Article Abstracts Archive

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Displaying first 25 items in reverse date order (default)

Call for Yale to Rescind Honor

Apr 15, 2014

The Coordinator of the International Ban Asbestos Secretariat Laurie Kazan-Allen has added her voice to that of so many others who are backing calls by an Italian asbestos victims’ group for Yale University to rescind an academic honor bestowed upon convicted asbestos criminal Stephan Schmidheiny. In a letter emailed to college officials Peter Salovey and Kimberly M. Goff-Crews, Ms. Kazan-Allen noted that Schmidheiny had “benefited from the financial operations of an international conglomerate which has injured thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of innocent human beings the world over.” [Read full article]

Tribute to Hyung-Sik Choi

Mar 6, 2014

The death has been announced of Hyung-Sik Choi who lost his battle against the asbestos cancer mesothelioma in Korea earlier this week. It is believed that the hazardous environmental exposures to asbestos which led to Mr. Choi’s death took place during urban reconstruction projects carried out in the 1980s. Since his disease was diagnosed, Mr. Choi had played an active role in the campaign for asbestos justice and worked with other victims in Korea and Japan to lobby for improvements in government support and medical care. Commenting on the sad news, his colleague spoke of his strength, leadership and determination to end the global use of asbestos. [Read full article]

Support for Asbestos Victims in Germany

Mar 4, 2014

In late February, German asbestos victims were offered the unique opportunity to hold a symposium entitled The Situation of Asbestos Victims within the framework of the annual German Cancer Congress. The significance of this event was reinforced by other activities which took place including a press conference, an exhibition and a three-hour medical session. Commenting on these developments, one of the organizers highlighted the marginalization of German asbestos victims and soundly criticized the government’s continued failure to address victims’ needs, recognize their human rights and provide justice for the injured. [Read full article]

First Asbestos Claim Brought Against the Dutch State

Feb 24, 2014

Klaas Jasperse, a worker suffering from asbestos-related cancer, has brought a claim against the Dutch State for damages as the company which had employed him has become insolvent. The lawsuit against the State alleges that it was due to its negligence to take timely action to protect workers from the asbestos hazard that the hazardous exposures which resulted in Mr. Jasperse’s fatal disease occurred. According to legal expert Bob Ruers, “the Dutch State had already been fully aware of the cancer-related risks posed by asbestos by 1977.” Had action been taken earlier, it is argued, Mr. Jasperse would not have become ill. [Read full article]

IARC Scientist Unequivocal over Support for Complete Asbestos Ban

Feb. 19, 2014

A research project by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) in conjunction with Russian asbestos-industry linked scientists has been soundly condemned by asbestos victims’ groups, scientists and doctors since it was first announced in 2012. A press conference held in London jointly by the World Health Organization and the IARC in February provided an opportunity for British Journalist Bernard Murphy to ask questions about the agencies’ asbestos policies. Dr Stewart, co-editor of IARC’s new 630-page, five-year update on the state of cancer science, reaffirmed the links between exposure to all types of asbestos and cancer and supported a global ban on its use. [Read full article]

Postscript to the Great Asbestos Trial

Feb 18, 2014

The second anniversary of the verdict handed down by the Turin Court, in what has become known as the Great Asbestos Trial, was an appropriate time to review the Court’s decision as well as subsequent developments in the litigation. Despite a determined attempt by the defendants in this landmark case to overturn the verdicts, the judicial authorities have twice confirmed the criminal conviction of asbestos defendants who had caused wilful permanent environmental disaster and failed to comply with safety rules as a result of which thousands of Italians died from asbestos-related diseases. [Read full article]

All Asbestos Kills

Feb 10, 2014

The World Health Organization (WHO) has a clear-cut policy on asbestos: “the most efficient way to eliminate asbestos-related diseases is to stop using all types of asbestos.” In an effort to protect asbestos sales, industry lobbyists have continued to misrepresent the WHO’s message as supporting a “controlled use of asbestos.” In an attempt to reinforce the WHO’s position on asbestos, Dr. Maria Neira, the Director of Public Health and Environment, has given a detailed interview in which she makes the international agency’s position crystal clear. Asbestos is, she says, “a threat to public health... [and] all forms of asbestos are carcinogenic to humans.” [Read full article]

Thailand Ministry Backs Immediate Ban

Feb 3, 2014

On Wednesday, January 29, 2014, the Thai Public Health Ministry passed a resolution calling for the immediate prohibition on the use of asbestos. This action was welcomed by members of the Thailand Ban Asbestos Network (T-BAN) who had been waiting for nearly three years for the government to honor a pledge to prohibit asbestos use. Commenting on the news, T-BAN member Associate Professor Vithaya Kulsomboon told IBAS: “We are more optimistic now than we have been for three years that the use of asbestos will be ended in Thailand. Banning asbestos is the first step in ridding our country of a deadly hazard; there remains a lot of work to do.” [Read full article]

