News Item Archive
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Displaying first 25 items in reverse date order (default)
Precedent: Asbestos Anxiety
Dec 10, 2017
The first lawsuit has been filed in Spain over anxiety caused by toxic exposures of five claimants who were exposed to asbestos at their Barcelona workplace. They are calling for the classification from the State of their anxiety and depression as an occupational disease and asking for compensation for hazardous conditions which would not have occurred “if the defendant company had fulfilled its obligations in relation to prevention and safety at work.” See: Primera demanda presentada en España para considerar la ansiedad enfermedad professional [First lawsuit filed in Spain to consider occupational disease anxiety (caused by asbestos)].
Assessing the Asbestos Cancer Risk
Dec 10, 2017
A paper appearing in the January issue of the International Journal of Hygiene and Environmental Health highlights the importance of early diagnoses of the asbestos cancer mesothelioma, which enables patients to access trials of novel treatment therapies. The authors described a method of calculating past asbestos exposures in order to assess individuals’ levels of risk of contracting mesothelioma. A strong correlation between measured and estimated asbestos exposure has been shown. See: Estimating past inhalation exposure to asbestos: A tool for risk attribution and disease screening.
Ban Asbestos in Colombia!
Dec 9, 2017
On December 7, 2017, a one-minute video was uploaded to YouTube by Greenpeace Colombia, one of the organizations calling on politicians to support legislative efforts to ban asbestos in the country. The footage shows Greenpeace volunteers in the Plaza de Bolivar – the main square in the Colombian capital Bogotá – with a clock demanding that Senators vote for the “Ana Cecilia Niño ban asbestos bill” in the second legislative debate before the end of the year. Colombian journalist and ban asbestos campaigner Ana Cecilia Niño died from the asbestos cancer mesothelioma in 2014. See: Senadores: ¡Ya es hora! [Senators: It's time!].
Dec 9, 2017
On December 7, 2017, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) issued an alert (Reference EFA/2017/006) over the continuing use of asbestos-containing pipe gaskets (CNA 2000) put into circulation by a British engineering company between 2006 and 2010. The contaminated products were manufactured by G&H Engineering Services with material imported from China that had been sold as asbestos-free. According to a letter by the HSE dated October 30, 2017 efforts in 2011 to alert customers “may not have been fully circulated further down the supply chain.” See: Supply of CAN 2000 pipeline gaskets: presence of asbestos.
Another Legal Victory
Dec 9, 2017
This week the Superior Court of Justice of Murcia dismissed an appeal by public companies Navantia and Izar Construcciones Navales against the judgment of a Cartagena court that imposed a 30% uplift on the benefits of a widow whose husband died from asbestos workplace exposures in the shipbuilding sector. The deceased – who had worked for the public naval shipyards Empresa Nacional Bazán from 1967 until 1992 – suffered from a lung adenocarcinoma, respiratory failure and pulmonary asbestosis. See: Confirman una condena por permitir el uso de Amianto [Confirming conviction for allowing the use of asbestos].
The Demise of the Asbestos Lobby
Dec 8, 2017
The International Chrysotile Association (ICA), founded in 1976 by asbestos vested interests, is a shadow of its former self. Although the ICA is still registered in Quebec as a non-profit organisation and is still funded by asbestos mining and manufacturing corporations “it is increasingly isolated and discredited…” Nowadays, the ICA has directors from just seven countries: Russia, Kazakhstan, Brazil, Zimbabwe, Mexico, India and USA; since asbestos was banned in Brazil on November 29, 2017, it is likely that number will be reduced to six. See: International asbestos lobby organisation shrinking and doomed.
Oesophageal Cancer and Asbestos
Dec 8, 2017
The Superior Court of Justice of Catalonia (TSJC) has recognized that the death of a former Uralita worker from oesophageal cancer was caused by asbestos exposures experienced during 20 years of employment at the company’s Rocalla de Castelldefels asbestos-cement factory in Barcelona. Despite the fact that oesophageal cancer was not included on the list of diseases caused by asbestos, the Court decided that the evidence regarding the causation of this disease was categorical. See: El TSJC avala que trabajar con amianto puede provocar cáncer de esófago [The TSJC recognizes that working with asbestos can cause esophageal cancer].
Asbestos Scandal: Latest
Dec 8, 2017
The scandal over the sale of asbestos-contaminated shot-blasting material by the Eurogrit subsidiary of Sibelco landed them in a Dutch court which ruled on December 6, 2017 they were liable for damages; the lawsuit was initiated by the Muehlan Company which was awarded interim damages of €49,000 (they had asked for €2.4m). When Muehlan was informed by Eurogrit of the asbestos contamination on October 5, work immediately stopped at 9 locations including an oil rig, bunker vessels and silos. Muehlan says it has incurred a loss of millions of euros. See: Eurogrit aansprakelijk voor schade in asbestschandaal [Eurogrit liable for damages in asbestos scandal].
