Article Abstracts Archive

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Displaying first 25 items in reverse date order (default)
 

Update from Novara Asbestos Trial

Sep 16, 2021

At the Novara Court of Assizes this week, prosecutors began to present the case against Swiss billionaire Stephan Schmidheiny, charged with voluntary manslaughter for 383 deaths caused by exposures to Eternit asbestos in Casale Monferrato. Evidence from two witnesses was heard on September 13. The first to testify was Nicola Pondrano, Eternit employee, union official and founding member of an asbestos victims’ association: AFeVA. Pondrano provided first-hand testimony about horrendous conditions at the factory and the lack of warnings to the workers as well as the hazard posed to family members and local people. Albino Defilipp, from the Regional Agency for Environmental Protection Piedmont, informed the court about the ubiquity of asbestos contamination throughout the region. [Read full article]
 

Russia’s Autumn Asbestos Offensive

Sep 9, 2021

September 1, the day Russian children return to school after the summer break, is celebrated as Annual Knowledge Day. Last Wednesday, Sverdlovsk Governor Yevgeny Kuyvashev visited three high schools including one in the asbestos mining town of Asbest (Asbestos). According to a news report, he “offered the students options for their future professions.” Whether he highlighted career possibilities at the town’s chrysotile asbestos mine, we don’t know for sure but since its owner Uralasbest is one of the area’s biggest employers it seems likely. What the Governor would not have mentioned was the elevated risk to Uralasbest workers of premature death and/or debilitating disease posed by exposures to asbestos or the elevated incidence of asbestos-related cancer amongst townspeople. [Read full article]
 

Thank you, Christina!

Sep 7, 2021

If ever joy could be extracted from tragedy, the details of a jury verdict (Case No. RG20061303 – Christina Prudencio v. Johnson & Johnson), filed on August 23, 2021 at the Superior Court of California, Alameda County, could be the source. The six-page document – listing jury responses to a series of questions set by the Court and damages awarded – contains phrases and findings that bring solace to all of us who have been working to advance human health even as multinational corporations continue to exploit vulnerable populations the world over. Finding both Johnson & Johnson and its subsidiary negligent on multiple counts, the jury awarded the plaintiff $26.5 million in compensatory and punitive damages for having been sold a product which contributed to her contracting asbestos cancer. [Read full article]
 

Remembering Dr Morris Greenberg, 1926-2021

Aug 23, 2021

In the days and weeks to come others, more learned than I, will write tributes to Dr Morris Greenberg, a kind-hearted and generous physician who died on August 19, 2021. My thoughts when hearing the sad news of Morris’ demise were a jumble of memories of his kindness to the maverick ban asbestos campaigners he came across and the lengths to which he would go to help us. We could never pay him nor could we ever repay him for his assistance but he was always willing to provide guidance and information out of his commitment to making the world a safer place not only for workers but also for members of the public whose lives were being jeopardized by exposures to asbestos. [Read full article]
 

Progressing Justice for UK Asbestos Victims

Aug 20, 2021

The arrival of Covid-19 exacerbated Britain’s epidemic of asbestos-related diseases. Conditions imposed to curtail the spread of the virus upended the administration of a key government scheme. A prohibition on face-to-face assessments meant that “claimants suffering from asbestosis and pleural thickening were left waiting over a year to have their benefit assessed for Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit (IIDB).” As the amount of the IIDB was based on the age of claimants when the IIDB was awarded and not when the claims were submitted, delays in processing claims could reduce Pneumoconiosis Workers’ Compensation Scheme payments. After a sustained grassroots campaign, finally on August 19, 2021 notification was received that full compensation was being paid to those affected. [Read full article]
 

Closing Brazil’s Asbestos Loopholes

Aug 18, 2021

Despite the fact that asbestos had been banned in Brazil by a 2017 Supreme Court order, in June 2021 the asbestos mining company Sama S.A. reported an annual increase in sales of 246.1%. Shipments from Sama’s Minaçu mine, destined for overseas markets as domestic sales were forbidden, were transported from Goiás State to São Paulo State ports, then on to Asia. The fact that an asbestos mining company was reporting multimillion dollar profits in a country where its existence had been deemed illegal by the highest court in the land might seem an impossibility – but not in Brazil where the war of the injunctions had ensured that production of the outlawed fiber would continue until the very last card had been played by the asbestos producers and their legal henchmen. [Read full article]
 

