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Another Asbestos Murder Trial!

Jun 26, 2019

On June 25, 2019, an appeal made on May 31, 2019 on behalf of defendant Stephan Schmidheiny was rejected by the Second Court of Assizes of Naples. Schmidheiny was accused of the voluntary murder of 8 people who died from exposure to his company’s asbestos; 6 of them were employees of the Eternit plant in Bagnoli and 2 were family members. The legal proceedings in Naples have now officially begun before Judge Alfonso Barbarano. The next hearing will be on September 27, 2019 and will feature the testimony of two prosecution engineers. See: Amianto, la Corte di Assise respinge la richiesta di proscioglimento per l'ex Ad Eternit [Asbestos, the Court of Auditors rejects the request for acquittal for the former Eternit CEO].
 

Forest Retreat for Asbestos Victims

Jun 26, 2019

A “healing camp” was held on June 25 & 26, 2019 in South Chungcheong Province in the west of South Korea for 70 Korean victims of asbestos-related diseases and family members. The event, which was run by the Asian Environmental Health Center of Soonchunhyang University, took place in a forest resort. Participants were able to relax in a soothing environment, visit local tourist attractions and develop new techniques for managing their illnesses. Another camp will be held later in the year for asbestos victims from other parts of South Korea. See: 순천향대 천안병원, 충남도 석면피해자 힐링캠프 개최 [Soonchunhyang University Cheonan Hospital, Chungnam Asbestos victims’ healing camp held].
 

Asbestos and Lung Cancer

Jun 26, 2019

A medical commentary on a Vietnam website stated that a third of all cancer deaths in the country were due to lung cancer; while the incidence of male lung cancer mortality was decreasing, the incidence for females was increasing. The symptoms, types and available treatments for different forms of lung cancer were discussed and the role of smoking and passive smoking in the causation of the disease were examined. The author wrote that: “Exposure to asbestos also increases the risk of lung cancer, especially among smokers (3 times higher risk than just smoking).” See: Ung thư phổi-Nguy cơ mắc bệnh cao [Lung cancer - High risk of disease].
 

Costs Rise as Supplier Numbers Shrink

Jun 25, 2019

A circular dated June 15, 2019 from Eastwell Industries Ltd. in Maharashtra, India to its customers informed them there would be a 10% increase in prices of Asbestos Textile and Friction products because of the shutdown of asbestos mining in Canada, Brazil and Zimbabwe and the total reliance on Russian asbestos exports which, as a result of the shrinking number of asbestos producers and escalation of dollar exchange rates, have risen in price by 10-35%. Under the company’s name at the top of the circular it notes that it produces both asbestos and asbestos-free insulation and mechanical packings. Perhaps the price increase of the asbestos products will prove a financial incentive to phase out asbestos use in India? See: Letter from Eastwell Industries (P) Ltd.
 

Enforcing City’s Asbestos Ban

Jun 25, 2019

Pursuant to Municipal Law No. 8,806 / 2017 prohibiting asbestos and asbestos-containing products in the Brazilian city of Campos dos Goytacaza, Rio de Janeiro State, officers have been carrying out spot inspections at retail outlets to ensure that outlawed building products were not being sold. To date, only one shop out of the 20 inspected was found to be contravening the asbestos prohibitions. The supplier was informed that the asbestos tiles on sale were illegal and they were promptly discarded. See: Procon fiscaliza depósitos de construção para coibir venda de amianto em Campos [Procon supervises construction depots to curb the sale of asbestos in Campos].
 

National Asbestos Initiative

Jun 25, 2019

A working group has been coalesced by the Italian Government to bring the country’s asbestos laws under the supervision of a single entity, working under the Ministry of Environment. The members of the asbestos commission include: retired Public Prosecutor Raffaele Guariniello, Ezio Bonanni, Giampiero Cardillo and Franco Maroni of the Casale Monferrato asbestos victims’ group (AFeVA); the members of a technical committee which was also created include Professor of Epidemiology Pietro Comba, industrial hygienist Stefano Silvestri and Giordano Bruno, Supreme Court Justice. See: Decreto Ministeriale [Ministerial Decree].
 

Confronting the Asbestos Hazard

Jun 25, 2019

A discussion on Spain’s asbestos legacy by Professor Rubio from Barcelona University recapped the chemical properties, fiber types and multiple uses. Explaining the downsides to asbestos, which remains throughout the national infrastructure, he cited the policies of international agencies favoring banning asbestos due to the health hazards posed by exposures and noted that the main tool to protect populations from asbestos-related diseases is the “total prohibition of use, the strict control of exposures (in maintenance and remediation work) and the medical control of at-risk people.” See: Debemos luchar contra la epidemia mortal del Amianto [We must fight against deadly asbestos epidemic].
 

Asbestos in the Navy

Jun 24, 2019

The Administrative Court of Rennes (Ille-et-Vilaine) handed down a verdict on June 21, 2019 awarding damages against the French State of between €3,000-10,000 to 50 former sailors based in the north of the country for “asbestos anxiety” caused by exposures to asbestos experienced during military service between 1950 and 2000. The Court found that the Ministry of the Armed Forces had failed to fulfil its obligations as an employer to take adequate measures to protect the health and safety of these workers. See: Exposition à l'amiante: des militaires de la Marine obtiennent gain de cause face à l'Etat [Exposure to asbestos: Sailors win case against the state].
 

Asbestos in the Environment

Jun 24, 2019

The UN Environment Agency issued an alert on June 21, 2019 warning of the human health hazard posed by asbestos in the natural environment, citing the US example of Swift Creek in Washington State; research by the Environmental Protection Agency has documented levels of asbestos in some dried samples from the Creek containing up to 43% asbestos. The alert also highlighted the potential threat posed by airborne and waterborne asbestos fibers and urged that measures to minimize toxic exposures be implemented. See: Asbestos in the natural environment: how safe are we?
 

Asbestos Scandal

Jun 24, 2019

A column by medical expert Dr. Liang Xiansun was published this week in Hong Kong's first free health newspaper; the text highlighted the hazard posed by human exposures to asbestos citing statistics and advice from the World Health Organization about the ubiquity and consequences of the unregulated and widespread use of asbestos both in the past and currently. The author pointed out that experts are concerned about future epidemics of asbestos-related diseases in countries which are still producing or using asbestos such as Russia, China and India. See: 石棉危機 [Asbestos Crisis].
 

Australia’s Asbestos Legacy: Update

Jun 24, 2019

An article published on June 20 in an online Australian manufacturing and industrial equipment magazine reviewed the progress in the 15 years since a national asbestos ban was implemented and highlighted concerns expressed by the Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency (ASEA) regarding the hazards posed by exposures to all types of asbestos. Considering the widespread and unregulated use of asbestos-containing products over decades, homes as well workplaces remained potential sources of exposure. The article restated the ASEA’s opinion that “the only way to properly manage the risk of asbestos is to remove it from the environment (a task that can only be carried out by licensed asbestos removalists).” See: Asbestos Alarm.
 

Legal Victory: Asbestos & Lung Cancer

Jun 24, 2019

On June 10, 2019, a court in Pamplona, Spain issued a victim’s verdict for the wife and children of a deceased worker (AGP) who had been occupationally exposed to asbestos by Industrias del Hogar SA (which became Orbaiceta SA and is now BSH Electrodomésticos España, SA). From 1972, AGP had handled asbestos, used in the manufacture of stoves, on a daily basis as a result of which he contracted lung cancer and became permanently disabled. Despite his smoking history, the Court awarded the full amount of compensation against the company for its negligence. See: Primera condena a una empresa navarra por el ‘mal del amianto’ [First conviction of a Navarre company for the ‘asbestos disease’].
 

Asbestos at Court

Jun 24, 2019

According to a new article, French Guiana’s Department of Justice is still in turmoil months after asbestos contamination was discovered to have been widespread throughout the judicial infrastructure. The capital’s High Court has now been closed for two months and officials have had to make arrangements so that hearings could be held and judgments handed down by the High Court as well as the Court of Appeal and the District Court. The situation is unlikely to be resolved any time soon. See: Amiante: ministère de la Justice recherche nouveaux locaux désespérément! [Asbestos: Department of Justice search for new premises desperately!]
 

Raising Awareness

Jun 19, 2019

At a workshop in Vientiane, Laos on June 18, 2019, training sessions and discussions took place at The Awareness Raising Workshop on the Impact of Asbestos and Asbestos-Related Diseases. The event was an initiative of Australia’s Union Aid Abroad (APHEDA) – in particular the Lao APHEDA team – and the World Health Organization, the Lao Federation of Trade Unions, the Lao Ban Asbestos Network (LAOBAN), and the Lao Ministry of Health and Ministry of Labour (see: picture from event). On June 19, asbestos awareness sessions were held in the city for student nurses and dentists.
 

Award for Mesothelioma Researcher

Jun 19, 2019

On June 14, 2019, Professor Gary Lee was named Cancer Council Western Australia (WA) 2019 Cancer Researcher of the Year for his research into pleural effusion, a build-up of fluid in the chest which affects 8,000+ cancer patients a year in Australia including many with mesothelioma, a fatal cancer of the lining of the lung caused by asbestos exposure. Ashley Reid, Cancer Council WA CEO, said Professor Lee’s trials “have brought major advancements in pleural medicine and are contributing to greatly improved outcomes for patients.” See: Pleural medicine leader named WA Cancer Researcher of the Year.
 

Asbestos Public Health Risk

Jun 19, 2019

An article uploaded to the web on May 31, 2019 documented evidence accumulated by researchers in Thailand who identified chrysotile asbestos bodies (AB) in autopsy lung tissue from the general population. The levels found were, the scientists said, consistent with non-occupational asbestos exposures: “AB was detected in 48.5% of individuals sampled from the Thai population with a concentration of 0.19-14.4 AB/g wet lung tissue. AB was identified in the lung of a 1.5 year-old infant showing the potential for exposure at an early age. No significant correlation between age, gender or occupation and the asbestos burden was obtained from this study.” See: Asbestos Bodies Burden in the Autopsy Lung Tissue from General Thai Population.
 

Toxic Talc Verdict

Jun 14, 2019

On June 12, 2019 a jury in Oakland, California awarded mesothelioma sufferer Patricia Schmitz $12 million against Johnson & Johnson (J&J) and Colgate-Palmolive for their negligence in causing the disease which she contracted through a lifetime’s use of Johnson & Johnson’s iconic baby powder and Colgate-Palmolive’s Cashmere Bouquet both of which contained asbestos fibers. J&J spokeswoman Kimberly Montagnino has said the company will appeal the verdict due to “serious procedural and evidentiary errors in the proceeding that required us to move for mistrial on multiple occasions…”; Colgate-Palmolive also plans to appeal. See: California Jury Awards $12M in Talcum Powder Case Against J&J, Colgate-Palmolive.
 

Asbestos Compensation Fund

Jun 14, 2019

The current session of the Basque Parliament is once again considering plans to create a compensation fund for asbestos victims; individuals who were exposed to asbestos at work or others who have contracted diseases due to asbestos exposures in Spain would be eligible to bring a claim. Compensation payments, which would be assessed within 6 months of application, would be funded by contributions from public and private sources, including asbestos-using businesses, mutual insurance companies and others as allocated in the State Budget. See: Vuelve al Congreso la ley que exige compensar a las víctimas del Amianto [Congress returns to the law that requires compensating the victims of asbestos].
 

Portugal’s Asbestos Legacy

Jun 14, 2019

According to official figures, 3,700 public buildings in Portugal are still contaminated with asbestos; a spokesperson for the Ministry of Environment said that remediation work will be carried out on 416 of these premises during 2019. A budget of €370m has been allocated for decontamination work on 1,600 buildings over the next four years. The situation in schools is far worse than officially recognized, according to an NGO, which said that the asbestos audits undertaken only identified asbestos-cement roofing and not asbestos in materials such as floors, panels or ceilings. See: Ainda há 3.700 edifícios com amianto em Portugal. Mas pode haver mais [There are still 3,700 asbestos buildings in Portugal. But there may be more].
 

Asbestos Hazard: Urban Renewal

Jun 14, 2019

The failure to remove asbestos from buildings due to be demolished in Turkey is, unfortunately, a common problem. A recent report about the construction of the Pendik National Garden in Istanbul on a derelict 250+ acre industrial site provided a good example of warnings unheeded. On January 17, 2019, Cafer Fidan, President of the Association of Asbestos and Hazardous Wastes, reported that the factory had been demolished without an asbestos inventory having been compiled and without the asbestos being removed. As a result, asbestos fibers were dispersed throughout the area destined to be the national garden and will remain in the soil as well as the environment. See: İstanbul'daki millet bahçesinde kanser tehlikesi! [The danger of cancer in the garden of the nation in Istanbul!].
 

Uplift of Victims’ Rights

Jun 14, 2019

In April 2019, as a result of an unanimous vote by the Belgian Parliament: lung and larynx cancers were added to the list of compensable asbestos-related diseases; the National Asbestos Fund increased compensation for mesothelioma victims by €10,000; and the families of environmental asbestos victims were to be paid funeral expenses of €1000. Welcoming this news, asbestos victims’ campaigners pointed out that the scandal of asbestos in the country’s schools remained ongoing and that it was unjust that the right to sue employers or polluters was relinquished as a result of accepting compensation from the Asbestos Fund. See: Une meilleure reconnaissance des victimes de l'amiante [Better recognition of asbestos victims].
 

Asbestos Ban in Colombia

Jun 12, 2019

After 12 years and numerous attempts, a bill that banned asbestos mining, processing, use and export by January 1, 2021 was unanimously approved by Colombia’s House of Representatives on June 11, 2019. This is the first time that a Congress of an asbestos-producing country has adopted prohibitions outlawing asbestos. By the end of this session of the Congress (June 20, 2019), the language of the House bill must be reconciled with that of the Senate legislation; both chambers then vote again to confirm the final law which is then sent to the President for signature. These steps are regarded as formalities. See: Congreso prohíbe el uso del asbesto en Colombia [Prohibition of Asbestos in Colombia].
 

Raising Asbestos Awareness

Jun 12, 2019

Efforts to protect Vietnamese citizens from toxic exposure to asbestos remain ongoing. Researchers have concluded that as 95% of asbestos-containing roofing sheets are currently being used by ethnic minority groups in mountainous areas, steps must be taken in these areas to raise awareness of the human health hazard posed by asbestos exposures and the existence of safer alternative products. Such an initiative has been launched by the IRECO Institute in collaboration with community groups in Hoa Binh and Son La Provinces in Northern Vietnam. See: Ngăn ngừa amiăng trắng vì sức khỏe cộng đồng [Preventing (exposure to) chrysotile for public health].
 

Asbestos on the Metro

Jun 12, 2019

As a result of complaints from trade unions in Argentina, several underground trains on the Buenos Aires (BA) Metro line B have now been withdrawn from service due to the presence of asbestos. Reacting to news of asbestos-related diseases amongst staff working for Madrid Metro, from where the contaminated BA trains were purchased in 2011 at a cost of €4 million, 160 BA Metro workers from line B – mainly mechanics from the Rancagua and Villa Urquiza workshops – are now undergoing health checks. See: Retiran formaciones de la línea B del subte porque se sospecha que tienen Amianto [Trains withdrawn from B line of subway because they are suspected of containing asbestos].
 

Asbestos Appeal

Jun 12, 2019

Saint Gobain, the French multinational which was ordered on June 3, 2019 to pay compensation of €20,000 each to 130 workers from its Thourotte factory who have “asbestos anxiety,” has announced it will appeal the decision of the Compiegne labor court. The company’s Secretary General Antoine Vignial claimed that the decision was “not consistent with the most recent jurisprudence of the Court of Cassation which clearly describes the need to verify the individual exposure of employees.” See: Salariés exposés à l'amiante: Saint-Gobain va faire appel de la condemnation [Employees exposed to asbestos: Saint-Gobain will appeal the conviction].
 

Supreme Court Asbestos Verdict

Jun 10, 2019

Last week it was announced that the Labor Section of Italy’s Supreme Court (Court of Cassation) had confirmed a 2014 Court of Appeal sentence condemning Rete Ferroviaria Italian SPA (RFI) – a state-owned holding company of the Italian railway – for exposures which caused the mesothelioma death of a mechanic who had repaired asbestos-insulated railway carriages. It has been estimated that 3,000 people have died from asbestos-related diseases due to exposures working for the State Railways or living near to RFI premises. See: Amianto, la Cassazione conferma la condanna a Rete Ferroviaria Italiana [Asbestos, the Supreme Court confirms the sentencing of Italian Railway Network].
 

Final Countdown

Jun 10, 2019

Unless the Colombian House of Representatives approves ban asbestos legislation in its fourth and final plenary debate this week, all the efforts made during this session to protect citizens from deadly asbestos exposures will count for nothing as the draft bill will expire at the end of this Congressional session (June 20). Unfortunately, politicians are divided, with some supporters urging a total ban on production, use and exports while others want an exemption which would allow asbestos mining to continue for export purposes only. See: Eliminación de asbesto: debate definitivo será esta semana [Asbestos removal: final debate will be this week].
 

Nantes Legal Victory

Jun 10, 2019

On June 6, 2019, the Administrative Court of Appeal of Nantes ordered the State to pay €9,000 in damages for “asbestos anxiety” suffered by an official of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs who had worked in the asbestos-contaminated Tripode building for 21 years. In all, 1,800 civil servants had worked in this building before it was demolished in 2005. In 2016, an epidemiological study was published which revealed that there was an excess of asbestos mortality amongst former Tripode workers. This decisions means that a further 170+ cases will proceed. See: Nantes. Amiante: la Justice valide le préjudice d’anxiété pour une fonctionnaire du Tripode [Nantes. Asbestos: Justice Validates Anxiety Damage for a Tripode Official].
 

Recall of Asbestos Cosmetics

Jun 10, 2019

On June 6, 2019, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) – the federal agency responsible for protecting public health by ensuring the safety of food, drugs, cosmetics etc. – reported that two US companies had agreed to withdraw from sale cosmetic products which had tested positive for the presence of asbestos. The recalled products, which had been sold by the companies: Beauty Plus Global and Claire’s Stores, Inc., included Contour Effects Palate 2 from the former and JoJo Siwa Makeup Set from the latter. See: FDA Advises Consumers to Stop Using Certain Cosmetic Products.
 

Asbestos Fines to Fund Clinic

Jun 7, 2019

On June 5, 2019 it was announced that the former Brazilian asbestos-processing company Brasilit had agreed to pay a fine set by the Public Labor Ministry at R$ 25m (~US$ 6.4m) in order to settle lawsuits in the 8th Labor Court of Campinas over illegal occupational asbestos exposures. The money will be used to build a healthcare clinic in Santa Casa de Capivari (São Paolo), where Brasilit workers can be treated for asbestos-related diseases for the next 30 years. The clinic will also provide medical care for community members. See: Empresa que usava amianto fecha acordo de R$ 25 milhões com MPT [Company that used asbestos closes agreement of R$ 25 million with MPT].
 

Occupational Asbestos Hazard

Jun 7, 2019

A Vietnamese e-magazine website featured an article on June 3, 2019 which highlighted the elevated risk of contracting asbestos-related cancers experienced by construction industry and automotive sector workers such as mechanics who were often exposed to asbestos at work. The battle to ban asbestos in Vietnam continues with civil society groups calling for the cessation of imports and use and pro-asbestos lobbyists from Vietnam and abroad opposing any and all changes to the status quo. See: 10 nghề nghiệp có nguy cơ bị ung thư cao [10 careers have a high risk of cancer].
 

Asbestos Anxiety Awards

Jun 7, 2019

On June 3, 2019, the Labour Court in Compiegne made history when it awarded compensation for “asbestos anxiety” to 130 workers from the Thourotte factory belonging to the French asbestos multinational Saint-Gobain in the first such case to be decided after an April 2019 Supreme Court ruling widened the category of those eligible to bring such claims to employees at high risk of contracting asbestos diseases due to workplace exposures and not just those from officially recognized worksites. The company was ordered to pay the former and current employees the full amount claimed: €20,000 each. See: Oise:“la grande victoire” des 130 amiantés de Saint-Gobain [Oise: “the great victory” of the 130 Saint-Gobain asbestos claimants].
 

Government U-Turn

Jun 6, 2019

In a major reversal of policy, the Dutch Senate overturned plans to outlaw asbestos-containing roofing by 2024 by a small majority on economic grounds. Proposals to delay the deadline until 2028 or 2030 and to provide more funding for remediation of asbestos corrugated sheet roofs, roof slates or boarding were rejected. Stientje van Veldhoven, State Secretary for Infrastructure and Water Management, regretted the results of the Senate’s vote. It has been estimated that there are around 80 million square meters of asbestos roofing in the Netherlands. See: Eerste Kamer dwarsboomt voorgenomen verbod op asbestdaken [First Chamber thwarts proposed prohibition of asbestos roofs].
 

Preventing Asbestos Exposure

Jun 6, 2019

The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) has demanded a review of the European Union’s energy performance of buildings directive in order to improve the level of protection for workers at-risk of asbestos exposures. The EESC is recommending that buildings have publicly accessible registers of harmful substances which could be consulted prior to the commencement of maintenance or renovation activities, and that the removal of harmful substances should be designated a “priority” in legislative proposals. See: EESC urges buildings directive review to prevent asbestos exposure.
 

Victory in Mesothelioma Case

Jun 6, 2019

A verdict handed down by the 25th Social Court of Barcelona ruled that Roca Sanitarios – a Spanish manufacturer of sanitary products – must pay €556,200+ to the family of a former worker who died from the asbestos cancer, mesothelioma. Although the company denied that the man, who had worked at its Gavà (Barcelona) factory during the 1970s and 1980s, had been occupationally exposed to asbestos, the Court confirmed that asbestos had been used by the company at least until 2004. See: Condenan a Roca Sanitarios a indemnizar con más de 550.000 euros a un extrabajador por el Amianto [Roca Sanitarios ordered to compensate asbestos-exposed worker more than 550,000 euros].
 

Clarity for Reinsurers

Jun 6, 2019

A unanimous verdict handed down by the Court of Appeal on April 17, 2019 in the case of Equitas Insurance Limited v Municipal Mutual Insurance Limited [2019] was the first to provide the reinsurance industry with guidance on the allocation of mesothelioma liabilities. The Court ruled that claims for losses must be allocated on a pro rata basis by reference to time on risk to avoid the practice of “spiking”: choosing to bring a claim against the reinsurance policy which would yield the maximum payout. See: UK: Reinsurers entitled to reject “spiking” of mesothelioma losses.
 

Asbestos Mass Sackings

Jun 5, 2019

On May 31, 2019, Brazil’s Eternit Group fired all 400 workers at SAMA, its asbestos mining subsidiary, in the State of Goiás at a cost of R$12 million (~US$3m). The company blamed a 2017 Supreme Court decision banning the commercial exploitation of asbestos for this measure, saying that the mine was being mothballed so it could be reopened should permission to recommence operations be granted by the Court. The mine had been non-operational since February 2019; during that time the workers had been suspended. See: Eternit demite 400 funcionários e hiberna mineradora de Amianto [Eternit dismisses 400 employees and mothballs asbestos mine].
 

Toxic Talc: Another Mesothelioma Case

Jun 3, 2019

A Manhattan jury last week awarded the sum of $325 million, which included $300 in punitive damages, to claimant Donna Olson – who is dying from mesothelioma, a cancer contracted from exposure to Johnson & Johnson’s (J&J) baby powder – and her husband Robert. For decades, Mrs. Olson used the iconic product as part of her hygiene routine. Commenting on the first New York City verdict in a case involving asbestos exposure to J&J’s baby powder, Mrs. Olson’s lawyer said: “With this verdict, yet another jury has rejected J&J’s misleading claims that its talc was free of asbestos.” The company will appeal. See: Ex-Brooklyn resident wins $325M in Johnson & Johnson tainted baby powder suit.
 

Chrysotile Asbestos Offensive

Jun 3, 2019

A Russian language article on a Kazakhstan website detailed the triumph of asbestos forces at the May 2019 United Nations meeting of the Rotterdam Convention, boasting that the efforts of Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Syria, Zimbabwe, Venezuela, Pakistan, Cuba, India and Iran had defeated UN plans to curtail the free global trade in chrysotile asbestos; Kazakhstan is one of the world’s leading chrysotile producers. The text asserted that the EU’s support for action on chrysotile was “dictated by economic interests…” See: Казахстанский хризотил вновь победил и выдержал испытание Роттердамской конвенцией [Kazakhstan chrysotile again won and stood the test of the Rotterdam Convention].
 

Conviction for Import of Asbestos

Jun 3, 2019

An unnamed Energy Corporation was ordered by a District Court of Western Australia to pay a fine of A$175,000 for illegally importing gaskets containing chrysotile asbestos to Australia in 2012 and 2013. The details provided in a press release issued by the Australian Border Force (ABF) about the conviction were sketchy although ABF Superintendent for Enforcement Operations WA Clinton Sims, said “the fact that the company was unaware the imported gaskets contained asbestos at the time of import did not excuse it from liability.” When asked to provide the name and location of the company and the exporter, the ABF declined to do so. See: Energy Corporation Fined for Importing Asbestos into Australia.
 

Asbestos Ban Terminology

Jun 3, 2019

A commentary by Colombian academic Juan Pablo Ramos-Bonilla examines the ongoing debate in the Colombian Congress over banning asbestos, with a particular focus on the question of elimination vs. prohibition. The author documented the active lobbying by commercial interests eager to protect the status quo or at least the legality of asbestos mining for export purposes and condemned the actions of private interests who are, he said, dictating the national asbestos policy. “The only public policy option that guarantees future non-exposure of the population to asbestos,” he concluded “is to stop using it, that is, to prohibit it.” See: Asbestos: Prohibir o eliminar? [Asbestos: Prohibit or eliminate?].
 

Claimant’s Verdict Against James Hardie

May 31, 2019

Eighty-four year old Ron Phillips, who is dying from the asbestos cancer mesothelioma, has won a landmark case against the Australian asbestos giant James Hardie with a verdict handed down by Sydney Judge Wendy Strathdee. The ruling ordered the company to pay $664,000 to cover nursing and other costs to ensure that the claimant – a retired architectural designer – who now needs 24 hour care can remain in the beachside apartment in Cronulla that he loves rather than be moved into a nursing home which is a cheaper option. Judge Strathdee said “as a consequence of the defendant's negligence,” Mr. Phillips’ life had been forfeit. See: Big legal win for asbestos cancer sufferer.
 

National Asbestos Action Plan

May 31, 2019

Rwanda has had a proactive stance on asbestos eradication since 2011 when the Government established a National Action Plan designed to “protect the Rwandan citizens from asbestos diseases caused by long time exposure and inhalation of the asbestos fibers.” A recently published report entitled The Asbestos Removal Project in Rwanda stated that as of February 28, 2019, 57% of asbestos-containing materials from buildings had safely been removed and disposed of. Under the current work plan, a variety of measures are being implemented to protect citizens, raise awareness and eradicate the asbestos hazard from the country. See: Asbestos Removal Progress and Status as of April 30, 2019.
 

Mesothelioma Clusters in Asbestos Town

May 31, 2019

Scientific research begun in 2015 and published in 2019 confirmed suspicions regarding an elevated incidence of the asbestos cancer mesothelioma in the Colombian city of Sibaté, formerly the home to the country’s first asbestos-cement factory. The authors of the paper reported that the mesothelioma rates were “high in comparison to those reported in other cities, regions, and countries of the world… The analysis of four soil samples collected in landfilled zones, confirmed the existence of an underground layer of friable and non-friable asbestos.” See: An asbestos contaminated town in the vicinity of an asbestos-cement facility: The case study of Sibaté, Colombia.
 

Asbestos-Cement Hazard

May 31, 2019

An assessment of the hazard posed by the widespread and long-term use in Lebanon of asbestos-cement roofing within residential areas such as the coastal city of Chekka – the location of an asbestos-cement factory which closed in 2002 – has confirmed the continuing ubiquity and deteriorating state of this material due to weathering and natural processes. Citing the World Health Organization’s warning that there are “no safe levels for the exposure” to asbestos, the authors highlighted the risk posed by non-professional removal activities. Despite some government asbestos prohibitions, the use of chrysotile in Lebanon remains legal for certain products. See: Risk assessment of asbestos-cement roof sheets in Chekka, North Lebanon.
 

Tata Steel Facing Asbestos Lawsuits

May 30, 2019

The Dutch Asbestos Victims Committee (the Committee) has reported Tata Steel to the Public Prosecution Service for the company’s continued failure to take appropriate actions to protect workers from hazardous asbestos exposures. According to lawyer and Senator Bob Ruers, a criminal complaint has been filed on behalf of the Committee; these developments will be discussed during a plenary session in the Dutch Senate. The Committee alleges that for decades Tata Steel prioritized “profitability” over occupational health, as a result of which fatal asbestos exposures occurred. See: Organisatie asbestslachtoffers doet aangifte tegen Tata Steel [Organization of asbestos victims reports Tata Steel].
 

Asbestos Crime but No Punishment

May 30, 2019

Legal loopholes that prevent social movements and prosecutors from achieving convictions of corporate executives for industrial health and safety crimes are considered in this paper within a framework examining multiple Italian trials of asbestos businessman Stephan Schmidheiny. They include: the practice of collective corporate decision-making; the difficulty in establishing links between industrial hazard and responsibility or intention; the need to prove causation for each victim on an individual rather than a statistical basis. See: How to Judge Safety Crime: Lessons From the Eternit Asbestos Maxi-Trials.
 

Asbestos Health Warnings

May 30, 2019

A commentary published in Catalonia warned of the public health dangers posed by the deterioration of asbestos-containing products, noting that the heyday for asbestos use in the region was during the 1970s. Widespread media attention generated by protests over occupational asbestos exposures of Barcelona’s Metro workers has raised the profile of the asbestos hazard and caused concern amongst at-risk communities in areas such as Turó de la Rovira, and Vilanova i la Geltrú. See: Creix la preocupació per l’amiant 40 anys després del seu ús massiu [Asbestos concerns rise 40 years after its massive use].
 

Asbestos Anxiety: Good News, Bad News

May 30, 2019

An analysis of the implications of an April 2019 Supreme Court ruling for French victims of “asbestos anxiety” contained both good and bad news: the former included the fact that all employees at high risk of contracting asbestos-related diseases could claim compensation for anxiety while the latter was that under the Court’s restrictive criteria, claimants must provide evidence that they had been exposed to asbestos decades ago. In 2014, a French health institute estimated that there could be up to 100,000 asbestos deaths in France by 2050. See: Amiante: les critères de l'élargissement du préjudice d’anxiété sont très restrictifs [Asbestos: the criteria for widening anxiety harm are very restrictive].
 

Connecticut Working to Ban Asbestos

May 28, 2019

On May 24, 2019, a bill to ban the sale and use of asbestos in building materials was proposed by Connecticut State Senator Matt Lesser who said that in the light of moves by the Trump Administration's EPA, legislation to protect the public health of Connecticut’s citizens and the environment from toxic exposures to asbestos were of utmost importance. The State Senate unanimously adopted Senate Bill No. 47 and the proposal now goes to the state House of Representatives for consideration. Once approved, it will require the signature of Governor Ned Lamont. See: Sen. Lesser Asbestos Bill Passes Senate.
 

Sad News

May 28, 2019

The death has been reported in New Zealand of veteran ban asbestos activist Deidre van Gerven who, having lost her husband and three other family members to asbestos-related diseases, campaigned assiduously to raise asbestos awareness, implement measures to protect workers and members of the public from toxic exposures and achieve a national asbestos ban. Through her website (see: http://www.fibreaware.org.nz/), her prolific correspondence with government officials and others, and her social media posts, Deidre was well-known both at home and abroad. In February 2019, Deidre was dumbfounded when told that she was to receive the Masterton Civic Award for health and well-being for her battle to raise asbestos awareness. See: Anti-asbestos lobbyist honoured.
 

Asbestos Anxiety Litigation

May 28, 2019

The issue of “asbestos anxiety” in France remains hotly debated in the media and in the Courts with varying results for claimants. On May 23, 2019, the French Supreme Court handed down a ruling awarding 30 employees from the Baccarat crystal company €13,000 each for the mental anguish caused by occupational asbestos exposures. See: Amiante: 13.000 € pour chacun des 30 salariés de la cristallerie [Asbestos: €13,000 for each of the 30 employees of the crystal factory]. (On the same day, proceedings commenced at the administrative court of Rennes in a case brought for asbestos anxiety experienced by 50 naval personnel. See: Amiante: des militaires de la Marine nationale réclament le préjudice d'anxiété [Asbestos: French Navy personnel demand compensation for asbestos anxiety].)
 

Campaign by Yale Alumni

May 28, 2019

Alumni of Yale University continue to press the college to rescind an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters awarded in 1996 to Swiss asbestos billionaire Stephan Schmidheiny after the latest guilty verdict against him over asbestos-related deaths in Italy was handed down by a Turin Court. Although Yale says it has never revoked an honorary degree and is not inclined to change this policy, University Vice President Kim Goff-Crews has agreed to meet with Daniel Berman, one of the leaders of this campaign, when he is at Yale for his 50th reunion on June 7, 2019 “out of respect for your many years of engagement on behalf of workers’ health and your membership in the Yale community.” See: Alumni ask Yale to revoke honorary degree.
 

Calls for Global Asbestos Ban

May 28, 2019

Chinese researchers working with colleagues from the UK and Canada on May 23, 2019 published a paper on the website of JAMA Oncology, a monthly peer-reviewed medical journal published by the American Medical Association, which called for a complete ban on global asbestos use and warned that: “rapidly developing nations such as Brazil, Russia, India, and China ‘face an impending public health crisis of an unprecedented scale’ because they continue to produce and use asbestos.” According to data from 2016, the four countries mentioned accounted for 80% of asbestos used worldwide. See: High Time for Complete Ban on Asbestos Use in Developing Countries.
 

More Asbestos Propaganda

May 24, 2019

In a press release disseminated by the International Alliance of Trade Union Organisations “Chrysotile”, erroneous claims are made that “chrysotile asbestos is the safest commercial fibre”; that “banning chrysotile asbestos could have potentially disastrous consequences”; and that “those who oppose chrysotile have no convincing arguments to support banning the mineral.” These falsehoods are being reiterated by asbestos industry stakeholders to justify their veto of United Nations action to protect vulnerable populations from potentially deadly exposures to chrysotile asbestos during the 2019 meeting of the Parties to the Rotterdam Convention. See: Rotterdam Convention Meeting Concludes in Favour of Chrysotile Asbestos.
 

Exposing Brazil’s Asbestos Conspiracy

May 24, 2019

A commentary detailing a plot by commercial and political asbestos industry stakeholders to end Brazil’s prohibition on the commercial exploitation of chrysotile asbestos exposes the means being used by right-wing interests to deconstruct the medical and scientific evidence regarding the human health risk posed by asbestos exposures. The text includes interviews with asbestos victims and medical experts who reiterate the proven consequences of workplace and environmental exposures to asbestos: chronic ill health and premature and avoidable deaths. See: A conspiração infame pela volta do Amianto [The infamous conspiracy about the asbestos revolution].
 

Asbestos Ban Bill Approved

May 22, 2019

A draft bill to prohibit the production, commercialization and distribution of asbestos in Colombia by 2021 was adopted by the 7th Commission of the Colombian House of Representatives on May 21, 2019; it attracted cross-party support. The bill is named in honor of asbestos cancer victim “Ana Cecilia Nino”; in the last fifty years, 1,700 people have died from asbestos-related diseases in Colombia. The draft legislation, which will go to the Senate in June for the final debate, allows asbestos mining for export purposes only. See: Prohibición del asbesto en Colombia, a un paso de ser realidad [Prohibition of asbestos in Colombia, one step away from being a reality].
 

Chrysotile and Mesothelioma Causation

May 22, 2019

Three American researchers published findings in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine on May 13, 2019 confirming that “statistically significant associations were observed between mortality from all pleural cancer (including mesothelioma) and time since first exposure … to asbestos…” The co-authors concluded that their observations “support with quantitative data the conclusion that chrysotile causes mesothelioma and encourage exposure-response analyses of mesothelioma in other cohorts exposed to chrysotile.” See: Quantitative relationships of exposure to chrysotile asbestos and mesothelioma mortality.
 

Asbestos Fight-back

May 20, 2019

Asbestos mining in Brazil ceased on February 1, 2019. Current attempts by right-wing Senators to force a U-turn of the national prohibitions are examined in the article referenced below. In April 2019, a “caravan” of Senators, including Senate President David Samuel Alcolumbre, accompanied the Governor Ronaldo Caiado of Goiás State, to the mining city of Minaçu to support demands for the renewal of asbestos mining. Data from Brazilian medical experts and interviews with asbestos victims explain the deadly consequences of such an action. See: De mineral mágico a poeira assassina: volta do amianto pode causar epidemia de cancer [From magic mineral to killer dust: asbestos revival could cause cancer epidemic].
 

Liverpool: Action on Asbestos

May 20, 2019

For years, Liverpool has been an asbestos hotspot with a high incidence of asbestos-related disease amongst dockyard workers and people employed in the construction and ship repair sectors. On May 16, 2019, the Liverpool Trade Union Council unanimously approved a motion proposed by the Merseyside Pensioners Association deploring the action of vested interests at the Rotterdam Convention in May 2019 which blocked the listing of chrysotile asbestos; demanding that the Chemical Review Committee’s recommendations be adopted; urging all Parties to support reforms to the Convention; and issuing calls for a demonstration outside the Russian Embassy on or near the 24th November (the 20th anniversary of the 1999 UK asbestos ban).
 

Asbestos on the Metro

May 20, 2019

Trade unionists have reacted negatively to findings issued by labor inspectors that airborne asbestos in the Madrid Metro were below permissible levels and to assertions that the presence of asbestos-containing materials in the Metro did not pose a health risk to commuters or workers. The union spokesperson pointed out that the measurements reported were invalid as the tests carried out were analyzed with an optical and not an electron microscope. Metro workers will hold a strike on May 20 and May 24 over the company’s management of asbestos in the transportation system. See: Inspecció de Treball considera vàlida la gestió de TMB en la retirada de l’amiant [Labor Inspection approves management of TMB asbestos removal].
 

Raising Asbestos Awareness

May 20, 2019

Speakers at a conference about “Asbestos and Community Health” which was held in Hanoi, Vietnam on May 16, 2019 highlighted the public health hazard posed by the country’s widespread and largely unregulated use of asbestos-containing products – especially roofing tiles and sheeting. The risk to ethnic minority populations living in remote mountainous areas was discussed. In 2018, the Prime Minister committed his Government to stop using asbestos roofing by 2023 and replace it with safer alternatives, some of which were discussed. See: Sớm loại bỏ amiăng trắng gây hại cho sức khỏe cộng đồng [Unregulated removal of chrysotile is harmful to public health].
 

Asbestos and Occupational Health

May 20, 2019

Decrying the news that asbestos stakeholders are trying to reverse the Supreme Court policy on banning the commercialization of asbestos in Brazil, Fundocentro – a Brazilian institution at the forefront of the campaign to improve occupational health and safety – issued a statement highlighting the wealth of epidemiological evidence and medical information which has been amassed on the adverse health effects of asbestos exposures on Brazilian workers and the work which has been done to train physicians in diagnosing asbestos-related conditions. See: Nota da Fundacentro sobre os impactos do amianto [Fundacentro's note on the impacts of asbestos].
 

Asbestos and Workers

May 16, 2019

An opinion piece which appeared in the Canadian newspaper “The Examiner” on May 9, 2019, by Dr. Rosana Salvaterra, a medical officer for Peterborough Public Health, took as its subject the ongoing hazard posed by occupational asbestos exposures around the world. On the occasion of International Workers Memorial Day 2019, she recalled the role played in Peterborough in raising awareness of the “silent killer” by individuals who prompted Local 524 of the Canadian Auto Workers to screen retired and current workers for asbestos-related diseases at trade union clinics. See: Confronting the harmful legacy of asbestos in Peterborough and area.
 

Raising Asbestos Awareness

May 16, 2019

A workshop “Raising awareness of the harmful effects of chrysotile asbestos and asbestos-related diseases” was recently held in Cao Bang, a mountainous province in northeast Vietnam, home to many ethnic hill tribes; 95% of asbestos-containing roofing sheets are used in regions of Vietnam which are home to ethnic minorities. This event was a joint initiative of the Institute of Natural Resources, Environment and Community Development, the Action for Justice, Environment and Health Group and the Committee for Ethnic Minorities. On January 1, 2018, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc indicated that Vietnam would ban the use of this roofing by 2023. See: Cùng lên tiếng để bảo vệ sức khỏe cộng đồng [Together speak up to protect public health].
 

Fourth Town to Ban Asbestos

May 16, 2019

Councillors of a popular tourist town in Colombia “Villa de Leyva” plan to ban the use of asbestos in public works to protect public health; it will be the fourth city in the region to do so, joining Chivatá, Tibasosa and Samacá all of which adopted unilateral asbestos bans. Supporting the new ban, President of the Town Council Juan Camilo Castellanos said: “asbestos is a carcinogenic mineral that has claimed more than 1,700 lives in the last 5 years in the country… our plan is to eliminate this material in future municipal infrastructure projects…” See: Quieren prohibir el asbesto en Villa de Leyva, Boyacá [They want to ban asbestos in Villa de Leyva, Boyacá].
 

Honoring Hong Kong Activist

May 16, 2019

It has been announced in Seoul, Korea that activist Chan Kam Hong, who died in Hong Kong on May 5, 2019, will be posthumously awarded the Rachel Lee Jung-Lim Award 2019 – in memory of a dedicated campaigner and Korean mesothelioma victim – for services to working people and his active engagement as the Executive Director of The Association for the Rights of Industrial Accident Victims and as a founding member of the Asia Network for the Rights of Occupational and Environmental Victims and the Asian Ban Asbestos Network (ABAN). Hong played a vital role in the campaign to ban asbestos in Hong Kong.
 

Calls for Asbestos Exemption

May 14, 2019

A 10 minute segment shown on prime time TV (May 12) focused on lobbying by asbestos stakeholders to pressurize the Supreme Court into allowing 10 more years of asbestos mining. Accepting that a 2017 ruling by the Court outlawed asbestos sales in Brazil, the industry is pressing for an exemption to allow exports. Medical doctors, victims and prosecutors explained the hazards posed by exposures while a company doctor and engineer described the “safe use process”, described as a fallacy by retired Factory Inspector Fernanda Giannasi. See: Comissão do Senado vai pedir reabertura de mina de amianto, minério que pode provocar cancer [Senate Commission to request reopening of asbestos mine, ore that can cause cancer].
 

Asbestos Strike!

May 14, 2019

Trade unionists from various organizations and chapters will be joining forces on May 24 to make manifest their outrage over the shabby treatment they have received from the Madrid Metro Company over exposure to asbestos on the capital’s underground network. Asbestos-related diseases of 5 Madrid Metro employees, two of whom have died, have been recognized, and the Prosecutor’s Office is investigating workplace exposures. The asbestos political hot potato is being passed back and forth from public companies and employers to regional authorities and central government; the unions allege there is enough negligence for them all. See: Los trabajadores de Metro van a la huelga por la crisis del Amianto [Metro workers go on strike due to the asbestos crisis].
 

Toxic Talc

May 14, 2019

In her editorial in Chatelaine, a Canadian women's magazine, Editor-in-Chief Johanne Lauzon detailed damning developments regarding Johnson & Johnson’s asbestos-contaminated baby powder, including plaintiffs’ verdicts, the position taken by Health Canada that talc could be harmful and features in the New York Times and Reuters. Lauzon was angry that the medico pharmaceutical industry continued to put profits before health and asserted that consumers “have the right to know the risks we run by using everyday products.” “Our health,” she said “must take priority over the profits of big companies.” See: Poudre pour bébé: les profits des multinationales avant la santé des femmes? [Baby powder: multinational profits before women's health?].
 

Asbestos in Beer!

May 14, 2019

The reasons for the increase in UK incidence of oesophageal adenocarcinoma over the last 50 years and a male to female ratio of > 4:1 were explored in a paper uploaded on May 9 to the website of The British Journal of Cancer. The authors explored the hypothesis that asbestos ingested in beer brewed using asbestos filtration, an unregulated and popular commercial practice during the 1970s, might be the explanation and concluded that: “Asbestos ingestion, either from beer consumed before around 1980, or from occupational exposure, seems a plausible causative factor…” See: Ingested asbestos in filtered beer, in addition to occupational exposure, as a causative factor in oesophageal adenocarcinoma.
 

Toxicity of Chrysotile Asbestos

May 14, 2019

Research published by Chinese scientists in the May 2019 Journal of Environmental Science and Pollution Research evaluated the oxidative stress in chronic lung toxicity caused by the exposure of Wistar rats to Chinese chrysotile asbestos. The results “indicated that chrysotile exposure led to an obvious increase in lung mass and slowed the growth of body mass…[the] results suggested that chronic chrysotile pulmonary injury in Wistar rats is triggered by oxidative damage.” The authors of the paper expressed the hope that their data would lead to further research on the toxicity of chrysotile. See: Oxidative effects of lungs in Wistar rats caused by long-term exposure to four kinds of China representative chrysotile.
 

Offensive by Asbestos Sector

May 14, 2019

On May 7, 2019, draft legislation by the Brazilian asbestos mining State of Goiás was adopted by a vote of 1336:83 (94.2% in favour) for asbestos mining to be permitted for the sole purpose of export. As far as can be ascertained, this is a political show of force and is not binding, as the Supreme Court in 2017 outlawed the commercial exploitation of asbestos throughout the country. The Supreme Court is currently reviewing litigation brought by asbestos industry stakeholders. See: Proposta 2019002488: Autoriza, para fins exclusivos de exportação, a extração e o beneficiamento do amianto da variedade crisotila no Estado de Goiás [Proposition 2019002488: Authorizes for exclusive purpose of export, the extraction of chrysotile asbestos in the State of Goiás].
 

Russia’s Pressure Kills Asbestos Ban

May 13, 2019

An article in The Island – an English-language newspaper in Sri Lanka – on May 7, 2019 explained that the reason the Sri Lankan government failed to implement a national asbestos ban as promised was because of pressure from Russia, which supplied most of the asbestos used in the country. According to Hemantha Withanage, Executive Director of the Centre for Environmental Justice (CEJ): “Even if the government changes, asbestos will not be banned here due to Russia’s threat to ban Sri Lanka tea in retaliation.” The economic blackmail by Russia which forced the ban U-turn in 2017 was widely decried with Sharan Burrow of the International Trade Union Confederation calling it “culpable homicide” (Media Release, January 3, 2018). See (The Island article): Asbestos not banned due to pressure – CEJ.
 

Ban Asbestos Bill: Update

May 13, 2019

With the clock running down on the current legislative session in the Colombian Congress, the 3rd debate of the “Ana Cecilia Niño” Ban Asbestos Bill has been scheduled in the 7th Committee of the House of Representatives due to the persistance of legislators including Mauricio Toro, Jairo Humberto Cristo and Nadia Blel. If it is adopted, it will go to the Senate for urgent consideration. Author of the bill Senator Nadia Blel said: “Once again, we are calling on the House of Representatives to prioritize the health and life of Colombians and [hope] the Ana Cecilia Niño bill is debated quickly.” See: Debate sobre prohibición del asbesto logró salvarse a última hora [Debate on prohibition of asbestos saved at the last minute].
 

Mesothelioma Mortality: New Data

May 13, 2019

According to data released on May 9, 2019 by the Office of National Statistics, there was a 1% reduction in the number of mesothelioma deaths in England and Wales in 2017 compared with 2016 (2,279 from 2,313). There were, however, significant increases in mortality in: Merseyside (+16%), Greater Manchester (+12%), the East Riding of Yorkshire (+56%), North Yorkshire (+16%), South Yorkshire (+8%), Kent (+13%), Essex (+12%) and Wales (+17%). See: Mesothelioma deaths by local authority, England and Wales, registered between 2015 and 2017.
 

A Doctor vs. Asbestos Industry

May 13, 2019

An article by Antonio Carlos Lopez, President of the Brazilian Medical Clinic Society, expressed surprise that commercial interests were lobbying for the mining of asbestos to be permitted in Brazil despite a 2017 ban by the Supreme Court. The author was critical of the asbestos lobby and in particular one of its leading campaigners: the Governor of the asbestos mining State of Goiás – Ronaldo Caiado, who was also a doctor. Dr. Lopez wrote: “it is the duty of every physician to hold the life of the human being in the first place, always. If the end of production eliminates jobs, it is up to the political class of Goiás and Brazil to create alternative…” employment for workers. See: A saúde em tempos de predadores [Health in time of predators].
 

Ill-Founded Asbestos Policy

May 13, 2019

In a high-profile expose published on May 8, 2019, the New York Times (NYT) reported that senior officials at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ignored advice of in-house scientific experts when it issued a ruling restricting but not banning asbestos in April 2019. In memos dated August 10, which were reproduced by the NYT, EPA advisors urged the Agency to ban asbestos as most other industrialized countries have done “because the extreme harm from this chemical substance outweighs any benefit – and because there are adequate alternatives to asbestos.” Commenting on the EPA’s actions, a former Agency official said that disregarding the advice of career scientists on an issue as complex as asbestos was unusual. See: E.P.A. Leaders Disregarded Agency’s Experts in Issuing Asbestos Rule, Memos Show.
 

Chan Kam-Hong

May 7, 2019

For more than 30 years, “relentless campaigner” Chan Kam-Hong worked on the frontline for workers’ rights in Hong Kong. As the Chief Executive of the Association for the Rights of Industrial Accident Victims, he mobilized grassroots support not only for occupational rights but also for human rights, and highlighted the threat posed by asbestos-containing material in public housing and waste dumped throughout the countryside. He died aged 60 on May 5, 2019; emails received about his passing, emphasized his compassion and dedication. He was a gentle man whose loss will be felt by many. See: Chan Kam-hong, a workers’ champion and driving force behind improvements in Hong Kong’s industrial safety for more than 30 years, dies at 60.
 

Asbestos Truth and Consequences

May 7, 2019

An article uploaded on May 1, 2019 discussed evidence given by Vietnamese medical experts about the deadly health hazards posed to workers and members of the public who are exposed to asbestos-containing products which remain widely used and popular especially amongst poorer citizens. The World Health Organization’s Chief Representative in Vietnam Kidong Park recently reaffirmed that asbestos is one of the most serious causes of occupational cancer and that Vietnam is still one of the world’s largest users. See: Amiăng: Bụi siêu nhỏ, sắc như thuỷ tinh hít vào sẽ “cắt” vào phổi gây tổn thương, ung thư [Asbestos: Super small dust, sharp as inhaled glass will “cut” into the lungs, causing damage and cancer].
 

Asbestos in Schools

May 7, 2019

Valencia’s Ministry of Education confirmed that to avoid risks to students and teaching staff, asbestos eradication has been completed in 143 educational centers; contamination remains in 68 schools. Asbestos removal work at these premises will be completed by specialist operatives by the end of 2019, according to the Ministry, which says work will be undertaken during school holidays. See: Cerca de 70 colegios aún tienen amianto pese a la promesa de su eliminación [Nearly 70 schools still have asbestos despite the promise of its elimination].
 

MoD’s Asbestos Scandal

May 7, 2019

The Unite union has criticised the Ministry of Defence (MoD) for failing to provide details about 1,000 workers who may have been exposed to asbestos whilst working on Sea King helicopters and for failing to detail steps taken to identify at-risk personnel. According to the MoD, many of those who worked on the fleet since 1969 were external contractors; there is no central record of their names. Commenting on this situation, Unite national officer Jim Kennedy said: “The MoD is more interested in covering up its failings then ensuring that workers who may have been exposed to asbestos are notified about their contamination.” See: MoD criticised for failing to reveal workers potentially exposed to asbestos.
 

Chrysotile Asbestos: The Facts

May 6, 2019

A six-page fact sheet released in April 2019 by Australia’s Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency is a useful resource for campaigners attending the 9th Conference of the Parties to the Rotterdam Convention in Geneva this week. Key facts highlighted in the text include: the links between exposure to chrysotile and a wide variety of human cancers and diseases; the fallacy of the “controlled use of asbestos” policy; the existence of safer asbestos-free alternative products; the asbestos policies of international agencies; and the need for “A total global ban…” See: Chrysotile: Key Facts.
 

Asbestos Legacy

May 6, 2019

The use of asbestos was banned in Reunion, a French department in the Indian Ocean, in 1997. The widespread prevalence of asbestos-containing products and the high cost of asbestos eradication is creating problems for authorities tasked with the oversight of public buildings and social housing. Although regulations in public and occupational health codes to prevent toxic exposures exist, compliance is not guaranteed, due to the high costs of asbestos audits and use of accredited asbestos removal contractors. State authorities have been criticized for the small fines incurred for infringements of the regulations. See: Risque amiante dans les logements sociaux: ni angoisse ni laisser-aller [Asbestos risk in social housing: no anxiety or let-up].
 

Asbestos Attack on Supreme Court

May 6, 2019

Senators are pressurizing Supreme Court Justices on behalf of chrysotile asbestos mining interests from Goiás State regarding the Court’s ruling declaring the exploitation of asbestos unconstitutional, alleging that the 2017 verdict was given “without scientific basis.” Warning of dire economic consequences for Goiás, the politicians argued that mining for export should be allowed. A spokeswoman for the Brazilian Association of the Asbestos-Exposed said the Association “is strictly against the export of asbestos, because what we don’t want for ourselves, can’t be allowed to happen to others.” See: Senadores querem que STF autorize exportação do Amianto [Senators want STF to authorize asbestos exports].
 

Asbestos Homicide Trial

May 3, 2019

On April 30, 2019, the investigative phase was concluded in the Turin trial of a Swiss billionaire charged with the deaths of 392 people – some former Eternit workers, some who never worked for the company – from the town of Casale Monferrato and its surrounding regions. In the 1970s-80s, Stephan Schmidheiny was in charge of the Casale factory which produced asbestos-cement building material. The preliminary hearing magistrate has not yet been appointed and the hearing is not expected to commence until September 2019. See: Eternit Bis, Schmidheiny a processo per la morte di 400 persone a Casale e dintorni [Eternit Bis, Schmidheiny on trial for the deaths of 400 people in Casale and surroundings].
 

Asbestos Legacy

May 3, 2019

A blog by Leonardo Sakamoto, a journalist from São Paulo, Brazil highlighted the ongoing risks to workers and members of the public posed by asbestos-containing products already incorporated within the country’s infrastructure. Sakamoto condemned Federal Senators who visited Brazil’s remaining asbestos mine on April 27, 2019 and supported demands for asbestos mining operations to recommence in order to protect jobs. The author called on politicians and entrepreneurs to provide healthy workplaces and adopt safe technologies. See: Primeiro de Maio: Para celebrar a data, muito amianto para os trabalhadores [May Day: Celebrating the date, too much asbestos for workers].
 

Mesothelioma Registry

May 3, 2019

On April 8, 2019, The (US) National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, (NIOSH), within the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, opened a consultation period on the feasibility of establishing a national registry to track mesothelioma cases, with a deadline of July 8, 2019 for the receipt of submissions. NIOSH is soliciting recommendations on procedures and protocols for the collection of data, the maintenance of the registry and the provision of security. The objective of this initiative is to “develop and improve standards of care and to identify gaps in mesothelioma prevention and treatment.” See: Mesothelioma Registry Feasibility; Request for Information.
 

Recognition for British Campaigners

May 3, 2019

On April 15, 2019 it was announced that honorary doctorates would be bestowed by Kent University on Mavis Nye, a mesothelioma sufferer, and her husband Ray who have been campaigning actively to raise asbestos awareness ever since she was diagnosed with the asbestos cancer mesothelioma. The presentation will take place on July 9, 2019 at Rochester Cathedral. Commenting on this news, Mavis wrote: “It is an honour – a huge honour but I don’t do all this work for honours. I just want asbestos awareness and a cure for Mesothelioma so if I’m playing a small part alongside so many activists then I am fulfilling my part in a larger world.” See: A Diary Of A Mesowarrior Living With Mesothelioma.
 

Asbestos-free Roofing from Zimbabwe

May 3, 2019

One of Zimbabwe’s largest asbestos-consuming manufacturers has announced plans to phase out production of some asbestos-roofing products destined for export to countries which have banned asbestos. According to a news report, Managing Director Roselyn Chisveto of Turnall Holdings told journalists in Harare recently that the firm decided to expand its asbestos-free product range. She confirmed that some asbestos is being obtained by the company sourced from the formerly redundant Shabani Mashava Asbestos Mine. See: Turnall explores export markets.
 

Asbestos Offensive

May 1, 2019

On April 29, 2019, the International Alliance of Trade Union Organizations “Chrysotile” (the Alliance) issued a press release congratulating workers from Russia, Kazakhstan and other countries involved in the chrysotile industry who celebrated Chrysotile Asbestos Protection Day on April 16, 2019. The Alliance communique alleged that the “controlled use of chrysotile is indispensable” and cited research which “proved” that “when used under controlled conditions, chrysotile is safe both for workers employed in asbestos production facilities and for end-consumers.” See: Workers of the Chrysotile Industry Celebrate Chrysotile Asbestos Protection Day.
 

Support for Asbestos Industry

May 1, 2019

Calls by vested interests in Brazil for Supreme Court action to permit the mining of asbestos were supported by Senators D. Alcolumbre, V. Cardoso, Luiz do Carmo and C. Rodrigues who made a video of a recent trip to Minaçu, the asbestos mining city. Accompanied on their trip by Goiás State Governor Ronaldo Caiado, the Senators endorsed calls by the mining company, workers and local people for the Supreme Court to approve the continued operation of the SAMA asbestos mine. Acknowledging the hazard posed by asbestos exposures, medical experts called on the company and the State to support workers following Brazil’s ban on asbestos. See: Senadores defendem retomada da mineração de Amianto [Senators Defend Resumption of Asbestos Mining].
 

Belarus: Asbestos Alert

May 1, 2019

An online article on a news portal in Belarus detailed the dangers posed by exposure to asbestos, in particular fiber contained in asbestos roofing, quoting a local expert Dr. Leonid Meleshko who said “Asbestos is a toxic material…” He explained that exposure to asbestos can cause incurable diseases including lung cancer as well as mesothelioma; the doctor issued warnings about the dangers of using asbestos in new construction. The article cited research by Westerns scientists which proved that asbestos is a carcinogenic substance. See: Грозно шифером шурша [Menacing slates “rustling”].
 

Urgent: List Chrysotile on Annex III

Apr 16, 2019

A letter sent on April 16, 2019 by the Bangladesh Ban Asbestos Network to the Minister of the Environment, Forest and Climate Change, other Ministers, Department Heads and diplomats has called on the Bangladesh Government to support the listing of chrysotile (white) asbestos on Annex III of the United Nations’ Rotterdam Convention at the upcoming 9th Conference of the Parries in Geneva; the discussions on chrysotile are expected to take place on May 7-10, 2019. Bangladesh imports of chrysotile have risen in recent years from 14,620 tonnes in 2015 to 22,180t in 2018. The Government is urged “to take action against this killing fibre at national and international levels…” See: Letter from Bangladesh Ban Asbestos Network.
 

Asbestos: Act Now

Apr 16, 2019

Greenpeace Colombia has issued a press release calling on the Government of Colombia to act urgently on banning asbestos and enact the “Ana Cecilia Niño” asbestos prohibitions before June 2019 when the draft legislation expires. Speaking on behalf of Greenpeace Colombia Silvia Gómez said: “the positive experiences of almost a hundred countries around the world show that the prohibition and replacement of asbestos is possible. The economic and labor consequences do not justify the use of a toxic substance that harms the health of Colombians. The social and scientific evidence is on the side of the prohibition of asbestos.” See: Greenpeace insiste en que Congreso prohíba el asbestos [Greenpeace insists that Congress prohibit asbestos].
 

Shipyard’s Asbestos Legacy

Apr 16, 2019

According to a report from the Regional Epidemiology Service, the incidence of mesothelioma in the port city of Cartagena is 7.5 times higher than that in Murcia. In the last 20 years, 193 people in Cartagena have died from mesothelioma, the signature cancer linked to asbestos exposure. It is believed that much of the hazardous exposure took place at the shipyards where thousands of workers were routinely exposed to asbestos. The report stated that most workers were exposed to chrysotile (white) asbestos and that “up to 90% of pleural mesotheliomas and 50% of peritoneal tumors…” were caused by such exposures. See: Un cáncer vinculado con el amianto se ha cobrado 193 vidas en dos décadas [A cancer linked to asbestos has claimed 193 lives in two decades].
 

Asbestos Trial in Naples

Apr 15, 2019

On April 12, 2019, Public Prosecutors Giuliana Giuliano and Anna Frasca began a trial at the Court of Assizes of Naples in which a Swiss billionaire – Stephan Schmidheiny – faced murder charges over eight asbestos cancer deaths which occurred between 2000 and 2009 due to workplace exposures at Eternit factories in southern Italy. A similar trial in Turin against the same defendant charged with two asbestos deaths is about to conclude; a verdict is expected soon. See: Eternit, l’amianto killer a Bagnoli: comincerà domani il processo al magnate svizzero, accusato di 8 decessi [Eternit, the asbestos killer in Bagnoli: the trial of the Swiss magnate will start tomorrow, accused of 8 deaths].
 

Victims Twice Over

Apr 15, 2019

As if the struggle for asbestos compensation in Switzerland is not hard enough, victims have now been informed that CAOVA – an organization which has battled for decades to support the injured – is scheduled for closure due to lack of funds. Unlike in France, where some progress has been made in streamlining compensation procedures, in Switzerland the burden of proof for those, other than mesothelioma claimants, can be virtually insurmountable, as demands are made for documentation and details relating to exposures which took place decades ago. See: Le rude combat pour l'indemnisation des malades de l'amiante [The tough fight for the compensation of asbestos patients].
 

Asbestos: Cancer Alert

Apr 15, 2019

Medical experts have warned that there is substantial under-diagnosis in Spain of asbestos-related cancers and that those which are identified are just “the tip of the iceberg.” According to Dr. Josep Tarrés: “There are studies that say that between 8% and 12% of lung carcinomas are due to exposure to asbestos without the intervention of tobacco.” Occupationally contracted asbestos-related diseases recognized in Spain include: mesothelioma, tumors of the larynx, ovary, testes and oesophagus. See: Los neumólogos alertan de los pocos diagnósticos de cáncer por Amianto [Pneumologists warn of the few diagnoses of cancer by asbestos].
 

Propagation of Discredited Science

Apr 15, 2019

A peer-reviewed commentary in the inaugural issue of the Journal of Scientific Practice and Integrity examined measures adopted by asbestos stakeholders to delay action on a known carcinogen and cited the work of the Asbestos Institute (Canada) and the International Chrysotile Association, the research of David Bernstein and the failure of publications such as the European Respiratory Journal to refuse submissions from authors with ties to asbestos interests. Extracts from Bernstein’s emails and examples of payments made by asbestos defendants contained in Appendix A are informative. See: Asbestos and insurance interests continue to use discredited scientific argument to sell asbestos and to deny justice to asbestos victims.
 

Asbestos at Steel Plant

Apr 15, 2019

Representatives of the Fiom CGIL trade union submitted a complaint to Italy’s Ministry of Environment about the presence of 3,750 tons of asbestos – 95% of which is friable – at the Taranto steel plant, Europe’s largest producer of steel. Fiom is calling on the authorities to speed up plans for remediation which, according to a schedule of works, is not expected to be achieved until 2023. The Union claims not to have received any plans for an asbestos removal program for the plant from the company which owns the site in southern Italy. See: “Nell'ex Ilva di Taranto 3.750 tonnellate di Amianto”: denuncia Fiom al ministero dell'Ambiente [“In the former Taranto Ilva 3,750 tons of asbestos”: Fiom complaint to the Ministry of Environment].
 

“Non-Hazardous” Asbestos?

Apr 12, 2019

The Russian Government, which banned tea imports after Sri Lanka announced plans to prohibit the import of asbestos roofing materials from Russia as of January 1, 2018, has now signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Sri Lanka Ministry of Health in Colombo which explains that future Russian asbestos exports to the country will be “non-hazardous.” Sri Lanka is the world’s largest importer of Russian asbestos sheets. See: Россия будет производить неопасный асбест для Шри-Ланки [Russia will produce non-hazardous asbestos for Sri Lanka].
 

Victory in Asbestos Case

Apr 12, 2019

A judgment was handed down in the High Court in London on April 10 (see: Dr Robin Rudd v (1) John Bridle and (2) J&S Bridle Limited) in a case brought by Dr Robin Rudd – one of the UK’s leading medical experts on asbestos-related diseases – against John Bridle, pro-asbestos advocate and former asbestos businessman, who the judge said was “dishonest and obstructive throughout the proceedings.” In 2014, Bridle had lodged a complaint – later dismissed – against Dr Rudd with the General Medical Council “alleging that Dr Rudd had falsified the risks to health associated with chrysotile asbestos in expert reports.” Bridle has been ordered to provide all personal data relating to Dr Rudd and disclose the names of the recipients of the data. See: Landmark Judgment on Data Protection Act 1998.
 

Book Review: Victims vs The System

Apr 12, 2019

A commentary on a book entitled Eternity – A Social Construction of Banning Asbestos in Brazil highlighted the importance of the work of asbestos victims in achieving a landmark 2017 decision by the Supreme Court which declared the commercialization of asbestos unconstitutional in Brazil. The book’s author pointed out that ample evidence about the hazards posed by exposures to asbestos had been amassed years before the Brazilian asbestos sector became established. The Association of the Asbestos-Exposed, founded in 1995, represented the voice of the victims and condemned the industry and demanded recognition, medical treatment and compensation. See: The Strength of Social Movement in Banning of Asbestos in Brazil.
 

Asbestos: Public Health Challenges

Apr 12, 2019

An article and video on the ILO website by Annie Thebaud-Mony, Honorary Research Director of the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research (Inserm), calls for global remedies for the asbestos epidemic which is killing thousands of people around the world every year. Eighty percent of all asbestos produced was mined after 1960 when the hazards associated with asbestos exposures were known. The author calls for trade prohibitions to be implemented and for medical programs to be established not only for asbestos-exposed workers but for family members who may have been exposed to toxic dust brought home on work clothes. See: Asbestos: limitless, endless contamination – with complete impunity.
 

Academic Asbestos Papers

Apr 12, 2019

The five academic papers written in English which are contained in a 31-page monographic section of the current issue of the Annali dell'Istituto Superiore di Sanità [Annals of the Higher Institute of Health] – an Italian peer-reviewed scientific journal about public health – cover a range of asbestos-related topics including: the integration of epidemiological and social sciences research in the study of communities affected by asbestos exposure, communication and health education in at-risk communities in Italy, and narrating and remembering the experiences of affected communities in Italy. See: Annali dell'Istituto Superiore di Sanità, Vol 55, No 1 (2019).
 

Asbestos on the Metro

Apr 9, 2019

On April 8, 2019 – the day of a partial strike by workers on the Barcelona Metro – the CCOO (Spain’s largest trade union) announced at a Barcelona press conference that ~37% of the 802 Barcelona Metro workers who had been medically examined had been diagnosed with asbestos-related diseases or conditions, including 22 with diseases of the larynx, 22 with pleural cancers and 249 with other pathologies. In Madrid, three Madrid Metro workers have died of asbestos-related cancers and two more have been diagnosed. See: Un 37% de trabajadores del metro de Barcelona examinados tienen afectaciones por Amianto [37% of Barcelona metro workers examined have asbestos damage].
 

Asbestos Victims’ Solidarity

Apr 9, 2019

The plight of asbestos-injured workers in Italy and Canada were examined at a meeting on April 8, 2019 in the Canadian town of Peterborough where generations of workers from the plant run by General Electric had routinely been exposed to asbestos. The six Italian delegates were veteran trade union and medical campaigners and an 18 year old student activist from the town of Casale Monferrato, the location of Italy’s largest asbestos-cement factory; they presented information about asbestos medical innovations, community projects, and educational and environmental programs which had been pioneered in their town. See: City hosts delegation from Italian city rocked by asbestos.
 

Ramifications of Asbestos Verdict

Apr 9, 2019

A commentary on the landmark decision handed down by the Supreme Court in France last week explains how the ruling might open the door to compensation claims from people exposed to carcinogens other than asbestos. The April 5 judgment widened access to compensation for “anxiety injury” to individuals negligently exposed to asbestos at all companies, not just those on a government list. In a similar way, people who have been occupationally exposed to heavy metals, ionizing radiation, diesel, used oils and greases may consider bringing claims. See: Après l'amiante, des salariés exposés à d'autres substances cancérogènes pourraient être indemnisés [After asbestos employees exposed to other carcinogenic substances could be compensated].
 

Wittenoom Update 2019

Apr 9, 2019

Politicians in Western Australia (WA) are calling on the former owners and operators of the Wittenoom crocidolite (blue) asbestos mine to contribute to the asbestos remediation of the lethal WA ghost town. According to WA’s Aboriginal Affairs Minister Ben Wyatt, while it is virtually impossible to make the entire area safe for human habitation it might be possible to decontaminate certain areas which are of significance to the Banjima people, the traditional owners of this site and others in the Hamersley Ranges. See: Miners urged to help WA asbestos clean-up.
 

Asbestos Comeback?

Apr 8, 2019

An article in the New York Times on April 7, 2019 examined moves being made to rehabilitate Russian asbestos – including changing the name to chrysotile – by industry stakeholders, politicians, union officials and even doctors from the Russian asbestos monotown of Asbest. Dr. Igor Bragin, from Asbest City Hospital, dismissed 2016 findings that “mortality rates for cancers of the lung, stomach and colon were statistically significantly higher in Asbest city” than in the surrounding region as “not corresponding to reality.” Asbestos executive V. Kochelayev said: “I cannot say it is totally safe… but it can be used in controlled situations without danger.” See: In Asbest, Russia, Making Asbestos Great Again.
 

Supreme Court Decides!

Apr 8, 2019

France’s Supreme Court – the Court of Cassation – handed down a long-awaited verdict on April 5, 2019 which ruled that all workers exposed to asbestos could receive compensation for asbestos anxiety, under certain conditions; the damages are for people worried about past asbestos exposure and not for a specific condition or illness. New categories of eligible claimants would include workers from power stations and the construction and demolition sectors. Previously, only employees from specified companies were eligible to bring such a claim. See: Amiante: la Cour de cassation se prononce sur l'élargissement du préjudice d'anxiété à tous les travailleurs exposés [Asbestos: the Court of Cassation decides on the widening of anxiety harm to all exposed workers].
 

Asbestos Protest in Brasilia

Apr 8, 2019

On Monday, April 1, 2019 a group of around 150 workers from the Cana Brava chrysotile asbestos mine in Minaçu, a city in the Brazilian state of Goiás, demonstrated in front of the Federal Supreme Court in Brasilia to bring pressure on Ministers (Supreme Court Justices) to reinterpret their 2017 decision banning asbestos, in order to allow the mining and export of asbestos to continue. In January 2019 Eternit SA, whose subsidiary SAMA Minerações Associadas owns the mine, announced that it planned to continue exporting asbestos fiber to “the United States, Germany, India, Indonesia, Malaysia and other Asian countries.” See: Trabalhadores da Sama cobram da PGR parecer ao STF [SAMA employees charge PFR opinion to STF].
 

Asbestos Removal Master Plan

Apr 8, 2019

On March 27, 2019, the Government of the region of Navarra in Northern Spain adopted a master plan to rid the area of asbestos-containing material; the only other EU asbestos eradication program similar in scale to this one is in Poland where the Government has set a deadline of 2032 to remove asbestos products. A budget of €245 million has been allocated and the work is to be undertaken between 2020 and 2032. See: Navarra elabora el primer Plan director de eliminación del amianto, mineral cancerígeno especialmente por exposición laboral [Navarra prepares the first Master Plan for the elimination of asbestos, a carcinogenic mineral, especially for occupational exposure].
 

“Realising an Asbestos-free World”

Apr 5, 2019

A meeting in the capital of Nepal on April 2 & 3, 2019 provided the opportunity for trade unionists and civil society campaigners from ten countries across Asia to consider measures to eliminate asbestos use regionally and globally. Commenting on the meeting, ITUC-AP General Secretary Mr Shoya Yoshida said: “The day of an Asbestos-Free World should come and it is up to us to decide when that day would come. Let’s campaign for an Asbestos-Free World to our members, workers, society and governments. This meeting has been a new step toward our goal of an Asbestos-free world.” See: Media Release.
 

WA Asbestos Medic

Apr 5, 2019

An article in the current month’s issue of the Medical Forum magazine, a West Australian (WA) publication, highlights the work of Australian doctor, Dr. Gregory Deleuil, who has been the medical advisor to the Asbestos Diseases Society of Australia (ADSA) for more than thirty years. In this profile, Dr. Deleuil discusses the ground-breaking work done by the ADSA in providing care and counselling across a broad spectrum of society – all the way from the “worried well” to people who have been diagnosed with asbestos cancers including mesothelioma, the signature disease associated with asbestos exposure. See: A Life Devoted To Asbestos Victims.
 

Banning Asbestos in Vietnam

Apr 5, 2019

A feature uploaded to the online Australian publication Mirage News highlighted the work of Union Aid Abroad – APHEDA – in raising the profile of asbestos issues throughout Asia and working with grassroots groups to counter pro-asbestos disinformation, spread knowledge about safer alternatives and share independent, state-of-the-art information about scientific and medical research. The article discussed specific measures implemented in Vietnam to build support for government plans to ban the use of asbestos-cement roofing by 2023; 90% of asbestos consumed in Vietnam goes into the making of roofing sheets. See: Eradicating Asbestos in Vietnam.
 

House of Lords’ Asbestos Statement

Apr 5, 2019

In a written answer issued on April 4, 2019 to a question asked on April 1 by Lord Alton regarding the country’s ongoing epidemic of asbestos disease – which is claiming 5,000 lives every year – Baroness Buscombe, on behalf of the Department of Work and Pensions, wrote: “employers and employees [need] to remain vigilant when undertaking work which may disturb asbestos. The Health and Safety Executive and Local Authority inspectors will continue to take action in cases of non-compliance with the law…” See: Asbestos: Industrial Diseases: Written Answer – HL14926.
 

Asbestos Stalemate in US

Apr 5, 2019

In testimony given before a Senate appropriations committee on April 3, 2019, Andrew Wheeler – head of the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) – refused to support national prohibitions on asbestos. Asked by Senator Tester how long would it take after the EPA’s current risk assessment on asbestos was completed for the EPA to pull asbestos off the market, Wheeler would not “commit to a timetable.” Given the public support for asbestos provided by President Trump on numerous occasions, it is unlikely that the EPA will take any action no matter what the risk assessment concludes. See: In Senate Hearing, EPA’s Wheeler Rejects Call to ban Asbestos, Dodges Risks from PFAS Chemicals.
 

Asbestos Offensive

Apr 5, 2019

A pro-asbestos discourse, masquerading as an impartial news article, was uploaded to a Sri Lankan business portal this week. The text refers to public concerns over the health hazards posed by exposures to chrysotile (white) asbestos as “phobias” and calls the campaigners which express them “devils and goblins.” The author recycles pro-asbestos rhetoric asserting that “to date there are no records of any consumers suffering from health issues caused by these [asbestos] roofing sheets” and states “there is an underhanded ploy to mask the truth about Chrysotile roofing sheets, spread a baseless fear and try to distance the product from the society.” See: The hidden truth about Chrysotile.
 

Asbestos Trade Data

Apr 3, 2019

Aggregated preliminary estimates for the global asbestos trade in 2017 and 2018 have been uploaded to the website of the United States Geological Survey and show a slight decline in annual asbestos production from 1,170,000 tonnes (t) in 2017 to 1,100,000t in 2018. According to the data reported, much of which is based on estimates, in 2018 four asbestos producing countries mined the following tonnages: Russia 650,000t, Kazakhstan 220,000, Brazil 100,000 and China 100,000. Additional data for 2018 – including national consumption figures – should be available later in the year. See: 2019 Asbestos Trade Data by the United States Geological Survey.
 

Asbestos in Schools

Apr 3, 2019

On April 2, 2019, the Lombardy Councillor for Education Melania Rizzoli informed the Regional Council that asbestos was present in 1,127 schools in the region. Although €5 million had been allocated in the region’s 2019 budget for remediation work, the problem of asbestos in schools is a national one and should be attracting funding from the Italian Government, she told the Council. Forty-five buildings were designated as high priority due to the amount and friability of asbestos products on those sites. See: Amianto: in Lombardia presente in oltre mille istituti [Asbestos: in Lombardy present in over a thousand institutions].
 

Mesothelioma in India

Apr 2, 2019

The first case of death from pleural malignant mesothelioma thought to have been caused by domestic / environmental exposure has been reported in India, the world’s largest consumer of asbestos. It is believed that the deceased was exposed to asbestos brought home on the work clothes of his father and brother; likewise, the mother of the deceased has asbestosis from secondary asbestos exposure. Environmental asbestos contamination was also documented in the area surrounding the family home. The authors predict that an epidemic of mesothelioma will reach “alarming proportions” in the coming decades. See: A case from India of pleural malignant mesothelioma probably due to domestic and environmental asbestos exposure: a posthumous report.
 

Toxic Talc in Asia

Apr 2, 2019

A commentary on a recently published academic paper discussed the findings that “large quantities of body talc products are likely to pose a public health risk for asbestos-related diseases, especially for the cancers related to asbestos exposure.” Highlighting the lack of data regarding the impact of asbestos contaminants in personal care products, the authors call for “rigorous” testing of talc used in consumer products in India to ensure it is free of asbestos. See: Indian talc products contain “contaminated” asbestos structures, can cause cancer: Study.
 

Mesothelioma Research: Breakthrough?

Apr 2, 2019

On March 31, 2019, a new protocol for treating mesothelioma tumors was discussed at an American Association for Cancer Research conference in Atlanta, Georgia. CAR T-cell therapy uses a patient’s genetically modified cells to attack blood cancers and solid tumors. A year ago, it was used to treat a Florida mesothelioma sufferer with promising results. In him and other mesothelioma patients on the phase 1 clinical trial, there were no severe side effects. Grants from the US government and foundations paid for the work and a larger study is planned. See: Immune system therapy shows promise fighting cancer.
 

Asbestos Trial in Madrid

Apr 2, 2019

On April 1, 2019, proceedings began in the Labor Court in the first trial concerning an asbestos cancer death of a worker from the Madrid Metro. The family of the deceased (Julian M.R.), who died aged 60 in October 2018, accuse his employer of negligence and claim compensation of €400,000 (US$450,000). Only two deaths of Madrid Metro employees have been officially recognized as occupationally-related; however, the illnesses of two other Madrid Metro employees with asbestos cancer have also been recognized. The company has allocated €140 million for asbestos removal work from the Metro by 2025. See: Madrid metro on trial over asbestos-linked worker death.
 

Asbestos and Public Health

Apr 1, 2019

The lack of local epidemiological evidence demonstrating the adverse health effects of asbestos exposures and the invisibility of the victims of asbestos-related diseases in Latin American countries have been used by vested interests to forestall the implementation of preventative measures and prevent the adoption of national asbestos bans. The authors of the paper below call for “continuous efforts… to stimulate the growth of competent and ethical researchers to convey adequate information to the scientific community and the general public” about the dangers of asbestos technology. See: Prevention of Asbestos Exposure in Latin America within a Global Public Health Perspective.
 

