News Item Archive

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Displaying first 25 items in reverse date order (default)
 

Toxic Talc Settlement

Jun 14, 2024

On June 11, 2024, the US pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson (J&J) announced that it had reached a $700 million settlement with 42 US states and Washington, D.C. The payout is intended to resolve charges that the company misled consumers into believing that the use of J&J’s talc-based products was safe. J&J did not admit wrongdoing. There are currently over 60,000 cancer claims from plaintiffs who allege their diseases were caused by asbestos fibers contained in the company’s talc-based baby powder. See: Johnson & Johnson reaches $700 million talc settlement with US states.
 

Asbestos Hazard in War Debris

Jun 14, 2024

A dossier released by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in Ukraine on June 11, 2024 detailed the scale of environmental damage caused by Russian attacks. To deal with the huge amount of building debris, an innovative facility for processing waste opened in the Kyiv region with support of UNDP and the European Union. To ensure no asbestos is present in recycled material, a special laboratory is being installed and measures adopted to identify asbestos fibers in both waste and air. Currently, asbestos waste is wrapped and stored in temporary facilities prior to developing a technology for burying it in designated landfills. See: ООН открыла в Украине инновационную станцию по переработке отходов войны [The UN has opened an innovative station for processing war waste in Ukraine].
 

Uralita Victims’ Long Wait for Justice

Jun 14, 2024

At a June 6, 2024 Madrid press conference, spokespersons for the law firm of Cremades & Calvo-Sotelo announced a legal strategy to secure compensation for some of the victims of the former Spanish asbestos giant Uralita, despite the company’s protracted bankruptcy proceedings. Starting within the next 2 months, lawyers will attempt to get the courts to reclassify some of the injured as “involuntary creditors,” in order to provide them with preferential collection options that they do not currently have. See: Un despacho se aferra a Ley Concursal para que afectados por Uralita reciban indemnización [Law firm to use Bankruptcy Law to secure compensation for Uralita’s asbestos victims].
 

Seller Beware!

Jun 14, 2024

At the June 6, 2024 meeting of Choshi City Council, Japan, the council unanimously approved a supplementary budget that allocated 12.96 million yen (~US$82,000) in reparations and other expenses for the company which in 2019 purchased the land and three-story building formerly used by the Fire Department. By selling this asbestos-containing property to the company without prior notification of the asbestos present, the council had breached its duty of disclosure. See: アスベスト使用の旧庁舎売却は説明義務違反 銚子市が損賠に同意 [Choshi City agrees to compensation for damages due to breach of duty of disclosure in sale of former government building containing asbestos].
 

Asbestos in Cosmetics

Jun 14, 2024

The presence of asbestos fibers in beauty products has led to an increasing number of US lawsuits from UK consumers who believe their cancers were caused by the use of contaminated bronzer, blusher, eye shadow, foundation, mascara, lipstick, dry shampoo and other items of make-up. One such litigant was Hannah Fletcher, who sued Clinique, Estée Lauder and Avon in the US after contracting peritoneal mesothelioma at 42 years old. Another UK peritoneal mesothelioma sufferer Jade Jenkins is now suing US cosmetics companies who she believes are responsible for her cancer. See: Is there asbestos in your makeup? Why women with cancer are suing big beauty brands.
 

Asbestos Remediation Project

Jun 14, 2024

The South Africa Tshwane Municipality announced on June 11, 2024 plans to replace decaying asbestos-cement water pipes in Sinoville, in the north of Pretoria. According to Ward 50 councillor Lenise Breytenbach: “The asbestos pipes are ancient and are a health risk and prone to busting at any given time… The asbestos pipes should’ve been replaced years ago.” Lindela Mashigo, a spokesperson for the Tshwane authorities, said that the pipes were being replaced under the city’s approved pipe replacement program; additional areas will be remediated in the next financial year. See: Metro continues to replace decaying water pipes in north.
 

