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Making Progress in Catalonia!

May 10, 2024

On May 7, 2024, the Government of Catalonia approved draft legislation to address the region’s deadly asbestos legacy. The Asbestos Eradication Bill, when it’s ratified by Parliament, will facilitate a timely and safe removal of asbestos from buildings and facilities. Commenting on the significance of this development, Catalonia’s President Pere Aragonès acknowledged “the commitment and involvement of civic and social entities, neighborhood associations, local governments and social agents, and various departments of the Government of Catalonia” which had led to the adoption of this landmark bill. One can but hope that the coalition of stakeholders praised by the President will continue to press for much-needed change; the sooner The Asbestos Eradication Bill becomes law, the better! [Read full article]

Letter to Stephan Schmidheiny

May 9, 2024

This article comprises the English translation of an open letter to the Swiss asbestos billionaire Stephen Schmidheiny, written by Italian journalist Silvana Mossano, whose husband Marco Giorcelli died from environmental asbestos exposures experienced in Casale Monferrato, his home town. Ms. Mossano has seen with her own eyes the dreadful repercussions of the asbestos manufacturing operations owned by Schmidheiny, who has been tried and convicted in multiple Italian courts for his role in this deadly epidemic. Ms Mossano’s letter is both heartfelt and well reasoned. It deserves to be read. [Read full article]

Italian Journalist’s Asbestos War

May 2, 2024

Italians were shocked to the core by the appearance of journalist Franco Di Mare on the Sunday night TV chatshow – Che tempo che fa (What's the weather like) – on April 28, 2024. Sixty-eight-year old Di Mare, who was speaking remotely, was shown using a respirator as he announced that he was seriously ill with the asbestos cancer, mesothelioma. During a dramatic interview with Fabio Fazio, Di Mare laid bare the devastating impact of the disease and its poor prognosis: mesothelioma has, he said “a very long latency period and when it manifests itself it is too late.” Di Mare castigated the RAI TV channel, owned & operated by the Italian Government, for turning its back on him after his diagnosis. [Read full article]

Victory in Indonesia!

May 1, 2024

As a result of a Supreme Court ruling, it will now become obligatory for all asbestos-containing products sold in Indonesia to feature warning labels in Bahasa, the country’s official language. This landmark decision was issued further to a petition submitted in December 2023 by the Independent Community Consumer Protection Institute, the Yasa Nata Budi Foundation – a consumer advocacy body – and the Local Initiative for OSH Network. Celebrating this victory, campaigner Muchamad Darisman said: “By granting our request, the Judges took a giant leap forward in safeguarding the lives not only of workers but also of members of the public and consumers. It is essential that the Government and all relevant authorities take prompt action to implement the Court’s ruling...” [Read full article]

Marking the 15th Anniversary of the Asian Ban Asbestos Network

Apr 29, 2024

Between 2009 – when the Asian Ban Asbestos Network (ABAN) was founded – and 2023, global asbestos production fell from almost 2 million tonnes/t to 1,300,000t a year, a whopping 35% decline. There are many factors which adversely affected the asbestos industry’s bottom line during this time; the work of ABAN was one of them. On ABAN’s 15th year anniversary, its members take stock of what has been achieved by the journey which began in Hong Kong so many years ago and reaffirm their determination to continue the campaign to rid Asia of the scourge caused by the continuing use of asbestos. [Read full article]

Revisiting a WA Institution: The Asbestos Diseases Society of Australia

Apr 24, 2024

Now in its 46th year of operations, the Asbestos Diseases Society of Australia (ADSA) is more relevant than ever. Having had the privilege of catching up with ADSA colleagues during a recent trip to Western Australia (WA), it was clear that the Society’s staff were even busier than usual. During our stay in Perth, we were delighted on April 18, 2024, to learn that the much-hated “once and for all rule,” which had disadvantaged ADSA members by barring them from accepting provisional damages, had been overturned by the adoption of the Civil Liability Amendment (Provisional Damages for Dust Diseases) Bill 2024. Commenting on this momentous development, the ADSA’s CEO Melita Markey said: “asbestos and silicosis sufferers in WA will have the same legal rights as sufferers elsewhere in the country.” [Read full article]

More Asbestos Subterfuge in the Urals

Apr 19, 2024

Last month was the grand opening of a factory in the Sverdlovsk region of Russia. The Vestra plant which is owned by Uralasbest – Russia’s 2nd biggest asbestos mining conglomerate – is located conveniently near the group’s chrysotile (white) asbestos mine in the Urals’ monotown of Asbest. Although the nature of the “mineral dust” used in the facility remains unspecified, it is likely that it is material reclaimed from chrysotile asbestos mining waste. In due course, the toxic secret at the heart of this shiny new factory will be exposed. One can but hope that this day comes sooner rather than later. [Read full article]

United States Bans Asbestos – Again!

Apr 16, 2024

On March 18, 2024 – more than 32 years after America’s first asbestos ban was vacated by a Louisiana Court of Appeals – the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) confirmed that the use of chrysotile (white) asbestos would be phased out with an immediate embargo on asbestos imports once the Final Rule on Asbestos Part 1; Chrysotile Asbestos; Regulation of Certain Conditions of Use Under the Toxic Substances Control Act (the Final Rule) was implemented. This long-awaited national ban will protect not only people in the US but those in other countries which decide that the time is right for them to also take unilateral action on the asbestos hazard. It is reassuring that, after all this time, the EPA is once again becoming a force for good. [Read full article]

Asian Ban Asbestos Network: 2024 Update

Mar 12, 2024

On March 3, 2024, members of the Asian Ban Asbestos Network (ABAN) convened for the 2024 ABAN South Asia Strategy meeting. With its unique asbestos history, Sri Lanka was an appropriate venue for the meeting. In retaliation for plans to impose an asbestos ban in Sri Lanka, Russia embargoed tea imports from Sir Lanka. As a result, the asbestos ban was put on hold. Despite these setbacks, groups in Sri Lanka are progressing a range of efforts to minimize hazardous asbestos exposures. Commenting on the deliberations in Colombo, ABAN Coordinator Sugio Furuya highlighted: the high level of engagement exhibited by the attendees and the participation of a new generation of ban asbestos campaigners. [Read full article]

Remembering Nellie Kershaw

Mar 8, 2024

March 24, 2024 will be the 100th anniversary of the death of Nellie Kershaw, the first named victim of asbestos-related disease. Her story is paradigmatic of the experience of so many victims, abandoned to their fate once occupationally-contracted diseases made them unfit for work. Has much changed since Nellie Kershaw’s death 100 years ago? Thousands of Britons are still dying from asbestosis, the disease which killed Mrs. Kershaw, and asbestos cancers every year. The government’s refusal to address the contamination of the national infrastructure will ensure that in decades to come there will be many more people like Nellie Kershaw who experience ill health and premature death due to toxic exposures. A 100 years on, the human face of this tragedy may have changed but the problem remains the same. [Read full article]

Switzerland Guilty of Asbestos Injustices

Mar 4, 2024

Nearly ten years after the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), in Strasbourg condemned Switzerland for its treatment of one asbestos victim, a ruling last month (February 2024) found that the same legal system was in violation of the European Convention on Human Rights (the Convention) in its handling of a lawsuit brought by another asbestos plaintiff. Although there were differences in the cases, the ECHR’s response to the time-barred defense advanced by Switzerland’s legal team was the same; the need for “legal certainty and legal peace,” did not justify depriving asbestos claimants “of the chance to assert their rights before the courts.” [Read full article]

Australian Scandal Grows amidst Global Confirmation of Asbestos Hazard

Feb 21, 2024

In an Asbestos Factsheet uploaded on February 16, 2024, by the United Nations Environment Programme it was reported that: “There is ongoing evidence that mismanagement of asbestos is resulting in elevated healthcare expenses that surpass any benefits.” The validity of this finding was substantiated by the asbestos scandal – news of which has gone global – which has rocked Sydney, Australia over recent weeks. The discovery of asbestos in mulch used in parks, playgrounds, schools, sports centers, hospitals, electrical substations, supermarkets and domestic gardens has led to closure of premises, cancellation of events and extremely high levels of public anxiety. [Read full article]

125 Years and Counting

Feb 16, 2024

It is now 125 years, since Factory Inspector Lucy Deane warned the British Government about the hazard posed by exposures to asbestos. One wonders what she would have made of the fact that so many decades later, asbestos cancers and diseases continue to wreak havoc amongst populations the world over. Recent developments reviewed in the article cited below, revealed both good and bad news. Despite the dramatic fall in asbestos use in the 21st century, asbestos contamination of national infrastructures and pollution of the natural environment remain a public health as well as an occupational health risk to global populations. [Read full article]

Cancer Crisis Looms as Asbestos Use Continues

Feb 5, 2024

In the run-up to World Cancer Day 2024, an article in The Guardian newspaper reverberated a World Health Organization (WHO) warning of an impending cancer “tsunami” which will see the number of new cancer cases rising by 77% by 2050. Exposure to all types of asbestos can cause a variety of cancers; data released in 2024, confirmed that 1,300,000 tonnes of asbestos were consumed worldwide last year. It is neither prudent nor humane for national governments, international agencies and regional authorities to neglect their duty to protect populations in countries where asbestos use remains legal; every minute of every day millions of people are being exposed to a substance that could kill them. It has to stop. [Read full article]

HSE: Unfit for Purpose

Feb 2, 2024

Following on from a TV program – Britain’s crumbling schools – broadcast on the BBC last month, an article on the website of the World Socialist on January 29th asserted that: “Schools in the UK are not fit for purpose, and many pose a ‘critical risk to life.’” While asbestos protections are increasing in EU countries, it seems that in the UK the only change is for the worse. As our schools continue to age, asbestos-containing products within them deteriorate and the likelihood of carcinogenic fibers becoming airborne grows. The final price for the negligence of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) will be paid by the children, teachers and school staff who contract mesothelioma in the decades to come. [Read full article]

Auditing J&J’s Phase-Out of Toxic Baby Powder

Jan 25, 2024

Johnson and Johnson (J&J) announced in May 2020 that it would stop selling its iconic talc-based baby powder in US and Canadian markets. It would be another two years before the company bowed to mounting pressure over claims of discriminatory marketing and double standards and agreed to stop sales outside North America. Grassroots’ groups around the world which have been monitoring the availability of J&J products during 2023 & 2024 reported that there appeared to be a decrease in supplies of the toxic baby powder available in many retail and online outlets. [Read full article]

Corporate Chutzpah in Brazil!

Jan 18, 2024

A proposal to compensate asbestos victims with shares of the asbestos defendant charged with causing their injuries is under consideration by a Brazilian court overseeing the emergence of Eternit S.A. from judicial recovery. In the 30+ years I have been involved in the fight for asbestos justice, I thought I had witnessed every type of avoidance, cover-up and denial strategy by asbestos defendants and their lawyers. I had not, however, in all that time seen anything so vile as what is being proposed in Brazil. To tie the financial survival of a suffering claimant and his/her family to the fiscal welfare of the killer company is a concept that is so egregious that it almost takes your breath away. [Read full article]

Post-Asbestos Landscapes 2024

Jan 15, 2024

The production of minerals has an environmental impact and asbestos is no exception. Mountains of toxic tailings dominate the landscapes of many asbestos mining towns; although the amount of contaminated material in these mounds can vary, it is not unusual for them to be composed of up to 40% asbestos fibers. Projects to turn these environmental liabilities into assets by reclaiming magnesium, zinc, nickel and high-quality silica from the waste are being spearheaded in Canada, China and Russia. This article questions the human costs of such plans. [Read full article]

Year Round-Up 2023

Dec 13, 2023

During 2023 there have spectacular highs and lows intermixed with pockets of progress set against a global backdrop which has constrained the work of grassroots ban asbestos campaigners in many countries. Despite serious political and economic obstacles, campaigners have found creative ways to build momentum for asbestos restrictions and support the injured. The progress achieved in 2023 was tempered by setbacks and stalemates in key asbestos-using countries. The November death of Mavis Nye, erstwhile Mesothelioma Warrior, who was a much-loved figure among the global community of ban asbestos campaigners, was a stark reminder of how vital it is to eradicate the asbestos hazard. [Read full article]

Historic Victory for Belgian Asbestos Victims

Dec 7, 2023

In a David and Goliath legal battle in Brussels, David won. In this case, David was Eric Jonckheere, President of the Belgian Association of Asbestos Victims (ABEVA), retired pilot, mesothelioma patient and member of a 7-person family which has been decimated by the signature cancer associated with asbestos: mesothelioma. On November 27, 2023, a Flemish-speaking court of the first instance convicted Eternit, a former asbestos conglomerate, of “intentional wrongdoing,” “deliberate misconduct,” “systematic manipulation” and “deliberate distortion of the facts.” By exposing Eternit’s “fraud” and “deliberate misconduct,” a path has been cleared for asbestos victims in Belgium and elsewhere to hold the company to account. Justice has long been denied; it must no longer be delayed. [Read full article]

Taking the Ban Asbestos Fight to Brasilia 2023

Dec 5, 2023

Patience is running out amongst people who have been campaigning for decades to protect Brazilians from the asbestos hazard. An inexplicable and indefinite postponement last month by the country’s once revered Supreme Court of a judgment which would, once and for all, have stopped asbestos mining was the final straw. To make manifest the overwhelming public support for banning this class 1 carcinogen, asbestos victims, their supporters and advisors spent two days in Brasilia last week to mobilize support among political and civil society allies (Versão em português aqui). [Read full article]

Asbestos Cement: The Evidence is Irrefutable

Dec 1, 2023

Observers of the global asbestos epidemic have long categorized estimates of the number of asbestos-related deaths postulated by international agencies as woefully inadequate. Authors of a paper published in November 2023 agree: “a more realistic estimate of asbestos-related deaths could be of 289,621 in the workplace, and 304,841 when including environmental and semi-occupational causalities.” Toxic exposures experienced in the manufacture, processing and use of asbestos-cement (AC) material play a significant part in the causation of this global catastrophe; the majority of asbestos consumed every year goes into the production of AC pipes, roofing, cladding, flues, water tanks, etc. [Read full article]

Press Release: Asbestos Victims Worldwide Call for Action by Brazil’s Supreme Court

Nov 26, 2023

Asbestos victims’ groups, trade unions, research institutes and community activists from Latin America, Asia, Australia & Europe have today issued a declaration supporting colleagues who are protesting in Brasilia this week over the failure of Brazil’s Supreme Court to hand down as scheduled its judgment regarding the timetable for the cessation of operations at Brazil’s only remaining asbestos mine. According to Brazilian asbestos victims’ lawyer Leonardo Amarante: “The Ministers – as STF Judges are called – were asked to determine whether mining should cease immediately or whether a one-year phase-out period should be allowed. The information vacuum which currently exists regarding this litigation is something I have never seen before” (Clique aqui para ler a versão em português). [Read full article]

Our Friend Mavis

Nov 24, 2023

Mavis Nye was a fighter. She fought to save her own life and that of people in the UK and abroad, many of whom she never met. From the moment she was diagnosed with mesothelioma, she refused to accept the inevitability of short post-diagnosis survival typically predicted for mesothelioma patients. When the news of her death was reported, social media was awash with comments and condolences from asbestos victims, campaigners, occupational safety and health activists, barristers, solicitors, medical practitioners, scientists, technical experts, asbestos removal specialists and others. The outpouring of emotion from such a range of people not only reflected the impact of her work but also showed the depth of loss experienced by those of us lucky enough to have known Mavis. [Read full article]

Two Decades After Australia Banned Asbestos

Nov 22, 2023

Despite the fact that asbestos use was prohibited in Australia in 2003, the asbestos hazard poses a grave risk to human life. As Australians mark the 20th anniversary of the ban at country-wide events between November 21and 26, 2023 – Asbestos Awareness Week – thousands continue to die every year from asbestos-related diseases and toxic exposures remain all too common. As Melita Markey of the Asbestos Diseases Society of Australia (ADSA) told us: “Currently, there is no priority in any Australian public health or industrial diseases strategy to develop lifesaving treatments for asbestos and dust diseases sufferers.” The ADSA and its trade union partners are calling on the Government to fund research into occupational diseases “as an immediate public health priority.” [Read full article]

What’s Going on at Brazil’s Supreme Court?

Nov 13, 2023

Brazilian asbestos victims are used to waiting for their day in court, with many claimants dying before their cases are adjudicated. In tandem with the long struggle for personal justice is the national quest for eliminating the causes of these injuries: the mining, processing and use of asbestos. It was, therefore, a cause of grave concern to campaigners when a scheduled decision of the Supreme Court, due at the beginning of November, was inexplicably and indefinitely postponed. With the Court having previously ruled that the commercial exploitation of asbestos was banned throughout the country (2017), the only issue left to resolve was when mining would cease. In the legal vacuum created by this postponement, asbestos production will continue. [Read full article]

Cambodia Asbestos Ban by 2025!

Nov 7, 2023

Last week in Phnom Penh, officials from the Cambodian Government confirmed plans to end asbestos use by 2025 at a high-profile workshop organized by the Cambodian Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training and Australia’s Union Aid Abroad. Participating in the meeting were representatives of 11 Ministries, employer organisations, trade unions and civil society groups. International as well as Cambodian speakers explored the need for mandatory protocols to protect workers and members of the public from potentially deadly exposures to toxic products such as asbestos-cement roofing material which has been widely used throughout the country. [Read full article]

Corporate Happy Endings, Human Heartbreak

Oct 31, 2023

It seems that asbestos corporations from around the world are rising from the ashes of their crimes to, once again, become the lauded creators of employment opportunities and generators of national income streams. Their manipulation of financial strategies and off-loading of asbestos liabilities have enabled companies like Eternit S.A. (Brazil), Cape (UK) and Saint-Gobain (France) to shrug off as minor inconveniences the damage done as a result of historic corporate policies. Whilst shareholders and executives bask in the glow of robust corporate balance sheets, asbestos victims and their families face years of ill-health and premature death. Asbestos victims’ groups, workers’ collectives, trade unions and legal experts remain united in their determination to hold these guilty companies to account. [Read full article]

It’s Official: Asbestos Use Banned in Ukraine

Oct 25, 2023

On October 1, 2023, legislation banning asbestos use and providing safeguards to protect Ukrainians from deadly workplace exposures came into effect. The asbestos prohibitions were stipulated in Article 28, provision 3 of the law outlining the revised constitution of Ukraine’s Public Health System. The implementation of laws which brought Ukraine into harmony with EU Member States was accomplished despite fierce opposition from the country’s asbestos-producing neighbors: Russia & Kazakhstan. Commenting on this news Welsh Parliamentarian Mick Antoniw, himself of Ukrainian descent, said: “The fact that this has been achieved during a time when the country has been at war with Russia makes this accomplishment all the more extraordinary.” [Read full article]

Opposition to Asbestos Use Accelerates – Even in China

Oct 11, 2023

Work-related deaths now account for one million fatalities every year; this figure is expected to double by 2030. Last year the International Labor Organization recognized that a safe and healthy working environment was a fundamental human right; a high-level declaration adopted in September 2023 at an international conference in Germany acknowledged that pollution was the world’s largest risk factor for disease and premature death. Pursuant to these developments, optimism is building that efforts to adopt a Biological Hazards Convention by 2027 will succeed. Toughening up chemical safety protocols will no doubt hasten calls to outlaw the use of the world’s worst occupational killer: asbestos. [Read full article]

Global Asbestos Trade 2023: Spotlight on India

Sep 28, 2023

The release in August 2023 of updated asbestos trade data provided food for thought. While much seems to have changed since I first began studying the industry over 30 years ago – including the dwindling number of countries producing and consuming asbestos – the fact that 1,330,000 metric tons (t) are still being used every year, despite all that is known about the asbestos hazard, is appalling. Amongst the points of interest noted in the new data were: India remained the world’s biggest asbestos user, importing 424,000t in 2022; just five countries accounted for 85% of all asbestos consumed worldwide; apparent domestic consumption in Russia jumped by nearly 60% from 2021 to 2022. [Read full article]

Asbestos Anomalies 2023

Sep 26, 2023

There are a few of us, people who see the world through an asbestos filter. People like me who go to a tourist destination in Western Australia to gawp at the deteriorating asbestos-cement roofing on the outbuildings of a defunct whaling station; or someone like Fernanda Giannasi who zeroed in on a display case containing an asbestos hood for firefighters at the Museum of Japanese Immigration in São Paulo; or Mark Ogden who gave an asbestos masterclass to the unsuspecting museum chairman of a facility housing military memorabilia. For members of this select tribe, I would like to draw your attention to a few curious developments that have piqued my interest over recent months. [Read full article]

Global Cancer Increase and the Asbestos Hazard

Sep 20, 2023

The world is experiencing an explosion of cancers in younger people. Whilst “dietary risk factors (diet high in red meat, low in fruits, high in sodium and low in milk, etc), alcohol consumption and tobacco use” were postulated as the main risk factors, human exposures to cancer-causing asbestos should not be overlooked. Many of the people in the age 50 and under cohort now presenting with cancer were born in the 1970s and 1980s, decades during which the global use of asbestos was at its highest. According to the World Health Organization, exposure to: “all types of asbestos cause lung cancer, mesothelioma, cancer of the larynx and ovary, and asbestosis (fibrosis of the lungs).” [Read full article]

Multinational Campaign Denounces “Sportswashing”

Sep 12, 2023

On September 8, French asbestos victims endorsed action by their British counterparts demonstrating outside the Stade de France, Paris to denounce “sportswashing” of asbestos crimes by a multinational corporation headquartered in Montpelier, France. Solidarity with the protest was expressed in a press release by asbestos victims’ groups and campaigners in Latin America, Asia, Europe and Oceania, with Sugio Furuya, Coordinator of the Asian Ban Asbestos Network, saying: “Asbestos victims around the world have paid a high price for the profits made by asbestos companies. It is only right that some of the accumulated wealth be used for the benefit of those whose lives have been irreparably damaged by the immoral activities of Cape and others who prioritized corporate profits over human life.” [Read full article]

Press Release: Victims Denounce “Sportswashing,” Demanding Corporate Accountability

Sep 8 2023

A global alliance of asbestos victims’ groups and civil society campaigners from Asia, Oceania, Latin America and Europe today issued a formal declaration of solidarity with British and French asbestos victims’ groups calling for restitution by the Cape Asbestos Company, a former asbestos multinational. Instead of acceding to a request for a £10 million donation for potentially life-saving medical research into asbestos-related diseases, Cape’s parent company is sponsoring two rugby teams competing in the Rugby World Cup 2023. Coordinator of the Asian Ban Asbestos Network Sugio Furuya said: “It is only right that some of the accumulated wealth be used for the benefit of those whose lives have been irreparably damaged by the immoral activities of Cape and others who prioritized corporate profits over human life.” [Read full article]

Threat to New School Term after 13 Years of Tory Misrule

Sep 5, 2023

During the summer school holiday, news began circulating of a troubling situation in UK schools and public buildings. By the time children were getting ready for the new school year, the “situation” had become a full blown crisis as news spread that more than a hundred schools would not reopen due to the hazard posed by deteriorating reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete material. Considering the fact that the majority of schools still contain asbestos, the surveying work and remediation of affected structures will be both a long and expensive process. The Conservatives had plenty of warnings about the deterioration of the educational infrastructure; they chose not to listen. Unfortunately, it will be the children and teachers who will pay the price for their political complacency and maladministration. [Read full article]

A Very Long Wait for Brazilian Justice

Aug 24, 2023

Ten years after a Brazilian court upheld a complaint over a defamatory campaign targeting Senior Labor Inspector Fernanda Giannasi, the latest appeal by one of the defendants was dismissed. Commenting on this ruling, Fernanda Giannasi said: “This legal action was about reclaiming my dignity, honor and reputation in the face of the outrageous denunciations made by the defendants who stated that I had behaved in a way that was ‘illegal,’ ‘irresponsible,’ ‘authoritarian’ and ‘reckless.’” In the court of public opinion, the probity of this Brazilian activist was never in any doubt; nevertheless, it is reassuring to see that São Paulo Courts agree, even if they took ten years to do so. [Read full article]

Asbestos Roulette: Who’s Next?

Aug 22, 2023

Neither King Charles III, Canadian Prime Ministers Jean Chrétien and Stephen Harper and their families, President Donald Trump and his family, Harvard undergrad Matthew Walker, British MP Alice Mahon, Spanish TV star José María Íñigo, European Commission official Arnaldo Lucaccioni nor Israeli politician Tania Mazarsky were protected. All of them lived or worked in buildings riddled with asbestos. Three of them, Alice Mahon, José María Íñigo and Arnaldo Lucaccioni, paid the ultimate price for their exposures; as for the others, only time will tell. [Read full article]

Commentary – The Death of Journalism

Aug 15, 2023

On August 11, 2023, I learned of the death of the American investigative reporter Paul Brodeur. I had met him briefly many years ago when he had become something of a celebrity for his crusading work on asbestos and other workplace and environmental scandals. Asked about Paul’s legacy, Professor David Rosner from Columbia University said: “Paul’s work literally made the difference in tens of thousands of lives. Paul was the person that made a nation aware of the ways a corrupt industry was secretly killing us. While the battle to control asbestos-related diseases continues there is no doubt that his work led to the elimination of asbestos from thousands of products in our environment and the continuing efforts to hold a deadly industry to account for its misdeeds. We owe him our lives.” [Read full article]

The Demise of the Asbestos Industry: 2023 Update

Aug 10, 2023

According to the United States Geological Survey, between the 1980s – the global asbestos heyday – and 2021, annual production fell by 73% from 4,811,942 tonnes (t) to 1,300,000t/year. With dozens of countries banning all use of this Group 1 carcinogen and others choosing to use safer substances, asbestos markets continue to shrink. There is no question that even in the most tightly controlled regimes, knowledge about the links between human asbestos exposures and the occurrence of cancers and respiratory diseases has leaked out. Over recent weeks, multiple alerts have circulated via news outlets in Russia, Kazakhstan and China warning citizens about the asbestos hazard and advising them to minimize their exposures. [Read full article]

Saturday in São Caetano do Sul

Aug 8, 2023

São Caetano do Sul, a city in the Brazilian state of São Paulo, is a cancer hotspot as a result of a long industrial history of asbestos production. Brazil’s first asbestos-cement manufacturing facility was built in this city in 1937; under the ownership of the French multinational Saint Gobain, the plant simultaneously produced a range of asbestos-cement building material as well as generations of asbestos victims. Although it was closed in 1990, the number of victims continues to grow. On Saturday, July 29, 2023, a one-day workshop was held in the city’s council chamber for members of the Brazilian Association of the Asbestos-Exposed (ABREA) to provide updates on medical, legal, political and technical issues and the opportunity for ABREA members to voice concerns regarding a variety of subjects. [Read full article]

Inaugural Award for Outstanding Service to Asbestos Victims!

Jul 31, 2023

A coalition of activists represented by the International Ban Asbestos Secretariat (IBAS), the Brazilian Association of the Asbestos-Exposed (ABREA), the Asian Ban Asbestos Network and the Indonesian Ban Asbestos Network today congratulate Dr. Ubiratan de Paula Santos, the recipient of the first IBAS Award for Outstanding Service to Asbestos Victims. Dr. Ubiratan is a man of great compassion and empathy as well as a highly experienced pneumologist who has, in collaboration with ABREA members, revolutionized the treatment of asbestos victims by developing publicly-funded clinics and medical protocols which deliver state-of-the-art healthcare to asbestos-exposed workers. [Read full article]

Australia Did It, So Did Japan, Belgium and Brazil, Can Britain Do It Too?

July 27, 2023

Throughout the 20th and 21st centuries, asbestos companies committed unpardonable crimes. Their actions have resulted in millions of deaths worldwide. While some of the guilty parties have been held to account by national governments, criminal justice systems and civil litigants, it is rare that any of the wrong-doers have made restitution by supporting potentially life-saving medical research into the cancers and diseases caused by asbestos exposures. In Australia, Japan, Belgium and Brazil, however, successes have been achieved; optimism is building that a current campaign by UK asbestos victims will also secure vital funding. Read on. [Read full article]

A Dozen Famous & Infamous Figures and their Surprising Links to Asbestos

Jul 24, 2023

During the 30+ years that I have been involved in researching and writing about asbestos issues, I have come across many curious asbestos connections of well-known people. The individuals listed in this article include a major literary figure of the 20th century, a Hollywood superstar, an Australian icon, the Brazilian “Oprah Winfrey,” two former Presidents, a punk rocker, two Parliamentarians, a Rear Admiral and a medical doctor-politician-asbestos entrepreneur. Can you guess their names? [Read full article]

Britain’s Summer of Asbestos Dissent

Jul 20, 2023

The public profile of the deadly UK asbestos epidemic was heightened during the early weeks of Summer 2023. At grassroots events around the country and in front-page articles in national newspapers, calls were made for accountability from corporate and government stakeholders responsible for the “slow-burn crisis.” Data released in July 2023 by the Health and Safety Executive confirmed that 5,000 people were still dying every year from asbestos-related disease or as the CEO of Mesothelioma UK Consultant Nurse Liz Darlison memorably summed it up: “The total loss of life is equal to the sinking of more than three Titanics every year…” [Read full article]

Asbestos Contamination at Jussieu University: “A Judicial Scandal”

Jul 10, 2023

On July 5, 2023, a decision by the Paris Court of Appeal was termed a “judicial scandal” by asbestos victims’ and civil society campaigners who condemned the verdict upholding a lower court’s 2022 dismissal of a case over asbestos poisoning from 1960 until 1990 at Jussieu University. On two secondary points, the file was sent back to the investigating judges. Campaigners have pledged to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court. This long-running case began in 1996 after decades of grassroots mobilization by teaching staff, students and campaigners concerned about the presence of asbestos sprayed insulation throughout Jussieu’s built environment. [Read full article]

The 18th Anniversary of the Kubota Shock

Jul 7, 2023

June 29th is an important day in the history of the ban asbestos movement. On that day in 2005, the human consequences of Japan’s massive use of asbestos exploded onto the public consciousness in what has become known as the “Kubota Shock.” The announcement by representatives of the Kubota company that dozens of its employees had been killed by workplace asbestos exposures made headline news around the country. In the following days, one company after another made similar announcements. The Kubota Shock was highly significant for many reasons not least of which was the fact that it heightened public concerns about pollution following the Minamata mercury scandal (1950s), the Yokaichi asthma scandal (1960s), and the mass cadmium poisoning in Toyama Prefecture (1960s). [Read full article]

Europe Advancing Asbestos Protections

Jul 4, 2023

On June 27, 2023, it was announced that a political agreement had been reached by negotiators from the European Parliament and the European Council which would increase protections for EU workers. Revisions of the Asbestos at Work Directive will not only drastically reduce asbestos exposures, but will also: ensure the use of more accurate ways to measure exposure levels in line with the latest technology; implement protocols to better control work by asbestos removal and demolition companies; and mandate the establishment of national registers of all those diagnosed with asbestos-related occupational diseases. [Read full article]

Mesothelioma Landscape: Then and Now

Jul 3, 2023

Recently, there have been mesothelioma initiatives in Asia, Europe and Latin America. The timing of the events got me thinking about the evolution of the global mesothelioma landscape. Not so long ago, a diagnosis of mesothelioma, the signature cancer associated with asbestos exposure, would have been accompanied by advice for the patient to get their affairs in order. It is gratifying to see the progress which is being made in spreading awareness of this aggressive cancer and in developing new means to identify and support the injured. The activities in Indonesia, Brazil and France are highly significant. [Read full article]

Asbestos Scandal in France 2023

Jun 27, 2023

The broadcast of a documentary on a French public television channel in June set off a torrent of outrage over the presence of asbestos in nursery and primary schools. The revelation that more than one in three French schools, serving 700,000 students, were still contaminated with asbestos reverberated long after the show had ended. The day after the broadcast MP Louis Boyard stood up in Parliament demanding that the: “National Assembly, accept our request for a commission of enquiry to find solutions and protect these children from [exposures to] asbestos.” Boyard’s request was supported by several MPs. ANDEVA, the French umbrella group representing asbestos victims throughout the country, called on the Minister of Education to put an emergency plan in place to prioritize the safety of all school users. [Read full article]

Open Letter: Urgent Appeal to Brazilian Supreme Court Justices

Jun 26, 2023

As asbestos litigation remains pending in Brazil over the legitimacy of a State law contravening the 2017 Supreme Court asbestos ban, asbestos victims’ groups and campaigners from Latin America, Asia and Europe have appealed directly to the Supreme Court Judges to uphold the landmark verdict issued in 2017; the four signatories of the letter urged: “do what is right ...; not just for your citizens but for people all over the world who are dying from their exposures to asbestos originating in Brazil.” [Read full article]

Another Asbestos Ban in Asia!

Jun 20, 2023

According to the most recent asbestos trade data, between 2018 and 2020 Asian countries accounted for, on average, 87% of annual asbestos consumption worldwide. It is little wonder, therefore, that vested interests are aggressively targeting those markets to neutralize calls by governments, NGOs and civil society groups for an end to this toxic technology. While unilateral action on the asbestos hazard has been taken by a few Asian governments, in Southeast Asia, the only government to have banned asbestos is Brunei; on June 5, 2023, it was announced that the government of Cambodia would also end asbestos use in order to “to improve workers’ welfare.” [Read full article]

Landmark Jail Sentence for Swiss Asbestos Magnate

Jun 15, 2023

After hours of deliberation, the long-awaited verdict of the Court of Assizes in Novara, Italy was handed down on June 7, 2023 to a hushed courtroom. The regional court found that Swiss asbestos billionaire Stephan Schmidheiny was guilty of the aggravated manslaughter of 147 residents and factory workers from Casale Monferrato who had died as a result of exposure to Eternit’s asbestos fibers. He received a 12-year prison sentence and was banned from holding public office for five years. The Court recognized the right of civil parties to claim compensation in separate civil cases, but also awarded provisional damages to various civil society groups, government bodies, organizations and named plaintiffs. [Read full article]

Legal Victory in Tokyo for Construction Workers

Jun 1, 2023

Ever since a Japanese Supreme Court decision of May 17, 2021 established the liability of the Japanese Government and building products’ manufacturers for diseases contracted as a result of asbestos exposures experienced by construction workers, manufacturers have been engaged in a full-scale battle to avoid paying compensation to the injured. On May 31, 2023, the Tokyo High Court brought this war of attrition to an end when it ordered four companies – A&A Material (Yokohama City), Nichias (Tokyo), MMK (Tokyo) and Taikeiyo Cement (Tokyo) – to pay a total of 103.67 million yen (US$741,500) compensation to 22 claimants. [Read full article]

Paris Court Spurns Victims’ Petition

May 24, 2023

The hopes of tens of thousands of French citizens were crushed last week when a Paris Court rejected a direct summons requesting a criminal trial over the national asbestos scandal. On May 19, 2023 the Paris Criminal Court dismissed an action lodged in November, 2021 by 1,800+ plaintiffs seeking to hold to account the decision makers, government officials, executives and doctors who they believed were responsible for the epidemic which had taken so many lives. Rejecting the plaintiffs’ arguments and declaring the procedure “null and void,” the Court said that lack of detail and substance in the filings meant that it was not possible to conclusively link the alleged crimes to the accused. According to leaders of French victims’ groups, the verdict will be appealed. [Read full article]

Mobilizing for Asbestos Justice 2023

May 22, 2023

Around the world, asbestos victims’ groups and campaigners continue to raise the profile of the damage done by asbestos purveyors. Using a multiplicity of methods, which this month included billboards, outreach programs, workshops, negotiations with government officials, petitions and documentaries, they ensure that a formerly invisible epidemic remains at the forefront of national asbestos dialogues. Recent news about asbestos contamination in the British Parliament (London), the Pompidou Center (Paris) and the Canadian Prime Minister’s residence (Ottawa) confirm the potency of the asbestos hazard. The same fibers which make these buildings too dangerous to use are in the lungs of anyone who has ever worked or lived with asbestos and/or asbestos-containing products. [Read full article]

UN Convention Defiled

May 15, 2023

The final spadeful of dirt was dug for the grave of the Rotterdam Convention (RC) on May 12, 2023. After a tumultuous week of negotiations, tantrums and grandstanding, rapacious vested interests – led by Russian asbestos stakeholders – succeeded not only in blocking UN progress on chrysotile (white) asbestos but also in annihilating efforts to reform a treaty which is no longer fit for purpose. After almost 20 years of existence and more than ten years of discussions to enhance the effectiveness of the RC, it could be time to consider whether there is any purpose in continuing life support for a moribund Convention when there is so little hope for recovery. [Read full article]

International Workers Memorial Day 2023

May 10, 2023

In scores of countries around the world, April 28, 2023 was commemorated as International Workers Memorial Day (IWMD). Trade unions, labor federations as well as groups representing victims of workplace illnesses and accidents took action to highlight the price paid by ordinary people for the continued existence of unsafe working practices and use of hazardous substances such as asbestos. IWMD is a valuable conduit for exposing the human toll of corporate cost-cutting, government incompetence and failures of international agencies to protect vulnerable populations. The IWMD slogan – remember the dead, fight for the living – could not be more apt. [Read full article]

Rotterdam Convention Primer 2023

May 9, 2023

The Eleventh Conference of the Parties (COP11) to the Rotterdam Convention (RC) on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade is now taking place in Geneva (May 1-12, 2023). The RC is a UN treaty designed to progress environmental justice by imposing controls on trade in dangerous substances. On eight occasions, recommendations were made that action be taken on chrysotile asbestos; each time a small number of Parties blocked the RC from doing so. At COP11, the RC’s Chemical Review Committee will again recommend adding chrysotile to Annex III, the list of substances subject to prior-informed consent protocols. Russia, which had led opposition to listing chrysotile previously, has already indicated it will do so again. [Read full article]

Not Waving but Drowning: UK vs EU Asbestos Policy 2023

May 2, 2023

As the European Union (EU) progresses efforts to protect citizens from toxic asbestos exposures as part of the “New Wave of EU Renovation,” the UK is going down for the third time with experts warning that as a result of Brexit, by the end of 2023 the country could be without asbestos safeguards for the first time since the 1930s. More than a century after alarm bells began ringing about the asbestos hazard, more than 5,000 Britons are dying every year from diseases which are totally avoidable. The blame for this rests squarely on callous politicians, impotent regulators and penny-pinching employers. God help us all when EU asbestos protections are gone. [Read full article]

Asbestos Hazard at UN Meeting?

Apr 26, 2023

Asbestos victims and trade unionists from Asia, Europe, North America, Latin America and Australia have today expressed concern over the possible presence of asbestos at the Geneva International Conference Centre where UN delegates will meet next month (May 2023) at the 11th Conference of the Parties to the Rotterdam Convention (COP11) to discuss the regulation of the global asbestos trade. Coordinator of the Asian Ban Asbestos Network Sugio Furuya said: “Delegates to COP11 have a right to know whether the building they will be meeting in contains asbestos.” To date, questions asked to officials at the Conference Center and the Convention Secretariat about the presence of asbestos-containing material in the building remain unanswered. [Read full article]

Monetizing Their Mistakes: Paying for the São Paulo Debacle

Apr 20, 2023

The question of who is to pay for the damage caused by the decision of the Brazilian Navy to sink its former flagship remains unanswered. The filing last week of a public civil action by the Attorney General of the Brazilian State of Pernambuco opened a new stage in this sorry tale of subterfuge and incompetence. Compensation of R$322 million (US$65,582,795) is being sought “for environmental, operational and moral damages” from four companies and their directors who, it was alleged, had abandoned the São Paulo on the high seas. As result of their actions and omissions, the ship was deliberately sunk by the Navy 350 kilometers off the coast of Pernambuco in February 2023 after spending several months adrift, having been unable to find a port willing to offer a safe haven. [Read full article]

The UK’s Grim and Enduring Asbestos Legacy

Apr 17, 2023

The betrayal of UK citizens by yet another incompetent government continues as the numbers of deaths caused by asbestos exposures increases. Whilst countries like Korea and Poland have set deadlines for asbestos eradication from their built environments, the UK’s laissez-faire asbestos policy endures with discredited reassurances from the Health and Safety Executive – “a UK government agency responsible for the encouragement, regulation and enforcement of workplace health, safety and welfare” – that “there is no known safe level of asbestos exposure but that’s not to say it can’t be managed safely.” [Read full article]

Eradicating Asbestos from Korea’s Schools

Apr 3, 3023

The Korean Government has set a deadline of 2027 for the removal of asbestos from the country’s educational infrastructure. Pursuant to this aim, asbestos eradication programs are ongoing throughout the country; in most cases, removal work is conducted during the school holidays to avoid disrupting the education process. Members of the grassroots group Ban Asbestos Korea (BANKO) have worked closely with regional education departments to organize watchdog teams composed of environmental campaigners, parents and technical experts to monitor and, when necessary, intervene in key processes such as project planning, construction of safety facilities and disposal of asbestos debris. [Read full article]

Wartime Asbestos Guidelines

Mar 14, 2023

This 18-page Pragmatic Guidance for Emergency Repairs of Structures That May Contain Asbestos in Ukraine published this month (March 2023) by Miyamoto International was the result of collaboration between Ukrainian and international scientists and global experts in disaster management. These interim guidelines were developed to deal with a complex series of problems in a high risk environment. Amongst the specific challenges facing emergency workers in Ukraine are: the ubiquity of asbestos-containing material, a low level of public awareness about the asbestos hazard, the scarcity of personal protective equipment and laboratory testing capacity, and the lack of registered disposal sites, not to mention the threat posed by the war. [Read full article]

Supreme Courts’ Asbestos Verdicts

Mar 7, 2023

Around the world, Supreme Courts have been deciding issues arising from deadly asbestos legacies including who can be held to account for avoidable diseases contracted by citizens. In Europe, North America and Asia the highest courts in the land weighed in on the side of the victims in landmark verdicts in 2021-23; in Brazil, however, in a unique historical precedent, on February 23, 2023 the Federal Supreme Court upheld its 2017 judgment outlawing the production, processing, use, sale and export of asbestos. Brazilian citizens, French factory workers, US consumers and Japanese construction workers will all benefit from the decisions taken by Supreme Courts in their countries. These landmark rulings demonstrate an increasing disquiet with failures to address national asbestos legacies. [Read full article]

Brazil Asbestos Ban Upheld!

Feb 25, 2023

On February 23, 2023, Brazil’s Supreme Court (STF) upheld a decision banning the commercial exploitation of asbestos. By a vote of 7 to 1, the Judges rejected appeals of the August 2017 STF plenary decision that had prohibited the mining, processing, use, sale and transport of chrysotile (white) asbestos, an acknowledged carcinogen. The majority opinion handed down in Brasilia this week reaffirmed the STF’s position that the Brazilian law under which the asbestos sector had flourished – article 2 of Federal Law 9.055/1995 – was unconstitutional. The two-page verdict marked the end of an industrial sector which had brought pain and death not only to Brazilians but to people in every country to which Brazilian asbestos was sent. [Read full article]

Light at the End of the Tunnel?

Feb 21, 2023

A proposal to end an impasse preventing UN action to protect populations and the environment from exposures to hazardous chemicals and pesticides is under consideration. An amendment to the text of the Rotterdam Convention (RC) on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade tabled by the Governments of Switzerland, Australia and Mali, and co-sponsored by Burkina Faso, Colombia, Georgia, Ghana and the Republic of the Maldives would change voting procedures so that a handful of vested interests would no longer be able to frustrate the will of the majority of the Parties to the Convention. [Read full article]

Britain’s Asbestos Legacy: 2023 Update

Feb 8, 2023

Whilst the European Union is progressing measures to better protect workers from asbestos exposures and encourage the eradication of the hazard from Europe’s built environment, little is being done in post-Brexit Britain to address what some campaigners have termed “a national scandal.” Recent investigations have confirmed widespread contamination of NHS buildings – including hospitals, health centres, blood donor clinics and GP surgeries – in London and Scotland and schools in England and Wales. Strike action being taken this week by employees of a social housing company underline the decline in protection being afforded to UK workers as well as members of the public. [Read full article]

Anger Growing in Brazil over Asbestos Crimes

Jan 20, 2023

The last few months of 2022 saw a remarkable series of events which revealed the volte-face in Brazilians’ perception of asbestos. In decisions by the judiciary and provincial governments, TV broadcasts and victories by grassroots’ campaigners, lies told by the asbestos lobby were denounced, the return of an asbestos-laden ship was blocked and the lives sacrificed by asbestos stakeholders were honored. High-profile developments were: verdicts by courts in São Paulo and Pernambuco condemning attacks by the asbestos lobby on a ban asbestos campaigner and supporting a state’s right to bar a toxic ship – the São Paulo – from its waters; the quashing of an injunction by the Superior Civil Court; and mobilization by civil society groups and state agencies to prevent the docking of the São Paulo in their ports. [Read full article]

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]

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]

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]

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]

Turkey’s Asbestos Dilemma 2021

Apr 14, 2021

The furore over news that an asbestos-laden aircraft carrier was destined for scrapping at a Turkish shipyard has brought to the fore the failure of the country to address the invisible but deadly legacy caused by its consumption of around 1 million tonnes of asbestos, the presence of naturally occurring asbestos in rural areas and the consequences of hazardous working conditions in ship recycling/scrapping yards. In recent days, opposition to the import of another toxic ship to Izmir has been growing by the hour with petitions being submitted to the port authorities, outspoken condemnation by scientists, environmentalists, and health and safety campaigners and even threats of legal action to prevent the dismantling from taking place. [Read full article]

Confidence Tricksters and Asbestos Thugs from the Brazilian State of Goiás

Mar 24, 2021

Under the cover of the global pandemic which has already killed more than a quarter of a million Brazilians, asbestos industry stakeholders continue illegal efforts to maximize profits despite deadly human consequences. In contravention of a Supreme Court ruling (2017) and state laws, executives from the Sama Minerações Associadas (SAMA) company are collaborating with municipal and state politicians to pursue diverse options to achieve their goal: the export of SAMA asbestos. These crimes are being exposed by the Public Ministry of Labor which has obtained multiple injunctions to prevent the transport, handling and export of SAMA asbestos. [Read full article]

Legal Breakthroughs for Asbestos Victims in Spain

Mar 22, 2021

Last week, legal victories in Spain revealed a seismic shift in the landscape for asbestos victims. On March 15, 2021 the Supreme Court confirmed the right to compensation for asbestos injuries to people who had lived near an asbestos factory in Barcelona; the Court acknowledged that family members of factory workers as well as local people were eligible for financial restitution from Uralita, formerly Spain’s biggest asbestos manufacturer. On March 16, news was circulated of a plaintiff’s verdict in a case brought by the family of José María Íñigo, a famous Spanish broadcaster who died from the asbestos cancer mesothelioma in 2018. A Madrid Court ruled that his death had been caused by occupational exposures to asbestos at the studios of the Spanish broadcasting corporation: RTVE. [Read full article]

Open Letter to Brazilian Authorities

Mar 10, 2021

Representatives of Brazilian and Asian asbestos victims’ groups and campaigners active in the global struggle to protect human beings from deadly exposures to asbestos have issued an open letter to authorities investigating the illegal export of asbestos from the São Paulo Port of Santos. The correspondents congratulated personnel at the Sanitary Surveillance Department of Santos Port, the Labor Public Prosecutor's Office and São Paulo Health Department for steps taken to uphold the country’s asbestos ban and to protect populations in importing countries from toxic exposures. The letter’s authors highlighted the UN publication ultimatum: “that States refrain from permitting the export of hazardous substances for uses in other countries different from those they permit in their own. (Versão em Português) [Read full article]

Asbestos Victims Seize the Initiative in Spring Offensives

Mar 5, 2021

In recent days, asbestos victims and campaigners have launched legal, social and political initiatives to address glaring asbestos injustices and improve conditions for the injured in Latin America, Europe and North America. In Brazil, warnings by an asbestos victims’ group prevented an illegal shipment of asbestos from leaving the country; in France, asbestos victims appealed to the Attorney General at the Supreme Court and the Minister of Justice for assistance in expediting criminal trials of those responsible for the country’s asbestos scandal; in the UK, the work of victims’ groups was mentioned in Parliament during a debate which highlighted the effects the pandemic had had on the rights of asbestos victims, while in the US, advocacy groups sought to force the EPA to adequately evaluate asbestos health risks. [Read full article]

Red Letter Day for Asbestos Victims and Campaigners

Mar 1, 2021

February 23, 2021 marked a watershed moment for the global asbestos victims’ community with the announcement by the World Health Organization (WHO) that an Australian research foundation had been recognized as the first WHO Collaborating Centre on Asbestos-Related Diseases. Despite all the evidence documenting the deadly consequences of asbestos use, over one million tonnes of asbestos are still being used every year. The identification of asbestos victims is a crucial first step in visualizing the human price being paid for the asbestos industry’s profits. The larger the number of victims diagnosed and the greater their visibility, the more pressure will be exerted on governments to take the only morally defensible action possible and ban asbestos. [Read full article]

Pandemic Portends the Demise of the Asbestos Industry

Feb 23, 2021

Throughout the pandemic, there’s been a resurgence of support for sustainable development, “environment-friendly policymaking,” “better informed government direction,” and evidence-based decision making. Politicians the world over have pledged to “build back better,” “restore science to Government,” “mobilize science” to protect the health and well-being of citizens and develop policies “guided by the best available scientific data.” The accomplishment of these goals will be fundamental to addressing climate change and creating a greener economy for current and future generations. The continuing use of asbestos is incompatible with this shared vision and the decline in its use over recent years substantiates the widespread rejection of this toxic technology. [Read full article]

Letter to Brazilian Authorities Regarding Auction of Aircraft Carrier São Paulo

Feb 11, 2021

Writing to Brazil’s Ministries of Defence and Environment, campaigners from Latin America and Europe highlight troubling issues over the upcoming auction of the aircraft carrier São Paulo. In their letter, the NGO Shipbreaking Platform, the Brazilian Association of the Asbestos-Exposed (ABREA) and partnering organizations express concern that the vessel might wind up on a ship-breaking beach in South Asia. The carrier, they point out, “contains large amounts of asbestos that needs to be handled and disposed of without exposing workers and surrounding communities to the risk of cancer.” [Portuguese version] [French version]. [Read full article]

The Interminable Wait for Asbestos Justice in France

Feb 2, 2021

No sooner were French asbestos victims hailing a judicial breakthrough in their 25-year-old campaign to hold employers, executives and managers to account for deadly workplace exposures, than another legal stratagem was launched which will, at the very least, delay criminal proceedings for another two years. Even before the print had dried on the January 20 judgment, news was circulating that an appeal had been lodged by Ms. Champrenault, the Attorney General at the Paris Court of Appeal, to the Court of Cassation (France’s Supreme Court). Adding insult to injury, Champrenault announced that whilst the appeal to the Court of Cassation was pending, she intended to request an order suspending, for the time being, hearings on all other major asbestos cases before the Court of Appeal. [Read full article]

Auction of MV Funchal, Iconic Portuguese Vessel

Jan 28, 2021

European groups representing asbestos victims and campaigning associations have expressed concerns over the January 29, 2021 auction of the former Portuguese vessel MV Funchal which is being sold two years after it was purchased by the UK company Signature Living, now in administration. Rumors are circulating that the vessel – which has remained berthed in Lisbon since it was bought – will be scrapped. According to a campaigner who has been closely monitoring the situation, there are “about 100 tons of asbestos in a friable state, namely composed of the fiber types chrysotile, amosite and tremolite” on-board, which were identified by a hazardous substance audit (see also: Versão Portuguesa) . [Read full article]

Bangladesh Shipbreaking Industry Exposed

Jan 27, 2021

“Sham” documentation¸ clandestine ownership by offshore companies, and breaches of international conventions and national regulations continue to endanger Bangladeshi shipbreaking workers and communities. The commercial exploitation of regulatory loopholes combined with large financial incentives are a toxic combination attracting international customers to scrap surplus tonnage at beaching yards in Bangladesh, the top ship-recycling country in the world. With ill-informed government officials, a lack of testing capacity and the non-existence of health and safety regulation of the informal sector shipowners as well as shipbreaking companies remain immune from prosecution for injuries or contamination caused by their business practices. [Read full article]

José María Íñigo’s Last Battle

Jan 20, 2021

The 2018 mesothelioma death of Spanish household name José María Íñigo remains unresolved. Court proceedings begin in Madrid this week (January 21) in an attempt by his family to find his employer – the Spanish Radio and Television Company (RTVE) – liable for occupational asbestos exposures experienced whilst the broadcaster was working in the company’s iconic Studio 1. The first step in the litigation is to obtain a finding that the cause of death was due to occupational exposure. Once that has been achieved, the family will progress the personal injury lawsuit for compensation begun by José María Íñigo. A victory in this case with strengthen the rights of all Spanish asbestos victims. [Read full article]

Glimmers of Hope 2020

Dec 22, 2020

Developments this year have been unprecedented in living memory: lives lost, families decimated, health systems attacked and economies wrecked. There have been few communities which have been spared the devastation wrought by the coronavirus. Despite this bleak scenario, campaigners and groups working to support victims of asbestos-related diseases continued their efforts, recognizing that amongst those most vulnerable to Covid-19 were people whose lungs had been damaged by asbestos. This snapshot of some of the outstanding initiatives rolled out in 2020 is indicative of the long-term sustained efforts being made to address another global pandemic, one caused by exposures to asbestos, which is claiming up to 250,000 lives a year. [Read full article]

Letter to the President of the International Chrysotile Association

Dec 2, 2020

In a letter dated November 27, 2020, asbestos victims groups from Belgium, Italy, France and the UK called on the President of the International Chrysotile Association (ICA) – a lobbying group representing the interests of international asbestos industry stakeholders – to resign, due to the inherent hypocrisy of an EU citizen promoting sales of a carcinogenic substance abroad whilst it is banned at home. The ICA’s President is Emiliano Alonso, a Spanish lawyer and professional lobbyist, with offices in Madrid and Brussels. The letter called on him “to stop aiding and abetting this discrimination and racism… [and] stop helping the asbestos industry create more asbestos victims in developing countries.” (French version of letter.) (Article is English version.) [Read full article]

Asian Development Bank Bans Asbestos!

Nov 16, 2020

On November 9, 2020, Bruce Dunn, Director of the Asian Development Bank’s Safeguards Division, confirmed their intention to prohibit use of all asbestos-containing products on ABD projects. The ADB had first announced its intention to close an existing loophole – allowing the use of bonded asbestos cement sheeting composed of less than 20% asbestos fiber – at the end of 2019 when an ADB representative confirmed that: “From 2020, ADB will refrain from financing any new projects containing any presence of asbestos; this update will be reflected in the next review of ADB’s Safeguard Policy Statement.” Welcoming the news, Sugio Furuya of the Asian Ban Asbestos Network said: “The Bank’s prohibition of asbestos sends out a signal loud and clear that there is no place in the 21st century for asbestos.” [Read full article]

Schmidheiny in the Dock, 2020

Nov 13, 2020

Events scheduled to take place this month (November 2020) mark the continuation of a 50-year battle to obtain justice for Italy’s asbestos victims. On November 27th yet another trial against Swiss asbestos billionaire Stephen Schmidheiny will commence. In the last decade, public prosecutors have launched legal actions against the defendant charging him, in various jurisdictions and at different times, with murder, manslaughter, aggravated culpable homicide, voluntary homicide causing permanent environmental damage and failing to comply with safety rules. Although guilty verdicts against Schmidheiny were vacated by Italy’s Supreme Court in 2014, asbestos claimants remain optimistic that the defendant will finally be held to account for the damage done and heartache caused to so many Italian families. [Read full article]

Grassroots Literacy and the Written Record: A Story of Asbestos Activism in South Africa

Nov 2, 2020

Grassroots Literacy and the Written Record tells the story of the Asbestos Interest Group (AIG), a village-based network of asbestos activists in post-apartheid South Africa. The book is set in the Kuruman district, a former mining center on the Cape Asbestos Belt, now a landscape of retrenched mines and mills and derelict tailing dumps, where the presence of asbestos continues to cause deadly diseases long after the mines closed in the 1990s and the new democratic government banned asbestos in 2008. The book follows the AIG from its inception, documenting its efforts to raise awareness of the dangers of asbestos; its grassroots research project to map sites of secondary asbestos contamination; its participation in a historic legal case; and its work helping ex-mineworkers access compensation. [Read full article]

UK Battle for Justice: Asbestos Victims Penalized

Oct 27, 2020

UK sufferers of asbestos-related diseases are at increased risk from Covid-19 as their lungs are already scarred by the toxic fibers previously ingested. As well as fearing for their lives during these turbulent times, they face a Herculean task to access compensation to which they are entitled. According to information provided by the Asbestos Victims Support Groups Forum UK, 272 asbestos claims for Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit have yet to be processed and 16 victims have died whilst waiting to receive these benefits. The Tories are responding to Covid-19 as they do to every crisis: with a ruthless venality that prioritizes their interests at all costs. Almost nine months into the UK epidemic, the needs of asbestos victims remain unaddressed. [Read full article]

Brazilian Success: Pioneering Medical Program to Expand!