NJ to BAN Asbestos

Apr 1, 2019

On March 25, 2019, the Assembly of the US State of New Jersey (NJ) unanimously passed bill A 4416 which prohibits the sale or distribution of products containing asbestos within the State; a few weeks earlier (February 21) an identical bill had unanimously been passed by the NJ Senate. When signed by Governor Phil Murphy, the legislation will empower NJ’s Department of Environmental Projection to enforce the prohibitions; failure to comply, will result in a financial penalty of $2,500 per offence to negligent companies. See: New Jersey legislature passes asbestos in products ban.
 

Asbestos in Water Delivery System

Apr 1, 2019

Residents of the picturesque village of Cranleigh, 40 miles south of London, are taking action over the presence of asbestos in 30% of the pipes in the water delivery system; up to 20% of the water provided to consumers in England and Wales flows through 37,000 km of aging asbestos cement pipes. The fact that these pipes have reached the end of their 50-70 year lifespan has raised concern in Cranleigh over the potential for contamination of the water delivered through them; according to a US expert: “the ingestion of asbestos causes gastrointestinal tract and kidney cancers.” Campaigners are urging Thames Water, the regional supplier, to replace the toxic pipes. See: Testing the water: asbestos in old pipes raises a call for action.
 

Jail Time for Asbestos Imports

Mar 29, 2019

As of March 27, 2019, anyone who “who knowingly or recklessly” imports asbestos-containing goods to Australia could face up to five years in jail or increased penalties. These steps were announced by the Minister for Home Affairs Peter Dutton who said the Australian Government was determined to do everything possible to protect citizens from deadly asbestos exposures. According to Minister for Jobs and Industrial Relations Kelly O'Dwyer: “In boosting the regulations we are sending a strong, unequivocal message to importers — we will not tolerate the importation of asbestos.” See: Joint Media Release with the Hon. Kelly O'Dwyer, Minister for Jobs and Industrial Relations - Regulation Changes to Strengthen the Asbestos Border Control.
 

Critique of Asbestos Review

Mar 29, 2019

The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) has expressed serious concerns about the contents of the report just released by the Panel to Review the Asbestos Management Program of the University of Toronto. According to a CUPE Communiqué of March 28, 2019: “The University's current abatement procedures ignore best practices worldwide and instead focus on legislative minimum.” In addition, CUPE says, the University’s policy fails to address health concerns of workers and students regarding asbestos abatement on the University’s campuses. See: Asbestos abatement at University of Toronto still an issue, say campus unions.
 

More Asbestos Propaganda?

Mar 29 2019

A notably unbalanced feature article appearing on the “Znak” Information Agency website (a Russian online portal) on March 27, 2019 made reference to Donald Trump’s support for the continued use of chrysotile in the US, reiterated the conspiracy theories about anti-asbestos activists so favoured by pro-industry lobbyists and was uncritical of ongoing efforts by the International Chrysotile Association and others to again prevent the listing of chrysotile as a hazardous substance at the upcoming Rotterdam Convention meeting. More might have been expected of author Dmitry Kolezev: while pointing out that a global ban could affect 250,000 Russians he failed to acknowledge the millions still threatened by asbestos-related diseases. See: Znak марта тематическая статья [Znak March 27 feature artcle].
 

Toxic Personal Care Products

Mar 28, 2019

A paper published in the current issue of the American Journal of Industrial Medicine documented the presence of tremolite asbestos in multiple samples of commercial talc products sourced from India and widely sold throughout Southeast Asia. The authors of this paper asserted that the use of these products was “likely to pose a public health risk for asbestos-related diseases, especially for the cancers related to asbestos exposure” and called for “further investigation to measure public health risks.” (These findings were contrary to those of the Indian Government which recently declared that tests it had commissioned found no asbestos in Johnson & Johnson baby powder.) See (paper): Asbestos in commercial Indian talc.
 

Victims’ Verdict in NSW

Mar 27, 2019

The state government of New South Wales (NSW), Australia has been held to account by Judge W Strathdee of the Dust Diseases tribunal who ruled that it’s negligence led to the mesothelioma death at age 37 of Daniel Ingram in 2013. The landmark case was brought on behalf of his three children: Thomas Smith, Aaliyah Ingram and Daniel Smith. Their lawyer argued that negligence by Housing Commission contractors resulted in Mr Ingram being exposed to asbestos as a child growing up in a Cowra public housing estate in the late 1970s and early 1980s. See: “Huge victory”: three children win David and Goliath case over asbestos death.
 

Pro-Asbestos Propaganda

Mar 27, 2019

As litigation continues in Ukraine to reinstate the national ban on asbestos, propaganda is being circulated asserting that the ban would be a social and economic disaster, as the usage is essential “because the properties of asbestos cement pipes are unique, their advantages over other materials are obvious” and “most of Ukraine’s buildings, both residential and administrative, are covered with slate, which contains chrysotile [asbestos].” “It is obvious,” the article states “that products containing chrysotile asbestos have no analogues in the world, because they are safe, durable and affordable.” See: Запрет асбестоцементных труб: можно ли заменить асбестовые трубы? [Prohibition of asbestos-cement pipes: is it possible to replace asbestos pipes?].
 

Laboratory Asbestos Exposure

Mar 27, 2019

The family of Elizabeth Griggs, who died in April, 2017 from the signature asbestos cancer mesothelioma, has launched a legal action claiming that exposure to asbestos materials associated with bunsen Burner use – primarily asbestos mats and impregnated gauzes – which she handled whilst employed at the Wells Cathedral School in Somerset as a lab technician between 1969 and 2001 caused her illness. According to the Health and Safety Executive, up to 2018 asbestos-containing wire gauze [for use with Bunsen burners] had been on sale for a number of years, despite the asbestos ban adopted in 1999. See: Science lab technician's family launch legal action to find out if she was killed at 79 by asbestos from school Bunsen burners.
 

Commentary: Asbestos Mining

Mar 27, 2019

For 50 years, the operations of the Las Brisas mine, Colombia’s only asbestos mine, has provided employment for people in the Antioquia region in northwest Colombia; currently 250 people work at the mine which produces about 1,000 tons of asbestos per month all of which is shipped overseas primarily to Indonesia and Si Lanka. The mine is to be closed as a ban on asbestos production, use and sale is to be implemented pursuant to a court ruling. Officials claim that no one has been injured by occupational asbestos exposures and that the shutdown will negatively impact on the lives of local people. See: Campamento, el pueblo que se niega a renunciar al asbestos [Campamento, the town that refuses to give up asbestos].
 

Justice Delayed till April 5

Mar 25, 2019

An eagerly awaited ruling by the Court of Cassation regarding the extension of eligibility to compensation (currently valued at between €4,000 and €15,000; US$~4500-$17,000) for anxiety caused by asbestos exposures to all asbestos-exposed workers in France which was scheduled to be handed down on March 22 has been postponed until April 5. Currently, only someone who had been employed in specific companies listed on an official decree has the right to bring such a claim. See: «Travailleurs de l'amiante»: la décision de la Cour de cassation reportée au 5 avril [“Asbestos workers”: the decision of the Court of Cassation postponed to April 5].
 

Court Victory!

Mar 25, 2019

A Labor Court in Bahia, Brazil issued a claimant’s verdict to the family of a worker who had been negligently exposed to asbestos at a thermal insulation factory belonging to the Calorisol company. The deceased had been employed from 1974 to 1976, during which time she handled asbestos-containing products on a daily basis. She was diagnosed in 2014 with mesothelioma and died in 2015, aged 58. The total sum awarded to her surviving family exceeded one million reais (~US$256,175). See: Justiça do Trabalho da Bahia condena a CALORISOL pela morte de trabalhadora por mesotelioma - o câncer do Amianto [Labor Court of Bahia condemns CALORISOL for the asbestos cancer (mesothelioma) death of a worker].
 

Asbestos Manslaughter Convictions

Mar 25, 2019

The Milan Court of Appeals confirmed the guilt of two former managers of the Fibronit di Broni company in a case first heard by a court in Pavia. Michele Cardinale and Lorenzo Mo had been convicted of the manslaughter of 27 Fibronit workers and residents who lived near the site of the company’s factory. The Court of Appeals reduced their prison sentences from 4 years to 3 years and eight months for Cardinale (74) and from 3 years and 4 months to three years for 70-year old Mo. See: Voghera, pene ridotte ai manager Fibronit [Voghera, penalties reduced for Fibronit managers].
 

Ban Asbestos Loopholes

Mar 25, 2019

Even though asbestos was banned in Egypt in 2005, cases of asbestos-related diseases are still being diagnosed and the presence of asbestos within the national infrastructure remains an ongoing risk to citizens. In the absence of mandatory asbestos inventories, the deterioration of older buildings creates hazardous conditions for residents as well as workers and building users. In addition, loopholes to the asbestos ban regulations mean that the import of some asbestos-containing products can continue. See: Asbestos Use in Egypt: a Growing Threat to Public Health?.
 

Industry Attack on UN

Mar 22, 2019

In the run-up to the 2019 meeting of the United Nations’ Rotterdam Convention, the International Chrysotile Association (ICA) – the mouthpiece for global asbestos vested interests – has ratcheted up efforts to block UN action on asbestos. A 28-page document produced by the ICA for just this purpose – Rotterdam Convention COP-9 MEETING – 2019 – rehashes threadbare arguments, carefully crafted by scientists with links to the asbestos industry, and relaunches attacks on international agencies such as the World Health Organizational and the International Labor Organization, which believe that to protect human life asbestos should be banned. See: International asbestos lobby campaigns to undermine UN Convention and deny asbestos harm.
 

Mandatory Asbestos Audits

Mar 22, 2019

On March 20, 2019, the Flemish Parliament mandated that prior to the sale of buildings constructed before 2001, an asbestos inventory must be presented. It has been estimated that buildings and infrastructure in the Flemish Region still contain two million tonnes of asbestos, including many schools built in the 1970s and 1980s. The Flemish government has allocated 7.5 million euros for asbestos removal in schools. See: La Flandre instaure une obligation d’inventaire amiante pour les édifices d’avant 2001 [Flanders introduces an asbestos inventory requirement for pre-2001 buildings].
 

Catalonia’s Asbestos Battle

Mar 22, 2019

According to an interview just published, lawyers at the Ronda Collective, Barcelona have worked to obtain recognition and compensation for citizens injured by occupational, domestic and environmental exposures to asbestos for over 30 years. In collaboration with activists from the Association of the Handicapped and those affected by Asbestos (Region of Murcia), they progress efforts to raise awareness and educate the public about the asbestos hazard. As 2.6m tonnes of asbestos were used in Spain and water delivery systems in all municipalities employ asbestos pipes, there is considerable work to be done. See: Cartagena es una de las zonas con más trabajadores expuestos al amianto de España [Cartagena is one of the areas with the most workers exposed to asbestos in Spain].
 

Asbestos Art Competition

Mar 21, 2019

Three hundred and fourteen students from schools in Kościelisko, Dzianisz and Witów took part in an art competition, the principal theme of which was “the impact of asbestos on health and the environment,” organized by the Kościelisko commune. The aim of the event was to raise asbestos awareness not only amongst children but also amongst their parents and grandparents. Awards were presented to 27 students. The Polish government has set 2032 as the deadline for asbestos decontamination of the national infrastructure. See: Dzieci pokazały jak niebezpieczny jest azbest [Children showed how dangerous asbestos is].
 

Supreme Court Victory

Mar 21, 2019

In a ruling handed down by the US Supreme Court on March 19, 2019, by a 6:3 majority the Court ruled that under maritime law manufacturers had a duty to warn about the dangers posed by asbestos subsequently added onto their products by third parties. The case was brought on behalf of Kenneth McAfee and John DeVries, two Navy veterans, who were exposed to asbestos on ships and developed cancer. As the decision, unfortunately, is limited to maritime law, to be covered an injured party must have been a sailor or employee of a maritime shipping company. See: US Supreme Court ruling: Air & Liquid Systems Corp. et al. v. Devries, individually and as administratrix of the estate of Devries, deceased, et al.
 

Wittenoom: The End

Mar 21, 2019

The infamous West Australian town of Wittenoom, formerly home to thousands of people working at the blue asbestos mine and mill situated there, will be shut down permanently under provisions of the Wittenoom Closure Bill 2019 which will enable compulsory acquisition of the remaining 17 privately owned lots by the government. Politicians have expressed the hope that a settlement can be reached to forestall evictions but one way or the other the time has finally come for Wittenoom. It has been estimated that three million tonnes of asbestos tailings remain in Wittenoom Gorge and throughout the surrounding area. See: State Government to close down Wittenoom.
 

Asbestos in Schools

Mar 21, 2019

Although all educational establishments in France are required to have asbestos technical files detailing where asbestos products are and what state they are in, 30% of primary and kindergarten schools have still not compiled the mandatory audits. Campaigners working to address the widespread contamination of French schools have highlighted the urgent need for these audits to prevent future endangerment of students and staff. In light of the continued failure of the authorities to take this matter seriously, activists have launched a citizens’ survey on asbestos in schools in collaboration with NGOs and asbestos victims’ groups. See: Amiante dans les écoles: lançons une enquête citoyenne! [Asbestos in schools: citizens’ survey!].
 

Asbestos in Bridge’s Rubble

Mar 20, 2019

After traces of asbestos were found on samples taken of debris from the Morandi Bridge – which collapsed in Genoa in August 2018 killing 43 people – plans to use explosives to demolish the remaining structure have been abandoned. A request from trade unionists has asked the public prosecutor to investigate the presence of asbestos on the site. Concern has been raised by the fire brigade about the hazard posed by the asbestos to first responders in the aftermath of the bridge’s collapse last year. See: Ponte Morandi, anche dai vigili del fuoco un esposto sulla presenza di Amianto [Ponte Morandi, also from the fire brigade a statement on the presence of asbestos].
 

Asbestos Use by Chlorine Industry

Mar 20, 2019

The second issue in a two part series about the global chlorine industry has been published that focuses on the situation in Asian countries. Only 5 of the 60 plants in the Phase 2 study used asbestos diaphragm technology along with PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) membrane cells to produce chlorine. One of them was in Saudi Arabia and the other four were in China, where asbestos diaphragms were the most common in chlor-alkali technology until the 2000s. An estimated 18% of the world’s chlor-alkali capacity is based on asbestos diaphragms with 67% of the world’s chlor-alkali production using asbestos diaphragms taking place in the US. See: Chlorine and Building Materials A Global Inventory of Production Technologies and Markets Phase 2: Asia • Including Worldwide Findings.
 

Refugees’ Asbestos Exposure

Mar 20, 2019

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) has reported that dozens of refugees to Australia now living in the Fly Camp settlement on the island of Nauru are being exposed to large quantities of asbestos stored in open shipping containers. The ABC reported that refugees had been “using the asbestos to build sheds.” According to Iranian refugee Ellie Shakiba: “We haven't seen any trucks or anyone who is going to move it. [The Australian Government] knows about it, [a Brisbane construction firm] Canstruct knows about it, but nobody cares.” See: Nauru refugees exposed to asbestos after shipping containers dumped just metres away.
 

Improving Oversight on Cosmetics

Mar 20, 2019

Last week, US Representative Debbie Dingell introduced a bill that would mandate makers of cosmetics marketed to children to provide evidence to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that they are asbestos free or include a written warning to parents about the potential risk. Representative Jan Schakowsky, a co-sponsor of the bill, said that Americans are unaware that personal care products are among the least-regulated items on the market and that the FDA lacks the authority to force the recall of toxic products. See: Kids cosmetics would carry toxin warning label under Dingell bill.
 

Wittenoom Warning

Mar 19, 2019

On March 15, 2019, it was reported that a craze for unusual photos has driven users of various social media platforms to visit the toxic Western Australian town of Wittenoom, the location of the defunct crocidolite (blue) asbestos mine which has been responsible for thousands of deaths amongst former townspeople as well as mine and mill workers. Photos of visitors posing in the town and nearby gorges show them walking on asbestos waste piles and breaking into mine shafts. Commenting on these activities, local politician Rob Paull “strongly” encouraged people not to go to Wittenoom. See: Fears Insta fame driving tourists to WA’s deadly cancer town.
 

Asbestos-Cement Pipes Banned

Mar 19, 2019

After the 2017 asbestos ban adopted by the Ministry of Health of Ukraine was overturned by the Ministry of Justice, action on the human health hazard posed by asbestos has been temporarily forestalled by legal proceedings. In February 2019, the use of asbestos-cement containing pipes for water delivery and sewage was prohibited as per restrictions to state building codes introduced by the Ministry of Regional Development. See: В Украине запретили использование асбестоцементных труб во внешних сетях и канализации [Ukraine has banned the use of asbestos-cement pipes in external networks and sewage].
 

Asbestos Alert to Congress

Mar 19, 2019

In testimony by medical experts and health campaigners given on March 12, 2019 to the US House Oversight and Reform Committee, politicians were warned of the human health hazard posed by asbestos fibers in talc-based cosmetics and personal care products. In light of recent findings of asbestos in cosmetics and make-up sold by the US chain of Claire’s by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), urgent calls were made for increased FDA oversight of talc-based goods “to ensure that products are safe and free from dangerous substances like asbestos before putting them on the market.” See: More Oversight needed for Cosmetics with Talc .
 

Pro-Asbestos Lobby Onslaught

Mar 18, 2019

In a press release by the International Alliance of Trade Union Organizations “Chrysotile” – a Russian-led mouthpiece for the asbestos industry – the decision by the Eurasian Economic Commission to develop a unified position on the international trade of chrysotile asbestos which could be used to block UN efforts to regulate asbestos exports was warmly welcomed. In 2017, a spokesman for the International Alliance for Trade Union Organizations “Chrysotile” supported the objections of representatives from the Russian Federation, Kyrgyzstan, Belarus and Kazakhstan to the inclusion of chrysotile asbestos on a UN list of hazardous products. See: Eurasian Economic Commission Supports Chrysotile Asbestos.
 

Madrid’s Asbestos Shame

Mar 18, 2019

On March 14, the Plenary Assembly of Madrid confirmed that the Metro of Madrid had taken decades to address the issue of asbestos contamination. Due to the company’s inaction, hazardous exposures to workers led to two deaths and two ongoing asbestos-related illnesses. The report concluded: “It has taken 27 years to respond to a problem, 27 years in which more than a hundred workers and users have been in contact with asbestos materials at different levels of exposure.” See: El Pleno de este jueves aprueba el dictamen de comisión de amianto que concluye que Metro tardó 27 años en dar solución [Thursday's plenary session approves opinion of asbestos commission that concludes Metro took 27 years to provide a solution].
 

Asbestos Trends 2019

Mar 18, 2019

Provisional data released in February 2019 by the United States Geological Survey (USGS) showed an almost 6% fall in global asbestos production from 1,170,000 tonnes in 2017 to 1,100,000t in 2018 with decreases in China, Russia and Brazil and a ~14% rise in production in Kazakhstan from 193,000t (2017) to 220,000t in 2018. Unfortunately, as “available information is insufficient to make accurate estimates for many countries” figures for national usage have not been made available. See: USGS Asbestos Data.
 

Quebec’s Asbestos Psychosis

Mar 18, 2019

Asbestos, a carcinogen feared throughout the world, remains a key resource in former Canadian mining towns where entrepreneurs plan to reclaim minerals from mountains of asbestos waste. Warnings by health experts regarding the public and occupational health hazard posed by disturbing 800 million tonnes of toxic waste have been dismissed by businessmen and politicians such as Marc-Alexandre Brousseau, the Mayor of Thetford Mines; asbestos, he says: “is everywhere … but we won’t die of it … My sandbox was filled with it when I was a kid. We went and played in the mountains of [asbestos] sand. We were always in it and there were never any problems.” See: The asbestos legacy: Can mining residues be repurposed safely?.
 

Brazil’s Asbestos Landscape

Mar 18, 2019

An online interview uploaded to mark International Women’s Day highlighted the leadership role played by pioneering engineer and factory inspector Fernanda Giannasi in the battle to ban asbestos in Brazil. Ms. Giannasi explained the paradox whereby even though the Supreme Court declared the asbestos trade unconstitutional, one of its judges took action to allow the mining of asbestos for export to continue. Despite the Court’s ruling, asbestos production continues at the Cana Brava Mine in Minaçu, a city in the Brazilian state of Goiás. See: Fernanda Giannasi e sua luta para banir o Amianto [Fernanda Giannasi and her fight to ban asbestos].
 

One More Claimant’s Verdict!

Mar 15, 2019

After a nine-week trial which began on January 7, a California jury awarded $29 million to Terry Leavitt, a mesothelioma plaintiff who claimed that exposure to asbestos-tainted Johnson & Johnson (J&J) baby powder in the 1960s and 1970s caused her deadly cancer. The company plans to appeal the March 13 verdict, alleging that “serious procedural and evidentiary errors” took place during the proceedings in the superior court in Oakland. J&J is facing more than 13,000 talc-related lawsuits from US claimants. See: Woman awarded $29m in damages in Johnson & Johnson cancer case.
 

Asbestos Ban by 2024!

Mar 15, 2019

On March 4, 2019, a judge in Bogotá ordered that an “action plan” be adopted by the Colombian authorities to phase out asbestos use within five years. The Judge ruled that the Ministry of Labor carry out an “inventory of [all] companies that use asbestos in their production processes.” The decision of the Administrative Court was in response to an action lodged in 2006 by Juan José Lalinde who argued that as the safe use of asbestos was not possible, it’s use should be ended. See: Juez ordena a Minsalud y Mintrabajo diseñar plan para eliminar uso de asbesto en Colombia [Judge orders Minsalud and Mintrabajo to design plan to eliminate asbestos use in Colombia].
 

Court Orders Compensation to Family

Mar 14, 2019

As a result of rulings by the First Labor Court of Pedro Leopoldo in the Brazilian State of Minas Gerais, three surviving heirs of a former worker from a tile factory will each be awarded the sum of (Reals) R$50,000 (US$13,100) for his death from mesothelioma caused by occupational exposure to asbestos. A second lawsuit regarding this death resulted in a verdict awarding the family a further R$100,000 (US$26,215) in moral damages. See: Empresa indenizará família de ex-trabalhador vítima de câncer por exposição ao Amianto [Company will indemnify former worker's family for cancer from asbestos exposure].
 

Asbestos: Who is in Danger?

Mar 13, 2019

Even more than a decade after asbestos was banned in Spain, individuals in communities throughout the country are still being exposed to high levels of asbestos contamination from industrial processing, waste disposal and the widespread use of toxic products. People from Toledo, Murcia, Seville and Madrid interviewed for the feature referenced below spoke of lives lost, health endangered and areas blighted by continued asbestos exposures at home, in schools and at work. See: Las zonas de España más contaminadas por la presencia de Amianto [The areas of Spain most contaminated by the presence of asbestos].
 

Alert: Asbestos in Cosmetics

Mar 12, 2019

Following a statement issued on March 5, 2019 by the US Food and Drug Administration that the presence of asbestos fibers had been confirmed by independent testing in products sold by Claire’s Accessories – Claire’s Eye Shadows (batch/lot No: 08/17), Claire’s Compact Powder (batch/lot No: 07/15) and Claire’s Contour Palette (batch/lot No: 04/17) – the company withdrew nine talc-based cosmetic products from the market out of “an abundance of caution.” The company’s voluntary withdrawal from sale of these goods was followed by a voluntary product recall on March 13. See: Statement from FDA… on tests confirming a 2017 finding of asbestos contamination in certain cosmetic products….
 

Alert: Quebec’s Asbestos Mine Tailings

Mar 11, 2019

In a letter addressed to Quebec’s Minister of Health Danielle McCann published in Le Soleil – the French language newspaper circulated in Quebec City – members of The Asbestos Victims Association of Quebec (AVAQ) expressed “concern about projects to develop tailings in Thetford Mines and Asbestos” and affirmed support for the 2018 warnings given by 18 regional public health directors regarding the potential occupational and public health hazards posed by the uncontrolled processing of asbestos mining waste. See: Il faut protéger la santé de la population [We must protect the health of the population].
 

Asbestos Pollution

Mar 10, 2019

On March 10, it was reported from Karachi that, as a result of charges laid in 2010, the Environmental Protection Tribunal had indicted the top executive of an asbestos-cement pipe factory in Manghopir for causing environmental pollution, and the director general of the Sindh Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) for failing to act. After a complaint had been made regarding pollution arising from the manufacturing operations and the Pakistan Environmental Protection Agency had ordered enquiries to be made, no action was taken by the SEPA official. The proceedings were adjourned after the accused pleaded not guilty; the case will go to trial. See: Pipe factory chief, Sepa DG indicted for causing health hazard.
 

Asbestos Attack on UN

Mar 7, 2019

During February and March discussions were progressed by the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) – a political, military and economic union of countries in central and northern Asia and Eastern Europe, including leading asbestos stakeholders Russia and Kazakhstan – regarding the development of a coordinated policy to combat measures by member states of the UN’s Rotterdam Convention to implement restrictions on the global trade of chrysotile asbestos, an acknowledged carcinogenic substance. See: Строительный «горный лен» попал в осаду Евросоюза [Construction “mountain flax” [asbestos] under siege of the European Union].
 

Scotland’s Asbestos Legacy

Feb 20, 2019

The (online) Guardian article referenced below (in the context of health inequalities in Scotland) points to the deadly effects of the widespread and uncontrolled use of asbestos in the construction industry and shipbuilding on generations of workers and their families – “the families of (asbestos) victims are still fighting against the avarice and inhumanity of the corporate insurance industry” – and the ongoing hazard posed by the presence of asbestos-containing products in 1,600 schools and educational institutions. The author draws particular attention to the decades of campaigning and victim-support work undertaken by the Glasgow-based victims’ group Clydeside Action on Asbestos. See: Asbestos has haunted Scotland for decades – our children are still at risk.
 

Victory for Asbestos Claimants

Feb 8, 2019

The families of three workers (2 from the dockyards and 1 from a hospital) who died from mesothelioma due to workplace asbestos exposures have won lawsuits in the Malta Court. Judge Joseph R. Micallef awarded €10,000, €15,000 and €20,000 respectively to the families for the breach of their rights due to the employers’ negligence in protecting the deceased from toxic exposures and their failure to take “effective precautionary measures” despite the knowledge about the health hazards posed by asbestos use. See: Relatives of workers who died from asbestos-induced illness awarded €45,000. Court rules right of applicants to protection of life had been breached.
 

Asbestos Attack on UN

Feb 8, 2019

Under the umbrella of the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) – representing Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Russia – steps are being progressed to defeat United Nations efforts to regulate the global trade in asbestos under the Rotterdam Convention (RC) which will next meet in Geneva in April-May 2019. Following a meeting in Moscow on February 5, 2019, the Board of the Eurasian Economic Commission announced that EEU members will work together to defeat UN attempts to list chrysotile asbestos on Annex III of the RC. See: Страны ЕАЭС намерены выработать общую позицию по хризотиловому асбесту [EAEU countries intend to develop a common position on chrysotile asbestos].
 

Two Deadly Powders

Feb 8, 2019

An operation at the Port of Santos in Brazil’s São Paulo State uncovered 266 kilograms of cocaine hidden within a shipment of raw asbestos fiber. The joint Federal Police and Customs of the Federal Revenue of Brazil taskforce found the drugs on Friday, February 1. The cargo was destined for Chennai, India – the world’s largest asbestos-importing country – with a stop en route in Antwerp, Belgium. A sniffer dog alerted the officials to the presence of the drug. See: Receita Federal apreende 266 kg de cocaína no Porto de Santos [Federal Revenue seizes 266 kg of cocaine in the Port of Santos].
 

Parliamentary Mesothelioma Debate

Feb 6, 2019

On February 6, 2019, Sarah Newton, Minister for Disabled People, Health and Work, moved that the draft Mesothelioma Lump Sum Payments (Conditions and Amounts) (Amendment) Regulations 2019, laid before the House of Commons on January 15, be approved – they were. The 2019 regs increase the rates of payments set out in the Mesothelioma Lump Sum Payments (Conditions and Amounts) Regulations 2008 by 2.4%; the last uprating for the rates of payment had been on April 1, 2018. MPs – including Dennis Skinner, John Woodcock, Mike Amesbury, Ann Clwyd, Tracy Crouch, Peter Grant and Paul Scully – debated the motion. See: Hansard: House of Commons debate – Social Security.
 

From Mining Town to Ghost Town

Feb 6, 2019

Almost all of the aboriginal men who transported shipments of blue asbestos from the mine at Wittenoom Gorge have died from the asbestos cancer mesothelioma, as have thousands of other people who worked at the now infamous mine in Western Australia or lived in the mine town. Small-scale mining began in the late 1930s in the gorges near Mulga Downs and from 1944 production under the Colonial Sugar Refining Company (CSR) continued for a further 22 years. None of the workers at the mine or people in the community were informed of the human hazards of exposures to asbestos. See: How mesothelioma devastated this Indigenous community in the Pilbara.
 

Update: Madrid Metro

Feb 6, 2019

The Collective Trade Union of Machinists of Madrid Subway (SCMM) has criticized the Chief Executive Officer of the Madrid Metro Borja Carabante who has, over the last two years, failed to deliver the quality and level of services deserved by the company’s passengers and staff. The SCMM highlights the decrease in the workforce and rolling stock including 50 trains which are out of service due to asbestos contamination. The lack of rolling stock has led to “chaos and crowds in suburban stations, causing serious situations of lack of security.” See: El SCMM denuncia “la mala gestión” de Borja Carabante: 50 trenes paralizados por el Amianto [SCMM denounces “the bad management” of Borja Carabante: 50 trains paralyzed by asbestos].
 

Honoring the Asbestos Dead

Feb 6, 2019

A proposal to erect a monument commemorating those whose lives had been sacrificed to asbestos is working its way through the municipal legislature of Osasco, formerly the center of Brazil’s asbestos-cement sector, under the sponsorship of Mayor Rogério Lins. Thousands of workers and members of the public had died in Osasco from asbestos-related diseases and it was in Osasco in 1995 that the Brazilian Association of the Asbestos-Exposed was formed. See: Projeto prevê monumento às vítimas do amianto em Osasco [Project proposes monument to asbestos victims in Osasco].
 

Toxic Talc

Feb 5, 2019

Government and industry specialists have admitted that Bangladesh lacks the capacity to test samples of Johnson & Johnson (J&J) baby powder for the presence of asbestos. Until such time as the authorities in India report on the tests they are currently undertaking, no action will be taken in Bangladesh to forestall or curtail imports. Sri Lanka has banned imports of J&J baby powder. India's drugs regulator ordered J&J to stop manufacturing baby powder in two of its factories until test results show it is free of asbestos. See: Bangladesh fails to test Johnson and Johnson Baby Powder for asbestos.
 

Asbestos Remediation: Schools

Feb 5, 2019

The potential risk posed by the continued presence of asbestos-containing products in hundreds of schools in Algeria was the subject of a question asked in Parliament. Answering the question, Minister of National Education Nouria Benghabrit-Remaoun Benghabrit reassured colleagues that the Ministry of Education in collaboration with the Ministry of Finance would be taking “preventive measures” to address the situation. See: Amiante dans les ecoles: La ministre de l’Éducation Nationale réagit [Asbestos in schools: Algerian Minister of Education reacts].
 

Asbestos at Dry Dock

Feb 5, 2019

Judge Alberto La Mantia from the second civil section of the Court of Genoa, Italy has awarded the sum of €670,000 in a civil case against the Ministry of Defense (MoD) to the wife and two children of a worker from the naval military arsenal at La Spezia who died in 2012 (aged 62) from mesothelioma contracted from occupational exposure to asbestos. The deceased had worked as a carpenter at the MoD’s dry dock in La Spezia from 1967 to 1994. The Judge ruled that the MoD had been negligent in failing to prevent toxic workplace exposures. See: Amianto, ministero condannato [Asbestos, ministry condemned].
 

Free Asbestos Removal

Feb 5, 2019

Residents from the Polish commune of Jerzmanowice-Przeginia, a rural area in southern Poland, are being encouraged by the Mayor to submit requests for the free collection of asbestos-containing products under a municipal contract financed by the Regional Operational Program of the Małopolska Voivodship; as per the program, collections are available throughout the year (2019). See: Akcja usuwania azbestu w Jerzmanowicach-Przegini [Asbestos removal campaign in Jerzmanowice-Przegini].
 

Asbestos Propaganda

Feb 4, 2019

In an article published online on January 31, 2019 by Andrei Golm, Co-President of the Russian non-profit organization Chrysotile [Asbestos] Association, Golm reassured consumers and workers that: “Scientists and doctors from Russia and other countries agree: chrysotile asbestos is safe for controlled use” and that “chrysotile (white) asbestos with controlled use does not pose a threat to health.” In addition, Golm noted: “Products made of chrysotile cement are approved for use in construction in the Russian Federation in accordance with the hygienic standards GN 2.1.2 / 2.2.1.1009-00 approved by the chief sanitary doctor of Russia.” See: 6 самых важных фактов об асбесте [6 most important facts about asbestos].
 

Italy’s Asbestos Legacy

Feb 4, 2019

In Casale Monferrato, the town at the center of Italy’s asbestos scandal, one person is diagnosed every week with the asbestos cancer, mesothelioma. The hospice which provides caring for the injured is at the heart of the community and undertakes outreach work with schools and the public to ensure that the history of industrial abuse caused by the operations of the Eternit asbestos-cement factory remains part of the daily discourse. This article highlights the work of healthcare and other professionals who provide the care and outlines plans to increase the services on offer and the compensation to the victims. See: Reportage. A Casale Monferrato, tra gli “angeli” dell'amianto [Reportage. In Casale Monferrato, among the "angels" of asbestos].
 

Asbestos Alert: Quebec

Feb 4, 2019

A 23-page submission by AVAQ – Association des victimes de l'amiante du Québec [the Association of Quebec Asbestos Victims] – to the Quebec government recaps the history of occupational asbestos exposure in Quebec and concludes with facts detailing the current situation in which Quebec’s allowable occupational exposure limits to asbestos– despite vocal protests from provincial experts and civil society groups – remain far higher than those elsewhere. AVAQ calls for an immediate lowering of the exposure limit to 0.1 f/cc with a further decrease to 0.01 f/cc as soon as possible. See: Mémoire de l’AVAQ au comité de révision de la RSST.1 – Amiante [AVAQ submission to the RSST.1 review committee – Asbestos].
 

Asbestos Mortality in Italy

Feb 4, 2019

A paper published in December 2018 was based on a retrospective study of 188 subjects who died from asbestos-related diseases in Italy in 2000-2017; most of the deceased had worked and/or lived in Broni, Italy, where the Fibronit company operated a large asbestos-cement factory from 1932 until 1993. Amongst the asbestos-exposed factory workers, most of whom were men, the majority died from mesothelioma although some died from asbestosis; however, each of the 73 women, whose exposures were either environmental or via household contact, died from mesothelioma. See: Impact of asbestos on public health: a retrospective study on a series of subjects with occupational and non-occupational exposure to asbestos during the activity of Fibronit plant (Broni, Italy).
 

Scandal: US Asbestos Exemptions

Feb 1, 2019

The Attorneys General (AGs) from 15 US states are petitioning the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to introduce a mandatory reporting rule that will require US asbestos importers to furnish the EPA with more data on its use; currently, asbestos importers are exempt from having to provide the EPA with information about imports of raw asbestos or products containing it. The AG from Massachusetts Maura Healey said: “Each year, tens of thousands die from exposure to asbestos. We urge Acting Administrator Wheeler to issue a rule that will protect the lives of thousands of workers, families and children in Massachusetts and across the country.” See: 15 AGs petition Trump administration to draft asbestos rule.
 

Ban on Baby Powder Imports

Feb 1, 2019

The Reuters news agency has reported that Sri Lanka has embargoed the imports of Johnson & Johnson (J&J) Baby Powder until J&J India, which exports the popular product to Sri Lanka, provides evidence that the baby powder is free from asbestos. The import license held by the distributor of J&J baby powder in Sri Lanka – A.Baur & Co – expired in December 2018 and will not be renewed until “quality reports from an accredited laboratory to ensure there is no asbestos in their products” are provided, said Kamal Jayasinghe, chief executive of Sri Lanka’s National Medicine Regulatory Authority. See: Exclusive: Sri Lanka halts imports of Johnson & Johnson Baby Powder pending asbestos tests.
 

Mesothelioma: Personalized Treatment

Feb 1, 2019

The Mesothelioma Stratified Therapy (MiST) trial, into the use of personalized treatment for mesothelioma, has opened in Leicester Hospital under the aegis of Professor Dean Fennell, Chair of the Mesothelioma Research Programme at the University of Leicester and scientific lead for the MiST trial. Explaining the rationale for the new protocols, Professor Fennel said: “By matching new drugs to the individual’s type of mesothelioma, for the first time, we have an unparalleled opportunity to rationally choose drugs most likely to control a patient’s mesothelioma. We hope that MiST will accelerate advances in extending survival and quality of life for patients with this aggressive cancer.” See: Treat mesothelioma: Medical trial opens to treat asbestos-related cancer.
 

Toxic Talc: Update

Feb 1, 2019

On January 29, 2019, U.S. Senator Patty Murray – the top Democrat on the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions – sent a letter to Johnson & Johnson (J&J) asking for information related to allegations that for decades the company had known about the presence of asbestos in its talc-based baby powder but had nevertheless continued to sell this product. A spokesman for the company acknowledged receipt of Murray’s letter which requested documents and information related to testing of J&J talc products for the presence of carcinogens and “how it presented that information to regulators and consumers.” See: US senator asks J&J for documents on talc, baby powder safety.
 

Canada’s Asbestos Ban

Jan 29, 2019

The process by which Canada banned asbestos and the multiple exceptions which the regulations allow are the subject of a blog by Canadian activist Fe De Leon who highlighted exemptions for the: processing of asbestos mining waste in Quebec; nuclear industry till 2023; chlor-alkali industry for 11 years. Fe de Leon is “convinced that Canada needs a national asbestos strategy that includes the creation of a registry for exposed workers and buildings containing asbestos, alongside the establishment of an expert review panel to deliberate on issues related to legacy asbestos.” See: Moving Forward on Asbestos in Canada.
 

Asbestos in Schools

Jan 29, 2019

One hundred and thirty-four schools in the Murcia Region of Spain have asbestos-cement roofing. Despite assurances from the Ministry of Education that “there is no danger to the health of citizens if the material containing asbestos has not suffered any kind of damage”, parents and trade unionists are demanding that urgent action be taken to remove the toxic substance. Thirty-four of the affected schools are located in the town of Cartagena with 32 in Murcia, 11 in Molina de Segura, 5 in San Javier, 5 in Eagles, 4 in Mula and 4 in Alhama de Murcia. See: Miles de niños murcianos bajo el Amianto [Thousands of children in Murcia under asbestos [roofs]].
 

Asbestos Alert at Schools

Jan 29, 2019

An alert has been issued over the potential hazard posed by deteriorating asbestos products in 120 schools in Western Australia (WA). While WA’s Department of Education (DoE) has provided $6m for 2018-2020 for the removal of higher-risk asbestos-containing materials from public schools, Victoria has invested $200 million to remove asbestos from schools by 2020; Queensland has spent $18 million and South Australia $15m. Although WA’s DoE admits that “where an asbestos-containing material becomes damaged… or has deteriorated to the extent that it presents a potential risk to human health, it is replaced under controlled conditions with a non-asbestos product”, it seems in no hurry to do so. See: High risk asbestos in WA schools.
 

Asbestos Manslaughter Trial

Jan 29, 2019

On April 12, 2019, the latest of several Italian trials against international asbestos businessmen is due to commence in a court in Naples. Swiss asbestos billionaire Stephan Schmidheiny is facing charges of manslaughter over cancer deaths of six former workers from the Eternit factory in Bagnoli, Naples and two relatives who were exposed to the company’s asbestos. He will be tried in the Naples Court of Assizes which consists of two professional judges and six lay judges. The Court has jurisdiction to judge crimes with a maximum penalty of at least 24 years imprisonment such as terrorism and murder. See: Eternit ex-CEO indicted in asbestos-linked deaths.
 

Shipyard Victory

Jan 28, 2019

Following legal action by asbestos-injured workers taken in 2015 against Malta’s Director General of Public Health, the CEO of the Occupational Health and Safety Authority and the Attorney General, a Maltese civil court has awarded compensation of €3,000 (each) to 17 former shipyard workers or their families for occupational asbestos exposures. The court ruled that: “the Maltese Government knew or ought to have known of the dangers arising from exposure to asbestos at least as from the early 1970s.” The defendants had argued that the applicants could not prove that shipyard exposures to asbestos had caused their health problems. See: Ex-shipyard workers awarded compensation for asbestos exposure.
 

Asbestos and Public Health

Jan 28, 2019

On January 22, 2019, delegates from communes in Mai Chau – a rural district of Hòa Bình Province in Northwest Vietnam – took part in activities to raise awareness about the public health asbestos hazard pursuant to plans for banning imports of chrysotile asbestos by 2023. The workshop was organized by the Provincial Farmers’ Association and Australia’s Union Aid Abroad; addressing the meeting were members of the local community as well as scientists from the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Science and Technology and the Center for Communication Development. See: Truyền thông nâng cao nhận thức về amiăng trắng tới sức khỏe cộng đồng [Communication to raise the awareness of chrysotile (asbestos risk) to public health].
 

Toxic Flasks

Jan 28, 2019

Five brands of thermos flasks containing asbestos, a substance banned in Kuwait, were being sold in Kuwait according to the Ministry of Commerce and Industry (MOCI); following an alert issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the MOCI took a variety of actions which included summoning the representatives of the importing companies to Ministry headquarters; initiating legal action to punish the contravention of import prohibitions and prevent the imports of additional contaminated goods. A list of the five products is being circulated to appropriate stakeholders so that all the toxic flasks are withdrawn from sale as a matter of priority. See: Asbestos material used in 5 types of thermos – MOCI halts sales and import.
 

Commentary: Brazil’s Asbestos Legacy

Jan 28, 2019

The invisibility of Brazilian asbestos victims – exacerbated by confidential settlements and the lack of epidemiological data – and the failure to enforce the Supreme Court’s landmark 2017 judgment declaring the asbestos trade unconstitutional are just two of the many factors preventing the national asbestos dialogue from achieving the priority status it warrants as the “ industrial catastrophe of the twentieth century.” It is believed that one million Brazilians have been occupationally and environmentally exposed to asbestos. See: Até Quando o Amianto Occupara as Pautas Sócio-político-ambientais no Brasil? [When will asbestos conform to the socio-political-environmental guidelines in Brazil?].
 

Professor at Large

Jan 25, 2019

An article about the work of Professor David Egilman highlights the impact of his work to document corporate crimes – including those which exposed workers and member of the public to asbestos – over a 35 year career. “He is,” said one colleague “outspoken, unorthodox, brilliant – and driven to right wrongs.” Also discussed is the fate of a renowned publication – the International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health – that had been edited by Egilman for many years before it was acquired by a publisher who terminated Egilman's contract and withdrew a peer-reviewed paper by him that the journal had already published. An action that resulted in the resignation of the entire editorial board. See: Expert witness David Egilman wins billions—and makes enemies—as he fights companies over public health.
 

Mesothelioma Compensation

Jan 25, 2019

In a written statement to Parliament on January 23, 2019, Sarah Newton, Minister of State, Department for Work and Pensions, announced that active UK insurers will be required to pay a levy of £39.8 million for the year 2018-19 by the end of March 2019 to finance the Diffuse Mesothelioma Payment Scheme (DMPS) – a scheme of last resort for sufferers unable to trace their employer or their employer’s insurer – under which 1,000 mesothelioma sufferers have been awarded compensation totalling £133.8m since April 2014. See: Diffuse Mesothelioma Payment Scheme (Levy) 2018-19 . Department for Work and Pensions written statement –23rd January 2019.
 

Mesothelioma Discovery

Jan 25, 2019

According to a paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, researchers at the University of Turin working in collaboration with other scientists have identified new molecules that inhibit the growth of malignant pleural mesothelioma tumor cells. In addition to blocking the progression of the tumor, these molecules can enhance the anti-tumor action of chemotherapy drugs such as pemetrexed in the treatment of this asbestos-related cancer. See: Amianto, scoperte molecole contro il mesotelioma pleurico [Asbestos, discovery of molecules that inhibit pleural mesothelioma].
 

Non-occupational asbestos exposure

Jan 25, 2019

Research conducted to evaluate the association between mesothelioma and non-occupational asbestos exposure found that there was a “a positive and strong association between non-occupational asbestos exposure and the risk of mesothelioma. The summarized relative risk estimates vary by types of exposure (neighborhood exposure, domestic exposure, and household exposure) but for all there is an elevated risk of mesothelioma.” The researchers concluded that: “Non-occupational asbestos exposure is significantly associated with an elevated risk of mesothelioma.” See: Association between mesothelioma and non-occupational asbestos exposure: systematic review and meta-analysis.
 

Alert: Asbestos in Schools

Jan 23, 2019

The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) is “seriously concerned” about an information vacuum regarding asbestos in schools after 23% of schools in England failed to comply with a 2018 request from the Department of Education (DfE) to report how much asbestos remained in their buildings and what measures were in place to manage it. The PAC told MPs that schools which had not reported back should be “named and shamed”. Commenting on this situation on behalf of the National Education Union, Kevin Courtney said: “Failure to provide the DfE with information about management of asbestos in schools is putting lives at risk.” See: Schools failing to report asbestos details.
 

Asbestos Documentary

Jan 23, 2019

On January 19, 2019, a documentary film entitled “The revenge of Casale Monferrato” was shown in the city of Lamezia Terme in southern Italy. Present at the screening was director Rosy Battaglia, who said: “With this documentary we want to trigger a discussion in order to mobilize public awareness and consider what needs to be done to change things.” “Asbestos”, she said “is a problem that concerns the whole of Italy, as well as Calabria.” See: Lamezia, Docu-inchiesta "La rivincita di Casale Monferrato": città liberata dall'amianto. Dati ancora allarmanti in Calabria [Lamezia, Docu-investigation "The revenge of Casale Monferrato": city liberated from asbestos. Still alarming data in Calabria].
 

Europe’s Asbestos Catastrophe

Jan 23, 2019

A publication released in December 2018, by Eurogip – a French organization which investigates issues related to insurance, prevention of accidents at work and occupational diseases at the European and International level – highlighted the terrible price paid for asbestos use in Europe: “In every country except Germany, cancers due to asbestos dust accounted for the overwhelming majority of cancers recognized as an occupational disease in 2016. For example, mesotheliomas represented more than 30% of occupational cancers in Denmark, 50% in Austria and Italy, 65% in Belgium and around 90% in Sweden.” See: Incidence and detection of occupational cancers in nine European countries.
 

Toxic Talc in Turkey

Jan 21, 2019

Turkish specialists in asbestos analysis concerned about the possible contamination of talcum powder sold in their country in the aftermath of the Johnson & Johnson scandal over asbestos found in baby powder sold in the US have tested four brands of talcum powder and found that each one of them was contaminated with asbestos. The Istanbul association which undertook this research said this was a preliminary investigation and a comprehensive report will be produced following further testing. See: Türkiye’de 4 pudra markasından asbest çıktı! [Asbestos in 4 powder brands in Turkey!].
 

Remembering the Asbestos Fallen

Jan 21, 2019

At a high profile ceremony attended by many local and regional dignitaries, Giovanni Bellistri, the mayor of the town of Terruggia in the Italian Piedmont region, inaugurated Memory Park (“Parco della Memoria”) in Casale Monferrato, the iconic town at the center of Italy’s asbestos scandal. Unveiled during the ceremony was a stele commemorating the people whose lives had been lost to asbestos-related diseases. During his remarks, Mayor Bellistri pointed out that more people in the region had died from asbestos than had been killed [from the region] during the first and second world wars. See: Terruggia Monf. Inaugurato “Parco della Memoria” [Terruggia Monf. Inaugurated “Memory Park”].
 

Asbestos Remediation Program

Jan 21, 2019

According to the Netherlands’ State Secretary of Infrastructure and Public Works Stientje van Veldhoven anyone without the financial means to remove an asbestos roof will soon be able to claim state funds to do so. This, and other measures, were implemented so that the national target of removing all asbestos roofs by 2024 could be met; asbestos was banned in the Netherlands in 1993. To date, 12+ million square meters of asbestos roofs have been remediated; 80 million square meters of asbestos roofs remain. See: Opruimen van asbestdaken verdubbeld, nieuw fonds in 2019 [Clearing asbestos roofs doubled, new funds in 2019].
 

Asbestos Mine Reinvention

Jan 18, 2019

The Canadian Government has awarded $3.6 million for the development of tourist facilities related to the former asbestos mine in Thetford Mines, Quebec, including the upgrading of an existing asbestos museum, the addition of new outdoor spaces and the installation of new lighting systems. The funding, being provided as a grant by Canada Economic Development for Quebec Regions, was announced on January 17, 2019 by Pablo Rodriguez, Minister of Canadian Heritage and Multiculturalism and Member of Parliament for Honoré-Mercier. Critics have questioned the wisdom of encouraging tourists to visit a region with elevated levels of airborne asbestos. See: Historic Center of the King [asbestos] mine will be able to finalize the development of its facilities.
 

Asbestos Alert in Brazil

Jan 18, 2019

Asbestos is a hot button topic in Brazil. In an extended interview (see: The fiber of the devil) published this week, ban asbestos campaigner Brazilian Engineer Fernanda Giannasi highlighted the public health emergency caused by decades of asbestos exploitation in Brazil and condemned the impasse caused by the Supreme Court’s failure to take action to shut down the asbestos trade despite its November 2017 ruling. Meanwhile, an article recently uploaded to the health surveillance website of Rio Grande do Sul state contains information about a system being set up to monitor the health of former workers from an asbestos cement plant. See: Vigilância fará estudo sobre exposição ao amianto em ex-trabalhadores de indústria [Surveillance to conduct study on asbestos exposure in former industrial workers].
 

Asbestos Deaths: Homicide Charges

Jan 18, 2019

Turin public prosecutor Gianfranco Colace is calling for Swiss asbestos billionaire Stephen Schmidheiny to be jailed for seven years for the aggravated culpable homicide of a former worker and a member of the public, both of whom were poisoned by asbestos dust from the Eternit factory in Cavagnolo (Turin), Italy. The maximum sentence is being sought, explained lawyer Laura D’Amico, because, it is alleged, Schmidheiny violated occupational health and safety rules and because he knew that by doing so there could be grave consequences for people exposed to the company’s asbestos. See: Stephan Schmidheiny merita la pena massima [Stephan Schmidheiny deserves the maximum penalty].
 

Asbestos Critique

Jan 16, 2019

In a notification issued to shareholders on January 10, 2019, Eternit SA announced that it had stopped using asbestos in the production of tiles, thereby bringing an end to asbestos manufacturing in Brazil. Commenting on Eternit’s plans to continue mining asbestos for export, Veteran ban asbestos campaigner Fernanda Giannasi condemned the failure of the Supreme Court to implement its November 2017 ruling outlawing Brazil’s asbestos trade; through its inertia, the mining and export of asbestos was continuing. See: Eternit interrompe produção nacional de amianto, mas continuará exportando; vitória de Pirro graças ao STF, critica Fernanda Giannasi [Eternit halts domestic asbestos production, but will continue to export; a pyrrhic victory thanks to STF, criticizes Fernanda Giannasi].
 

National Removal Strategy

Jan 16, 2019

To date, Rwanda’s asbestos remediation program begun in October 2009 to remove toxic roofing from both public and private buildings has succeeded in clearing 56% of the country, with only financial restraints impeding further progress. According to Eric Kananga, Acting Coordinator of Asbestos Removal Project at Rwanda Housing Authority (RHA), if the required budget – nearly Rwf4.9 billion – was allocated, the program could be completed up by the end of 2021. The steps taken to mobilize and train asbestos removal contractors, develop protocols for safe removal, establish dumpsites and reach out to stakeholders is discussed. See: Financial constraints slow asbestos removal.
 

Asbestos in the Navy

Jan 16, 2019

In Italy, a tidal wave of outrage has greeted the acquittal, after more than ten years of legal proceedings, of eight retired admirals – former heads of the naval squad, maritime health care, naval arms management – charged with manslaughter over hundreds of asbestos deaths of sailors and civilian personnel. The ruling by Judge Chiara Bitoz of the Padua court found that as the causal link between exposure and pathology had not been scientifically proven, the criminal charges of manslaughter were vacated. See: Navi della Marina imbottite di amianto, centinaia di militari morti: “Siamo carne da macello” [Navy ships filled with asbestos, hundreds of dead soldiers: “We were meat for slaughter”].
 

Ban Asbestos Dynamics

Jan 16, 2019

An essay about the ongoing battle to ban asbestos in Colombia considers the current status of asbestos ban legislation, local plans to ban asbestos and national asbestos mortality data. A draft bill calling for the implementation of national prohibitions by 2023 was passed in the Senate in 2018 and is due to be debated by the House of Representatives in 2019. According to the President of Ascolfibras, the Colombian Association of Fibers: “Nowadays, none of the construction materials industries in Colombia use asbestos fibers to manufacture their products, and the friction products industries (brakes) are able to suspend their use at any time.” See: Prohibición del asbesto no afectaría a industria nacional [Prohibition of asbestos would not affect national industry].
 

Asbestos Awareness

Jan 14, 2019

From January 12 to 14, 2019 there have been a series of activities in Yangon, Myanmar to raise awareness of the asbestos hazard to workers as well as members of the public. Amongst the organizations backing these events were: the Confederation of Trade Unions Myanmar (CTUM), the Building and Woodworkers’ International, the Solidarity Center, the Asian Ban Asbestos Network (ABAN) and the Italy-Burma Foundation (Italia-Birmania Insieme). Officials from the Myanmar Government and World Health Organization participated, as did academics, trade unionists, technical and other experts from Myanmar, Italy and Japan. More soon. See: Group photo.
 

Double Standards

Jan 14, 2019

Responding to consumer demand and market forces, Brazil’s one-time asbestos giant Eternit S.A. has announced that it will no longer manufacture asbestos-containing building products for sale in the domestic market. It will, however, continue to mine chrysotile asbestos fiber at Brazil’s sole remaining mine in the city of Minaçu, Goiás State for export to “dozens of countries” including “the United States, Germany, India, Indonesia, Malaysia and other Asian countries”. See: Eternit deixa de usar amianto em seus produtos e mina produzirá só para exportação [Eternit stops using asbestos in its products and mine will produce only for export].
 

Asbestos in the Metro

Jan 14, 2019

Asbestos remediation work begun in February 2018 by Metro de Madrid – on the stations of Suanzes, Canillejas, Torre Arias, Príncipe de Vergara, Gran Vía, Pavones, Portazgo, Avenida de la Paz, Pyramids, Camp, Las Muses and Vinateros – has resulted in the decontamination of 12 of the company’s 55 stations. Expenditure on the asbestos removal has, to date, been €26 million; a further €114m has been allocated to complete the program which has a deadline of 2025. Trade unionists have condemned the progress as too “slow”; the Public Prosecutor of the Community of Madrid is investigating crimes against Metro workers. See: 12 de las 55 estaciones de Metro afectadas, ya están libres de Amianto [12 of the 55 affected Metro stations are already free of asbestos].
 

Asbestos in City Hall

Jan 14, 2019

Asbestos contamination of the city hall in Laval, Quebec – formerly the province in which most of Canada’s asbestos was produced – has prevented much needed renovation work being done to improve accessibility, modernize facilities and upgrade the 1964 building. Asbestos-containing products were used for decorative finishes, plastering, floor tiles and pipe insulation and building users have been warned that although “it is advisable not to drill walls and ceilings containing asbestos … there is no immediate risk to the health of people working there”. The relocation of staff to alternative premises for up to 2 years for renovations and asbestos removal to be done has been discussed. No decisions have been made. See: L’amiante freine les rénos de l’hôtel de ville [Asbestos slows down renovations at City Hall].
 

Asbestos and Oesophageal Cancer

Jan 11, 2019

Spain’s Supreme Court has rejected an appeal by the country’s former asbestos giant Uralita of a ruling by the Superior Court of Justice of Catalonia which concluded that a man who died from cancer of the esophagus had contracted this disease as a result of continued occupational asbestos exposure. Although the link between asbestos exposure and cancer of the esophagus is not officially recognized in Spain, the Supreme Court agreed that there was “sufficient scientific evidence” that exposure to asbestos could cause several cancers including oesophageal for the Court to uphold this verdict. See: El Tribunal Supremo avala que el amianto también causa cáncer de esófago [The Supreme Court endorses that asbestos also causes esophageal cancer].
 

Asbestos Cancer in Mongolia

Jan 11, 2019

A new scanner for creating slide images of histology tissue specimens has been acquired by Mongolia’s National Pathology Center (NPC) under the 2018-2020 project entitled “Improving Capacity of Diagnosing Lung Diseases Associated with Asbestos Dust at an Early Stage” which is run jointly by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the NPC. According to a press report: “The scanner can detect asbestos-related lung disease, which is increasing in Mongolia according to recent studies, at an early stage using a microscope.” Although the Government of Mongolia banned asbestos on July 14, 2010, this prohibition was cancelled on June 8, 2011. See: Device for detecting asbestos-related lung disease at early stage presented.
 

Asbestos Remediation of Schools

Jan 11, 2019

At a meeting in Johannesburg on January 8, 2019 to outline this year’s plans for Gauteng’s schools, Provincial Education MEC (Member of the Executive Council) Panyaza Lesufi announced that his department plans to borrow almost R8.5 billion to eliminate 17 mobile classrooms and asbestos contamination of the province’s schools within 5 years. Hopolang Selebalo, from the NGO Equal Education, criticized Gauteng’s failure to meet a 2016 mandatory deadline for eradicating asbestos contamination of schools; as a result, Selebalo said pupils are attending “unsafe schools, made of a substance known to have severe health consequences. It’s crucial that these schools be replaced as soon as possible”, Selebalo added. See: Gauteng plans to borrow billions for new schools.
 

Asbestos in the Mail

Jan 9, 2019

Emergency services in Australia have attended more than 10 incidents at consulates in Melbourne and Canberra where “suspicious packages” were found, some of which – like the one sent to the New Zealand consulate – had the word asbestos written on them. The US, Greek, French, Italian, Indian, New Zealand, Pakistani, Spanish, South Korean and Swiss consulates in Melbourne were amongst those targeted. Two days ago, the Argentinian consulate in Sydney received 3 bags containing asbestos and fibreglass. Investigations are ongoing. See: Police investigating after consulates and embassies in Melbourne and Canberra receive suspicious packages.
 

Toxic Talc

Jan 9, 2019

On January 7, 2019, opening statements were made in an Oakland, California court in the latest case brought over asbestos contamination of Johnson & Johnson (J&J) baby powder. The lawsuit was brought on behalf of mesothelioma sufferer Terry Leavitt; she was born in the Philippines and believes that she was exposed to J&J cosmetic talc from South Korea mines as a baby. Her lawyer Joe Satterley told the jury: “testing of Asian talc samples from the 1960s and 1970s by his own expert would show Korean-mined talc tested positive for asbestos fibers, as has talc from U.S. Sources”. See: Latest trial in J&J talc litigations gets under way in California.
 

Asbestos on the Metro

Jan 9, 2019

As a result of an extensive medical screening program conducted on 600 employees of the Barcelona Metro system, five workers were diagnosed with the asbestos-related condition of pleural plaques; although the plaques are asymptomatic, the health of the individuals diagnosed will be monitored by staff at the Vall d'Hebron Hospital Pneumology Service. The company admits that as medical tests are yet to be carried out on 200 more asbestos-exposed employees, there may be more cases of affected workers. See: Cinco trabajadores del metro de Barcelona, afectados por Amianto [Five workers of the Barcelona metro, affected by asbestos].
 

Asbestos Remediation

Jan 9, 2019

Action is being taken pursuant to an order by Kenya’s National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA) to replace the asbestos roof of the Nanyuki Boys High School in Laikipia County due to “the serious risks of cancer posed by asbestos”. Fanuel Mosago, Laikipia county NEMA director, warned that water collected from the roof can cause cancer and advised “anyone else with asbestos roofing to remove it and seek guidance so that they don’t cause harm to other people when disposing” the toxic waste. According to this article, Kenya banned asbestos in 2006. See: Nanyuki School to Replace Asbestos Roof.
 

Asbestos and Urban Transformation

Jan 9, 2019

Asbestos liberated by demolition and remediation contractors engaged in Turkey’s urban transformation is continuing to endanger occupational and public health on a daily basis. Inspectors tasked with ensuring asbestos removal work is conducted according to health and safety protocols, reported multiple incidents of illegal dumping in forests and elsewhere of asbestos waste from demolition sites. Only 14 of Istanbul’s 39 districts require “asbestos free certificates” prior to the demolition of buildings;it is believed that two thirds of Istanbul’s old buildings contain asbestos. Prior to banning asbestos, 500,000 tonnes of asbestos were used in Turkey. See: Asbest hilesi [Asbestos fraud].
 

Victims’ Supreme Court Ruling

Jan 7, 2019

Spain’s Supreme Court has upheld a 2016 ruling awarding €260,000 to the families of four women who died from asbestos diseases contracted from exposure to their husbands’ work clothes; the men had been occupationally exposed to asbestos working at the Uralita asbestos factory in Getafe, Spain. According to the verdict, between 1962 and 1992 the company had failed to adopt measures to protect not only workers, but also those who they knew could have come into contact with the asbestos fibers. See: GETAFE/ Confirman una indemnización a familiares de cuatro mujeres ?fallecidas por Amianto [GETAFE / Confirm compensation to family members of four women killed by asbestos].
 

Bizarre Decision

Jan 7, 2019

In March 2019, a new exemption to the 30-year old asbestos ban in Switzerland will allow for the use of serpentinite stone – which can contain asbestos – for “aesthetic reasons” during “repair or restoration work on existing structures or monuments”. The new derogation is, said David Vernez, Director of the Swiss Institute of Occupational Health, “unacceptable”; asbestos victims and campaigners agreed with him. Since 1939, Switzerland’s National Accident Insurance Fund has paid more than 870 million francs in insurance benefits to more than 3,800 individuals suffering from asbestos-related occupational diseases. See: La loi interdisant l'utilisation de l'amiante en Suisse s'assouplit [The law prohibiting the use of asbestos in Switzerland is becoming more flexible].
 

Government’s Asbestos Liability

Jan 7, 2019

The president of the Sardinian Association of the Asbestos-Exposed Giampaolo Lilliu has condemned the Italian Government for its failure to allocate funds in the 2019 national budget for asbestos remediation of public buildings. The situation is, said Lilliu, particularly grave in Sardinia where many sports facilities, schools, hospitals and public offices are contaminated with asbestos-containing products; furthermore, he pointed out, 9,000 kilometers of asbestos-containing water pipes are still in use. See: Amianto, ex esposti sardi contro governo: “Reato ambientale” [Asbestos, exposed Sardinians against the government: “Environmental crime”].
 

Asbestos Remediation of Schools

Jan 7, 2019

Officials for the South Korean City of Chungbuk have announced plans to commence asbestos remediation of 43 kindergartens, 25 elementary schools, 11 middle schools and 6 high schools during the school winter vacation, as part of a multi-billion won program. An asbestos monitoring unit – composed of parents, schools, environmental groups, supervisors, and technical experts – will be set up to oversee the dismantling, remediation and disposal operations. The use of asbestos has been banned in Korea since 2009. See: 충북도교육청, 방학 기간 43개 학교 석면 해체·제거 [Chungbuk Provincial Office of Education, 43 schools in vacation period Asbestos dismantling / removal].
 

Regional Asbestos Legacy

Jan 7, 2019

According to the Association of Asbestos Victims (Asviamie), last year (2018) 34 people died from asbestos-related diseases in the Basque Country; in reality, the death toll was probably higher due to the widespread failure to diagnose these diseases. During the year, Asviamie staff assisted more than 1,000 people affected by asbestos exposures. In the Navarra region, the register of 3,402 asbestos-exposed workers notes that since 1998, 87% of those affected were men and 13% were women. See: 2018, el año en el que el amianto mató a más trabajadores en Euskadi: 34 [ 2018, the year in which asbestos killed more workers in Euskadi: 34].
 

EPA Rejects Petition

Jan 4, 2019

On December 21, 2018, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rejected a September 2018 petition requesting increased reporting on asbestos uses and the elimination of certain exemptions which allow some uses to go unreported. The EPA was confident it was “ aware of all ongoing uses of asbestos” and “did not think that lifting or modifying any existing reporting exemptions… would result in the agency receiving new information that would change its understanding of asbestos’s use.” The EPA notification said the petitioners had not demonstrated a sufficient case to compel the disclosure of “confidential business information protection.” See: EPA denies petition for expanded TSCA asbestos reporting.
 

Asbestos Compensation Fund

Jan 4, 2019

On December 18, 2018, a press release from the Swiss Asbestos Compensation Foundation (EFA) announced that since March, 2017, 33 individuals (or their relatives) with non-occupationally caused malignant mesothelioma had been compensated; the total amount paid by the EFA was 4.4 million francs. Fifteen applications are currently under evaluation. At the final 2018 meeting of the EFA Trustees, it was agreed to increase the number of eligible applicants by accepting claims from people with mesothelioma (or their relatives) whose illness had been recognized by the Federal Act on Accident Insurance as an occupational disease. See: Communique de Pressé: La Fondation EFA Verse 1,4 million de francs (Press Release: EFA Foundation pays 1.4 million frances).
 

Reviewing Asbestos Safety

Jan 4, 2019

The Government of British Colombia (BC) is leading the way in protecting Canadians from the asbestos hazard. Two documents highlight measures to protect not only workers from hazardous exposures but also members of the public. A 47-page draft report (the Report) published in December 2018 (see: Keeping Workers, the Public and the Environment Safe from Asbestos: Working Group Draft Final Rep) makes 16 suggestions to minimize the risks posed by asbestos contamination of the BC infrastructure. Public consultation is ongoing about the effectiveness of measures delineated in the Report. See: Asbestos Practices Phase Two.
 

Asbestos Alert

Jan 3, 2019

Public health experts have issued warnings about work to reclaim magnesium from asbestos waste deposits which dominate the landscape in former Quebec mining towns such as Thetford Mines and Asbestos. It has been estimated that there are 800 million tonnes of residue created by 130 years of asbestos mining operations. Recommendations by the experts included regulations to: make it illegal to increase ambient asbestos levels, restrict public access to the tailings and set up a board of review to oversee the potential risks of processing the mining residues. Neither the federal nor the provincial government have taken heed of these warnings. See: Too good to be true? Transforming asbestos mining residue into money.
 

Deaths in Shipyards

Jan 3, 2019

Italian researchers who studied data from a cohort of 3,984 Genoa shipyard workers employed between 1960 and 1981 recorded an excess cancer mortality including deaths caused by pleural mesothelioma and cancers of the larynx and of the lung, all of which can be caused by exposure to asbestos (90 out of the 399 lung cancer deaths were attributed to asbestos exposure). The scientists, who concluded that the “long follow-up period of our study allowed the detection of a substantial disease burden following asbestos exposure,” called for the implementation of a worldwide asbestos ban. See: Mortality among workers exposed to asbestos at the shipyard of Genoa, Italy: a 55 years follow-up.
 

Asbestos Offensive

Dec 31, 2018

An article attempting to neutralize the widespread Russian media coverage of the asbestos scandal which has caused a collapse in share prices of the US multinational Johnson & Johnson (J&J), asserts that international studies do not confirm that exposure to asbestos causes cancer: a study is cited which analysed data from 2,000,000 women and concluded that “asbestos does not have a connection with the occurrence of the illness [mesothelioma].” According to the author of this text, the “unpleasant situation,” in which J & J currently finds itself is a result of the corruption of statistics and the unscrupulous actions of US lawyers and judges. See: Спорный случай. Как асбест превратился в «минерал раздора»? [Controversial case. How did asbestos become a “mineral of discord”?].
 

Banning Asbestos in Colombia

Dec 31, 2018

On December 22, 2018, the Colombian city of Mesitas del Colegio, in the Cundinamarca region in central Colombia, announced its decision to prohibit the use of asbestos-containing products in all future public works, to protect public health. While legislation to ban asbestos remains stalled in the Colombian Congress, other local administrations such as those in the towns of Lorica and Chivata are considering taking unilateral action to protect citizens from deadly asbestos exposures. See: El primer municipio colombiano en prohibir el asbestos [The first Colombian municipality to ban asbestos].
 

Asbestos Espionage

Dec 31, 2018

A covert operation mounted by an international corporate surveillance agency to infiltrate the ban asbestos network has resulted in substantial damages being paid by K2 Intelligence. Two years into a legal case brought by five of the campaigners targeted, the company agreed to settle the case but only after the court had heard details of the undercover methods used to gather information about the methods, funding and plans of the activists and the roles played by the spy Rob Moore, who introduced himself as a maker of documentary films, and his K2 handler Matteo Bigazzi. See: I Spy.
 

Healthcare for Victims

Dec 31, 2018

Fines levied by a Brazilian court on the country’s largest asbestos manufacturer, Eternit SA – worth US$440,000 – were used in 2018 to fund medical treatment of asbestos victims, in a program jointly run by the São Paulo Heart Institute, the Association of the Asbestos-Exposed and the Labor Public Ministry. The money was spent on the acquisition of new equipment for pulmonary function tests and the wages of an additional doctor and two medical technicians. In 2018, 94 patients were treated; in 2019, doctors hope to treat 200. See: Parceria Incor, Abrea e MPT completa um ano e avança no atendimento às vítimas do Amianto [Incor, Abrea and MPT partnership completes one year of advances in the care of asbestos victims].
 

High Level of Compensation Claims

Dec 21, 2018

On December 19, 2018, Japan’s Ministry of Health announced that in 2017 it had approved 1,054 claims from people who had worked at 879 companies who were victims of occupational diseases caused by exposure to asbestos. For the first time, one workplace – Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd.'s Nagasaki Shipyard & Machinery Works in southern Japan– had been responsible for more than 200 compensation claims in one year. Seventy of the claimants had already died when their claims were recognized. Amongst the eligible claimants, 126 had lung cancer and 72 mesothelioma; the rest were suffering from other asbestos-related diseases. See: 1,054 people from 879 firms linked to work-related diseases due to asbestos.
 

Export of Toxic Ship

Dec 21, 2018

The export to England of a Portuguese cruise ship contaminated with 100 tonnes of asbestos-containing products has been the subject of an article which quotes Carmen Lima, coordinator of a new asbestos victims association (SOS Amianto), as follows: “When being towed we must have assurances that the English maritime authorities will receive this ship and that removal of asbestos will be possible in England. If the English maritime authorities do not authorize the receipt of this ship with the presence of asbestos, then asbestos removal must be ensured here in Portugal.” See: As 100 toneladas de amianto que tornam o paquete Funchal perigoso [The 100 tons of asbestos that make the Funchal package dangerous].
 

Asbestos Legacy

Dec 21, 2018

Decades of asbestos manufacturing left a deadly legacy in Spodden Valley, where the 72-acre contaminated site of the world’s largest asbestos factory continues to pose an imminent health hazard to local people. Although production ceased long ago, the waste dumped on the site and the pollution it caused remain, as shown by results from air and soil tests conducted in 2013. Since 2011, the land has been owned by “a mysterious offshore company based in a tax haven.” Information from a survey they commissioned in 2016 has yet to be released to the Council or the public even though it has already been received by the land owner. See: The Secret of Spodden Valley.
 

Demolition Work and Asbestos

Dec 21, 2018

In a December 21st media release, WorkSafe – New Zealand's primary workplace health and safety regulator – said asbestos exposure remains an ongoing hazard due to inadequate management by people in the demolition sector, citing a recent ruling by Blenheim District Court which convicted Crafar Crouch Construction Limited for endangering workers and members of the public by exposing them to asbestos during demolition work in the city of Blenheim, a town on New Zealand’s South Island, in 2016 and 2017. WorkSafe’s Head of Specialist Interventions Simon Humphries said that: “The utter negligence displayed by Crafar Crouch and their disregard for worker health is appalling.” See: Seriousness of asbestos still not being observed.
 

Asbestos Removal Program

Dec 19, 2018

On Tuesday, December 18, 2018, the Macau Water supply Company Ltd. announced that all remaining asbestos-containing plumbing in the city of Macau – an autonomous region on the south coast of China – would be replaced in 2019. This announcement had global import as China is both one of the world’s largest asbestos-consuming and asbestos-producing countries. Asbestos has been used to deliver water in Macau since the 1980s but is being removed because of the human health hazard. See: All plumbing containing asbestos to be replaced in 2019 - Macau Water.
 

Victims’ Triumph

Dec 19, 2018

One of Brazil’s few remaining asbestos-using companies – Eternit S.A. – was ordered last week to pay for life-time medical care for former employees suffering from asbestos-related diseases who had worked at its Rio de Janeiro asbestos-cement factory – by Judge Raquel de Oliveira Maciel in a public civil action brought by the Brazilian Association of the Asbestos-Exposed (ABREA) and endorsed by the Public Prosecutor's Office. Although the company refused to comment on this judgment, it is believed it will appeal as it has done in previous cases. See: Empresa é condenada a pagar tratamento vitalício para expostos ao Amianto [Company is ordered to pay for lifetime treatment for asbestos exposure].
 

Calls for Asbestos Fund

Dec 19, 2018

The Federation of Services, Mobility and Consumption of UGT-Madrid – a branch of one of Spain’s largest trade union confederations – is demanding that an asbestos fund be established for workers injured by toxic exposures in the Madrid Metro, to streamline the compensation process and avoid the “judicial pilgrimage” experienced by those suffering from these injuries. The purpose of the fund includes providing economic and social support to asbestos-injured employees of Metro de Madrid. See: UGT reclama la creación de un fondo para indemnizar a afectados por Amianto [UGT claims the creation of a fund to compensate those affected by asbestos].
 

Cancer Risk for Asbestos Cohorts

Dec 19, 2018

Researchers from Taiwan who established a nationwide retrospective cohort of asbestos-exposed factory workers during the years 1950–1989 and calculated the occurrence of malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM) between 1980 and 2009 found those who worked in asbestos manufacturing processes, including the production of asbestos cement and thermal insulation, and those in the shipbuilding sector were at “significantly increased risks of MPM.” It was recommended that a screening programme be created to enable the early diagnosis of MPM and other asbestos-related diseases. See: Clustering of malignant pleural mesothelioma in asbestos factories: a subgroup analysis in a 29-year follow-up study to identify high-risk industries in Taiwan.
 

Toxic Talc

Dec 17, 2018

Massive global media coverage has been generated by news of research by Reuters which showed that the US multinational Johnson & Johnson (J&J) had hidden knowledge about the asbestos content of its iconic baby powder for decades. Government memos, corporate documents, laboratory results, interviews and other sources are discussed showing a long-term conspiracy to neutralize adverse criticism, deny non-favorable scientific findings and avoid liabilities for asbestos-related deaths such as those from mesothelioma or ovarian cancer amongst users of J&J baby powder. See: Johnson & Johnson knew for decades that asbestos lurked in its Baby Powder.
 

Asbestos Propaganda

Dec 17, 2018

As litigation progresses in Ukraine to reinstate a national ban on asbestos use, asbestos stakeholders continue their propaganda offensive with the latest pro-asbestos article published on December 13, 2018. The author concludes that chrysotile asbestos, imported from Kazakhstan, is “indispensable” for “owners of private houses and professional builders” because of its “technical characteristics,” and its low cost, stating Russian research had proved that “no one had any health consequences” from its use contrary to opinions of major international agencies including the ILO, WHO and IARC. See: Хризотил-асбест: вред, применение, характеристики асбеста [Chrysotile asbestos: harm, use, characteristics of asbestos].
 

Canada Bans Asbestos

Dec 13, 2018

Canadian prohibitions on the mining, manufacture, import, export, sale and use of asbestos and asbestos-containing products come into force on December 30, 2018. The distribution of asbestos products after this time such as those in inventories or stock will be prohibited and suppliers have been warned that compliance with the regulations is mandatory: “It is expected that automotive stakeholders would comply with the regulations by switching from imports of friction materials containing asbestos to asbestos-free friction materials, such as ceramic brakes pads or materials with synthetic fibers.” See: Canada's ban on asbestos products takes effect December 30.
 

Supreme Court: No One Guilty!

Dec 13, 2018

On December 11, the French Supreme Court upheld the cancellation of indictments for asbestos “homicides and involuntary injuries,” against 8 officials charged for their parts in asbestos scandals at Jussieu University, Paris and the Normed shipyards, Dunkirk. Appeals against the dismissal of the indictments had been made by the Anti-asbestos Committee of Jussieu University and the Association of Asbestos Victims of Nord-Pas-de-Calais. The Court dismissed the appeals bringing to an end 20+ years of litigation to hold those in power responsible. See: Amiante: la Cour de cassation annule les mises en examen pour homicides et blessures involontaires [Asbestos: Court of Cassation overturns indictments for homicides and involuntary injuries].
 

Asbestos in the Boilers

Dec 13, 2018

In the Russian occupied Ukrainian city of Kerch in the east of Crimea, workers have protested over a week of toxic exposures experienced during the replacement of a boiler containing asbestos under hazardous conditions. Their complaints to the company went unanswered. After contacts were made with the authorities and trade union, nine respirators were provided for 27 at-risk workers. According to those affected: no measurements of airborne asbestos levels have been taken. See: РАБОТНИКИ ЦЕНТРАЛЬНОЙ КЕРЧЕНСКОЙ КОТЕЛЬНОЙ ДЫШАТ АСБЕСТОВОЙ ПЫЛЬЮ (ФОТО И ВИДЕО) [Workers of the central Kersch boiler room breathe asbestos dust (photo and video)].
 

Asbestos in Hospitals

Dec 13, 2018

Information received pursuant to Freedom of Information requests made to all 243 NHS trusts in Britain by the BBC confirmed that “about” 9 out of 10 NHS trusts have hospitals containing asbestos.” The BBC identified 352 legal claims against health trusts made between January 2013 and December 2017 by people who had developed asbestos-related diseases from exposures in NHS buildings. The trusts say those claims resulted in payouts of ~£6.8m; three law firms told the BBC they had secured compensation of more than £16.4m in the same period for asbestos exposures in healthcare settings. MP Jo Stevens, chair of the Parliamentary Asbestos Sub-Group, is urging action to prevent more toxic exposures in hospitals. See: Nine out of 10 NHS trusts have asbestos in hospitals.
 

Alert: Toxic Talc

Dec 6, 2018

On December 5, 2018 Health Canada, the government agency responsible “for helping Canadians maintain and improve their health,” issued a national warning regarding the dangers of using products containing talc, and announced plans to: “prohibit or restrict the use of talc in a limited number of product types, such as certain cosmetics, natural health products and non-prescription drugs.” Draft proposals – Risk management scope for talc – will be published and a public consultation ending on February 6, 2019 will take place. In the US, multiple court cases have established the link between the use of asbestos-contaminated talc and the occurrence of ovarian cancer. See: Ottawa évalue les risques des produits contenant du talc [Ottawa assesses risks of products containing talc].
 

