News Item Archive

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Displaying first 25 items in reverse date order (default)
 

Railway Workers & Asbestos Anxiety

Sep 20, 2022

On September 14, 2022, the 5th Chamber of the Labor Court of Amiens, France issued a victims’ verdict in a case over asbestos anxiety caused by the knowledge of toxic workplace exposures at railway workshops in north-central France operated by the SNCF, France's state-owned railway company. The case was launched in 2016; in 2017 seventy workers were each awarded compensation of €60,000 (US$60,100). In 2018, the Reims Court of Appeal overturned the verdict. Since 2016, two claimants died from asbestos cancer, a third is undergoing chemotherapy and six have been diagnosed with pleural thickening. See: Procès de l'amiante à la SNCF : les cheminots de Romilly-sur-Seine obtiennent un dédommagement financier [Asbestos trial at the SNCF: the railway workers of Romilly-sur-Seine obtain financial compensation].
 

J&J’s Baby Powder “Unsafe”

Sep 20, 2022

Last week, the Food & Drugs Administration in the Indian State of Maharashtra cancelled Johnson & Johnson’s (J&J) license for the manufacture of baby powder over safety concerns after samples from Pune and Nashik were declared not of standard quality by the government. In a clarification issued by J&J, the company reassured consumers that the baby powder was safe, did not contain asbestos and did not cause cancer. The firm plans to challenge the Maharashtra ruling in court. See: Johnson & Johnson Issues Clarification After Cancellation of Manufacturing License of Its Baby Powder, Says ‘It Is Safe and Does Not Contain Asbestos That Causes Cancer’.
 

Building Capacity for Asbestos Testing

Sep 20, 2022

Committed to protecting Cambodians from toxic asbestos exposures, on September 13, 2022 officials from the General Department of Consumer Protection, Competition and Fraud Prevention met with representatives of Australia’s Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency (ASEA) in Phnom Pen to discuss measures to build the country’s technical capacity in the fight for asbestos safety. In October, Australian analytical experts will train Cambodian technicians on the use of analytical methods for detecting asbestos fibers. On September 15, the Ministry of Labor and Vocational Training ran a workshop to devise a roadmap for the eradication of asbestos-related diseases in Cambodia. See: Oz team offers CCF asbestos class.
 

Official Error in Mesothelioma Case

Sep 20, 2022

A lawsuit was launched by a bereaved Japanese family over the unauthorized disposal by the Labor Standards Inspection Office of vital documents required for a mesothelioma compensation case. Relatives of the construction worker, who died aged 54 in 2003 of an industrial accident, having been occupationally exposed to asbestos, needed the paperwork as evidence in a lawsuit against a building material manufacturer. Responding to a 2021 request by the family for documents about the case, officials admitted that records of interviews with colleagues had been mistakenly discarded. See: 労基署が『永久保存のはずの文書廃棄』[Labor Standards Office “disposes of documents that are supposed to be permanently preserved…”].
 

Asbestos Crimes & Punishment

Sep 20, 2022

It was announced on September 16, 2022, that WorkSafeBC, the statutory agency in British Columbia tasked with preventing occupational injury and occupational diseases, had imposed a record fine of over $700,000 (US$525,500) on a Toronto-based demolition company that had been contracted to clear fire damage at a commercial site. The company had failed to comply with asbestos regulations as a result of which operatives were working in illegal and toxic conditions. See: WorkSafeBC imposes record-high single penalty of $710,488 for asbestos violations.
 

Asbestos Legacy in the Military

Sep 20, 2022

Following the disclosure of asbestos contamination at the Torrejón air base in Spain, more pollution has been revealed at military bases and airfields throughout the country including the Gando air base, the military airfield at León and the air base at Villanubla. Asbestos-containing material was widely used in the construction of barracks and ships. Claims from former service personnel for asbestos-related injuries have been reported. This Summer the Navy recognized the asbestos cancer death of Admiral Francisco Javier González-Huix, Chief of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, as having been caused by his military service. See: El amianto preocupa en la base aérea de Torrejón: detectado también en Gando, León y Villanubla [Asbestos is a concern at the Torrejón air base: also detected in Gando, León and Villanubla].
 

