Article Abstracts Archive

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Displaying first 25 items in reverse date order (default)

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]

A Man on a Mission

April 28, 2022

On April 28, 2022, the world was told what his friends had feared for a long time: Eric Jonckheere had contracted the same asbestos cancer that had killed his father Pierre, his mother Françoise and his brothers: Pierre-Paul and Stéphane. The release of this heart-breaking news coincided with the launch of a legal case against the company which had been responsible for the deaths of his family: Eternit, an asbestos multinational which had continued to profit from its toxic technology long after others had transitioned to asbestos-free production. Earlier today, Eric and his attorneys served a summons on Eternit, ordering the company to appear before the Brussels Court to answer charges of wilful misconduct. [Read full article]

Biden Administration Calls for Asbestos Ban

Apr 13, 2022

“The failure to ban asbestos in the United States is” wrote Drs. Richard Lemen and Philip Landrigan “a national scandal and an affront to morality and human decency.” On April 5, 2022, the EPA issued a press release declaring that the US was finally prepared to take “an important step forward to protect public health and finally put an end to the use of dangerous asbestos in the United States.” If finalized, the US ban would be a clear signal to countries around the world that the mineral at the heart of a dangerous and outdated technology had been consigned to the history books along with mercury, arsenic, polychlorinated biphenyls and other substances injurious to human health and the environment. The future is asbestos-free. [Read full article]

Shining a Light on Asbestos Secrets

Apr 8, 2022

So many corporations behind the global asbestos epidemic claiming ~300,000 lives every year, remain in rude financial health. These include Cape PLC, formerly the Cape Asbestos Company and the American chemical company Union Carbide. In March 2022, the Asbestos Victims Support Groups Forum UK released a treasure trove of 1,600+ documents from the Cape archives acquired after protracted litigation. In April 2022, a “smoking gun” report (1967) by a Union Carbide official which stated that it: “seems that on the basis of present evidence, we are not entitled under any circumstances to state that our material is not a health hazard” was also uploaded. Whilst preparing for future litigation, interested parties would be well-advised to look at all these documents. [Read full article]

Toxic Schools Still a Danger to UK Children and Staff

Mar 30, 2022

The use of all types of asbestos was banned in the UK over 20 years ago, but millions of tonnes of toxic material remain hidden within the national infrastructure. While asbestos contamination in Parliament and Buckingham Palace garnishes front-page coverage, less attention is paid to the situation in schools, the majority of which contain asbestos. A March 16, 2022 report by the Public Accounts Committee raised serious concerns about the Department for Education’s mismanagement of asbestos in schools. Another Parliamentary enquiry is investigating whether the Health and Safety Executive’s asbestos policy is fit for purpose. We can but hope that the time for action has finally come and that a phased removal of asbestos from all our schools will become national policy. [Read full article]

Putin’s War, Economic Sanctions and Asbestos Exports

Mar 22, 2022

In a livestream address to an anti-war rally in the Swiss capital on March 19, 2022, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said: “Business in Russia works, even though our children die and our cities are destroyed.” It is unlikely that the suffering in Ukraine and outrage of the international community will have any affect on the population in the Sverdlovsk asbestos mining region, some of whom have already shown support for the war on Ukraine, or the owners of Russian conglomerates that produce 60% of the world’s annual asbestos output. Where sanctions have failed to prevent the transport of deadly Russian asbestos, civil society campaigners are urged to take action to stop toxic imports, thereby denying vital foreign currency to the Russian war machine as well as saving the lives of their compatriots. [Read full article]

Holding Johnson and Johnson to Account

Mar 17, 2022

Still reeling from the explosion of bad press over its abandonment of cancer sufferers exposed to asbestos in its baby powder, the American pharmaceutical giant Johnson and Johnson (J&J) was revealed this month to have used male participants incarcerated in the US prison system as guinea pigs in the 1960s & 1970s. The subjects, most of whom were African-American inmates at Holmesburg Prison, were injected with asbestos fibers “to compare the [effects of the] cancer-causing compound to talc.” Other recent adverse corporate news included J&J’s refusal to cease operations in Russia and the approval by the Securities Exchange Commission of a resolution calling on J&J shareholders to condemn the continued sale of toxic baby powder outside North America. [Read full article]

2022 Update from Japan’s Asbestos Frontline

Mar 13, 2022

Campaigners from asbestos victims’ associations, trade unions and civil society groups are calling on the Japanese Government to rescind a March 27, 2022 deadline after which applications for compensation from some asbestos victims will be disallowed. Amongst those who would lose out are people with asbestos-related diseases whose exposure to asbestos was non-occupational – such as people who had lived near asbestos-processing factories – and relatives of workers who had died from occupationally-caused asbestos-related diseases whose claims had been time barred. [Read full article]

