News Item Archive

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Displaying first 25 items in reverse date order (default)
 

Asbestos: Mixed Messages

Jan 19, 2021

An article uploaded on January 16, 2021 by the State TV and Radio Company of Nizhny Novgorod, a city in Central Russia, sent out mixed messages regarding the health hazard posed by asbestos exposures. On the one hand, the message confirmed that asbestos was “a carcinogen that has caused lung cancer in hundreds of thousands of people. It was widely used until the second half of the last century and undermined the health of builders…” However, on the other hand, the text alleged that “for residents of houses built with asbestos, it does not pose such a danger.” See: Доктор Мясников назвал главную причину рака [Doctor Myasnikov named the main cause of cancer].
 

Marriage of Art and Awareness, Italian-style!

Jan 19, 2021

A five-minute rap, featuring Stefania Crivellari, by the Sicilian artist Picciotto was uploaded to YouTube on January 9, 2021. This piece is a remix of a 2016 work which was, said Picciotto, necessary as the “reclamation of the territory has not been completed and no progress has been made regarding treatment therapies for those who fall ill” (see: Background to 2021 upload). Funds raised by this effort will be donated to a research charity for work on asbestos-related cancers. The narrative of the video accompanying the song included newspaper articles, X-rays, footage of medical personnel, snippets of the “Fuck Cancer Choir,” asbestos warning signs, and other images highlighting Italy’s ongoing asbestos cancer epidemic. See: Ancora Sotto Casa Mia Feat. Picciotto [Still under My House. Picciotto].
 

Asbestos Anxiety in the Navy

Jan 19, 2021

Building on a landmark 2019 verdict for 45 Breton officers of the French Navy whose asbestos anxiety was recognized and compensated, on January 7, 2021, a Rennes administrative court recognized 21 additional cases. Over the last four years, 170 cases have been filed with the administrative court. These cases are, said victims’ campaigner Jean-Paul Le Roux, complex, and the Ministry of Armed Forces remained uncooperative, refusing to provide crucial documentation to claimants and their legal advisors. See: Amiante: la faute du ministère des Armées reconnue pour 21 nouveaux dossiers de marins [Asbestos: the fault of the Ministry of the Armed Forces recognized for 21 new cases of sailors].
 

Asbestos Removal Ban

Jan 19, 2021

On December 17, 2020, by a unanimous decision, the three-member British Colombia (B.C.) Court of Appeal upheld a ruling prohibiting Mike Singh and Seattle Environmental Consulting from working in the asbestos removal industry. Singh had breached workplace safety laws more than 20 times at 11 different worksites – including homes in Vancouver, Burnaby, Richmond and West Vancouver – between 2013 and 2017 and, as a result, had been banned from the asbestos removal industry in 2019 by B.C. Supreme Court Justice Francesca Marzari. See: B.C. Court of Appeal upholds decision barring Vancouver man from asbestos removal industry.
 

Compensation for Hospital Exposures

Jan 18, 2021

Last week (January 14, 2021), it was announced that a settlement had been reached between 48 workers exposed to asbestos during renovation work at the Besançon University Hospital in eastern France between 2009 and 2013 and the legal team representing the health authority. In a landmark decision on April 21, 2020, France’s Court of Cassation (Supreme Court) had ruled that a public authority – the Besançon University Hospital – could be found criminally liable for asbestos exposures experienced by workers. Each member of the class action will receive €10,000 (US$12,080) in damages. See: Amiante au CHU de Besançon: chaque agent exposé recevra 10.000 euros d'indemnisation [Asbestos at Besançon University Hospital: each exposed agent will receive 10,000 euros in compensation].
 

Mesothelioma: Update

Jan 18, 2021

An opinion piece in an online Italian newspaper examined the impact of asbestos exposures throughout Italy in interviews with key medical clinicians and researchers, including Drs. Federica Grosso and Stefania Crivellari, and PhD student Simona Martinotti. Dr. Grosso highlighted the ongoing importance of preventing asbestos exposures, stressing the need to remediate contaminated sites. The use of musical therapy for mesothelioma patients and their carers who are part of a specialist cancer choir founded in 2019 has, said Dr. Crivellai, had “positive effects.” See: Saperne di più sull’amianto e il mesotelioma fra ricerca scientifica e musica [Learn more about asbestos and mesothelioma, from scientific research to music].
 