Oct 21, 2020

An injection of funds this year is enabling a ground-breaking asbestos surveillance and treatment collaboration created in 2018 by medical experts at the Heart Institute of the University of São Paulo and the Brazilian Association of the Asbestos-Exposed to expand its support network to patients in additional Brazilian cities. The pilot project provided care, free of charge, for local people with asbestos-related diseases at a medical outpatient clinic at the São Paulo Heart Institute. With the 2020 grants, first class medical training is being provided to doctors in the cities of Campinas, Piracicaba and Rio Claro to build capacity to diagnose and care for asbestos patients, most of whom are unskilled workers without resources to pay healthcare or treatment costs. [Read full article]

From Asbestos to Val-des-Sources

Oct 21, 2020

On October 19, 2020, the Mayor of the former Canadian mining town called “Asbestos” announced that the third round of a referendum to change the town’s name had resulted in a majority for the name Val-des-Sources (in English, Valley of Sources or Valley of Springs), a reference to the town’s location at the confluence of three lakes. During a livestreamed extraordinary meeting of the town council broadcast at 5:30 p.m. via Facebook on October 19, the new name was adopted by the council and was, said Mayor Hughes Grimard, now being submitted for approval to Quebec’s toponymy commission and then to Quebec’s Department of Municipal Affairs. The Mayor is optimistic that the change could be official by Christmas. [Read full article]

Marking the 20th Anniversary of Landmark Asbestos Congress

Oct 16, 2020

The 20th anniversary of the Global Asbestos Congress 2000: Past Present and Future (GAC 2000) last month was a time of mixed emotions. Plans to mark this eventful occasion at the original venue in Osasco, Brazil were derailed by unforeseen developments: Covid-19. The disappointment of the cancellation of the anniversary event in Brazil spurred us to revisit plans to host the GAC 2000 annals on the IBAS website, a task which proved more complex than we had anticipated. Nevertheless, this resource – which includes Congress presentations, extra-Congress submissions, documentation, photographic exhibitions and photos of the GAC 2000 activities – and an introductory article have now been uploaded. [Read full article]

Remembering Nirmala Gurung

Sep 18, 2020

It is with great sadness that we report the news that Nirmala Gurung passed away on September 9, 2020. Nirmala was a former teacher and headmistress of a secondary school in the Indian State of Madhya Pradesh. Her engagement in the struggle to ban asbestos initially in India and more latterly around the world was the result of a happenstance. Nirmala became a formidable campaigner, working with grassroots activists at home and film-makers from abroad to raise awareness of the price paid by workers and communities for the asbestos industry’s profits. Her passing will be mourned by those fortunate to have known her and those who just knew her from afar. [Read full article]

Peru’s Pandora’s Box: Made of Asbestos

Aug 21, 2020

A new research paper by a team of scientists from Peru has aired the inconvenient truth about the country’s failure to stem the tide of deaths caused by occupational and environmental exposures to asbestos. The fact that the use of chrysotile (white) asbestos remains legal in Peru and that imports of crocidolite (blue) asbestos were only banned in 2014 are serious grounds for concern according to the authors of this text. Having correlated asbestos import data between 1965 and 2010 with the incidence of mesothelioma mortality between 2005 and 2014 (430 deaths), the scientists reported that the highest incidences of mesothelioma mortality were for the cities of Arequipa, Callao and Huancavelica and that multiple opportunities to eradicate the problem had been wasted. [Read full article]

White Powder, Black Lives

July 10, 2020

On July 8, 2020, a press release by the US organization Black Women for Wellness (BWW) announced the worldwide mobilization of civil society groups over continuing sales of talc-based Johnson & Johnson (J&J) baby powder which has been found, on multiple occasions by government and independent analysts, to contain asbestos. This initiative came a week after Janette Robinson Flint – BWW’s Executive Director – had sent a letter to J&J’s CEO denouncing the company’s “systemic racism” and aggressive marketing of its toxic talc “to women of color, distributing free samples in Black churches and advertising on Spanish-language radio.” The public outcry over the company’s behaviour and adverse legal developments are discussed in this article. [Read full article]

Double Standards: Toxic Talc Banned at Home, On Sale Abroad

May 28, 2020

Under the cover of the Covid-19 pandemic, pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson (J&J) issued a statement saying it was withdrawing its iconic talc-based baby powder – which is at the center of thousands of US legal claims over asbestos-caused cancers – from sale in North America. The news about J&J’s desertion of its signature product – which had been in constant production since 1894 and was sold worldwide – was reported not only in the US and Canada but throughout the world. Health and safety campaigners from India, Brazil, Korea and elsewhere have denounced the implied double standards of this action saying lives outside North America are equally at risk from the use of J&J’s asbestos-contaminated talc-based baby powder. [Read full article]

Press Release: Death, Duplicity and Double Standards

May 25, 2020

Ban asbestos campaigners and representatives of asbestos victims’ groups from around the world have today issued a press release deploring the double standards of the U.S. pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson which has announced it was withdrawing sales of talcum-based baby powder – alleged to contain asbestos fibers – in the U.S. and Canada whilst continuing to sell it elsewhere. “This is,” said grassroots activist Mohit Gupta “one more example of corporations putting profit before the lives of people. Instead of replacing the toxic baby powder with one free of asbestos in India, as they are doing in North America, they are just pushing sales of this hazardous product in a market with weak regulatory mechanisms, few testing guidelines and low consumer awareness.” [Read full article]

Open Letter to the Governor of Goiás State Dr. Ronaldo Caiado

Apr 24, 2020

Groups representing asbestos victims and campaigners from Brazil, Europe and Asia have today written to the Governor of Brazil’s former asbestos mining state expressing support for his pro-active stance on COVID-19 and urging him to adopt the same precautionary principle to the human health hazard posed by chrysotile (white) asbestos. The authors of the text represent organizations behind the Asian Ban Asbestos Mission to Brazil 2019 which called on civil society associations, politicians, civil servants, concerned citizens and members of the judiciary to support the universality of the 2017 Supreme Court decision outlawing the production, sale and use of asbestos in face of plans to recommence asbestos mining in Goiás State (Portuguese version of full article). [Read full article]

UK Cancer Care during a National Emergency

Mar 30, 2020

In these unprecedented times, populations the world over have been confronted with a terrifying new reality that has unravelled daily routines, reordered national priorities and thrown into disarray virtually every aspect of human life. In the UK, the country with the world’s worst incidence of asbestos cancer, the treatment of patients with mesothelioma – the signature asbestos cancer – as well as other asbestos-related cancers and respiratory diseases was disrupted as hospitals geared up to prepare for the onslaught of the COVID-19 pandemic. Showing a breath-taking ability to adapt to changing circumstances, UK asbestos victim support groups and charities began devising ways to continue serving their communities, some of which are discussed in this article. [Read full article]

Commentary: Toxic Talc

Mar 4, 2020

Recent developments in the US suggest that talcs analyzed with transmission electron microscopy can commonly be found to contain asbestos fibers. If so, the use of these products as baby powders and cosmetic powders should be stopped immediately. The long-time failure of government regulators in the US and Europe to protect the public from asbestos in talc consumer products has led to deadly exposures which could and should have been avoided. The recent finding of asbestos in Johnson & Johnson Baby Powder by the US Food and Drug Administration suggests that analysis of products being sold to the public in all countries urgently needs to be done using the electron microscopy method of analysis. [Read full article]

Press Release: Asbestos Scandal!

Feb 14, 2020

Groups representing asbestos victims in Brazil and Asia have joined international campaigners to denounce moves by Eternit S.A., formerly Brazil’s largest asbestos conglomerate, to temporarily restart asbestos processing in Goiás State in order to export 24,000 tonnes of asbestos to Asian countries. Commenting on this matter, President Eliezer João de Souza of the Brazilian Association of the Asbestos-Exposed said: “It is an abomination that Eternit should try and avoid the Supreme Court ban to inflict more toxic fiber on unsuspecting workers and communities in Asia.” Campaigner Sugio Furuya, representing the Asian Ban Asbestos Network, hopes “common sense will prevail and that all exports will be suspended.” (Portuguese version of full article.) [Read full article]

Pioneering Medical Treatment Program in Brazil

Feb 10, 2020

As a result of a remarkable partnership of asbestos victims, health professionals and civil servants, an asbestos outreach initiative in São Paulo, Brazil celebrated its second anniversary in December 2019. Funds for this pioneering project were sourced from a court fine imposed on Brazil’s former asbestos giant Eternit, S.A. for non-compliance with a legal agreement made with the Federal Public Ministry of Labor (4th Region). Since 2017, the clinic has identified 143 patients with asbestos-related diseases of which 92% were males; 57% had worked for Eternit (in the Osasco plant), 25% for Brasilit, 7% for Precon and 11% for other companies. [Read full article]

Clemenceau’s sister ship heading for the scrapyard – France must act responsibly.

Jan 30, 2020

A press release issued on January 30, 2020 by the NGO Shipbreaking Platform called on the French Government to ensure that a former French vessel, which was sold to the Brazilian Navy in 2000 and renamed the São Paulo, is disposed of according to the Basel Convention on the Transboundary Movements and Disposal of Hazardous Waste and not sold to the highest bidder who would, in all likelihood, scrap the vessel on a South Asian ship-breaking beach. The vessel contains a large amount of hazardous substances including 900 tonnes of asbestos and asbestos-containing material. See also press release issued in September 2019 in which these matters were also highlighted. [Read full article]

Stephan Schmidheiny in the Dock: Again!

Jan 28, 2020

A small victory was achieved on January 24, 2020 in the long-standing battle to get justice for thousands of Italian asbestos victims when a Court in Vercelli in northern Italy ordered that Swiss billionaire Stephan Schmidheiny, former owner of the Swiss Eternit asbestos group, face charges of voluntary murder (“omicidio volontario”) for the asbestos-related deaths of almost 400 people from the town of Casale Monferrato, the site of an Eternit asbestos-cement factory. The trial was scheduled to begin on November 27, 2020. Legal actions against the same defendant are also being pursued in other Italian jurisdictions over asbestos-related deaths of Eternit employees and local residents. [Read full article]

The Post-Disaster Asbestos Hazard: 1995-2020


In the decades spanning the occurrence of the Great Hanshin Earthquake in 1995 and the Australian Bushfire Crisis of 2020, the release of asbestos fibers has been identified as a post-disaster hazard on multiple occasions. In an interview with IBAS this month (January, 2020), Emeritus Professor Ken Takahashi – formerly a Professor and Director at the University of Occupational and Environmental Health, Japan and currently the Director of the (Australian) Asbestos Diseases Research Institute – highlighted areas of concern for affected populations, emergency responders, clean-up crews, Ministers, civil servants and government agencies – calling for a coordinated, long-term approach to the potential health consequences of the fallout from the fires. [Read full article]

Statement from the Collegium Ramazzini to the Supreme Court of Pakistan

Jan 17, 2020

As Pakistan’s Supreme Court considers litigation regarding the legality of asbestos use, a 7 page letter (Jan. 13, 2020) by the Collegium Ramazzini – an international society dedicated to protecting human health – highlighted the significance of the Court’s deliberations and reminded the Judges that: “In January 2013, the Pakistan National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Human Resource Development recommended that Pakistan ban the import and use of chrysotile asbestos.” That decision was attacked by the International Chrysotile Association, a body representing the interests of asbestos stakeholders. Evidence submitted in the current case detailed the asbestos policies of international agencies, all of which agree that asbestos should be prohibited to protect health. [Read full article]

Global Asbestos Panorama 2019

Dec 19, 2019

A shortened version of this paper was presented at the annual International Asbestos Safety Conference held by Australia’s Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency on November 12, 2019 at the Perth Convention and Exhibition Center. The presentation by IBAS Coordinator Laurie Kazan-Allen noted progress made throughout the year in the global struggle for asbestos justice, highlighted ongoing challenges faced by campaigners and detailed the dirty tricks, intimidatory tactics and fake news used by asbestos vested interests to forestall national governments from acting on the asbestos hazard. New maps, bar charts, and illustrations were shown emphasizing the threat to Asian populations of increasing asbestos consumption. [Read full article]

Asbestos Awareness in Australia: Then and Now

Dec 11, 2019

In the 35 years since an Asbestos Awareness Week was first recognized in Australia, it has become a calendar fixture with asbestos victims’ groups, charities, government agencies and institutions around the country holding information sessions, remembrances ceremonies and outreach events to raise the profile of asbestos during November. Due to the widespread usage of asbestos-containing material in Western Australia, the State has the country’s highest incidence of asbestos diseases. Last month (November), a series of events took place in WA to educate citizens, engage stakeholders and support the injured. This article describes some of those events. [Read full article]

Forty Years of Asbestos Protest Art

Oct 21, 2019

Decades after it was created, the work entitled Asbestos: The Lungs of Capitalism (1978) was being readied for installation by staff at the Tate. On October 16, 2019, British-born artist Conrad Atkinson was in London to supervise the installation of this piece acquired by the museum in 2007. The fact that the constituent parts included asbestos necessitated both remediation and conservation work; as per health and safety regulations, some of the elements were sealed in Perspex boxes to make the asbestos items safe to handle. This article discussed the impact this work made on the author and urged the Tate – in light of an ongoing asbestos epidemic killing 5,000 Britons every year – to ensure that it be exhibited at the earliest possible opportunity. [Read full article]

Landmark Asbestos Initiative in Brazil

Oct 2, 2019

In Minas Gerais, the Brazilian state with the country’s highest incidence of the deadly asbestos cancer mesothelioma, a remarkable grassroots initiative took place last week. A mobile CT scanner and medical personnel from the Barretos Cancer Hospital, Belo Horizonte State arrived in the city of São José da Lapa on September 22, 2019 to examine former and current employees of the Precon company – formerly a manufacturer of asbestos-cement building products – and other asbestos-using companies. Precon had consistently denied the potential hazard posed to workers by exposures to asbestos and the municipal authorities have turned a blind eye to the town’s high incidence of asbestos cancer. [Read full article]

Letter: Concerning public auction of aircraft carrier São Paulo.

Sep 27, 2019

A letter to the Brazilian Minister of Defence sent by campaigning groups based in Brazil, Europe and North America called for action to prevent the sale of the aircraft carrier São Paulo to scrap dealers likely to send the ship for dismantling to the unregulated beaches of South Asia; the presence on-board of pollutants including asbestos, heavy metals and oil residues was cited. Under the Basel Convention on Transboundary Movements and Disposal of Hazardous Waste, which Brazil has signed, sending this vessel to another country without first removing the toxic substances is illegal. The São Paulo’s sister ship, the Clemenceau, was sent to India from France for scrapping; after worldwide protests, the ship was returned to France. In 2009, it was safely dismantled in Hartlepool, UK (Portuguese version of full article). [Read full article]

Thirty Years on the Asbestos Frontline

Sep 27, 2019

A shortened version of this paper was presented on September 25, 2019 at a meeting of the British Occupational Health Society’s London, South and South East Region Asbestos Seminar which was held in central London. From her perspective as the former editor of the British Asbestos Newsletter and Coordinator of the International Ban Asbestos Secretariat, the author highlighted the changes she had witnessed during the 30 years that she had campaigned for asbestos justice at home and abroad and highlighted the work of four global changemakers: Dr. Irving Selikoff (US), Dr. Nancy Tait (UK), Fernanda Giannasi (Brazil) and Sugio Furuya (Japan). [Read full article]

Urgent Appeal to Brazilian Supreme Court Justices

Aug 22, 2019

In light of a Brazilian Supreme Court decision expected on September 4, 2019 regarding a request for the recommencement of asbestos mining operations to produce fiber for export purposes, representatives of Brazilian and international groups have issued an appeal to Ministers urging that they uphold the historic 2017 decision declaring the commercialization of asbestos unconstitutional throughout the country. The text of the letter – which is supported by groups that were part of the Asian Ban Asbestos Mission to Brazil 2019 – implored the Supreme Court Justices to “uphold the right of all humanity to live a life free from deadly exposures to asbestos.” [Read full article]

Denial of the Occurrence of Occupational Asbestos Diseases in the Brazilian Mining Town of Minaçu

Aug 19, 2019

A Brazilian PhD dissertation by Dr. A.P. Amaral published this year (2019) explored in depth what a Brazilian Commission had reported in 2010 about the dangerous conditions in which asbestos workers toiled with a focus on the situation in the town of Minaçu, home to the country’s sole remaining chrysotile asbestos mine. The brief article about this thesis highlighted the isolation and deprivation experienced by victims and their families who received neither support nor acknowledgement of the occupational nature of the illnesses contracted. In a town where the asbestos discourse was dictated by those with vested interests in the survival of the industry, the injured were marginalized and silenced by the overpowering forces against them. [Read full article]

Lao Asbestos Workshop Media Release

Aug 16, 2019

On August 13, 2019, a media release was issued at the conclusion of an asbestos workshop in Vientiane, the capital of Laos; the event was hosted by the Lao National Assembly’s Committee of Social Cultural Affairs and the Ministry of Health and is a manifestation of the growing concern for public and occupational health caused by high levels of asbestos use in the country (as exemplified in the: Lao National Strategy for Elimination of Asbestos-related Diseases). Presentations by international experts including representatives of the International Labor Organization, the World Health Organization, the (Australian) Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency and specialists from Vietnam, Korea and Japan were of great interest to delegates. [Read full article]

Asbestos Victims’ Supreme Court Victory a Triumph for Open Justice

Aug 2, 2019

A judgment handed down by the Supreme Court on July 29, 2019 is being hailed as a landmark in the British fight for “transparency of the legal process”; while the civil case initiated by Graham Dring in 2017 on behalf of the Asbestos Victims Support Groups Forum UK (the Forum) sought disclosure of documentation to a non-party to asbestos litigation, the precedent it set could almost certainly be used by concerned citizens or journalists to access court documents in other cases. The unanimous verdict of the Court in Cape Intermediate Holdings Ltd v Dring (for and on behalf of Asbestos Victims Support Groups Forum UK) upheld the principle of public access based on the constitutional principle of open justice. [Read full article]

Pro-Asbestos Lobbyists at UN Conference

Jul 25, 2019

The list of participants to the meetings of the United Nations’ Conferences of the Parties to the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions 2019 uploaded on July 12, 2019 makes interesting reading. An examination of details provided about attendees at the sessions revealed the names of 12 asbestos lobbyists and others working for organizations known to be involved in protecting sales of chrysotile (white) asbestos. Organizations they represented included: the International Chrysotile Association (Canada), the Fibre Cement Products Manufacturers' Association (India), Confederation of Employers of Kazakhstan, International Alliance of Trade Union Organizations “Chrysotile” (Russia) and Vietnam National Roof Sheet Association. [Read full article]

Action Mesothelioma Day 2019

Jul 16, 2019

On Friday, July 5, 2019 events were held on Action Mesothelioma Day (AMD) in England, Scotland and Wales to remember those who had been lost to mesothelioma, the signature cancer associated with exposure to asbestos, and other asbestos-related diseases. Under bright blue skies, butterflies and doves were released, poems were read, presentations were made and music was enjoyed as people found solace in the fellowship and camaraderie provided by the events organized by asbestos support groups and asbestos charities in outdoor spaces, town halls, churches and meeting rooms. After more than a decade, the calendar fixture of AMD has become a beacon of hope not just for the asbestos bereaved but for their friends, colleagues and communities. [Read full article]

Colombia Bans Asbestos!

Jul 12, 2019

On July 11, 2019, the Colombian President signed into law asbestos prohibitions endorsed by Congress in a frantic rush to beat the June 20, 2019 summer adjournment after which all proposed legislation would have been vacated. The ban, which prohibited not only the mining, commercialization and distribution of all types of asbestos also banned the export of asbestos. This is the first time that asbestos prohibitions have been approved by a legislature in an asbestos mining country; in 2017, the Brazilian Supreme Court, in the face of continuing federal support for the asbestos industry, declared the commercial exploitation of asbestos unconstitutional. The new Colombian law will take effect on January 1, 2021 and permits a 5 year transition period for companies currently using asbestos. [Read full article]

Post-Asbestos Brazil – A City Cast Adrift

Jul 3, 2019

This timely commentary by occupational health, safety and environmental campaigner Mick Holder reflects on news about the economic, social and medical repercussions of decades of asbestos mining in Brazil in light of the trip he made to the town of Minaçu some years ago when an international delegation “met with the workers and union reps at the mine who were incredibly hospitable and very, very friendly, even though they knew I and others in the delegation wanted an end to this global killer industry…” Mick is scathing about government and commercial interests which “had made enough money out of the industry to ensure a just transition from working in a killer industry to being employed in a safer and healthier one with no loss of social benefit.” [Read full article]

Asbestos Youth Awareness Workshop: Asbestos the Silent Killer

Jun 26, 2019

For the sixth year running, the Asbestos Interest Group from Kuruman in the Northern Cape marked South Africa’s Youth Day with an event to raise asbestos awareness amongst primary and middle school students in John Taolo Gaetsewe District Municipalities in one of the country’s former asbestos-producing regions. Children from 12 local schools were brought together at Maipeing Primary School to take part in a day of learning and socializing. The culmination of the day’s activities was a presentation by each team of art work demonstrating their understanding of the asbestos hazard at the end of which prizes were awarded. [Read full article]

Urgent Appeal to the People of Colombia

Jun 7, 2019

As the end of the Colombian Congress’ deliberations on banning asbestos approaches (the current Congressional session ends on June 20, after which all proposed legislation not yet enacted will become void), an urgent appeal to Colombian citizens entreating their support for the country to ban asbestos exports as well as domestic usage has been sent by Indonesian asbestos victims and activists from the Indonesian Ban Asbestos Network – INA-BAN. Indonesia is a prime market for Colombian asbestos exports, where it is mostly used in the production of asbestos roofing; with frequent natural disasters occurring in the country this poses a potent threat to emergency responders, relief workers and affected communities (Para la versión española ver: Llamado Urgente a la Población de Colombia). [Read full article]

Eternit’s Global Asbestos Crimes

Jun 6, 2019

The global asbestos operations of companies belonging to the Swiss and Belgian Eternit asbestos groups have ruined lives and contaminated communities throughout Europe, Latin America, Africa, Asia and the Middle East. Academic papers released in May 2019 documented the toxic repercussions of asbestos processing in Colombia and Lebanon; another paper published contemporaneously examined the difficulties experienced in holding individual executives to account for the consequences of profit-driven decisions made by asbestos corporations which, ultimately, resulted in the deaths of thousands of Italian citizens. [Read full article]

Italian Asbestos Deaths: New Conviction

May 24, 2019

Five years after the Italian Supreme Court had vacated murder verdicts against the Swiss asbestos billionaire Stephen Schmidheiny on technical grounds (2014), the defendant has once again been found guilty of the asbestos deaths of Italian citizens. On May 23, 2019, a Turin Court sentenced Schmidheiny in absentia to four years for the involuntary manslaughter of two individuals from Cavagnolo, both of whom died from asbestos-related diseases. Other trials are proceeding against Schmidheiny who is facing charges of voluntary homicide in hundreds of cases in Naples (8 deaths) and Vercelli (392 deaths including those of 243 individuals who worked at the Eternit factory in Casale Monferrato). [Read full article]

Indonesian National Seminar - Asbestos: Poison Scattered in the Disaster Nation

May 20, 2019

Key stakeholders from civil society and the Indonesian government made valuable contributions to the proceedings of a national asbestos seminar held in Jakarta on May 9, 2019. The event, which was organized jointly by the Indonesian Ban Asbestos Network and the International Labour Organization, Jakarta, provided the opportunity for reports by civil servants, occupational health and safety specialists, emergency responders, personnel from regional and international agencies and ban asbestos campaigners working on the asbestos frontline in a country which is one of the most disaster-prone in the world; in 2018, Indonesia experienced 2,372 disasters affecting 3.5 million people. [Read full article]

Media Release Urgent Calls for UN Action on Asbestos

May 8, 2019

This media release circulated by a coalition of UK asbestos victims’ groups and occupational health and safety bodies detailed the occurrence of a demonstration outside the Russian Embassy in London on May 8, 2019 calling on Russia to support United Nations measures to regulate the global trade in chrysotile (white) asbestos by implementing a regime which stipulates that importing nations be provided with sufficient information to ensure “prior informed consent” before purchasing substances deemed by the United Nations to be injurious to human health and/or harmful to the environment. [Read full article]

The Rotterdam Convention 2019 [Updated May 10, 2019]

May 10, 2019

This week a delegation representing members and supporters of the Asian Ban Asbestos Network (ABAN) is in Geneva, Switzerland to monitor the proceedings at the United Nations’ 9th meeting (COP9) of The Rotterdam Convention (RC) and voice the demands of global labor and asbestos victims for chrysotile (white) asbestos to be included on Annex III of the Convention as the RC’s Chemical Review Committee had recommended more than a decade ago. This article comprises a short, contemporaneous report on the activities of the ABAN Mission to COP9 on May 7 to 9, 2019. [Read full article]

Media Release: Rotterdam Convention COP9

May 3, 2019

A media release circulated by the Asian Ban Asbestos Network urges United Nations representatives to the 9th Conference of the Parties (COP9) to the Rotterdam Convention (RC) “to finally list chrysotile (white asbestos) on Annex III of the Convention and immediately reform the Convention so that a small number of states with economic interests can no longer block listings of chemicals.” Multiple recommendations by the RC’s Chemical Review Committee that the international trade in chrysotile be regulated in order to provide importing nations with “prior informed consent” have been blocked by the actions of asbestos stakeholders, led in recent years by Russia. [Read full article]

Report from Asian Ban Asbestos Mission to Brazil April, 2019

Apr 29, 2019

Brazil is now at a critical moment in the campaign to ban asbestos. Despite the November 2017 Supreme Court decision declaring the commercial exploitation of asbestos unconstitutional, in January 2019 Eternit, the country’s only asbestos producer, announced its intention to increase asbestos exports to Asia. To challenge the hypocrisy of shipping a substance deemed too hazardous to use at home to other countries, a delegation of five ban asbestos activists from three Asian countries embarked on a mission to mobilize support for an end to Brazilian asbestos exports from politicians, civil servants, prosecutors, asbestos victims, trade unionists and others. This article comprises a short, contemporaneous report on the activities of the “Asian Ban Asbestos Mission to Brazil April, 2019.” [Read full article]

Press Release: STOP Brazilian Asbestos Exports!

Apr 21, 2019

This week, ban asbestos activists from India, Indonesia and Japan will be embarking on a historic mission to Brazil to entreat citizens, politicians, civil servants, decision-makers and corporations to stop sending asbestos to Asia. According to recent data, India and Indonesia absorb the majority of Brazil’s asbestos exports. Despite a landmark Supreme Court ruling in 2017 declaring the commercialization of asbestos unconstitutional, mine workers and industry stakeholders are appealing to the Court for an exemption to allow mining and exporting to continue (see also: Versão Portuguesa). [Read full article]

Open Letter – An Appeal to the 161 Parties at COP9 of the Rotterdam Convention

Apr 20, 2019

This Open Letter calls upon delegates to the upcoming meeting of the United Nations’ Rotterdam Convention (RC) to progress restrictions on the global trade in chrysotile asbestos by voting to include it on Annex III of the Convention. This is the 7th time that such action has been recommended by the RC’s Chemical Review Committee; previous attempts to list chrysotile were blocked by a handful of stakeholder countries, initially led by Canada and now by Russia. The signatories of this letter include 10 international organizations and associations and individuals from 30 countries on six continents. [Read full article]

How Do You Solve a Problem like Wittenoom?

Apr 10, 2019

The former asbestos mining town in Wittenoom, Western Australia (WA) has been called “probably the southern hemisphere’s most contaminated site” due to the presence of millions of tonnes of asbestos-containing mining waste. Plans are progressing through the WA Parliament for the compulsory purchase of the few properties remaining in private hands in order for the town to be shut down. Because of the extensive pollution, a WA Minister has acknowledged that the area can never be made fit for human habitation but is urging that attempts be made to remediate areas of cultural significance to the traditional owners of the land: the Banjima people. Consideration is given in this article of whether the Wittenoom “solution” could be the answer for other asbestos mining towns. [Read full article]

Vietnam’s Asbestos Frontline 2019

Mar 28, 2019

A letter by civil society groups sent recently to leading politicians addressed false statements and misinformation propagated at a 2018 pro-asbestos workshop in Vietnam’s National Assembly. The text accused organizations including the International Chrysotile Association, the Vietnam Roofing Association and others of: spreading “false and incorrect information and data about the harmful effects of white asbestos” and “creating confusion and misunderstanding about the situation and the scientific basis for… [banning] white asbestos”. Asbestos vested interests are desperate to forestall the implementation of a Prime Ministerial Order banning chrysotile asbestos roofing material by 2023 and are marshalling political and economic allies to force a government U-turn. [Read full article]

The Spectre Haunting Danish Schoolchildren

Mar 25, 2019

According to a 2019 paper entitled Environmental asbestos exposure in childhood and risk of mesothelioma later in life: a long-term follow-up register-based cohort study people who went to one of four schools near an asbestos-cement factory in Aalborg, Denmark have a 7-fold increase in the risk of mesothelioma – the signature cancer associated with exposure to asbestos. This finding, which was supported by earlier research into the causation of mesothelioma amongst women in Aalborg, has been widely circulated throughout the country and has spurred calls for the government to compensate all those suffering from this disease. [Read full article]

Corporate Deceit: Asbestos Espionage at Home and Abroad

Mar 18, 2019

A commentary on the “second major asbestos spying scandal of the 21st century” details the facts of an international effort by asbestos vested interests to infiltrate the ban asbestos network (ban) with a focus on attempts by a British operative commissioned by K2 Intelligence Ltd. to insinuate himself into the network. The covert operation – codenamed “Project Spring” – was conducted over a four-year period during which the spy visited multiple locations in the UK, France, Switzerland, Belgium, Germany, Thailand, Vietnam, India, Bangladesh, the Philippines, Canada and the US. This article first appeared in Issue 108 of the British Asbestos Newsletter (Autumn-Winter 2018-19). [Read full article]

Asbestos Landscape 2019: EU 4, UK 0

Feb 4, 2019

Throughout Europe, the legacy of widespread asbestos use continues to manifest itself in cancer registries and coroners’ courts. While EU countries have adopted innovative and pro-active measures to address national asbestos legacies, the UK government’s entrenched policy of denial and delay continues to endanger the lives of workers as well as members of the public. Compared to the deadlines for asbestos removal in the Netherlands and Poland, the financial incentives to replace asbestos roofs in Italy and nationwide measures to monitor at-risk individuals in Germany, the UK policy of “safe management of asbestos in schools” is a manifestation of an ostrich mentality which continues to endanger children as well as staff. [Read full article]

Press Release: STOP - You’re Killing Us!

Jan 15, 2019

Reacting to news that Eternit S.A. was phasing out asbestos use in Brazil but continuing to mine and export asbestos fiber, there has been a furore of outrage from groups at home and abroad who condemned this policy as a “national disgrace”. Ban asbestos activists in India and Indonesia denounced Eternit’s actions asking the company: “How many more people will you kill?” and stating: “Your hypocritical behaviour is the cause of a humanitarian disaster for Asian countries and we publicly condemn you for your actions.” On behalf of a global federation representing millions of construction workers, Fiona Murie said: “It is simply unacceptable for Eternit Brazil to dump its asbestos on industrializing countries…” See: versão Portuguesa or click following link: [Read full article]

The Asbestos Lobby in Ukraine

Jan 8, 2019

Permission to translate this October 2018 article by Taras Volya, of Ukraine’s Journalists Against Corruption, was obtained in November 2018 and translated by Mick Antoniw in December. The edited English language text highlights the economic and political pressures brought by foreign asbestos vested interests to continue sales of a class 1 carcinogen to Ukraine despite efforts by Ukraine’s Ministry of Health to ban asbestos, and names institutions and corporations in Ukraine, Russia and Kazakhstan profiting from asbestos sales to Ukraine. Despite Ukraine’s war with Russia, the trade in asbestos persists with Russian and Kazakh asbestos sales to Ukraine valued at $7.2 million in 2016. [Read full article]

Asbestos Vessel Cruising to London?

Dec 17, 2018

Concerns regarding the purchase by a UK company of an asbestos-laden passenger ship from Portugal were raised at a meeting of the Parliamentary Asbestos Sub-Group in the House of Commons on December 12, 2018. The Sub-Group was informed that a Portuguese cruise ship named MV Funchal containing “about 100 tons of asbestos in a friable state, namely composed of the fiber types chrysotile, amosite and tremolite” had been purchased at a December 5, 2018 auction in Lisbon by a UK-based hotel group which plans to berth the vessel in Central London where it will be used to provide hotel accommodation. [Read full article]

2018: From Protest to Progress

Dec 13, 2018

2018 has been an extraordinary year for the global ban asbestos campaign, with long-awaited prohibitions coming into force and others moving ahead swiftly. The progress achieved this year has almost surpassed expectations with many landmark developments and solid progress made in identifying asbestos victims, mobilizing at-risk workers, building medical capacity, supporting communities devastated by environmental contamination, facilitating access to medical treatment and compensation, engaging with medical researchers progressing new treatments for mesothelioma, collaborating on initiatives to raise asbestos awareness and exposing the dirty tricks used to forestall efforts to protect public and occupational health endangered by asbestos exposures. [Read full article]

Global Overview: Asbestos Landscape 2018

Nov 22, 2018

The text of this paper formed the basis for a presentation made on November 15, 2018 at the First International Asbestos Conference [in Portugal] held in Lisbon. Having detailed annual asbestos trade data and exhibited a graphic showing national levels of global consumption and national asbestos bans, the speaker contrasted the legacies of asbestos use in the UK and India before highlighting the progress being made in Asian countries working to end asbestos use. A report disclosed by the speaker which had been issued by a Portuguese asbestos-cement lobbying association for a meeting of the Asbestos International Association in London 2001 was of obvious interest to Portuguese delegates. [Read full article]

Banning Asbestos in New Jersey

Nov 1, 2018

On October 29, 2018, a bill prohibiting the sale or distribution of asbestos-containing products was unanimously adopted by the New Jersey Assembly. Sponsors of the bill condemned the federal rollback on asbestos protections and declared their determination to protect people in New Jersey from lethal exposures with the bill’s sponsor Assemblywoman Lisa Swain saying: “There is absolutely no reason why any New Jerseyans should be at risk of asbestos exposure… While the current Administration in Washington may be okay with rolling back environmental health standards that protect so many Americans, here in New Jersey we are not, and this bill ensures we will stay proactive in protecting our residents.” [Read full article]

Raising Asbestos Awareness in Nepal 2018

Oct 31, 2018

On October 28, 2018, personnel from leading environmental NGOs joined with municipal and government representatives in Nepal to assess the current situation regarding the effectiveness of legislation banning the import and use of asbestos-containing goods. Although government data shows a dramatic reduction of asbestos imports, more needs to be done to protect people in Nepal from hazardous exposures both to new products but also to asbestos products incorporated within the national infrastructure. Of particular interest was the input from customs officers who are on the front line in preventing the import of more asbestos goods and from civil servants tasked with developing new protocols for the identification of toxic goods. [Read full article]

Media Release: Canada Completes Long Road to Asbestos Ban Regulation

Oct 19, 2018

This Media Release by a number of labor federations and civil society associations has been uploaded to the IBAS website with the permission of its authors.
(Other responses to the sea change in Canadian federal policy on asbestos include a statement by President of the Canadian Labour Congress Hassan Yussuff [see: Canada’s unions applaud asbestos ban regulations]: “This is a critical step on the long road to banning asbestos, and will, without a doubt save lives for generations to come.”)
[Read full article]

Confronting Indonesia’s Asbestos Challenges

Oct 17, 2018

Recent efforts by grassroots groups and medical associations to address Indonesia’s asbestos challenges are discussed in this article with a focus on a medical seminar held in Jakarta on October 13, 2018 to raise awareness of asbestos-related diseases. During that session, medical experts from Indonesia and Korea reviewed the categories and causes of asbestos-related diseases and discussed state-of-the-art protocols for making diagnoses of these diseases. Concluding the seminar, Professor Jeung Sook Kim, a Korea specialist, highlighted the importance of cooperation between NGOs and scientists in the campaign to ban asbestos. [Read full article]

Remembering João Batista Momi

Oct 15, 2018

Former asbestos worker and founding member of the Brazilian Association of the Asbestos-Exposed (ABREA) João Batista Momi died in Sao Paulo on October 14, 2018 from asbestosis, a disease he contracted from toxic exposures at the Eternit factory in Osasco. Mr. Momi’s pioneering lawsuit against Eternit took 12 years at the civil court – at that time the only court which could hear claims for injuries caused by toxic occupational exposures. In 1998 he was awarded more than 150,000 reais (equivalent in 1998 to US$150,000) for his injuries; the company appealed. After a 2004 constitutional amendment allowed Labour Courts to hear these cases, Mr. Momi received his compensation. [Read full article]

Global Asbestos Panorama: 2018 Update

Oct 2, 2018

From the northeast of Brazil to the streets of West Java via a community center in the Northern Cape Provence of South Africa, Autumn 2018 has seen a burgeoning of activities to mobilize support for the asbestos-injured and demand the implementation of environmental remediation programs and national asbestos prohibitions. Members of asbestos victims’ groups, ban asbestos activists, health and safety campaigners, trade unionists, legal practitioners and medical professionals raised the asbestos profile at international conferences, strategy sessions, local meetings and outreach projects in Latin America, North America, Europe and Asia. It is no longer a question of “if” but of “when” asbestos will finally be consigned to the history books. [Read full article]

Southeast Asia Ban Asbestos Conference 2018

Sep 20, 2018

Just weeks after the South Asia Asbestos Strategy Meeting took place in Sri Lanka, 100+ delegates from Vietnam and ten other countries – eight of which are members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations – met at the second annual conference of the Southeast Asia Ban Asbestos Network in Hanoi, Vietnam to progress plans for achieving regional asbestos prohibitions. The conference, broadcast live on GTV multimedia channels, took place on September 13 and 14, 2018 and raised the profile of the struggle to ban asbestos in Vietnam via widespread TV coverage, newspaper articles and social media posts. Speakers lambasted the government’s continued failure to ban asbestos, blaming pressure from local and foreign vested interests. [Read full article]

Urgent Questions for the MoD and Government to Answer Following the Disclosure of the Sea King Helicopter Asbestos Alert

Sep 19, 2018

Media reports of a warning by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) that large numbers of military engineers and former military engineers could have been exposed to asbestos whilst servicing Sea King helicopters highlight not only the historic exposure to asbestos our military personnel have faced, but also the ongoing risks that exist from asbestos that remains in situ. The alert also points once again to an arguable failure of government to fully and appropriately address all of the issues asbestos continues to pose including the access to compensation by injured service personnel. [Read full article]

West Australia’s Campaign for Asbestos Justice 2018

Sep 13, 2018

On August 18, 2018, West Australian (WA) asbestos campaigners gathered at Perth’s Solidarity Park, across the street from the WA Parliament, to remember the thousands of people whose lives had been lost due to occupational and environmental exposures received at the infamous Wittenoom asbestos mine. Nearly a month later, members of the Asbestos Diseases Society of Australia – co-organizers of the August event – will revisit the memorial plaque unveiled during this earlier gathering when they reach the end of the Society’s annual walk to raise asbestos research funds and heighten public awareness about the asbestos hazard. [Read full article]

Asbestos Intransigence

Aug 6, 2018

A report entitled Chlorine and Building Materials - A Global Inventory of Production Technologies, Markets, and Pollution released at the end of July 2018 provided a wealth of information on the actions of chlorine producers in Africa, the Americas and Europe. Acting individually and/or in concert with other vested interests, companies such as Dow Chemical and Olin Corporation and trade associations including Euro Chlor and the American Chemistry Council lobbied state agencies, national governments and regional bodies on three continents over decades to maintain a status quo which procured them large financial rewards despite huge societal costs and deadly consequences for human health and the environment. [Read full article]

Action Mesothelioma Day 2018 – Photos

Jul 18, 2018

Once upon a time, photograph albums held the memories of generations of families; important days and events were marked by black and white and then colour photographs which were taken, processed and mounted for safe-keeping. Those days are long gone with most images now stored somewhere in the cloud or on phones or hard drives. Some may call us old school, but we could think of no better way of reflecting the optimism, support and engagement of groups all over the UK who joined as one on July 6, 2018 to observe the Annual Mesothelioma Action Day than uploading a selection of photographs in which fellowship and commonality of purpose shine through. [Read full article]

Asbestos Youth Awareness Workshop

Jul 13, 2018

Children and staff from 11 local schools took part in an asbestos awareness workshop organised by the Asbestos Interest Group (A.I.G), a campaigning body in a former asbestos mining area on South Africa’s annual Youth Day (June 16). Feedback from participants has been positive with children having enjoyed meeting up with pupils from other schools to learn about the impact of asbestos contamination of their towns. A report written by A.I.G’s Prudence Kotoloane is informative as well as inspiring – workshop facilitators organized outdoor games to keep the children “awake and energetic.” The International Ban Asbestos Secretariat is proud to be a co-sponsor of this and other events organized by the A.I.G. [Read full article]

South Asia Asbestos Strategy Meeting

Jul 12, 2018

Participants from Sri Lanka, India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan, China, Hong Kong, Vietnam, Philippines, the US and Japan attended the two-day 2018 South Asia Asbestos Strategy Meeting which took place in Negombo, on the west coast of Sri Lanka, on July 10 and 11, 2018. On the agenda were updates about current national situations highlighting successful strategies and ongoing challenges. Of great interest to international delegates were presentations by Sri Lanka colleagues who provided a wealth of information on current developments and announced that plans for national prohibitions of asbestos had not been abandoned. [Read full article]

Parliamentary Asbestos Seminar 2018

Jul 2, 2018

The annual Parliamentary Asbestos Seminar took place on June 26, 2018 in Committee Room 14 of the House of Commons. As always this event, held under the auspices of the Asbestos Sub-Committee of the All-party Group on Occupational Health and Safety, offered the opportunity for Members of Parliament to hear about a diverse range of global asbestos developments from people working on the asbestos frontline. During the two-hour session, first-hand testimony was provided regarding challenges faced by UK asbestos cancer sufferers, progress being made by British mesothelioma researchers, asbestos legacy issues at brownfield sites, the campaign by the Asbestos in Schools Group and the tragic consequences of asbestos consumption in India. [Read full article]

Mesothelioma Care in the UK

Jun 22, 2018

An authoritative audit of UK mesothelioma cancer care of 7,000+ individuals between 2014 and 2016 contains both good and bad news. During the period in question, more mesothelioma patients in England and Wales received active treatment – i.e. anti-cancer treatment with chemotherapy, radiotherapy, surgery or a combination of the three – than previously. Unfortunately, only 7% of patients survived for three years post-diagnosis. Recommendations made by the authors included suggestions to: improve the quality of data collection, conduct surgical survival audits, provide better information to guide patients’ treatment decisions and ensure patient referrals to clinical trials outside their areas. [Read full article]

Ukraine’s Fight to Ban Asbestos: Update

Jun 18, 2018

On June 11, 2018, the District Administrative Court of Kiev published its decision in the case brought by Ukraine’s Ministry of Health (MoH) over the quashing by the Ministry of Justice and the State Regulatory Service (SRS) of 2017 MoH regulations ending the use of asbestos in Ukraine. The ruling of the three-judge panel upheld the human rights of Ukrainians to live a life free from asbestos exposure. A Ukrainian campaigner called this decision “an indisputable victory” by the Ministry of Health of Ukraine and its supporters and pledged to continue the struggle “to achieve a total asbestos ban in Ukraine such as that which exists in other European countries.” [Read full article]

Economic Violence, Occupational Disability, and Death. Oral Narratives of the Impact of Asbestos-Related Diseases (ARDs) in Britain

Jun 12, 2018

The text of this article appeared as Chapter 10 in the book: Beyond Testimony and Trauma: Oral History in the Aftermath of Mass Violence published by University of British Columbia Press in 2015; the author of this chapter Professor Arthur McIvor and the editor of the book Steven High have given their permission for this seminal text to be uploaded to this website. In his concluding thoughts the author says: “In common with other trauma victims and survivors of mass violence, those with disabling and terminal ARDs feel the need to have those responsible admit their blame and recognize their role in economic violence. This is crucial for reconciliation, social healing, and making sense of their working lives.” [Read full article]

Press Release: Asbestos in Children’s Products Sold in UK

May 21, 2018

This press release has been issued today by the Asbestos Victims Support Groups Forum (UK) and the International Ban Asbestos Secretariat; it expresses serious concerns over the discovery of tremolite asbestos in products being sold in the UK. The analysis of items purchased in April 2018 in a London suburb was undertaken by Sean Fitzgerald, a US expert who had previously found asbestos contamination in 24 talc-based make-up items sold by the US chain of Claire’s Accessories. Fitzgerald reported the presence of tremolite, an amphibole type of asbestos fiber, in various eyeshadow and blusher products purchased at this shop. [Read full article]

Open Letter to the Asbestos Industry

May 16, 2018

Asbestos victims’ groups, campaigning bodies and NGOs issue an open letter to the asbestos industry declaring: “the end for the deadly asbestos industry is fast approaching.” Supported by signatories from Asia, Latin America, Europe, Australia and Africa, the text highlights recent measures called for by regional bodies and international agencies to address the global asbestos crisis: securing a covenant for implementing a global ban on asbestos, providing financial, technical and educational support for countries seeking to achieve bans – programs to minimize hazardous exposures and eliminate asbestos diseases, making public investment and development aid conditional on banning asbestos [Русской версии] [Versão em português]. [Read full article]

Everest Industries Ltd, Kolkata India: Victimizing the workers

May 15, 2018

A grassroots effort to identify workers with asbestos-related disease from an asbestos factory in Kolkata, India has resulted in the suspension of two workers who had been involved in organizing the initiative. Angered by the management’s attempts to intimidate the workforce and punish full-time factory workers Arun Chakraborty and Goutam Sardar, former workmates have formed a “Struggle Committee” to increase the pressure on the management of Everest Industries Ltd. to withdraw the suspension orders and to progress efforts to improve the occupational health and safety regime at their workplace. [Read full article]

Asbestos Life and Death in Brexit Britain: Part II

May 15, 2018

As the UK asbestos death toll mounts, concerns have been expressed by civil society representatives regarding the impact of a potential UK-US trade agreement and the diminution of measures to safeguard human health from toxic exposures after our exit from the European Union. There is evidence of the importation of asbestos contaminated products even under present conditions; certainly no room for any relaxation of controls. The author concluded: “With the world’s highest asbestos-related disease mortality rate and regulatory authorities facing brutal financial cutbacks, the last thing anyone wants is the import of more toxic material or a watering down of health and safety protections.” [Read full article]

Global Asbestos Awareness Event: Standing together against Asbestos

May 5, 2018

On April 6, 2018, an asbestos awareness event was held for community members in the Loopeng Village Community Hall by the Asbestos Interest Group (AIG), a grassroots group from Kuruman in the Northern Cape Province of South Africa. Addressing the audience were palliative care and cancer specialists – who provided information on a multitude of aspects affecting people with asbestos-related diseases – as well as representatives of the municipality. The exchange of information was facilitated by questions and answers sessions as well as the provision of handouts, leaflets and pamphlets. Photographs of the day’s activities illustrate the text of this report. [Read full article]

Dramatic Fall in Asbestos Production

May 3, 2018

Figures published recently by the United States Geological Survey (USGS) reveal a sharp drop in asbestos production during the period 2012-2015 – down by around 31% over the four years. The fall depends primarily on a revision of Russian production levels for that period, which earlier USGS reports had recorded as being virtually static at around 1 million tonnes per annum (since 2007). Based on our analysis of the new data, comparative tables and graphics have been produced to depict the impact of the revisions on levels of national asbestos consumption. There is good news and bad: the good news is that global asbestos consumption had reportedly fallen to ~1.4 million tonnes by 2016; the bad news is that there is little change in the proportion used in Asia. [Read full article]

Ukraine Asbestos Ban: Round 3

May 2, 2018

Judicial proceedings continued in April 2018 over the illegitimacy of action taken by Ukraine’s Ministry of Justice and the State Regulatory Service to quash the national ban on all types of asbestos including chrysotile adopted by the Ministry of Health (MoH) in March 2017 and invalidated the following October. On April 18, 2018, the litigants attended the second hearing of the proceedings instigated by the MoH to effect the reinstatement of the prohibitions. Applications made by the plaintiffs were approved which will allow the submission of evidence documenting the health hazards posed by chrysotile asbestos and a short delay in proceedings to obtain a crucial report from Ukraine’s Academy of Sciences. [Read full article]

Toxic Talc and Mesothelioma

Apr 16, 2018

A historic breakthrough occurred in a US courtroom this month when a New Jersey jury handed down the first mesothelioma claimant’s verdict against Johnson & Johnson to Stephen Lanzo, a 46-year-old investment banker, who contracted the fatal asbestos cancer after decades of exposure to the company’s talc-based baby powder. On Thursday, April 5, 2018, $30 million was awarded to Mr. Lanzo with a further $7 million to his wife Kendra. On April 11, 2018, the jurors decided that the defendants’ “outrageous and egregious” behaviour warranted further censure and ordered that a further $80 million in punitive damages be paid. Pivotal to the outcome of this case was evidence and corporate strategies revealed in confidential corporate documents. [Read full article]

Ukraine Asbestos Ban: Round 2

Mar 8, 2018

On January 31, 2018 the latest salvos were fired in the battle by Ukraine’s Ministry of Health (MoH) against the quashing of its decision to ban asbestos to protect citizens from deadly exposures. On that day, Kiev’s District Administrative Court held the first hearing on a case brought by the MoH to reinstate the 2017 prohibition banning the use of all types of asbestos including chrysotile (white asbestos) which had been invalidated in October 2017. If the MoH succeeds, and one must hope it does, Ukraine will be yet another country – like Brazil – which resorted to judicial action in order to overcome vested interests determined to prioritize corporate profits over human health. [Read full article]

In Memory of Jock McCulloch

Jan 21, 2018

Our friend Jock McCulloch died on January 18, 2018 in Melbourne, Australia. The grief caused by his passing is shared by so many who have worked with him to reveal the human cost of the global asbestos trade. It is poignant and tragic that Jock, whose compassion and humanity was so great, shared the fate of so many of the people whose plight he documented. Like them, Jock’s death was caused by exposure to asbestos. At this sad time, our thoughts are with his partner Pavla, their family, his friends and colleagues at RMIT University and so many others whose lives were enriched by knowing Jock. While mourning his passing, we will remain forever grateful for the time we had with him and for the impact he had on our lives. [Read full article]

2018: A Year of Hope!

Jan 4, 2018

As 2018 dawns, the outlook for the ban asbestos campaign looks brighter than ever with progress being made in countries around the world. Pro-asbestos initiatives which might formerly have escaped detection are now being exposed and countered in record time. The ongoing saga of Russia’s strong-arm tactics to force Sri Lanka to rescind its asbestos phase-out has been condemned both at home and internationally. Throughout 2017 the global ban asbestos network, working with partnering organizations, enjoyed huge successes in multiple jurisdictions. Building on those victories and on increasing support for an asbestos-free future, the prospects for 2018 appear very promising! [Read full article]

Media Release: Economic blackmail by Russia against Sri Lanka’s asbestos ban decision slammed by international trade unions and health networks.

Jan 3, 2018

International trade unions, health networks, asbestos victims’ groups and NGOs have today issued a media release soundly condemning Russian economic pressure on Sri Lanka which has forced a U-turn in the asbestos phase-out scheduled to begin this month. Sharan Burrow of the International Trade Union Confederation summed up the collective outrage over Russia’s bullying: “Imposing chrysotile asbestos on an unwilling nation is not fair trade, it is culpable homicide… Russia must not and will not be allowed to blow a hole in fair trade rules.” [Read full article]

Media Release: Indian Ban Asbestos Network Established

Dec 22, 2017

On December 16, 2017, 16 civil society groups and trade unions established the Indian Ban Asbestos Network (I-BAN) at a meeting in New Delhi, organized by the Occupational and Environmental Health Network of India and the Building and Woodworkers International, to progress efforts to ban asbestos in India and eradicate the asbestos hazard from workplaces and infrastructure. The formation of I-BAN was the culmination of the conference: “India Beyond Asbestos – Issues and Strategies” which took place on December 15 and 16. India is one of the world’s largest asbestos markets; in 2015, over 370,000 tonnes of asbestos with a value of $239 million were imported. India is Asia’s 2nd biggest asbestos consumer. [Read full article]

Historic Victory for UK Asbestos Victims!

Dec 6, 2017

On December 5, 2017, the High Court declared that historical documents detailing corporate knowledge regarding the asbestos hazard due to be destroyed as part of a confidential agreement must be preserved and shared with parties not involved in the original litigation. The ruling marked a positive outcome for a case brought by the Asbestos Victims Support Groups Forum to obtain information that would facilitate claims by asbestos victims and better understand “the close relationship between the Factory Inspectorate, whose function was supposed to be protecting the health and safety of workers, and the asbestos industry that they were supposed to be regulating.” [Read full article]

Brazil Bans Asbestos!

Dec 1, 2017

A majority verdict of the Federal Supreme Court (STF) handed down on November 29, 2017, prohibited the mining, processing, marketing and distribution of chrysotile (white) asbestos in Brazil – currently the world’s third largest producer of chrysotile. The judgment was binding on all jurisdictions and on the national congress which is, said the STF, barred from enacting new legislation authorizing the use of asbestos. Commenting on this ruling Fernanda Giannasi, who was been at the forefront of the campaign to ban asbestos in Brazil for 30 years, said: “If an asbestos producer country like Brazil is able to make such a decision, why wouldn’t consumer countries do the same?” Why indeed! [Read full article]

Another Asbestos Debacle?

Nov 21, 2017

Untold numbers of workers may have been exposed to asbestos-contaminated blast cleaning abrasives supplied by the Netherlands-based Eurogrit Company, a subsidiary of the Belgian company Sibelco, which were sold to companies in the Netherlands, Belgium, the UK and possibly elsewhere. The Eurogrit product (Eurogrit coal-slag abrasive (aluminium silicate) at the center of this unfolding health and commercial catastrophe is used primarily for removing rust and dirt from steel surfaces. Compared to well-honed protocols put into action by Dutch stakeholders, the UK’s response to this illegal use of a toxic product has been singularly unimpressive. [Read full article]

Ukraine’s Asbestos Debacle

Nov 9, 2017

Actions taken by Ukraine’s Ministry of Health in June 2017 to protect citizens from exposures to asbestos were officially quashed last month (October 2017) by the Ministry of Justice which excluded the implementing regulations from the State Register. The formalization of this move to undercut the capacity of Ukraine to act in the best interests of its citizens is further proof of the over-reaching influence of asbestos vested interests. Simultaneously, a 2017 free trade deal between Canada and Ukraine – The Canada-Ukraine Free Trade Agreement – could provide enhanced opportunities for the commercial exploitation of regional asbestos production. [Read full article]

Compensating Asbestosis Victims in Kolkata

Oct 31, 2017

On the evening of October 27, 2017, the Worker’s Initiative – Kolkata organized a mass meeting in Kolkata, India where 19 workers with asbestosis were presented compensation payments received from the T&N Asbestos Trustee Company (UK) totaling INR 55,08,924.00 (US$ 85,000) by representatives of trade unions and labor organizations. Despite attempts by the asbestos manufacturing company Everest Industries to deter workers from attending the meeting, there were many asbestos workers in the audience as well as workers from other companies. Information leaflets on the asbestos hazard in Hindi and Bengali were distributed during the meeting. [Read full article]

Solidarity with Asbestos Victims

Oct 13, 2017

A press release issued by UK asbestos campaigners declared support for French comrades demonstrating in the streets of Paris today (October 13, 2017) demanding justice for those injured by asbestos and punishment for corporate entities, entrepreneurs, government officials, scientists, public relations professionals and others who promoted sales of deadly asbestos products (voir la version française du communiqué de presse). Highlighting the importance of the French protest, Graham Dring of the Asbestos Victims Support Groups Forum (UK) said: “The ties which bind French and UK asbestos victims are enduring and solid; their battles are our battles. Today, we send them a message of fellowship and solidarity and our wishes for a great day!” [Read full article]

Global Asbestos Mortality Data

Oct 12, 2017

In mid-September, 2017, an article entitled: Global, regional, and national comparative risk assessment of 84 behavioural, environmental and occupational, and metabolic risks or clusters of risks, 1990–2016: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease (GBD) Study 2016 was featured in The Lancet. Using data sourced from the GBD Study regarding the 2016 incidences of asbestos-related mortality in 195 countries, IBAS has compiled three tables listing asbestos-related disease mortality and mortality rates, relating (mostly) to occupational asbestos exposures. [Read full article]

Letter to President!

