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Displaying first 25 items in reverse date order (default)

Asbestos: Political Hot Potato

Oct 23, 2020

A heated discussion on October 21, 2020 at the Madrid City Council heard calls for asbestos remediation, especially of the city’s schools, to be prioritized on the grounds of public safety. The Mayor of Madrid said he knew: “of schools where there are currently three teachers with cancer being treated.” “None of us,” he said “would want to have relatives” working or studying in such toxic conditions. Paloma Garcia, on behalf of the Department of Works and Equipment assured councillors that he shared their concerns and was progressing plans to address asbestos contamination throughout the capital. See: Más Madrid reclama un programa consensuado de retirada del Amianto [Political Party “More Madrid” calls for an agreed asbestos removal program].

Asbestos Proceedings in Paris

Oct 23, 2020

On October 12, 2020, there was a hearing at the Paris Court of Appeal on behalf of asbestos claimants from the Everite factory in Dammarie-les-Lys. In 2018 this case had been dismissed by magistrates who found it was not possible to determine the date when plaintiffs had inhaled the asbestos fibers which had caused their illnesses. It followed, therefore, that it was impossible to hold to account specific executives who may or may not have been in charge of the company at that time. According to one of the lawyers representing the victims “the guilt is cumulative.” For decades, French asbestos victims have been calling for a criminal trial of asbestos defendants. See: Scandale de l’amiante: “La chance de voir un procès pénal un jour se joue maintenant” [Asbestos scandal: “The chance to see a criminal trial one day is in play now].

Asbestos, No More!

Oct 23, 2020

The votes have been counted. The electorate of the former asbestos mining town of Asbestos has chosen the French name Val-des-Sources, meaning Valley of the Sources, as its new moniker bringing to a close more than a century of history, during which the town was named for a carcinogenic substance produced at the local Jeffrey white asbestos mine. Just over half the ballots supported the choice. Commenting on the outcome, Mayor Hugues Grimard said the name “represents our area, and especially, it’s inspiring for the future.” Former Mayor Louise Moisan-Coulombe agreed the change was necessary: “Once upon a time, we have been very proud of that name, but now it’s very difficult because asbestos means a fiber that people are afraid of.” See: New name for a Canadian town called Asbestos.

Asbestos and Cancer in China

Oct 20, 2020

According to the Beijing Municipal Health Commission (the Commission) lung cancer “is one of the most threatening malignant tumors to the health and life of the population.” In a new upload entitled "Scientific Fight against Cancer: Early Understanding and Early Prevention of Lung Cancer" on its website, the Commission lists occupational exposures to asbestos as a significant factor in increasing the incidence of lung cancer, and pleural and peritoneal mesothelioma, explaining that there can be a latency of 20+ years between exposures and the manifestation of disease. See: 科学抗癌:早了解早预防肺癌 [Scientific Fight against Cancer: Early Understanding and Early Prevention of Lung Cancer].

Leaving Asbestos Behind!

Oct 20, 2020

Yet more coverage of the dilemma faced by voters in the small Quebec town of Asbestos who are in the process of rebranding their home town. The result of the poll to rename the municipality was due to be announced on October 19, 2020. A feature article from the Globe and Mail – one of Canada’s most popular English-language newspapers – examined the role the asbestos industry had played in the town’s history and the French-English ructions the name change had exposed. One interviewee was blunt: “The name harms economic development. You have to be realistic.” It will be interesting to see what the result of the vote will be. See: After years of debate, Asbestos, Que. is getting a new name in hope it will help the economy.

Asbestos Offensive

Oct 20, 2020

A Russian article on a Ukraine website purporting to be an examination of the reasons for the European Union’s asbestos ban was industry propaganda informed by the asbestos lobby; as evidenced by the inclusion of statements such as “there are quite a few areas in which chrysotile asbestos can be useful (and often even irreplaceable)”; “the environmental harm of chrysotile asbestos is also exaggerated”; and “the myth about the harmfulness of asbestos is proof of that”. It is noteworthy that the asbestos ban mandated by Ukraine’s Ministry of Health in 2017 was overturned after pressure had been exerted by vested interests. See: Асбест хризотил: опасность и вред хризотилового асбеста опровергнуты учеными [Chrysotile asbestos: dangers and harm of chrysotile asbestos refuted by scientists].

