News Item Archive

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Displaying first 25 items in reverse date order (default)
 

British Asbestos Newsletter

May 29, 2017

The Spring 2017 issue of the British Asbestos Newsletter is available online. The lead article entitled Asbestos Politics 2017 is both informative and timely as it highlights policies of political parties regarding the asbestos contamination of schools. While the Labour Party promises to resolve this health hazard, cuts by the Conservative Government to council budgets in September 2017 will ensure that dangerous conditions prevail for years to come. Documents issued by relevant authorities including the Health and Safety Executive, the National Audit Office, the Education Funding Agency and the Local Government Association are discussed. See: Issue 103, British Asbestos Newsletter.
 

Exposé: New South Wales

May 29, 2017

The illegal dumping of toxic waste in New South Wales has become endemic; when criminals are punished for repeatedly flouting environmental laws, fines handed out are minimal – they are described by the removalists’ association as “a joke” – and orders for remediation work unenforceable according to a two-part exposé published on May 28 and 29. The example is cited of the 33,000 tonnes of asbestos-riddled waste dumped on Sydney’s “Misty Mountain” 16 years ago; the toxic site continues to endanger the health of local people. The names and photographs of removalists whose criminal practices are long-standing and well-known are included in the article. See: Toxic State – The Asbestos Game.
 

Asbestos Alert

May 25, 2017

A new visual resource has been developed by BaliFokus, a member of the Indonesian Ban Asbestos Network (INABAN), to raise awareness of the hazard posed to children by the use of asbestos-cement roofing and lead paint at schools. BaliFokus staff in Bali and in Jakarta work closely with partnering organizations in the government and in civil society to educate professionals on the hazardous nature of these products, reach out to at-risk workers and progress the national dialogue on toxic substances. See: Video Stop Penggunaan Cat Bertimbal dan Atap Asbes di Sekolah [Video: Stop the use of asbestos and lead at schools].
 

Asbestos Documentary

May 25, 2017

A 70-minute documentary, entitled Do Not Breath – Contains Asbestos, exposing Brazil’s asbestos disaster will be screened at the Ecofalante Environmental Film Festival on June 2, 2017 in São Paulo. The film features conclusive proof revealing dangerous occupational practices involving asbestos-containing materials and filmed segments showing industry leaders asserting that the use of asbestos in Brazil is safe. The damage to workers is substantiated through first person interviews with asbestos disease sufferers, family members, scientists and medical experts. See: Não Respire – Contém Amianto (Trailer em português) [Do Not Breath – Contains Asbestos (Trailer in Portuguese)]. For Facebook users see also: Trailer in English.
 

Mesothelioma: Personalized Care

May 24, 2017

Researchers from the University of Ljubljana and the Institute of Oncology have published findings of a Slovenian study examining the differing responses of individual malignant mesothelioma patients to chemotherapy treatment with gemcitabine/cisplatin or pemetrexed/cisplatin. An algorithm was developed for recommending individual treatment protocols based on genotyping of 189 patients which could, by enabling the choice of the most effective chemotherapy for 85.5% of mesothelioma patients, lead to improved treatment outcome. See: Clinical-pharmacogenetic models for personalized cancer treatment: application to malignant mesothelioma.
 

Asbestos Protest!

May 23, 2017

A public rally is being held today (Tuesday May 23, 2017), outside the Palace of Fuensalida, the headquarters of the Government of Castile-La Mancha. Members of a local campaign – “My neighborhood without asbestos” – are demanding regional action to resolve long-standing and extensive asbestos contamination of the Polygon area of Toledo. The group has estimated that there is more than 90,000 tons of asbestos throughout the community, most of which came from the former Ibertubo asbestos factory. See: El llamamiento de los vecinos para la retirada “inmediata” del Amianto del barrio del Polígono [Local people demand the “immediate” removal of asbestos in the Polygon neighborhood of Toledo].
 

