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Asbestos Mining Company Update

Dec 1, 2021

Uralasbest, one of Russia’s biggest asbestos mining and manufacturing conglomerates, announced this week that it was on course to fulfil its five year mission to produce 300,000 tonnes of chrysotile asbestos fiber and ten million tonnes of asbestos-containing building products every year. By 2023, a new plant to crush stone will be operational which will allow volumes of rock processing to increase from 2 million tonnes in 2020 to 4 million tonnes. See: Миссия выполнима. Градообразующее предприятие Асбеста реализует масштабный план развития [Mission Possible. The founding enterprise of the city of Asbestos is implementing a large-scale development plan].
 

Travesty of Justice!

Dec 1, 2021

On November 30, 2021, Madrid’s Superior Court of Justice overturned the verdict of Madrid’s Social Court 2 which had found that the cancer death of the famous Spanish entertainer and TV personality José María Íñigo had been caused by exposure to asbestos at the TV studios of the Spanish Radio and Television Corporation (Corporación de Radio y Televisión Espaola, S.A. RTVE). The Superior Court was not convinced that Íñigo had been exposed to asbestos by RTVE or that such exposure had caused him to contract mesothelioma, a fatal cancer caused by asbestos exposure. See: Un tribunal revoca la sentencia que atribuyó la muerte de José María Íñigo al amianto de TVE [The Madrid Superior Court of Justice overturns the previous sentence that linked the death of José María Íñigo to asbestos (exposure) at TVE].
 

Asbestos Anxiety Claims

Dec 1, 2021

Presentations regarding the current state of litigation on behalf of claimants suffering from asbestos anxiety were the focal point of a meeting of Adeva 29, a local asbestos victims’ group in Brest, France on November 26, 2021. Eighty attendees were told that whilst some claims were recognized, such as those from people who had worked at industrial sites where asbestos exposures had been identified, other claims were strongly contested such as those initiated by people who had worked in the merchant navy or aboard fishing vessels. The average value of asbestos anxiety claims was €8,000 (US$9,000). See: À Brest, la reconnaissance du préjudice d’anxiété lié à l’amiante patine pour certains [In Brest, the recognition of anxiety prejudice linked to asbestos remains elusive for some].
 

Estimates of Asbestos-related Lung Cancer

Dec 1, 2021

Research regarding the number of asbestos-related cases of lung cancer which occurred in various Italian occupational sectors found that the risk was higher for men then women, with the highest figures amongst construction workers who had 2.8 lung cancer deaths to every one mesothelioma death. The scientists estimated that there were 3,814 cases of lung cancer caused by asbestos exposure between 2010 and 2015 in Italy. The co-authors of this paper stressed the importance of better information and prevention strategies, improved health surveillance of workers and a more responsive legal protocol for identifying claims. See: L'impatto dell'esposizione occupazionale ad amianto sul tumore del polmone in Italia [The impact of occupational exposure to asbestos on lung cancer in Italy].
 

HSE Asbestos Prosecution

Dec 1, 2021

On November 29, 2021, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) announced that after the defendants had pleaded guilty to contravening asbestos regulations in 2019, Peterlee Magistrates Court had fined the Park View Academy of Church Chare, Chester Le Street and its contractors T.W. Steam & Heating Services Limited of Durham £7785.37 and £6,710.37 respectively, including costs. Following the verdict HSE inspector Ashfaq Ali said: “Companies should be aware that HSE will not hesitate to take appropriate enforcement action against those that fall below the required standards.” See: School and contractor fined for unsafe removal of asbestos.
 

Paris Protest & Action by Asbestos Victims

Nov 29, 2021

On November 25, 2021, 2,000 French asbestos victims staged a street demonstration and public rally in Paris to reenforce calls for a criminal trial of people responsible for the country’s asbestos epidemic; all of the accused had worked with the Permanent Committee on Asbestos, a trade association supported by asbestos vested interests. A direct summons to the Paris judicial court was lodged demanding that the silence over this scandal which had lasted for 25 years could no longer be tolerated. The victims appealed directly to the criminal court without going through a judicial enquiry. Three thousand people die every year in France from asbestos-related diseases. See: Amiante: les victimes relancent le procès penal [Asbestos: victims relaunch criminal trial].
 

Mining Company Liable for Medical Costs

Nov 29, 2021

Last week, Brazil’s sole remaining asbestos mining company: Sama Minerações Associadas, a subsidiary of the Eternit group, was ordered by a Goiás state court to pay for medical tests for a period of 30 years for former employees who had worked with asbestos at its mine in Minaçu, Goiás. The company is appealing this verdict. In contravention of a Supreme Court ruling issued in 2017, the company announced in November 2021 that it planned to recommence asbestos mining. See: Sama é condenada a pagar exames médicos por 30 anos para ex-funcionários que trabalharam com amianto [Sama is ordered to pay for medical tests for 30 years for former employees who worked with asbestos].
 

Update: Asbestos Removal in Catalonia

Nov 29, 2021

The Government of Catalonia has allocated €4.5 million (US$5m+) for the removal of asbestos from 200 buildings in Barcelona. According to the proposed work schedule, the asbestos eradication work will be completed by 2025. In July, 2021, Pere Aragonès President of the Government of Catalonia approved a National Plan for the Eradication of Asbestos in Catalonia. After years of campaigning by the city council and local people, this news was warmly received. See: El Govern destina 4,5 millones a retirar el amianto de 200 edificios de Badia (Barcelona) [The Government allocates 4.5 million to remove asbestos from 200 buildings in Badia (Barcelona)].
 

Asbestos Dumpsites Full in Italy!

Nov 29, 2021

A persistent problem throughout Italy is the lack of sites for legally disposing of asbestos waste. This issue was raised last week by regional councillor Emanuele Zanon, the former mayor of Cavasso Nuovo. According to Zanon: “All the disposal plants are practically closed and companies are forced to turn to Norway, with skyrocketing costs…The problem is that in Italy there are hardly any sites available to accommodate these materials.” The lack of availability of affordable dump sites will, Zanon warned, lead to illegal and dangerous fly-tipping. See: Emergenza amianto, Zanon lancia l'allarme [Asbestos emergency, Zanon raises the alarm].
 

Possible Drinking Water Asbestos Risk

Nov 29, 2021

Having considered evidence, including studies by Italian researchers from the International Association of Doctors for the Environment, the European Parliament on October 20, 2021 approved a motion (Protection of Workers from Asbestos\) which recognized the risk of contracting oesophagus, stomach and colon cancer from the ingestion of asbestos fibers in drinking water. Although the evidence was not definitive, the motion recommended that the precautionary principle should be followed and called on Member States to carry out regular monitoring of drinking water. See: Amianto, il Parlamento Europeo cita uno studio ISDE e approva una mozione a difesa dei cittadini [Asbestos, the European Parliament cites an ISDE study and approves a motion in defense of citizens].
 

Tragic Death of Colin Clarke

Nov 25, 2021

A fit 45-year father of two from Perth, Australia has died from mesothelioma, the signature cancer associated with asbestos exposure. Colin Clarke, who was an emergency doctor, had no knowledge of having been exposed to asbestos. He survived for three years after the diagnosis had been made. Now, his wife Liz Clarke is working to raise awareness of the dangers to other Australians posed by the ubiquity of asbestos-containing products within the national infrastructure. This week, being asbestos awareness week, her message has gone out to people working in various trades, to home renovators and to tourists: educate yourself about the hazard and take steps to avoid any exposure. See: Perth man, 45, succumbs to mesothelioma as wife spreads asbestos awareness.
 

Asbestos Trial: Update from Novara

Nov 25, 2021

Testimony heard previously during the criminal trial in Novara, Italy over 392 asbestos deaths that occurred in Casale Monferrato confirmed that: “All 392 persons named in the charges listed against the defendants in the Eternit Bis trial died of mesothelioma, caused by the asbestos fibres they breathed in.” On November 22, 2021, lawyers defending Swiss asbestos tycoon Stephan Schmidheiny – who is charged with voluntary manslaughter – cross-examined prosecution expert medical witnesses about measures used to ascertain the cause of death of the deceased. The next hearing is November 29. See: Difesa al contrattacco: «Mesoteliomi certi solo se confermati da analisi immunoistochimiche» [Defense against the counterattack: “Mesotheliomas are certain only if confirmed by immunohistochemical analyses”].
 

Asbestos and Urban Transformation

Nov 25, 2021

Turkish politician and Vice President of the Republican People’s Party Gürsel Tekin issued warnings this week of the danger posed by uncontrolled urban transformation projects which liberate toxic asbestos fibers from old buildings being renovated or demolished. “Public health is,” he said “under serious threat.” Questions he put to the Ministry of Environment and Urbanization focused on renewal projects underway in the Istanbul district of Fikirtepe. Tekin wanted to know: what precautions were being taken by contractors, what environmental supervision was in place, what documentation existed about mandatory checks of asbestos levels. See: Gürsel Tekin: “Kentsel dönüşüm, kentsel felakete dönüşmesin” [Gürsel Tekin: “Urban transformation should not turn into an urban disaster”].
 

Latest News on Mesothelioma Research

Nov 25, 2021

A paper by mesothelioma researchers from Australia which was uploaded on November 16, 2021 to the website of Science Direct examined how “the advent of cancer immunotherapy – and in particular the immune checkpoint inhibitor class of drugs – has resulted in recently approved new treatment options, with more currently under investigation.” The co-authors reviewed results from clinical trials and described new protocols for achieving early diagnoses of mesothelioma, before considering what new technologies might be progressed for treating mesothelioma patients. See: Immune checkpoint inhibitor therapy for malignant pleural mesothelioma.
 

Banning Asbestos Use in Vietnam

Nov 24, 2021

A commentary by Associate Professor Dr. Bui Thi An, Director of the Institute of Natural Resources, cited below, elucidated the efforts of civil society activists, trade unionists, medical and scientific experts and politicians to protect Vietnamese people from toxic exposures to asbestos. As per a request by the Prime Minister, the Ministry of Construction drafted a Roadmap to End the Use of Chrysotile Asbestos by 2023 and a National Action Plan to Eliminate Asbestos-Related Diseases. Unfortunately, it looks like asbestos vested interests were able to forestall implementation of these protocols and so prolong the use of asbestos-containing construction material in Vietnam for the foreseeable future. See: Quá trình vận động dừng sử dụng Amiăng trắng ở Việt Nam [Campaign to stop the use of chrysotile in Vietnam].
 

Asbestos Exports Fuel Corporate Profits

Nov 24, 2021

An announcement by the Brazilian conglomerate Eternit SA on November 10, 2021 confirmed a healthy economic position after the company had in 2018 filed for judicial recovery under Brazilian bankruptcy laws, a year after the Supreme Court banned asbestos. Although Eternit – Brazil’s former asbestos giant – no longer uses asbestos in products it manufacturers for domestic consumption, 121,000 tonnes of asbestos fiber produced at its asbestos mine in Goiás State is being exported this year. This is a 165% increase in output compared to 2020. See: Eternit (ETER3) dobra o lucro no balanço do 3T21 [Eternit (ETER3) doubles earnings in the 3Q21 balance sheet].
 

Eradicating Asbestos in Madrid’s Schools

Nov 24, 2021

Civil society groups, including citizens’ action groups and trade unions, supported by politicians from various parties are demanding that the Madrid Community Government take urgent action about the hazard posed by asbestos contamination of the city’s schools. A Master Plan for the Elimination of Asbestos in the Community of Madrid which had been approved by the Madrid Assembly in 2020 has yet to be implemented. The plan calls for asbestos audits of each school as well as a management plan for the safe removal of asbestos products from the educational infrastructure. See: Guerra al amianto en los centros educativos de Madrid [Asbestos war in the educational centers of Madrid].
 

Death at the Opera House

Nov 24, 2021

The famous Italian Opera House La Scala claimed another victim with the death on November 19, 2021 of 83-year old electrician and sound engineer Franco Colombo who succumbed to mesothelioma, the signature cancer associated with asbestos exposure. In 2019, Mr. Colombo had testified for the prosecution at a trial over asbestos deaths of La Scala colleagues. His is the 14th asbestos death of technicians, singers, musicians, workers and maintenance workers who had worked at the opera house. To date, no one has been held accountable. See: Amianto, morto l’ex fonico della Scala [Asbestos, former La Scala sound engineer has died].
 

Asbestos at the Shipyards

Nov 24, 2021

The article cited below detailed the ongoing predicament faced by Navantia – a Spanish state-owned shipbuilding company – due to historic cases of occupational asbestos exposures at its workplaces. Since the first asbestos claim was made in 2000, there has, said a company spokesperson, been an “exponential increase” in the number of compensation cases brought by former Navantia employees. The courts, which have proved sympathetic to these plaintiffs, have awarded sums as high as €400,000 (US$450,000) in individual cases. The company has just launched a new legal strategy for minimizing litigation expenses. See: Navantia se blinda ante los litigios por amianto con un contrato de 1,9 millones [Navantia shields itself against asbestos litigation with a 1.9 million contract].
 

Insulting HSE Penalty for Toxic Exposures

Nov 24, 2021

A November 18, 2021 press release from the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) announced that a construction company had been fined £300 with £8,266.40 in court costs “after disturbing asbestos and removing it without adequate precautions at a pub in Trowbridge, Wiltshire” in September 2018 during renovation work. As a result of these actions, employees and people in the local area were exposed to asbestos fibers. Speaking about the case, an HSE Inspector said the “HSE will not hesitate to take appropriate enforcement action against those [companies] that fall below the required standards.” See: Construction company fined for unsafe removal of asbestos.
 

More Asbestos Lies

Nov 22, 2021

The November article cited below featured disinformation from Russian asbestos lobbyists reassuring citizens that chrysotile (white) asbestos, such as that produced in Russia, was safe for use. Blaming Western economic and political interests for spreading lies about chrysotile, the author reported: “Scientists around the world claim that chrysotile is safe.” It is a fact that some scientists – those commissioned by industry stakeholders and asbestos defendants – allege that chrysotile use is safe. On the other hand, independent scientists and international agencies such as the WHO, ILO & IARC say that exposure to all types of asbestos can prove fatal. See: Безопасность и капремонт: популярные мифы о хризотилцементной продукции [Safety and overhaul: popular myths about chrysotile cement products].
 

Migration of Asbestos Fibers: New Research

Nov 22, 2021

Peer-reviewed laboratory research reported in the November 2021 online issue of the Journal of Hazardous Materials questioned the safety of burying asbestos waste due to new findings by US scientists which showed that asbestos fibers could, in the presence of certain organic material in soil, become mobile. This revelation means that buried asbestos could eventually reach groundwater and “could make it to nearby communities via irrigation, or become airborne after washing up and drying out on riverbanks.” The research could, if confirmed by additional work, have serious implications for the way the Environment Protection Agency and other government bodies handle asbestos-contaminated sites. See: Mobility of asbestos fibers below ground is enhanced by dissolved organic matter from soil amendments.
 

Addressing Regional Asbestos Challenges

Nov 22, 2021

A virtual meeting on November 17, 2021 in Apia, Samoa brought together Australian and local experts “to help countries understand the importance of a regulatory framework to address adverse impacts of ACM [asbestos-containing material] on human health and the environment” in Pacific island countries during the Third Clean Pacific Roundtable. The importance of establishing asbestos management plans, an asbestos code of practice and an agency to co-ordinate work addressing a multiplicity of challenges were emphasized by the speakers. Pilot projects to abate asbestos contamination in Kiribati, Nauru, Niue, and Tonga are ongoing. See: Clean Pacific Roundtable Zeroes In On Addressing Asbestos Containing Materials.
 

Asbestos Trial: Update from Novara

Nov 22, 2021

The latest court hearing in the case against Swiss billionaire Stephan Schmidheiny over the asbestos deaths of 392 people in the town of Casale Monferrato took place at the Court of Assizes in Novara on November 15, 2021. During the session, bereaved relatives as well as medical and epidemiological experts gave evidence over the catastrophic results of asbestos contamination caused by operations at Schmidheiny’s asbestos-cement factory. At the next hearing on November 22, the plaintiffs’ and defendant’s lawyers will cross-examine the five consultants who testified on November 15. See: «E’ il mesotelioma la causa di tutte quelle 392 morti»: parlano i consulenti della procura [“Mesothelioma is the cause of all those 392 deaths”: the prosecutor's office consultants speak].
 

Asbestos Whistle-blower Fights On

Nov 22, 2021

Allegations over occupational asbestos exposures brought by David Ian Hamilton against a former employer resulted, he alleges, in his dismissal in 2019. As the lawsuit wends its way through the courts, the Vancouver Island whistle-blower is working to raise awareness of the hazard posed by asbestos to trade union members and others whose employers had failed to provide asbestos training. WorkSafeBC – a statutory agency in British Colombia tasked with preventing occupational injury and disease – has operated an Asbestos Initiative Program since 2016; in 2020, it conducted 3,000 inspections during which it issued ~1,500 asbestos-related orders for violations, of which 959 were high-risk. See: Vancouver Island asbestos warrior doesn’t accept WorkSafeBC’s response.
 

Asbestos Compensation Fund 2022?

Nov 22, 2021

A “historic” agreement reached on November 17, 2021 will allow politicians in Spain’s Congress of Deputies to add the sum of €25 million (US $28.2m) to the national budget for 2022. This money will be used to set up a National Asbestos Compensation Fund to provide state benefits to people injured through toxic exposures. Work on draft legislation to set up this Fund is underway. Campaigners from the Basque Region have been working for years to address long-standing injustices caused by asbestos exposures to workers and people living near toxic sites, in collaboration with trade unionists and asbestos victims’ groups from other Spanish regions. See: Los Presupuestos incluirán 25 millones para indemnizar a las víctimas del amianto [Budgets will include 25 million to compensate asbestos victims].
 

Increase in Asbestos Output

Nov 18, 2021

A Russian language article uploaded on November 16, 2021 reported on current developments at the Kazakh company Kostanay Minerals JSC, one of the world’s biggest asbestos producers. According to a company spokesman, Kostanay is now working at full capacity and is on track to produce 248,000 tonnes of asbestos fiber in 2021. Almost all (98%) of the company’s output is exported to countries in Central and Southeast Asia. Plans to ban asbestos use by Ukraine – a current importer of Kazakh asbestos – are being countered at the very highest levels via communications and negotiations of Kazkh ministries, intergovernmental agencies and the Kazakh embassy with their counterparts in Ukraine. See: Из пике на пик [From peak to peak].
 

Parliamentary Asbestos Investigation

Nov 18, 2021

On November 17, 2021, the Parliamentary Committee on Work and Pensions opened an investigation into whether the Health and Safety Executive’s asbestos policy, which advocates managing asbestos rather than removing it from the built environment, was fit for purpose. In the first session, evidence was heard from technical and scientific experts from France, Germany, the Netherlands and the UK. In the second session, witnesses from Mesothelioma UK, the Forum of Asbestos Victim Support Groups, the Joint Union on Asbestos Committee and a law firm detailed the human tragedies resulting from asbestos exposures with an emphasis on the repercussions of exposures to asbestos still contained in public buildings such as schools and hospitals. See: MPs to investigate hundreds of asbestos-related deaths among teachers.
 

Union Action on Asbestos

Nov 18, 2021

A press conference held at the headquarters of the ELA trade union in Navarra, Northern Spain heard about the human cost of the country’s tragic asbestos legacy with relatives telling of their bereavements – the loss of loved ones who had been exposed to asbestos whilst working at a foundry or on the railways. Litigation for asbestos compensation is slow and unpredictable with one lawyer adding that: “Litigation is a process that re-victimizes, because they kill you in the company you worked in and they kill you also in court.” The union called on the Government of Navarra to support the injured and allocate funds to pay for a phased removal of all asbestos products. See: La justicia llega tarde para las víctimas del amianto en Navarra [Justice is late for the victims of asbestos in Navarra].
 

Victim’s Verdict in Pisa

Nov 18, 2021

The Italian Ministry of Defense has been ordered by a court in Pisa to pay compensation for the asbestos cancer death in 2003 of Francesco Volterrani who was exposed to asbestos insulation on naval ships and in suits which he wore whilst performing emergency drills from 1965 till 1993 when he retired. This verdict was hard-fought by the Ministry of Defense which is facing many more such claims from families of thousands of other servicemen who died after exposure to asbestos in the Italian Navy. See: Pisa, morì per l’amianto: ministero condannato al risarcimento danni [Pisa, died of asbestos: ministry ordered to pay damages].
 

Mesothelioma: Treatment Update

Nov 18, 2021

New data published in Nature Medicine, a peer-reviewed medical journal, has shown improved survival rates in people with previously untreated, unresectable malignant pleural mesothelioma treated with Imfinzi (durvalumab) plus platinum-pemetrexed chemotherapy compared with chemotherapy alone. According to the lead author of the study, Dr. Patrick Forde, director of the Thoracic Oncology Clinical Research Program at Johns Hopkins Medicine in Baltimore: “the signals here are that there are groups of patients who derive a significant benefit from the combination of chemo with immunotherapy.” Whilst none of the 55 participants achieved a complete response, 31 showed a partial response to treatment. See: Imfinzi-Chemo Combo Improves Survival for Mesothelioma.
 

Victims’ Action in Cádiz

Nov 18, 2021

At a meeting this week of an asbestos victims’ support group – the Association of People Affected by Asbestos Exposures in the Cádiz Naval Sector – in the Spanish town of San Fernanda, participants were warned that the number of cases of asbestos-related diseases was increasing. The assembly was updated on procedural matters as well as legal and medical developments such as an improvement in the judicial climate for asbestos lawsuits. The group supported calls in Spain for a comprehensive asbestos regime which would include setting up a national asbestos compensation fund. See: Afectados por el Amianto del Sector Naval de la Bahía de Cádiz advierte del repunte de casos [Group representing those Affected by Asbestos from the Naval Sector of the Bay of Cádiz warns of rebound in cases].
 

Asbestos Awareness Cooperative Project

Nov 17, 2021

On the morning of November 10, 2021 a signing ceremony took place, in Hanoi, of a Memorandum of Understanding by Australia’s Union Aid Abroad (APHEDA) and Vietnamese Groups: the Association for the Support of Mountainous Economic Development and the Human Rights Research Center in mountainous areas. The signatories pledged to cooperate on a project to raise awareness about the asbestos health hazard to ethnic minorities including people who live in the country’s mountainous region where asbestos roofing remains a popular choice for many householders. See: Lễ ký kết thỏa thuận hợp tác nâng cao nhận thức về mối nguy hại của amiăng [Signing ceremony of cooperation agreement to raise awareness about the dangers of asbestos].
 

Construction Workers Families' Settlement

Nov 17, 2021

On November 10, 2021, Judge Takeshi Tachikawa in Japan’s Fukuoka District Court agreed a settlement with the Government over claims by twenty bereaved families of construction workers from Fukuoka, Kumamoto Prefecture. The cases – known collectively as the Kyushu Construction Asbestos Proceedings – were over the continued failure by the authorities to protect workers from occupational exposures to asbestos. This was the first settlement in Kyushu after the May 2021 Supreme Court ruling which had acknowledged the negligence of the Government and building material manufacturers. See: アスベスト訴訟、九州初の和解…元労働者遺族ら20人と国 [Asbestos proceedings, Kyushu's first settlement ... 20 former workers' bereaved families and the country].
 

Remediation Plans for Iconic Asbestos Site

Nov 17, 2021

News that a UK remediation company – ESG Trading – had purchased the contaminated site of what was once the world’s largest asbestos manufacturer has received a mixed reception. Speaking for many local people, campaigner and archivist of the Spodden Valley Trust educational and research body Jason Addy said that the company’s assertion that any remediation strategy would exceed statutory requirements “sounds promising”; but added: “The devil will be in the detail, especially as the PR copy already presumes this site to be an ‘opportunity to contribute to the future growth of Rochdale’.” See: Response to purchase of former Turner Brothers Asbestos site.
 

Action on Wittenoom: Update

Nov 17, 2021

In the most recent of many attempts to bring an end to the toxic legacy of Wittenoom – the infamous blue asbestos mining town in Western Australia (WA) – the State Government is planning to seize control of 14 properties still privately owned, under a bill working its way through the WA Parliament. Twelve kilometers from Wittenoom are three million tonnes of asbestos mining waste. Despite wiping the town from the map and multiple public warnings about the extensive pollution, tourists continue to visit the contaminated site. To date, more than 1,200 former Wittenoom residents and workers have died from asbestos-related cancers and respiratory diseases. See: Last homes in asbestos-riddled Wittenoom to be demolished, but some want to stay.
 

Portugal’s Toxic Asbestos Legacy

Nov 17, 2021

A commentary by Iria Roriz Madeira considers the toxic legacy left by the widespread and unregulated use of thousands of asbestos-containing products in Portugal. The author exposed a series of loopholes in government actions, industry regulations and common practices which underscored the ongoing hazard asbestos posed to human health. “Until we have a transparent and rigorous survey of materials containing asbestos,” the author noted “we will be a long way from the European target of removing all asbestos by 2032 and we will continue to expose ourselves voluntarily and involuntarily to this carcinogenic material.” See: Podemos livrar-nos do amianto? [Can we get rid of asbestos?].
 

Mesothelioma Follow-up Care

Nov 17, 2021

A paper uploaded on November 10, 2021 to the website of the British Medical Journal reported findings from a study – undertaken by three National Health Service Trusts in the South of England – investigating follow-up care received by mesothelioma patients. Key stakeholders were consulted, including mesothelioma specialist nurses, mesothelioma patients and carers, and local clinical commissioning group members. Areas of particular interest which were identified included “the importance of continuity of care, the provision of timely information and the central role played by mesothelioma specialist nurses, supported by the wider multidisciplinary team.” See: Improving mesothelioma follow-up care in the UK: a qualitative study to build a multidisciplinary pyramid of care approach.
 

New Mesothelioma Data

Nov 15, 2021

On November 10, 2021, the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare published a report, entitled Mesothelioma in Australia, which noted that there was a long-term trend showing a steady increase of cases of mesothelioma, the signature cancer associated with asbestos exposure, in Australia. “On average,” the paper noted “two people are diagnosed with mesothelioma in Australia each day – with a median age at diagnosis of 75 years old.” The human cost of the epidemic is up to 800 new cases every year; in financial terms, estimates for the impact on the health system of these cases is A$27.4m (US$20m). See: Mesothelioma in Australia 2020.
 

Asbestos Death of Former President

Nov 15, 2021

On November 11, 2021, the FW de Klerk Foundation announced that the former President had died from mesothelioma at his Cape Town home. He had been diagnosed in March, 2021 with this asbestos cancer and had been receiving immunotherapy treatment. Preliminary research has established that it was highly likely that he had been exposed to asbestos as a Member of Parliament in his Gauteng constituency and as the Minister for Mineral and Energy Affairs. South Africa was the only country in the world to have produced all three types of commercially used asbestos: chrysotile, amosite and crocidolite. See: FW de Klerk: South Africa's former president dies at 85.
 

J&J Toxic Talc Litigation: Update

Nov 15, 2021

In what is being seen as a “major setback” for Johnson & Johnson (J&J), on November 10, 2021 Federal Bankruptcy Judge Craig Whitley in North Carolina allowed a 60-day stay on 38,000 asbestos lawsuits against the company over sales of its talc-based baby powder. The Judge had previously said these cases should be heard in New Jersey where the company is headquartered. J&J, which used a legal manoeuvre known as the “Texas two-step” to dump the cancer claims into a new bankrupt entity called LTL, wanted all the litigation frozen during a case review which could take years. See: A judge temporarily halts baby powder cancer lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson.
 

Update: Parliament Asbestos Enquiry

Nov 15, 2021

On November 17, 2021, the first session will be held by the Parliamentary Work & Pensions Committee which is investigating whether the current asbestos management policy of the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) is fit for purpose. Witnesses giving evidence during the two morning panels will include representatives of UK asbestos victims, and campaigning bodies as well as technical and scientific experts from France, the Netherlands and Germany. See: HSE’s approach to asbestos management: Work and Pensions Committee to hold first oral evidence session.
 

Heartache and Grief: Another Day in Court

Nov 15, 2021

The article cited below continued the coverage of the asbestos trial of Swiss billionaire Stephen Schmidheiny in the Court of Assizes in Novara, Italy with information about the testimony provided on November 8 by bereaved relatives who described, in heart-rending detail, the suffering of mothers, fathers and husbands killed by asbestos exposures. The defendant has been charged in absentia with the voluntary manslaughter of 392 people from the town of Casale Monferrato who were exposed to asbestos liberated by the operations of his factory. The next hearing has been scheduled for November 15. See: Le storie d’amianto raccontate da quelle voci pacate che urlano come il tuono in un temporale d’agosto [The stories of asbestos told by those quiet voices that scream like thunder in an August storm].
 

Legitimacy of Claims over Toxic Anxiety

Nov 15, 2021

This commentary on the acceptance by the French Supreme Court of “anxiety claims” – which were first recognized in 2010 for people who had developed psychological conditions as a result of historic occupational asbestos exposures – provided a useful recap of the evolution of this type of litigation with a focus on five verdicts issued in asbestos anxiety cases by the Court on October 13, 2021. The Court supported claims by workers who had been made redundant and who had, as a result of medical follow-ups, established that that they had symptoms of asbestos exposure, to wit diffuse pleural thickening. See: Reconnaissance du préjudice d’anxiété: les nouveaux apports de la Cour de cassation [Recognition of the prejudice of anxiety: new contributions from the Court of Cassation].
 

Vindication of Asbestos Whistle Blower

Nov 12, 2021

On October 28, 2021, the Italian Supreme Court confirmed a verdict of the Court of Appeal of Reggio Calabria which had upheld the right of railway worker Antonino Pulitanò to issue an asbestos alert over toxic exposures in the maintenance and inspection department of Trenitalia’s railway plant in Reggio Calabria. Trade unionist Pulitanò had endured disciplinary sanctions which led inevitably to his dismissal from his job for his whistleblowing activities. See: Ferrovie, operaio licenziato per aver denunciato la presenza di amianto vince in Cassazione [Railways, worker sacked for having reported the presence of asbestos wins in the Supreme Court].
 

Déjà vu, All Over Again!

Nov 12, 2021

The acquisition of a problematic industrial site in Rochdale once owned by an asbestos manufacturer has raised the concerns of local people who have, on multiple occasions, had to expose dangerous plans by developers to build homes on this contaminated site. The 45-hectare site was the headquarters for Turner Brothers Asbestos (TBA), a company which specialized in the manufacturer of asbestos-cement building products. Toxic waste discarded by TBA is still to be found under the soil and in the Spodden River. According to a company spokesperson for the new owner of the property – ESG Trading Limited, a specialist remediation company – “no remediation work will begin without all relevant approvals being in place.” See: New owners for former Turner Brothers Asbestos site.
 

Flow of Illegal Asbestos Imports

Nov 12, 2021

Since the beginning of 2020, asbestos has been found in a myriad of products imported from China, including toys such as remote controlled cars, building materials, consumer products such as irons, and automotive parts. Expressing her concern, President of the Australian Council of Trade Unions Michele O'Neil said: “There is absolutely no safe level of asbestos exposure. Literally, one fibre can eventually lead to death. This is how dangerous this product is.” According to one Australian trade expert: “in China, a product containing 5 per cent asbestos was considered asbestos-free.” See: Calls for more testing after asbestos found in imported toys and building materials.
 

Support for Asbestos Victims

Nov 12, 2021

On Saturday, November 20, 2021 from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm a free, confidential emergency telephone hotline will be operational to take enquiries from Japanese people worried about asbestos exposures. The service is being offered by legal and medical experts in Nagoya City who will provide information about available benefits and treatment for the injured. See: アスベスト(石綿)による健康被害についての無料電話相談を実施 [Free telephone consultation on health hazards caused by asbestos].
 

Award for Montana Asbestos Medic

Nov 12, 2021

A long career of public service has been recognized by the Montana Public Health Association with the announcement that Dr. Brad Black, the former Medical Director of the Center for Asbestos Related Disease (CARD), would receive its 2021 Career Achievement Award at a ceremony in April 2022. Dr. Black was one of the founding members of the CARD clinic and remains “a leading advocate for healthcare, treatment, and research to benefit those impacted by Libby amphibole asbestos.” Residents as well as workers in the town of Libby, Montana have, for decades, contracted asbestos-related diseases from workplace and environmental asbestos exposures. See: CARD's Dr. Brad Black Wins State Public Health Award.
 

Asbestos Compensation and Benefits in Italy

Nov 12, 2021

The text of the article cited below recaps benefits available to Italian asbestos victims from a fund established by Law 244/2007 and regulated by Ministerial Decree 30/2011. The Asbestos Victims Fund provides additional financial compensation for pensioners with asbestos exposure-related illnesses and, in the event of death, for their surviving relatives. To obtain these benefits, claimants must apply to the Istituto Nazionale per l'Assicurazione contro gli Infortuni sul Lavoro [the National Institute for Insurance against Accidents at Work/ INAIL]. See: Fondo Vittime per l’Amianto: cos’è, come funziona e gli ultimi aggiornamenti [Victims Fund for Asbestos: what it is, how it works and the latest updates].
 

Addressing WA’s Toxic Legacy

Nov 9, 2021

The problems posed by contamination created by mining at the Wittenoom crocidolite asbestos mine in Western Australia have been highlighted this month. The article cited below featured an interview with asbestosis sufferer Robin Chapple, who as a young migrant to Australia had worked at the mine in 1976. Chapple rejected the WA Government’s excuses for not tackling the pollution and urged people not to visit the deadly attraction. His warning has been reiterated by the Perth-based Asbestos Diseases Society of Australia which has launched an awareness campaign (see: ADSA's Wittenoom Community Education TV Campaign - November 2021) targeted at holidaymakers. See: Why cleaning up Wittenoom and surrounding areas is important.
 

Victory for Construction Workers

Nov 9, 2021

On November 4, 33 plaintiffs settled claims with the Japanese Government over outdoor occupational asbestos exposures at construction sites; the sum awarded was 435 million yen (US$3.8m). Prior to the settlement the lawsuit was scheduled to be heard by Judge Nohisa Honda at the Osaka District Court. Although the Government had agreed compensation terms for asbestos-injured construction workers previously, they had excluded from the settlement people who had worked outdoors. This development could be pivotal for future claims. See: 屋外作業員、国と初和解 建設アスベスト訴訟―大阪地裁 [Outdoor workers settle for the first time with the government in construction asbestos proceedings in Osaka District Court].
 

Asbestos Asphalt Removal in Bordeaux

Nov 9, 2021

The commencement of roadworks in the Caudéran district of Bordeaux was a matter of serious concern for traders and residents who were aghast at the warning signs erected announcing the presence of asbestos and the operatives working in full body covering protective clothing. A budget of €360,000 (US$417,000) had been allocated by City Hall to remove asbestos asphalt which had been used to dampen the sounds of the traffic. The work is being carried out during the weekends to reduce the inconvenience to the public. See: Travaux à Bordeaux Caudéran: « l’amiante dans le bitume, on en trouve un peu partout! » [Works in Bordeaux Caudéran: “Asbestos in bitumen is found almost everywhere!”].
 

Legal Precedent Benefits Asbestos Victims

Nov 9, 2021

In an astounding legal breakthrough last week at the High Court, Scots law was applied to an English asbestos cancer case which enabled a mesothelioma widow, her children and extended family members to obtain compensation for the 2019 death of David Haggerty. The deceased had worked at the ICI factory in North Ayrshire, Scotland in the 1970s where he had been occupationally exposed to asbestos. Mr Justice Ritchie awarded Mrs Haggerty and her children over £600,000 for their losses with compensation also being paid to extended family members as allowed under Scottish law. See: English judge allows Scots law of damages in mesothelioma claim.
 

Environmental Asbestos Regulations

Nov 9, 2021

This month (November 2021), the Association Française de Normalisation (French Standardization Association/ AFNOR) published an environmental asbestos standard (NF P94-001) which will mandate, once the implementing decree is adopted, that an investigation be undertaken to ascertain the presence of asbestos prior to any operation being commenced which might expose a worker to naturally occurring asbestos in soil or rock. The standard is pertinent to operations during geotechnical research exploration, drilling, laying foundations, underground excavation work and other similar processes. See: La norme NF P94-001 repérage amiante environnemental a été publiée [The NF P94-001 environmental asbestos standard has been published].
 

Calls for Government Support for Victims

Nov 8, 2021

At a November 4 press conference at Ulsan City Hall, members of the Ulsan branch of the National Plant Construction Labor Union called upon the Korean Government to support petrochemical workers who had contracted asbestos-related diseases as a result of workplace exposures at the Ulsan Petrochemical Plant. According to the union, in 2018, 14 out of 120 union members tested had contracted asbestos-related lung disease; in 2019, 9 out of 82 members examined were diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. See: 울산플랜트건설노조 “석면 피해 검진·조사 지원 조례 제정하라” [Ulsan Plant Construction Union “Enact ordinance to support asbestos damage inspection and investigation”].
 

Remove Asbestos, Save the Planet!

Nov 8, 2021

The publication on November 2, 2021 of the paper cited below could not have been more timely, coinciding as it did with COP26, the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Glasgow. Co-authors Alessia Angelini and Stefano Silvestri showed how tax incentives to encourage the removal of asbestos-cement roofing in Italy would benefit the economy by generating tens of thousands of new jobs, the population by preventing exposures to a known carcinogen cancer, and the planet by replacing asbestos-cement roofing with safer and better performing material which would result in energy savings. See: Asbestos Removal Acceleration for New Jobs and Fossil Fuel Use Reduction for Public Health and Climate Readiness: A Contribution to the Revival of the Italian Economy Post-COVID-19.
 

Madrid Asbestos Demonstration

Nov 8, 2021

On November 4, 2021, asbestos victims and trade unionists mounted a public protest in Madrid outside the Chamber of Deputies to highlight the unfulfilled government promise to set up a national asbestos compensation fund. An itemized and costed scheme for the Fund should, they argued, be included in the 2022 budget with an initial allocation of €25 million (US$29m). Although approval for the Fund had been agreed by the Congress on April 23, 2021, legislation required to implement the plan has failed to materialize. See: Víctimas del amianto, frente al Congreso: “Llevamos años sin protección” [Victims of asbestos, in front of Congress: “We have been without protection for years”].
 

Sad News from Western Australia

Nov 8, 2021

Professor Bill Musk died suddenly on November 3, 2021 at his home in Perth, WA. He was an outstanding physician and a major contributor to developing protocols for the management of asbestos-related diseases, having authored many academic papers on the subject. He was the Chief Investigator of a ground-breaking cohort study of people who had lived and worked at the asbestos mining town of Wittenoom. As a long-time supporter of the Asbestos Diseases Society of Australia (ADSA), Professor Musk took great care of ADSA members with asbestos-related diseases. Condolences to his family and friends, of whom there were many. See: Bill Musk Obituary Notice.
 

Regulating Asbestos Removal in Schools

Nov 8, 2021

Civil society groups in Portugal are concerned about the lack of available asbestos information and the failure to closely regulate asbestos removal work at school premises. Campaigners have taken to task officials in the Almada City Council who allowed asbestos removal work to be carried out during school hours. This work, which has alarmed parents, has created “a climate of concern and there are even situations of parents who decided to withdraw their children from school until the work was completed,” said André Julião, the coordinator of the movement Asbestos-Free Schools (MESA). See: MESA e ZERO preocupados com falta de informação sobre remoção de amianto [MESA and ZERO concerned about lack of information on asbestos removal].
 

EU Asbestos Action Plan

Nov 8, 2021

The Spanish language article cited below explored the ramifications for EU citizens of a European Parliament resolution of October 20, 2021 with recommendations to the Commission “On the protection of workers against asbestos.” Issues highlighted in the resolution included energy renovation of buildings and a European strategy for asbestos removal. To achieve the aim of “becoming the first climate-neutral continent by 2050,” the European Parliament is recommending, amongst other measures, the safe removal of asbestos from the built environment. See: Amianto en la UE, bases de la estrategia europea para su retirada [Asbestos in the EU, bases of the European strategy for its removal].
 

Accepting China’s Asbestos Reality

Nov 4, 2021

In something of a remarkable turnaround, an article uploaded on November 1, 2021 to a Chinese website announced that a new treatment – based on the use of nivolumab combined with ipilimumab (CheckMate-743) – for the signature cancer associated with asbestos exposure, mesothelioma had been approved by the National Medical Products Administration of China. China is amongst the world’s largest producers and consumers of asbestos and information on the occurrence of asbestos-related diseases had been hard to access. See: 打破恶性胸膜间皮瘤治疗僵局,免疫“双子座”改写患者生存期 [Break the deadlock in the treatment of malignant pleural mesothelioma, immune "Gemini" rewrites the survival period for patients].
 

2021 Rise in Asbestos Production

Nov 4, 2021

Uralasbest, Russia’s second biggest producer of asbestos fiber, reported last week that for the first nine months of this year, there had been a 7% increase in net profit. According to the company, 300,000 tonnes of chrysotile asbestos fiber will be produced by its mining operations in the Sverdlovsk region in 2021. Asbestos production by Uralasbest accounts for 21% of annual global asbestos output and 41% of all Russian production of chrysotile asbestos fiber. Eighty per cent of Russian chrysotile is exported. See: “Ураласбест” за 9 месяцев увеличил чистую прибыль на 7% [Uralasbest increased its net profit by 7% in 9 months].
 

Hope for Pulmonary Fibrosis Sufferers

Nov 4, 2021

A decision by the National Institute for Care and Excellence (NICE) has approved the distribution on prescription of Nintedanib for people suffering from the asbestos-related condition of pulmonary fibrosis. This “game changer” could benefit over 30,000 patients. Welcoming the news, Consultant Respiratory Physician Dr Nazia Chaudhuri from Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust said: “I am absolutely delighted with the NICE decision to be able to give life changing antifibrotic therapy to all patients with progressive lung fibrosis.” The drug had previously only been available to patients with specified lung conditions and people with pulmonary fibrosis paid £3,000+ to obtain it. See: Life-extending drug for chronic lung disease available on the NHS.
 

WA Government Fiasco

Nov 3, 2021

A November 1, 2021 commentary in The National Indigenous Times – a publication on a website that focuses on issues related to indigenous Australians – took the West Australian (WA) Government to task for its complete failure to act on the environmental catastrophe left on land belonging to the Banjima people which had been decimated by decades of crocidolite (blue) asbestos mining operations. Despite the existence of the Mining Rehabilitation Fund which has assets of A$200 million, not one penny has been spent on cleaning up the Wittenoom site. See: Blue sky spin and bias hides toxic legacy.
 

Asbestos Alert in Turkey!

Nov 3, 2021

A commentary on the problems caused by urban transformation projects which liberate asbestos into the environment due to illegal working practices included input from Professor Asli Odman, Asbestos Removal Specialist Kenan Yıldız and Geology Engineer Eşref Atabey. Although the use of asbestos was banned in Turkey in 2010, loopholes persist which result in toxic exposures to workers as well as members of the public. In addition to exposures from toxic material incorporated within the country’s infrastructure, naturally occurring asbestos continues to endanger the health of 72,000 Turkish citizens living in hundreds of villages throughout the country. See: Köylerden kentlere asbest artık her yerde [From villages to cities, asbestos is now everywhere].
 

Island’s Deadly Industrial Legacy

Nov 3, 2021

Pressure is growing on the authorities in the Greek town of Chalkida on the island of Evia to take action on the deadly legacy from a former asbestos-cement factory; the plant, which had been owned and operated by the Ellenit company, was operational from 1961 until 1990. To date, 250 factory workers from the plant have died from asbestos-related diseases; untold numbers of local residents have also died as a result of environmental exposures to asbestos liberated by the factory’s manufacturing processes. See: Οι ευθύνες του Δήμου στα απομεινάρια ΕΛΕΝΙΤ [The responsibilities of the Municipality regarding the legacy of ELENIT].
 

Anxiety Claims on the Rise

Nov 3, 2021

The acceptance by French Courts of the disability caused by anxiety over historic occupational asbestos exposures has enabled many claimants to access compensation. Initially, only people who had been employed at asbestos processing establishments listed by decree in 1998 were eligible. Court rulings in 2020 awarded compensation for this condition to 264 former Baccarat employees (€9,000), 387 Bosch employees (€8,000) and 1,200 Renault Trucks workers. In 2019 the Court of Cassation (Supreme Court) extended the concept of asbestos anxiety to include occupational exposure to any harmful or toxic substance. See: De plus en plus d'entreprises attaquées et condamnées pour le préjudice d'anxiété [More and more companies targeted and convicted for anxiety injury].
 

State Accepts Asbestos Liabilities

Nov 3, 2021

A flood of claims for asbestos-related deaths of dock workers at the Port of Trieste has forced the Italian Government to take action and allocate €20 million (US$23m) over two years for total compensation payments for these claims. Since 2005, 44 asbestos claims against the Port Authority have been upheld; it has been estimated that the 14 cases which remain pending could cost €5m to settle. As 2,000 dockers had been employed at the Port between the 1960s and 1990s, there could be many more claims to come. See: Portuali vittime dell’amianto fondo risarcimenti da 5 milioni [ Compensation fund of 5 million for port asbestos victims].
 

Madrid Asbestos Protest

Nov 3, 2021

Trade unionists from the CCOO Madrid and UGT Madrid will join members of the Madrid Association of Asbestos Victims at noon on November 4, 2021 at a public demonstration outside the Congress of Deputies “to demand the unblocking of the processing of the bill for the creation of a compensation fund for asbestos victims.” A bill endorsing the fund had been approved by a majority vote at a plenary session of the Congress of Deputies on April 13, 2021; since then, the proposed law seems to have languished in the Committee on Labor, Inclusion, Social Security and Migrations. See: Las víctimas del amianto exigen la tramitación urgente del fondo de compensación [Asbestos victims demand urgent processing of the compensation fund].
 

Johnson & Johnson: Bankruptcy Update

Nov 1, 2021

According to a news report of October 27, 2021, it’s possible that US Bankruptcy Judge Craig Whitley, based in Charlotte, North Carolina, may derail Johnson & Johnson’s (J&J’s) attempts to off-load its liabilities for cancers caused by use of its talc-based baby powder to a bankrupt company: LTL Management LLC. On October 26, the Judge ordered LTL to justify their choice of a North Carolina jurisdiction when most of the talc claims against the company were filed in New Jersey, the location of J&J’s & LTL’s corporate headquarters. (For more on the background to this case see Johnson & Johnson’s ‘Texas-two-step’ puts spotlight on US bankruptcy regime.)
See: Judge May Not Let Johnson & Johnson Subsidiary File for Bankruptcy in N.C.
 

Dangerous Demolition Practices

Nov 1, 2021

Ecologist and İzmir Deputy Murat Çepni last week called for action on the illegal demolition of buildings that contained asbestos material. The rapid pace of urban transformation projects and the laxity of enforcement of regulations had opened loopholes which had allowed dangerous practices to persist. It was essential, according to the Deputy, to hold a parliamentary investigation regarding the public health and environmental problems caused by the uncontrolled demolition of buildings which contained asbestos. See: Çepni: 2010'da yasaklanan ve kansere neden olan asbest, hala kullanıliyor! [Çepni: Banned in 2010 and causing cancer, asbestos is still used!].
 

Asbestos in Schools

Nov 1, 2021

According to a spokesperson for the Bloco de Esquerda – a leftist democratic-socialist party in Portugal – the City Council of Almada ordered asbestos removal work to begin at the Anselmo de Andrade Secondary School while students and teachers were in attendance. It’s alleged that work to remove asbestos-cement roofing, which started on October 13, posed a health hazard to all those on the premises at that time. The Council denied that removal work was undertaken during school hours saying that only preparatory work had been done at that time with the removal work scheduled after 6 p.m. See: Está a ser removido amianto em escola de Almada durante o período letivo? [Is asbestos being removed at a school in Almada during the school term?].
 

Eradicating the Asbestos Hazard

Nov 1, 2021

Last week, two companies based in the Balearic Islands signed an agreement to formalize a commercial initiative which will see them join forces to offer a 21st century solution to a long-standing problem: what to do about toxic asbestos-containing roofing. Operatives from SAMPOL Energy and Vestalia will remove asbestos roofing at industrial sites and replace it with photovoltaic panels which will remediate the presence of carcinogenic material as well as reduce the companies’ carbon footprint. See: SAMPOL Energía y Vestalia unen fuerzas para convertir el amianto en energía solar [SAMPOL Energía and Vestalia join forces to convert asbestos into solar energy].
 

Update: Asbestos Cancer Research

Oct 28, 2021

The article cited below reported on the publication on October 14, 2021 of a paper entitled: Nivolumab versus placebo in patients with relapsed malignant mesothelioma (CONFIRM): a multicentre, double-blind, randomised, phase 3 trial in The Lancet. Research conducted by the UK authors of the paper concluded that: “Nivolumab represents a treatment that might be beneficial to patients with malignant mesothelioma who have disease progression on first-line therapy.” See: Malignant mesothelioma overall survival increased by nivolumab.
 

Empty Promises as Asbestos Deaths Mount

Oct 28, 2021

Despite promises by the Government in Madrid to set up a fund to compensate Spanish asbestos victims, there are no indications that the upcoming budget will include provisions for establishing a nationwide scheme. In 2017, the Basque Parliament demanded that Congress acted swiftly to support the injured, many of whom lived in the Basque Country. In April, 2021, Congress said that processing of this initiative would go ahead with the support of all parliamentary groups except for the far-right Vox Party. Alas, deadlines have come and gone and nothing has been finalized. See: Hacienda se niega a incluir en los Presupuestos el fondo de compensación a las víctimas del amianto [Treasury refuses to include the compensation fund for asbestos victims in Budgets].
 

Illegal Dumping of Asbestos Waste

Oct 28, 2021

On October 27, 2021 it was reported that truckloads of toxic soil were being dumped across the city of Melbourne in Australia. Much of the soil had, said the reporter, been found to contain asbestos. An increase in the cost of using licensed landfill sites to dispose of contaminated earth was one reason that developers, builders and waste disposal companies were resorting to illegal fly tipping. In some instances, the waste was sold at a low price as in-fill for the building of hardstanding or paved areas. Consumers were warned to query the bona fides of contractors offering to remove waste or provide in-fill at cheap prices. See: Truckloads of asbestos-ridden soil being dumped across Melbourne.
 

Quebec’s Deadly Asbestos Legacy

Oct 28, 2021

An episode of The Green Week, a program on the French-language public television channel ICI Radio-Canada Télé, that was broadcast on October 23, 2021, featured a 20+ minute segment entitled: “Restore the Impossible.” Through historic footage and numerous photographs, the episode detailed widespread contamination, by hundreds of thousands of tonnes of asbestos mining waste, in the city of Thetford Mines and other former asbestos mining sites. Asbestos fibers contained in the mountains of tailings get into the air as well as into surface water, posing a health hazard to local people and damaging the environment. See: La Semaine Verte Octobre 23, 2021 [The Green Week. October 23, 2021].
 

Guilty of Asbestos Manslaughter!

Oct 27, 2021

Last week, the Court of Appeal in Lecce, Italy sentenced former company directors Sergio Noce and Attilio Angelini to one year and ten months of imprisonment for the manslaughter of six workers who had died from asbestos-related diseases caused by toxic occupational exposures. Sergio Noce, now 84, was a director between 1982 and 1984 of Italsider, Italy’s largest steel producer. Attilio Angelini was employed as a company manager between 1984 and 1987. Both sentences were suspended. Before this ruling, other verdicts in this case had been issued and cancelled by the Court of Cassation and the Court of Appeal. See: Ex Italsider, morti per amianto: condannati due ex dirigenti [Former Italsider, dead of asbestos: two former executives sentenced].
 

Asbestos on the Railways

Oct 27, 2021

The legacy of asbestos-containing material used on the UK railways remains a problem for managers as well as workers. “It is possible that any train, station or depot constructed before the year 2000 may contain asbestos,” reported an article uploaded on October 25, 2021. The article listed pieces of legislation and guidelines which assigned responsibilities for protecting workers and the public from toxic exposures including: Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012, Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals Regulations 2013 and Waste Classification WM3 2015. See: Managing asbestos on the railway.
 

California: New Rights for Victims' Relatives

Oct 27, 2021

On October 1, 2021, the Governor and Secretary of the State of California signed a bill which will allow family members to posthumously claim compensation for pain and suffering endured during the lifetime of a deceased relative. The new law – based on Senate Bill No. 447 – comes into effect on January 1, 2022 and marks a turning point for people killed by asbestos-related diseases and others. Forty-five other US states, have similar provisions which uphold the legal rights of victims and their families; the hold out states are Florida, Idaho, Colorado and Arizona. According to one US attorney, prior to the passage of this bill, “asbestos companies received a ‘death discount’ if a mesothelioma victim passed away prior to trial.” See: Bill Information: SB-447 Civil actions: decedent’s cause of action.(2021-2022).
 

Quebec’s Environmental Asbestos Disaster

Oct 25, 2021

One of the many adverse legacies of Canada’s asbestos mining industry is the widespread contamination posed by the dumping of hundreds of thousands of tonnes of asbestos-contaminated waste. The article cited below describes recent discoveries made in Thetford Mine, a Quebec city founded on the commercial exploitation of chrysotile (white) asbestos, known locally as white gold. Eight hundred million tonnes of toxic tailings cover an area of 1,500 hectares through which the Bécancour river flows. As the dumps erode, rainwater takes asbestos fibers downhill and into the water table and stream. See: Restaurer la vallée de l'amiante une halde à la fois [Restoring the asbestos valley one dump at a time].
 

Evidence for Ukraine Asbestos Ban

Oct 25, 2021

An English language article uploaded on October 20, 2021 to a Ukraine news portal reported an interview with Andreas Helbl, Director of iC Consultants Ukraine and Managing Partner of CES clean energy solutions. Helbl was categorical about the human health hazard posed by the use of asbestos saying exposure to “any type of asbestos is dangerous… We know that asbestos is dangerous in principle… Therefore, most countries in the world have banned the use of asbestos a long time ago. The market began to offer new types of building materials, and it turned out that there is no such great need for asbestos and that it can be easily substituted...” See: In sustainable construction, the use of recycled materials gives the building extra points and increases the company's rating.
 

Toxic Railway Imports into Vietnam

Oct 25, 2021

On October 24, 2021, an article was uploaded to a Vietnam news portal which raised the alert over the donation by Japan of 37 forty-year old railway carriages which could contain products made with asbestos. Although the Japanese carriages were more modern than the ones currently used in Vietnam, experts warned of environmental, health and economic issues posed by putting into service carriages known to be contaminated. If a specialist company in Vietnam were to remove the asbestos material, there is no service licensed to handle hazardous asbestos waste in Vietnam. See: Vụ 37 toa tàu Nhật Bản tặng, cần xem xét cẩn trọng vật liệu sản xuất [The case of 37 carriages donated by Japan, need to carefully consider production materials].
 

Outreach Initiative for Asbestos Victims

Oct 25, 2021

On October 21 & 22, 2021 a “Healing Camp” took place in Gongju, South Chungcheong Province, Korea to help bolster the psychological health of people suffering from asbestos-related diseases. The event, which has been held every year since 2015, was hosted by the Asbestos Environmental Health Center of Soonchunhyang University, and had a particular emphasis on the mental and physical stress caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. The participants benefited from time spent in the Magoksa forest, recreational activities and health information sessions. See: 충남, 석면 피해자 심리적 안정 돕는다 [Chungcheongnam-do helps asbestos victims to psychologically stabilize].
 

Legal Win for Bereaved Family

Oct 25, 2021

Last week Dr. Tania De Antoniis, a Judge of the Court of Ancona Labor and Social Security Section issued a victim’s verdict over the mesothelioma cancer death in 2017 of a worker who had been employed building ovens over a thirty year period. For decades, asbestos-containing products had been used to insulate the ovens. The Judge dismissed the arguments advanced by the defendant who had asserted that the death had been caused by environmental not occupational exposures to asbestos, awarding the family €900,000 (US$1 million). See: Amianto killer, risarcimento da 900 mila euro [Asbestos killer, compensation of 900 thousand euros].
 

Asbestos Eradication in Schools

Oct 25, 2021

The removal of asbestos from schools in Korea is not being achieved at a uniform rate, with lower than average rates of eradication in Seoul, Gyeonggi and Daejeon. A document released on October 24, 2021 listed the asbestos removal rates from schools as reported by 17 metropolitan/provincial offices of education; nationwide, the average was 56.2% at the end of June, 2021. Better than average results were achieved in Sejong (99.9%), Jeonbuk and Gangwon (81.7%), and Jeju (71.0%). Korea’s Ministry of Education has set a deadline of 2027 for the complete elimination of asbestos from schools. See: 학교 석면 제거 지역별로 편차 커…서울·경기 절반 안 돼 [Asbestos removal in schools varies widely by region… Less than half for Seoul and Gyeonggi-do].
 

European Parliament Action on Asbestos

Oct 22, 2021

By a vote of 675 votes in favor, 2 against and 23 abstentions, Members of the European Parliament voted this week in Strasbourg to ask the European Commission to reduce occupational exposure limits to asbestos from the current limit of 0.1 fibers / cm3 to 0.001 fibers / cm3. In addition, the MEPs issued a call for a European strategy to eradicate the asbestos hazard from the built environment. Asbestos-related occupational diseases should, they agreed, be recognized and compensated in all member states. See: L'amianto uccide ancora 30mila europei ogni anno. Strasburgo: “Rimuoverlo da tutti gli edifice” [Asbestos still kills 30,000 Europeans every year. Strasbourg: “Remove it from all buildings”].
 

Unions Act on Toxic Imports

Oct 22, 2021

Last week, Australia’s Electrical Trades Union (ETU) called on the Assistant Minister for Customs Jason Wood to order the Australian Border Force (ABF) to ramp up screening of imported building materials following the discovery of asbestos-contaminated plasterboard at a construction site in Sydney. The toxic products, which were imported from China by building materials supplier USG Boral, contained “low levels” of asbestos. According to the ABF, it is the responsibility of importers to ensure they do not bring banned products into Australia. See: Sydney asbestos scare prompts union call for increased border screening.
 

Asbestos Industry Growth Reported

Oct 22, 2021

During an interview, Kazakhstan asbestos entrepreneur Erbol Nurkhozhaev reported that chrysotile (white) asbestos fiber production at the mine owned by Kostanay Minerals JSC was reaching capacity levels. He predicted that production in 2021 would reach 250,000 tons(t), up from 227,000t in 2020. The company plans to add another shift to the work roster so that by 2024 production could reach 350,000t/year. Negotiations in Ukraine and Turkey were, he said, ongoing despite the fact that the former country plans to ban asbestos and the later banned it in 2010. Kostanay will be targeting markets in Central and Southeast Asia where demand for asbestos is growing. See: «Мы вышли на предел мощности», - Ербол НУРХОЖАЕВ [“We have reached the limit of capacity,” – Erbol Nurkhozhaev].
 

Failings of Asbestos Regulations

Oct 22, 2021

According to the Canadian Standards Association (CSA), the regulation of workplace and environmental exposures to asbestos in Canada are governed by a patchwork of regulations which are inconsistent and erratic. Following the publication of a new CSA study – Asbestos Management in Canada: Assessing the Need for a National Standard – the Association is calling for the adoption of a national standard to “help foster consistency in asbestos management among jurisdictions, harmonize regulations and practices across the country, establish training and minimal competency levels, and support efforts to enforce compliance.” See: Canadian workers ‘unequally protected’ against asbestos exposure.
 

Demand for Asbestos-Free Materials

Oct 22, 2021

An article on a Ukraine news portal reported increasing consumer demand for building materials which are asbestos-free. According to Andreas Helbl, CEO of iC consultants Ukraine, the transition to asbestos-free technologies will, judging from past experiences, not adversely affect the economy as it will be a gradual process with sufficient time for industrial processes to be transitioned to produce safer material. Plans to ban asbestos are well underway in Ukraine with an asbestos prohibition bill currently under consideration by the Parliament. See: Отказ производителей стройматериалов от асбеста не влияет на экономику – эксперт [Refusal of manufacturers of building materials to use asbestos does not affect the economy – expert].
 

Asbestos in Schools

Oct 22, 2021

On October 20, 2021, the Council of the Portuguese city of Faro announced that all municipal schools were now asbestos-free. The eradication of asbestos contamination at the remaining schools affected had been carried out by the company José Quintino, Lda. under the Algarve2020 program at a cost of €682,000. Work which was undertaken included: “removing the covering of roofs made up of asbestos-cement boards and accessories… [and] the installation of a new covering consisting of panels in galvanized steel sheet …” See: Escolas do concelho de Faro estão livres de amianto [Schools in the municipality of Faro are asbestos-free].
 

Post-Pandemic Calls to Ban Asbestos

Oct 20, 2021

Increasing mobilization of civil society groups in Asia has highlighted the human cost of asbestos use. According to the Regional Secretary of the Building and Wood Workers International Apolinar Tolentino: “This tragic death toll will in future, be avoidable, if countries stop importing asbestos. While global asbestos consumption has fallen by 75 percent in the last 40 years, this is not the case in Asia, where almost all exports are now landing. This is because the asbestos industry still has influence in many governments in Asia.” “There are,” said campaigner Phillip Hazelton “much safer, high quality and competitively priced alternative products for all those that currently are in use that contain asbestos.” See: Calls for asbestos bans across Asia and Pacific intensify.
 

Working to End Asbestos Exposures!

Oct 20, 2021

On October 19, 2021, the Members of the European Parliament voted in a plenary session of the European Parliament on a legislative report on Protecting Workers from Asbestos. Trade unions actively backed this initiative with Tom Deleu of the European Federation of Building and Wood Workers saying: “We cannot turn our backs on construction workers, firefighters, miners, and workers in cleaning or waste disposal, who are regularly exposed to asbestos. No one should be exposed to asbestos!” The resolution was approved by an overwhelming majority! See: Vote for the Asbestos Report!
 

Asbestos Alert in Italy!

Oct 20, 2021

This month, an initiative has been launched by trade unions and business groups in Italy to raise awareness of the asbestos hazard amongst workers in the construction, renovation and demolition sectors. Both hard and virtual copies of the brochure entitled “Asbestos Eye” are being circulated to provide updated information on procedures required to protect workers from toxic exposures. According to Giacomo Meloni, President of one of the project’s sponsoring partners: “When in doubt about whether asbestos is present at a worksite. it is better to stop and have the experts verify” the situation rather than take any risks. See: Confartigianato Sardegna: un opuscolo contro il rischio amianto [Confartigianato Sardegna: a brochure on how to avoid asbestos risks].
 

Update: Johnson & Johnson

Oct 20, 2021

More details have been reported of the mechanisms used by Johnson and Johnson (J&J) to off-load tens of thousands of asbestos cancer claims from consumers who used its iconic talc-based baby powder which has been found to contain asbestos fibers. Last week, J&J put the claims initiated by ovarian cancer and mesothelioma sufferers into a company called LTL Management LLC; on October 14, LTL filed for bankruptcy protection in the state of North Carolina. The talc lawsuits will now be suspended until LTL’s bankruptcy proceedings have been resolved. See: J&J puts talc liabilities into bankruptcy.
 

New Data Identifies Asbestos Hotspots

Oct 20, 2021

Korean campaigners have, for the first time, been able to confirm the deadly repercussions for people living in houses with asbestos-cement roofing using official data. Information collected by officials in the South Korean City of Busan, who have been monitoring the incidence of asbestos cancer since 2011, showed an elevated incidence of asbestos-related disease (ARD) in 11 densely populated areas with asbestos roofing. In these areas, a total of 119 people have contracted ARD. Thirty thousand homes in Busan still have asbestos-containing roofing. See: [취재수첩]119명 석면 질환, 국내 첫 공식 수치 [Reporter's Handbook] Korea's First Official Statistics on 119 Asbestos Disease cases.
 

A Deadly Legacy!

Oct 20, 2021

The consequences of the widespread and unregulated use of asbestos were discussed in the article cited below. Despite the existence of evidence documenting the human health hazard posed by asbestos exposures, a variety of practices were endorsed by the government as a result of which workers and citizens contracted fatal cancers and debilitating diseases. Propaganda distributed by a lobbying group – the National Association of Chrysotile-Cement Manufacturers – was instrumental in prolonging the use of asbestos in Spain throughout the 20th century. See: Salud y cambio global (5): Cuidado con el amianto, que nos sigue matando un siglo después [Health and global changes (5): Beware of asbestos, which continues to kill us a century later].
 

J&J Dumps Cancer Liabilities

Oct 18, 2021

In a widely anticipated and high-profile move that was reported as far afield as Russia and Brazil within minutes of the announcement being made, Johnson & Johnson (J&J) declared it had off-loaded liabilities from tens of thousands of cancer cases using the Texas two-step to exploit corporate bankruptcy laws. J&J dumped the claims over asbestos-contaminated talc-based J&J baby powder into a new subsidiary which was promptly put into Chapter 11 protection. Commenting on the news, US Attorney Joe Satterley categorized J&J’s decision as “corporate fraud at its worst” saying: “There’s no way this litigation presents a material threat to this company. It’s laughable.” See: Johnson & Johnson Puts Talc Injury Claims Into Bankruptcy.
 

Ban Asbestos Event in Zimbabwe

Oct 18, 2021

A workshop on September 30 & October 1, 2021 offered the opportunity for union leaders to raise awareness of the occupational asbestos hazard in Zimbabwe, one of the world’s few remaining asbestos-producing countries. The event was held by unions affiliated with the Building and Wood Workers International. Nicholas Mazarura, General Secretary of the Zimbabwe Construction and Allied Trades Workers’ Union and President Peter Mutasa of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions urged the government to take urgent action to ban asbestos to protect workers. Representatives of employers’ groups and the National Social Security Authority said it was premature to talk about banning asbestos and further research was needed. See: Zimbabwe: Unions pressure government to ban asbestos.
 

Union Calls for Asbestos Eradication Program

Oct 18, 2021

The CWU trade union, representing nearly 188,000 UK communication workers, on October 14, 2021 issued a press release documenting the union’s demands for the Government to undertake the complete eradication of asbestos material from the built environment. According to the CWU’s national health, safety & environment officer Dave Joyce “an estimated six million tons of this fibrous mineral [is] present in more than 1.5 million buildings, including schools and hospitals… UK nurses and teachers are three to five times more likely to develop mesothelioma because of the asbestos in the buildings in which they work.” See: House of Commons Asbestos Inquiry – CWU calls for complete eradication of ‘this toxic fibre’ from all UK buildings.
 

Victims’ Verdict in Bari

Oct 18, 2021

Earlier this month (October 2021), Italian Judge Agnese Angiuli of the Bari Court, Labor Section issued victims’ verdicts which recognized the right of two former Alitalia employees to retire early and receive an uplift in pension payments because of their occupational exposure to asbestos at the Naples and Bari-Palese airports for more than 25 years. See: Dipendenti ex Alitalia Esposti ad Amianto all’Aeroporto Capodichino di Napoli: Il Tribunale Condenna INPS al Prepensionamento [Former Alitalia Employees Exposed to Asbestos at Naples Capodichino Airport: The Court Instructs INPS to allow early retirement].
 

EPA U-Turn on Asbestos

Oct 18, 2021

On October 12, 2021, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reached a settlement with civil society groups which had issued lawsuits against the Agency to force it to adequately evaluate under 2016 revisions to the Toxic Substances Control Act, all the human health risks posed by asbestos. The EPA has agreed to expand the scope of its investigations and to review risks to citizens posed by exposure to all types of asbestos fibers – including chrysotile (white) asbestos – as well as asbestos legacy uses by December 1, 2024. See: US EPA to strengthen asbestos risk evaluation.
 

Compulsory Asbestos Audits

Oct 18, 2021

On October 14, 2021 the publication of a long-awaited Regulation on Demolition of Buildings which mandates that asbestos audits be carried out prior to the commencement of any building or demolition work in Turkey was welcomed by asbestos removal experts. The new regulations will come into force on July 1, 2022, six months later than originally planned. See: Asbest Söküm Uzmanları Derneği Başkanı  Ensari: Denetime Gelen Müfettişler Bile Asbestin Ne Olduğunu Bilmiyor [Asbestos Removal Specialists Association President Ensari: Even the inspectors who come to do the inspection don’t know what asbestos is].
 

Remembering Tommy Nelson

Oct 15, 2021

The funeral took place on October 13, 2021 of one of Scotland’s pioneering asbestos victims’ advocates Tommy Nelson. Tommy, with his friends Harry McCluskey and Iain McKechnie, ran one of the UK’s first charities to support former workmates who had contracted asbestos-related diseases. In an online tribute uploaded on October 14, Phyllis Craig, Director of Action on Asbestos – formerly Clydeside Action on Asbestos – said: “Tommy… put his heart and soul into making sure that those who had been diagnosed with an asbestos condition were treated with dignity and respect.” See: Tommy Nelson, asbestos campaigner and founder member of Clydeside Action on Asbestos, has passed away, aged 83.
 

Maltepe Asbestos Audit Program

Oct 15, 2021

As a result of the widespread use of asbestos-containing products in Turkey, much of the country’s built environment remains contaminated. Regulations intended to prevent toxic exposures to building and demolition workers are routinely ignored. An asbestos inspection program set up in 2016 in Maltepe, a district in Istanbul, however, has identified asbestos in 1,925 properties prior to allowing demolition work to begin. The program operates under the auspices of the Directorate of Environmental Protection and Control and employs two asbestos removal experts to conduct asbestos audits. See: Maltepe asbest denetiminde örnek ilçe [Sample district in Maltepe asbestos inspection].
 

Asbestos Loophole Exposed

Oct 15, 2021

Although the Canadian Government banned the use of asbestos at the end of 2018, a loophole remains which allows the resale of products containing asbestos. As long as this situation persists, say medical experts and health and safety campaigners, Canadians will remain at risk from toxic exposures. Unfortunately, when the problems created by the loophole were reported to Environment and Climate Change Canada – the department of the Government of Canada responsible for coordinating environmental policies and programs – no action was taken. See: Produits contenant de l’amiante: des médecins préoccupés par une échappatoire [Asbestos-containing products: doctors concerned about a loophole].
 

Calls for Wittenoom Remediation

Oct 15, 2021

The Banjima tribe, the traditional owners of the land on which the now derelict Wittenoom blue asbestos mine sits, are calling for the remediation of the 46,000 hectare site contaminated with 64,000 tonnes of highly toxic waste. On October 12, 2021, a petition was tabled at the Parliament of Western Australia calling on the Government to identify those responsible for the environmental catastrophe and to produce a budgeted remediation program which will restore the Pilbara site. "We want,” said Banjima Elder Matiland Parker “our Country cleaned up and made safe for all people, for now and for future generations.” See: Banjima take Wittenoom clean-up fight to WA Parliament.
 

Asbestos Anxiety Claims

Oct 15, 2021

On October 12, the Industrial Tribunal at Chateauroux examined asbestos anxiety claims from 242 former workers who had been employed at La Halle d’Issoudun (Indre) – a logistics and transport company. According to the claimants, the management of the company – which closed in 2020 – had known about the presence of asbestos in the warehouse since 2010 but had kept the workforce in the dark about the extensive contamination until 2019, shortly before the site was closed. The judgment will be handed down on January 7, 2022. See: Indre. Exposés à l’amiante, 242 ex-salariés aux prud’hommes pour faire reconnaître un préjudice d’anxiété [Indre. Exposed to asbestos, 242 former employees appear at the industria
 

Online Rally Calls for Relief Reforms

Oct 15, 2021

An online rally, attended by eight members of the Diet, victims of asbestos-related diseases and relatives, was held on October 7, 2021 by a group representing asbestos cancer sufferers, to highlight the inadequacy of medical care and the paucity of treatment options for patients with mesothelioma, the signature cancer caused by exposure to asbestos. Discrepancies existing under the Asbestos Health Damage Relief Act which financially penalized sufferers were also examined. See: アスベスト被害者の救済制度 「抜本改正」求めオンライン集会 [Online rally for asbestos victim relief system “dramatic revision”].
 

Alert over Asbestos Use in Vietnam

Oct 12, 2021

The article cited below appeared on October 9, 2021 on a Vietnamese website and warned of the dangers posed by the continued use of a class 1 carcinogen in Vietnam. With a latency period measured in decades and the widespread presence of asbestos-containing material throughout the country, workers and consumers remain at risk of toxic exposures on a daily basis. Diseases linked with exposure to asbestos include several types of cancer. See: Bị hơn 60 quốc gia cấm, loại “chất độc” gây ung thư mà WHO khuyến cáo hóa ra đang rình rập ngay trong những đồ vật quen thuộc nhà bạn [Banned by more than 60 countries, the “poison” that the WHO tells us causes cancer turns out to be lurking within familiar objects].
 

New Asbestos Roofing Factory

Oct 12, 2021

On October 7, 2021, a new factory for the production of asbestos-cement roofing material was opened by the President of Tajikistan Emomali Rahmon in the city of Buston in the north of the country. The manufacturing equipment for the new plant was made in China, one of the world’s biggest producers and users of asbestos. The plant’s output will be sold domestically and will replace imported goods. President Rahmon urged factory owner Zarif Samadov to expand production levels and launch new product lines. See: Рахмон открыл новое промышленное предприятие в Бустоне [Rahmon opens new industrial plant in Buston].
 

Asbestos Find Closes Construction Sites

Oct 12, 2021

Wild-cat action was taken at a multi-billion dollar development site in Brisbane when a small group of workers learned of the presence of asbestos-contaminated plasterboard products imported from China. Routine laboratory tests had found low levels of asbestos contamination in a sample of vermiculite used at the Camellia site in Sydney. “It seems,” said a company spokesperson “likely that this contamination occurred at the source of mining the vermiculite, but in any event occurred prior to delivery to our sites.” Work was later suspended at a number of other construction sites by trade unions. See: Asbestos scare: Workers walk off building sites, including Queen’s Wharf.
 

Progress in Banning Asbestos: Update

Oct 12, 2021

Despite the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic in Vietnam, there has been substantial progress made by ban asbestos campaigners with a 50% drop in asbestos fiber imports in the last two years. The fall in imports has been due to increasing awareness of the asbestos hazard which has resulted from actions undertaken by the Vietnam OSH Association, the Institute for Resources, Environment and Community Development and their Vietnamese partners working in collaboration with the Australian organization Union Aid Abroad, the German Catholic Bishops’ Organization for Development Cooperation, the Asian Ban Asbestos Network and others. See: Vietnam Eliminating Asbestos Disease Campaign Update.
 

Secondary Occupational Exposure Case

Oct 12, 2021

On October 6, 2021, a settlement was reached by lawyers representing the Japanese Government with the family of a woman who died from asbestos cancer. Although the deceased had not worked with asbestos herself, she had been employed from 1953-1954 and 1957-1960 in a factory in Amagaski City where the processing of asbestos had taken place. A payment of ¥14 million (US$125,200) compensation was made. See: アスベスト扱わない作業で死亡の女性…国が賠償金1400万円の支払いで遺族と和解 [A woman who died from secondary occupational asbestos exposure... The government settled with the bereaved family by paying compensation of 14 million yen].
 

Government Asbestos Payments Increase

Oct 12, 2021

An announcement on September 27, 2021, clarified changes that will be made on January 1, 2022 to compensation payments to Italian asbestos victims by the National Institute for Insurance against Occupational Accidents and Diseases (INAIL). The changes include a monthly increase equivalent to 15% of the retirement pension and one-off payments of €10,000 to mesothelioma patients or surviving relatives as long as applications for this benefit were made within three years of when the condition was diagnosed. See: L'indennità per le vittime di amianto diventa mensile [Compensation for asbestos victims goes monthly].
 

Police to Investigate Asbestos Case

Oct 7, 2021

The Danish Working Environment Authority has referred to the police a case in which a construction site manager in Copenhagen allowed asbestos exposures of 20 members of the workforce to continue for a week during August 2021. The manager initially lied about the presence of asbestos and then forged test results to say that no asbestos had been found. When union members grew suspicious and rang the laboratory which had analyzed samples taken at the site, they were told that the samples had shown the presence of asbestos. Three hundred people die in Denmark every year from asbestos-related diseases. See: Tømrere udsat for asbest efter test-fusk: “Nu får jeg måske uhelbredelig kræft” [Carpenters exposed to asbestos after test cheating: “Now I may get incurable cancer”].
 

Compensation for Dockyard Workers

Oct 7, 2021

On October 6, 2021 at a news conference in the capital of Malta, government spokesmen announced government compensation for 49 asbestos victims who had worked in the dockyards – ranging from €5,800 to €16,600. The amounts seem paltry considering that other dockyard workers or their surviving families had received between €140,000-€150,000 in 2019 and 2020, respectively. Finance Minister Clyde Caruana told the attendees at the meeting, which included retired dockyard workers: “We are here today because the health of workers was put at risk… What happened, happened. We can’t turn back the clock. But today we can recognize what happened and at least the government can do the least thing, which is compensation.” See: Dockyard workers compensated for asbestos exposure – but most have already died.
 

Calls to Ban Asbestos in Asia!

Oct 7, 2021

An article on the website of the Building and Woodworkers International (BWI) reported the ongoing mobilization by BWI affiliates, asbestos victims’ groups and partnering organizations which are calling for asbestos to be outlawed by Asian governments in order to protect the health of workers and members of the public. A Joint Communiqué issued at the end of a three-day online conference last month said that “asbestos, which is still being consumed in many countries, is a time bomb that can explode at any moment with deadly consequences.” See: Asia: Advocates push for a total ban of asbestos trade.
 

