Article Abstracts Archive

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Displaying first 25 items in reverse date order (default)
 

Conrad Atkinson: Artist, “Infant Terrible,” Activist and Friend: June 15, 1940 – October 8, 2022

Oct 31, 2022

How many people are there who make you smile? I’m betting you can count them on the fingers of one hand. Conrad Atkinson was one of them. I first encountered Conrad some years ago at an international conference in Barrow-in-Furness. He spoke about his landmark piece: Asbestos: The Lungs of Capitalism showing, if memory serves me right, slides of the artwork. I didn’t get it. In 2019, I had the opportunity to see this work at the Tate when museum conservators readied it for installation. I was blown away by its scale, attention to detail, historical content, vivid coloration and vivacity. Here were the lives of people I had read about and worked with spread across a huge museum space. Conrad had studied the daily reality of ordinary people, distilled it through his unique artistic filter and preserved it forever. [Read full article]
 

São Paulo Blame Game

Oct 11, 2022

Whose responsibility is the floating can of worms which is the São Paulo? At 32,800 tonnes fully loaded, Brazil’s 265 meter long former flagship has now become a symbol of government malfeasance and criminality. The Brazilian Navy, duplicating the actions of its French counterpart (2000), had hoped to off-load the vessel to a new owner. Clearly, the Latin phrase “caveat emptor” (buyer beware) was not part of the lexicon of Sök Denizcilik, the Turkish shipyard which bought the São Paulo in 2021 for BRL 10.5 million (~US$2m) despite the fact that it was likely to contain asbestos, PCBs, lead/cadmium paint as well as traces of radioactive material. The ship which set sail in August 2022 for a dismantling yard is now back in Brazilian waters having been refused entry into Turkey. It’s fate remains uncertain. [Read full article]
 

European Commission’s Asbestos Action Plan under Attack

Oct 10, 2022

Last month, the European Commission released long-awaited protocols to address the ongoing asbestos epidemic amongst the Member States of the EU. In 2019, there were 70,000 asbestos deaths in the EU; each one was avoidable. The contents of the Commission’s program seemed to generate as much negative as positive coverage with groups representing workers and labor federations condemning the Commission’s prioritization of commercial interests over the lives of workers. In October 2021, the European Parliament had voted for a new asbestos occupational exposure limit of 0.001 f/cm³; however, the Commission’s 2022 proposal will only impose a limit of 0.01 f/cm³. The new level would be “significantly” higher than the 0.002 f/cm³ limit currently in place in some EU member states. [Read full article]
 

Advancing the Global Campaign for Asbestos Justice 2022

Sep 21, 2022

A quote made famous by Vladimir Lenin: “There are decades where nothing happens; and there are weeks where decades happen,” sprang to mind when I was reviewing progress made this month (September 2022). Recent news received of developments in Latin America, Europe and Asia made manifest the huge strides being achieved in the struggle for asbestos justice. The September breakthroughs were the result of long-term efforts by grassroots campaigners, politicians, civil servants, asbestos victims’ groups, non-governmental organizations, national associations and others working individually and collaboratively to address asbestos corruption and illegalities. [Read full article]
 

Ukraine Bans Asbestos, Finally!

Sep 9, 2022

On September 6, 2022 Parliamentary bill No. 4142, which prohibited the use of all types of asbestos and products containing it in Ukraine, was enacted. As a result, said Ukrainian politician Olena Shulyak: “Finally, we will get rid of the health-threatening Soviet construction legacy and replace it with modern building materials that will preserve the health of both builders and residents of new buildings.” The road to achieving this ban was not straightforward due to aggressive lobbying by Ukrainian and foreign pro-asbestos stakeholders. Judicial as well as legislative actions were blocked on multiple occasions, testing both the stamina and conviction of campaigners in Parliament and civil society organizations. [Read full article]
 

Kazakh Producers Chasing Russian Asbestos Markets

Sep 6, 2022

With the imposition of trade sanctions on Russian businesses, traditional transport routes were blocked not just for the aggressor but for others who used their ports. A case in point was the situation faced by Kostanay Minerals JSC, Kazakhstan’s sole chrysotile (white) asbestos conglomerate, which had until the outbreak of the 2022 war sent its exports via the Russian ports of Novorossiysk on the Black Sea and St. Petersburg on the Baltic Sea. After initial logistical difficulties which forced Kostanay to cease mining operations, new channels of transportation were developed to allow the export of asbestos fiber to resume. An assessment of Russian asbestos exports is not possible at this time due to the lack of reliable data. [Read full article]
 

