News Item Archive
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Displaying first 25 items in reverse date order (default)
Ending Asbestos Use!
Jul 21, 2017
The Public Labor Ministry in Rio Grande do Sul reached an agreement in May 2017 with Isdralit, the last manufacturing company using chrysotile asbestos in the Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul, to transition to an asbestos-free technology by November 10, 2017 and dispose of all toxic waste and contaminated products according to strict protocols. In addition, the company must establish a medical plan for all employees which provides periodic examinations for a period of 30 years. See: Com TAC, uso de amianto é banido na última indústria utilizadora da fibra no Estado [With TAC (the term of conduct adjustment), asbestos use is banned in the last fiber-using industry in the state].
Tackling Asbestos Disease
Jul 21, 2017
Meetings in Hanoi took place on July 19 and 20, 2017 between international and local asbestos experts and government officials, representatives of the Vietnam General Confederation of Labour, civil society campaigners from the Vietnam Ban Asbestos Network and other groups to consider the multifaceted nature of the asbestos challenges facing the country including the impact of hazardous exposures on human health, the availability of safer materials, and the problems regarding demolition and disposal of asbestos-containing materials. Technical and medical information presented by Canadian, Australian and Japanese speakers was warmly received. See: Photograph of discussion panel.
Supreme Court Ruling?
Jul 21, 2017
Litigation regarding the unconstitutionality of Brazil’s policy allowing the use of asbestos will once more be before the Supreme Court on August 10, 2017. At that time, the Court in Brasilia will hear submissions related to actions regarding the: legality of asbestos bans in São Paulo, Pernambuco, Rio de Janeiro and Rio Grande do Sul and the national policy supporting “the controlled use” of a carcinogenic substance which, so the litigants contend, constitutes a violation of the human rights of Brazilians. A 2012 hearing was adjourned with no decision taken. See: Saúde em jogo: Supremo retoma julgamento sobre o uso do Amianto [Health at stake: Supreme resumes judgment on the use of asbestos].
Jul 21, 2017
A July article in the Vietnamese media detailed the death of a British woman from the asbestos cancer mesothelioma. Susan MacGregor died in 2014, 14 months after she had been diagnosed, aged 58. As a child, she had hugged her father when he returned home wearing asbestos-covered work clothes. The article cites evidence from the World Health Organization and the Environmental Protection Agency confirming the deadly nature of human exposure to asbestos. See: Niềm vui đón bố đi làm về không ngờ là lý do khiến người phụ nữ bị ung thư mà chết 50 năm sau đó [The joy of going to work resulted in cancer death of a woman 50 years later].
Towards an Asbestos Ban!
Jul 20, 2017
To minimize the risk of occupational asbestos exposures, the Government of Canada announced on July 12 an immediate reduction in workplace exposure limits for chrysotile asbestos. This policy change is part and parcel of the federal government’s plans for banning the use of asbestos and asbestos-containing products by 2018. Welcoming the more stringent regulations, Canadian Labour Congress President Hassan Yussuff said the lower threshold sent “a clear message” that asbestos should not be used and brought Canada “one step closer to the… complete ban of both import and export of asbestos.” See: Federal government lowers limit of exposure to airborne chrysotile asbestos.
Raising Asbestos Awareness
Jul 20, 2017
On July 19, 2017, academics from Taiwan University launched a publication entitled “Deadly Dust” detailing the hazards posed to workers and the public from exposures to asbestos-containing materials and called on the government to implement measures to increase workplace and environmental protection. Professor Zheng Yawen informed journalists that people suffering from cancer caused by asbestos exposure have been diagnosed in Taiwan and that due to the presence of asbestos throughout Taiwan, more cases are anticipated especially amongst construction workers. See: 石綿致癌工人受害 學者憂政府漠視害命 [Academics concern over occupational asbestos hazard].
