News Item Archive

To obtain a subset of news items select a country, region or year:

    Country    Region    Year       

Alternatively, click All news items for the complete list

Displaying all items
 

Asbestos Victims Sue Railroad Company

Apr 15, 2024

Texas-based BNSF Railway, a company owned by the American billionaire Warren Buffet, is being sued by multiple asbestos victims – including 61-year old asbestos victim Paul Resch and the estates of Joyce Wald and Thomas Wells – who alleged that the railway failed to prevent cancerous fibers being liberated as a result of its operations in the Montana town of Libby. To date, arguments advanced by BNSF’s legal team in defence of the company have been rejected by U.S. District Court Judge Brian Morris. See: Victims of Montana asbestos pollution that killed hundreds take Warren Buffet's railroad to court.
 

Asbestos Anxiety Verdict

Apr 15, 2024

An industrial tribunal in Rouen ordered the DS Smith Paper company in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray, France to compensate 131 asbestos-exposed employees last month (March 2024). The judges agreed that, as a result of hazardous workplace exposures, the claimants suffered from “asbestos anxiety,” a fear of contracting an asbestos-related disease. Compensation payouts ranged from €1,200 (US $1,280) to €15,000 (US $15,980) per employee. See: Rouen. Affaire DS Smith: l'entreprise condamnée à indemniser 131 salariés exposés à de l'amiante [Rouen. DS Smith case: the company ordered to compensate 131 employees exposed to asbestos].
 

Evolving Technology for Asbestos Waste

Apr 15, 2024

Massive amounts of asbestos-containing waste are being created around the world every year. Burying this material in regulated landfills is, at best, a temporary solution. The article cited below discussed progress being made by companies in the Netherlands and France in detoxifying this waste using heat processes, microwaves or chemicals to destroy the fibers, so that the material can safely be reused, thereby eliminating the need to further contaminate dumpsites or the environment. See: Asbestos is a global waste problem – here's how we might get rid of it.
 

Victory for Asbestos Appellant

Apr 15, 2024

The Court of Velletri, in the Italian capital city, this month upheld an appeal from 60-year old Piero De Luca, who alleged that as a result of asbestos exposures at the Colgate Palmolive plant in Anzio he contracted pleural plaques and pleural thickening. His application for asbestos benefits and early retirement was rejected by the Italian National Social Security Institute (INPS) in 2020. The Court ordered INPS to increase by 30% the social security benefits paid to the claimant bringing the sum to €2,500 (US$2665) per month. See: Amianto alle porte di Roma, lavoratore affetto da placche pleuriche: tribunale condanna l'Inps [Asbestos on the outskirts of Rome, worker suffering from pleural plaques: court condemns INPS].
 

Shut-down of Asbestos Registry

Apr 15, 2024

WorkSafe – New Zealand's primary workplace health and safety regulator – has ceased funding the national asbestos registry, claiming it was unreliable and redundant. Commenting on this development, researcher Dr Terri-Ann Berry said that the existence of a “centralised, well-maintained asbestos exposure registry” was pivotal for determining trends in asbestos-related diseases and identifying population- and regional-hotspots. Every year, 220 people are diagnosed with asbestos-related diseases in New Zealand. See: Asbestos exposure register should be continued – researcher.
 

Asbestos Outreach Work: Update

Apr 15, 2024

The Asbestos Health Impact Survey in the South Korean Province of Gyeongsangnam-do is now in its fourth year of operations. Outreach work by staff members seeks to identify at-risk members of the public and provide check-ups by medical staff from the Asbestos Environmental Health Center at Yangsan Pusan National University Hospital. People who are eligible for the free screening include those who had lived within a 2km radius of asbestos exposure sources (asbestos factories, shipyards, repair yards, etc.) for more than one year or worked with asbestos or asbestos-containing material. See: 석면 피해 의심된다면, 늦기 전에 무료 석면건강영향조사 받으세요! [If you suspect asbestos harm, get a free asbestos health effects survey before it's too late!].
 

Biggest Investigation in EPA’s History

Mar 11, 2024

After the presence of asbestos-contaminated mulch had been confirmed at 75 sites in Sydney, the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) of New South Wales is progressing an investigation to identify those responsible. “While the EPA works on its criminal investigation, the government will move to tighten regulations and make further changes as required,” Penny Sharpe, the Environment Minister of NSW, said. “The discovery of asbestos in mulch,” Sharpe added “led to the biggest investigation in the EPA’s history.” See: Asbestos-contaminated mulch found at 75 sites across Sydney, watchdog finds.
 

Asbestos Malfunctions at GSA

Mar 11, 2024

The General Services Administration (GSA), an independent US government agency tasked with helping manage federal agencies, published a 48-page report in March 2024 (see: Federal Real Property: More Consistent Monitoring of Asbestos Could Improve Oversight) that disclosed that 2/3 of the GSA’s buildings (638 out of 955) haven’t been inspected for asbestos for five years, including some of which that may never have been inspected. A comprehensive plan for completing required inspections and updating the agency’s asbestos policy is under consideration by GSA officials. See: Federal Real Property: More Consistent Monitoring of Asbestos Could Improve Oversight.
 

Asbestos Settlement for Kobe Plaintiffs

Mar 11, 2024

On March 6, 2024, a settlement was reached in the Kobe District Court between the Japanese government and relatives of a 78-year old self-employed electrician from Hyogo Prefecture who died from mesothelioma caused by exposure to asbestos at construction sites. The Government will pay a total of 14.3 million yen (US$97,200) in compensation to the three sister-in-laws of the deceased. See: アスベスト被害で男性死亡 遺族と国が和解へ 原告請求通り1430万円支払い 神戸地裁 [A man dies due to asbestos damage The bereaved family to receive 14.3 million yen from the government as ordered by Kobe District Court].
 

Eradicating the Asbestos Hazard in Incheon

Mar 11, 2024

The municipal authorities of Incheon, a South Korean city bordering the capital of Seoul, are offering subsidies of 7 million won (US$5,320) to encourage property owners to commission specialist contractors to remove and replace asbestos-containing roofs and other products to protect the public from toxic exposures. The city has allocated 1,432 billion won (US$1.1m) for asbestos remediation of 333 houses, 33 non-residential buildings, etc. during the coming fiscal year. See: 인천시, 주택 슬레이트 철거 시 최대 700만 원 지원 [Incheon City supports up to 7 million won for demolition of house slate].
 

Asbestos in Schools

Mar 11, 2024

New Zealand’s Ministry of Education said that as a result of shoddy work by licensed asbestos removal companies, tighter regulations are on their way to protect workers and members of the public from potentially deadly exposures to a known carcinogen. Under protocols currently being considered, the Ministry would only allow work to be undertaken by asbestos specialists which are members of a national panel of approved contractors. On March 7, 2024, Ministry spokesperson Sam Fowler told reporters: “We have identified examples of poor removal practice where, for example, asbestos cement pieces have been found in outdoor areas after a clearance certificate for the area had been issued.” See: Ministry signals tighter controls after 'inadequate' asbestos removal in schools.
 

The Secret is Out!

Mar 11, 2024

In the aftermath of a broadcast on France 5 of the TV documentary “Asbestos, Our Schools are Sick,” the media was awash with articles denouncing the presence of asbestos-containing material throughout the educational infrastructure. The article cited below featured the views of former MP and whistleblower Jean-Marie Schléret who was president of the National Observatory for School Security for 26 years. According to Schléret, the ubiquity of the contamination and lack of adequate communication have made the situation in many schools even worse. See: Amiante dans les écoles: trois questions à l’ancien député de Meurthe-et-Moselle et lanceur d'alerte Jean-Marie Schléret [Asbestos in schools: three questions for former MP for Meurthe-et-Moselle and whistleblower Jean-Marie Schléret].
 

NSW Government and EPA Under Attack

Mar 7, 2024

Clover Moore, the Lord Mayor of Sydney, last week denounced failures of the New South Wales (NSW) Government and the NSW Environmental Watchdog which led to the unfolding asbestos scandal in and around Sydney. At an extraordinary general meeting on March 4, the Mayor said that the council had incurred costs of $200,000 for testing of samples of mulch thought to be contaminated with asbestos at dozens of locations in the city. According to Carolyn Walsh, chair of the NSW asbestos taskforce, 90+% of the contaminated mulch had come from the company Greenlife Resource. See: Clover Moore attacks NSW government and EPA over ‘regulatory failure’ before asbestos crisis.
 

Asbestos TV Exposé

Mar 7, 2024

The article cited below included a discussion of an episode entitled “Asbestos, our sick schools,” which was broadcast on France 5 as part of the “Vert de Rage” documentary series on March 4, 2024. Based on research by journalists, it was reported that a third of French schools still contained asbestos which was poorly monitored and badly understood by school administrators and staff. According to Public Health France, 60 teachers or school workers contract mesothelioma, the signature cancer associated with asbestos exposure, every year. See: L’amiante dans les écoles, un fléau qui perdure en France [Asbestos in schools, a scourge that continues in France].
 

Another Asbestos Victim in Casale

Mar 7, 2024

The death was announced of 62-year old Daniela Zanier, a mesothelioma victim who was environmentally exposed to asbestos whilst living in the Italian town of Casale Monferrato, for decades home to an infamous asbestos-cement factory owned and operated by the Swiss Eternit Group. Mrs Zanier had been an active member of the local asbestos victims’ group: AFeVA. The funeral took place on March 4, 2024. AFeVA spokesperson Bruno Pesce said: “She leaves us with a great emptiness, but also deep anger and bitterness for the cause that took her away.” See: Vittime dell'amianto a Casale, morta Daniela Zanier. "La mia unica colpa: aver respirato l'aria" [Asbestos victims in Casale, Daniela Zanier died. “My only fault: having breathed the air”].
 

Encouraging Safe Removal of Asbestos

Mar 7, 2024

The Environmental Protection Department of the City of New Taipei, a special municipality located in northern Taiwan, announced last week plans to subsidize asbestos eradication work on domestic properties. Asbestos-containing debris is now listed as hazardous waste and must be dealt with according to mandatory protocols. Municipal funds have been allocated to encourage the safe disposal of this toxic material. Residents wishing to get rid of asbestos material in their homes have until October 31, 2024 to submit an application for funding. See: New Taipei Offers Subsidies for Asbestos Material Cleanup.
 

ABAN Meeting in Colombo

Mar 7, 2024

On March 3, 2024, members of the Asian Ban Asbestos Network (ABAN) – a coalition of grassroots groups and individuals which was founded in Hong Kong in 2009 – met in Colombo, Sri Lanka for the South Asia Strategy Meeting 2024. Speakers from Japan, Sri Lanka, India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Korea, India and Pakistan updated delegates on current struggles and developments in their countries, including the evolving role of victims’ campaigners, environmentalists, trade unionists, medical professionals and consumer groups. The session was co-organized by ABAN and the Centre for Environmental Justice, and co-sponsored by : IBAS, ANROEV, AMRC, Solidarity Center, and the OSHE Foundation. See: Picture of Colombo Meeting Banner.
 

Asbestos Fallout from January Earthquake

Mar 7, 2024

Several weeks after the January 1, 2024 earthquake hit the Noto Peninsula of Ishikawa Prefecture, Japanese citizens were reminded of the hazard posed by asbestos contamination created by natural and man-made disasters during a symposium in Okayama City convened by the Tokyo Occupational Safety and Health Center and the local Okayama Occupational Safety and Health Center. Members of the public in the affected area were warned to avoid demolition sites and wear specialist masks such as N95s to limit their inhalation of asbestos fibers. See: 災害とアスベスト リスク知り対策の徹底を [Disasters and Asbestos Risks Awareness and Prevention].
 

Asbestos Eradication Program in Enugu

Mar 6, 1924

On February 29, 2024, the Governor of the Nigerian State of Enugu Peter Mbah said that a program to replace damaged asbestos pipes had led to the scarcity of water in some parts of the state when water stations and sub-stations had been shut for maintenance and replacement work. According to information relayed by Mbah, 90% percent of water pipes in Enugu were made of asbestos and had been installed during the colonial era. Enugu’s old asbestos water delivery pipes are being replaced with modern ductile iron pipes. See: Enugu says water scarcity caused by replacement of damaged pipes.
 

Asbestos at Town Hall

Mar 6, 2024

The presence of asbestos was just one of several areas of concern according to a new report by Krissy Trigg, the manager of Buller District Council’s Community Services Group, in the West Coast Region of New Zealand: “Asbestos was identified in multiple areas, including a high-risk product found in the boiler room, which would cost up to $80,000 to remove.” The Council’s CEO Steve Gibling says the council’s headquarters in Brougham House, Brougham Street, Westport are safe to occupy and use. See: Council offices a risk for earthquake, fire, asbestos.
 

Shipbreaking Hazard in Comox Valley

Mar 6, 2024

Shipbreaking operations by the American-controlled company Deep Water Recovery has caused consternation among people living in Union Bay on Vancouver Island. Speaking on their behalf, Marilynne Manning of the group Concerned Citizens of Baynes Sound said: “[the ships] are all full of those hazardous materials: lead, mercury, cadmium, asbestos.” Agreeing with her, Comox Valley Regional District director Daniel Arbour said: “Everybody thinks it’s appalling that an activity like that would happen in this specific place.” Deep Water Recovery co-owner Mark Jurisich admitted that there is asbestos in the ships but that as it was contained, there was no pollution. See: Residents upset over Vancouver Island shipbreaking operation.
 

Asbestos Legacy

Mar 6, 2024

Although asbestos was banned in Latvia in 2001, before then the widespread use of products containing it have left a long-tail legacy of contamination in the built and natural environment. Many domestic properties are still roofed with asbestos material which can become hazardous as the products deteriorate. Asbestos-containing building debris, which is classed as hazardous waste under Latvian laws, is subject to strict protocols for its safe removal and disposal. See: Асбест — хуже ядерных отходов, или Как в Латвии надо утилизировать старый шифер [Asbestos Is Worse Than Nuclear Waste, or How Old Tiles Should Be Disposed of in Latvia].
 

Asbestos and Green Revolution

Mar 6, 2024

The focus of the February 28, 2024 commentary cited below was a discussion of the bonuses and pitfalls of the “green revolution.” Contractors were warned that in the eternal quest for economic savings, mandatory precautions against exposures to asbestos must be observed: “going green does create new risks, one of which is asbestos coming to light during upgrades. And such is the danger with this material that today’s contractors need to be extra vigilant when upgrading properties.” See: Asbestos: the unseen threat in the UK’s green revolution.
 

Rome Verdict for Mesothelioma Victim

Mar 6, 2024

The Court of Rome last week condemned the Ministry of Defence (MoD) in the case brought over the 2019 asbestos death of 56-year old Aldo Martina. The MoD was ordered to pay the deceased’s family the sum of €200,000 (US$216,400) as it had failed to protect the soldier from exposures to asbestos during his military service in La Spezia and Brindisi. As a communications technician, Martina was constantly in contact with asbestos fibers from engine room equipment, cables, paint and insulation products. See: Amianto, Il MInistero della Difesa dovrà risarcire la famiglia di un militare [Asbestos, the Ministry of Defense will have to compensate the family of a soldier].
 

Rising Incidence of Asbestos Cancer

Mar 5, 2024

On February 29, 2024, the Federal Agency for Occupational Risks announced that the number of applicants with mesothelioma recognized by the Belgian Asbestos Fund (AFA) was 253 in 2023, the highest number since 2009. In previous years, the average number of successful cases was between 197 and 200. It is unknown why the figure has risen by 28%. Before asbestos use was banned, Belgium had been a large asbestos consumer and exporter of asbestos-containing products. See: Amiante en Belgique: le nombre de victimes reconnues est en forte augmentation [Asbestos in Belgium: the number of recognised victims is rising sharply].
 

Saying No to Asbestos in Schools

Mar 5, 2024

Hundreds of people in the Ugandan town of Jinja took part in a “No Asbestos” 5 km marathon and walk; the February 24th event was headed by Nathan Igeme Nabeta, Jinja South East’s Member of Parliament who was joined by other civic leaders and officials of the Busoga Kingdom. The purpose of this activity was to raise money to buy iron sheeting to re-roof classrooms still covered with asbestos roofing. According to event organizer Meddie Mbentyo: “The Government of Uganda banned the use of asbestos in roofing classrooms…we hope to role out this initiative in other schools with asbestos roofs.” See: Hundreds of Jinja residents participate in No Asbestos Marathon.
 

Illegal Fly-tipping in the Setúbal District

Mar 5, 2024

On February 21, 2024, Portugal’s Republican National Guard (GNR) announced the discovery of illegal dumping of toxic waste, including asbestos tiles, at 12 locations in the municipalities of Alcochete, Barreiro, Moita and Montijo, following inspections by members of the Nature and Environment Protection Service of the Montijo Territorial Detachment. The hazardous material was found on dirt roads, next to bushy areas and close to industrial areas. See: GNR deteta deposição ilegal de resíduos em Alcochete, Barreiro, Moita e Montijo [GNR detects illegal disposal of waste in Alcochete, Barreiro, Moita and Montijo].
 

Firefighters’ Cancer Risk

Mar 5, 2024

Throughout February 2024, French firefighters via their largest union – the Autonomous Federation – worked to mobilize support for calls to better protect members from exposures to occupational carcinogens, such as asbestos. A 2022 study by the International Agency for Research on Cancer found that firefighters were routinely exposed to carcinogens at work. A 2023 study established that firefighters are three times more likely to die from certain types of cancers than the rest of the population. See: Amiante, fumées… Des pompiers en grève alertent contre les cas de cancer qui flambent [Asbestos, fumes... Striking firefighters warn of soaring cancer cases].
 

Asbestos Issues in Australia and the UK

Mar 5, 2024

The unfolding asbestos scandal which started in Sydney in January 2024 and has spread to Canberra and Queensland was the starting point for the discussion in the article cited below about the UK’s asbestos legacy, including the public health risk posed by the continuing delivery of drinking water via “hundreds of thousands of miles” of aging and deteriorating asbestos-cement pipes. It could cost £5-8bn to replace the stock of asbestos-cement water mains currently being used the UK and Ireland. According to the BBC, some studies show a correlation between exposure to asbestos through drinking water and incidences of stomach and gut cancers. See: ‘Beyond belief’: fears of asbestos return.
 

Precautionary Approach to Cancer

Mar 5, 2024

Cancer mortality is skyrocketing in Vietnam according to the article cited below. The best health outcome for cancer patients is obtained as a result of early diagnoses of disease. Amongst the 12 cohorts of people urged to take preventive action listed in the article were those who had a history of exposure to potentially carcinogenic substances, such as asbestos, benzene, arsenic, etc. For individuals “with a history of prolonged exposure, or working in toxic environments, exposed to the above chemicals,” annual check-ups were recommended. See: 12 đối tượng cần đi khám sàng lọc định kỳ ung thư [12 cohorts who need routine cancer screening].
 

Jury Award for Asbestos Series

Mar 4, 2024

Last week, it was announced that the series “Asbestos Danger,” by Pelin Ünker and Serdar Vardar of DW Turkish TV had won the Jury Special Award 2024 in a competition organized by the Istanbul Medical Chamber. In a statement by the 5-member jury, it was explained that the series had “comprehensively examined the danger of asbestos and the possible damages that will occur due to exposures after the February 6 earthquakes last year.” The award ceremony will be held on Sunday, March 17, 2024, at Istanbul Kültür University Bakırköy campus. See: DW Türkçe'nin Asbest Tehlikesi dizisine Jüri Özel Ödülü [Special Jury Award for DW Turkish's Asbestos Hazard series].
 

Asbestos at the Ship Scrapping Yards

Mar 4, 2024

Exposure to asbestos is just one workplace hazard that Bangladeshi workers experience during the dismantling of cargo ships, tankers and other vessels. After 30 years of such exposures at the Chittagong scrapyard in southern Bangladesh, 55-year old Fazlul Karim contracted an asbestos illness which has left him with a respiratory capacity of only 60%. Medical tests conducted in 2016 by an Indian doctor found that 35% of the 101 shipyard workers examined suffered from asbestosis due to hazardous occupational conditions. See: Bangladesh: L'amiante clandestin des navires occidentaux [Bangladesh: Clandestine asbestos from Western ships].
 

ADSA Accolade!

Mar 4, 2024

On February 27, 2024, Member of the Australian House of Representatives Russell Broadbent made a statement in Parliament highlighting the incredible work of the Perth-based advocacy group the Asbestos Diseases Society of Australia (ADSA): “For decades the ADSA has been fighting for the rights of asbestos victims, including people who worked at the infamous mine in Wittenoom and the people who lived in that town. The ADSA pioneered groundbreaking legal action and worked closely with stakeholders, including trade unions, to raise public awareness of asbestos risks and look after the injured.” See: Statements on Indulgence. National Ban on the Use of Asbestos: 20th Anniversary.
 

Eternit’s Rosy Future?

Mar 4, 2024

Eternit, SA, formerly Brazil’s leading asbestos producing and processing group, has informed the stock exchange of plans to emerge from bankruptcy reorganization in the coming months. Diversification into products for solar energy generation and modular construction have offset losses incurred as a result of the national ban on asbestos. Buoyant statements by CEO Paulo Roberto Andrade about rising corporate profits ring hollow to the Eternit’s many asbestos victims who are still fighting for recognition and compensation for the asbestos-related diseases they contracted as a result of workplace asbestos exposures. See: Muito além do amianto: o futuro da Eternit após a recuperação judicial [Far beyond asbestos: the future of Eternit after judicial recovery].
 

Anger in Parliament over Cancer Cuts

Mar 4, 2024

On February 6 & 8, 2024 written questions were submitted to the French National Assembly and Senate over the progress of plans by Public Health France to shut the national mesothelioma surveillance program which had, for 20 years, facilitated the production of knowledge on mesothelioma incidence and post-diagnosis survival as well as identified hotspots of occupational and environmental asbestos exposure. According to Public Health France, this action is to be taken in response to financial constraints. The Government was asked to rethink this decision. See: National Assembly Written question no. 14904 and Senate Written question no. 09996.
 

Removing Asbestos from Schools

Mar 4, 2024

On February 29, 2024, authorities from South Korea’s Jeonbuk Province announced plans to complete the removal of most asbestos from its schools by the end of the year (2024). For technical reasons, a small amount of asbestos-containing material will remain in place until 2025. Since 2019, the Metropolitan Office of Education invested 204 billion won (US$153m) to decontaminate the educational infrastructure. “The goal,” said a spokesperson from the Metropolitan Office of Education “is to achieve zero asbestos three years ahead of the 2027 target set by the Ministry of Education.” See: 전북 학교 석면 제거, 올해 사실상 완료…6년간 2천억 투입 [Asbestos removal from Jeonbuk schools was virtually completed this year… 200 billion invested over 6 years].
 

Asbestos Cancer in Russia, Who Knew?

Feb 29, 2024

The article cited below, which appeared on a Russian news portal on February 27, 2024, featured comments by an oncologist from St Petersburg who explained that occupational exposures to asbestos can cause the signature asbestos cancer of mesothelioma. Russian asbestos stakeholders, both in and out of government, have long denied the existence of any health risk posed by exposure to chrysotile asbestos, the type produced in Russia. Russia is the world’s largest asbestos producer; in 2022, Russian mines accounted for 750,000 tonnes, or ~60% of global output. See: Врач назвал симптомы развития рака брюшины [Doctor describes symptoms of the development of peritoneal cancer].
 

Asbestos Convictions in Basilicata Region

Feb 29, 2024

The Court of Matera, Italy this week sentenced former managers – Silvano Benitti, Pietro Pini, Michele Cardinale, Michele Bonanni and Lorenzo Po – to a year in jail and ordered them to pay compensation for pecuniary and non-pecuniary damages to asbestos victims who had worked at the Materit asbestos factory in Ferrandina. The defendants were charged with manslaughter, negligent injury and failure to comply with workplace safety regulations. Their negligence resulted in several workers contracting asbestos-related diseases; four workers died of these diseases as did a widow of a former Materit employee. See: Materit: cinque condanne per le morti da amianto [Materit: five convictions for asbestos-related deaths].
 

Asbestos in Schools

Feb 29, 2024

On February 20, 2024, a spokesperson for the Education Office of Jinja City Haruna Mulopa admitted that the continued presence of asbestos roofing on four schools built in the 1950s in Jinja City, in the Eastern Region of Uganda, is a cause of concern for local people. Thousands of children attend these schools which are located in densely populated areas. According to Mulopa: “The existence of the asbestos roofing is due to financial constraints the schools are currently facing, but we are aware of the dangers of having asbestos on school buildings.” See: Jinja schools still stuck with hazardous asbestos roofing.
 

Asbestos in Parliament

Feb 29, 2024

The Palace of Westminster, the seat of the UK Government, is falling down. As politicians dither about how and when to repair the crumbling structure, “life-threatening incidents” such as exposure to asbestos are common, for employees, building users and members of the public who have occasion to visit Parliament. The substantial repairs needed will cost several billion pounds and take many years. Trade union spokespersons are supporting plans for a “full decant” so that work could be completed in the shortest possible time; the possibility of moving MPs out of Westminster has not found favor with key decision-makers. See: Delay to Parliament’s restoration risks ‘life-threatening incident’ with concerns over asbestos and legionella.
 

Asbestos Scandal Spreads to Queensland

Feb 29, 2024

The asbestos scandal which began in January 2024 in Sydney has now spread to Queensland, according to an article in The Guardian. The toxic mulch contaminating dozens of sites in New South Wales, has been found at 25 places in Queensland, including one school. Asbestos material discovered on February 20 at a waste facility operated by the company NuGrow was pronounced to be “friable and was detected following drying and sieving under a stereoscopic microscope,” according to Queensland’s Department of Environment. See: Queensland school among 25 entities supplied with mulch that could be contaminated with friable asbestos.
 

Eradication Subsidies in Jeongeup City

Feb 29, 2024

On February 27, 2024, the South Korea City of Jeongeup announced that it would subsidize the latest phase in the municipality’s asbestos eradication program with the allocation of 1.69 billion won (US$1.2m) to cover work on 465 buildings, including 424 houses, 10 non-domestic buildings (warehouses and barns) and the removal of 31 asbestos roofs. The maximum subsidy for eradication work on houses is 7 million won (US$5,200) per building; up to 5 million won (US$3,740) can be provided for the removal of asbestos-cement roofing. Concessions will be made for applications from socially vulnerable groups. See: 정읍시, 올해 석면 슬레이트 처리에 17억원 투입 [Jeongeup City to invest KRW 1.7 billion in asbestos slate treatment this year].
 

New Outreach Program in Bahia

Feb 26, 2024

Hundreds of people in the Brazilian cities of Bom Jesus da Serra, Poções, Planalto and Caetanos in the State of Bahia who were exposed to asbestos produced at the São Félix mine will be receiving free medical check-ups under a program to be rolled out over the coming weeks. This initiative is the result of a collaboration among members of the Brazilian Association of the Asbestos-Exposed (ABREA), medical experts in São Paulo and personnel from the Public Ministry of Labor. See: Parceria traz carreta-tomógrafo de última geração para atender vítimas do amianto [Partnership brings state-of-the-art tomograph truck to assist asbestos victims].
 

Prohibition of Toxic Landscaping Stones

Feb 26, 2024

Korea’s Ministry of Environment (MoE) banned sales of landscaping stones containing asbestos. Investigations established that out of 35 samples of landscaping stones from 10 companies, 17 contained asbestos. Commenting on this news, Hwang Kye-young, director of the MoE’s Environmental Health Bureau, said: “It is important to block landscaping stones at the initial sales (distribution) stage because they are difficult to remove after installation…We will make efforts to prevent damage to public health…by strengthening the management of asbestos-containing landscape stones through continuous fact-finding surveys.” See: 석면 함유 조경석 판매업체 관리 강화 [Strengthening the management of asbestos-containing landscape stone vendors].
 

Asbestos in the Water Delivery System

Feb 26, 2024

A media investigation into the consequences of decaying asbestos-cement (A/C) water pipes in the UK’s water delivery system revealed that A/C pipes “are more likely to burst than any material except for cast iron;” the burst rate of AC water pipes in Scotland was up by 49% between 2017 and 2021, from 860 to 1,280. In another area in the north-west of England, there was a 2,000% increase in burst A/C pipes between 2017 and 2021. Sixty per cent of the 31,000 miles of A/C pipes in the UK and Ireland were installed 50+ years ago. Replacing these aging pipes, could cost up to £8 billion. See: Health concerns raised over asbestos in tap water.
 

