by Mauro Menezes restores ABREA-Rio de Janeiro lawsuit against Eternit].

Feb 3, 2016

On January 28, 2016, the Education Funding Agency sent a 7-page questionnaire for gathering data on asbestos in schools to headteachers throughout England. The deadline for submissions is February 29, 2016. The ten brief questions in the survey focus on the presence, condition and location of asbestos-containing products, the personnel, protocol and measures used for managing the asbestos, the level of asbestos awareness of staff and measures for informing at-risk personnel such as building contractors about the risk. The contentious HSE advice to leave asbestos in place is cited as standard guidance. See: Asbestos in schools data collection.

Feb 3, 2016

For decades, the Canadian government denied that the use of asbestos could be harmful. The fact that the country was the world’s biggest supplier of chrysotile (white asbestos) fiber was a powerful incentive for the government to adopt this position. Even though the last asbestos mine is shut, Canada’s asbestos policy lags well behind that of other developed nations. News released today that the use of asbestos materials in the construction and renovation of federal buildings continues has been called “appalling” by union officials who are demanding a national ban be adopted immediately. See: Federal government still using asbestos in new construction.

Feb 2, 2016

On February 2, 2016, 1,000 protestors including asbestos-injured construction workers and family members demonstrated outside the Tokyo premises of Nichias Corporation, following a landmark ruling last week in the Kyoto District Court which found that product manufacturers could be held responsible for asbestos-related injuries amongst construction workers. Nichias executives, as well as those from other manufacturing companies where rallies also took place, refused to meet the protestors. Altogether, protests were held outside the premises of ten former asbestos manufacturing companies. See: Picture from February 2, 2016 demonstration outside premises of Nichias Corporation.

Feb 2, 2016

An article detailing work on quantifying and engaging with the massive asbestos challenges in Nepal is included in the latest newsletter issued by the Asian Network for the Rights of Occupational and Environmental Victims. The text details a legal challenge mounted by an asbestos manufacturer against the national asbestos ban which took effect on June 20, 2015. It also outlines plans for an ambitious program for 2016 which includes steps to: monitor sales, identify victims, conduct environmental and soil sampling and implement measures to raise public awareness of the asbestos hazard. See: January 2016 Newsletter. Asian Network for the Rights of Occupational and Environmental Victims.

Feb 1, 2016

A paper just published in the Medical Journal of Australia by respiratory physician Bill Musk and other clinicians advises doctors to consult patients regarding their likely exposure to asbestos as many will have been exposed directly or as bystanders to fibers liberated during work to repair, renovate or demolish contaminated buildings. Asbestos-containing construction materials, such as Fibro (asbestos-cement), were used in many Australian homes built in the 20th century. Exposures such as these are responsible for many of the cases being diagnosed as part of the 3rd wave of asbestos-related diseases. See: Doctors alert over asbestos.

Feb 1, 2016

From January 1, 2016 subsidies have become available to private individuals and agricultural businesses for the removal of asbestos roofing in the Netherlands; subsidized removal work must be completed by December 31, 2019. Owners of buildings that have asbestos roofing must remove this roofing prior to 2024 which is when government prohibitions come into force. There are strict guidelines for the removal of asbestos, with set protocols for situations in which operatives might be exposed to asbestos during refurbishment, renovation or demolition work. See: Asbestos Roofing Prohibited as of 2024.

Jan 30, 2016

During a month of legal victories by Japanese asbestos plaintiffs, yesterday (Jan. 29, 2016) the Kyoto District Court ordered the Government and building material manufacturers to pay compensation of 216 million yen (US$1.78m) to 27 construction workers and their families for illnesses contracted after occupational asbestos exposures. This was the first Japanese court ruling to recognize the responsibility of building material manufacturers for asbestos injuries; nine companies were told to pay a total of 110 million yen (US$908,000) to 23 plaintiffs. See: State, building supply makers ordered to pay asbestos compensation.

Jan 30, 2016

On January 27, 2016, people living on Bushrod island, near Liberia’s capital of Monrovia, reported that “huge quantities” of second-hand asbestos-containing material from a derelict factory belonging to Cemenco – Liberia’s only cement manufacturer – had been sold off cheaply for use as landfill and soil protection to community members. Pleased with her purchase, one local said: “the Asbestos has been very useful for us… We do not experience flood or mud in the front of our homes any longer when it rains.” Cemenco has been at the center of other environmental controversies over the release of high levels of dust into areas by its processing operations. See: Cemenco’s Asbestos Dumped in Communities.

