Article Abstracts Archive

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Displaying first 25 items in reverse date order (default)
 

Australian Scandal Grows amidst Global Confirmation of Asbestos Hazard

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]
 

125 Years and Counting

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]
 

Cancer Crisis Looms as Asbestos Use Continues

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]
 

HSE: Unfit for Purpose

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]
 

Auditing J&J’s Phase-Out of Toxic Baby Powder

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]
 

Corporate Chutzpah in Brazil!

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]
 

Post-Asbestos Landscapes 2024

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]
 

Year Round-Up 2023

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]
 

Historic Victory for Belgian Asbestos Victims

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]
 

Taking the Ban Asbestos Fight to Brasilia 2023

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]
 

Asbestos Cement: The Evidence is Irrefutable

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]
 

Press Release: Asbestos Victims Worldwide Call for Action by Brazil’s Supreme Court

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]
 

Our Friend Mavis

Nov 24, 2023

Mavis Nye was a fighter. She fought to save her own life and that of people in the UK and abroad, many of whom she never met. From the moment she was diagnosed with mesothelioma, she refused to accept the inevitability of short post-diagnosis survival typically predicted for mesothelioma patients. When the news of her death was reported, social media was awash with comments and condolences from asbestos victims, campaigners, occupational safety and health activists, barristers, solicitors, medical practitioners, scientists, technical experts, asbestos removal specialists and others. The outpouring of emotion from such a range of people not only reflected the impact of her work but also showed the depth of loss experienced by those of us lucky enough to have known Mavis. [Read full article]
 

Two Decades After Australia Banned Asbestos

Nov 22, 2023

Despite the fact that asbestos use was prohibited in Australia in 2003, the asbestos hazard poses a grave risk to human life. As Australians mark the 20th anniversary of the ban at country-wide events between November 21and 26, 2023 – Asbestos Awareness Week – thousands continue to die every year from asbestos-related diseases and toxic exposures remain all too common. As Melita Markey of the Asbestos Diseases Society of Australia (ADSA) told us: “Currently, there is no priority in any Australian public health or industrial diseases strategy to develop lifesaving treatments for asbestos and dust diseases sufferers.” The ADSA and its trade union partners are calling on the Government to fund research into occupational diseases “as an immediate public health priority.” [Read full article]
 

What’s Going on at Brazil’s Supreme Court?

Nov 13, 2023

Brazilian asbestos victims are used to waiting for their day in court, with many claimants dying before their cases are adjudicated. In tandem with the long struggle for personal justice is the national quest for eliminating the causes of these injuries: the mining, processing and use of asbestos. It was, therefore, a cause of grave concern to campaigners when a scheduled decision of the Supreme Court, due at the beginning of November, was inexplicably and indefinitely postponed. With the Court having previously ruled that the commercial exploitation of asbestos was banned throughout the country (2017), the only issue left to resolve was when mining would cease. In the legal vacuum created by this postponement, asbestos production will continue. [Read full article]
 

Cambodia Asbestos Ban by 2025!

Nov 7, 2023

Last week in Phnom Penh, officials from the Cambodian Government confirmed plans to end asbestos use by 2025 at a high-profile workshop organized by the Cambodian Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training and Australia’s Union Aid Abroad. Participating in the meeting were representatives of 11 Ministries, employer organisations, trade unions and civil society groups. International as well as Cambodian speakers explored the need for mandatory protocols to protect workers and members of the public from potentially deadly exposures to toxic products such as asbestos-cement roofing material which has been widely used throughout the country. [Read full article]
 

Corporate Happy Endings, Human Heartbreak

Oct 31, 2023

It seems that asbestos corporations from around the world are rising from the ashes of their crimes to, once again, become the lauded creators of employment opportunities and generators of national income streams. Their manipulation of financial strategies and off-loading of asbestos liabilities have enabled companies like Eternit S.A. (Brazil), Cape (UK) and Saint-Gobain (France) to shrug off as minor inconveniences the damage done as a result of historic corporate policies. Whilst shareholders and executives bask in the glow of robust corporate balance sheets, asbestos victims and their families face years of ill-health and premature death. Asbestos victims’ groups, workers’ collectives, trade unions and legal experts remain united in their determination to hold these guilty companies to account. [Read full article]
 

It’s Official: Asbestos Use Banned in Ukraine

Oct 25, 2023

On October 1, 2023, legislation banning asbestos use and providing safeguards to protect Ukrainians from deadly workplace exposures came into effect. The asbestos prohibitions were stipulated in Article 28, provision 3 of the law outlining the revised constitution of Ukraine’s Public Health System. The implementation of laws which brought Ukraine into harmony with EU Member States was accomplished despite fierce opposition from the country’s asbestos-producing neighbors: Russia & Kazakhstan. Commenting on this news Welsh Parliamentarian Mick Antoniw, himself of Ukrainian descent, said: “The fact that this has been achieved during a time when the country has been at war with Russia makes this accomplishment all the more extraordinary.” [Read full article]
 

