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NGOs’ Asbestos Alert

Sep 25, 2020

At a press conference in Seoul, Korea on September 21, 2020, spokepersons for the non-governmental organizations the Gwangju Environmental Movement Association and the Environmental Health Citizens’ Center announced that as a result of a 3-month investigation they could confirm the presence of tremolite asbestos fibers in cement and mortar products being sold in Korea. The NGOs urged the government to act not only on banning sales of these deadly products but also on identifying and protecting at-risk workers. See: 환경단체 “시판중인 백시멘트·황토모르타르에서 석면 검출” [Environmental organization “Detection of asbestos in commercially available white cement and loose mortar”].
 

Another Asbestos Scandal!

Sep 25, 2020

Multiple whistleblowers, including a former waste inspector, truck drivers and plant operators, have alleged that asbestos-contaminated soil was used to make “turf underlay” at Oran Park site, a development of 25,000 new homes in Sydney, Australia. Commenting on the allegations emeritus associate professor at Murdoch University and lead investigator in the Australian Asbestos Network project Gail Phillips said: “Without wanting to alarm people, this is a very worrying thing if asbestos is ending up in housing estates, because just one fibre being breathed in can cause health problems down the track.” According to media reports, an investigation is ongoing. See: Revealed: asbestos-contaminated waste found in landscaping material at new Sydney housing estate site.
 

Justice Delayed

Sep 25, 2020

There has been a last-minute postponement to the handing down of a statement by Investigating Magistrate María Isabel Garaizaba regarding charges of reckless homicide brought against seven defendants responsible for occupational health and safety at the company operating the Madrid Metro. The announcement scheduled for September 23, 2020 will now not be made until October 6 or 7. Hearings in this case over the deaths of two Metro workers have been ongoing for more than a year. The delay has brought condemnation from the Spanish trade union: CCOO. See: La juez del caso amianto suspende las declaraciones de este jueves ¡ [The judge of the asbestos case suspends Thursday’s declarations!]
 

Huge Fine for Illegal Dump

Sep 25, 2020

On September 21, 2020, High Court of Ireland judge Mr Justice Humphreys ordered mother and son Eileen and Fred Hendy to pay Meath County Council compensation of €6.26 million for contempt of court orders requiring them to deal with two illegal dumps containing 100,000 tonnes of waste, including asbestos debris, on their 253 acre farm in Enfield, County Meath. The Hendys had been given three years to take steps to clean up the site but had failed to do so as a result of which the Council would be tasked with commissioning contractors to undertake the remediation work. See: Mother and son fined €6.2m over failure to clean up illegal farm dumps.
 

Supporting Asbestos Interests

Sep 24, 2020

At a recent meeting with Denis Pasler, Governor of the Orenburg Region – home to one of the world’s largest chrysotile (white) asbestos mines – the Russian Minister of Industry and Trade Denis Manturov pledged the Federal Government’s support for the asbestos industry. Manturov said that the development of this industry is of importance to both regional and national economies. There was no mention in this article about the carcinogenicity of asbestos or the global campaign to ban asbestos use. See: Минпромторг РФ поддержит хризотиловую отрасль в Оренбуржье [The Ministry of Industry and Trade of the Russian Federation will support the chrysotile industry in the Orenburg region].
 

Is it a bird, a turtle or a carcinogen?

Sep 24, 2020

The process to rename the toxic Quebec mining town of “Asbestos” is not going very smoothly. Public consultations and deliberations were disrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic and now the shortlist of four names selected by municipal officials has been soundly rejected. None of the names chosen – Apalone, Jeffrey, Phenix and Trois-Lacs – has found favor with the public and as a result the town council has delayed the prospective October 2020 vote to consider options which might include expanding the list of potential names. See: Quebec town Asbestos, hits pause on name change process after citizen complaints.
 

Grant for UK Mesothelioma Charity

Sep 24, 2020

Mesothelioma UK, a charity supporting victims of asbestos cancer, has been awarded a £10,000 grant by The Burdett Trust for Nursing to develop a Mesothelioma Multi-Disciplinary Team in Wales and support work of clinical nurse specialists in delivering care to mesothelioma patients. Welcoming this donation, Mesothelioma UK’s Head of Nursing Lorraine Creech said: “This funding will help us to establish a better provision of specialist support and expertise for patients in Wales where there is currently no multi-disciplinary team for mesothelioma. The project in Wales will help to us to achieve our aim of ensuring equitable access to first-class treatment and care for all patients in the UK.” See: The Burdett Trust for Nursing awards grant to Mesothelioma UK.
 

Appeal by Asbestos Defendants

Sep 24, 2020

A decision handed down by the Tokyo District Court on September 4, 2020, against the Japanese Government and asbestos manufacturers, awarding compensation of 1.3 bn yen (US$12.2m) to 121 former workers who had contracted asbestos-related diseases has been appealed by three companies including the Nichias Corporation, a defendant in many Japanese asbestos lawsuits. In the Tokyo verdict, Judge Maezawa had been categorical about the guilt of the defendants: “Since 1975 at the latest, when dealing with asbestos, it has been obligatory to use warning signs and dust masks.” See: ニチアスら2社が控訴 石綿被害訴訟、東京 [Nichias and two other companies appeal asbestos damage lawsuit, Tokyo].
 

Building Diagnostic Capacity

Sep 22, 2020

On September 19, 2020, the Korean Environmental Industry and Technology Institute in collaboration with the Korean Radiological Society conducted an online training workshop for radiologists on the subject of: Reading Asbestos Disease Imaging. The initiative was part of national efforts to increase capacity and develop expertise so that earlier diagnoses of asbestos-related diseases are made. Successful participants will be eligible to work for the “Computed Tomography Photo Reading Advisory Group” that supports the Asbestos Damage Judgment Committee. See: 환경산업기술원, 석면질병 영상판독 교육 [Environmental Industry and Technology Institute, asbestos disease image reading education].
 

Asbestos in Schools

Sep 22, 2020

The Education Minister of the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) Yvette Berry last week confirmed that 69 schools in Canberra had hazardous materials including asbestos and lead on their premises. A sum of A$15 million allocated to clean up ACT schools will, she said, be rationed so that resources are used to prioritize remediation of the most hazardous situations first. Speaking on behalf of the ACT Green Party, Environmental spokeswoman Jo Clay said: “Children as well as teaching staff in schools and early-childhood centres have the right to work and play without damaging hazardous and toxic materials and chemicals in their immediate environments.” See: ACT Election: Almost 70 Canberra schools have lead or asbestos on site.
 

Asbestos in Paradise?

Sep 22, 2020

Work to remediate asbestos contamination on El Hierro, the smallest of the Canary Islands, was conducted last week by a specialist company at the behest of local councils. According to Councillor for the Environment, Waste and Recycling Montserrat Gutiérrez, work during the current phase removed, treated and disposed of 14 cubic meters of asbestos waste. The next phase of the program will focus on the removal of asbestos-containing products from residential properties. See: El Cabildo lleva a cabo una campaña de retirada de Amianto [Cabildo carries out an asbestos removal campaign].
 

Asbestos Waste Disposal Regime

Sep 22, 2020

The environmental Portuguese NGO Quercus and the asbestos victims support group SOS Amianto categorized the recent decision of the Portuguese Environment Agency (APA) to send asbestos waste to three landfill dumpsites in the Chamusca area as ill-considered. Representing these groups, Carmen Lima told journalists that the APA should delay making its final decision to allow other landfills time to implement protocols which would allow them to safely receive this waste. Additional criticism about the APA’s guidelines for the disposal of asbestos waste was discussed in this article. See: SOS Amianto e Quercus dizem que decisão de enviar todo o amianto para a Chamusca foi “precipitada” [SOS Asbestos and Quercus say the decision to send all asbestos to Chamusca was “hasty”].
 

Court of Shame!

Sep 21, 2020

The Brazilian Supreme Court has been soundly criticized over failing to convene a quorum of judges to hand down its decision on cases against the constitutionality of unilateral asbestos bans. On the court schedule for September 16, 2020 were cases against asbestos bans in the States of Pernambuco, Rio Grande do Sul and Rio de Janeiro and the municipality of São Paulo. Eight of the 11 Justices were required to appear in order to provide a quorum but three declined to take part due to potential conflicts of interest, one was absent without leave and one was on sick leave, leaving the bench two Justices short. See: Fernanda Giannasi: Mais uma vez o STF foge da briga com a indústria da fibra assassina [Fernanda Giannasi: Once again the Supreme Court dodges confrontation with the killer fiber industry].
 

Mesothelioma during Covid-19 Pandemic

Sep 21. 2020

A second study on the effects of the coronavirus pandemic on mesothelioma patients was published earlier this month by the UK charity Mesothelioma UK. Whereas the first study (May 2020) was based on feedback from patients and carers, this one was informed by the experiences of 20 Mesothelioma UK Nurses. This is an extremely interesting document which should be of interest not only to the mesothelioma community but also to a variety of experts studying the knock-on effects of the epidemic. Among the more chilling findings expressed was “Fear about contracting COVID, about not being considered eligible or worthy of COVID treatment and continual worry about their mesothelioma progressing whilst treatments were disrupted.” Download (PDF): COVID Impact Survey 2 - Sep 2020.
 

Victim’s Verdict in Fukuoka

Sep 21, 2020

On September 16, 2020, the Presiding Judge Atsushi Tokuchi of the Fukuoka District Court issued a ruling ordering the Kitakyushu Municipal Government and a building maintenance firm to pay compensation of ~26 million yen (US$246,000) to the family of a worker who died in 2013 aged 78 from asbestos-related lung cancer as a result of toxic workplace exposures at the Kitakyushu City General Gymnasium, a facility that was constructed using asbestos materials. This verdict is believed to be the first of its kind to recognize a municipal government's responsibility for asbestos management. See: Fukuoka court holds local gov't responsible for worker's asbestos exposure in Japan first.
 

Remediation of Imported Railway Cars

Sep 21, 2020

As a result of a project progressed by the environmental NGO Quercus and its partner SOS Asbestos, it was discovered that Portugal had purchased 51 railway units from the Spanish railway operator Renfe. All the vehicles were contaminated with asbestos. SOS Asbestos has been in contact with the Portuguese importer – Comboios de Portugal – to ascertain that asbestos removal specialists had been commissioned to remediate the trains prior to their being put into service in Portugal. See: SOS AMIANTO: Portugal usará comboios espanhóis, mas livres de Amianto [SOS Asbestos: Portugal will use Spanish trains, but with asbestos removed].
 

Mesothelioma and Smoking

Sep 21, 2020

Last week the Superior Court of Justice of the Basque Country (TSJPV) reversed an iniquitous ruling of Social Court No. 10 of Bilbao that had reduced by 20% compensation to the family of a subcontractor painter from the La Naval shipyard who died from asbestos cancer due to his smoking history. The Court, which found that there was no causal connection between tobacco consumption and the occurrence of mesothelioma, ordered the defendants to pay the full amount awarded. See: El TSJPV rechaza reducir la indemnización a un trabajador expuesto al amianto por ser fumador [The TSJPV refuses to reduce the compensation to a worker exposed to asbestos for being a smoker].
 

Town Seeks Non-Asbestos Option

Sep 18, 2020

In an attempt to distance itself from its toxic history, a former asbestos mining town in Quebec has constituted a short list from which residents can select a new name. The town’s original name of “Asbestos” was deemed unsuitable for the post-asbestos future now that Canada had banned the mining, sale and export of chrysotile (white) asbestos. At a meeting on September 14, 2020, the town council announced that the four names which had been chosen out of the 1,000 submitted were: Jeffrey (the mine’s original operator), Apalone (a turtle species), Phénix (a mythical bird) and Trois-Lacs (a neighborhood of the town). Residents 14 years and older will be eligible to vote during the October 2020 election. See: Asbestos in Quebec Shortlists Four New Names to Get Fresh Start.
 

Ending Asbestos Use in Asia

Sep 18, 2020

Campaigners are actively seeking reassurances from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) that it will honor promises made in 2019 to ban the use of asbestos in all of the projects it funds. The 2020 Annual Meeting of the ADB is taking place virtually this week and constitutes an opportunity for action to be taken to put this promise into policy say officials from Australia’s Union Aid Abroad (APHEDA). Current ADB Policy prohibits the use of raw asbestos in projects but allows the use of asbestos bonded cement sheets which are the most common asbestos-containing product used in Asia. See: Statement on Asian Development Bank Annual Meeting: ADB Must Clarify Asbestos Policy Now!
 

Asbestos at the Opera

Sep. 18, 2020

After an eight month suspension in proceedings, a trial has recommenced against defendants accused of negligence in failing to prevent asbestos-related deaths amongst artists and staff employed by La Scale Opera House. Five managers stand accused of manslaughter over the deaths of 12 former employees. According to a leading Italian expert Enzo Merler: “at La Scala, asbestos was widespread, present in the curtain… endangering not only those who worked in the theater but also the public [who were] unaware of the risks.” See: Morti d’amianto alla Scala, l’elenco si allunga [Deaths of asbestos at La Scala, the list gets longer].
 

Calls for Action on Illegal Dumping

Sep 18, 2020

The CCOO trade union is pressing Getafe City Council officials to take urgent action on the hazard posed by the illegal dumping of asbestos-contaminated waste with a CCOO spokesperson urging that proactive solutions be found and action coordinated with other localities be taken to prevent this toxic practice. Getafe was formerly the location of a factory which manufactured asbestos-cement products and which was owned by the Uralita company. See: CCOO exige una solución definitiva a los vertidos ilegales de Amianto [CCOO demands a definitive solution to illegal asbestos dumping].
 

Asbestos Science vs. Propaganda

Sep 17, 2020

The International Chrysotile Association (ICA), based in Quebec, is at the forefront of the lobby promoting the interests of asbestos stakeholders. ICA personnel disseminate fiction dressed up as fact to create a climate in which sales of chrysotile (white) asbestos can continue despite its acknowledged toxicity. Drawing on a war chest from industry supporters, asbestos lobbyists distort government findings, attack international agencies and disrupt proceedings to protect populations in their endless pursuit of profit. This article below provides details of the ways in which they do so and makes one wonder how such a body is allowed to continue to operate from Canada. See: Asbestos and fossil fuel industries continue to wage war on science.
 

Court Order Behind State Action?

Sep 17, 2020

Contamination at sites where tonnes of asbestos-contaminated mining waste remain constitute a potent threat to the health of people in 14 villages in the East Indian State of Jharkhand. When asbestos mining ceased in 1983, the sites were abandoned. Following surveying by the non-governmental organization Environics Trust, a lawsuit was brought in 2012 at the National Green Tribunal (NGT), on behalf of people who had contracted asbestos-related diseases. In January 2020, the NGT ordered the state government to protect the villagers; in August, Jharkhand State submitted plans for rehabilitation of the mines and community health surveillance. See: In Jharkhand’s Asbestos Clean-up, Victim Compensation Remains Elusive.
 

Asbestos Removal during a Pandemic

Sep 17, 2020

The harsh reality of life for asbestos abatement workers in New York City during Covid-19 was the focus of an insightful online article. Most of the workers who contributed to this piece were immigrants from Latin America or Eastern Europe who had few, if any, alternative sources of employment. New legislation has increased demands for asbestos removal but abatement workers are aware that their pay checks come with consequences: many of their colleagues have gotten sick or died from Covid-19 as well as asbestos-related diseases. A support group for NYC asbestos abatement workers has been founded to help them find safer employment. See: Asbestos Removal Is a Hard Job, but Covid-19 Makes It Harder.
 

Remediation of Toxic Trains

Sep 17, 2020

Fifty-one railways trains purchased, for €1.65 million by a Portuguese railway operator (CP) from the Spanish company Renfe, which were contaminated with asbestos have now been withdrawn from service. In order to increase the country’s transport capacity, the Portuguese Government had agreed to remove the asbestos and renovate the carriages so that they can be used on regional lines and for long-distance transport. See: Comboios comprados pela CP à Renfe foram retirados de serviço devido ao Amianto [Trains purchased by CP from Renfe were taken out of service due to asbestos].
 

Asbestos Remediation: Safe or Not?

Sep 16, 2020

Operations to remove asbestos from schools in the South Korean Province of Gyeongnam during the summer school holidays have been widely criticized by environmental groups, parents and concerned citizens who claim that operatives did not not minimize the release of asbestos fibers into the environment. On September 8, 2020, there was a demonstration in front of the Gyeongnam Provincial Office of Education over the unsafe practices. At the heart of the protest was dissatisfaction over the use of the contentious “asbestos glove bag method” to prevent atmospheric contamination. See: [사설] 끝없이 되풀이되는 학교석면 부실 철거 [Editorial: Endlessly recurring school asbestos demolition].
 

Deadly Asbestos Legacy

Sep 16, 2020

A recent feature article considers the nature of asbestos, its properties, uses and the dangers it continues to pose to people in Vietnam, a country where the consumption of chrysotile (white) asbestos remains legal. While acknowledging the serious consequences of exposure to the “silent killer” and the widespread failure to enforce health and safety protection for at-risk workers, the author highlighted multiple issues relating to the disposal of asbestos-contaminated waste and criticized current legislation and guidelines as too lax and confused to prevent toxic exposures. See: Cần loại bỏ có hệ thống và xử lý an toàn các sản phẩm chứa amiang [Products containing asbestos should be systematically disposed of and safely disposed of].
 

Asbestos Media Offensive

Sep 16, 2020

A Russian-language infomercial about asbestos on a Ukrainian website extolled the virtues of chrysotile asbestos, discounted reports regarding toxic consequences of occupational or environmental exposures and reasserted asbestos industry propaganda “that the use of chrysotile is harmless to human health under controlled use, because it does not cause serious consequences, such as cancer of the respiratory system.” The author explained that concerns over the global epidemic of asbestos-related deaths were part of a capitalist ploy driven by commercial motives. See: Асбест: вредность и опасность асбеста, воздействие минерала на организм человека [Asbestos: the harmfulness and danger of asbestos, the effect of the mineral on the human body].
 

Export of Toxic Trains

Sep 15, 2020

An extensive feature article uploaded on September 9, 2020, considered aspects of the international long-tail asbestos legacy as revealed by developments in Spain and Argentina. The export of hazardous technology from Spain in the form of asbestos-contaminated trains for use on the Buenos Aires Metro system was detailed, with a litany of examples provided documenting the knowledge that Spanish exporters had to hand regarding the deadly effects of toxic workplace exposure. The import, use and sale of asbestos is banned in Spain and in Argentina. See: De Madrid a Buenos Aires: el amianto, una ubicua "pandemia" cancerígena que ha dejado un rastro largo [From Madrid to Buenos Aires: Asbestos, a ubiquitous carcinogenic "pandemic" that has left a long trail].
 

Court Rejects Defendants’ Motions

Sep 15, 2020

At the end of last month (August 2020), the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey rejected motions by asbestos defendants Foster Wheeler and Westinghouse in a case brought for the mesothelioma death of Arthur Hammell, a serving member of the US Naval Reserve in 1962-64. The deceased, who was assigned to the U.S.S. Charles H. Roan, worked in boiler maintenance with equipment manufactured by the defendants, both of which asked the Court for a summary judgment on the basis that the plaintiff could not establish that the manufacturers had a duty to warn for injuries caused by asbestos [products] manufactured and furnished by third parties. See: Various Defendants’ Motion for Summary Judgment Denied on Duty to Warn in Naval Action.
 

Toxic Second-hand Trains?

Sep 15, 2020

By the end of 2020, 51 asbestos-contaminated railway cars purchased by Comboios de Portugal – the company operating Portugal’s national railway – will be put into service on the Miño railway line between Oporto and Valença. The trains, which were sold by the Spanish company Renfe Operadora for €1.65 million, were withdrawn from use because of the asbestos contamination. According to the Portuguese Government, the asbestos will be removed from the trains and the units will be modernized before they are made operational. See: Portugal usará los vagones de tren retirados en Galicia por portar Amianto [Portugal will use train wagons withdrawn in Galicia because of presence of asbestos].
 

Victim’s Verdict

Sep 15, 2020

The Royal Courts of Justice (London) handed down a claimant’s verdict on September 7, 2020 in a case brought by the widow of Martin Rix, a one-time carpenter and shopfitter who died of mesothelioma aged 60 in 2016. The defendant’s legal team argued that because of the ongoing financial success of the business Mr. Rix had created, his widow was not entitled to bring a claim for financial dependency arising from her husband’s death; Mr. Justice Cavanagh disagreed. See: High Court Decision September 7, 2020 in the case of Unice Rix vs. Paramount Shopfitting Company Ltd.
 

EPA Sued Over Missing Asbestos Data

Sep 14, 2020

Attorney Generals from several US states and campaigning groups are suing the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the Federal District Court for the Northern District of California over the EPA’s “arbitrary and capricious” decision to deny states’ previous petition that requested the EPA collect more data on imported asbestos under the authority granted in the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). All the asbestos fiber imported into the United States nowadays is chrysotile (white) asbestos from Russia. See: EPA’s Asbestos Problem: Pending Litigation and Draft Risk Evaluation.
 

Calls for Asbestos Ban

Sep 14, 2020

In a recent statement, Prof. Dr. Le Van Trinh – Chairman of the Vietnam Association for Occupational Safety and Hygiene – warned about the serious health hazard posed by the laxity of the current regime dealing with the disposal of asbestos-containing waste. As a result of inadequate government policies, the production, use, demolition and dumping of billions of square meters of asbestos-containing roofing sheets have caused widespread environmental contamination. Vietnam is one of the world’s largest asbestos users, importing 60,000 tons of asbestos fiber per year, according to government data. See: Cần loại bỏ các sản phẩm có chứa amiăng [Products containing asbestos should be eliminated].
 

Stricter Asbestos Regs for Quebec

Sep 14, 2020

A Quebec regulation to lower the admissible level of airborne asbestos concentration at workplaces to 0.1 fibers per cubic centimeter for six types of asbestos has been drafted following the publication of a seminal report (see: L’état des lieux et la gestion de l’amiante et des résidus miniers amianté [The inventory and management of asbestos and asbestos mine tailings]) on the Province’s asbestos policies. The consultation period about the legislation will end on October 10, 2020. See: Québec abaisse les seuils d’exposition à l’amiante pour les travailleurs [Quebec lowers asbestos exposure thresholds for workers].
 

Victim’s Ruling in Bilbao

Sep 14, 2020

An appeal by the Spanish steel-making company Sidenor against a 2019 order of the National Institute of Social Security awarding compensation to the relatives of a worker who died in 2018 from occupationally-contracted mesothelioma – the signature asbestos cancer – has been rejected by a Court in Bilbao. The Judge, who dismissed the appeal, ruled that the company had been negligent in not implementing measures to protect workers from asbestos exposures at its worksites until 2000. See: Un juzgado ratifica elevar la indemnización a la familia de un afectado por Amianto [A court confirms raising the compensation to the family of a person affected by asbestos].
 

Toxic Talc

Sep 14, 2020

Experts in Bangladesh, who have criticized the double standards of the US multinational Johnson & Johnson for continuing sales of talc-based baby powder outside the US and Canada whilst withdrawing it from North American markets, have called on the Bangladeshi Government to commission laboratory tests of this suspect product as a matter of priority. This is unlikely to take place as facilities in Bangladesh, reportedly, do not have the expertise or capacity to perform the required analyses. See: Experts urge govt to test Johnson & Johnson baby powder.
 

Scotland’s Asbestos Legacy

Sep 10, 2020

A 7-minute extract entitled A Mug’s Game performed by Jonathan Watson tells the story of a Scottish electrician exposed to asbestos throughout his career at a Clydebank shipyard. The work was taken from the play “Fibres” by Frances Poet and can be accessed on YouTube. It is part of Scenes for Survival, a new season of 50+ digital artworks created in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, and is well worth watching. The performance is outstanding and the script tells a tale which needs to be heard. See: A Mug’s Game [an extract from the play Fibres by Frances Poet].
 

Mitsubishi’s Asbestos Crimes

Sep 10, 2020

On September 2, 2020, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. of Japan announced that between October 2006 and July 2015 it had illegally sold and shipped asbestos-containing products for repairing engines used on ships, in power generation and for construction work, despite a national asbestos ban. The illegal parts had been made at the company’s plant in Sagamihara City. The company is in the process of setting up a call center to replace the toxic parts free of charge and facilitate the disposal of returned goods contaminated with asbestos. See: 三菱重工、建機エンジン部品でアスベスト含む製品販売 [Mitsubishi Heavy Industries sells products including asbestos for construction machinery engine parts].
 

Asbestos Disposal – Where?

Sep 10, 2020

A Portuguese environmental NGO: SOS Amianto [SOS Asbestos] has warned that the implementation of a Portuguese standard in April 2020 forbidding disposal of asbestos-containing cement debris at eight regulated dumpsites could lead to an increase in illegal fly-tipping. As of now, there is just one site in Portugal licensed to accept such waste and that is in Chamusca, a municipality in central Portugal which is about 110 kilometers from Lisbon. SOS Amianto has condemned the government’s failure to address the lack of regulated facilities at the same time as progressing the removal of asbestos-cement roofing from public buildings. See: SOS Amianto alerta para abandono ilegal de resíduos [SOS warns over illegal dumping of asbestos waste].
 

Grassroots Fight for Asbestos Justice

Sep 10, 2020

A newly published book by Professor John Trimbur examines the struggle by grassroots activists in a former asbestos mining region of South Africa for justice and compensation for the personal tragedies and community catastrophe caused by decades of asbestos mining. The author focused on the efforts of the non-governmental organization: the Asbestos Interest Group (AIG) over a fifteen year period; despite its “position on the periphery,” the AIG had “been able to enter the voices and interests of villagers into formerly inaccessible forums of deliberation and decision-making.” See: Grassroots Literacy and the Written Record: A Textual History of Asbestos Activism in South Africa.
 

Maritime Mystery?

Sep 10, 2020

The ultimate fate of the redundant Brazilian flagship aircraft carrier São Paulo has once again given cause for concern. The bidding process to acquire the vessel – which contains up to 900 tonnes of asbestos and asbestos-containing material as well as hundreds of tons of heavy metals and PCBs – was recently suspended without explanation and responsibility of the vessel reverted to the Brazilian Navy which, campaigners fear, might disregard international regulations and the purchase agreement with the French Government and dispose of the ship by selling it to a scrapping company in India. See: Decommissioned Clemenceau-class aircraft carrier returns to Brazilian Navy after bid suspended.
 

Claimants’ Verdict in Tokyo

Sep 8, 2020

Another legal victory was achieved on September 4, 2020 when asbestos claimants won their case in the Tokyo District Court against the Japanese Government and five manufacturers of asbestos-containing building materials. The Court awarded compensation of 1.3 billion yen (US$12.2m) to 121 plaintiffs who had contracted asbestos-related illnesses as a result of toxic exposures at construction sites in the Tokyo area. In the verdict, Judge Tatsuro Maezawa said: “Since 1975 at the latest, when dealing with asbestos, it has been obligatory to use warning signs and dust masks.” See: アスベスト訴訟 国とメーカーに13億円余の賠償命じる 東京地裁 [Asbestos Litigation Tokyo District Court ordering state and manufacturer compensation of over 1.3 billion yen].
 

Asbestos at School

Sep 8, 2020

Students and staff at the El-Habib-Noura College in the Algerian municipality of Bouzghaia remain at daily risk of asbestos exposures at their overcrowded 1980 prefabricated school erected in the aftermath of the El-Asnam earthquake. Parents of the 1,200+ students as well as staff members have raised their concerns about this hazardous situation on multiple occasions, to no avail, and are now calling for the construction of a new asbestos-free facility to replace the obsolete and deteriorating school. See: Plus de 1 200 collégiens menacés par l’amiante [More than 1,200 secondary school students threatened by asbestos].
 

Asbestos in Schools

Sep 8, 2020

Tests conducted by a specialized asbestos company in the chemistry building of the University of Friborg, Switzerland indicated the presence of asbestos in certain building products. According to the University, further readings showed no airborne asbestos fibers. Asbestos remediation work has been scheduled to address the hazard posed to students and staff by the contamination. The building will remain operational, albeit with additional security measures put in place, while the work is being done. See: Le bâtiment de chimie de l'Université de Fribourg sous observation [The chemistry building of the University of Friborg under observation].
 

Asbestos in the Metro: Update

Sep 8, 2020

On September 3, 2020, the company operating the rapid transit system in the Spanish capital – Metro de Madrid – announced that, as a result of pressure from trade unions, its medical surveillance program for asbestos-exposed workers was being expanded to include additional train drivers, machinists and training instructors. Medical examinations will now be available to 3,500 at-risk employees. Under the company’s first surveillance program only 1,000 maintenance workers were eligible for medical tests. See: Metro pacta con los sindicatos someter a vigilancia sanitaria específica del amianto a 3.500 empleados [Metro agrees with the unions to subject 3,500 employees to health surveillance specifically related to asbestos].
 

Asbestos in Schools: Update

Sep 8, 2020

A presentation by the architectural firm designing a state-of-the-art educational center to replace one of Philadelphia’s asbestos-riddled schools took place last week. The plans for the modern campus for North Philadelphia’s T.M. Peirce Elementary School – which was shut in 2019 due to concerns over the presence of asbestos and lead – were approved on September 2, 2020 by the Philadelphia Art Commission. The new three-story building will have open spaces that include a new playground, trees and a mural. See: $30 million campus to replace asbestos-contaminated North Philadelphia school.
 

Mesothelioma: Progress!

Sep 5, 2020

A paper published in The Lancet Oncology this week announced good news from a trial in Australia of a new therapy for treating patients with malignant pleural mesothelioma. The researchers from the Charles Perkins Centre of the University of Western Australia used a combination of two cancer therapies - chemotherapy and immunotherapy – to treat 54 patients. The scientists concluded that: “The combination of durvalumab, cisplatin, and pemetrexed has promising activity and an acceptable safety profile that warrants further investigation in a randomised phase 3 trial.” See: Durvalumab with first-line chemotherapy in previously untreated malignant pleural mesothelioma (DREAM): a multicentre, single-arm, phase 2 trial with a safety run-in.
 

Ban Asbestos Mobilization

Sep 5, 2020

The Building and Wood Workers International (BWI) has announced a day of ban asbestos action by its affiliates in Africa, the Middle East, and the Asia Pacific region in December 2020 to strengthen efforts by global labor to end toxic occupational exposures. This initiative follows on from an online asbestos meeting during which medical and scientific experts from South Africa, Australia and Europe spoke about the ongoing epidemic of asbestos-related diseases affecting construction and other workers. According to BWI Africa and Middle East Vice President Oloka Mesilamu: “The asbestos threat is real for many workers. It is a terrifying and silent hazard that adds to the fear and anxiety caused by COVID-19. We should do everything we can to ban it.” See: Regional action against Asbestos set for December.
 

Toxic Talc

Sep 5, 2020

An August 27, 2020 news release by the US campaigning group Black Women for Wellness (BWW) condemned Johnson & Johnson for its policy of withdrawing toxic baby powder from North American markets whilst continuing to sell it abroad. This product, which has been linked to the causation of cancer due to the presence of asbestos fibers, has been condemned by government agencies and independent scientists. The position of BWW is supported by 200 groups in the US and abroad focused on women's’ health, safe cosmetics, environmental and other public health issues. See: Toxic Products Marketed to Black Women: J&J refuses to remove talc Baby Powder from global market even as it ends U.S. sales due to lawsuits.
 

Mixed news from Quebec

Sep 5, 2020

Following the release of a report in August 2020 by an independent Commission of Inquiry into the health risks of asbestos in Quebec, the Provincial Government announced it would tighten restrictions for occupational asbestos exposure – reducing allowable exposures from 1 f/cc to 0.1 f/cc – to provide workers significantly increased protection from toxic exposures. Unfortunately, the new law will not address exposures to asbestos fibers less than 5 micrometres in length even though the Commission had recommended doing so. Citing the current US policy, Quebec’s Occupational Health and Safety Commission opposed the Commission’s recommendation to include shorter asbestos fibers. See: Quebec announces limited action to protect workers from asbestos harm.
 

Daughter Wins Legal Battle

Sep 2, 2020

A legal battle which could benefit dozens of former workers has been won by Sylvie Provost, the daughter of Réjean Provost who died in 2017 of asbestosis after 42 years employment at the Kronos paint factory in Varennes, Quebec. During Spring, 2020 an Administrative Labor Court ordered the owners of the factory to pay compensation of $160,000 to Mr. Provost’s family. During her research, Ms. Provost discovered that the company had known for years that her father was ill; this information was withheld. See: Travailleurs empoisonnés par l’amiante en Montérégie [Workers poisoned by asbestos in Montérégie].
 

Legal Victory for Constructions Workers

Sep 2, 2020

On August 28, 2020, the Tokyo High Court ordered compensation of 1,679 million yen (~US$16m) to be paid by the Japanese Government and 43 building material manufacturers to 64 former construction workers (known as Kanagawa’s Second Wave of Asbestos Construction Litigation), or surviving family members, for asbestos-related diseases contracted as a result of hazardous workplace exposures. The court found that the defendants had neglected to implement measures to protect workers from the asbestos hazard. Trial Judge Murakami recognized the right of self-employed workers as well as employees to claim for their injuries. See: Tokyo High Court awards compensation for asbestos injuries sustained by construction workers against the Government and private companies.
 

Indictment of EPA Asbestos Proposals

Sep 2, 2020

The 112-page Draft Risk Evaluation for Chrysotile Asbestos (the Evaluation) was released on August 27, 2020 by the Science Advisory Committee on Chemicals (SACC). The Evaluation found that proposals by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to address the country’s asbestos legacy were not fit for purpose: “Overall, EPA’s environmental and human health risk evaluations for asbestos was not considered adequate…” Missing data, incomplete health risk estimates and “meager” exposure data undermined confidence in conclusions reached and recommendations made by the EPA. See: Peer Review of EPA Draft Risk Evaluation of Asbestos.
 

Urban Asbestos Removal Program

Sep 1, 2020

Gunsan City in South Korea’s North Jeolla Province is progressing plans to protect public health by the implementation of a program to subsidize the removal of asbestos-containing roofing tiles. This initiative – which has been financed since 2013 by the Ministry of Environment – has in 2020 supported remediation efforts by 290 households with an increased budget of 985 million won (US$~835,000). Interested homeowners submit applications for funding to remove and dispose of asbestos roofing to the municipality. The maximum allowable subsidy is 3.44 million won (~US$2900) per household. See: 군산시, 노후 슬레이트 처리 지원 사업 추진 [Gunsan City promotes support project for processing old slate ].
 

Asbestos in Schools

Sep 1, 2020

The town council of Portugal’s coastal city of Albufeira has allocated the sum of €1.2 million (US$1.43m) to remove all asbestos-containing material from the buildings of the Professor Diamantina Negrão School as part of a renewal and renovation program to update the premises. Commenting on the status of the building program, the Mayor of Albufeira José Carlos Rolo said: “Fortunately, there is no longer any asbestos anywhere in this school.” See: Albufeira: Escola Professora Diamantina Negrão já não tem Amianto [Albufeira: Professor Diamantina Negrão School no longer has asbestos].
 

Asbestos Litigation during Covid-19

Sep 1, 2020

An August 2020 study from a US corporate consultancy group provided data suggesting that the rate of asbestos litigation has declined during Covid-19; in the first half of 2020 there was a 17% fall in the number of asbestos lawsuits compared to the same period in 2019. The decrease included a downturn in mesothelioma as well as other types of asbestos-related lung cancer and non-cancer cases. Analyst Megan Shockley said that 2020’s drop in numbers had been due to the closure of courts. The author of this article, however, alleged that the pace of asbestos litigation had been falling for some while: from 5,500 lawsuits in 2014, to 4,600 in 2016 and 4,062 in 2019. See: Are asbestos filings another COVID-19 casualty?
 

Supreme Court Mesothelioma Award

Aug 28, 2020

On August 27, 2020, Supreme Court Justice Rene Le Miere of Western Australia ordered that a terminally-ill woman be paid $1 million compensation by James Hardie (JH), formerly Australia’s largest producer of asbestos-containing building material. Sixty-three year old Christine Parkin was exposed to toxic JH products used by her father in home renovation projects in the 1960s and 1970s as a result of which she contracted mesothelioma and now has a life expectancy of four months. Justice Le Miere awarded her compensation for past and future medical and treatment expenses, economic loss and general damages; the company accepted liability for the damage caused. See: $1m payout for WA asbestos cancer sufferer.
 

COVID-19 and Asbestos Lung Disease

Aug 28. 2020

The lungs of many of the residents in Libby, Montana have been compromised through environmental exposure to asbestos dust liberated during decades of vermiculite mining by W R Grace. Their condition makes them particularly vulnerable to complications from COVID-19. According to Miles Miller, a member of staff at Libby’s Center for Asbestos Related Disease: “Our patients having an underlying lung disease would make recovery from COVID-19 more difficult.” Fears of contracting coronavirus has led many people in Libby to take extraordinary measures to isolate themselves from possible sources of infection. See: Asbestos Devastated Libby, Montana. Now COVID-19 Hangs In The Air.
 

Mesothelioma Bibliography

Aug 28, 2020

A 12-page Spanish document on the latency of mesothelioma, the signature asbestos cancer, includes a useful list of relevant papers. Many of the documents cited are in English and online links are included which facilitate access. The latency period for mesothelioma in the papers varies from one to 75 years. Topics covered by the authors include: calculations regarding mesothelioma trends in various occupations, the hazard posed by the use of cosmetic talc and the affect of asbestos exposures on women, seafarers and asbestos workers. Information provided relates to developments in: Korea, Brazil, Germany, Italy, Australia, Lebanon, the US and the UK. See: Latencia del mesothelioma [Mesothelioma Latency].
 

Post-Disaster Hazard

Aug 27, 2020

In the aftermath of the explosion which ripped through the port and surrounding areas of Beirut on August 4, experts have warned that: “Asbestos in damaged buildings poses a significant health risk” not only to first responders and clean-up crews but to civilian populations. “The risk” said Charbel Afif, associate professor in air pollution at Université Saint Joseph (Beirut) “is that people will develop cancer.” Although many of the volunteers and responders wore masks to protect themselves from Covid-19, none wore the specialized masks used by asbestos removal operatives, Afif told reporters, because this equipment was scare in Lebanon. See: Cancer risk on the rise after Beirut blast, warn experts.
 

Japanese Construction Workers’ Lawsuit

Aug 27, 2020

On August 27, 2020, hearings began in the Sendai District Court in a case brought on behalf of ten Japanese construction workers injured by workplace asbestos exposures who are seeking damages from the Japanese Government as well as 12 manufacturers of asbestos-containing building materials. Only three of the former claimants are alive; the remaining seven died from asbestos diseases. The plaintiffs are seeking ¥38.5 million (~US$363,000) per worker on the grounds that the defendants had failed to provide protective equipment despite knowing that exposure to asbestos could be hazardous. See: Asbestos-exposed construction workers seek damages from government and firms.
 

Improvement in Mesothelioma Outcomes

Aug 27, 2020

New data from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare included in the publication Mesothelioma in Australia 2019 reported increased survival times for patients with the asbestos cancer mesothelioma. According to data covering the period 2012-16, 55% of people with mesothelioma survived for at least one year post diagnosis, 17% for 3 years and 10% for 5 years. All of these survival rates were significant increases on previous figures. Whilst occupational exposure to asbestos was found to be responsible for the disease in 78% of men with mesothelioma, only 7% of female mesothelioma patients had been exposed to asbestos at work. See: Mesothelioma patients are living longer after diagnosis, despite rising death rate.
 

New Asbestos Remediation Program

Aug 27, 2020

An online article in Cambio16 – a Spanish current affairs magazine – discussed a new asbestos remediation program in a Madrid neighborhood in the context of Spain’s asbestos legacy which saw 3 million tons of asbestos incorporated into the national infrastructure. This month (August 2020), the first large-scale action in Spain to remove asbestos roofing from residential properties, industrial warehouses, sports and cultural centers and public buildings began in the Orcasitas area of Madrid. The removal of asbestos roofing on these 1980s structures owned by the Ministry of Housing will be carried out on 116 buildings, each housing up to 32 families. See: España debe retirar más de 3 millones de toneladas de amianto de su vida cotidiana [Spain must remove more than 3 million tons of asbestos from its daily life].
 

Asbestos Advice

Aug 25, 2020

On August 22 & 23, 2020, a telephone advice line was operational from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. in the Japanese city of Kobe to provide information and advice about asbestos hazards for people who may have been occupationally exposed to asbestos. The service was run by the Asbestos Victims Relief Fund – a non-government organization (NGO) – and took calls such as one from a construction worker who had been exposed to asbestos on a building site. Masayuki Kanda, President of the NGO, expressed concern that: “some people are refraining from going to the hospital or consulting [doctors] because of the new coronavirus, even if they are feeling unwell.” See: アスベスト被害の電話相談 [Telephone consultation regarding asbestos damage].
 

Mesothelioma Research: Update

Aug 25, 2020

Scottish scientists investigating the causation of the asbestos-linked cancer malignant pleural mesothelioma last week called for urgent support for re-establishing research protocols after work had been suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic. According to Dr Carsten Hansen from the Centre for Inflammation Research at the University of Edinburgh: “Although we took great care in safeguarding our experiments and newly generated cellular model systems, unfortunately the timing of the complete lockdown meant that we lost a few critical cell lines that we now need to re-establish.” 200 people are diagnosed with mesothelioma in Scotland every year. See: Groundbreaking research into lung cancer caused by asbestos needs to recommence scientist says.
 

Interview: Dr. Domyung Paek

Aug 25, 2020

On August 22, 2020, a feature article was published in Korea about the work of Dr. Domyung Paek, a human rights campaigner, scientist and medical researcher who has fought for the rights of Korean victims of occupational diseases for over 30 years. Dr. Paek has been pivotal in mobilizing action on a variety of issues, including the hazards of asbestos exposures, injuries caused to semiconductor workers and the deadly risks posed by the use of humidifier disinfectants – taking part in public protests, speaking at press conferences and travelling internationally to collaborate with campaigners as well as medical colleagues. See: ‘연구활동가’ 백도명, ‘과학의 이름’으로 약자의 곁에 서다 [‘Research Activist' Domyung Paek, stands up for the weak under 'the name of science’].
 

Toxic Ships from Indonesia

Aug 25, 2020

On August 21, 2020, the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) called an urgent meeting with the private company operating the Sydney Ferries – TransDev Sydney Ferries – to discuss the discovery of asbestos-containing material on board four new 24m River Vessels. According to a letter sent to MUA members, the company had known about the asbestos since Tuesday (Aug 18) but “hid this knowledge” from its employees and the union. The vessels were, wrote the MUA, made abroad; an article from October 2019 (see: Anger as Syd ferries to be built overseas) said the contract for the river vessels had been awarded to an Indonesian company. See: SYDNEY FERRIES – Asbestos Found on New Vessels.
 

Schools’ Asbestos Scandal

Aug 24. 2020

On August 19, 2020, the Board of Education of the School District of Philadelphia issued a Report on renovation work at the Benjamin Franklin High School which resulted in a forced closure of the premises in 2019 and the relocation of all the students and staff. The School District of Philadelphia was harshly criticized for failures including poor dust and asbestos containment. The use of an outdated Asbestos Inspection Report resulted in multiple asbestos incidents; on September 25, 2019, exposed asbestos was found around air ducts in the school’s boiler room. See: Philly School Board ‘Deeply Regrets' Asbestos Issues at High School.
 

Asbestos Compensation Scheme

Aug 24, 2020

Since it was set up in 2017, the Swiss Asbestos Victims’ Fund (the Fund) has recognized 89 applications and paid out compensation of around CHF 9.5 million (US$10.4m). Mesothelioma victims of non-occupational asbestos exposures – such as wives who washed their husbands’ workclothes – received, on average, CHF140,000 (US$154,000) whilst victims of occupational exposure received CHF50,000 (US$55,000). Official Swiss bodies have confirmed the rise in cases of asbestos-related deaths despite the fact that Switzerland banned asbestos use 30 years ago. The Fund predicts that its coffers could run dry should further donations not be forthcoming. See: Erogati 9,5 milioni per le vittime di amianto [9.5 million paid to asbestos victims].
 

Victims’ Call for Action on Asbestos

Aug 24, 2020

On August 16, 2020, a group representing Quebec Asbestos Victims (AVAQ) publicised a letter to the Quebec Premier which called on him to take action as a matter of priority on recommendations in the report on The State and Management of Asbestos and Asbestos Mining Residues. AVAQ technical experts drew the Premier’s attention to: the need to lower the Quebec workplace asbestos exposure standard; the recommendation to support victims of asbestos diseases; and the requirements needed to ensure public and occupational safety prior to commencing work to exploit mining residue. See: Translation of AVAQ letter to Quebec’s Premier François Legault; original AVAQ letter (in French).
 

Miyagi Construction Workers Lawsuit

Aug 24, 2020

Following 16 class action asbestos lawsuits mounted by Japanese construction workers against the State and building material manufacturers, on August 26, 2020 a new class action lawsuit will be filed in Sendai District Court on behalf of construction workers in the Tohoku region who contracted lung cancer from occupational asbestos exposures; in the cases where workers are deceased, the claims will be issued in the name of surviving family members. The lawsuit will seek damages from the State and 12 building material manufacturers. This is the first such legal action brought in Tohoku. See: アスベストで健康被害 宮城の建設労働者ら提訴へ [Miyagi construction workers file lawsuit over asbestos injuries].
 

Supreme Court Upholds Asbestos Law

Aug 20, 2020

On August 18, 2020, a ruling by Brazil’s Supreme Court (STF) upheld a State law that held asbestos companies liable for paying compensation to injured workers exposed to asbestos at asbestos-cement factories. The legal challenge had been brought by the National Confederation of Industrial Workers which alleged that the issue at hand was outside the State’s jurisdiction. Law no. 4,341 / 2004, of the State of Rio de Janeiro was ruled constitutional by a majority of the STF Judges. See: STF mantém lei do RJ que responsabiliza empresas de fibrocimento por danos do amianto aos trabalhadores [STF upholds Rio de Janeiro law that holds asbestos companies liable for injuries to asbestos-cement workers].
 

National Asbestos Legacy

Aug 20, 2020

A new paper detailing the findings of researchers in Peru will be published in October 2020. The scientists correlated asbestos import data between 1965 and 2010 with the incidence of mesothelioma mortality between 2005 and 2014 and discovered that the highest rates of mesothelioma mortality were for the cities of Arequipa, Callao and Huancavelica and that both occupational and environmental asbestos exposures were causative. The authors of the paper concluded that the best way to end mesothelioma fatalities was for the government to institute a ban on the import of all types of asbestos, including chrysotile (white) asbestos. See: Geographic study of mortality due to mesothelioma in Peru and its evolution.
 

Asbestos at College

Aug 20, 2020

An expose which focused on the long-standing unaddressed hazard posed by the presence of asbestos-containing material in US college buildings cited multiple examples of inadequate practices at Penn State University; in the last ten years, Penn State spent “more money on landscaping than it did to abate asbestos.” Having investigated the asbestos situation on campus in the 1970s and 1980s, university officials realized the extent of the problem and the enormous cost of remediation; according to Pennsylvania Attorney Mike Robb, they made a conscious decision to remove “as little as possible.” See: Unwilling to pay to remove dangerous asbestos, universities across the U.S. claim it’s safe to ignore.
 

Asbestos Crime and Punishment

Aug 20, 2020

After the fire service put out a huge fire at a site in the Fuorigrotta district of Naples last week, agents of the Environmental Protection Department of the Naples Local Police began an investigation to identify the owners of the agricultural land on which the blaze took place and establish how and when banned asbestos-containing material had been dumped in the area. The site of the fire will remain locked down until the owners of the property have been identified and the polluters caught. Severe penalties for criminal incidents such as this can be issued by the Public Prosecutor’s Office under the Environmental Code. See: Incendio a Fuorigrotta, a fuoco discarica abusiva di Amianto [Fire in Fuorigrotta, illegal asbestos landfill fire].
 

Asbestos and the Environment

Aug 20, 2020

The Spanish Association to Save the Guadiana River, a civil society group campaigning to protect that river, has denounced the dumping of asbestos-cement waste in it – bringing the matter to the attention of Badajoz City Council, the Guadiana Hydrographic Confederation and the Seprona: the Civil Guard department tasked with protecting the environment. The activists expressed concerns regarding the public health hazard posed by the toxic contamination and said that some of the debris had been on the riverbank for up to three years. See: Denuncian ante el Seprona el vertido de amianto en el río [complaint to the Civil Guard about the dumping of asbestos in river].
 

Asbestos Post-Disaster Hazard

Aug 17, 2020

Technical experts and environmental activists have issued warnings about ongoing efforts by volunteers to clean up debris in Beirut after the cataclysmic explosion in the Port district which occurred earlier this month (August 4) in light of the lack of available information about the possible contamination of the air and water by toxic substances such as asbestos which might have been present in some of the buildings destroyed during the blast. Urging the cessation of rubble removal, Greenpeace Program Director Julian Jreissati categorized this activity as “irresponsible.” See: Beirut Explosion: Rubble Collected Randomly Amid Warnings of Dangerous Materials.
 

Environmental Asbestos Pollution

Aug 17, 2020

Residents in the former Quebec chrysotile (white) asbestos mining town of Thetford Mines are worried about contamination of the Bécancour river caused by toxic residues from mountains of mining waste. Despite their concerns, there has been no action by the Ministry of Environment to address the problem. Drinking water is taken from the river and local people use it for recreational purposes. The situation was recently highlighted in an investigation which confirmed the "inertia" of the Department of the Environment and its failure to collect data or assess the impact of the asbestos pollution. See: Des résidus d’amiante menacent des lacs et rivières [Asbestos residues threaten lakes and rivers].
 

Asbestos Victim Twice-Over

Aug 17, 2020

An in-depth article (August 15) about 70-year old Tasmanian Robert Williams described his 16-month battle to obtain compensation for the cancer which is killing him, citing instances where his claim was denied despite medical evidence documenting multiple workplace asbestos exposures during his 50 years as a builder. Reasons for rejecting his claim included his smoking history and atypical symptoms. It was only after hiring a lawyer, at a cost of $80,000, were the authorities persuaded in March 2020 to accept the evidence of an oncologist and two respiratory specialists that his fatal condition had been caused by asbestos exposure. See: Tasmanian Robert Williams’ fight for asbestos compensation ‘worse than cancer’.
 

Asbestos Hazard at Sea

Aug 17, 2020

An improvement notice has been served by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) on Diamond Offshore Drilling UK Ltd. giving the company until October 1, 2020 to rectify infringements of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 on the Ocean Valiant North Sea oil rig (see: HSE Notice served on Diamond Offshore Drilling). The offences which took place resulted from an incident on September 2, 2019 during which chrysotile asbestos fibers were dispersed following maintenance work. See: Diamond Offshore warned over spread of ‘asbestos debris’ on North Sea rig.
 

Asbestos Removal Subsidies

Aug 17, 2020

On August 13, 2020, the authorities in the South Korean county of Jangseong-gun announced that they would be continuing to support local efforts to remediate asbestos roofing on local properties. Since 2011, the county has supported the removal of asbestos tiles on 2,580 homes as well as on business premises, including warehouses, factories and barns. In 2020, applications for funding to remove asbestos on 316 properties have been approved; 255 of the subsidized projects have already been completed. See: 장성군, 노후 석면 슬레이트 처리 지원 [Jangseong-gun to support the removal of deteriorating asbestos roofing].
 

Irony: Clash of Asbestos Giants

Aug 17, 2020

A legal battle is raging between a former tenant – the state-owned Nexen Petroleum Company from China – of a 37 floor office building in Calgary, Canada and their landlord: a consortium of local investors and the Ontario government pension plan. Nexen moved out of the building more than a year ago because, they said, it was full of asbestos which the landlord refused to remove. The situation has a certain piquancy as Canada was the world’s largest producer of asbestos during the 20th century and China remains one of the world’s largest producers and users of asbestos and has been so for decades. See: 中海油指石棉超标 卡加利尼克森大厦成「鬼楼」 [CNOOC claims that asbestos exceeds the standard, Calgary Nixon Building becomes a “ghost building”].
 

Vietnam’s Asbestos Legacy

Aug 13, 2020

A Vietnamese article uploaded on August 11, 2020 which contained a warning about the hazard posed by exposure to asbestos-cement material featured the tragic story of 49 year-old Ms Quang Ninh now suffering from the signature asbestos cancer, mesothelioma. According to Dr. Nguyen Duc Hoanh – Head of Surgery in the Cardiology and Chest Intervention Department of Uong Bi Hospital – pleural mesothelioma is a fatal disease with a long latency period. The best way to avoid contracting mesothelioma is to avoid contact with asbestos-containing materials at work and at home. When contact is unavoidable protective equipment must be used. See: Hạn chế tiếp xúc với các vật liệu chứa amiăng [Limit contact with asbestos-containing materials].
 