Asbestos Mystery

Oct 20, 2020

A blog (cited below) has examined facts reported in a recent feature article which had extolled the bright future for Brazil’s former asbestos giant Eternit SA, whilst ignoring the avalanche of personal injury claims still pending against the company. Since September 2020 and despite Eternit’s financial liabilities, the company’s share price and market value had almost doubled with a huge spike in shares trading on a particular day. The company, it said, was at a loss to explain this development. The volume of Eternit’s asbestos exports from its Goiás mine doubled between 2019 and 2020 even though the Supreme Court banned the commercial exploitation of asbestos in 2017. See: Quem não gosta de amianto? [Who doesn’t like asbestos?].

Import of Toxic Waste

Oct 20, 2020

In 2019, 1,684 tonnes of asbestos-containing waste was exported to Portugal from countries in Europe, Africa and the Middle East for disposal in landfill sites. The amount exported in 2018 was 496 tonnes. The reason for the huge increase in volume was, said a Portuguese campaigner: “the cheap offers given in Portugal for those who want to deposit waste in landfills.” Ninety-nine percent of this waste had been sent to non-hazardous industrial waste landfills. As of December 2020, it will be illegal to ship asbestos waste to Portugal according to a new government regulation. See: Grécia, Malta, e até Nigéria e Oman enviaram "lixo" com amianto para Portugal [Greece, Malta, and even Nigeria and Oman sent asbestos “garbage” to Portugal].

Asbestos Propaganda

Oct 19, 2020

The benevolence of Kostanay Minerals JSC – one of the world’s largest producers of chrysotile asbestos fiber – is the focus of a piece by Evgeniya Ermakova, referenced below. The company’s mine and milling operations are centered in and around the town of Zhitikar in the Kostanay region of Kazakhstan. Of the 220,000+ tons of asbestos fiber mined every year in Kazakhstan, 95% is exported to India, Uzbekistan, China, Ukraine and other countries. The company has close ties to the government. See: Бизнес – это прежде всего люди [Business is primarily about people]. (P.S. In 2016, it was revealed that operatives employed by Kazakh asbestos interests had spied on ban asbestos campaigners.)

Growth in Global Asbestos Epidemic

Oct 19, 2020

Analyses – by Sugio Furuya, Coordinator of the Asian Ban Asbestos Network (ABAN) – of data extracted from information published on October 17, 2020 in The Lancet in the paper: The Global Burden of Diseases, Injuries, and Risk Factors Study (GBD) 2019, revealed that the global incidence of mortality from asbestos-related diseases (ARD) continued to grow during 2019. When deaths from mesothelioma, lung cancer, ovarian and larynx cancers and asbestosis were added together, there were a total of 241,764 ARD deaths in 2019; in 2016 and 2017 there were 224,918 and 234,904 deaths, respectively, from ARDs (see:GBD asbestos mortality estimates 2013-2019). See: The Global Burden of Diseases, Injuries, and Risk Factors Study (GBD) 2019: GBD Compare.

Raising Asbestos Awareness

Oct 19, 2020

An article uploaded to a Chinese language website on October 15, 2020 listed asbestos as the first of eight known causes of cancer and warned people to avoid exposure to products containing it. If occupational exposures cannot be avoided, then individuals should take precautionary measures such as changing work clothes before returning home. China is one of the world’s largest asbestos-producing and consuming countries. See: 原创 随处可见这种物质,却是可怕的1类致癌物!为了健康,请远离这8种 [This kind of substance can be seen everywhere, but it is a terrible Class 1 carcinogen! For health reasons, please stay away from these 8].

20th Century Legacy, 21st Century Hazard

Oct 19, 2020

Politicians in the Canadian city of Sarnia are supporting efforts by local people, including members of the groups Coalition for a Better St. Catharines and Sarnia’s Victims of Chemical Valley, to force federal and provincial governments to take ownership of the hazard posed by asbestos contamination of derelict industrial sites and force former owners to remediate premises and surrounding land. Of particular concern is the ~22 hectare property on Ontario Street that until 2010 was the location of the GM plant in St. Catharines, Ontario; the property was put up for sale in 2019 by Bayshore Groups. See: Sarnia mayor and others sound alarm over possible asbestos on former St. Catharines GM site.