Sep 28, 2017

A letter by the Occupational and Environmental Health Network of India to Ram Nath Kovind, the President of India, calls for action according to international guidelines and independent research to protect citizens from the deadly hazard posed by the massive use of asbestos and asbestos-containing products in India. The text of the September 12 document cites statements by the Environment Ministry that the “use of asbestos may be phased out” and the Ministry of Labour: “The Government of India is considering the ban on the use of chrysotile asbestos in India to protect the workers and the general population against primary and secondary exposure to Chrysotile form of Asbestos.” [Read full article]

The need for a Pacific Wide Ban on Asbestos

Sep 22, 2017

This paper was submitted by the Government of the Cook Islands to the 28th meeting of the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) which took place in Samoa on September 19-21, 2017. This and other documentation submitted under agenda item 13.1 supported the Cook Is. delegation’s call for a Pacific wide ban on asbestos and urged the SPREP to take “action on existing asbestos materials and wastes and address the issue of new asbestos in the Pacific.” The members of the SPREP include: American Samoa, the Northern Marianas, Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, French Polynesia, Guam, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, New Caledonia, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu and Wallis and Futuna. [Read full article]

The Fall of the Asbestos Empire

Sep 17, 2017

The asbestos house of cards built on “denial, distortion and distraction” is collapsing. With more and more evidence documenting the toxic effects of human exposures and action being taken the world over to protect populations, preliminary data for recent years have shown a dramatic fall in consumption and reports from the asbestos frontline have documented a waning of industry influence and power even in home markets. This article draws on recent developments, published material and new data which detail a collapse in political, social and commercial support for the asbestos industry and the growth in support for national and regional action on the asbestos hazard in Asia and Latin America. [Read full article]

Open Letter to President Minnikhanov

Sep 1, 2017

This letter is in response to recent comments made by President Rustam Minnikhanov of Tartarstan, Russia about the toxic nature of chrysotile (white) asbestos during a confrontation with Mr Andrey Holm, the head of Orenburg Minerals JSC – a major Russian producer and exporter of chrysotile asbestos fiber. During a meeting to discuss the state of the roads in the Kazan area, the President queried whether asbestos, a substance extolled by Holm, was a poison. According to a Russian environmental campaigner: “This is the first time an administrator of this high level questioned the safety of asbestos.” [For a Russian version of this letter click here] [Read full article]

Brazil’s Asbestos Divide

Aug 26, 2017

Legislation regarding the use of asbestos in Brazil – the world’s third largest producer of white asbestos – was the subject of a split decision on August 24, 2017 by the Supreme Court which upheld the right of São Paulo State to ban asbestos but failed to declare the federal law allowing asbestos use unconstitutional by one vote, despite majority support for a national ban from the nine Justices eligible to vote. This is a great victory for the Brazilian Association of the Asbestos-Exposed, for its legal advisors and for the associations which invested their expertise, time and resources to challenge a dangerous law and a status quo that prioritized corporate profits over public health. There is no place in the 21st century for asbestos. [Read full article]

Press Release calling for an Asbestos Ban in Indonesia

Jul 30, 2017

A press release issued in the aftermath of an international ban asbestos mission to Indonesia held between July 25 and 28, 2017, highlighted the “Urgent need for banning asbestos in Indonesia to avoid large increases in lung cancer rates and other asbestos related diseases in coming decades.” In meetings and workshops with trade unionists, asbestos sufferers, medical professionals, academics, and government officials, Canadian Prof. Yv Bonnier Viger detailed the tragic asbestos legacy in consuming countries and issued dire warnings of the price to be paid for Indonesia’s asbestos use. “Only 7 countries use more than 50,000 tonnes [of asbestos] per year – including Indonesia.” [Read full article]

Vietnam Labor Supports Ban!

Jul 25, 2017

In a press release dated July 21, 2017, the Vietnam General Confederation of Labour declared support for prohibitions on the use of asbestos by 2020. This position was adopted in the wake of a Hanoi meeting which provided the opportunity for Australian, Canadian, Japanese and Vietnamese experts to discuss the multi-faceted hazards posed by the continuing use of asbestos in Vietnam with national stakeholders, including representatives of the asbestos-cement roofing industry. Unfortunately, the participation of industry delegates was obstructive as they claimed there was “no proof chrysotile asbestos causes cancer…,” a claim which has been rejected by global experts and independent scientists. [Read full article]

Ban Asbestos Campaign: Update Summer 2017

Jul 20, 2017

The number of cross-border ban asbestos initiatives is escalating on an almost weekly basis with victims, family members as well as academic and technical experts travelling far afield to collaborate with like-minded colleagues. This month alone, we have seen groups of Japanese delegates visit the UK on an asbestos solidarity mission, while UK, Australian, Indian and Indonesian campaigners have taken part in activities to mark the 30th anniversary of the Ban Asbestos Network of Japan. Throughout the Mekong region, a ban asbestos roadshow has visited Cambodia, Laos and other countries to generate support for asbestos bans through the provision of up-to-date data and independent research. [Read full article]

Ban Asbestos Mobilization

Jul 17, 2017

A press release dated July 14, 2017 details efforts made by representatives of 13 Cambodian Ministries and trade unions to build capacity regarding the asbestos hazard, during a 5-day training initiative which took place in Siem Reap from July 10 to July14, 2017. Amongst the featured speakers were Canadian expert Professor Yv Bonnier-Viger, Dr. Rokho Kim (WHO), Mr. Jungho Choi (ILO), and Peter Tighe, Nick Miller and Phillip Hazelton (Australia). The initiative was organised by Union Aid Abroad (APHEDA) in collaboration with multiple partners including the International Ban Asbestos Secretariat. As a result of these meetings, work will begin on a Cambodian Asbestos Profile as the first step towards a national ban. [Read full article]

Asbestos Youth Awareness Workshop: Asbestos the Silent Killer

Jul 9, 2017

On June 16, 2017, South Africa’s Youth Day, scores of schoolchildren, teaching staff and school governors were brought together by the non-governmental organization Asbestos Interest Group to take part in an asbestos outreach activity in Kuruman, a former asbestos mining area in the Northern Cape Province. Participants from nine local schools received information about the area’s environmental asbestos hazard, took part in a candle lighting ceremony and created artwork depicting the region’s asbestos legacy. Trophies were presented to primary and intermediate level pupils whose entries won prizes in the art competition. [Read full article]

Message of Solidarity for Action Mesothelioma Day

Jul 7, 2017

At the conclusion of an international asbestos seminar held in Manchester on Wednesday, July 5, 2017 asbestos victims’ groups from Europe, Asia and Australia issued a solidarity statement in the run-up to Action Mesothelioma Day (July 7) condemning the behaviour of asbestos companies in their home countries and the continuing activities of those seeking to profit from “this industry of mass destruction.” “The existence of the global asbestos trade,” is they wrote “an anathema and an abomination.” Paying tribute to the asbestos dead, they expressed their determination to continue the campaign to shut down the global asbestos trade and progress justice for all those who have been injured. [Read full article]

Ukraine Bans Asbestos!

Jun 26, 2017

At a press conference held today in Kiev, Ukraine, the Ministry of Health announced that the use of all types of asbestos, including chrysotile (white) asbestos is being banned in Ukraine. The new regulations were achieved in the face of fierce opposition from domestic and foreign asbestos lobbyists. This is no surprise given that amongst Ukraine’s neighbors are two countries which account for around 65% of global asbestos output. Between 2009 and 2015, Ukraine imported an average of ~42,200 tonnes of asbestos a year. This ban will adversely impact on the financial prospects of Russian and Kazakhstan asbestos mining companies, however, perhaps of even greater import is the strategic significance of Ukraine’s action. [Read full article]

Mobilization of Italian Asbestos Victims

June 20, 2017

On June 8, 2017, an international asbestos conference was held in Bologna, Italy, an area with a high incidence of asbestos mortality due to hazardous exposures in the railway industry, at asbestos-cement production facilities, at a local plant which manufactured waterproofing materials and at power stations. Representatives of asbestos victims’ groups from Italy and Brazil updated delegates on progress achieved and challenges remaining in the struggle for asbestos justice. Trade unionists, scientists, an author, a teacher, a Mayor and campaigners – including Dr Agata Mazzeo whose PhD dissertation focused on the fight for asbestos victims’ rights in Brazil and Italy – also made presentations. [Read full article]

Press Release: Unity of Asbestos Victims

Jun 19, 2017

In the run-up to the UK’s annual Action Mesothelioma Day, this press release by UK and Japanese groups confirms the attendance at events in five cities of members of a Japanese delegation of asbestos victims, relatives and campaigners. Speaking on behalf of the visitors, Sugio Furuya said that: “The members of our delegation are eager to show solidarity with UK victims and to share experiences in order to progress the campaigns for asbestos justice at home and abroad.” See: Japanese version of this press release or for the English version select the “Read full article" link. [Read full article]

The Asbestos Hazard in Shipbreaking

May 30, 2017

A seminar entitled “Accountability in Shipbreaking” took place in London this month. Amongst the speakers were six leading experts on the current situation regarding the annual disposal of hundreds of sea-going vessels on tidal beaches in Asia. The contentious disposal of the North Sea Producer – an oil and gas floating production storage and offloading vessel based for many years 250 km north-east of Aberdeen – was discussed. The export of the ship from the UK on May 17, 2016, its arrival in Bangladesh on August 14, 2016 and plans for its demolition at a yard in Chittagong contravened international instruments intended to prevent industrialized countries from dumping toxic ships in developing countries. [Read full article]

India: National Asbestos Profile

May 11, 2017

This report, prepared by the Peoples Training & Research Centre for the Occupational and Environmental Health Network India (OEHNI) and launched at press conferences in Ahmedabad, Mumbai and Delhi on Friday, April 28, 2017 (International Workers’ Memorial Day), delineates the scale of India’s asbestos tragedy. News coverage about the publication of this ground-breaking document (see: Gujarat tops India with 49 percent use in hazardous asbestos, causing occupational disease, cancer: Report ) highlighted the high incidence of disability and disease amongst workers from power plants, asbestos mines, asbestos cement factories and small processing units. [Read full article]

Asbestos Showdown in Geneva

May 10, 2017

The deliberations of hundreds of international delegates in Geneva and the actions of United Nations personnel involved in the 8th Conference of the Parties to the Rotterdam Convention, which drew to a close on May 5, 2017, were closely monitored by the global community of campaigners working to prevent human exposures to dangerous chemicals such as white asbestos. Commenting on the “moral cowardice and corruption” at the Convention, Brian Kohler, from the IndustriALL Global Union, said: “Hundreds of thousands will die as the result of the inaction of the Parties to the Convention, who chose to cave in to fierce lobbying and bullying by financial interests rather than do what they know is right.” [Read full article]

Asbestos Victory in Belgium

Mar 30, 2017

A historic victory was achieved on Tuesday, March 28, 2017 when the Brussels Court of Appeal upheld a ruling condemning the Belgian asbestos multinational Eternit for environmental asbestos exposure which killed Françoise Vannoorbeek-Jonckheere in 2000. In a 15-page judgment, the three judge panel concluded that Eternit had known asbestos was a carcinogenic substance since the 1970s but had failed to protect workers or local people from hazardous exposures as a result of which Françoise, who lived near the company’s factory in Kapelle-op-den-Bos for decades, contracted the fatal asbestos cancer mesothelioma. Eternit asbestos victims around the world will be heartened and inspired by this news. [Read full article]

Rotterdam Convention 2017: Make or Break

Mar 20, 2017

In a few weeks, the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations’ Rotterdam Convention (RC) on the Prior Informed Consent Procedures for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade will meet for the eighth time. Pivotal to the success of the meeting and, indeed to the long-term viability of this multinational Convention, will be the decision taken regarding the inclusion of chrysotile (white) asbestos on a list of substances subject to mandatory trade regulations. In light of the intransigence of asbestos lobbyists and the delegations which support them at the RC, a proposal by the African Group of Nations may be the last hope for the Convention’s survival. [Read full article]

Twenty-first Century Diplomacy: Gherkins for Asbestos

Feb 19, 2017

An analysis has been uploaded of a proposed trade deal between India and the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) which highlights the injustice and deadly consequences of allowing untaxed imports to India of asbestos, an acknowledged human carcinogen, from Russia and Kazakhstan in return for duty-free Indian exports of gherkins, cucumbers and other non carcinogenic produce to the EAEU. The 259-page report on which the contentious treaty is based is also uploaded. It is of relevance to note that while the report has been circulated this month (February 2017) to selected stakeholders, ban asbestos activists in India did not receive copies of this document from government sources. [Read full article]

Toxic Ships, Dying Workers

Feb 7, 2017

News released last week by organizations nearly 5,000 miles apart confirm the existence and scale of an unfolding disaster in shipbreaking on tidal beaches in South Asia which accounted last year (2016) for 87% of all tonnage dismantled. Research by the Brussels-based NGO Shipbreaking Platform and the Bangladesh Occupational Safety, Health and Environment Foundation revealed multiple failures by the shipping industry to safely manage the disposal of end-of-life vessels and the deadly impact of hazardous working practices on the lives of shipbreaking workers. Conditions in Bangladesh’s yards are “known to be the worst;” in 2016, 22 workers died with a further 29 suffering serious injuries. [Read full article]

The Global Campaign to Ban Asbestos 2017!

Feb 1, 2017

A presentation made in Japan at the Tokyo Institute of Technology on January 29 delineated current asbestos consumption and production trends around the world, using graphics, charts and maps to underscore areas at most risk from increasing usage. Efforts and progress made in 2016 and 2017 by grassroots campaigners in Asia, Latin America, Africa and Europe were highlighted; the important work of asbestos victims’ groups was recognized. Some examples of the fightback by asbestos vested interests were discussed including a 2016 revelation of an asbestos espionage operation run by a UK intelligence agency based in London. [Read full article]

Poisoning for Profit

Jan 16, 2017

Calculations undertaken for this article suggest that the global trade in deadly asbestos is still worth billions of dollars. Industry stakeholders in producing and consuming nations remain determined to continue business as usual despite the medical and scientific consensus that the best way to end the global epidemic of asbestos diseases is to stop the use of asbestos. The asbestos industry playbook includes a number of well-honed tactics, some of which are illegal and most amoral and unjust. This text documents how corporate wealth has been weaponized and ban asbestos campaigners have been targeted in the pursuit of ever more profits for this industry of mass destruction. [Read full article]

Press Release: Historic Canadian Asbestos Ban!

Dec 15, 2016

Civil society groups from around the world have warmly welcomed the news that the Canadian government is to outlaw the use of asbestos by 2018. The fact that Canada, one-time leader in the production of chrysotile asbestos, has taken this step is the latest victory for the global campaign to ban asbestos. This decisive action by the Canadian government is a harbinger of things to come; in the 21st century, the time is past when a dangerous and discredited technology can be allowed to endanger the lives of innocent populations. In a press release issued today calls are made for justice for the injured and definitive action to eradicate the danger posed by asbestos products within national infrastructures. [Read full article]

November 2016: Asbestos Action and Reaction

Dec 9, 2016

For some years, Australian campaigners have designated November as Asbestos Awareness month. This year was no exception with a slew of formal events, outreach initiatives, public meetings and information sessions held throughout the country by asbestos victims’ support groups, campaigning bodies, academics, trade unionists and others. Activities organized by the Asbestos Diseases Society of Australia (ADSA) during November are discussed in this article including the Society’s 21st ecumenical service of remembrance on November 25. The work and motivation of the ADSA is contrasted with that of asbestos industry stakeholders who held a large gathering of vested interests in Moscow on November 14. [Read full article]

Brazilians United in Ban Asbestos Struggle

Oct 31, 2016

Earlier this month (October 2016), a series of events took place in the Brazilian city of Campinas during which medical, legal, social, judicial and environmental challenges posed by the country’s continuing use of chrysotile (white) asbestos were examined by Brazilian and international experts. The fact that these events were paid for by court-awarded penalties against two asbestos manufacturing companies made the medical workshop (October 5), two-day conference: Asbestos: A Socio-Legal Approach (October 6-7) and the First National Meeting of Asbestos Victims and their Families (October 8) truly historic. [Read full article]

Press Release: India’s Asbestos Killing Fields!

Oct 20, 2016

A coalition of Indian and international groups representing asbestos victims, campaigners, environmentalists and health and safety activists from Asia and Europe have today uploaded a devastating report highlighting the toxic environmental legacy left by European asbestos multinationals in rural India. “The dumping of asbestos waste” by Turner & Newall and Etex was, said Barrister Krishnendu Mukherjee, “done in the full knowledge that it would cause serious health problems to the local population. Such behaviour towards mainly poor people, without real access to legal remedies, can only be described as a corporate crime.” [Read full article]

The Legacy of the European Asbestos Industry Continues in India

Oct 20, 2016

The toxic legacy left in rural India by European asbestos companies including Britain’s Turner & Newall Ltd. and Belgium’s Etex continues to endanger the lives of thousands of citizens in towns such as Kymore in the state of Madhya Pradesh according to a report uploaded today by civil society groups in India and abroad. Evidence collected by a team of Canadian technical experts documented nearly 600,000 square metres of toxic waste, which would cost up to $88m to make safe. The waste, which is composed of up to 70% asbestos fibers, poses a known public health hazard about which nothing has been done by the polluting enterprises which created it. [Read full article]

EterNOT not Eternit!

Sep 19, 2016

On September 10, 2016, the world came to Casale Monferrato, a small Piemonte town which has become a symbol of the global struggle against asbestos tyranny. On a day of celebration and remembrance, the community marked a new future with the inauguration of the EterNOT park built on the former site of the notorious Eternit asbestos factory. Separated by distances great and small, campaigners for asbestos justice sent tributes to show their solidarity with their Italian allies. Opening the proceedings, Mayor Concetta Palazzetti referenced the global solidarity on display at the front of the chamber and named the associations from Latin America, Asia, Australia and Europe which had sent messages of support. [Read full article]

A Day of Renewal and Remembrance

Sep 10, 2016

Today, the community of Casale Monferrato, for decades the symbol of the struggle for asbestos justice, will mark a landmark event with the dedication of a park built on the infamous site of the Eternit asbestos cement factory. The Eternot Park is not only a memorial to the asbestos dead but also a symbol of a future which can be free of the deadly dust. Campaigning groups from Latin America, Europe, Asia and Australia have sent a statement – the English version of which is text of this article – with floral tributes expressing solidarity and support for the victims, the activists and the community. (Click here for Italian version.) [Read full article]

Hopes High that Canada is About to Ban Asbestos

Aug 23, 2016

This article by Canadian ban asbestos campaigner and human rights activist Kathleen Ruff puts into context the news that consultations are ongoing regarding a change in Canada’s asbestos policy which could soon make the use, import and sale of asbestos-containing products illegal. According to an adviser to Health Minister Dr. Jane Philpott, members of the Trudeau Government are working on drafting a new asbestos policy for Canada, which, it is expected, will, after more than a 100 years, end the country’s love affair with asbestos. Ruff hopes that measures to ban asbestos and protect Canadians from hazardous exposures will be announced when Parliament reconvenes in September 2016. [Read full article]

Why Most Ships Still Contain Asbestos

Aug 22, 2016

Although asbestos has been banned from ships since July 2002, it is still found in over 90% of ships. It is disturbing to learn, from this article by John Chillingworth, that asbestos has been found in over 80% of new ships, even though the shipbuilders have declared the ships to be asbestos free. Chillingworth’s company has found as much as 15% asbestos in materials that have been declared asbestos free in China. Shipyard declarations, which are accepted by the authorities, are often inaccurate as a result of which hazardous exposures continue to occur aboard vessels. Recommendations are made by the author as to how shipowners might take action to remedy this dangerous situation. [Read full article]

UK Asbestos Alert: Update

Aug 15, 2016

Responding to concerns raised by a coalition of civil society groups disturbed about the possibility of UK imports of asbestos-containing building materials from China, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has taken preliminary action to ascertain whether or not the products used and practises followed by Yuanda (UK) Co. Ltd. are in compliance with national legislation. Welcoming the steps taken by the HSE, which are detailed in an email dated August 11, 2016, asbestos victims, trade unionists and campaigners have reiterated the need for the HSE to act decisively to ensure that British workers and members of the public are not exposed to illegal asbestos imports. [Read full article]

Remembering Shankar Dattaray Jog

Aug 4, 2016

Shankar Dattaray Jog, a former worker at a factory owned by the British asbestos conglomerate Turner & Newall Ltd. in Mumbai, India, died from asbestos cancer on July 19, 2016. Mr. Jog had been employed at the Hindustan Ferodo brake linings factory for 40 years. By the time he retired in 2001, he had risen to the position of health inspector. While it is believed that others from Hindustan Ferodo could have contracted mesothelioma, their names are not known. Mr. Jog was adamant that the case against his former employer proceed in order to provide support for his family after he was gone and hope for others who succumb to asbestos illnesses after decades of dedicated service. [Read full article]

Italy’s Hope and Glory

Aug 2, 2016

On July 21, 2016, the news finally came. Italy’s Constitutional Court issued its ruling in the long-running battle to achieve justice for Italy’s asbestos victims. The verdict gave the green light for a second round of legal proceedings (Eternit BIS) against Swiss billionaire Stephan Schmidheiny, former owner of the Swiss Eternit asbestos group. The case will now be returned to the Turin court where an investigating magistrate will consider the Public Prosecutors’ accusations regarding hundreds of asbestos deaths in Casale Monferrato and other Italian cities. After decades of broken promises and shattered expectations, asbestos victims and the groups representing them have been given hope that justice will be done. [Read full article]

Revue: British Asbestos Newsletter 100th Issue

Jul 27, 2016

A review of the 100th issue of the British Asbestos Newsletter (BAN), a quarterly periodical which has for over 25 years chronicled a wide range of UK asbestos developments, has been undertaken by Australian Professor Jock McCulloch, author of key asbestos books including: Defending the Indefensible and Asbestos – It’s Human Cost. Having discussed some of the subjects covered in the 100 issues of the BAN, McCulloch concludes: “The Newsletter has been an important forum for discussion and a reliable source of information… it has also helped to bring together the disparate groups which make up the ban asbestos front.” The commemorative edition should, he said, be celebrated. [Read full article]

Press Release: UK Toxic Asbestos Imports from China?

Jul 27, 2016

A coalition of UK groups representing asbestos victims, trade unionists, medical professionals and health and safety campaigners have today issued a press release questioning whether Yuanda (UK) Co. Ltd., a Chinese-owned company, is illegally importing asbestos-containing building materials into the UK. Yuanda UK is part of the same industrial conglomerate as Yuanda Australia; the latter company is being investigated over the import and use of asbestos-containing products at construction sites throughout Australia. UK construction workers already face a higher risk of contracting asbestos diseases than most other workers so any increase in exposure to asbestos products would be of particular danger to them. [Read full article]

Action Mesothelioma Day 2016

July 6, 2016

From Glasgow to Portsmouth, from Swansea to Gateshead via the Isle of Man, Sheffield and Birmingham, events were held throughout the UK on July 1, 2016 to observe Action Mesothelioma Day 2016. The extent and diversity of the activities marking the 11th national mesothelioma day underscored the growth in support for those suffering from a supposedly “rare” disease which nevertheless caused 7,398 deaths between 2011 and 2013. With an increasing number of events and extensive media coverage, it is evident that support for this day of action is growing stronger every year as is the determination of advocates to achieve medical progress and substantive breakthroughs for all the injured. [Read full article]

Schools Asbestos Awareness Workshop

Jun 21, 2016

Children and staff from six local schools took part in an asbestos awareness workshop organized by a local campaigning body, the Asbestos Interest Group (AIG), in collaboration with partnering organizations on South Africa’s Youth Day (June 16). Feedback from participants has been positive with children having enjoyed meeting up with pupils from other schools to learn about the impact of asbestos contamination on their towns. A report written by AIG’s Prudence Kotoloane is informative as well as inspiring containing details of measures undertaken to keep children “awake and energetic.” The International Ban Asbestos Secretariat was proud to be a co-sponsor of this and other events organized by the AIG. [Read full article]

The Asbestos Hazard at Shipyards

Jun 20, 2016

A high incidence of asbestos-related disease has been recorded amongst military and civilian workforces at shipyards in England, Scotland, Italy, Japan, the U.S. and other countries. In August 1945, Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Factories A. W. Garrett was so concerned about the consequences of asbestos use in the shipbuilding and ship repairing industries that he wrote a letter to industry stakeholders in which he stated: “while asbestos dust may not have any apparent effects at first, experience shows that, particularly if the workers are exposed to the dust in substantial concentrations, serious results are apt to develop later.” The contents of Garrett’s letter were shared with vested interests in the UK and abroad. [Read full article]

100th Issue of Unique British Publication

Jun 13, 2016

A significant landmark has been reached with the distribution this month of the 100th issue of the British Asbestos Newsletter, a publication which has over the last 25 years become a national resource for asbestos victims, campaigners, legal experts, professionals and concerned citizens. The 24 chapters in the commemorative edition, which have been authored by leading stakeholders amongst the UK community of asbestos activists, highlight the efforts that have been made to secure the human and legal rights of asbestos victims and signpost measures for achieving future victories. The image on the cover has been designed by world renowned artist Conrad Atkinson. [Read full article]

Implementing Nepal’s Asbestos Ban

May 25, 2016

Nepal is the first country in South Asia to ban the import, sale, distribution and use of all forms of asbestos and asbestos-containing products with the exception of asbestos-containing brake shoes and clutch plates. Although the prohibitions came into force on June 20, 2015, government data shows that the import of banned asbestos and asbestos-containing products continues. Attempts by a civil society organization in Nepal – the Center for Public Health and Environmental Development – to monitor the situation and implement measures to enforce these regulations are discussed in this article. [Read full article]

International Workers Memorial Day 2016

Apr 30, 2016

On April 28, 2016, the Hartlepool Trades Union Council joined with other labor federations, trade unions and campaigning groups around the world to commemorate International Workers Memorial Day (IWMD). Despite a cold wind blowing in off the North Sea, the activities were informative, productive and reinvigorating. With wreath laying ceremonies for students and the public, a health and safety seminar, a dedication service at Christchurch, the premiere of a film for IWMD 2016 and a buffet lunch, participants had a multitude of opportunities to learn and interact with the experts and each other. During speeches, discussions and tributes, we remembered the dead and pledged to fight for the living. [Read full article]

Asbestos-free South Asia – If not now, then when?

Apr 26, 2016

A press release issued by groups campaigning to end the use of asbestos in Asia details discussions which took place in Dhaka, Bangladesh on April 23, 2016. The Strategy Meeting on Asbestos 2016 was hosted by the following groups: Bangladesh Ban Asbestos Network (B-BAN), Asian Ban Asbestos Network (A-BAN) and the Asia Monitor Resource Centre (AMRC). The purpose of the gathering was to “have focused discussions on building strategies nationally with the sub-region and work on coordinated activities in South Asia.” B-BAN’s Repon Chowdhury called on the government to ban asbestos straightaway and develop a national roadmap to confront the country’s asbestos legacy. [Read full article]

Japan: New Asbestos Initiative

Apr 26, 2016

On April 20, 2016, the inaugural meeting of the Asbestos Sub-Committee of Japan’s Environment Ministry’s Central Environment Council took place in Tokyo. On the agenda was a review of government relief schemes which, since 2006, have paid compensation to asbestos victims not covered by workers’ compensation schemes. Speakers representing asbestos victims, who described the situation facing people with non-occupational asbestos exposure as inequitable and unjust, called for equal treatment for all those who had been affected. After the session, a press conference took place during which calls were made for political action to remedy the injustices which persisted. [Read full article]

Global Asbestos Awareness Event

Apr 26, 2016

On April 6, 2016 a community campaigning body – the Asbestos Interest Group – held an information sharing session for local people in the former South African mining town of Kuruman. Amongst the expert speakers were specialists in the fields of occupational health and oncology who focused on issues of particular relevance to this at-risk community, including the effects of environmental asbestos exposure on health, the monitoring of and treatment for asbestos cancer and the importance of family and community support for the injured. The sessions concluded with a candle lighting ceremony to remember those whose lives had been lost to asbestos-related diseases. [Read full article]

Mystery over the Multimillion Mesothelioma Grant

Apr 19, 2016

It is disappointing but not surprising that an April 13, 2016 response to parliamentary questions regarding the establishment of a National Mesothelioma Centre was suggestive of yet more secret deals and collusion at the heart of government. The contentious text tabled by Chief Secretary to the Treasury MP Greg Hands contradicted a statement made a few weeks earlier by George Freeman, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Life Sciences, who had said that the disbursement of a £5 million government grant would be open for discussion. As of April 13 it seems that a London-based consortium, with little mesothelioma research experience, has bagged the lot. Why? [Read full article]

Columbian Senate Debates Ban Asbestos Bill

Apr 8, 2016

On Tuesday, April 5, 2016 the Colombian Senate had its first debate on Bill 97 which seeks to introduce a comprehensive ban on the production, marketing, export, import and distribution of all forms of asbestos and products containing it. Evidence from civil society stakeholders including asbestos victims, campaigners and industry spokesmen was given prior to interventions by Senators Nadia Blel, Alvaro Uribe Velez, Dr. Jorge Ivan Ospina, Jesus Castilla and Carlos Enrique Soto. No final decisions were taken but the asbestos ban bill remains under consideration; a Senate subcommittee has been tasked to further explore this legislation. Supporters are optimistic that asbestos prohibitions will be adopted. [Read full article]

Parliamentary Asbestos Seminar 2016

Mar 23, 2016

An extraordinary meeting of MPs and invited guests took place on March 22, 2016 in the House of Commons under the auspices of the Parliamentary Asbestos Sub-Group. The original objective of the event was to showcase cutting edge work by UK mesothelioma researchers and call for a coordinated and long-term strategy to find treatments and a cure for a cancer killing thousands every year. The agenda which had been planned earlier in the year was changed this week to reflect the March 16 announcement that the government would provide £5 million to establish a National Mesothelioma Centre of Excellence. While this news was greeted enthusiastically, curiosity over details of the allocation was widespread. [Read full article]

Asbestos: Ignominy, Corruption and Retribution

Mar 22, 2016

Global revelations over recent weeks have highlighted the deadly measures employed by vested interests to control national asbestos debates and forestall government regulations in order to maximize profits, despite knowledge about the health hazards of exposure to asbestos, “probably the most hazardous industrial material ever unleashed on an unsuspecting world.” Information sourced from lobbying groups and defendant corporations document the key role played by consultant “scientists” in propaganda offensives and legal defence strategies such as the one developed by the Ford Motor Company to defeat legal claims by former auto mechanics. [Read full article]

Global Asbestos Hegemony; Global Asbestos Crimes

Feb 15, 2016

On May 31, 2016 the Italian constitutional court will hand down a verdict in a criminal case of immense importance. At issue is whether Swiss asbestos billionaire Stephan Schmidheiny can be held to account for the asbestos deaths of Italian citizens. Central to the defense is the concept of double jeopardy whereby a person cannot be tried twice for the same crime. Schmidheiny has been tried three times for Italian asbestos crimes and convicted twice. The guilty verdicts were overturned by the Supreme Court in 2014 due to the expiration of the statute of limitations. Schmidheiny is now facing manslaughter charges for hundreds of asbestos deaths; there is no statute of limitation for this crime. [Read full article]

Chrysotile (White) Asbestos: The Facts

Feb 10, 2016

Global asbestos interests, including groups like the International Chrysotile Association, commission and advance research which purports that chrysotile (white) asbestos can be used safely. A new resource has been developed for use by grassroots campaigners and others which clearly delineates the known scientific facts about the human health hazard posed by exposure to chrysotile. Based on the twenty facts listed, the authors declare their support for the “immediate prohibition of the use of any form of asbestos-containing products including those containing chrysotile, and call for their complete elimination.” [Read full article]

Media Release: Albania’s Asbestos Crisis

Feb 3, 2016

Reports from the Albanian capital of Tirana have raised concerns about work ongoing in the city center on the demolition of asbestos-cement roofing material during the refurbishment of the central market. According to Professor Romeo Hanxhari the work is “being carried out in an unsafe and unacceptable manner resulting in airborne fibres being inhaled and environmental pollution being dispersed in adjacent areas.” Today, European groups representing asbestos victims, trade unionists and health and safety campaigners have issued a public health warning and communicated their concerns to municipal and national officials. [Read full article]

Asbestos Justice: The Time Has Come!

Feb 1, 2016

From Japan to Brazil via Italy and France, over recent days asbestos victims have secured amazing judicial wins. Workers from Japan’s construction sector, French and Italian factories, Italian warehouses and Brazilian asbestos-cement factories have set precedents and secured sizable compensation payouts for contracting asbestos-related conditions – including psychological complaints – and diseases. Governments, institutions and corporations which allowed toxic exposures to occur have been condemned and punished for their failures. National administrations, civil servants and companies which allow hazardous exposures to continue should be under no illusion: the day of reckoning is nigh! [Read full article]

The “evil effects of [asbestos] dust”: Lucy Deane 1898

Jan 25, 2016

In 1898, Lucy Deane, a Lady Inspector of Factories in Great Britain, informed the Chief Inspector of Factories and Workshops of the “abundant evidence… of the evil effects of dust” writing: “The evil effects of asbestos dust have also attracted my attention, a microscopic examination of this mineral dust which was made by H.M. Medical Inspector clearly revealed the sharp, glass-like, jagged nature of the particles, and where they are allowed to rise and to remain suspended in the air of a room, in any quantity, the effects have been found to be injurious, as might have been expected.” This report is one of the earliest notifications of the occupational asbestos hazard. [Read full article]

Argentina’s Asbestos Anomaly

Jan 18, 2016

Data collected by the United States Geological Survey (USGS) on the global asbestos trade is widely used. From time to time, however, there have been irregularities which have needed investigating. For several years, the USGS has reported that Argentina, a country which adopted a resolution banning asbestos in 2001, produced small amounts of asbestos every year of the 21st century, ranging from a high of 300 tonnes in 2006 and 2007 to a low of 100 tonnes in 2012-2014. Inquiries have been made with experts at the USGS and in Argentina into the mystery of how a country with an asbestos ban can also be an asbestos producer. [Read full article]

Change in Mesothelioma Regime to Benefit Veterans

Jan 13, 2016

As of April 11, 2016 changes to the compensation policy for ex-service personnel suffering from the asbestos cancer, mesothelioma will allow former members of the armed services diagnosed with this cancer on or after December 16, 2015 to receive a lump sum of £140,000 instead of smaller weekly or monthly payments dispensed under the War Pensions Scheme. The improvements, which will bring government awards for veterans more in line with those for civilians, resulted from campaigning by The Royal British Legion and victims’ groups. The U-turn in government policy was announced in Parliament last month by the Minister for Defence Personnel and Veterans, Mark Lancaster MP. [Read full article]

Alert: Asbestos Public Health Hazard

Dec 15, 2015

Asbestos victims’ groups and campaigning bodies from Latin America, Asia and Europe have today published multilingual resources to raise awareness of the public health hazard in the world’s biggest asbestos producing countries. The translations into Russian, Chinese, and Portuguese of a new text confirming the disease risk to people who did not work in the asbestos industry will be an invaluable resource to campaigners in countries where powerful vested interests deny: the hazard of non-occupational asbestos exposures, the impact of cumulative exposures from multiple sources and the dangers of low level exposures. [Read full article]

Who is at Risk from Toxic Exposures?

Dec 15, 2015

Recent events and publications have highlighted the public health hazard posed by current and legacy asbestos exposures. To ensure that campaigners in asbestos stakeholding countries have access to the latest information, a coalition of asbestos victims’ support groups and campaigning bodies from Latin America, Asia and Europe have collaborated on a project to translate a commentary published in November 2015 into the languages of the three largest asbestos producing nations (Russia, China, and Brazil). This article includes links to these translations and also to a translation of the text into Vietnamese. [Read full article]

Open Letter to Global Asbestos Industry

Dec 8, 2015

Asbestos victims and ban asbestos campaigners in Asia have joined forces with international colleagues to declare their commitment to end asbestos use in a letter published today on this website. Urging asbestos stakeholders to take responsibility for their actions and adopt safer asbestos-free technologies, the activists point out that “if you profit from the sale of asbestos, you will be held liable for the diseases you have caused and the damage you have done, not only to your workers but also to members of the public who have been injured by using your products or breathing the air your factories have poisoned.” [Read full article]

Vietnam Asbestos Offensive

Nov 25, 2015

A workshop entitled “Using Chrysotile Safe (sic) and Under Control” was held in Hanoi, Vietnam on November 18, 2015. The title is a poorly translated adaptation of discredited asbestos industry rhetoric extolling the “safe use of asbestos.” The pro-asbestos stance of the speakers at the event organized by the Roofing Sheet Association was challenged by civil society representatives who have been mobilizing support for a Vietnam asbestos ban over recent years. Commenting on the failure of the lobbyists to convince delegates that asbestos could be used safely in Vietnam or elsewhere, Dr. Tuan Tran said: “the speakers’ motivation and lack of credence were obvious.” [Read full article]

Asbestos Awareness Down Under

Nov 12, 2015

November is asbestos awareness month in Australia. Personal initiatives taking place this month are complimented by more formal activities such as public outreach projects on the east coast, ecumenical services on the west coast and various activities in between. With the world’s only Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency, Australia is at the cutting edge of efforts to deal with the industrial and environmental legacy of asbestos use. Despite all that is being done, residents in the toxic town of Baryulgil, New South Wales continue to die prematurely decades after the asbestos mine was closed. Compensation is rarely obtained and medical services are woeful. [Read full article]

Eradicating the Asbestos Hazard

Oct 16, 2015

Recognizing that Britain is in the grip of an “asbestos crisis,” a Parliamentary Group has today called for the complete eradication of the asbestos hazard in a report entitled: “The asbestos crisis. Why Britain needs an eradication law.” This move closely follows a demand that the European Commission “create and finance a Europe-wide programme aimed at the removal of all asbestos from public and private buildings.” It is now well past time for the governments in Westminster and Brussels to confront their respective asbestos challenges and heed the demands from civil society for “a safe, phased and planned removal of all the asbestos that still remains in place…” [Read full article]

Asbestos – What Would Shakespeare Say?

Oct 5, 2015

A paper presented at Mesothelioma UK’s 10th Patients and Carer Day, which was held in Stratford-upon-Avon on October 2, 2015, was entitled: Asbestos – What Would Shakespeare Say? The presentation examined the history of the global asbestos industry and highlighted explosive new mortality data; the author considered how Britain’s most renowned dramatist might have reacted to the deadly epidemic taking hundreds of thousands of lives every year. Examples of recent grassroots activities undertaken in Colombia, India, Vietnam and South Africa were discussed with the speaker reaffirming the commitment of the global ban asbestos movement to an asbestos-free future. [Read full article]

Media Release: Asbestos: Killer Fibre!

Sep 29, 2015

European asbestos victims and campaigning groups have issued this press release to highlight statistics presented today at the 2015 conference of the European Trade Union Confederation which document the huge death toll caused by exposure to asbestos in the European Union (EU). According to the new estimates, there are 47,000 EU deaths from just two types of asbestos-related cancer every year. Commenting on the findings of the paper: Eliminating Occupational Cancer in Europe, Laurie Kazan-Allen, Coordinator of the International Ban Asbestos Secretariat, called on the authorities to “make good on their promise to constitute a European Asbestos Taskforce as a matter of utmost urgency.” [Read full article]

French Victims Denounce Flawed Report

Sep 25, 2015

In a press release issued on September 14, 2015 headlined “The government buries individual access,” the French National Association for the Defense of Asbestos Victims (ANDEVA) denounced a report used by the government to reject calls for wider access to social security benefits, including early retirement, for asbestos-exposed workers. The decision was, ANDEVA said, based on a financial analysis of costs that was “utterly wrong, both morally and technically.” In an attempt to clarify the issues involved, questions were put to Marc Hindry, an ANDEVA spokesman; the dialogue which ensued confirms the Government’s determination to minimize liabilities at the expense of the injured. [Read full article]

An Anniversary to Remember

Sep 22, 2015

This month we mark the 15th anniversary of the ground-breaking Global Asbestos Congress 2000: Past, Present and Future [Congresso Mundial do Amianto: Passado, Presente e Futuro] (GAC 2000) which took place over four days (September 17-20, 2000) in Osasco, Brazil, a municipality that was for decades the site of Latin America’s largest asbestos-cement complex. In a tribute to the vision of GAC 2000 pioneers, delegates from Asia, Africa, Europe and North America have described the impact the Congress had, not only on campaigns for asbestos victims’ rights in their home countries but also on the global struggle for social and environmental justice. [Read full article]

The Beauty, the Wonder and the Solidarity of Osasco – 15 years on!

Sep 21, 2015

Recalling the participation of several South Africans in the world’s first asbestos victims’ event, Dr. Sophia Kisting – the Executive Director of South Africa’s National Institute for Occupational Health – described the impact of this experience on the delegation: “For South Africans, just about six years into our change from the cruel divisions of apartheid, it was a glimpse of the possibilities of a constitutional democracy to help redress the crippling inequalities and divisions of the past.” Expressing “deep appreciation” on behalf of her colleagues, Dr. Kisting highlighted the importance of international solidarity in the global struggle against asbestos injustice. [Read full article]

Blot on the Landscape

Sep 17, 2015

Rochdale Borough Council approved plans on September 16, 2015 for airborne testing for asbestos contamination around the former site of Turner Brothers Asbestos, in its heyday the world’s largest facility for asbestos manufacturing. The cost of the environmental monitoring at the 72 acre privately-owned property will be borne by the Council. Members of the Save Spodden Valley campaign, who have derided the scheme as a public relations exercise which fails to address the complex challenges posed by the legacy of decades of asbestos production, are calling for a robust, open and scientific approach. [Read full article]

Pleural Plaques: Obtaining Social Justice and Equity in Addressing Compensation Issues in Scotland

Sep 8, 2015

This paper – from the Occupational and Environmental Health Research Group at Stirling University – will be discussed today (September 8, 2015) at the Scottish Parliament by politicians, trade unionists, asbestos victims’ advocates and campaigners. In their briefing, the Stirling University researchers call on the Scottish Parliament to “resolve negative impacts on claimants and their families” resulting from the compensation regime under which pleural plaques victims must relinquish potentially larger compensation awards for asbestos-related diseases contracted in the future to receive smaller one-off payouts for pleural plaques now. [Read full article]

Challenging Colombia’s Asbestos Status Quo

Sep 7, 2015

In August 2015, campaigners in Colombia took the ban asbestos fight into new forums and destinations; raising the profile of the country’s asbestos scandal at academic conferences and art exhibitions, and in public spaces. On August 20, artist Guillermo Villamizar discussed the case of asbestos entrepreneur, billionaire, art collector and “philanthropist” Stephen Schmidheiny, formerly head of one of the world’s largest global asbestos conglomerates, during a presentation at an event in Cali. The next week an art show opened in Bogotá called “The law of diminishing returns” featuring an installation by Guillermo Villamizar entitled ASBESTOS: Lungs of capitalism. [Read full article]

Conference Report: Freeing Europe Safely from Asbestos

Sep 1, 2015

The conference “Freeing Europe Safely from Asbestos” took place in Brussels on June 24, 2015; speakers included EU officials, politicians and representatives of labor organizations, victims’ groups and campaigning bodies. In several presentations, frustrations were expressed about a chaotic and ineffective asbestos policy which was adding to the hazards posed by millions of tonnes of toxic material within EU infrastructures and environments. Ms. Rënstrom, the Chair of the Committee of the Regions Commission for Social Policy, Education, Employment and Culture, spoke many delegates when she said that excuses by European Commission officials would no longer be tolerated. [Read full article]

Ban Asbestos Mobilization in Canada!

Aug 22, 2015

In the run-up to Canada’s upcoming federal elections, asbestos victims, trade unions, campaigning bodies and newspaper editors have called for a comprehensive and unilateral ban on the mining of asbestos and the use, import and sale of asbestos-containing products. The resurgence of ban asbestos support has attracted media interest with two pro-ban editorials appearing last month (July 2015) in influential daily newspapers. For decades, Canada was at the heart of the global asbestos industry. The time for a reckoning has come. Canada must admit its part in the worldwide asbestos conspiracy and make amends. A national ban is the logical first step. [Read full article]

Who Can be Trusted to Find Asbestos in New Zealand?

Aug 13,2015

Over the years, especially since the 2011 earthquake in Christchurch, there has been periodic media coverage of the failings of the New Zealand authorities to take action to prevent hazardous asbestos exposures. This insightful article provides details of a situation which is totally out of control – where inexperienced and untrained individuals are allowed to conduct “asbestos surveys” despite a lack of appropriate qualifications and expertise. The author Craig Newsome, who holds a qualification from the British Occupational Hygiene Society in Buildings Surveys and Bulk Sampling for Asbestos, explains what customers should look for when they hire an asbestos surveyor. [Read full article]

Media Release: Stop Playing with Cancer!

Jul 27, 2015

In light of recent revelations by US campaigners of the discovery of asbestos contamination in crayons and fingerprinting kits, UK groups are urging government bodies to prioritize the threat posed by asbestos in imported goods. A spokesman for the Forum of Asbestos Victims’ Support Groups highlights the need for the monitoring of imports while campaigner Laurie Kazan-Allen calls for prison sentences for importers and distributors of toxic products in a media release issued today. Members of the Joint Union Asbestos Committee recommend a national campaign to raise public awareness about the asbestos hazards in schools and homes. [Read full article]

Italian Asbestos Verdict Due on Friday!

Jul 20, 2015

On July 24, 2015, Judge Federica Bompieri will hand down an eagerly awaited decision to a court in Turin, Italy. She will decide whether or not to comply with a request from Public Prosecutors for a new criminal trial against asbestos billionaire Stephen Schmidheiny. Although Schmidheiny had been found guilty by lower courts of causing a permanent environmental disaster as a result of which thousands of Italians died, these verdicts were overturned by the Italian Supreme Court (Court of Cassation) in November 2014 due to the expiration of the statute of limitations. In the new case, the defendant is facing charges of manslaughter, a crime for which there is no statute of limitations. [Read full article]

Action Mesothelioma Day 2015

Jul 9, 2015

As bright sunshine blanketed the UK on July 3, 2015, asbestos victims’ support groups around the country highlighted the consequences of a silent epidemic which is taking up to 5,000 lives every year. During the 21st century, tens of thousands of people have died from mesothelioma, one type of asbestos cancer; unfortunately, the UK has the highest age-adjusted mesothelioma mortality in the world. People representing the asbestos dead took part in public rallies, conferences, information sessions and memorial services on July 3 – Action Mesothelioma Day – to make manifest the nationwide scale of the country’s asbestos catastrophe. [Read full article]

Development of Turkish National Asbestos Program

Jul 7, 2015

A consortium of asbestos experts and researchers have published the 30-page Turkey Asbestos Control Strategic Plan Final Report which contains details of the objectives, targets, scope and implementation of measures to assess environmental and occupational asbestos hazards in rural communities where naturally occurring contamination endangers many residents; between 2008 and 2012, 5617 cases of mesothelioma were reported. Asbestos is considered by the researchers as “one of the most important public health problems of Turkey.” The Plan outlines a rehabilitation program which identifies areas of risk and proposes measures to remediate affected locales and eliminate the asbestos risk. [Read full article]

Awareness Workshop in South African Asbestos Town

Jul 1, 2015

On South Africa’s Youth Day (June 16, 2015), a community asbestos outreach program in the former asbestos mining town of Kuruman brought together dozens of primary and secondary school children as well as school staff members to take part in an Asbestos Awareness Workshop. The day’s events were organized by the Asbestos Interest Group to: raise asbestos awareness amongst students; alert school managers to the hazards posed by asbestos-containing products and contamination in and around schools; educate participants on the region’s asbestos history, the types of asbestos-related diseases and measures for preventing hazardous exposures. [Read full article]

Interim Report: EU Asbestos Action

Jun 28, 2015

Activities this week in the Flemish town of Kapelle-op-den-Bos represented a paradigm shift not only in the capacity of local people to impact on the asbestos disaster which has befallen their town but also on the political attitude of the municipal authorities. Kapelle asbestos victims and family members working with ABEVA, the Belgian Association of Asbestos Victims, organized a series of “first-ever” events on June 23 to highlight the ongoing effects of decades of asbestos-cement production at the Eternit factories in their town. The following day, ABEVA President Eric Jonckheere was one of eighteen speakers to address a joint EU asbestos hearing. [Read full article]

Europe’s Asbestos Ground Zero

Jun 22, 2015

History will be made this week, when asbestos victims from a small Belgian town – Kapelle-op-den-Bos – spearhead the first public protest against Eternit in their home town. The local activists are welcoming a delegation of asbestos victims, trade unionists, campaigners and experts for a series of events on Tuesday, June 23, 2015. Representatives from Europe and Australia will join Kapelle residents at a vigil in front of the former Eternit factory before laying a floral tribute at the local cemetery. A meeting with Kapelle’s Mayor Edward DeWitt will provide the opportunity for them to learn more about how the municipality is dealing with its dreadful asbestos legacy. [Read full article]

The HSE “Beware Asbestos” Web App

June 19, 2015

This critique of the 2014 HSE “Beware Asbestos” Web App by independent asbestos consultant and trainer Paul Beaumont reports on the workings of and reaction to a government scheme designed to identify asbestos-related tasks that can be carried out without an HSE Asbestos Licence and provide procedures for such work to be accomplished safely. Aimed at hard-to-reach groups such as sole tradespeople and small contractors, the app has been both welcomed and criticized by asbestos professionals, groups and individuals, some of whom felt it encouraged insufficiently skilled workers to undertake hazardous activities. [Read full article]

Posthumous Award for Asbestos Campaigner

Jun 11, 2015

It was announced this week (June 8) that the late Mrs. Carol Klintfalt, a veteran and committed asbestos campaigner, had been awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia in the Queen's Birthday Honours List. Having been diagnosed with the fatal asbestos cancer mesothelioma in 2006, Mrs. Klintfalt dedicated the remainder of her life to the campaign to raise awareness of the deadly hazard which is taking so many lives in Australia every year. See (photo) Victoria Keena (ADRI), Carol Klintfalt, Bertil Klintfalt and Professor Nico van Zandwijk (ADRI) at the launch of Betty the ADRI House in 2012. [Read full article]

Asbestos Spectre Haunts Parliament

Jun 9, 2015

The fact that the walls of the Palace of Westminster are “packed with asbestos” is no secret. Despite Parliament’s Asbestos Management Plan, dangerous incidents occur with an alarming frequency. It was reported in The Sunday Times this week that the latest occurred in mid-May 2015 when asbestos fibers contaminated the House of Commons chamber via an “air ventilation system.” Whilst “crisis talks” over the asbestos emergency took place amongst senior officials and parliamentary officials, most MPs, staff members and civil servants were left in the dark. In the country with the world’s highest incidence of asbestos cancer, there is every reason to be concerned about the impact of these exposures. [Read full article]

Asbestos Perspectives: Local Endeavour, Political Impotence

Jun 1, 2015

Two events which took place last month revealed different aspects of society's struggle with an unfolding tragedy. In the week before UN delegates gathered in Geneva to progress efforts to impose some regulation on the global asbestos trade, asbestos cancer sufferers got together at the monthly meeting of the Papworth Mesothelioma Support Group. As the UK victims know, there is no such thing as safe exposure to asbestos, despite the protestations of the asbestos industry. As a result of the shameful and shameless behaviour by commercial and government asbestos stakeholders in Geneva, the sale of asbestos continues unfettered and unregulated. [Read full article]

Press Release: Confronting Europe’s Asbestos Disaster

May 27, 2015

More than two years of discussions will come to fruition on June 24, 2015, when the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions will host a hearing on asbestos issues in the European Parliament under the title of “Freeing Europe Safely from Asbestos.” Civil society groups representing asbestos victims, trade unions and campaigning bodies have today issued a press release welcoming this initiative and highlighting the subjects to be covered. With 15,000 lives being lost in Europe every year to asbestos-related diseases, urgent coordinated action is required not only in EU member States but in neighboring countries to prevent further deaths and contamination. [Read full article]

ROCA Press Release: Geneva, May 15, 2015

May 15, 2015

In this press release, issued by civil society groups at the end of the 2015 meeting of the Parties to the Rotterdam Convention, “grave alarm” is expressed over the hijacking of the UN process by asbestos industry vested interests. The fact that just four countries were able to override the wish of 150+ delegations which wanted to secure environmental and health protections from the known risk of exposure to chrysotile asbestos was a damning indictment not only of the commercial forces at work but also the Convention’s procedural flaws. [Read full article]

Report from the Asbestos Frontline: Update from Geneva

May 13, 2015

Too often at meetings of international organizations, the bureaucratic process takes over and the human impact of decisions taken or not taken is ignored. The presence in Geneva this week of an asbestosis sufferer from Bombay has introduced a much-needed element into the proceedings of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations’ Rotterdam Convention. The activities of Sharad Vittnal Sawant including his participation in a trade union ban asbestos rally, intervention during a plenary session and presentation to an asbestos side event are considered within a discussion of developments on May 12-13, 2015. [Read full article]

Open Letter to COP7 Delegates

May 12, 2015

The International Ban Asbestos Secretariat calls on delegates to the United Nations’ Rotterdam Convention (RC) to ignore spurious objections from vested interests and take action on chrysotile asbestos. National representatives are considering recommendations to list chrysotile asbestos on Annex III; inclusion of chrysotile would ensure that countries are given information about the asbestos hazard prior to importing fiber or products containing it. Failure to list chrysotile will not only endanger millions of people, but will do irreparable harm to the Rotterdam Convention. If the Convention is to fulfil its obligations, all Parties must support the listing of chrysotile. [Read full article]

Western Australia’s Asbestos Legacy

May 10, 2015

Decades after the Wittenoom asbestos mine in Western Australian (WA) was shut, asbestos cancer continues to pose a threat not only to WA workers but also to members of the public. Efforts are being made to confront the State’s deadly legacy by representatives of Perth-based groups including the Asbestos Diseases Society of Australia (ADSA) and the National Centre of Asbestos Related Diseases (NCARD). An update has been compiled highlighting current and future initiatives after attending the ADSA’s annual general meeting and participating in discussions with ADSA and NCARD staff last month (April 2015). [Read full article]

Welcome to Geneva!

