News Item Archive

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Displaying first 25 items in reverse date order (default)
 

Toxic Trains: More Asbestos Found

Apr 20, 2018

On April 19, 2018, Metro de Madrid informed trade unions that more asbestos had been found in the driver's cabin of two old models of trains. The unwelcome discovery was made in the insulating plate behind a cabinet; the company said this presented no risk to drivers but could pose a hazard to workshop mechanics. To prevent this happening, work has been suspended on these units. Metro de Madrid has embarked on a €5million asbestos decontamination program and has said that suburban trains will be asbestos-free by the end of 2019. See: Metro de Madrid detecta más amianto en la cabina del conductor de dos modelos de trenes antiguos [Madrid Metro detects more asbestos in driver's cab of two old train models].
 

Disposal of Asbestos Waste

Apr 20, 2018

Between 2016 and 2016, 98% of Portugal’s asbestos-contaminated construction and demolition debris was dumped in landfill for non-hazardous waste. The reason for this is to be found in the ambiguity of Portuguese law: while Administrative Rule No. 40/2014 does not mandate the disposal of demolition and construction waste in landfills for hazardous waste, Decree-Law No. 183/2009 establishes a legal regime for the disposal of hazardous waste in landfill. Although asbestos is classed as hazardous as per the European Waste List, it can therefore go to landfills for hazardous and non-hazardous materials. See: Mais de 66 mil toneladas de amianto enterradas em aterros para resíduos não perigosos [More than 66,000 tons of asbestos buried in landfills for non-hazardous waste].
 

Mesothelioma: Progress?

Apr 20, 2018

An article in The Lancet this month reviewed the global mesothelioma landscape and highlighted the inability of standard protocols to significantly improve outcomes for patients. The authors discussed pioneering therapies including immune checkpoint inhibitors, other immunotherapies, targeted therapies and combinations of novel drugs. They concluded: “New therapeutic strategies, combined with ways to identify those patients most likely to benefit from each therapy, will hopefully allow the prognosis of malignant pleural mesothelioma to be classified as a chronic disease rather than a rapidly fatal cancer, which will hopefully lead to a cure in the future.” See: Novel therapies for malignant pleural mesothelioma.
 

Ban Asbestos Action

Apr 19, 2018

Yesterday (April 18) afternoon, 20 Greenpeace protesters hung a 35 meter long sign on the pedestrian bridge over Rojas Avenue with an urgent message addressed to Colombian politicians, “Congresistas: su cobardía la pagamos todos” [Congressmen: we all pay for your cowardice], urging them to approve the “Ana Cecilia Niño” law to ban asbestos in Colombia. The last of the seven times the bill, named after one of Colombia’s most famous asbestos victims, failed to become law was in October, 2016. See: La protesta de Greenpeace en Bogotá contra el asbesto [The protest by Greenpeace in Bogotá against asbestos].
 

Tragic Asbestos Decision

Apr 19, 2018

On April 18, 2018, a Turin appeals court dismissed charges against defendants convicted by a lower court over 12 asbestos deaths amongst Olivetti workers employed between the 1960s and 1990s at the company’s factory in Ivrea, northern Italy. Convictions were reversed for Olivetti executives Carlo De Benedetti and his brother Franco De Benedetti, who had been sentenced to prison for manslaughter and personal injury by the first instance court. There is widespread outrage in the town of Ivrea, with the Mayor saying: “This story is an open wound for the city and the territory…” See: Amianto all'Olivetti di Ivrea, assolti tutti i manager [Asbestos at Olivetti, Ivrea, all managers absolved].
 

Asbestos in Schools

Apr 19, 2018

A national program broadcast this week highlighted the pervasive and deadly scandal of asbestos contamination of UK schools, with interviews with a bereaved daughter, trade union leader and a legal expert, all of whom called for action to address the toxic exposures experienced by teachers, support staff and children on a daily basis. There was, said one interviewee, a “reluctant conspiracy of silence among those who are in a position to point out the dangers.” Failures of the Health and Safety Executive and Department of Education to address the serious issues posed by the presence of asbestos in schools were highlighted. See: Pressure on authorities to do more to remove asbestos from schools.
 