Jan 29, 2016

Statistics just released by the United States Geological Survey (USGS) in its Minerals Commodity Survey 2016 show US asbestos consumption in 2015 of 360 tons, a 12% decrease on the previous year. This decline continues the downward trend in usage observed since 2011. Imported asbestos fiber is nowadays almost exclusively used for the production of diaphragms for the chloralkali industry. Virtually all the chrysotile (white) asbestos imported by the US in 2015 came from Brazil. No asbestos has been sourced from Canada since 2011; for decades, Canada had supplied the vast majority of asbestos used in the US. See: Minerals Commodity Survey 2016.

Feb 3, 2016

Reports from the Albanian capital of Tirana have raised concerns about work ongoing in the city center on the demolition of asbestos-cement roofing material during the refurbishment of the central market. According to Professor Romeo Hanxhari the work is “being carried out in an unsafe and unacceptable manner resulting in airborne fibres being inhaled and environmental pollution being dispersed in adjacent areas.” Today, European groups representing asbestos victims, trade unionists and health and safety campaigners have issued a public health warning and communicated their concerns to municipal and national officials. [Read full article]

Feb 1, 2016

From Japan to Brazil via Italy and France, over recent days asbestos victims have secured amazing judicial wins. Workers from Japan’s construction sector, French and Italian factories, Italian warehouses and Brazilian asbestos-cement factories have set precedents and secured sizable compensation payouts for contracting asbestos-related conditions – including psychological complaints – and diseases. Governments, institutions and corporations which allowed toxic exposures to occur have been condemned and punished for their failures. National administrations, civil servants and companies which allow hazardous exposures to continue should be under no illusion: the day of reckoning is nigh! [Read full article]

Jan 25, 2016

In 1898, Lucy Deane, a Lady Inspector of Factories in Great Britain, informed the Chief Inspector of Factories and Workshops of the “abundant evidence… of the evil effects of dust” writing: “The evil effects of asbestos dust have also attracted my attention, a microscopic examination of this mineral dust which was made by H.M. Medical Inspector clearly revealed the sharp, glass-like, jagged nature of the particles, and where they are allowed to rise and to remain suspended in the air of a room, in any quantity, the effects have been found to be injurious, as might have been expected.” This report is one of the earliest notifications of the occupational asbestos hazard. [Read full article]

Jan 18, 2016

Data collected by the United States Geological Survey (USGS) on the global asbestos trade is widely used. From time to time, however, there have been irregularities which have needed investigating. For several years, the USGS has reported that Argentina, a country which adopted a resolution banning asbestos in 2001, produced small amounts of asbestos every year of the 21st century, ranging from a high of 300 tonnes in 2006 and 2007 to a low of 100 tonnes in 2012-2014. Inquiries have been made with experts at the USGS and in Argentina into the mystery of how a country with an asbestos ban can also be an asbestos producer. [Read full article]

Jan 13, 2016

As of April 11, 2016 changes to the compensation policy for ex-service personnel suffering from the asbestos cancer, mesothelioma will allow former members of the armed services diagnosed with this cancer on or after December 16, 2015 to receive a lump sum of £140,000 instead of smaller weekly or monthly payments dispensed under the War Pensions Scheme. The improvements, which will bring government awards for veterans more in line with those for civilians, resulted from campaigning by The Royal British Legion and victims’ groups. The U-turn in government policy was announced in Parliament last month by the Minister for Defence Personnel and Veterans, Mark Lancaster MP. [Read full article]

Dec 15, 2015

Asbestos victims’ groups and campaigning bodies from Latin America, Asia and Europe have today published multilingual resources to raise awareness of the public health hazard in the world’s biggest asbestos producing countries. The translations into Russian, Chinese, and Portuguese of a new text confirming the disease risk to people who did not work in the asbestos industry will be an invaluable resource to campaigners in countries where powerful vested interests deny: the hazard of non-occupational asbestos exposures, the impact of cumulative exposures from multiple sources and the dangers of low level exposures. [Read full article]

Dec 15, 2015

Recent events and publications have highlighted the public health hazard posed by current and legacy asbestos exposures. To ensure that campaigners in asbestos stakeholding countries have access to the latest information, a coalition of asbestos victims’ support groups and campaigning bodies from Latin America, Asia and Europe have collaborated on a project to translate a commentary published in November 2015 into the languages of the three largest asbestos producing nations (Russia, China, and Brazil). This article includes links to these translations and also to a translation of the text into Vietnamese. [Read full article]

Dec 8, 2015

Asbestos victims and ban asbestos campaigners in Asia have joined forces with international colleagues to declare their commitment to end asbestos use in a letter published today on this website. Urging asbestos stakeholders to take responsibility for their actions and adopt safer asbestos-free technologies, the activists point out that “if you profit from the sale of asbestos, you will be held liable for the diseases you have caused and the damage you have done, not only to your workers but also to members of the public who have been injured by using your products or breathing the air your factories have poisoned.” [Read full article]

