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Displaying first 25 items in reverse date order (default)

Post- Brexit Asbestos Concerns

Mar 26,2020

On March 24, 2020 – the day before Parliament adjourned – a written answer to a question (HL2312) submitted on March 9, by Lord Alton of Liverpool regarding the UK prohibitions on the use, sale and imports of asbestos and asbestos-containing products was provided by Lord Goldsmith, Minister of State for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. In his response (HL2312), Goldsmith wrote: “The Government has no plans to revise these restrictions [as per the EU’s Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation & Restriction of Chemicals Regulation] or alter the way asbestos is regulated in the UK.” See: Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered on 24th March 2020.

Mesothelioma: Updated Information

Mar 26, 2020

A paper published in Journal of Translational Lung Cancer Research, Vol 9, Supplement 1 (February 2020) calling for national asbestos bans was one of 11 submissions in this special issue dedicated to the subject of mesothelioma. Other papers in the supplement covered topics such as disease causation, chemotherapy innovations, immunotherapy developments, surgical interventions, peritoneal mesothelioma and the implications of chromosomal rearrangements in the development of new treatment protocols. See: Epidemiology of mesothelioma in the 21st century in Europe and the United States, 40 years after restricted/banned asbestos use.

Quebec’s Asbestos Rebrand

Mar 26, 2020

In a somewhat whimsical article, and mindful of the impact of the deadly global pandemic, Greenpeace Canada discussed several suggestions for a new name for the toxic Quebec town where mining and milling operations had exposed generations of workers and residents to the asbestos hazard. The name search led by the Mayor of Asbestos is ongoing with the deadline for submissions March 20, after which a shortlist would be compiled. The suggestions made by Greenpeace were endangered species of the Eastern Townships region including: Bicknell, Lamproie, Listère, Blongios, Chevalier and Apalone. See: Greenpeace Wants to Help the City of Asbestos Change its Toxic Name.

Call for Urgent Action

Mar 26, 2020

In mid-March, several US environmental organizations launched a lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for its alleged violation of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). The litigants asserted that instead of using changes made in 2016 to TSCA to protect the public, the EPA was using them to streamline approval for the new use of potentially dangerous chemicals. It had been hoped that the changes to TSCA would have seen the EPA finally ban the use of asbestos and asbestos-containing products to protect Americans from hazardous exposures which could cause deadly cancers and respiratory diseases. This did not happen. See: Trump’s EPA is being sued for hiding information about new chemicals.

Asbestos Concerns over Trade Deal

Mar 23, 3030

Global Justice Now, a UK NGO, has raised concerns about the potential health hazards posed by a UK–US trade deal highlighting the lower safety standards for cosmetic products in the US. Tests by the US Food and Drug (FDA) Administration in 2019 and 2020 revealed asbestos contamination of several cosmetic products, including makeup targeted at children. Most recently, on March 9, 2020, the FDA revealed findings of the presence of asbestos fibers in cosmetics (see FDA report on cosmetics tested for asbestos).
See: US trade deal ‘could flood Britain with toxic cosmetics.

Russia’s Future Asbestos-Free?

Mar 23, 2020

A Russian language article about modern architecture, green construction and ecological solutions to construction challenges stated that: “The concept of ‘green’ is not limited to a certain landscaping of local territories and building facades. It is also about quality and compliance with environmentally friendly building materials. A striking example is asbestos, which was used in mass construction, and is now completely banned in the construction of buildings.” See: Мегаполисам прописали сертификацию. Города скоро будут генерировать половину выбросов парниковых газов [Prescribed certification for megacities. Cities will soon generate half greenhouse gas emissions].