Asbestos in the South Pacific

Feb 26, 2024

From February 26, 2024, workmen employed by the Government of the Cook Islands will commence work to decontaminate the Old Post Office building in the island’s capital city of Avarua at the cost of $400,000. In October 2023, 50 members of staff were relocated when the building was shut because of the presence of asbestos and structural issues. In light of the remediation work being done at this site, people are asking questions about the legacy of aging asbestos-containing material in other buildings in Rarotonga, the largest island in the Cook Islands. See: Govt grapples with aging buildings.
 

Asbestos in Schools

Feb 26, 2024

Children at the Athénée Royal Charles Rogier (Liège 1), a secondary school serving the French population in Liège, Belgium began their half-term holiday two days early because of the discovery of asbestos-containing material in the school. They were notified on February 21, 2024 of the suspension of classes after work had been carried out by an external company to install paper dispensers. A member of staff reported suspicions about the possible disturbance of asbestos contained in the building’s walls to the asbestos watchdog at the labor inspectorate. An investigation is ongoing. See: Amiante dans une école liégeoise: la direction de l’Athénée Royal Charles Rogier s’exprime [Asbestos in a Liège school: the management of the Athénée Royal Charles Rogier speaks out].
 

Rimini: Coastal Asbestos Hotspot

Feb 26, 2024

Since 1996, 258 people have died from asbestos-related diseases in Rimini, an Italian holiday resort in the Emilia-Romagna region, according to a report by the Association of Asbestos Families and Victims which warned that: “Anyone who is aware of the presence of asbestos on roofs, sheds, buildings, should immediately report it to the Municipality or contact the association…” In 2023, work commissioned by the city council removed just eighteen tons of asbestos from the municipal infrastructure. See: Amianto killer a Rimini: più di 150 morti dal 1996 ad oggi [Killer asbestos in Rimini: more than 150 deaths since 1996].
 

Asbestos scandal: Update

Feb 23, 2024

In addition to asbestos-containing debris, other illegal “construction and demolition waste” has been found in contaminated mulch produced by Greenlife Resource Recovery according to news released by The Environment Protection Authority (EPA). Some of this contaminated material was used for the Prospect Highway upgrade in Blacktown, New South Wales. The EPA also said that along with asbestos, “foreign materials” were found in mulch used at the Rozelle parklands where Sydney’s asbestos scandal started in January. See: Mulch at centre of NSW asbestos crisis also contained ‘construction and demolition waste’.
 

Compensation for Shipyard Worker

Feb 23, 2024

A record sum of €190,000 (US$206,000) was awarded by a civil court in Torre Annunziata, in the Metropolitan area of Naples, to a worker from the Castellammare di Stabia shipyard who is now suffering from an asbestos-related disease as a result of toxic workplace exposures. Countless numbers of people worked at these shipyards, opened in the late 18th century and still producing vessels during the 21st. See: Indemnisation record de 190 000 euros pour un ancien travailleur exposé à l'amiante [Record €190,000 compensation for former worker exposed to asbestos].
 

Replacing Asbestos Roofing

Feb 23, 2024

Action is being taken by the Msunduzi city council over the presence of asbestos roofing in Msunduzi city in the KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) province of South Africa. Authorization plans have been signed by city councillors for work to replace asbestos-containing roofing in Ward 34, which was damaged during storms which occurred between December 22 and 30, 2023. According to a city official: “The municipality has submitted the funding application to KZN Human Settlement to change all asbestos roof covers as there is now conclusive evidence that if asbestos and asbestos-containing materials like roofs and partitions deteriorate, they release harmful asbestos fibres into the environment.” See: Parents demand action on asbestos.
 

Busan’s New Asbestos Eradication Program

Feb 23, 2024

Previous attempts by the city council to take steps to address the widespread presence of asbestos roofing in Busan, South Korea’s second biggest city, failed to quantify the amount and location of toxic material on unregistered and illegal buildings. On February 19, it was announced that for the first time all of the city’s 16 districts and counties would be mounting full-scale audits of all properties. For the first time, it will also be mandatory for investigators to identify buildings where asbestos roofing has been covered over. See: 부산 석면 무허가 건물 등 전수조사 [Complete investigation of unlicensed asbestos [containing] buildings in Busan].
 

Asbestos Scandal Spreads from Sydney

Feb 23, 2024

The asbestos scandal which started in Sydney in January 2024 with incidents of asbestos found in mulch used on multiple sites has now spread to Australia’s capital city, according to an article in The Guardian newspaper. The source of this news was WorkSafe ACT which confirmed that mulch containing asbestos had been found at a residential complex in Canberra. WorkSafe had issued a prohibition order “to ensure the mulch is not disturbed, handled or disposed of until testing can be completed.” Inspections by WorkSafe ACT staff were continuing at 29 other sites and properties. See: Bonded asbestos found in mulch at new Canberra site, one of 29 WorkSafe ACT says could be affected.
 

Victim’s Appeal Court Verdict

Feb 23, 2024

The Court of Appeal of the Italian Province of L'Aquila issued a ruling ordering the Italian National Social Security Institute (INPS) to recognize the asbestos-related death of Luigi Vitullo, who died aged 54 of pleural mesothelioma. The deceased worked from 1976 to 1987 for various companies in the province of Chieti; during the course of his duties, he was routinely exposed to asbestos. Vitullo was diagnosed with mesothelioma in May 2015; he died in Ancona the following month. His widow Antonietta Cicchini will receive an increased pension as well as a lump sum payment of €80.000 (US$86,000). See: Amianto, muore di mesotelioma a 54 anni, condanna per Inps [Asbestos, death from mesothelioma at 54, INPS sentenced [ordered to pay compensation]].
 

Asbestos Hazard: Confirmation

Feb 21, 2024

An asbestos factsheet uploaded last week to the website of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) stated categorically that: “There is ongoing evidence that mismanagement of asbestos is resulting in elevated healthcare expenses that surpass any benefits. Over the lifetime of all patients with an asbestos-related disease, burden of disease costs has been estimated to be US$11 billion.” UN efforts to regulate the global trade in asbestos over the last 20 years have failed spectacularly due to the intransigence of commercial and governmental asbestos stakeholders. See: UNEP Asbestos Factsheet.
 

Mesothelioma Research: Good News

Feb 21, 2024

A medical breakthrough was announced for the treatment of pleural mesothelioma, the signature cancer associated with asbestos exposure. By cutting off the tumor’s food supply, the drug ADI-PEG20 (pegargiminase) – when used in combination with chemotherapy – “quadrupled three-year survival rates.” These were the results of the ATOMIC-meso clinical trial involving 249 pleural mesothelioma patients at 43 centers in the UK, US, Australia, Italy and Taiwan from 2017 until 2021; the research was led by Prof Peter Szlosarek at Queen Mary University, London. See: Drug offers ‘wonderful’ breakthrough in treatment of asbestos-linked cancer.
 

Asbestos in Schools

Feb 21, 2024

The asbestos-related death of a Japanese science teacher was recognized this month as an occupationally-caused disease. Hideo Sando, who died from mesothelioma age 69, had handled asbestos during scientific experiments in the school’s laboratory. He had worked at a municipal elementary school in Wakayama, a city in western Japan from 1977 to 2013. He was diagnosed with mesothelioma in 2021 and died in 2022. This is the tenth case of an asbestos-related occupational disease to emerge among teachers in Japan. See: Death of Japan science teacher who handled asbestos recognized as on-job accident.
 

Analyzing Effectiveness of National Bans

Feb 21, 2024

The paper cited below which was published in the Scandinavian Journal of Work, Environment and Health on February 7, 2024 discussed the advances in protecting workers from toxic exposures to asbestos. Although the implementation of restrictive practices and national bans have been effective in decreasing “the risk of malignancies due to occupational exposure” in some counties, more research is needed to quantify the “effect of the bans on adverse effects in the general population. Analysis of fibers in the lungs of persons born after the bans could,” wrote the coauthors “be an efficient method.” See: Asbestos and disease – a public health success story?
 

Great East Japan Earthquake 1995

Feb 21, 2024

Researchers studying the consequences of the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake (1995) agree that with increasing latency – the time between asbestos exposure during the quake and now – the likelihood of at-risk people developing asbestos-related diseases continues to grow. As a result of damage done during the disaster, levels of airborne asbestos were 25 times the environmental standard. Between February and April 1995, buildings with 300 tons of sprayed asbestos were demolished. Five disaster clean-up workers have been certified with asbestos-related diseases. See:震災アスベスト、30年目の脅威を問う 長い潜伏期間、これからか顕在化か [Earthquake asbestos poses a threat after 30 years; will more cases emerge due to long incubation period?].
 

Asbestos Cancer Research Project

Feb 21, 2024

A$1.9 million (US$1.25m) was awarded by the Medical Research Future Fund to scientists from Australia’s Flinders University – under the leadership of Professor Sonja Klebe – for a project entitled: Improving clinical outcomes and predicting susceptibility in mesothelioma and lung cancer. According to Professor Klebe: “the introduction of immunotherapy could be a game changer for lung cancer and mesothelioma patients...Our research will help create personalised immunotherapy for lung cancer and mesothelioma, as well as new biomarkers to predict patient outcomes with the goal of improving lung cancer patient survival while reducing nasty side effects.” See: Improving survival rates for deadly lung diseases.
 

ECHR Condemns Swiss Government

Feb 15, 2024

On February 13, 2024, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) issued a unanimous judgment condemning Switzerland’s failure to “ensure expeditious proceedings before the Federal Court” in a case involving the asbestos cancer death of Marcel Jann who had as a child lived in a house rented from Eternit (Schweiz) AG, the owner of a neighboring industrial complex where asbestos products were manufactured. In the unanimous ruling, the ECHR panel of judges declared that: “there is no scientifically recognized maximum latency period between exposure to asbestos and the onset of cancer…the Swiss judiciary has attached greater importance to the legal certainty of those responsible for the damage than to the right of victims to bring the case before a court of law.” See: European Court of Human Rights. Judgment concerning Switzerland.
 

Marines Sue MoD

Feb 15, 2024

On February 6, 2024, a group of 260 service personnel – most of whom are Royal Marines – issued proceedings against the Ministry of Defence (MoD) which allegedly breached the Human Rights Act by “knowingly” exposing them to asbestos during military exercises in Latvia in 2018 & 2019. Samples taken of dust found in a derelict building designated for use by the soldiers tested positive for chrysotile (white) asbestos. Lawyers for the soldiers claim the MoD was aware of the presence of asbestos at the sites used during the military exercises. Many of the service personnel affected are now experiencing “asbestos anxiety,” a condition recognized in France but not in the UK. See: Royal Marines to fight MoD in court in asbestos claim.
 

Asbestos Scandal & Mardi Gras

Feb 15, 2024

It was announced on February 14, 2024 that the Fair Day event, part of Sydney’s Mardi Gras celebrations, scheduled to take place in Victoria Park on February 18, was cancelled after municipal authorities rescinded permission for use of the public space due to the presence of asbestos. Although alternative venues were offered, the organizers said rearranging this massive event was not viable at such short notice. More than 70,000 people had been expected to attend. Mulch containing asbestos has been found at 21 locations throughout the Sydney area including parks, a school and a hospital. See: Mardi Gras rejects offer to relocate Fair Day after asbestos discovery.
 

Rising Cancer Incidence

Feb 15, 2024

The article cited below expressed concerns over the increasing incidence of cancer amongst younger people. The author listed several factors which could explain this trend including: poor lifestyle choices, sedentary lifestyles, and exposures to environmental and occupational toxins such as asbestos. India is the world’s largest asbestos user, consuming 311,000 tonnes(t) in 2020, 408,000t in 2021 and 424,000t in 2022. Considering the synergistic effect of asbestos exposure and tobacco use – 45% cent of males are smokers – in the causation of cancers, disease rates will almost certainly continue to increase in India in the years to come. See: Understanding why cancer rates are rising among younger generations.
 

New Resource for Tradies

Feb 15, 2024

Comprehensive new guidelines for tradespeople in New Zealand were uploaded to “provide critical information and resources for safely managing and removing asbestos, a known health hazard in buildings and construction materials.” The three new publications provide region-specific information and guidance for people in the areas of Gisborne, Hawke’s Bay and New Plymouth on New Zealand’s North Island. Information in the texts include: the names and contact details for licensed and qualified asbestos removal professionals; safety procedures; and mandatory rules and requirements. See: Enhancing Safety: TradieGuide's New Asbestos Removal Resources For NZ Regions.
 

Asbestos in Bukchang Elementary School

Feb 15, 2024

Despite the high safety record achieved by Bukchang Elementary School in Dangjin, Chungcheongnam Province, South Korea, work on removing asbestos from the school continued during the 2023 winter school vacation. On February 8, 2024, a spokesperson for the school announced that it had obtained an award for having the highest safety certification for an educational facility. Commenting on the good news, Principal Park Chang-ok promised that the school authorities: “will continue to do our best to maintain a safe school environment for our students.” See: 충남 당진 북창초등학교, 교육시설안전인증 최우수 인증 획득 [Bukchang Elementary School in Dangjin, Chungcheongnam Province obtained the highest certification for educational facility safety certification].
 

Renault Guilty of Asbestos Exposures

Feb 12, 2024

The French trade union center – the Confédération Générale du Travail/CGT (General Confederation of Labour) – last week announced that after a 22-year fight, the asbestos hazard at the Renault Trucks site in Vénissieux, eastern France had finally been recognized. Commenting on this development, on February 6, 2024, CGT activist Gilles Cavalieri said: “It is a victory since the largest company in the construction of heavy goods vehicles, coaches and buses, has been found guilty of having exposed its employees to the deadly poison of asbestos.” See (subscription site): Amiante chez Renault Trucks: victoire de la CGT après 22 ans de procedures [Asbestos at Renault Trucks: victory for the CGT after 22 years of proceedings].
 

Asbestos in Parliament

Feb 12, 2024

According to a recent update on asbestos eradication and restoration work at the building in Ottawa which houses Canada’s Parliament, work should be completed on the main building (Centre Block) on Parliament Hill by 2031, with the building reopening in 2032. The total bill for the renewal work, which has been estimated at $5 billion, included the removal of ~12,000 tonnes (26 million pounds) of hazardous materials such as asbestos. During most of the 20th century, Canada was the world’s leading asbestos producer and the force behind global pro-asbestos propaganda. See: About 26M pounds of asbestos, hazardous materials removed from Centre Block.
 

Water from Toxic Pipes Unsafe

Feb 12, 2024

According to Engineer Mohammad Jamal Deeban, Deputy Director of the Public Corporation for Drinking Water in Idlib, Syria, almost all the water delivery networks in Idlib Province relied on asbestos pipes. These pipes were installed in 1980 and the authorities were concerned about the cancer risk posed by the contamination of water with asbestos fibers liberated from the aging network. While all the asbestos pipes in Idlib City had now been replaced with polyethylene pipes, work has not started on eradicating asbestos from main drinking water lines in other cities due to budgetary constraints. See: Asbestos water pipes pose cancer risk in Idlib.
 

Medical Clinic Support Program

Feb 12, 2024

The Center for Asbestos Related Disease (CARD) Clinic continues to provide healthcare for people in the town of Libby, Montana who were poisoned by exposures to asbestos liberated during the mining of vermiculite by the company W.R. Grace. Clinic staff provide free screenings to 1,000+ people for asbestos-related diseases and lung cancers every year. The medical programs are supported by a federal grant and eligibility for these services is reliant on applicants having lived, worked, or spent at least 6 months in Lincoln County, Montana more than ten years ago. See: Center for Asbestos Related Disease Continues FREE Asbestos & Lung Cancer Screenings.
 

Supreme Court Upholds Victim’s Verdict

Feb 12, 2024

On February 1, 2024, France’s Supreme Court (Court of Cassation) dismissed an attempt by the Saint-Nazaire Atlantic Shipyards company to overturn a ruling which supported a claim by the family of a shipyard worker who died from the asbestos cancer mesothelioma in 2015. The deceased had worked at the Saint-Nazaire shipyards from 1974 to 2010; the company argued that after it took over the site from Alsthom Shipworks in May 2006, the claimant had not been exposed to asbestos. Previously, the Nantes High Court and the Court of Appeal had also issued a victim’s verdict in this case. See: Amiante: rejet du recours des Chantiers de l’Atlantique de Saint-Nazaire [Asbestos: dismissal of the appeal by Chantiers de l'Atlantique de Saint-Nazaire].
 

Asbestos Prosecution in New Brunswick

Feb 12, 2024

On February 7, 2024, Judge Cameron Gunn reserved his decision in a case brought under the Occupational Health and Safety Act by Crown Prosecutor Derek Weaver over alleged infringements of asbestos regulations at the Dr Everett Chalmers Regional Hospital. In November, 2023, lawyers for the Horizon Health Network admitted two charges related to possible asbestos exposures of hospital employees over five years. Although the maximum fine could be $250,000, a deal has been reached for the company to pay $80,000 with the money going towards the purchase of a silica control tool. See: Proposed $80K fine against Horizon in asbestos case would go to effort to control toxic dust.
 

Post-disaster Contamination

Feb 8, 2024

On the first anniversary of devastating earthquakes which affected the Hatay region and surrounding areas in Turkey, it was announced that asbestos had been detected in 5 out of 7 samples of debris and soil collected in Hatay by analysts commissioned to conduct an environmental impact survey by the TEMA Foundation. Asbestos was also found in 2 of 3 samples from the Mileyha Bird Paradise Wetland in the Samandağ district. These findings, said experts, were proof that post-earthquake contamination remained a serious risk to human health. See: TEMA Vakfı: Hatay’daki enkaz atıkları zehir saçıyor, yedi örneğin beşinde asbest [TEMA Foundation: Debris waste in Hatay is poisonous, five of the seven samples contain asbestos].
 

Asbestos at the Museum

Feb 8, 2024

A prized possession of the American diplomat, scientist, inventor and founding father Benjamin Franklin now on show at the Natural History Museum in London is marked with a warning label saying: DO NOT OPEN. The dangerous artifact – carefully sealed in a clear plastic box – is a purse made of asbestos that Franklin brought to Britain from the US in 1725. The article cited below reviewed the tragic history of asbestos from Roman until present times and detailed some of the thousands of uses which had been found for the substance nicknamed the “magic mineral”. See: Asbestos: The strange past of the ‘magic mineral’.
 

Cutting Down Asbestos Dumping

Feb 8, 2024

The Department of Water and Environmental Regulations of Western Australia (WA) teamed up with Crime Stoppers WA to facilitate the reporting of flytipping of demolition material, much of which contains asbestos. Sally Heitman, Senior Manager of Waste Operations, recommended that “people ask their contracted demolition company about where their demolition waste is being disposed of as well as requesting the contractor to provide a receipt from the waste facility post disposal. Disposal fees are incorporated into the cost of demolition and a disposal receipt will ensure the correct procedure has been followed.” Suspicions or information about illegal practices can be reported quickly and anonymously by calling Crime Stoppers. See: We’ve teamed up with Crime Stoppers WA to battle illegal dumping.
 

Municipal Action on Asbestos

Feb 8, 2024

On February 5, 2024, it was announced that the Council of the South Korean city of Busan was consulting with stakeholders on plans for an asbestos survey program to address the widespread presence of asbestos roofing, much of which is found on unlicensed buildings, in the municipality. There are 22,000 asbestos-roofed structures in Busan and the Ministry of Environment has designated 346 areas of concern in the city including: Gamcheon Culture Village and White Yeoul Village, popular tourist destinations. See: 부산 석면건물 실태조사부터 하자” 시의회, 市에 제안 [“Let's start with the survey of asbestos buildings in Busan” City Council, proposal to the city].
 

New Jersey Asbestos Hotspot

Feb 8, 2024

The Mayor of Paterson, New Jersey was warned by federal officials of the “unacceptable risk” to members of the public posed by asbestos hidden in decaying industrial structures near Great Falls National Historical Park. According to the EPA’s Superfund and Emergency Management Division director Pat Evangelista: “As the buildings continue to deteriorate over time, the release and migration of the asbestos will also increase…A partial, or total collapse of the structure, should that occur, would cause a catastrophic release and an increased continual release of asbestos.” See: Feds warn of ‘unacceptable risk’ from contaminated buildings at Paterson’s Great Falls.
 

Subsidizing Asbestos Eradication

Feb 8, 2024

Subsidies of up to €3,000 (US$3,230) for the eradication and disposal of asbestos products such as roofs, canopies, slabs, insulation panels, pipes, tiles, pipes and tanks from buildings are being offered to domestic property owners – including individuals as well as housing associations – in the Italian commune of Misano, in Rimini Province. Applicants must employ the services of listed specialist companies for the asbestos removal work and disposal services. See: Fondi per togliere l’amianto [Funds to remove asbestos].
 

Mourning Another WA Asbestos Death

Feb 6, 2024

News was circulated last week of the death of tribal elder and mesothelioma victim Maitland Parker who dedicated his life to advancing the cause of Indigenous people. Parker was highly vocal in calls for the Government of Western Australia (WA) to decontaminate land surrounding the defunct Wittenoom Crocidolite (Blue Asbestos) Mine owned by the Banjima People. Working with other traditional land owners, in 2014 Mr. Parker was instrumental in obtaining recognition of the native title of the site in the Pilbara region for the Banjima people. See: Tributes flow after death of Indigenous pioneer of the Pilbara.
 

Cape Must Pay Campaign!

Feb 6, 2024

A press release issued by the Asbestos Victims Support Group Forum UK (AVSGF) on February 1, 2024, reported that Peter Gartside – a former executive of the asbestos company Cape plc – had endorsed calls by the AVSGF for Cape to make a £10 million donation for medical research in his book entitled Asbestos and Cape: A Tale of Three Stakeholders, published in January 2024: “The case put forward by the AVSGF for securing further funding for mesothelioma research has merit... To those employees of Cape Industrial Services who generated the profits to provide for future disease liability it would be a fitting application of £10 million of the residual provision fund.” See: Insider supports campaign for Cape/Altrad to pay for Mesothelioma Research.
 

Dumping Toxic Waste in Old Ships

Feb 6, 2024

New data from 2023, revealed that Bangladesh remained the world’s biggest dumping ground for end-of-life vessels. Workers on Chattogram beaches scrapped 170 out of the 446 ships dismantled last year. It is probable that most of the ships scrapped contained asbestos. There is little or no availability of protective clothing or equipment for people scrapping the toxic ships; none of the scrapyards in Chattogram is approved by the European Union. Ten percent of the steel for the country’s $6.5 billion steel re-rolling industry comes from the Bangladesh shipbreaking sector. See: Bangladesh Dumping ground for toxic ships.
 

Asbestos Scandal Grows

Feb 6, 2024

The article cited below reported growing criticism of the Government of Mauritius for failing to address the health hazard posed by the continued presence of asbestos-containing material in 43 ex-Central Housing Authority/European Development Community housing estates scattered around the island. Many of the toxic housing units were constructed in the 1960s in the aftermath of Cyclone Carol which had destroyed or seriously damaged about 100,000 houses, leaving over 15% of the island's population (100,000+ people) homeless. See: Santé publique: les «oubliés» de l’amiante [Public health: the “forgotten” of asbestos].
 

Shipbreaking Shortcuts and Lapses

Feb 6, 2024

A report, entitled Ship Recycling in Turkey, by a consortium of NGOs and experts was presented at a press conference at the Tepekule Congress and Exhibition Center in Izmir, Turkey last week. The expansion of the shipbreaking industry in Turkey since 1993 has not been accompanied by improved working conditions as shown by the failure at many workplaces for environmental impact assessments to be compiled. In addition, shipbreaking workers are not given sufficient training before starting work as mandated by government regulations. See: Denetimsiz söküm tehlike saçıyor [Uncontrolled dismantling poses danger].
 

Asbestos Eradication Program: Update

Feb 6, 2024

On February 5-9, 2024, the Gyeongbuk Office of Education – in South Korea’s North Gyeongsang Province – will mount a series of inspections at schools where asbestos eradication work is being carried out during the winter school holidays. The purpose of these inspections is to ensure that workers and members of the public are not exposed to asbestos during removal work on school buildings. Visits will be made to 8 out of 100 sites where removal work is ongoing. See: 경북교육, 꼼꼼한 석면 공사 현장 관리 실시 [Gyeongbuk Education, Meticulous Asbestos Construction Site Management].
 

New Asbestos Trade Data

Feb 2, 2024

Asbestos trade data was uploaded on January 31, 2024 to the website of the United States Geological Survey (USGS) which showed that global asbestos consumption for 2023 (1.3 million tonnes/mt) was slightly less than for 2022 (1.33 mt). “Global demand,” the two-page briefing sheet stated “demand for asbestos will likely continue for the foreseeable future, particularly for use in cement pipe, roofing sheets, and other construction materials in Asia.” It was estimated that 100 tonnes of asbestos were used in the US in 2023, most of which came from stockpiles. No asbestos was imported to the US between January and September 2023. See: Asbestos Fact Sheet on USGS website.
 

Transitioning to Asbestos-Free Technology

Feb 2, 2024

Last year, representatives of 14 member nations – Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Fiji, India, Indonesia, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam – of the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity (IPEF) signed a historic document committing them to work together to “prevent asbestos-related diseases and to promote transition from the use of asbestos to safer alternative products.” According to the IPEF website, one of the key objectives of the framework’s worker-centered trade agenda is to increase “regional and global labor and environmental standards.” The new IPEF consensus on asbestos is pivotal as the vast majority of annual asbestos consumption takes place in Asian countries. See: Blow to asbestos in Asia Pacific countries.
 

Asbestos Dichotomy in Alatau

Feb 2, 2024

The article cited below highlighted the government’s failure to deliver on development plans for a town called Alatau in southeastern Kazakhstan. Work on construction of the municipality was due to begin in 2009 and be completed in 2013. There is little evidence of how billions of tenges of public money was spent. Included in the schedule of works were three asbestos-cement projects to create 284 permanent jobs. The author of the article, who pointed out that the ILO and many national governments support an end to asbestos use, questioned the wisdom of investing in an outdated technology. See: Как проекты в новом казахстанском городе могут захлебнуться даже не начавшись [How projects in a new Kazakh city can be bogged down before they even begin].
 

Pesticides & Asbestos: Time to Act

Feb 2, 2024

A letter printed in the French newspaper: Le Monde, which was signed by 40 experts, warned that history would repeat itself should the country continue to ignore the hazards posed by human exposures to pesticides as it had done with asbestos. There were many similarities with the two dossiers including: the failure of the judiciary to hold decision-makers, businessmen and officials to account for their actions; avoidable deaths of untold numbers of citizens; and the role played by powerful industrial lobbies. See (subscription site): Pesticides: «Tirons du drame de l’amiante des leçons pour l’avenir» [Pesticides: “Let us draw lessons from the asbestos tragedy for the future”].
 

Victim’s Verdict against Nichias

Feb 2, 2024

More than five years after a lawsuit had been filed by an 80-year-old retired worker from the Nichias Hashima Asbestos Plant, on January 31, 2024 Chief Judge Atsuko Matsuda at the Gifu District Court ruled that the claimant had “contracted pneumoconiosis as a result of work such as manufacturing [asbestos] insulation materials at the Hashima factory.” As the company had not taken steps to protect its workers, it was ordered to pay 14.3 million yen (US$97,500) compensation to the plaintiff. See: アスベスト製品の仕事に従事し“じん肺” 慰謝料を請求した訴訟 原告勝訴の判決 岐阜地裁 [Lawsuit for compensation for “pneumoconiosis” caused by working with asbestos products].
 

Asbestos at Power Station

Feb 2, 2024

The Court of Rome ordered the owners of the Gualdo Cattaneo power plant – the Italian multinational Enel S.p.A., a manufacturer and distributor of electricity and gas – to pay compensation of €130,000 (US$141,000) to the family of Franco Galantin. Mr Galantin died from the asbestos cancer mesothelioma after having been exposed to asbestos whilst employed as a maintenance technician at the plant for 33 years. See: Amianto nella centrale umbra, Enel condannata per la morte di un operaio [Asbestos in the Umbrian power plant, Enel condemned for the death of a worker].
 