Sea King Asbestos Scandal

Dec 6, 2018

On December 5, 2018, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) issued a media release updating the extent of asbestos-containing products present on Sea King helicopters and now admits that they are still contaminated: “the risk remained that asbestos-containing components could still be fitted to Sea King aircraft. Action has been taken to remove these components from the supply chain.” Veterans, former and current civilian employees and serving members of the armed forces are advised of what action they can take if they have concerns about asbestos exposures on these aircraft. See: Sea king helicopters, asbestos.
 

Victim’s Verdict

Dec 6, 2018

On December 4, 2018, it was reported that a Santiago court ordered Pizarreño Industries to pay compensation to the surviving family of Mrs. Julieta Bernal Trigo, a woman who contracted and died (in 2016) from the asbestos cancer, mesothelioma, having lived near the company’s asbestos cement plant in Maipú City, and washed her father’s contaminated work clothes; her father had worked for the company. See: Condenan a Pizarreño en insólito caso de mujer que murió de cáncer por asbestos [Pizarreño condemned in unusual case of woman who died of cancer due to asbestos].
 

Mesothelioma Amongst Veterans

Dec 6, 2018

A paper uploaded on December 4, 2018 to the website of the International Journal of Radiation Biology examined the incidence of mesothelioma amongst former military personnel who were present during above-ground nuclear weapons testing held between 1945 and 1962. The researchers reported that: “Although jobs with high potential for exposure to asbestos products were held by only 20% of the enlisted naval population, sailors with these jobs (machinist's mate, pipe fitter, boiler technician, water tender and fireman) experienced 55% of mesothelioma deaths.” See: Asbestos Exposure and Mesothelioma Mortality among Atomic Veterans.
 

Ban Asbestos Colombia!

Dec 5, 2018

The “Ana Cecilia Niño law,” which will ban asbestos nationwide, has been approved by the Colombian Senate; companies will have five years to make the transition to asbestos-free technologies. According to Senator Nadia Blel, the sponsor of this legislation: “Over the past five years, 1,744 people died of lung cancer as a result of their exposure to asbestos and more than 250 died of mesothelioma thanks to that silent enemy that is still being marketed in our country.” The bill now goes to the House of Representatives. See: Senado aprobó ley que elimina el uso de asbesto en Colombia [Senate passes law that eliminates the use of asbestos in Colombia].
 

Christmas in Perth

Dec 5, 2018

A check for $80,000 was presented to mesothelioma researchers from the National Centre for Asbestos Related Diseases at the December 2, 2018 Christmas barbecue held by the Asbestos Diseases Society of Australia (ADSA) at Whiteman’s Park in Perth, Western Australia. The money was raised by donations to the ADSA 2018 walk for medical research and asbestos awareness which took place in September and saw participants cover the 300 kilometers between Hyden and Perth. The funds will support the research of Dr ‘Melvin’ Wee Loong Chin, the recipient of the ADSA PhD Scholarship in Mesothelioma Research. See: Group Photo.
 

Asbestos-Free Water System

Dec 5, 2018

Work to remediate the water delivery system of the Italian municipality of Terranuova has been completed after two years and €200,000 expenditure. All the asbestos-cement (ac) pipes formerly used to deliver water have been replaced by cast iron alternatives. According to Mayor Sergio Chienni, the ac pipes had constituted only 1.5% of the total network and with the completion of replacement work in the commune of Ciuffenna, the water system in Terranuova is now asbestos free. See: Rinnovata la rete idrica: via le tubazioni in cemento amianto. Sostituite con quelle in ghisa [Water network renewed: asbestos cement pipes replaced with cast iron ones].
 

Asbestos: The Public Health Hazard

Dec 5, 2018

Three cases of South African women aged between 58 and 70 with malignant mesothelioma were analysed in this new paper which highlighted the ongoing hazard posed by secondary, domestic and environmental exposures to asbestos, a substance banned in 2008 in South Africa. The authors predicted that: “a significant number of cases of non-occupational mesothelioma will be seen in many countries for several decades given the extent of asbestos containing materials.” See: The significance of non-occupational asbestos exposure in women with mesothelioma.
 

Asbestos Profits!

Dec 4, 2018

This article about the rising level of Russian non-commodity exports, states that “Asbestos products… [are] the leaders of growth.” According to government data, from January to November, 2018, Russia exported 400,000 tonnes of raw asbestos fiber to more than 20 countries including: India, China, Indonesia, Uzbekistan and Thailand. Diversification of the industrial asbestos sector has improved economic prospects with the production of asbestos-containing building materials such as asbestos roofing and asbestos-cement pipes proving lucrative. See: Несырьевой экспорт продолжает рост [Non-commodity exports continue to grow].
 

Ban Asbestos Action Plan

Dec 4, 2018

A series of meetings, formal events and discussions in Laos during the week beginning November 26, 2018 progressed actions by government and civil society stakeholders to protect citizens from asbestos cancer following the signing on November 23, 2018 of an order by the Minister of Health to ban the import and use of chrysotile asbestos in Laos by 2020. Recent consumption of chrysotile asbestos in Laos has been very high at 1.2 kg/person, most of which went into the production of roofing materials. See: Strong support as Lao Government demonstrates action on preventing future cancers in Laos with launch of National Action Plan to Eliminate Asbestos-Related Diseases including a planned ban on chrysotile asbestos 2020.
 

Addressing Asbestos Challenges

Dec 4, 2018

An Australian Ministerial Media Release on November 30, 2018 announced new government measures to ensure public access to information about the asbestos hazard and prevent the import of banned asbestos-containing products into Australia. Assistant Minister for Home Affairs, Senator Linda Reynolds said: “The Government intends to bring forward amendments to strengthen offences and penalties for the illegal importation of products containing asbestos.” In addition, Australia will continue to play a leading role in regional moves to ban the mining, production and use of asbestos. See: Coalition continues to take action to mark National Asbestos Awareness Week.
 

Asbestos On Board

Dec 4, 2018

A study entitled Medical Asbestos Cohort by personnel from the Army Training Hospital will begin in 2019 to assess occupational asbestos exposures experienced by hundreds of serving or retired French naval personnel. Speaking at a conference on November 29, 2018, the program’s supervisors Drs. Pégorié and Rivière said: “We want to propose a job-exposure matrix. Depending on the time of boarding, the type of ship and the job, we will be able to evaluate the degree of exposure to asbestos risk and then adapt the medical follow-up.” See: Amiante. L’exposition des marins à l’étude [Asbestos. An investigation into the exposure of sailors].
 

Asbestos Vacuum

Dec 3, 2018

The failure of the Brazilian Supreme Court to publish its full ruling a year after it declared the commercial exploitation of asbestos in Brazil unconstitutional has been soundly criticized by civil society activists who condemn the current situation in which states that do not have current laws banning asbestos can continue to mine, produce and export asbestos despite the Supreme Court’s verdict. Ban asbestos activist Fernanda Giannasi says: “We're still in limbo. The decision continues to be violated by Sama, by Precon from Minas Gerais, and by Precon Anápolis /Goiás from the Eternit group.” See: Um ano após banir o amianto no Brasil, STF ainda não publicou sentença [One year after banning asbestos in Brazil, STF has not yet issued a ruling].
 

Rising Asbestos Losses

Dec 3, 2018

A US report issued on November 28, 2018 which reported that asbestos and environmental claims continued to grow, estimated total losses from these categories at $146 billion. There was an average of additional asbestos losses per year between 2013 and 2017 of $1.9 bn: “‘Quantifying the industry’s ultimate loss exposure is difficult, given the significant advancements in medical effectiveness, as well as developing litigation strategies,’ said the report, which states its net ultimate asbestos loss estimate of $100 billion remains the same.” See: Asbestos, environmental losses continue to grow: A.M. Best.
 

Occupational Asbestos Exposures in Turkey

Dec 3, 2018

A newly published paper explores the reasons why there have been no recognized mesothelioma compensation cases in Turkey, a country where it is the usual practice to explain asbestos-related diseases as having been caused by environmental exposures to asbestos. The researchers concluded that: “Low awareness of occupational asbestos exposure risk, especially among physicians, discourages seeking compensation for occupational exposure.” They recommended that surveillance and prevention programs be implemented to prevent hazardous occupational as well as environmental exposures. See: Asbestos-Related Diseases in Turkey: Not Only Caused by Naturally Occurring Fibers, but Also by Industrial Exposures.
 

Asbestos in Schools

Dec 3, 2018

On November 21, 2018 MP Jim Cunningham (Coventry South) tabled a Parliamentary question to the Secretary of State for Education asking “what steps his Department is taking to assist with the removal of asbestos from schools in England.” The response received on November 26 reinforced public concern regarding the health emergency posed by widespread asbestos contamination of schools: “While asbestos will be removed over time from the school estate as part of any rebuilding or refurbishment programme, the Department has not committed to the phased removal of all asbestos by a specific date.” See: Schools: Asbestos:Written question – 194035.
 

Asbestos Ban by 2020!

Nov 29, 2018

At an asbestos workshop on November 28, 2018 in Vientiane, the capitol of Laos, strong support was expressed by stakeholders for plans to end the use of asbestos by December 2020, as per an order approved by the Ministry of Health (MoH) on November 23, 2018 to ban asbestos imports and use by December 2020. The event was organized by the Laos MoH and supported by: the World Health Organization: Western Pacific Region; the International Labor Organization; and the Australian Embassy in Laos. See: Strong support as Lao Government demonstrates action on preventing future cancers in Laos with launch of National Action Plan to Eliminate Asbestos-Related Diseases including a planned ban on chrysotile asbestos.
 

G20 Told: Ban Asbestos

Nov 29, 2018

As leaders of G20 countries prepare to meet in Buenos Aires on November 30, a call for global action on the asbestos menace was issued by campaigners who wrote: “In the context of the many problems you will be addressing in Buenos Aires, asbestos stands out as an exceptionally well documented, focused issue where much progress has been made in the world; and where those countries which have banned asbestos stand ready to support others who wish to take the same path.” The English, Spanish, Italian and Portuguese versions of the text of this letter are available at the link below. See: Em carta aos líderes do G20, ativistas antiamianto mundiais apelam por ação global para proibir a fibra assassina [In a letter to G20 leaders, global anti-asbestos activists call for global action to ban killer fiber].
 

New Asbestos Victims Group

Nov 29, 2018

In just a fortnight, a new group called “SOS Amianto,” which was created by the environmental organization Quercus to support asbestos victims in Portugal, has received 20 enquiries from people concerned about occupational asbestos exposures, asbestos contamination of schools and other issues. Commenting on the high level of public interest, an SOS spokesperson said: “the growing concern about this issue and the lack of means to clarify” the multitude of asbestos challenges being faced in Portugal validates the need for an independent body to assist those affected by asbestos exposures. See: SOS Amianto recebeu 20 denúncias em menos de duas semanas, diz Quercus [SOS Asbestos received 20 complaints in less than two weeks, says Quercus].
 

Asbestos Disposal in São Paulo?

Nov 29, 2018

The lack of regulated and supervised locations for the authorized disposal of asbestos waste in São Paulo was exposed in a television broadcast on November 27, 2018 in a primetime news bulletin. According to the report, asbestos-containing building and other material is routinely being dumped on roads and embankments as a result of the failure by the public authorities to act on the environmental hazard posed by the widespread incorporation of toxic products within the country’s infrastructure. See: Falta de locais adequados impede descarte correto de amianto em SP [Lack of adequate locations prevents correct asbestos disposal in SP].
 

Court’s Asbestos Hazard

Nov 27, 2018

The September 2018 mesothelioma death of 62 year old magistrate Hélène Bienvenu, who had worked at the Créteil court for 10 years, has once again focused public attention on the long struggle of trade unions to force the Ministry of Justice to address the multiplicity of problems posed by asbestos contamination of the court building. An asbestos survey in 2006 found asbestos in floor slabs, and wall and office partitions. The archives room was closed because of high levels of contamination: 38 fibers per liter (the legal threshold is 5 fibers). In Spring 2019, a €5.2 million asbestos removal programme will begin. See: Au tribunal de Créteil, l'amiante sur le banc des accuses [At the Créteil Court, asbestos is in the dock].
 

Progressing Cancer Research

Nov 27, 2018

News of a ground-breaking Australian research program which could genetically reprogram immune cells has been reported. The experimental immunotherapy trial, which is taking place at the University of Sydney’s newly established Li Ka Shing Cell and Gene Therapy Initiative, has received a $4.5million donation from Hong-Kong’s richest man Li Ka-shing “to expand the trial beyond pancreatic cancer to include patients with other cancers that have the mesothelin marker, predominantly mesothelioma.” Three thousand Australians die from pancreatic cancer every year; in 2016, 672 Australians died of mesothelioma. See: ‘One word for it – hope’: Hong Kong’s richest man donates $4.5m to Sydney cancer trial.
 

Asbestos Propaganda

Nov 22, 2018

In an interview with Erbol Nurhozhaev, chairman of the board of JSC “Kostanay minerals” – the only producer of chrysotile asbestos in Kazakhstan – Nurhozhaev is buoyant about the future and optimistic about plans to forestall UN action on imposing regulations on the global trade of chrysotile asbestos: “Next year they will again discuss the Rotterdam Convention [listing of] asbestos. Now we are working with the ministries on this issue. Karaganda scientists completed the research and concluded that with controlled use there is no harm from chrysotile asbestos. In this regard, we see the absolute support of the state.” See: «Мы будем расширять присутствие в Казахстане» [“We will expand our presence in Kazakhstan”].
 

Mesothelioma Hotspots

Nov 22, 2018

A paper by four Belgian researchers reviewed multiple studies published between 2000 and 2015 regarding spatial clustering of cases of malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM) in Western Europe and found elevated incidences disease around shipyards and asbestos-cement factories in Belgium, the Netherlands, the UK, Germany, France, Spain, Italy and Denmark. The authors pointed out that the “absence of hotspots does not necessarily mean that there were no other clusters of mesothelioma.” Because of the failure to remediate environmental asbestos contamination, there is a need for “continuous vigilance” regarding the incidence of MPM. See: Hotspots of malignant pleural mesothelioma in Western Europe.
 

Changing Brazil’s Asbestos Agenda

Nov 22, 2018

Individuals and groups which progressed calls to ban asbestos in Brazil and the means used to achieve this goal are discussed in the paper referenced below; in particular, the authors detail the evidence needed to persuade decision-makers and civil society leaders of the harmful effects posed by asbestos exposures to workers and members of the public. The authors consider the paradox in which the Supreme Court 2017 decision declaring asbestos use unconstitutional is legally flouted by vested interests who continue to mine and sell asbestos in some states. See: La lotta per il bando dell’amianto in Brasile e il 2 Convegno internazionale “Brasile senza amianto” [The fight for the asbestos ban in Brazil and the 2nd International seminar “Brazil without Asbestos”].
 

Compensation in Jersey

Nov 22, 2018

Politicians in Jersey’s States Assembly have unanimously approved a plan to pay statutory compensation to people who contract mesothelioma, after a campaign begun by mesothelioma sufferer Brian Coutanche, who died in July 2018. Mr Coutanche experienced multiple incidents of asbestos exposure during his career in the construction industry for the States of Jersey. Mesothelioma widow June Summers Shaw, who launched a petition calling for a mandatory mesothelioma compensation scheme on Jersey, welcomed the news, telling a reporter: “Mesothelioma has no viable treatment and no cure. Life expectancy is 12-18 months.” See: Jersey to introduce mesothelioma compensation scheme.
 

Asbestos Alert!

Nov 19, 2018

On November 19, 2018 ban asbestos billboards went up in Vientiane, Laos warning of the dangers posed by the continuing use of asbestos-containing products. This initiative is backed by the Australian Embassy, the Office of the Embassy of Canada – formerly the world’s biggest asbestos producer – and Union Aid Abroad – APEHDA, an Australian NGO. According to an upload on the APEHDA facebook page, the objective of the new campaign is to “raise awareness for the public to the cancer risks of exposure to chrysotile asbestos and urge Laos to consider alternative, safer substances and products to prevent future lung and other cancers.” See: Cancer Prevention message for Laos a new feature on Australian Embassy Billboards from today.
 

Dangerous Source of Income

Nov 19, 2018

Because of poor harvests in North Korea, farmers are seeking alternative sources of income with some – including whole families in the northern part of the country – resorting to producing asbestos paper, a task formerly undertaken by Chinese prisoners but nowadays even spurned by them. The asbestos paper is produced by “affixing asbestos to a 30-by-15 cm rectangular sheet of greased paper with a rolling stick. This paper is widely known in China for its use in ‘floating lantern boats’ during major holidays and festivals.” See: North Koreans farmers turn to asbestos paper manufacturing.
 

Revoke Honor for Asbestos Billionaire!

Nov 19, 2018

The Mayor of an Italian town has once again called for Swiss billionaire Stephen Schmidheiny to be stripped of an honorary degree bestowed upon him by Yale University for his “alleged” role in the asbestos deaths of thousands of Italians. Although the Court of Cassation overturned an 18 year prison sentence handed down by a Turin court for Schmidheiny’s responsibility for crimes committed by asbestos factories in Italy, the fact of the matter is that thousands have died and continue to die as a result of the operations of the Eternit asbestos group in Italy and around the world wrote Mayor Titti Palazzetti. See: Il sindaco di Casale riscrive a Yale: “Laurea a Schmidheiny è indegna, va revocata” [The mayor of Casale rewrites to Yale: “Degree to Schmidheiny is unworthy, it should be revoked”].
 

Asbestos in Schools

Nov 13, 2018

On November 12, 2018, schools minister Nick Gibbs admitted that the failure of schools to submit information about asbestos management at their premises has pushed back publication of the school asbestos survey until Spring 2019, too late for this information to influence the comprehensive spending review which will allocate funds for schools in 2020. He said: “Seventy-seven per cent of schools have responded so far, but we expect all state-funded schools and academies to participate, so we have re-opened the assurance process from today until February 2019, to give them a further opportunity to do so.” See: DfE re-opens asbestos survey after thousands of schools fail to respond.
 

Asbestos Legacy

Nov 13, 2018

As the implementation of Canadian ban asbestos regulations looms, the country begins the struggle of addressing widespread contamination of the national infrastructure, with a recent example being the discovery of asbestos “on various surfaces” in a hanger in Newfoundland used by military search and rescue helicopter crews. According to the Department of National Defence, the crews’ operations have been relocated to other premises at St. John’s airport while asbestos remediation work is carried out. See: Asbestos in Newfoundland hangar forces move of RCAF search and rescue crews.
 

Asbestos Fight-Back

Nov 13, 2018

Efforts continue to derail plans to ban chrysotile asbestos roofing products in Vietnam by 2023, as shown by industry and government submissions to a November 3, 2018 asbestos hearing of the National Assembly Committee on Science, Technology and Environment. Standard industry rhetoric calling for more data to prove occupational asbestos exposures caused disease and death was wielded by vested interests. A spokeswoman for Vietnam Red Cross seemed to support objections to the ban asking why Vietnam was banning chrysotile asbestos when lead and mercury remained in use. See: Roadmap to cease the use of chrysotile – Many unresolved issues.
 

Asbestos Espionage!

Nov 9, 2018

Legal proceedings brought by ban asbestos campaigners in London have ended with the campaigners receiving substantial damages and costs from K2 Intelligence Ltd. (K2) whose Executive Managing Director Matteo Bigazzi hired an operative Robert Moore to spy on them for clients representing asbestos interests in Kazakhstan. For over a year, K2 refused to reveal the identities of their clients but in March 2017, they were named as: Wetherby Select Ltd., a holding company registered in the British Virgin Islands, and Kazakh national Nurlan Omarov and US citizen Daniel Kunin, both of whom were “directly involved in Kazakhstan’s asbestos industry.” See: Corporate intelligence agency pays substantial damages over claim for spying [English original] or [version Française].
 

Stopping Banned Asbestos Imports

Nov 9, 2018

A commentary describing the repercussions of the import of asbestos products to Australia – despite the country’s ban – condemns the government’s failure to fully implement the 26 recommendations made in November 2017 by the Senate Inquiry into Non-Conforming Building Products, designed to curb the inflow of asbestos products. Existing levels of financial penalties were far too low to act as a deterrent to large building companies and the failure to impose a mandatory certification scheme ensuring asbestos-free imports was a serious mistake. See: Federal Government Falls Short on Stopping Asbestos Imports.
 

Asbestos Industry Offensive

Nov 5, 2018

Last week, scientists from Kazakhstan presented evidence defending the safe use of chrysotile (asbestos) at an international conference in Karaganda, the country’s 4th biggest city. A resolution adopted at the meeting is being sent to six government ministries. Five thousand people are employed by the asbestos sector in Kazakhstan and the benefits of the industry are shared, speakers at this event alleged, by the 40,000 residents of Zhitikary City, where the mine is located, in the Kostanay region. It was claimed that no cases of asbestos-related diseases have been diagnosed in the country. See: Казахстанские ученые встали на защиту месторождения хризотил-асбеста [Kazakhstani scientists defend chrysotile asbestos].
 

National Asbestos Epidemic

Nov 5, 2018

An 18-page document published on October 31, 2018 by the Health and Safety Executive entitled “Asbestos-related diseases in Great Britain, 2018” provided updated data for mesothelioma and asbestosis Industrial Injuries Disablement (IIDB) cases (2017), and asbestosis deaths (2016). The mesothelioma mortality figures for 2016 reported in this publication were the ones first released in July 2018 and confirmed that the national epidemic shows no sign of abating: in 2016, 2,595 people died from mesothelioma, a 2% increase on the figure (2,542) for 2015. See: Asbestos-related diseases in Great Britain, 2018.
 

US Inc. vs Asbestos Victims

Nov 5, 2018

The June 2018 article referenced below is a scathing and incisive commentary on the multiplicity of ways US vested interests are progressing corporate profits at the expense of asbestos victims. Highlighted in this piece was the work of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). Draft ALEC legislation to restrict the legal rights of dying asbestos victims found favour amongst Republican politicians including Missouri state Rep. Bruce DeGroot and others of his ilk in Ohio, Oklahoma, Wisconsin, West Virginia, Arizona, Texas, Utah, Tennessee, South Dakota, North Dakota, Iowa, Mississippi, Michigan, Kansas, and North Carolina. See: ALEC’s Deadly Asbestos Agenda Benefits Koch Industries, Nationwide.
 

Alert: Toxic Flasks

Nov 5, 2018

A warning has been given by officials from the Kenyan Government over tremolite asbestos in thermos flasks being sold in the country. Samples of the products, which had been imported from Asia, were submitted for testing on September 21. A government spokesman reported that asbestos fibers were present between the flasks’ glass walls. Although no brand names were provided in this article, similar products had been recalled in Europe due to asbestos contamination; in almost all cases, the recalled goods had been manufactured in China. See: Beware: Cancer-Causing Elements Found in Thermos Flasks.
 

Trump vs. Asbestos Victims

Oct 31, 2018

Asbestos bankruptcy trusts, which since the 1980s paid out more than $17 billion to millions of US victims suffering from asbestos-related diseases, are being attacked by the Trump administration which is alleging that they lack sufficient safeguards and allow fraudulent claims to succeed. In the last two months, the Justice Department launched a civil investigation pursuant to which it demanded the submission of trust documents and opposed the creation of another trust, citing insufficient information about “how asbestos claims will be evaluated, paid and reported" and how fraud would be prevented. See: US steps up scrutiny of funds for asbestos exposure victims.
 

Asbestos Mining Revival

Oct 31, 2018

Amongst the industrial sectors which will revive the economy of Zimbabwe is the asbestos industry, according to recent pronouncements by Mines and Mining Development Minister Winston Chitando. The Minister said that the country’s premier asbestos manufacturer – Turnall Holdings Ltd. – is now obtaining raw asbestos from the Shabanie-Mashava Mines where work is ongoing to reclaim asbestos fiber by processing mining waste. According to Chitando: “De-watering of Mashava Mine will be done by December (and) the mine will start producing in the first quarter next year. Shabani Mine will start producing by 2020.” See: Mining sector girds loins for 2030…US$12bn revenues targeted.
 

Asbestos: a Silent Threat

Oct 29, 2018

The Ukrainian language commentary referenced below was uploaded on October 22, 2018; it examines economic factors and political dynamics which have prevented Ukraine from enacting ban asbestos regulations in accordance with EU legislation and as was mandated in 2017 by the Ministry of Health (MoH). As litigation by the MoH proceeds through the Ukraine courts to reinstate the asbestos ban, the author of this article asks: “How long will Ukrainians remain hostage to the business interests of representatives of the asbestos lobby?” See: Заручники азбесту: мовчазна загроза здоров’ю нації [Asbestos: a silent threat to the health of the nation].
 

Book Launch!

Oct 29, 2018

The launch of the book by Marci Grasso and Marcello Zinola entitled “The Silent Massacre,” will take place on October 29 in the San Salvatore Hall of the University of Genoa; the book is about the ten year battle to obtain justice for workers injured by asbestos in Genoa. The authors detail their investigation of documents and interviews with victims, family members, trade unionists and labor leaders. See: “La strage silenziosa,” lunedì la presentazione del libro sull'amianto [“The silent massacre,” a book on asbestos to be launched on Monday].
 

Mesothelioma Engagement

Oct 29, 2018

A paper published this month (October 2018) detailed efforts by a UK mesothelioma charity to break down barriers to communication between mesothelioma patients, their carers and researchers. The authors described arrangements for activities on Action Mesothelioma Day in 2016-2018 and the feedback from participants which suggested that this fusion “of speed-dating… and the Dragon’s Den” created an environment more conducive to disseminating information through discourse and questions than a traditional format, where experts made Powerpoint presentations. See: Meet the researchers: an alternative method of engaging patients with research in mesothelioma.
 

Remediation of Aqueduct

Oct 29, 2018

Monitoring carried out by the Tuscan Water Authority of water delivered via the 2,000 kilometer of pipes in the aqueduct system has revealed high levels of asbestos fibers in the water; up to 59 samples taken from 33 municipalities were contaminated. Local councillors are calling for the replacement of asbestos pipework and a regional study on the effects on human health of asbestos carried in water. See: Trovate fibre di amianto nell'acqua che passa nei tubi dell'acquedotto [Asbestos fibers found in the water that passes into the aqueduct pipes].
 

Asbestos on Barcelona Metro

Oct 26, 2018

The presence of asbestos in paint has been confirmed in 38 metro cars operated by the Transports Metropolitans de Barcelona (TMB); 100+ cars have yet to be tested. The decision by the company to keep the affected cars in service until the end of their useful life was criticized on October 24, 2018 by a specialist in risk prevention who pointed out that the company’s reassurances that the contamination posed “no risk,” was unfounded. See: El Colectivo Ronda carga contra TMB por mantener convoyes con amianto: “Es una grave irresponsabilidad” [The Ronda Collective charges TMB for keeping convoys with asbestos: “It is a serious irresponsibility”].
 

Asbestos on the Agenda

Oct 26, 2018

Presentations on asbestos issues were included on the agenda of a seminar organized by the Mauro Menezes & Advogados law firm which took place on October 22 at the University of São Paulo Law School. Topics such as future challenges after the Supreme Court 2017 decision declaring asbestos use unconstitutional were discussed. Looking ahead, lawyer Gustavo Teixeira Ramos commented: “There is still a lot to do, especially in the sense of reparation for victims, criminal liability of companies and total ban on asbestos in the world.” See: Banimento do amianto e impactos da Reforma Trabalhista foram temas de evento na USP [Asbestos ban and impacts of the Labor Reform were themes of the event at USP].
 

Vietnam Asbestos Ban

Oct 26, 2018

A report on the website of the World Health Organization (WHO) details discussions on asbestos which took place during a technical consultation meeting in Hanoi to progress work on a roadmap to end asbestos use. Participants at the October 12 event included personnel from Vietnam’s Ministry of Construction and Ministry of Health and the WHO. “Vietnam as a growing middle-income country, should,” Dr. Kidong Park, the WHO Representative to Vietnam, said “be able to afford providing its people, including the most vulnerable, with safe asbestos-free roofing for houses. It’s now a critical time to take actions in realizing this important decision to protect the health of the people.” See: Viet Nam takes big leap in fight vs asbestos.
 

Polluted public policy

Oct 25, 2018

The commentary cited below decries Canada’s “polluted public policy” which endorses “a double standard within Canada itself and is supporting a project that allows workers to be exposed to 10 times higher levels of asbestos than are permitted elsewhere in Canada.” Even as Ottawa issued legislation banning asbestos last week, the federal government provided funding for an enterprise in Quebec planning to process mining waste containing up to 40% asbestos, despite warnings from leading health authorities, including all 17 of the Quebec government’s directors of public health. See: Canadian government bans asbestos – but not all Canadians will be protected equally.
 

Asbestos in Space?

Oct 25, 2018

A press release uploaded on October 24, 2018 by the International Trade Union Movement for Chrysotile, an association representing asbestos industry stakeholders, rejoiced in news that the Russian space industry decided to use products containing chrysotile in the construction of in-orbit objects, citing a Russian information portal as the source of the news that “ an asbestos-cement laminate was used in the vehicle skin.” We have not been able to ascertain the veracity of the claims made above. See: Trade Unions’ International Alliance “Chrysotile” Welcomes the Use of Chrysotile in the Space Industry.
 

Firefighters and Asbestos

Oct 25, 2018

Today (October 25) a complaint is being filed in Lille, France by firefighters against X for endangering life by failing to protect them from hazardous exposures to asbestos. This step marks a new front in the fight for information about workplace exposures to fire service personnel who have grown weary from numerous fruitless attempts to obtain information about asbestos exposures during conflagrations. A Paris-based law firm which routinely represents asbestos victims with legal cases against large corporations is representing the plaintiffs. See: Les pompiers ouvrent un nouveau front contre l’amiante [Firefighters open new front against asbestos].
 

Asbestos Offensive in Ukraine

Oct 24, 2018

An article in Ukraine’s biggest selling Russian language tabloid “Fakty I Kommentarii,” on October 22, 2018 warned Ukrainians of the dangers posed by impending asbestos prohibitions sought by the Ministry of Health (MoH) which has been involved in litigation against the Ministry of Justice which forestalled MoH plans to ban asbestos. The article cited “research” which proved that asbestos use was not hazardous and data which showed that the incidence of cancer amongst Ukrainians in the asbestos industry was not elevated. See: Минздрав может оставить украинцев без крыши над головой [Ministry of Health may leave Ukrainians without a roof over their heads].
 

Jersey Mesothelioma Scheme?

Oct 24, 2018

Following a campaign for government support for asbestos victims resident on Jersey, Deputy Carina Alves lodged a proposition calling on Social Security Minister Judy Martin to provide compensation to sufferers of the asbestos cancer mesothelioma in line with existing schemes in the UK and France; Guernsey has recently stated its intention to implement similar arrangements. Commenting on her proposition – which will be debated on November 20, 2018 – Deputy Alves said: “…the States [Jersey] knew of the risks involved, but did little to alert the public to it or ban the substance.” See: ‘Shameful’ if States vote against asbestos compensation.
 

Asbestos on the Metro

Oct 24, 2018

Following a series of revelations about asbestos contamination of the Madrid Metro, 45 trains are currently out of service due to asbestos contamination. Health examinations of the 1,000 Metro members of staff are ongoing and expected to be completed by the end of the year (2018). According to the company, no members of the public are at risk from asbestos exposures and plans are proceeding for decontamination of premises and rolling stock. Trade union officials claim that the sums allocated for decontamination work are inadequate. See: Metro de Madrid tiene paralizados 45 trenes por la presencia de Amianto [Metro de Madrid has 45 trains paralyzed due to the presence of asbestos].
 

Asbestos Maritime Hazard

Oct 24, 2018

In agreement with Vincenzo Iaccarino, the Mayor of Piano di Sorrento, Naples, a special service is being set up to offer advice to seamen exposed to asbestos due to the maritime risks they faced. Sixteen hundred Italian sailors are believed to have died from asbestos-related diseases. A conference on this subject was held on October 20, 2018 in Villa Fondi at which it was announced that an asbestos counter will be opened by a law firm specializing in these types of cases to offer advice to high-risk individuals in Piano di Sorrento. See: E’ strage di marittimi: sono 1600 le vittime dell’amianto [The slaughter of seamen: there are 1600 victims of asbestos].
 

Asbestos Claims Up by $1.1bn

Oct 22, 2018

News was released last week that the US Securities and Exchange Commission had on September 13, 2018 launched an investigation into the accounting procedures of the US multinational Honeywell International Inc. after the company admitted that its asbestos-related liabilities had been underestimated by US$1.1bn. The revised figure for Honeywell’s asbestos liabilities is $2.61bn after amending the cost for asbestos claims against its subsidiary Bendix Corporation, a manufacturer of automotive brake shoes and systems. See: SEC Opens Investigation Into Honeywell’s Asbestos Accounting.
 

Victory for Hospital Workers

Oct 22, 2018

On October 18, 2018, the French Court of Appeal condemned local health authorities for the “deliberate endangerment of life” of 40 hospital employees exposed to asbestos between 2009 and 2013 at the Jean-Minjoz Hospital in Besançon, eastern France. This is the first time a French public institution has been sentenced as a legal person. While the defendants have announced their intention to appeal to the Supreme Court, the 40 claimants have started proceedings before the Besançon Administrative Court to have their damages recognized. See: Amiante: le CHU de Besançon condamné en appel [Asbestos: CHU Besançon condemned on appeal].
 

Mesothelioma Research

Oct 22 2018

A paper by Turkish researchers investigated methods for differentiating malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM) from lung cancer (LC) and non-malignant pleural effusion (NMPE) from pleural fluids. The technique – Fourier transform-infrared spectroscopy coupled with chemometrics – succeeded in differentiating MPM from LC with 100% sensitivity and 100% specificity and from NMPE with 100% sensitivity and 88% specificity. The scientists concluded that: “This approach can provide a rapid and inexpensive methodology for the efficient differentiation of MPM from other pleural effusions.” See: Diagnosis of malignant pleural mesothelioma from pleural fluid by Fourier transform-infrared spectroscopy coupled with chemometrics.
 

Banning Asbestos in Thailand

Oct 22, 2018

This paper examines the twists and turns on the road to banning asbestos in Thailand, highlighting the apparent inability of the National Health Assembly “to enforce implementation, especially when power and authority lie with state actors…” The authors conclude that to protect the health of citizens “participatory policy-making and effective governance of multisectoral action throughout implementation” is required to confront counterpressure from domestic and foreign vested interests such as that exerted by international asbestos lobbyists. See: Multisectoral governance for health: challenges in implementing a total ban on chrysotile asbestos in Thailand.
 

Monetizing Asbestos Waste

Oct 19, 2018

In what could be seen as a classic example of political tit-for-tat, in the same week as Canadian federal regulations banning asbestos were announced, the Ottawa government will make public at a press conference in Danville, Quebec plans to provide funding for operations by Allied Magnesium Inc. to process mining waste containing up to 40% asbestos to reclaim magnesium. The company has already received $30.9 million from the Quebec government for its $100 million project despite well-publicized objections to this scheme from Quebec medical and health specialists. See: Federal government rejects health experts and funds project to exploit asbestos mining wastes.
 

Mesothelioma Research in Mexico

Oct 19, 2018

A paper published this summer documented a case-control study undertaken in Mexico to evaluate the usefulness of mesothelioma tumor markers found in plasma samples in diagnosing malignant pleural mesothelioma. Good results were achieved with mesothelin and calretinin, with scientists developing prediction models based on plasma concentrations of both markers. It was concluded that these markers could be cost-effective tools for expediting the diagnosis of mesothelioma. Poor results were achieved with thrombomodulin. See: Biomarkers for Predicting Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma in a Mexican Population.
 

Canada Bans Asbestos!

Oct 18, 2018

News was released yesterday (October 17, 2018) confirming that the Government of Canada had on September 28, 2018 adopted legislation that would ban asbestos in 90 days – i.e. by the end of 2018 (see: Prohibition of Asbestos and Products Containing Asbestos Regulations). Unfortunately, the Canadian ban on the import, sale and use of asbestos will not prevent companies in Quebec from processing asbestos mining waste, containing up to 40% asbestos, to reclaim magnesium. See: Canada ban on asbestos takes effect but mining residues are exempt.
 

Ban Asbestos Protest

Oct 18, 2018

On October 16, 2018, there was a ban asbestos demonstration by members of the Indonesia Ban Asbestos Network (INA-BAN) in Bandung City, West Java, Indonesia with a rally in front of the Bandung Parliament to support draft legislation being considered this week by special committee 6 which would include asbestos as a dangerous raw material in Bandung building regulations. Six of Indonesia’s largest asbestos processing plants employing 4,000 people are located in West Java. See: Ina-Ban Tuntut Larangan Penggunaan Asbestos Masuk Dalam Perda Bangunan Gedung [INA-BAN Calls for Prohibition of the Use of Asbestos in the Building Regulations].
 

Relief Scheme for Construction Workers?

Oct 18, 2018

Within the context of a commentary highlighting multiple legal victories for construction workers in asbestos claims against the Japanese government and manufacturers of asbestos-containing building products, calls are made for construction workers to be provided relief within an existing national scheme that awards compensation to other sufferers of asbestos-related injuries. “It is time,” the author writes “for the government to work with other parties in the lawsuits to explore out-of-court ways of providing relief to the plaintiffs.” See: Provide relief for asbestos-linked health damage.
 

Medical Training on Asbestos

Oct 16, 2018

On Saturday, October 13, 2018, an asbestos medical seminar entitled Update Diagnosis of Asbestos Related Disease was held at Binawan University in Jakarta by the Indonesia Ban Asbestos Network (INA-BAN), the Local Initiative for OSH Network Indonesia (LION) and partnering organizations. During her presentation, Professor Jeung Sook Kim, from Korea, highlighted the importance of cooperation between NGOs and scientists in the ban asbestos movement. See: Picture of Session on October 13, 2018 at Binawan University.
 

Demo: Asbestos in Schools

Oct 16, 2018

On October 12, 2018, 1,000 people from all over France gathered together to march through the streets of Paris demanding that action be taken on the asbestos hazard in French schools. This was the 14th annual protest organized by the National Association for the Defense of Asbestos Victims (Andeva) to highlight the national asbestos epidemic which continues to kill thousands of citizens every year. See: Amiante dans les écoles: “protégez nos enfants” demandent des manifestants [Asbestos in schools: “protect our children” demand protesters].
 

Legal Victory

Oct 16, 2018

The Supreme Court of Catalonia has overturned a 2014 High Court decision to issue a landmark ruling allowing the heirs of a deceased widow to obtain damages from the Uralita company not claimed by her husband who died of mesothelioma in 1974 as a result of occupational asbestos exposures. Legal experts believe this judgment could open the way for many more claims. See: El Suprem admet que els hereus d’una vídua d’un afectat per l’amiant puguin percebre els danys i perjudicis que el finat no va reclamar [Supreme Court allows heirs of an asbestos widow to receive damages not claimed by the deceased’s husband].
 

Asbestos Removal Training

Oct 16, 2018

Under a program to produce more asbestos removal operatives in Turkey, 474 successful trainees have received certification as specialists in this field of work. Upon completion of the latest course, organized by the General Directorate of Occupational Health and Safety of the Ministry of Family, Labor and Social Services, Dr. Orhan Koç – General Director of Occupational Health and Safety Operations – highlighted the need for the safe removal of asbestos before buildings are demolished. Asbestos removal training will continue in 2019. See: Asbest Söküm Uzmanlığı Eğitimi Yeni Mezunlarını Verdi [Asbestos Removal Expertise Training Provides New Graduates].
 

Asbestos Industry Offensive

Oct 15, 2018

A Moscow online portal has uploaded news of a meeting that took place last month in Kazakhstan entitled: International Trade Union Conference on Chrysotile Asbestos and Safety. Representatives of the chrysotile industry from Kazakhstan, Russia, Belarus, and other stakeholder countries were regaled with industry propaganda and “commissioned science” about the “safe use” of asbestos, despite advice from international agencies that the only “safe use” of asbestos is no use at all. See: Kazakhstan Hosted International Trade Union Conference on Chrysotile Asbestos.
 

The Asbestos Hazard

Oct 15, 2018

An asbestos awareness training session in Nepal was held on October 6, 2018 by the Center for Public Health and Environmental Development (CEPHED). The fact that the meeting took place in Janakpur was significant as this area is one where asbestos use is very high. More than 60 participants were addressed by Deputy Mayor Mrs. Rita Kumari Mishra, Chief Custom Officer Mr. Hem Chandra Sharma, Janakpurdham SMC Senior Official Mr. Pradeep Sah, DYN Dhanusha President Mr. Dhiraj Sah, and Mr. Ram Charitra Sah, Executive Director of CEPHED. An asbestos factsheet, posters and booklets on asbestos were distributed to participants. See: Photo of Mr. Ram Charitra Sah, Executive Director of CEPHED addressing October 6 meeting.
 

Ban Asbestos Bill

Oct 15, 2018

On October 10, 2018, 20 environmental campaigners displayed a banner in central Bogota saying “Congressmen: we all pay for your cowardice,” to draw attention to the Senate’s continued failure to debate ban asbestos legislation which has been pending since October 2017. Congressman Nadia Blel has said the delay was “unacceptable,” asserting that the draft law “aims to save lives.” She has called on the Senate President to make consideration of this bill a priority. See: A paso lento camina en el Congreso la prohibición del asbesto en Colombia [At a slow pace the Colombian asbestos ban moves in Congress].
 

Nonoccupational Exposure

Oct 15, 2018

On October 11, 2018, the Supreme Court of Virginia issued a 4:3 ruling in the case of Quisenberry v. Huntington Ingalls which confirmed the responsibility of an employer for asbestos injuries sustained by an employee’s family member, declaring that the company also had a duty of care to nonemployees. The case was referred to the Court by U.S. District Judge Arenda Allen of the Eastern District of Virginia who asked for clarification regarding the employers’ liability for asbestos exposure to the nonemployee. The case has now been referred back to Judge Allen. See: Split Virginia Supreme Court Finds Duty of Care for Asbestos Exposure to Nonemployees.
 

Asbestos Victim’s Victory!

Oct 12, 2018

A Court of Appeal decision handed down in Sydney, Australia on October 10, 2018 is being heralded as a victory for asbestos victims. The case was brought by Marion Talifero, the widow of John Talifero, a painter and decorator who died from mesothelioma having been occupationally exposed to James Hardie (JH) asbestos. JH argued that as British-born Mr Talifero had also been exposed to asbestos when he had served as a stoker in the Royal Navy, JH should only pay 52% of the compensation awarded. While the Supreme Court had agreed with them the Court of Appeal did not and ruled that JH pay 100% of the compensation awarded. See: Widow's court win halts company bid to slash asbestos payouts.
 

Asbestos Lobby: Update

Oct 12, 2018

The Canadian domiciled International Chrysotile Association (ICA), formerly known as the Asbestos International Association, has led global marketing efforts to promote sales of chrysotile asbestos for decades. In 2013, the ICA had 23 directors from 16 asbestos stakeholding countries; now it has just six directors, having recently lost Brazilian director Rubens Rela Filho, who had represented the Cana Brava mine. (The Brazilian Supreme Court in November 2017 ruled that the use and sale of asbestos was unconstitutional.) Concerns about the validity of the ICA’s status as a Canadian non-profit organization are discussed in the article: International asbestos lobby loses another member.
 

Raising Asbestos Awareness

Oct 12, 2018

Organizers of an asbestos educational event entitled: Strengthening knowledge and skills to diagnose asbestos-related diseases which is being held in Jakarta, Indonesia on October 13, 2018 have confirmed that all the seats to the event at Binawan University have now been booked. Delegates will hear presentations by leading asbestos medical specialists including: Dr. Anna Suraya (Germany), Professor Jeung Sook Kim (Korea), and Dr. Aziz Ghani Ikhsan and Dr. Agus Dwi Susanto from Indonesia. Attending the sessions will be a range of medical and health practitioners. See: Asbestos Seminar: Update.
 

Ban Asbestos Mobilization

Oct 11, 2018

The Indonesian Ban Asbestos Network (INA-BAN) and The Local Initiative OSH Network (LION), in collaboration with Australia’s Union Aid Abroad (APHEDA), organized a two-day asbestos awareness workshop and strategy meeting in Jakarta this week. Representatives of three trade union confederations, eleven federations and non-governmental organizations learned about conflicting legislation in Indonesia regarding the use of asbestos products, the hazards posed to workers and members of the public by asbestos exposures and the ban asbestos policies of international organizations. See: Photo.
 

Asbestos at School

Oct 11, 2018

As the new school year began in Belgium, municipal authorities have refused to publish asbestos audits showing contamination of schools, citing their belief that parents will react unreasonably to the presence of asbestos at their children’s schools. So far, only two of Brussels’s 19 communes have published asbestos inventories of their schools online. Emir Kir, Mayor of Saint-Josse commune, has refused to upload this information saying: “There is a legal obligation to have asbestos inventories, but we do have them, but I want to be very cautious with the communication of this information, which can create unnecessary fear within the population.” See: L’amiante, encore un sujet tabou à Bruxelles [Asbestos, another taboo subject in Brussels].
 

Scrapping of Toxic Trains

Oct 11, 2018

It was announced on Tuesday, October 9, 2018 that Argentinian trains purchased in 2011 for €4 million by the former mayor of Buenos Aires from the Spanish company Metro de Madrid will be scrapped because of asbestos contamination. After news was released about asbestos in the Spanish trains, an investigation was carried out in Argentina which confirmed the presence of asbestos on trains (model CAF500) on Line B of the Buenos Aires Metro. See: Argentina hará chatarra los trenes que le vendió Metro en 2011 al hallar Amianto [Argentina will scrap the trains that Metro sold in 2011 when it found asbestos].
 

Asbestos at Grenfell Tower

Oct 10, 2018

NHS England announced this week that it would provide £50 million over the next five years to fund a new health screening programme for survivors of, and first responders to, the Grenfell Tower fire – which took place on June 14, 2017 – to monitor their physical and psychological health. Asbestos-containing products were used in the construction of the North Kensington, London high rise which was built in 1974. As the latency period of asbestos-related diseases can be from 10 to 50 years, the short-term nature of this initiative will be of limited value. See: Grenfell Tower fire: NHS announces £50m health-screening programme in wake of asbestos fears.
 

Asbestos Protest!

Oct 10, 2018

On October 6, 2018, a demonstration took place involving asbestos victims’ groups from Spain, the UK, France, Belgium and Italy at the Plaça de Sant Jaume in Barcelona to make manifest the demands for recognition and support by those whose lives had been damaged by state-sanctioned exposures to asbestos during the 20th century. The protest was organized by the Associació de Víctimes Affectades per l'Amiant de Catalunya (AVAAC) and the Ronda Collective and took place after an asbestos conference and other asbestos activities on October 4 & 5, 2018. See: Las víctimas del amianto reclaman justicia en Barcelona [Asbestos victims claim justice in Barcelona].
 

More Toxic Imports from China

Oct 10, 2018

It has been announced that the Australian company – Fortescue Metals Group, a Perth-based mining giant – which imported 3,5000 asbestos-contaminated rail carriages from China will not be prosecuted for infringing the country’s strict prohibitions on asbestos. The toxic carriages were imported between 2007 and 2014; when the contamination was discovered in 2017, the company notified the authorities at Worksafe and took action to prevent further exposures to asbestos contained in the wheel chassis of ore cars. Licensed removal operatives are replacing the asbestos components. See: Asbestos found in 3,500 Chinese-made imported rail carriages.
 

Asbestos Alert by MoD

Oct 10, 2018

Ministry of Defence (MoD) officials are trying to trace former employees, including civilian technical staff, who worked on Sea King helicopters since they entered service in the late 1960s, after asbestos contamination, was found. Commenting on the current situation a MoD spokesperson confirmed that an asbestos removal program was being implemented and that the MoD “are contacting those who may have been exposed in the past, detailing the actions they should take.” See: Asbestos fears over Sea King helicopter ground crews.
 

Madrid’s Asbestos Metro

Oct 10, 2018

Yet more asbestos has been found on Madrid Metro trains with the company recently announcing that insulating paint for “insulation and interior coating of the cabin and enclosure panels, as well as metal plates under the frame” on thirteen trains (model 2000A) on line 1 were found to contain asbestos. The company reassured train personnel and passengers that the contaminated paint did not pose “any risk.” See: Metro de Madrid detecta también amianto en pintura aislante en trenes de la línea 1 [Madrid Metro also detects asbestos in insulating paint on trains on line 1].
 

Please Buy Our Asbestos!

Oct 1, 2018

Despite the Vietnam Government’s declaration that it plans to ban asbestos use in construction materials, Russian asbestos producers continue efforts to sell asbestos to Vietnam via various channels including diplomatic meetings such as one which took place in September 2018 between Evgeny Kuyvashev, the governor of the Sverdlovsk region – the source of Russian asbestos – and Ngo Phuong Ngi, the consul general of Vietnam. During the meeting Kuyvashev reminded Ngo Phuong Ngi that Vietnam “is a traditional consumer of the Urals chrysotile-asbestos.” See: Губернатор встретился с генконсулом республики [Kuyvashev offered Vietnam asbestos and participation in the construction of the Metro.]
 

Solidarity in Ban Asbestos Campaign

Oct 1, 2018

In recent days, Australian trade unionists – working with organizers from Australia’s Union Aid Abroad (APHEDA) – have been meeting with leading campaigners in Indonesia’s ban asbestos movement to see first-hand grassroots initiatives being rolled out to raise public awareness of the asbestos hazard – including a visit to the city of Bandung to observe ban asbestos activities of the Local Initiative for OHS Network (LION) on Bandung Car Free Day and meeting members of the Serbuk Union and the Center for Indonesia Medical Students to learn about their asbestos outreach activities. See: APHEDA (Facebook) Photo.
 

Asbestos Hazard at Port

Oct 1, 2018

On September 26, 2018, a court in Cádiz, Spain awarded compensation to the family of a deceased stevedore who died of mesothelioma, having been exposed to asbestos brought into the port as cargo. The defendants – the Port Authority of the Bay of Cádiz and State Warehouse and Unloading Company of the Port of the Bay of Cádiz – were ordered to pay compensation of €150,000 to the family of the deceased. Large amounts of asbestos were shipped through the Cádiz port until the 1980s; this is the second such asbestos verdict issued by a Cádiz court. See: La APBC deberá indemnizar a los herederos de un estibador [The APBC must compensate the heirs of a stevedore].
 

Asbestos Industry Offensive

Oct 1, 2018

In response to growing ban asbestos mobilization in Sri Lanka (see: South Asia Asbestos Strategy Meeting), an industry lobbyist from the Fibre Cement Products Manufacturer’s Association wrote a letter to Sri Lanka’s Daily News which reiterated discredited asbestos industry propaganda alleging that: the use of white (chrysotile) asbestos is safe under modern, controlled conditions; once asbestos fibers are enclosed within a cement matrix fibers cannot be liberated; people living or working in premises with asbestos roofing were safe from toxic airborne exposures. See: ‘Chrysotile Conundrum’ Clarified.
 

Quebec’s Asbestos Refusniks

Oct 1, 2018

According to an article uploaded by Canadian health and safety activist Kathleen Ruff, leaders of the Quebec Liberal Party, the Quebec Party, and the Coalition avenir Québec – three out of 4 of Quebec’s top political leaders – “reject the scientific community’s recommendations regarding the dangers of asbestos…[and] continue in 2018 to collaborate with the position of the asbestos industry, which allows Quebec workers to be exposed to ten times higher amounts of asbestos fibres than is permitted in the rest of Canada, the United States, Europe or the Western world.” See: Three of Quebec’s four political leaders do not support the scientific evidence on asbestos.
 

Post-Fire Asbestos Hazard

Oct 1, 2018

Media reports and warnings on facebook were published last Thursday documenting a public safety alert issued to people in the small New Zealand town of Waipu, in the Northland Region, after a major fire in the town’s center had created an asbestos hazard. Advice from the authorities was for people to remain indoors until remediation work had been undertaken to clear up toxic debris created by the blaze which began at 1:20 a.m. on September 30 at the Waipu Cafe and Deli on Cove Rd. Ten fire crews were called to the site. See: Waipu residents warned to stay indoors after major fire brings asbestos risk.
 

Progressing Asbestos Bans in Asia

Sep 28, 2018

A media release issued today (September 28) by the Electrical Trades Union of Australia on behalf of an Australian delegation recently returned from a fact-finding trip to Asia commended the decision by the Vietnam Prime Minister to stop asbestos roof sheet production by 2023 at the latest and applauded the determination of Vietnam trade unions and grassroots groups for efforts to warn workers and consumers about the asbestos hazard and campaign for the adoption of a comprehensive national asbestos ban. See: Australian Delegation Commends Vietnam PM and Trade Unions’ Commitment to Achieving a Complete Asbestos Ban.
 

Urban Renewal and Asbestos

Sep 28, 2018

A 9-minute clip uploaded to YouTube highlights the environmental hazards posed by the widespread demolition in Turkey of asbestos-containing buildings where no work had been done to decontaminate properties prior to buildings being knocked down. For decades, asbestos was extensively used in Turkey and developers continue to ignore the hazards posed to workers and members of the public by the asbestos liberated during urban renewal projects which are ubiquitous in Turkey nowadays. See: Asbest: Yıkımla Saçılan Ölüm [Asbestos: Death from Demolition].
 

Reducing Lung Cancer

Sep 28, 2018

An upload to the website of Cancer Research UK cited new European research that found that the number of lung cancer deaths amongst men at high risk of contracting lung cancer was 26% lower in those who had had a CT scan. These results were reported by Dr Harry De Koning from the Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam who presented a paper on this subject at the World Conference on Lung Cancer in Toronto, Canada this week. Currently, there is no national lung screening program in the UK; the implementation of such a protocol is down to the National Screening Committee. See: Screening scans ‘could cut lung cancer deaths’.
 

Mesothelioma in Quebec

Sep 27, 2018

Responding to an enquiry from the Montreal Gazette, the Quebec Health Ministry released figures on September 24, 2018 which revealed that the number of cases of mesothelioma in Quebec had almost doubled since 2010 – from 45 in 2010 to 88 in 2017. Civil servants working for Quebec’s Institute of Public Health as well as health and safety activists (see: More Canadians than ever dying from asbestos) believe that these figures under-report the true incidence of the disease as many doctors do not report cases of this asbestos cancer. See: Number of Quebec cases of mesothelioma nearly double since 2010: report.
 

Prevention is the Cure

Sep 27, 2018

A budget of €300,000 has been allocated by the Ministry of Public Health and Constructiv – an organization offering services to the construction sector – to finance a campaign to raise asbestos awareness amongst workers and apprentices in the construction industry including employees, the self-employed and do-it-yourself practitioners. Means of preventing toxic exposures will be highlighted – such as the use of protective clothing and specialized equipment and the need for operatives to decontaminate themselves after finishing work. The campaign was launched on September 25, 2018 and will end in August 2019. See: 250 nouvelles victimes de l’amiante par an [250 new asbestos victims per year].
 

Asbestos at Court

Sep 27, 2018

In the aftermath of the death of Françoise Bienvenu, a 62-year old judge who had worked at the court in Créteil between 1992 and 2002, from the asbestos cancer mesothelioma, her family, friends and work colleagues are trying to understand why asbestos remains present in the court building. Plans to remove asbestos from the Créteil court were postponed. The judge’s family has written to France’s Minister of Justice about the occupational asbestos exposure which caused the death of Françoise Bienvenu. See: Evry - Créteil: la garde des Sceaux saisie après le décès d’une juge d’un cancer de l’amiante [Evry - Créteil: the custody of the seals seized after the death of an asbestos cancer judge].
 

One Nation’s Asbestos Legacy

Sep 26, 2018

A thirty minute documentary uploaded to YouTube on September 25, 2018 considers the ongoing challenges posed by the Netherlands’ asbestos legacy on the 25th anniversary of the country’s asbestos ban. Subjects considered in this film include: the hazards posed by exposures to asbestos, the reality of living with asbestos diseases, the pervasive nature of asbestos contamination and the measures mandated to ensure that asbestos removal operations are carried out according to strict regulations. See: Documentaire ‘25 jaar asbestverbod in Nederland – toen, nu en morgen’ [Documentary ‘25 years since the asbestos ban in the Netherlands - then, now and tomorrow’].
 

Asbestos in the Underground

Sep 26, 2018

The discovery of asbestos in “bituminous paint applied as surface coating and insulation of the interior sheet metal panels and metal plates under the frame” of VAI and 2000 A underground vehicles has led to the withdrawal from service of six trains of the Metro de Madrid line 5. On September 24, 2018 the head of the maintenance service of Central Workshops of Metro de Madrid, Carlos Sancho, advised workers of the temporary suspension of maintenance on these two types of cars. See: Metro detecta más amianto en la línea 5 y en coches utilizados por empleados [Metro detects more asbestos on line 5 and in cars used by employees].
 

Asbestos in Scottish Schools

Sep 26, 2018

According to information received pursuant to a Freedom of Information request, 167 primary, secondary, nursery and assisted support schools in Glasgow contain asbestos. Commenting on this revelation, Hope Robertson, secretary of the Clydebank Asbestos Group, said: “Parents should be aware of the fact that they can request a look at the asbestos register. Schools must be able to produce that… Folk say we're scaremongering, but schools, especially the Consortium of Local Authority Special Programme (CLASP) facilities, have the old pipe insulation systems in them. They are covered in asbestos.” See: 150 Glasgow schools and nurseries contain deadly asbestos.
 

Asbestos Public Hearing

Sep 26, 2018

A public hearing was held on Tuesday, September 25, 2018 in the São Paulo city of Capivari to warn about the human health risks posed by exposures to asbestos. The Public Labor Prosecutor's Office (MPT) of Campinas, which convened the meeting, confirmed the occurrence of occupational exposures to asbestos at a tile and water tank factory in Capivari which was operated by the Brasilit company for 30 years; a thousand workers’ compensation lawsuits are pending. See: MPT apura contaminação por amianto em operários de fábrica em Capivari: ‘Cancerígeno,’ diz médico [MPT Seeks Asbestos Contamination in Factory Workers in Capivari: ‘Carcinogenic’ says doctor].
 

Municipal Asbestos Hotspots

Sep 26, 2018

At a meeting held in Getafe, Madrid on September 23, 2018, experts confirmed that people living in the southern part of Madrid were 10% more affected by asbestos than the rest of the city, with several asbestos-using manufacturers located in the area. Legal measures to obtain redress for asbestos injuries were explained during the meeting, with an Information Guide on Asbestos –edited by the Association of Victims Affected by Asbestos of Catalonia – being made available. See: El Sur de Madrid ha sufrido una exposición al amianto 10 veces superior al resto de la Comunidad Autónoma [The South of Madrid has suffered an exposure to asbestos 10 times higher than the rest of the Autonomous Community].
 

Ban Asbestos Hearings

Sep 25, 2018

A 13-minute segment shown on TV highlighted the adverse effects of human exposures to asbestos in preparation for a government hearing today (September 25, 2018) to examine calls to ban asbestos-containing brake pads in Georgia, a former Soviet republic (see: Call for asbestos free brake pads to improve air quality and public health in Georgia). It has been estimated that 5,000 workers die every year in Georgia from asbestos-related injuries. See: რომელი ნაწარმი შეიცავს მავნე მინერალს და რა რაოდენობის აზბესტის შემცველი პროდუქტი შემოდის საქართველოში [Which products in Georgia contain deadly asbestos and how much do they contain].
 

Asbestos in Hospitals

Sep 25, 2018

A BBC Freedom of Information request revealed that 92% of NHS trust buildings in Britain still contain asbestos. United Lincolnshire Hospital’s Trust – which runs Lincoln County Hospital, Pilgrim Hospital in Boston and Grantham Hospital – has confirmed that asbestos is present at all of these sites but maintains that the risk to patients and staff is “very low.” MP Jo Stevens, who chairs the Parliamentary All Party Asbestos Sub-Group has concerns: “We need to be very sure that proper procedures are in place to either have it removed or, if they are saying it is safe, there is evidence to show that it is safe. We can’t just take things at face value.” See: NHS issues statement after BBC investigation reveals every hospital site in Lincolnshire has asbestos.
 

Replacement of Asbestos Roofs

Sep 25, 2018

A five-year project which began in April 2018 undertakes to replace asbestos roofing on 823 houses originally intended for workers at the Rio Tinto Rössing Uranium mine in Namibia; after independence the ownership of the houses was transferred to the government. A budget of N$28 million has been allocated by the Rössing Foundation for this work. Asbestos remediation has already been accomplished on 20 properties. Commenting on her new zinc aluminium roof, local resident Linda Hei-Gauses said: “The asbestos roofs were dangerous, and over the years they were damaged… It was also nerve-wracking when the children would jump on the roofs, either causing more damage, or injuring themselves.” See: Arandis' first asbestos-free houses completed.
 

Asbestos and Workers’ health

Sep 24, 2018

An asbestos public hearing – organized by the Public Labor Ministry – is taking place tomorrow (September 25, 2018) afternoon in Capivari, a city in São Paulo State. The theme of the session which is being chaired by labor attorney Alvamari Cassillo Tebet is “Exposure of workers to asbestos and its consequences to health.” Amongst those attending will be representatives of the Public Ministry of Labor and the Public Prosecutor's Office, labor attorneys and members of the Brazilian Association of the Asbestos Exposed. See: Audiência Pública discutirá impacto do amianto na saúde do trabalhador [Public Hearing to Discuss Asbestos Impact on Worker’s Health].
 

Mesothelioma Research: Update

Sep 24, 2018

A mesothelioma workshop featured on the first day of the agenda of the 19th World Conference on Lung Cancer (WCLC 2018) of the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer (IASLC) which began in Toronto, Canada on Sunday, September 23, 2018. The prominent speakers who addressed participants in the crowded meeting room during the three-hour session included: Dr. Valerie Rusch, Dr. Harvey Pass, Dr. Marc de Perrot, Francoise Galateau-Salle, Dr. Aaron Mansfield and Dr. Marjorie Zauderer. A synopsis of the presentations concluded that: “The message for patients and their families is that experts are working hard on solving mesothelioma.” See: Reporting from IASLC’s World Conference on Lung Cancer 2018 – Mesothelioma Workshop.
 

Uralita’s Asbestos Legacy

Sep 24, 2018

A Sunday commentary considered the ongoing legacy of Spain’s asbestos use focusing on court verdicts, the most recent of which condemned the Uralita asbestos company for the health repercussions to members of the public who lived near a Uralita factory in Barcelona. On multiple occasions the company has been condemned for failing to ensure safe working and environmental practices with one lawyer putting it as follows: “the company did not act with due diligence regarding the known high risk of using asbestos…” See: Uralita: más de 20 años de condenas por atentar contra la salud [Uralita: more than 20 years of convictions for attacking health].
 

Another Court Victory!

Sep 21, 2018

On September 20, 2018, Presiding Judge Eguchi Toshiko of the Osaka High Court issued judgment in an appeal brought regarding a decision by the Osaka District Court which had held the Japanese government liable for asbestos injuries sustained by 33 construction workers. Toshiko found that the manufactures of asbestos-containing building products were also responsible for the damages sustained by the plaintiffs and awarded the claimants – including self-employed workers as well as employees – a total of 339 million yen (~US$3m). There are 15 similar lawsuits currently progressing through the Japanese judiciary; this is the 4th high court ruling to be issued. See: 大阪アスベスト訴訟 [Osaka Asbestos Lawsuit].
 

Banning Asbestos in Asia

Sep 21, 2018

The East Asia Asbestos Meeting was held in Hong Kong on September 20, 2018 and included delegates from China, Korea and Japan who discussed issues related to the continuing use of asbestos in the region. This event took place within days of the Southeast Asia Ban Asbestos Conference 2018 (Vietnam, September 13 & 14, 2018) and not long after the South Asia Asbestos Strategy Meeting (Sri Lanka, July 10 & 11, 2018). Sponsors of the September 20 meeting included the Asian Ban Asbestos Network, the Asia Monitor Resource Centre and the International Ban Asbestos Secretariat. See: Group photo.
 

Eternit Condemned!

Sep 21, 2018

A Brazilian Court has awarded compensation of R$1 million (US$240,000+) for moral and material damages to a former Eternit employee who contracted asbestos cancer as a result of occupational exposure. The Court held the company liable and condemned Eternit’s failure to protect workers from the human health risks of asbestos exposures; despite knowing that the use of asbestos could cause debilitating and fatal diseases to workers, the company’s use of this substance continued. See: Empresa Eternit é condenada a pagar indenização de 1 milhão para ex-funcionário [Eternit company is ordered to pay compensation of 1 million to former employee].
 

Compensation for Asbestos Anxiety

Sep 21, 2018

The Amiens Court of Appeal upheld a ruling that awarded 38 former employees from a plant in Northern France compensation for anxiety caused by the knowledge that they had been exposed to asbestos. Commenting on the conditions at the Hazemayer factory, a former employee said: “We cut and processed asbestos to make the necessary parts for the manufacture of fuses and circuit breakers. Every day we were handling carcinogens.” The Appeal Court increased the amount of damages from €4,000 set by the labor court to €8,000. See: Amiante: la cour d’appel d’Amiens donne raison aux anciens salariés d'Hazemayer à Saint-Quentin [The Court of Appeal of Amiens upholds claims by former employees of Hazemayer in Saint-Quentin].
 

Verdict for Non-Occupational Exposure

Sep 21, 2018

A court in Madrid has ruled that the Spanish asbestos multinational Uralita was negligent in allowing non-occupational asbestos exposures which resulted in 14 people in Barcelona’s Cerdanyola and Ripollet areas contracting asbestos-related diseases. The plaintiffs – who were awarded a total of €1.7m (~US$2m) – either lived with Uralita workers or within 2 kilometers of the company’s factory. Previous rulings held the company liable for asbestos diseases contracted by former workers. See: Uralita deberá indemnizar con 1,7 millones a afectados por el amianto de Cerdanyola y Ripollet [Uralita must compensate with 1.7 million the asbestos affected of Cerdanyola and Ripollet].
 

Mandatory Asbestos Removal

Sep 21, 2018

A decision by Judge Patrícia Erica Luna da Silva from the São Paulo district of Rosana has been handed down in response to a public civil action brought in May 2018 by the São Paulo Public Prosecutor's Office; the Judge has given the São Paulo Sewage Company (SABESP) 18 months to replace asbestos-containing water pipes in the Rosana district. The basis for this verdict is Law 12,684/ 2007 prohibiting asbestos use in São Paulo State; the constitutionality of this law was upheld by the Supreme Court in November 2017. See: Juíza manda Sabesp substituir tubulação de amianto no interior de SP [Judge orders SABESP to replace asbestos pipe in the interior of SP].
 

Asbestos in Schools

Sep 19, 2018

On September 17, 2018, a report by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) documented a significant failure to protect schoolchildren and teachers from hazardous exposures to asbestos (see also: one-page summation of ongoing failures by the EPA to perform “sufficient compliance inspections of schools to reduce asbestos exposure”). See full 26-page EPA report: EPA Needs to Re-Evaluate Its Compliance Monitoring Priorities for Minimizing Asbestos Risks in Schools.
 

Post-Earthquake Asbestos Hazard

Sep 19, 2018

Three months after the June 18, 2018 earthquake hit the Osaka area of Japan, some libraries, community centers, classrooms, and other facilities remain closed due to collapsed ceilings and materials containing asbestos. A multipurpose center – home to the central library, the municipal welfare department and the central community center – remains shut without any plans for reopening due to the threat posed by damaged asbestos-containing products in the building’s ceiling. The situation is replicated in buildings throughout the prefecture. See: Public facilities still closed since June Osaka quake for fear of asbestos exposure.
 

Asbestos Claimants’ Victories

Sep 19, 2018

Decisions this month have proved beneficial to asbestos-injured workers in Brazil. As a result of revisions to the National Classification System, people with injuries caused by occupational exposures to carcinogens who were insured by the National Social Security Institute can apply for early retirement. The 34th Labor Court of São Paulo awarded R$1million to a former Eternit worker who lost a lung to asbestos cancer following toxic exposures between 1976 and 1991. See: Trabalhador exposto a agente cancerígeno tem direito à contagem de tempo especial para aposentadoria [Worker exposed to carcinogenic agent is entitled to special time count for retirement].
 

SNCF Betrays Railway Workers

Sep 19, 2018

On September 5, 2018, the Reims Court of Appeal overturned a 2017 court ruling which awarded 72 railway workers the sum of €60,000 each (€30,000 compensation for anxiety and €30,000 for the company’s breach of obligations) for asbestos exposures experienced over a period of 12 years at the railway yards in Romilly-sur-Seine. The defendant in that case, the Société Nationale des Chemins de Fer Français (SNCF) – France’s state-owned railway company – appealed. The Reims Court’s ruling, which deemed the complaints “inadmissible,” has been soundly criticized by victims’ groups and unions. See: Amiante à la SNCF :la justice se fout de la santé des cheminots [Asbestos at the SNCF: justice does not care about the health of railway workers].
 

Asbestos Use and Misuse in the UAE

Sep 20, 2018

Although asbestos was banned in 2006 by a United Arab Emirates (UAE) statute and local building regulations stipulate that asbestos use on new construction projects is illegal, the UAE consumed more than 26,000 tonnes of asbestos in 2009. UAE legislation does not prohibit the import, production or use of asbestos-cement water pipes. Other practices which continue to endanger occupational and public health safety include the demolition of buildings containing asbestos, the reuse of discarded asbestos products and the unregulated dumping of asbestos-contaminated waste. See: Asbestos: There’s no time to lose.
 

UK’s Asbestos Failings

Sep 20, 2018

A new report entitled: “Why the UK Needs Tighter Asbestos Controls” concludes that UK asbestos safety regulations and preventative measures are weaker than those in other European countries which have less of a problem and calls for the implementation of stricter controls to prevent toxic exposures. Of particular interest is the discussion of impact of the cumulative effects of low-level asbestos exposures to contaminated products within the national infrastructure on the life expectancy of children. See: UK must bring its asbestos safety rules into line with rest of Europe.
 

Incentives for Replacing Asbestos Roofs

Sep 18, 2018

New legislation is being drafted in Italy which will provide financial incentives for replacing asbestos roofing with photovoltaic systems. According to the draft bill, which awaits approval by the Ministry of the Environment, eligibility will be dependent on installing solar panels after asbestos roofing has been removed. A budget of €250,000,000 has been approved for this initiative. Priority will be given to applications for work on schools, hospitals, other public buildings and other buildings open to the public. See: In arrivo il “bonus Amianto” [The “asbestos bonus” is coming].
 

Asbestos in the Air

Sep 17, 2018

Last week (September 12, 2018), the Ministry of Defence (MoD) announced that an investigation was proceeding to establish whether there was asbestos contamination of Sea King helicopters two years after a report by the Australian Defence Force had concluded that occupational asbestos exposure experienced on a Sea King helicopter by Petty Officer Greg Lukes had contributed to his cancer death (see: Petty Officer Greg Lukes' death linked to Sea King service). Considering the huge media coverage of this story – not least because Prince William had flown this type of helicopter – the MoD announcement was pretty uninformative. See: Sea king helicopters: asbestos.
 

Asian Campaign to Ban Asbestos

Sep 17, 2018

In September 12-14, 2018, trade unionists, asbestos victims’ campaigners and doctors from eleven countries in Southeast Asia met in Hanoi, Vietnam to build momentum for a regional ban on asbestos. Also taking part in the sessions were experts from Australia, the World Health Organization and Vietnam ministries. During the conference, it was announced that Vietnam would ban the use of asbestos roofing sheet in 2023. Sponsors of the conference included; Australia’s Union Aid Abroad (APHEDA), the Asian Ban Asbestos Network, the Asia Monitor Resource Centre, the International Ban Asbestos Secretariat and Solidar Suisse. See: Photo from South East Asia Ban Asbestos Meeting and also Facebook Video .
 

Asbestos Alert in Nigeria

Sep 17, 2018

An alert has been raised in Nigeria by Prince Gbolahan Lawal, the Lagos State Commissioner for Housing, who warned the public about the hazard posed by the use of asbestos in domestic premises: “asbestos ceilings are carcinogenic, it causes cancer and if you have it in your house you should try and change it’’ he told the News Agency of Nigeria. Lawal is calling for a nationwide program to raise awareness about the risk of asbestos in public and private buildings. See: LASG warns against use of asbestos in homes, says it is carcinogenic.
 

Asbestos Seminar in Bahia

Sep 17, 2018

On September 27, 2018 an asbestos seminar is being held in Vitória da Conquista, a city in the Brazilian State of Bahia, which will be addressed by Brazilian as well as international experts including: Dr. Marcia Kamei Lopez Aliaga, Engineer Fernanda Giannasi, asbestos victims’ leader Mr. Eliezer João de Souza, Professor Annie Thebaud-Mony (France) and Dr. Agata Mazzeo (Italy). The focus of the meeting will be on the public health problems and environmental impact caused by the commercial exploitation of asbestos in the Bahia mining town of Bom Jesus da Serra between 1939 and1967. See: Seminário do Sudoeste Baiano sobre o Amianto [South West Bahia Seminar on Asbestos].
 

Another Court Victory

Sep 15, 2018

For the third time, on August 31, 2018 a Japanese court ruled in favour of construction workers injured by occupational exposure to asbestos when the Osaka High Court held the government and 10 construction material manufacturers liable to pay ¥302 million (US$2.7m) in damages to 27 former construction workers or their surviving families. In its ruling, the Osaka High Court recognized the government’s responsibility for health problems suffered by self-employed operatives; presiding judge Naoyuki Tagawa said: “If the state’s measures to regulate asbestos were substantially unreasonable, they should inevitably be considered to be illegal.” See: Osaka High Court orders government, 10 firms to pay ¥302 million in damages over asbestos exposure.
 

The Human Cost of Asbestos Use

Sep 15, 2018

A paper, which has recently been published, estimated that the occupational burden of disease (OBD) of asbestos-related diseases (ARDs) in Korea between 1998 and 2013 was: 4,492 deaths due to all ARDs and 71,763.7 potential years of life lost (PHYLL). The study showed that although asbestos use in Korea has been banned, the incidence of ARDs is increasing. The authors recommended that to reduce OBDs of ARDs in Korea, measures should be taken to achieve the early detection and proper management of ARDs. See: Occupational Burden of Asbestos-Related Diseases in Korea, 1998–2013: Asbestosis, Mesothelioma, Lung Cancer, Laryngeal Cancer, and Ovarian Cancer.
 

Asbestos: The Battles Continue

Sep 15, 2018

In the aftermath of the Brazilian Supreme Court’s 2017 ruling which declared the use of asbestos unconstitutional, more details have been emerging about the ongoing struggle for official recognition and compensation by workers and their families injured by asbestos exposures. Asbestos defendants – including nationally known companies such as Eternit and Saint Gobain – which had used diverse measures, some illegal, to avoid their asbestos liabilities are now facing an uphill battle as courts recognize the defendants’ responsibilities for causing asbestos injuries to employees and award substantial damages to claimants. See: Mortes silenciosas [Silent deaths].
 

Asbestos Workers Unionize

Sep 15, 2018

In an election held on August 31, 2018 at the Everest Industries Ltd. asbestos factory in Kolkata, West Bengal, workers turned their backs on the pro-management trade union and voted to be represented by the Everest Industries Ltd Permanent Employees Union (Registered No 28210) which is supporting calls for the transition by Everest to an asbestos-free technology. There was strong opposition to the new union from management as well as local and federal politicians, some of whom were present during voting in an alleged attempt to sway the vote. At its first executive meeting after the vote, the union called for joint action by all India’s asbestos workers. See: Asbestos Workers of Kolkata have won the first battle.
 

Asbestos in Schools

Sep 15, 2018

On August 30, 2018, members of the group “Equal Education” picketed the Gauteng education department in Johannesburg to highlight failures to address the asbestos contamination of schools. The demonstrators condemned the plans to remediate asbestos at 29 schools by 2020 as “wholly insufficient” and called for action on the asbestos hazard at all schools: “The dangers of asbestos are so severe that any school infrastructure made out of asbestos, even partially, should be a priority... it is inhumane to continue to risk the health of [pupils], teachers, school administrative staff and the school's community through continued exposure to asbestos.” See: Equal Education demands that asbestos schools be replaced.
 

Calls for Ban on Asbestos Brakes

Sep 12, 2018

A recent report submitted to the Parliamentary Committee Inquiry into the atmospheric air conditions in Tbilisi, the capital of the Eurasian country of Georgia, highlighted the need for greater public awareness and political action on the threat to public health posed by the ongoing use of asbestos brake pads. The author, Gela Kvashilava of the NGO Partnership for Road Safety, recommended: legislation to ban asbestos brake pads, increased monitoring of imported products, the introduction of initiatives to encourage the use of asbestos-free alternatives and further research regarding the hazard posed by asbestos exposure of construction workers. See: Call for asbestos free brake pads to improve air quality and public health in Georgia.
 

Union Calls for Asbestos Action

Sep 12, 2018

Last month (August 2018), the Australian Council of Trade Unions strongly condemned the failure of the Turnbull Government to adopt measures recommended by a Senate investigation to eliminate illegal and toxic asbestos imports. ACTU Assistant Secretary Michael Borowick was critical of the multiple loopholes that continued to endanger lives: “When importers bring asbestos or contaminated products to Australia they put working people and the public at risk. We have seen contaminated products end up in the Perth Children’s Hospital, in crayons and in quad bikes.” See: ACTU media release: Government’s weak response to asbestos recommendations.
 

Asbestos Remediation Ordered!

Sep 12, 2018

In a Judgment on August 14, 2018 India's National Green Tribunal mandated that Hyderabad Industries Ltd. undertake environmental decontamination of former asbestos mining areas in the Indian state of Jharkhand and pay compensation to individuals injured by toxic exposures. This landmark judgment ordered that a committee of government officials submit a plan by September 2018 stipulating measures which will be implemented to protect the health of nearby tribal communities. See: Tribal Communities Score Asbestos Clean Up [Victory].
 

Metrics of ARD Research Areas

Sep 12, 2018

A paper published by scientists from Asia, Australia and North America details a “declining emphasis” on research into the impact on public health of asbestos exposures based on a study of relevant articles published between 1991-2016. Recognizing the sizable burden of asbestos-related diseases (ARDs) – “most of the world’s population live in countries where asbestos use continues” – the authors highlighted the continuing need for primary prevention. See: Bibliometric analysis of gaps in research on asbestos-related diseases: declining emphasis on public health over 26 years.
 

Asbestos Alert by the MoD

Sep 12, 2018

It is feared that thousands of members of the Royal Air Force may have been exposed to asbestos-containing products installed on Sea King helicopters. In August 2018 the Ministry of Defence (MoD) announced that the removal of suspected parts from aircraft which have been in use since 1969 has been made a priority after evidence was given about the hazard in an Australian Defence Force report into the 2014 death of Australian serviceman Petty Officer Greg Lukes, an avionics technician who maintained Sea Kings in New South Wales. Warnings have also been given to foreign governments and civilian organisations which bought former UK military Sea Kings. See: Asbestos warning for Sea King helicopter staff.
 

EPA’s Asbestos Scandal

Aug 9, 2018

A flurry of articles appeared this week highlighting the effects of the change in direction by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regarding the use of asbestos, a carcinogenic substance which President Trump has defended on multiple occasions. In his book: The Art of the Comeback (1997), Trump wrote that asbestos was “100 percent safe, once applied.” A Rolling Stone feature entitled “More Asbestos! More Asbestos! More Asbestos!” highlighted an episode of The Simpsons in which those words were the rallying cry for a school election campaign. See: More Asbestos! More Asbestos! More Asbestos!.
 