Court Supports Factory Victim’s Claim

Oct 7, 2021

A former worker from a biscuit factory in the Northern Spanish city of Viana has won his case at the Superior Court of Justice of Navarra. The claimant, who has “pleural effusion, possibly fibrosis,” argued that his disability was due to an occupational disease caused by workplace asbestos exposure over a 20-year period. The Judge, who agreed that the disability was permanent and had been caused by asbestos exposures, awarded him benefits of €1,957.61 (US$ 2,260) per month against the objections of lawyers representing the National Institute of Social Security and the former employer. See: Reconocen a un trabajador que su enfermedad se debe a la exposición al amianto durante 20 años en Viana [The cause of a worker’s illness is recognized as due to 20 years of asbestos exposure in Viana].
 

Asbestos Hotlines

Oct 7, 2021

From 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. on October 5 & 6, 2021, citizens concerned about workplace asbestos exposures in Japan, past and present, were able to access to a range of specialists in Sendai on an asbestos hotline set up by trade unions, medical institutions and legal professionals. Whilst the aim was to spread awareness of the rights of construction workers injured by occupational asbestos exposures, callers throughout Japan were also able to consult on issues relating to other diseases caused by toxic exposures at workplaces. See: 建設アスベスト被害 電話相談会 [Construction asbestos damage telephone counselling].
 

Victim’s Court Triumph

Oct 4, 2021

A Basque court this month (October 2021) ordered the former employers of a worker who died in 2015 from an asbestos-related disease to pay compensation to his family equivalent to 50% of the Social Security benefits they receive. In April 2018, a court in Donostia confirmed that the death was due to an occupational disease which had been caused by “significant exposure to asbestos fibers” in the workplace. The earlier denial by government agencies that the death was occupationally related was rejected by the court. See: Condenan a pagar un recargo del 50% en una muerte por amianto [Ordered to pay a 50% surcharge over asbestos death].
 

Korean Asbestos Hotspots

Oct 4, 2021

The South Korea city of Busan has the second highest number of asbestos patients (16.1%) in the country after Chungnam (36%), according to an analysis undertaken by the Environmental Health Civic Center and Korea Ban Asbestos Network. On October 3, 2021, they announced that, according to government data, 5,295 people received asbestos benefits in Korea between 2011 and 2021. There are 10 abandoned mines in Chungnam which are, it is believed, contaminated with asbestos. Asbestos factories were operational in Busan between the 1970s and 1990s. See: 전국 석면환자 부산 2위…경기·서울보다 많아 [Busan ranked second in the nation for asbestos patients… More than Gyeonggi and Seoul].
 

Asbestos In Schools

Oct 4, 2021

The BBC and trade unions are raising the alarm over asbestos contamination of 900 schools in Wales; these properties constitute 60% of all schools in Wales. Whilst most of the properties are regularly expected, some surveys are more than ten years old. Guidance by the Welsh Government recommends that asbestos surveys should be kept up to date. David Evans, Wales Secretary for the National Education Union, who was alarmed about the presence of asbestos in schools said: “We would be keen to know what plans each local authority has in place for the safe removal of this asbestos, it is simply unacceptable in this day and age.” See: Safety worries as asbestos in 60% of Welsh schools.
 

Appeal Court Upholds Victim’s Ruling

Oct 4, 2021

An Argentinean insurance company was ordered by a Court to pay compensation of US$72,730 to a former employee of a gas company who as a result of occupational exposure to asbestos has contracted the asbestos cancer, mesothelioma. A Court of Appeal upheld a lower court’s ruling in favor of the claimant, agreeing that no safeguards had been put in place to protect the workforce and that the company ART Expert had been negligent. See: ART deberá pagar $7 millones a trabajador expuesto al amianto [ART must pay $7 million to worker exposed to asbestos].
 

Government to Defend Asbestos Industry

Oct 1, 2021

An article on a Russian website rehashed the news that Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov had in early September 2021 recommitted the Government to the defense of an industrial sector which employed 400,000 people in the mining of chrysotile (white) asbestos fiber and manufacture of 300 types of asbestos-containing products; asbestos companies like Orenburg Minerals made valuable contributions to the Russian economy. The author of the text bemoaned the continuous attacks on the industry from foreign commercial and political interests which had undermined confidence in the use of asbestos products, thereby decreasing demand. See: Государство поддержит хризотиловую индустрию в РФ [The state will support the chrysotile industry in the Russian Federation].
 

Asbestos Industry: Illegal and Immoral

Oct 1, 2021

In a commentary of September 28, 2021, Carlos Juliano Barros considered the ludicrous and illegal situation in Brazil which has allowed an asbestos mining company to continue producing and exporting chrysotile (white) asbestos fiber despite a Supreme Court ban. According to Barros: “nothing justifies the mining of a fiber banned in more than 60 countries by express recommendation of the World Health Organization (WHO).” He condemned the ineptitude of the judiciary and the short-term outlook and greed of local and federal authorities. See: Nada justifica que o Brasil continue exportando um produto cancerígeno [Nothing justifies Brazil continuing to export a carcinogenic product].
 

Flouting of National Asbestos Ban

Oct 1, 2021

On September 8, 2021, a letter was sent to the the Canadian government by civil society groups raising the alert over the availability on eBay Canada of items such as asbestos-containing gloves, ironing boards, kitchen items, tiles, etc. despite the fact that the Government had banned asbestos at the end of 2018. The Government was asked to implement measures to prevent sales of new asbestos-containing products as well as the resale of second-hand ones. See: Canadian government asked to stop sale of asbestos-containing products.
 

Government Failing Asbestos Victims

Oct 1, 2021

At an event at the Press Center of the Chungnam Provincial Office on September 30, 2021, Korean asbestosis victim Nam-eok Lee joined other speakers in calling for new government measures to recognize asbestos victims, improve compensation payments and provide better treatment for victims. Lee told the meeting: “I never worked in an asbestos mine… I lived right next to Gwangcheon Station, and at that time, there was a mountain of asbestos piled up like a mountain. I used to paint on the ground with asbestos.” The Government was not, he said, managing asbestos properly. See: “석면 방치한 정부 책임 커... 차등 없이 지원해야” [The government is responsible for neglecting asbestos… We need support without discrimination.”
 

Second Mesothelioma Nurse for Welsh Patients

Oct 1, 2021

As part of Project Cymru, an initiative to improve services for mesothelioma patients in Wales, it was announced this week that Sam Williams had been appointed by Mesothelioma UK as the second Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS) in Wales. CNS Williams, who will join Sarah Morgan, Mesothelioma UK Senior CNS and Project Lead for Wales, will be based at the Aneurin Bevan University Health Board and will be providing support for mesothelioma patients in Blaenau Gwent, Caerphilly, Monmouthshire, Newport, Torfaen and South Powys. See: New Clinical Nurse Specialist appointed to support asbestos-related cancer patients in Wales.
 

A Toxic Legacy, A Call for Action

Oct 1, 2021

The widespread and unregulated use of asbestos in Spain continues to claim lives with millions of toxic products remaining in the built environment. As asbestos-containing products age, they become increasingly friable and likely to release toxic fibers into the air. The only way to protect workers and the public from the asbestos hazard, say Spanish campaigners, is to eradicate the contaminated products from the national infrastructure. A coalition of civil society groups, asbestos victims’ associations and trade unions has issued a call for a Comprehensive Asbestos Law to address the multiplicity of challengers posed by the national asbestos legacy. See: Amianto, una amenaza silenciosa y mortal: “Quitarlo significa salvar vidas [Asbestos, a Silent and Deadly Threat: “Removing it means saving lives”].
 

France’s Asbestos Catastrophe

Sep 28, 2021

An insightful and comprehensive commentary on the sustained and diverse failures by the French Government to address the deadly repercussions of decades of asbestos use has been written by the daughter of Paul Dupeyroux, who died of the asbestos cancer mesothelioma having lived near an asbestos factory during his childhood. Author Virginie Dupeyroux condemned the lack of funding for asbestos cancer research, the failure to decontaminate the environment, the marginalization of victims and the lack of support they receive. She also indicted the judicial system which had failed to hold to account any of company executives or lobbyists responsible for the country’s asbestos epidemic. See: Scandale de l’amiante: le mépris de l’État français [Asbestos scandal: contempt for the French state].
 

Call for Lower Asbestos Exposure Limit

Sep 28, 2021

On September 27, 2021, the European Parliament's Committee on Employment and Social Affairs will have a virtual meeting during which they will consider a legislative report on Protecting Workers from Asbestos. Paramount amongst the issues to be discussed is whether a new Occupational Exposure Limit for asbestos should be set at 1000 fibers/m3 (0.001f/cm3). A press release by the European Federation of Building and Woodworkers (link below) urged the European Parliament to make this issue a priority saying the current standard was “far outdated” and did not protect “construction workers, miners, and workers in cleaning or waste disposal…” See: Press Release: “On asbestos there is no right or left! Vote for zero cancer!”
 

Regional Asbestos Outreach

Sep 28, 2021

Justine Ross, the CEO of Australia’s Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency last week participated in a virtual meeting about progressing efforts in Cambodia to safeguard citizens from asbestos exposures. She explained the nature and scope of Australia’s deadly asbestos legacy and the need to stop all types of asbestos exposures as a matter of utmost urgency. This week Ms. Ross will be updating ban asbestos campaigners taking part in the 2021 virtual meeting of the Asian Ban Asbestos Network about the Agency’s remit to help progress asbestos bans throughout Asia. See: Website of the Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency.
 

Update: Mesothelioma Treatments

Sep 28, 2021

A paper just published in the New England Journal of Medicine by mesothelioma researchers working in the UK considered “how rapid advances in our understanding of the genetics and biology of malignant pleural mesothelioma could translate into more effective therapies.” The authors of this paper, who concluded that well-controlled investigations and personalized treatment plans could progress the search for improved treatments, noted the continued increases in mesothelioma rates in developing countries. See: Perspectives on the Treatment of Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma.
 

Reinvention of Former Asbestos Giant

Sep 28, 2021

The former Brazilian asbestos conglomerate Eternit S.A. has announced progress in its plans to market a revolutionary asbestos-free roofing technology which makes lower cost photovoltaic tiles available in Brazil. The company abandoned production of asbestos-cement roofing products because there was no longer a “social license” for the sale of this material. Nevertheless, the Eternit subsidiary SAMA continues to mine chrysotile (white) asbestos fiber which is exported to countries around the world. See: Após deixar o amianto e lançar telha de energia solar, a Eternit quer mais [After rejecting asbestos and launching solar energy tile, Eternit wants more].
 

Honeywell Sues Asbestos Trust Fund

Sep 28, 2021

A frequently named asbestos defendant Honeywell International Inc. has brought a lawsuit [15-00204] in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania (Pittsburgh) against a trust fund that had been set up to resolve the bankruptcy of North American Refractories Co. (Narco), a former Honeywell affiliate. In return, administrators for the trust fund have issued a countersuit accusing Honeywell of trying to evade its liability for asbestos claims brought by individuals injured by exposure to Narco products. See: Honeywell, Asbestos Victims Battle Over $2.3 Billion in Claims.
 

Record Number of Mesothelioma Deaths

Sep 23, 2021

Data revealed on September 10, 2021 by the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare documented a record number of deaths in 2020 from mesothelioma, the signature cancer associated with asbestos exposure. Fatalities were concentrated in the areas of Tokyo, Osaka, Yokohama, Sapporo, Nagoya and Amagasaki, with the number of deaths amongst males (1,337) nearly five times that of females (268). Epidemiologists predict that between 2000 and 2040, the Japanese mesothelioma epidemic could claim a further 103,000 lives. See: 昨年の中皮腫死1600人超で最多 ワースト3は東京・大阪・神奈川 アスベスト曝露と連動 [Last year's mesothelioma deaths exceeded 1,600, the worst 3 linked to Tokyo / Osaka / Kanagawa asbestos exposure].
 

Toxic Talc Lawsuit Reinstated

Sep 23, 2021

On September 21, 2021, by unanimous consent a California Appeals Court reinstated a lawsuit by the widow of Douglas Strobel against Johnson and Johnson (J&J). Mr. Strobel’s death aged 68 in 2020 from the asbestos cancer mesothelioma was caused, he believed, by his lifelong use of J&J’s talc-based baby powder. In the Court’s 44-page ruling, they rejected an earlier finding that expert witnesses did not have first-hand evidence that the talcum powder used had contained asbestos fibers and remanded the lawsuit for “further proceedings.” This decision can be appealed to the California Supreme Court. See: Court reinstates suit by Solano County woman against J&J over baby powder.
 

Reprieve for Export of Toxic Warship

Sep 23, 2021

From the moment plans were announced to export the redundant Brazilian warship the São Paulo to Turkey for scrapping, environmental activists, Turkish politicians and communities in the shipbreaking Province of Izmir have been campaigning to keep the vessel in Brazil. Citing multiple infringements of international protocols and inadequate protections at Turkish scrapyards, the São Paulo has ignited a debate over the dumping of ships, often containing a multitude of toxins including asbestos, in Turkey. The latest development in this saga is a lawsuit filed at the 16th Federal Court of Rio de Janeiro by a group wanting to turn the former aircraft carrier into a museum. See: Ação popular tenta barrar sucateamento de antigo porta-aviões da Marinha [Popular action tries to stop the scrapping of a former Navy aircraft carrier].
 

Wallonia Says NIMBY

Sep 23, 2021

Available space for the approved disposal of asbestos waste in Wallonia, the French-speaking region of southern Belgium, is running out. Of four possible landfills in Wallonia, one has been closed for years, another is nearly full and another is due to close in 2022. That leaves the site in Habay as the only one available. Habay’s Mayor says the increase in toxic dumping would pose a risk to the health of the town’s residents and to people living in villages along the roads used by transport companies to bring the debris to Habay. Questions have been submitted for the attention of Walloon Minister of the Environment Céline Tellier about alternative solutions to this problem. See: Les déchets d’amiante de Wallonie viendront-ils tous à Habay? Des élus s’inquiètent [Will all asbestos waste from Wallonia come to Habay? Elected officials worry].
 

New Asbestos Victims’ Outreach Project

Sep 23, 2021

Earlier this week, the Emilia Romagna branch of the Italian asbestos victims’ group AFeVA announced plans to open a bureau in Rimini on October 4, 2021 to provide on-the-spot information and support for sufferers of asbestos-related diseases and people who have concerns about toxic exposures. Other AFeVA Emilia Romagna branches are already up and running in the Italian cities of Bologna, Reggio Emilia, Rubiera, Ravenna, Faenza, Ferrara and Rovigo. See: AFeVA ER Sportelli Amianto: apre lo sportello amianto di Rimini [AFeVA ER Asbestos branches: opens the asbestos branch in Rimini].
 

2028 Deadlines for Asbestos Eradication

Sep 23, 2021

Draft Spanish legislation on waste and contaminated soils being prepared by the Ministry of Ecological Transition and Demographic Challenge will, if approved by Parliament, mandate that municipalities conduct asbestos audits of their buildings and draw up a program for asbestos eradication within one year and remove the most dangerous asbestos-containing materials in their buildings by 2028. See: Los ayuntamientos deberán eliminar el amianto de mayor riesgo antes de 2028: “A nadie le interesa reconocer el tema” [Municipalities will be compelled to eliminate the most high-risk asbestos before 2028: “(since) nobody appears interested in doing so (voluntarily)”].
 

Justice for Power Station Worker

Sep 21, 2021

On September 15, 2021, a victim’s judgment handed down last month by a district court in the Japanese city of Yokosuka was finalized when neither party lodged a motion to appeal. The plaintiff Haruo Koyama had been awarded ¥22 million (US$201,000) by the court for having been negligently exposed to asbestos over a period of 40 years by his employer at the Hitachi Power Station. As a result of that exposure, Koyama contracted the asbestos cancer mesothelioma. See: アスベストで中皮腫発症 会社に2000万円支払いの地裁判決が確定 [Mesothelioma caused by asbestos. A district court decision for company to pay 20 million yen is confirmed].
 

Asbestos Exposure at the Laundry

Sep 21, 2021

An Italian lawsuit on behalf of a woman who had contracted mesothelioma after decades of asbestos exposure at a dry-cleaning establishment has succeeded. After attempts to gain recognition of her disease as occupationally-caused had been unsuccessful in 2017, the action was launched. On September 8, 2021, the Court of Bologna officially recognized the professional nature of the claimant’s disease and ordered INAIL, a government agency, to backdate to 2017 her occupational pension. See: AFeVA Bologna – Riconoscimento Malattia Professionale per Mesotelioma in ex lavoratrice stiratrice in un lavasecco industrial dal 1953 al 1962 [AFeVA Bologna – Recognition of mesothelioma as occupational disease in worker employed from 1953 to 1962 at dry cleaning workshop].
 

Direct Action on Asbestos Trial

Sep 21, 2021

French asbestos victims have grown weary of waiting for a trial to hold to account people behind the country’s largest epidemic of occupational deaths. On October 23, 2021 papers will be presented to a rally in Dunkirk which will soon after be filed with a Paris Court. Along with evidence identifying ten defendants which will be submitted to the court is a petition calling for a public hearing and trial of the accused. Asbestos-related diseases kill up to 5,000 people every year in France. See: Amiante: les victimes déposeront une citation directe en octobre [Asbestos: victims will file direct citation in October].
 

Takeover of Asbestos Manufacturer

Sep 21, 2021

On September 15, 2021, Uralasbest – Russia’s second biggest asbestos producer – announced that it had made a “mandatory offer” to acquire minority shares in its new acquisition the Belgorod Asbestos Cement company that had remained in private hands after the Uralasbest takeover was formalized in August 2021. In 2020, Belgorod reduced the production of chrysotile asbestos cement pipes by 13.5% compared to the previous year. Observers believe that the takeover by Uralasbest is fuelled by the need to preserve Russian markets for chrysotile asbestos. See: «Ураласбест» намерен взять полный контроль над белгородским заводом «Белаци» [“Uralasbest” intends to take full control over the Belgorod plant “Belatsi”].
 

Government Asbestos Workshop

Sep 21, 2021

On September 16, 2021, a workshop was held to update stakeholders on the progress of the Gambian Government’s program to prepare a national asbestos inventory. In his opening remarks, Muhammed Jallom Jabang summarized the dangers associated with asbestos exposures and the toxic legacy of historical use throughout the country. The Government was, the speaker said, working closely with development partners and international agencies to ensure “the sustainable and sound management of chemicals and waste.” Highlighting the need to raise public awareness of the asbestos hazard, Jabang said that “asbestos is a threat to human & animal health.” See: Asbestos is threat to human & animal health.
 

Another BBC Asbestos Death

Sep 21, 2021

Another asbestos lawsuit has been launched against the BBC by the bereaved family of Richard Evans who contracted the asbestos cancer mesothelioma having been occupationally exposed to asbestos whilst building sets for high-profile TV programs such as Doctor Who. Mr. Evans, who died in 2019, had worked for the company for 23 years during which time he inhaled asbestos fibers from the plaster material Artex. According to his statement, Evans had “cut open bags of Artex, scooped it into a bucket and mixed it up into a thick paste, sometimes with his hands, creating a dust in the process.” He then spread the mixture on to scenery built by carpenters and painted the resulting pieces of the set. See: BBC sued for set builder’s death in claim over asbestos.
 

Asbestos-Free Gaskets from Siberia

Sep 20, 2021

At a ceremony on September 15 in the Siberian city of Barnaul, a range of asbestos-free gaskets was launched in the presence of local dignitaries, officials and workers from the ATI company. ATI’s Barnaul factory had previously used asbestos technology but due to growing demand for safer and more environmentally friendly products in Russia and abroad it had been decided to replace the old-fashioned production method with a state-of-the-art facility capable of manufacturing greener seals for use not only by the automobile and petrochemical industries but also by the food and medical industries. See: «Не одним днем живут»: барнаульский завод АТИ запустил новое современное производство [“Life moves on”: Barnaul's ATI plant has launched a new state-of-the-art production facility].
 

Rise in Asbestos Cancers Confirmed

Sep 20, 2021

Last week, data reported in a joint 92-page publication by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Labor Organization (ILO) substantiated a rise in global rates of workplace asbestos cancers between 2000 and 2016. Figures on pages 20 & 21 of the report showed increases in mortality: ~30% for tracheal and bronchial cancer; 17% for lung cancer; 21% for ovarian cancer; 13% for laryngeal cancer; 82% for mesothelioma. Epidemiological experts say that the WHO/ILO’s figures continue to underestimate the global asbestos death rate. Bear in mind, as well, that the number of deaths caused by environmental exposures which are non-occupational often exceed those from workplace exposures. See: WHO/ILO Joint Estimates of the Work-related Burden of Disease and Injury, 2000–2016.
 

Asbestos Trial: Update

Sep 20, 2021

Witnesses for the prosecution scheduled to testify at the Italian trial of Swiss billionaire Stephan Schmidheiny on September 17, 2021 included the President of the Piedmont Region Alberto Cirio, trade unionist and ban asbestos campaigner Bruno Pesce and Giuliana Busto, the President of Casale Monferrato’s asbestos victims’ group: AFeVA. On Monday, the Mayor of the town of Casale Monferrato Federico Riboldi, architect Piercarla Coggiola and Giovanna Patrucco are scheduled to testify. See: Eternit Bis: nelle testimonianze in aula rivivono i morti d'amianto [Eternit Bis: in the testimony in the courtroom the dead of asbestos come back to life].
 

Legacy of Asbestos Mining Community

Sep 20, 2021

On September 12, 2021, the Cyprus Minister of the Interior Nikos Nouris took part in an event to launch the publication of a book about the history of the asbestos mining community at the foot of the Troodos mountains of Cyprus. The book entitled “Asbestos The Diamond of Troodos,” written by Kyriakos Papadopoulos drew on historical records, newspaper archives and interviews with local people who described a life sustained by hard work at the asbestos mine by thousands of workers from the villages of Pano and Kato Asbestos. See: Χαιρετισμός του Υπουργού Εσωτερικών κ. Νίκου Νουρή στην παρουσίαση του βιβλίου «Αμίαντος: Το διαμάντι του Τροόδους» [Greeting of the Minister of Interior Mr. Nikos Nouris at the presentation of the book “Asbestos: The Diamond of Troodos”].
 

Fines for Sale of Asbestos Thermos Flasks

Sep 20, 2021

A survey on thermos flasks carried out by the Bahrain Ministry of Trade and Tourism found that 13% of the samples tested contained asbestos. The toxic products were withdrawn from sale. The samples were collected from different points of sale, produced in different countries and of different capacities and brands. The analyses of the contents were conducted as per Australian standard AS 4964 for the qualitative identification of Asbestos in bulk samples. Shop owners who sold the toxic products are being fined and warned not to sell asbestos-containing products. More surveys are planned. The import and use of asbestos and products containing it were banned by a Ministerial Order in 1996. See: Cancer-causing Asbestos Found in 13% Tea, Coffee Containers Tested in Bahrain.
 

Mesothelioma Research: Update from Spain

Sep 20, 2021

The development of new asbestos cancer treatment protocols including the use of immunotherapy are prolonging survival rates for some patients, according to recently published findings by Spanish researchers. The widespread use of asbestos throughout Spain has led to an epidemic of asbestos-related diseases with 300 patients being diagnosed each year with mesothelioma, the signature cancer associated with exposure to asbestos. Scientists hope that work on early detection techniques and personalized treatments will help turn this very aggressive cancer into a chronic disease. See: Nuevas estrategias contra el cáncer del amianto [New strategies against asbestos cancer].
 

Calls for Urgent Action on a Toxic Legacy

Sep 17, 2021

A high-profile feature in a popular newspaper on September 16 detailed the deadly consequences of Spain’s “invisible” asbestos legacy, calling it a “poisoned inheritance” for future generations. In recognition of this ongoing disaster, more than 40 civil society and medical organizations have called on the government to implement a comprehensive law to tackle all aspects of the country’s asbestos legacy and to provide funding to enable work to proceed on addressing the myriad challenges posed by the presence of asbestos in Spain today. See: El amianto, una pandemia "invisibilizada" que dejará una "herencia envenenada": dónde está y cómo afecta a la salud [Asbestos, an “invisible” pandemic that will leave a “poisoned inheritance”: where it is and how it affects health].
 

Allies under the Brussels Sunshine

Sep 17, 2021

Teams of runners from Belgian (ABEVA) and French (ANDEVA) Asbestos Victims’ Groups went head to head in a 20 kilometer race in Brussels on September 12, 2021. Amongst the French runners were ANDEVA’s President Jacques Faugeron, staff members Hélène Boulot and Patrice Raveneau and two volunteers. Although the larger and better trained Belgian team was the first to reach the finishing line under the iconic arch in Bicentennial Park, ANDEVA runners vowed to return for a rematch in 2022. See: L'ANDEVA aux côtés de l'ABEVA pour les 20km de Bruxelles [ANDEVA alongside ABEVA for the Brussels 20km].
 

Immunotherapy Treatment: Update

Sep 17, 2021

A commentary on a US mesothelioma charity website highlighted research findings by a pharmaceutical company due to be released at the 2021 European Society for Medical Oncology meeting today (September 17). According to Bristol Myers Squibb, the three-year overall survival data from its CheckMate-743 study of nivolumab/ipilimumab immunotherapy in mesothelioma showed that 23% of patients were alive at 35.5 months compared to 15% of those treated with chemotherapy. No new side effects had been identified. See: Released 3-year survival data for nivolumab/ipilimumab combination immunotherapy for mesothelioma.
 

Environmental and Urban Contamination

Sep 17, 2021

Asbestos technical specialists have, once again, denounced continued failures by government officials in Turkey to address problems caused by asbestos exposures especially during urban renewal projects. Another challenge in Turkey is the ubiquity of naturally occurring asbestos (NOA) which endangers the lives of people living in many rural communities. Plans announced in the “Turkey Cancer Control Program 2013-2018,” to address this dangerous situation have not been implemented. New research has identified even more settlements affected by NOA. Whereas the earlier plan listed 19 affected villages in Elazig, asbestos was found in the soil of 103 Elazig villages. See: Asbest Türkiye'nin yeni Çernobil'i olabilir..! [Asbestos could be Turkey's new Chernobyl..!].
 

NCARD Webinar

Sep 17, 2021

On September 16, 2021, the National Centre for Asbestos Related Diseases (NCARD) held an in-person and online one-hour webinar entitled: Australia and Asbestos – from community to clinic. The presentations by Professors Richard Lake and Anna Nowak highlighted the lasting and deadly impact asbestos exposures have had in Australia and the cutting-edge research being done by NCARD scientists in developing new treatments and a cure for mesothelioma, the signature cancer associated with asbestos exposures. Their presentations were accessible and informative and gave grounds for being cautiously optimistic that, in the short-term, protocols will be found to prolong survival, and that in the long-term, the terminal disease may become a treatable condition. See: NCARD Webinar.
 

Government U-Turn: FIVA Merge Off!

Sep 15, 2021

The French Government has cancelled plans to merge the Asbestos Compensation Scheme and the Medical Accident Compensation Scheme. As a result of a rebellion by asbestos victims’ groups, trade unionists, politicians and civil society stakeholders, the project was abandoned and will not be included in the next Social Security financing bill. Objections raised included the adverse impact that the merger could have on the speed with which claims brought by dying victims would be recognized and compensated. See (subscription site): Fonds d'indemnisation amiante: le projet de fusion avec l'Office d'indemnisation des accidents médicaux abandonné [Asbestos compensation fund: the proposed merger with the Medical Accident Compensation Office abandoned].
 

Mesothelioma and Covid-19

Sep 15, 2021

Almost one in five patients with malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM) at a Barcelona hospital contracted Covid-19 during the pandemic; the findings reported by a Spanish researcher are in line with results showing an elevated likelihood of patients with lung malignancies contracting coronavirus. According to Dr. Susana Cedres: “18% of patients with MPM were diagnosed with COVID-19 infection during the pandemic, and these patients suffered a very high mortality rate of 54%... I urge health care services to pay particular attention to patients with malignant pleural mesothelioma while managing COVID-19 infections.” See: Study: Nearly one in five patients with malignant pleural mesothelioma contracted COVID-19.
 

Inequitable Ruling by Rome Tribunal

Sep 15, 2021

According to the article cited below, the Regional Administrative Court of Rome recently issued a verdict agreeing with the family of a non-commissioned Army officer who died from cancer in 2013 that his illness had been caused by “prolonged exposure to asbestos.” The soldier had enlisted in the Italian army in 1988 and served in military campaigns in Kosovo, Afghanistan and Bosnia, where asbestos was used in armored vehicles, helicopters and elsewhere. He did not receive any warning about the hazard posed by asbestos exposure. Despite acknowledging the cause of his death, the Judges did not award the family compensation. See: <“Innumerevoli missioni in teatri bellici, maresciallo ucciso dall’amianto” [“Countless missions in war theaters, marshall killed by asbestos”].
 

Asbestos on the Metro

Sep 15, 2021

Trains bought by a regional Spanish government years after the country had banned asbestos (2002) contained asbestos material. This information came to light after a July 31, 2021 crash between two subway cars on line 5 of the Madrid Metro. The Community of Madrid admitted it was aware of the asbestos contamination in these and other carriages. Enquiries are ongoing over whether laws were broken by the purchase of the train carriages. Representatives of the Madrid Metro are now consulting the train manufacturer about the presence of asbestos in the trains when they were purchased. See: Madrid tiene amianto en trenes de 2007 y estudia si se vulneró la ley en sus compras [Madrid (authorities) are investigating whether the law was violated in the purchase of trains in 2007 now found to contain asbestos].
 

Widespread Flouting of Asbestos Regs

Sep 15, 2021

For the first time since the Air Pollution Control Act was revised in April 2021, the results of spot checks – in June 2021 at 227 demolition and renovation sites – by the authorities in Osaka Prefecture were announced. Forty percent of the premises inspected were not complying with regulations that mandated obligations to prepare and display asbestos site audits prior to the commencement of work and prevent the liberation of asbestos fibers into the air. See: アスベスト規制違反 法改正後も約4割 大阪府内のパトロールで発覚 [Violation of asbestos regulations Approximately 40% noncompliance was discovered by patrol in Osaka Prefecture after revision of law].
 

Asbestos Trial over Underground Deaths

Sep 15, 2021

On September 10, 2021, the trial over asbestos-related deaths of six workers from the company which operated the underground transport system in Milan began in the Milan Court of Appeal. The deceased, who had succumbed to their injuries between 2009 and 2015, had been occupationally exposed to asbestos in subway tunnels and in railway carriages. The former manager of the transport company Elio Gambini stands accused of manslaughter, having been acquitted in the first instance by Judge Maria Idra Gurgo di Castelmenandro. See: Amianto nella metropolitana milanese, processo verso l'epilogo [Asbestos in the Milanese underground, epilogue trial].
 

Post 9/11 Cancer Epidemic

Sep 14, 2021

An article on a Polish news portal highlighted the health issues being faced by first responders to the 9/11 attack. According to the text, 18,000 of the 50,000 people who were part of the rescue operations – including manual workers involved in the cleanup – have been diagnosed with serious diseases including 9,795 cases of cancer. The number of casualties continues to grow with many Poles amongst the injured. The lethal cocktail of toxins, including asbestos, in the dust clouds covering the site could, American scientists predict, affect up to 60,000 people. See: Ratowali ludzi po zamachu 11 wrzesnia. Teraz umieraja na raka [They saved people after the 9/11 attack. Now they are dying of cancer].
 

Anxiety Claims Causing “Great Concern”

Sep 14, 2021

The contents of an advisory note contained warnings to companies operating in France and other EU countries of the implications of French verdicts supporting the right of people with asbestos anxiety to receive compensation from negligent employers and a European Commission Committee asbestos opinion highlighting “the urgent need for an effective access to justice and redress for all health damage, including that relating to anxiety.” The author of the note, clearly intended for a corporate readership, warned that not only had French courts already extended the right to claim anxiety compensation for exposure to other toxins but also that the European Commission was being urged to do likewise. See: Anxiety Damage: on the Verge of becoming Companies’ new Stress.
 

Basque Victim’s Verdict

Sep 14, 2021

On September 7, 2021, it was reported that Social Court Number 2 of the Spanish city of Vitoria had condemned the ECN Cable Group of failing to protect its workers from asbestos exposures. The Basque company was ordered to pay compensation of €165,525 (US$200,000) to the family of a bricklayer who had undertaken maintenance work for the company between July 1966 and April 1997. As a result of exposure to asbestos in roofing material and kiln bricks, he contracted mesothelioma, the signature cancer related to asbestos exposure; he died in 2017. See: Condena en Vitoria por la muerte de un trabajador por amianto [Conviction in Vitoria for the death of an asbestos worker].
 

Asbestos Eradication in South Korea

Sep 14, 2021

An update on an eradication program of asbestos-cement roofing in North Gyeongsang Province, South Korea confirmed that by September 10, toxic roofing had been removed from 3,970 houses and 600+ other structures. Work will be carried out on 2,328 additional properties by the end of the year. The annual budget for this work was increased by 18% in 2021 compared to 2020. The majority of the work is subsidized by the Province as a matter of public and environmental health. Asbestos monitoring and fact-finding by officials continue to be a priority matter for the Province. See: “석면슬레이트 제거로 도민 건강하고 보다나은 환경 조성!” [“Creating a healthier and better environment for residents by removing asbestos slate!”].
 

Pioneering Project by Swiss Group

Sep 14, 2021

Representatives of a Swiss Association of Asbestos Victims are launching an outreach program to contact former Italian workers who had been exposed to asbestos whilst employed in Switzerland. Lawyers David Husmann and Massimo Aliotta, current President of the Swiss association Verein für Asbestopfer und Angehörige (Association for Asbestos Victims and their Families) will be holding discussions and meetings in Puglia, Italy from September 16 to 19, 2021 to inform eligible claimants of government benefits available to them under Swiss schemes. See: Amianto, la tutela dei lavoratori italiani in Svizzera e il diritto di essere risarciti anche dopo 20 anni [Asbestos, the protection of Italian workers in Switzerland and the right to be compensated even after 20 years].
 

James Hardie: Asbestos Educator!

Sep 14, 2021

Last week an Australian High Court rejected an application for special leave to appeal in Werfel v. Amaca Pty Limited (formerly James Hardie & Coy Pty Limited). As a result of this ruling, James Hardie will be legally liable for undertaking an extensive public health campaign to raise awareness of the hazards posed by legacy asbestos material within the country’s infrastructure in order to prevent toxic exposures such as those experienced during home renovations. “This decision sets a precedent,” said lawyer Annie Hoffman “for any person who contracts mesothelioma due to drilling, sanding, cutting or handling James Hardie asbestos cement in their homes.” See: Australia will be a safer place as precedent setting South Australian asbestos victims court win upheld.
 

Another Brazilian Asbestos Ban

Sep 13, 2021

The Environment Commission of the Brazilian City of São Carlos, São Paulo State has proposed a law to ban asbestos which would set a deadline for the removal of asbestos-containing products from buildings. Under the draft municipal legislation, a two-year period to replace asbestos-cement water tanks would be specified; schools and health centers would have six months to remediate asbestos material. Elsewhere, asbestos products must be replaced with safer alternatives when they have are removed. See: Comissão de Meio Ambiente propõe lei para banir amianto de São Carlos [Environment Commission proposes law to ban asbestos in São Carlos].
 

Ankara Asbestos Initiative

Sep 13, 2021

An innovative educational meeting to inform municipal civil servants and officers of the asbestos hazard was held under the auspices of the Ankara Metropolitan Municipality. The content of the “Asbestos Awareness Training for Local Governments” program was provided by the Asbestos Dismantling Experts Association of Turkey whose President Mehmet Şeyhmus Ensari thanked the Ankara Metropolitan Municipality for setting an example for other provinces by recognizing the critical role that local and regional authorities had to play in protecting people from toxic exposures especially during urban renewal, renovation and demolition work. See: Farkındalık eğitimi [Awareness Training].
 

Toxic Asbestos Legacy

Sep 13, 2021

Three years after Canada banned asbestos, 30% of all work-related fatalities in the Canadian Province of Saskatchewan are due to asbestos-related diseases. A recent report by WorkSafe Saskatchewan revealed the ongoing hazard posed by asbestos hidden within buildings. Director of Prevention at the Saskatchewan Workers’ Compensation Board Annette Goski appealed to “homeowners, contractors and workers, anyone in the construction field to be aware that asbestos is still a very present and silent killer in our province’s homes and workplaces.” See: WorkSafe Saskatchewan campaign focuses on where asbestos could be hiding.
 

Mesothelioma Treatment: Update

Sep 13, 2021

A new paper by Australian mesothelioma researchers outlined advances in the treatment of mesothelioma patients. Opportunities for increasing survival rates offered by treatment with first-line checkpoint blockade therapy with ipilimumab and nivolumab, especially for patients with nonepithelioid mesothelioma, and improvements in palliative care were examined. The scientists concluded that: “chemotherapy and immunotherapy should be considered for all patients during their disease course…[In addition] a proactive, multidisciplinary approach to symptom management and the principles of management of pleural effusions are critical to manage the symptom burden of mesothelioma and optimize patient well-being.” See: Management of Advanced Pleural Mesothelioma – At the Crossroads.
 

SNCF’s New Asbestos Diagnostic Tool

Sep 13, 2021

SNCF Voyageurs, a subsidiary of the French National Railway Company, has been pioneering a computer application to detect the presence of asbestos in freight wagons with specialist technicians working alongside SNCF personnel. The new tool, which is called e-asbestos, uses artificial intelligence and smartphones to alert operatives about the presence of contaminated parts. There would be multiple advantages to using such a system which would include preventing toxic exposures, eliminating costly laboratory tests and accelerating maintenance schedules for railway workshops. As soon as official approval has been granted, the new diagnostic tool will be put into use. See: SNCF Voyageurs détecte l’amiante grâce à la computer vision [SNCF Voyageurs detects asbestos using computer vision].
 

Sama Asbestos Mine Reopens

Sep 8, 2021

Operations at Brazil’s sole remaining chrysotile asbestos mine restarted on September 3, 2021 after the Superior Court of Justice suspended an August 19, 2021 order by the Court of the District of Uruaçu-GO which had shut down mining in pursuant of a 2017 Supreme Court verdict. The August order shutting down the mining had been a response to a public civil action which had argued that the Supreme Court’s 2017 ruling had banned the commercial exploitation of asbestos throughout Brazil and that an exemption issued by the State of Goiás was invalid. The latest court order suspends the August decision until “a final decision is given…” See: Produtora de amianto controlada da Eternit, Sama retoma atividades [Eternit controlled asbestos producer Sama resumes activities].
 

More Russian Asbestos Lies!

Sep 8, 2021

The Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov last week issued blanket reassurances to representatives of India, Vietnam and other Asian countries during trade negotiations, stating that the use of Russian chrysotile (white) asbestos is “safe.” To support his statement, he cited asbestos policies of the World Health Organization and the International Labor Organization both of which, he said, espoused positions based on the “controlled use of asbestos.” This is a complete fabrication as both agencies have publicly and repeatedly stated that the only way to stop the global epidemic of asbestos-related diseases is to stop the use of all forms of asbestos, including chrysotile. See: Лавров успокоил иностранных партнеров в вопросе хризотилового асбеста [Lavrov reassures foreign partners on the issue of chrysotile asbestos].
 

N.Y. Asbestos Prosecutions

Sep 8, 2021

On September 2, 2021, the New York Attorney General Letitia James and New York City Department of Investigation Commissioner Margaret Garnett announced the indictments of Certified Asbestos Investigators Valentino Buono, Jeff Ezulike, Russell Goss and Kostas Kamberis for filing multiple false asbestos inspection reports and thereby endangering the health of N.Y. workers and citizens. The accused were arraigned before Supreme Court Judge Toni Cimino in Queens County on a total of 19 counts. See: Attorney General James and DOI Commissioner Garnett Announce Indictment of Four Asbestos Investigators for Filing Fraudulent Inspection Reports.
 

Completion of Asbestos Removal Program

Sep 8, 2021

On September 3, 2021, the Council President Miguel Silva Gouveia of the Portuguese City of Funchal announced that the municipality’s program to replace asbestos-cement material in its water delivery system had been completed. According to President Miguel Silva Gouveia, the sum of €570,000 (US$680,000) had been spent to eradicate this public and occupational health hazard. Toxic pipes had been removed at the same time as other improvements were made such as the replacement of pressure regulating valves to improve pressure management in steeper areas. See: Câmara do Funchal erradicou amianto das redes de água potável do concelho [Funchal City Council has eradicated asbestos from the municipality's drinking water networks].
 

Bad News, Good News

Sep 8 2021

Despite findings by India’s Supreme and High Courts supporting the need to protect human beings from exposures to asbestos, neither the central nor state governments have taken action to enforce these pronouncements. The exception is the State of Bihar which is the first State to forbid the setting up of asbestos factories. As a result, the owner of 22 such factories – CK Birla Hyderabad Industries Ltd. – is transitioning its asbestos technology to a safer, eco-friendly production process using asbestos-free materials. India is one of the top asbestos-using countries in the world and the foremost importer of raw asbestos fiber. See: Why no ban on asbestos?
 

Opposition to Government Merger Plans

Sep 8, 2021

On August 31, 2021, at an extraordinary meeting of the directors of the French Asbestos Victims Compensation Fund (FIVA), there was “total opposition” to government plans to merge FIVA with the National Medical Accident Compensation Office (ONIAM). The rejection of this plan was supported by eight FIVA directors representing trade unions and employers, four from victim support groups and associations as well as four with professional expertise. The five directors representing the Government abstained from the vote. See: Amiante: le Fiva rejette le projet gouvernemental de fusion avec l'Oniam [Asbestos: Fiva rejects government plan to merge with Oniam].
 

Asbestos Hazard at Philadelphia School

Sep 6, 2021

The failure to address asbestos contamination at one of Philadelphia’s most high-profile schools, led to a drastic action last week by teachers, students and parents who refused to enter Masterman school, Philadelphia’s premier magnet school. Trade union officials confirmed that “more than 60 areas of damaged asbestos have been identified in the school, with imminent hazards identified in the art room and in a second-floor bathroom, as well as damaged material and dust above drop ceilings.” The asbestos problem at Masterman has been known about for over 25 years. See: School District Gets an F on Asbestos Issue.
 

Asbestos on the Metro

Sep 6, 2021

Judge Maria Isabel Garaizaban who is considering complaints over the failure by personnel from the Madrid Metro company to protect workers from asbestos exposures has agreed to include in her investigation the cases of five more Metro workers who have been diagnosed with asbestos-related diseases. The Spanish trade union CCOO highlighted the under-recognition of asbestos diseases in Spain and called on the Metro Board of Directors to name the staff whose responsibility was workers’ safety. See: CCOO solicitará a la juez del amianto que declaren responsables de la dirección de Metro de entre 2003 y 2017 [CCOO will ask the judge to name those responsible for asbestos management at Metro between 2003 and 2017].
 

Sale of Asbestos-Free Trains to Portugal

Sep 6, 2021

On September 2, 2021 three electric railway carriages purchased from Spain began tests on Portugal’s Minho railway Line. The carriages were part of a consignment of 36 purchased from Renfe – the Spanish National Railway Network. Work to remove asbestos-containing material had been carried out by Renfe prior to the sale being finalized. After the line tests have been completed, the three carriages will undergo tests by the Institute of Mobility and Transport in order for them to gain the certification required for them to be put into service. See: Três carruagens elétricas sem amianto começam ensaios na Linha do Minho [Three asbestos-free electric carriages begin trials on the Minho Line].
 

Promise to Raise Asbestos Awareness

Sep 6, 2021

During a virtual meeting on August 31, 2021 of Cambodia’s Labour Minister Ith Sam Heng and technical specialist on occupational safety and health Yuka Ujita from the International Labor Organization (ILO), the Minister committed his Government to undertaking programs to raise raising awareness of the asbestos hazard throughout the country. The Minister confirmed plans to work in collaboration with the ILO as well as the Australian body: Union Aid Abroad – APHEDA on this initiative. See: Phnom Penh Post – Ministry launches review of asbestos status in Kingdom.
 

Asbestos Death of Naval Mechanic

Sep 6, 2021

The maritime company Naftomar was ordered by Bilbao’s Social Court No. 5 to pay €81,000 (US$96,000) for the asbestos cancer death of a naval mechanic who been negligently exposed to asbestos during his employment with multiple shipping companies. The deceased was often tasked with removing asbestos insulation prior to undertaking repair work. Commenting on the outcome of the case, the LAB trade union denounced the fact that victims were forced to go to court to obtain compensation for asbestos injuries, calling on the authorities to streamline procedures for the recognition, treatment and support of the asbestos-injured. See: Condenan a la marítima Naftomar al pago de 81.000 euros por la muerte de un trabajador por amianto [Naftomar ordered to pay 81,000 euros for asbestos death of worker].
 

Post-Disaster Asbestos Decontamination

Sep 6, 2021

As a part of action by the Israeli Government in the aftermath of mid-August wildfires in the Jerusalem hills, 5 million Israeli New Shekels (US$1.5m) were allocated by Ministers for asbestos cleanup operations. The funds will be provided to local authorities tasked with undertaking the asbestos decontamination of burnt-out buildings. Although Israel banned asbestos in 2011, asbestos contamination remains in homes, schools, and public buildings constructed prior to that time. See: Government approves Jerusalem wildfire aid and rehab plan.
 

Asbestos Victims’ Benefits Uplift

Sep 3, 2021

From January 1, 2022, South Korea’s Ministry of Environment (MoE) will increase benefits to asbestos victims by 5.6% in line with other Government benefit increases; it has been providing benefits such as long-term care allowances (monthly payments for treatment, care and living expenses), funeral expenses, and condolence money, for sufferers of asbestos-related diseases or family members since 2011. Park Yong-gyu, director of the Environment and Health Department of the MoE promised to diversify efforts to find asbestos victims and “continue to expand support for people who have suffered health damage from asbestos.” See: 내년부터 석면피해 구제급여 지급액 5.6% 인상 [Asbestos damage relief benefits will increase by 5.6% from next year].
 

Export of Toxic Greek Ship Condemned

Sep 3, 2021

The NGO Shipbreaking Platform – a European organization campaigning for the clean and safe recycling/dismantling of ships – has condemned the sale in May, 2021 to Bangladesh of a 47-year-old Greek ship: The Princess. The NGO has called on Greece to bring the passenger car ferry – which contains a myriad of toxins including asbestos – back to Europe, where it could be properly disposed of according to national regulations and international protocols. The Princess left Greece in July and landed in Bangladesh at the end of August. See: ΜΚΟ ζητά να επιστρέψει η «τοξική» φράση στην Ελλάδα για ανακύκλωση [NGO calls for the return of "toxic" vessel to Greece for recycling].
 

Compensation for Power Plant Worker

Sep 3, 2021

On August 30, 2021, the district court of Yokosuka, Japan issued a victim’s verdict when it ordered the owners of the Hitachi Taura Plant (now renamed Hitachi Power Solutions) to pay Haruo Koyama ¥ 22 million (US$199,000) for occupational exposures to asbestos which resulted in him contracting the asbestos cancer mesothelioma. Mr. Koyama had worked as a welder at the plant from September 1961 until March 1999. Welcoming the resolution of the case, Mr. Koyama urged the company to institute a compensation scheme for asbestos victims without the need for legal proceedings. See: アスベスト訴訟、元従業員勝訴 会社に2200万円支払い命令 [Asbestos proceedings, company ordered to pay ex-employee 22 million yen].
 

Asbestos Anxiety Payments. Finally!

Sep 3, 2021

After more than four years, 474 former employees of the Renault Truck company in France were poised last week to receive compensation from Renault of between €200-10,000 (US$235-12,000) as ordered by an industrial tribunal in April 2021. The pay-outs are for asbestos anxiety suffered by workers who had been exposed to asbestos at the company’s Vénissieux factory. Asbestos anxiety claims by 665 other Renault workers were dismissed by the tribunal which ruled that they had not worked in high risk areas of the factory. See: Amiante: à Lyon, certains anciens salariés de Renault Trucks reçoivent leur indemnisation pour “préjudice d'anxiété” [Asbestos: in Lyon, some former Renault Trucks employees receive their compensation for “prejudice of anxiety”].
 

Asbestos Roof Removal Subsidies

Sep 3, 2021

The latest phase of a US$300,000 (344 million won) program being run by the authorities on the South Korean island of Jeju which subsidizes the removal of asbestos-cement roofing will close to applicants on November 30, 2021. Until then, homeowners can obtain grants of up to US$3,000 to remove asbestos roofing with larger subsidies available to low income households. Between 2011 and 2021, toxic roofing was removed from 7,878 buildings on Jeju Island. The next phase of this program will commence in February, 2022. See: 제주도 '발암물질 석면' 슬레이트 철거 지붕개량 추진 [Jeju Island’s ‘carcinogenic asbestos’ slate removal and roof improvement promotion].
 

Corsica’s Asbestos Legacy

Sep 3, 2021

After 60 years of lying dormant, work will finally begin later this year to remediate a derelict asbestos factory and decontaminate the landscape around a redundant asbestos mine outside the town of Nonza, Corsica. The work procedures and disposal of toxic waste will be strictly regulated to prevent further occupational and environmental exposures, with differing regimes for dealing with “free asbestos,” categorized as hazardous waste, and asbestos-containing material (i.e. pipes, sheets), classified as non-hazardous waste. See: Comment gérer les déchets de la mine d’amiante du Cap Corse? [How to manage waste from the Cap Corse asbestos mine?].
 

Environmental Contamination in Aliağa

Aug 30, 2021

According to a report issued last week, the presence of airborne chrysotile asbestos fibers had been found in the Turkish town of Aliağa, home to several yards which dismantle ships. The environmental contamination was confirmed following tests conducted on samples taken on July 27, 2021 by a specialist asbestos contractor. The ship dismantling and recycling works were not the only source of asbestos; urban transformation activities and industrial production also contributed to the environmental contamination, said the report’s author. Another more comprehensive study is being planned. See: Aliağa’da asbest tespit edildi [Asbestos detected in Aliağa].
 

Ban Asbestos Now!

Aug 30, 2021

A new paper by Mexican academic Francisco Antonio Mercado Calderón issued an urgent call for Mexico to ban the use of asbestos to protect public health from toxic exposures to asbestos-containing products; such products – e.g. asbestos-cement roofing, water tanks and pipes – are used to a greater extent in poorer communities. From 1979 to 2010, there were 2,663 deaths from pleural mesothelioma (PM) according to official figures. However, there was gross underreporting of PM deaths; a further 4,502 deaths should be added, making the revised total 7,165. As there are between 2 to 8 lung cancer deaths for each PM death, the total number of fatal asbestos cancers is well over 10,000. See: Manifest: Urgent call to ban the use of asbestos in Mexico [Manifiesto: Llamado urgente para prohibir el uso del asbesto en México].
 

J&J’s Killer Baby Powder

Aug 30 2021

Last week, a jury in the California Superior Court of Alameda County issued a plaintiff’s verdict in a case brought by mesothelioma sufferer 35-year-old Christina Prudencio who had contracted the fatal cancer from exposure to asbestos fibers contained in Johnson and Johnson’s talc-based baby powder. Ms. Prudencio was awarded $26.5 million in compensatory damages. The question of whether punitive damages will also be awarded remains to be resolved. Damning evidence was presented during the trial about a sustained corporate cover-up going back many decades. See: Baby Powder Mesothelioma Victim Awarded $26.5 Million by California Jury.
 

Consolidation of Russian Asbestos Industry

Aug 30, 2021

At an extraordinary meeting on August 20 of the shareholders of the Russian company Belgorodasbestotsement, management arrangements were formalized which confirmed the takeover of this Russian manufacturer and exporter of asbestos-containing building products by Uralasbest, a mining conglomerate that produces and processes chrysotile (white) asbestos. Fiber production by Uralasbest accounts for 21% of annual global asbestos output. The takeover is part of Uralasbest’s vertical integration strategy which ensures that manufacturers will not diversify into asbestos-free technologies. See: “Белгородасбестоцемент" сменил руководство после перехода под контроль "Ураласбеста” [“Belgorodasbestotsement" management changes after coming under the control of “Uralasbest”].
 

Asbestos in Schools

Aug 30, 2021

American children are being exposed to colossal levels of asbestos dust which remain in classrooms throughout the country. The current official policy of “wait and see” has been shown to be unfit for purpose as the educational infrastructure continues to deteriorate through a lack of resources. The scope and severity of the problem remains unknown as the last national survey of asbestos in schools was completed nearly 40 years ago; “there is no federal collection of data on the conditions of schools.” A recent attempt to quantify the problem revealed that the majority of local education agencies reported asbestos contamination of schools. See: The danger of America’s forgotten battle with asbestos. Students and school personnel remain at risk.
 

Merger will Disadvantage Victims

Aug 30, 2021

Asbestos victims’ groups in France have serious concerns about government plans to merge the Asbestos Victims Compensation Fund (Fiva) and the National Medical Accident Compensation Office by the end of 2022 and place the newly formed body under the supervision of the ministries of Health and the Economy. At a meeting on August 31, the board of directors of Fiva will examine the details of an action which is seen as serious threat to recent progress in accelerating and streamlining compensation payments to the asbestos-injured. Fiva registers 300+ new cases every month and has compensated 100,000+ since it was first launched in 2002. See: Amiante: ce projet de fusion qui inquiète [Asbestos: this merger project is disturbing].
 

Urals Tourist Attraction: Asbestos Mine

Aug 26, 2021

It seems that the word asbestos holds no fear for people in the South Urals where a new eco-friendly tourist destination is being promoted for Russian hikers and outdoor enthusiasts. The 99 hectare “cultural heritage” development is based around the Kholmisty chrysotile asbestos mine which was finally abandoned in 1912. Promotional photos for the “natural-industrial park” show happy visitors at the site picking fibers out of asbestos-bearing rocks. The forest scenery and points of interest are promoted without one word of the dangers posed by exposures to asbestos. See: На Южном Урале вскоре появится новый туристический эко-маршрут [A new tourist eco-route will soon appear in the South Urals].
 

Asbestos Removal Program

Aug 26, 2021

According to a press release from the Flemish Minister of Environment Zuhal Demir, the Flemish Government has allocated €3.85 million (US$4.5m) for asbestos removal in 200 schools across the region. In addition, a further 780 asbestos audits of school buildings will be carried out over the next four years. The Flemish Government has committed itself to eradicating the asbestos hazard by 2040. Demir, who highlighted the ubiquity of asbestos in Flemish buildings, said: “We are now allocating an unprecedentedly large budget for [removing] it, which will benefit the quality of life and health of many people.” See: Flanders pours €3.85 million into asbestos removal in 200 schools.
 

Mesothelioma Death on the Farm

Aug 26, 2021

Senior Somerset Coroner Tony Williams ruled that the July 2021 mesothelioma death of Frome man Andrew Bailey aged 64 was due to an industrial disease, after an inquest had heard of his occupational exposure to asbestos whilst dismantling old farmyard buildings in the Somerset area. During the course of his work, he would often be required to handle and break up asbestos-cement roofing material. He also used asbestos sheets to rebuild roofs using a circular saw to cut them to size. Such a process would have generated a massive amount of dust as well as clouds of toxic fibers. See: Frome man dies of asbestos-related cancer after working in farmyards.
 

Cessation of Asbestos Mining

Aug 26, 2021

On August 20, 2021, the parent company of the sole operational chrysotile asbestos mine in Brazil – Eternit, S.A. – notified shareholders and the stock market that its subsidiary Sama S.A. Minerações Associadas (Sama) had ceased asbestos mining activities as per an order issued on August 19, 2021 by the Court of the District of Uruaçu-Go. The Court’s ruling responded to a public civil action which had argued that a Supreme Court decision of 2017 had banned the commercial exploitation of asbestos throughout the country and that an exemption issued by the State of Goiás was invalid. See: Eternit S.A. Notification, August 20, 2021.
 

Asbestos Epidemic 20+ Years after Ban

Aug 26, 2021

Decades after asbestos use was banned in France, the incidence of asbestos-related diseases remains high, with 1,100 new cases of mesothelioma occurring every year: “the increase is more marked in women with a doubling of cases in 20 years to reach 310 cases per year.” The majority of women with mesothelioma were non-occupationally exposed whilst most men with the cancer contracted it from workplace exposures. According to the government data, occupational exposure to asbestos was found in 84% of cases amongst construction workers. The incidence of this cancer is highest in the North, North-West and South-East regions of the country. See: Amiante: toujours un enjeu de santé publique [Asbestos: still a public health issue].
 

Asbestos in Toxic Landfill

Aug 26, 2021

Last week, the Australian Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) reported that 50 tonnes of landfill contaminated with asbestos had been delivered to a building site at the Brisbane South State Secondary College. According to CFMEU’s assistant secretary Jade Ingham, the contractor was asked to conduct a site audit as the school was operational but refused to do so. Ingham said that the supplier of the toxic material, the BMI Group, had supplied “at least 200 tonnes of material…contaminated with asbestos, and [we] need to know exactly what other building jobs in SE Queensland this material has been delivered to by Martin Brothers and other subcontractors.” See: Qld union warns over asbestos in supplies.
 

Legal Victory for Bereaved Family

Aug 24, 2021

On August 12, 2021, Judge Juliana Campos Ferro Lage from the 2nd Labor Court of Pedro Leopoldo, a municipality in the Brazilian State of Minas Gerais, ordered the company DVG Industrial, formerly Precon, to pay compensation of R$1.8 million (US$332,000) to the bereaved family of one of its former workers who died from the asbestos cancer mesothelioma, having been occupationally exposed to the carcinogen for nearly 20 years whilst employed by Precon at its asbestos-cement factory. See: Justiça manda empresa pagar R$ 1,8 mi à família de funcionário morto por amianto [Court orders company to pay R$1.8 million to the family of an employee killed by asbestos].
 

Opposition to São Paulo’s Arrival

Aug 24, 2021

The hot potato which is the São Paulo, a former Brazilian warship destined for dismantling in Turkey, continues to cause dissension. A report submitted by a Committee of the Izmir Metropolitan Municipality Assembly highlighted the fact that Turkey was one of the few countries in the world where ship dismantling was carried out “using wild [brute-force, unregulated] techniques.” The authors of the report concluded that Turkey should not import other people’s garbage. Commenting on the publication. Hakan Barçin, Chairman of the Committee, said that he was against bringing the São Paulo to Turkey. See: ‘Dünyanın çöplüğü olmaktan kurtaralım’ [‘Let's save it (Turkey) from being the garbage dump of the world’].
 

Memorial for Asbestos Victims

Aug 24, 2021

The Perth-based asbestos victims support group – The Asbestos Diseases Society of Australia (ADSA) – is calling on the Government of Western Australia to erect permanent memorials in Perth and the Pilbara to honor the thousands of people who died from asbestos-related diseases. ADSA chief operating officer Melita Markey suggested the memorials be incorporated into the Wittenoom Closure Bill which is due to be introduced into the State Parliament later this year. According to Ms. Markey, the monuments would be a fitting reminder of those lives that had been lost as well as a deterrent to tourists wanting to visit the toxic town of Wittenoom. See: Asbestos Diseases Society campaigns for memorials for asbestos victims.
 

Asbestos Cancer Data: Update

Aug 24, 2021

According to new data published in The Lancet by a coalition of researchers, in 2019 “occupational exposure to asbestos was the third-highest specific risk factor for deaths from tracheal, bronchus, and lung cancer for both sexes… contributing to 9·7% of all deaths.” The authors recommended that policy makers use these findings to inform decisions to protect health, suggesting that a minimization of asbestos exposures could make a contribution to reducing “the incidence of and mortality attributable to tracheal, bronchus, and lung cancer, if done using locally appropriate, evidence-based strategies.” See: Global, regional, and national burden of respiratory tract cancers and associated risk factors from 1990 to 2019: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2019.
 

Summer Asbestos Offensive

Aug 24, 2021

The latest diatribe by Russian asbestos vested interests denigrated members of the “inspirational anti-asbestos campaign” who were involved in a commercial crusade to undermine the Russian economy. The ban asbestos movement had not only impacted on sales of raw fiber but on the production of products – such as brake pads – within which it was used. Asbestos industry research which claimed to prove that “chrysotile [white asbestos] fiber is excreted from the human body in a short period of time, without harming health,” was quoted to support the unnamed author’s position. See: Асбестовый тормоз: история одной детали [Asbestos brakes: the story of one component].
 

Asbestos Agreement for Madrid Metro

Aug 24, 2021

Agreement has been reached between the management of the Madrid Metro and the trade unions over a series of issues including the eradication of the asbestos hazard from the transport system in the Spanish capital. Ongoing consultations will be held by the company with union reps over technical issues, working conditions, and arrangements for compensation claims and payouts for toxic workplace exposures. See: Publicado el nuevo convenio colectivo de Metro que añade una Comisión sobre amianto o la regularización del teletrabajo [The new Metro collective agreement that adds a Commission on asbestos and regularization of teleworking has been published].
 

New Asbestos-free Sealants

Aug 20, 2021

Researchers at Russia’s Perm Polytechnic Institute have announced a successful outcome from their work on the development of an expanded graphite sealing product suitable for use at nuclear power plants. The specifications and performance of the new product made it an excellent replacement for outdated and toxic asbestos products which were previously used. It is noteworthy that this research was undertaken in Russia, the world’s biggest producer of asbestos fiber, and that the laboratories at which the research was done were at an institute in the Urals, the location of the world’s biggest asbestos mine. See: Разработка Пермского Политеха поможет обезопасить работу атомных станций [Development by the Perm Polytechnic Institute will help secure the operation of nuclear power plants].
 

Suspension of Illegal Asbestos Mining

Aug 20, 2021

An August 6, 2021 decision by Judge Bruno Teixeira de Castro from the Federal Court in Uruaçu, Goiás ordered an immediate suspension of chrysotile asbestos mining at the Sama Asbestos Mine, Brazil’s sole remaining asbestos mine. The company had been operating under the umbrella of a Goiás State law which had been issued in contravention of a 2017 Supreme Court ruling outlawing the commercial exploitation of asbestos throughout the country. It is not known whether the company will appeal this decision. See: Justiça Federal manda suspender exploração de amianto em Minaçu [Federal Court orders the suspension of asbestos mining in Minaçu].
 

Mining Asbestos Waste: A Very Bad Idea!

Aug 20, 2021

An Opinion piece in Canada’s National Observer, an online daily news publication, highlighted concerns over a new industry operating in the former asbestos heartland of Quebec which is extracting magnesium from asbestos mining waste. Government sources estimated that the mountains of waste – which are in close proximity to houses, schools, public buildings and playgrounds – contained up to 40% asbestos fiber. Although all 17 Quebec directors of public health had requested that the federal government include asbestos mining waste in regulations banning asbestos, this request was denied; succumbing to intensive industry lobbying, the Ottawa government invested $12 million in the new industry. See: The asbestos industry is fanning the flames of resentment. We must make them stop.
 

Grassroots Support for Victims

Aug 20, 2021

From 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. on August 21 and 22, 2021, a national telephone hotline service will be operational at the toll-free number 0120/349/931 to provide information to people who were occupationally or environmentally exposed to asbestos in Japan. The service is being administered by the Asbestos Victim Relief Fund NGO from Kobe, the Pneumoconiosis and Asbestos Victims Relief Fund from Kanagawa Prefecture and partnering organizations. Information on workers' accident compensation, the intricacies of the benefit system, health measures and other relevant matters will be available. See: 石綿健康被害ホットライン開設 21、22日全国一斉実施 [Asbestos health damage hotline opened 21st and 22nd nationwide].
 

One Man’s Journey to Asbestos

Aug 20, 2021

Japanese traveller Yushi Koyanagi reported the observations he made and the conversations he had during a recent trip to the mono-town of Asbestos in the Urals region of Russia. He was surprised by the routine nature of daily life in the town poisoned by decades of asbestos mining: “Women baking bread at the store, children going to school.” Despite the pervasive nature of the contamination – “fibers flutter and stick to my pants” – residents remain silent because of their economic dependence on the mining company. Koyanagi was, he said, “sad to think that asbestos mining would continue in the city of Asbestos.” See: ロシア・アスベスト 公害に沈黙する街 [Russia. Asbestos: A City Silenced by Pollution].
 

A/C Water Delivery System Safe?

Aug 20, 2021

Saskatchewan’s Water Security Agency has concluded that, based on findings made public last week in a report commissioned by the municipality of Regina regarding asbestos-cement (A/C) pipes in the town’s water delivery system, there was no cause for citizens to be concerned about the continued use of A/C pipes. More than half of the town’s 1,000 kilometres of water pipes are made of A/C; although the A/C pipes have been “slowly deteriorating” with age, they “have not deteriorated enough to release any asbestos fibres into the water,” the researchers said. Tests done in 2020 in eleven locations in Regina found “no detectable levels of asbestos fibres…” See: City inquiry into Regina's asbestos cement pipes says no cause for concern.
 

Healthy Profits for Asbestos Factory

Aug 17, 2021

A large increase in profits was reported by one of Russia’s leading asbestos-cement products’ manufacturers – OJSC Belgorodasbestocement (Belatsi) – in the first half of 2021 compared to the same period in 2020. The 55.6% rise in profits was announced shortly after a corporate takeover had been finalized by PJSC Ural Asbestos Mining and Processing Plant (Uralasbest). The Belatsi factory began operations in 1953; during 2020 production of its cement pipes decreased by 13.5% because of the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. See: «Белгородасбестоцемент» с начала года нарастил прибыль на 55% ["Belgorodasbestocement" has increased its profit by 55% since the beginning of the year].
 

Environmental Survey in Asbestos Hotspot

Aug 17, 2021

This month (August, 2021), Korea’s Chungnam-do Health and Environment Research Institute announced plans to conduct an asbestos survey in Gobuk-myeon, Seosan-si. In the Chungnam region, 76% of the country is made up of rocks that are highly likely to contain asbestos, and abandoned asbestos mines account for 25 out of 38 (66%) of Korea’s derelict asbestos mines. The objective of this project is to prevent damage to the environment and protect the health of residents by controlling regional development activities that could liberate toxic fibers. See: 충남도 보건환경연구원, 서산 고북 일원서 석면 실태조사 [Chungnam-do Health and Environment Research Institute, asbestos survey in Gobuk, Seosan].
 

Mesothelioma Trends 1990 to 2017

Aug 17, 2021

A new study by a coalition of scientists, the majority of whom were based in China, examined the global incidence of mesothelioma – the signature cancer associated with asbestos exposure. The authors reported a substantial rise in the number of cases of mesothelioma and mortality rates worldwide, and concluded that a “complete and immediate ban on asbestos use may be warranted.” The nationality of 18 of the 20 authors is noteworthy as China has, for years, been one of the world’s biggest consumers and producers of chrysotile asbestos. See: Assessment of Global Trends in the Diagnosis of Mesothelioma From 1990 to 2017.
 

Asbestos Removal Program: Update

Aug 17, 2021

Asbestos eradication work is proceeding this summer on the infrastructure and rolling stock of the Madrid Metro. The commentary referenced below included a brief background to the history of asbestos use, the harmful repercussions caused by exposures, and regulations enacted to protect workers and members of the public. The Madrid Metro, which has a team specialized in asbestos removal, declared its intention to be asbestos-free by 2027 and is, a company spokesperson said, working with trade unions and partnering organizations to achieve this goal. See: Amianto en el Metro: ¿debemos preocuparnos? [Asbestos in the Metro: should we worry?].
 

Asbestos Cancer Findings: Brazil

Aug 17, 2021

An article by researchers about the effects on human health posed by working with asbestos was recently published in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine; it is unfortunate that the full paper is behind a pay wall. The authors examined data from a cohort of 988 males who had worked in the asbestos-cement industry in the Brazilian state of São Paulo. Increased standardized mortality ratios were observed for overall mortality and mortality due to pleural malignant neoplasms (MN), peritoneal MN, laryngeal MN and pulmonary MN. Based on their findings, the researchers confirmed the “causal association between exposure and increased mortality due to pleural MN, pulmonary MN, and asbestosis.” See: Causes of death in former asbestos-cement workers in the state of São Paulo, Brazil.
 

Maritime Legacy of Asbestos Use

Aug 17, 2021

The widespread use of asbestos-containing material (ACM) throughout the 20th century included uses in ships. The heat resistant properties of asbestos fibers made them ideal for inclusion in bulkhead cladding, glands or gaskets of valves and associated pipework, in friction material in winches for brake lining and thermal insulation on boilers or steam pipes. From January 1, 2011, the installation of ACM on board ships was prohibited by the International Maritime Organization. The services of asbestos removal specialists are required to eradicate the maritime asbestos hazard. See: Key points you need to know about managing asbestos on board your ship.
 

Going Asbestos Free in India!

Aug 16, 2021

HIL Ltd., formerly Hindustan Asbestos, has announced its intention to abandon toxic asbestos technology as it transitions to “an integrated green building materials company.” In a press interview, CEO Dhirup Roy Choudhary said that: “The Asbestos business, which was contributing 80 per cent of revenue has now come down to 30 per cent, with rest of the 70 per cent from non-asbestos business.” The company has 22 factories in India, and 2 in Germany and Austria; it plays a leading role in India’s building products’ sector and it can be certain that where HIL goes, others will follow. See: HIL eyes $1b revenues as it transforms to an integrated green building materials company.
 

Asbestos Lawsuit against Sheffield Council

Aug 16, 2021

Malcolm Dibnah, who worked for Sheffield Council as a painter and decorator from 1966 to 2004, has initiated a lawsuit at the London High Court against his former employer, alleging that it was occupational exposure to asbestos which caused him to contract the deadly asbestos cancer mesothelioma, diagnosed when he was 70. Mr. Dibnah’s work entailed scraping and sanding down asbestos fascias on council houses prior to painting them as a result of which he routinely inhaled large volumes of asbestos fibers. The plaintiff is claiming damages of £273,000 (US $378,000) for his impending death, 17 years prematurely because of this illness. See: Cancer victim sues Sheffield Council for £273,000 over asbestos poisoning.
 

A Dying and Deadly Industry

Aug 16, 2021

A commentary on the portal of Novethic – a European leader in sustainable practices – examined the dynamics which propelled the use of asbestos to dizzying heights and the lethal consequences of its widespread popularity. In France, the asbestos scandal came to the fore after protests by researchers, students and labor groups in the 1990s at Jussieu University in Paris. The use of asbestos was banned in France in 1997. However, only in March 2021 did the French Supreme Court issue a ruling that gave victims hope that a criminal investigation of toxic exposures would be carried out. See: Ces Scandales Qui Ont Changé le Monde: l’interdiction de l’Amiante, la Fin d’un produit miracle [Scandals that changed the world: the ban on asbestos].
 

Plans for Asbestos Waste Site Abandoned!

Aug 16, 2021

On August 10, 2021, the guardians of the Cava Vailata site, formerly intended to be developed as an asbestos landfill by the TEAM SpA company which is now in bankruptcy, relinquished the 80,000 square meters property – equivalent to eleven football fields – to the municipality which plans to use it as an urban nature park. Welcoming the news, Treviglio Mayor Juri Imeri said: “A nightmare ends, and forever: no landfill in Treviglio!” See: Addio per sempre alla discarica di amianto, la Cava Vailata diventerà un parco naturalistico [Farewell forever to the asbestos landfill, Cava Vailata will become a nature park].
 

Asbestos Removal in Schools

Aug 16, 2021

A recent update from the Council of the Portuguese City of Esposende showed work progressing to remove asbestos material from the municipality’s educational infrastructure. Since 2015, almost a million euros (US $1.2m) has been invested in replacing toxic roofing in kindergartens, primary and secondary schools. A further €450,000 (US$530,000) from the Northern 2020 Regional Operational Programme will pay for Asbestos eradication at the António Correia de Oliveira, Apúlia and Forjães primary schools. See: Município finaliza processo de remoção do amianto nas escolas [Municipality finalizes asbestos removal process in schools].
 

Asbestos Warehouse on Fire

Aug 16, 2021

Fires raged out of control throughout Beirut last weekend, destroying homes, industrial and public buildings. At a derelict asbestos warehouse in Chekka, North Lebanon the fire reached a stockpile of asbestos-containing material and created even more toxic smoke as cancerous fibers became airborne. The bankrupt company which had owned the building had been unable to sell the goods; neither the government nor the United Nations were able to dispose of the unwanted stock. See: Des incendies continuent à sévir au Liban [Fires continue to rage in Lebanon].
 

Court Upholds Cancer Verdict against J&J

Aug 13, 2021

On August 5, 2021. the California Court of Appeal, First District threw out an appeal from Johnson and Johnson (J&J) over a jury verdict which had awarded $29 million for the ovarian cancer contracted by Teresa Elizabeth Leavitt who had used the company’s iconic baby powder throughout her life. The jury had found that substantial evidence supported the finding that it was more likely than not that “Johnson & Johnson’s baby powder was contaminated with asbestos when Leavitt used it…” There are believed to be more than 30,000 cancer cases pending against J&J over asbestos contamination of its baby powder. See: J&J Fails to Escape Jury’s $29 Million Award in Baby Powder Suit.
 

Asbestos Products’ Companies Denounced

Aug 13, 2021

Japanese construction workers and bereaved family members expressed growing frustration by the failures of building materials manufacturers, who were found guilty of using asbestos in their products, to negotiate and support a national compensation scheme as ordered by the Supreme Court in May 2021 following years of litigation in multiple jurisdictions. Speaking at a public rally in Tokyo on June 16, asbestos cancer widow Ryoko Akechi deplored the intransigence of the building material companies calling them the “the number one perpetrator” of the asbestos epidemic. See: 建設石綿の被害者ら、依然動かぬメーカーにいらだち募る [Construction Asbestos Victims Grow Frustrated with Manufacturers Who Fail to Act].
 

Spain’s Toxic Asbestos Legacy

Aug 13, 2021

The ubiquity of asbestos-containing roofing material in Spain and the strict regulations regarding its removal and disposal mean that eradication of the hazard must be accomplished by specialist companies only. In addition, asbestos-cement products, such as asbestos-cement water pipes, hidden within the country’s infrastructure are also a danger to workers and members of the public. In Madrid, these toxic pipes have already outlived their useful life and are deteriorating with the result that fibers could be liberated into the water supply system. These pipes must be removed and disposed of as per regulations at licensed waste sites. See: Eliminar amianto y uralita es obligatorio [Removing asbestos and uralite is mandatory].
 

Sicily’s Plan for Asbestos Eradication

Aug 13, 2021

Last week, a “Plan for the Protection of the Environment, Decontamination, Disposal and Reclamation for Protection against the Asbestos Hazard” was published in the Official Journal of the Sicilian Region. One of the main aims of the initiative was to stop the illegal disposal of asbestos throughout rural areas of Sicily. According to the President of Sicily Nello Musumeci this plan, which was thirty years in the making, will: “bring order to the complex work of total removal of the asbestos present in all public and private buildings on the island.” See: Sicilia, dopo quasi 30 anni esiste un Piano regionale per l’amianto. Musumeci: “Un importante strumento” [Sicily, after almost 30 years there is a regional plan for asbestos. Musumeci: “An important tool”].
 

Court of Appeal Mesothelioma Ruling

Aug 13, 2021

Litigation over the 2016 death from mesothelioma – the signature cancer caused by asbestos exposure – of businessman Martin Rix (aged 60) was finally brought to an end last week by a decision of the Court of Appeal which ruled, in a landmark decision, that his family was entitled to bring a financial dependency claim in spite of the business continuing to be profitable after his death. The Judges’ finding in Rix v Paramount was explained by Lady Justice Nicola Davies as follows: “The fact that the company has thrived since Mr Rix’s death is irrelevant for the purpose of the calculation of Mrs Rix’s dependency…” See: Dependency victory for relatives of deceased businessman.
 

Eradicating Navarra’s Asbestos Hazard

Aug 13, 2021

Arantza Biurrun, spokesperson for the Socialist Party of Navarra  (PSN) in the Navarra Parliament, asked Minister José Aierdi about the Parliament’s strategy to detect and remove asbestos in residential buildings. Despite the pandemic, the PSN remained, said Biurrun, “firm in its commitment to end asbestos [exposures].” Navarra had, Ms. Biurrin said, pioneered work on a Master Plan for the Elimination of Asbestos in alignment with European Parliament and European Economic and Social Committee resolutions and commitments. See: El PSN pregunta a Aierdi sobre las medidas para la detección y retirada del amianto en construcciones residenciales [The PSN asks Aierdi about the measures for the detection and removal of asbestos in residential buildings].
 

Victory for Hokkaido Plaintiffs!

Aug 10, 2021

On August 5, 2021 a settlement was reached in a lawsuit brought by asbestos-injured construction workers and bereaved relatives from Hokkaido against the Japanese State and building material manufacturers. Litigation proceedings began in April 2011 at the Sapporo District Court; in 2017, the Government’s negligence was acknowledged but not that of the manufacturers. An appeal was lodged. This month a settlement was reached following the landmark Supreme Court ruling in May 2021 which had supported the rights of the asbestos-injured. See: 国と初の集団和解成立 北海道建設アスベスト訴訟 札幌高裁 [First Class Settlement Reached with the State in Hokkaido Construction Asbestos Lawsuit, Sapporo High Court].
 