Asbestos Hazard in Demolition

Apr 19, 2018

The family of construction worker Pietro Macaluso was awarded $60 million in damages by a Manhattan jury for his premature death at the age of 56 in July 2016 from mesothelioma. In the 1970s and 1980s he was occupationally exposed to asbestos when he was employed in demolition work which required the removal of asbestos-covered boilers from family homes in Brooklyn. During a 9-week trial, the family’s attorney told the jury that the defendants had known about the asbestos health risks and taken action to protect employees at their factories but did nothing to warn the public or people like Mr. Macaluso. See: Critics say tort reform necessary after $60M asbestos settlement.
 

Toxic Brake Linings

Apr 19, 2018

A paper examining how multiple agencies and authorities collaborated to deal with a 2016 discovery by the Public Health Department of the Government of Aragon that asbestos-containing brake linings imported from China were being sold in Zaragoza and elsewhere in Spain considers the interactions between EU laws and regulations and public administrations throughout Spain, and concludes that the operation of the current system is impacted by the fragmented nature of political authority and the autonomy of the different public administrations. See: Occupational health administrative coordination a propos of a case: brake linings with asbestos in a company.
 

A Toxic Legacy

Apr 17, 2018

A commentary calling for the immediate ban on the import, processing and use of asbestos and asbestos-containing products in Uganda urges the authorities to adopt a “guided national decommissioning plan purposed to protect the public and the environment” from asbestos exposures, and highlights the health risk to citizens of exposure to asbestos products contained in deteriorating older buildings, stating that: “maintenance workers of old asbestos structures have considerable risks comparable to that of industrial workers due to asbestos dust.” See: Asbestos: What Uganda needs to do about the risky exposure.
 

Asbestos Phase-Out!

Apr 17, 2018

Railway authorities in Mumbai, India are undertaking replacement of asbestos-cement roofing at major suburban stations with metal ones that are environmentally safer, lighter and sturdier. New station buildings and platforms are constructed with non-asbestos materials and older premises are in the process of being decontaminated as part of a phased program of works. According to Manager S K Jain of the Central Railway, Mumbai, asbestos is discarded according to safety regulations: “We have directed the stores department to dispose of the sheets in a safe manner, so that there are no harmful repercussions.” See: Mumbai: Railway Stations To Have Environment-Friendly Metal Roofs.
 

Victim’s Verdict

Apr 17, 2018

A Labor Court in Rome, has awarded the estate of a deceased mechanic the sum €236,000 for his occupationally-caused death in 2011 from pulmonary adenocarcinoma. The judge condemned Cotral, the regional public transport company of Lazio and Vincenzo Cecchini’s employer, for failing to provide safe working conditions, including protection from asbestos exposures, between December 1981 and December 1992, the period during which the deceased was employed. See: Amianto, Tribunale del lavoro di Roma condanna la Cotral per morte di un meccanico a causa del cancro [Asbestos, Rome Labor Court condemns Cotral for mechanic’s cancer death].
 

Asbestos at College

Apr 17, 2018

Staff at the University of Toronto (U of  T) have condemned the multiple failures to take timely and appropriate actions to protect workers and students from toxic asbestos exposures following the U of  T’s “worst asbestos breach in more than a decade early last year at its medical-sciences building.” Other incidents have taken place since then. According to Terezia Zoric, vice-president of grievances for U of  T’s faculty association, the level of anxiety regarding asbestos on campus remains high; a spokesperson for the Association of Part-Time Undergraduate Students said that urgent clarification regarding the asbestos situation was needed. See: University of Toronto criticized for poor handling of asbestos issues on campus.
 

Toxic Trains

Apr 17, 2018

Asbestos in Metro de Madrid rolling stock on lines 1, 6 and 9, will be investigated by a commission of enquiry with deliberations beginning on May 11 and taking place on Fridays once a month until December. Submissions will be heard from Metro executives, affected workers, occupational health experts and others. Findings will be shared with the authorities in Argentina who are investigating the purchase by Subterraneos de Buenos Aires of toxic second-hand Spanish rolling stock. See: Podemos presidirá la comisión de investigación del amianto en el Metro pese a la oposición del PSOE [Podemos will preside over the committee investigating asbestos in the Metro despite opposition from the PSOE].
 