Asbestos Victims’ Protest

Jan 18, 2021

A press release issued on January 14, 2021 by the French Association of Asbestos Victims Groups (ANDEVA) condemned moves by the government to amalgamate the National Asbestos Compensation Fund (FIVA), created under a law passed in 2000, with the National Office for Medical Accidents, as a cost-saving measure. Created to provide a streamlined procedure by which asbestos victims could obtain compensation for their injuries, FIVA has, to date, settled more than 100,000 claims. ANDEVA called on its members, civil society stakeholders and partnering organizations to raise objections with Parliamentarians over this amalgamation. See: Les victimes de l’amiante refusent de voir le FIVA disparaître [Asbestos victims refuse to see FIVA go away].
 

Shipbreaking Exposé

Jan 18, 2021

Two articles published in December 2020 highlighted the deadly consequences of unregulated and uncontrolled conditions at Bangladesh shipbreaking yards where exposures to toxic substances, including asbestos, on ships sent for scrapping have injured generations of workers. The vessels, many of which are registered under flags of convenience and owned by off-shore companies, flout laws and provide neither warnings nor protection to workers (see: Toxic ships sail in on false papers), with Ministerial officials admitting the complete lack of government supervision and capacity to test ships for the presence of toxic substances.
See: How offshore companies import deadly asbestos into Bangladesh.
 

Asbestos Trial: Update

Jan 14, 2021

On January 11, 12 & 13, 2021, Madrid Judge María Isabel Garaizaba was due to hear evidence in a criminal case against seven defendants responsible for the management of health and occupational risk at the company operating the Madrid Metro. The start of preliminary proceedings over the asbestos-related deaths of two workers had been delayed multiple times because of the coronavirus pandemic; this week it was delayed once again by snowstorm Filomena which forced the suspension of court proceedings. See: Suspendidas por tercera vez las declaraciones de los investigados del caso amianto por la nevada [Suspended for the third time the statements of those investigated in asbestos case due to snow].
 

Government Evasion on Veterans’ Rights

Jan 14, 2021

In a Written answer to a Parliamentary question by MP Stephen Morgan (Dec 30, 2020) to the Ministry of Defence, on Jan 11, 2021 Johnny Mercer MP and Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State affirmed the government’s commitment “to helping forces heroes diagnosed with mesothelioma, a cancer of the lung caused by asbestos.” Although, said Mercer, the government would “support access to compensation for veterans affected by the cancer through either its war pensions scheme or armed forces compensation scheme,” he made no mention of veterans suffering from lung cancer who were exposed to asbestos pre-1987 and continue to be disadvantaged by government policies. See: British veterans left with cancer after military service to be supported, minister says.
 

Asbestos Removal Project

Jan 14, 2021

A scheme to provide financial support for homeowners to remove asbestos roofing from 225 properties has been announced by authorities in Yeonggwang-gun, a county in South Korea’s South Jeolla Province. The 2021 allocation for the project made by the county was 90 million won (US$82,000); all applications must be made to the Urban Environment Division between January 12 and February 26, 2021. Priority will be given to applications for remediation work on vacant and dilapidated houses. See: 영광군, 석면 슬레이트지붕 철거 지원사업 추진 [ Yeonggwang-gun, asbestos roof demolition support project].
 

Asbestos Remediation at Charity

Jan 14, 2021

A project to remove asbestos roofing from the headquarters of The Center for Occupational Activities of the Portuguese Association of Parents and Friends of the Mentally Handicapped Citizen (APPACDM) in Valença was announced this week. The €270,000 (US$330,000) budget for this work was approved last year under a Regional Operational Program. According to Luiz Costa, APPACDM’s President, the charity has “180 days to proceed with the work. We are working on the process so that we can open the public tender. It should still take between three to four months for the project to start.” See: Amianto vai ser removido do centro da APPACDM de Valença [Asbestos will be removed from APPACDM center in Valença].
 