Jul 19, 2017
The International Ban Asbestos Secretariat (IBAS) has awarded a bursary to the Paraná branch of the Brazilian Association of the Asbestos-Exposed (ABREA), to purchase a set of ILO Classification Radiographs including ILO Standard Images of Pneumoconiosis, for the diagnosis of asbestos-related diseases by doctors from the State University in Londrina who are implementing a surveillance program for former workers from an ex-asbestos-cement plant belonging to the Infibra company. Thanking IBAS for this award, ABREA President Eliezer João De Souza said: “We are optimistic that the treatment of ABREA members will be improved by access to this new program.”
Update: Asbestos Emergency
Jul 19, 2017
New data published in Italy documents a growth in the volume of asbestos waste generated and a fall in the availability of regulated waste sites resulting in the export of 145,000 tonnes of waste to Germany. At the current rate of remediation, it is estimated that decontamination of the country won’t be achieved until the next century with asbestos-related deaths continuing for a further 130 years. In 2015, 369,000 tonnes of asbestos-containing waste were produced in Italy. See: Amianto, cresce la produzione di rifiuti in Italia ma gli impianti per gestirla sono sempre meno [Asbestos, waste generation in Italy is growing, but the facilities for managing it are getting less and less].
NHS Asbestos Threat
Jul 18, 2017
An investigation by BBC London has established that 94% of the capitals’ hospitals contain asbestos products. Of the 1,000 London people who have died from the signature asbestos cancer, mesothelioma since 2011, seven were doctors or nurses. While the Health and Safety Executive and government agencies such as NHS Improvement, part of the Department of Health, attempt to downplay the dangers posed by this contamination, others have claimed that the situation is tantamount to a “ticking time bomb.” An interview with the widow of a surgeon who died from mesothelioma details widespread use and uncontrolled exposures experienced by NHS staff. See: Hospital asbestos ‘a ticking time bomb’.
Quantifying the Asbestos Hazard
Jul 18, 2017
Members of Parliament representing areas on the Peloponnese peninsular in Western Greece have demanded answers from the government regarding the environmental asbestos hazard and plans, reported by the Greek Ecological Research Center, to build a landfill dumpsite for asbestos and radioactive industrial waste in the region. The government’s proposals, which have never been submitted to the Region of Western Greece for consultation, are being challenged by communities in and around the Peloponnese provinces of Achaia and Arcadia. See: Παρέμβαση βουλευτών για τον καρκινογόνο αμίαντο στην παραλία Δρεπάνου Αχαΐας [Members' intervention on carcinogenic asbestos at Drepanos Achaia beach].
Asbestos Industry Offensive
Jul 18, 2017
The Ukrainian Center for Steel Development has warned of the escalation of building costs following the recent announcement by the Ukraine Ministry of Health (MoH) that asbestos use and imports would be banned in six months. Two thirds of Ukraine’s asbestos imports come from Russia with the remainder coming from Kazakhstan. An asbestos industry trade association – the Ukrainian Chrysotile Association – is calling on the government to reverse the decision taken by the MoH. In 2015, Ukraine consumed 12,070 tonnes of asbestos. See: Запрет асбеста в Украине затронет ещё один стройматериал [Prohibition of asbestos in Ukraine will affect another building material].
Growing Pressure for Eradication
Jul 17, 2017
Following the announcement that the Portuguese Government had set a 2020 deadline for the removal of asbestos from all of the country’s 4,200 public buildings, politicians from the Green Ecological Party (ENP) have increased their calls for a government policy which mandates the same deadline for buildings in private ownership. The ENP has presented a bill in Parliament which proposes that a program for the identification of all companies which own buildings and/or installations containing asbestos materials be set up. See: Verdes querem remoção de amianto também em edifícios de empresas privadas [Greens want asbestos removal also in private business buildings].