Asbestos-free Classrooms!

Aug 9, 2018

On August 10, 2018, South Africa’s Minister of Environmental Affairs, Dr. Edna Molewa will officially present five “asbestos-free” classrooms in Sealane Primary School to the local community in Mafefe village, Limpopo Province under a project run by the Department of Environmental Affairs to eliminate asbestos exposure of communities and raise public awareness about the health and environmental hazards posed by asbestos contamination. See: South Africa: Minister of Environmental Affairs to Officially Launch and Handover 5 “Asbestos - Free” Classrooms at Sealane Primary School and a Road at Mafefe.
 

British Asbestos Newsletter

Aug 9, 2018

The Summer 2018 issue of the British Asbestos Newsletter is now available online. The lead article entitled “Britain’s Asbestos Landscape 2018” provides a timely update on mobilization for asbestos justice, the availability of new asbestos cancer data and the importance of specialized nursing for mesothelioma patients. The second article reviewed presentations made and discussions that ensued at the June 26, 2018 Parliamentary Asbestos Seminar of the House of Commons. The keynote presentation was made by one of the world’s leading ban asbestos campaigners, Brazilian engineer and asbestos activist Fernanda Giannasi. See: Issue 107, British Asbestos Newsletter.
 

Grassroots Asbestos Initiative

Aug 9, 2018

The most recent issue (April-June, 2018) of the quarterly newsletter published by the Bangladesh Occupational Safety, Health and Environment Foundation (OSHE) included a feature about asbestosis diagnosis camps for shipbreaking workers – known to be at high risk of occupational asbestos exposures – which were held in Chattogram, Bangladesh on March 30, April 13 and 27, and May 4, 2018. The ten person medical team, which was headed by Dr. Faizul Ahsan Shubro, examined seventy-five patients; tests results are pending. See: OSHE Newsletter (April-June 2018).
 

Asbestos Propaganda

Aug 8, 2018

On August 6, 2018, the day before Ukraine’s Ministry of Health returned to court to progress litigation seeking to reinstate the national ban on asbestos, an online article in Russian was uploaded to a Ukraine news platform which downplayed the human health hazard posed by asbestos exposures with misinformation and lies including the following: chrysotile asbestos does not deteriorate, numerous studies have shown that exposure to chrysotile is not harmful, chrysotile asbestos dissolves “easily even in a weakly acidic medium (such as is found in human lungs),” and exposure to asbestos poses “minimal risk.” See: Асбест и его влияние на человека. Стоит ли опасаться асбеста? [Asbestos and its effect on man. Should I be afraid of asbestos?].
 

Asbestos Comeback?

Aug 8, 2018

Under a rule which came into force on June 1, 2018 enacted by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) – Significant New Rule (SNUR) – the use of new asbestos-containing products has become a real possibility. SNUR, which gives the upper hand to chemical manufacturers, allows producers to apply on a case-by-case basis for permission to incorporate asbestos, a substance banned in most other industrialized nations, into products. As shocking as this is, it just another one of the outrageous actions being taken to roll back health and safety protections under the Trump Administration. See: EPA is now allowing asbestos back into manufacturing.
 

Economic Burden of Asbestos Diseases

Aug 8, 2018

In June 2018, Australia’s Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency published a report, entitled The economic burden of asbestos-related disease, which assessed the nation’s economic and social costs in 2015 due to asbestos-related diseases at A$192 million for hospital and primary care costs and A$321million for indirect costs due to lost production resulting from premature deaths. The figure estimated for the monetary value of lost quality of life in 2015 was A$10.8 billion. It is of interest to note that this report estimated that there were 5.2 cases of asbestos-related lung cancer for each case of mesothelioma. See: The economic burden of asbestos-related disease.
 

Vietnam’s Asbestos Phase-Out

Aug 6, 2018

Pursuant to the order by the Prime Minister of Vietnam that the use of asbestos in manufactured construction materials be ended by 2023 at the latest, grassroots initiatives are being implemented by groups such as the “Center for Consulting, Transfer of Science and Technology, Environmental Protection for Ethnic Minorities in Mountainous Areas” of the Vietnam Academy of Ethnic Minorities to raise public awareness of the asbestos health hazard in more remote locales. Simultaneously, government support is being considered for the construction of asbestos-free homes for ethnic minorities. See: Cần sớm ngừng sử dụng amiăng [Asbestos use to stop soon].
 

Green Remediation Initiative

Aug 6, 2018

On August 2, 2018, Gianna Girotto, the President of the Italian Senate’s Industry Commission confirmed the government’s plans to restore tax incentives for the replacement of asbestos-cement roofing by the installation of photovoltaic panels to produce renewable energy. This announcement was made as a delegation of campaigners presented Minister of the Environment Sergio Costa with the #BastaAmianto petition signed by 55,000 Italians. In Italy there are between 1 and 2.5 billion square meters of asbestos-cement roofing on sheds, public and private buildings and other structures. See: Decreto rinnovabili, ci sarà un bonus amianto per il fotovoltaico [Renewable Decree, there will be an asbestos bonus for photovoltaics].
 

Transition from Asbestos Use

Aug 6, 2018

A commentary based on a session held at the 12th Brazilian Congress of Collective Health which took place recently in Rio de Janeiro drew on testimony by leading campaigners for the rights of asbestos victims to secure healthcare, social justice, environmental remediation and compensation. Despite the legal victory achieved by the 2017 Supreme Court ruling which declared the use of asbestos unconstitutional, much work remains to be done in the face of intransigent companies such as Dow Chemical which is refusing to transition from outlawed asbestos technology. See: Banimento do amianto: as conquistas de uma luta que precisa perdurar [Asbestos ban: the achievements of a struggle that must endure].
 

Asbestos Remediation in Schools

Aug 3, 2018

The Ministry of Education for Gyeongbuk Province, Korea has embarked upon asbestos removal work at 50 small schools during the summer vacation; the premises chosen each have relatively small amounts of contamination which can be remediated over a short period of time. Once the work has been completed, a monitoring team – composed of school officials, parents, external experts and representatives of private organizations – will inspect the premises. If there are findings of contamination, the removal process will be repeated until confirmation is received that the remediation work has succeeded. See: 여름방학 기간 학교 석면제거 [Eliminating asbestos at schools during the summer].
 

Fighting for Asbestos Justice

Aug 3, 2018

The 10,000 residents of the former asbestos mining town of Bom Jesus da Serra, in Brazil’s Bahia State, are engaged in a battle for social and environmental justice as they fight for the damage done to their town to be recognized and remediated by the guilty parties including the company which profited from the operations of the now derelict chrysotile (white) asbestos mine. From being passive supplicants townspeople have become activists campaigning for justice for the lives lost and damage done to those employed in the mine, their relatives and local people who were exposed to environmental contamination. See: A cidade onde nevava Amianto [The city where Asbestos was snowing].
 

Legal Milestone

Aug 1, 2018

A 43-page decision handed down on July 31, 2018 by the Court of Appeal in the case brought by Graham Dring on behalf of the Asbestos Victims Support Group (the Forum) against Cape Intermediate Holdings Ltd. (Cape) – as successor to Cape PLC, formerly one of the UK’s largest asbestos conglomerates – upheld the right of the Forum to access key documents which detail Cape’s “true knowledge of the dangers of asbestos products.” These documents may prove vital for people seeking to obtain recompense for injuries by throwing “light on the way early knowledge of the dangers of asbestos was hidden from the public.” See: Landmark Court of Appeal success for asbestos victim.
 

Thinking the Unthinkable!

Aug 1, 2018

A commentary published on July 31, 2018 asserted that under the pro-asbestos Trump administration, the use of carcinogenic asbestos products might increase; the Environmental Protection Agency’s “Significant New Use Rule” enacted on June 1, 2018, allows companies to petition the federal government for permission to use new asbestos-containing products on a case-by-case basis, even though a 2016 amendment to the Toxic Substances Control Act mandated that the EPA prioritize a risk evaluation of the use of asbestos and 9 other substances. See: Under Trump’s EPA, asbestos might be making a comeback.
 

Sicily’s Asbestos Epidemic

Aug 1, 2018

Former Eternit worker Maria Imbesi has become the 150th person from the same factory to die from an asbestos disease; at the age of 82 years old, she succumbed to asbestosis as did her husband some years previously. She had worked on the production line at the Sacelit asbestos-cement plant in Sicily – known locally as the “factory of death” – for nearly three years; the factory manufactured asbestos pipes, flues, tank lids and other building products. She had been diagnosed with asbestosis in 2001. See: Amianto: 150esimo morto alla ex Sacelit [Asbestos: 150th death at the former Sacelit].
 

Asbestos Dumping: A Legacy Issue

Aug 1, 2018

Council workers in Newcastle City in New South Wales, Australia combed Stockton beach in hazmat suits last month collecting pieces of asbestos-containing debris washed ashore even as local people continued to use the beach as normal. The toxic flotsam is believed to have been produced by the worsening erosion of Stockton landfill sites. A Newcastle Council spokeswoman said: “The potential asbestos containing pieces pose a very low public health risk and council is removing them on a daily basis to reduce the risk even further, allowing Stockton beach to remain open to the community.” See: Newcastle City Council workers in Hazmat suits patrol Stockton beach daily for asbestos as new tip site uncovered.
 

NY Explosion: Assigning Fault

Jul 30, 2018

The asbestos fallout from the July 19, 2018 explosion of an asbestos-lined steam pipe in Manhattan was just one of a series of such events to have occurred since 1989. Despite knowledge that the asbestos-lined fifty-year old pipes which make up the 100 miles of steam lines under Manhattan were deteriorating, no action had been taken by the New York City administration or the Con Edison utility company. In a July 27th article, author G, Dunkel calls for the immediate replacement of all the asbestos pipes. See: Crumbling infrastructure spewed deadly asbestos.
 

Replacing Asbestos-Cement Pipes

Jul 30, 2018

On July 24, 2018 the local authorities in Pretoria handed over a construction site to contractors who will replace deteriorating 50-year old asbestos cement pipes in three areas east of Pretoria city over the coming months under the Ashlea Gardens Water Pipe Project. According to Darryl Moss, a spokesman for the utility company: “The existing water reticulation system … has reached the end of its design lifespan.” The avoidance of pipe breakages was vital to “cut down on water wastage and leakage.” According to the timetable for the project, 4400m of water network pipes will be replaced by June 2019. See: Ageing asbestos pipes being replaced.
 

The Safe Removal of Asbestos

Jul 27, 2018

During a Congress on Occupational and Environmental Safety and Health on July 25 & 26, 2018 in the City of Praia on Cape Verde, José Delgado, President of the southern region of the Order of Technical Engineers (OTS) of Portugal, said that the removal of asbestos contamination can be accomplished with “near zero risk” using state-of-the-art technologies and protocols. According to Delgado, “asbestos kills when there is no prevention…the employer has to make prevention and protection of occupational health” a priority. See: Remoção do amianto “em boas condições” tem risco de “quase zero” [Removal of asbestos “in good condition” risks “almost zero”].
 

Decline in Asbestos Research

Jul 27, 2018

A paper has been published which concludes that “the proportion of the overall scientific literature that is ARD related has declined substantially over the last quarter century, and that this decline was enhanced by a decrease in emphasis on public health…” In recognition of the ongoing use of asbestos in countries throughout the industrializing world, this trend is problematic; the authors recommend “setting research priorities with improved emphasis on public health” to bridge this gap. See: Bibliometric analysis of gaps in research on asbestos-related diseases: declining emphasis on public health over 26 years.
 

Legal Precedent in Scotland!

Jul 27, 2018

For the first time, a Scottish court has held an employer liable for a mesothelioma death caused by second-hand exposure to asbestos; the deceased, Adrienne Sweeney, had washed the contaminated work clothes of her husband William, an employee at the Babcock and Wilcox boiler-making factory in Renfrew in the 1960s. Damages of almost £250,000 were awarded to the family after a hard won legal battle further exacerbated by the death in 2008 of Mr. Sweeney. Fortunately, a former work colleague was able to provide vital testimony. See: Family's damages award over mother's 'second-hand asbestos' death.
 

Asbestos Risk in Manhattan

Jul 27, 2018

An article in the New York Times about the public health risk posed by asbestos liberated during the explosion – on July 19, 2018 – of a steam pipe in the Flatiron district of Manhattan quotes several experts who downplay the adverse health consequences of these exposures to people living or working in the area. Those at greater risk are, according to occupational physician Dr. Philip Landrigan, people “like Con Edison employees who have worked in the tunnels for years and now may be called in to help clean up the mess.” See: How Dangerous Is Asbestos From the Steam Pipe Explosion in New York?
 

Asbestos-Free: 2040 Deadline

Jul 24, 2018

This week the Flemish Government agreed to accelerate the phase-out program to eliminate the asbestos hazard in Flanders by 2040 via a staged action plan that prioritizes the removal of products containing non-bonded asbestos. The health risk posed by exposure to deteriorating asbestos-cement products, such as aging and weathered corrugated sheets, has also been recognized. Key dates are: by 2022, an asbestos inventory must be drawn up when a building is sold; by 2032 asbestos inventories will be required for all buildings built before 2001; by 2034, the most hazardous products must be remediated. See: Asbestveilig Vlaanderen tegen 2040 [Abestos-safe Flanders by 2040].
 

Hazard posed by Asbestos Mine?

Jul 24, 2018

This week, the New South Wales (NSW) Department of Planning and Environment released a report regarding the public health risk of the derelict Woodsreef asbestos mine, 15 km east of Barraba in the Northern NSW Tablelands, Australia which concluded that “the long term public health risk is likely to be negligible to low, for potential asbestos exposure arising from the abandoned mine site for adjacent communities and to members of the public that may have intermittent access to the mine site.” Public consultations about the findings will take place in the coming weeks with community members starting on August 8 at the Playhouse Hotel in Barraba. See: Woodsreef asbestos mine deemed to have low public health risk.
 

Corporate Asbestos Liability

Jul 24, 2018

On July 12, 2018, Latty International de Brou – a subsidiary of the French multinational Latty Industries – lost its appeal over the decision by the Administrative Court of Appeal of Nantes which had ruled that the company was responsible for all the liabilities arising from the asbestos death in 2008 of Pierre Funel, one of its workers. The arguments by Latty’s legal team that the State must bear some of the burden due to poor regulation of the asbestos hazard was dismissed by the appeal court. See: Procès de l’amiante : la société Latty International de Brou espérait la participation de l’État pour l’indemnisation des victims [Asbestos Trial: Latty International de Brou Expected State Contribution to Asbestos Liability].
 

Asbestos Documentary

Jul 23, 2018

On July 21, 2018, a new documentary called Inextinguible [Inextinguishable] was shown on Colombian TV. The film documents the campaign started by Ana Cecilia Niño, a mesothelioma sufferer who died in 2017 having been environmentally exposed to asbestos as a child, to outlaw the mining, processing, marketing and export of asbestos fiber and asbestos-containing products. Footage of Ana shows her testifying to the Congress which is in the process of considering a ban asbestos bill named after her. The work of other activists is featured in the film including that of her husband, Senator Nadia Blel and Greenpeace Colombia. See: Trailer for documentary film: Inextinguible [Inextinguishable].
 

Toxic Talc: In Brazil

Jul 23, 2018

An 8 minute segment on a Brazilian radio program focusing on the struggle for women’s civil, political and social rights was broadcast last week (July 18); it included an interview with Fernanda Giannasi, renowned ban asbestos campaigner and co-founder of the Brazilian Association of the Asbestos-Injured. Ms. Giannasi discussed a recent US court verdict awarding $4+ billion to claimants who contracted ovarian cancer after using asbestos-contaminated talc products and considered the relevance of this verdict for Brazilian women. See: Viva Maria: Após condenação sobre talco com amianto, associação quer análise do cosmético no Brasil [Viva Maria: After talc asbestos conviction asbestos, association urges analysis of cosmetic in Brazil].
 

Asbestos Removal in Schools

Jul 23, 2018

During the Summer holidays, Korea’s Ministry of Education and Ministry of Employment and Labor have ordered that asbestos be removed from classrooms in 641 schools nationwide. As traces of asbestos have been found even after removal operations had been completed, the government has mandated that the steel frames that held the asbestos in place be dismantled. Strict measures to prevent the liberation of asbestos during this remediation work will be enforced. The process will be monitored by technical experts and parents to ensure compliance with safety protocols. See: Steel Asbestos Frames to be Removed from Classrooms.
 

Mesothelioma in Women

Jul 23, 2018

Researchers studying the causation of malignant mesothelioma (MM) in women diagnosed between 1974 and 2015 at the Institute of Pathology, Aalborg University Hospital in Denmark, undertook an observational study to clarify asbestos exposure patterns amongst females in the North Jutland region. It was concluded that “non-occupational asbestos exposure is the main cause of MM and may account for up to 66% of MM cases among women in North Jutland, Denmark.” See: Non-occupational exposure to asbestos is the main cause of malignant mesothelioma in women in North Jutland, Denmark.
 

Post-blast Asbestos Concerns

Jul 20, 2018

In the early morning yesterday (July 19, 2018) a blast in the Flatiron district of lower Manhattan released asbestos into the environment; reports confirmed that asbestos had lined the steam pipes which exploded. The Mayor of NY Mr. de Blasio told New Yorkers: “We’re going to work from an abundance of caution… Now that we know there’s asbestos present, we’re not going to cut any corners. We’re going to be very thorough.” It is expected that asbestos remediation will continue until the weekend in the “hot zones,” near the blast site. See: Asbestos from Manhattan steam pipe blast forces evacuations.
 

Asbestos: An Imminent Hazard

Jul 20, 2018

Despite Spain’s 2002 ban on asbestos, 2.5 million tonnes remain within the national infrastructure, in buildings and installations of all kinds, including schools and water delivery systems. A video featuring Spanish experts – technical consultant to the CCOO trade union Óscar Bayona, pulmonologist Francisco Javier García Pérez and architect Pilar Pereda – has been uploaded in which they explain the current situation and give guidance about how workers and members of the public can be protected from hazardous exposures. See: Vivir rodeados de Amianto [Living surrounded by asbestos].
 

Asbestos on the Agenda

Jul 20, 2018

An asbestos fringe event at the annual Congress of the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) took place on July 17, 2018 in Melbourne, organized by the non-governmental organization Union Aid Abroad – APHEDA. Speakers on the program included: Judith Kiejda, of the New South Wales Nurses and Midwives’ Association, Terry Mason, of the National Tertiary Education Union, Michael Wright, Electrical Trades Union and Kate Lee, from Union Aid Abroad. Presentations during this session discussed progress in the campaign to ban asbestos in Asia. See: Global Solidarity to end Asbestos Use at ACTU Congress.
 

Conspiracy of Silence

Jul 20, 2018

Representatives of the asbestos victims’ campaigning group Asociación de Perjudicados y Afectados por Enfermedades (APENA) have denounced the existence of a “conspiracy of silence,” which prevents the collection of accurate data on the annual asbestos death toll and whitewashes death certificates by avoiding the mention of asbestos diseases as cause of death. APENA’s President Ricardo Torregrosa condemned multiple failures by the authorities to accept the widespread nature of the asbestos catastrophe which by 2015 had caused the mesothelioma deaths of 44 women who had washed their husband’s asbestos-contaminated work clothes. See: Los afectados por amianto alertan de que cada año fallecen 24 trabajadores [Those affected by asbestos warn that 24 workers die each year].
 

Asbestos Liabilities Increasing

Jul 20, 2018

The estimate for US asbestos-related losses due to claims and litigation has risen to an all-time high of $100 billion according to Fitch Ratings Inc., one of the world’s biggest credit rating agencies, according to news circulated on July 16, 2018. With US asbestos imports increasing and asbestophile Donald Trump in the White House, it is likely that asbestos-related claims will continue for the foreseeable future. See: Fitch raises asbestos claims estimate to $100bn.
 

Award for Omana!

Jul 17, 2018

Omana George has been honoured this month by being named the recipient of the Leslie Nickels International Health & Safety Award by the Occupational Health and Safety Section of the American Public Health Association (APHA). Ms. George has been a key force in progressing grassroots efforts throughout Asia to protect workers and members of the public from dangerous processes and substances – e.g. asbestos – during her years at the Asia Monitor Resource Center. The award will be presented at APHA’s 146th Annual Meeting & Expo from November 10 to14, 2018 in San Diego, California. See: News release of the Occupational Health and Safety Section of the American Public Health Association. Annual Awards 2018. July 13, 2018.
 

Screening At-Risk Individuals

Jul 17, 2018

Under Korean legislation, the authorities are obliged to carry out periodic medical screenings of people over 40 years old who lived within one kilometre of asbestos mining or processing operations as well as people who lived near shipyards. On July 16-19, 2018, clinics will be held in various districts of Changwon City in South Korea’s Gyeongnam Province at which basic health check-ups will be conducted. If required, follow-up examinations including chest CTs and pulmonary function tests will be performed. See: 창원시, 석면피해 의심지역 주민 건강영향조사 실시[Changwon City conducts a survey on the health of residents suspected of asbestos damage].
 

Asbestos in Schools

Jul 17, 2018

Valencia’s campaigning group “Fiber Cement, No Thanks” – supported by members of the Association of Asbestos Victims, Spain’s largest trade union: the Comisiones Obreras, the Federation of Mothers and Fathers-Valencia and other civil society groups – is demanding that the Department of Education remove asbestos from 38 educational premises in the Province. Although some remediation had been undertaken, serious concerns remain over the situation in dozens of buildings. See: “Fibrocemento, No Gracias” pide a Educación retirar el amianto de 38 centros [The movement “Fibrocemento, No Gracias” asks Education to remove asbestos from 38 centers].
 

Toxic Subway Cars

Jul 17, 2018

The latest debate regarding the suspected asbestos contamination of rolling stock purchased from the operators of the Madrid subway for use in Buenos Aires has resulted in the formation of a commission of enquiry which will be composed of members of political parties, the municipality, and trade union officials representing the subway workers; technical experts will be appointed to inform the process which is being undertaken by the Buenos Aires City Legislature to evaluate the risks for workers and users of the subway. See: Buenos Aires. Amianto en los subtes: Recalde impulsa una comisión investigadora [Buenos Aires. Asbestos in the subways: Recalde promotes a research commission].
 

Verbal Attack on Ukraine

Jul 16, 2018

A vituperative Russian language online article condemns Ukraine’s Ministry of Health saying: “most of the acute problems of today’s life of Ukrainians are somehow connected with the Ministry of Health (MoH)...” In 2017, the MoH announced that asbestos would be banned in Ukraine; the prohibitions were overturned by the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) as a result of which the MoH launched a lawsuit against the MoJ (see: Ukraine’s Fight to Ban Asbestos: Update). This one-sided diatribe asserts that there are much more important issues for the MoH to address than its obsession with banning asbestos, a substance which covers 75% of Ukrainian houses. See: МОЗ против асбеста: кто виноват и что делать? [MOH against asbestos: who is to blame and what to do?]
 

Toxic Talc: US Victory

Jul 16, 2018

Last week, after 6 weeks of testimony a jury in St. Louis, Missouri awarded $4.69 billion to 22 women and their families who claimed that decades of daily use of Johnson & Johnson’s (J&J) asbestos-contaminated talcum powder caused their ovarian cancer; this is the first US case to be decided regarding the causation of ovarian cancer by toxic talc. The six man and six woman jury deliberated for eight hours and decided that the plaintiffs should receive $550 million in compensatory damages and $4.14 billion in punitive damages from the company. The news of this huge victory has been reported all over the world including Russia, Brazil, China and throughout Europe. See: St. Louis jury returns $4.69 billion verdict in first trial linking baby powder, asbestos and ovarian cancer.
 

Lack of Asbestos Disposal Sites

Jul 16, 2018

Personnel from Kenya’s National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) are worried about the removal of asbestos roofing materials in Machakos County; there are no laws regulating asbestos removal and disposal in the country and no dumpsites certified to receive asbestos waste, according to the head of NEMA Titus Simiyu. In recognition of the current situation, Simiyu has issued warnings to concerned householders about the hazard and recommended they suspend asbestos removal work until the government has taken action to address the situation. See: “We Have Nowhere To Dispose Asbestos Wastes,” Warns NEMA Boss.
 

PR Snafu

Jul 16, 2018

As staff at customer services for Singapore SMRT Corporation – responsible for public transport in Singapore – told a commuter that all train brakes contained asbestos in an email sent on June 20, 2018, the company categorically refuted the allegation stating that:  “asbestos (banned in Singapore in the 1980s) is not used in any part of our MRT network.” The confusion was due to “human error caused by one of our customer relations staff putting his own words and sending the e-mail reply to a commuter too quickly.” See: SMRT refutes its own customer service email claiming that train brakes are lined with asbestos.
 

Creation of an Asbestos Fund

Jul 16, 2018

The election of Pedro Sánchez Pérez-Castejón as Spanish Prime Minister has given new impetus for calls from asbestos victims’ groups for the establishment of a national asbestos compensation fund, says Jon García from the Basque victims’ association Asviamie. In October 2017, a proposal by the Basque Parliament was accepted by the Spanish Congress; since then, however, progress has stalled and the current Congressional session ended without any further action. See: El Congreso saca del cajón el fondo del amianto tras un año de bloqueo [Congress takes the asbestos fund out of the drawer after one year of blocking].
 

Asbestos Imports

Jul 13, 2018

President Trump’s administration has imposed US tariffs on $200bn of Chinese exports including commonplace items such as luggage, shampoo, fish, fruit and wood. On page 43 of the 205 page document listing the new restrictions are Crocidolite (blue) asbestos (HTSUS code 2524.10.00) and Asbestos other than crocidolite (HTSUS code 2524.90.00). According to the most recent asbestos data from the US Geological Survey, the sole type of asbestos imported into the country is chrysotile (white). Clarification is now being sought. See: Request for Comments Concerning Proposed Modification of Action Pursuant to Section 301: China’s Acts, Policies, and Practices Related to Technology Transfer, Intellectual Property, and Innovation.
 

State Liable for Asbestos Damages

Jul 13, 2018

On July 9, 2018 the Administrative Court of Rennes, made public a decision which ordered the French State to pay a total of €340,000 in damages to 34 former workers who were exposed to asbestos at military shipyards; the claimants, all of whom worked for the Directorate of Shipbuilding (DoS) in Lorient and Brest and are all suffering from health problems, will receive sums ranging from €3,800 to €12,800. The Court ruled that the DoS had failed to provide “effective protection.” See: Amiante. L’État condamné à payer 340 000 euros aux ex-DCN de Lorient et Brest [Asbestos. State condemned to pay 340,000 euros to former DCNs of Lorient and Brest].
 

Our Asbestos is Safe!

Jul 11, 2018

In an interview published in July 2018, the technical director of Kostanai minerals, the largest chrysotile (white) asbestos producer in Kazakhstan, has asserted that the company has rebounded from the crisis of 2015-16 and that production levels are growing as international asbestos consumption increases. The director was optimistic about export sales to China, India, Sri Lanka, Uzbekistan, Ukraine, Tajikistan, Azerbaijan, Kyrgyzstan and domestic usage in a country in which 50% of all homes are roofed with asbestos-containing products. See: КАЗАХСТАНСКИЙ РЫНОК ХРИЗОТИЛА СТАБИЛЬНО РАЗВИВАЕТСЯ [Kazakhstan Chrysotile market is stable and developing].
 

Russian–US Asbestos Ties

Jul 11, 2018

A commentary detailing the asbestos connections between Russia and the US in the run-up to the upcoming Putin–Trump summit in Helsinki points out that Russia is poised to become the biggest asbestos exporter to the US now that Brazil has banned asbestos. On June 25, a Russian asbestos producer Uralasbest went as far as publicly thanking Donald Trump for his support of their industry in a Facebook post. The same day, Kostanai Minerals, the largest chrysotile asbestos producer in Kazakhstan, shared the Uralasbest post on its Facebook page. See: Russian Asbestos Giant Praises Trump Administration Actions to Keep Deadly Carcinogen Legal.
 

Calls for Asbestos Action

Jul 11, 2018

Despite massive public support for Colombia to ban asbestos and the adoption in October 2017 by the Senate of draft prohibitions, the current congressional session has ended with no action being taken. A recent commentary deplored the current stalemate, pointing out that Colombia’s current asbestos policy ignores warnings by international agencies regarding the dangers to human health posed by exposures to asbestos at work and at home. Ivan Duque, who was elected President last month (June 2018), is urged to fulfil his promise to save Colombian lives by adopting a ban asbestos decree. See: Presidente Duque proteja la vida, destierre el asbestos [President Duque protect life, banish asbestos].
 

WHO Asbestos Policy

Jul 9, 2018

An article entitled “71st World Health Assembly concludes, shedding no light upon asbestos or related diseases” which appeared on a Sri Lanka website (see: http://epaper.dailymirror.lk/epaper/viewer.aspx) on July 5, 2018 alleged that the World Health Organization (WHO) “seems to be changing its policy direction towards asbestos…. in future WHO will likely regard asbestos as an ‘environmental risk’ and asbestos-related diseases as ‘environmental diseases’ …” Responding to a press enquiry, a spokesperson for the WHO on July 6, 2018 stated categorically: “WHO confirms there is no change in its position [on asbestos].”
 

Asbestos in Island’s School

Jul 9, 2018

The Chief Minister of the Island of Jersey has been urged to take action on the hazard posed by asbestos in Jersey’s schools by Chris Keates, the general secretary of the National Association of Schoolmasters Union and Women Teachers (NASUWT). In an open letter to Senator John Le Fondré, she wrote: “More than 300 UK teachers have died of mesothelioma since 1980 in the UK, with the rate still increasing. These deaths are normally due to asbestos exposure in schools, which again is entirely preventable. NASUWT members in Jersey have also died of this disease.” See: Call to support Islanders suffering from asbestos-related condition.
 

No More Asbestos Houses!

Jul 9, 2018

On July 6, 2018 scores of protesters took to the streets of Port Louis, the capital of Mauritius, to demand decent housing, free of asbestos contamination. The demonstrators came from towns around the country including Henrietta, Case-Noyale, Grand-Gaube and Piton. According to a spokesman for the organizers of the event, although the government is aware of the health hazards posed by the thousands of asbestos houses on 59 sites no action has been taken to protect residents or remediate the contamination. See: Maisons en amiante: “Le relogement des habitants est une urgence nationale” [Asbestos houses: “Relocation of residents is a national emergency”].
 

Asbestos Textile Production

Jul 9, 2018

A paper published by Korean researchers documents the high levels of occupational and environmental asbestos contamination generated by an asbestos textile factory in Indonesia. Previously, the textile plant for this company had been sited in Korea. The asbestos concentrations inside and outside of the factory in Indonesia were about the same as those measured in Korea in the 1980s and 1990s. It is recommended that a larger-scale study of various asbestos exposure sources, including asbestos cement factories, shipyards, and mines, be undertaken. See: Monitoring and Simulating Environmental Asbestos Dispersion from a Textile Factory.
 

Banning Asbestos in Russia?

Jul 6, 2018

An online Russian article considers the inconceivable – what would happen if Russia banned asbestos. Detailing the economic importance of Uralasbest – the asbestos mining company which employs 5,000 of the 66,000+ inhabitants in the monotown of Asbestos – the author highlights steps taken by vested interests to prevent prohibitions including the mobilization of popular support, the implementation of political stratagems at home and abroad and the war of words between Russian asbestos lobbyists and global ban asbestos campaigners. See: Полмира считает асбест смертельно опасным веществом. Что будет, если его запретят в России? [Half the world considers asbestos a deadly substance. What will happen if it is banned in Russia?].
 

Say it with Flowers!

Jul 6, 2018

At the RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show this week there are many ornamental gardens designed to raise awareness for special causes amongst which is one inspired by the work of Mesothelioma UK, a charity which provides support for UK asbestos victims, and designed by David Domoney. In Domoney’s blog, he explains the the garden layout; on one side “a single border brimming with lush planting represents life before disease. On the other side, a propeller water feature resembles the fluidity of life and the sea. A sweeping porcelain Pavestone path in stark white invites the onlooker to take a journey between the two sides.” See: HS Hampton Garden Displays.
 

Asbestos Documentary

Jul 6, 2018

A film review in the current issue of The Lancet considers a 2018 US documentary entitled Dirty Laundry about the quest of two cousins to understand their grandmother’s death from mesothelioma, a cancer caused by exposure to asbestos. Although the piece by Caroline Lucas is somewhat critical of the filmmakers failure to get to grips with the extent of the corporate greed responsible for the deadly contamination of Libby, Montana, it concludes on a more positive note saying: “Dirty Laundry represents a new generation of awareness raising in the grassroots anti-asbestos movement in the USA, which is much needed as the delayed effects of exposure come home to roost.” See: Miracle mineral of mesothelioma: cancer and asbestos in the USA.
 

Shipbreaking and Asbestos

Jul 6, 2018

The legacy of Taiwan’s shipbuilding history includes illnesses contracted by former workers caused by occupational exposures to asbestos. The case of one 74-year old worker from Kaohsiung City who had worked in shipbuilding for 20 years was recently reported; the patient was diagnosed with malignant pleural mesothelioma. His treating physician recommended that other at-risk workers have regular chest X-rays and seek medical attention if they have symptoms such as a persistent cough, chest pain or asthma. See: 醫病》長期暴露於石棉工作環境罹癌7旬翁獲百萬職災理賠[“Medical disease” after long-term occupational exposure to asbestos].
 

UK Mesothelioma Mortality

Jul 5, 2018

The latest mesothelioma statistics have been published by the Health and Safety Executive and show that the number of deaths in 2016 from this asbestos cancer was 2,595. Since 2010 (2,360), the number of annual mesothelioma fatalities has risen by 10%, despite predictions that the national epidemic would peak at 2,040 per year by 2016. The reality of the situation is much graver than had been acknowledged by the authorities as the 2016 figures are 27% worse than had been forecast. With much of the 7 million tonnes incorporated within the national infrastructure still in place, there seems little chance that this epidemic will end any time soon. See: Mesothelioma in Great Britain.
 

NCARD News

Jul 5, 2018

Issue 12 of the Australian National Centre for Asbestos Related Diseases (NCARD) newsletter has just been published. Prominent among the items covered was the change of leadership at the Center, Australia’s leading asbestos cancer research facility, with Professor Bruce Robinson handing over to Professor Anna Nowak, both of whom having pioneered scientific studies into the causation and treatment of mesothelioma – a killer cancer widely feared in Australia, which has a mesothelioma mortality incidence amongst the highest in the world. Other developments covered in this issue include news of presentations and scientific advances accomplished by NCARD personnel. See: Newsletter of the National Centre for Asbestos Related Diseases, Australia.
 

Ban Asbestos Demos

Jul 4, 2018

Korean, Indonesian and Japanese asbestos activists held protests outside the Russian, Chinese and Kazakhstan embassies in Seoul, Korea on July 3, 2018, urging these countries to end the mining of deadly asbestos. At a press conference, the demonstrators explained that the majority of asbestos exported from these producing nations is sent to Asian countries which have few, if any, regulations for preventing deadly exposures to workers or members of the public. See: 환경단체 “러시아·중국·카자흐스탄, 죽음의 광물, 석면 채광 중단해야 [Environmental groups “Russia, China, Kazakhstan, should stop deadly asbestos mining”].
 

Progress: Asbestos Training

Jul 4, 2018

On June 25-29, 2018, the 15th program for asbestos removal specialists was run successfully, under the supervision of Mr. Furkan Yildiz, Assistant General Manager of Occupational Health and Safety, in compliance with legislation aimed to raise asbestos awareness amongst operatives working in the asbestos removal industry. To date, up to 40 training sessions have been run and 405 work safety experts have been awarded Asbestos Dismantling Specialist certificates. Last week’s course resulted in 24 candidates qualifying as Asbestos Removal Specialists. See: Asbest Söküm Uzmanlığı Eğitimleri Gerçekleştirilmiştir [Mandatory Asbestos Training Program].
 

Asian Victims’ Mobilization

Jul 2, 2018

This week a series of events is taking place in Seoul organized by the Ban Asbestos Network of Korea which is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year. Participating in this program are representatives from victims’ groups, campaigners and technical experts from Korea, Japan and Indonesia. Starting off the week, will be a symposium held at Seoul National University on July 2. From July 4 to 8, Japanese and Korean asbestos cancer patients and their supporters will have the opportunity for discussions in Seoul, Kwangchun and Pusan. See: Korean Poster.
 

DfE: Failing Britain’s Children

Jul 2, 2018

In the annual report published by the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), multiple failings of the Department of Education (DfE) were cited. The headline “The DfE does not know how to deal with asbestos,” says it all. Commenting on the new report, PAC Chair MP Meg Hillier said she was “appalled” to learn about the “prevalence of asbestos in schools” and the DfE inability to address the threat to school users. “Asbestos is,” she said “a ticking time-bomb which will need central government support to tackle. The risk of asbestos poisoning of pupils and staff should not be a reality in 2018.” See: The DfE is ‘unrealistic’ about school cuts and 6 other morsels from the PAC’s annual report.
 

Toxic Talc Condemned!

Jul 2, 2018

On June 29, 2018, New Jersey Superior Court Judge Ana C. Viscomi upheld a plaintiff’s verdict totalling $117 million in damages against Johnson & Johnson and its talc supplier in a landmark mesothelioma case brought by Stephen Lanzo III and his wife. Commenting on this development, the Lanzos’ lawyer Moshe Maimon said: “both Johnson & Johnson and Imerys knew of the asbestos in the talc and designed and implemented testing programs intended not to detect it. Both defendants were warned of the dangers of asbestos — but chose not to warn the innocent users of their products. All the while a perfectly safe alternative — corn starch — was available.” See: J&J, Talc Supplier Can't Escape $117M Verdicts In NJ.
 

Asbestos Regime: New Regulations

Jul 2, 2018

On July 1, 2018, a decree enacted by the Council of Ministers in French Polynesia will come into force which stipulates that: “no company or institution working in the fields of hydraulic works and building works can intervene in a place likely to contain asbestos without having established an adequate procedure.” Furthermore, employees engaged on the site must have received asbestos training from an approved organization paid for by the employer. Unfortunately, few employers have undertaken the measures required to comply with the new requirements. See: Du retard dans les formations sur l’amiante [Delays in asbestos training].
 

Mesothelioma Nursing Grant

Jul 2, 2018

On June 20, 2018, Mesothelioma UK announced that a £25,000 grant had been awarded to Dr. Catherine Henshall, Senior Nursing Research Fellow at Oxford Brookes University, for a project to improve follow-up care for mesothelioma patients to enable them to “live well” with their condition. Dr. Henshall will interview mesothelioma patients from three NHS Trusts to better understand patients’ experiences of follow-up care. Her findings will be used to improve future treatment protocols and ensure that new policies are evidence-based and patient-focused. See: Mesothelioma UK awards funding for research into improving follow-up care for patients.
 

Our Asbestos is Safe!

Jun 29, 2018

A Russian language article highly critical of the Russian asbestos industry published on June 20, 2018 has been attacked by Uralasbest, a Russian company which is the world’s largest asbestos producer. The company accuses the author of bias and ignorance using well-worn and discredited industry propaganda: chrysotile (white) asbestos is safe, chrysotile fibers incorporated in cement products are safe as they are “locked” into a cement matrix, inhaled chrysotile fibers are decomposed by acid in the lungs, etc. See: Спор об асбесте: уральское предприятие вступило в дискуссию с изданием «Медуза» [Asbestos dispute: Ural enterprise enters into discussion with publication on Medusa website].
 

Laos Calls for Asbestos Ban

Jun 29, 2018

On June 20, 2018, the Laos Minister of Labour and Social Welfare, Dr Khampheng Saysompheng announced that Laos intends to eliminate occupational asbestos-related diseases by banning asbestos. The Minister called for universal action to end asbestos consumption, highlighting the need for member states of ASEAN (the Association of Southeast Asian Nations) to immediately prohibit the use of asbestos-containing construction materials. He said: “Urgent action is required to prevent the extended use of asbestos as a construction material and banning all forms of asbestos to protect lives, support safer economic growth and ensure social stability in the country under the National Action Plan.” See: Plans to end asbestos-use, related disease nationwide.
 

Protecting Workers from Asbestos

Jun 29, 2018

Spain’s CCOO trade union has demanded urgent action on asbestos contamination of Madrid’s Registry Office, operated by the Ministry of Justice. Specific actions stipulated should include: an asbestos audit of the premises and medical examinations for at-risk workers. Despite awareness of the asbestos hazard, to date the Community of Madrid has failed to address these matters giving bland reassurances such as: “necessary measures will be taken to solve this serious problem.” See: CCOO exige medidas urgentes a la Comunidad de Madrid por el amianto del Registro Civil de Pradillo [CCOO demands urgent measures by the Community of Madrid on asbestos at the Pradillo Civil Registry].
 

Donald Trump: Asbestophile

Jun 26, 2018

The pro-asbestos position maintained by Donald Trump over many years has been recognized and appreciated by workers at the Uralasbest factory who have produced a batch of chrysotile asbestos which has been stamped with a sticker saying: “Approved by Donald Trump, 45th President of the United States.” The writing and an image of Trump, both of which are in red, are placed within a red circle as a gesture of gratitude for the President’s support of their industry in the face of growing global support for the ban asbestos movement. See: Уральское предприятие выпустило партию хризотил-асбеста с наклейкой «Одобрено Трампом» [Ural company produced a batch of chrysotile-asbestos with a sticker “Approved by Trump”].
 

Russian Asbestos-free Brakes

Jun 25, 2018

On June 21, 2018, a 50 million ruble facility was opened in the Altai Territory in western Siberia to produce asbestos-free brake pads worth 200 million rubles a year. Speaking at the formal ceremony to commission the plant, Viktor Tomenko, Acting Governor of the Altai Territory, recognized the global trend to ban asbestos and the need to produce safer substitute materials. Director of the enterprise Artem Shamkov said: “Initially, the finished products will be destined for the secondary market of asbestos-free brake pads for global manufacturers of trucks and buses, like Mercedes, Volvo and others.” See: Барнаульский завод АТИ будет выпускать продукцию для Mercedes и Volvo [Barnaul plant ATI will produce products for Mercedes and Volvo].
 

National Asbestos Profile

Jun 25, 2018

Last week, discussions were held in Phnom Penh to progress work on a draft of the National Asbestos Profile of Cambodia. Taking part were representatives from 13 ministries, trade unions, employers, the World Health Organization, the International Labour Organization and the Australian Union Aid Abroad – APHEDA. Research findings were reported from samples of building and friction materials that were collected in Cambodia and shipped to Australia for analysis. Over 50% of the items sampled contained asbestos. See: Photograph from meeting.
 

Trump EPA: Not Fit for Purpose

Jun 25, 2018

Legislation passed two years ago under President Obama. intended to streamline measures for the regulation of toxic chemicals by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), has been under sustained attack by the Trump EPA which has announced that “legacy uses, associated disposals, and legacy disposals will be excluded,” from risk evaluations as will “asbestos-containing materials that remain in older buildings.” It looks like the use of the “magic mineral,” which is causing nearly 40,000 deaths per year in the US, will continue as will the imminent hazard posed by asbestos-containing products incorporated in the national infrastructure and asbestos waste dumped throughout the country. See: As Asbestos Toll Mounts, Trump’s EPA Ignores It.
 

Fighting for Asbestos Justice

Jun 25, 2018

As the decision of the Court of Cassation (France’s Supreme Court) is awaited, with the decision on whether nine industrialists would be held liable for asbestos crimes postponed until September 2018, the Dunkirk branch of the National Association of Asbestos Victims (ANDEVA) continues its efforts to raise awareness of the effects of occupational asbestos exposures. At a recent commemoration ceremony Pierre Pluta, who was exposed to asbestos for 25 years whilst working at the Dunkirk shipyards and now heads the local ANDEVA branch, said: “We worked to make a living, not to lose it.” See: Scandale de l’amiante: à Dunkerque, une association de victimes mobilisée dans l’attente d’un procès [Asbestos scandal: in Dunkirk, victims’ association mobilized pending trial].
 

Legacy of Asbestos Mining

Jun 22, 2018

Brazilian photographer Inácio Teixeira was born in Bom Jesus da Serra, Bahia State, Brazil, home to the São Felix Asbestos Mine which for decades poisoned its workers, polluted the environment and exposed consumers and family members to a deadly carcinogen. A photographic exhibit he has produced is now on the website of the Brazilian Association of the Asbestos-Exposed; the stark black and white images “leave no doubt about the trail of destruction caused by this predatory industry…” See: Uma Tragédia Socioambiental de Proporções Ainda Ignoradas [A Socio-Environmental Tragedy of Unkown Proportions So Far].
 

Expose of Russian Dirty Tricks

Jun 21, 2018

A Russian language article on a Latvian news website documents the desperation of asbestos vested interests in Russia and resultant drastic measures being taken by them, including the publication of a comic book with a hero called “Chrysotile,” competitions for students to encourage the use of asbestos in building products, conflicts of interest of Russian scientists with proven links to the chrysotile industry working with the IARC to “research” the occupational impact of asbestos exposures, etc. See: Асбест вызывает рак. В России его все равно добывают и используют в строительстве [Asbestos causes cancer. In Russia, it is still mined and used in construction].
 

Telling the Truth in the Urals

Jun 21, 2018

An article about the health hazard posed by human exposures to asbestos has been published on a website in the Urals, the asbestos mining region of Russia. The headline and the contents refute industry propaganda that Russian asbestos is not hazardous. Although the contents of this piece have been sourced from an article on the Meduza website, it is noteworthy that the Meduza website is based in Latvia and this article appeared on a website based in the Urals, Russia. See: Расследование: В Ясном производят асбест, он вызывает рак [Investigation: Asbestos, it causes Cancer].
 

Learning the Asbestos Lesson

Jun 21, 2018

A review of the epidemiology substantiating the outbreak of the deadly mesothelioma epidemic in the area of Casale Monferrato, in the Piedmont Region of Italy, the location of the Eternit asbestos-cement factory, has been undertaken by Italian researchers. The authors conclude that: “The experience of Casale Monferrato represents a lesson in several terms, from the epidemiological surveillance to the health care of the victims and the relationship between epidemiologists, victims, their relatives and residents in contaminated areas.” See: Mesothelioma in Italy: the Casale Monferrato model to a national epidemiological surveillance system.
 

Asbestos in Make-up

Jun 21, 2018

It has been reported that authorities in the Czech Republic found asbestos contamination in make-up sold for children by the US company Claire’s. This development was reported to the European Rapid Alert System which should automatically result in the product being withdrawn from the European market. On June 19, the Spanish Organization of Consumers and Users issued warnings about the make-up kit; it has been withdrawn from sale in Spain. The Spanish Agency for Medicines and Health Products is being urged to carry out an inspection of all Claire's products. See: Detectado amianto en un kit de maquillaje infantil que ya se ha retirado de las tiendas [Asbestos detected in a children's makeup kit already withdrawn from sale].
 

National Asbestos Legacy

Jun 21, 2018

Despite adopting a ban on the use of asbestos in 1992, Italy continues to pay dearly for its industrial asbestos past. In 2017, there were 6,000 asbestos-related deaths – of which 1,800 were caused by the cancer mesothelioma – with the peak in the national epidemic not expected until 2030. The presence of 40 million tonnes of asbestos incorporated within the national infrastructure remains a clear and present danger to the health of both workers and members of the public. It is believed that a million private and public buildings, including 2,400 schools, 250 hospitals and 1,000 libraries and cultural sites, are contaminated. See: Amianto: 6.000 morti e 40 milioni di tonnellate da bonificare [Asbestos: 6,000 dead and 40 million tons to be reclaimed].
 

Asbestos Mining in Western Australia

Jun 21, 2018

The consequences of the mining and processing of crocidolite (blue) asbestos fiber at the Wittenoom mine in Western Australia are the focus of a four-minute video entitled Wittenoom: An Australian Tragedy. The clip begins with Bronwen Duke who lost her parents, both her grandparents, her brother, three uncles and four cousins to asbestos-related diseases; the whole extended family had lived in the asbestos company town of town Wittenoom. Although the mine ceased operations in the 1960s, people continue to die from the long latency diseases caused by exposures to asbestos. See: Wittenoom: An Australian Tragedy.
 

RIP Ben Hills

Jun 19, 2018

Ben Hills, one of Australia’s foremost investigative journalists, died on June 10, 2018 after several battles with cancer. In his first book – Blue Murder (1986) – Hills told the “shocking truth about Wittenoom’ s deadly dust.” In the 200+ pages of this exposé, Hills detailed the horrendous conditions and deadly repercussions for those who worked and lived in the former crocidolite asbestos mining town in Western Australia. The book, long out of print, remains a testament to the men and women who worked to reveal this scandal and support all those whose lives had been sacrificed for the profits of the corporate giant operating the mine. See: A ‘slap-up party’ to send off journalist Ben Hills.
 

Mesothelioma at the Opera

Jun 19, 2018

Second only to Maria Callas, legendary Italian opera singer Edith Martelli has died from mesothelioma due to asbestos exposure at La Scala and other opera houses; she sang in Madrid, New York, Berlin, Salzburg and Tokyo. When she was diagnosed 14 years ago, she was given a prognosis of just 12 months. Commenting on the toxic exposures she received, her son Antonio said that his mother “had unknowingly and systematically” inhaled the invisible asbestos fibers contained in stage equipment, curtains, etc. which were found in the 1980s in theaters, including La Scala. See: Legnano, Edith Martelli è morta per l’amianto respirato alla Scala [Legnano, Edith Martelli died of asbestos breathed at La Scala].
 

Bronchial Asthma from Asbestos

Jun 19, 2018

A quality inspector who worked for seven years for TMD Friction do Brasil SA, a company which manufactured auto parts, succeeded in increasing his compensation for workplace asbestos exposure which resulted in him contracting bronchial asthma from R$15,000 (US$4,020) to R$80,000 (US$21,500) in a unanimous decision by the Superior Labor Tribunal. The plaintiff had claimed R$317,000 (US$85,000) in moral damages. See: Turma aumenta indenização a inspetor que desenvolveu asma brônquica por exposição ao Amianto [Compensation increased for inspector who developed bronchial asthma due to exposure to asbestos].
 

Revival of Asbestos Mine

Jun 18, 2018

Last week, Zimbabwe’s President Mnangagwa toured the Mashava Asbestos Mine in Masvingo Province and said that a government investment of $20 million will enable mining operations to recommence by the end of the year. It has been estimated that production of chrysotile (white) asbestos will begin at 40,000 tonnes/year and rise to full capacity of 75,000 tonnes. Four hundred workers are now employed at the facility with a further 1,000 jobs being created in the coming years. Production at the mine had ceased nearly ten years ago. See: Govt comes to Shabanie Mine’s rescue.
 

Court Win in Rio de Janeiro

Jun 18, 2018

Rio de Janeiro Labor Judge Mariane Bastos Scorsato issued a plaintiff’s verdict ordering a company to pay R$450,000 (~US$120,000) compensation to the wife of a worker who had died from an asbestos-related occupational disease. The deceased had worked for the company from 1964 until 1991. Despite his smoking history, the Judge concluded that the link between the workplace exposure and the disease, and the failures of the company to take adequate safety measures and inform the workers of the asbestos hazard made it liable to pay the moral damages awarded. See: Morte ocorrida por exposição a amianto gera indenização de R$ 450 mil [Death caused by exposure to asbestos generates indemnity of R$450 thousand].
 

Asbestos Hazard at Hospital

Jun 18, 2018

On June 14, 2018, an appeal court in France upheld a €40,000 suspended fine for a hospital in Besançon, a city in eastern France, which negligently exposed workers to asbestos over a four-year period. The court ruled that the management of the Jean Minjoz University Regional Hospital Center had endangered “others by overt and deliberate violation of a regulatory safety obligation.” See: Besançon: Les salariés exposés pendant quatre ans à l'amiante, 40.000 euros d'amende avec sursis requis contre l'hôpital [Besançon: Employees exposed for four years to asbestos, 40,000 euros in suspended fine against the hospital].
 

Asbestos Cancer Incidence Study

Jun 18, 2018

The cancer incidence of a cohort of ~2,500 asbestos-exposed men from Northeast Italy was compared to that of the general population from the Friuli Venezia Giulia region. Amongst the former group, there was an “excess in the incidence of both mesothelioma and lung cancer, showing increasing incidence rates at higher level of asbestos exposure.” The relative incidence of lung cancer was highest among members of the cohort who had worked in shipbuilding between 1974 and 1984. The authors concluded: “Our results confirm that asbestos-related diseases are still a major problem worldwide.” See: Cancer incidence in a cohort of asbestos-exposed workers undergoing health surveillance.
 

Asbestos at School

Jun 15, 2018

The bad news regarding the horrendous asbestos exposures experienced by students and teachers in Philadelphia schools continues. A new feature in The Inquirer documented astronomical levels of asbestos on damaged surfaces in classroom 106 at the A.S. Jenks Elementary School: “an alarming 1.15 million asbestos fibers per square centimeter. That’s far higher than the 100,000 measure that experts say requires immediate action.” Teacher Maria Greco, who had been informed classroom 106 had been remediated, found dust and disrepair; as a result of her persistent enquiries, it was revealed that no work had been done and her classroom was still a toxic nightmare. See: Solving the mystery of Room 106.
 

Call for Action!

Jun 15, 2018

After a meeting at the Congress of Deputies last week, the Izquierda Unida (IU) – Spain’s United Left political coalition – called on the Spanish Government and the Board of Communities to implement an action plan for the complete removal of asbestos from the Santa María de Benquerencia neighborhood in Toledo, whose residents have for many years been forced to endure the threat posed by environmental exposure to illegally dumped asbestos-containing debris. Members of the Platform “My neighborhood without asbestos” also took part in the meeting. See: IU exige un Plan conjunto de la Junta y la CHT para la retirada total del Amianto [IU requires a Joint Plan of the Board and the CHT for the total withdrawal of asbestos].
 

Union Calls for Asbestos Action

Jun 14, 2018

A media release issued by a trade union calls on Australia’s Foreign and Trade Ministers to open discussions with their American counterparts about the proven hazard posed by human exposures to asbestos in order to counter President Trump’s assertions that asbestos is “100 per cent safe, once applied.” “The Australian Government,” they urge “must come out strongly and condemn the United States for trying to wind back bans on asbestos because there will be knock-on effects for workers there and globally.” See: ETU calls on Ministers Bishop and Ciobo to tell the US asbestos dangers no ‘mafia conspiracy’.
 

Asbestos and Cancer

Jun 14, 2018

A Russian language article on a news website in the Republic of Karelia, formerly an autonomous region and now part of Russia, which discussed six common causes of cancer, began with a discussion of the health hazard posed by exposures to asbestos. Explaining the history of asbestos use and the proven links between asbestos exposures and cancer, the text warns of the hazards posed by asbestos in the soil, air, and water; although considerably downplaying the risks, the author highlights the threat posed by contaminated buildings. See: 6 обычных вещей, которые могут вызвать рак. С некоторыми из них вы сталкиваетесь ежедневно [6 common things that can cause cancer, some of them you come across daily].
 

Asbestos Ban: Stalled in Congress

Jun 14, 2018

Senator Nadia Blel, rapporteur for the Columbian Senate’s bill to ban asbestos, has condemned stalling tactics and negative lobbying by asbestos vested interests which resulted in a postponement on June 5 of a congressional vote on draft legislation to end the commercial exploitation of asbestos. Denouncing calls for further hearings and consultations, Senator Blel said: “We have more than enough scientific evidence that shows that this fiber is affecting and ending the lives of many Colombians.” See: “Con cifras obsoletas se está desinformando sobre el peligro del asbesto”, defensores de Proyecto [“With obsolete figures we are being misinformed about the asbestos hazard,” say advocates of asbestos ban].
 

Jock McCulloch: A Tribute

Jun 14, 2018

Jock McCulloch was “one of the foremost historians of occupational health of his generation.” His work took him deep into the heart of asbestos mining regions and it was exposure to asbestos which occurred whilst writing his book Asbestos Blues that resulted in the mesothelioma which ended his life in January 2018. The co-authors of this tribute conclude the piece as follows: “Like heroic firefighters who risk their lives while attempting to rescue others, Jock had sacrificed his own life when he visited the dusty mining townships in search of the truth about asbestos. It was a bitter and cruel irony that he died trying to save others from being exposed to the same lethal asbestos fibers that tragically claimed his own life.” See: Jock McCulloch (1945–2018): A Tribute.
 

Mesothelioma Biomarkers

Jun 14, 2018

A delay in diagnosing pleural mesothelioma can prevent early treatment and adversely affect the patient’s prognosis. In an attempt to develop mesothelioma biomarkers which could be used for early diagnosis, researchers in Italy have studied serum samples from 30 pleural mesothelioma patients and 30 healthy participants. The scientists found two significant differences; “miRNA-126 was downregulated (the serum contained less of this RNA than normal) and miRNA-197 was upregulated (found in larger than expected amounts) in patients with pleural mesothelioma.” Based on these results, more research will be undertaken. See: Mesothelioma Biomarkers Could Make Early Diagnosis Routine.
 

Vilification of Ban Asbestos Campaign

Jun 12, 2018

Taking aim at ban asbestos campaigners, alleged to belong to “the power elite of the United States,” a Russian article voices support for President Trump’s “rational” views on asbestos, reiterating his long-standing belief that asbestos is “100 percent safe when it is applied” and that those who oppose its use are part of a “movement against asbestos … headed by the mafia.” The author says that the actions taken by the Environmental Protection Agency under Trump’s protégé Scott Pruitt could prevent the US from banning asbestos, an objective which is the President’s “solemn will.” See: Трамп обрушился на антиасбестовое лобби [Trump struck at the anti-asbestos lobby].
 

Lung Cancer Breakthrough?

Jun 12, 2018

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has decided that the lung cancer immunotherapy drug pembrolizumab, also known as Keytruda, will be made available on the NHS in England. After the final NICE guidance is published this month, the drug will be made “available for people with untreated non-small cell lung cancer which tests positive for a molecule called PD-L1.” A 2017 study found that survival rates for mesothelioma patients with “highly positive PD-L1 expression was associated with statistically significantly lower median survival time.” It is unknown at this time whether pembrolizumab will be made available for the treatment of mesothelioma. See: Life-extending lung cancer drug will be more widely available on the NHS after NICE review.
 

Asbestos Mining Legacy

Jun 11, 2018

On Thursday, June 7, 2018, local dignitaries and officials attended a public hearing on the deadly asbestos legacy which continues to plague the former asbestos mining town of Bom Jesus da Serra in the Brazilian state of Bahia. Although the mine ceased operations in 1967 after almost 30 years, toxic exposures to local people and the environmental contamination it created pose an on-going threat to the health of residents. During the meeting, a minute’s silence was observed to remember all those whose lives had been sacrificed to the mine including José Nildo Vieira, a former mine employee, who died last week and was buried in the cemetery named “Snow White,” after the white dust created by the chrysotile (white asbestos) mine. See: Poster advertising the June 7, 2018 asbestos hearing.
 

Asbestos: Strike This Week

Jun 11, 2018

In circulars issued to maintenance workers during May and June, Metro de Madrid – the company which operates the Spanish capital’s subway system – confirmed the discovery of additional asbestos parts in the system’s rolling stock, models 2000 and 5000. Frustrated by multiple failures of the company to effectively address the occupational hazards posed by the contamination, the CCOO Union and Union of Machinists of Madrid Metro have called a four day strike starting June 12. See: Metro localiza una nueva tanda de piezas con Amianto [Metro locates a new batch of parts containing asbestos].
 

Good News in Cheshire!

Jun 11, 2018

It was announced last week that the Cheshire Asbestos Victims Support Group (CAVSG) has received the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service 2018; the receipt of this accolade is recognition of the excellence of the contribution made by this group, all of whom are volunteers. CAVSG, a member of the UK Asbestos Victims Support Groups Forum, was started in 1992 and is run by local people who have been affected by asbestos-related disease. More about the services provided by CAVSG can be found on the group’s website at: http://cavsg.co.uk/ See: Cheshire Asbestos Victims Support Group receive Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service.
 

EPA Whitewash

June 8, 2018

Proposals announced on June 1, 2018 by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are being disparaged by campaigners who condemn the EPA’s failure to consider the health risks and imminent hazard posed by asbestos incorporated within the national infrastructure. The EPA plans stipulate that only new uses of asbestos must be evaluated and approved. According to one Congressman, the: “EPA’s refusal to address longstanding concerns around the use and disposal of asbestos is further proof that Administrator Pruitt will bend over backwards to help industry, but won’t lift a finger to protect public health.” See: EPA Takes Three Important Steps to Ensure Chemical Safety Under the Lautenberg Act, Proposes Action on Asbestos.
 

Mobilization of Asbestos Victims

Jun 8, 2018

Asbestos-injured retired workers from the Macosa-Alstom company – a  heavy-engineering manufacturer which produced goods for the railway industry – are calling on the Government of Catalonia to: establish a medical surveillance program for all those exposed to asbestos at work; undertake asbestos audits of public buildings and design and implement plans for their remediation; provide funding for research into the treatment of asbestos-related diseases. See: Jubilados de Macosa piden revisiones médicas para los expuestos al Amianto [Macosa retirees ask for medical examinations for those exposed to asbestos].
 

Calls to Ban Asbestos – Now!

Jun 8, 2018

Civil society groups and political representatives are calling on the Colombian Congress to end the delay on prohibiting future use of asbestos – a substance which kills 300 Colombians every year – and progress a bill to ban asbestos which was approved in October 2017 by the Seventh Committee of the Senate. Lobbying by the asbestos trade association Ascolfibras is believed to be behind the stalemate. In a video uploaded on June 7, 2018, Senator Nadia Blel expressed her support for the “Ana Cecilia Niño” ban asbestos bill. See: Congresistas: el asbesto mata y no discrimina según partido politico [Congressmen: Asbestos kills and does not discriminate according to political party].
 

Two Countries: Same Battle

Jun 7, 2018

As Australia – a country which banned asbestos in 2003 – struggles with its own deadly asbestos legacy, trade unionists are backing efforts by grassroots activists to end the use of asbestos in Indonesia, where it is widely regarded as just another raw material. During a recent fact-finding trip to several Australian cities Subono, former asbestos worker now General Secretary of the Indonesian union Serbuk and committed ban asbestos activist, described the repercussions of ongoing asbestos use, noting that several former colleagues died from cancer while others were still suffering. See: The battle to ban the devil’s dust in our neighbours’ backyards.
 

Schools: Asbestos Blackspots

Jun 7, 2018

An investigation by a newspaper group in Philadelphia which monitored levels of asbestos at 19 rundown schools has found that the situation has worsened in Olney Elementary School where tests revealed 10.7 million asbestos fibers per square centimeter, up from 8.5 million four months ago. The measurements are more than 100 times higher than the level that health experts believe are cause for alarm and were obtained after some “remediation work” had been done by operatives employed by the School District and personnel from Vertex, an environmental firm, who found the air safe for students and staffers to return. See: New test: 10.7 million asbestos fibers on floor at Philadelphia elementary school.
 

Asbestos in Madrid Schools

Jun 7, 2018

Isabel Galvin, the General Secretary of the CCOO’s Madrid Federation of Education, has told journalists that most public schools in the southern region – including Leganés, Móstoles and Getafe – are contaminated with asbestos. The CCOO, which has launched a campaign entitled: “Ten questions about asbestos” to inform the educational community about the asbestos hazard, is seeking collaboration from stakeholders with a program to map the presence of asbestos in educational centers. In addition, the CCOO is calling on the authorities for asbestos to be removed from schools. See: El 80% de los centros educativos madrileños tiene amianto [80% of schools in Madrid have asbestos].
 

Toxic Talc and Cancer

Jun 6, 2018

Imerys SA, the minerals company that supplied talc to Johnson & Johnson (J&J) which 22 ovarian cancer claimants believe was contaminated with asbestos, has agreed to a confidential settlement – believed to be worth US$5 million. This agreement has extricated the company from a high-profile trial that started on June 6, 2018 in St Louis, Missouri, leaving J&J and its consumer-products unit as the sole defendants. Nine thousand cases are proceeding against Imerys on behalf of other claimants who have contracted ovarian cancer or mesothelioma. See: Imerys Unit Settles Talc Claims for at Least $5 Million.
 

Capital’s Asbestos Hotspot

Jun 5, 2018

For the first time, a cluster of environmentally-caused asbestos-related cancers has been found in the Japanese capital, according to data documenting four deaths between 2007and 2017 from the asbestos cancer mesothelioma within a 500-meter radius of an asbestos cement factory which operated from 1937 until 1980. The four deceased – 3 men and 1 woman – had never worked with asbestos but had lived near the factory for between 7 and 76 years. According to a local resident of the affected Ota Ward area, the atmosphere around the Tokyo factory was “always whitish and the dust was everywhere when the wind blew.” See: 4 Tokyo residents near former asbestos factory die of mesothelioma.
 

Asbestos in Schools Scandal

Jun 5, 2018

In its critical response to the Education Select Committee School and College Funding Enquiry, the Joint Union Asbestos Committee (JUAC) noted that the funding crisis is not only devastating the provision of education in the UK but also endangering the lives of pupils being taught in buildings most of which are contaminated with asbestos. The Government’s current policy of “managing asbestos in situ,” has been exposed as seriously flawed with multiple examples cited of serious incidents. JUAC believes that: “If funding was available for phased [asbestos] removal, these all too regular incidents would gradually become less frequent.” See: School funding pressures leave pupils and staff at risk from exposure to asbestos in schools.
 

Victims at the Diet

Jun 5, 2018

On June 1, 2018, an inaugural event took place in Tokyo organized by the Japanese Network of Asbestos Victims and their Families which provided the opportunity for 50 victims (35 with mesothelioma) and 150 family members to meet with Members of the Japanese Diet – the country’s bicameral legislature – for an hour and with government officials for three hours at the National Diet. Ten victims too ill to attend prepared video messages which were screened at the conference. Key recommendations made included the need for improved medical treatment and more equitable compensation. See: 中皮腫アスベスト疾患患者と家族の会 [Mesothelioma Asbestos disease patient and family association].
 

Banning asbestos roofing!

Jun 4, 2018

On Wednesday, May 30, 2018, a workshop was held in Hanoi to consider the implementation of a roadmap to phase out the use of asbestos roof sheeting in Vietnam by 2023, as agreed last week by the Ministry of Construction. The session was conducted under the auspices of the Vietnam Union of Science and Technology Associations. Taking part in the event were representatives from the Ministry of Science and Technology, the Ministry of Labor, the Ministry of Industry and Trade, the General Confederation of Labor of Vietnam, international organizations and the Vietnam Ban Asbestos Network, as well as experts in occupational health and safety. See: Phải dừng sử dụng amiang trắng tại Việt Nam [White asbestos should be discontinued in Vietnam].
 

Paying the Price

Jun 4, 2018

A leading global reinsurer, Zurich-based Swiss Re, has categorized asbestos as one of the top five risks for insurers, estimating that as a result of ongoing asbestos use around the world “losses of about 100 billion dollars are expected;” the final liability to insurers could be even more due to ongoing toxic exposures: “The UN estimates that one third of the people living in Europe are potentially exposed to asbestos at work or in the environment.” The objective of the annual Swiss Re Sonar report just issued is to provide the insurance industry with the information and data needed to adapt to the changing risk landscape. See: Five high impact risks in Swiss Re report.
 

Another State Asbestos Ban

Jun 4, 2018

On Wednesday, May 16, 2018 Law #11,121/2018 was promulgated in the Official Gazette of the Brazilian State of Paraíba which prohibited the marketing and installation of materials containing asbestos and stipulated that during refurbishment, repair and demolition work asbestos-containing products must be are identified and handled by operatives supplied with Personal Protective Equipment. Infractions of this new legislation are punishable by fines ranging from R$1,000.00 to R $ 1,0000.000,00 (US$250,000+). See: Paraíba proíbe uso de amianto, produto que causa 100 mil mortes por ano [Paraíba prohibits use of asbestos, a product that causes 100,000 deaths per year].
 

Mesothelioma Compensation

Jun 4, 2018

An April 24, 2018 decree of Italy’s Ministry of Labor and Social Policy entitled “Asbestos victims fund – patients with non-professional mesothelioma” provides for a €5,600 payment of compensation to patients or surviving relatives of victims of non-occupational mesothelioma according to a May press release by the asbestos victims group: AFeVA. The provisional three year budget for this program is 5.5 million euro per year for years 2018-2020. See: Decreto Ministero del Lavoro 24 aprile 2018: Fondo vittime amianto – malati di mesotelioma non professionale [Decree of the Ministry of Labor April 24, 2018: Asbestos victims fund – patients with non-professional mesothelioma].
 

Progressing Global Asbestos Ban

Jun 1, 2018

The World Federation of Public Health Associations (WFPHA) has approved a proposal promoting legislation to prohibit the use of asbestos in Latin America, according to a briefing issued by The Spanish Society of Public Health and Health Administration (SESPAS). The WFPHA called for collaboration with the WHO and the ILO to progress efforts to achieve a global ban on the extraction, transformation and export of asbestos, as well as the use of materials that contain it. See: Aprobada una propuesta apoyada por SESPAS para prohibir el uso del asbesto en Latinoamérica [The World Federation of Public Health approves a proposal supported by SESPAS to prohibit the use of asbestos in Latin America].
 

Ban Asbestos Campaign

Jun 1, 2018

A video trailer for a new documentary by the Local Initiative for OSH Network – Indonesia (LION) about the ban asbestos campaign in Bandung City, West Java which highlights the work to raise awareness of the asbestos hazard, not just for workers but for members of the Indonesian public, can be viewed online (See Video trailer: Asbestos Free Generation [Generasi Tanpa Asbes]). Other information on Indonesia’s ban asbestos mobilization can be found on the websites: http://inaban.org and http://apheda.org.au/lion-asbestos-indonesia; and in a recent facebook upload by LION.
 

Jail for Asbestos Dumper

Jun 1, 2018

On May 31, 2018 the first jail sentence was handed down by the NSW (New South Wales) Land and Environment Court in Sydney, Australia to Dib Hanna for illegally transporting and dumping of waste containing asbestos. Hanna became the first person to be jailed in NSW under tougher new under anti-dumping legislation when he was given a three year sentence, with a non-parole period of two years and three months after he pleaded guilty to the charge of illegally disposing of 461 tonnes of toxic waste. See: Serial asbestos dumper Dib Hanna jailed, the first in NSW under tough legislation.
 

The Politics of Asbestos

May 30, 2018

The results of scientific studies led by Swiss researchers highlight the vacuousness of proposals considered this week by the Swiss Parliament to double the 10-year time limit for bringing asbestos cases; the 10 year limit from time of occupational exposure to initiating a law suit had been condemned as too short by the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. In a TV interview, the Swiss director of this research Dr Emanuela Felley-Bosco stated that from the time of first exposure to the onset of the asbestos cancer mesothelioma could be forty years. See: Amianto: discussioni politiche, battaglie scientifiche [Asbestos: political discussions, scientific battles].
 

After Asbestos!

May 30, 2018

The diversification of the economy of a former Quebec mining town, aptly named Asbestos, is discussed in the article referenced below, highlighting successes such as the establishment of a micro-brewery and the development of the winter tourist industry; comments about the reprocessing of asbestos waste to reclaim magnesium are made without reference to the health hazards posed by such an activity. In addition, the article fails to mention the environmental hazard posed by the presence of mountains of asbestos-containing waste which dominate the landscape. See: The town fighting its killer reputation.
 

Asbestos in More Vehicles

May 30, 2018

Metro de Madrid, the transport company that has been at the center of an asbestos storm for several weeks, has announced that the presence of additional asbestos-contaminated parts in scores of vehicles operating on different lines of the Spanish capital’s subway system has been discovered. The company, which admits finding “a dozen ‘small components’ with asbestos” maintains that as the asbestos was encapsulated, there was no danger to workers or members of the public; environmental measurements taken on the trains in question have not found airborne asbestos fibers. See: Metro encuentra más componentes con amianto en sus trenes [Metro finds more components with asbestos in its trains].
 

Lung Cancer: Asbestos and Smoking

May 30, 2018

A study undertaken by French researchers investigated the effects of the historic intensity of smoking and occupational asbestos exposure amongst patients diagnosed with lung cancer. It was discovered that the timing of exposures was of significance with a stronger association with lung cancer of a high smoking history in the decade preceding diagnosis and a higher impact of asbestos exposure which had taken place more than 40 years before diagnosis. See: Time-dependent effect of intensity of smoking and of occupational exposure to asbestos on the risk of lung cancer: results from the ICARE case–control study.
 

Asbestos Hazard at Sea

May 30, 2018

Data sourced from the Danish Seafarer Registry for the period 1986–1999 and information from the Danish Civil Registration System and the Danish Cancer Registry allowed the incidences of specific types of cancers to be calculated. It was concluded that amongst asbestos-exposed male seafarers there was an elevated occurrence of mesothelioma: “Our finding of an evident increase in mesothelioma specifically among male seafarers working in areas with potential asbestos exposure, such as engine rooms, points to a connection with previous work-related exposure on board Danish ships.” See: Cancer incidence among merchant seafarers: an extended follow-up of a Danish cohort.
 

Call for Asbestos Action

May 29, 2018

An online feature published on May 26, 2018, contrasts the widespread ignorance in India about the asbestos hazard with global mobilization to eradicate the use of this acknowledged carcinogen. “The purpose of this article,” the author says “is to draw the public’s attention to this very serious health hazard that pervades our cities adding further risks to the already polluted air we breathe.” Despite some positive steps taken in India, the continuing use of asbestos in roofing sheets, insulation and brake linings constitutes an ongoing risk to members of the public as well as to workers. See: Asbestos: Still around, still deadly.
 

Mesothelioma Breakthrough?

May 29, 2018

In a paper published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, researchers in Israel and the US reported success in stopping mesothelioma growth in model animals by inhibiting the heparanase enzyme. This joint study by scientists in Haifa and New York concluded that: “heparanase is clinically relevant in mesothelioma development. Given these preclinical and clinical data, heparanase appears to be an important mediator of mesothelioma, and heparanase inhibitors are worthy of investigation as a new therapeutic modality in mesothelioma clinical trials.” See: Israeli and American researchers have successfully curbed mesothelioma in model animals.
 

Asbestos Alert

May 29, 2018

Leading medical practitioners have warned the federal authorities in Ottawa about the serious health hazards posed by plans to reprocess thousands of tonnes of asbestos mining waste in the Thetford Mines and Asbestos areas in order to reclaim magnesium. According to the National Institute of Public Health, the waste contains “chrysotile asbestos at concentrations ranging from 1 to 40%.” Provisional ban asbestos legislation allows the use of contaminated residues. See: Des médecins s’inquiètent du retour de l’amiante au Québec See: Des médecins s’inquiètent du retour de l’amiante au Québec [Doctors worry about the return of asbestos in Quebec].
 

Asbestos Mining in Brazil

May 29, 2018

An academic paper discussing the experiences of workers and community members living in a Brazilian asbestos mining town – São Felix (Bom Jesus da Serra, Bahia, north-eastern Brazil) – highlights the role played by grassroots activism in creating a narrative and fuelling the struggle for social justice which in 2017 saw a federal judge award 500 million reais (~US$156,000) for “moral collective damages” caused by operations at the São Felix mine; the money was earmarked to provide health care for the asbestos-injured. See: The temporalities of asbestos mining and community activism.
 

Asia: Asbestos Update

May 25, 2018

The current issue of the Occupational Safety and Health Rights Newsletter produced by the ANROEV Network [The Asian Network for the Rights of Occupational and Environmental Victims] contains features documenting the regional grassroots mobilization on asbestos including: demands for a national asbestos ban from trade union activists in Pakistan and condemnation of Russian pressure on Sri Lanka to postpone planned asbestos prohibitions. Other asbestos-related items detailed were the launch of a campaign for urgent action on the global asbestos scandal and the publication of an academic paper which did “not find any significant effect on GDP following an asbestos ban.” See: Occupational Safety and Health Rights Newsletter.
 

Toxic Talc Verdict

May 25, 2018

On May 23, 2018, a Los Angeles jury awarded 68-year old mesothelioma claimant Joanne Anderson $21.7 million for the toxic asbestos exposure she suffered from products sold by Johnson & Johnson and its talc providers. Jury members are still considering how much they will award against the defendants in punitive damages. This is the second J&J trial loss in a mesothelioma case, the first was in New Jersey in April, 2018 (see: Toxic Talc and Mesothelioma); that jury awarded $80m in punitive damages. Thousands of ovarian cancer cases are proceeding against J&J. See: J&J hit with $21.7 million verdict in another talc asbestos cancer case.
 

Court Setback

May 25, 2018

Last week the Bordeaux Court of Appeal dismissed claims by 77 employees and pensioners of the Monnaie de Paris company, the government-owned institution which produces France's euro coins, for €100,000 compensation for “injury anxiety” linked to sustained occupational exposure to asbestos at a factory in Pessac, southwestern France. Condemning the verdict, Alain Bernon, President of the SOS Monnaie Association, said: “We are simply told that we do not have the right to be anxious.” An appeal to the Supreme Court is being considered. See: Amiante: la Cour d'appel de Bordeaux déboute les salariés de la Monnaie de Paris à Pessac [Asbestos: the Bordeaux Court of Appeal dismissed case brought by employees of the Monnaie de Paris in Pessac].
 

Community Victory over Asbestos Dump

May 23, 2018

In what has been described as a “historic judgment,” the Council of State has accepted an appeal by a local environmental action group which will forestall the construction of an asbestos dumpsite in Lombardy, northern Italy. After previous setbacks, campaigners were celebrating this decision which, they said, confirmed that exhaustive and participatory measures must be followed to safeguard human health and the environment; their appeal had categorized the environmental impact assessment produced by the company behind the scheme as “incomplete, badly deficient.” See: Treviglio, discarica di amianto: stop dal Consiglio di Stato [Treviglio, asbestos dump: stopped by the Council of State].
 

Increasing Asbestos Claims

May 23, 2018

The latest annual financial results for James Hardie, Australia’s former asbestos giant, has included an extra US$200m above original estimates for asbestos related claims; the year’s profits were $194m, down by almost 50% despite a small increase in sales. Former assumptions based on a fall in the number of mesothelioma claims have proved erroneous and a new reality has been accepted: “As claim numbers continue to be elevated, KPMG Australia has formed the view that the increases in mesothelioma claims reporting seen in recent years was a permanent effect, and therefore increased the projected number of future mesothelioma cases…” See: James Hardie profit tumbles on mounting asbestos claims.
 

White Asbestos Kills

May 23, 2018

An article by Hans-Joachim Woitowitz and Xaver Baur reviewing the strategy used by asbestos industry lobbyists and asbestos defendants to misrepresent the toxic nature of chrysotile asbestos focuses on a recent “publication on asbestos fibre burden in human lungs […which] exhibits serious inconsistencies and obvious mismeasurements and significant methodological problems. The conclusion of the authors that fibre analysis of workers' lungs ‘is of high significance for differential diagnosis, risk assessment and occupational compensation’ is,” the Woitowitz and Baur article states “unfounded and reprehensible.” See: Misleading “New Insights into the Chrysotile Debate”.
 

Asbestos Ban in Colombia?