2021 Virtual Mesothelioma Conference

Oct 19, 2020

The meeting of the International Mesothelioma Group (iMig) due to take place in Brisbane, Australia in 2020 has been postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. On October 15, 2020, iMig’s organizers announced that a virtual meeting of iMig will be held on May 7-9, 2021: “While we won’t get to meet in person,” they wrote “we look forward to providing a virtual experience that is accessible worldwide and to enable attendees to access the latest research in mesothelioma through a new format.” The last two iMig meetings took place in Ottawa, Canada (2018) and Birmingham UK (2015). See: Announcement: iMig 2021 is Going Virtual!

A Toxic Town

Oct 16, 2020

As the election proceeds in the former mining town of Asbestos for a new name, business leaders have been speaking about problems they experienced with the town’s original name. These include both professional and personal difficulties such as problems at border crossings for delivery vehicles, mistrust by potential business partners and reluctance to interact with “Asbestrians” by foreigners afraid of contamination. The new name, chosen by the electorate including anyone over 14 years old, is scheduled to be announced on October 19, 2020. See: Un nom lourd à porter pour des gens d’affaires [A heavy name to bear for business people].

Asbestos Anxiety at Renault

Oct 16, 2020

On October 13, 2020 a hearing took place – which had been postponed from Spring 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic – at the Lyon industrial tribunal, to consider cases brought by 200 former Renault workers from the company’s Vénissieux factory over asbestos anxiety, a psychological condition caused by the knowledge that the claimants had been occupationally exposed to asbestos. Another hearing is listed for November 2020 which will examine similar accusations from 1,200 other Renault workers. See: Amiante à Renault Trucks: les ex-salariés veulent la reconnaissance de leur "préjudice d'anxiété" [Asbestos at Renault Trucks: Ex-employees want recognition of their “Asbestos Anxiety”].

Asbestos Management in Schools

Oct 16, 2020

On October 14, 2020, the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) issued new guidance about “Asbestos Management in Schools.” The HSE upload used case studies to illustrate actions that must be taken prior to the commencement of replacement, refurbishment or demolition work that could disturb asbestos at schools or colleges. Mandatory measures covered in the HSE document included the compilation of an asbestos survey, the use of certified asbestos removal operatives, updating of existing asbestos registers and asbestos management plans, and the safe and approved disposal of asbestos-containing waste generated by the work. See: Asbestos management in schools.

Japan’s Mesothelioma Epidemic

Oct 16, 2020

According to Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare there have been 26,608 deaths since 1995 from the signature asbestos cancer, mesothelioma and the number of deaths “is expected to increase in the future,” due to the country’s widespread and heavy use of asbestos throughout the 20th century. A comparison between asbestos consumption data, asbestos regulations and incidences of disease from Japan and the UK supported the prediction that mesothelioma mortality in Japan will continue to increase for some years to come. See: アスベストの脅威続く 中皮腫死すでに2万6608人 被害予測は10万人超 [Asbestos threat continues, mesothelioma deaths already 26,608, damage forecast exceeds 100,000 people].

Mesothelioma Treatment: Update

Oct 16, 2020

Norwegian biopharmaceutical company Bergenbio announced that treatment had started in a clinical trial assessing the efficacy of bemcentinib for patients with relapsed malignant mesothelioma as part of a UK trial sponsored by the University of Leicester and supported by the British Lung Foundation. According to Director of the Leicester Clinical Trials Unit, Professor Anne Thomas, Professor Dean Fennell and Dr Matthew Krebs were leading the research team and the commencement of treatment represented “the culmination of three years' work. The ultimate output of this study will,” he said “be the potential to provide benefit to the MPM population.” See: Bergenbio: Announces First Patient Dosed with Bemcentinib in Relapsed Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma Investigator Sponsored Phase IIA Study.

