News Item Archive

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Displaying first 25 items in reverse date order (default)
 

Propaganda Offensive in Ukraine

Jun 5, 2020

A text on a Ukraine news portal with the headline “Is it possible to use asbestos?” repeated asbestos industry’s arguments stating that chrysotile asbestos was “the safest among industrial [asbestos] fibers” and that exposure to chrysotile “should not cause concern about the harmful effects on the body with controlled use.” This infomercial concluded as follows: “Due to the Euro-oriented course of Ukraine, in 2017 in our country they also tried to ban all asbestos-containing materials, including those with safe chrysotile. But, fortunately, the decision of the Ministry of Health was suspended by the court, and today the use of chrysotile asbestos is legal.” See: Влияние асбеста на организм человека – можно ли использовать асбест [The effect of asbestos on the human body – is it possible to use asbestos].
 

Support for US Asbestos Ban

Jun 5, 2020

On June 2, 2020, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey and 12 other attorney generals submitted comments criticizing the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) finding that some uses of asbestos present no unreasonable risk to human health. Reasserting that the “dangers of asbestos are indisputable,” the Attorney Generals urged “the EPA to stop this farce and actually consider science and evidence as it evaluates the risk of this known carcinogen.” See: California Attorney General Criticizes EPA for Failing to Protect Americans from Asbestos, a Long-Known Dangerous Carcinogen.
 

Guernsey Compensation Scheme

Jun 5, 2020

On June 4, 2020, the States of Guernsey – the parliament of one of the British Channel islands – approved an initiative to pay compensation to all sufferers of the signature asbestos cancer mesothelioma. The scheme, which will be rolled out in 20201, will cost Guernsey £100,000 a year. Attempts by the Policy and Resources Committee to delay the implementation of the scheme were overcome with one opponent claiming that such a delay was “unnecessary, destructive and cruel.” Jersey, another Channel Island, agreed to pay mesothelioma sufferers compensation in 2018. See: Asbestos-related cancer compensation scheme approved in Guernsey.
 

Deadly Asbestos Legacy

Jun 3, 2020

The results of an annual health report by Japan's Environment Ministry confirmed that more than 30% of respondents to the ministry’s survey had developed symptoms of asbestos-related conditions by inhaling asbestos liberated by the operations of local asbestos-using factories. The authors of the report documenting the newly released data warned that the figure of “over 30%” was an underestimate of the likely impact of asbestos exposures on local populations. Despite this and other government initiatives, many people remain unaware of the environmental hazard posed by their exposure to asbestos say health and safety campaigners in Japan. See: Link between local residents' illnesses and asbestos use at factories: Japan study.
 

Asbestos in Classic Cars

Jun 3, 2020

A commentary by a car enthusiast on a US specialist website highlighted the health hazards posed to car restorers by the presence of asbestos in parts contained in classic and vintage cars such as: brake pads, brake linings, clutch discs, transmission parts, gaskets, valve rings and hood linings. Asbestos was also used in some fiberglass or plastic bodywork, insulation and under coatings. The author of this text reported that mechanics and body shop technicians were at a higher risk of exposure to asbestos whilst working on older vehicles; over time, friable asbestos fibers collected in brake drums and transmission housing and could easily be inhaled during operations such as changing a clutch disc or brake shoes. See: Restoring classic and vintage cars containing asbestos parts.
 

Price Gouging in Bengal

Jun 3, 2020

In the aftermath of Cyclone Amphan and with the Covid-19 pandemic still raging in the Indian state of West Bengal: “Bamboo that used to cost Rs150 is now Rs500. Each 8×3 asbestos sheet cost Rs530 earlier but is selling for Rs650.” Materials needed to repair damage caused by the storm are in short supply; with no help from local, regional or national authorities, families are trying to provide shelter using whatever supplies are available including old saris, plastic sheeting and hazardous asbestos-cement roofing. See: Covid, cyclone, lockdown: All lines blur in Sundarbans.
 