Causation of Lung Cancer

Mar 23, 2020

Up to 15% of all the cases of lung cancer in Spain are caused by exposure to asbestos contained in products incorporated within the country’s infrastructure, according to a recently issued report by the College of Surveyors, Technical Architects and Building Engineers of Barcelona (Collegi d'Aparelladors, Arquitectes Tècnics i Enginyers d'Edificació de Barcelona). During the 20th century, consumption of asbestos in Spain totalled 2.6 million tonnes. See: El amianto presente en materiales como el fibrocemento causa entre un 10 y un 15% de los cánceres de pulmón [Asbestos present in materials such as fiber cement causes between 10 and 15% of lung cancers].

Russian Attack on Biden Campaign

Mar 23, 2020

A scurrilous article on a Russian website attacked the presidential campaign of Joe Biden claiming his supporters included firms that made billions from lawsuits against defendants including Johnson & Johnson, the administration of New York City and others. The article, which named the firm of Weitz & Luxenberg that “boasts on its website that its lawyers have won about $8.5 billion in asbestos cases,” concluded that: “Biden is supported by people with a very dubious reputation… the Democrats always had connections with the anti-asbestos lobby in the United States, but now the evidence has surfaced ...” See: Джо Байдена в президентской гонке спонсируют юристы, связанные с антиасбестовой кампанией [Joe Biden sponsored by anti-asbestos campaign lawyers in presidential race].

Asbestos Exposé

Mar 20, 2020

In the 3rd episode of a BBC series entitled: Beauty Laid Bare, the harmful ingredients found in everyday items used by teenagers taking part in the program were revealed; the presence of asbestos fibers in goods sold by mainstream manufacturers such as Johnson & Johnson, Claire’s Accessories and MUA came as a shock to the youngsters. US scientist and whistle blower Sean Fitzgerald explained the test results of products used by the teenagers, who were baffled about the failure of oversight by U.S. government agencies to prevent the marketing and sale of contaminated goods to members of the public. See: Beauty Laid Bare, Series 1: 3: The Ingredients.

Asbestos Conundrum from Malaysia

Mar 20, 2020

An article by Assoc. Prof. Dr Warren Thomas – who cites his membership of Ireland’s Royal College of Surgeons and is currently working at Malaysia’s Perdana University (see: Professor Warren Thomas’ profile) – downplays the health hazard posed by human exposures to chrysotile (white) asbestos stating: “there remains some uncertainty over the health risks associated with white (chrysotile) asbestos.” As the subjects taught by Thomas are: Cardiovascular Physiology, Endocrinology, Renal Physiology and Neurophysiology, one wonders what motivated him to offer himself as an expert on this subject? See: Asbestos exposure can cause lung cancer years later.

Victim’s Verdict in Spain

Mar 20, 2020

On March 17, Social Court 1 of Cáceres, in western central Spain ruled that long-term asbestos exposure had caused the pulmonary fibrosis of a retired worker. From 1969 until 1982, he had been employed in a factory owned by Productos Aislantes SA which manufactured bakelite products containing between 7 and 16% asbestos; as a result of workplace exposures, the claimant had contracted pulmonary interstitial fibrosis with fibrosing lung lesions that resulted in alterations in pulmonary diffusion and required portable oxygen therapy. See: Un juzgado falla que la exposición al amianto es la causa de la fibrosis pulmonar de una trabajadora [Court finds that exposure to asbestos is the cause of worker's pulmonary fibrosis].

Toxic Talc

Mar 18, 2020

A paper uploaded by the American Journal of Industrial Medicine on March 16, 2020 reviewed the cases of 75 people with mesothelioma whose only asbestos exposures were repeated exposures to cosmetic talcum powder. After extensive questioning, pathological testing, medical examinations and other procedures, the authors concluded that: “Mesotheliomas can develop following exposures to cosmetic talcum powders. These appear to be attributable to the presence of anthophyllite and tremolite contaminants in cosmetic talcum powder.” Due to the deadly nature of mesothelioma, it was suggested that: cosmetic talcs be withdrawn from the market as nontoxic alternatives are available. See: Malignant mesothelioma following repeated exposures to cosmetic talc: A case series of 75 patients.