Getting Away with Murder

Aug 11, 2021

Future generations will look back at the unregulated and ubiquitous use of asbestos throughout the 20th & 21st centuries much as we view the now banned use of arsenic, mercury and lead. In this article the author highlighted methods used to prolong asbestos sales, despite mounting evidence of the damage done, through an examination of key archival documents. These texts delineated industry’s strategic approach to dominating the asbestos dialogue at home and abroad, manipulating decision-making by regulatory authorities at all levels and deceiving civil society stakeholders in order to create a climate in which sales of asbestos products could flourish. The discussion of recent developments indicates that the asbestos industry is finally on its way to oblivion. Amen to that! [Read full article]
 

Occupational Exposures among Mechanics Working with Friction Products and Awareness Raising on Asbestos Related Diseases (ARD) in Nepal

Aug 9, 2021

A recent report by Ram Charitra Sah of Nepal’s Center for Public Health and Environmental Development provided an update about asbestos issues in a country which banned most asbestos usage but not the use of asbestos in automotive products. Although asbestos-free friction materials including brake linings and pads are increasingly available in Nepal, asbestos brakes are still being imported. The results of a survey conducted in 10 brake repair shops in Kathmandu Valley revealed that: none of the mechanics had received training about the hazards posed by exposures to asbestos and few knew about Nepal’s asbestos ban; few precautions to prevent toxic exposures were in operation in the workshops; 50% of those interviewed were smokers. [Read full article]
 

Behind the Asbestos Curtain: Uralasbest 2021

Jul 26, 2021

Yuri Kozlov knows it, Yerkin Tatishev knows it, and I know it too. It is only a matter of time until the use of all types of asbestos is banned the world over. But, time is what the asbestos industry is banking on; another month, another year, another decade means more sales and more profits can be extracted from the commercialization of a substance they have readily to hand: chrysotile (white) asbestos fiber. Whilst the word asbestos is reviled throughout most of the world, in the Russian monotown of Asbestos people base their lives around it. The measures with which the Uralasbest asbestos conglomerate secures their loyalty and the company’s expansionist plans are discussed in this feature length article. [Read full article]
 

England’s Deadly Legacy and Toxic Future

Jul 21, 2021

Data released by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) in July 2021 revealed that the English regions with the highest male mortality rates from malignant mesothelioma over recent years were: the North East, the East, the South East, the North West, the South West, Yorkshire and the Humber. Even as a Parliamentary Committee launched an investigation into the failure by the HSE to take timely and effective action on the asbestos hazard, MEPs in Brussels called for the adoption of a “European strategy for the complete elimination of asbestos…” The fact that each one of the worst affected English regions voted to leave the EU will, inevitably, mean that Brexit supporters will be living with asbestos contamination long after their continental counterparts. [Read full article]
 

Outrage over Retrograde Plans by French Government

Jul 19, 2021

No system is perfect and the French Asbestos Victims Compensation Scheme (FIVA) is no exception. Despite its shortcomings, however, for over twenty years it has given a visibility to the problem created by decades of widespread and unregulated asbestos use in France as well as provided a fairly straightforward process by which claimants could access compensation without resort to litigation. If the Government has its way, FIVA will soon lose both its identity and independence via a merger with the National Compensation Scheme for Medical Accidents. The contentious proposal has been soundly rejected by stakeholders representing asbestos victims, trade unions, labor federations and their social partners who have pledged to campaign for the retention of FIVA. [Read full article]
 

Chaos has Come to the World of Asbestos

Jul 14, 2021

The title of this article comes from a paper written nearly 25 years ago by American academics. While the demise of the asbestos industry they predicted may have proved to have been overly optimistic in 1997, it is certainly a realistic appraisal of the situation in 2021. Decades of mobilization by ban asbestos campaigners and civil society groups have led to triumphs in recent months that have humbled governments, held guilty industrialists to account and exposed asbestos lobbyists in jurisdictions around the world. The decisions of Supreme Court Judges, the actions of international agencies and the successes of ban asbestos activists have reinforced the global consensus that there is no place in the 21st century for asbestos. [Read full article]
 

Letter Concerning Scrapping of Aircraft Carrier São Paulo

Jun 28, 2021

On June 21, 2021, civil society campaigning groups from Europe, Asia and Latin America released the contents of a letter that had been sent to government authorities in Turkey, Brazil, France and the European Union detailing concerns about the sale of the former Brazilian warship the São Paulo to a Turkish owner for scrapping in an Izmir shipbreaking facility. Amongst the areas of concern raised were: the presence of asbestos, PCBs and other toxins on board the vessel; the existence of a comprehensive inventory of hazardous material; the existence of accurate data regarding the disposal of toxic debris from the Turkish dismantling operations (Bakınız: Türk versiyonu). [Read full article]
 