Addressing a Toxic National Legacy

Jun 12, 2024

At an Ottawa press conference during World Environment Week, the Green Party of Canada and Prevent Cancer Now (PCN) called on the federal government to address the danger posed by the continued use of deteriorating asbestos-cement water pipes. Addressing the gathering, PCN representative Dr. Meg Sears said: “Canada has no methods or certified laboratories to measure asbestos in water, so there is no data on drinking water. It’s time for the federal government to start assembling the data, and to stop saying there is no evidence that ingested asbestos is harmful when there is no Canadian evidence whatsoever.” See: Green Party of Canada and Prevent Cancer Now Calls for Long-Overdue Action on Asbestos Cement Water Pipes.
 

Plaintiff’s Toxic Talc Victory

Jun 12, 2024

A jury in the US State of Oregon handed down a victim’s verdict earlier this month when it ordered the pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson (J&J) to pay $260 million to a claimant who contracted mesothelioma as a result of using the company’s asbestos-contaminated talc-based baby powder. The payout, which included $60 million in compensatory damages and $200 million in punitive damages, was awarded to the 48-year old plaintiff Kyung Lee and her husband. A J&J spokesperson said that the company would appeal. See: J&J must pay $260 million in latest talc trial, Oregon jury says.
 

Illegal Asbestos-Cement Pipes Seized

Jun 12, 2024

An action taken by Norwegian authorities was declared an act of economic warfare in a Russian language article reporting the news that customs officers in Longyearbyen, Norway had seized 235 kilograms of asbestos-containing pipes destined for use in the Russian mining enclave in Barentsburg. Even though Norway had banned asbestos decades ago, the Russian state-owned company – Arktikugol Trust – running Moscow’s activities in the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard had previously been exempt from this prohibition. An official complaint has been lodged. See: Норвежское правительство запретило российский импорт асбеста на Шпицберген [Norwegian government bans Russian asbestos imports to Svalbard].
 

Edinburgh Judges Issue Victim’s Ruling

Jun 12, 2024

Justices in the Inner House of the Court of Session, Scotland’s Supreme Court, dismissed an appeal by Scottish Power against a verdict awarding damages to the widow and surviving family of Robert Crozier who died in 2018 from mesothelioma contracted as a result of workplace asbestos exposures. Crozier had worked for Scottish Power between 1969 and 1992 as a mechanical fitter. See: Scottish Power loses appeal against award of damages to family of deceased employee who developed mesothelioma.
 

Justice for Firefighter’s Family

Jun 12, 2024

Last week, Italy’s Council of State ordered the Ministry of the Interior to pay compensation of €370,000 (US$397,000) for the 2008 mesothelioma death of S.G., a firefighter from Trieste. The deceased, who died aged 75, had given 34 years of service working in the regional capital. During that time he had received toxic exposures as a result of wearing gloves and firefighting suits made of asbestos. The Home Office initially denied that this exposure had caused the mesothelioma. See: Vigile del fuoco morto per amianto, Stato condannato a risarcire la famiglia [Firefighter’s Death due to Asbestos, State Ordered To Compensate Family].
 

Environmental Asbestos Hazard

Jun 12, 2024

Data from a 2023 asbestos health impact survey revealed that the number of local people who experienced adverse health effects as a result of exposure to asbestos liberated by the operations of a small shipyard repair facility in Tongyeong City is increasing. Of 150 people examined last year by staff from the Asbestos Environmental Conservation Center of Yangsan Pusan National University Hospital, twelve were recognized as asbestos victims. Asbestos victims are able to obtain benefits from the city for their injuries. See: 통영 소형 조선소 인근 석면 피해주민 증가…지난해 12명 확인 [Last year's Resident Health Impact Survey].
 

Asbestos Ban in Capital City

Jun 10, 2024

Last week, it was reported that the Jakarta Provincial Health Office had prohibited the use of asbestos material in domestic properties on the grounds of public safety. Speaking on behalf of the authority, Dwi Oktavia confirmed that the ban had been adopted to prevent potentially carcinogenic exposures occurring. The Director of an Indonesian NGO – Local Initiative OHS Network – applauded the position and stressed that after a major Supreme Court decision stipulating that hazard warnings be placed on all asbestos products, more action needed to be taken to implement these landmark decisions. See: New asbestos ban: Jakarta Health Office prohibits the killer dust for resident safety.
 

