Article Abstracts Archive

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Displaying first 25 items in reverse date order (default)

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]

The Rise & Rise of Asbestos Victims’ Activism

Oct 29, 2021

Thirty years ago, there was just a handful of asbestos victims’ groups working in a few industrialized countries. Nowadays, there are scores of such associations and charities the world over. The vital support they provide has helped to make manifest the hidden catastrophe caused by the widespread and unregulated use of asbestos, a class 1 carcinogen. In countries, where asbestos use remains legal, these groups lobby for a transition to a safer technology; where asbestos has been banned, they continue to address the toxic legacies which remain in the lungs of their fellow citizens, national infrastructures and contaminated environments. The asbestos industry, which employs a toxic and discredited technology, must be held to account for the lives it has taken and the injuries it has caused. [Read full article]

Press Release: Asbestos Technology, Unsustainable & Unacceptable: Official

Oct 15, 2021

Today’s press release by civil society groups representing asbestos victims, trade unions, human rights and environmental campaigners in Asia, Europe and Latin America highlights the significance of recent actions by international organizations for the global campaign to outlaw asbestos use. The United Nations Human Rights Council – the UN’s main human rights body – and the International Labor Organization – the organization tasked with protecting workers worldwide – have called for a drastic rethink on the way life is lived in the 21st century. The ethos and stipulations of the new UN resolution and ILO guidelines are, they assert, incompatible with the continued use of a substance known to cause cancer. [Read full article]

Taking the Asian Battle to Ban Asbestos Online!

Oct 13, 2021

A landmark series of recent events reinvigorated the campaign to eradicate the asbestos hazard from Asia. The first virtual international conference of the Asian Ban Asbestos Network (ABAN), comprising plenary and break-out sessions held on September 28, 29 & 30, was a rousing success bringing together hundreds of speakers and attendees from 20 countries in Asia, Europe and Latin America. The provision of translation services in Bahasa, Bengali, Chinese, English, Hindi, Khmer, Korean, Lao and Vietnamese was a key factor in the presentation of information and the interchange of ideas. A resolution issued by conference delegates on September 30 called “on the international community to come together to stop the asbestos trade.” [Read full article]

Press Release: The French Government is Backing Down.

Oct 7, 2021

This English translation of a press release issued by the Association for the Defence of French Asbestos Victims (ANDEVA) details the struggle by civil society groups in France to forestall plans to undermine compensation payments to asbestos victims by merging the Compensation Fund for Asbestos Victims (FIVA) with another organization. The independence of FIVA was, said ANDEVA, essential to ensure the efficacious and timely delivery of government benefits to asbestos victims. Currently, only half of the people in France who contract the signature asbestos cancer mesothelioma receive compensation from FIVA; ANDEVA is calling for all cases to be recognized. [Read full article]

Asbestos Developments in Brussels

Oct 1, 2021

Through persuasion and punishment European institutions are seeking to improve environmental and occupational protections against asbestos. This month reasoned opinions were sent by the European Commission to Slovenia and Spain over their failures to transpose into national law European Parliament Directive 2014/52/EU. Although details are few, the Commission has pointed out the repercussions this oversight had had in Spain in relation to “installations for the extraction, processing and transformation of asbestos.” On September 27, 2021, a European Parliament Committee debated a key report on asbestos issues and approved a raft of improvements including the lowering of the Occupational Exposure Limit for asbestos to 1000 fibers/m3. [Read full article]

Press Release: Towards an Asbestos-Free Asia!

Sept 27, 2021

Tomorrow (September 28, 2021) marks the start of the 2021 Conference of the Asian Ban Asbestos Network (ABAN). Once again, the International Ban Asbestos Secretariat (IBAS) is proud to partner with civil society groups from Asia and abroad in a regional event which harnesses the power of solidarity and social activism to progress efforts to eradicate the asbestos hazard. The formation in 2009 of the ABAN was “a landmark in the Asian campaign to obtain justice for the asbestos-injured and to implement a regional asbestos ban.” On the eve of the first virtual ABAN conference, ABAN Coordinator Sugio Furuya describes the challenges posed by and core objectives of the latest event. [Read full article]

ABAN Media Release: Asian Ban Asbestos Online Conference

Sep 27, 2021

Asbestos victims’ campaigners and environmental campaigners will join trade union colleagues and technical experts this week for three days of virtual presentations and discussions under the auspices of the Asian Ban Asbestos Network (ABAN) and partnering organizations. “In parts of Asia, carrying 500 grams of one white powder can draw a death sentence, but importing 1,000 tons of another lethal white dust is both legal and profitable.” Speakers at ABAN sessions will consider current national situations and regional developments and examine the challenges posed to ABAN members working to support asbestos victims during the global Covid-19 pandemic. [Read full article]

Asbestos Truth and Consequences in Japan

Sep 24, 2021

The dire consequences of delays by the Japanese Government in addressing the asbestos hazard are continuing to emerge, with data revealed on September 10, 2021 by the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare documenting a new record for the number of deaths last year from mesothelioma, the signature cancer associated with asbestos exposure. This is not surprising. While other industrialized nations took action to ban or curtail asbestos usage many decades ago, as recently as 1995 annual asbestos consumption in Japan was 193,800 tonnes, way more than any other G7 country. Given the accumulation of medical and scientific knowledge about the human health hazards posed by asbestos exposures, Japanese politicians could have been in no doubt about the serious consequences of their failure to act. [Read full article]

The Fight for Ukraine Sovereignty over its Asbestos Policy

Sep 19, 2021

With the end of the summer break, Ukrainian Deputies are returning to Parliament and to the thorny problem of what to do about asbestos, a substance which they pledged to ban as one of the conditions for European Union membership. A year ago (September 20, 2020) draft legislation entitled: “On the Public Health System (no. 4142)” was finalized; it was adopted by Parliament on its first reading on February 4, 2021. Article 27 of the bill called for a comprehensive and immediate ban on asbestos imports and use. Reacting to this proposal, asbestos vested interests from Kazakhstan and Russia launched a sustained attack on the Ukraine Government calling for further dialogue and a delay in implementation of the prohibitions. [Read full article]

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]