New Developments in Construction Workers Asbestos Litigation in Japan

Jun 24, 2021

This dossier about developments in the campaign for recognition and compensation for asbestos-injured construction workers in multiple jurisdictions in Japan was prepared by the Coordinator of the Asian Ban Asbestos Network Sugio Furuya. Taken collectively, the data presented, the reports cited and the photographs included provide an up-to-date synopsis of the outcome of years of protests and litigation. Following a Supreme Court decision on May 17, 2021 vindicating the claimants, the Prime Minister and the Diet acted swiftly to facilitate restitution to many of the injured including the self-employed. Unfortunately, construction workers who worked out of doors remain ineligible for compensation from a new government scheme. [Read full article]
 

Déjà Vu: Stephan Schmidheiny in the Dock

Jun 15, 2021

On the morning of June 9, 2021, asbestos victims, their relatives and supporters again made their way to an Italian courthouse to bear witness: another day, another trial against Stephan Schmidheiny. The former CEO of the Swiss Eternit Group is facing charges of intentional homicide at the Assizes Court of Novara over hundreds of asbestos-related deaths in the town of Casale Monferrato including those of 62 former workers and 330 members of the public killed by exposure to Eternit’s asbestos. In the last decade, the Swiss billionaire has been charged by public prosecutors in various Italian jurisdictions with murder, manslaughter, aggravated culpable homicide, causing permanent environmental damage and failing to comply with safety rules. [Read full article]
 

Open Letter to Global Ban Asbestos Community

Jun 10, 2021

This month Brazilian ban asbestos campaigner Eliezer João de Souza marks a milestone birthday. For nearly 20 years, Eliezer has been the President of the Brazilian Association of the Asbestos-Exposed. In that capacity he was at the forefront of the down and dirty ban asbestos battle in Brazil. Plans to mark his birthday at a gathering in Osasco, Brazil have been shelved temporarily due to the global pandemic. Faced with this set-back, Eliezer’s friends in Asia, Europe and Latin America came up with a way to wish him happy birthday from afar. Indonesian colleague and artist Ajat Sudrajat has translated the universal esteem in which Eliezer is held into a work of art. Happy birthday, Eliezer! (versão em Português) [Read full article]
 

Press Release: Killer Powder, Toxic Corporation

Jun 4, 2021

In light of a June 1, 2021 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court, NGOs from Asia, Latin America and Europe have condemned the double standards of the American multinational Johnson & Johnson which continues to sell asbestos-contaminated talc-based baby powder to consumers around the world despite having withdrawn it from North American markets. This behaviour, said U.S. Attorney Mark Lanier, was “both racist and inhuman.” Agreeing with these sentiments, Indian campaigner Pooja Gupta said: “It seems that as far as the company is concerned, human health is of less import than a healthy balance sheet.” National governments, regional authorities and international agencies have been urged “to take steps to protect populations from exposure to lethal baby powder as a matter of priority.” [Read full article]
 

Victory for U.S. Ovarian Cancer Victims

Jun 3, 2021

A decision announced on June 1, 2021 by the U.S. Supreme Court is reverberating around the world with media coverage so far in the UK, France, Korea, China and Russia. By rejecting an appeal from the American pharmaceutical giant Johnson and Johnson (J&J), the Supreme Court let stand decisions of the Missouri Court of Appeals (2020) and a St. Louis jury (2018) which had found that J&J’s asbestos-containing talc-based baby powder was a killer. Due to the collapse in North American demand for the toxic baby powder, in 2020 the product was withdrawn from sale in domestic markets. Nevertheless, the J&J’s iconic powder continues to be sold elsewhere with little interest expressed by decision-makers or politicians in this deadly example of double standards. [Read full article]
 

Quebec’s Asbestos Epiphany?