Post-Disaster Alert

Aug 13, 2020

A Russian language article uploaded on August 5, 2020 warned of the post-disaster hazard posed by airborne asbestos in the aftermath of the devastating explosion in Beirut on August 4: “Any explosion releases toxic substances into the atmosphere. In the event of the Beirut emergency asbestos, which was previously used in the construction of buildings, could be in the air.” The author of the text speculated that amongst the buildings destroyed were ones built in the 1950s and 1960s when asbestos use was commonplace. See: Названо самое опасное вещество, оказавшееся в воздухе после взрыва в Бейруте [The most dangerous substance in the air after the explosion in Beirut is named].
 

Poison Pipes

Aug 13, 2020

An article uploaded on August 11, 2020, highlighted the deadly legacy posed by deteriorating asbestos-cement (AC) pipes – composed of 80% cement and 20% asbestos – in Canada’s water delivery system. According to the National Research Council of Canada close to 20% of the water main distribution system in North America contains AC pipes, most of which were installed decades ago; over time, the condition of the pipes deteriorates and, as a consequence, asbestos fibers are released “into the drinking water and could pose a hazard of malignant tumors of the gastrointestinal tract and other organs in consumers.” There is no federal plan to address the continued threat posed by these pipes in Canada. See: Poison Pipes.
 

Gross Negligence Verdict

Aug 13, 2020

A precedent has been set by a ruling this month handed down by labor judge Giampiero Panico acknowledging the causal link between workplace asbestos exposure and pleural mesothelioma contracted by a maintenance electrician who died from another disease: intestinal perforation. The Judge, who found the Italian Railway Network [Rete Ferroviaria Italiana] which had employed the deceased along the Sestri Levante to La Spezia railway line from 1963 to 1990 had been guilty of gross negligence and awarded the family €40,000. See: Sassi con amianto, ferrovie condannate [Stones with asbestos, railway condemned].
 

Toxic Talc

Aug 10, 2020

On August 5, 2020, a three-judge panel of the New Jersey Superior Court overruled a decision by trial judge Nelson Johnson which had thrown out expert evidence by Graham Colditz and Daniel Cramer in a jury trial brought against Johnson & Johnson (J&J) by two plaintiffs with ovarian cancer. The claimants had used J&J’s talc-based baby powder which, they alleged, had caused their fatal cancers. The consequences of this ruling may include the reinstatement of 1,000 other cancer cases against J&J in New Jersey. The company is headquartered in New Brunswick, New Jersey and had hoped that transferring the talc litigation to the state might have given it a “home-court advantage.” It seems not to be the case. See: J&J Stung by New Jersey Court Ruling Reviving Talc Cancer Claims.
 

Addressing Quebec’s Asbestos Legacy

Aug 10, 2020

The long-awaited findings of Quebec’s Independent Office of Public Hearings on the Environment regarding public and environmental asbestos health hazards were uploaded on August 7 (L’état des lieux et la gestion de l’amiante et des résidus miniers amiantés). The 343-page report, which is only in French, highlighted a multiplicity of failings and made recommendations including: tightening Quebec’s occupational exposure standard to 0.1f/cc for all types of asbestos, including chrysotile; creating an agency to oversee the management and safe elimination of asbestos; and ensuring that any mining of asbestos mining waste not expose workers to “to additional risk of harm.” See: Quebec Commission of Inquiry releases landmark report on asbestos.
 

Cancer Spike in Asbestos Heartland

Aug 10, 2020

In the last decade, the incidence of cancer in Russia’s Orenburg region – home to one of the country’s largest chrysotile asbestos mines – has grown by 22%. The author of this article rehashed asbestos industry propaganda which purport that the use of chrysotile asbestos is harmless blaming the increasing cancer rate on the harshness of the sun – “The evil steppe sun” – and the increasing longevity of Russians. See: Оренбургская область и рак: Ясный оказался в числе благополучных регионов [Orenburg region and cancer: Yasny was among the prosperous regions].
 

Switzerland’s Asbestos Legacy

Aug 10, 2020

Despite a national asbestos ban (1990) and regulations mandating strict requirements to minimize hazardous exposures, citizens remain at risk from the hidden presence of asbestos in thousands of Swiss buildings; 90% of buildings constructed before 1990 contain asbestos. The Swiss trade union UNIA has been educating its members regarding the asbestos hazard for years and is frequently called upon to take action on workplace incidents. In July, 2020 the inadequacy of respiratory protection face masks being used in Switzerland was exposed as a result of which proceedings were initiated against the importers and distributors. See: L’amiante reste une menace en Suisse [Asbestos remains a threat in Switzerland].
 

Piedmont Asbestos Eradication Program

Aug10, 2020

On August 6, 2020, the Piedmont Regional Bulletin included news from the Councillor for the Environment of the Piedmont Region of a €1.1 million allocation for the remediation of asbestos-containing material in schools and hospitals. Successful applicants can claim the costs for 100% of reclamation work including removal, transport and disposal. The deadline for the submission of claims to the Regional Directorate for the Environment, Energy and Territory is October 30, 2020. See: Oltre un milione di euro per la bonifica di manufatti contenenti amianto in scuole e ospedali [Over one million euros for the remediation of artifacts containing asbestos in schools and hospitals].
 

Asbestos Crackdown

Aug 4, 2020

Authorities in the South Korean Province of Gyeonggi will be cracking down on infringements of demolition industry asbestos regulations and the illegal disposal of asbestos waste between August 10 and 28, 2020 according to an announcement on August 4 by the Gyeonggi-do Special Judicial Police Agency. Unlike previous investigations in cities such as Anseong and Siheung, this initiative will target illegal operations throughout the province. At least 4,000 structures in Gyeonggi contain asbestos according to government figures released in June 2020. See:  특사경, 폐석면 무단투기·매립 등 불법 처리행위 집중 수사 [Investigation of illegal handling activities such as special shipments, illegal dumping and recycling of asbestos waste].
 

Asbestos and Lung Cancer

Aug 4, 2020

In a press release issued by the Ministry of Health of Belarus to mark World Lung Cancer Day on August 1, the increase in the incidence of lung cancer in Russia was blamed on multiple factors including tobacco smoking, air pollution and exposure to asbestos. Russia had the 24th highest rate of lung cancer in men in 2018 with an age-standardised rate of 48.2 per 100,000. As the world’s biggest producer of chrysotile (white) asbestos, thousands of workers routinely experience occupational exposures to asbestos, an acknowledged cause of lung cancer. See: 1 августа - Всемирный день борьбы с раком легких [August 1 – World Lung Cancer Day].
 

Asbestos Waste: A Toxic Legacy

Aug 4, 2020

Last week, the Spanish trade union Comisiones Obreras (CCOO) denounced the widespread dumping of asbestos waste and condemned local authorities for failing to address this public health problem. In the union’s press release, they highlighted illegal dumping of asbestos-cement debris in the southern part of Madrid, and especially in Pinto and Getafe. The CCOO called for the implementation of “strict protocols” to prevent the fly-tipping and urged that local government make this a priority issue. See: Comisiones Obreras alerta sobre el peligro de vertidos de amianto en Pinto [Workers' Commissions warns of the danger of asbestos spills in Pinto].
 

Mesothelioma: Translational Research

Aug 4, 2020

A paper in the July 2020 issue of the American Journal Clinical Cancer Research by researchers from the Medical University of Vienna (see: Telomerase Reverse Transcriptase Promoter Mutations Identify a Genomically Defined and Highly Aggressive Human Pleural Mesothelioma Subgroup) provided new prognostic information and suggested targeted treatment strategies for patients with an aggressive and genetically distinct form of malignant pleural mesothelioma. The researchers discovered a mechanism responsible for reactivating the TERT gene – excess production of which activates the telomerase enzyme which promotes growth of cancer cells. See: Researchers identify targeted treatment strategy for malignant pleural mesothelioma.
 

Asbestos Alert

Jul 31, 2020

A feature article in a Vietnam news outlet last Sunday (July 26, 2020), highlighted the occupational and public health hazard posed by exposure to asbestos in Vietnam, stating that: “The cancer rate of workers exposed to asbestos was 1.8 times higher than that of non-exposed workers.” Citing copious medical evidence and scientific findings about the human health hazard posed by asbestos exposures, the author of this article pointed out the risk posed to people living near asbestos-processing factories. Unfortunately, misinformation is also included in the text which alleged that asbestos when incorporated into asbestos-cement was not “harmful.” See: Nguy cơ chết người từ bụi khí amiăng [Deadly risk from asbestos].
 

Asbestos Protest!

Jul 31, 2020

During a July 29, 2020 fact-finding trip of Mikhail Degtyarev – Acting Governor of Khabarovsk Krai (one of Russia’s largest territorial units) – residents of  Komsomolsk City mounted a protest outside the town hall over the health hazard posed by their living in asbestos-riddled apartments in the “Berlin” neighborhood. The demonstrators asked for the Governor’s intervention in helping them secure alternative accommodation, free from asbestos, rats and fleas. The toxic properties were constructed as temporary housing for builders in the 1980s; much of the material used came from Germany. See: Жители Комсомольска-на-Амуре пожаловались Дегтяреву на крыс и асбест [Residents of Komsomolsk-on-Amur complained to Degtyarev about rats and asbestos].
 

Asbestos Mobilization

Jul 31, 2020

Former employees of the Matra firm, based in Romorantin, Central France, have formed an association in collaboration with the CGT trade union to support asbestos victims and campaign for the recognition and compensation of their occupational illnesses. In November, 2019, the Primary Health Insurance Fund recognized the asbestos-related disease of a former Matra employee as occupationally caused. During its heyday, the company had been involved in the manufacture of cars, bicycles, aeronautics and weaponry. See: Romorantin: l’amiante, nouveau combat pour les ex-Matra [Romorantin: asbestos, a new fight for the ex-Matra (workers)].
 

Asbestos at University

Jul 31, 2020

Another member of the staff of the University of Montreal (UoM) has succumbed to an occupationally-caused asbestos-related disease. Computer scientist Yves Charland died, aged 73, on November 10, 2019 from the signature asbestos cancer, mesothelioma. For 20 years, he had worked in the physics department in a building insulated with asbestos and where asbestos removal work took place from 2011 to 2014. Three other employees of the UoM also contracted mesothelioma from workplace exposures: former secretary Sandra Ohayon, emeritus professor of sociology Jean Renaud and a deceased janitor employed at UoM from 1966 to 1968. See: L’amiante derrière la mort d’un ex-employé de l’UdeM, selon la CNESST [Asbestos behind the death of a former UoM employee, according to the CNESST].
 

Victim’s Verdict

Jul 29, 2020

In a scathing verdict handed down in the High Court on July 27, 2020, which lambasted the behaviour of legal advisors working for the Ministry of Defence, Judge Allan Gore QC found for the widow of shipyard worker Bhanu Sivaji who died in 2015 from mesothelioma as a result of asbestos exposure at the Sembawang naval dockyard in Singapore between 1953 and 1968. Mr. Sivaji’s place of work had been operated by the Ministry of Defence. The Judge, who was highly critical of the delays in bringing the case to court and the elevated legal costs which ensued, granted the Claimant’s applications to amend the Particulars of Claim and the Claim Form. See: Shiji SIVAJI vs. Ministry of Defence.
 

Asbestos Protests in Croatia

Jul 29, 2020

On Saturday night (July 25, 2020) scores of local people took part in a public rally in the “most neglected district” of Zadar, Croatia to protest the depositing of 78 tonnes of asbestos in their town. The asbestos had been stripped from a training ship, the Glaleb – formerly the official yacht of the late President of Yugoslavia Marshall Tito – and dumped in the town between May 6 and June 18, 2020 from the port of Rijeka. Another demonstration is being planned for Saturday, August 1, at 9 a.m. during which participants will walk through the town demanding their right to live a life free from toxic exposures. See: AZBEST U DVORIŠTU Hocemo igralište, a ne otrov! [ASBESTOS IN THE YARD We want a playground, not poison!].
 

Asbestos in Schools

Jul 29, 2020

A July 24, 2020 article reported that Portugal’s Education Minister Tiago Brandão Rodrigues reconfirmed a June 2020 promise that the government would pay 100% of all asbestos removal costs to decontaminate the country’s schools; a budget of €60 million had been allocated for this work. Municipal and regional authorities will not be expected, said the Minister, to contribute to the costs of the remediation effort. According to Rodrigues although 450,000 square meters of asbestos had been removed from school premises over the last four years "there is much more to be done.” See: Ministro da Educação diz que Governo pagará 100% da retirada do amianto das escolas [Education Minister says Government will pay 100% of cost for asbestos removal from schools].
 

August 2020: Truth or Lies?

Jul 29, 2020

On July 24, 2020, Quebec’s Office of Public Hearings on the Environment announced that its report on the investigation into “The inventory and management of asbestos and asbestos mining residues” had been submitted to the Minister of the Environment Benoit Charrette and would be uploaded to the internet within 15 days. The objective of the enquiry was to assess a multiplicity of asbestos-related issues in Quebec with a focus on their impact on public and occupational health. After so many years of denial and obfuscation, asbestos activists await the report with a good deal of trepidation. See: Amiante: le rapport du BAPE rendu public d’ici 15 jours [Asbestos: the BAPE report to be made public within 15 days].
 

Asbestos Tourist Town in the Urals

Jul 27, 2020

In an online article about unusual but rewarding tourist destinations in Russia, a visit to the Uralasbest asbestos mining town in the Urals comes highly recommended. Guided tours of the eight kilometer wide quarry, the factory and the museum are organized by the company. Reading like a corporate press release, the article reported that: “The Ural enterprise is one of the largest and oldest producers of chrysotile asbestos in the world,” accounting for 21% of annual global output and 41% of Russian output every year. Eighty per cent of Russian chrysotile production is exported. See: Туристам расскажут, кем работал на уральском заводе президент Тайваня [Tourists will be told about when the Taiwan President worked at the Ural plant].
 

More Toxic Talc!

Jul 27, 2020

Last week, BASF SE – the world’s biggest chemical maker – and the New York-based law firm of Cahill, Gordon & Reindel LLP agreed to jointly pay a combined $72.5 million to settle claims that they had hidden evidence that certain talc products, sourced from the company’s talc mine in Vermont, had contained asbestos, in an effort to defeat thousands of lawsuits, according to papers filed in a federal court in New Jersey. The total value of the agreement is almost $100 million when legal fees and others costs are added. See: BASF, Cahill Law Firm to Pay $72.5 Million in Talc-Scam Deal.
 

2032 Deadline in Catalonia!

Jul 27, 2020

The Commission for the Eradication of Asbestos in Catalonia, established in 2019 to address the region’s multiple asbestos challenges, met for the second time in July, 2020 to agree on a plan of action for 2020-21 as part of a coordinated program to make the territory asbestos-free by 2032. In the short-term, the Commission will develop an asbestos hazard training plan for public administration staff, work to raise public asbestos awareness via the development of online resources, and prioritize the removal of asbestos-containing products from schools. See: Aprovat el Pla nacional per a l’erradicació de l’amiant de Catalunya per al 2032 [Approval of the National Plan for the Eradication of Asbestos in Catalonia by 2032].
 

Mesothelioma Care in Kent

Jul 27, 3030

It was announced last week that Toni Fleming had been appointed to fill a new post for a specialist nurse in the asbestos cancer hotspot of East Kent. Nurse Fleming – who has a background in the treatment of lung cancer and mesothelioma patients – was named the Mesothelioma UK clinical nurse specialist for East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust. This post is being fully funded for a period of two years by the Mavis Nye Foundation, set up in 2017 by the UK’s longest surviving mesothelioma patient. See: New asbestos-related cancer nurse specialist for East Kent.
 

Conviction of Australian Politician

Jul 27, 2020

Following a protracted legal battle between Grafil Pty Ltd – owned by the former Mayor of Port Stephens Bruce MacKenzie – and the NSW Environment Protection Authority, Grafil was found guilty by the Land and Environment Court of running an illegal waste dump. The ruling could result in a penalty of up to $12 million in asbestos waste clean-up costs and fines, even though only 634.64 grams of asbestos were detected. “Whilst that might,” said Justice Preston “be ‘incredibly minor’ in comparison to the upper estimate of 44,000 tonnes of materials in the stockpiles, it nevertheless was sufficient to cause severe risk to human health…” See: Former Port Stephens mayor Bruce MacKenzie's family company, Grafil, and his son Robert found guilty in $12 million illegal waste dump case.
 

Asbestos Update 2020

Jul 23, 2020

On July 23, 2020, Australia’s Union Aid Abroad- APHEDA held a one hour webinar which addressed contemporary issues relating to continuing asbestos use in India and Indonesia during the Covid-19 pandemic. Using ZOOM technology, Pooja Gupta from the Indian Ban Asbestos Network and Muchamed Darisman from the Indonesian Ban Asbestos Network gave presentations detailing current levels of asbestos use and strategies being pursued to raise asbestos awareness and counteract industry pressure on governments and regional bodies. Other speakers were APHEDA’s Kate Lee and Liam O’Brien from the Australian Council of Trade Unions. See: Asbestos Ban Update: Campaigning in a global crisis.
 

Metro Refurbishment: Asbestos Risks

Jul 23, 2020

Following a morning press conference held in Seoul, Korea by the Environmental Health Citizens’ Center (EHCC) – an NGO which brings together experts, activists and victims to address the pollution crisis in Asia – on July 20, 2020, journalists were invited on an accompanied tour to City Hall Station to observe first-hand the dangers posed by the liberation of tremolite asbestos during refurbishment work on Metro Line 2 in the Seoul Subway. EHCC spokesmen urged that all work at this site be stopped immediately and that an emergency safety investigation be undertaken as a matter of priority. See: 환경보건시민센터 활동 언론보도 [Press Release from Environmental Health Citizen Center].
 

Asbestos: No Thanks!

Jul 23, 2020

A public inquiry in the French town of Kerlaz in the northwest of the country which began on June 19 will end on July 29. The focus of the inquiry is whether the Guenneau Company should be allowed to increase its storage operation for the disposal of inert waste and bound asbestos at its site in the Merdy Quarry. Local people have been vocal in their opposition based on concerns over increases in environmental pollution and volume of traffic. The company is requesting authorization to operate the site for another 30 years. See: Des riverains inquiets par le stockage d’amiante à Kerlaz [Local residents worried about asbestos storage in Kerlaz].
 

Asbestos Cancer Cluster

Jul 21, 2020

A thirty-five year old building in Braga, Portugal (a town 360 kilometers from Lisbon) may be responsible for a cluster of asbestos cancer cases amongst police staff at the Braga Criminal Investigation Department. The building, which has never been refurbished, houses the headquarters of the Judiciary Police. There have been 12 cancer deaths over the last decade amongst Judicial Police inspectors from the Braga department; a 2016 report by the Union of Criminal Investigation Staff sent to the Ombudsman led to an inspection of the premises on July 20, 2020. See: Investigada ligação entre amianto e cancros na PJ Braga [Investigation of link between asbestos and cancers at PJ Braga].
 

Subsidizing Asbestos Waste Reclamation

Jul 21, 2020

Following an investment of $25.9m by the Quebec National Assembly in a project to reclaim magnesium –intended for use by the automotive and aeronautical industries – from decades of waste produced by the mining of asbestos, another government subsidy of ~$800,000 was announced last week by Quebec’s Minister of Labor, Employment and Social Solidarity Jean Boulet for the training of 92 workers by the Alliance Magnesium company. See: Le ministre Jean Boulet annonce près de 800 000 $ à Alliance Magnésium pour la création et le maintien d'emplois en Estrie [CPG Minister Jean Boulet announces nearly $800,000 to Alliance Magnesium for the creation and maintenance of jobs in Estrie].
 

Asbestos: One Family’s Story

Jul 21, 2020

An interview with author Alberto Prunetti about his book “Asbestos,” discussed the background to the work: the trauma experienced by his father Renato Prunetti – an Italian worker who died in 2004 aged 59 as a result of workplace exposure to asbestos – and members of his family. The author described the insensitivity of medical practitioners and the opacity of the legal system, how only though persistence of his family was permission finally obtained in 2010 – 6 years after he had died – for Renato to retire prematurely due to occupational asbestos exposure. Versions of Alberto's book in Spanish and Catalan are available titled Hoja de Lata and Tigre de Paper, respectively. See: El amianto es un asesino en serie que goza de la protección de los tribunals [Asbestos is a serial killer which enjoys the protection of the courts].
 

Quebec’s First Asbestos Strike

Jul 21, 2020

An exhibit in June 2020 to mark the centenary of the end of Canada’s first national internment and its effects on the Ukrainian-Canadian community included details of the first asbestos mining strike in Quebec which was led by immigrant workers from Ukraine, Nicolas Kachuk and Ivan Chaprun. Harsh conditions and reduced wages were the causes for the strike at the Black Lake chrysotile (white) asbestos mine which started on October 8, 1915. Due to the widespread backing of the stoppage – the strike was supported by 2,500 workers – the company gave in to the demands and reinstated the wages for the asbestos miners to the levels of August, 1914. See: Exhibit remembers internees sent to Black Lake asbestos mines.
 

“Invisible” Asbestos Taskmasters

Jul 16, 2020

A June 10, 2020 complaint to Google LLC by the Kusto Group, “a Kazakh multinational with extensive interests in the chrysotile [asbestos] industry” cited a total of 6 instances of copyright infringement by the Australian website: New Matilda and the website of the Colombian Asbestos Free Foundation. The subject of the complaints was the unapproved use on two occasions of a photograph of Daniel Kunin, Kusto’s Managing Director, and on four occasions of a photograph of Yerkin Tatishev, Kusto’s CEO. See: DMCA (Copyright) Complaint to Google.
 

Asbestos in Schools Scandal

Jul 16, 2020

This July 15, 2020 article by Robert Campion detailed damning documents obtained through a Freedom of Information request revealing an attempted cover-up of an asbestos scandal at the Newcastle East Public School, a heritage building in New South Wales (NSW), Australia. A purported remediation program for the school in 2019 was “a cover to deal with the far greater problem of secretly eliminating friable asbestos, already found in multiple locations throughout the school, over the Christmas period.” Attempts by NSW authorities to dismiss concerns of parents and staff have proved fruitless in light of evidence regarding the toxic state of the school. See: Australian authorities sought to cover-up asbestos removal at Newcastle school.
 

Toxic Asbestos Legacy

Jul 16, 2020

The Spanish Society of Medical Oncology (SEOM) has endorsed a widely-supported manifesto calling for the development of a comprehensive asbestos law to address the asbestos challenges facing the country. Although asbestos use was banned in Spain in 2002, there is no regulation of the hazard posed by installed asbestos-containing products, no registry of asbestos-related diseases and a national underreporting of these diseases. In his statement, the President of the SEOM Álvaro Rodríguez-Lescure warned that asbestos incorporated within the Spanish infrastructure constitutes a hazard not only to workers but also to members of the public. See: La Sociedad de Oncología Médica pide una la ley del amianto para “evitar muertes” [The Society of Medical Oncology calls for an asbestos law to “prevent deaths”].
 

Action on Asbestos in Wales

Jul 15, 2020

On July 14, 2020 the Workforce Partnership Council – a tripartite social partnership structure of trade unions, employers and the Welsh Government – published a joint statement on managing asbestos in public buildings in Wales “in recognition of the serious health hazards associated with exposure to asbestos and the importance attributed to the safe identification and management of asbestos wherever it is found in public buildings.” Acknowledging the UK’s epidemic of asbestos-related mortality, the Welsh Government pledged to help raise awareness of the asbestos hazard which continues to endanger both members of the public and working people. See: Joint statement on managing asbestos in public buildings by the Welsh Government.
 

Asbestos in the Capital

Jul 15, 2020

On July 12, 2020, the Madrid City Council announced a program to inspect 63 of the city’s tunnels, after asbestos had been found in the Azca tunnel in the capital’s financial center. This tunnel, and 13 others, had previously been designated as in great need of renovation due to their age and dilapidated state. According to trade union officials: “of the 3,600 panels lining the Azca [tunnel], 85% contain asbestos.” See: Madrid pone en marcha una campaña para eliminar el amianto de los túneles de la capital [Madrid launches a campaign to eliminate asbestos from the capital's tunnels].
 

Asbestos Legacy

Jul 15, 2020

The illegal disposal of asbestos-containing debris continues to pose a serious problem to the citizens and authorities in Italy. The Guardia di Finanza – an Italian law enforcement agency under the authority of the Minister of Economy and Finance – recently announced that it had identified twelve sites where tonnes of hazardous waste – including asbestos debris – had been found. It was established that the toxic site where the waste was found was owned by the town of Scanzano in Southern Italy. The Guardia have tasked the town with the remediation of the area. See: Guardia di Finanza: sequestrati dodici siti con tonnellate di amianto abbandonato [Guardia di Finanza: twelve sites seized with tons of abandoned asbestos].
 

Asbestos in Schools

Jul 15, 2020

On July 13, 2020, a response was issued by the French Ministry of National Education to a Senate question submitted on April 16, 2020 which asked: “What measures does the Minister of National Education intend to take to ensure the safety of children and school staff against the presence of asbestos?” The answer from the Ministry reaffirmed the high priority the Government placed on the remediation of schools and pledged that although this issue was one for local authorities, the Ministry had – in collaboration with other Ministries – created a new unit to address the challenges posed by asbestos contamination of the country’s schools. See: Présence d'amiante dans les établissements scolaires [Presence of asbestos in schools].
 

Occupational Asbestos Education

Jul 15 2020

The Asbestos Victims’ Prevention Center – a new center for the training of asbestos removal operatives, supervisors and others – has opened in the city of Incheon in north-western South Korea. The Center provides on-the-job training to update knowledge and skills of first-line technicians and managers of asbestos removal projects. Similar initiatives in other regional centers are also working to raise industry standards; they include: the Chungnam Asbestos Victims Prevention Center and the Daejeon Asbestos Victims Prevention Center. See: (사)석면피해예방지원센터, 전국 석면종사자 대상 직무교육 나서[Asbestos Victims Prevention Center, to provide job training for asbestos (removal) workers nationwide].
 

São Paulo Carrier Going to Turkey

Jul 13, 2020

On July 1, 2020 Emgepron – a state owned company linked to Brazil’s Ministry of Defence – announced the French Government’s decision regarding the disposal of the São Paulo aircraft carrier, bought in 2000 from France and formerly named FS Foch. The company awarded the contract for the disposal of the ship was: Mediterranean Ship Breaking; the contract for the dismantling of the vessel was awarded to a ship recycling specialist in Aliga/Izmir, Turkey. Other bidders, including companies based at the Alang ship-breaking yards in Gujarat, India, were unsuccessful in their bids. See: Ata da reunião para  pré-credencimento licitação  de alienação de bens alienação [Minutes of the meeting for pre-accreditation bidding for the sale of assets].
 

Asbestos Remediation Program

Jul 13, 2020

The authorities of Jeju Island – the largest island in South Korea – have reported a huge increase in the number of applications for financial support for the removal of asbestos roofing from business and domestic properties. A spokesman for the provincial government reported on July 12, 2020 that by the end of June, a total of 1,072 requests had been received since February 5, 2020; 648 had been approved. An average of 228 applications – which came from claimants in 40+ towns and villages – were made per month. Up to the end of 2019, aid had been given for the removal of asbestos roofing from 6,553 buildings; in 2020, funding had been allocated for 1,590 grants. See: 제주, 석면 슬레이트 지붕 철거 지원사업 신청자 급증 [Jeju, asbestos slate roof demolition support applications surge].
 

National Asbestos Audit: Update

Jul 13, 2020

On July 8, 2020, Portugal’s Minister for the Environment and Climate Action João Pedro Matos Fernandes released a list of 3,868 public buildings in need of asbestos remediation work to a Parliamentary Commission. The majority (84%) of the affected buildings belonged to the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of National Defense and the Ministry of Justice. Parliamentary Deputies expressed concerns over the disposal of contaminated construction and demolition waste in landfills and the degree of danger to the environment and members of the public from that source. See: Edifícios com necessidade de intervenção e remoção de amianto são 3.868 [Buildings requiring intervention and removal of asbestos number 3,868].
 

Calls to Ban Asbestos!

Jul 13, 2020

An online petition sponsored by Australia’s Union Aid Abroad (APHEDA) has called on international agencies and lenders – such as the World Bank, Asian Development Bank and Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank which have offered “tens of billions of dollars in grants and additional ‘concessional’ credit to the world’s poorest countries” – to ensure that Covid-19 health and economic stimulus funding is not used to purchase asbestos-containing products for the construction of new infrastructure projects such as hospitals and other public buildings. See: To World Bank, IMF and AIIB: No asbestos in Covid 19 relief.
 

Producing Banned Asbestos in Brazil

Jul 13, 2020

Last week, Eternit, S.A., – formerly Brazil’s largest asbestos conglomerate – reported that, despite the national asbestos ban enshrined under a 2017 Supreme Court (SC) ruling, it planned to process thousands of tons of ore to produce asbestos fiber. The company said, it was allowed to do so under the terms of a contentious Goiás State law which countermanded the SC’s opinion. The work will be undertaken by the Eternit subsidiary SAMA, which operated the chrysotile (white) asbestos mine at Minaçu. It remains to be seen how the asbestos shipments will reach the ports as transport over public highways is forbidden. See: Eternit vai processar minério disponível para extração em instalações da SAMA [Eternit to process ore available for extraction at SAMA facilities].
 

Asbestos in Schools

Jul 13, 2020

Quercus, a Portuguese environmental organization founded in 1985, has issued warnings about hazards posed by hasty asbestos removal work, stating that government plans to remediate asbestos in 578 schools during the Summer months were not feasible due to a shortage of specialized operatives and the large number of premises affected. The lack of protective equipment and clothing, without which contractors would be at risk from toxic exposures, also presented a challenge. See: Profissionais que removem amianto podem estar em risco por falta de materiais de proteção, avisa Quercus [Professionals who remove asbestos may be at risk for lack of protective materials, warns Quercus].
 

Johnson & Johnson Accused!

Jul 9, 2020

Reuters has reported action by international groups condemning Johnson & Johnson (J&J) for its policy which has withdrawn asbestos-tainted baby powder from North American markets but not from overseas markets. In a statement by the US non-profit organization and advocacy group Black Women for Wellness, which was supported by 170 groups from 50+ countries, the health advocates questioned J&J’s avowed commitment to “fighting racial inequality” when it continued to target “Black and Brown consumers” in marketing efforts for its iconic but potentially toxic baby powder. See: Nonprofits urge Johnson & Johnson to halt sales of Baby Powder globally.
 

Protests over Asbestos Disposal

Jul 9, 2020

Local authorities and campaigners in the District of Porto in Northern Portugal, who have been protesting since 2018 over the perpetration of an environmental crime, have demanded that the Minister for the Environment “immediately ban asbestos [deposits] at the Recivalongo landfill.” Last month (June, 2020), it was announced that the political assembly of Valongo would initiate court action to shut the landfill over concerns regarding public health and environmental damage arising from serious, non-compliance with mandatory measures of the licensing entity. See: Valongo pede ao Governo “imediata proibição” de amianto no aterro em Sobrado [Valongo asks the Government for an “immediate ban” on asbestos at the Sobrado landfill].
 

Asbestos Hunger Strike

Jul 9, 2020

A sit-in by workers mounting a hunger strike began on July 6, 2020 in front of the town hall of Priolo Gargallo, a city on the island of Syracuse, southern Italy. During their employment by the Belleli company, the protestors had all been exposed to asbestos. An adverse July 4, 2020 verdict by the Catania Court of Appeal nullified a decision which had recognized social security rights and benefits for ten people who had worked at the asbestos-contaminated site. A spokesman for the demonstrators called for a ministerial act to administratively recognize workers' rights. See: Priolo, sit in e sciopero della fame di 10 lavoratori esposti ad Amianto [Priolo, sit-in and hunger strike of 10 workers exposed to asbestos].
 

Asbestos Eradication: Update

Jul 9, 2020

On July 6, 2020, deputies from Portugal’s centre-right Social Democratic Party tabled a series of questions for the Minister for the Environment and Climate Action about the presence, removal and deposition of asbestos in public buildings. Amongst the requests made in the document submitted were: the publication of a list of all asbestos-containing public buildings; the provision of the timetable and details of the nation-wide asbestos removal program in schools; and assurances regarding the safe disposal of asbestos-containing waste and debris including clarification of relevant legislation. See: Remoção e deposição de amianto: O que vai ser feito? [Asbestos removal and deposition: What will be done?].
 

Pioneering Covid-19 Initiative

Jul 7, 2020

Thousands of asbestos-injured citizens in Rio de Janeiro will benefit from a new outreach program by Brazil’s National School of Public Health (ENSP/Fiocruz) which is being coordinated by ENSP director and pulmonologist Hermano Castro and financed by the Public Labor Ministry with funds obtained from judicial penalties against Petrobras, a Brazilian petroleum multinational. Members of the medical team will conduct telephone and on-site interviews to support and assist these patients who are at high-risk of contracting Covid-19. See: ENSP/Fiocruz prestará assistência aos trabalhadores expostos ao amianto no contexto da pandemia [ENSP / Fiocruz will provide assistance to workers exposed to asbestos in the context of the pandemic].
 

Pioneering Asbestos Program

Jul 7, 2020

On July 1, 2020, the authorities in the South Korean Province of South Chungcheong announced plans to conduct an asbestos health survey, in collaboration with personnel from the Cheonan Hospital of Soonchunnhyang University, of residents in neighborhoods near a former asbestos mine. Residents over the age of 40 in Hongseong, Boryeong and Cheongyang who lived for more than 10 years within a 2 km radius of the mine will be interviewed, screened and medically examined as appropriate with follow-up testing conducted of those with symptoms. See: 충남, 석면 노출 우려지역 건강영향조사 재개 [Chungnam resumes health impact survey on asbestos-exposed areas].
 

Calls for Asbestos Action

Jul 7, 2020

Más Madrid – a community campaigning group in the Madrid neighborhood of Getafe – on July 3, 2020 protested the municipal authority’s failure to follow-up on a 2019 commitment to implement an asbestos eradication plan. Getafe is, according to the group, an asbestos hotspot due, not only to the former operations of the Uralita asbestos factory, but also to the widespread incorporation of asbestos in the built environment and “the state of neglect in which the industrial estates are, where illegal fiber cement discharges accumulate.” See: GETAFE/ Insisten en la necesidad de elaborar un plan para la retirada del amianto en el municipio [GETAFE / Insistence on the need to develop a plan for the removal of asbestos in the municipality].
 

Wittenoom: The Legacy

Jul 7, 2020

A historical novel about the health catastrophe caused by the commercial exploitation of asbestos at Western Australia’s Wittenoom crocidolite (blue) asbestos mine has been published by New Zealander Kara Douglas, whose father died aged 53 from the signature asbestos cancer, mesothelioma. The focus of The Air that we Breathe is the story of an Italian couple who move to the town of Wittenoom in 1961 to work at the asbestos mine. In an interview, the author said the objective of her book was mainly to: “increase awareness of asbestos for people reading it and hopefully save lives. They might read my book and think otherwise if they come across asbestos.” See: Driven to tell doomed WA town’s stories.
 

Ministry Officials Compensated

Jul 3, 2020

On June 30, 2020, an Administrative Court of Appeal in Nantes, France ruled that nine former employees of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs were entitled to receive up to €11,000 for asbestos exposures experienced whilst working at the landmark Tripod building in Nantes between 1972 and 1993. Verdicts in dozens of similar lawsuits initiated by work colleagues of the claimants in this case and other plaintiffs who were similarly exposed to asbestos at work are expected in the coming days. See: Amiante au Tripode de Nantes: neuf fonctionnaires indemnisés [Asbestos at the Nantes Tripode: nine officials compensated].
 

Mesothelioma: Update

Jul 3, 2020

PhD student Synat Keam, who is researching immunotherapy and radiotherapy combination treatments for mesothelioma at Australia’s National Centre for Asbestos Related Diseases, is this year’s recipient of the Douglas Peter Swift Scholarship. Keam plans to use the scholarship to investigate “immune checkpoint blockade treatments, which is a type of immunotherapy that works by enabling T cells to kill cancer cells.” Douglas Swift, who was exposed to asbestos whilst living in the asbestos mining town of Wittenoom, Western Australia, died of mesothelioma aged 53. His family and friends set up this scholarship in his memory. See: Researcher aims to find better way to treat deadly asbestos disease.
 

Asbestos in Schools

Jul 3, 2020

The announcement by the Prime Minister that £1 billion would be invested in renovating and rebuilding the UK’s educational infrastructure led to calls for action on the asbestos contamination of most UK schools. “It's shameful,” said MP David Morris “that teachers and pupils are still at risk from asbestos-riddled schools that should have been torn down long ago.” In an article on the website of Tes – a publication for education professionals – Morris pointed out: “Teachers in the UK are five times more likely than average to develop mesothelioma, the fatal lung disease most closely linked to the material. Meanwhile, exposure to asbestos in the earliest decades of a child’s life doubles their risk of the same outcome.” See: £1bn school building fund must expel asbestos forever.
 

Mesothelioma Incidence: Update

Jul 2, 2020

Annual figures released by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) on July 1, 2020 reported that in 2018 there had been 2,446 deaths from the signature asbestos cancer mesothelioma in Great Britain; 90+% of mesothelioma claimants lodged claims for Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefits. Also published on July 1, 2020 by the HSE was a 12-page report entitled Mesothelioma statistics for Great Britain, 2020 which noted that: “In Great Britain mesothelioma death rates for both males and females follow an upward trend over time with a levelling-off over recent years.” See: HSE releases annual workplace fatality figures for 2019/20.
 

Processing Asbestos Waste

Jul 2, 2020

In an interview published in a French language Canadian newspaper, Joël Fournier, founder of Alliance Magnesium, described progress achieved by the company in its objective of reclaiming magnesium, iron, silica and nickel from the asbestos waste created by decades of chrysotile (white) asbestos mining in Quebec. Fournier revealed the company had raised $145 million to build a factory in Danville, near Asbestos, in the Eastern Townships; amongst the six Alliance investors were: the Quebec and Canadian governments and a Japanese conglomerate. Health experts have warned of the health hazard posed by processing the hazardous mining debris. See: Premier gros chantier industriel depuis le début de la pandémie [Future plant to produce magnesium for automakers and aluminum smelters].
 

Asbestos Exposure at VW Factory

Jul 2, 2020

A commentary on the negligence of car manufacturer VW Navarra cited the March 2020 court ruling which condemned the company for exposing a former employee to asbestos at a factory in Northern Spain as a result of which he died from the asbestos cancer mesothelioma. Government documents cited in this text reported that the company had consistently failed to warn workers of the asbestos hazard and failed to take measures to protect employees from toxic exposures. The author concluded that: “all the workers who have passed through the factory at some time in history, at least until 2016, have been or may have been exposed to asbestos, with the possibility of developing a fatal disease.” See: Amianto en Volkswagen [Asbestos at Volkswagen].
 

Mesothelioma: Psychological Impact

Jul 2, 2020

A peer reviewed article uploaded on June 28, 2020 by British researchers reviewed evidence on the psychological effects of the asbestos cancer mesothelioma on patients and their carers and made recommendations regarding further research. The co-authors identified key findings including: the importance of carefully timed interventions, the need to address difficult feelings such as those arising from knowledge about the exposures which caused the disease and effective measures to improve information sharing and communication. There was, the paper concluded an “urgent need for more nuanced research.” See: What are the psychological effects of mesothelioma on patients and their carers? A scoping review.
 

Landmark Victory in Madrid

Jul 2, 2020

Madrid Metro – the company which runs the rapid transit system serving the Spanish capital – has for the first time paid out compensation to the family of a worker who died as a result of occupational exposure to asbestos. Julián Martín's family received €193,054 (~US$217,000) in an out of court settlement; Mr. Martin was the first of the company’s workers to have died from a recognized asbestos-related disease; six of his former colleagues have also died from asbestos diseases and 11 other workers have reported similar illnesses. See: Metro de Madrid indemniza por primera vez a los familiares de un fallecido por Amianto [Metro de Madrid compensates for the first time the relatives of a deceased by asbestos].
 

Asbestos Program for Military

Jun 29, 2020

On June 29, 2020, Korea’s defense ministry said it would eliminate asbestos from all military facilities to safeguard the health and safety of service personnel. A national asbestos audit in 2019 found that ~11,600 military structures were contaminated with asbestos, of which 5,450 buildings – such as barracks and restaurants inside bases – were in use every day. The target for removing asbestos from these structures is 2022, with the remediation of the others to be accomplished by 2025. Funding allocated for removal work in 2020 was US$58+ million with at least the same set aside per year for 2021-2025. See: Defense ministry to remove asbestos from all military structures by 2025.
 

Sad Anniversary

Jun 29, 2020

June 29, 2020 is the 15th anniversary of the “Kubota Shock (KS)”; the KS initiated a public awakening in Japan of the existence of a nation-wide epidemic of asbestos-related diseases. Since the KS, 600 people have died in Amagasaki City, Hyogo Prefecture – the location of a former Kubota company factory – from both occupational and environmental exposures to asbestos fibers liberated by the manufacturing at the Kanzaki site. According to asbestos victims’ campaigner Hiroshi Iida: “The damage is not over…It is a catastrophe that should not be forgotten.” See:「病魔今ごろ暴れだした」クボタ石綿被害、15年で600人に [“Disease now rampages” Kubota Asbestos damage, 600 people in 15 years].
 

Asbestos Remediation Program

Jun 29, 2020

Officials in Sardinia are calling on Gianni Lampis, the Regional Environmental Minister for Sardinia, to press the Italian government for the release of funds allocated for the removal and disposal of asbestos from public buildings such as schools and hospitals. The total amount earmarked for this work was €385 million, of which €35m was for asbestos remediation in Sardinia. As all the work funded under this program must be completed by December 31, 2025, Lampis has been asked to press the government to release these funds. See: Rimozione dell’amianto da scuole e ospedali: fondi ancora bloccati [Asbestos removal from schools and hospitals: funds still blocked].
 

Asbestos Legacy

Jun 29, 2020

The inhabitants of Kato Polemidia, Cyprus have been in limbo after demolition of an urban site. The price for the tender agreed with the town had been based on the reuse of rubble in municipal building works. When the debris was found to contain asbestos, this became impossible and the work to remove the waste was suspended. In the 18 months since then, discussions amongst city agencies and operatives regarding this problem proved fruitless. according to local politician Adamos Adamou, a solution to this problem is imminent. See: Επείγουσα επιστολή Επιτροπής Περιβάλλοντος για επίσπευση των διαδικασιών που αφορούν την κατεδάφιση του Βερεγγάρια [Letter from Environment Committee to expedite procedures for demolition of Berengaria].
 

Benefits Vacuum: Lung Cancer Cases

Jun 26, 2020

As of the end of 2018, more than US$735 million of Japanese government benefits allocated for the payment of compensation to asbestos victims remained unused due to a massive under-recording and under-recognition of cases of lung cancer caused by asbestos exposure. According to Professor Masahide Sakamoto, an expert on asbestos issues at Senshu University: “Surplus funds have amassed to nearly 80 billion yen because lung cancer patients could not be certified properly and there are holes in the system. The qualification criteria for lung cancer patients should be reviewed and consideration should be made for the benefits to be upgraded to a level that enables minimal living standards.” See: Japan gov't relief funds for asbestos going unused due to few lung cancer certifications.
 

Asbestos Action Plan

Jun 26, 2020

A manifesto calling for urgent action on asbestos was sent to government officials this week by a coalition of civil society groups in Spain. The campaigners urged that a Comprehensive Asbestos Law be adopted to make Spain “an international benchmark in the fight against the asbestos crisis in the world.” An online petition, which described the objectives of the law as protecting public, occupational and environmental health, had, to date, received 8,000 signatures; another petition calling for increased research into asbestos-related cancer had received 10,000 signatures. See: Una treintena de organizaciones y expertos insta al Gobierno a desarrollar una Ley Integral del Amianto [Thirty organizations and experts urge the Government to develop a Comprehensive Asbestos Law].
 

Failed by the State

Jun 26, 2020

An online commentary on a Japanese news portal considered the hypocrisy illustrated by Johnson & Johnson’s (J&J’s) decision to end sales of talc-based baby powder in North America whilst continuing to sell its toxic product in Japan. Questions asked to officials at Japan’s Consumer Affairs Agency and Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare by the author of the commentary about the hazards posed by exposing Japanese babies and their mothers to J&J’s baby powder were fobbed off with civil service doublespeak. No response was received from J&J Japan. See: 北米では販売中止に アスベスト入りベビーパウダーを日本はなぜ野放しに [Discontinued in North America Why baby powder with asbestos left unchecked in Japan].
 

Ban Asbestos Action

Jun 26, 2020

The Building and Wood Workers’ International (BWI) – a Global Trade Union Federation – has been at the forefront of the international campaign to protect workers from the asbestos hazard since the 1980s. Efforts to mobilize support for action to ban asbestos in the Middle East and Africa by BWI affiliates were considered during a June 15th webinar; 35 trade unionists compared notes about national asbestos panoramas and concluded that even where regulations and prohibitions existed, they were routinely flouted. According to BWI Regional Representative Crecentia Mofokeng, the participants of the meeting agreed that there was “a strong need to lobby different stakeholders to do more on this issue.” See: Workers intensify Asbestos ban campaign in Africa and Middle East.
 

Victims’ Verdict by Missouri Court

Jun 25, 2020

In a high-profile ruling on June 23, 2020 by an appellate court in Missouri, a verdict worth more than $2 billion in damages against Johnson & Johnson was upheld with scathing comments made about the company’s negligent behaviour: “A reasonable inference from all this evidence is that, motivated by profits, defendants disregarded the safety of consumers,” the court said. The plaintiffs alleged they had contracted ovarian cancer having been exposed to asbestos in the company’s talcum products, including its iconic baby powder. The court agreed that the plaintiffs had shown “clear and convincing evidence” of the defendants’ “outrageous” conduct. See: Women With Cancer Awarded Billions in Baby Powder Suit.
 

Alert over Abandoned Mine

Jun 25, 2020

The health hazard posed to people living downstream of the abandoned asbestos mine of Clinton Creek in the Yukon, remains decades after all mining operations were ceased according to the Canadian government. The former open-pit mine, which produced 940,000 tonnes of asbestos, was operational from 1967 to 1978 when it was decommissioned by its owner: Cassiar Asbestos Corporation. The federal government has said reclamation of the site will begin in 2026 but no plans have been published regarding the remediation. Neither Cassiar nor the company which bought Cassiar in 1991 have been held accountable for the environmental pollution created. See: Unremediated Yukon asbestos mine poses health hazards, flood risk 42 years after closing.
 

Asbestos in Schools

Jun 25, 2020

In a speech addressing Portugal’s post-Covid-19 challenges, Prime Minister António Costa enumerated projects that will be undertaken as part of the country’s Economic and Social Stabilization Program, amongst which was the issue of asbestos contamination of schools. The Prime Minister promised that: “We are going to simultaneously remove the [asbestos] fiber cement problem and attack the paralysis of the economy… this program mobilizes 60 million euros from community funds, which will be distributed to 578 schools,” he said. See: Covid-19: Programa de remoção do amianto das escolas envolve 60 milhões de euros [Covid-19: Asbestos removal program from schools involves 60 million euros].
 

Asbestos Tourist Attraction

Jun 23, 2020

At a June 23 press conference in Chelyabinsk – the 2nd largest city in Russia’s Ural Federal District – Presidential funding of 1.3 million rubles was announced for an industrial heritage project to memorialize the mining of chrysotile asbestos at the Kholisty mine in the Southern Urals. The developer of the tourist attraction was the South Ural Public Fund for the Promotion of the Preservation of Cultural Heritage; at the press conference, their spokesman explained the facilities on offer at the new facility including: a navigation system, information stands, recreation areas and viewing platforms. See: Под Миассом появится «Призрак горы Французской» [Near Miass will appear the “Phantom of the French Mountain” (heritage site)].
 

Ban Asbestos NOW!

Jun 23, 2020

A statement released by Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley on June 22, 2020, the 4th anniversary of the passing of the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act, deplored the US Government’s failure to progress public safety under the Act, citing the stalemate on asbestos saying: “Today, not only has EPA failed to ban asbestos, they have failed even to complete the review required by law. This unconscionable delay will cost thousands more American lives. Roughly 40,000 Americans each year die from asbestos-related causes, and this number will not decline until we take decisive action to protect Americans from asbestos.” See: Merkley criticizes years of EPA delays, urges Congress to ban asbestos.
 

Alert: Toxic Talc

Jun 23, 2020

France’s Association for the Defense of Asbestos Victims (Andeva) has raised the alert over the public health hazard posed by ongoing sales of consumer products contaminated with asbestos fibers citing Johnson & Johnson talc-based baby powder and other cosmetic products including those marketed by the US companies Revlon and Avon and the French companies Chanel and Sanofi. After receiving the alert from Andeva, France’s Minister of Health Olivier Véran alerted the European Rapex system about the situation. See: De l’amiante encore détecté dans des produits cosmétiques, dont le talc pour bébé [Asbestos still detected in cosmetic products, including baby talc].
 

Another Asbestos Discovery

Jun 23, 2020

In a company circular dated June 19, 2020, Metro de Madrid – the rapid transit system in the Spanish capital – announced that asbestos had been found in a G32 valve gasket integrated in suspension panels in train cars 2000B, 6000, 7000, 8000 first and 9000 series. The company assured workers that it was committed to the removal of “all traces” of asbestos from the network and was analyzing “each and every part of the trains, as well as the Metro facilities to detect this material, and, where appropriate, remove it.” See: Metro de Madrid localiza una nueva pieza con amianto en trenes de diversos modelos [Metro de Madrid locates a new piece with asbestos in trains of various models].
 

Asbestos Remediation Program

Jun 23, 2020

On June 11, 2020 the council of the Italian town of Siena, in collaboration with a privately-owned company: SEI Toscana, launched a “stop asbestos” service to progress the eradication of asbestos in the municipality; asbestos remediation has been designated a high priority objective by the regional authorities in Tuscany. Individuals can access the service for the collection of asbestos-cement material from their homes in Siena for an initial payment of €57; additional charges may be imposed. This initiative was designed to prevent the illegal dumping of asbestos waste in rural areas. See: “Stop Amianto,” il Comune di Siena aderisce al servizio opzionale [“Stop asbestos,” the Municipality of Siena implements an optional service].
 

More Asbestos Lies?

Jun 19, 2020

Highly unlikely assertions are made in an article on a Russian website which alleged that young divers in the US Navy are required to wear asbestos fire suits and run through the compartments of nuclear submarines as part of qualifying procedures. The author of this text stated that: “Fireproof suits made of fireproof “mountain flax” [chrysotile asbestos] are included in the compulsory equipment of the US Navy submarine team.” Enquiries are being pursued with US authorities to ascertain whether this statement is true. See: Асбестовая рубашка для молодого подводника: традиции ВМФ США [Asbestos shirt for a young diver: traditions of the US Navy].
 

Asbestos Fact and Fiction

Jun 19, 2020

A paper uploaded to the website of the Journal of Occupational Medicine and Toxicology on June 15, 2020 reviewed key issues in the ongoing debate over banning asbestos, pinpointing fallacious arguments still being used by vested interests to forestall action by national or international authorities regarding the asbestos hazard. Whilst author Dr. Arthur Frank agreed that legitimate scientific questions remain such as “potential differential toxicity and carcinogenicity of different fiber types,” there were, he asserted, far more illegitimate issues being perpetuated by the industry lobby including: the myth of the “safe” use of asbestos and the chrysotile hypothesis. See: Global use of asbestos – legitimate and illegitimate issues.
 

MoD Guilty!

Jun 19, 2020

On June 11, the Civil Court in Rome ordered the Ministry of Defense (MoD) to pay €627,000 (US$705,414) to the family of a military worker who died from mesothelioma as a result of occupational asbestos exposure. The deceased had served for 17 years on naval ships as a motor engineer and was routinely exposed to asbestos-containing insulation in engine rooms and elsewhere. The verdict condemned the MoD with the Judge ruling that despite the “incontrovertible evidence about the harmfulness of asbestos” the MoD had not acted to protect employees from potentially fatal exposures. See: Morti d’amianto e navi militari: condannato il Ministero della Difesa [Asbestos deaths and military ships: Ministry of Defense sentenced].
 

