International Ban Asbestos Secretariat

International Ban Asbestos Secretariat



News text:

Sep 24, 2017

After years of protests by local people and environmental groups, an announcement that work will begin on October 15 to cover over 90,000 tonnes of asbestos waste dumped on a site in Toledo, Spain – which will be then be fenced – off has been welcomed as a stop-gap measure by members of the “My Neighborhood Without Asbestos Platform”. A sum of €2.5 million has been allocated by the authorities to undertake this work; €14m would be needed to completely decontaminate the site which is the ultimate goal of the campaigners concerned about public health. See: El 15 de octubre comenzarán los trabajos para "tapar" los restos de amianto en Toledo [October 15 work will begin to “cover” the asbestos waste in Toledo].

Sep 24, 2017

A Nepalese newspaper article reported a meeting last week in Kathmandu during which regional experts, including representatives of the World Health Organization and the Asian Ban Asbestos Network, and local campaigners emphasized the need to enforce Nepal’s prohibitions banning asbestos use, with Ram Charitra Sah, director of the Center for Public Health and Environmental Development, revealing that despite these prohibitions the import, sale and use of asbestos products continues. Measures for ensuring safe disposal of asbestos waste were called for to prevent further toxic exposures. See: फाइबरयुक्त धातु प्रयोग रोक्न जोड [Emphasizing the need to prevent [asbestos] fiber use.

Sep 24, 2017

The environmental impact of the earthquake that hit Mexico City and nearby areas on September 19, 2017 is being assessed, with media reports detailing the multiple hazards from asbestos, heavy metals and other toxins faced by first responders and local people: “Experts warn the lingering dust triggered by the quake poses life-long health risks for the survivors.” In Mexico, the use of asbestos-cement building products is routine; average asbestos fiber consumption for 2010-2016 was around 10,800 tonnes per annum, with figures of 12,077 and 4,529 tonnes being recorded for 2015 and 2016, respectively. See: Mexico's earthquake survivors face the same crippling health issues as 9/11 first responders due to toxic cloud of concrete, asbestos, fungus and more.

Sep 24, 2017

The multinational Johnson & Johnson (J&J) is facing 5,000 US lawsuits from women alleging that the use of J&J baby powder products contaminated with asbestos has caused them to develop ovarian cancer. Lawyers representing 50 women plaintiffs in Kansas City, Missouri allege that the company knew that its talc products included asbestos fibers and that exposure to those fibers could cause ovarian cancer: J&J’s talc, they claim “is not now, nor has it ever been, free from asbestos and asbestiform fibers.’’ See: J&J Was Alerted to Risk of Asbestos in Talc in ’70s, Files Show.

Sep 22, 2017

Bristol-Myers Squibb is progressing trials in 19 countries for mesothelioma patients ineligible for surgery, including those at specialist centers in Brazil: Barretos Cancer Hospital, São Paulo and the Institute of Cancer of São Paulo. The phase 3 randomized study is looking at the efficacy of immunotherapy protocols in combination with: Nivolumab, Ipilimumab, Pemetrexed, Cisplatin and Carboplatin. Trials are underway in: Australia, Belgium, Chile, Colombia, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, Poland, Romania, South Africa, Switzerland, Turkey, the UK and the US. See: Estudo clínico sobre mesotelioma pleural recruta pacientes no Brasil [Clinical trial on pleural mesothelioma recruits patients in Brazil].

Sep 22, 2017

At a press conference on September 21, 2017, Korea’s Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon called for immediate measures to ensure that Korea’s schools were asbestos-free after reports that contamination had been found in many classrooms even after remediation work had been carried out. During a weekly government policy coordination meeting, the PM announced that: “The education, labor and environment ministries are jointly carrying out an inspection into whether asbestos still remains at 1,226 schools that have carried out asbestos-removal projects, and asbestos was found in many of them.” See: PM calls for measures to ensure school classrooms free of asbestos.

Sep 22, 2017

A stricter regime for preventing asbestos exposures in Western Australia came into effect on September 20, 2017 with the revision of the Health (Asbestos) Regulations 1992. The 22-page document addresses the ubiquity of asbestos-cement building products throughout the state and mandates strict measures to prevent the use, purchase or resale of these products and stipulates protocols for handling, removal and disposal of toxic debris. Substantial fines can be levied by authorized officers who are, along with Chief Health Officers, given wide-ranging discretionary powers to enforce the regs. See: Health (Asbestos) Regulations 1992; Updated September 20, 2017.

Sep 21, 2017

Work by ban asbestos campaigners in Nepal was reinforced on September 18 and 19 with the holding of asbestos activities in the capital, Kathmandu. The events, which were supported by Nepal’s Center for Public Health and Environment Development, the Asian Ban Asbestos Network (ABAN), the Asian Network for the Rights of Occupational and Environmental Victims (ANROEV) and other partnering groups, were attended by leading campaigners from throughout the region, including delegates from Nepal, Japan, Hong Kong, Korea, India, Indonesia and Australia. See: Picture of delegates.