May 6, 2015

As asbestos lobbyists arrive in Switzerland this week, they will be met by posters circulating around the city center on buses and trams with stark public health warnings about the deadly asbestos hazard! Considering that the purpose of their visit is to prevent delegates to next week’s meeting of the UN’s Rotterdam Convention from designating chrysotile asbestos as a hazardous substance, this powerful advertising campaign will almost certainly be an unpleasant surprise. Another omen which will no doubt provide consternation to industry spin doctors is a highly derogatory statement made today by UN Rapportuer Baskut Tuncak, that singled out the asbestos industry for criticism. Welcome to Geneva! [Read full article]

The Global Mesothelioma Landscape 2015

Apr 30, 2015

On April 24, 2015, the text of this paper was the basis for a presentation made by Laurie Kazan-Allen at a lunchtime seminar at The National Centre for Asbestos Related Diseases in Perth, Australia. Commenting on the widespread lack of knowledge regarding the incidence of mesothelioma, the speaker considered the likely ramifications of the increasing use of asbestos in India. During her talk, she premiered a film entitled: Victims of Chrysotile Asbestos – Voices from South East Asia and highlighted the work of grassroots activists to counter pro-asbestos propaganda promoted by vested commercial and government stakeholders. [Read full article]

Uproar Over UN Asbestos Debacle

Mar 26 2015

On March 30 and 31, 2015, asbestos lobbyists will be hosted in Geneva at the expense of European taxpayers. The European Union is underwriting the costs of bringing nineteen asbestos industry and government stakeholders to Europe to take part in yet another talking shop on chrysotile (white) asbestos under the umbrella of the Rotterdam Convention. Given the unproductive outcome of so many previous encounters, it belies belief that yet more money is being thrown at people who represent an industry which peddles death and pollution around the globe. The Secretariat of the Rotterdam Convention should be ashamed of its collusion with these asbestos deniers. [Read full article]

South Africa’s Asbestos Crisis

Mar 12, 2015

Throughout the 20th century, British multinationals invested in, operated and developed asbestos-producing and processing facilities in Southern Africa. When they walked away from their African asbestos liabilities, they abandoned asbestos-exposed workers and asbestos-contaminated communities to their fate; as a consequence of their actions, tens of thousands of individuals are even now being exposed to hazardous levels of asbestos on a daily basis. A communiqué sent last month (February 2015) by the British Parliamentary Group on Occupational Safety and Health to South Africa’s Minister of Labour expressed solidarity for those working to alleviate suffering caused by British asbestos corporations. [Read full article]

Asbestos, an Election Issue

Mar 9, 2015

As the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats are on the brink of burying a long-awaited report on asbestos in UK schools, UKIP promises to “get rid of unnecessary (asbestos) regulations.” Unlike the politicians who wish to either hide or deny the asbestos hazard, the Labour Party has a specific program to address the challenges it poses. At the beginning of 2015, Shadow Minister of State for Employment Stephen Timms announced plans for a joined-up long-term national asbestos strategy which would support the injured and pursue the ultimate goal of decontaminating the national infrastructure and environment. [Read full article]

Update from the UK’s Asbestos Battleground

Mar 3, 2015

Cancer researchers have reaffirmed that the UK still has the world’s highest age-standardized mesothelioma incidence. The ubiquity of this asbestos cancer in Britain is not news; neither is the failure by successive governments to engage with this deadly industrial legacy. Under the Conservative–Liberal Democrat coalition, the rights of asbestos victims have been attacked by insurers, their lawyers and the Government. The Labour Party has plans for a long-term national asbestos strategy to support the injured and decontaminate our infrastructure and environment. With the General Election looming, the asbestos policies of prospective candidates should be carefully scrutinized. [Read full article]

Who is Informing the UN’s Asbestos Debate?

Feb 23, 2015

Between May 12 and 15, 2015, members of the Rotterdam Convention (RC), gathered in Geneva at the 7th Conference of the Parties (COP7), will once again consider if chrysotile asbestos should be placed on a list of hazardous chemicals. A technical workshop on chrysotile will be held by the RC secretariat on March 30 and 31, 2015. Amongst the delegates listed are representatives of asbestos industry bodies from India, Ukraine and Zimbabwe. The presence of Vivek Chandra Rao Sripalle, Mr. Oleksandr Sierkin and Shame Chibvongodze will ensure that the concerns of the industry are heard. Once again, the voice of the victims will be missing from the conversation. [Read full article]

Australia’s Asbestos Anomaly

Feb 12, 2015

According to the asbestos section in the Mineral Commodity Summaries 2015 of the United States Geological Survey (USGS), which was published on January 30, 2015, 5% of the asbestos imported and used in the United States in 2014 was chrysotile (white) asbestos sourced from Australia, a country which banned the use of asbestos in 2003 and the export of asbestos and asbestos-containing products. “Imports from Australia were,” explained the USGS “either from stocks or transshipments because Australia no longer mines asbestos.” Attempting to clarify this mystery, enquiries have been initiated with the Australian authorities as well as the USGS. [Read full article]

New Zealand’s Asbestos Policy Unfit for Purpose – Still!

Feb 11, 2015

A report commissioned by the New Zealand Government entitled “Inventory of New Zealand Imports and Exports of Asbestos-Containing Products” has been categorized this week as fatally flawed by Ban Asbestos Campaigner Mrs. Deidre VanGerven who has given stern warnings about the possible repercussions of her country’s lack of asbestos controls. Mrs. VanGerven has warned that Australia might even reconsider its policy on trade with New Zealand in light of the possibility that its products might contain asbestos. “It remains a mystery to me,” she says “how New Zealand politicians can downplay the threat asbestos poses when so many people continue to die every year from their exposures.” [Read full article]

Asbestos in Colombia 2014

Feb 2, 2015

When Colombia finally prohibits the use of asbestos, 2014 will be remembered as the year that marked the turning point in the perception of this dangerous mineral by industry, government and civil society stakeholders. Discussions, meetings, initiatives and media coverage progressed public and professional awareness of the asbestos hazard. The input of eminent international experts at high-level multilateral events in February and November was of great significance. A unique feature of this ban asbestos campaign is the involvement of artists who have taken asbestos issues as themes for their work. Colombian artists have also initiated asbestos projects with US, French and British colleagues. [Read full article]

End Europe’s Asbestos Derogation!

Jan 21, 2015

The manufacture, marketing and use of asbestos were banned in Europe as of January 1, 2005. There was an exemption to the EU prohibitions which allowed the import of asbestos-containing diaphragms for existing electrolysis cells. A decade later, under pressure from Dow Chemical, the European Commission and the European Chemicals Agency, is considering the continuation of the exemption until and possibly after 2025. The International Ban Asbestos Secretariat is strongly opposed to the extension of this exemption and calls on the EU Commission and EU Member States to take action to end this sole use of asbestos in the EU. [Read full article]

Italy’s Asbestos Mystery

Jan 14, 2015

Italian Public Prosecutor Raffaele Guaraniello, who was at the center of the historic criminal prosecutions of former asbestos businessmen for the deaths of thousands of Italian citizens, is now investigating reports of asbestos imports into Italy in 2012 despite the fact that the country banned asbestos a decade previously. The existence of this illicit trade was unearthed by Mohit Gupta from the New Delhi-based Occupational and Environmental Health Network of India. In 2012, India exported 1,296 tonnes (t) of asbestos, 1,040t (80%) to Italy. Other importers of Indian asbestos-cement products include five countries which have also banned asbestos. [Read full article]

Open Letter to Thai Minister of Industry

Jan 11, 2015

Comments made by Thailand’s Minister of Industry Chakramon Phasukavanich which were quoted in the Bangkok Post yesterday (Jan 10) included the statement that: “If the use of asbestos is banned by law… the burden to replace all products that contain asbestos would fall on the government.” In none of the 55 countries which have banned asbestos has this been the case. The IBAS Coordinator has written an open letter to the Minister asking for confirmation that his statements were accurately reported. In the IBAS letter, the Minister was informed of legal actions against governments which had failed to take timely and appropriate action to protect citizens from the asbestos hazard. [Read full article]

Indonesian Asbestos-Related Disease Workshop

Jan 5, 2015

In December 2014, Indonesia’s Ministry of Health in collaboration with the Korean Environment Corporation (KECO) conducted a workshop entitled: “Seoul Initiative Indonesia Workshop: Improving Health Officers’ Competencies on Measuring Workplace Environmental Ambient Level and Diagnosing Asbestos Related Diseases in Indonesia.” The objective of this initiative was to improve the knowledge of health officers and other stakeholders about diagnosing asbestos-related diseases and workplace environmental monitoring. Resulting from the workshop, an asbestos research project has been set up with the KECO; data collected will inform the national asbestos policy and regulatory regime. [Read full article]

Progress on Asbestos Ban in Nepal

Jan 1, 2015

On December 22, 2014, the Government of Nepal banned the import, sale, distribution and use of all asbestos and asbestos-containing materials on the grounds of public health. According to a government notice published in the Nepal Gazette by the Ministry of Science, Technology and Environment, the prohibition will take effect on June 20, 2015, 181 days from the date of publication; the sole exemption is for automotive brake shoes and clutch plates. These prohibitions will drastically reduce national consumption as the vast majority of asbestos used in Nepal goes into construction materials such as roofing sheets. [Read full article]

November’s Asbestos Revolution

Dec 16, 2014

In November 2014, grassroots groups made manifest the disgust of societies still being exploited by the asbestos industry. From Latin America to Asia, the call went out for an end to the slaughter caused by such exploitation. Support for a global ban escalated, with key events taking place in Colombia, Thailand and Vietnam, countries where the asbestos agenda had, until very recently, been dictated by vested interests. The passion and determination of civil society campaigners in Bogotá, Bangkok and Hanoi are testament to the universal resolve to bequeath future generations a world free of asbestos. The struggle continues! [Read full article]

Australia’s Asbestos Awareness Month

Dec 12, 2014

Asbestos is a hot button subject in Australia. There are front-page newspaper articles, mini-series and folk songs about it and around the country there exist a multiplicity of agencies and dozens of self-help and campaigning groups dedicated to supporting victims and spreading awareness. For a number of years, November has been regarded as the de facto month for outreach and media work to raise awareness. Last month, I was invited to participate in a number of “asbestos” activities in Victoria and Western Australia and to engage with colleagues and journalists in the Australian Capital Territory. This report contains information about these events and the amazing groups of people working with the victims. [Read full article]

Campaigning for Justice: On the Asbestos Frontline 2014

Dec 12, 2014

Despite aggressive lobbying by the pro-asbestos lobby, the campaign to outlaw asbestos use is growing in strength and scope. In this paper which was presented at a conference in Melbourne, Australia in November 2014, proactive initiatives, pioneering media campaigns and successful strategies were discussed which illustrated the means by which asbestos victims, non-governmental organizations and campaigning groups have wrested control of the asbestos debate away from vested interests, allowing new voices to be heard. Suggestions were made for strategies to further the goal of eradicating the asbestos hazard throughout the region. [Read full article]

Latest Global Asbestos Data

Nov 5, 2014

The latest figures for the global asbestos trade have been released by the United States Geological Survey (USGS). Changes from 2012 incude the fact that, for the first time, major asbestos producers and/or consuming countries from the former Soviet Union – Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan – have been shifted from the European to the Asian Region in the USGS classification. Global production was up by 2% to 2,019,000 tonnes; there was also an apparent consumption increase of 7% (to 2,104,000 tonnes), due to unusual results from Russia and Kazakhstan. In addition to examining current data we consider trends in asbestos use since 2000. [Read full article]

International Mesothelioma Conference

Oct 29, 2014

The 12th International Conference of the International Mesothelioma Interest Group 2014 (IMIG) took place in Cape Town on October 21-24, 2014. From rather small beginnings, IMIG has grown to be recognized as the premier biennial calendar fixture for mesothelioma experts. The success of the IMIG event was this year underscored by the presence at the meeting of asbestos industry delegates from the US, Switzerland and South Africa. As far as is known, the industry affiliations of these individuals were not known to IMIG delegates, although American toxicologist David Bernstein's poster presentation carried an acknowledgment that it had been funded by “Honeywell International Inc.” [Read full article]

Asbestos: Art, Science and Policy

Oct 20, 2014

A remarkable and innovative series of events highlighting the legal, societal and environmental impact of asbestos production and use begins in Bogota on October 28, 2014 and continues over the following week. These activities, featuring a series one-day conferences commencing on November 5, mark a defining moment in the country which is South America’s second biggest asbestos consumer having used an average of more than 20,000 tonnes/year over the last three years. This initiative has been organized by ban asbestos campaigners in collaboration with academic institutions, artists, scientific, medical and technical experts. [Read full article]

Historic Asbestos Ruling by Japanese Supreme Court

Oct 11, 2014

On October 9, 2014, Japan’s Supreme Court issued the final word in two class actions which had been languishing in the lower courts for eight years. In a unanimous verdict, the Supreme Court condemned the Government for failing by 1958 to have legislated that factories be equipped with mechanical measures to remove asbestos dust from the air; guidelines which had been issued were advisory and not mandatory. The Government’s failure to take timely and appropriate action was “extremely unreasonable” as well as “illegal.” As a consequence, the Government was liable for asbestos-related diseases contracted by plaintiffs occupationally exposed to asbestos prior to 1971. [Read full article]

Europe’s Asbestos Legacy: Ongoing Challenges, International Solutions

Oct 8, 2014

This article reproduces the text of a paper which formed the basis of the presentation made by Laurie Kazan-Allen at a conference entitled “Occupational Asbestos Exposure, International Experiences” held today (October 8, 2014) in Warsaw, addressing the multiple challenges posed by Europe’s asbestos legacy. Having quantified the impact asbestos had had throughout the continent, the speaker highlighted innovative strategies introduced by asbestos victims’ groups, trade unions, NGOs, health professionals and governments to identify and support the injured and eradicate asbestos contamination in national infrastructures and the environment. [Read full article]

Government Mesothelioma Reforms Illegal


A wait of nearly three months was ended today when Mr. Justice William Davis handed down his verdict in the judicial review sought by UK cancer victims into government plans to increase asbestos victims’ legal costs. The findings of Justice Davis were categorical: “the Lord Chancellor has failed to carry out a review as required by Section 48 [of LASPO].” As a consequence of this ruling, a Ministerial decision announced on December 4, 2013 will be vacated. As there are no plans to appeal the verdict, the government will now have to go back to square one and begin a thorough and timely review, exactly what the victims had been seeking. [Read full article]

On Australia’s Asbestos Frontline 2014

Sep 30, 2014

The existence of an asbestos cancer epidemic in Western Australia was known to members of the Asbestos Diseases Society of Australia (ADSA) long before it was corroborated by epidemiologists. The ADSA is at the cutting edge of the campaign to increase awareness of the asbestos hazard and raise vital research funds in Australia. In September 2014, ADSA members and staff organized major events including The Rod Triplett Walk for Research and Awareness and a fund-raising golfing day. Although the final tally has not yet been made public, judging by previous years, it is hoped it will be in six figures. [Read full article]

Colombia’s Asbestos Stories, from Economic to Legal

Sep 19, 2014

Colombian ban asbestos campaigner, artist Guillermo Villamizar examines moves by global asbestos vested interests to develop asbestos markets in emerging economies with a particular focus on the situation in Colombia. The author discusses industry techniques including the use of “mercenary” scientists to produce junk research that “proves” that white (chrysotile) asbestos is safe. In 2012 and 2013 Colombia imported 25,164 and 15,961 tons of asbestos respectively. Available figures for 2014 show a decline in asbestos import levels; this is partially explained by the restarting of asbestos mining operations in Yarumal (Antioquia), Colombia. [Read full article]

UK Asbestos Policy: Unfit for Purpose?

Sep 11, 2014

More people die in the UK from asbestos-related disease than road traffic accidents. Although asbestos has been banned for over a decade, deadly exposures continue; unsafe and illegal removal practices endanger workers as well as members of the public. This week, the issue has been discussed in the House of Commons by MPs and government officials. Reports by asbestos removal operatives have led to serious concerns being expressed and action being taken by a leading trade union, which has announced plans to work with asbestos removal stakeholders “to oppose any shortcuts regarding health safety and welfare.” [Read full article]

World Congress Bars German Asbestos Victims

Aug 25, 2014

Government bodies in Germany, including the Social Accident Insurance Institution and the Employer's Liability Insurance Agency, have collaborated not only to deny the claims of asbestos victims but also to deprive them of the right to express their grievances. The methods they have used are well illustrated by the refusal to allow their participation in the XX World Congress for Safety and Health at Work which is being held in Frankfurt on August 23-26, 2014. Despite multiple attempts to engage with the organizers of this high-profile event, no provision has been made for the voice of the asbestos victims to be heard. [Read full article]

Landmark Asbestos Prosecution in Brazil

Aug 23, 2014

On August 12, 2014, a Brazilian asbestos taskforce arrived to inspect the Eternit asbestos-cement factory in Rio de Janeiro, an industrial facility that exploits a judicial exemption allowing asbestos processing to continue in a state where asbestos is banned. The inspection team spent four days investigating the factory, its documents and processes; subsequently, the prosecutors filed a class action against Eternit which included a petition to force the company to pay $500 million in collective pecuniary and moral damages to cover expenses incurred by the injured as well as for research programs, awareness campaigns, and decontamination work in the factory, on its site and in the surrounding area. [Read full article]

Thai Ban Asbestos Struggle 2014

Aug 6, 2014

Three years ago the Thai Cabinet approved a ban asbestos resolution. Unfortunately, since that time, domestic asbestos stakeholders, in collaboration with Russian industry lobbyists, have forestalled progress in implementing legislation required to affect this much-needed public safety measure. This article discusses current developments in Bangkok, explaining reasons for the delay, with particular attention being paid to the efforts of Thailand’s asbestos industry, which in July 2014 appealed to the National Council for Peace and Order for “Fairness.” News from members of the Thailand Ban Asbestos Network is reported. [Read full article]

Report: BWI International Conference on Asbestos

Aug 4, 2014

The 2014 International Conference on Asbestos organized by the Building and Woodworkers International, in collaboration with labor and campaigning groups, made a significant contribution to furthering our understanding of the current asbestos landscape. This report on the Vienna event contains descriptions of the speeches, links to the presentations and photographs taken during the two days. Also included is the text of the Vienna Declaration, which was adopted unanimously by over 100 delegates from 40 countries, calling for an end to the use of all asbestos, protection for at-risk workers and justice for all victims. [Read full article]

Dirty, Rotten Scoundrels?

Aug 1, 2014

The publication today (August 1, 2014) of the Justice Committee’s Mesothelioma Claims Report has been welcomed by asbestos victims groups and trade unionists; in their statements made about the committee's findings, they highlighted the back room deal to minimize the asbestos-related liabilities of insurers to the detriment of dying cancer victims. Today, Sir Alan Beith MP, Chair of the Committee, expressed his surprise and concern about the contents of a previously undisclosed document revealing the existence of an agreement between the Government and the ABI. In comments by an insurance industry spokesperson, claimant lawyers were blamed for increased legal costs. [Read full article]

Open Letter to Asbestos Users

Jul 30, 2014

Asbestos victims in Latin America have joined with colleagues in Asia to call for the immediate banning of asbestos use following a landmark decision by the European Court of Human Rights which on July 24, 2014 affirmed the right of workers to live a life free of deadly exposures to asbestos. In an open letter published on this website, asbestos consuming companies and governments are asked: “Can You Afford Cheap Asbestos?” “There are,” the letter states “no excuses or defences for guilty parties… inaction on the asbestos threat is no longer an option.” Русская версия, Српска верзија, Srpska verzija; English version: [Read full article]

Tackling Asbestos Injustice in Korea

Jul 24, 2014

On July 22, 2014, a new initiative was mounted in the center of the Korean capital to raise awareness of the asbestos hazard amongst people in the construction sector. The event, which was attended by 30,000 workers, was organized by the Ban Asbestos Network of Korea in collaboration with the School of Public Health of Seoul National University and the national construction union. Construction workers constitute the majority of people diagnosed with asbestos diseases in Korea. Due to an inbuilt unfairness in government protocols, the majority of the injured are grossly undercompensated. Participants heard calls for improved conditions and salary uplifts for those in the construction sector. [Read full article]

Cyril Smith: MP, Paedophile and Asbestos Stooge

Jul 23, 2014

Cyril Smith, the MP who represented Rochdale from 1972 to 1992, stands condemned as “a predatory paedophile and a prolific offender who would target the most vulnerable boys.” Allegations of sexual abuse and political cover-ups seem to be surfacing on an almost daily basis and prompt questions of how such a high-profile figure was able to escape justice for so long. A less well-known unsavory fact about the MP was his close, some might say intimate, association with the UK asbestos giant: Turner and Newall Ltd. Not only did Smith own 1,300 T&N shares, but he addressed company directors by their first names, had dinners with them and willingly connived to progress the corporate agenda. [Read full article]

Parliamentary Asbestos Seminar

Jul 17 2014

The annual seminar of the Parliamentary Asbestos Sub-Group took place in London on July 16 hours before a memorial service for MP Paul Goggins, a renowned campaigner for the rights of asbestos victims. The afternoon session featured presentations covering legal, medical and political issues. Coming less than a fortnight after Action Mesothelioma Day had highlighted the devastation caused by the national asbestos catastrophe, the human dimension of the epidemic of avoidable cancers and respiratory diseases was at the forefront of delegates’ minds. As a leading UK medical researcher told delegates, the UK mesothelioma epidemic was a “health emergency.” [Read full article]

Health Risk to Residents of Asbestos Tower

Jul 14, 2014

A risk assessment produced by Industrial Hygienist Robin Howie examines the health hazards to residents of the Anderson Tower in Motherwell, North Lanarkshire, a large town south east of Glasgow. The block of flats was evacuated on July 3, 2014 by North Lanarkshire Council, after asbestos fibres were liberated during repair work by Scottish Power. The Council believes that “any risk is extremely low. Asbestos generally poses a health risk through exposure over a long period in high concentrations. What we have found is small areas of settled dust.” Mr. Howie, however, has other thoughts on the matter. [Read full article]

The U.S. Asbestos Legacy: A Call to Arms

Jul 9 2014

Twenty-five years ago this week, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) of the United States signalled its intention to protect American citizens from the deadly workplace hazard posed by asbestos. On July 12, 1989, the EPA issued the final ruling which banned the use of most asbestos-containing products. A fortnight later the U.S. Asbestos Ban and Phase-out Rule (ABPR) was promulgated. Unfortunately, an aggressive assault by Canadian and U.S vested interests put paid to the phase-out; as a result of legal action the ABPR was vacated by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit on October 18, 1991. [Read full article]

Manchester’s Action Mesothelioma Day 2014

Jul 4, 2014

Throughout the UK, activities took place on July 4, 2014 – Action Mesothelioma Day – to raise public awareness of a disease which is killing more people every year. A report by Hilda Palmer, from the Greater Manchester Asbestos Victims Support Group, highlighted the participation of asbestos victims, family members, campaigners, and politicians, all of whom demanded that funding be made available for research into the treatment of and possible cures for the deadly asbestos cancer, mesothelioma. A dove release, a public rally in the city center and a packed meeting in Manchester Town Hall attracted widespread attention and support and a great deal of press interest. [Read full article]

Top Brazilian Award for Fernanda Giannasi

Jul 4, 2014

On Brazil’s national day of justice (August 11, 2014), retired Labor Inspector and leader of the Brazilian movement to ban asbestos Fernanda Giannasi will be honoured when she is awarded the country’s highest distinction: the Order of Judicial Merit for Labor in Brasilia. The decision to bestow this honor upon her was taken by the Ministers of the Higher Labour Court in recognition of her “tireless work to ban asbestos in Brazil.” It is no exaggeration to say that Fernanda and her colleagues at the asbestos victims’ group ABREA have revolutionized the asbestos debate in Brazil. [Read full article]

Occupational Disease Outreach Project in India

Jul 3, 3014

The Rajasthan Majdoor Panchayat Sangh and the Occupational Health and Safety Association, Ahmedabad in collaboration with the Occupational Health and Safety Centre, Mumbai and the Occupational and Environmental Health Network of India held a two-day Diagnosis Camp in Rajasthan State in western India on June 19-20, 2014. The medical camp, which was supported by the Global Greengrant Fund, was organized to screen mine and quarry workers for cases of silicosis. Many of the people examined had worked in the stone quarries in and around the village. These quarries produce a soap stone which is contaminated with asbestos. [Read full article]

Review: Maria Roselli, The Asbestos Lie: The Past and Present of an Industrial Catastrophe

Jun 24, 2014

The publication of a new resource on the history of the asbestos industry is of import to campaigners engaged in the struggle to ban asbestos. The translation into English of a German book about Switzerland’s industrial legacy “fills an important gap in our knowledge of asbestos.” This review by British historian Geoffrey Tweedale of the English version of The Asbestos Lie commends the new text as well-written, easy to read and excellently translated. It is, he writes, “a significant contribution to our knowledge of the European asbestos industry.” [Read full article]

Asbestos and the World Cup 2014

Jun 17, 2014

When the 2014 Football World Cup was awarded to Brazil, the world’s fourth biggest asbestos producer, ban asbestos campaigners had serious concerns about whether asbestos would be used in the construction of the venues and ancillary buildings. According to a well-informed source, asbestos was not used to build the stadiums. Unfortunately, however, the widespread destruction of asbestos-contaminated buildings on development sites has created an environmental hazard that continues to endanger workers and members of the public. Due to the top secret nature of all World Cup issues, neither the federal nor the football authorities have been willing to discuss these issues. [Read full article]

Gas Masks, D-Day and the Asbestos Hazard

Jun 4, 2014

Concern has been raised about the possible exposure of schoolchildren in the UK and elsewhere to asbestos contained in World War I and World War II artefacts in the run-up to key anniversaries. After a sustained campaign by activists, the UK government finally issued categorical warnings to British education departments about the danger of handling vintage gas masks and helmets which could contain blue (crocidolite) or white (chrysotile) asbestos. Historical documents about these issues from Porton Down and the Imperial War Museum are cited and uploaded in conjunction with this article. [Read full article]

Japanese Mobilize for Asbestos Justice

May 19, 2014

On May 15, 2014 more than 5,000 people took part in a public rally in support of Japanese asbestos-injured construction workers. The date chosen was significant as it was the day when cases were filed with the Tokyo and Yokohama District Courts in the second wave of what has become known as the “metropolitan asbestos litigation.” The 160+ asbestos claimants, who included injured workers and the families of deceased workers, alleged that the Japanese government as well as asbestos product manufacturers were responsible for their injuries. The litigants are seeking recognition, compensation and the establishment of a nationwide asbestos program to prevent hazardous exposures. [Read full article]

Award for Latin American Activist: Fernanda Giannasi

May 15, 2014

On May 7, 2014 at a prestigious ceremony in an iconic Brazilian museum in São Paulo, the work of veteran ban asbestos activist and former labor inspector Fernanda Giannasi was publicly commemorated when she was presented with an award for excellence by the editors of CIPA Magazine, a widely read publication focusing on issues related to occupational health and safety. The choice of venue for this celebration was ironic given that when the museum was due to reopen after extensive refurbishment some years ago, an art installation was interdicted by Ms. Giannasi as it contained corrugated asbestos sheeting. [Read full article]

Unions Call for Asbestos Ban

May 12, 2014

Last week, 100 delegates from 41 countries took part in an International Asbestos Conference organized by the Building and Woodworkers International in collaboration with the Industriall Global Union, the European Federation of Building and Woodworkers and the International Ban Asbestos Secretariat. The agenda of the two-day conference reflected the international dichotomy whereby asbestos use is banned throughout the developed world but remains legal in industrializing economies. A range of topics was covered by frontline activists and world-class experts; delegates participated in productive discussion and strategy sessions. A detailed report on this event will follow in due course. [Read full article]

The Asbestos Frontline: Then and Now

May 7, 2014

The text of this paper formed the basis for a presentation made on May 6, 2014 at the International Trade Union Conference on Asbestos in Vienna, Austria organized by the Building and Woodworkers International (BWI), the Industriall Global Union, the Austrian trade Union GBH and the International Ban Asbestos Secretariat (IBAS). In her comments, IBAS Coordinator Laurie Kazan-Allen considered progress made since the BWI announced its support for a global asbestos ban in 1989. Having described successful strategies and initiatives pioneered in ban and non-ban countries, she proposed specific measures which could achieve an end to the needless asbestos slaughter. [Read full article]

Blue-sky Thinking

Apr 24, 2014

Since 2007, the [Australian] National Centre for Asbestos Related Diseases (NCARD) has been pioneering research into new treatments, methodologies and a potential cure for the asbestos cancer, mesothelioma. A visit to the Center in April 2014 provided the opportunity to interview members of the research team working on the: role of immunotherapy, development of biological markers, new drug combinations, treatments exploiting regulatory T cells and clinical applications for regulatory T cells. For the NCARD team, curing mesothelioma is not an academic pipe-dream; it is a goal which informs the researchers every minute of every day. [Read full article]

Grace Under Fire

Apr 22, 2014

The Asbestos Diseases Society of Australia (ADSA) is one of the most effective asbestos victims’ support groups anywhere in the world. The scope of its activities, the effectiveness of its efforts and the good-natured reception awaiting anyone who enters its premises address the tragic situation which exists in Western Australia. This State, one of the most badly affected regions in Australia with respect to asbestos-related cancer, continues to experience an unprecedented public health crisis due to asbestos exposures at work and at home. During its nearly thirty-five years of public service, the ADSA has developed a unique expertise in community service. [Read full article]

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

International agencies tasked with protecting public and occupational health agree that all types of asbestos can kill, safer alternatives are available and the future use of asbestos must be banned. 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” with industry propaganda alleging that “the use of chrysotile [asbestos] is vitally important for health and social welfare of hundreds of millions of people…” [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]

The Road to an Asbestos-Free Indonesia

Sep 19, 2013

Since the formation of the Indonesian Ban Asbestos Network in 2010, activities have been ongoing to raise public, occupational and medical professional awareness of the asbestos hazard. A recent asbestos initiative was an informal evening seminar held on September 5, 2013 on Bali entitled "Asbestos in our Homes and Workplaces." Keynote speaker Alex Ryan said that the purpose of the meeting was to raise awareness of the hazard posed by Indonesia's use of this carcinogen. Judging by the questions asked by participants, it was clear that there is a serious information vacuum regarding the threat posed by asbestos to workers and the public. [Read full article]

Winner of 2013 IBAS Grassroots Bursary

Sep 17, 2013

It has been announced today that an innovative grassroots project to help tackle the symptoms of asbestos disease has been awarded an IBAS bursary. The winning project is a community-based healthcare programme pioneered by Indian and UK doctors that aims to offer low tech, low cost techniques to help people with advanced asbestosis to deal with the suffering caused by breathlessness in Mumbai and Ahmedabad, well-known asbestos hotspots. Consultation and research for this project has been ongoing since 2011; an interview study is currently proceeding. The initial interview study results will be reported at a meeting in December 2013 of key stakeholders. [Read full article]

Activists Highlight Asbestos Hazard in Yin Kong

Sep 2, 2013

Members of the "No More Asbestos in Hong Kong Alliance" (the Alliance) have today reported recent actions taken to expose widespread asbestos contamination in rural areas. Following on from the disclosure of environmental contamination in Ma Tong Village earlier this year comes news of asbestos pollution in Yin Kong Village where seriously damaged asbestos-cement sheeting has been found on roofs and hoardings. Following a protest by the Alliance, the Environmental Protection Department agreed to assist the community to identify hazardous material and implement measures to minimize the public health hazard. The Alliance is also calling for a national asbestos ban. [Read full article]

Brazilian Court: Eternit to Pay!

Aug 28, 2013

The 9th Labor Court in São Paulo has ruled that Eternit, S.A. must pay the healthcare costs of workers from its flagship asbestos-cement factory in Osasco, São Paulo. The total bill appears unlimited and is dependent solely on the claims submitted by eligible workers. In addition, the Court ordered the company to pay 1 billion reais (~US$420 million) in punitive damages. As the current market value of Eternit S.A. is 853.8 million reais (US$359m), this verdict could have a huge impact on Eternit's future. News of the lawsuit, led to a drop in the company's share price. The company can appeal the judgment. [Read full article]

UK Asbestos Derogation?

Aug 28, 2013

Although a comprehensive asbestos ban was introduced in the UK in 1999, government authorities are considering plans for exemptions to EU restrictions on the sale of second-hand articles containing asbestos. A short consultation mounted this summer by the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) seems to have taken place with little advanced notice or publicity. DEFRA estimates that introducing the proposed exemptions will save Britain PLC £29 million. Clarification sought by MEP Stephen Hughes about this situation elicited an uninformative response from the European Commission on August 27, 2013. [Read full article]

The Mesothelioma Bill

Aug 20, 2013

In the last decade, the insurance industry has made several attempts to deflect responsibility for the harm their insured have caused to asbestos cancer claimants by taking a series of cases to the higher courts. The Mesothelioma Bill, which was drafted after protracted government consultation with insurers, is arguably another stratagem for minimizing compensation payouts to mesothelioma victims. Parliamentary debate about what percentage of the full award a dying man should receive, while inexorably and painfully his cancer progresses, diminishes us all. I believe society must do what is right. [Read full article]

A Debt of Honor

Aug 12, 2013

During asbestos hearings at the Brazilian Supreme Court in 2012 Judge Marco Aurélio remarked: "Half of the people in this courtroom will be very glad when you retire next year." He was addressing Senior Labor Inspector Fernanda Giannasi who had just finished her impassioned testimony to the Court. Aurélio's quip caused a ripple of laughter from Ms. Giannasi's supporters and a groan of acknowledgment from her detractors amongst whom were asbestos stakeholders from industry and the government. Today, August 12, 2013, the retirement of Ms. Giannasi has been officially announced by the Labor Ministry. The news has been greeted by an avalanche of appreciation including comments in this short tribute. [Read full article]

Small Change: British Insurers and Mesothelioma

Aug 8, 2013

For decades, Britain PLC did everything possible to avoid paying compensation to asbestos victims. In light of the fact that hundreds of millions of pounds of compensation have been retained by negligent companies and their insurers, it is really hard to view as anything other than window dressing attempts to rehabilitate the insurance industry's reputation by highly publicized initiatives that are, at best, ineffective and, at worst, insulting. Research funding for asbestos-related diseases and support for a voluntary tracing scheme for lost insurance policies promoted as evidence of the insurance industry's "commitment" to mesothelioma victims are, according to the author of this article, inadequate. [Read full article]

Polluter Pays Principle

Aug 8, 2013

Asbestos contamination remains long after asbestos factories have shut down. Airborne pollution from processing as well as the dumping of asbestos waste have endangered generations of workers and members of the public. The health hazards endure even if the companies which caused them do not. A 2011 Israeli law which upheld the polluter pays principle was challenged by Eitanit Construction Products, a company which had operated an asbestos-cement factory in northern Israel for 45 years. The appeal was dismissed by Israel's Supreme Court. This precedent is discussed in this Summer's bulletin by the Israel Environment Ministry. [Read full article]

Book Review: The Long and Winding Road to an Asbestos Free Workplace

Jul 26, 2013

Historian and author Dr. Geoffrey Tweedale's review is a detailed reflection on the contents and themes discussed by multiple authors. The text, published in Belgium in June 2013 by the European Institute for Construction Labour Research, is, he says, "the most up-to-date publication available on global asbestos [issues]." Tweedale highlights the role of asbestos victims' groups, trade unions and labor federations and outlines the time scale over which progress, often achieved in a piecemeal fashion, has been achieved. Emphasizing the consensus that "enforcement and continued vigilance" are of paramount importance, he reminds us that "the fight against asbestos continues." [Read full article]

Asbestos Issues in Colombia

Jul 24, 2013

Increasing consumption of asbestos in Colombia and the refusal by government, medical and union officials to acknowledge the human health hazard posed by asbestos constitute conditions in which the occurrence of an epidemic of asbestos-related disease has become inevitable. Government-backed housing projects and a development project in a heritage site near Cartagena are being roofed with asbestos-cement tiles despite World Bank guidelines that the use of asbestos is not recommended. Plans are also progressing to recommence asbestos mining operations in Colombia in order to fulfil national demand for chrysotile asbestos. [Read full article]

British Campaign for Asbestos Justice: Update

Jul 22, 2013

The British campaign for asbestos justice gathered momentum throughout the summer with legislative lobbying, political action and grassroots activities across the country. The annual seminar of the Parliamentary Asbestos Sub-Group on July 3 was followed days later by activities to mark Action Mesothelioma Day (AMD). The participation of American medical experts at the Westminster event was informative as well as thought-provoking; the two speakers - Mary Hesdorffer and Dr. Daniel Sterman - highlighted the more aggressive action taken in the US to mobilize for a mesothelioma cure and urged closer collaboration between US and UK researchers. [Read full article]

First Warning of Asbestos Hazard!

Jul 17, 2013

In 1906, Dr. Montague Murray alerted the British Parliament to the consequences of asbestos exposure in his testimony before the Departmental Committee on Compensation for Industrial Diseases. Describing the case of an asbestos worker, he said: "The patient was a man 33 years of age. He had been at work some 14 years, the first ten of which he was in what was called the carding room… of the 10 people who were working in the room when he went into it he was the only survivor… He said they all died somewhere around 30 years of age." See: Report of Departmental Committee on Compensation for Industrial Diseases 1906 (p127-128). [Read full article]

Prestigious Award for Professor Hans-Joachim Woitowitz

Jul 10, 2013

On May 28, 2013, the Paracelsus Medal was awarded to Professor Hans-Joachim Woitowitz, for his outstanding contribution to occupational health, his lifetime of work on asbestos research and regulation, and his unbending fight for asbestos victims and their right to compensation. The Paracelsus Medal is the highest distinction bestowed by the German Federal Medical Association, the chamber representing all 400,000 German physicians; among previous recipients are distinguished individuals such as Albert Schweitzer. As head of the influential Working Group for the Establishment of MAK Values for Dusts, he played an important role in ensuring that asbestos was banned in Germany. [Read full article]

Victims Congratulate Prof. Hans-Joachim Woitowitz

Jul 10, 2013

German asbestos victims have spoken warmly about the prestigious award given to Professor Hans-Joachim Woitowitz by the German Medical Association earlier this year. At the June 24, 2013 annual meeting of German asbestos victims groups in Hamburg, the Professor was warmly congratulated by delegates who acknowledged his long-standing commitment to the banning of asbestos and his work on behalf of victims disadvantaged by a system which unfairly bars claimants from receiving compensation. Speaking on behalf of German asbestos victims, Dr. Evelyn Glensk expressed "profound gratitude for his commitment and his tireless work for the victims of the asbestos disaster." [Read full article]

The Truth Is Out There!

Jul 8, 2013

This article has been removed from the website for legal reasons. [Read full article]

An Interpretation of "The Female Face of Britain's Asbestos Catastrophe" by Guillermo Villamizar

Jul 3, 2013

Over the last eighteen months, work has been ongoing on a digital artwork by Colombian artist Guillermo Villamizar who has sought to transform knowledge about the British asbestos tragedy into a "vehicle which could help to change life." The work was launched on July 3 at the annual Parliamentary Asbestos Seminar in Westminster in the presence of relatives of Gina Lees and Debbie Brewer, women featured in this piece. In an exclusive interview, the artist describes the genesis of his work and his future plans "to tell in visual terms, the history behind asbestos at all levels." [Read full article]

Asbestos Public Health Risks

Jun 26, 2013

In 1977 a Report prepared by Prof. R.L. Zielhuis was published by the Commission of the European Communities entitled: Public Health Risks of Exposure to Asbestos. The 160-page text considered guidelines for protecting public health from environmental asbestos exposures which were, it was stated, capable of causing asbestos cancer. It was recommended that steps be taken at the EEC and national levels to minimize such harmful exposures which included the reduction of environmental asbestos contamination and support for the development of asbestos-free substitutes. "If at all practicable the sale of raw asbestos fibres to the general public should be forbidden." [Read full article]

Mesothelioma: The British Disease

Jun 21, 2013

By the end of 2013, more than 60,000 Britons will have died from asbestos-related diseases this century. Government data reveal an inexorable rise of mesothelioma mortality since 2000, with 2,347 deaths reported in 2010. Data from the World Health Organization (WHO) confirms the validity of labelling mesothelioma the "British disease." According to WHO statistics, between 1994 and 2008 "the United Kingdom had the highest age-adjusted [mesothelioma] mortality rate, at 17.8 per million…" During this period there were 13,517 UK deaths from mesothelioma; only the US, with a population of 316 million, recorded more mesothelioma deaths. [Read full article]

The Battle over Asbestos in Thailand

Jun 21, 2013

Despite a commitment made in 2011 by the Thai Government to prohibit the import, use and sale of asbestos and asbestos products, legislation to enact a ban is yet to be adopted. Developments this week reveal that government departments remain divided over the future use of asbestos in Thailand. The Ministry of Industry, which has led the resistance to the ban, has signalled its support for a "compromise" proposal which would, in effect, allow the status quo to continue. The current position of the Ministry of Health remains unclear. Next week the Cabinet will consider submissions from both departments. [Read full article]

Report from the Asbestos Frontline: 2013

Jun 17, 2013

A paper presented on June 14, 2013 at a legal conference in Doncaster reviewed the progress which has been made in the last year in the global campaign to ban asbestos and obtain justice for the injured. Recurrent themes were discussed within a framework which highlighted developments that took place during the preceding week. Emerging trends discussed during this presentation included the transition of leadership of the global asbestos campaign from Canadian to Russian stakeholders, deadlines imposed for the asbestos decontamination of the EU and Australia, and high-profile asbestos hearings in Latin America, Europe and Australia. [Read full article]

Asbestos Industry Collusion over Labelling

Jun 12, 2013

A fascinating insight into the internal dynamics of the global asbestos industry is revealed by a 42-page file of archival documents. From letters, internal memos and other texts written between 1968 and 1977, we can deduce the tension generated by the plans of American asbestos producers to place warning label on bags of raw asbestos fiber. The language on the label was watered down in an attempt to placate European companies which strenuously objected to any form of labelling. The correspondents in this file include employees from Johns-Manville, Turner & Newall and the Asbestos Corporation Limited. [Read full article]

Growth of Asian Asbestos Markets

Jun 8, 2013

Data released this week substantiate allegations that when it comes to asbestos there is no such thing as equality. While developed countries have banned or reduced their use of this acknowledged carcinogen, consumption continues to increase in Asia. In 2011, Asian countries used 1,319,702 tonnes (t) of asbestos; the figure for 2012 has increased by 6% to 1,395,628t with Asia accounting for a whopping 71% of all global consumption (in 2011 this figure was 63%). Within the region there are different national patterns of consumption with some countries significantly increasing consumption and others substantially reducing usage. [Read full article]

Children and Asbestos: A Bad Mix!

Jun 7, 2013

Today (June 7, 2013), the UK's Committee on Carcinogenicity (CoC) issued its findings on the relative vulnerability of children to asbestos. By unanimous agreement it was decided that the mesothelioma risk for children is higher because they have more time available to develop this latent asbestos disease. The CoC agreed that a five-year old is 5.3 times more likely to develop mesothelioma by the age of 80 than a 30-year old. In the CoC's final statement they say: "we conclude that exposure of children to asbestos is likely to render them more vulnerable to developing mesothelioma than exposure of adults to an equivalent asbestos dose." [Read full article]

2013 Appeal Verdict in the Great Asbestos Trial

Jun 3, 2013

Today (June 3, 2013) in Turin the Appeal Court upheld a 2012 landmark asbestos verdict and upped the prison sentence handed out to Swiss billionaire Stephan Schmidheiny from 16 to 18 years! Defendants Stephan Schmidheiny and Baron Louis de Cartier de Marchienne had appealed guilty verdicts they received for their parts in the asbestos deaths of thousands of Italians. The death of the Belgian Baron vacated the criminal case against him and Etex, the company of which he had been a director. However, the case against Schmidheiny and the Swiss Eternit Group proceeded. [Read full article]

Belgium's Asbestos Killing Fields

May 23, 2013

This week the demise of Belgian asbestos Baron Louis de Cartier de Marchienne was announced. According to press reports, he passed away peacefully, a fate not shared by many of those condemned by his actions to early and painful deaths. Marchienne was one of two former Eternit directors found guilty in 2012 for contributing to the asbestos epidemic which killed thousands of Italians. Closer to home, the scale of Belgium's asbestos tragedy is only now beginning to emerge thanks to the efforts of the asbestos victims' group, ABEVA, which last week revealed an asbestos death map showing the location in Eternit towns of 320+ victims. [Read full article]

Rotterdam Convention 2013 - an Activist's Diary

May 21, 2013

Earlier this month (May 6-10, 2013), I was part of a group of civil society representatives who were accorded observer status at the 6th Conference of the Parties (COP6) to the Rotterdam Convention. The substantive developments I witnessed during that time were summarized in a series of frontline reports written in Geneva under difficult conditions. The more expansive illustrated text in this article aims to highlight the input and experiences of civil society activists at COP6 with a particular emphasis on the participation and views of individuals involved in global action on asbestos. [Read full article]

Rotterdam Convention 2013: Dossier of Daily Reports

May 21, 2013

This file contains a series of contemporaneous reports written during the 6th Conference of the Parties to the Rotterdam Convention which took place from May 7 to 10, 2013 in Geneva. The contents of these articles detail an orchestrated putsch by asbestos stakeholder governments, in conjunction with their industry counterparts, to block the listing of chrysotile asbestos in Annex III of the Convention and to disrupt proceedings at which civil society campaigners attempted to disseminate an alternative message; one which highlighted the humanitarian and environmental catastrophes which have been caused by the commercial exploitation of asbestos. [Read full article]

Ready, Steady, Go

May 7, 2013

Fund-raising efforts by the Asbestos Diseases Society of Australia (ADSA) yielded more than $100,000 for Australian researchers in 2012. These donations were generated by the Society's inaugural Charity Walk for Wittenoom Children in May and a golfing competition in October. This year the ADSA community aims to raise even more research dollars for projects targeting deadly asbestos diseases such as malignant pleural and peritoneal mesothelioma. On May 12, dozens of ADSA volunteers will gather in Dunsborough to prepare for the Monday start to this year's walk. Public support at home and abroad is urgently requested. [Read full article]

Global Appeal to Brazilian President

May 3, 2013

From all corners of the globe, requests are arriving on the desk of Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff. They come from people with first-hand experience of the humanitarian catastrophe caused by exposure to asbestos. Although the contents of these messages are in different languages, their request is the same: Brazil should support UN action to regulate the global trade in asbestos. Brazil has announced it will abstain during a crucial vote at the Conference of the Parties to the Rotterdam Convention next week. Civil society at home and abroad is urging President Rousseff to prioritize human health over Brazilian exports. [Read full article]

Turkey Marks International Workers Memorial Day

May 2, 2013

April 28, 2013 was the occasion for Turkish activists and victims to mark International Workers Memorial Day. A public demonstration, street rally and workshop were held to highlight the price paid by Turkish workers for their employers' negligence. As part of the activities, the first public workshop on asbestos took place at the Turkish Medical Association. Speakers at this session highlighted the lack of government engagement with the asbestos issue; this is revealed by a total lack of information on the incidence of asbestos disease, the presence of asbestos products within the built environment and the location of asbestos dump sites. [Read full article]

Activists Challenge Russian Asbestos Stakeholders

Apr 26, 2013

The world's first demonstration denouncing Russia's asbestos policy took place in London earlier today in the run-up to International Workers' Memorial Day. With bells, whistles, a megaphone, masks, hazmat suits and banners the protest was a colourful and vibrant affair. The good-natured event drew attention to the global impact of Russia's asbestos industry. "Selling deadly asbestos to people in developing countries is," one speaker said, "an abomination." Russia, the world' biggest supplier of chrysotile asbestos, is now the focus of activities by ban asbestos activists determined to outlaw the production, use and sale of asbestos. [Read full article]

The Rotterdam Convention 2013

Apr 18, 2013

From April 28 to May 10, 2013, the Sixth Conference of the Parties (COP6) to the Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade will take place in Geneva. For the fourth time, a recommendation will be tabled that chrysotile asbestos be included in a designated list of hazardous chemicals (Annex III) which are subject to a legally enforceable right-to-know regime. The background to this recommendation, the forces which are engaged by this debate and the possible outcome of the upcoming meeting are examined in this article. [Read full article]

Asbestos Life and Death in Australia

Apr 15, 2013

A series of events transpired last month which highlighted the asbestos tragedy unfolding in Australia, a country which embraced the use of asbestos for over 50 years. As news was released in Perth of the asbestos cancer contracted by Ernie Bridge, a much-loved political figure, in Canberra, the formation of the Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency was being announced. The Agency will coordinate a National Strategic Plan designed to "minimise exposure to asbestos fibres, in order to eliminate asbestos-related disease in Australia." A deadline of 2030 has been set for the removal of asbestos from all government and public buildings. [Read full article]

International Workers Memorial Day 2013

Apr 10, 2013

With more than 100,000 occupational deaths from asbestos-related diseases every year, it is little wonder that the call to ban asbestos has featured prominently in global activities on International Workers' Memorial Day (IWMD), April 28. Two years ago, the Manila-based Institute for Occupational Health and Safety Development's Asbestos Street Fighters Street Art Competition generated a high degree of public awareness of the asbestos hazard. This year an Italian coalition of campaigning groups is poised to launch a striking series of images for IWMD to ensure that the asbestos hazard remains a priority issue on the political agenda. [Read full article]

Launch of Italian Asbestos Plan

Apr 10, 2013

In response to a public health emergency, the Italian Government has launched a National Asbestos Plan. Tens of millions of euros have been provided for medical, epidemiological, clinical, environmental and technical research to address the consequences of asbestos contamination. Work is proceeding on new diagnostic and treatment protocols for patients with malignant mesothelioma. Experts from the University of Alexandria and the University of Turin are collaborating on plans to create an organizational model to provide a continuum of care for the injured. Research on risk assessment, health surveillance, genetic susceptibility and the efficacy of biomarkers is also being progressed. [Read full article]

Civic Reception for Liverpool Group

Apr 8, 2013

Snow flurries did not deter supporters of the Merseyside Asbestos Victims Support Group (MAVSG) from turning out on March 22, 2013 to commemorate the Group's 20th anniversary in the presence of local dignitaries at Liverpool Town Hall. The MAVSG started life as the Liverpool and District Victims of Asbestos Support Group in March 1993 when a small group of local campaigners met to formulate a response to Liverpool's growing asbestos tragedy. Since then, the Group has worked with UK and international colleagues to improve conditions for victims and to campaign for an end to asbestos use around the world. [Read full article]

Asbestos and Women's Health Reflections on International Women's Day

Mar 9, 2013

Ever since the commercial exploitation of asbestos began, the disastrous impact of hazardous exposures on female health has led to an epidemic of asbestos-related disease and death. On Women's Day 2013, the consequences of these exposures for female workers, relatives and members of the public in the UK and abroad are explored. Mentioned in the context of this discussion are British women whose names have become synonymous with the national asbestos scandal including Nellie Kershaw, Nora Dockerty, June Hancock and Gina Lees. The fate of female victims from Brazil, Korea and Japan is also considered. [Read full article]

What is going on in Kazakhstan?

Mar 7, 2013

According to the most recently released data on global asbestos trends, in 2011 national asbestos consumption was highest in: China (637,735 tonnes), India (321,803 tonnes), Russia (251,427 tonnes), Brazil (185,332 tonnes) and Kazakhstan (155,166 tonnes). Nothing extraordinary about this, is there? Well, yes there is. Taking a more in-depth look at the figures for Kazakhstan, a startling situation is revealed: per capita, Kazakhstan uses twice as much asbestos as Sri Lanka and Russia, the second and third highest per capita asbestos users in the world. The implications of this finding are discussed in this article. [Read full article]

Merseyside Asbestos Victims Support Group

Mar 7, 2013

The 20th anniversary of the Merseyside Asbestos Victims Support Group (MAVSG), formerly known as the Liverpool and District Victims of Asbestos Support Group, has been commemorated by a feature in the current issue of the British Asbestos Newsletter. The article quotes long-time health and safety campaigner Rory O'Neill who says: "MAVSG has been crucial in supporting the local community and in securing improved rights and treatment for asbestos victims nationwide." Other commentators describe how MAVSG works locally, nationally and globally to support asbestos victims and lobbies for improved medical treatments and access to financial support for the injured. [Read full article]

Russia's Olympic Asbestos Policy

Mar 1, 2013

Russia, the world's leading producer of asbestos, is a year away from holding the XXII Winter Olympic Games. Despite extensive press coverage of the ongoing preparations, no one was willing to speak openly about whether or not asbestos is being incorporated into the Olympic infrastructure. An enquiry by IBAS has revealed that the use of asbestos has been banned by official government policy enshrined in The Green Standards. If this is so, then it marks a historic precedent for a country which advocates asbestos use the world over. The situation in Brazil, another major asbestos producer, regarding the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympics is also discussed. [Read full article]

First Conference of Asbestos Information Bodies

Feb 26, 2013

The First International Conference of Asbestos Information Bodies took place in London in 1971. A relatively small attendance belied the importance of this meeting as shown by a report, obtained through the discovery process, recently uploaded to the IBAS website. Presentations made during the conference laid the groundwork for a global propaganda campaign which was to bring so much success to asbestos shareholders in the later part of the 20th century and so much death to people exposed to asbestos at work or at home. Anyone interesting in understanding how a known carcinogen can be sold and used in the 21st century, would be well advised to read this report. [Read full article]

Report from the Asbestos Frontline 2013

Feb 26, 2013

Last week, 143 scientists and organizations from around the world vehemently condemned efforts by an asbestos lobbying group - the International Chrysotile Association - to derail plans to ban asbestos in Pakistan. Research has also documented aggressive moves by industry stakeholders in Peru, where an October 2013 deadline had been set to ban the use of chrysotile asbestos. A document uploaded to the internet for the first time by IBAS reveals that the current measures being pursued and the defense strategy being wielded to protect global asbestos markets were devised over 40 years ago when representatives of the asbestos industry met in London. [Read full article]

Fire at Asbestos Factory: Public Concerns

Feb 19, 2013

At 3 a.m. on Friday Feb. 15, a fire broke out at the old Turner & Newall asbestos factory in Rochdale. The building most affected by the blaze had for decades been at the center of asbestos textile manufacturing operations at the plant. For this reason, it is thought that asbestos contamination in this section was likely to have been elevated. A local group - Save Spodden Valley (SSV) - has been campaigning for proper remediation of this 72-acre site for several years. A SSV press release raises a number of serious concerns regarding public health ramifications of the fire. Another Rochdale Group backing calls for full disclosure will tonight hold an emergency meeting to discuss future actions. [Read full article]

Action on Asbestos Contamination

Feb 11, 2013

The Association for the Rights of Industrial Accident Victims (ARIAV), a Hong Kong-based NGO, has been campaigning on asbestos issues for over 20 years. Since the beginning of this year, they have: reported on the illegal dumping of asbestos waste in rural areas; highlighted unsafe asbestos removal working practices in Hong Kong; engaged in discussions with personnel from the Environmental Protection Department; and raised asbestos awareness in the construction sector amongst people working with asbestos fireproof carpets. An ARIAV report on these activities is informative. [Read full article]

French Asbestos Travesty

Feb 11, 2013

On February 8, 2013, the Paris Court of Appeal dismissed the criminal case against Claude Chopin, the owner of a company which operated an asbestos textile factory in the town of Clermont-Ferrand. Chopin had been indicted in 1999 on charges of poisoning and murder. The Court of Appeal decision found that as it was not possible to establish that the hazardous exposures which resulted in the asbestos diseases suffered by the claimants took place whilst Chopin was in charge; there is "no prima facie case." The asbestos claimants and their legal representatives are appalled at this decision and vow to continue the campaign for asbestos justice, a campaign which began in 1974. [Read full article]

Europe to Enter Post-Asbestos Era?