Toxic Toys Recalled in Australia

Aug 10, 2021

A range of remote-controlled toy cars, which had been sold in Australia since 2016, was urgently recalled on August 4, 2021 because of the presence of asbestos. The ECX hobby cars, which had been on sale in 57 shops across the country, contained chrysotile (white) asbestos parts in three models – the ECX Desert Buggy, ECX Monster Truck, ECX Brutus – plus Slipper pad spare parts sold separately. Owners of these toys were warned not to open the vehicles and to return them to their place of purchase. See: Remote-controlled cars are urgently recalled as they contain deadly asbestos – and they've been on sale for five years.
 

AI Tool for Asbestos Identification

Aug 10, 2021

SNCF Voyageurs, a passenger rail transport company operating in France and Europe, has announced the use of an in-house Artificial Intelligence program to streamline efforts to identify asbestos in the company’s fleet of 17,000 vehicles. SNCF employees (trained in less than two hours) photograph railway cars and the images are fed to the AI algorithm. Several months of development and testing provided reliable diagnoses: “Today,” said Patrick Munsch “when the solution tells us that there is no asbestos on a wagon, we can trust it 100%! … And when it reports the presence of asbestos, the error rate is less than 1%.” See: SNCF Voyageurs améliore la détection d'amiante grâce à l'intelligence artificielle de Datategy [SNCF Voyageurs improves asbestos detection thanks to Datategy's artificial intelligence].
 

Interview with UK Asbestos Campaigners

Aug 10, 2021

The husband and wife team Mavis and Raymond Nye were the subjects of a recent blog by Martin Ditkof on the ramifications of asbestos exposures at British shipyards; Mavis developed the signature asbestos cancer mesothelioma from exposure to asbestos fibers brought home on her husband’s work clothes from the Chatham Dockyards. The blog, based on extensive interviews with the couple, covered the trauma suffered by Mavis in battling such an intractable disease, as well as the treatments she has undergone and the pioneering work she has undertaken to help other victims of asbestos-related diseases. The details provided about the occupational exposures experienced by Ray as a shipwright were very informative. See: Mavis Nye: Exposure from Shipbuilding.
 

Asbestos Hazard Posed by Power Plant

Aug 10, 2021

Often in the aftermath of natural and man-made disasters comes news of environmental asbestos contamination. The fires in the Muğla's Milas district of Turkey have led to statements from asbestos experts about the likelihood of asbestos contamination caused by damage to the Kemerköy Thermal Power Plant. The experts warned that in the event that the plant was affected, firefighters should use specialist equipment to prevent inhalation of carcinogenic fibers. See: Termik santraldeki görünmez tehlike. Uzmanı uyardı [Invisible danger in thermal power plant. Warning from expert].
 

Asbestos Support: Update

Aug 10, 2021

On August 6, 2021, it was reported that Akashi City had set up an advice center – the Asbestos General Counselling Service – for people who had contracted asbestos-related diseases in Japan. The center has seven members of staff and lawyers and provides “a one-stop consultation service” for the injured and their family members. It is open from 9 a.m. till 5 p.m. every weekday and can be accessed by calling: 078-918-5002. See: 明石市がアスベストの健康被害の相談にあたる総合窓口開設 [Akashi City opens a general contact point for consultation on asbestos health hazards].
 

Post-Ban Update in Colombia

Aug 6, 2021

Despite the fact that Colombia banned asbestos in 2019, the country is full of asbestos products. Associate Professor Juan Pablo Ramos from the Department of Civil Engineering at the University of Los Andes in Bogotá estimated usages of such products: “More than 300 million square meters of tiles throughout the country; likewise, there are forty thousand kilometers of pipe in Colombia, enough to go around the earth. And in mid-2015, it was said that there were 3.5 million vehicles in the country with brake products made with this material [asbestos].” Campaigners are calling for rigorous monitoring protocols to ensure compliance with the ban. See: Colombia está inundada de asbesto y se requiere sustituir este material cancerígeno [Colombia is flooded with asbestos and it is necessary to replace this carcinogenic material].
 

Update: Approval for Immunotherapy Drug

Aug 6 2021

An August 3, 2021 article reported that following approval on June 1, 2021 by the European Medicines Agency, the UK Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency – the agency tasked with regulating medicine, medical devices and blood components for transfusions – has also approved the use of a combination immunotherapy protocol for the first-line treatment of adults with unresectable malignant pleural mesothelioma. The drugs for this therapy, the first treatment option approved in 15 years, are Bristol Myers Squibb’s nivolumab and ipilimumab; this treatment has now been sanctioned in England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland and Northern Ireland. See: MHRA approves first immunotherapy treatment for mesothelioma.
 

Wittenoom: The End

Aug 6, 2021

This week the Wittenoom Closure Bill was reintroduced to the Western Australian Parliament to enable the government to compulsory purchase the final three remaining private properties in the former asbestos mining town of Wittenoom, with the intention of demolishing all remaining infrastructure to limit the site’s attraction for visitors. The town and surrounding area were classified as a contaminated site under the Contaminated Sites Act 2003. In 2007, Wittenoom was delisted as a town and since then, the State has acquired most of the private properties through voluntary sales. See: Final closure of Wittenoom nears as Bill returns to Parliament.
 

Asbestos Removal and Swift Retention

Aug 6, 2021

Madrid residents in tower blocks with toxic roofing have faced an unusual problem whilst considering plans to eradicate asbestos-cement roofs. The material on the top of buildings in the Orcasitas neighborhood has, for decades, provided an ideal nesting place for a large colony of swifts between May and June every year. Once the nesting habits of the swifts were known, residents consulted architects and removal specialists to find ways to accommodate the birds and remove the hazard. Public consultation was key according to María Antonia García-Heras of the residents’ association, who said that the solution found enabled them to “remove the asbestos and guarantee that the birds remain in the neighborhood.” See: El amianto deja paso a los vencejos [Asbestos makes way for swifts].
 

Asbestos Offensive

Aug 6, 2021

Whilst the Ukraine Parliament – the Verkhovna Rada – is in summer recess, asbestos industry propagandists continue their onslaught on plans by Ukraine to ban asbestos. A lengthy article on a Ukraine news website criticized what it termed an ill-informed and damaging step by the country, stating: “Unfortunately, Ukraine's intended choice [to ban asbestos] is not based on a scientific approach, data analysis, procedures and criteria. It is based on slogans and poor understanding of the issue.” See: А как там у них за бугром? Мировая практика регулирования использования асбеста [And what of them over the hill? World practice in regulating the use of asbestos].
 

Asbestos Action in Umbria: Update

Aug 6, 2021

Conflict in the Umbria Region over asbestos outreach and support work by the regional government continues to rage, with politicians from the Five Star Party making accusations of inaction. Regional Councillor for Health and Welfare Luca Coletto said that despite the pandemic, hundreds of at-risk workers had received medicals, and surveillance and awareness raising activities had been progressed. In addition, Coletto added, thousands of site inspections were carried out and plans advanced for a “new Regional Prevention Plan to be carried out… to update the monitoring of public and private sites in which the presence of asbestos-cement products is found.” See: Amianto, il punto di Coletto: “Non trascuriamo i lavoratori, ecco i dati” [Asbestos, Coletto says: “Let's not neglect the workers, here are the data”].
 

Scandal: False Document, Public Hazard

Aug 4, 2021

The President of the Turkish Association of Asbestos Removal Experts Mehmet Şeyhmus Ensari has exposed a scandal whereby experts have been falsifying documentation, saying no asbestos was present in order to facilitate the demolition of buildings in the country’s capital, Ankara and in the cities of Çankaya and Yenimahalle despite the known risks of asbestos exposures and Turkish regulations mandating that asbestos surveys and removal be carried out prior to any demolition work. See: Ankara'da asbest alarmı | ASUD Başkanı Ensari: Denetim yok, raporlar sahte [Asbestos alarm in Ankara | ASUD President Ensari: No inspection, reports are fake].
 

The Deafening Silence of Asbestos

Aug 4, 2021

The heading above is the title of a new book by Alberto Gaino which documented the appalling repercussions of corporate crimes in Italy, examining, amongst other scandals, the fallout from the country’s mining and consumption of asbestos. Gaino cited documents, explained social and legal developments and considered the multiple issues which led to the catastrophic loss of life due to asbestos exposures in Italian towns like Casale Monferrato, which prohibited the production and marketing of Eternit [asbestos] products on December 3, 1987, 5 years before the Italian government did so. See: Il silenzio “assordante” dell’amianto [The "deafening" silence of asbestos].
 

Award for Anna!

Aug 4, 2021

Professor Anna Nowak, an internationally respected oncologist and researcher from the University of Western Australia, has been named the recipient of the inaugural 2021 Professor M. Tattersall Heroes Award by the Medical Oncology Group of Australia, in recognition of her contribution to medical oncology in Australia. Professor Nowak is Director of the National Research Centre for Asbestos Related Diseases, a practising medical oncologist at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital and a member of the Board of Directors of the Cancer Council WA. She will receive the award at a ceremony on August 5, 2021. See: National prize for world-leading asbestos diseases researcher.
 

Asbestos in Schools

Aug 4, 2021

According to a 2016 survey, many French schools built before 1997 still contained asbestos: 38% of schools; 80% of vocational high schools, 77% of general and technological high schools and 73% of secondary schools. Work is underway in the French town of Cahors to address the asbestos contamination of public buildings with a priority being given to premises used by children. Asbestos remediation is being carried out this summer at the Zacharie-Lafage nursery school to remove toxic tiles present in a common room. Asbestos audits by specialist companies are also being undertaken in others public buildings in Cahors. See: Cahors. Amiante, infiltrations : quand les écoles vieillissent [Cahors. Asbestos infiltration when schools get older].
 

Asbestos in Madrid

Aug 4, 2021

The asbestos saga in the transport network of Metro de Madrid continues. Line 6 of the subway has reopened after asbestos removal work was carried out over the last month; sections of line 9 – between the stations Colombia and Plaza de Castilla – will be closed throughout August for asbestos remediation with a free replacement bus service for passengers. These actions are part of the Suburban Modernization Plan, a €89 million (US$105+m) program to remediate the oldest sections of a transport network that first began operations in 1919. See: La parada de Plaza de Castilla, que suspenderá el servicio en la línea 9 hasta el 31 de Agosto [The Plaza de Castilla stop will suspend service on line 9 until August 31].
 

Political Dispute Cancels Asbestos Program

Aug 4, 2021

The commencement of asbestos remediation work at a daycare center in Busan was postponed indefinitely on July 26, 2021 due to a lack of funds. Although forty million won (US$35,000) had been earmarked for the work, a dispute in the Nam-gu Council prevented the funds from being released. Parents expressed anger over the cancellation because of the continued hazard the asbestos posed to children, saying both the Congress and Council had evaded their responsibilities. An official from Nam-gu said: “We cannot know whether the construction will be done until the parliament passes the supplementary budget bill.” See: 기초의회 다툼에 어린이집 석면 철거공사 무기 연기 [Asbestos demolition work at daycare center postponed due to dispute in local council].
 

Cancer Class Action for Black Women

Jul 29, 2021

At a press conference on July 27, 2021, the high-profile US civil rights attorney Ben Crump announced that a lawsuit had been launched against Johnson & Johnson on behalf of black women who contracted ovarian cancer after having used the company’s iconic talc-based baby which, it was alleged, contained asbestos fibers. The claimants were members of the National Council of Negro Women (NCNW). Commenting on the case, NCNW’s Executive Director Janice Mathis said: “This company, through its words and images, told Black women that we were offensive in our natural state and needed to use their products to stay fresh… Generations of Black women believed them…” See: Ben Crump files lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson on behalf of Black women.
 

Government Settles Asbestos Claim

Jul 29, 2021

The case brought by the wife and two sons of a plasterer from Shizuoka City, Japan who died in 2004 aged 56 of asbestos-related lung cancer was settled on July 26, 2021 in the Tokyo High Court. The Government agreed to pay compensation of more than 16.56 million yen (US$150,000) for having failed to protect construction workers from the asbestos hazard. This is the second settlement reached since the landmark Supreme Court verdict (May 2021) recognizing the responsibility of the Government and building material manufacturers for asbestos disease in construction workers. See: 静岡石綿訴訟で和解成立 肺がんで死亡・左官業男性の遺族が国訴えた裁判 [Settlement in Shizuoka asbestos trial for bereaved family of a plasterer who died of lung cancer].
 

No Asbestos Dump in Mont-Saint-Vincent!

Jul 29, 2021

A commercial proposal to expand landfill capacity at a quarry near the French town of Mont-Saint-Vincent, which had generated huge opposition amongst local people, has now been cancelled by the developers: the Rougeot company. On Monday, July 26, 2021 this news was disseminated by email to the town’s residents; Mayor Jean Girardon wrote “there will be no burying of asbestos in the Bourgueuil quarry.” Objections to the plans, which had included proposals for the site to receive asbestos waste, had been the source of many public protests and petitions over recent months. See: Le projet d’enfouissement d’amiante est annulé [The asbestos landfill project is cancelled].
 

Protecting Asbestos Markets

Jul 29, 2021

A July 2021 blog by Karuna Vikram drew on an internal corporate memo from 1982 to reveal how the asbestos company Eternit-Manila successfully circumvented a surprise ban on asbestos-cement (A/C) pipes announced by President Ferdinand Marcos in 1982. Although Eternit publicly welcomed the investigation the President called for, in reality the company was were furiously working to have the ban suspended until conclusive evidence was amassed proving the that A/C pipes were a health hazard. Under the section headed “Staff Analysis,” Eternit admitted it was aware of the occupational and public health dangers posed by its A/C pipes. See: What Corporations Know and What They Claim to Know: Eternit and Asbestos Cement Pipes.
 

Addressing Canada’s Toxic Legacy

Jul 29, 2021

Despite being banned in Canada in 2018, 152,000 Canadians are still being exposed to asbestos in the workplace according to information released by CAREX Canada, a group tasked with reducing the country’s incidence of cancer. An asbestos report recently published by the Canadian Standards Association identified gaps and inconsistencies in the management of the country’s toxic asbestos legacy and recommended that national standards on a range of issues were needed to close loopholes and ensure that all jurisdictions, Government agencies and employers were coordinating action to protect Canadians from future exposures. See: New CSA report urges national standard for managing asbestos.
 

Hiding Behind Covid-19?

Jul 29, 2021

At a public rally on July 26, 2021 in front of the headquarters of the National Institute of Social Security (INSS), the Asbestos Victims Association (Asviamie) – in the city of Donostia, also known as San Sebastián – accused the INSS of “taking advantage” of Covid-19 measures to create “an inaccessible bunker” which was hindering the processing of benefits and the recognition of occupational diseases, thereby disadvantaging claimants with asbestos and other workplace-related diseases. Waits of up to six months to get face-to-face or telephone appointments for terminal patients were, said Asviamie spokesperson Jesús Urzkudun, unacceptable. See: Asviamie acusa a la Seguridad Social de constituir un “bunker” [Asviamie accuses Social Security of constituting a “bunker”].
 

National Asbestos Database

Jul 27, 2021

The Australian Government has announced plans to develop a public asbestos database to prevent future exposures to asbestos-containing products within the country’s infrastructure. Details from state and territory sources will be collected and artificial intelligence technology will be used “to allow governments to better plan and manage Australia's harmful asbestos legacy.” The work on the “asbestos heatmap” will be undertaken by the Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency (ASEA); commenting on the initiative, ASEA’s CEO Justine Ross said: “In order to prevent exposure, we need to better understand the density and location of asbestos materials, particularly in the residential environment where information is not centralised.” See: National asbestos map being developed by federal government.
 

National Asbestos Remediation Program

Jul 27, 2021

Under regulations now being finalized by the Spanish Government, city councils will have until 2023 to design a plan for the removal of asbestos from their buildings. In order to satisfy the new regulations, the councils must undertake asbestos audits to identify toxic products and assess their condition prior to delineating measures for their removal and disposal. Asbestos-cement (ac) products were widely used throughout the country. The installation of solar panels on properties with ac water tanks is of particular concern and the employment of specialist asbestos removal contractors is essential to prevent toxic exposures. See: La retirada del amianto inicia su cuenta atrás [Asbestos removal countdown starts].
 

Asbestos Remediation in Capital City

Jul 27, 2021

To protect public health from toxic exposures, the General Directorate of Ankara Water and Sewerage Administration is progressing efforts to replace 40-year old asbestos-containing pipes in the water delivery system of the Turkish capital. Polyethylene pipes are being laid by the Water and Channel Construction Department of Ankara’s mains water line. The current phase of the program will deliver safe water to homes where more than 200,000 people live. The work to eradicate asbestos water pipes in all of Ankara is due to be completed by the end of 2021. See: Başkentte asbestli boruların değiştirilmesi çalışmaları devam ediyor [Work continues in the capital to replace asbestos pipes].
 

Under-reporting of ARDs in Brazil

Jul 27, 2021

A paper uploaded on July 22, 2021 to the website of the Journal of Occupational Medicine entitled “Underreporting of mesothelioma, asbestosis and pleural plaques in Brazil” examined factors impacting on the reporting of cases of asbestos-related diseases (ARDs) in that country. The authors found that there were widespread and systemic failures which ensured that a significant numbers of ARDs were neither diagnosed nor reported over a number of years. Deploring this dysfunctionality they concluded that: “It is urgent to make victims visible, monitor the exposed and protect their labour rights.” See: Underreporting of mesothelioma, asbestosis and pleural plaques in Brazil.
 

Asbestos Surprise!

Jul 27, 2021

When Simon Fadden from the Asbestos Division of the Squibb Group uploaded in early July 2021 to Linked In a series of photographs taken at a site his team had recently remediated it set off a flurry of comments all of which expressed surprise that so long after asbestos had been banned in the UK (1999), such a discovery had been made. The photos were of 50 kilogram bales of shrink-wrapped chrysotile asbestos fiber from the Canadian LAB chrysotile (white) asbestos mine. From the pictures it was clear that the toxic fiber had been in situ for some while. Commenting on the surprise, Simon wrote: “It’s not every day you are faced with such vast amounts of asbestos, especially in the product forms it was found.” See: Photograph 1, Photograph 2, Photograph 3.
 

Pioneering São Paulo Outpatient Clinic

Jul 27, 2021

People who worked with asbestos in the city of Pedro Leopoldo in the Brazilian State of Minas Gerais on July 22 travelled more than 10 hours by bus so they could be examined by Dr. Ubiritan de Paula Santos and his team at the Incor Pneumology outpatient clinic at the Heart Institute of the University of São Paulo. The medical program under which they were examined was established by the Brazilian Association of the Asbestos-Exposed (ABREA) in collaboration with medical specialists and has, to date, provided care for scores of asbestos-exposed workers from the States of São Paulo and Minas Gerais; medical training and support for professionals in several health centers was provided in cities including Piracicaba, Capivari and others in São Paulo State. See: Photograph.
 

Job Opportunities at Asbestos Mine

Jul 22, 2021

At a meeting for members of the youth movement “URA-2021,” in mid-July, in the Russian town of Asbestos, attendees were told of wonderful job opportunities at the local asbestos mine: “There are special programs that allow you to get new skills and knowledge on the job, which means both growth in seniority and the opportunity for increased wages. The plant supports its employees by offering them spa holidays, payments on the occasion of the birth of a child, professional development programs and much more.” No mention was made of the deadly effects of asbestos exposure on human health. See: Профсоюзный лидер «Ураласбеста» выступил на XI слете профсоюзной молодежи Урала «УРА-2021» [The trade union leader of "Uralasbest" spoke at the XI meeting of the Urals youth trade union "URA-2021"].
 

Update: Asbestos Trial

Jul 22, 2021

At the July 19, 2021 hearing in the asbestos trial of the Swiss billionaire owner of Eternit, the names of the 392 people who died from, allegedly, inhaling Eternit asbestos were read out. The defendant is charged by prosecutors with manslaughter over the deaths of 63 workers and 320 members of the public from the town of Casale Monferrato in the Piedmont region of Italy. Also read out was a list of proposed witnesses – from a 120-page document – included in which was PM Mario Draghi. During the day, discussions over limiting the number of witnesses to be called took place. See: Processo Eternit-Bis, la Corte d'Assise ammette il premier Draghi tra i testimoni [Eternit-Bis trial, the Court of Assizes admits Prime Minister Draghi among the witnesses].
 

OSHA Asbestos Citations

Jul 22, 2021

According to a July 19, 2021 press release issued by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), three companies – Eastern Coast Management Inc., SRZ Mgmt Holdings LLC and SRZ OP Bentonview LLC – were cited for failing to test for the presence of asbestos, erect protective barriers and provide respiratory and personal protective equipment to staff during refurbishment work in January 2021 to replace flooring at a health facility. As a result, residents of the Bentonview Park Health & Rehabilitation Center in Monett, Missouri as well as specialist technicians were exposed to asbestos. See: U.S. Department of Labor Cites Three Employers at Missouri Residential Care Facility.
 

Asbestos Remediation of Schools

Jul 22, 2021

During the 2021 summer holidays, asbestos safety surveys and remediation work are being carried out in 19 elementary, middle, and high schools in Seoul, under the supervision of personnel from the Seoul Institute of Health and Environment and representatives of the Department of Education. Samples taken after the asbestos removal work has been completed will be examined with state-of-the-art laboratory equipment to ensure the work has been carried out correctly and that the premises are fit for purpose. Any adverse findings will be the cause for follow-up cleaning measures and further tests. See: 서울시, 유·초·중·고 석면 안전성 조사 실시[Seoul conducts asbestos safety survey for elementary, middle, and high schools].
 

Spike in Asbestos Exports

July 22, 2021

Despite the fact that the Brazilian Supreme Court banned the commercial exploitation of asbestos in 2017, figures for June 2021 show that since June 2020 there has been a 246% increase in asbestos fiber exports from Brazil’s asbestos producing State of Goiás. Although, the mine’s owners maintain that they have an exemption to produce asbestos for export purposes only, asbestos victims’ groups and their lawyers believe that these actions are illegal under the Supreme Court ruling. Litigation over this matter is proceeding at the Supreme Court. See: Proibido no Brasil, amianto tem recorde de exportação em Goiás [Banned in Brazil, asbestos exports reach record levels in Goiás].
 

Asbestos Trial Proceeding

Jul 22, 2021

The death of a former municipal worker has resulted in a trial – which began last month (June 2021) – of the French City of Angoulême which had, allegedly, exposed the deceased to asbestos fibers at work. If the municipality is found guilty, it will be ordered to pay the sum of €180,000 (US$210,000+) to the French Compensation Fund for Asbestos Victims (FIVA) which has already paid compensation for this workplace-related death. See: La ville d’Angoulême face aux enjeux environnementaux et sanitaires relatifs à l’amiante [City of Angoulême facing environmental and health issues relating to asbestos].
 

Avoidance of Toxic Talc Claims?

Jul 19, 2021

The American pharmaceutical Johnson & Johnson (J&J), which is facing tens of thousands of cancer claims from people who used its asbestos-contaminated talc-based baby powder, is considering options for off-loading its liabilities in order to minimize compensation payouts. According to Reuters, the use of the Texas two-step – a stratagem which allows a company to create a new entity for housing liabilities which would then file for bankruptcy – is under discussion. Refusing to comment on the rumors, a company spokesperson told Reuters: “Johnson & Johnson Consumer Inc. has not decided on any particular course of action in this litigation other than to continue to defend the safety of talc and litigate these cases in the tort system, as the pending trials demonstrate.” See: J&J exploring putting talc liabilities into bankruptcy.
 

Asbestos and Gastric Cancer

July 19, 2021

A study undertaken by researchers in Taiwan investigated the gastric cancer risk of workers exposed to asbestos. Compared with the general population, the standardized incidence ratios of the asbestos occupational cohort for gastric cancer increased both in males and females. Individuals who had been employed at 123 worksites where cases of malignant mesothelioma had been identified were found to have an increased risk for gastric cancer. The authors of this paper concluded that: “This 35-year retrospective cohort study of asbestos-exposed workers in Taiwan may provide support for an association between occupational exposure to asbestos and gastric cancer.” See: Cancer in Asbestos-Exposed Workers: A Retrospective Cohort Study Based on Taiwan Cancer Registry 1980–2015.
 

Asbestos and Liver Cancer!

Jul 19, 2021

Italian researchers will soon publish results of an investigation which confirmed findings in 2013 that linked exposure to asbestos to an increased risk of liver cancer. The original study was undertaken by a team in Bologna led by Professor Giovanni Brandi, who recently said that there was solid evidence: “of a correlation between exposure to asbestos and tumors of the gastrointestinal tract and in particular of the liver… We published a retrospective study that highlighted how the possibility of contracting cholangiocarcinoma is 5 times greater for people who have been exposed to asbestos. Furthermore, a prospective study is about to be published…where the risk has increased by even 7 times.” See: L'amianto colpisce anche il fegato [Asbestos also affects the liver].
 

Farewell Paco!

Jul 19, 2021

The death of the Spanish environmentalist and asbestos activist Francisco Puche – known to one and all as Paco – has been reported. The 82-year-old bookshop owner, who was a key figure amongst campaigners and intellectuals in his home town of Malaga, died on July 16. His death came barely two months after his iconic bookshop had been destroyed in a fire. Speaking about Paco’s legacy, journalist Héctor Márquez said he had been: “a pioneer in this city in introducing topics such as social welfare, the circular economy, the value of water, the dangers of asbestos, the society of common good, sustainability, green spaces.” See: Muere el librero y activista Francisco Puche, fundador de Proteo [The bookseller and activist Francisco Puche, founder of Proteo, dies].
 

Say No to Asbestos Gaskets!

Jul 19, 2021

A prosecution brought by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) resulted in a fine of £22,000 at Leeds Magistrates’ Court for Power Link Machines (UK) Ltd. which had been found guilty of breaching asbestos safety regulations. In 2018, the company was found to be using asbestos-containing gaskets in its generator sets despite having been served with a prohibition order six months earlier which required the company stop importing all asbestos items. The banned goods had been imported from China. After the hearing, HSE inspector Rachel Brittain said: “Had the company put robust checks in place to ensure that they were not importing asbestos containing materials, this incident would not have occurred.” See: £22k fine for asbestos exposure.
 

Asbestos Dumping on Madeira

Jul 19, 2021

On July 15, 2021, Miguel Iglésias – leader of the Legislative Assembly of the island of Madeira – told a plenary session of the Assembly that several tonnes of asbestos debris had been illegally dumped at a shipyard in the city of São Vicente. The toxic waste had been disposed of by a contractor employed by the Madeira Housing Association, a public authority, to remove asbestos from housing stock. The owners of the site and transport company are being investigated by the Republican National Guard; a prosecution is pending before the Judicial Court of Madeira. See: Amianto enterrado na Madeira inclui detritos provenientes de empreitadas públicas [Asbestos buried in Madeira includes debris from public works].
 

Addressing EU Asbestos Hazard

Jul 16, 2021

MEPs are calling for the European Commission to prioritize measures to eradicate the EU asbestos hazard. According to French MEP Véronique Trillet-Lenoir, efforts to renovate 35 million inefficient buildings in the EU by 2030 provide the opportunity to remove asbestos and eradicate the hazard: “A European strategy is needed to avoid inequalities in protection: every worker must be adequately protected, regardless of his or her place of work… Removing asbestos now means avoiding passing on this burden to future generations and making a major investment in public health: the benefits are considerable, not only in terms of lives saved and pain avoided but also in terms of savings for social protection systems.” See: MEPs are calling for complete elimination of cancer-causing asbestos.
 

Peritoneal Mesothelioma: Progress

Jul 16, 2021

Good news has been published by researchers from the University of Texas who found a “40% objective response rate in patients with advanced malignant peritoneal mesothelioma” in a phase II study that used a combination of atezolizumab and bevacizumab to treat patients. In a July 14, 2021 article in Cancer Discovery, Associate Professor of Gastrointestinal Medical Oncology Dr. Kanwal Raghav, who led the study, said: “There is a grave unmet need for patients with peritoneal mesothelioma… This study establishes a much-needed treatment option and represents an effort to encourage research for this rare disease.” See: Drug combination shows meaningful responses for malignant peritoneal mesothelioma patient.
 

Catalonia to Eradicate Asbestos

Jul 16, 2021

The President of the Government of Catalonia Pere Aragonès on July 16, 2021 recommitted his government to the goal of eliminating asbestos from Catalonia, announcing that “a regulatory framework will be drawn up” as part of the National Plan to Eradicate Asbestos “so no one else has to suffer the consequences of the degradation of this material again.” All the town councils and Catalan administration will have a role to play in ensuring that the region has “healthy cities free of this component of fiber cement.” See: Aragonès se compromete a retirar el amianto de Catalunya [Aragonès is committed to removing asbestos from Catalonia].
 

Korean Asbestos Training: Update

Jul 16, 2021

On July 13, 2021, the Korean Association for Asbestos Safety and Health announced that it would support “Intensive Asbestos Safety Management Training'” for municipal workers in 17 local governments across the country who deal with asbestos issues; educating officials in city halls, provincial, county and ward offices. While the main focus of the case-oriented education is practical measures for minimizing hazards in asbestos remediation operations, and asbestos safety management inspections, also covered are updates on asbestos management laws and safety protocols. See: 석면연대, 17개 지자체 대상 석면안전관리 심화 예방교육 지원 [Asbestos Coalition supports in-depth prevention education on asbestos safety management for 17 local governments].
 

Asbestos Prosecution in NSW

Jul 16, 2021

A prosecution over asbestos dumping in Sydney in 2017 which was brought by the New South Wales Environment Protection Authority (EPA) resulted in a guilty plea by the accused: Michael Anthony Laird. Laird had been contracted by property owners to bring in soil for the construction of building pads; the 1.351 tonnes of in-fill material he delivered was contaminated with asbestos. Magistrate L Robinson convicted Mr Laird on two charges and ordered him to pay over $220,000 (US$164,000) in financial penalties and costs. See: Asbestos waste delivery results in conviction and over $200,000 in penalties.
 

Another Mechanic Contracts Asbestos Cancer

Jul 16, 2021

A substantial settlement was achieved for 67-year old mesothelioma plaintiff Tim Reed who had been employed by Eastern Counties Omnibus Company at their Peterborough depot between 1968 and 1973. During his apprenticeship as a fitter, Reed had been exposed to asbestos contained in bus brakes and clutches. Mr. Reed was diagnosed with the asbestos cancer in 2018, 12 years after he had begun work as a rugby development coach with the Rugby Football Union. He has been forced to retire due to deteriorating health. See: Settlement for Former Rugby Development Coach with Asbestos Cancer.
 

Justice: Not Seen, Not Heard

Jul 14, 2021

As members of the asbestos victims’ group Afeva settled themselves in the Novara Court of Assizes to witness legal proceedings in the manslaughter trial of Swiss billionaire Stephan Schmidheiny on July 12, 2021, the President of the Court of Assizes Gianfranco Pezone ordered they be removed, citing Covid regulations. Arguing their case, stalwart Afeva member Bruno Pesce said: “We are few and the room is empty. While we are here, as always, let us stay.” They were ordered to leave the Court. The legal arguments recommenced after they left the chamber. See: I membri di Afeva allontanati dall'aula all'Eternit Bis [Afeva members removed from the Eternit Bis (hearing) courtroom].
 

A Visit to Russia’s Asbestos City

Jul 14, 2021

Shinjiro Minami, a Japanese academic, who went on a trip to the Russian city of Asbestos to visit the world’s largest asbestos mine, has reported his findings to a Japanese newspaper. In spite of WHO warnings over the deadly effects of exposure to asbestos, operations at the mine continue with colossal levels of airborne asbestos fiber produced daily. Minami’s guide told him: “Everyone knows that asbestos is harmful. My grandfather's colleagues who worked in the mine died thin and coughing repeatedly.” Mine workers are given one liter of milk every day to dampen down the fibers. Fear of reprisals from the mining company ensures that there is no public opposition to the mine. See: ロシア・「被害はデマ」 アスベスト採掘今も [Russia “damage is hoax,” asbestos mining continues].
 

Local Government’s New Victims’ Scheme

Jul 14, 2021

On July 12, 2021, Akashi City announced the launch of a consultation service for asbestos victims amid concerns about the repercussions of toxic exposures during the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake and the subsequent clean-up operations. The local government’s initiative will offer occupational and environmental victims a one-stop consultation service to facilitate their access to medical, social and legal services. See: 明石市がアスベスト相談窓口を開設 石綿の健康被害者を支援 [Akashi City Opens Asbestos Consultation Service Supporting Asbestos Victims].
 

Mesothelioma Verdict Upheld

Jul 14, 2021

On July 8, 2021, the Washington Supreme Court overturned an Appellate Court’s verdict which had rejected a jury’s decision in a wrongful death case brought by the family of Jerry “Doy” Coogan, an auto mechanic who had died in 2015 aged 67 from the asbestos cancer mesothelioma. The Supreme Court Judges, who reinstated a $81.5 million verdict, unanimously held that the Court of Appeals had “overstepped its limited role and inappropriately substituted its own judgment for that of the trial court, and most importantly, the jury.” The two defendants which had sold or supplied the asbestos-containing brake pads and other parts which the deceased had used were held liable for the damages awarded. See: Court Upholds $81.5 Million Verdict in Mesothelioma Case.
 

Inquiry into HSE Asbestos Policy

Jul 14, 2021

Although the use of asbestos was banned in the UK in 1999, the incidence of asbestos-related cancer is still the highest in the world. To better understand what might be done to reduce the high level of asbestos-related diseases, the Parliamentary Work and Pensions Committee has launched an inquiry into the Health & Safety Executive’s (HSE) policy and practices for managing the continued presence of asbestos in buildings. Stephen Timms MP, Chair of the Work and Pensions Committee, said: “The HSE is rightly looking into how asbestos can be handled more safely and the Committee’s inquiry will help to make sure monitoring and regulations are as effective and safe as they can possibly be.” See: Health & Safety Executive approach to asbestos management examined.
 

Asbestosis in Motor Vehicle Mechanics

Jul 14, 2021

Occupational exposures to asbestos-containing automotive parts such as brakes, clutches and gaskets have resulted in an elevated incidence of asbestos-related disease amongst motor vehicle mechanics. Researchers in Denmark examined the long-term risk and mortality from mesothelioma, lung cancer, asbestosis and other lung diseases amongst a nationwide cohort of all registered male motor vehicle mechanics since 1970. While there was no increase in risk of malignant mesothelioma/pleural cancers “the risk of asbestosis was increased among vehicle mechanics.” See: Risk of asbestosis, mesothelioma, other lung disease or death among motor vehicle mechanics: a 45-year Danish cohort study.
 

BBC’s Asbestos Deaths

Jul 12, 2021

On April 8, 2021 the day of the demise of musician Christopher Larkin, his former employer – the BBC – admitted liability for his death. An inquest into his death ruled that Mr. Larkin had contracted the cancer mesothelioma due to “exposure to asbestos when he worked for the BBC from 1966 to 1997.” For decades, this member of the BBC orchestra had rehearsed and played at the BBC’s Maida Vale studios in West London which were, according to corporate documents, riddled with asbestos. Mr. Larkin’s widow and the family of another member of the orchestra, violinist Edwin Dodd, are suing the corporation over the demise of their loved ones. See: Musician’s widow sues BBC over his exposure to asbestos in studio.
 

Sad Day for Italian Justice

Jul 12, 2021

Late in the evening of July 9, 2021, Criminal Section IV of the Italian Court of Cassation (Supreme Court) confirmed a 2019 verdict of the Milan Court of Appeal acquitting former executives of the manslaughter of 15 employees who had died from asbestos cancer caused by toxic exposures at an Alfa Romeo factory in the municipality of Arese in the Milan Metropolitan area. The defendants had been accused over their failures to adopt precautionary protocols between 1974 and 1996 which would have prevented toxic exposures of members of the workforce. See: Amianto all’Alfa di Arese Tutti assolti [Asbestos (exposures) at Arese Alfa (factory) – All acquitted].
 

Investigation of HSE’s Asbestos Policy

Jul 12, 2021

On July 9, 2021, the Parliamentary Work and Pensions Committee launched an investigation into how the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) manages the presence of asbestos in buildings; the deadline for submissions is September 18, 2021. The Committee will examine the risks posed by asbestos in the workplace, the actions taken by HSE to control them and how the HSE’s approach compares to that taken in other countries. Commenting on this initiative, Stephen Timms MP, Chair of the Work and Pensions Committee, said: “Despite being banned for more than 20 years, the impact of asbestos is still devastating lives. Thousands of people die from asbestos-related illness every year.” See: Health and Safety Executive’s approach to asbestos management.
 

Mission: Asbestos Bans in Asia

Jul 12, 2021

On its fortieth anniversary, Australia’s Union Aid Abroad (APHEDA) has recommitted itself to the campaign to ban asbestos in Asia: APHEDA’s campaign Asbestos. not here. not anywhere, its flagship concern for the next four years, “aims to ban Asbestos in Vietnam, Indonesia, Laos and Cambodia, while also aiding and abetting the global movement for a total ban on Asbestos.” Over recent years, APHEDA’s work has been crucial in raising awareness of the asbestos hazard in these countries and in building capacity for outreach work to empower workers and the public to demand protection from the deadly carcinogen which is still being used in their countries. See: Drive for social justice sparks almost 40 years of supporting workers’ rights globally.
 

Asbestos Management Training

Jul 12, 2021

On July 9, 2021, the The Jeollabuk-do Office of Education conducted training regarding protocols for the safe management of asbestos in schools. The program, entitled 2021 Summer Vacation Asbestos Dismantling and Removal School Team Training, began at 2 p.m. and was held at the Jeonbuk Education and Culture Center Assembly Hall. Amongst those eligible to attend this session were: staff from 48 schools in the province, officials from the Education Support Office, parents participating in the monitoring group and representatives of private companies engaged in asbestos removal work. See: 석면 모니터단 교육… 안전성·신뢰도 높인다 [Asbestos monitoring team training … Increase safety and reliability].
 

Manslaughter Charges over Asbestos Deaths?

Jul 12, 2021

The public prosecutor’s office has opened an investigation into the asbestos cancer deaths of four workers who had been employed at production sites owned by the Iveco company in the city of Bolzano in Italy’s South Tyrol Province. Deputy prosecutor Andrea Sacchetti is in charge of the complex investigation which will involve accumulating data and evidence documenting conditions experienced by the workforce at multiple sites over up to forty years. See: Quattro decessi sospetti per amianto [Four suspected deaths from asbestos].
 

Legal Victory in Osaka

Jul 10, 2021

On July 8, 2021, the Osaka High Court issued a victim’s verdict in a case brought by the family of a 70-year old construction worker Mr. Iwao Kawahara who died from the cancer mesothelioma as a result of occupational asbestos exposures. The government agreed to pay his widow Chizuruko Kawahara the sum of  ¥13.36 million (US$ 121,600). Commenting on the outcome of the case, Mrs. Kawahara said: “It was a long trial, but I am relieved that a settlement has been reached.” See: 建設石綿訴訟、作業員側と国が和解 最高裁判決後で初 [Construction asbestos proceedings, workers and country settled for the first time after Supreme Court decision].
 

Andalusia Asbestos Remediation

Jul 10, 2021

On July 8, 2021, a deputy from a coalition political party formed in Seville, Spain earlier this year – Unidas Podemos por Andalucía (United We Can for Andalusia) – lodged a parliamentary initiative calling for the removal of asbestos in all public buildings in the Province of Andalusia. Deputy Ismael Sanchez said that airborne asbestos fibers “represent a respiratory risk and it is scientifically proven that this material causes cancer.” See: UP reclama a la Junta la retirada del amianto en edificios públicos de la provincia de Sevilla [UP demands that the Board remove asbestos in public buildings in the province of Seville].
 

New Mesothelioma Data

Jul 10, 2021

Information published in July 2021 by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) documented a slight decrease in the annual number of mesothelioma deaths in 2019 with total British mesothelioma deaths of 2,369 compared to 2,446 deaths in 2018. While recent years have seen a small decline in the number of male mesothelioma deaths, female deaths remained about the same (424 in 2019). According to the HSE: “Men who worked in the building industry when asbestos was used extensively in the past continue to be most at risk of mesothelioma.” See: Mesothelioma statistics for Great Britain, 2021.
 

Mesothelioma Causation

Jul 10, 2021

A very interesting paper by Turkish and Swedish scientists examined the rate of mesothelioma amongst a cohort of Turkish immigrants to Sweden, some of who had lived in Karain, a village in Turkey which has an extraordinarily high incidence of mesothelioma due to naturally occurring erionite. The cohort was divided into people who had lived in Karain (the erionite-exposed) and those who had not (the erionite-unexposed). The 44 patients in the cohort of 337 who had contracted mesothelioma had been exposed to erionite in Karain. The researchers concluded that: “Exposure to erionite is the leading cause of mesothelioma in Karain villagers, and genetic factors are probably of minor importance.” See: Mesothelioma in immigrants from Turkey: Genes have a minor role.
 

Asbestos Remediation in Tamil Nadu

Jul 10, 2021

Work to replace aging asbestos-cement water pipes in the Indian city of Coimbatore is to be resumed after a hiatus caused by the coronavirus pandemic. The replacement iron pipeline will make water delivery safer and more reliable to customers on the State Bank Road. This initiative is indicative of a change in custom and use in the country which is the world’s biggest importer of asbestos fiber. According to asbestos experts in India, States like Tamil Nadu, West Bengal and Maharashtra “are setting examples” by replacing asbestos material with safer alternatives. See: Work to lay drinking water pipeline to resume soon.
 

Milan Court Sanctions MoD

Jul 10, 2021

A victim’s ruling by a Labor Judge in the Court of Milan ordered the Ministry of Defense (MoD) to pay compensation to the orphaned child of a mesothelioma patient who died in 2017, having been exposed to asbestos whilst on military service in Venice from March 1963 to April 1964. The MoD was ordered to pay a lump sum of €430,000+ (US$509,000) as well as two monthly life-time pensions equalling €1533 (US$1815). See: Amianto, ministero Difesa condannato a risarcire orfana di ex lagunare a Venezia morto per mesotelioma pleurico [Asbestos, Ministry of Defense ordered to compensate orphan of a Venice serviceman who died of pleural mesothelioma].
 

Replacement of Asbestos Housing

Jul 7, 2021

On July 5, 2021, the Acting Governor of Russia’s Khabarovsk Territory Mikhail Degtyarev announced that residents of Berlin village currently living in housing containing asbestos would be rehoused. The twelve toxic structures were prefabricated panel houses imported from East Germany in the 1980s as temporary housing for builders of the thermal power station. See: Аварийные дома в Комсомольске-на-Амуре расселят в 2021 году после жалоб жителей Дегтяреву [Occupants of emergency houses in Komsomolsk-on-Amur will be resettled in 2021 after complaints from residents to Degtyarev].
 

Inconvenient Asbestos Legacy

Jul 7, 2021

The presence of more than three million square meters of asbestos-cement roofing on houses in the Balearic Islands is creating problems for islanders wishing to install solar panels. Workers installing photovoltaic panels on the roofing are being exposed to carcinogenic asbestos as they manipulate the toxic tiles said Gonzalo Zufía, President of the Asbestos Removal Association. According to Zufia, this situation was “worsening a serious problem that affects the health of millions of people.” See: El amianto, un problema a resolver antes de instalar placas solares [Asbestos, a problem to solve before installing solar panels].
 

Action Mesothelioma Day 2021

Jul 7, 2021

At noon on July 2, the Merseyside Asbestos Victims Support Group charity held a small in-person ceremony at St. Nicholas’s Parish Church to remember those whose lives had been taken by asbestos. The solemnity of the day was marked with a dove release and brief comments by attendees who included the Lord Mayor of Liverpool, the Mayor of Wirral, Councillor George Davies and Mayoress-Mrs. Cath Davies, and children from New Brighton Primary School. In his remarks, Liverpool’s Mayor highlighted the UK’s ongoing asbestos epidemic and called for an “international ban on the import, export and general use of asbestos.” See: Asbestos Charity Remembers Victims on Action Mesothelioma Day.
 

Update on Asbestos Remediation Plans

Jul 7, 2021

Negotiations with the central government over the need to remediate 40-year old asbestos-cement sewage pipes in the Bahrain cities of Manama and Muharraq were ongoing Muharraq Municipal Council members were told by Works, Municipalities Affairs and Urban Planning Ministry under-secretary Ahmed Al Khayat. He reported that funding for this very expensive project could be forthcoming by the end of 2022, but that the government’s current priority was the installation of new sewage networks. See: Plan to replace sewage network in Bahrain.
 

National Asbestos Cancer Epidemic

Jul 7, 2021

A new paper by Italian researchers analyzed historical asbestos consumption figures in order to construct epidemiological models to forecast the incidence in Italy of malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM) mortality until 2039. The authors reported that as the economic cost of each case of MPM was as much as €250,000 (US$296,000), the total economic cost of MPM for Italian men during the period 2020–2039 could be as high as €3,875,000,000 (US$4.589bn). The researchers concluded that the Italian MPM epidemic will reach its peak in 2021 with a predicted number of 1122 cases among men. See: Effect of Asbestos Consumption on Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma in Italy: Forecasts of Mortality up to 2040.
 

R.I.P. Marco!

Jul 5, 2021

On July 3, 2021, the asbestos victims’ group AFeVA ER in Emilia-Romagna, Italy announced the asbestos cancer death of 60-year-old Marco Valdisserra, a stalwart campaigner for the rights of asbestos victims, a trade unionist and a former worker at Bologna’s railway repair workshop. Like many of his colleagues, Marco had been occupationally exposed to asbestos by his employer for decades. On July 9, Marco would have celebrated his 61st birthday. In the announcement of his death, AFeVA ER expressed its sadness at the fact that Covid restrictions meant that group members were unable to spend time with Marco during his final months. See: Oggi ci ha lasciato Marco Valdisserra [Marco Valdisserra left us today].
 

Asbestos Legacy in Western Australia

Jul 5, 2021

The environmental catastrophe caused by the mining of crocidolite (blue) asbestos in Western Australia’s Wittenoom Gorge remains, decades after the mine closed. An article detailing the toxic effects on human health and the environment highlighted the impact on the Banjima, Guruma, Yindjibarndi, Ngarluma, Yinhawangka, Nyaparli and Palyku people who had lived and worked in the area. The former mine and surrounding areas have been classified as “the largest contaminated area in the southern hemisphere.” Banjima elders say the contamination must be eradicated and further delays in addressing the problems are unacceptable. See: Wittenoom's asbestos mining waste continues to lay unresolved after 55 years.
 

New York’s Toxic Asbestos Legacy

Jul 5, 2021

On July 2, 2021 at an on-site press conference, US Senator Chuck Schumer announced a plan to clean up the New York town of Ulster’s asbestos-contaminated Tech City site. Joining him at the event, which was held in front of mounds of asbestos waste, were Ulster County Executive Pat Ryan, State Senator Michelle Hinchey and other officials. Schumer is calling on Congress to allocate an additional $5 billion to revive the EPA’s Superfund Program in order to remove toxic chemicals from sites like Tech City saying: “It’s high time that we fully clean up asbestos on this Tech City site, and it poses a threat to Ulster County residents.” See: Schumer seeking federal support to clean up Ulster's Tech City.
 

Asbestos Hazard in UK Schools: Update

Jul 5, 2021

To mark Action Mesothelioma Day on July 2, 2021, the Joint Union Asbestos Committee (JUAC) published a report – Continuing Government Failure Leads to Rise in School Mesothelioma Deaths – which highlighted the elevated risk in 2021 of asbestos exposure to staff and pupils working in CLASP-type schools, saying that the cancer risk is higher now than it was decades ago. Recommendations made included a call for a coordinated, phased removal of all asbestos from the educational infrastructure with a 2028 deadline for completion. Commenting on the report, JUAC Chair John McClean said: “this report must serve as a catalyst for immediate government action.” See: Asbestos in schools more likely to kill now than in the eighties.
 

Asbestos Hazard on the Subway

Jul 5, 2021

As of now, only 48% of the asbestos contamination of the Spanish capital’s Metro de Madrid transport network has been remediated. The company has set a deadline of 2027 for the eradication of the hazard; a budget of €170 million (US$202m) has been allocated to accomplish this goal. In addition, the company has enrolled on the Register of Companies with Asbestos Risk as per a demand by the trade unions in order to offer maximum security and protection to its workers. This action means that the company must only use specialist asbestos removal companies for the work and that no sub-contracting of tasks is permitted. See: Metro de Madrid tendrá un equipo de trabajo propio para quedar libre de amianto en 2027 [Metro de Madrid will have its own work team to be free of asbestos by 2027].
 

Hazard of Asbestos-Cement Roofing

Jul 5, 2021

A paper published by Korean researchers on June 28, 2021, which was part of a special issue on Asbestos and Cancer: Exposure from Neighboring Factories and Mines, Contaminated Soil, and Slate Roofs, examined the effects on human health of residential asbestos-cement slate-related exposure. Although the exposure was found to be of medium risk, as there was no threshold for carcinogenicity related to asbestos, this finding was something which needed further consideration, the authors concluded. See: Asbestos Exposure Level and the Carcinogenic Risk Due to Corrugated Asbestos-Cement Slate Roofs in Korea.
 

Asbestos Ban in Asia!

Jul 3, 2021

A new prohibition excluding the use of asbestos from projects funded by the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) is being lauded as a huge victory by ban asbestos campaigners in Asia, the region which accounts for the majority of annual global asbestos consumption. Whereas some use of chrysotile (white) asbestos had been allowed previously, according to new AIIB regulations absolutely no use will be permitted as per revisions of the Environmental and Social Framework which forbids “Production of, trade in, or use of asbestos fibres, whether or not bonded.” See: Asbestos industry takes a big hit in Asia.
 

São Paulo Carrier: Asbestos Hot Potato

Jul 3, 2021

The controversy continues over the sale of the former Brazilian warship the São Paulo to the Turkish shipyard Sök Denizcilik Ticaret which plans to scrap the vessel at a dismantling yard in Izmir. The sale of the vessel has not yet been ratified and the São Paulo remains moored at a Brazilian naval base in Rio de Janeiro. The fact that no Inventory of Hazardous Materials for the vessel has been seen, has led campaigners in Brazil and Europe to question the legality of the sale. See: Antigo porta-aviões da Marinha será sucateado na Turquia [Former Navy aircraft carrier to be scrapped in Turkey].
 

Asbestos Action in Brest

Jul 3, 2021

Trade unions blocked the French port of Brest on June 30, 2021 to demonstrate disapproval of government plans to end the right to early retirement of asbestos-exposed dock workers. Almost as soon as the action began – at 6 a.m. – traffic jams started to build up. According to the unions, the Directorate General of Labor proposes to end this right in June 2022 because a new standard for the detection of asbestos on ships sailing under the French flag will be introduced on January 1, 2022. See: Amiante: blocage du port de Brest ce mercredi. [Asbestos: blockage of the port of Brest on Wednesday].
 

Concerns over Asbestos in Water

Jul 3, 2021

An investigation has been launched as a result of questions posed by Andrew Stevens, Shannon Zachidniak and Cheryl Stadnichuk – councillors of the Canadian town of Regina – regarding the extent and condition of asbestos-cement pipes in the municipal water delivery system. Mayor Sandra Masters said this issue had been discussed at meetings this year and that work to analyze water contents would be undertaken. It has been estimated that 60% of the city’s water network, equivalent to 600 kilometers of pipes, was built with asbestos-cement pipes. See: Inquiétudes sur la présence d’amiante dans les canalisations de Regina [Concerns about the presence of asbestos in Regina pipes].
 

Asbestos Action by Spanish Unions

Jul 3, 2021

In a letter dated June 24, 2021, members of the Works Council of the Madrid Metro – who represent several trade unions including the CCOO, UGT, the Union of the Metro Machinists' Collective, the Madrid Metro Technicians Union, the Free Union and the Workers' Solidarity Union – requested members of the Socialist Group in Spain’s Congress of Deputies to contest plans by the Government which would negatively affect the pension rights of asbestos-exposed railway workers. See: El comité de empresa de Metro de Madrid pide que se fije la prejubilación a los 60 años para los expuestos al amianto [The Madrid Metro works council calls for early retirement to be set at 60 years for those exposed to asbestos].
 

New Asbestos Management Ordinance

Jul 3, 2021

A new bill – “Ordinance on Asbestos Safety Management and Support of Busan Metropolitan City” – sponsored by Busan City councillor Jae-young Kim was adopted by Busan Metropolitan City Council on June 30. According to Representative Kim, after the promulgation of the ordinance, councillors will cooperate with the relevant departments of Busan City so that the current asbestos-cement dismantling and disposal project can be carried out without any setback and a fact-finding survey be set up that can comprehensively monitor both the condition of material and fiber levels in the surrounding environment. See: “김재영 시의원, 석면안전관리 및 지원에 관한 조례 추진” [“City councilor Jae-young Kim, promotion of ordinance on asbestos safety management and support”].
 

Government Asbestos Disease Data

Jun 28, 2021

Data released by the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare for 2020 revealed that the government had recognized as occupational injuries 1,059 cases of construction workers injured through asbestos exposures. In 2022, a government scheme to pay compensation to asbestos-injured construction workers and bereaved families will become operational. The Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare has set up a telephone consultation service to provide information: the phone number is 0570-006031. See: アスベスト吸い込み肺がんなど 昨年度の労災認定1059人 厚労省 [Asbestos inhalation Lung cancer, etc. Last year's occupational accident certification for 1059 people].
 

Victim’s Verdict for Submariner’s Family

Jun 28, 2021

A verdict by the Civil Court in Rome ordered the Ministry of Defence to pay compensation of €1.5 million (US$1.8m) to the surviving family of a submariner who died from mesothelioma 60 years after he had been exposed to asbestos during military service. This decision was welcomed as a landmark judgment as it affirmed “the principle that conscripts exposed to asbestos on duty in the Navy, as in other Italian armed forces are entitled to compensation for injuries…” See: L’amianto affonda la Marina Militare: il Tribunale di Roma condanna il Ministero della Difesa a pagare 1 milione e mezzo di euro per la morte di un militare [Asbestos sinks the Navy: the Court of Rome orders the Ministry of Defense to pay 1.5 million euros for the death of a soldier].
 

NIMBY!

Jun 28, 2021

On Sunday morning, June 27, 2021, local people and environmental campaigners held a protest to highlight their objections to a proposal to create a landfill site for toxic waste at the former Zidani asbestos mine in the Greek city of Kozani. Ecologists and scientists told the participants of the dangerous consequences for human health and the environment of the proposal which had been rejected by multiple authorities and citizens’ groups in this earthquake prone region. See: αντιΧΥΤΑΜ: Συγκέντρωση διαμαρτυρίας στη γέφυρα Ρυμνίου την Κυριακή 27 Ιουνίου – “Λέμε όχι στο νεκροταφείο αμιάντου στα ΜΑΒΕ” [antiHYTAM: Protest rally at the Rymni bridge on Sunday, June 27 – “We say no to the asbestos cemetery in MAVE”].
 

Common Sense by Asbestos Master

Jun 28, 2021

A judgment handed down on June 25, 2021 by Master Davison in the case of Patricia Smith vs. W. Ford & Sons (Contractors) Ltd. rejected an attempt by insurers which would impose conditions that would delay the progress of claims by allowing cost budgeting in cases on the asbestos list. Stressing the importance of handling asbestos cases with dispatch and the need to treat all cases on the list equally, the Master dismissed arguments advanced by the defendant saying: “it seems to me that it is for that defendant to show, rather than merely assert, that costs in asbestos cases are disproportionate or not adequately controlled.” See: Judgement in the case of Patricia Smith vs. W. Ford & Sons (Contractors) Ltd.
 

Asbestos Remediation in Schools

Jun 28, 2021

An investment of almost €11.5 million (US$13.8m) is being made in Portugal by the Regional Operational Program Center to remove asbestos-cement material from school buildings, seven of which are in Bairrada, in the Province of Beira Litoral. The European Union has contributed the sum of €10m for the remediation work. In total, the 100 projects being financed by these resources will remove from public schools approximately 174,532 m² of asbestos roofs, equivalent to 17 football fields. See: Sete escolas da Bairrada vão ficar livres de amianto [Seven schools in Bairrada will be free of asbestos].
 

More Asbestos Propaganda

Jun 25, 2021

The purveyors of one of the world’s most despised substances continue to peddle lies about the unfair commercial attacks on chrysotile (white) asbestos in an attempt to buy a few more years of profits from unsuspecting governments and consumers. Their statements such as “Chrysotile fibers are silky soft threads that dissolve when exposed to acids ... chrysotile fiber ... is not harmful and therefore does not provoke disease” have been disproved and discredited by international agencies, scores of national governments and independent scientists who agree that the best way to end the pandemic of asbestos disease is to stop using asbestos. See: Игра в ассоциации: как полезный минерал превратился в ночную страшилку [Association game: how a useful mineral turned into a nightly horror story].
 

Saskatchewan’s Deadly Asbestos Legacy

Jun 25, 2021

The leading cause of occupational mortality in the Canadian Province of Saskatchewan was exposures to asbestos, according to data released by WorkSafe Saskatchewan, the Saskatchewan Workers' Compensation Board and the Ministry of Labor Relations and Workplace Safety on June 22, 2021. To raise awareness of the asbestos hazard, WorkSafe Saskatchewan launched an information campaign advising the public on when to check for the presence of asbestos, when to hire an asbestos removal professional, and how to check the asbestos registry for Saskatchewan. See: L’amiante, principale cause de décès en milieu de travail en Saskatchewan [Asbestos, Leading Cause of Workplace Deaths in Saskatchewan].
 

Asbestos Exposure at Steel Mill

Jun 25, 2021

The Brazilian steelmaker Usiminas was ordered by Judge Jedson Marcos dos Santos Miranda, in a Labor Court in the Brazilian State of Minas Gerais, to pay compensation of R$200,000 (US$40,000) to all members of its workforce who had been occupationally exposed to asbestos over the last 30 years. In addition, the company was instructed to pay for the medical treatment of all the workers who had been affected by asbestos-related conditions. The case had been brought by the Public Ministry of Labor which alleged that the workers in multiple departments of the company had been “directly and habitually” exposed to asbestos at the steel mill. See: Trabalhadores expostos a amianto serão indenizados pela Usiminas [Workers exposed to asbestos will be compensated by Usiminas].
 

Prosecution for Asbestos Dumping

Jun 25, 2021

An investigation by Spain’s Civil Guard concerns the dumping of asbestos waste on a rural farm near the town of Palencia. The accused are employees of a Toledo construction company which had neither the authorization to work with asbestos nor manage toxic waste. The material dumped was composed of asbestos-cement debris and weighed 1.5 tonnes. The crimes being investigated include the dumping of toxic waste, hazardous exposures of workers, pollution of the environment, fraud and document falsification. See: Dos investigados por verter más de una tonelada de restos de fibrocemento en una finca rústica de Palencia [Two investigated for dumping more than a ton of fiber cement remains on a rustic farm in Palencia].
 

Mesothelioma Research: Good News

Jun 25, 2021

The mesothelioma epidemic in Italy continues to claim thousands of lives every year with a further 2,000 cases diagnosed in 2020. Areas with elevated incidences of this cancer include Piedmont and especially the Casale Monferrato area, where Europe’s largest asbestos-cement factory was located. Until now, there have been few treatment options for mesothelioma patients but in recent days good news was announced by Italian and British researchers at the Congress of the American Society of Clinical Oncology about the use of immunotherapy and chemotherapy treatments to extend survival time and prevent the recurrence of disease. See: Mesotelioma, nuovi spiragli per il «big killer» provocato dall'amianto [Mesothelioma, new glimmers for (confronting) the “big killer” caused by asbestos].
 

Asbestos in Schools: Progress

Jun 24, 2021

Last week, Member of the Executive Council for Finance and eGovernment of South Africa’s Gauteng Province Nomantu Nkomo-Ralehoko set a deadline for the eradication of asbestos from schools during her budget speech. Nkomo-Ralehoko said the Gauteng Infrastructure Financing Agency: “is working closely with the Department of Education and Gauteng provincial Treasury to find an optimal solution to fund the construction of schools on greenfield (new) sites and brownfield sites, to replace old structures, asbestos structures and mobile schools.” See: Gauteng government sets deadline to eradicate asbestos schools.
 

Victim’s Verdict in Liverno

Jun 23, 2021

A Court in Livorno, Italy issued a victim’s verdict over the asbestos death in 2010 of Romano Posarelli, who had worked at the Rosignano plant belonging to the Solvay chemical company from 1974 till 1993. Solvay did not, Labor Judge Sara Maffei found, “even adopt the minimum measures envisaged to combat [toxic] inhalation” nor “informed the workers in relation to the risks and precautions to be taken.” The company was ordered to pay the family €558,000 (US$634,000). See: Amianto, Solvay dovrà risarcire 558mila euro al figlio di un operaio morto per carcinoma. “Danno biologico trasmissibile agli eredi” [Asbestos, Solvay will have to pay 558 thousand euros to the son of a worker who died of carcinoma. “Biological damage that can be transmitted to the heirs”].
 

Mesothelioma: Update

Jun 24, 2021

A press release issued on June 23, 2021 by the pharmaceutical company Bristol Myers Squibb has trumpeted the news that two of its drugs – Opdivo and Yervoy – will be listed on July 1, 2021 in Australia’s Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme which facilitates the dispensing of medicines subsidized by the Australian government. These drugs are checkpoint inhibitors which “work together to help activate the immune system to recognise and attack cancer cells.” Used in combination, they have proven to be effective for the treatment of malignant mesothelioma, the signature cancer associated with asbestos exposure. See: New treatment for Aussies living with asbestos-related cancer.
 

Asbestos Hazard for Shipbreakers

Jun 24, 2021

The prosperity of ship dismantling companies in Turkey is built on an acceptance of conditions which are hazardous both to workers and the environment. The impending arrival of the São Paulo – an asbestos-laden Brazilian ship – to Izmir for dismantling has highlighted the unacceptable disconnect between technical documentation and workplace reality even at the eight Aliağa yards which are on the European List of approved ship recycling facilities. In a recent parliamentary response, the government admitted that between 2016 and 2021, 714 ships were dismantled which contained 242 tons of asbestos. This figure was preposterously low; the destination of the asbestos waste from these ships remains unknown. See: BU GEMİ BİR KARA TABUT [This Ship is a Black Coffin].
 

Confronting Spain’s Asbestos Legacy

Jun 24, 2021

The widespread use of asbestos in Spain during the 20th century has left a toxic legacy throughout the country including contamination in the Congress of Deputies, the meeting place of the Spanish Government. The lengthy article cited below described the extent of the asbestos challenge facing Spain and the growing support for a comprehensive law to address the multi-faceted issues involved in eradicating the hazard and supporting citizens who had been injured by toxic exposures at work and at home. Deadlines set by the EU were considered within the discussion of the country’s failures to take timely and effective action on the asbestos hazard. See: Amianto en el Congreso [Asbestos in Congress].
 

Asbestos Crimes

Jun 21, 2021

The Nature Protection Service (Seprona) of the Spanish Civil Guard identified a Madrid-based renovation company as the culprits dumping asbestos waste in the countryside in Guadalajara. The unlicensed company in Alcalá de Henares was carrying out asbestos removal work and illegally flytipping the debris created. Amongst its crimes was the failure to provide operatives with mandatory protective clothing and equipment. Proceedings are underway and a large fine is to be expected. See: Building company reported for dumping asbestos in Guadalajara countryside.
 

Asbestos Found at Site of Building Collapse

Jun 21, 2021

On June 17, 2021, staff from the Gwangju Environmental Movement Association and the Environmental Health and Citizens Center in the South Korean city of Gwangju, the 6th largest city in South Korea, held a press conference at the site of the collapse of a five-story building to announce that asbestos-cement fragments mixed with debris such as concrete had been collected that morning from the site. A week earlier, the Center had warned that asbestos was present at the site of the redevelopment area where the collapse of the building had occurred. See: 환경단체 “광주 철거건물 붕괴 현장에 발암물질 석면 방치돼” [Environmental group: “Carcinogenic asbestos left at the site of the collapse of the demolished building in Gwangju”].
 

Asbestos in Schools

Jun 21, 2021

On June 18, 2021, the Parliament of the Azores – an archipelago in the mid-Atlantic which is an autonomous region of Portugal – unanimously approved a resolution designating the hazard posed by asbestos in schools as an “absolute priority” issue which must be addressed. According to Deputy Joaquim Machado “the process of removing asbestos from schools is a matter of utmost importance, so full priority must be given to solving a problem that the previous Regional Government did not solve.” See: Parlamento dos Açores aprova prioridade para retirar amianto das escolas [Azores Parliament approves as a priority the removal of asbestos from schools].
 

Palermo Court Condemns Railway Company

Jun 21, 2021

A Palermo Court issued a victim’s verdict when it ruled that the railway company Rete Ferroviaria Italiana S.p.A. pay compensation to the family of an employee who died in 2008 at the age of 61 from mesothelioma caused by occupational exposures to asbestos. Commenting on the verdict, the family’s lawyers said: “We are satisfied with the ruling which confirmed what we have always argued in court, namely that during the 1990s, Ferrovie dello Stato S.p.A. (today Rete Ferroviaria Italiana SpA) not only did not protect its workers, but also put passengers and all those who lived in those areas in grave danger.” See: Morte da amianto. Ha lavorato alla stazione di Alcamo. Rfi dovrà risarcire la famiglia [Death from asbestos of worker employed at Alcamo station. RFI will have to compensate the family].
 

Asbestos Campaign in Northern Ireland

Jun 21, 2021

An asbestos awareness campaign has been launched by Northern Ireland’s Health and Safety Executive (HSENI) which will use social media messages, television and radio adverts, and outdoor advertisements throughout Northern Ireland to inform and educate tradespeople so that they: “Always Ask for the Asbestos Register,” particularly when working on buildings constructed before 2000. HSENI’s CEO Robert Kidd said: “Exposure to asbestos remains one of the biggest threats to construction employees in Northern Ireland. On average, one asbestos-related death occurs every two weeks in Northern Ireland.” See: HSENI launches new asbestos campaign.
 

US State Action on Asbestos

Jun 21, 2021

On June 15, 2021, the New Jersey Senate Environment and Energy Committee approved a bill to provide financial support to homeowners removing lead and asbestos from their homes; under the terms of the bill, homeowners can deduct up to $25,000 from gross income tax for lead paint removal, lead pipe removal and asbestos removal as long as they employ a state-licensed professional to undertake the work. According to Senator Christopher Bateman: “This bill will make it easier for homeowners to do the right thing and have trained professionals remediate toxins and carcinogens from their property ensuring a healthy environment for current and future residents of the property.” See: Asbestos and lead removal bill clears Senate Environment and Energy Committee.
 

Kazakh Asbestos Lobby: Business as Usual

Jun 18, 2021

On June 18, 2021, Kazakh asbestos vested interests from industry and government will upscale their efforts to stop a planned asbestos ban from being implemented by Ukraine during the 14th meeting of the Interstate Ukrainian-Kazakh Commission on Economic Cooperation. The asbestos lobby will be represented at the meeting by personnel from the Russian-Kazakh holding “Kusto group,” owners of the Ukraine monopoly on asbestos cement roofing production. See: Правительственная делегация Казахстана планирует пролоббировать интересы асбестового монополиста – СМИ [Kazakhstan Government delegation plans to lobby in the interest of asbestos monopolist – media].
 

Rally for Asbestos Victims

Jun 18, 2021

On June 16, 2021 at Tokyo’s Hibiya Open Air Theater, a rally was held by trade unionists and asbestos victims’ campaigners. Because of Covid restrictions, only 800 people were allowed to attend; these rallies generally attract thousands of attendees. Speakers at the event included representatives from all Japan’s political parties as well as from Zenkensoren – the National Federation of Construction Workers’ Unions) and Ban Asbestos Japan. Speakers addressed strategies for achieving justice for construction workers and ensuring that all asbestos-injured would benefit from a new government scheme. See: 建設アスベスト訴訟 全国総決起集会 日比谷野外音楽堂 National general rally at Hibiya Open Air Concert Hall on behalf of asbestos-injured construction workers].
 

Asbestos in Schools

Jun 18, 2021

On Clean Air Day 2021 (June 17), a new campaigning website was launched by the Joint Union Asbestos Committee (UK) to draw attention to the “disgraceful” hazard posed by asbestos contamination in most UK schools. Since 2001 at least 305 teaching and education professionals have died of mesothelioma, the signature cancer caused by asbestos exposure. There are no figures for the number of students affected by these exposures. Campaigners are calling for “urgent Government investment” to fund a phased removal of asbestos from all school buildings, starting with the most dangerous first. See: Joint Union Asbestos Committee (JUAC) launches new campaign website to remove asbestos in schools.
 

Victory for Petrochemical Workers

Jun 18, 2021

With the confirmation of the sentence handed down by the Bari Court of Appeal in case n.250/2021, 11 retired workers of an Italian petrochemical company – Petrochemical Enichem Agricoltura – received recognition of occupational asbestos exposures and, as a result, will be able to access social security benefits as per law Law no. 257 of 1992. To achieve this result has taken over 9 years of litigation. The claimants’ lawyer Angela Nobile said this was a “social and human victory.” See: Esposti all’amianto per decenni, 11 ex dipendenti dell'Enichem vedono riconosciuti i benefici contributivi: “Vittoria sociale e umana” [Exposed to asbestos for decades, 11 former employees of Enichem have their contribution benefits recognized: “Social and human victory”].
 

Madrid Metro’s Mounting Death Toll

Jun 18, 2021

The cancer death on June 12, 2021 of GJR, a 65-year old train driver from the Madrid Metro who retired from the company just three months ago after 42 years of service, brought to eight the number of workers from this company who have died from asbestos-related cancer. On June 11, 2021, his disease – he was diagnosed in November 2018 with laryngeal cancer – was recognized by the National Institute of Social Security as having been caused by occupational exposures to asbestos. Of the eight asbestos victims, four were maintenance workers and four were machinists. See: Un maquinista jubilado, el octavo muerto por amianto en el Metro [A retired machinist, the eighth killed by asbestos in the Metro].
 

Asbestos in Schools

Jun 18, 2021

The majority of UK schools (80+%) contain asbestos and asbestos-related deaths amongst teachers and support staff are all too common. The asbestos cancer death in 2016 of 68-year old Devon primary schoolteacher Sue Thomas spurred her daughter Lucie to raise awareness of this contamination and the hazard it posed not only to staff but also to students: “My dear mum’s diagnosis with mesothelioma was a big shock for everyone…We had no idea that teachers and pupils were so often at risk of asbestos in schools.” An online petition calling on the government to do more to eradicate the hazard, which has received more than 123,000 signatures, is being sent to the Department for Education. See: Campaign against asbestos exposure in schools.
 

Spain’s Asbestos Shame

Jun 16, 2021

A feature-length article published on June 13, 2021 detailed the painful legacy of Spain’s former asbestos industry. Adding insult to injury, Uralita – Spain’s one-time asbestos giant – has used every legal manoeuvre and financial machination to avoid paying court decreed compensation to its victims, people like Agustín Medina who died in 2015 of mesothelioma, having lived near the company’s factory in Cerdanyola del Vallès throughout his childhood. Letters written by now deceased claimants, reveal the huge scale of the losses endured – shaming indictments of the company and system which allowed such pain to go unpunished. See: Batalla judicial con Uralita: el clamor más allá de la muerte de las víctimas del amianto en Catalunya [Judicial battle with Uralita: outcry beyond death from asbestos victims in Catalonia].
 

Another Railway Death

Jun 16, 2021

This week an Italian court sentenced the Rete Ferroviaria Italiana Spa (Italian Railway Network/RFI) to pay damages exceeding €1 million to the family of a 57-year old railway maintenance mechanic who died of the signature asbestos cancer, mesothelioma. The deceased began work in 1984 at the large repair workshops in Vicenza and more latterly worked at the vehicle maintenance workshops in Padua; he was exposed to asbestos at both sites and the company was condemned for failing to adopt appropriate measures to safeguard the health of workers. See: Morti da amianto, maxi-risarcimento alla famiglia di un dipendente RFI [Deaths from asbestos, maxi-compensation to the family of an RFI employee].
 

Asbestos Hazard to Handymen

Jun 16, 2021

The risks to do-it-yourself repairmen and renovators posed by asbestos-containing products hidden within national infrastructures were flagged up in the lengthy article cited below. Since the Covid pandemic began, home improvement companies have reported record sales and a new generation of DIYers has embarked upon projects, with little or no knowledge of the invisible and potentially lethal dangers they might encounter. The first such danger discussed in this article is asbestos, which was said a leading US expert, used in up to 5,000 products such as building materials and roofing shingles. The predicted third wave of asbestos diseases has already started amongst DIYers. See: The hobby with hidden health risks.
 

Who’s Scared of Asbestos?

Jun 16, 2021

An alert published by the Canadian Government in a newspaper in a former asbestos mining town in Quebec warning of the health hazard posed by asbestos inhalation has been vehemently denounced as a scare tactic by Luc Berthold, the member of the Canadian Parliament representing the constituency of Mégantic-L'Érable who, in a letter to the Minister of Environment and Climate Change Jonathan Wilkinson said that: “Considering that asbestos is naturally present everywhere in the MRC des Appalaches, the objective of the Liberal government is more than questionable. The government is frightening citizens…” See: Publicité sur l’amiante : Luc Berthold dénonce une campagne de peur [Asbestos advertising: Luc Berthold denounces fear campaign].
 

Municipal Asbestos Eradication

Jun 16, 2021

Gwangju Metropolitan City – the sixth largest city in South Korea – has embarked upon an ambitious and progressive program to eradicate the asbestos hazard including support for the: demolition of asbestos-containing buildings, removal of asbestos products, compilation and updating of asbestos surveys, asbestos management programs in public buildings, etc. Businesses as well as private homeowners were eligible to apply for funds to finance eligible projects under a number of municipal schemes. See: 광주시 석면 슬레이트 철거·처리 지원 [Gwangju City asbestos slate removal and treatment support].
 

Upholding Asbestos Ban

Jun 14, 2021

A guilty verdict was handed down on June 9, 2021 by a São Paulo (SP) Court which indicted the producers (SAMA), sellers (Eternit SA) and transporters (Transportes Scatuzzi Ltd.) of chrysotile asbestos fiber from the Goiás chrysotile mine for exporting asbestos via ports in SP state including Santos, Guaruja and Cubatão. The defendants were ordered to pay damages exceeding Reais 5 million US ($989,000+). In 2017, the commercial exploitation of asbestos was banned by the Brazilian Supreme Court. To supersede this verdict, a law was passed by Goiás State to allow asbestos mining for export purposes only. This law is unconstitutional and is the subject of pending legal proceedings. See: Uma vitória a comemorar na luta em defesa das vítimas do amianto [A victory to celebrate in the fight to defend asbestos victims].
 

Asian Bank Bans Asbestos Use in Projects

Jun 14, 2021

A document circulated last week solidified the indication previously given that the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) would ban asbestos use in all its projects. On pages 77 & 78 of the AIIB’s Environmental and Social Framework under the heading: Environmental and Social Exclusion List, the text of point 9 excluded from eligibility projects involving: “Production of, trade in, or use of asbestos fibers, whether or not bonded.” In a footnote, it was explained that: “Projects involving disposal of asbestos are not prohibited, provided a suitable asbestos management plan is adopted for such disposal.” See: Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. Environmental and Social Framework.
 

Early Retirement for Exposed Workers

Jun 14, 2021

At a meeting held last week with members of the Catalan Association of Victims Affected by Asbestos, José Luis Escrivá – Spain’s Minister of Inclusion, Social Security and Migrations – promised to “immediately” promote measures which would facilitate access to early retirement for workers who had been occupationally exposed to asbestos, in line with regulations as laid out in Royal Decree 1698/2011 allowing early retirement for professional groups subjected to working conditions of an exceptionally painful, dangerous, toxic or unhealthy nature. See: Jubilación anticipada para trabajadores expuestos al amianto [Social Security undertakes to “immediately” promote early retirement for workers exposed to asbestos].
 

The Sao Paulo: Asbestos Hot Potato

Jun 14, 2021

A meeting of the Aliağa Municipal Council that took place last week continued discussions over the purchase by a Turkish company of an asbestos-contaminated warship formerly belonging to the Brazilian Navy. The vessel is scheduled to be scrapped at a dismantling yard in the Aliağa district of İzmir. The councillors considered a June 2021 proposal submitted to the Presidency of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey to investigate the damage ship-breaking had done to the sea, air, water, soil and ecosystem in the region where operations are carried out. See: CHP'den önerge: 600 ton asbest taşıyan ölüm gemisi ve Aliağa araştırılsın [Proposal from CHP: The death ship carrying 600 tons of asbestos and Aliağa (ship-breaking) should be investigated].
 