Asbestos Alert Issued for EU Workers

Jan 30, 2024

A letter sent today (January 30, 2024) by the European Trade Union Confederation to the European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen warned that “failure to deliver on a promise to improve protection from cancer-causing asbestos will have serious consequences for the health of people and democracy…” Among the facts cited in the letter were the following: 90,000 people in the EU die from asbestos-related cancer every year; between 4 and 7 million EU citizens are exposed to asbestos at work; as a result of renovations under the EU Green Deal, that number is expected to grow by 4% over the next decade. See: ‘Failure would compromise safety and erode trust’: Commission has four months to deliver asbestos promise.
 

NSW Asbestos Scandal SCOOP

Jan 30, 2024

An article in an Australian issue of The Guardian newspaper on January 28, 2024 detailed damning evidence regarding the failure of the New South Wales (NSW) environmental watchdog to take action on the use of contaminated soil at childcare centers, schools and parks, even though the authorities had knowledge about the hazard ten years ago, according to internal documents sourced from the Environment Protection Authority. The toxic product – known as “recovered fines” – “is a soil or sand substitute made from the processing of construction and demolition waste” which can contain unbonded asbestos fibers. See: Watchdog failed to act on contamination risk despite ‘damning’ asbestos findings.
 

Asbestos at the University

Jan 30, 2024

Last week, the principal of Uganda’s National Teachers College in Kabale told journalists that college administrators had appealed to the government for the urgent remediation of deteriorating asbestos-containing roofing still in place on several halls of residence on the college campus. As a result of the known risk of asbestos to human health, some students have sought alternative accommodation. According to the college principal Ms Annet Komunda, the Ministry of Education and Sports, the Ministry of Health and other agencies have been apprised of the situation. See: Students forced out of halls over asbestos roofs.
 

Mesothelioma Scheme Shutdown?

Jan 30, 2024

A press release issued on January 24, 2024 by the umbrella group (ANDEVA) representing asbestos victims’ groups throughout France strongly condemned a proposal by Public Health France (Santé Publique France) to shut down the national mesothelioma surveillance scheme due to budgetary constraints. For over 20 years, this scheme facilitated the gathering of data and knowledge about the occurrence of the signature cancer associated with asbestos exposure. There has been no consultation or public debate about this decision. ANDEVA urged the Minister of Health and Labor to provide the resources needed to ensure the survival of this scheme. See: ANDEVA Communiqués de presse [Press Release of ANDEVA, French Asbestos Victims Association]. (Received by email; no weblink at this time.)
 

Asbestos at Winnipeg Landfill

Jan 30, 2024

According to a new report – The Operational Planning Report – plans to locate the missing bodies of murdered First Nations women Morgan Harris and Marcedes Myran could cost $90 million, twice the original estimate. In addition to the excessive price, recovery workers could face a “very high risk” of asbestos exposure as the Winnipeg-area landfill site accepts asbestos waste. It was estimated that since May 16, 2022, when the bodies were buried on the site, 12 tonnes of asbestos-containing debris were deposited. See: Autochtones tuées:nouveaux détails des coûts et des risques pour fouiller le dépotoir [Indigenous people killed: new details of costs and risks of excavating the dump].
 

Asbestos in Water Delivery Networks

Jan 26, 2024

The hazard posed by the continued delivery of water via decaying asbestos-cement pipe networks in European countries was highlighted in the article cited below. As the pipes deteriorated, there was a possibility that asbestos fibers could get into the water; the ingestion of these fibers could cause colon, stomach and oesophageal cancers. Across EU member states, data on asbestos-cement (AC) pipes is patchy at best. In Denmark, there are 1,119 km of AC pipes, and drinking water is not routinely tested. In the UK, there are 37,000 km of AC pipes; 4.4% of pipes in Slovenia are made of AC but in some cities 30% of the water pipes were made of AC. See: A hidden threat: Asbestos fibres in our drinking water.
 

Asbestos Company Diversification

Jan 26, 2024

A subsidiary of Russia’s 2nd biggest asbestos conglomerate (Uralasbest) has embarked on the production of agricultural products made by processing asbestos mining waste. Twenty tons of dehumidifiers for animal bedding needed for breeding livestock and poultry on agricultural complexes and private farms will be produced every month for sale in Russia and export to Kazakhstan and Belarus. The same company also produces bath salts, sports magnesia, and transformer steel components made from processed asbestos waste. See: "Дочка" Ураласбеста запустила производство продукции для сельхозпредприятий [A subsidiary of Uralasbest launched the production of products for agricultural enterprises].
 

Shortlist for Asbestos Campaign

Jan 26, 2024

A series of articles in the Sunday Times has made the shortlist for the annual press awards 2023. The series, entitled Act on Asbestos, tackled various aspects of the UK’s multifaceted asbestos scandal, including articles on asbestos in schools, hospitals and shops and the poisoning of people who worked in or used them. The articles were part of a national campaign which called for a phased removal of asbestos from the national infrastructure. Other nominees in the category Campaign of the Year were: Clean It Up Campaign; Prigozhin and Lawfare; the Bruno and Dom project; Ticket Office Campaign; and Time for Action on Danger Dogs. See: Act Now on Asbestos.
 

Latest asbestos scandal in NSW

Jan 26, 2024

The discovery of bonded asbestos in recycled mulch used near a playground in Rozelle Parklands, Sydney, New South Wales (NSW) has caused a media storm which shows no evidence of ending any time soon. Since news of the initial toxic site was broadcast, other discoveries have been made at electrical substations and in landscaping at multiple sites bordering Sydney’s highways. The NSW Environmental Protection Agency is investigating. The authorities are trying to downplay the risk to the public posed by the presence of carcinogenic fibers illegally deposited in the city. See: How dangerous is the bonded asbestos found in mulch across Sydney?
 

Trade Union’s Asbestos Campaign

Jan 26, 2024

FETQUIM – Federação dos Trabalhadores do Ramo Químico da CUT do Estado de São Paulo [Federation of Chemical Workers of CUT of the State of São Paulo] – last week recommitted the union to the fight to ban asbestos in Brazil and protect workers and the public from hazardous exposures. FETQUIM Secretary of Health André H. Alves said: “This fight to ban asbestos belongs to all workers in Brazil. We cannot compromise and the health of workers comes first.” Alves cited the Supreme Court’s 2017 and 2023 decisions banning asbestos and highlighted the important work of the Brazilian Association of the asbestos-exposed in comments he made on January 24, 2024. See: FETQUIM permanece firme na luta contra o amianto [FETQUIM remains firm in the fight against asbestos].
 

Asbestos in Tap Water

Jan 26, 2024

The toxic legacy posed by the presence of deteriorating asbestos-cement (AC) pipes throughout the UK was the focus of the article cited below, the first of a two-part investigation to be continued in February with an article examining the global problem of asbestos waste. AC pipes installed before asbestos was banned in the UK in 1999 account for up to 27% of all pipes still used to deliver water; 23,000 miles of AC pipes were installed before 1988. Expressing concern about the continued use of these aging pipes, Professor Arthur Frank said: “The risk may not be great. But it is generally accepted that there is no safe level of exposure to asbestos.” See: Asbestos in drinking water: What does it mean for human health?
 

Asbestos and Cancer: Confirmation

Jan 24, 2024

A briefing on the International Agency for Research on Cancer website confirmed the consensus about the links between asbestos exposure and the occurrence of mesothelioma and lung cancer. The paper, on which this release was based [see: Cancer mortality in chrysotile miners and millers, Russian Federation: main results (Asbest Chrysotile Cohort-Study)], was funded by Russia’s Ministry of Health. The authors confirmed: “an increased risk of mesothelioma with high exposure to chrysotile fibers…[and] an increased mortality for lung cancer in men with increasing cumulative dust exposure. See: Cancer mortality in chrysotile miners and millers, Russian Federation: main results (Asbest Chrysotile Cohort Study).
 

No Justice for Asbestos Victims

Jan 24, 2024

Cancer lawsuits against the US company Georgia-Pacific (GP), owned by Koch Industries, remain in limbo thanks to a contentious legal stratagem – the “Texas two-step” – which allows solvent corporations to avoid paying claims by off-loading them to a bankrupt company. It has been estimated that there are 60,000 GP asbestos plaintiffs waiting for their day in court since all lawsuits were frozen in 2017 when GP underwent a financial reorganization which dumped the claims on a new company – Bestwall LLC – that was quickly put into bankruptcy. See: Families condemn Koch brothers over ploy to avoid asbestos compensation.
 

Shipyard Claims in Hokkaido

Jan 24, 2024

On January 17, 2024, two claimants filed a lawsuit at Sapporo District Court seeking a total of 28.6 million yen (US$193,175) in damages for asbestos exposures experienced at Japanese shipyards. The defendant was the government which, the plaintiffs argued, had failed to act in a timely fashion to protect workers who were involved in shipbuilding and ship maintenance from toxic exposures. Although there is a national asbestos injuries scheme, people who worked at the shipyards and family members are not eligible to lodge a claim. See: 船に関わる作業での石綿被害めぐり札幌で二次提訴 元作業員の男性ら [Secondary lawsuit filed by former workers in Sapporo over asbestos damage in work related to ships].
 

Abusing Asbestos Victims

Jan 24, 2024

On January 22, 2024, an amicus brief over the use by US corporations of the legal stratagem – nicknamed “the Texas two-step” – was submitted to the Supreme Court by Senators Dick Durbin (Illinois), Sheldon Whitehouse (Rhode Island), Josh Hawley (Missouri) and attorney-generals from 24 States, calling on the Court to reverse a 2023 appeal court decision freezing 64,000 asbestos lawsuits against Georgia-Pacific, a company worth tens of billions of dollars. See: Senators, states ask US Supreme Court to curb ‘two-step’ bankruptcy abuse.
 

Supporting Victims in Gwangju City

Jan 24, 2024

The sum of 1.8 billion won (US$1,350,335) has been allocated this year for asbestos relief benefits – to cover services such as medical and nursing care and funeral expenses – by the South Korea City of Gwangju for patients and bereaved families who have not received compensation for industrial injuries. In accordance with the Asbestos Damage Relief Act, Gwangju City has paid 2.66 billion won in asbestos relief benefits to 114 people over the past three years. It is anticipated that the 2024 allocation will cover payments to 50 claimants. See: 광주시, “석면피해 구제급여 신청하세요” [Gwangju City, “Apply for Asbestos Relief Benefits”].
 

Asbestos in Schools

Jan 24, 2024

Trade unionists in the departments of Lozère and Gard in the south of France joined the national campaign calling for asbestos removal at schools last year. Following the failure of the authorities in the cities of Alès and Nîmes to respond to the trade unionists’ enquiry sent in November 2023, the matter has now been referred to the Commission for Access to Administrative Documents to obtain copies of the Asbestos Technical Documents of schools and sports facilities which are public documents. See: Amiante en milieu scolaire: face à la non-réponse des municipalités, le syndicat Sud Gard-Lozère hausse le ton [Asbestos in schools: faced with the non-response of municipalities, the Sud Gard-Lozère union raises its voice].
 

Contentious Proposal by Asbestos Company

Jan 22, 2024

A proposal to compensate asbestos victims with company shares of the defendant which caused their injuries is under consideration by a Brazilian court overseeing the emergence of Eternit S.A. from judicial recovery. Under the scheme, plaintiffs who are awarded in excess of Reais R$250,000 (US$50,750) will be faced with just one realistic option: to receive the R$250,000 in 90 days with the rest being paid in company shares negotiated by the São Paulo Stock Exchange within one year. Alternatively, claimants would have to wait 8½ years to receive the cash value of their court-awarded compensation. See: Eternit propõe indenizar vítima do amianto com… ações da Eternit na Bolsa [Eternit proposes to compensate asbestos victims with… Eternit shares on the stock exchange].
 

Shipyard Asbestos Death

Jan 22, 2024

Last week, a court in Livorno, Italy ordered Fincantieri S.p.A – an Italian shipbuilding company – to pay compensation for the 2009 asbestos death of a worker who had been exposed to asbestos at the company’s shipyard in Livorno where he had worked for 37 years. The widow and daughter of the deceased were each awarded €350,000 (US$381,000). In addition, the widow will receive a survivor’s pension plus additional benefits from the Asbestos Victims’ Fund. See: Morto per l’esposizione all’amianto, Fincantieri condannata al maxi-risarcimento [Death from asbestos exposure, Fincantieri sentenced to maxi-compensation].
 

Victoria’s Toxic Failures

Jan 22, 2024

A failure to implement plans to establish eight asbestos landfill sites in the Australian state of Victoria has led to widespread fly-tipping according to a report by the Victorian Auditor-General, Andrew Greaves. Currently, 18 landfill sites in the State “accept asbestos waste, a number projected to decline by 2030. This potential reduction could lead to an alarming increase in illegal dumping due to the inconvenience of legally disposing of asbestos.” Work by Sustainability Victoria, which promised to create eight pilot sites within the first 16 months, has only led to three sites being established in three years. See: Victoria’s Asbestos Disposal Plan Collapses Amid Funding Rejections and Delays.
 

Asbestos Scandal in Toronto

Jan 22, 2024

Parents in Toronto were outraged that news of a report which found that asbestos was present in the Queen Alexandra Middle School took nearly a month to be shared by the Toronto District School Board (TDSB). On January 16, 2024, TDSB spokesperson Ryan Bird told journalists that samples received on December 22, 2023, indicated “a limited amount of asbestos in a group of rooms and lead in one room.” According to the authorities, the presence of asbestos at the school attended by 400+ students was “low risk” and “within acceptable limits.” See: TDSB defends how it responded to discovery of asbestos at middle school as parents say they weren't notified sooner.
 

Asbestos at Recycling Shipyards

Jan 22, 2024

A new report, entitled Ship Recycling in Turkey: Problems and Forward-Looking Targets, by a European NGO highlighted the ever-present asbestos hazard in the ship recycling sector in Turkish shipyards such as Aliağa, Izmir Province as part of a wider discussion on occupational health and safety issues. The commentary cited below presented an overview of evidence documenting the asbestos fallout from unsafe working practices, mentioning the infamous case of the Sao Paulo, an asbestos-contaminated Brazilian ship sent to Turkey for dismantling which, after a huge outcry, was returned and later sunk in Brazil. See: Gemi söküm raporu yayında: Aliağa’da arsenik ve kurşun kirliliği hat safhada [Online shipbreaking report: Arsenic and lead pollution on the line in Aliağa].
 

Procedural Hiccup in Bulembu

Jan 22, 2024

The cancelation of a licence for mining and rehabilitation of the Bulembu Mine, Swaziland may cost the owners, Salamander Magnesium, 90 million+ Swazi Emalangeni (US$4.7m). According to Salamander Magnesium’s CEO Lloyd Birrell: “The Bulembu tailings dumps comprise 28 million tonnes of residues from the historical mining operations of Turner and Newell at the Havelock Asbestos Mine. These dumps are un-rehabilitated and shall contain approximately 13 million tons of fine and ultra-fine chrysotile asbestos, posing a serious environmental hazard and health risk.” Salamander Magnesium’s plans included extracting asbestos and other minerals from the waste before rehabilitating the mine. See: E90M Might Be Lost in Bulembu Mine Licence Revocation.
 

Mesothelioma Treatment in Zhejiang

Jan 17, 2024

The case of mesothelioma patient Ms Liu was discussed in the article cited below which was about the increase in the occurrence of rare cancers in China. As a child, the patient had often visited her grandmother’s workplace which was an asbestos factory. Now in her 50s, this breast cancer survivor is receiving “standardized treatment” for pleural mesothelioma. The link between her exposure to asbestos and her cancer is highlighted by the author of the text. See: 罕见的肿瘤,罕见的医生 为什么有这么多患者? [Rare tumors, rare doctors Why are there so many patients?].
 

The Polluter Pays!

Jan 17, 2024

A press release issued on January 13, 2024 by the Flemish Environment Ministry announced that the construction company SVK – based in the city of Sint-Niklaas, in the Waasland region of Belgium – had been advised that it was being investigated over its liability for asbestos contamination in Flanders. According to Minister Zuhal Demir, SVK will have to undertake “specific remediation work” and cover the costs of the environmental damage caused. See: L'entreprise SVK à Saint-Nicolas mise en demeure pour sa propagation d'amiante [The SVK company in Sint-Niklaas has been given formal notice for its spread of asbestos].
 

Asbestosis: Causes and Symptoms

Jan 17, 2024

The causation of occupational pneumoconiosis was discussed in the Vietnamese article cited below which was uploaded on January 14. Among the cohorts of workers at high risk were: “people exposed to asbestos and toxic chemicals.” “Today,” wrote the author “the use of asbestos is increasing in many industries, so the number of people exposed to asbestos and the risk of disease are higher (production of tile, cement, refractory bricks, insulation, car brake pads, mining...).” Symptoms of the disease were: shortness of breath on exertion, later continuous shortness of breath, chest tightness, cough and expectoration. See: Làm nghề nào dễ mắc bệnh bụi phổi? [Which professions are prone to pneumoconiosis?].
 

The Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake

Jan 17, 2024

Almost 30 years after the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake, staff from the Hyogo Occupational Safety and Health Center are holding telephone consultation sessions for people with concerns about asbestos exposures experienced during the disaster. Many asbestos diseases have long latency periods and it is possible that people exposed during the earthquake are now showing symptoms of disease. NGO workers answered the phone lines on January 15 & 16, 2024 from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. See: 阪神淡路大震災でのアスベスト被害を調査 電話相談を開催「何でも相談して」 [Investigating asbestos damage caused by the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake; in telephone consultation “Ask us anything”].
 

A Blot on the Landscape

Jan 17, 2024

Tenders are being processed from companies bidding to undertake the demolition of the Canari asbestos factory in Corsica which is intended to begin in October 2025 and be concluded by May 2026; a decision on the service provider is expected in January, 2024. The project is complicated not only by the geographical position of the plant on a steep hillside but also by the extensive asbestos contamination of the building and surrounding landscape. The factory closed in 1965 and is considered not only a health risk but also an eyesore by many Corsicans. One thousand and four hundred people worked at this building from the time it opened in 1926 until its closure. See: L'usine d'amiante de Canari sera démolie en 2025 [The Canari asbestos plant will be demolished in 2025].
 

Asbestos Awareness Outreach Program

Jan 17, 2024

On January 15, 2024, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) – the public body tasked with ensuring workplace health, safety and welfare in the UK – announced a new campaign entitled Asbestos: Your Duty “to improve understanding of what the legal duty to manage asbestos involves.” Commenting on the initiative, the HSE’s chief executive Sarah Albon said: “To keep people safe from the harms of asbestos, a culture of safely managing asbestos is needed in our building industry and among those responsible for buildings.” See: Keep people safe from future dangers of asbestos, regulator warns.
 

Protests over New Decree

Jan 16, 2024

Last week, news was circulated about a December 5, 2023 Italian Ministerial decree which amended national regulations and in so doing allocated €20 million (US$22m) to reimburse companies ordered to pay compensation to victims of occupational asbestos exposures. There was a huge outpouring of anger from asbestos victims, NGOs and trade unionists over the generosity to solvent companies which had been found guilty of breaking the law. See: Amianto, beffa per le vittime: il fondo risarcirà anche i colpevoli [Asbestos, mockery of victims: fund will also compensate the guilty].
 

Updating Asbestos Regs

Jan 16, 2024

The commentary cited below reviewed current and amended European Union (EU) asbestos legislation in light of the adoption of a November 2023 directive, the purpose of which was to reduce workplace asbestos exposures. According to the new EU asbestos protocol: direct, indirect and secondary asbestos exposures must be prevented; allowances for low-intensity or sporadic workplace exposures were no longer acceptable; exposure limits were tightened and improved measurement methods were stipulated; additional obligations for employers to protect workers and members of the public were imposed. See: Occupational asbestos exposure: new rules from the EU.
 

Asbestos Hazard in the Military

Jan 16, 2024

Extracts of texts from documents obtained by Associated Press were quoted in the article cited below which highlighted asbestos exposures experienced by USA military personnel at three nuclear missile bases. The hazard of occupational exposures to chrysotile (white) asbestos was downplayed in official reports despite the ubiquity of the substance on the bases. A serviceman from the Malmstrom base wrote in a complaint he submitted to the Inspector General that missile workers “routinely removed, handled and replaced these (asbestos floor) tiles as part of required survival equipment inventories.” See: The Air Force said its nuclear missile capsules were safe. But toxic dangers lurked, documents show.
 

Victim’s Verdict in Rome

Jan 16, 2024

The widow of Gian Piero Defendini, who died of pleural mesothelioma due to asbestos exposures as an activity officer in telephone exchanges and radio networks in the capital city whilst employed by Telecom Italy, was awarded a survivor’s pension by a Court in Rome. The pension, which was backdated, will be paid by Italy’s National Institute for Insurance against Accidents at Work which had rejected the claim. According to the verdict: “Workers involved in the installation and maintenance of telephone lines could be [toxically] exposed due to the presence of asbestos-containing materials inside the conduits for laying telephone cables…” See: Amianto killer sui fili del telefono: il tribunale di Roma condonna INAIL [Killer asbestos on telephone wires: Rome court condemns INAIL].
 

Deal Reached for Asbestos Victims: Finally!

Jan 16, 2024

On December 21, 2023, a long-standing legal battle ended when an agreement worth $150 million was reached at a Texas bankruptcy court to settle asbestos lawsuits initiated by workers and family victims arising over injuries caused by asbestos exposures at the St. Croix refinery owned by the Hess Corporation in the US Virgin Islands. Within 10 days, the company agreed to place $105 million into a trust for 910 claimants, with the balance of the money being put aside for future claims. The first 400 cases were filed in 1997/98; many of the plaintiffs have died while the case has been litigated. See: Hess Corp. Settles St. Croix Asbestos Lawsuit for $150 Million.
 

Asbestos Eradication in Schools

Jan 16, 2024

On January 11, 2024, the Provincial Office of Education in Gyeonggi, South Korea announced that it would set up an inspection team to oversee progress and compliance with regulations during asbestos dismantling and removal work at schools during the winter vacation. The inspectors will monitor work at 191 schools: 72 elementary and 50 middle schools, 2 special and 67 high schools. When this phase of the removal program is completed, nearly 70% of the schools in the area will be asbestos-free. See: 경기도교육청, 겨울방학 기간 학교 석면 현장 점검 [Gyeonggi Provincial Office of Education, on-site inspection of asbestos in schools during winter vacation].
 

Plea to Ban Asbestos at Schools

Jan 11, 2024

India’s National Green Tribunal (NGT) received a petition from the Environment Ministry warning of the potential hazard posed by the presence of deteriorating asbestos-containing material in schools; liberated fibers “can enter air, water, and soil from the weathering, renovation, or demolition of manufactured asbestos products. People are likely to be exposed to asbestos through inhalation of airborne fibres,” said the brief. The petitioner cited a Nature Scientific Report, a World Health Organization report and a 2009 order approved by the Kerala State Human Rights Commission to outlaw the use of asbestos sheets. See: Report to NGT highlights adverse effects of asbestos sheets on human health.
 

Johnson & Johnson: Update

Jan 11, 2024

On January 8, 2024, Forbes reported that Johnson & Johnson (J&J) had signed a $700 million agreement with the Attorney Generals of 40 US States to resolve claims arising from J&J’s marketing of talc-based baby powder and its failure to warn customers about the cancer risk. The company faces more than 50,000 personal injury claims from cancer patients who allege their diseases were caused by exposure to asbestos fibers contained in the talc used to make J&J’s iconic baby powder. See: Johnson & Johnson Will Pay $700 Million To Resolve Baby Powder Marketing Probe, Report Says.
 

Europe’s Asbestos Catastrophe

Jan 11, 2024

According to Eurostat – a department of the European Commission tasked with providing statistical information to the EU institutions – between 2013 and 2021, 33,712 cases of occupational cancer were recognized of which there were 13,944 cases of lung cancer and 13,530 cases of mesothelioma, the signature cancer associated with asbestos exposure. Between them, these two categories accounted for 80% of the total number of occupational cancers reported. See: 33,712 cases of occupational cancer have been recognised in the EU between 2013 and 2021.
 

Asbestos Eradication Pilot Project

Jan 11, 2024

The Provincial Government of Quebec – formerly the heartland of Canadian asbestos production – announced this month that for the first time a program to decontaminate an asbestos mining site would be undertaken. The sum of $6 million has been allocated on the initial assessment phase of the project which will be undertaken by employees of the Sables Olimag company at the former Frontenac chrysotile (white) asbestos mine, East Broughton in Chaudière-Appalaches during 2024-25. See: 6 M$ pour amorcer la restauration de l’ancienne mine Frontenac [$6 million to begin the restoration of the old Frontenac mine].
 

Asbestos at the Playground

Jan 11, 2024

Samples of soil taken from Rozelle parklands – a new public space built in Sydney, Australia – revealed the presence of asbestos fibers. It was believed that the contamination had been caused by the use of asbestos-containing mulch. The park was closed by government order three weeks after it had been opened and decontamination experts were brought to the site to assess the situation. State officials are conducting an “urgent audit” to ascertain where else in New South Wales the toxic mulch was used. See: Mulch containing asbestos found at Rozelle parklands may have been used at other Sydney sites.
 

Asbestos at the Bank

Jan 11, 2024

A former employee of the Midland Bank, Nottingham, who was exposed to asbestos in her workplace during the 1970s, was awarded £900,000 (US$1.15m) when her ex-employer HSBC admitted liability. According to the claimant, she had “been responsible for carrying out the daily filing in the loft area, using cabinets that had been lined with asbestos fireproof boarding and which had been difficult to open…The pipes I would often sit on to carry out my work were also lagged with asbestos so when I was diagnosed [with mesothelioma] I knew straight away where I had been exposed. I just didn’t know at 17 years old what the consequences would be.” See: Former Nottingham bank worker wins £900,000 payout after cancer caused by exposure to asbestos.
 

New Hubs Expedite Asbestos Shipments

Jan 9, 2024

The article cited below confirmed the opening of new transport routes for shipping Chinese exports, including asbestos fiber, from northwest China to Indonesia. Eighty percent of China’s asbestos fiber production comes from Gansu Province, on the edge of the Gobi Desert. In the past, the long distances involved and the high shipping costs incurred hampered the development of the asbestos industry; the new logistics will allow foreign markets to be better served by Chinese asbestos suppliers. See: 首条“敦煌-青岛港”石棉海铁联运专列成功发运! [The first "Dunhuang-Qingdao Port" asbestos sea–rail intermodal special train [cargo] was successfully shipped!].
 

Embracing a Post-Asbestos Future

Jan 10, 2024

Fundocentro – a public institution tasked with promoting occupational health which operates under the auspices of the Brazilian Ministry of Economy – issued a publication outlining the challenges posed to workers by asbestos-containing material incorporated within the national infrastructure. The text in the booklet included information about asbestos and the diseases which can be caused by asbestos exposures; measures for preventing workplace exposures were recommended based on decades of experience in Italy, which banned asbestos in 1992. See: Fundacentro lança cartilhas sobre desamiantagem [Fundacentro launches booklet on asbestos eradication].
 

Asbestos Hazard in Domestic Insulation

Jan 10, 2024

By edict or tradition, the Russian media has been slow to publish negative information about chrysotile (white) asbestos; Russia, is by far, the world’s biggest producer of chrysotile and the industry lobby has close connections to the government. However, the article cited below, which discussed the human health hazard posed by some types of domestic insulation products, warned homeowners about asbestos insulation saying: “asbestos is now known for its association with the development of cancers of the lungs, pleura, and other organs…” See: Ученые отмечают, что материалы для утепления домов могут вызывать рак [Scientists note that materials for insulation of houses can cause cancer].
 

Victim’s Verdict in Emilia-Romagna

Jan 10, 2024

A Court in Parma, Italy issued a victim’s verdict for the widow of a soldier from Rovigo Province who died in 2018 from pleural mesothelioma, the signature cancer associated with exposure to asbestos. The claimant was awarded a lump sum of €400,000 (US$438,000) along with a lifetime pension. The Ministries of Defence and Interior were held liable for failing to protect the deceased – who had maintained and repaired amphibious tanks –from toxic exposures during his service in the Army. See: Amianto, condannati i ministeri della Difesa e dell'Interno per la morte di un militare polesano [Asbestos, the Ministries of Defense and the Interior condemned for the death of a Polesine soldier].
 