Call for Action on Toxic Powder

Jun 18, 2020

A press release issued by the Asbestos Victims Support Groups Forum UK (the Forum) on June 17, 2020 highlighted the ongoing hazard posed to UK citizens by the continuing sale of Johnson & Johnson (J&J) talc-based baby powder, a product which has been withdrawn from US and Canadian markets. Condemning the double standards implicit in J&J’s actions, Forum Chair Joanne Gordon asked: “Would busy UK families be aware of the controversy over the continuing sale of J&J’s toxic talc-based baby powder or be in the position to make an informed choice about the risks posed by using a product that might contain asbestos fibres?” See: Health Alert: Asbestos in Baby Powder.
 

Claiming Asbestos Compensation

Jun 18, 2020

Research was conducted in Italy to establish the process by which mesothelioma sufferers filed claims for compensation and the key factors which determined whether claims were made. Data sourced from national registries and the Italian national insurance institute relating to 5,000+ people diagnosed with mesothelioma between 2010 and 2015 established that 66.2% of those eligible made claims. The co-authors of this paper concluded that there was “a need to enforce policies for improving awareness of the occupational origin for mesothelioma cases.” See: Predictors of filing claims and receiving compensation in malignant mesothelioma patients.
 

Victory in Mesothelioma Case

Jun 17, 2020

A settlement was reached in Hemms v the Trustees of the Countess of Huntingdon's Connexion and Bath and North East Somerset Council despite an earlier verdict in Bannister v Freemans PLC in which the judge had advocated a statistical approach to whether asbestos exposure had increased the claimant’s risk of mesothelioma. Solicitor Patrick Walsh, who represented the deceased mesothelioma victim Gordon Hemms, said: “This case illustrates the fact that a substantial settlement in a low dose asbestos exposure case can be achieved if the claim is pursued vigorously and the right expert witnesses are instructed by the claimant.” See: Claimant asbestos lawyers advised to resist approach that succeeded in Bannister v Freemans PLC.
 

Concerns for Victims’ Fund

Jun 17, 2020

On June 16, 2020, officials of the Swiss Asbestos Victims Compensation Fund (EFA) expressed concerns about the financial viability of this government scheme for sufferers of mesothelioma which could run out of money by the end of 2021. In 2019 EFA received more claims (88) and paid out more compensation (4.77 million francs) than ever before. Since it was set up in 2017, EFA has received 24m francs in contributions out of a total budget of 100m francs; it is feared that the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic could adversely effect the amount of donations received. See: Amiante: le Fonds d’indemnisation des victimes craint pour son financement [Asbestos: the Victims' Compensation Fund fears for its funding].
 

Victim’s Verdict in NJ

Jun 17, 2020

On June 3, 2020 in a 5:2 decision, the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled that equipment manufacturers could be held strictly liable for failing to issues warnings regarding the hazard posed by asbestos-containing component parts, including replacement parts, made or supplied by third parties which had been used in their products. For 40 years, the plaintiff Arthur Whelan – who contracted mesothelioma – had worked as a plumber and auto mechanic. Subsequent to this verdict, the case Whelan v. Armstrong Intl was remanded to the trial court. See: Whether Asbestos-Containing Components Were Manufactured by Third Parties No Longer Matters in New Jersey.
 

Asbestos Eradication

Jun 17, 2020

The council of the Spanish island of La Gomera announced progress on the audit of its territory to identify the presence of asbestos-containing material; the efforts made, to date, constituted the initial phase of an asbestos eradication program which pioneered the use of a fieldwork application to collect data, generate maps and integrate facts into an information system. Investigations carried out in the areas of Alajerò, Hermigua, San Sebastián de La Gomera and Vallehermoso identified 100+ sites where asbestos-containing material was identified in roofs, pipes and water systems. See: La Gomera ha realizzato uno studio sulla presenza di amianto nel territorio insulare [La Gomera has carried out a study on the presence of asbestos in the island territory].
 

Asbestos Outreach Program

Jun 17, 2020

Earlier this month, Brazilian Pulmonologist Dr. Hermano Castro, director of the Escola Nacional de Saúde Pública (ENSP/ the National School of Public Health), announced that home visits to members of the Brazilian Association of the Asbestos-Exposed (ABREA) living in Rio de Janeiro would be carried out in light of their heightened vulnerability to the coronavirus. During these appointments, health check-ups would be undertaken and flu vaccinations offered by members of the Asbestos Covid-19 Action team. See: Photo of the Action team.
 

Asbestos Outrage in Philadelphia

Jun 12, 2020

Teachers, school staff and students demonstrated on June 10, 2020 in front of the headquarters of the school district over the widespread asbestos contamination found in schools in Philadelphia and denounced the unsafe conditions created by slipshod asbestos removal work, with one elementary school nurse categorizing the situation as a “public health crisis.” The protesters alleged that the health hazard created by the presence of asbestos in their schools was an example of systemic racism. See: Educators protest racism, health hazards in Philly schools.
 

Victim’s Verdict in Rome

Jun 12, 2020

Cotral SpA, the company which runs public transport services in the Lazio region of Italy, was ordered by a court in Rome to pay compensation of €294,000 to the surviving family of a worker who died in 2011 from asbestos cancer. The deceased, who had routinely experienced occupational exposure to asbestos, had worked as a laborer for Cotral SpA from 1981 to 1992 maintaining the escalators of Rome’s subway system and working in the bus depot or mechanical workshop. See: Amianto, Cotral condannata per la morte per tumore di un manovale [Asbestos, Cotral reponsible for the death of a laborer from cancer].
 

EPA Meeting on Asbestos

Jun 12, 2020

This week (June 8-11), the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) held a virtual public meeting of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Science Advisory Committee on Chemicals [Docket Number EPA–HQ–OPPT–2019–0501] to consider the 310-page Draft Risk Evaluation for of Asbestos. Medical professionals, scientists, occupational health experts, public health campaigners and asbestos victims have been highly critical of the exemptions proposed in this report which would allow the continued use of asbestos. The original date for this meeting had been postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. See: Peer Review of the Draft Risk Evaluation of Asbestos.
 

Firefighters and Asbestos

Jun 12, 2020

In a landmark judgment by the Court of Trieste, the causation of the 2008 death of a firefighter was recognized as occupational and the Ministry of the Interior was condemned for negligence in failing to prevent toxic exposures to asbestos of personnel from the Fire Department. The Ministry initially denied that the firefighter had died from occupational asbestos exposure. Over a career of 34 years, the fireman had used asbestos gloves and overalls. The deceased’s family will receive a life-time monthly allowance of ~€1,500 and a lump sum of €228,000. See: Vigile del Fuoco morto per amianto, Tribunale di Trieste condanna il Ministero dell’Interno [Firefighter who died of asbestos, Court of Trieste condemns the Ministry of the Interior].
 

Asbestos Manufacturing & Public Health

Jun 10, 2020

A paper uploaded on June 9, 2020 to the American Journal of Industrial Medicine considered the health consequences for people who lived near Spain’s first asbestos-cement factory which was operational in the Barcelona area between 1907 and 1997 by studying data from patients diagnosed with malignant asbestos-related disease between 2007 and 2016. The authors concluded that: “More than 20 years after the closure of the fiber cement plant, the grave consequences of exposure to asbestos remain. The detection of cases of pleural mesothelioma in men seems to have plateaued whereas in women an ascending trend continues…” See: Malignant asbestos-related disease in a population exposed to asbestos.
 

Toxic Talc

Jun 10, 2020

In the wake of the scandal over the sale of asbestos-contaminated cosmetics, three of the biggest global cosmetic brands – Chanel, Revlon and L’Oreal – are taking steps to protect their reputations and bottom lines by eliminating talc-based products from their ranges according to a report just issued by Reuters. In light of the Johnson & Johnson baby powder fiasco and the ~20,000 lawsuits the company is facing, Chanel has been eliminating talc from face and body powders and Revlon has been transitioning to talc-free body products. See: Exclusive: Chanel, Revlon, L'Oreal pivoting away from talc in some products.
 

Double Standards: Toxic Talc

Jun 10, 2020

A press release issued on June 4, 2020 by Andeva – a national group representing French Asbestos Victims – denounced the double standards of the US multinational Johnson & Johnson in withdrawing from sale talc-based baby powder – alleged to contain asbestos fibers – only from US and Canadian markets. Deploring the double standards of the company, Andeva said: “This announcement is shameful. As if the life of an Asian, a Latin American or a European is worth less than that of a North American.” Andeva urged the French Government to act swiftly to protect its citizens from toxic exposures. See Andeva Press Release: L’Andeva alerte le minister de la Santé [Andeva alerts the Minister of Health].
 

The Human Cost of Asbestos Use

Jun 10, 2020

Switzerland’s accident insurance fund (Suva) has predicted that the annual incidence of asbestos-related mortality will continue to grow. There are currently 120 deaths from the signature asbestos cancer mesothelioma every year; this figure could reach 170 in the future. To date, Suva has recognized over 5,100 cases of occupationally-induced asbestos-related diseases and despite a national ban on asbestos, the number of claims is increasing. Although a fund set up to compensate asbestos victims in 2017 has raised 12m francs (~US$12.6m), by 2025 100 million francs could be needed to pay the claims which are expected to be made. It is, said a Suva representative “only a matter of time before the money runs out.” See: Amianto, le vittime di cancro aumenteranno [Asbestos, cancer victims will increase].
 

Asbestos in Schools

Jun 8, 2020

On a June 6, 2020 site visit to Kamenu Primary school in Thika – an industrial town northeast of Nairobi – Kenyan MP Patrick Wainaina announced that municipal authorities would soon begin a program to remove and properly dispose of asbestos in local public schools in order to protect the health of students, teachers and non-teaching staff. Wainaina said his office would engage with the National Environment Management Authority and other relevant agencies to ensure work was done according to the tightest regulations. The MP said: “We initiated a water harvesting programme in schools to address water shortage and ensure schools have sufficient clean water for hygiene purposes. But the programme is facing hurdles in some schools where there are asbestos roofs.” See: Thika to remove asbestos roofs from schools.
 

Asbestos Remediation Fund

Jun 8, 2020

A program has been set up by the Development and Cohesion Fund of Italy’s Ministry of the Environment with an allocation of €10 million to remediate asbestos in dozens of school buildings and hospitals throughout the Region of Tuscany. To date, detailed plans have been drawn up to undertake work on 18 hospitals at a cost of €7,440,000 and 54 schools at a cost of €2,630,000. Work has already begun on some of the contaminated structures under the supervision of the regional authorities. See: Amianto, 10 milioni per interventi di bonifica in scuole e ospedali [Asbestos, 10 million for remediation in schools and hospitals].
 

Asbestos Legacy

Jun 8, 2020

The Madrid City Council has found that 14% of the fiber cement linings in the Azca tunnel contained asbestos. They will be replaced as a matter of priority with steel panels; the work will be undertaken by specialist contractors following EU guidelines. The tunnel was, said the municipal corporation, built in the late 1960s and the asbestos panels were “near the end of their useful life.” Similar structures throughout Madrid will be inspected to ensure that there is no asbestos in other city tunnels built before 2003. See: Madrid halla amianto en el interior de los túneles de Azca y sustituirá los paneles contaminados [Madrid finds asbestos inside the Azca tunnels and will replace the contaminated panels].
 

Propaganda Offensive in Ukraine

Jun 5, 2020

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

Support for US Asbestos Ban

Jun 5, 2020

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

Guernsey Compensation Scheme

Jun 5, 2020

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

Deadly Asbestos Legacy

Jun 3, 2020

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

Asbestos in Classic Cars

Jun 3, 2020

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

Price Gouging in Bengal

Jun 3, 2020

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

Update: Global Asbestosis Data

Jun 1, 2020

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

National Asbestos Action

Jun 1, 2020

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

Another type of asbestos-free brakes!

Jun 1, 2020

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

Asbestos: New Restrictions

Jun 1, 2020

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

Asbestos Remediation in Mato Grosso

Jun 1, 2020

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

Legal Victory for Asbestos Victim

May 30, 2020

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

UK Mesothelioma Audit

May 30, 2020

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

Asbestos at the Power Station

May 30, 2020

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

Victims’ Precedent in Malta

May 30, 2020

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

Asbestos Fly-Tipping in Korea

May 30, 2020

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

Yet More Asbestos Misinformation!

May 25, 2020

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

Victory in Asbestos Case

May 26, 2020

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

Toxic Talc

May 26, 2020

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

Asbestos Exposure at the Bakery

May 26, 2020

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

Asbestos SOS

May 26, 2020

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

Toxic Talc Withdrawn

May 21, 2020

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

Asbestos Industry Offensive

May 21, 2020

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

Asbestos in Schools

May 21, 2020

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

Legal Victory in Spain!

May 21, 2020

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

Asbestos and Lung Cancer

May 21, 2020

A feature article in the May 10 Sunday issue of a popular Vietnamese online newspaper highlighted the lung cancer risk posed by asbestos exposures stating that: “People working in the construction and repair industry of cars are at the highest risk of asbestos exposure because this material has been used in buildings and automobile manufacturing industry.” In recent years, intense pressure has been brought to bear by asbestos lobbyists on the government to forestall efforts to implement restrictions and prohibitions on asbestos use in Vietnam (Vietnam’s Asbestos Frontline 2019). See: 7 nguy cơ gây ung thư phổi [7 risks for lung cancer].
 

Asbestos Alert!

May 18, 2020

Tests undertaken in the US have identified asbestos in talc-containing eye shadow palettes being sold on Amazon, eBay and an online website. Almost 90% of the shades tested in the Jmkcoz Eyeshadow Palette kit, Beauty Glazed Gorgeous and Me Eye Shadow Tray Palette were found to contain “up to nearly 3.9 million asbestos fiber structures per gram.” In recent years, there have been multiple discoveries of asbestos contamination of cosmetic and make-up products. In May 2018, UK campaigners reported that scientists had found asbestos fibers in children’s make-up products being sold in a London retail outlet. See: Alert: Tests Find Asbestos in Talc-Based Eye Shadow Kits.
 

Asbestos Propaganda:2020

May 18, 2020

Poorly camouflaged propaganda extolled the use of chrysotile asbestos building products in Russia today. The author described the use of asbestos material in renovation work and new builds of schools, arenas and public housing and highlighted the work of Orenburg Minerals – Russia’s biggest producer of asbestos – before concluding: “Management companies, construction contractors and municipal authorities choose chrysotile, because it is suitable for any climate and weather conditions, easy to operate and will last for many years.” See: «Оренбургские минералы» и капитальный ремонт: Россия выбирает хризотилцементные материалы [Orenburg Minerals and Renovation: Russia Chooses Chrysotile Cement Materials].
 

Toxic Talc

May 18, 2020

Imerys – a company involved in US litigation over asbestos-contaminated talc – reached a settlement last week which will end personal injury lawsuits against the company’s three talc subsidiaries in North America: Imerys Talc America, Imerys Talc Vermont and Imerys Talc Canada; the assets of these subsidiaries will be sold to settle the cancer disputes in the US. The agreement, which was announced on May 15, 2020, provided for a restructuring plan as part of ongoing corporate restructuring efforts under Chapter 11. See: North American Talc Subsidiaries of Imerys File Plan of Reorganization and Disclosure Statement.
 

Asbestos in Schools

May 18, 2020

The Italian Region of Emilia-Romagna has prioritized asbestos decontamination of schools, having already spent €30 million on remediation work. A new allocation of ~€9m has been made to pay 100% of the costs for the removal and disposal of asbestos from any schools in the region which are still affected. Public bodies owning school buildings which contain asbestos-cement products are asked to apply for funding between May 19 and June 22, 2020 by sending an email to the regional authorities; further information can be obtained from the Emilia-Romagna Region webpage: Asbestos removal and disposal in schools. See also notification: Amianto, la Regione investe altri 9 milioni di euro per mettere in sicurezza le scuole [Asbestos, the Region invests another 9 million euros to secure schools].
 

Toledo’s Asbestos Conundrum

May 18, 2020

A long-standing saga and already confused situation over the asbestos contamination of wasteland in the Spanish city of Toledo remained as muddled as ever following the publication of a report by the Ombudsman. With so many overlapping jurisdictions involved – from local to municipal, regional and national – the decontamination of the land and Ramabujas stream which flows through it in the city’s Polygon neighborhood seems as far away as ever. See: La respuesta de la Junta al Defensor del Pueblo sobre el amianto en Toledo [The Board's response to the Ombudsman on asbestos in Toledo].
 

Another Asbestos Discovery

May 14, 2020

Metro de Madrid – the rapid transit system in the Spanish capital – has announced further findings of asbestos on some of its trains. Pneumatic valve seals in cars of the 2nd and 4th class 5000 train models as well as a valve in the 2000A series cars have been found to contain asbestos. The discoveries were made during work being carried out as part of the company’s asbestos audit program which was designed in consultation with trade unions representing the company’s workforce. Details regarding the location of the banned substance have been relayed to workers and all work on contaminated parts was suspended. See: Metro vuelve a localizar amianto en sus trenes [Metro finds more asbestos on its trains].
 

Asbestos Deliberations in June

May 14, 2020

On May 11, 2020, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced that the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Science Advisory Committee on Chemicals (SACC) will meet from June 8 to 11, 2020 to peer review a draft risk evaluation for asbestos; the deliberations will be virtual, with participation by phone and webcast only. A previously announced virtual meeting for SACC to review the draft asbestos risk evaluation had been postponed by the EPA. Interested parties must submit requests to present evidence and/or monitor the sessions. See: SACC Will Peer Review Draft Risk Evaluation for Asbestos in June.
 

Longer Waits for Asbestos Justice

May 14, 2020

A Scottish campaigner has warned that the coronavirus pandemic has impacted the struggle for justice by those suffering from asbestos-related diseases. While the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service (SCTS) was, Phyllis Craig said, prioritising appeals, family law and commercial cases in the civil courts, delays were being experienced by asbestos claimants, many of whom were suffering from deadly diseases. Craig told journalists that, as a result, victims “may not get justice in their lifetime the way things are with the courts.” She urged the SCTS to rethink its procedures and prioritise “asbestos cases over appeals and commercial actions.” See: Asbestos campaigner fears victims may die before justice.
 

Asbestos Remediation Program

May 14, 2020

Sums of up to €15,000 can be obtained for the removal and disposal of roofing and materials containing asbestos by building owners under a scheme being run by the Italian Municipality of Capri. Applications must be submitted by July 31 and the remediation work carried out by October 31. Only companies registered as specialists on the National Register of Environmental Managers will be approved to undertake the work. Applications for projects close to sensitive sites such as kindergartens, schools, playgrounds, social and welfare reception centers, hospitals and sports facilities will be prioritized. See: Contributi fino a 15mila euro per la rimozione dell’amianto [Contributions of up to 15 thousand euros for the removal of asbestos].
 

Asbestos in Schools

May 14, 2020

The Municipal Council of Cartagena – a port city in southeast Spain – is progressing plans to remediate asbestos in local schools. In July, 2020 work will begin to remove asbestos roofing from the José María Lapuerta public school – a flashpoint in recent years for protests by parents and staff – and four other buildings in Barrio Peral. In total, twelve educational institutions are scheduled for decontamination by 2022. They include schools in the following Cartagena neighborhoods: La Palma, Cartegna, Los Dolores, Barrio de la Concepción, El Algar and Vista Alegre. See: Vía libre a las primeras obras para quitar el amianto en 12 centros escolares de Cartagena hasta 2021 [Program to remove asbestos in 2021 in 12 Cartagena schools].
 

Quebec’s Post-Asbestos Era?

May 11, 2020

A feature-length French language podcast by Emma Jacobs and Lydia Chain explored the background to and issues involved in plans by vested interests to commercially exploit the toxic legacy of asbestos mining in Thetford Mines, Quebec. The huge mountains of waste which loom over the town consist of discarded rock left-over from decades of asbestos mining. Throughout Quebec, there are 800 million tons of this waste. While entrepreneurs hope to extract valuable minerals such as magnesium from this resource, health officials worry about the hazards to workers and local people posed by toxic fibers liberated during processing of the mining residues. See: A Debate on the Dregs of Asbestos Mining.
 

Asbestos Clinic Reopens

May 11, 2020

After weeks of being closed “to protect the area's uniquely vulnerable population (many of whom have asbestos-related respiratory conditions and lung disease),” the Center for Asbestos Related Disease (CARD) in Libby, Montana announced plans to reopen on May 11. All possible healthcare measures will be taken within the clinic to protect staff and patients from exposure to Covid-19. During the closure, CARD staff operated a drive-through Covid-19 testing station in the CARD parking lot, which allowed early identification of disease and provided a mechanism to limit exposure at other health facilities. See: Center for Asbestos Related Disease Set to Reopen on May 11, 2020.
 

Asbestos in French Schools

May 11, 2020

The authorities in Brittany are working to clarify the threat posed by asbestos in schools after an unwelcome discovery was made at one site. Asbestos sampling was done at the following schools on May 7: Berthelot, Grand-Clos, La Ville-Hellio, Yves-Dollo and Jacques-Brel; the results will be announced on May 12. Testing will take place on May 11 at the following schools: Balzac, La Brêche aux Cornes and La Croix-Rouge; the results will be announced on May 14. Depending on the news, the timetable for reopening the schools could be altered to allow decontamination work to take place. See: Saint-Brieuc. Des risques d’exposition à l’amiante dans huit écoles, la reprise incertaine [Saint Brieuc. Risks of asbestos exposure in eight schools, reopening uncertain].
 

Sardinia’s Toxic Asbestos Legacy

May 11, 2020

Members of an association representing asbestos victims in Sardinia have urged regional leaders, politicians and councillors in the Oristano region of Sardinia to use the coronavirus emergency as an “opportunity to plan and urgently implement an extraordinary environmental remediation plan, which includes the remediation of buildings with the presence of asbestos and remediation of illegal landfills located…” to address the toxic legacy which persists in the aftermath of decades of asbestos manufacturing and use on Sardinia. The goal would be to remediate all asbestos on the island by 2030. See: C’è un’altra emergenza, l’amianto: Regione, è ora di farla sparire [There is another emergency, asbestos: Region, it's time to make it disappear].
 

Killer Company & Killer Virus

May 7, 2020

Reacting to adverse business conditions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, building materials manufacturer James Hardie (JH) – formerly Australia’s Asbestos Giant – has announced its intention to scrap dividends, shut down selected operations in the US, Germany, Australia and New Zealand, make hundreds of workers redundant, cut back on capital spending and make its regular payment to the Australian Asbestos Injuries Compensation Fund quarterly instead of annually in July. The company’s disbursement to the Fund is to cover asbestos-related claims made by individuals injured by exposure to JH asbestos-containing products. See: James Hardie scraps dividends amid slump.
 

Fighting for Victims’ Rights in Galicia

May 7, 2020

Measures backed by the Galician Association of Asbestos Victims to improve conditions in the Ferrolan region for the injured were delayed by Covid-19. Representatives of the group, which has 500+ members, continued to provide support by phone and email even though much campaigning had ceased. Although, the Congress of Deputies had given permission to establish an asbestos compensation fund – which is of huge importance to ~8,000 people at high risk of contracting asbestos-related diseases in the region – work on this initiative had stalled, President Xoán Xosé Pita said in a recent interview. See: O fondo de compensación do amianto é fundamental, porque sen el moitas familias quedarían desprotexidas [The asbestos compensation fund is crucial, because without it many families would be unprotected].
 

Asbestos Remediation Program

May 7, 2020

Up to 80% of the asbestos contamination incorporated within the infrastructure on Sicily is located in residential properties. According to preliminary work undertaken by the island’s authorities, 1,500 sites have already been identified including homes, schools and workplaces. The sum of €385 million was allocated in 2016 for a remediation program which would be carried out by 2025; in the first instance, asbestos removal work was undertaken in public buildings, schools and hospitals. All work is strictly supervised and conducted to the highest of standards to protect occupational and public health. See: Amianto, quell’emergenza sanitaria da cui la Sicilia non è mai uscita [Asbestos, Sicily’s ongoing health emergency].
 

Call for Asbestos Ban in China!

May 6, 2020

In a new paper, scientists from medical and health institutions in Beijing and Guangdong, China are recommending that: “Enterprises should be encouraged to use safer substitutes and gradually ban asbestos materials in China” in order to eradicate an epidemic of asbestos-related diseases. As the text was included in the current issue of China CDC Weekly, an online platform for the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention – “a governmental and national-level technical organization” – it is probable that the authors’ findings will have been discussed at the highest levels of government. China is a major producer and consumer of asbestos. See: Distribution of Asbestos Enterprises and Asbestosis Cases — China, 1997-2019.
 

Asbestos Scandal in Marseilles

May 6, 2020

With schools due to reopen in Marseilles on May 11, parents of children at the Félix Pyat school in the 3rd arrondissement of Marseilles are up in arms over demolition work begun in April 2020 which released toxic clouds of dust and fibers throughout the neighborhood. The demolition of nine buildings, due to start in July 2019, began on April 27; the Soleam development company admitted the buildings contained asbestos. The Félix Pyat school is located fifteen meters from the worksite. See: Marseille: présence d'amiante près d'une école, l'autre scandale sanitaire pour les parents d'élèves [Marseilles: presence of asbestos near a school, the other health scandal for parents of students].
 

Remediation of Patras Pipes

May 6, 2020

Pipe renewal work in Patras, the capital city of Western Greece, will remediate asbestos-cement pipes as a matter of public health according to Lambros Dimitrogiannis, the Deputy Regional Minister for Energy and Environment, who has approved a workplan which will be rigorously scrutinized to ensure that vital health and safety procedures are followed in the handling and disposing of three tonnes of aging asbestos-cement water pipes under Souniou Street. This initiative is part of a program to remediate asbestos contamination throughout the region. See: Σχέδιο απομάκρυνσης παλαιού αγωγού ύδρευσης από αμίαντο στην Πάτρα [Plan to remove an old asbestos water pipeline in Patras].
 

Asbestos & Coronavirus Victims

May 6, 2020

On March 27, 2020 a new campaigning group was set up to fight for the rights of coronavirus victims in France; the association is demanding that the government set up a national compensation scheme for the injured based on one established for asbestos victims: the Asbestos Victim Compensation Fund (FIVA). The new body was founded by members of the Jussieu University Anti-Asbestos Committee which had, for decades, been at the forefront of the fight for asbestos justice. See: Coronavirus: une association demande un fonds d'indemnisation sur le modèle de l'amiante [Coronavirus: an association requests a compensation fund based on the asbestos model].
 

Inspiration for Climate Change Activism?

May 6, 2020

A recent blog describes meetings in Casale Monferrato – the town at the epicentre of Italy’s asbestos epidemic – addressing the issue of the global climate emergency. The town has suffered huge loss of life from asbestos cancer, but local people have fought back with great resolution to achieve declared objectives concerning “medical research, remediation and justice.” The resilience shown by these people and their willingness to interact with other groups and institutions to a common end could serve as inspiration for activists confronting the looming global climatic catastrophe. See: Amianto, nell’Aula di Casale Monferrato ci riuniamo per parlare di clima. E coltivare la resilienza che ha battuto Eternit [Asbestos, in a room in Casale Monferrato we meet to talk about the climate. And to cultivate the resilience that beat Eternit].
 

Aerial Mapping of Asbestos Roofing

May 4, 2020

During the first week of May, drone technology was used by the authorities of the Italian city of Cinisello Balsamo, 10 kilometres northeast of Milan city center, to create an aerial map for the monitoring and registration of asbestos cement surfaces. Flying at an altitude of 100 meters, the drone’s operators were able to capitalize on the clear skies resulting from the country’s lockdown to identify buildings most at-risk. According to one of the technicians: “The optical system of the drone, through spectrometric analysis, not only identifies the presence of asbestos-cement roofing, but also the level of degradation, divided into three categories.” See: Drone in volo a scovare l’amianto [Drone in flight to find asbestos].
 

Making the Political Personal

May 4, 2020

An article in The New Review discussed the political context in which the US marked Labor Day, May Day and Workers Memorial Day (IWMD). This year, IWMD had a special significance for the author as her 82-year old grandfather had just died from mesothelioma having been exposed to asbestos working at an iron powder factory. “Industrial workers like him were,” she wrote “four times more likely to contract the disease than members of the general population.” Speculating on whether his employers had known about the asbestos hazard, she wrote: “Yet even now, as the world grapples with an invisible plague, employers seem hell-bent on flouting safety regulations and cutting corners.” See: The Grim New Relevance of Workers Memorial Day.
 

Covid-19 Case Law: Asbestos Precedents?

May 4, 2020

In an interview with a French legal expert, liability for the Government’s failure to act in a timely and appropriate manner to protect citizens from Covid-19 could, it was suggested, be judged by precedents set by asbestos litigation. Legal actions have already been launched to hold the French State to account, naming Prime Minister Edouard Philippe, former Minister of Health Agnes Buzyn, and her successor Olivier Veran. As in asbestos lawsuits, the courts need to decide: was the risk known and serious; was there a way to deal with this risk; did the state fail to adopt preventive measures? The Council of State has set a high priority on the protection of health regardless of costs on multiple occasions. See: Coronavirus: les fautes qui pourraient être reprochées à l'État [Coronavirus: faults that could be blamed on the State].
 

Mesothelioma Survival: City vs Country

May 4, 2020

New research published online by eight Melbourne-based scientists document a variance of survival rates for a variety of cancers between sufferers in the Australian State of Victoria who live in country areas and cities. An analysis of data retrieved on 331,302 patients from Victoria with 30 different types of cancer between 2001 and 2015 found that although survival rates were “generally lower for rural compared with urban residents… findings have been inconsistent… No differences in survival were found for cancers of uterus, small intestine and mesothelioma.” See: Differences in cancer survival by remoteness of residence: an analysis of data from a population-based cancer registry.
 

Invisible Killers: Asbestos and Covid-19

May 4, 2020

A commentary on the concurrence of Spain’s asbestos and coronavirus epidemics references the 2017 mesothelioma death of Jesús Mosterín, a leading Spanish philosopher. The authors speculate that a conspiracy of silence resulted in preventing any mention of asbestos in the notices of Mosterin’s death. Epidemiological evidence suggests there are ~5,000 asbestos deaths in Spain every year. Hundreds of the deaths which will be blamed on Covid-19 will, in fact, be wholly or partially due to underlying asbestos-related conditions. The authors concluded: “Once again they [those killed by asbestos] will be ignored victims.” See: El coronavirus oculta la pandemia secreta del Amianto [Coronavirus conceals secret asbestos pandemic].
 

Asbestos Lobby Misinformation

Apr 30, 2020

A misleading article on a Russian website asserted that a recent ruling by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) concluded that the human health risk posed by exposure to asbestos was “exaggerated” and that “the controlled use of asbestos-containing materials did not pose a threat to the environment.” In fact, the EPA’s Draft Risk Evaluation for Asbestos published in March 2020 found that: “workers, occupational non-users, consumers, and bystanders could be adversely affected by asbestos under certain conditions of use.” See: Риск преувеличен. Агентство в США оценило использование асбеста [The risk is exaggerated. US Agency Appraises Use of Asbestos].
 

Toxic Talc: NJ Update

Apr 30, 2020

A ruling handed down by U.S. District Judge Freda Wolfson on April 27, 2020 gave the green light for thousands of personal injury lawsuits to proceed in New Jersey against the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) company. J&J had tried to bar testimony by plaintiffs’ experts regarding the link between the use of its asbestos-contaminated talcum powder products and the occurrence of ovarian cancer. Wolfson’s decision will allow the introduction of epidemiological and anecdotal evidence as provided by the claimants explaining the link between personal hygiene practices and the occurrence of their cancers. See: U.S. judge rules talc lawsuits against J&J can proceed, testimony limited.
 

Asbestos in Schools

April 30, 2020

Supporters of Portugal’s Schools Without Asbestos Movement and the ZERO Environmental Association are calling on the Ministry of Education to prioritize asbestos remediation even before the Covid crisis is over. In a new article, author Íria Roriz Madeira pointed out: “When the children return to school they will have the same asbestos roofs to receive them and a degradation of materials that has not been suspended, but has worsened.” Pointing out multiple inconsistencies in the asbestos remediation policy and practices of the government, the author pointed out the unique opportunity posed by the lockdown to decontaminate the national infrastructure. See: Amianto em tempo de Covid [Asbestos in the time of Covid].
 

World Asbestos Victims Day

Apr 29, 2020

In Italy, a country where around 6,000 people die every year from asbestos diseases, April 28 is a day of mourning for the asbestos dead, as it is worldwide. In former times, people would gather at events held throughout the country. On April 28, 2020, Roberto Morassut, Undersecretary for the Environment for Rome’s municipal authority, remembered the victims and reviewed progress which had been made in addressing Italy’s asbestos legacy. He admitted that despite all the work that had been done and the money expended there was still an unacceptable 40 million tons of toxic material in Italy. See: 28 aprile, un giorno per ricordare le vittime dell’amianto [April 28, a day to remember asbestos victims].
 

National Asbestos Removal Program

Apr 29, 2020

An article published on April 27, 2020 reviewed progress by the Government of Rwanda under its 20-year program: Vision 2020 to transform Rwanda from an agrarian to a knowledge-based economy. Under the section Government asset management and public building construction, the author reported: “the asbestos removal project has successfully led to the removal and burial of 1,050,933 m2 out of 1,692,089 m2 of asbestos [sheet] materials existing in the country. This is equivalent to 62% (i.e. Asbestos removed from GoR buildings: 57% and Asbestos removed from private buildings: 66%) of the total amount of asbestos countrywide.” See: Taking stock of Rwanda’s 20-year infrastructure development journey.
 

Going Asbestos-Free in Zimbabwe

Apr 29, 2020

In its annual accounts for 2019, Zimbabwe building materials manufacturer Turnall Holdings reported an increase in export turnover. The company confirmed that in 2019 it had expanded production to include asbestos-free materials suitable for export to countries where asbestos had been banned. Citing asbestos industry propaganda about a crusade to “blacklist” asbestos, the company, nevertheless, announced that it had expanded its product range to cater for foreign markets that had transitioned to safer materials “to cushion the company against prevailing foreign currency shortages.” Zimbabwe was, at one time, a large producer of chrysotile asbestos fiber. See: Turnall export turnover increases.
 

EPA Asbestos Remediation in NY

Apr 29, 2020

An alert uploaded on April 21, 2020 announced that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) had demolished an asbestos-contaminated building and removed approximately 200 tons of contaminated debris at an industrial park in the Town of Ulster, Ulster County, New York. This work – which was a collaborative effort between federal, state, and local governments – was undertaken under the auspices of an EPA Superfund program “to address the threat to public health from asbestos at this site and get this property on the path to productive reuse.” See: EPA Advances Superfund Cleanup Work at TechCity in Ulster County, New York.
 

Schirlei Azevedo, R.I.P.

Apr 29, 2020

The death has been announced of Schirlei Azevedo, one of the leaders of the campaign for asbestos justice in Santa Catarina State, Brazil and a strong advocate for a state-wide asbestos ban. Schirlei. who died of cancer on April 24, 2020 in the capital city of Florianópolis, was a long-standing member of the Workers’ Party, a founding member of the Santa Catarina (SC) Movement of Women Urban Workers and the SC representative of the Brazilian Association of the Asbestos-Exposed (ABREA). See: A guerreira e leitora do Viomundo Schirlei Azevedo encantou-se; leia notas dos companheiros do PT e Psol [Viomundo warrior and reader Schirlei Azevedo was special; read remembrances from PT and Psol comrades].
 

COVID-19 and Asbestos-Related Diseases

Apr 27, 2020

A commentary addressing the many questions being asked by UK victims of asbestos-related diseases during the ongoing coronavirus epidemic was uploaded by HASAG Asbestos Disease Support on April 25th. The posting covered key areas of interest, including keeping safe and in good spirits, obtaining food and medical supplies and accessing medical treatment and legal services; the inclusion of contact details for trustworthy associations and sources of information was both relevant and timely as was the assurance that: “Any paused treatment will not be down to hospital capacity issues. It will be based on a risk versus benefit analysis, with a pause in treatment being the best clinical option for you.” See: COVID-19 and Asbestos Related Diseases.
 

New Therapy Protocol for Mesothelioma?

Apr 27, 2020

A paper uploaded on April 20, 2020 by a team of 18 Japanese researchers explored the potential of using a recently developed cancer therapy – Near-Infrared photoimmunotherapy (NIR-PIT) – for the treatment of malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM). The results reported from in-vivo and in-vitro tests suggested that Podoplanin-targeted NIR-PIT could be a promising new treatment for MPM. See: Targeted Phototherapy for Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma: Near-Infrared Photoimmunotherapy Targeting Podoplanin.
 

Asbestos Waste: Crime & Punishment

Apr 27, 2020

As authorities in South Australia progress a criminal case against a demolition company from Port Adelaide for the alleged illegal dumping of asbestos-containing waste in 2017 at two sites in Sedan, ~100 kilometres north-east of Adelaide, work has begun to remove thousands of tonnes of toxic debris. Contractors are in the process of remediating the site; the clean-up operation is expected to take a month with the waste being removed to a licensed depot in the nearby town of Cambrai. The Environment Protection Authority is seeking to recover the costs of the remediation from the polluter. See: Asbestos-tainted waste illegally dumped near South Australian town to be removed.
 

Supreme Court Landmark

Apr 27, 2020

On April 21, 2020, for the first time, France’s Supreme Court (the Court of Cassation) upheld a ruling condemning a public establishment – in this case a hospital in Besançon, a city in eastern France – for exposing employees to asbestos. In the first instance (2016) and on appeal (2018), the hospital was found guilty in a criminal prosecution of “deliberately endangering the lives of others” for failing to prevent asbestos exposures to dozens of workers between 2009 and 2013. See: Amiante au CHRU de Besançon: l'hôpital Jean Minjoz définitivement condamné [Asbestos at the Besançon CHRU: the Jean Minjoz hospital finally condemned].
 

Brazil’s Asbestos War

Apr 22, 2020

An interview with Fernanda Giannasi, a leading figure in Brazil’s fight for asbestos justice, published on April 20, 2020 detailed the retired factory inspectors’s 35-year involvement with a grassroots campaign which revolutionized the national dialogue on asbestos. Despite physical threats, verbal assaults, lawsuits and, in the face of intimidation and clashes with corporate, political and bureaucratic forces, Ms. Giannasi worked with asbestos victims to expose the human cost of the asbestos industry’s profits in Osasco, Rio de Janeiro and throughout the country. See: Fernanda Giannasi: “Não há uso seguro para o amianto” [Fernanda Giannasi: “There is no safe use for asbestos].
 

Regional Asbestos Remediation Subsidies

Apr 22, 2020

The council of the Marche Region of eastern Italy and the President of the Environment Commission Andrea Biancani this week endorsed a law to provide financial support for citizens to remove and dispose of asbestos-containing material from private homes. This measure was, the President noted: “further evidence of the attention that the Region pays to the environment, the countryside and public health issues.” The maximum amount of the grants is €2,000 each; the total allocation made by the region for the 2020 phase of this program is €200,000. See: Biancani: “approvata la legge che favorisce gli interventi di rimozione e smaltimento dell'amianto” [Biancani: “approved the law that favors asbestos removal and disposal”].
 

Covid-19 and Chrysotile Asbestos

Apr 22, 2020

An interesting commentary by Brazilian experts compared the positive action on the Covid-19 pandemic taken by the Governor of Brazil’s asbestos mining state – Ronaldo Ramos Caiado – with his failure to act on the chrysotile asbestos hazard and explored the significance of a Supreme Court ruling which supported the right of States to protect citizens from coronavirus in the face of the President’s continued denial of any serious threat. The co-authors of this text highlighted the Court’s position that, under the constitution the right to life and health are paramount and supersede all commercial and economic arguments. See: Banimento do amianto no Brasil e o enfrentamento à pandemia [Banning asbestos in Brazil and tackling the pandemic].
 

Supreme Court Victim’s Verdict

Apr 16, 2020

On April 15, 2020, the fourth criminal section of Italy’s Supreme Court filed a verdict in case 12151/20; the Court convicted the defendant, a former employer, of manslaughter over occupational asbestos exposure, albeit at “very low doses” which led to the demise from pleural mesothelioma of a worker who had been employed in dismantling railway carriages. The first judgment in this case had been handed down by the Court of Vercelli and was subsequently confirmed by the Turin Court of Appeal. See: Sentenza: l’amianto è cancerogeno anche a dosi minime; condannato datore di lavoro [Judgment: asbestos is carcinogenic even at minimal doses; convicted employer].
 

Dr. Maurice Allouch, RIP

Apr 16, 2020

The death on April 10, 2020 has been reported of retired general practitioner Dr. Maurice Allouch, who had headed an action committee set up to seek justice for those suffering lethal and disabling diseases after exposures to asbestos liberated by the operations of an asbestos-processing factory in Aulnay-sous-Bois, France between 1938 and 1975. As well as hundreds of deaths of former workers, 173 local people died from environmental exposures, including many children who had attended a school next to the factory. See: Aulnay pleure «le docteur Allouch», figure de la lutte contre l’amiante [Aulnay mourns "Doctor Allouch", a leading figure in the fight against asbestos].
 

Progress in Pennsylvania

Apr 16, 2020

Members of the Rockhill Environmental Preservation Alliance welcomed news that Hanson Aggregates Pennsylvania – the owners of Rockhill Quarry in Bucks County’s East Rockhill Township, Pa. – terminated the current lease. The environmental activists had been campaigning about the spread of naturally occurring asbestos which occurred as a result of mining operations at the site. It is not known whether the Rockhill Quarry will be permanently abandoned but local people welcomed the shutdown. State officials discovered asbestos at the quarry in December 2018. See: No mining, for now, at East Rockhill quarry where asbestos naturally occurs.
 

Upholding Oman’s Asbestos Ban

Apr 15, 2020

In a decision issued by Yahya bin Said Al Jabri, Chairman of the Special Economic Zone Authority at Duqm, regarding standards and conditions for the construction of workers' accommodation in the Special Economic Zone at Duqm – a port on the Arabian Sea in central-eastern Oman – the use of asbestos was banned: “The new conditions strictly prohibited the use of asbestos, any other product in which asbestos is used or any other harmful substance [for the construction of workers' accommodation in Oman].” This stipulation is note-worthy as according to records, Oman banned the use of chrysotile asbestos in 2008, having previously banned the use of other types of asbestos. See: Standards for worker’s accommodation set at Duqm SEZ in Oman.
 

Victims’ Verdict in NY Appeal

Apr 15, 2020

On April 9, 2020, for the first time a verdict awarded by a New York jury in a case over toxic exposure to asbestos-contaminated talc was upheld by a panel of the First Department of New York’s Supreme Court, Appellate Division in a case brought on behalf of mesothelioma victim Florence Nemeth and her husband. Between 1960 and 1971, Mrs. Nemeth had been “exposed to billions or trillions of asbestos fibers” contained in Desert Flower Dusting Powder on a daily basis. She was diagnosed with peritoneal mesothelioma in November, 2012 and died in March, 2016. On August 22, 2017, the jury had awarded the Nemeths a total of $16.5 million, of which the defendant in that case was ordered to pay ~$3m; the panel increased this amount to $3.3m. See: Nemeth v Brenntag North America et al.
 

Sibaté’s Asbestos Legacy

Apr 15, 2020

A newly published paper details a study conducted in the Colombian town of Sibaté; the Colombian and Italian authors of this text identified a cluster of mesothelioma cases in Sibaté, the location of an asbestos-cement factory which had been operational since 1942. This study was, said the authors, the first to analyse the potential impact of asbestos at the population level and could inform discussions about the hazard posed by asbestos to other Colombian communities where asbestos plants had been sited. The dangerous use of industrial asbestos cement waste within urban areas was discussed. See: Commentary Epidemiological research as a driver of prevention: the Sibaté study.
 

Addressing the Asbestos Challenge

Apr 10, 2020

On April 7, 2020, the government of the Spanish island of Mallorca, the largest of the Balearic Islands, approved an initiative – a Hazardous Waste Sector Plan – to remediate asbestos contained throughout the island’s infrastructure by 2025. Work will begin on public buildings; simultaneously, asbestos audits will be carried out to quantify the problem posed by the contamination of private properties, in particular, the presence in these structures of asbestos-cement roofs – widely used in Mallorca. See: El Plan de Residuos del Govern quiere eliminar el amianto en edificios en 2025 [The Government's Waste Plan wants to eliminate asbestos in buildings by 2025].
 

New Asbestos Litigation

Apr 10, 2020

This commentary by Kris Maher on an article published on March 17, 2020 entitled Asbestos Warnings Grow With Penn State Lawsuit, National Push, analyzed the fall-out for defendants from a lawsuit brought against Penn State University. The case was important for two reasons: it was the first filed against a university on behalf of a former employee and it was made possible due to a Pennsylvania court verdict in 2013 allowing employees to sue employers for negligence. Professor Peter Labosky Jr. died from mesothelioma in August, 2014, five months after diagnosis; his family alleged that his death had resulted from occupational exposure to asbestos. See: A Never Ending Story: Asbestos Exposure and Mesothelioma.
 

Guernsey Mesothelioma Scheme

Apr 9, 2020

From January 1, 2021 a statutory scheme – modelled on one adopted in Jersey – will be operational on the island of Guernsey to pay compensation to sufferers of the asbestos cancer, mesothelioma. Legislation to implement this scheme was approved by Guernsey deputies in 2019. According to a spokesman for the island’s Employment & Social Services, the annual cost of the lump sum compensation payments, which could be awarded to patients or surviving family members, is expected to be around £100,000. Asbestos exposures resulted in the deaths of 19 people and contributed to the deaths of four others on Guernsey between 2005 and 2015. See: Mesothelioma compensation could cost £100,000 a year, says ESS.
 

Victim’s Verdict in Naples

Apr 9, 2020

The Labor Court of Naples awarded the family of a deceased worker from Fincantieri S.p.A. – an Italian shipbuilding company based in Trieste, Italy – the sum of €1.5m after a 2½ year investigation found that Lorenzo Irace had died as a result of occupational exposure to asbestos. The former electrician had worked in ships’ engine rooms and, due to the company’s negligence, had been exposed to asbestos, which led to his contracting the asbestos cancer, mesothelioma. It is not yet known whether Fincantieri will appeal the judgment. See: Fincantieri, risarcimento milionario agli eredi del dipendente morto: «Ucciso dall'amianto» [Fincantieri, over a million in compensation to the heirs of dead employee: “Killed by asbestos”].
 

Progress in Pennsylvania

Apr 9, 2020

On February 19, 2020, by a vote of 6-1, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court issued a verdict in the case of Roverano v John Crane, Inc. which found that manufacturers and suppliers of asbestos-containing products must share liability equally (rather than allowing juries to allocate percentage of fault to each defendant as some courts had done). The plaintiff had contracted lung cancer as a result of exposure to asbestos material whilst employed as a carpenter by the PECO Energy Company; damages of $6.4 million were awarded by the jury to the plaintiff and his wife. See: The Roverano Effect: Pennsylvania Supreme Court clarifies apportionment of damages in multi-defendant asbestos cases.
 

Asbestos Trade Deal?

Apr 6, 2020

Last week, the Member of Parliament for Wirral West and the Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Labor’s Margaret Green called on the government to reaffirm the UK ban on asbestos after the Brexit transition period ended on December 31, 2020. She expressed concerns over the possibility of lowered standards which might allow under a trade deal with the US – a country with no ban on asbestos – the import of products containing asbestos including clutches, brakes, building materials, heat-resistant fabrics, packaging, gaskets and coatings. See: Margaret Green fears return of asbestos in US Trade deal.
 

COVID-19 Threat to At-Risk Patients

Apr 6, 2020

A non-governmental organization in Portugal issued an alert over the elevated risk of coronavirus to patients with asbestos-related diseases. In a statement by the Group SOS Amianto [Asbestos], they said: “Patients with diseases caused by asbestos, whether neoplasms or chronic respiratory insufficiency, have an increased vulnerability to infection by the new coronavirus, so it is necessary to reinforce their protection.” The Group advised that should asbestos patients experience fever, a cough or shortness of breath, they should immediately contact the SNS Line 24 to 808 24 24 24. See: Covid-19: Quercus warns that asbestos victims are at risk.
 

Urgent Call to Ban Asbestos

Apr 6, 2020

Having reviewed multiple factors in the global asbestos panorama of 2019, the co-authors of a new paper concluded that “a world-wide asbestos ban is more urgent than ever.” Citing the under-reporting of cases of asbestos cancer and the ubiquity of asbestos industry propaganda, the co-authors highlighted the importance, especially in nations where asbestos use was continuing, of addressing the occupational, public and environmental hazards posed by the use of a known-carcinogen as a matter of utmost priority. See: Asbestos-related cancers: the ‘Hidden Killer’ remains a global threat.
 

EU Maritime Regs: Asbestos Audits

April 6, 2020

Under EU Ship Recycling Regulations, by December 31, 2020 the owners of ships over a certain size which call at any EU port must have compiled an Inventory of Hazardous Materials (IHM); non-EU flagged ships calling at EU ports must compile a “statement of compliance.” The surveys required to produce these documents could reveal, says one expert, the presence of asbestos-containing material onboard the ships even though shipbuilders had been under order since January 2011 to refrain from the use of asbestos on new builds. See: Law firm warns shipowners of unforeseen problems in IHM surveys.
 

Funding for Asbestos Healthcare

Apr 2, 2020

On March 30, 2020, news was received of a long-awaited judicial verdict which confirmed that money the Public Ministry had earmarked for the treatment of asbestos victims would be donated, as intended, to FIOCRUZ (Fundação/Foundation Oswaldo Cruz) – the most prominent institution of science and technology in health in Latin America – in Rio de Janeiro. The R$5million (~US$1m) came from a fine levied by the Public Ministry on the Brazilian Petroleum company Petrobas which had caused an environmental disaster via a massive leak of oil from one of its offshore platforms. The money had been blocked for over two years and was finally released as a result of protests by Labor Prosecutors and the Association of the Asbestos-Exposed.
 

Asbestos Alert!

Apr 2, 2020

On March 30, 2020, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published a draft risk evaluation that found that: “workers, occupational non-users, consumers, and bystanders could be adversely affected by asbestos under certain conditions of use.” The EPA identified unreasonable risks to those: working in the chlor-alkali industry, processing asbestos-containing gaskets in chemical production and handling and/or disposing of asbestos-containing brakes, friction material and automotive linings. The findings will be peer reviewed by independent scientific experts before action is taken to address these hazards. See: Draft Risk Evaluation for Asbestos.
 

Asbestos-Cement Pipes

Apr 2, 2020

There are 5,122 kilometres of asbestos-cement water mains throughout Ireland according to details released under the Freedom of Information Act. Twenty-two percent of the asbestos pipes are in Cork, ~10% in Dublin with the rest in Donegal, Tipperary and Kerry. Irish Water, the utility company that owns the water delivery system, was unable to provide data on the number of pipe bursts in recent years. The company is being urged to carry out a risk assessment of the structural integrity of the pipes, most of which are between 50 to 70 years old. Irish Water denies asbestos water mains are harmful to people’s health. See: Revealed: Over 5100 kilometres of asbestos water pipes in Ireland.
 

Renewal of Asbestos Mines?

Apr 2, 2020

A spokesperson for the Shabanie-Mashaba Mines company – which owns two currently nonoperational chrysotile (white) asbestos mines in Zimbabwe – has said that one of its mines, the King Mine in Mashava (formerly Mashaba), has now been dewatered. As a result of the successful completion of this work, mining at the site will begin by the end of 2020. In light of that, potential customers are being contacted in Belarus, India, China and throughout South East Asia and viable marketing strategies are under consideration. The rehabilitation of the company’s other mine – the Shabanie mine in Zvishavane – was proceeding. See: Shabanie Mashaba Mines to resume operations?
 

Healthy Company, Dying Workers

Mar 31, 2020

As payments to Brazilian asbestos victims remained frozen due to financial machinations by Eternit, S.A. – formerly the country’s biggest asbestos conglomerate – the group reported good results for 2019 due to its embrace of asbestos-free technology. During the year, sales of asbestos-free fiber cement tiles grew by 18% a quarter and 24% for the year. A statement released by the company said: “Eternit keeps its focus on optimizing its fiber cement roofing manufacturing process, maintaining margins that ensure the sustainability of the business.” See: Eternit lucra R$ 6,7 milhões no final de 2019 e avança em reviravolta sem Amianto [Eternit profits R$6.7 million at the end of 2019 and advances in an asbestos-free turnaround].
 