The Polluter Pays
Dec 8, 2017
Brazil’s Public Prosecutor's Office (MPT) is pioneering programs to monitor workers’ health and diagnose asbestos-related diseases using funds from judicial awards to pay for medical examinations, diagnostic equipment and follow-up programs; asbestos lawsuits have been filed by the MPT in Rio de Janeiro, Bahia, São Paulo and Paraná. There are, in addition, four main public civil actions against Eternit, formerly Brazil’s largest asbestos conglomerate. See: MPT quer reparação dos danos causados pelo amianto no país [MPT wants to repair the damage caused by asbestos in the country].
Environmental Asbestos Hazard
Dec 7, 2017
Academic researchers have announced findings of tests undertaken using samples of amphibole asbestos fibers collected in Arizona and Montana which document the toxic effects on mice of low level environmental exposures to asbestos. During a presentation last month made at Boulder City Library, Jean Pfau of Montana State University said: “Low exposure caused health effects in mice, suggesting that we cannot dismiss low environmental exposures…We can no longer say there is no health risk.” While the fibers from Arizona seemed to be more toxic, exposures to all the samples led to increased frequency of autoantibodies and inflammation. See: Scientists warn of asbestos risks.
Making a Difference!
Dec 7, 2017
At the annual Christmas picnic of the Asbestos Diseases Society of Australia (ADSA) on December 3, 2017, a check for $85,000 was presented to Professor Anna Nowak from the National Centre for Asbestos Related Diseases (NCARD). The donation was the result of fund-raising efforts during the ADSA’s five-day walk in September 2017 from Merredin to Perth via Bruce Rock, Quairading, Beverley, York and Northam to raise asbestos awareness and support for life-saving research. The money will be used by NCARD for the ADSA PhD Scholarship in Mesothelioma. See: Press release of Asbestos Diseases Society of Australia.
Dec 6, 2017
The Court of Appeals of Santiago, Chile has confirmed a verdict which ordered the asbestos company Pizarreño S.A. to pay compensation of $80 million (pesos) (US$122,550+) to the children of Manuela del Carmen Marín Cabello, who died on July 18, 2012 as a result of environmental and domestic exposure to asbestos dust brought home on her husband’s work clothes. The court heard evidence documenting the company’s extensive knowledge regarding the deadly hazard of asbestos exposure. See: Pizarreño deberá pagar $80 millones a hijos de mujer que murió de asbestosis [Pizarreño must pay $80 million to children of a woman who died of asbestosis].
Dec 6, 2017
In a press release issued by Eternit S.A., Brazil’s biggest asbestos conglomerate, on December 5, 2017 the company informed its shareholders and the financial markets that it had suspended mining at Brazil’s only chrysotile asbestos mine, which was operated by the Eternit subsidiary SAMA, following the Supreme Court verdict of November 29 declaring the mining, processing, use, sale and export of asbestos and asbestos-containing products unconstitutional throughout the country. Also suspended were the activities of the Eternit subsidiary Precon Goiás, which was a manufacturer of asbestos cement tiles. See: Eternit S.A. Press release.
Asbestos in Schools
Dec 4, 2017
The Joint Union Asbestos Committee (JUAC) has issued new guidance reminding schools of the precautions needed to prevent hazardous exposures caused by pinning up Christmas decorations and exhibits in the majority of schools which still contain asbestos products. According to the Department for Education, pressing staples or pins into asbestos-containing walls or ceilings can release harmful fibers into the air. JUAC has recommended that this alert be incorporated as part of schools’ mandatory asbestos management plans in order to give staff “timely reminders.” See: Schools told not to pin up Christmas decorations in union asbestos guidance.
Port Authority Negligent
Dec 4, 2017
Announcements have been made regarding substantial compensation payments awarded by courts to family members of two men who died of mesothelioma due to occupational asbestos exposures experienced whilst employed by the Trieste Port Authority; the Simoni family was awarded €700,000 for the 2013 death of 64-year old Luigi Simioni who had worked at the port loading and unloading asbestos cargo from 1973 onwards; the relatives of port worker Gina Grube received €645,000. See: Amianto:700 mila euro alla famiglia dell'ex dipendente dall'Autorità portuale [Asbestos: 700 thousand euros to the family of a former employee of the Port Authority].
National Asbestos Profile
Dec 4, 2017
A National Asbestos Profile for Australia has been published in accordance with WHO/ILO guidelines to “provide information and define the baseline situation with regard to the elimination of asbestos-related diseases.” The 49-page document highlights the need for further research into the extent of asbestos contamination of housing stock and the cost and social implications of caring for Australians with asbestos-related diseases. The collection of additional information on these subjects will inform government decisions and enable the implementation of effective measures to prevent future exposures to asbestos. See: National Asbestos Profile for Australia.
Asbestos Ban in 2019!
Dec 1, 2017
At a press conference on Monday, November 27, 2017, Svetlana Bolokan – head of Moldova’s Department for Management of Waste and Chemicals – announced that the country intends to ban the sale and import of chrysotile asbestos-containing materials and chrysotile asbestos fiber by 2019. According to the Moldova news agency Infotag, the Ministry of Agriculture, Regional Development and the Environment has already issued legislation stipulating the provisions and timing of the asbestos prohibitions. See: Шифер вреден для здоровья: в чем кроется опасность? [Asbestos-cement roofing is bad for health: what is the danger?].
