News Item Archive

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Displaying first 25 items in reverse date order (default)
 

Asbestos Civil Action

Oct 23, 2017

The Brazilian Association of the Asbestos-Exposed (ABREA) has filed a public civil action against asbestos manufacturer Brasilit, claiming material – medical, hospital, physiotherapeutic and psychological healthcare costs for workers and family members – and moral damages for 2,000 workers exposed to asbestos at the company’s São Caetano do Sul factory. ABREA seeks to annul extrajudicial agreements preventing former employees from filing lawsuits in return for healthcare funded by their former employer. See: ACP contra Brasilit pede indenização a 2 mil ex-empregados contaminados por Amianto [ACP v Brasilit seeks compensation for former 2,000 asbestos-exposed employees].
 

Alert: Brake Shop Mechanics

Oct 23, 2017

The results of research undertaken by environmental engineer Maria Fernanda Cely-García in 18 brake workshops in Bogotá over 99 days has shown that workers in this cohort are exposed to levels of asbestos up to five times higher than legal limits as a result of which 26% of the 50 workers examined exhibited lung abnormalities related to asbestos. Common national and international standards set permissible levels of asbestos exposure at 0.1 f/cc (0.1 asbestos fibers per cubic centimeter); levels found in the Bogotá workshops reached 0.6 f/cc. See: Asbesto, un peligro para los mecánicos [Asbestos, a danger to mechanics].
 

Film: Sennan Asbestos Disaster

Oct 23, 2017

A Japanese documentary film entitled Sennan Asbestos Disaster by director Kazuo Hara won the Citizen’s Prize at the Yamagata International Documentary Film Festival earlier this month (October 2017) and on October 22 won the Mercenat Award at the Busan International Film Festival in Korea. The film will be screened at other festivals in the coming months. It is 215 minutes long and took 10 years of research, filming and post-production to bring to the cinema. See press release: Sennan Asbestos Disaster.
 

Achieving Total Asbestos Ban

Oct 21, 2017

The steps needed to achieve a total ban on asbestos in Japan and conclusions drawn from the process are described in a paper just published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. The authors described missed opportunities and delays and highlighted the impact of the asbestos scandal – known as “the Kubota Shock” – which propelled asbestos onto the national agenda. Also mentioned are the Global Asbestos Congress 2000 (Brazil) and the Global Asbestos Congress 2004 (Japan) which signified the growth of concern regarding the asbestos hazard around the world. See: Experience of Japan in Achieving a Total Ban on Asbestos.
 

Asbestos Propaganda Machine

Oct 21, 2017

On October 12, 2017 architectural students at Kazan Construction College in Tatarstan, Russia became the latest targets of asbestos industry propaganda when they were addressed by Vladimir Petrovich Uglev, technical director of the “Chrysotile Association,” a body dedicated to promoting sales of asbestos. One week earlier (see: Asbestos Lobby Targets Students), students at Nizhny Novgorod State University of Civil Engineering had been lectured by Vladimir Galitsyn, a director of the same association. Students were urged to participate in a competition by submitting designs for asbestos projects. See: Студенты-архитекторы из Казани заново открыли для себя хризотил [Architectural Students from Kazan rediscover chrysotile].
 

VICTORY in Case for Naval Personnel

Oct 21, 2017

Having acknowledged negligence in failing to protect a navy captain and lieutenant from asbestos exposure as a result of which both men died from asbestos-related diseases, Spain’s Ministry of Defense agreed, after court proceedings, to pay compensation to surviving family members of €135,000 and €130,000, respectively. Both men served in the navy for decades beginning in the 1950s; the captain died in 1998 and the lieutenant in 2015. Asbestos was widely used throughout Spanish naval ships and facilities. See: Ministerio de Defensa indemniza a los herederos de dos víctimas del amianto en la Armada [Ministry of Defense compensates heirs of two Naval asbestos victims].
 

Asbestos Scandal!