Fall in Asbestos Demand!

Apr 13, 2018

According to a report issued by the Vietnam Roof Sheeting Association, the consumption of asbestos roofing in Vietnam fell by up to 35% in 2017 as consumers sought safer alternatives. The Association acknowledged the growth in ban asbestos advocacy and increasing consumer support for alternative products. The cost advantage posed by asbestos sheeting has been neutralized by the availability of cheaper steel materials also suitable for poorer people. Total asbestos roofing production in 2017 was 55.8 million square meters, equal to 66% of that in 2016. See: Roofing for the poor: shifting consumption patterns (Eng. translation of: Tấm lợp cho người nghèo: Chuyển dịch xu hướng mới).
 

Award for Professor Anna Nowak

Apr 13, 2018

The Cancer Council of Western Australia has named Professor Anna Nowak the Cancer Researcher of the Year 2018 at a ceremony in Perth. Presenting her award, the Council spokesperson highlighted her “outstanding contribution to cancer research over the previous 12-24 months.” Prof. Nowak is, the citation stated: “a world-leading clinical researcher in mesothelioma. She combines detailed laboratory knowledge with outstanding clinical trials experience, collaborative spirit and multidisciplinary drive, to improve both cancer research and patient outcomes.” See: 2018 Research Excellence Awards celebrate 3 of WA's brightest researchers.
 

Asbestos in Make-Up Scandal

Apr 12, 2018

A TV broadcast has revealed this week that more children’s make-up sets sold by Claire's Accessories in its 32 Dutch outlets were contaminated with asbestos than was previously known. The extent of the contamination was discovered as a result of research commissioned by EenVandaag – a current affairs program on public TV. Toxic fibers have been found in the cosmetics sold under the names: Bedazzled rainbow heart make-up, Rainbow Bedazzled Star Makeup Set, Claire's Compact Powder and Claire's expert shadow and highlight finishing kit. Concerns have been raised as to whether the company’s products “can still be trusted” after these discoveries. See: Claire’s kindermake-up schandaal breidt zich verder uit [Claire's children’s makeup scandal expands further].
 

Victory in Bahia!

Apr 12, 2018

João Batista de Castro Júnior, federal judge of the 1st Court of the Judicial Branch of Vitória da Conquista, has issued a decisive judgment regarding the negligence of SAMA – a subsidiary of Eternit – and Saint-Gobain in spreading contamination throughout the environment of the Bom Jesus da Serra region, southwest of Bahia, Brazil. The Judge ordered the demolition of houses and roads built with asbestos tailings, the removal of the toxic debris and payment of $31 million for collective moral damages. See: Justiça Federal manda derrubar casas construídas com Amianto [Federal court orders to demolish houses built with asbestos].
 

Asbestos Hazard in Construction Sector

Apr 12, 2018

According to a new survey by the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH), nearly a 25% of British building workers believe they have been occupationally exposed to asbestos. The release of the survey coincided with the launch of the IOSH’s latest “No Time To Lose” occupational cancer campaign. Some of the statistics reported were startling: 15% of workers said they had never been informed of the asbestos hazard, 33% never checked the asbestos register before starting work on a new site and 18% said if they found asbestos they would be unsure or have no idea of what to do. See: Asbestos: 23% of construction workers exposed.
 

Toxic Trains

Apr 12, 2018

An investigation into the contentious sale of 73 asbestos-contaminated trains by Metro de Madrid in 2011 to Argentina has been announced by the Community of Madrid with the Minister of Transport, Housing and Infrastructure Rosalía Gonzalo telling the Assembly’s plenary session that those who failed to comply with Spanish laws will be held to account. Opposition spokesmen queried the lack of action regarding asbestos in older Metro de Madrid vehicles. See: La Comunidad de Madrid abrirá una investigación sobre la venta de trenes de Metro con amianto a Buenos Aires [The Community of Madrid will open an investigation on the sale of Metro trains containing asbestos to Buenos Aires].
 