Asbestos Victims Support Groups Forum UK Press Release March 10, 2022

Mar 10, 2022

The Asbestos Victims Support Groups Forum UK (Forum) today announced that a treasure trove of confidential documents belonging to Cape Asbestos – formerly one of the UK’s biggest asbestos conglomerates – which had been saved from destruction by the Forum and its advisors had been uploaded to the internet. In 1600+ pages, the efforts taken by corporate executives to hide the truth about the hazards posed by asbestos to workers and customers were detailed. According to the documents, misleading data was supplied by Cape to the British Occupational Hygiene Society and the Government to prevent stricter workplace regulations from being adopted. To read the Forum press release click the following link. [Read full article]

Press Release: International Women’s Day 2022

Mar 8, 2022

Today on International Women’s Day, global activists pay tribute to six outstanding individuals whose work has proved pivotal to so many. Original artwork depicting these leaders of asbestos victims’ groups, medical doctors, legal and academic campaigners is today being unveiled as a mark of the esteem in which these women are held. According to IBAS Coordinator Laurie Kazan-Allen: “There are many characteristics shared by the women we are celebrating today, not least of which is their quiet determination to get the job done. They are an inspiration to us all as well as role models for younger activists. The world is a better place thanks to them.” [Read full article]

Reflections on International Women’s Day 2022

Mar 8, 2022

To celebrate International Women's Day this year, a global coalition of groups and individuals campaigning for asbestos justice have chosen to single out leading female activists in Asia, Europe and Latin America. The support and comfort that they provide cannot be quantified. In their honor, an original image by artist Ajat Sudrajat was commissioned in which they are pictured together, a feat never before achieved as they live in far-flung countries. By celebrating their work, tribute is paid to all those individuals, male as well as female, whose lives are devoted to supporting the asbestos-injured and shutting down an industry which has caused so much death and destruction all over the world. [Read full article]

Breakthrough in Occupational Disease Recognition in Turkey

Mar 4, 2022

A landmark ruling was handed down by Turkey’s Supreme Court which continues to reverberate around the country. The verdict of the 10th Civil Chamber of the Supreme Court of Appeals at the end of 2021 recognized the right of a surviving family to be compensated for the death of a loved one caused by occupational exposure to asbestos. This decision took a decade to achieve and necessitated legal proceedings in multiple courts due to a fierce battle by state bodies and former employers to avoid liability. Although the full opinion of the Court has not yet been made public, the family of the deceased is now progressing a claim for 250,000 liras (~US$18,000) against the Social Security Institution [Sosyal Güvenlik Kurumu (SGK)] and Turkish Maritime Enterprises for material and moral damages. [Read full article]

Spotlight on Johnson and Johnson

Feb 14, 2022

Condemned by global activists, challenged by ethical investors and under increasing scrutiny by US politicians, and the global media, the new year did not start well for US pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson. Concerns have continued to grow over the fate of tens of thousands of claims from dying plaintiffs who alleged that their cancers were caused by use of the company’s asbestos-tainted talc-based baby powder. Financial machinations by J&J’s lawyers have succeeded in temporarily freezing all litigation. A proposed resolution for the upcoming AGM which condemns continued sales of the toxic powder outside of North America will give J&J shareholders the opportunity to force a U-turn on a racist policy which is bringing the company’s name into disrepute. [Read full article]

US Asbestos Panorama 2022

Feb 9, 2022

More than thirty years after asbestos stakeholders succeeded in overturning the US Asbestos Ban and Phase-out Rule it seems that the planets may once again be aligning for action to be taken on a problem that has caused more than a million cases of debilitating injuries and deaths in the US. With falling domestic consumption, the signing of an international agreement, ongoing public consultation over the country’s use and misuse of asbestos and an administration pledged to “create clean, healthy, and resilient communities,” advance “environmental justice and equity,” and prioritize “the purchase of sustainable products,” there may finally be grounds for optimism. [Read full article]

Mourning the Passing of a Grassroots Leader

Jan. 31, 2022

The death of Korean asbestos activist and campaigner Jiyol Jung was reported on January 28, 2022 by the Asian Citizen’s Center for Environment and Health; the cause of his death was asbestos-related lung cancer. Since his diagnosis with asbestosis at aged 65 (2008), Jiyol had been a stalwart participant at meetings of the Korean Network of Asbestos Victims, and was one of the founding members of the Ban Asbestos Network of Korea (BANKO) and an active participant in the work of the Asian Ban Asbestos Network (ABAN). He travelled extensively at home and abroad to raise awareness of the asbestos hazard, mobilize support for victims and urge legislators to take action to ban asbestos throughout Asia. [Read full article]