Asbestos Industry Infomercial

Mar 18, 2020

A pro-asbestos Russian diatribe masquerading as a light-hearted romp through the history of chrysotile (white) asbestos cited uses of the substance in devices for tanks and machine guns, covers for books by Ray Bradbury and Stephen King, protective clothing for firefighters and building material. It refuted anti-asbestos rhetoric as unfounded and unscientific, asserting that: “The most enduring and widespread myth of asbestos is its harm to human health… [and that] chrysotile asbestos mined in Russia is a safe material when used under controlled conditions.” See: Легендарный асбест: мифы, курьезы и правда о «горном льне» [Legendary asbestos: myths, funny things and the truth about “mountain flax”].

Asbestos in Schools

Mar 18, 2020

The authorities in Vila Franca de Xira, a district in Portugal’s capital city, have submitted evidence regarding the asbestos contamination of secondary schools to the Ministry of Education, according to Mayor Alberto Mesquita in conversation with local councillors. The work required to remediate the educational infrastructure has been costed at ~€27m. The removal of asbestos-containing roofs has been a priority for Mesquita’s administration; over the last two years, asbestos-containing material was removed from primary schools and kindergartens. See: Já há estudo sobre amianto nas escolas de VFX mas as obras continuam por fazer [There is already a study on asbestos in VFX schools, but the work remains to be done].

Revising the EU’s Asbestos OEL

Mar 18, 2020

On March 2, 2020 a call was made by the European Chemicals Agency, at the behest of the European Commission, for the submission of recommendations to its ongoing review of the current occupational exposure limit (OEL), which obliges employers to ensure that workers are not exposed to airborne concentrations of asbestos in excess of 0.1 fibres per cm3 as an 8-hour time-weighted average as per stipulations of Article 8 Directive 2009/148/EC on the protection of workers from the risks related to exposure to asbestos at work. All submissions must be received by June 2, 2020. See: Occupational exposure limits – Call for comments and evidence.

Quebec Rejects “Asbestos”

Mar 16, 2020

As work progresses to distance the Quebec town of Asbestos from its deadly legacy, leading figures admit they are tired of the negative attention that the name of their town had attracted. According to Mayor Hugues Grimard, the town is in a “post-asbestos era,” and is eager to “break away from the asbestos era.” According to Grimard, hundreds of responses had been received for a new name for the town. The submissions are being reviewed by the council and up to five will be put forward for the electorate to choose from with voters as young as 14 being able to participate. See: Asbestos s’apprête à changer de nom [Asbestos to change name].

Asbestos Carrot & Stick

Mar 16, 2020

Russian asbestos stakeholders have embarked on a marketing offensive informing construction company officials and professionals about the advantages of using chrysotile asbestos building products in a desperate attempt to counter the increasing popularity of asbestos-free material. Industry lobbyists are reminding potential customers that as of July 19, 2019 contract tenders are no longer allowed to stipulate the exclusion of asbestos products from building projects in Russia. See: Хризотиловая продукция повышает качество и уменьшает стоимость проведения капремонта [Chrysotile products improve quality and reduce the cost of overhaul].

Eternit Defies Supreme Court

Mar 16, 2020

A fortnight ago, the Eternit company announced the resumption of chrysotile asbestos production at its mine in Minaçu, Goiás State in direct contravention of a 2017 ruling by the Brazilian Supreme Court. The company said that the activity was legal under Goiás State Law 20,514, passed on July 17, 2019, which permitted the extraction and processing of chrysotile asbestos exclusively for export purposes. Critics said this action was unconstitutional as the Supreme Court ruling applied throughout the country and that the transport of the toxic cargo was banned throughout Brazil. See: Eternit retoma produção de amianto em Goiás [Eternit resumes asbestos production in Goiás].