Threat to Asbestos Ban

May 23, 2017

The Regulatory Accountability Act, dubbed the “License to Kill Bill” which passed in the House of Representatives is now being considered by the US. Senate. Environmental and scientific experts are worried that the legislation could make regulation of polluting industries more difficult and have dire consequences for the health and safety of American citizens. If the act became law, the implementation of an EPA asbestos ban would face enormous obstacles and additional requirements. Of course, that would suit President Trump who said in his book The Art of the Comeback that asbestos had “got a bad rap.” See: The "License to Kill" Bill Is As Terrifying As It Sounds.
 

Asbestos Class Action

May 23, 2017

Fifteen claimants have brought an asbestos lawsuit in the Yamaguchi district court for hazardous occupational exposures experienced between 1954 and 2011 at factories belonging to the Ube Board Company (now in liquidation) in Ube City, Osaka City and Fuji City, Japan. Some of the plaintiffs are suffering from asbestos-related diseases including lung cancer and mesothelioma; others have already died from their asbestos injuries. The lawsuit is claiming millions of yen in damages from the Japanese State and the company, which was a building materials manufacturer. See: アスベスト被害で国を提訴 [Suing the State for Asbestos Injuries].
 

Importing Death

May 22, 2017

Laos now ranks amongst the world’s major importers of asbestos; it has 16 asbestos processing factories, 3 of which are in the province of Luang Prabang, a world heritage city of golden temples. According to Phillip Hazleton, from Australia’s Union Aid Abroad - APHEDA: “In 2013 Laos imported 8000 tonnes of chrysotile but the figure may be closer to 12,000 tonnes. In 2010 it was only 3000 tonnes of raw asbestos. Laos is not known for its scrupulous import records. But what is clear is that while India and China may be greater net importers, Laos imports more per capita than anywhere else.” See: Asbestos: Out of sight but not out of mind in Asia.
 

Asbestos Class Action

May 22, 2017

On May 20, 2017, asbestos victims’ groups represented by ABREA and Brazil’s main national trade union center CUT (the Central Única dos Trabalhadores/ Unified Workers' Central Federation), agreed to instigate a public civil action lawsuit in Brazil on behalf of former employees of Brasilit/Saint-Gobain for their occupational asbestos exposures in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. Similar actions are already ongoing against Brazil’s asbestos giant Eternit S.A. in São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Paraná. The use of asbestos remains legal in Brazil under federal legislation; however, several states and cities have taken unilateral action and banned asbestos.
 

Mass Rally in Tokyo

May 20, 2017

On Friday, May 19, 2017 three thousand construction workers held a mass outdoor meeting in Tokyo to mark the ninth anniversary of the first asbestos class action by construction workers in Japan. To date, there have been six judgments by district courts, five of which held the government responsible and one of which acknowledged the responsibility of the manufacturers of construction materials. The first high court judgment will be handed down in Autumn 2017. In the photograph below, the items held up – traditional paper fans called “uchiwa” – have the Japanese words for “apologize, compensate and eliminate” emblazoned across them. See: Picture of May 19, 2017 Tokyo demonstration.
 

Ban Asbestos Meeting

May19, 2017

Ban asbestos campaigners from 48 cities and towns took part in a conference in São Paulo this week. Even though the 2007 São Paulo state law 12,684 prohibits asbestos use, contaminated products from other states are still available. The objective of the meeting was to raise awareness of the public health hazard posed by asbestos and consider means by which workers and communities might be better protected from toxic exposures. Officials representing the Brazilian Association of the Asbestos-Exposed, President Eliezer João de Souza and advisor Fernanda Giannasi, addressed the meeting. See: Encontro regional combate o Amianto [Regional meeting against asbestos].
 