Asbestos-Cement: Updated Research

Jan 10, 2024

Citing a research paper published in November, 2023, the author of the article cited below which was uploaded on January 5, 2024 reported the alarming finding that: “Airborne fibers released from asbestos cement exceed the permissible level by 50 times.” Considering that asbestos-cement products account for the majority of material still being manufactured with asbestos, this finding is of serious concern not only to people in the USA where the research was done, but to people in every country where asbestos material has been used. See: “Alarming” Findings: Current Uses of Asbestos Exceed Exposure Limits.
 

Opposition to New Landfill

Jan 10, 2024

Residents of the commune of Villafranca di Verona in northeastern Italy are mobilizing over plans to build a landfill for hazardous material. The anti-landfill committee issued an invitation calling for local people to attend a public meeting on January 11. According to the invitation, the landfill – with an estimated capacity of about 900,000 cubic meters for 280 types of special waste including asbestos – “is a threat that involves the entire area.” Opposition to this proposal has already been expressed by environmental authorities as well as nearly all the municipalities affected. See: Villafranca si mobilita contro la discarica di amianto a Ca’ Balestra [Villafranca mobilizes against the asbestos landfill at Ca’ Balestra].
 

Déjà Vu

Jan 5, 2024

The Raymond Croze – a ship belonging to the French State Telecom Company which was sent to Turkey for dismantling – has been a source of concern since its arrival in İzmir Province last year. Local people, politicians and campaigners, remember the international furore caused by plans to dispose of the Brazilian ship, the São Paulo, in Aliağa two years ago. One of the problems with both ships was the presence of asbestos-containing material onboard. After the Turkish authorities rescinded permission for the São Paulo to land, it was sent back to Brazil. After wandering aimlessly off the coast for many months, it was finally sunk by the Brazilian Navy. See: Aliağa'da bitmeyen sorun, 'Raymond Croze' asbestli mi? [The never-ending problem in Aliağa: Does 'Raymond Croze' contain asbestos?].
 

Legal Victory for Train Driver

Jan 5, 2024

A landmark decision by Rome’s Court of Appeal has increased access to compensation for asbestos-injured employees of ATAC S.p.A., a publicly owned Italian company which runs Rome’s public transport system. The Court ordered Italy’s National Institute for Social Security (INPS) to recognize the claim for early retirement brought by Giancarlo Musilli, a former ATAC train driver, who suffers from pleural plaques and pulmonary fibrosis caused by workplace asbestos exposures. See: Caso Musilli in ATAC, dipendente esposto all’amianto vince causa contro l’INPS per il prepensionamento [Musilli ATAC case, employee exposed to asbestos wins lawsuit against INPS for early retirement].
 

Asbestos Removal in Schools

Jan 5, 2024

On January 3, 2024, the Daegu Metropolitan Office of Education announced that it was on track to eradicate the asbestos hazard in all its schools by the end of this year. This is two years ahead of the deadline set by the Korea’s Ministry of Education. The budget for asbestos removal and remediation work for the 2024 winter vacation set by the authorities in Daegu – a city in North Gyeongsang Province, South Korea – is 26.3 million won (US$20,120); this is for work in 52 schools. See: 대구시교육청, 2025년까지 학교 석면 완전히 없앤다 [Daegu Metropolitan Office of Education to completely eliminate asbestos from schools by 2025].
 

J&J Update from New Jersey

Jan 5, 2024

On December 29, 2023, U.S. District Judge Zahid Quraishi in Trenton, New Jersey, allowed Johnson & Johnson (J&J) shareholders from Feb. 22, 2013, to Dec. 13, 2018, to pursue a class action accusing J&J “of fraudulently concealing how its talc products were contaminated by cancer-causing asbestos.” The company had presented arguments calling for the class period to be shortened by a year. Reacting to the verdict, corporate spokesman Erik Haas pledged that J&J would “continue to vigorously litigate cases that challenge the safety of our product or the accuracy of our public statements.” See: Judge certifies Johnson & Johnson shareholder class action over talc disclosures.
 

Ovarian Cancer & Asbestos

Jan 5, 2024

In a journal paper uploaded to PubMed – a free scientific and medical search engine – in December 2023, Italian researchers considered the association between asbestos exposure and ovarian cancer and questioned the occurrence of misdiagnoses of peritoneal mesothelioma as ovarian cancer. The co-authors found that in geographic areas “where the prevalence of asbestos exposure was very high… the burden of ovarian cancer due to asbestos exposure can go unnoticed…” See: Occupational asbestos exposure and ovarian cancer: updated systematic review.
 

Monetizing Asbestos Waste

Jan 3, 2024

It was announced in December 2023, that a contract had been struck allowing a mining company to reprocess vast quantities of asbestos waste to reclaim high-purity silica, magnesium oxide and iron oxide. Asbestos mining in China produces 4-5 million tons of asbestos tailings (mining waste) every year. It is believed that, to date, 400 million tons of this waste has been produced as a result of the mining of chrysotile (white) asbestos over a 65-year period. See: 变“包袱”为“财富” 青海创安矿业科技有限公司启动500万吨/年石棉尾矿综合利用项目并签署一期EPCO合同 [Turning “burden” into “wealth” Qinghai Chuang'an Mining Technology Co., Ltd. launched a 5 million tons/year asbestos tailings comprehensive utilization project and signed a phase I EPCO contract].
 

Stricter Asbestos Removal Regs in BC

Jan 3, 2023

As of January 1, 2024, asbestos removal contractors in British Colombia (BC) will be subject to a new regulatory regime which mandates that companies be licensed and that operatives undertake safety training. The new rules, which are overseen by WorkSafe, are the first of their kind in Canada, formerly one of the world’s largest asbestos producers. Despite a concerted effort to raise asbestos awareness in the province, WorkSafe said that it “has continued to find unacceptable levels of non-compliance when it comes to asbestos.” See: B.C. regulations for asbestos handling — a first in Canada — come into effect Jan. 1.
 

Rise in Occupational Deaths

Jan 3, 2024

Using data from 181 countries, which was sourced from international organizations, institutions and public websites, researchers at Finland’s Tampere University concluded that occupational mortality increased by 26% globally over a recent six-year period. According to the study’s authors: 2.9 million workers died from occupational injuries (320,000) and illnesses (2.6 million) in 2019 compared to 2.3 million in 2014; 843,000 of the 2019 deaths were due to work-related cancers. According to a journal paper published in November, 2023: “Globally, work-related diseases with a long latency period are increasing, while the number of occupational injuries has decreased.” See: Work-related deaths on the rise, global study shows.
 

Post-Asbestos Regime

Jan 3, 2024

The paper cited below explored some of the ramifications of the asbestos ban promulgated by a 2017 Supreme Court ruling for policy positions adopted by public companies in Brazil. The well-written text focused on issues relating to steps needed to decontaminate the built and natural environment after decades of asbestos mining, processing and consuming. Based on the Portuguese experience, it was suggested that the eradication of the asbestos hazard from schools be prioritized. See: O Banamiento do Amianto no Brasil e os Desafios para as Politicas Publicas em Desemiantagem [Brazil's Asbestos Ban and the Asbestos Removal Policy Challenges for Public Companies].
 

Verdict for Mesothelioma Widow

Jan 3, 2024

After a nine-day trial, a jury in Cook County, Illinois last month awarded $30 million to the widow of a man whose asbestos cancer death had been caused by childhood exposures to asbestos brought home on his father’s work clothes. The defendant, Bridgestone Firestone, had operated a tire manufacturing facility in Decatur where asbestos-containing talc had been used. Thomas Jackson died five weeks after being diagnosed with peritoneal mesothelioma; he was 64 years old. See: Illinois Jury Awards $30 Million Verdict In Mesothelioma Case Against Bridgestone Firestone.
 

Hospital Worker’s Asbestos Death: Ruling

Jan 3, 2024

A Labor Judge in Ancona, Italy awarded the wife and children of a deceased 81-year old hospital laundry worker €820,000 (US$900,000), after his former employers were found negligent of failing to prevent workplace exposures to asbestos contained in ironing boards, pipes and machinery. The man had worked at the hospital from 1982 to 1986; he died of pleural mesothelioma in 2017. See: Altre quattro sentenze. Lavorò all’ex Umberto I, stroncato dall’amianto. Risarcita la famiglia [Four more sentences. Worker at former Umberto I [hospital] destroyed by asbestos. Family reimbursed].
 

Victory for Livorno Family

Dec 22, 2023

A Court in Livorno, Italy this week handed down a guilty verdict against the employer of a 76-year old maintenance worker who died from asbestos-related lung cancer. The deceased had been employed by the shipbuilding giant Fincantieri at its Livorno plant for 21 years; his family was awarded €500,000 (US$550,000). It was, said the family’s lawyer “the umpteenth conviction against Fincantieri which, in addition to violating all safety measures, failed to inform the workers that this mineral [asbestos] was a killer, capable of causing death…” See: Operaio morì di cancro ai polmoni per l’amianto, Fincantieri condannata a oltre 500mila euro di risarcimento [Worker died of lung cancer due to asbestos, Fincantieri sentenced to over 500 thousand euros in compensation].
 

Increased Asbestos Protections 2024

Dec 22, 2023

On December 19, 2923, South Korea’s Ministry of Environment (MoE) signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Social Welfare Joint Fund Association to collaborate on efforts “to improve the housing environment and protect the health of the vulnerable.” Under this project, work will proceed in 2024 on the eradication of asbestos from buildings used by children and vulnerable people. A MoE spokesperson also announced plans to revise the Enforcement Decree of the Asbestos Safety Management Act to “further strengthen asbestos safety management by designating local children's centers as statutory management facilities.” See: 취약계층 주거환경 개선사업 확대 [Expansion of Housing Environment Improvement Projects for the Vulnerable].
 

Victims Demand Justice

Dec 22, 2023

A demonstration took place by asbestos victims and campaigners in the Nord-Pas de Calais region of Northern France on December 15, 2023 demanding a criminal trial of the decision-makers and officials whose failures to act allowed the use of asbestos to poison generations of workers. Speaking in front of the Dunkirk Court, spokesperson Pierre Pluta said “We do not expect, do not want, do not demand that heads be cut off, that would not make sense. But we need a public debate.” According to data from Public Health France, asbestos-related diseases have killed between 120,000 and 180,000 people in France. See: "Nos empoisonneurs doivent être jugés": les victimes de l’amiante réclament toujours un procès pour obtenir justice [“Our poisoners must be judged”: asbestos victims are still demanding a trial to obtain justice].
 

Mesothelioma Research: Patients & Carers

Dec 22, 2023

The results of a project undertaken by researchers at the University of Sheffield and funded by Mesothelioma UK were published this month, The 20-page report shed a much-needed light on “how mesothelioma impacts on the mental health and wellbeing of patients and their informal Carers…” The authors delineated actionable tools and highlighted gaps “in the existing evidence where future research could benefit patients and their informal carers who are living with mesothelioma.” See: The Mental Health Implications of a Mesothelioma Diagnosis and Developing Resources to Optimise Wellbeing Study.
 

Ship Recycling: New Report

Dec 22, 2023

A report was published on December 20, 2023 by the NGO Shipbreaking Platform highlighting the hazardous conditions which persist at Turkish shipbreaking beaches such as the one in Aliağa where workers as well as members of the local community are exposed to asbestos and other toxic substances. Recommendations made by the authors of the report included suggestions to the Ministries of Environment, Labour and Transport which would bring needed change to the country’s ship recycling industry. Supporting the need for reform, campaigner Asli Odman said: “it is crucial to address both labour and environmental concerns in a comprehensive manner.” See: Ship recycling in Aliağa under the spotlight.
 

Asbestos Anxiety Judgment

Dec 22, 2023

On December 7, 2023, the Dunkirk Labor Court ruled that 140 former employees from a steel factory in Dunes, France owned by the Ascométal company should be compensated for anxiety caused by historic workplace exposures to asbestos. Each claimant will receive between €8,000 and €10,000 ($US11,000). The local asbestos victims group – the Association for the Defence of Asbestos Victims on the Dunkirk Coast – said this verdict was “unprecedented in its scale and ruling.” See: Au moins 140 salariés d'Ascométal vont être indemnisés pour préjudice d'anxiété lié à l'amiante [At least 140 Ascométal employees to be compensated for asbestos-related anxiety damage].
 

Asbestos in Kitui County

Dec 18, 2023

The threat posed by the presence of asbestos roofing on hospitals in the Kitui County, Kenya was highlighted on December 12, 2023 in a press statement released by Erastus Musyoka Mbuno, a member of the Kitui County Assembly. Mbuno called for the rapid removal of this asbestos material due to the fact that exposures to asbestos can cause cancer. “Ikanga Level 4 hospital,” he said “is roofed with asbestos sheets that are carcinogenic thus most likely having a bearing on the high cancer rate in the lower regions of Kitui South Subcounty.” See: MCA raises concern over carcinogenic asbestos roofing in Kitui hospitals.
 

Compensation for Railway Worker

Dec 18, 2023

INAIL – Italy’s National Institute for Insurance against Accidents at Work – was ordered by the Court of Naples to pay former railway worker Segio Mattera compensation of €1,000 a month with a backdated lump sum payment of €100,000 (US$109,000). Mattera contracted colon cancer after experiencing workplace exposures to asbestos as a train driver for the Italian State Railways over a career lasting more than 35 years. See: Amianto, ferroviere napoletano risarcito con 100mila euro dall'Inail [Asbestos, Neapolitan railway worker compensated with 100 thousand euros by INAIL].
 

New Government Data

Dec 18, 2023

On December 13, 2023, a spokesperson for Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare announced that 1,140 people were certified in 2022 with asbestos-related occupational diseases. It was predicted that 1,000 such cases will be recognized annually for the foreseeable future. The total number of occupational asbestos-related claims recognized by this scheme is 20,643. Despite the availability of government benefits for some asbestos victims, litigation continues on behalf of others who are ineligible to bring claims under the current system. See: アスベスト労災認定、昨年度は1140人 今後も同水準続く見込み [1,140 people were certified for asbestos work-related injuries last year; the same level is expected to continue in the future].
 

Propaganda: Same Old, Same Old

Dec 18, 2023

The article cited below contrasted the dichotomy which exists in Russia and the rest of the world about asbestos. While asbestos is considered by Russians to be a precious natural resource – having been recognized in December 2023 as “Heritage of the Middle Urals” — just about everywhere else the word strikes fear over the litany of cancers and diseases which asbestos exposures cause. Disparaging international asbestos “hysteria,” the author boasted that Russia was a world leader in the mining and sale of asbestos, “exporting [asbestos] fiber and building materials to almost half of the globe.” See: Маркетинговые войны XXI века: один кейс из жизни глобального бизнеса [Marketing Wars of the 21st Century: One Case Study from the Life of Global Business].
 

Asbestos Hazard in Housing

Dec 18, 2023

The hazard posed by living with asbestos-containing material incorporated into Vietnamese homes was highlighted in the article cited below. The use of amphibole asbestos material was banned in Vietnam because of the risk to health; workplace and environmental exposures to amphibole asbestos can cause respiratory diseases and cancer. Products containing amphibole asbestos incorporated within buildings should be carefully removed. See: Nhận diện tác hại các hóa chất vượt chuẩn quy định Bộ Xây dựng [Identification of harmful effects of chemicals exceeding standards prescribed by the Ministry of Construction].
 

Prosecution over Asbestos Negligence

Dec 18, 2023

New Zealand Judge Tony Zohrab condemned Sealord – NZ’s largest seafood company – for failing to protect two crew members on its 1970s-built ship the Will Watch from exposures to asbestos during a 2021 fishing trip in the southern Indian Ocean. Four out of 22 samples taken from around the ship tested positive for asbestos. The company was fined $257,250 (US$160,000) in the Nelson District Court and ordered to pay $3,000 in “emotional harm reparation” to each of the claimants; Sealord was also found liable for legal costs of $30,000. See: Fishing company Sealord fined $257,000 after crew exposed to asbestos.
 

Asbestos Hazard During Wartime

Dec 12, 2023

According to the article cited below which was uploaded on December 12, 2023: “Russian shelling has triggered millions of tons of asbestos to be released, forming heaps of contaminated rubble – a cause for concern given that an estimated 70% of Ukrainian buildings contain asbestos.” With so much destruction caused by the bombing, it makes sense to recycle as much waste as possible. Decontamination recycling projects – such as one undertaken by, Neo-Eco in Hostomel, a city north of Kyiv  – are ongoing. separating asbestos from other rubble as part of efforts to progress a “'green reconstruction” of Ukraine. See: Could recycling rubble contaminated with asbestos be dangerous for Ukrainians?
 

Asbestos Eradication in Ulsan

Dec 12, 2023

On December 8, 2023, the Department of Education of Ulsan City – the seventh-largest City in South Korea – announced it was spending 13 billion won (US$10m) during the upcoming winter school vacation to remove asbestos from 7 elementary schools, 5 middle schools, and 5 high schools; a total of 72,511m² of asbestos will be removed. On December 4, Ulsan officials conducted training sessions for 100 members of the asbestos monitoring group – including faculty, staff and parents from the 17 schools – who will be involved in oversight of the new phase of the decontamination work. See: 울산시교육청 겨울방학 중 17개교 석면제거…내년 완료 [Ulsan Metropolitan Office of Education removes asbestos from 17 schools during winter vacation... completed next year].
 

Crime & Punishment

Dec 12, 2023

As a result of legal action taken by the Attorney General of Michigan Dana Nessel against contractors who had been accused of mishandling asbestos during demolition work, Metropolitan Environmental, LLC and its owner Lamar Grace, were found liable for “operating an illegal dump in Southfield and storing asbestos and other hazardous waste there.” Both defendants were ordered to pay $125,000. Commenting on this case, AG Nessel said: “Environmental laws protect Michiganders from exposure to dangerous air pollution and hazardous waste.” See: Attorney General Nessel takes action against contractors accused of mishandling asbestos.
 

Occupational Illness in UP

Dec 12, 2023

The legacy of dangerous working conditions has created a high incidence of disease amongst former and current asbestos factory workers in Uttar Pradesh (UP), India where the facility belonging to the U.P. Asbestos Ltd. Co. has been operational since 1973. Former employees, like 68 year old Shatrughan Singh (68 years old) who had worked in the factory from 1975 to 2009, are now suffering from ill health, and there is currently no trade union to represent them. See: Slow Death of Asbestos Factory Workers in UP – a Ground Report.
 

History of Grassroots Mobilization

Dec 12, 2023

The article cited below by Tom White marked the 40th anniversary of a historic meeting which took place in Nottingham at which community organizers were joined by trade unionists, social housing tenants and campaigners to discuss the environmental hazard posed by the continuing use of asbestos in the UK; the conference was entitled: Raising the Dust. At the culmination of the day’s discussions, a working party was formed which would become the People’s Asbestos Action Campaign. Summing up his discussion about the significance of this meeting, White noted: “Forty years on from the first national tenants’ and trades union conference, the asbestos disaster is far from over.” See: Asbestos, Killer Dust.
 

Asbestos in Gyeonggi’s Schools

Dec 12, 2023

During a December 6 meeting of the Gyeonggi Provincial Assembly's Budget Committee, Rep. Lee Oh-su warned that “the mismanagement of asbestos removal work by the Gyeonggi-do Office of Education” threatened the health of students and teachers. The deadline set by the Gyeonggi Provincial Office of Education for the eradication of asbestos from all its schools is 2026. Rep. Lee Oh-su was worried that a lack of funding would result in failure by Gyeonggi to meet this target. See: 이오수 경기도의원, 학생 및 교원 안전 위협하는 경기도 교육청의 석면 제거 공사 관리부실 지적 [Gyeonggi Provincial Assemblyman Lee Oh-su points out the Gyeonggi Provincial Office of Education's poor management of asbestos removal work, which threatens the safety of students and teachers].
 

Asbestos in Schools

Dec 8, 2023

A health alert was raised by a citizens’ group about the presence of asbestos in some private nursery schools in Gwangju City in the southwest of South Korea. According to a new press release, asbestos material was present in 17 out of 136 kindergartens; 1,878 children attend the affected schools, all of which are under private ownership. Commenting on this situation, a spokesperson for the Gwangju City Office of Education said: “Private kindergartens are private property, so there is no legal basis to support them, but for the safety of children, we will find ways to support them…” See: “광주 사립유치원 17곳 원아 석면 노출…대책 마련 시급” [“exposure to asbestos in 17 private kindergartens in Gwangjus... It is urgent to take countermeasures”].
 

Calls to Protect Firefighters

Dec 8, 2023

On December 1, 2023, the French trade union labor confederation (CGT) filed a complaint against X with the Paris judicial court. The lawsuit noted that firefighters were routinely exposed to carcinogens such as asbestos; even after the International Agency for Research on Cancer highlighted the asbestos risk to firefighters some months ago, no steps were taken to provide medical care such as was given to former asbestos workers – e.g. regular monitoring and thoracoabdominopelvic scans. See: Fumées toxiques, cancers... Les pompiers portent plainte pour mise en danger de la vie d'autrui [Toxic smoke, cancers ... Firefighters file complaint for endangering the lives of others].
 

Asbestos at the Laboratory

Dec 8, 2023

The Court of Rome condemned Italy’s National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Economic Development (ENEA) for failing to protect laboratory worker Federico B. from workplace asbestos exposures. The technician – who worked for ENEA for 34 years – died in May, 2017, aged 78, from mesothelioma, the signature cancer associated with exposure to asbestos. The Court awarded his family the sum of €49,319 (US$53,215). Additional lawsuits in this case are pending. See: Esposto all’amianto nei laboratori Enea, muore di mesotelioma: l’Agenzia condannata a risarcire i familiari Death from mesothelioma after exposure to asbestos in ENEA laboratories: Agency ordered to compensate family members].
 

Mesothelioma Incidence: Update

Dec 8, 2023

In November, 2023, the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) published a 20-page paper entitled Mesothelioma in Australia 2022 which reported that: 637 mesothelioma cases were diagnosed in Australia in 2021; the median age of patients at diagnosis was 77; mesothelioma survival rates have increased since 1990–1994; 708 mesothelioma deaths were recorded in 2021; up to 90% of those diagnosed, reported having experienced “possible or probable exposure to asbestos.” According to the AIHW, in the financial year 2019–20, “the estimated health system expenditure for mesothelioma cases was A$32.1 million (total cancers A$12.1 billion).” See: Mesothelioma in Australia 2022.
 

Johnson & Johnson New Litigation Strategy

Dec 8, 2023

Bloomberg News reported this week that Johnson & Johnson (J&J) has adopted a new strategy to avoid some of the upcoming trials resulting from an estimated 50,000 lawsuits over the presence of asbestos in J&J’s iconic talc-based baby powder. Three leading US law firms are reported to have settled cases with J&J under confidential agreements. The law firms named in the article cited below were: Kazan, McClain Satterley & Greenwood, Levy Konigsberg, and Motley Rice. J&J is expected to pursue a third bankruptcy filing to resolve the talc litigation in its entirety. See: J&J Is Pushing to Settle Baby Powder Cases Linked to Asbestos.
 

Asbestos on the Railway

Dec 8, 2023

The family of a deceased railway worker is requesting an investigation after their claim for his mesothelioma death in 2013 aged 87 was denied last month. He had worked for the Japan Railways and Transport Agency for 35 years and his death certificate acknowledged that his death had been caused by the asbestos cancer, mesothelioma. The deceased had inspected, dismantled and renovated rolling stock at the JNR Hatabu Factory and the Hakata General Rolling Stock Department, where he also removed asbestos-containing insulation materials. See: 死亡診断書に「中皮腫」、石綿作業35年 旧国鉄職員遺族に補償なし [‘Mesothelioma’ on death certificate, 35 years of asbestos work; no compensation for families of former JNR employees].
 

Asbestos Contamination in War Zone

Dec 5, 2023

During a press interview given by the Director General of the European Commission’s DG Environment Florika Fink-Hoojer – during the Ukraine Green Reconstruction Conference in Vilnius (November 28-December 1, 2023) – the EU official highlighted some of the problems posed by dealing with the vast amount of construction waste created by the Russian war on Ukraine. “This waste,” she said “cannot just be used in rebuilding again because of some legacy chemicals in destroyed buildings, like asbestos and others.” See: Asbestos in war debris waste poses long-term threat – head of DG Environment.
 

Victim’s Win in Historic Case

Dec 5, 2023

According to the Belgian Asbestos Victims Group, on November 27, 2023 a Brussels Court of first instance ruled that Eric Jonckheere had succeeded in his lawsuit to prove that the Belgian asbestos conglomerate Eternit had committed an “intentional fault.” The claimant, like his parents and two brothers, contracted the signature asbestos cancer, mesothelioma as a result of the company’s choosing “to continue without further ado its risk-generating – and of course very lucrative – behavior… The probability of various asbestos cancers appearing over time in the population in question was so high that it had to be qualified as an almost certain ‘risk’.” See: Cancer de l’amiante: un jugement qualifié d’historique [Asbestos cancer: a judgment described as historic].
 

Asbestos Safeguards' Directive Adopted

Dec 5, 2023

On November 22, 2023, the EU Directive cited below was adopted; EU Member States have until December 20, 2025 to fully implement the provisions of the new regulations. The primary objective of the 13-page Directive is to increase safeguards to protect workers from asbestos exposures. Under the new protocol, the workplace asbestos control limit will be ten times lower than it is now. After 3 years, the level will be further reduced. See: Directive (EU) 2023/2668 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 November 2023 amending Directive 2009/148/EC on the protection of workers from the risks related to exposure to asbestos at work.
 

Naples Verdict for Shipbuilder

Dec 5, 2023

The family of a subcontractor from Castellammare di Stabia, Naples, who worked for Fincantieri S.p.A – an Italian shipbuilding company – for more than 30 years has been awarded €1.5 million (US$1.62m) for his 2016 death from the asbestos cancer, mesothelioma. The Court of Appeal of Naples confirmed that Fincantieri S.p.A. and Sait S.p.A. had been negligent in failing to protect the deceased from experiencing workplace asbestos exposures. See: Operaio morto per un tumore a causa dell’amianto: risarcimento da 1,5 milioni di euro alla famiglia [Worker who died from cancer caused by asbestos: 1.5 million euro compensation to the family].
 

Asbestos in Nursery School

Dec 5, 2023

The presence of asbestos was reported in the ceiling of Nanaura Nursery School in Niigata City by an electrician working there on October 24. When the presence of asbestos was confirmed, the children were relocated. Subsequently, plans were made for all municipal facilities where it was suspected that sprayed asbestos might have been used to be reinspected. According to a spokesperson for Niigata’s Environment Department: “We will visually check to make sure that there are no omissions, and if any suspicious sprayed materials are found, we will inspect them for asbestos.” See: 保育園の天井からアスベスト検出 新潟市、全市有施設を再調査へ [Asbestos detected in the ceiling of a nursery school. Niigata City to re-investigate all city-owned facilities].
 

Asbestos in the Navy

Dec 5, 2023

A commentary uploaded on the Federal News Network on November 30, 2023 highlighted the long-tail legacy of asbestos exposures experienced by US naval personnel. Throughout much of the 20th century, the use of asbestos-containing products was routine for all branches of the military. Navy service personnel, unfortunately, experienced “exceptionally” high exposures because they lived and worked close to this toxic material. Veterans were advised to get periodic health check-ups to catch early symptoms of asbestos-related diseases; the earlier the diseases were detected, the better the chances for successful treatment. See: Protecting those who protected us: Raising awareness of Navy veterans’ asbestos exposure.
 

Beijing Fight for Asbestos Compensation

Dec 1, 2023

The article cited below detailed the struggle by a daughter to obtain compensation from an employer for the asbestos death of her mother who had been recognized as an occupational disease victim. According to the family’s lawyer: “in addition to work-related injury insurance, employees also have the right to claim civil compensation from the employer…If the expenses beyond the scope of the reimbursement by the social security fund are borne by the worker, it is contrary to the current laws and regulations, and is a serious infringement of the rights of vulnerable workers.” See: 女子退休17年后被诊断为职业性肿瘤,起诉原单位索赔期间病逝 [The woman was diagnosed with an occupational tumor 17 years after her retirement and died while suing her former employer for compensation].
 