Nov 25, 2015

A workshop entitled “Using Chrysotile Safe (sic) and Under Control” was held in Hanoi, Vietnam on November 18, 2015. The title is a poorly translated adaptation of discredited asbestos industry rhetoric extolling the “safe use of asbestos.” The pro-asbestos stance of the speakers at the event organized by the Roofing Sheet Association was challenged by civil society representatives who have been mobilizing support for a Vietnam asbestos ban over recent years. Commenting on the failure of the lobbyists to convince delegates that asbestos could be used safely in Vietnam or elsewhere, Dr. Tuan Tran said: “the speakers’ motivation and lack of credence were obvious.” [Read full article]

Nov 12, 2015

November is asbestos awareness month in Australia. Personal initiatives taking place this month are complimented by more formal activities such as public outreach projects on the east coast, ecumenical services on the west coast and various activities in between. With the world’s only Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency, Australia is at the cutting edge of efforts to deal with the industrial and environmental legacy of asbestos use. Despite all that is being done, residents in the toxic town of Baryulgil, New South Wales continue to die prematurely decades after the asbestos mine was closed. Compensation is rarely obtained and medical services are woeful. [Read full article]

Oct 16, 2015

Recognizing that Britain is in the grip of an “asbestos crisis,” a Parliamentary Group has today called for the complete eradication of the asbestos hazard in a report entitled: “The asbestos crisis. Why Britain needs an eradication law.” This move closely follows a demand that the European Commission “create and finance a Europe-wide programme aimed at the removal of all asbestos from public and private buildings.” It is now well past time for the governments in Westminster and Brussels to confront their respective asbestos challenges and heed the demands from civil society for “a safe, phased and planned removal of all the asbestos that still remains in place…” [Read full article]

Oct 5, 2015

A paper presented at Mesothelioma UK’s 10th Patients and Carer Day, which was held in Stratford-upon-Avon on October 2, 2015, was entitled: Asbestos – What Would Shakespeare Say? The presentation examined the history of the global asbestos industry and highlighted explosive new mortality data; the author considered how Britain’s most renowned dramatist might have reacted to the deadly epidemic taking hundreds of thousands of lives every year. Examples of recent grassroots activities undertaken in Colombia, India, Vietnam and South Africa were discussed with the speaker reaffirming the commitment of the global ban asbestos movement to an asbestos-free future. [Read full article]

Sep 29, 2015

European asbestos victims and campaigning groups have issued this press release to highlight statistics presented today at the 2015 conference of the European Trade Union Confederation which document the huge death toll caused by exposure to asbestos in the European Union (EU). According to the new estimates, there are 47,000 EU deaths from just two types of asbestos-related cancer every year. Commenting on the findings of the paper: Eliminating Occupational Cancer in Europe, Laurie Kazan-Allen, Coordinator of the International Ban Asbestos Secretariat, called on the authorities to “make good on their promise to constitute a European Asbestos Taskforce as a matter of utmost urgency.” [Read full article]

Sep 25, 2015

In a press release issued on September 14, 2015 headlined “The government buries individual access,” the French National Association for the Defense of Asbestos Victims (ANDEVA) denounced a report used by the government to reject calls for wider access to social security benefits, including early retirement, for asbestos-exposed workers. The decision was, ANDEVA said, based on a financial analysis of costs that was “utterly wrong, both morally and technically.” In an attempt to clarify the issues involved, questions were put to Marc Hindry, an ANDEVA spokesman; the dialogue which ensued confirms the Government’s determination to minimize liabilities at the expense of the injured. [Read full article]

Sep 22, 2015

This month we mark the 15th anniversary of the ground-breaking Global Asbestos Congress 2000: Past, Present and Future [Congresso Mundial do Amianto: Passado, Presente e Futuro] (GAC 2000) which took place over four days (September 17-20, 2000) in Osasco, Brazil, a municipality that was for decades the site of Latin America’s largest asbestos-cement complex. In a tribute to the vision of GAC 2000 pioneers, delegates from Asia, Africa, Europe and North America have described the impact the Congress had, not only on campaigns for asbestos victims’ rights in their home countries but also on the global struggle for social and environmental justice. [Read full article]

Sep 21, 2015

Recalling the participation of several South Africans in the world’s first asbestos victims’ event, Dr. Sophia Kisting – the Executive Director of South Africa’s National Institute for Occupational Health – described the impact of this experience on the delegation: “For South Africans, just about six years into our change from the cruel divisions of apartheid, it was a glimpse of the possibilities of a constitutional democracy to help redress the crippling inequalities and divisions of the past.” Expressing “deep appreciation” on behalf of her colleagues, Dr. Kisting highlighted the importance of international solidarity in the global struggle against asbestos injustice. [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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