Asbestos Health Hazard: Alert

Jan 12, 2021

An article on a Russian language website for the Omsk region acknowledged the link between exposure to asbestos – a valued resource mined in Russia – and lung cancer, stating: “Pulmonologists estimate that in about 20 years one in three lung cancers will be caused by exposure to asbestos dust…” The text of this article pointed out that asbestos roofing “constantly emits dust” and that fibers such as those released by weathered asbestos roofing are “responsible for lung and pleural cancers...” See: Рак легких — от чего еще, кроме курения он возникает? [Lung cancer – what else besides smoking causes it?].
 

National Award for Asbestos Mine?!

Jan 12, 2021

In what seems to be a rather bizarre pronouncement, on December 30, 2020 Chinese authorities recognized the Mangya chrysotile (white) asbestos mine as the first national industrial heritage project in Qinghai Province, in the northwest of China. The mine, which was founded in the 1950s, is operated by the country’s largest asbestos mining and processing enterprise and supplies asbestos fiber to 40% of the domestic asbestos market. In the article about this award, there is no mention of the occupational or environmental hazard posed by the commercial exploitation of asbestos. See: 青海茫崖石棉矿成青海首个国家级工业遗产项目 [Qinghai Mangya asbestos mine became the first national industrial heritage project in Qinghai].
 

Asbestos Cover-up

Jan 12, 2021

Two podcasts totalling 90 minutes examined the question of whether or not there was a cover-up in the US about the hazards posed by occupational and environmental exposures to asbestos. The content of the broadcasts traced the history of asbestos use and the evolution of medical and scientific knowledge regarding its dangers from the 19th century to the present. The presenters concluded that there was sufficient proof to establish that government stakeholders had supported vested interests to prioritize the needs of the asbestos industry over the welfare of US citizens in a conspiracy which condemned many of those affected to debilitating disease and premature death. See: The Asbestos Cover-Up Pt 1 and The Asbestos Cover-Up Pt 2.
 

Post-ban Asbestos Hazard

Jan 12, 2021

An interesting briefing on the uses and abuses of asbestos – by a scientific expert – highlighted the hazard asbestos exposures still posed to Brazilians despite a Supreme Court ruling in 2017 which banned the commercial exploitation of asbestos. Asbestos-containing products had been used for decades throughout the country and many toxic products remain hidden within the national infrastructure. The author of this text, Professor Victor Ricardo Ferreira, cited World Health Organization policy which stated that: “there are no safe methods of handling this product and that its risks outweigh the possible benefits.” See: Aminato [Asbestos].
 

Asbestos Ban: Update

Jan 11, 2021

Despite the fact that the Colombian asbestos ban came into effect on January 1, 2021, critics point out that there has not yet been any progress made on the adoption of a protocol for the replacement of asbestos-containing products in the country. In the Ana Cecilia Niño ban asbestos law, a deadline of five years was specified for formulating a public policy to eradicate the asbestos hazard in Colombia. According to politician Mauricio Toro, the Government had, so far, convened a couple of meetings to which neither academics nor representatives of civil society had been invited. See: Prohibición del asbesto entró en vigencia, pero no hay protocolo de sustitución [Asbestos ban went into effect, but there is no substitution protocol].
 

Resumption of Asbestos Proceedings

Jan 11, 2021

This week – on January 11, 12 and 13 – Madrid investigating Judge María Isabel Garaizaba will take statements in a criminal case against seven defendants responsible for health and occupational risk prevention who were employed by Madrid Metro. The charges they face of reckless homicide relate to the asbestos-related deaths of two former workers. The start of preliminary proceedings had been delayed multiple times by the pandemic. See: Las declaraciones del caso amianto se reanudan este lunes con las comparecencias de los investigados [The statements of the asbestos case resume this Monday with the appearances of those investigated].
 

Asbestos Recall of Toxic Items

Jan 11, 2021

Over three million items sold by the Japanese Nitori company have been recalled from sale due to asbestos contamination of between 0.2 and 1.5%. Amongst the toxic products sold by Nitori between December 4, 2016 and December 16, 2020 were bath mats, containing up to 15 times the allowable concentration of asbestos, and coasters manufactured by the Japanese company Horiki Kosakusho. On December 28, 2020 a spokesperson for the Chemical Substances Control Division of the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, confirmed that asbestos had been detected in 18 types of Nitori products. See: <速報>ニトリ販売のバスマットから基準15倍のアスベスト検出 [Breaking news: Asbestos detection of 15 times the standard from bath mats sold by Nitori].
 