Calling for Rapid Asbestos Removal

Dec 1, 2023

A new report by Mesothelioma UK called for a 10-year program to remove asbestos from schools and hospitals. This program “would save the UK economy almost £12 billion over 50 years in the reduced economic and social costs of asbestos-related diseases. The savings to the UK public finances would be around £3.6 billion.” In the foreword to this report, MP Stephen Timms, Chair of the Work and Pensions Committee, wrote: “The Government and HSE should develop a strategic plan… [which would] focus on removing the highest risk asbestos first, and on early removal from the highest risk settings, such as schools and hospitals. The plan should integrate with… plans to upgrade buildings to meet net zero targets…” See: Clearing the Air: The costs and benefits of removing asbestos from UK schools and hospitals report.
 

Asbestos at Theme Park

Dec 1, 2023

At a press conference which took place in the Gangwon Province of South Korea on November 28, 2023, spokespersons for a broad-based coalition of environmental groups, including the Environmental Health Citizen's Center, announced that tremolite asbestos had been identified in six out of eight samples taken from more than 30 landscape stones at the Karst Geology Theme Park in the Korean Peninsula Myeon, Yeongwol-gun. A complaint was filed at the Yeongwol-gun Police Station. Asbestos use has been banned in South Korea since 2009. See: 영월군 공원 조경석에서 석면 검출 [Asbestos detected in landscaping stones at Yeongwol-gun Park
 

Mesothelioma Government Payouts: Update

Dec 1, 2023

Published on November 28, 2023, the annual report of the Diffuse Mesothelioma Payment Scheme – launched in the UK in 2014 to provide payments to people with diffuse mesothelioma (or their dependents) who were negligently exposed to asbestos at work but were unable to obtain compensation through the courts – revealed that between April 2022 and March 2023, 330 applications were received, 71% of which were successful. The total amount paid out during that period was £23.2 million. See: Diffuse Mesothelioma Payment Scheme annual statistics April 2014 to March 2023.
 

National Asbestos Observatory

Dec 1, 2023

Canada’s National Asbestos Observatory (NAO), set up in 2022 by the Quebec Government with an allocation of $2 million/yr, is based at a college in Thetford, a former asbestos mining town. It’s remit is “to inform and provide recommendations to decision-makers on the best actions to take with respect to asbestos and the management of asbestos mine tailings.” Marking the NAO’s 1st year, its Executive Director Annie Rochette said: “the asbestos tailings projects are going to take place here and we do not want to increase the risk, quite the contrary. We have a lot of work to do. The ultimate goal of this approach is the harmonious development of our territories.” See: Une première année fort occupée pour l’équipe de l’Observatoire national de l’amiante [A very busy first year for the National Asbestos Observatory team].
 

Early Retirement for Asbestos Workers

Dec 1, 2023

In Italy, people who worked with asbestos have a right to retire at an earlier age; under the government’s early-retirement scheme, eligible workers can receive pensions at 61 years and 7 months (62 years and 7 months if self-employed) if they have made at least 35 years of social security contributions and they were exposed to asbestos for at least 7 out of the last 10 years, 6 out of the last 7 years or for at least half of their working life. The size of the pension increases for those with a greater than ten-year duration of occupational asbestos exposures. Applications for early retirement must be submitted by May 1st of each year. See: Pensione per lavoratori esposti all’amianto, quale uscita anticipata spetta [Pensions for workers exposed to asbestos, what early exit is allowed].
 

Brasilia Asbestos Seminar

Nov 28, 2023.

On November 27, 2023, the Environment and Sustainable Development Committee of the Chamber of Deputies held a seminar in Brasilia to consider the risks still posed by asbestos to human health and the environment. In the audience addressed by campaigners and politicians as well as scientific and medical and experts were scores of asbestos victims, family members and supporters. The debate was proposed by Deputy Nilto Tatto, author of Bill 3684/23 which seeks to close “loopholes that still exist” in the mining, commercial exploitation and distribution of asbestos, all of which were banned by the Supreme Court in 2017. See: Comissão realiza seminário para discutir brechas na produção de amianto [Commission will hold seminar to discuss loopholes in asbestos production].
 

Asbestos Health Alert

Nov 28, 2023

During November, countries around the world mark Lung Cancer Month with initiatives to raise public awareness about lung cancer causation. The news article cited below warned that even Vietnamese citizens who did not smoke were at risk of contracting lung cancer. The text highlighted the dangers posed by working with asbestos, pointing out that occupational asbestos exposures could cause lung cancer as well as mesothelioma. The author also highlighted the risk to home renovators or DIY-ers who were exposed to asbestos during work in their homes. See: Những người này dù không hút thuốc cũng cực dễ bị ung thư phổi 'gõ cửa' [These people, even if they do not smoke, are extremely susceptible to lung cancer ‘knocking on the door’].
 

Asbestos Prosecutions on Track

Nov 28, 2023

During National Asbestos Awareness week, WorkSafeNZ confirmed that failures to comply with national asbestos regulations would result in court action being taken. Successful prosecutions this year included a conviction in October of Wilson Building Timaru Limited which had carried out the unlicensed removal of asbestos during building work without the proper authorization. Previously, Inspired Enterprises Limited had been fined for failing to have an asbestos management plan in place and for not warning the customer of the possibility of asbestos material on site. See: Asbestos prosecutions highlight room to improve – WorkSafe NZ.
 

Risk of Low-Level Exposures Recognized

Nov 28, 2023

A 37-page Command Paper (CP) presented to Parliament published by the Industrial Injuries Advisory Council (IIAC) in November 2023 recognized the hazard posed by low-level occupational exposures to asbestos. According to section 49 of the CP 964: “All asbestos exposures of sufficient extent and whatever their source are now equally included in the generic term ‘any job involving exposure to asbestos’.” Between 2010 and 2019, 80% of the 12,245 Industrial Injury Disablement Benefit awards were for asbestosis. See: Review and update of the prescription for Prescribed Disease D1 (Pneumoconiosis).
 

Olive Oil Samples Asbestos-Free

Nov 28, 2023

Research undertaken this year by civil society organizations in earthquake hit regions of Turkey showed asbestos contamination in the soil, water and air. Consumer confidence has been affected by this news and as a result demand for produce grown in earthquake zones has fallen. Samples of olive oil produced in three asbestos hotspots were analyzed by an accredited laboratory; no asbestos was found. The author of the article cited below concluded that: “Claims that asbestos in the earthquake zone contaminates food and poses a health risk are unfounded or overly exaggerated.” See: Does olive oil produced in quake-affected regions contain asbestos?
 

Funding Asbestos Compensation

Nov 28, 2023

On November 22, 2023, a consultation began on the measures needed to ensure that the Swiss National Accident Insurance Fund (SUVA) – a public-sector insurer – had adequate resources to pay compensation to current and future claimants who had contracted asbestos-related injuries and diseases due to workplace exposures. The SUVA Council proposed that as of January 1, 2026 surplus revenues left over from insurance premiums collected for occupational accidents and illnesses be made available to pay the asbestos-injured. See: La Suva doit pouvoir soutenir les victimes de l'amiante [SUVA must be able to support asbestos victims].
 

Global Asbestos Mortality: Update

Nov 27, 2023

A peer-reviewed paper entitled “Global-, regional- and country-level estimates of the work-related burden of diseases and accidents in 2019”, by researchers from Finland and Italy, was published in the Scandinavian Journal of Work, Environment & Health on November 12, 2023. After four years of research, the authors concluded that previous global estimates of asbestos mortality were too low: “a more realistic estimate of asbestos-related deaths could be of 289,621 in the workplace, and 304,841 when including environmental and semi-occupational causalities.” See: Global-, regional- and country-level estimates of the work-related burden of diseases and accidents in 2019.
 

Wittenoom’s Asbestos Legacy

Nov 27, 2023

A 13+ minute video uploaded to YouTube last week used imaginative graphics as well as archival footage to make manifest the deadly human consequences caused by operations at the Wittenoom Crocidolite (blue) Asbestos Mine. The video documented the stark reality of damage done not only to the people who lived and worked at the mine but also to the traditional owners of the land, the Banjima people. With 3 million tonnes of asbestos-contaminated mining waste dumped in local gorges and high airborne levels of asbestos fibers, the 46,000 hectares which make up the Wittenoom Asbestos Management Area “is the largest contaminated stretch of land in the southern hemisphere.” See: Australia's Secret Chernobyl.
 

Asbestos in Schools

Nov 27, 2023

The only Scottish council to have eradicated the asbestos hazard from its schools is South Lanarkshire. According to information collected by a Labor Member of the Scottish Parliament (MSP) Mark Griffin – via Freedom of Information requests – 1,360 out of 5,067 schools in Scotland still contain asbestos. Last year, asbestos material was removed from 274 Scottish school buildings. Asbestos is a red button topic in Scotland; generations of shipyard and factory workers died from asbestos-related diseases. MSP Griffin is campaigning for the establishment of a Scottish Employment Injuries Advisory Council. See: Quarter of Scottish schools contain 'terrifying' asbestos, warns Labour MSP.
 

Asbestos at California Jail

Nov 27, 2023

A whistleblower’s complaint by a California member of the American Federation of Government Employees trade union (AFGE) was upheld by the U.S. Office of Special Counsel who ruled that the management at the Federal Correctional Institution Dublin, California violated OSHA standards by exposing staff and inmates to asbestos and mold found throughout the prison. The AFGE’s Assistant General Counsel Ward Morrow called on: “Congress and its oversight committees to further investigate the failure by the Department of Justice and the Bureau of Prisons to provide full disclosure to the staff and inmates as to their exposure, as well as the need for proper medical surveillance.” See: Office of Special Counsel finds multiple OSHA violations at troubled federal prison.
 

Immunotherapy for Mesothelioma Patients

Nov 27, 2023

The report cited below provided an update on progress being made by Italian researchers and doctors in treating patients with mesothelioma, the signature cancer associated with asbestos exposures. Two thousand Italians are diagnosed with mesothelioma every year. The use of immunotherapy protocols has facilitated treatments that are able to prolong post-diagnoses survival as detailed in a paper published in The Lancet November 2023 which concluded that: “the addition of pembrolizumab to standard platinum–pemetrexed chemotherapy … resulted in a significant improvement in overall survival. This regimen is a new treatment option for previously untreated advanced pleural mesothelioma.” See: Tumors caused by asbestos, progress is finally being made with immunotherapy.
 

Protecting Workers from Toxic Exposures

Nov 27, 2023

On November 21, 2023, the Center for Disease Control of Ben Tre Province, in southern Vietnam organized a conference to improve the capacity to prevent occupational diseases. Asbestos was on the agenda as part of the discussion on the monitoring of workplaces using hazardous substances. Speakers explained mandatory requirements for occupational protections as well as the requirement to provide periodic health check-ups and medicals for at-risk workers. See: Hội Nghị Nâng Cao Năng Lực Phòng Chống Bệnh Nghề Nghiệp [Conference on capacity building for occupational disease prevention and control].
 

Rail Upgrade Speeds Asbestos Shipments

Nov 24, 2023

Streamlining and improvements on rail–sea links from China have increased the efficiency of transport links, thereby reducing the time taken for Chinese shipments of asbestos to reach markets in Thailand and Laos. On November 21, a train with 1,000+ tons of chrysotile asbestos in 44 containers left Dunhuang, Gansu Province; arriving by railway at the Chinese port of Tianjin Port, it was sent by ship to Bangkok. The scheduled delivery time for this cargo will be up to ten days less than previous modes of transport. As a result of this modernized system, asbestos exports from China are increasing. See: “敦煌-天津-曼谷”铁海联运石棉专列开行 [“Dunhuang-Tianjin-Bangkok” rail-sea intermodal asbestos special train launched].
 

Asbestos in Schools

Nov 24, 2023

In a 32-page report entitled “The condition of school buildings,” which was submitted on November 9, 2023 by the House of Commons Committee of Public Accounts, the 16 co-authors highlighted not only the problems posed by the presence of reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC) throughout the UK’s educational infrastructure but also the dangers posed to school users by the presence of aging asbestos-containing products. In the section “Incomplete knowledge on asbestos” on pages 14 & 15, multiple failures of the Department for Education to deal with the asbestos legacy in the school estate were considered. See: The condition of school buildings.
 

Victims’ Victory over J&J

Nov 24, 2023

It was reported on November 16, 2023, that the first two mesothelioma cases against Johnson & Johnson (J&J) to go to trial after a federal court had rejected the company’s latest bankruptcy plans had been settled. The claimants – Rosalino Reyes (deceased in 2020) and Marlin Eagles – alleged that their cancers had been caused by exposure to asbestos in J&J’s talc-based baby powder. J&J agreed to settle these as well as other claims being represented by the California law firm which had represented Reyes and Eagles: Kazan, McClain, Satterley & Greenwood. See: J&J settles first talc cases to go to trial after failed bankruptcies.
 

Grassroots Victims’ Support

Nov 24, 2023

On November 22 & 23, 2023, meetings organized by the Brazilian Association of the Asbestos-Exposed (ABREA) took place in Osasco and Capivari, cites in the Brazilian State of São Paulo. Asbestos victims and family members who attended these events were presented with copies of a new ABREA publication updating them on the legal and economic rights of people who had contracted asbestos-related diseases. The sessions were held at the local Chamber of Councillors and were attended by State Deputies as well as local politicians. Next week, ABREA members will travel to Brasilia to demonstrate in front of the Supreme Court over its failure to hand down a decision over an unconstitutional State law allowing asbestos mining to continue despite a Supreme Court asbestos ban.
 

Asbestos in the Shipbreaking Industry

Nov 24, 2023

Despite multinational treaties, regional agreements and national guidelines, the scrapping of ships undertaken in countries such as Bangladesh, India and Turkey is still being conducted without precautions being taken to prevent toxic asbestos exposures to workers and members of communities living in proximity to the shipbreaking yards. According to the author of the article cited below: “Activists are pushing the EU to increase oversight and ensure safer shipyard working conditions.” See: Stranded: Impact of asbestos in maritime industry.
 

Assessing the Hazard Posed by AC

Nov 24, 2023

A paper published by Perry Gottesfeld on November 9, 2023 in the Annals of Work Exposures and Health reviewed reports on asbestos levels created during the processing and use of asbestos-cement (AC) building products. The author highlighted the hazardous conditions created by the use of power saws when cutting AC products, finding that the vast majority of tasks undertaken with AC sheets and AC pipes exceeded US allowable limits. The author concluded that: “Intermittent high exposures from the ongoing use of AC products in countries around the world are associated with an increased lifetime risk of asbestos-related disease.” See: Exposure hazards from continuing use and removal of asbestos cement products.
 

Asbestos Alert in Halkidiki

Nov 20, 2023

Asbestos contamination remains a fact of life throughout Greece; the article cited below described the ubiquity of asbestos-containing material in the built environment in villages in Northern and Central Halkidiki in Northern Greece. The toxic presence of asbestos-cement roofing on homes, factories and public buildings was recently highlighted by the region’s MP Apostolos Panas in a speech in Parliament; Panas castigated the government for its long-standing failures to address the problem. “The problem is,” he said “intense and extensive throughout Halkidiki.” See: Χαλκιδική: Ζητούν να φύγει ο καρκινογόνος αμίαντος από σπίτια κι αποθήκες. Διαβάστε περισσότερα εδώ [Halkidiki: demand for the removal of carcinogenic asbestos from homes and warehouses].
 

Unions Mobilize over Asbestos Hazard

Nov 20, 2023

Following an October 2023 court verdict awarding €1,276,000 (US$1.4m) to the family of a firefighter from Calabria who died of mesothelioma contracted as a result of workplace exposures to asbestos, Italian trade union leaders called on the Government to undertake asbestos mapping of buildings as a matter of urgency to protect firefighters from future toxic exposures. In addition, the trade unionists asked that occupational disease claims by firefighters be fast-tracked in recognition of the high-risk nature of their work. See: Vigile del fuoco morto per l’amianto in tuta, i sindacati sollecitano interventi urgenti [Firefighter died from asbestos in overalls, unions urge urgent action].
 

Victim’s Verdict in Fukuoka

Nov 20, 2023

A lawsuit brought by bereaved relatives over an occupationally-caused death was settled last week at the Fukuoka District Court, Japan. From 1969, the deceased had worked for the Kyushu Electric Power Co. at four of its thermal power plants in the Fukuoka and Saga prefectures. He had been routinely exposed to asbestos at these workplaces and died aged 69 from mesothelioma, the signature cancer associated with asbestos exposures. Although the amount of the compensation payout was confidential, the family members had sought damages of ¥44.63 million (US$295,000). See: アスベスト訴訟、遺族と九州電力が和解 火力発電所で勤務 [Asbestos lawsuit, bereaved family of worker at thermal power plant settle with Kyushu Electric Power].
 

No Justice for Mario or Bianca

Nov 20, 2023

Naval engineer Mario Necci died aged 75 in 2020 from mesothelioma, having been exposed to asbestos from 1981 to 2013 whilst employed by the Transroll Navegação Company, based in the Brazilian City of Fortaleza. His widow Biana is yet to receive compensation. According to asbestos victims’ campaigner Fernanda Giannasi, although many cases have been settled for workers exposed to asbestos in the metallurgical or construction sectors, there have been few cases brought by workers from the maritime sector. “It is,” she said “difficult in Brazil to convince engineers or specialized workers to take legal action to obtain justice.” See: Vítima do cancerígeno amianto, o engenheiro naval Mario Necci ainda espera por justiça [Victim of the carcinogen asbestos, naval engineer Mario Necci still waits for justice].
 

Asbestos on the Agenda

Nov 20, 2023

A symposium entitled Deadly Dust: Silica and Asbestos is on the agenda of the 23rd World Congress on Safety and Health at Work – organized by the International Labor Organization, the International Social Security Association and their partners – which is being held in Sydney, Australia on November 27-30, 2023. The 90-minute symposium will feature international experts including: Gerd Albracht of the International Association of Labour Inspection and European Federation of Building and Woodworkers; Phillip Hazelton, Manager of the Eliminating Asbestos-Related Diseases Program of Australia’s Union Aid Abroad; and Simone Stevenson of the Victorian Asbestos Eradication Agency. See: Deadly Dust: Silica and Asbestos.
 

Public Hearing in Rio de Janeiro

Nov 20, 2023

A public hearing on asbestos was held on November 7, 2023 in the Legislative Assembly of the State of Rio de Janeiro; chairing the session was State Deputy Carlos Minc, author of the state’s asbestos ban. Representatives of stakeholders participating in this event included: Eliezer João de Souza, Maria Lúcia Nascimento Carmo and Fernanda Giannasi from the Association of the Asbestos-Exposed (ABREA), doctors Hermano Castro (Fiocruz) and Jefferson Pires de Freitas (São Paulo Heart Institute), Dr Luiz Tenório (Ministry of Health), Labor Attorney Daniela Elbert and others. See: Fundacentro participa de audiência pública sobre desamiantagem no Rio de Janeiro [Fundacentro participates in public hearing on asbestos eradication in Rio de Janeiro].
 

Asbestos: New Study

Nov 17, 2023

A paper entitled Exposure hazards from continuing use and removal of asbestos-cement products, which was published on November 9, 2023 in the Annals of Work Exposures and Health, concluded that the installation and removal of asbestos-cement (AC) products caused levels of airborne asbestos fibers which “almost always exceed U.S. occupational limits.” Water is delivered via 600,000 miles of ageing AC pipes still in place in the USA. As AC building products account for 90% of asbestos used worldwide, these findings are of relevance not only to Americans but to people the world over. See: Asbestos Use Surpasses Safe Exposure Limits.
 

Naval Service: Asbestos Cancer Risk

Nov 17, 2023

A collaborative study published this week by researchers at the University of Adelaide and Oxford University revealed that the incidence of asbestos-related lung cancer was higher among Australian and British naval personnel than members of the army or the air force. This finding was based on data from ~31,000 Australian and UK personnel who served in the 1950s and 1960s. Believing that these cancers were caused by exposures to asbestos in naval vessels, the authors of the paper cited below urged that stricter protective measures be put in place to prevent toxic exposures. See: Asbestos-related cancer in naval personnel: findings from participants in the British nuclear tests 1952–1967.
 

Asbestos Health Alert!

Nov 17, 2023

The article cited below contained a lengthy exposition regarding the health hazards posed by the continued use of asbestos in Vietnam. Explaining that there was a global consensus about the carcinogenic nature of all types of asbestos and that there was “no safe threshold for [exposures to] carcinogens,” the author bizarrely suggested that people concerned about toxic exposures: “use more ventilation… vacuum regularly… and avoid staying at construction sites or places with asbestos products for long periods of time. If necessary, wear a mask and take protective measures.” See: Bi kịch của amiăng: Chất gây ung thư cấp độ một, vẫn có thể được nhìn thấy ở trong ngôi nhà của bạn [The tragedy of asbestos: A first-degree carcinogen that can still be seen in your home].
 

Asbestos Watchdog

Nov 17, 2023

On November 14, 2023, it was announced that the authorities in South Korea’s Gimhae City had created an Asbestos Safety Management Monitoring Group to act as an asbestos watchdog to protect citizens from deadly workplace exposures to asbestos during renovating, removal and demolition work. According to Lee Yong-kyu, head of the City’s Climate Response Division: “We will secure reliability and transparency at work by overseeing asbestos dismantling work through the activities of the Asbestos Safety Management Monitoring Group.” See: 김해시, 석면안전관리감시단 출범…그린리더 20명 구성 [Gimhae City Launches Asbestos Safety Management Monitoring Group... Comprising 20 Green Leaders].
 

Asbestos in Soweto School

Nov 17, 2023

Overcrowded classes at Noordgesig Secondary School in Soweto are the result of the closure in October 2023 of part of the building because of the presence of asbestos. Of the 13 mobile classrooms promised by the Gauteng Department of Education, only eight were delivered. In a comment made in a local newspaper Khume Ramulifho, a member of the Gauteng Provincial Legislature, said: “[the] department must provide the same number of classrooms so teaching and learning must continue in a conducive environment. There should be no rotational learning as learners already lost contact lesson time.” See: Overcrowding, asbestos classes remain challenge. SGB vows to take steps to force state to comply.
 

Asbestos in the Built Environment

Nov 17, 2023

According to the Department of Territory, the vast majority of buildings constructed before 1991 – when the use of asbestos was banned in Switzerland – in Ticino, the country’s southernmost canton, contain asbestos. The legacy of widespread asbestos use during the last century created a continuing problem for workers as well as members of the public. The Canton estimated that in Ticino up to 80,000 residential buildings contain asbestos. There is no obligation for building owners or managers to remove asbestos-containing products. See: Amianto: Trovarlo e la regola, non l’eccezione [Asbestos: Finding it is the rule, not the exception].
 

Alert: Toxic Pipework in Water System

Nov 14, 2023

On Thursday, November 9, 2023, the leader of Canada’s Green Party Elizabeth May tabled a petition at the House of Commons calling on the federal government to prioritize action on Canada’s aging asbestos-cement pipes due to the potential dangers of drinking tap water containing the known carcinogen: “This is an understudied and unregulated problem…Believe it or not, many municipalities rely on old cement water pipe delivering water to millions of Canadians, and the pipes contain asbestos fibres.” The federal government must reply to this petition within 45 days. See: ‘Understudied and unregulated’: Greens table petition on Canada's failing asbestos-cement pipes.
 

Update on J&J Asbestos Lawsuits

Nov 14, 2023

Recently, it was reported that there are now 40,000+ lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson (J&J) over the historic presence of asbestos fibers in its iconic talc-based baby powder. The article which is cited below reported that in addition to the personal injury cases, Los Angeles County had filed a lawsuit against the pharmaceutical multinational. The LA case alleged that despite knowing about the dangers posed by asbestos in its baby powder, J&J continued to market this product thereby causing untold misery to LA County residents. Lawyers for the County also claimed that J&J had a marketing policy which targeted minority women. See: Talcum Baby Powder Ovarian Cancer Lawsuit.
 

Asbestos Eradication Program on Track

Nov 14, 2023

According to the Rwanda Housing Authority, progress is being made on the eradication of the asbestos hazard from the built environment to protect Rwandans from potentially deadly exposures to a class 1 carcinogen. As of October 31, 2023, government support had facilitated the removal of 82.4% of asbestos roofing from public and private buildings. The vast majority of public buildings (81.8%) and private residences and institutions (83%) have been remediated. A concerted effort has been made to increase the number of specialist asbestos removal companies; as of now, there are 900+ registered companies able to undertake the removal of asbestos roofing according to national regulations and guidelines. See: Hazardous asbestos roofing removed from over 80% Rwandan buildings.
 

Victim’s Verdict by Rome Court

Nov 14, 2023

Last week, the Court of Rome issued a judgment finding the Rete Ferroviaria Italiana (RFI) company liable for the mesothelioma death of worker Francesco Maria Cairo; the deceased had worked for RFI from 1969 to 2001 as a technical foreman in the company’s Turin and Mila plants. During his employment, he was routinely exposed to asbestos. He was diagnosed with asbestos cancer in 2019 and died in 2022. RFI was ordered to pay Cairo’s widow and family the sum of €238,814 (US$255,535). See: Amianto: RfI condannata a risarcire famiglia operaio morto [Asbestos: RFI ordered to compensate dead worker’s family].
 

Relatives Sue Government

Nov 14, 2023

On November 9, 2023, the family of a deceased employee of the Hitachi Research Institute announced the filing of a lawsuit against the Japanese Government at Mito District Court over its’ failure to prevent asbestos exposures – seeking 14.3 million yen (US$94,345) compensation. The case was filed months before the expiry of a 20-year deadline. The familiy's lawyers said their clients hadn’t known it was possible to hold the Government to account for the exposures which caused the cancer contracted by their father. See: アスベスト吸入 中皮腫死亡で国賠提訴 元日立社員遺族「今年、制度を知った」 [Government sued for compensation over asbestos inhalation mesothelioma death of former Hitachi employee. Bereaved family “learned about the system this year”].
 

Death From Covid-19 and Asbestosis

Nov 14, 2023

An inquest at Bootle Town Hall into the 2021 death of 90-year-old Thomas Littler heard that his death had been caused by Covid-19 and asbestosis. The Coroner was categorical about the causes of death, saying that the asbestosis “had contributed towards his death.” Littler had worked for British Rail between 1944 and 1983 as an apprentice, a wheelwright and a handyman; it is believed that he had routinely experienced asbestos exposures at his workplace. An investigation has been launched to establish the nature and duration of these toxic exposures. See: Family of ex-rail worker with asbestos-linked death appeals for help.
 

Asbestos Exposures in the Armed Forces

Nov 10, 2023

Experts in personal injury claims for asbestos claimants have estimated that more than 6,000 people have died from asbestos exposures experienced during service in the Italian military. According to official government statistics, there is an elevated incidence of the signature asbestos cancer, mesothelioma amongst former service personnel. Asbestos was used on almost all military bases in Italy as well as in armoured vehicles, engines, brakes, clothing, aircraft, firefighting devices and missile systems. See: Amianto, la strage silenziosa nelle Forze Armate: oltre 6mila morti [Asbestos, the silent massacre in the Armed Forces: over 6 thousand dead].
 

Asbestos Gas Mask Hazard

Nov 10, 2023

According to news released on November 6, 2023, illegal gas masks with filters containing asbestos had been found on board a bulk carrier during a regular Port State Control inspection by employees of Netherlands’ Human Environment and Transport Inspectorate. The masks, which were being used by crew members for checking phosphine levels in the cargo hold, had been made in Russia. This was not an isolated incident; in the last 18 months, shipping inspectors came across three other instances where asbestos-containing masks were being used on board international ships. See: Dutch Inspectorate warns shipping for asbestos in vintage gas masks.
 

Asbestos Removal on Gran Canaria 

Nov 10, 2023

A second phase of work has been started by the authorities on the Spanish Island of the Gran Canaria to eradicate the asbestos hazard. The Ministry of Environment, Climate, Energy and Knowledge allocated €5.32 million (US$5.7m) to a private company to collect non-structural asbestos-containing material from homeowners on the island. During the first phase of the island’s asbestos removal program, 117,513 kg of asbestos waste was collected. Penalties for fly tipping asbestos waste range from €30,000 to €500,000. See: La seconda campagna di rimozione dell’amianto dalle abitazioni di Gran Canaria [The second campaign to remove asbestos from homes in Gran Canaria].
 