Victim’s Verdict in Bilbao

Jun 14, 2021

Two companies – Fundiciones Amboto SA, now defunct, and Foseco Española SA – were found guilty of causing the asbestos-related death of Vicente DAP by Bilbao’s Social Court number 8 last week. According to the Court, the defendants had failed “to comply with Health and Safety legislation for years in relation to the risks of asbestos.” After suffering from ill health for some while, in April 2018 the National Institute of Social Security (INSS) declared him as totally disabled due to asbestosis; he died a few months later. The family of the deceased was awarded €129,645 (US£ 157,000) in compensation. See: Condenan a dos empresas a indemnizar a la familia de un trabajador fallecido por asbestosis [Two companies are ordered to compensate the family of a worker who died of asbestosis].
 

Asbestos Hazard to Military Personnel

Jun 14, 2021

The presence of asbestos products throughout structures used by the Greek military is being addressed by programs such as one conducted under the supervision of the Military Association of the Regional Unit of Chios, a Greek island in the northern Aegean. Following asbestos audits and a Parliamentary intervention by Chios MP Andreas Michailidis, the Minister of National Defense Nikolaos Panagiotopoulos allocated funds to address the contamination and eliminate the asbestos hazard to service personnel. See: Ικανοποίηση για τους στρατιωτικούς της Χίου η απόφαση του ΥΠΕΘΑ σχετικά με τον αμίαντο στις Μονάδες του νησιού [Chios military pleased by decision of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs regarding asbestos (hazards) in unit (structures) on the island].
 

New Asbestos Criminal Trial

Jun 10, 2021

A historic criminal trial against a former asbestos billionaire began in Italy on June 9, 2021. The case is being heard by the Assize Court of the City of Novara in an auditorium at the University of Novara to accommodate the huge numbers of interested parties including relatives of the deceased. The defendant is facing charges of voluntary homicide with possible wilful misconduct over 392 deaths of workers and members of the public who died from their exposures to Eternit asbestos. See: Vittime dell’amianto, l’università di Novara diventa tribunale per il processo “Eternit bis” [Victims of asbestos, the University of Novara becomes a court for the "Eternit bis" trial].
 

Supreme Court Supports Asbestos Claims!

Jun 10, 2021

The French Supreme Court (Court of Cassation) on June 9, 2021 reversed a 2018 verdict by the Pau Court of Appeal and upheld claims for asbestos anxiety brought by former power station workers. The 89 successful claimants had been exposed to asbestos at the Arjuzanx power plant. Since the plant was closed in 1990, more than 120 cases brought by former workers who had contracted asbestos-related diseases have been recognized, 35 of the claimants have died. See: Amiante: la Cour de cassation reconnaît le droit à l’indemnisation d’ex-salariés d’EDF [Asbestos: the Court of Cassation recognizes the right to compensation for former EDF employees].
 

Asbestos Scheme for Construction Workers

Jun 10, 2021

The Japanese Government announced that a law had been passed at a plenary session of the upper house of the National Diet on June 9, 2021 under which a scheme to compensate asbestos-injured construction workers would be established without the need for victims or their families to take legal action. The government will pay between 5 and 13 million yen (~US$45,660-119,000) per victim and the scheme is due to become operational in 2022. Although self-employed workers are eligible for compensation under this scheme, construction workers who worked outdoors will not be able to bring a claim. See: 建設アスベスト給付金法が成立…1人あたり最大1300万円補償 [Construction asbestos benefit law passed ... Up to 13 million yen compensation per person].
 

Naming Names!

Jun 10, 2021

Campaigners in Turkey have named government ministries and municipalities whose negligence has contributed to the country’s ongoing scandal over asbestos exposures due to demolition or refurbishment of asbestos-containing buildings, dismantling of asbestos-laden ships and continued sale and use of illegal asbestos-containing products. The guilty parties included: the Ministries of: Health; Environment and Urbanization; Industry and Technology; Commerce; Labor and Social Security: Workplaces; National Education; Interior; Transport and Infrastructure. See: Bakanlıklar katil toz asbestle mücadelede sorumluluktan kaçıyor [Ministries evade responsibility in tackling killer powder asbestos].
 

Progress on Asbestos Reporting

Jun 10, 2021

A press release issued on June 7, 2021 on behalf of the Attorney General of the State of Massachusetts Maura Healey broke the news of an agreement reached by a coalition of 11 states and civil society groups with the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The EPA agreed to implement procedures instructing chemical companies to report their use and import of asbestos, in order to better assess the country’s capacity to protect citizens from toxic exposures. The Trump administration had challenged a December 2020 court order in support of the coalition’s position; Biden’s EPA agreed to progress the required reporting. See: Coalition Co-led by AG Healey Secures Federal Court Order and Settlement Requiring Asbestos Reporting to Protect Public Health.
 

Chrysotile Sales during the Pandemic

Jun 10, 2021

An upbeat article about the financial outlook of the sole producer of chrysotile asbestos fiber in Kazakhstan, Kostanay Minerals JSC, reported that the company had increased production and exports by, respectively, nearly 20% and 40% in the first quarter of 2021. Growth in usage from Asian countries and increases in the price of metal tiles and sheets were expected to create increased and sustained demand for chrysotile fiber and products. The company’s innovation in production techniques and the adoption of ecological and environmentally-friendly policies were extolled by Erbol Nurkhozhaev, Kostanay’s Chairman of the Board. See: Спрос на хризотил-асбест будет устойчивым в период коронакризиса [Chrysotile Asbestos Demand Will Be Sustainable During The Corona Crisis].
 

Dying for Justice in Japan

Jun 7, 2021

A commentary in the June 5, 2021 issue of the Japan Times reflected on the implications of the May 2021 Supreme Court (SC) judgment which confirmed the negligence of the Japanese Government and building materials manufacturers for, respectively, failing to address the asbestos hazard in a timely fashion and for failing to put warning labels on asbestos-containing products. Due to the tortuous legal process required to obtain this decision, 70% of the plaintiffs who brought the lawsuit had died of their asbestos injuries before the SC had ruled. The author condemned the mindset of government officials which was one of continued denial and obfuscation. See: The damage done by a lengthy appeals process.
 

Eternit Italy: Update

Jun 7, 2021

On June 9, 2021, another civil trial will begin over the behaviour of the Eternit asbestos company which has been convicted in multiple Italian jurisdictions of causing the deaths of workers and members of the public as well as environmental damage. The proceedings will take place at the Court of Assizes in Novara. The commune of Balzola in the Province of Alessandra is one of the civil parties in the trial referred to as Eternit bis. Commenting on the upcoming trial, Balzola’s Mayor Marco Torriano said: “It is a duty and important to stand alongside the victims also in this second trial for the environmental disaster caused by asbestos.” See: Balzola si costituisce parte civile al processo Eternit Bis [Balzola is a civil party in the Eternit Bis trial].
 

Protesting Local Shipbreaking Plan

Jun 7, 2021

On June 5 – World Environment Day – a rally was held in Democracy Square in the Aliağa district of the Turkish City of İzmir by civil society groups and political parties objecting to the impending arrival of the asbestos-laden São Paulo, a Brazilian warship due to be scrapped at a local shipbreaking yard. Participants carried banners with slogans such as “Aliağa is not the world’s garbage dump” and “We do not want to breathe asbestos” and issued a statement condemning “ecological massacres” in Aliağa and the deadly consequences for human beings as well as the environment. See: Çevre örgütlerinden asbestli gemi sökümüne tepki: Aliağa dünyanın çöplüğü değildir [Reaction from environmental organizations to asbestos ship dismantling: Aliağa is not the world's garbage dump].
 

Solar Panels to Replace Asbestos

Jun 7, 2021

Throughout Israel there are, according to government figures, 85 million square meters of asbestos-cement products, mostly roofing which is on homes, agricultural, industrial, military and public buildings. The toxic material was installed up to 60 years ago and presents an ongoing hazard to health. To address the situation, the Ministry of Environment allocated NIS11 million (US$3.4m) to replace the roofing with solar panels for those without the means to do so themselves. According to the Minister of Environmental Protection Gila Gamliel this is a “Win-Win” program “in which we replace carcinogenic asbestos with renewable energy…” See: NIS11 million to remove asbestos roofs in Israel.
 

Asbestos Anxiety Recognized in Lille

Jun 7, 2021

A May 27, 2021 decision by a court in Lille, France awarded compensation for “asbestos anxiety” to 30 former employees of the Normed shipyards which ceased trading in 1989. The Court found that the State had failed to take the steps necessary to protect the workforce from toxic occupational exposures to asbestos. A month earlier, the same court had also supported claims by 32 former Normed employees. Other similar cases are pending. According to retired Normed mechanic Jean-Claude Ghelein, who had worked for the company from 1971 to 1981 and was one of the successful claimants: “Today, 80% of my colleagues are sick or dead.” See [subscription site]: Amiante: l'État de nouveau condamné, l'espoir d'un vrai procès pénal ressurgit [Asbestos: State condemned again, hope of a real criminal trial resurfaces].
 

Toxic Baby Powder

Jun 7, 2021

In the aftermath of a decision by the U.S. Supreme Court last week which resulted in a $2.1 billion compensation award for ovarian cancer victims being upheld, questions were being asked in Turkey about whether the same toxic product implicated in the U.S. cancer case – Johnson & Johnson’s talc-based baby powder – was being used in Turkey. A study of baby powder conducted three years ago in Turkey found asbestos fibers in four products. According to this article, appropriate action was taken by the Government at that time. See: Bebek pudrasında ''asbest'' tehlikesi... Türkiye'de kullanılıyor mu? [The danger of “asbestos” in baby powder... Is it used in Turkey?].
 

Stopping Asbestos Imports

Jun 4, 2021

On June 4, 2021, the Australian Border Force (ABF) – a national agency tasked with protecting the country’s borders and trade – announced the launch of a new initiative to identify and stop the import of asbestos-containing building products into Australia. Despite the fact that the use of asbestos was banned in Australia more than a decade ago, some toxic products – including cement fibreboards and panels, pre-fabricated housing kits, parts, components and insulation goods – were, said the ABF, still getting into the country. The onus to ensure that imports were free of all types of asbestos was on importers who could incur substantial fines should they infringe customs regulations. See: ABF target asbestos in imported building products.
 

Government Acts on Asbestos Inequity!

Jun 4, 2021

On June 3, 2021, a bill to provide compensation to Japanese construction workers was passed in the House of Representatives. The legislation has been sent to the House of Councillors. It is expected that the new law will be enacted on June 11, 2021 and a national asbestos compensation scheme for construction workers will become operational on April 1, 2022. Under the terms of the draft bill, some asbestos-injured construction workers and bereaved relatives will be able to access up to  ¥ 13 million (US$118,100) from the government-funded scheme. Workers who were employed in the open air at construction sites will not be eligible. See: 建設アスベスト集団訴訟 救済法案が衆院で可決 [Construction workers asbestos relief bill passed by House of Representatives].
 

Mesothelioma Treatment Approved in EU

Jun 4, 2021

A regulatory decision by the European Commission will allow the use of a new immunotherapy option combining nivolumab and ipilimumab for the treatment of adults with malignant pleural mesothelioma in the 27 EU member states, as well as in Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway. The approval was informed by findings from the phase 3 CheckMate-743 trial which showed that treatment with the two drugs resulted in a 26% reduction in the risk of death compared with platinum-based, standard-of-care chemotherapy. See: Nivolumab/Ipilimumab Approved in Europe for Frontline Unresectable Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma.
 

New Treatment Option for Asbestos Cancer

Jun 4, 2021

Health Canada – a governmental agency tasked with protecting the health of Canadians – this week approved the use of a dual immunotherapy treatment to attack targeted malignant pleural mesothelioma tumors by using the body’s immune system. This protocol which uses nivolumab and ipilimumab was the first new systemic treatment for mesothelioma, the signature cancer associated with exposure to asbestos, for more than 15 years. See: Health Canada approves OPDIVO® (nivolumab) plus YERVOY® (ipilimumab) as the first and only first-line immunotherapy treatment for unresectable malignant pleural mesothelioma.
 

Toxic Talc Victory!

Jun 2, 2021

On June 1, 2021, the US Supreme Court rejected an appeal by the American pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson (J&J) of a $2.1 billion Missouri verdict for women who contracted ovarian cancer as a consequence of using J&J’s asbestos-contaminated talc-based baby powder. The size of the sum awarded was a reflection of the jury’s condemnation of the company’s “particularly reprehensible conduct” and the fact that although J&J had known of the potential harm of the toxic contamination it had “misrepresented the safety of these products for decades.” J&J is facing a further 21,800 toxic talc lawsuits. See: Supreme Court rejects Johnson & Johnson’s appeal of $2 billion penalty in baby powder cancer case.
 

Supreme Court Asbestos Ruling

Jun 2, 2021

Legal developments in Japan last month were reviewed in the article cited below. The author explained the background to a unified Supreme Court claimants’ verdict for asbestos-injured construction workers from Kanagawa, Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka, 70% of whom had died during the 13 years that the litigation had been proceeding through the courts. The Japanese Government and manufacturers of asbestos-containing building products were held liable for failing to prevent toxic exposures. Claims brought by workers who had been employed out of doors were rejected. See: 建設アスベスト集団訴訟、最高裁で原告勝訴も屋外労働は救済対象外 [Construction asbestos class proceedings, plaintiffs win in Supreme Court, but outdoor labor is not covered by relief].
 

Managing Naturally Occurring Asbestos

Jun 2, 2021

Italy’s National Institute for Insurance against Accidents at Work (Inail) has published a book entitled “Natural asbestos and work environments” which details issues related to the presence of naturally occurring asbestos (NOA) in Italy and protocols to safely manage NOA in relation to specific work activities such as the extraction and processing of ornamental stones and crushed stone, excavations for road and railway tunnels, agricultural work, and the removal and disposal/remediation of ballast etc. See: Inail: ambienti di lavoro e rischi dell’amianto di origine naturale [Inail: work environments and risks from asbestos of natural origin].
 

Act Now, Defendants Told

Jun 2, 2021

An editorial in The Asahi Shimbun, one of the four largest newspapers in Japan, called for a fully-funded compensation scheme for those who had been injured by workplace asbestos exposures in the construction industry in the aftermath of a landmark Supreme Court ruling against the Government and private corporations on May 17, 2021. Highlighting the ongoing failures of manufacturers to agree the terms of their contribution to the scheme, the editorial urged the defendants to cooperate in the process of allocating financial responsibility for the injuries sustained by the plaintiffs. See: EDITORIAL: Government must act quickly to compensate all asbestos victims.
 

Asbestos Alert

Jun 1, 2021

Highlighting the asbestos hazard in Vietnam, the author of the article cited below stated: “Asbestos is a toxic and dangerous mineral. Asbestos in all natural forms, including chrysotile asbestos, is a substance with proven carcinogenic activity in animals and humans…” Explaining the uses and hazards of this class 1 carcinogen, the author warned about the need for toxic exposures to be prevented: “When asbestos-containing material is damaged, activities around it should be kept to a minimum. Take all precautions to avoid damage to the asbestos material.” See: Cách an toàn khi chung sống với vật liệu chứa amiăng [How to be safe when living with asbestos-containing materials].
 

Trade Union Rally

Jun 1, 2021

Trade unionists from the Zenkyotokenchiku Labor Union and other labor groups took to the streets in Kyoto, Japan to show support for all construction workers injured by occupational asbestos exposures, including “outside workers” excluded from recent landmark court rulings upholding the responsibility of the Government and building materials manufacturers for deadly asbestos exposures. Spokesperson Yukio Hirayama, called for the establishment of a fund, financed by the government and the manufacturers, to compensate all asbestos-injured construction workers. See: すべての被害者救済へ運動強める 建設アスベスト訴訟最高裁判決受け、京建労が街頭訴え [Kyoto protest against aspects of supreme court ruling in asbestos case].
 

Sao Paulo Hot Potato!

Jun 1, 2021

The controversy over the dismantling in Turkey of the Sao Paulo, a former Brazilian warship, shows no signs of abating. İzmir Deputy Murat Bakan sought updates from officials representing four ministries regarding the current situation. The response he received from Transport and Infrastructure Minister Adil Karaismailoğlu was that “İzmir cannot be turned into a waste dump for the world.” According to the Ministry of Transport, the shipbreaker had not yet requested permission to bring the vessel to Turkey. See: CHP’li Bakan: Tehlikeli atıkları kentimizde istemiyoruz! [CHP Minister: We do not want hazardous waste in our city!]
 

Asbestos Deadline: 2023

Jun 1, 2021

According to The Waste and Contaminated Soil Bill, which is due to become national law shortly, all city councils in Spain will be required to conduct asbestos audits of buildings by 2023. In addition, it will be mandatory to also identify areas where soil has been contaminated with asbestos waste. Although asbestos use was banned in Spain in 2002, asbestos-containing products were widely used throughout the country and asbestos-cement building materials remains present in most municipalities. See: Todos contra el amianto [All against asbestos].
 

Bari’s Asbestos Legacy

Jun 1, 2021

The legacy of asbestos use in the Italian city of Bari included toxic workplace exposures: at Fibronit factories, at building sites and in shipyards, according to an interview with specialist lawyer Pierpaolo Petruzzelli. Petruzzelli explained that asbestos was used on ships in cables and circuits, for hot water pipes, on bulkheads and in oil tanks. In the 1970s and 1980s, many Italian seafarers worked for large American companies or companies flying the Liberian or Panamanian flag. Since 2008, Petruzzelli has obtained compensation for 400 asbestos injured maritime workers, mainly from Puglia. See: Amianto, la sfida di un avvocato barese: «Chiedo risarcimenti per chi si è ammalato sulle navi» [Asbestos, the challenge of a lawyer from Bari: “I seek compensation for those who got sick on ships”].
 

İzmir Mayor: Asbestos Alert

Jun 1, 2021

Responding to growing concerns, including high-profile warnings from leading medical authorities, over the impending arrival of a former Brazilian warship for dismantling in an Aliağa shipyard, the İzmir Metropolitan Mayor Tunç Soyer confirmed that the authorities were aware of the hazards posed by the presence of asbestos and other toxic waste onboard and that his office would study the implications of bringing the ship to Turkey. As the ship’s departure from Brazil is due to take place this month, the Mayor will have to take a stance on this issue sooner rather than later. See: Soyer: Asbest iddiası incelenmeli [Soyer: Asbestos claim needs to be examined].
 

Legal Victory in Cancer Case

May 28, 2021

In 2016, Deanna Trevarthen died from the signature asbestos cancer, mesothelioma aged 45. As a child, her electrician father had brought asbestos fibers into their home on his work clothes. Before her death, Ms Trevarthen’s compensation claim had been rejected by New Zealand’s Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) as she had not been occupationally exposed to asbestos. Last week, in a unanimous decision, the Court of Appeal ruled that non work-related mesothelioma such as Trevarthen's was a personal injury for which ACC cover was available. See: ACC loses court battle with asbestos cancer victim.
 

Screening for Asbestos-Related Diseases

May 28, 2021

On May 29 and 30 from 9 a.m. till 4 p.m., asbestos-exposed individuals from the South Korean City of Busan will undergo medical screening by staff from the Asbestos Environmental Health Center based at the Yangsan Pusan National University Hospital, as part of a municipal program to achieve earlier diagnoses of asbestos-related diseases. Alternatively, patients can make appointments to be seen on June 26 and 27. If any symptoms are found, patients will be referred for a follow-up examination at the Busan National University Hospital in Yangsan. See: 부산시, 석면피해 주민 건강영향조사 주말 검진 실시 [Health impact survey, Busan City conducts weekend check-ups for asbestos-damaged residents].
 

North Dakota Restricts Victims’ Rights

May 28, 2021

At a May 26, 2021 press conference in Fargo – the capital of North Dakota – Landis Larson, President of the North Dakota AFL-CIO, warned union members that new state legislation will create restrictions for potential asbestos claimants injured through toxic exposures at work. Landis urged that individuals at-risk of contracting these diseases get medical screening prior to July 15, in order to begin the process of seeking legal relief before the restrictive law House Bill 1207 comes into effect on August 1. Landis’ electrician father-in-law and his mother-in-law both died from asbestos cancer. See: Labor groups urge asbestos exposure screenings before ND law takes effect.
 

Mesothelioma Care in Scotland

May 28, 2021

With the appointment by the charity Mesothelioma UK of clinical nurse Lynne Hunter, people in the South East of Scotland diagnosed with asbestos-related cancer will have the support of a medical practitioner specialised in the care of asbestos cancer patients. The priority of Nurse Hunter will be the provision of support and advice to mesothelioma patients, their families, healthcare professionals and local patient support groups. Ms. Hunter qualified as a registered nurse in 2012 and also completed a clinical decision-making course at Napier University. See: New nurse to support asbestos-related cancer patients in Scotland.
 

Beards & Respirators: Toxic Combo

May 28, 2021

A campaign by New Zealand's primary workplace health and safety regulator, WorkSafe highlighted problems caused to construction and other male workers who were not clean-shaven. Five o’clock shadow and facial hair interfere with the effectiveness of respiratory protective equipment in preventing the inhalation of deadly microscopic particles such as asbestos fibers. According to WorkSafe technical specialist Al Threlfall: “When you wear a respirator you need to have a continuous seal on the face… People don’t realise that when they are doing a job [like cutting materials], they won’t be able to see those smaller particles, but they are still around when you have finished doing the cut, so the exposure isn’t over.” See: A close shave could help save your life, tradies told.
 

Outrage over Local Asbestos Hazard

May 28, 2021

Thousands of local people have petitioned the municipality and Provincial authorities in Andalusia, Spain to remove asbestos waste dumped in the Cruz de Marchenilla area, on the grounds of public health and safety. According to the petitioners, the 15,000 square meters of toxic waste, including approximately 340 tonnes of asbestos, have been a dangerous eyesore for more than a decade. Environmentalists are concerned that the fibers could contaminate the subsoil and leak into the aquifers. See: Más de 7000 firmas para retirar el amianto de Cruz de Marchenilla [More than 7000 signatures to remove asbestos from Cruz de Marchenilla].
 

Asbestos Ban: Update

May 26, 2021

Progress on efforts to ban asbestos in Ukraine was updated in the article cited below which detailed Parliamentary work on the adoption of bill No. 4142 to prohibit the use of asbestos-containing building materials such as roofing tiles, pipes, insulation and cement sheets. Although the asbestos materials were cost effective they were “significantly inferior to modern and safer products.” The author raised the question of what effect the ban would have on the asbestos products already incorporated within the built environment, arguing that: “Millions of residents do not have the opportunity to exchange asbestos tiles for modern expensive tiles.” See: В Украине могут запретить шифер [Slate may be banned in Ukraine].
 

Brazilian Claimant’s Ruling

May 26, 2021

The family of a worker who died from an occupationally contracted asbestos-related disease was awarded the sum of R$1.2 million (US$225,000) by a court in the Brazilian State of Minas Gerais. The deceased had routinely been exposed to asbestos at work from 1973 to 1974. He died last year (2020) from mesothelioma, the signature cancer associated with asbestos exposure. The defendant contested the claim, saying that the toxic exposure had not taken place at their premises. Judge Juliana Campos Ferro Lage disagreed and found that “the defendant was negligent, acting in a guilty way for failure to prevent and eliminate risks to the worker's health.” See: Família de ex-trabalhador exposto a amianto receberá R$ 1,2 milhão [Family of ex-worker exposed to asbestos will receive R$1.2 million].
 

Insurance Fiasco in NSW

May 26, 2021

An error by staff at Icare – the State Insurer in New South Wales, Australia – has resulted in $15 million dollars in underpayments to 1,100 claimants suffering from asbestos and other dust-related diseases such as silicosis. It has been suggested that the miscalculations go back as far as 2015 and that individuals had been underpaid, on average, by $13,000. The administrative failures came to light as a result of an investigation by The Herald newspaper, a year after revelations emerged of financial mismanagement and widespread underpayment. See: Icare documents reveal dead and dying workers underpaid almost $15 million.
 

Asbestos Litigation: Update

May 26, 2021

Reviewing developments in Japan which saw the Supreme Court on May 17 recognize the rights of asbestos-injured construction workers to be compensated by the Government and the manufacturers of asbestos-containing building materials and the Prime Minister apologize to the claimants for the Government’s negligence, the author of the article cited below called for an immediate recognition of the rights of asbestos-injured construction workers excluded from the new scheme and for the manufacturers of the toxic products to be obligated to contribute to the national compensation fund. See: 建設石綿の被害 一人も取り残さぬ救済制度を.[Construction asbestos damages. A relief system that leaves no one behind].
 

Calls to Enforce Asbestos Ban

May 26, 2021

Although asbestos was banned in Turkey in 2010, the sale of asbestos-containing products such as gloves and wire mats continues in markets and via online portals. Last week, the President of the Association of Asbestos Removal Experts Mehmet Şeyhmus Ensari called on the government and trade unions to take urgent steps to protect public and occupational health and identify toxic imports and ensure they were withdrawn from sale. He called on the Turkish trade unions to prioritize work to raise awareness of the asbestos hazard amongst their members. See: ASUD'dan asbest uyarısı: Şirketler satıyor, bakanlıklar göz yumuyor [Asbestos warning from ASUD: Companies sell, ministries condone].
 

Asbestos at the Royal Court Theatre

May 26, 2021

Allan Olsen had worked at the Royal Court Theatre in London as a carpenter in the late 1960s and early 1970s. He died in 2020 from the signature asbestos cancer, mesothelioma. His wife Sonia Olsen is bringing a claim against the English Stage Company – the registered legal entity that occupies the Royal Court Theatre. The case is complicated by the lack of information on the Employers’ Liability insurance policies that were in existence at that time. Mrs. Olsen’s solicitor Andrew Morgan is appealing for help from members of the public who might have information about the insurance policies. See: Lawyer in the news: Andrew Morgan, Fieldfisher.
 

Brazilian State Votes to Ban Asbestos

May 25, 2021

On May 20, 2021, Ceará became the latest Brazilian state to ban asbestos when the Legislative Assembly adopted Law 00228/19 proposed by Deputy Elmano Freitas; the approved bill awaits the Governor’s signature before becoming law. Welcoming the outcome of the vote, Freitas said: “There is no safe use of asbestos. The WHO has already proven that it is a dangerous mineral, capable of causing a series of diseases, such as cancer and that can even kill.” Other states with asbestos bans include: Santa Catarina, Rio de Janeiro, Rio Grande do Sul, Pernambuco, São Paulo, Mato Grosso do Sul, Minas Gerais and Amazonas. See: Projeto do dep. Elmano leva Assembleia Legislativa a proibir uso de amianto em todo Ceará [Project Elmano leads Legislative Assembly to ban asbestos use throughout Ceará].
 

Hazard of Drinking Asbestos-Laced Water

May 25, 2021

A series of articles in the May 22, 2021 issue of the French language Montreal Journal, a daily tabloid newspaper published in Quebec, highlighted the repercussions of the continued use of asbestos-cement pipes in the Province’s water delivery system. Research undertaken by the authors found that there were 1,000 km of asbestos-cement pipes in 200 cities in Quebec and that despite, global awareness of the human health hazard this posed, the federal government’s policy did not accept that ingesting asbestos could be inimical to human health. Although Quebec’s asbestos pipes had not been a government priority, Quebec’s Minister of the Environment Benoit Charette said tests of drinking water will begin in 2022. See: Votre verre d’eau, avec ou sans amiante? [Your glass of water, with or without asbestos?].
 

Action on Asbestos in Quebec’s Water

May 25, 2021

The lack of a Canadian standard for the asbestos content of drinking water had been adopted unthinkingly by the Province of Quebec. In a U-turn announced last week, a spokesperson for the Quebec Government said that it would begin a program of sampling in 2022 to ascertain the levels of asbestos fibers transmitted in the drinking water to millions of Quebeckers by its flow through asbestos-cement pipes. The authors of this text cited examples of work undertaken in Pakistan, France, South Africa, Malaysia, New Zealand and elsewhere to remediate toxic pipes See: Québec traquera l’amiante dans l’eau [Quebec will monitor asbestos in water].
 

Asbestos Use in Water Delivery Systems

May 25, 2021

A series of articles about Quebec’s asbestos legacy which appeared in the May 22, 2021 issue of the French language Montreal Journal, a daily tabloid newspaper published in Quebec, examined the repercussions of the continued use of asbestos-cement pipes in the Province’s water delivery system. Information and examples from Norway, the US, Canada, New Zealand and France were considered and findings of high asbestos fiber counts in drinking water were linked to elevated incidences of asbestos-caused cancers. See: Des inquiétudes ailleurs dans le monde [Concerns elsewhere in the world].
 

Japan’s Asbestos Legacy

May 25, 2021

An article which considered the seismic legal developments in May 2021 that overturned years’ of neglect of Japan’s asbestos victims reviewed data regarding national asbestos consumption and the incidence of asbestos-related disease and mortality over recent decades. The author estimated that to date, 10,000 people had been injured by occupational exposures to asbestos at construction sites, and that the final number of those affected could be in the tens of thousands. See: アスベスト被害訴訟(1)最高裁が判決で国の責任認める、補償制度新設へ [Asbestos Victim Proceedings (1) Supreme Court Recognizes National Responsibility in Judgment, To Establish Compensation System].
 

Asbestos Cancer Reduction Program

May 25, 2021

A new medical initiative in the north-west of Italy entitled "Feasibility study for lung cancer screening in subjects exposed to asbestos and tobacco" will examine 13,000 smokers who were exposed to asbestos in the Giuliana Isontina Health Authority, because of their elevated risk of contracting asbestos cancer. The purpose of this program is to achieve a reduction in lung cancer mortality by detecting at an early stage lung lesions using low-dose radiation computed tomography. The budget for the program is €10,000 (US$12,180). See: Screening per esposti ad amianto e fumatori [Screening for asbestos-exposed and smokers].
 

Asbestos Appeal to Madrid Superior Court

May 24, 2021

Defendants in the high-profile case brought over the asbestos death of famous TV personality José María Íñigo announced last week that they would be appealing the judgment of Social Court No. 2 of Madrid to the Madrid Superior Court. The defendants – the INSS and RTVE – argue, amongst other things, that the deceased did not qualify for Social Security compensation due to his failure to pay contributions to the scheme and that as a presenter, and not a technician, he could not have been exposed to asbestos in the TV studio. See: RTVE recurre la sentencia que admite que José María Íñigo murió por el amianto [RTVE appeals the sentence that found that José María Íñigo died of asbestos].
 

Unions Mobilize over Toxic Legacy

May 24, 2021

Trade unions on Sicily have denounced continued failures by the authorities to address the industrial and environmental legacy posed by the historic use of asbestos and the dumping of asbestos waste on the island. More than 100 people are dying every year from asbestos-related diseases on Sicily. Reacting to data in the latest issue of the National Mesothelioma Register, the CGIL, CISL and UIL unions have launched a campaign with the slogan “Sicilia Asianto Free!” (Asbestos Free Sicily). The unions are calling for the implementation of a regional asbestos plan to address the multi-faceted challenges posed by the island’s asbestos legacy. See: Amianto, ancora cento morti l’anno in Sicilia. Le proposte di Cgil, Cisl e Uil [Asbestos, one hundred more deaths a year in Sicily. The proposals of CGIL, CISL and UIL].
 

Possible Exposure of Two Oil Workers

May 24, 2021

The Norwegian watchdog – the Petroleum Safety Authority – has served a “notice of an order” on the North Sea Operator Equinor after two of its employees were “probably exposed to carcinogenic asbestos fibres” while working on the Norwegian energy giant’s North Sea facilities in the Veslefrikk and Gullfaks fields. The first incident happened in May 2020 and resulted from the replacement of brake bands containing asbestos on anchor winches while the second occurred in January 2021 and involved the removal of exhaust channels for an emergency generator on the A platform. No respirators had been used by the operators involved. See: North Sea operator reprimanded after workers ‘probably’ exposed to asbestos.
 

Asbestos in Schools

May 24, 2021

In answer to a question from Belgian Deputy André Antoine to Minister Frédéric Daerden about asbestos contamination of schools, the Minister reassured teachers, staff, students and parents that: “The issue of asbestos in our schools is still being followed seriously. All ‘asbestos’ inventories were carried out between 2008 and 2009.” According to the Minister, the situation was under control and urgent work was being undertaken as a matter of priority. After the investigations were completed, the Government would be better placed to clarify the situation. See: Amiante dans nos écoles: la situation est sous contrôle, mais les moyens restent largement insuffisants, selon le ministre Daerden [Asbestos in our schools: the situation is under control, but the means remain largely insufficient, according to Minister Daerden].
 

Legal Support for AsbestosVictims

May 24, 2021

One of the legal teams – “the Osaka Defense Team” –which represented plaintiffs whose claims for asbestos exposures against the Japanese Government and building material manufacturers were recognized on May 17, 2021 by the Supreme Court, held telephone consultation sessions last week to provide information to potential litigants from Osaka and elsewhere concerned about historic occupational asbestos exposures. Information was provided by the lawyers on the subject of the asbestos health hazard and compensation procedures. See: アスベストによる健康被害 無料の電話相談 [Health damage caused by asbestos. Free telephone consultation].
 

Getafe City Asbestos Action Plan

May 24, 2021

The sum of €30,000 has been allocated by the Governing Board of the Getafe City Council for an expert report on the geographical location, the names of sites, and the cost of remediation, of buildings which contain asbestos. The analysts were instructed to focus on municipal buildings and structures in the oldest industrial areas of the city. According to Councillor for Sustainability Ángel Muñoz: “we want to know in depth what is the level of asbestos that exists in the municipality… Once we have the results of the study, we will be able to assess the actions to be carried out and the investment necessary for it.” See: (GETAFE) Aprobado un estudio para identificar amianto en edificios municipales y áreas industriales antiguas [(GETAFE) Approval of a study to identify asbestos in municipal buildings and old industrial areas].
 

Update: Progress on Asbestos Ban

May 21, 2021

The Deputy Director of the Department of Urban Development and Architecture of the Kiev City State Administration Yuriy Tatsiy announced on Facebook that the use of asbestos-containing building materials in Ukraine would be banned under measures currently being progressed in bill No. 4142 by the Verkhovna Rada [Ukraine Legislature]. In 2007, the use of all types of asbestos fibers and asbestos-containing products was outlawed by the Ministry of Health; that ban was over-turned after pressure was brought to bear by asbestos vested interests. See: Использование асбеста при строительстве в Украине будет запрещено [The use of asbestos in construction in Ukraine will be prohibited].
 

Asbestos in Schools

May 21, 2021

On May 19, 2021, Portugal’s Minister for Territorial Cohesion told a parliamentary committee on Economy, Innovation, Public Works and Housing that plans were on track to complete the national eradication of asbestos from schools before the beginning of the next school year. The Minister reported that 94% of the 487 applications for asbestos removal work from schools had been approved. Total investment in the Asbestos Removal Program in Schools was €62 million (US$75.6m). See: Escolas sem amianto antes do próximo ano letivo [Asbestos-free schools before the next school year].
 

Update: Asbestos Claims Settlement

May 21, 2021

Following the massive coverage of a May 17, 2021 Supreme Court ruling in Japan supporting claims by asbestos-injured construction workers against the Government and building materials manufacturers, more details are emerging. Although the judgment by Presiding Justice Takuya Miyama found that the state’s liability dated from 1975 and included damage sustained by freelance and self-employed workers, claims from construction industry workers who had worked outside – such as roofers – were rejected. A bill to establish a relief system for an estimated 10,000 victims nationwide will be submitted by the Government during the current Diet session. See: Asbestos victims win relief funds after decade-long court battle.
 

Asbestos Remediation of Paradise

May 21, 2021

The failure of the Government of the Canary Islands to undertake work to identify the location of asbestos contamination in Tenerife has recently been denounced by  Carmen Falcón, Secretary of Occupational Health of the Workers' Commission as well as island coordinator of Nueva Canarias Valentín Correa who requested the Cabildo of Tenerife (the Island Council of Tenerife) to “get down to work” on the compilation of an asbestos audit and remediation plan to protect public and occupational health. The EU has set a deadline of 2032 for asbestos eradication of member states. See: Tenerife carece de un censo de inmuebles con amianto [Tenerife lacks a census of properties with asbestos].
 

New Guidance on Asbestos in Soil

May 21, 2021

On May 17, 2021, Western Australia’s Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety released an information sheet providing guidance on how to deal with soils at a workplace which were contaminated with asbestos-containing material (ACM). The guidance contained information about the following subjects: assessing the likelihood of exposure; mandatory inspection, reporting, removal, soil sampling, signage and compliance protocols; relevant legislation such as the Occupational Safety and Health Regulations 1996. See: WA: guidance released on asbestos contaminated soil.
 

Lawsuit Targeting Asbestos Failures at EPA

May 21, 2021

On May 18, 2021, a coalition of US health and environmental groups filed a complaint against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) over its failure to adequately consider the legacy risks posed by asbestos incorporated within the American infrastructure as mandated by the Toxic Substances Control Act. The complainants were seeking an order from a San Francisco federal court instructing the EPA to take steps to protect public health from the asbestos hazard. Acting on behalf of the plaintiffs, lawyer Robert Sussman accepted that President Biden's administration had “inherited the incomplete asbestos evaluation” from the Trump administration but was “hopeful” of a more productive collaboration with Biden’s EPA. See: Health groups sue to make EPA evaluate ‘legacy’ asbestos risk.
 

Supreme Court Backs Asbestos Victims

May 18, 2021

On May 17, 2021, Japan’s Supreme Court issued a plaintiff’s verdict in its first unified asbestos judgment. The ruling found for the claimants in class action lawsuits brought by asbestos-injured construction workers or family members at district courts in in Tokyo, Yokohama, Osaka and Kyoto. The Supreme Court confirmed that the Government of Japan had been negligent in delaying action on the asbestos hazard and that manufacturers of building products were also liable for damage done by occupational exposure to their asbestos-containing products. On May 18, 2021, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga planned to meet the plaintiffs to issue an apology on behalf of the Government for their injuries. See: Japan's top court holds state liable for asbestos diseases in workers.
 

Factory Worker, Campaigner

May 18, 2021

An article about the work of retired asbestos factory worker Jean-François Borde detailed his growing knowledge that hazardous conditions at the factory where he and his colleagues were employed by the Eternit company in the city of Vitry-en-Charollais, Eastern France were the cause of so many premature deaths and ill health amongst the workforce. With colleagues, in 1997 Borde formed an association – CAPER – to fight for the rights of the victims; the same year, they secured a landmark victory at the Dijon Court of Appeal which condemned Eternit for inexcusable misconduct. See: Jean-François Borde, une vie de combat contre l’amiante [Jean-François Borde, a life of combat against asbestos].
 

Asbestos Hazard at Apartment Complex

May 18, 2021

On May 14, 2021, at a Seoul press conference, representatives of the Incheon Environmental Movement Association announced that ornamental stones used for landscaping an apartment complex in Songdo International City, Incheon contained tremolite asbestos. Environmental groups accused the construction company of the complex of violating the Asbestos Safety Management Act; a complaint has been filed with the police denouncing the company. See: 환경단체, '석면 검출' 인천 송도 아파트 건설사 대표 고발 [Environmental group accuses representative of construction company in Songdo, Incheon over ‘detection of asbestos’].
 

Toxic Urban Transformation

May 18, 2021

According to asbestos experts, the use of fake asbestos reports was rife amongst developers engaged in urban transformation projects in Turkey. These phony certificates were submitted prior to or even after the demolition of old buildings, most of which contained asbestos. Inspectors would sign off on the projects without ever seeing the building site or inspecting the structures earmarked for demolition. These dangerous practices were widespread and could be one explanation for the increase in the cancer incidence in every region in Turkey, said one technical expert. See: Kentsel dönüşüm kapsamında yıkılan binalar için sahte asbest raporları hazırlanıyor [Fake asbestos reports are prepared for buildings destroyed during urban transformation].
 

Guidance for Asbestos Analysts

May 18, 2021

This month (May 2021) the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) published the revised Asbestos: The analysts’ guide HSG248 (2nd Edition) online. For the first time, the subject of soil sampling for asbestos was included. The guidance, which is the authoritative source of asbestos analytical procedures within Great Britain, was designed to enable analysts to comply with their legal obligations. Material in the publication has been updated in line with new analytical procedures and methodology and provides “clarification on technical and personal safety issues, especially in relation to sampling and 4-stage clearances.” See: Asbestos: The analysts’ guide.
 

James Hardie Class Action

May 18, 2021

One of the largest class action trials in New Zealand is due to start on May 17, 2021 at the Auckland High Court. The trial involves claims valued at around $220 million from 1000 homeowners; the defendant James Hardie (JH) sold Harditex cladding which was, say the plaintiffs, defective. Prior to 1988, a JH subsidiary manufactured asbestos building products in New Zealand. Although, the company has escaped the bulk of asbestos claims as most have been covered by the state-run Accident Compensation Corporation, it “may be subject to potential liability if any of these claims are found not to be covered by the legislation and are later brought against us, and consequently, our financial position…could be materially adversely affected.” See: James Hardie: The leaks, the asbestos, the court action.
 

Toxic Legacy of Asbestos Mining

May 17, 2021

A new paper by Korean researchers – part of a Special Issue on Asbestos and Cancers: Exposure from Neighboring Factories and Mines, Contaminated Soil and Slate Roofs of the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health – reported that people living in close proximity to some abandoned asbestos mines had experienced health damage from toxic exposures to naturally occurring asbestos. The researchers recommended that the asbestos contamination be remediated. See: Activity-Based Exposure Levels and Cancer Risk Assessment Due to Naturally Occurring Asbestos for the Residents Near Abandoned Asbestos Mines in South Korea.
 

Supreme Court Asbestos Ruling

May 17, 2021

On May 17, 2021, the Japan Supreme Court will issue its ruling explaining the verdict handed down previously which had found the Japanese Government negligent for asbestos injuries sustained by construction workers. This is the first such ruling by the Supreme Court over the asbestos health hazard posed by the use of toxic construction material; the contents of the ruling could affect the level of compensation awards to plaintiffs. Since 2006, when asbestos use in building materials was banned in Japan, 1,200 workers and bereaved families have filed 33 lawsuits for asbestos damages. See: 建設石綿被害、賠償認める理由は? 最高裁が17日判決 [What is the reason for accepting compensation for construction asbestos damage? Supreme Court ruling on the 17th].
 

Review of Asbestos Victim Relief Schemes

May 17, 2021

A paper, published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health last week, authored by by researchers from Korea, Japan and Belgium, examined asbestos victim relief schemes from six countries. An analysis of data from South Korea, France, Japan, Belgium, the UK and the Netherlands revealed that: the highest number of recognized claims and amounts awarded were made under the French system; there was a general failure by national schemes to recognize some asbestos-related diseases; the failure to guarantee payment of medical treatment expenses was problematic; the issue of non-occupational asbestos exposure assessment needed to be addressed. See: Comparison of Asbestos Victim Relief Available Outside of Conventional Occupational Compensation Schemes.
 

Nearly All Asbestos Exported!

May 17, 2021

Data released in an article on May 13, 2021, revealed that due to a collapse in the domestic chrysotile (white) asbestos market, nearly all the asbestos mined and processed in Kazakhstan by Kostanay Minerals JSC, the country’s sole asbestos fiber producer, is being exported; in other words, whilst 220,000 tonnes (t) of asbestos is exported annually, only 7,000-8,000t are used at home. In its efforts to diversify, the asbestos company is looking at the use of asbestos in fertilizers. See: Житикаринское градообразующее предприятие на волне ковидного кризиса показало рост по всем показателям [In the wake of the crisis, the Zhitikarinskoye city-forming enterprise showed growth in all respects].
 

Asbestos Disposal: Update

May 17, 2021

Disposing of asbestos and asbestos-containing debris is a complicated matter in the Italian Province of Tuscany. An helpful information sheet explains who householders should contact and how the disposal of asbestos waste can be legally accomplished. Answers to the following questions are provided: when is it legal for citizens to remove small amounts of asbestos-cement material; when should a specialist contractor be contacted; what agency is responsible for monitoring the presence of deteriorating ac material. While different areas in Tuscany have different contact points and procedures, the dumping of asbestos waste anywhere in the Province is a serious crime. See: Amianto: chi fa cosa in Toscana [Asbestos: who does what in Tuscany].
 

No to the Sao Paulo!

May 17, 2021

Opposition continues to grow in Turkey over plans to bring a former Brazilian warship to Izmir for dismantling. According to Turkish experts, the import of this asbestos-laden ship will have serious human, environmental and ecological repercussions. The ship was bought at auction by Cormack Marítima, operating in Rio de Janeiro, on behalf of SÖK Shipping; it will be sent to Aliağa for dismantling in June 2021. According to Izmir Medical Chamber President Dr. Lütfi Çamlı ship dismantling creates “a major source of environmental pollution for Aliağa and İzmir, and poses a great threat to the health of the people living and working in the vicinity of these facilities.” See: Asbestli gemi direnişi [Asbestos ship resistance].
 

Artificial Intelligence & Asbestos Removal

May 13, 2021

A spokesman for a new commercial enterprise in Barcelona announced the launch of Detecta software, which uses artificial intelligence to identify the presence of asbestos in roofing. Aerial images are scanned and processed by neural networks which create interactive maps to inform councils about which sites are affected in order to accelerate the removal of polluted roofs from the country’s infrastructure. EU guidelines set a 2028 deadline for the removal of asbestos from the built environment. See: Creen un sistema que identifica la presència d’amiant a les teulades a través d’intel·ligència artificial [Creation of system to identify the presence of asbestos on roofs using artificial intelligence].
 

Illegal Foundations for Luxury Complex

May 13, 2021

This week, police in the Southern Italian Province of Caserta announced that a building site for luxury apartments had been seized due to the presence of asbestos waste in the structure’s foundation. The discovery led the State Police to seize the property on the orders of the of the Public Prosecutor of Santa Maria Capua Vetere who had authorized sophisticated and technical investigations, including core drilling and analyses carried out through georadar which established the presence of asbestos and asbestos-cement waste in the foundations. See: Amianto interrato nelle fondamenta, sequestrato un complesso di appartamenti di lusso a Marcianise [Asbestos buried in the foundations, a luxury apartment complex in Marcianise seized].
 

Asbestos: Environmental Hazard

May 13, 2021

A paper entitled Environmental exposure to asbestos and the risk of lung cancer: a systematic review and meta-analysis, published in the current issue of the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, highlighted the deadly consequences of living near sites where asbestos was mined or processed. The systematic and meta-analysis conducted by the Korean researchers revealed that: “A significant increase in the risk of lung cancer was found for neighbourhood exposure ... our findings imply that living near the source of asbestos increases the risk of lung cancer.” The authors called for more epidemiological studies on environmental asbestos exposures and lung cancer to be carried out. See: Environmental exposure to asbestos and the risk of lung cancer: a systematic review and meta-analysis.
 

Asbestos at School

May 13, 2021

The teaching chapter of the Spanish trade union CGT has denounced to the local authorities asbestos contamination of the Las Salinas High School in San Fernando, Cádiz. The toxic material, which is in deteriorating condition, is in asbestos-cement guttering and downpipes and possibly other products. The union warned that the situation posed a danger not only for students and staff but also to people who live or visit the surrounding area. Asbestos was banned in Spain in 2002. See: Denuncian ante la Inspección de Trabajo y Educación la presencia de amianto en el IES Las Salinas [Presence of asbestos at IES Las Salinas denounced before the Labor and Education Inspectorate].
 

Furore Grows over Asbestos Import

May 13, 2021

CHP İzmir Deputy Kamil Okyay Sındır, from the Turkish opposition party, has been highly vocal about the toxic waste being dumped in his constituency. Sındır criticized plans to bring a former Brazilian warship to Aliağa for dismantling saying it will turn İzmir into a toxic waste center. In a recent speech, the Deputy said: “Our environment, our nature, and the future of the people of Izmir are being destroyed without care… Allowing the dismantling of this ship … [opens] the door to an ecological disaster. We will not let the ship Sao Paulo turn our Aliağa into the world’s garbage dump.” See: CHP'li Sındır: İzmir zehirleniyor ama iktidarın umurunda değil! [CHP Sındır: İzmir is poisoned, but the government does not care!]
 

Toxic Talc Litigation

May 13, 2021

The fallout from US litigation over exposures to toxic talc continues with ongoing disputes between the bankrupt company Cyprus Mines Corporation – owner of a former talc mining operation in Cyprus – and its insurers, who are currently facing 436 personal injury lawsuits from claimants who contracted asbestos-related diseases due to use of products containing the talc. In a Delaware Court, lawyers representing the insurers are challenging the appointment of Roger Frankel to represent the interests of future tort claimants. The insurers’ preferred candidate for this role is either Delaware state judge Peggy Ableman or retired California bankruptcy judge Randall Newsome. See: Bankrupt Cyprus Mines saga continues.
 

Victim Twice Over!

May 12, 2021

As if an asbestos cancer diagnosis was not enough to cope with, Nurse Leonie Metcalfe was told by the New Zealand authorities that it was her responsibility to supply information about where she might have been exposed to asbestos over the last 40 years before she would be awarded compensation. After a lot of searching and anxiety, she provided evidence about asbestos pipe lagging that had been on pipes at Wairoa Hospital and asbestos material disturbed during renovations at Waikato Hospital, institutions at which she had been employed. Ms. Metcalfe has condemned the policy mandating that dying patients provide evidence from decades past to become eligible for the financial support they need. See: The breath of death — asbestos cancer mesothelioma and the fight for compensation.
 

A Safer Water Delivery System

May 12, 2021

Half a million euros has been allocated to remove asbestos water pipes and replace them with a modern network in the city of Agios Nikolaos and the settlement of Krousta on the Greek island of Crete. Under the terms of the contract signed, the work will be accomplished within the next 18 months. The impetus for this project was the constant breaks in the aging pipes and the resulting water leaks and the public as well as occupational health risks posed by the presence of asbestos in the pipe network. See: Νέο σύγχρονο δίκτυο ύδρευσης στην πόλη του Αγίου Νικολάου-αντικαθίστανται οι παλιοί σωλήνες αμίαντου [New modern water supply network in the city of Agios Nikolaos - the old asbestos pipes are replaced].
 

International Award for Researcher

May 12, 2021

At the end of the 15th meeting of the International Mesothelioma Interest Group, which was held online this year due to the pandemic, the prestigious Wagner Award was presented to Professor Anna Nowak from the National Centre for Asbestos-Related Diseases in Perth, Australia. Commenting on this recognition, Professor Nowak said: “I’m incredibly grateful and humbled to have been awarded the Wagner Medal – so many people I respect and admire have been past winners of this prize…What I’m most excited about is seeing the combination of immunotherapy and chemotherapy move into completed clinical trials and international clinical trials. The hope is that this combination will offer a better treatment than chemotherapy on its own.” See: World-leading asbestos diseases researcher awarded international prize.
 

Asbestos Justice on Hold

May 10, 2021

On May 4, 2021, a lawyer in the U.S. Virgin Islands (V.I.) Russell Pate filed a petition seeking a writ of mandamus to compel the V.I. Superior Court to assign hundreds of cases orphaned – including asbestos cases – when the presiding judge, Superior Court Judge Robert Molloy, was promoted to a U.S. District Court. The suspended cases include those brought by 46 former oil refinery workers, 80% percent of whom have now died, who sought damages for alleged silica dust and asbestos exposures. About 1,000 asbestos-related lawsuits have been resolved in the V.I. courts, but 400 remain pending. See: Attorney Seeks Writ of Mandamus to Move Cases Forward.
 

Asbestos Eradication Program

May 12, 2021

Work commissioned by the Province of Ragua to collect and dispose of asbestos-containing waste which had been dumped in the countryside of twelve Italian towns was carried out between the end of April and the first week of May 2021 as per a memorandum of understanding that had been signed by the civic authorities. The operatives contracted for this project collected 8,000 kilograms of toxic waste which will be transferred to an authorized landfill. Some removal work will be continuing in the coming weeks. See: Raccolte Otto Tonnellate di Amianto [Collected Eight Tons of Asbestos].
 

Asbestos: An Unfinished Story

May 12, 2021

The prevalence of asbestos throughout the Spanish infrastructure, dumped in rural areas, contained in household appliances and on top of domestic and commercial properties in deteriorating roofing, remains a serious threat to the lives of Spanish citizens. Scientists predict that asbestos deaths in Spain may reach 130,000 by 2050. A third of the homes in the Province of Segovia (about 40,000) are believed to contain asbestos. To address the multifaceted challenges of the national asbestos legacy, campaigners are calling on the government to pass a National Asbestos Law. See: La epidemia silenciosa del amianto sigue activa en Segovia [The silent epidemic of asbestos is still active in Segovia].
 

Toxic Dust from Urban Development

May 10, 2021

Tests conducted in Istanbul by personnel from the Association of Asbestos Removal Specialists have revealed airborne asbestos fibers in the Gaziosmanpaşa, Esenyurt and Bakırköy areas. Asbestos expert Kenan Yıldı is calling on all the city’s districts to reveal findings from similar tests. Commenting on the findings Yıldı said: “Asbestos and harmful dusts are spread everywhere since adequate measures are not taken in urban transformation [developments]. It seems that these dusts are scattered throughout most of the city. The substances we detect can cause very serious breathing problems.” See: Uzmanlar isim isim saydı: İşte İstanbul'un zehir saçan ilçeleri [Naming and shaming: the poisoned districts of Istanbul].
 

Finally, a Government Asbestos Scheme

May 10, 2021

Within days of the Australian Government announcing that it would set up a fund for people who had contracted asbestos cancer as a result of living in a house insulated with “Mr Fluffy” asbestos insulation, James Wallner – the man who had been at the forefront of the campaign for such a scheme – died aged 54 from mesothelioma (see: Asbestos campaigner James Wallner dies in Canberra after winning government aid for Mr Fluffy victims). The Federal government has agreed to allocate $8 million for a support scheme for victims of the asbestos insulation used in Canberra homes up until the 1970s. See: Federal government announces $8m assistance scheme for Mr Fluffy asbestos victims, ACT government set to match it.
 

2023 Deadline for Asbestos Audits

May 10, 2021

The Spanish Minister for the Ecological Transition and Demographic Challenge Teresa Ribera has committed her Government to implementing a 2023 deadline for municipalities to mandate compulsory asbestos audits of the built environment as well as a program to eliminate the asbestos contamination present in buildings. The Government’s intention is stated in the waste and contaminated soil bill that the Council of Ministers is due to approve in the coming weeks. See: Los ayuntamientos tendrán antes de 2023 un censo de edificios con amianto y un plan para eliminarlo [Municipalities will have a census of buildings with asbestos and a plan to eliminate it by 2023].
 

Protect Yourself from Asbestos!

May 10, 2021

Considering the failures of local, regional and central governments in Turkey to protect citizens from asbestos exposures caused by urban renewal, building demolitions, earthquakes and toxic shipbreaking, civil society leaders are warning that people must protect themselves and their families from the deadly fibers. Commenting on the gravity of the situation Mehmet Ensari, of the Association of Asbestos Removal Specialists said: “Regretfully, the ministries and municipalities are watching you breathe asbestos, and despite all our calls for cooperation, we have not received a positive response except from Mersin/Yenişehir municipality…” See: Bakanlıklar ve belediyeler asbest solumanızı seyrediyor [“Ministries and municipalities watching you breathe asbestos”].
 

Asbestos Eradication Program on Target

May 10, 2021

The Council of the Spanish city of Herrera in the Province of Seville is engaged in a program to eliminate asbestos contamination of its water delivery and sanitation networks. According to Mayor Jorge Muriel, in the last decade 15 kilometers of asbestos-cement pipes have been removed from the water network; the municipality is aiming to have completed 95% of the asbestos eradication of the network within the next two years. Following the precautionary principle and on the grounds of public health, plans are being made to also remove asbestos from the subsoil. See: Herrera elimina el amianto de su red de agua potable y saneamiento [Herrera removes asbestos from its drinking water and sanitation network].
 

Asbestos Eradication Program

May 10, 2021

On May 7, 2021, the Busan Environment Corporation in the South Korean City of Busan held a ceremony to herald the start of a project to eradicate asbestos roofing present in the municipality. The first action of the decontamination program was the removal of toxic roofing containing up to 15% asbestos from 12 buildings in Maji Village. Commenting on this initiative, Chairman of the Corporation Bae Kwang-hyo said: “Starting with Maji Village, the Corporation is planning to expand the asbestos roof improvement pilot village development project…. Removing and improving the old asbestos roofing is best for citizens to live in a safer and more comfortable environment.” See: 부산환경공단 "석면 슬레이트 없는 마을 만든다" [Busan Environment Corporation “Making a village free of asbestos roofing tiles”].
 

Baby Powder Litigation

May 6, 2021

The debate about harm caused by the use of Johnson and Johnson’s iconic talc-based baby powder does not seem to lessen as yet more plaintiffs instigate lawsuits against the US pharmaceutical company for failing to protect them from toxic exposures despite knowledge about the harm caused by impurities in its products. According to corporate documents, J&J knew that the talc it was using could contain asbestos fibers and chose not to warn consumers. Despite the existence of a safer alternative based on cornstarch, J&J continued to sell the toxic powder until 2020 when it was withdrawn from markets in North America but remained on sale elsewhere. See: The Talc Powder Controversy: Why It Could Matter to Women.
 

Asbestos Eradication Program

May 6, 2021

On May 5, 2021, the Basque Association of Asbestos Victims (ASVIAMIE) presented proposals to the General Council of Gipuzkoa for the establishment of a program to implement mandatory asbestos audits as a first stage in a municipal plan to eradicate the asbestos hazard and bring the City into compliance with Resolution 2012/2065 of the European Parliament. According to ASVIAMIE in 2020 there were 33 deaths from asbestos-related diseases in Gipuzkoa; so far in 2021, there have been 8. See: Asviamie se concentrará en Juntas para urgir un inventario y planificar la erradicación del amianto en Gipuzkoa [Asviamie will focus on Boards to urge an inventory and plan for the eradication of asbestos in Gipuzkoa].
 

Toxic Eyesore or Historical Relic?

May 6, 2021

Aragonese artist Miguel Ángel Arrudi has led protests over plans in Andorra to demolish a redundant power plant containing asbestos and other toxic material. The artist and his supporters believe that the chimney and 3 cooling towers of the Andorran Thermal Power Plant are assets of cultural interest and, as such, should not be demolished. The proposal to preserve the 1974 structures has been rejected by local authorities who began preliminary work on February 25, 2021 with the dismantling of storage areas and boiler mills. In May, work will be carried out in boiler and turbine areas. See: La DGA rechaza declarar BIC las torres de Andorra por tener amianto y superar su vida útil [The DGA refuses to declare Andorran (cooling) towers BIC (assets of cultural interest) because they have exceeded their useful life and contain asbestos].
 

Cancer Research Update: Hephestin

May 6, 2021

On the eve of the International Day for Asbestos Victims, Violetta Borelli – a researcher from the University of Trieste – provided a progress update to delegates attending a conference in Monfalcone, Italy. With sponsorship from the League Against Caner and the City of Monfalcone, scientists had made a step forward with the identification of a variant of hephestin, a protein responsible for the absorption of iron in the intestine, which was more expressed by people exposed to asbestos but who had not become ill. Borellia explained that the objective of the research was to identify a link between the occurrence of asbestos-related diseases and a genetic predisposition to contract these diseases. See: Amianto, procede la ricerca verso nuove cure [Asbestos, the search for new treatments continues].
 

Lawsuit Targeting Montana Medical Clinic

May 6, 2021

More details have emerged about the basis for the lawsuit being brought by asbestos defendants against a medical clinic in Libby – a Montana town where hundreds of people have died from asbestos-related diseases due to vermiculite mining operations by the company W. R. Grace. The litigants allege that personnel at the Center for Asbestos Related Disease (CARD) defrauded Medicare and federal agencies by running unnecessary tests – including X-rays and CT scans – and over-diagnosing cases of asbestos-related diseases. The legal team for CARD view the lawsuit as an attempt to damage the clinic’s credibility and undermine the legitimacy of its diagnoses. See: Lawsuit against Libby clinic centers on lung scans.
 

Asbestos Disposal Fiasco

May 6, 2021

Enquiries made by a local reporter have exposed failings in the disposal policy for asbestos-cement tiles in the Brazilian city of Guarulhos, São Paulo State. Municipal dumpsites and collection agencies will not accept asbestos-cement tiles or broken cement tiles suspected of containing asbestos, advising that arrangements must be made for the collection of these toxic products by a specialist commercial company. There is only one such specialist company: Cetes Ambiental. The result of the city’s policy is that people dispose of asbestos-cement material on public roads and vacant lots. See: Guarulhos não sabe o que fazer com telhas que contêm amianto [Guarulhos does not know what to do with tiles containing asbestos].
 

Ukraine’s Asbestos Battles: Update

May 5, 2021

An update to the war over the right of the Government of Ukraine to ban asbestos reported that one of the main companies involved in the attack on the democratic process was the Russian-Kazakh Kusto Group. The author of the article cited below noted that in 2017 this group had “managed to abolish the decree of the Ministry of Health of Ukraine #339 ‘On the safety and protection of workers from the harmful effects of asbestos and materials and asbestos-containing products’ with the help of the Administrative Court of Cassation of Ukraine.” Support for Parliament’s attempt to ban asbestos had been received from international organizations and Parliamentarians. See: Russian-Kazakh holding blocks the ban of hazardous asbestos-containing production and that threatens Ukraine's integration into the EU.
 

Victory for Dunkirk Shipyard Workers

May 5, 2021

On April 28, 2021, a French court recognized the right of 32 former employees from the Normed shipyards in Dunkirk to claim compensation of €2,000 for asbestos anxiety from the French State; judgments in 150 similar cases are pending according to lawyer Frédéric Quinquis who pointed that that the successful claimants had all been employed prior to 1977 when asbestos regulations had been enacted. See: Amiante: l’État condamné à indemniser 32 ex-salariés de chantiers navals de Dunkerque [Asbestos: the State ordered to compensate 32 former employees of Dunkirk shipyards].
 

New Health Assessment Program

May 5, 2021

On April 30, 2021, the South Korea City of Busan announced that a program would be launched to provide health assessments for former pupils, staff and local people who had attended Yeonsin Elementary school or lived near the school from 1985 to 1998. The school, which was opened in 1984, was 10 meters away from an asbestos textile factory owned by the Jeil Chemical company. The program – which would provide free assessments and check-ups – would be conducted by staff from the Asbestos Environmental Health Center at the Busan National University Hospital in Yangsan. See: 석면공장 옆 부산 연신초 졸업생·가족 건강영향 조사 [Health impact survey for graduates and families in Yeonsin-cho, Busan, next to the asbestos plant].
 

Asbestos in Schools

May 5, 2021

Critics of the Education Department of the South African Province of Gauteng have issued a strongly worded condemnation that years after asbestos had been banned in South Africa, 25 schools in Gauteng still contained asbestos material. Accepting that there had been delays, Steve Mabona, a spokesperson for the Department, said that plans to remediate these schools were well-advanced and that a budget for the work had been allocated. According to Mabona: “Our commitment to eradicate asbestos remains unshakeable. However, we must also forever condemn the apartheid government for using the lethal asbestos to build schools in our communities.” See: Years after eradication deadline, 25 Gauteng schools still contain asbestos.
 

Asbestos Myths and Disinformation

May 5, 2021

The mythology, history and legendary benefits of using chrysotile (white) asbestos were recounted in a Russian language article which contained multiple clues as to the pro-asbestos bias of the author, including phrases such as: “asbestos has become an indispensable companion of mass construction projects”; “Chrysotile asbestos is … [removed from our body] in a short time”; “Chrysotile asbestos is approved for industrial use under controlled use.” See: Удивительная промышленность: легенды о негорящем камне [Amazing Industry: Legends of the Non-Burning Stone].
 

Asbestos at the Opera

May 5, 2021

Last week, acquittals were handed down by the Milan Court in a case brought against former directors of La Scala Opera House – Carlo Fontana, Giovanni Traina, Francesco Malgrande and Maria Rosaria Samoggia – who had been charged with the manslaughter of 10 workers who had died from diseases caused by occupational asbestos exposures. Having heard the verdict, victims’ campaigners called out: “Shame, they were killed for the second time.” See: Amianto, assolti i quattro ex dirigenti del Teatro alla Scala imputati per omicidio colposo di dieci operai esposti all’amianto [Asbestos, the four former directors of the Teatro alla Scala accused of the manslaughter of ten workers exposed to asbestos acquitted].
 

Victim’s Judgment in Brazil

May 4, 2021

Judge Juliana Campos Ferro Lage of the 2nd Labor Court of Pedro Leopoldo in Belo Horizonte – the 6th largest Brazilian city – last week approved a verdict awarding R$ 571,472 (US$ 106,900) in moral and material damages to a worker who had contracted asbestosis and pleural plaques after having been employed for 25 years at an engineering company. The company, which had employed the plaintiff from 1973 to 1998, claimed that the disease contracted was unrelated to his employment as the provisions of health and safety laws had been implemented. See: Homem será indenizado por empresa, após adoecer por causa de amianto [Man will be compensated by company, after falling ill due to asbestos].
 

Buffet Company Sues Medical Clinic

May 4, 2021

The repercussions of mining in Libby, Montana continue with diagnoses of asbestos-related diseases, caused by exposure to fibers liberated by W.R. Grace’s vermiculite operations, being made every year. The Center for Asbestos Related Disease Clinic provides a vital role in supporting and treating the injured. One of the defendants in Libby asbestos cases is the BNSF Railway, owned by billionaire Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway company. BNSF is suing the Clinic in federal court, alleging that it is defrauding Medicare and grant agencies by over-diagnosing asbestos-related diseases and running unnecessary tests. See: In Poisoned Montana Town, Warren Buffett-Owned Railroad Accuses Clinic of Medicare Fraud.
 

Campaigning during Covid!

May 4, 2021

Grassroots groups in Indonesia, which remain committed to banning asbestos despite the COVID-19 pandemic, include Union Aid Abroad-APHEDA (Australia), the Local Initiative for Occupational Safety and Health Network (LION), and Indonesia’s Ban Asbestos Network. Work continues on consolidating the ban introduced in Bandung City in 2020 as well as on campaigning for additional regional and national regulations to protect workers, consumers and post-disaster communities from toxic exposures. LION will continue outreach work to support asbestos victims and raise awareness of the need for a ban to protect the population from avoidable deaths caused by asbestos exposure. See: The fight to ban asbestos continues as Indonesia responds to COVID-19.
 

Asbestos: Key Election Issue in Scotland

May 4, 2021

In the run-up to the Scottish elections this week, asbestos victims’ and trade union campaigners urged all political parties to commit themselves to a plan to eradicate asbestos contamination throughout the Scottish infrastructure. Phyllis Craig, from the Glasgow-based group Action on Asbestos, was insistent, saying: “The question of asbestos in our schools, hospitals and public buildings must be addressed by the politicians before the May elections.” Gary Smith, GMB Scotland secretary, added: “Asbestos has cost so many lives and damaged so many more, it’s outrageous that there is not a planned programme of removal.” See: Scotland’s political parties must pledge to remove potentially deadly asbestos from all of the country’s public buildings, campaigners and trade unions have said.
 

Saying No to the Sao Paulo!

May 4, 2021

Opposition continues to grow in Turkey over plans to dismantle a former Brazilian warship – believed to contain up to 900 tonnes of asbestos – at an Izmir shipbreaking facility. According to the İzmir Medical Chamber the scrapping of the vessel in Turkey would cause pollution both in the sea and on the land. Lütfü Çamlı, the head of the Chamber, warned that Turkey was on the verge of becoming the world’s “toxic waste dump” adding that: “The increasing ship dismantling traffic creates a major source of environmental pollution for Aliağa and İzmir and poses a great threat for people living around these facilities and workers.” See: Medical chamber expresses concern over aircraft carrier dismantling in İzmir.
 

Asbestos Action by TV Technician

May 4, 2021

On April 27, 2021, a trial started in a Madrid Court to consider whether the RTVE television company violated mandatory safety measures which resulted in a worker receiving toxic exposures to asbestos. Commenting on the case, one of the lawyers for the claimant said: “today it will be proven how the health of workers was disregarded, without further ado, allowing exposure to asbestos to be part of their day-to-day life.” A positive judgment would mean that the pension received by the plaintiff would be increased by up to 40%. See: RTVE a juicio hoy para dirimir si incumplió las medidas de seguridad ante el amianto [RTVE on trial today to decide if it breached the security measures against asbestos].
 

Naming Names!

Apr 29, 2021

The article cited below from a Ukraine website named the Kazakhstan Kusto asbestos company as one of the main groups lobbying against efforts by Ukraine’s government to ban the use of asbestos, noting that: “Back in 2017, the Kusto Group lobby was able… to cancel the Ukraine’s Ministry of Health’s [ban asbestos] order No. 339…” To counter the pressure from asbestos interests, a campaign was launched to inform Ukrainians of the importance of ending the use of this known carcinogen to protect health and comply with EU regulations. See: Российско-казахский холдинг-монополист блокирует запрет изготовления опасного асбеста, что угрожает интеграции Украины в ЕС [Russian-Kazakh monopoly blocking ban on manufacture with hazardous asbestos, which threatens Ukraine's integration into EU].
 

Chungnam’s Deadly Asbestos Legacy

Apr 29, 2021

On April 28, 2021, the Yesan Hongseong Environmental Movement Association, the Korea Asbestos Removal Network and the Environmental Health Citizens’ Center held a community discussion in Hongseong, capital of Chungnam Province, to consider the achievements and limitations of the Asbestos Damage Relief Act, operational since 2011. Chungnam is an asbestos hotspot due to the presence of naturally occurring asbestos at multiple locations. According to speaker Yeyong Choi: “Only 5002 asbestos victims have been recognized and compensated for their illnesses in the last 10 years;” [of these] 1,900 (38%) had experienced asbestos exposures in Chungnam.” See: 석면 피해자가 충남에 가장 많은 이유는? [Why are the most asbestos victims in Chungnam?].
 

Asbestos: Heroism or Propaganda?

Apr 29, 2021

Asbestos propagandists, seemingly short of inspiration for their latest asbestos puff piece, have resorted to patriotism and reliving the glory of the post-World War II era when the efforts of the asbestos industry were pivotal in rebuilding the country: “Both during the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union, chrysotile asbestos was regarded as a strategically important resource… In those heroic years, it became obvious that the asbestos industry in any form – from mobilization to peacetime – was a strategically important part of the national economy.” See: Продукция асбестовой индустрии активно применялась в годы Великой Отечественной войны [The products of the asbestos industry were actively used during the Great Patriotic War].
 

Support for Construction Workers Lawsuit

Apr 29, 2021

A rally was organized in Kasuya Town, Fukuoka Prefecture on April 25, 2021 by Japanese unions, to express solidarity with claimants in litigation brought by construction workers over occupational asbestos exposures. Speakers who addressed the gathering included politicians from the ruling and opposition parties as well as Toshimichi Ishimoto, General Manager of the Construction Workers Struggle Campaign, who was optimistic about the outcome in light of the recent Supreme Court verdict favoring asbestos-injured construction workers. See: 全ての被害者救済を 建設アスベスト 九州訴訟で総決起集会 [Rally to Save All Victims of Construction Asbestos in Kyushu].
 

Asian Asbestos Shipbreaking Hazard

Apr 29, 2021

Three of the 12 pages of the text in an update issued on April 28, 2021 about the health emergency at South Asian shipbreaking beaching facilities dealt with the hazard posed by asbestos contamination on ships being scrapped in Bangladesh and India. The publication by the NGO Shipbreaking Platform noted the ubiquity of asbestos-containing material on board ships, the hazards posed by asbestos exposures to workers and local communities, the lack of capacity to safely handle this material at the shipbreaking yards, the incidence of asbestos-related diseases amongst shipbreaking workers and how weak national systems allow scrappers to exploit regulatory loopholes. See: South Asia Quarterly Update Number 25.
 

Manifesto for National Program

Apr 29, 2021

Calls for national action to address a multitude of failings by the Spanish government in tackling the country’s epidemic of asbestos-related diseases are increasing; asbestos victims, medical associations and environmental campaigners have criticized the lack of: a census of former asbestos workers; asbestos audits of buildings; a program to remediate deteriorating asbestos in public buildings such as schools; and sufficient recognition of asbestos-related diseases. See: Amianto: así afecta a la salud el principal carcinógeno laboral [Asbestos: this is how the main occupational carcinogen affects health].
 

Attack on Asbestos Ban Proposal

Apr 27, 2021

An article examining the repercussions of Ukraine bill No. 4142, a voluminous piece of legislation revising the country’s public health system which was adopted by Parliament on its first reading, singled out just one article of the draft legislation: the one banning asbestos. The author of the text, no doubt informed by asbestos lobbyists, engaged in scaremongering by warning that citizens would face exorbitant bills for asbestos-free roofing. The prohibition was ill-advised, said the author, when chrysotile asbestos roofing tiles were “safe, time-tested and affordable.” See: «Крыша поехала»: депутаты объявили шифер вне закона [“roofing gone”: deputies to outlaw slate].
 

Growing Anger over Toxic Import

Apr 27, 2021

Political opposition continues to build in Turkey, with the latest condemnation over plans to import a toxic Brazilian warship to Turkey for scrapping coming from Izmir Deputy Kani Beko who highlighted the presence of an estimated 600 tonnes of asbestos onboard the vessel. Beko claimed that dismantling the Sao Paulo aircraft carrier in Aliağa could harm workers and members of local communities as well as do irreparable damage to the environment. See: CHP'li Beko'dan asbestli gemi uyarısı: Sadece Aliağa'yı değil tüm ülkeyi kirletir! [Asbestos ship warning from Beko of CHP: It pollutes not only Aliaga, but the whole country!].
 

Cadiz’s Tragic Legacy

Apr 27, 2021

A feature-length piece on a Spanish website last Sunday explored the country’s deadly asbestos legacy with a particular emphasis on the impact on the port of Cadiz, which was between 1965 and 1988 the entry point for 269,380 tons of asbestos. Some of the imported fiber was used locally in maritime as well as construction products as a result of which “hundreds or even thousands of workers… have died since the 1950s.” Shipyard workers and their families are amongst the worst affected, with former employees from the Bazan shipbuilding company at an elevated risk of contracting an asbestos-related disease. See: Amianto: El asesino silencioso [Asbestos: The Silent Killer].
 

Mesothelioma Case: Coroner vs. Court

Apr 27, 2021

A ruling by a Senior West London Coroner that the 2018 death of Linda Evans had been due to “exposure to asbestos whilst resident at 8 Eliot Court, causing malignant mesothelioma,” was overruled on March 31, 2021 (see: Wandsworth BC v HMC for Inner West London)  by a verdict of the Chief Coroner of England and Wales Judge Teague, Lord Justice Popplewell and Mr. Justice Cavanagh which found: “That evidence was not sufficient to enable the coroner to conclude on the balance of probabilities that Linda Johns had contracted malignant mesothelioma as a result of exposure to asbestos fibres while she was living at 8 Eliot Court.” See: Testing the boundaries of causation in mesothelioma deaths.
 

Another Health Disaster in Sardinia

Apr 27, 2021

The legacy posed by asbestos use and dumping in Sardinia has caused thousands of deaths and continues to endanger the lives of the population, according to the Asbestos Exposed Association which has just released a report documenting the “unacceptable” underestimation made by the authorities of the seriousness of the contamination. The facts are startling: despite some remediation, there are still: 18 million square meters of asbestos-containing material, 9,000+ km of asbestos cement water pipes, 2,850 public buildings including schools, hospitals, sports facilities, courthouses, post offices containing asbestos, 1,750 industrial sites, to be reclaimed, etc. See: Sardegna libera dalla minaccia amianto? “Traguardo ancora lontano” [Sardinia free from the asbestos threat? “Milestone still far away”].
 

Asbestos in Schools

Apr 27, 2021

The cost for removing asbestos from 112 schools in the Australian state of Queensland over the last financial year exceeded $6.5 million according to information provided by Education Minister Grace to a Parliamentary Question. The most expensive remediation initiative, which cost $410,594, took place at Maryborough Special School. According to the Minister “the safety of students, staff and visitors was the department's highest priority.” See: Asbestos found at more than 100 Queensland schools and the search is still underway, Education Minister reveals.
 

Asbestos Crimes in Massachusetts

Apr 26, 2021

The Attorney General of Massachusetts Maura Healey is suing four companies for flouting laws intended to prevent toxic exposures to asbestos. “We allege,” said Healey “that the defendants’ reckless disregard of basic workplace procedures and failure to take proper precautions put the health and safety of workers, building occupants, and the surrounding community at risk.” The charges relate to work undertaken in March 2019 by: Ray Services Inc., an asbestos abatement company; O’Reilly, Talbot, & Okun Associates, Inc., an environmental consulting company; Allegrone Construction Co., a general contractor; and Service Transport Group, a transportation company. See: AG Healey Sues Four Companies for Illegal Asbestos Work at Former Springfield YMCA.
 

Asbestos on the Beach

Apr 26, 2021

Randwick City Council has announced the closure of Little Bay Beach in Sydney’s eastern suburbs for a fortnight, starting April 26, in order to conduct an assessment of the asbestos debris found on the beach and investigate the source of the contamination. Since August 2020, 1,000 pieces of asbestos material have been found. The Council believes that the debris is coming downstream from nearby gullies which might have been used as landfill sites prior to 1988. The mining, use and sale of asbestos is prohibited. See: Hundreds of asbestos pieces to shut down eastern suburbs beach.
 