Death of Environment Minister

May 18, 2017

India’s Environment Minister Anil Madhav Dave died in Delhi today (May 18) from lung cancer. In 2016, the Minister had expressed support for the phasing out of asbestos use in India, telling a journalist from the Times of India that: “Since the use of asbestos is affecting human health, its use should gradually be minimised and eventually end. As far as I know, its use is declining. But it must end” (see: Will look for alternatives to carcinogenic asbestos: Environment Minister). India remains the world’s biggest asbestos importer and toxic exposures are routine occurrences for millions of workers and members of the public. See: Union Environment Minister Anil Madhav Dave dies of lung cancer.
 

Asbestos: An Imminent Hazard

May 18, 2017

Investigations by the Japanese Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism have revealed that the presence of asbestos-containing products in small scale premises remains a potent health hazard to workers and members of the public. A report issued on May 17, 2017 found that up to 80,000 small private buildings out of a total of 1.3 million were contaminated, with up to 30,000 having failed to take appropriate measures to neutralize the hazard as a result of which highly hazardous products such as sprayed asbestos remain in place. See: Up to 82,000 small buildings estimated to still use asbestos: gov't survey.
 

Who is at risk?

May 18, 2017

A commentary about asbestos in Colombia is framed within a global context that highlights efforts made to prevent toxic exposures through banning and/or regulating its use. Three hundred and twenty cases of the asbestos cancer mesothelioma have been diagnosed by Julio César Granada, a chest surgeon at the Santa Fe Foundation; amongst them were: a 50-year old sportsman who had helped lay asbestos on a playing field when he was a child, Ana Cecilia Niño, who had lived near an Eternit asbestos tile factory, and Rafael Alfonso Mayorga Donoso, who worked in the tile factory. See: Asbesto: una sustancia mortal mas cercana de lo que se cree [Asbestos: a deadly substance closer than thought].
 

No Asbestos Dumps Here!

May 18, 2017

A judgment handed down by Italy’s Council of State upheld local and environmental objections to the construction by the Mosole Group of asbestos landfills in northern Italy, citing EU regulations. The proposal under consideration included the transfer of 460,000 cubic meters of asbestos between two landfills, to be transported by about 45,000 trucks over a period of ten years beginning in 2018. The dumping of over 80,000 cubic meters of asbestos-containing waste in the region between 2005 and 2006, has been deemed an illegal action by the Council of State. See: Paese, stop alla discarica di Amianto [Region stops asbestos dumping].
 

Asbestos Exposé

May 18, 2017

A TV program shown last week highlighted the repercussions of asbestos exposures in the Catalan municipality of Cerdanyola, considered to be Spain’s asbestos ground zero. For decades, this city was home to a building materials factory operated by Uralita; as a result of exposures at the plant and in the local community, there is a high incidence of asbestos cancers and disease in this area. The ubiquity of asbestos contamination was also discussed with examples shown of toxic products in homes, schools, industrial premises and landfills. See: Falsificaciones y toneladas de amianto repartidas por España, ‘En el punto de mira’ [Falsifications and tons of asbestos distributed in Spain ‘In the Spotlight’].
 

Asbestos: No thanks!

May 17, 2017

The increasing unpopularity of asbestos products in Brazil has seen the domestic market for asbestos goods shrink. This fall in demand has impacted negatively on the economy of Minaçu, home to Brazil’s only operational asbestos mine. According to new data, Minaçu lost Reais$10m (US$3.3m) in revenue in two years because of the downturn in the asbestos market. Even though the federal policy allows the use of asbestos, consumers are turning away from these products and many companies have introduced asbestos-free alternatives. See: Amianto: Arrecadação diminui R$ 10 milhões e causa apreensão em Minaçu [Fall of R$10m in revenue devastates Minaçu budget].
 

Asbestos: Election Pledge

May 17, 2017

The Labour Party manifesto published today (May 17, 2017) calls for the “phased removal of asbestos from existing schools” as part of plans to reinvigorate the educational infrastructure and to invest in new school buildings and improve older ones, thereby reversing the “crippling” underfunding which has prevailed under years of Conservative Government rule. The phased removal of asbestos from schools was designated a priority action by the All Party Parliamentary Asbestos Sub-Group, the Trades Union Congress and campaigning groups, trade unions and other stakeholders. See: Labour Party Manifesto 2017.
 