May 26, 2021

For most of the 20th century, asbestos stakeholders in the Canadian Province of Quebec were amongst the most vocal of all the vested interests in lobbying government administrations in Quebec City and Ottawa on behalf of the mineral they called “white gold.” The asbestos lobbyists did everything they could to promote the use of its chrysotile (white) asbestos at home and abroad. It is, therefore, no surprise to learn that there are 1,000 kilometers of asbestos-cement pipes in Quebec and that nearly 20% of all the pipes delivering water to Canadians are made of asbestos-cement. In a startling U-turn, Quebec’s Minister of the Environment Benoit Charette has pledged, as a preventive action, to take steps to evaluate “the presence of asbestos fibers in the water.” [Read full article]
 

Historic Victory for Japan’s Asbestos Victims

May 20, 2021

After more than a decade, asbestos victims achieved their goal of holding the Japanese Government and building products’ manufacturers to account for injuries and deaths caused by occupational exposures to asbestos. On May 17, 2021 the Supreme Court of Japan issued a plaintiffs’ verdict in its first unified asbestos judgment. The Court accepted arguments advanced by the legal team representing 500 claimants in class action lawsuits brought by asbestos-injured construction workers or family members at courts in Tokyo, Yokohama, Osaka and Kyoto. In response, the Prime Minister of Japan met with victims to apologize on behalf of the Government and the Minister of Health, Labor and Welfare Tamura announced that a reconciliation agreement had been signed. [Read full article]
 

May 2021: Asbestos Crimes and Punishment

May 17, 2021

On May 17, 2021, the Japanese Supreme Court issued a unified ruling in four class action lawsuits brought on behalf of construction workers injured by occupational asbestos exposures. The Court upheld earlier verdicts that had recognized the Government’s negligence in failing to take timely action on the asbestos hazard; the liability of building products’ manufacturers was also confirmed. The factual findings as well as complexity and breadth of the ruling set a precedent not only in Japan but around the world; the Court’s condemnation of the Japanese State and manufacturers should be seen as a warning to all those who continue to profit from the deadly asbestos trade: in years to come, you too will be held to account for your crimes. [Read full article]
 

Colombia has a Ban Asbestos Law, in Name but not in Fact

May 5, 2021

The battle to ban asbestos in Colombia has been protracted and dirty with intensive lobbying by business interests to forestall prohibitions of asbestos mining, processing, use, import and export. In 2019, after seven attempts, the Congress approved the “Ana Cecilia Niño Law” to ban asbestos. To enact the provisions of the law, Decree 402 of 2021 of the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Tourism was recently passed. Unfortunately, several challenges posed by the country’s historic asbestos usage remain unaddressed including the eradication of asbestos from the national infrastructure, identification of and financial support for the victims, criminal proceedings to hold defendants to account, etc. [Read full article]
 

Press Release: Statement of Appreciation

May 3, 2021

On May 3, 2021, it was announced that to mark International Workers' Day 2021, the Construction Safety Campaign UK had recognized the efforts of 3 individuals by awarding them the Robert Tressell Award for Services to Working People. Amongst those recognized was our colleague Eric Jonckheere. On the plaque presented to him in Belgium the inscription read: “For services to working people, particularly in the Belgian Association of Asbestos Victims and the international network of asbestos victims.” We congratulate Eric on this recognition of his decades of service and acknowledge the Construction Safety Campaign for its efforts to encourage all those who have fought corporate malfeasance, exposed government ineptitude and progressed safer technologies. [Read full article]
 

Addressing Spain’s Asbestos Legacy 2021

Apr 23, 2021

A proposal by Basque parliamentarians, which was approved almost unanimously on April 13, 2021 by the Spanish Parliament, will establish a national asbestos compensation fund. It is no coincidence that the impetus for this legislation came from Basque Parliamentarians. Amongst the 20 Spanish cities with the highest excesses of pleural cancer mortality, nine (45%) are situated in the Basque Country. Spain’s track record on engaging with the asbestos challenges posed by its use of 2.5 million tonnes of asbestos prior to banning it in 2002 has been poor. One can but hope that the new law is evidence of a political commitment to right the asbestos wrongs that have caused so much heartache in Spain. [Read full article]
 

Ukraine’s Asbestos War

Apr 15, 2021

The issue of banning asbestos in Ukraine has been caught up in a geopolitical conflict over the country’s quest to join the European Union and the determination of its former ally and now occupier, Russia to prevent it from doing so. Throughout the 21st century, Russia has been the world’s biggest producer of chrysotile asbestos and, as such, has orchestrated diverse stratagems to protect global asbestos markets and discredit evidence about the health hazards posed by asbestos usage. At every turn, Ukraine asbestos stakeholders – including but not limited to members of the Ukraine Chrysotile Association – working with foreign lobbyists have attacked attempts in Ukraine to end the use of a substance banned in scores of countries as per recommendations of agencies such as the WHO, ILO, and IARC. [Read full article]