The São Paulo: International Hot Potato

Sep 1, 2022

Bowing to the inevitable, on Tuesday August 30, 2022 the Brazilian Agency which had authorized the export of the Navy’s former flagship – the São Paulo – to Turkey called for its immediate return to Brazil following the Turkish Government’s cancellation of its import permit. The international furore caused by the ship’s journey to an Izmir dismantling yard has been colossal with widespread unrest in Turkey over the continued desecration of the environment under the Erdoğan Government. As of August 31, 2022, the São Paulo was off the coast of Morocco. The Basel Action Network which is monitoring the transit of the Dutch tug pulling the aircraft carrier says that the speed has remained consistent and the vessel is on course towards Turkey. [Read full article]
 

Reflections on Ukraine’s Independence Day

Aug 24, 2022

Today (August 24, 2022), is Independence Day in Ukraine. Under current circumstances, Ukrainians could be forgiven for exuberant displays of nationalism as they celebrate their 31st year of freedom. And yet, even after more than three decades of independence, the country is still under attack. Fighting against the Russians and their collaborators is now a fact of life not only in the streets but also in the Parliament in Kyiv where work to ban asbestos is under a constant bombardment from asbestos industry propagandists determined to quash the sovereign right of Ukraine to act in the best interests of its citizens and outlaw the use of an acknowledged carcinogen as other civilized countries have done. [Read full article]
 

Johnson and Johnson U-Turn – Finally!

Aug 15, 2022

Within hours of Johnson and Johnson’s August 11, 2022 announcement that it planned to withdraw its iconic talc-based baby powder from sale in all global markets next year, the news had spread around the world. Coverage of this development was published in the UK, Ireland, Portugal, Spain, Germany, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Italy, Greece, Ukraine, Russia, Turkey, Qatar, India, China, Japan, Indonesia, Vietnam, Malaysia, Israel, the Gulf States, Brazil and elsewhere. What was remarkable was not the massive interest in this story but the fact that not one of the articles asked why toxic baby powder which had been withdrawn in North America in 2020 was still being sold in their country in 2022. [Read full article]
 

Betrayed Three Times Over!

Aug 12, 2022

Global campaigners have today condemned the decision of the Spanish Supreme Court which this week ruled against the grieving family of José María Iñigo, a famous TV presenter and personality. Mr. Iñigo died in 2018 from mesothelioma, the signature cancer associated with asbestos exposure. He had worked for years in TV studios in Madrid which were full of asbestos-containing insulation products. Despite the evidence, the Court found that his lawyers had not proved that his death was caused by workplace exposures. In today’s press release, activists from Latin America, Europe and Asia expressed outrage at this decision and condolences with the family’s loss [Haga clic aquí para ver la versión en español del artículo completo]. [Read full article]
 

International Mystery – Where is the São Paulo?

Aug 9, 2022

According to a ruling by a regional court in Rio de Janeiro State, the São Paulo – the former flagship of the Brazilian Navy – should be on its way back to a Brazilian port having set sail on August 4 on its way to a dismantling yard in Turkey. The court issued an order that the ship return to Guanabara Bay as a “precautionary measure.” It has been reported that on August 5, the Supreme Court of Brazil also ordered the São Paulo to return to base and not leave Brazilian waters. As of now, the location of the vessel remains unknown, with one Brazilian military expert speculating that the ship may have turned off its GPS to mask its current position. With the temporary disappearance of the vessel, media attention is growing not only in Brazil but also in Europe. Where is the São Paulo? [Read full article]
 

Mesothelioma 2022: Global Disaster, National Tragedy

Jul 18, 2022

Developments in July 2022 have corroborated the long-standing consensus regarding the global catastrophe caused by the widespread and unregulated use of asbestos. The month began with an announcement by the International Agency for Research on Cancer that, following a consultation of international experts, it had been confirmed that firefighters were at increased risk of contracting mesothelioma, the signature cancer associated with asbestos exposure. Events held by UK asbestos campaigners on July 1 raised awareness of the nationwide epidemic killing 5,000+ Britons every year. A few days later, data published by the Health and Safety Executive confirmed that asbestos mortality had increased by more than 6% in just one year. [Read full article]
 

Summertime Hope for Saint Gobain’s Asbestos Victims?