The Curse of Asbestos

Jan 29, 2014

It is a rare privilege for IBAS to facilitate access for English-speaking readers to this stunning article by award-winning Brazilian Journalist Eliane Brum. Ms. Brum highlights the efforts of Brazilian asbestos victims to strip asbestos magnate Stephan Schmidheiny of a prestigious award given to him by the Brazilian Government: the Order of the Southern Cross. She explains that the victims’ actions are not motivated by anger but by a desire to ensure that history accurately records the facts despite multiple attempts to whitewash inconvenient details such as Schmidheiny’s conviction by an Italian criminal court for involvement in thousands of asbestos deaths. [Read full article]

Awards to Schmidheiny and Candidacy of Paolo Boffetta Attacked by Victims' Groups

Jan 20, 2014

As 2014 dawned, European and Latin American asbestos victims' groups ratcheted up efforts to prevent certain individuals linked to the asbestos industry or perceived to have supported it, from enjoying prestigious awards or gaining high-level positions. Italian victims progressed attempts to have asbestos criminal Stephan Schmidheiny stripped of a U.S. academic honor while their French counterparts contested the candidacy of a controversial scientist as head of a scientific body. In Brazil, the National Association of the Asbestos-Exposed launched a campaign to have the Government rescind the Order of the Southern Cross (an order of chivalry), bestowed upon Schmidheiny in 1996. [Read full article]

Are Short Asbestos Fibres Toxic?

Jan 10, 2014

This paper explores controversies created by industry to defend corporations from asbestos lawsuits. The author focuses on the genesis of the debate over the toxicity of short asbestos fibres. The industry's "doubt science," published in scientific journals, has given a legitimacy to an issue long ago agreed upon by independent experts: "the main factor responsible for carcinogenicity of fibres is this physical-chemical mechanism, the so-called 'surface reactivity' of the fibre in a biological setting, the size of the fibres and their biological-persistence in the organism being only the complimentary 'parameters' able to influence the degree of toxicity of the fibres without being determinant of it." [Read full article]

Tribute to Korean Mesothelioma Victim

Dec 21, 2013

Today - December 21, 2013 - is the second anniversary of the mesothelioma death of Korean ban asbestos activist Rachel LEE Jung-Lim. As Rachel learned about her disease, contracted from environmental contamination generated by an asbestos-cement factory, she grew incensed about the dangers to which she and others had been exposed. Determined to end the global asbestos epidemic, she took every opportunity she could to spread the ban asbestos message. To commemorate Rachel's campaign, activists have established the annual Rachel LEE Jung-Lim Memorial Award. The winner for 2013 was announced at a ceremony in Seoul held on December 21. [Read full article]

Japan's Fight for Asbestos Justice

Dec 18 2013

On December 11 & 12, 2013, organizations in Japan engaged in the struggle for asbestos justice operated a phone consultation service for asbestos victims and their relatives. The service provided by the Ban Asbestos Network Japan, Japan Occupational Safety and Health Resource Center and the National Association of Asbestos-related Disease Victims and their Families received a total of 293 calls. Despite an improved national regime for asbestos compensation, activists are calling on the government to honor its pledge to provide "relief for all asbestos victims without omission." Lobbying for the adoption of specific measures to address outstanding issues is ongoing. [Read full article]

Workshop: Dangerous Asbestos Trade in Asia

Dec 16, 2013

Last month, Korean and Indonesian activists met in Jakarta to hold a joint workshop on the hazards of asbestos use in Asia. The meeting, which was organized by asbestos victims' groups, ban asbestos activists, academics, safety and health campaigners and environmentalists, addressed the health consequences for workers and people living near asbestos producing or using facilities; the first reports of diagnoses of cases of asbestosis in Indonesian workers were released. In addition, discussions were progressed about measures for raising the public profile of asbestos hazards in Indonesia and elsewhere in Asia. [Read full article]

Landmark Report on Europe's Asbestos Crisis

Dec 10, 2013

European partners have published a new report – Asbestos-related occupational diseases in Central and East European Countries – which focuses on the long-lasting effects of asbestos use in new Member States and candidate countries. Topics covered in the publication include the evolution of national regulations concerning the recognition and compensation of asbestos-related diseases, health measures for at-risk workers and background information on the uses, properties and hazards posed by asbestos. The research findings are a valuable addition to the ongoing discourse on Europe's asbestos catastrophe. [Read full article]

Trouble in Russia's Asbestos Paradise?

Dec 4, 2013

For more than a century, chrysotile asbestos has been mined in the Russian town of "Asbest." But times are hard for Uralasbest, the company which runs the mine: "in the past nine months, the profits of the town's main employer have been melting away because of shrinking global demand and local economic pressures such as steep tariffs on mining trains." While it is too early to predict whether these difficulties foreshadow the end to Asbest's asbestos dependency, the Russian Ministry of Labor is offering inhabitants between $9,000 and $25,000 to relocate "to more successful cities." [Read full article]

India Says No to Asbestos

Dec 2, 2013

This afternoon, asbestos victims and ban asbestos campaigners held a New Delhi press conference to call for an immediate ban on growing asbestos consumption. A letter they released, signed by over 300 eminent experts from 36 countries, condemned aggressive marketing by asbestos industry stakeholders in India. In the text of this letter, which was sent to Indian Government Ministers, the international correspondents pointed out the deplorable behaviour of the ruthless asbestos lobby. The letter concludes with a heart-felt request that the Ministers "put the health interests of the people of India ahead of the vested interests of the asbestos industry." [Read full article]