Another Mesothelioma Death in Japan

Oct 14, 2020

The mesothelioma death was reported on October 12, 2020 of 51-year old Eri Matsui, a Japanese mother of two who was exposed as a child to asbestos liberated by a water pipe factory near her home in Saitama City. Ms. Matsui endured a protracted battle for recognition and compensation against those she considered responsible for her disease and became a leading campaigner in the fight to raise awareness of the asbestos hazard. A documentary film entitled “Playing with the glowing sand as a child” about Japan’s toxic asbestos legacy in which she had a feature role was released a mere eight days before she died. See: アスベスト被害者 松井絵里さん逝去 [Asbestos victim Eri Matsui passes away].

Landmark Legal Proceedings Begin!

Oct 14, 2020

For decades, asbestos victims in France have been calling for a criminal trial of those behind the country’s fatal epidemic of asbestos cancers and diseases. On October 16, proceedings before the Paris Court of Appeal will seek to overturn decisions absolving executives and decision makers of negligence over their part in the catastrophe which continues to claim thousands of lives every year. Lawyers representing victims will argue that a report by expert witnesses relied upon by judges had been misinterpreted. “Investigating judges,” the claimants say “should therefore have concluded that it was possible… to determine the periods of exposure during which the victims were contaminated with asbestos…” See: Mettre fin au scandale judiciaire de l’amiante [Ending the asbestos legal scandal].

Another Avoidable Asbestos Death

Oct 14, 2020

The death of 61-year old Francesco Anzalone brings to 31 the number of former workers of Isochimica di Avellino who died from asbestos-related diseases. Despite his efforts to improve workplace conditions, in the 1980s Mr. Anazlone’s job brought him into daily contact with asbestos insulation on railway carriages being repaired at the Borgo Ferrovia workshops. He died three years after having been diagnosed with the signature asbestos cancer, mesothelioma. See: Muore ex operaio dell'Isochimica di Avellino: 31esima vittima dell'amianto [A former worker of Isochimica di Avellino dies: 31st victim of asbestos].

Municipal Identity Crisis

Oct 14, 2020

A feature article reviewing identity issues of towns saddled with toxic, rude, or comical names examined the problems being faced by municipal authorities attempting to rebrand a former mining town in Quebec called “Asbestos.” Despite the cost of the renaming process, estimated at US$100,000 the town’s leaders are optimistic it will be beneficial in the long run. According to Asbestos town councillor Caroline Payer: “We are losing great business opportunities just because of our name… It’s very sad.” See: Why the Canadian town of Asbestos wants a new name.

Supporting Asbestos Victims in Cádiz

Oct 14, 2020

The Mayor of San Fernando, in the Spanish Province of Cádiz met last week with the directors of a local asbestos victims’ group to express support for people affected by occupational asbestos exposures in the Naval sector, which included workers from the three shipyards in the Bay of Cádiz. Asbestos exposures at these workplaces took place initially during the construction of boats and more latterly during repair work. In the Bay of Cádiz there are around 10,000 former shipyard employees and many more family members whose health could also have been affected via take-home exposures. See: Cavada muestra su apoyo a la Asociación de Afectados por el Amianto en el Sector Naval [Cavada shows its support for the Association of People Affected by Asbestos in the Naval Sector].

International Burden of Mesothelioma

Oct 14. 2020

A paper entitled “Burden of Mesothelioma Deaths by National Income Category: Current Status and Future Implications” was published last month (September 2020) by international researchers. The authors found that the majority of mesothelioma deaths which had been reported to the World Health Organization had been contracted in high income or middle income countries. Going forward, the scientists predicted that: “mesothelioma burdens will likely manifest soon in upper middle-income and eventually in low and lower middle-income countries.” Asbestos consuming countries were urged “to stop using all types of asbestos” as per WHO policy. See: Burden of Mesothelioma Deaths by National Income Category: Current Status and Future Implications.

Asbestos & COVID-19 in Montana

Oct 13 2020

The people of Libby, Montana know all about living with an invisible killer. The operations of the vermiculite mine dispersed asbestos fibers throughout the town for decades, as a result of which many people who never worked at the mine contracted asbestos-related diseases by just breathing the air. The contamination which scarred their lungs makes them particularly vulnerable to complications from COVID-19. According to Dr. Miles Miller from Libby’s Center for Asbestos Related Diseases, at least 1 in 10 people in Libby have an asbestos-related illness which would compromise their recovery from the virus. See: COVID-19 Stalks A Montana Town Already Grappling with Asbestos Disease.