Feb 7, 2013

Despite the progress represented by the 1999 EU directive outlawing asbestos use, the fact that regulations allowed derogations to persist was, critics said, unacceptable. Under EU law the use of chrysotile asbestos was permitted for existing electrolysis installations in chlorine production facilities. Deadlines for reviewing this exemption came and went and still no action was taken. By June 1, 2011, Member States were mandated to report the status quo related to the derogation in their countries to the Commission. A letter written by European Commissioners on Jan. 18, 2013 may provide grounds for optimism regarding the end of this exemption. [Read full article]

The Lancet Highlights IARC Controversy

Feb 1, 2013

Towards the end of last year (2012), disturbing reports were circulating about a controversial research initiative mounted by personnel from the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) and Russian scientists with proven links to asbestos vested interests. An investigation by The Lancet, published today (February 1, 2013) provides information about this problematic research project and reveals that discussions regarding this project began at about the same time that the Russian Federation agreed to resume financial contributions to IARC. A series of recent occurrences beneficial to the asbestos lobby is discussed. [Read full article]

Eternit and the Great Asbestos Trial: Appeal Proceedings

Jan 31, 2013

Further Hearings will commence on February 14, 2013 in the case which has become known as the "Great Asbestos Trial." Hundreds of pages of legal argument submitted to the Turin Court challenge first degree guilty verdicts handed down one year ago by a three-judge panel to defendants Stephan Schmidheiny and Baron Louis de Cartier. Neither one of the former asbestos executives, both of whom were convicted for their part in the causation of an Italian asbestos disaster, has complied with court orders to pay compensation to thousands of victims, associations, municipal authorities and civic bodies. [Read full article]

Indian Citizens Reject Asbestos

Jan 28, 2013

India is awash with asbestos. For over a decade, India has been the world's leading asbestos importer. It has been estimated that since 1960, India has used around 7 million tonnes of asbestos; consumption over the last five years has averaged nearly 350,000 tonnes/year. In the rush for economic growth, Indian citizens have had scant opportunity to comment on or influence development plans by asbestos companies. Recent events in the Indian State of Bihar show that citizens and grassroots groups are mobilizing to express their opposition to the construction of asbestos plants in their backyards. [Read full article]

Charting the Changing Pattern of Asbestos Production and Use 1950-2012

Jan 22, 2013

A global double standard on asbestos exists in the 21st century; even as developed nations have banned or seriously restricted its use, demand in some industrializing countries remains strong. A recent analysis of data documenting the global asbestos trade reveals significant trends in output and demand over the last sixty years. Included in this article are a number of charts and maps which illustrate the changes which have taken place; they are now available for general use and may be copied from this article or from a new graphics page we are developing, where additional formats and higher resolution maps are available. [Read full article]

Thailand's Asbestos Status Quo: 2013

Jan 8, 2013

The ban asbestos controversy continues to rage in Thailand. Despite a government commitment to prohibit the import, use and sale of asbestos and asbestos products which was made in 2011, no legislation has yet been enacted to implement this decision. During the last week of 2012, civil society representatives participated in a ministerial meeting at which industry spokesmen alleged that asbestos-free roofing tiles are unaffordable for the vast majority of Thai citizens. The price differential has been greatly exaggerated according to an article in the Bangkok Post which states that safer products are only 2-5% more expensive. [Read full article]

Global Asbestos Congress 2004: Eight Years On

Jan 2, 2013

The anniversary of the landmark Global Asbestos Congress 2004 (GAC 2004) proved the perfect opportunity for a fact-finding trip to see what has changed for Japanese asbestos victims over recent years. At meetings with GAC personnel, asbestos victims' campaigners, medical experts and trade union activists it became clear that while progress has been made, the asbestos hazard remains an imminent threat. The occurrence of two earthquakes during my visit highlighted the ongoing risk from asbestos products contained within the national infrastructure. A deadline for the removal of asbestos from Japan must be made a national priority. [Read full article]

The Controversy which is John Corbett McDonald

Jan 2, 2013

Next week, in the hallowed halls of McGill University, a showdown will take place between academics with divergent views on the reputation, ethics and research of Emeritus Professor John Corbett McDonald. Dr. Bruce Case, an Associate Professor at McGill and a colleague of McDonald's, will hold an epidemiology seminar from 4:00-5:00 p.m. on January 7. Fifteen minutes afterwards a counter-conference, which will be addressed by long-time McDonald critic Dr. David Egilman and Dr. Fernand Turcotte, Emeritus Professor from Laval University, will commence to present "critical information regarding McGill's asbestos research and 'investigation malfeasance.'" [Read full article]

The Rachel Lee Jung-Lim Award

Dec 20, 2012

December 21, 2012 will mark the first anniversary of the death of Rachel Lee Jung-Lim, a gentle soul and a dedicated ban asbestos campaigner. Rachel's life was brutally ended at the age of 45, when she died of mesothelioma; this deadly cancer was contracted through environmental exposure to asbestos generated by a factory near which Rachel had lived as a child in South Korea. In remembrance of Rachel, a program entitled "2012 Victim's Voice for Environmental Justice" is being held in Seoul on December 21, during which the first Rachel Lee Jung-Lim Award will be presented. [Read full article]

Christmas Insult to Dying Victims

Dec 19, 2012

One week before Christmas, the UK Government announced proposals to reform the mesothelioma claims process. The scheme, which has been judged "not fit for purpose," by victims' representatives, will introduce "fixed legal fees for mesothelioma claims; a dedicated pre-action protocol for those claims and an electronic portal on which the claims will be registered." The government's stated aim is to settle these claims "as quickly as possible." There is little doubt, however, that the true motivation behind this scheme is the curtailment of the asbestos liabilities of UK insurers, major Conservative Party donors. [Read full article]

Litigation-Driven Research - Deposition of Georgia-Pacific Executive

Dec 13, 2012

A deposition taken last year (2011) contains a great deal of information on strategies used by vested interests to influence the scientific debate on asbestos. Some sections of the 336-page transcript of the deposition relate to "litigation-driven research" undertaken by toxicologist David Bernstein, a U.S. born Swiss resident, for Georgia-Pacific LLC, a major defendant in U.S. asbestos litigation. As the person being deposed, Stewart Holm, was the Director of Toxicology and Chemical Management at Georgia-Pacific LLC his answers reveal a great deal about his company's tactics. [Read full article]

India's Wayward Asbestos Policy

Dec 11, 2012

India's ongoing love affair with asbestos shows no signs of abating. In the last five years, annual consumption has averaged 347,877 tonnes, making India the world's most important export market for asbestos. In the last twenty years India has consumed more than four million tonnes. Recent developments suggest that Indian politicians and military leaders are not only willing to ignore international warnings about the hazards posed by exposing human beings to asbestos but are prepared to contravene international regulations prohibiting its use. [Read full article]

Asbestos and Lung Cancer

Dec 10, 2012

Medical and legal historians have long been aware of the early recognition by German authorities of the link between asbestos exposure and lung cancer. In a seminal 1955 paper by Richard Doll, research by German scientists into this link is acknowledged and a 1941 paper by pathologists A. Sorge and M. Nordmann from the University of Hanover is referenced. On January 29, 1943 a German ordinance declared that asbestosis in combination with lung cancer was a compensable disease; this was the first time any government had acknowledged the link between asbestos and lung cancer. [Read full article]

Brazil: Asbestos Producer, User, Exporter

Dec 4, 2012

Brazil is one of the few countries around the world which is still producing, using and exporting asbestos. An analysis of Brazilian asbestos data undertaken for the 2012 meeting of the Asian Ban Asbestos Network revealed some interesting long-term and short-term trends in mining output, national usage and export levels. In former times, the terms and content of the nation's asbestos debate had been dictated by industry lobbyists. The formation of the national association of asbestos victims has transformed the public dialogue on asbestos to such an extent that it is possible that asbestos will be banned in Brazil in the near future. [Read full article]

Report from the Asbestos Frontline 2012

Nov 30, 2012

In the last sixty years, Thailand has used more than four million tons of asbestos. Consumption figures for the last four years show an increase of 17% in national usage, making Thailand the 4th biggest consumer of chrysotile asbestos in Asia. It was therefore appropriate that Bangkok was chosen as the venue for a series of activities on November 19 and 20 by members of the Asian Ban Asbestos Network and the Thailand Ban Asbestos Network. During conference sessions, a press conference, meetings and protests, ban asbestos activists called for asbestos to be banned throughout Asia. [Read full article]

Tribute to Simon Pickvance

Nov 28, 2012

Our esteemed colleague Simon Pickvance died on November 23, 2012 from the deadly asbestos cancer, mesothelioma. For decades Simon had been at the centre of the campaign for workers' safety in Britain and abroad; he was a researcher, a grassroots activist, a mentor and a friend. He was also a presence, always there, always working to expose the links between hazardous exposures and occupational diseases. Simon was a man of honor, integrity and keen intelligence whose life was dedicated to the service of others. He was much admired and greatly loved. His death is a great loss. [Read full article]

What's Going on at IARC?

Nov 16, 2012

The announcement that a representative of the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) would be taking part in a Ukraine asbestos conference has set off an avalanche of criticism. In a letter to IARC, UK trade union activist Bill Lawrence asked whether the organization is aware of the potential fall-out an IARC presence at an event about which there is so much suspicion could have on the organization's reputation. A reply he received from Dr. Joachim Schuz, IARC's Head of Environment and Radiation, has done little to quell the doubts which have arisen. [Read full article]

Asbestos is Everywhere!

Nov 14, 2012

Since 1920, 195+ million tonnes of asbestos have been used worldwide. It should therefore come as no surprise to find asbestos-containing products in unexpected nooks and crannies but even I, who have been studying the asbestos hazard for more than twenty-five years, had never really thought about asbestos contamination in the Antarctic. Fortunately for the people working at Australian stations in the East Antarctic Territory and for the people in Tasmania, Senator Lisa Singh is monitoring the situation. Recent Parliamentary exchanges with an Australian Antarctic expert are informative. [Read full article]

Chrysotile Industry Counteroffensive 2012

Nov 11, 2012

In 2011, Russia became a signatory to the Rotterdam Convention. This means that at the 2013 Conference of the Parties it will no doubt be the Russian delegate who will be replacing the Canadian delegate in blocking the listing of chrysotile asbestos on Annex III. In an attempt to position this action as valid, the Russians are mounting a "scientific" conference in Ukraine on November 21-22, 2012 entitled: "Chrysotile Asbestos: Risk Assessment and Management." IBAS has obtained an invitation document and the conference agenda; neither inspires confidence in the quality and depth of discussions likely to take place in Kiev. [Read full article]

Literature Update

Nov 11, 2012

No matter how much the asbestos bullies rant and rave, and trust me they are doing plenty of both, there is no doubt about the irreparable harm done by asbestos exposure to human beings. Four papers published in the last few months document various aspects of the asbestos hazard and add to the encyclopedic knowledge regarding the dreadful price paid by human beings for the profits of asbestos entrepreneurs. The American, French, Thai and Chinese authors of these papers call for asbestos to be banned and asbestos-free materials to be promoted in order to protect both occupational and public health. [Read full article]

Conference: Europe's Asbestos Catastrophe

Nov 9, 2012

Throughout the 20th century, European nations were major producers and consumers of asbestos; as a result hundreds of thousands of lives have been lost to asbestos-related diseases. To quantify the current situation in European Union Member States, accession and candidate countries, representatives from 22 countries took part in a two-day conference in Brussels in September 2012 entitled: Europe's Asbestos Catastrophe. A detailed report compiled for the IBAS website summarizes conference presentations, the discussions which took place and the strategies which were progressed; links to conference presentations and documents are provided. [Read full article]

Dr. Hubert Montague Murray

Nov 2, 2012

On November 25, 2012 it will be 105 years since Dr. Montague Murray died. Dr. Murray is one of the most famous names in the history of asbestos-related diseases for it was Dr. Murray who presented the first evidence to Parliament about the occupational consequences of asbestos exposure. Thanks to a document received from Dr. Morris Greenberg we are able to reveal a picture of this great man along with the obituary written by his colleagues from The Charing Cross Hospital. It is sad to reflect that Dr. Murray died in 1907, one year after he notified the authorities about the asbestos hazard. [Read full article]

Impressions of a Judicial Impasse

Nov 1, 2012

What had promised so much, in the end, delivered little. After years of litigation, procedural processes and hearings regarding the constitutionally of Brazilian state asbestos bans, on October 31, 2012 the Supreme Court was due to give its decision. Expectations were high and the media focus intense in a country with the second highest asbestos exports in the world. On the day, the Court ran out of time after only two votes had been cast. Amidst the speculation with surrounded the day's events, concern is rife about the impact a long delay will have on the outcome of the litigation. [Read full article]

Final Asbestos Showdown in Brasilia?

Oct 30, 2012

On October 31, 2012, Brazil's Supreme Court will once again become an asbestos battlefield. The good guys will argue that as the Brazilian Constitution acknowledges a citizen's right to life, health and the dignity of labor, it cannot also permit the use of asbestos, a known carcinogen. The bad guys will argue that the São Paulo law banning asbestos is unconstitutional as it countermands the federal policy which allows asbestos to be used under controlled conditions. Who will win? Watch this space. [Read full article]

Thailand's Asbestos Ban?

Oct 27, 2012

Soothsayers and clairvoyants predict the future using tea leaves, crystal balls and tarot cards. It doesn't, however, take a fortune teller to see that Thailand's asbestos industry is doomed. In recent months, international as well as national developments have sealed the fate of this discredited and backward-looking industry. After September's Quebec election, the new Government pulled the plug on plans to develop new asbestos mining operations. The 2nd biggest investor in this project was Ulan Marketing Co. Ltd., a Thai corporation. News from Thailand was equally bleak for industry stakeholders with increasing political and civil society support for a national ban. [Read full article]

Indonesia Mobilization on Asbestos

Oct 23, 2012

September 2012 was a productive month for the ban asbestos movement in Indonesia. There were a number of activities by the Local Initiative for OSH Rights and Social Network (LION), as well as other institutions in the Indonesian Ban Asbestos Network (Ina-Ban). As well as continuing outreach efforts to raise asbestos awareness at a local street market in Bandung, the campaigners reported the results of medical tests, sent to Korea for examination, to workers from the PT Trigraha asbestos factory in Cibinong. Unfortunately, three of the five people tested have been diagnosed with asbestosis. [Read full article]

2012 Overview of Asbestos Status Quo

Oct 22, 2012

Since 2000, the number of national asbestos bans has trebled from 18 to 54. The fact that asbestos has been prohibited by countries on six continents is significant. What is of equal importance, however, is the reduction in the number of countries using asbestos. In recent years, the number of consuming nations, defined as using more than 500 tonnes/year, has dropped from 66 to 35. This means that only 18% of countries continue to use significant quantities of this carcinogenic substance while 82% do not. It is also quite usual for countries to stop importing and using asbestos without necessarily enacting legislation making such practices mandatory. [Read full article]

A Canadian Pilgrimage

Oct 19, 2012

Eric Jonckheere, a Belgian ban asbestos activist, recently undertook a trip to Canada to confront the mine which had produced the mineral that had killed his Father, Mother and two brothers. Naturally, this was a trip tinged with emotion but, as Eric explains in this article, it was also a time to reflect on Québec's industrial history and to explore ways that the province might proceed towards a better and safer future not only for its inhabitants but for people the world over whose lives had been tainted by exposure to Québec's asbestos. [Read full article]

Storming the Asbestos Barricades

Oct 18, 2012

On October 12 & 13, 2012, Paris became the focal point of the international campaign for an asbestos-free world. Representatives of asbestos victims' groups, campaigning bodies and associations involved in the struggle to end the global use of asbestos in 20+ countries converged on the French capital at the invitation of Andeva, the French umbrella group representing scores of local victims' associations. At the heart of the Paris mobilization was the conference "The International Day of Asbestos Victims." A roundtable discussion session, a demonstration and a public rally were also part of the week's asbestos mobilization in France. [Read full article]

Fund-raising on the Golf Course

Oct 16, 2012

The Asbestos Diseases Society of Australia (ADSA) held a competition this week to raise money for medical research of asbestos-related lung cancers. The tournament took place on Sunday, October 14, 2012 at the Meadow Springs Golf and Country Club and attracted the participation of a number of teams from the Perth area. The event raised a grand total of $30,000 which has been donated to Professor Jenette Creaney, a leading researcher based in Western Australia. Well done to all the golfers who took part and the ADSA staff who facilitated the latest event! [Read full article]

Mesothelioma in an English Village

Oct 8, 2012

For people whose lives have been derailed by a diagnosis of mesothelioma, even the briefest of social outings can become burdensome. The role played by victims' support groups is invaluable for patients and family members. Group meetings provide the opportuntity to spend time with others similarly affected in a convivial and normal atmosphere. A meeting in Cambridgeshire on October 5 reminded me of just how important these groups are to the morale and well-being of those affected. With talk of future meetings, outings and Christmas lunch this institution provides a lifeline to people whose own futures are none too certain. [Read full article]

Asbestos in Colombia

Oct 2, 2012

While a few countries in Latin America have banned asbestos and others have begun a debate about the hazard posed by using a known carcinogen, in Colombia there seems to be a complete lack of awareness about the dangers of asbestos. With national consumption increasing in recent years and talk of reopening a derelict asbestos mine, the national asbestos agenda seems to be tightly controlled by vested interests. It is no surprise to find the name of Eternit amongst the roster of Colombian asbestos stakeholders. Wherever Eternit's asbestos operations have been, asbestos-related disease will follow. [Read full article]

Reaching out to Canada's Asbestos Victims

Sep 28, 2012

In the aftermath of recent announcements by the Governments in Quebec and Ottawa which seem to signal the demise of Canada's asbestos industry, ban asbestos campaigners and asbestos victims around the world have expressed support for workers, victims and communities throughout Canada. European activists, Eric Jonckheere and Alain Bobbio, are in Canada this week for meetings with asbestos victims, grass-roots campaigners and representatives of civil society. Issues under discussion include reparations, decontamination and just transition. The Europeans are calling for a total asbestos ban as well as government action to support the victims and mining communities. [Read full article]

Asbestos Victim Honored in Belgium

Sep 23, 2012

A lawsuit brought on behalf of asbestos victim Françoise Jonckheere against Eternit won first prize at the Solidarity Festival in Belgium on September 22. The award was accepted by Eric Jonckheere, one of Francoise's three surviving sons, who said: "Eternit tried to buy my Mother's silence. She would not be bought. She was determined to hold the company to account for what it had done to her, my Father and so many others in our home town of Kapelle-op-den-Bos. We hope that as a result of the verdict others will be able to obtain justice from Eternit." [Read full article]

EU Reacts to Quebec Asbestos Loan

Sep 21, 2012

A statement published by the European Commission confirms the Commission's awareness of and concern regarding a multimillion dollar loan promised to international developers of a new asbestos mining facility in Canada. Since the September 4, 2012 election of a new Quebec Government, the loan has been in limbo as the incoming Premier Pauline Marois has promised to revoke government support for the asbestos industry. Should this election promise not be met, it is possible that Europe will take action at the World Trade Organization over the unfair advantage bestowed upon the asbestos industry by the government subsidy. [Read full article]

Asbestos Issues at Heart of European Debate

Sep 20, 2012

This week the humanitarian and environmental disaster caused by Europe's use of asbestos took center-stage at a series of meetings attended by 150 delegates in Brussels, the de facto capital of the European Union. On September 17 & 18, a conference entitled "Europe's Asbestos Catastrophe: Supporting Victims, Preventing Future Tragedy" was held at the headquarters of the European Trade Union Confederation. This was followed by a workshop to begin work on a European Charter for Asbestos Victims. September 18th culminated with an asbestos hearing before the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs of the European Parliament. [Read full article]

Canada: No More Asbestos!

Sep 16, 2012

The asbestos era in Canada is over. After more than a 100 years of production, Canada has run out of chrysotile asbestos. Efforts to develop a new underground facility at the Jeffrey Chrysotile Mine have collapsed this month amidst a change in government and increasing public pressure. The September defeat of the pro-asbestos Charest Government in the Quebec elections was the final nail in the coffin. Last Friday, the Canadian Government declared that it too was turning its back on the country's asbestos past when it was announced that Canada would cooperate with UN efforts to regulate the global trade in asbestos. [Read full article]

Workshop: Elimination of Asbestos-related Diseases in Russia

Sep 11, 2012

Asbestos production and use is important for the Volgograd region where several asbestos manufacturing facilities are located. Projects implemented by NGOs in the region confirmed a lack of access to information about the asbestos threat, lack of data on health effects, and low levels of protective measures in the use of asbestos-containing materials. Following a number of initiatives implemented since 2008, a new project has been launched focused mainly on elimination of asbestos-related diseases and meeting the requirements of new industrial hygiene regulations. The workshop described in this report was designed to establish a framework for this new project. [Read full article]

Brazilian Trade Union Supports Asbestos Ban

Sep 4, 2012

CUT, the biggest Brazilian trade union, has taken a frontline position in the fight to ban asbestos. Last month CUT released a statement supporting a Brazilian asbestos ban as a "matter of public health and human rights." Keeping up the momentum, on August 30, the evening before the second day of asbestos hearings at the Supreme Court, CUT held a book launch of a monograph on Eternit centered on the fight for justice undertaken and won by Italians exposed to Eternit asbestos. The newly published edition is a Portuguese translation of the IBAS publication: Eternit & The Great Asbestos Trial. [Read full article]

A Perfect Day

Sep 3, 2012

Events which took place during the second day of asbestos hearings at Brazil's Supreme Court set off a rollercoaster of emotions amongst ban asbestos campaigners who had journeyed to the capital to observe developments. The court procedures, judicial protocol and evidence submitted by pro and anti-ban asbestos witnesses are described in this article. Heroes of the day are named amongst whom is the Brazilian Prosecutor Mario Gisi whose comments demonstrated a keen understanding of the issues involved. Gisi was highly critical of the remarkable lack of environmental and social commitment shown by Brazilian asbestos stakeholders. [Read full article]

August Onslaught on Asbestos Industry

Aug 28, 2012

This week we are seeing the confluence of decades of capacity building in the struggle to ban asbestos around the world. For the first time, ban asbestos campaigners are operating simultaneously in three of the world's major asbestos-producing countries. The urgent need to eliminate the use of asbestos is being been considered at high-profile meetings of civil society representatives, healthcare professionals and Supreme Court judges in Russia, Canada and Brazil. The intensification of concern regarding asbestos in countries with such a high degree of vested interest indicates the overwhelming support by civil society for an asbestos-free future. [Read full article]

Tomorrow in Brasilia (Postscripted Aug 25)

Aug 23, 2012

In just one day's time, asbestos hearings in Brazil's Supreme Court will begin. At stake are the lives of millions of citizens not only in Brazil but also in countries to which Brazilian shipments of asbestos are sent. If the highest Court in the world's 3rd largest asbestos-producing country decides that the Constitution upholds a State's right to ban asbestos to protect public health, there can be little doubt that the political and financial support for the asbestos industry will evaporate. Once that is gone, so too will be Brazil's asbestos industry. [Read full article]

Thailand: Update on Ban Asbestos Campaign

Aug 23, 2012

A conference to consider the decision by the Thai Government to ban asbestos was organized at the headquarters of the National Economic and Advisory Council (NESAC) in Bangkok on August 17, 2012. Important issues raised during the presentations and discussion included legal and other actions being taken to restrict hazardous human exposures to asbestos in Thailand. It was clear from the discussion that NESAC personnel remain convinced of the urgent need for the Government to overcome pressure being exerted by the Ministry of Industry to delay the asbestos ban. [Read full article]

Asbestos Icicles in Korea

Aug 19, 2012

An innovative project by the Ban Asbestos Network of Korea (BANKO) and the Asian Ban Asbestos Network (A-BAN) last year included sampling and analysing icicles suspended from asbestos-cement roofs at diverse locations in Korea; 35% were contaminated with asbestos. An icicle hanging from the asbestos slate roof of a school in Seoul contained 15% chrysotile as did a sample taken from a residential building in Incheon. Korean children often break off icicles to eat as a winter treat. Recognizing this practice, BANKO advisors recommend that these icicles not be eaten or handled by children (see also: report on A-BAN Conference, 2011). [Read full article]

Escalation of Ban Asbestos Mobilization in India

Aug 17, 2012

Grassroots efforts by local people and trade unionists are bearing fruit in the fight to ban asbestos in India according to reports received from colleagues in Orissa, an Eastern Indian State. After a week-long blockade at a Visaka asbestos plant, production has ground to a halt. According to an informed source, the protest has been mounted by farmers whose land had been "forcefully occupied" by Visaka. Last week trade unionists at an asbestos seminar in Orissa voted to take action to publicize the asbestos hazard and lobby government to outlaw asbestos use. [Read full article]

Asbestos-free Australia by 2030?

Aug 16, 2012

A report released today could signal a substantially reduced incidence of asbestos-related diseases in Australia. Achieving such a reduction would have a great resonance in a country which has been subjected to a veritable asbestos plague: "more Australians have died of asbestos related diseases than were killed in the First World War." The Labour Government has pledged to address this deadly legacy. Today the Workplace Minister Bill Shorten commended a new 81-page report on asbestos to Parliament, which delineates the steps needed to protect the population, decontaminate the infrastructure, and clean-up the environment. [Read full article]

Confusing Verdict by India's Supreme Court

Jul 14, 2012

Disregarding orders it had previously issued regarding the import of toxic end-of-life ships and shipbreaking, India's Supreme Court on July 30 allowed a notorious tanker, once called the Exxon Valdez, into the country for dismantling. The fifteen page judgment in a case brought by ToxicsWatch Alliance against the Indian Government was an indeterminate mix of good and bad. While it okayed the scrapping of the Exxon Valdez, a ship likely to contain asbestos and other poisonous materials, it ruled that this would be the last time the Court allowed international regulations to be flouted. [Read full article]

Pakistan Supreme Court Reviews Asbestos Case

Aug 13, 2012

A case being adjudicated by the Supreme Court of Pakistan has highlighted the use of asbestos in a country which has consumed more than 35,000 tonnes since 2009. The lawsuit revolves around the cancer death of a maintenance engineer who had worked in a Karachi asbestos factory. To clarify issues arising from the litigation, the Supreme Court requested advice from an expert panel; the commission's report is overdue. The asbestos hazard is a potent threat in Pakistan where consumption remains legal and there is no asbestos health and safety legislation and no procedures for recognizing or compensating asbestos injuries. [Read full article]

Showdown in Brasilia

Aug 8, 2012

This month the Brazilian Supreme Court will reengage with the asbestos debate, as it hears evidence from Brazilian and international experts including those who favour industry's position and those who don't. The fact that the August 31 proceedings will be translated into English is an indication of a high level of global interest in this case. Will Brazil's highest court once again uphold the rights of citizens to live a healthy life: one free of deadly exposures to asbestos? There is a lot at stake for the citizens of Brazil as well as for asbestos stakeholders. Watch this space! [Read full article]

Quebec Privateers Face Mounting Opposition

Jul 31, 2012

Last month's announcement that the Quebec Government had provided $58 million to revive Canada's asbestos industry triggered an avalanche of criticism at home and abroad. The opponents of the financially-suspect and morally compromised scheme being orchestrated by Bernard Coulombe and Baljit Chadha include asbestos victims, trade unionists, politicians, ban asbestos campaigners, human rights activists as well as citizens in countries where Canada intends to send the asbestos. In Parliament, Prime Minister Cameron voiced opposition to the global trade in asbestos. After a recent visit to India, Australian Senator Lisa Singh condemned Quebec support for the new mine. [Read full article]

Japan Eternit: An Unending Story

Jul 31, 2012

Japan continued to process and sell asbestos products long after other developed countries had banned its use. As a result, Japan is experiencing an epidemic of asbestos-related diseases which shows no signs of abating. More and more of those affected are seeking redress through the courts. While judicial results have been mixed, with some wins and some losses, the resolve of asbestos victims and their families to see justice done has not wavered. The litigation brought by the family of Mr. Kosuge over his para-occupational exposure to Eternit asbestos, an exposure which led to his death from mesothelioma, is informative. [Read full article]

Asbestos Issues in India: Interview with Lisa Singh

July 26, 2012

Meetings that Australian Senator Lisa Singh had in Delhi this month have informed her understanding of the global asbestos trade and the issues arising from the use and sale of asbestos products in developing countries. In an interview with IBAS Coordinator Laurie Kazan-Allen, the Senator outlines the asbestos activities undertaken during her trip and describes the enormous challenges faced by Indian health and safety campaigners and trade unionists to protect India's population from the asbestos hazard. She is determined that Australia will play its role in the global campaign to ban asbestos. [Read full article]

Indonesian Mobilization on Asbestos

July 24, 2012

This month has been a productive time for Indonesian ban asbestos campaigners as it provided the opportunity not only to raise public awareness of the asbestos hazard but also to register the protest of civil society about the decision of the Quebec Government to fund a new asbestos mine. On July 15th 2012, the first activity in the "Asbestos Hazard Alert Campaign 2012" stimulated a great deal of public and press interest. On July 18 and July 20 public protests were held against the new Quebec asbestos mine, a mine which will ship deadly asbestos to Asian countries, including Indonesia, for decades to come. [Read full article]

Effect of Children's Age and Life Expectation on Mesothelioma Risk

Jul 20, 2012

An important paper by Occupational Hygienist Robin Howie was considered last week at the meeting of the Committee on Carcinogenicity. In Howie's discussion, he highlights issues related to juvenile vulnerability to asbestos exposures at home and school and in the environment. Noting that increased cumulative exposure to asbestos and increased life expectancy may result in an increased incidence of mesothelioma, he recommends that environmental levels in residential properties be reduced and that more stringent clearance and background requirements be applied to asbestos removal operations in buildings used by children. [Read full article]

Meeting of Representatives of Indian Trade Unions and Civil Society with Australian Senator Lisa Singh

Jul 19, 2012

A visit this week by Australian Senator Lisa Singh to the Indian capital New Delhi provided the opportunity for a dialogue on asbestos use in India to take place during which trade unionists and civil society representatives voiced their views regarding news that Quebec has handed over $58 million of public money to fund new asbestos mining resources. India is Canada's best customer for asbestos. A report about this meeting has been compiled by Mohit Gupta from the Occupational and Environmental Health Network of India, the group which co-organized this event. [Read full article]

Great Asbestos Trial: Post-Verdict Developments

Jul 17, 2012

The landmark judgment handed down on February 13, 2012 by the Turin Criminal Court continues to reverberate in Italy and abroad. On July 16, 2012, it was reported that Schmidheiny's legal team submitted a 500-page appeal which looks to overturn the verdict on grounds of constitutionality, jurisdiction and statute of limitations. Two weeks earlier, the Turin Public Prosecutor Raffaele Guariniello announced he is calling for the sentences to be increased from 16 to 20 years. Even as this case winds its way through the Italian legal system, the interim court-awarded payments remain unpaid. [Read full article]

Mesothelioma: Personal Tragedy, Global Disaster

Jul 13, 2012

From July 11-13, 2012 the annual conference of the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation (MARF) takes place in Washington D.C. This paper, which forms the basis of the presentation to the MARF conference by IBAS Coordinator Laurie Kazan-Allen, considers the personal experience of mesothelioma sufferers and their families in the context of continuing global asbestos use of 2 million tonnes a year. The implications of news regarding the development of new asbestos mining facilities in Quebec for populations in developing countries are discussed. [Read full article]

Action Mesothelioma Day 2012

Jul 7, 2012

Judging by capacity crowds at yesterday's (Jul 7) events on Action Mesothelioma Day 2012, it is clear that Britain's annual day to remember the asbestos dead has achieved an iconic status. Up to a thousand people in cities and towns turned out for church services, flower laying ceremonies, conferences, public rallies, dove releases, and photographic exhibitions amidst weather conditions which were far from ideal. AMD participants, many of whom were suffering from serious asbestos diseases, made their way by car, bus, train and foot to venues around the country to join together in a spirit of fellowship and mutual support. [Read full article]

The Future We Want is Asbestos-Free

Jul 7, 2012

Rio+20, the 2012 United Nations sustainable development summit in Brazil, is history. Unlike the sense of disappointment which pervaded the Summit's official proceedings, the spontaneity, diversity and inclusivity of the Rio+20 People's Summit for Social and Environmental Justice, a parallel event open to all-comers, created a spirit of subdued optimism. One constructive happening held under the umbrella of the People's Summit was a day of civil action called "Rio+20 Asbestos Toxic Tour"; the events on June 15th were a manifestation of calls by civil society for an asbestos-free future. [Read full article]

Warnings Unheeded: a British Tragedy becomes a Global Disaster

Jul 6, 2012

July 6, 2012 is Action Mesothelioma Day (AMD), an annual day set aside to mobilize public awareness of the asbestos hazard. In several UK cities, asbestos victims, support groups and mesothelioma charities will be holding events to commemorate those whose lives have been sacrificed to asbestos. This paper forms the basis of IBAS coordinator Laurie Kazan-Allen's presentation at an AMD conference in Liverpool; juxtaposing the UK's tragic asbestos legacy with the consequences for populations in asbestos-consuming countries the world over, the paper is relevant to this year's AMD theme: the need for a worldwide ban on the mining, manufacture and use of all forms of asbestos. [Read full article]

Asbestos Cause and Effect

Jul 3, 2012

As asbestos stakeholders in Quebec were rejoicing over the receipt of government funds for a new underground chrysotile mine last week, Asian asbestos victims were meeting in Japan to remember those whose lives have been lost to asbestos disease. On June 30, an asbestos conference took place in Amagasaki City attended by 300 participants from Japan and Korea. Delegates were appalled by the news that the Quebec government had provided millions of dollars in funding for a new asbestos mine; there was unanimous condemnation of the Government's behaviour especially as the vast majority of the asbestos from the new mine is destined for Asian markets. [Read full article]

The Female Face of Britain's Asbestos Catastrophe

Jul 2, 2012

Considering the colossal levels of asbestos exposure experienced in Britain during the 20th century, there can be no doubt that the death toll from asbestos-related diseases has been massive. Nowadays, Britain has the unwelcome distinction of having the world's highest mortality rate from the asbestos cancer, mesothelioma. Historically, male mesothelioma deaths have dominated the statistics with, at times, six times as many male as female fatalities. Considering the lower death rate amongst British women, it is of interest to note that so many of the landmark cases through which the national asbestos reality has been revealed relate to the tragic experiences of female victims. [Read full article]

New Asbestos Mine in Quebec

Jun 30, 2012

The Quebec Government has announced the provision of a $58 million loan guarantee to develop new asbestos facilities at the Jeffrey Mine. The news was released the day before the long weekend which marks Canada Day; this is considered one of the best times of the year to bury bad news in Canada. Unfortunately for Quebec's asbestos fat cats the days when governments could manipulate public opinion by such transparent means are well passed. With the explosion of social media platforms, the global ban asbestos community will make sure this news is known around the world. This is not over! [Read full article]

Westminster Asbestos Seminar

Jun 29, 2012

The annual asbestos seminar has been a fixture of the parliamentary calendar for more than a decade. The objective of the event is to not only keep asbestos high on the UK political agenda but also to provide the opportunity for interested parties to hear news about current developments abroad. Reflecting the balanced approach traditionally adopted, this year's agenda included three presentations by UK speakers and three by international experts: Krishnendu Mukherjee (India), Kathleen Ruff (Canada) and Alex Burdorf (Netherlands), all of whom highlighted the role of civil society in tackling national asbestos scandals. [Read full article]

Notes on Asbestos Trading Through the European Community

Jun 13, 2012

Research undertaken by Bill Lawrence over the last year tracks the global trade of asbestos through the use of online sources and databases. Lawrence highlights the role of strategic ports such as the Akuta Commercial Seaport, Kazakhstan and Novorossiysk, Russia through which shipments of Russian asbestos are transited. He also details shipments of asbestos goods from European countries which have banned asbestos including Italy and Poland to Mexico, Sri Lanka etc. [Read full article]

Asbestos Confusion in the United Arab Emirates

Jun 11, 2012

A recent newspaper article claimed that the use of asbestos had been prohibited in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) since 2006. If this were indeed the case, it seems strange that as recently as 2009, the UAE consumed in excess of 26,000 tonnes of asbestos. Enquiries have confirmed that although the UAE prohibited some uses of asbestos in 2006, other uses remain legal. Compounding the occupational and public health threat posed by asbestos use are other hazardous practices such as the demolition of buildings containing asbestos, the re-use of discarded asbestos products and the haphazard disposal of asbestos-contaminated waste. [Read full article]

Global Asbestos Panorama 2012: Questions and Answers

Jun 8, 2012

Asbestos has had many nicknames. In Canada it was called "white gold;" elsewhere it was called the "magic mineral." We know it by another name: killer dust. Everywhere asbestos has been mined, transported, processed or used, human beings have died and the environment has been polluted. The truth is simple: there is no safe level of exposure to asbestos, all types of asbestos are carcinogenic and the best way to protect human beings from asbestos is to ban its use. To understand the current scale of the global asbestos situation, a series of questions has been considered. [Read full article]

Eternit's "Annus Horribilis"

Jun 7, 2012

Commemorating her 40th anniversary as Monarch, Queen Elizabeth II said: "1992 is not a year on which I shall look back with undiluted pleasure. In the words of one of my more sympathetic correspondents, it has turned out to be an 'Annus Horribilis'." For Eternit executives and shareholders, their horrible year began in the Summer of 2011. The developments which have taken place since then have brought the asbestos operations of the Eternit conglomerate into sharp focus and attracted the kind of attention that corporate spin doctors had worked so long to avoid. [Read full article]

Support for Scientists Attacked by Asbestos Industry

May 29, 2012

An "International Call for Action to Stop Intimidation of Scientists by the Asbestos Industry," is currently being disseminated which expresses support for colleagues targeted by asbestos stakeholders due to their criticism of chrysotile asbestos. The timing and nature of the legal actions being taken against scientists in Thailand, Brazil and India are unlikely to be coincidental; it is probable that these attempts to silence asbestos critics represent a new phase in the coordinated, industry-backed global campaign to promote the use of asbestos despite the evidence which condemns it as a carcinogenic substance. [Read full article]

Defeat of Japanese Test Case

May 28, 2012

On May 25, 2012, the Yokohoma District Court handed down a defendants' ruling which supported claims that government asbestos regulations were not "unreasonable from the standpoint of knowledge at that time" in a 2.9 billion yen lawsuit brought on behalf of 87 construction workers with asbestos-related diseases. The defendants included the Japanese Government, alleged to have been negligent in failing to adopt asbestos regulations and guidelines to protect at-risk workers, and 44 companies which had manufactured building products. The claimants included injured victims and grieving family members of construction workers exposed to asbestos since 1960. [Read full article]

Raising Awareness of the Asbestos Hazard in Albania

May 28, 2012

There is little awareness about the dangers of asbestos in Albania; there is no legislation or guidelines regulating asbestos use, sale, transport or disposal. An important educational program, supported by the World Health Organization, which was run last month in the capital Tirana marked the beginning of a new phase in the country's asbestos debate. As a result of the intensive discussions during the workshop, a statement was adopted highlighting the need to address the widespread hazard posed by asbestos in Albania which constitutes "a major threat to occupational and environmental health." [Read full article]

Asbestos Protests in India

May 25, 2012

On Tuesday (May 22, 2012) Indian villagers in Odisha, India's 9th largest state, mounted a highly visible march and demonstration against plans by Vishwakarma Asbestos Ltd. to site an asbestos factory in the Sohella area of Bargarh district. Despite strong resistance expressed by local people to the building of the "cancer factory," no attempt has been made by the government or the district administrators to block the controversial commercial development. Alert citizens and social activists will resist all attempts to dump asbestos on their doorstep, according to one spokesperson who was interviewed by IBAS. [Read full article]

Eternit Ordered to Pay for Belgian Clean-up

May 23, 2012

After decades of escaping liability for the pollution caused by its asbestos manufacturing operations, Eternit Belgium has been ordered by the authorities to pay for the remediation required to make the area in Kapelle op den Bos safe. In forests near the former asbestos-cement factory and on dumpsites used by the company, debris containing chrysotile and/or crocidolite asbestos continues to pose a potent threat to public health. Although the final bill for the remediation in Kapelle will, it is believed, be substantial it is likely that other Eternit-contaminated sites will be identified both in Belgium and abroad. [Read full article]

Seychelles Asbestos Scandal

May 23, 2012

On May 15, 2012, a news bulletin was broadcast which confirmed that asbestos, a substance banned in the Seychelles since 2005, had been used in the construction of the Perseverance Housing Project on Mahé, the largest island of the Seychelles and home to roughly 90% of the country's population. Responding to an enquiry made by IBAS, Dr. Jude Gedeon, the Public Health Commissioner of the Seychelles, confirmed on May 22 that "the fibre cement boards being used on 147 housing units that are still under construction and unoccupied, contain the mineral Chrysotile…" [Read full article]

Indonesian Campaign to Ban Asbestos

May 14, 2012

Even as asbestos use increases in Indonesia, efforts are being made by civil society groups to generate public, occupational and institutional awareness of the risks posed by the consumption of this acknowledged carcinogen. The formation of the Indonesian Ban Asbestos Network (Ina-Ban) marks a new beginning in the national asbestos debate which, for the first time, includes the voices of those prepared to challenge the status quo. At home and abroad Ina-Ban has engaged in political missions, outreach projects and information initiatives as it campaigns for an end to asbestos use. [Read full article]

Brazilian Efforts to Ban Asbestos 2012

May 11, 2012

A well-attended event was held in São Paulo last week, organized by the Central Única dos Trabalhadores (Central Union of Workers), the largest trade union in Brazil. The agenda of the one-day meeting entitled, National Conference on Occupational Asbestos Disease and Death and a Brazilian Asbestos Ban, revealed the broad-based support which now exists in Brazil for a national ban, as it included eminent experts from the trade union movement, the labor inspectorate, members of federal and state parliaments, the medical and legal professions and social movements including ABREA, the national association representing asbestos victims. [Read full article]

Walk for Wittenoom Children - Summary

May 7, 2012

The series of articles on the background, genesis and completion of the ground-breaking Walk for Wittenoom Children can now be referenced from this summary, which will be supplemented when we receive feedback on the aftermath of the project. The articles cited explain the motivation of the walkers as well as the personal experiences of those who donated a week of their lives to fulfil this mission. Daily IBAS interviews conducted during the walk provided a unique perspective on the logistical and practical challenge faced by the project's planners and participants including Den Carnaby, Bev Bertocchi, ADSA officials Robert and Rose Marie Vojakovic, and demon walker, Siri Siriwardene. [Read full article]

Walk for Wittenoom Children - Day 5

May 5, 2012

And so it ended: after 600 km and 5 days, the ADSA walkers negotiated the final 15 km leg of their journey from Guildford to the ADSA headquarters in Osborne Park. The epic trek, begun in bright sunshine in the West Australian desert, came to its successful conclusion under wet autumn skies in metropolitan Perth. For the triumphal final leg, the walkers, dressed in their iconic ADSA tee shirts, marched as a group. As they approached their destination they were joined by well-wishers and more ADSA members. Arriving just before noon they were greeted by Gary Gray, a representative of Prime Minister Julia Gillard. [Read full article]

Walk for Wittenoom Children - Day 4

May 4, 2012

Speaking by phone from Western Australia today (May 4), the ADSA's Rose Marie Vojakovic sounded almost disappointed that tomorrow the 600+ km walk will be over. Adjectives she used throughout this morning's interview included "overwhelming," "inspirational," and "moving." As the ADSA team approaches the home straight, the pride of their achievement seems to mingle with the sadness which accompanies the end of something monumental. Tomorrow the final leg of the walk from Kalgoorlie to Perth will be accomplished as the walkers and support staff make their way to the ADSA's Osborne Park offices en masse. [Read full article]

Thailand's Asbestos Liars

May 1, 2012

To a seasoned observer of the global asbestos scene it comes as no surprise that asbestos vested interests in Thailand are represented by liars. While it is well known that the asbestos business is based on lies, steps taken by Thai lobbyists have put these individuals in a class of their own. Tee shirts produced by Oranit, a Thai company which manufactures asbestos-cement roofing tiles, proclaiming the WHO's endorsement of chrysotile asbestos has led WHO officials to issue a clear-cut statement calling for an end to the use of all types of asbestos. [Read full article]

The Rise and Fall of the Chrysotile Institute

May 1, 2012

The Chrysotile Institute (CI) surrendered its charter to the Ministry of Industry on April 5, 2012. This took place days after its suite of offices at 1200 McGill College had been vacated. The doors at Suite 1640 are now closed and the CI has ceased operations. Although the CI's President claims the closure could be temporary, I believe that this bastion of the asbestos industry is gone for good. Waiting in the wings to pick up where the Canadian lobbyists left off however are ruthless asbestos lobbyists in Russia, Brazil and elsewhere. The CI's battle is over but the asbestos war continues. [Read full article]

International Workers Memorial Day 2012

Apr 25, 2012

As in previous years, asbestos is an issue which will be highlighted around the world on International Workers' Memorial Day (IWMD), April 28. In asbestos-producing and using countries like Albania, Brazil, Canada, China, Nigeria, Togo and the U.S. and in asbestos ban countries like Italy, Australia and the UK, events are being held to expose the risks posed by asbestos and commemorate those whose lives have been sacrificed so that asbestos profits could continue to flow. Through their efforts on April 28, asbestos victims, trade unionists, and occupational health campaigners will add momentum to the global campaign to ban asbestos. [Read full article]

Italian Government takes Asbestos Safety and Care Concerns to EU - International Research Network Ahead?

Apr 25, 2012

The Italian government is calling for the creation of an EU-wide network of asbestos-related disease (ARD) centres of excellence. The idea was discussed privately between Italian health minister Renato Balduzzi and the EU commissioner for health John Dalli on 24 April, during this week's summit of EU health ministers in Horsens, Denmark. But the conversation is now set to result in a formal proposal at European Commission and EU member state level, according to the Italian health ministry. EU commissioner Dalli is said to have pledged his full support for Professor Balduzzi's ideas. [Read full article]

Walk for Wittenoom Children - Day 3

May 3, 2012

You truly begin to fathom the huge undertaking of the Asbestos Diseases Society of Australia's (ADSA) charity walk for Wittenoom Children when a day spent walking 180 km is classed as "easy." The walkers, who have now covered hundreds of km on their trek, remain in high spirits albeit with the occasional blister. Today's reception by children and staff at four local schools, the terrific media coverage and news that Australia's top court has convicted asbestos directors of deception have kept spirits high. Tonight the walkers are bedding down at Northam Race Course, having completed day 3 of their epic adventure. [Read full article]

Walk for Wittenoom Children - Day 2

May 2, 2012

Five kilometres from the West Australian town of Kellerberrin, President Robert Vojakovic of the Asbestos Diseases Society of Australia told IBAS that the walkers were on course to complete the second leg of their journey having covered 230 km since they set off this morning from Yellowdine. The day had gone well and spirits were high, he added. Earlier that afternoon, a truckie had pulled his rig off the road to make a donation. Back in Perth, office manager Antonella Conte confirmed the phones had been ringing non-stop after supporters had seen the extensive media coverage of the event. [Read full article]

Walk for Wittenoom Children - Day 1

May 1, 2012

After months of discussion, planning and training, the time had finally come to set off. As local politicians and well-wishers waved them off from the center of Kalgoorlie at 8:30 a.m. today, the walkers for Wittenoom Children took the first of the many steps needed to cover the 600+ kilometers awaiting them on this innovative fund-raising walk to raise asbestos awareness as well as funds for vital research into asbestos killer diseases. Strong feelings accompanied the walkers as they remembered their loved ones: fathers, mothers, brothers and sisters killed by Australian asbestos. [Read full article]

Charity Walk for Wittenoom's Children

Apr 19, 2012

The deadly legacy of the Wittenoom crocidolite (blue) asbestos mine has been Australia's greatest industrial catastrophe. From the early 1940s until the mine shut in 1966, more than 20,000 people have lived in Wittenoom, amongst whom were 4000+ children. It is believed that 10% of Wittenoom's residents have died of asbestos-related diseases. The Asbestos Diseases Society of Australia, which has been raising money to find a cure for these diseases for 30 years, is mounting a fund-raising "Walk for Wittenoom's Children," to support the work of medical researchers in Western Australia. [Read full article]

Confronting Australia's Asbestos Catastrophe

Apr 10, 2012

There is every reason for the people of Western Australia (WA) to be sensitive to the asbestos issue: the incidence of asbestos-related disease in the state is amongst the highest in the world. A heightened public awareness of the WA asbestos tragedy is the result of 30+ years of community mobilization which has been spearheaded by a unique institution: the Asbestos Diseases Society of Australia (ADSA). The Society, which was begun in 1978 by former asbestos miners from Wittenoom and their family members, has today become one of the world's leading support and advocacy groups for asbestos victims. [Read full article]

Confirmation of Asbestos Hazard

Apr 8, 2012

Recent publications not only confirm the health hazard posed by asbestos exposure but also widen the range of diseases known to be caused by all the commercial types of asbestos. The Review of Human Carcinogens: Arsenic, Metals, Fibres, and Dusts concluded that: "Asbestos causes mesothelioma and cancer of the lung, larynx, and ovary," while the paper: Cardiovascular disease mortality among British asbestos workers (1971-2005) proved that workers exposed to asbestos are at an increased risk of death from cardiovascular conditions such as heart disease and strokes; amongst the female cohort, there was a 100% increase in the risk of a stroke-related death. [Read full article]

Australian Award for British Activist

April 4, 2012

The Asbestos Diseases Society of Australia Incorporated (ADSA) Management, Staff, Members and Friends were delighted to recognize the outstanding work of British ban asbestos campaigner Laurie Kazan-Allen at a ceremony which took place on March 25, 2012 in Perth, Western Australia. At this year's Annual General Meeting of the ADSA, she became the first non-Australian to receive the prestigious Emeritus Professor Eric G. Saint Memorial Award. The Honourable John Kobelke, a Member of the Legislative Assembly of Western Australia, presented the award and congratulated Ms. Kazan-Allen on her never ending commitment and extraordinary contribution to the global ban asbestos campaign. [Read full article]

Quebec Condemns Killer Industry

Mar 7, 2012

The unprecedented coverage of Canada's asbestos scandal which has taken place in La Presse, Quebec's most popular newspaper, over recent weeks is a good reflection of the sea change that has occurred in Canada's asbestos debate. Whereas criticism of the national asbestos industry was previously not infrequent in the English-speaking media, similar articles were subject to de facto censorship throughout Quebec's French language newspapers and TV stations. That this is no longer the case indicates that the asbestos industry has indeed lost the public relations war in Quebec, leaving asbestos vested interests exposed and isolated. [Read full article]

Ban Asbestos Mobilization in Thailand

Feb 29, 2012

On February 17, 2012, a conference was held in Bangkok under the banner of the National Programme for the Elimination of Asbestos Diseases which brought together a hundred representatives of civil society groups determined to press the government to ban asbestos. The day's activities culminated with the adoption of a Declaration to Make Thailand Asbestos-Free which asserted that the fundamental right to work and live in a healthy environment was denied to people living in countries where asbestos use was legal. To coordinate ban asbestos pressure, the Thailand Ban Asbestos Network (T-BAN) was established. [Read full article]

Clarification of Turin Judgment

Feb 22, 2012

In the aftermath of the Turin verdict of February 13, 2012 condemning asbestos defendants Stephen Schmidheiny and Jean-Louis de Cartier de Marchienne for their part in the asbestos deaths of thousands of Italians, many questions are being asked about the details of the 128-page ruling. Lawyer Sergio Bonetto, who represented some of the Italian asbestos victims in this case, provides clarification regarding several issues of immediate concern including the timetable for payment of damages, the options open to recover those damages and the likely progression of the case through the Italian judicial system. [Read full article]

Landmark Victory for Italian Asbestos Victims!

Feb 20, 2012

On February 13, 2012, Eternit defendants Stephan Schmidheiny and Jean-Louis de Cartier de Marchienne, were convicted by a criminal court in Turin of causing permanent environmental disaster and failing to comply with safety rules as a result of which thousands of Italians died from asbestos-related diseases. The European industrialists were sentenced to 16 years in prison and financial penalties of €90 million were imposed by the Court "jointly and severally" on them and the companies named in the lawsuit. The verdict was warmly received by Italian campaigners who had battled for over three decades for justice for Eternit's asbestos victims. [Read full article]

IBAS Eternit Monograph Released as Verdict in the Great Asbestos Trial is Announced

Feb 11, 2012

On February 13, 2012, a Turin Court will announce the verdict in a criminal case brought by Italian prosecutors against former asbestos executives who are charged with causing permanent environmental disaster and failing to comply with safety rules for their part in the running of asbestos-cement factories in Casale Monferrato and other Italian cities. The Public Prosecutor is asking for 20-year jail sentences. The courtroom will be packed with Italian victims, family members and ban asbestos campaigners from all over the world, all of whom will be waiting with baited breath for the verdict to be pronounced. [Read full article]

Ban Asbestos Mobilization in Hong Kong

Jan 27, 2012

On January 19, 2012, local activists met with representatives of the (Hong Kong) Legislative Council Panel on Environmental Affairs to progress calls for a ban on the import, use and transshipment of asbestos in Hong Kong. During the discussions, the activists called for the government to introduce measures to raise occupational awareness of the asbestos hazard, identify asbestos-containing materials in all public buildings and quantify levels of environmental contamination. The Government is also being urged to introduce a mandatory scheme to protect workers which would involve the registration and supervision of proposed plans to demolish asbestos-contaminated properties. [Read full article]

Sri Lanka's Asbestos Challenge

Jan 27, 2012

Sri Lanka is a country facing many challenges, not least of which is the reconstruction of the national infrastructure after so many years of war. It is regrettable that in the rush to build commercial and domestic properties, the usage of asbestos is increasing. In 2010, consumption was nearly treble that of the previous year. Over the period from 2000 to 2010, total asbestos consumption was nearly a quarter of a million tonnes, an average of 22,207 tonnes/year. While other countries have banned or seriously restricted asbestos use, Sri Lanka seems bent on expanding this deadly industry. [Read full article]

Global Asbestos Scandal: Some Answers

Jan 17, 2012

The publication of papers in recent months about various aspects of the global asbestos scandal provides further details of the human consequences of hazardous exposures, the politics behind the deadly asbestos trade, the efforts by civil society to ban asbestos and grassroots projects to spread awareness of the asbestos hazard. Specific issues relating to asbestos agendas in Spain, Mexico, Canada and Indonesia are discussed in the four articles referenced in this text whose authors include epidemiologists, occupational and public health experts, ban asbestos and community activists. [Read full article]

A New Year in Casale Monferrato

Jan 4, 2012

The furore set off in 2011 by asbestos defendant Stephan Schmidheiny's attempt to make a deal with the town of Casale Monferrato showed no sign of abating as the year drew to a close. Into the breach stepped Italy's Minister of Health, Renato Balduzzi, who himself phoned the Mayor on December 21 to set up meetings for January 1. Discussions on New Year's Day with key stakeholders has led to plans for a coordinated plan by national agencies, local authorities and federal bodies to tackle the country's asbestos emergency. In the meantime, the deadline set by Schmidheiny for signing the deal has expired. [Read full article]

In Appreciation of Rachel Lee

Dec 21, 2011

Rachel Lee died from asbestos cancer on December 21, 2011 at 2 p.m. Korean time. Rachel was a woman with a formidable capacity for empathy and love. Everyone who met her was touched by her warmth, kindness and concern for humankind. The environmental exposure to asbestos which was to cause her death led her to campaign globally for an end to the deadly trade in asbestos. In Korea, Japan, Indonesia, India and Canada, Rachel called on governments and individuals to end the use of asbestos in order to protect human lives. [Read full article]

Update from Casale Monferrato

Dec 16, 2011

Tonight the Casale Monferrato town council will rubber-stamp a deal commonly called the "pact with the devil." Despite massive opposition from Italy and abroad, the politicians will accept an offer from a former asbestos executive on trial in Turin over an epidemic of deaths caused by asbestos contamination. Although a deadline of December 31, 2011 had been set for the agreement to be finalized, it seems council members can't wait to comply. Asbestos victims, campaigners, trade unionists, representatives of labor federations and church officials are appalled by the underhanded behaviour of the Mayor and his colleagues. [Read full article]

Justice for Sale?