Asbestos Victims at High Risk

Mar 31, 2020

CONTRAMIANTO, an Italian association representing asbestos victims in the southern Italian town of Taranto, has issued an alert about the high level of risk posed by the Coronavirus to those suffering from asbestos-related cancers and diseases. In their press release, the association explained that the majority of the injured have respiratory problems or immune deficiencies which compromised their ability to fight the virus: “We believe it is essential that specific health recommendations are issued for the ex-asbestos-exposed patients who are certainly fragile and therefore more attackable by the Coronavirus…” See: Covid-19, malati ex esposti amianto più a rischio [Covid-19, asbestos patients at high risk].
 

Plaintiff’s Verdict in Montana

Mar 31, 2020

On March 25, the Montana Supreme Court held that a workers compensation insurer was liable for claims from people who had worked at the Grace vermiculite plant in Libby, Montana. The factory was at the center of an epidemic of asbestos-related disease and death caused by the presence of asbestos fiber in the vermiculite ore. In 2017, a Montana Asbestos Claims Court ruled that Maryland Casualty – which had provided Grace with workers compensation insurance from 1963 to 1973 – was liable for damages for workplace-related asbestos injury to Grace workers. The insurer appealed, and the Montana Supreme Court unanimously upheld that ruling. See: Mine Workers’ Asbestos Suit Against Insurer Advanced by Montana High Court.
 

Post- Brexit Asbestos Concerns

Mar 26,2020

On March 24, 2020 – the day before Parliament adjourned – a written answer to a question (HL2312) submitted on March 9, by Lord Alton of Liverpool regarding the UK prohibitions on the use, sale and imports of asbestos and asbestos-containing products was provided by Lord Goldsmith, Minister of State for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. In his response (HL2312), Goldsmith wrote: “The Government has no plans to revise these restrictions [as per the EU’s Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation & Restriction of Chemicals Regulation] or alter the way asbestos is regulated in the UK.” See: Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered on 24th March 2020.
 

Mesothelioma: Updated Information

Mar 26, 2020

A paper published in Journal of Translational Lung Cancer Research, Vol 9, Supplement 1 (February 2020) calling for national asbestos bans was one of 11 submissions in this special issue dedicated to the subject of mesothelioma. Other papers in the supplement covered topics such as disease causation, chemotherapy innovations, immunotherapy developments, surgical interventions, peritoneal mesothelioma and the implications of chromosomal rearrangements in the development of new treatment protocols. See: Epidemiology of mesothelioma in the 21st century in Europe and the United States, 40 years after restricted/banned asbestos use.
 

Quebec’s Asbestos Rebrand

Mar 26, 2020

In a somewhat whimsical article, and mindful of the impact of the deadly global pandemic, Greenpeace Canada discussed several suggestions for a new name for the toxic Quebec town where mining and milling operations had exposed generations of workers and residents to the asbestos hazard. The name search led by the Mayor of Asbestos is ongoing with the deadline for submissions March 20, after which a shortlist would be compiled. The suggestions made by Greenpeace were endangered species of the Eastern Townships region including: Bicknell, Lamproie, Listère, Blongios, Chevalier and Apalone. See: Greenpeace Wants to Help the City of Asbestos Change its Toxic Name.
 

Call for Urgent Action

Mar 26, 2020

In mid-March, several US environmental organizations launched a lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for its alleged violation of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). The litigants asserted that instead of using changes made in 2016 to TSCA to protect the public, the EPA was using them to streamline approval for the new use of potentially dangerous chemicals. It had been hoped that the changes to TSCA would have seen the EPA finally ban the use of asbestos and asbestos-containing products to protect Americans from hazardous exposures which could cause deadly cancers and respiratory diseases. This did not happen. See: Trump’s EPA is being sued for hiding information about new chemicals.
 

Asbestos Concerns over Trade Deal

Mar 23, 3030

Global Justice Now, a UK NGO, has raised concerns about the potential health hazards posed by a UK–US trade deal highlighting the lower safety standards for cosmetic products in the US. Tests by the US Food and Drug (FDA) Administration in 2019 and 2020 revealed asbestos contamination of several cosmetic products, including makeup targeted at children. Most recently, on March 9, 2020, the FDA revealed findings of the presence of asbestos fibers in cosmetics (see FDA report on cosmetics tested for asbestos).
See: US trade deal ‘could flood Britain with toxic cosmetics.
 

Russia’s Future Asbestos-Free?

Mar 23, 2020

A Russian language article about modern architecture, green construction and ecological solutions to construction challenges stated that: “The concept of ‘green’ is not limited to a certain landscaping of local territories and building facades. It is also about quality and compliance with environmentally friendly building materials. A striking example is asbestos, which was used in mass construction, and is now completely banned in the construction of buildings.” See: Мегаполисам прописали сертификацию. Города скоро будут генерировать половину выбросов парниковых газов [Prescribed certification for megacities. Cities will soon generate half greenhouse gas emissions].
 

Causation of Lung Cancer

Mar 23, 2020

Up to 15% of all the cases of lung cancer in Spain are caused by exposure to asbestos contained in products incorporated within the country’s infrastructure, according to a recently issued report by the College of Surveyors, Technical Architects and Building Engineers of Barcelona (Collegi d'Aparelladors, Arquitectes Tècnics i Enginyers d'Edificació de Barcelona). During the 20th century, consumption of asbestos in Spain totalled 2.6 million tonnes. See: El amianto presente en materiales como el fibrocemento causa entre un 10 y un 15% de los cánceres de pulmón [Asbestos present in materials such as fiber cement causes between 10 and 15% of lung cancers].
 

Russian Attack on Biden Campaign

Mar 23, 2020

A scurrilous article on a Russian website attacked the presidential campaign of Joe Biden claiming his supporters included firms that made billions from lawsuits against defendants including Johnson & Johnson, the administration of New York City and others. The article, which named the firm of Weitz & Luxenberg that “boasts on its website that its lawyers have won about $8.5 billion in asbestos cases,” concluded that: “Biden is supported by people with a very dubious reputation… the Democrats always had connections with the anti-asbestos lobby in the United States, but now the evidence has surfaced ...” See: Джо Байдена в президентской гонке спонсируют юристы, связанные с антиасбестовой кампанией [Joe Biden sponsored by anti-asbestos campaign lawyers in presidential race].
 

Asbestos Exposé

Mar 20, 2020

In the 3rd episode of a BBC series entitled: Beauty Laid Bare, the harmful ingredients found in everyday items used by teenagers taking part in the program were revealed; the presence of asbestos fibers in goods sold by mainstream manufacturers such as Johnson & Johnson, Claire’s Accessories and MUA came as a shock to the youngsters. US scientist and whistle blower Sean Fitzgerald explained the test results of products used by the teenagers, who were baffled about the failure of oversight by U.S. government agencies to prevent the marketing and sale of contaminated goods to members of the public. See: Beauty Laid Bare, Series 1: 3: The Ingredients.
 

Asbestos Conundrum from Malaysia

Mar 20, 2020

An article by Assoc. Prof. Dr Warren Thomas – who cites his membership of Ireland’s Royal College of Surgeons and is currently working at Malaysia’s Perdana University (see: Professor Warren Thomas’ profile) – downplays the health hazard posed by human exposures to chrysotile (white) asbestos stating: “there remains some uncertainty over the health risks associated with white (chrysotile) asbestos.” As the subjects taught by Thomas are: Cardiovascular Physiology, Endocrinology, Renal Physiology and Neurophysiology, one wonders what motivated him to offer himself as an expert on this subject? See: Asbestos exposure can cause lung cancer years later.
 

Victim’s Verdict in Spain

Mar 20, 2020

On March 17, Social Court 1 of Cáceres, in western central Spain ruled that long-term asbestos exposure had caused the pulmonary fibrosis of a retired worker. From 1969 until 1982, he had been employed in a factory owned by Productos Aislantes SA which manufactured bakelite products containing between 7 and 16% asbestos; as a result of workplace exposures, the claimant had contracted pulmonary interstitial fibrosis with fibrosing lung lesions that resulted in alterations in pulmonary diffusion and required portable oxygen therapy. See: Un juzgado falla que la exposición al amianto es la causa de la fibrosis pulmonar de una trabajadora [Court finds that exposure to asbestos is the cause of worker's pulmonary fibrosis].
 

Toxic Talc

Mar 18, 2020

A paper uploaded by the American Journal of Industrial Medicine on March 16, 2020 reviewed the cases of 75 people with mesothelioma whose only asbestos exposures were repeated exposures to cosmetic talcum powder. After extensive questioning, pathological testing, medical examinations and other procedures, the authors concluded that: “Mesotheliomas can develop following exposures to cosmetic talcum powders. These appear to be attributable to the presence of anthophyllite and tremolite contaminants in cosmetic talcum powder.” Due to the deadly nature of mesothelioma, it was suggested that: cosmetic talcs be withdrawn from the market as nontoxic alternatives are available. See: Malignant mesothelioma following repeated exposures to cosmetic talc: A case series of 75 patients.
 

Asbestos Industry Infomercial

Mar 18, 2020

A pro-asbestos Russian diatribe masquerading as a light-hearted romp through the history of chrysotile (white) asbestos cited uses of the substance in devices for tanks and machine guns, covers for books by Ray Bradbury and Stephen King, protective clothing for firefighters and building material. It refuted anti-asbestos rhetoric as unfounded and unscientific, asserting that: “The most enduring and widespread myth of asbestos is its harm to human health… [and that] chrysotile asbestos mined in Russia is a safe material when used under controlled conditions.” See: Легендарный асбест: мифы, курьезы и правда о «горном льне» [Legendary asbestos: myths, funny things and the truth about “mountain flax”].
 

Asbestos in Schools

Mar 18, 2020

The authorities in Vila Franca de Xira, a district in Portugal’s capital city, have submitted evidence regarding the asbestos contamination of secondary schools to the Ministry of Education, according to Mayor Alberto Mesquita in conversation with local councillors. The work required to remediate the educational infrastructure has been costed at ~€27m. The removal of asbestos-containing roofs has been a priority for Mesquita’s administration; over the last two years, asbestos-containing material was removed from primary schools and kindergartens. See: Já há estudo sobre amianto nas escolas de VFX mas as obras continuam por fazer [There is already a study on asbestos in VFX schools, but the work remains to be done].
 

Revising the EU’s Asbestos OEL

Mar 18, 2020

On March 2, 2020 a call was made by the European Chemicals Agency, at the behest of the European Commission, for the submission of recommendations to its ongoing review of the current occupational exposure limit (OEL), which obliges employers to ensure that workers are not exposed to airborne concentrations of asbestos in excess of 0.1 fibres per cm3 as an 8-hour time-weighted average as per stipulations of Article 8 Directive 2009/148/EC on the protection of workers from the risks related to exposure to asbestos at work. All submissions must be received by June 2, 2020. See: Occupational exposure limits – Call for comments and evidence.
 

Quebec Rejects “Asbestos”

Mar 16, 2020

As work progresses to distance the Quebec town of Asbestos from its deadly legacy, leading figures admit they are tired of the negative attention that the name of their town had attracted. According to Mayor Hugues Grimard, the town is in a “post-asbestos era,” and is eager to “break away from the asbestos era.” According to Grimard, hundreds of responses had been received for a new name for the town. The submissions are being reviewed by the council and up to five will be put forward for the electorate to choose from with voters as young as 14 being able to participate. See: Asbestos s’apprête à changer de nom [Asbestos to change name].
 

Asbestos Carrot & Stick

Mar 16, 2020

Russian asbestos stakeholders have embarked on a marketing offensive informing construction company officials and professionals about the advantages of using chrysotile asbestos building products in a desperate attempt to counter the increasing popularity of asbestos-free material. Industry lobbyists are reminding potential customers that as of July 19, 2019 contract tenders are no longer allowed to stipulate the exclusion of asbestos products from building projects in Russia. See: Хризотиловая продукция повышает качество и уменьшает стоимость проведения капремонта [Chrysotile products improve quality and reduce the cost of overhaul].
 

Eternit Defies Supreme Court

Mar 16, 2020

A fortnight ago, the Eternit company announced the resumption of chrysotile asbestos production at its mine in Minaçu, Goiás State in direct contravention of a 2017 ruling by the Brazilian Supreme Court. The company said that the activity was legal under Goiás State Law 20,514, passed on July 17, 2019, which permitted the extraction and processing of chrysotile asbestos exclusively for export purposes. Critics said this action was unconstitutional as the Supreme Court ruling applied throughout the country and that the transport of the toxic cargo was banned throughout Brazil. See: Eternit retoma produção de amianto em Goiás [Eternit resumes asbestos production in Goiás].
 

Supreme Court Victims’ Verdict

Mar 16, 2020

On March 12, 2020, the Montana Supreme Court handed down a judgment upholding a 2019 court decision which found that the BNSF Railway Company was not immune to lawsuits brought by hundreds of plaintiffs injured by exposure to asbestos as a result of the company’s negligence. Lawyers for the claimants described the hazards posed by BNSF’s operations including the transport of asbestos-containing vermiculite, spillage of asbestos material along railway tracks and in the BNSF railyard and continued disturbance of the built-up spilled asbestos by the company’s trains and workers. See: Montana Supreme Court: BNSF Not Shielded from Liability in Libby Asbestos Cases.
 

Meeting the Asbestos Challenge

Mar 13, 2020

The New Zealand and Australian authors of a paper uploaded on March 5, 2020 to the website of the Journal of Public Health Policy, having reviewed the current global asbestos panorama, called for global action to outlaw future asbestos use and research funding for innovative solutions for the destruction and disposal of asbestos-containing waste. The authors concluded that: "Comprehensive [asbestos] bans are needed in all countries. Priority attention for implementation should focus on those properties where people live, work, and go to school." See: Call for a global ban policy on and scientific management of asbestos to eliminate asbestos-related diseases.
 

More Russian Asbestos Propaganda

Mar 13, 2020

An article on a Russian website exploited the lack of asbestos awareness in Quebec to promote sales of chrysotile asbestos, quoting the results of a survey which reported that 93% of those questioned were unconcerned about the hazard posed by contamination of the former asbestos mining region. The author repeated contentious asbestos propaganda which asserted that once inhaled, fibers were rapidly dissolved and therefore posed no risk to human health. “There are,” the author said “no epidemics of diseases in the Russian monotowns Yasnoy and Asbest, where chrysotile is still mined to this day.” See: Хризотил безопасен: результаты опроса в канадском Асбесте [Chrysotile safe: Canadian Asbestos survey results].
 

Closure of Mining Town: Update

Mar 13, 2020

The legislation to take ownership of the few properties in the former asbestos mining town of Wittenoom, Western Australia (WA) remaining in private hands passed the Lower House – the Legislative Assembly – of the WA Parliament and is due to be debated again in the Upper House soon. Once the State acquires ownership of these titles, the Department of Planning Lands and Heritage will demolish all remaining infrastructure and cut off roads. Essential services were discontinued years ago but the few remaining residents have generators. See: Wittenoom Closure Bill 2019.
 

Asbestos Removal Regs Updated

Mar 12, 2020

The Workers’ Compensation Board (WCB) on Prince Edwards’ Island has updated the rules for asbestos removal contractors working on renovations or demolition projects. The changes made were intended to raise levels of occupational protection from the asbestos hazard and included new: definitions of asbestos-containing materials, requirements for ventilation, measures for medical surveillance of high-risk workers. According to the WCB, the changes would not significantly affect costs of asbestos removal work. See: Rules around removal of deadly asbestos tightened on P.E.I.
 

Asbestos on the Railways

Mar 12, 2020

Off-loading asbestos-containing rolling stock could prove problematic for Belgium’s national railway company, the SNCB, which has 1,000+ contaminated wagons, locomotives and motor vehicles it revealed on March 10, 2020. The intention was to dispose of these items by 2023. The affected goods, most of which were built in the 1980s, were itemized in a document for prospective buyers as follows: 720 wagons, 193 locomotives and 239 motor vehicles. See: De l'amiante “en grande quantité” dans des wagons, locomotives et autre matériel roulant de la SNCB [Asbestos “in large quantities” in SNCB wagons, locomotives and other rolling stock].
 

Free Asbestos Removal

Mar 12, 2020

Residents of Fairfield City, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia had until March 13 to apply to the council to arrange free collection by licensed contractors of up to 10-square metres of loose bonded asbestos material. The collections, which were scheduled to take place before the end of March, were part of the municipal Household Asbestos Removal Program. Asbestos-cement building products were widely used throughout Australia after the second World War and continue to pose a health hazard to homeowners and residents throughout the country. See: Asbestos needs to be disposed of safely.
 

Stricter Asbestos Disposal Regime

Mar 12, 2020

Responding to WorkSafe BC requirements meant to protect Canadian workers and the public from the risk of asbestos exposure at landfills and waste transfer sites, new construction waste disposal rules have been brought into effect in the Thompson-Nicola Regional District and the City of Kamloops in British Colombia. Adopting the precautionary principle, building waste from any pre-1990 building will now be assumed to contain asbestos if it has not been tested; the stricter protocols that will be applied are designed to minimize hazardous occupational exposures. See: New disposal rules for materials that might contain asbestos.
 

Global Asbestos Trade Data

Mar 11, 2020

New data from the United States Geological Survey is now available online which show a continued decrease in the global production of asbestos in recent years: 2016 (1,280,000 tonnes/t), 2017 (1,170,000t), 2018 (1,150,000t) and 2019 (1,100,000t). The only countries still mining asbestos in 2020 are: Russia, China and Kazakhstan. Considering that global output in 2000 and 2010 was 2,035,150t and 2,005,400t respectively, the figure for 2019 is an indication of a dramatic collapse in worldwide demand for a substance widely acknowledged to cause a variety of cancers and respiratory diseases. See: Asbestos Statistics and Information.
 

Catalonia’s Asbestos Legacy

Mar 11, 2020

On March 9, 2020, representatives of the Association of Builders, Technical Architects and Building Engineers of Barcelona issued a warning about the public health risk posed by asbestos contamination of the Spanish infrastructure and urged official to implement a comprehensive remediation program. The alert was raised during a debate which considered measures to eradicate the asbestos hazard; steps to raise public awareness of the nature and extent of the problem were discussed by medical and technical experts. See: CATALUNYA - Expertos alertan del riesgo de salud pública del amianto e instan a su retirada [Catalonia - Experts warn of the public health risk of asbestos and urge its removal].
 

UK Asbestos Ban: Status

Mar 11, 2020

On March 9, 2020 a series of Parliamentary questions was submitted by Lord Alton of Liverpool one of which asked the Department for Work and Pensions (HL 2312): “To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they intend to (1) maintain the total prohibition on the use of asbestos, and (2) rule out any instance of permitting products containing up to one per cent of asbestos as per regulations in the United States, after December 2020.” See: Hansards. Written Questions and Answers, March 9, 2020 by Lord Alton of Liverpool.
 

Asbestos in Cosmetics

Mar 11, 2020

On March 9, 2020, the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) announced results from a year-long sampling exercise of cosmetics containing talc undertaken by AMA Analytical Services, Inc. under commission from the FDA which revealed that while 43 samples were negative, nine contained asbestos. Throughout 2020, the FDA will continue its program for blind testing and will announce any positive results. Commenting on the FDA’s plans, a spokesperson said: “Our work in this area is ongoing and we’ll continue to communicate with the public as we have updates to share.” See: FDA Releases Final Report on Cosmetics Tested for Asbestos.
 

Asbestos in Healthcare

Mar 10, 2020

In response to a Parliamentary question posed by MSP Monica Lennon [see: Question S5W-27540 on 20/02/2020), the Scottish Health Secretary Jeane Freeman admitted that the Government had no data about the asbestos contamination of the NHS estate in Scotland. In view of the lack of data, Health Facilities Scotland had been instructed to undertake a survey and report back by the end of April. Freeman admitted that: “The Scottish Government recognise the hazard of asbestos and the risks to health that it poses.” See: Health Secretary has no idea how many Scottish hospitals are riddled with asbestos.
 

Asbestos Propaganda

Mar 10, 2020

A recent online article discusses Russian legislation – implemented on July 1, 2019 – disallowing property owners and building professionals from specifying the use of asbestos-free products in contracts and tenders related to renovation and construction projects. However, the substance of the piece is little more than a rehash of asbestos industry propaganda extolling the virtues of home-grown chrysotile (white) asbestos: Russia is the world’s biggest supplier of chrysotile asbestos, a substance banned in dozens of countries. See: Капремонт в России: подводные камни обновления жилья [Overhaul in Russia: pitfalls of housing renovation].
 

Asbestos in Cosmetics

Mar 10, 2020

Last week, a petition organized by campaigning civil society groups in the US and supported by almost 25,000 people was submitted to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA); the signatories urged the FDA to mandate more sensitive methods for identifying asbestos fibers present in talc. As of now, it is not mandatory for cosmetic companies to test for asbestos. Recent discoveries of asbestos contamination of popular cosmetic products – including items marketed for children – have raised the level of public concern over this issue. See: Consumers Demand Mandatory Testing of Cosmetics for Asbestos.
 

Asbestos Protest

Mar 10, 2020

On March 10, the Association of Asbestos Victims of Euskadi will hold a protest in Gasteiz, the capital city of the Basque Country in Northern Spain. The demonstration will highlight the failures of the National Institute of Social Security and multiple employers to address the problems experienced by people with asbestos-related injuries including three women who became ill after domestic exposure to their husbands’ contaminated work clothes. The men had worked for CAF Beasain, a Spanish manufacturer of railway vehicles and buses. See: El comité de CAF Beasain pide que se reconozca a víctimas indirectas del amianto [The CAF Beasain committee asks that indirect asbestos victims be recognized].
 

Asbestos in Schools

Mar 9, 2020

A Portuguese campaigning group – the Bloco de Esquerda (the Bloc) – is taking action to assess the extent of asbestos contamination of the country’s schools in light of the failure of the national government to take action. As a result of the Ministry of Education’s failure to respond to enquiries made on this subject in November, 2019, the Bloc is sending questionnaires to the country’s 800+ schools in order to compile an accurate record of the extent and nature of the problem. See: Governo não respondeu sobre amianto nas escolas, Bloco questiona todas as escolas do país [Government did not respond about asbestos in schools, Bloco questions all schools in the country].
 

Basque Legal Victory

Mar 9, 2020

The first court verdict in the Basque country to award compensation for the death of a person exposed to asbestos via the washing of contaminated clothing was handed down by a court in Tolosa, a town in northern Spain. The CAF company was found negligent for failing to protect the wife of a former employee and was ordered to pay her widower the sum of ~€176,000. The claimant’s wife died in March 2017 from pleural mesothelioma. According to legal experts, this ruling sets a precedent which could benefit future claimants. See: Dictan la primera sentencia favorable a una víctima del amianto por haber lavado ropa (First favorable verdict for an asbestos victim where washing [contaminated] clothes had been the cause [of disease]).
 

Italian Police Raid

Mar 9, 2020

On March 4, 2020, members of a police task force raided a landfill and quarry operated by Bianchi Srl, a company specializing in excavation, earthmoving, recycling of special waste and remediation of contaminated sites in Trentino, northern Italy. Large quantities of asbestos-contaminated waste, which had been intended for resale as raw material for various construction purposes such as roadworks and landfill, were recovered. See: Rifiuti contaminati da amianto miscelati e rivenduti per fare fondi stradali e opere edilizie: maxi sequestro alla Bianchi di Isera [Asbestos contaminated waste mixed and resold for road surfaces and building work: large seizure at Bianchi di Isera].
 

Asbestos Prosecution

Mar 9, 2020

A complaint by the Swiss trade union Unia has resulted in a criminal case being brought by the Public Prosecutor against several defendants over unsafe and illegal asbestos removal work undertaken at a school in Geneva, Switzerland at various intervals between 2017 and 2020. Almost all the air samples taken by the authorities were found to contain asbestos fibers. It is believed that more than 100 workers from 17 companies could have experienced hazardous exposures at this worksite. A new asbestos removal protocol has been implemented so that remediation work at the school can be progressed. See: Amiante: «Jamais eu de cas aussi grave à Genève» [Asbestos: “Never had such a serious case in Geneva”].
 

Recommended: Asbestos Textiles

Mar 4, 2020

An article on a Russian regional news agency website urged citizens to prepare emergency kits to combat domestic fires; an essential component of this kit was an “asbestos cloth” for extinguishing fires or protecting people from flames. The article claimed the fabric was made of a substance which “does not burn, does not melt, and does not emit harmful fumes when heated.” What the author omitted to say was that the textile contained up to 100% asbestos fiber and was amongst the most highly friable of all asbestos products. This friability makes the liberation of respirable asbestos fibers highly likely. See: Полотно из асбеста – эффективный инструмент для тушения пожара [Asbestos cloth – an effective fire extinguishing tool].
 

Mesothelioma Debate

Mar 4, 2020

A debate in the House of Lords on March 3, 2020 examined the ongoing epidemic of asbestos cancer in the UK and delineated measures which had improved the situation for mesothelioma victims including an increase in research funding from public and private sources. Praising the work of the Asbestos Victims Support Groups Forum UK and the Merseyside Asbestos Victims Support Group, Lord Alton highlighted the injustice of the situation whereby mesothelioma claimants receive more from a government scheme then do bereaved relatives: a victim aged 77 making a claim based on a 100% IIDB award receives £14,334 whereas a surviving partner receives £7,949. See: Mesothelioma Lump Sum Payments (Conditions and Amounts) (Amendment) Regulations 2020.
 

Asbestos Offensive

Mar 4, 2020

In a letter dated February 20, 2020, asbestos victims, bereaved family members, health organizations and concerned citizens urgently requested that the leadership of the Canadian Conservative Party – currently in opposition – repudiate statements by Luc Berthold, the Conservative Member of Parliament representing the former asbestos mining constituency of Mégantic-L'Érable, alleging the existence of a powerful anti-asbestos lobby operating in Quebec and Canada that was spreading disinformation designed to denigrate asbestos; Berthold provided no evidence to support his accusations. See: Conservative Party of Canada asked to repudiate statements creating doubt about asbestos harm.
 

Asbestos in the Sewers

Mar 4, 2020

Since February 25, 2020, workers at the company Eau de Paris (Paris Water) have been on strike over the issue of occupational asbestos exposures. Despite acknowledging as long ago as 2014 that 30% of the 1,700 km of underground pipes in the capital’s water delivery system were made of asbestos and that all the company’s workers had probably been exposed to asbestos fibers, to date discussions with the company had proved futile with no improvements to the working conditions of sewer workers and no compensation for the workplace hazards experienced. See: Amiante dans les égouts: grève illimitée à Eau de Paris [Asbestos in the sewers: unlimited strike at Eau de Paris].
 

Mesothelioma Data

Mar 4, 2020

An analysis of mesothelioma data produced by the Health and Safety Executive in 2017 revealed that while male deaths were decreasing the number of deaths in women had risen, with multiple cases being identified from toxic occupational exposures experienced in public buildings. Commenting on the new data, one legal expert expressed sadness at the emerging trend in: “certain female-dominated professions, like teaching, social care and nursing” and warned of “a new wave of asbestos-related deaths – this time among women…” See: Rise in female mesothelioma deaths sheds new light on asbestos risk.
 

Confronting Brazil’s Asbestos Legacy

Mar 3, 2020

In a high-profile interview with retired labor inspector and co-founder of the Brazilian Association of the Asbestos-Exposed Fernanda Giannasi (published on February 29, 2020), the former civil servant denounced moves by the Governor of Goiás State and asbestos industry stakeholders to circumvent Brazil’s 2017 asbestos ban. Recapping the evolution of knowledge regarding the hazard posed by exposures to asbestos and the history of asbestos mining and use in Brazil, Ms. Giannasi said: “Our struggle is to permanently protect society from the asbestos hazard…. What was once called the ‘magic mineral’ is now condemned as the “killer fiber.” See: Liberação do amianto em Goiás: “a ‘Lei Caiado’ é um acinte” [Asbestos release in Goiás: “the ‘Caiado Law’ is a provocation].
 

Mesothelioma Research Award

Mar 3, 2020

UK campaigners have welcomed the announcement by European cancer organizations of a multi-million pound grant for mesothelioma research led by Professor Kevin Blyth, a scientist at the University of Glasgow. The research team will search for alternative treatments for the signature asbestos cancer, mesothelioma. Commenting on this news, Professor Blyth said: “In the future it’s likely that the global incidence of mesothelioma will continue to increase, as there are many countries that still don’t regulate the use of asbestos. So, it’s important to build a research community now and improve our understanding to help those affected by this cancer.” See: European partnerships invest £27.4m to accelerate cancer research.
 

Asbestos Removal in Madrid

Mar 3, 2020

At a meeting on February 28, 2020, residents of the Orcasitas area of Madrid – one of the capital’s poorest neighborhoods – were informed of plans to support the removal of asbestos contamination via government grants of up to 90% for decontamination work. The program to replace toxic roofing on homes in Orcasitas will begin in April 2020; funds for the work will be made available to applicants at the start of the projects. A sum of €4.5m has been allocated. See: Almeida calma a Orcasitas con un nuevo plan de rehabilitación para retirar el amianto [Almeida calms Orcasitas with a new rehabilitation plan to remove asbestos].
 

Asbestos Legacy at Sea and on Land

Mar 3, 2020

Last week it was announced that asbestos had been found behind insulated bulkheads on Israeli warships during equipment checks. Commenting on the situation, a spokesperson for the Navy said that asbestos audits of the ships would be completed by July 2020. This announcement came weeks after it was revealed that as a result of the discovery of asbestos contamination at the Reading Power Station in Tel Aviv, the Ministry of Environmental Protection had ordered the facility to close down temporarily. See: На израильских военных кораблях обнаружен асбест [Asbestos discovered on Israeli warships].
 

Asbestos Eradication

Mar 3, 2020

To progress efforts to rid Poland of asbestos contamination by 2032, Torun City in north-central Poland is providing support – in collaboration with the Provincial and National Fund for Environmental Protection and Water Management – to homeowners who make applications under the Asbestos Removal Program for the City of Torun. To date, ~765 tonnes of contaminated material has been removed and safely disposed of under strict regulations set by the Polish government. See: Niebezpieczny azbest musi zniknac z Torunia! [Dangerous asbestos must disappear from Torun!].
 

Asbestos Alert

Feb 28, 2020

On February 25, 2020 it was announced that the Naval Group had temporarily closed a workshop in Cherbourg-en-Cotentin, north-western France which employed 200 people, due to concerns over asbestos, after trade unions had denounced the hazardous conditions at the worksite where nuclear submarines are manufactured for the French Navy. This action was taken days after a Court fined the French automotive group PSA €118,000 for occupational asbestos exposures experienced by a former worker at the Peugeot site in Sochaux. See: Naval Group ferme un atelier à Cherbourg-en-Cotentin à cause d'une suspection d'amiante [Naval Group closes workshop in Cherbourg-en-Cotentin due to asbestos suspicion].
 

Toxic Talc

Feb 28, 2020

A paper published in the current issue of the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine described thirty-three cases of malignant mesothelioma among individuals with no known asbestos exposure other than cosmetic talcum. The authors of this study reported that: “Asbestos of the type found in talcum powder was found in all six cases.” In light of the finding that asbestos-contaminated talcum powders could cause mesothelioma, the researchers recommended that clinicians detail mesothelioma patients’ history of talcum powder use. See: Mesothelioma Associated with the Use of Cosmetic Talc.
 

Asbestos in Marble and Stone

Feb 28, 2020

New guidelines issued by the Health and Safety Executive highlight the hazard posed by the presence of asbestos fibers in marble and basalt products and provide advice for people supplying, working or using these types of material. The 10-page document cites various pieces of legislation relevant to this subject including: the Health & Safety at Work etc Act 1974, the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012, the Construction (Design & Management) Regulations 2015 and the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002. See: Asbestos in some types of marble and other stone: assessing the risk.
 

Asbestos at Power Plants

Feb 27, 2020

Today (February 27), an information session is being held by the Center for Environmental Studies Ithaca of Andorra to raise awareness of the historical as well as current occupational and environmental health hazards, including exposures to asbestos, generated by the operations of the Andorra Thermal Power Plant. Amongst the speakers will be representatives of the Catalan Association of Victims Affected by Asbestos and specialist Jaume Cortés, from a legal cooperative specializing in industrial injuries. See: ¿Qué supone la exposición continuada al sílice y al amianto? [What does continuous exposure to silica and asbestos mean?]
 

Asbestos Ban Resolution

Feb 27, 2020

A resolution submitted to the 12th National Health Assembly of Thailand in December 2019 called for a complete ban on the use of all types of asbestos. The proposal requested that government agencies and ministries take steps to: prohibit asbestos use by 2025 at the latest, support the use of safer alternatives, raise awareness of the health hazard, issue guidelines for the safe disposal of asbestos waste and develop systems for diagnosing asbestos-related diseases and compensating the injured. In order to implement the provisions of the proposal, approval from the National Health Commission and the Thai cabinet is required. See: Revision of National Health Assembly Resolution: Thailand ban asbestos measure.
 

Asbestos and Construction Workers

Feb 27, 2020

Calls are being made for the European Union to update workplace regulations in line with new research which detailed the hazardous effects that legal exposures were having on construction workers. The research showed that instead of 100,000 asbestos fibers per cubic meter, the limit value should be 100 per cubic meter. Danish Member of the European Parliament Nikolaj Villumsen has been pressing for action by the European Employment Committee to address the hazard posed by asbestos still contained within the European infrastructure. See: Villumsen: Lønmodtagere skal ikke betale for grøn omstilling med kortere levetid [Villumsen: Employees should not pay for a green conversion with a shorter life span].
 

Asbestos Claimant’s Verdict

Feb 26, 2020

This week a court in the French city of Belfort, 16 miles from the French-Swiss border, ordered the PSA automotive group to pay compensation of €110,000 to a former worker from the Peugeot factory in Sochaux who has contracted asbestos-related cancer as a result of hazardous occupational exposures during his 40 years of employment. PSA was found guilty of “faute inexcusable” (inexcusable fault). Up to forty thousand people had worked at the Sochaux plant. The company has one month to appeal the verdict. See: Culpabilité du groupe PSA pour exposition à l'amiante [PSA group guilty for asbestos exposure].
 

Asbestos at the Opera

Feb 26, 2020

As the manslaughter trial of five theatre managers was due to recommence in Milan, unions and workers’ groups presented a dossier of material to reporters detailing the presence of asbestos in La Scala and the actions they had taken to try and prevent toxic exposures. The defendants have been charged over the asbestos-related deaths of nine workers – including technicians, singers, musicians, choristers and conductors – which, allegedly, resulted from hazardous exposures experienced at the world famous Opera House. See: Milano, morti per amianto alla Scala: “Bonifica fatta grazie ai lavoratori” [Milan, asbestos deaths at La Scala: “Reclamation done thanks to workers”].
 

Asbestos Mine Remediation

Feb 26, 2020

An abandoned asbestos mine, one of 37 derelict mining facilities on the island of Cyprus, has absorbed most of the funding allocated by the government for the reclamation of such contaminated sites over recent years. The first trees were planted at the site of the Amiantos mine in 1995 and the project is still ongoing with hopes it may be finished in 3 years. According to a recent report: “the site was given priority because it was considered the most urgent case of all the abandoned mines.” Once this project has been completed, work will begin on other sites. Lessons learned from the restoration work at Amiantos suggest that planting trees may be less effective than benign neglect in restoring the area’s flora and fauna. See: Disused mines both heritage and health hazard.
 

Asbestos Propaganda in India and Russia

Feb 24, 2020

The findings of a disputed 2019 “study,” categorized by Indian campaigners as yet another “scam” by asbestos industry stakeholders has been reported in Russia as evidence supporting the “safe use of asbestos” propaganda disseminated by industry. The article asserted that: at the Russian Uralasbest asbestos mining plants “not a single case of an occupational disease was recorded” in 2018 and that “products created from chrysotile asbestos are not just a safe, but natural, environmentally friendly, durable and affordable solution to many problems.” See: Новое исследование подтвердило безопасность хризотила при контролируемом использовании [New study confirms chrysotile safety in controlled use].
 

Toxic Legacy of Asbestos Industry

Feb 24, 2020

New research, revealing the disastrous impact asbestos mining had on workers and resident populations in Quebec, has confirmed the high risk to Canadians posed by occupational and environmental exposures. The “shocking findings” have included: high levels of asbestos-related deaths, lack of compensation, inadequate levels of protection and lower penalties for hazardous practices in Quebec compared to other Canadian provinces. Between 2005 and 2015, 85% of all workplace-related diseases in Quebec were caused by asbestos exposure. See: Inquiry into Quebec’s asbestos mining legacy reveals shocking findings.
 

Police Operation: Asbestos

Feb 24, 2020

On February 20, 2020, police officers from the city of Vlora – in the south-west of Albania – working with border patrol guards seized a large amount of asbestos-contaminated waste being transported in a van in an operation called: “Asbestos”. Six Albanian citizens were arrested after the illegal shipment was discovered in a ferry anchored in Albania which had come from the Italian town of Brindisi. Clarification is being sought of the statement in this article which asserted that asbestos had been banned in Albania. See: Huge Amount of Asbestos Seized Inside Brindisi-Albania Ferry.
 

Court Upholds Compensation Award

Feb 21, 2020

On February 13, 2020, the Florence Court of Appeal upheld a December 2019 ruling by a court in Grosseto, Italy which had recognized the occupational nature of the asbestos-related illness contracted by a soldier, and awarded him benefits including a life-time pension and a one-off lump sum compensation payment. The lower court’s verdict had been appealed by Italy’s Ministry of Economy and Finance. The claimant, who had served in the military for 33 years as a motor engineer and chief mechanic, contracted asbestosis as a result of workplace asbestos exposure. See: Amianto: militare GdF malato, giudici ‘Mef paghi vitalizio’ [Asbestos: sick GdF soldier, ‘Mef pay annuity’ judges rule].
 

Raising Asbestos Awareness

Feb 21, 2020

A conference held in Lisbon on January 31, 2020 brought together national and European experts from the asbestos removal industry and relevant government agencies to assess measures which might be taken to raise the level of asbestos awareness in Portugal, in particular the hazard posed by asbestos contamination of the built environment. The event, which was organized by a campaigning NGO, took place at the Lisbon headquarters of the Order of Engineers on January 31. Measures to protect occupational and public health were examined and topics such as the following were addressed by speakers: asbestos audits, environmental monitoring, asbestos removal and waste disposal practices. See: Portugal sem Amianto [Asbestos-free Portugal].
 

Asbestos on the Metro

Feb 21, 2020

The decontamination of trains by the company operating the Madrid Metro system has been suspended following a complaint received by the Prosecutor’s Office which had been made by a trade union representing Machinists alleging that the company planned to destroy evidence of asbestos contamination in order to undermine personal injury claims by injured workers. On February 17, 2020 the company circulated to the workforce news of yet more asbestos contamination in new train parts, specifically in joints in units 2000A and 2000B. See: Denuncian a Metro por “destrucción de pruebas” en el caso del amianto [Metro denounced for “destruction of evidence” regarding asbestos].
 

Asbestos in Makeup

Feb 21, 2020

A BBC 3 documentary entitled: Beauty Laid Bare revealed that an eye shadow product marketed by the cosmetics company MUA had tested positive for asbestos. US analyst Sean Fitzgerald tested samples from a MUA product called “Silent Disco” three times to confirm the findings. The company asserted that “all their products rigorously comply with all EU safety standards on contaminants and that they keep a full record of test results. They said they have carried out more recent tests on this exact batch of products which show no trace of any contamination.” Nevertheless, the sale of “Silent Disco palette” was discontinued over a year ago. See: Investigation finds asbestos in makeup palette made by popular brand MUA.
 

Asbestos Survey

Feb 19, 2020

Responding to a recent survey nearly all the people living in the former asbestos mining town of Thetford, Quebec expressed no concern about living near the derelict asbestos mine or the mountains of 850 million tonnes of mining waste surrounding the town. According to the researchers: “93% of respondents to the study believe that living in the region is no more dangerous than [living] elsewhere in Quebec.” Only 5% of the people surveyed believed that it was more dangerous to live in the region than elsewhere in Quebec because of the area’s asbestos legacy. See: Les résidus d'amiante ne font pas peur dans la région de Thetford [Asbestos residues are not scary in the Thetford region].
 

Mesothelioma Compensation

Feb 19, 2020

The Italian Parliament has initially approved moves to increase payouts for mesothelioma victims with non-occupational asbestos exposures who were diagnosed since 2015 (or their heirs) from €5,600 to €10,000 by way of a one-off compensation payment. A draft amendment to implement this measure is progressing through legislative channels. After the Second World War, Italy was Europe largest consumer of asbestos; millions of tonnes of asbestos-containing material remains in Italian public buildings, factories and homes. See; Amianto, vittoria delle vittime: 4 milioni di euro per i malati di mesothelioma [Asbestos, victims' victory: 4 million euros for mesothelioma patients].
 

Asbestos Construction Hazard

Feb 19, 2020

An article on the Russian language Delfi website in Latvia about the hazards posed by some construction materials had a rather muddled section about asbestos, alleging that white asbestos (chrysotile) building products – which are “actively used in Russia – can be used safely under controlled conditions. Despite this assertion, the author suggested that the use of asbestos-free products is the safest option and that trained operatives with specialist equipment should be contracted for asbestos removal work. See: Правда и выдумки: Об опасных материалах для стройки и ремонта [Truth and fiction: About the hazards of construction and repair material].
 

Asbestos Eradication: Update

Feb 18, 2020

Programs supporting the eradication of asbestos are underway in many Polish cities and villages as part of efforts to make the country asbestos-free by 2032. In Poznan, refunds are available to meet the full costs of removal and disposal of asbestos-containing products from the municipal authorities. This year, Poznan City has allocated a budget for asbestos removal of 330,000 PLN (~US$76,300); applications for grants must be submitted by October 15, 2020. The maximum funding available per applicant is 33,000 PLN (US$ 8,400). See: Doplacaja do usuwania rakotwórczego azbestu [They pay extra for removing carcinogenic asbestos].
 

Asbestos Hazard in Barcelona

Feb 18, 2020

Information released by the Transportes Metropolitanos de Barcelona (TMB) showed that of the 141 TMB employees who had been medically examined – most of whom were retired and all of whom had ceased working for the company 15 years ago – 15 had asbestos-related lung conditions as follows: 7 had pleural alterations, 6 bronchopulmonary tumors and 2 asbestosis. The total number of TMB employees whose medical conditions have been reviewed under the company’s health surveillance program stands at 1,056. See: Hallan afecciones pulmonares por amianto en 15 jubilados del metro de Barcelona [Asbestos lung conditions found in 15 retirees of the Barcelona metro].
 

Asbestos in Schools

Feb 18, 2020

According to Schoolgroep Brussel (SGB), a group representing the education system of the Flemish Community, 80% of the 100 Flemish schools in Brussels still contain asbestos. Last year (2019), asbestos remediation work was carried out in just six of the Flemish schools. A statement by SGB was highly critical of the discrepancy between the more generous funding provided by the public waste agency in Flanders for work on school in Flanders and that provided by the Brussels environment agency [Leefmilieu Brussel] for Dutch-speaking community schools in Brussels. See: Asbestos still present in 80% of Flemish schools in Brussels.
 

Asbestos in Schools

Feb 18, 2020

During Parliamentary question time last week, Italy’s Minister of the Environment acknowledged that “asbestos is an extremely significant problem for our country.” He announced that €385 million had been allocated for the remediation of schools and hospitals; at this time, asbestos contamination is present in 2,400 schools. Overseeing this project will be a working group whose chair is retired Public Prosecutor Raffaele Guariniello who led efforts in Turin to bring to justice former asbestos company director Stephan Schmidheiny. See: Amianto, 32 milioni di tonnellate di materiale cancerogeno ancora da smaltire [Asbestos, 32 million tons of carcinogenic material still to be disposed of].
 

Calls to Raise Asbestos Awareness

Feb 18, 2020

According to a new online commentary, a basic lack of awareness about the hazard posed by asbestos exposures in Portugal is leading to unsafe and dangerous working practices amongst people trying to remove contaminated material. To improve public health, the author of this text calls for a phased asbestos remediation programme carried out by trained operatives which prioritizes more hazardous situations such as occur when highly friable products are in poor repair and in easily accessible positions such as in schools. See: É urgente regular o tema do Amianto em Portugal [There is an urgent need to regulate the use of asbestos in Portugal].
 

Decrease in Asbestos Demand

Feb 17, 2020

Data released by the United States Geological Survey this month (February 2020) showed that global demand for asbestos fiber fell from 2 million tonnes (t) in 2010 to 1,100,000t in 2019. Russia remained the world’s biggest supplier of asbestos fiber producing 750,000t in 2019 with Kazakhstan 2nd at 200,000t and China 3rd at 125,000t. The main use of asbestos continues to be in the production of asbestos-cement building products such as corrugated roofing tiles, pipes and wall panels. See: U.S. Geological Survey, Mineral Commodity Summaries, January 2020 [pages 26 & 27].
 

Quebec’s Toxic Mining Legacy

Feb 17, 2020

After decades of denial, an independent inquiry is exposing the true cost of the commercial exploitation of asbestos to mining communities in Canada’s asbestos heartland. In the Quebec town of Thetford-Mines, mountains of mining waste – which can contain up to 20% asbestos fiber – dominate the landscape. Entrepreneurs are planning to process this waste to reclaim raw materials including magnesium, silica and manganese, claiming that this can be done safely by destroying the asbestos fibers. Quebec’s Office of Public Hearings on the Environment is currently investigating these claims. See: Pandora’s box opens on Quebec's deadly asbestos legacy.
 

Asbestos Earthquake Hazard

Feb 17, 2020

A documentary on Japan TV marking the 25th anniversary of the Great Hanshin Earthquake, explored the asbestos hazard resulting from that disaster; filmmakers detailed the case of Kazunori Shimatani, a former employee of Akashi City, Hyogo Prefecture who died from mesothelioma in 2013 at the age of 49. Mr. Shimatani had been exposed to asbestos during the post-earthquake clean-up. The death of Mr. Shimatani has not been officially recognized or compensated. To date, a total of five Hyogo Prefecture workers – including clean-up crews and first responders – have been diagnosed with mesothelioma. See: 阪神大震災から25年…“静かな時限爆弾”アスベストの脅威 [25 years since the Great Hanshin Earthquake ... “Silent time bomb! asbestos threat].
 

Disappearing Funds?

Feb 17, 2020

Officials in Piedmont, north-western Italy have denounced the disappearance of €14 million of Italian government funding which had, supposedly, been allocated to continue remediation work in the area surrounding the site of Europe’s largest asbestos mine: Balangero. According to Matteo Marnati, regional councillor for the environment, reclamation work at Balangero has stopped due to the shortage of money. Piedmont has the highest number of deaths caused by the asbestos cancer mesothelioma of all the Italian regions. See: Amianto, non ci sono i soldi per le bonifiche: mai arrivati 14 milioni [Asbestos, there is no money for reclamation: 14 million never arrived].
 

Asbestos-Cement Roofing: Alert

Feb 13, 2020

At a ceremony in Jakarta on February 11, 2020 to mark the founding of the Indonesian National Movement for Lung Cancer Care, lung specialist Dr. Elisna Syahruddin issued a warning about the health hazard posed by living in close proximity to asbestos-cement roofing due to the link between asbestos exposure and lung cancer. Syahruddin advised that asbestos products should not be used. The number of lung cancer cases in Indonesia is now more than 10 times what it was 15 years ago with male patients accounting for almost 90% of those affected. See: Atap Asbes Disebut Bisa Tingkatkan Risiko Kanker Paru-paru [Asbestos roofing said to increase the risk of lung cancer].
 

Asbestos Outrage

Feb 13, 2020

Under cover of a controversial law enacted in 2019 by the Brazilian State of Goiás, Eternit SA – formerly the country’s largest asbestos conglomerate – has announced it will resume processing chrysotile asbestos at a mine owned by its subsidiary Sama in contravention of a 2017 Supreme Court ruling which outlawed the commercial exploitation of asbestos. The company said that all the asbestos, estimated to be ~24,000 tonnes, will be exported. Operations at the mine had been paralyzed since February 2019 due to litigation pending at the Supreme Court regarding the unconstitutionality of the Goiás law. See: Eternit vai retomar produção de amianto para exportar, apesar de proibição do STF [Eternit to resume asbestos production for export, despite STF ban].
 

Toxic Talc

Feb 13, 2020

An online article by a Vietnamese medical consultant discussed the controversy over the use of talcum powder in cosmetic products due to findings that the talc could contain asbestos fibers. Exposure to asbestos can cause various cancers including lung cancer and ovarian cancer. Having considered information from different sources and explained research findings, the author concluded that: “you should still be cautious about using products containing this ingredient. Ideally, you should avoid products containing talc containing asbestos.” See: Bạn có nên hạn chế dùng bột talc để phòng ngừa ung thư? [Should you limit the use of talcum powder to prevent cancer?].
 

Asbestos in Schools

Feb 13, 2020

The American Federation of Teachers has joined the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers (PFT) in calling for extra funding to remediate asbestos contamination of many of the city’s public schools, some of which have been forced to close due to hazardous conditions. The two groups are urging the School District of Philadelphia to hire up to 100 trained operatives as part of a rapid response team to identify and eliminate asbestos pollution in the city’s schools. The PFT is suing the school district over mishandling of the asbestos issue and endangering the lives of ~140,000 students and school employees. See: National teachers’ union calls for additional resources to address asbestos issue in schools.
 

Ban Asbestos Award

Feb 11, 2020

On February 6, 2020, the Indonesian city of Bandung received an award for its commitment to eradicating the asbestos hazard. A certificate from the (Australian) Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency was presented to the Deputy Mayor Yana Mulyana at City Hall by Campaigner Phillip Hazleton from the Australian group: Union Aid Abroad. This month, Bandung City Assembly announced it was expanding its 2018 asbestos ban for commercial buildings to include all new private houses; Bandung is the only city in Indonesia that prohibits asbestos use in buildings. See: Konsisten Larang Penggunaan Asbes, Kota Bandung Raih Penghargaan [For its Commitment to Banning the Use of Asbestos, Bandung City Wins Award].
 

Asbestos Exposure and Leukaemia

Feb 11, 2020

Using a cohort of 12,111 seventh grade pupils from four Danish schools located near a factory which produced asbestos-cement and a reference cohort of 108,987 participants, scientists investigated whether environmental and occupational asbestos exposure increased the risk of haematological malignancies. They concluded that: “long-term occupational asbestos exposure may be a risk factor for leukaemia” and recommended that “countries still using asbestos should acknowledge this additional cancer risk in their asbestos management.” See: Asbestos exposure and haematological malignancies: a Danish cohort study.
 

Asbestos in Healthcare Facilities

Feb 11, 2020

Kate Richmond, a 44-year old doctor with cancer caused by exposure to asbestos in UK hospitals, has condemned the failure of the National Health Service (NHS) to protect staff, warning of a “hidden epidemic of asbestos cancers among NHS staff and patients because hospitals have failed to properly handle toxic material.” Richmond won her legal case against the NHS which had, her lawyers argued, negligently exposed her to asbestos whilst she was a medical student and a junior doctor in Coventry. According to HSE data, between 2011 and 2017, 128 people working in health and social care died from mesothelioma, the same cancer Richmond contracted. See: Dying doctor warns of asbestos ‘hidden epidemic’ caused by NHS failures.
 

Asbestos Exposures in Ship-breaking

Feb 11, 2020

New figures released by a Belgian-based NGO show that Bangladesh dismantled 47.2% of all vessels scrapped in 2018. There are an estimated 3,000 permanent and up to 7,000 temporary workers in the country’s ship-breaking yards. In most cases, harmful substances are not identified and toxic exposures to carcinogens like asbestos occur daily. As well as endangering the health of workers and local communities, the pollution produced by ship-breaking destroys coastal ecosystems. See: Bangladesh retains top spot in global ship breaking trade.
 

Asbestos Hazard in Shipyards

Feb 11, 2020

Research undertaken at shipyards in India confirmed the high level of risk of contracting asbestos cancer which exists and highlighted the lack of political will to take preventative action. The findings of the scientists were disturbing: airborne asbestos fiber concentrations in the ship recycling yards could exceed 100 fibres/ml; by 2027, ~4,500 people could die from mesothelioma as a result of improper handling of asbestos at these workplaces with more deaths amongst bystanders than those directly exposed; most of these fatalities will go unreported. See: Assessment of the future mesothelioma disease burden from past exposure to asbestos in ship recycling yards in India.
 