Oct 20, 2017

A furore has engulfed hundreds of firms and employers in the Netherlands and Belgium where the use of an asbestos-contaminated industrial cleaning agent for the removal of rust and dirt from steel surfaces was discovered at a site in Rotterdam earlier this month. The contaminated substance was sold by Eurogrit, a company based in the western Netherlands; Eurogrit is being investigated by government agencies and criticized by trade unions which have condemned the failure to prevent the import of toxic goods into the country. The company which says it has never checked for asbestos has recalled all delivered products. See: FNV krijgt inzage in lijst Eurogrit [FNV gets access to Eurogrit list].
 

Schools: Asbestos Epidemic

Oct 20, 2017

Data released on October 19, 2017 by the UNISON trade union documented an appalling epidemic of occupational mortality caused by exposures to asbestos in schools. Between 1980 and 2015, 335 primary and secondary school teachers, eight school secretaries, eight nursery nurses, 18 school midday assistants and 24 teaching assistants died of the asbestos cancer, mesothelioma. Commenting on these statistics, UNISON head of education Jon Richards said: “The cuts in schools budgets and the fragmentation of the school system have undermined how health and safety risks such as asbestos are managed.” See: Figures reveal toll of asbestos in schools.
 

Mesothelioma in Australia

Oct 20, 2017

The 30-page document entitled “Mesothelioma in Australia 2016: 6th Annual Report,” reported that as of May 31, 2017 the Australian Mesothelioma Registry (AMR) had received 700 notifications of mesothelioma diagnoses made between January 1 and December 21, 2016; the vast majority of new cases were males aged 65 years or over. Data gathered from interviews with hundreds of those affected was informative: 60% reported occupational asbestos exposure, 82% cited non-occupational exposure, 7% had no information on occupational or non-occupational asbestos exposure. See: Mesothelioma in Australia2016: 6th Annual Report.
 

Asbestos Company Charged

Oct 19, 2017

The first hearing was held on October 17, 2017 in the 2nd Labor Court of Simões Filho, Bahia, Brazil of charges brought by the Public Labor Ministry of Bahia against Eternit S.A. which is alleged to have illegally exposed workers in its Simões Filho headquarters to high levels of toxic asbestos. If convicted the company could face penalties of R$225 million (US$71m). Eternit has 15 days to submit an agreement to phase out asbestos use in its factory. See: Eternit na BA pode ser condenada a indenizar sociedade em R$ 225 mi por uso de amianto [Eternit in BA may be ordered to indemnify society for R $225 million for use of asbestos].
 

Banning Asbestos: the Process

Oct 19, 2017

A new academic paper details the dynamics and social, economic, and scientific forces which achieved Taiwan’s ban asbestos legislation; as of January, 2018 a total ban will be in place. Amongst the driving forces discussed is the work of “visionary scholars and healthcare professionals,” growing environmental awareness, transnational networking by health activists and the decline of the asbestos industrial sector. To effectively protect Taiwan citizens from the asbestos hazard, the ban must be accompanied, the authors write, by a “thorough long-term healthcare plan for the neglected victims of asbestos-related diseases…” See: Transnational Dynamics Amid Poor Regulations: Taiwan’s Asbestos Ban Actions and Experiences.
 

Surge in Asbestos-Free Development

Oct 19, 2017

The development of Sri Lanka’s red clay sector is surging with domestic and foreign demand exceeding supply. According to Sri Lanka’s Minister of Industry and Commerce Rishad Bathludeen: “Our clay is high quality and is in demand for roof tile making due to the asbestos import ban starting next year (2018)… We sent 30 Sri Lankan red clay industrialists for technological training to Belgium and China.” Some of Sri Lankan asbestos-free red tile production is now being exported to the UK; the Sri Lankan government is supporting initiatives to help cut production costs and improve the quality of output. See: New support for Sri Lanka porcelain, red clay and glass.
 