Update: Asbestos in Schools

May 16, 2017

On May 16, 2017 it was revealed during a Parliamentary meeting that a pledge by the Australian State of Victoria to remove asbestos from all schools was “farcical.” Minister James Merlino, Deputy Premier of Victoria, told the enquiry that removal efforts would be prioritised with work being undertaken on situations where asbestos contamination “posed a medium and high risk to students and staff.” “We are,” he said “not going to be removing [toxic material from] 30,000 buildings to address asbestos that may be in the foundations, or that may be in the roof cavity.” See: Government abandons ambitious pledge to make schools ‘asbestos free’.
 

Joining Forces: Spain and Italy

May 16, 2017

Last week, a delegation from Cerdanyola del Valles (Barcelona), where the operations of the Uralita asbestos-cement factory exposed generations of workers and local people to deadly asbestos, were warmly received by Mayor Titti Palazzetti of Casale Monferrato and other dignitaries. Mayor Palazzetti told the visitors: “Casale and its story are unique … We have succeeded, thanks to the cohesion between associations, local and national institutions and citizens, to transform our pain into engagement and struggle.” See: Amianto: a Casale Monferrato dalla Spagna per confronto esperienze [Asbestos: the experiences in Casale Monferrato and Spain].
 

Award for Naval Workers

May 16, 2017

On May 11, 2017, the French Ministry of Defence was condemned by an administrative court in Caen and ordered to pay a total of €976,000 to 122 former workers of the Shipbuilding Directorate (DCN), since 2007 known as DCNS. Each of the claimants, all of whom were exposed to asbestos at the Cherbourg site where work was done on French nuclear submarines, is to receive €8,000 for “the prejudice of anxiety … [and] fear of discovering suddenly that they are suffering from a serious pathology.” A criminal procedure is under way in this case. See: Amiante: l'Etat doit payer 976.000 euros à 122 ex-salariés de DCN [Asbestos: the State must pay 976,000 euros to 122 former employees of DCN].
 

Pakistan: Asbestos Ban

May 15, 2017

The processes and drawbacks relating to the commercial exploitation of asbestos in Pakistan are discussed in this commentary which concludes with a reminder that the Pakistan National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Human Resource Development has recommended a complete ban on the import and use of asbestos in 22 industries due to the adverse effects of human exposures to asbestos. The author notes that: “unsafe mining methods and handling of asbestos products poses serious threat to human health and environment.” See: Asbestos-caused diseases spreading.
 

Mesothelioma Protocol

May 15, 2017

Key government departments and agencies in Brazil have opened a public consultation regarding the draft of “Diagnostic Guidelines for Pleura Malignant Mesothelioma” to gather valuable feedback from stakeholders including patients. A survey is being conducted with structured clinical questions and other measures for collecting informed views and input. It is hoped that the publication of the final document will raise medical awareness of mesothelioma and thereby help more accurate diagnoses be made. There is currently a significant under-diagnosis of pleural mesothelioma in Brazil. See: Proposta de elaboracao das diretrizes diagnosticas de mesothelioma de maligno de pleura [Proposal for Diagnostic Guidelines for Pleura Malignant Mesothelioma].
 

Update: Asbestos Mine

May 15, 2017

Zimbabwe’s Minister for Mines and Mining Development, Walter Chidakwa, has announced that a government injection of $15 million will be made to the Shabanie Mashaba (Chrysotile Asbestos) Mines (SMM) to allow work to commence on rehabilitating the mine so that production of raw chrysotile asbestos fiber, which ceased in 2008, can recommence. Previous attempts to breathe life into this moribund mine have floundered over lack of interest from foreign investors. It is unlikely this attempt will succeed as the sums mentioned seem quite small in comparison to the work which will be needed. See: Govt looks to inject $15m to revive SMM.