Asbestos Regulatory Failures

Jun 10, 2024

An article in the June 2, 2024 Australian edition of The Guardian recapped the scandal caused by the use of asbestos-containing mulch at public sites in New South Wales (NSW). Despite reassurances voiced by the State’s Premier Chris Minns confirming a high-profile investigation by staff from the NSW Environment Protection Authority, there have, to date, been no prosecutions. Another disturbing regulatory failure making the news involved the production by Australian waste companies of toxic “recovered fines” for use as cheap fill by landscaping and gardening companies. See: How much more asbestos regulatory failure needs to be exposed before the NSW government gets the political will to act?
 

Mesothelioma Clinical Trials in Scotland

Jun 10, 2024

According to figures collated by Public Health Scotland, half of all Scottish cases of mesothelioma occur amongst men on the west coast, with Glasgow a particular hotspot. MITOPE is a new clinical trial for these patients, designed to assess the effectiveness of a new cancer treatment: RSO-021. Commenting on the research protocol, Professor Kevin Blyth, of the University of Glasgow said: “we are hopeful that this trial, if successful, could offer a new effective treatment option for patients here in Scotland and across the UK. We are also hoping to develop similar trials involving direct treatment into the pleural space through our Cancer Research UK-funded network.” See: Scots patients battling cancer linked to asbestos given new hope with clinical trial.
 

Collapse of Asbestos Roofing Market

Jun 10, 2024

The article cited below included an interview with Kenyan Engineer Clifford Muthomi who explained that health reasons are behind the switch of consumer preference for asbestos-cement roofing to clay tiles, galvanized iron sheets and other safer alternatives. “Asbestos is not good for health,” Muthomi said. “That is why today the most common roofing materials are made of clay and iron. Recently, many Kenyans have embraced the flat roof design, which means concrete roofs are also becoming popular.” See: Kenyan Engineer Shares Preferred Roofing Options, Features: “These Roofs Don't Go Out of Fashion”.
 

Environmental Disaster in Naples

Jun 10, 2024

For decades, an unscrupulous businessman from Campania illegally buried asbestos and other toxic waste – estimated to be 200,000 tonnes+ – in a disused quarry in the Neapolitan capital. The authorities now involved include the Regional Environmental Protection Agency of Campania, an environmental geology Professor, members of the ecological operational unit of the Carabinieri and the economic-financial police unit of the Guardia di Finanza: a military police force reporting directly to the Minister of Economy and Finance. See: Napoli, rifiuti e amianto sepolti nell'ex cava da bonificare: "Disastro ambientale" [Naples, waste and asbestos buried in the former quarry to be reclaimed: “Environmental disaster”].
 

Asbestos in Schools

Jun 10, 2024

An article uploaded earlier this month, reported criticism by a civil society coalition of the government’s continued failure to deal with the national emergency caused by the presence of deteriorating asbestos material in the majority of the country’s schools. The experts – from the British Occupational Hygiene Society (BOHS), asbestos victims’ groups, Mesothelioma UK and education unions, warned that: “Up to 150 school workers and pupils are at risk of death or fatal exposure from asbestos each year as current plans to fix the UK’s crumbling schools fail to address the deadly building material.” See: 150 deaths and fatal exposures every year from asbestos in UK’s crumbling schools.
 

Supreme Court Victory

Jun 4, 2024

The May 31, 2024 blog cited below issued by the Indonesian NGO LION [Local Initiative for Occupational Safety and Health Network] discussed the implications of a recent Supreme Court decision supporting the right of citizens to have prior warning before using asbestos-containing materials. The ruling was a huge victory for campaigners as it accepted that asbestos was a toxic material which should be clearly labelled to protect workers and members of the public. Concluding the blog, the author noted that the decision provided: “legal legitimacy and strong support for the [ban asbestos] movement” in Indonesia. See: Konsumen Melawan Asbes, Kemenangan Penting Dalam Perlindungan Kesehatan Masyarakat [Consumers Fight Asbestos, an Important Victory in Protecting Public Health].
 