Asbestos on ILO Agenda

Sep 17, 2022

On September 6, 2022, the International Labour Organisation’s Project Advisory Committee on enhancing Occupational Safety and Health held a meeting in Phnom Penh about standards in the construction sector. According to Yan Thy – Secretary-General of the Building and Wood Workers Trade Union Federation of Cambodia who was at the meeting – subjects on the agenda included procedural matters such as regulations and policies adopted by the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training pertaining to the health and safety of construction workers as well as challenges associated with asbestos in products used by construction workers. See: ILO holds third meeting on Occupational Safety, Health in construction.
 

Questions over Sales of Toxic Baby Powder

Sep 17, 2022

India’s consumer market for infant products is dominated by Johnson & Johnson (J&J). According to one expert: “When you talk about the baby talcum product market in India, Johnson & Johnson still has the lion’s share in this portfolio. It has about 60 to 70% of market share in the country today.” In the face of a tidal wave of US litigation over the asbestos content of its iconic baby powder, J&J has maintained the product is safe. The recent announcement that this product would be withdrawn from sale in 2023 raises concerns amongst consumers, with people asking why the product was not withdrawn in India at the same time as it was withdrawn in the US and Canada. See: A look at Johnson & Johnson’s Presence In India And Discontinuation of Its Products Controversy.
 

Eradicating Catalonia’s Asbestos Pollution

Sep 17, 2022

On November 26, 2022, a conference will be held in Barcelona to consider how best to rid Catalonia of asbestos contamination. The event is being organized jointly by the Asbestos-Exposed Pensioners of Macosa-Alstom and the Federation of Neighborhood Associations of Barcelona. It is hoped that conversations at the meeting will mobilize civil society sectors and expedite the urgent measures needed to comply with EU asbestos removal guidelines. See: Convocan una convención en Barcelona para liberar Catalunya de amianto [Convention [to be held] in Barcelona on freeing Catalonia from asbestos].
 

Asbestos Removal in Flanders

Sep 17, 2022

Pursuant to Flanders commitment to be asbestos-free by 2040, the Flanders Government has allocated €3.5 million (US$3.5m) in a bill designed to eradicate the asbestos hazard from the care sector. Until mid-October 2022, healthcare institutions can apply for funding to the Public Waste Agency of Flanders (OVAM). A further €9m has been allocated to tackle the asbestos legacy in other sectors including: agriculture, education and social housing. See (subscription site): Flanders provides €3.5 million to remove asbestos from healthcare centres.
 

Asbestos an Election Issue

Sep 17, 2022

Winnipeg mayoral candidate Rana Bokhari has pledged to start an asbestos testing program for the city’s water this Autumn should she be elected. On September 12, she told journalists that: “We have not tested Winnipeg’s water for asbestos fibres since 1995… As research into the issue of asbestos in water pipes and the possibly detrimental effect on human health has continued for the past 30 years, it’s become increasingly obvious that we are ignoring a major potential health hazard in our water system.” Bokhari also plans to lobby the federal government to include Winnipeg’s water delivery system in their upcoming infrastructure review. See: WINNIPEG VOTES: Bokhari promises to start testing water for asbestos.
 

Legal Victory for Asbestos Victim

Sep 17, 2022

Appeals by former employers of a man who died from an asbestos-related disease were dismissed by the High Court of Justice of the Basque Country which confirmed a lower court’s verdict that the worker's pleural cancer had been caused by occupational exposures to asbestos and silica. One of the defendants’ arguments during the appeal was that the deceased’s smoking habit had caused the illness and not hazardous workplace conditions. As a result of this decision, upgrades will be made in the monthly pension received by his widow. See: El TSJPV confirma el origen laboral de un cáncer tras la exposición al amianto [The TSJPV confirms the occupational origin of cancer after exposure to asbestos].
 