Jul 13, 2022

On July 7, 2022 Judge Craig Whitley from the US Bankruptcy court in Charlotte, North Carolina, issued the latest ruling in the long running saga of the potentially “fraudulent” bankruptcy of the French-owned American company CertainTeed LLC. The fact that he found favor with allegations that the parent company Compagnie de Saint-Gobain SA (Saint Gobain) and its CertainTeed materials division had “hindered the rights of asbestos victims,” breathed new life into the fight to reinstate the rights of dying plaintiffs. The process by which Saint Gobain’s lawyers used the “Texas two-step” to off-load the asbestos liabilities of CertainTeed was forensically exposed by whistleblower Amiel Gross, whose 2021 testimony was viewed with favor by the Judge. [Read full article]
 

Asbestos: EU: 1, UK: 0

Jun 30, 2022

On June 28, 2022, the European Environment Agency uploaded a report, entitled Beating cancer – the role of Europe’s environment, which laid out a multi-pronged EU strategy for reducing the cost of deadly exposures to toxins. In the 27 EU Member States, ~2.7 million people are diagnosed with cancer and 1.3 million die from it every year. When looking at the high-profile program to tackle Europe’s asbestos legacy, even the most hardened Brexiteer must have pause for thought. No such programs exist in the UK. A 2021/22 Parliamentary enquiry into the Government’s asbestos policy was hampered from the start by its extremely limited scope. The Committee’s April 21, 2022 report identified significant failings by the Health and Safety Executive. The Government has failed to respond to the report. [Read full article]
 

Russia Violates Fundamental Right to a Safe and Healthy Working Environment

Jun 20, 2022

In a media release on June 15, 2022, groups campaigning for occupational rights and social justice denounced a Russian-led cabal for blocking United Nations progress on protecting global populations from a class 1 carcinogen: chrysotile (white) asbestos. A veto by 5 countries of a resolution tabled on June 14 to include chrysotile on Annex III of the Rotterdam Convention was a “gross violation of the spirit of the Rotterdam Convention and in total contradiction to the decision taken at the International Labour Conference last Friday by all ILO member countries… to elevate a safe and health working environment to a fundamental principle and right to work.” [Read full article]
 

Fake News, Espionage, Threats and Conspiracies: A Normal Day for the Asbestos Lobby

Jun 13, 2022

The June 2022 issue of the magazine produced by the NGO Solidar Suisse, which is available online in French, German, and English was on the theme of asbestos, with chapters about the impact of ongoing asbestos consumption in Asia and Africa, the legacy of asbestos use in Switzerland and the work of asbestos lobbyists to undermine efforts to address the global asbestos pandemic. This article is the extended version of my contribution to the above issue. [Read full article]
 

Russian Assault on United Nations’ Convention

Jun 6, 2022

The bloodthirsty attack by Russia on Ukraine has led to two resolutions by the UN General Assembly condemning the invasion and another resolution suspending Russia from the Human Rights Council. Whilst, at least some UN bodies have acknowledged that the murderous behaviour of Russia disqualifies it from participating as an equal member in UN deliberations, it seems, alas, that the Secretariat of the UN’s Rotterdam Convention (RC) is yet to get this message. Civil society groups representing millions of trade unionists, asbestos victims, medical professionals, technical experts and concerned citizens are questioning the RC Secretariat’s failure to prevent the infiltration of the Conference of the Parties beginning in Geneva on June 6. 2022 by asbestos lobbyists whose actions have been widely censured. [Read full article]
 

Memories of Dr Yoshiomi Temmyo 1932-2022

Jun 3, 2022

Our friend Dr Yoshiomi Temmyo died on May 30, 2022 after a long and full life. He was a lodestar for campaigners not only in Japan but throughout Asia and indeed the world. As Chair of the Global Asbestos Congress Organizing Committee 2000, he helped pioneer the world’s first international public event in Asia to highlight the growing crisis caused by asbestos use throughout the region: the Global Asbestos Congress 2004. Dr Temmyo was, said his friend and colleague Sugio Furuya: “a font of knowledge and wisdom for generations of activists...The network of civil society partners who were privileged to work with Dr Temmyo will continue this work; this is his legacy. Dr Temmyo was an inspiration to us all.” [Read full article]
 

Asbestos in South Korea’s Schools

May 31, 2022

At a press conference in Seoul on May 25, 2022, researchers from the Korean Citizens’ Center for Environmental Health, the National School Parents’ Network to Ban Asbestos in Schools and the Korean Ban Asbestos Network informed journalists that “4-5 out of 10 elementary, middle and high schools nationwide are still ‘asbestos schools’.” The campaigners called on the government to prioritize the removal of asbestos from schools as a matter of urgency, saying that the two-year delay caused by Covid-19 in addressing this life-and-death issue was unacceptable. The data released and information provided at the press conference were widely reported by the media. [Read full article]
 