May 23, 2018

Seven attempts since 2007 at banning asbestos in Colombia have failed because of aggressive lobbying by the industry lobby says Greenpeace Colombia. A new ban asbestos bill, named in honor of mesothelioma victim Ana Cecilia Niño, is now proceeding through the Senate. Greenpeace spokesperson for Colombia Silvia Gómez is urging politicians to support the “project of national interest that seeks to save lives,” saying: “The president of the Senate last week received a letter from Ascolfibras, saying that they were very concerned about the project and that it should have regional public hearings.” See: Colombia, el país con 500 víctimas de asbesto al año y que se niega a prohibirlo [Colombia, the country with 500 asbestos victims a year refuses to ban it].
 

Asbestos Podcast

May 23, 2018

A 25-minute podcast by The Guardian’s Science Weekly considers the UK’s asbestos legacy against a backdrop of ongoing asbestos consumption in the industrializing world. The blame for the global asbestos epidemic is laid firmly at the door of the asbestos industry which has used “horrific deceit” to skew national discussions on asbestos despite epidemiological and scientific data documenting a huge number of deaths caused by occupational and environmental asbestos exposures. The program makes the argument that in 2018 there can be no justification for the use of asbestos, a substance which cannot be controlled or used safely. See: Why is asbestos still killing people?.
 

Another State Asbestos Ban

May 23, 2018

On May 11, 2018, the legislature of another Brazilian state decreed that “The use of products, materials or devices intended for the consumer, containing asbestos fibers in their composition, is prohibited within the State of Paraíba.” Furthermore, the new law also prohibited the selling and installing of any form of asbestos-containing material and stipulated the use of protective measures for workers required to have contact with previously installed asbestos products. Although the Brazilian Supreme Court banned asbestos throughout the country by a decision handed down in November 2017, state prohibitions are still required. See: Lei Nº 11121 DE 11/05/2018 [Law Nº 11121 OF 05/11/2018].
 

Funding Mining Renewal

May 17, 2018

Shabanie Mashava Mine (SMM) – the company that owns the Zvishavane and Gaths chrysotile (white) asbestos mines in Mashava – has announced plans to sell off thousands of housing units and 1500 hectares of land to raise funds for the redevelopment of the mothballed mines which, they allege, have ore reserves worth $1 billion. According to SMM Chief Executive Officer Chirandu Dhlembeu the company is hoping to raise $250 million from the sale of its property. See: SMM to dispose of its houses, vast tracts of land to revive asbestos mine.
 

Asbestos Complaints

May 17, 2018

Portugal’s Environmental Inspectorate and the Environment Agency received a total of 41 complaints in 2017 regarding asbestos in derelict buildings which provide a threat to public health, irregular and non-compliant asbestos removal and disposal, including the dumping of toxic waste on public roads, and illegal asbestos operations by commercial waste management operators. See: Autoridades receberam 41 denúncias relacionadas com amianto em 2017 [Authorities received 41 asbestos complaints in 2017].
 

Asbestos Victims’ Mobilization

May 13, 2018

In Japan, asbestos victims have established a movement to provide support by asbestos-affected individuals for others in the same position. The “Mesothelioma Peer Support Caravan (MPSC)” was founded in mid-2017; since then, more than 100 mesothelioma sufferers have been contacted at home or hospital or via group meetings. Thirty mesothelioma sufferers with scores of other asbestos victims are to meet with government officials on June 1, 2018 to explain the reality of living and dying with asbestos diseases. In addition, 3 Japanese mesothelioma sufferers have just returned from Korea where they met with colleagues from the Ban Asbestos Network of Korea (BANKO) to prepare for BANKO’s 10th anniversary event on July 3-4, 2018.
 

Victory for Lung Cancer Victim

May 13, 2018

Ten years after his death, the widow of a worker from Central Italy was awarded compensation for his death from pulmonary adenocarcinoma due to occupational asbestos exposure. As part of his duties the deceased, who worked from 1970 to 1992 for a company manufacturing ovens, checked “the quality of the products, breathing asbestos present in the insulation of screws, bolts, seals and panels, which had led him to contract the lung cancer.” Asbestos sheets were cut on-site and placed in the ovens and under cooking plates. See: Rieti, operaio morì per l'amianto Tribunale decide risarcimento alla vedova [Rieti, a worker died of asbestos, Court awards compensation to the widow].
 

ICOH Ban Asbestos Pledge

May 13, 2018

On May 4, 2018 a commitment was given by participants at the 32nd meeting of the International Congress on Occupational Health, held by the International Commission on Occupational Health (ICOH), “to take action for prevention of occupational cancer and Asbestos-related diseases (ARDs) in collaboration with other relevant international actors” in a document entitled “the Dublin Statement.” Action points listed included: drawing up a covenant for the global ban on asbestos, providing support for countries willing to ban asbestos and implement Programmes for Elimination of Asbestos-related Diseases and making public investment, loans and development aid conditional on asbestos bans. See: ICOH Dublin Statement on Occupational Health.
 

Asbestos Hearings Begin

May 10, 2018

On Friday, May 11, 2018 hearings instituted by the Asbestos Metro Commission will begin with evidence submitted by one of the company’s employees affected by hazardous workplace exposures. According to trade union sources, the witness is a maintenance worker who started his employment with Metro Madrid in the 1980s. So far, the company has recognized asbestos illnesses of three former workers as occupationally caused. See: Arranca este viernes la comisión sobre el amianto en Metro con la comparecencia de uno de los empleados Afectados [Friday the commission on asbestos in the Metro begins with the appearance of one of the affected employees].
 

Landmark Verdict for Firefighter

May 10, 2018

The 13th Social Court of Barcelona, Spain has issued the first verdict condemning the “Generalitat” (Catalonia's government) for failing to protect a firefighter from asbestos exposure as a result of which he has contracted asbestosis. During the 1980s firemen in Barcelona City were provided with personal protective equipment made of asbestos and until the 1990s, contrary to health and safety regulations, the firemen were responsible for cleaning their work clothes and equipment. See: Primera sentencia que condena a una Administración Pública por la exposición al amianto de un bomber [First sentence condemning a Public Administration for the exposure to asbestos of a firefighter].
 

Subsidies for Asbestos Removal

May 10, 2018

A new program providing financial subsidies for the dismantling, transporting and disposing of asbestos-containing material has been announced by the Sztum municipality in northern Poland. Residents of the town can apply to the “Removal of asbestos-containing products from the Pomeranian Voivodeship” Program of the Provincial Fund for Environmental Protection and Water Management (Gdansk) for up to 70% of the costs incurred up to a specified maximum amount. See: Gmina Sztum wnioskuje o dofinansowanie usuwania azbestu. Złóż wniosek! [Sztum applies for co-financing for the removal of asbestos. Submit an application!].
 

Remembering Jock McCulloch

May 10, 2018

The current issue of the Journal of Occupational Health for Southern Africa features a tribute to historian Jock McCulloch, who died from mesothelioma contracted as a result of research undertaken in Africa’s asbestos regions. The article, compiled by the editor-in-chief of the journal, calls Jock: “One of the Greats of occupational health.” Comments included from leading academics and campaigners, reinforced the collaborative nature and pioneering role that Jock played in the struggle to address the injustices endured by those employed in southern Africa’s mining industry. See: Jock McCulloch (1945-2018) Professor, International Development Program, School of Social Science and Planning, RMIT University, Australia.
 

Victim’s Precedent!

May 9, 2018

One day after trial proceedings began in Brisbane’s Supreme Court, a landmark asbestos case was settled when an out-of-court settlement was reached by former asbestos giant James Hardie and mesothelioma claimant Syd Lacey, who was suing the construction company for $5.9 million to provide funds for the care of his disabled wife after his impending demise. In a statement issued by Mr Lacey's lawyers, they said the settlement would provide financial assistance for the care of their client’s wife Marion - who has epilepsy, anxiety and is profoundly deaf. See: James Hardie settles Qld asbestos claim.
 

Criminal Charges for Asbestos Lobbyists?

May 9, 2018

On May 7, 2018, asbestos victims and campaigners attended proceedings in the Court of Cassation, France’s Supreme Court, which is hearing appeals over the dismissal of charges against asbestos lobbyists and government officials whose actions prolonged the use of asbestos in France. At the heart of these appeals are two iconic cases: the asbestos contamination of the campus of Jussieu University in Paris and the use of asbestos at the Normed shipyards in Dunkirk. A decision is expected on June 19, 2018. See: Drame de l’amiante: l’audience de la dernière chance [Asbestos Drama: The Last Chance Hearing].
 

Asbestos Conspiracy

May 9, 2018

The conspiracy of silence required for the use of asbestos to persist in Spain for several decades is discussed in this commentary by reference to ongoing scandals – the discovery of asbestos in the Madrid Metro system and the failure of the authorities to act on the hazard posed by asbestos incorporated within the national infrastructure. Citing the availability of financial assistance “from the European Structural and Investment Funds for the handling and removal of asbestos,” the author questions the country’s reluctance to undertake the requisite remedial work. See: Amianto: bajo el manto de la conspiración del silencio [Asbestos: under the cloak of the conspiracy of silence].
 

European Commission: Asbestos Response

May 9, 2018

Responding to a parliamentary question to the European Commission, Ms. Thyssen – the European Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility – said that: “The Commission shares the view that exposure to asbestos is a matter of serious concern which should be adequately tackled both at EU and national level… Member States can allocate the European Structural and Investment Funds for handling and removal of asbestos in line with the objectives of the respective national or regional programmes.” See: European Commission. Parliamentary Answers. April 10, 2018.
 

British Asbestos Newsletter

May 7, 2018

The Winter-Spring 2017-18 issue of the British Asbestos Newsletter is now available online. The lead article entitled “Asbestos Life and Death in Brexit Britain: Part II” considers the country’s mounting death toll caused by asbestos-related diseases, the implications of ill-considered trade agreements under negotiation by a desperate Tory Government and evidence regarding the continuing sale of asbestos-containing products despite strict UK prohibitions. The feature headlined: “Achieving Justice for Mesothelioma Sufferers,” reviews recent progress made to improve benefits and support for the injured via bureaucratic and judicial means. See: Issue 106, The British Asbestos Newsletter.
 

Ontario: Ban Asbestos Bill

May 7, 2018

Bob Bailey, a member of the Ontario Provincial Parliament, has reintroduced a private member’s bill that would end the use of asbestos in Ontario. Not only would the legislation immediately prohibit asbestos consumption and ban asbestos imports, it would also mandate the creation of an asbestos registry for all provincially owned or leased buildings. Bailey who is critical of the Ottawa Government’s three year delay in implementing a national ban, said: “There is no justifiable reason to continue to use asbestos-containing products.” See: MPP reintroduces private member’s bill to ban asbestos in Ontario.
 

Asbestos Decontamination Program

May 7, 2018

The asbestos legacy of some South African towns remains a human health hazard. South Africa’s Environmental Affairs Department has developed a national asbestos program to prioritize remediation in the worst affected areas under which work is being carried out in Mafefe, Limpopo Province and Gamopedi, Northern Cape. Work is progressing in Mafefe to replace an 8 km stretch of an asbestos-containing road which runs through the town. Welcoming the project, anti-asbestos campaigner Zakes Matime commented: “The people who are using the road will be walking for the first time in many years on asbestos-free road.” See: Hope for Mafefe residents as asbestos road is replaced.
 

Kazakhstan Urged to Ban Asbestos

May 3, 2018

UN News reported that the United Nations has called for all countries, including Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Russia, to ban asbestos on health grounds because of the highly hazardous threats posed by human exposures. A new study by the World Health Organization estimated that annual global health care costs associated with asbestos exposure are between $2.4-3.9 billion excluding additional costs for compensation, court-awarded damages and social security costs. See: Эксперты ООН обратились к Казахстану с призывом прекратить добычу асбеста [UN experts appeal to Kazakhstan to stop asbestos mining].
 

Zimbabwe’s Asbestos Revival

May 3, 2018

Zimbabwe’s Mines and Mining Development Minister Winston Chitando has said that the government’s strategy for Shabanie Mashava Mines will see the chrysotile asbestos mine operating at full capacity and creating 2,000 jobs by mid-2019. The Minister said some of the output from the mine would be exported and that production would generate millions of dollars for the country’s economy. According to Chitando, the Government is “amicably” resolving the ownership impasse of Shabanie Mashava Mining holdings: “The ownership issues are very clear in that Shabanie Mashava Mining Holdings is part of the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation.” See: Shabanie Mine to create 2000 jobs.
 

Open Justice: Asbestos

May 3, 2018

The fate of a treasure trove of formerly confidential corporate documents detailing knowledge held by Cape Asbestos plc, formerly one of Britain’s leading asbestos companies, of the human health hazard posed by asbestos exposures has been decided by Master McCloud who ruled that non-parties with legitimate interests can access documents “filed” on the court record which are read in court even if a case settles before judgment. See: The Asbestos Victims Support Groups Forum (UK) v Cape Distribution Limited & Ors [2017] EWHC 2103 (QB).
 

Asbestos Convictions

May 3, 2018

On April 30, 2018, an engineering company that demolished a structure which contained asbestos-cement sheeting was convicted at Hong Kong’s Eastern Magistrates Court for contravention of the Air Pollution Control Ordinance. A week previously (April 23), another contractor was also convicted by the same court for the illegal demolition of an asbestos canopy at a building located in Wan Chai. The two contractors were fined a total of $24,000. See: Non-registered works contractors convicted for demolition of asbestos building structures in Central and Wan Chai.
 

Asbestos Issues in Mexico

May 1, 2018

A recent commentary about the widespread use of asbestos in Mexico highlighted the hazard posed to members of the public as well as workers – such as firemen – from toxic exposures. According to Martha Patricia Pérez, Assistant Coordinator of Occupational Health at the Mexican Institute of Social Security, 90% of the asbestos exposures occur at work and the remaining 10% take place environmentally from the liberation of fibers from asbestos processing factories or areas. Despite, a vast under-diagnosis of asbestos-related diseases, 2,000 cases are identified annually. See: Asbesto más que un enemigo mortal un asesino silencioso [Asbestos more than a mortal enemy a silent killer].
 

Italy’s Asbestos Challenges

May 1, 2018

On April 28, 2018 Legambiente – Italy’s League for the Environment – highlighted the imminent hazard posed by the asbestos contamination of the country’s infrastructure. A recent investigation has revealed that there are 370,000 structures contaminated with asbestos. According to data from the Institute of Insurance against Work Accidents, between 1998 and 2012 more than 21,460 cases of malignant mesothelioma were reported with an average of more than 6,000 deaths per year; the areas worst affected were Lombardy, Piedmont, Liguria, Emilia Romagna, Veneto, Tuscany, Sicily, Campania and Friuli-Venezia Giulia. See: Abogan en Italia por la eliminación del uso del asbestos [Campaigning for asbestos eradication in Italy].
 

Plaintiff’s Verdict in Bahia

May 1, 2018

The Regional Labor Court of the 5th Region (TRT-5) in Bahia, Brazil has unanimously overturned previous verdicts which time-barred a personal injury claim from a plaintiff with asbestosis who had worked for Brazil’s asbestos giant Eternit from 1974 until 1984. When in 2006 he sought compensation for the disease diagnosed in 2004, the Labor Court and the TRT-5 dismissed his claim for damages. The finding of TRT-5 upheld the legality of action based not on the time since exposure but on the time since knowledge of the disease was definitive. See: TST afasta prescrição para doença de trabalhador exposto ao Amianto [TST removes prescription for worker’s asbestos disease].
 

Progressing Asbestos Ban!

Apr 29, 2018

In the run-up to International Workers Memorial Day a “brain storming session” took place in Vientiane to progress efforts towards achieving an asbestos ban in Laos – “ranked highest among Asia-Pacific countries in terms of asbestos consumption per person.” The event, which was attended by personnel from the World Health Organization, the Laos Ministry of Health, other government stakeholders, representatives of non-government organisations and development partners, considered strategies for implementing the National Asbestos Action Plan in order to end asbestos diseases. See: Anti asbestos workshop marks International Labour Day.
 

Ombudsman Supports Ban

April 29, 2018

The Colombian Ombudsman's Office has reiterated its concerns over the country’s policy on asbestos, a carcinogenic substance responsible for 100,000+ deaths per year. Ombudsman Carlos Alfonso Negret Mosquera urged Congress to approve the Ana Cecilia Niño ban asbestos bill now pending stating: “The State is obliged to adopt measures to prevent the death of Colombians due to asbestos. In more than 56 countries, they have banned the use [of asbestos] due to its deadly impact and the violation of human rights. How long will we continue producing it?” See: Defensoría del Pueblo pide que se prohíba el uso del asbestos [Ombudsman calls for asbestos ban].
 

New Asbestos Documentary

April 29, 2018

An online interview with Belgian film director Daniel Lambo describes the background and focus of a new documentary entitled “Breathless” which was premiered in Belgium earlier this month. In the interview, Mr. Lambo describes the “love-hate” relationship his trade unionist father had with the asbestos multinational Eternit, his employer and the company accused of spreading death and destruction not only in Belgium but also in India and other countries where its subsidiaries operated. See: Hoe Eternit wereldwijd asbest-slachtoffers blijft maken. 'Slachtoffers van asbest beginnen geen proces' [How Eternit continues to make asbestos victims worldwide].
 

Asbestos Homicide Trials

Apr 29, 2018

The Criminal Court of Naples has ordered Swiss billionaire Stephen Schmidheiny to answer charges of voluntary homicide over the asbestos deaths of 258 workers from factories throughout Italy including those in Naples, Turin, Reggio Emilia and Vercelli. Schmidheiny was the sole owner and CEO of these plants; it is alleged his failure to take protective measures led to the exposures and subsequent asbestos cancers the deceased contracted. Another manslaughter trial against Schmidheiny started on April 26, 2018 in Turin, four years after public prosecutors filed murder charges against him. See: Stephan Schmidheiny sotto accusa di omicidio volontario [Stephan Schmidheiny on charges of voluntary homicide].
 

Asbestos in Schools Alert

Apr 25, 2018

New research by the Joint Union Asbestos Committee (JUAC) has confirmed the continuing scandal posed by asbestos in schools and colleges: almost 90% of schools are affected and 17 members of the teaching staff are dying every year from the asbestos cancer, mesothelioma. According to JUAC chair John McClean: “This information confirms that the Government’s policy of managing asbestos in schools has failed. There is absolutely no uniformity in how multi-academy trusts are managing their asbestos, and no standardised procedures followed when schools transfer to academy trusts.” See: Teachers and students at risk of asbestos exposure in schools.
 

Report: Asbestos Alert

Apr 25, 2018

A report issued on April 12, 2018 by the Labor Inspectorate not only detailed historic occupational asbestos exposures but also revealed ongoing failures to protect workers from toxic exposures by the Empresa Municipal de Transportes de Madrid [EMT/Madrid Municipal Transport Company]. One example given of a “very serious” infraction took place over ten months last year (2017) during which 322 EMT employees and contractors were endangered by the liberation of asbestos fibers through illegal working practices. See: 322 trabajadores afectados por amianto durante las obras de una cochera de la EMT [322 workers affected by asbestos during work at an EMT garage].
 

Asbestos Prosecution in Milan

Apr 25, 2018

The Milan Public Prosecutor has brought charges against Elio Gambino, former director of the Azienda Trasporti Milanesi – a transport company in Milan, Italy – over the asbestos-related deaths from mesothelioma of six employees [a bus driver, 2 electricians, an underground railway signalman, a mechanic in charge of bus repairs and a carpenter] and injuries sustained by two others which took place between 2009 and 2015. The accused is charged with the crimes of “inadequate security management” and creating “an environmental emergency” that could affect travellers as well as workers. See: Amianto, pm chiede 6 anni per ex manager Atm: “No misure adeguate” [Asbestos, pm asks for 6 years for former Atm manager: “No adequate measures”].
 

India’s Asbestos Debate

Apr 22, 2018

Most of India’s 8,000 railway stations are built with asbestos-containing products which are used as roofing, partitions and insulation. An asbestos decontamination program begun in 2008 is ongoing and all new railway stations are being constructed with metal sheet roofs and not asbestos-cement roofing. Asbestos manufacturers are alarmed by the phase-out and claim it is unnecessary; a spokesman for the asbestos lobby commented: “as far as we are concerned, health-wise there no problem in the manufacture, sale and distribution of what you call asbestos in India.” See: Railways are phasing out asbestos, a suspected health hazard.
 

Banning Asbestos in Asia

Apr 22, 2018

Australia’s Union Aid Abroad – APHEDA – has been active in the Asian region in progressing ban asbestos initiatives in collaboration with local groups and stakeholders over recent years. Next month (May 2018), APHEDA will be bringing Indonesian activists from the Local Initiative for OHS Network (LION) Indonesia and the SERBUK Union (an Indonesian union representing asbestos factory workers) to Australia to discuss the challenges being faced. Meetings, some of which will be streamed online, will be held in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth. See: Indonesian ban asbestos campaigners 2018 Australian tour.
 

Justice in Bahia!

Apr 22, 2018

A federal court has ruled that the asbestos mining company Sama and the multinational Saint Gobain must pay R$62 million (~US$18m) for collective moral damages due to damage caused by their commercial exploitation of asbestos in the Brazilian State of Bahia. The companies were ordered to identify and demolish buildings made with asbestos tailings, monitor environmental contamination and support cultural, social and environmental projects in Bom Jesus da Serra, a city 464 kilometers from Salvador, the state capital. See: Justiça condena mineradoras a pagar R$ 62 milhões por exploração de Amianto [Justice condemns mining companies to pay R $ 62 million for asbestos exploration].
 

Asbestos: Its Human Cost

Apr 22, 2018

Canadian architect Ken Hutchinson has died from an asbestos-related disease at the age of 74. Mr. Hutchinson designed some of the most iconic buildings in Western Canada including the Fish Creek Library in Calgary, the Hobbema Healing Lodge in Mâskwâcîs, the Saamis Teepee in Medicine Hat, the Engineered Air Theatre in Calgary, the Calgary Real Estate Board, the Museum of the Regiments and Fort Saskatchewan's DOW Centennial Center as well as many other recreation centers, libraries, fire halls, theatres and schools in Alberta, B.C. and Saskatchewan. See: Architect who designed some of Alberta's most striking buildings dies of asbestos exposure.
 

Toxic Trains: More Asbestos Found

Apr 20, 2018

On April 19, 2018, Metro de Madrid informed trade unions that more asbestos had been found in the driver's cabin of two old models of trains. The unwelcome discovery was made in the insulating plate behind a cabinet; the company said this presented no risk to drivers but could pose a hazard to workshop mechanics. To prevent this happening, work has been suspended on these units. Metro de Madrid has embarked on a €5million asbestos decontamination program and has said that suburban trains will be asbestos-free by the end of 2019. See: Metro de Madrid detecta más amianto en la cabina del conductor de dos modelos de trenes antiguos [Madrid Metro detects more asbestos in driver's cab of two old train models].
 

Disposal of Asbestos Waste

Apr 20, 2018

Between 2016 and 2016, 98% of Portugal’s asbestos-contaminated construction and demolition debris was dumped in landfill for non-hazardous waste. The reason for this is to be found in the ambiguity of Portuguese law: while Administrative Rule No. 40/2014 does not mandate the disposal of demolition and construction waste in landfills for hazardous waste, Decree-Law No. 183/2009 establishes a legal regime for the disposal of hazardous waste in landfill. Although asbestos is classed as hazardous as per the European Waste List, it can therefore go to landfills for hazardous and non-hazardous materials. See: Mais de 66 mil toneladas de amianto enterradas em aterros para resíduos não perigosos [More than 66,000 tons of asbestos buried in landfills for non-hazardous waste].
 

Mesothelioma: Progress?

Apr 20, 2018

An article in The Lancet this month reviewed the global mesothelioma landscape and highlighted the inability of standard protocols to significantly improve outcomes for patients. The authors discussed pioneering therapies including immune checkpoint inhibitors, other immunotherapies, targeted therapies and combinations of novel drugs. They concluded: “New therapeutic strategies, combined with ways to identify those patients most likely to benefit from each therapy, will hopefully allow the prognosis of malignant pleural mesothelioma to be classified as a chronic disease rather than a rapidly fatal cancer, which will hopefully lead to a cure in the future.” See: Novel therapies for malignant pleural mesothelioma.
 

Ban Asbestos Action

Apr 19, 2018

Yesterday (April 18) afternoon, 20 Greenpeace protesters hung a 35 meter long sign on the pedestrian bridge over Rojas Avenue with an urgent message addressed to Colombian politicians, “Congresistas: su cobardía la pagamos todos” [Congressmen: we all pay for your cowardice], urging them to approve the “Ana Cecilia Niño” law to ban asbestos in Colombia. The last of the seven times the bill, named after one of Colombia’s most famous asbestos victims, failed to become law was in October, 2016. See: La protesta de Greenpeace en Bogotá contra el asbesto [The protest by Greenpeace in Bogotá against asbestos].
 

Tragic Asbestos Decision

Apr 19, 2018

On April 18, 2018, a Turin appeals court dismissed charges against defendants convicted by a lower court over 12 asbestos deaths amongst Olivetti workers employed between the 1960s and 1990s at the company’s factory in Ivrea, northern Italy. Convictions were reversed for Olivetti executives Carlo De Benedetti and his brother Franco De Benedetti, who had been sentenced to prison for manslaughter and personal injury by the first instance court. There is widespread outrage in the town of Ivrea, with the Mayor saying: “This story is an open wound for the city and the territory…” See: Amianto all'Olivetti di Ivrea, assolti tutti i manager [Asbestos at Olivetti, Ivrea, all managers absolved].
 

Asbestos in Schools

Apr 19, 2018

A national program broadcast this week highlighted the pervasive and deadly scandal of asbestos contamination of UK schools, with interviews with a bereaved daughter, trade union leader and a legal expert, all of whom called for action to address the toxic exposures experienced by teachers, support staff and children on a daily basis. There was, said one interviewee, a “reluctant conspiracy of silence among those who are in a position to point out the dangers.” Failures of the Health and Safety Executive and Department of Education to address the serious issues posed by the presence of asbestos in schools were highlighted. See: Pressure on authorities to do more to remove asbestos from schools.
 

Asbestos Hazard in Demolition

Apr 19, 2018

The family of construction worker Pietro Macaluso was awarded $60 million in damages by a Manhattan jury for his premature death at the age of 56 in July 2016 from mesothelioma. In the 1970s and 1980s he was occupationally exposed to asbestos when he was employed in demolition work which required the removal of asbestos-covered boilers from family homes in Brooklyn. During a 9-week trial, the family’s attorney told the jury that the defendants had known about the asbestos health risks and taken action to protect employees at their factories but did nothing to warn the public or people like Mr. Macaluso. See: Critics say tort reform necessary after $60M asbestos settlement.
 

Toxic Brake Linings

Apr 19, 2018

A paper examining how multiple agencies and authorities collaborated to deal with a 2016 discovery by the Public Health Department of the Government of Aragon that asbestos-containing brake linings imported from China were being sold in Zaragoza and elsewhere in Spain considers the interactions between EU laws and regulations and public administrations throughout Spain, and concludes that the operation of the current system is impacted by the fragmented nature of political authority and the autonomy of the different public administrations. See: Occupational health administrative coordination a propos of a case: brake linings with asbestos in a company.
 

A Toxic Legacy

Apr 17, 2018

A commentary calling for the immediate ban on the import, processing and use of asbestos and asbestos-containing products in Uganda urges the authorities to adopt a “guided national decommissioning plan purposed to protect the public and the environment” from asbestos exposures, and highlights the health risk to citizens of exposure to asbestos products contained in deteriorating older buildings, stating that: “maintenance workers of old asbestos structures have considerable risks comparable to that of industrial workers due to asbestos dust.” See: Asbestos: What Uganda needs to do about the risky exposure.
 

Asbestos Phase-Out!

Apr 17, 2018

Railway authorities in Mumbai, India are undertaking replacement of asbestos-cement roofing at major suburban stations with metal ones that are environmentally safer, lighter and sturdier. New station buildings and platforms are constructed with non-asbestos materials and older premises are in the process of being decontaminated as part of a phased program of works. According to Manager S K Jain of the Central Railway, Mumbai, asbestos is discarded according to safety regulations: “We have directed the stores department to dispose of the sheets in a safe manner, so that there are no harmful repercussions.” See: Mumbai: Railway Stations To Have Environment-Friendly Metal Roofs.
 

Victim’s Verdict

Apr 17, 2018

A Labor Court in Rome, has awarded the estate of a deceased mechanic the sum €236,000 for his occupationally-caused death in 2011 from pulmonary adenocarcinoma. The judge condemned Cotral, the regional public transport company of Lazio and Vincenzo Cecchini’s employer, for failing to provide safe working conditions, including protection from asbestos exposures, between December 1981 and December 1992, the period during which the deceased was employed. See: Amianto, Tribunale del lavoro di Roma condanna la Cotral per morte di un meccanico a causa del cancro [Asbestos, Rome Labor Court condemns Cotral for mechanic’s cancer death].
 

Asbestos at College

Apr 17, 2018

Staff at the University of Toronto (U of  T) have condemned the multiple failures to take timely and appropriate actions to protect workers and students from toxic asbestos exposures following the U of  T’s “worst asbestos breach in more than a decade early last year at its medical-sciences building.” Other incidents have taken place since then. According to Terezia Zoric, vice-president of grievances for U of  T’s faculty association, the level of anxiety regarding asbestos on campus remains high; a spokesperson for the Association of Part-Time Undergraduate Students said that urgent clarification regarding the asbestos situation was needed. See: University of Toronto criticized for poor handling of asbestos issues on campus.
 

Toxic Trains

Apr 17, 2018

Asbestos in Metro de Madrid rolling stock on lines 1, 6 and 9, will be investigated by a commission of enquiry with deliberations beginning on May 11 and taking place on Fridays once a month until December. Submissions will be heard from Metro executives, affected workers, occupational health experts and others. Findings will be shared with the authorities in Argentina who are investigating the purchase by Subterraneos de Buenos Aires of toxic second-hand Spanish rolling stock. See: Podemos presidirá la comisión de investigación del amianto en el Metro pese a la oposición del PSOE [Podemos will preside over the committee investigating asbestos in the Metro despite opposition from the PSOE].
 

Fall in Asbestos Demand!

Apr 13, 2018

According to a report issued by the Vietnam Roof Sheeting Association, the consumption of asbestos roofing in Vietnam fell by up to 35% in 2017 as consumers sought safer alternatives. The Association acknowledged the growth in ban asbestos advocacy and increasing consumer support for alternative products. The cost advantage posed by asbestos sheeting has been neutralized by the availability of cheaper steel materials also suitable for poorer people. Total asbestos roofing production in 2017 was 55.8 million square meters, equal to 66% of that in 2016. See: Roofing for the poor: shifting consumption patterns (Eng. translation of: Tấm lợp cho người nghèo: Chuyển dịch xu hướng mới).
 

Award for Professor Anna Nowak

Apr 13, 2018

The Cancer Council of Western Australia has named Professor Anna Nowak the Cancer Researcher of the Year 2018 at a ceremony in Perth. Presenting her award, the Council spokesperson highlighted her “outstanding contribution to cancer research over the previous 12-24 months.” Prof. Nowak is, the citation stated: “a world-leading clinical researcher in mesothelioma. She combines detailed laboratory knowledge with outstanding clinical trials experience, collaborative spirit and multidisciplinary drive, to improve both cancer research and patient outcomes.” See: 2018 Research Excellence Awards celebrate 3 of WA's brightest researchers.
 

Asbestos in Make-Up Scandal

Apr 12, 2018

A TV broadcast has revealed this week that more children’s make-up sets sold by Claire's Accessories in its 32 Dutch outlets were contaminated with asbestos than was previously known. The extent of the contamination was discovered as a result of research commissioned by EenVandaag – a current affairs program on public TV. Toxic fibers have been found in the cosmetics sold under the names: Bedazzled rainbow heart make-up, Rainbow Bedazzled Star Makeup Set, Claire's Compact Powder and Claire's expert shadow and highlight finishing kit. Concerns have been raised as to whether the company’s products “can still be trusted” after these discoveries. See: Claire’s kindermake-up schandaal breidt zich verder uit [Claire's children’s makeup scandal expands further].
 

Victory in Bahia!

Apr 12, 2018

João Batista de Castro Júnior, federal judge of the 1st Court of the Judicial Branch of Vitória da Conquista, has issued a decisive judgment regarding the negligence of SAMA – a subsidiary of Eternit – and Saint-Gobain in spreading contamination throughout the environment of the Bom Jesus da Serra region, southwest of Bahia, Brazil. The Judge ordered the demolition of houses and roads built with asbestos tailings, the removal of the toxic debris and payment of $31 million for collective moral damages. See: Justiça Federal manda derrubar casas construídas com Amianto [Federal court orders to demolish houses built with asbestos].
 

Asbestos Hazard in Construction Sector

Apr 12, 2018

According to a new survey by the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH), nearly a 25% of British building workers believe they have been occupationally exposed to asbestos. The release of the survey coincided with the launch of the IOSH’s latest “No Time To Lose” occupational cancer campaign. Some of the statistics reported were startling: 15% of workers said they had never been informed of the asbestos hazard, 33% never checked the asbestos register before starting work on a new site and 18% said if they found asbestos they would be unsure or have no idea of what to do. See: Asbestos: 23% of construction workers exposed.
 

Toxic Trains

Apr 12, 2018

An investigation into the contentious sale of 73 asbestos-contaminated trains by Metro de Madrid in 2011 to Argentina has been announced by the Community of Madrid with the Minister of Transport, Housing and Infrastructure Rosalía Gonzalo telling the Assembly’s plenary session that those who failed to comply with Spanish laws will be held to account. Opposition spokesmen queried the lack of action regarding asbestos in older Metro de Madrid vehicles. See: La Comunidad de Madrid abrirá una investigación sobre la venta de trenes de Metro con amianto a Buenos Aires [The Community of Madrid will open an investigation on the sale of Metro trains containing asbestos to Buenos Aires].
 

Fatal Legacy

Apr 11, 2018

An 18-minute video uploaded to youtube by NTV Panorama, documents the ubiquity of deteriorating asbestos-cement roofs throughout Uganda especially in public buildings such as schools and police barracks and housing for police officers. Interviews with Ugandan health experts Dr Jackson Orem and Tom Okururt inform the discussion of the hazard posed by exposure to deteriorating asbestos roofs. A spokesman confirmed a program to replace toxic roofs on police buildings located in several cities. The asbestos hazard has been raised in Parliament 21 times in 16 years; no action has been taken. See: NTV PANORAMA: Exploring the dangers of continued asbestos use.
 

Asbestos Mortality Increase

Apr 11, 2018

A 5% increase in annual deaths from mesothelioma was reported in the US between 1999 and 2015 from 2,479 to 2,597 fatalities. The increase in deaths was observed across all ethnicities, in males and females and in people over 85 years old. “Continuing occurrence,” the authors of this report noted “of malignant mesothelioma deaths in persons aged <55 years suggests ongoing inhalation exposure to asbestos fibers and possibly other causative EMPs [elongate mineral particles].” The paper concludes that in light of these figures, there is an urgent need to prevent future hazardous exposures and monitor temporal trends. See: Malignant Mesothelioma Mortality — United States, 1999–2015.
 

Asbestos in Paradise?

Apr 11, 2018

Australian experts have issued warnings regarding the risk to tourists of holidays in backpacker heavens throughout Asia due to the continuing use of asbestos and asbestos-containing products in the region. China, India, Thailand, Indonesia and Vietnam are amongst the top 10 global consumers with Laos having the world’s highest per capita consumption of asbestos. Professor Ken Takahashi, director of Australia’s Asbestos Diseases Research Institute recommends that travellers “avoid going near places where asbestos may be obviously present, the most typical of which is asbestos factories or mines.” See: Asbestos exposure, a hidden risk for budget tourists in Asia.
 

Asbestos: Cosmetics Recall

Apr 10, 2018

Claire’s Accessories – a US company with international outlets – which had been ordered to recall asbestos-tainted children’s cosmetics by US, Canadian and EU authorities has now been instructed by Trading Standards officials to withdraw two of its most popular eye shadow and face blusher kits from sale at its 500 UK outlets. This action follows an alert issued on March 30 to EU member states after experts in Brussels had confirmed the presence of deadly asbestos in Claire’s products. See: Claire's Accessories is ordered to destroy make-up worn by thousands of British teenagers after tests revealed it is contaminated with cancer-causing asbestos.
 

Asbestos Phase-Out in India

Apr 10, 2018

Maharashtra State has inserted clauses in development plans of 12 regions, including some on the outskirts of the capital Mumbai, stipulating that asbestos must not be used in manufacturing units on health grounds. The relevant clause is contained in regulations implemented for 2011-2031 under the Urban Development Department for the development of tourism and hospitality services. For now the clause only applies in “zones around sanctuaries but will be extended to other areas to make Maharashtra an asbestos-free State. Many factories are located near forest and sanctuaries in Mumbai, Pune, Kolhapur, Kalyan, Nashik, Thane and Aurangabad.” See: New rules to make State free of asbestos.
 

Asbestos Health Hazard

Apr 7, 2018

A short video accompanying an online article highlighted the dire hazard posed to Indonesians by focusing on the plight of Jakarta resident Sriyono, who as a result of working at an asbestos processing factory for over 20 years is now seriously ill. Sriyono, who was never warned about the asbestos danger, is the first Indonesian to obtain compensation from the government for his disease. In 2017, he received $4200 for his injuries. Interviews with a ban asbestos campaigner and a government minister contrast the huge discrepancy in approach, with the former urging immediate action to protect citizens and the later using government double-speak to uphold the status quo. See: Asbestos a time bomb in Indonesia.
 

Asbestos Scandal in Schools

Apr 7, 2018

Yesterday (April 6, 2018) the National Education Union issued a release highlighting the danger posed by asbestos in UK schools, calling the situation a “national scandal.” The 3-page text cited figures compiled by the Joint Union Asbestos Committee which revealed “the shocking disparity in asbestos management across Multi Academy Trusts (MATs).” Strong criticism was expressed by politicians and trade union leaders with MP Rachel Reeves saying: “The Government’s failure to get a grip on this issue is putting children and teaching staff at needless risk.” See: Freedom of information requests to Multi Academy Trusts reveal shocking disparity in asbestos management.
 

Raising Asbestos Awareness

Apr 7, 2018

On April 11, 2018, an asbestos resource entitled “Information Guide on the Risks of Asbestos” will be launched by Catalonia’s Association of Victims Affected by Asbestos (AVAAC) at a seminar to be held at the University of Barcelona. Amongst the speakers will be officials representing AVAAC and legal and academic experts. The presentations and discussion will focus on ways to raise public and professional awareness of the hazards posed by asbestos-containing products within the national infrastructure. See: Presentación oficial de la «Guía informativa sobre los riesgos del amianto» [Official presentation of the “Informative guide on asbestos risks”].
 

Asbestos Health Warning

Apr 7, 2018

As litigants in Ukraine challenging the suppression of the country’s ban on asbestos prepare for their next day in court on April 18, 2018 (see: Ukraine Asbestos Ban: Round 2), an online article detailing the top ten causes of the global cancer epidemic highlighted the toxic nature of human exposures to asbestos: “Asbestos was used as an insulating material for many years until it became clear that [exposure to] the dust from it is directly related to the development of lung cancer.” See: Медики назвали главные причины появления рака [Physicians name the main causes of cancer].
 

Victory Against J&J!

Apr 6, 2018

On April 5, 2018, Johnson & Johnson (J&J) suffered a stunning legal defeat when a New Jersey jury awarded $37 million in damages against J&J and one other company to Stephen Lanzo who claimed he had developed mesothelioma after inhaling dust generated by regular use of asbestos-contaminated J&J baby powder. This, the company’s first trial loss in an asbestos-related case involving talc, will give hope to thousands of ovarian cancer claimants whose cases are proceeding in various US jurisdictions. See: J&J loses trial over claims linking cancer to asbestos in talc.
 

Asbestos Alert

Apr 6, 2018

A commentary by Luis Eduardo Forero Medina contrasts the global consensus regarding the human health hazards posed by exposures to asbestos and the measures implemented to protect populations by scores of national governments with the failure of Colombia to take action. Concluding this timely feature, the author includes a quote by ban asbestos campaigner Silvia Gómez, coordinator of Greenpeace Colombia: “In Colombia, asbestos is consumed so much that ‘it's as if each citizen had a pound of poison assigned to them.’” See: Sector asbesto, conviviendo con todo el mundo [Asbestos sector, coexisting with the whole world].
 

Under-reporting of Asbestos Cancer

Apr 6, 2018

Scientists in Brazil have devised and implemented an effective protocol for tracking cases of mesothelioma and cancer of the pleura (MCP), the national incidence of which, they say, has been “under-reported.” Using a computer linkage, MCP cases from hospital records not recorded on death certificates in Brazil were recovered. The authors conclude that: “In Brazil, where only recently was the ban on asbestos legally indicated, high standards of surveillance and data record quality of mesothelioma are more than a need; they should be a priority.” See: Recovering missing mesothelioma deaths in death certificates using hospital records.
 

Making a Difference!

Mar 30, 2018

Yesterday in Rio de Janeiro, retired Labor Inspector Fernanda Giannasi was awarded the prestigious “Prize for Making a Difference to the Brazilian Economy in 2017” for her leadership in the national battle to ban asbestos, at a gala ceremony hosted by the Globo media corporation. Accepting the trophy, she appealed to the Federal Supreme Court not to back down on its historic 2017 decision to outlaw asbestos mining, processing, use and export in the face of huge corporate pressure. See: Prêmio Faz Diferença: pioneira na luta contra o amianto, Fernanda Giannasi Giannasi faz apelo ao STF [Prize for Making a Difference: Pioneer in the fight against asbestos, Fernanda Giannasi appeals to the Supreme Court].
 

Contamination in the Capital

Mar 29, 2018

Although asbestos-containing products are ubiquitous in domestic housing throughout Spain, several areas in Madrid are amongst the most contaminated in the capital: they include the districts of Fuencarral, Ciudad Lineal and Usera. According to Óscar Bayona, spokesperson for the Campaign for the Suppression of Asbestos: “It is estimated that in Spain there are more than two million tons of this material in our buildings and equipment, and this is a public health problem of the first order.” See: “Expediente Amianto”: los vecinos exigen la retirada de este material de miles de viviendas de Madrid [“Asbestos file:” neighbors demand withdrawal of this material from thousands of homes in Madrid].
 

Toxic Children’s Products

Mar 28, 2018

Tests undertaken by a Dutch Inspectorate has confirmed the presence of tremolite asbestos in products being sold in Holland by Claire’s Accessories, a US company; these products were promptly removed from sale as asbestos is banned in the EU. The tests were carried out after reports that tests of these two products in the US proved positive for asbestos. The Dutch authorities plan an investigation into the presence of asbestos in other talc-containing products. See: ILT en NVWA starten onderzoek naar asbest in make-up [ILT and NVWA start research into asbestos in make-up].
 

Asbestos in Belgian Schools

Mar 28, 2018

Although it is believed that 70% of Belgian schools contain asbestos, there is no centralized asbestos register and no data available on the situation in specific schools publicly available, according to a new article which focuses on the hazard posed by asbestos contamination to children in Brussels and Wallonia. Grace-Hollogne college, in the Liège province has been closed since March 12 due to tests which showed the presence of airborne asbestos fibers. See: Combien d'écoles contiennent de l'amiante à Bruxelles et en Wallonie? Y a-il des risques pour les enfants? [How many schools contain asbestos in Brussels and Wallonia? Are there any risks for children?].
 

Mesothelioma and Women

Mar 28, 2018

Using mesothelioma data from Italy’s epidemiological surveillance system for 1993 to 2012, scientists studied the occurrence of mesothelioma amongst female cohorts. Their findings highlighted the role of non-occupational exposures, caused by living near asbestos-using factories or washing relatives’ contaminated work clothes, and employment of females in high-risk sectors, including the chemical and plastic industry. The researchers conclude: “Enhancing the awareness of mesothelioma aetiology in women could support the effectiveness of welfare system and prevention policies.” See: The epidemiology of malignant mesothelioma in women: gender differences and modalities of asbestos exposure.
 

Asbestos: Quebec’s Future

Mar 27, 2018

In an open letter uploaded to the internet on March 26, medical specialist and mesothelioma widower Yv Bonnier Viger calls on the Mayor of a Quebec mining town to reconsider his attack on Philippe Lessard, Regional Director of Public Health of Chaudière-Appalaches, who has spoken out against ill-conceived plans to reprocess Quebec asbestos waste to extract magnesium. Mr. Viger urges the Mayor to join with him and others to “roll up our sleeves and devise winning solutions [to the asbestos legacy] to [safeguard] all our fellow citizens in Quebec and Canada.” See: Lettre ouverte à Marc-Alexandre Brousseau, maire de Thetford Mines [Open Letter to Marc-Alexandre Brousseau, Mayor of Thetford Mines].
 

Asbestos in Schools

Mar 27, 2018

The role of occupational health practitioners in helping protect staff from asbestos contamination of schools – “the National Union of Teachers estimates that as many as 86% of schools contain asbestos” – is discussed in a new article which cites relevant government reports and resources including HSE asbestos mortality statistics and reports by the Department for Education’s Education Funding Agency and the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee on capital funding in schools. Recommendations made by the Joint Union Asbestos Committee are considered. See: The occupational health role in tackling asbestos in schools.
 

Australia’s Asbestos Legacy

Mar 27, 2018

A wide-ranging debate on asbestos took place in the Australian Senate last Thursday (March 22) afternoon. While the prime focus of the discussion was the need for a nationwide asbestos management and disposal plan, one which does “not result in landfill contamination, which in itself becomes an environmental hazard,” other issues were covered, including: the role of the Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency, the diverse responses of Australian states to various asbestos issues such as compensation for disease sufferers, previous research and legislative initiatives, the need for a public asbestos register etc. See: Hansard Australia. Asbestos Debate. March 22, 2018.
 

Capitalizing on Asbestos Waste?

Mar 26, 2018

Despite the imminent banning of asbestos in Canada, politicians in the country’s former asbestos heartland remain in denial, with the Mayor of former mining town accusing a Quebec public health official of “having a crazy, biased attitude towards asbestos and towards the 500 million tons of asbestos mining wastes in the region.” At the center of this dispute are plans to extract magnesium from millions of tonnes of asbestos waste. The Ottawa government has been informed that Quebec’s 17 Regional Directors of Public Health oppose the exemption of asbestos mining wastes from the federal government’s proposed asbestos regulations. See: Quebec Public Health Director threatened with dismissal for raising asbestos concerns.
 

In-place Asbestos Hazard

Mar 24, 2018

On March 23, 2018, Cevahir Efe Akçelik, environmental engineer and executive at the Union of Chambers of Turkish Engineers and Architects revealed that pre-demolition asbestos audits are mandatory in only seven Istanbul districts; data from checks undertaken in Beşiktaş, Şişli, Maltepe, Tuzla, Bağcılar, Kadıköy and Ataşehir found that 25% of the buildings to be demolished contained asbestos. Cafer Fidan, head of the Asbestos Removal Experts Association, urged property owners to act responsibly: “Since asbestos is seriously hazardous for human health, a relevant inventory report should be prepared before the demolition of any building, factory maintenance or home renovation.” See: Asbestos in Istanbul buildings puts lives at risk.
 

Asbestos Ban Impact

Mar 24, 2018

A paper published as part of a special issue (Global Panorama of National Experiences in Public Health Actions to Ban Asbestos) of the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health revealed that banning asbestos did not result in “any significant effect on GDP…” Researchers also concluded that: “Countries that are still producing and using asbestos today may experience other costs in addition to substantial health costs, such as remediation and removal costs, as well as compensation costs, which may include significant litigation costs for some countries.” See: Trends and the Economic Effect of Asbestos Bans and Decline in Asbestos Consumption and Production Worldwide.
 

Asbestos on the Railways

Mar 24, 2018

After recent discoveries of asbestos in the Madrid and Buenos Aires train systems, the Belgian railway company (SNCB) announced on March 23, 2018 that asbestos had been found in paint on “freight wagons it maintains for third parties.” Tests undertaken confirmed that several vehicles under repair in its workshops had caused concern. Measures were being taken, the company said, to minimize exposures – including the termination of some work – and protect affected workers; health checks of exposed personnel were underway. See: La SNCB a retrouvé de l’amiante dans la peinture de plusieurs wagons [SNCB found asbestos in the paint of several vehicles].
 

Asbestos Blindness: Corporate Disaster

Mar 24, 2018

Instead of investing in innovation, Eternit S.A., formerly Brazil’s biggest asbestos conglomerate, continued to pay generous dividends despite growing national concern over the company’s reliance on asbestos; with liabilities greater than assets, the company has sought court protection as it strives for solvency. Blinkered leadership has been cited as pivotal in Eternit’s downfall: “Eternit is an example of how a company can be negatively affected – its executives and shareholders ignored the fact that the world was changing, and that it needed to change as well.” See: A cegueira que levou a Eternit à recuperação judicial [The blindness that led Eternit to judicial protection].
 

Asbestos Inferno

Mar 23, 2018

The asbestos fall-out from yesterday’s blaze in Glasgow city center is the subject of an article in a Scottish newspaper. The fire, which started in a nightclub, spread extensively to nearby premises many of which were older tenement-style buildings. Local people were warned of the hazard posed by asbestos liberated by the fire and were warned to keep their windows shut. As has been seen in previous instances, the purpose of article appears to be reassurance rather than information: “Experts generally say that as long as proper clean-up procedures are used there should be no significant public health risk from asbestos exposures from large-scale fires.” See: what are the dangers of asbestos in blazes such as the Glasgow fire and how can it harm your health?.
 

Asbestos in Makeup

Mar 23, 2018

Tests conducted on makeup products marketed in the US by Claire’s Accessories which have proved positive for the presence of tremolite asbestos in three products has spurred America’s Food and Drug Administration into an investigation according to online publisher Chemical Watch. The suspect products are Claire’s contour palette, shadow and highlight finishing kit and compact powder. Claire's has denied the contamination saying that the testing was “inaccurate” and calling the results “obsolete and unreliable.” It also said that the products were “safe and asbestos-free.” See: US FDA investigating reports of tremolite asbestos in makeup.
 

Asbestos Industry Offensive

Mar 22, 2018

A media onslaught has been launched by a UK public relations company, Muller & Green PR, against Canada’s upcoming plans to ban asbestos. In media releases sent to Canadian journalists and in a media release uploaded to the internet, the hazard posed by asbestos to Canadians is discounted and the prohibitions are called a “waste of public money.” As is usual, the PR company did not disclose the name of its clients who are suspected to be vested interests representing the asbestos industry. See: Foreign and anonymous interests seek to defeat Canadian asbestos ban.
 

Asbestos at the Opera

Mar 22, 2018

The relatives of deceased performers and tradespeople exposed to asbestos at La Scala opera house demonstrated on March 19 in front of the Milan court building where proceedings continue into the untimely deaths of 10 La Scala workers. The family members were joined at the protest by trade union representatives and members of civil society organizations such as the Committee for the Defence of Health in the Workplace and in the Territory that are civil parties in this case. See: Amianto alla Scala, presidio davanti al Tribunale: “Strage silenziosa continua” [See: Asbestos at La Scala, demonstration in front of the Court: “Silent slaughter continues”].
 

Ban Asbestos Mobilization

Mar 22, 2018

In a commentary published in the latest issue of The Institution of Occupational Safety and Health’s magazine Jukka Takala, President of the International Commission on Occupational Health, references the ICOH statement on Global Asbestos Ban and the Elimination of Asbestos-Related Diseases, which urges “every country to implement a total ban on production and use of asbestos” and “complementary efforts aimed at primary, secondary and tertiary prevention of asbestos-related diseases through country-specific national programmes, in line with International Labour Organization and World Health Organization guidelines.” See: Building support to eliminate asbestos-related diseases.
 

Update: Eternit S.A.

Mar 20, 2018

In the aftermath of the November 2017 judgment by Brazil’s Supreme Court banning asbestos, Eternit S.A., the country’s biggest asbestos producer and manufacturer, has taken steps to restructure the company as a step to assuring its viability in light of the impact the prohibitions have had on its finances. According to a statement made this week, the construction company and its subsidiaries have filed for judicial recovery in São Paulo, citing an adverse financial climate and ongoing legal discussions about the asbestos prohibitions. See: Grupo Eternit pede recuperação judicial e cita impacto de proibição do uso de Amianto [Eternit Group seeks judicial recovery and cites impact of ban on the use of asbestos].
 

Global Asbestos Production

Mar 20, 2018

The United States Geological Survey (USGS) has uploaded figures for worldwide asbestos production for 2016 – and drastically revised downwards previously released figures for 2012-2015 – which reveal a huge drop in output; a fall in annual production of 720,000 tonnes (36%) between 2010 and 2016 (as yet, the USGS has not provided detailed reasons for the revisions). The 2016 data show significant asbestos production in only four countries: Russia (692,000 t (tonnes)), China (200,000t), Brazil (200,000t), and Kazakhstan (193,000t). See Asbestos Production by Country (Table 8 in the file). In addition, a narrative in Asbestos: a 2-page USGS document extract draws attention to asbestos bans in Brazil and Ukraine and US legislative efforts to ban asbestos.
 

At-Risk: Motor Mechanics

Mar 20, 2018

Legal experts in Victoria, Australia have reported a substantial rise in the number of asbestos-related claims being brought by motor mechanics in recent years. Commenting on this trend, asbestos specialist solicitor Tracy Madden said there had been a staggering 200% increase in mechanics seeking legal support over the last two years. The asbestos hazard is not restricted to professional mechanics but also put “people who work in their cars at home who are pulling these parts out of the car” at risk. See: Rise in mechanics making claims for asbestos-related illnesses.
 

UK Ownership of Asbestos Mine?

Mar 19, 2018

An article published on Saturday, March 17, 2018 in Zimbabwe disclosed that outside the controlling shareholder (the government), the Shabanie asbestos mine was also owned through Shabanie Mashaba Mines (SMM) United Kingdom. This fact was revealed after questioning of the mine’s managing director Steven Nyagura by members of the Parliamentary Committee of Energy and Mines during a site visit by the politicians to the mine. The Committee’s chairperson Temba Mliswa has said he will summon the shareholders of the company to Parliament to answer questions before the portfolio committee. See: Parly to probe Shabanie asbestos mine ownership.
 

Asbestos Waste: Health Warnings!

Mar 19, 2018

News that 400 million tonnes of asbestos waste in Thetford Mines, Quebec could be processed to extract magnesium has raised concerns amongst health advocates with the Director of Public Health of Chaudière-Appalaches Dr. Philippe Lessard asking for all activities relating to the tailings to cease until assessments can be made of the public health hazard: “such activity could resuspend asbestos fibers in the air and unnecessarily environmentally expose the population to a carcinogenic contaminant.” See: La réutilisation des résidus miniers menacée par la santé publique [The reuse of mining waste threatens public health].
 

Asbestos in Spain’s Infrastructure

Mar 19, 2018

A commentary in El Confidencial, a Spanish digital newspaper, discusses the background to trade union work stoppages on the Madrid Metro on March 9, 13 & 15, 2018 and explains the multi-faceted challenges posed by the presence of asbestos not only in subway cars but in hospitals, schools, home and elsewhere in the Spanish infrastructure: “Currently, it is believed that there are still 2.9 [million?] tons in all of Spain, and according to experts, asbestos will continue to kill until 2040.” See: Amianto: qué es y qué riesgos tiene este cancerígeno hallado en el Metro de Madrid [Asbestos: what is it and what are the risks of this carcinogen found in the Madrid Metro].
 

Asbestos Jail Sentence

Mar 19, 2018

Italy’s Supreme Court (the Court of Cassation) – in what is believed to be the first criminal conviction of its kind, at this level – has upheld the guilty verdict handed down to the owner of an asbestos workshop (operated by his company Effe Erre) for failing to comply with health and safety regulations as a result of which an employee died from an asbestos-related disease; the Court confirmed a one-year jail sentence for the offence. The deceased was a carpenter in the small workshop in Navigli; he died in 2012 of pleural mesothelioma. See: Amianto, prima condanna definitiva a Milano [Asbestos, first final conviction in Milan].
 

The Poison Factory

Mar 19, 2018

Virginie Dupeyroux’s beloved father Paul died of mesothelioma in 2015 as a result of environmental asbestos exposures experienced as a child. The toxic source of the deadly fibers which he inhaled was an asbestos crushing plant in his home town of Aulnay-sous-Bois. In 2014, Paul was diagnosed with mesothelioma and so the fight for life by Paul and his daughter began. To “give voice to her father,” Virginie has published a 576-page book documenting the scandal which has taken his life and that of so many other Aulnay residents. See: Aulnay: un livre pour raconter l’enfance de son père, victime de « l’usine-poison » [Aulnay: a book to tell the story of her father's childhood, victim of the “poison factory”].
 

Victims Win!

Mar 15, 2018

On March 14, 2018, the Tokyo High Court ordered the Japanese Government to pay compensation of 2.28bn yen ($21m) for 327 cases of asbestos-related diseases contracted by construction workers from the Tokyo metropolitan area; they had been seeking 11.8bn yen in damages from the state and 42 manufacturers. Judge Toru Odan did not find the manufacturers of asbestos-containing construction materials liable for damages even though they had failed to give proper warning of the asbestos hazard. See: High court orders gov't to compensate asbestos victims - The Mainichi.
 

Asbestos Subway Strike

Mar 15, 2018

On March 20, 2018, subway workers in Buenos Aires are due to strike for a period of four hours over asbestos contamination of 36 second-hand vehicles purchased by Subterraneos de Buenos Aires from the Madrid Metro in 2011 at the cost of $6 million. Claudio Dellacarbonara, spokesman for the metro workers’ union, said “his union had managed to get CAF 5000-model cars taken out of service, but it had now emerged that asbestos had been found in at least one CAF 6000 car in Spain, similar to a model that is used on Line B of Buenos Aires’ metro.” See: Buenos Aires subway workers go on strike over asbestos claims.
 

Toxic Makeup: New Findings

Mar 15, 2018

Weeks after several makeup products had been withdrawn from sale by Claire’s, tests undertaken by a consumer watchdog group revealed that three products still being marketed to children contained “high levels of asbestos.” The US Public Interest Research Group (PRIG) commissioned tests of 15 makeup products containing talc including four from Claire’s. The company “categorically” denied the contamination and characterized the laboratory's methods as “obsolete and unreliable.” See: Study finds asbestos in Claire's makeup products marketed to teens. (For more detail on the toxic products read the PRIG report.)
 

Plans to Reprocess Mining Wastes

Mar 15, 2018

Investors from the asbestos industries in Russia and Kazakhstan are backing the International Chrysotile Association and the PROChrysotile Movement, a Quebec front group, which are promoting initiatives in Quebec to extract magnesium from asbestos mining residues. “There is,” say critics “a complete absence of transparency and accountability. The issue of the health impact on the workers and the nearby population has been silenced. No-one has been designated as responsible for protecting health.” Permissible occupational asbestos exposure levels in Quebec are 100 times higher than in France, Switzerland and the Netherlands. See: Will the Canadian and Quebec governments continue to betray the people of Quebec on asbestos?
 

Mesothelioma Settlement

Mar 15, 2018

Mesothelioma patient James Casey has secured a legal settlement which includes compensation for future medical costs he incurs including for treatments which are currently not available on the NHS or have not yet been developed. Sixty-three year old Mr. Casey had been exposed to asbestos between 1969 and 1980 when he had worked as a gas engineer for the former North Eastern Gas Board. Commenting on the settlement he said: “While nothing will now change what the future holds... this settlement will ensure I will always be able to access the care and treatment that I need.” See: Landmark legal settlement after former engineer diagnosed with asbestos-related cancer.
 

Asbestos Mine Revival?

Mar 13, 2018

With the support of the new Zimbabwe government, investment has been secured to begin work on extracting asbestos fiber from waste at the formerly defunct Shabanie chrysotile (white) asbestos mine. While $74 million of investment is needed to restore mining operations to full capacity – much of which will be absorbed by dewatering the two mining shafts – a capital injection of $1.2m has enable work to begin on exploiting “the already-on-surface dump which cuts the production cost by close to 87.5 percent compared to the costs incurred if the fibre was to be retrieved from underground.” See: Shabanie comes back to life.
 

Priority: Asbestos Removal Program

Mar 13, 2018

After protests by labor groups including the CCOO, UGT, Solidaridad Obrera, Union of Drivers, USO, Free Suburban Subway Syndicate, Union of Stations and Technical Union and widespread media coverage, the operators of the Madrid Metro, having confirmed the presence of asbestos throughout the network, pledged on March 9, 2018 to make the decontamination of the system a top priority. The first step is, said the company’s CEO, to hire a specialist contractor to undertake the removal of asbestos from up to 96 vehicles currently being used. See: Los sindicatos del Metro de Madrid sabían desde 2006 que había amianto en el suburban [Madrid Metro Unions knew since 2006 that there was asbestos in the subway].
 

Asbestos in Schools

Mar 13, 2018

A 2018 update by Flemish Ministers of the number of schools affected by asbestos contamination has shown a deterioration, with 69 out of 300 schools having an urgent asbestos problem as opposed to a figure of 20 at-risk premises in 2017. Flemish MP Caroline Gennez has described this situation as “unacceptable” and called on “all mayors to request the data for the schools on their territory.” “Asbestos is,” she said “an insidious poison and therefore has no place in our schools. When school boards themselves do not intervene, it is up to the mayors to do so.” See: Asbestos problem in 23 percent of schools studied – Belgium.
 

Warnings: US asbestos exports to UK!

Mar 13, 2018

Ministerial concern has been expressed over ramifications of a US:UK trade deal which could result in contaminated goods being exported from the US, a country which has not banned asbestos. In her desperation to achieve a deal with President Trump, critics believe that Theresa May could lower stringent UK standards, which ban all asbestos, to allow the import of products containing up to 1% asbestos such as roofing materials and brake linings. In a speech last month, Brexit Secretary David Davis admitted the UK may reduce “levels of occupational safety and health” after Brexit. See: Brexit: US trade deal could raise prospect of bringing asbestos products to UK, MP claims.
 

Update: Mesothelioma Mortality

Mar 12, 2018

On March 5, 2018, the Office of National Statistics released a file detailing the number of mesothelioma deaths for each separate local authority in England and Wales registered in 2015 and 2016. Annual deaths increased slightly from 2,308 in 2015 to 2,313 in 2016, with the most deaths recorded in 2016 in the South East (434), the East (306), the North West (288), the South West (277), Yorkshire and the Humber (217). The largest increases noted between 2015 and 2016 were recorded in Cornwall (21), Brighton and Hove (13) South Tyneside (12) and Swale (10). See: Mesothelioma deaths by local authority, England and Wales, registered between 2015 and 2016.
 

Quebec: Asbestos Update

Mar 12, 2018

A 56-page review published on March 7, 2018 by (Quebec’s) National Institute of Public Health provides background information and proposals regarding draft legislation to prevent hazardous environmental asbestos exposures in Quebec, formerly Canada’s asbestos heartland; asbestos is specifically excluded from Quebec’s Hazardous Materials Regulations. Protocols in force in various US. states and Canadian jurisdictions are examined as are EU measures to forestall toxic exposures. See: Survol de la législation concernant l’exposition environnementale à l’amiante au Québec et ailleurs [Overview of legislation concerning environmental exposure to asbestos in Quebec and elsewhere].
 

Spain’s Asbestos Legacy

Mar 12, 2018

Widespread publicity regarding the recent diagnosis of a Madrid Metro system worker with asbestosis has led to a articles about Spain’s asbestos legacy. It has been estimated that 2.6 millions of tonnes of asbestos-containing products remaining within the national infrastructure will continue to kill until 2040. Groups at the highest risk of exposures include workers employed in construction, shipbuilding, insulation and demolition sectors, and tradespeople such as electricians, plumbers and mechanics – and family members of people so employed. See: Amianto, un cancerígeno muy extendido que seguirá matando hasta 2040 [Asbestos, a widespread carcinogen that will continue to kill until 2040].
 

Asbestos Verdict: Italy

Mar 12, 2018

An Italian judge from the Court of Salerno recognized the occupational nature of asbestos exposure experienced by a member of the Italian navy who died from mesothelioma and ruled that he was a “victim of duty.” The judge awarded the late serviceman’s heirs an extra monthly payment from the Ministry of Defense of €500. One legal commentator said that the Court’s judgment was evidence of what a parliamentary commission of inquiry had dubbed “the asbestos massacre of naval personnel.” See: Amianto assassino, ex militare salernitano riconosciuto “vittima del dovere” [Asbestos killer, former Salerno military recognized as “victim of duty”].
 

Asbestos and Cancer

Mar 12, 2018

European and Canadian researchers, supported by the Swiss National Science Foundation, have published findings in the current issue of the Journal Oncogene regarding the process by which asbestos fibers cause cancer. “Chronic exposure to asbestos triggers an injurious process… which disrupts the immune system, which then no longer effectively fights tumors” said Emanuela Felley-Bosco, director of the study. It is hoped that these discoveries will enable the development of protocols to: detect inflammation signals at an early stage and eradicate mesothelial cancer. See: Pourquoi l’amiante est si dangereux [Why asbestos is so dangerous].
 

Ban Asbestos Mobilization

Mar 9, 2018

On March 6 & 7, 2018, union representatives from across the Asian region called on governments to ban all forms of asbestos and condemned propaganda being disseminated by the asbestos lobby to forestall action combating the use of asbestos in Asia, where it was still widely used. In a joint communique issued by the ITUC-AP Regional Conference on Asbestos which was held in Jakarta, Indonesia, participants “confirmed that the elimination of the future use of asbestos is the most effective means to protect workers from asbestos exposure and … prevent future asbestos-related diseases and deaths…” See: Joint Communique on Asbestos: Realising an Asbestos-free World.
 

Montana Asbestos Verdict

Mar 9, 2018

Last week, Montana State District Judge Holly Brown ruled that the National Indemnity Company, a Nebraska-based insurer, is liable for $43 million in compensation paid by the State in settlement of 100 asbestos claims from Libby, Montana. The Judge concluded that the insurance company, a subsidiary of Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway firm, had “improperly tried to deny coverage from an insurance policy held by the state 45 years ago.” National Indemnity can appeal the decision to the Montana Supreme Court. See: Judge says private insurer, not state, on hook for $43M in Libby asbestos claims.
 

Into the frying pan?

Mar 9, 2018

For over a century the town of Asbestos lived and died from the commercial exploitation of white asbestos. Mining operations have ceased as the federal government finalizes legislation prohibiting future asbestos mining, processing, sale and use on the grounds of public health. Despite the knowledge that exposure to asbestos can be deadly, entrepreneurs in the town are planning to extract magnesium from tailings (waste) which contain up to 40% asbestos fiber. Health and safety advocates have expressed serious concerns about the injurious consequences of these plans (Urgent Appeal to Political Leaders To Take Action). See: Magnesium May Save the Town of Asbestos.
 

Progress: Asbestos Ban in Laos

Mar 6, 2018

Work on a Laos Asbestos Action Plan was progressed at a workshop in Vientiane on March 1, 2018 held by the Ministry of Health, supported by the World Health Organization and Australia’s Union Aid Abroad –APHEDA. The purpose of the meeting was to consider means to end the use of chrysotile asbestos, a substance widely used in Laos, in order to protect public and occupational health. In 2013, more than 8,000 tonnes of asbestos were imported by Laos making it “the highest among Asia-Pacific countries, in terms of asbestos consumption per person.” National usage of asbestos apparently increased by 240% between 2010 and 2013. See: Media Release: Laos takes steps to end asbestos.
 

International Asbestos Scandal

Mar 6, 2018

Transport authorities in Buenos Aires have removed from service railway vehicles suspected of being contaminated with asbestos after reports in the Spanish press that there had been illegal sales of toxic trains by a Madrid company in 2011 and 2012 to the Argentinian train companies of Subterráneos de Buenos Aires S.E. and Metrovías. A fortnight ago, it was widely reported that an employee of Metro de Madrid had contracted asbestosis after long-term occupational exposure. See: Metro Madrid vendió en contra de la ley y a sabiendas trenes con amianto a Argentina [Metro Madrid illegally and knowingly sold trains with asbestos to Argentina].
 

First Prize: Fernanda Giannasi!

Mar 6, 2018

On February 11, 2018, it was announced that ban asbestos campaigner Fernanda Giannasi had won the prestigious Globo Award for Making a Difference to the Brazilian Economy in 2017 for decades of work which, finally in November 2017, resulted in the production, trade and use of asbestos being banned in Brazil, formerly the world’s 3rd largest supplier of asbestos fiber. The award presentation will take place at a gala ceremony on March 28 in Rio de Janeiro. See: Prêmio Faz Diferença. Vencedores – Economia: Fernanda Giannasi (Prize for Making a Difference. Winner – Economy: Fernanda Giannasi).
 

Victory for Asbestos Claimant

Mar 6, 2018

On February 22, 2018, the Court of Appeal handed down a claimant’s verdict in the case of Bussey v Anglia Heating Ltd. which has implications for future asbestos cases, as the law lords agreed that despite previous judgments the employer of David Edwin Anthony Bussey had been negligent for allowing relatively low level workplace asbestos exposures which had led to Mr. Bussey’s death from mesothelioma. The Court of Appeal decision concluded that there was “strong support for the conclusion that the relevant risk of injury would have been reasonably foreseeable to Anglia.” See: Bussey Judgment Final.
 

Union Backs Asbestos Ban!

Mar 5, 2018

At a Karachi press conference, trade union leaders highlighted the human cost of deadly exposures to Pakistani workers with Nasir Mansoor, deputy secretary of the National Trade Union Federation (NTUF), condemning the government’s failure to act on the hazard posed by the use of asbestos in construction, pipes, boilers, fireproofing, textiles, cement products, automobiles and shipbuilding. Mr. Mansoor and NTUF President Rafiq Baloch demanded an immediate ban on asbestos use and urged that action be taken to destroy toxic stockpiles and minimize exposure to contaminated products within the country’s infrastructure. See: Union leaders call to improve safety conditions for workers: report.
 

Quebec: Asbestos Action?

Mar 5, 2018

In a letter to Quebec’s political leaders from the Quebec Public Health Association, the Quebec Association of Specialists in Preventive Medicine, the Quebec Asbestos Victims Association, the Quebec Council of Construction Trades – International, the Quebec Federation of Labour – Construction and the Quebec Association of Young Physicians sent on February 16, leading health and safety advocates urged all provincial political parties to take action to protect workers and the public from to exposures to asbestos. See: Urgent appeal to all Quebec political leaders: Take immediate action to better protect Quebec workers from asbestos.
 

Toxic Trains and Facilities

Mar 5, 2018

Spain’s largest trade union CCOO has condemned the presence of asbestos products on Renfe railway carriages in Málaga, Valencia, Cercedilla and Cotos. In a media release the CCOO reported that “although asbestos has been banned since 2002, a few days ago this carcinogenic material was detected in Renfe trains” which were part of the 442 and 470 series. In addition, CCOO representatives from the railway sector reported the “presence of asbestos in their facilities” and requested, to no avail, that the decontamination of affected workplaces be undertaken. See: Detectan amianto en trenes de Renfe [Asbestos detected in Renfe trains].
 

EU Asbestos Hazard

Mar 5, 2018

The results of tests undertaken in 2016 on 5,625 products by 29 European countries revealed that 18% failed to comply with EU restrictions on hazardous chemicals and substances. Almost 14% of the products tested for asbestos were non-compliant. Amongst this category of toxic products were catalytic heaters, thermos flasks, and brake pads, most of which were second-hand. According to EU regulations, it is prohibited to manufacture, place on the market and use asbestos fibers and articles and mixtures containing asbestos fibers. See: Inspectors find phthalates in toys and asbestos in second-hand products.
 

Australia’s Asbestos Legacy

Mar 5, 2018

A paper published as part of the Special Issue “Global Panorama of National Experiences in Public Health Actions to Ban Asbestos” explores the causes of Australia’s asbestos-related disease epidemic – continuing, despite the use of all types of asbestos having been banned more than a decade ago. The text highlights actions by organizations including unions and non-governmental organizations to press for national action to eliminate asbestos-related diseases through trade embargoes and collaborations to minimize toxic exposures to in-place products. See: Australia’s Ongoing Legacy of Asbestos: Significant Challenges Remain Even after the Complete Banning of Asbestos Almost Fifteen Years Ago.
 

Asbestos Limbo?

Jan 29, 2018

Anton Edema of the Fibre Cement Products Manufacturers Association of Sri Lanka has challenged the government to clarify the legality of asbestos use in light of proposals to ban asbestos as of January 1, 2018; according to reports, the prohibition has been “temporarily lifted” after commercial threats from Russia. Edema says the lack of clarity is preventing needed investment in the asbestos industrial sector which employs tens of thousands of people and provides 60% of the country’s roofing. Edema claims there have been no cases of asbestos disease amongst those employed by the industry. See: Give clear picture on Asbestos ban.
 

Mesothelioma Legal Precedent?

Jan 29, 2018

In what is being hailed as the “first of its kind,” 74-year old mesothelioma victim Pamela Stubberfield is receiving private medical treatment funded by her former employer as a result of a “unique” settlement in which an insurer agreed to pay directly for appropriate treatment with no time limits specified. Mrs. Stubberfield is receiving the immunotherapy drug Pembrolizumab that is not available on the NHS for mesothelioma. Consultant Peter Szlosarek said that without the drug, Mrs. Stubberfield would have been died within six months of her September 2016 diagnosis. See: BOC pays woman’s asbestos-caused cancer treatment costs.
 

Banning Asbestos in Korea

Jan 26, 2018

A paper has been published as part of the Special Issue “Global Panorama of National Experiences in Public Health Actions to Ban Asbestos” detailing the five stages and many actions that were required before Korea succeeded in banning asbestos. An analysis of the role played by multiple stakeholders is undertaken. As in the UK and elsewhere “after the asbestos ban, those who had imported raw asbestos turned to asbestos removal and protection services as they had hands-on experience about where asbestos was installed.” See: The Asbestos Ban in Korea from a Grassroots Perspective: Why Did It Occur?
 

Costly Construction Error

Jan 26, 2018

A track laid down by Christchurch City Council for $8,420 is costing $285,000 to be removed; the council had used asbestos-contaminated soil in the construction of the path near Waimairi Beach which ran behind beach-side properties. The asbestos contamination of the 375 cubic meters of soil, which was donated by a local resident, was discovered by a Northshore resident who presented council staff with test results showing the presence of asbestos. Council head of parks Brent Smith said testing of the soil had “appeared unnecessary given the circumstances around the supply of the soil.” See: Christchurch City Council lays path with soil contaminated with asbestos.
 

Post-asbestos Economy

Jan 26, 3028

Canada Economic Development for Quebec Regions announced on Wednesday (January 24, 2018) that it will invest $3.5+ million in several projects in the former asbestos producing region of Thetford Mines and other Quebec communities in the Appalaches Regional County Municipality “to grow the economy and create wealth for Canadians.” Fourteen jobs will be created by the ten projects which will attract a total investment of $6,176,856 including $3,529,892 from the federal government. See: Support for 10 projects in the Appalaches RCM through the Canadian Initiative for the Economic Diversification of Communities Reliant on Chrysotile.
 

Calls for Asbestos Funds

Jan 24, 2018

Lack of financial resources has prevented Rwandan property owners from decontaminating premises as ordered by the federal government in 2009. A spokesman for the Catholic Church has requested the government subsidize the removal and replacement of asbestos roofs on church buildings including hospital and health centers which are co-owned with the State. It has been estimated that the total cost of asbestos decontamination would be around Rwf16 billion ($23,277,956), comprising approximately Rwf11 billion ($15,848,089) for publicly owned buildings and Rwf5 billion ($7,429,867) for private buildings. See: Catholic Church Tells Gov’t To Replace Asbestos On Structures.
 

Asbestos Ban: 2019!

Jan 24, 2018

According to draft Canadian asbestos regulations released on January 5, 2018, the long-awaited national asbestos ban is likely to take effect in 2019. The federal government’s proposals which were published in the latest issue of the Canada Gazette will not only outlaw the use, sale, import and export of asbestos and products but will also prohibit the manufacture of asbestos-containing products. There are exemptions which are raising concern, including a 2025 extension for the use of asbestos in the chlor-alkali industry and the processing of asbestos debris in former mining areas. See: Canada’s asbestos ban to take effect in 2019.
 

Uralita Condemned

Jan 24, 2018

The Spanish asbestos multinational Uralita has been ordered by a court in Donostia – a city in the Basque Autonomous Community – to pay compensation of more than €300,000 to a worker who, as a result of his employment by the company between June 1961 and June 1965 as a warehouse operator in Lasarte, has contracted asbestosis. A spokesman for the local asbestos victims’ group predicts that more asbestos claims will be forthcoming from other Uralita workers including those who worked for Uralita in Getafe, Madrid. See: Condenan a Uralita a indemnizar a un trabajador enfermo por Amianto [Uralita condemned to compensate a sick worker for asbestos exposure].
 

Asbestos: Causation and Compensation

Jan 24, 2018

The newly relaunched Asbestos Victims Association of Quebec is calling on the Québec Minister of Labor to follow an Ontario precedent which acknowledges specific trades and occupations, such as plumbers and construction workers, which carried high risk of exposure to asbestos; claims brought by individuals with asbestos disease in those employment categories are automatically presumed to have been occupationally caused. Such a system avoids time-consuming and expensive medico-legal battles. See: Amiante: une association veut que Québec reconnaisse les professions les plus exposées [Asbestos: an association wants Quebec to recognize the most exposed occupations].
 

Judicial U-Turn?

Jan 23, 2018

On January 19, 2018, France’s Supreme Court – the Court of Cassation – agreed to consider appeals in asbestos cases after recent adverse verdicts had been censured by asbestos victims’ groups and campaigners. The appeals have been brought by the Anti-asbestos Committee of Jussieu University and ARDEVA Nord-Pas-de-Calais, a regional body representing asbestos victims from the Dunkirk shipyards and surrounding area. Welcoming these developments, campaigners said: “We continue to think that there will be a criminal asbestos trial, we will do everything for it to take place.” See: Affaire de l'amiante: enfin un signe positif pour les victimes? [Asbestos affair: finally a positive sign for the victims?]
 

Asbestos Warning

Jan 23, 2018

Warnings have been given by the Colombian Comptroller General – an  independent government institution that oversees fiscal matters – of the urgent need to ensure that the country’s 7th attempt to ban asbestos succeeds in order protect the population from deadly exposures. Draft legislation approved in October by the Senate requires follow-up by the legislature in order to become law. The government’s failure to address the asbestos health hazard has not only affected workers but also endangered the health of people living near asbestos processing or mining sites. See: La Contraloría pide prohibir todo tipo de asbesto en el país [The Comptroller's Office asks to prohibit all types of asbestos in the country].
 

Decontamination of Army Base

Jan 23, 2018

Nicos Anastasiou, mayor of the Limassol suburb of Polemidia where asbestos-riddled former British army housing has been a long-standing public health hazard, has welcomed the commencement of work on January 22, 2018 to decontaminate the site and demolish the buildings. The work is expected to take up to a year due to the complexity of the task and the number of premises involved. Once removed, the asbestos waste will be wrapped, packed and sealed before being deposited at the former asbestos mine at Amiantos where it will be stored. See: Demolition of asbestos-riddled estate underway.
 