Rising Exports of Banned Mineral

Jun 4, 2024

The explosive contents of the article cited below have been reverberating throughout Brazilian social media since it appeared last week. The author explained that far from slowing down, asbestos production at the country’s sole remaining mine was increasing, despite a 2017 Supreme Court ruling outlawing the commercial exploitation of asbestos. Since the invasion of Ukraine, Brazil had overtaken Russia as the number one asbestos exporter to India, the biggest asbestos-importing and using country in the world. Campaigners criticized the Supreme Court’s failure to rule on the unconstitutionality of the State law exempting the Cana Brava mine from the national ban. See: Guerra da Ucrânia alavancou exportações de amianto do Brasil [Ukraine war boosted asbestos exports from Brazil].
 

Addressing the Asbestos Legacy

Jun 4, 2024

In a recent interview with reporter Hamidur Rahman, Bangladeshi Occupational Medicine specialist Dr Mahmud Hossain Faruquee spoke of the difficulties in both Bangladesh and India of identifying people with asbestos-related diseases. However, the expert noted, the absence of evidence was not evidence of absence and more work needed to be done to increase medical capacity, build treatment facilities and create support networks for the “invisible” asbestos victims and their families. Faruquee highlighted the negative influence of commercial vested interests, including the International Chrysotile Association, in protecting the status quo. See: Health rules must be maintained when using Asbestos: Expert.
 

Call to Ban Asbestos!

Jun 4, 2024

A remarkable article uploaded on May 31, 2024 on China's leading health portal – 39.health – called for an immediate and comprehensive asbestos ban. Upon further research it transpired that the article was on a site based in Taiwan which explained why the author was brazen enough to be so outspoken. China is one of the world’s leading asbestos producing and using countries. The text quoted the views of Dr. Chen Tianhui and his team from the Zhejiang Academy of Medical Sciences, all of whom supported the need for asbestos bans in developing countries. See: “是时候全面禁用石棉了!”超级致癌物石棉,就藏在你身边 [“It's time for a total ban on asbestos!” Asbestos, a super carcinogen, is hiding right next to you].
 

Asbestos Profits: Update

Jun 4, 2024

On May 31, 2024, an Indian asbestos company reported a significant rise in profits compared to 2023 figures: since 1973, U.P. Asbestos Ltd. has been a manufacturer of asbestos-cement building products. The company currently has production facilities at Mohanlalganj, Lucknow and at Dadri, Gautam Budh Nagar. India is the world’s largest asbestos importing and using country. According to a 2023 research paper: “Each asbestos-cement sheet that is produced and utilized poses a significant risk of disease throughout its entire life cycle, from mining and processing to installation, demolition and disposal. All those involved in these processes face a significant risk of exposure.” See: U.P. Asbestos standalone net profit rises 30.26% in the March 2024 quarter.
 

Jury Award for Bereaved Family

Jun 4, 2024

The family of a Connecticut man who had worked at the General Electric (GE) plant in Pittsfield, Massachusetts won a $15+ million compensation award from a jury last month (May, 2024); the jury concluded that the asbestos cancer death of Nicholas Barone had been caused by toxic workplace exposures. The defendant in the case was Vanderbilt Minerals LLC, a successor to International Talc, the company which had supplied the GE plant with asbestos-contaminated talc. The amount of punitive damages Vanderbilt will be required to pay has not yet been determined. See: A former Pittsfield GE plant engineer successfully argued in court that materials he worked with contained asbestos and caused his fatal cancer.
 

Rugby and Asbestos

May 31, 2024

An asbestos victims’ group based in Sydney, last week challenged local rugby team – the Paramatta Eels – for renewing sponsorship ties with former asbestos company James Hardie (JH). From 2025, the name of the company will be featured on the front of the team’s jerseys. Between 1981 and 1995, the team’s heyday, JH had been its primary sponsor. Reacting to the official announcement of this news, a spokesperson for the victims said: “I think it's outrageous…To see the name Hardie on these football jumpers will trigger in some families memories of loved ones that have died from being exposed to these James Hardie products.” See: Parramatta Eels urged by asbestos sufferers to drop James Hardie sponsorship.