Supreme Court Victims’ Verdict

Mar 16, 2020

On March 12, 2020, the Montana Supreme Court handed down a judgment upholding a 2019 court decision which found that the BNSF Railway Company was not immune to lawsuits brought by hundreds of plaintiffs injured by exposure to asbestos as a result of the company’s negligence. Lawyers for the claimants described the hazards posed by BNSF’s operations including the transport of asbestos-containing vermiculite, spillage of asbestos material along railway tracks and in the BNSF railyard and continued disturbance of the built-up spilled asbestos by the company’s trains and workers. See: Montana Supreme Court: BNSF Not Shielded from Liability in Libby Asbestos Cases.

Meeting the Asbestos Challenge

Mar 13, 2020

The New Zealand and Australian authors of a paper uploaded on March 5, 2020 to the website of the Journal of Public Health Policy, having reviewed the current global asbestos panorama, called for global action to outlaw future asbestos use and research funding for innovative solutions for the destruction and disposal of asbestos-containing waste. The authors concluded that: "Comprehensive [asbestos] bans are needed in all countries. Priority attention for implementation should focus on those properties where people live, work, and go to school." See: Call for a global ban policy on and scientific management of asbestos to eliminate asbestos-related diseases.

More Russian Asbestos Propaganda

Mar 13, 2020

An article on a Russian website exploited the lack of asbestos awareness in Quebec to promote sales of chrysotile asbestos, quoting the results of a survey which reported that 93% of those questioned were unconcerned about the hazard posed by contamination of the former asbestos mining region. The author repeated contentious asbestos propaganda which asserted that once inhaled, fibers were rapidly dissolved and therefore posed no risk to human health. “There are,” the author said “no epidemics of diseases in the Russian monotowns Yasnoy and Asbest, where chrysotile is still mined to this day.” See: Хризотил безопасен: результаты опроса в канадском Асбесте [Chrysotile safe: Canadian Asbestos survey results].

Closure of Mining Town: Update

Mar 13, 2020

The legislation to take ownership of the few properties in the former asbestos mining town of Wittenoom, Western Australia (WA) remaining in private hands passed the Lower House – the Legislative Assembly – of the WA Parliament and is due to be debated again in the Upper House soon. Once the State acquires ownership of these titles, the Department of Planning Lands and Heritage will demolish all remaining infrastructure and cut off roads. Essential services were discontinued years ago but the few remaining residents have generators. See: Wittenoom Closure Bill 2019.

Asbestos Removal Regs Updated

Mar 12, 2020

The Workers’ Compensation Board (WCB) on Prince Edwards’ Island has updated the rules for asbestos removal contractors working on renovations or demolition projects. The changes made were intended to raise levels of occupational protection from the asbestos hazard and included new: definitions of asbestos-containing materials, requirements for ventilation, measures for medical surveillance of high-risk workers. According to the WCB, the changes would not significantly affect costs of asbestos removal work. See: Rules around removal of deadly asbestos tightened on P.E.I.

Asbestos on the Railways

Mar 12, 2020

Off-loading asbestos-containing rolling stock could prove problematic for Belgium’s national railway company, the SNCB, which has 1,000+ contaminated wagons, locomotives and motor vehicles it revealed on March 10, 2020. The intention was to dispose of these items by 2023. The affected goods, most of which were built in the 1980s, were itemized in a document for prospective buyers as follows: 720 wagons, 193 locomotives and 239 motor vehicles. See: De l'amiante “en grande quantité” dans des wagons, locomotives et autre matériel roulant de la SNCB [Asbestos “in large quantities” in SNCB wagons, locomotives and other rolling stock].

Free Asbestos Removal

Mar 12, 2020

Residents of Fairfield City, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia had until March 13 to apply to the council to arrange free collection by licensed contractors of up to 10-square metres of loose bonded asbestos material. The collections, which were scheduled to take place before the end of March, were part of the municipal Household Asbestos Removal Program. Asbestos-cement building products were widely used throughout Australia after the second World War and continue to pose a health hazard to homeowners and residents throughout the country. See: Asbestos needs to be disposed of safely.