The world is now waiting for Kazakhstani chrysotile

May 24, 2022

The headline above was the concluding sentence in a May 10, 2022 article on a Kazakhstani news portal. According to the text, Kostanay Minerals – Kazakhstan’s only chrysotile asbestos company – had declared a moratorium on mining from May 1-10, 2022 because its warehouses were full. As the vast majority of Kazakh asbestos production is exported, sanctions imposed on shipments from Russian ports as a result of the war on Ukraine have adversely impacted Kostanay’s operations. In Russia, which provides over two thirds of all global asbestos output, mining companies have also acknowledged “the unsettled economic situation.” On May 21, 2022, Russian Transport Minister Vitaly Savelyev admitted that: “The sanctions imposed on Russia today have virtually broken all logistics in our country.” [Read full article]
 

What does Hope Look Like 2022

May 18, 2022

In May 2022, hope is in short supply. With Russian troops still killing innocent Ukrainians, extreme temperatures baking populations in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, devastating wildfires decimating US western states and the Covid-19 pandemic far from conquered, a rational person could be forgiven for seeing gloom and disaster on every front. And yet, if you look closely, there are glimmers of hope to be found. This month (May 2022), events mounted by coalitions of civil society stakeholders in Asia, Latin America, Europe and Australia, addressed toxic national asbestos legacies and progressed efforts to outlaw asbestos use. With medical breakthroughs on the horizon and the rejection of pro-asbestos rhetoric, the future truly is asbestos-free! [Read full article]
 

Asbestos Update: Ukraine 2022

May 16, 2022

Russia’s blood-thirsty attack on Ukraine, has left tens of thousands dead and injured, destroyed huge swathes of the built environment and displaced over seven million Ukrainians. A report circulated on a Ukraine news portal earlier this month expressed the concern of the UN Global Compact in Ukraine that cities destroyed by the Russian army could be rebuilt with toxic Russian asbestos. Russia is the world’s biggest asbestos producer and exporter. Although Ukrainian politicians and civil servants had been working to ban asbestos in recent years, in 2005 Ukraine used 183,271 tonnes (t) of asbestos, making it Europe’s second biggest consumer after Russia (314,828t), ahead of Kazakhstan (153,050t). There is every reason to believe that Ukrainian buildings destroyed by Russian attacks will contain asbestos fibers. [Read full article]
 

Johnson and Johnson Condemned!

May 9, 2022

Health and safety campaigners are outraged at the news that 85% of the shareholders of Johnson and Johnson (J&J) supported the continued sale of toxic talc-based baby powder containing asbestos fibers in countries outside North America. A vote on resolution 10 at the company’s virtual AGM on April 28, 2022 gave the pharmaceutical giant the green light to continue the racist and duplicitous marketing strategy which protected North Americans but allowed everyone else to be exposed to a known carcinogen. “This is no longer a political or legal or consumer problem, this is a shareholder problem,” said Antoine Argouges, founder of the activist-investor platform which submitted resolution 10. [Read full article]
 

Controlled Use of Asbestos in Brazil?

May 4, 2022

Despite the fact that the Brazilian Supreme Court banned the commercial exploitation of asbestos in 2017, mining continues in the State of Goiás under a state law which countermanded the Court’s ruling and authorized production to resume for export purposes only. For decades, asbestos stakeholders in Brazil have argued that the safe use of asbestos is possible under “controlled conditions.” Epidemiological data and medical evidence have, time and again, exposed the vacuousness of this argument. A fatal road traffic accident on a public highway in the Brazilian State of Minas Gerais on April 24, 2022 reinforced the inconvenient truth that there is, in fact, no such thing as the “controlled use” of asbestos. [Read full article]
 

Parliament Call for Asbestos Eradication Program

May 3, 2022

One hundred and twenty-three years after the hazard was first acknowledged by a British Factory Inspector, a Parliamentary Committee called for government action to eradicate the danger posed by asbestos-containing material within public buildings. The deadline suggested by Members of Parliament for the completion of the decontamination was forty years or 163 years after the problem was first reported. Whilst the report was broadly welcomed, queries were raised about the consequences of setting a 40-year deadline to rid the national infrastructure of a deadly carcinogen. The Government has two months to respond to the report. [Read full article]