Fatal Legacy

Apr 11, 2018

An 18-minute video uploaded to youtube by NTV Panorama, documents the ubiquity of deteriorating asbestos-cement roofs throughout Uganda especially in public buildings such as schools and police barracks and housing for police officers. Interviews with Ugandan health experts Dr Jackson Orem and Tom Okururt inform the discussion of the hazard posed by exposure to deteriorating asbestos roofs. A spokesman confirmed a program to replace toxic roofs on police buildings located in several cities. The asbestos hazard has been raised in Parliament 21 times in 16 years; no action has been taken. See: NTV PANORAMA: Exploring the dangers of continued asbestos use.
 

Asbestos Mortality Increase

Apr 11, 2018

A 5% increase in annual deaths from mesothelioma was reported in the US between 1999 and 2015 from 2,479 to 2,597 fatalities. The increase in deaths was observed across all ethnicities, in males and females and in people over 85 years old. “Continuing occurrence,” the authors of this report noted “of malignant mesothelioma deaths in persons aged <55 years suggests ongoing inhalation exposure to asbestos fibers and possibly other causative EMPs [elongate mineral particles].” The paper concludes that in light of these figures, there is an urgent need to prevent future hazardous exposures and monitor temporal trends. See: Malignant Mesothelioma Mortality — United States, 1999–2015.
 

Asbestos in Paradise?

Apr 11, 2018

Australian experts have issued warnings regarding the risk to tourists of holidays in backpacker heavens throughout Asia due to the continuing use of asbestos and asbestos-containing products in the region. China, India, Thailand, Indonesia and Vietnam are amongst the top 10 global consumers with Laos having the world’s highest per capita consumption of asbestos. Professor Ken Takahashi, director of Australia’s Asbestos Diseases Research Institute recommends that travellers “avoid going near places where asbestos may be obviously present, the most typical of which is asbestos factories or mines.” See: Asbestos exposure, a hidden risk for budget tourists in Asia.
 

Asbestos: Cosmetics Recall

Apr 10, 2018

Claire’s Accessories – a US company with international outlets – which had been ordered to recall asbestos-tainted children’s cosmetics by US, Canadian and EU authorities has now been instructed by Trading Standards officials to withdraw two of its most popular eye shadow and face blusher kits from sale at its 500 UK outlets. This action follows an alert issued on March 30 to EU member states after experts in Brussels had confirmed the presence of deadly asbestos in Claire’s products. See: Claire's Accessories is ordered to destroy make-up worn by thousands of British teenagers after tests revealed it is contaminated with cancer-causing asbestos.
 

Asbestos Phase-Out in India

Apr 10, 2018

Maharashtra State has inserted clauses in development plans of 12 regions, including some on the outskirts of the capital Mumbai, stipulating that asbestos must not be used in manufacturing units on health grounds. The relevant clause is contained in regulations implemented for 2011-2031 under the Urban Development Department for the development of tourism and hospitality services. For now the clause only applies in “zones around sanctuaries but will be extended to other areas to make Maharashtra an asbestos-free State. Many factories are located near forest and sanctuaries in Mumbai, Pune, Kolhapur, Kalyan, Nashik, Thane and Aurangabad.” See: New rules to make State free of asbestos.
 

Asbestos Health Hazard

Apr 7, 2018

A short video accompanying an online article highlighted the dire hazard posed to Indonesians by focusing on the plight of Jakarta resident Sriyono, who as a result of working at an asbestos processing factory for over 20 years is now seriously ill. Sriyono, who was never warned about the asbestos danger, is the first Indonesian to obtain compensation from the government for his disease. In 2017, he received $4200 for his injuries. Interviews with a ban asbestos campaigner and a government minister contrast the huge discrepancy in approach, with the former urging immediate action to protect citizens and the later using government double-speak to uphold the status quo. See: Asbestos a time bomb in Indonesia.