Save the Planet and the Workers

Apr 26, 2021

An article about efforts by the European Union to increase protection for workers from asbestos exposures explained that the measures proposed would be implemented as part of the EU’s push for the adoption of green and digital technologies. Italian MEPs, including Elena Lizzi in the Employment and Social Affairs Commission, were supporting these plans in order to protect citizens. “There are,” said Lega “between 30,000 and 90,000 deaths per year in the European Union, and by 2025 there could be a peak in pathologies caused by contact with this material…The European Beating Cancer Plan includes prevention among its pillars, which is fundamental to prevent occupational cancers which cause 52% of deaths at work.” See: Green e digitale per affrontare il problema amianto [Green and digital to tackle the asbestos problem].
 

Shortage of Space for Asbestos Waste

Apr 26, 2021

Wallonia, the French-speaking community of Flanders, is running out of capacity for the legal dumping of asbestos waste. As a consequence of the closure last December (2020) of two asbestos landfill sites, only two remaining sites are operational in Wallonia: one in Habay-la-Neuve and the other in Hallembay. They are close to being full. Technical experts are calling on quick decisions to be made regarding the lack of capacity which could include extending provisions at current landfills to allow dumping of asbestos waste. The higher the price for disposing of asbestos waste, the more toxic waste will be illegally dumped said Étienne Offergeld. See: Amiante: les centres d’enfouissement wallons sont presque tous pleins [Asbestos: Walloon landfills are almost full up].
 

A Decade of the Asbestos Damage Relief Act

Apr 26, 2021

On April 28, 2021, the Korea Asbestos Removal Network will hold a community discussion in Hongseong, the capital city of South Korea’s Chungnam Province, to consider the achievements and limitations of the Asbestos Damage Relief Act, operational since 2011. Chungnam is an asbestos hotspot due to the presence of naturally occurring asbestos at multiple locations. Speakers at the meeting will include: Ye-Yong Choi, director of the Environmental Health Citizen Center, Akira Suzuki, executive chairman of the Korea Asbestos Removal Network, and activist and asbestos cancer sufferer Lee Seong-jin. See: 석면피해구제법 시행 10년 성과와 문제점은? [What are the achievements and problems in 10 years of the enforcement of the Asbestos Damage Relief Act].
 

Victims’ Verdict in Venice

Apr 26, 2021

Labor Judge Barbara Bortot of the Court of Venice awarded compensation of €853,000 (US$1,032,000) to the family of an Italian port worker who died from asbestos cancer in 2011. This sum is believed to be a record for an occupationally-caused asbestos death of a dockworker. The defendant was the Port System Authority for the Northern Adriatic Sea; the District Attorney of the State of Venice contested the applicants’ claim. See: Amianto, risarcimento record per un portuale morto nel 2011 [Asbestos, record compensation for a docker who died in 2011].
 

Support for Ukraine Asbestos Ban

Apr 23, 2021

The titanic effort Ukraine is exerting to improve the rights and conditions of its population by banning asbestos has been recognized by UK Parliamentarians who have issued their support for the Ukraine ban in a letter sent on April 20, 2021 to the Head of the Ukrainian Parliament Dmytro Razumkov. In the text of the correspondence MS Mick Antoniw (see: Ukraine Ban on Asbestos), MP Stephen Timms, MSP Anas Sarwar and MP Ian Lavery whole-heartedly endorsed “Ukraine’s determination to protect its citizens by ending asbestos use and beginning the onerous process of addressing the multitude of challenges created by the incorporation of this deadly carcinogen into the national infrastructure.” See: Stephen joins calls to ban asbestos in Ukraine.
 

Saying No to Toxic Imports!

Apr 23, 2021

Public opposition continues to build in Turkey over plans to bring a toxic Brazilian aircraft carrier – believed to contain asbestos as well as heavy metals – to Izmir for scrapping. A statement by the Aliağa Environment Platform was categorical: “Tons of materials that will directly affect the sea, air and naturally human life will be dismantled at the shipbreaking shipyard in Aliağa. The meaning of this is clear: We will breathe the poison.” See: Aliağa Çevre Platformu: Bu kent, bu hayat bizim, zehir solumak istemiyoruz [Aliağa Environment Platform: This city, this life is ours, we don't want to breathe poison].
 

Eternit Profits Post-Ban

Apr 23, 2021

The share price of Brazil’s former asbestos giant – Eternit S.A. – has reached its highest price since 2014 despite the dire warnings the company had given in years gone by about the disastrous impact banning asbestos would have on the company’s financial prospects. Last year (2020), Eternit recorded an adjusted net profit of R$85.7 million (US$15,4m), after having a loss of R$46.8m (US$8.4m) in 2019. Despite the existence of a national asbestos ban, Eternit’s mining subsidiary SAMA exported 75,000 tonnes of asbestos last year, under an unconstitutional Goiás State law which is being contested at the Supreme Court. See: Ação da Eternit chega ao maior valor desde 2014 [Eternit shares reach highest value since 2014].
 

Victim’s Verdict in Bilbao

Apr 23, 2021

Bilbao’s Social Court number 6 awarded compensation of €130,650 (US$157,400) to the family of a bricklayer who had died in 2019 from asbestos-related lung cancer; the Court dismissed the defence’s argument that the disease had been due to the deceased’s smoking history. Between 1976 and 1996, the deceased had handled asbestos whilst repairing furnaces for his employer the Altos Hornos company of Vizcaya. The Court found that the company had not been compliant with health and safety measures. Throughout the case, the family had been supported by the Asbestos Victims Association of Euskadi (Asviamie). See: Condenan a Cofivacasa a pagar a la familia de un trabajador de AHV muerto por amianto [Cofivacasa is sentenced to pay the family of an AHV worker killed by asbestos].
 

Asbestos at Montreal University

Apr 21, 2021

The University of Montreal (UoM) announced on April 19, 2021 that it will not appeal decisions taken which upheld the occupational cause of asbestos cancer deaths suffered by two of its employees. The claims were brought by the families of computer scientist Yves Charland, who had worked as a computer scientist for 20 years at UoM and died of the signature asbestos cancer mesothelioma in 2019, and retired professor Jean Renaud, who died in March 2021 from the same cancer. See: Dossier de l’amiante L’Université de Montréal fait marche arrière [Asbestos case. The University of Montreal is backing down].
 

Increase in Chrysotile Sales

Apr 21, 2021

Kazakhstan’s only asbestos producer Kostanay Minerals reported increased chrysotile fiber sales in the first quarter of 2021 from 50,100 tonnes in 2020 to 67,400 tonnes. Exports increased by 38.6% with shipments going to China, India, Sri Lanka, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Ukraine and Turkmenistan. Chrysotile asbestos-containing products are also sold in Kazakhstan. According to the company, production output in 2021 was predicted to reach 230,000 tonnes, 97% of which was for export. See: В первом квартале на треть вырос объем отгрузки хризотила и составил 67,4 тыс тонн [Demand for Kazakh chrysotile in the first quarter has grown significantly].
 

Opposition Grows over Toxic Ship

Apr 21, 2021

The Turkish environmental activist nicknamed “Don Quixote Osman” has condemned the import of the Brazilian aircraft carrier the São Paulo, calling the vessel a “floating coffin.” The campaigner said that grassroots anger is growing over the dumping of yet another toxic ship in Turkey and he is demanding that the ship be returned to France. which is where it was built, for dismantling. Having considered the human health and ecological consequences of the ship’s scrapping in Turkey, Osman pledged: “We will not take this ship into our territorial waters.” See: Don Kişot Osman'dan 'asbest' gemisi yorumu: Yüzen tabut [Don Quixote Osman's interpretation of ‘asbestos’ ship: floating coffin].
 

Update: Mesothelioma Research

Apr 21, 2021

An anomaly uploaded to a Russia language website examined developments in treatment options for patients suffering from mesothelioma, the signature cancer caused by asbestos exposure. According to the Russian asbestos industry, there are no asbestos cancers in Russia because the only asbestos used there is Russian-produced chrysotile (white) asbestos which, they say, is not harmful to humans. The author of the article admitted that “According to statistics, in 80% of cases, mesothelioma develops due to asbestos [exposures]… asbestos is one of the most … potent carcinogens, and those who work with it without any protection are at extreme risk.” See: Тройное оружие против «асбестового рака» [Triple weapon against “asbestos cancer”].
 

Chrysotile Protection Day

Apr 20, 2021

“Chrysotile Protection Day” was marked by asbestos stakeholders on April 16, 2021 to promote the industry’s interests and to attack the “external forces” and “unfair competitors” who advocate for the banning of chrysotile asbestos. The author of the article cited below asserted that Chrysotile Protection Day was “celebrated all over the world;” this, as well as other statements he included – such as the denial of the health hazard posed by human exposures to chrysotile – were based on fiction and not fact. See: День защиты хризотила: более 40 лет хризотил-асбест находится под давлением внешних сил [Day of protection of chrysotile: chrysotile-asbestos has been under pressure from external forces for more than 40 years].
 

Asbestos Prohibitions and Eradication

Apr 20, 2021

Steps are being taken in Colombia to implement the 2019 law banning asbestos, by widening the restrictions to include asbestos applications previously exempted. Steps are being taken by the Ministries of Labor, Health and Social Protection, Environment and Sustainable Development and Commerce, Industry and Tourism, to establish a program to ensure compliance with mandatory asbestos regulations and progress attempts to eradicate contamination of the national infrastructure. See: Importación y exportación de asbesto, prohibida en Colombia [Import and export of asbestos, prohibited in Colombia].
 

São Paulo Disposal: Other Options?

Apr 20, 2021

An article in a Brazilian magazine reviewed the current plans to dispose of the decommissioned Brazilian warship the São Paulo at a Turkish scrapping yard, reporting that the reaction by citizens’ groups, environmentalists and technical experts in Turkey had been far from favorable. Looking for an alternative destination for the ship, the article reported that Rear Admiral Mustafa Cihat Yayci of the Turkish navy had suggested converting the vessel into a large military training center. See: Porta Aviões SÃO PAULO pode escapar do desmonte. Contaminantes nucleares, questões ecológicas e novo campo de treinamento para militares são questões levantadas na Turquia [Aircraft carrier São Paulo can escape scrapping. Nuclear contaminants, ecological issues and training camp for military personnel are issues raised in Turkey].
 

Say No to Toxic Ship!

Apr 20, 2021

İzmir Deputy and Environment Commission Member Murat Çepni issued a stinging denunciation of plans to allow a Brazilian Naval aircraft carrier to be dismantled in an Aliağa shipyard in Izmir. The contamination which would result from scrapping the ship would decimate the ecology and environment of Datça Kargı bay as well as expose workers and local people to carcinogenic substances. Çepni alleged that political and financial vested interests stood to gain from this catastrophic decision despite the obvious hazard posed to citizens and communities. See: Çepni: Zehir ve kanser saçacak olan gemi durdurulmalı! [Çepni: The ship that will spread poison and cancer must be stopped!].
 

Grassroots Action to Defeat Toxic Dump

Apr 20, 2021

Despite a decision by the municipal authorities in Mont-Saint-Vincent, France to postpone discussion of proposals to allow dumping of asbestos waste at a local quarry, campaigners continue to lobby the public and decision-makers to block the contentious venture by the Rougeot company. On April 16, members of local action groups met officials of the urban commune representing the cities of Creusot and Montceau. Support from environmentalists has been growing; the association to protect drinking water in Guye expressed concerns over water pollution created by the disposal of asbestos in the quarry. See: Amiante – Les opposants au projet d’enfouissement de déchets amiantés sonnent à toutes les portes [Asbestos – Opponents of the asbestos landfill project are ringing the bell].
 

Update: Promising Asbestos Cancer Treatment

Apr 20, 2021

A Scottish Sunday newspaper highlighted progress made in treating asbestos-related diseases, noting that Scotland had one of the world’s worst incidences of these illnesses due to it’s industrial history. According to researchers, mesothelioma patients in a clinical immunotherapy trial – called Checkmate 743 – had their lives extended and their quality of life improved in one of the “biggest breakthroughs in 16 years.” Commenting on the results, the Edinburgh consultant oncologist leading the Scottish part of the study Dr Melanie MacKean said: “Doctors see it as a real option for advanced mesothelioma patients for whom surgery is not the right treatment.” See: Doctors hail breakthrough drugs trial for cancer linked to asbestos.
 

Supporting Ukraine’s Asbestos Ban Bill

Apr 19, 2021

On April 16, 2021, the Collegium Ramazzini – an international association of independent scientists and medical professionals – issued its support for actions being taken by the Government of Ukraine to ban the use of all types of asbestos, including chrysotile. The letter was addressed to Dmytro Razumkov, Head of the Ukrainian Parliament, and Mykhailo Radutskyi, Head of the Parliamentary Committee on Public Health, Medical Assistance and Medical Insurance. On behalf of the Collegium, the President and Secretary General urged “the Government of Ukraine to persist with its efforts to protect citizens from deadly exposures to all types of asbestos, including chrysotile.” See: Collegium Ramazzini letter on asbestos hazards in the Ukraine.
 

Asbestos Failings Widespread in Istanbul

Apr 19, 2021

A new report published by technical experts in Turkey has revealed that only 7 out of 39 districts in Istanbul were enforcing asbestos inspection laws and guidelines prior to the commencement of redevelopment or demolition work. Scientific, geological and asbestos removal specialists warned that given the speed and ubiquity of urban renewal work in Turkey’s biggest city, the lack of asbestos audits and the failure to take preventive measures continue to release asbestos fibers into the air putting members of the public as well as workers at risk of toxic exposures. See: İstanbul'da asbest tehdidi: Sadece 7 ilçede sağlıklı denetim var [Asbestos threat in Istanbul: only 7 districts have healthy control].
 

Update: National Compensation Fund

Apr 19, 2021

A proposal by Basque parliamentarians, which was approved almost unanimously last week by the Spanish Parliament, will establish a national asbestos compensation fund. The scheme will be modelled on similar ones in France, the Netherlands and Belgium and will award compensation for the State’s failure to take timely and appropriate action on the asbestos hazard. Had it banned the use of asbestos before 2002, tens of thousands of deaths from toxic exposures at work and at home could have been prevented. The official recognition of the diseases incurred by victims was welcomed by campaigners as an indication of the injustices that had been perpetrated on citizens. See: El triunfo de los olvidados del amianto [The triumph of the forgotten asbestos].
 

Belice Earthquake Asbestos Remediations

Apr 19, 2021

The sum of €9 million has been allocated by the regional government for eleven projects in the Sicilian cities of Agrigento, Trapani and Palermo to remediate asbestos contamination caused by the Belice earthquake. According to the Mayor of Montevago, Magherita La Rocca Ruvolo the funding will enable: “significant redevelopment and environmental remediation interventions for the disposal of asbestos deriving from dismantling of the slums built after the earthquake that destroyed many towns in the valley in 1968.” See: Amianto, bonifica Belìce, La Rocca Ruvolo, plauso a Musumeci [Asbestos, Belìce reclamation, La Rocca Ruvolo, applause for Musumeci].
 

Asbestos Removal at St. Paul’s Hospital

Apr 19, 2021

Last week, the Region of Central Macedonia, Greece ordered work to begin on a €132,000 project to remove asbestos from a hospital in the Northern Greek town of Pavlos following an asbestos survey conducted by the hospital’s Technical Services Department and approved by the Technical Works Directorate of the Region. As part of this project asbestos-containing material will be removed and affected roofing material will be replaced. See: Kαθαίρεση κτιρίου με στοιχεία από αμίαντο στο νοσοκομείο Άγιος Παύλος [Asbestos Removal at St. Paul’s Hospital].
 

Opposition Grows over Toxic Scrapping

Apr 19, 2021

An April 16, 2021 editorial by Uğur Dündar, one of the most famous news anchors in Turkey, has called on the Turkish Government to reject attempts to import an asbestos-contaminated warship from Brazil for scrapping at an Izmir recycling yard. Dündar, who warned that the ship was likely to contain “thousands of tons of jet fuel, diesel oil and petroleum hydrocarbons,” as well as asbestos, called on the Minister of Environment and Urbanization Murat Kurum to block the transit of the ship – which would “cause a major environmental disaster” – to Turkey. See: Zehir yüklü bu gemiyi Türkiye'ye sokmayın! [Do not bring poison ship to Turkey!].
 

Toxic Talc!

Apr 16, 2021

A year after Johnson & Johnson announced plans to withdraw its iconic talc-based baby powder from sale in North America), British Parliamentarians condemned “the hypercritical and unjustifiable action by the American pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson which in 2020 withdrew from North American markets its talc-based baby powder, found to be contaminated with asbestos fibre by Government and independent laboratories, but continued to sell that product in countries all over the world including the UK.” See: EDM (Early Day Motion) 1718: Talcum powder, asbestos contaminants and cancer.
 

Spring Propaganda Offensive

Apr 16, 2021

A text purporting to be a news article was little more than a press release by asbestos vested interests. The “article,” which appeared on the website of Izvestia – a popular Russian newspaper – extolled the properties of chrysotile (white) asbestos roofing material, going as far as to call it “folk tiles.” Discounting all the safer alternative products as too costly for use, the author asserted that asbestos roofing “almost completely covers the needs of large groups of the population.” Exposure to chrysotile was not harmful as its fibers, the author incorrectly stated, can be dissolved by the body. See: Народный шифер: что нужно знать о самом доступном кровельном материале [Folk tiles: what you need to know about the most affordable roofing material].
 

Eternit Prosperity Post-Asbestos

Apr 16, 2021

An interview with the CEO of the former asbestos giant of Brazil – Eternit S.A. – focused on how the company, which had long bemoaned the adverse effect an asbestos ban would have on its financial prospects, has prospered in the years since it transitioned to an asbestos-free technology. By way of explanation, Eternit CEO Luis Augusto Barbosa talked about the the huge sums involved in the technology transfer, the debts incurred, the financial reorganization and divestments needed by the company to adapt to the new reality. See: Como a Eternit se reergueu ao deixar o amianto? Veja entrevista com o CEO [How did Eternit rise when it left asbestos? See interview with the CEO].
 

Asbestos in Schools

Apr 15, 2021

From April 16 until May 4, 2021, the Education Department of the South Korean Province of Gyeonggi-do will conduct an asbestos outreach project to educate teachers, school support staff, students, and parents about the nature of asbestos and the implications of asbestos material present in Gyeonggi-do’s schools. This training program has been operational since 2019. Asbestos eradication work, which began in Gyeonggi-do schools in 2016, has to date, remediated 1,614 schools. See: 발암물질 석면...경기도교육청 '석면 이해 교육'진행페이스북트위터공유하기추천댓글0원고료로 응원원고료로 응원 [Asbestos, a carcinogen...Proceed with Gyeonggi-do Office of Education ‘Asbestos Understanding Education’].
 

Post-Cyclone Asbestos Alert

Apr 16, 2021

West Australians in a town hit by Cyclone Seroja this week have been warned about the hazard posed by asbestos debris. People in Kalbarri have been told to follow guidelines to minimize toxic exposures during clean-up operations. According to media reports, 25% of the buildings damaged by the storm contained asbestos in roofs, walls or fencing. A spokesperson from the Perth-based Asbestos Diseases Society warned: “In Western Australia, we have the most deadly [asbestos] fibre… It needs to be promptly cleaned up while it’s still damp.” See: Cyclone Seroja: Asbestos the new concern facing Kalbarri residents trying to clean up.
 

Spanish Asbestos Fund

Apr 16, 2021

On April 13, 2021, Spain’s Congress approved draft legislation proposed by the Basque Parliament to create an autonomous administrative Asbestos Victims Compensation Fund to distribute financial support to victims of environmental as well as occupational asbestos exposures in Spain. Funding for this initiative will include contributions from: public and private employers and mutual insurance companies for accidents at work and occupational diseases. See: El Congreso da luz verde a la tramitación de la Proposición de Ley de creación de un fondo de compensación para las víctimas del amianto [Congress gives the green light to the processing of the Bill to create a compensation fund for asbestos victims].
 

New Asbestos Cancer Treatment Tool

Apr 14, 2021

The use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) for assessing mesothelioma patients has been pioneered by researchers in Scotland who have developed a prototype AI system with the ability to recognize the tumours using an AI algorithm. This revolutionary healthcare breakthrough was achieved by the Scottish medical imaging software firm Canon Medical Research Europe in collaboration with researchers at the University of Glasgow. “Not only does it have the potential to revolutionise mesothelioma cancer care through more targeted treatment,” said one of its funders “but it may also be able to be applied to a number of other cancer types in the future.” See: AI technology used to track asbestos cancer tumours.
 

Asbestos Compensation Fund

Apr 14, 2021

On Monday April 12, 2021, it was announced by National Deputy Néstor Rego, at a meeting in Ferrol of the Galician Association of Asbestos Victims, that the Galician National Bloc (BNG) – an alliance of left-wing nationalist parties in the autonomous Spanish community of Galicia – would support an Asbestos Victims’ Compensation Fund bill in Congress with the purpose of establishing a fund to provide compensation for victims in Galicia. See: O BNG defenderá no Congreso a concesión “obxectiva” das indemnizacións ás vítimas do amianto [The BNG will defend in Congress plans to grant compensation to asbestos victims].
 

Deadly Asbestos Legacy

Apr 14, 2021

The 2.5 million tons of asbestos waste buried at Belgian dumpsites was described as a “gigantic time bomb” in an article uploaded on April 9, 2021. Every year, 150,000 tons of this toxic waste are deposited at a landfill site in Antwerp, according to Frank Bal, head of technical and commercial services at Indaver, the company that manages the site: “About half comes from our own facilities, these are residues from our waste treatment processes. The other half comes from external customers who deliver materials considered to be toxic to us.” See: Des millions de tonnes d’amiante dorment dans les décharges belges: “Les générations à venir seront les victimes” [Millions of tons of asbestos lie dormant in Belgian landfills: “The generations to come will be the victims”].
 

Asbestos Anxiety at Renault

Apr 14, 2021

On April 8, 2021, a labor tribunal in Lyon acknowledged the validity of only a third of the asbestos anxiety claims submitted in one of the biggest cases brought to an industrial tribunal in France. Whilst 474 claims from former workers at the Renault Trucks’ Vénissieux factory were accepted, 666 were rejected. These 1,200 cases were submitted to the industrial tribunal in March 2019; a verdict in another action against Renault for 200 more victims of asbestos anxiety is expected at the end of this month. See: 666 salariés déboutés au procès de l’amiante à Renault Trucks: «on n’arrive pas à comprendre» [666 employees rejected in the asbestos lawsuit at Renault Trucks: “we can't understand”].
 

Battle over Scrapping of the Sao Paulo

Apr 14, 2021

Public opposition is building over plans to dismantle a toxic Brazilian warship in a shipbreaking yard in Izmir. Environmentalists and scientists are speaking out about the hazard posed to workers and local people by plans to scrap the Sao Paulo aircraft carrier at the Aliaga yard. A petition has been submitted to the Aliaga Port Authority stating: “We do not want ships to enter our territorial waters to be recycled. Ship dismantling yards should be closed.” A new platform, bringing together groups opposed to the ship’s scrapping in Turkey, has announced it would start a legal battle to ban the vessel from entering the country. See: Bir zehir gemisi daha Türkiye yolunda [Turkey to accept another poison ship].
 

Appeal of Victim’s Verdict

Apr 14, 2021

On April 9, it was announced that a decision by the Osaka High Court – acknowledging the 2013 asbestos cancer (mesothelioma) death of Kazunori Shimatani had been caused by asbestos exposure during clean-up operations after the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake – was being appealed by the Local Government Employees Accident Compensation Fund. Commenting on this development, a family member said: “I am angry that the agency for the relief of the victims did not take the court's decision seriously…” See: 震災がれき回収でアスベスト被害 基金が判決不服として控訴 [Asbestos damage fund appeals against judgment due to earthquake debris collection].
 

Post-Blast Asbestos Disaster

Apr 12, 2021

Months after blasts devastated the Port of Beirut, nothing has been done about the hazard posed by asbestos debris collected in the aftermath of the explosion. According to environment specialist Samar Khalil, asbestos-containing waste was dumped in the Achrafieh district of Beirut on a vacant lot “located a few meters from apartment buildings and a sports ground popular with the inhabitants of the district.” MP Imad Wakim deplored the informal asbestos dumpsites in the Karm Al-Zaitoun neighborhood of the city and castigated the municipal authorities, NGOs, UN agencies and the national government for failing to address the deadly situation. See (subscription site): Que faire des débris du port de Beyrouth contaminés par l’amiante? [What to do with the debris of the port of Beirut contaminated by asbestos?].
 

Legal Victory for Power Workers

Apr 12, 2021

On March 31, 2021, asbestos anxiety claims were recognized by the Paris Court of Appeal for two hundred workers from the French electricity generating company EDF, each of whom was awarded €10,000 (US$12,000); the plaintiffs had worked at EDF power stations in Loire-sur-Rhône, Saint-Ouen, Vitry, Champagne-sur-Oise, Creil, Strasbourg, Blénod and Porcheville. The previous month, the court had recognized asbestos anxiety claims from 21 operatives from the EDF Porcheville site. All the claimants are suffering from distress caused by knowledge of the toxic workplace exposures they had experienced. See: Amiante: environ 200 ex-salariés d’EDF indemnisés pour un préjudice d’anxiété [Asbestos: around 200 former EDF employees compensated for anxiety damage].
 

Update: Asbestos Ban Bill

Apr 12, 2021

The first reading of a bill (No. 4142) to ban asbestos was approved by the Ukraine Parliament. The draft legislation prohibited: “The production and use of asbestos, regardless of the type, as well as asbestos-containing products and materials, is prohibited in technological processes and in the implementation of construction and installation work at any facilities.” According to Mikhail Radutsky, Chair of Ukraine’s Parliamentary Committee for Health, Medical Care and Medical Insurance, the ban legislation is facing stiff opposition from the “asbestos lobby.” See: Законопроект о системе общественного здоровья ко второму чтению получил около 900 поправок – Радуцкий [Public health system bill receives about 900 amendments to the second reading – Radutsky].
 

Alert: Asbestos Water Pipes

Apr 12, 2021

The danger posed by the delivery of water through asbestos-cement water pipes in Sakarya – a Turkish Province on the Black Sea coast – was highlighted last week by Sakarya politician Ecevit Keleş who stated that the problem, which was a serious issue affecting public health, needed to be addressed urgently. He called for a collaborative effort by every level of government, from Mayor Ekrem Yüce to President Erdogan and including municipal, provincial and national health and administrative authorities, to prioritize the replacement of the toxic pipes with safer alternatives. See: Keleş, Sakarya'da asbestli borularının olduğunu ifade etti! [Keles stated that they have asbestos pipes in Sakarya!].
 

Free Asbestos Medical Care

Apr 12, 2021

A new healthcare program which will start treating patients at high risk of contracting diseases from toxic exposures in asbestos hotspots – near asbestos factories, mines, development sites, or areas with a high density of asbestos roofing – was announced this month by the Asbestos Environmental Health Center at Cheonan Hospital. As of November 8, 2021, members of the public from the South Korean areas of Anyang, Gyeonggi-do, Ulsan Ulju-gun, Cheongju-si, Chungbuk, Pyeongtaek-si, Gyeonggi-do and Nowon-gu (Seoul) will be eligible for free medical check-ups and support. See: 순천향대천안병원, 석면피해우려 지역 실태 조사 [Sooncheonhyang University Cheonan Hospital surveys the actual condition of areas concerned with asbestos damage].
 

Interruption of Asbestos Remediation Work

Apr 12, 2021

The efforts of contractors employed to replace asbestos-cement water pipes at a site in Veria, Macedonia, Northern Greece were interrupted by the discovery of human remains on April 7, 2021. The on-duty archaeologist reported the presence of the human skeleton at the excavation to the authorities. Upon a superficial examination, it was believed that the remains belonged to a young person who had died 1,000 years ago. Work at the site was temporarily suspended. See: Βρέθηκε ανθρώπινος σκελετός σε “αρχαίο” τάφο κατά τη διάρκεια εργασιών στο κέντρο της Βέροιας [Human skeleton found in "ancient" tomb during work in the center of Veria].
 

Ukraine’s Asbestos War

Apr 9, 2021

As Ukraine Parliamentarians work to protect citizens from potentially deadly exposures to asbestos by adopting legislation banning its use, industry stakeholders have gone on the media offensive to incite support for asbestos-containing building products by alleging that the new law would force the removal of toxic roofing and that asbestos-free products would be prohibitively expensive. A one-sided pro-asbestos article, which categorized the situation as a war between medicine vs economics, warned that “Panic is already rising in the villages.” See: В Украине хотят запретить использовать шифер и еще ряд стройматериалов. Заставят ли людей менять крыши? [In Ukraine, they want to ban the use of slate and a number of other building materials. Will people be forced to change roofs?].
 

Beirut: Asbestos Update

Apr 9, 2021

According to expert Samar Khalil, the hazard posed by asbestos contamination after the 2020 explosions in Beirut remains unaddressed. “Asbestos was,” she said “present in a large part of the buildings in the Port of Beirut where it had been commonly used as roofing and wall covering materials in warehouses.” While most of the asbestos found in the debris was chrysotile, there were also some samples which contained crocidolite. Neither the national government nor local authorities have accepted responsibility for disposing of the toxic debris. See: Samar Khalil: « Aucune disposition n’a encore été prise pour régler le problème de l’amiante dans les débris de l’explosion du Port » [Samar Khalil: “No provision has yet been made to resolve the problem of asbestos in the debris of the Port explosion”].
 

Memorial to Asbestos & Other Victims

Apr 9, 2021

Since 2016, the Environmental Health Citizen Center in South Korea has marked Arbor Day with an activity to honor environmental victims with a tree-planting ceremony. The Center’s efforts on April 5, 2021 were reported on the front-page of two newspapers along with photographs of participants digging holes and planting saplings in Noeul Park, Seoul. The victims being remembered included people who had died of exposures to asbestos and radon as well as those who had been fatally injured through their use of humidifier disinfectants. See: 식목일, 환경피해자 ‘추모의 숲’ 나무심기 [Arbor Day, planting trees in the ‘memorial forest’ for environmental victims].
 

Asbestos Plan Unfair to Claimants

Apr 9, 2021

Attorneys representing US asbestos claimants have expressed serious concerns over a bankruptcy deal proposed by Cyprus Mines Corporation (CMC) which is facing hundreds of US asbestos lawsuits; if the deal were approved, CMC would pay $130 million into a personal injury claims trust in return for protection from future claims. During the 1990s, CMC had been taken over by Imerys Talc America, a supplier to Johnson & Johnson. Approval of the Chapter 11 filing is being delayed by Delaware Judge Laurie Selber Silverstein who is demanding supplemental information on how the settlement would affect the payment of asbestos injury claims in the future. See: Cyprus Mines insolvency deal under scrutiny in US.
 

Asbestos Cancer during A Pandemic

Apr 9, 2021

Surveys of mesothelioma patients and their carers, and of mesothelioma clinical nurse specialists, examined the impact of the pandemic on patients’ lives. The researchers found that mesothelioma patients and their carers were “disproportionately affected” in a variety of ways including: interruption of treatment and examinations, disruption of communication with healthcare teams, lack of clarity over shielding and additional emotional and psychological burdens. Recommendations for improvements included: prioritizing the reinstatement of all mesothelioma services, offering patients face-to-face appointments, providing support through regular “check-in” calls from healthcare providers, etc. See: Effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on people with mesothelioma and their carers.
 

Alert 2021: Asbestos Hazard on Ships

Apr 9, 2021

Despite International Maritime Organization regulations banning the use of asbestos-containing products on board ships’ as of January 1 2011 (see: IMO Circular 1374), more than 65% of vessels still contain asbestos. The toxic products are found not only on older ships but also on newbuilds which are delivered with asbestos-free declarations. The composition of spare parts is also problematic as “a gasket that is classified asbestos-free in Singapore or the US may not be considered asbestos-free in, say Australia, New Zealand or France…” See: More Than 65% Of All Ships Are Operating With Systems Containing Asbestos.
 

Sad Announcement

Apr 8, 2021

On April 2, 2021, respected occupational medicine specialist and civil society activist Dr Angelo Mancini died aged 68 at Novara hospital in the Italian town of Casale Monferrato. Dr Mancini had been at the forefront of efforts to reclaim asbestos-contaminated sites in the town and was a key advisor to the Turin public prosecutor who brought the largest asbestos class action against international defendants for the damage their decisions had done to factory workers, family members and local residents in Italian cities. See: Addio ad Angelo Mancini, il trinese pioniere della lotta all'amianto [Farewell to Angelo Mancini, the Trino pioneer in the fight against asbestos].
 

Thousands More US Asbestos Tragedies

Apr 8, 2021

An April 3 expose detailed the tragedy caused by toxic exposures of up to 6,000 workers who had been employed at a Minnesota factory producing mineral board and ceiling tile products using asbestos. The plant belonged to the Conwed company – formerly known as the Wood Conversion Co. – and was located in the town of Cloquet; although it closed in 1985, members of its workforce continue to contract deadly diseases caused by workplace exposures to asbestos between 1958 and 1974, when the company ceased using asbestos. The article focuses on the case of Gene “Randy” Backe, who died of the asbestos cancer mesothelioma last year. See: Minnesota factory workers feel aftermath of asbestos 36 years later.
 

Mobilization in Mont-Saint-Vincent

Apr 8, 2021

Members of the group “Preserve Mont Saint Vincent,” who are protesting plans to dump asbestos in their area, took their campaign to the Cluny outdoor market on April 3, 2021, having lobbied shoppers at the Montceau market the week before. This week their efforts yielded a further 315 signatures to a petition, which has, to date, attracted 1,152 signatures. The petitioners are urging the municipality of Mont-Saint-Vincent to reject the application of the Rougeot company to bury asbestos waste in the Bourgueuil quarry and to adopt a policy based on “a sustainable management of resources and the environment.” See: Non à l’amiante – Après le marché de Montceau, celui de Cluny [No to asbestos – After the Montceau market, the Cluny market].
 

Failure to Enforce Asbestos Regulations

Apr 8, 2021

Although asbestos use was banned in Turkey in 2010 given the widespread use of asbestos products before then, the speed of urban regeneration and the failure of municipalities to enforce regulations, toxic exposures to asbestos continue to occur on a routine basis during renovation and demolition work. The article cited below provides data highlighting the failure of Kartal Municipality to protect workers and local people from asbestos liberated by unsafe working practices; of the 567 buildings earmarked for development between 2018 and 2020, mandatory asbestos regulations were obeyed at only 73 sites. See: Kentsel dönüşümün yoğunca yaşandığı ülkemizde asbest sorunu büyüyor [Growing problem of asbestos in urban transformation in Turkey].
 

Milan Court: Victim’s Verdict

Apr 8, 2021

Last week, a court in Milan recognized the culpability of Sacfem – formerly one of the largest employers in Arezzo, eastern Tuscany – and awarded substantial damages (€600,000+/ US$705,000) to the family of a worker who had died from the asbestos cancer mesothelioma contracted as a result of occupational exposures to asbestos. Sacfem, which closed 40 years ago, initially specialized in the production of railway carriages and then branched out into the production of building materials, at its height employing 1,000 people. See: Ucciso dall’amianto: maxi-risarcimento a ex operaio Sacfem [Killed by asbestos: maxi-compensation to a former Sacfem worker (subscription site)].
 

José María Íñigo Case Update

Apr 8, 2021

An interview with Andrea Peiró, a lawyer for José María Íñigo's family, explained the multiple stages of the legal case against the deceased broadcaster’s former employer and the repercussions of a recent judicial ruling in the family’s favor: “We have won the first battle… which is the sentence in the first instance. The opposing party has the possibility of appealing it before the Superior Court of Justice of Madrid, but we are very hopeful because the sentence has been very good, its content is very positive for us. It is very well founded.” See: José María Íñigo: hablamos con la abogada de su familia [José María Íñigo: we spoke with his family's lawyer].
 

Russian Asbestos-Free Building Materials

Apr 7, 2021

The economic, social and political clout that Russian asbestos vested interests have long exercised on the national asbestos dialogue seems to be crumbling day by day. The news just released of a range of asbestos-free building products which will be manufactured and sold in Russia marks a turning point in the world’s largest asbestos-producing country. The new material, which is based on Calcium Silcate, was developed by Russian technical experts via a pilot project in China. Manufacturing of the products will begin in Russia in 2025. See: ИзолМакс — огнезащита нового поколения [IzolMax – new generation fire protection].
 

Asbestos Alert in Seville

Apr 7, 2021

In reply to enquiries made by Esperanza Gómez, the coordinator of Más País (More Country – a political platform formed in 2019) Andalucía, the Technical Office of Municipal Buildings of Seville City Council, admitted that it did not have a list of buildings containing asbestos despite having agreed in 2016 to begin the process of eradicating asbestos from educational structures. Gomez raised concerns over the incredibly slow progress to decontaminate schools and protect children from asbestos exposures saying: “We cannot have our boys and girls in schools with materials that affect their health.” See: Sevilla in Andalucia Spain Admits There is ‘No List’ Of Buildings Containing Deadly Asbestos.
 

Asbestos Hazard in Chlorine Production

Apr 7, 2021

For seven years, trade unions and asbestos victims have been waiting for a legal case to be brought over asbestos exposures at the Chloralp company’s chemical plant in Pont-de-Claix, France. Asbestos fibers in a liquid solution were routinely used to seal crack in equipment used for the production of chlorine despite a national asbestos ban. In 2005, this practice was described by a labor inspector as “totally unacceptable.” The inspector also noted that the “liquid asbestos” was unsafely stored in poorly labelled and leaking containers. Between 2002 and 2005, more than 800 kg of asbestos were used at the plant. See: Amiante: Sept ans d'inertie judiciaire, des dizaines de morts [Asbestos: Seven years of judicial inertia, dozens of deaths].
 

Prison Sentence for Asbestos Crimes?

Apr 7, 2021

On March 26, 2021, the US Department of Justice (DOJ) confirmed that Gunay Yakup – an asbestos abatement operative and supervisor – had admitted involvement in an illegal conspiracy to remove asbestos at a former IBM site in Kingston, New York in 2016. Due to time constraints imposed upon him by other conspirators, Yakup took the decision to violate mandatory practices for the stripping, bagging, removal and disposal of asbestos as stipulated under the Clean Air Act. Sentencing will take place on July 27; the maximum penalty for these crimes is five years in prison. See: Abatement Supervisor Pleads Guilty to Illegally Removing Asbestos.
 

Changes to Asbestos Regulation

Apr 7, 2021

As of May 1, 2021, WorkSafe Queensland is increasing the restrictions on work with asbestos-containing material. From then, low density asbestos fibre board (LDB), also known as asbestos insulating board, will be classified as a friable material in all circumstances. As a result, LDB can only legally be removed by a class A asbestos removal licence holder. These changes affect class B asbestos removal licence holders as well as business and tradespeople who carry out maintenance and service work involving LDB installed in buildings, plant or equipment. New regulations will be in force for: repairing damaged LDB, painting LDB, drilling a hole in LDB, moving LDB ceiling tiles, installing or removing fixtures or fittings. See: Changes to asbestos regulation.
 

Providing Support for Asbestos Victims

Apr 7, 2021

A loophole in Australian regulations means that whilst workers who were exposed to asbestos can claim compensation should they contract asbestos-related diseases, people who were non-occupationally exposed to asbestos cannot. One such case is that of 54-year-old James Wallner who has contracted the signature asbestos cancer mesothelioma from having lived in a Canberra home with asbestos-containing “Mr. Fluffy” insulation. As a result of publicity generated by the case, the Australian government is, said Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt, now exploring options to provide compensation for victims of non-occupational asbestos exposures. See: Commonwealth takes first steps towards new compensation fund for asbestos victims.
 

Financial Woes of Asbestos Company

Apr 6, 2021

Political lobbying at the highest level in Russia has pleaded for government action to bolster the finances of the country’s major asbestos producer Uralasbest, which a politician from the Sverdlovsk region said on March 30, was carrying an onerous tax burden by being classified as as a “mining and chemical raw materials” company rather than a producer of “non-metallic raw materials used mainly in the construction industry.” See: Мишустина попросили спасти свердловский завод от высоких налогов. Этого ждет весь город [Mishustin was asked to save the Sverdlovsk plant from high taxes. This is what the whole city is waiting for].
 

Asbestos Company: Truth or Lies?

Apr 6, 2021

Eternit S.A., a company which only just emerged from the Brazilian equivalent of Chapter 11, on March 29, 2021 announced its purchase of a major competitor Confibra at a cost of R $ 110 million (~US$20m). The actions of Eternit lead one to suspect that its finances might not have been in such dire straits after all; it had blamed the 2017 Brazilian asbestos ban as the source of its financial woes. Ban asbestos campaigners had, however, long suspected the company was been less than truthful about the adverse effects of the ban on its financial prospects. See: Eternit compra concorrente do setor de telhas Confibra por R$ 110 milhões [Eternit buys competitor in the Confibra roofing sector for R $ 110 million].
 

Asbestos Hazard in Shipbreaking Yard

Apr 6, 2021

Civil society campaigners in Turkey continue to raise the alarm over plans to scrap the redundant Brazilian aircraft carrier the São Paulo at the Aliağa shipbreaking yards in Izmir, Turkey. Spokesmen from the Asbestos Association Recycling Professionals and the Aegean Environment and Culture Platform (EGEÇEP) have made public statements about the threat to occupational and public health posed by the import of the asbestos-contaminated ship with EGEÇEP’s Eşsözcü Ali Osman Karababa pointing out that the right of citizens to live in a healthy environment is guaranteed by the country’s constitution. See: 600 ton asbest barındıran uçak gemisi Aliağa'da sökülecek [The aircraft carrier with 600 tons of asbestos will be dismantled in Aliağa].
 

Supporting Basque Asbestos Victims

Apr 6, 2021

On April 13, 2021, the Basque Congress of Deputies will vote on a bill to create an asbestos fund to award compensation to asbestos victims; it was estimated that there are 30,000 workers in Galicia alone who could be eligible to bring claims. Trade unions and asbestos victims’ groups have been lobbying for this scheme. This fund is, they say, “the only way to begin to pay off a debt that, as a society, we have contracted with those who continue to get sick and die from exposures that could and should have been avoided.” See: El Congreso vota este mes el fondo de compensación del amianto [Congress votes this month on asbestos compensation fund].
 

App to Access Asbestos Use Database

Apr 6, 2021

An application launched in November 2020 by the Arobiz company in France is being recommended to help protect do-it-yourself handymen from unexpected exposures to asbestos contained throughout the French infrastructure. The application sourced information from a public database of 4 million premises including apartment buildings, shops, offices, schools and even single-occupancy family homes. Commenting on the particular hazard to DIYers, Arobiz’s owner Jérôme Vergnolle said: "With Covid-19 and the repeated lockdowns, we are all becoming [DIY] tinkerers, but few people learn about the potential asbestos risk." See: Le bricolage, oui, mais quel est le risque amiante? Une appli vous le dit [DIY, yes, but what is the asbestos risk? An app tells you].
 

Recycling the Asbestos Hazard

Apr 6, 2021

Thousands of recycled asbestos-containing safes, cabinets and filing cabinets have found new homes in Ireland over recent years as EU companies sought to rid themselves of toxic products without incurring huge costs for asbestos removal and/or disposal. Despite asbestos also having been banned in Ireland, these goods were imported via the UK and sold on the second-hand market due to failures by regulators to prevent the trade, and lack of asbestos awareness by consumers. Once in Ireland, toxic safes, fire cabinets and vaults were refitted and re-sprayed and sold. See: Has Ireland become a Toxic Waste Dump for Asbestos Contaminated Safes & Cabinets?
 

Asbestos Too Toxic in Word and Deed!

Mar 31, 2021

Months after the former asbestos mining town of Asbestos changed its name to Val-des-Sources after a municipal referendum, it was announced that the street called rue de l’Amiante (Asbestos Street) would also be changing its name to rue des Bâtisseurs (Builders’ Street). The rebranding of the Quebec town and the street are symbolic of a municipal desire to embrace a safer future and distance itself from a toxic past as a producer of a carcinogenic mineral that sent death and destruction all over the planet. See: La rue de l’Amiante change également de nom [Asbestos Street is also changing its name].
 

Hazards for Shipbreaking Workers

Mar 31, 2021

President of Turkey’s Association of Asbestos Removal Professionals Mehmet Seyhmus Ansari publicized concerns over the occupational and public health fallout from the dismantling of an asbestos-contaminated Brazilian warship destined to be scrapped at the Aliaga shipyard. Questions asked included: will occupational health be protected under the Regulation on Health and Safety Measures in Working with Asbestos; how many ships with asbestos were dismantled in Aliaga over the last 5 years; how many tons of asbestos were disposed of? See: Brezilya'nın başından attığı asbestli savaş gemisi Türkiye'de sökülecek [Brazilian warship containing asbestos will be dismantled in Turkey].
 

Addressing the UK’s Asbestos Legacy

Mar 31, 2021

An article in the Morning Star newspaper discussed a conference being organized by asbestos victims’ groups to raise awareness about the ongoing hazard posed by the continuing presence of asbestos-containing products throughout the country’s infrastructure. Campaigning groups from Yorkshire and the Midlands are organizing this event, for trade union colleagues to consider steps which could be taken to prevent toxic exposures, eradicate asbestos cancer and expose inconsistencies in government schemes and actions. Interested parties were advised to register their interest to participate in the April 16, 2021 conference via an online portal. See: Asbestos: campaign against all fears.
 

Asbestos Remediation and Compensation

Mar 31, 2021

Since 2013, Uijeongbu City, Gyeonggi Province has continued to progress efforts to protect the environmental rights of Korean citizens by adopting state-of-the-art management and demolition practices to minimize asbestos exposures. As a result of sustained and proactive efforts to identify asbestos victims, many injured people have received relief benefits and treatment for their injuries. Last year (2020), the asbestos illnesses of 13 people were recognized as a result of which 175 million won (US $155,000) compensation was paid. See: 의정부시, 안전한 석면관리로 쾌적한 생활환경 조성 [Uijeongbu City creates a pleasant living environment through safe asbestos management].
 

Calls for National Asbestos Law

Mar 31, 2021

Last week, draft proposals were presented to Spain’s Congress of Deputies calling for a comprehensive asbestos law to coordinate action to eradicate the asbestos hazard by 2030 – as per EU guidelines. The multi-faceted program would include the removal of asbestos within the country’s infrastructure as well as the remediation of contaminated soil and waste sites. Supporting this Parliamentary initiative, Deputy Inés Sabanés said: “It is especially important to pay attention to public buildings such as schools, hospitals, but also to homes. This requires not only a state strategy but regional and municipal plans that can articulate these measures.” See: Una ley integral del amianto [A comprehensive asbestos law].
 

Another Tragic Railway Death

Mar 31, 2021

On March 29, 2021, Coroner Peter Nieto ruled in Derby Coroners’ Court that Thomas Fitzpatrik, a Derby railway worker, had come into contact with asbestos during his employment at the Derby Carriage and Wagon Works as a result of which he contracted mesothelioma, an industrial disease. Mr. Fitzpatrick died, aged 62, on January 30, 2021, having been diagnosed in July, 2020. He had worked for British Rail as a forklift truck driver at a railway repair workshop off Litchurch Lane. It has long been acknowledged (see: UK Rail Trade Unions: Action on Asbestos) that people who worked on the railways or in workshops building or repairing rolling stock were at an elevated risk of being exposed to asbestos. See: Former Derby railway worker killed by asbestos exposure.
 

Legal Victory for Bereaved Family

Mar 30, 2021

On March 26, 2021, Judge Kaoru Izumi of the Kobe District Court recognized as occupationally-caused the 2013 death from mesothelioma – the signature asbestos cancer – of municipal worker Kazunori Shimatani, a resident of Akashi City, Hyogo Prefecture, who had been involved in the clean-up effort after the 1995 Great Hanshin-Awaji earthquake. As a result of this verdict, compensation will be paid to Shimatani’s family under the local government employee accident compensation fund. See: 死亡した市職員の労災認める 震災処理でアスベスト扱う [Recognition of occupational death of municipal employee caused by asbestos exposure during post-earthquake clean-up].
 

Asbestos Cancer in Russia

Mar 30, 2021

Russian and Kazakhstan asbestos stakeholders have long denied that the mining and processing of asbestos was a cause for concern for workers or people living near asbestos mines and factories. A March 26, 2021 article on the website of Tass – “Russia’s leading news agency” – which discussed research breakthroughs into the signature asbestos cancer, mesothelioma broke ranks with official policy stating: “residents of settlements near which fine-fiber asbestos silicate is mined are more likely to suffer from malignant tumors.” See: Нейросеть научили подбирать терапию от вызываемого асбестом рака [Neural network taught to select therapy for cancer caused by asbestos].
 

AI in Mesothelioma Research

Mar 30, 2021

Promising results announced on March 26, 2021 regarding genomics research conducted under the supervision of Professor Dean Fennell, Chair of Thoracic Medical Oncology at the University of Leicester and Director of the Leicester Mesothelioma Research Programme, using artificial intelligence (AI) to study mesothelioma could, it was suggested, improve patient outcomes. Explaining the nature of the study, Professor Fennell said: “this initial work shows us that mesotheliomas follow ordered paths of mutations during development, and that these so-called trajectories predict not only how long a patient may survive, but also how to better treat the cancer – something Leicester aims to lead on internationally through clinical trial initiatives.” See: AI used in battle against asbestos-linked cancer.
 

Grassroots Outreach Initiative

Mar 30, 2021

Members of an environmental group – “Preserving Mont Saint Vincent and its surroundings” – took to the streets of the French town of Mont-Saint-Vincent on March 27, 2021 to canvas support for efforts to block commercial plans for an asbestos waste landfill at a local quarry. The campaigners spent the morning at the town’s open-air Saturday market and gathered 609 signatures in support of the petition to block the toxic dump. According to a news report, discussions with members of the public proved, on the whole, fairly positive with a high degree of interest expressed. See: Contre l’amiante – Association en grand excès de vitesse avec 609 signatures [Against asbestos – Association in no time gathers 609 signatures].
 

Asbestos in Schools

Mar 30, 2021

It was announced last week, that progress was being made on the eradication of asbestos from schools in the Porto District of Portugal. Sites being decontaminated under a program co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund and costing €46,000 included: the Barroncal, Lordelo and Riadouro kindergartens in the towns of Valadares, Ancede and Baião, respectively. According to councillor José Pinho Silva, the asbestos removal program would: “provide students with better conditions of comfort, safety and health and contribute decisively to the quality of the lives of children and professionals who work in these educational spaces.” See: Mais um jardim de infância de Baião sem amianto [Another asbestos-free Baião kindergarten].
 

The Winds of Change

Mar 29, 2021

In a sign of the changing times, a Quebec community which had long defended the commercial exploitation of chrysotile (white) asbestos is now lobbying the Provincial Government for millions of dollars to help manage the toxic environmental legacy from decades of asbestos mining. The president of the Economic Development Corporation of the Thetford region and mayor of Thetford Mines, Marc-Alexandre Brousseau has requested that the Minister of Finance Eric Girard allocate $320 million over five years for the decontamination and reclamation of the Bell asbestos mine site in downtown Thetford Mines; $50m is needed to carry out phase 1 of this project. See: Expected budgets for the management of asbestos and mining residues.
 

Mesothelioma Checkpoint Inhibition

Mar 29, 2021

At the March 19, 2021 International Conference on Surgical Cancer Care held by the Society of Surgical Oncology, scientists from the Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey presented the research findings into whether peritoneal mesothelioma cancer cells expressed high amounts of PD-L1, a protein that was abundantly present on some types of cancer cells. They found that this was the case and speculated that: “patients with peritoneal mesothelioma may be inhibiting the immune system from recognizing the cancer and attacking it… Our plan will be to test checkpoint inhibition in patients prospectively to determine whether or not it is associated with significant antitumor activity.” See: Exploring PD-L1 Expression in Malignant Peritoneal Mesothelioma.
 

Export of Toxic Ships to Asia

Mar 29, 2021

On March 26, 2021 the NGO Shipbreaking Platform issued a press release condemning the export of toxic cruise ships – the Marco Polo and the Magellan – from the UK to the notorious Alang shipbreaking beach in India. Under EU Waste Shipment Regulations, the Basel Convention and national laws, sending end-of-life ships from Europe to non-OECD countries was banned as they contained large amounts of carcinogenic material and hazardous products which contained asbestos. See: NGOs call upon authorities to sanction [prevent] illegal exports of cruise ships.
 

US Policy and Administrative Failures

Mar 29, 2021

A commentary about protecting citizens from deadly exposures to chemicals during the time of Covid-19, highlighted failures by the authorities to take effective action on the deadly legacy posed by asbestos consumption and problems caused by failing to ban asbestos in the US as a result of industry interference. The Environmental Protection Agency which was tasked with protecting Americans from hazardous products and taking steps to monitor historic and current use, neglected to do so under the Trump Administration despite 2016 revisions to the Toxic Substances Control Act which had reinforced the EPA’s responsibility to undertake a comprehensive asbestos review. See: The Past, Present, and Future of Asbestos Regulations in America.
 

Basque Asbestos Compensation Fund?

Mar 29, 2021

On April 13, 2021, Parliamentarians Jon Aiartza, Eba Blanco and Gloria Sánchez will table draft legislation calling on the Basque Parliament to establish a state compensation fund for asbestos victims. At a March 25 plenary session of the Autonomous Parliament, these three regional deputies were designated to spearhead efforts to progress this plan. This will be the fourth attempt to achieve approval for a government scheme to “repair the damage” suffered by asbestos-exposed citizens. See: Parlamentarios vascos volverán a pedir el 13 de abril en el Congreso la creación de un fondo para víctimas del amianto [Basque parliamentarians will again ask Congress on April 13 for the creation of a fund for victims of asbestos].
 

Justice for Asbestos Victims

Mar 29, 2021

A press release issue on March 23, 2021 by ANDEVA – an umbrella group representing asbestos victims’ support groups in France – welcomed a March 2021 ruling by the Supreme Court (Court of Cassation) and called on judicial authorities to resume forthwith the investigation of a criminal case against the Everite company over the asbestos deaths of former employees. Other cases, including actions against Eternit, DCN (Direction des Constructions Navales) and Valéo-Ferrodo de Condé-sur- Noireau, should also proceed “without delay.” See: Nouvelle victoire pour les victimes [Another victory for the victims].
 

Asbestos Eradication Program

Mar 26, 2021

On March 24, 2021, the Council of Jeonnam Province, South Korea approved the asbestos safety management ordinance bill to facilitate the decontamination of daycare centers, child welfare facilities, and youth welfare facilities units. Funds allocated under this scheme will be made available to remove asbestos-containing roofing and building products and establish mandatory asbestos management programs to prevent children and young people from receiving toxic exposures. See: 전남도, 석면건축자재 사용 어린이집 등에 처리비용 지원한다 [Support for treatment costs in Jeonnam-do and daycare centers using asbestos construction materials.].
 

Supporting Injured Construction Workers

Mar 26, 2021

A symposium was held in Tokyo on March 23, 2021 to consider options for establishing a national compensation fund for construction workers injured by asbestos exposures, following a Supreme Court ruling which found the Government and building material manufacturers liable for having failed to take steps to protect workers from asbestos. The administrative scheme, funded by the government and manufacturers, would be intended to provide timely relief for the injured without recourse to protracted litigation. See: 建設アスベスト被害 政治責任で救済早く補償基金創設へシンポ [Construction asbestos damage political responsibility. Symposium to establish compensation fund].
 

São Paulo Asbestos Injunction

Mar 26, 2021

On March 23, 2021, a labor judge in São Paulo issued an injunction against Tranasportes Scatuzzi Ltda. (for background see: Confidence Tricksters and Asbestos Thugs from the Brazilian State of Goiás) at the request of the Public Ministry of Labor which had alleged that the company was engaged in illegal activities – i.e. the handling, processing and transport of asbestos fiber. These activities were illegal pursuant to a 2017 Supreme Court ruling and São Paulo State laws. In addition to the legal authorities cited, the Public Ministry of Labor said that according to the precautionary principle, all potentially toxic exposures should be avoided. See: Labor Court Injunction.
 

Resumption of Asbestos Litigation

Mar 26, 2021

A decision by France’s Supreme Court (Court of Cassation) on March 23, 2021 could, in the long-term, pave the way for the country’s first criminal trial of those accused over their negligence in protecting citizens from asbestos exposures. In the shorter term, this decision will restart investigations into a case against the Everite company – a subsidiary of the former asbestos group Saint-Gobain – which operated a manufacturing facility at Dammarie-les-Lys (Seine-et-Marne). The national asbestos victims’ support group ANDEVA welcomed this development. See: Amiante: les investigations sur un industriel vont reprendre [Asbestos: the investigations of an industrialist will resume].
 

Asbestos in Schools

Mar 26, 2021

One in five Madrid schools are contaminated with asbestos according to data from 17 district councils; a map with the 56 affected schools – including two for Special Education and one Nursery School – pinpointed was produced. The situation in 42 other schools remained unconfirmed. From information gathered, the worst affected schools were in the poorest neighborhoods: in Puente de Vallecas and Ciudad Lineal, asbestos was present in half the schools. See: El mapa del amianto en los colegios de Madrid: uno de cada cinco centros públicos convive con material tóxico [The map of asbestos in schools in Madrid: one in five public centers lives with toxic material].
 

Asbestos in the Air Force

Mar 26, 2021

A court in Treviso, a city in northern Italy, has recognized as occupationally-caused the 2015 asbestos cancer death (from mesothelioma) of a non-commissioned officer who had served as an Air Force engineer for 40 years repairing military aircraft. As a result of this ruling, his widow will be eligible for compensation including a one-off payment plus a monthly pension of €1,600 (US$1,900) as well as other benefits. See: Amianto, sottufficiale morto di cancro riconosciuto “vittima del dovere:” risarcimento e pensione alla moglie [Asbestos, a non-commissioned officer who died of cancer recognized as a “victim of duty:” compensation and pension for his wife].
 

Government Apologies!

Mar 24, 2021

On March 21, 2021, representatives of the Japanese government – Minister of Health, Labor and Welfare Norihisa Tamura and Deputy Minister Takaaki Kobayashi – apologized to construction workers in Kansai and Osaka for the government’s failures to control the asbestos hazard. As a result of the Government’s inertia, the workers were occupationally exposed to asbestos and contracted debilitating and deadly diseases. A recent ruling by the Supreme Court found the Government guilty of negligence and awarded compensation to thousands of construction workers for their asbestos injuries. See: 田村厚労相が原告に謝罪 [Minister of Health, Labor and Welfare Tamura apologizes to plaintiffs].
 

Supreme Court Upholds Plaintiffs’ Ruling

Mar 24, 2021

A ruling by France’s Supreme Court (Court of Cassation) has paved the way for a criminal trial of company officials, civil servants and decision-makers responsible for the country’s epidemic of asbestos-related deaths. An appeal submitted in January 2021 (see: The Interminable Wait for Asbestos Justice in France) that could have derailed this process was rejected on March 23, 2021 by the President of the Supreme Court’s Criminal Chamber. See: Amiante: la Cour de cassation valide la reprise de l’enquête sur l’entreprise Everite [Asbestos: the Court of Cassation validates the resumption of the investigation into the Everite company]. (This link is to a subscription site.)
 

Calls for a National Asbestos Plan

Mar 24, 2021

Pressure is growing in Spain for a national plan to address the country’s toxic asbestos legacy with regulations being finalized by the Ministry for the Ecological Transition and the Demographic Challenge to mandate asbestos audits of all municipal buildings before December 2022. Last week, Senator Antonio Silván asked a series of questions in the upper house about the eradication program under the draft Waste and Contaminated Soil bill. See: Silván pide ayudas al Gobierno ante la inminente obligación de retirar el amianto de los edificios [Silván asks the Government for help before the imminent obligation to remove asbestos from buildings].
 

New Compensation Scheme in Guernsey

Mar 24, 2021

Under a new scheme operating on the island of Guernsey – under the auspices of the Employment & Social Security Committee – people who contract diffuse mesothelioma, the signature cancer associated with asbestos exposure, in Guernsey or Alderney can apply to the state for a lump sum compensation payment of up to £100,000. Relatives of people who died from this disease since January 1, 2020 can also bring claims as long as the deceased was: exposed to asbestos on the island, “ordinarily” a resident on the island and had his/her disease confirmed by a specialist consultant. See: Mesothelioma Compensation Scheme Open for Applications.
 

Unsafe at any Price?

Mar 24, 2021

Detroit’s top demolition asbestos abatement contractor during 2016 and 2019 was a company called BBEK Environmental. During that time, the company had received at least a dozen citations for failing to comply with regulations stipulating safety protocols for the removal and disposal of asbestos-containing material. Although the company was suspended from Detroit’s demolition program, state authorities still allow it to operate in Detroit endangering workers and residents. This situation is discussed in the article cited below, where the views of Michigan authorities, city and state politicians, and legal and technical experts, were canvassed. See: This Asbestos Company Is Suspended From Detroit’s Demo Program. Why Is It Getting Big Jobs In The City?
 

Spring Asbestos Offensive

Mar 23, 2021

A Russian commentary which began with a few sentences criticizing environmental campaigners in general proceeded to attack a sub-section of that group: ban asbestos campaigners who, the author said, were engaged in spreading the “asbestos hysteria virus.” The discussion which followed was composed of dissociated issues such as the use of asbestos-cement water pipes in Ireland, Donald Trump’s support for asbestos use, the 2001 attack on the World Trade Center, etc. The text cited data from Warsaw Pact countries, which used chrysotile asbestos from the USSR, to show that the incidence of asbestos cancer there was statistically insignificant. See: Экологическая афера века: медиа-пляски вокруг асбеста [The ecological scam of the century: media dances around asbestos].
 

Asbestos Anxiety Ruling

Mar 23, 2021

The Paris Court of Appeal ordered the Valeo equipment company to pay compensation and costs of €9,500 (US$11,310) to a former factory worker for the asbestos anxiety she suffered as a result of having been occupationally exposed to asbestos from 1976 till 2014 when she retired. During the claimant’s employment by the Motorola company at a site in Écouflant, western France, she had used Valeo equipment containing asbestos. The charges against Motorola were, the Court found, time-barred. See: Près d’Angers. La société Valeo condamnée pour préjudice d’anxiété [Near Angers. Valeo sentenced for prejudice of anxiety].
 

Mesothelioma Mortality Data 2021

Mar 23, 2021

The accuracy of data released by the Emilia-Romagna Mesothelioma Registry is being questioned by Italian asbestos victims’ campaigners who believe that the impact of Covid-19 may have negatively impacted on the results produced. During the epidemic, patients with the disease may not have been diagnosed and deaths caused by it may not have been recognized. A report on this matter to the Italian asbestos victims’ group AFeVA concluded: “It is therefore appropriate to wait for the conclusion of the COVID-19 affair and greater stabilization of the data to draw more reliable assessments…” See: Casi di Mesotelioma Report aggiornato al 31/12/2020 [Mesothelioma Cases Report updated to 31/12/2020].
 

Eternit Going Green?!

Mar 23, 2021

Since Eternit SA, formerly Brazil’s largest asbestos conglomerate, was forced to abandon the use of asbestos as a raw material – as a result of a Supreme Court ruling – it has profited from the research and marketing of sustainable products. With great fanfare, the company launched a range of asbestos-free solar roofing products in Brazil. To date, Eternit’s renewable photovoltaic energy projects have been installed in the states of São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, and in the city of Cambé, in Paraná. See: Eternit começa produção em massa de telhas solares para vender no mercado renovável brasileiro [Eternit's new renewable project involves new solar roof tiles and their mass production].
 

Understanding Spain’s Asbestos Legacy

Mar 23, 2021

In the aftermath of the latest ruling in the asbestos litigation brought by the family of Spanish broadcaster José María Íñigo, an interview with pulmonologist Ann Souto cast light on the causation of the occupational cancer which ended his life: mesothelioma. Other topics covered during this discussion included: the properties of asbestos fiber, the historic use of asbestos-containing products in Spain, the existence of asbestos hotspots throughout the country and the long-term consequences of the country’s asbestos legacy. See: Ana Souto, neumóloga: «Desde la exposición al amianto hasta el desarrollo de un cáncer pueden pasar 50 años» [Ana Souto, pulmonologist: “From exposure to asbestos to the development of cancer, 50 years can pass”].
 

De Klerk has Mesothelioma

Mar 22, 2021

On his 85th birthday on March 18, 2021, the former President of South Africa Frederick De Klerk announced that he had contracted the signature asbestos cancer of mesothelioma. In a press release from the FW de Klerk Foundation, a spokesperson for the former President said that De Klerk was planning to start a course of immunotherapy this week. Prior to South Africa banning asbestos in 2008, it had had been the only country in the world to produce all three types of asbestos used commercially: chrysotile, crocidolite and amosite. See: El expresidente sudafricano De Klerk anuncia que sufre un cáncer maligno [Former South African President De Klerk announces he has malignant cancer].
 

Victory for Civil Society!

Mar 22, 2021

Campaigners in Brazil and abroad welcomed the news released last week that the former French aircraft carrier Le Foch, purchased by Brazil in 2000 and renamed the São Paulo, will not be sent to an Asian shipbreaking yard for scrapping. After months of intensive lobbying in Brazil as well as France (see: Letter to Brazilian Authorities Regarding Auction of Aircraft Carrier São Paulo), it was announced that the work would be done in Turkey under EU regulations, which will protect workers and local communities from exposure to toxic substances such as asbestos which are present on most ships of this age. See: Porta-aviões São Paulo será desmantelado na Turquia [Aircraft carrier São Paulo to be dismantled in Turkey].
 

Regional Asbestos Center

Mar 22, 2021

On March 16, 2021, an official ceremony marked the Ministry of Environment’s rededication of The Asbestos Environmental Health Center at Cheonan Hospital in South Chungcheong, South Korea. The Center has been operating for thirteen years during which time is has actively worked to improve the quality of life for people with asbestos-related lung diseases. Outreach work by the Center’s staff has examined 6,000 people at high risk of contracting asbestos-related diseases (ARDs) of whom 3,200 were found to have ARDs. See: 순천향대 천안병원, 환경부 지정 석면·권역환경보건센터 현판식 [Signing ceremony for Soonchunhyang University Cheonan Hospital, asbestos-regional environmental health center designated by the Ministry of Environment].
 

Reinvention of Asbestos Conglomerate

Mar 22, 2021

The financial success currently being enjoyed by the former Brazilian asbestos giant Eternit S.A. is presented in a recent article as a template from which other corporate managers might learn. For years, Eternit had opposed calls by health and safety campaigners to transition to asbestos-free technology. Since they were forced to do so by a 2017 Supreme Court decision banning asbestos, the company has reorganized under bankruptcy laws (2018), divested itself of non-profitable subsidiaries, invested in photovoltaic technology and become a favorite of the Brazilian stock market. See: ETER3: Aprenda a Ver Oportunidades Como a Eternit [ETER3: Learn to See Opportunities Like Eternit].
 

Asbestos Crimes in Galicia

Mar 22, 2021

Members of Spain’s Civil Guard are investigating two firms believed to have been involved in the illegal removal, handling and dumping of asbestos in the Spanish Province of Galicia in the northwest of the country. “Violating the regulations on waste and safety in work with risk of exposure to asbestos” is a criminal activity. The companies were charged with failing to comply with mandatory regulations for registering asbestos work and submitting asbestos work plans to the relevant authorities. These crimes could incur prison sentences of up to two years. See: Investigan en A Estrada y Pontevedra a dos empresas por irregularidades en la retirada y gestión del amianto [Two companies are being investigated in A Estrada and Pontevedra for irregularities in the removal and management of asbestos].
 

Landmark Legal Victory!

Mar 19, 2021

On March 15, 2021 Spain’s Supreme Court confirmed the right to financial compensation for asbestos injuries to people who had lived near Uralita’s asbestos factory in Cerdanyola del Vallés (Barcelona) and upheld compensation awards, having rejected an appeal by the company against a verdict handed down by the Provincial Court of Madrid that had recognized the legal rights of relatives of factory workers – who had received para-occupational or domestic asbestos exposures – as well as those of local residents to be compensated for illnesses caused by inhalation of Uralita asbestos. See: Uralita deberá indemnizar a los vecinos de la fábrica de amianto en Cerdanyola [Uralita must compensate the residents of the asbestos factory in Cerdanyola].
 

Mesothelioma Scheme Wins Top Award

Mar 19, 2021

On March 17, 2021, the UK charity Mesothelioma UK won first prize in the category Military and Civilian Health Partnership of the HSJ Awards 2020 for its “Mesothelioma UK Supporting our Armed Forces campaign.” The initiative was launched in 2017 in partnership with the Ministry of Defence and the Department of Health and Social Care and was, said the judges “an all round package of care based on a well researched evidence base which has also influenced government policy in the sector.” See: WINNER: Mesothelioma UK – Mesothelioma UK Supporting our Armed Forces.
 

Deceleration of Asbestos Remediation

Mar 19, 2021

The former Mayor of the Italian town of Casale Monferrato – at the epicenter of the country’s asbestos scandal – has denounced the lack of progress being made in the remediation of the municipality’s infrastructure. Giorgio Demezzi, who remains a town councillor, said that despite the availability of funding, work had slowed to an unacceptable pace. Supporting Demezzi’s comments Bruno Pesce, from the local asbestos victims’ support group, bemoaned a decrease in public consultation and briefings by town officials over reclamation plans warning that the failure to eradicate asbestos created a public health hazard: “Everyone's health is at stake.” See: “Per Casale restano fermi 33 milioni per le bonifiche dell’amianto” [“For Casale, 33 million remain for asbestos remediation”].
 

Yet More Asbestos Propaganda!

Mar 18, 2021

A piece of propaganda masquerading as an article about the cost of motoring extolled the virtues of asbestos-containing brake pads which “last for a very long time, and are significantly cheaper than their counterparts on the market.” The abandonment of traditional asbestos car parts came about, said the author, as a result of “a massive campaign” against chrysotile (white) asbestos by Western politicians, environmentalists and campaigners spreading “mass hysteria” about the dangers of human exposures. Mouthing discredited propaganda, the text asserted that: “chrysotile asbestos is not harmful to humans when used in a controlled manner.” See: Новые правила ТО: почему нам не дают экономить [New maintenance rules: why we are not allowed to economise].
 

Mesothelioma Treatment Breakthrough?

Mar 18, 2021

Following exceptional results from the UK’s CheckMate-743 immunotherapy drug trial, the National Health Service (NHS) announced that it would make the new protocol available to NHS patients with the signature asbestos cancer, mesothelioma. The clinical trial treated patients with the drug Nivolumab (Opdivo) in combination with Ipilimumab (Yervoy) which worked to boost the patient’s immune system and attack the cancer. In the case of mesothelioma patient Michael Conway, his tumors shrank from 21mm and 29mm to just 5mm and he has survived two years beyond his original prognosis date; he is continuing to do well. See: NHS to offer immunotherapy treatment, after builder with asbestos cancer sees tumour shrink to 5mm.
 

Regulatory Confusion over Asbestos Waste

Mar 18, 2021

In an attempt to increase protection from occupational asbestos exposures in Japan, a new law – the revised Air Pollution Control Act (Great Defense Act) – will come into effect on April 1, 2021. Critics say that far from strengthening the regulatory regime, the new law will lead to confusion and non-compliance with laws related to asbestos waste. Regulations concerning two types of asbestos waste – “waste asbestos, etc.” and “asbestos-containing waste” – vary in their specifications for management and disposal protocols. See: 大防法改正でアスベストの廃棄物規制「緩和」へ 国のずさん対応が現場の上乗せ安全対策つぶす可能性 [Asbestos waste regulation “relaxation” due to amendment of the Great Defense Law].
 

Asbestos Disability Pensions Deadline

Mar 18, 2021

A March 31, 2021 deadline is looming for applicants wishing to submit claims for special social security disability pension benefits due to asbestos-related diseases contracted through occupational exposures in Italy. People whose conditions have been recognized by INAIL [the National Institute for Insurance against Accidents at Work] must file their claims electronically via the portal of the INPS [National Institute of Social Security]. See: Amianto, Domande entro il 31 Marzo per la pensione speciale di inabilità [Asbestos, Applications by March 31 for the special disability pension].
 

Bilateral Concerns over São Paulo Disposal

Mar 18, 2021

The disposal of a French aircraft carrier Le Foch, sold to Brazil in 2000 and renamed the São Paulo, is providing caused for concern in France as well as in Brazil over the possibility that it might be destined for a shipbreaking beach in Asia. Years ago, there was a huge furore when Le Foch’s sister ship Le Clemenceau was sent to India for scrapping. At great cost, it was eventually returned to Europe where it was scrapped according to EU laws. Both ships were constructed using materials now regarded as highly toxic, including asbestos. See: “C'était ma maison”: ils veulent sauver l’ancien porte-avions Foch d'un démantèlement [“It was my house”: desire to save the former aircraft carrier Foch from being dismantled (inappropriately)].
 

Monument to the Asbestos Dead

Mar 18, 2021

The wording and positioning of a monument to the asbestos fallen have been confirmed by the Association of Families Exposed to Asbestos (AFEA) with the municipality of La Spezia, on the north-western coast of Italy. The inscription on the commemorative plaque will be: “In memory of all the Victims, Workers and Citizens, whose lives ended prematurely because of asbestos.” The monument, which will be made of Carrara marble, will be sited in the Piazza Caduti per la libertà La Spezia [the Square of those who died for Freedom]. See: Vittime dell'amianto, ecco la lapide commemorative [Victims of asbestos, here is the commemorative plaque].
 

Posthumous Victory for José María Íñigo

Mar 17, 2021

The tortuous fight for justice by the family of Spanish TV legend José María Íñigo (see: José María Íñigo’s Last Battle) achieved a significant victory on March 16, 2021 when a Madrid Court handed down a judgment backing the family’s claim that the renowned broadcaster and journalist had died from an occupational disease contracted as a result of prolonged asbestos exposures at the Madrid studios operated by his employer: the Spanish Radio and Television Corporation (RTVE). The asbestos cancer mesothelioma which had caused his death had, the Court agreed, been caused by toxic acoustic insulation material in the studios. See: José María Íñigo murió por el amianto de RTVE: la justicia da la razón a la familia del presentador [José María Íñigo died of RTVE's asbestos: justice agrees with the presenter's family].
 

Beginning of Asbestos Phase-out

Mar 17, 2021

In 2018, an asbestos ban in Sri Lanka was overturned due to economic sanctions and political threats from Russia (see: Blackmail of Sri Lanka re Asbestos Ban). The Ministry of Environment has announced its intention to protect citizens by implementing a phase-out on asbestos use starting with a mandatory end to the use of asbestos-containing material on government buildings by the end of 2021. Asbestos material will also be banned for use in the construction of pre-school and school buildings. See: Ministry of Environment plan to set up another roofing tile industrial park associated with the huge clay deposit of Yan Oya reservoir.
 

Get Vaccinated Say Grassroots Campaigners

Mar 17, 2021

Leaders of the Brazilian Association of the Asbestos-Exposed (ABREA) are calling on their fellow citizens to follow the example of ABREA leaders Eliezer João de Souza, Doracy Maggion and Belmiro Silva dos Santos and get themselves vaccinated as a matter of urgency. Follow their example, urged the author of the blog [referenced below] and not the actions of the “moronic” Covid-19 denier President Jair Bolsonaro. See: Vítimas do assassino amianto dão exemplo: Tomam vacina contra covid e não viram jacaré [Victims of the asbestos killer set an example: They get covid vaccine and have not seen the beast].
 

Toxic Renovations Cause Concern

Mar 17, 2021

James Aylward, the Minister of Health and Wellness on Prince Edward Island (PEI), has reasserted the government’s intention to release details of a registry of students who were present while renovation work at the Three Oaks High School was carried out from 2016 until 2019 and during which “air quality did not always meet standards, and one day there were high asbestos levels.” A consultant commissioned by the government in June 2020 has been working on the compilation of a registry to track health concerns for students at the school during the renovations. More details about the registry will become known shortly. See: Details coming for Three Oaks renovation registry, minister promises.
 

Asbestos Anxiety Lawsuit against Renault

Mar 17, 2021

On March 12, 2021, 300 people met outside the Renault headquarters in the French town of Vénissieux to mark the second anniversary of the commencement of a class action brought by 1,400+ former employees against the company for asbestos anxiety. The first major verdict – which concerns 1,200 cases – is scheduled to be handed down on April 8, 2021. The second judgment – which concerns 200 cases – will be issued on April 24. All of the claimants have been supported by the local asbestos victims’ group: the Prevent and Repair Association, which was founded in 2001. See: Renault Trucks à Vénissieux: «On travaille pour vivre, pas pour mourir» [Renault Trucks: “We work to live, not to die”].
 

Asbestos in Schools

Mar 17, 2021

The presence of asbestos throughout Spain’s educational infrastructure routinely endangered the lives of more than a million students, teachers and support staff according to a new commentary. The scope of the problem remained unquantified, said the author, due to a lack of updated and comprehensive data from autonomous communities. The situation was extremely grave said María del Carmen Morillas, spokesperson for an umbrella group of associations representing parents and students: “The health of the educational community and of our children, who spend more than forty hours a week for ten months of the year within these infrastructures, are at risk.” See: El amianto de los colegios expone a un millón de niños en España [Asbestos in schools expose a million children in Spain].
 