Update: Global Asbestosis Data

Jun 1, 2020

Data and conclusions in a study supported by grants from the National Natural Science Foundation of China reinforced opinions in a blog entitled China’s Rejection of Asbestos: Official regarding growing support of the Chinese government for a transition to asbestos-free technology. The authors of the paper stated: “Furthermore, the most pronounced increases in ASIR [age-standardised incidence rate] of asbestosis were detected in high-income North America and Australasia. These findings indicate that efforts to change the asbestos regulation policy are urgently needed.” See: Increasing incidence of asbestosis worldwide, 1990–2017: results from the Global Burden of Disease study 2017.
 

National Asbestos Action

Jun 1, 2020

Portugal’s Ministry of Finance announced that a list of all government buildings, including schools, which contain asbestos would be released by the end of June 2020. Although the Assembly of Portugal had endorsed plans for a phased nationwide asbestos remediation effort, work had been delayed by the coronavirus pandemic. Campaigners for the group SOS Amianto criticized the government’s plans – which are estimated to cost €422m – for their lack of mandatory “risk assessments” to identify the level of hazard posed by the presence of asbestos products at particular sites. See: Amianto: 9 anos depois, governo divulga lista das escolas [Asbestos: 9 years later, government releases list of schools].
 

Another type of asbestos-free brakes!

Jun 1, 2020

Environmentally friendly motorcycle brake pads using coffee grinds have been pioneered by an entrepreneur in Vietnam: Mr. Nguyen Thai Son – Director of Nam Khanh Brake Joint Stock Company. “Using this material not only recycles coffee grounds, but also helps create a unique aroma for each product,” he said. The Institute of Building Materials (Ministry of Construction) has certified this product asbestos-free. The company plans to promote sales in Vietnam and abroad targeting markets in Thailand and Cambodia. See: á phanh xe được làm từ ... bã cà phê [Brake pads made from ... coffee grounds].
 

Asbestos: New Restrictions

Jun 1, 2020

Last week, regulations were tightened in Japan in the Revised Air Pollution Control Act to prevent the liberation of asbestos during demolition work on contaminated buildings. The new provisions mandated the commissioning and submission of asbestos audits to local authorities before work on asbestos-containing structures was begun; these regulations, which will be implemented by 2022, could increase the number of dismantling projects supervised by the Ministry of Environment from 16,000 to 320,000 per year. See: アスベスト飛散防止徹底へ 改正大気汚染防止法が成立 [Thorough prevention of asbestos scattering as Revised Air Pollution Control Law enacted].
 

Asbestos Remediation in Mato Grosso

Jun 1, 2020

On May 29, 2020 work on replacing a 40-year old network of asbestos-containing water pipes was recommenced in a neighborhood in Cuiabá, the capital city of the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso, as part of a program to improve the quality of water distributed by the public utility company; the work had been suspended because of the State’s Covid-19 quarantine. The deteriorating asbestos pipes are being removed with safer pipes installed for the transport of water to the localities affected. See: Rede de amianto será substituída na Rua Feliciano Galdino a partir de amanhã [Asbestos network will be replaced on Rua Feliciano Galdino from tomorrow].
 

Legal Victory for Asbestos Victim

May 30, 2020

The Superior Court of Justice of Andalusia awarded compensation of €222,765 – including moral damages – to the family of a doctor who had worked for 24 years for the Spanish asbestos giant Uralita; as a result of asbestos exposure at the company’s factory in Seville, the doctor contracted the fatal asbestos cancer mesothelioma. The company argued that as a medical professional, the doctor should have taken preventative measures to protect himself from the hazards posed by working at the Uralita facility. See: Indemnizan con 222.765€ a los herederos del médico de empresa de Uralita fallecido de mesothelioma [Compensation for heirs of the Uralita company doctor who died of mesothelioma with €222,765].
 