Asbestos Ban Clarification

Sep 14, 2022

The Russian language article cited below, which was uploaded on September 10, 2022, considered the September 6, 2022 vote by the Ukrainian Parliament which banned the use of asbestos and debunked myths being spread by pro-asbestos interests to spread alarm. The ban only pertains to the new use of asbestos and does not mandate removal of asbestos material already incorporated within the built environment. Ukraine industry has a year to make the transition to safer asbestos-free technologies. See: Запрет использования асбеста в производстве: почему он вреден [The ban on the use of asbestos in production: why it (asbestos) is harmful].
 

Exposé: Johnson & Johnson

Sep 14, 2022

A detailed analysis of the history and strategies of the US pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson (J&J) was published in the September 12, 2022 issue of the New Yorker magazine. The text by journalist Casey Cept was methodical as well as comprehensive in its description of how this national brand exploited consumers’ trust whilst promoting the company’s iconic baby powder despite the presence of asbestos fibers. J&J made full use of loopholes in government oversight to avoid regulation and exploited judicial stratagems to freeze claims by US cancer victims. It is a sorry tale but one exceedingly well told. See: Johnson & Johnson & New War on Consumer Protection.
 

Asbestos Alert!

Sep, 14, 2022

The pubic outcry in Turkey over plans to import an asbestos-laden Brazilian warship for scrapping at an Izmir ship-breaking facility has raised the profile of the asbestos hazard. Following on from the successful campaign to reject the toxic ship, questions are now being asked about the dangers posed by demolishing or renovating asbestos-containing buildings. The author of the text cited below called on municipal and federal authorities to act urgently to prevent asbestos pollution by implementing and enforcing regulations to control urban transformation projects. See: Kentsel dönüşümde kanser riski! [Cancer risk in urban transformation!].
 

Asbestos in Schools

Sep 14, 2022

The asbestos contamination of the educational infrastructure of the Spanish capital remains a contentious issue for teachers, staff, parents and children. One building causing alarm for parents is the Meseta de Orcasitas school in Usera, Madrid, the second largest school in the district, used daily by 500 children and 20 teachers. It was built in 1978 and has broken roofing made of corrugated iron and asbestos. In 2018, the Government of Madrid pledged to remove all asbestos material from public schools. See: Dar clase bajo un techo de 2.000 metros de amianto: “Nuestros niños lo respiran seis horas al día” [Teaching under a 2,000 meter roof of asbestos: “Our children breathe it six hours a day”].
 

Asbestos Litigation: Update

Sep 14, 2022

In their opening arguments on September 9, 2022, lawyers representing defendants in a case brought over the asbestos death of a construction worker argued that the building material manufacturer was not at fault, because “the workers should have used dust masks.” The case, which is being heard at the Takamatsu District Court, is over a lung cancer death in 2013; ten manufacturers of asbestos-cement building products are being sued for damages of 29.7 million yen (US$209,000). See: 全国一斉“建設アスベスト訴訟” 建材メーカー争う姿勢示す 高松地裁で初弁論【香川】 [Nationwide “Construction Asbestos Lawsuit” shows fighting stance of building material manufacturers. First argument at Takamatsu District Court [Kagawa]].
 

Asbestos in City Hall

Sep 14, 2022

On September 12, 2022, news was reported of an unwelcomed discovery in the town hall of the Italian city of Modena. The cost of removing asbestos in the tiles and adhesives on the second and third floors of the building will be €240,000 (US$243,000). The work must be done now, said a City Council resolution passed last week, because the flooring showed “conspicuous signs of deterioration, such as breakages and detachment of tiles or marked signs of abrasion…” See: Modena, pavimenti in amianto in municipio: rimozione costa 240mila euro [Modena, asbestos floors in the town hall: removal will cost 240 thousand euros].
 

Asbestos Alert in Phnom Penh

Sep 12, 2022

On September 9, 2022, Deputy Director-General Dim Theng of Cambodia’s Ministry of Commerce's Consumer Protection, Competition and Fraud Department (CCF) met with Representatives of the European Chamber of Commerce (EuroCham) in Phnom Penh to discuss the health risks associated with exposures to asbestos, especially amongst construction workers. According to a news report about this meeting: “Cambodia is yet to implement a law banning the import of products containing asbestos, although the CCF expected the government to pass a law doing so in the near future. The government is currently drafting a roadmap to reduce the impact and risks of asbestos-related diseases in Cambodia.” See: EuroCham, CCF raise awareness of asbestos risks.
 