Asbestos-cement – What’s the Problem?

Nov 10, 2023

A commentary published earlier this month provided an overview about the historic use of asbestos-cement (AC) products in the UK and the problems posed by the continued presence of these toxic AC-containing materials. AC products could contain up to 50% asbestos fiber; although most AC was made from chrysotile (white) asbestos, crocidolite (blue) and amosite (brown) asbestos were also used. The aging, weathering and deterioration of AC products can liberate fibers into the air. Under the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 (CAR 2012) duty holders, building owners, landlords or and occupants are obliged to manage/prevent asbestos exposures. See: Asbestos cement products – A low risk material?
 

Action to Prevent Toxic Renovations

Nov 10, 2023

The popularity of asbestos in the construction of Australian homes during the 20th century has left the country with a toxic legacy. Many Australians are home renovators or DIY-enthusiasts but the presence of asbestos – which is still found in 1 out of 3 Australian homes – means that care must be taken before work is begun to address the contamination in accordance with national legislation and guidelines. The majority of people being diagnosed with the signature asbestos cancer, mesothelioma reported that they had experienced “possible or probable” exposure to asbestos in their homes, often during renovation work. See: Asbestos 101: don't put your life, or others, at risk.
 

New Online Resource

Nov 10, 2023

On November 8, 2023, a new information report was uploaded by the Maritime Institute for Prevention (IMP) providing updated information regarding French protocols for dealing with the presence and removal of asbestos-containing material from ships. This resource would be of interest, said the publishers, to shipowners and business owners who were duty bound to manage the health risks posed by the presence of asbestos-containing products on their ships in order to prevent toxic exposures to seafarers, employees and external operatives working on board. See: L'IMP informe sur l'amiante à bord des navires [IMP provides information on asbestos on board ships].
 

Asbestos Judgment Delayed

Nov 8, 2023

On November 6, 2023, the Court of First Instance in Brussels announced that the verdict in a landmark case brought by Eric Jonckheere – one of five members of his family to contract the lethal asbestos cancer mesothelioma – would be handed down in December 2023. Jonckheere, who is the President of the Belgian Asbestos Victims’ Group (ABEVA), is suing the Belgian cement conglomerate Eternit, claiming that despite knowing that asbestos exposures could prove lethal, the company had continued to use this acknowledged carcinogen. This behaviour, according to the claimant’s lawyers, constituted “inexcusable fault.” See: Procès Eternit: le tribunal rendra son jugement le mois prochain [Eternit trial: court to deliver judgment next month].
 

Post-Earthquake Asbestos Hazard

Nov 8, 2023

The article cited below contained data accumulated by scientists working for civil society groups in Turkish areas devastated by the February 2023 earthquakes. According to the journalist, samples of earthquake debris collected from Karacasu Container City – now the temporary home of 6,000 earthquake survivors – contained three types of asbestos fibers: chrysotile, anthophyllite and actinolite. The proximity of the living area close to a dump site for building waste was suggested as one reason for the high level of asbestos contamination. See: Asbestos was detected in the area where 6 thousand earthquake victims lived.
 

Asbestos in Nursery Schools

Nov 8, 2023

Politician Cha Hyeon-ju from South Korea’s Gyeongsangbuk Province, in the east of the country, told the Provincial Assembly of his concerns regarding the slow progress being made in eradicating the asbestos hazard from private nursery schools: “Out of 208 private kindergartens in the province, 59 (28%) are in need of asbestos removal work... prompt action will be needed to protect the health of kindergarten students.” He urged the Office of Education to “take active measures” to safeguard all school children. See: 차주식 경북도의원 “사립유치원 석면해체공사 지원 대책 마련해야” [Gyeongsangbuk Provincial Assemblyman Cha Hyeon-ju “We need to prepare measures to support asbestos dismantling work in private kindergartens”].
 

Northern Asbestos Hotspot

Nov 8, 2023

Researchers have ascertained, via the use of a Freedom of Information request, that between 2019 and 2023, nearly 150 people in York and Scarborough were diagnosed with the signature asbestos cancer, mesothelioma. Generations of workers were exposed to asbestos whilst employed at the carriage works in the Holgate Road factory, York before its closure in the 1990s. According to local solicitor Richard Green, the number of asbestos claimants who experienced “low level” exposures working in schools and hospitals is increasing. See: 150 + people in York and Scarbrough with asbestos-related cancer.
 

Compensation for Power-Plant Exposures

Nov 8, 2023

The public health provider (ASL) of the IVREA commune in Italy agreed to pay the sum of €400,000 (US$427,000) to the family of former employee Fiorano Canavese, who died from asbestos cancer due to toxic workplace exposures. Canavese had worked for ASL at the thermal power plant serving Ivrea hospital. He died aged 54 in 2017. See: IVREA – Muore per l'amianto nella centrale termica dell'ospedale: l'Asl paga un risarcimento ai famigliari [IVREA – Death from asbestos exposures in hospital's thermal power plant: ASL pays compensation to family].
 

Lung Cancer Causation

Nov 8, 2023

A commentary on the causes of lung cancer uploaded on November 5, 2023 to a Greek website highlighted the human health hazard posed by exposure to asbestos, which can be found not only in thousands of products but also in soil, rocks and water. As well as lung cancer, exposures to asbestos can cause mesothelioma and cancers of the larynx and ovaries. It is not widely known that Greece was at one time an asbestos-producing nation. Mining operations at the Kozani asbestos mine, in Northern Greece began in 1982 and ended in 2000. See: Ποιες είναι οι αιτίες εμφάνισης καρκίνου του πνεύμονα [What are the causes of lung cancer?].
 

Disposing of Toxic Building Waste

Nov 6, 2023

China’s Ministry of Environment last week announced the approval of additional protocols for dealing with building waste containing asbestos, deemed to be a toxic substance. Previous government guidelines stipulated that this waste be buried according to strict procedures. Following the amendment to the disposal regulations, the use of chemical or heat treatments to detoxify the waste will now be allowed. See: 石绵瓦不只能固化掩埋 环境部增“热处理、化学处理法” [Asbestos tiles can not only be solidified and buried, the Ministry of Environment has added “heat treatment and chemical treatment methods”].
 

Regional Asbestos Removal Plan

Nov 6, 2023

The Regional Council of Emilia-Romagna, Italy has allocated the sum of €4 million (US$4.3m) for the removal and safe disposal of asbestos from factories throughout the region “in the name of environmental sustainability…” According to Irene Priolo, the Vice President of the Region with responsibility for the Environment, asbestos eradication work has been ongoing for more than 20 years. Subsidies for this work can be accessed by small, medium and large companies with properties in the Emilia-Romagna Region. See: Dalla Regione oltre 4 milioni per eliminare l'amianto dalle fabbriche [Over 4 million from the Region to eliminate asbestos from factories].
 

Asbestos Removal Program: Update

Nov 6, 2023

A decade after having committed to removing asbestos roofing from homes, the South African Government announced that the asbestos eradication program had begun, with work on properties in the Fezile Dabi region in the Free State. Minister of Human Settlements Mmamoloko Kubayi issued a public promise to ensure the completion of this three-year national project. This initiative has been beset by charges of corruption and misappropriation by provincial and national political figures. The trial of former ANC Secretary-General Ace Magashule and others has been scheduled to begin in April, 2024 in the Free State High Court. See: Programme to remove all asbestos roofs begins.
 

Asbestos Audit in Sardinia

Nov 6, 2023

The Italian municipality of Porto Torres, in north-west Sardinia has begun work on an asbestos audit of buildings owned by the city. According to officials, this initiative was launched to protect the health of members of the public as well as that of workers. The new survey follows on from a 2015 Regional Council Resolution that laid the groundwork for a series of measures needed in order to safeguard citizens from asbestos exposures. See: Porto Torres, amianto negli edifici comunali: via al censimento [Porto Torres, asbestos in municipal buildings: census kicks off].
 

Remembering Bob Dickie

Nov 6, 2023

The October 17, 2023 death of trade unionist, shipyard worker and asbestos victims’ supporter Bob Dickie was announced last week in Glasgow. An influential trade unionist, Bob had acted as the Chairperson of the Glasgow-based Clydebank Asbestos Group for over 20 years. In this capacity, he had played a front-line role in campaigns to improve government benefits for and secure the rights of Scottish asbestos victims, many of whom had also worked at the shipyards. He worked collaboratively with asbestos groups throughout the UK and was, said John Flanagan from the Merseyside Asbestos Victims Support Group, pivotal in setting up the Liverpool group in 1993. See: MSP pays tribute to ‘key player’ in 1971 shipyard ‘work-in’.
 

Selling Orenburg Asbestos

Nov 6, 2023

Even in wartime, Russian asbestos stakeholders continue efforts to sell asbestos abroad. Since 2016, China’s annual expenditure on Russian asbestos grew by 93% from US$28 to ~54 million. In 2022, the import of ~174,000 tonnes of Russian asbestos accounted for nearly 2/3 of all the asbestos consumed in China. The Orenburg Region, home to Russia’s largest asbestos mining conglomerate, recently announced plans to take part in a bilateral Russia–China meeting in Nanchang, China to discuss ways to increase trade between the two countries. Orenburg’s biggest export to China is asbestos. See: Оренбуржье примет участие в X совете "Волга-Янцзы" [Orenburg Region will take part in the X Volga–Yangtze Council].
 

Asbestos Ban on Track!

Nov 3, 2023

An article uploaded on November 2, 2023, reported that the Cambodian Government had confirmed its intention to ban asbestos in 2025 during discussions at a workshop in Phnom Penh this week. The event – which was organized by the Cambodian Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training, and Australia’s Union Aid Abroad (APHEDA) – was attended by representatives of 11 Ministries, employer organisations, trade unions and civil society groups. International as well as Cambodian experts addressed the meeting; the need for the implementation of mandatory protocols to protect workers and members of the public was considered. See: Workshop stresses need to ban asbestos by 2025.
 

Asbestos Legacy Lives On

Nov 3, 2023

An article which was published on October 30, 2023 in a major English-language Canadian newspaper considered the legacy of Quebec’s asbestos exports to India, the world’s largest asbestos-importing country. Although Canada no longer mines asbestos, “Canada has … had an outsized effect on Indian policy. Arguments Ottawa once made to defend the asbestos industry are still cited by Indian lawmakers.” In the face of India’s powerful asbestos lobby, the devastation caused by asbestos exposures is slowly emerging. According to Dr Raja Singh, the “continued asbestos use in India will cause health problems for decades.” See [subscription site]: Five years after Canada banned asbestos, industry clings on in India despite health concerns.
 

Progressing Asbestos Victims’ Rights

Nov 3, 2023

Amendments proposed to the French National Assembly by MP Didier Le Gac during discussions on the Social Security budget on October 30, 2023 were approved. These amendments included measures to: increase the uptake of compensation as provided by the Asbestos Victims Compensation Fund; reinstate the rights of some pensioners and seafarers to access supplemental benefits; protect victims’ right to obtain the full amount of compensation regardless of findings of “inexcusable fault” by employers. See: Victimes de l’amiante: le député Didier Le Gac obtient des avancées [Asbestos victims: MP Didier Le Gac achieves progress].
 

Asbestos Compensation in San Lazzaro

Nov 3, 2023

The municipality of San Lazzaro in the Northern Italian region of Emilia-Romagna last week progressed budgetary discussions to pay compensation of €400,000 (US$422,600), as per an order of the Court of Reggio, to the family of a construction worker who had died from the signature asbestos cancer mesothelioma following toxic workplace exposures. See: Comune condannato per l’amianto. Morì di mesotelioma al San Lazzaro. Eredi risarciti con 400mila euro [Municipality condemned over asbestos. Death from mesothelioma in San Lazzaro. Heirs compensated with 400 thousand euros].
 

MAVSG’s 30th Anniversary!

Nov 3, 2023

On October 27, 2023, officials, volunteers and supporters of the Merseyside Asbestos Victims Support Group (MAVSG) gathered to celebrate the 30th anniversary of one of the UK’s oldest charities supporting asbestos victims and their families. Remembering many of the people who had helped establish MAVSG, Support Officer John Flanagan had the pleasant task of presenting a cheque for £2,540 to Professor Judy Coulson from Liverpool University to help fund research into improved treatments for mesothelioma, the signature cancer associated with asbestos exposure. See: Asbestos disease victims mark 30 years of fighting for sufferers & their families.
 

Asbestos Alert

Nov 3, 2023

Australia’s Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency – an independent watchdog tasked with improving asbestos protections at work as well as at home throughout the country – warned Australians to maintain a high level of caution over exposures to asbestos-containing products within the built and natural environment. In a recent communique, the Agency’s CEO Justine Ross said that even though 80% of Australians were aware of the deadly asbestos hazard “the danger from asbestos is far from over.” See: Asbestos disease danger ‘far from over,’ says watchdog.
 

Asbestos Ban Confirmed

Oct 30, 2023

In a recent paper by the Asia Development Bank (ADB), the use of asbestos-containing products was banned in all ADB-funded projects. The new restriction appeared on pages 23-24 of the Environmental and Social Framework: “financing production of, or trade in, or use of asbestos fibers is fully prohibited under the new policy. This is a change from the current SPS [Safeguard Policy Statement], which allows the use of bonded asbestos cement sheeting with asbestos content of less than 20%. This prohibition does not apply to projects involving disposal of existing asbestos, provided a suitable asbestos management plan is adopted for disposal…” See: Working Paper. Environmental and Social Framework. October 2023.
 

Eradicating Environmental Asbestos Hazard

Oct 30, 2023

According to information released this month by officials from Goheung County, in one of the areas in the southernmost part of the Korean peninsula, progress is being made in the safe disposal of asbestos-cement roofing waste as per terms stipulated in the Waste Management Act. “We have,” said a press release “secured 4,400 million won (US$3.2m) in the estimated budget to deal with the discarded waste tiles… we will do our best to protect the health of the people of the county from asbestos-containing roofing and create a comfortable living environment.” See: 고흥군, 1급 발암물질 석면 함유 폐슬레이트 추가 처리 [Goheung County further treats waste slate containing asbestos, a class 1 carcinogen].
 

Safeguarding Construction Workers

Oct 30, 2023

Between October 30 and November 3, 2023, officials from WorkSafe, New South Wales (NSW) plan to inspect construction sites in the state to insure that mandatory standards are being observed, including those which prevent workplace exposures to asbestos: “Asbestos could be present in many different forms on a construction site, including cement pipes, pits and insulation coatings on pipelines … Asbestos related diseases are preventable, and inspectors will be reminding tradies to exercise extreme caution when working on homes or buildings built before the late 1980s as they may contain asbestos.” See: Construction blitz to target falls from height and asbestos.
 

Calls for Asbestos Eradication

Oct 30, 2023

Kenyan MP Ibrahim Abdi last week petitioned the National Assembly on behalf of his constituents who are calling for government action on the hazard posed by the presence of asbestos roofing in their area. According to residents from Wajir North, a constituency in the northeast of the country, as exposure to asbestos can cause cancer, the toxic roofing should be replaced with asbestos-free roofing such as that made from galvanized iron sheets. In their request to the government, the petitioners wrote: “Despite the ban on the use of asbestos in Kenya in 2006, and the associated increase in cancer cases, the material is still in use in many parts of the country.” See: Remove all asbestos roofs, petitioners ask State.
 

Growing Support for Asbestos Ban

Oct 30, 2023

A week ago, New York City Comptroller Brad Lander – a trustee of the New York City Fire Pension Fund and the New York City Police Pension Fund – denounced the continued use of asbestos by the Occidental Chemical Corporation (OxyChem), the only US company to still import asbestos for use in the chlor-alkali industry. As of September 1, 2023, the pension companies mentioned above collectively owned $61 million worth of shares of Occidental Petroleum, OxyChem’s parent company. According to Lander, OxyChem is opposed to an asbestos phase-out even though other US chlor-alkali companies are engaged in the transition to asbestos-free technology. See: NYC Comptroller Urges OxyChem to Stop Importing Asbestos.
 

Asbestos Awareness for Pupils

Oct 30, 2023

Because of the ubiquity of asbestos-containing products throughout the educational infrastructure in South Korea, a program was developed to explain to children, in an age-appropriate manner, the hazards of asbestos exposure and how such hazards were being managed. Both online and paper resources were developed by a coalition of civil society groups, “to improve the understanding of asbestos among children and adolescents.” See: 전국지역아동센터협의회, 아동 '석면이란?' 교육 영상 배포 [ Distribution of Educational Videos. National Council of Regional Children's Centers Distributes Children's “What Is Asbestos?”].
 

Increased Occupational Asbestos Protection

Oct 26, 2023

An October 23, 2023 press release from the European Council announced that the Council had adopted stricter occupational asbestos exposure regulations, which updated existing rules in accordance with the latest scientific and technological developments. Under the new rules, current asbestos exposure limits at workplaces will be lowered and the use of improved monitoring methods will become mandatory. Considering the ubiquity of asbestos material within Europe’s built environment and the EU’s goal to renovate millions of buildings by 2030, these new measures will safeguard the lives of millions of workers. EU members have 2 years to incorporate provisions of the directive into their legislation. See: Protection from asbestos at work: Council votes to reduce exposure limits.
 

Asbestos Propagandists Show of Support

Oct 26, 2023

On October 25, 2023, a delegation of pro-asbestos dignitaries – including Governor Ronaldo Caiado and members of the “Goiás Chrysotile Caucus” – will arrive in Minaçu, in the asbestos mining State of Goiás, to show support for the asbestos industry and voice opposition to plans to interdict mining operations in Minaçu. A Supreme Court (STF) judgment scheduled to be handed down in November could end the state exemption – deemed to be unconstitutional – which allowed mining to continue despite a 2017 STF asbestos ban. See: Comitiva que chega a Minaçu nesta quarta-feira, 25, demonstra força política [Delegation that will arrive in Minaçu this Wednesday, 25th, demonstrates political strength].
 

Mesothelioma in Younger Cohort

Oct 26, 2023

The results of research by Italian scientists who analyzed the incidence of malignant mesothelioma (MM) in young people were published in Occupational & Environmental Medicine, a peer-reviewed journal about the health hazards of workplace exposures and practices. Among the conclusions of the paper were the following: “Paraoccupational and environmental exposures to asbestos have been found more frequent in young MM cases… Clusters of mesothelioma incident cases in young people are a significant signal of a potential non-occupational exposure to asbestos.” See [subscription site]: Incidence of mesothelioma in young people and causal exposure to asbestos in the Italian national mesothelioma registry (ReNaM).
 

Threat to Asbestos Victims Postponed?

Oct 26, 2023

Plans by the French Government which would have reduced compensation payouts to occupational disease victims whose injuries had been caused by the “inexcusable fault” of former employers have been scrapped after opposition by asbestos victims’ groups and trade unions. The Government U-turn was announced on October 18, 2023 by Minister of Labor Olivier Dussopt. The Government will, said the Minister, hold “new discussions” with employer and employee organizations to find an equitable way forward. See [subscription site]: Indemnisation des accidents du travail: le rétropédalage du gouvernement [Worker’s compensation: government backpedaling].
 

Reducing Lung Cancer Risk

Oct 26, 2023

In Vietnam, medical professionals are working to reduce the number of deaths from lung cancer. The article cited below from a Vietnam news portal, warned that exposures to environmental factors such as asbestos, as well as a history of smoking, could cause lung cancer. Citizens were advised that to minimize their risk of lung cancer they should: stop smoking, avoid passive smoking and take action to prevent exposures to asbestos, arsenic, chromium, nickel and soot. Asbestos use remains legal in Vietnam with consumption between 2020 and 2022 averaging ~31,000 tonnes. See: Giảm nguy cơ ung thư phổi với 5 thói quen đơn giản sau [Reduce your risk of lung cancer with these 5 simple habits].
 

No Improvement in UK Asbestos Policy

Oct 26, 2023

On October 20, 2023, the UK Government uploaded its response to an e-petition calling for a central asbestos register and the phased removal of asbestos from the built environment which had been signed by more than 10,000 people. Rejecting the demands made by the petitioners, the response of the UK petitions Committee was terse: “the Committee noted the response to this petition.” See: Decisions of the Petitions Committee, October 17, 2023.
 

Asbestos Ban NOW in Force

Oct 23, 2023

On October 1, 2023, two pieces of legislation came into effect in Ukraine which banned the use of asbestos throughout the country and mandated protections for workers exposed to asbestos products already in place.
See: ЗАКОН УКРАЇНИ: Про систему громадського здоров’я [The Law of Ukraine: About the public health system].
МІНІСТЕРСТВО ОХОРОНИ ЗДОРОВ'Я УКРАЇНИ: Про затвердження Державних санітарних норм і правил "Про безпеку і захист працівників від шкідливого впливу азбесту та матеріалів і виробів, що містять азбест" [Ukraine Ministry of Health: On the safety and protection of workers from the harmful effects of asbestos and materials and products containing asbestos].
 

Asbestos on the Agenda in Bologna

Oct 23, 2023

On October 22-25, 2023, a conference in Bologna, Italy, held under the auspices of the Collegium Ramazzini, will consider a wide range of topical subjects including asbestos. Amongst the eminent speakers who will make asbestos presentations during the conference are Fernanda Giannasi and Henrique CS Silveira (Brazil), Arthur Frank, Barry Castleman, Steven Markowitz (USA), Corrado Magnani and Alessandro Marinaccio (Italy) and Xaver Baur (Germany). From the Collegium’s website, it appears that the sessions can be accessed online. See: Environment, Work and Health in the 21st Century: Strategies and Solutions to a Global Crisis.
 

Asbestos Concerns Close Classrooms

Oct 23, 2023

Grade 5 children at a primary school in Soweto, South Africa are currently studying in vastly overcrowded conditions. Earlier this month, a health inspector locked multiple classrooms at the Lukholweni Primary School Orlando East which were found to contain asbestos. The students were distributed as necessary with 130 Grade 5 students in one classroom and 115 Grade 6 pupils in a container-classroom. Grade 1 students were taught in an outside tent. This school is just one of 29 in Gauteng Province which are known to contain asbestos. See: Mayhem at schools built with asbestos material.
 

Laryngeal and Ovarian Cancers

Oct 23, 2023

On October 14, 2023, a decree was published in the Official Journal of the French State which recognized that laryngeal and ovarian cancers caused by occupational asbestos inhalation had become compensable diseases. The decree “creates for the general Social Security system a table of occupational diseases, relating to larynx and ovarian cancers caused by the inhalation of asbestos dust.” Requests for compensation from eligible workers should be submitted to their primary health insurance fund. See: Les cancers du larynx et de l’ovaire provoqués par l’amiante reconnus en maladie professionnelle [Laryngeal and ovarian cancers caused by asbestos recognized as occupational diseases].
 

Remembering the Asbestos Dead

Oct 23, 2023

On October 16, 2023, a memorial paying tribute to personnel from the British Armed Forces who had died from diseases caused by exposures to asbestos during their military service was unveiled at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire. The sculpture, which weighs three tonnes and is three meters tall, was commissioned by Mesothelioma UK and is made up of more than “60 carved stone blocks representing the building blocks of life and public service.” The artist who created the work was Graeme Mitcheson. See: Memorial sculpture honouring mesothelioma patients in the Armed Forces to be unveiled at National Memorial Arboretum.
 

Asbestos in Mont Blanc Tunnel

Oct 23, 2023

The Mont Blanc tunnel which connects France and Italy will be closed for nine weeks – until December 18, 2023 – to allow routine maintenance work as well as repairs to the ventilation system to be carried out. As workers must take samples from a part of the tunnel’s ceiling that contains asbestos, the whole tunnel must be closed throughout the sampling and removal work. Once those tasks have been completed, the tunnel’s ventilation turbines will be replaced. This is the tunnel’s longest period of closure since it was reopened in 2002 following the fire of March 24, 1999 which caused 39 deaths. See: Mont Blanc tunnel closes for maintenance works for two months.
 

Increasing Medical Asbestos Awareness

Oct 19, 2023

An International Conference on Asbestos-Related Diseases in Mongolia, organized by a Korean World Health Organization Collaborating Center, was held at a medical center in Seoul, Korea. Starting this year, staff at St. Mary’s Hospital have worked with members of the medical team of Professor Morimoto of the Japan University of Industrial Medicine to run capacity-building training sessions on occupational and environmental asbestos exposures and the incidence of related diseases for Mongolian medical staff. See: 서울성모병원 직업환경의학센터, 몽골서 석면 질환 국제컨퍼런스 진행 [Seoul St. Mary's Hospital Occupational and Environmental Medicine Center Conducts International Conference on Asbestos Disease in Mongolia].
 

Logistical Developments Boost Exports

Oct 19, 2023

The article cited below marked the 10th anniversary of the opening of new, improved transport links in China which connected Chinese hubs to 30+ countries including Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Thailand and Vietnam. The expedited delivery routes increased exports from China of multiple types of cargo, including raw asbestos fiber. In 2022, China was the world’s fourth largest asbestos-producing country – with an output of 130,000 tonnes (t) – and the 2nd largest consumer – with usage of 261,000t. In 2022, China imported ~174,000t of Russian asbestos. See: 「十年」兰州陆港国际货运班列通江达海 [“Ten Years” Lanzhou Dry Port International Freight Train Connects Rivers and Seas].
 

A Tragic Asbestos Legacy

Oct 19, 2023

Officials in the South Korean County of Hongseong called for an “expansion of the asbestos victims’ health care service project” in recognition of the fact that the county had the highest number of asbestos victims in South Korea. According to Jang Jae-seok, a member of the Hongseong County Council, 10 of Korea’s 38 asbestos mines were in Hongseong. Many of Hongseong’s asbestos victims are elderly and find it difficult to access medical resources outside their localities. See: "석면 피해자 최다 발생 홍성... 실질 지원방안 마련해야" [“The highest number of asbestos victims is in Hongseong... We need to come up with a real support plan”].
 

Legal Victory for Saint-Gobain Workers

Oct 19, 2023

At a public meeting held on October 19, 2023, workers who had been exposed to asbestos whilst employed at facilities in the Thourotte Commune in northern France were informed of a legal victory which secured compensation for 37 former Saint-Gobain employees who had developed a condition commonly referred to as asbestos anxiety. In 2019, 107 other cases had also been won. See: Thourotte. Amiante à Saint-Gobain: Nouvelle victoire pour 37 salariés… en attendant une nouvelle salve de dossiers [Thourotte. Asbestos at Saint-Gobain: Another victory for 37 employees... Waiting for a new round of files].
 

Mesothelioma from Shipyard Exposures

Oct 19, 2023

This week, a court in Trieste, Italy sentenced the company Fincantieri to pay damages of €869,000 (US$919,440) to the family of Alfio Derin, who died as a result of asbestos exposures experienced in the company’s Adriatic shipyards. Mr. Derin was diagnosed with mesothelioma in March 2017 by doctors at the Cattinara Hospital in Trieste. See: Amianto killer in Fincantieri: il Tribunale condanna l’industria navalmeccanica per la morte dell’operaio Alfio Derin [Killer asbestos in Fincantieri: the Court condemns the shipbuilding industry for the death of the worker Alfio Derin].
 

Alert Over Use of Baby Powder

Oct 19, 2023

An article in the French-language weekly women's magazine called Femme Actuelle considered the pros and cons of using baby powder on infants. Having explained the continuing scandal over the presence of asbestos fibers in such products, the author cited damning evidence from Pakistan, the US and Canada before agreeing with advice dispensed by the French health insurance agency warning against the use of talc for the care of babies. It was suggested that “diaper cream, or a paste containing zinc oxide” were safer options to prevent nappy rash. See: Talc pour la toilette de bébé: bonne ou mauvaise idée? [Talcum powder for baby grooming: good or bad idea?].
 

Asbestos Autumn Offensive

Oct 17, 2023

Although the number of asbestos propaganda pieces such as the one cited below seemed to have diminished since the latest phase of Russia’s war on Ukraine began, the latest such text rehashed old industry tropes including the fact that Russian chrysotile (white) asbestos was harmless to human health as fibers were “excreted from the human body in a short time.” Anti-asbestos rhetoric circulated by Western vested interests was unproven, said the author, who promoted Russian research and experience which “proved” that it was safe to use chrysotile asbestos in automotive, building and other products. See: АСБЕСТ: ПОЛЬЗА ИЛИ СМЕРТЕЛЬНЫЙ ВРЕД? [ASBESTOS: BENEFICIAL OR DEADLY HARM?].
 