Nov 30, 2017
On November 27, Eternit – Brazil’s Asbestos Giant – announced that due to falling demand the company would phase-out chrysotile asbestos use from December 2018. Last week, a court in Rio de Janeiro gave the company 120 days to shut down production of asbestos tiles in the State of Rio de Janeiro. Currently, Eternit factories in the cities of Rio de Janeiro (RJ), Colombo (PR),Simões Filho (BA), Goiânia and Anápolis (GO) use 60% synthetic polypropylene fiber and 40% chrysotile asbestos in the manufacture of tiles. See: Eternit deixará de usar amianto em fabricação de telhas até 2018 [Eternit to stop using asbestos in tile production in 2018].
Asbestos Ban Still on Track
Nov 30, 2017
The fact that Canada and Ukraine had signed a free trade agreement in August 2017 which stipulated that asbestos imports from Ukraine would be allowed despite a pledge to ban asbestos use in Canada in 2018 had raised serious concerns amongst health advocates. Clarification has been obtained from the Environment & Climate Change Ministry (Canada), which is overseeing the implementation of the ban: “When the new Regulations are in place, the Government of Canada will prohibit the import of asbestos into Canada, and the export of asbestos from Canada to any country including the Ukraine.” See: Canada will prohibit the import of asbestos products from Ukraine.
Asbestos Documentary Award
Nov 29, 2017
On November 26, 2017, the Japanese documentary Sennan Asbestos Disaster won the FILMeX audience award at the Singapore International Film Festival. The director Kazuo Hara accepted the award in person as he was present in his capacity as the FILMeX jury chairman. In October 2017, the film had won the Citizen’s Prize at the Yamagata International Documentary Film Festival in Japan and the Mercenat Award at the Busan International Film Festival in Korea. The documentary is 215 minutes long and took 10 years of research, filming and post-production to bring to the cinema. See: Indonesia’s ‘The Seen and Unseen,’ ‘Marlina’ Share Tokyo FILMeX Grand Prize.
Dynamics behind a National Ban
Nov 29, 2017
An academic paper published in a special issue (Global Panorama of National Experiences in Public Health Actions to Ban Asbestos) of the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health considers the failings of multiple stakeholders responsible for the long delay in banning asbestos in New Zealand and delineates strategies which finally resulted in prohibitions being enacted. The authors highlight the importance of maintaining pressure on Governments, public access to information about the asbestos hazard and inter-country dialogue amongst victims, researchers and officials. See: Banning Asbestos in New Zealand, 1936–2016, an 80-Year Long Saga.
Asbestos Site Concerns
Nov 25, 2017
On November 22, 2017, the All Party Parliamentary Asbestos Sub-Group was informed of concerns about environmental asbestos exposures in the Spodden Valley in the area where the former Turner Brothers Asbestos factory had been sited. The sub-group was asked to look into actions of public and private stakeholders with responsibilities for planning, remediation and public safety relating to asbestos contaminated land. Graham Dring, Chairman of the UK Asbestos Victim Support Group Forum, told the meeting: “Standard testing and remediation techniques for complex asbestos sites may not be safe enough.” See: Spodden Valley ‘Greyfield’ asbestos discussed at Westminster.
Asbestos: Mixed Messages
Nov 25, 2017
An online interview on a Belarus news portal, highlights the asbestos cancer risk to people who worked with asbestos or lived in close proximity to those workers and asserts, wrongly, that the asbestos hazard to construction workers is now “almost completely eliminated” due to the known health effects of asbestos exposures. According to data from the United States Geological Survey in the years 2014, 2015 and 2016, Belarus consumed 6,212, 7,183, and 5,525 tonnes of asbestos, respectively. See: Онколог объясняет, как находят рак, что есть, чтобы не заболеть, и какие анализы сдавать 30-летним [An oncologist explains how to detect cancer, what to eat to avoid it and what tests to take to identify it to a 30-year-old].
Asbestos at Nuclear Processing Plant
Nov 25, 2017
Asbestos contamination was discovered in thermal insulating material for pipes at the Areva nuclear waste reprocessing plant in La Hague, northern France during routine maintenance operations in September 2017. While comments from management sources were reassuring – none of the airborne samples taken have “revealed asbestos particles in suspension” – the labor inspectorate was more cautious, warning of the risk not only to those directly exposed to the asbestos but also to others who may have inhaled fibers present throughout the plant. Processing operations have ceased for the time being. See: La Hague: de l'amiante dans l'usine Areva [The Hague: asbestos in the Areva plant].
Asbestos Scandal Grows!
Nov 24, 2017
The scandal over the use of asbestos-containing shot-blasting material in EU countries has mushroomed as the true scale of the problem has begun to emerge. It had been thought that the number of Dutch companies using the product was 140; as of now, it’s believed that the true figure is 594 companies working at 842 locations in Holland. Two lawsuits have been initiated over the contamination, with the second one filed on November 23, 2017 by the Muehlhan Group, which is claiming €2.4 million for damages and asbestos testing and remediation work. See: Straalmiddel met asbest op veel meer bedrijfslocaties [Blasting agent with asbestos at many more business locations].