Ukraine Asbestos Ban: 2022 Update

Jan 26, 2022

As Russian troops continue to mass on the border, inside Ukraine the battle to ban asbestos continues to rage. Under immense pressure from asbestos stakeholders, domestic and foreign, a debate over draft asbestos prohibitions scheduled by the Parliamentary Committee of Health on December 15, 2021 was cancelled with no advance warning. Seemingly limitless resources are being expended by the asbestos industry to retain the status quo with a continuous stream of propaganda initiatives including the erection this month (January 2022) of a pro-asbestos poster on a street close to Kyiv’s government quarter where the Parliament, Cabinet of Ministers and Parliamentary Committees are located. [Read full article]

International Ban Asbestos Secretariat Devil’s Dust Awards 2022

Jan 18, 2022

At the beginning of a new year, it is traditional to assess the current state of affairs and single out those parties deserving of praise or censure. Many of the actors and/or entities that advanced the objectives of the ban asbestos network in 2021 have already been mentioned in features on the IBAS website. An initiative launched this month – the IBAS Devil’s Dust Awards 2022 (nicknamed the Lucifers) – is intended to focus public attention on individuals, corporations and governments that impeded progress of the campaign to eradicate the asbestos hazard. The ignominious winners of the inaugural Lucifer awards come from Russia, the USA, Brazil and Kazakhstan. Shame on all of them! [Read full article]

Global Asbestos Victims’ Groups Confront the Covid-19 Pandemic

Dec 14, 2021

Victims’ associations and grassroots groups continued to address the multitude of challenges posed by the introduction of restrictions to curtail the spread of Covid-19. The need to treat coronavirus patients delayed potentially life-saving treatments and upended the administration of government schemes which had provided lifelines for victims of asbestos-related diseases (ARDs). Early diagnoses of ARDs, essential to optimize treatment outcomes, were forestalled as healthcare resources were marshalled to treat those with coronavirus; patients with ARD symptoms, wary of the dangers of exposure to the virus in healthcare centers, took shelter at home. Interviews with campaigners on four continents, revealed changes made to ensure that ARD sufferers were supported during these dark days. [Read full article]

Letter to Ukraine Parliament Head Ruslan Stefanchuk

Nov 26, 2021

In this letter sent on November 25, 2021 to Mr. Ruslan Stefanchuk, the Head of the Ukraine Parliament, by Mick Antoniw, a Member of the Welsh Parliament as well as the Counsel General and Minister of the Constitution of the Welsh Government, the writer expressed support for ongoing efforts by Ukraine to outlaw the use of all types of asbestos, including chrysotile asbestos, to protect human health. Drawing on the tragic asbestos legacy of Wales, Minister Antoniw reassured Mr. Stefanchuk that: “We all support the international ban on all forms of asbestos including Chrysotile.” (See also: A Statement of Opinion tabled at the Welsh Parliament on November 24, 2021 reaffirming Welsh support for a “complete ban on the use of Chrysotile asbestos in Ukraine.”) [Read full article]

The Asbestos Industry 2021: Debunked, Discredited & Defunct

Nov 11, 2021

The eyes of the world have been on the outcome of this month’s discussions at the UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow. Did this event attract the attention of asbestos industry stakeholders – I’m guessing not. Why not? Because their prime directive has always been the generation of profits regardless of the impact of their operations on human beings or the environment. Asbestos producers, like purveyors of coal, petrol and natural gas, are peddlers of substances which are destroying our planet and the people living on it. In recent weeks global organizations including the UN, the International Labor Organization and the European Union have reconfirmed their intentions to upgrade protections from asbestos, a substance acknowledged to cause a variety of cancers as well as debilitating diseases. [Read full article]

Australia’s Asbestos Landscape 2021

Nov 5, 2021

The frequency of alerts in Australia over illegal asbestos imports continues unabated with reports of asbestos-containing building products, ferries, automotive parts and toys repeatedly making their way into the media. Despite Australia’s 2003 ban on asbestos and the efforts of the Australian Border Force to prevent toxic products from being imported, Australians have been victims of workplace asbestos exposures on multiple occasions. Added to the challenges posed by the flow of asbestos goods into the country are thorny legacy issues such as the failure of the State of Western Australia to decontaminate land on which the notorious Wittenoom asbestos mine had stood. The Banjima people, the traditional owners of the land, are outraged at the failure to take action to remediate the site. [Read full article]