UK Mesothelioma Audit

May 30, 2020

On May 28, 2020, the fourth UK National Mesothelioma Audit was published by the Royal College of Physicians; the research and publication of this work was commissioned and funded by Mesothelioma UK. Based on data sourced from ~7,000 mesothelioma patients in England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Guernsey, the authors noted: “improvements in survival, clinical nurse specialist assessment, pathologic subtyping and multidisciplinary team (MDT) discussion, with particular note of a doubling of referrals to the national peritoneal mesothelioma MDT since the last report published in 2018.” See: National Mesothelioma Audit report 2020.
 

Asbestos at the Power Station

May 30, 2020

On May 25, 2020, eight chimneys at the Hazelwood power station in Victoria, Australia were demolished; each one contained 50 kilograms of asbestos. The facility which was built in the 1960s was sited in the town of Morwell in the LaTrobe Valley; it was closed in March, 2017. According to a spokesman for Engie – the company which owned the power station: “There is absolutely no risk that asbestos will be anywhere other than on the ground, and ultimately remediated on site and stored in an approved cell.” See: Hazelwood power station's eight chimneys demolished in live stream viewed by thousands.
 

Victims’ Precedent in Malta

May 30, 2020

On March 27, 2020, Malta’s Constitutional Court delivered a judgement on a case brought by the family of a shipyard worker who had, as a result of occupational asbestos exposure over 28 years, died of cancer on April 20, 2018. Key segments of the ruling could have implications for future cases not least of which was the finding that cases in which moral damages were being sought for contractual breaches could be heard under ordinary civil law in ordinary courts and not exclusively in constitutional courts. See: The Constitutional Court and monetary compensation.
 

Asbestos Fly-Tipping in Korea

May 30, 2020

On May 27, 2020, a 25-ton dump truck was spotted by scores of residents in the forested outskirts of Jinju, a city in the South Gyeongsang Province of South Korea. Suspicions over the activities of the truck’s operators were reported to the police and as a result three men were arrested and charged under the Industrial Waste Management Act with the illegal disposal of 100 tonnes of asbestos-containing industrial waste. The truck had counterfeit markings on it identifying it as belonging to a government agency. The Jinju city cleaning department was commissioned to remove the toxic debris and remediate the area. See: 산업폐기물 1급 발암물질 '석면' 몰래 버리다 주민신고로 덜미 [Industrial waste, first-class carcinogen, ‘asbestos’].
 

Yet More Asbestos Misinformation!

May 25, 2020

Another Russian article about the decision to withdraw Johnson & Johnson’s iconic baby powder from sale in the US and Canada was used to reassert asbestos industry propaganda regarding the “harmless” nature of chrysotile (white) asbestos. The author pointed out that: “chrysotile asbestos poses the least danger to people… [and] has been successfully used for decades and continues to be used in Russia, the CIS countries, Latin America and Southeast Asia. There is no ban on the use of chrysotile asbestos even in the USA.” See: Культивируемый в США страх перед асбестом позволил развернуть кампанию против Johnson&Johnson [US-cultivated fear of asbestos boosts campaign against Johnson & Johnson].
 

Victory in Asbestos Case

May 26, 2020

On May 21, 2020, in a unanimous decision, the California Supreme Court overturned a 2018 Appeals Court ruling and reinstated the 2017 verdict of an Alameda County jury which had awarded Frank C. Hart $1.6 million for occupational asbestos exposure which resulted in his contracting the asbestos cancer mesothelioma. At the heart of the Supreme Court’s verdict was its acceptance of the validity of testimony relating to product identification: e.g. that evidence given by a foreman remembering the logo of Keenan Properties on paperwork was sufficient to establish the company’s culpability. See: State high court reinstates verdict against company for fatal cancer caused by asbestos.
 

Toxic Talc

May 26, 2020

On May 22, 2020, in the aftermath of news that Johnson & Johnson would no longer sell its iconic baby powder in the US and Canada, the Penang Consumers Association called on the Malaysian Ministry of Health to ban talcum powder and products based on talc powder. To avoid the hazard posed by exposure to talcum powder contaminated with asbestos, the association advised consumers to use products containing corn starch or white rice powder for personal hygiene and recommended that ointment not talcum powder be used to avoid nappy rashes in babies. See: 槟消协促政府禁含滑石粉产品 [Penang Consumer Association urges the government to ban products containing talc].
 