Dec 15, 2011

For over thirty years, the citizens of Casale Monferrato, Italy have been struggling with a deadly contamination which has blighted their lives and their town. To obtain justice for the thousands who have died, asbestos victims, trade unions and labor federations have worked closely with town officials and prosecutors to progress legal actions against the guilty parties. These efforts have been pivotal in the recently completed trial against two former asbestos executives. Now, one of the defendants in this trial has made the town council of Casale Monferrato a multimillion euro offer to withdraw from the legal proceedings. [Read full article]

Historic Mission to Canada

Dec 10, 2011

One year ago, a formidable band of intrepid campaigners ventured into the history books when they took the ban asbestos campaign into the Canadian asbestos heartland. The Asian Solidarity Mission to Canada has been termed one of the ten most significant events in the history of the global ban asbestos movement. The one year anniversary of the events which took place in Quebec City, Ottawa and Montreal from December 7 to 10, 2010 is an appropriate time to reflect on the significance of the mission, its achievements and developments in Canada's asbestos dialogue in the last twelve months. [Read full article]

Asian Solidarity Mission to Canada - One Year On

Dec 10, 2011

In December 2010, history was made when a delegation of asbestos victims, trade unionists and health activists from Asia went to Canada to make a personal appeal to the Quebec government and the people of Quebec not to approve a plan to open up the Jeffrey asbestos mine. The seven members of the solidarity delegation deserve to feel great pride in the courageous and powerful initiative they carried out in Quebec. The engagement of delegation members with civil society during their visit broke down barriers and added a much-needed human dimension to the debate over Canada's export of deadly asbestos. [Read full article]

Memories of Quebec

Dec 10, 2011

Reflecting on the days spent in Canada by the Asian Solidarity Delegation, the author summarizes important outcomes of the mission as: the huge media coverage and publicity in Canada and across the globe, the interest stimulated over the ethical debate of exporting asbestos, a substance not used in Canada, to Asia and the emotional impact made by asbestos cancer sufferer Rachel whose personal story touched the hearts of all those who heard her speak. Referencing, the outrageous behaviour of Canada at the recent meeting of the Rotterdam Convention, he hopes that in the matter of the Jeffrey Mine "better sense shall prevail." [Read full article]

The Asbestos Frontline

Dec 10, 2011

The author, who participated in the Asian Solidarity Mission to Canada, is critical of the Canadian Government's asbestos policy which affords Canadian citizens protection from a known hazard while simultaneously denying the same protection to non-Canadians. "The Government of Canada," he writes "is joyfully sending a deadly poison to the workers and the poor in Asia." This double standard violates the universal human right to life. An attempt by the author to return a discarded Canadian asbestos sack found in West Java to Canadian officials proved unsuccesful as no one in Canada seemed anxious to receive this gift. [Read full article]

Iran Campaign to Ban Asbestos

Dec 9, 2011

The progress of Iran's asbestos debate is evinced by a front-page article which appeared in the most popular newspaper in Tehran on October 24, 2011. The text in the headline read: "People of Tehran ask Government to Ban Asbestos." Although, in 2000 Iran's Department of the Environment passed regulations setting a seven year phase-out period for manufacturers to make the transition to asbestos-free technology, as of now, nothing has changed. "Many experts," the journalist writes "think that we should pass a law in parliament or cabinet to ban asbestos in Iran." [Read full article]

Activists Condemn Canadian Racism

Dec 7, 2011

Representatives from civil society in India are scathing about proposals for a Canada-India Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement which could eliminate all tariffs on Canadian asbestos exports to India. The trade deal was called an "appalling travesty of all ethical codes of human behaviour" by campaigning groups which issued a press statement on December 6, 2011. Mohit Gupta, Coordinator of the Occupational and Environmental Health Network of India, highlighted the double standards promoted by Canadian officials simultaneously supervising asbestos decontamination of national infrastructure and attempting to sell increasing amounts of deadly asbestos to India. [Read full article]

Chrysotile Institute - Mountebanks and Liars!

Dec 1, 2011

Last week, the Chrysotile Institute (CI), the notorious mouthpiece for Canada's asbestos industry, published the latest issue of its newsletter. As usual, the text contains outright lies, misinformation and gibberish dressed up as fact. However, there is a whiff of desperation about this latest offering, reflected in the fact that the bumper issue runs to four times the length of previous newsletters the CI has produced irregularly over the years. An analysis of five statements in the text reveals the fabrications and misrepresentations the CI relies on to make the case for the "controlled use of chrysotile." [Read full article]

Surprise Moves by Schmidheiny's Lawyers

Nov 26, 2011

Stephan Schmidheiny's legal team is engaged in a series of behind-the-scenes negotiations with officials from 12 Italian municipalities to secure their withdrawal from an on-going case and future cases against him over his alleged responsibility for hazardous asbestos exposures to workers, local people and the environment in towns where asbestos-cement production took place at Eternit factories. An offer, which was kept secret from asbestos victims, trade unions and labor federations, made to the Mayor and council of Casale Monferrato has caused consternation amongst the victims and their family members who have called on the authorities to honor their commitment to the injured. [Read full article]

India Hosts A-BAN Conference

Nov 24, 2011

The 2nd annual meeting of the Asian Ban Asbestos Network (A-BAN) took place last week in Rajasthan. This was the first major ban asbestos meeting of grassroots activists to take place in India, the world's biggest importer of asbestos. As such, it attracted scores of participants from 15 countries. During the sessions on November 14-17, reports detailed the work being done to delineate asbestos issues in India, the Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Hong Kong, China, Korea and Japan. As a result of the information received during the sessions and the discussions which took place, a statement - the Jaipur Declaration - was approved by delegates. [Read full article]

Eternit on Trial

Nov 24, 2011

Eternit, an international asbestos conglomerate, prided itself on its dominance and control of national asbestos debates. Recent European court cases have exploded the company's myth of invincibility. The trial of two former Eternit executives in Turin has now concluded after two years and 66 hearings; the verdict is expected in February 2012. Next week (November 28), a decision will be announced in a Brussels court in the case brought by the family of Francoise Jonckheere, who was environmentally exposed to asbestos whilst living near the company's factory in Kapelle-op-den-Bos. [Read full article]

Australia Confronts Asbestos Disaster

Nov 11, 2011

A devastating epidemic has sensitized Australians to the scandalous use of asbestos at home and abroad. The November 8 broadcast of India: A Toxic Trade by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation revealed a sad truth: the asbestos no longer required by developing countries is being dumped in Asia. The day after the broadcast, Australian Senator Bob Brown tabled a motion that highlighted the dangers of the global asbestos trade, condemned Canada for blocking efforts to regulate this trade and urged the "Australian government to use strong diplomatic efforts to convince the Canadian Government to cease both production and trade in asbestos." [Read full article]

More British Victims, Less Support

Nov 4, 2011

Figures released this week show an inexorable rise in British asbestos deaths; mesothelioma fatalities have increased from 153 in 1968 to 2,321 in 2009. Male mortality accounted for 80% of the deaths, with construction workers at the highest risk of mesothelioma. Even as this epidemic rages on, the coalition government is taking steps to shut down routes by which victims obtain compensation from negligent employers. The Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill, which has been approved by the House of Commons, will go to the House of Lords. If this bill becomes law, many asbestos sufferers will refrain from initiating lawsuits. [Read full article]

Betrayal of Commonwealth Principles

Oct 28, 2011

As the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) gets under way in Perth, Western Australia, Canada stands accused of betraying the Commonwealth ethos for its export of a deadly carcinogen - asbestos - to developing Commonwealth countries. Over the last three years up to 60% of Canadian asbestos exports have gone to the Commonwealth Member States of India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Malaysia, Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa, most of which have few, if any, enforceable regulations for protecting people from hazardous exposures. The fact that Canada's asbestos trade is not part of the CHOGM agenda makes the Commonwealth complicit in the global asbestos scandal. [Read full article]

Justice for Françoise?

Oct 26, 2011

Eleven years after her death from mesothelioma, the family of Françoise Jonckheere witnessed the beginning of a landmark trial on October 24, 2011 in the Palais de Justice, Brussels when the case against Eternit, the owners of an asbestos-cement factory in Kapelle-op-den-Bos, commenced. This is the first civil case brought on behalf of a Belgian who, as a result of environmental exposure to asbestos, contracted an asbestos-related disease. To highlight the importance of this case, a series of events was organized in the run-up to the trial which included a press conference, seminar, documentary screening and courthouse vigil. [Read full article]

October 18, 2011: A Bloody Anniversary

Oct 18, 2011

Today, October 18, 2011, is the 20th anniversary of the overturn of the U.S. asbestos ban. Since then, 300,000+ tonnes of asbestos fiber have been used and vast amounts of asbestos products have been incorporated into the national infrastructure. Official documents newly released constitute a damning indictment of the role played in the reversal of the ban by Canadian asbestos stakeholders. The actions of high-level officials in Ottawa, including the Canadian Prime Minister, in conjunction with the efforts of their counterparts in Quebec, local politicians and industry stakeholders were part of a an aggressive, and eventually successful, assault on the EPA regulations. [Read full article]

Yet More Russian Asbestos Lies

Oct 11, 2011

The results of research undertaken into claims made by Russian asbestos vested interests are revealed; analytical tests undertaken in Europe and enquiries made in Canada definitively prove that the industry lobbyists were lying. The website of Russia's Uralasbest Joint Stock Company, one of the world's largest asbestos mining companies, claimed that Russian and Canadian banknotes contained chrysotile asbestos; to back up its allegations, the website showed pictures of a fifty rouble Russian banknote and a one dollar Canadian banknote. Scientific tests commissioned and research undertaken prove that these assertions are false. [Read full article]

Sarnia 2011: Remembering Our Asbestos Victims

Oct 7, 2011

On October 1, a Walk to Remember Asbestos Victims was held in Sarnia, Ontario in the memory of those whose lives have been cut short by asbestos. Organized by Canadian sisters Leah Nielsen and Stacy Cattran whose father Bill had died of mesothelioma in 2008, in conjunction with the Sarnia group "Victims of Chemical Valley," the event became a rallying point not only for local people but for Canadians from much further afield. Photographs from the day's activities document a large turnout of victims and family members determined to brave the off-shore winds to show their outrage at Canada's continued support for the asbestos industry. [Read full article]

Baljit Chadha: Asbestos Straw Man?

Sep 30, 2011

Canadian asbestos spokesmen come and go, the latest being Baljit Chadha, a Montreal entrepreneur who is spearheading efforts to secure financing for the revival of Quebec's asbestos industry. Chadha and a mysterious group of investors hope to qualify for a $58 million loan guarantee from the Quebec Government but have failed to meet previous deadlines to finalize the deal. As an October deadline loomed into view, Chadha embarked upon a highly personal quest to counter the escalation of anti-asbestos opinion in Canada. Recent developments outside of Canada, however, do not bode well for the future of the mining project. [Read full article]

Toxic Ship Leaves Bangladesh

Sep 30, 2011

Having blocked the import of a vessel contaminated with asbestos and other harmful substances last week, port authorities in Chittagong today confirmed that the "toxic ship" MV Asia Union has left the territorial waters of Bangladesh. The illegal attempt to import the Chinese-owned ship was made by a subsidiary of Beijing-based China Ocean Shipping Company. For over a year, the ship has been looking for a country willing to tackle the myriad of problems its dismantling presents. The vessel, a floating cocktail of toxic chemicals, is said to contain asbestos, polychlorinated biphenyl, toxic paints and chemical residues. [Read full article]

A Dark Day for Brazil

Sep 29, 2011

A decision on September 28, 2011 by the Brazilian Supreme Court confirms that the country is open for business…. at any cost. The Court trounced the right of São Paulo State to protect its citizens by banning the transport of asbestos along its highways. As these roads lead to Brazil's main port of Santos, vested asbestos interests have been put to considerable inconvenience by the ban. Clearly, Brazil's powerful and wealthy asbestos lobby was never going to take no for an answer and pursued the legal challenge to Sao Paulo's sovereign rights as far as the country's highest court. [Read full article]

Egypt's Asbestos Legacy

Sep 28, 2011

Prior to the adoption of an asbestos ban in Egypt six years ago, asbestos processing facilities such as those belonging to the ORA-Egypt Cement Company liberated asbestos fibers not only during commercial operations but also through the haphazard and unregulated dumping of contaminated waste. As a result of this pollution, the incidence of asbestos cancer has skyrocketed amongst ex-workers and residents of communities located near former asbestos facilities. Despite the Egyptian ban, it is believed that legislative loopholes and poor enforcement of customs regulations allow some shipments of asbestos fiber and asbestos-containing products to enter the country. [Read full article]

Russian Asbestos U-Turn?

Sep 16, 2011

On September 7, 2011, the Russian Justice Ministry promulgated a law which recognized the occupational hazard posed by chrysotile asbestos and chrysotile-containing materials. This is a remarkable change of direction for the authorities who have continuously denied that exposure to chrysotile asbestos posed a risk to workers or members of the public. The new standard highlights the need for protective measures for at-risk workers, including those involved in construction and demolition, careful disposal of asbestos-contaminated waste and lifelong health monitoring of asbestos workers. Civil society representatives remain to be convinced of the Governmet's intention to enforce this law. [Read full article]

The Passing of a Great Man

Sep 14, 2011

There are many reasons to give thanks for the long life and good work of Dr. Gerrit Schepers who died this month at the age of 97. As a South African specialist in occupational disease he had witnessed the appalling conditions at the amosite asbestos mines in the North Eastern Transvaal. His attempt to rectify the situation was unproductive in the face of government apathy. Throughout his career he not only became familiar with the modus operandi of asbestos industry forces but also testified about the manner in which vested interests suppressed research findings and deprived asbestos victims of their due. [Read full article]

Censorship in Switzerland?

Sep 14, 2011

Mystery surrounds the cancellation of a preview screening of a Swiss documentary entitled: The Multinational of Victims. The film, which was commissioned by the Italian language Swiss Radio and Television Broadcasting Company, was due to be shown at the Casa d'Italia (House of Italy) in Zurich on September 7, 2011. The documentary focuses on the Italian trial of Swiss billionaire Stephan Schmidheiny and Belgian Jean-Louis Chislain de Cartier De Marchienne, both former directors of the Eternit multinational asbestos conglomerate. Attempts are being made to ascertain the reason for the cancellation of the preview. [Read full article]

Korean Asbestos Ban: The First Step

Sep 14, 2011

It is tempting to think of a national asbestos ban as the happy-ever-after ending. Unfortunately, this is not the case. As we are seeing in Korea, the fact that a country has prohibited the use of asbestos does not eradicate the asbestos hazard. Last month, extensive contamination of an elementary school in Jeonju, North Jeolla Province resulted in a temporary closure of the premises. Shortly before then, Korean campaigners revealed that crushed asbestos-contaminated rock was being used by a leading steelmaker in Korea. The asbestos ban implemented in Korea in 2009 was indeed a great victory; more work remains to be done. [Read full article]

Confusing Times for Japan's Asbestos Victims

Aug 26, 2011

Hours before the Japanese Diet enacted improvements to asbestos compensation schemes, the Osaka High Court snatched 430 million yen ($4.6m) away from asbestos plaintiffs. The shock verdict announced yesterday (August 25, 2011) reversed a 2010 ruling handed down by Judge Yoshihiro Konishi in the Osaka District Court which had found the Government negligent for failing "to provide people with the appropriate information concerning asbestos and the health risks linked to it…" Konishi awarded substantial compensation to ex-textile workers who had been exposed to asbestos between 1939 and 2005. This decision will be appealed to the Supreme Court. [Read full article]

Support for Japan's Asbestos Victims

Aug 23, 2011

Ever since the "Kubota Shock" first propelled the Japanese asbestos scandal onto the public consciousness in 2005, asbestos victims' groups have been lobbying for government benefits and compensation for all those who have been injured or bereaved by occupational, environmental or para-occupational exposures to asbestos. As a result of protracted negotiations amongst victims, campaigners and all Japan's political parties, new rules are being brought into force by the end of this month (August 2011) to extend the relief network to include additional victims of occupational and non-occupational asbestos exposures. [Read full article]

Taking a Stand: Asbestos Widow vs. Canadian Government

Aug 19, 2011

Before her husband contracted asbestos cancer, life was good for Mrs Keyserlingk and her family: prosperity, professional careers, children, grandchildren. The diagnosis of mesothelioma which shattered their lives was a result of exposure received by Robert Keyserlingk aboard Canadian naval vessels. After his death, his widow began to research the role played by Canadian politicans in abetting the domestic asbestos industry and colluding with global asbestos promoters. Recent actions taken by Mrs Keyserlingk have led to legal threats from Canada's Conservative Party. The Tories hard-nosed position has lead to an outpouring of support for the beleaguered widow. [Read full article]

Bangladesh National Meeting on Asbestos

Aug 19, 2011

On August 6, 2011, the Bangladesh Occupational Safety, Health and Environment Foundation held a National Consultation Meeting on Asbestos in Dhaka to launch the Report "Asbestos Time Bomb in Bangladesh" and provide the opportunity for stakeholders to consider ongoing asbestos issues in the country. The participants at this event, which included representatives from a range of civil society groups, agreed to upgrade work on asbestos and campaign for a national ban and legislation to protect citizens from the asbestos hazard. The fact that most of the asbestos imported into Bangladesh came from Canada was highlighted during this session. [Read full article]

Quebec's Asbestos Pimps and Profiteers

Aug 15, 2011

News has been announced today that the Quebec Government has granted another extension to asbestos industry investors backing the development of the Jeffrey Mine underground facility. Earlier deadlines of July 1 and August 15 have come and gone without the consortium finding the requisite $25 million needed to unlock the Quebec Government's promised $58 million loan guarantee. Today, a Quebec politician told journalists that the asbestos businessmen have been given an extension and that the new deadline is the beginning of October. [Read full article]

Russia's Asbestos Challenge

Aug 15, 2011

A groundbreaking project is being conducted in the heartland of the world's foremost producer of asbestos: Russia. Since 1975, when asbestos production in the former Soviet Union first outstripped annual Canadian output, Russian vested interests have taken an increasingly hard line on developments which might impact on domestic or foreign sales. Given the industry's wealth and political support its contributions have purchased, there are no queues of home-grown critics prepared to challenge the status quo. However, earlier this year work began in three Russian asbestos hotspots to quantify and address the country's continuing asbestos challenges. [Read full article]

Asbestos Outreach Project in India

Aug 12, 2011

An asbestos medical diagnosis camp, organized by the Mine Labour Protection Campaign, was run during August 4-10, 2011 in collaboration with the Occupational Health and Safety Centre in a remote village in Rajasthan, near to the hamlets where former asbestos mine workers live. Two hundred and forty-five impoverished injured workers, male and female, were transported 30 kilometers to the nearest health clinic to be examined by a medical team headed by Dr. V. Murli. Chest X-rays, sputum tests and medical examinations were carried out, as a result of which a staggering 50% of the cohort was diagnosed with asbestosis. [Read full article]

Victory for Activists in Korea

Aug 12, 2011

On August 2, 2011, a delegation from the Ban Asbestos Network of Korea (BANKO) met with senior executives from Hyundai Steel at the company's factory to discuss the company's hazardous use of asbestos-contaminated crushed serpentine ore. The BANKO delegation, which included academics, activists and asbestos victims, reiterated the demand for this dangerous practice to end. A corporate spokesperson, who confirmed Hyundai's efforts to source safer materials, informed BANKO that the company's controversial use of serpentine will cease by the end of August 2011. Further efforts will be undertaken to establish the situation regarding steelmaking elsewhere in Korea and abroad. [Read full article]

Canada's Asbestos Industry – The Final Countdown.

Aug 1, 2011

For the Quebec Government asbestos D-Day looms ever closer. Whether Quebec makes good on its promise to provide a $58 million loan guarantee to asbestos entrepreneurs is dependent on their ability to obtain private sector financing of $25 million for a proposed new underground mine. Although many deadlines have come and gone, the most recent being July 1, it seems that the mid-August deadline may be the last chance for the project. With only days to go, ban asbestos campaigners must wait and see whether Canada's inglorious asbestos industry will finally be consigned to history. [Read full article]

Creating Awareness in South Africa

Aug 1, 2011

The work of South African photographer Hein du Plessis plays a central part in a new resource developed by the University of Cape Town (UCT) entitled "Harmful Substances." Discussing the initiative, termed a "mini-exhibition" by Jurgen Geitner of the University's Pathology Learning Centre, Geitner said it was now on show in the student's canteen on the UCT campus with a version accessible online. South Africa was unique in that it was the only country with commercially exploitable resources of the three main types of asbestos: chrysotile (white asbestos), amosite (brown) and crocidolite (blue). [Read full article]

Hyundai Steel: A Corporate Criminal

Jul 31, 2011

Members of the Ban Asbestos Network of Korea have been participating in high-profile events in Seoul to raise awareness of an ongoing scandal which is exposing thousands of Koreans to a carcinogenic agent. Thousands of tonnes of asbestos-contaminated crushed serpentine rock are being used as a raw material in manufacturing facilities operated by the Korean industrial giant: Hyundai Steel. As a result of the continuation of this dangerous practice, miners, transportation workers, local people and factory personnel could contract deadly asbestos-related diseases. Despite Korea's asbestos ban, the threat posed by exposure to asbestos-contaminated raw materials continues. [Read full article]

Community Activism in Indonesia

Jul 25, 2011

On July 21, 2011 months of preparation, consultation and discussion culminated when 25 groups of participants from 15 schools in Bandung, Indonesia took part in an "Asbestos Danger Media Competition" held on the campus of a senior high school. This drawing contest was organized by the Indonesian Ban Asbestos Network and the Indonesian Red Cross-West Bandung to help raise awareness of the asbestos hazard in Indonesia, a country which has seen an explosion of asbestos consumption in recent years. Indonesia is now the world's fifth biggest market for chrysotile (white) asbestos. [Read full article]

Ban Proposal Angers Russians

Jul 23, 2011

Russian asbestos stakeholders are engaged in an aggressive campaign to forestall adoption of regulations prohibiting asbestos in automotive friction products. Angered by news of the draft ban, the Russian Chrysotile Association has pulled out the big guns, including Vladimir Putin, in an all out fight to retain the status quo. Vested interests have been bombarding government personnel with false information and misleading predictions. Wealthy Russian asbestos industrialists are unwilling to tolerate the advent of any regulation or trade restriction which might compromise the substance at the heart of their operations - chrysotile asbestos. [Read full article]

Chrysotile Cowards Shun Spotlight

Jul 19, 2011

According to reports from the Consumers Association of Penang, a public relations firm called APCO Worldwide is interfering in the current debate on banning asbestos in Malaysia. It is believed that the APCO, which has previously acted for the tobacco and asbestos industries, is voicing the arguments of asbestos stakeholders in order to give the misleading impression that support for retaining the status quo is not financially motivated. APCO advice to a former client bears out this theory: "No matter how strong the arguments, industry spokespeople are, in and of themselves, not always credible or appropriate messengers." [Read full article]

Making Waves and Noise in Turin

July 17, 2011

Eternit executives might do well to study the current evolution of the British scandal surrounding the global news empire run by Rupert Murdoch. It seems that once the tipping point is reached, as it was with the revelation of the phone hacking by a journalist of the mobile belonging to a murdered teenager, no corporation is invulnerable. The ongoing trial in Turin of former Eternit executives may very well be the tipping point in the corporate legacies not only of the former Eternit multinationals but also of other Eternit companies around the world still manufacturing asbestos-cement products. [Read full article]

Asbestos – Still a Killer

Jul 6, 2011

Following closely after the debacle which was the June 20-24, 2011 meeting of the Rotterdam Convention (RC), the occurrence of the seminar "Asbestos – Still a Killer" in the European Parliament provided the opportunity for civil society representatives to express their outrage at the self-serving and obstructive behavior of the Canadian RC delegation. Following presentations by European experts, a productive discussion session delineated recommendations for action at global and European levels. As Co-Chair Alejandro Cercas said: "Our goal must be to create a Europe based on human values and not just one based on money and commerce." [Read full article]

Russian Asbestos Ban?

Jul 6, 2011

Last month, a technical regulation was drafted by the Russian Federal State Unitary Enterprise proposing a ban on the use of asbestos in friction materials. The asbestos prohibition, included in the text entitled "The Safety of Wheeled Vehicles," would be enforceable throughout the Eurasian Economic Community (EEC). News of this development was met with outrage from asbestos lobbyists who predicted that the policy change would result in the closure of six Russian companies. Although it usually takes a year for a draft EEC regulation to become law, pressure from the powerful asbestos lobby could impede the progress of this bill. [Read full article]

Canada, A Pariah State

Jun 28, 2011

The outrageous behaviour of the Canadian delegation at last week's meeting of the Rotterdam Convention has attracted a groundswell of condemnation not only from delegates who witnessed Canada's undiplomatic and bloody-minded attack on the Convention but also from journalists and civil society groups in Canada and abroad. Canada's prioritization of its own political intrigues at the expense of the lives of populations in developing countries which import Canadian asbestos is a scandal of the highest magnitude. A headline in a Canadian newspaper on June 24 said it all "Building Canadian industry on the bodies of the poor." [Read full article]

Rotterdam Rollercoaster

Jun 22, 2011

The final Conference of the Parties of the Rotterdam Convention (COP5) prior to Russia becoming a convention member was, it was generally thought, the last chance for agreement to be reached on the thorny subject of including chrysotile asbestos on the Prior Informed Consent list of the Convention. COP5, which began in Geneva on Monday, June 20, will continue till the end of the week. After objections by 5 countries to listing chrysotile were raised on June 21, productive negotiations resulted in the collapse of the veto. Once this had occurred, Canada emerged from the shadows to block listing. [Read full article]

Asbestos: Think Global, Act Local

Jun 16, 2011

Global asbestos stakeholders must be wondering what has hit them with the avalanche of negative publicity they have been attracting in recent weeks. Just over the last 48 hours, a number of articles and initiatives have been circulating which reveal the buildup of pressure in the run-up to next week's meeting of the Rotterdam Convention. Meanwhile, around the world the work of asbestos victim support groups goes on. Activities in Manchester this week illustrate the type of imaginative and productive initiatives being progressed by local groups such as the Greater Manchester Asbestos Victims Support Group. [Read full article]

Pressure Builds in Canada to Outlaw Asbestos

Jun 14, 2011

Long-standing efforts by civil society, international agencies and trade unions are culminating in a series of decisions and events which reveal the contempt in which asbestos and asbestos sellers are now held. It is no exaggeration to say that the underhanded tactics marshaled by asbestos stakeholding governments and commercial interests to market this discredited substance have tarnished the reputation of a country once held in high esteem for its human rights and environmental agendas: Canada. Over recent weeks, Canada has been criticized by the International Labor Organization, indicted by leading scientists, pilloried by journalists and ridiculed by Canadian comedians. [Read full article]

Global Trade in Asbestos 2010

Jun 13, 2011

Figures detailing global asbestos production and consumption in 2010 have been compiled by the United States Geological Survey. The biggest producers remain Russia China, Brazil, Kazakhstan and Canada. Amongst the world's top consuming countries, India and Indonesia have increased their annual level of asbestos use by 25% (from 340,544 t (tonnes) in 2009 to 426,363 t in 2010) and 36% (from 82,302 t in 2009 to 111,848 t in 2010), respectively. The particularly worrying aspect of this trend is the fact that legislation mandating worker and consumer protective measures is lacking in both these countries. [Read full article]

Down and Out in Quebec

May 31, 2011

Things are not going well for Canadian asbestos stakeholders who have little over one month to find $20 million in private sector financing if they are to secure the future of Quebec's asbestos industry. A recent broadcast by Bernard Coulombe has not proved helpful to their cause; in fact the May 12 transmission has been categorized as a "public relations failure." The disastrous feedback from this event combined with growing Canadian scrutiny of government and industry asbestos misdeeds and increased ban asbestos mobilization in countries like India, Bangladesh, and Indonesia have created a climate unlikely to encourage major asbestos investment. [Read full article]

Asbestos Fallout from Japanese Disaster

May 7, 2011

Faced with the human catastrophe caused by the recent Japanese disasters, it is no wonder that local officials have been at a loss as how best to proceed; indeed authorities in hard-hit areas like Miyagi prefecture have admitted that they were slow to confront the asbestos hazard. In the last month, attempts have been made to quantify the asbestos fallout and implement measures to provide protection for at-risk populations. Sampling of debris found at disaster sites and monitoring of air levels have identified asbestos contamination in Miyagi and Fukushima Prefectures. Government efforts and civil society projects are underway to address the asbestos hazard. [Read full article]

A Town in Mourning, a Town Reborn

May 3, 2011

To the casual traveller, the Italian town of Casale Monferrato might appear idyllic. Alas, appearances are deceptive for at the heart of this community is a man-made cancer which has destroyed lives and decimated the landscape. Casale Monferrato is town betrayed by asbestos and by the greedy industrialists who foisted this carcinogen on workers and townsfolk indiscriminately. The social disaster which Casale Monferrato has suffered has transformed the entire population into citizen-activists. Young and old, working class and middle class, everyone has been mobilized; everyone has a thirst to see justice done. [Read full article]

Asbestos Center Stage on Workers' Memorial Day

Apr 27, 2011

April 28 is commemorated in scores of countries as International Workers' Memorial Day. This year, asbestos will be on the agenda of events being held by victims' groups, trade unions, community organizations and campaigning bodies in Asia and Europe. In the Philippines, a competition - The Asbestos Street Fighters Street Art Competition - is being launched by a Manila-based group which is progressing the national ban asbestos movement. In Italy, a conference entitled "A World Without Asbestos," is one of many events that will take place in the asbestos hotspot of Casale Monferrato. [Read full article]

Progress on Thailand Asbestos Ban

Apr 26, 2011

According to a Press Release of the National Health Commission Office of Thailand, issued on March 30, 2011, the Thai Government is throwing its weight behind plans to outlaw asbestos use. A meeting of the National Health Commission, chaired by the Prime Minister on February 25, 2011, "issued a resolution on banning the import of all types of this mineral." Simultaneously, the Commission delineated a road map to achieve this objective which assigned specific roles to various Ministries. At this time, the timetable for the implementation of the ban remains unknown. [Read full article]

Canada's Asbestos “Mafia”: In Words and Pictures

Apr 21, 2011

We have tried logic, we have tried facts. We have liaised, consulted and demonstrated until we are blue in the face. Nothing seems capable of prising the asbestos baton out of the cold dead hands of Quebec's industry of mass destruction. Cuddly old Canada and proud Quebec don't give a rat's ass about the deaths they are exporting along with their shipments of chrysotile asbestos. In the face of condemnation from Quebec's own public and occupational health professionals, the province's asbestos mafia remained resolute in its determination to prioritize local jobs over the lives of millions of vulnerable people. [Read full article]

Hong Kong Asbestos Ban by 2012?

Apr 20, 2011

In April 2011, Hong Kong's Environmental Protection Department (EPD) discussed a proposal to ban the use of all forms of asbestos. The briefing document considered by the Legislative Council highlighted Hong Kong protocols to minimize contamination caused by demolition and disposal activities as well as regulations which restrict the import, export, manufacture and use of crocidolite and amosite asbestos; the import and processing of chrysotile asbestos remains unregulated. A coalition of civil society groups - called the No More Asbestos in Hong Kong Alliance - has spearheaded the efforts to ban asbestos in Hong Kong. [Read full article]

Raising Asbestos Awareness in Indonesia

Apr 20, 2011

Initiatives being progressed by a new coalition in Indonesia - the Indonesian Ban Asbestos Network (Ina-Ban) - are adding new voices and new sources of information to the national asbestos dialogue. This week, a package of information and campaigning materials has been launched on the occasion of Earth Day in Bandung, Indonesia. In the weeks to come, an Asbestos Media Competition is being launched to spread asbestos awareness amongst younger people. Entrants are being asked to submit graphic material which conveys the message that asbestos is a killer! Prizes will be awarded towards the end of this year. [Read full article]

Brazilian Asbestos Industry vs. Fernanda Giannasi

Apr 15, 2011

Brazilian asbestos stakeholders don't welcome criticism and don't like constraints. Even when states have taken unilateral action and banned asbestos, factories producing asbestos-cement and outlets distributing asbestos-containing materials continued their commercial activities. It is only when the law was brought into play, that businesses were forced to comply. In São Paulo State a federal employee who is often involved in the prosecution of parties in cases like these is engineer and veteran civil servant Fernanda Giannasi. Ms. Giannasi has been sued in criminal and civil courts, confronted physical assailants and received death threats - all for just doing her job. [Read full article]

Asbestos Phase-out in Rwanda

Apr 15, 2011

On April 15, 2011, Rwanda's Ministry of Infrastructure announced plans to spend the equivalent of $24 million to remove asbestos roofing from public buildings due to the potential hazard it poses to building users and workers. The work will be carried out as part of a rolling program which will begin with the oldest buildings. Speaking on behalf of the Government, Marie Claire Mukasine, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Infrastructure, said that the action being taken to tackle the country's asbestos legacy was agreed following the completion of a feasibility study. [Read full article]

Cynical Relaunch of Canadian Asbestos Industry

Apr 14, 2011

On April 13, 2011, the Quebec Government announced a decision which could revitalize Canada's dwindling asbestos industry. Despite widespread condemnation by public and occupational health specialists in Quebec and abroad of plans to develop a new underground asbestos facility at the Jeffrey Mine, the Charest Government has decided to green light the project. Although some financial details remain to be resolved, the Government has said it will provide the $58 million loan guarantee requested for the scheme. In return for this largesse, the scheme's backers will provide a $7.5 million donation towards the economic diversification of the region. [Read full article]

Asbestos: A "Hot-Button Issue" in Canada

Mar 29, 2011

Current developments in Canada do not augur well for the country's moribund asbestos industry. Unless a pot of $58 million is found in the coming weeks, plans to breathe new life into this toxic industry could collapse. If Quebec rejects an appeal for financial support and Chinese businessmen fail to provide funding for the scheme to develop an underground chrysotile mine in Quebec, Canada's production of asbestos could be at an end. That the all-important decisions will be taken in a climate of political uncertainty and unfolding scandal bodes ill for the industry and well for the citizen's ban asbestos movement. [Read full article]

Mobilization on India's Asbestos Threat

Mar 26, 2011

Experts taking part in the conference Emerging Trends in Preventing Occupational Respiratory Diseases and Cancers in the Workplace which was held in New Delhi on March 22-24, 2011 warned of a looming catastrophe as a result of India's increasing consumption of asbestos. Professor Dr. Qamar Rahman from Lucknow's Integral University told conference delegates that the time had come for India to "ban the use of asbestos." Dr. Rahman, who has documented hazardous exposures to asbestos in a range of Indian workplaces, highlighted the threat posed to future generations of asbestos-containing artifacts such as ceilings and storage tanks. [Read full article]

Does Quebec Need Asbestos?

Mar 23, 2011

Data recently obtained reveal the irrationality of Quebec's devotion to the asbestos industry. In 2010, total Quebec exports were valued at $59.2 billion; overseas sales of asbestos fiber were $76.5 million. As part of Quebec's finances, the value of asbestos is of little significance; with asbestos export sales accounting for a fraction of one per cent some might even categorize this industry as worthless. Considering the asbestos industry's dire financial situation in conjunction with the negative impact on Quebec's reputation of this toxic trade, there is no doubt that the economic case for keeping this industry alive is unsound. [Read full article]

Ban Asbestos Movement Gains Momentum in India

Mar 22, 2011

A trip to India at the beginning of March 2011 provided the opportunity for Professor Annie Thébaud-Mony to meet asbestos victims, campaigners and medical professionals in the asbestos hotspots of Mumbai and Ahmedabad. Professor Thébaud-Mony, who was invited to India by the Tata Institute of Social Science to present her research on occupational cancer, has studied asbestos issues in Europe, Latin America and Asia. A report by Jagdish Patel provides information regarding her activities, including details of interviews, field work, meetings, roundtables, site visits and lectures. [Read full article]

Asbestos on WHO Agenda

Mar 21, 2011

Concern about the consequences of asbestos exposures led to the subject of asbestos being given a high priority at a landmark conference in Asturias, Spain. Documentation distributed to conference delegates was categorical about the risks of asbestos exposure: "All forms of asbestos are carcinogenic to humans. Inhalation of asbestos contributes substantially to the burden of lung cancer and is causing mesothelioma, cancer of the larynx and the ovaries. There is some evidence suggesting an association between exposure to asbestos with causation of cancer of the pharynx, the stomach and colorectal cancer. Asbestos exposures account for the largest proportion of occupational cancer." [Read full article]

Last Chance for Canada's "New" Asbestos Mine?

Mar 18, 2011

Endless postponements of a decision by the Quebec government on whether to provide a $58 million loan guarantee for a new chrysotile asbestos mine has driven the scheme's backers to embark on another desperate search for investors. Today, the Canadian media reported that discussions have restarted with Chinese investors who pulled out of the project in 2009 shortly after the (Canadian) Liberal Party declared support for a national ban on the mining and export of asbestos. At that time, it was said that the Chinese investors had decided to focus their financial portfolio on domestic projects. [Read full article]

Progress of Ban Asbestos Campaign

Mar 14, 2011

Major developments from around the world this month evidence growing support for the ban asbestos campaign. Seen as part of a worldwide trend, increasing public awareness of the asbestos hazard in India and Thailand, judicial endorsement of claims from injured British asbestos victims and a collapse of support for the Canadian asbestos industry reveal the growing mobilization of ban asbestos campaigners in Asia, Europe and North America. The withdrawal of federal funds and trade union support for the (Canadian) Chrysotile Institute are suggestive of major changes in global asbestos dynamics in the near future. [Read full article]

A Righteous Decision for UK Mesothelioma Victims

Mar 9, 2011

All seven Supreme Court Judges today ruled in favor of arguments advanced on behalf of Dianne Willmore and Enid Costello whose low level exposures to asbestos resulted in their contracting the fatal cancer, mesothelioma. The judgment, which was handed down by the Law Lords this morning (March 9, 2011), came as a huge relief after close questioning during the Court proceedings last year had led to pessimistic predictions by some observers. This is the first victory at this level for a claimant (Willmore) whose exposure took place at school and as such is a landmark case. [Read full article]

No More Tax Dollars for Chrysotile Institute?

Mar 6, 2011

On March 1, 2011, the Canadian Government announced plans to slash the federal government's budget by $10 billion in a document entitled 2011-12 Parts 1 and II The Government Expenditure plan and the Main Estimates. Page 256 of this document lists 11 programs for which financial support is being withdrawn in 2011-12; number 10 on the list is the Asbestos Institute, now known as the Chrysotile Institute (AI/CI). It is unknown at this time whether other financial support for the Institute will be forthcoming from the federal government. In recent years, the level of federal funding has remained at $250,000 per year. [Read full article]

Mixed Messages in Japan

Mar 3, 2011

Developments in Japan over the last fortnight suggest that a great deal of confusion persists in government departments over the issue of state-awarded compensation for asbestos victims. Even as new categories of claimants become eligible for government benefits, other victims face protracted legal battles to win damages from the State. While a precedent was recently set with the award of government compensation to the widow of an asbestosis victim environmentally exposed to asbestos in Amagasaki, Hyogo Prefecture, in Osaka a legal cases for cancer sufferers continues to be fiercely defended by the government's legal team. [Read full article]

Ignominious Anniversary: Overturn of U.S. Ban

Feb 25, 2011

It is nearly twenty years since industry lobbyists succeeded in quashing the United States asbestos ban. A judicial decision handed down on October 18, 1991 by the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals invalidated the Environmental Protection Agency's 1989 order phasing-out the use of asbestos from 1994. The contentious EPA regulation would have prohibited the future manufacture, importation, processing, and distribution of asbestos in almost all products. As a direct consequence of the appellate decision, a further 250,000+ tonnes of asbestos were used in the U.S., the vast majority of which was imported from Canada. [Read full article]

New Zealand's Failing Asbestos Policy!

Feb 22, 2011

Asbestos widow Deidre van Gerven has made it her quest to expose the reckless disregard of the asbestos hazard in New Zealand. Looking at the available documentation it is hard to disagree with her assessment that when it comes to the national asbestos legacy, civil servants, politicans and Ministry officials are "putting their heads in the sand." Although New Zealand no longer produces asbestos and has banned the import of asbestos fiber, the import of asbestos-containing products remains legal, widespread ignorance about the asbestos hazard persists, and the government appears disinclined to take effective action to address the problems caused by asbestos contamination. [Read full article]

Misinterpretation of Indian Asbestos Decision

Feb 20, 2011

Since the decision was handed down in January by the Indian Supreme Court (SC) in the case of Kalyaneshwari vs Union of India & Ors, global asbestos lobbyists have lost no time in exploiting the verdict for their own purposes. On Brazilian and Canadian websites run by asbestos trade associations and in press releases by vested interests, the ruling is being promoted as judicial support for the industry lobby's pro-asbestos propaganda. Fortunately, the truth of the matter is very different from that presented by these vested interests: the SC acknowledged Parliamentary discussions on banning asbestos and indicated that a ban is the remit of legislative authorities. [Read full article]

Ban Asbestos Dialogue in the Balkans

Feb 18, 2011

The use of asbestos remains legal in non-European Union (EU) countries in the Balkan Peninsula with the exception of Croatia. As many of these countries aspire to join the EU, adopting a national asbestos ban is seen as a precursor to membership. An innovative collaboration - the KAPAZ Project - between the EU and regional governments, which began at the end of December 2009 and is due to end on June 28, 2011, has spearheaded research and discussions in Macedonia, Serbia and Bosnia-Herzegovina, mounted a regional meeting, generated public awareness literature and broadcast material and established a web presence. [Read full article]

Asbestos Tsunami Headed for India

Feb 5, 2011

A Quebec trade mission bent on increasing chrysotile sales to India by ten-fold has just completed a five-day initiative in that country. It is not enough that India is Canada's best customer for chrysotile, having bought nearly 700,000 tonnes in the last decade; Quebec exporters want to sell more! The asbestos bonanza the Canadians are looking to unleash would come from a controversial mine in Quebec that is currently looking for public funding. Members of the delegation made good use of the opportunities offered by their visits to Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore to curry favor with politicians, promote chrysotile sales and defuse opposition to the expansion of Canadian asbestos production. [Read full article]

Status of Asian Ban Asbestos Agendas

Feb 5, 2011

In recent years, the issue of banning asbestos has been a priority topic in discussions at the highest levels in Taiwan and Thailand. At recent meetings attended by government, business and civil society stakeholders, standard industry rhetoric was deployed to undermine official resolve to take effective action to protect citizens from the asbestos hazard. With 55 national bans now in place and a 41% decrease in the number of asbestos-consuming countries, the asbestos lobby is fighting tooth and nail to forestall the introduction of any regulations that could impact on demand for chrysotile, the only type of asbestos being traded. [Read full article]

Canada's Asbestos Endgame?

Jan 31, 2011

Once upon a time, the powerful asbestos lobby all but controlled the Canadian media; this control translated into a virtual media blackout on controversies such as the export of carcinogenic chrysotile asbestos to developing countries. The virtual invisibility which enabled the Canadian asbestos industry to act with impunity over decades has been well and truly pierced by the controversy surrounding a plan for the Quebec government to provide a loan guarantee for a new asbestos mine. In the full glare of public opinion, opposition to the Canadian asbestos industry has grown exponentially. [Read full article]

Asbestos Industry Offensive

Jan 31, 2011

This week the internet has been flooded by accusations against individuals and groups campaigning to ban asbestos. The latest industry diatribes, most of which focus on the work of the International Ban Asbestos Secretariat (IBAS), were not unexpected. Threats to the asbestos industry have traditionally been met by verbal attacks, legal action or physical intimidation. The latest crop of slurs categorize ban asbestos campaigners as eco-terrorists and pseudo-environmentalists. While attacking their critics might be cathartic for the asbestos profiteers, it will not change the course of history. There is no place in the future for this dying industry. [Read full article]

Fighting Back: Victims' Action Groups and the Ban Asbestos Movement

Jan 31, 2011

Since the 1970s, the work of asbestos victims groups and ban asbestos campaigners has been pivotal in changing public perception of the asbestos hazard. Today's global movement owes much to the foresight of pioneering campaigners, many of whom lost loved ones to asbestos disease. In this historical review for the International Ban Asbestos Secretariat, Professor Geoffrey Tweedale and Jock McCulloch chronicle the evolution of the ban asbestos phenomenon by identifying key individuals and groups and landmark events. The discussion of industry tactics to neutralize opponents is particularly relevant in light of current attacks on ban asbestos campaigners. [Read full article]

Violent Attack on Asbestos Critics

Jan 23, 2011

Days after the Indian Supreme Court rejected a lawsuit calling for a national ban on asbestos, on January 22, 2011 protestors were attacked at the proposed site for a new asbestos-cement factory in Muzzafarpur, in the east Indian state of Bihar. Police charged the crowd with lathis, a device used to suppress public protest in South Asia. Six people required hospital treatment. The latest attack on protestors follows one which took place last December. On that occasion more than 50 armed men broke up a demonstration and caused severe injuries including gunshot wounds to members of the local community. [Read full article]

Supreme Court's Asbestos Decision a Missed Opportunity

Jan 23, 2011

A ruling handed down on January 21, 2011 by the Supreme Court of India rejected an appeal to ban asbestos, a substance linked to respiratory disease and cancer. The same day the Supreme Court declined to take action on asbestos, Dr R. A. Badwe, Director of the Tata Memorial Hospital, confirmed that "India is at the beginning of an explosion of cancer burden due to several factors and drastic steps need to be taken to prevent the explosion." In this context, the decision of the Supreme Court is a tragic mistake, the cost of which will be borne by innocent Indian citizens. [Read full article]

Asbestos Protests in India, Canada and Korea

19 Jan, 2011

Canada's chief asbestos cheerleader Clement Godbout has said that "2010 was hell" for the industry. With recent demonstrations in India, Canada and Korea it looks unlikely that 2011 will be any better. These protests reveal that not only has the asbestos industry lost the initiative but that members of the ban asbestos network are more determined than ever to progress the campaign for a global ban. The activists certainly have their work cut out for them in light of the announcement that the Russian Federation, the world's biggest producer of asbestos, had signed a decree of accession to the Rotterdam Convention. [Read full article]

Quebec Public Opposes Asbestos Subsidy

18 Jan, 2011

An opinion poll carried out in 2011 revealed that the majority of people in Quebec are against government support for the asbestos industry. Commenting on the results of the survey, Dr. Fernand Turcotte said: "It is clear that an overwhelming majority of the Quebec population also oppose the government giving financing for the Jeffrey Mine. Is the government listening?" The asbestos industry in Canada lies bankrupt and bleeding. Its demise, as signified by the collapse of plans for a new mine, would symbolize major progress for civil society groups working together to end the global trade in chrysotile asbestos. [Read full article]

Financial Case for Brazilian Asbestos Ban

Jan 17, 2011

It is rare for an academic paper to have a profound and immediate impact on issues affecting the lives of ordinary people. The research conducted by Professors Ana Lucia Gonçalves da Silva and Carlos Raul Etulain detailed in: The Economic Impact of the Banning of the Use of Asbestos in Brazil is of immense significance not just for Brazil but for other countries still using chrysotile asbestos. There can be little doubt that many of the arguments supporting a Brazilian ban advanced by the academics from the University of Campinas, São Paulo State will be equally valid in other asbestos-using countries. [Read full article]

Victory in Rochdale!

Jan 14, 2011

After more than six years, local campaigners have won a major battle in the town of Rochdale. On January 13, 2011, Rochdale Borough Council rejected a planning application to build 600 homes on a 72 acre site in Spodden Valley. For over 100 years, the site had been occupied by Turner Brothers Asbestos, a major local employer and owner of the world's largest asbestos factory. The initial planning application submitted by MMC Estates did not, the Council found, "provide enough detail about the way the council's conditions for the safe and timely development of the site would be met." [Read full article]

Stop the Mine - Update!

Jan 14, 2011

As politicians finalize the decision regarding a new asbestos mine in Quebec, growing opposition has revealed the project to be one of the most controversial ventures of recent times. Current articles in the English and French Canadian press have exposed the fallacies in government rhetoric, regional sensitivities over asbestos and the pressure being exerted by industry forces backing the new mine. In the face of appeals to "stop the mine" from civil society in Canada and abroad, Canadian politicans have adopted a set strategy: attack the critics and ignore the issues; never engage, always obfuscate. [Read full article]

Rotterdam Convention 2011

Jan 13, 2011

In June 2011, the 5th Conference of the Parties (COP5) to the Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade will be held in Geneva, Switzerland. COP5 will consider the inclusion in Annex III of chrysotile asbestos, a substance repeatedly found by the Convention's technical advisors to constitute a demonstrable risk to human health and the environment. As all changes to the Convention must be by unanimous agreement a few stakeholder governments, led by Canada, have - till now - prevented action on chrysotile being taken. [Read full article]

Impasse Overcome by Indian Protests

Jan 7, 2010

An attempt by former asbestos miners to obtain compensation for asbestos-related injuries has finally progressed to the next stage after recent high-profile protests in the Indian states of Rajasthan and Gujarat. The January demonstration ended yesterday with a government U-turn. The decision by the National Institute of Occupational Health "to constitute a committee of experts and scientists to re-examine the former asbestos workers in the next 7-10 days" will, hopefully pave the way for the workers to bring compensation claims for their injuries. Without NIOH certification that the miners have asbestosis, a condition rampant amongst them, compensation claims cannot be filed. [Read full article]

New Year's Call to Ban Asbestos

Jan 6, 2011

On January 6, 2011 an Environmental Health Perspectives article entitled Global Magnitude of Reported and Unreported Mesothelioma was published online. The 32-page paper detailed the attempt by Drs. Park Eun-Kee, Ken Takahashi et al to develop a method to estimate the incidence of mesothelioma in countries where national data do not exist. Not only do the researchers estimate that thousands of asbestos deaths have been unreported, with Russia, Kazakhstan, China, India and Thailand accounting for the vast majority of "missing" cases, but they warn consuming countries that worse is to come. They urge governments to take action to ban future use of asbestos. [Read full article]

Canada's Asbestos Schizophrenia

Jan 6, 2011

"Logical Insanity: Canadian Governmental Policy and the Case of Asbestos," is the title of a 2010 Major Research Project by Derek Spruce, a student in a Canadian Masters Program. The title aptly sums up the contents of this well-written examination of Canada's policy on asbestos, a substance it strictly regulates at home but carelessly exports to developing countries. While the discussion, which takes place within an exploration of Marxist theory, incorporates other topical issues, the majority of the text relates to the contradictions and compromises foisted on Quebec and Canadian politicans by the country's commercial exploitation of chrysotile asbestos. [Read full article]

Asbestos Prohibited on Ships

Jan 3, 2011

As of January 1, 2011, the installation on ships of all types of asbestos-containing material was prohibited by the International Maritime Organization (IMO). Exemptions permitted since July 1, 2002 were terminated by Circular 1374: Information on Prohibiting the Use of Asbestos on Board Ships adopted in late 2010. The IMO document, which is binding on Member States, was unambiguous about the risk posed by asbestos on board ships; it highlighted the fact that "ships that initially were free of asbestos, appear to have asbestos on board as a result of repairs at shipyards and/or purchasing spare parts at a later stage." [Read full article]

Asbestos Ban in Turkey!

Dec 30, 2010

On December 31, 2010, Turkey will become the 54th country to ban asbestos. According to an announcement made on December 30 by Turkey's Environment Management Directorate General, the Turkish regulation - published in the Official Gazette on August 29, 2010 (with a deadline of December 31) - will end the use of "asbestos in production of any goods and supply of all products containing asbestos." The official statement said: "The ban on use of asbestos will both eliminate diseases stemming from the substance and end emission of asbestos to the environment." [Read full article]

A Great Week for the Ban Asbestos Campaign!

Dec 17, 2010

Developments this week in Thailand, Brazil and Canada, reveal an escalation of support for national asbestos bans and increasing awareness of the need to protect society from the asbestos hazard. It is clear that not only has the asbestos industry lost control of asbestos agendas in producing and using countries but also that governments are seeing through the pro-asbestos propaganda promoted by commercial and government stakeholders. Should Thailand ban asbestos, it would be the third Asian country to do so joining Japan and South Korea, countries which had also been major asbestos importers. [Read full article]

A Dishonorable Honor

Dec 17, 2010

On December 8, 2010, it was announced at the climate change conference in Cancun, that the State of South Australia was bestowing the honor of having a forest named after him to Québec's Premier Jean Charest in recognition of his leadership in the climate change debate. Scandalized by this decision, IBAS Coordinator Laurie Kazan-Allen wrote to Premier Mike Rann in Adelaide urging him to change his "mind and rescind this honor until such a time that Premier Charest rejects the loan guarantee proposal and bans the production, sale and export of asbestos in Québec" [Read full article]

Nowhere to Run - Nowhere to Hide

Dec 16, 2010

With articles and expressions of condemnation appearing at an incredible rate, Quebec's self-serving pro-asbestos policy has continually been in the spotlight in recent weeks. The latest initiative, government backing for a new asbestos mine, has set off a storm of international controversy which shows no sign of abating. Reporters have succeeded in running to ground previously faceless Canadian businessmen who are profiting from their country's sale of asbestos to developing countries. As a result of the media coverage, Quebec's Premier, Ministers and asbestos businessmen stand naked in the full glare of public attention; what can be seen is not pretty. [Read full article]

White Asbestos: Not for Us, says Asian Solidarity Delegation to Canada

Dec 13, 2010

After meetings, interviews, discussions and press conferences, members of the Solidarity Delegation from Asia to Quebec have returned home. They had journeyed to Canada in an attempt to persuade authorities to withdraw support for new asbestos mining and cease asbestos exports. Their mission to Canada has been a historic achievement - it is the first time that an asbestos-exporting nation has come face to face with the victims of their malevolent commercial practices. With Christmas just a few days away, maybe the Quebec authorities will put an end to Canada's commercial exploitation of the killer dust. That really would be a present worth giving. [Read full article]

White Asbestos Payday

13 Dec, 2010

When the 2018 Football World Cup was awarded to Russia on December 2, 2010 the country's asbestos producers must have thought that Christmas had come early. The World Cup will be hosted at 16 stadiums in 13 cities throughout the country; as well as new sporting infrastructure, new hotels, airports, roads and a high-speed rail network will be needed. It is predicted that the final bill for the tournament could reach £31.6 bn ($50 bn). There can be little doubt that Russia's asbestos businessmen and their political supporters would expect to get their cut. [Read full article]

Ban Asbestos Initiatives

Dec 13, 2010

Grassroots groups, medical professionals, non-governmental organizations and academics have been working in Asia and Europe to raise public awareness of the asbestos hazard in countries where widespread usage is compromising occupational and public health. Initiatives are making use of traditional and new broadcasting media to assess national asbestos realities and disseminate the truth about asbestos in the face of ever-present propaganda campaigns by commercial interests. Innovative websites from Thailand and Japan provide a vital service in alerting children and their parents to the ongoing risks posed by asbestos products contained within national infrastructures. [Read full article]

Stop the Mine!