Sep 21, 2017

On September 20, 2017, one hundred local people and environmental campaigners – belonging to the association “Stop the Salau mine” – who are opposed to the restarting of tungsten mining at the Salau mine in Couflens, a commune in the Ariège department in south-western France, protested asbestos testing at the mine as a precursor to the commencement of tungsten mining operations. A license had been granted to the Apollo Minerals company by the prefect of Ariège for the asbestos sampling to be carried out. See: Ariège: les opposants à la mine du Salau manifestent contre les recherches d'amiante [Ariège: Opponents of the Salau mine protest against asbestos research].

Sep 21, 2017

According to Sri Lanka’s Minister of Industry and Commerce Rishard Bathiudeen, domestically produced red clay roofing tiles are now in high demand due to national asbestos prohibitions set to come into effect in 2018 which will ban all asbestos imports. This restriction has led to an increase in the production of clay roofing tiles, some of which are exported to the UK. Sri Lanka’s ceramic and glass industries employ 55,000 workers. In 2015 and 2016, Sri Lanka imported 34,505 and 47,379 tonnes of asbestos fiber, respectively. See: Red clay roof tiles in high demand as asbestos ban looms.

Sep 20, 2017

The “National Agreement on the Controlled Use of Asbestos” between Brazil’s National Committee of Asbestos Workers and the National Confederation of [Asbestos] Workers in Industry and the country’s asbestos trade association the Chrysotile Institute (Instituto Brasileiro do Crisotila), which allowed for the contravention of mandatory health and safety measures, has been annulled by a court ruling. See: A farsa do lobby do amianto:Sentença – Acordo nacional do uso seguro do amianto celebrado entre CNTA/CNTI e IBC é extinto [The asbestos lobby farce: Judgment – National agreement on the safe use of asbestos signed between CNTA/CNTI and IBC is extinct].

Sep 19, 2017

A September 16 commentary on a Brazilian legal website clarified the content and ramifications of Supreme Court (STF) decisions handed down in August regarding the constitutionality of state asbestos bans and the unconstitutionality of the federal government’s asbestos law. The explanation is clear – the STF is competent to declare unconstitutional rules adopted as the basis for decisions even if those rules were not disputed by those bringing the litigation, in this case the National Confederation of [Asbestos] Industrial Workers. See: É proibida a utilização de qualquer forma de amianto no Brasil [The use of any form of asbestos in Brazil is prohibited].

Sep 19, 2017

On September 8, 2017 a Consumer Product Recall was issued by Health Canada, the department of the Canadian government responsible for protecting public health, for a series of make-up products marketed under the Justice Just Shine brand, including pressed powder, eye shadow, bronzer, shimmer powder etc. Trace amounts of asbestos were found in Just Shine Shimmer Powder imported from China; other products from the same manufacturer were recalled as a “cautionary measure.” Thousands of units were sold in Canada between February and August 2017. Tests done in the US also found asbestos in the “Just Shine Shimmer Powder” make-up sold by Justice. See: Justice (Tween Brands Inc.) recalls various cosmetics.

Sep 19, 2017

Guidance issued by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) in September 2017 entitled “a14 asbestos essentials,” explains good practice for the removal of asbestos cement products from small structures which can be undertaken by non-specialists as non-licensed tasks. Topics considered in the 3-page factsheet include preparing the work area, equipment, procedure, overlaying AC sheets, removal, cleaning, disposal, personal decontamination, clearance and checking off. The list of essential HSE reading material included in this leaflet is informative. See: Removing asbestos cement (AC) sheets, gutters etc and dismantling a small AC structure.

Sep 18, 2017

At a September 14 press conference in Zaporizhia, a city in south-eastern Ukraine, a representative of the Ukrainian Chrysotile Association – responding to an announcement some weeks ago that Ukraine planned to ban asbestos – said that the country’s “economy is not ready to completely abandon the use of asbestos.” Asbestos industry lobbyist Yury Torosyan told journalists that: “For cars, especially heavy trucks, as well as railway carriages, there is virtually no alternative to asbestos-containing [brake] pads.” See: Экономика Украины не готова к отказу от асбеста – профильное объединение [The economy of Ukraine is not ready to abandon asbestos - a profile association].

Sep 18, 2017

A September 17 feature on the website of the Canadian Broadcasting Company marked the 25th anniversary of the demise of Cassiar, British Colombia – a Canadian company town that was centered around an asbestos mine. For 40 years this town was home to 1,500 people; in 1992 the mine shut down unexpectedly when the owners went into receivership. Residents were told to vacate their properties and the town was razed to the ground. A summer reunion this year provided the opportunity for many former locals to return to Cassiar to say a final farewell. See: ‘It was like one big family’: 25 years later, a B.C. ghost town's former residents still miss their home.

