News Item Archive

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Displaying first 25 items in reverse date order (default)
 

Asbestos Hazard: Confirmation

Feb 21, 2024

An asbestos factsheet uploaded last week to the website of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) stated categorically that: “There is ongoing evidence that mismanagement of asbestos is resulting in elevated healthcare expenses that surpass any benefits. Over the lifetime of all patients with an asbestos-related disease, burden of disease costs has been estimated to be US$11 billion.” UN efforts to regulate the global trade in asbestos over the last 20 years have failed spectacularly due to the intransigence of commercial and governmental asbestos stakeholders. See: UNEP Asbestos Factsheet.
 

Mesothelioma Research: Good News

Feb 21, 2024

A medical breakthrough was announced for the treatment of pleural mesothelioma, the signature cancer associated with asbestos exposure. By cutting off the tumor’s food supply, the drug ADI-PEG20 (pegargiminase) – when used in combination with chemotherapy – “quadrupled three-year survival rates.” These were the results of the ATOMIC-meso clinical trial involving 249 pleural mesothelioma patients at 43 centers in the UK, US, Australia, Italy and Taiwan from 2017 until 2021; the research was led by Prof Peter Szlosarek at Queen Mary University, London. See: Drug offers ‘wonderful’ breakthrough in treatment of asbestos-linked cancer.
 

Asbestos in Schools

Feb 21, 2024

The asbestos-related death of a Japanese science teacher was recognized this month as an occupationally-caused disease. Hideo Sando, who died from mesothelioma age 69, had handled asbestos during scientific experiments in the school’s laboratory. He had worked at a municipal elementary school in Wakayama, a city in western Japan from 1977 to 2013. He was diagnosed with mesothelioma in 2021 and died in 2022. This is the tenth case of an asbestos-related occupational disease to emerge among teachers in Japan. See: Death of Japan science teacher who handled asbestos recognized as on-job accident.
 

Analyzing Effectiveness of National Bans

Feb 21, 2024

The paper cited below which was published in the Scandinavian Journal of Work, Environment and Health on February 7, 2024 discussed the advances in protecting workers from toxic exposures to asbestos. Although the implementation of restrictive practices and national bans have been effective in decreasing “the risk of malignancies due to occupational exposure” in some counties, more research is needed to quantify the “effect of the bans on adverse effects in the general population. Analysis of fibers in the lungs of persons born after the bans could,” wrote the coauthors “be an efficient method.” See: Asbestos and disease – a public health success story?
 

Great East Japan Earthquake 1995

Feb 21, 2024

Researchers studying the consequences of the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake (1995) agree that with increasing latency – the time between asbestos exposure during the quake and now – the likelihood of at-risk people developing asbestos-related diseases continues to grow. As a result of damage done during the disaster, levels of airborne asbestos were 25 times the environmental standard. Between February and April 1995, buildings with 300 tons of sprayed asbestos were demolished. Five disaster clean-up workers have been certified with asbestos-related diseases. See:震災アスベスト、30年目の脅威を問う 長い潜伏期間、これからか顕在化か [Earthquake asbestos poses a threat after 30 years; will more cases emerge due to long incubation period?].
 

Asbestos Cancer Research Project

Feb 21, 2024

A$1.9 million (US$1.25m) was awarded by the Medical Research Future Fund to scientists from Australia’s Flinders University – under the leadership of Professor Sonja Klebe – for a project entitled: Improving clinical outcomes and predicting susceptibility in mesothelioma and lung cancer. According to Professor Klebe: “the introduction of immunotherapy could be a game changer for lung cancer and mesothelioma patients...Our research will help create personalised immunotherapy for lung cancer and mesothelioma, as well as new biomarkers to predict patient outcomes with the goal of improving lung cancer patient survival while reducing nasty side effects.” See: Improving survival rates for deadly lung diseases.
 