Subsidizing Asbestos Removal Costs

Oct 17, 2023

On October 12, 2023, a contract was signed by the Busan Environmental Corporation with Rotary International District 3661, under which plans were agreed to provide subsidies for low-income families in Korea’s 2nd biggest city to help them bear the costs of the removal and replacement of toxic asbestos roofing. In 2018, the two organizations provided a total of 1,400 million won (US$1m) to 2,000 low-income households. This year, a subsidy of 3,661 million won (US$2.7m) will be made available to replace asbestos roofs for vulnerable groups. See: 부산환경공단·국제로타리 3661지구, 저소득층 가정 슬레이트 철거비용 지원 [Busan Environmental Corporation, Rotary International District 3661 to help low-income families with slate removal costs].
 

Court Victory for Firefighter’s Family

Oct 17, 2023

On October 12, 2023, a sentence handed down last month by the Court of Reggio Calabria awarding compensation of €1,276,000 (US$1.35m) to the family of a deceased firefighter became final. According to the family’s lawyer, the deceased started work in 1973 at the of Reggio Calabria fire brigade central command, where he “had used asbestos sheets and blankets in fires of cars, cylinders, country sheds … The killer fiber was in the gloves and overalls he used to defend himself from the flames.” The cause of death was mesothelioma, the signature cancer associated with exposure to asbestos. See: Amianto nella tuta, 1,2 milioni a famiglia vigile del fuoco [Asbestos lawsuit, 1.2 million for the firefighter’s family].
 

Protecting Workers from Dust Diseases

Oct 17, 2023

A press release issued on October 13, 2023 by the Minister for Industrial Relations and the Minister for Work Health and Safety of the Australian State of New South Wales (NSW) announced increased penalties and better protection for workers from occupational exposures to asbestos as well as silica and dust. Among the provisions and new powers included in the laws are amendments enabling the NSW work health and safety regulator – Empower SafeWork – to issue a “prohibited asbestos notice, to direct people and employers to take safety measures to remove and manage asbestos in the workplace.” See: New laws bring tougher penalties, longer imprisonment and better protections for dust diseases.
 

Asbestos-Free Green Technology

Oct 17, 2023

The article cited below was uploaded to a Vietnamese construction news portal on October 13, 2023. Although it didn’t say the text was contributed by the building products conglomerate Saint Gobain Vietnam, it certainly read as if it were. The author highlighted the increasing support by the Vietnam Government of green and sustainable technologies; the introduction of the asbestos-free product range – DURAflex fiber cement panels – by Saint Gobain, a manufacturer of asbestos-cement building material, promoted, it was claimed, Vietnam’s green building agenda. See: Vật liệu xanh – Giải pháp tối ưu cho sự phát triển bền vững [Green materials – The optimal solution for sustainable development].
 

Asbestos at the Park

Oct 17, 2023

An asbestos audit of the building site for the Incheon Wonsin Neighborhood Park, located in the Seo-gu district of the South Korean city of Incheon, found pieces of asbestos-cement (AC) debris and asbestos fibers in the grass and soil. The AC debris contained up to 10% asbestos fiber. The Western Youth Training Center was located next to the construction site. Construction began on the park project in May 2023; after excavation work began in September, asbestos was found in the soil. An official for the district confirmed that the results of a soil survey are awaited. See: 인천지역 청소년시설 코앞에 ‘석면 흙가루’ 풀풀 [‘Asbestos dust grass’ pool in front of Incheon youth facility].
 

Long Wait for Compensation

Oct 16, 2023

After a wait of 24 years the Italian widow of a railway repair yard worker, who died in 1999 from asbestos-related lung cancer, was awarded €300,000 (US$316,655) by Judge Alfonsina Manfredini from the Labor Section of the Court of Lucca. The Judge rejected the argument by the National Institute for Insurance against Accidents at Work that the case had been barred because the statue of limitations had expired. Included in the compensation package was a lump sum for the funeral arrangements, a backdated annuity and monthly pension for the widow. See: Morì per un carcinoma, risarcimento dopo 24 anni [He died of carcinoma, compensation after 24 years].
 

Prison Sentence for Asbestos Crime

Oct 16, 2023

On October 10, 2023, a federal court in Las Vegas, Nevada ruled that contractors Rene Morales and Hector Vasquez were guilty of violating the Clean Air Act by failing to implement asbestos protections during renovation work to convert a warehouse into a marijuana facility. Under their supervision, asbestos-containing drywall material and ceiling coatings were removed without following mandatory abatement measures and guidelines. Both men pleaded guilty; they each received sentences of six months. Commenting on the verdict, US Attorney Jason Frierson said: “These crimes endanger the lives of workers, tenants, and the community at large.” See: Las Vegas contractors imprisoned for reckless asbestos release during warehouse renovation.
 

Belfast Court Issues Victim’s Verdict

Oct 16, 2023

On October 12, 2023, the Court of Appeal ruled that a 72-year-old Belfast man who contracted an asbestos-related condition after exposure to asbestos dust brought home on work clothes worn by his father – who had worked as a pipe lagger at the Harland & Wolff (H&W) shipyard – was entitled to compensation from H&W. Allowing the appeal, Lady Chief Justice Dame Siobhan Keegan instructed the parties to negotiate an appropriate payout, saying it should be “a relatively simple exercise to establish moderate provisional damages for the development of pleural plaques by this appellant.” See: Belfast man entitled to damages over asbestos-related condition linked to father’s work at Harland & Wolff.
 

Specialist Support for Schools

Oct 16, 2023

Authorities in Korea take the issue of asbestos very seriously and have strict regulations regarding the management of asbestos in schools. The Education Support Agency in Seongnam, a satellite city of the country’s capital, announced last week that it had signed a risk assessment and maintenance service contract with the Korea Asbestos Environment Research Institute, which will take over responsibility for supervising asbestos material in schools and provide professional management of affected premises. See: 성남교육지원청, 학교석면 위해성평가 및 유지보수 용역 실시 [Seongnam Education Support Agency, school asbestos risk assessment and maintenance service].
 

Remembering Casale Monferrato

Oct 16, 2023

The picturesque Piedmontese town of Casale Monferrato, which was at the epicenter of Italy’s asbestos catastrophe, was the subject of the article cited below. The deadly repercussions of almost 80 years of asbestos-cement manufacturing continue to blight this municipality. Workplace and environmental asbestos exposures produced a high incidence of asbestos cancers and diseases amongst Casale workers and residents. Trials to hold company owners, directors and managers to account for thousands of asbestos deaths continue to this day. See: Casale Monferrato, Eternit e produzione di amianto: tra i più grandi disastri ambientali in Italia [Casale Monferrato, Eternit and asbestos production: among the biggest environmental disasters in Italy].
 

Protecting Children in Safe Schools

Oct 16, 2023

On October 11, 2023, the Office of Education in the Korean Province of Gyeonggi announced a new program to created “safe schools, schools that prepare for the future.” Amongst the work which will be undertaken under this initiative, for which 1.5 trillion won (US$1.1bn) has been allocated every year, is the completion of work to remove asbestos from schools. Since 2016, the Province has been eradicating the asbestos hazard from schools; as a result of steady progress, the provincial education department plans to complete the project one year early. The modernizing of schools will create more than 20,000 jobs. See: 경기도교육청, 학교시설 개선에 매년 1조5천억원 투입 [Gyeonggi Provincial Office of Education invests 1.5 trillion won annually to improve school facilities].
 

Asbestos in Schools

Oct 13, 2023

A deadline of 2027 has been set by the Office of Education supervising the western part of the Korean city of Daejeon for the eradication of the asbestos hazard from 57 schools, with spokesperson Chae Hong pledging that: “We will do our best to complete the asbestos dismantling and removal work safely during the summer vacation period so that we can provide a comfortable and safe educational environment for students.” To date, 8.3 billion won (US$6.2m) had been spent to decontaminate six schools in the district. A further 3.2 billion won (US$2.4m) has been allocated for work at 2 more schools during the winter vacation 2023/24. See: 대전서부교육지원청,'석면 없는 청정 학교 조성' [Daejeon West Education Support Agency, ‘Creation of Asbestos-Free and Clean Schools’].
 

Mesothelioma Drug Approval

Oct 13, 2023

The US Food and Drug Administration awarded the cancer vaccine Ultimovacs, designed “to induce an immune response against the cancer cell proliferation enzyme telomerase (hTERT) in patients with malignant pleural mesothelioma,” an orphan drug designation. This decision was taken based on the initial results of a Phase II randomized, open-label clinical trial organized by Oslo University Hospital and conducted in Norway, Spain, Australia, Denmark, and Sweden. The orphan drug status qualifies sponsors for multiple incentives including tax credits, fee exemptions and market exclusivity. See: Ultimovacs bags orphan drug tag for mesothelioma vaccine.
 

Asbestos Issues in Calabria

Oct 13, 2023

The article cited below deplored the lack of progress being made in Italy in decontaminating the built and natural environment. Whilst this problem is a national disgrace, the situation in Calabria is particularly bad. The Regional Plan for Asbestos in Calabria (PRAC) – which provides a regional census and mapping of asbestos hotspots – should have been approved by May 2022; it wasn’t. The PRAC is a prerequisite for accessing reclamation funds from the Ministry of the Environment. Politicians in Calabria blame the lack of progress on the Covid-19 pandemic. See: Amianto: persi i fondi della bonifica [Asbestos: reclamation funds lost].
 

Post-fire Asbestos Hazard

Oct 13, 2023

The fallout from a fire which destroyed two disused buildings in the French town of Rouen on October 1, 2023, continues to make front page news. Pursuant to a ruling issued by Rouen city hall, facilities at the Pépinières School Group will be closed until further notice. Sampling at the school site, which is near to the destroyed buildings, detected the presence of chrysotile (white) asbestos fibers in 8 out of 20 samples taken indoors and outdoors. See: Incendie à Rouen : une école fermée « jusqu’à nouvel ordre », de l’amiante détectée [Fire in Rouen: a school closed “until further notice,” asbestos detected].
 

Asbestos Eradication Program Begins

Oct 13, 2023

Work has begun in the southwestern part of the Caribbean island of St Lucia to replace 60-year old asbestos roofing on government-owned housing on Palmist and Market Road, under the auspices of the Department of Housing and Local Government and the Ministry of Health. The asbestos roofing will be replaced with galvanized sheeting. The work will be undertaken by local contractor Matthew Nelson under strict supervision by government and local officials. See: Palmist & Market Road residents to get asbestos roofing replaced.
 

Asbestos Replacement in KZN

Oct 13, 2023

Officials in South Africa’s Msunduzi Municipality announced plans to replace storm-damaged asbestos roofing from houses in Ward 34; houses in other Wards were also affected. According to an official report: “The people of these wards have been waiting for almost a year for the repair of the storm damage and this (replacement) forms part of Msunduzi and the Department of Human Settlement’s response to storm damage. All asbestos waste would need to be disposed of on sites specifically designated for this purpose in terms of the Environmental Conservation Act, 19 1989 and the National Environmental Management Waste Act of 2008.” A funding application to cover this work was submitted to the KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) Department of Human Settlements. See: City to tackle asbestos.
 

Asbestos in Shipbreaking Yards

Oct 12, 2023

Shipbreaking yards in Bangladesh are thriving, due to the cheap prices they charge for the scrapping of redundant ships. With no protective equipment and little attention paid to health and safety, barefoot workers are routinely exposed to dangerous conditions and substances such as asbestos. The results of medical tests undertaken on shipbreaking workers by personnel from the OSHE Foundation found that of 110 shipbreaking workers examined, 33 had “varying degrees of lung damage… [and] three have died, while the others live in misery.” See: Cost of cheap steel: European ships, Bangladeshi lives - tragic tale unveiled.
 

Unions Act on Asbestos Hazard

Oct 12, 2023

A press release issued on October 10, 2023 by a coalition of UK trade unions called for a 40-year deadline for the removal of all asbestos from public buildings. The unions, which collectively represent 4 million workers, called on the leaders of the Conservative, Green, Labour and the Liberal Democrat parties to include a phased asbestos eradication policy in their manifestos for the next general election. “Asbestos exposure is,” the unions wrote “still the biggest cause of work-related deaths in Britain. Around 5,000 people are dying each year from asbestos cancers linked to work exposure, including from mesothelioma.” See: Union leaders call for an end to deadly asbestos legacy.
 

Asbestos Exposures in Aliağa

Oct 12, 2023

Footage shot at a Turkish shipbreaking yard in January 2023 was shown to three asbestos experts who agreed that the working practices shown were not compliant with EU standards. None of the workers had proper protective clothing or equipment; there was no containment tent or decontamination procedures and no safety supervisor. Unsafe working practices not only exposed the operatives to asbestos but also sent fibers into the environment where they could contaminate people in communities in close proximity to the Kılıçlar shipbreaking yard in Aliağa. The evidence collected documented multiple failures of the EU Directorate-General Environment’s approval process for shipbreaking facilities. See: Shipbroken: EU inspectors ignore lethal practices at Turkish shipyards.
 

Asbestos at Nursery School

Oct 12, 2023

On October 10, 2023, Niigata City announced that work it had ordered to be undertaken at Urushiyama Higashi Nursery School may have liberated asbestos fibers. The renovations, which were carried out while the kindergarten was open, necessitated the removal of paint on an exterior wall of the premises. A report on this work concluded that asbestos fibers may have become airborne as a result of this work. Once this was known, the children were relocated to another venue as an investigation was carried out. See: 保育園の外壁工事でアスベストが園内廊下に飛散した可能性 新潟市発注工事《新潟》 [Asbestos may have been scattered into the hallway of nursery school due to construction work on exterior walls].
 

Promises and Propaganda at Meeting

Oct 12, 2023

At a national conference on occupational health and safety in Victoria Falls last week, ministers pledged that the Zimbabwe Government would prioritize improvements of workplace conditions as it implements the National Development Strategy 1 2021-2025. Addressing the conference, July Moyo, Public Service, Social and Welfare Minister, said: “I want to reaffirm Government’s commitment to addressing OSH issues as we strive to achieve the upper middle-income society as a nation by 2030. Moyo also said that while “asbestos has serious dangerous effects in many countries, Zimbabwe is on the safe side as the local asbestos is the non-dangerous long fibre.” See: Government wants a healthy environment for all workers.
 

Two-year Wait for FIVA Compensation

Oct 12, 2023

As a result of an intervention by the RMC program on news channel BFM, a cancer sufferer who had been exposed to asbestos at work received compensation from the French asbestos victims’ fund: FIVA. The wait for the payout had been stressful for the victim and his relatives. Expressing the family’s relief, the victim’s son said his father accepted: “a second offer of €72,000 (US$76,000) and €5,000 per quarter…Unfortunately, our father is at the end of his life. We know that our mom will be financially protected, that's what we wanted. It is a 100% recognition of an occupational disease.” See: "Un grand merci à votre émission": un ex-travailleur de l’amiante a enfin été indemnisé [“A big thank you for your support”: a former asbestos worker has finally been compensated].
 

Mesothelioma Epidemic: 2023 Update

Oct 9, 2023

The Japanese Government has admitted that the national epidemic of asbestos cancer is growing. According to the Ministry of the Environment, deaths will continue until 2051 at the earliest as the figures collected to date do not include deaths from workplace asbestos exposures experienced by asbestos removal or demolition workers. Data cited in articles such as the one below compared the national asbestos experiences of the UK and Japan and highlighted the repercussions of failures by the Japanese government to take timely action on the asbestos hazard. See: 「ほぼアスベストが原因」の中皮腫死、ついに3万人超過 「引き続き増加傾向」と国も認める [Mesothelioma deaths “always caused by asbestos” finally exceed 30,000. Goverment admits “trend is increasing”].
 

Asbestos at McGill

Oct 9, 2023

The asbestos scandal now unfolding at McGill University, an English-language public research university in Montreal, Quebec, continues to grow. The release of The Internal Audit Final Report on September 18, 2023, showed that between 2021 and 2023 Quebec regulators intervened on three occasions over the use of unsafe asbestos protocols on the Macdonald campus. Interviews with students, researchers and members of staff documented a high level of concern over exposures to asbestos which took place as a consequence of the university’s failures to adequately manage asbestos material. See: ‘I’ll be thinking about this all my life’: Students react to asbestos exposure at McGill.
 

Workers Should Obtain Health Care Cards

Oct 9, 2023

Members of Korea’s Samsung Heavy Industries trade union held an outreach rally on October 4, 2023, urging workers who had experienced workplace exposures to toxic substances like asbestos to obtain a health care card. The card is available to current, retired, contracted as well as permanent workers and entitles holders to free, annual medical examinations under the provisions of the Occupational Safety and Health Act. Early examinations facilitate early diagnoses of occupational cancer; as well as speeding up the provision of government benefits; early diagnoses means that more medical options could be explored for treatment and care of the injured. See: "조선소 석면 취급 노동자 건강관리카드 발급 받으세요" [“Get a shipyard asbestos handling worker health care card”].
 

Using the Law to Defraud Victims

Oct 9, 2023

The use of a financial stratagem – nicknamed The Texas Two-Step” – by US asbestos defendants to escape liabilities for causing injuries and deaths to tens of thousands of people was the subject of the article cited below. The text contained an interview with Amy DeMaio, the daughter of a deceased mesothelioma victim, who had been exposed to asbestos during his career as a construction worker. Ms. DeMaio was scandalized by the behaviour of defendant corporations which are abusing the bankruptcy system to escape accountability for their actions. See: ‘They made a huge profit knowing they’d kill people’: US firms use tactics to avoid paying asbestos victims.
 

Life is Cheap in the Shipbreaking Yards

Oct 9, 2023

Although there are international protocols forbidding the dumping of hazardous ships in developing countries, ships deemed no longer to be of use in the West are sold to cash buyers who circumvent regulations and dispose of the vessels for the best price. With no health and safety regulations in place and no equipment to protect workers, the shipbreaking yards of India and Bangladesh are doing a brisk trade. Asbestos is regarded in the yards as just another material: “in some cases, workers even remove the fibers surrounding the pipes or metal plates of boats with their bare hands.” See: L’ultimo viaggio [The last voyage].
 

Eradicating Asbestos in Reggio Emilia

Oct 9, 2023

A conference on October 11, 2023 in the Italian city of Reggio Emilia will consider the ongoing efforts to eradicate the asbestos hazard from the municipality and surrounding areas. The event is being organized jointly by the Reggio Emilia chapter of the Italian General Confederation of Labor (CGIL) and the local Association of Asbestos Families and Victims (AFeVA). On the agenda will be a discussion of the asbestos repercussions in the aftermath of the tornado and flood which hit the Emilia-Romagna region on July 22, 2023. See: Reggio Emilia ad Amianto Zero [Reggio Emilia with Zero Asbestos].
 

Increasing Asbestos Protections

Oct 6, 2023

On October 3, 2023, the European Parliament approved a proposal to increase workplace protection from asbestos by significantly lowering the occupational exposure limit (OEL) and mandating the use of more modern and accurate technology to detect the presence of thin asbestos fibers. Within a period of six years, EU member states will have to decide “to either decrease the [OEL] level to 0.002 fibres of asbestos per cm³ excluding thin fibres, or to 0.01 fibres of asbestos per cm³ including thin fibres.” See: Exposure to asbestos: MEPs adopt law to protect workers more robustly.
 

Asbestos Crimes and Punishment

Oct 6, 2023

On September 29, 2023, a fine of $60,000 was imposed by the Timaru District Court on the New Zealand firm of Wilson Building for breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act by failing to follow safety guidelines whilst removing asbestos contained in pieces of vinyl flooring from a building in April 2021. “The company’s duty was,” said Judge Campbell Savage “to ensure, so far as reasonably practical, the health and safety of those required to carry out the physical work, and it had admitted failing to comply.” As a result of unsafe working practices, workers were exposed “to the risk of inhaling or ingesting an unknown quantity of ‘highly friable’ Class A asbestos fibres over a number of days.” See: Builder fined $60,000 for asbestos removal errors.
 

Post-Disaster Asbestos Failings

Oct 6, 2023

Voicing the concerns of his constituents Nermin Yıldırım Kara, Deputy to Turkey’s National Assembly representing the Province of Hatay, told the press that the failure to prioritize the protection of public health in the aftermath of the February 2023 earthquakes posed a deadly threat to the citizens in badly affected areas of southern Turkey: “In Hatay, citizens think that they have survived the earthquake, but they will face new disasters in 20-30 years because of asbestos.” A report by the Istanbul Branch of the Chamber of Environmental Engineers found asbestos in samples taken from living quarters, plant leaves and fruit surfaces, soil surfaces, and dust and insulation materials on the surfaces of vehicles. See: “Depremden kurtulduk, asbest yüzünden öleceğiz” [“We survived the earthquake, we will die because of asbestos”].
 

Future for Asbestos Giant

Oct 6, 2023

Some while ago, Brazil’s former asbestos giant – Eternit SA– followed the well-trodden path of North American asbestos companies and sought protection from its creditors by going into judicial administration, claiming that Brazil’s asbestos ban had jeopardized the company’s financial prospects. It has remained in judicial reorganization even though it has paid off all its debts. According to one financial analyst: “Despite the obstacles caused by the asbestos ban, Eternit has managed to reinvent itself…[and] undergone a remarkable turnaround, demonstrating substantial improvements in its situation.” See: Turnaround da Eternit (ETER3): Vale a Pena? [Eternit Turnaround (ETER3): Is It Worth It?].
 

Asbestos Anxiety in Belfort

Oct 6, 2023

On September 28, 2023, the first hearing took place at an administrative court in Besançon in a case brought on behalf of 200 former employees of the Alstom company in the city of Belfort in Northeastern France. The claimants, whose cases at the criminal court and industrial tribunal had failed, are now suing the French Government for failing to mandate timely occupational asbestos protections. Although they have not yet contracted asbestos-related diseases, the plaintiffs have all developed psychological conditions caused by asbestos anxiety. See: Amiante: le dernier combat de 200 salariés d'Alstom Belfort pour faire reconnaître leurs droits [Asbestos: the last fight of 200 Alstom Belfort employees to have their rights recognized].
 

Post-Fire Asbestos Relief

Oct 6, 2023

Two years after a catastrophic fire in Northern Evia, Greece, an international tender for the eradication of asbestos debris from damaged buildings was announced by the Greek Ministry of Environment and Energy. Companies have until October 23, 2023 to submit their bids; the total budget of the project is €682,000 (US$717,000). The successful contractor will have one year to collect asbestos material from homes and private buildings of the Municipality of Mantoudi – Limni – Agia Anna in central Greece. See: Εύβοια: Δύο χρόνια μετά τις φωτιές ζουν με τον καμένο αμίαντο [Evia: Living with burnt asbestos two years after the fires].
 

No Russian Asbestos!

Oct 5, 2023

In an article on Sunday, October 1, 2023, it was reported that Turnall Holdings, one of Zimbabwe’s biggest construction materials manufacturers, had made new arrangements to replace asbestos fiber formerly supplied by Russia. Russian shipments of this raw material had ceased due to sanctions imposed by Western countries over the country’s invasion of Ukraine. Alternative suppliers will begin making deliveries as of September 2023, after which production was expected to resume as normal. See: Turnall Derives Alternatives to Source Asbestos Fibre.
 

Consumers Rejecting Asbestos Roofing

Oct 5, 2023

Results of a new survey undertaken in Vietnam – one of the world’s biggest asbestos consumers – show that the popularity of asbestos roofing is falling. In 2015, 58,000 tonnes of asbestos was imported; this figure fell to ~20,000 tonnes in 2019 with production of asbestos roofing decreasing from 118+ million square metres in 2015 to 28 million in 2019. The responses from people questioned suggest that the availability of safer, reasonably priced roofing material and the growing awareness of the asbestos hazard were behind the decline in consumer demand for asbestos roofing. See: Asbestos imports and roof sheet production drop 66% in Vietnam.
 

Government Rejects Asbestos Petition

Oct 5, 2023

The UK government has rejected a petition with more than 10,000 supporters demanding that a deadline be set for the eradication of the asbestos hazard from the built environment and the implementation of measures to set up an asbestos register recording the presence and condition of asbestos-containing products in buildings. According to the petition: “the most high-risk settings are schools and hospitals.” Continuing its head-in-the-sand policy, a government spokesperson said action would only be taken “if there is compelling evidence that the increase in exposure for workers removing asbestos is justified in terms of reduced risk to building users.” See: UK government rejects asbestos removal petition.
 

Mesothelioma: from Carers’ Perspective

Oct 5, 2023

A paper uploaded last week in an international journal reported the experiences of the carers of patients with malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM) from France, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom. Several key results of the research were presented, with the authors of the paper concluding that: “caregiving for patients with MPM involves a range of burdensome tasks that impact caregivers' emotional health and work…. Innovations in the management of MPM must account for how caregivers may be impacted and can be supported to carry out this important role.” See: Caregivers of patients with malignant pleural mesothelioma: who provides care, what care do they provide and what burden do they experience?
 

Asbestos in UK Naval Ships

Oct 5, 2023

The article cited below appeared in the Russian media. It reported on news contained in an article in The Times newspaper. As the original English article is behind a pay wall, we are citing the Russian article. According to James Cartlidge, the UK’s Minister of Defense: “Royal Navy frigates, destroyers and nuclear-armed submarines may all contain asbestos.” Included amongst the affected naval vessels are Type 45 destroyers, Type 23 frigates, Duke minesweepers and one Astute-class submarine; asbestos is also present in 28 Wildcat helicopters. See: В Великобритании заявили о наличии ядовитого асбеста в кораблях ВМС [The presence of toxic asbestos in Navy ships has been reported in the UK].
 

Asbestos-related Lung Cancer, Jury Victory

Oct 5, 2023

It was announced on September 12, 2023, that a $38 million judgment had been awarded to a man suffering from asbestos-related lung cancer. A New York jury ruled that his disease had been caused by workplace exposures to asbestos at construction demolition sites. Over a period of 20 years, the 66-year old plaintiff had done a lot of work on boilers and the defendant in this case – Burnham LLC, a US boiler company – was found 85% responsible for the injuries sustained. Fifteen per cent of the damages were deducted as the worker had a history of smoking. See: $38 Million Verdict for Smoker with Lung Cancer from Asbestos.
 

Toxic Shipbreaking on the Beaches

Oct 2, 2023

The insightful article cited below was uploaded on September 28, 2023 by Human Rights Watch. The text documented the deadly price paid by workers in Bangladesh’s shipbreaking yards who are routinely exposed to dangerous substances and unsafe conditions without even the most basic of protective equipment. One of the occupational hazards is asbestos. According to a report issued by the Bangladesh Occupational Safety, Health, and Environment Foundation (2017) more than one third of shipbreaking workers reported experiencing health complications from asbestos exposures. See: Trading Lives for Profit: How the Shipping Industry Circumvents Regulations to Scrap Toxic Ships on Bangladesh’s Beaches.
 

Asbestos on the McGill Campus

Oct 2, 2023

The third story in an ongoing series of articles about asbestos in The Tribune – a student newspaper at Canada’s McGill University – was uploaded on September 26, 2023. The article documented the fear and outrage of McGill students and staff members who spoke out at an Asbestos Town Hall meeting on September 22. “Some of us,” said PhD student Hiba Kamel “are traumatized. Some of us have actually interacted with the dust... It’s nothing short of criminal to not even tell people that ‘hey, this building has asbestos.’” Deep Saini, the Principal of McGill, admitted that there had been a “broad-scale process failure.” See: “Some of us are traumatized”: McGill student pleas over asbestos exposure.
 

New Mesothelioma Assessment Protocol?

Oct 2, 2023

The article cited below by Professor of Lung Cancer & Mesothelioma Daniel Murphy from Glasgow University included information about the occurrence and causation of mesothelioma and an update on progress by UK researchers into learning about the disease and how to treat mesothelioma patients. Murphy was hopeful that the development of “genetically engineered mouse models of Mesothelioma that combine controlled introduction of the same mutations that commonly arise in human Mesothelioma with a single injection of Asbestos to incorporate chronic inflammation in our models,” would help researchers “distinguish high risk from low risk of Mesothelioma development, enabling earlier treatment of high-risk patients than is currently possible…” See: The risk of malignant pleural mesothelioma.
 