Online Asbestos Archive

Jan 22, 2018

ToxicDocs, a free, searchable and updated online US database, is making publicly available “millions of pages of previously secret documents about toxic substances ... [including] secret internal memoranda, emails, slides, board minutes, unpublished scientific studies, and expert witness reports – among other kinds of documents – that emerged in recent toxic tort litigation.” Subjects covered include silica, PCBs and lead, as well as asbestos and other dangerous substances. See: Free online access to millions of documents on chemical toxicity made possible through ToxicDocs.
 

Analysis: Supreme Court Verdict

Jan 22, 2018

A new commentary explores whether the Brazilian Supreme Court’s reliance on international human rights law and international environmental law in its decision to outlaw asbestos use throughout the country has created a new pattern of integration between international and constitutional law for future cases focused on collective fundamental rights. One of the main arguments of the November 29, 2017 plenary decision handed down by the Court in litigation regarding the constitutionality of state asbestos bans was ILO Convention No. 162. See: The Judicial Ban on Asbestos in Brazil: A Turning Point in the Relationship between International Law and Collective Fundamental Rights?
 

HSE U-Turn

Jan 22, 2018

After feedback from unions and other stakeholders during consultations on changes to the Control of Asbestos Regulations, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has abandoned plans to reduce the period between medical examinations for asbestos workers. Commenting on the HSE u-turn, Garry Graham, deputy general secretary of Prospect Union, said: “Asbestos is a silent killer of thousands of workers every year. Frequent medical checks for those engaged in the dangerous removal of asbestos from old buildings is vital to pick up any symptoms as early as possible. We welcome the HSE seeing sense on this issue.” See: Plans to water down medical checks on asbestos workers abandoned - Prospect Union.
 

Asbestos: Mixed Messages

Jan 22, 2018

On January 18, 2018, a commentary on the health hazards of asbestos exposure appeared on an online Ukraine news portal. Ukraine’s Ministry of Health banned asbestos in June 2017; this decision was reversed by the Ministry of Justice in October 2017 (see: Ukraine’s Asbestos Debacle). Having detailed the tradespeople most at-risk of exposures, the author reasserts the asbestos industry mantra: “it is quite safe to be surrounded by asbestos materials as long as they are isolated and do not spread their particles into the air.” See: Асбестоз: причины и симптомы, лечение и профилактика асбестоза [Asbestosis: Causes and Symptoms, Treatment and Prevention of Asbestosis].
 

Asbestos Ban 2023

Jan 19, 2018

At the January 16, 2018 meeting of the Ministry of Construction, the Vietnam Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc announced – in a speech broadcast on national TV – that the use of asbestos construction materials would be banned by 2023 at the latest. He said: “The Construction Ministry needs a roadmap to stop using white asbestos. I remember that at National Assembly meetings, scientist Ms Bui Thi An raised this matter several times and the Ministry of Construction always obstructed it. I discussed this with Minister Mr. Hong Ha and he said that banning white asbestos needs a roadmap developed by the Ministry of Construction. The use of white asbestos must be stopped by 2023 at the latest in the construction industry.”
 

Victims’ Mobilize in Quebec

Jan 19, 2018

This month, it has been reported that the Quebec Asbestos Victims’ Association (AVAQ) has been re-launched with Giles Mercier, a former Quebec Government safety inspector, as President. Before he retired, Mr. Mercier had worked for the Provincial Occupational Health and Safety Commission. Speaking of his motivation for accepting this role, Mr. Mercier said: “if I had not been directly involved in occupational health and safety, my father would NEVER have been diagnosed as a victim of asbestos in April 2013.” AVAQ had lain dormant for some years after its personnel had received threats because of their work to raise awareness of the asbestos hazard. See: Quebec Asbestos Victims Association re-launched.
 

Asbestos Issues in Germany

Jan 19, 2018

A paper has been published as part of the Special Issue Global Panorama of National Experiences in Public Health Actions to Ban Asbestos, detailing the effects of German asbestos use throughout the 20th century and highlighting the role played by asbestos vested interests in preventing action to restrict consumption and forestalling compensation being awarded to victims. The author warns asbestos consuming countries of the huge national cost of treatment and compensation to the injured and decontamination of the infrastructure. See: Asbestos-Related Disorders in Germany: Background, Politics, Incidence, Diagnostics and Compensation.
 

Illegal Gas Mask Hazard

Jan 19, 2018

Finnish authorities have reported illegal online sales of old Russian gas masks containing asbestos filters; other European authorities have been notified. The Norwegian Environment Directorate found the masks were also on sale in Norway. One company was asked to remove the advertising for these items but it reappeared this month, the directorate said. An alert has been raised, with warnings given that these toxic masks should not be sold or used because of the health hazard. Advice given is that they should be disposed securely packaged at municipal waste centers. See: Finland finds Russian gas masks containing asbestos sold online.
 

Asbestos Baby Powder

Jan 18, 2018

Proceedings will start next week (January 22) in a US case brought by mesothelioma victim Stephen Lanzo III against Johnson & Johnson (J&J) which, he alleges, is responsible for exposing him to asbestos contained in its talcum powder. Lanzo’s lawyers will rely on internal company memos, reports and legal transcripts that detail the company’s long-standing knowledge regarding the presence of asbestos in their products. Over decades, J & J actively lobbied federal agencies to forestall measures that could impact on sales despite knowing that “occasionally sub-trace quantities” of minerals were found in its baby powder that “might be classified as asbestos fiber.” See: Baby powder battles: Johnson & Johnson documents reflect internal asbestos concerns.
 

Asbestos in School

Jan 18, 2018

A temporary structure built of asbestos and plywood in 1970 is still being used by students at the Schornville Primary School in South Africa’s Eastern Cape. Use of this deteriorating and toxic building poses multiple hazards to children and staff despite years of lobbying local authorities and government officials. A commentary just published describes a Kafkaesque situation where the buck is passed back and forth between government departments and implementing agencies such as the Development Bank of Southern Africa. Despite many promises of action, including the construction of a new school, nothing has changed, except that the school has become even more dilapidated. See: Meet the Eastern Cape schools the province desperately tries to forget.
 

Asbestos in Schools

Jan 17, 2018

Today (January 17), a Welsh Cross Party Group on Asbestos meeting will take place to consider the issue of asbestos in Welsh schools and public buildings. A fortnight ago, members of the Welsh Petitions Committee agreed to progress a petition (see: Asbestos in Schools Petition) calling for investigations by the National Assembly regarding the hazard posed by asbestos in Welsh schools and the right of parents to “easily access information about the presence and management of asbestos in all school buildings.” See: Welsh Petitions Committee meeting, January 9, 2018 (paragraphs 21-27).
 

National Asbestos Failings

Jan 17, 2018

Following an audit by the Colombian authorities, a report has been published condemning the lack of controls on the use of asbestos and mercury. After a visit to the country’s sole legal asbestos mine, which produces 2,400 tons of asbestos per year, the Comptroller for the Environment reported criminal failures to comply with national mining and environmental standards: there was “evident inadequate profiling and maintenance of slopes in waste dumps and tails, non-existent ditches, no runoff water management, no sedimentation or sand traps…” See: Colombia no tiene control sobre uso de mercurio y asbesto, según Contraloría [Colombia has no control over the use of mercury and asbestos, according to the Comptroller].
 

Asbestos in Western Australia

Jan 16, 2018

WorkSafe WA, a state agency responsible for occupational health and safety in Western Australia (WA), has launched a phased asbestos inspection program targeting factories and imports to identify toxic products, after asbestos was recently found in the friction plates of rail carriages imported from China. As a result of this discovery, the initial focus of the program will be on asbestos in the WA rail network. According to WorkSafe: “These proactive inspection programs aim to provide employers with information on how to comply with workplace safety laws and help them to identify risks to the safety and health of workers.” See: WorkSafe inspection program looks at asbestos in plant.
 

Asbestos Propaganda!

Jan 15, 2018

The headline of an article uploaded to the Sri Lanka Sunday Times website on January 14 says it all: “Asbestos isn’t always harmful to health,” it asserts; what follows is tiresomely predictable. Comments by the author – Prof. Ravindra Fernando (see: Chrysotile Asbestos Should Not be Banned) – have previously been used to substantiate industry’s attacks on the Sri Lankan Government’s plans to phase-out asbestos use. Citing outdated and discredited sources, Fernando asserts that: “chrysotile asbestos in its modern day high-density applications does not present risks of any significance to public or workers’ health.” See: Asbestos isn’t always harmful to health.
 

Calls for Victims’ Fund

Jan 15, 2018

In a statement issued on January 14, 2018, the Unión General de Trabajadores (UGT), a major Spanish trade union, demanded that a Compensation Fund for Asbestos Victims be created as promised by Spain’s Congress of Deputies in October 2017. Between 2000 and 2016, 5,830 people died from asbestos-related diseases in Spain. According to the UGT, only 34 occupational diseases caused by asbestos have been recognized of the 21,188 registered during 2017. See: Ugt exige crear un fondo de compensación para las víctimas del Amianto [Ugt demands creation of a compensation fund for asbestos victims].
 

Victory for Victims!

Jan 15, 2018

France’s Supreme Court – The Court of Cassation – has overturned a December 2016 decision by the Amiens Court of Appeal that denied compensation for asbestos anxiety experienced by 400 former workers from the Bosch brake pads plant in Beauvais. The Supreme Court’s December 20, 2017 judgment referred the case back to the Douai Court of Appeal which was instructed to award compensation to the claimants; it is expected each one will receive around €8,000. See: Amiante: la Cour de cassation donne raison aux ex-salariés de Bosch à Beauvais [Asbestos: the Court of Cassation supports former employees of Bosch in Beauvais].
 

Still Looking for Asbestos Investor

Jan 12, 2018

Zimbabwe’s Mines and Mining Development Minister Winston Chitando told Parliament during a Question and Answer session on January 10, 2018 that contrary to reports circulating in the media, the government has not yet secured an investor willing to finance work to rejuvenate the derelict Shabanie chrysotile (white) asbestos mine. “The mine,” he explained “falls under the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC) so government is working together with the administrator and ZMDC on plans to ensure that some of the operations get back to generating employment and revenue for the country.” See: 50 workers to re-process Shabanie-Mashava dumps.
 

Action on Asbestos

Jan 12, 2018

On January 11, 2018, French students joined their teachers in taking action to prevent further hazardous exposures and called for independent tests to be conducted to assess the hazard posed by the presence of asbestos products in their school. On November 25, 2017 asbestos contamination was discovered in one of the school’s computer rooms “after an incident.” The regional authorities had previously denied the presence of asbestos in this 1970s building and later admitted it was there but said it posed no hazard to school users. See: Amiante: des lycéens du Val-de-Marne veulent exercer leur droit de retrait [Asbestos: high school students in Val-de-Marne want to exercise their right of withdrawal].
 

Asbestos Mine to Reopen?

Jan 11, 2018

It is being reported that the post-Mugabe government in Zimbabwe has found an investor willing to revitalize the mothballed Shabanie chrysotile asbestos mine in the Midlands province. Member of Parliament John Holder confirmed this week that the new investor is seeking to revive asbestos operations saying that: “The mine has started renewing contracts for employees and electricity was switched on recently.” Former reports had intimated that the truly enormous sums needed to bring the mine back into operation after more than a decade of closure would almost certainly prevent its reopening. See: Shabanie Mine set to reopen.
 

Lung Cancer and Asbestos

Jan 11, 2018

A lump sum of €700,000 and a monthly pension of €1,600 has been awarded by a court in Taranto, Italy to the heirs of a non-commissioned naval officer who died in 2008 from lung cancer due to maritime exposure to asbestos on board military vessels. Recognizing the causal link between the lung cancer and the deceased’s occupational asbestos exposure, the court declared that the officer had been a “victim of duty.” See: Taranto: Sottufficiale di Marina morto per amianto, 700mila euro di risarcimento agli eredi [Taranto: non-commissioned officer from Marina died of asbestos, 700 thousand euros compensation to heirs].
 

Asbestos Denials

Jan 10, 2018

As the fall-out from the Russian embargo on imports of Sri Lanka tea intensifies (see: ITUC Media Release), Russia’s Ambassador to Sri Lanka continues to deny that exposure to Russian chrysotile (white) asbestos constitutes a hazard to human health, telling journalists that “Russian Chrysotile… is not harmful. Russian workers working in the industry for the last thirty years are fine, no one reported to have had cancer…There are many workers who handle chrysotile in the mines with bare hands, and they are fine.” See: Russian Federation wants bigger trade with Sri Lanka; talks on Tea, asbestos.
 

Asbestos Decontamination Program

Jan 10, 2018

In order to achieve the goal of making Poland free of asbestos by the end of 2032, proactive efforts are being made to encourage property owners to remove toxic products from buildings. Since 2013, the Rypin Town Hall has been providing financial support to local residents for asbestos decontamination; as a result 13,355 tonnes of asbestos have been disposed of. Applications are now being processed under the 2018 budget stream; 100% of costs incurred for this work will be covered by the Voivodship Fund for Environmental Protection and Water Management and the municipality. See: Pozbądź się azbestu [Getting rid of asbestos].
 

Ban Asbestos, Say Trade Unionists

Jan 9, 2018

Representatives of the National Trade Union Federation (NTUF) and other organizations are calling for a ban on asbestos to protect the public as well as workers from deadly exposures to a substance found in a wide range of products commonly used in Pakistan. These demands were voiced at a seminar entitled “Asbestos a dangerous mineral,” held on January 7, 2018 at the NTUF’s Karachi headquarters. Speakers informed delegates that evidence proved that toxic exposures took place outside as well as inside asbestos-using workplaces; there were, they said, no government measures to protect citizens from asbestos and no schemes to pay compensation to the injured. See: Traders demand ban on asbestos.
 

Banning Asbestos 2018!

Jan 9, 2018

Public consultation is ongoing regarding draft regulations to prohibit the Canadian use, sale, import and export of asbestos and asbestos-containing products, as well as the manufacture of products containing asbestos, with legislation enacting the prohibitions expected later this year. Queries over specifics of the proposals have been voiced in a media release issued on January 8 by legal experts and trade unions representatives (see: Canada’s proposed asbestos ban – an important momentum builder for public health protection). In 2011, there were more than 2,300 cases of mesothelioma and asbestos-related of lung cancer in Canada. See: Canada moves forward with asbestos ban.
 

Failing Asbestos Protocols

Jan 9, 2018

The Turkish Chamber for Engineers and Architects released a report on asbestos yesterday (January 8, 2018), highlighting the toxic exposures caused by decades of irresponsible demolition and construction activity in the absence of legislation and government negligence. Despite a national asbestos ban, measures to deal with in-place asbestos and the removal and disposal of toxic products are lacking in most jurisdictions. See: Asbest Raporu yayınlandı: İstanbul kanser tehlikesi ile karşı karşıya, önlem alan yok [Asbestos Report published: Istanbul faces cancer risk, no preventive measures].
 

Ban Asbestos Consultation

Jan 8, 2017

In a news release issued on January 5, 2018, the Canadian Government announced the publication of the Prohibition of Asbestos and Asbestos Products Regulations under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999, as well as related amendments to the Export of Substances on the Export Control List Regulations; these legislative measures are intended “to ensure there is no longer a market for asbestos and related products in Canada.” A deadline of March 22, 2018 for the submission of comments has been set. See: The Government of Canada proposes new regulations to protect Canadians from exposure to asbestos.
 

Asbestos Alert: Thermos Shock

Jan 8, 2018

Yet more products imported from China to the EU have been found to be contaminated with asbestos according to information supplied by the Italian Ministry of Health which has notified EU authorities. “Termos Porta Pranzo” thermos flasks with a capacity of 0.35 LT, model number 2170297 and bar code 8-029121702978 were found to have asbestos within the double glass casing of the thermos flasks. Diverse reports claim that the toxic fibers were tremolite or chrysotile asbestos. See: Thermos con amianto shock: immediato il ritiro. L’allerta lanciata dal Ministero della salute [Thermos with asbestos shock: immediate withdrawal. Alert launched by the Ministry of Health].
 

Latin America Update

Jan 8, 2018

The article referenced below details the existence of asbestos bans and regulations to minimize hazardous exposures in Latin America. Work is progressing on legislation to prohibit asbestos use in Colombia and Ecuador. National restrictions to prevent asbestos contamination are in place in Paraguay, Venezuela, Mexico and Bolivia and Panama. The Pan American Health Organization is creating an Asbestos Atlas to collect information on regional asbestos use and regulation. See: Latinoamérica rezagada en la lucha contra el asbesto con solo seis países que lo vetan [Latin America lags behind in the fight against asbestos with only six national asbestos bans].
 

Basque Claimants’ Ruling

Jan 8, 2018

Osakidetza, the institution in charge of the public healthcare system in the autonomous community of the Basque Country, has recognized two cases of mesothelioma as occupationally-caused by asbestos exposures, thereby increasing benefit payments to and paving the way for compensation claims by a 68-year old former boilermaker and a 57-year old former shipyard worker. According to a union spokesman, Osakidetza had failed to conduct occupational health surveillance as required by legislation when notified of the workers’ conditions. See: La Seguridad Social reconoce que el amianto causó el cáncer de dos trabajadores [Social Security recognizes that asbestos caused the cancer of two workers].
 

Asbestos Diplomacy?

Jan 2, 2018

A commentary by columnist Ravi Perera published on January 1, 2018 by Sri Lanka’s Daily News castigates the Russian authorities for “humiliating” Sri Lanka in the ongoing trade war which has seen a tea embargo implemented in retaliation for a Sri Lankan ban on asbestos imports. Admitting that “Russia is the land of towering figures like Lenin, Tolstoy and Solzhenitsyn; men who needed no lessons on social justice,” and that Russia had been “a friend” to Sri Lanka, the author decries the ultimatum issued by Putin’s Russia “to buy their asbestos, or else!” See: Tea vs. Asbestos.
 

Asbestos Alert: Product Recall?

Jan 2, 2018

Despite reports that a laboratory had found tremolite asbestos in multiple products sold by Claire’s Accessories for use by children in the US and action taken by Canadian authorities over the contamination, the company selling these products in the UK – Claire’s Accessories Europe – has not confirmed that a product recall has been issued. Messages on twitter and facebook are uninformative: “The initial results of testing by an independent certified laboratory show that the cosmetics tested to date are asbestos free…We will continue to honor returns for any customers remaining uncomfortable.” See: Claire’s Europe Facebook Page.
 

Mesothelioma Causation

Jan 2, 2018

A letter by Dr. Murray Finkelstein published on December 29, 2017 in Occupational and Environmental Medicine commented on research by Marsh et al confirming that non-occupational exposures to asbestos fibres were associated with a large increased risk of pleural mesothelioma. At dispute was the original authors’ finding that there was “a fibre-type potency difference for non-occupational exposures.” Having re-analyzed the data, Finkelstein found “no evidence of potency differences between chrysotile and the amphiboles for the causation of pleural mesothelioma.” See: Reanalysis of non-occupational exposure to asbestos and the risk of pleural mesothelioma.
 

Bahia Bans Asbestos!

Dec 29, 2017

An amendment which would have permitted the use of asbestos in the Brazilian State of Bahia for up to ten years despite a 2017 Supreme Court declaration that asbestos use was unconstitutional was vetoed on December 28, 2017 by Governor Governor Rui Costa, making Bahia the 12th State to outlaw asbestos. Although the Bahia legislature had succumbed to pressure from Dow Chemical Brazil to allow asbestos use in the electrolysis process, the Governor acted in accordance with the law and advice received from public agencies. See: Emenda que permitia uso do amianto até 2016 na Bahia é vetada por governador [Amendment permitting the use of asbestos from 2016 in Bahia is vetoed by governor].
 

India Going Green?

Dec 29, 2017

Last week HIL Ltd., a subsidiary of one of India’s leading building material conglomerates, announced that production of non-asbestos roofing sheets had commenced at the Kondapalli Plant in Andhra Pradesh on December 21, 2017. The “Green Roofing Solution,” is being marketed under the brand “Charminar Fortune”. Although it’s too early to say whether the use of asbestos-free technology will become the norm, data quoted in a Times of India business article may indicate a fall of asbestos consumption in India – from 396,470 tonnes in 2014 to 355,660 and 310,570 tonnes in 2015 and 2016, respectively. See: HIL commences commercial production of Non Asbestos Roofing Sheets.
 

Asbestos–Beef War

Dec 29, 2017

A Russian journalist has speculated that the motivation for an ongoing Russian embargo on Brazilian meat imports was the Brazilian Supreme Court’s decision declaring asbestos use unconstitutional and not the presence of a banned substance in a Brazilian pork shipment. As in the Sri Lanka tea embargo (see Asbestos Endgame: 2017?) where the presence of Khapra beetle in a consignment of tea was used as the excuse for the trade ban, in this case the discovery of ractopamine – a feed additive prohibited under Russia–Brazil import agreements – was given as the reason for the Russian decision. See: Россия ввела эмбарго на поставки мяса из Бразилии [Russia imposes embargo on meat from Brazil].
 

Award for Ban Asbestos Campaigner

Dec 23, 2017

At a Seoul meeting attended by representatives of 20+ environmental NGOs and academia on December 21, the winner of the prestigious Rachel Lee Jung-Lim Award was announced as Brazilian engineer and ban asbestos campaigner Fernanda Giannasi. The event was hosted by the Environmental Health Citizens Center and sponsored by the Environmental Foundation and the Korean Federation for the Environmental Movement. The citation on the plaque for Ms. Giannasi noted her sustained efforts on behalf of asbestos victims in the face of threats and intimidation. Rachel Lee Jung-Lim was a ban asbestos campaigner who died of mesothelioma in 2011. See: 환경보건시민센터 보도자료 [Environmental Health Citizen Center Press Release].
 

Asbestos in Makeup

Dec 23, 2017

Investigations commissioned by a concerned parent verified the presence of asbestos in samples taken from 17 makeup products distributed in nine US states by Claire’s Stores Inc. “one of the world’s leading specialty retailers of fashionable jewelry and accessories for young women, teens, tweens and kids.” The analyst who conducted the testing was “shocked,” by finding tremolite asbestos in each product tested. On Friday, December 22, the company announced that as a “precautionary measure,” the items will be pulled off the shelves and an “immediate investigation into the alleged issues” will be conducted. See: Consumer Advocate: Claire's pulls children's makeup after family finds asbestos.
 

Post-Ban Asbestos Mobilization

Dec 22, 2017

Yesterday (December 21, 2017) the Center for Public Health and Environmental Department highlighted the importance of efforts to enforce Nepal’s asbestos ban at a meeting in Kathmandu held in conjunction with the Department of Environment and the Department of Customs which was supported by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Ban Asbestos Secretariat. Presentations addressed a variety of issues including Nepal’s asbestos profile, asbestos sampling and testing, asbestos-related diseases and treatments and WHO initiatives. Recommendations addressed the need for: coordinated market surveillance, measures to minimize hazardous exposures and asbestos awareness capacity building.
 

Russian Asbestos Initiative

Dec 22, 2017

The winners of a competition by Russia’s Chrysotile [Asbestos] Association to encourage engagement by architectural students with asbestos were announced at the Ural Federal University, Yekaterinburg. While the first such contest of its kind was restricted to entries from Russia, plans are being made to allow the participation of students from asbestos using countries such as Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Belarus, Turkmenistan and Ukraine “to demonstrate clearly the possibility of using the unique qualities of chrysotile asbestos in construction.” See: Россия выбрала лучший архитектурный проект из хризотила [Russia chose the best chrysotile [asbestos] architectural project].
 

Update: Sri Lanka Asbestos Ban

Dec 22, 2017

After last week’s declaration by Russia of an embargo on Sri Lanka tea, the country has deferred asbestos restrictions until further notice (see: IBAS Blog – Asbestos Endgame: 2017!) On December 21, the headline of a Sri Lanka newspaper reinforced the vital importance of this issue to the national economy: “SL awaiting Russian Govt. response;” 11% of all the country’s tea exports go to Russia. Commenting on the current situation Minister Dissanayaka said: “I am confident that we could convince the Russians [of] the correct position of this controversy and restore tea exports to Russia as early as mid January.” See: SL awaiting Russian Govt. response.
 

Bahia vs. Supreme Court

Dec 19, 2017

In an astonishing defiance of a definitive November 2017 ruling by Brazil’s Supreme Court, the legislative assembly of Bahia State on December 5, 2017 approved an amendment allowing the chlor-alkali industry in Bahia, in particular Dow Química Brasil, to continue using asbestos in diaphragms for the electrolysis of brine and the production of chlorine until 2026. The Court had ruled that the use of asbestos was illegal throughout all jurisdictions in Brazil. This amendment has already been named the “Dow Amendment,” as Dow is the only Brazilian company still using asbestos diaphragms. See: Nota Oficial: A Bahia na contramão do banimento do Amianto [Official Note: Bahia against asbestos ban].
 

Claimants’ Verdict!

Dec 19, 2017

The Court of Madrid has ruled that the Uralita company, formerly one of Spain’s biggest asbestos-cement manufacturers, must pay €2+ million compensation to 39 local people who became ill due to inhalation of asbestos fibers emitted by the company’s Cedanyola factory. This decision sets a new Spanish precedent by accepting that an asbestos company was negligent in not preventing environmental exposures to non-employees. See: Primera condena a Uralita por la exposición al amianto de vecinos de su fábrica de Cerdanyola [First condemnation of Uralita for asbestos exposures to members of the public living near its Cerdanyola factory].
 

Raising Asbestos Awareness

Dec 18, 2017

On December 18, 2017, Fiji’s first asbestos symposium took place; reinforcing the high-profile nature of this event was the attendance of Jone Usamate, Fiji's Minister for Employment, Productivity and Industrial Relations, Dr Luisa Cikamatana, from Fiji’s Ministry of Health, and Agni Deo Singh, the General Secretary of the Fiji Teachers’ Union. Professor Ken Takahashi, Director of Australia’s Asbestos Disease Research Institute, told participants that it was crucial to establish how much asbestos was being imported into the country and where asbestos-containing products had been installed to protect the population from deadly exposures. See: Symposium discusses asbestos handling.
 

Asbestos Trade War?

Dec 17, 2017

In what is being described by unnamed ministerial sources as a “tit-for-tat” diplomatic offensive against the impending phase-out of the use of chrysotile asbestos in Sri Lanka, most of which is imported from Russia, an embargo on Russian imports of Sri Lankan tea has been declared; the announcement of the December 18 blockade on Ceylon tea has shocked diplomats and exporters alike. Hoping to end the trade dispute, three Sri Lankan Ministers will visit Russia this week to discuss the asbestos issue. See: Russia suspends tea imports from Lanka; three ministers to fly to Moscow for urgent talks.
 

Ban Asbestos Mobilization

Dec 17, 2017

On December 15, 2017, the Asian Ban Asbestos Network in collaboration with Australia’s Union Aid Abroad (APHEDA) launched an initiative to gather support for an open letter warning Asian governments and policy makers about the deadly effects of asbestos exposure in the face of a ruthless marketing campaign by asbestos lobbyists spreading disinformation and commercial propaganda to counter the continuing growth in ban asbestos support. Leading international experts are calling on scientists, researchers, doctors, asbestos victims and campaigners to sign this letter. See: Asbestos: Open letter to Governments and other policy makers in Asia.
 

The Price of Asbestos Use

Dec 17, 2017

An article in the Jakarta Post which appeared on December 14, 2017 documented the first case of an individual with an asbestos-related disease to be compensated in Indonesia. Forty-four year old father of three Sriyono, who contracted asbestosis after decades of workplace exposures, received $4,200 from the government; 15 similar cases are pending. A video uploaded to YouTube in conjunction with the newspaper article shows Sriyono speaking about his symptoms and the distress of his diagnosis. Indonesia is one of the world’s top consumers of asbestos. See: Indonesia's asbestos ‘time bomb’.
 

Asbestos Litigation: Update

Dec 17, 2017

A ruling handed down on December 14, 2017 by Italy’s Court of Cassation (Supreme Court) reduced charges faced by Swiss asbestos billionaire Stephen Schmidheiny from murder to manslaughter. Four legal processes are ongoing against Schmidheiny over 240+ asbestos-related deaths of employees and members of the public. On December 19, 2017 a preliminary hearing will take place in Turin; on February 13, 2018 proceedings will begin in Naples; the dates for trials to commence in Vercelli and Reggio Emilia are not yet known. See: Eternit, in Tribunale i 243 casi di Casale [Eternit, in the Court 243 cases from Casale].
 

Victim’s Verdict

Dec 17, 2017

A lawsuit begun in 2013 was recently decided in favour of a former worker from the company Aperam South America – Brazil’s biggest manufacturer of speciality steel – who developed asbestosis in 2012 after having been occupationally exposed to asbestos during more than a quarter of a century employment as a metal turner. The claimant was awarded R$80,000 (US$24,300+) compensation plus a monthly pension despite the company’s repeated denials of negligent behaviour. See: Justiça condena Aperam a pagar indenização e pensão a ex-funcionário contaminado por Amianto [Justice condemns Aperam to pay compensation and pension to former employee contaminated by asbestos].
 

Precedent: Asbestos Anxiety

Dec 10, 2017

The first lawsuit has been filed in Spain over anxiety caused by toxic exposures of five claimants who were exposed to asbestos at their Barcelona workplace. They are calling for the classification from the State of their anxiety and depression as an occupational disease and asking for compensation for hazardous conditions which would not have occurred “if the defendant company had fulfilled its obligations in relation to prevention and safety at work.” See: Primera demanda presentada en España para considerar la ansiedad enfermedad professional [First lawsuit filed in Spain to consider occupational disease anxiety (caused by asbestos)].
 

Assessing the Asbestos Cancer Risk

Dec 10, 2017

A paper appearing in the January issue of the International Journal of Hygiene and Environmental Health highlights the importance of early diagnoses of the asbestos cancer mesothelioma, which enables patients to access trials of novel treatment therapies. The authors described a method of calculating past asbestos exposures in order to assess individuals’ levels of risk of contracting mesothelioma. A strong correlation between measured and estimated asbestos exposure has been shown. See: Estimating past inhalation exposure to asbestos: A tool for risk attribution and disease screening.
 

Ban Asbestos in Colombia!

Dec 9, 2017

On December 7, 2017, a one-minute video was uploaded to YouTube by Greenpeace Colombia, one of the organizations calling on politicians to support legislative efforts to ban asbestos in the country. The footage shows Greenpeace volunteers in the Plaza de Bolivar – the main square in the Colombian capital Bogotá – with a clock demanding that Senators vote for the “Ana Cecilia Niño ban asbestos bill” in the second legislative debate before the end of the year. Colombian journalist and ban asbestos campaigner Ana Cecilia Niño died from the asbestos cancer mesothelioma in 2014. See: Senadores: ¡Ya es hora! [Senators: It's time!].
 

Asbestos Alert

Dec 9, 2017

On December 7, 2017, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) issued an alert (Reference EFA/2017/006) over the continuing use of asbestos-containing pipe gaskets (CNA 2000) put into circulation by a British engineering company between 2006 and 2010. The contaminated products were manufactured by G&H Engineering Services with material imported from China that had been sold as asbestos-free. According to a letter by the HSE dated October 30, 2017 efforts in 2011 to alert customers “may not have been fully circulated further down the supply chain.” See: Supply of CAN 2000 pipeline gaskets: presence of asbestos.
 

Another Legal Victory

Dec 9, 2017

This week the Superior Court of Justice of Murcia dismissed an appeal by public companies Navantia and Izar Construcciones Navales against the judgment of a Cartagena court that imposed a 30% uplift on the benefits of a widow whose husband died from asbestos workplace exposures in the shipbuilding sector. The deceased – who had worked for the public naval shipyards Empresa Nacional Bazán from 1967 until 1992 – suffered from a lung adenocarcinoma, respiratory failure and pulmonary asbestosis. See: Confirman una condena por permitir el uso de Amianto [Confirming conviction for allowing the use of asbestos].
 

The Demise of the Asbestos Lobby

Dec 8, 2017

The International Chrysotile Association (ICA), founded in 1976 by asbestos vested interests, is a shadow of its former self. Although the ICA is still registered in Quebec as a non-profit organisation and is still funded by asbestos mining and manufacturing corporations “it is increasingly isolated and discredited…” Nowadays, the ICA has directors from just seven countries: Russia, Kazakhstan, Brazil, Zimbabwe, Mexico, India and USA; since asbestos was banned in Brazil on November 29, 2017, it is likely that number will be reduced to six. See: International asbestos lobby organisation shrinking and doomed.
 

Oesophageal Cancer and Asbestos

Dec 8, 2017

The Superior Court of Justice of Catalonia (TSJC) has recognized that the death of a former Uralita worker from oesophageal cancer was caused by asbestos exposures experienced during 20 years of employment at the company’s Rocalla de Castelldefels asbestos-cement factory in Barcelona. Despite the fact that oesophageal cancer was not included on the list of diseases caused by asbestos, the Court decided that the evidence regarding the causation of this disease was categorical. See: El TSJC avala que trabajar con amianto puede provocar cáncer de esófago [The TSJC recognizes that working with asbestos can cause esophageal cancer].
 

Asbestos Scandal: Latest

Dec 8, 2017

The scandal over the sale of asbestos-contaminated shot-blasting material by the Eurogrit subsidiary of Sibelco landed them in a Dutch court which ruled on December 6, 2017 they were liable for damages; the lawsuit was initiated by the Muehlan Company which was awarded interim damages of €49,000 (they had asked for €2.4m). When Muehlan was informed by Eurogrit of the asbestos contamination on October 5, work immediately stopped at 9 locations including an oil rig, bunker vessels and silos. Muehlan says it has incurred a loss of millions of euros. See: Eurogrit aansprakelijk voor schade in asbestschandaal [Eurogrit liable for damages in asbestos scandal].
 

The Polluter Pays

Dec 8, 2017

Brazil’s Public Prosecutor's Office (MPT) is pioneering programs to monitor workers’ health and diagnose asbestos-related diseases using funds from judicial awards to pay for medical examinations, diagnostic equipment and follow-up programs; asbestos lawsuits have been filed by the MPT in Rio de Janeiro, Bahia, São Paulo and Paraná. There are, in addition, four main public civil actions against Eternit, formerly Brazil’s largest asbestos conglomerate. See: MPT quer reparação dos danos causados pelo amianto no país [MPT wants to repair the damage caused by asbestos in the country].
 

Environmental Asbestos Hazard

Dec 7, 2017

Academic researchers have announced findings of tests undertaken using samples of amphibole asbestos fibers collected in Arizona and Montana which document the toxic effects on mice of low level environmental exposures to asbestos. During a presentation last month made at Boulder City Library, Jean Pfau of Montana State University said: “Low exposure caused health effects in mice, suggesting that we cannot dismiss low environmental exposures…We can no longer say there is no health risk.” While the fibers from Arizona seemed to be more toxic, exposures to all the samples led to increased frequency of autoantibodies and inflammation. See: Scientists warn of asbestos risks.
 

Making a Difference!

Dec 7, 2017

At the annual Christmas picnic of the Asbestos Diseases Society of Australia (ADSA) on December 3, 2017, a check for $85,000 was presented to Professor Anna Nowak from the National Centre for Asbestos Related Diseases (NCARD). The donation was the result of fund-raising efforts during the ADSA’s five-day walk in September 2017 from Merredin to Perth via Bruce Rock, Quairading, Beverley, York and Northam to raise asbestos awareness and support for life-saving research. The money will be used by NCARD for the ADSA PhD Scholarship in Mesothelioma. See: Press release of Asbestos Diseases Society of Australia.
 

Victim’s Verdict

Dec 6, 2017

The Court of Appeals of Santiago, Chile has confirmed a verdict which ordered the asbestos company Pizarreño S.A. to pay compensation of $80 million (pesos) (US$122,550+) to the children of Manuela del Carmen Marín Cabello, who died on July 18, 2012 as a result of environmental and domestic exposure to asbestos dust brought home on her husband’s work clothes. The court heard evidence documenting the company’s extensive knowledge regarding the deadly hazard of asbestos exposure. See: Pizarreño deberá pagar $80 millones a hijos de mujer que murió de asbestosis [Pizarreño must pay $80 million to children of a woman who died of asbestosis].
 

The End!

Dec 6, 2017

In a press release issued by Eternit S.A., Brazil’s biggest asbestos conglomerate, on December 5, 2017 the company informed its shareholders and the financial markets that it had suspended mining at Brazil’s only chrysotile asbestos mine, which was operated by the Eternit subsidiary SAMA, following the Supreme Court verdict of November 29 declaring the mining, processing, use, sale and export of asbestos and asbestos-containing products unconstitutional throughout the country. Also suspended were the activities of the Eternit subsidiary Precon Goiás, which was a manufacturer of asbestos cement tiles. See: Eternit S.A. Press release.
 

Asbestos in Schools

Dec 4, 2017

The Joint Union Asbestos Committee (JUAC) has issued new guidance reminding schools of the precautions needed to prevent hazardous exposures caused by pinning up Christmas decorations and exhibits in the majority of schools which still contain asbestos products. According to the Department for Education, pressing staples or pins into asbestos-containing walls or ceilings can release harmful fibers into the air. JUAC has recommended that this alert be incorporated as part of schools’ mandatory asbestos management plans in order to give staff “timely reminders.” See: Schools told not to pin up Christmas decorations in union asbestos guidance.
 

Port Authority Negligent

Dec 4, 2017

Announcements have been made regarding substantial compensation payments awarded by courts to family members of two men who died of mesothelioma due to occupational asbestos exposures experienced whilst employed by the Trieste Port Authority; the Simoni family was awarded €700,000 for the 2013 death of 64-year old Luigi Simioni who had worked at the port loading and unloading asbestos cargo from 1973 onwards; the relatives of port worker Gina Grube received €645,000. See: Amianto:700 mila euro alla famiglia dell'ex dipendente dall'Autorità portuale [Asbestos: 700 thousand euros to the family of a former employee of the Port Authority].
 

National Asbestos Profile

Dec 4, 2017

A National Asbestos Profile for Australia has been published in accordance with WHO/ILO guidelines to “provide information and define the baseline situation with regard to the elimination of asbestos-related diseases.” The 49-page document highlights the need for further research into the extent of asbestos contamination of housing stock and the cost and social implications of caring for Australians with asbestos-related diseases. The collection of additional information on these subjects will inform government decisions and enable the implementation of effective measures to prevent future exposures to asbestos. See: National Asbestos Profile for Australia.
 

Asbestos Ban in 2019!

Dec 1, 2017

At a press conference on Monday, November 27, 2017, Svetlana Bolokan – head of Moldova’s Department for Management of Waste and Chemicals – announced that the country intends to ban the sale and import of chrysotile asbestos-containing materials and chrysotile asbestos fiber by 2019. According to the Moldova news agency Infotag, the Ministry of Agriculture, Regional Development and the Environment has already issued legislation stipulating the provisions and timing of the asbestos prohibitions. See: Шифер вреден для здоровья: в чем кроется опасность? [Asbestos-cement roofing is bad for health: what is the danger?].
 

Eternit Surrenders!

Nov 30, 2017

On November 27, Eternit – Brazil’s Asbestos Giant – announced that due to falling demand the company would phase-out chrysotile asbestos use from December 2018. Last week, a court in Rio de Janeiro gave the company 120 days to shut down production of asbestos tiles in the State of Rio de Janeiro. Currently, Eternit factories in the cities of Rio de Janeiro (RJ), Colombo (PR),Simões Filho (BA), Goiânia and Anápolis (GO) use 60% synthetic polypropylene fiber and 40% chrysotile asbestos in the manufacture of tiles. See: Eternit deixará de usar amianto em fabricação de telhas até 2018 [Eternit to stop using asbestos in tile production in 2018].
 

Asbestos Ban Still on Track

Nov 30, 2017

The fact that Canada and Ukraine had signed a free trade agreement in August 2017 which stipulated that asbestos imports from Ukraine would be allowed despite a pledge to ban asbestos use in Canada in 2018 had raised serious concerns amongst health advocates. Clarification has been obtained from the Environment & Climate Change Ministry (Canada), which is overseeing the implementation of the ban: “When the new Regulations are in place, the Government of Canada will prohibit the import of asbestos into Canada, and the export of asbestos from Canada to any country including the Ukraine.” See: Canada will prohibit the import of asbestos products from Ukraine.
 

Asbestos Documentary Award

Nov 29, 2017

On November 26, 2017, the Japanese documentary Sennan Asbestos Disaster won the FILMeX audience award at the Singapore International Film Festival. The director Kazuo Hara accepted the award in person as he was present in his capacity as the FILMeX jury chairman. In October 2017, the film had won the Citizen’s Prize at the Yamagata International Documentary Film Festival in Japan and the Mercenat Award at the Busan International Film Festival in Korea. The documentary is 215 minutes long and took 10 years of research, filming and post-production to bring to the cinema. See: Indonesia’s ‘The Seen and Unseen,’ ‘Marlina’ Share Tokyo FILMeX Grand Prize.
 

Dynamics behind a National Ban

Nov 29, 2017

An academic paper published in a special issue (Global Panorama of National Experiences in Public Health Actions to Ban Asbestos) of the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health considers the failings of multiple stakeholders responsible for the long delay in banning asbestos in New Zealand and delineates strategies which finally resulted in prohibitions being enacted. The authors highlight the importance of maintaining pressure on Governments, public access to information about the asbestos hazard and inter-country dialogue amongst victims, researchers and officials. See: Banning Asbestos in New Zealand, 1936–2016, an 80-Year Long Saga.
 

Asbestos Site Concerns

Nov 25, 2017

On November 22, 2017, the All Party Parliamentary Asbestos Sub-Group was informed of concerns about environmental asbestos exposures in the Spodden Valley in the area where the former Turner Brothers Asbestos factory had been sited. The sub-group was asked to look into actions of public and private stakeholders with responsibilities for planning, remediation and public safety relating to asbestos contaminated land. Graham Dring, Chairman of the UK Asbestos Victim Support Group Forum, told the meeting: “Standard testing and remediation techniques for complex asbestos sites may not be safe enough.” See: Spodden Valley ‘Greyfield’ asbestos discussed at Westminster.
 

Asbestos: Mixed Messages

Nov 25, 2017

An online interview on a Belarus news portal, highlights the asbestos cancer risk to people who worked with asbestos or lived in close proximity to those workers and asserts, wrongly, that the asbestos hazard to construction workers is now “almost completely eliminated” due to the known health effects of asbestos exposures. According to data from the United States Geological Survey in the years 2014, 2015 and 2016, Belarus consumed 6,212, 7,183, and 5,525 tonnes of asbestos, respectively. See: Онколог объясняет, как находят рак, что есть, чтобы не заболеть, и какие анализы сдавать 30-летним [An oncologist explains how to detect cancer, what to eat to avoid it and what tests to take to identify it to a 30-year-old].
 

Asbestos at Nuclear Processing Plant

Nov 25, 2017

Asbestos contamination was discovered in thermal insulating material for pipes at the Areva nuclear waste reprocessing plant in La Hague, northern France during routine maintenance operations in September 2017. While comments from management sources were reassuring – none of the airborne samples taken have “revealed asbestos particles in suspension” – the labor inspectorate was more cautious, warning of the risk not only to those directly exposed to the asbestos but also to others who may have inhaled fibers present throughout the plant. Processing operations have ceased for the time being. See: La Hague: de l'amiante dans l'usine Areva [The Hague: asbestos in the Areva plant].
 

Asbestos Scandal Grows!

Nov 24, 2017

The scandal over the use of asbestos-containing shot-blasting material in EU countries has mushroomed as the true scale of the problem has begun to emerge. It had been thought that the number of Dutch companies using the product was 140; as of now, it’s believed that the true figure is 594 companies working at 842 locations in Holland. Two lawsuits have been initiated over the contamination, with the second one filed on November 23, 2017 by the Muehlhan Group, which is claiming €2.4 million for damages and asbestos testing and remediation work. See: Straalmiddel met asbest op veel meer bedrijfslocaties [Blasting agent with asbestos at many more business locations].
 

Spanish Victims: Protest

Nov 24, 2017

The Association of The Asbestos Injured (APENA) in Murcia, Spain is denouncing a new legal requirement imposed by the Regional Assembly which condemns surviving family members of an asbestos victim “to administrative limbo in the pursuit of their rights.” Unlike procedures in other parts of Spain and most of Europe, autopsies by a forensic doctor have been made mandatory for those who died from occupational exposures to asbestos. This complicated and time-consuming process is, APENA says, unnecessary and invasive. See: Las víctimas del amianto consideran una “humillación” el convenio aprobado en Murcia [Asbestos victims consider the agreement approved in Murcia a “humiliation”].
 

Demand Grows for Safer Roofing

Nov 24, 2017

HIL Ltd, formerly Hyderabad Industries Ltd, has commissioned a new manufacturing facility in Timmapur, Karnataka, India. According to Managing Director Prashant Vatkar, given the potential for the growth in eco-friendly products, the company is looking to reduce the current 75:25 production ratio of asbestos-containing roofing material to asbestos-free roofing to 60:40 in the next three years. India is currently the world’s biggest market for asbestos imports with the majority of fiber being used in the production of building materials like asbestos roofing. See: HIL commissions Timmapur Plant.
 

Mesothelioma Data from Turkey

Nov 24, 2017

A high national incidence of mesothelioma in Turkey has been confirmed by a new study reporting data collected by The Turkish Mesothelioma Working Group and the Turkish Public Health Institute for the Turkey National Mesothelioma Surveillance and Environmental Asbestos Exposure Control Program. Based on the statistics gathered, scientists predict that between 2013 and 2033 there could be 2,511 mesothelioma deaths in rural areas; ongoing asbestos exposure in 379 rural villages inhabited by 158,068 people in high-risk areas is a serious cause for concern. See: Turkey National Mesothelioma Surveillance and Environmental Asbestos Exposure Control Program.
 

Freeing Society from the Asbestos Curse

Nov 24, 2017

An academic paper published in a special issue (Global Panorama of National Experiences in Public Health Actions to Ban Asbestos) of the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, details the various measures taken and reversals experienced on the way to eliminating the industrial use of asbestos in Sweden and eradicating the hazards posed by human exposures. Crucial to the prohibitions was a tripartite collaboration of government agencies, employers and trade unions to delineate the challenges faced and to design and implement effective strategies. See: The Tale of Asbestos in Sweden 1972–1986—The Pathway to a Near-Total Ban.
 

Calls for Tighter Import Controls

Nov 23, 2017

A report issued by the Australian Senate into illegal asbestos imports has confirmed that, despite an asbestos ban implemented in 2003, flouting of the prohibitions are common. Of 4,600 consignments identified as high-risk between July 2016 and January 2017, 290 were tested; 9 were found to contain asbestos. The authors called for tougher penalties and the setting up of a border force unit to tackle the inflow of dangerous asbestos goods. Senators, “deeply concerned’’ about the lack of asbestos awareness amongst building workers, called for mandatory training. See: Senate inquiry recommends crackdown on illegal asbestos imports.
 

Asbestos Update: Rio de Janeiro

Nov 23, 2017

Today (November 23, 2017) at 13:30 a public lecture will be given by Brazilian engineer Fernanda Giannasi, former labor inspector and leader of the Latin American ban asbestos campaign, on the status of Brazil’s on-going struggle to ban asbestos. Masters students from the occupational health surveillance department and others are invited to attend. The session, which will take place at the National School of Public Health in the Manguinhos area of Rio de Janeiro, will be moderated by Researcher Luis Carlos Fadel. See: Aula aberta Banimento do amianto: uma luta coletiva e continua [Open class on the banning of asbestos: a collective and continuous struggle].
 

Asbestos on UN Agenda

Nov 23, 2017

On November 27, 2017, schoolteacher Nirmala Gurung from Kymore, Madhya Pradesh, India will inform a UN meeting in Geneva, Switzerland about the deadly repercussions of European asbestos manufacturing operations in her town which even now remains contaminated with asbestos waste. She, like many others, has contracted asbestosis from environmental exposures. The companies which operated these factories were asbestos conglomerates from Britain (Turner and Newall) and Belgium (ETEX/Eternit). See: Madhya Pradesh village sees “slow death” of hundreds of asbestos victims caused by now closed British, Belgian subsidiary.
 

Spain’s Asbestos Legacy

Nov 23, 2017

As a result of negligent corporations and collusion of the government, 2,000 people die every year from asbestos- diseases in Spain. The online feature article referenced below details the deadly industrial legacy of decades of asbestos manufacturing operations by the Uralita company at its facilities in Cerdanyola del Vallès, near Barcelona. Former workers detail their struggles with asbestos diseases and their efforts to obtain justice through legal and civil actions including the formation in 2009 of the Association of Victims Affected by Asbestos in Catalonia. See: La negra història de l’amiant, un genocidi laboral que no s’acaba [The black history of asbestos, an occupational genocide that is not over].
 

Nirmala Goes to Geneva!

Nov 21, 2017

On November 27, 2017 Nirmala Gurung will address a United Nations forum on Business and Human Rights in Geneva, Switzerland to highlight the ongoing hazard posed to communities living near asbestos factories. Mrs. Gurung, a former headmistress of a secondary school in Kymore, Madhya Pradesh, India is suffering from asbestosis due to environmental asbestos exposures caused by the operations of the British asbestos multinational Turner and Newall PLC and the Belgian ETEX company, both of which dumped asbestos waste on 600,000 square meters of land on which 3,000 people live. See: Environmental Exposure to Asbestos Kills Indian People. Kymore – A Slow-Motion Bhopal.
 

Government U-Turn?

Nov 21, 2017

In what is seen as an indication that asbestos lobbyists have succeeded in forcing Sri Lanka to reconsider plans to ban asbestos by 2024, last week Science, Technology and Research Minister Susil Premajayantha announced that a team of Sri Lankan experts from various ministries and institutions is being sent to Russia, the world’s biggest asbestos producing nation (and the biggest asbestos supplier to Sri Lanka), to learn more about chrysotile asbestos and its effects on human health. According to the Russians, asbestos can be used safely; independent experts say otherwise. See: Govt. will send experts to Russia to study chrysotile fiber: minister.
 

The British Asbestos Newsletter

Nov 21, 2017

The Autumn 2017 issue of the British Asbestos Newsletter is now available online. The lead article entitled “Asbestos Life and Death in Brexit Britain” considers the country’s mounting death toll caused by asbestos-related diseases and statements by some government officials suggesting that occupational asbestos safeguards will be watered down post-Brexit. The feature headlined: “Another Asbestos Debacle?” compares measures instigated in Europe to protect workers from asbestos-contaminated shot-blasting material with the failure to take action in Britain. See: Issue 105, The British Asbestos Newsletter.
 

Asbestos Victims’ Mobilization

Nov 20, 2017

On Saturday, November 18, 2017, a capacity crowd gathered in the town of Bom Jesus da Serra in the Brazilian state of Bahia to consider the way ahead for asbestos victims in light of a court verdict which condemned the former asbestos mining company that owned the Sao Felix do Amianto mine and awarded a total of 500 million Reias (US$153.4m) to workers and families whose lives had been decimated by asbestos exposures. See: Audiência Pública hoje em Bom Jesus da Serra/Bahia com familiares e ex-empregados, vitimados pelo amianto [Public hearing today in Bom Jesus da Serra / Bahia with relatives and former employees, victims of asbestos].
 

Asbestos Alert: China

Nov 20, 2017

A Chinese commentary timed to coincide with November’s global action on lung cancer discussed several myths about the disease and its treatment, and listed five causative factors including exposure to asbestos. “Occupational exposure to asbestos, such as [in] construction, asbestos mining, insulation processing, and vehicle brake repair can cause damage to lung tissue if inhaled. Numerous studies have shown that asbestos exposure significantly increases the risk of lung cancer.” See: 11月"全球肺癌关注月" 警惕肺癌的五大高危因素 [November “Global Lung Cancer Concern Month” alert five risk factors for lung cancer].
 

More Illegal Asbestos Imports

Nov 20, 2017

Another unwelcome discovery of asbestos in Chinese exports to Australia was reported last week by Worksafe, an Australian Government agency responsible for occupational safety and health, which warned that rail carriage friction wear plates manufactured in China purchased between 2007 and 2014 had tested positive for chrysotile asbestos, a banned substance. Responding to yet another asbestos scare Steve McCartney, WA state secretary of the Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union, said mining companies choosing to “save a buck” by importing rail carriages and parts from overseas were putting workers at risk. See: Asbestos found in WA's rail carriages.
 

Asbestos Trade Anomaly

Nov 20, 2017

Although the Canadian Government has pledged to ban asbestos by the end of 2018, the Canada-Ukraine Free Trade Agreement which came into effect on August 1, 2017 includes on a list of products which will receive preferential treatment: asbestos brake linings, asbestos friction materials, asbestos-cement tiles and asbestos joints. Commenting on this incongruity, a spokesperson for Canada’s Ministry of Environment & Climate Change said “In all free trade agreements, the Canadian government retains the ability to regulate in the public interest, including the area of public health and the environment.” See: Ukraine, Canada, Free Trade and asbestos.
 

Asbestos Fly-tipping

Nov 20, 2017

Illegal dumping of asbestos debris in Wales has hit a 10 year high with 270 cases of asbestos fly-tipping reported in 2016-17, a 57% increase from the previous year with Merthyr Tydfil the worst affected area; the majority of the waste was discarded along highways or on footpaths and usually consisted of amounts that would fill a car boot or a small van. Commenting on the news, Rebecca Favager from Natural Resources Wales said: “Understanding and complying with the duty of care is key to stopping waste getting into the hands of illegal waste operators and can result in public money being saved…” See: Fly-tipping: Asbestos rubbish dumping hits 10-year high.
 

Uralita in Cerdanyola

Nov 20, 2017

A one hour film entitled: El amianto asesino [Killer asbestos] which was uploaded to YouTube last week details the deadly human and environmental repercussions of asbestos manufacturing operations over many decades at the Uralita factory in Cerdanyola del Vallès a city in Catalonia, Spain. Using archival photos and personal testimonies, the damaging results of occupational, domestic and environmental exposures to Uralita asbestos are investigated. The factory, which at its inception was seen as a harbinger of modernity, is now viewed as a mass murderer. See: El amianto asesino [Killer asbestos].
 

Paying the Price for Asbestos Use

Nov 20, 2017

An article in the Autumn 2017 newsletter of the Institute for Work & Health, Toronto updates previous estimates regarding the economic burden of diseases caused by asbestos in Canada in a single year (using the example of 2011) from CA$1.9 billion to CA$2.35 billion – for newly-diagnosed cases of mesothelioma and lung cancer due to occupational and para-occupational (second-hand) exposures in the examined year. The new figures are higher because they include the value of activities in the home. The average costs for mesothelioma and lung cancer cases were estimated as CA$1,130,398 and CA$981,576, respectively. See: Study update: New cases of mesothelioma and asbestos-related lung cancer from one year cost $2.35B.
 

Infringements of EU Ban!

Nov 17, 2017

A report issued in Helsinki on November 16, 2017 by the European Chemicals Agency documented a high incidence of trade of products contravening EU regulations, including those banning asbestos. Of the 5,625 chemical products checked by inspectors, 13.6% of those which were non-compliant contained asbestos; most of the illegal asbestos was in second-hand goods produced before restrictions came into force. According to EU Directive 1999/77/EC, as of January 1, 2005 the import, production, sale, use and export of all types of asbestos was prohibited. See: Forum for enforcement reviews results of its restriction project and agrees on new actions.
 

New Mesothelioma Specialist Nurse

Nov 17, 2017

Expert lung cancer nurse Maria Guerin has been appointed as a mesothelioma clinical nurse specialist to support patients in the asbestos hotspot of Merseyside and Cheshire. “Throughout my career,” she said “I’ve witnessed the devastating impact a mesothelioma diagnosis has on people. There is significant ongoing burden of the disease in this area, partially due to employment in the Docklands and the potential access to hazardous asbestos.” Ms. Guerin will be based at Aintree University Hospital in Liverpool; her position is being funded by the national charity Mesothelioma UK. See: Specialist nurse appointed to cover high incidence of mesothelioma in North West.
 

Asbestos Disease and GPs

Nov 17, 2017

A paper uploaded on November 3, 2017 documenting research in the Molise Region highlighted the importance of asbestos awareness amongst Italy’s general practitioners and their role in the surveillance and management of occupational and non-occupational asbestos diseases. The authors concluded that there was a “need to impart… appropriate and standardized information to GPs on environmental and workplace asbestos risks, in order to determine the most suitable support for prevention, early diagnosis and therapy.” See: Asbestos exposures, mesothelioma incidence and mortality, and awareness by general practitioners in the Molise Region, Central Italy.
 

Asbestos Regulation or Ban?

Nov16, 2017

Today (November 16) from 8 a.m. till noon, a seminar will take place at the University of the Andes in Bogotá, Colombia entitled: Asbesto: ¿Regulación o prohibición? [Asbestos: Regulation or prohibition?]. The event is being hosted by the university’s Environment and Public Health Department and features the participation of Senator Nadia Blel, who on October 11, 2017 submitted the “Ana Cecilia Nino” Ban Asbestos Bill to the Colombian Senate. The legislation, which was approved by the 7th Commission of the Senate, called for an end to asbestos mining, processing, consumption, sale and export. See: Asbesto: ¿Regulación o prohibición? [Asbestos: Regulation or prohibition?].
 

Outrage over Asbestos School

Nov 16, 2017

On November 13, 2017, a demonstration was held by parents of children at the Woodlands Primary School in Pietermaritzburg, the capital of South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal Province, over the Department of Education’s broken promise to build a new school by 2016/2017 to replace the current one that has asbestos roofing. Voicing the concerns of many parents, one spokesperson said: “This school is actually a hazard to our children because it is made from asbestos, and we want the department to build a new school or our children will get sick.” Ward councillor Shawn Adkins, who was at the protest, said: “The untold harmful effects of asbestos on pupils, teachers and the community is yet to be uncovered.” See: Parents protest, demand new school.
 

Maritime Asbestos Scandal

Nov 16, 2017

Asbestos contamination of ships owned by CMA CGM, a French container transportation and shipping company, was exposed in an October 2017 feature in Le Marin, a weekly publication about the maritime economy. CMA CGM owns 180 vessels; of the 22 registered in the French International Register, 9 contain asbestos in parts such as “seals or brake linings of winches.” The company has announced an internal investigation into this matter and aims to have all boats inspected by asbestos specialists by the end of the year prior to removing all toxic material. See: Monde maritime: “le scandale de l'amiante continue” assure la CGT [Maritime world: “asbestos scandal continues” asserts the CGT].
 

GE Asbestos Deaths, Ontario

Nov 16, 2017

Hundreds of injured General Electric workers from the company’s Peterborough factory – which in its heyday employed 6,000 people – in Ontario, Canada are still fighting for compensation. A claim submitted by Sandy LeBeau over her husband Ron’s asbestos cancer death was rejected: “The denial came back, that Ron did not work with asbestos. Excuse me, he worked in a crane, with brake pads of asbestos that filtered over his head every time the crane brakes were applied. He had asbestos mitts, he worked in the ovens, they had asbestos blankets in the ’70s that covered these ovens which were the size of a car garage,” she said. See: Lights Out: The Rise and Fall of CGE Peterborough.
 

Banning Asbestos in Italy

Nov 14, 2017

This paper which details the road to Italy’s asbestos ban is part of the 2017 Special Issue: Global Panorama of National Experiences in Public Health Actions to Ban Asbestos of the peer-reviewed International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. The text explains how a major asbestos mining and processing country in the early 20th century transitioned to a leading advocate for national and international prohibitions on asbestos use. The authors highlight the role played by various stakeholders and the importance of integrated environmental health policies and capacity building. See: Asbestos Ban in Italy: A Major Milestone, Not the Final Cut.
 

Asbestos in Brakes

Nov 14, 2017

Rejecting an appeal by a company from the Gipuzkoa Province of Spain, the Supreme Court of Justice of the Basque Country upheld a ruling by the Social Court of San Sebastian and confirmed that compensation of €154,000 was owed to the family of a worker who died in 2015 due to occupational asbestos exposures experienced from handling and installing brake pads. Welcoming this victory, asbestos victims’ campaigners called for the establishment of a national asbestos compensation fund. See: El TSJPV desestima el recurso de una empresa guipuzcoana por una muerte por Amianto [Court dismisses the appeal of a Gipuzkoan company over asbestos death].
 

More Data Needed!

Nov14, 2017

Papers just published by Australian researchers concluded that a lack of data about occupational lung diseases is impacting on the identification of hazardous materials. “There is a pressing need to gather systematic data on the causes, prevalence, incidence and impact of occupational lung diseases, such as through a national occupational disease registry.” Australia’s asbestos epidemic will continue for decades to come and the hazards posed by exposures during renovation work must be addressed due to the widespread prevalence of asbestos in homes. See: Concern about asbestos exposure during renovations as mesothelioma expected to remain in Australia for decades.
 

Asbestos Victims’ Mobilization

Nov 13, 2017

On Saturday November 11, 2017, asbestos-exposed ex-employees and relatives of deceased workers who had worked at the Infibra plant in Londrina held discussions regarding the filing of a public civil action against the company, which shut in 2003. Commenting on the lawsuit, Márcia Rodrigues Gamba, whose father died from asbestosis in 2013 and had worked for Infibra from 1985 to 2003, said: “The collective action is related to the health damage of those exposed to asbestos and aims also to provide compensation to relatives of people who died due to [asbestos] diseases.” See: Ex-trabalhadores de Londrina vão cobrar indenizações por Amianto [Former workers in Londrina to collect asbestos indemnities].
 

Asbestos in Talcum Powder

Nov 13, 2017

It was announced last week that on October 30, 2017 the US company Colgate-Palmolive Co. had settled a lawsuit brought by Carol Schoeniger, a Pennsylvania woman who claimed she contracted mesothelioma as a result of using the company’s talcum powder products; the terms of the agreement were not made public. In filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Colgate-Palmolive admitted that it faces more than 170 similar cases, having resolved 43 cases so far this year. Johnson & Johnson is facing 5,500+ ovarian cancer claims resulting from the use of its iconic Baby Powder. See: Colgate-Palmolive Settles Claims Over Asbestos in Talc.
 

CGT Union vs GM Spain

Nov 13, 2017

After several years and complaints by the CGT union, the Labor Inspectorate of Zaragoza ordered the Opel manufacturing company (GM Spain) to recognize individuals at-risk from occupational asbestos exposures between the years 1982 and 1986; not only those who worked directly with asbestos but those exposed carrying out “auxiliary and complementary tasks.” A spokesperson for the union said the CGT was satisfied that all asbestos-exposed workers will be eligible for medical examinations and benefits under the Opel asbestos protocol. See: Inspección de Trabajo requiere a Opel ampliar el listado de afectado por el Amianto [Work Inspectorate requires Opel to expand list of asbestos at-risk workers].
 

Victory: For Asbestos Claimants

Nov 13, 2017

The claims of two families whose loved ones died from asbestos-related diseases as a result of occupational exposures at the Bombardier factory in Crespin, northern France have succeeded, as the company abandoned its appeal over a verdict condemning it for “inexcusable fault” in failing to protect employees from hazardous substances. Commenting on the victory, Nacim Bardi, the daughter of one of the deceased, said that the ruling set a precedent and paved the way for others to bring similar claims against Bombardier. See: Amiante: l'entreprise Bombardier renonce à faire appel [Asbestos: Bombardier Relinquishes Appeal].
 

Asbestos Removal: Parents’ Objections

Nov 12, 2017

Protests from parents of children attending the Puig Adam Institute, in Getafe, Madrid succeeded in stopping demolition work at a derelict municipal sports center 50 meters from the school. The objections related to promises by the City Council that all asbestos removal work would be undertaken during non-school hours; due to inclement weather, plans to remove and dispose of the center’s asbestos-cement roof were delayed resulting in work being rescheduled for Monday November 6. See: Alarma en un instituto de Getafe por la retirada de amianto en un polideportivo municipal [Alarm in Getafe institute as asbestos removed from municipal sports center].
 

Asbestos: Crime and Punishment

Nov 12, 2017

An editorial in Libération, a daily newspaper in France, condemned successive administrations for consistently failing to protect public health from exposures to harmful substances such as asbestos and pesticides, and for their inability to hold to account negligent individuals and corporations: “Some victims manage, by dint of obstinacy, to be compensated. But industrial and political leaders are never condemned.” Author Alexandra Schwartzbrod calls for complete independence of prosecutors and the strict application of the precautionary principle. See: Produits toxiques:inaction [Toxic products: inaction].
 

Victory for Naval Workers

Nov 10, 2017

Finally, on November 7, 2017 after three years of legal manoeuvres, 151 workers received compensation of between €5,000 and €12,000 from the Ministry of the Armed Forces, for asbestos exposures experienced during their employment at the Lorient arsenal, a series of naval installations along the coast of Brittany. The compensation payments were presented during a hearing at which the public rapporteur admitted “the negligent failure of the state, public employer, especially in the implementation of measures to prevent asbestos exposures.” See: Amiante: 151 ouvriers de l’arsenal indemnisés [Asbestos: 151 compensated arsenal workers].
 

Asbestos Tests and Imports

Nov 8, 2017

Oman’s Public Authority for Consumer Protection has ordered that tea and coffee pots and thermos flasks sold under the brand names Regal, Legend, Royal and Monarch be withdrawn from sale after laboratory tests undertaken revealed the presence of asbestos. The Authority’s Director of Quality Control said there are “continuous efforts to follow up defective goods that are harmful to the health and safety of the consumer.” Oman banned asbestos imports, use and sale in 2008. Suppliers have been told that products must have certificates proving they are asbestos-free as of December 1, 2017. See: Toxic asbestos find leads to recall of tea and coffee pots in Oman.
 

France’s Asbestos Shame

Nov 8, 2017

In an interview today with a major French newspaper asbestos campaigner and former worker Josette Roudaire, who is one of the activists whose work is featured in a documentary film being premiered on November 8 in France, denounces the country’s continued failures to support asbestos-injured workers and punish negligent asbestos defendants for their criminal actions. Amongst her former surviving colleagues from the Amisol asbestos factory, all 270 are sick; she herself has pleural plaques. See: Amiante: «C’est un crime d’indifférence. Qu’est-ce qu’on en a à foutre que des ouvriers meurent ?» [Asbestos: “It's a crime of indifference. What do we care about workers dying?”].
 

HSE Investigation

Nov 7, 2017

Today (November 7, 2017), a spokesman for the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) confirmed that the: “HSE is investigating following reports of a small number of UK users who may have been supplied with [asbestos] contaminated shot-blasting material. We are also meeting with the Maritime and Coastguard Agency on this issue. As the investigation is ongoing we are unable to comment further at this time.” The discovery last month that toxic sandblasting products were being sold in several European countries has caused a furore amongst trade unions and health authorities and led to product recalls by the Dutch Eurogrit Company which had supplied the contaminated product since 2015.
 

Asbestos Documentary!

Nov 7, 2017

On November 8, 2017, a new documentary will be premiered depicting the battle for justice by victims of asbestos and pesticides in France. The director Pierre Pezerat is the son of one of France’s foremost scientist-activists Henri Pezerat. The Sentinels of the title are the men and women who fought to protect the environment and the population from these hazardous substances. The contributions of leading figures like Henri Pezerat, Annie Thebaud-Mony and farmer Paul François are highlighted. See: Les Sentinelles: hommage aux victimes de l'amiante et des pesticides [The Sentinels: tribute to the victims of asbestos and pesticides].
 

Travesty of Justice

Nov 7, 2017

On November 6, 2017, the Bologna Criminal Court absolved two executives of the OGR railway company – Franco Cataoli and Eduardo Cardini – of negligence over four asbestos deaths of workers who had been employed at the company’s railway repair workshops in Bologna during the 1970s and 1980s. A spokesperson for AFeVA, the local asbestos victims association, called the ruling “incomprehensible” and said the association would carefully consider the verdict before deciding whether to appeal. See: Morti per amianto a Bologna, assolti due dirigenti delle Ogr [Two OGR executives absolved in asbestos deaths in Bologna].
 

Anomaly: Bilateral Trade Pact

Nov 7, 2017

A trade agreement between Ukraine and Canada, a country on the verge of banning asbestos, came into effect on August 1, 2017; ironically, the agreement endorses the export of asbestos products. The Canada-Ukraine Free Trade Agreement (CUFTA) was signed under the previous Prime Minister. Requests to current Ministers about how this anomaly will be addressed have gone unanswered. According to the author: “under CUFTA, any refusal by Canada to accept asbestos products from Ukraine could be challenged by companies in Ukraine wishing to export asbestos-containing products to Canada and seeking compensation for ‘lost profits’.” See: Why does the Canada-Ukraine Free Trade Agreement include asbestos?
 

Asbestos Disease at the Shipyards

Nov 6, 2017

The first report has been published documenting the occurrence of asbestosis amongst workers from the Sitakunda, Bangladesh ship-breaking yards. Ninety-four workers were examined at asbestos diagnosis camps in July 2016 and January 2017 by the Bangladesh Occupational Safety, Health and Environment Foundation. Thirty-three (35%) were diagnosed with asbestosis. The authors recommend that an occupational health service be set up for ship-breakers and their families. See: Parenchymal asbestosis due to primary asbestos exposure among ship-breaking workers: report of the first cases from Bangladesh.
 

Asbestos: Natural Disasters

Nov 6, 2017

A study was undertaken in Sri Lanka to assess the incidence of asbestos disease in a cohort of 230 workers occupationally exposed to asbestos: 17.4% had radiographic abnormalities and another 7% had fibrosis. One of the most interesting findings was the prevalence amongst affected patients of demolition workers and post-tsunami clean-up operatives. The author concluded that: “there are significant implications for cleanup workers worldwide when dealing with asbestos debris after hurricanes, tornados, typhoons and tsunamis.” A poster on this research was presented at the October 2017 meeting of the Collegium Ramazzini in Capri, Italy. See: Prevalence of Asbestos-Related Disease Among Workers in Sri Lanka.
 

Asbestos Hazards: New Technology

Nov 6, 2017

New computer software created by two New Zealand asbestos experts will allow tradespeople such as plumbers and electricians to use smartphones or tablets to identify potential asbestos sources present at a worksites. The software enables the identification of products with the use of barcode technology which indicates where asbestos-containing products may be located. The developers of this scan-based management system are hopeful it will help prevent hazardous exposures and ensure compliance with stricter asbestos regulations coming into force in New Zealand. See: Asbestos expert creates warning system as new rules bite.
 

US Asbestos Ban Bill

Nov 5, 2017

On November 2, 2017 Senator Jon Tester introduced a bill to ban asbestos in the US; this is the 6th such Congressional bill to be considered over the last 20 years. Commenting on his sponsorship of the proposal, the Montana Senator said: “Asbestos has already taken the lives of too many Montanans, and banning this harmful substance will prevent the future loss of life. Just ask the families in Libby and Troy; there’s no place for asbestos in our communities. This bill will protect families, our environment, and our communities.” See: Tester Introduces Bill to Ban Asbestos, Protect Public Health.
 

Victory at High Court!

Nov 5, 2017

A statement on behalf of victorious parties on October 27, 2017 in “construction asbestos litigation” before the Tokyo High Court said the ruling solidly established the government’s liability to compensate asbestos-injured construction workers, assigned asbestos manufacturers’ responsibility to compensate construction workers with mesothelioma, asbestosis, lung cancer and diffuse pleural thickening and ordered manufacturers to compensate self-employed workers. The text calls on the Government to create a compensation fund for construction workers and take immediate steps to resolve ongoing litigation. See: Statement of plaintiffs, their attorneys and supporters on the Tokyo High Court ruling on October 27, 2017.
 

Evidence Supports Asbestos Ban

Nov 5, 2017

A paper based on research undertaken by the World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Office for Europe and the European Centre for Environment and Health concludes that: “The substantial and increasing costs associated with the continued production and use of asbestos far outweigh the short-term and often only local economic benefits… [and notes] that, banning the production and use of all forms of asbestos, as recommended by the International Labour Organization and WHO, continues to be the most efficient and proven evidence-based strategy to eliminate ARD’s.” See: Barriers and Facilitators to the Elimination of Asbestos Related Diseases—Stakeholders’ Perspectives.
 

Calls for Asbestos Relief Scheme

Nov 3, 2017

An editorial published on November 2, 2017 called on the Japanese Government to “craft a new program to provide relief to the victims, many of whom are aging and ailing” in the wake of the country’s first high court ruling on asbestos damages to construction workers, thousands of whom have died from occupational diseases. The landmark verdict handed down on October 27, 2017 in Tokyo ordered the Government and four building material makers to pay compensation to 62 plaintiffs; this decision reversed a district court ruling that had absolved the government and firms of liability. See: Addressing workers’ health damage from asbestos.
 

Asbestos Insulation Hazard

Nov 3, 2017

A study to quantify health risks associated with living in houses insulated with asbestos was undertaken which compared the incidence of mesothelioma and other cancers in 1 million+ residents of the Australian Capital Territory who did and did not live in houses insulated with loose-fill asbestos (known to one and all in Australia as Mr. Fluffy). The researchers found that “the adjusted incidence of mesothelioma in males who had lived at an affected property was 2·5 times that of unexposed males… there was an elevated incidence of colorectal cancer in women … prostate cancer in men … [male] colorectal cancer was increased…” See: Risk of cancer associated with residential exposure to asbestos insulation: a whole-population cohort study.
 

Asbestos Industry Onslaught

Nov 3, 2017

Students in Belgorod, Russia were targeted by an asbestos salesman in a lecture last month to encourage the use of asbestos cement by architects. From online reports, it seems the event followed the same pattern as propaganda exercises in the cities of Kazan and Nizhny Novgorod where students were also informed of the virtues of asbestos and shown product samples before being told of cash prizes for winners of a competition to design projects using asbestos for updating the urban environment. See: Белгородские студенты-архитекторы обновят городскую среду с помощью изделий из хризотилцемента [Belgorod architects will update the urban environment with products from chrysotile cement].
 

Grassroots Activism on Asbestos!

Nov 3, 30217

A week of mobilization by grassroots campaigners in Indonesia has raised awareness of the twin hazards posed by exposures of children to leaded paints and asbestos. Activities undertaken in Jakarta, Bogor, Depok, Bekasi, Yogyakarta and Denpasar were scheduled to take place during International Week of Lead Hazard Prevention 2017 (October 22-28 2017). Despite the existence of some asbestos regulations and standards and the classification of asbestos as a Hazardous (B3) substance, the use of asbestos is still permitted in Indonesia for multiple purposes such as roofing for primary schools. See: Stop the Use of Lead Paint and Asbestos Roofs to Protect the Future of Indonesian Children.
 

Kenya’s Asbestos Challenges

Nov 2, 2017

Despite a 2006 Kenyan law banning the use of new asbestos and regulations by the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) on asbestos disposal, asbestos-containing products remain in place, are widely recycled by residents, shop owners and others and are illegally dumped when no longer fit for purpose. According to a NEMA spokesman the process of removing toxic asbestos roofing of residential properties could take another 10 years and cost Sh500 million (~US$5m). The cost advantage of asbestos products and a lack of awareness of the toxicity of asbestos are issues which need to be addressed. See: State banned asbestos in 2006 for link to cancer.
 

Asbestos in Schools

Nov 2, 2017

An online commentary alleges that in 20 years nothing has changed regarding the hazard posed by asbestos-containing products in French schools. Eighty per cent of the schools built before 1997 in the city of Lyon contain asbestos. There is no mapping of the asbestos in the buildings and no information provided to pupils, parents or the staff about the situation, despite awareness of the health risks by municipalities, departmental and regional councils. Data cited shows that teachers and former pupils have died from asbestos diseases. See: La France n’arrive toujours pas à se débarrasser de l’amiante dans ses écoles [France still can not get rid of asbestos in its schools].
 

Hong Kong’s Asbestos Ban

Nov 2, 2017

The large amounts of asbestos used in Hong Kong’s residential buildings, the increase in diagnoses of asbestos-related diseases and the work of social actors are considered in a new paper about the means used to achieve a ban on asbestos in Hong Kong. Highlighting the importance of civil society mobilization, the authors conclude that “efforts from different stakeholders including patients’ self-help organizations, NGOs, legislative councillors, and media power are absolutely essential to the success of progression and development in today’s asbestos banning in HK.” See: History of Asbestos Ban in Hong Kong.
 

Mixed Outcome: Asbestos Appeal

Oct 31, 2017

Although the Supreme Court of South Australia has reduced a record compensation payout of more than a million dollars awarded by the Adelaide District Court to mesothelioma victim Anthony Latz by $195,826, in the same October 30, 2017 ruling the Court increased the amount of exemplary damages awarded against Mr. Latz’s former employer James Hardie from $30,000 to $250,000 setting a South Australia record. Legal experts believe the exemplary damages award could benefit many Australians bringing claims for hazardous asbestos exposures experienced at home or at work. See: James Hardie asbestos victim gets record compensation payout cut.
 

Remediation of Public Buildings

Oct 31, 2017

Portugal’s Parliament has recommended that asbestos be removed from public buildings according to a resolution approved on October 4 and published on October 30 in the Diário da República, the official gazette of Portugal. The resolution instructs the Government to “make effective the updating of the list of asbestos-containing materials in buildings, facilities and equipment where public services are provided and carry out the consequent removal, packaging and disposal of their waste.” See: Parlamento recomenda ao Governo que retire amianto de edifícios com serviços públicos [Parliament recommends the Government remove asbestos from public buildings].
 

Asbestos Ban: Progress

Oct 30, 2017

The Canadian Government’s announcement in December 2016 that a national prohibition on mining, use, sale and imports of asbestos would be enacted has engendered a flurry of discussions and consultations some of which are detailed in the document entitled: Consultation on the Proposed Regulatory Approach to Prohibit Asbestos and Products Containing Asbestos. Submissions received from trade unions, asbestos victims’ groups and other stakeholders are being considered in finalizing the detailed legislation required to implement the ban in Autumn 2018. See: Consultation on the Proposed Regulatory Approach to Prohibit Asbestos and Products Containing Asbestos.
 

Asbestos and French Fries

Oct 30, 2017

A Colombian commentary compares asbestos and French fries, both of which are widely consumed and injurious to health. The WHO, a long-standing advocate for ending asbestos use, is calling for action to reduce consumption of over processed food. The same industry strategy that sank a proposed soda tax is being wielded to deter or delay efforts in Colombia to end asbestos use. Amongst the lobbyists are “hired experts” employed to manufacture doubt. “In Colombia,” the author writes “we are in the process of documenting the lobbying of industries… A good start is to keep track of lobbyists and merchants of doubt about asbestos and over-processed foods.” See: Asbesto y papas fritas [Asbestos and French Fries].
 

EU Support: No to Toxic Dump

Oct 30, 2017

A petition by an Italian community opposed to the development of an asbestos waste dumpsite in Roaschia, Piedmont has been accepted by the European Parliament which is forwarding it to the EU Commission for consideration in 2018. The petition was submitted by Alberto Cirio, an Italian Member of the European Parliament. Commenting on the Parliament’s support, Cirio said: “The fact that it is welcomed makes us optimistic because it is evidence of the import of our concerns.” See: Roaschia, Bruxelles sostiene il “no” alla discarica di Amianto [Roaschia, Brussels supports “no” at the asbestos dump].
 

Banning Asbestos in the US

Oct 30, 2017

A chapter of the special issue “Global Panorama of National Experiences in Public Health Actions to Ban Asbestos” of the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health – which has just been uploaded – considers the reversals, missed opportunities and victories in the campaign to ban asbestos in the United States. Co-authors Drs Landrigan and Lemen affirm that the “The failure to ban asbestos in the United States is a national scandal and an affront to morality and human decency” and express some optimism that “asbestos will finally be banned in the United States under the Senator Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical safety for the 21st Century Act.” See: Toward an Asbestos Ban in the United States.
 