ECHR Condemns Swiss Government

Feb 15, 2024

On February 13, 2024, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) issued a unanimous judgment condemning Switzerland’s failure to “ensure expeditious proceedings before the Federal Court” in a case involving the asbestos cancer death of Marcel Jann who had as a child lived in a house rented from Eternit (Schweiz) AG, the owner of a neighboring industrial complex where asbestos products were manufactured. In the unanimous ruling, the ECHR panel of judges declared that: “there is no scientifically recognized maximum latency period between exposure to asbestos and the onset of cancer…the Swiss judiciary has attached greater importance to the legal certainty of those responsible for the damage than to the right of victims to bring the case before a court of law.” See: European Court of Human Rights. Judgment concerning Switzerland.
 

Marines Sue MoD

Feb 15, 2024

On February 6, 2024, a group of 260 service personnel – most of whom are Royal Marines – issued proceedings against the Ministry of Defence (MoD) which allegedly breached the Human Rights Act by “knowingly” exposing them to asbestos during military exercises in Latvia in 2018 & 2019. Samples taken of dust found in a derelict building designated for use by the soldiers tested positive for chrysotile (white) asbestos. Lawyers for the soldiers claim the MoD was aware of the presence of asbestos at the sites used during the military exercises. Many of the service personnel affected are now experiencing “asbestos anxiety,” a condition recognized in France but not in the UK. See: Royal Marines to fight MoD in court in asbestos claim.
 

Asbestos Scandal & Mardi Gras

Feb 15, 2024

It was announced on February 14, 2024 that the Fair Day event, part of Sydney’s Mardi Gras celebrations, scheduled to take place in Victoria Park on February 18, was cancelled after municipal authorities rescinded permission for use of the public space due to the presence of asbestos. Although alternative venues were offered, the organizers said rearranging this massive event was not viable at such short notice. More than 70,000 people had been expected to attend. Mulch containing asbestos has been found at 21 locations throughout the Sydney area including parks, a school and a hospital. See: Mardi Gras rejects offer to relocate Fair Day after asbestos discovery.
 

Rising Cancer Incidence

Feb 15, 2024

The article cited below expressed concerns over the increasing incidence of cancer amongst younger people. The author listed several factors which could explain this trend including: poor lifestyle choices, sedentary lifestyles, and exposures to environmental and occupational toxins such as asbestos. India is the world’s largest asbestos user, consuming 311,000 tonnes(t) in 2020, 408,000t in 2021 and 424,000t in 2022. Considering the synergistic effect of asbestos exposure and tobacco use – 45% cent of males are smokers – in the causation of cancers, disease rates will almost certainly continue to increase in India in the years to come. See: Understanding why cancer rates are rising among younger generations.
 

New Resource for Tradies

Feb 15, 2024

Comprehensive new guidelines for tradespeople in New Zealand were uploaded to “provide critical information and resources for safely managing and removing asbestos, a known health hazard in buildings and construction materials.” The three new publications provide region-specific information and guidance for people in the areas of Gisborne, Hawke’s Bay and New Plymouth on New Zealand’s North Island. Information in the texts include: the names and contact details for licensed and qualified asbestos removal professionals; safety procedures; and mandatory rules and requirements. See: Enhancing Safety: TradieGuide's New Asbestos Removal Resources For NZ Regions.
 

Asbestos in Bukchang Elementary School

Feb 15, 2024

Despite the high safety record achieved by Bukchang Elementary School in Dangjin, Chungcheongnam Province, South Korea, work on removing asbestos from the school continued during the 2023 winter school vacation. On February 8, 2024, a spokesperson for the school announced that it had obtained an award for having the highest safety certification for an educational facility. Commenting on the good news, Principal Park Chang-ok promised that the school authorities: “will continue to do our best to maintain a safe school environment for our students.” See: 충남 당진 북창초등학교, 교육시설안전인증 최우수 인증 획득 [Bukchang Elementary School in Dangjin, Chungcheongnam Province obtained the highest certification for educational facility safety certification].
 