Briefing: Upcoming Press Conference in Delhi

Nov 30, 2013

On December 2, 2013, health and safety campaigners are holding a New Delhi conference at the Press Club of India to call for urgent action on the spread of the asbestos hazard throughout the country. Between 1960 and 2012, more than 7 million tonnes of asbestos have been used in India; India imports more asbestos than any other country. The press conference will be addressed by key stakeholders including victims of asbestos-related diseases and at-risk workers from Ahmedabad and Mumbai; activists and experts will be on hand to answer questions. [Read full article]

The Mesothelioma Bill - A Gift to Insurers

Nov 29, 2013

On December 2, 2013, the Mesothelioma Bill is due to have its second reading in the House of Commons. The proposed legislation will offer a proportion of compensation to some of the asbestos-injured. Widespread criticism has been voiced by victims' and campaigning groups over the dominant position insurers played in the drafting of this bill. In this article, the Chair of the Asbestos Victims' Support Groups Forum UK Tony Whitston sets out the main elements of the mesothelioma scheme and highlights the government's generosity to insurers who are being "inappropriately subsidised by [asbestos] claimants." [Read full article]

Awards for Asbestos Campaigners

Nov 16, 2013

Kathy Gaffney and Laurie Kazan-Allen were amongst five activists whose work was recognized on November 16, 2013 by the Construction Safety Campaign (CSC) at its Annual General Meeting in Birmingham. The Robert Tressell Awards, presented during a ceremony this afternoon, are named after the author of the renowned 1914 socialist novel "The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists" and are bestowed for services to working people. Other asbestos activists who have been similarly honoured by the CSC over the last decade include Alan Dalton, Simon Pickvance, Paula Walker, Annie Thebaud-Mony and Michael Lees. [Read full article]

A Scientist, a Professor and a Businessman

Nov 14, 2013

In recent weeks, exposés in UK and US online and print media have detailed a range of measures being used by industry stakeholders to dictate the terms and language of the international asbestos dialogue. The investigations have focused on the activities of Scottish scientist Ken Donaldson, Canadian Epidemiologist J.C. McDonald and Swiss Entrepreneur Stephan Schmidheiny all of whom have been challenged over their part in a global epidemic claiming more than 90,000 lives a year. Despite the very welcomed revelations regarding these individuals, other "hired gun" professionals are queuing up for the chance to do the asbestos industry's bidding. [Read full article]

Asbestos: Europe's Past, Asia's Future

Nov 6, 2013

Even as French asbestos victims get ready to take to the streets in protest over judicial inaction on a notorious asbestos scandal, Indian court officials have sanctioned the construction of yet another Rajasthan asbestos factory despite vocal and active protests by local people. The use of asbestos in France has led to thousands of deaths every year, a situation which may be replicated in India. It seems that even in the 21st century no amount of knowledge is enough to curtail the unbridled use of a substance that is commercially viable even if it is also deadly dangerous. In India, as was the case in France, powerful behind-the-scenes operators are manipulating the national asbestos agenda. [Read full article]

A Hero Died in Istanbul

Sep 25, 2013

The death was reported on September 21, 2013 of Professor Dr. Y. İzzettin Bariş, the pioneering medical researcher who investigated the causes of malignant mesothelioma clusters in the "Cancer Villages" of Anatolia, Turkey. Through his research and through research founded on results he had achieved, huge strides were made in understanding the nature of mesothelioma including: the non-occupational risks posed by exposure to asbestos, the existence of a genetic disposition in some families to contract mesothelioma and the prevalence of malignant mesothelioma mortality in areas where environmental exposure to erionite was high. [Read full article]

A Toxic Legacy

Sep 20, 2013

Seventeen years ago, Yale University bestowed an honorary degree upon Swiss billionaire Stephan Schmidheiny. Since that time, Schmidheiny has been tried and convicted by two courts for his role in the asbestos deaths of thousands of Italian citizens. Calls being made for this honor to now be rescinded have been reported in a feature length article in the Yale Daily News by undergraduate reporter Jack Newsham. Yale has never revoked an honorary degree and, according to comments by Yale spokesman Tom Conroy, it seems unlikely that the University will reconsider Schmidheiny's 1996 award. [Read full article]

Countering Asbestos Propaganda in Thailand

Sep 20, 2012

During the five-day high-profile World Health Promotion Conference in Pattaya, Thailand, that took place in August, a paper was presented entitled: Social Media Advocacy to Counteract Propaganda on Safe Use of Chrysotile Asbestos in Thailand which considered a campaign by Thai vested interests to promote the sale of asbestos products. The speaker, Dr. Vithaya Kulsomboon, discussed the dissemination by the industry lobby of false information minimizing the risk of asbestos exposures in order to forestall the government from taking action to prohibit the import, sale and use of asbestos. His presentation has been uploaded to this website as a PDF article. [Read full article]