Dec 2, 2010

Civil society around the world has been galvanized by the Québec Government's plans to underwrite a new chrysotile mine in the Canadian town of Asbestos. Outrage has been expressed by asbestos victims' groups, trade unionists, politicans, academics and concerned citizens. Opposition to the new mine has been aired in newspaper articles, the academic and trade press, Parliament, street demonstrations as well as in venues not used to political discourse. One thing upon which all the objectors agreed was that the establishment of a new asbestos mine in Québec would be a morally repugnant act unworthy of a civilized country. [Read full article]

Huge Victory for Indian Workers

Nov 22, 2010

For decades, a British company operated asbestos factories in Madhya Pradesh, Mumbai, Calcutta and Tamil Nadu. Working conditions were appalling and employees were routinely exposed to massive levels of airborne asbestos. When the Indian workers got sick, they were quickly replaced. Traditionally, the company denied any responsibility or liability for occupational illnesses. After the company sold off its remaining assets in India (1994), it walked away from the tragedies and contamination it left behind. In the last few weeks, 97 people injured by their exposure to asbestos at one of these sites secured compensation for their illnesses. [Read full article]

China's Explosive Rise in Asbestos Disease

Nov 18, 2010

It is not surprising to read articles which predict a dramatic rise in asbestos-related disease in China. It is not surprising but it is distressing. Over recent years, China's annual usage of chrysotile asbestos has averaged 560,527 tonnes, making it the world's preeminent consumer. There can be no doubt that a price will be paid in human life for the wanton use of this known carcinogen. European expert Jukka Takala believes that annual Chinese fatalities from asbestos-related diseases could reach 15,000 by 2035; other commentators believe this figure could be much higher. [Read full article]

Australian Asbestos Management Review

Nov 18. 2010

The establishment of an Australian program to implement safe asbestos management policies throughout the country was announced by the Minister for Workplace Relations Senator Chris Evans on October 29, 2010. The National Asbestos Management Review will be conducted under the auspices of Geoff Fary, formerly the Assistant Secretary of the Australian Council of Trade Unions. Controversy about the composition of the expert advisory group constituted to work alongside Mr. Fary has arisen due to the omission on the panel of anyone representing Australian asbestos victims' support groups. [Read full article]

Asbestos Reality

Nov 6, 2010

When it comes to describing the current conditions in which asbestos is used in countries all over the world, a picture is truly worth a thousand words. This being so, then a video is probably worth a million. Online videos from major asbestos-consuming countries are rare but some revealing clips can be accessed here which depict the reality of asbestos use and the hazardous conditions to which workers are currently exposed, particularly in Asia. In light of the images in these clips, there can be no doubt that the asbestos industry's assurances regarding the "safe use of asbestos" are a dangerous fantasy. [Read full article]

China Increases Asbestos Restrictions

Nov 4, 2010

News received on November 3, 2010, confirmed rumors that an industry standard has been adopted in China which prohibits the use of asbestos in siding and wall materials for construction; standard: GB50574-2010 will be implemented as of June 1, 2011. In light of these and other restrictions on asbestos use, increasing numbers of producers are turning to asbestos-free technology with some trade bodies in China lobbying their members to phase out asbestos use all together. There is no doubt that the new standard will impact significantly on the profitability of China's asbestos-cement industry. [Read full article]

Asbestos on Agenda of Moscow Conference – report by Dr Sjaak Burgers

Nov 2, 2010

A conference attended by international experts was held in Moscow on October 14 and 15, 2010. A main topic considered during the discussions was the carcinogenicity of asbestos and the hazards for workers, the public and the environment of asbestos consumption. While European medical and scientific experts were in agreement that asbestos use should be prohibited, delegates representing the Chrysotile Labour Trade Union took a contrary position. A resolution adopted by the Conference stated: "There is strong evidence around the world and in international organisations on the severe health consequences of the use of asbestos." [Read full article]

Alice: A Fight for Life – Now Online!

Oct 29, 2010

It is now more than 25 years since the transmission of a TV documentary which revolutionized the British dialogue on asbestos. Alice: A Fight for Life was broadcast during prime viewing time on national television on July 20, 1982. The 90 minute documentary graphically illustrated the deadly repercussions of Alice Jefferson's short-term employment at the Cape asbestos factory in Acre Mill, Yorkshire. With the advent of the internet, it has now become possible to view some edited clips from this documentary online. [Read full article]

Brazilian Ban On Asbestos Transport Upheld

Oct 28, 2010

In October 2010, a Labour Court in São Paulo ruled in favor of action taken by the Labour Ministry to curtail the transport of asbestos. On several instances, Labour Inspector Fernanda Giannasi had impounded asbestos freight carried on highways in the state of São Paulo. Lawyers from Rapido 900, the country's leading transporter of asbestos, objected to the prohibition. As Brazil's asbestos mine is in the central part of the country, the travel restrictions have serious implications for asbestos producers. The shortest route from the Cana Brava mine to the coast is via the São Paulo road network. [Read full article]

Indian Takeover of Canadian Asbestos Mine?

Oct 28, 2010

The president of the Jeffrey asbestos mine has accepted the offer of $15 million from a consortium of Indian investors to buy the mine. The workers co-operative, which owns 35% of the mine, is supposed to vote on October 31, 2010 on the offer and is likely to approve. The one condition is that the Quebec government has to give the Indian investors a $58 million loan guarantee. The Quebec minister of Economic Development has asked the Regional Conference of Elected Officials to give their opinion by December 20. They will for sure totally support the project. [Read full article]

Asbestos Action in Indonesia

Oct 17, 2010

On October 17, 2010, a new alliance was launched in Indonesia to progress the national campaign to ban asbestos. The Indonesian Ban Asbestos Network (Ina-Ban) is composed of health and safety activists, environmental campaigners and trade unionists from local groups such as Local Initiatives on OSH Network (LION), Indonesian Forum for the Environment (WALHI) and the Federation of Construction, Informal and General Workers (FKUI). The ceremony to announce the formation of Ina-Ban was the first item on the agenda of the 2010 meeting of the Asian Ban Asbestos Network [Read full article]

Why No Asbestos Use at the Commonwealth Games 2010?

Oct 4, 2010

The Commonwealth Games, which opened in New Delhi on October 4, 2010, did so amidst a flurry of media attention regarding unfinished accommodation, missed deadlines and questions over security arrangements. Thousands of athletes from 71 countries were expected to take part. The fact that the Games were being held in the country which has for years been the world's biggest importer of asbestos (1,709,302 tonnes used in India since the Games were awarded in 2003) saw no mention in the media coverage. Was all or some of this asbestos destined for use in infrastructure put in place for the Games? [Read full article]

Japan's Asbestos Analytical Method Fails to Meet ISO Requirements

Sep 30, 2010

Technical experts working on the analysis of asbestos-containing material in Japan query current government standards. Tests carried out in 2009 using Japanese-approved methods failed to identify any asbestos content in approximately 47% of the positive (asbestos-containing) blind reference samples and grossly underestimated the asbestos content in approximately 20% of the samples. The continued use of techniques which do not comply with best international practice is now under scrutiny. [Read full article]

Asbestos Meetings in Brazil

Sep 28, 2010

A series of high-profile meetings held in Brasilia, Maceio, Simões Filho, Rio de Janeiro and Osasco over nearly two weeks generated an avalanche of media attention in the local and national media. The international seminar entitled Asbestos and its harmful affects, a socio-judicial approach which took place in the capital on August 30-31, considered the means by which asbestos victims were seeking restitution in Europe and North America. At other meetings, the launch of the Portuguese translation of an Italian book entitled: The Wool of the Salamander highlighted the personal tragedy which lays behind the global asbestos epidemic. [Read full article]

Thailand's Asbestos Time Bomb

Sep 27, 2010

It came as no surprise when news was published this summer that Thailand had reported its first case of mesothelioma. For over 40 years, Thailand has been importing asbestos; in recent years, it has been amongst the world's top 7 consuming countries. Although the vast majority of asbestos used in Thailand comes from the Russian Federation, imports also come from Brazil and Canada. Considerable pressure has been exerted by these supplier countries on the Thai Government to uphold the status quo which permits the use of asbestos. [Read full article]

New Evidence on Asbestos

Sep 27, 2010

If more evidence were needed of the deadly hazard posed by exposure to asbestos, then it could be found in recently published papers in peer-reviewed journals. Malignant Mesothelioma Among Employees of a Connecticut Factory that Manufactured Friction Materials Using Chrysotile Asbestos and Asbestosis and mesothelioma among British asbestos workers (1971-2005) document the elevated incidence of mesothelioma and asbestosis amongst asbestos-exposed workers in the United States and the United Kingdom and the ongoing failure to recognize these cases as occupationally-caused. [Read full article]

Commemorating The Global Asbestos Congress 2000

Sep 17, 2010

From September 17-20, 2000, the landmark Global Asbestos Congress (GAC 2000) took place in Osasco, Brazil. This was a truly revolutionary event which, for the first time, brought together hundreds of asbestos victims, campaigners, trade unionists, and medical and scientific experts from around the world. The momentum achieved by the initiatives discussed in Brazil and implemented thereafter have impacted on positions adopted by international agencies, labor federations and consumer groups. In the years since GAC 2000, the power of campaigning groups to influence national and global asbestos debates has become manifest. [Read full article]

Warning to Asbestos Investors

Sep 1, 2010

News that financial resources for a struggling asbestos mine in Quebec might be forthcoming from investors in India and the UK was reported at the end of August by the Canadian media. This possibility, which is an anathema to asbestos victim support groups in both countries, led to widespread condemnation from groups representing civil society around the world. In a press statement issued on September 1, 2010, ban asbestos campaigners from India and the UK warned that concerted action would be taken against companies that invest in this deadly industry. [Read full article]

Support for Asian Asbestos Ban

Aug 20, 2010

Unionists affiliated with the Building and Woodworkers International held a conference on asbestos in Indonesia in August 2010. The South East Asia Regional Conference on Asbestos provided opportunities for in-depth discussions on ways to progress the ban asbestos agenda in Asia. At the conclusion of the conference, a statement calling on Canada to end the mining and export of chrysotile asbestos and condemning plans by the Quebec Government for a multimillion dollar loan to industry stakeholders was adopted. Conference organizer Apolinar Tolentino Jr. said that the meeting marked a significant step forward in Asia's fight-back against asbestos. [Read full article]

Mexico's Asbestos Debate

Aug 13, 2010

A campaign by people living in a working class area of Mexico City has propelled the Mexican asbestos scandal onto the national agenda. People in Iztapalapa, who have been plagued by noxious smells and yellow dust emanating from a local asbestos-brake linings factory, have finally attracted the attention of the media, politicians and other groups representing civil society. Pollution by the American Roll factory is, they say, responsible for 10 cancer deaths of local people. Community activists are calling for the factory to be shut down on grounds of public health. [Read full article]

Landmark Ruling by Spanish Court

Aug 13, 2010

This Summer, a Spanish court issued a landmark decision which, for the first time, compensated victims whose exposure to asbestos took place environmentally. The 45 claimants lived in the Barcelona suburb where an asbestos-cement factory owned by Uralita, a multinational construction materials company, was located. Uralita, which is appealing the decision, was ordered to pay a total of 3.9 million euros ($4.9 m) by the Madrid Court for "damage to the lungs, leading in some cases to death," to the injured or surviving family members. [Read full article]

Asbestos-free Europe by 2023?

Aug 13, 2010

Despite the European Union's asbestos ban, contaminated materials in national infrastructures continue to endanger the lives of Europeans. The European Federation of Building and Woodworkers (EFBWW) has delineated plans to make Europe asbestos-free by 2023 in presentations to the European Parliament and labor gatherings, in published material and in ongoing consultations with trade unions. Having designated the asbestos hazard as a priority issue, the EFBWW is working with social partners on the development of practical plans for implementing its campaign; information is available in English, French, Spanish, Italian, Dutch, Danish, German and Finnish. [Read full article]

Launch of Farsi Translation of Killing the Future

Aug 1 , 2010

Since the English language version of Killing the Future - Asbestos Use in Asia was published, the text has been translated into Japanese, Chinese and Bengali. In June 2010, the Farsi version was released in Tehran. The text, which was translated by Drs. Ramin Mehrdad and Omid Kheirkhah, is being circulated amongst the medical community and academics at the University of Medical Sciences and will shortly be uploaded to the web. Dr. Mehrdad hopes that this monograph will be pivotal in raising awareness of the asbestos hazard in Iran. [Read full article]

Dangers in the Dust

Jul 26, 2010

An astonishing series of newspaper and website articles, podcasts, documentaries, radio programs, commentaries and blogs were rolled out in July under the banner: Dangers in the Dust – Inside the Global Asbestos Trade. Research conducted in 2009-2010 in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Brazil, India, Russia and China revealed a multi-million dollar conspiracy by global asbestos stakeholders designed to encourage sales of hazardous chrysotile asbestos to developing countries. The content, tone and number of pieces generated by this investigation was described by one Canadian journalist as a "public-relations tsunami" for the asbestos industry. [Read full article]

Raising Asbestos Awareness in India

July 20, 2010

For more than two years, a local non-governmental organization has been investigating asbestos issues in Gujarat. In 2009-2010, the Peoples Training And Research Centre has conducted an asbestos outreach program to raise awareness of the hazard amongst various sectors of civil society. The latest meetings in Gujarat, attended by academics, students and medical professionals, took place on Saturday July 17, 2010 in Bhavnagar the nearest big city to the infamous Alang ship-breaking yard. A photographic exhibition on display at the workshop venue graphically illustrated the various facets of India's asbestos challenge. [Read full article]

Canadian Asbestos – Still a Global Concern

July 5, 1010

Canada's National Day - July 1, 2010 - was marked by high-profile activities in Ottawa and London. As day-long celebrations took place in Trafalgar Square, UK protestors mounted a demonstration across the street. Organized by the International Ban Asbestos Secretariat and several trade unions, the demonstration attracted support from key stakeholders such as the Forum of Asbestos Victims' Support Groups and the London Hazards Centre. The protest took place against growing domestic and foreign opposition to plans by the Quebec government to loan $58 million to develop new underground asbestos operations at the Jeffrey Mine. [Read full article]

Further Support for Asbestos Bans

July 5, 2010

Developments in June 2010 evidenced increasing opposition by civil society to the continued use of asbestos. On June 9, 2010 Health Ministers from Mercosur, the Southern Common Market, signed a declaration urging member states to ban asbestos. On June 11, a seminar on asbestos was held in Almaty, the capital of Kazakhstan, to highlight the impact of increasing asbestos production and consumption in Eastern Europe, Caucasus and Central Asia. At the end of the month, the Canadian Cancer Society publicly reiterated its support for a Canadian ban and the ending of asbestos mining operations in Quebec. [Read full article]

Quebec Bailout of Asbestos Mine?

Jun 8, 2010

The Government of Quebec has announced plans to provide a $58 million loan to finance the completion of work on underground facilities at the Jeffrey Chrysotile Mine. Accessible asbestos deposits at Quebec's two remaining asbestos mines, both of which are operating under bankruptcy protection, are nearly exhausted. Should these plans proceed, Canada will be capable of producing 200,000 tonnes of asbestos annually, virtually all of which will be shipped abroad. Critic Kathleen Ruff questions "how two supposedly business-minded political leaders are risking public funds … to resuscitate an industry that is notorious for its record of economic disaster…" [Read full article]

Alcoa's Australian Workers Exposed to Illegal Asbestos Gaskets

Jun 8, 2010

Despite the implementation of an Australian ban on all types of asbestos and asbestos products which was adopted in 2003, a steady flow of contaminated products into the country continues to pose an ongoing threat to workers. Recent incidents in Western Australia document the import of asbestos-containing gaskets from China and Thailand by major corporations such as Alcoa World Alumina and Woodside, an oil and gas exploration company. As a result of the incidents documented in this article, it is possible that hundreds of factory, maritime and dockside workers were exposed to asbestos. [Read full article]

Japan - Good News, Bad News

Jun 3, 2010

On June 1, 2010, the Japanese Government appealed against a historic judgment by the Osaka District Court which held the national authorities liable for asbestos-related diseases contracted by former workers. Considering the huge repercussions of this judgment, it was always likely the Government would mount a challenge. Announcing the Government's decision to appeal, the Minister for National Policy Yoshito Sengoku referred to numerous points of contention in the decision and the fact that claimants, who had already received payouts under the labor accident compensation insurance scheme, should not be awarded additional payments. [Read full article]

The British Asbestos Newsletter, Twentieth Anniversary Issue

Jun 1, 2010

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the first appearance of the British Asbestos Newsletter. Over the past two decades the newsletter has performed an invaluable role in documenting legal and medical developments in the campaign against asbestos hazards and ensuring that knowledge is disseminated both here and abroad. The Twentieth Anniversary Edition, which includes a wide range of contributions from voluntary sector campaigners, MPs, lawyers, medical professionals, trade unionists and historians, highlights how the existence of separate legal jurisdictions in Great Britain has resulted in differing outcomes for victims. [Read full article]

Asbestos at the United Nations

Jun 1, 2010

Asbestos was on the agenda of the 18th session of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development which took place in early May 2010. A well-attended side event, organized by Women in Europe for a Common Future, examined the asbestos hazard in the context of European and Asian countries still producing and using asbestos. Speakers from Kazakhstan and Indonesia detailed a worrying situation in which there are no regulations on the use or dumping of asbestos and no attempt to quantify the occupational or environmental impact hazardous exposures are having on the population. [Read full article]

Beware the Ides of May!

May 18, 2010

Developments which unfolded in mid-May revealed the growing antipathy to the continued export of Canadian asbestos. On Wednesday, May 12, 2010, a series of high profile ban asbestos events in Ottawa generated mass participation and considerable media coverage. On May 13, the World Health Organization launched a new document which highlighted the urgent need to phase out asbestos use, and on May 14, community activists in Mexico City protested the risk to local people of environmental asbestos pollution generated by an American-owned factory. All in all, not a good week for asbestos stakeholders and lobbyists. [Read full article]

Canadian Minister's Asbestos Lie!

May 16, 2010

A letter received from Canada's Minister of Foreign Affairs Lawrence Cannon on May 7, 2010 so angered a UK asbestos victims support group that they issued a press release headlined "Canadian Minister's Asbestos Lie!" Calling the Minister's reply "disingenuous," the MAVSG statement denounced Canadian authorities for aiding and abetting the asbestos industry: "Just as a drug pusher is responsible for the fatal overdose of a heroin addict, so the Canadian and Quebec Governments are responsible for thousands of asbestos deaths in the UK and around the world." [Read full article]

Community Protest in Mexico

May 17

On May 14, 2010 news was circulated on the internet of a broadly based protest against an American owned factory which produces asbestos-containing brake linings in Iztapalapa, a borough of Mexico City with nearly 2 million residents. The toxic factory, which has been operational for more than 20 years, is located in a residential area in close proximity to a number of schools. A local spokesperson says that official requests are being made to the Legislative Assembly to expropriate the industrial site and to the Environment Ministry to close the factory. [Read full article]

Asbestos on Agenda of Taiwan Conference

May 15, 2010

A conference on occupational and environmental medicine took place in Taipei, Taiwan on April 20-25, 2010. As the theme of the event was Occupational Health under Globalization and New Technology, various asbestos-related issues were the subject of discussion. On April 22, there were three symposiums which focused on the diagnosis of mesothelioma, asbestos-related disease epidemiology and potential lessons from a multidisciplinary French-Japanese research project on silicosis and asbestos-related diseases. A declaration calling for a Global Ban on Asbestos was signed by 160 delegates from 18 countries. [Read full article]

China's Asbestos Challenge

May 10, 2010

Even if China banned the use of asbestos tomorrow, the country would be left with a massive challenge posed by the widespread contamination of the national infrastructure. A classic example of how the massive use of asbestos impacts on the daily life of the population can be seen in the village of Ma Shi Po where "asbestos is present everywhere." As a result of unsafe and unregulated demolition work carried out in 2008-2010 on scores of asbestos-roofed houses in the village, workers and local residents have received hazardous exposures to asbestos. [Read full article]

Canadian Duplicity Denounced by Unions in the Philippines

May 3, 2010

The release of Canadian asbestos data just days before International Workers Memorial Day ratcheted up union anger in the Philippines over Canada's double standards in exporting a product too hazardous to use at home; 93% of asbestos imports to the Philippines come from Canada. According to union official Apolinar Tolentino Jr: "representatives of the Canadian Government have shown a callousness and ruthless disregard for the lives of Asian workers. This disregard is, without doubt, a form of racism which values our lives as being worth less than those of Canadian workers." [Read full article]

Ban Asbestos Mobilization in India

May 3, 2010

Opposition to India's fatal reliance on asbestos continues to grow. Grass-roots bodies, public health campaigners and trade unionists are pursuing strategies to highlight the human and environmental consequences of Indian asbestos consumption. In 2008, the use of 348,538 tonnes of asbestos made India the world's 3rd largest asbestos market; since 2004, consumption has risen by 83%. Cumulative asbestos usage in India has been estimated at 7,343,612 tonnes. To put this figure into context, the UK's consumption of 6 million tonnes has produced the country's worst epidemic of occupational disease and death. [Read full article]

“An Asbestos Free Mekong”

May 1, 2010

Following the establishment of the Vietnam–Australia Awareness and Diseases Prevention Project, delegates at a Hanoi seminar considered ways to protect occupational health in a country which continues to use vast quantities of asbestos. "In 2008, the output of asbestos production reached nearly 100 million square meters of tiles and in 2009 that output was 75 million square meters." According to a government expert: "in some enterprises, the dust volume is 11 [times] higher than standards." As a result of unsafe working conditions, there is a high incidence of chronic diseases amongst workers in asbestos-using factories in Vietnam. [Read full article]

Former Executives Jailed in Italy

Apr 30, 2010

On April 26, 2010 it was reported that former executives from a Sicilian shipbuilding company had been convicted of negligent homicide after the asbestos-related deaths of 37 former workers. The three executives from the Fincantieri company were sentenced to prison terms of three years to seven and a half years and ordered to pay several million euros in compensation to the injured workers or surviving family members. The company continued to use asbestos until 1999, even though Italian legislation adopted in 1992 had banned its use. [Read full article]

Literature Update

May 1, 2010

An escalation of asbestos-related disease in Europe and Asia has led medical researchers and scientists in Spain and Japan to consider ways to quantify the current situation, predict future trends and delineate useful protocols for addressing the fall-out from decades of asbestos use. Papers published in 2010 consider ways to address the emerging epidemics of malignant mesothelioma in the Barcelona province of Northern Spain and asbestos-related lung cancer and malignant mesothelioma in Japan. [Read full article]

Asbestos Focus on International Workers' Memorial Day

April 19, 2010

Asbestos will be a focus of events held to mark the occurrence of International Workers' Memorial Day 2010. National governments, international agencies, global labor federations, and trade unions around the world recognize April 28 as a day when we rededicate our efforts to "Remember the Dead" and "Fight for the Living." It is ironic that International Workers' Memorial Day originated in Canada, a country which continues to lead global marketing efforts and propaganda campaigns mounted to promote sales of asbestos, a substance universally recognized as carcinogenic. [Read full article]

Asian Asbestos Workshop

Apr 21, 2010

Japan's Ministry of the Environment, in collaboration with Indonesia's Ministry of the Environment, held the "Workshop on Asbestos Management in Asian Countries" in the Indonesian capital in March 2010. In attendance were representatives from Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Philippines, Vietnam and Japan. Amongst these countries, Indonesia and Vietnam are the biggest asbestos users. Subjects under discussion at the workshop included health effects of asbestos and its substitutes, technical procedures for measuring asbestos levels, the management of asbestos-containing waste and future measures against asbestos in Asian countries. [Read full article]

Annual U.S. Asbestos Victims' Conference

Apr 14, 2010

The 6th annual gathering of the Asbestos Diseases Awareness Organization (ADAO) held in Chicago, Illinois from April 9-11, 2010, confirmed the importance of this extremely professional and active victims' group in the national debate on asbestos. The fact that senior members of the Obama administration participated in the conference on April 10 indicates that not only has ADAO's leadership been acknowledged at the highest levels of government but that individual politicans and civil servants recognize the vital role this organization is playing in improving the outcome for asbestos victims and their families. [Read full article]

Korean Asbestos Relief Law

Apr 2, 2010

Celebrations which took place on March 12, 2010 at the national parliament in Seoul marked the passage of Korea's Asbestos Relief Law a fortnight earlier. Amongst the people who gathered for this event were asbestos victims from all over Korea as well as representatives of trade unions and environmental activists. The adoption of legislation to provide compensation for sufferers of mesothelioma, asbestosis and lung cancer who were environmentally exposed to asbestos is a major achievement. This law is the first ever passed in Korea which recognizes and compensates victims of environmental disease. [Read full article]

Tackling Asbestos Contamination in India and Rwanda

Mar 30, 2010

Action on pollution caused by the widespread use of asbestos building products is being taken in India and Rwanda. A ruling by the Kerala State Human Rights Commission, which considered the problem caused by asbestos roofing of schools, recommended a phased removal of all contaminated roofs and a ban on future use of such toxic materials. In Rwanda, the Government has acknowledged the challenge posed by asbestos roofing of public buildings and private residences. The removal of contaminated roofing has been designated as a priority and plans have been implemented to raise workers' awareness of the asbestos hazard. [Read full article]

John Bridle's Claim Struck Out

Mar 23, 2010

On March 17, 2010, High Court Justice Master Fontaine struck out a claim for slander brought by John Bridle, a former asbestos businessman, a shareholder and former director of Asbestos Watchdog and an asbestos consultant, against the Health and Safety Executive, finding that the lawsuit was an abuse of process. The Judge stated that "the Claimants' motive in instituting these proceedings is not to protect and vindicate Professor Bridle's reputation but rather to prevent the HSE from pursuing its current policy and provide a platform for a public debate about the risks posed by white asbestos." [Read full article]

The Day of Reckoning: Eternit on Trial

Mar 22, 2010

A series of meetings which took place in Turin, Italy on March 14-16, 2010 brought together asbestos victims' representatives, ban asbestos activists, legal practitioners and other experts from Europe, Latin America and Asia to exchange information about the negligence of multinational companies belonging to the global asbestos giant Eternit, and to develop strategies for providing practical assistance and information to Italian prosecutors currently involved in legal proceedings on behalf of thousands of claimants injured by occupational or environmental exposure to Eternit asbestos in towns such as Casale Monferrato. [Read full article]

Canadian Dollars for "Corporate Serial Killers"

Mar 21, 2010

Despite mounting outrage over Canada's pivotal role in the global pro-asbestos lobby, the Ottawa Government continues to support the work of the Chrysotile Institute (CI), a Montreal-based trade body set up primarily to market asbestos. On March 18, 2010, a parliamentary motion was tabled at a meeting of the Natural Resources Committee to continue annual federal funding of $250,000 for the CI. MP Pat Martin, who is an outspoken critic of the Conservative Government's asbestos policy, categorized Ottawa's funding of the CI as "corporate welfare for corporate serial killers." "The asbestos lobby is," he said "the tobacco lobby's evil twin…" [Read full article]

Asbestos Campaigners Meet UK Minister

Mar 11, 2010

On March 10, 2010, campaigners held discussions with John Healey, the Housing and Regeneration Minister, on the fate of a derelict industrial site, formerly home to the world's largest asbestos factory. A satisfactory environmental survey has never been carried out on the land where factory employees were routinely instructed to dump asbestos waste throughout the 20th century. Current moves by developers, who want to build hundreds of homes on this site, include requests for government money to fund detailed site investigations and the possibility of a public-private partnership for residential development. The campaigners suggested another way forward. [Read full article]

Brazil's Asbestos Cavalcade

Mar 9, 2010

On March 4, 2010, the townspeople of Avaré, Brazil marked the departure from their community of tonnes of asbestos waste with fireworks, celebrations, speeches and gifts. In 1998, around 250 tonnes of contaminated waste had been found abandoned in an old shed on the premises of a derelict industrial site once owned by an auto parts company called AUCO. The bankrupt company did not respond to multiple calls from municipal authorities to decontaminate the site. The resolution of this toxic problem was a result of protracted negotiations and discussions between town officials and authorities representing federal and state agencies. [Read full article]

Parliamentary Presentation to Asbestos Victims' Champion

Mar 9, 2010

In the countdown to the General Election, the final meeting took place of the Asbestos Sub-Committee. As the Chairperson of this body Michael Clapham MP, is retiring at the end of the Parliamentary Session, this was the last meeting over which he was due to preside. Mick, as he is universally known, played a pivotal role not only in the formation of the Sub-Committee but also in lobbying Government for measures to improve the lives of asbestos sufferers. During the course of the March 3, 2010 meeting, a presentation was made to Mick by representatives of UK asbestos victims. [Read full article]

Repeat Call to Ban Asbestos

Mar 9, 2010

In 1999, the Collegium Ramazzini, one of the world's most most eminent academic societies, issued a document supporting global efforts to ban asbestos. A decade on, the Collegium has revisited this issue and, once again, indicated the urgency for decisive action by national governments and international agencies to protect human health from hazardous occupational and environmental exposures: "All forms of asbestos are proven human carcinogens. All forms of asbestos cause malignant mesothelioma, lung, laryngeal, and ovarian cancers, and may cause gastrointestinal and other cancers. No exposure to asbestos is without risk, and there is no safe threshold of exposure to asbestos." [Read full article]

UK Asbestos News: Good and Bad

Feb 26, 2010

February 25, 2010 was a day of mixed results with some outstanding successes and a few disappointments for campaigners on UK asbestos issues. Whilst there was good news for supporters of the Asbestos In Schools campaign and some asbestos victims, the Government's refusal to overturn an iniquitous 2007 Law Lords ruling came as a major blow to pleural plaques sufferers in England and Wales. British insurers, however, have reason to celebrate their good fortune as the package announced yesterday is worth over £1 billion to them. [Read full article]

Australian Exhibition Highlights Asbestos Grief

Feb 25, 2010

On February 26, 2010, a photographic exhibition opened in Tasmania which highlighted the personal tragedies of Australia's asbestos epidemic by focusing on those left behind. This event is the fourth in a national tour; one of the sponsors is the Australian Workers' Union (AWU) which has led calls for a national decontamination program which would make Australia asbestos-free by 2030. The AWU is lobbying for a range of measures to deal with the national asbestos legacy including setting up a national register of asbestos-related diseases, a national asbestos taskforce and a register of asbestos-contaminated buildings. [Read full article]

India Rejects Asbestos Premier

Feb 13, 2010

Events on February 1 and 5, 2010 in Mumbai and New Delhi demonstrate the increasing ban asbestos mobilization occurring in India. The activists, who work closely with victims of occupational and environmental asbestos exposure, are determined to expose the hypocrisy of a developed country like Canada dumping an unwanted toxic substance on Indian markets. To this end, they organized demonstrations, press conferences and informal meetings to coincide with the visit of Quebec's Premier Jean Charest and a large trade delegation to India. The outrage expressed during these activities has been reported by English and French-speaking media throughout Canada [Read full article]

Mexico's Asbestos Plague

Feb 13, 2010

The publication of the March 2010 issue of the American Journal of Industrial Medicine attracted media attention in Canada as a result of a paper entitled Case-Control Study of Pleural Mesothelioma in Workers with Social Security in Mexico. It is a rare occurrence for a statistical analysis of epidemiological data to hit the headlines; however, the conclusion of the scientists who authored this paper was categorical: Canadian asbestos is to blame for Mexico's asbestos epidemic. The findings of this paper and the call for action by the Mexican Government issued by its authors are evidence of growing opposition to Canada's asbestos policy. [Read full article]

Vietnam Initiative on Asbestos

Feb 11, 2010

On February 9, 2010, an asbestos project was launched in Hanoi by the National Institute of Labour Protection (NILP), part of the Vietnam General Confederation of Labour, in collaboration with the Australian Council of Trade Unions' international humanitarian agency, Union Aid Abroad - APHEDA, and the Australian Manufacturing Workers' Union. Within the NILP, a National Resource Center on Asbestos is being set up to conduct health monitoring of asbestos-exposed workforces, investigate non-asbestos roofing materials and produce training material. Vietnam is currently the 8th largest user of asbestos worldwide and the 5th largest user in Asia. [Read full article]

Britain's Mesothelioma Epidemic

Feb 14, 2010

Figures released last year confirmed anecdotal reports of a continuing rise in the incidence of the asbestos cancer, mesothelioma. Statistics from the Health and Safety Executive document an ongoing epidemic which in 2007 led to 2,156 deaths (1,812 male and 344 female). The most common occupations on death certificates for male victims were: carpenters and joiners, plumbers, heating and ventilating engineers, and electricians. Although Britain plc has explored numerous legal, political and financial options to avoid its asbestos liabilities, the threat posed by increasing claims must be addressed says a report entitled Mesothelioma Claims by insurance broker Marsh Ltd. [Read full article]

Death of Brazilian Asbestos Victim

Feb 12, 2010

Days before he was due to be deposed by his American lawyer, Brazilian asbestos victim Dante Untura Filho died from malignant mesothelioma. He leaves behind a grieving partner, bereaved relatives, friends and workmates. Understanding the link between the occupational asbestos exposure he experienced during his employment at the local Alcoa plant and the disease he contracted, Dante embarked upon a quest for justice. In January 2010, a complaint was filed in Pennslyvania by his legal representatives which alleged that Alcoa Inc. was guilty of negligence, outrageous conduct, conspiracy, breach of warranty, misrepresentation and other charges. [Read full article]

Tribute to Michel Vernier (1942-2009)

Feb 13, 2010

Michel Vernier was at the forefront of the pursuit for workers' health and union representation in Belgium. During the 31 years he worked for Eternit, he kept a watching brief on the incidence of illness amongst his fellow workers at the Coverit factory; he was one of the first to observe the link between their illnesses and their asbestos employment. As a consequence of his occupational asbestos exposure, he contracted asbestosis and later mesothelioma. His death on December 13, 2009 was the 154th asbestos fatality amongst the 267 workers made redundant when the plant closed in 1987. [Read full article]

Scientists condemn Quebec's asbestos exports

Jan 28, 2010

Scores of prominent scientists from 28 countries have issued a challenge to the Premier of Quebec over his province's asbestos policy. Premier Jean Charest, due to travel to India on January 31, has been accused of putting politics before public health in his continued support for the asbestos industry in the face of damning evidence of a growing asbestos epidemic in Quebec mining regions and a global consensus that exposure to asbestos is hazardous to human health. The challenge comes just days before Charest is due to depart on a trade mission to India, Quebec's biggest asbestos customer. [Read full article]

A Quiet Anniversary

Jan 27, 2010

Nowadays, it is rare to find a product or service which has performed reliably for thirty years. Say, for example, a service which has been offered week in and week out by a core of dedicated individuals who have, at the same time as providing support for the injured, also driven forward improvements in the political, legal and social climate. The Asbestos Diseases Society of Australia (ADSA) is such a service. Formed in 1979 to meet the needs of ailing asbestos mineworkers, the ADSA is now one of the world's foremost authorities on the needs of people with asbestos-related diseases. [Read full article]

Eternit on Trial!

Jan 28, 2010

The timetable set for a trial into the asbestos-related deaths of thousands of Italians, dubbed the Great Asbestos Trial, is bizarre. As hearings are only being held on Mondays from 9 a.m - 2:30 p.m., it is anticipated that the first part of this trial will last "at least 2 years." This scheduling will ensure that most of the seriously ill people on whose behalf this action has been mounted will have died before a resolution is reached. [Read full article]

Remembering the Kobe Earthquake

Jan 20, 2010

More than 6,000 people died as a result of the Great Hanshin earthquake, Japan's worst earthquake in decades. To mark the 15th anniversary of the natural disaster, several events were held on January 16 & 17, 2010 in Kobe; the subject matter discussed included the consequences of contamination caused by the liberation of asbestos from the built environment. At the street demonstration, meeting and symposium which were held to mark this tragedy, discussions centered on the lessons which could be learned and the practical steps which could be taken to protect the population. [Read full article]

Control of India's Asbestos Agenda Undermined

Jan 19, 2010

January, often regarded as the saddest month of the year in the northern hemisphere, has not been kind to Indian asbestos stakeholders. Developments this month reflect growing international concern over India's growing consumption of asbestos and illustrate the fears felt by many sectors of civil society over the consequences of using a carcinogen now banned in more than 50 countries. Actions taken by the Collegium Ramazzini, an internationally-recognized body of eminent medical experts, and Brazilian officials highlight the importance of efforts to end India's increasing reliance on asbestos. [Read full article]

Book Review: Killer Company – James Hardie Exposed

Jan 21, 2010

Killer Company, a book recently published in Australia, is a forensic examination of the behavior of Australia's leading asbestos company over several decades. In a review of this book, Dr. Joch McCulloch writes: “Killer Company is a major contribution to the literature on the asbestos industry. The book has grown out of Matt Peacock's sustained engagement with the issue of asbestos and health. It is based on long hours of archival work sorting through Hardie's internal correspondence. Peacock has also interviewed many of the key players. The result is an insight into the mentality and behavior of an important asbestos company.” [Read full article]

Pressure on Canada's Pro-Asbestos Policy

Jan 12, 2010

International outrage, scientific warnings and political discontent are contributing to the build-up of pressure on the Canadian Government to reverse its asbestos policy. In recent weeks, British asbestos victims, Canadian public health experts and politicans have highlighted the deadly repercussions of Ottawa's pro-asbestos policy while ban asbestos campaigners in India have documented the human cost of increasing asbestos consumption. Even as asbestos mortality increases, Canadian asbestos stakeholders are looking for ways to expand production and increase sales to the developing world. [Read full article]

Publication of IBAS Report on Asian Asbestos Conference 2009

Nov 20, 2009

An IBAS monograph documenting Asia's fight-back against asbestos pollution is being officially launched in December. During the course of asbestos meetings in New Delhi, Bangkok and Sao Paulo, ban asbestos activists Madhumita Dutta, Sanjiv Pandita, Sugio Furuya and Fernanda Giannasi will distribute copies of the monograph, which is a report focusing on the Asian Asbestos Conference 2009 (AAC 2009). Advance copies have already been distributed and a web version of the report is available on this site. Thanks to the detailed work of AAC 2009 speakers, knowledge of current conditions and emerging trends has been greatly improved. [Read full article]

Happy Birthday IBAS!

Nov 18, 2009

With cake and candles, IBAS celebrated it's 10th anniversary amidst friends and colleagues in Osasco, Brazil on November 14, 2009. Osasco, formerly the center of Brazil's asbestos-cement industry, is home to ABREA, the Brazilian association of the asbestos-exposed. From the very earliest days, IBAS worked closely with ABREA officials, members and supporters to highlight the Brazilian asbestos scandal and campaign for a global ban on asbestos. While progress has been made, much remains to be done before the goals of IBAS - a global ban on asbestos and justice for all asbestos victims - are achieved. The struggle continues. [Read full article]

Brazilian Ban Asbestos Mobilization

Nov 20, 2009

Brazil is the 4th largest asbestos producer and the 5th largest asbestos consumer in the world. Across the country, consumption patterns differ, however, as the use and sale of asbestos is banned in four states and several cities. Legislative bans which have been achieved are under attack by the asbestos lobby; vested interests are pursuing diverse strategies to counteract the asbestos prohibitions. A São Paulo State Deputy has recently tabled a bill that could overturn the state asbestos ban. Politicans, asbestos victims and other pro-ban supporters are opposing this retrograde action. [Read full article]

North American Asbestos Revolution

Oct 26, 2009

Even in the absence of asbestos bans in the U.S. and Canada, there is minimal use of asbestos in North America. Nevertheless, asbestos developments in both jurisdictions remain of intense interest to asbestos lobbyists. For decades, Canadian vested interests exploited the political fragility of the Canadian federation to stifle debate on asbestos; however, their ability to silence opponents and dictate that only pro-asbestos messages are broadcast is eroding. Whilst the lack of a U.S. asbestos ban remains of comfort to asbestos propagandists, developments on the West Coast indicate that mobilization of victims will, once again, force this issue onto the political agenda. [Read full article]

Stephan Schmidheiny: Saint or Sinner?

Oct 26, 2009

From the article: "The Bill Gates of Switzerland" in Forbes Magazine, it would appear that Stephan Schmidheiny is a great man, a philanthropist and a visionary whose life is dedicated to promoting good causes. And yet the wealth which underpins his philanthropy comes from the exploitation of asbestos at Eternit factories worldwide. Throughout the Schmidheiny family's global empire, when workers died from asbestos-related diseases, the company denied liability and refused to provide support. Praising Schmidheiny's good works while neglecting the part the family played in the global asbestos epidemic is an insult to the injured. [Read full article]

Asbestos Hazard in Post-Disaster Reconstruction

Oct 26, 2009

A call for new guidelines for emergency reconstruction efforts to avoid mistakes such as using asbestos has been issued by an Australian academic involved in an evaluation of the performance of humanitarian agencies in post-disaster housing. "Some of the houses that were made in Banda Aceh," Dr. David O'Brien said "were made from asbestos. Now you really hope they won't make that kind of mistake again. The people are aware that they are living in asbestos houses. They're not happy about living in asbestos houses." [Read full article]

Asbestos Truth and Consequences in Korea

Oct 26, 2009

Asbestos was widely used in Korea throughout the twentieth century. As a consequence the recent discovery that more than half of Seoul's buildings were contaminated with asbestos should come as no surprise. The confirmation of the asbestos hazard in the built environment has further exacerbated the national disquiet over asbestos, an issue which exploded onto the public consciousness earlier this year with the discovery of asbestos contamination of baby powder sold throughout the country. As a result of the public furore and intense media coverage which ensued, asbestos became a hot topic in Korea. [Read full article]

In Remembrance of Dianne Willmore

Oct 15, 2009

Dianne Willmore was a private person who did not seek the limelight. She was a 49-year-old mother of two children who had no interest in becoming a campaigning figure. The mesothelioma diagnosis she received changed all that. When she understood the importance of the link between her asbestos cancer and schoolday exposure to asbestos, she agreed for details of her case to be made public to help others who might be similarly affected. She died just hours after the Court of Appeal upheld a High Court ruling in her favor. [Read full article]

New Asbestos Initiatives in Asia

Oct 6, 2009

The Asian Ban Asbestos Network (A-BAN) which was launched in April 2009 has already implemented a number of measures to raise awareness of the regional asbestos hazard. On September 21, 2009, an A-BAN meeting was held in Phon Penh, Cambodia. A-BAN has produced a series of video clips on asbestos in Asian languages which can be viewed online; work is ongoing on versions in other languages. [Read full article]

Attack on Striking Miners

Oct 6, 2009

On September 25, 2009, police launched an unprovoked attack on a crowd of striking workers and demonstrators at an asbestos mine in Zvishavane, Zimbabwe. In the mayhem which followed a tear gas attack, three workers were shot. A few days later, armed policemen and members of the secret service visited workers' homes and gave them an ultimatum: return to work or leave town. The brutality has been condemned by trade unionists and lawyers in Zimbabwe and South Africa with a labor federation calling for a Parliamentary Commission of Inquiry. [Read full article]

Call for UAE Asbestos Ban

Oct 2, 2009

According to the most recent available data, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) consumes approximately 17,000 tonnes of asbestos every year. The threats posed by the continuing use of asbestos-containing materials were discussed at a meeting on September 29, 2009 in Dubai. Consultant Charles Faulkner, having pointed out the long latency period of asbestos diseases and the widespread complacency about safety standards, called for urgent action to protect workers: "There is," he said, "no reason to use asbestos at all any more. I would like to see it banned completely in this country." [Read full article]

Tenth Anniversary of UK Asbestos Ban

Oct 2, 2009

The Asbestos (Prohibitions) (Amendment) Regulations 1999 ended 100 years of asbestos use in Britain. Although the Labour Government had promised to implement legislation banning asbestos in 1997, it took two years for it to do so. The delay had much to do with pressure from global asbestos stakeholders and fears of becoming embroiled in the case at the World Trade Organization brought by the Canadian Government over the French asbestos ban. Despite the ban, the presence of millions of tonnes of asbestos-containing products within the national infrastructure pose a deadly threat to the health of the population. [Read full article]

Asbestos-free Australia by 2030!

Sep 19, 2009

Campaigning trade unionists have given the Australian government a 2030 deadline to ensure that all asbestos is removed from the country. Calls made by a spokesperson for the Australian Workers Union were endorsed by Tasmania's Minister of Workplace Relations, who reiterated the State's determination to end asbestos pollution and asbestos-related deaths. Although establishing a compulsory asbestos removal program and setting up a national asbestos register would be time-consuming and complex, the ubiquity of asbestos in Australia and the epidemic of related disease mean that action to end the asbestos blight should be a national priority. [Read full article]

U.S. Surgeon General's Asbestos Warning

Sep 18, 2009

Shortly after the new administration of President Obama took office, the Acting Surgeon General, Steven K. Galson, issued a statement warning citizens of the asbestos menace lurking within their homes and workplaces. This long-awaited and important statement received virtually no publicity; as a consequence, the potentially life-saving advice remained unknown until the leading U.S. asbestos victims' group - the Asbestos Diseases Awareness Organization - fell upon it by sheer accident. [Read full article]

Literature Review

Sep 20, 2009

In non-fiction books and academic papers recently published, journalists, epidemiologists and medical experts documented the ubiquity of asbestos pollution in industrialized countries, rising levels of asbestos-related disease and the efficacy of methods to quantify national epidemics in Australia, the U.S and Britain. New research links asbestos exposure not only to the signature diseases of mesothelioma, lung cancer and asbestosis but also to cancers of the colon, larynx and stomach. [Read full article]

Open Letter from Michael Lees

Sep 14, 2009

Although the UK campaign regarding asbestos contamination of schools has gained widespread support from the public, the unions and the media, the HSE continues to dismiss demands made for urgent action as disproportionate. A report of a meeting held on September 3, 2009 is contained in an Open Letter from Michael Lees, whose schoolteacher wife Gina died from asbestos cancer. This letter reveals the frustration felt by campaigners faced by an obdurate government agency which continues to play down and at times distort the truth. [Read full article]

Asbestos Industry Suffers Major Blows in Canada

Sep 4, 2009

In August, the Canadian ban asbestos movement was bolstered by the decision of the Canadian Medical Association which called on the government to ban the mining and export of asbestos, showing that the asbestos industry can no longer count on a silent medical and scientific community. Furthermore, judging by recent statements by the leader of the Liberal Party and two Conservative MPs, the asbestos industry can no longer rely on unquestioning political allies to comply with their demands. [Read full article]

Mobilization in the Philippines

Aug 29, 2009

Industry stakeholders are losing ground in the asbestos debate in the Philippines as a result of actions being taken by various sectors of civil society. In recent months, civic officials launched a lawsuit against a corporate asbestos polluter and indicated that criminal charges would be brought against company officials; trade unionists uncovered a scandal involving workers engaged in illegal asbestos removal operations at the Manila Thermal Power Plant; elected representatives considered plans to adopt a national ban on asbestos. [Read full article]

Asbestos Hazard Taking Center Stage

Aug 28, 2009

In Australia and Taiwan, asbestos made headline news in August. Towards the end of the month, major news programs focusing on the asbestos hazard were broadcast which highlighted the risks to people experiencing exposures to asbestos-containing products at work and at home. Representatives from the Asbestos Diseases Society of Australia and the Taiwan Association for Victims of Occupational Injuries participated in these programs; the work of NGOs such as these is pivotal in the fight for victims' rights. [Read full article]

Manoel de Souza, Another Victim of Asbestos, Dies

Aug 27, 2009

The final article in the 2008 series written by Brazilian journalist Conceição Lemes has now been translated into English. This article documents her investigation into the betrayal of Brazilian asbestos victims, such as Manoel de Souza, by medical experts linked to the asbestos industry. The lack of transparency regarding corporate influence is also polluting supposedly “independent research” conducted by individuals financed by the asbestos industry. Amongst the conflicts of interest investigated in this piece are those relating to the work of Dr. Mário Terra Filho, Ericson Bagatin, and Luiz Eduardo Nery. [Read full article]

The Wheels of Justice

Aug 14, 2009

When it comes to asbestos, the dog days of Summer bring no respite to asbestos defendants whether they are negligent corporations or businessmen whose operations contributed to hazardous occupational or community exposures. During the Summer months, major developments have taken place in a slew of countries which illustrate that while the wheels of justice may grind exceedingly slowly, the net is closing around those who blithely engaged in the commercial exploitation of asbestos regardless of the human and environmental consequences of so doing. [Read full article]

Asbestos Policies of Major International Agencies

Aug 13, 2009

There is agreement amongst independent bodies and experts that given the deadly nature of all types of asbestos, its use should be banned. Resolutions and decisions taken by major organizations - including the International Labor Organization, the World Health Organization, the Collegium Ramazzini, the International Agency for Research on Cancer, the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions and the World Bank - reflect this consensus. [Read full article]

Argentinean Asbestos Lawsuit in the U.S.

Aug 14, 2009

Former workers from a DuPont Company factory in Mercedes, Argentina are suing the company in Delaware for negligent asbestos exposures which are alleged to have taken place in Argentina; the litigants, all of whom contracted asbestos cancer or asbestosis, say they were occupationally exposed to asbestos pipe insulation. The lawsuit is being brought under the terms of The 1853 Treaty of Friendship, Commerce and Navigation between Argentina and the United States. [Read full article]

The Mystery of Canada's Disappearing Asbestos

Aug 17, 2009

The Canadian asbestos industry is on the verge of collapse. Only one asbestos mining company remains in business and this company - LAB Chrysotile - has filed for bankruptcy protection. Export volumes of LAB chrysotile decreased by 77% between June 2008 and June 2009 going from ~1,100,000 kilograms to ~250,000 kgs. In June 2009, only one order was shipped by the mine. Whereas Canada once upon a time was the world's largest asbestos supplier, it is now ranked 5th in global league tables. A far cry from the glory days when chrysotile asbestos was known as Canada's "white gold." [Read full article]

Literature Review

Aug 15, 2009

Recently published academic papers documented the reasons for: the serious underreporting of asbestosis cases in Canada, the government to implement a comprehensive compensation scheme for all asbestos victims in South Korea, the increase in pleural cancer amongst a cohort of chrysotile asbestos miners from Balangero, Italy and the intractable pain reported by pleural plaque sufferers in the U.S. [Read full article]

“Swiss” Asbestos Expert was paid by the Brazilian Asbestos Industry

Sep 28, 2008

Another article in the 2008 series written by Brazilian journalist Conceição Lemes has now been translated into English. This article documents her investigation into the consultancy work of Dr. David Bernstein; revealing his most favored status with the asbestos industry, the large sums of money he has received from his asbestos paymasters, the failure of his work to be recognized by international agencies or independent scientists and how Brazil's asbestos industry – led by the Brazilian Chrysotile Institute – has used his research "findings" for propaganda purposes. [Read full article]

Not Everyone Loves Canada!

Jul 3, 2009

July 1, 2009 marked Canada's 142nd anniversary. The day was celebrated by Canadians at home and abroad including a party held in Trafalgar Square. At an event in Ottawa, Prime Minister Stephen Harper boasted "we celebrate the most peaceful, prosperous, and enduring democracy the world has ever known." And yet, many victims of Quebec asbestos do not subscribe to the image Canadians have of their country; demonstrations and protests made on July 1 voiced their condemnation of Canada's role in the global asbestos lobby. [Read full article]

Literature Review

Jun 30, 2009

Recent papers in academic journals detail the human consequences of asbestos use in Canada, the United States, Australia and Japan. Data in these documents confirm the elevated risk to construction workers of occupational asbestos exposures and the hazardous repercussions of environmental asbestos exposure. Research by an Australian author describes state-of-the-art techniques for calculating risks posed by asbestos-contaminated soil and suggests a new protocol to deal with this issue in Australia while a paper by Dr. David Egilman attempts to "peer review the use of certain scientific methods in tort litigation and in testimony before regulatory agencies." [Read full article]

Canada's Ugly Secret

Jun 18, 2009

On June 10, 2009, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation prime-time national news featured a documentary on the use of Canadian asbestos in India which included footage of workers picking up piles of asbestos fiber with their bare hands to feed into processing equipment; with absolutely no health and safety precautions, fiber and dust were pervasive throughout the textile plant. In just 15 minutes, this stunning piece of investigative journalism exposed the fallacy underpinning the asbestos industry's commercial propaganda; showing there is no such thing as the safe use of asbestos. [Read full article]

Fat Cats and British Insurers

Jun 19, 2009

On June 9, 2009, UK asbestos victims' groups mounted a lively demonstration outside the London venue where the Association of British Insurers (ABI) was holding its biennial conference. The protestors highlighted the injustice meted out to asbestos victims, many of whom are denied compensation due to the inability to trace Employers' Liability insurance policies. Demonstrators dressed in fat-cat costumes sported big cigars and magnums of champagne to draw attention to the high life enjoyed by the insurers who continue to profit at the expense of the asbestos-injured. [Read full article]

Good News, Bad News for Libby

Jun 19, 2009

Just weeks after the W. R. Grace Company, the asbestos polluter of Libby, Montana, was found not guilty of violating the Clean Air Act, the U.S. Government took a historic step when the Environmental Protection Agency declared that a public health emergency existed in Lincoln County. This determination, which will translate into much-needed federal funding for medical care and decontamination work, has been welcomed by local campaigners such as Gayla Benefield who called the development: "a giant step forward for the healing of the community..." [Read full article]

Asbestos Reverberations in Australia

Jun 19, 2009

There is no question about the serious repercussions of asbestos use in Australia, a country which ranks amongst the worst affected by asbestos-related disease. In recent weeks, news has revealed widespread contamination of Australian diplomatic posts in Asia and Europe, slipshod and hazardous asbestos removal work in Queensland and continuing efforts by Australian asbestos product manufacturer James Hardie to avoid its asbestos-related liabilities. News which began circulating in mid-June 2009 of a corporate relocation to Ireland came as a surprise to both seasoned Hardie observers and asbestos victims. [Read full article]

Aldo Vicentin: One More Victim of Asbestos

Jul 5, 2008

Last year, a series of articles published in Brazil exploded many of the myths and dirty tricks of Brazilian asbestos stakeholders. The three groundbreaking articles written by journalist Conceição Lemes appeared on Viomundo – a prestigious Portuguese language website run by Brazilian journalist Luiz Carlos Azenha that has a wide readership in Brazil. Now, a group of volunteers, led by Daniel Berman, has undertaken the translation of these pieces, and IBAS is delighted to be able to host the English translation of the first article in the Lemes series; the others will follow in due course [Read full article]

Canadian Political Leaders Face Increased Heat on Asbestos Issue

May 12, 2009

For the past quarter of a century, the Canadian government, as well as the Quebec provincial government, has been funding the Asbestos Institute (recently re-baptized the Chrysotile Institute). As well as giving financial support, the Canadian and Quebec governments each appoint a member of the Institute's board of directors. All major political parties have been stalwart supporters of the national asbestos industry with only one MP willing to challenge the industry in Parliament. Recent developments suggest that this unanimity has ended. [Read full article]

General Motors St. Catharines Cancer Cluster

May 12, 2009

From the late 1950s until the mid-1980s, General Motors employees working on the brake bonding assembly line and calliper assembly line of the GM Components Plant in St. Catharines, Ontario assembled brake assemblies containing asbestos brake linings. ... brake linings were continually ground to a specified thickness; holes were drilled and rivets were punched into them. With the latency period associated with asbestos-related diseases this means that we are now in a time period when a cluster of asbestos-related cancers could be expected to emerge. This is precisely what is happening today. [Read full article]

Asbestos Campaigners Meet British Prime Minister

may 6, 2009

On May 6, 2009, asbestos campaigners Jason Addy and Laurie Kazan-Allen had a private meeting with Prime Minister Gordon Brown; issues raised included: the fatal legacy left by asbestos manufacturing in Britain, the consequences of low level exposures to asbestos, the asbestos contamination of schools and the urgent need for a coordinated national research strategy for medical treatment and cures for asbestos-related diseases. The Prime Minister was responsive to the calls made for improvements having experienced the asbestos tragedy himself through the loss of close friends and colleagues to asbestos cancer. [Read full article]

Landmark Ban Asbestos Conference in China

May 5, 2009

Nearly two years of discussions and planning came to fruition in the Asian Asbestos Conference 2009 (AAC), Hong Kong, April 25-28, 2009. With Asia currently accounting for 58% of asbestos usage and China the largest consumer of asbestos, the choice of location was apposite. More than 200 hundred delegates from 24 countries joined the proceedings which ended with a demonstration in central Hong Kong to mark International Workers' Memorial Day. The event received support and endorsement from grassroots asbestos victims groups, labor federations and international organizations including the ILO, the WHO and the ICOH. [Read full article]

Asbestos Pigeons Coming Home to Roost

May 8, 2009

Recent developments suggest that the fight-back by asbestos victims is succeeding in more and more jurisdictions. While former Eternit company executives are being tried for their role in the fatal exposures received by thousands of Italians, ten businessmen were condemned by an Australian Court for misleading the public in a James Hardie press release. With recent conferences in China and Kazakhstan, the flow of information on asbestos hazards is intensifying. In Russia, the biggest asbestos exporter, a collapse in demand for asbestos has hit wages and company profits. Maybe the world can live without Russian asbestos. [Read full article]

First International Asbestos Conference in Kazakhstan

May 5, 2009

Asbestos is big business in Kazakhstan; in 2007, it was the world's 3rd largest producer and consumer of chrysotile asbestos. Despite a global consensus about the carcinogenic nature of chrysotile, in Kazakhstan there are no rules imposed on its production. As a result of collaborative efforts of European and Kazakh NGOs, the first public debate on asbestos issues took place in Kazakhstan on April 20-21, 2009 during The International Expert Conference on Asbestos and POPs: Policies and Practices in Kazakhstan and the European Union. [Read full article]

Annual Conference by U.S. Victims' Group

Apr 2, 2009

It was fitting that the 2009 conference of the Asbestos Diseases Awareness Organization (ADAO) took place in Manhattan Beach, California. For it was in this small town that Alan Reinstein was diagnosed with mesothelioma in 2003. From the chaos, frustration and eventual tragedy that flowed from that diagnosis, a new grass-roots group - the ADAO - was born. Attending this year's events were members of the Manhattan Beach community; local people who had helped the Reinsteins through the dark days joined with other members of the ADAO community to raise awareness of the global impact of asbestos. [Read full article]

Japanese Asbestos Protests

Apr 4, 2009

The anger of Japanese asbestos victims shows no sign of abating. In the run-up to the 3rd anniversary of the Asbestos Victims Relief Law, the media was full of reminders of just how far Japanese society still has to go until all the injured receive adequate medical treatment and compensation. At recent meetings and rallies in Tokyo, campaigners reaffirmed their commitment to the continuing struggle. "The asbestos legacy is never ending," said Mrs. Kazuko Furukawa. "Asbestos companies and the government have to hear our voices. We will continue to fight together until justice for all asbestos victims and an asbestos free world is achieved." [Read full article]

The Kubota Coincidence?