Renault Guilty of Asbestos Exposures

Feb 12, 2024

The French trade union center – the Confédération Générale du Travail/CGT (General Confederation of Labour) – last week announced that after a 22-year fight, the asbestos hazard at the Renault Trucks site in Vénissieux, eastern France had finally been recognized. Commenting on this development, on February 6, 2024, CGT activist Gilles Cavalieri said: “It is a victory since the largest company in the construction of heavy goods vehicles, coaches and buses, has been found guilty of having exposed its employees to the deadly poison of asbestos.” See (subscription site): Amiante chez Renault Trucks: victoire de la CGT après 22 ans de procedures [Asbestos at Renault Trucks: victory for the CGT after 22 years of proceedings].
 

Asbestos in Parliament

Feb 12, 2024

According to a recent update on asbestos eradication and restoration work at the building in Ottawa which houses Canada’s Parliament, work should be completed on the main building (Centre Block) on Parliament Hill by 2031, with the building reopening in 2032. The total bill for the renewal work, which has been estimated at $5 billion, included the removal of ~12,000 tonnes (26 million pounds) of hazardous materials such as asbestos. During most of the 20th century, Canada was the world’s leading asbestos producer and the force behind global pro-asbestos propaganda. See: About 26M pounds of asbestos, hazardous materials removed from Centre Block.
 

Water from Toxic Pipes Unsafe

Feb 12, 2024

According to Engineer Mohammad Jamal Deeban, Deputy Director of the Public Corporation for Drinking Water in Idlib, Syria, almost all the water delivery networks in Idlib Province relied on asbestos pipes. These pipes were installed in 1980 and the authorities were concerned about the cancer risk posed by the contamination of water with asbestos fibers liberated from the aging network. While all the asbestos pipes in Idlib City had now been replaced with polyethylene pipes, work has not started on eradicating asbestos from main drinking water lines in other cities due to budgetary constraints. See: Asbestos water pipes pose cancer risk in Idlib.
 

Medical Clinic Support Program

Feb 12, 2024

The Center for Asbestos Related Disease (CARD) Clinic continues to provide healthcare for people in the town of Libby, Montana who were poisoned by exposures to asbestos liberated during the mining of vermiculite by the company W.R. Grace. Clinic staff provide free screenings to 1,000+ people for asbestos-related diseases and lung cancers every year. The medical programs are supported by a federal grant and eligibility for these services is reliant on applicants having lived, worked, or spent at least 6 months in Lincoln County, Montana more than ten years ago. See: Center for Asbestos Related Disease Continues FREE Asbestos & Lung Cancer Screenings.
 

Supreme Court Upholds Victim’s Verdict

Feb 12, 2024

On February 1, 2024, France’s Supreme Court (Court of Cassation) dismissed an attempt by the Saint-Nazaire Atlantic Shipyards company to overturn a ruling which supported a claim by the family of a shipyard worker who died from the asbestos cancer mesothelioma in 2015. The deceased had worked at the Saint-Nazaire shipyards from 1974 to 2010; the company argued that after it took over the site from Alsthom Shipworks in May 2006, the claimant had not been exposed to asbestos. Previously, the Nantes High Court and the Court of Appeal had also issued a victim’s verdict in this case. See: Amiante: rejet du recours des Chantiers de l’Atlantique de Saint-Nazaire [Asbestos: dismissal of the appeal by Chantiers de l'Atlantique de Saint-Nazaire].
 

Asbestos Prosecution in New Brunswick

Feb 12, 2024

On February 7, 2024, Judge Cameron Gunn reserved his decision in a case brought under the Occupational Health and Safety Act by Crown Prosecutor Derek Weaver over alleged infringements of asbestos regulations at the Dr Everett Chalmers Regional Hospital. In November, 2023, lawyers for the Horizon Health Network admitted two charges related to possible asbestos exposures of hospital employees over five years. Although the maximum fine could be $250,000, a deal has been reached for the company to pay $80,000 with the money going towards the purchase of a silica control tool. See: Proposed $80K fine against Horizon in asbestos case would go to effort to control toxic dust.
 