Support grows for Asbestos Ban

Oct 18, 2017

The publication of a commentary regarding the mobilization of ban asbestos support in Colombia highlighted a successful vote by the Congress, after six previous attempts, to prohibit the production, sale and use of asbestos. The “Ana Cecilia Niño” bill was sponsored by Senator Nadia Blel and supported by the executive branch, specifically the Ministry of the Interior, and the Ministries of Health and Social Protection, Labor, Environment and Territorial Development. The bill will now be debated in a plenary session of the House of Representatives and committee and plenary sessions of the Senate. See: ¿Será que ahora sí? (Could it be now?)
 

Naturally Occurring Asbestos

Oct 18, 2017

A publication entitled “Naturally Occurring Asbestos – Asbestos Management Plan Guide” has been produced by the Heads of Asbestos Coordination Authorities (HACA) to help people living and working in rural areas of New South Wales (NSW), Australia prevent exposures to naturally occurring asbestos found in the State’s rocks, sediments and soils. According to Peter Dunphy, Executive Director of SafeWork NSW and Chair of HACA: “Under work health and safety laws, property owners, managers, and workers must take appropriate precautions to ensure naturally occurring asbestos is identified and managed safely.” See: New asbestos guide launched.
 

Asbestos Navy

Oct 18

A book has just been published in Italian by Lino Lava and Giuseppe Pietrobelli, entitled “Navi d’amianto” (Asbestos navy), detailing the fight against the asbestos enemy present in so many naval machine rooms, vessels and premises. Investigations by the Padua magistrate are soon to commence into 600 asbestos deaths amongst service personnel. Despite the fact that asbestos use has been banned in Italy since 1992, asbestos-contaminated naval ships are still operational and Italian sailors and officers continue to succumb to asbestos-related cancers and illnesses due to on-board exposures. See: Navi d’amianto [Asbestos navy].
 

Asbestos and the Railways

Oct 18, 2017

Livingston, Montana is a town founded in the 19th century by the Northern Pacific Railway midway between its hubs in Minneapolis and Seattle. Despite the railway’s importance to the local economy, asbestosis sufferer Bill Phillips sums up his former employer’s attitude towards the area as: “Rip, rape and run.” Asbestos debris from the railway was just one of a number of toxic materials cavalierly discarded; an enormous quantity – possibly more than a million gallons – of diesel waste polluted soil and groundwater, chemical degreasers, lead, chlorinated solvents, and a cocktail of other pollutants went down drains directly into groundwater. See: The Railroad Put This Montana Town On The Map. But It Left Behind A Toxic Legacy.
 

Asbestos at Home

Oct 17, 2017

After several setbacks, a judge has given the approval for the Public Prosecutor of Milan to proceed with investigations regarding the 2015 mesothelioma death of Mrs. Paola Corda, a tenant in the Via Rimini Milan apartment complex which was riddled with asbestos. One avenue of enquiry will be asbestos removal work in 2001 which may have liberated fibers into the atmosphere; during the work, tenants were not evacuated. Defendants could face charges of unintentional homicide for failing to protect the residents from asbestos exposures. See: Ona, case popolari di Milano: inquilina muore per mesothelioma [Popular homes in Milan: tenant dies from mesothelioma].
 

Mesothelioma Palliative Care

Oct 17, 2017

At an October 16, 2017 press conference of the World Conference on Lung Cancer in Yokohama, Japan, Australian research was unveiled which questioned the effectiveness of early and regular palliative care on quality of life for patients with malignant pleural mesothelioma. According to Professor Fraser Brims of Perth’s Curtin University: “While the results were surprising, as intuitively many of us felt that the intervention was likely to help, they highlight why we need high quality studies like this.” See: Early Palliative Care Provides No Additional Quality of Life Benefits for Recently Diagnosed Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma (MPM) Patients.
 

Asbestos Alert to Renovators

Oct 17, 2017

According to the Workers’ Compensation Board of British Columbia, a statutory agency tasked with protecting occupational injury and disease, asbestos is currently the biggest occupational killer in the province. Between 2007 and 2016, 605 workers died in BC from asbestos-related exposure. Despite the widespread prevalence of asbestos-containing products in BC homes – in vinyl tiles, linoleum sheet flooring, roofing felts and shingles etc. – just 36% of homeowners who renovated pre-1990 homes in the last five years tested for asbestos before commencing renovations. See: BC home owners warned about asbestos danger: WorkSafe BC.
 