Apr 5, 2009

It is a mystery worthy of Agatha Christie that finds a company with the same name, in the same business responsible for the same hazardous consequences of asbestos contamination in Japan and Brazil. And yet, no one has been able to establish a definitive link between Japan's Kubota Corporation and "Grupo Kubota" (Kubota Group) the former owner of an asbestos-contaminated property in São Paulo State. Concerns over the potential public health disaster which the derelict industrial site poses may lead to legal action by municipal or government authorities; should proceedings be instigated, the connection between the two Kubota companies may finally become clear. [Read full article]

Confirmation of Chrysotile Hazard

Apr 3, 2009

For decades, asbestos stakeholders have emulated the discredited practices of tobacco companies in their attempt to protect the image of their product. Just as scientists commissioned by the tobacco companies issued pronouncements that smoking had not been proved to cause lung cancer, so "researchers" paid by the asbestos lobby produce commissioned "science" which is used in pro-chrysotile propaganda. Despite industry's best efforts to create confusion and forestall asbestos bans, independent scientists and international agencies continue to detail the horrific consequences of human exposure to chrysotile. [Read full article]

Asbestos Cement Penguin

Apr 3, 2009

In 1975, the seaside town of Penguin, Tasmania commemorated its 100th anniversary. The centrepiece of the celebration was 3 metre high asbestos cement penguin. It was made by Goliath Portland Cement Company in Railton, Tasmania, which manufactured asbestos cement products from 1947 to 1986. The penguin became the focus of debate in 2008 when former Goliath asbestos cement worker, Laurie Appleby, who has asbestosis, and the Australian Workers Union told the media it contained asbestos. An inspection and a risk assessment was done which confirmed that the penguin was made of asbestos cement. [Read full article]

Action Mesothelioma Day 2009

Mar 12, 2009

The 4th annual Action Mesothelioma Day was marked throughout the UK with events, ceremonies and services to commemorate the victims of an epidemic which continues to cause thousands of deaths every year. As in previous years, asbestos victims' groups organized informative programs and convivial social events which created a public space for sufferers and relatives to come together on February 27. In town halls, cathedrals, meeting rooms and offices, campaigning groups and concerned individuals found their own way to mark a day which is rapidly becoming a de facto national asbestos awareness day. [Read full article]

Victory for French Victims' Group

Mar 13, 2009

On March 3, 2009, a lawsuit mounted by Canadian asbestos stakeholders against ANDEVA, the French Asbestos Victims' Organization, collapsed. As proceedings were due to commence in Paris for "public criminal libel of a private individual," the President of the 17th Criminal Court received a letter which informed him that the (Canadian) Chrysotile Institute had withdrawn from the case. Marc Hindry, one of the accused, interpreted this as confirmation that the allegations on the ANDEVA website about the Chrysotile Institute "were accurate." [Read full article]

Philippines: Trade Union Mobilization

Mar 13, 2009

On March 5, 2009 trade unionists representing 18 Philippine centers/unions, federations, Global Union Federation (GUF) affiliates and local unions met in Quezon City, Manila to discuss forming a Philippines Trade Union Ban Asbestos Network. A joint communiqué signed by the majority of participants at the meeting affirmed their commitment to a new ban asbestos platform; action to further the strategies delineated will be spearheaded by a Technical Working Group. The March 5 asbestos forum signalled the revitalization of the trade union ban asbestos campaign in the Philippines. [Read full article]

Eternit Pre-trail Maneouvre

Mar 11, 2009

In the run-up to the biggest legal action to be held in Turin, an offer has been made to some members of the class action by a company representing one of the accused. A preliminary investigation of this out-of-court settlement reveals that while it breaks new ground by extending compensation to include local residents from Casale Monferrato as well as former Eternit employees, the amount being offered is derisory. The proposal was made without any consultation with the victims or those representing them and excludes claimants from other towns which were polluted by Eternit asbestos. [Read full article]

In Memory of Nancy Tait

Feb 18, 2009

Nancy Tait was the first citizen's champion for the rights of asbestos victims. The memory of the injustice her family experienced after her husband died from asbestos cancer spurred her to help others; as a result, she established the world's first group for asbestos victims. For more than 40 years, Nancy crossed swords with "so-called" experts, civil servants and industry representatives at coroner's inquests, in court rooms and in parliamentary hearings. She was an outspoken critic of corporate skulduggery and government flimflam. Ironically, the destructive forces which created this "accidental activist" helped make Britain a better place. [Read full article]

In Memory of Henri Pezerat

Feb 18, 2009

The death of toxicologist Henri Pezerat came unexpectedly on February 16, 2009. For over 35 years Henri had sought to make the French government, trade unions and public aware of the horrific legacy asbestos had left in his country. His work was ignored, ridiculed and sometimes dismissed as the ravings of a leftist troublemaker. The massive propaganda campaign waged by vested interests in France neither dissuaded nor deterred him from his course. The scientific papers he published were the lifeblood of the ban asbestos movement; they contained the data and facts to combat the lies being told by industry. [Read full article]

Another Victory in Brazil!

Feb 16, 2009

Things are not going well for the asbestos indusrty in Brazil. As news filtered through that more states plan to ban the use of asbestos, a São Paulo regulator upheld a 2008 decision banning an asbestos advertising campaign which contained "abusive and misleading propaganda." To add further misery to the industry's plight, news was made public on February 13, 2009 that the State University of Campinas, where "research" commissioned by the chrysotile industry has been conducted over many years, had banned the use of asbestos on campus to protect the environment and human health. [Read full article]

Tremolite Contamination in South Korea

Feb 19,2009

At a press conference held at the Seoul headquarters of the Korean Federation of the Environmental Movement on Monday, February 9, 2009, the Ban Asbestos Network of Korea announced that field surveys undertaken in central Korea had found high levels of environmental asbestos pollution. Tremolite asbestos was identified by researchers in a populated area in close proximity to a redundant asbestos mine in Susan county, Jecheon City, Chung-Cheong Buk Province. Medical tests carried out on February 11 of five former mine workers quantified the serious damage asbestos exposure has caused them. [Read full article]

Brazilian Minister Bans Asbestos!

Feb 5,2009

On January 29, 2009, Brazilian Minister Carlos Minc signaled a historic breach in his government's position on chrysotile asbestos when he announced that the Ministry of the Environment (MoE) will prohibit the use of asbestos by all its agencies throughout all its institutions. The Minister predicted that the Health Ministry would be the next government department to ban asbestos. The MoE's ban was, said the Minister, another step in the long campaign to protect workers and society from asbestos. [Read full article]

Asbestos Activism in Korea

Feb 5, 2009

As of January 2009, Korea became the second country in Asia to implement a national ban on asbestos use. Despite this achievement, ban asbestos activists continue their efforts to obtain justice for Koreans injured by exposure to asbestos. Events, organized by Ban Asbestos Korea, which took place on January 20, 2009 raised the profile of the national asbestos debate and called for the establishment of an equitable and efficient system of distributing financial compensation to the injured. [Read full article]

Report on Indian Seminar on Asbestos Hazards

Feb 5,2009

On January 17, 2009, representatives of Indian civil society met in Ahmedabad to consider the country's unfolding asbestos scandal. Delegates from NGOs joined with trade unionists and medical professionals to describe and quantify the fallout from India's increasing asbestos consumption. The plight of workers in asbestos-cement factories, power stations and the construction industry was highlighted. During discussion sessions, individuals affected by asbestos-related diseases spoke out about their situation and urged civil society to take immediate action. [Read full article]

Literature Review

Feb 5,2009

Recently published papers document the rising global tide of asbestos-related disease. An editorial in The Lancet singled out Canada as the "the only high-income country that still mines asbestos (in the form of chrysotile)." The deadly fallout from exposure to chrysotile in China is documented in a recent paper from the American Journal of Industrial Medicine while the work of a pioneering victims' group is discussed by the newspaper: Scotland on Sunday. [Read full article]

Fatal Collapse of Asbestos Roof

Jan 26, 2009

The sudden collapse of a roof on January 18, 2009 resulted in 9 deaths and 100 injuries to people who had been attending services at the evangelical "Reborn in Christ" church in São Paulo. When the dust settled it was discovered that the roof, which had been replaced just a few months previously, had been covered with around 1600 corrugated asbestos cement tiles, the use of which had been banned in 2007. The illegal use of these tiles has caused a media furore and led to fines for both the Church and the company which installed the roof. [Read full article]

Italian Case Against Eternit

Jan 26, 2009

On April 6, 2009, a preliminary hearing into the Eternit Group's allegedly negligent behavior in exposing Italian citizens to asbestos will begin at the Palace of Justice, Turin. This is the culmination of years of research and preparation by Prosecutor Raffaele Guariniello and his team who are mounting the largest legal action to be held in Turin on behalf of nearly 3,000 former Eternit employees, family members and local people who have contracted asbestos-related diseases. [Read full article]

Medical and Legal Developments in Australia

Jan 26, 2009

In Australia, ongoing efforts to address the country's asbestos tragedy have resulted in successful new initiatives. Last month, researchers at the renowned National Centre for Asbestos-Related Diseases announced a medical breakthrough in treatment of the asbestos cancer, mesothelioma. This month the federal government pledged its continuing financial support for asbestos medical research which it says is a national priority. Recent legal successes offer hope to thousands of Australia's motor mechanics who received hazardous occupational exposures to asbestos-contaminated brakes. [Read full article]

Legal Victory for Railway Workers in Japan

Jan 12, 2009

As much of the world prepared for the Christmas festivities, Japanese asbestos victims held their collective breath as they waited for news of a ground-breaking case brought on behalf of two deceased railway workers. On December 25, 2008, the Yokohama City Court announced that the families of Susumu Kato and Mr. Kobayashi would receive the sum of 17 million Yen = $184,222 for the mesothelioma deaths of their relatives. The lawyer who acted for the claimants called the ruling "a victory," and predicted that many of the other 100,000 asbestos-exposed railway workers would file lawsuits for their injuries. [Read full article]

EU Asbestos Derogation

Jan 12, 2009

One thing that campaigners know for certain is that any victory won for the betterment of humanity will only be temporary. When the EU adopted the asbestos directive (1999), there was a time-limited derogation for the use of chrysotile asbestos in "diaphragms used for electrolysis in existing installations." This exemption was always intended to be temporary. Somewhere along the line however, a decision was taken by EU bureaucrats to contravene the intent of the directive. That they did so in secrecy and without consultation belies belief and led to calls by MEPs for them to account for their actions. [Read full article]

Environmental Hazard

Jan 12, 2009

Recent studies indicate that people who live near sites where asbestos was processed or mined are at a higher risk of contracting asbestos-related diseases. Italian scientists have confirmed the association between environmental asbestos exposure and mortality from malignant mesothelioma for "people living within a range of up to 500 m centered on the (asbestos-cement) plant." Studies released by the Vermont Department of Health reveal that people in 13 small towns in Vermont in proximity to a redundant chrysotile mine are more likely to die of asbestos-related lung disease than other state residents. [Read full article]

More Asbestos, More Death

Jan 12, 2009

The asbestos lobby continues to promote the myth that asbestos can be used safely under "controlled conditions" in the face of incontrovertible evidence which shows that exposure to asbestos causes disability and death. Two recent publications by scientists in North America and Asia link historical asbestos consumption to national incidences of asbestosis and mesothelioma and provide further proof, if yet more proof were needed, that asbestos should be banned. [Read full article]

Thousands Mount Silent Protest through Paris

Nov 5, 2008

A silent parade snaked through the streets and neighborhoods of Paris on Saturday, October 11, 2008 headed by two super-sized figures representing an asbestos victim and a magistrate. Behind these imposing figureheads came six thousand asbestos victims, their relatives and supporters and grieving family members of those whose lives were cut short by asbestos. With 3,000 French people dying of asbestos-related diseases every year combined with the increased social mobilization of those affected and a heightened public awareness of the issues, ignoring the asbestos debacle is no longer an option for the French Government. [Read full article]

International Toxics Convention Wrecked

Nov 5, 2008

Last week, the nations that have ratified the Rotterdam Convention as well as some observers met in Rome for the 4th Conference of the Parties. These meetings take place every 2 years or so, for the purpose of adding substances to Annex III of the Convention. As on previous occasions, a handful of asbestos stakeholding nations succeeded in blocking any action on chrysotile asbestos; for the time being, toxic corporate crime has prevailed over international public heath. [Read full article]

In Praise of the International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health (IJOEH)

Nov 5, 2008

The IJOEH has been a valuable resource for students of global asbestos issues for many years. Formerly under the supervision of Professor Joe LaDou and Sandra Lovegrove and now under that of Dr. David Egilman and Susana Rankin Bohme, the journal provides a public space for the presentation of asbestos research projects and the discussion of emerging issues. Comments by Dr. Morris Greenberg, Dr. Geoffrey Tweedale and Dr. Barry Castleman highlight the unique nature of this much-valued publication. [Read full article]

“We Will Never Go Away!”

Nov 1, 2008

Dave Holst, a member of branch 143 of the General Boilermakers Union (GMB) summed up the mood of the October 28, 2008 parliamentary lobby on pleural plaques, when he told a packed audience in the Grand Committee Room: "We will never go away!" ... Prior to the 3 p.m. session in the House of Commons, a demonstration had been mounted on College Green, Westminster attended by hundreds of trade unionists, asbestos victims, members of asbestos support groups and others outraged at the 2007 House of Lords decision which shut down pleural plaques compensation. [Read full article]

End of the Road for the Rotterdam Convention

Oct 31, 2008

Despite the negotiations and painstaking efforts taken by the Secretariat of the Rotterdam Convention to resolve the impasse on listing chrysotile on Annex III, the end result was, given the greed and political pressure exerted by asbestos stakeholders, never in doubt. On Friday morning (October 31) news was released that the sub-committee, the “Friends of the President,” tasked with finding a way around this problem had failed. A spokesperson reported that although the science on the chrysotile hazard had been confirmed, a political log-jam prevented the parties from reaching consensus, without which nothing could be done. [Read full article]

Rotterdam Convention (COP4) Dossier

Nov 1, 2008

Oct 30: Statement by ROCA coordinator Kathleen Ruff
Oct 30: European Trade Union Confederation press release on Canada and the Rotterdam Convention
Oct 31: Update by ROCA coordinator Kathleen Ruff
Oct 31: Intervention by Madhumita Dutta
Oct 31: Further update by ROCA coordinator Kathleen Ruff
Nov1: ROCA Press Release
WHO Statement by Dr Maria Neira, Director, Public Health and Environment Department, WHO [Read full article]

Canada - How Could You?

Oct 15, 2008

At the heart of one of the world's most esteemed democracies lies a big fat dirty secret. Canada, viewed as a land of enlightenment for its high profile peacekeeping efforts and its pioneering of the global ban on landmines, is endangering the lives of millions of the world's most vulnerable people through its support for chrysotile asbestos. And when the United Nations decided to introduce a protocol calling for informed consent by asbestos importing nations, Canada and a handful of asbestos bullies blocked the way; that this obstructive behaviour will continue at the upcoming meeting of the Rotterdam Convention is almost certain. [Read full article]

Asian Asbestos Inititiatives

Oct 15, 2008

Over the last few months, the level of ban asbestos activism has been increasing throughout Asia. Recent developments include improvements to Japan's asbestos compensation regime, demonstrations and conferences in Korea, book launches in Hong Kong and India, ongoing discussions between activists and government officials in Malaysia, a workshop in Vietnam and academic conferences in Japan and India. The regional focus on asbestos issues will continue with more events planned in Japan and India. [Read full article]

A Helping Hand for Asbestos Victims

Oct 15, 2008

Victims of asbestos-related cancer have, for a change, been on the receiving end of some good news in the United Kingdom and Australia. In October 2008 new government schemes started which will provide universal compensation for all UK mesothelioma victims and more benefits to asbestos sufferers in the State of Victoria. Contemporaneously, the Supreme Court of Western Australia expanded the rights of smokers with lung cancer to claim compensation from negligent employers who exposed them to asbestos. [Read full article]

Book Review: Defending the Indefensible: The Global Asbestos Industry and its Fight for Survival

Oct 15, 2008

Despite all that was known about the asbestos hazard by 1960, global consumption soared. Nearly 80% of all asbestos used in the 20th century was used after 1960; 50% occurred after 1976. Authors Jock McCulloch and Geoffrey Tweedale explain this conundrum with their analysis of the successful campaign mounted by the asbestos industry. The ruthless strategy aggressively pursued by industry relied on concealment and misinformation "that often amounted to a conspiracy to continue selling asbestos fibre irrespective of the health risks." [Read full article]

Press Release

Sep 23, 2008

India is far and away the world's largest importer of asbestos, bringing more than 250,000 tonnes of this carcinogen into the country every year. There is no national cancer registry and no system to record asbestos cancers or asbestos exposures in India, so the problem remains unrecognized and unaddressed. But instead of acting to remedy these failings, the Government of India is actively encouraging asbestos use, both at home and globally. Thousands will die as a result of the government's collusion with the international asbestos lobby and national asbestos stakeholders. [European launch video] | [Read full article]

Canadians Support Global Asbestos Regulations

Sep 23, 2008

Throughout the Summer, opposition to the Canadian government's entrenched support for chrysotile asbestos has been growing. There has been a dizzying array of recent activities and developments which has mobilized ban asbestos support throughout the country. A fatal explosion on August 10, 2008 in Toronto generated media coverage not only of the incident itself but of Canada's wider asbestos problem. Public health activists, ban asbestos campaigners and representatives of civil society called on the federal government to support UN efforts to regulate the global trade in chrysotile asbestos. [Read full article]

Clemenceau Debacle Rumbles On!

Mar 15, 2009

Just when the French Government thought it had rid itself of the toxic hot potato once known as Le Clemenceau, up popped a feisty bunch of British activists to throw a spanner in the works. Objecting to the idea of their town becoming Europe's toxic toilet, the Friends of Hartlepool mounted a judicial challenge to the decision to allow this contaminated vessel to be sent to the UK. On September 29, a preliminary hearing will be held to consider their application for a judicial review of the decision to permit the ship to be scrapped in the UK. [Read full article]

Court Date for James Hardie

Sep 18, 2008

On September 29, 2008, a civil hearing will commence before Justice Gzell in the New South Wales Supreme Court over charges brought by the Australian corporations regulator (ASIC) against former directors and officers of James Hardie, formerly the largest manufacturer of asbestos products in Australia. The ASIC alleges that the entire James Hardie Board of 2001 and two executives of Hardie subsidiaries "failed to discharge their duties with due care and diligence." According to the Australian media, prosecutors will seek to have all ten defendants disqualified from managing corporations. [Read full article]

Major Breakthrough in Vietnam

Sep 18, 2008

Although Vietnamese spokesmen confirmed in 2004 that their Government was committed to banning asbestos, commercial pressures from asbestos stakeholders have forestalled the implementation of national prohibitions on the use of chrysotile (white) asbestos. Despite, the far-reaching influence of vested interests, a well-attended workshop on asbestos was held in Hanoi on August 12, 2008. Research presented on the feasibility of producing asbestos-free roofing materials in Vietnam was categorized as a "major breakthrough" by one observer. [Read full article]

Consensus on Asbestos Hazard

Aug 18, 2008

The global asbestos epidemic was the subject of dozens of presentations at The XVIIIth World Congress on Safety and Health at Work - Global Forum for Prevention which took place in Seoul, Korea from June 29 to July 2, 2008. Speakers from international agencies, trade unions and campaigning groups agreed on the carcinogenicity of all asbestos fiber types and urged action to protect humanity from hazardous exposures. Highlighting the impact asbestos use has had on industrialized populations, developing countries were urged to adopt national action plans to phase-out the use of asbestos. [Read full article]

“Defending the Indefensible”

Aug 18, 2008

The global asbestos lobby, now led by vested interests from Eastern Europe, made a series of spectacular blunders in Seoul when they attended the World Congress on Safety and Health at Work. Far from advancing the pro-chrysotile campaign, their ill-advised diatribes, biased presentations and loutish behavior betrayed a lack of credibility and underlined the vacuousness of industry's arguments. [Read full article]

Landmark Asbestos Meeting in Russia

Aug 18, 2008

On August 1 2008, the first impartial discussions on asbestos took place in Russia at a roundtable organized by ECO-Accord, a Moscow-based NGO, and Volgograd-Ecopress Information Center. The title of the event was: Chrysotile Asbestos: Problems of Its Production and Application in Russia and Elsewhere; it was the culmination of months of research and discussions by Eco-Accord whose representatives had grown increasingly concerned about the impact asbestos was having in Russia. Unfortunately, the organizers' decision to include a range of stakeholders in the discussions had unforeseen consequences. [Read full article]

ASTM Conference on Critical Issues in Monitoring Asbestos

Aug 18,2008

The "Johnson Conference," as it is traditionally called, was held on the campus of the University of Vermont in Burlington, Vermont on July 14 - 18, 2008. This triennial event is where the latest research on asbestos sampling and analysis is presented, and the implications for health effects, risk assessment and remediation are debated. This was the most international Johnson Conference in recent memory with a record 200 registrants from fourteen countries. A discussion of the presentations and an analysis of emerging trends are discussed in this article. [Read full article]

Press Launch: “Defending the Indefensible”

Aug 19, 2008

Rochdale, formerly the site of the world's largest asbestos textile factory, was the location for the press launch of Defending the Indefensible, an "insightful analysis of toxic corporate crime," which details numerous examples of how industry stakeholders corrupted the scientific process and colluded with national governments to protect asbestos, a human carcinogen. As a result of their actions, millions of people have succumbed to debilitating and fatal asbestos-related diseases. [Read full article]

A Quiet Hero, a Gentle Man

Aug 14, 2008

Aldo Vincentin was a young man when he was exposed to asbestos at the Eternit cement factory in Osasco, Brazil. Forty-four years later, the consequences of the hazardous conditions he experienced at this plant were manifested when he was diagnosed with mesothelioma. Less than a month after undergoing a grueling surgical procedure, Aldo lost his fight for life. His passing is mourned not only by his family but by asbestos victims and campaigners throughout Brazil and international colleagues who had the great fortune to know such a selfless and worthy man. [Read full article]

Algeria Says "Non" to Asbestos

Aug 14, 2008

At the end of July 2008, the Algerian Government shut down four asbestos-cement factories on health and environmental grounds. Research commissioned by the Government had established that hazardous conditions were routine at these plants with airborne asbestos levels as high as 6.7f/cc-13f/cc being recorded. Prioritizing "the health of our citizens, especially the health of the workers," over economic concerns, Minister Cherif Rahmani shut down the asbestos operations. [Read full article]

And Then there was One!

Aug 14, 2008

Despite the spin being put on the "temporary closure" of the Jeffrey Chrysotile Mine, the future looks bleak for the company's 275 employees; the average age of the redundant mine workers is reported to be 60. The Jeffrey mine, North America's oldest open pit asbestos mine, was opened in 1879. The surface seams of chrysotile asbestos have now been depleted and a further $30 million of investment is needed to access underground deposits. The cessation of mining operations at the Jeffrey Mine on June 30, 2008, makes LAB Chrysotile, the owners of Black Lake, Canada's only asbestos producer. [Read full article]

Literature Review

Aug 14, 2008

Recent papers in academic journals detail the human consequences of asbestos use in the United States, Brazil and Europe. Confirmation of the high incidence of asbestosis in the U.S. led researchers to categorize the situation as "catastrophic," while Brazilian researchers, investigating national mortality from asbestos cancer, call for an "immediate, global ban on asbestos use." Investigations relating to the mining of chrysotile in Balangero, Italy found "further evidence to the carcinogenicity of tremolite-free chrysotile." [Read full article]

History in the Making!

Jul 2, 2008

Had you planned it, it could not have worked out better. As if you could tell 10 Supreme Court Justices what to do and orchestrate the machinations of the Brazilian Supreme Court. And yet, just a few short days after the country's national court upheld the right of individual states to ban the use of asbestos on health grounds (June 4, 2008), an international meeting took place in Sao Paulo to examine the fallout from Brazil's asbestos past. [Read full article]

Japan: Cause and Effect

Jul 2, 2008

Although the fallout from environmental pollution by asbestos-consuming factories has been established in many locales, it seems that the situation could be even worse then previously thought. According to research published by the Environment Ministry on June 4, 2008, about 18% (145) of 804 people living near asbestos-using factories in Yokohama, Hashima, Nara, Osaka, Amagasaki City, Tosu and Saga have pleural plaques, an asymptomatic condition which is usually regarded as a marker of asbestos exposure. [Read full article]

Asbestos Litigation In Spain

Jul 2, 2008

Litigation on behalf of asbestos-injured workers in Spain is on the increase. On May 27, 2008, a unanimous decision was handed down by the New Jersey Appellate Panel which upheld the right of 15 Spanish workers to sue U.S. company Owen-Illinois (O-I) for injuries sustained while working on U.S. Navy ships in Spain ... plaintiffs had been occupationally exposed to O-I asbestos-containing insulating products whilst employed in the jointly owned U.S.-Spanish military installation in Rota or in the private shipyards in Cadiz from 1950-1998. [Read full article]

Asbestos Uproar in Canada

May 29, 2008

Industry's domination of the Canadian asbestos debate is crumbling day by day as new groups and voices rise to challenge the inviolable sanctity of the country's asbestos mining sector. In the last week, several landmark developments have taken place amongst various sectors of civil society which indicate that the political and financial support the industry has enjoyed from federal and regional governments may soon be a thing of the past. [Read full article]

Governments Debate Asbestos

May 21, 2008

Events in May 2008 reveal a rising awareness in Europe, Asia and North America of the harmful effects asbestos exposures are having on populations and the environment. On May 14, the annual Asbestos Seminar took place in the House of Commons, London. The following day, a hearing on The Health Impact of Asbestos on Workers in India was held by a Parliamentary Committee in New Delhi. A few days later, a briefing of Democratic staffers on the Energy and Commerce Committee in Washington D.C. was addressed by asbestos victims and experts who urged Congress to pass comprehensive legislation banning asbestos. [Read full article]

Award for New Zealand Campaigner

May 21, 2008

In April 2009, Ed Grootegoed received the Air Zealand Lifetime Achiever's Award for Health and Safety for his work as the Welfare Investigating Officer for the Asbestos Diseases Association of New Zealand. In the 1990s Ed was diagnosed with an asbestos-related lung disease having worked for more than 40 years as a plumber. He joined the Asbestos Diseases Association to help others similarly affected and has "spent the last 14 years trying to make people aware of the dangers of asbestos and how to protect themselves from it ..." [Read full article]

The Times they Are A-Changing

May 8, 2008

The occurrence of the ILO's World Congress on Safety and Health at Work in Korea this Summer coincides with the hand-over of leadership of the global pro-asbestos campaign from Canadian to Russian interests. … the (Canadian) Chrysotile Institute has gradually ceded its position as coordinator of the worldwide chrysotile lobby to emerging powers in Russia - as represented by the International Alliance of Chrysotile Trade Unions. While there is not one speaker on the ILO agenda representing Canadian asbestos stakeholders, eight speakers are believed to be affiliated with asbestos interests in Eastern Europe. [Read full article]

Universal Mesothelioma Compensation

May 6, 2008

If everything goes according to plan, shortly after Parliament convenes for the Autumn 2008 session, anyone who is diagnosed with mesothelioma as a result of exposure to asbestos in the UK, whether through occupational, para-occupational or environmental exposure, will be entitled to compensation from the Government. The Bill, which is awaiting its report stage and third reading in the House of Lords, should receive Royal Assent by the end of May 2008. It is anticipated that the average payment will be £10,000 during the first two years of the scheme. In later years, the size of payments would increase as funds allow. [Read full article]

Asbestos on PAHO Agenda

May 6, 2008

At the end of April, 2008, Dr. Devra Davis gave a presentation at the Pan American Health Association in Washington, D.C. on occupational and environmental cancer. Dr. Davis, author of the new book The Secret History of the War on Cancer stressed asbestos as an example of a major cause of cancer and urged PAHO to work actively with the Latin American countries that have not banned asbestos.Suggestions were made that PAHO try to get the member countries that have implemented asbestos bans to instruct others in the "nuts and bolts" of putting this policy in place. [Read full article]

Action on Asbestos in the Philippines

May 6, 2008

During April 2008, calls for asbestos to be banned were made by trade unionists, engineers and homeowners throughout the Philippines. The Associated Labour Unions, affiliated to the global labor federation "the Building and Woodworkers International" made a national asbestos ban the focus of activities held throughout International Workers' Memorial Day. Asbestos-free alternatives are available locally and are increasingly being used in construction and building projects. A bill to ban asbestos use in the Philippines, sponsored by Senator Santiago, is currently under consideration by the legislature. [Read full article]

James Hardie: On the Run Again?

Apr 23, 2008

A corporate bombshell exploded onto the pages of the Weekend Australian newspaper on April 19, 2008, when Journalist Ean Higgins revealed that James Hardie, formerly the largest manufacturer of asbestos products in Australia, was preparing to move itself even further from the reach of its Australian asbestos victims. Corporate plans to relocate from Europe to North America were disclosed in the expose: Hardie in Secret Move to the U.S. It is likely that Hardie's relocation will "cause deep concerns to Australian asbestos victims, unions and the NSW [New South Wales] Government ..." [Read full article]

Breaking Canada's Asbestos Addiction

Apr 23, 2008

Market forces combined with ever-increasing national awareness of the asbestos hazard have dealt the final death blow to the Canadian asbestos industry. Even though by August 2008, there will be just one working chrysotile mine left in Canada, the Government continues to fund the activities of the Chrysotile Institute, a trade association tasked with promoting global sales of chrysotile. Increasing calls are being made by civil society for the Government to "ban asbestos in all its forms, stop the export of asbestos and stop blocking international efforts to curb its use." [Read full article]

International Workers' Memorial Day

Apr 23, 2008

"Remember the Dead, Fight for the Living," is the slogan for April 28, 2008 International Workers' Memorial Day (WMD). This widely observed annual event provides the opportunity for trade unions and civil society to focus on the importance of occupational safety and health to the well-being of workers around the world. As asbestos is the most common cause of occupational illness and death, it will, once again, be regarded as a priority issue at many WMD events. Trade union events in Pakistan, India, Indonesia, the Philippines, Nepal and elsewhere will focus on the asbestos hazard. [Read full article]

Asbestos Olympics?

Apr 10, 2008

The announcement that Beijing had been elected as the Host City for the 2008 Olympics set alarm bells ringing in the IBAS office. Knowing that China is the world's largest consumer of asbestos, we wondered whether the "Green Olympics," as they were being promoted, would be constructed with white asbestos? . . . A consensus has emerged which supports the following statement: by official mandate of the Chinese Government, the use of asbestos in the construction of the Olympic buildings has been prohibited. If asbestos is not safe enough to be used in the Olympic buildings why is it being used elsewhere in China? [Read full article]

Never Again!

Apr 10, 2008

Hundreds of people joined Mayors from five local towns, a Member of Parliament and a Slovenian Prosecutor in a school auditorium on April 4, 2008 for a musical evening which featured contributions from all age groups and from both amateur and professional performers. The concert was organized by Mrs. Lidija Rahotina, a retired teacher and principal of a local school in Deskle, Southern Slovenia who spoke of the toll asbestos has taken on the local population; few families in Deskle have been unaffected by the fallout from decades of asbestos-cement production at the Salonhit Anhovo factory, the town's biggest employer. [Read full article]

Commentary: The Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization

Apr 4, 2008

I am just back from Detroit where I had the privilege of attending the 4th annual conference of the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO). In just a few short years, the ADAO has grown into a national organization which represents U.S. asbestos victims at home and abroad; Mrs. Linda Reinstein, the ADAO Executive Director and Co-Founder, has spoken at landmark asbestos conferences in Tokyo and Bangkok and, in May 2007, addressed Members of Parliament at the House of Commons. While other groups in the U.S. make grandiose claims and issue fulsome press releases, the ADAO simply gets on with the job in hand. [Read full article]

South Africa Bans Asbestos!

Apr 4, 2008

On March 28, 2008, regulations to ban asbestos came into force in South Africa. The Regulations for the Prohibition of the Use, Manufacturing, Import and Export of Asbestos and Asbestos Containing Materials are comprehensive and far-reaching with a few minor exemptions. Announcing the ban at a press conference in Pretoria, Environmental Affairs Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk said that requests by Canada and Zimbabwe to be exempt from the prohibition had been denied. . . . this country once supplied all the world's amosite, most of its crocidolite and much of its chrysotile . . . [Read full article]

Progress on Asbestos Transition in Vietnam

Apr 4, 2008

On March 11, 2008, a bilateral seminar was held in Hanoi during which technicians from Vietnam and Japan discussed progress on replacing asbestos in cement roofing tiles with safer alternatives. Vietnamese scientists told an audience composed of civil servants, scientists and business people about techniques to produce polyvinyl alcohol (PVA) fiber-cement roofing tiles. Responding to questions about the economics of production, one of the experts admitted that currently asbestos-free tiles cost 20-30% more than the asbestos ones but that economies of scale could eventually bring the costs down. [Read full article]

The Rotterdam Convention: Fighting for its Life

Mar 20, 2008

As its 10th anniversary approaches, the Rotterdam Convention is facing an uncertain future. This multilateral agreement was devised to stop developing countries from becoming dumping grounds for discredited chemicals and dangerous substances. Unfortunately, national stakeholders, led by Canada, have succeeded in undermining the Convention by imposing a 5 year veto on the listing of chrysotile asbestos, despite the fact that all the requirements for including it on the Prior Informed Consent list have been met. Unless common sense prevails the Rotterdam Convention will be dead in the water by the end of this year. [Read full article]

Jailing Asbestos Executives

Mar 20, 2008

For decades, asbestos stakeholders have gotten away with murder. In recent years, courts in Europe and North America have indicated that the time is coming when officers of asbestos companies could go to prison for complicity in the asbestos scandal. In Italy and France, criminal convictions have been handed down which included jail sentences for senior employees of the Eternit Asbestos Group, the Alstom Power Boiler Company and the Trigano Company. Court cases pending in Italy and the United States may result in prison time for senior company officials. [Read full article]

Day of Asbestos Action

Mar 4, 2008

The rising tide of asbestos mobilization throughout the UK was clearly apparent at the numerous events held on February 27, 2008: the 3rd national Action Mesothelioma Day (AMD). Blessed by blue skies and unseasonably warm weather, asbestos victims and their supporters mounted rallies, balloon releases, conferences and public events to highlight the on-going national asbestos epidemic which is claiming more than 3,000 lives every year. Some of the events which took place on that day are showcased in this article. [Read full article]

Legal Win for Australian Mechanic

Mar 4, 2008

On February 19, 2008, Justice Andrew Beech of the Supreme Court of Western Australia issued a 68-page landmark ruling in the case of Antonio Lo Presti vs. Ford Motor Company of Australia Ltd. According to Michael Magazanik, Mr. Lo Presti's solicitor, this judgment set a precedent which may have implications for thousands of other mechanics with asbestos-related diseases. It is not yet known if Ford will appeal this verdict. [Read full article]

Asbestos Hazard in UK Schools

Mar 4, 2008

The campaign to tackle asbestos contamination in thousands of UK schools is gathering momentum. On February 15, 2008, ITN News featured two segments about hazardous conditions in "system built" or prefabricated schools. Half of all UK schools were constructed by this method and those built between 1945-1980 contain large amounts of asbestos. The use of inadequately sealed asbestos insulation board to fireproof steelwork in these schools constitutes an imminent danger to those who work in and use these buildings. [Read full article]

International Trade Union Conference on Asbestos

Mar 4, 2008

From February 5-7, 2008, delegates from 33 countries attended an International Trade Union Conference on Asbestos in Vienna; the event was organized by the Building and Woodworkers' International (BWI), a global federation of trade unions which has been advocating a worldwide ban on asbestos since 1989. The BWI is rock solid on its asbestos position and is working closely with affiliated unions, international organizations such as the ILO, WHO, ISSA, UITBB, Labor Inspectors and other social partners to push forward urgent action on a global asbestos ban. [Read full article]

The Asbestos Lie

Mar 4, 2008

The Asbestos Lie is the title of a German book published in 2007; the title was chosen to reflect the many lies which people had been told about asbestos by the Swiss Eternit Group, a major international producer of asbestos-cement products throughout much of the 20th century. Eternit consistently denied that its German factories had been run on slave labor during the 2nd World War. In the research for this book, Nadja Ofsjannikova from Latvia was located; she had been a forced laborer in the Berlin Eternit factory in 1943. [Read full article]

Press Release: A Fox in the Hen House

Feb 5, 2008

New Delhi, India: At an afternoon press conference on February 5, 2008, a new publication was launched entitled A Fox in the Hen House: Made-to-Order Science and India's Asbestos Policy, which revealed a breathtaking attempt by the Government of India to hoodwink the Indian public and international agencies as to the true extent of the national asbestos hazard. This 11-page dossier draws on extensive and detailed research by Madhumitta Dutta, from The Other Media, which includes numerous and frustrating attempts to obtain information from government departments. [Read full article]

Landmark Demonstration against UK Pleural Plaques Ruling

Jan 30, 2008

They came for their friends, their community and for themselves; they were there for people like Brian Fairbrass (Benny), who committed suicide having been diagnosed with pleural plaques and for Peter Braddock, whose pleural plaques have been superseded by asbestos cancer. The demonstration and rally in Westminster was over a defendants' decision by the House of Lords (October 2007) on the Rothwell case, a conjoined appeal over the issue of pleural plaque compensation. The decision reversed more than 20 years of precedents during which compensation for this condition was routinely awarded by the courts. [Read full article]

Growth of Ban Asbestos Movement in Asia

Jan 30, 2008

Over the last year, pioneering work by Asian asbestos victims' groups, trade unions, academics, medical experts and activists has increased regional calls for a ban on future consumption of asbestos. A variety of conferences, meetings, workshops and discussions in Korea, Japan, the Philippines and India demonstrate a growing regional awareness of the asbestos hazard. Grass-roots movements in Asia are calling on governments to put safety before profits and human life before politics and to ban asbestos. [Read full article]

Indonesian Villagers Destroy Asbestos Houses

Jan 30, 2008

In November 2007, anti-asbestos demonstrators set fire to some of the 204 asbestos-cement houses in Banda Aceh donated by the Bakrie Family Institution (BFI) as part of the tsunami reconstruction effort. The houses had been built along the Deyah Raya beach with roofing, ceiling and walls containing up to 20% asbestos. Demonstrators invaded the offices of the BRR, the Aceh Nias Rehabilitation & Reconstruction Agency, damaging office furniture and protesting the use of such a hazardous material. Efforts by the BRR to convince local people that residing in these units is safe have failed and most of the homes remain unoccupied. [Read full article]

Asbestos Activism Down-Under

Jan 8, 2008

Since 1979, the Asbestos Diseases Society of Australia (ADSA) has been working to improve the plight of the country's asbestos victims. From a handful of members and a few cardboard files, this Perth-based organization has grown into one of the leading grass-roots organizations working in this field. Although the Society has many social activities throughout the year, those held at the end of the year play a pivotal part in the holiday season for many asbestos sufferers and their families. [Read full article]

Landmark Victories for the Asbestos-Injured

Jan 10, 2008

At the end of 2007, judicial victories for asbestos victims in Korea and South Africa were announced. On December 4, the first court ruling in Korea to award compensation for an asbestos-related death was made by a local court in Daegu District, Seoul. One week later, news was circulated of record compensation payouts for the families of deceased South African mesothelioma victims, Ken Krieger and Terry Cowan, both of whom had worked as air-conditioning contractors for Standard Bank in Durban. They had been exposed to asbestos in insulation sprayed onto the steel frame of "Standard House" during its construction. [Read full article]

Winter Catch-Up

Jan 10, 2008

Academics continue to unravel the history of the asbestos industry and the murky role played by corporate officials in their drive to counter raising awareness of the asbestos hazard. In papers published by three eminent authorities, a pattern emerges of Machiavellian behaviour by national and global vested interests which engaged in character assassination, political intrigue and propaganda campaigns to safeguard the image of asbestos as an innocuous material which was indispensable to public safety and national prosperity. [Read full article]

Canadian Asbestos: The Naked Truth

Nov 19, 2007

Recently obtained data documents increasing imports of Canadian asbestos by developing countries, all of which have a dismal record in regulating hazardous asbestos exposures to workers, the public and consumers. Despite these successes, however, total sales have fallen by nearly 14%, due to stiff competition from overseas suppliers. Difficult market conditions combined with home-grown opposition to Canada's leadership of the global asbestos lobby constitute a tangible threat to the political and economic support currently enjoyed by the asbestos industry. [Read full article]

Next Wave of Asbestos Victims?

Nov 19, 2007

Civil servants, diplomats and politicians are rarely included in lists of those most at risk of contracting asbestos-related diseases. However, recent discoveries in New York and Strasbourg may cause some members of these groups to reassess the gravity of hazardous occupational asbestos exposures experienced at United Nations (UN) and European Union (EU) premises. [Read full article]

On the Street Where you Live

Nov 19, 2007

A program first broadcast on Australian radio on October 21, 2007, detailed the ubiquity of asbestos on a typical residential street in Fremantle, Western Australia (WA). Properties built in the 1940s and 1950s contain numerous examples of asbestos-containing cladding, insulation, roofing and fencing panels. On the whole, homeowners questioned by local resident and radio producer Mia Lindgren were ignorant of the presence of asbestos and the severity of the problem it posed. [Read full article]

Literature Review

Nov 19, 2007

Seven recent papers discussing medical, epidemiological, legal and political asbestos-related developments in Asia, Europe and North America are listed and citations are given in this brief literature review. The articles discussed document the on-going repercussions of hazardous exposures to workers, local residents and the environment and highlight the likely impact increasing consumption of asbestos will have in developing countries such as India. [Read full article]

Update on T&N Ltd.

Oct 1, 2007

On October 1, 2001, T&N Ltd., formerly the UK's biggest asbestos group, ceased paying asbestos-related disease claims when its American parent company, Federal Mogul (FM), filed for voluntary Chapter 11 reorganization in the U.S. and administration under the UK Insolvency Act of 1986. Years of cross-Atlantic negotiations, scores of court appearances and millions of pounds of professional fees later, the UK courts approved plans for T&N to exit the administration process. The sixth anniversary of the administration is an appropriate time to examine the current situation facing those suffering from T&N-generated asbestos illnesses in the UK. [Read full article]

September: A Month of Mixed Fortunes

Sep 25, 2007

Following meetings in Geneva, a strategic plan proposed by the Secretariat of the Basel Convention was shelved after representations from asbestos stakeholders. In France a report of the French Asbestos Compensation Fund highlighted a significant increase in claims activity for 2006-2007. In India, a Supreme Court decision permitting the SS Norway to be dismantled on Indian soil has been strongly criticized. Elsewhere, the World Social Security Forum heard calls for suspension of all new use of asbestos, charges against W.R.Grace executives re Libby were reinstated and further asbestos restrictions announced by South Africa. [Read full article]

EU Asbestos Derogation

Sep 25, 2007

The European Commission's Directorate General Enterprise and Industry has issued a statement confirming that EU bureaucrats favour the continuation of the existing derogation for chrysotile asbestos diaphragms used for electrolysis in "existing installations." The consultation process leading to this decision involved industry and Member States only. Among those critical of the continuing derogation was MEP Kartika Liotard from the Netherlands who addressed a number of questions to the Commission regarding the scope of the consultation process. In such decisions occupational and public health considerations should be pre-eminent. [Read full article]

Judgment on World Bank

Sep 27, 2007

From September 21-24, 2007, the Independent People's Tribunal on the World Bank Group in India, which was convened at Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, heard testimony about the impact of the Bank's policies and projects on communities in India. Presentations in the form of legal depositions were considered by 12 jury members, including retired Supreme and High Court judges and former government ministers. Gopal Krishna from the Ban Asbestos Network of India pointed out that many of the Bank's projects involved the use of asbestos-cement products. [Read full article]

Autumn Catch-Up

Sep 25, 2007

In a paper published in Environmental Health Perspectives, authors M. M. Maule, C. Magnani et al found "alarming magnitudes" of pollution arising from asbestos industry sources, based on research conducted in Casale Monferrato, Italy. In Australia, a court judgment confirmed that, for mesothelioma, the date of injury corresponds to the date of fiber inhalation, not that of symptom manifestation. [Read full article]

São Paulo's Asbestos Battle

Sep 3, 2007

On July 27, 2007, the Governor of São Paulo State, José Serra sanctioned a state law (12.684/07) proposed by State Deputy Marcos Martins which prohibits the use of all types of asbestos in São Paulo State, Brazil. Previous state asbestos bans, including one in São Paulo, were annulled by a (Federal) Supreme Court ruling which declared that the power to regulate matters relating to trade and mining did not reside with individual states. [Read full article]

Israeli Asbestos Ban on the Horizon

Sep 1, 2007

While there is no Israeli law explicitly banning the manufacture and use of asbestos products, since 1997 new uses have been discouraged by regulations which severely restrict the import and processing of asbestos; the current regulatory regime has resulted in a de facto ban. According to Dr. Tamar Bar-On, Director of the Asbestos Division, Environment Ministry, the government is currently holding consultations on a new asbestos law. [Read full article]

Industry Fails to Derail U.S. Asbestos Bill

Sep 1, 2007

The progress of the Ban Asbestos in America Act 2007 (S. 742) through the U.S. Senate has not gone unnoticed by Canadian asbestos stakeholders. On July 30, 2007, Claude Carrier from the Canadian Embassy in Washington sent a letter… Senator Boxer and her colleagues were clearly underwhelmed … the asbestos bill was unanimously voted out of Committee with the result that after the Summer recess it will move to the Senate floor for consideration. [Read full article]

Asbestos Resources

Sep 2, 2007

In a paper published in the IJOEH, Dr. Laura S. Welch focuses on the asbestos brake industry, the propaganda espoused to support its continuence and health effects on workers exposed to its products. In another publication the ISSA calls for national asbestos bans and decries policies of "short-termist economic self-interest." Two recently established websites constitute valuable resources for global campaigners, with one particularly involved with recent developments in the US. [Read full article]

Two Steps Forward, Five Steps Back

Jul 27, 2007

In Canada there are calls to phase-out the use and export of asbestos. But, even as civil society mobilizes to expose Canada's role in the global asbestos scandal, industry is increasing its pressure on international agencies to roll-back progressive positions adopted last year. Overseas asbestos producers inflate the sale price for raw asbestos fiber on the world market to allow Canadian producers to compete; apparently Canada's participation gives respectability to the trade in this toxic substance. [Read full article]

Quebec Asbestos Record Further Reason Not to Export to Developing Nations

Jul 29, 2007

The word asbestos is chillingly familiar to Sarnia-Lambton residents where record numbers of workers and bystanders have suffered and died from asbestos-related diseases. Two recent papers support the view that asbestos is being used without due care in Canada itself, let alone in countries to which it is exported. However, Canada's largest asbestos producer, LAB Chrysotile, has filed a notice of intention to submit a proposal to its creditors under the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act. [Read full article]

Children at Risk

Jul 25, 2007

Problems caused by asbestos products in schools have been reported in several countries during recent weeks. A cursory web search on July 23, 2007 uncovered news stories on this subject from Asia, Australia and North America … In Johor Baru, Malaysia strong winds ripped asbestos roofing off two adjoining schools during a heavy downpour. ... within Australian and American schools, projects are being commissioned to identify and manage contaminated material ... [Read full article]

The 25th Anniversary of Alice A Fight for Life

Jul 18, 2007

Not many TV programs make an impact like Alice - A Fight For Life. In the days following its transmission on ITV (July 20, 1982), this documentary exposé on the workings of the asbestos industry saw £60 million knocked off asbestos companies' share prices, headlines in national newspapers, hundreds of calls and letters of support … the result of which was the halving of the permitted levels of asbestos dust in factories … [Read full article]

The Asbestos Relief Trust

Jul 17, 2007

The Asbestos Relief Trust (ART) was set up as a result of litigation against former asbestos mining companies which operated in South Africa. Companies including Gencor, Gefco, ACA, Msauli and Hanova Mining Ltd. contributed to a settlement agreement (2003) which distributes compensation to claimants who contracted asbestos-related diseases having been exposed to asbestos generated by the operations of these corporations. [Read full article]

UK Approval for Asbestos Cancer Drug

Jul 9, 2007

On July 9, 2007, the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) signalled it's intention to allow UK mesothelioma sufferers access to Alimta (pemetrexed disodium) on the National Health Service (NHS). This is a dramatic turnabout from the position taken just a few months ago by the NICE Appraisal Committee in its interim ruling against the continued use of Alimta ... [Read full article]

Shrinking Asbestos World

Jul 7, 2007

After high-level asbestos meetings in Africa and Asia last month, government ministers confirmed their intentions to ban major uses of chrysotile asbestos in South Africa and Taiwan; these announcements left asbestos stakeholders facing impending disaster as the momentum to ban asbestos continues to spread throughout the globe. ... [Read full article]

Update on Brazilian Asbestos Campaign

Jul 6, 2007

During 2007, the campaign by ABREA, the Brazilian association representing the asbestos-injured, has gone from strength to strength; in the last few months, new groups have been formed in São José dos Campos and Paraná. With the original 5 groups: in Osasco, Rio de Janeiro, São Caetano do Sul, Simes Filho and Poes, ABREA has now achieved a national presence in the country's asbestos debate. ... [Read full article]

The New Belgian Asbestos Fund

Jul 9, 2007

Pressured by vociferous demands within Belgian society to address the claims of Belgian asbestos occupational and non-occupational victims, who in practice have little access to the civil courts, the Belgian government has created a special department to deal with asbestos claims. Organized within the already existing Belgian Fund for Occupational Diseases, this new department, aptly named the Asbestos Fund (AFA), processes asbestos victims' claims and allocates them compensation according to the nature of their claim. ... [Read full article]

Asbestos Conference in Amagasaki City

Jul 2, 2007

A conference commemorating the 2nd anniversary of the “Kubota Shock” was held in Amagasaki City on June 30 and July 1, 2007. It was organized by the Association of Mesothelioma and Asbestos-related Disease Victims and Their Families, Mesothelioma, Pneumoconiosis and Asbestos Center, Amagasaki Workers' Safety and Health Center, Hyogo Occupational Safety and Health Center, Kansai Workers' Safety Center and Japan Occupational Safety and Health Resource Center. The governments of Amagasaki City and Hyogo Prefecture and Ban Asbestos Network Japan were supporting bodies of this important event. ... [Read full article]

Don't Know, Don't Care

Jul 2, 2007

Despite hosting an international asbestos conference in 2003, Slovenia remains mired in a philosophy of “don't know, don't care” when it comes to safeguarding workers and the public from hazardous exposures to asbestos. There are multiple examples of ill-considered and illegal asbestos removal practices occurring in public and private enterprises. In August 2006, Slovenian TV documented a licensed company removing pieces of an asbestos roof from a primary school as children attended kindergarten inside the building. ... [Read full article]

Pleural Plaques Protest

Jun 26, 2007

On Monday morning (June 25, 2007), a rally was held in Committee Room 10 of the House of Commons to highlight the case due to start in the House of Lords at 11 a.m. which will decide, once and for all, whether pleural plaques are a compensable disease in the UK. The meeting, convened by the GMB trade union, and supported by other labor organizations, was attended by scores of thermal insulation engineers, welders, fabricators and construction workers from all over the country whose work has brought them into contact with asbestos ... [Read full article]

Asbestos Expose: Fiasco for Government

Jun 24, 2007

The Quebec Labor Relations Board upheld the right of a journalist to keep confidential sources who disclosed information about the existence of asbestos contamination in Quebec government buildings.1 The findings of the June 19, 2007 administrative tribunal relate to a newspaper article published in November 2006 by Journalist Karine Gagnon in Le Journal de Quebec2 which exposed the potential health threat of asbestos in buildings administered by the government's property company: Societe Immobiliere Quebec ... [Read full article]

What Price the Truth?

Jun 24, 2007

It seems in India the truth can be bought for $36,363. This is the sum contributed by the Indian asbestos industry towards the research commissioned by the government into the health effects of asbestos exposures. This sum, which constitutes 27% of the total allocated for the project, buys the industry unique access to the design of the proposed study and the tone and content of the final report. ... [Read full article]

Conflicts of Interest in the Practice of Occupational Medicine

Jun 18, 2007

A conference on medical ethics was held on June 9, 2007 in Bled, Slovenia under the auspices of the Slovenian Medical Chamber and attended by occupational physicians, members of the Slovenian Medical Society and politicians. This event, the first of its kind to take place, was moderated by Dr. Metoda Dodic-Fikfak, Director of the Institute of Occupational Health ... [Read full article]

U.S. Moves to Ban Asbestos

Jun 14, 2007

On June 12, 2007, the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW) heard testimony about the health effects of asbestos.1 Senator Barbara Boxer, the panel's chairwoman, confirmed that in 2005, 2,530 metric tons of asbestos and 90,000 metric tons of asbestos-containing cement products, gaskets, brakes and clutch parts were imported into the U.S. Furthermore, she added: “Worldwide production of asbestos actually increased in 2005 ... [Read full article]

Canada's Asbestos Shame

Jun 15, 2007

As the U.S. moves towards a national asbestos ban, its neighbour to the North remains stuck in a time warp. ... On June 28, 2007, a propaganda exercise masquerading as the “Chrysotile International Scientific Workshop” will take place under the auspices of the Canadian Trade Office in Taipei. ... [Read full article]

In Remembrance of Peter Broadhurst

Jun 6, 2007

After a two year battle with the deadly asbestos cancer, mesothelioma, Peter Broadhurst died in Dundee, Scotland on May 30, 2007. Peter had worked as a mechanical engineering fitter at an asbestos factory in the North of England before he took up the study of theology and psychology which eventually led him to a religious community where he practiced Christian meditation. He died aged 62 years old ... [Read full article]

The Marystown Shipyard Family Alliance

Jun 5, 2007

Our committee, the Marystown Shipyard Families Alliance, was formed in the spring of 2006 when it became apparent that workers and their families were not being adequately represented. A retrospective epidemiological cohort study funded by the Newfoundland Government and completed in 2002 by a prestigious Canadian university proved to be an incompetent piece of work. Out of frustration and disillusionment ... our committee was born ... [Read full article]


Apr 27, 2007

On International Workers Memorial Day 2007 (April 28) demonstrators in Washington D.C., Sao Paulo and London will protest Canada's continued leadership of the global asbestos lobby at events timed to coincide with parades, meetings and rallies being held by trade unionists all over the world. As labor's theme for 2007 is Occupational Cancer, asbestos, the world's deadliest industrial toxin, will, once again, be a high priority ... [Read full article]

Asbestos Fallout from September 11

Apr 25, 2007

Jonathan Bennett was in New York City when the World Trade Center (WTC) was attacked; he was there when the federal, state and city governments reassured New Yorkers that the air was fit to breathe and that it was business as usual.1 Unfortunately, the truth was not as reassuring as the politicians' statements, Mr. Bennett told a lunchtime seminar at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine on April 24th 2007 ... [Read full article]