Post-Bushfire Asbestos Hazard

Feb 10, 2020

As with other man-made and natural disasters, the hazard posed during clean-up operations by asbestos contamination has been highlighted in the aftermath of the bushfires that raged through Australia in recent weeks. It has been estimated by the NSW Rural Fire Service that 40% of homes and buildings destroyed by the fires contained asbestos. Methods for dealing with the asbestos debris include spraying a PVC binder on the contamination to prevent the liberation of fibers. The disposal of corrugated sheeting and boards, however, is posing a problem for affected communities. NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro has promised that “contaminated properties will be prioritised.” See: Asbestos risk in 40 per cent of bushfire-hit homes.
 

Madrid’s Asbestos Scandal

Feb 10, 2020

The results of a 2003 survey which identified the presence of asbestos in Madrid’s transport system were not communicated to employees of the company which commissioned it – Metro de Madrid – a court was told on February 6, 2020. Proceedings before Judge María Isabel Garaizaba, head of the Court of Instruction number 23 of Madrid, are seeking to establish whether charges, including reckless manslaughter, made against seven company executives can be substantiated. As of now, five Metro workers have died from asbestos-related diseases as a result of occupational exposures; tests are ongoing on other current and former members of the workforce. See: Metro dijo a sus empleados que el amianto no les afectaba [Metro told its employees that asbestos did not affect them].
 

Toxic Talc

Feb 10, 2020

On February 6, 2020, a jury in New Jersey ordered Johnson & Johnson (J&J) to pay $750 million in punitive damages in a case brought by four mesothelioma victims whose fatal cancers were caused by exposure to the company’s asbestos-contaminated baby powder. It is believed that the amount awarded will be reduced to ~$185 million because of a state cap on damages. At a previous trial, another jury awarded the claimants $37.2 million in compensation. J&J said the company would appeal the verdict. In January, J&J’s CEO Alex Gorsky testified for the first time at a jury trial regarding the alleged contamination of the baby powder. See: Jury orders Johnson & Johnson to pay $750 million in New Jersey talc case.
 

Attack on Asbestos Victims

Feb 10, 2020

A commentary by Emidio de Souza, a former Mayor of the Brazilian town of Osasco and currently a state deputy, has revealed plans by the São Paulo Governor João Doria to close down in May 2020 a facility at the Instituto do Câncer do Estado de São Paulo (São Paulo Cancer Institute) which provides radiotherapy for patients in Osasco, the former center of Brazil’s asbestos-cement industry. Souza says that given the size of the population, many of whom are at high-risk of contracting asbestos-related cancers, the facility should be expanded not disbanded. According to figures cited by Souza, the cancer incidence in Brazil is predicted to rise substantially over the next two decades. See: Doria, com saúde não se brinca [Doria, you can't play with health].
 

Brazil Supreme Court: Delay

Feb 6, 2020

On February 5, 2020, it was learned that a verdict due to be handed down virtually by the Brazilian Supreme Court on February 7, 2020 was being postponed, with no explanation or future date being given. The litigation due to be judged concerned the status of the 2019 law passed by the State of Goiás which allowed the mining and export of chrysotile (white) asbestos to recommence in contravention of a 2017 Brazil Supreme Court decision banning asbestos. At this time, no more information is available regarding this postponement.
 

Asbestos Conviction

Feb 6, 2020

A January 31, 2020 press release issued by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) detailed the conviction of Barry Patchett, trading as BSN Demolition, for contravening Regulations 7(2), 11(1) and 12 of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012. Patchett was sentenced to 12 weeks imprisonment, suspended for one year, and ordered to pay costs of £1,000. Commenting on the case, HSE inspector Stuart Whitesmith said: “Asbestos is not just a problem of the past; it can be present today in any building or industrial process plant built or refurbished before the year 2000. In this case, Mr Patchett failed to follow basic safe working practices required by the Regulations.” See: Employer sentenced for failing to implement safe working practices for the removal of asbestos.
 

Asbestos Denial and Delay

Feb 6, 2020

Just a handful of countries in Latin America have acted on the asbestos hazard; Mexico is not one of them. The latest figures provided by the Mexican Senate regarding asbestos cancer deaths date from 2005 and represent a gross underestimation of the damage done by the asbestos industry to Mexican workers, consumers and members of the public. According to this source, between 1979 and 2005 there were 1,346 deaths from the asbestos cancer, mesothelioma. See: Amianto, enemigo silencioso y mortal [Asbestos, silent and deadly enemy].
 

Asbestos Legacy

Feb 6, 2020

Exposures experienced 20 years ago due to asbestos remediation work at Camp Walker – a U.S. army base in South Korea – have been blamed by veterans for causing serious diseases. Army inspections carried out in 1996 of bases in Korea found asbestos in 200 buildings. According to a report in Stars and Stripes – a U.S. military newspaper – in May 2000: “Experts say dozens of buildings on bases across South Korea might be contaminated with broken pieces of asbestos resulting in crushed, airborne fragments that can be deadly if inhaled.” From 1994 to 2000, cancer sufferer David Sewell worked at the base and was there during the removal operations. See: Army veterans blame health problems on asbestos removal at South Korean base.
 

Testing Toxic Talc

Feb 5, 2020

On February 4, 2020, a hearing was held by the U.S. Federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to examine procedures used for the testing of talc powders and cosmetics for asbestos contamination. The FDA took this action in response to multiple findings of asbestos in Johnson & Johnson baby powder and cosmetic products; this was the first time in 50 years the FDA had investigated asbestos testing standards for these products. Significant recommendations made by members of the expert panel were disputed by industry spokesmen who said they would “would not improve product safety. See: U.S. government experts, industry spar over asbestos testing in talc.
 

Brazilian Asbestos Ban: Update

Feb 5, 2020

On February 7, 2020 the Brazilian Supreme Court will announce its decision regarding the status of the 2019 law passed by the State of Goiás which allowed the mining and export of asbestos to recommence in contravention of a 2017 Supreme Court decision banning asbestos. The decision of the individual judges will only be known once the verdict is handed down “virtually,” with no court appearances scheduled. See: Supremo julgará constitucionalidade da lei que autoriza a extração e exportação de amianto em Goiás [Supreme Court will judge the constitutionality of the law authorizing the extraction and export of asbestos in Goiás].
 

Asbestos in Schools

Feb 5, 2020

An exposé published on February 3, 2020 in Liberation – a daily newspaper in France – revealed that more than 70% of public buildings in Paris contained asbestos. According to information supplied by City Hall, 564 public schools and colleges still contained asbestos; the municipal budget to remediate the educational infrastructure is €1.5 million per year. A spokesperson for a federation representing parents and students confirmed their concern about the asbestos contamination and announced plans to work with local councillors to raise awareness of the issue. See: Amiante: à Paris, deux tiers des écoles et collèges concernés [Asbestos: in Paris, two thirds of the schools and colleges concerned].
 

Protecting Public Health

Feb 5, 2020

A paper published in the current issue of the BOHS journal Annals of Work Exposures and Health examined the public health hazard posed by workers inadvertently taking home toxic substances such as asbestos from their workplaces. Lessons learned from community health initiatives could, the authors, suggested empower workers and advocacy groups to help prevent contamination through participatory involvement when enacting and enforcing legislation; and also when constructing and implementing community-based screening and healthcare programs in order to improve health equity. See: Eliminating Take-Home Exposures: Recognizing the Role of Occupational Health and Safety in Broader Community Health.
 

Asbestos Exposure and Cancer

Feb 4, 2020

An article on the website of the Russian Federal Service for Surveillance on Consumer Rights Protection and Human Wellbeing to mark World Cancer Day highlighted the health hazard posed by asbestos. The text considered lifestyle changes that could reduce the likelihood of cancer and explained the risk posed by genetic factors and environmental hazards. “Among the external factors that provoke the development of tumors,” the authors stated “are ultraviolet and ionizing radiation, chemical carcinogens such as asbestos and components of tobacco smoke, and some infections.” Russia is the world’s largest producer and exporter of chrysotile asbestos. See: Больше спорта, меньше пиццы: как защититься от рака [More sports, less pizza: how to defend yourself against cancer].
 

Bushfire Clean-Up

Feb 4, 2020

As bushfires continue to blaze in some parts of New South Wales (NSW), it was announced that the NSW Government and the Commonwealth would cover the clean-up costs of properties, both domestic and commercial, destroyed by the disaster. Uninsured as well as insured properties would be covered, and local contractors and suppliers would undertake the work needed. As a result of this program, property owners will not have to pay for the removal and disposal of debris, including potentially hazardous materials such as asbestos-containing cement building products which have been widely used throughout the country. See: NSW Government to cover clean-up cost of properties destroyed by bushfires.
 

Replacement of Asbestos-Cement Pipes

Feb 4, 2020

According to Malaysia’s National Water Services Commission, in 2018 there were about 41,560 km of asbestos cement (AC) pipes in the country. The AC pipes, which were installed 60 years ago, pose health risks and have been banned in many countries. Government funds for upgrades to the country’s water delivery system are insufficient to pay for a nationwide pipe replacement program. To address this situation there is a proposal to solicit individual and corporate contributions for this work. If successful, this government-corporation-community collaboration would ensure the replacement of all AC pipes in a more timely and cost-effective manner. See: The Malaysian leaky pipe story.
 

Victim’s Legal Victory

Feb 4, 2020

Factory owners in the Province of Biscay in the north of Spain were ordered by a Bilboa Court to pay compensation of €145,000 to the family of a deceased worker who had been exposed to asbestos whilst employed at the plant between 1984-2010. The former employee, who died in 2017 from pleural mesothelioma, had initially worked at the Bridgestone factory on the repair of steam pipes and later rose to be head of the asbestos remediation department. See: Condenan a Bridgestone por la muerte del encargado de la retirada de amianto [Bridgestone condemned for death of asbestos removal officer].
 

Asbestos in Schools

Feb 4, 2020

On Monday, February 3, 2020, 200 parents and local people attended a briefing on the handling of the asbestos situation at the Newcastle East Public School in New South Wales (NSW), Australia. Parents were outraged that the distribution of incorrect information regarding the hazard posed by the school’s contamination could have endangered the health of their children. Replying to their concerns, NSW Education Minister Sarah Mitchell apologized for her department's handling of the school's asbestos crisis, saying: “I'm not happy with the way this has been handled.” See: Newcastle East Public School parents demand answers about potential asbestos risks to their children.
 

MoD Condemned

Feb 3, 2020

A Labor Court in the southern Italian city of Taranto condemned the Ministry of Defense (MoD) for failing to protect a worker from hazardous exposure to asbestos contained in the insulation of electrical equipment as a result of which he died from the asbestos cancer mesothelioma. The deceased was a civilian electrician who had worked for the Italian Navy from the 1970s to the mid-2000s. The family of the electrician was awarded €500,000 in compensation. See: Taranto, operaio morì di mesotelioma per colpa dell'amianto: 500mila euro agli eredi [Taranto, worker died of mesothelioma due to asbestos: 500 thousand euros to the heirs].
 

Asbestos in Schools

Feb 3, 2020

In the run-up to publishing the state budget for 2020-21, on January 29, 2020 the Governor of Pennsylvania Tom Wolf announced plans to allocate $1 billion for remediation work on schools contaminated with asbestos and lead, saying: “Decades ago, well-intentioned Pennsylvanians constructed our homes, our schools, our water systems, and other structures out of asbestos and lead because we thought they were harmless… Now we know the serious harm both cause.” Schools would be able to access grants through the state’s Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program. See: Gov. Wolf calls for $1 billion to tackle lead and asbestos in schools across Pennsylvania.
 

Toxic Dumpsite

Feb 3, 2020

Contaminated EU garbage dumped at a landfill in Portugal is endangering the health of people in Valongo, a city 175 miles north of Lisbon. The dumping at this site of asbestos-containing building materials is an issue of high concern to people in the parish of Sobrado who live less than 500 meters from the supposedly non-hazardous waste landfill. The low cost of using this facility attracts customers from the Netherlands and the UK; 400 different types of garbage are dumped here on a daily basis. See: Viver no “caixote do lixo” da Europa [Living in Europe's “dustbin”].
 

Asbestos Remediation

Feb 3, 2020

The Government of Jamaica has invested millions of dollars to remediate, upgrade and improve the water supply system in Portland, a parish on the northeastern coast of the island. Multiple projects are being implemented by Rural Water Supply Limited and the National Water Commission which include the installation and repair of water tanks and the replacement of fixtures and pipes, some of which contain asbestos. The old asbestos cement pipes are being replaced with ductile iron pipes. See: Gov’t Upgrading Water Supply Systems in Portland.
 

Corporate Crimes

Feb 3, 2020

The article referenced below, from Anuário Antropológico, a journal of the University of Brasília, discusses experiences of workers and residents in the Brazilian town of Minaçu who were exposed to chrysotile asbestos by the operations of the mining company SA Minerações Associadas (SAMA). The author details social suffering, marginalization and deaths which had ensued and highlights the role played by doctors and other medical professionals linked to SAMA in preventing the injured from accessing compensation or appropriate medical care. See: Sofrimento social entre trabalhadores do amianto e o ocultamento da ocorrência de doenças asbesto-relacionadas na cidade de Minaçu (GO) [Social suffering among asbestos workers and concealing the occurrence of asbestos-related diseases in the city of Minaçu (GO)].
 

Asbestos Exposures in Quebec

Feb 3, 2020

Despite multiple complaints regarding unsafe conditions during renovations in 2018 at the Château Montebello – a historic hotel and resort complex in Montebello, Quebec – timely action was not taken by the authorities to remedy the situation. Instances of asbestos removal carried out by workers wearing t-shirts, were reported by plumbers to their union representative. As a result, contractors and workers as well as hotel residents and staff may have been exposed to asbestos, according to an expose on a Canadian French-language television news program. It took 10 days before complaints made by workers to The Standards, Equity, Health and Safety Commission were addressed. See: Amiante: travailleurs à risque au Château Montebello [Asbestos: workers at risk at Château Montebello].
 

Asbestos and Lung Cancer: Update

Feb 3, 2020

A paper recently published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health reviewed scientific literature about asbestos and lung cancer and re-evaluated peer-reviewed epidemiologic studies. According to the authors, their research yielded new knowledge which provided: “evidence for synergism between asbestos exposure and tobacco smoke in lung cancer causation at a biological level. The evaluated statistical data conform best to a multiplicative model for the interaction effects of asbestos and smoking on the lung cancer risk, with no requirement for asbestosis. Any asbestos exposure, even in a heavy smoker, contributes to causation.” See: Asbestos, Smoking and Lung Cancer: An Update.
 

Uralita: Another Betrayal

Jan 31, 2020

Coemac, the company which took over Uralita – formerly Spain’s biggest asbestos conglomerate – has requested voluntary bankruptcy claiming that the corporation is likely to be overwhelmed by its asbestos liabilities. Although, Coemac has been keen to point out that the bankruptcy request affects only the parent company and not the subsidiary it is trying to sell, it has not spelled out what the process will mean to the thousands of asbestos victims in Spain who were injured by exposure to Uralita products. See: Coemac, la antigua Uralita, solicita el concurso de acreedores [Coemac, the former Uralita, requests bankruptcy].
 

Asbestos in Schools

Jan 31, 2020

A demonstration on Wednesday, January 29, 2020 by parents and students over the continuing hazard posed by asbestos at the Pousa school in Barcelos – a city in the north of Portugal – resulted in a temporary closure of the school. The asbestos saga at this school which has 120 students has been ongoing for 15 years. There are additional problems including leaky roofs, unsanitary conditions and dilapidated structures which have failed to be addressed by the authorities despite multiple promises of action. See: Pais e alunos fecham escola em Barcelos contra o amianto [Parents and students close school in Barcelos due to asbestos].
 

Mesothelioma Treatment: Update

Jan 31, 2020

The National Mesothelioma Audit organisational audit report 2019, which was released on January 21, 2020 by Mesothelioma UK and the Royal College of Physicians “is the first organisational report produced by the National Mesothelioma Audit (NMA).” The report, which examined the current situation in the UK regarding mesothelioma multidisciplinary team (MDT) services, concluded that patients referred to a specialist mesothelioma MDT “were significantly more likely to benefit from access to a mesothelioma-specific clinical nurse specialist and on-site access to mesothelioma clinical trials.” See: National Mesothelioma Audit organisational audit report 2019.
 

Toxic Talc

Jan 28, 2020

On January 27, the CEO of Johnson & Johnson (J&J) Alex Gorsky told a New Jersey jury he had not read all the corporate documents regarding potential asbestos contamination of J&J baby powder. Gorsky was subpoenaed by lawyers representing three men and one woman with mesothelioma who claim that the cause of their illnesses was exposure to asbestos in J&J baby powder. A jury found for the plaintiffs in a liability trial and awarding them $37.2 million. This trial before a new jury is seeking punitive damages to punish J&J’s reckless behaviour. See: Johnson & Johnson CEO testifies he ‘did not read all the documents’ related to potential asbestos in baby powder.
 

Victim’s Verdict Upheld

Jan 29, 2020

The Superior Court of Justice of Navarra upheld the ruling of the lower court – Pamplona’s Social Court No. 3 – which awarded compensation of €347,587.36 to the widow and two children of a 57-year old worker who died in 2017 from lung cancer which had been caused by occupational exposure to asbestos whilst he was employed by the AGNI company of Estella between 1972 and 1979. The BSH company in Estella, which acquired AGNI, was ordered to compensate the family. See: La Justicia estima indemnización de 350.000 euros para la familia de un trabajador fallecido por exposición al amianto [The Justice estimates compensation of 350,000 euros for the family of a deceased worker for exposure to asbestos].
 

Saint Gobain’s Asbestos Legacy

Jan 27, 2020

On January 23, a US affiliate of the French construction group Saint Gobain – formerly an international asbestos conglomerate – filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings in an effort to constrain its asbestos liabilities; it was estimated that the North Carolina company of DBMP LLC was facing 60,000 asbestos claims related to products made or sold by CertainTeed Corp., which last manufactured asbestos containing products in 1992. According to reports: “For Saint-Gobain, the stay of litigation (which results once Chapter 11 is filed) means that all legal costs and indemnity payments related to DBMP’s asbestos claims will be suspended.” See: Saint-Gobain: U.S. affiliate files for Chapter 11 to resolve asbestos liabilities.
 

Asbestos Cancer Mortality

Jan 27, 2020

Researchers in Italy analyzed data on the incidence of malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM) between 1970 and 2014 (28,907 deaths were observed) and estimated the future MPM burden to “help to rationally program interventions devoted to the care of MPM patients, remediation of asbestos-contaminated sites, and compensation for occupational MPMs.” During this period, the number of deaths increased constantly but the researchers expect mortality to peak at ~7000 per annum: “The MPM epidemic in Italy is far from being concluded despite the national ban implemented in 1992, and the peak is expected in 2020–2024, in both sexes.” See: Predictions of Mortality from Pleural Mesothelioma in Italy After the Ban of Asbestos Use.
 

US Mesothelioma Treatment

Jan 24, 2020

There are more cases of malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM) diagnosed in the US every year than in any other country. The authors of this paper examined the experience of seven patients and revealed areas where the medical treatment and support they had received had failed to address their physical and psychological needs. Concerns reported by multiple interviewees included: uncertainty about the future, the high symptom burden and the ability to adapt to their changing situation. The authors concluded that: “Timely, coordinated, and personalized care as well as skilled communication should be the cornerstone of care for persons with MPM.” See: The Lived Experience of Persons With Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma in the United States.
 

Asbestos Industrial Legacy

Jan 24, 2020

On January 18, there was a manifestation of community solidarity when students, teachers, parents and citizens joined representatives of asbestos victims’ groups, trade unions and other associations, to unveil a mural aimed at raising awareness of the legacy of asbestos exposures at the Bologna railway repair shops operated by the Officine Grandi Riparazioni Bologna (OGR). The artwork – which consisted of four colorful panels – was created by students from the De Andrè school and was sited in via Casarini, opposite the former OGR plant. To date, 300 deaths from asbestos-related diseases have been recorded amongst workers from the OGR plant. See: GLI Studenti e l’Amianto in OGR [Students and Asbestos in OGR].
 

Asbestos Film Online

Jan 24, 2020

A 42-minute segment of the 70-minute 2018 documentary entitled “Breathless,” which was made by Belgian film-makers, is now available to watch on a youtube site hosted by DW, the German state-owned public international broadcaster. The film shows the devastating consequences for individuals and communities who worked for or were the located near Eternit asbestos factories. The film, which premiered at the International Film Festival in Brussels on the June 24, has also been shown in London, Liverpool, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Jaipur, Coimbatore, Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Kymore and other locations. See: Breathless.
 

Environmental Asbestos Exposure

Jan 24, 2020

Research by scientists investigating the risks posed by environmental asbestos contamination at sites in the Italian town of Bari substantiated the public health hazard posed by the deterioration of asbestos in situ and the uncontrolled removal of asbestos, both of which were found to raise the concentration of asbestos fibers in urban air. The authors concluded that asbestos roofing at a derelict asbestos-cement factory and on military barracks in Bari had contributed to an increased risk of malignant mesothelioma for the resident population. See: Health impact of exposure to asbestos in polluted area of Southern Italy.
 

Victim’s Verdict in Spain

Jan 24, 2020

A Court in Bilboa has ordered two Spanish companies to pay compensation of ~€325,000 (US$ 360,000) to a subcontractor who was exposed to asbestos whilst in their employ and subsequently contracted the asbestos cancer, mesothelioma. The claimant had been a pipefitter who had worked with asbestos insulation products on the construction of the Lemoniz nuclear power plant (1979-81) and at sites owned by Petronor, a Spanish oil and gas company based in the Basque Country. He did not receive protective clothing nor was he warned about the health hazards posed by occupational exposures to asbestos. See: Nueva condena por enfermedad tras uso de amianto [New conviction for illness after use of asbestos].
 

Asbestos in Schools

Jan 24, 2020

On January 22, 2020, the President of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, Jerry Jordan announced that the union was suing the school district over mismanagement of the asbestos, lead and other problems at the city’s schools. The lawsuit asked a judge to allow the union to hire environmental experts to assess the situation alongside district officials and to ensure that periodic testing was undertaken to monitor environmental safety. So far this year, six schools have been closed in Philadelphia due to the discovery of asbestos. Commenting on the failure of the authorities to adequately address the situation, a union lawyer said that: “The school district of Philadelphia is violating the law.” See: ‘We are not crying wolf’: Philly teachers union to sue district over asbestos, other hazards.
 

Asbestos Trial Begins

Jan 24, 2020

The preliminary hearing for Eternit Bis [the name used to refer to litigation against Swiss billionaire Stephen Schmidheiny in the long-running legal battle to get justice for Italian asbestos victims] has begun in the Northern Italian city of Vercelli. Schmidheiny is charged with the voluntary murder of 392 people from the town of Casale Monferrato. During early sessions of the proceedings, Schmidheiny’s defense reasserted their argument that the trial was illegitimate on the “ne bis in idem principle” which restricts the possibility of a defendant being prosecuted repeatedly for the same crime. See: Eternit bis: la difesa chiede l’assoluzione [Eternit bis: the defense asks for absolution].
 

Asbestos: Post-Disaster Hazard

Jan 22, 2020

The Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency of Australia has uploaded a series of information sheets from various States, government agencies and departments aimed at informing people in communities affected by the bushfire crisis how to deal with asbestos in building debris and damaged premises. The problem is both serious and widespread given the deadly consequences to human health of asbestos exposures and the widespread use of asbestos building products throughout Australia. Although asbestos use was banned in 2003, huge numbers of homes, public buildings and business premises still contain asbestos materials. See: Asbestos safety after bushfires.
 

Asbestos: Post-Conflagration Hazard

Jan 22, 2020

A newspaper report on testimony given on January 21, 2020 to the French Senate’s hearings about the 2019 fire at the Lubrizol chemical factory – owned by American billionaire Warren Buffett – featured evidence by scientist André Picot supporting public fears that the fire in Rouen had contaminated local neighborhoods, thereby putting at risk the health of local people as well as firefighters. Picot said: “A rain of asbestos dust fell.” Picot’s views contradicted those of the local authorities who had said that there were no asbestos fibers in the air. See: Incendie de Lubrizol: « Il est retombé une pluie de poussière d’amiante » [Lubrizol fire: “A rain of asbestos dust fell”].
 

Asbestos in Schools

Jan 22, 2020

On Tuesday, January 21, 2020, parents, students and teachers of the Mário de Sá Carneiro School in the Portuguese city of Loures held a public demonstration to highlight the failure of the educational and local authorities to remediate the dangerous and degrading asbestos-containing material which remained in the school. “It is necessary,” said André Julião, of the Schools Without Asbestos Movement, “once and for all, to create a strategic plan for the removal of asbestos from schools and [also necessary to] start investing seriously in updating the premises….” See: Protesto contra amianto em escola de Camarate [Asbestos protest at Camarate school].
 

Eternit Embraces Asbestos-Free Future

Jan 22, 2020

Eternit S.A., formerly Brazil’s largest asbestos conglomerate, is positioning itself as a frontrunner in the campaign for a clean and sustainable environment with its announcement of new photovoltaic roofing tile material – which is asbestos-free. According to the company, this product range is an example of a new corporate orientation to use cutting edge technology to find 21st century solutions to meet the needs of Brazilian citizens. See: Eternit Solar | Programa Cidades e Soluções da GloboNews [Eternit Solar | Globo News Cities and Solutions Program].
 

Occupational Asbestos Exposure Risks

Jan 20, 2020

Data on asbestos-related diseases is extremely limited in Indonesia, a country where asbestos-containing products remain a popular choice for consumers. A collaborative study by Indonesian and international researchers investigated the risk of contracting lung cancer from occupational exposure to asbestos and found a “significant association between the duration of asbestos exposure... and the risk of lung cancer.” The co-authors of this paper also found a “positive additive and multiplicative interaction between smoking and asbestos [exposure]...[and] that the chance of getting lung cancer more than doubled among exposed subjects compared with unexposed subjects.” See: Asbestos-Related Lung Cancer: A Hospital-Based Case-Control Study in Indonesia.
 

Our Hometown: Asbest

Jan 20, 2020

A Russian website has translated and uploaded a Danish article analysing the attraction of living in the Russian town of Asbest (Asbestos). Despite the fact that asbestos is a carcinogen responsible for thousands of deaths every year, local people still have strong ties to the city and a desire to follow family members into the asbestos industry. The reporter quoted spokesmen who said the city was a “victim of the hysterical anti-asbestos lobby… In Asbest, it is widely believed that the asbestos ban is part of an international conspiracy invented in Europe to give an advantage to the production of other materials competing with asbestos.” See: Jyllands-Posten (Дания): здесь люди живут благодаря асбесту [Jyllands-Posten (Denmark): people live here thanks to asbestos].
 

Toxic Talc

Jan 20, 2020

Advice from an expert panel convened by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have, according to one legal expert: “shot several of J&J’s (Johnson & Johnson’s) defenses out of the water.” The panel endorsed asbestos testing standards for cosmetics that recommended that small mineral particles found in talc should be counted as potentially harmful, even if they were not asbestos, on the grounds that both were suspected of causing similar pathological reactions. The new recommendations will be discussed in February at the first FDA hearing on analytical methods for testing asbestos in cosmetics and talc since 1971. See: Government experts urge new talc testing standards amid asbestos worries.
 

Asbestos Compensation Scheme

Jan 20, 2020

With 40,000 asbestos deaths in Spain to date, people living with these diseases have routinely been denied compensation via a hostile legal climate. Calls by a number of groups representing the victims have highlighted the vacuum which exists and demanded that a national compensation scheme be established to expedite compensation for the injured, many of whom were routinely exposed to asbestos at work by companies such as Uralita, formerly Spain’s largest asbestos-cement manufacturer. It has been estimated that 1,900 people die from asbestos-related diseases in Spain every year. See: Las víctimas del amianto luchan contra la burocracia que frena sus compensaciones [Asbestos victims fight the bureaucracy that stops their compensation].
 

Russian Cancer Epidemic

Jan 17, 2020

An article uploaded to the website of the Moscow Post on January 14, 2020, highlighted the deplorable living and working conditions for the population of the Russian asbestos mining town “Asbestos,” saying: “there are no healthy children in the city… [and], there are a lot of cancer patients.” In 2012, the cancer incidence in the city at 493 cases per 100,000 people was the highest in the Sverdlovsk Region; in 2015, this figure had risen to 572 and there was a mortality rate of 292 cases per 100,000 – the average regional rate was 218. See: “Дорожная карта” Шмотьева в “обход” закона? [“Shmotiev's Roadmap” to “circumvent” the law?].
 

Asbestos in Children’s Products

Jan 17, 2020

A laboratory analysis of eye shadow contained in a children’s make-up kit sold under the brand name Princess Girl’s All-in-One Deluxe Makeup Palette found more than 4 million asbestos fiber structures per gram. The tests were commissioned by the Washington D.C. based non-profit organization: Environmental Working Group (EWG). Commenting on these findings, an EWG spokesperson called on all US retailers including online outlets to recall these products and said: “Taking steps to safeguard children from exposure to one of the deadliest carcinogens in the world should always come before profits.” See: Alert: Tests Find High Levels of Asbestos in Children’s Makeup Kits.
 

Asbestos Workplace Hazard

Jan 17, 2020

Tests conducted on 148 workers, former and retired workers from a factory in Bogotá, Colombia which used chrysotile asbestos in the manufacture of friction products, revealed that 19 had changes in their X-rays consistent with exposure to asbestos; in most of those examined, pulmonary function had not altered. Most of the workers who developed disease did so within 20 years of their first exposure. The researchers concluded that asbestos disease was “clearly present among Colombian factory workers…” See: Radiographic Changes in Colombian Asbestos Factory Workers.
 

Asbestos in Schools

Jan 17, 2020

A citizens’ lobbying group – Movimento Escolas Sem Amianto (MESA) [Schools Without Asbestos] – set up in Portugal at the end of 2019 has identified 102 schools contaminated with asbestos. The group is calling for action to protect the health of both students and staff as part of a phased program which (1) prioritizes work on friable or degrading asbestos-containing products and (2) is accomplished through the use of state-of-the-art equipment and according to the highest safety protocols. Complaints made by MESA to the General Directorate of School Establishments have, to date, received no response. See: 102 schools with asbestos structures documented.
 

Bushfire Crisis & Asbestos

Jan 16, 2020

This week Australia’s Master Builders Association (MBA) raised concerns about the threat posed by asbestos liberated by bushfires in New South Wales and Victoria with Prime Minister Scott Morrison during round-table discussions. MBA’s main preoccupation was ensuring that people were provided with appropriate safety information in order to minimize hazardous exposures during clean-up operations. MBA chief executive Denita Wawn said: “Our concern is making sure that if people are doing their own clearing, they are taking appropriate asbestos safety precautions [and]… that people in those locations are made aware of those risks when they start to do their site clearance.” See: Bushfires: communities face asbestos threat as clean-up begins.
 

Nakuru City to Remove Asbestos Roofs

Jan 16, 2020

Local authorities in Nakuru – a major city in Kenya, northwest of Nairobi – have begun a remediation program to remove asbestos roofing due to concerns over the hazard it posed to public health. At a recent press conference, County Public Health Officer Samuel King’ori reaffirmed the risk of asbestos exposures and announced that work would be undertaken first on public buildings such as hospitals and afterwards on residential buildings. King’ori confirmed that material removed would be treated as hazardous and be dealt with according to guidelines set by the National Environmental Management Authority. See: Nakuru County Set To Get Rid Of Asbestos Roofs.
 

Asbestos Charity Faces Funding Crisis

Jan 13, 2020

Glasgow City Council has turned down an application from the renowned charity Action on Asbestos – formerly called Clydeside Action on Asbestos – due to an administrative error. Once this mistake was spotted, the charity sent the appropriate document to the Council and resubmitted the application but by then the decision had been made. The £50,000 grant which had been awarded in previous years had been the only source of public funding for this organization which had supported asbestos victims not only in Glasgow but throughout Scotland for over thirty years. See: Glasgow asbestos charity fears for future after council refuses to consider its funding application.
 

Behind Closed Doors

Jan 10, 2020

The Supreme Court of Brazil (STF) has announced that it will issue a decision regarding the constitutionality of a law adopted by the State of Goiás which, contrary to a STF 2017 ruling banning asbestos, allowed asbestos to be mined, processed, sold and exported from the SAMA chrysotile asbestos mine in Goiás. Despite the life and death issues involved, the STF’s Minister Alexandre de Moraes has scheduled proceedings to be virtual with no oral submissions. The decision of the court will not be announced in public but will be available only once the decision is published. See: vai julgar virtualmente lei goiana para proteger indústria [STF will judge Goiás law virtually to protect asbestos industry].
 

Asbestos Outreach Workshop

Jan 10, 2020

On January 8, 2020 a workshop entitled “The Environment and Health: Toxicity of Chrysotile (Asbestos) in Fibro Cement Roofing” was held at the Institute of Natural Resources, Environment and Community Development in Hanoi. The objective of this event was to provide updated and independent information regarding the hazard posed by the use of asbestos – a substance not yet banned in Vietnam – to inform the national asbestos dialogue and help progress ongoing efforts to implement a national asbestos ban. Although Vietnam has developed a roadmap to cease asbestos use by 2023, lobbyists are trying to derail efforts to protect the population from avoidable toxic exposures. See: Bàn giải pháp ngừng sử dụng Amiăng trắng ở Việt Nam [Table of solutions to stop using chrysotile in Vietnam].
 

Asbestos Odyssey in India

Jan 10, 2020

An online article describes the decades-long campaign by activist Raghunath Manwar to support workers in India, in particular those injured by occupational exposures to asbestos. Through his work establishing the NGO Occupational Health and Safety Association, the septuagenarian raised awareness regarding exposure to workplace toxins and assisted those affected to claim compensation and access medical care. In this quest for justice, Manwar confronted government bodies, powerful corporations and vested interests pursuing restitution via the courts as well as media outlets. See: Asbestos Poisoning: Raghunath Manwar’s Fight for Safer Work Conditions.
 

Searching for an Asbestos-free future

Jan 10, 2020

On January 9, 2020, a public meeting organized by a municipal council took place to consider proposals to change the name of an infamous mining town which has, for decades, been known by the name of the substance it produced: “Asbestos.” According to an article published this week, even Bernard Coulombe – who had worked at the Jeffrey Asbestos Mine for 40+ years and was extremely vocal in the pro-asbestos lobby – has accepted the need to change the town’s name to build a more positive future for residents. See: Asbestos: assemblée publique jeudi soir sur le changement de nom de la ville [Asbestos: public meeting Thursday evening on the name change of the city].
 

Corporate Betrayal of Workers

Jan 10, 2020

The text referenced below is a commentary on recent revelations regarding the corruption of medical ethics by people employed by or with links to the Brazilian asbestos mining company SAMA, a subsidiary of the Eternit Group. The author highlights how SAMA doctors discredited reports from independent doctors who had diagnosed SAMA workers with asbestos-related diseases. Controversial practices of SAMA medical board members – physicians Mario Terra Filho, Luiz Eduardo Nery and Ericson Bagatin – were also discussed including the board’s nearly universal failure to accept asbestos exposure as the cause of any occupational illness. See: O que a indústria do amianto tenta esconder [What the asbestos industry tries to hide].
 

Calls for National Compensation Scheme

Jan 10, 2020

On January 6, 2020, members of asbestos victims’ associations from Bilbao, Valencia and Catalonia held a public rally in Bilbao calling for the establishment of a Spanish asbestos compensation scheme. Current procedures, which involved protracted legal battles for dying victims, were shameful said spokesperson José Luis Gómez Gomez, Vice President of the Association of Asbestos Victims of Catalonia. The campaigners cited the national compensation funds in France, Belgium and the Netherlands as examples which Spain could follow. See: Las víctimas del amianto reclaman una ley contra el ‘genocidio laboral’ [Asbestos victims call for a law against ‘labor genocide’].
 

Company Doctors Accused

Jan 7, 2019

An exposé of medical doctors and researchers linked to the Brazilian asbestos mining company SAMA, a subsidiary of the Eternit Group, detailed a litany of wrongdoings including: incorrect diagnoses, malpractice and biased research. According to the article, the accused’s objectives were to bolster the official position of SAMA which denied that occupational or environmental exposure to asbestos could cause disease. Illnesses contracted by SAMA workers were routinely found to be caused by smoking or drinking and not be exposure to asbestos; the results of medical tests provided by SAMA were retained by the company. See: Doutores da Morte [Doctors of Death].
 

Asbestos in Public Buildings

Jan 7, 2020

The commitment of the Portuguese government to remediate asbestos from 134 priority 1 public buildings was disputed by Congressman Nelson Peralta in his questioning of Minister Mário Centeno, Portugal’s Minister of Finance, whose ministry is now responsible for ensuring that schools, hospitals and other public buildings were decontaminated. This brief had previously been the responsibility of the Ministry of the Environment and Peralta questioned the reasons for the change: “There is concern that the priority and urgency of the resolution will be budgetary criteria and not public health criteria,” the Congressman asserted. See: BE questiona Ministro das Finanças sobre remoção de amianto em edifícios públicos [BE questions Finance Minister about asbestos removal in public buildings].
 

National Asbestos Compensation Fund

Jan 7, 2020

Data substantiating an asbestos epidemic in Spain have led to calls for the Spanish Government to progress legislation – approved in 2017 – to create a national fund to compensate victims of asbestos-related diseases. A study by the Basque Institute of Occupational Health and Safety predicted that there would be a thousand individuals annually contracting illnesses, including debilitating as well as fatal diseases, as a result of asbestos exposures in the coming years. Currently, access to compensation for these diseases can only be obtained as a result of protracted litigation. See: El amianto se cobra la vida de 30 trabajadores en 2019 [Asbestos takes the lives of 30 workers in 2019].
 

New Year, Old Lies

Jan 6, 2020

One of the top features on a Russian website on January 5, rehashed propaganda supporting the continued use of chrysotile (white) asbestos, asserting that despite being banned in 63 countries, asbestos could be safely used under controlled conditions. Asbestos was, the author asserted, Donald Trump's “favorite stone” and “the current US President… actively advocates for its defense.” Citing multiple examples of historical asbestos use, the author noted that “mass hysteria” in America over asbestos had been a gold mine for lawyers and asbestos removal firms even though “Russian scientists unanimously reiterate that, subject to safety measures, asbestos is an extremely useful mineral.” See: ЛЮБИМЫЙ КАМЕНЬ ДОНАЛЬДА ТРАМПА [Donald Trump's favorite stone].
 

Asbestos Outlawed in Schools

Jan 6, 2020

According to the Kerala State Commission for Protection of Child Rights no building in which children study including madrasas, religious schools, private and state schools should have asbestos roofs. Should they have this type of roofing, local self-government departments had been told not to refuse to issue licences or building numbers and to take action against them under the Kerala Panchayat Raj Act and the Kerala Municipalities Act. The Commission’s recommendations were made in response to a case regarding an asbestos roof at a madrasa. The school authorities had been given 45 days to complete the removal and replacement of the toxic roofing. See: No asbestos roof for places where children study: panel.
 

Toxic Talc

Jan 6, 2020

On January 2, 2020, a lawsuit was announced by Hector Balderas, the attorney general of New Mexico, against Johnson & Johnson (J&J) which alleged that J&J targeted minority women and children despite being aware of the risks posed by asbestos contamination of its baby powder and other talc-based products. According to Balderas, J&J: “concealed and failed to warn consumers about the dangers associated with their talc products.” In a J&J statement, the company said it was reviewing the lawsuit and would “continue to defend the safety of Johnson’s Baby Powder, which is supported by decades of scientific evidence showing our talc is safe and free of asbestos.” See: Johnson & Johnson Sued Over Baby Powder by New Mexico.
 

Asbestos at the Olympics

Jan 6, 2020

News that asbestos contamination had been found at the Tatsumi Water Polo Center – a venue which will be used for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics – was widely reported throughout the last week of 2019. Although the asbestos problem had been identified in 2017, the building’s owners, the Tokyo Metropolitan government, had failed to take remedial action, claiming that “there was a low degree of danger.” On December 25, however, it was announced that the situation would be addressed in order to prevent environmental contamination that might endanger spectators. See: Tokyo officials finally tackle asbestos hazard at Olympic venue.
 

Asbestos Alert!

Jan 6, 2020

An article on a website in Kazakhstan – the world’s second largest exporter of chrysotile (white) asbestos – which was uploaded on December 30, 2019 highlighted the human health risks posed by exposure to asbestos-containing products such as roofing material popular throughout the country; a picture of asbestos roofing illustrated the feature. The article quoted a leading Russian oncologist who had recently spoken out about the proven link between lung cancer and asbestos exposure. See: Вещь, которая есть в каждом доме и вызывает рак [The thing that is in every home and causes cancer].
 

Asbestos Hazard

Jan 6, 2020

According to Turkey’s Chamber of Geological Engineers, exposure to asbestos poses a serious risk to public health despite the introduction of the 2010 asbestos ban. The hazard comes not only from asbestos products within the infrastructure but also from the new use of contaminated material in the construction, textile, aviation and automotive sectors. The uncontrolled demolition of asbestos-containing buildings has exacerbated the problem with one expert warning: “Many residential areas are built on asbestos soil, tens of thousands of people are still in contact with asbestos and we will see more cancer cases in years to come for as long as this continues.” See: Asbestos continues to threaten public health in Turkey.
 

Asian Development Bank

Dec 19, 2019

One of the most important financial providers in the Pacific region – the Asian Development Bank (ADB) – has been criticized by trade union campaigners for endangering public and occupational health by its failure to ban the use of asbestos-containing products for the projects it finances. The ADB’s Prohibited Investment Activities Policy allows ADB project contractors to use materials that contain asbestos – such as asbestos sheeting – even though the policy has a clause stating: “the production, trade and use of raw asbestos is prohibited.” See: Asian Development Bank called out for asbestos use in Pacific projects.
 

Asbestos in Schools

Dec 19, 2019

On December 19, the European Commission will receive a complaint from the Federação Nacional dos Professores (the Teachers Federation of Portugal) which is supported by groups including environmental associations and the Asbestos-Free Schools Movement regarding the “inaction,” “the lack of rigor and interest of the Portuguese State in this public health problem” and “errors in the transposition of the Community norms (2009 directive) in relation to the hazard posed by asbestos contamination of Portuguese schools and other public building. See: Amianto nas escolas: Comissão Europeia recebe queixa da Fenprof esta quinta-feira [Asbestos in schools: European Commission receives complaint from Fenprof this Thursday].
 

Asbestos Update: São Paulo

Dec 19, 2019

The Brazilian Association of the Asbestos-Exposed (ABREA), which collaborated with healthcare and medical partners on a remarkable initiative in Minas Gerais (see: Landmark Asbestos Initiative in Brazil) in September 2019, this week visited the Barretos Cancer Hospital in São Paulo State to learn about diagnostic protocols and treatment options for asbestos cancer patients and to talk to staff about the results of medical tests performed on former asbestos workers from the Precon company in Minas Gerais. See: Abrea visita Hospital do Câncer de Barretos [ABREA visits the Barretos Cancer Hospital].
 

Asbestos Cancer in Argentina

Dec 19, 2019

Researchers undertook a study of 40 individuals in Argentina who had been diagnosed with the asbestos cancer, mesothelioma in 2013 and 2014 to identify the sources and types of asbestos exposures they had experienced. Their findings included the following: the average age of the patients was 66 years; 55% of the cohort was male; toxic exposures were: 57.5% environmental, 60% domestic and 37% occupational; 7.5% of the cohort denied all asbestos exposure; more than half the male patients had experienced workplace exposures. See: Exposición al asbesto en casos de mesotelioma pleural en la República Argentina [Asbestos exposure in cases of pleural mesothelioma in the Argentine Republic].
 

J’Accuse!

Dec 17, 2019

In a December 13 ruling, the Marseille administrative Court of Appeal recognized the negligence of the State for failing to mandate adequate controls, as a result of which a shipyard employee had developed anxiety over workplace asbestos exposure. The plaintiff, who received damages of €4,000, had worked at the Ciotat shipyard from 1964 to 1987. In the verdict, the court noted: “The employees of the Normed company remained exposed for the period 1969-1980 to asbestos dust without benefiting from suitable protections or receiving information concerning the dangers of this material.” See: Amiante: l'Etat reconnu coupable pour absence de contrôle d'un chantier naval [Asbestos: the French State found guilty for lack of control of a shipyard].
 

University’s Asbestos Legacy

Dec 17, 2019

The failure of the University of Montreal (UoM) to protect employees from occupational exposures to asbestos has been blamed by Joël Corbin-Charland, the son of a deceased UoM programmer, for the death of his parent from mesothelioma, aged 73. According to him, the University has delivered a skewed version of the facts in its public statements, claiming it had taken the issue of asbestos “very seriously for several years.” In fact, the UoM’s policy on asbestos was adopted in 1998. Two other former UoM employees have also developed mesothelioma. See: Possible exposition à l'amiante: d’ex-employés de l'UdeM s'inquiètent pour leur santé [Possible exposure to asbestos: former UdeM employees worry about their health].
 

Bahia Asbestos Training Initiative

Dec 17, 2019

The latest initiative by experts from Southwest Bahia State University (UESB) to address the hazards posed by the asbestos legacy in the Brazilian cities of Bom Jesus da Serra and Poções was a collaborative effort with AVICAFE (the Association of Asbestos-Contaminated Victims and Exposed Families) and partnering organizations. The program included training in São Paulo for Bahia doctors in spirometry, pulmonary function and other clinical tests for individuals at high risk of contracting asbestos-related diseases. Spirometry equipment was donated to the UESB to facilitate testing of asbestos-exposed people in Bahia. See: A UESB inicia pesquisa em Bom Jesus da Serra [UESB begins research in Bom Jesus da Serra.].
 

Eradicating the Asbestos Hazard

Dec 17, 2019

The Government of Portugal has made provision in its draft budget for 2020 for measures to progress the eradication of asbestos from the national infrastructure, by providing up to 100% of the costs for asbestos removal work in the 134 public buildings classified as Priority 1; many schools are included in this category. Remediation of Priority 2 buildings could be 80% funded while decontamination work of Priority 3 structures could qualify for up to 70% of financing. See: Remoção de amianto pode ser financiada até 100 por cento [Asbestos Removal Can Be Funded Up To 100 Percent].
 

Asbestos in Metro: Workers Rally

Dec 17, 2019

On December 16, the committee representing workers from the Madrid Metro company convened a public rally in Plaza de Castilla – in front of the Madrid Court – to demand solutions to the “serious problem” of asbestos in the Madrid subway system. As of now, four cases of asbestos-related diseases have been registered by workers from this company which were allegedly caused by workplace exposures to asbestos; two of the claimants have died. See: Comité de Metro Madrid convoca concentración para pedir solución al Amianto [Metro Madrid Committee summons concentration to request asbestos solution].
 

Asbestos Documentary: Top Prize

Dec 16, 2019

Last weekend, a documentary entitled: “Chrysotile causes cancer in humans” by VTV 1 – the first channel launched by Vietnam Television in 1970 – won the top award at the government backed 39th National Film and TV Awards for best TV/Film documentary. The film featured interviews with ban asbestos campaigners including leaders of the Vietnam Ban Asbestos Network as well as as with asbestos industry representatives. Following the broadcast, film-maker Mr Pham Xuan Hung had been attacked by the industry lobby which is pressurizing the government to forestall planned action on the asbestos hazard. See: Phim tài liệu khoa học: Amiang trắng và sự lựa chọn [Scientific documentary: White asbestos and the choice].
 

Building Medical Capacity

Dec 16, 2019

International partners working with local institutions in Fiji held a medical workshop on asbestos-related diseases (ARDs) on December 2 & 3, 2019 at Fiji National University. The training sessions were delivered by the Asbestos Diseases Research Institute (ADRI) in association with the World Health Organization (WHO), Country Office of Fiji. The objective of this event was to improve the diagnosis and management of ARDs and to promote the implementation of a Fiji roadmap for the elimination of asbestos and ARD. See: Training Workshop on the Diagnosis of Asbestos-related Diseases (ARD’s) – Suva, Fiji 2-3 December 2019 and In-depth training session on pathological diagnosis of Mesothelioma.
 

MoD Asbestos Scandal

Dec 16, 2019

The British trade union “Unite” issued a strong condemnation of negligence by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) which resulted in thousands of civilian staff and members of the military being exposed to asbestos contained in parts used in Sea King helicopters and elsewhere throughout the MoD. In correspondence to Unite, the defence minister Annabel Goldie wrote: “Regrettably, this work exposed failings beyond Sea King, and it is now clear that ACM (asbestos-containing materials) have not been properly identified and tracked across a range of equipment platforms.” See: MoD faces criticism as it admits widespread asbestos failings.
 

Toxic Legacy: Asbestos Roadways

Dec 16, 2019

On December 20, a Quebec public hearing on asbestos was told that the Quebec Department of Transport had, between 1988 and 2011, laid more than 1.3 million tonnes of roadway containing asbestos. Because of mandatory environmental and health measures for dealing with this product, the removal of the affected bitumen would cost up to 60 times more than conventional bitumen. More than 1,000 km of national roads and highways still contain asbestos, especially in Chaudière-Appalaches and in the Eastern Townships. See: BAPE: le coût faramineux des routes d'amiante [BAPE: the staggering cost of asbestos roads].
 

Chrysotile Asbestos: Killer Fiber

Dec 16, 2019

A feature article commenting on a report by Reuters into the toxic talc scandal over asbestos found in Johnson & Johnson baby powder included statements from Vietnamese experts indicting all asbestos, including chrysotile (white) asbestos, as carcinogenic. The experts interviewed were Assoc. Prof. Dr. Tran Hong Con from Hanoi University of Natural Sciences and Prof. Dr. Nguyen Ba Duc, former Director of K Hospital, Vice Chairman of the Vietnam Cancer Society, who highlighted the hazard posed by the continuing use of asbestos-containing roofing sheets in Vietnam. See: Amiăng thuộc nhóm một các chất gây ung thư cho người [Asbestos belongs to a group of carcinogens for humans].
 

Addressing Brazil’s Mining Legacy

Dec 12, 2019

A fact-finding mission to Bom Jesus da Serra in the Brazilian State of Bahia was undertaken by personnel from the UESB medical school as part of an initiative to address the consequences of living in a former asbestos mining area. According to co-organizer UESB Professor Thaís Brito, the effectiveness of the program is reliant on efforts with partnering institutions including: the Heart Institute, the University of São Paulo School of Medicine Hospital das Clínicas and groups such as: the Brazilian Association of the Asbestos Exposed (ABREA) and the Association of Asbestos-Contaminated Victims and Exposed Families. See: Uesb traça estratégias de enfrentamento à exposição ao Amianto [UESB outlines strategies for coping with asbestos exposure].
 

Asbestos in the Subway

Dec 12, 2019

Spain’s National Institute of Social Security (INSS) has for the first time recognized a case of occupational disease due to exposure to asbestos of a retired worker now suffering from lung cancer who had been employed for 32 years by the Barcelona Metro company. The claimant had worked in the subway tunnels without any protection whilst he drilled asbestos-containing sheeting; this is one of 8 pending INSS cases for occupational asbestos exposures against this company. It was only in 2018, that the Barcelona Metro admitted that asbestos had been present in the subway system. See: Primer caso reconocido de enfermedad por el amianto en el metro de Barcelona [First recognized case of asbestos disease in the Barcelona metro].
 

Brazil’s Illegal Asbestos Shipments

Dec 11, 2019

Despite a national ban on asbestos, trucks carrying asbestos fiber have been leaving a Brazilian mine in Minaçu, North Goiás since December 6, 2019 destined for the port of Belém do Pará, 1645 kilometers away. According Fernanda Giannasi, co-founder of the Brazilian Association of Asbestos Exposed, the mining and transport companies are flouting Brazilian law. “The resumption of the asbestos trade,” she said, “is an affront to the country's Supreme Court and a threat to the health and life of the Brazilian population.” See: Fernanda Giannasi: Mineradora Sama e transportadoras insistem em afrontar o STF que baniu o amianto no Brasil [Fernanda Giannasi: Mining company and transporters insist on flouting STF asbestos ban].
 

Mesothelioma Hotspots

Dec 11, 2019

Researchers have confirmed the deadly health consequences for people in Lombardy Province of exposure to asbestos liberated during the manufacturing operations of an Italian factory producing asbestos-cement building materials. The plant in question was located in Pavia and was owned by the Fibronit company; it was operational between 1932 and 1993. Research has established that the incidence of malignant mesothelioma was elevated in Broni and Stradella in former workers, their families, and members of the public. See: Impact of an asbestos cement factory on mesothelioma incidence in a community in Italy.
 