Asbestos Waste Scandal
Jul 17, 2017
News of a public health scam has been reported by the Kenyan media which details corporate and government collusion to off-load toxic asbestos waste at a dump site in the town of Kitui, 180 kilometers from Nairobi. Villagers, who had been told that designated farmland was to be the site of a new hotel, were amazed when they saw huge earth moving machines dig four large holes into which tons of asbestos waste were illegally dumped under orders from representatives of Sonata Kenya Ltd. and Earth Care Company – overseen by officials from the National Environment Management Authority. Local people are demanding the removal of the toxic material. See: Deadly fibre: Kitui residents live in mortal fear of asbestos exposure.
Asbestos: Water Networks
Jul 17, 2017
A Spanish language online article highlights the health hazards posed by asbestos-containing water pipes to maintenance workers as well as members of the public and points out that these toxic water networks have, after several decades, finally come to the end of their usefulness. Increased awareness of the asbestos hazard, partially due to political lobbying, has led to public pressure for replacement by asbestos-free pipes to be made a priority issue in several Spanish cities including: Calviá, Tavernes, Los Corrales, Cieza, Castro, Boadilla, Murcia, etc. See: Amianto por un tubo [Asbestos Through a Tube].
Asbestos Scandal: Schools
Jul 12, 2017
Following its second survey of asbestos in schools undertaken in 2016, Japan’s Education Ministry announced last week that 227 institutions in 14 of the country’s 47 prefectures had chimneys using asbestos as heat insulation. Local governments responsible for the 227 public kindergartens, elementary, junior high and high schools with old chimneys that may scatter asbestos were instructed to address this matter. Amongst the public schools with risky chimneys, Hokkaido had 116 schools, the largest number, followed by Ishikawa Prefecture, with 34, and Tokyo, with 22. See: Japan study finds chimneys at 227 public schools at risk for scattering asbestos.
Jul 11, 2017
Asbestos found in the drivers’ carriages of the T5 train line in Sydney on July 6, 2017 led to a suspension of services after a strike was called by the Rail, Tram and Bus Union (RTBU) NSW Locomotive Division. In a statement, the RTBU said that “asbestos dust or particles had been found between March and June 2017 within the Flemington and Hornsby Maintenance Centres.” Commenting on the “wholly inadequate” response by Sydney Trains, a union spokesperson said action will continue “until such time as Sydney Trains can provide satisfactory information to allay concerns of members.” See: Chaos for commuters as Sydney's T5 train line suddenly closes until further notice and drivers announce a snap strike over deadly asbestos.
National Remediation Program
Jul 10, 2017
On July 7, 2017, the Portuguese government announced plans to remove asbestos from public buildings by 2020. The €422 million remediation program will decontaminate 4,200 buildings to protect public health from hazardous exposures. Part of the budget will come from EU and Portuguese funds; the rest will be provided by the European Investment Bank of the Council of Europe. Welcoming the plans, critics point out that asbestos audits should be undertaken as a priority before the start of a phased program with removal work commencing in the most polluted buildings. See: Despesa para remoção de amianto publicada em Diário da República [Budget for asbestos removal published in Diário da República].
Asbestos Victims Betrayed
Jul 10, 2017
The French newspaper Le Monde published a commentary denouncing the announcement on June 27 that the judiciary would not be carrying on with criminal cases against named government officers, civil servants and businessmen for the asbestos deaths of thousands of citizens. Reviewing the deadly industrial legacy created by asbestos companies such as Eternit and employers’ legal duty to provide a healthy environment at the workplace, sociologist and historian Pascal Marichalar condemned the failure to provide justice for those injured in the country’s largest occupational health epidemic. See: Amiante: un « renoncement à rendre justice » [Asbestos: a “renunciation of justice”].
Rise in Mesothelioma Deaths
Jul 7, 2017
Figures released on July 5, 2017 by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) document a rise in mesothelioma mortality. In Great Britain the number of mesothelioma deaths in 2015 was 2,542, an increase on the 2014 figure of 2,519 deaths. According to the HSE press release: “The increase in mesothelioma deaths in recent years has been driven mainly by deaths among those aged 75 and above… The latest projections suggest there will continue to be around 2500 deaths per year for the rest of this current decade before annual numbers begin to decline. The current figures relating to asbestos-related cancer reflect widespread exposures before 1980.” See: HSE releases annual workplace fatality figures.