Environmental Asbestos Exposure Research

Mar 16, 2021

The first two chapters of a special issue of the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health entitled Asbestos and Cancers: Exposure from Neighboring Factories and Mines, Contaminated Soil, and Slate Roofs have now been uploaded. The peer-reviewed papers evaluated excess lifetime cancer risk due to historic asbestos exposures in Korea and the consequences for residents of having lived near Korean asbestos mines. Nine other papers by authors in Korea and Taiwan will be uploaded in due course. See: Asbestos_CancersAsbestos and Cancers: Exposure from Neighboring Factories and Mines, Contaminated Soil, and Slate Roofs.
 

Petition Calls for Asbestos Criminal Trial

Mar 16, 2021

An online petition by a French umbrella group representing regional asbestos victims’ associations has appealed directly to the Court of Cassation (the French Supreme Court) to intervene as a matter of urgency in order to expediate the instigation of a criminal trial of decision-makers and executives guilty of causing the country’s ongoing epidemic of asbestos-related diseases. So far, the petition has been signed by 15,000 people. Former asbestos factory worker and ANDEVA board member Jean-Claude Barbé has “high hopes” that the Court of Cassation will follow a 2021 precedent set by the Paris Court of Appeal and allow the criminal case to proceed. See: Une pétition de l'Andeva pour relancer le procès de l'amiante [A petition from Andeva to relaunch asbestos trial].
 

Compulsory Asbestos Audits & Remediation

Mar 16, 2021

A new Spanish law mandating that all city councils compile lists of buildings with asbestos-containing materials and a timetable for their removal by January 1, 2023 is being finalized by the Ministry for Ecological Transition and is expected to be approved between March and April, 2021 by the Council of Ministers. Funding for the asbestos audits remediation will be sourced from two new taxes on the deposit of wastes in landfill cites and on packaging made of non-reusable plastic. See: Todos los ayuntamientos deberán censar los edificios con amianto para su retirada [All city councils must register buildings with asbestos for their removal].
 

Asbestos Crime and Punishment

Mar 16, 2021

A one year prison sentence was handed down to Paul Mouawad, an employee of the company Aussie Earthmovers, by the NSW Land and Environment Court for having faked waste disposal dockets issued for the dumping of 1,400 tonnes of waste containing asbestos. Of the 134 truckloads of asbestos-contaminated soil collected from a building site in central Sydney in June and July 2016, only one truckload was lawfully disposed of at the Elizabeth Drive Landfill at Kemps Creek. Following a separate prosecution, Aussie Earthmovers was convicted and fined $450,000 on two charges of knowingly supplying false and misleading information about the disposal of the waste in November 2020. See: Jail Sentence over Asbestos Disposal Documents Fraud.
 

Asbestos in Schools

Mar 16, 2021

A commentary on the status of asbestos in UK schools highlighted some disturbing facts including: asbestos is in 80% of all schools; the Committee of Carcinogenicity acknowledged that younger lungs were more vulnerable to asbestos; the incidence of asbestos cancer mortality was elevated amongst teachers. Despite legislation mandating measures to address this toxic situation, school officials and staff had neither the expertise nor resources to implement them; the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) did not have the capacity “to get on top of the problem.” The author concluded that to protect children, a government-led, HSE-supported nationwide drive to provide appropriate training and resources was urgently needed. See: Asbestos in Schools – A View from the Inside.
 

Northern Territory Asbestos Debris

Mar 15, 2021

A report commissioned by the Government of Australia’s Northern Territory (NT) identified widespread asbestos contamination of the land belonging to an aboriginal community living on a remote NT island. Asbestos debris was found in the Galiwin'ku community – 550 kilometers north-east of Darwin – near a church, on clifftops and in the vicinity of an arts center. Despite the extensive nature of the problem, the authorities issued statements claiming there was no need for public concern. The independent Member for Mulka, Yingyia Mark Guyula called for an information campaign in the local language and health check-ups for members of the community. See: Hundreds of asbestos pieces found across remote NT community but health risk is low, study finds.
 

Grassroots Action on Asbestos

Mar 15, 2021

A collection of public health campaigners, environmentalists and workers’ activists have formed a coalition to advocate for the eradication of the asbestos hazard from Spain. The new platform will “seek solutions to the serious problem of occupational health and public health that is far from being a priority for the Administration, and that requires urgent action.” Amongst the first initiatives of the new coalition will be the drafting of an Asbestos Eradication Act and petitions calling for financing of regional asbestos audits and eradication programs. See: Nace una plataforma para impulsar la erradicación del amianto en la Comunidad de Madrid [A platform is born to promote the eradication of asbestos in the Community of Madrid].
 

Asbestos Remediation in Schools Program

Mar 15, 2021

A budget of €345,000 (US$410,000) was allocated to remove asbestos from the last five contaminated schools in the city of Marco de Canaveses, in northern Portugal. The work was financed by a government grant under the Economic and Social Stability Program. The schools which were scheduled for remediation included: Freita (Marco), Outeiro (Constance), Alpendorada, Casal (São Lourenço do Douro) and Cabo (Maureles). According to Mayor Cristina Vieira: “When, in July 2020, the Government launched the financing program for the removal of asbestos, Marco de Canaveses was prepared to seize the opportunity.” See: Escolas de Marco de Canaveses prestes a ficar sem amianto [Marco de Canaveses schools about to become asbestos free].
 

New Asbestos Awareness Resources

Mar 15, 2021

A collaborative effort in British Colombia (B.C.) by representatives from private enterprise, industry, trade unions and WorkSafeBC – “a provincial agency dedicated to promoting safe and healthy workplaces across B.C.” – has produced new asbestos awareness training courses which will be launched this Summer. The seven modules, claimed to be the first of their kind in Canada, are collectively referred to as the Asbestos Competency Training Program and represent an $825,000 investment. Commenting on the program, executive director Mike McKenna said: “The third wave is coming and we are doing everything we can to make people take it seriously.” See: BCCSA readies launch of ground-breaking asbestos awareness courses this summer.
 

KwaZulu-Natal Asbestos Eradication

Mar 15, 2021

As part of an R16.3-billion (US$1bn) upgrade of the infrastructure of the South African Province of KwaZulu-Natal R66-million (US$4.3m) has been allocated toward “the eradication of asbestos roofs in all provincial clinics and community health centres. A further amount of R52.3-million (US$3.5m) will be used to eradicate asbestos and to undertake waterproofing projects for Grey’s Hospital, Umgeni Hospital, RK Khan Hospital, Northdale Hospital, Vryheid Hospital, and the Mayor’s Walk Central Supply Depot.” See: KwaZulu-Natal allocates R16.3-bln to building and upgrading infrastructure.
 

Spain’s Toxic Asbestos Legacy

Mar 15, 2021

A recent commentary considered the repercussions of the “half-baked asbestos ban” which existed in Spain and left workers in danger of toxic exposures from asbestos-containing material still in place. The situation now is, said one expert: “much more dangerous because no one takes the slightest precaution in the handling [of asbestos].” The author of the text cited several instances of workers seeking compensation for the negligence of former employers, including the high-profile case of the Spanish TV broadcaster José María Iñigo who had worked in an asbestos-insulated TV studio for decades. See: Amianto, ¿hasta cuándo? [Asbestos, until when?].
 

Asbestos in Schools

Mar 11, 2021

On March 9, 2021, results of asbestos air concentration tests in 14 classrooms in Seoul which are being remediated confirmed that work was being conducted safely as per specification of the Asbestos Safety Management Act of the Ministry of Environment. The Korean Government asbestos program has a 2027 deadline to remove asbestos from all schools in order to create a “safe educational environment.” To protect school users from possible exposures, all asbestos remediation work is carried out during school vacations. See: 전국 학교 '석면' 제거 공사 진행은 잘되가나? [Is the national school 'asbestos' removal work going well?].
 

Future for Iconic Aircraft Carrier

Mar 11, 2021

Brazil’s Ministry of Defense is again trying to sell the iconic aircraft carrier, the São Paulo after previous attempts to off-load the vessel had been unsuccessful. Disposal of the ship is not without controversy as it is contaminated with 700 tonnes of asbestos, which require careful handling to protect workers and local people from toxic exposures. A letter from the Brazilian Association of the Asbestos-Exposed (ABREA) warned Minister Fernando Azevedo e Silva that amongst the companies participating in the auction is one which represents “the interests of a shipyard located on the beaches of South Asia…where it is impossible to contain pollution...” See: Meio ambiente: Um porta-aviões brasileiro que pode poluir as praias do sul da Ásia [Environment: A Brazilian aircraft carrier that can pollute the beaches of South Asia].
 

Asbestos Exposé: Sardinia Scandal

Mar 11, 2021

An investigative exposé uploaded to the internet on Sunday March 7, 2021 detailed the clandestine journey of asbestos debris from Northern and Central Italy to Sardinia on the vessel Maria Grazia Onorato which docked on March 4 at the commercial port of Cagliari. The 20,000 tonnes of toxic waste were conveyed along public roads to the Carbonia landfill in open white sacks at the mercy of air currents and movement of the trucks, with no attempts made to protect drivers or bystanders from hazardous exposures. TV cameramen filming the disposal of the waste at the site were threatened. Despite Sardinian regulations banning the export of waste to the island, the dump remains open for business. See: Veleni: sottoterra l'amianto del Nord Italia [Poisons: asbestos underground from Northern Italy].
 

Johnson & Johnson: Collateral Damage

Mar 11, 2021

An article in Newsweek highlighted the knock-on effect of the reputational damage suffered by Johnson & Johnson (J&J) as a result of the thousands of lawsuits the company is facing over asbestos contamination of its talc-based baby powder on public concern over the safety of J&J’s one-shot vaccine, approved for use on February 27, 2021. The negative perception of the brand was, said the article, helping “drive vaccine alarmism and skepticism.” Social media was awash with postings pointing out that the new vaccine had been produced by the same company that had sold carcinogenic baby powder. See: Johnson & Johnson's Talc Lawsuits Are Fueling Skepticism of its COVID Vaccine.
 

Another Railway Death!

Mar 11, 2021

The Emilia-Romagna branch of the Italian asbestos victims’ support group AFeVA reported the asbestos cancer death of Mauro Roda on March 4, 2021, four years after his illness had been diagnosed. During his employment in the Electrical Systems Division of the State Railways in Bologna from 1970 to 1996, Mr. Roda had routinely been exposed to asbestos on the equipment and in the tunnels and structures along the railway tracks. As a result, he contracted mesothelioma, the signature cancer associated with exposure to asbestos. See: Continua la strage dell’amianto [The asbestos massacre continues].
 

Asbestos in Schools

Mar 11, 2021

Details of asbestos exposures which took place at a Brisbane High School in 2020 have been made public; students and teachers had been on site when a contractor released asbestos fibers into the air when repairing the school’s ceiling and walls. It took seven weeks before officials at Sunnybank State High School closed off contaminated areas and notified parents of the incident. Teachers are calling on Education Minister Ignazia Graziella Grace to investigate claims that they had been intimidated and forced to cover-up the breach of health and safety regulations. See: Teachers, students exposed to asbestos at Sunnybank State High School amid ‘disturbing reports’ of teachers writing in dust.
 

Construction Workers Outreach Program

Mar 9, 2021

On March 6, 2021, there was a free phone consultation service for Japanese construction workers who had been occupationally exposed to asbestos. The service was offered by legal advisors in the aftermath of a recent Supreme Court decision denouncing the Japanese Government’s culpability for failing to act on the asbestos hazard in a timely manner. Commenting on this outreach initiative, lawyer Toshihiko Tsukuda explained that many construction workers who got sick did not understand that their condition might have been caused by workplace exposures to asbestos materials. See: 建設現場でのアスベスト健康被害 無料の電話相談 [Free telephone consultation for asbestos health hazards at construction sites].
 

Asbestos Disposal in Italy

Mar 9, 2021

Under cover of darkness, a ship loaded with hundreds of tonnes of asbestos waste from northern Italy arrived at the Sardinian port of Cagliari on March 4, 2021 with its illegal cargo destined for the Sulcis landfill. There were no inspections at the docks and no measures taken to protect those unloading or transporting the dangerous shipment. The export of the hazardous waste was carried out despite a total ban on importing such material to the island. Commenting on this situation, the author of the article cited below said: “…the Italian waste lobby considers Sardinia a real open-air dump for very dangerous poisons.” See: Amianto killer, nella notte lo sbarco nell'Isola [Asbestos killer, landed under the cover of darkness on island].
 

Legal Attack on Libby’s Medical Clinic

Mar 9, 2021

In February, 2021, the federal government decided it would not intervene in a lawsuit being brought by BNSF Railway Co. against the Center for Asbestos Related Disease (CARD) in Libby, Montana which alleged that the nonprofit clinic committed Medicare fraud by using federal grants to perform “unnecessary” check-ups and treatments on patients. Alas, CARD is no stranger to legal attacks: “Like W.R. Grace tried in the past, BNSF is using this lawsuit to try to prevent CARD from screening and treating individuals exposed in Libby for asbestos-related diseases.” The clinic must respond to the lawsuit by April 23. See: Feds steer clear of BNSF suit against CARD clinic.
 

Asbestos Precedent for Landmark Ruling

Mar 9, 2021

A commentary by Pascale Braun considered the importance of a 2021 court ruling in the case of 726 former coal miners from the Lorraine region of France who received €10,000 compensation from the Douai Court of Appeal for fear of contracting a fatal disease due to hazardous workplace exposures. This verdict was based on a precedent set by a 2019 Supreme Court verdict which had awarded compensation to workers suffering from anxiety but no actual physical symptoms due to workplace asbestos exposures. According to the judgment, all people exposed to carcinogens at work had the right to be compensated for such anxiety. See: Santé au travail: ce que change le préjudice d'anxiété [Occupational health: what changes the prejudice of anxiety].
 

Advisory on Human Rights and Pollution

Mar 9, 2021

A publication uploaded recently by the UN Environment Programme and the UN Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner – Human Rights and Hazardous Substances – stated: “Pollution is the largest source of premature death in the developing world…” and that: “Those responsible for the harmful impacts of hazardous substances must be held legally accountable through the application of human rights laws, norms and standards.” Though not mentioned specifically, asbestos was there by implication: “States should take steps to permanently eliminate the use of hazardous substances wherever possible and to minimise their use, prevent exposure and risks, and safely dispose of them where necessary in conformity with their obligations under international law.” See: Human Rights and Hazardous Substances.
 

Politicians Attack Victims’ Rights

Mar 9, 2021

Three draft pieces of proposed legislation – House Bills 638, 639 and 687 – targeting asbestos- and silica-exposure lawsuits, which would shield defendants from third-party liabilities, are being considered by the Georgia State General Assembly. Collectively, the legislation would, as of May 1, 2021, impose onerous burdens on claimants that would require the disclosure of sensitive information, detailed historical data and legal strategies. Unsurprisingly, the three politicians co-sponsoring these bills are Republicans. See: Bartow legislators back slate of bills targeting asbestos lawsuits.
 

Asbestos Cargo Seized!

Mar 8, 2021

On Friday, March 5, 2021 a shipment of 459 tonnes of asbestos was seized by the Health Surveillance Authority at the port of Santos on the south coast of São Paulo. The action was taken following a letter from Brazil’s Public Ministry of Labor (MPT) which had cited State law No. 12,684 (2007) prohibiting asbestos use in the State of São Paulo. The MPT had been alerted to the illegal shipping operation by the Brazilian Association of the Asbestos-Exposed: ABREA. The cargo had originated at the Sama Minerações Associadas asbestos mine in Minaçu and was destined for export to Asian countries. See: Carga com mais de 400 t de amianto é apreendida no Porto de Santos; substância é proibida no Brasil [Cargo with more than 400 tons of asbestos is seized at the Port of Santos; substance is banned in Brazil].
 

Investigation of Talc Testing Methods

Mar 8, 2021

On March 4, 2021, India’s National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) issued a summons to the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) and the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) over the lack of uniformity and standardization in testing for the presence of asbestos and formaldehyde in Johnson & Johnson’s talcum powder and baby shampoo respectively. The NCPCR, a statutory body under the Ministry of Women and Child Development, ordered the DCGI to appear before it on March 12 to explain why the CDSCO has not regulated the standards and uniformity in the testing methods used by accredited laboratories in India. See: “No uniform test for cancer-causing substances in J&J baby products” – drug regulator summoned.
 

Asbestos at the Shipyards

Mar 8, 2021

Having recognized that toxic exposures at the Navantia Ferrol shipyard caused a worker’s asbestos-related illness, Social Court Number 7 in Bilboa ordered that his former employer IZAR Naval Construction pay him compensation of €216,459 (US$260,000). From age 24 to 61 J.R.S. had handled asbestos-containing products to connect pipes, and installed insulation on vessels constructed at the shipyard. He was diagnosed in 1988 with bilateral pleural thickening, calcified plaques, and lung adenocarcinoma. See: Condenan a Izar Construcciones Navales a indemnizar con 216.459 euros a un trabajador que enfermó por amianto [IZAR Naval Construction sentenced to pay compensation of 216,459 euros to a worker who fell ill from asbestos (exposure)].
 

Asbestos Medical Program

Mar 8, 2021

As of March, 2021, free medical check-ups for 650 individuals who had lived near the asbestos factory in Busan City will be available to ensure detection of abnormalities or diseases related to environmental asbestos exposures at a cost to the City of 136 million won ($US121,000). Its acting mayor Lee Byeong-jin says: “we plan to actively expand health impact investigations targeting local residents who are concerned about asbestos damage so that asbestos disease can be quickly discovered and treated.” Previously, the City had provided free medical screening for residents in other municipal asbestos hotspots. See: 산시, 석면피해 의심 주민 대상 ‘찾아가는 무료건강검진’ 실시 [Free health check-ups for residents suspected of asbestos exposures in Busan].
 

Happy Birthday to Asbestos Campaigner!

Mar 8, 2021

AFeVA, the Italian asbestos action group based in Casale Monferrato, marked the 92nd birthday of its honorary President Romana Blasotti Pavesi on March 3. As the President of AFeVA for 30 years, Romana spearheaded a three-pronged strategy calling for remediation, research and restitution, part of which included legal action against the Swiss billionaire Stephen Schmidheiny who has been convicted in multiple Italian jurisdictions over his role in Italy’s epidemic of asbestos mortality. (For more about the work of this formidable campaigner see: In Appreciation of Romana Blasotti Pavesia.)
See: Auguri Romana [Greetings Romana].
 

Addressing Spain’s Asbestos Legacy

Mar 8, 2021

Public advocacy groups in Spain are stepping up their campaign for a Comprehensive Asbestos Law with recent petitions to the country’s President Pedro Sánchez and the Government calling for urgent measures to be taken to address the toxic legacy caused by decades of asbestos use. As products containing asbestos deteriorate due to use and weathering, toxic fibers are being liberated in public buildings, including schools and hospitals, as well as in private houses. Unless a remediation strategy is implemented as part of a comprehensive national plan, many more Spaniards will die from avoidable asbestos-related diseases, say health experts. See: Expertos instan al Presidente Pedro Sánchez que aborde urgente una Ley Integral del Amianto [Experts press President Pedro Sánchez to address a Comprehensive Asbestos Law].
 

Illegal Asbestos Exports Condemned

Mar 5, 2021

On March 2, the Brazilian Association of the Asbestos-Exposed (ABREA) denounced the illegal shipment of asbestos cargo from the SAMA asbestos mine in Minaçu to the São Paulo port of Santos saying that as per a 2007 State Law and a 2017 Supreme Court decision the production, transport and export of asbestos had been banned. On Tuesday, 10 trucks carrying 340 tonnes of asbestos left the mine. ABREA alerted the: Santos Port Guard Superintendence, São Paulo Sanitary Surveillance Center, Public Ministry of Labor and Highway Police of the State of São Paulo of these activities. See: ABREA denuncia: Sama afronta de novo o STF, tenta exportar 340 toneladas de amianto [ABREA denounces: Sama contravenes the STF again, tries to export 340 tons of asbestos].
 

Justice for Asbestos Victims

Mar 5, 2021

An article in the independent French online investigative journal Médiapart discussed a petition launched by French asbestos victims calling for a major criminal trial to hold decision-makers and executives to account for their role in the national asbestos disaster caused by their actions. The petitioners are asking the Attorney General at the Court of Cassation (Supreme Court/SC), François Molins, to prioritize a hearing of an appeal to the SC made by the prosecution to a January 20, 2021 SC annulment of a lower Court’s dismissal of charges against company officers. See: Les victimes de l'amiante appellent "en urgence absolue" à un grand procès pénal [Asbestos victims call “in absolute urgency” for a major criminal trial].
 

Protecting Minors from the Asbestos Hazard

Mar 5, 2021

On March 15, 2021, Vietnamese Circular 09/2020 / TT-BLDTBXH updating the Labor Code on young workers will come into effect. The new guidelines – which are designed to protect people under 18 from detrimental exposures that could affect their physical, mental and personality development – bans minors from employment in hazardous workplaces, including those at which asbestos is handled or processed. See: 6 nơi làm việc gây hại cho sự phát triển của người dưới 18 tuổi [6 workplaces that are detrimental to the development of people under the age of 18].
 

Parliament Debates Mesothelioma Scheme

Mar 5, 2021

On the afternoon of March 2, 2021, there was a one-hour debate in the House of Commons on the Mesothelioma Lump Sum Payments (Conditions and Amounts) (Amendment) Regulations 2021. The motion to approve the regulations was approved after an informative debate by MPs who raised pertinent issues. Amongst the Parliamentarians to take part were MPs: Vicky Foxcroft, Chris Stephens, Stephen Timms, Martin Docherty-Hughes, Wendy Chamberlain, Beth Winter, Kim Johnson, Christine Jardine and Jim Shannon. During the debate, tribute was paid to asbestos victims support groups in Scotland and England including Clydeside Action on Asbestos, Clydebank Asbestos Group and the Merseyside Asbestos Victims Support Group. See: Hansard. Parliamentary Debate. March 2, 2021.
 

Eternit Update: Post-Asbestos Profits

Mar 5, 2021

The financial results released on March 2, 2021 by Brazil’s former asbestos giant Eternit S.A. continued to show a healthy profit and high stockholder confidence since the company transitioned to asbestos-free technology. In 2020, the company’s shares rose 200%, making it the best performing stock on BOVESPA, the Brazilian stock market. Reflecting on Eternit’s good news, it’s President Luis Augusto Barbosa explained: “A combination of very positive factors favored us. The company's restructuring process, with the replacement of asbestos since 2017, is bearing fruit.” See: Sem amianto e com telha solar, Eternit retoma confiança do investidor [Asbestos-free and with solar tile, investor confidence in Eternit resumes].
 

Asbestos Remediation of Hospitals

Mar 5, 2021

Authorities in the Marche Region, on the east coast of Italy, have allocated €650,000 to remove asbestos from specific sections of designated hospitals in the cities of Petritoli, Montegranaro and Montegiorgio. This work is part of a coordinated program for 21 hospitals and health facilities in the region. Commissioner Baldelli explained that: “the financing of these interventions in the area have been subject to specific priorities and criteria that have taken into consideration health and hospital structures that consider the use of these structures throughout the whole day.” See: Amianto negli ospedali: piano per rimuoverlo [Asbestos in hospitals: plan to remove it].
 

Asbestos Justice

Mar 4, 2021

Asbestos victims’ groups, trade unions and civil society campaigners have issued a petition calling “for a criminal asbestos trial to finally take place in France” to hold negligent employers, civil servants and others to account for the slaughter that has resulted from their decisions. The petitioners appealed to the Attorney General at the Court of Cassation Mr. François Molins to act expeditiously to bring this appeal before the criminal chamber as a matter of utmost urgency, saying this was a “quest for justice and truth” for the asbestos injured and their families. See: Justice pour les victimes de l’amiante [Justice for asbestos victims].
 

Volcanoes and Asbestos

Mar 4, 2021

A curious article on a Russian language website extolled the virtues of asbestos materials – citing “the incredible characteristics of asbestos” – for those who may need to research active volcano sites in light of the March 1, 2021 lava breakthrough on the Klyuchevskoy volcano in northern Kamchatka, in Russia’s Far East. Asbestos shoes and cloth were used with some success in 1938 by scientists exploring that 20th century eruption. The author of this text made no mention that since that time, technology has evolved and asbestos-free products are available for use by the volcanologists. See: Вулканология, дрейф на лаве и спецснаряжение: асбестовые башмаки для рекорда [Volcanology, lava drift and special gear: asbestos shoes for the record].
 

Illegal Dumping of UK Ships

Mar 4, 2021

The BBC has reported the scrapping on Indian shipbreaking beaches of two UK cruise ships. At least 13 other UK ships had been similarly disposed of in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh since the start of last year, according to an investigation conducted by the TV program: File on 4. Despite protocols prohibiting the transnational dumping of toxic waste, ships acquired by cash buyers routinely wind up on the unregulated recycling beaches of south Asia. Workers have few, if any, rights and no protection from the toxins including asbestos which are on board the vessels. See: UK cruise ships scrapped in India's 'ship graveyard'.
 

Deadly Asbestos Legacy

Mar 4, 2021

It has been estimated that 40 million tonnes of asbestos-containing material remain incorporated within the Italian infrastructure – including 2,400 schools used by 350,000 pupils and 50,000 teachers – despite decades of work to address the contamination. In asbestos hotspots – like the Milan suburb of Sesto San Giovanni where two asbestos factories had been located – two members of the local asbestos defence committee were buried in one week. Gianfranco Rizzieri died from the asbestos cancer peritoneal mesothelioma; he had never worked with asbestos but lived near asbestos-processing factories. The other deceased was Franco Zanon, aged 61. See: Sesto, in una settimana due morti d'amianto [Sixth, two asbestos deaths in one week].
 

Asbestos at the Beach

Mar 4, 2021

Sydneysiders have been warned about the presence of asbestos fragments washed up on Little Bay Beach by Randwick Council. The authorities plan to close the beach for two weeks in April in order for an investigation to take place. According to news reports, 1,000 fragments of toxic debris have been washed up on this New South Wales tourist spot since August 2020. Although the Council warned that caution should be taken when handling rocks or shells at the beach, it said that the situation was, according to expert opinion, “not an unacceptable risk public safety.” See: Picturesque beach in Sydney's east will be closed for two weeks as 1000 pieces of material containing asbestos is collected on the sandy shores.
 

Toxic Talc

Mar 4, 2021

A damning review of the talc industry’s role in blocking US regulations on cosmetic talc from the 1970s until today presented evidence of how the industry was able to influence: government agencies’ regulatory proceedings; the adoption of testing methods and the disclosure of test results; the nature of press coverage and medical publications. As a result of this manipulation, the industry’s assertion since 1976 that talc was asbestos-free remained unchallenged for decades. The prioritization of corporate profits over public health had disastrous consequences. See: A Review of the Talc Industry’s Influence on Federal Regulation and Scientific Standards for Asbestos in Talc.
 

Supporting Brazilian Asbestos Ban

Mar 3, 2021

The Constitutional Law Commission of the Brazilian Lawyers Institute (IAB) issued a report on February 24, 2021 upholding claims that a law passed in 2019 by Goiás State allowing the commercial exploitation of asbestos, which was in contravention of a 2017 Supreme Court ruling, was unconstitutional and therefore invalid. The IAB has requested that the Supreme Court allow the IAB to act as an amicus curiae in a legal action by the Association of Labor Attorneys disputing the constitutionality of Goiás Law 20,514 / 2019. See: Para o IAB, lei de Goiás que permite a extração de amianto é inconstitucional [For the IAB, the Goiás law that allows for the extraction of asbestos is unconstitutional].
 

No Asbestos Dumping Here!

Mar 3, 2021

Since February 20, 2021 local people have been ratcheting up efforts to defeat plans to construct a waste landfill dumpsite in Mont-Saint-Vincent, a commune in eastern France, that would accept asbestos debris at the Rougeot company’s Bourgueuil quarry. The objectors are pursuing multiples strategies including requests to the municipality to obtain a copy of the agreement between the town and the quarry company and research to examine the local urban plan for pertinent regulatory protocols that might be used to block this development. An afternoon rally is planned for March 13 at the Théâtre de Verdure. See: Mont-Saint-Vincent – L’amiante galvanise les opposants [Mont-Saint-Vincent – Asbestos galvanizes opponents].
 

Streamlining Social Security Claims Process

Mar 3, 2021

Circular Number 37/2021 dated February 24, 2021 of the Istituto Nazionale della Previdenza Sociale (Italy’s National Institute of Social Security – INPS) concerning social security benefits for asbestos-exposed workers formerly employed in the industrial sector producing railway rolling stock, set out a specific timetable with mandatory deadlines for the processing of claims “to speed up the assessment times connected to the social security benefits.” See: Pensioni, Tempi certi per il riconoscimento dei benefici previdenziali per l'amianto [Pensions, Certain times for the recognition of social security benefits for asbestos].
 

Exposing Asbestos Defendants’ Lies

Mar 3, 2021

An article by US Professor Arthur Frank and German medical expert Professor Xaver Baur detailed how asbestos vested interests – including parties which mined asbestos fiber, industries which processed it, insurance companies and defendant corporations – promoted misinformation to create doubt so that profits could continue and compensation claims could be rejected despite the undeniable fact that exposure to all types of asbestos can be lethal to workers as well as to members of the public. The authors warned that the lobbying by vested interests necessitated that scientific bodies, decision makers and others should ensure that accurate information on the asbestos hazard was disseminated in a timely fashion. See: Ongoing downplaying of the carcinogenicity of chrysotile asbestos by vested interests.
 

National Asbestos Legacy

Mar 3, 2021

A February 25, 2021 commentary in the online version of Clarin – the largest newspaper in Argentina – described the properties of asbestos fibers and the multiple diseases caused by exposures such as mesothelioma, lung cancer, asbestosis etc. The text highlighted the presence of products containing asbestos throughout national infrastructures, including within the: Buenos Aires subway system, Buenos Aires built environment and iconic Montparnasse Tower in Paris. See: Enemigo silencioso, Amianto: qué es y qué enfermedades suele provocar [Silent enemy. Asbestos: what is it and what diseases does it usually cause].
 

Asbestos Water Delivery Systems

Mar 3, 2021

At article by Julian Branch which was uploaded on February 17, 2021 to the website of the Safe Drinking Water Foundation addressed the issue of the ingestion of asbestos caused by the delivery of water via asbestos-cement pipes and concluded that: “All of the experts, and all of the studies, say that the older the asbestos cement pipes get, the worse the problem will get. It is time for Canada, and other countries, to take a hard look at the ‘evidence,’ and regulate asbestos in water.” See: Asbestos Cement Water Pipes and the Potential Risk of Ingested Asbestos.
 

European Asbestos Consultation

Feb 25, 2021

A submission by the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) to the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) consultation on occupational exposure limits for asbestos highlighted the widespread discrepancies in protection against toxic workplace exposures in different EU countries, the high levels of asbestos-related diseases amongst construction, renovation and demolition workers, and the lack of asbestos awareness amongst younger workers. See: ETUC response to the first stage consultation with the social partners under Article 154 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, on the protection of workers from risks related to exposure to chemical agents at work and to asbestos. See: https://www.etuc.org/en/document/etuc-response-first-stage-consultation-social-partners-under-article-154-treaty.
 

Asbestos in Philadelphia’s Schools

Feb 25, 2021

Earlier this week, Pennsylvania (PA) State Representative Elizabeth Fiedler and PA State Senator Vincent Hughes tabled proposals to address the hazardous conditions of PA’s schools, including the presence of weathered and aging asbestos-containing products. Fiedler told reporters: “For generations, our educators, students and school staff have been sent into buildings where they could get brain damage because of chipped paint or cancer because of exposed asbestos… To call this appalling is an understatement.” Amongst the measures proposed were grants for emergency repairs to make schools safe by remediating asbestos and other sources of contamination. See: Fiedler unveils plan to repair hazardous public schools in PA.
 

Construction Workers’ Victory

Feb 25, 2021

On February 22, 2021, Judge Takuya Fukayama of the Japanese Supreme Court dismissed most of the appeals by the government and building material manufacturers against a 2018 Osaka High Court plaintiffs’ verdict which awarded compensation to construction workers from the Kansai region who had contracted asbestos-related diseases as a result of failures by the defendants to safeguard occupational health. On February 25, the Court held hearings on claims by Tokyo construction workers; in March and April hearings will be held for Kyoto and Osaka workers, respectively. See: 建設アスベスト大阪訴訟 国とメーカーの賠償責任確定 最高裁 [Construction Asbestos Proceedings, National and Manufacturer Liability Confirmation in Supreme Court].
 

Brazil’s Asbestos Legacy

Feb 25, 2021

In a February 22, 2021 interview on the popular radio program “Viva Maria” with broadcaster Mara Régia, Fernanda Giannasi – leader of the ban asbestos struggle in Latin America and founder of the Brazilian Association of the Asbestos Exposed – explained that the iconic Hollywood star Steve McQueen had died, like many Brazilian workers, of the asbestos cancer, mesothelioma. An exhibition to mark McQueen’s 90th birthday is now being held at the Cultural Center of the Bank of Brazil. Ms. Giannasi criticized the Governor of Goiás State Ronaldo Caiado – a medical doctor as well as a politician – who passed a law allowing the commercial exploitation of asbestos in contravention of a Supreme Court ruling. See: Em cartaz no Viva Maria: “Amianto, a fibra assassina” [On air in Viva Maria: “Asbestos, the killer fiber”].
 

Justice Delayed, is Justice Denied!

Feb 25, 2021

Another delay has beset legal proceedings brought by asbestos victims from Cherbourg against their former employer the Naval Group – formerly known as Direction des Constructions Navales or DCNS. The plaintiffs had appealed a January 8, 2019 dismissal by an investigating judge of criminal charges against DCN. An appeal scheduled to be heard in November, 2020 was postponed. Appeal proceedings due to begin this week were delayed by the Paris Court of Appeal. According to a spokesperson for the victims, the criminal case against DCN-Cherbourg dates back to 2005. See: Dossier amiante à DCN Cherbourg: les victimes vont devoir (encore) attendre [Asbestos case at DCN Cherbourg: the victims will have to wait (again)].
 

Unions Urge Stringent Action on Asbestos

Feb 24, 2021

Input from trade unions to the EU consultation on the revision of the Asbestos at Work Directive 2009/148/EC and the Chemical Agents Directive 98/24/EC has called on the European Commission to lower the occupation exposure limit for asbestos in all EU Member States from 0.1 fibres/cm³ to 0.001 fibres/cm³ as part of a comprehensive plan to eradicate asbestos throughout the EU. In addition, the unions recommended, that an inventory of buildings containing asbestos be established for each European country. Every year, 47,000 people die in the EU from occupational cancer deaths. See: Unions call for updated limit values for asbestos and lead derivatives.
 

Processing Asbestos Waste after Ban

Feb 24, 2021

Under a new 30-year contract signed between the Ministry of Mining and owners of Colombia’s former asbestos mine (Antioquia), operations at the site will transition from mining asbestos to processing decades of asbestos mining waste to reclaim valuable minerals. According to Jorge Alberto Jaramillo, Secretary of Mines of the department of Antioquia: “It [Antioquia] is the first reconversion mine to be established in Colombia.” Initially, 200 jobs will be created at the mine, with more direct and indirect jobs to be created in the future. See: De amianto a talco, así transita la mina de Campamento, Antioquia, luego de la prohibición del asbesto en Colombia [From asbestos to talc, this is how the Campamento mine, Antioquia, transitions after the ban on asbestos in Colombia].
 

Toxic Talc

Feb 24, 2021

The US Pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson has set aside $3.9 billion for litigation expenses in 2020 “primarily associated with talc-related reserves and certain settlements.” The company is facing 25,000 US lawsuits over sales of its iconic baby powder which was alleged to be contaminated with carcinogenic asbestos fibers that caused cases of mesothelioma, ovarian cancer, and lung cancer. The reserves are almost double the previous $2.1bn estimate for talc litigation. The company was ordered by a NY State Judge to pay $120m compensation to a Brooklyn couple in November 2020. See: Johnson & Johnson sets aside almost $4 billion for talc verdict, filing shows.
 

Asbestos Legacy

Feb 24, 2021

The lack of action by the Spanish Government on the presence of asbestos throughout the country has been condemned by critics in an article which cited a 2032 EU deadline for the eradication of asbestos contamination. The human health hazard posed by asbestos exposures began long before Covid-19 was ever heard of and will endure for decades without a program to remediate Spain’s infrastructure. A recent report sent to Parliament by the Spanish Society of Pulmonology and Thoracic Surgery warned that 130,000 asbestos deaths could occur by 2050 if the status quo persisted. The report endorsed recommendations for a Comprehensive Asbestos Law to meet the multiple challenges created by asbestos. See: Amianto, la pandemia silenciosa [Asbestos, the silent pandemic].
 

Progress: Ending Investment in Asbestos

Feb 24, 2021

The text of a Decree adopted earlier this month (February 2021) by the Government of Vietnam can be accessed at the online link noted below. While the bulk of the text related to improving the quality of materials and practices for the construction industry, key provisions will adversely impact on the functioning of the country’s asbestos sector. The Prime Minister stipulated plans to transition from asbestos-based to asbestos-free technology, and encouraged the limitation of investment in the expansion of the asbestos industry. In addition, the Decree lowered permissible levels of occupational asbestos exposures. See: Nghị định 09/2021/NĐ-CP về quản lý vật liệu xây dựng [Decree 09/2021 / ND-CP on management of building materials].
 

Decree Introduces Asbestos Restrictions

Feb 23, 2021

An article from a Vietnamese website detailed the release by the Government of Decree 09/2021/ND-CP on the management of building materials. Under provisions which regulated the use and quality of construction materials, the Decree introduced new mandatory provisions phasing-out the use of chrysotile (white) asbestos for roofing and tightening occupational asbestos exposure levels. In addition, new measures will be implemented that could affect the asbestos industrial sector, such as controls on the reuse and dumping of toxic waste. The Prime Minister stipulated that a roadmap to limit new investment and prevent expansion of asbestos roofing manufacturing be developed. See: Quy định về chất lượng vật liệu xây dựng [Regulations on quality of building materials].
 

Third Wave of Asbestos Deaths

Feb 23, 2021

Predictions that the incidence of asbestos-related mortality in the USA would decline after the introduction of regulations in the 1970s have proved to be “overly optimistic.” Based on the number of cases of asbestos cancer being diagnosed in people under 55 years old, experts concluded that “inhalation exposure to asbestos is still ongoing.” These cases, which are part of the “third wave” of asbestos-related diseases, are mostly contracted by construction and demolition workers, roofers, carpenters, plumbers, shipbuilders and industry workers. See: Third Wave of Asbestos Disease Impacts America’s Workers.
 

Asbestos in Schools: Update

Feb 23, 2021

On February 22, 2021, work was begun under a €350,000 scheme implemented by the Guimarães City Council to replace asbestos-cement roofing in 7 local schools. According to a statement from the authorities in Guimarães, with the completion of the final phase of the local schools’ program, asbestos roofing will have been removed from all nineteen of the schools in Braga City. At the end of 2020, the Portuguese Parliament was told that a budget of €78.7+ million had been allocated to remove asbestos from educational institutions throughout the country. See: Câmara de Guimarães substitui amianto em sete escolas básicas [Guimarães Chamber replaces asbestos in seven basic schools].
 

Relief for Construction Workers

Feb 23, 2021

In the aftermath of several court decisions, including two by the Supreme Court, the Japanese Government has announced plans to set up a compensation scheme for construction workers with asbestos-related illnesses to enable them to obtain vital support without recourse to protracted legal proceedings. The details of the fund were discussed at a meeting on February 18th which was organized by officials from The Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare. Claimants are lobbying for the establishment of a system funded by contributions from the government and building material manufacturers. See: 建設アスベスト 被害者救済へ 厚労省が補償制度の創設検討着手 [Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare to consider a compensation system for victims of construction asbestos].
 

Asbestos Anxiety: Another Victory!

Feb 23, 2021

Last week, the Paris Court of Appeal ordered that the cases of 21 power station workers for asbestos anxiety be recognized and that their former employer pay them €10,000 each. The plaintiffs had been employed by the state majority-owned company: Électricité de France (EDF) at its plant in Porcheville, north-central France. The litigants, whose case had been dismissed by a lower court, were supported by the CGT trade union and the National Association for the Defence of Asbestos Victims (ANDEVA). It is not yet known whether the company will appeal this verdict. See: Yvelines. Amiante: la justice reconnaît le préjudice d'anxiété des agents de la centrale EDF de Porcheville [Yvelines. Asbestos: justice recognizes the prejudice of anxiety of agents of the EDF power plant in Porcheville].
 

Asbestos Diseases and Covid-19

Feb 23, 2021

Two opposition politicians from north-eastern Italy are calling for people with asbestos-related diseases to be given priority under the Italian Covid-19 vaccination program due to the fact that the functioning of their lungs was likely to be compromised by the presence of asbestos fibers. In a public statement, Paolo Fogar and Diego Moretti asked Regional health officials to expedite the treatment of this cohort of individuals. See: Priorità a esposti amianto nelle vaccinazioni Covid È la richiesta del Pd [Priority to asbestos exposed in Covid vaccinations This is the request of the Democratic Party].
 

Progress: Asbestos Update

Feb 22, 2021

Decree No. 09/2021 / ND-CP On building materials management was issued on February 9, 2021 by the Government of Vietnam. The Decree encouraged “the use of fibers to replace asbestos in roofing production” and – by an order of the Prime Minister – stipulated that “a roadmap to limit new investment or expand asbestos roofing manufacturing facilities” be developed. As the vast majority of asbestos fiber imported to Vietnam is used for the manufacture of asbestos roofing, this decree is a clear indication of the Government’s intention to end asbestos use in the near future. See: Tăng cường quản lý chất lượng vật liệu xây dựng [Strengthen quality management of building materials].
 

Asbestos Health Warnings

Feb 22, 2021

At a February 18 conference in the capital city of Laos to discuss the National Strategy for the Elimination of Asbestos-Related Diseases (2018-2030) and National Action Plan (2018-2022), Minister of Health Associate Prof. Dr Bounkong Syhavong, issued a warning regarding the public health danger posed by 16 asbestos factories currently operating in the country. Dr Bounkong said: “I think the best way to eliminate the risk of asbestos-related diseases is to stop the use of asbestos in these 16 factories. Other materials can be used instead, such as polyurethane foam, flour fillers, cellulose fibres, thermoset plastic flour and amorphous silica.” The objective of the meeting was to build capacity to implement a plan to eradicate asbestos-related diseases in Laos. See: Over 500 workers at risk of asbestos-related diseases.
 

Asbestos in Schools: Helpful Advice

Feb 22, 2021

An informative commentary highlighted the presence of asbestos contamination throughout UK schools and provided useful resources and links for concerned individuals, including advice for dealing with contractors and tradespeople. The author recommended that: “Staff, pupils, students and their parents or carers should be given relevant information to help them understand the risks and should be advised to consult their doctor.” In the event of an unexpected mishap or accident all work should cease; everyone should be evacuated; expert advice should be sought about remedial action including the need to report the incident to the Health & Safety Executive. See: How can you tackle the issue of asbestos in your school?
 

No toxic talc in Kazakhstan?

Feb 22, 2021

A commentary by toxicologist Dr. Lavrenty Aizvert from a Ministry of Health Department of the Government of Kazakhstan – one of the world’s biggest producers of chsyrotile (white) asbestos – about the safety of cosmetics decried the hazard posed by the use of talc-based baby powder saying there was no “serious research.” Citing research from the Dzhetygarinsky asbestos mining and processing plant and the Karaganda Institute of Occupational Hygiene and Occupational Diseases, he said that as “not a single case of lung cancer or mesothelium [sic] has been registered there for 50 years,” the harm posed by asbestos in baby powder was “not clear.” See: Правда и мифы о косметике [Truth and myths about cosmetics].
 

Commencement of Basque Asbestos Case

Feb 22, 2021

On February 22, 2021, a hearing will take place in Social Court 2 in Vitoria-Gasteiz, the capital city of the Basque Country, in a case brought by the family of a Spanish bricklayer who died of the asbestos cancer mesothelioma in 2018. The plaintiffs are claiming damages of approximately €146,000 (US$177,000) from the deceased’s former employers: Ezcurra y Ozores SA, Fibesa, Fundaciones y Mantenimiento SA, Sidenor Industrial and Cofivacasa for their failures to protect him from deadly occupational exposures to asbestos. Last year, the Court awarded a widowhood benefit in recognition of the occupational nature of the disease. See: Los familiares de una víctima del amianto reclaman una indemnizacion de 145.00 euros [The relatives of an asbestos victim claim compensation of 145,000 euros].
 

Progress of Asbestos Phase-out

Feb 22, 2021

Whereas some countries in Latin America have issued comprehensive bans on asbestos, others have implemented restrictions on types and uses of asbestos fiber. The article cited below delineates steps taken in Argentina, Chile, Peru, Colombia, Uruguay, Bolivia, Costa Rico, Merico and Panama. The author concluded as follows: “The damages and consequences of asbestos in Latin America are incalculable, however, more and more countries in this region are joining the global fight against this material and against those companies and corporations that have prioritized economic gains over the lives and health of thousands of persons.” See: La prohibición del amianto en Latinoamérica [The ban on asbestos in Latin America].
 

Asbestos Propaganda Offensive

Feb 18, 2021

An informercial, masquerading as reportage, extolled the virtues of chrysotile (white) asbestos roofing – calling it a “vital component of Sri Lanka’s construction industry” – and denying any links between exposure to chrysotile and the causation of deadly diseases: “there is no evidence to conclusively establish a significant correlation between health deterioration, particularly cancer, and exposure to chrysotile among the chrysotile cement roofing sheet users in Sri Lanka.” Bemoaning the attacks on the industry, the author noted: “regardless of the importance of chrysotile roofing sheets, the industry has faced constant backlash and baseless allegations claiming that these sheets pose a threat to the health of our society.” See: Chrysotile cement roofing sheets; a misunderstood yet vital component of Sri Lanka’s construction industry.
 

Outrage over Asbestos Dump!

Feb 18, 2021

People in Western Macedonia are incensed about the region’s plans to create an asbestos landfill facility for all of Greece at the site of a former asbestos mine (MAVE). The objectors, who cite evidence regarding the water permeability of the asbestos-containing rocks and the history of earthquake activity at the site, allege that the burial of asbestos at the MAVE mine would result in the irreversible pollution of Lake Polyphytos, the destruction of a natural environment rich in flora and fauna, the loss of hundreds of jobs and the disappearance of any possibility of an alternative development framework for future generations. See: αντιΧΥΤΑΜ: «Λέμε όχι στον ΧΥΤΑΜ για αμίαντο Δυτικής Μακεδονίας» [antiHYTAM: "We say no to HYTAM for asbestos in Western Macedonia"].
 

Judicial Black Hole

Feb 18, 2021

The existence of a “judicial black hole” has been exposed by a French documentary broadcast this week which told the story of the decades-long campaign to hold asbestos lobbyists, entrepreneurs and stakeholders to account for the deadly consequences of their commercial decisions. The program documented the fight by individuals and groups to expose the actions of the Standing Committee for Asbestos, a lobbying group, that controlled France’s asbestos agenda for decades and created a climate in which sales could flourish despite evidence about the human health hazards posed by asbestos exposures. See: « Amiante, un espoir de justice », les combattants [“Asbestos, a hope for justice,” the fighters].
 

Lack of Trust Delays Schools’ Reopening

Feb 18, 2021

As plans for reopening Philadelphia’s schools for in-person teaching are being considered, the distrust of officials from the Education Department – based on their failures to protect school users from toxic exposures – continues to fester. An extract from a letter by Adam Sanchez and Nina Willbach expressed their feelings as follows: “District leaders ask us to trust them to keep teachers, students, and our families safe. But these same leaders have kept us in poisoned schools for decades, with unsafe building conditions of lead, mold, and asbestos.” (The PFT trade union, which represents over 11,000 public school personnel, has called plans to reopen schools on February 22 “reckless”.)
See: Philadelphia Teachers and District Struggle over Terms of School Reopening.
 

Unions Call for Action on Asbestos

Feb 18, 2021

Trade unionists in British Colombia (BC) have decried failures by the Provincial Government to implement recommendations made in a December 2018 report on the asbestos industry regarding stricter regulations, such as the introduction of licensing for surveyors carrying out asbestos assessments in buildings, and for companies and consultants involved in abatement work. “This is not,” said Neil Munro – business manager for the BC Insulators Union 118 – “controversial. I can’t understand why we are not doing it.”The Insulators Union estimates it will take 50 years to safely remove asbestos from all BC’s buildings. See: Third wave of asbestos-related deaths looms as NDP at a standstill on taking action.
 

Toxic Talc!

Feb 16, 2021

On February 15, an environmental campaigning association in Tunisia – The Association for Environmental Education for Future Generations (AEEFG) – called on the Government to prohibit the import of asbestos-containing Johnson & Johnson baby powder. The AEEFG also called for the product to be withdrawn from sale in Tunisia as it has been throughout North America to protect consumers from toxic exposures. See: Santé: Une association environnementale appelle a retirer du marché tunisien des produits importés contenant du talc cancérigène [Health: An environmental association calls for the withdrawal from the Tunisian market of imported products containing carcinogenic talc].
 

Progress Update from Gauteng

Feb 16, 2021

On February 15, 2021, the refurbished Abram Hlophe Primary School in Katlehong, Ekurhuleni in South Africa’s Gauteng Province was opened in the presence of MPs, local politicians and school governors. The school offers state-of-the-art facilities for 1,900 children and a safe place to learn. The Gauteng Department of Education has issued a commitment to address legacy problems in its schools, including the presence of asbestos, by 2026. Speaking during the handover ceremony Gauteng Education’s Panyaza Lesufi said: “We have made a commitment to remove asbestos schools in Gauteng. There are 17, if I am not mistaken.” See: Gauteng ‘changing face of township education’ with R77m state-of-the-art school in Ekurhuleni.
 

Segovia’s Asbestos Legacy

Feb 16, 2021

Klein, S.A. was a Spanish company based in Segovia that was set up in 1922 and closed in 1991, only to be reopened in 1992 under new ownership. Amongst the products it manufactured were asbestos coatings and rubber hoses covered with asbestos cloth; thousands of employees were exposed to asbestos at the factory. There were no warnings of the asbestos hazards and no protective equipment supplied. The first case of mesothelioma was diagnosed and recognized in 2017, but other asbestos illnesses caused by toxic exposures at the factory have gone unrecognized. The UGT trade union has condemned Social Security officials for “systematic refusals” to acknowledge the injured. See: KLEIN y el amianto [KLEIN and asbestos].
 

Asbestos Prosecution by HSE

Feb 16, 2021

Last week, a Manchester Magistrates’ Court fined a construction company and a property management company for failing to manage asbestos safely during a refurbishment of a former office block in Stockport in August 2018, despite the existence of a May 2018 asbestos survey which had identified the presence of asbestos- containing materials. This case was the result of a prosecution by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE). Commenting on the verdict, HSE Inspector Phil Redman said: “Companies should be aware that HSE will not hesitate to take appropriate enforcement action against those that fall below the required standards.” See: Construction firms fined due to unsafe removal of asbestos.
 

Redevelopment of Asbestos Site

Feb 16, 2021

Plans to redevelop the heavily contaminated former James Hardie asbestos factory site near Parramatta in New South Wales, Australia hit a snag when the Department of Planning refused a request for a change to planning rules and called for the development of a “place strategy” to address the remediation of the 6.7-hectare site. It is likely that the compilation of such a strategy would take at least 18 months. Developers had hoped to build 3,200 dwellings on the property. Local politicians and members of opposition parties criticized the Government’s intervention saying additional accommodation and infrastructure were desperately needed in the Parramatta area. See: Sydney developer’s plans for old James Hardie site suffer setback.
 

Cancer Anxiety: Another Trial

Feb 16, 2021

Next week (February 25, 2021), legal proceedings will begin before the Lyon Court of Appeal on behalf of 60 former glassworkers from Givors, in eastern France who are seeking compensation for cancer anxiety experienced as a result of workplace exposures to carcinogens, including asbestos. The claimants, who worked at the Givors glassworks which closed in 2003, are being represented by lawyers from Paris: Nadine Melin and François Lafforgue. Since 2003, occupational cancers have been recognized in 15 of the ex-employees. See: Les ex-verriers veulent faire reconnaître un « préjudice d'anxiété [The ex-glassmakers want recognition for “prejudice of anxiety”].
 

State Compensation Payouts Delayed

Feb. 15, 2021

Delays in the payment of claims by icare, the state-run insurer of New South Wales (NSW), have been deplored by Australian victims of asbestos exposures and their legal representatives. Mesothelioma sufferer Bill Lawler, who was exposed to asbestos whilst employed as security guard at Wollongong's Tallawarra Power Station, is one of those affected. According to his solicitor: “Whilst four weeks to icare might not seem like a long time, for people like Bill one month or four weeks is a very long time because he's dealing with a terminal illness.” Supporting asbestos claimants, NSW Opposition spokesman Daniel Mookhey said: “They shouldn't have to waste a single breath fighting a discredited bureaucracy.” See: NSW insurance provider icare apologises to asbestos victims for delay in compensation payments.
 

Update: Asbestos Data in Hyogo Prefecture

Feb 15, 2021

According to the latest data released by the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, in 2020 Hyogo Prefecture had the fifth largest cohort of people in the country whose diseases were recognized as having been contracted as a result of workplace exposures to asbestos. Per the Ministry’s new figures, 1,145 cases of asbestos-related cancer were recognized in Japan last year; the number for Hyogo Prefecture was 73. Nationwide, 992 workplaces were named at which the injured had been employed, of which 58 were in Hyogo Prefecture. See: アスベスト昨年度73人労災認定 [Asbestos: last year 73 workers certified].
 

Auction of MV Funchal

Feb 15, 2021

Conflicting news about the outcome of the London January 29, 2021 auction of the iconic Portuguese vessel the Funchal MV (see: Press release: Auction of MV Funchal) – which campaigners had been concerned might be sold for scrapping on an Asian shipbreaking beach – was circulated last week. The Funchal was bought by a group of US investors who plan to keep the vessel operational according to a February 12, 2021 online article. Confirmation of the sale of the vessel for operational purposes was also received from a representative of Eggar Forrester Shipbrokers. However, another source said the vessel would be scrapped
See: O FUNCHAL já foi vendido mas não vai ser desmantelado [FUNCHAL has already been sold but will not be dismantled].
 

Justice for Asbestos Victims

Feb 15, 2021

In the wake of yet another Supreme Court ruling supporting claims by asbestos-injured construction workers, a Japanese editorial has endorsed calls for “the government and manufacturers [to] set up a fund to create a system to compensate victims” which would be proportionately funded by the companies according to their market share of asbestos-containing building materials. Although Japan’s Health minister Norihisa Tamura recently indicated that the government was willing to embark upon discussions regarding this issue, “no concrete actions have been taken.” See: Editorial: Japan must secure financial help for asbestos victims without delay.
 

Indian Support for Asbestos Removal

Feb 15, 2021

On February 7, 2021 Indian Diplomat and High Commissioner (Designate) G V Srinivas visited the site of a National Water and Electricity Company (NAWEC) project to observe a work program to replace 260 kilometers of asbestos-containing pipes in the Greater Banjul area of Gambia; under this scheme, people in Mamuda, Yuna, Sukuta, Jambour, Yundum and Farato will receive safer water with improved delivery speeds. The water project is being supported with financing provided by the Government of India. India is the world’s leading asbestos importer; we are unaware of any government scheme in India to protect the population from the risk of ingesting asbestos-contaminated water. See: India diplomat visits NAWEC project replacing 260km water pipes in urban Gambia.
 

Eliminating Asbestos-Related Diseases

Feb 15, 2021

A paper published by scientists from countries in the Western Pacific region, Europe and Asia examined the uptake of a World Health Organization recommendation that a National Asbestos Profile (NAP) be developed in order to progress efforts to eliminate asbestos-related diseases (ARDs). Unfortunately, “most countries have not developed a NAP despite having the potential.” The co-authors of this text concluded that: “Country-level data on asbestos and ARDs in public databases can be better utilized to develop NAPs for globally eliminating ARDs.” See: Development of the “National Asbestos Profile” to Eliminate Asbestos-Related Diseases in 195 Countries.
 

Krosno’s Asbestos Removal Program

Feb 12, 2021

A service provided by the municipality of the Polish City of Krosno since 2002 will resume free collections of asbestos-containing debris and products from the homes of local residents. The most common type of waste is asbestos-cement building products, such as roofing, cladding and pipes. Over the last 18 years, 770 tons of asbestos waste have been collected and disposed of. Funding for this initiative has been sourced from the Provincial Fund for Environmental Protection and Water Management in Rzeszów and the National Fund for Environmental Protection and Water Management, as well as from the Krosno city budget. See: Akcja usuwania azbestu w Krośnie. Miasto zapewnia darmowy odbiór [Asbestos removal campaign in Krosno. The city provides free pickup].
 

Portugal’s Asbestos Legacy

Feb 12, 2021

Technical experts this week warned a parliamentary commission for Environment, Energy and Planning Territory, of the multi-faceted nature of the challenges facing Portugal from the presence of asbestos-containing materials incorporated within the national infrastructure. While efforts are being made to remediate asbestos-cement products in schools, other toxic material – such as asbestos insulation – isn’t being removed. “Removing asbestos from a school,” one expert said “does not mean that the school is free from asbestos. It is necessary to make the diagnosis of all materials that may contain asbestos, in a school or other building.” See: Amianto não é só fibrocimento, alertam organizações ouvidas no parlamento [Asbestos is not just fiber cement, warn organizations heard in parliament].
 

New Appointee to Support Asbestos Victims

Feb 12, 2021

Patients with asbestos-related diseases in the East Midlands will now have access to a specialist clinical nurse, with the appointment of Louise Nelson, an experienced oncological nurse, to a University of Leicester-based post. Ms. Nelson, who had worked for the last 12 years as a research nurse at a cancer clinical trials facility, will provide nursing care and support for asbestos cancer patients treated at the University of Leicester Hospital and work with colleagues across the East Midlands to promote equitable access to mesothelioma specialist support and treatment. See: New asbestos-related cancer nurse specialist appointed for Leicester and Leicestershire.
 

Asbestos Death: Government Compensation

Feb 12, 2021

On February 10, 2021 Yoshiho Asano, the son of the late Miyoko Asano – a temporary worker in the 1960s at the Hashima building materials factory owned by the Nichias Corporation – has received a settlement of 14.3 million yen (US$136,600) from the Government of Japan as a result of a lawsuit begun in 2019 and progressed at the Gifu District Court. Miyoko Asana died from asbestosis, having been exposed to asbestos at the factory during the six months he worked there. See: 「ニチアス」羽島工場アスベスト 元従業員の遺族と国、和解成立 [“NICHIAS” Hashima Factory Asbestos Bereaved family and country of former employee, reconciliation concluded].
 

Parliamentary Asbestos Debate

Feb 9, 2021

A February 10, 2021 House of Lords debate on draft legislation – The Mesothelioma Lump Sum Payments (Conditions and Amounts) (Amendment) Regulations 2021 – could, if approved, increase amounts payable to sufferers of the asbestos cancer, mesothelioma by 0.5 percent from 1 April 2021, in line with inflation, and also proportionately increase the level of other disability benefits. Although there is no statutory obligation to uprate government payments for mesothelioma, since 2004 they have been increased annually in line with inflation. The House of Commons debate on the legislation has not yet been scheduled. See: Mesothelioma and pneumoconiosis: Uprating compensation payment rates.
 

Asbestos on Trains

Feb 9, 2021

There is an epidemic of asbestos-related diseases and death amongst people who worked in the rolling stock industry in Italy, due to the widespread use of asbestos in the construction and repair of railway carriages and engines throughout the 20th century. Although Italy banned asbestos in 1992, toxic products remain in place to this day. Italian trade unions are working with civil society partners to highlight the plight of current as well as former workers who have contracted cancers as a result of occupational asbestos exposures at railway workshops and throughout the transport industry. See: Amianto corre sui binary [Asbestos runs on tracks].
 

Asbestos in Schools

Feb 9, 2021

A city in Portugal is near to eradicating asbestos-cement roofing from its schools under an ongoing remediation program. Last week, the municipality of Braga announced it was proceeding with the removal of toxic roofing in six local school buildings at a cost of €1 million. Explaining the municipal decontamination work Braga’s Mayor Ricardo Rio said: “We have been carrying out various interventions in school buildings that give students better conditions of comfort and safety and contribute decisively to the quality of life of the children... it is very important that schools have good infrastructures that guarantee quality in teaching, but also the health of the entire school community.” See: Braga vai retirar placas com amianto de seis edifícios escolares do concelho [Braga will remove asbestos from six school buildings in the municipality].
 

Asbestos Data from the US: Update

Feb 8, 2020

A January 2021 release by the United States Geological Survey detailed annual US asbestos imports between 2016 and 2020 which averaged ~445 tons (t) a year. Imports for 2020 were 300t, a 75% increase on 2019. All the fiber imported was chrysotile (white) asbestos which originated in Brazil and was destined for use by the US chloralkali industry. It is noteworthy that the text reported a decrease in annual global asbestos consumption from around 2 million tons in 2010 to roughly 1 million tons in recent years, with the top asbestos producers in 2020 being Russia (790,000t), Kazakhstan (210,000t) and China (100,000t). See: U.S. Geological Survey, Mineral Commodity Summaries, January 2021 - Asbestos.
 

Anger over Reorganization Plans

Feb 8, 2021

Plans announced by the French Government to merge the compensation fund for asbestos victims – known as FIVA – with ONIAM, an agency administering a medical accidents scheme, have been soundly criticized by asbestos victims’ campaigners. FIVA is run efficiently, paying out €300 million/year; processing time for claims is, on average, less than four months. Critics believe that the merger will reduce the visibility of asbestos victims and curtail the dialogue about the national asbestos scandal. See: Amiante: le fonds d'indemnisation des victimes en voie de disparition? [Asbestos: compensation fund for victims endangered?].
 

Asbestos Remediation Program

Feb 8, 2021

A €4.7 million (US$5.6m) program financed by the regional council to remediate asbestos contamination of 21 hospitals in Italy’s Marche region – in the central area of the country – has been launched, to safeguard the health of all citizens throughout the territory. Work which will be undertaken includes the removal and disposal of all asbestos-containing material from healthcare facilities. See: Amianto, parte la bonifica delle strutture ospedaliere: «Rispondiamo a un problema annoso» [Asbestos, the remediation of hospitals starts: “We respond to an age-old problem”].
 

Minister’s Apology

Feb 8, 2021

On February 2, 2021, Japan’s Minister of Health, Labor and Welfare Norihisa Tamura apologized at a press conference after a January 28, 2021 Supreme Court verdict supported asbestos injury claims against the Government brought by lawyers working for former construction workers from Kyoto Prefecture. Although the Minister said that he felt “responsible” and deeply apologized, he did not mention any future measures that might be implemented to support victims of asbestos-related diseases. See: 建設アスベスト訴訟. 国の敗訴確定2例目で田村厚労大臣謝罪だけ [Construction asbestos proceedings: Only an apology from Minister of Health, Labor and Welfare Tamura as second government defeat confirmed].
 

Judicial Bias in Italian Courts?

Feb 4, 2021

In January, the Milan Court of Appeal acquitted managers from the Breda-Ansaldo engineering company of charges related to workplace exposures which led to the asbestos deaths of 12 employees who had worked for the company between the 1970s and mid-1980s. Reasserting its determination to appeal the latest decision, the Committee for the Defense of Health in the Workplace – which had supported the claimants – said the Milan Court had an appalling track record in adjudicating asbestos cases, having acquitted managers from the Enel thermoelectric plant (2015), Pirelli factories in Milan (2017) and from Fiat’s Alfa Romeo factories in Arese, Milan (2019). See: Perché le morti sul lavoro per amianto restano senza giustizia [Asbestos deaths at work remain without justice].
 

Asbestos Remediation: Update

Feb 4, 2021

As of February 8, 2021, 705 applications for the removal of asbestos roofing have been approved under a program sponsored by Suncheon City, in the South Korean Province of South Jeolla. Subsidized work will be carried out at hundreds of properties at a total cost to the municipal budget of 2.3 billion won (US$2 million) in order to protect citizens from toxic exposures to asbestos roofing. The 2021 asbestos removal program – which is 43% bigger than the one in 2020 – will facilitate remediation of 435 houses, 235 non domestic properties such as warehouses and agricultural buildings, and 35 properties housing vulnerable people. See: 순천시, 1급 발암물질 ‘석면 슬레이트’ 철거에 박차 [Suncheon City accelerates the demolition of ‘Asbestos Slate,’ a first-class carcinogen].
 

Asbestos Anxiety Litigation

Feb 4, 2021

Proceedings before the industrial tribunal of Châteauroux began this week in an asbestos anxiety case; 240+ claimants are seeking compensation for exposures to asbestos they received at a factory in Issoudun, central France. Describing the conditions at her former workplace, one witness said they were “appalling”: “It was very unsanitary… There was dust everywhere, the floor tiles were ripped off, the ceiling insulation torn.” There will be another hearing on March 30; the Court has reserved a large auditorium to accommodate all the interested parties during the October 2021 phase of the trial. See: Exposés à l'amiante, ces anciens salariés des Halles à Issoudun racontent leurs conditions de travail [Exposed to asbestos, these former employees of Les Halles in Issoudun tell about their working conditions].
 

Toxic Talc: Commentary

Feb 4, 2021

A feature on an Isle of Wight news portal examined whether talcum powder and products containing talcum powder, such as cosmetics, were safe for use. Having discussed the properties, constituents and applications of talcum powder, the text considered findings by government agencies and laboratories linking use of talcum powder to various forms of cancer. The author concluded that: “Talcum powder has been used for generations for its ability to absorb moisture. However, asbestos-contaminated talcum powder can lead to cancer in human beings. Consumers should be careful in buying and [sic] cosmetic products.” See: Can Talcum Powder Really Cause Cancer?
 

Building Trust at Philadelphia’s Schools?

Feb 3, 2021

Philadelphia’s legacy of unsafe schools has led many to question the integrity of assurances issued by the Philadelphia School District that it is safe to reopen schools for in-person teaching despite the coronavirus pandemic. “District leaders ask us” wrote Adam Sanchez, a Philadelphia teacher of African American history, and Philadelphia teacher Nina Willbach “to trust them to keep teachers, students, and our families safe. But these same leaders have kept us in poisoned schools for decades, with unsafe building conditions of lead, mold, and asbestos. The district needs to build trust by engaging in a democratic process to ensure teachers and our union that our buildings are safe enough to reopen.” See: Philly leaders lied for decades about school safety. Why should teachers trust them during a pandemic?
 

More Asbestos Propaganda

Feb 3, 2021

An infomercial on a Russian language website extolled the virtues of asbestos saying: “Asbestos does not burn, does not melt, does not emit harmful vapors, is resistant to mechanical damage, and is more durable than many steel grades,” but neglected to mention that exposure to asbestos can cause a variety of deadly cancers and debilitating diseases. The text did, however, point out that: “Russia is the world leader in the extraction and production of materials based on chrysotile asbestos, supplying almost half of the world with reliable and durable products.” See: Асбестовые легенды: как минерал путешествует через историю [Asbestos Legends: How a Mineral Travels Through History].
 

Sale of Illegal Consumer Goods

Feb 3, 2021

The discovery of asbestos in bath mats and other household goods widely distributed in Japan was, according to a new article, just the tip of the iceberg. Consumers in Japan are concerned about the possibility of buying toxic products despite the fact that the country has prohibited all uses of asbestos. Over the last few years, Cainz – a popular hardware chain of stores – and furniture maker Nitori have both recalled products believed to have contained asbestos. Asbestos-contaminated goods were also distributed via dollar stores and other outlets around Japan. See: Asbestos-laced products continue to haunt consumers in Japan.
 

Asbestos Alert!

Feb 3, 2021

Experts, citing increasing mortality from asbestos-related diseases in Spain, have reinforced calls being made for a national asbestos law and scheme to compensate all asbestos victims to replace the time-consuming process now in place which requires victims to seek redress through legal means. Pulmonologists have warned that the presence of asbestos-containing material within the national infrastructure presents a hazard not just to workers but also to members of the public. See: El rastro del amianto se extiende más allá del Metro de Madrid y deja 23 muertes profesionales [The asbestos trail extends beyond the Madrid Metro and leaves 23 professional deaths in 2020 in Spain].
 

Quebec’s Post-Asbestos Era

Feb 3, 2020

Quebec’s mining of chrysotile (white) asbestos throughout the 20th century has left a toxic legacy with mountains of asbestos waste dominating the landscapes of former mining towns. Exposures to fibers liberated by the debris constitute an ongoing hazard to people living and working in the area. A survey, carried out by academics from a University in Western Quebec, of people from one such town – Thetford Mines – has found that “more than 80% of the residents … wish to transform the old mines and asbestos residues into new green spaces” at a cost of between $5-25/year for three years. See: Contribute financially to green the old asbestos mines.
 

Municipal Asbestos Initiative

Feb 2, 2021

The launch of a new municipal facility to support residents of a town at the epicenter of Italy’s asbestos scandal was announced this week by mayor Federico Riboldi and councillor Maria Teresa Lombardi. An asbestos help desk, staffed with medical, legal, environmental and technical personnel, will be operational every Thursday from 9 a.m. till 11:30 a.m. beginning on February 4, 2021 at the Casale Monferrato Town Hall, to provide “concrete information on the main problems related to asbestos.” See: Uno Sportello del Centro Regionale Amianto anche in Comune [A branch of the Regional Asbestos Center also in the Municipality].
 

Mesothelioma Treatment: Update

Feb 2, 2021

The immunotherapy drug nivolumab has been found to increase survival and stabilize disease in patients with relapsed mesothelioma, an aggressive cancer caused by exposure to asbestos. According to data presented on January 30, 2021 at an international lung cancer conference by researchers involved in the UK’s CONFIRM trial, patients treated with this drug lived an average for 9.2 months compared to 6.6 months for those who had received a placebo. This finding has been hailed as a “major breakthrough” and “game-changer” by clinicians and patients. See: Immunotherapy improves survival for people with aggressive, asbestos-linked lung cancer.
 

Victory for French Miners

Feb 2, 2021

The Douai Court of Appeal on January 29, 2021 recognized the emotional and psychological anxiety of 726 miners in Lorraine who had been exposed to multiple carcinogens at their workplace and awarded them €10,000 each; the French State will be footing the bill for the compensation payments and legal costs expected to total in excess of €7.3m (US$8.9m). The judgment of the Court of Appeal found that miners had routinely experienced workplace: “exposure to the emanation of wood dust, coal, rock, asbestos particles, diesel locomotive fumes, product fumes, and toxic liquids.” Commenting on the case Jean-Paul Teissonnière, a member of the miners' legal team, said the ruling could benefit all employees exposed to workplace toxins. See: Préjudice d’anxiété: carton plein pour les mineurs! [Anxiety damage: a box full of miners!].
 

Building Asbestos Awareness in BC

Feb 2, 2021

A 2018 report by the Government of British Colombia (BC), entitled Keeping Workers, the Public and the Environment Safe from Asbestos, recommended that BC adopt recognized standards and programs for the training of asbestos abatement workers. As a consequence of the Canadian Province’s failure to do so, trade unions, training institutes and private companies have devised and implemented asbestos awareness training programs to ensure that operatives in the asbestos abatement industry meet WorkSafeBC standards and qualifications. See: Private sector and unions filling B.C. void in asbestos training.
 

Ecuador Debate on Asbestos

Feb 2, 2021

An article in El Universo – one of the largest daily newspapers in Ecuador – highlighted the human health risks posed by exposure to asbestos, citing the policies of international agencies which call for the elimination of asbestos use on the grounds of public and occupational health. Explaining the ubiquity of asbestos-containing products throughout the country, the author stated: “there is no specific law or regulation on the prohibition and use of asbestos” in Ecuador. The specific danger of toxic exposures to construction workers was discussed. See: ¿Qué es el asbesto o amianto y qué peligros tiene para la salud? [What is asbestos and what dangers does it have for health?].
 

Auction of Former Portuguese Icon

Feb 1, 2021

A Portuguese article highlighted the London January 29, 2021 auction of the former Portuguese vessel MV Funchal and warned that a downturn in demand for such vessels combined with its asbestos contamination may result in the vessel being sold for scrap. The article quoted campaigner Carmen Lima who flagged up this issue: “The removal of asbestos and the decontamination of the vessel should take place in Portugal avoiding the transborder shipment of contaminants to another country, namely one where the criteria for asbestos removal may not be as demanding and may put at risk the health of shipbreaking workers and their communities.” See: Leilão do Paquete Funchal hoje em Londres preocupa associações [Auction of Funchal vessel in London today worries associations].
 

Supreme Court Upholds Workers’ Verdict

Feb 1, 2021

On January 28, 2021, Japan’s Supreme Court upheld a ruling by the Osaka High Court which had found the government and manufacturers of construction materials responsible for asbestos-related diseases contracted by former construction workers from the western prefecture of Kyoto. This is the first time that the Supreme Court has recognized the responsibility of construction materials manufacturers for asbestos-related injuries sustained by a a large group claimants. The defendants were ordered to pay compensation of 280 million yen (~US$ 2.7m) to 24 former workers. This ruling is widely regarded as a precedent which will benefit many injured workers. See: Court Holds Japan Govt, Firms Responsible for Asbestos Problems
 

Asbestos Monitoring and Safety

Feb 1, 2021

To protect inhabitants of Seoul from toxic exposures to asbestos, the Seoul Institute for Health and Environment – a specialized asbestos analysis organization certified by the Ministry of Environment and Ministry of Employment and Labor – is tightening up on inspections at sites, such as underground stations, regional children's centers, and private academies, where there is a high risk of asbestos exposures in 2021. Results of tests to measure airborne asbestos fiber levels are uploaded to websites run by local as well as municipal authorities. See: 서울시, 지하역사와 학원 등 공기 중 석면 조사 확대 [Expanded investigation of asbestos in air such as that found Seoul, underground stations and academies].
 

Maritime Asbestos Contamination

Feb 1, 2021

A commentary by a legal expert warned of a tsunami of future asbestos litigation arising from toxic exposures on ships despite the International Maritime Organization’s 2011 ban on its use. According to author David Osler, asbestos “is widespread on ships built prior to 2002, when the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea introduced a ban with some limited exceptions.” Asbestos contamination can often be found in vessels’ “pipework flange gaskets, woven packing and gasket materials, hand pumps, isolation valves and stores.” As the cost of asbestos removal can be “prohibitive,” shipowners often delay taking action on identifying and addressing the issue. See: Hazmat study finds asbestos ‘on most ships’.
 

Asbestos at the Opera

Feb 1, 2021

At a demonstration held outside a Milan courtroom on January 29, workers from La Scala Opera House displayed asbestos-containing samples of products which had been found in the theatre. Inside the building, legal proceedings continued in a case brought against four former managers accused of manslaughter for the asbestos deaths of former workers. Yesterday lawyer Laura Mara told the Court: “the employer was required to know that exposure to asbestos would have exposed workers to diseases such as asbestosis…” Prosecutors are asking that the accused receive prison sentences of between two and a half and seven years. See: “Ecco l’amianto nascosto nel Teatro alla Scala” [“Here is the asbestos hidden in La Scala Theater”].
 

Asbestos Justice: Yet Another Delay

Jan 29, 2021

On January 20, 2021 French asbestos victims received news which indicated that a criminal trial over the national asbestos scandal might finally become a reality as a result of a decision by the investigative chamber of the Paris Court of Appeal. The Court reversed a July 2019 judgment that had dismissed charges against officials from a former asbestos company. On January 22, however, the prosecutor appealed this decision; as a consequence, it will be at least two more years before any criminal proceedings can be launched. A group representing French asbestos victims has appealed to François Molins, attorney general at the Court of Cassation (Supreme Court), to intervene. See: Procès pénal de l'amiante: la justice souffle le chaud et le froid [Asbestos criminal trial: justice blows hot and cold].
 

Pressure on EPA for Asbestos Rethink

Jan 29, 2021

Public advocacy groups and campaigners have put the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on notice of their intent to file a lawsuit over the EPA’s multiple failures under the Trump Administration to adequately evaluate public and occupational health risks posed by asbestos exposures. According to lawyer Robert Sussman, the petitioners “want to see a comprehensive and robust evaluation of asbestos that looks at all the risks, all the products and types of asbestos which are out there that people are exposed to and looks thoroughly at the science.” See: Ninth Circuit Asked to Undo Asbestos Review by Trump EPA.
 

Fire was Public Health Emergency

Jan 29, 2021

Poor communication, lack of coordination and an overwhelming failure of leadership has been blamed by local people whose properties were affected by asbestos fallout from the December 8, 2020 fire at the Ponsonby Intermediate School in Auckland. The involvement of multiple central and local government agencies including Auckland Council, Auckland Regional Public Health Service, Fire and Emergency NZ, Auckland Transport, and the Ministry of Education produced a chaotic response to the emergency as a result of which hazardous exposures of people living in properties downwind of the Auckland school were prolonged. See: A disaster no one is paying attention to.
 