“Big” Asbestos Attacks Canada

Oct 16, 2017

The treachery of a former ally abandoning the chrysotile (asbestos) camp to embrace an asbestos-free future has incensed the International Chrysotile Association (ICA), a lobbying group representing asbestos vested interests, which has launched a last-ditch attempt to force the Canadian government to reconsider its “unjustified hurry” to ban asbestos. A poorly translated, 30-page ICA text entitled: ASBESTOS Amphiboles MUST BE BANNED, Chrysotile MUST BE CONTROLLED is now being circulated to support the industry’s position. See: Asbestos lobby attacks Canada’s decision to ban asbestos.
 

Quarries’ Asbestos Contamination

Oct 16, 2017

WorkSafe New Zealand, the country’s occupational health and safety regulator, has suspended serpentine mining operations at three quarries over fears that serpentine rock containing asbestos is being used at scores of farms in Southland and central North Island as an ingredient in farm fertiliser to get magnesium into the soil. WorkSafe’s Jo Pugh said that regular testing had revealed the presence of low levels of asbestos in the rock being crushed. To ensure workers’ safety, prohibition notices on the quarries had been issued. Before mining can be re-started stringent requirements will have to be met. See: Quarries closed over fertiliser asbestos scare. Serpentine mining halted by WorkSafe over asbestos fears.
 

Asbestos Hazard: Bus Drivers

Oct 16, 2017

The mesothelioma death in December 2010 of a bus driver employed by the Nishitetsu company has been certified as occupationally caused due to workplace exposures to asbestos present in the charcoal gas generating furnaces used in buses during and after World War II. As of May 1948, there were 5,000 "charcoal buses"; they were phased out in the early 1950s. The deceased, who started work at Nishitetsu in 1947 in Omuta City, Japan inspected his vehicle every morning before starting work. Prior to this case, the asbestos hazard to bus drivers had not been recognized by the authorities. See: 石綿 西鉄バス元車掌も労災認定 木炭バスで吸引 [Asbestos: Nishitetsu bus conductor died from occupational exposure].
 

Asbestos Lobby Targets Students

Oct 14, 2017

Russian asbestos stakeholders are ratcheting up efforts to spread industry propaganda, last week targeting architectural students at the Nizhny Novgorod State University of Civil Engineering. During a lecture by Vladimir Galitsyn, director of the Chrysotile Association, the virtues of chrysotile (white) asbestos were extolled and students were encouraged to use chrysotile construction material. This is one of a series of lectures scheduled for higher and secondary special institutions in Russia. A competition to encourage chrysotile cement use in Russia supplements the current industry offensive. See: Шифер возвращается и остается [Slate comes back and stays].
 

Asbestos in Schools

Oct 14, 2017

Yesterday (October 13, 2017), Korean lawmakers grilled Environment Minister Kim Eun-kyung about the government’s failure to address widespread asbestos contamination of small – under 1,000 square meters in size – educational premises and after-school institutions, 53% of which contain asbestos building products. Defending the Government, the Minister said that efforts were being made to retrofit buildings used by children to ensure that they were free of asbestos. A study conducted in July found that 47 out of the 53 schools buildings inspected contained asbestos. See: Gov't asbestos management draws fire from lawmaker.
 

Asbestos in Schools

Oct 13, 2017

A report by the Joint Union Asbestos Committee (JUAC) issued on October 11, 2017 calls on the government to prioritize the removal of asbestos from UK schools in a phased program; a failure to do so could result in deadly products remaining in schools until 2050. The report cites a recommendation made by the Public Accounts Committee that a plan be submitted by December 2017 which details the “prevalence, condition and management of asbestos” within school estate areas. A remediation program should remove “all asbestos from schools commencing with the most dangerous first.” See: Why unsafe asbestos may still be in our schools in 2050.