Jul 3, 2017
An interview with Fernanda Giannasi, leader of the ban asbestos struggle in Brazil, was published on Sunday, detailing her June mission to Italy during which she strengthened the ties between victims and discussed strategies with comrades from Casale Monferrato, Milan, Bologna, Bari and elsewhere. Ms. Giannasi highlighted the pioneering work undertaken in Brazil by Agata Mazzeo, now known as the “Italian granddaughter of ABREA,” the group representing Brazil’s asbestos victims. See: Fernanda Giannasi: Trabalho conjunto com ONGs italianas foi vital para nossas lutas e vitórias contra o cancerígeno Amianto [Fernanda Giannasi: Working together with Italian NGOs was vital to our struggles and victories against the carcinogenic asbestos].
Jul 3, 2017
A Russian article took to extreme depths the depravity of asbestos lobbyists who blamed the fire at the Grenfell Towers, London on the fact that asbestos-containing products were not present. Their offensive diatribe contained many errors, as revealed by an alert issued by Public Health England about the health hazards of the asbestos fallout from the conflagration. Ignoring, as the industry propagandists always do, the fact that safe asbestos-free products exist, the author insinuated that environmental activists were to blame for the loss of life due to the international campaign to ban asbestos. See: Асбестовая изоляция могла защитить Гренфелл Тауэр от пожара [Asbestos insulation could have prevented Grenfell Tower fire].
Jul 2, 2017
A “study” published last week asserted that a proposed asbestos ban in Sri Lanka would disastrously impact on the country’s finances. It is of relevance to note that this report was launched at a seminar entitled: “Socio Economic Impact of the Potential Prohibition of Chrysotile in Sri Lanka” held by the Chrysotile Information Centre of Sri Lanka, an asbestos industry trade association which continues to assert that the “safe use” of carcinogenic asbestos products can be achieved. This industry-tailored document is clearly an attempt to dissuade key decision makers from following through on their pledge to ban asbestos in Sri Lanka by 2024. See: Proposed asbestos ban a costly affair, says report.
Jul 2, 2017
A study undertaken by six scientists from the Institute for Pathology of the Ruhr-University Bochum, Germany using data from the German Mesothelioma Register presents “longitudinal intra-individual data about the asbestos fibre burden in living human lungs.” Regarding the hazardous nature of chrysotile (white) asbestos, the researchers demonstrated: “high biopersistence of not only amphibole but also chrysotile asbestos in the human lung and thus gives mechanistic explanations for the toxicity of the fibre and the long latency period of asbestos related diseases.” See: The asbestos fibre burden in human lungs: new insights into the chrysotile debate.
Jun 28, 2017
After waiting decades for justice, asbestos victims in France have been informed that public prosecutors in Paris are recommending that pending criminal cases over deadly asbestos exposures which have been progressing through the judicial system against asbestos companies such as Eternit, the leading French producer of asbestos-cement, shipyard and building owners should be dropped, due to uncertainty regarding the dates of toxic exposures experienced by victims. The first criminal complaints were filed in 1997; to date, no trials have taken place. See: Scandale de l’amiante. La justice s’oriente vers une serie de non-lieux [Asbestos scandal. Justice is going nowhere].
Jun 28, 2017
The announcement on June 26, 2017 that Ukraine was banning asbestos was welcomed by global asbestos activists. The press conference at which the Ministry of Health spokeswoman declared the new policy can be watched on youtube in the original Ukrainian and with English translation. Press briefings regarding this development are available online in Ukrainian and in Russian. There are currently seven companies in Ukraine employing 4,000 people who process asbestos fiber from Russia and Kazakhstan. See: The Ministry of health has banned the use of all forms of asbestos.