Asbestos Hot Potato

Dec 11, 2019

A response was received on November 20, 2019 from Deputy Admiral Chief of Staff Eduardo Machado Vazquez to a letter sent on September 26, 2019 by an international consortium of NGOs which raised concerns regarding the proposed public auction of the aircraft carrier São Paulo. Nothing written in the two-page response from Vazquez precluded the sale of the São Paulo to a ship-breaking company which would scrap the vessel at a South Asian beaching yard where health and safety regulations were non-existent and exposures to toxic chemicals, including asbestos, routine. See: Letter from Deputy Admiral Chief of Staff Eduardo Machado Vazquez (in Portuguese).
 

Criminal Case Launched

Dec 11, 2019

On November 15, 2019, the first criminal complaint in the Netherlands against the asbestos company Eternit was begun. The action, which was brought by the Asbestos Victims Committee (CAS) and six surviving relatives of asbestos victims, alleged that the company had been guilty of manslaughter as it had been aware since 1960 of the health risks posed by asbestos exposures and yet had done nothing to protect employees from the hazards. Despite this knowledge, the company continued to produce asbestos products and lobbied to prevent an asbestos ban being implemented in the Netherlands. See: Comité Asbestslachtoffers doet aangifte tegen Eternit [Asbestos Victims Committee reports Eternit].
 

Outreach Asbestos Initiative

Dec 10, 2019

On December 2 and 3, 2019, a workshop on asbestos-related diseases was held in Suva, the capital of Fiji, by the College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences, Fiji National University in collaboration with Australia’s Asbestos Diseases Research Institute (ADRI) and the Fiji office of the World Health Organization. The objective of this event was to share medical expertise in order to build local capacity to detect, diagnose and treat cases of asbestos-related disease in Fiji. On the agenda were presentations on: clinical treatment, victim support, epidemiology, pathological diagnosis, radiology, medicine, molecular biology, public health and nursing. See: Training Workshop on the Diagnosis of Asbestos-related Diseases (ARD’s) – Suva, Fiji 2-3 December 2019.
 

Asbestos Raid

Dec 10, 2019

The authorities in the United Arab Emirate of Ras Al Khaumah (RAK) launched a campaign on December 8, 2019 to outlaw and confiscate all tea and coffee flasks in retail outlets and markets that contained asbestos following similar action taken in Dubai by the Department of Economic Development. Commenting on this initiative Dr Abdulrahman Alshayeb Alnaqbi, director-general of the RAK department of economic development, said: “These flasks pose a grave risk to people's health.” Similar steps were taken in RAK in July 2019 when: “Large amounts of such flasks were seized and later destroyed.” See: RAK to seize tea, coffee flasks made of asbestos.
 

Asbestos Concerns in Quebec

Dec 10, 2019

During the week ending December 6, 2019, two of the eight hearings scheduled by the BAPE Asbestos Inquiry Commission in Quebec were attended by hundreds of local people, politicians and experts from the former asbestos mining towns of Asbestos and Thetford Mines, Quebec. The main issue on the agenda was whether the 800 million tonnes of asbestos waste from decades of mining operations could be commercially exploited without endangering the health of workers and local people. The final report on the consultations is due out in July 2020. See: Despite health and safety risks, many in Asbestos and Thetford Mines want asbestos waste repurposed.
 

Legal Victory for Victims

Dec 10, 2019

On November 11, 2019, the Fukuoka High Court ordered the government and 4 construction material manufacturers to pay compensation of ¥350 million (~US$3.22m) to former construction workers and bereaved relatives from the Kyushu region for health problems caused by occupational exposures to asbestos. Judge Noriyuki Yamanouchi ruled that the government and the four companies had negligently failed to implement measures to protect workers’ safety. In addition, the judge upheld actions brought by self-employed contractors and ordered the government to compensate 27 of the 28 claimants and the companies to compensate 26. See: Fukuoka court orders Japan and firms to pay ¥350 million for health problems due to asbestos.
 

Asbestos Legal Landmark

Dec 10, 2019

At the beginning of November, 2019 a landmark ruling was handed down by the Provincial Court of Madrid which recognized the right to receive compensation for injuries caused by exposure to asbestos brought home on the work clothes of family members. The 14 plaintiffs, who were from Cerdanyola del Vallès and Ripollet, Catalonia, or surviving family members were awarded €3.5 million (~US$3.9m) for contracting asbestos diseases due to the negligence of Uralita. This is the largest sum awarded against Uralita by any Spanish court. See: Uralita deberá indemnizar con 3,5 millones a 14 vecinos de Cerdanyola y Ripollet [Uralita must compensate with 3.5 million 14 residents of Cerdanyola and Ripollet].
 

Toxic Talc

Dec 9, 2019

A Reuter’s exposé detailed the ties between US officials and executives from talc-using companies. The article focused on an invitation-only 2018 meeting organized by the Federal Drugs Administration (FDA), entitled: “Asbestos in Talc Symposium”, which was addressed by industry experts and attended by industry personnel; requests to attend from non-industry personnel such as medical expert Dr. David Egilman, were rejected. For decades, the FDA – advised by the industry – had refused to test talc-containing products for asbestos. Finally, the FDA acted in 2019 as a result of which 33,000 containers of Johnson & Johnson baby powder were recalled. See: FDA bowed to industry for decades as alarms were sounded over talc.
 

Asbestos Hearing

Dec 9, 2019

On December 4, 2019, a public hearing on asbestos was held by the Health and Environment Commission of the Brazilian State of Rio Grande do Sul to consider the toxic legacy of asbestos mining and use in Brazil. Experts who gave evidence to the meeting convened by Deputy Valdeci Oliveira included: Dr. Carlos Nunes, Adair da Rocha, President of the Rio Grande do Sul section of the Brazilian Association of Asbestos-exposed (ABREA), Eliezer João de Souza, ABREA President, Fernanda Giannasi, ABREA co-founder and technical advisor, and Aline Brasil from the Public Prosecutor's Office. See: Audiência pública discute danos à saúde ainda causados pelo Amianto [Public hearing discusses asbestos-related health damage].
 

Asbestos Hazard in Russia

Dec 9, 2019

An article in an online Russian language newspaper based in Riga, Latvia discussed the causes of lung cancer which was, the author pointed out, the most common malignancy amongst Russian males. According to the text, exposure to asbestos experienced either at work or environmentally could elevate the risk to smokers and warned that protective measures should be taken such as using respirators and wearing specialist clothing and that state-of-the-art protections should be adopted to ensure proper disposal of asbestos-containing waste. See: Важные вопросы о раке легкого [Important questions about lung cancer].
 

Congressional Ban Asbestos Bill

Dec 8, 2019

Draft legislation to ban the use of asbestos in most construction applications was tabled in the Philippines House of Representatives by Rep. Raymond C. Mendoza. The purpose of House Bill No. 2636, which would – if it succeeded – become the Ban Asbestos Act of 2019, was to protect shipbuilders, construction workers, plumbers, electricians, auto workers and others from deadly workplace exposures to asbestos. The bill would authorize the Department of Health and members of an inter-agency council to propose regulations prohibiting asbestos imports, manufacturing, processing, use, or distribution for commercial purposes. See: Party-list legislator proposes asbestos ban in construction.
 

Asbestos Rebrand!

Dec 8, 2019

Authorities in the former asbestos mining town of Asbestos, Quebec have belatedly accepted that the economic prospects of the town would be brighter once the burden of its name had been lifted. Mayor Hugues Grimard admitted that the town had “lost businesses that don’t want to establish themselves here because of the name.” Exchanges on facebook showed both support for the name change and anger at the idea of abandoning the name due to its adverse connotation to English-speaking Canadians. Public meetings to explore the options and vote on a new course will take place in January 2020. See: Identity crisis: Canadian town of Asbestos pins hopes on name change.
 

Asbestos in School

Dec 8, 2019

Lea DiRusso, a Philadelphia teacher, announced plans to initiate a lawsuit over occupational exposure to asbestos which, she alleged, caused her mesothelioma. The 51 year-old was diagnosed with the fatal asbestos cancer in August, 2019; she had worked in the same school district for 30 years. Commenting on the lack of transparency regarding the asbestos contamination of her school, Ms. DiRusso said: “I was completely unaware, as are my colleagues and staff and students, that there even was asbestos present in the school building. I did not know the steam pipes behind me were wrapped in asbestos and I touched them.” See: Asbestos in Schools: Philadelphia teacher plans to sue district after cancer diagnosis….
 

Incubating an Asbestos Epidemic

Dec 8, 2019

A detailed exposé regarding widespread asbestos contamination in Indonesia, which was published by an Australian network in November 2019, pointed out that Indonesia was the world’s second biggest asbestos importer and that up to 10% of the country’s buildings contained asbestos. Citing data from international agencies including the World Health Organization, the piece concluded that the ubiquity and continuing use of asbestos in the country boded ill for future generations who could see deadly epidemics of cancer and respiratory diseases develop due to toxic workplace and environmental exposures. See: White asbestos lines many Indonesian buildings and health experts fear a coming cancer ‘explosion’.
 

Asbestos Fund Raiser!

Dec 8, 2019

The Asbestos Diseases Society of Australia (ADSA) 2019 Walk for (asbestos) Research and Awareness took place during November 10-15; dozens of sponsored participants covered the 300+ kilometres from Augusta to Perth during the week with all the monies raised going to fund Dr. Melvin Wee Loong Chin’s ADSA PhD scholarship in mesothelioma. An interim cheque for $60,000 was presented to Dr. Chin at the December 1 ADSA picnic at Whiteman Park, Perth, Western Australia. This was the eighth annual ADSA walk, with treks previously undertaken starting out in Kalgoorlie, Dunsborough, Pemberton, Albany, Geraldton, Merredin and Wave Rock. See: Asbestos Diseases Society of Australia Walk for Research and Awareness.
 

Asbestos Hazard in Russia

Oct 23, 2019

For decades, a stranglehold has existed regarding the dangers posed by asbestos exposures in Russia, the world’s largest producer of white asbestos. A Russian article just published quoted a leading Russian health and safety expert as follows: “Three substances from the list of the World Health Organization (WHO), such as asbestos, lead and mercury, should be considered the most dangerous for Russians… According to the WHO, all types of asbestos cause lung cancer, mesothelioma, laryngeal cancer, ovarian cancer and pulmonary fibrosis. However, asbestos can be found everywhere in Russia.” See: Эксперт назвала самые опасные химические загрязнители для россиян [The expert named the most dangerous chemical pollutants for the Russians].
 

Toxic Ship

Oct 23, 2019

It has been reported that the Portuguese cruise ship MV Funchal bought at auction in December 2018 by a UK company called Signature Living (see: Asbestos Vessel Cruising to london?) is now being towed to Liverpool. At the time of the sale, it was believed that the ship contained about 100 tons of asbestos, including products containing chrysotile, amosite and tremolite fibers, in friable condition. It is unknown whether the asbestos has been removed. According to a facebook upload, the company plans to refurbish the ship for use as a hotel in the UK. See: MV Funchal.
 

India’s Asbestos Curse

Oct 23, 2019

A paper published by Indian medical practitioners highlighted the ongoing epidemic of asbestos-related diseases in India and predicted that in decades to come – because of the current use of 350,000 tonnes of asbestos per year in India – there could be thousands of deaths per year from just one asbestos cancer – mesothelioma – with tens of thousands of additional fatalities from other asbestos-related illnesses. The authors stated: “In the near future, there will be at least 12.5 million ARD [asbestos-related disease] patients and 1.25 million asbestos-related cancer patients worldwide, and half of these will be in India.” See: Current Asbestos Exposure and Future Need for Palliative Care in India.
 

Toxic Talc Withdrawn

Oct 21, 2019

It was announced last week that Johnson & Johnson, a company facing thousands of US lawsuits over asbestos contamination of their iconic baby powder, had withdrawn 33,000 bottles of the product from sale in the US due to a finding by the Food and Drug Administration of sub-trace levels of chrysotile (white) asbestos in a bottle purchased from an online retailer. This is the first time that the company has recalled its baby powder. Reports of these developments were published in Russian, Chinese, French, Italian and other languages. See: Johnson & Johnson recalls baby powder after asbestos found.
 

The Scrapping of the São Paulo?

Oct 21, 2019

The fate of Brazil’s only aircraft carrier and the largest ship in the fleet is up for grabs, according to an article about the disposal of the São Paulo, purchased from the French Government in 2000. The ship, which contains up to 1,000 tonnes of asbestos material, is being auctioned with a December 9 bidding deadline. While it is widely believed the ship will be scrapped, the tender agreement states it must be done so safely and in accordance with procedures to protect the environment. During its years in the Brazilian Navy, the São Paulo was beset with difficulties and was only operational for 206 days. See: Museu ou sucata? O que será do porta-aviões brasileiro que custou R$ 22 milhões [Museum or scrap? What will be the [fate of the] Brazilian aircraft carrier that cost $22 million?].
 

Asbestos in Schools

Oct 21, 2019

A teachers’ union is threatening to take a provincial South African education department to court over the continued presence of asbestos in hundreds of schools. Following a ruling of the Eastern Cape High Court which ascertained the department’s responsibility for maintaining the educational infrastructure up to expected standards, the South African Democratic Teachers’ Union has announced that legal action is being considered over the widespread hazard posed by asbestos in schools and the imminent threat to 25,000 children and 7,000 members of staff. A deadline of 2016 to eradicate the asbestos hazard which was set by the Education Department in 2013 has been extended until 2024. See: Teachers’ union levels threat over Gauteng’s killer asbestos schools.
 

Asbestos Industry Attack

Oct 18, 2019

Asbestos vested interests, suffering from a fall in demand for their products, have embarked on a media offensive condemning the Vietnam Government’s plans to ban the use of asbestos-cement roofing. It is alleged that the government’s position was based on lies told to various agencies including the National Assembly's Committee for Science, Technology and Environment. Quotes from people working in asbestos-cement factories and consumers are cited in support of the calls by the industry for a U-turn on the asbestos ban. See: Không để thông tin thái quá về tấm lợp fibro xi măng gây hoang mang dư luận [Do not let outrageous information about fibro cement roofing sheets confuse public opinion].
 

Toxic Talc

Oct 18, 2019

A study just published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine substantiated the link between the use of asbestos-containing talcum powder, such as Johnson & Johnson’s iconic baby powder, and the occurrence of mesothelioma. The authors of the paper examined the cases of 33 people with mesothelioma whose only significant exposure to asbestos was through their use of talcum powder and concluded that the causation of their cancer had been that exposure. Commenting on their findings, co-author Jacqueline Moline said: “Everything points to cosmetic talc being the cause.” See: A New Study Suggests Tainted Talcum Powder Can Cause a Rare Cancer. Here's How That Could Play Out in the Courtroom.
 

Causation of Colorectal Cancer.

Oct 18, 2019

Research by Korean scientists confirmed the link between occupational asbestos exposure and colorectal cancer mortality. “There was,” they wrote “a significantly increased risk of colorectal cancer mortality among workers exposed to asbestos occupationally…This implies that the risk of colorectal cancer mortality increases as the level of asbestos exposure rises.” Concluding their article, the authors reaffirmed that their findings indicated that occupational exposure to asbestos was a risk factor for colorectal cancer. See: Exposure to asbestos and the risk of colorectal cancer mortality: a systematic review and meta-analysis.
 

Asbestos at the Opera

Oct 18, 2019

Legal proceedings are ongoing in Milan against five executives from La Scala Opera House on behalf of children whose parents were occupationally exposed to asbestos at the theater and subsequently died from asbestos-related diseases. The 12 deceased named in this lawsuit included Italian conductor and pianist maestro Edoardo Muller (1938-2016), toolmaker and machinist Demetrio Asta and singer Luciana Patelli, who died in 2013 of pleural mesothelioma. Asbestos-containing products were widespread throughout the structure with asbestos gloves being used until 1994, one witness testified. See: Milano, morti per amianto alla Scala: in aula i figli delle vittime [Milan, asbestos deaths at La Scala: children of victims in court].
 

Calls to Ban Asbestos NOW!

Oct 16, 2019

An opinion piece in the N.Y. Times by former administrators of the Environmental Protection Agency – Gina Wheeler and William Reilly – called for an urgent and immediate ban on asbestos, a substance killing ~40,000 Americans every year. The authors call on Congress to pass current legislation which bans all asbestos importation and use, without loopholes or exemptions, on the grounds of public safety. The draft prohibitions are progressing in the House of Representatives and the Energy and Commerce Committee will shortly have an opportunity to send it to the House for passage with bipartisan support. See: Asbestos Kills Nearly 40,000 Americans a Year. Ban It.
 

Asbestos Banned at Schools!

Oct 16, 2019

The Government of Kerala has set a two year deadline for asbestos roofing to be removed from 1,000 state, private and independent schools on the grounds of the “harmful impact on students’ health.” The mandatory order follows a ruling by the Kerala High Court in a case brought by a school manager from Thrissur. The Director of Education (DGE) has been instructed to compile an audit of schools with the toxic roofing and ensure that removal work is accomplished in a timely fashion; the DGE must submit monthly update reports on progress to the authorities. See: Govt. bans asbestos roofs in schools.
 

Challenging Draft Legislation

Oct 16, 2019

Australian trade unions are warning about the threat posed by the Ensuring Integrity Bill to the legal and human rights of victims of toxic industrial exposures, citing the long-standing campaign by unions to secure justice for victims of asbestos-related diseases. Commenting on the proposed legislation ACTU President Michele O’Neil said: “History tells us that threats to workers and the public’s health like asbestos only get tackled when workers stand together in their unions and demand change. If this Bill had been law during the fight to ban asbestos and hold James Hardie to account we would have seen unions shut down for actions to ensure public and worker safety.” See: Link between union-bashing bill and public health campaigns.
 

Asbestos Identification and Analysis

Oct 16, 2019

The acquisition of new microscope technology will enable Cambodian customs officers to identify asbestos-containing materials for the first time. The new equipment and training were gifted by Australian donors: Union Aid Abroad – APHEDA and the Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency. At the presentation event, Deputy Director General Ministry of Commerce H.E. Phan Oun, said: “This is something new for us … We know asbestos is a big problem. We need a long-term action plan to ban asbestos.” The new microscope and the training provided will enable Cambodian personnel to test products for asbestos for the first time. See: Spotting the Dangers of Asbestos in Cambodia.
 

Removal of Asbestos Roofs

Oct 16, 2019

A Fund is being set up by the Dutch Government to encourage homeowners to remove asbestos roofs by making loans available for remediation work until 2028. Announcing this initiative, State Secretary Stientje van Veldhoven of Infrastructure said the Government hoped that the availability of these funds would prompt property owners to act expeditiously. Van Veldhoven said: “The older a roof is, the more asbestos fibers it releases. So they can get into the garden and that makes the roofs a bit more dangerous every year.” Although the country’s asbestos ban remains in place, a deadline for the removal of asbestos roofs has been overturned. See: New Fund to Help Dutch Homeowners Clear Away Asbestos Roofs.
 

Asbestos Alert!

Oct 14, 2019

This article on a Russian website highlighted everyday exposures to ordinary things which could prove fatal, including asbestos – stating categorically that: “Asbestos is dangerous to health.” This statement is unusual in that the image of asbestos is carefully preserved in Russia as it is the world’s largest asbestos producer and the leading force behind asbestos marketing efforts around the world. The text pointed out that exposure to asbestos, which is found in many building materials, could cause various cancers including mesothelioma and that for this reason the EU had banned its use. See: 5 повседневных вещей, которые на самом деле опасны [5 everyday things that are really dangerous].
 

New Scottish Asbestos Play

Oct 14, 2019

As the number of cases of asbestos-related disease continues to rise in Scotland, a play – “Fibres” – has been premiered that explores the repercussions for a shipyard worker and his wife of occupational asbestos exposures. The work by Glasgow-based playwright Frances Poet was staged by the Glasgow Citizens Theatre and Stellar Quines, a women’s theatre company, and directed by Jemima Levick. Although asbestos is banned in the UK, millions of tonnes of asbestos-containing products remain in hospitals, schools, social housing, private homes, public and commercial buildings. For details of upcoming performances of Fibres see: citz.co.uk.
 

Ban Asbestos Dialogue: Update

Oct 12, 2019

The introduction of a roadmap to phase-out asbestos use in Vietnam has led to an increase in lobbying to maintain the status quo, even though a drop in asbestos usage indicated a fall in consumer demand. The article referenced below rehashes complaints that alternative products were expensive and there was no data substantiating the existence of a national asbestos epidemic. Nevertheless, the author reported that the Ministry of Science and Technology (MST) had directed the Ministry of Industry and Trade to accelerate research into asbestos-free materials. The MST also planned to collaborate closely with other Ministries to find affordable and safer solutions. See: Thiếu thị trường cho sản phẩm vật liệu không amiăng [Lack of (current) market for non-asbestos products].
 

Environmental Crimes in Turkey

Oct 14, 2019

A Turkish expose regarding environmental contamination in the town of Dilovasi in the Kocaeli region described the effects of living near or visiting an area dominated by a hill made up of industrial waste containing material discarded by a factory operated by the Turkish company Izocam Trade and Industry, Inc. According to the results of scientific tests, the waste included glass-type mineral wool and “significant amounts of three types of very dangerous asbestos…” An asbestos expert who visited the site expressed “pure shock” at the scale of the dump saying he had “never seen anything like this before.” Under Turkish regulations, the creation and existence of the dump could constitute an environmental crime. See: Asbestos Hill: a cover-up.
 

Legal Victory for Victims

Oct 14, 2019

At a press conference after a meeting of the Japanese Cabinet this week, Minister of Justice Kawai announced the Government would not appeal a September 2019 ruling by the Fukuoka High Court which upheld a claim, by a former worker who contracted lung cancer, that the compensation he should receive from the government for occupational asbestos exposures should be higher than the standard rate previously set. He was awarded 12.65 million yen (US$117,000). The positive verdict for the Kitakyushu City man followed similar outcomes for litigants in Kobe and Hiroshima. See: スベストの健康被害めぐる福岡高裁判決 政府 受け入れ方針 [Fukuoka High Court Decision on Asbestos Health Damage, Government Accepts Ruling].
 

Asbestos Brakes: A “Safe Option”

Oct 10, 2019

Propaganda masquerading as an article appeared on a Russian website extolling the virtues of chrysotile asbestos brakes. According to the author, the physical and chemical characteristics of asbestos makes it an ideal component for brake pads for cars, trains, trucks, all-terrain vehicles and many other types of specialized equipment. “Scientific papers,” commissioned by the asbestos industry, are cited to substantiate the assertion that the use of chrysotile asbestos is not harmful under “controlled conditions.” See: Полезные и спорные: тормозные колодки из асбеста [Useful and controversial: asbestos brake pads].
 

Asbestos School Strike

Oct 10, 2019

From October 9 to 18, 2019 a strike is being held by teachers, school staff, students and parents regarding asbestos in the Ruy Belo School in Queluz, Portugal. Slogans such as “no asbestos” or “school is for learning and not for getting sick” are being shouted out by demonstrators who are protesting that the all the roofs of the 35 year-old school are covered with asbestos material, much of which is degrading from the effects of weather and nearby trees. This is the second such strike; the first one was over asbestos in the Dom Domingos Jardo School in Lisbon – that school was closed as a result of the action. See: Greve contra o amianto: “A escola é para aprender e não adoecer” [Strike against asbestos: “School is for learning not for gettting sick”].
 

Asbestos Anxiety

Oct 10, 2019

Twelve claimants are taking their cases for “asbestos anxiety,” as a result of toxic occupational exposures at the Alstom site in Belfort, to the European Court of Human Rights after having had their actions dismissed by the French Court of Cassation (Supreme Court), the Court of Appeal and the lower court. The litigants will have to wait at least a year before the Court’s ruling is issued. See: Amiante à Alstom: douze salariés saisissent la Cour européenne des droits de l'homme [Asbestos at Alstom: twelve employees apply to the European Court of Human Rights].
 

Implementation of Asbestos Ban

Oct 9, 2019

National asbestos prohibitions announced by the Canadian government in 2018 will come into effect on December 30, 2019 according to statements made by Federal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna in Ottawa last week. Unfortunately, she confirmed, that contentious exemptions will continue which include: the commercial exploitation of asbestos mining waste to extract magnesium – about 800 million tonnes of tailings made up of ~40% asbestos remain in former mining regions – the use of asbestos in the military, in nuclear power plants facilities and in chlor-alkali production. See: L'amiante presque complètement banni au Canada dès le 30 décembre [Asbestos almost completely banned in Canada as of December 30].
 

Beyond the Asbestos Ban

Oct 9, 2019

In the aftermath of the long-awaited 2018 ban on asbestos in Canada, campaigners are calling for action to install measures to eradicate the asbestos hazard in order to protect Canadians from toxic exposures. Asbestos-related cancers remain the leading cause of workplace deaths in Canada. Speaking at an event organized by WorkSafe Saskatchewan in Regina on October 7, 2019, Dr. Paul Demers, epidemiologist and director of the Occupational Cancer Research Centre in Ontario, called for asbestos audits for all buildings, both commercial and private, so that occupants could take precautions to prevent exposures. See: Beyond the ban: experts say more needed to tackle ongoing asbestos problem.
 

Ban Asbestos, Now!

Oct 9, 2019

A chapter in a book just released entitled Status of Corporate Responsibility in India, 2019 - Is Human Rights in Business Limited to Rhetoric? sheds light on the current asbestos scenario in the world’s largest asbestos importing country. Concluding the eight page text which constitutes Chapter 11 – written by National Coordinator of the India Ban Asbestos Network Pooja Gupta and human rights lawyer Lara Jesani – the authors called for “a total and unconditional ban of asbestos in the country, and systematic work towards eliminating asbestos from the environment and human ecosystem.” See: Deplorable Cost of Corporate Greed: A Study of the Asbestos Industry.
 

Polluted Russia!

Oct 8, 2019

Scientists in the US and Russia reported the effects of toxic environmental exposures in Russia’s Sverdlovsk region. Breathing in air contaminated with asbestos, arsenic, cadmium, manganese, copper, lead, fluorine, hexavalent chromium, zinc, benzene, formaldehyde, sulphur dioxide, chloroform and other toxins has reduced life expectancy by six months and led to increased rates of disability as well as fatal and debilitating diseases. See: Дышите глубже: ученые рассказали, почему на Урале женщины не могут рожать, мужчины – болеют раком и преждевременно умирают, а дети отстают в психическом развитии [Breathe deeper: scientists told why in the Urals women cannot give birth, men get cancer and die prematurely, and children lag behind in mental development].
 

Asbestos Mine Revival?

Oct 8, 2019

Zimbabwe’s Shabanie chrysotile asbestos mine, which ceased operations in 2009, is slowly coming back to life claim government officials. According to Polite Kambamura, Mines and Mining Development Deputy Minister: “De-watering has been completed at Shabanie Mashaba Mine and very soon, the mine will be working at full throttle.” While some may remain sceptical, having heard similar assertions before, the authorities predict that once fully back on stream the mine could produce 18,000 tonnes of asbestos fiber per year. During it’s heyday, the mine employed 2,000 workers. See: Shabanie Mine awakens from slumber.
 

Asbestos Murder Prosecution

Oct 8, 2019

Legal proceedings are due to start in the long-running attempt by Italian Prosecutors to hold former asbestos magnate Swiss billionaire Stephen Schmidheiny to account for the thousands of deaths caused by the operations of his asbestos-cement factories in Italy. The latest case is being heard in Vercelli, a city in Piedmont, northern Italy. The legal action – regarding the asbestos deaths of 392 citizens of the town of Casale Monferrato – involves 400 civil parties. Schmidheiny stands accused of “voluntary homicide.” The request for a trial was lodged by public prosecutors Francesco Alvino and Roberta Brera and the Turin prosecutor Gianfranco Colace. See: Amianto Killer/ Processo Eternit Bis a Vercelli [Killer asbestos/ Eternit Bis Trial in Vercelli].
 

“Persecution” of Asbestos Industry

Oct 7, 2019

On October 2, 2019, a Russian language article alleged that both red meat and chrysotile asbestos had been falsely damned by the use of unsafe science. Discounting conclusions reached by scientists regarding the adverse health effects of red meat consumption as incorrect, exaggerated and hasty, the unnamed author of the Russian text headlined Proof of Guilt: How to Fan Hysteria from a Piece of Beef alleged that scientific skullduggery and corrupt journalism were the principal weapons used to “persecute” both the meat industry and the chrysotile asbestos industry. See: Доказательство вины: как раздуть истерию из куска говядины [Proof of Guilt: How to Fan Hysteria from a Piece of Beef].
 

Vietnam’s “Cancer Village”

Oct 7 2019

An investigation by government authorities failed to establish the reason for the elevated incidence of cancer in Tho Vi village, Thanh Hoa province. The small hamlet of 1,700 people has now joined the list of top ten villages in the country with the most cancer patients. In some households, multiple family members have died. Having monitored the situation for a number of years local man Mr Tran Minh Han was firmly convinced that the cause of the cancer spike was asbestos-contaminated water; asbestos fibers from a nearby derelict quarry were believed to have gotten into the water and debris from the mine was often used in building projects by villagers. See: Nỗi ám ảnh amiăng của người dân “làng ung thư” (Kỳ 1) [Asbestos obsession of "cancer village" people (Part 1)].
 

Appeal to French President

Oct 7, 2019

On October 1, 2019, the Brazilian Association of the Asbestos-Exposed (ABREA) appealed to the French President to intervene in the upcoming auction in Rio de Janeiro of the former French ship, renamed the São Paulo by the Brazilian Ministry of Defence, which contained large amounts of asbestos. According to the tender notice, it seemed clear that the São Paulo would be sold for demolition and most likely end up on a South Asian beach for dismantling. As per paragraph 8.3 of the tender notice, the French government must authorize the sale of the São Paulo; as the transport of this toxic vessel contravened the Basel Convention and other international protocols, ABREA urged the French President to take urgent action. See: Letters to French President Emmanuel Macron [Portuguese] [French].
 

Toxic Fallout from Factory Fire

Oct 7, 2019

One week after a conflagration decimated a factory in the French town of Lubrizol, residents of Rouen described finding asbestos-cement debris on their properties up to 3 kilometers from the site. A French TV company reported on October 2, 2019 that the analysis it commissioned of a sample found 2 kilometers away identified the presence of chrysotile, amosite and crocidolite asbestos fibers. The director of the laboratory which produced the report confirmed high levels of fiber had been found in the sample. As is often the case after such an incident, on October 1 the authorities said “that there was "no risk related to asbestos.” See: Rouen: cinq questions sur les débris d'amiante retrouvés à proximité de l'usine [Rouen: five questions about asbestos debris found near the Lubrizol plant].
 

Asbestos in Transit Depot

Oct 7, 2019

A report published in early 2019 revealed that workers at the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s (MTA) East New York bus depot in Brooklyn had been exposed to asbestos over decades; in addition, 20+ high school students may have been exposed. Originally, the findings were shared with MTA officials only; workers became aware of the presence of asbestos in the depot’s air vents recently. In 2017, asbestos had been identified in the building’s boiler room; it was removed in August 2018. Although the MTA said that the asbestos in the depot is not dangerous, it has posted signs saying: “DO NOT DISTURB…THE VIBRATION CLOTH MATERIALS ON THIS UNIT CONTAINS ASBESTOS.” See: New York City transit workers exposed to toxic asbestos for decades.
 

Propaganda Onslaught

Oct 4, 2019

Four very similar articles appeared on October 1 and 2, 2019 on Russian websites about attacks on Russia’s asbestos industry. The article noted below purported to examine the arguments for and against using asbestos. Citing industry-commissioned research and outdated reports, it concluded that the safe use of chrysotile asbestos was possible under controlled conditions. Another article (see: http://izvestia64.ru/news/215064-prodolzhaetsya-protivostoyanie-rossii-i-zapadnyh-stran-v-borbe-za-asbest.html] was more explicit – referring to a “hidden trade war” and saying: “Russia continues to wage a long struggle with Western countries for the industrial use of asbestos.” See: Безвреден для здоровья? Кто и почему пытается запретить асбест [Harmless to health? Who is trying to ban asbestos and why?].
 

Progressing the Rights of Asbestos Victims

Oct 4, 2019

Spain’s first legal cases for asbestos anxiety are ongoing at the Social Court of Barcelona for workers exposed to asbestos at the Federal Mogul brake pad factory in the Spanish town of El Prat de Llobregat. According to the claimants’ lawyer, toxic exposures were rife at the plant, previously owned by Honeywell; the plaintiffs developed depression and severe anxiety because of knowledge that they could contract incurable and fatal diseases such as the signature asbestos cancer, mesothelioma. See: Primer judici a l’Estat pels trastorns d’angoixa derivats de l’exposició a l’amiant [First judgment in the State for anxiety disorders arising from exposure to asbestos].
 

Tools for Analyzing Toxic Exposures

Oct 4, 2019

A newly published study used retrospective exposure profile methods and a risk-based approach to assess toxic exposures experienced by tens of thousands of workers at a General Electric factory in Peterborough (Ont.), Canada between 1945 and 2000. As a result of the data in this paper, the Ontario Workplace Safety and Insurance Board overturned decisions refusing compensation to more than 115 people who had brought claims over exposures at the factory to deadly chemicals and substances, including asbestos. See: Workers’ Fight for Justice: A Retrospective Exposure Profile Study of the GE Factory in Peterborough, Ontario.
 

Asbestos Waste Regime

Oct 4, 2019

On October 2, 2019 a spokesperson for Portugal’s Ministry of Environment and Energy Transition asserted that the country’s asbestos waste disposal regime was operating as per guidelines, in a response to a claim that illegal asbestos disposals were being made into landfills which might endanger health and the environment. According to the Government, asbestos-containing construction and demolition waste was deposited in non-hazardous landfills “properly prepared and licensed to receive it and was handled and disposed of in accordance with the best techniques and in accordance with current legislation.” See: Ministério do Ambiente garante segurança e legalidade nas descargas de amianto [Ministry of Environment ensures safety and legality in asbestos discharges].
 

Asbestos in Rolling Stock

Oct 4, 2019

Forty years after the closure of the Sacfem company –which operated facilities in Arezzo, Italy that produced railway cars – its successor-in-interest (the Bastogi company) was condemned by a court for negligence which allowed workplace asbestos exposures to take place. These exposures caused the death of a worker whose family was awarded €750,000 (~$824,500). Because of the long latency period of asbestos diseases, deaths due to exposures at the Sacfem facility have only started occurring in recent years. See: Sacfem: ucciso dall'amianto, alla famiglia assegnati 750 mila euro [Sacfem: killed by asbestos, the family assigned 750 thousand euros].
 

Asbestos Propaganda

Oct 2, 2019

A heavily pro-asbestos article on a Russian website described the global battle to ban asbestos by health and safety campaigners as a trade war, citing Ivan the Terrible’s aggressive and deadly trade policy as a plausible option for dealing with foreign commercial rivals. The author cited industry-commissioned “scientific research” and out-dated policies of the World Health Organization to substantiate claims that Russian chrysotile (white) asbestos “cannot harm the human body” and “is completely safe.” It alleged that the motivation for the campaign to ban asbestos was financial and that asbestos remained essential for the lives of populations in 2/3 of the world’s countries. See: Битва за волокно [The battle for [asbestos] fiber].
 

Schools Closed for Asbestos Abatement

Oct 2, 2019

On October 1, 2019, Danielle Floyd, the Philadelphia School District’s chief operating officer, announced that two Philadelphia schools were to be shut down for two days due to the presence of damaged asbestos-containing products; monitoring tests detected airborne asbestos in both premises. The discovery of the damaged asbestos occurred during a walk-through with School District and teachers’ union officials. Abatement work is being undertaken during the closure, with work beginning in the areas most accessed by school users. One thousand students attend both schools. See: Asbestos shuts down Ben Franklin/SLA school building.
 

New Mesothelioma Scheme on Jersey

Oct 1 2019

People on the island of Jersey with diffuse mesothelioma, a cancer caused by exposure to asbestos, and relatives of those who died from mesothelioma will now be eligible for one-off lump sum payments from the Jersey Government. The new scheme, which was first mooted in a well-supported e-petition to the government, was approved by the States Assembly. The size of the compensation award is dependent on an applicant’s age at the time of diagnosis and ranges from £92,259 for an individual aged 37 and younger to £14,334 for someone 77 and over. See: Islanders diagnosed with asbestos-related cancer to get government compensation.
 

State Condemned!

Oct 1, 2019

The Turin Court of Appeal ruled that as the pleural mesothelioma death of former sailor Salvatore Carminisi in 2009 had been caused by workplace exposure to asbestos in the engine room of the Amerigo Vespucci ship (1971-73), the Italian State was liable to pay damages for his death for having failed to implement measures to protect his health. The Court ordered the State to pay a one-off lump sum of €200,000 to Mr. Carminisi's wife and daughter as well as a lifetime pension of €1000 to the wife and €500 to the daughter. See: Amianto sulla Vespucci, lo Stato deve risarcire i familiari di un marinaio [Asbestos on the Vespucci, the State must compensate the relatives of a sailor].
 

Government’s Asbestos Liability

Oct 1, 2019

Under a settlement registered on September 27, 2019 with the Osaka District Court, the Government of Japan agreed to pay 57.2 million yen (US$530,000) to the families of 4 workers who died from asbestos-related diseases due to exposures experienced whilst recycling asbestos-contaminated hemp bags. The agreement followed a case brought by relatives of people who worked in 3 factories in Sakai City between 1944 and 1976. According to the defense team, this is the first settlement in Japan for asbestos disease contracted as a result of employment at a bag recycling plant. See: 麻袋リサイクル作業で石綿被害、国と元労働者が初の和解 大阪地裁 [Asbestos damage due to recycling of hemp bags, first settlement between the country and former workers Osaka District Court].
 

Toxic Thermos Flasks: Made in China

Sep 30, 2019

Last week, new tests results were released in Vietnam documenting asbestos contamination of thermos flasks made in China. According to the Research and Quality Accreditation Institute in Jiangsu Province, China, the thermoses tested contained asbestos. Commenting on these results, Vietnamese asbestos expert Dr. Tran Tuan said: “Asbestos-related diseases are preventable, and the most effective way to prevent them is to stop using all forms of asbestos to prevent exposure.” The Chinese government issued a warning to consumers about the toxic products. See: Amiăng trong bình giữ nhiệt xuất xứ từ Trung Quốc có thể gây ung thư và phá hủy nội tạng [Asbestos in Chinese-made thermos can cause cancer and organ damage].
 

Asbestos Alert

Sep 30, 2019

Ructions continue over pollution caused by the production of paronite – asbestos rubber sheeting made of chrysotile (white) asbestos for gaskets – in the town of Pershino, located in the Chelyabinsk region of Russia. Protests by local people over the deleterious effects of exposures to the toxins liberated by manufacturing processes at the factory have been lodged with administrative and judicial authorities – yet not one inspection of the factory has taken place. The responses to the complaints about the factory indicate the existence of a Kafkaesque situation in which each department and authority contacted denied any responsibility for the situation. See: Паронитовый заводик в Першино вредит под чиновничьей “крышей” [Paronite factory in Pershino harms under bureaucratic “protection”].
 

Proposed Sale of Aircraft Carrier

Sep 30, 2019

The auction by the Brazilian Ministry of Defence of the Sao Paulo aircraft carrier, operational from 2000 to 2017, was announced for September 27, 2019. A reserve price of $1.25 million was set; $12 million had been paid to the Government of France for the ship. The ultimate fate of Sao Paulo, which was the sister ship of the infamous French carrier Le Clemenceau, was of concern to civil society groups who warned the Brazilians that cash buyers would probably send it for scrapping to Asian beaches (see: Letter Sep 26). After the publication of the letter, news was circulated that the auction was being postponed until December 2019. See: Brazilian aircraft carrier goes on sale for $ 1.275 million.
 

Action on Asbestos: Too Little, too Late?

Sep 30, 2019

The frustration of people who have been living within meters of asbestos-contaminated debris dumped by the defunct Ibertubo (asbestos) cement company has boiled over. After more than a decade of high-profile campaigning by residents, authorities in Toledo, Spain agreed in 2016 to remediate the public site on which 60,000 tons of toxic waste had been disposed. Unfortunately, the situation remains unresolved and piles of asbestos debris remain in place. Campaigners had hoped the opening of the new Toledo Hospital sited nearby might have proved an incentive for the land to be completely cleared; this has not been their experience. See: El barrio construido en medio del Amianto [The neighborhood built in the middle of asbestos].
 

Screening for High-Risk Workers

Sep 30, 2019

A meeting on the morning of September 27, 2019 attended by former workers from the railway workshops in Bellinzona, Switzerland who had been invited by the Swiss National Accident Insurance Fund to undergo medical check-ups due to past occupational asbestos exposures and trade union representatives provided the opportunity for questions to be asked about the proposed medical interventions, the costs, and the eligibility of workers. Between 1980 and 1990 four workers from the workshops and a driver had died from asbestos-related diseases. Investigations are being progressed by the Public Ministry regarding historic conditions at the workshops. See: Amianto alle Officine: «Ora vogliamo chiarezza» [Asbestos at the Workshops: “Now we want clarity”].
 

Human Rights: Asbestos Follow-Up

Sep 28, 2019

During the September 23-25, 2019 meeting of the Department for the Execution of Judgments of the European Court of Human Rights, it was decided to end supervision of the judgment in Howald Moor and Others. This case considered the non-access to courts of asbestos victims due to a 10-year limitation period which started regardless of whether claimants were aware of the health consequences of historic exposures to asbestos. Further supervision was deemed unnecessary due to the creation by the Swiss authorities of the “Asbestos Victims Compensation Fund” which provided financial support and psychosocial care to individuals who, since 2006, had contracted a malignant tumour related to asbestos. See: Switzerland adopts measures to compensate asbestos victims.
 

Pre-Olympics Asbestos Hazard

Sep 28, 2019

An editorial in The Japan Times highlighted the dangers posed by the demolition of buildings containing asbestos to make way for new constructions for the Tokyo Olympics 2020. The author called for urgent implementation of tighter regulations for dealing with asbestos – a substance widely used in building products throughout Japan for several decades – in order to protect occupational and public safety. Two million eight hundred thousand buildings in Japan are believed to contain asbestos; between 2000 and 2040, it has been estimated that up to 100,000 people could die from the asbestos cancer mesothelioma. See: Halt further health damage from asbestos.
 

Toxic Army Housing

Sep 28, 2019

A 37-page report published on September 5, 2019 detailing an investigation into the standard of housing for US Army personnel documented dismal conditions in which soldiers and their families lived, which included domestic exposures to asbestos-containing products, mold and lead-based paint. Asbestos products were widely used in all branches of the military. According to former US Army captain Aaron Munz: “Veterans and their families living in post housing built before the 1980s face potential health risks from their homes.” In response to one of the findings, the Army set up a registry to track health complaints related to military housing and held town hall meetings across the service. See: Department of the Army Inspector General Report - Assessment of Residential Communities Initiative.
 

Asbestos Arrests in Kenya!

Sep 28, 2019

On September 24, 2019 officials from the National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA) stopped asbestos removal contractors working at the Kimathi Estate, Nakuru who had been engaged by Nakura county to replace toxic roofing with corrugated iron sheets. NEMA alleged that the workers were not following official guidelines for the removal and disposal of asbestos roofing. On September 20, NEMA had issued an order stopping further activities until the county undertook an Environmental Impact Assessment. The county failed to do so and ordered work to begin. As a consequence, arrest warrants were issued for the contractor and Judyleah Waihenya, Nakuru County lands and chief housing chief officer. See: Nema, county clash on how to handle asbestos.
 

Asbestos Removal in Moscow

Sep 24, 2019

By the end of 2019, all asbestos-cement roofing on apartment buildings in “Old Moscow” will be replaced with roofing made from galvanized steel sheets; these renovations were approved by the authorities. Work to remove the asbestos products has been ongoing for some while and only 40 properties remain unremediated. According to Viktor Logvinov, the First Vice-President of the Russian Union of Architects: “Slate [asbestos-cement tile] is very fragile, dangerous and short-lived… Now there is a wide selection of roofing materials that are long-lasting and safe for humans. Galvanized steel is one of them.” See: Сталь вместо асбеста [Steel instead of asbestos].
 

Asbestos on the Farm

Sep 24, 2019

An inquest into the death of a 75-year-old Dorset farmer was opened in Bournemouth on September 20, 2019. Mary Elcock had received multiple exposures to asbestos throughout her childhood and later life. She was diagnosed with the asbestos cancer mesothelioma on July 26, 2019 and died on September 11. According to a coroner's officer Ken McEwan, the deceased grew up on a farm which had asbestos roofs and in later life lived at a farm in Wimborne which had demolished its asbestos buildings in 1975. According to one UK expert, there remains: “[a] massive job to do to effectively manage asbestos, particularly on farms.” See: Asbestos danger highlighted as farmer dies from exposure.
 

A Deadly Legacy

Sep 24, 2019

A new report issued by the OCRC highlights the dire consequences of Canada’s deadly love affair with asbestos. In the 7-page chapter on asbestos, the authors note that: “Just over 150,000 workers are exposed [to asbestos] but it is estimated to cause 1,900 lung cancers, 430 mesotheliomas, 45 laryngeal cancers and 15 ovarian cancers annually.” According to the data: “Most occupational [asbestos] exposure (89%) occurs in construction, primarily due to the maintenance, renovation and modification of existing public, residential and commercials buildings.” See release notes: Report Release: Burden of Occupational Cancer in Canada.
 

Asbestos Dispute in Riga

Sep 24, 2019

The discovery of asbestos in the soil at the site of a newly modernized combined heat and power plant (TEC-2) outside Riga, Latvia has led to a heated dispute over which of the many sub-contractors and contractors should be held liable for the huge costs of remediation work not only at the site itself but also at the dump where the contaminated soil was taken. According to an investigation by the State Environmental Service all the enterprises involved in the construction work knew about the asbestos. See: На территории ТЕС-2 нашли опасный асбест. Виновной хотят сделать фирму, которая это обнаружила [Dangerous asbestos found on site of TEC-2. The company which discovered it is being held liable for decontamination costs].
 

High Cost of Past Asbestos Use

Sep 24, 2019

In a letter to the editor uploaded to the website of Italy’s Agenzia Nazionale Stampa Associata (National Associated Press Agency), Alessandro Miani, the President of the Italian Society of Environmental Medicine, highlighted the fallout from the country’s ongoing asbestos epidemic which is killing 6,000 people every year. Miani explained that: “Exposure to asbestos, in fact, causes lung cancer (pleural mesothelioma), laryngeal and ovarian cancer, as well as conditions of pulmonary fibrosis.” Furthermore, Miani pointed out: “In Italy… there are 96,000 sites contaminated with asbestos.” See: Amianto, in Italia fa 6mila morti l'anno [Asbestos, in Italy it causes 6 thousand deaths a year].
 

Mesothelioma UK Publication

Sep 24, 2019

The 24-page Autumn 2019 issue of Mesothelioma Matters Magazine published by Mesothelioma UK contains feature articles which detailed developments pertinent to members of the UK mesothelioma community including information about: the recruitment of new specialist mesothelioma nurses; activities held on the UK’s Annual Action Mesothelioma Day; outreach work to support asbestos-injured veterans; fund-raising initiatives; upcoming events; and work by civil society partners to raise awareness of the hazard posed by occupational exposures to asbestos remaining within the country’s infrastructure. See: Mesothelioma Matters Magazine, Autumn 2019.
 

Asbestos Healthcare: New Initiative

Sep 23, 2019

From September 23 to 27, 2019, hundreds of asbestos-exposed workers from the Precon company’s factory in Pedro Leopoldo will take part in a new medical monitoring scheme in São José da Lapa, a city in the Brazilian State of Minas Gerais. They will be examined in the CT truck belonging to the Barretos Cancer Hospital. Municipal officials with close ties to the former asbestos-processing company have continually refused to provide healthcare for the at-risk workforce. This initiative is being supported by Brazil’s Association of the Asbestos-Exposed (ABREA). See: Photo (courtesy of ABREA).
 

Asbestos Industry Offensive

Sep 23, 2019

An article which bemoaned the current commercial plight of the asbestos industry in Vietnam claimed that decreasing sales were due to unsubstantiated fears about the effects of human exposures to chrysotile (white) asbestos-containing cement roofing. According to the author of this biased text, no cases of mesothelioma have been recorded from occupational or environmental exposure to chrysotile fibers in cement roofing. Information provided by and demands for government action made by the Vietnam Roofing Association – a trade association representing asbestos vested interests – were detailed. See: Doanh nghiệp "thoi thóp" chờ quyết sách về Fibro ximăng [Business community waiting for a decision about Fibro cement].
 

Cancer Prevention Program

Sep 23, 2019

Since 2012, the Swiss National Accident Insurance Fund (SUVA), has been monitoring the health of workers at high risk of contracting asbestos-related diseases via a voluntary health program for those aged 55 to 75, who are offered free CAT scans in order to achieve early diagnoses of disease. News of a current initiative documented the invitation to 40 workers from railway workshops in Bellinzona, Switzerland who could have received toxic exposures whilst working on rolling stock built before 1990. An assertion by SUVA that there have been, to date, no asbestos cancer deaths amongst this cohort of workers was challenged by Gianni Frizzo, from a group representing the Bellinzona workers. See: Amianto alle Officine, SUVA indaga [Asbestos in Workshops, SUVA investigates].
 

Asbestos Health Camp

Sep 23, 2019

Efforts to support South Korea’s asbestos victims continued at a healing camp held on September 20, 2019 in Chungnam Province which was attended by the regional governor Yang Seung-jo. The objectives of the camp, which was hosted by the Province and the Asbestos Environmental Health Center, included awareness monitoring amongst the asbestos victims and improving psychological stability via measures such as health classes and cultural visits. The Governor pledged to “promptly dismantle and remove existing risk factors,” to prevent further exposures to asbestos. See: 양승조 지사 “석면 피해 예방·구제 투트랙 정책 펼 것” [Gov. Yang Seung-jo says, "asbestos damage relief measures will be expanded"].
 

Asbestos Remediation Initiative

Sep 23, 2019

A service became operation on September 20, 2019 in the Figline and Incisa areas of metropolitan Florence following new guidelines adopted by the Region of Tuscany to facilitate the removal and disposal of modest quantities of asbestos-containing material from domestic users. For a fee of €48, an asbestos removal kit can be purchased containing everything needed for householders to safely carry out the removal of small amounts of asbestos products from their premises. Once removed and packaged as per specifications, the material will be collected by the contractor. See: Kit per la rimozione dell'amianto per le utenze domestiche: la consegna ora anche al depositoalla Massa [Kit for asbestos removal for domestic users: delivery now also to the warehouse at Massa].
 

Increasing Medical Capacity

Sep 18, 2019

On Thursday, September 12, 2019 a public hearing took place in the Brazilian town of Bom Jesus da Serra during which a new spirometer and other equipment were presented to staff from the medical clinic at the Federal University of Bahia to facilitate early diagnoses of asbestos-related respiratory problems in high risk individuals such as those exposed to asbestos whilst employed at the SAMA asbestos mine and members of their families. Attending the event were representatives of local and national asbestos victims’ groups, legal associations, government officials, medical personnel and municipal officers. See: A AVICAFE e ABREA entregam espirômetro à UFBA [AVICAFE and ABREA deliver spirometer to UFBA].
 

GE Off-loaded Toxic Waste

Sep 18, 2019

Although, General Electric (GE) denied selling asbestos waste to its workers decades ago, people in Peterborough, Ontario recall many incidences of this taking place. The fluffy white asbestos scrap from the GE plant was used to insulate attics from the 1940s until the mid-1970s according to a September 17, 2019 CBC News/Toronto Star expose. With thousands of workers eligible for the cut-price but toxic bargains, no one knows how many of Peterborough’s homes remain contaminated. To date, the company has paid to clean up 24 Peterborough homes. See: Hidden asbestos: Hundreds of homes in Peterborough, Ont., suspected of containing toxic material from GE plant.
 

Asbestos Compensation

Sep 18, 2019

A spokesperson for Tata Steel in the Netherlands, part of the Indian multinational Tata Group, recently announced that the company would take a “more human approach” to the resolution of asbestos cases brought by former employees after criticism in May 2019 that the steel manufacturer was stalling the claims process and that the average case took 308 working days to resolve. The company said it had recently paid €60,000 compensation to the families of two deceased Dutch asbestos victims. It is believed that since 1995, 120 asbestos claims have been brought by former employees against Tata Steel. Enquiries are ongoing regarding how the compensation regime for Dutch asbestos victims compares to that for Indian victims. See: Tata Steel is going to implement ‘a more humane approach’ to asbestos cases.
 