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]

Jul 9, 2017

On June 16, 2017, South Africa’s Youth Day, scores of schoolchildren, teaching staff and school governors were brought together by the non-governmental organization Asbestos Interest Group to take part in an asbestos outreach activity in Kuruman, a former asbestos mining area in the Northern Cape Province. Participants from nine local schools received information about the area’s environmental asbestos hazard, took part in a candle lighting ceremony and created artwork depicting the region’s asbestos legacy. Trophies were presented to primary and intermediate level pupils whose entries won prizes in the art competition. [Read full article]

Jul 7, 2017

At the conclusion of an international asbestos seminar held in Manchester on Wednesday, July 5, 2017 asbestos victims’ groups from Europe, Asia and Australia issued a solidarity statement in the run-up to Action Mesothelioma Day (July 7) condemning the behaviour of asbestos companies in their home countries and the continuing activities of those seeking to profit from “this industry of mass destruction.” “The existence of the global asbestos trade,” is they wrote “an anathema and an abomination.” Paying tribute to the asbestos dead, they expressed their determination to continue the campaign to shut down the global asbestos trade and progress justice for all those who have been injured. [Read full article]

Jun 26, 2017

At a press conference held today in Kiev, Ukraine, the Ministry of Health announced that the use of all types of asbestos, including chrysotile (white) asbestos is being banned in Ukraine. The new regulations were achieved in the face of fierce opposition from domestic and foreign asbestos lobbyists. This is no surprise given that amongst Ukraine’s neighbors are two countries which account for around 65% of global asbestos output. Between 2009 and 2015, Ukraine imported an average of ~42,200 tonnes of asbestos a year. This ban will adversely impact on the financial prospects of Russian and Kazakhstan asbestos mining companies, however, perhaps of even greater import is the strategic significance of Ukraine’s action. [Read full article]

June 20, 2017

On June 8, 2017, an international asbestos conference was held in Bologna, Italy, an area with a high incidence of asbestos mortality due to hazardous exposures in the railway industry, at asbestos-cement production facilities, at a local plant which manufactured waterproofing materials and at power stations. Representatives of asbestos victims’ groups from Italy and Brazil updated delegates on progress achieved and challenges remaining in the struggle for asbestos justice. Trade unionists, scientists, an author, a teacher, a Mayor and campaigners – including Dr Agata Mazzeo whose PhD dissertation focused on the fight for asbestos victims’ rights in Brazil and Italy – also made presentations. [Read full article]

Jun 19, 2017

In the run-up to the UK’s annual Action Mesothelioma Day, this press release by UK and Japanese groups confirms the attendance at events in five cities of members of a Japanese delegation of asbestos victims, relatives and campaigners. Speaking on behalf of the visitors, Sugio Furuya said that: “The members of our delegation are eager to show solidarity with UK victims and to share experiences in order to progress the campaigns for asbestos justice at home and abroad.” See: Japanese version of this press release or for the English version select the “Read full article" link. [Read full article]

May 30, 2017

A seminar entitled “Accountability in Shipbreaking” took place in London this month. Amongst the speakers were six leading experts on the current situation regarding the annual disposal of hundreds of sea-going vessels on tidal beaches in Asia. The contentious disposal of the North Sea Producer – an oil and gas floating production storage and offloading vessel based for many years 250 km north-east of Aberdeen – was discussed. The export of the ship from the UK on May 17, 2016, its arrival in Bangladesh on August 14, 2016 and plans for its demolition at a yard in Chittagong contravened international instruments intended to prevent industrialized countries from dumping toxic ships in developing countries. [Read full article]

May 11, 2017

This report, prepared by the Peoples Training & Research Centre for the Occupational and Environmental Health Network India (OEHNI) and launched at press conferences in Ahmedabad, Mumbai and Delhi on Friday, April 28, 2017 (International Workers’ Memorial Day), delineates the scale of India’s asbestos tragedy. News coverage about the publication of this ground-breaking document (see: Gujarat tops India with 49 percent use in hazardous asbestos, causing occupational disease, cancer: Report ) highlighted the high incidence of disability and disease amongst workers from power plants, asbestos mines, asbestos cement factories and small processing units. [Read full article]

May 10, 2017

The deliberations of hundreds of international delegates in Geneva and the actions of United Nations personnel involved in the 8th Conference of the Parties to the Rotterdam Convention, which drew to a close on May 5, 2017, were closely monitored by the global community of campaigners working to prevent human exposures to dangerous chemicals such as white asbestos. Commenting on the “moral cowardice and corruption” at the Convention, Brian Kohler, from the IndustriALL Global Union, said: “Hundreds of thousands will die as the result of the inaction of the Parties to the Convention, who chose to cave in to fierce lobbying and bullying by financial interests rather than do what they know is right.” [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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