Iniquitous Inland Revenue Policy

Jan 29, 2021

The Inland Revenue has recently changed its policy regarding the provision of work history information, starting in 1961, to the relatives or legal representatives of deceased applicants. This information is required by former employers or insurance companies when considering a claim brought for occupational asbestos exposure. Legal experts are calling for the Inland Revenue to reverse this policy, with one solicitor warning that: “No first hand evidence from the [deceased] victim and no proof of employment will lead more and more to families being uncompensated by negligent employers.” See: HM Revenue policy change causes serious barriers to mesothelioma justice and must be reversed.
 

Victory at Supreme Court!

Jan 29, 2021

The Supreme Court of Italy issued a claimant’s ruling against an appeal brought by a company which sought to reverse a verdict ordering it to pay compensation to the surviving family of a former employee who had died due to lung cancer contracted as a result of occupational exposure to asbestos. Arguments cited by the company’s lawyers, including allegations that the claim had been barred by the expiry of the statute of limitations and that the deceased had not direct workplace exposure to asbestos, were rejected by the Court. See: Esposizione ad amianto e termini per l’azione di ristoro iure hereditatis [Exposure to asbestos and refreshment of time limits for actions concerning the rights of heirs].
 

Another Spanish Tragedy

Jan 26, 2021

Santos González was the first suburban worker of the Madrid Metro diagnosed with a disease caused by occupational exposure to asbestos. He started work for the transport company in 1979. Last month, Mr. González was diagnosed with lung cancer with pulmonary fibrosis. Last week it was confirmed that he had contracted COVID-19; due to the severity of the pulmonary fibrosis, he could not be intubated. He died on January 23. Seven other Metro workers have also died from asbestos-related diseases and the occupational illnesses of 12 more have been recognized, and several other cases are pending. See: Muere el primer trabajador de Metro de Madrid al que se diagnosticó amiantosis [The first Metro de Madrid worker diagnosed with asbestosis dies].
 

Deadly Asbestos Legacy

Jan 26, 2021

Contamination caused by decades of manufacturing by the Carolina Asbestos Company at an old factory near Charlotte, North Carolina remains decades after operations had ceased. Redevelopment of the site and area has been hindered by the high cost of decontamination. Generations of workers and local residents paid with their lives for the profits of the company. Behind the mill, is a 25 foot high mountain of asbestos waste called Asbestos Hill. Despite attempts to cover the asbestos pile with vegetation, the site remains a toxic reminder of the area’s industrial past. Local people are concerned that redevelopment would release asbestos into the air. See: Davidson's Legacy of Asbestos Contamination and Distrust.
 

Toxic Talc

Jan 26, 2021

A Nigerian based non-governmental organization – the Foundation of the Conservation of the Earth (FOCONE) – has called for the immediate withdrawal of talc-based products from the Nigerian market. At a press conference in Port Harcourt, FOCONE consultant Kingsley Ozegbe warned of the health hazards posed by the use of asbestos-contaminated products such as baby powder; users could contract the fatal asbestos cancer mesothelioma, he said. As a result of the health hazard, Johnson & Johnson withdrew from sale in North America it’s talc-based baby powder. This product was still sold in Nigeria. FOCONE urged the National Agency for Food & Drug Administration and Control and the Federal Competition & Consumer Protection Commission to take urgent action. See: Talc Products Contain Asbestos.
 

Spain’s Toxic Asbestos Legacy

Jan 26, 2021

The human health consequences of asbestos in the transport systems of Madrid and Barcelona have been high-profile news over recent years. A lawsuit brought by the family of asbestos cancer victim José María Íñigo over hazardous exposures experienced at the studios of Spain’s nationally owned broadcasting corporation highlighted the scope and severity of the country’s asbestos legacy. Throughout the country, workers and members of the public remain at risk of contracting multiple types of cancer from occupational and environmental exposures. See: Así es el mesotelioma, el cáncer que causó la muerte a José María Íñigo: “Solo lo produce la inhalación del Amianto” [This is mesothelioma, the cancer that caused José María Íñigo's death: “It is only caused by inhalation of asbestos”].
 

Toxic Talc

Jan 26, 2021

As a result of lobbying by civil society organizations in Nepal concerned about the marketing in Nepal of asbestos-contaminated baby powder withdrawn from North American markets, Nepal’s Department of Commerce, Supply and Consumer Protection has collected samples of Johnson & Johnson’s talc-based baby powder made in the USA, Canada and India and Himalayan baby powder and submitted them for testing. If the results show the J&J product to be contaminated, the Government will ban its sale and use in Nepal. The results are expected in February, 2021. See: Cancer-Causing Baby Powders Continue Circulating in The Nepali Market.
 

Mesothelioma: Improved Treatment

Jan 26, 2021

A paper published in The Lancet last week, co-authored by researchers from Asia, Australia, Europe, and North / Latin America, investigated whether survival rates for patients with malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM) could be improved by treatment with nivolumab and ipilimumab. The scientists found that: “Nivolumab plus ipilimumab provided significant and clinically meaningful improvements in overall survival versus standard-of-care chemotherapy, supporting the use of this first-in-class regimen that has been approved in the USA as of October, 2020, for previously untreated unresectable MPM.” See: First-line nivolumab plus ipilimumab in unresectable malignant pleural mesothelioma (CheckMate 743): a multicentre, randomised, open-label, phase 3 trial.
 

Asbestos Alert

Jan 25, 2021

An article by a medical specialist from Ukraine which highlighted the hazard of environmental exposures to carcinogenic substances warned of the dangers posed to construction workers by their use of asbestos-containing building products. The author, erroneously, said that Ukraine had banned the use of these products. Unfortunately, the ban had been overturned after pressure was exerted by industry stakeholders (see: Ukraine’s Asbestos Debacle). The “scientifically proven” finding of the International Agency for Research on Cancer that asbestos was a Group 1 carcinogen was accurately reported. See: Hе надеясь на удачу. Можно ли предотвратить рак [Not hoping for luck. Cancer can be prevented].
 

Asbestos Memorial in Canada

Jan 25, 2021

A seven-meter high kinetic sculpture called “Magic and Lethal” has been commissioned by the British Colombia (BC) Labour Heritage Center as a memorial to those whose lives have been lost to asbestos, a substance which continues to kill BC workers today despite a national ban. Asbestos-related lung disease is BC’s leading cause of occupational mortality. The piece of public art will be sited strategically at the Vancouver Convention Center West from where you can see the Burrard Inlet; asbestos fiber from the Cassiar Asbestos mine in northern BC was transported via the inlet to docks in North Vancouver from where it was exported around the world. See: First-of-its kind memorial to those lost to asbestos exposure coming to Vancouver.
 

Progress: Remediation of Asbestos Site

Jan 25, 2021

Former industrial facilities belonging to the Amiantit SA company in Drepano, a village near the Greek city of Patras, will be decontaminated and demolished under an agreement signed in Depano this week by Lambros Dimitrogiannis, Deputy Regional Governor of Western Greece. It has been estimated that 2,650 tonnes of asbestos waste will be produced by the remediation work of the 134,750 square meter site. One hundred and twenty days have been allocated for the completion of the work; a further 120 days will be allowed because of emergency conditions created by the pandemic. See: Απομακρύνεται το πρώην εργοστάσιο της «ΑΜΙΑΝΤΙΤ» στο Δρέπανο Αχαΐας [The former factory of "AMIANTIT" in Drepano, Achaia, is removed].
 

Court of Appeal Victory

Jan 25, 2021

On January 18, 2021, the Court of Appeal handed down a unanimous verdict in the case of Deborah Head vs The Culver Heating Co. Ltd. which overturned a “manifestly unjust” nil award for the mesothelioma death of Michael Head, a successful businessman. The April 2019 judgment by Judge Melissa Clarke did not provide compensation for the “lost years claim” considering that income to be investment and not earnings. The Court of Appeal disagreed, finding that all of Mr. Head’s income should be treated as earnings which were recoverable by his Estate. See: Appeal successful in Head v Culver Heating Co Ltd.
 

Prof. Jean Renaud vs. Montreal University

Jan 25, 2021

Public outrage has been generated in Quebec over the failure of the University of Montreal to recognize and compensate Emeritus Professor of Sociology Jean Renaud for contracting the signature asbestos cancer, mesothelioma as a result of toxic workplace exposures. The Professor, who is currently receiving palliative care, had worked in an office on the university campus which had asbestos ceiling and floor tiles. The University is currently challenging a decision by the Committee on Standards, Energy, Health and Safety at Work which had recognized the Professor’s disease as having been occupationally caused. See: L’Université de Montréal sommée d’indemniser un de ses anciens professeurs [The University of Montreal ordered to compensate one of its former professors].
 

Asbestos: Mixed Messages

Jan 19, 2021

An article uploaded on January 16, 2021 by the State TV and Radio Company of Nizhny Novgorod, a city in Central Russia, sent out mixed messages regarding the health hazard posed by asbestos exposures. On the one hand, the message confirmed that asbestos was “a carcinogen that has caused lung cancer in hundreds of thousands of people. It was widely used until the second half of the last century and undermined the health of builders…” However, on the other hand, the text alleged that “for residents of houses built with asbestos, it does not pose such a danger.” See: Доктор Мясников назвал главную причину рака [Doctor Myasnikov named the main cause of cancer].
 

Marriage of Art and Awareness, Italian-style!

Jan 19, 2021

A five-minute rap, featuring Stefania Crivellari, by the Sicilian artist Picciotto was uploaded to YouTube on January 9, 2021. This piece is a remix of a 2016 work which was, said Picciotto, necessary as the “reclamation of the territory has not been completed and no progress has been made regarding treatment therapies for those who fall ill” (see: Background to 2021 upload). Funds raised by this effort will be donated to a research charity for work on asbestos-related cancers. The narrative of the video accompanying the song included newspaper articles, X-rays, footage of medical personnel, snippets of the “Fuck Cancer Choir,” asbestos warning signs, and other images highlighting Italy’s ongoing asbestos cancer epidemic. See: Ancora Sotto Casa Mia Feat. Picciotto [Still under My House. Picciotto].
 

Asbestos Anxiety in the Navy

Jan 19, 2021

Building on a landmark 2019 verdict for 45 Breton officers of the French Navy whose asbestos anxiety was recognized and compensated, on January 7, 2021, a Rennes administrative court recognized 21 additional cases. Over the last four years, 170 cases have been filed with the administrative court. These cases are, said victims’ campaigner Jean-Paul Le Roux, complex, and the Ministry of Armed Forces remained uncooperative, refusing to provide crucial documentation to claimants and their legal advisors. See: Amiante: la faute du ministère des Armées reconnue pour 21 nouveaux dossiers de marins [Asbestos: the fault of the Ministry of the Armed Forces recognized for 21 new cases of sailors].
 

Asbestos Removal Ban

Jan 19, 2021

On December 17, 2020, by a unanimous decision, the three-member British Colombia (B.C.) Court of Appeal upheld a ruling prohibiting Mike Singh and Seattle Environmental Consulting from working in the asbestos removal industry. Singh had breached workplace safety laws more than 20 times at 11 different worksites – including homes in Vancouver, Burnaby, Richmond and West Vancouver – between 2013 and 2017 and, as a result, had been banned from the asbestos removal industry in 2019 by B.C. Supreme Court Justice Francesca Marzari. See: B.C. Court of Appeal upholds decision barring Vancouver man from asbestos removal industry.
 

Compensation for Hospital Exposures

Jan 18, 2021

Last week (January 14, 2021), it was announced that a settlement had been reached between 48 workers exposed to asbestos during renovation work at the Besançon University Hospital in eastern France between 2009 and 2013 and the legal team representing the health authority. In a landmark decision on April 21, 2020, France’s Court of Cassation (Supreme Court) had ruled that a public authority – the Besançon University Hospital – could be found criminally liable for asbestos exposures experienced by workers. Each member of the class action will receive €10,000 (US$12,080) in damages. See: Amiante au CHU de Besançon: chaque agent exposé recevra 10.000 euros d'indemnisation [Asbestos at Besançon University Hospital: each exposed agent will receive 10,000 euros in compensation].
 

Mesothelioma: Update

Jan 18, 2021

An opinion piece in an online Italian newspaper examined the impact of asbestos exposures throughout Italy in interviews with key medical clinicians and researchers, including Drs. Federica Grosso and Stefania Crivellari, and PhD student Simona Martinotti. Dr. Grosso highlighted the ongoing importance of preventing asbestos exposures, stressing the need to remediate contaminated sites. The use of musical therapy for mesothelioma patients and their carers who are part of a specialist cancer choir founded in 2019 has, said Dr. Crivellai, had “positive effects.” See: Saperne di più sull’amianto e il mesotelioma fra ricerca scientifica e musica [Learn more about asbestos and mesothelioma, from scientific research to music].
 

Asbestos Victims’ Protest

Jan 18, 2021

A press release issued on January 14, 2021 by the French Association of Asbestos Victims Groups (ANDEVA) condemned moves by the government to amalgamate the National Asbestos Compensation Fund (FIVA), created under a law passed in 2000, with the National Office for Medical Accidents, as a cost-saving measure. Created to provide a streamlined procedure by which asbestos victims could obtain compensation for their injuries, FIVA has, to date, settled more than 100,000 claims. ANDEVA called on its members, civil society stakeholders and partnering organizations to raise objections with Parliamentarians over this amalgamation. See: Les victimes de l’amiante refusent de voir le FIVA disparaître [Asbestos victims refuse to see FIVA go away].
 

Shipbreaking Exposé

Jan 18, 2021

Two articles published in December 2020 highlighted the deadly consequences of unregulated and uncontrolled conditions at Bangladesh shipbreaking yards where exposures to toxic substances, including asbestos, on ships sent for scrapping have injured generations of workers. The vessels, many of which are registered under flags of convenience and owned by off-shore companies, flout laws and provide neither warnings nor protection to workers (see: Toxic ships sail in on false papers), with Ministerial officials admitting the complete lack of government supervision and capacity to test ships for the presence of toxic substances.
See: How offshore companies import deadly asbestos into Bangladesh.
 

Asbestos Trial: Update

Jan 14, 2021

On January 11, 12 & 13, 2021, Madrid Judge María Isabel Garaizaba was due to hear evidence in a criminal case against seven defendants responsible for the management of health and occupational risk at the company operating the Madrid Metro. The start of preliminary proceedings over the asbestos-related deaths of two workers had been delayed multiple times because of the coronavirus pandemic; this week it was delayed once again by snowstorm Filomena which forced the suspension of court proceedings. See: Suspendidas por tercera vez las declaraciones de los investigados del caso amianto por la nevada [Suspended for the third time the statements of those investigated in asbestos case due to snow].
 

Government Evasion on Veterans’ Rights

Jan 14, 2021

In a Written answer to a Parliamentary question by MP Stephen Morgan (Dec 30, 2020) to the Ministry of Defence, on Jan 11, 2021 Johnny Mercer MP and Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State affirmed the government’s commitment “to helping forces heroes diagnosed with mesothelioma, a cancer of the lung caused by asbestos.” Although, said Mercer, the government would “support access to compensation for veterans affected by the cancer through either its war pensions scheme or armed forces compensation scheme,” he made no mention of veterans suffering from lung cancer who were exposed to asbestos pre-1987 and continue to be disadvantaged by government policies. See: British veterans left with cancer after military service to be supported, minister says.
 

Asbestos Removal Project

Jan 14, 2021

A scheme to provide financial support for homeowners to remove asbestos roofing from 225 properties has been announced by authorities in Yeonggwang-gun, a county in South Korea’s South Jeolla Province. The 2021 allocation for the project made by the county was 90 million won (US$82,000); all applications must be made to the Urban Environment Division between January 12 and February 26, 2021. Priority will be given to applications for remediation work on vacant and dilapidated houses. See: 영광군, 석면 슬레이트지붕 철거 지원사업 추진 [ Yeonggwang-gun, asbestos roof demolition support project].
 

Asbestos Remediation at Charity

Jan 14, 2021

A project to remove asbestos roofing from the headquarters of The Center for Occupational Activities of the Portuguese Association of Parents and Friends of the Mentally Handicapped Citizen (APPACDM) in Valença was announced this week. The €270,000 (US$330,000) budget for this work was approved last year under a Regional Operational Program. According to Luiz Costa, APPACDM’s President, the charity has “180 days to proceed with the work. We are working on the process so that we can open the public tender. It should still take between three to four months for the project to start.” See: Amianto vai ser removido do centro da APPACDM de Valença [Asbestos will be removed from APPACDM center in Valença].
 

Asbestos Health Hazard: Alert

Jan 12, 2021

An article on a Russian language website for the Omsk region acknowledged the link between exposure to asbestos – a valued resource mined in Russia – and lung cancer, stating: “Pulmonologists estimate that in about 20 years one in three lung cancers will be caused by exposure to asbestos dust…” The text of this article pointed out that asbestos roofing “constantly emits dust” and that fibers such as those released by weathered asbestos roofing are “responsible for lung and pleural cancers...” See: Рак легких — от чего еще, кроме курения он возникает? [Lung cancer – what else besides smoking causes it?].
 

National Award for Asbestos Mine?!

Jan 12, 2021

In what seems to be a rather bizarre pronouncement, on December 30, 2020 Chinese authorities recognized the Mangya chrysotile (white) asbestos mine as the first national industrial heritage project in Qinghai Province, in the northwest of China. The mine, which was founded in the 1950s, is operated by the country’s largest asbestos mining and processing enterprise and supplies asbestos fiber to 40% of the domestic asbestos market. In the article about this award, there is no mention of the occupational or environmental hazard posed by the commercial exploitation of asbestos. See: 青海茫崖石棉矿成青海首个国家级工业遗产项目 [Qinghai Mangya asbestos mine became the first national industrial heritage project in Qinghai].
 

Asbestos Cover-up

Jan 12, 2021

Two podcasts totalling 90 minutes examined the question of whether or not there was a cover-up in the US about the hazards posed by occupational and environmental exposures to asbestos. The content of the broadcasts traced the history of asbestos use and the evolution of medical and scientific knowledge regarding its dangers from the 19th century to the present. The presenters concluded that there was sufficient proof to establish that government stakeholders had supported vested interests to prioritize the needs of the asbestos industry over the welfare of US citizens in a conspiracy which condemned many of those affected to debilitating disease and premature death. See: The Asbestos Cover-Up Pt 1 and The Asbestos Cover-Up Pt 2.
 

Post-ban Asbestos Hazard

Jan 12, 2021

An interesting briefing on the uses and abuses of asbestos – by a scientific expert – highlighted the hazard asbestos exposures still posed to Brazilians despite a Supreme Court ruling in 2017 which banned the commercial exploitation of asbestos. Asbestos-containing products had been used for decades throughout the country and many toxic products remain hidden within the national infrastructure. The author of this text, Professor Victor Ricardo Ferreira, cited World Health Organization policy which stated that: “there are no safe methods of handling this product and that its risks outweigh the possible benefits.” See: Aminato [Asbestos].
 

Asbestos Ban: Update

Jan 11, 2021

Despite the fact that the Colombian asbestos ban came into effect on January 1, 2021, critics point out that there has not yet been any progress made on the adoption of a protocol for the replacement of asbestos-containing products in the country. In the Ana Cecilia Niño ban asbestos law, a deadline of five years was specified for formulating a public policy to eradicate the asbestos hazard in Colombia. According to politician Mauricio Toro, the Government had, so far, convened a couple of meetings to which neither academics nor representatives of civil society had been invited. See: Prohibición del asbesto entró en vigencia, pero no hay protocolo de sustitución [Asbestos ban went into effect, but there is no substitution protocol].
 

Resumption of Asbestos Proceedings

Jan 11, 2021

This week – on January 11, 12 and 13 – Madrid investigating Judge María Isabel Garaizaba will take statements in a criminal case against seven defendants responsible for health and occupational risk prevention who were employed by Madrid Metro. The charges they face of reckless homicide relate to the asbestos-related deaths of two former workers. The start of preliminary proceedings had been delayed multiple times by the pandemic. See: Las declaraciones del caso amianto se reanudan este lunes con las comparecencias de los investigados [The statements of the asbestos case resume this Monday with the appearances of those investigated].
 

Asbestos Recall of Toxic Items

Jan 11, 2021

Over three million items sold by the Japanese Nitori company have been recalled from sale due to asbestos contamination of between 0.2 and 1.5%. Amongst the toxic products sold by Nitori between December 4, 2016 and December 16, 2020 were bath mats, containing up to 15 times the allowable concentration of asbestos, and coasters manufactured by the Japanese company Horiki Kosakusho. On December 28, 2020 a spokesperson for the Chemical Substances Control Division of the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, confirmed that asbestos had been detected in 18 types of Nitori products. See: <速報>ニトリ販売のバスマットから基準15倍のアスベスト検出 [Breaking news: Asbestos detection of 15 times the standard from bath mats sold by Nitori].
 

Asbestos in Schools: Update

Jan 8, 2021

European Union (EU) funds of €78 million – provided under EU Regional Operational Programs – have been budgeted for an asbestos removal program in schools in Portugal. By the December 2020 deadline, applications had been received for funding for remediation work at 486 schools in 149 municipalities across the country, according to figures released on January 7, 2021 by the Ministry of Territorial Cohesion. According to a Ministry spokesperson, to date these funds have paid for the removal and replacement of asbestos roofs “in more than 200 public schools.” See: Há 486 escolas candidatas ao programa de remoção de Amianto [486 schools have applied for the asbestos removal program].
 

Mesothelioma in UK Military Cohort

Jan 8, 2021

The first paper examining the mesothelioma experience of UK military veterans has highlighted significant issues including the difficulty of navigating military, health and civil systems, and the influence of the military experience on sufferers’ coping strategies. The paper, which was based on research undertaken by co-authors for The Military Mesothelioma Experience Study, noted “specific challenges and care needs related to veterans with mesothelioma.” Following on from the project, a report with recommendations regarding care and support of veterans living with mesothelioma is being compiled. See: Living with mesothelioma: A qualitative study of the experiences of male military veterans in the UK.
 

Asbestos Legacy in Mining Town

Jan 7, 2021

Groups studying the environment announced this week that research undertaken in October 2020 in Quebec identified contamination of a river in the former asbestos mining town of Asbestos, now called Val-des-Sources. Sediment in 8 samples from the Nicolet Sud-Ouest River contained up to 5% asbestos with the most toxic samples taken from the foot of huge mountains of waste created by the Jeffrey chrysotile (white) asbestos mine. According to Daniel Green, of the Bureau of Investigations: “Clearly, the dumps provided asbestos fibers to the sediment.” Corroborating these findings, researcher Olivier Jacques said he had observed similar levels of asbestos in lakes fed by the Bécancour River in the Thetford Mines region. See: De l’amiante coule dans une rivière [Asbestos is flowing in a river].
 

EPA Asbestos Evaluation: Update

Jan 7, 2021

A commentary which was part of the January 4, 2021 online edition of the National Law Review reported on the publication on December 30, 2020 of the Final Risk Evaluation for Asbestos, Part 1: Chrysotile Asbestos of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), stating that the EPA “found that there is unreasonable risk to workers, occupational non-users, consumers, and/or bystanders within each of the six chrysotile asbestos use categories.” The EPA could take various actions to address the risks posed by asbestos exposure including prohibiting its consumption, handling and sale throughout the US. See: EPA Publishes Final Risk Evaluation for Asbestos, Part 1: Chrysotile Asbestos.
 

Union Victory for Railway Workers

Jan 7, 2021

Three hundred and ninety-five asbestos-exposed railway workers from the Italian city of Pistoia will finally be able to retire at the end of a 13-month long legal battle as an amendment to the 2016 budget law – which permitted early retirement by eligible workers who applied prior to December 31, 2020 – was passed by Parliament. The changes to the budget law consisted of six important articles, said trade unions leaders who had been instrumental in achieving this victory. See: Lavoratori esposti all’amianto Via libera alla pensione per 395 [395 workers exposed to asbestos get green light to retirement].
 

Asbestos Ban Takes Effect!

Jan 4, 2021

Legislation banning the mining, import, processing and sale of asbestos fiber and products containing it came into effect on January 1, 2021 in Colombia. The aim of law 1968 of July 11, 2019 was to protect workers and members of the public from the very serious health hazards posed by asbestos exposures. Colombia had been an asbestos producer and consumer with the majority of fiber being used in the production of asbestos-cement building products. As of January 1, 2021, the Government had a five year deadline to formulate a policy for the eradication of asbestos throughout the country. See: A partir de este 1º de enero se prohibe distribuir, comercializar y producir asbesto en Colombia [As of January 1st, it is prohibited to distribute, commercialize and produce asbestos in Colombia].
 

EPA’s Asbestos U-Turn?

Jan 4, 2021

A commentary in the weekly magazine entitled Chemical & Engineering News, published by the American Chemical Society, asked whether the end had finally come for chrysotile asbestos, stating: “the US Environmental Protection Agency [EPA] is set to address the cancer risks posed by all current uses of chrysotile asbestos” following the publication on December 30 of a final assessment which found “unreasonable risks” to workers and members of the public who handle chlor-alkali diaphragms, gaskets, aftermarket automobile brakes, and other asbestos-containing products. Following EPA procedures, the Agency has one year to propose measures to prevent toxic exposures as identified in the final assessment. See: Is the end near for chrysotile asbestos?
 

Guernsey Mesothelioma Scheme!

Jan 4, 2021

In a media release dated December 31, 2020, the government of the Bailiwick of Guernsey – including the islands of Guernsey and Alderney – announced the launch of a scheme on January 1, 2021 for residents who contract diffuse mesothelioma. Plans to implement this scheme were approved in June 2020 by the Committee for Employment & Social Security (the Committee). Welcoming the support for asbestos-injured islanders, Deputy Peter Roffey, President of the Committee, said: “Mesothelioma is a terrible disease, but I'm pleased that, at last, we can introduce this payment scheme for people who have contracted diffuse mesothelioma through exposure to asbestos in Guernsey or Alderney.” See: Diffuse Mesothelioma Payment Scheme Launched.
 

Asbestos Remediation of Schools

Jan 4, 2021

The Department of Education of the South Korean Province of Gyeongbuk has set a 2027 deadline for the removal of asbestos from all its schools; the annual budget allocated for this work is 18 billion won/year (~US$16.6m/yr). Under this program, asbestos remediation at 91 schools was accomplished in 2020, with work due to be undertaken in 2021 at 79 schools. Progress is monitored by a collation of groups including school officials, parents, experts and representatives of civil society groups. See: 경북교육청, 2027년까지 학교 건축물 석면 제거...매년 180억 이상 투자 [Gyeongbuk Office of Education to remove asbestos from school buildings by 2027, investing more than 18 billion won annually].
 

Asbestos Exposure During Childhood

Jan 4, 2021

A paper published in the October-December 2020 issue of the Annali dell'Istituto superiore di sanita [The Annals of the Higher Institute of Health], which drew on mesothelioma data collected in Italy between 2003 and 2016, showed that 2.5% of all mesothelioma deaths occurred in people aged =50; the authors speculated that these deaths were probably caused by non-occupational exposures to asbestos during childhood. The identification of geographical hotspots of disease was, the researchers said, informative for the implementation of public health and environmental remediation actions. See: Early mortality from malignant mesothelioma in Italy as a proxy of environmental exposure to asbestos in children.
 

Alert: Mining Asbestos Waste

Dec 30, 2020

Ban asbestos campaigners in Colombia have raised the alert over news that the commercial processing of mining waste at the Las Brisas asbestos mine – which was closed in 2019 when Colombia banned asbestos – has begun with the support of the national government. The facility in Campamento is now reclaiming material from the slag to be used in the production of magnesium silicate, fertilizers, talc and construction materials. Local politicians, who supported the asbestos mine, welcomed the new jobs this development would provide. See: Mina de Campamento pasó de producir asbesto a fertilizantes y materiales [Campamento mine goes from producing asbestos to fertilizers and construction materials].
 

Government Apology!

Dec 30, 2020

On December 23, 2020, Japan’s Minister of Health, Labor and Welfare Norihisa Tamura met with plaintiffs in a landmark Supreme Court class action mounted by asbestos-injured construction workers to apologize to them on behalf of the Japanese Government. The Minister said: “We take the judgment seriously and will take appropriate measures.” He promised to facilitate a forum to consider how best to support victims who had been injured as a result of the Government’s failures; injured workers had called for a national fund so that victims would not have to endure protracted legal battles to obtain compensation. See: アスベスト裁判 原告らに謝罪 協議の場設ける考え示す 厚労相 [Asbestos Trial, Apology to plaintiffs by Minister of Health, Labor and Welfare].
 

Campaign against Asbestos Dump

Dec 30, 2020

Opposition and outrage has greeted plans by the regional government of Western Macedonia to create a landfill for the disposal of toxic waste in a former asbestos mining region of Kozani in Northern Greece. The site would receive asbestos waste from all of Greece and possibly even abroad, according to proposals currently being considered by the Regional Governor. Local people are incensed by the plans: “we unreservedly oppose any thought of creating this dangerous landfill in the Area.” See: Όχι σκουπιδότοπος αμιάντου στα πρώην ΜΑΒΕ’ [“No asbestos dump in the former MAVE”].
 

Asbestos Fly-tipping in Anatolia

Dec 30, 2020

Asbestos-containing debris has been discovered in garbage dumped illegally in a forest area in the Gaziemir district of Izmir, a city on the west of the Turkish peninsula of Anatolia. Local people are incensed about the health hazard posed by the environmental contamination and have urged the local authorities to take action not only to remediate the area but also to prevent further dumping. See: Kaçak moloz dökülen ormanlık alanda 'asbest' tehlikesi [The danger of ‘asbestos’ in the forest area with illegal dumping of waste].
 

Court Orders Asbestos Action by EPA

Dec 29, 2020

A 36-page ruling handed down on December 22, 2020 by Judge Edward Chen of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California ordered the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to upgrade asbestos reporting by implementing measures to collect data on the import and use of asbestos and asbestos-containing products in the US. In a statement welcoming this verdict, the Attorney General of Massachusetts Maura Healey said “The Trump Administration’s failure to use its authority to protect all of us from dangerous exposures to asbestos is as unconscionable as it is inexplicable.” See: EPA Ordered to Close Asbestos Reporting Loopholes.
 

Asbestos Lobby Offensive

Dec 29, 2020

This month an editorial appeared on the website of the International Chrysotile Association (ICA) – a lobbying group dedicated to promoting global sales of chrysotile asbestos – condemning the efforts of European asbestos victims’ groups which, the ICA alleged, had “dubious motivations” and opted “for calumny and slander and call for the very disappearance of the ICA.” The ICA’s aggressive retort came in response to letters addressed to its President Emiliano Alonso, a Spanish citizen, who heads up a body marketing a substance banned in his home country to industrializing nations. See: Emiliano Alonso, President of the international asbestos lobby organisation, attacks European asbestos victims groups.
 

Victims Denounce Government Failures

Dec 29, 2020

A wide-ranging interview with Susana Tirado of the Association of People Affected by Asbestos in Aragon highlighted the widespread failure to comply with EU asbestos regulations in Spain which increased risks to people working in the asbestos removal sector as well as members of the public endangered through the illegal dumping of asbestos waste. The number of these criminal actions is growing because of the failure to prosecute offenders and the impotence of government agencies and authorities to take action. See: Entrevista a Susana Tirado Sancho de Asociación de Afectados por el Amianto en Aragón [Interview with Susana Tirado Sancho from the Association of People Affected by Asbestos in Aragon].
 

Asbestos Product Recall

Dec 29, 2020

On December 22, 2020, it was announced that Nitori, a Japanese home furnishing chain of stores, had recalled over 2 million items which could contain asbestos fibers. The nine affected products, which had been made in China, were bath mats and coasters. Asbestos use has been banned in Japan for a number of years and the sale of these products was illegal. It is not yet clear if the contamination was caused by intentional inclusion of fibers in the products. Customers who purchased the products were advised to return them to a Nitori store for a full refund, with or without the receipt. See: Japanese home furnishing chain issues massive recall for asbestos-heavy bath mats and coasters.
 

Asbestos Removal in Schools

Dec 29, 2020

On December 24, 2020, the Ulsan City Office of Education in Ulsan, South Korea announced that during the winter vacation replacement of asbestos ceilings would be undertaken in 11 schools. The schools where remediation work was scheduled included 3 elementary, 6 middle and 2 high schools. Briefing sessions for parents, students, and faculty had been held before the work was begun during which the state-of-the-art techniques which would be used were explained. See: 울산시교육청, 코로나19에도 차질없이 학교 석면천장 교체 [Ulsan City Office of Education replaces school's asbestos ceiling without disruption even with Covid-19].
 

Looming Deadline for Asbestos Updates

Dec 29, 2020

Although, the French government was late in taking action to protect workers and members of the public from asbestos, a February 2021 deadline was set in a French decree that came into force in 2012. Article 4 of the decree allowed nine years until additional asbestos identification and safety protocols would become mandatory. Asbestos audits of buildings which were undertaken before April 1, 2013 mut be updated by February 1, 2021 according to this article by French technical expert Caroline Theuil. See: Dans un mois vos dossiers technique amiante (DTA) doivent être en règle! [“In a month, your asbestos technical files (DTA) must be in order!”].
 

Asbestos Industry Propaganda

Dec 23, 2020

An article about asbestos which appeared on a Russian website discounted arguments about the harmful effects of exposures to chrysotile asbestos, saying that while exposures to other types of asbestos were hazardous, exposures to chrysotile were not dangerous as chrysotile fibers were dissolved in the lungs, thereby eliminating adverse effects. The text affirmed categorically that: “workers and consumers do not suffer from chrysotile,” and highlighted the ubiquity of chrysotile-containing products throughout Russia, stating that the use of chrysotile allowed “us to operate modern commercial, industrial and residential facilities.” See: Неизвестный асбест: мифы и правда вокруг “горного льна” [Unknown asbestos: myths and truth around “mountain flax”].
 

Mesothelioma Scheme: Update

Dec 23, 2020

The Government has announced plans to refinance Italy’s asbestos victims fund with a budget of €39 million for 2021 and, over time, increase the annual budget to €51m/year. As of January 1, 2021, payments to asbestos victims will be increased by 15%; mesothelioma claimants, including those who were exposed to asbestos occupationally, domestically or environmentally, will receive a lump sum payment of €10,000. All applications to this scheme must be submitted within three years of date of diagnosis. See: Fornaro: “15% in più di rendite alle vittime dell'amianto nella legge di bilancio” [Fornaro: “15% more annuities for asbestos victims in the budget law”].
 

Victim’s Verdict by Supreme Court

Dec 23, 2020

Adelaide man Mathew Werfel defeated an appeal at South Australia’s Supreme Court (SC) by James Hardie – Australia’s “Killer Company” – against a 2019 decision of the South Australian Employment Tribunal. The SC concurred that James Hardie had owed the claimant a duty of care as he had used their asbestos-containing products in house renovations between the late 1990s and early 2000s; the Court awarded him $2.23 million in compensation. The 44-year old claimant, who was diagnosed with mesothelioma in 2017, said he hoped the SC’s decision would force JH to undertake a campaign to raise awareness of the hazards posed by asbestos exposure. See: Asbestos victim with mesothelioma from home renovations beats James Hardie liability appeal.
 

Mesothelioma Treatment Research: UK

Dec 23, 2020

A 2020 report by the National Mesothelioma Audit – based on data from 2016 to 2018 – revealed that the Northumbria Healthcare NHS (NHCT) Foundation Trust performed poorly in histopathological confirmation of tissue samples, treatment rates and survival rates 12 months post initial diagnoses. An analysis of NHCT’s malignant pleural mesothelioma cases over a 10-year period showed a variability in practices and failures to comply with best practice recommendations. The report recommended that a regional mesothelioma multi-disciplinary team be established and that comprehensive data be collected to monitor its effectiveness. See: A review of malignant pleural mesothelioma in a large North East UK pleural centre.
 

Asbestos in Schools

Dec 23, 2020

Despite promises made in 2015 by the authorities in Alicante Province to remediate schools and educational institutes, nearly 40% remain contaminated with asbestos. According to official sources, work on schools has been delayed until the Summer to provide enough time for the remediation to be accomplished during a time when the schools are not in use. According to José María Hernández, a spokesperson representing one local community: “There are no longer any ‘excuses’ because… [people] are slowly and silently being poisoned by asbestos dust that is being released by environmental aging from the roofing plates and fibre cement pipes installed outdoors. It is a National Disgrace.” See: National Disgrace as removal of asbestos in 28 schools delayed to next summer.
 

Asbestos Removal Program

Dec 23, 2020

The Regional Council of Lazio, Italy has announced plans to remove asbestos from more than 200 public buildings with a budget of almost €20 million. Work will be carried out throughout the territory and include the remediation of 170 school buildings and 26 hospitals in Rome, Alatri, Monte Romano, Morlupo, Roviano, Tivoli, Fiumiciono and elsewhere. The eradication program is a result of surveys undertaken by the Regional Health Department and the Infrastructure and Mobility Department supported by technical expertise provided by the Regional Asbestos Center. See: Amianto: dalla Regione 19 milioni per rimuoverlo da scuole ed ospedali [Asbestos: 19 million from the Region to remove it from schools and hospitals].
 

Asbestos Lobby Offensive

Dec 21, 2020

The International Chrysotile Association (ICA) – a trade association promoting sales of chrysotile (white) asbestos to industrializing countries – has hit back at European asbestos victims’ groups with a scathing editorial on the ICA website (dated December 14, 2020), in which groups from the UK, Belgium, France and Italy are accused of “aggressive attacks against the ICA” for daring to point out the hypocrisy of a citizen from an EU country – Emiliano Alonso, a Spanish lawyer who is also the ICA President – promoting sales of a substance banned at home to industrializing countries. See: Emiliano Alonso, President of the international asbestos lobby organisation, attacks European asbestos victims groups.
 

Activist Condemns Brazil Exports

Dec 21, 2020

As asbestos mining recommenced in Brazil in late 2020 – despite a 2017 Supreme Court banning all production and sale – a Brazilian article explored the repercussions of asbestos exports from Brazil to India. During an interview with Pooja Gupta, coordinator of the Indian Ban Asbestos Network, Ms. Gupta said: “Eternit has always known that the asbestos it sells is dangerous and yet it has chosen to do business regardless. They saw what happened in Belgium and how people are still dying from asbestos. They value profit more than people and that is the most inhumane thing that anyone can do.” See: Ativista condena exportação do amianto no Brasil: “A vida dos indianos vale menos” [Activist condemns export of asbestos in Brazil: “The life of the Indians is worth less”].
 

Union Action on Asbestos

Dec 21, 2020

A labor federation from the Philippines – the Associated Labor Unions-Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (ALU-TUCP) – publicly questioned whether a new $123 million project announced by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) in the capital will, as per ADB guidelines, be constructed free from asbestos-containing material. In a press release issued last week, Gerard Seno, National Executive Vice President of the ALU-TUCP, reminded the ADB of its commitment to zero asbestos and asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) “in all its funded projects beginning with this EDSA Greenways Project.” See: ADB reminded on asbestos-free vow.
 

Government Apology for Asbestos Crimes

Dec 21, 2020

Norihisa Tamura, Japan’s Minister of Health, Labor and Welfare, held a press conference after a Cabinet meeting on December 18th during which a recent decision by the Supreme Court was discussed. The Court had issued a ruling on behalf of asbestos-exposed construction workers which recognized the responsibility of the Government for neglecting to prevent toxic exposures at work. The Minister apologized, saying: “I feel responsible and deeply apologize to the plaintiffs.” This week he will meet representatives of the claimants to apologize to them in person. See: 建設石綿訴訟で厚労相謝罪 国責任の司法判断確定 [Minister of Health, Labor and Welfare apologizes for construction asbestos proceedings].
 

Toxic Ships, Deadly Practices

Dec 21, 2020

The health consequences of working in Bangladesh’s ship-breaking yards scrapping foreign ships full of contaminants like asbestos are discussed in an article which featured the case of a 45-year-old worker Mazidul Haque who had been diagnosed with asbestosis after working at the shipbreaking yards in Chattogram for most of his adult life. Having never received training to work at the yards, he had no knowledge of the risks he was taking. He had never been provided with equipment or clothing to prevent the inhalation of asbestos fibers and had never been warned about the hazard. A typical merchant vessel could contain around 10 tonnes of asbestos-containing material. See: Toxic ships sail in on false papers.
 

Supporting All Asbestos Victims

Dec 21, 2020

Calls have been made for the extension of an Italian fund – established in 2015 – which provided financial assistance of €5,600 (US$6,860) to mesothelioma sufferers whose toxic exposures to asbestos were non-occupational. The number of people needing this support is substantial: according to mesothelioma data from Emilia Romagna, over the last 10 years there were an average of 148 mesothelioma cases per year, of which 30% were due to non-occupational exposures. The scheme which awarded this benefit is due to close on December 31, 2020. See: Amianto, tutelare tutti i malati di mesotelioma [Asbestos, protect all mesothelioma patients].
 

Ditching “Asbestos” for a Safer Future

Dec 18, 2020

This week, Quebec’s Municipal Affairs Minister Andrée Laforest approved the rebranding of a former mining town; previously called “Asbestos” it will now be known as Val-des-Sources (Valley of the Springs), a name chosen by 51.5% of local voters in an election held in October. Although, the name change takes effect immediately, the process of changing signage on building and vehicles will begin in the new year. The Minister’s decision is final and a petition to rethink the election process was dismissed. Inhabitants of the town will be known as Valsourciens and Valsourciennes. See: Say goodbye Asbestos and hello to Val-des-Sources as Quebec okays name change.
 

Asbestos Anxiety: Breakthroughs

Dec 18, 2020

In separate court decisions handed down on December 17, 2020, 66 former employees from the Paris Mint and 246 workers from the Baccarat crystal factory in Meurthe-et-Moselle were awarded compensation of €10,000+ and €8,100 for asbestos anxiety by the Bordeaux Court of Appeal and the Court of Cassation (Supreme Court), respectively. The verdicts are the culmination of years of legal struggle by asbestos-exposed workers and their legal teams. See: Amiante: les salariés de la Monnaie de Paris obtiennent réparation auprès de la cour d’appel de Bordeaux [Asbestos: Paris Mint employees obtain compensation from the Bordeaux Court of Appeal].
 

Supreme Court Verdict!

Dec 18, 2020

On December 14, 2020, Japan’s Supreme Court issued a plaintiffs’ verdict – which dismissed an appeal brought by the Government; the Court ordered the Japanese Government to pay compensation of US$22 million to 350 asbestos-injured construction workers – or surviving family members – from Tokyo, Saitama and elsewhere, as per a 2018 order by the Tokyo High Court. The ruling, which acknowledged the Government’s responsibility for the illnesses of both employed and self-employed workers, was the first to hold the Government responsible for asbestos injuries to construction workers. The Court found that the Government had not acted in a timely manner to prevent toxic asbestos exposures. See: Court finalizes state payment to asbestos victims.
 

No Asbestos in Schools

Dec 18, 2020

The Seoul Institute of Health and Environment (SIHE) and the Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education have agreed to create a safe school environment free from asbestos contamination. During school vacations, SIHE operatives will conduct surveys to measure the concentration of asbestos in the indoor air of kindergartens, elementary, middle, and high schools where asbestos demolition and removal work had been completed to verify that the schools were fit for use. State-of-the-art equipment will be used for the analysis and testing, including transmission and scanning electron microscopes. See: 서울시보건환경연구원-시교육청 협력해 학교 석면 안전관리 강화 [Strengthening safety management of school asbestos in cooperation with SIHE and City Office of Education].
 

Cancer Causation and Asbestos

Dec 18, 2020

Research undertaken over the last five years by a team of scientists from Turkey, Japan and the US has established that people with the gene mutation named “BLM +/-” had a higher risk of developing mesothelioma, the signature cancer associated with asbestos exposure. This discovery could, said the researchers, be fundamental in developing new protocols for early diagnoses and improved treatments for this pleural cancer. Individuals at high-risk of contracting the cancer once identified could be better protected and monitored. See: Asbest kaynaklı akciğer zarı kanserine neden olan gen bulundu [Gene that causes asbestos-induced lung cancer].
 

Punishing Asbestos Crime

Dec 15, 2020

Justice Nicola Pain of the Land and Environment Court found that a New South Wales (NSW) company called Earthmovers Pty Ltd. lied about the disposal in 2016 of 1,400 tonnes of asbestos-contaminated soil from a Sydney building site and supplied false and misleading documentation claiming that it had been lawfully disposed of. The prosecution had been brought by the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA). Justice Pain fined the company $450,000 for the two offences and ordered it to pay the EPA’s legal costs. Commenting on the verdict, EPA director Greg Sheehy said: “crimes by rogue operators defraud honest companies, damage the environment and can harm human health.” See: Hefty fine in Aussie earthmovers asbestos documents case.
 

Asbestos: An Environmental Hazard

Dec 15, 2020

Local people throughout Spain are taking unilateral action to identify toxic sites where asbestos debris has been illegally dumped in light of failures by municipal authorities to address the situation. Scores of uncontrolled landfills and toxic sites were located in the Valencia region. As a result of the lobbying efforts of campaigners, on December 1 the city council in Picassent announced plans to remove 140 tons of toxic waste from multiple sites and to implement a surveillance scheme to prevent fly-tipping of asbestos and other dangerous waste. See: Convivir con escombros y restos de amianto: la revuelta ciudadana contra los vertederos ilegales [Living with rubble and asbestos waste: the citizen revolt against illegal landfills].
 

Lawsuit for Construction Workers

Dec 15, 2020

On December 3, 2020, the first arguments were held in the Sendai District Court in a legal action on behalf of ten former workers or their bereaved family members regarding asbestos-related deaths caused by occupational exposures at construction sites in Japan. The claimants are seeking total damages of 269.5 million yen ($US 2.6m) from the Japanese government and 12 manufacturers of building materials. See: 国、建材メーカー争う姿勢 東北アスベスト訴訟初弁論 [National government and building material manufacturers contest asbestos claims, first arguments].
 

Asbestos Mining Hazard

Dec 15, 2020

An expert in Perth, Western Australia (WA) has condemned the stupidity of holidaymakers who travel to one of the world’s most toxic towns to take photos for Instagram. Wittenoom, WA is a former crocidolite (blue) asbestos mining town; due to the residual toxicity of the area, the town has been “disappeared,” with most properties being taken out of private hands by the WA government. According to Melita Markey of the National Centre of Asbestos Related Diseases and the Asbestos Diseases Society of Australia: “There’s a lot of asbestos in Wittenoom and it has very strong winds blowing around you… Also, it's blue asbestos and the research shows us that's the most deadly and most carcinogenic.” See: Ignorant influencers slammed for risking their lives to holiday in asbestos-riddled Wittenoom.
 

A Special Anniversary

Dec 15, 2020

The 20th anniversary of the founding of the ABEVA asbestos victims’ group in Belgium was marked by the uploading of a celebratory issue of the Group’s newsletter. Plans to hold a celebration of the event were put on hold due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The Belgian Asbestos Victims’ Association – L’association Belge des Victimes de l’Amiante (ABEVA) – was founded in 2000 by the Vandenbroucke and Jonckheere families, both of which had lost loved ones to the asbestos cancer, mesothelioma. Belgium (see: Asbestos Profile), as the home country of the global asbestos giant Eternit, has one of the world’s highest incidences in the world of asbestos-related mortality For the newsletter see: ABEVA website.
 

Asbestos in Schools

Dec 14, 2020

Funds totalling €4.3 million (US$5.2m) from the European Union have been allocated to remove asbestos from 31 schools in the Algarve, Portugal’s southernmost region, according to an announcement made by the Regional Development Commission. Local authorities have until December 31 to apply for asbestos removal grants. The first successful application for financial support under this scheme came from the City of São Brás de Alportel in the District of Faro. See: ‘Bye bye asbestos’: Funding finally on way to remove asbestos from Algarve schools.
 

Madrid Makes Asbestos a Priority

Dec 14, 2020

On December 3, 2020, Rafael Gómez Montoya – the spokesperson on Environment for the Socialist Parliamentary Group in the Madrid Assembly – presented an initiative to a plenary session of the Assembly calling for the mandatory eradication of asbestos from the region. “Although the use of asbestos was banned in 2002,” he said, “it is still present in cinemas, theatres, schools, hospitals…. Therefore, the plan must establish criteria to assess the useful life of this material and its dangers in each of the facilities.” A multi-step program was needed, Montoya said, the first step of which was to conduct an asbestos census to quantify the scope and severity of the problem. See: El PSOE a favor de la eliminación segura del Amianto [The PSOE in favor of the safe elimination of asbestos].
 

Asbestos Cancer Care: Update

Dec 14, 2020

News that specialist nurses have been appointed to treat asbestos cancer patients in two UK asbestos hotspots has been warmly welcomed. Angela Goldfinch and Simon Bolton will provide advice, care and support for mesothelioma patients at Broomfield Hospital under the Mid and South Essex NHS Foundation Trust, and multiple hospitals serving communities in North and West Yorkshire, respectively. The new roles are funded by Mesothelioma UK – a national specialist resource centre, specifically for the asbestos-related cancer, mesothelioma – in partnership with charity organizations and selected law firms. See: Asbestos-related cancer nurses appointed for opposite ends of country.
 

Good News, Bad News

Dec 14, 2020

Despite the dismissal of criminal proceedings against executives of the Italian company Officine Grandi Riparazioni (OGR) – Large [Railway] Repair Workshops – who had been charged with negligence which resulted in the asbestos-related deaths of workers at the Bologna OGR facility, civil compensation claims are still proceeding, according to legal experts working for asbestos claimants. See: OGR Bologna: Le cause per danni da amianto in sede civile sono possibili e rafforzate nonostante la sentenza di archiviazione del procedimento penale [OGR Bologna: Lawsuits for asbestos damage in civil courts are possible and reinforced despite the dismissal of the criminal proceedings].
 

Asbestos in Schools

Dec 14, 2020

Despite efforts to remediate schools in the South Korean city of Anyang, in Gyeonggi Province, asbestos contamination remains in the majority of elementary, middle and high schools. Removal work at the city’s schools has been ongoing since 2017 with funding from the Provincial Office of Education; budgets for this program were as follows: (~US$3.7 million) 4 billion won (bw) in 2017, 4.1 bw in 2018, 3 bw in 2019 and 1.2 bw in 2020. The deadline set by the Provincial Office of Education for the completion of the asbestos decontamination program is 2027. See: 안양지역 각급 학교 석면제거율 38%…“조속 처리”vs“점진 처리” [38% of asbestos removed at schools in Anyang area... “Rapid processing” vs. “Progressive processing”].
 

Corporate Reinvention or Flim-Flam

Dec 9, 2020

In an interview with Luís Augusto Barbosa, CEO of Brazil’s former asbestos giant Eternit SA, Barbosa explained that the turnaround in Eternit’s fortunes was due to its abandonment of “notorious asbestos” in favor of photovoltaic tile technology. “It was the decision to abolish asbestos in 2017,” said Barbosa “which led us to judicial recovery.” Confirming the hazard posed by asbestos exposures to workers on assembly lines, Barbosa maintained that use of asbestos products was harmless. He did not address the health hazard posed to employees at the company’s asbestos mine in Minaçu. See: Do amianto à energia solar, redenção da Eternit (ETER3) faz ação saltar mais de 300% em 2020 [From asbestos to solar energy, Eternit's redemption (ETER3) makes activity jump by more than 300% in 2020].
 

Calls for Asbestos Action

Dec 9, 2020

The mobilization of Spanish civil society groups backing calls for a national asbestos program to address the increasing asbestos mortality rate is growing. The National Federation of Associations of Respiratory Patients and members of other patient groups, scientific societies and trade unions are campaigning for the creation of a Comprehensive Asbestos Law to address the multifaceted challenges posed by the country’s legacy of widespread asbestos use throughout the 20th century. The campaign’s Manifesto highlights the need for early detection of asbestos-related diseases and investment in medical research. See: Ley para una erradicación segura del Amianto [Law for the safe eradication of asbestos].
 

University Asbestos Denials

Dec 9, 2020

The University of Montreal (UdeM) maintains that it is not responsible for the asbestos-related illnesses and deaths of members of staff, despite findings of culpability by The Commission for Standards, Equity, Health and Safety at Work (CNESST) – the body responsible for the application of labor laws in Quebec. Yves Charland, a UdeM computer scientist, died in November 2019 from the signature asbestos cancer, mesothelioma. UdeM condemned CNESST’s finding that his death was linked to workplace asbestos exposures, saying the decision was “ill-founded in fact and in law.” The University is appealing this and other adverse rulings against it. See: L’UdeM demande la révision de décisions de la CNESST [UdeM calls for review of CNESST decisions].
 

Asbestos in Schools

Dec 9, 2020

The health of secondary students attending college in the town of Ain Merane, in the West of Algeria, is at daily risk due to asbestos contamination of the prefabricated buildings in which they spend their days. Teachers and administrative staff are also at risk from the presence of deteriorating toxic building products in schools which were erected in the 1980s. Parents and teaching staff have lobbied local and regional officials about the dangerous conditions to no avail, despite multiple promises that schools would be rebuilt. See: Les collégiens sous la menace de l’amiante [College students under the threat of asbestos].
 

Confronting Spain’s Asbestos Legacy

Dec 9, 2020

A 7-minute video which can be viewed on Facebook via the link provided below is a recording of a presentation made by Spanish politician Jota Canadas to a Parliamentary Group of the Madrid Assembly. In his talk, Canadas addressed the widespread and unregulated use of asbestos throughout Spain prior to the ban introduced in 2002 and outlined the ongoing hazards posed by the presence of toxic material throughout the country’s infrastructure. He called on the government of Madrid to prioritize the removal of asbestos on the grounds of public and occupational safety. See: Video of speech by Jota Canadas to Madrid Assembly.
 

Asbestos Alert: Video

Dec 9, 2020

A short video in the Georgian language – with English captions – uploaded to YouTube at the end of last month (November 2020) highlighted the hazards posed to consumers and workers in Georgia by using products containing asbestos. Fifteen percent of building products and 60% of brake pads used in Georgia contain asbestos. This exercise in raising awareness of the asbestos hazard was a collaboration of civil society partners in Georgia, including Open Society Georgia, Partnership For Road Safety Georgia, the Eastern Alliance for Safety & Sustainable Transport, and others. See: ვიდეო რგოლი აზბესტის საფრთხეების შესახებ [Video clip about the dangers of asbestos].
 

Supporting the Asbestos-Exposed

Dec 7, 2020

An asbestos outreach phone clinic was held in the Japanese city of Nagoya on December 5, 2020 for people who had worked at asbestos factories or in the construction industry and members of their families. On hand to answer questions were legal and medical professionals. The Japanese Government was relatively slow in restricting and banning the use of asbestos compared to other industrialized countries, having prohibited the use of amosite (brown) and crocidolite (blue) asbestos as recently as 1995 and achieving a total ban on all asbestos by 2012. See: アスベスト被害の無料電話相談会 5日、東海弁護団 [Free telephone counseling for asbestos damage, December 5, 2020].
 

Asbestos in Schools

Dec 8, 2020

A statement by a Ministry of the Portuguese Government has announced the extension of the deadline for submissions to be made for financial support for the removal of asbestos from the country’s schools. Applications made, to date, will incur the expenditure of more than €75 million for the asbestos remediation of 460 schools (~74% of all the schools) in 130 cities. The financing of the work is guaranteed by European funds for regional programs. The new deadline for submissions is December 30, 2030. See: Programa para retirada de amianto em escolas prolonga candidaturas [Asbestos removal program in schools extends deadline for applications].
 

Addressing Italy’s Asbestos Legacy

Dec 8, 2020

A feature length article examined options for decontaminating the Italian infrastructure and environment within a broader discussion of the country’s historic mining and usage of asbestos and asbestos-containing products. During much of the 20th century, Italy was Europe’s second largest asbestos supplier and consumer after the Soviet Union. On average 6,000 people die every year from asbestos-related diseases and toxic exposures continue even though asbestos was banned in 1992. The author of this text asserted that asbestos remediation tax credits were the only feasible solution to the country’s asbestos problem. See: Credito d’imposta, unica via per una reale bonifica dell’amianto [Tax credit, the only way for a real asbestos remediation].
 

Asbestos Dump: NIMBY

Dec 8, 2020

Plans announced in November by the Region of West Macedonia to create a solution to the region’s asbestos disposal problem over the next 25 years by setting up an asbestos landfill in Kozani – the site of Greece’s former asbestos mine – have been criticized on multiple grounds, including environmental repercussions and potential hazards posed by earthquakes. The author of the article cited below concluded his analysis as follows: “there are clearly more technically, economically and environmentally suitable solutions for the landfill at the level of the country and the region of Western Macedonia.” See: Περιβαλλοντική Υδρογεωλογία και ΧΥΤΑΜ στα ΜΑΒΕ ΑΕ στο Ζιδάνι Κοζάνης [Environmental Hydrogeology and landfill at MAVE SA in Zidani, Kozani].
 

UK Asbestos Resource: Update

Dec 8, 2020

Strathclyde University, a public research university in Glasgow, has become the repository of several unique asbestos archives including collections from: the world’s first asbestos victims’ campaigner Nancy Tait; the Cancer Prevention Society; environmental activist Alan Dalton; investigative journalist Laurie Flynn and corporate records from the UK’s asbestos giant Turner & Newall plc which were disclosed during litigation brought by the Chase Manhattan Bank. In a recently uploaded essay, Strathclyde Masters student Michael Canning highlighted “the presence of the voices of the victims of asbestos-related disease…” in the collection. See: Archives and Special Collections: Asbestos.
 

Another Asbestos Death

Dec 8, 2020

The mesothelioma death on November 29, 2020 of 77- year old Giacomo De Lazzari is being investigated by the public prosecutor in Venice who has opened a case for manslaughter against unknown persons. From 1982 until 2005 Mr. De Lazzari had worked as a foreman for a sub-contractor at the Porto Marghera Petrochemical plant. Many of his colleagues – who had also contracted the signature asbestos cancer, mesothelioma – predeceased him. See: Amianto, la procura apre un fascicolo sulla morte di un ex operaio del Petrolchimico [Asbestos, the prosecutor opens a file on the death of a former Petrochemical worker].
 

Asbestos Propaganda

Dec 3, 2020

Asbestos industry propaganda, masquerading as a news article, has been uploaded to a Ukrainian website. It is noteworthy to point out that the 2017 ban on asbestos mandated by Ukraine’s Ministry of Health was overturned in 2019 on a procedural technicality. The text of the article rehashed key low points of the asbestos lobby’s arguments saying that: chrysotile asbestos (the type mined in Russia), is harmless to human health; chrysotile fibers are safely dissolved in the lungs; the campaign to ban asbestos is a profit-driven exercise sponsored by the manufacturers of non-asbestos products. See: Опасность асбеста: влияние асбеста на здоровье человека [Dangers of Asbestos: Effects of Asbestos on Human Health].
 

Asbestos Safety Legislation

Dec 3, 2020

As of November 10, 2020, South Africa’s Asbestos Abatement Regulations – adopted under the auspices of the Department of Employment and Labour and launched on November 27 – mandated that employers were obliged to provide a safe and risk-free environment for workers. Although the use of asbestos is banned in South Africa, asbestos-containing material remains within the country’s infrastructure. The new rules mean that employers must identify and manage all asbestos-containing products in the workplace and take precautions to protect not only their employees but also others such as subcontractors and members of the public from toxic exposures created by the operations of the company. See: New regulations push South Africa towards an asbestos-free environment.
 

New Resource for Scottish Patients

Dec 3, 2020

A new online resource has been launched this week by the Scottish Mesothelioma Network (Network) for victims of asbestos-related cancers, an initiative that aims to improve outcomes and quality of life for Scottish mesothelioma patients. Due to its industrial legacy of widespread asbestos use in shipyards, factories and other workplaces, the rates of asbestos cancer in Scotland are amongst the highest in the world. The Network’s new website provides a range of information on disease, treatment options, specialist centers, patient pathways and reputable online sources of information. It also lists various routes to accessing compensation and provides details of asbestos victims’ support groups in Scotland. See: The Scottish Mesothelioma Network.
 

Precedent for Canberra Asbestos Victims

Dec 3, 2020

Fifty-four year old mesothelioma sufferer James Wallner was awarded more than $250,000 by the Government of the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) to cover medical costs for treatment of cancer he contracted due to childhood exposure to asbestos insulation. This is the first payment by any Australian government for illness contracted through exposure to “Mr Fluffy” loose-fill asbestos insulation. According to ACT’s Chief Minister Andrew Barr an investigation into the feasibility of a scheme for future victims was underway but, in the meantime, this “act of grace” payment had been made. See: Canberra man who contracted mesothelioma after exposure to Mr Fluffy asbestos awarded $250k from ACT Government.
 

Asbestos Eradication in Catalonia

Dec 3, 2020

A public consultation on a bill to eradicate asbestos material to protect public and occupational health was launched by the Government of Catalonia on November 25, 2020; submissions must be received by January 25, 2021. The objective of this exercise is to gauge the views of a variety of civil society stakeholders on the aims, proposed measures and timescales for eliminating the asbestos hazard from the autonomous community of Catalonia in the northeast of Spain. Although asbestos use was banned in Spain in 2002, more than 2.5+ million tonnes of asbestos were used throughout the country, much of which remains in products still in place today. See: Anteproyecto de ley de erradicación del Amianto [Asbestos eradication bill].
 

Armley’s Deadly Legacy

Dec 3, 2020

Decades after the Armley asbestos factory ceased operations in Canal Street, environmental contamination remained in homes and buildings in the streets near the old J. W. Roberts factory. A report by an independent charity confirmed the extent of the problem in Armley, finding that 90% of homes tested were still contaminated with blue (crocidolite) asbestos. It is little wonder that Armley had been dubbed “the UK’s deadliest district.” “There is a decontamination procedure,” the report noted “but this costs £7,500 per house, which most residents cannot afford.” See: The asbestos disaster of Armley and the looming fear of death.
 

Toxic Talc

Nov 30, 2020

An analysis of 21 samples of cosmetics in powder, liquid and cream forms – including eye shadow, foundation, blush, face and body powders – which was commissioned by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) revealed that ~15% were contaminated with asbestos. Commenting on these disturbing findings, EWG Senior Vice President for Government Affairs Scott Farber said: “While consumers should be alarmed and outraged, it’s hardly a surprise, considering the federal law regulating the cosmetics industry has not been updated since 1938.” More than 2,000 personal care products sold in the US contain talc, 1,000 are loose or pressed powders which pose an elevated risk of inhalation. See: Analysis: Talc-Based Cosmetics Test Positive for Asbestos.
 

Mesothelioma Scheme: Update

Nov 30, 2020

The 24-page annual review of the UK Government’s Diffuse Mesothelioma Payment Scheme (DMPS) for 2019 to 2020 was published last week by the Department of Work & Pensions. Since the scheme launched in 2014, 1,500 mesothelioma sufferers have received compensation of £205.2 million. This past year, the average payment to applicants was £144,000, a decrease of £4,000 on the previous year. The DMPS provides compensation to mesothelioma sufferers who were negligently exposed to asbestos at work but were unable to obtain compensation from their former employer or their former employer’s insurer. See: Diffuse Mesothelioma Payment Scheme: annual review 2019 to 2020.
 

Asbestos Trial in Milan

Nov 30, 2020

On November 27, 2020 Maurizio Ascione, the Public Prosecutor trying a case against executives alleged to have caused the deaths from asbestos-related diseases of La Scala Opera House staff, asked that the four defendants be given prison sentences ranging from 2½ to 7 years. The longest sentence, Ascione said, should be given to Giovanni Traina, who was the theater’s external health and safety consultant. During a preliminary hearing charges against four former Mayors of Milan had been dropped. See: Amianto alla Scala, condannate i manager [Asbestos at La Scala, condemn the managers].
 

Toxic Give-Aways by Local Council

Nov 30, 2020

On November 27, 2020, Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare announced that gifts distributed by Kaizuka City, Osaka Prefecture to taxpayers was contaminated with asbestos. The bath mats and coasters were made from diatomaceous earth – a naturally occurring, soft, siliceous sedimentary rock that is crumbled into a fine white to off-white powder. The products were marketed under the brand name “Caraco” and were made by the Horiki Kosakusho company in Kaizuka City; they were found to contain up to 0.61% asbestos. See: 返礼品にアスベスト含有、製造元が回収 大阪・貝塚市ふるさと納税 [Asbestos containing goods, distributed by Kaizuka City in return for local tax payment to be collected by the manufacturer].
 

Asbestos Removal Program: Update

Nov 26, 2020

An asbestos removal program sponsored by the government of Nakuru County – the fourth most populous county in Kenya – is progressing efforts to remove asbestos roofing materials from thousands of domestic properties to protect public health; scheduled works aim to complete the decontamination by the end of 2021.The National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) classifies asbestos as a “poisonous” substance; NEMA ordered all the asbestos material on government facilities to be replaced. According to Nakura’s Governor Lee Kinyanjui: “Asbestos [roofs] have been proven to be dangerous and we are working round the clock to replace them by next year, from all the institutions and estates.” See: County replaces asbestos roofs with iron sheets.
 

Remediation of Toxic Trains

Nov 26, 2020

According to Comboios de Portugal (CP), the company which purchased 51 asbestos-contaminated railway carriages from the Spanish company Renfe for 1.65 million euros, decontamination work on 36 of the carriages has now been completed a few days ahead of schedule. Remodelling work is now underway on 3 of the carriages at the CP workshop in Guifões, Matosinhos. The plan is for the rolling stock to be in circulation on the Viana do Castelo-Valença railway line at the end of 2022. See: CP conclui remoção de amianto de carruagens compradas a Espanha [CP concludes asbestos removal from carriages purchased from Spain].
 

Research Center Opens in Sheffield

Nov 26, 2020

This week the Mesothelioma UK Research Center-Sheffield – for investigating new protocols and treatments for people suffering from the signature asbestos cancer mesothelioma – opened at Sheffield University (see: Launch of mesothelioma research centre). According to the Center’s co-director Professor Angela Mary Tod, the ultimate goal of the Center is to find a cure for the aggressive and deadly cancer which kills 2,500+ people in Britain every year. The Center, the first of its kind in the UK dedicated to patient experience-based and supportive care mesothelioma research, is sponsored by national charity Mesothelioma UK. According to its Head of Services Liz Darlison MBE, the opening of the Center was the culmination of years of work. See: Mesothelioma lung cancer centre set for Sheffield.
 

Milan Asbestos Trial

Nov 26, 2020

Legal proceedings brought on behalf of 10 workers from La Scala Opera House are coming to an end in a Milan courtroom. In the dock are four defendants accused of negligence in allowing asbestos exposures of the workers to occur. On November 20, 2020, the final two witnesses for the defence argued that the exposures which caused the workers to contract asbestos-related diseases had taken place outside the Opera House at other workplaces or via an environmental vector such as living in the town of Casale Monferrato, home to Italy’s largest asbestos-cement factory. See: Milano: alle battute finali il processo per i lavoratori morti di amianto alla Scala [Milan: the trial for dead asbestos workers at La Scala is in the final stages].
 

Asbestos Riddle in Mining State

Nov 26, 2020

Despite the existence of a national asbestos ban as per a 2017 verdict of the Brazilian Supreme Court (STF), it was announced on November 17, 2020 that production of chrysotile (white) asbestos would recommence at the SAMA asbestos mine in Minaçu City, Goiás State under state law No. 20,514 adopted by the Goiás Legislative Assembly. Objections to the law’s unconstitutionality have been lodged with the STF. The Attorney General for Goiás State said that all the asbestos mined would be exported. See: Amianto em Goiás: entenda a disputa jurídica [Asbestos in Goiás: understand the legal dispute].
 

Online Premiere of Asbestos Drama

Nov 26, 2020

A filmed version of an award-winning play by Francis Poet entitled Fibres, about the life of a former Scottish shipyard worker who is suffering from asbestosis, will be premiering online at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, November 25. The play – a co-production of Stellar Quines Theatre Company and the Citizens Theatre, Glasgow – toured Scotland in 2019. The protagonist Jack had been occupationally exposed to asbestos at the Clyde shipyard; his wife Beanie had washed the contaminated clothing he brought home. Viewers are requested to book in advance for free tickets and, where possible, consider making a donation. See: Fibres.
 

Asbestos Memorial Service in Perth

Nov 24, 2020

Asbestos victims’ groups, charities, civil society organizations and government agencies mark Asbestos Awareness Month every November. The Asbestos Diseases Society of Australia (ADSA) – based in Perth, Western Australia – will be holding its annual Ecumenical Service on the morning of November 27 “in remembrance of those who have died from asbestos diseases.” This service provides an opportunity for members of the ADSA community and the medical, legal and healthcare professionals who support them to join together in reflection about the lives which have been lost due to Australia’s asbestos epidemic. If you cannot support them in person, a donation would be very welcome. See: Asbestos Diseases Society of Australia.
 

The Asbestos Hazard in Colombia

Nov 24, 2020

On November 18, 2020, a 20 minute upload to YouTube highlighted the ongoing hazard posed by asbestos-containing products in Colombia, a country which banned the use of asbestos in 2019. Footage illustrating the ubiquity of asbestos-cement (ac) products showed ac roofing, pipes and other building materials. Scenes of workmen breaking, manipulating and waterblasting this material highlighted the lack of any awareness of the toxicity of the products being handled. The resource was created by the Colombia Asbestos Free Foundation in collaboration with Australia’s Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency and other partnering organizations. See: Asbesto Audiovisual [Audiovisual Asbestos].
 

Raising Asbestos Awareness

Nov 24, 2020

Efforts continue in Vietnam to address low levels of asbestos awareness via outreach projects and information sessions such as one held on November 20 in Bac Kan province, in the northeast of the country. The event was organized by the Institute of Natural Resources, Environment and Community Development in coordination with the Committee for Ethnic Minorities of Bac Kan province; it was entitled: Include Chrysotile [Asbestos] on the List of Hazardous Waste Materials and Require Warning Labels on Asbestos-containing Products. Having delineated the ubiquity and toxicity of asbestos-containing material, speakers proposed that delegates be proactive in preventing toxic exposures and not use or reuse any asbestos material. See: Đưa Amiăng trắng vào danh sách chất độc hại [Put chrysotile on the list of toxic substances].
 

Medical Program for Asbestos Victims

Nov 24, 2020

On November 18, 2020, 17 asbestos-exposed workers constituted the first cohort in a new healthcare outreach program in the Brazilian city of Piracicaba. The workers underwent free clinical evaluations and imaging tests after being briefed by staff about the protocols to be followed. According to one of the organizers, the purpose of the initiative was “to ensure comprehensive health care, enable mutual knowledge between the parties and create bonds that facilitated the continuity of treatment and mutual cooperation between patients, families and the community.” See: Trabalhadores expostos ao amianto de 5 cidades da região de Piracicaba começam a receber atendimento de saúde [Workers exposed to asbestos in 5 cities in the Piracicaba region start receiving health care].
 

Asbestos and Urban Development

Nov 24, 2020

The need to safely dispose of asbestos waste produced during development work was highlighted last week in a press release by the workers' group Associated Labor Unions-Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (ALU-TUCP) which urged the SM Development Corporation to take care in its handling of asbestos stripped from a multi-story iconic structure in Manila called the Philamlife building. The ALU-TUCP document was the basis of an article published on November 23, 2020. The toxic Philamlife asbestos waste – containing a large amount of ceiling boards and wall insulation – was produced during months of renovation work and is currently stored in the building. See: Dispose Philamlife cancerous asbestos now!
 

Johnson & Johnson $120 Million Payout

Nov 24, 2020

On November 18, 2020, New York State Supreme Court Judge Gerald Lebovits upheld a jury’s 2019 finding that Johnson & Johnson was liable for the asbestos cancer contracted by 67-year old mesothelioma sufferer Donna Olson who had routinely used the company’s talc-based baby powder as part of her daily hygiene routine. The Judge, however, lowered the damages awarded by the jury to the Brooklyn woman and her husband from $325 million to $120m which included $15m of compensatory and $105m of punitive damages. See: Johnson & Johnson ordered to pay $120 million as damages in New York baby powder case.
 

Judicial Action on Stalled Case

Nov 23, 2020

Australian mesothelioma sufferer Dr Warwick Harper believes that his cancer was caused by exposure to asbestos in tunnels under the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Sydney in 1972-74. In January, 2020 he initiated a compensation claim against Sydney Local Health District in the New South Wales Dust Diseases Tribunal. In a preliminary judgment on November 19, Judge David Russell, accepting that mediation had failed, ruled the case should be removed from the resolution process and be managed by a tribunal judge. Highlighting the urgency of the case, the Judge said: “It is of course essential that the plaintiff's claim be settled or completed in his lifetime, as he will lose his claim for future loss of earning capacity if he passes away before the proceedings are concluded.” See: Sydney doctor sues over ‘tunnel asbestos’.
 

Victims’ Victory in Missouri!

Nov 23, 2020

The Missouri Supreme Court has rejected legal efforts by Johnson & Johnson to overturn a state appellate court’s opinion and has upheld a $2.11 billion verdict against the company for punitive and compensatory damages to 20 plaintiffs with ovarian cancer caused by their use of the company’s talc-based baby powder. In June 2020 the Court of Appeals for the Eastern District of Missouri had unanimously upheld a trial jury’s finding that J&J had engaged in “reprehensible conduct” by manufacturing and selling asbestos-containing talcum powder products over many decades. See: Missouri supreme court denies review of $2.11 billion talc-ovarian cancer ruling.
 

Asbestos Waste Dump

Nov 23, 2020

A regional plan, 28 years in the making, to dispose of asbestos waste by dumping it in redundant mines in Sicily has been condemned by local politicians with comments such as: “The Region remembers the Enna area only when it comes to making it become the garbage dump of Sicily.” According to the plan, the toxic debris would be deposited in already polluted quarries in Caltanissetta, Catania and other cities. Local opposition is building as civil society groups coalesce to fight the proposal. See: Sicilia, comuni in rivolta per lo smaltimento di amianto nelle miniere mai bonificate: “Non siamo la discarica della Regione” [Sicily, municipalities in revolt over the disposal of asbestos in mines never reclaimed: “We are not the landfill of the Region”].
 

Madrid Metro Liable for Asbestos Death

Nov 23, 2020

At the 11th hour, Madrid Metro – the company that operates the mass transit system of the Spanish capital – acknowledged liability for the 2018 death of a 57-year old worker who had contracted the cancer pleural mesothelioma from hazardous occupational exposures to asbestos. The company’s change of mind came as legal proceedings were scheduled to begin on November 18. The trade union representing the workforce hoped that the company would continue to accept its responsibility for other workers who had gotten ill or died from asbestos-related diseases caused by workplace exposures. See: Metro Madrid se ahorra el juicio reconociendo daños y perjuicios del primer fallecido por Amianto [Metro Madrid forestalls trial by accepting liability for asbestos death of former worker].
 

Gendered Experience of Mesothelioma

Nov 23, 2020

The results of a report just published entitled “Gendered Experience of Mesothelioma Study” by Mesothelioma UK and the University of Sheffield will inform policies and treatments adopted by healthcare professionals and policy makers. Amongst the key findings were: high risk occupations for men differed from those for women; women and younger men had lower levels of asbestos awareness; gender differences existed in the experiences and support provided at the time of diagnosis; patients’ capacity to cope with their diagnoses and subsequent treatment was affected by gender expectations. See: New report on gender differences in the experience of asbestos-related cancer.
 

Asbestos Program: Update

Nov 23, 2020

Work in Poland to eradicate asbestos within the national infrastructure by 2032 continues. A recent update from Nowosądecki County in Southern Poland reported that in 2020 asbestos roofing was remediated in a further 221 houses in the Sądecczyzna Region with financial support supplied under the government project “Liquidation of asbestos-containing products in the Nowosądecki County.” Under the Asbestos Waste Disposal Program, which was implemented in Nowosądecki County in 2001, between 2018 and 2020 more than 3,122 tons of asbestos-containing waste was removed and disposed of at a cost of PLN 993,000 (US$265,000). See: Azbest znika z kolejnych dachów [Asbestos disappears from roofs].
 

Embargo on Toxic Talc!

Nov 19, 2020

Congo’s Ministry of Commerce suspended the import and marketing of Johnson & Johnson’s talc-based baby powder over health concerns arising from the product’s contamination with asbestos. Confiscation of this product will be undertaken from all distribution establishments, depots and stores. The results of laboratory tests are pending but the Ministry has been proactive given the serious threat to health. The Government’s action is a response to lobbying by a civil society group – Action for the Environment and Development – which raised the matter at a meeting in Brazzaville on November 13. See: Cosmétique: le Congo suspend l’importation de la poudre pour bébé ‘‘Johnson baby powder’’ [Cosmetics: Congo suspends import of Johnson baby powder].
 

Remediating Philadelphia’s Schools

Nov 20, 2020

The University of Pennsylvania announced on November 17th that it would be making a $100 million donation to the Philadelphia School District to fund work to remediate asbestos and lead contamination in schools. The funding will be delivered over a decade with $10m being provided each year. Welcoming this news, School District officials said the gift will “not only help us to ensure these safe spaces for every student," but will allow the district to invest in “a new and compelling vision for school facilities.” See: Penn to donate $100 million to Philadelphia School District to help with asbestos, lead abatement.
 