Opposition to Asbestos Use Accelerates – Even in China

Oct 11, 2023

Work-related deaths now account for one million fatalities every year; this figure is expected to double by 2030. Last year the International Labor Organization recognized that a safe and healthy working environment was a fundamental human right; a high-level declaration adopted in September 2023 at an international conference in Germany acknowledged that pollution was the world’s largest risk factor for disease and premature death. Pursuant to these developments, optimism is building that efforts to adopt a Biological Hazards Convention by 2027 will succeed. Toughening up chemical safety protocols will no doubt hasten calls to outlaw the use of the world’s worst occupational killer: asbestos. [Read full article]
 

Global Asbestos Trade 2023: Spotlight on India

Sep 28, 2023

The release in August 2023 of updated asbestos trade data provided food for thought. While much seems to have changed since I first began studying the industry over 30 years ago – including the dwindling number of countries producing and consuming asbestos – the fact that 1,330,000 metric tons (t) are still being used every year, despite all that is known about the asbestos hazard, is appalling. Amongst the points of interest noted in the new data were: India remained the world’s biggest asbestos user, importing 424,000t in 2022; just five countries accounted for 85% of all asbestos consumed worldwide; apparent domestic consumption in Russia jumped by nearly 60% from 2021 to 2022. [Read full article]
 

Asbestos Anomalies 2023

Sep 26, 2023

There are a few of us, people who see the world through an asbestos filter. People like me who go to a tourist destination in Western Australia to gawp at the deteriorating asbestos-cement roofing on the outbuildings of a defunct whaling station; or someone like Fernanda Giannasi who zeroed in on a display case containing an asbestos hood for firefighters at the Museum of Japanese Immigration in São Paulo; or Mark Ogden who gave an asbestos masterclass to the unsuspecting museum chairman of a facility housing military memorabilia. For members of this select tribe, I would like to draw your attention to a few curious developments that have piqued my interest over recent months. [Read full article]
 

Global Cancer Increase and the Asbestos Hazard

Sep 20, 2023

The world is experiencing an explosion of cancers in younger people. Whilst “dietary risk factors (diet high in red meat, low in fruits, high in sodium and low in milk, etc), alcohol consumption and tobacco use” were postulated as the main risk factors, human exposures to cancer-causing asbestos should not be overlooked. Many of the people in the age 50 and under cohort now presenting with cancer were born in the 1970s and 1980s, decades during which the global use of asbestos was at its highest. According to the World Health Organization, exposure to: “all types of asbestos cause lung cancer, mesothelioma, cancer of the larynx and ovary, and asbestosis (fibrosis of the lungs).” [Read full article]
 

Multinational Campaign Denounces “Sportswashing”

Sep 12, 2023

On September 8, French asbestos victims endorsed action by their British counterparts demonstrating outside the Stade de France, Paris to denounce “sportswashing” of asbestos crimes by a multinational corporation headquartered in Montpelier, France. Solidarity with the protest was expressed in a press release by asbestos victims’ groups and campaigners in Latin America, Asia, Europe and Oceania, with Sugio Furuya, Coordinator of the Asian Ban Asbestos Network, saying: “Asbestos victims around the world have paid a high price for the profits made by asbestos companies. It is only right that some of the accumulated wealth be used for the benefit of those whose lives have been irreparably damaged by the immoral activities of Cape and others who prioritized corporate profits over human life.” [Read full article]
 

Press Release: Victims Denounce “Sportswashing,” Demanding Corporate Accountability

Sep 8 2023

A global alliance of asbestos victims’ groups and civil society campaigners from Asia, Oceania, Latin America and Europe today issued a formal declaration of solidarity with British and French asbestos victims’ groups calling for restitution by the Cape Asbestos Company, a former asbestos multinational. Instead of acceding to a request for a £10 million donation for potentially life-saving medical research into asbestos-related diseases, Cape’s parent company is sponsoring two rugby teams competing in the Rugby World Cup 2023. Coordinator of the Asian Ban Asbestos Network Sugio Furuya said: “It is only right that some of the accumulated wealth be used for the benefit of those whose lives have been irreparably damaged by the immoral activities of Cape and others who prioritized corporate profits over human life.” [Read full article]
 

Threat to New School Term after 13 Years of Tory Misrule

Sep 5, 2023

During the summer school holiday, news began circulating of a troubling situation in UK schools and public buildings. By the time children were getting ready for the new school year, the “situation” had become a full blown crisis as news spread that more than a hundred schools would not reopen due to the hazard posed by deteriorating reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete material. Considering the fact that the majority of schools still contain asbestos, the surveying work and remediation of affected structures will be both a long and expensive process. The Conservatives had plenty of warnings about the deterioration of the educational infrastructure; they chose not to listen. Unfortunately, it will be the children and teachers who will pay the price for their political complacency and maladministration. [Read full article]