Asbestos Exposure at the Bakery

May 26, 2020

On May 20, 2020, a Coroner’s Court in Oxford ruled that the death in February 2020 of 61-year old Kevin Manley from epithelioid mesothelioma had been caused by exposure to asbestos whilst working for the Tip Top company in the 1970s. During his employment, the deceased had used heat-proof asbestos safety gloves whilst working with an industrial oven; Mr. Manley had been reassured by his manager that although the gloves were made from asbestos, they were not dangerous “because the substance was in cloth form.” The Coroner concluded that the cause of Mr Manley’s death was industrial disease. See: Banbury ‘Tip Top’ Bakery worker died after asbestos poisoning from gloves.
 

Asbestos SOS

May 26, 2020

This week, Portugal’s Parliament will be discussing plans to reinvigorate an economy decimated by Covid-19. António Costa, Secretary General of the Socialist Party, will call on the Government to address the country’s asbestos legacy as part of a coordinated program to reduce bureaucracy, create jobs and generate investment. “Now that schools are closed,” Costa told journalists, “it is also now or never that we have to eliminate asbestos from schools. We have to launch a major operation to eliminate asbestos from schools.” See: “Simplex SOS” põe fim ao amianto nas escolas [“Simplex SOS” put an end to asbestos in schools].
 

Toxic Talc Withdrawn

May 21, 2020

Johnson & Johnson (J&J) has announced that its iconic but contentious baby powder will be withdrawn from sale in the US and Canada. Although a company statement asserted that this action was taken “as part of a portfolio assessment related to Covid-19,” it is more likely that the ~20,000 pending lawsuits over cancers caused by exposure to J&J’s asbestos-contaminated baby powder were paramount in the decision despite the company’s continuing assertions that: “Decades of scientific studies by medical experts around the world support the safety of our product.” See: Johnson & Johnson to stop selling baby powder in US and Canada.
 

Asbestos Industry Offensive

May 21, 2020

Using news that Johnson & Johnson is withdrawing its toxic baby powder from sale in the US and Canada as a hook, a Russian article refloated industry propaganda defending chrysotile (white) asbestos; Russia is the world’s largest supplier of chrysotile fiber and Russian asbestos lobbyists continue to mount an aggressive global campaign promoting sales even in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic. Propaganda in this article included statements such as: “According to available scientific studies, chrysotile asbestos is safe for controlled use” and “chrysotile is not dangerous to human health.” See: Американский онколог поставил под сомнение правомерность иска к Johnson&Johnson [American oncologist questioned the validity of the lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson].
 

Asbestos in Schools

May 21, 2020

A December 2019 resolution by the Parliament of Portugal, which recommended that the Portuguese Government “proceed with the urgent elaboration of a plan for the removal of all asbestos material from public schools,” was published on May 19, 2020 in the Diário da República, the official gazette of the Government of Portugal. The Parliamentary resolution urged that detailed plans and budgets be drawn up for removing asbestos from schools. See: Parlamento pede a Governo plano para retirada de amianto das escolas [Parliament asks Government for plan to remove asbestos from schools].
 

Legal Victory in Spain!

May 21, 2020

A Basque Country court has countermanded a ruling by the National Institute of Social Security (INSS) which had refused a pension to a worker disabled by the cancer mesothelioma which he contracted as a result of occupational exposure to asbestos at former employers: Aceros de Llodio and Sidenor de Basauri, Spanish steel-making companies. Social Court 2 of Vitoria-Gasteiz awarded the claimant the right to a full pension due to his permanent and total disability. Commenting on the outcome, a local asbestos victims’ group denounced the INSS’s refusal to recognize the rights of asbestos victims. See: Denuncian la “injusta” actitud del INSS de “ocultar” los cánceres del Amianto [Denouncement of “unfair” attitude of the INSS to “hide” asbestos cancers].