Asbestos in Schools: Update

Jan 8, 2021

European Union (EU) funds of €78 million – provided under EU Regional Operational Programs – have been budgeted for an asbestos removal program in schools in Portugal. By the December 2020 deadline, applications had been received for funding for remediation work at 486 schools in 149 municipalities across the country, according to figures released on January 7, 2021 by the Ministry of Territorial Cohesion. According to a Ministry spokesperson, to date these funds have paid for the removal and replacement of asbestos roofs “in more than 200 public schools.” See: Há 486 escolas candidatas ao programa de remoção de Amianto [486 schools have applied for the asbestos removal program].
 

Mesothelioma in UK Military Cohort

Jan 8, 2021

The first paper examining the mesothelioma experience of UK military veterans has highlighted significant issues including the difficulty of navigating military, health and civil systems, and the influence of the military experience on sufferers’ coping strategies. The paper, which was based on research undertaken by co-authors for The Military Mesothelioma Experience Study, noted “specific challenges and care needs related to veterans with mesothelioma.” Following on from the project, a report with recommendations regarding care and support of veterans living with mesothelioma is being compiled. See: Living with mesothelioma: A qualitative study of the experiences of male military veterans in the UK.
 

Asbestos Legacy in Mining Town

Jan 7, 2021

Groups studying the environment announced this week that research undertaken in October 2020 in Quebec identified contamination of a river in the former asbestos mining town of Asbestos, now called Val-des-Sources. Sediment in 8 samples from the Nicolet Sud-Ouest River contained up to 5% asbestos with the most toxic samples taken from the foot of huge mountains of waste created by the Jeffrey chrysotile (white) asbestos mine. According to Daniel Green, of the Bureau of Investigations: “Clearly, the dumps provided asbestos fibers to the sediment.” Corroborating these findings, researcher Olivier Jacques said he had observed similar levels of asbestos in lakes fed by the Bécancour River in the Thetford Mines region. See: De l’amiante coule dans une rivière [Asbestos is flowing in a river].
 

EPA Asbestos Evaluation: Update

Jan 7, 2021

A commentary which was part of the January 4, 2021 online edition of the National Law Review reported on the publication on December 30, 2020 of the Final Risk Evaluation for Asbestos, Part 1: Chrysotile Asbestos of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), stating that the EPA “found that there is unreasonable risk to workers, occupational non-users, consumers, and/or bystanders within each of the six chrysotile asbestos use categories.” The EPA could take various actions to address the risks posed by asbestos exposure including prohibiting its consumption, handling and sale throughout the US. See: EPA Publishes Final Risk Evaluation for Asbestos, Part 1: Chrysotile Asbestos.
 

Union Victory for Railway Workers

Jan 7, 2021

Three hundred and ninety-five asbestos-exposed railway workers from the Italian city of Pistoia will finally be able to retire at the end of a 13-month long legal battle as an amendment to the 2016 budget law – which permitted early retirement by eligible workers who applied prior to December 31, 2020 – was passed by Parliament. The changes to the budget law consisted of six important articles, said trade unions leaders who had been instrumental in achieving this victory. See: Lavoratori esposti all’amianto Via libera alla pensione per 395 [395 workers exposed to asbestos get green light to retirement].
 

Asbestos Ban Takes Effect!

Jan 4, 2021

Legislation banning the mining, import, processing and sale of asbestos fiber and products containing it came into effect on January 1, 2021 in Colombia. The aim of law 1968 of July 11, 2019 was to protect workers and members of the public from the very serious health hazards posed by asbestos exposures. Colombia had been an asbestos producer and consumer with the majority of fiber being used in the production of asbestos-cement building products. As of January 1, 2021, the Government had a five year deadline to formulate a policy for the eradication of asbestos throughout the country. See: A partir de este 1º de enero se prohibe distribuir, comercializar y producir asbesto en Colombia [As of January 1st, it is prohibited to distribute, commercialize and produce asbestos in Colombia].