Asbestos Documentary

Oct 30, 2017

The documentary “Do not Breathe – Contains Asbestos” was shown in the city of Florianópolis last week, after which a discussion took place that provided the opportunity for the director André Campos, Fernanda Giannasi, retired labor inspector and co-founder of the Brazilian Association of the Asbestos-Exposed, Márcia Kamei López Aliaga, manager of the Labor Public Ministry’s National Program to Ban Asbestos and others to consider recent developments regarding the prohibition of asbestos production and use in Brazil. See: Lançado em Florianópolis o Documentário “Não Respire – Contém Amianto” [Released in Florianópolis the Documentary “Do not Breathe – Contains Asbestos”].
 

Legal Precedent!

Oct 27, 2017

A major victory was achieved today for construction workers in a verdict handed down by the Tokyo High Court which recognized the negligence of the government and asbestos manufacturers for injuries caused by asbestos exposures at construction sites. The decision of the Presiding Judge Atsuo Nagano overturned the ruling of the Yokohama District Court, which had dismissed the plaintiffs’ claim. While several asbestos cases have been won against the government, this is only the 3rd against manufacturers and the first such High Court decision. See: 石綿訴訟、国とメーカー4社に賠償命令…控訴審 [Asbestos lawsuit, orders for compensation to 4 companies and manufacturers ... appeal trial].
 

Russian Asbestos to Paraguay?

Oct 26, 2017

Evgeny Kuyvashev, the Governor of the Sverdlovsk region – Russia’s asbestos heartland – took part in trade negotiations between Russian officials, including the Russian Industry and Trade Minister Denis Manturov, and Paraguay’s Minister of State for Construction and Communications Ramon Jimenez Gaona and his team, during a trip to Latin America. Russian news reports claim that Kuyvashev offered to sell “cheap asbestos” to Paraguay, a country which in 2013 supported a UN motion to regulate global sales of chrysotile asbestos (see: Rotterdam Convention 2013 Dossier of Daily Reports). See: Свердловская область готова сотрудничать с Парагваем в сфере строительства [Sverdlovsk region cooperating with Paraguay in the field of construction].
 

Mesothelioma Causation

Oct 26, 2017

A feature linking asbestos exposure and the occurrence of incurable malignant mesothelioma has been uploaded to an online news source in Ukraine, a country whose asbestos ban had been prevented by industry stakeholders earlier this year (see update to: Ukraine Bans Asbestos!). The article highlights many commercial uses of asbestos as well as the hazards from occupational and environmental exposures and the take-home risk posed to family members of asbestos fibers on workclothes. See: Злокачественная мезотелиома: причины и лечение [Malignant mesothelioma: causes and treatment].
 

Progress Towards a Ban!

Oct 26, 2017

At a meeting of trade union personnel, medical professionals, media specialists and campaigners held on October 23, 2017 in the capital of Laos, Vientiane, it was decided to form an information and advocacy network that would implement initiatives to raise occupational and public awareness of the asbestos hazard and work towards achieving a national asbestos ban. The name of the new group is LaoBan and it will collaborate with similar organizations in the region including: Ina-Ban (Indonesia), BANJAN (Japan), BANKO (Korea), T-BAN (Thailand), VN-BAN (Vietnam), etc. See: picture of Vientiane meeting.
 

Asbestos: Ignoring the Obvious

Oct 26, 2017

Fire-fighters are one of a number of at-risk and campaigning groups condemning plans by the Trump administration to downgrade a review of dangerous chemicals including asbestos. As originally proposed, the initiative was intended to improve regulations to protect public and occupational safety. Under Trump’s EPA only products being manufactured and sold, and not toxins already in public use, will be investigated. For asbestos, this means ignoring the hazards posed by 8+million tons of asbestos-containing products already in the US and only considering the few hundred tons of annual imports. See: EPA chemical review would exclude millions of tons of toxins.
 

Asbestos Fly-tipping: Arrest

Oct 26, 2017

Investigations by the New South Wales (NSW) Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the NSW Police Force into alleged illegal dumping of toxic debris resulted in the arrest of a 46-year old Sydney man who was charged with dishonestly obtaining financial advantage by deception, after having illegally disposed of 1,400 tonnes of asbestos-contaminated waste from a building site in Darlington. According to a spokesman for the NSW Environmental Protection Agency: “Illegal dumping is a serious crime that can have severe impacts on the environment and can endanger the community.” See: Man arrested following investigation into alleged illegal dumping of asbestos.
 

Landmark Ruling in Yokohama

Oct 25, 2017

On October 24, 2017, the Yokohama District Court awarded 61 asbestos-injured construction workers or surviving family members a total of ¥306 million (US$2.7m) compensation, from the Japanese government and two asbestos manufacturers of construction materials, for occupational exposures to asbestos. Judge Yuko Otake’s verdict found that the Japanese government had failed to enact adequate asbestos regulations and that Nozawa Corporation and Nichias Corporation had neglected to warn their workers of the asbestos hazard. See: 61 plaintiffs seek ¥1.7 billion from state and materials makers for asbestos ills, some to share ¥306 million.
 

Asbestos Action

Oct 25, 2017

During the World Health Organization’s “International lead poisoning prevention week of action” from October 22 to 28, 2017, campaigners in Indonesia are highlighting the double risks to children of the presence of lead-containing paint and asbestos-containing products in their schools. Members of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have issued an appeal for government action after a study by the Ministry of Environment and Forestry and NGOs highlighted the human health threats of these toxic products. See: Bahan Berbahaya Beracun - Hentikan Pakai Cat Bertimbal dan Asbes [Hazardous Materials – Stop Using Leaded Paint and Asbestos].
 

Mesothelioma Medical Costs

Oct 25, 2017

A Leeds asbestos claimant has come to an agreement with defendant insurers that they will cover future costs for his treatment for the cancer mesothelioma, a disease he was diagnosed with in 2015. The setting up of a Periodical Payments Order eradicates: “some of the uncertainty that comes with settling this type of claim... none of the treatment available to this Claimant can be obtained on the NHS free of charge.” In what is being hailed as “the first of its kind for mesothelioma cases,” the claimant will be assured that whenever “treatment is needed, it is covered.” See: ‘Landmark Agreement’ To Provide For Cancer Treatment In Mesothelioma Legal Case.
 

Construction Workers Victory!

Oct 24, 2017

On October 24, a verdict by the Yokohoma District Court awarded damages against the Japanese Government and 2 major asbestos product manufacturers to construction workers injured by occupational asbestos exposures. In previous cases, 6 other courts ordered the Government to compensate construction workers; two district courts awarded damages against manufacturers. On October 27, the Tokyo High Court will hand down its verdict in another asbestos action by construction workers that was originally rejected by the Yokohama District Court. See: 国とメーカーに賠償命令 建設アスベスト神奈川訴訟 企業責任、認定2例目 [Kanagawa court holds companies responsible for asbestos exposures to construction workers].
 

Ban Asbestos Action

Oct 24, 2017

A workshop entitled “Risk of Asbestos in Engineering” was held at the Engineering and Technology Training Center in Phonm Penh, Cambodia on October 18, 2017 by the Board of Engineering of Cambodia, Cambodia’s Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training and Australia's Union Aid Abroad (APHEDA). The event was facilitated by Phillip Hazelton, APHEDA’s regional campaigner and was supported by trade unions, non-government organizations and government agencies; the tagline of the event was: Fighting together to eliminate asbestos from Cambodia. See: Footage of Cambodian TV coverage of this meeting.
 

Public Health Surveillance

Oct 24, 2017

Coordination amongst medical experts and healthcare institutions in Tuscany has resulted in a pioneering programme operational since April 3, 2017 benefiting more than 5,000 asbestos-exposed workers eligible for free medical healthcare and follow-ups. An explanatory note about this scheme notes that: “The involvement of specific public health services and the cooperation of social stakeholders (unions and asbestos workers associations namely)… are expected to help in enhancing the participation to the programme of all the past asbestos workers.” See: Health surveillance for workers with previous exposure to asbestos: a specific programme developed in Tuscany Region (central Italy).
 

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, 2017

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.
 

Hazard: Asbestos Waste

Oct 13, 2017

On October 11, 2017 Charity Ngilu, the Governor of Kitui County, Kenya oversaw work by a team of operatives tasked with removing illegally dumped asbestos tiles. Commenting on the incident the Governor said: “People in this area were unhappy because the asbestos [tiles] were disposed here without any safety mechanism. This has led to degradation of environment as well as health problems to the locals around.” The National Environment Management Authority has advised the government to implement initiatives supporting the replacement of asbestos roofing with safer alternatives. See: Governor Ngilu leads team in disposing cancerous asbestos tiles.
 

Raising Occupational Awareness

Oct 13, 2017

A campaign by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) about the hazards posed by occupational exposures to asbestos and other dusts is targeting construction workers, many of whom entered the labor force after asbestos was banned. A lack of asbestos awareness in public and residential structures needs to be addressed. One example was Artex, a widely used decorative asbestos-containing coating. The presence of Artex is a danger for DIYers as well as contractors. “Asbestos is,” the HSE admitted “also worryingly common in school buildings, many of which were built or rebuilt in the 70s and 80s.” See: HSE Warning Shows Importance of Dealing With Dust.
 

Progress: Ban Asbestos Bill

Oct 13, 2017

On October 11, 2017 the ‘Ana Cecilia Niño’ Ban Asbestos Bill, sponsored by Senator Nadia Blel, was approved by the Seventh Commission of the Colombian Senate. After the draft legislation is approved by the plenary of the Senate, there must be two further debates in the House of Representatives regarding the legislation to end asbestos mining, processing, consumption, sale and export. The bill allows for a five-year phase-out period during which industry stakeholders must make the transition to an alternative and safer technology. See: En primer debate, Congreso aprobó la ley que prohibe uso del asbestos [In the first debate, Congress passed law prohibiting asbestos use].
 

Distortion of Science

Oct 11, 2017

In a misleading press release issued today (October 11, 2017) by the pro-asbestos “International Trade Unions Movement for Chrysotile,” research by Spanish scientists is twisted to confirm “the safety of chrysotile (white asbestos).” In fact, the authors despite having only found amphibole fibers in Spanish lung samples, concluded that “Spain and other southern European countries… [are] at a high risk to develop asbestos-related diseases in the years to come.” The relative speed with which chrysotile can be cleared from the lungs is a red herring; even 48 hours of chrysotile exposure can initiate disease formation. See: “Groundbreaking Scientific Study Proves Chrysotile asbestos is not a Cause of Disease”.
 

Senate Considers Asbestos Ban

Oct 11, 2017

This week social media has been flooded with support for a ban asbestos bill named in honor of mesothelioma victim Ana Cecilia Niño. The draft legislation is sponsored by Senator Nadia Blel and will be debated in the Colombian Congress today (October 11). This is the 8th time the Senate has considered taking action on the asbestos hazard in a country which mines, manufactures, consumes and sells asbestos fiber and asbestos-consuming products. A recent demonstration by Greenpeace in the center of the capital called on Senators to make Colombia asbestos-free! See: TV coverage of Colombia’s campaign to ban asbestos.
 

New Compensation Fund

Oct 11, 2017

The Spanish Congress of Deputies by a vote of 193 to 127 yesterday (October 10, 2017) approved plans to establish a national compensation fund for asbestos victims following the submission of a proposal by the Basque Parliament. During the debate, Deputy Rocío de Frutos said that asbestos exposures had created a “labor genocide” and that the government’s failure to act made it complicit in this catastrophe. The Congress will now consider the details of setting up such a body in consultation with political groups and stakeholders. See: El Gobierno creará un fondo para ayudar a las cuatro mil víctimas del Amianto [The Government will create a fund to help 4,000 asbestos victims].
 

Old Hazard, New Technology

Oct 10, 2017

In a clash of the old and the new, asbestos contamination of a building destined to be the new Apple headquarters in Milan has delayed the opening of the store from December 2017 until the summer of 2018. Asbestos-containing pipes and construction material were found in the building which used to house the Apollo cinema. The new Apple Store, will, its proponents hope “become an open place to meet friends, take a walk and participate in cultural events.” See: Amianto nell’ex cinema Apollo, slitta l’apertura dell’Apple Store di Piazza Liberty a Milano [Asbestos in the former Apollo cinema, delays opening of the Apple Store in Milan’s Liberty Square].
 

Asbestos-Free Schools

Oct 10, 2017

As of November 2016, minimum norms and standards adopted for schools in KwaZulu-Natal were adopted by the Department of Basic Education which stipulated that educational premises must have water, electricity and toilets, and that the constructions must not be built of wood, mud, asbestos, or zinc. Over the past three weeks, strong winds and rain have affected more than 300 schools around the province; pupils at the Enkangala Secondary School in Weenen, which was destroyed in heavy rains last week, will be having lessons outdoors until other arrangements can be made. See: School down to one wobbly classroom.
 

Asbestos: Fake News!

Oct 9, 2017

The participation of David Bernstein in a Hanoi conference on October 6, 2017 was reported by a Vietnamese newspaper, along with his comments that “white asbestos is not cancerous like the blue and brown varieties.” Activists in Vietnam have exposed this report as false saying that Bernstein came to Vietnam some years ago and that the Hanoi asbestos meeting on October 6 affirmed “the harm of white Asbestos to human health…” See: Xem xét thận trọng, khách quan, khoa học, toàn diện về vấn đề Amiang trắng [An objective and scientific consideration of white Asbestos].
 

Another Asbestos Tragedy!

Oct 9, 2017

In March 2015, renowned Spanish philosopher Jesús Mosterín reported that he had contracted the asbestos cancer, mesothelioma. He recalled exposures to asbestos from a small factory near where he played as a young child in Bilbao and from asbestos products present in university premises where he studied in MIT’s Department of Linguistics and Philosophy in the US. He had never worked with asbestos. Jesús Mosterín died from mesothelioma on October 4, 2017. See: Un mesotelioma eminente (En memoria de Jesús Mosterín, otra víctima del amianto) [An eminent mesothelioma (In memory of Jesús Mosterín, another victim of asbestos)].
 

Asbestos and Public Health

Oct 9, 2017

A study to quantify mesothelioma incidence in Italian “national priority” contaminated sites has concluded that: “asbestos pollution is a risk for people living in polluted areas, due to not only occupational exposure in industrial settings with direct use of asbestos but also the presence of asbestos in the environment.” In the study period, an excess of mesothelioma incidence was found in sites with known past history of direct use of asbestos such as Balangero, Casale Monferrato and Broni, in sites with shipyards and harbors (eg, Trieste, La Spezia, Venice, and Leghorn), but also in areas without documented direct use. See: Mesothelioma incidence and asbestos exposure in Italian national priority contaminated sites.
 

New Asbestos Maritime Protocol

Oct 9, 2017

A French decree published on October 5, 2017, reinforces 1998 regulations pertaining to the prevention of asbestos exposures aboard ships; its provisions will become mandatory on July 1, 2018 for most French ships – exceptions being fishing vessels less than 12 meters in length and personal boats, which have a deferred deadline of January 1, 2019. Shipowners are required to contract accredited specialists to conduct asbestos audits and ensure that airborne asbestos levels do not exceed stipulated thresholds; after the initial tests, inspections will be required every three years. See: Amiante dans les navires : un décret renforce l'obligation de repérage [Asbestos in ships: a decree strengthens duty to audit].
 

Scandal at the Opera House

Oct 6, 2017

Two months after members of the Electrical Trades Union renovating the Sydney Opera House discovered they were being exposed to asbestos, another discovery was made by workers installing cabling. A spokesperson for building company Laing O'Rourke confirmed that “unexpected” finds of asbestos has been made this week despite the existence of a “comprehensive” Asbestos Management Plan. After the August incident, SafeWork NSW issued improvement notices which gave the company seven days to remove the asbestos or eliminate the threat. The at-risk electricians have now walked off the job. See: Sydney Opera House electricians walk off the job due to confirmed asbestos.
 

Asbestos: Occupational Hazard

Oct 6, 2017

A Russian language online article recapping the contents of a feature published on October 4, 2017 in Canada’s Globe and Mail newspaper states that asbestos is one of the top causes of occupational cancer in the Canadian Province of Ontario. “Asbestos is a threat to life and health… and remains the most dangerous carcinogen” causing 770 occupational cancers in Ontario every year as well as 15 cases of larynx and ovarian cancers. See: Ученые выявили главные факторы возникновения рака на работе [Scientists have identified the main factors of cancer at work].
 

Bahia Victims’ Victory

Oct 6, 2017

The Federal Public Prosecutor's Office (MPF) in Vitória da Conquista in Brazil’s Bahia state has ordered the asbestos mining company Sama Minera Associadas to comply with a court order awarding 11 claimants, injured by exposure to asbestos liberated by the company’s operations, the medical costs for their illnesses, including payment for all clinical treatments plus medications and equipment required, and a life-time monthly stipend equal to one and a half times the minimum wage. See: MPF de Vitória da Conquista pede pagamento de indenização a vítimas de amianto da Sama [MPF of Vitoria da Conquista orders compensation payments to Sama’s asbestos victims].
 

Asbestos Compensation Fund

Oct 6, 2017

A debate on the establishment of a compensation fund for Basque asbestos victims is scheduled to take place in the Basque Parliament next week. The draft legislation details the nature and organization of the fund, economic resourcing and organizational structure; it also stipulates that claimants should receive compensation payments in under six months. Between 1994 and 2008 3,943 people died in Spain from asbestos-related diseases. See: La ley vasca para compensar a víctimas del amianto llega la próxima semana al Pleno del Congreso [A Basque law to create an asbestos compensation fund will be debated next week].
 

Asbestos Hotlines!

Oct 4, 2017

Today and tomorrow (October 4 & 5), Japan’s Association of Asbestos Victims and their Families in cooperation with legal professionals are holding a free telephone consultation service to provide support and advice to asbestos victims. This service, which is always over-subscribed, will be even more so in light of advice issued on October 2, 2017 by the Ministry of Labor urging asbestos victims to sue the Government for compensation!
 
See Photo: Abestos hotline service.
 

Ontario’s Asbestos Epidemic

Oct 4, 2017

An article in the Globe and Mail, a nationally distributed newspaper, has named asbestos as one of the top carcinogens causing an epidemic of occupational cancer in Ontario. According to a paper released today (October 4) by the Occupational Research Centre and Cancer Care Ontario (OCRC), exposure to asbestos causes 630 cases of occupational lung cancer and 140 of mesothelioma in the Province every year. "Asbestos is,” said OCRC Director Dr. Paul Demers, “still our worst carcinogen, or nightmare, depending upon your choice of words.” See: Workplace carcinogens lead to thousands of cancer cases in Ontario each year: study.
 

Parliament Asbestos Debate

Oct 4, 2017

On October 3, 2017, Members of the Portuguese Parliament discussed a draft bill proposed by Heloísa Apolónia of the Green Party (see: YouTube clip) to make asbestos audits mandatory for all commercial buildings; such surveys are already required for state-owned buildings such as schools and hospitals. A deadline of 2020 has been set for the removal of asbestos from all 4,200 government buildings across the country. The proposal requires companies to collaborate with workers’ and employers’ associations to design and implement an asbestos surveying program. See: Survey of companies containing asbestos debated in parliament.
 

Mesothelioma Court Victory

Oct 4, 2017

A shipyard worker’s family was awarded £340,000 compensation by Lord Clarke sitting in the Edinburgh Court of Session yesterday (October 3, 2017) for his death from mesothelioma caused by occupational asbestos exposures whilst employed by the firm of Henry Robb Ltd. George Manson died aged 81 in February 2016; he had worked at the Leith shipyard in the 1960s. The company admitted that it had not done enough to protect Mr. Mason from toxic exposures. See: October 3, 2017 verdict in the case of George Manson & Others v. Henry Robb Ltd.
 

Canada’s New Asbestos Ban

Oct 4, 2017

The dramatic transition made by Canada under the Trudeau Government from an asbestos-producing to an asbestos ban country is examined in this article, based on a recent journal publication by Kathleen Ruff, which pointed out that “Less than ten years ago, the asbestos industry enjoyed the support of every Quebec and Canadian political party…” The role of academics, health professionals and scientists from Quebec was crucial in discounting skewed industry propaganda and promoting independent scientific evidence of the harmful nature of asbestos exposures. See: “Scientists cannot be silenced” The story behind how Canada finally banned asbestos.
 

Ministry Encourages Victims’ Lawsuits

Oct 2, 2017

Today (October 2, 2017), a spokesperson for Japan’s Labor Ministry said it is encouraging former asbestos plant workers with occupational diseases and the families of deceased workers to file lawsuits against the government so that compensation payouts can be made to thousands of asbestos claimants eligible to receive them after a 2014 Supreme Court decision found the government responsible for asbestos exposures affecting plant workers in Osaka Prefecture. By the end of last month ¥2.1 billion (US$18 million+) had been paid out to 236 plaintiffs; another 197 claims are being processed. See: Former workers exposed to asbestos urged to sue Japanese government to claim damages.
 

Demands for Asbestos Ban

Oct 2, 2017

A press release issued at the end of last week by the Occupational and Environmental Health Network of India (OEHNI) called for an investigation of an Indian company which has contracted to annually import 50,000 tonnes of asbestos from Zimbabwe. “The government of India has,” the release says “responsibility to protect its citizens through unilateral action to ban mining, import, production, sale and consumption of all materials based on asbestos with immediate effect.” OEHNI “severely criticises the unknown Indian company for their malicious intentions” and appealed to Zimbabwe to close all asbestos mines. See: Press Release – An Indian company to buy 50,000 tonnes of ‘Cancer’.
 

Asbestos: Regional Action

Oct 2, 2017

At the 7th Regional Asbestos Conference organized by the Council of Friuli Venezia Giulia (FVG), Italy last week, the President of the region recapped the scope of the council’s program for environmental reclamation and research into the treatment of and support for asbestos victims, highlighting the importance of collaboration amongst administrative and institutional stakeholders. Of the 32 million tonnes of asbestos incorporated within the Italian infrastructure, 1 million tonnes is located in FVG, making it the country’s most contaminated region. See: Amianto: 1,3 milioni di euro stanziati per il 2017 dalla Regione per le bonifiche [Asbestos:1.3 million euros allocated by the Region for 2017 reclamation].
 

Preparing for an Asbestos Ban

Oct 2, 2017

In the run-up to the implementation of a national asbestos ban which is due to come into force within a few months, Canadian agencies are undertaking measures to prevent exposures to asbestos-containing materials already in situ. One example of such actions was the National Asbestos Inventory, uploaded on September 28, 2017 of buildings owned by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, which lists details of their premises and indicates if asbestos is present in them. See: Inventaire national de l'amiante dans les immeubles de l'Agence canadienne d'inspection des aliments [National Inventory of Asbestos in Canadian Food Inspection Agency Buildings].
 

Victim’s Victory

Oct 2, 2017

On September 15, 2017 Justice Alberto Luiz Bresciani de Fontan Pereira of the Superior Labor Court confirmed a victim’s verdict in a case brought by the asbestos widow of an Eternit employee. The company had been ordered to pay R$300,000 for damages caused to the former employee by occupational asbestos exposures, as a result of which he died from the disease asbestosis, and for failing to comply with occupational health and safety standards. An appeal by the company was unanimously rejected by the Court. See: Viúva de trabalhador contaminado com amianto receberá indenização de R$ 300 mil [Asbestos widow will receive R$ 300,000 (US$94,000) compensation].
 

Asbestos Eradication: Schools

Sep 29, 2017

The removal of asbestos from 20 Australian schools in North East Victoria will take place under a state program which has a $155 million budget to improve school infrastructure. Four hundred and ninety-seven schools which were found to contain “high-risk asbestos” were remediated last year; all remaining asbestos in other schools will be removed by 2020. According to a Northern Victoria MLC: “We’re giving parents, teachers and students in Victoria’s North East peace of mind by removing asbestos that could pose a risk in the future, because there’s nothing more important than the health and safety of our kids.” See: Asbestos to be removed from North East schools.
 

Labour: Asbestos Pledge

Sep 29, 2017

In a speech to the Labour Party conference in Brighton this week, Angela Rayner MP shadow education secretary reiterated a pledge made in the Labour Party manifesto of 2017 to eradicate the asbestos hazard from thousands of UK schools. “Instead of wasting millions of pounds on an inefficient free schools programme, we will,” Rayner said “provide funding to ensure our schools are safe – that flammable cladding can be removed, sprinklers installed and asbestos cleared.” See: Labour will pay teachers ‘properly’, says Angela Rayner.
 

Asbestos-free “Game Changer”

Sep 29, 2017

Indian building materials firm HIL Ltd, formerly Hyderabad Industries Ltd, is a leading producer of asbestos cement sheets for roofing, deriving 70% of its revenue from this product line. Looking towards a likely change in consumer demand, the company has stepped up research and development efforts for asbestos-free roofing. “We are,” said Dhirup Roy Choudhary, HIL’s MD and CEO, “at an advanced stage of developing a new product which will be a game-changer in non-asbestos roofing.” A successful prototype has been achieved and a product is likely by April 2018. See: HIL to launch ₹130-cr pipes, fittings plant in April.
 

Asbestos on Campus

Sep 29, 2017

Judge Nancy Shaffer ended a whistle-blower trial over asbestos mishandling at Sonoma State University in California by awarding almost $3 million in penalties for violations of occupational health and safety laws against the California State University Board of Trustees and Sonoma employee Craig Dawson. The whistle-blower was Thomas Sargent who had worked at the college for 24 years and was forced from his job after expressing concerns about asbestos on campus. He was awarded $387,000 by the judge who ordered that he be reinstated as campus environmental health and safety specialist and receive two years’ back pay. See: Sonoma State University to pay $2.9 million in asbestos case.
 

Raising Asbestos Awareness

Sep 29, 2017

An asbestos awareness conference entitled: “Riscos de Exposição dos Trabalhadores ao Amianto” [Occupational Asbestos Risks] was held on September 22, 2017 by the General Union of Workers, a national trade union center in Portugal. Three asbestos information guides were presented at the event: Guia de Boas Práticas – Remoção de Amianto [Good Practice Guide – Asbestos Removal], Amianto nas Escolas e Edifícios Públicos [Asbestos in Schools and Public Buildings] and Amianto: Riscos, Efeitos na Saúde e Prevenção [Asbestos: Risks, Health Effects and Prevention]. All can be downloaded from the link below. See: Segurança e Saúde no Trabalho: Guias [Safety and Health at Work: Guides].
 

Eternit’s Asbestos Clinic

Sep 29, 2017

This Summer it was announced that workers from the Osasco region of São Paulo and family members who had been exposed to Eternit asbestos will be eligible for free treatment at a new outpatient clinic at the Incor (Heart Institute), of the São Paulo Clinical Hospital. Funding for this specialist outpatient clinic comes from a R$1.6m (US$500,000+) fine paid by the Eternit asbestos company which was penalized by the Public Prosecutor's Office for failure to comply with mandatory occupational health and safety protocols. See: Vítimas do amianto terão tratamento especializado no Incor [Asbestos victims will have specialized treatment in the Incor (Hospital)].
 

Asbestos on the Agenda!

Sep 28, 2017

Asbestos was on the agenda of the 29th Annual Scientific Conference of the International Society of Environmental Epidemiology which was held in Sydney, Australia on September 24-28, 2017. During his presentation entitled “The Global Burden of and Public Health Action for Asbestos-related Diseases” Professor Ken Takahashi highlighted the failure of public health agencies to address the asbestos hazard; reported that most countries either lack mesothelioma mortality data or have poor data; estimated the global annual mesothelioma death rate at 38,000; documented the link between national mesothelioma incidence and historical asbestos use. See: photo of Professor Takahashi speaking at the ISEE Conference.
 

Canada’s Path to an Asbestos Ban

Sep 28, 2017

A paper just published as part of a series in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health entitled Special Issue “Global Panorama of National Experiences in Public Health Actions to Ban Asbestos” shines a light on how in less than a decade Canada made the transition from an asbestos-producing to an asbestos ban country, highlighting the importance of public opinion in changing the positions of officials in provincial and federal governments and the role played by asbestos victims, scientists and activists from around the world. See: How Canada Changed from Exporting Asbestos to Banning Asbestos: The Challenges That Had to Be Overcome.
 

Unreliable Asbestos Statistics

Sep 28, 2017

Campaigners responding to the recent publication of air monitoring results for the former Turner Brothers Asbestos site in Spodden Valley, Rochdale have challenged the way the tests were conducted and how the results were communicated to local people. Representatives of Save Spodden Valley suggested that from what Rochdale Council, which paid for the tests, has said the public could be forgiven for thinking that the “former site of the world's largest textile factory may have the cleanest air on the planet.” See: Save Spodden Valley and Greater Manchester Hazards Centre respond to Turner Brothers Asbestos survey results.
 

Asbestos Cancer Epidemic

Sep 28, 2017

Papers recently published by US authors in peer-reviewed journals document the global epidemic of asbestos cancer, highlight the repercussions of ongoing consumption of asbestos and consider the issue of whether exposure to white asbestos can cause diffuse peritoneal mesothelioma; it can. The paper cited at the end of this news item, by Professor Phil Landrigan, appeared in the British Medical Journal while the paper entitled Diffuse peritoneal mesothelioma: A case series of 62 patients including paraoccupational exposures to chrysotile asbestos was in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine. See: Data on mesothelioma mortality: a powerful tool for preventing asbestos-related disease.
 

Fake Asbestos News

Sep 27, 2017

Government boasts that asbestos mining operations are to be recommenced at two of Zimbabwe’s defunct white asbestos mines have been dismissed by a former mine worker who asked to remain anonymous for fear of victimization: “We are sceptical about this development. We think it is a ploy to win votes in 2018. A similar story was floated again by Government just before the 2013 General Elections.” A government Minister had said that half of the mine’s annual output of 100,000 tonnes of asbestos will be sold to one Indian customer. See: Gov preps to reopen SMM at advanced stage – Moyo.
 

Asbestos Crimes

Sep 27, 2017

Seventeen defendants, including the Brazilian Chrysotile Institute, the National Confederation of Workers in the Construction and Furniture Industry, the National Confederation of Workers in Industry, the National Commission of Asbestos Workers and others, were condemned by Judge Rafael Marques de Setta of the 6th Labor Court in Campinas, São Paulo for noncompliance with asbestos regulations and violations of international conventions as a result of a 2015 civil action by the Public Prosecutor's Office to protect at-risk workers. See: Entidades ligadas ao amianto são condenadas por violações em acordos coletivos [Entities linked to asbestos are condemned for violations in collective agreements].
 

URGENT: Asbestos Action

Sep 27, 2017

The Quebec Public Health Association (ASPQ) and medical associations are calling on Quebec to lower by ten times permissible asbestos exposure limits. In a September 25 press release, the ASPQ said: “Quebec must lower its standard for asbestos immediately, without waiting for the long process resulting from a consultation led by the Quebec Commission on Standards, Equity, Health and Safety.” Although Ottawa has announced that it will tighten standards of exposure, the Government of Quebec has not yet acted on this hazard. See: Amiante: des médecins demandent un resserrement de l’exposition [Asbestos: doctors demanding lower exposure limits].
 

Progress: Asbestos Ban

Sep 27, 2017

The State Government of Bangalore, India has approved new plans for resorts around wildlife sanctuaries as part of a drive to develop tourism and hospitality services centered around six tiger reserves in Bangalore. The new plans are quite precise about the type of materials that can be used and the different restrictions on private land and nature reserves – including a blanket ban on the usage of asbestos in all the resorts. Perhaps now that Bangalore has taken this step to protect tigers and tourists it might also enact a wider asbestos ban to protect Bangalore’s own population – some 8.5 million citizens – from deadly asbestos exposures. See: State Approves Plan for Resorts Around Wildlife Sanctuaries.
 

Asbestos Industry Offensive

Sep 26, 2017

Yet another pro-asbestos feature by the Ukraine Chrysotile Association (the Association) has appeared online extolling the benefits that chrysotile asbestos brings to the country and disparaging calls by the Ministry of Health for its use to be banned. Accepting that perfectly suitable asbestos-free substitutes exist, Yuri Torosyan of the Association says that people in Ukraine are not willing to pay the price for healthier products which are, he states, inferior in performance to those containing chrysotile asbestos. See: Как производят шифер из хризотил-асбеста и есть ли ему альтернатива [How to produce slate from chrysotile-asbestos and is there an alternative to it].
 

Progress: Ban Asbestos

Sep 26, 2017

Representatives of 21 Pacific Islands and 5 associated members of the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme who met last week in Apia, Samoa, approved plans to progress an asbestos ban throughout the region. Commenting on this positive step, Tonga’s representative Paula Ma'u said: “Tonga is very pleased to have been able to co-sponsor the proposal from Cook Islands for a Pacific regional ban on asbestos. Planning the details of the ban will be important as it will need to allow for the importation of asbestos waste for disposal, as some Pacific islands have limited capacity to safely dispose of legacy asbestos stockpiles.” See: Pacific island countries vote to ban asbestos.
 

Asbestos and Electricity

Sep 26, 2017

A useful resource produced this month by the Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency, the National Electrical and Communications Association, the Electrical Trades Union and Master Electricians Australia, entitled Asbestos awareness information for electricians, is now available. The two-page leaflet can be downloaded and printed and includes information about uses of asbestos for the provision of electricity in domestic settings with photographs of electrical boxes, insulation, fuses and waste. Sections on safety tips and the nature of the asbestos hazard provide tradesmen with basic but potentially life-saving information. See: Electricians’ Asbestos Safety Leaflet.
 

Asbestos Alert

Sep 26, 2017

Brazil’s Confederation of Workers in the Construction and Furniture Industry (CONTRICOM) has issued an alert to relevant stakeholders regarding the repercussions of a decision by Campinas Labor Judge Rafael Marques de Setta which imposes penalties and fines on those guilty of non-compliance with mandatory asbestos obligations for the protection of occupational health especially for at-risk groups of workers in the asbestos and cement industrial sectors. See: Contricom Alerta Entidades Sobre Decisao Judicial Relativa a Utilizacao do Aminato Crisotila [Contricom Alerts Relevant Entities of Judicial Decision on the Use of Chrysotile Asbestos].
 

Toxic Waste: Update

Sep 24, 2017

After years of protests by local people and environmental groups, an announcement that work will begin on October 15 to cover over 90,000 tonnes of asbestos waste dumped on a site in Toledo, Spain – which will be then be fenced – off has been welcomed as a stop-gap measure by members of the “My Neighborhood Without Asbestos Platform”. A sum of €2.5 million has been allocated by the authorities to undertake this work; €14m would be needed to completely decontaminate the site which is the ultimate goal of the campaigners concerned about public health. See: El 15 de octubre comenzarán los trabajos para "tapar" los restos de amianto en Toledo [October 15 work will begin to “cover” the asbestos waste in Toledo].
 

Asbestos: Update

Sep 24, 2017

A Nepalese newspaper article reported a meeting last week in Kathmandu during which regional experts, including representatives of the World Health Organization and the Asian Ban Asbestos Network, and local campaigners emphasized the need to enforce Nepal’s prohibitions banning asbestos use, with Ram Charitra Sah, director of the Center for Public Health and Environmental Development, revealing that despite these prohibitions the import, sale and use of asbestos products continues. Measures for ensuring safe disposal of asbestos waste were called for to prevent further toxic exposures. See: फाइबरयुक्त धातु प्रयोग रोक्न जोड [Emphasizing the need to prevent [asbestos] fiber use.
 

Earthquake: Asbestos Hazard

Sep 24, 2017

The environmental impact of the earthquake that hit Mexico City and nearby areas on September 19, 2017 is being assessed, with media reports detailing the multiple hazards from asbestos, heavy metals and other toxins faced by first responders and local people: “Experts warn the lingering dust triggered by the quake poses life-long health risks for the survivors.” In Mexico, the use of asbestos-cement building products is routine; average asbestos fiber consumption for 2010-2016 was around 10,800 tonnes per annum, with figures of 12,077 and 4,529 tonnes being recorded for 2015 and 2016, respectively. See: Mexico's earthquake survivors face the same crippling health issues as 9/11 first responders due to toxic cloud of concrete, asbestos, fungus and more.
 

Asbestos in Talc

Sep 24, 2017

The multinational Johnson & Johnson (J&J) is facing 5,000 US lawsuits from women alleging that the use of J&J baby powder products contaminated with asbestos has caused them to develop ovarian cancer. Lawyers representing 50 women plaintiffs in Kansas City, Missouri allege that the company knew that its talc products included asbestos fibers and that exposure to those fibers could cause ovarian cancer: J&J’s talc, they claim “is not now, nor has it ever been, free from asbestos and asbestiform fibers.’’ See: J&J Was Alerted to Risk of Asbestos in Talc in ’70s, Files Show.
 

Mesothelioma Clinical Trial

Sep 22, 2017

Bristol-Myers Squibb is progressing trials in 19 countries for mesothelioma patients ineligible for surgery, including those at specialist centers in Brazil: Barretos Cancer Hospital, São Paulo and the Institute of Cancer of São Paulo. The phase 3 randomized study is looking at the efficacy of immunotherapy protocols in combination with: Nivolumab, Ipilimumab, Pemetrexed, Cisplatin and Carboplatin. Trials are underway in: Australia, Belgium, Chile, Colombia, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, Poland, Romania, South Africa, Switzerland, Turkey, the UK and the US. See: Estudo clínico sobre mesotelioma pleural recruta pacientes no Brasil [Clinical trial on pleural mesothelioma recruits patients in Brazil].
 

Priority: Asbestos in Schools

Sep 22, 2017

At a press conference on September 21, 2017, Korea’s Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon called for immediate measures to ensure that Korea’s schools were asbestos-free after reports that contamination had been found in many classrooms even after remediation work had been carried out. During a weekly government policy coordination meeting, the PM announced that: “The education, labor and environment ministries are jointly carrying out an inspection into whether asbestos still remains at 1,226 schools that have carried out asbestos-removal projects, and asbestos was found in many of them.” See: PM calls for measures to ensure school classrooms free of asbestos.
 

Updated: Asbestos Regulations

Sep 22, 2017

A stricter regime for preventing asbestos exposures in Western Australia came into effect on September 20, 2017 with the revision of the Health (Asbestos) Regulations 1992. The 22-page document addresses the ubiquity of asbestos-cement building products throughout the state and mandates strict measures to prevent the use, purchase or resale of these products and stipulates protocols for handling, removal and disposal of toxic debris. Substantial fines can be levied by authorized officers who are, along with Chief Health Officers, given wide-ranging discretionary powers to enforce the regs. See: Health (Asbestos) Regulations 1992; Updated September 20, 2017.
 

Asbestos Mobilization

Sep 21, 2017

Work by ban asbestos campaigners in Nepal was reinforced on September 18 and 19 with the holding of asbestos activities in the capital, Kathmandu. The events, which were supported by Nepal’s Center for Public Health and Environment Development, the Asian Ban Asbestos Network (ABAN), the Asian Network for the Rights of Occupational and Environmental Victims (ANROEV) and other partnering groups, were attended by leading campaigners from throughout the region, including delegates from Nepal, Japan, Hong Kong, Korea, India, Indonesia and Australia. See: Picture of delegates.
 

Asbestos Protest

Sep 21, 2017

On September 20, 2017, one hundred local people and environmental campaigners – belonging to the association “Stop the Salau mine” – who are opposed to the restarting of tungsten mining at the Salau mine in Couflens, a commune in the Ariège department in south-western France, protested asbestos testing at the mine as a precursor to the commencement of tungsten mining operations. A license had been granted to the Apollo Minerals company by the prefect of Ariège for the asbestos sampling to be carried out. See: Ariège: les opposants à la mine du Salau manifestent contre les recherches d'amiante [Ariège: Opponents of the Salau mine protest against asbestos research].
 

Asbestos-free Roofing

Sep 21, 2017

According to Sri Lanka’s Minister of Industry and Commerce Rishard Bathiudeen, domestically produced red clay roofing tiles are now in high demand due to national asbestos prohibitions set to come into effect in 2018 which will ban all asbestos imports. This restriction has led to an increase in the production of clay roofing tiles, some of which are exported to the UK. Sri Lanka’s ceramic and glass industries employ 55,000 workers. In 2015 and 2016, Sri Lanka imported 34,505 and 47,379 tonnes of asbestos fiber, respectively. See: Red clay roof tiles in high demand as asbestos ban looms.
 

Collapse of Asbestos Lobby

Sep 20, 2017

The “National Agreement on the Controlled Use of Asbestos” between Brazil’s National Committee of Asbestos Workers and the National Confederation of [Asbestos] Workers in Industry and the country’s asbestos trade association the Chrysotile Institute (Instituto Brasileiro do Crisotila), which allowed for the contravention of mandatory health and safety measures, has been annulled by a court ruling. See: A farsa do lobby do amianto:Sentença – Acordo nacional do uso seguro do amianto celebrado entre CNTA/CNTI e IBC é extinto [The asbestos lobby farce: Judgment – National agreement on the safe use of asbestos signed between CNTA/CNTI and IBC is extinct].
 

Fact: All Asbestos Banned

Sep 19, 2017

A September 16 commentary on a Brazilian legal website clarified the content and ramifications of Supreme Court (STF) decisions handed down in August regarding the constitutionality of state asbestos bans and the unconstitutionality of the federal government’s asbestos law. The explanation is clear – the STF is competent to declare unconstitutional rules adopted as the basis for decisions even if those rules were not disputed by those bringing the litigation, in this case the National Confederation of [Asbestos] Industrial Workers. See: É proibida a utilização de qualquer forma de amianto no Brasil [The use of any form of asbestos in Brazil is prohibited].
 

Asbestos: Cosmetics Recall

Sep 19, 2017

On September 8, 2017 a Consumer Product Recall was issued by Health Canada, the department of the Canadian government responsible for protecting public health, for a series of make-up products marketed under the Justice Just Shine brand, including pressed powder, eye shadow, bronzer, shimmer powder etc. Trace amounts of asbestos were found in Just Shine Shimmer Powder imported from China; other products from the same manufacturer were recalled as a “cautionary measure.” Thousands of units were sold in Canada between February and August 2017. Tests done in the US also found asbestos in the “Just Shine Shimmer Powder” make-up sold by Justice. See: Justice (Tween Brands Inc.) recalls various cosmetics.
 

Guidance: Asbestos Removal

Sep 19, 2017

Guidance issued by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) in September 2017 entitled “a14 asbestos essentials,” explains good practice for the removal of asbestos cement products from small structures which can be undertaken by non-specialists as non-licensed tasks. Topics considered in the 3-page factsheet include preparing the work area, equipment, procedure, overlaying AC sheets, removal, cleaning, disposal, personal decontamination, clearance and checking off. The list of essential HSE reading material included in this leaflet is informative. See: Removing asbestos cement (AC) sheets, gutters etc and dismantling a small AC structure.
 

Challenge to Asbestos Ban

Sep 18, 2017

At a September 14 press conference in Zaporizhia, a city in south-eastern Ukraine, a representative of the Ukrainian Chrysotile Association – responding to an announcement some weeks ago that Ukraine planned to ban asbestos – said that the country’s “economy is not ready to completely abandon the use of asbestos.” Asbestos industry lobbyist Yury Torosyan told journalists that: “For cars, especially heavy trucks, as well as railway carriages, there is virtually no alternative to asbestos-containing [brake] pads.” See: Экономика Украины не готова к отказу от асбеста – профильное объединение [The economy of Ukraine is not ready to abandon asbestos - a profile association].
 

Asbestos: Adieu!

Sep 18, 2017

A September 17 feature on the website of the Canadian Broadcasting Company marked the 25th anniversary of the demise of Cassiar, British Colombia – a Canadian company town that was centered around an asbestos mine. For 40 years this town was home to 1,500 people; in 1992 the mine shut down unexpectedly when the owners went into receivership. Residents were told to vacate their properties and the town was razed to the ground. A summer reunion this year provided the opportunity for many former locals to return to Cassiar to say a final farewell. See: ‘It was like one big family’: 25 years later, a B.C. ghost town's former residents still miss their home.
 

Asbestos Denied!

Sep 18, 2017

A scathing editorial in the French newspaper Le Monde on September 16, 2017 condemned the Paris Appeal Court for allowing asbestos defendants a “license to kill” tens of thousands of citizens by its cancellation of indictments for homicides and unintentional injuries against nine decision-makers, industrialists, scientists and senior civil servants suspected of promoting policies supportive of the asbestos industry between 1982 and 1995. The charges, which were dismissed on September 15, arose from test cases regarding toxic exposures at Jussieu University and the Normed shipyards in Dunkirk. See: Amiante: la dérobade de la justice [Asbestos: the evasion of justice].
 

Asbestos Memorial Day?

Sep 18, 2017

The community of Monfalcone, a city at the heart of Italy’s asbestos epidemic, has called on regional authorities to establish a mesothelioma day to raise awareness of asbestos cancer, in proposals submitted to officials of Friuli Venezia Giulia, an autonomous region in north-east Italy. In a bill proposed by the Mayor of Cantieri, April 28 is suggested as a memorial day for asbestos victims to acknowledge the “sacrifice of many Italian workers and their families who unknowingly went to their deaths [because of] breathing asbestos fibers.” See: Si istituisca la giornata nazionale per le vittime dell'amianto [Establishing a National Day for Asbestos Victims].
 

Mesothelioma Causation

Sep 18, 2017

Incidence data from the population-based Cancer Registry of the Republic of Slovenia for the period 1961-2014 were studied alongside data for national asbestos imports in order to delineate temporal and spatial variations in Slovenian mesothelioma incidence for the last 50 years. The authors of a newly published paper based on this research found that: “the maximum value of the asbestos import curve corresponds to the peak of mesothelioma curve exactly 30 years later. Both increases before the peak are comparable in time interval and steepness. The highest mesothelioma risk was detected for the cohort born between 1940 and 1944.” See: Time trends and spatial patterns in the mesothelioma incidence in Slovenia, 1961-2014.
 

Mission Accomplished!

Sep 18, 2017

On September 15, 2017, the intrepid walkers of the Asbestos Diseases Society of Australia (ADSA) completed their 2017 walk to raise mesothelioma awareness and research funds in Perth with a rally in Solidarity Park, across the street from Parliament House. ADSA officials, supporters and clinicians made the final stage of the walk together finishing up at midday at Harvest Terrace in West Perth. Throughout the week, the walkers have met local people, liaised with the media and proceeded along their way through the Central Wheat belt towns of Merredin, Quairading and Northam. Well done to all! See: Website of Asbestos Diseases Society of Australia.
 

Justice Denied!

Sep 16, 2017

The Paris Court of Appeal handed down a verdict yesterday (September 15) annulling criminal indictments lodged in 2011 and 2012 against nine defendants, charged over asbestos-related deaths, who had been accused of homicide and unintentional injuries as a result of their membership and/or employment by the Permanent Asbestos Committee, an association representing the interests of the French asbestos industry. Victims’ campaigners condemned the verdict saying it gave French manufacturers a “license to kill.” See: Amiante: les mises en examen annulées dans les dossiers Jussieu et Normed [Asbestos: cancelled indictments in Jussieu and Normed files].
 

Gold Mining: Asbestos

Sep 16, 2017

On September 22, 2017, an ultimatum by the Canadian mining conglomerate Eldorado Gold to the Greek government will expire. The company has threatened to pull the plug on plans for gold mining which could result in the loss of 2,000 jobs. Opposition to the mine has been vociferous from people concerned about the environmental impact, destruction of the forest and extinction of wildlife. The use of explosives could release asbestos and heavy metals into the atmosphere. See: Ναι ή όχι στην εξόρυξη του χρυσού; Μια ψύχραιμη απάντηση από έναν καθηγητή Εδαφολογίας [Yes or No to Gold Mining? A Considered Response by a Professor of Soil Science].
 

The British Asbestos Newsletter

Sep 15, 2017

The Summer 2017 issue of the British Asbestos Newsletter is available online. The lead article entitled Action Mesothelioma Day 2017 details a multitude of events which took place in July and concludes that this national day of mesothelioma awareness and remembrance has “now come of age.” Contributions from asbestos surveyor Ian Pass and Liz Darlison from Mesothelioma UK are informative updates on mandatory asbestos requirements for dutyholders and the availability and success of UK clinical trials for mesothelioma patients. See: Issue 104, British Asbestos Newsletter.
 

International Solidarity

Sep 13, 2017

A letter signed by global leaders in the fight for asbestos justice was submitted to the Yokohama District Court on September 7, 2017 and the Tokyo High Court on September 13 urging them “to support the rights of Japanese asbestos victims and issue a judgment which is fair to them and their families.” The letter relates to lawsuits brought by claimants and families regarding toxic exposures to asbestos during employment in the construction sector. The main defendants in these cases are the government and former manufacturers of asbestos-containing construction materials. See: International Joint Letter to Tokyo and Yokohama Courts.
 

Asbestos Legacy

Sep 12, 2017

Despite having banned asbestos, many people in Liberia live under asbestos-cement roofs; there is widespread ignorance about the dangers of asbestos in the country. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), a program to remove toxic roofing which involves individuals or institutions notifying the EPA is ongoing. “The EPA will than recommend certified hazardous service providers that will help in the development of a removal and disposal plan that has to be approved by the EPA.” The EPA monitors removal work and toxic debris must be sent to a designated disposal site. See: Many Liberians Exposed to Cancer Living in Asbestos Roofed Buildings.
 

Flood Reconstruction

Sep 12, 2017

The Occupational & Environmental Health Network of India (OEHNI) has highlighted the error of using asbestos-cement building products in flood reconstruction in a letter to the Chief Minister of Gujarat saying: “Generally it is seen that while rehabilitating the villages asbestos cement sheets are being used as roofing which can bring negative results for the society in the long run.” Urging the Minister to carry out rehabilitation necessitated by widespread damage from the flooding in July, OEHNI National Coordinator Jagdish Patel points out that Gujarat can set a precedent for other states by banning asbestos use in the reconstruction. See: OEHNI Letter to Gujarat Chief Minister.
 

Ban Asbestos: Precedent

Sep 12, 2017

An article regarding the Supreme Court (STF) decision of August 24, 2017 about the unconstitutionality of asbestos use in Brazil highlights the impact of a verdict which cast “doubt about the continuity of the production chain of the substance in Brazil…” By upholding the São Paulo state ban, judges “incidentally declared the unconstitutionality of the federal mechanism that allowed the production chain of chrysotile asbestos in the country.” The precedent of this case will be used by the STF when the legality of the asbestos ban in Rio de Janeiro State is debated in the Court in the coming months. See: Amianto: não se permite nem se proíbe [Asbestos: neither permitted nor prohibited].
 

Asbestos Mining to Resume

Sep 11, 2017

It has been reported that Zimbabwe expects mining operations at two asbestos mines to recommence before the end of this year, a decade after production had ceased. According to Mines and Mining Development Minister Walter Chidhakwa, Shabanie and Mashava in southern Zimbabwe – formerly the sixth largest asbestos mines in the world – are set to be re-opened following a capital injection as part of a $100 million loan from the Chinese company XCMG. Despite growing support for banning asbestos, Zimbabwean authorities claim that domestic and Asian markets for asbestos have been secured. See: Zim to resume asbestos production.
 

Asbestos at the Opera

Sep 11, 2017

A hearing took place in the 9th Criminal Court in Milan on September 8, 2017 over asbestos deaths due to exposure at the world famous La Scala opera house. The five defendants included Carlo Fontana, superintendent of La Scala from October 1, 1990 to February 24, 2005. In 2016, former mayors of Milan Carlo Tognoli, Paolo Pillitteri, Giampiero Borghini and Marco Formentini were fined for accidental murder and causing serious injuries by failures to act on the asbestos hazard. The trial will resume on September 26 with hearings set for October 11, November 9 and December 21. See: Amianto alla Scala, un caso di morte prescritto [Asbestos at la Scala, a death prescribed].
 

Ban Asbestos: India

Sep 8, 2017

Following discussion of a Supreme Court ruling which upheld the constitutionality of state asbestos bans in Brazil, the author of this commentary Dr Gopal Krishna called for action by governments in India, Russia and China to protect citizens from the asbestos hazard by banning asbestos production and use. According to data retrieved from a 2011 census, up to 20% of people in India’s urban areas live and work under asbestos roofs; exposures to these toxic products has led to an increased cancer incidence. Even yoga centers, like the one at Jawaharlal Nehru University, are located in asbestos buildings. See: India must ban asbestos urgently.
 

Asbestos in Buildings

Sep 8, 2017

A dissertation by José Janela on the compliance with laws to minimize hazardous asbestos exposures concludes that Law2/2011 “aimed at the removal of asbestos in public buildings, public facilities and public equipment in Portugal… has only been partially fulfilled…” The author pinpoints failings and lack of resources which initially delayed action and subsequently resulted in poorly carried out surveys. A rational and comprehensive approach is needed to implement all the provisions of Law2/2011. See: O amianto em Portugal: o cumprimento da Lei 2/2011, sobre amianto em edifícios públicos [Asbestos in Portugal: compliance with Law 2/2011 on asbestos in public buildings].
 

Asbestos: Storm Relief

Sep 8, 2017

The Polish Fund for Environmental Protection and Water Management has allocated a further PL20 million (US$5.6m) to support removal, collection and disposal of asbestos-containing waste created by August hurricane winds. Eligible applicants must submit their requests between September 11 and October 31; subsidies of up to 100% are available. In addition, subsidies will be made available by some regional councils including Szczecin. See: Są pieniądze na usunięcie azbestu w gminach poszkodowanych przez żywioł [There is money to remove asbestos from communities affected by the storm].
 

Rehabilitation & Remediation

Sep 8, 2017

Contamination caused by decades of asbestos mining in South Africa remains a potent threat to populations living in affected areas. Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane has recently confirmed a budget of nearly R2 billion (US$78.35m) for the rehabilitation by 2029 of asbestos mines in several provinces, including the Northern Cape. Zwane says that R150 million+ has already been spent and that 11 out of the 21 rehabilitated asbestos mines are in the Northern Cape; the rest of the 234 mines awaiting remediation are in KwaZulu-Natal and Limpopo. See: Almost R2 billion to be used at old asbestos mines.
 

Renewing Asbestos Mine?

Sep 8, 2017

A report just issued by the management of the Shabanie Mashava Chrysotile Mines has detailed the requirements and resources needed to recommence asbestos mining at the Gaths Mine which was shut down in 2004 after the government seized the property from owner Mutumwa Mawere. Efforts to attract investment from China and South Africa have, to date, not succeeded. The study suggested that a cash injection of $20 million is needed to recommence operations although previous estimates have been higher. It is noteworthy that the article about the mine quotes health warnings from Health Canada. See: Report on SMM requirement now complete.
 

Propaganda Offensive

Sep 6, 2017

A feature disseminated by Pravda – formerly the official newspaper of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union – detailed discussions on August 25 at a pro-asbestos roundtable entitled “Chrysotile Asbestos” in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. The event was hosted by the Chrysotile Association, an organization dedicated to “promoting and protecting chrysotile products.” The speakers included representatives of vested interests who denounced the global ban asbestos campaign as uninformed and ill-intentioned. “There is no epidemic of [asbestos] cancer” in former Soviet countries, said multiple speakers. See: Страшилки про асбест. Мифы и правда [Horror stories about asbestos. Myths and truths].
 

Asbestos Victims’ Battle

Sep 6, 2017

A feature in the periodical El Diario Vasco highlights the 5-7 year battle faced by Spanish asbestos victims to receive recognition of their diseases and discusses the importance of victims’ groups like ASVIAMIE which fights for the rights of the asbestos-injured in Euskadi (the Basque Region). Between 2009 and 2013, 149 people died from pleural mesothelioma in this region; the death rate is expected to rise between 2019 and 2023 to 387. Two victims’ verdicts overturned by Social Court 4 were themselves voided by the Basque Court of Justice as a result of which the claimants’ compensation was restored. See: El TSJPV revoca dos sentencias sobre víctimas del Amianto [The TSJPV revokes two asbestos judgments].
 

Occupational Asbestos Hazard

Sep 6, 2017

AN analysis of 6,916 Japanese workers diagnosed with asbestos-related diseases (ARDs) between 2008 and 2013 was undertaken to identify groups at risk of asbestos exposures, to facilitate the development of effective health surveillance strategies. Unsurprisingly, workers from the construction industry were found to have a high risk of ARDs; these workers “are still being exposed to asbestos during maintenance, renovation, and asbestos removal from buildings with asbestos containing products.” See: Compensation for Asbestos-Related Diseases in Japan: Utilization of Standard Classifications of Industry and Occupations.
 

Asbestos Panorama: 2017

Sep 5, 2017

Despite the continued use of asbestos in countries around the world, recent developments in Brazil suggest there may soon be a fall in global consumption. A verdict last month by the Supreme Court upheld the rights of states to ban asbestos to protect the health of inhabitants. Contrasting the strict measures in France to prevent hazardous exposures with the policies of denial and delay in major producing countries like Russia, China and Kazakhstan, this feature quotes trade union officials, victims’ spokesmen and ban asbestos campaigners. See: Terrible poison, l’amiante reste largement utilisé dans le monde [Terrible poison, asbestos still used around the world].
 

Asbestos Waste Disposal

Sep 5, 2017

The generation and disposal of hazardous wastes were the subject of a report, commissioned by the Oran environment agency, that was issued this week. Amongst the toxic waste identified were 953 tonnes of asbestos waste produced per year in Oran. Although the use of asbestos was banned in Algeria in 2009, the material was widely used prior to that time and is found in waste from asbestos-cement materials, building debris and personal protective equipment. As there is no installation for the disposal of such hazardous waste in Algeria, disposal must be accomplished at designated secure storage units. See: Algeria: About 1000 tonnes of asbestos annually generated in Oran.
 

Parents’ Asbestos Protest

Sep 5, 2017

Hundreds of parents protested the asbestos hazard posed to children studying at Gwacheon Gumun Elementary School by a massive reconstruction project at an apartment complex in Gwacheon city in the Seoul National Capital Area. On August 28, the Environment and Citizens’ Center (the Center) held a press conference to quantify the potential asbestos fallout from the rebuilding project. The contents of survey reports and videos of the contentious project were presented to the parents by health and safety experts from the Center. See: 과천 엄마들 "재건축에 초등학교로 석면 들어와" 기자회견 [Gwacheon mothers “Asbestos enters elementary school in reconstruction” press conference].
 

Global Mesothelioma Data

Sep 4, 2017

Quality mortality data on mesothelioma between 1994 and 2014 from 59 countries was amassed and analysed and used to calculate the global burden of mesothelioma deaths. Over the 3 most recent years, the 59 countries experienced 15,011 mesothelioma deaths per year; researchers extrapolated the number of global mesothelioma deaths from this incidence rate and calculated annual mesothelioma deaths as 38,400 based on asbestos use. Citing various qualifications, the authors of this paper concluded that these “estimates are within the range of previously reported values but higher than the most recently reported values.” See: Estimation of the global burden of mesothelioma deaths from incomplete national mortality data.
 

Another State Ban!

Sep 4, 2017

In what is being termed the “Supreme Court effects,” the Brazilian State of Rondônia has become the 11th state to approve prohibitions against the storage, commercialization and marketing of asbestos and asbestos-containing products. A vote taken on Rondônia Bill 645/17, sponsored by Deputy Aélcio, during a plenary session (August 30) approved the legislation. During the debate, Deputy Aélcio highlighted the health risks posed by asbestos exposures citing WHO and EU policies. See: Aprovado projeto do deputado Aélcio da TV que proíbe comercialização do amianto em Rondônia [Approved project of Deputy Aélcio of TV that prohibits commercialization of asbestos in Rondônia].
 

Agreement Disallowed

Sep 4, 2017

In a majority decision of August 29, 2017 by the New York Appellate Division of the first department of the Supreme Court, a plaintiff’s verdict was issued in a case brought by a mesothelioma widow over the death of merchant marine Mason South who had been exposed to asbestos during employment by Texaco. In 1997, Mr. Mason had signed an agreement absolving the company of asbestos claims in return for $1500. The Court, which noted that the consideration paid was “extremely low, given South’s alleged extensive asbestos exposure,” found that as Mr. South was not aware of the specific risk of mesothelioma in 1997, the waiver was moot. See: Matter of New York City Asbestos Litig.
 

Mesothelioma: Research

Sep 4, 2017

Findings of mesothelioma researchers in Australia, published in the latest issue of Lancet Oncology, suggest that a new treatment therapy could stop the growth of mesothelioma cancer cells and reduce tumour size by replacing missing microRNA nucleotides. Over the last four years, scientists working in Sydney found that injecting sufferers with missing genetic information was even able to reverse tumour growth. According to the study's principal investigator, Professor Nico van Zandwijk, it could take another six years of clinical trials before the replacement treatment could be registered. See: Research gives mesothelioma sufferers hope.
 

Pipeline Upgrade

Sep 4, 2017

A multi-million Rand program to upgrade an old asbestos water line between Empangeni to Ngwelezana in the port city of uMhlathuze, South Africa with new asbestos-free plastic pipes, expected to last seventy years, has been beset by delays due to labor stoppages. The tender was awarded in June 2017, since when there have been wage disputes between disgruntled workers and the KSS Group which was awarded the contract. Municipal officials aware of the problem are bringing pressure on the contractors to resolve the issues See: Strike delays R40-million water project in Empangeni.
 

The Wrong Diagnoses

Sep 2, 2017

Research published by South African scientists document a reality all too familiar to grassroots asbestos victims’ campaigners. Due to the difficulty in diagnosing asbestos-related diseases, “58% [of diseases] diagnosed at autopsy had been missed clinically.” An analysis of data based on the experiences of 149 former mineworkers revealed that the majority of cases of asbestos-related diseases had been missed by clinicians with autopsies identifying “77 versus 52 for asbestosis, 27 versus 14 for mesothelioma and 22 versus 3 for lung cancer.” See: Asbestos-related diseases in mineworkers: a clinicopathological study.
 

Precedent for Firefighter

Sep 2, 2017

A court in Barcelona has condemned the authorities in Catalonia for failing to provide adequate protection from asbestos to a firefighter now suffering from asbestosis. During the 1980s, firefighters from the Barcelona City Council's Prevention, Fire and Rescue Service were supplied with personal protective equipment containing asbestos; the firefighters were responsible for cleaning and maintaining their equipment and work clothes, requirements which breached health and safety regulations. See: Primera sentencia que condena a la Administración por la exposición al amianto de un bomber [First sentence that condemns Administration for asbestos exposure by a fireman].
 

Victim’s Victory!

Sep 2, 2017

On August 30, 2017, a Salerno Court concluded that the Ministry of Defense was responsible for the 2013 mesothelioma death of a former sailor who during the 1980s had served on-board two former US submarines purchased by the Italian navy; both of these ships were full of asbestos. The Ministry of Defense and the Navy had both contested claims brought by the deceased’s daughter who was awarded lump sum compensation of €200,000 plus a monthly income of €1,500. This could be the first of many similar claims, said the victorious claimant. See: Morì di amianto, ora lo Stato paga [He died of asbestos, now the state pays].
 

Asbestos Action Plan

Sep 2, 2017

Comments made by the Prime Minister (PM) Justin Trudeau at a press conference in New Brunswick confirmed the Canadian Government’s intention to reduce asbestos exposures in federal buildings, agencies, banks and post offices by amending the Federal Labor Code in the run-up to the country’s asbestos ban – expected by 2018. Pointing out that Ottawa’s regulations are limited to federal buildings, the PM urged Quebec and provincial authorities to reduce occupational asbestos exposure thresholds. See: Amiante: « Nous attendons que le Québec fasse son travail aussi », dit Trudeau [Asbestos: “We are waiting for Quebec to do its job too,” says Trudeau].
 

Rio’s Asbestos Alert

Aug 31, 2017

Pursuant to Rio de Janeiro State Law No. 3,579 of June 7, 2001 mandating the transition to asbestos-free technologies, inspection teams have this month been undertaking audits of workplaces. On August 30, 55,000 pieces of asbestos and 184 tonnes of asbestos fiber were found at the Eternit asbestos-cement factory in Guadalupe, Rio. The factory has been shut and orders given for all the toxic material to be disposed of as per regulations. Rio de Janeiro’s inspectors have also been alerting businesses about provisions of the state asbestos ban. See: Vigilância Sanitária interdita fábrica de amianto no Rio de Janeiro [Health surveillance interdicts asbestos factory in Rio de Janeiro].
 

Annual Fund-Raising Walk

Aug 31, 2017

The Asbestos Diseases Society of Australia (ADSA) has published news of its 2017 ADSA Walk for Research and Awareness. The walk from Merriden to Perth, Western Australia to raise funds for asbestos research and public awareness of the State’s deadly epidemic of asbestos-related diseases will take place over five days – September 11-15. All of the money donated will go to the ADSA PhD Scholarship in Mesothelioma supervised by Professor Anna Nowak and the team at the National Centre for Asbestos Related Diseases. Towns which will be visited by the stalwart ADSA walkers include Merriden, Yoting, Beverley, Quairding and Northam. See: ADSA flyer for 2017 walk.
 

Deadly Environmental Cocktail

Aug 30, 2017

A new report entitled “Waiting to Inhale” documents a toxic nightmare in which residents of communities near Johannesburg’s infamous mine dumps live their lives. The affected areas include Riverlea, Dieokloof, Meadowlands and Doornkop where asbestos-cement roofing is just one of many environmental hazards local people endure. Research undertaken by the Bench Marks Foundation over three years established that 56.1% of residents had respiratory ailments as a result of exposures to dust from mine operations and tailings, asbestos roofing and/or smoking. See: Joburg's mine dumps a huge health risk, study finds.
 

Asbestos Under Fire

Aug 29, 2017

Criticism of asbestos use has arisen during debates over highway construction in Kazan, capital of the Tatarstan Republic, Russia with Tatarstan’s President Rustam Minnikhanov criticizing the Ministry of Transport and challenging reassurances given by Andrey Golem, the head of Orenburg Minerals JSC – one of the world’s leading producers of chrysotile asbestos – regarding the use of asbestos in road construction. Minnikhanov asked Golem if asbestos was a “poison.” Artem Chukin, from the Transport Ministry, said that past experience showed that chrysotile was not suitable for road building. See: Минниханов — минтрансу: «Г..…е дороги делаете!» [Minnikhanov vs Ministry of Transport].
 

Victims’ Victory!

Aug 29, 2017

The Galician Association of Asbestos Victims (AGAVIDA) has welcomed a Madrid court ruling which recognized the asbestos injuries of women who washed their husbands’ asbestos-contaminated work clothes; the men had been employed at a Getafe factory operated by the Uralita company. AGAVIDA is campaigning for Spain to establish an asbestos compensation fund like those that operate in France and the Netherlands; such a fund could be of benefit to thousands of people. See: Nuevas sentencias reconocen la asbestosis en mujeres por lavar ropa de trabajo de sus maridos [New judgments recognize asbestosis in women who washed husbands' work clothes].
 

Asbestos-free Bengal?

Aug 29, 2017

A ruling handed down in the Calcutta High Court could set a precedent which would result in orders to remove asbestos throughout West Bengal says ban asbestos campaigner Dr Gopal Krishna. The order mandated the removal of asbestos-containing roofing material from Court buildings. “Given the fact that health is a state subject,” writes Krishna, the “Government of West Bengal faces a logical compulsion to stop manufacturing, procurement and use of all forms of asbestos including white asbestos to protect the residents of West Bengal…” See: Calcutta High Court’s Order Paves Way For Asbestos Free West Bengal & India.
 

Towards a Ban

Aug 27, 2017

In the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s August 24th decision against the national policy allowing asbestos use, the Attorney General Brazil’s Public Labor Ministry (MPT) Dr. Ronaldo Fleury has announced that the MPT will increase inspections and lawsuits against companies to ensure a nationwide and comprehensive ban on asbestos is achieved in Brazil. In 2012 the MPT created the National Asbestos Banishment Program and has already filed several lawsuits against companies using chrysotile asbestos throughout the country. See: MPT intensificará ações contra o Amianto [MPT will intensify fight against asbestos].
 

Asbestos Hazard in Construction

Aug 27, 2017

A campaign by WorkSafeBC in the Canadian Province of British Colombia (BC) is being launched to address the high risks of occupational asbestos exposures especially to workers in the construction sector. Thousands of contractors will be reminded of the mandatory provisions in the regulations and the costs of breaching them, which include reputational damage as well as financial penalties. In 2017 WorkSafeBC has issued asbestos-related penalties totalling more than C$20.8 million (US$16.6 million) and has 15 officers based in Vancouver focusing on asbestos and renovation work. Between 1996 and 2016, 342 construction workers died of asbestos diseases in BC. See: British Columbia Raises Stakes on Asbestos Safety.
 

Asbestos Hazards

Aug 26, 2017

Colombian and US medical experts have taken part in events in Bogota this week to highlight the under-reporting of the asbestos cancer mesothelioma in Colombia and to educate medical professionals about the routine hazards which can cause this and other asbestos-related diseases, such as working in a building undergoing refurbishment or living in the same house as a person exposed to asbestos at work. Highlighting the huge death toll from asbestos-related diseases in the US and Europe, Dr. Kindler told Colombian delegates that banning asbestos should be a priority for the government. See: Asbesto: Un asesino a largo plazo [Asbestos: A Long-Term Killer].
 

Criminal Asbestos Trials?

Aug 25, 2017

MP Jean-Paul Lecoq, representing a constituency in Normandy, has issued a statement announcing a bill to facilitate criminal trials of those responsible for France’s deadly epidemic of asbestos cancer and disease. This bill is intended to bring justice to thousands of citizens whose lives have been destroyed by avoidable asbestos exposures and who have yet to see anyone brought to trial for the decisions taken by public and private decision-makers which resulted in the national epidemic. See: Amiante: le député Jean-Paul Lecoq l’impunité de supprimer s responsables d’entreprise [Asbestos: MP Jean-Paul Lecoq to remove the impunity of business leaders].
 

Post-Asbestos Era

Aug 24, 2017

On Friday, August 25, 2017, during a visit to the MRC des Appalaches, a region in south-eastern Quebec, local politician Paul Vachon and Marc Alexandre Brousseau, President of the Regional Economic Development Corporation, will call on the Minister of International Development Marie-Claude Bibeau and federal politicians to explain their plans for the economic redevelopment and environmental remediation of former asbestos mining areas in the run-up to Canada’s new “post-asbestos” era. See: Bannissement de l'amiante: le plan du fédéral est attend [Banning asbestos: the federal plan is expected].
 

Deadly Legacy

Aug 24, 2017

A recent report reveals that a number of people between the ages of 50 and 65 have being diagnosed with asbestos diseases following childhood exposures to their parents’ asbestos contaminated work clothes. Research into cases presented at San Polo Hospital, Monfalcone, identified two of mesothelioma and two of pleural plaques in people under 61 years old. In addition, according to Dr. Paolo Barbina, four more cases of mesothelioma have been reported in women who washed their husbands' work clothes. See: L’amianto ora colpisce i figli degli operai [Asbestos now strikes the workers' children].
 

Setback: Asbestos Program

Aug 22, 2017

The National Fund for Environmental Protection and Water Management has withdrawn funding for the asbestos removal program for Poland’s northern state of Warmia and Mazury. Subsidies available for carrying out remediation work have been reduced as a result of which applications for state assistance have decreased. Under a mandatory national scheme, all regions have until 2032 to eliminate asbestos contamination; failure to comply will incur heavy penalties. Experts believe there are still more than 200,000 tonnes of contaminated material in the state. See: Azbest zostanie z nami na dłużej. Narodowy fundusz wycofuje się z programu [Asbestos will stay with us longer. National fund withdraws from the program].
 

Toxic Asbestos Legacy

Aug 20, 2017

Even if asbestos is banned in Brazil, as many experts believe will happen as a result of a landmark Supreme Court decision expected on August 23, many people will die from toxic workplace or environmental exposures. Welcoming the end of asbestos use, former asbestos worker and President of the Brazilian Association of the Asbestos-Exposed (ABREA) Eliezer João de Souza told journalists that there is a lot of work to do in supporting the injured and eradicating the asbestos hazard from the Brazilian infrastructure. See: O amianto no Brasil está com os dias contados, diz ex-funcionário [The days are numbered for asbestos use in Brazil says former employee].
 

Another Brazilian Ban!

Aug 18, 2017

A bill to end the use of asbestos in Mato Grosso do Sul State, Brazil was presented on Tuesday, August 15, 2017 to the state legislature by Representative Eduardo Rocha, who claimed such action was needed to protect public and occupational health. The proposed law would prohibit the installation or purchase of asbestos-containing products, materials or artifacts. Several other Brazilian states have already banned asbestos. They include: Santa Catarina, Rio de Janeiro, Rio Grande do Sul, Pernambuco, São Paulo, Minas Gerais and Amazonas See: Projeto de lei busca vedar a utilização do amianto no MS [Bill Bans Prohibition of Asbestos Use in MS].
 

Asbestos: At Home

Aug 18, 2017

In a public demonstration by Greenpeace in the National Park of Bogotá on August 15, 2017, demands were made that Eternit, one of Colombia’s biggest asbestos companies, ban asbestos from its products. Greenpeace members mounted a performance set within a typical living room illustrating the hazards to family members of living with asbestos and products containing it. A bill to ban the commercial exploitation of asbestos, still mined and used in Colombia, is being considered by the Senate. See: Greenpeace pide a Eternit dejar de producir productos con asbestos [Greenpeace calls on Eternit to stop producing asbestos products].
 

Asbestos in the Outback

Aug 18, 2017

Asbestos widely used in Australia after the Second World War to develop urban areas is also prevalent in remote rural communities. An innovative program by the Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency, the result of consultation with communities in rural areas, is being run in collaboration with the Government of the Northern Territory, employing asbestos specialists to train local people to remove asbestos from their communities and other areas. One particular challenge is the distance from licensed asbestos disposal sites. New community waste facilities are being developed to accept asbestos debris. See: Fighting the scourge of asbestos in remote communities.
 

Victory For Victims!

Aug 18, 2017

Spain’s Supreme Court has this summer upheld a ruling condemning the Uralita asbestos company for the mesothelioma deaths of two women who were exposed to asbestos whilst washing their husbands’ contaminated work clothes; both men had worked for decades at the company’s Getafe factory – from the 1960s. The Court awarded compensation of €180,000 to each family. See: El Supremo confirma una indemnización de 360.000 euros a los familiares de dos mujeres fallecidas por Amianto [Supreme Court confirms compensation of 360,000 euros for relatives of women killed by asbestos].
 

Court Removes Asbestos

Aug 16, 2017

Acting Chief Justice Nishiata Mhatre and Justice Tapabrata Chakraborty have this week directed that asbestos-containing sheeting on the roofs of at least 10 courtrooms, the portico, 5 bar association rooms, the Bar Library, the study of the Bar Association and the department of the first assistant registrar in Kolkata’s High Court be removed. The toxic building material will be replaced with safer alternatives according to the orders handed down by the justices. This action has been taken after litigation was brought in 2016 by local resident Ashis Mitra. See: No more asbestos in HC: Acting Chief Justice.
 

Asbestos: The Human Cost

Aug 16, 2017

To quantify the economic costs of lung cancer and mesothelioma cases associated with occupational and para-occupational asbestos exposure diagnosed in 2011, researchers studied data relating to 2,331 cases. Direct and indirect total costs were estimated at $C381m and $C1.5 billion in quality of life costs. The contents of this paper are, the authors say, of importance to policymakers, and support the conclusion that the “economic burden of lung cancer and mesothelioma associated with occupational and para-occupational asbestos exposure is substantial.” See: The economic burden of lung cancer and mesothelioma due to occupational and para-occupational asbestos exposure.
 

Mesothelioma Research

Aug 15, 2017

Through its outstanding fund-raising efforts and in collaboration with the National Centre for Asbestos Related Diseases (NCARD), the Asbestos Diseases Society of Australia (ADSA) has made a generous scholarship available to provide $60,000 per year (and payment of other costs) to a suitable candidate “to grow the knowledge and expertise in mesothelioma and asbestos related diseases… (and to) directly contribute to ongoing NCARD research combating asbestos diseases…” Every year, the ADSA walk raises substantial sums for NCARD (see details of the 2017 walk, scheduled to commence on September 10). See: Asbestos Diseases Society of Australia Phd Scholarship in Mesothelioma.
 

Asbestos Liabilities

Aug 5, 2017

Amec Foster Wheeler, one of Britain’s biggest engineering groups, has announced potential future liabilities of £310m for thousands of asbestos cases most of which are expected from US claimants and all of which relate to exposures to equipment manufactured during or before the 1970s. In figures released a few weeks ago, the company reported 3,800 US claims in 2016, up from 3,420 claims in 2015, many of which were for mesothelioma or lung cancer. Amec Foster Wheeler has quantified the projected figures saying that the predictions are “subject to a number of uncertainties.” See: Amec Foster Wheeler faces £310m bill to settle asbestos-related claims.
 

General Electric: Restitution

Aug 14, 2017

Advocates for former General Electric (GE) workers exposed to occupational toxins, including asbestos, are campaigning for automatic compensation from the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board. Lobbying for injured Canadian workers and family members, the Occupational and Environmental Health Coalition –Peterborough is calling for “presumptive entitlement” to compensation for illnesses contracted as a result of exposure to carcinogens used at GE’s Peterborough plant. See: More for Automatic compensation for General Electric Peterborough retirees exposed to toxins remains goal of Occupational and Environmental Health Coalition.
 

Another delay!

Aug 14, 2017

The long-awaited Supreme Court decision regarding the constitutionality of asbestos use in Brazil, the world’s third largest asbestos producer, scheduled to be handed down on August 10, 2017, brought many people to Brasilia including veteran ban asbestos campaigners Fernanda Giannasi and Eliezer João de Souza from the Brazilian Group of the Asbestos-Exposed (ABREA). After the vote of Justice Dias Toffoli, however, the proceedings were suspended until August 17. See: ‘Atenção, contém amianto’: STF julga futuro da polêmica fibra, comum em telhados no Brasil [‘Attention, contains asbestos’: STF judges future of controversial fiber, common on roofs in Brazil].
 

Ban Asbestos Bill

Aug 14, 2017

Senator Nadia Blel presented a proposal to ban asbestos, entitled the Ana Cecilia Niño bill in honor of a deceased mesothelioma sufferer, to the Colombian Congress on August 2, 2017, highlighting the toxicity of the substance and the scores of countries which had already banned its use. (see August 8, 2017 TV interview with Senator Blel). The motivation of the ban asbestos project was, said the Senator, to protect “the health of Colombians.” A 5-year phase-out period is proposed to allow industries to make the transition to safer technologies. See: Nadia Blel radica proyecto de Ley “Ana Cecilia Niño” en contra del Asbesto [Nadia Blel’s bill “Ana Cecilia Niño” against Asbestos].
 

School Decontamination

Aug 14, 2017

A collaborative project between private enterprise and school officials has succeeded in remediating asbestos contamination at Laerskool Hoeveld, a primary school in the South African City of Mpumalanga. During the Summer vacation, commercial asbestos specialists and staff from local businesses removed asbestos-containing products and refurbished the school premises. Commenting on this project, school principal Danie Heese said: “It was such a wonderful surprise for the children when they returned to school. They were buzzing with excitement about the upgraded facilities.” See: Hazardous asbestos cleared from Mpumalanga school.
 