Ministry of Defence

Sep 18, 2019

New rules published last week by the Ministry of Defence could significantly impact on the rights of service and civilian personnel to bring claims for occupational asbestos exposures. The previous regime which mandated that incidents of asbestos exposure be documented has been updated to eliminate this requirement. According to trade union official Rob Miguel: “There is little difference between the old and new guidance apart from the very worrying change that if a worker is exposed to asbestos, copies of the form detailing that exposure will no longer be supplied, preventing the worker retaining a copy or passing one onto his GP.” See: New Ministry of Defence asbestos guidance described as ‘very worrying’.
 

Sicily’s Asbestos Legacy

Sep 18, 2019

A recent regional asbestos hearing was told that progress to manage asbestos contamination in Sicily was almost non-existent and that at least one million cubic meters of asbestos [sic] remained in the environment and 330+ schools were still contaminated with asbestos material. Only 2% of asbestos illegally dumped in Sicily every year was removed and only 5% of Sicilian municipalities had prepared mandatory municipal asbestos audits. There are still no authorized landfills for asbestos disposal in Sicily. The hearing was warned of the dire consequences of the overwhelming failure to implement Sicily’s asbestos plan. See: In Sicilia 330 scuole a rischio amianto, 1 milione di metri cubi da smaltire [In Sicily 330 schools at risk of asbestos, 1 million cubic meters [sic] to be disposed of].
 

Pro-Victim Ruling: Eternit Condemned

Sep 18, 2019

Brazil’s Superior Labor Court increased the amount awarded against Eternit, formerly Brazil’s largest asbestos conglomerate, to Reais 600,000 (~US$147,000 ) for moral and material damages for the mesothelioma death of a former employee following workplace asbestos exposures which took place decades ago. He died in 2012, more than 37 years after he had left Eternit; he had been employed for almost one year at the company’s Osasco factory in the manufacture of asbestos-cement pipes. See: Deferida indenização a espólio de ajudante que descobriu câncer 35 anos após dispensa, diz TST [Compensation granted to employee who contracted cancer 35 years after dismissal, says TST].
 

Increasing Asbestos Restrictions: Update

Sep 16, 2019

Law 10,849/2019 adopted by the Brazilian State of Espírito Santo prohibited the industrialization, trade and use of products, materials or artefacts containing any type of asbestos. A new proposal currently going through the state legislature will further restrict the use of asbestos products such as water tanks and tiles; Bill 699/2019 will prohibit the transportation, import, export, storage and delivery to third parties, even free of charge, of materials or items containing any type of asbestos. These prohibitions are being adopted in recognition of the global consensus regarding the human health risks posed by exposures to asbestos. See: AMIANTO: Projeto fecha cerco contra amianto no ES [ASBESTOS: Project closes siege against asbestos in ES].
 

Building Technical Capacity

Sep 16, 2019

Last week, asbestos training was provided by Australian technical experts to Cambodian laboratory staff for the first time at sessions which took place in Phnom Penh. State-of-the-art scientific equipment and microscopes for the testing of asbestos-containing material were provided by the Australian Safety and Eradication Agency in the presence of representatives of the Australian Embassy in Cambodia, Australia’s Union Aid Abroad – APHEDA, the Building and Woodworkers’ Union, the Ministry of Commerce and the Cambodian Ban Asbestos Network (CAMBAN). See: Photo from training session (sourced from the Facebook page of Australia’s Union Aid Abroad – APHEDA).
 

Environmental Asbestos Hazard

Sep 16, 2019

Local people and activists concerned about the hazard posed by the presence of asbestos-containing building material in the Glòries area of Barcelona have filed a complaint with the Environmental Prosecutor requesting that it mandate remediation work by the owners of the toxic properties which are in close proximity to: the Gaia School, the Encants School and the Leonor Serrano municipal nursery. The Barcelona City Council has also been petitioned by the campaigners who are also calling on City Hall to make decontamination work a high priority. See: Ecologistas en Acción denunciará el amianto del entorno de las Glòries [Ecologists in Action will denounce the asbestos around the Glòries].
 

Asbestos Update

Sep 16, 2019

Although asbestos was banned in Turkey in 2010, the failure of local and regional authorities to deal effectively with asbestos in the built and natural environment meant that toxic exposures continued to pose a risk to human health according to Kenan Yildiz, a spokesperson for (Turkey’s) Asbestos and Hazardous Waste Association. In an online commentary, Yildiz also alleged that many provinces and district municipalities had failed to acknowledge the asbestos hazard and did not comply with official and mandatory asbestos guidelines. Illegal asbestos products can, he said, still be purchased in Turkey via the internet. See: “Takdir-i idari” bir risk: Asbest [An on-going hazard: Asbestos].
 

Brazil’s Asbestos War

Sep 12, 2019

The almost daily vicissitudes regarding the fate of Brazil’s asbestos ban were detailed in an article published by BBC News Brasil on September 11, 2019. The text summed up the dynamics and processes which led to the 2017 Supreme Court ban on asbestos and highlighted efforts by vested interests to curtail the ban so that asbestos mining and export could continue. The roles played by important stakeholders including ABREA – the Brazilian Association of the Asbestos-Exposed – Campaigner Fernanda Giannasi, Attorneys Marcia Kamei Lopez and Leonardo Amarante, researchers Drs. Hermano Casto and Arthur Pires Amaral and others were discussed. See: Saúde ou emprego? O dilema do amianto, que fez Goiás desafiar STF [Health or employment? The asbestos dilemma that made Goiás challenge STF].
 

Asbestos Alert: Toxic Waste

Sep 12, 2019

Multiple complaints over a prolonged period have been raised regarding the environmental hazard posed by the dumping of asbestos-containing waste on the outskirts of the Las Vaguardas neighborhood in the town of Badajoz in the southwest of Spain and in and around the Sancha Brava Gorge. Amongst the waste which is present in areas used for hiking and sports are piles of broken asbestos-cement roofing tiles manufactured by Uralite. Speaking about the dumping of the asbestos Guillermo Villasan, President of the Las Vaguadas neighborhood association, said: “it is unsustainable that such an amount of toxic material is piled up on public roads, outdoors and within the reach of anyone." See: Los escombros y el amianto rodean Las Vaguadas [Rubble and asbestos surround Las Vaguadas].
 

Asbestos in Schools

Sep 12, 2019

On September 11, 2019, the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers (PFT) held a press conference at which it announced the union’s call for a $100 million program to remove asbestos from the city’s schools in the aftermath of the mesothelioma cancer death of a teacher exposed to asbestos at Meredith elementary and another local school. The money would pay for a city-wide program to address not only asbestos contamination but also the hazard posed by lead remaining in the buildings. According to the PFT, asbestos-containing material has been found in about 150 school buildings in the Philadelphia School District. See: Union Wants $100M for Asbestos Removal from Philly Schools after Teacher’s Cancer Diagnosis.
 

Asbestos Remediation: Update

Sep 12, 2019

Local politician Brian Kisila is pressing the County Government of Machakos to implement plans to remove asbestos roofing at Mwala Level Four Hospital in Mwala, Kenya pursuant to the government’s plans to implement a national asbestos remediation program. Commenting on the situation Kisila said: “The hospital is being given a makeover and I would like to urge Governor Mutua to consider replacing the harmful asbestos roofing in the hospital, just like other government buildings.” See: MCA wants Mwala hospital's asbestos roof replaced.
 

A Decade of Toxic Exposure

Sep 12, 2019

A front-page newspaper feature in The Times of Malta is being credited with ending a 10-year impasse on the remediation of hazardous asbestos waste dumped on a privately owned 1,000 square meter site in Naxxar, a town in the Northern Region of Malta. The clean-up came 10 years after an enforcement notice had been issued and within days of The Times article. Naxxar Mayor Anne Marie Muscat Fenech Adami expressed the concern of local people over the health hazard posed by the toxic material on the open site, which included broken asbestos-cement building products. The owner, who had been given a deadline to clear the material, had previously failed to do so. See: Asbestos removed from Naxxar field after Times of Malta pressure.
 

Asbestos in Merchant Marine Vessels

Sep 10, 2019

On September 6, 2019, 450 employees at a facility in Brest, France which specializes in the maintenance of merchant marine vessels mounted a protest over ongoing exposures to asbestos products fitted on ships whilst at foreign ports despite the fact that France banned asbestos in 1996. Even ships which have “asbestos-free” certificates have been found to be contaminated; in China, anything containing less than 15% asbestos is considered to be asbestos-free. See: Brest. L’amiante provoque la colère des pros du port de commerce [Brest. Asbestos provokes anger of commercial port personnel].
 

New Mandatory Asbestos Audits

Sep 10, 2019

A September 5, 2019 editorial on the website of The Asahi Shimbun, a highly respected daily newspaper in Japan, urged the Government to follow international precedents and tighten up laws to prevent exposures to asbestos-containing products incorporated within the national infrastructure. Recommendations proposed by a subcommittee of the Central Environment Council to the Ministry of the Environment will form the basis of an amendment to the Air Pollution Control Act and will mandate the introduction of asbestos audits prior to the commencement of building renovation or remediation work. All audits must be submitted to local authorities in order for permission to proceed to be granted. Japan banned asbestos in 2004. See: (社説)石綿規制強化 [(Editorial) Strengthening asbestos regulations].
 

Toxic Cosmetics: Another Recall

Sep 10, 2019

Another scandal over asbestos contamination of cosmetics has been revealed by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) which last week advised consumers to stop using certain cosmetic products because of their toxic content. Beauty Plus Global, the company selling these products, issued a voluntary withdrawal of the of the following contaminated products: City Color Collection Matte Blush (Fuchsia), City Color Cosmetics Timeless Beauty Palette, City Color Bronzer (Sunset) and City Color Shimmer Bronzer (Caramel). In May 2019, the company recalled other asbestos-containing cosmetics after FDA tests. See: FDA Advises Consumers to Stop Using Certain Cosmetic Products.
 

Eternit Abandons Asbestos!

Sep 9, 2019

In a press release issued by Eternit, S.A. – formerly Brazil’s biggest asbestos conglomerate – company President Luís Augusto Barbosa confirmed that Eternit had “abandoned 100%" asbestos and would now play a leading role in the green revolution by introducing a new asbestos-free photovoltaic tile, capable of transforming solar power into electricity. Product testing is ongoing and Eternit expected the tiles to be on the Brazilian market within 18 months. The USP of the new Eternit product is that the photovoltaic cells are applied onto the tile itself without the need for an additional panel. See: Eternit lança telha de energia solar e diz que superou Amianto [Eternit launches solar power tile and says it has overcome asbestos].
 

Asbestos U-Turn

Sep 9, 2019

France’s Council of State on August 27, 2019 suspended provisions of an interministerial decree of July 16, 2019 stipulating that as of July 19 identification of asbestos prior to the commencement of work must be undertaken by certified operators. According to the ruling which accomplished this reversal: “While it is undeniable that the prevention of asbestos-related risks constitutes a public health imperative, it is not established, in the circumstances of the case, that the continued operation of these provisions is required.” See: Amiante: le Conseil d'Etat suspend l'obligation de certification avec mention pour le repérage avant travaux [Asbestos: Council of State suspends obligation of certification requiring identification before works].
 

Asbestos Epidemic: At Home and Abroad

Sep 9, 2019

An article detailing manmade disasters highlighted the toll paid by humanity for the profits of the asbestos industry. According to one Spanish expert, by 2018 there had been nearly 4 million deaths worldwide from exposures to asbestos with a further ~3.5m expected between 2018 and 2040. In Spain, a total of 100,000 asbestos-related deaths were expected by 2040. The recognition of asbestos-related diseases in many EU countries is either non-existent or exceedingly low. According to a recent publication by the European Economic and Social Committee: “Asbestos remains the main source of occupational cancer in the EU… [and] claims approximately 88,000 lives in Europe each year...” See: El amianto mata [Asbestos Kills].
 

Unsafe Choice: Asbestos Pipes

Sep 9, 2019

An online article on a website from Ukraine analyzed alternative products available for usage in sewage systems including those made from: ceramics, cast iron, plastic and asbestos cement (AC), pointing out that the hazards posed by the use of AC pipes meant that they should only be used “if other materials are not suitable due to low throughput or the inability to work in difficult conditions.” “Asbestos is,” the author noted “quite fragile, and also dangerous for the environment and people. Cement is heavy, difficult to install.” See: Трубы для канализации: есть ли лучший материал? [Sewer pipes: is there any better material?].
 

Supreme Court Appeal

Sep 5, 2019

An appeal by Asian Asbestos Victims’ Groups to the Brazilian Supreme Court which is due to announce its decision on the totality of the country’s asbestos ban – in light of appeals by vested interests for exemptions to allow a further 10 years of asbestos mining for export purposes – any day now has been detailed in a feature article on the Brazilian website of Viomundo. The author summarized the background to the current case and quoted from an appeal sent by the asbestos victims to the Court. See: Amianto: organizações fazem apelo aos ministros do STF para que mantenham proibição total [Asbestos: Organizations Appeal to STF Ministers to Maintain Total Ban].
 

Asbestos Causes Cancer!

Sep 5, 2019

Russia, for decades the world’s largest supplier of asbestos, has long denied that exposure to asbestos caused any ill health effects despite the global consensus that such exposure could cause fatal cancers as well as debilitating diseases. In a piece published online on September 4, the chief oncologist of the Ministry of Health was quoted as saying that a main cause of cancer was exposure to “classified chemicals, such as asbestos…” As Russian asbestos industry representatives and government officials continue to deny the existence of asbestos-related diseases, this statement is significant. See: Главный онколог минздрава назвал три основных фактора развития рака [The chief oncologist of the Ministry of Health names three main factors for the development of cancer].
 

20 Years after the UK Ban

Sep 5, 2019

Recent articles in the Morning Star newspaper highlighted the human and societal costs of the United Kingdom’s 100+ years love affair with asbestos, citing Health and Safety Executive data which revealed an ongoing deadly epidemic currently killing 5,000 people every year. In light of this devastation, the author deplored the fact that UK-based companies were continuing to profit from global asbestos sales. The David and Goliath legal battle mounted by June Hancock, an asbestos cancer victim, against a subsidiary of the British multinational Turner & Newall Ltd. was remembered in a second article (see: The Woman Who Took on the Armley Asbestos Tragedy). See: Asbestos – a Bloody Anniversary!
 

Asbestos in Schools

Sep 5, 2019

Deteriorating friable asbestos material has been identified in 100 schools in New South Wales (NSW); asbestos-containing products have been found in more than 2,000 other state schools according to surveys commissioned by the Education Department. Even where the material is not friable, “damaged asbestos” in 1,000+ schools is a cause for concern. At a hearing on September 4, 2019 Education Minister Sarah Mitchell faced a barrage of questions about this situation. Dismissing Mitchell’s reassurances, a Labor Party spokeswoman said: “The government can't tell us what they're going to do to get rid of it and parents are rightfully gonna be pretty scared hearing this.” See: More than 100 NSW schools have the 'worst kind' of asbestos - is your child's among them?
 

UK Mesothelioma Compensation

Sep 2, 2019

A scheme set up by the UK government in 2014, and paid for by a levy on the insurance industry, to provide compensation for people who contracted diffuse mesothelioma from occupational exposures and whose former employers could not be traced has, to date, paid out £172.6m. Official statistics published on August 29, 2019 reported that: in the financial year 01 April 2018 to 31 March 2019, 370 applications were received; excluding pending applications, 79% of applications received were successful; 92% of applicants were male – 68% of successful applicants (68 per cent) were aged between 65 and 79. See: Diffuse Mesothelioma Payment Scheme Official Statistics.
 

Asbestos & Cocaine: Brazil's Toxic Exports

Sep 2, 2019

A shipment of chrysotile (white) asbestos from the Brazilian Port of Santos, intercepted after Interpol alerted the authorities in South Africa, was found to contain 700 kilograms of cocaine valued at $216 million. It took customs officers 12 days to locate the container with the drugs amongst the 3,000 containers on-board the vessel MSC Spain. It’s alleged that the drugs were being shipped by a Brazilian drugs’ gang headed by Karine de Oliveira Campos and her husband, Marcelo Mendes Ferreira, neither of whom has been apprehended by the police. See: Carga de minério cancerígeno escondeu mais de 700 kg de cocaína, diz PF [Carcinogenic ore load concealed more than 700 kg of cocaine, says PF].
 

Asbestos Remediation Initiative

Sep 2, 2019

From September 2 to December 2, 2019, residents of the Autonomous Province of Bolzano in Northern Italy could be entitled to reimbursements of up to 70% of the cost of asbestos removal and disposal work incurred during remediation work on residential properties up to a maximum of €10,000. Alternatively, eligible residents could claim 50% of the costs incurred as a tax deduction. Information about this scheme can be obtained online or via a telephone hotline. See: Incentivi Provincia per bonifica da amianto: dal 2 settembre nuove richieste di contributo [Province incentives for asbestos removal: from 2 September new requests for contributions].
 

Asbestos: A Regional Concern

Aug 30, 2019

The first of three case studies examined in a new paper about cancer prevention in the Americas focused on the issue of asbestos exposures in Brazil, formerly an asbestos producing and using country. The authors noted that while the long-awaited 2017 Brazilian ban on asbestos was welcomed, it was of serious concern “given the poor visibility of workers’ health compared to other public health priorities of the country,” whether the necessary measures would be implemented by the government to prevent future exposures to asbestos-containing material already within the national infrastructure and environment. See: Pollution in the Americas: a leading cause of disease burden and an opportunity for cancer prevention.
 

Asbestos Exposure in the Navy

Aug 28, 2019

It has been announced that as the French State had decided not to appeal a decision of the Administrative Court of Rennes – awarding 45 maritime officers from Nord-Finistère between €3,000 and €10,000 for occupational exposure to asbestos during the period 1950-2000 – the verdict was now final. The compensation is being paid to retired naval personnel for “asbestos anxiety.” Jean-Paul Le Roux, representing a group which had campaigned for the injured, predicted that thousands of officers may eventually benefit from this landmark ruling giving veterans the same benefits as civilians. See: L’Etat définitivement condamné à indemniser des militaires de la marine exposés à l’amiante [State finally obliged to compensate naval personnel exposed to asbestos].
 

Asbestos Cancer in Australia

Aug 28, 2019

Figures just released by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) in a report entitled Mesothelioma in Australia 2018 documented that 699 Australians died last year from the signature asbestos cancer, mesothelioma. According to AIHW spokesperson Justin Harvey: “The number of recorded mesothelioma diagnoses and deaths that occurred in 2018 are expected to increase as more notifications continue to be received by the registry.” While incidence rates varied across states, between 2015 and 2018, Western Australia had the highest age-standardized rate of mesothelioma: 4.4 cases per 100,000 people. See: Almost 700 Australians died from Mesothelioma in 2018.
 

Deadly Asbestos Legacy

Aug 28, 2019

For a decade, the leading cause of occupational deaths in the Canadian Province of Saskatchewan has been exposure to asbestos. Between 2009 and 2018, mesothelioma and other asbestos-related lung diseases accounted for ~23% of the 388 fatalities recognized by the Saskatchewan Workers’ Compensation Board. Even though Canada has banned the use of asbestos, asbestos-containing material remains in many Saskatchewan homes and workplaces. To prevent future toxic exposures, WorkSafe Saskatchewan has launched a provincial awareness campaign to educate home owners and tradespeople about the hazards posed by asbestos. See: Asbestos exposure leading cause of work-related deaths in Saskatchewan.
 

Asbestos in Schools

Aug 28, 2019

Initiatives to remove asbestos roofing from schools in the town of Câmara de Gaia on Portugal’s north-west coast have resulted in work commencing on some premises with remediation at other schools being considered by the municipal council this week. The city has allocated €5.4 million for a phased three-year program which will not only remove the asbestos but also implement measures to reduce energy and heating costs in 33 schools. Mayor Eduardo Vítor Rodrigues highlighted the potential hazard posed to staff and schoolchildren by the degradation over time of asbestos-cement roofs. See: Câmara de Gaia aproveita obras em 33 escolas para remover amianto das coberturas [Câmara de Gaia takes advantage of works in 33 schools to remove asbestos from roofs].
 

Honeywell’s Asbestos Liabilities

Aug 28, 2019

The former Louisiana Attorney General Charles C. Foti has initiated an investigation of Honeywell International Inc. which on August 23, 2018 disclosed a $1,083 million underestimate of its asbestos-related liabilities. On October 19, 2018, the Securities and Exchange Commission announced that it was investigating Honeywell’s accounting practices for its asbestos-related liabilities as a result of which the company and some of its executives were sued in a securities class action lawsuit for allegedly failing to disclose material information. See: Honeywell Investigation Initiated by Former Louisiana Attorney General.
 

Asbestos Production in Zimbabwe

Aug 27, 2019

The company – Shabanie Mashaba Mines (SMM) – that operates Zimbabwe’s Mashaba chrysotile asbestos mine has announced plans to export raw asbestos fiber for the first time in a decade. According to media reports, the fiber had not been produced by mining but by processing of the mine’s tailings; between 1907 and 2007, asbestos mining at this site had produced 143 million tonnes of asbestos-containing waste. The first asbestos shipment which will be transported in a fortnight is destined for India. Meanwhile, work on revitalizing the asbestos mine is ongoing. The company said that within 3 years, production at the mine will be 75,000 tonnes/year. See: SMM to resume asbestos exports.
 

Medical Care for Asbestos Victims

Aug 27, 2019

On August 22, a hearing took place in Capivari regarding arrangements for the dispensation of funds to look after asbestos victims as per a court agreement with the former asbestos company Brasilit. Under discussion were the purchase of equipment and the operation of the diagnostic imaging center to be built next to the Santa Casa de Misericórdia de Capivari Hospital. Amongst those in attendance were representatives of the Capivari Asbestos Exposed Association, the Brazilian Asbestos Exposed Association and Rodrigo Proença, the Mayor of Capivari. See: Prefeito Rodrigo vai ao Ministério Público do Trabalho para tratar da criação do centro de diagnóstico por imagens [Mayor Rodrigo goes to the Labor Prosecutors’ Office to discuss the creation of the diagnostic imaging center].
 

Asbestos at the Supreme Court

Aug. 27, 2019

Mandatory monitoring of the Grand Court of Japan’s Supreme Court in October 2018 revealed illegal levels of airborne asbestos as a result of which use of the Court was suspended in February, 2019. During the construction of the Court, sprayed asbestos had been applied to large aluminium panels in this part of the building; an inspection of the premises a decade ago had confirmed the presence of the hazardous material. Japanese law stipulates measures to protect workers from toxic exposures including asbestos removal and disposal. With asbestos removal completed in July, the Grand Court will reopen in October, 2019. See: 最高裁大法廷にアスベスト、使用中止 実は10年前発覚 [Asbestos in the Supreme Court, discovered 10 years ago, results in court closure].
 

Asbestos on the Subway

Aug 27, 2019

A trade union official in Argentina has confirmed that five workers employed by Metrovías, the company which operates the Buenos Aires Metro, have been diagnosed with pleural plaques, a condition which indicated that they had been exposed to asbestos. All of the injured had worked at the Rancagua and Villa Urquiza workshops which were part of the underground line B subway operations; in total 200 people are employed at these premises. See: Al menos 5 trabajadores del subterráneo de Buenos Aires contaminados con asbestos [At least 5 subway workers in Buenos Aires contaminated with asbestos].
 

Asbestos Pollution in Russia

Aug 23, 2019

This article referenced below contrasts the high-profile electioneering activities in the Russian city of Chelyabinsk of Governor Alexei Texler with his negligence over complaints regarding pollution created by a factory producing paronite – asbestos rubber sheeting for gaskets made with chrysotile asbestos – located in close proximity to a residential area. An action group led by Alexander Shmal had some success when production was suspended in January 2018 by the Sovetsky District Court of Chelyabinsk due to non-compliance with environmental standards. Within a month, production restarted under the aegis of a “new company” and behind a higher fence. See: Предвыборный пиар от Алексея Текслера [Election PR from Alexei Texler].
 

Asbestos Ban Upheld

Aug 23, 2019

On August 23, 2019 Federal Supreme Court Minister Ricardo Lewandowski denied a motion by the Sama Minerações (SAMA) asbestos mining company and upheld Brazil’s asbestos ban. As a result, the actions of the São Paulo State Dock Company that prevented SAMA from exporting asbestos through the port of Santos were deemed legitimate. According to Minister Lewandowski, the Supreme Court declared the unconstitutionality of Federal Law 9,055/1995, which allowed the exploitation of chrysotile asbestos. Consequently, the transport and export of chrysotile asbestos was also incompatible with Brazil’s constitution. See: Lewandowski nega liminar e mantém proibição de exportação de Amianto [Lewandowski denies injunction and upholds asbestos export ban].
 

Asbestos in Schools

Aug 23, 2019

Teachers remain disturbed by the presence of asbestos and the hazard it posed to students and staff in Clearwater Middle School, an East End school in Bermuda, according to Shannon James, head of the Bermuda Union of Teachers. Despite an announcement that the government had undertaken work to remove asbestos during the summer holidays, James said parents and staff remained concerned. According to Department of Education sources, an independent inspection had been ordered “to ensure the school is safe to occupy.” This issue had been ongoing since August 2017 when an inspection revealed the contamination. See: Teachers have ‘grave concerns’ about asbestos.
 

Mesothelioma Mortality in Brazil

Aug 23, 2019

A newly published academic paper considered measures for reducing the regional cancer incidence in the Americas and highlighted the role played by environmental and occupational exposures to toxins. One of the three case studies focused on the repercussions of exposures to asbestos in Brazil and examined steps taken to identify, monitor and address the problems caused, such as the establishment of a national collaborative research network and a national interdisciplinary epidemiological investigation. Data cited showed that mesothelioma mortality had tripled between the periods 1980-2000 (0.77 per million) and 2000-2012 (2.1 per million). See: Pollution in the Americas: a leading cause of disease burden and an opportunity for cancer prevention.
 

Asbestos at the White House

Aug. 22, 2019

It was announced on August 21, 2019 that asbestos removal operations at the White House have necessitated the relocation of the offices of several members of staff including Presidential daughter Ivanka Trump. Considering Donald Trump’s long-term love affair with the deadly dust and the refusal of his administration to prohibit its use – as has been done by all other G7 countries – this work would appear to be something of a waste of money. If asbestos removal is required at the White House, what about the thousands of US schools, hospitals and public buildings which contain it? See: Ivanka Trump, Kellyanne Conway, and other top Trump aides have had their White House offices relocated to remove potential asbestos.
 

An Unequal Trade

Aug 22, 2019

Just over 1% of the value of exports from Kazakhstan – the world’s third largest producer of chrysotile asbestos – to India in the first half of 2019 was for chrysotile asbestos. The bilateral trade is heavily weighted in Kazakhstan’s favour with its sales to India amounting to ~$623 million (twice as high as in 2018) and India’s exports worth just ~$136 million, 8.5% up on 2018. The imbalance in the trade and the fact that an acknowledged carcinogen such as asbestos is exchanged for tea and cell phones, warrants further scrutiny by civil society groups in India concerned about public and occupational health. See: Казахстан продает Индии нефть, а покупает чай и See: сотовые телефоны [Kazakhstan sells oil to India, and buys tea and cell phones].
 

Asbestos in the Built Environment

Aug 22, 2019

A Spanish Ombudsman has ordered regional authorities to prioritize work on remediating asbestos-containing material in public buildings following resolutions passed in June 2019 regarding toxic schools in Alicante and Valencia. The Ombudsman mandated that work plans be submitted in a timely fashion in order to confirm that the potential health hazards were being addressed expeditiously and stipulated that: risk assessments for each affected center be undertaken and “a rational and realistic plan of action for the [speedy] removal of asbestos, with a work schedule” be submitted. See: El Síndic exige a Educación que acelere la retirada del amianto de los colegios [The Síndic [Ombudsman] requires Education to accelerate the removal of asbestos from schools].
 

Chrysotile Asbestos and Laryngeal Cancer

Aug 22, 2019

The findings of US researchers contained in the paper referenced below, which was uploaded to the website of Modern Pathology on August 5, 2019 confirmed the link between exposure to chrysotile (white) asbestos and the occurrence of laryngeal cancer. The authors of the text concluded that: “The presence of asbestos fibers in the epithelial tissue surrounding laryngeal SCC [squamous cell carcinoma] in cases with a history of occupational asbestos exposure adds a key line of physical evidence implicating asbestos as an etiologic factor.” See: Chrysotile fibers in tissue adjacent to laryngeal squamous cell carcinoma in cases with a history of occupational asbestos exposure.
 

Asbestos: “A Wonderful Life”

Aug 20, 2019

The “puff piece” referenced below highlights the history of asbestos mining in the Urals, extolled the importance of the Uralasbest company which employs 7,000 of the 63,000 people living in the monotown of Asbest and described the operations needed to extract asbestos fiber from rock. The section which described the “anti-asbestos campaign” noted that the “fight for chrysotile” is “successfully” being waged around the world by half a million people – including representatives of asbestos processing and producing sectors, trade unions and scientific institutions. See: «Ураласбест»: путь хризотил-асбеста от руды до множества продуктов [Uralasbest: the path of chrysotile asbestos from ore to many products].
 

Asbestos on the Subway

Aug 20, 2019

A corporate asbestos legacy has made 2019 an “annus horribilis” for the company in charge of the Spanish capital’s underground system Metro de Madrid with: adverse court sentences in asbestos death cases and closures of stations due to asbestos discoveries. At what should have been a time of celebration – marking the company’s 100th anniversary – the Metro’s reputation is continuing to suffer constant blows from new asbestos discoveries and withdrawals of toxic rolling stock. See: El peor año de Metro de Madrid: amianto, estaciones cerradas y descontento de los viajeros [The worst year for Metro de Madrid: asbestos, closed stations and travellers discontent].
 

Asbestos Removal Regime: Update

Aug. 20, 2019

On July 24, 2019, France’s Council of State – a government body which advises the executive branch and the supreme court on legal, administrative matters and public policy, one of France’s “principal guarantees of the rule of law” – cancelled a decree stipulating skill certification criteria for asbestos removal specialists and the introduction of mandatory asbestos audits prior to the commencement of work which came into force on July 19, 2019. This policy reversal has caused uncertainty and concern throughout the asbestos removal industry. See: Amiante: le Conseil d'Etat perturbe l'entrée en vigueur de l'obligation de repérage avant travaux [Asbestos: the Council of State disrupts the enforcement of the obligation of identification before works].
 

Mandatory Promotion of Chrysotile

Aug 19, 2019

Rules introduced in Russia on July 1, 2019 outlawed the submission of construction work tenders which forbid the use of chrysotile and chrysotile-containing products. Extolling the multiplicity of advantages of modern chrysotile products – low cost, high degree of strength and safety, extremely resistant to mechanical stress, etc. – the article referenced below alleged that an international campaign to discredit chrysotile had convinced Russian consumers of the asbestos hazard and depressed national consumption. See: Борьба с суевериями: как скажется изменение правил аукционов на хризотиле? [Fighting superstitions: how will changing the rules of tendering affect chrysotile use?].
 

Asbestos in Schools

Aug 19, 2019

Politicians in Lorca, a city in southeastern Spain, have called on the Murcia Region’s Ministry of Education to take urgent action on the hazard posed by the widespread asbestos contamination of schools. According to Councillor Antonia Pérez there are 6,000 square meters of asbestos roofing and other toxic products such as pipes still present in schools built in or before the 1980s. Lorca’s Mayor is supporting these demands saying all educational centers should be asbestos-free by 2028, at the latest. See: Exigen “celeridad” para retirar el amianto de los centros educativos de Lorca [Demand for “speed” to remove asbestos from schools in Lorca].
 

Wittenoom: The End?

Aug 16, 2019

Legislation to deal with the hazard posed by the widespread asbestos contamination of the almost derelict asbestos mining town of Wittenoom, in the Pilbara region of Western Australia (WA), has had its 3rd reading in the WA Legislative Assembly. Bill 120 will allow the State to compulsory purchase the 17 tracts of land belonging to five people in preparation for a final shutdown of the town which remains a bizarre and deadly tourist attraction. According to supporting text of the legislation: “The State may only demolish the remaining buildings, close the townsite and commence managing the risks posed by the area once all of the freehold land in Wittenoom has been revested in the State.” See: Wittenoom Closure Bill 2019.
 

Unsafe Asbestos Removal

Aug 16, 2019

The Unión General de Trabajadores (UGT), a major Spanish trade union, has condemned exposures to asbestos experienced by members working at the Port of Malaga. Work to remediate asbestos-containing material from the port is ongoing and while asbestos operatives on site have protective clothing, UGT members and other workers have received neither protection nor notification regarding the specifics of the work being conducted in defiance of government regulations. The Labour Inspectorate has been informed of the “serious and imminent safety risk to workers' health.” See: UGT denuncia la exposición al amianto de funcionarios en el puerto de Málaga [UGT denounces the exposure to asbestos of officials in the port of Malaga].
 

Asbestos in the Built Environment

Aug 16, 2019

The answer to a Parliamentary question submitted to the Belgian Minister responsible for the government’s buildings agency revealed that in the last five years, 10% of government buildings had been subject to measures to deal with asbestos-containing material. In some of the 104 buildings affected, asbestos was removed; in others, airborne levels were monitored with no further action taken. Buildings on which asbestos remediation work was carried out included: police stations in Uccle and Etterbeek, the Monnaie theatre, the former justice palace in Antwerp, Ghent prison and a centre for asylum-seekers in Kapellen in Antwerp province. See: Federal government buildings still contain asbestos, says report.
 

Mesothelioma in South Africa

Aug 14, 2019

Liz Darlison MBE from Mesothelioma UK and Tracey Wood from the Glynnis Gale Foundation are on a fact-finding trip this week to South Africa to learn about mesothelioma treatment and care in the Northern Cape Province, the former location of several asbestos mines. In its heyday, the South African asbestos mining sector employed 20,000 miners, many of whom died from hazardous occupational exposures. During the trip, Ms. Darlison and Ms. Wood will meet with clinicians, patients and stakeholders in the Northern Cape to learn first-hand about the treatment available to patients with asbestos cancer. See: UK Cancer Nursing and Charity Team Visit South Africa to See Impact of Asbestos-related Cancer.
 

Asbestos Mining: Expose

Aug 14, 2019

Despite decades of denial, the deadly price paid by workers for the profits of the Brazilian asbestos mining industry is beginning to emerge. A PhD dissertation by Arthur Pires Amaral, which was featured in the article below, revealed the repercussions of occupational exposures to asbestos mine workers and their families at the now closed SAMA chrysotile asbestos mine in the city of Minaçu: “These former SAMA employees died without any medical assistance and financial compensation from the mining company, often being held responsible for the worsening of their poor health conditions,” wrote Amaral. See: Negação do adoecimento pelo Amianto [Denial of Asbestos Disease].
 

Asbestos Propaganda

Aug 14, 2019

Russian asbestos propaganda promoting the advantages of using chrysotile (white) asbestos in brake pads cited research findings by asbestos industry-commissioned scientists such as David Bernstein, Rick Rogers and Paul Smith, which discount the human health hazard posed by exposures to chrysotile asbestos; publications by Denis Paustenbach, an expert often used by defendants in US asbestos lawsuits, Craig Poland and Roger Duffin are cited to counter claims regarding the health hazard to mechanics of working with chrysotile brake pads. See: Борьба за хризотил: тормозные колодки на прицеле у ученых [The fight for chrysotile: brake pads - scientific update].
 

Asbestos Scheme in Jersey

Aug 14, 2019

A scheme – the Diffuse Mesothelioma Payment Scheme – which will be operational from October, 2019, has been announced by the Government of Jersey to compensate Jersey residents who contract mesothelioma, the signature cancer associated with exposure to asbestos. Eligible claimants could receive a one-off payment of up to £92,000 but amounts are dependent on the age of the applicant, with older people receiving less; a person aged 70 would be entitled to £17,961, claimants aged 77 or over would receive £14,334. This scheme is a result of campaigning by asbestos victims; a 2018 e-petition attracted over 1,300 signatures. See: Up to £92K for sufferers of asbestos disease in Jersey.
 

Asbestos in Schools

Aug 13, 2019

Between July 2018 and 2019, more than 1,000 schools in Flanders have applied to the Public Waste Agency of Flanders for funding to remove asbestos; to date, all of the applications received have been approved. According to data released, remediation work is being planned or has already been started at 250 educational premises. The Government of Flanders has designated the removal of asbestos from schools a high priority. See: Al meer dan duizend Vlaamse scholen deden aanvraag voor subsidies voor asbestverwijdering [More than a thousand Flemish schools have already applied for asbestos removal subsidies].
 

Environmental and Public Health Initiative

Aug 13, 2019

An outreach project entitled Diferentes Formas de Dizer Não – Experiências de  proibição; resistência e restrição a mineração [Different Ways to Say No – Prohibition experiences; mining resistance and restrictions] promoted by the Brazilian Environmental Justice Network in the City of Muriaé in the southeast of the State of Minas Gerais – east of Brazil’s former asbestos mining State (Goiás) – is being carried out between August 13 and 15, 2019 to consider the health, economic and environmental impact of mining operations and examine topical issues, such as demands by vested interests to recommence asbestos mining banned by a 2017 ruling by the Supreme Court. See: Poster for the Workshops.
 

Remediation of Asbestos Roofing

Aug 13, 2019

For over ten years, the Government of Rwanda has been committed to securing the removal of asbestos roofing from public and private buildings due to the known health hazard. Last week, Claver Gatete – the Minister for Infrastructure – announced that within a year the asbestos roofing on all public buildings would be removed. An asbestos expert predicted that this scheme would cost the government at least US $5,000,000. Because of the government’s positive attitude to the remediation, more asbestos removalists have been trained and more asbestos disposal sets designated. See: Govt. sets fresh deadline for asbestos removal.
 

New Asbestos Documentary

Aug 13, 2019

After decades of government denial, the price paid by Canadians for occupational asbestos exposures is emerging: thousands of deaths every year at a cost of billions of dollars for healthcare and lost productivity. The documentary “Town of Widows” was screened on the Canadian Broadcasting Channel on August 8, 2019 and focused on the consequences of asbestos exposures at the General Electric plant in Peterborough, Ontario where 225+ kilograms of asbestos were used every day. Former workers recounted the “snowstorm” of asbestos and the prolonged and complex fight for compensation faced by the injured and their families. See: The Facts about Asbestos Cancer and Compensation in Canada.
 

Asbestos Exports to Asia

Aug 12, 2019

An article on a Russian language website boasted of increasing sales of Russian chrysotile asbestos to countries in Asia, including Laos, China, India, Cambodia, Indonesia and Vietnam, due to its unparalleled chemical, physical and cost advantages. The short infomercial concluded that: “In the region where most of the world's population lives, there is always a high need for cheap, durable and reliable housing. That is why chrysotile is chosen for the construction of affordable and premium housing by both state-owned companies and private construction corporations.” See: Хризотил-асбест: импорт минерала в страны Юго-Восточной Азии неуклонно растет [Chrysotile asbestos: mineral imports by Southeast Asia growing steadily].
 

Health Advocates Support Asbestos Ban

Aug 12, 2019

During the 16th National Health Conference this month, a motion circulated by The Brazilian Association of the Asbestos-Exposed (ABREA) repudiating efforts by asbestos vested interests to force the Supreme Court to allow asbestos mining for export was strongly supported. The petition condemned Goiás State law 20.512/2019 which permitted chrysotile asbestos mining, processing and transport for export purposes in contravention of the Court’s 2017 ruling outlawing the asbestos industry. See: 16ªCNS: Abrea encaminha menção de repúdio sobre liberação da exportação do amianto ao STF [16th National Health Conference supported ABREA motion rejecting asbestos miners’ appeal to Supreme Court (for export exemption to national ban)].
 

Spain’s Asbestos Legacy

Aug 12, 2019

With 1,900 people dying every year from asbestos-related diseases in Spain, the hazard posed by toxic products within the national infrastructure is a threat to both occupational and public health. According to government figures, few cases of asbestos disease are recognized and even fewer compensated. The asbestos problem on the Madrid Metro was highlighted; in an industry where asbestos products were widely used, the company operating the capital’s subway denied the existence of this problem until 2018 and even now fails to address the problems caused by asbestos exposures to workers and commuters. See: Amianto en Metro Madrid: ¿cuánto tardará la muerte en ser una rutina? [Asbestos in Metro Madrid: how long will it take to address?].
 

MoD Asbestos Contamination

Aug 12, 2019

Although personnel from an MoD (Ministry of Defence) site in Ashchurch, Gloucestershire where asbestos had been found have been put on “indefinite leave”, 20+ guards are still patrolling the military site. According to trade union official Caren Evans: “Requiring MoD guards to continue to patrol a site which is otherwise shut down owing to asbestos contamination is alarming. Workers have to change their boots, clearly indicating a risk of further contamination. No worker should be placed in harm’s way. Changing boots does not protect workers from breathing in asbestos, which can have fatal consequences.” See: No response from MoD on worker asbestos exposure.
 

Record Mesothelioma Award

Aug 7, 2019

On August 6, a South Australia Employment Tribunal found Australia’s former asbestos giant James Hardie negligent for failing to take reasonable steps to warn of the hazards of exposures to their products in a case brought by home renovator and mesothelioma sufferer 42-year-old Mathew Werfel who was awarded $3 million in compensation. “The potential future liability for James Hardie is extraordinary,” said Werfel’s lawyer who affirmed that “James Hardie ought to be held liable in circumstances where persons have come into contact with their product in the years after they've been installed.” See: DIY handyman wins landmark $3 million asbestos compensation claim against James Hardie.
 

New Asbestos Regulations

Aug 7, 2019

Regulations which become enforceable from July 19, 2019 in France mandate that asbestos audits be carried out even before minor work such as replacing pipework or removing insulation could begin; failure to do so could incur financial penalties of up to a €18,000. The new law was passed to protect workers and the public from exposures which are responsible for the country’s second biggest epidemic of occupational diseases. It could, one expert predicted, take another 30 years to remove all asbestos from France. See: Le diagnostic amiante devient obligatoire même pour de menus travaux [Asbestos audit becomes mandatory even before smaller jobs].
 

The Lancet’s Asbestos Editorial

Aug 5, 2019

Citing the latest mesothelioma mortality data from the UK’s Health and Safety Executive, an editorial in the latest issue of The Lancet (August 2019, Vol. 20) – the world’s oldest and most prestigious medical journal – condemned national governments which had failed to protect human health by banning asbestos and warned that in nations such as the US, Russia, China and others which are still using or producing asbestos “we can only expect the incidence of asbestos-related mesothelioma and diseases… to continue to rise unless governments act to address this highly preventable cause of premature death.” See: Asbestos exposure: the dust cloud lingers.
 

Asbestos and Cancer

Aug 5, 2019

An August 1, 2019 article on the causation of cancer on the website of a regional newspaper in Belarus listed asbestos as the first of six potentially toxic hazards which should be avoided, and highlighted the everyday risk posed by breathing in asbestos fibers at home or at work. Such exposures could, over a period of time the article said, cause lung cancer. Asbestos remediation work should be undertaken by specialists to avoid the risk of inhalation. The other dangers listed were: X-rays, smog, alcohol, the sun and red meat. See: Названы повседневные вещи, которые могут вызвать онкологию [Everyday things that can cause cancer].
 

Asbestos Cancer Rate Increasing

Aug 5, 2019

A recently published analysis of statistics for malignant mesothelioma (MM) mortality in Greece during the period 2005-2015 has shown a significant increase compared to previous decades, with higher rates in individuals, both male and female, between 70 and 80 years old throughout most of the country. The authors speculate that “this increase is possibly due to the fact that the peak in asbestos production and use in Greece was in the mid 1990s… Based on these findings the MM epidemic in Greece has not yet peaked, therefore it is important to implement screening strategies for early MM detection.” See: Mesothelioma Mortality Rates in Greece for the Period 2005-2015 Is Increased Compared to Previous Decades.
 

Asbestos on the Railways

Aug 2, 2019

According to officials from the state-owned railway company in France – the SNCF (Société nationale des chemins de fer français) – since 1997 there has been no asbestos in the company’s rolling stock. Nevertheless, for six months this year (2019) workers engaged in the maintenance of freight cars at an SNCF workshop in Ambérieu-en-Bugey (Ain) received toxic occupational exposures. As a result of the contamination, work on suspect carriages was suspended; on July 29, workers were told that if full production was not resumed at the workshop, the facility would be closed. See: Vers une « affaire amiante » à la SNCF [The “asbestos affair” at SNCF].
 

Asbestos at Nissan Plant

Aug 2, 2019

A Barcelona Court has issued the first verdict against Nissan for the asbestos death of a former employee, a maintenance technician, from one of its plants in Barcelona who had been occupationally exposed to asbestos in brake pads/discs and printing presses, as a result of which he died of mesothelioma in 2014. The Court found the company to be negligent for failing to prevent toxic occupational exposures to occur. The case was brought by the widow of the deceased. See: Primera sentencia que señala al amianto como causa de muerte de un extrabajador de Nissan [First sentence that points to asbestos as the cause of death of a Nissan former worker].
 

On the Road to an Asbestos Ban

Aug 2, 2019

A new article on the website of Australia’s Union Aid Abroad highlighted the importance of the June 28, 2019 launch of the Cambodian National Asbestos Profile, a useful resource for decision-makers, workers and consumers working to safeguard health and safety by identifying the dangers posed by asbestos exposures in workplaces and communities in preparation for the implementation of national prohibitions. Speaking at the launch, Mr. Leng Tong, Advisor to the Ministry of Labor and Employment Training, said: “Cambodia is still allowing asbestos use because we do not have tools for checking this substance, but in the future, Cambodia will prepare to erase asbestos, to implement an asbestos ban.” See: Fight to Ban Asbestos Boosted in Cambodia.
 

Supreme Court Victory

Jul 30, 2019

On July 29, 2019, the Supreme Court issued a verdict granting public access to court documents in a case involving a British subsidiary of a former asbestos multinational. The judgment in the case of Cape Intermediate Holdings Ltd v Dring (for and on behalf of Asbestos Victims Support Groups Forum UK) can be accessed at Cape Intermediate Holdings v Dring Judgment and a press summary at Press Summary. In lead judgment, Lady Hale wrote: “The default position should be to grant access to documents placed before a judge and referred to by a party at trial unless there was a good reason not to do so.” See: Supreme Court ruling grants public access to court documents.
 

Turkey’s Asbestos Disaster

Jul 30, 2019

Plans announced by Gürkan Akgün, Head of the Department of Reconstruction and Urbanism in Istanbul, have been attacked by environmentalists on multiple grounds including the hazard posed by demolition of asbestos-containing buildings. According to researcher, Asli Odman urban transformation schemes which started in 2011 in Turkey spread asbestos throughout the country due to failures to remediate buildings prior to demolition or renovation. “Asbestos is the Chernobyl of the future,” she said. See: Gürkan Akgün: Taksim için yakın zamanda açıklama yapılacak [Gurkan Akgun: [plans for?] Taksim will be announced soon].
 

Toxic Cosmetics Recalled

Jul 30, 2019

On July 27, 2019, Taiwan’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA) ordered recalls of two types of cosmetic products containing asbestos which had been manufactured by the Tainan-based TJ Group. Following alarms raised over the toxic products by the authorities in the US and Canada, the FDA inspected the company’s factory in Tainan and tested nine samples collected from the plant. The products which were found to contain asbestos were: City Color Contour Palette and Contour Palette 2 Bronze Highlight. See: Cosmetic products ordered off shelves over asbestos.
 

Asbestos-free Brakes Recommended

Jul 29, 2019

An article on a Russian news portal recommended the use of asbestos-free brake pads as replacement parts for motor vehicles, saying that the alternative products containing asbestos were harmful to human health as well as the environment. Asbestos-free brake pads made with polymers, mineral or organic fibers were, the author reported, widely sold in EU countries which have banned asbestos and were becoming more popular in Russia. Russia is the world’s leading supplier of asbestos fiber and Russian vested interests lead a multi-lingual and well-financed campaign to promote asbestos sales around the world. See: Почему лучше отказаться от асбестовых тормозных колодок [Why it is better to refuse asbestos brake pads].
 

Lung Cancer Verdict

Jul 29, 2019

A court in Pamplona handed down a judgment ordering the former employer of MA, who died of lung cancer in 2017, to compensate the deceased’s family, finding that “his death was due to cancer caused by exposure to asbestos.” MA had started work for the Super Ser company in 1964 and continued to work there for 22 years during which time the company changed name on multiple occasions; it is now: BSH Electrodomésticos España SA). Throughout his employ, he had worked with asbestos with no knowledge of the hazards. See: Condenan a una empresa a indemnizar a las hijas de una trabajadora navarra fallecida por el Amianto [Company has to compensate the daughters of a worker from Navarra who died because of asbestos].
 

Colombia Bans Asbestos

Jul 29 2019

An article on the website of the European Trade Union Institute reviewed the tortuous road to the asbestos ban achieved this summer in Colombia, highlighting the role played by trade unionists, asbestos victims and environmental campaigners in the face of fierce opposition from asbestos vested interests, employers and right-wing politicians. The author Laurent Vogel reviewed the involvement in this saga of the Swiss-Belgian asbestos multinational: Eternit which had, since 1942, played a pivotal role in developing Colombia’s asbestos manufacturing sector with asbestos-cement factories in Sibaté, Calí and Barranquilla. See: Colombia bans asbestos.
 

Asbestos: Then and Now

Jul 29, 2019

South Africa has been categorized as the “Mesothelioma Capital of the World” due to the fact that it has the world’s highest rate of mesothelioma, from decades of asbestos mining and use. Thirty per cent of all the patients diagnosed were exposed to asbestos environmentally in the Northern Cape Province. The presence of asbestos-containing products in the region’s schools remains troubling and work to decontaminate the buildings is proceeding slowly. At Delta Primary School as six out of 14 classrooms were contaminated a “partial replacement” remediation program has been scheduled for 2024/25. See: Damaging Effects Of Asbestos Schools In Kimberley.
 

Banning Asbestos!

Jul 26, 2019

At a ceremony in Bogotá, Colombia on July 24, 2019 President Iván Duque formalized the law banning asbestos production, marketing, export, import and distribution by 2021 in the presence of the Minister of Health Juan Pablo Uribe, Senator Nadia Blel, sponsor of the bill, and several Colombians affected by asbestos exposures. The President announced the creation of a commission responsible for phasing out asbestos and ensuring that a just transition took place so that affected workers and their communities would not lose out. See: Presidente Duque sancionó ley que prohíbe el uso del asbesto en Colombia [President Duque passes a law that prohibits the use of asbestos in Colombia].
 

Toxic Talc

Jul 26, 2019

An online article on a Vietnam news portal highlighted the hazard posed by using Johnson & Johnson’s asbestos-contaminated baby powder and included details of research conducted in the United States regarding the risk to consumers as well as the increase in litigation by users whose cancers were alleged to have been caused by daily use of the powder. The author questioned how such a trusted company could have failed to address the situation and warned consumers that it was their responsibility to carefully choose which brands to use. See: Trong sản phẩm Johnson Baby có chứa Amiăng – kẻ giết người thầm lặng [Johnson Baby product contains asbestos - silent killer].
 

Asbestos and the Army

Jul 26, 2019

Up to 1,000 of the 2,600 people diagnosed in the UK with the asbestos cancer mesothelioma every year are Armed Forces personnel; asbestos was commonly used in military vehicles, ships and buildings. To provide those affected with support, Helen Wilkes has been designated as the country’s first clinical nurse specialist to assist serving personnel and veterans affected by asbestos-related diseases. Information she will be providing under the nationwide programme will include material on benefits available, treatment options and the latest clinical trials. This Government-funded initiative is also supported by funding from two mesothelioma charities. See: UK's First Asbestos-Related Cancer Nurse To Focus On Military Patients.
 

Occupational Asbestos Exposure

Jul 26, 2019

An academic paper found that in a cohort of 230 at-risk workers in asbestos manufacturing, construction, building demolition, tsunami clean-up and other trades examined, 16 (7%) had contracted lung fibrosis. Of the injured, 1 was a construction worker, 6 were tsunami workers, 6 came from the demolition industry and 3 from other industries. Sri Lanka has one of the highest consumptions of chrysotile asbestos per capita. The authors expressed a: “significant concern… [for] the safety of asbestos demolition workers and cleanup workers exposed to asbestos debris from major natural disasters such as hurricanes, tornados, typhoons, and tsunamis.” See: Prevalence of Asbestos-Related Disease Among Workers in Sri Lanka.
 