Post-disaster Contamination

Feb 8, 2024

On the first anniversary of devastating earthquakes which affected the Hatay region and surrounding areas in Turkey, it was announced that asbestos had been detected in 5 out of 7 samples of debris and soil collected in Hatay by analysts commissioned to conduct an environmental impact survey by the TEMA Foundation. Asbestos was also found in 2 of 3 samples from the Mileyha Bird Paradise Wetland in the Samandağ district. These findings, said experts, were proof that post-earthquake contamination remained a serious risk to human health. See: TEMA Vakfı: Hatay’daki enkaz atıkları zehir saçıyor, yedi örneğin beşinde asbest [TEMA Foundation: Debris waste in Hatay is poisonous, five of the seven samples contain asbestos].
 

Asbestos at the Museum

Feb 8, 2024

A prized possession of the American diplomat, scientist, inventor and founding father Benjamin Franklin now on show at the Natural History Museum in London is marked with a warning label saying: DO NOT OPEN. The dangerous artifact – carefully sealed in a clear plastic box – is a purse made of asbestos that Franklin brought to Britain from the US in 1725. The article cited below reviewed the tragic history of asbestos from Roman until present times and detailed some of the thousands of uses which had been found for the substance nicknamed the “magic mineral”. See: Asbestos: The strange past of the ‘magic mineral’.
 

Cutting Down Asbestos Dumping

Feb 8, 2024

The Department of Water and Environmental Regulations of Western Australia (WA) teamed up with Crime Stoppers WA to facilitate the reporting of flytipping of demolition material, much of which contains asbestos. Sally Heitman, Senior Manager of Waste Operations, recommended that “people ask their contracted demolition company about where their demolition waste is being disposed of as well as requesting the contractor to provide a receipt from the waste facility post disposal. Disposal fees are incorporated into the cost of demolition and a disposal receipt will ensure the correct procedure has been followed.” Suspicions or information about illegal practices can be reported quickly and anonymously by calling Crime Stoppers. See: We’ve teamed up with Crime Stoppers WA to battle illegal dumping.
 

Municipal Action on Asbestos

Feb 8, 2024

On February 5, 2024, it was announced that the Council of the South Korean city of Busan was consulting with stakeholders on plans for an asbestos survey program to address the widespread presence of asbestos roofing, much of which is found on unlicensed buildings, in the municipality. There are 22,000 asbestos-roofed structures in Busan and the Ministry of Environment has designated 346 areas of concern in the city including: Gamcheon Culture Village and White Yeoul Village, popular tourist destinations. See: 부산 석면건물 실태조사부터 하자” 시의회, 市에 제안 [“Let's start with the survey of asbestos buildings in Busan” City Council, proposal to the city].
 

New Jersey Asbestos Hotspot

Feb 8, 2024

The Mayor of Paterson, New Jersey was warned by federal officials of the “unacceptable risk” to members of the public posed by asbestos hidden in decaying industrial structures near Great Falls National Historical Park. According to the EPA’s Superfund and Emergency Management Division director Pat Evangelista: “As the buildings continue to deteriorate over time, the release and migration of the asbestos will also increase…A partial, or total collapse of the structure, should that occur, would cause a catastrophic release and an increased continual release of asbestos.” See: Feds warn of ‘unacceptable risk’ from contaminated buildings at Paterson’s Great Falls.
 

Subsidizing Asbestos Eradication

Feb 8, 2024

Subsidies of up to €3,000 (US$3,230) for the eradication and disposal of asbestos products such as roofs, canopies, slabs, insulation panels, pipes, tiles, pipes and tanks from buildings are being offered to domestic property owners – including individuals as well as housing associations – in the Italian commune of Misano, in Rimini Province. Applicants must employ the services of listed specialist companies for the asbestos removal work and disposal services. See: Fondi per togliere l’amianto [Funds to remove asbestos].
 

Mourning Another WA Asbestos Death

Feb 6, 2024

News was circulated last week of the death of tribal elder and mesothelioma victim Maitland Parker who dedicated his life to advancing the cause of Indigenous people. Parker was highly vocal in calls for the Government of Western Australia (WA) to decontaminate land surrounding the defunct Wittenoom Crocidolite (Blue Asbestos) Mine owned by the Banjima People. Working with other traditional land owners, in 2014 Mr. Parker was instrumental in obtaining recognition of the native title of the site in the Pilbara region for the Banjima people. See: Tributes flow after death of Indigenous pioneer of the Pilbara.