UK Asbestos Prosecution

Nov 19, 2020

On November 16, 2020, the website of the Health & Safety Executive announced that the Bristol company Prestige EA Ltd. had been fined for failing to correctly conduct and complete an asbestos survey at a domestic construction project in 2017. Prestige EA Ltd. had been commissioned to advise and manage the development of a property into four flats above a retail unit but undertook the wrong type of asbestos survey. The company, which is now in liquidation, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3 of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and was fined £2,000 with costs of £3,000. See: Building contractor fined for asbestos failings at a domestic property construction project.
 

Catalan Asbestos Removal Initiative

Nov 19, 2020

On November 16, 2020, the Catalan Waste Agency announced a two million euro scheme to subsidize 100% of the costs of the removal of asbestos-containing insulation and construction materials; the objective of the scheme is to ensure that work is carried out under optimum conditions and by specialist operatives. Eligible applicants include local authorities, public administrations, social enterprises and non-profit companies. Funding will cover the costs of handling and removing asbestos, transport, management and treatment by certified companies. See: La Agencia de Residuos de Cataluña abre una nueva línea de ayudas de dos millones para la retirada de residuos de amianto [Catalan Waste Agency opens a new source of funding of two million euros for the removal of asbestos waste].
 

Asbestos Eradication Law in Catalonia

Nov 18, 2020

On November 17, 2020, the Executive Council of the Government of Catalonia approved draft legislation for the eradication of asbestos. In a press conference, the Regional Minister of the Presidency and spokesperson for the Government Meritxell Budó explained that the new law would protect the public as well as workers from toxic exposures. Key issues which need to be addressed Budó said were the ubiquity of asbestos material throughout the region – estimated at 4 million tonnes – an information vacuum and a lack of legislation mandating asbestos removal. A public consultation will be carried out and specialist advisors will be consulted. See: Catalunya empieza a elaborar una ley de retirada del Amianto [Catalonia begins to draw up an asbestos removal law].
 

Asbestos Medical Outreach Program

Nov 18, 2020

Following on from medical outreach efforts conducted on November 7, 2020 in the Brazilian State of Minas Gerais, on November 14 another group of former asbestos-exposed employees from the Precon company – the last asbestos-cement factory in Brazil to discontinue the use of asbestos – were examined by a medical team, part of a pioneering program to identify and care for asbestos victims (see: Brazilian Success: Pioneering Medical Program to Expand!). Doctors Ubiratan de Paula Santos, Jefferson Benedito Pires de Freitas and Rafael Futoshi Mizutani donated the services of their team to conduct this intervention for high risk individuals. See: Photo [Courtesy of Alexandro Cristino Guimarães, leader of the asbestos victims’ group representing Precon workers].
 

Lost Asbestos Compensation?

Nov 18, 2020

The destination of compensation payments for the bereaved daughters of Louise Fortin, a Canadian nursing assistant who died from the asbestos cancer, mesothelioma, seems to be in some doubt according to an article published in the Montreal Journal. Although compensation of $120,000 was paid to Isabel Anne-Marie Gélinas by the Committee on Standards, Equity, Health and Safety at Work (CNESST), there has been no accounting by the CNESST for sums clawbacked from American defendants following the intervention of US attorneys. The sisters are considering plans to file a class action against the CNESST. See: Recours réclamé par les filles d’une soignante tuée par l’amiante [Compensation claimed by the daughters of a caregiver killed by asbestos].
 

Asbestos Litigation against EPA

Nov 18, 2020

On November 12, 2020, lawyers representing the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) defended the US government’s asbestos policy in a San Francisco federal court against a lawsuit brought by six U.S. public health organizations. According to Justice Department lawyer Brandon Adkins: “The EPA has offered its basis which is rooted in science, and the court should defer to the agency’s discretion.” The plaintiffs allege that the EPA violated the Administrative Procedure Act by denying their 2018 petition asking the Agency to amend the TSCA Chemical Data Reporting rule and require additional reporting on asbestos in order to protect citizens from toxic exposures. See: Trump’s EPA Defends Asbestos Reporting Loopholes in Court.
 

Greening Redundant Asbestos Sites

Nov 18, 2020

According to a survey carried out by the Canada Research Chair in Ecological Economics at the University of Quebec in Outaouais, which was published this month (November, 2020), the majority of residents in Quebec’s former asbestos mining heartland support the remediation of contaminated sites in the Chaudière-Appalaches and Estrie regions “to help improve the environment” by vegetating sites and turning them into green spaces. The asbestos waste dumps are owned by the Granilake company, which says it wants to: “to plant grasses, plants, trees to restore a vegetal cover.” See: Végétaliser les vieilles mines d’amiante: une idée Populaire [Greening old asbestos mines: a popular idea].
 

Asbestos Limbo

Nov 16, 2020

Although Kenya banned asbestos in 2006, the prohibition directive has not yet been put into force. As a result, dangerous products incorporated within the national infrastructure remain a potent hazard to members of the public as well as workers, John Chumo, secretary-general of the National Environmental Complaints Committee, told a Kenyan reporter on November 12, 2020. In his remarks, Chumo highlighted the need for a nationwide awareness campaign to educate the general public and employees of the hazards posed by asbestos exposures. The improper disposal of asbestos-containing materials is also problematic due to the lack of financial resources and capacity to deal safely with toxic debris. See: Implement asbestos ban to save lives, state told.
 

Asbestos Mine Dispute

Nov 16, 2020

Not for the first time, workers at Zimbabwe’s Shabanie chrysotile asbestos mine have been short-changed by management. Representatives of the disgruntled workforce – currently owed more than US$ 2.8 million –have requested that the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) initiate an investigation over corporate corruption. According to Mr. J. Chinhema from the Zimbabwe Diamonds and Allied Workers Union, whilst withholding salaries from the workers, the administrator running the company has simultaneously been selling off company assets. See: Shabanie workers approach ZACC over assets.
 

Mesothelioma in Montreal!

Nov 16, 2020

The adverse health consequences of working in an iconic office building in Montreal which was contaminated with asbestos was recognized in August 2020 when the (Canadian) Commission des normes, de l'équité, de la santé et de la sécurité du travail (Committee on standards, equity, health and safety at work) paid compensation to mesothelioma sufferer Jean-Pierre Archambault who spent 42 years in the building as an employee of the  Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce. Lawyers for the bank, which was due to reimburse the Standards Commission challenged, the decision deeming it "unfounded in fact and in law.” See: Ex-employé de la Banque CIBC exposé à l’amiante dédommagé [Man who worked in a tower in Montreal suffers from incurable cancer].
 

Metro Asbestos Removal Program

Nov 16, 2020

More than 200 tonnes (t) of asbestos-containing cement products have been removed from the Barcelona metro; a further 82t of toxic material has been identified but a further 158t of asbestos material remains in place, according to information released by Transports Metropolitans de Barcelona (Barcelona City Transport), the company which operates the transport system. According to the planned schedule of works, the remediation program will be completed by the end of next year (2021). See: Retirados dos tercios del amianto identificado en el metro de Barcelona [Two thirds of the asbestos identified in the Barcelona metro has been removed].
 

Sub-Contracted Workers' Asbestos Anxiety

Nov 13, 2020

An update on the eligibility of sub-contracted workers to claim damages for asbestos anxiety in France confirmed that following a ruling on September 30, 2020 by the Court of Cassation – France’s Supreme Court – workers who were employed as subcontractors were able to make a claim for asbestos anxiety against a former employer for failures to take timely action to protect workers from hazardous exposures. Claimants must provide evidence of their asbestos exposures and demonstrate the adverse effects of this exposure on their health. See: Amiante: l'action pour préjudice d'anxiété ouverte aux sous-traitants [Asbestos: action for prejudice of anxiety open to subcontractors].
 

Basque Asbestos Claim

Nov 13, 2020

On November 12, 2020, there was a hearing in Social Court number 3 in San Sebastián, a city in the Basque Autonomous Community, on behalf of the family of a worker who died in 2018 from the asbestos cancer, mesothelioma. The deceased had spent “all his working life” employed by Construcciones y Auxiliar de Ferrocarriles [Construction and Railway Auxiliary] where he was routinely exposed to asbestos. The family was claiming damages of nearly €390,000 (US$~$460,000). See: La familia de un fallecido por exposición al amianto reclama 388.926 euros [The family of a deceased due to asbestos exposure claims 388,926 euros].
 

Update: Asbestos at Grenfell Tower

Nov 13, 2020

A briefing was published by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government on November 10, 2020 based on a meeting with local people that took place weeks earlier about asbestos removal in and around the site of Grenfell Tower. The panel of speakers informing the discussions included a site manager, civil servants and a health and safety specialist. Certified specialist operatives using state-of-the-art techniques were working to remove chrysotile and amosite asbestos from Grenfell and nearby buildings on the estate. A “robust regime of air monitoring” is ensuring that there “is no increased risk [to local people] as a result of the works…” See: Asbestos removal in and around Grenfell Tower: summary and Q&A from the 21 September event.
 

Asbestos at Home!

Nov 13, 2020

An article documenting the prevalence of asbestos in everyday items highlighted the hazard posed to people in Vietnam of domestic exposures to products as diverse as roofing sheets, water pipes, cement, flooring, insulation, water tanks and thermos flasks. The author reviewed findings by the World Health Organization regarding the carcinogenicity of asbestos and reiterated the advice that “the most effective way to prevent these diseases is to stop using all forms of asbestos to prevent exposure.” See: Chất độc mà WHO xếp đầu danh sách những chất gây ung thư nội tạng, hóa ra luôn hiện diện ở những vật dụng quen thuộc trong ngôi nhà bạn [The poison that WHO ranks at the top of the list of carcinogens turns out to be always present in familiar objects in your home].
 

Asbestos in Schools Remediation: Too Slow

Nov 13, 2020

South Korean politician Lee Kwang-il representing Yeosu City has criticized the Jeonnam Provincial Office of Education for the slow pace with which it has progressed the decontamination of schools in Yeosu City. To date, only 36% of the affected buildings have been remediated and, he said, at this rate it will be impossible to comply with the 2027 deadline set for the completion of the schools’ asbestos removal program by the Ministry of Education. See: 이광일 전남도의원, 학교 석면제거 부진 해소방안 마련 촉구 [Jeonnam Provincial Clinic urges Lee Kwang-il to come up with measures to resolve the sluggish removal of asbestos in schools].
 

Swindon Mesothelioma Claim

Nov 13, 2020

A personal injury case over the 2018 mesothelioma death of Terry McLaughlin – a man who taught art in Swindon schools from 1979 till 1993 – has resulted in his widow receiving compensation from the insurers of Wiltshire County Council. Commenting on the outcome of the case, Mrs. McLaughlin’s solicitor Lorna Webster said: “The disregard given to Terry's health by the council is shocking. Sadly we are seeing more and more cases like Terry's, where the contact with asbestos happened in an occupation not immediately linked to asbestos exposure.” See: Swindon teacher's widow gets asbestos compensation.
 

Mobilization on Asbestos Hazard

Nov 10, 2020

Work to protect people in Vietnam from the asbestos hazard continued this month with a workshop on November 6 in Lang Son city entitled: Include Chrysotile (Asbestos) on the List of Hazardous Waste Materials and Require Warning Labels on Asbestos-containing Products. The event was organized by the Institute of Natural Resources, Environment and Community Development in collaboration with the Committee for Ethnic Minorities of Lang Son province. Vietnam currently imports 60,000 tonnes of asbestos per year; the vast majority of asbestos roofing sheets made in Vietnam are used in mountainous areas inhabited by ethnic minorities. See: Vận động đưa Amiăng trắng vào danh sách chất thải độc hại [Advocacy to put chrysotile on the list of hazardous waste].
 

New Asbestos Outreach Project

Nov 10, 2020

On November 7, 2020 in the Brazilian State of Minas Gerais, 22 former asbestos-exposed employees from the Precon company – owners of the last asbestos-cement factory in Brazil to discontinue the use of asbestos – were examined by a medical team, part of a pioneering program to identify and care for asbestos victims. The patients received X-ray, tomography and spirometry tests. Although Minas Gerais is one of Brazil’s most economically developed states, the public health system does not, according to an expert “adequately fulfil its role of epidemiological surveillance and health care for its population, especially asbestos victims.” See: Photograph.
 

Asbestos Mortality: Documentation

Nov 10, 2020

A group representing Japanese patients with asbestos-related diseases has welcomed moves by Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare (MHLW) to mandate the long-term retention of death certificates for asbestos-caused deaths; in Tokyo, Yokohama, Chiba, Mito, Maebashi, Nagano, Kanazawa, Hiroshima and Tokushima and elsewhere these documents are routinely destroyed five years after the deaths occurred. Acting upon the MHLW’s request, the Ministry of Justice required 50 Legal Affairs Bureaus to retain these death certificates for 27 years. See: アスベスト労災の死亡診断書、法務省が27年間保存要請 患者団体「大きな進展」 [Death certificate for asbestos work accidents, Ministry of Justice requests preservation for 27 years Patient group “Major progress”].
 

Victory in Asbestos Anxiety Case

Nov 10, 2020

On November 5, 2020 it was announced that an appeal against verdicts awarding compensation of €2,000 to €11,000 for asbestos anxiety to 150 former workers at a landmark building in Nantes had been abandoned by the defendants. Earlier this year, the administrative court of appeal and the administrative court of Nantes supported claims by people who had worked at the Tripod building between 1972 and 1993, finding the national and municipal authorities negligent for failing to prevent toxic exposures. See: Nantes. Préjudice d’anxiété liée à l’amiante au Tripode: l’État renonce à faire appel [Nantes. Asbestos-related anxiety damage in the Tripod: the State gives up appeal].
 

Asbestos Eradication Program

Nov 10, 2020

The governing body of the Spanish island of Gran Canaria has announced plans to remediate asbestos-containing material from 200 properties to protect public health. The work, which will cost €345,000 (~US$410,000), will be conducted by specialist operatives. Illegal dumping of asbestos waste has been widespread on the island, creating environmental problems in places such as Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Telde, Arucas, Moya, Teror, Agaete, Firgas, San Bartolomé de Tirajana and Ingenio. See: El Cabildo retirará 160 toneladas de amianto en 200 inmuebles de Gran Canaria para evitar problemas de salud y vertidos incontrolados [Cabildo will remove 160 tons of asbestos in 200 properties in Gran Canaria to avoid health problems and uncontrolled spills].
 

Asbestos Hot Potato

Nov 10, 2020

The legacy of an abandoned village in Busan, South Korea has been an environmental nightmare for local people. Residents who deserted the locale left behind toxic waste including asbestos-cement building material which continues to litter the site, according to a recent newspaper exposé which identified asbestos fibers in the rubble. Municipal buildings such as a daycare facility, social welfare center, high school and residential housing are within close proximity of the site. Authorities contacted by the reporter refused to accept responsibility for the situation. See: [취재후] 어린이집 옆 야산의 비밀…10년째 발암물질 ‘석면’ 방치 [After coverage. The secret of the hillside next to the daycare center… Carcinogenic substance, asbestos neglected for 10 years].
 

Paris Court of Appeal Hearing

Nov 6, 2020

Fifteen years after a legal case was brought on behalf of asbestos victims from Cherbourg, proceedings will begin on November 6, 2020 at the Paris Court of Appeals. The ten claimants were pipe-fitters, insulators, carpenters and welders employed in the construction of submarines at the Normandy shipyard. As a result of their occupational asbestos exposures, they contracted asbestos-related diseases without ever having been warned of the asbestos hazard. Lawyers for the plaintiffs will urge the court to instigate a criminal trial of those whose negligence caused the illnesses and deaths of these workers. See: Victimes de l’amiante: un déni de justice qui dure depuis 15 ans [Asbestos victims: a denial of justice that has lasted for 15 years].
 

UK Asbestos Data: Update

Nov 6, 2020

Data released this month by the UK’s Health & Safety Executive (HSE) confirmed the status of the national asbestos epidemic as of 2018; the number of deaths that year from asbestos-related cancers and diseases was 5,000 with 2,446 deaths from malignant pleural mesothelioma and the same number estimated from asbestos-related lung cancers. Occupational lung diseases accounted for around 12,000 of the 13,000 total annual deaths estimated to be linked to hazardous exposures at work. See: Health and safety at work Summary statistics for Great Britain 2020.
 

Victims’ Ruling!

Nov 6, 2020

On November 3, 2020 the Missouri Supreme Court rejected an appeal by the pharmaceutical giant Johnson and Johnson (J&J) over a 2018 jury verdict awarding $2.12 billion to women who contracted ovarian cancer as a result of using the company’s baby powder which they alleged had contained asbestos fibers. On June 20, 2020, a state appeals court had upheld the original verdict but reduced J&J’s payout from $4.69 billion after dismissing claims by some of the 22 plaintiffs. Lawyers for J&J announced that the company would take this case to the Supreme Court. See: Johnson & Johnson fails to overturn $2.12 billion baby powder verdict, plans Supreme Court appeal.
 

Asbestos Hazard in Russia’s Far East

Nov 6, 2020

Acting Governor of Russia’s Khabarovsk Territory Mikhail Degtyarev announced plans to rehouse tenants living in “notorious” 70-year-old housing built with asbestos in the village of Berlin, Druzhba – a microdistrict of Komsomolsk-on-Amur city – on account of the hazard posed by living in close proximity to this acknowledged carcinogen. Degtyarev has ordered various Ministries – including the Ministry of Housing and Communal Services – to work together to resolve the issue. See: Михаил Дегтярёв призвал срочно расселить аварийные дома в посёлке Берлин [Mikhail Degtyarev urged to urgently resettle [occupants of] emergency housing in the village of Berlin].
 

Asbestos Propaganda

Nov 4, 2020

An online Russian article, informed by asbestos lobbyists, reviewed the ongoing battle to end the use of carcinogenic chrysotile asbestos which, the author alleged, was a commercially-motivated initiative rather than a campaign to protect public and occupational health. Asserting that the latest science – produced to order by asbestos industry-funded scientists – proved the use of chrysotile asbestos was safe, the author stated: “Among the employees of Orenburg Minerals [Russia’s biggest chrysotile asbestos producer], not a single case of an occupational disease was recorded due to contact with chrysotile asbestos.” See: Почему на западе ведут борьбу против хризотиловой промышленности в РФ [Why in the West they are fighting against the chrysotile industry in the Russian Federation].
 

New Asbestos Mortality Data

Nov 4, 2020

On October 5, 2020  “2019 ESSENTIALS Health and safety at work” was published in France; it highlighted the ongoing human costs of the country’s widespread use of asbestos. In 2019, asbestos-related occupational diseases ranked 2nd amongst recognized occupational illnesses with 2,881 cases being recognized; these included 1,800 cases of cancer most of which affected retired workers. During the year, the Asbestos Victims Compensation Fund (FIVA) made payments of € 260 million. See: L’ESSENTIEL 2019 Santé et sécurité au travail [2019 ESSENTIALS Health and Safety at work].
 

History: Yukon Mining Town

Nov 4, 2020

A photograph of two workers at an asbestos mine in the Yukon was the starting point for a short discussion about the history of British Colombia’s Clinton Creek asbestos mine – operated by Cassiar Asbestos Corporation from 1966 to 1978. Neither the environment nor the buildings on the site have been remediated; the contamination left behind continues to pose a hazard to populations living downstream from the site. One of the individuals in the photograph (see below), 22 year old Richard, recalled his days in the mine’s bagging department, handling 60-pound blocks of asbestos fiber; preferring dynamite to asbestos, he transferred to the blasting crew. See: An asbestos mine, a 50-year-old photo and a trip back in time.
 

National Asbestos Death Toll

Nov 4, 2020

A Japanese language article highlighted findings published by the Global Burden of Disease report which suggested that asbestos mortality in Japan (20,267), was the 3rd highest in the world, after the US (40,000) and China (26,000) in 2019. According to campaigner Sugio Furuya: “the actual scope of asbestos harm in Japan is unknown. This estimate reiterates that the current compensation and relief cannot save the victims.” Japan used asbestos long after other industrialized countries had banned it; prohibition of use started in 1995 with bans on amosite and crocidolite and was completed with a ban on all types in 2012. See: 日本の19年石綿関連死者数、推計2万人超 研究機関調査 [Japan's 19-year asbestos-related deaths, estimated to exceed 20,000 in Research institute survey].
 

Asbestos Fly-tipping

Nov 4, 2020

Illegal dumping of asbestos-containing waste has created an environmental problem in the city of Badajoz, in southwest Spain. Responding to the situation, the city council undertook a remediation program to remove 2,600 kilos of asbestos-cement from various hotspots in the city. Of the €16,500 budgeted for this work, almost €10,000 has been spent. Citizens are asked to monitor their areas and report the dumping of potentially toxic waste to the local authorities. See: El Consistorio pacense retira más de 2.600 kilos de amianto de vertidos ilegales [The City Council of Badajoz removes more than 2,600 kilos of asbestos from illegal dumping].
 

Asbestos Expose Wins Prize!

Nov 3, 2020

An expose entitled Doctors of Death by Natara Felizardo, which was uploaded in January 2020 by the Brazilian online publication The Intercept, has won this year’s National Association of Labor Judges (ANAMATRA) of Brazil Award for Human Rights in the electronic media category (internet). This feature article detailed a litany of wrongdoings by medical doctors and researchers linked to the Brazilian asbestos mining company SAMA. Illnesses contracted by SAMA workers were routinely found to be caused by smoking or drinking and not by exposures to asbestos; the results of medical tests provided by SAMA were retained by the company. See: Doutores de la Morte [Doctors of Death].
 

Mesothelioma Research: Update

Nov 3, 2020

Researchers at Flinders University, in Adelaide, South Australia are pioneering treatment protocols and techniques to achieve early diagnoses of malignant mesothelioma in order to achieve longer survival rates. A team under Associate Professor Klebe is exploring the feasibility and safety of using intrapleural liposomal curcumin to extend patient survival and improve quality of life. Next year (2021), a clinical test will begin to test the efficacy of a therapy using curcumin, a key component of the spice turmeric. Work is also being progressed to find a non-invasive way to test for malignant mesothelioma using lung fluid, to facilitate an early diagnosis. See: Trial targets deadly lung cancer.
 

Asbestos Removal in Schools

Nov 3, 2020

Portugal’s Ministry of Territorial Unity has extended the deadline for municipalities to apply for financial subsidies under the national asbestos removal program for schools until November 30. To date, 245 applications had been submitted from 51 municipalities many with projects relating to multiple schools; the total requested so far amounted to €34.3m, which equated to 66% of the total available (€52m). Under the terms of the grants, work on the contaminated buildings must be finished by August 31, 2021 “so that the academic year 2021/2022 can start asbestos-free in school buildings.” See: Alargado prazo para câmaras se candidatarem à recolha de Amianto [Deadline extended for bodies to apply for asbestos removal [subsidy]].
 

Union Action on Asbestos

Nov 3, 2020

On October 30, 2020, members of the Spanish trade union CCOO demanded that the Occupational Safety and Health Committee at Saint Gobain – a company which had used asbestos in its glass manufacturing processes prior to the Spanish ban – activate the asbestos prevention protocol due to asbestos exposures experienced by 12 workers, some of whom are now retired, at the company’s facility in La Maruca, Madrid. The Union requested that the management recognize the existence of asbestos in its facilities in order for it to be listed on the Register of Companies with Asbestos Risk. Management representatives agreed to investigate the situation. See: CCOO denuncia exposiciones al amianto en Saint-Gobain [CCOO denounces asbestos exposures in Saint-Gobain].
 

Provincial Asbestos Action Plan

Nov 3, 2020

A substantial allocation of funding for the removal of asbestos from schools throughout the Korea Province of Gyeonggi has been included in the 2021 budget of the Gyeonggi Province Office of Education which was published on October 28, 2020. Out of a total of 131.4 billion won (~US$116m), 24.9 billion won (~US$22m) was ring-fenced for asbestos removal and remediation of 40 Gyeonggi school buildings and 2,505 classrooms in 2021. See: "무상교복·석면제거 등"… 경기도·도교육청·시군, 내년 3천500억 투입한다 [“Free school uniform, asbestos removal, etc.”... Gyeonggi-do, Provincial Office of Education, Si-Gun, will invest 350 billion won next year].
 

Award for Health & Safety Activist

Oct 30, 2020

On October 27, 2020, it was announced that the work of Sanjiv Pandita, from the Asian Network for the Rights of Occupational and Environmental Victims (ANROEV), the Asian Ban Asbestos Network (ABAN) and the NGO Solidar Suisse, had been recognized by members of the American Public Health Association (APHA). In a virtual presentation made by Garrett Brown, Sanjiv was awarded the Leslie Nickels International Health & Safety Award 2020 in recognition of his “outstanding achievement in the field of occupational health and safety outside the U.S.” See: 2020 APHA OHS Awards [View from 1.01.20-1.12.00].
 

Brazil’s Asbestos Conundrum

Oct 30, 2020

On October 21, 2020, Brazil’s Inter-Union Department of Health and Work Environment Studies and Research [Departamento Intersindical de Estudos e Pesquisas de Saúde e dos Ambientes de Trabalho/ DIESAT] hosted an online discussion about Brazil’s asbestos conundrum: although the Supreme Court banned asbestos in 2017, the mining and export of asbestos fiber continues under a state-sanctioned dispensation. Speakers who took part included: pneumonologist Dr. Ubiritan, engineer and co-founder of the Brazilian asbestos victims’ group ABREA Fernanda Giannasi, Luciano Lima Leivas, Labor Attorney & Deputy Manager of the National Asbestos Banning Program of the Public Ministry of Labor and others. See: A luta pelo banimento do amianto no Brasil é tema de live [Struggle to ban asbestos in Brazil continues].
 

Guilty Verdict for French Businessmen

Oct 30, 2020

On October 26, 2020, managers of the Basaltine company – Philippe Mialanes and Yves Brugeaud – were found guilty of exposing nine employees to asbestos at their concrete factory near Marseille during the 2000s. The defendants received suspended sentences of three months in jail and fines of €10,000; the company was fined €40,000. The court ruled that the accused had endangered the workers’ lives by exposing them to deteriorating asbestos-containing panels located in an Ardèche workshop. See: Salariés exposés à l'amiante dans les années 2000: les réquisitions sont tombées [Employees exposed to asbestos in the 2000s: requisitions fell].
 

Spain’s Asbestos Legacy

Oct 30, 2020

An online commentary considered the background to the ongoing epidemic of asbestos-related diseases in Spain, a country which used 2.5 million tonnes of asbestos prior to 2002 when a national ban came into force. According to scientific experts, 30,000 people will die in Spain before 2030 because of asbestos exposures. The author deplored the illegal dumping of asbestos-containing debris which posed a serious public and environmental health hazard and issued serious warnings about the dangerous and illegal practice of using non-specialists for the removal of asbestos-containing material. See: Los canallas del Amianto [Asbestos scoundrels].
 

One Patient’s Journey

Oct 30, 2020

The story of 49-year old American physician’s assistant Deane Berg’s battle with bilateral ovarian cancer provided the focus for a half hour podcast. Her testimony was lucid, detailed and draining, in equal measure. Deane’s determination to identify the cause of her cancer sent her on a journey through the medical literature which led her to conclude that her long-term use of Johnson & Johnson’s talc-based baby powder, contaminated with asbestos, had been the cause of the cancer. After a thorough investigation, Deane hired Alan Smith from Mississippi to represent her; subsequently, Deane, filed the first lawsuit in the US against Johnson & Johnson over its sales of contaminated baby powder. See: Verified: Dust UP – Unlikely Partners.
 

Toxic Talc in Taiwan

Oct 30, 2020

Johnson and Johnson’s baby powder – called “Jiaosheng Baby Powder” in Taiwan – is the subject of a feature length Chinese article. The author explained that Jiaosheng Baby Powder was still being sold in Taiwan despite the fact that it had been withdrawn from North American markets; examining the reasons for the company’s change in marketing policy, the author postulated that the 20,000 lawsuits over cancers caused by exposures to asbestos contained in the powder could have been the reason. See: 嬌生百年經典危機(上):訴訟戰20年...嬰兒爽身粉的致癌風暴 [Jiaosheng's 100-year classic crisis (part 1): 20 years of litigation... the carcinogenic storm of baby powder].
 

Asbestos-Free Madrid

Oct 28, 2020

The Governing Board of the Madrid City Council this week agreed to draw up a plan to eliminate asbestos from the Spanish capital by 2030, with Mayor Mercedes González highlighting the urgency of action needed to protect the population and prevent deadly exposures. According to the City Council, there are eleven districts in which 33 public schools contain asbestos. Mayor González is calling for remediation work at these schools to begin at the start of the school holidays. See: Aprobado un plan para que Madrid quede libre de amianto en 2030 [A plan approved for Madrid to be free of asbestos by 2030].
 

Asbestos Murder Trial in Novara

Oct 28, 2020

A criminal trial against Stephan Schmidheiny at the Novara Court of Assizes in north-west Italy, which had been postponed because of the pandemic, will commence on November 27, 2020. Schmidheiny has been charged with 392 cases of murder of former Eternit workers from the company’s asbestos-cement factory in Casale Monferrato and of local people who died of diseases caused by toxic exposures. The trial could be delayed because of the pandemic. Schmidheiny’s legal team is currently appealing a May 2019 verdict sentencing the defendant to 4 years in prison for the aggravated manslaughter of an Eternit worker from Cavagnolo. See: Stephan Schmidheiny «incurante dell’uomo e dell’ambiente» [Stephan Schmidheiny “heedless of man and the environment”].
 

Asbestos in Castle

Oct 28, 2020

On October 27, 2020 it was announced that sprayed asbestos material had been discovered in September on the indoor staircase of Okayama Castle, a 16th century structure in Okayama City on the west of Honshū Island. The city-owned building, which is now a museum, will remain open for the time being as no airborne fibers had been detected. Remediation work is scheduled to be undertaken in 2021, during which time the asbestos-containing paint identified in the castle’s tower will be removed. See: 岡山城にアスベスト 来年度の改修工事で撤去へ [Asbestos in Okayama Castle to be removed in next year's renovation work].
 

Mesothelioma Risk from Chrysotile

Oct 28, 2020

A paper published on October 21, 2020 examined occupational histories for 508 male workers, 176 of whom contracted mesothelioma – from a US case–control mesothelioma study in 1975-1980. While exposure to the complex mixture of extra-long amosite, short and long chrysotile, tremolite and anthophyllite fibers was associated with the highest risk of contracting mesothelioma, exposure to long and short chrysotile fibers alone was also associated with increased mesothelioma risk. The authors of the paper concluded: “that policies aimed at regulating asbestos should target both pure chrysotile and mixtures that include amphibole.” See: Mesothelioma risk among those exposed to chrysotile asbestos only and mixtures that include amphibole: a case-control study in the USA, 1975-1980.
 

Human Cost of Asbestos Use

Oct 28, 2020

Data released in British Colombia (BC) has revealed the price paid by workers in this Canadian Province for the use of asbestos. Occupational deaths in 2019 matched a record high set in 2013; the bill for the 2019 claims submitted by victims was $1.34 billion. Asbestos-related exposures remained the leading cause of work-related mortality in 2019 as it has been for the last decade, representing 32% of the deaths recognized; BC’s construction sector had the worst record in 2019 for deaths, many of which were caused by workplace asbestos exposures. See: B.C. 2019 workplace deaths match record high.
 

EU Asbestos Remediation Project: Update

Oct 26, 2020

Between 2005 and 2019, EU-funded efforts made substantial progress in remediating the site of one of Europe’s largest asbestos mines in Kozani, Northern Greece. The output of the mine, which covered 4,144 acres, was 100,000 tonnes of asbestos fiber per year. It was the largest environmental restoration project in the Balkans and was undertaken using a phased approach at a total cost of almost €50 million. See: Μεταλλεία Αμιάντου Β. Ελλάδας: Το μεγαλύτερο έργο περιβαλλοντικής αποκατάστασης στα Βαλκάνια, με τη συνδρομή της ΕΕ [Asbestos Mines in Northern Greece: The largest environmental rehabilitation project in the Balkans, with EU assistance].
 

Non-Occupational Mesothelioma Rates

Oct 26, 2020

Research into the incidence of the signature asbestos cancer, mesothelioma in Ontario and British Colombia, Canada revealed an increase in cases caused by non-occupational asbestos exposures. Scientists, led by Dr. Paul Demers, director of the Occupational Cancer Research Centre at Ontario Health, comparing data from 1993 to 2017 identified more than 4,000 cases in Ontario, the majority of which were due to occupational exposures to asbestos. There was, however, a significant increase in cases contracted from low-level non-occupational exposures to asbestos. See: What new Ontario-led research says about mesothelioma.
 

Mesothelioma: Update

Oct 26, 2020

A paper published in the October 13, 2020 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America by researchers in the US and Italy examined critical issues about how the inhalation of asbestos fibers can cause the signature asbestos cancer, mesothelioma. The scientists, who found that doses of chloroquine or the antidepressant drug desmethylclomipramine increased asbestos-induced cell death, concluded that: “these Food and Drug Administration-approved drugs might be repurposed to protect high-risk asbestos-exposed individuals from developing mesothelioma.” See: Asbestos induces mesothelial cell transformation via HMGB1-driven autophagy.
 

Asbestos Appeal at Supreme Court

Oct 26, 2020

On the afternoon of October 22, 2020, the first hearing took place before Judge Takuya Fukayama at the Japanese Supreme Court in an appeal by 80 asbestos-injured construction workers and surviving family members from Kanagawa Prefecture. The plaintiffs, who are seeking damages from the Japanese government and manufacturers of building materials, argued that from at least 1975 there was knowledge of the harmful effects of asbestos exposures and measures should have been implemented to protect workers. See: 建設アスベスト訴訟、最高裁で弁論 同種上告審で初 [Construction asbestos proceedings, argument at the Supreme Court for the first time in a similar appeal!].
 

Algeria’s Asbestos Legacy

Oct 26, 2020

A recent article highlights the hazard to inhabitants of the Algerian city of El-Guemmas who live in homes with deteriorating asbestos roofing. The city was built in the 1980s following a natural disaster and is home to 31,500, with thousands living in 2,350 contaminated properties. A scheme by authorities encouraging residents to remediate properties was unfit for purpose. Expressing the views of many, Mohamed Hambli said: “We no longer want to live in this city, especially as many inhabitants have made changes to their homes, which has created anarchy, indescribable urban [chaos]…. Reconstruction is not within our reach for considerations of advanced age, financial means, the number of family members under the same roof and the urban configuration of the city.” See: Une vie sous un toit d’amiante [A life under an asbestos roof].
 

Asbestos: Political Hot Potato

Oct 23, 2020

A heated discussion on October 21, 2020 at the Madrid City Council heard calls for asbestos remediation, especially of the city’s schools, to be prioritized on the grounds of public safety. The Mayor of Madrid said he knew: “of schools where there are currently three teachers with cancer being treated.” “None of us,” he said “would want to have relatives” working or studying in such toxic conditions. Paloma Garcia, on behalf of the Department of Works and Equipment assured councillors that he shared their concerns and was progressing plans to address asbestos contamination throughout the capital. See: Más Madrid reclama un programa consensuado de retirada del Amianto [Political Party “More Madrid” calls for an agreed asbestos removal program].
 

Asbestos Proceedings in Paris

Oct 23, 2020

On October 12, 2020, there was a hearing at the Paris Court of Appeal on behalf of asbestos claimants from the Everite factory in Dammarie-les-Lys. In 2018 this case had been dismissed by magistrates who found it was not possible to determine the date when plaintiffs had inhaled the asbestos fibers which had caused their illnesses. It followed, therefore, that it was impossible to hold to account specific executives who may or may not have been in charge of the company at that time. According to one of the lawyers representing the victims “the guilt is cumulative.” For decades, French asbestos victims have been calling for a criminal trial of asbestos defendants. See: Scandale de l’amiante: “La chance de voir un procès pénal un jour se joue maintenant” [Asbestos scandal: “The chance to see a criminal trial one day is in play now].
 

Asbestos, No More!

Oct 23, 2020

The votes have been counted. The electorate of the former asbestos mining town of Asbestos has chosen the French name Val-des-Sources, meaning Valley of the Sources, as its new moniker bringing to a close more than a century of history, during which the town was named for a carcinogenic substance produced at the local Jeffrey white asbestos mine. Just over half the ballots supported the choice. Commenting on the outcome, Mayor Hugues Grimard said the name “represents our area, and especially, it’s inspiring for the future.” Former Mayor Louise Moisan-Coulombe agreed the change was necessary: “Once upon a time, we have been very proud of that name, but now it’s very difficult because asbestos means a fiber that people are afraid of.” See: New name for a Canadian town called Asbestos.
 

Asbestos and Cancer in China

Oct 20, 2020

According to the Beijing Municipal Health Commission (the Commission) lung cancer “is one of the most threatening malignant tumors to the health and life of the population.” In a new upload entitled "Scientific Fight against Cancer: Early Understanding and Early Prevention of Lung Cancer" on its website, the Commission lists occupational exposures to asbestos as a significant factor in increasing the incidence of lung cancer, and pleural and peritoneal mesothelioma, explaining that there can be a latency of 20+ years between exposures and the manifestation of disease. See: 科学抗癌:早了解早预防肺癌 [Scientific Fight against Cancer: Early Understanding and Early Prevention of Lung Cancer].
 

Leaving Asbestos Behind!

Oct 20, 2020

Yet more coverage of the dilemma faced by voters in the small Quebec town of Asbestos who are in the process of rebranding their home town. The result of the poll to rename the municipality was due to be announced on October 19, 2020. A feature article from the Globe and Mail – one of Canada’s most popular English-language newspapers – examined the role the asbestos industry had played in the town’s history and the French-English ructions the name change had exposed. One interviewee was blunt: “The name harms economic development. You have to be realistic.” It will be interesting to see what the result of the vote will be. See: After years of debate, Asbestos, Que. is getting a new name in hope it will help the economy.
 

Asbestos Offensive

Oct 20, 2020

A Russian article on a Ukraine website purporting to be an examination of the reasons for the European Union’s asbestos ban was industry propaganda informed by the asbestos lobby; as evidenced by the inclusion of statements such as “there are quite a few areas in which chrysotile asbestos can be useful (and often even irreplaceable)”; “the environmental harm of chrysotile asbestos is also exaggerated”; and “the myth about the harmfulness of asbestos is proof of that”. It is noteworthy that the asbestos ban mandated by Ukraine’s Ministry of Health in 2017 was overturned after pressure had been exerted by vested interests. See: Асбест хризотил: опасность и вред хризотилового асбеста опровергнуты учеными [Chrysotile asbestos: dangers and harm of chrysotile asbestos refuted by scientists].
 

Asbestos Mystery

Oct 20, 2020

A blog (cited below) has examined facts reported in a recent feature article which had extolled the bright future for Brazil’s former asbestos giant Eternit SA, whilst ignoring the avalanche of personal injury claims still pending against the company. Since September 2020 and despite Eternit’s financial liabilities, the company’s share price and market value had almost doubled with a huge spike in shares trading on a particular day. The company, it said, was at a loss to explain this development. The volume of Eternit’s asbestos exports from its Goiás mine doubled between 2019 and 2020 even though the Supreme Court banned the commercial exploitation of asbestos in 2017. See: Quem não gosta de amianto? [Who doesn’t like asbestos?].
 

Import of Toxic Waste

Oct 20, 2020

In 2019, 1,684 tonnes of asbestos-containing waste was exported to Portugal from countries in Europe, Africa and the Middle East for disposal in landfill sites. The amount exported in 2018 was 496 tonnes. The reason for the huge increase in volume was, said a Portuguese campaigner: “the cheap offers given in Portugal for those who want to deposit waste in landfills.” Ninety-nine percent of this waste had been sent to non-hazardous industrial waste landfills. As of December 2020, it will be illegal to ship asbestos waste to Portugal according to a new government regulation. See: Grécia, Malta, e até Nigéria e Oman enviaram "lixo" com amianto para Portugal [Greece, Malta, and even Nigeria and Oman sent asbestos “garbage” to Portugal].
 

Asbestos Propaganda

Oct 19, 2020

The benevolence of Kostanay Minerals JSC – one of the world’s largest producers of chrysotile asbestos fiber – is the focus of a piece by Evgeniya Ermakova, referenced below. The company’s mine and milling operations are centered in and around the town of Zhitikar in the Kostanay region of Kazakhstan. Of the 220,000+ tons of asbestos fiber mined every year in Kazakhstan, 95% is exported to India, Uzbekistan, China, Ukraine and other countries. The company has close ties to the government. See: Бизнес – это прежде всего люди [Business is primarily about people]. (P.S. In 2016, it was revealed that operatives employed by Kazakh asbestos interests had spied on ban asbestos campaigners.)
 

Growth in Global Asbestos Epidemic

Oct 19, 2020

Analyses – by Sugio Furuya, Coordinator of the Asian Ban Asbestos Network (ABAN) – of data extracted from information published on October 17, 2020 in The Lancet in the paper: The Global Burden of Diseases, Injuries, and Risk Factors Study (GBD) 2019, revealed that the global incidence of mortality from asbestos-related diseases (ARD) continued to grow during 2019. When deaths from mesothelioma, lung cancer, ovarian and larynx cancers and asbestosis were added together, there were a total of 241,764 ARD deaths in 2019; in 2016 and 2017 there were 224,918 and 234,904 deaths, respectively, from ARDs (see:GBD asbestos mortality estimates 2013-2019). See: The Global Burden of Diseases, Injuries, and Risk Factors Study (GBD) 2019: GBD Compare.
 

Raising Asbestos Awareness

Oct 19, 2020

An article uploaded to a Chinese language website on October 15, 2020 listed asbestos as the first of eight known causes of cancer and warned people to avoid exposure to products containing it. If occupational exposures cannot be avoided, then individuals should take precautionary measures such as changing work clothes before returning home. China is one of the world’s largest asbestos-producing and consuming countries. See: 原创 随处可见这种物质,却是可怕的1类致癌物!为了健康,请远离这8种 [This kind of substance can be seen everywhere, but it is a terrible Class 1 carcinogen! For health reasons, please stay away from these 8].
 

20th Century Legacy, 21st Century Hazard

Oct 19, 2020

Politicians in the Canadian city of Sarnia are supporting efforts by local people, including members of the groups Coalition for a Better St. Catharines and Sarnia’s Victims of Chemical Valley, to force federal and provincial governments to take ownership of the hazard posed by asbestos contamination of derelict industrial sites and force former owners to remediate premises and surrounding land. Of particular concern is the ~22 hectare property on Ontario Street that until 2010 was the location of the GM plant in St. Catharines, Ontario; the property was put up for sale in 2019 by Bayshore Groups. See: Sarnia mayor and others sound alarm over possible asbestos on former St. Catharines GM site.
 

2021 Virtual Mesothelioma Conference

Oct 19, 2020

The meeting of the International Mesothelioma Group (iMig) due to take place in Brisbane, Australia in 2020 has been postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. On October 15, 2020, iMig’s organizers announced that a virtual meeting of iMig will be held on May 7-9, 2021: “While we won’t get to meet in person,” they wrote “we look forward to providing a virtual experience that is accessible worldwide and to enable attendees to access the latest research in mesothelioma through a new format.” The last two iMig meetings took place in Ottawa, Canada (2018) and Birmingham UK (2015). See: Announcement: iMig 2021 is Going Virtual!
 

A Toxic Town

Oct 16, 2020

As the election proceeds in the former mining town of Asbestos for a new name, business leaders have been speaking about problems they experienced with the town’s original name. These include both professional and personal difficulties such as problems at border crossings for delivery vehicles, mistrust by potential business partners and reluctance to interact with “Asbestrians” by foreigners afraid of contamination. The new name, chosen by the electorate including anyone over 14 years old, is scheduled to be announced on October 19, 2020. See: Un nom lourd à porter pour des gens d’affaires [A heavy name to bear for business people].
 

Asbestos Anxiety at Renault

Oct 16, 2020

On October 13, 2020 a hearing took place – which had been postponed from Spring 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic – at the Lyon industrial tribunal, to consider cases brought by 200 former Renault workers from the company’s Vénissieux factory over asbestos anxiety, a psychological condition caused by the knowledge that the claimants had been occupationally exposed to asbestos. Another hearing is listed for November 2020 which will examine similar accusations from 1,200 other Renault workers. See: Amiante à Renault Trucks: les ex-salariés veulent la reconnaissance de leur "préjudice d'anxiété" [Asbestos at Renault Trucks: Ex-employees want recognition of their “Asbestos Anxiety”].
 

Asbestos Management in Schools

Oct 16, 2020

On October 14, 2020, the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) issued new guidance about “Asbestos Management in Schools.” The HSE upload used case studies to illustrate actions that must be taken prior to the commencement of replacement, refurbishment or demolition work that could disturb asbestos at schools or colleges. Mandatory measures covered in the HSE document included the compilation of an asbestos survey, the use of certified asbestos removal operatives, updating of existing asbestos registers and asbestos management plans, and the safe and approved disposal of asbestos-containing waste generated by the work. See: Asbestos management in schools.
 

Japan’s Mesothelioma Epidemic

Oct 16, 2020

According to Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare there have been 26,608 deaths since 1995 from the signature asbestos cancer, mesothelioma and the number of deaths “is expected to increase in the future,” due to the country’s widespread and heavy use of asbestos throughout the 20th century. A comparison between asbestos consumption data, asbestos regulations and incidences of disease from Japan and the UK supported the prediction that mesothelioma mortality in Japan will continue to increase for some years to come. See: アスベストの脅威続く 中皮腫死すでに2万6608人 被害予測は10万人超 [Asbestos threat continues, mesothelioma deaths already 26,608, damage forecast exceeds 100,000 people].
 

Mesothelioma Treatment: Update

Oct 16, 2020

Norwegian biopharmaceutical company Bergenbio announced that treatment had started in a clinical trial assessing the efficacy of bemcentinib for patients with relapsed malignant mesothelioma as part of a UK trial sponsored by the University of Leicester and supported by the British Lung Foundation. According to Director of the Leicester Clinical Trials Unit, Professor Anne Thomas, Professor Dean Fennell and Dr Matthew Krebs were leading the research team and the commencement of treatment represented “the culmination of three years' work. The ultimate output of this study will,” he said “be the potential to provide benefit to the MPM population.” See: Bergenbio: Announces First Patient Dosed with Bemcentinib in Relapsed Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma Investigator Sponsored Phase IIA Study.
 

Another Mesothelioma Death in Japan

Oct 14, 2020

The mesothelioma death was reported on October 12, 2020 of 51-year old Eri Matsui, a Japanese mother of two who was exposed as a child to asbestos liberated by a water pipe factory near her home in Saitama City. Ms. Matsui endured a protracted battle for recognition and compensation against those she considered responsible for her disease and became a leading campaigner in the fight to raise awareness of the asbestos hazard. A documentary film entitled “Playing with the glowing sand as a child” about Japan’s toxic asbestos legacy in which she had a feature role was released a mere eight days before she died. See: アスベスト被害者 松井絵里さん逝去 [Asbestos victim Eri Matsui passes away].
 

Landmark Legal Proceedings Begin!

Oct 14, 2020

For decades, asbestos victims in France have been calling for a criminal trial of those behind the country’s fatal epidemic of asbestos cancers and diseases. On October 16, proceedings before the Paris Court of Appeal will seek to overturn decisions absolving executives and decision makers of negligence over their part in the catastrophe which continues to claim thousands of lives every year. Lawyers representing victims will argue that a report by expert witnesses relied upon by judges had been misinterpreted. “Investigating judges,” the claimants say “should therefore have concluded that it was possible… to determine the periods of exposure during which the victims were contaminated with asbestos…” See: Mettre fin au scandale judiciaire de l’amiante [Ending the asbestos legal scandal].
 

Another Avoidable Asbestos Death

Oct 14, 2020

The death of 61-year old Francesco Anzalone brings to 31 the number of former workers of Isochimica di Avellino who died from asbestos-related diseases. Despite his efforts to improve workplace conditions, in the 1980s Mr. Anazlone’s job brought him into daily contact with asbestos insulation on railway carriages being repaired at the Borgo Ferrovia workshops. He died three years after having been diagnosed with the signature asbestos cancer, mesothelioma. See: Muore ex operaio dell'Isochimica di Avellino: 31esima vittima dell'amianto [A former worker of Isochimica di Avellino dies: 31st victim of asbestos].
 

Municipal Identity Crisis

Oct 14, 2020

A feature article reviewing identity issues of towns saddled with toxic, rude, or comical names examined the problems being faced by municipal authorities attempting to rebrand a former mining town in Quebec called “Asbestos.” Despite the cost of the renaming process, estimated at US$100,000 the town’s leaders are optimistic it will be beneficial in the long run. According to Asbestos town councillor Caroline Payer: “We are losing great business opportunities just because of our name… It’s very sad.” See: Why the Canadian town of Asbestos wants a new name.
 

Supporting Asbestos Victims in Cádiz

Oct 14, 2020

The Mayor of San Fernando, in the Spanish Province of Cádiz met last week with the directors of a local asbestos victims’ group to express support for people affected by occupational asbestos exposures in the Naval sector, which included workers from the three shipyards in the Bay of Cádiz. Asbestos exposures at these workplaces took place initially during the construction of boats and more latterly during repair work. In the Bay of Cádiz there are around 10,000 former shipyard employees and many more family members whose health could also have been affected via take-home exposures. See: Cavada muestra su apoyo a la Asociación de Afectados por el Amianto en el Sector Naval [Cavada shows its support for the Association of People Affected by Asbestos in the Naval Sector].
 

International Burden of Mesothelioma

Oct 14. 2020

A paper entitled “Burden of Mesothelioma Deaths by National Income Category: Current Status and Future Implications” was published last month (September 2020) by international researchers. The authors found that the majority of mesothelioma deaths which had been reported to the World Health Organization had been contracted in high income or middle income countries. Going forward, the scientists predicted that: “mesothelioma burdens will likely manifest soon in upper middle-income and eventually in low and lower middle-income countries.” Asbestos consuming countries were urged “to stop using all types of asbestos” as per WHO policy. See: Burden of Mesothelioma Deaths by National Income Category: Current Status and Future Implications.
 

Asbestos & COVID-19 in Montana

Oct 13 2020

The people of Libby, Montana know all about living with an invisible killer. The operations of the vermiculite mine dispersed asbestos fibers throughout the town for decades, as a result of which many people who never worked at the mine contracted asbestos-related diseases by just breathing the air. The contamination which scarred their lungs makes them particularly vulnerable to complications from COVID-19. According to Dr. Miles Miller from Libby’s Center for Asbestos Related Diseases, at least 1 in 10 people in Libby have an asbestos-related illness which would compromise their recovery from the virus. See: COVID-19 Stalks A Montana Town Already Grappling with Asbestos Disease.
 

From Asbestos City to Smart City?

Oct 13, 2020

Plans have been announced to build a smart city in the Zimbabwe town of Zvishavane, home to the country’s only chrysotile asbestos mine. Sharon Valley will be Zimbabwe’s first privately owned city and will have state of the art infrastructure and facilities. Zvishavane was first developed to house workers from the asbestos mine which began operations in 1916; it had been non-operational for years until the government started rehabilitation work on it some while ago. Tens of thousands of tonnes of asbestos mining waste are scattered throughout the Zvishavane area. See: Sharon Valley builds smart city.
 

Funding for Asbestos Research Center

Oct 13, 2020

It was announced last week, that the outstanding work being done in Western Australia’s National Centre for Asbestos Related Diseases (NCARD) to improve protocols for the diagnosis and treatment of mesothelioma and lung cancer had been recognized by a federal grant of $2.5 million. Welcoming the award, NCARD’s Director Professor Anna Nowak explained that the funding was vital to keep researchers “at the forefront of discovering health and medical solutions for those with serious health conditions.” See: $5 million in federal funding to help improve health of Australians.
 

Asbestos Offensive in Russia

Oct 13, 2020

Industry propaganda masquerading as legitimate online content promoted sales of Russian chrysotile asbestos by listing multiple advantages of using chrysotile products such as their “affordability” and efficacy, all the while omitting to mention the fact that exposure to these products can cause a variety of cancers and respirable diseases. “Chrysotile asbestos products are,” the author wrote “time-tested and proven to be of high quality… The use of chrysotile cement products saves money for other projects.” See: Как продукция из хризотил-асбеста поможет сэкономить, не потеряв в качестве [How chrysotile asbestos products can help you save money without losing quality].
 

Call for Kenya to Ban Asbestos

Oct 12, 2020

A commentary by political economist Dr Ndonye examined the hidden danger posed to Kenyans from asbestos contamination of the country’s infrastructure. The author highlighted the country’s devastatingly high incidence of cancer mortality and the fact that asbestos had still not been banned in Kenya. A report in 2013 by the National Environmental Management Authority to safeguard human health by managing asbestos waste provided no follow-up plan or regulatory regime for enforcement. “Sadly,” Dr. Ndonye wrote: “Kenya is still dragging its feet. How many lives should be lost for the government to treat asbestos as the killers that they are?” See: Why NEMA must enforce Pulling down Killer Asbestos Roofing.
 

Asbestos Rally in Tokyo

Oct 12, 2020

On October 8, 2020 campaigners supporting the legal rights of construction workers to be compensated for asbestos-related diseases held an outdoor rally at the Hibiya Open Air Concert Hall in Tokyo, to highlight their demand in anticipation of an expected ruling by the Supreme Court. The demonstrators were calling for relief for all the victims and the establishment of a compensation fund. Mitsuo Yoshida, Chair of the trade union Zenken Soren, told the meeting that: “The responsibility of the government and building material manufacturers is clear. We should try to resolve them [these cases] during the lifetime of the plaintiffs.” See: 建設石綿訴訟全面解決を [Complete resolution of construction asbestos proceedings].
 

Justice for Montefibre workers?

Oct 12, 2020

On October 8, 2020 Italy’s Supreme Court overturned a ruling by the Turin Appeal Court which had acquitted former managers of the Montefibre company – that had closed in 1983 – of manslaughter, over asbestos deaths of employees. The case against the defendants: Luigi Ceriani, Giorgio Mazzanti, Gianluigi Poletti, Bruno Quaglieri and Carlo Vannini will return to the Turin Appeal Court. See: Amianto. “Sentenza storica Cassazione che ha annullato assoluzione dirigenti Montefibre di Verbania-Pallanza” [Asbestos. “Historical Supreme Court ruling cancels the acquittal of Montefibre executives of Verbania-Pallanza”].
 

Alert over Toxic Products for Children

Oct 12, 2020

In an article for Russian parents about the hazards of toxic products in consumer goods, the author highlighted the dangers of asbestos-riddled talcum powder in cosmetics used for children: “Laboratory tests have identified residues of carcinogenic asbestos in talcum-based cosmetics for children and adolescents. Geologically, asbestos is usually found in the same rock where talc is mined. There is no safe level of exposure to asbestos, which can settle deep in the lungs and cause mesothelioma or other fatal diseases decades after exposure.” See: МАМА ПРИУЧИЛА: 6 ИНГРЕДИЕНТОВ, КОТОРЫХ НЕ ДОЛЖНО БЫТЬ В КОСМЕТИКЕ [Mothers Warning: 6 Ingredients that Should Not be in Cosmetics].
 

Wales Update: New Mesothelioma Project

Oct 12, 2020

A two-year project has been launched by Mesothelioma UK to support patients suffering from the asbestos cancer mesothelioma, in Wales. The initiative, which is being funded by a grant from the Burdette Trust for Nursing, will be led by Mesothelioma UK Clinical Nurse Specialist for Wales, Sarah Morgan who said: “Many cancer patients and cancer services have been badly affected by the recent pandemic and none more so than the mesothelioma patients and services. The need for an All Wales approach to specialist services for mesothelioma has never been more urgent.” See: New project to support asbestos cancer patients in Wales.
 

Asbestos Discovery in Cosmetics

Oct 12, 2020

An investigation by the Dutch current affairs program EénVandaag this week revealed the presence of asbestos fibers in cosmetic products sold in the Netherlands. After repeated testing by laboratories in in Holland and the US, the asbestos contamination of two products by the retail chain Hema and cosmetic company Douglas was confirmed. Responding to these findings, the companies which produced “B.A.E loose powder foundation 2nd skin” and “My Cheek Palette Blush” withdrew them from sale; they are now back on the shelves as the manufacturers say that results of tests they commissioned had shown the products were free of asbestos. See: Asbestos found in Hema, Douglas makeup.
 

Asbestos Cancer: Another Tragedy

Oct 9, 2020

A press release issued by the asbestos victims’ group (AFeVA) in Emilia Romagna, Italy on October 7, 2020 announced the mesothelioma death of Luciano Tonioni who, like so many AFeVA members, was exposed to asbestos at the Bologna railway repair workshop. Mr. Tonioni, who was diagnosed in January, 2020 aged 76, was a sheet metal worker at the Via Casarini [Casarini Street] workshop from 1972 to l978. His funeral is today (October 9, 2020). See: COMUNICATO STAMPA AFeVA Emilia Romagna [PRESS RELEASE AFeVA Emilia Romagna].
 

Launch of Asbestos-free Brake Pads

Oct 9, 2020

In the world’s biggest asbestos-producing nation and the spiritual home of the global asbestos lobby, news that an asbestos-free line of brake pads has been launched is of great import. One of the unique selling points of TMD Friction’s new epad series of Textar brake pads for the Russian and CIS markets is the fact that these products are free of asbestos. Despite their lack of asbestos, the new pads are, according to the company, “distinguished by improved characteristics: no noise during braking, the formation of a small amount of wear products, as well as a shorter braking distance in most road situations.” See: Textar представил новые тормозные колодки [Textar introduces new brake pads].
 

Asbestos Audit Protocol

Oct 9, 2020

The French Ministry of Labor published two texts on legal duties to identify asbestos before the commencement of programs of work. The first document explained the responsibilities of professional or private duty holders, pointing out that two million workers are still at-risk from workplace exposures. The second document examined the few exemptions from mandatory obligations to conduct asbestos audits prior to beginning work. See: Obligations de repérage amiante avant travaux: le rappel du Ministère du Travail [Asbestos identification obligations before work: a reminder from the Ministry of Labor].
 

Mesothelioma in Hong Kong

Oct 9, 2020

A lengthy and informative Chinese feature article marked International Mesothelioma Day with an interview with 72-year old Huang Bo, who was employed at Hong Kong’s Taikoo Dockyard for 50 years. In 2019, Mr. Bo was diagnosed with the asbestos-related cancer, mesothelioma. At no time was he or his colleagues informed about the nature of the toxic product they worked with and they were never provided with protective equipment or clothing. There were 232 cases of mesothelioma diagnosed in Hong Kong between 2006 and 2015. The import, transshipment, supply and use of all types of asbestos and asbestos-containing materials are now banned in Hong Kong. See: 國際間皮瘤關注日 [International Mesothelioma Awareness Day].
 

Johnson & Johnson $100 Million Settlement

Oct 8, 2020

On October 5, 2020, news was released that Johnson & Johnson (J&J) had come to a $100 million agreement to settle over 1,000 cases concerning cancers caused by use of its talc-based baby powder, despite its continued reassurances that its iconic product was free from asbestos. According to a company statement: “In certain circumstances, we do choose to settle lawsuits, which is done without an admission of liability and in no way changes our position regarding the safety of our products…” Although J&J has withdrawn this product from sale in North America it continues to market it in markets around the world. See: J&J to pay more than US$100M to end over 1,000 talc suits.
 

Asbestos in the Water?

Oct 8, 2020

An investigation into the widespread presence of asbestos-cement pipes in water delivery systems in Western Canada reveals a disconnect between state-of-the-art knowledge about the hazards posed by the deterioration of these pipes and accepted practice in prairie cities, with only 1 in 13 contacted testing fiber levels in water every year. The limited testing protocol is in Regina which only tests samples from one place in the city every year. This practice is inadequate according to US and Canadian experts. See: Testing the waters: Do Regina's asbestos-cement water mains pose a risk?
 

Asbestos in Schools

Oct 8, 2020

Pursuant to a national project to make schools in Korea fit for purpose, asbestos contamination in half the country’s 10,000 elementary, middle and high schools has been remediated. According to Representative Kim Byung-wook of the National Assembly's Board of Education: "It is important to provide high-quality education to children, but it is also very important to create an environment in which children can live in a safe and comfortable environment. We need to secure it,” he said. See: 전국 초중고 석면 제거율 절반 [Half of asbestos removal in elementary, middle and high schools achieved nationwide].
 

Basque Victim’s Legal Victory

Oct 8, 2020

A Basque Court in Donostia, Northern Spain ordered the defendant – Construcciones y Auxiliar de Ferrocarriles (Construction & Other Railway Services/CAF) – to pay compensation of €133,665 to the family of a worker who died from asbestosis as a result of workplace exposures to asbestos. The deceased had worked as a boilermaker from 1973 to 1999 at the Irun and Beasain CAF factories. Arguments by CAF’s legal team that the size of the compensation payment should be halved because of the worker’s smoking history were rejected. See: CAF tendrá que indemnizar a un muerto por amianto [CAF will have to pay compensation for asbestos death].
 

Removal of Asbestos-cement Pipes

Oct 8, 2020

On October 5, 2020, a document was uploaded which provided operating instructions for employers for the safe removal of asbestos-cement underground water pipes in accordance with Italian legislation as per Article 256 of Legislative Decree 81/2008, subsequent amendments and Ministerial Decrees. Italy banned asbestos use in 1992 and has been at the forefront of EU countries working to eradicate the asbestos hazard. See: Le istruzioni per la rimozione di tubazioni in cemento Amianto [Instructions for removing asbestos cement pipes].
 

New Mesothelioma Treatment

Oct 7, 2020

On October, 2020, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the combination of nivolumab plus ipilimumab as first-line treatment for adult patients with unresectable malignant pleural mesothelioma, after studying the results of a randomized, open-label trial in patients with unresectable malignant pleural mesothelioma and no prior anticancer therapy. The trial demonstrated a statistically significant improvement in overall survival for patients treated with nivolumab plus ipilimumab compared with those who received chemotherapy. See: FDA approves nivolumab and ipilimumab for unresectable malignant pleural mesothelioma.
 

Renaming Asbestos!

Oct 7, 2020

Last week, the town council of Asbestos unveiled a new list of potential names for voters in the former Quebec mining town to consider. The first panel of names released by the was met with derision. The names on the list released on October 2, 2020 included: L'Azur-des-Cantons, Larochelle, Val-des-Sources, Phénix and Trois-Lacs. The vote on the new name is scheduled to take place later this month (October 2020). The purpose of the name change is to dissociate the town from its mining history. See: ‘Jeffrey’ rejected: Que. town of Asbestos releases second list of possible new names.
 

James Hardie Puts Victims Last Again

Oct 7, 2020

James Hardie (JH) – also known as Australia’s “Killer Company” from the deadly impact of its decades-long asbestos operations – has ceased making an annual contribution of $500,000 towards research efforts into asbestos-related diseases. Pursuant to an agreement with the Australian Government, JH had committed to a 10-year agreement worth $5 million to Australian research institutes. As soon as the ten years had elapsed (in 2018), so did JH’s donations. See: James Hardie stopped funding asbestos research the moment it could.
 

Asbestos Prosecutions

Oct 7, 2020

On October 1, 2020 the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) released an article reminding duty holders of their obligations under The Control of Asbestos Regulations (CAR) 2012. The HSE publication cited prosecutions which resulted in substantial financial penalties for companies breaching provisions of the CAR: Newnham College Cambridge pleaded guilty to breaching Regulations 5 and 16 of the CAR 2012 and was fined £12,000 and ordered to pay costs of £4,450.28; Labform Ltd. was fined £22,400 plus £11,700 costs for four breaches of the CAR 2012. See: Two prosecutions by the HSE highlight what asbestos refurbishment and asbestos demolition surveys do and why they are needed.
 

Addressing Korea’s Asbestos Legacy

Oct 7, 2020

On September 28, 2020, it was announced that a business agreement had been signed by the Incheon Metropolitan City Corporation and the Asbestos Damage Prevention Center to reduce toxic asbestos exposures and raise asbestos awareness in Incheon via the introduction of new management supervision tools to prevent asbestos damage, training for operatives working in the field of asbestos and collaboration on projects to prevent asbestos damage. See: 인천도시공사, 석면피해예방 업무협약(MOU) 체결 [Incheon City Corporation, asbestos damage prevention business agreement (MOU) signed].
 

Asbestos Ban Bill: Update

Oct 5, 2020

Hopes were dashed on September 29, 2020 when the House of Representatives failed to pass a bill – H. R. 1603 – banning asbestos in the US. Commentators from the Democratic Party claimed that the bill’s progress had been stalled by Republicans over potential legal ramifications the legislation might have had on toxic talc lawsuits. Expressing his disappointment over this turn in events, Frank Pallone Jr., Chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, said: “Everyone should be able to support a ban on this known carcinogen, which has no place in our consumer products or processes. More than 40,000 Americans die every year from asbestos exposure, but Republicans are willing to look the other way.” See: Asbestos ban stalls in Congress amid partisan fight.
 

Claimant’s Victory

Oct 5, 2020

An asbestos trial due to commence in the Pamplona Palace of Justice last week was pre-empted when a defendant which inherited the claim from a company it had acquired agreed to settle the case. Teo Vila, who died in February 2016 from an asbestos-related cancer, had worked for Laminaciones de Lesaka (now Arcelor Mittal) for 30 years. Proceedings were brought by his family supported by the LAB trade union for toxic workplace exposures which, the plaintiffs alleged, had caused Mr. Vila’s death. The widow and her daughter received €133,000 and €27,000, respectively. See: Indemnizan a una familia por la muerte por amianto de un trabajador [A family is compensated for the asbestos death of a worker].
 

Mesothelioma Mortality: New Data

Oct 5, 2020

Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare expects the annual number of mesothelioma deaths to increase although figures just released showed a slight decline. There were 1,466 mesothelioma deaths in 2019 compared to 1,512 in 2018, with the highest incidence of mortality in Osaka (148), Tokyo (123) and Hyogo (107). Since 1995, there has been a total of 26,608 mesothelioma deaths in Japan. The Japanese government recognizes that most people who contract mesothelioma were exposed to asbestos. See: 昨年の中皮腫死1466人 ワースト3は大阪・東京・兵庫 推定原因はほぼアスベスト [Mesothelioma deaths in 2019 were 1466; worst affected areas were: Osaka, Tokyo, Hyogo. Probable cause of these deaths was almost certainly exposure to asbestos].
 

Addressing Scotland’s Asbestos Legacy

Oct 5, 2020

Clinical Nurse Specialist Carolyn MacRae has been appointed the leader of a team of specialist asbestos cancer nurses for Scotland in a post funded by Mesothelioma UK and the Glasgow-based campaigning group: Action on Asbestos. Welcoming this news, Mesothelioma UK’s Head of Nursing Lorraine Creech said: “Our partnership working with the Macmillan Scottish Mesothelioma Network has been the springboard for this role and we now have five Mesothelioma UK Clinical Nurse Specialists and one Pleural Specialist Nurse in an affiliated role throughout Scotland. We also have a further post in the planning stage.” See: UK Team Leader appointed in Scotland for asbestos-related cancer patients.
 

Asbestos in Schools: Charges!

Oct 2, 2020

On September 30, 2020, three officials – including former superintendent Alexis Kirijan of the Scranton, Pennsylvania school district – were charged with felony child endangerment over allegations that they had known about asbestos and lead contamination in Scranton schools but failed to take remedial action. The other defendants charged were former Director of Operations Jeffrey Brazil and current maintenance supervisor Joseph Slack. Allegations regarding the knowledge that officials had had regarding unsafe conditions at the schools had previously been made by current and former Scranton employees in a federal lawsuit. See: School officials charged over lead, asbestos contamination.
 

Grenfell Tower: Asbestos Fallout

Oct 2, 2020

A document entitled Health Risk Assessment of asbestos air quality monitoring results: Grenfell Tower, which was published on September 17, 2020 by Public Health England, examined the potential health risks posed by airborne asbestos in the aftermath of the June 14, 2017 fire. According to the report “on the basis of the monitoring data provided, it is considered by Public Health England that any additional risks to public health from the storage and movement of the bags of material would be low. The monitoring indicated that the risks from asbestos fibres on-site are not distinguishable from expected levels in the environment.” See: Health Risk Assessment of asbestos air quality monitoring results: Grenfell Tower.
 

Asbestos Anxiety

Oct 2, 2020

On September 25, 2020, after a protracted legal battle, the Douai Court of Appeal rejected an appeal by the Bosch company and recognized the rights of 387 former employees from a factory closed in 2009 to be compensated for asbestos anxiety. The claimants will, according to their lawyer Mr. Vrillac, each receive the sum of €8,000 (US$~9,400) by the end of 2020. The day before this verdict was handed down the Court of Appeal in Nancy awarded former workers from the Baccarat glass factory €9,000 each for asbestos anxiety. See: Beauvais: les ex-Bosch obtiennent la reconnaissance de leur préjudice d’anxiété lié à l’amiante [Beauvais: ex-Bosch (workers) obtain recognition for their anxiety damage linked to asbestos].
 

Poor Remediation Efforts

Oct 2, 2020

In a recent speech made to the National Assembly of South Korea, Representative Ja Lim, from the North Gyeongsang constituency, condemned Korea’s failure to expeditiously deal with the health hazards posed by the continuing presence of asbestos-containing products within the national infrastructure. Rep. Lim said: “The victims and their families are still suffering a lot from asbestos… It is urgent to improve the slow speed of [asbestos] remediation through expansion of the capacity to remove goods containing asbestos, a first-class carcinogen.” See: 임이자 의원, 석면 슬레이트 건축물 5년간 8.8% 처리불과 [Rep. Lim Isa, 8.8% of asbestos slate buildings remediated].
 

Calls to Deport Asbestos Lobby

Oct 1, 2020

On September 21, 2020, a letter was sent to the Premier of Quebec François Legault written by eminent Canadian health and safety campaigners calling on him to take action on the status of the International Chrysotile Association (ICA) – the mouthpiece of the global asbestos lobby – which is registered in Quebec as a non-profit organization. According to Quebec regulations, such bodies must promote the public good; the ICA promotes sales of a known carcinogen. The Companies Act requires that an organization have a representative who is physically present in Quebec; the ICA’s contact is resident in Europe. For this and other reasons, the ICA should be deregistered. See: Quebec government asked to stop assisting asbestos lobby to harm populations overseas.
 

Tragic Legacy for Railway Workers

Oct 1, 2020

Hundreds of former workers exposed routinely to asbestos on the French railways (SNCF) continue to wait for their day in court. In an ongoing legal action, 200 employees from the Oullins railway center have lodged complaints, in collaboration with their trade union, at the court in Lyon relating to toxic workplace exposures which have led to the condition known as asbestos anxiety. Efforts by SNCF lawyers to have the case dismissed have failed but due to the court’s backlog, a trial date is at least 18 months away. See: Près de 200 plaintes déposées à Lyon par des cheminots exposés à l'amiante dans un centre de la SNCF [Nearly 200 complaints filed in Lyon by railway workers exposed to asbestos in a SNCF center].
 

Asbestos Alert by Trade Union

Oct 1, 2020

The Spanish trade union CCOO – since the 1970s, the Comisiones Obreras has been the largest trade union in Spain – has issued public warnings about the health hazards posed by the illegal and widespread dumping of asbestos-containing waste, with its Secretary of Occupational Health explaining that: “In the entire southern and industrial area of Madrid you can see illegal dumping of garbage because they are depopulated areas without constant surveillance, and that is where we have located asbestos.” See: Los vecinos del sur, en riesgo por los vertidos ilegales de Amianto [Residents to the south at risk from illegal asbestos dumping].
 

Schools’ Asbestos Eradication Program

Oct 1, 2020

Work was carried out – commissioned by the Seoul Metropolitan Government and the Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education – during the Summer holidays of 2020 to remediate asbestos at 18 schools in the Korean capital. Follow-up investigations and testing revealed that the indoor air at 112 locations in the schools was within acceptable standards. This program was the first of its kind in Korea. See: 서울시내 석면 해체·제거 공사 학교 모두 석면으로부터 안전 [Asbestos demolition and removal construction schools in Seoul are all safe from asbestos].
 

Asbestos TV Documentary: Malta

Sep 29, 2020

On September 25, 2020 a TV documentary by Liam Carter entitled “Mewta Siekta” [Silent Death] was broadcast in Malta. The film examined the plight of former drydock workers who were occupationally exposed to asbestos and, as a result, are now suffering from life-threatening conditions. Medical experts explained the health hazards posed by these exposures not only to the workers but also to the wives who washed contaminated work clothes. See: Silent death: The Drydock employees who died from asbestos exposure.
 

Asbestos Mining: A Constitutional Crisis

Sep 29, 2020

Although the Brazilian Supreme Court banned the commercial exploitation of asbestos in 2017, the Eternit-owned SAMA chrysotile asbestos mine is still operational under Goiás state law permitting mining to continue. The constitutional crisis revealed by this situation is explored in a blog by retired factory inspector Fernanda Giannasi who deplored the double standards of Eternit’s current policy promoting continued asbestos mining for export as “environmental racism.” See: Fernanda Giannasi (ABREA) comenta a entrevista do Presidente da Eternit, Luis Augusto Barbosa, à revista Exame, publicada em 23/9/2020 [Fernanda Giannasi (ABREA) comments on the interview of Eternit's President, Luis Augusto Barbosa, to Exame magazine, published on 9/23/2020].
 

Asbestos on the Balearic Islands

Sep 29, 2020

On September 24, 2020, an asbestos conference was held in Mallorca, Spain to examine the island’s legacy of widespread and uncontrolled use of toxic products. Experts who addressed the meeting highlighted the importance of a state-of-the-art professional approach to the serious issues of asbestos identification and management, warning that failure to take adequate precautions could result in hazardous exposures not only to workers but also to members of the public. See: El amianto genera problemas graves en la salud y requiere la gestión de profesionales acreditados [Asbestos generates serious health problems and requires the management of accredited professionals].
 

Asbestos Anxiety

Sep 28, 2020

On Thursday September 24, 2020, the Court of Appeal of Nancy, France recognized the condition of asbestos anxiety suffered by 264 former employees of the Baccarat crystal glassware factory in Baccarat, France. The claimants, part of the second asbestos class action against the company, were each awarded the sum of €9,000 (US$10,500). A third lawsuit on behalf of 153 more workers is pending. See: [Subscription] Amiante: le préjudice d’anxiété reconnu pour 264 ex-salariés de Baccarat [Asbestos: the prejudice of anxiety recognized for 264 former employees of Baccarat].
 

No “Social License” for Asbestos Use

Sep 28, 2020

In a press release by Eternit – Brazil’s former “Asbestos Giant” – the company finally admitted, three years after Brazil’s Supreme Court had banned asbestos, that it had no “social license” for the continued use of asbestos in Brazil. The company, which had been a stalwart defender of asbestos and even now continues to mine asbestos for export purposes only at its SAMA chrysotile mine, is publicly repositioning itself as a leader in green technology with its promotion of solar technology and photovoltaic roofing tiles. See: Após deixar o amianto e lançar telha de energia solar, a Eternit quer mais [After leaving asbestos and launching solar energy tiles, Eternit wants to expand].
 

Asbestos Diseases in Healthcare Sector

Sep 28, 2020

A new study by the University of Sheffield has highlighted the repercussions of the asbestos contamination of UK healthcare facilities and recommended that NHS staff and others employed in these premises be provided with training regarding the hazards of asbestos exposures. These actions would prevent avoidable exposures and reduce the incidence of asbestos cancers amongst healthcare workers. Welcoming this publication, Liz Darlison of Mesothelioma UK said: “Mesothelioma UK will ensure that this research raises awareness of the risk of exposure to healthcare staff and hopefully, improve the treatment and care given to them by medical teams and support agencies.” See: Include asbestos risk awareness in NHS staff training, study recommends.
 

Asbestos Waste: The Hazard

Sep 28, 2020

Last week Quercus, an environmental organization in Portugal, issued an alert over the improper dumping of asbestos in household waste, in the countryside and at abandoned quarries, reiterating warnings that a government ban on non-hazardous waste landfills receiving asbestos cement debris could lead to an increase in hazardous fly-tipping which could impact on both workers and members of the public. Should the situation continue, clean-up costs incurred by the government could be substantial. The lack of capacity for asbestos inspection and training of at-risk workers in Portugal, says Quercus, is a serious problem. See: Illegal asbestos dumping concerns.
 

Asbestos Crackdown

Sep 28, 2020

Investigators in Korea’s Gyeonggi Province who inspected 359 asbestos demolition sites between August 10 and 28, 2020 identified 27 incidents where amounts varying from 40 to 2,000 kilograms of asbestos-containing waste had been illegally collected, transported or dumped according to an announcement made on September 24, 2020 by the Gyeonggi Special Judicial Police Corps. Cases are being brought against all those companies responsible. See: 발암물질 폐석면 불법 처리 업체들 무더기 적발 [Illegal asbestos fly tipping company found].
 

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 Quebe