Asbestos Propaganda

Jul 26, 2019

A commentary in the Colombian newspaper “El Spectador” on July 24, 2019 critiqued comments made in an interview with Jorge Enrique Gómez – representative of the company owning Colombia’s only asbestos mine – who alleged that chrysotile (white) asbestos could be used safely due to its “low biopersistance.” This argument – developed by a toxicologist commissioned by asbestos interests – has been discredited by independent scientists and reputable associations and agencies. Gómez’s statement that no mine workers had contracted asbestos-related diseases since the 1980s is erroneous as shown by filmed interviews with two mine workers with asbestosis. See: Aclaraciones sobre la peligrosidad del asbestos [Clarifications on the danger of asbestos].
 

Federal Funding for Asbestos Clinic

Jul 26, 2019

Federal funding of $2.5m for the Center for Asbestos Related Disease (CARD) Clinic in Libby, Montana has been announced, to sustain a pioneering medical screening program for local people who were exposed to asbestos liberated during the operations of the W.R. Grace & Co. vermiculite mine. The money, which is being provided by the Department of Health and Human Services, will be used to pay for chest x-rays, breathing tests and the Clinic’s operational costs as it provides support and security for the population of Libby; hundreds of townspeople have died from asbestos-related diseases and many more have been diagnosed with these diseases. See: Clinic gets $2.5M for asbestos screening.
 

Supreme Court Asbestos Litigation

Jul 24, 2019

On July 19, 2019, the National Association of Labor Attorneys submitted a motion to the Supreme Court (STF) requesting the suspension of a law adopted on July 16, 2019 by the Brazilian asbestos mining State of Goiás – contrary to the 2017 STF ruling prohibiting the commercial exploitation of asbestos – to allow the recommencement of chrysotile asbestos mining. According to lawyer Mauro Menezes: “the law published by … Goiás should be invalidated, because it is a deliberate repetition of content already declared to be unconstitutional (by the Court).” See: ANPT pede no STF suspensão imediata de lei que libera amianto em Goiás [ANPT asks STF for immediate suspension of law that releases asbestos in Goiás].
 

Oesophagus Cancer and Asbestos

Jul 24, 2019

Uralita, formerly one of Spain’s largest manufacturers of asbestos building products, was ordered by the Superior Court of Justice of Catalonia to pay €330,000 to the family of a worker who died from cancer of the oesophagus as a result of occupational exposure to asbestos. According to the Court, the fatal disease was caused by the deceased’s “continuous exposure to asbestos in his workplace.” The case was brought in 2018. See: Uralita pagará más de 330.000 euros a la familia de un trabajador que murió por el Amianto [Uralita will pay more than 330,000 euros to the family of a worker who died from asbestos].
 

Asbestos: The Human Cost

Jul 24, 2019

Data obtained from New Zealand’s Accident Compensation Corporation in response to an enquiry made under the Official Information Act reported that the number of mesothelioma and asbestos-related claims lodged between July 2014 and June 2019 was 1,076, of which 310 applications had been for people who had died of these illnesses. The number of claims lodged for individuals diagnosed with these diseases over the five year period was fairly consistent and averaged 215 per year. Data for accredited employer claims were excluded. See: Accident Compensation Corporation Reply to Freedom of Information Request [Reference: GOV-000716].
 

Toxic Talc at Sumitomo

Jul 24, 2019

On July 19, 2019, an appeals court in Osaka, Japan issued a claimants’ verdict in a case brought over occupational exposure to asbestos-contaminated talc used at a tire factory in Kobe City belonging to Sumitomo Rubber Industries. Damages of 100 million yen (~US$925,000) were awarded to seven former workers or their surviving families; all of the claimants, six of whom have died, had contracted the asbestos-related diseases mesothelioma, asbestosis or lung cancer. See: 住友ゴムのアスベスト訴訟、控訴審は全員勝訴 1億円の支払い命じる [Sumitomo Rubber's asbestos lawsuit, appeals court orders victory payment of 100 million yen].
 

Korea’s Asbestos Legacy

Jul 24, 2019

A commentary on the website of Korea’s Science Times considered the price ordinary citizens had paid for the use of asbestos in Korea and highlighted the disturbing fact that the vast majority (93%) of those who contracted asbestos-related diseases had been exposed non-occupationally. Half of the injured had received toxic exposures living near the asbestos mines in Chungcheongnam-do or living in an area in which naturally occurring asbestos was found. Considering the long latency period of asbestos-related diseases, the author of this text predicted that Korea’s asbestos epidemic would continue for decades to come. See: 불에 타지 않는 ‘석면’과 ‘살라만드라’ [Fireproof ‘Asbestos’ and ‘the Salamandra’ (a Greek mythical animal)].
 

Asbestos in Barcelona

Jul 24, 2019

Work to remove asbestos from seven public buildings in Barcelona, including the headquarters of the Barcelona City Council, will begin this year; the program is scheduled to be completed in 2020 at a cost of €195,000. The contractors have guaranteed that safe conditions for workers and users of municipal buildings will be provided. Asbestos on the Barcelona subway has led to strikes and much negative newspaper coverage this year; medical checks are ongoing for at-risk workers and three retired employees have been diagnosed with lung cancer. See: Barcelona eliminará elementos con amianto de siete edificios municipales [Barcelona will eliminate asbestos elements from seven municipal buildings].
 

Asbestos at Gas Plant

Jul 22, 2019

The discovery of chrysotile asbestos on July 1, 2019 at the Woodside Energy gas plant in Western Australia, the country’s largest gas plant, was blamed on industrial sabotage by the company, which called for a police investigation. The asbestos was contained in 12 gaskets at the Karratha facility. Tests conducted on July 9, confirmed the suspect fiber as chrysotile asbestos. Police were unable to find evidence of criminal activity and no further contamination was discovered. See: Australia’s largest gas and oil plant claims it has been sabotaged in a horrifying act of industrial espionage endangering thousands of workers.
 

Deadly Asbestos Legacy

Jul 22, 2019

A commentary on the website of an online French magazine reflected on the country’s asbestos legacy in light of new findings by Public Health France, which confirmed that 1,100+ people are dying from the asbestos cancer mesothelioma every year. The June 2019 report analysed data over the 20 years since France banned asbestos and confirmed that “exposure to asbestos remains and will remain for several decades to come a major public health issue.” Author Jean-Yves Nau concluded that more needs to be done to inform health professionals of the mesothelioma epidemic and the resources available to support patients diagnosed with this disease. See: Le scandale de l'amiante est une bombe à retardement [The asbestos scandal is a time bomb].
 

Asbestos and Car Mechanics

Jul 22, 2019

A new report by the US newspaper Seattle Post revealed that 1 in 10 auto mechanics are at risk of contracting an asbestos-related disease (ARD) from workplace exposures to asbestos in brakes, heat seals and clutches: “dust found in repair shops and garages contained 2.26%-63.8% asbestos… high amounts of asbestos fibers were found in 75% of shops that performed clutch and brake repairs regularly.” According to recent research undertaken by Dr. Murray Finkelstein, who disputed findings of previous studies that “proved” brake dust did not cause asbestos cancer, auto mechanics have an elevated risk of contracting an ARD. See: Car Mechanics Still Face Asbestos Exposure Risks.
 

Asbestos Workshop

Jul 22, 2019

On June 10-12, 2019, an asbestos workshop was held in Manila by Australian medical and scientific experts on asbestos and asbestos-related diseases and representatives of international bodies including the World Health Agency and the International Labor Organization. The participation of the Australian delegation, which included Professor Ken Takahashi, Dr Yuen Yee Cheng, Dr Kenneth Lee, Dr Anthony Linton, Dr Matthew Soeberg, Dr Ben Johnson, Mrs Jocelyn McLean and Ms Ari Yuen, was facilitated by the Asbestos Diseases Research Institute. See: Asbestos Training Workshop For The Philippines, 10-12 July 2019.
 

Goiás vs. the Supreme Court

Jul 22, 2019

On July 16, 2019, the Governor of the Brazilian asbestos mining state of Goiás Ronaldo Ramos Caiado sanctioned law number 20.514/19 which authorized the recommencement of chrysotile (white) asbestos mining in the State contrary to the 2017 Brazilian Supreme Court ruling banning the production, use, sale and export of asbestos in Brazil. Considering that the parent company of the SAMA asbestos mine, Eternit, SA, had fired all 400 mine workers some weeks ago in light of the national ban, it remains to be seen whether this law has any practical import. See: Mesmo com decisão do STF, Caiado sanciona lei que autoriza amianto em Goiás [Even with STF decision, Caiado sanctioned law that authorizes asbestos in Goiás].
 

Court Vacates Asbestos Case

Jul 19, 2019

On July 18, 2019, investigating judges in Paris dismissed charges against former officials of the automotive supplier Valeo-Ferodo who had been indicted for “homicide and unintentional injuries” over asbestos exposures to 22 employees between 1952 and 2007 in Condé-sur-Noireau (Calvados), France. On July 10, the same Court had dismissed charges over asbestos exposures in a factory owned by Eternit which had employed up to 1,200 workers at sites in Vitry-en-Charolais and Saone-et-Loire. Both decisions are to be appealed by the National Association for the Defense of Asbestos Victims. See: Amiante: les juges ordonnent un non-lieu dans le dossier Valeo-Ferodo [Asbestos: judges order a dismissal in the Valeo-Ferodo case].
 

Ovarian Cancer and Mesothelioma Incidence

Jul 19, 2019

US researchers studied the occurrence of mesothelioma and ovarian cancer in various states using data sourced from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention National Program for Cancer Registries and the National Cancer Institute Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results Program. They found that the incidence of ovarian cancer tended to be higher in states with high mesothelioma incidence and concluded that: “ovarian cancer incidence was positively correlated with mesothelioma incidence, suggesting asbestos may be a common exposure.” The authors of the paper urged that steps be taken to protect people from asbestos exposures at work, at home, at school and in the community. See: Geographic Co-Occurrence of Mesothelioma and Ovarian Cancer Incidence.
 

Phasing Out Asbestos Roofs

Jul 19, 2019

Since the beginning of 2019, efforts to change roofing consumption preferences in rural and mountainous areas of Vietnam, such as Mai Chau, Hang Kia and Pa Co, from asbestos to alternative products have been ongoing, spear-headed by the Farmers’ Association, the Provincial Committee for Ethnic Minorities in Hang Kia and Pa Co areas and (Australia’s) Union Aid Abroad – APHEDA via seminars and outreach initiatives to raise awareness of the health risks posed by asbestos. The Vietnamese Government pledged to stop using chrysotile asbestos roofing sheets from 2023. See: Vào cuộc thay đổi hành vi ngừng sử dụng Amiăng trắng [Changing consumers’ preferences for chrysotile asbestos].
 

Switzerland’s Asbestos Legacy

Jul 19, 2019

A commentary on a Swiss website detailed the costs in human as well as in financial terms of exposures to asbestos in Switzerland; between 2012 and 2016 an average of 120 people per year died from asbestos-related diseases at an annual cost to the Swiss accident insurance scheme of US$100m+. With the long latency periods of these diseases, the death toll will continue to mount. In light of these facts, the author considered why asbestos was still being used in industrializing countries such as India and highlighted the serious flaws in The United Nation’s Rotterdam Convention, a multilateral treaty designed to regulate the trade in pesticides and chemicals. See: L’amiante, un crime mondial [Asbestos, a global crime].
 

Asbestos Stops Work!

Jul 19, 2019

Soil samples from a short stretch of road on the embankments of the Bratislava ring road construction project tested positive for asbestos, a substance banned in Slovakia. The construction company, which was given five days to remove the toxic waste by the authorities, asked for an extension as the laboratory report was 180 pages. The contamination resulted from the use of asbestos-containing waste according to Juan José Bregel: “We (the construction company) bought recycled building material from the only supplier, believing it meets all the legal requirements.” The police twice raided the building site over the asbestos contamination. See: Carcinogenic asbestos found under the Bratislava ring road construction site.
 

Non-Occupational Asbestos Exposure

Jul 19, 2019

A study of lung cancer data from Osasco, a Brazilian city where asbestos had been processed in building products factories, revealed elevated rates of lung cancer mortality in men and women. There was also evidence of increased mortality from tracheal and bronchial cancer in males. The authors found that the study pointed: “to the possibility of increased mortality due to lung cancer in cities exposed to asbestos, especially chrysotile. The surveillance of lung cancer cases and deaths in these areas is strongly recommended.” See: Lung Cancer Mortality Trends in a Brazilian City with a Long History of Asbestos Consumption.
 

Asbestos in Schools

Jul 18, 2019

Following the publication by the Department of Education of data on the “management” of asbestos in schools, teaching unions – the Association of School and College Leaders and the NASUWT – called for a phased asbestos removal program in schools. According to the asbestos survey, to which ~85% of schools responded (19,522), almost one in five schools are failing to comply with UK guidelines for managing asbestos. Speaking on behalf of the NASUWT Chris Keates expressed concern: “that in a significant number of schools, asbestos is still not being managed safely.”...“The Government is,” she said “simply not doing enough to protect staff and pupils.” See: ‘Stopgap’ attitude to asbestos in schools must end.
 

Government U-Turn Welcomed

Jul 18, 2019

A press release by an Italian association representing asbestos victims (AFeVA) on July 15, 2019 welcomed the repeal of provisions in law 145/2018 which had penalized workers in receipt of compensation for accidents or industrial disease; the contentious rules had recouped monies previously paid by INAIL from sums received in an annuity, lump sum payment or reimbursement of expenses. See: Danno Differenziale: con la legge 58/2019 abrogate le norme penalizzanti per il lavoratore previste dalla legge 145/2018 [Differential Damage: with law 58/2019, the penalizing rules for workers laid down by law 145/2018 are repealed].
 

License to Kill

Jul 18, 2019

In an order issued on July 10, 2019, Parisian investigating judges issued a non-suit order for Eternit, formerly the biggest asbestos-cement manufacturer in France with up to 1,200 employees at sites in Vitry-en-Charolais and Saone-et-Loire, ruling that due to the difficulty in establishing the time when claimants were exposed to asbestos, it seemed “impossible to determine who was responsible in the company...and what regulations were required at this unknown date.” Spokespersons for French asbestos victims’ groups said this decision was tantamount to a “license to kill” and would be appealed. See: Scandale de l’amiante: les juges ordonnent un non-lieu dans le dossier Eternit [Asbestos scandal: judges order a dismissal in Eternit case].
 

Toxic Trade

Jul 18, 2019

An online commentary on an Indian news platform reported on two July 14, 2019 Sunday Times (Scotland) articles identifying UK-registered companies associated with the global asbestos trade and cited data regarding shipments of Russian asbestos to Indian ports, pointing out the hypocrisy that, despite the British asbestos ban, companies based there are still profiting from asbestos sales: “Import data reveals that in February, 2,128 tons of ‘chrysotile raw asbestos,’ worth $1.21m were shipped from Russia by or on behalf of CJ Petrow & Co (Pty) Ltd to the Indian ports of Nhava Sheva, near Mumbai, and Mundra.” See: British companies export ‘deadly’ asbestos to India, other countries from offshore offices.
 

Asbestos in Schools

Jul 18, 2019

On July 16, 2019 the Department for Education uploaded information about asbestos in schools including: The Asbestos Management Assurance Process (AMAP) Report, a list of participating schools and responsible bodies (up to 19 June 2019) and 2017 asbestos data collection. The conclusion of the AMAP Report, predictably, downplayed the hazard posed by asbestos remaining in the majority of UK schools concluding: “The analysis has revealed good practice in the majority of schools, but some gaps in the management of asbestos in some schools. We will be verifying responses and addressing points of concern with schools and their responsible bodies, and where appropriate share information with the HSE.” See: Asbestos data collections.
 

Uplift in Asbestos Compensation

Jul 16, 2019

A Brazilian Court has increased the amount of compensation awarded to the estate of an employee of Eternit S.A. to R$600,000 (~US$160,520). The deceased was diagnosed with asbestos cancer 35 years after he left the company. Whilst previous courts had acknowledged Eternit’s liability, the lump sum plus monthly pension awarded had been thought insufficient by the family. In the new verdict, the judge wrote: “The main purpose of compensation for moral damages is not only to compensate for the victim's suffering, but also to punish the offender in a pedagogical way, discouraging the repetition of practices considered abusive.” See: Empresa indenizará por morte de ex-funcionário exposto a Amianto [Company to pay for death of former employee exposed to asbestos].
 

Ban Asbestos, Say 18 States

Jul 16, 2019

A letter sent on July 12, 2019 by Attorney Generals from 18 US States to high-ranking members of the House of Representatives called on them to support moves for a national ban on asbestos. H.R. Bill 1603 would prohibit the manufacture, processing, and distribution of asbestos in the US, effectively reinstating the ban the Environmental Protection Agency adopted in 1989 and later vacated as a result of industry-backed litigation. The letter was addressed to members of the H.R. Committee on Energy and Commerce and Subcommittee on Environment and Climate Change. See: 18 States Call on Congress to Ban Asbestos!.
 

Kent’s Asbestos Legacy

Jul 16, 2019

Campaigners highlighted the incidence of asbestos-related disease in Kent due to occupational exposures at the Chatham dockyards and the presence of asbestos in local schools at a conference this month (July 2019) in Chatham. Seventy percent of Medway’s schools still have asbestos-containing products in the walls, ceilings, floors and window frames. According to former physics teacher and campaigner John Reeves: “Just slamming a door or putting a drawing pin into a wall can send deadly particles spinning through the air in classrooms.” The HSE advice to leave these products undisturbed is, he said, “rubbish”. See: Thousands of Medway's children and teachers at risk from asbestos in schools.
 

Protecting At-Risk Populations

Jul 16, 2019

On July 15, 2019, work began on an “asbestos health impact survey” in the Gangjeong-ri area in South Korea’s Gyeonggi-do Province. One hundred and fifty local residents over 50 years old who had lived within a 2 km radius of an a abandoned asbestos mine for 10 years or more were interviewed by staff from the Asan Medical Center, Cheonan Hospital, Soonchunhyang University. This initiative was part of a program to minimize the effects of historical asbestos exposures under the country’s Asbestos Damage Relief Act. See: 청양군, 석면 피해주민 보호 [Cheongyang, asbestos damage protection].
 

Peritoneal mesothelioma in Lombardy

Jul 16, 2019

In a newly published paper, Italian scientists have reported on their study of data from peritoneal mesothelioma (PeM) patients in the Lombardy region of Italy in the British Medical Journal. PeM cases diagnosed between 2000 and 2015 were identified using data sourced from the regional mesothelioma registry. The authors concluded: “Using two different methods of exposure assessment we provided evidence of a clear association between asbestos exposure and PeM risk in the general population.” See: Peritoneal mesothelioma and asbestos exposure: a population-based case–control study in Lombardy, Italy.
 

Toxic Talc

Jul 16, 2019

According to news reported by Bloomberg online, the U.S. Justice Department and a grand jury in Washington are investigating whether Johnson & Johnson (J&J) officials knew about the cancer risk of the asbestos contamination of their products. The criminal investigation had not been reported previously and the news of this action has impacted on the company’s share price. There are estimated to be 14,000 lawsuits ongoing alleging that the use of J&J’s baby powder caused cases of the asbestos cancer mesothelioma and ovarian cancer. See: J&J Denials of Asbestos in Baby Powder Spur Criminal Probe.
 

Supporting the Asbestos-Injured

Jul 15, 2019

The asbestos ban bill just signed into law by Colombia’s President included provisions to create: a National Commission for the Substitution of Asbestos – made up of representatives from the Ministries of Environment and Sustainable Development, Health and Social Protection, Trade, Industry and Tourism, Mines and Energy, and Work, as well as individuals from civil society organizations – and a Comprehensive Care Protocol for Persons Exposed to Asbestos intended to provide information and guidance on available resources, appropriate treatments and the legal rights of the injured. See: Presidente sanciona Ley que prohíbe el uso del asbesto en Colombia [President sanctions Law that prohibits the use of asbestos in Colombia].
 

Paying for Mesothelioma Treatment?

Jul 15, 2019

Former Montreal University employee 66-year old Sandra Ohayon was diagnosed with the asbestos cancer mesothelioma 10 years ago, having been exposed to asbestos whilst at work. The disease had been in remission but returned in 2018. Ms. Ohayon is calling on the State to pay for experimental immunotherapy treatment based on the use of pembrolizumab, a product manufactured by the Merck company, at a cost exceeding $100,000. The University of Montreal denies responsibility for Ms. Ohayon’s health problems and will not pay for her healthcare costs. See: Exposition à l'amiante: “Je me bats pour ma survie” [Exposure to asbestos: “I am fighting to live”].
 

Toxic Tourism

Jul 15, 2019

Despite warnings regarding the deadly risks posed by visiting the “most contaminated place on the planet” – the former asbestos mining town of Wittenoom, in Western Australia’s Pilbara – tourists continue to make ill-advised trips to the town. Despite its remoteness, inaccessibility and delisting, Wittenoom remains a tourist attraction. According to former Pilbara MP Larry Graham: “The truth is there is not one good reason why anyone should do anything other than put a bulldozer through the joint. It cannot be cleaned up, it is extraordinarily dangerous, and it is the most contaminated place on the planet.” See: Tourists won’t stop visiting Australian ghost town where 2,000 people died – even though the toxic air can kill.
 

Environmental Asbestos Hazard

Jul 15, 2019

At a hearing in Rome last week convened by Minister of Health Dr. Giulia Grillo, campaigners from Casale Monferrato documented the human cost of asbestos exposures, noting that 4,000 Italians died every year from asbestos-related diseases; 1,200 of these deaths were caused by mesothelioma. With 30 million tonnes of asbestos still in the country’s infrastructure and environment, more deaths – many of which from non-occupational exposures – will occur. In other words, it is as if an entire municipality is being killed off every year. See: Milioni di tonnellate nell'ambiente… l'Italia sepolta dall'amianto. I numeri da brivido [Millions of tons in the environment… Italy buried by asbestos. The shocking numbers].
 

Hazardous Removal Practices?

Jul 15, 2019

Neighbors living near a derelict cinema in Barcelona which is undergoing asbestos remediation with the removal of toxic roofing, have called upon the municipal authorities for the implementation of more effective measures to prevent the liberation of asbestos fibers during the work, saying that security measures in place to protect local people are “absolutely insufficient” to guarantee the non-dispersion of asbestos fibers. The health of up to 1,000 local people could be endangered by failures to control toxic emissions at this work site. See: Vecinos del antiguo cine Urgell de Barcelona piden más medidas para protegerles del Amianto [Neighbors of the old Urgell cinema in Barcelona ask for more measures to protect them from asbestos].
 

Asbestos Use in Trumpworld

Jul 11, 2019

A commentary in the July 10, 2019 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine has detailed the threat posed by the Trump administration’s liberalization of regulations on the use of asbestos-containing products and warned of the hazards posed by “the continued use of asbestos in chemical manufacturing as well as in gaskets and brakes,” the renewal of asbestos mining, and continued import of asbestos. “We fear,” the authors conclude “that another generation of American workers will be exposed to asbestos and that a new wave of unnecessary, preventable diseases and deaths will follow.” See: A Most Reckless Proposal — A Plan to Continue Asbestos Use in the United States.
 

Legal Victory in Asbestos Case

Jul 11, 2019

A personal injury asbestos case, complicated by toxic exposures at multiple worksites, was won in a Madrid court on behalf of mesothelioma sufferer C. Guillen who had, since 1975, been exposed to chrysotile asbestos whilst employed as an electrician. The 61-year old was diagnosed in 2017 and is now receiving medical treatment for the cancer. The court ruled that his “exposure to asbestos was continuous and prolonged over time.” See: Nueva sentencia que declara el mesotelioma de un afectado por amianto como enfermedad professional [New ruling declaring mesothelioma of one affected by asbestos as occupational disease].
 

Asbestos in Schools

Jul 11, 2019

In a new article by Professor Andrew Watterson – who has studied the global costs of asbestos use for a number of years on behalf of the World Health Organization – the hazards posed by the asbestos contamination of UK schools is reaffirmed and readers are reminded that there is no safe levels of exposure to asbestos, an acknowledged carcinogen. The author concludes that: “Managing and maintaining asbestos in schools looks likely to continue being a problem, so the commitment to high-quality asbestos removal as the best solution to such a serious health hazard seems the best precautionary approach.” See: Asbestos in schools: what you need to know.
 

Specialist Care for Mesothelioma Patients

Jul 10, 2019

In a bid to speed up diagnosis and treatment of patients in Scotland with mesothelioma, a new plan has been implemented for all patients referred to the Scottish Mesothelioma Network. Under the scheme, patients will be provided with access to a dedicated mesothelioma clinical nurse specialist, who will deliver enhanced support locally for patients and carers. Network staff, based in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Inverness, Dundee and Aberdeen, will communicate at weekly multi-disciplinary team meetings to discuss patients’ progress and consider treatment options. See: All Scottish mesothelioma patients to get dedicated nurse specialist.
 

Source of Toxic Cosmetics

Jul 10, 2019

Taiwan’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced on July 9, 2019 that five cosmetic products – including eyeshadows, compact powder and contour palettes and a Jo Jo Siwa’s Makeup set sold by Claire’s Stores Inc. – identified in the US and Canada as containing tremolite and chrysotile asbestos fibers had been made in Taiwan. An FDA spokesperson Huang Wei-sheng named the Taiwan company, saying that most of its products were exported. Nevertheless, the firm was told by the FDA to recall all the toxic items from sale in Taiwan. See: Cosmetics containing carcinogenic asbestos made by Taiwanese firm.
 

State Asbestos Ban in India?

Jul 10, 2019

According to an online news report, on July 1, 2019 the Chief Minister for the Indian State of Bihar, Nitish Kumar told the state assembly that strong action was needed over the hazard posed by the construction of plants manufacturing asbestos products in the State and said that Bihar was considering a ban on the use of all kinds of asbestos and asbestos-containing products. Two asbestos factories are located in Bihiya, Bhojpur and are operated by Ramco Industries Ltd., a company headquartered in Tamil Nadu. See: Campaign ‘victory’: Bihar considers ban on asbestos, carcinogenic to humans.
 

Asbestos in Schools

Jul 10, 2019

Following the publication by Public Health France of data documenting the country’s asbestos epidemic, schoolteacher Cyril Verlingue spoke out about the toxic conditions in the Georges Brassens high school where deteriorating asbestos-containing products put the lives of children and staff at risk. Concerned parents and staff throughout the country have founded a campaigning group, Asbestos Schools Emergency (see: Urgence Amiante Ecoles); they say asbestos is present in 85% of the schools in France. See: Amiante dans les écoles: “On n'imaginait pas qu'on ouvrait une boîte de Pandore” [Asbestos in schools: “We could not imagine opening a Pandora's box”].
 

Posthumous Legal Victory

Jul 9, 2019

When Deanna Trevarthen died in 2016 from mesothelioma, aged only 45, her family carried on the legal battle that Deanna had started. Deanna had been exposed to asbestos brought home on her father’s work clothes and had sought compensation from the Accident Compensation Corporation New Zealand (ACC) for medical bills, lump sum plus weekly compensation payments and funeral costs. On July 8, 2019 a High Court judge ruled that Ms. Trevarthen was eligible for ACC cover. According to the family’s lawyer, this was a significant decision as it extended ACC cover to mesothelioma victims with secondary rather than occupational exposure to asbestos. See: ‘Hug of death’ asbestos case ACC win fulfils a promise to victim.
 

UK’s Asbestos Crisis

Jul 9, 2019

An article in The Guardian Online’s edition of July 7, 2019 reported that: “The death toll from asbestos exposure has reached crisis levels in Britain … as people pay the price for ‘criminal failings by industry and government’ made decades ago.” The article quoted the latest HSE mortality statistics: 2,523 Britons died from mesothelioma, the signature cancer associated with asbestos exposure, in 2017; mesothelioma rates doubled between 1995 and 2017. Interviews with mesothelioma sufferers Mavis Nye and John Chapman personalized the human tragedies behind these statistics. See: Britain’s death toll from asbestos at crisis level, figures reveal.
 

Writing History!

Jul 9, 2019

A book published in April 2019 in São Paulo entitled Eternidade – A Construção Social do Banimento do Amianto no Brasil [Eternit – The Social Construction of the Brazilian Asbestos Ban] is now available on the website of the Brazilian Association of the Asbestos-Exposed. The book details the struggle by victims to achieve justice for the injured, promote research and campaign to ban asbestos. Individual chapters focus on mobilization in the cities of Osasco, Sao Caetano do Sul, Rio de Janeiro, Curitiba, Londrina, Goias, Recife, Pedro Leopoldo, and Simoes Filho e Bom Jesus da Serra. See: Eternidade – A Construção Social do Banimento do Amianto no Brasil [Eternit – The Social Construction of the Brazilian Asbestos Ban].
 

Uganda’s Asbestos Challenges

Jul 9, 2019

A commentary on July 7, 2019 in The Daily Monitor, an independent daily newspaper in Uganda, called on government officials and private citizens to address the hazards posed by the presence of asbestos-containing material throughout the country’s infrastructure. Asbestos contamination is rife in schools, private homes, police stations and street markets; the Central Market in Entebbe is roofed with asbestos-cement products. The author quoted information from the Health and Safety Executive (UK) and the World Health Organization to substantiate the carcinogenic hazard of human exposures to asbestos. See: It’s time to act on asbestos.
 

Asbestos Dumping in Sicily

Jul 9, 2019

According to an online article, the illegal dumping of toxic waste is common throughout Sicily. In March, 2018, lawyer Aldo Ganci reported the illegal dumping of asbestos waste in the Sorciaro district of Priolo Gargallo, a commune in Syracuse, to Francesco Paolo Giordano, the Public Prosecutor of Syracuse. Despite Ganci’s report, the evidence he provided and the photographs of the debris he submitted, to date nothing has been done to remediate the site. See: Priolo. Discariche abusive amianto e rifiuti pericolosi, Aldo Ganci: “Purtroppo, le denunce finiscono nel nulla [Priolo. Asbestos illegal dumping and hazardous waste, Aldo Ganci: “Unfortunately, the complaints end up in nothing”].
 

Asbestos in Schools

Jul 9, 2019

An article which discussed the hazard posed by the presence of asbestos-containing products in UK schools detailed the campaign by trade unionists and health and safety activists for a phased removal of asbestos from schools. The article reported comments from “leading cancer expert” Professor Julian Peto that “the campaign to get asbestos removed from all schools in the UK is unnecessary and could cause more deaths.” Disputing Peto’s position, Chairperson of the Asbestos in Schools Group said: “There’s no central database of where asbestos is and what condition it’s in, so he’s making a presumption based on what?” See: Leading cancer expert says campaign to remove asbestos from schools could cause more deaths.
 

Asbestos Trade Deal

Jul 8, 2019

On July 5, 2019, representatives of the Russian asbestos producer Uralasbest and Cuban businessman Erich Rodriguez signed a trade deal in the Russian asbestos mining town of Asbest agreeing that 6,000 tons of asbestos would be exported to Cuba by the end of the year, with the first consignment of 1,000 tons being shipped in July 2019. During his visit, Rodriguez was given a guided tour of the open-pit mine, the processing plant and the company’s museum. According to Yury Kozlov, General Director of Uralasbest, the agreement signalled the end to concerns regarding global efforts to ban asbestos. See: Ураласбест» поставит на Кубу более 6 тысяч тонн хризотила [Uralasbest “will deliver to Cuba more than 6 thousand tons of chrysotile”].
 

Asbestos Substitutes

Jul 8, 2019

An article highlighting the popularity of asbestos roofing in Vietnam’s rural areas examines efforts to spread awareness of the hazards posed by human exposures to asbestos – quoting WHO data and Vietnamese technical experts – and the increasing availability and price differential of safer alternatives such as non-toxic polymer plastic fiber materials. The serious health hazard posed by the ingestion of rainwater collected from asbestos-cement roofs is discussed. See: Vật liệu thay thế amiăng [Asbestos replacement materials].
 

Asbestos Removal Initiative

Jul 8, 2019

An Environmental Protection and Water Management Fund for Lower Silesea, in southwestern Poland, has announced a competition for local municipalities for ~US$1.5 million of funding for the removal and disposal of asbestos-containing waste; over the last 8 years, the fund has financed the removal of 26,000 tons of asbestos waste. To be eligible for the grants, cities must have asbestos audits and a removal program approved by the local council. Poland has set a deadline of 2032 for the removal and disposal of all asbestos-containing products. See: Miliony na usuwanie odpadów zawierających azbest [Millions for the disposal of asbestos-containing waste].
 

Post-Asbestos Colombia

Jul 8, 2019

An interview with Camilo Araque, one of the leaders of the ban asbestos movement in Colombia, considered how, after multiple attempts to outlaw asbestos in Colombia, asbestos prohibitions were finally approved in June 2019. Araque discussed the nationwide efforts made to raise asbestos awareness and the importance of key campaigning groups such as Greenpeace Colombia and the Foundation set up in the name of Ana Cecilia Niño, a Colombian journalist who died from the asbestos cancer mesothelioma in 2017. See: El desmonte: la nueva batalla que se debe librar contra el asbestos [Remediation: the new battle that must be fought against asbestos].
 

Asbestos Removal

Jul 8, 2019

Rita Andrade, the Secretary of Social Inclusion and Social Affairs of the Government of Madeira, an autonomous region of Portugal, last week told the Legislative Assembly of Madeira that 34,000 square meters of asbestos-containing material had been removed from the region’s social housing; this remediation was undertaken in compliance with a plan to remove asbestos from properties in Madeira. See: Amianto totalmente retirado dos bairros sociais da Madeira [Asbestos totally removed from the social districts of Madeira].
 

Strong Demand for Chrysotile Asbestos

Jul 5, 2019

An analysis by the Eurasian Economic Commission – an association based in Russia and representing the interests of Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Russia – of current trends in the global chrysotile asbestos market reported that for the first quarter of 2019, 237,500 tonnes (t) of chrysotile asbestos were produced by member states with 186,300t (worth $52m) exported to India, China, Uzbekistan, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Vietnam, Ukraine, Bangladesh and others. See: Производимый предприятиями ЕАЭС хризотиловый асбест является высоко конкурентоспособным на мировом рынке [Chrysotile asbestos produced by enterprises of the EAEU is highly competitive in the global market].
 

Asbestos in Schools

Jul 5, 2019

In a somewhat bizarre coincidence, a front page article about the UK’s asbestos in schools scandal appeared in The Guardian newspaper on Action Mesothelioma Day (July 5), a day when asbestos victims’ groups and charities throughout England, Scotland and Wales will be holding information sessions, public rallies, ecumenical services and other activities to remember those whose lives have been lost due to asbestos exposures. The article reported that 700 schools, attended by thousands of students, had been reported to the Health and Safety Executive over concerns that they were failing to manage asbestos safely. See: Revealed: the asbestos risk at hundreds of schools.
 

Asbestos Hearing in Korea

Jul 5, 2019

On July 3, 2019, an asbestos hearing was held at the Congressional office building in Seoul; the event was organized by the Ban Asbestos Network of Korea. In attendance were officials from 4 relevant ministries. Asbestos victims from all over the country, including a 29 year old male mesothelioma victim, gave testimony about the impact of asbestos exposures on their lives. To date, 4,000 cases of asbestos-related disease have been recognized by the Government. Asbestos was mined in Korea at 17 mines, including the largest asbestos mine in Asia. More than 10,000 schools still contain asbestos. See: '석면 질환' 잠복기 최소 10년 이상…피해자 증가 우려 [‘Asbestos disease’ incubation period at least 10 years ... Concerns about increased victims].
 

Colombia’s Asbestos Ban

Jul 5, 2019

An article uploaded on July 4, 2019 confirmed that Colombia’s President Iván Duque Márquez will “very soon” sign into law ban asbestos legislation finalized and approved by Congress in mid-June 2019. Once this has been done, asbestos users will have until January 1, 2021 to make the transition to asbestos-free technologies. The law is named after Ana Cecilia Niño, a Colombian journalist and ban asbestos activist who died from the asbestos cancer mesothelioma in 2017. See: El presidente Duque sancionará la ley que prohíbe el uso de asbestos en Colombia [President Duque will sanction asbestos ban law in Colombia].
 

British Asbestos Mortality

Jul 5, 2019

Data released by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) on July 3, 2019, reported a provisional estimate for the number of British deaths from mesothelioma in 2017 as 2,523 [Annex I, page 13]. In 2016, there were 2,595 mesothelioma deaths; the 2017 figures show a fall in mortality of 72 or ~3%. It is premature to conclude that this decrease is symbolic of a long-term trend. Based on previous HSE guidelines, this figure suggests that when combined with other asbestos-related deaths, more than 5,000 people per year are dying from these avoidable diseases. See: Workplace fatal injuries in Great Britain, 2019.
 

Asbestos Fight-back by Industry

Jul 4, 2019

As support for a ban on the use of chrysotile asbestos for roofing grows in Vietnam, with a deadline set of 2023 to phase-out all use, multiple efforts are being made by vested interests to effect a U-turn in government policy, including a junket from Vietnam led by a Deputy Minister of Construction Nguyen Van Xin to visit the chrysotile mine in the Urals and a propaganda offensive in the Vietnamese press (see: https://khoahocdoisong.vn/amiang-trang-hai-hay-khong-124034.html). According to press reports, Deputy Minister Nguyen Van Xin said that the purpose of the visit was to learn about the “controlled use of asbestos” as practised in Russia. See: Замминистра Вьетнама прибыл на Урал за горным льном [Chrysotile asbestos brings Vietnamese Deputy Minister to the Urals].
 

Asbestos in Schools

Jul 4, 2019

An article in the Mirror newspaper on July 1, 2019 reported that a recent investigation had revealed that pupils and staff at more than 5,200 primary schools in England remained at risk of asbestos exposures. In addition to the 13 local authorities which reported that they did not have asbestos audits of schools under their control, academies and free schools were exempted from the survey as they were not required to report to their local education authority on asbestos. Since 1980, 319+ teachers have died from the asbestos cancer, mesothelioma; 65% of these deaths occurred since 2001. See: Asbestos danger at 5,000 primary schools puts children and teachers at risk.
 

Asbestos Hearing in Brasilia

Jul 4, 2019

On July 2, 2019, a hearing in the Chamber of Deputies in Brasilia took place, hosted by federal deputy Nilto Tatto, to discuss the struggle for Brazil’s asbestos ban and the recognition and treatment of the injured, with presentations from: ban asbestos activist Fernanda Giannasi, President of the Association of the Asbestos-Exposed Eliezer João de Souza, medical experts Ubiratan de Paula Santos and Rene Mendes, Dr. Marcia Lopez Aliaga (Labor Prosecutor and Head of Asbestos Ban Program), Marcos Lopes Martins, former state deputy and author of Law No. 12,684 which prohibited asbestos in São Paulo State. See: Nesta terça, Câmara faz audiência sobre o processo de banimento do amianto no Brasil [This Tuesday, the Chamber is hearing about the process of banning asbestos in Brazil].
 

City Asbestos Removal

Jul 4, 2019

On July 1, 2019, the Italian Municipality of Cascina activated a free service to enable citizens to dispose of small amounts of asbestos-containing material from panels, slabs, tanks and chimneys at the Navacchio landfill without the use of specialized removal or disposal companies, provided that strict procedures are followed; this service can be accessed three times a year. Disposal of friable asbestos products such as pipe and boiler insulation, gaskets, ceiling insulation, asbestos dust, and asbestos-cardboard panels is not permitted under the scheme. See: Amianto: via libera allo smaltimento fai-da-te [Asbestos: green light for DIY disposal].
 

Asbestos Challenge to EPA

Jul 3, 2019

On July 1, 2019 the California Attorney General Xavier Becerra and Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey and 9 other State Attorney Generals filed a lawsuit challenging the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) failure to initiate rulemaking to regulate asbestos. The litigants had previously petitioned the EPA to implement new protocols for data collection on asbestos import and use (Full 63-page complaint). See: Attorney General Becerra Files Lawsuit to Force EPA to Issue Rule on Toxic Asbestos.
 

Asbestos Demonstration in Russia

Jul 3, 2019

A demonstration took place in the village of Severny, in the Urals district of Russia, on June 29, 2019 over asbestos emissions from a factory owned by oligarch Sergey Shmotiev. According to campaigner Andrey Gostev the company’s use of asbestos, a class 1 carcinogen, and dumping of contaminated waste was of great concern to local residents. The protesters accused the company’s owners of sacrificing the lives of workers and members of the public: “While the officials are getting fat, we are choking and dying.” See: Они жируют, а мы умираем». На Урале прошёл митинг против власти и олигарха Об этом сообщает [“They are getting fat and we are dying.” (Asbestos) rally in the Urals against the government and the oligarch].
 

Court Victory!

July 3, 2019

A ruling by a Toulouse administrative court on June 28, 2019 was widely welcomed by local groups and campaigners in Couflens in the French Pyrenees who have for years been raising objections to the recommencement of operations at the Salau tungsten mine, which is known to be contaminated with actinolite and tremolite asbestos. The verdict brought to an end four years of litigation over the mine; the case for the company Varsican Mines had been supported by Emmanuel Macron, then Minister of the Economy. Between 1972 and 1986, workers at the mine were exposed to asbestos as a result of which some contracted diseases such as asbestosis and cancers. See: France: Tungsten mine contaminated with asbestos will not re-open.
 

Asbestos on the Metro

Jul 3, 2019

Asbestos contamination of the Barcelona Metro has been the subject of several media reports this year. It was announced last week that on July 5 & 6, 2019 contractors working for the Public Health Agency of Barcelona will undertake sampling at four stations – Catalonia, Passeig de Gràcia, Liceu and Torrassa – lasting between four and eight hours to ascertain whether the asbestos in vehicles and stations has resulted in airborne contamination endangering passengers as well as Metro personnel. See: Catalunya, Passeig de Gràcia, Liceu i Torrassa: les primeres estacions on s'analitzarà la presència d'amiant [Catalunya, Passeig de Gràcia, Liceu and Torrassa: the first stations where the presence of asbestos will be analysed].
 

Asbestos in Schools

Jul 3, 2019

A commentary on a new report by Public Health France, part of the Ministry of Health, which documented the mesothelioma incidence since the country banned asbestos, highlighted the consequences of exposure to asbestos in schools, noting that there were 20 deaths per year from mesothelioma due to occupational school exposures. Asbestos contamination is widespread throughout the educational infrastructure; products installed in the 1970s are now deteriorating. Calls were made for transparency and proactive measures to be taken about the contamination by the Ministry of Education. See: Amiante dans les écoles: des premiers chiffres inquiétants [Asbestos in schools: disturbing preliminary figures].
 

Rise in Asbestos-Free Technology

Jul 2, 2019

At a meeting in the capital building of Bashkiria, a Russian Republic, Director of the Sterlitamak Slate LLC Ivan Dubrovin announced last week that his company was investing in technology to manufacture “environmentally friendly” asbestos-free cement building products – facades, roofing and materials for interior decoration –suitable for export; work on the transfer of all production to asbestos-free products had begun and one production line was already making the safer products. See: В Стерлитамаке запустят производство фиброцемента и экологически чистого шифера [Production of fiber cement and environmentally friendly slate will be launched in Sterlitamak].
 

Industry Propaganda Offensive

Jul 2, 2019

The Vietnam Roofing Association, an asbestos lobbying association, has engaged in a media blitz, bombarding news outlets with “proof” that: chrysotile asbestos can be used safely in Vietnam since once incorporated into a cement matrix asbestos fibers cannot be liberated and no one in the country has died from exposures to chrysotile (white) asbestos. The purpose of this initiative was to delay government plans to outlaw the production and use of chrysotile-containing roofing sheets by 2023 as per the country’s asbestos roadmap. Interviews with Vietnamese experts supporting the asbestos ban are featured in the following article. See: Amiăng trắng - hại hay không? [Is chrysotile harmful or not?].
 

20th Anniversary of Britain’s Asbestos Ban

Jul 2, 2019

A special issue of the British Asbestos Newsletter was published for Action Mesothelioma Day 2019 which examined data, developments and grassroots initiatives in the twenty years since Britain banned asbestos. The eight-page essay included an original timeline listing landmark events from 1898 till 2019, such as the first factory inspector’s report about the “evil effects” of occupational asbestos exposures, the publication of key research papers and the formation of asbestos victims groups and asbestos charities in England, Scotland and Wales. See: British Asbestos Newsletter. Spring/Summer 2019, Issue 109.
 

Book Launch in Rio de Janeiro

Jul 2, 2019

An iconic book entitled Eternidade: the Social construction of Brazil’s asbestos ban was launched at a public hearing in the Chamber of Deputies in Rio de Janeiro June 28, 2019. The event, hosted by Carlos Minc – formerly Minister of the Environment and a Deputy and Secretary of the Environment of Rio de Janeiro State – featured presentations by author Marina Moura, President of the Brazilian Association of the Asbestos-Exposed (ABREA) Eliezer João de Souza and ABREA Co-founder Fernanda Giannasi. ABREA members were in attendance. See: Livro sobre a luta pelo banimento do amianto no Brasil será lançado na Alerj, sexta-feira (28/6) [Book on the fight for banning asbestos in Brazil will be launched at Rio’s Legislative Assembly on Friday (28/6)].
 

Asbestos Removal in Toledo

Jul 2, 2019

After years of campaigning by local people from groups such as the Association of Neighbors El Tajo and the Platform My Neighborhood Without Asbestos, officials from the Ministry of Environment of the Regional Government of Castilla-La Mancha have agreed to remediate up to 15,000 cubic meters of asbestos debris dumped in the Polígono neighborhood of Toledo, Spain meters from several apartment buildings. After further inspection and planning, work will begin in the autumn 2019 and is expected to take five months. See: La Junta retirará todo el amianto de Laguna de Arcas (Polígono) tras encontrar 10.000 m3 más de restos [The Board will remove all asbestos from Laguna de Arcas (Polygon) after finding 10,000 m3 more waste].
 

Asbestos Mining: The Legacy

Jul 1, 2019

An article published on June 27, 2019 documented the tragic reality – long denied by the asbestos mining company and the trade union it controlled – that exposures to asbestos at Brazil’s chrysotile (white) asbestos mine in Minaçu had killed generations of workers, family members and local people. Albertino de Oliveira, who had worked at the mine from 1973 till 1988 bagging asbestos fibers, has lost 7 family members to asbestos-related diseases; the deceased – his wife, father, brother, three uncles and a cousin – had all worked at the mine. Although some information in the article has been rendered redundant – mining operations having ceased earlier this year (2019) – the description of the human tragedy caused by the commercial exploitation of asbestos in Minaçu is accurate. See: The Mine that Kills.
 

Indonesia’s Asbestos Landscape

Jul 1, 2019

Grassroots groups, including the Indonesian Ban Asbestos Network (INA-BAN) and the Local Initiative for OHS Network (LION), campaigning to prevent asbestos deaths in Indonesia have reported that asbestos usage is increasing and that the country now consumes 17% of global annual asbestos production, making it the world’s second largest importing nation. Efforts to raise awareness of the asbestos hazard and prevent exposures are ongoing and include asbestos outreach programs and collaboration with government ministries and relief organizations as well as participation in global asbestos eradication activities. See: Campaign to end asbestos in Indonesia intensifies as imports increase.
 

Mesothelioma in France

Jul 1, 2019

Epidemiological data on mesothelioma was published on June 27, 2019 by Public Health France covering the period since asbestos was banned (1998-2017). Certain geographical areas and occupational groups were at higher risks, such as people in the North, North-West and South-East of the country and construction workers. In the last 20 years, there was a doubling of cases in women, with 310 female mesothelioma deaths recorded in 1997. “Exposure to asbestos is and will remain for several decades a major public health issue,” the report concluded. See: Exposition à l’amiante et mésothéliome pleural. Retour sur 20 ans de surveillance [Asbestos exposure and pleural mesothelioma. Reflecting on 20 years of surveillance].
 

UK Mesothelioma News

Jul 1, 2019

The Summer 2019 issue of Mesothelioma Matters was uploaded on June 28, 2019 by Mesothelioma UK in time for the week-long activities marking Action Mesothelioma Day to be held between June 28 and July 7, 2019. The 28-page publication covers a wide range of subjects, including the very latest news about UK mesothelioma clinical trials, the use of new therapies such as cannabis oil to treat symptoms, the events being planned to mark Action Mesothelioma Day 2019 and topical features authored by legal as well as medical and nutritional experts. Information on the work of asbestos victims’ groups is included as is news of awards given for mesothelioma research projects. See: Mesothelioma Matters.
 

Healthcare for Asbestos Workers

Jul 1, 2019

A medical surveillance program for workers exposed to asbestos whilst employed by the Brazilian asbestos manufacturer Brasilit has been set up pursuant to a court agreement whereby the company agreed to provide healthcare for the asbestos-exposed. Brasilit employees and former employees from the cities of Belém, Capivari, Contagem, Esteio, Recife, São Caetano do Sul and Rio de Janeiro can use the new website to apply for free periodic medical examinations. The website will be active until 2032. See: Após acordo de R$ 25 milhões, Brasilit cria site para cadastrar ex-funcionários expostos a Amianto [After agreement of R$ 25 million, Brasilit creates site to register former employees exposed to asbestos].
 

Progressing an Asbestos Ban!

Jun 28, 2019

On June 27, 2019, Cambodia’s National Asbestos Profile was launched in Phnom Penh by the Minister of Labour and Vocational Training (MOLVT) Ith Samheng in the presence of 200+ people from key ministries, trade unions employers and members of the Cambodia Ban Asbestos Network. The document, which was two years in the making, was the result of collaboration by 13 Ministries, trade unions, international experts and others; it highlighted categories of workers at high risk of contracting asbestos-related diseases and cited international evidence regarding the deadly hazard posed by asbestos exposures. See: Media Release. Launch of Cambodian National Asbestos Profile.
 

Mesothelioma Case Report

Jun 28, 2019

What is believed to be the first case of malignant mesothelioma from the Central African region was reported in the June 2019 issue of Environmental Research, a peer-reviewed environmental science and environmental health journal. The patient was a 39-year-old man who died from mesothelioma of the peritoneum in Lubumbashi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Postmortem research revealed that his childhood home on a housing estate belonging to a copper mining company where his father worked in Kambove had been covered with asbestos-cement roofing. Samples of roofing obtained contained chrysotile and crocidolite fibers. See: Malignant mesothelioma in Sub-Saharan Africa: A case report from Lubumbashi, DR Congo.
 

Asbestos-free Board Production Increase

Jun 28, 2019

Visaka Industries Ltd., India’s second biggest manufacturer of asbestos-cement roofing, announced on June 25, 2019 that it was increasing investment and expanding production in Tamil Nadu of asbestos-free boards under the brand name Vnext; Vnext products are used for wall panelling, dry walls, partitions, false ceilings and other building applications. The new plant, which will be completed in 15 months, will increase production of Vnext boards by almost 30% from 170,000 to 220,000 tonnes. Other Vnext plants are in Telangana, Maharashtra and Haryana. Vnext is marketed as “eco-friendly” and is exported to countries in the Middle East and Africa. See: Visaka Industries to commission ₹100 crore plant for Vnext products in Tamil Nadu.
 

Asbestos at the Naval Yard

Jun 28, 2019

On June 20, 2019, a lawsuit was filed in the US District Court for the District of Guam by mesothelioma victim Eusebio Jacob and his wife Marta against Rockwell Automation, Inc. and Plastics Engineering Company which, he alleged, supplied products containing asbestos that he used between 1962 and 1985 when he worked as a journeyman electrician at the Navy Ship Repair Facility in Guam. According to the plaintiff’s attorney, during his employment Mr. Jacob “was repeatedly exposed to great quantities of asbestos, asbestos dust and asbestos fibers” in products purchased by the US Navy and the Guam Navy Ship Repair Facility from these companies. See: Former electrician sues companies alleging asbestos exposure while working on Navy ships.
 

Asbestos: Public Health Threat

Jun 28, 2019

A paper published in May 2019 by European researchers considered why the public health threat posed by exposure to asbestos has failed to mobilize governments in so many countries to implement prohibitions on asbestos use and adopt measures to expedite the remediation of contaminated buildings and sites. The authors conclude that: “Policymakers should also raise public awareness of asbestos using measures of the sort that have been adopted for smoking, sun exposure, and unsafe sex. Finally, policymakers should promote the safe and swift removal of asbestos from society by subsidizing asbestos testing and abatement services.” See: Asbestos neglect: Why asbestos exposure deserves greater policy attention.
 

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 s