Boomerang Ship on Way Home

Sep 12, 2022

After travelling thousands of miles, Brazil’s former flagship: the São Paulo is on its way home having been barred by the authorities in Gibraltar and Turkey from proceeding any further on its journey to a scrapping yard in Izmir. Due to environmental concerns, many people in Brazil, Turkey and elsewhere opposed the decision to allow the ship to leave Brazil. Now that it is on its way to Rio de Janeiro, campaigners are calling for transparency and consultation on future decisions regarding how to dispose of what has become an international hot potato. See: Após ser proibido de entrar na Turquia, porta-aviões São Paulo está voltando ao Brasil [After being banned from entering Turkey, aircraft carrier São Paulo is returning to Brazil].
 

The End of WA Asbestos Mining Town

Sep 12, 2022

On September 8, 2022, 80-year old Lorraine Thomas – the last resident of the toxic town of Wittenoom in Western Australia (WA) – was evicted from her home by government officials and bailiffs pursuant to WA legislation. Mrs Thomas had missed the August 31, 2022 deadline for evacuating the premises due to “personal circumstances.” The WA Government had long struggled with how best to protect West Australians from deadly exposures to asbestos remaining in the soil, water and soil of Wittenoom; the current plan is to completely shut the town down so that no tourists will visit. See: Wittenoom's last resident evicted as WA government shuts down asbestos-contaminated town.
 

Toxic Talc

Sep 12, 2022

Last week, the discovery in South Africa of trace levels of asbestos in test samples of Tiger Brands talc led to a product recall by the company, which said that: “the affected batch of raw materials does not meet Tiger Brands’ strict quality and safety standards.” Asbestos fibers were found in pharmaceutical-grade talc powder used as a raw material. Tiger Brands’ baby products are manufactured in two factories located in Ndabeni in Western Cape and Isando in Gauteng. See: Some baby powder products recalled in SA as asbestos is detected.
 

Asbestos & Natural Disasters

Sep 12, 2022

A symposium held in Nagano City, Japan on September 3, 2022, considered the state-of-the-art response to asbestos liberated during natural disasters such as Typhoon Number 19, an extremely violent and large tropical cyclone that caused widespread destruction in Japan in October 2019. Sixty participants heard presentations from technical and medical experts in the session run by the Municipal Asbestos Countermeasures Center and the NGO Tokyo Occupational Safety and Health Center. See: 災害時におけるアスベスト対策の教訓を学び合う…市行政、専門家交えシンポジウム [Mutual learning of lessons learned from asbestos countermeasures in the event of a disaster…Symposium of city administrators and experts].
 

Ukraine Bans Asbestos!

Sep 7, 2022

This week the Parliament of Ukraine adopted draft law No. 4142, which prohibited the use of all types of asbestos-containing products for construction. Explaining these developments, Ukrainian politician Olena Shulyak said that the process to ban asbestos had been ongoing for some years but outside forces from Russia and Kazakhstan had brought pressure to bear on the Government hoping to block progress. Finally, Ms. Shulyak concluded, as a result of a vote in Parliament on September 6, 2022 “Ukraine will get rid of the health-threatening Soviet construction legacy.” See: Олена Шуляк: У будівництві заборонять азбест [Olena Shulyak: Asbestos will be banned for construction].
 

Calls to Speed Asbestos Removal in Schools

Sep 7, 2022

The largest Spanish trade union, the CCOO (Comisiones Obreras; the Workers' Commissions) has criticized the current program of works to remove asbestos from schools in the Spanish capital as much too slow. According to the CCOO, as many as 361 educational centers in Madrid could still contain asbestos. Commenting on the unsatisfactory rate of progress, Isabel Galvín, Secretary General of Education of CCOO Madrid said: “At this rate, according to our calculations, the total elimination of asbestos would not be achieved for another forty years, despite the new 2028 deadline set to remove this material.” See: El tímido plan para retirar amianto de los colegios de Madrid [Timid plan to remove asbestos from schools in Madrid].