Asbestos at the Opera

Aug 11, 2017

One week after the discovery (July 24) of asbestos in service ducts at the Sydney Opera House where 25 electricians had been working, the Electrical Trades Union issued an order stopping work by its members on the $200 million renovation program. The exposed tradesmen had not been issued with protective clothing to work with the toxic material, nor had they received mandatory training for such work. The Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union is considering the possibility of further bans on the site. SafeWork NSW is investigating the asbestos discovery. See: Union bans workers from Sydney Opera House renovation after asbestos found.
 

Mesothelioma: Victory!

Aug 11, 2017

The long-dreaded Review of Civil Litigation Costs: Supplemental Report Fixed Recoverable Costs – known more succinctly as the Jackson Report – which was published at the end of last month (July, 2017), made an exception for mesothelioma and other asbestos-related lung disease claims as specified on pages 101 and 102; on page 65, the report also highlighted the value of input received from the Asbestos Victims Support Groups Forum (AVSGF) on March 10, 2017: “The general view of the AVSGF was that such cases were not suited to FRC [Fixed Recoverable Costs].” See: Review of Civil Litigation Costs: Supplemental Report Fixed Recoverable Costs.
 

Asbestos Acknowledgement

Aug 1, 2017

A fact sheet in the Canadian Environmental Health Atlas issued by the Research Council of Canada has highlighted the repercussions of asbestos production and use at home and the impact of exposures to Canadian asbestos abroad. In Canada, asbestos is “one of the leading causes of occupationally-related cancer deaths… most asbestos-related diseases are first detected long after exposure to the mineral.” The international sale of Canadian asbestos over many decades and the long latency period of asbestos-related diseases mean that “in developing countries using Canadian asbestos today, an increase in mesothelioma deaths can be expected in future.” See: Asbestos Production in Canada.
 

Asbestos Phase-Out

Jul 30, 2017

As the Brazilian Supreme Court prepares to recommence hearings on the unconstitutionality of asbestos use, an article has revealed that most asbestos-using companies in Brazil have either transitioned to safer technologies or have signed agreements with the Public Labor Ministry to end use by 2018. Only Eternit, the owner of Brazil’s sole asbestos mine, and Precon remain committed to asbestos use. While Precon has been ordered to phase out the use of asbestos in its manufacturing of tiles by September 2018, Eternit refuses to discuss the subject. See: Amianto: de 9 empresas, 7 já deixaram de usar a fibra ou vão abandoná-la até 2018 [Asbestos: of 9 companies, 7 have already stopped using the fiber or will abandon it by 2018].
 

Asbestos Alert

Jul 28, 2017

In the Newcastle Advertiser, a newspaper serving South Africa’s third largest city in KwaZulu-Natal Province, Occupational Hygienist Paul Muchemi details the legacy of decades of asbestos consumption in the only country where all three types of asbestos – crocidolite, amosite and chrysotile – were produced. Although asbestos was banned in 2001, the imminent hazards posed by its presence continue. Muchemi recommended that asbestos audits be carried out and that hazardous material be disposed of via trained and regulated asbestos removal contractors. Action should be prioritized when asbestos-containing material is damaged or deteriorating, he said. See: Asbestos, the hidden killer.
 

Basque Asbestos Ruling

Jul 28, 2017

In October 2016, aged 61, José Luis R.S. died from, mesothelioma, a year after his occupational disease was recognized. The Basque High Court has this week rejected an appeal by his employer Garay Recubrimientos (Garay Coatings) of a claimant’s ruling from the Social Court; the company has been ordered to pay compensation of ~€450,000 to the wife and children of the deceased. From 1986 to 1999, José Luis R.S. had been employed by the company to repair steam pipes which necessitated the handling of asbestos insulation; at no time was he provided with respiratory protection. See: Una empresa deberá pagar 450.000 € a la familia de un fallecido poramianto [A company must pay €450,000 to the family of a deceased asbestos victim].
 

Dangers of Asbestos Exposure

Jul 28, 2017

A new Brazilian website and outreach campaign have been launched to raise awareness of the ubiquity of asbestos and hazards relating to its continuing production and use in Brazil. Information available from these sources highlights high risk occupations, such as working in the construction industry, and the public health risk to family members and members of the public living near asbestos processing facilities. The opposition to Brazil’s banning asbestos comes from vested economic interests determined to preserve the status quo. See: Amianto causa cancer [Asbestos causes cancer].
 

£1.27m Asbestos Fine

Jul 27, 2017

Southwark Crown Court imposed a £1.27 million fine on Balfour Beatty and two subcontractors who were, it found, been responsible for asbestos exposures which occurred on July 24, 2012 during refurbishment work at a school in Waltham Forest. Commenting on the verdict, HSE inspector Sarah Robinson said: “The principal contractor and contractors on site did not review the survey report in detail, and did not take into consideration the multitude of caveats. Therefore the work undertaken did not adopt the high standards of control expected for working where there was the potential to expose workers to asbestos.” See: Balfour and subcontractors hit with £1.27m in asbestos fines.
 

Ban Asbestos Dialogue

Jul 26, 2017

Three days of asbestos awareness events began today in Jakarta organized by local campaigning groups in partnership with Australia’s Union Aid Abroad, the International Ban Asbestos Secretariat, the Asian Ban Asbestos Network and others. The speakers at today’s trade union workshop at the Legal Aid Institute include Associate Prof. Dr Yv Viger (Canada) and campaigners M. Darisman (Indonesian Ban Asbestos Network) and Bernawan Sinaga, from the Ministry of Manpower. In the coming days, events focusing on the medical management of asbestos-related diseases and the development of a national ban asbestos road map will also take place. See: Photograph of Jakarta seminar July 26, 2017.
 

Court Action against Regulators

Jul 26, 2017

The Bihar State Pollution Control Board (BSPCB) has withdrawn a certificate which had allowed asbestos factory units belonging to companies from Tamil Nadu to operate in Bhojpur, Bihar. Despite the BSPCB’s actions, the factories are still manufacturing asbestos products. Legal actions regarding the companies’ actions are ongoing before the Patna High Court. A case against the BSPCB, Bihar Industrial Area Development Authority (BIADA) and the State of Bihar has also been filed by one of the asbestos companies. The next court hearing will be on August 7. See: Nibhi asbestos company in Patna High Court after cancellation of its permission by Pollution Control Board.
 

Asbestos Contamination

Jul 25. 2017

The legacy of asbestos use throughout the built environment is a serious concern of Jeffrey Headley who, before he retired in 2013, was the head of the Barbados Environmental Protection Department. In an interview with the Sunday Sun newspaper, Headley said that although he had hoped that the removal of asbestos roofing material would be prioritized by the government, he has in the last few years seen little evidence of this happening. Headley confirmed that many buildings – such as the Queen Elizabeth Hospital – and state housing units still had the original asbestos sheeting first installed on roofs when the premises were constructed. See: Health hazard.
 

Asbestos Hazard: Thailand

Jul 25, 2017

On July 24, Canadian and Thai colleagues took part in an International Asbestos Seminar entitled Canadian Ban Asbestos Policy 2018, at Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok. Featured speakers included Associate Prof. Dr Yv Bonnier Viger (Canada), Prof. Dr Pornchai Sithisarankul, Associate Prof. Dr Wantanee Phanprasit and representatives of the National Health Commission, the Department of Disease Control, the Council of Work and Environment Related Patient Network and government units. The prime focus of the day was to understand national strategies for minimising the occurrence of asbestos-related diseases through banning asbestos use. See photo: Invitation to Thailand Asbestos Seminar.
 

Progress: Asbestos Ban

Jul 24, 2017

Following meetings and discussions held last week in Hanoi about the deadly asbestos hazard, media reports have been published documenting increased government support for a national asbestos ban by 2020 to eliminate asbestos-related diseases. Simultaneously, industry-informed articles (see: Business anxiety before the proposed ban on white asbestos) have appeared, denying that any occupationally-linked cases of the asbestos cancer mesothelioma had been diagnosed, that smoking caused mesothelioma and that white asbestos was an essential resource for Vietnam. See: Tiến tới dừng sử dụng amiăng trắng tại Việt Nam [Towards stopping the use of white asbestos in Vietnam].
 

Good Omen?

Jul 24, 2017

A former asbestos factory in Chongqing, a major manufacturing city in southwest China, has been transformed into a space for artistic exhibitions and installations. Commenting on this news, the author of an online Chinese article asserts that this development heralds a new era for the Chinese economy in which “heavy industry businesses trapped in overcapacity and environmental problems are being shut down across the country and removed from urban areas to make way for services and consumer industries.” See: 中国昔日工厂正变身艺术园区 外媒:用创意产业擦亮“锈带” [Former asbestos factory in China transformed into art gallery].
 

Asbestos Oil Rig Hazard

Jul 23, 2017

On July 21, 2017, Cork City coroner Philip Comyn backed a jury’s recommendation that the historic risks of toxic asbestos exposures to oil rig workers be brought to the attention of the Department of Jobs, after deciding that the death of a 64-year-old Limerick man James O’Brien on June 6, 2016, months after he had been diagnosed with peritoneal mesothelioma, was due to occupational exposures. Mr. O’Brien had worked as a general labourer on oil rigs off Ireland in the 1980s. The family’s solicitor Raymond Bradley asked the jury to recommend that a review be undertaken of Irish workers from the oil rig industry to assess their exposures to asbestos. See: Call for screenings of oil rig workers.
 

Asbestos: Parliamentary Dossier

Jul 23, 2017

In the aftermath of a recent pronouncement by the public prosecutor’s office that criminal investigations relating to France’s asbestos scandal would be dropped against civil servants, politicians and businessmen, the Minister of Health Agnes Buzyn and the Minister of Labor Muriel Pénicaud faced hostile questioning last week by members of the National Assembly and the Senate demanding justice for the thousands of French people condemned to early deaths by the government’s collusion with the asbestos industry. Defending the government’s position, Ministers cited the existence of FIVA, a national compensation fund, and a 3-year inter-ministerial plan. See: Deux ministres interpellés sur l'affaire de l'amiante [Two ministers challenged over asbestos case].
 

Asbestos in Schools

Jul 23, 2017

The results of a survey conducted by the National Union of Teachers informs a new commentary in the Health and Safety Bulletin which concludes that the eradication of asbestos-containing materials from all schools must be a priority: “Schools are unlike the majority of other workplaces in that majority of their occupants are children, who engage in normal, but boisterous, behaviours that are likely to disturb asbestos.” Despite the widespread nature of the problem, the HSE has no plans to investigate the 100+ English schools which gave authorities “significant cause for concern.” See: Managing asbestos in schools is no longer a sensible option.
 

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].
 

Asbestos Hazard

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].
 

Surveillance Aid

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.
 

Asbestos Strike

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.
 

Brazil-Italian Coalition

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].
 

More Lies!

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].
 

Industry Offensive

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.
 

Chrysotile Update

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.
 

Asbestos Treachery

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].
 

Asbestos Ban!

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.
 

Asbestos in Schools

Jun 28, 2017

A commentary published in The Guardian on June 27, 2017 highlights the downgrading of fire safety at schools which has taken place under Conservative governments. It documents failures to include asbestos as part of 2014 infrastructure audits and condemns the lack of data on the schools’ asbestos hazard. Outraged author Lola Okolosie writes: “Our collective attitude to asbestos in schools mirrors the same sleepwalking into disaster that comes from viewing rigorous safety standards as more rigmarole than necessity. In the wake of the fire at Grenfell Tower, we have a simple choice: we choose to be safe.” See: We cannot compromise safety in schools. Asbestos must be removed.
 

Remediation at Schools

Jun 28, 2017

After a series of articles detailing the existence and consequences of widespread asbestos contamination in schools in South Africa’s Gauteng Province, Panyaza Lesufi, Member of the Executive Council for Education in Gauteng announced in a budget speech made at the Provincial Legislature on June 27, 2017, that: “We intend to use the R40 billion budget that has been allocated to us to kick-start the eradication of both the asbestos [in] schools and [in] the mobile schools within the schooling environment.” See: Gauteng education wants to eradicate asbestos at schools.
 

Grenfell Tower: Asbestos

Jun 23, 2017

On June 21, 2017, Public Health England published health advice regarding toxic exposures caused by the Grenfell Tower conflagration which included a warning about the asbestos fall-out from the disaster. Attempting to minimize public concerns over the asbestos danger, the statement admitted that while asbestos-containing material had been present in the building, the asbestos fibers were “bound” within construction products and so only “very small amounts of asbestos fibres will have been dispersed … any asbestos would present a minimal additional risk to health.” See: Public health advice following the Grenfell Tower fire.
 

Mesothelioma: Temporal Patterns

Jun 23, 2017

A study on asbestos latency periods by scientists from Poland’s Nofer Institute compared data from 131 patients with pleural mesothelioma with data from a control group of 655 people in an asbestos health surveillance program. Findings were: the mesothelioma risk increased 40 years after last exposure; dose-response relationships in at-risk occupational cohorts were critical to understanding the hazard of environmental exposures; the “mesothelioma risk increases along with the increasing time since exposure termination.” See: Mesothelioma continues to increase even 40 years after exposure - Evidence from long-term epidemiological observation.
 

Protest: Ban Asbestos

Jun 23, 2017

A video uploaded to youtube on June 16, 2017 documents a dramatic ban asbestos demonstration mounted in Bogota, Colombia by Greenpeace that featured “patients” lying in hospital beds struggling to breathe, attached to oxygen cylinders with the name of the country’s biggest asbestos company “Eternit” written on them. Surrounding the scene taken from a hospital ward were banners with the equation Eternit = asbestos = cancer on them. See: Eternit enferma a Colombia! [Eternit makes Colombia sick!]. (For more on Eternit’s role in the national asbestos debate see: Asbestos in Colombia.)
 

Asbestos Shipbreaking Death

Jun 22, 2017

On June 21, 2017, the Bangladesh Occupational Safety, Health and Environment Foundation (OSHE) reported the death of asbestosis sufferer Mohammad. Ridwan, aged 55. The former shipbreaking worker had worked for 20 years as a cutterman at the KSRM Steel Yard in Shitalpur, Shitakunda, Chittagong. During that time, he had routinely been exposed to asbestos; he was diagnosed with 80% disability at an asbestos outreach diagnosis camp set up by the OSHE in Chittagong and had been receiving treatment from the OSHE Workers Health Clinic at Shitakunda, Chittagong. He died on June 11, 2017. See: Photo of Mr. Ridwan in 2016.
 

ACT Asbestos Hazard

Jun 22, 2017

Research released by scientists from the Australian National University, based on death registrations and cancer databases over a 30-year period up to 2013, has found a two and a half increased risk of mesothelioma in men who lived in Mr Fluffy loose-fill asbestos houses in Canberra. Chief health officer Paul Kelly said the findings showed that while mesothelioma remained very rare in the ACT (Australian Capital Territory) “there is a higher risk for males living in the houses.” The study also found higher rates of colorectal cancers including bowel cancer among Mr Fluffy residents. See: Mr Fluffy asbestos: Male residents at increased risk of contracting mesothelioma.
 

Eternit Defeated!

Jun 21, 2017

On June 20, 2017, Eternit announced it would accept a March 2017 verdict which said the company had caused the death of Françoise Jonckheere by failing to control hazardous asbestos exposures despite knowing that such exposures could harm human health. Speaking outside the court on the day that ruling was announced her son Eric said: “Ils savaient!” [They knew!] On Tuesday, an Eternit spokesperson said: “Eternit is also of the opinion that the principle of fair compensation as defined in the judgment of the Court of Appeal of Brussels is in conformity to its own policy. For this reason Eternit decided not to appeal.” See: Procès de l’amiante: Eternit n’ira pas en cassation [Asbestos trial: Eternit will not go to Supreme Court].
 

Asbestos in Schools

Jun 21, 2017

Part one of a three-part series investigating the asbestos hazard in schools in the Gauteng Province of South Africa, which was published yesterday, reported that while 29 Gauteng schools are built entirely or predominately of asbestos materials and have been listed for replacement, another 214 partially built with asbestos materials have not. Part two examines the health risks posed to children and staff of the asbestos contamination and part three highlights the inconsistencies in advice provided by the Gauteng education department about the asbestos hazard. See: More than 200 Gauteng schools contain asbestos. Here’s where they are.
 

WHO: Asbestos Report

Jun 20, 2017

A 48-page report, in English and Russian, published this month by the World Health Organization provides yet more evidence for policy makers looking to ban asbestos use in their countries. The authors conclude: “Overall, the trends show that the global asbestos industry is shrinking… its continued use carries substantial costs, including those related to health, remediation and litigation. Countries that continue to produce and consume asbestos will sustain substantial health costs, and… perhaps even greater remediation and litigation costs.” See: Asbestos: Economic Assessment of Ban and Declining Production and Consumption (for Russian version click here).
 

Asbestos Imports: No Prosecutions

Jun 19, 2017

Testimony to a hearing of the Australian Senate confirmed that the Australian Border Force (ABF) had made 40 detections of illegal asbestos imports this year; since it was established 2 years ago, the ABF has imposed only 3 financial penalties for illegal asbestos imports. Commenting on this hazardous situation, Dave Noonan, General National Secretary for the CFMEU, said: “If this soft touch approach to prosecutions continues we’ll have no choice but to consider banning certain building products from certain countries on health & safety grounds until Minister Dutton is willing to take decisive action.” See: Detection of illegal asbestos imports triple, but still no prosecutions.
 

Asbestos and Human Rights

Jun 19, 2017

A one-day hearing is being held in Brussels on June 23, 2017 by the United Nations Special Rapporteur Michel Forst on the safety of human rights defenders working in the field of business and human rights. Information received at this hearing as well as input from a public consultation will be part of a report presented to the UN General Assembly in October 2017. Fernanda Giannasi, a retired Brazilian Labor Inspector, will testify on Thursday about the death threats, attacks and intimidation she has faced in Brazil during her campaign for asbestos justice and a national asbestos ban. See: Report on the Situation of human rights defenders working in the field of business and human rights.
 

Mesothelioma Research

Jun 19, 2017

The June 2017 newsletter of the National Centre for Research on Asbestos Diseases (NCARD) has been published; included is news regarding NCARD personnel and progress achieved by Australian victims’ groups. The lead article details awards recently bestowed upon NCARD senior researcher Joost Lesterhuis for his work in identifying new treatments for mesothelioma. On page two is a feature about the stunning fund-raising efforts of the Asbestos Diseases Society of Australia which has just announced that it will fund a three and a half year PhD scholarship, to be supervised by NCARD’s Professor Nowak, into translational mesothelioma research. See: PDF version of NCARD newsletter, June 2017
 

Where is the Justice?

Jun 17, 2017

On June 15, 2017, a Milan court cleared 8 former managers of the Breda Termomeccanica-Ansaldo engineering company of charges related to asbestos deaths of 12 workers at its plant in Milan between the 1970s and 1985. Prosecutors, who accused the defendants of being “gravely culpable,” had asked for sentences of up to 4 years and 11 months. Friends and relatives of the Breda dead voiced their disappointment and held up a banner saying: “Remember all the workers killed in the name of profit.” In February and May, Milan courts acquitted ENEL (National Board of Electricity) and Fiat managers of charges related to 18 occupational asbestos deaths. See: Breda-Ansaldo ex-execs cleared in asbestos trial.
 

Asbestos in Prison

Jun 17, 2017

Canadian contractor Don Garrett must certainly rue the day when he won a contract to undertake plumbing work at Kent Institution, a maximum security federal prison in Agazziz, British Columbia. The businessman had no idea that routine work at the facility would expose him and his employees to asbestos nor that the stand he was forced to take over the failure of the authorities to inform him of the known hazard would cast him in the role of whistleblower. Despite nine years of enquiries and discussions with local and federal officials, the situation remains unresolved. See: B.C. contractor exposed to asbestos blows whistle, says government made his life a ‘nightmare’.
 

Support for Ban

Jun 17, 2017

Leading medical experts from Brazil’s National Cancer Institute have condemned the country’s continuing use of asbestos in a commentary published on June 15. Comparing the Brazilian with the United States asbestos legacy, authors Drs. Ubirani Otero and Ana Cristina Pinho suggest that: consumers do not buy asbestos-containing products; unions maintain active surveillance of workers in at-risk trades; and legislators implement national regulations to abolish the use of all forms of asbestos in Brazil. Brazil is currently the world’s third largest producer of chrysotile (white) asbestos. See: Brasil sem Amianto [Brazil without asbestos].
 

Asbestos-free Water

Jun 17, 2017

A program has been announced by the municipalities of Chania and Kissamos, on the northern coast of the Greek island of Crete, to replace asbestos water pipes as part of planned improvements to the water supply network which will reduce leakages and save energy. Announcing the plans last week, the Mayor of Kissamos Thodoris Stathakis said that the new network will be the same length as the old one necessitating the replacement of 4,500 meters of contaminated pipes and that “the aim of the municipal authority is the continuous improvement of the quality of life of our citizens and visitors.” See: Χανιά: Νέο δίκτυο ύδρευσης θα κατασκευαστεί στο δήμο Κισσάμου [Chania: A new water supply network will be built in the municipality of Kissamos].
 

Calls for India Ban

Jun 16, 2017

A commentary by activist Jagdish Patel, national coordinator of the Occupational and Environmental Health Network of India, uploaded on June 15 has called into question continuing government support for the country’s asbestos sector by highlighting statistics which document the high toll being taken by dangerous exposures to asbestos, citing a report by the Ministry of Labour and Employment which said: “It is also high time that the government take initiative in formulating a national plan for prevention and control of silicosis and asbestosis in India…” See: Need for urgent action to protect workers from exposure to Chrysotile form of Asbestos fibers.
 

Asbestos: New Technology

Jun 16, 2017

On June 15, 2017, PhD student Matthew Govorko from Western Australia’s Curtin University released a free app for Android and Apple devices to help D-I-Y renovators evaluate the level of asbestos risk in their homes. According to Mr Govorko: “The app guides users through a series of questions, aided by photographs, to identify the potential level of risk in and around their homes before they start to renovate… Once they have completed the questionnaire through the app, they are offered a series of recommendations about what action to take based on the level of risk identified for each product.” See: New app maps the prevalence of asbestos in WA homes.
 

New Mesothelioma Trial

Jun 15, 2017

An article uploaded to the Mesothelioma Circle website on June 14, 2017 discussed a new collaboration by two pharmaceutical companies, which are commercial competitors, to progress the search for an effective immunotherapy treatment for mesothelioma. Thirty-five mesothelioma patients who have unsuccessfully tried one or two other types of treatment will be administered Keytruda (Merck), and CRS-207 (Aduro Biotech) in 3-week cycles. If there are no safety issues and there is evidence of clinical benefit for the participants, treatment cycles could continue for up to two years. See: New Mesothelioma Clinical Trial Combines Keytruda, CRS-207.
 

Update: Asbestos Dialogue

Jun 15, 2017

The June 2017 issue of the Bulletin of the People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) includes a feature by ban asbestos campaigner Jagdish Patel entitled Government Policy & Action on Highly Hazardous Substance ASBESTOS which discusses the engagement of civil society representatives with government officials in charge of the national asbestos policy. It details rude and intimidatory behaviour by Indian bureaucrat Biswanath Sinha at a UN meeting in Geneva; in 2017 Sinha accosted asbestosis victim Rajendra Pevekar; two years previously he had done the same to Mr. Sharad Vittnal Sawant, an asbestos victim from, Mumbai. See: PUCL Bulletin, June 2017.
 

Public Asbestos Anxiety

Jun 15, 2017

The free telephone hotline operated on June 13 and 14, 2017 by the Japan Association of Mesothelioma and Asbestos-related Disease Victims and their Families received more than 1,000 calls from all over Japan on five telephone lines with long queues of calls building up from concerned citizens. The majority of questions related to the presence of asbestos-containing products in Japanese homes but there were also calls from people concerned about having contracted asbestos-related diseases. Asbestos litigation in Japan is a fairly new concept but lobbying by campaigners to access new public and private sources of support for the injured is ongoing.
 

Asbestos Workshop

Jun 15, 2017

The Asbestos Interest Group, based in the former asbestos mining area of Kuruman in the Northern Cape, is holding an asbestos workshop on June 16, South Africa’s annual Youth Day, for 120 children from the John Taolo Gaetsewe District who attend schools in asbestos contaminated areas. Subjects which will be covered in an age appropriate manner will include: the dangers of asbestos exposure, the types of asbestos-related diseases and measures for protecting residents from harmful exposures. Last year’s event was a great success as can be seen by the picture below. See: Photo from asbestos activities in Kuruman area on June 16, 2016.
 

Shipyard Victory

Jun 15, 2017

John Fenech, who died of asbestosis in 2011, had worked at the state-owned Malta Drydocks from age 14 until 57. A claim brought by his widow and children that his fundamental human right to protection of life and health had been violated has been recognized by Mr Justice Mark Chetcuti whose ruling condemned the Chief Government Medical Officer and the Attorney General for failing to act on the asbestos hazard. Concluding that Mr. Fenech’s death resulted from a serious omission by the defendants, the Judge awarded the family €9,000; the claimants are appealing the low level of the judgment. See: Compensation for heirs of worker who died after asbestos exposure.
 

Russian Asbestos Immunity

Jun 14, 2017

As the injured wait to see whether a criminal trial will proceed against French asbestos businessmen and their conspirators, an article on the website “franceinfo” considers Russia’s thriving asbestos industry. Asbestos mining began in the Urals in 1885 and is now a mega-industry with enormous political and economic influence; so much so that Russian data on the incidence of asbestos disease is unavailable. Disparaging ban asbestos campaigners as part of a Western conspiracy, Russia continues to market asbestos primarily to low-income countries like India or countries in Southeast Asia. See: C'est comment ailleurs? L'amiante en Russie [How is it elsewhere? Asbestos in Russia].
 

Asbestos Removal Subsidy

Jun 14, 2017

A new scheme has been put in place by the Friuli Venezia Giulia Region in Italy to assist private individuals to remove and dispose of asbestos in residential buildings. A €1,500 grant can be obtained by the owner, co-owner or tenant to enable them to employ a specialist contractor to carry out the work. It is hoped that this scheme will serve as a template for other local governments eager to expurgate asbestos contamination from their infrastructures. See: Friuli Venezia Giulia: aiuti economici ai privati per rimuovere e smaltire l’amianto [Friuli Venezia Giulia: economic aid for private individuals to remove and dispose of asbestos].
 

Asbestos: Public Housing

Jun 13, 2017

A new survey has revealed that asbestos was used in the construction of 22,000 public housing apartments in Japan. Professor Takehiko Murayama from the Tokyo Institute of Technology has estimated that this contamination could have damaged the health of more than 230,000 people. One former resident, 53-year-old Kazuko Saito, was diagnosed with mesothelioma in 2015; she had lived in contaminated public housing from 1963 until 1984. On June 13 and 14, The Japan Association of Mesothelioma and Asbestos-related Disease Victims and their Families will operate a free hotline for enquiries related to asbestos exposures. See: Former resident develops mesothelioma.
 

Will the US ban asbestos?

Jun 13, 2017

A commentary just published in The Millbank Quarterly by David Rosen considers the likelihood of the United States following through on plans to ban asbestos under a Trump Presidency. With the evisceration of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the appointment of Scott Pruitt as the new EPA administrator and statements made by Donald Trump that asbestos was “100 percent safe,” and that the “movement against asbestos was led by the mob,” Rosen predicts “that the movement to end the use of this deadly material is itself doomed.” See: Deregulating Safety: The Case of the Effort to Ban Asbestos.
 

Great New Union Resource

Jun 13, 2017

On June 8, 2017, the Building and Woodworkers’ International (BWI) launched a new website in English, French, Spanish and German – Russian and Arabic versions are also planned – to provide useful information for workers in the construction and other sectors including its 12 million members in 334 trade unions from 130 countries. Since the mid-1980s, the BWI has lobbied for the banning of asbestos, working closely with ban asbestos groups and occupational health and safety campaigners around the world. See: New website of the Building and Woodworkers’ International.
 

Scandal: Killer Sites!

Jun 13, 2017

A devastating indictment of neglect by local authorities in New South Wales (NSW), Australia has revealed that people in nearly 200 homes in the Sydney area could have unknowingly been living on or near former disposal sites belonging to the James Hardie asbestos company. Furthermore, a new media expose revealed that the government had known about this situation for at least a decade. Reacting to this news John McMillan, acting NSW Ombudsman, said “This situation is unacceptable and must be dealt with as an urgent priority.” See: Asbestos risk: Sydney residents living on James Hardie disposal sites.
 

Asbestos in Schools

Jun 12, 2017

An investigation by the Sunday Mail newspaper has reported the presence of asbestos in nearly half of Scotland’s schools (1,638 premises) including state nurseries, primaries and secondaries: “Glasgow, Edinburgh, Fife, Aberdeenshire and the Highlands each contained more than 100 affected schools.” Victims, family members and campaigners such as Phyllis Craig, of Clydeside Action on Asbestos, are calling for urgent action. “Councils say the risk is minimal and they put every precautionary measure in place,” says Ms. Craig “but if there’s no asbestos, there’s no risk.” See: Asbestos timebomb for 1600 schools as campaigners claim pupils face classroom cancer risk.
 

Asbestos Scandal

Jun 12, 2017

A June 9, 2017 exposé in the Mainichi Shimbun, one of Japan’s major newspapers, revealed that between September 2012 and April 2016 customs bureaus in Tokyo, Osaka and Kobe allowed the import of asbestos-containing products despite prohibitions under the Industrial Safety and Health Act. According to the article, dealers in eight cases were asked to subsequently sanitize import declarations. Details of this scandal were obtained following the submission by staff from the Mainichi of an information disclosure request and an official complaint to the Minister of Finance. See: 3 customs bureaus suspected of asking dealers to cover up asbestos imports.
 

Calls for Remediation of Asbestos Waste

Jun 12, 2017

On June 9, 2017 the legislature of Castilla-La Mancha (C-LM), an autonomous community of Spain, approved a resolution submitted by the Podemos campaign and the People’s Political Party urging the regional executive to conduct a “comprehensive” environmental asbestos audit with particular attention to the city of Toledo and its environs where local people are calling for the immediate remediation of 90,000 tonnes of asbestos-contaminated waste in and around their neighborhoods. See: Podemos y PP instan a Junta a realizar un plan para retirar residuos de amianto y estudiar su presencia en C-LM [Podemos and PP urge the legislature to make a plan to identify and remove asbestos contamination in C-LM].
 

Court Victory!

Jun 12, 2017

In a very strongly worded judgment, a São Paulo court awarded a former Eternit worker who has contracted asbestosis, R$1 million (US$303,220) in “moral damages”; he had been employed in an administrative capacity at one of the company’s asbestos-cement factories. During the course of his employment, he had cause to enter areas where asbestos was being processed. See: Sentença de 2ª instância contra Eternit e SAMA em São Paulo condena empresas a pagar 1 milhão de reais por danos morais a ex-empregado com asbestose [Sentence of the 2nd instance against Eternit and SAMA in São Paulo condemns companies to pay 1 million reais for moral damages to ex-employee with asbestosis].
 

Pro-Asbestos Rally

Jun 12, 2017

Last week, a public rally in Jitikara, a village in the northwest of Kazakhstan, denounced the global campaign to ban asbestos. Kostani Minerals, one of the world’s largest asbestos mining companies, is a major employer in this area. Speakers at this event castigated the efforts of health and safety campaigners, international trade unionists and others who support an end to the slaughter caused by human exposures to asbestos, with threadbare and discredited rhetoric claiming that asbestos is a “natural and cheap material” which is safe to use. See: Работники хризотиловой отрасли в Казахстане встали на защиту асбеста [Chrysotile workers in Kazakhstan support asbestos protection].
 

Asbestos: Killer Fiber

Jun 12, 2017

The mesothelioma death of Isbelia Buitrago, a 41-year old architect from Colombia diagnosed in November 2015 with cancer, has been reported. In a touching TV interview broadcast on February 2, 2017, she detailed the presence of a variety of asbestos-containing products on construction sites including: tiles, tanks and pipes. Also speaking in that program was a government minister who promised Colombia would ban asbestos within 5 years. Every year, 320 people die in Colombia from asbestos exposures. See: Murió Isbelia Buitrago, la arquitecta a la que el asbesto le asfixió sus sueños [Architect Isbelia Buitrago, killed by asbestos].
 

Asbestos Mortality Report

Jun 5, 2017

According to a report by the Asian Citizen’s Center for Environment and Health (ACCEH), in the last decade 2,467 cases of asbestos-related diseases were recognized by Korea’s Environment Ministry; 1,006 (~40%), of victims died. Asbestos was widely used in construction materials. Despite a ban, there are still a large number of contaminated buildings which pose an imminent health threat, especially considering the frequency of reconstruction and renovation work. The ACCEH is calling for “an independent investigative body” to consider these matters and take action. See: Almost 10,000 Koreans suffered environmental diseases in 10 yrs: report.
 

Waste Site Controversy

Jun 5, 2017

Last week, a delegation including political and community representatives met with Professor Alberto Montanari to consider options for closing Poiatica, an inactive site where tonnes of earthquake debris, demolition and asbestos waste have been deposited. A campaign called “Stop the Landfill” is engaged in high-profile efforts to address the hazardous source of toxic exposures from the site. A study is due to be completed by the end of June. See: Comitato furibondo «L’amianto è morte»;«La chiusura è finta, vogliono mandarci 800.000 metri cubi» [Furious Committee says:“Asbestos is Death”; “The closure is false, they want to send us 800,000 cubic meters”].
 

Suva Center Remediation

Jun 5, 2017

As some businesses stayed shut due to last week’s asbestos alert in the center of Suva, the capital of the South Pacific island country of Fiji, a technical expert was predicting that remediation work could take up to two months. A report on the airborne asbestos levels in the vicinity of the affected building is expected on June 7. The city council has hired a specialist contractor to remove the toxic material. On June 2, a statement from the Ministry of Employment said that the asbestos discovery did “not present any threat to the general public” and that there was no need for the closure of schools, businesses or public buildings. See: Two Months To Clear Asbestos, Says Expert.
 

Asbestos Legacy of 9/11

Jun 4, 2017

In the aftermath of the 2011 attack on the World Trade Center (WTC), blankets of toxic dust contaminated parts of Manhattan and Brooklyn exposing millions to a multitude of toxins including asbestos. Dr Raja Flores, Chief of Thoracic Surgery at the Mount Sinai Hospital, NY, has warned that: “People are already getting sick from the asbestos and they have died from it… in 15-20 years we are going to see a serious health issue here…. We haven't even seen the tip of this iceberg yet.” Almost half a million kilograms of asbestos-containing insulation was sprayed on the first 40 storeys of the WTC. See: September 11: Death toll could rise by millions from ‘toxic’ asbestos dust.
 

Disposal of Waste

Jun 2, 2017

The presence of shipping containers containing 2,500 tonnes of asbestos waste at the docks in Jersey has been a sticking point for many years. Finally, the authorities have confirmed that at a cost of £1 million, the contents of 290 containers of asbestos have been buried in a specially lined cell at La Collette, a household reuse and recycling centre which opened on January 16, 2017. The empty containers have, so the report cited below says, been broken down for recycling. A spokesperson for Jersey’s Department for Infrastructure said that a full-time asbestos consultant was on site to oversee the work, which began in January 2017. See: 290 containers of asbestos buried at La Collette.
 

Unwelcome Discovery

Jun 2, 2017

Fijians were warned to steer clear of the Suva Civic Center area on June 1 by the Department of Information and the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Program after demolition work exposed asbestos at the Suva City Centre. According to Jone Usamate, Minister for Employment, Productivity and Industrial Relations, staff from the National Occupational Health and Safety Service are now overseeing the safe removal of the toxic material. Reminding citizens to keep their distance from the affected site, the Minister said specialists were “sealing off all the building openings and have cordoned off the surrounding areas with immediate effect.” See: Asbestos in Suva; Public urged to stay 500m away.
 

Mesothelioma mortality in Argentina

Jun 2, 2017

Using data sourced from death certificates obtained from the Vital Statistics System of Argentina’s National Ministry of Health, a new scientific paper revealed that there were 3,259 mesothelioma deaths between 1980 and 2013 and that the average increase in mesothelioma mortality over this period was 84.1%. The incidence rate was higher in men than in women and the authors believe this was due to higher rates of occupational asbestos exposures amongst the former. Argentina banned asbestos in 2001. Recommendations are made regarding suitable actions to reinforce the ban and improve occupational health surveillance for at-risk workers and the public. See: Mesothelioma mortality in Argentina, 1980-2013.
 

Trump Attack on EPA

Jun 1, 2017

Mesothelioma survivor Heather Von St James has published a scathing indictment of plans by President Trump to slash the budget of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) – the federal body tasked with protecting human health and the environment in the US–by 31%. In a commentary on The Guardian website, she writes: “Our own president has been quoted extolling the virtues of asbestos and even claiming that abatement is a mob conspiracy. The man who was chosen to head the EPA has said he remains unconvinced of the dangers of asbestos.” See: I lost my lung to asbestos. I fear what Trump will do to America’s health.
 

Asbestos Anxiety

Jun 1, 2017

On May 30, 2017, former employees from the Renault Trucks factory in Vénissieux, Lyon held a rally in front of the Lyons Labor Court to mark the filing of the first 50 of 900 cases regarding asbestos “anxiety prejudice” against Renault Trucks. The litigation is being progressed by APER, the local asbestos victims’ group, which says that many more cases are expected. According to APER official Jean-Paul Carret from 1964 till 1996 “tens of thousands of people worked on the site …” Renault Trucks has refused to negotiate with the claimants. See: Premières plaintes « amiante » à Renault Trucks aux Prud’hommes [First asbestos complaints against Renault Trucks heard by Labor Court].
 

Asbestos Hazard

Jun 1, 2017

According to a report from the Kadıköy Municipality, since asbestos regulations were introduced in 2016 to prevent the demolition of asbestos-containing buildings in the area – a densely populated district of Istanbul – 498.5 tons of asbestos waste collected from 1,517 building sites have been disposed of. Inspections at the 1,517 Kadıköy sites revealed that 446 (~30%) of them were contaminated with asbestos. Urban regeneration work by commercial firms outside of this one area are, as far as can be ascertained, carried out without public supervision or mandatory requirements regarding the asbestos hazard. See: Kadıköy'de ciddi tehlike: 498 buçuk ton asbest! [Serious danger in Kadıköy: 498 tons of asbestos!].
 

Setting a Precedent?

May 31, 2017

Deanna Trevarthen died aged 45 from mesothelioma in 2016. As a child, she had inhaled asbestos fibers brought home on her electrician father’s work clothes. Her claim for compensation was refused as she herself had not been occupationally exposed to asbestos; her lawyers are now pursuing the claim as an accident related to the inhalation of a foreign object and not a work-related accident. Proceedings in this case will begin in the Wellington District Court in September. If it succeeds, it should make it possible for other people suffering from second-hand asbestos exposures to obtain justice. See:‘Hug of death’ asbestos case could open up compensation for many cancer sufferers.
 

Crete’s Asbestos Legacy

May 31, 2017

Deteriorating buildings first owned by Greek Ministries and then passed to the Crete authorities are contaminated with asbestos. One of them, formerly run by the Ministry of Rural Development, now lies abandoned; its asbestos roof constitutes a dangerous source of pollution to people using a nearby school and living in the most densely populated area of the city of Heraklion, the capital of the island. There are plans to house a registration center for Asylum Services in this area as well as to build temporary accommodation for refugees here. See: Στη βουλή το κτίριο του δημοσίου με τον αμίαντο [State building contaminated with asbestos].
 

Asbestos Lies!

May 31, 2017

An online article in Russian boasts that the Russian Government, in collusion with others, prevented the UN from taking action on regulating the global trade in chrysotile (white) asbestos at a recent meeting in Geneva. Relying on industry misinformation, this article states that “inclusion in Annex III … means the actual prohibition of the use of the substance.” This is completely untrue; listing on Annex III requires that information by exporting countries about potential hazards be provided to potential importers so that they might make informed decisions. See: Правительство РФ заблокировало попытки запретить асбест [The Russian government blocked attempts to ban asbestos].
 

Asbestos Criminal Trial?

May 30, 2017

On June 7, 2017, authorities in the Paris Court of Appeal will hand down a long-awaited decision regarding a possible criminal trial against individuals charged with causing a national epidemic killing 3,000 people a year. Amongst the accused are senior officials from various Ministries – including Jean-François Girard, former Director-General for Health, and Jean-Luc Pasquier, a senior official of the Ministry of Labor – as well as medical specialists, industrialists and public relations personnel, all of whom promoted the use of asbestos by downplaying the deadly health hazards of human exposures. See: Amiante: une étape décisive pour un éventuel procès [Asbestos: a decisive step for a possible trial].
 

Mesothelioma “Massacre”

May 30, 2017

An Italian Parliamentary body convened to determine the asbestos hazard to service personnel has received a confidential report by Raffaele Guariniello – the retired public prosecutor who became famous during the Turin trial of foreign asbestos entrepreneurs – which documented a vast underestimate of officially recognized mesothelioma deaths amongst the military. The existence of the “hidden massacre” was due to the practice whereby only deaths of serving personnel are included in mortality statistics and not those of retired personnel. See: Amianto killer, la ‘strage nascosta’ tra i militari [Asbestos killer, the ‘hidden massacre’ among the military].
 

Ban Asbestos Dialogue

May 30, 2017

On May 8, 2017 an asbestos hearing was held by the Commission of Human Rights at the Federal Senate in Brasília. Amongst those participating were representatives of ABREA (the Brazilian Association of the Asbestos-Exposed) and the International Federation of Asbestos Workers, a body which alleges that white asbestos – the only asbestos mined in Brazil – can be produced and used safely. Other speakers presented the positions of trade unions, the Public Prosecutor's Office, municipal authorities from Minaçu Goiás and expert witnesses. See: Uso do amianto será debatido na Comissão de Direitos Humanos [Use of asbestos will be discussed at the Commission on Human Rights].
 

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.
 

Remembering Lou Williams

May 12, 2017

On May 9, 2017 Australian Parliamentarian Lisa Singh paid tribute to mesothelioma sufferer Lou Williams who died in April 2017 from her disease. In her comments, Senator Singh said that Ms. Williams’: “father was killed by mesothelioma at the age of 54. It took eight months. Lou fought her battle against mesothelioma for 14 years.” Recalling Lou’s compassion and commitment, the Senator listed the awards she received and the positions she held in her ongoing struggle to achieve better medical treatment and support for asbestos victims in Australia and abroad. See (on YouTube): Senator Singh’s tribute in the Senate to the late Lou Williams.
 

Courage and Tenacity

May 11, 2017

Exposing the hazards of asbestos exposure in a country where industry forces prevail is an uphill battle. Last week asbestosis sufferer Siti Kristina from Jakarta took her case to the United Nations when she told a meeting in Geneva of the tragic consequences of her workplace asbestos exposures. Interviews with Siti Kristina, Wira Ginting from Indonesia’s Local Initiative for Occupational Health and Safety Network, Dr Anna Suraya and others inform a new feature which highlighted the multiple injustices faced by those suffering from preventable asbestos-related diseases in Indonesia and the small glimmers of hope that these diseases will be officially recognized. See: Battling asbestos, one step at a time.
 

Saving lives in Perth

May 11, 2017

The Perth-based Asbestos Diseases Society of Australia (ADSA) has taken delivery of a $10,000 spirometer (for measuring lung capacity and breathing efficiency); the new instrument, a great improvement on the Society’s previous model, will contribute to early diagnoses of disease amongst its members. In an interview published this week, ADSA president Robert Vojakovic said: “Early detection is really important, a lot of people are dying needlessly.” More than 300 society members died in 2016 from asbestos-related diseases and the number of people affected is increasing due to toxic exposures which took place decades ago. The funding for this top-of-the-range equipment came from donations by ADSA members. See: Asbestos Disease Society Australia says new breathing machine a boon for patients.
 

Protests over UN Debacle

May 11, 2017

A three-minute video uploaded on May 10, 2017 by the IndustriALL Global Union highlighted the demands by trade unions and asbestos victims’ groups for the United Nations’ Rotterdam Convention to regulate the global trade in asbestos in order to protect vulnerable populations from deadly cancers and diseases. In their comments, Australian union officials stress the need for immediate action to prevent future tragedies. The footage includes interviews with Indian asbestosis victim Rajendra Pevekar and Indonesian asbestosis sufferer Siti Kristina which make manifest the deadly impact that asbestos exposure has on workers as well as on family members. See: Asbestos Kills!.
 

Act Now on Asbestos!

May 11, 2017

The Government of Canada’s plan to phase out the use of asbestos by 2018 has been criticized by Canadian Professor Jim Brophy who has said: “The latency here is enormous. Every day we allow these products to come into the country just extends the time frame in which this disease will arrive and be experienced by people in our population.” Highlighting the ongoing hazard posed by the use of asbestos-containing automotive parts, especially to DIY mechanics, Brophy added: “The full extent of the harm that has been caused is so under-reported and so under-recognized that even when you say it’s the leading cause of occupational disease and death in this country, you’re actually underestimating the full extent of it.” See: Expert urges immediate asbestos ban in Canada.
 

Unionists Call for Asbestos Action

May 11, 2017

At a press conference in Karachi on April 28, 2017, Pakistani trade unionist Nasir Mansoor, Deputy General Secretary of the National Trade Union Federation, urged “the Pakistan Government not to turn a blind eye towards the long-term hazards related to Asbestos usage and exposure" he cautioned.” During this event, which took place on International Workers Memorial Day, Mansoor and other speakers highlighted the importance of the upcoming debate in Geneva of the United Nations’ Rotterdam Convention on regulating the global trade in chrysotile (white) asbestos. See: Union workers demand ban on all forms of asbestos at upcoming UN meeting.
 

Asbestos Disconnect!

May 9, 2017

A text published today (May 9) on the website of a Kazakhstan news source delineated the discrepancy between the pro-asbestos policies of East European vested interests and the stance of the World Health Organization, the International Agency for Research on Cancer and the UN’s Rotterdam Convention, all of whom call for regulations to be imposed on the global trade of chrysotile asbestos. See: Пока ВОЗ предупреждает о риске рака от хризотилового асбеста, Кыргызстан и Казахстан отстаивают право на его использование [While WHO warns of the risk of cancer from chrysotile asbestos, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan defend the right to use it].
 

Asbestos at College

May 9, 2017

Removal and remediation costs for asbestos contamination found at the Memorial University of Newfoundland (MUN), situated in the province’s capital city of St. John’s, have been costed at $626,000. Work is now ongoing on a large section of the underground tunnel which connects six buildings serving the education, science and physical education departments. During the renovation work, due to be completed by the Autumn, most of the tunnel has been shut down with just small sections under the education and science buildings remaining open. See: University ‘munnel’ system shut down for asbestos removal.
 

Asbestos Disease in Shipbreakers

May 9, 2017

The latest issue of the Bangladesh Occupational Safety, Health & Environment Foundation (OSHE) newsletter carries a feature documenting the findings of an asbestos outreach project conducted amongst shipbreaking workers in Chittagong which revealed high levels of asbestos-related disease. Thirty-three out of the 101 workers examined were diagnosed with asbestosis. Eight of those diagnosed were 60% disabled. The OSHE has recommended the government: establish a facility to diagnose and treat individuals with asbestosis and provide specialist training for medical professionals and support for shipbreaking workers. See: The slow poison killing shipbreaking workers. OSHE Newsletter January – March 2017.
 

Calls for New Prohibitions

May 8, 2017

After a debacle at the Rotterdam Convention meeting in Geneva last week, which saw industry stakeholders block UN implementation of minimal safeguards in the global asbestos trade, calls are being made for unilateral action to protect Pacific countries in a region where no national bans have been put in place. An information vacuum exists in this area according to Project Manager Stewart Williams of an EU funded project called PacWaste; Williams says that, in addition to legacy issues in old buildings, asbestos-containing building products are still being used. See: Push for Pacific-wide ban on asbestos.
 

Mesothelioma in Doll Production

May 8, 2017

Italian scientists have published findings based on data from the Province of Brescia Mesothelioma Registry related to 757 cases of mesothelioma diagnosed between 1993 to 2016 that establish that the pleural epithelial mesotheliomas contracted by three women employed by two companies in the doll production industry were caused by occupational exposures to asbestos. Analysis of asbestos lung fiber burden enabled the causation of these patients’ diseases to be altered from “unknown” to workplace asbestos exposures. See: Pleural mesothelioma in doll manufacture: possible asbestos exposure.
 

HSE: Asbestos Failures

May 7, 2017

The Trades Union Congress has accused the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) of “complacency” and being “irresponsible” over plans to downgrade protection for at-risk workers. A new HSE audit of the effectiveness of the 2012 Control of Asbestos Regulations failed to consider the health benefits to workers of an asbestos removal policy which would eliminate toxic workplace exposures. Unsurprisingly, the HSE maintains, “that it is better to keep the regulations” than eliminate the problem in the “estimated half a million [contaminated] workplaces (and around a million homes)…” See: Asbestos – Remove this killer Dust.
 

Failing Government; Dying Workers

May 6, 2017

Two articles published last week contrasted the Indian government’s pro-asbestos policy with the country’s deadly asbestos reality, where toxic exposures experienced by millions of citizens are routine occurrences. The article India’s contentious stand on Chrysotile asbestos is a cause for concern for environmentalists, and the one cited below signpost the importance of the government’s participation in a UN meeting in Geneva which aims to protect populations from exposure to toxic chemicals and pesticides. See: Asbestos harms the health of millions of Indian workers. Will the government finally move to ban it?.
 

Student Asbestos Protests

May 6, 2017

South African high school students picketed the offices of the Department of Education in Johannesburg on Thursday, May 4, 2017 calling for the fulfilment of overdue promises to remove asbestos from 29 schools in the northern province of Gauteng. According to spokesperson Naadira Munshi “in these schools the walls and roofs made of asbestos are broken, which is resulting in the asbestos being exposed. This means learners, teachers, school staff and the community are inhaling the dangerous fibres ... in the long term this exposure can have negative life consequences for learners.” See: Gauteng learners demand replacement of asbestos buildings.
 

Asbestos Health Scandal

May 5, 2017

A commentary which appeared on May 5, 2017 on The Equal Times website documented continuing injustices meted out to Brazilian asbestos victims in a country where the use of asbestos remains legal under legislation designed to protect the country’s asbestos mining and processing industry. Between 2000 and 2011, 2,400 asbestos-related deaths were registered by the Health Ministry; there were many other deaths which remain unacknowledged. Even for those whose diseases are recognized, the process of obtaining recognition and compensation is fraught with administrative and legal obstacles. See: Asbestos ban still under debate in Brazil.
 

Asbestos Dangers in the Outback

May 5, 2017

The asbestos threat to health in remote communities in the Northern Territory, South Australia, Queensland, NSW and Western Australia was highlighted in a study by the Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency which reported that: “Indigenous corporations and land councils inherited ageing infrastructure that was full of asbestos – structures such as housing, churches and public buildings…” Unfortunately, asbestos remediation in these areas is three times as expensive as elsewhere and limited resources are available for removal and management costs. Strategies to meet the ongoing challenge are delineated in this study. See: New report highlights the impact of Australia’s asbestos legacy on remote Indigenous communities.
 

Asbestos Lies!

Apr 2, 2017

On March 30, 2017, Zimbabwe’s Deputy labour minister Tapiwa Matangaidze lied about the asbestos hazard at a Harare meeting claiming that use of asbestos produced at the Shabanie and Mashava mines was safe. IndustriALL Global Union’s Atle Hoie, also at the meeting, told journalists that the claims were “lies” saying: “the world called for the ban on asbestos after realizing it is the worst killer in the planet. If a country produces asbestos, it is responsible for the people dying.” The meeting was held in the run up to a pivotal meeting of the UN’s Rotterdam Convention where asbestos remains a hot issue topic. See: Minister lied about asbestos, says IndustriALL Global Union.
 

Asbestos Ploy

Apr 1, 2017

On the same day this week that a landmark asbestos victory was achieved by a victim’s family in Belgium, the government announced controversial changes to the operation of the national Asbestos Fund. Since it was established a decade ago, the Fund, co-financed by the state and employers, has built up a surplus. Instead of using this to compensate ineligible claimants – such as people suffering from asbestos-related lung cancer – or finance medical research, future contributions will be frozen until there is a zero surplus. See: Fonds amiante: un financement au rabais (OPINION) [Asbestos Fund: Discount Financing (OPINION)].
 

Asbestos Yes; Antimony No

Mar 27, 2017

Residents of the Russian town of Asbestos – home to a chrysotile (white) asbestos mine “nearly half the size of Manhattan” – are up in arms about plans by the National Antimony Company to build a factory processing antimony in the town. Politicians addressing a rally last week expressed concerns about the “very harmful” impact possible emissions from the plant could have on the health of local people. A petition circulated at the rally collected hundreds of signatures. Plans to build the plant in Degtyarsk were abandoned after protests. See: Тысячи граждан протестовали против нового завода Ротенберга — Асбест [Thousands of citizens protested against the new Rothenberg plant – Asbestos].
 

Mixed Fortunes of Asbestos Towns

Mar 27, 2017

At a conference last week in Quebec’s former asbestos heartland, Thetford Mines (TM) officials said they felt abandoned by the Quebec government in the aftermath of its withdrawal of support for the asbestos industry. As a result of its decision, the province’s asbestos industry became unsustainable. Despite promises of millions of dollars to help affected communities diversify their economies, according to Mayor Marc-Alexandre Brousseau: “Asbestos (town) has received 50 million to face the same impacts as us. We did not have anything.” See: Amiante: les élus de Thetford Mines se sentent abandonnés [Asbestos: The elected representatives of Thetford Mines feel abandoned].
 

Northern Territory: Update

Mar 27, 2017

Referencing outrage voiced at last week’s meeting of the Australian Labour Party, the Health Minister of the Northern Territories (NT) Natasha Fyles commented: “The Northern Territory Government takes the asbestos issues seriously and will consider all of the concerns raised at this weekend's Labor conference.” Months after media reports exposed the scandal relating to asbestos contamination of housing in Tennant Creek, the lives of residents and young children were still “being put at risk” according to trade unionist Andrew Ramsay, Vice President of an asbestos victims’ support group. See: Asbestos in NT to become responsibility of Territory Government after ALP pass motion.
 

The Great Asbestos Trial

Mar 24, 2017

A Spanish translation of an Italian book entitled: “Il grande processo” [The Great Trial] by Rosalba Altopiedi and Sara Panelli has been updated and published online this week. The authors report and analyse legal actions in Italy against Swiss asbestos magnate Stephan Schmidheiny which included criminal as well as civil proceedings for alleged crimes relating to asbestos deaths of thousands of workers and residents in Eternit towns. See: El Gran Proceso de Turín (2009-2014) contra el magnate Stephan Schmidheiny, propietario de Eternit Italia, el negocio del Amianto [The Great Trial of Turin (2009-2014) against the magnate Stephan Schmidheiny, owner of Eternit Italia, the asbestos giant].
 

Asbestos Victims Abandoned

Mar 24, 2017

Quebec’s Commission on Occupational Standards, Equity, Health and Safety is refusing compensation to many workers dying from asbestos-related diseases according to a documentary broadcast on March 23 entitled: Malades de l’amiante… et laissés pour compte [Workers with asbestos diseases .. abandoned], by Radio-Canada’s award-winning TV program, Enquête. The program detailed numerous examples of legitimate claims being obstructed by negligent employers, including public authorities, intent on minimizing future liabilities. See: Quebec: Asbestos injustice against workers continues.
 

Supporting DWP Service

Mar 24, 2017

On Tuesday, March 21, 2017, Bob Pointer, Chair of the Cumbria Asbestos Related Disease Support Group, urged Barrow Borough Council to show its support for services provided to asbestos victims in Barrow and throughout England by staff at the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) base in Phoenix House (PH), Barrow – scheduled to be shut down as a result of government cutbacks – during a speech he made to a council meeting. Pointer asked that the council write to the Secretary of State to reinforce the importance of the work done by those at PH. The leader of the council and a number of councillors are supportive of calls to safeguard the expertise of PH staff. See: Asbestos campaigner makes plea for Barrow service.
 

Kymore: Asbestos Hotspot

Mar 23, 2017

This online article highlights the deadly legacy of asbestos use and processing in the Madhya Pradesh industrial town of Kymore, in central India. Citing details from a new report by international experts, the authors state that: “Kymore seems to be built of asbestos. It is incorporated in school, playgrounds, the corrugated iron roofs of the houses of the factory workers. Many of these buildings are in bad shape and crumble. Moreover, the asbestos waste was dumped for years on meadows around the [asbestos] factory and unsafe landfill… during the period of the Belgian Etex, which was later turned into Eternit Everest.” See: Belgian report alleges MNC Etex responsible for asbestos pollution in Madhya Pradesh town Kymore.
 

Ovarian Cancer: Developments

Mar 23, 2017

On March 16, 2017, Germany’s Ministry for Labor and Social Affairs published recommendations under the accident insurance scheme to recognize asbestos-related ovarian cancer as an occupational disease under certain circumstances: the ovarian carcinoma must be associated with asbestosis or a disease of the pleura caused by asbestos and the claimant must be able to demonstrate an occupational asbestos fiber dose of at least 25 fiber years. See: Eierstockkrebs durch Asbest - Anerkennung “wie eine Berufskrankheit” möglich [Ovarian cancer from asbestos exposure recognized as an occupational disease].
 

Asbestos Seminar

Mar 23, 2017

On the agenda of a seminar in Hong Kong on March 20, 2017 were issues relating to environmental exposures of people living in asbestos-contaminated housing as well as occupational exposures to at-risk workers such as people in the construction sector. Of particular interest to many of the delegates was information presented by the Secretary General of the Pneumoconiosis Compensation Fund Board which administers the Pneumoconiosis and Mesothelioma (Compensation) Ordinance of Hong Kong. The Fund has, he said, compensated thousands of individuals including both employees and non-employees. The import, transhipment, supply and use of asbestos was banned in Hong Kong as of April 4, 2014.
 

Victory over Asbestos!

Mar 22, 2017

In a decisive verdict handed down yesterday by a court in Rio de Janeiro, the Eternit company – Brazil’s biggest asbestos manufacturer – was ordered to eliminate asbestos use within the next 18 months. The decision is a result of proceedings by the Public Ministry of Labor which had filed a civil action over hazardous workplace exposures to asbestos at Eternit’s Guadalupe, Rio de Janerio plant. Not only did the court order Eternit to transition to asbestos-free technology, but it also specified that exposure levels be kept to the legal limit and that current and former employees be provided with free medical examinations. See: Eternit do Rio de Janeiro condenada a substituir o Amianto em 18 meses [Eternit in Rio de Janeiro condemned to replace asbestos in 18 months].
 

Call for Action

Mar 22, 2017

A letter by Jagdish Patel, National Coordinator of the Occupational and Environmental Health Network of India, addressed to Anil Madhav Dave, India’s Minister of Environment and Forests, has been uploaded to the internet. In this document Mr. Patel reiterates requests that “the Government, as a party to the Rotterdam Convention, … support the amendment to the Rotterdam Convention that a group of twelve African countries have submitted to the Secretariat and that will be discussed at the COP 8.” This letter is signed by groups representing Indian workers, health activists and campaigners. See: Support amendment to Rotterdam Convention for listing of chrysotile asbestos at COP 8.
 

Increased Compensation Payments

Mar 22, 2017

On March 20, 2017 a new formula came into effect as a result of amendments to current legislation which lowered the discount rate from 2.5% to minus 0.75%. One of the results of the change made by the Ministry of Justice will be the increase of compensation payments to personal injury claimants including asbestos victims. There is no certainty that this change will be secure from attack by the insurance industry and negligent employers; the Government is consulting on this issue with vested interests such as insurers who are, no doubt, hoping the discount rate will be increased. See: New discount rate for personal injury claims announced.
 

Asbestos Progress Update

Mar 21, 2017

A Conduct Adjustment Agreement has been signed by the Public Labor Ministry in Rio de Janeiro with the construction materials company Casalite, based in the city of Duque de Caxias in the state of Rio de Janeiro, to cease using asbestos for the production of roofing tiles and gutters. This agreement is part of a Brazilian program – National Asbestos Banishment Program of the Public Labor Ministry – aimed at eliminating the use of asbestos in Brazil. See: MPT-RJ firma acordo com empresa para substituir o amianto de seus processos de produção [MPT-RJ signs agreement with company to replace asbestos from its production processes].
 

Asbestos Remediation: Update

Mar 20, 2017

According to Giorgio Demezzi, a former Mayor of Casale Monferrato, to date more than €80m has been allocated by the Italian government for asbestos remediation of the town over the last 20 years. Unfortunately, disputes are ongoing over the administrative processing and bureaucratic dispensation of remediation funds by city hall personnel. The municipality aims to make Casale Monferrato asbestos free by 2020. To that end, work is proceeding, says the current Mayor, at new construction sites. See: I conti dell’amianto in 20 anni: ecco le bonifiche. Finora trasferiti dallo Stato 80 milioni [20 years of asbestos land reclamation has, till now, cost the state 80 million].
 

Local Asbestos Initiative

Mar 17, 2017

In April 2017, a council in the western suburbs of Sydney in New South Wales, Australia is offering a number of free visual inspections to householders to alert them to the presence of asbestos in homes built in the Cumberland local government area before 1990. A scheme operated by the council for the free collection and disposal of up to 10 square meters of bonded asbestos sheeting from homes has proved popular with local people such as Grahame Duerden who had pieces of asbestos fiberboard to dispose of; this material is no longer accepted at the tip and the minimum charge for collection by a specialist company is A$140. See: Free asbestos pick ups.
 

Overseas Asbestos Crimes

Mar 16, 2017

A photo-essay depicting the industrial legacy of asbestos processing in India by a company that was part of the Belgian asbestos Eternit-Etex conglomerate has been published in Flemish. The text focuses on the situation in Kymore, a town in central India, which is littered with toxic asbestos waste and built with asbestos cement materials. Personal testimony and evidence has been amassed which document corporate responsibility for widespread environmental contamination. See: Van Kapelle tot Kymore: Etex ook verantwoordelijk voor asbestslachtoffers in India? [From Kapelle to Kymore: Is Etex also responsible for asbestos victims in India?].
 

Condemnation of South Africa

Mar 15, 2017

Despite the fact that South Africa banned asbestos in 2008, the government is refusing to back a move by Botswana, Cameroon, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Swaziland, Tanzania and Zambia to unblock a logjam at the Rotterdam Convention which is preventing this UN agency from including white asbestos on a list of toxins subject to requirements ensuring prior informed consent of importing countries. The health experts who wrote this blog conclude that: “South Africa's foreign policy is apparently not governed by any substantive health or environmental considerations.” See: South Africa Refuses To Support Initiative To Restrict Deadly Asbestos Trade
 

Asbestos in Schools

Mar 15, 2017

The scandal over the UK government’s failure to protect schoolchildren and staff from dangerous asbestos exposures continues to reverberate. On March 13, 2017, the government gave a pathetic response to a question about this issue in the House of Lords, absolving itself of responsibility for the situation, the deadly reality of which was detailed in an article in the newspaper and website of Schools Week on March 11 in which MP Rachel Reeves was quoted calling the government’s failure to act on asbestos in schools “grossly negligent.” See: Dodgy asbestos surveys costing schools ‘millions’.
 

Systemic Failures: France

Mar 14, 2017

This article details the failure of the French authorities to address the asbestos contamination of the national infrastructure and warns of more asbestos-related deaths in the future because of the uneven protection of workers from building and other products containing asbestos which have not been removed. Several quotes from campaigners highlight the flaws in a regulatory system which fails to adequately police the asbestos removal industry, ensure accurate laboratory analyses of suspect material and diagnose patients with asbestos diseases. See: En France, il reste 20 millions de tonnes d’amiante disséminées dans les bâtiments [In France, there are 20 million tons of asbestos still in buildings].
 

Galicia: Asbestos Justice

Mar 14, 2017

An interview – published this month – with Ramón Tojeiro the head of AGAVIDA, a group representing asbestos victims in Galicia, north western Spain, highlighted the impact of occupational asbestos exposures amongst workers in the shipbuilding yards in Ferrol. The campaigner cited the important roles played by Galician unionist Rafael Pillado and Dr. Carlos Piñeiro in the fight to obtain recognition of the invisible epidemic and medical treatment for the injured; Tojeiro also warned of the hazard posed by asbestos within the infrastructure. See: La realidad del amianto se mantuvo oculta porque era un gran negocio [The reality of asbestos kept hidden because it was a big business].
 

Push to Ban Asbestos

Mar 10, 2017

Brazilian Senator Paulo Paim has submitted a draft bill (PLS 30/2017) to a committee of the Brazilian Congress delineating a road map to make the transition from a national asbestos policy based on the controlled use of asbestos to one banning mining, manufacture, import, storage and transport of asbestos fiber and products containing asbestos within a strict phased timescale. Citing the global consensus regarding the proven risks posed by asbestos exposures, the proposal will, if approved, prohibit all asbestos use, sales, marketing, storage, import and export within four years. See: Manejo do amianto pode se tornar proibido no país [Transition from asbestos management to asbestos ban].
 

Workplace Exposure in Australia

Mar 10, 2017

Trade union officials confirmed on Wednesday, March 8, 2017 that work at an Australian factory had been stopped for a week due to the discovery of asbestos contamination at the facility owned by the Orica company in the Kooragang Island area of New South Wales. It is alleged that prior to the shutdown, dozens of workers had been hazardously exposed to asbestos fibers. While not denying the incident took place, the company is disputing details released by the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union. The exposures allegedly occurred during a $67-million overhaul of the ammonia plant. See: Unions and ORCA in dispute over asbestos.
 

New Precedent in France

Mar 10, 2017

On March 3, 2017 France’s Council of State – the highest administrative court in the country – handed down a ground-breaking decision when it accepted that employees of the state, in this case a shipbuilding worker for the Ministry of Defence, had a right to compensation for asbestos “anxiety prejudice” after negligent workplace exposures. According to the verdict, “the decision to recognize the right to this compensation amounts to recognition of the link established between exposure to asbestos dust and reduction in life expectancy…” See: Amiante: le préjudice d’anxiété reconnu pour les ouvriers d’Etat par la redaction [Asbestos: anxiety prejudice recognized for state workers].
 

Asbestos in Schools

Mar 9, 2017

Regional authorities have approved proposals to remove asbestos from 38 schools in Catalonia during 2017-2018. Asbestos was banned in Spain in 2002 but remains widely present throughout the educational infrastructure. The commitment to remediation and replacement of toxic products with asbestos-free materials was brought about after pressure from the socialist party. Under the new rules, asbestos surveys will be carried out to identify contamination, a timetable will be set for removal and an implementation plan will be adopted. See: El Parlament aprueba retirar el amianto de 38 escuelas e institutos [Parliament approves proposal to remove asbestos from 38 schools].
 

Asbestos Cancer Mortality

Mar 6, 2017

A paper published by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has highlighted an epidemic of asbestos cancer in the US Between 1999 and 2015, there were 45,221 deaths reported from mesothelioma, the signature cancer related to asbestos exposure. The annual incidence rate increased from 2,479 (1999) to 2,597 (2015). The researchers’ conclusions confirm what asbestos activists have been saying for years: “Contrary to past projections, the number of malignant mesothelioma deaths has been increasing…” despite the introduction of regulatory actions and decreasing consumption. See: Malignant Mesothelioma Mortality – United States, 1999-2015.
 

Asbestos Leak in Wicklow

Mar 3, 2017

A former municipal landfill is leaking hazardous waste, including fragments of asbestos, into the Irish Sea in Bray, Co. Wicklow. Amongst the waste dumped on this site are broken asbestos tiles and there are “excessive levels of ammoniacal nitrogen, potassium and manganese in the groundwater.” Local people and politicians have been calling for the municipality, the government and European authorities to make remediation of the site a priority issue. An Environmental Risk Assessment is now being considered by Dún Laoghaire Rathdown County Council, Wicklow County Council and the Environmental Protection Agency. See: Asbestos and other toxic waste leaking into Irish Sea off Bray and Dublin coast.
 

Asbestos Lobby Machinations

Mar 3, 2017

A new article on the RightonCanada website details efforts by the International Chrysotile Association (ICA), a propaganda instrument financed by global asbestos producers, to manipulate the global consensus regarding the toxicity of all types of asbestos. The paper – Health Risk of Chrysotile Revisited – which cost the ICA $235,000, failed to disclose “the extensive, long-lasting financial ties of [the authors] Bernstein and Dunnigan to the asbestos lobby; and advanced arguments that have been “dismissed as dangerous misinformation by the world scientific community.” See: Asbestos lobby hopes to block asbestos bans with its bought science.
 

Asbestos Use in Dentistry

Mar 3, 2017

It has been widely acknowledged that asbestos was used in 3,000 products, ranging from building materials to consumer products. A report just uploaded to the website of the American Journal of Industrial medicine documents the occurrence of mesothelioma amongst dental technicians and professionals who used asbestos-containing dental lining tape for making crowns, bridges and other dental prosthetic devices. The paper examines six mesothelioma cases linked to exposures to this material in four dentists, one dental technician and one silversmith. See: Malignant Mesothelioma Due to Asbestos Exposure in Dental Tape.
 

Environmental Asbestos Threat

Mar 2, 2017

A row has broken out between Ankara city officials and professional organizations over the health hazard of demolition work at a factory believed to contain 350 tonnes of asbestos. Air monitoring conducted close to the factory in the Maltepe neighborhood of Ankara by the Union of Chambers of Turkish Engineers and Architects found dangerously high levels of amphibole asbestos. Calls have been made for schools in the area to be closed as a preventative action. Ankara’s Mayor alleges that safety measures were implemented during the dismantling work. See: Debate over asbestos diffusion heats up in Turkish capital Ankara.
 

Support for Patients

Mar 2, 2017

As of April 1, 2017, Mesothelioma UK– a national resource center providing specialist information, support and care services for mesothelioma patients – will be supporting travel expenses for mesothelioma patients to obtain specialist diagnoses or treatments from medical centers outside of their local areas. Standard class travel and accommodation will be covered for up to two nights for the patient and carer as well as the cost of car parking. To apply for this assistance, claimants can contact a helpline: 0800 169 2409. See: Patient Travel Expenses Policy (2017).
 

Victory for Spanish Worker

Mar 2, 2017

An appeal by the Spanish asbestos company Uralita has been dismissed by the High Court of Catalonia which upheld a 2015 award to an asbestos victim of €342,142 for injuries sustained as a result of negligent workplace asbestos exposures. Uralita’s lawyers alleged that at the time of the exposures – between 1969 and 1992 – there had been no asbestos regulations in place regarding occupational exposures. The Judge rejected this argument affirming that the company was legally obliged to protect workers from all dangerous activities and substances. See: Uralita pagará a un empleado con cáncer por exposición al Amianto [Uralita to pay a worker with cancer for asbestos exposure].
 

Capital’s Asbestos Challenge

Feb 28, 2017

Members of Nairobi’s County Assembly (MCA) are pressing for action from City Hall to remove asbestos roofing from all residential properties. Particular mention has been made of toxic roofing on houses built in the 1950s and 1960s in the Eastlands, an area southeast of Nairobi. MCA Caroline Muga has asked questions in the assembly regarding delays in disposing of toxic roofing removed from houses in Ofafa Jericho, Bahati and Kimathi, old estates in the capital. MCA Muga said that asbestos was banned in 2006 by the government but the order was never implemented. See: Cancer Risk: City MCAs push for removal of asbestos in houses.
 

Calls for Asbestos Action

Feb 26, 2017

In a letter to India’s Minister of Environment Anil Madhav, who in August 2016 publicly spoke of the need to protect citizens from the risk of contracting asbestos diseases, grassroots activist Jagdish Patel from the Occupational and Environmental Health Network of India urged the Minister to work with government colleagues to end toxic exposures and support efforts by the United Nations Rotterdam Convention to include chrysotile (white) asbestos on a list of substances subject to regulatory controls. The next meeting of the Rotterdam Convention will take place from April 24 to May 5, 2017. See: In 2017 at COP 8, India has another opportunity to support the listing of chrysotile asbestos in PIC.
 

Basque Asbestos Verdict

Feb 26, 2017

For the first time, a Basque city has been condemned for toxic asbestos exposures to a municipal worker. The claimant’s verdict was handed down by a court in the city of Vitoria-Gasteiz, the capital city of the Basque Autonomous Community, against the City of Llodio. The family of municipal employee Kepa Galdos, who died in 2012 from mesothelioma, was awarded €133,806 (US$141,320) for the municipality’s failure to prevent toxic workplace exposures to asbestos. Welcoming the verdict, the Association of Asbestos Victims of Euskadi condemned the Mayor’s “total contempt and lack of sensitivity to the victims of asbestos.” See: Press Release by Association of Asbestos Victims of Euskadi.
 

Scandal: Asbestos in Schools

Feb 25, 2017

A report published on February 23, 2017 by the UK government’s Education Funding Agency (EFA) revealed that 20% of schools attended by 1 million children were “not fully compliant” with asbestos procedures “in that they did not have fully documented plans, processes and procedures in place at the time of the data collection, or did not know if asbestos was present.” Chris Keates, general secretary of the teaching union NASUWT said that: “These results seriously call into question the DfE’s fundamental assumption that asbestos can be managed safely left in situ, as clearly this is not happening in too many cases.” See: Asbestos in schools is a ‘serious’ problem, Government report finds.
 

Ban Asbestos Bill

Feb 24, 2017

A press release issued yesterday (February 23) by Bob Bailey, a Member of Ontario’s Provincial Parliament (MPP) announced that the second reading of the Asbestos Use Prohibition Act was to take place in Ontario’s Legislative Assembly yesterday afternoon. The bill calls for a ban on the use, reuse, import, transport or sale of asbestos in Ontario and requires the province to set up a public registry of buildings which are owned or leased by the province that contain asbestos. An online petition in support of this bill has also been launched by MPP Bailey. See: press release announcing second reading of Bill 88.
 

Asbestos Lawsuit by Ministry

Feb 24, 2017

Paraná’s Public Ministry of Labor (MPT) has filed a multimillion reals public civil action against Brazil’s Eternit asbestos company for occupational asbestos exposures at its factory in the city of Colombo. The evidence submitted by the MPT includes data collected since 2008 during inspections carried out at the Eternit facility that substantiated the avoidable risks to the workers in light of the availability of safer fibers and technologies for the production of products such as roofing tiles and water tanks. See: Ministério Público pede indenização de R$ 85 milhões contra a empresa Eternit [Attorney General seeks compensation of R$ 85 million against Eternit company].
 

Carcinogen OK, Poison Not

Feb 23, 2017

People and politicians in the Russian town of Asbest – who defend the use of chrysotile (white) asbestos, a human carcinogen – are calling for a public consultation over whether the construction of a factory processing antimony should be permitted, citing public health concerns regarding the poisonous effects on human beings of antimony exposures. The National Antimony Company’s plans to build in Degtyarsk were abandoned after mass protests by activists and environmentalists. See: «Мы не хотим жертвовать здоровьем»: в Асбесте депутаты готовят протест против нового завода [“We do not want to sacrifice health”: Asbest MPs prepare protest against new plant].
 

Asbestos Road Map

Feb 23, 2017

Today, the launch of a working group to develop a National Asbestos Profile of Cambodia took place at a meeting convened in Phnom Penh. The event was sponsored by the Cambodian Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training in partnership with Union Aid Abroad – APHEDA and Australian Aid. The action plans resulting from these collaborations are intended to protect public and occupational health from the deadly asbestos hazard. The efforts of the working group – which will be conducted under the auspices of the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training – will be informed by medical experts, representatives of international agencies, civil servants and others. See: Picture.
 

Andalusia’s Toxic Pipes

Feb 22, 2017

A committee of the Parliament of the autonomous community of Andalusia has approved a ministerial proposal to undertake an audit of pipes used to deliver regional water supplies with a view to the elimination of the asbestos hazard from the network. The committee has called on stakeholders, including council and municipal authorities, to collaborate on the planning and removal of the cancer threat to citizens and has set a deadline for the prohibition of asbestos in water delivery systems. See: El Parliament andaluz aprueba una propuesta de IU para la eliminación de amianto en tuberías de agua [The Andalusian Parliament approves a UI proposal for the elimination of asbestos in water pipes].
 

Tightening Asbestos Controls

Feb 22, 2017

On February 21, 2017, the Government of South Korea announced tighter regulations for asbestos management to safeguard individuals attending or working at private after-school academies from hazardous exposures; the new regulations will be introduced this week. To improve monitoring efforts, the introduction of a biannual air quality test has been mandated on smaller facilities which, until now, had been exempt from these requirements. Non-compliance with the asbestos regulations can be punished with a fine of up to ten million won (US$8750). See: Gov't tightens asbestos management rules.
 

Award for British Doctor

Feb 20, 2017

Yesterday (February 19), at the annual general meeting of the Asbestos Diseases Society of Australia in Perth, Western Australia, Dr Helen Clayson was announced as the recipient of the Society’s Eric Saint Memorial Award 2017. This highly prestigious award is made in recognition of assistance provided to asbestos victims by a medical professional, technical expert, support worker or campaigner. In her introduction to the award ceremony, Rose Marie Vojakovic said that the worthy recipient was a former general practitioner and hospice medical director from the North of England; for a number of years, she had served as chair of the Barrow-in-Furness asbestos victims group and had written a UK Mesothelioma Handbook which had been adapted for use by Australian sufferers.
 

Asbestos Propaganda War

Feb 20, 2017

SINTICOMEX, a Brazilian union affiliated to the asbestos industry, has denounced the Brazilian Association of the Asbestos Exposed and a legal firm from São Paulo for supporting the family of a worker who died from the asbestos cancer mesothelioma, casting aspersions on the truth of allegations made that the deceased had been occupationally exposed to asbestos as a result of which he contracted cancer and died. The union says that since the 1990s, there have been no cases of asbestos-related disease in their region; the death of this and another worker are clear proof that they are incorrect. See: Movimento contra Amianto invade Pedro Leopoldo [Anti-asbestos movement invades Pedro Leopoldo].
 

Paying for Asbestos Healthcare

Feb 20, 2017

A paper published online this month (February 2017), entitled Medical costs of asbestos-related diseases in Spain between 2004 and 2011, estimated that the costs to the National Health System (NHS) between 2004 and 2011 of treating 37,557 patients suffering from asbestos-related diseases (ARDs) was €464 million, with specialist care accounting for 51% of total costs, primary healthcare 10%, and drug prescription 39%. The ARD bill for the NHS was 27.8-fold higher for male patients than for female patients with a €281m bill for treating patients with bronchopulmonary cancers. See: Medical costs of asbestos-related diseases in Spain between 2004 and 2011.
 

Ambler Deadline Extended

Feb 17, 2017

The date for submitting comments on proposals by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for the remediation of two Superfund sites – BoRit Asbestos Superfund Site and Ambler Asbestos Piles Superfund Site in Ambler, Pennsylvania – has been extended until March 3, 2017. For decades this town was the location of the Keasbey & Mattison asbestos factory. Widespread contamination is a fact of life for local people; the multimillion dollar EPA program is designed to tackle asbestos pollution in the soil, reservoir, waterways, dumpsites and environment. See: Environmental Concerns of Communities around Ambler, Pennsylvania.