Initiative to Raise Mesothelioma Awareness

Oct 2, 2023

To spread awareness of Japan’s mesothelioma epidemic, the Tokyo-based NGO Mesothelioma, Pneumoconiosis, and Asbestos Center has set up a competition which will begin receiving applications from October 1. Entrants can submit their work under one of four categories: photos, essays, literary arts and research promotion. The pieces will be judged by their effectiveness in raising public awareness of the signature cancer associated with asbestos exposure. Monetary prizes will be given to the successful competitors. See: アスベスト問題を未来の世代にもわかりやすく 写真や文芸に賞を創設 [Establishment of awards for photography and literature to make asbestos issues easier to understand for future generations].
 

Successful Ruling in Mesothelioma Case

Oct 2, 2023

Last week, Palermo’s Court of Appeal overturned the decision of a court in Marsala, Italy which had denied compensation to a mesothelioma widow. The Appeal Court ordered INAIL – Italy’s Institute for Insurance against Accidents at Work – to pay €45,000 (US$48,000) for the 2020 death of the shipyard worker from Trapani, Sicily. See: Trapani, Mori per L’Amianto: L’INAIL Condannara a Risarcire I Familiari di un Operaio [Trapani, Died from Asbestos: INAIL Condemned to Compensate the Family members of a Worker].
 

Award for Council Training Program

Oct 2, 2023

On September 15, 2023, it was announced that a one-day training program for council employees to increase their ability to identify and manage asbestos had won an award from the government of the Australian State of New South Wales. The instruction included information on a variety of matters such as legislative, regulatory requirements, site risk assessment, identification, types of asbestos, PPE requirements and notification requirements. One of the designers of the course said that it: “better equips local government officers across the state with the basics so that they can quickly determine the safest course of action when they’re called out to an inspection or identify asbestos in waste materials and landfill.” See: Asbestos course for council workers wins training award.
 

Post-earthquake Asbestos Hazard

Sep 29, 2023

A 7+ minute video uploaded on September 25, 2023 to the website of a German public service broadcaster detailed the environmental disaster now being endured by survivors of the February earthquakes which devastated Turkish towns earlier this year. Investigations carried out in Hatay Province showed the presence of airborne asbestos near temporary camps providing shelter to the homeless. Building rubble dumped in waste sites near containers used for housing and near a high school was also found to contain asbestos as did samples collected from the car of the investigators. See: Turkey: Asbestos contamination could lead to many more deaths after the earthquake.
 

British Tanks Sent to Ukraine Toxic

Sep 29, 2023

Scores of Russian articles like the one cited below were uploaded on September 22/23, 2023 reporting news published in the British tabloid, the Daily Express, that 2,000 pieces of military equipment sent to Ukraine by Britain could contain asbestos. Amongst the contaminated items were Challenger 2 tanks, Warrior infantry fighting vehicles and Bulldog armored personnel carriers. See: СМИ узнали, какой ядовитый "сюрприз" зашит в британской технике, отправленной для ВСУ [The media found out what a poisonous “surprise” was incorporated within British equipment sent to the Armed Forces of Ukraine].
 

The Recife Charter

Sep 29, 2023

At a meeting of asbestos victims and experts which took place in the Brazilian city of Recife, in the State of Pernambuca earlier this month, participants issued a document called the “Recife Charter” which demanded that workers who had been exposed to asbestos by their employer be provided with the free medical care mandated by Brazilian Law 9,055/1995. Asbestos-injured employees and their family members said that the Brasilit/Saint-Gobain company in Pernambuco was not fulfilling this legal obligation, as a result of which the injured were not able to access medical care. See: Associação Pernambucana dos Expostos ao amianto (APEA) Carta de Recife [Pernambuca Association of those Exposed to Asbestos (APEA) Recife Charter].
 

Protecting Workers from Asbestos

Sep 29, 2023

A September 22, 2023 briefing uploaded by the European Parliament explained recent developments intended to improve asbestos protections for European workers; historic exposures to asbestos are responsible for 70,000 deaths of Europeans every year. A proposal to lower the mandatory occupational exposure limit for asbestos was approved by the European Parliament’s Committee on Employment and Social Affairs on September 7, 2023. In October, there will be a vote on the first reading of the revised Directive. See: Protection of workers from asbestos at work briefing.
 

Asbestos Anxiety Compensation

Sep 29, 2023

On September 21, 2023, an asbestos victims’ group in Toulon received news from Frédéric Boccaletti, a member of the National Assembly representing the constituency of Var – home to seafarers who’d been exposed to asbestos at the shipyards of La Seyne-sur-Mer and the military arsenal. Boccaletti said the Minister of the Armed Forces had agreed to streamline the process for seafarers to obtain compensation for asbestos anxiety. As the current levels of compensation were insufficient, Boccaletti said, he planned to lobby the Minister for an increase. See: Marins exposés à l’amiante: une procédure assouplie monter un dossier d'indemnisation pour le préjudice moral d’anxiété [Seafarers exposed to asbestos: a relaxed procedure for preparing a compensation case for anxiety moral damage].
 

RAAC and Asbestos in Schools

Sep 29, 2023

The commentary cited below examined the double whammy posed to school users by the presence of reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC) and asbestos throughout the UK. Both substances were widely used from the 1950s through the 1990s so it is not uncommon to find that schools contain both. If a building collapses due to the deterioration of RAAC, the damage could very well liberate asbestos fibers into the air. “I believe,” wrote the author that “we should now be moving the debate firmly away from managing asbestos in school buildings to a proactive management approach of systematic removal – and this latest issue clearly demonstrates why.” See: Concrete closure fiasco is yet another reason asbestos has no place in our schools.
 

Asbestos Alert to Homeowners!

Sep 25, 2023

An article uploaded to a Kenyan news portal last week warned members of the public of the dangers posed by using potentially toxic building products in order to decrease the construction price of a new home. The author of the article cited below said that despite the fact that Kenya had banned the use of asbestos in 2006 – this fact remains unsubstantiated – the use of asbestos-cement roofing continued. When this material is disturbed it can release “fibers into the air. Exposure to air containing the fibers increases the risk of inhaling the fibers and developing the associated diseases…” See: Asbestos Roofing: Banned & Cancerous Material Kenyans Are Still Using.
 

Asbestos Trade Data 2023

Sep 25, 2023

New global trade data for the asbestos industry was uploaded in August 2023 to the website of the United States Geological Survey (USGS). This data is best viewed as an indication of trends; as the raw data are sourced from national governments, the figures are not always reliable. Various points of interests included: global production increased in 2022 from 1.28m tonnes (t) in 2021 to 1.33mt with Russia still the biggest producer; five countries accounted for 85% of all asbestos consumed: India, China, Russia, Uzbekistan and Indonesia; consumption in Russia jumped by nearly 60% from 2021 to 2022 – it is not known whether this asbestos was used or warehoused due to difficulties with export shipments as a result of Western sanctions over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. See: USGS Global Asbestos Trade Data.
 

José Alberto Siqueira Ate Asbestos

Sep 25, 2023

A rather curious article was uploaded on September 19, 2023 to a news portal in the Brazilian State of Minas Gerais; it told the tale of a truck driver who had ingested asbestos fibers after a traffic accident in 1987. When his truck overturned, eight tons of asbestos were scattered on the highway. To reassure reporters on the scene concerned about the hazard posed by the scattered asbestos, driver José Alberto Siqueira ate a handful of it. Now 77 years old, Siqueira told a journalist that he wouldn’t eat asbestos now. See: Estado de Minas descobre vivo o homem que comeu amianto [State of Minas discovers man who ate asbestos alive].
 

Asbestos Roofing Toxicity Reminder

Sep 25, 2023

Asbestos roofing which is popular in Indonesia has been banned in many parts of the world because of the health hazard it poses to workers who handle it and people who live in buildings containing it. The article cited below reviewed the content of a short video about this subject uploaded to YouTube which explained that exposure to asbestos fibers liberated by toxic roofing could cause a number of cancers as well as respiratory diseases. See: Kenapa Atap Asbes Dilarang? Awas Bahaya Penyakit Paru-paru yang Tidak [Why is asbestos roofing banned? Beware of the Dangers of Incurable Lung Disease].
 

Asbestos in Municipal Water Delivery System

Sep 25, 2023

Danny Johnson, the Mayor of the US city of Marked Tree, announced last week that the authorities in Arkansas had secured a $500,000 grant from the United States Department of Agriculture for the removal of 50-year old asbestos water pipes from the urban infrastructure. Work on the upgrade of the town’s water delivery system will begin in January 2024. According to the National Cancer Institute, asbestos is a human carcinogen. This is why the town routinely monitors the quality of the water. See: City working to remove asbestos from water pipes.
 

Asbestos in Schools: Update

Sep 25, 2023

An electronic bulletin circulated on September 20, 2023 by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) announced that the: “HSE will be carrying out a programme of inspections of primary and secondary schools in England, Scotland and Wales from October 2023 onwards.” The majority of UK schools contain asbestos material and the hazard this poses to children and staff has been front-page news in light of the discovery this summer of deteriorating reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC) in more than 150 schools. HSE inspectors will be contacting schools before the asbestos audits are carried out to arrange a suitable date and time for the inspections.
 

Asbestos at the Bank

Sep 22, 2023

A decision last week by the Rome Court of Appeal ordered Italy’s National Institute for Insurance against Accidents at Work (INAIL) to pay compensation of €200,000 (US$213,400) plus a life-time annuity to a 44-year old bank worker who contracted mesothelioma after exposure to asbestos at the San Paolo bank where he had been employed for 14 years. INAIL had challenged the ruling of a lower court which had also supported the victim’s claim. See: Amianto nella filiale in cui lavorava, mesotelioma a 44 anni. L’Inail dovrà risarcire il dipendente della banca [Asbestos in the branch where he worked, mesothelioma at 44 years old. Inail will have to compensate the bank employee].
 

Toxic Talc!

Sep 22, 2023

An exclusive feature by Steve Boggan in the Saturday September 16, 2023 issue of the Daily Mail detailed how the incurable cancer contracted by 48-year old Hannah Fletcher had been caused by her use of cosmetic products containing asbestos fibers. To avoid going to court, this summer, American manufacturers Avon and Estee Lauder, and its subsidiary Clinique, reached a confidential settlement with Hannah who, before her mesothelioma diagnosis in 2016, had held senior executive positions with NatWest, Visa and other well-known firms. See: Your makeup may be killing you like it's killing me: City high-flyer and mother of two Hannah was diagnosed with incurable cancer that she blames on the cosmetics she enjoyed since childhood.
 

Supporting Gwangju’s Asbestos Victims

Sep 22, 2023

On September 19, 2023 officials in Gwangju City, in the southwest of South Korea, announced an expansion of the city’s efforts to support citizens who contract asbestos-related diseases as a result of environmental exposures, including those who had lived near asbestos-using factories. The municipality is increasing its budgetary allocation for its asbestos relief program and streamlining the application process to ensure swift payment of benefits – within 60 days – to victims and/or bereaved family members. See: 광주시, 석면피해 구제급여 확대한다 [Gwangju City expands relief benefits for asbestos damage].
 

Mesothelioma Case to Proceed

Sep 22, 2023

A motion by the defendant Avondale for the dismissal of a personal injury mesothelioma case on the grounds that the action was pre-empted by federal law was dismissed on September 8, 2023, by the US District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana. As a result of the findings cited in the three-page verdict, litigation by surviving family members of the deceased shipyard worker Felton Robichaux will proceed. The late Mr Robichaux had been exposed to asbestos whilst employed at Avondale Shipyard from 1961 to 1979 as an insulator and carpenter. See: US District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana Verdict Robinchaux, et al. versus Huntington Ingalls Inc. September 8, 2023.
 

Asbestos Risks Highlighted in Video

Sep 22, 2023

A five-minute video uploaded to youtube on September 17, 2023 by the NGO Indonesian Ban Asbestos Network explained why the continued use of asbestos posed a deadly health risk to members of the public as well as to workers, especially in light of the numerous natural disasters which occur in the country. Dr Anna Suraya explained that exposure to asbestos can cause a variety of diseases including mesothelioma (cancer) and asbestosis. Seventy per cent of the asbestos used worldwide every year is consumed in Asian countries; most of the asbestos used in Indonesia is for the manufacture of building materials. See: Kenapa Rumah di Indonesia Masih Tetap Pakai Atap Asbes? Ini Jawabannya [Why Do Houses in Indonesia Still Use Asbestos Roofs? Here’s the Answer].
 

Asbestos Legacy in the Marche Region

Sep 22, 2023

The Italian city of Pesaro has announced plans to streamline efforts to eradicate the asbestos hazard by the inauguration of a bipartisan asbestos task force. An asbestos helpdesk will be run by the municipality to seek practical assistance as well as financial support from national and European sources for efforts to deal with the deadly contamination posed by decades of asbestos use. Local councillors will work closely with communities to ensure that all voices are heard in this potentially life-saving initiative. See: Una task force da schierare contro i rischi dell’amianto [Task force to be deployed against the risks of asbestos].
 

Asbestos Meeting in Qinghai

Sep 21, 2023

The annual meeting of China’s Asbestos Trade Association – the Chrysotile Asbestos Professional Committee (the Committee) – took place earlier this month. The remit of the Committee is to promote asbestos sales; expand the industry; and support the industry’s best interests. Presentations and recommendations made during the event considered measures to preserve the status quo so that the use of asbestos-based products in China could continue. Asbestos mines in China, the world’s third largest asbestos producer, are in Qinghai, Xinjiang, Shanxi, Gansu and Yunnan Provinces. See: 专家“会诊”为温石棉产业高质量发展献计 [Expert “consultation” provides suggestions for the high-quality development of the chrysotile asbestos industry].
 

Asbestos Debate in House of Commons

Sep 21, 2023

A debate on September 13, 2023 took place in the House of Commons pursuant to a 10-minute rule motion on a Bill to “to provide for a national register of asbestos present in non-domestic premises and of the condition of that asbestos; and for connected purposes.” According to Conservative MP Andrew Percy: “The Health and Safety Executive has said that between 210,000 and 400,000 buildings in the UK contain asbestos. Other estimates suggest 6 million tonnes of asbestos are spread across 1.5 million buildings in this country.” See: Hansard September 13, 2023: Asbestos (National Register).
 

Teachers Lawsuit over Asbestos Protest

Sep 21, 2023

Three teachers in Philadelphia – Ethan Tannen, Carolyn Gray and Karen Celli – who held outdoor lessons to manifest their concern over teaching in a school contaminated with asbestos issued a class action lawsuit against the School District of Philadelphia last month. The claimants alleged that the district had violated their First Amendment rights after the protest by docking their wages “for unauthorized absences” from the Julia R. Masterman Laboratory and Demonstration School. See: Philadelphia teachers sue district for First Amendment rights violation over asbestos protests.
 

Asbestos Victims Fund

Sep 21, 2023

Belgium’s Asbestos Fund – set up in 2007 to streamline the payment of compensation to asbestos claimants without the need for legal action – paid out more than €20 million (US$21.3m) to 1,560 victims and relatives in 2022; 959 of the claims arose over cases of mesothelioma, 70% of the injured came from Flanders. In 2021, the fund paid out a total of €20.7m to 1,602 claimants. Victims of asbestos cancer receive €1,865/month and, since 2019, are eligible for a lump sum one-off payment of €10,200 (US$10,880). See: Le Fonds amiante a payé plus de 20 millions d'euros aux victimes et proches en 2022 [The Asbestos Fund paid more than €20 million to victims and relatives in 2022].
 

Protest over Asbestos Crimes

Sep 21, 2023

On September 12, 2023, a group of activists in Wonju City – in South Korea’s Gangwon Province – held a press conference in front of the Wonju Academy Theater, where they said that: “asbestos removal was carried out illegally…” in violation of provisions of the Occupational Safety and Health Act and the Asbestos Safety Management Act. As a result of unsafe practices by contractors, workers as well as members of the public and local business people were exposed to asbestos fibers. Officials ordered demolition work to cease until a plan was approved to ensure the safety of all concerned. See: "아카데미극장 석면 불법 철거…주민·상인 1급 발암물질 노출" [“Illegal demolition of asbestos at the Academy Theatre... Exposure of residents and merchants to class 1 carcinogens”].
 

Medical Expert Sues J&J

Sep 21, 2023

Last week, lawyers for Dr Jacqueline Moline asked a federal court in Trenton, New Jersey to throw out a lawsuit by Johnson and Johnson (J&J) they said was intended to “intimidate” her as part of the company’s campaign to defend itself from tens of thousands of asbestos cancer claims. J&J filed the suit in May 2023 over research published by Dr Moline in 2019 that linked the use of cosmetic talc products and cancer. The doctor said that her research was sound and that she was entitled under the First Amendment to the right of free speech. See: Doctor asks court to toss J&J lawsuit against her over cancer research.
 

Nasopharyngeal cancer in Minas Gerais

Sep 18, 2023

In Minas Gerais, the family of a Brazilian worker who died from nasopharyngeal cancer was awarded R$600,000 (US$124,420) for moral and material damages, by Labor Judge Luciana Jacob Monteiro de Castro, who ruled that his death had been caused by workplace exposures to asbestos. Previous courts had rejected the case saying that the link between asbestos exposure and cancer had not been proved. See: Família de empregado vítima do amianto será indenizada em meio milhão [Family of employee victim of asbestos will be compensated half a million].
 

Asbestos Legacy of 9/11

Sep 18, 2023

On the anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, the Italian article cited below highlighted the repercussions from the events on that day. Amongst the pollutants such as lead, mercury and benzene released by the attack were 400 hundred tons of asbestos, a known carcinogen. Based on estimates by health experts, up to 525,000 people inhaled asbestos liberated by the attack in NYC, the majority of whom were first responders or clean-up workers. The effects of these exposures won’t be known, in full, till at least 2041. See: 11 settembre, gli effetti dell’amianto sono problematiche ancora oggi [September 11th, the effects of asbestos [released] are still problematic today].
 

Asbestos Alert to Miners!

Sep 18, 2023

As a result of its asbestos mines, Zimbabwe is most definitely in the pro-asbestos camp. It was, therefore, somewhat of a curiosity to read the article cited below which highlighted the hazard posed by occupational asbestos exposures during mining. The relevant extract in an article about various health hazards in the mining industry said: “Asbestos exposure occurs among asbestos miners and in other mines where asbestos is found in the ore. Among miners throughout the world, exposure to asbestos has elevated the risk of lung cancer and mesothelioma. It has also elevated the risk of asbestosis (another pneumoconiosis) and of airways disease.” See: Health hazards of mining, quarrying.
 

Scotland’s Asbestos Legacy

Sep 18, 2023

A report published this month entitled Tackling Scotland’s Workplace Ill-Health Crisis by the British Occupational Hygiene Society (BOHS) highlighted the doubling of the incidence of work-related sickness in Scotland this decade; the cost to the Scottish economy exceeded a billion pounds/year. The authors pointed out that the rate of asbestos-related cancers was increasing among Scotland’s female workers. Recommendations made included some fairly basic measures to improve workplace conditions. See: Scottish workplace health crisis revealed in BOHS report.
 

Asbestos Sheds: A National Concern

Sep 18, 2023

At the start of Asbestos-Free Shed Week, the Association of Dutch Municipalities called on homeowners to remove asbestos, which it said was a “major problem.” The Association estimated that thousands of sheds in Holland built prior to 1994 could contain asbestos. A coalition made up of municipalities, nature groups and the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management is backing a campaign to eradicate this hazard, suggesting that in many cases people can remove the asbestos cheaply and safely by themselves following instructions given in an online video. Following the end, in December 2018, of a subsidy scheme, the rate at which asbestos roofing was removed fell dramatically. See: Homeowners urged to remove asbestos shed roofs.
 

Asbestos in Schools

Sep 18, 2023

A commentary by Adam Page, a lecturer from the University of Lincoln, contrasted the ongoing scandal over the presence of reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC) in public buildings with the furore in the 1980s over the presence of asbestos in schools. In the face of assurances from the authorities and officials about the safety of the schools, local communities were proactive in mounting high-profile actions demanding safe schools for children. The work of veteran asbestos campaigner Nancy Tait was referenced, citing her support for the actions of people in the Enfield Borough of London. See: Concrete crisis: officials thought asbestos in schools was safe too – the same mistakes have been made over Raac.
 

Asbestos Public Health Risk

Sep 14, 2023

A paper documenting the findings of Japanese researchers regarding the public health risk of living in proximity to a large-scale asbestos-cement production facility in Amagasaki, Japan was uploaded to the PubMed search engine in July 2023. The scientists observed “an increasing, dose-dependent risk of mesothelioma death associated with neighborhood exposure… A quantitative assessment for risk of mesothelioma deaths, adjusting for occupational and non-occupational exposures separately, showed a dose-dependent association with neighborhood exposure and no substantial gender differences in magnitude.” See: Association of mesothelioma deaths with neighborhood asbestos exposure due to a large-scale asbestos-cement plant.
 

Asbestos & RAAC in Schools

Sep 14, 2023

Research by the Observer newspaper published on September 10, 2023 revealed significant errors by the government, which had failed to ensure that buildings purchased to house new schools were safe for use. As a result of these omissions, structures were purchased, intended for development as community free schools, which contained asbestos as well as reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC). Two such facilities were the Michaela Community School in London and the Parkfield free school in Bournemouth; no asbestos surveys were undertaken prior to their purchase. See: UK government did not carry out detailed surveys before it bought free schools sites.
 

New Mesothelioma Diagnostic Tool

Sep 14, 2023

According to material presented last week at the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer World Conference 2023 in Singapore by Belgian researchers, a new non-invasive method for screening people for malignant pleural mesothelioma has been developed by researchers in Antwerp, in which exhaled breath is analyzed for the presence of predictive biomarkers. Although optimistic about the utility of the new tool, researcher Dr Kevin Lamote said that “larger population studies are required.” See: Exhaled breath analysis shows promise in detecting malignant pleural mesothelioma.
 

Increasing Asbestos Protections

Sep 14, 2023

In an attempt to reduce the number of deaths from asbestos exposures in British Columbia, the Provincial Government in 2022 introduced amendments to the Workers Compensation Act, mandating that asbestos abatement employers register with WorkSafeBC to obtain asbestos abatement licenses. All licensed companies will be listed on an online public registry which can be accessed by businesses, contractors, workers and property owners. BC is the first Canadian Province to introduce such a scheme. As of January 1, 2024, any operative performing asbestos abatement work must undertake training to obtain a certificate from WorkSafeBC. See: WorkSafeBC now accepting applications for asbestos abatement licenses.
 

Builders’ Policies Bar Asbestos Claims

Sep 14, 2023

Decree No. 67/2023/ND-CP dated September 6, 2023 of the Vietnam Government mandated that the insurance liability limit for workers on construction sites be set at 100 million Vietnamese dong, or US$4162.00. There are multiple exclusions on these policies including claims related to exposure to asbestos or materials containing it. Although asbestos exemptions are not unusual, the fact that Vietnam is one of Asia’s largest asbestos consumers and that most asbestos is used in building materials is of serious concern for people working in the construction sector. See: Giới hạn trách nhiệm bảo hiểm bắt buộc với người lao động trên công trường là 100 triệu đồng/người/vụ [The limit of compulsory insurance liability for workers on a construction site is 100 million VND/person/case].
 

Fly-tipped Waste at Country Park

Sep 14, 2023

Environment Canterbury issued a warning after materials containing asbestos were identified in New Zealand’s Waimakariri River Regional Park. The toxic debris was found on the banks of the Waimakariri River, one of the largest rivers in Canterbury, on the eastern coast of the South Island. According to a spokesperson for Environment Canterbury: “The parks team are planning to put concrete blocks around the area to stop people from accessing the contaminated area.” The park remained open, although the contaminated dump site was off-limits to the public. See: Asbestos found on Waimakariri river bank.
 

Asbestos on the Subway

Sep 11, 2023

The deadly consequences of asbestos contained in subway cars used in the public transit system of Buenos Aires – which transports 1.3 million people every day – were delineated through the eyes of 53-year old Martin Paredes, who contracted lung cancer after years of toxic workplace exposures. He is not alone among his workmates in suffering from an asbestos-related condition. Municipal representatives deny that the subway system is contaminated with asbestos although it is an established fact that Buenos Aires bought 36 subway cars from the Madrid Metro, which is known to be engaged in an asbestos eradication program of its system. See: City purchased asbestos-infected train cars, workers fell ill and died from the contamination.
 

The Tragic Legacy of “White Gold”

Sep 11, 2023

Canadians are paying a high price for their commercial exploitation of asbestos – nicknamed “white gold” due to its importance to the Quebec and Canadian economies. Historic asbestos exposures are responsible for thousands of cases of cancers and respiratory diseases not only amongst building workers and others in the construction industry who handled asbestos material, but also amongst teachers and nurses who worked in schools and hospitals where it was installed. According to provincial statistics, asbestos is still Canada’s biggest workplace killer. See: Asbestos in Canada: A forgotten killer remains at large.
 

Update: RAAC & Asbestos in Schools

Sep 11, 2023

As was to be expected, the furore over crumbling concrete material known as RAAC – reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete – has been exacerbated by the presence of asbestos in the majority of UK schools. One legal expert commented: “It is a serious concern that there is crumbling concrete within schools and hospital buildings but, as we have known for many years, asbestos materials are present in a significant number of UK schools and hospital premises and yet this doesn’t seem to be a priority to be dealt with.” See: Concerns over asbestos in schools amid RAAC concrete crisis.
 

Nephews of Asbestos Victim File Lawsuit

Sep 11, 2023

On September 6, 2023, the nephews of an electrician from Hyogo who died aged 78 from mesothelioma filed a lawsuit with the Kobe District Court, claiming damages of 14 million yen (US$95,000) from a government scheme which excluded anyone other than close family from eligibility to compensation. According to their lawyer, the deceased did not receive the money he was owed from the construction asbestos benefits scheme because of bureaucratic delays; he had no children and it was right for the money to go to his nephews who regarded him as a father. See: 叔父がアスベストで死亡『姪らが給付金受け取れないのは不当』と国に損害賠償求め提訴 [Uncle dies of asbestos, “It is unfair that nephews cannot receive benefits” so they sue the government for damages].
 

New Mesothelioma Data

Sep 11, 2023

Data from Italy’s Mesothelioma Registry made public on June 30, 2023, confirmed the deadly price still being paid by Italians for the country’s historic mining and consumption of asbestos. In the Emilia-Romagna region, the new figures show that the city of Reggio Emilia had the region’s worst incidence of mesothelioma with 12 cases diagnosed in the first six months of 2023. Bologna is the country’s worst asbestos hotspot with Reggio Emilia the second. See: Mesoteliomi da amianto: Reggio Emilia prima in regione per nuovi casi. VIDEO [Asbestos mesotheliomas: Reggio Emilia first in the region for new cases. VIDEO].
 

Asbestos Anxiety Proceedings in Rouen

Sep 11, 2023

On September 6, 2023, a trial started in the Labor Court in Rouen, France, where 131 former employees who had been exposed to asbestos at a paper mill owned by DS Smith were claiming compensation for injuries due to asbestos anxiety. Half of the company’s former employees have been recognized as suffering from asbestos-related conditions such as cancers of the lung, larynx and stomach and cases of “inexcusable fault” have been fought and won against this company. See: Procès de l’amiante à Rouen: “On va travailler pour gagner sa vie, pas pour la perdre” [Asbestos Trial in Rouen: “We will work to earn a living, not to lose it”].
 

RAAC & Asbestos in Schools

Sep 6, 2023

As the government mounted a public show of action to get to grips with the crisis posed by the identification of crumbling reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC) material throughout the school estate, technical and engineering experts warned that the presence of asbestos in most school buildings would almost certainly complicate the capacity to undertake the repair work needed to make the structures safe for use. Asbestos victims groups’ representatives, campaigners from the Asbestos in Schools Group and the Joint Union Asbestos Committee, technical experts and others have been warning about the asbestos hazard in schools for decades. See: How asbestos could slow efforts to fix crumbling concrete in English schools.
 

Calls for Asbestos Eradication Program

Sep 6, 2023

The editorial, which is cited below, appeared on September 4, 2023 on a Uganda news portal. The editor accused the government of “dragging its feet” on the threat to children posed by asbestos contamination of the country’s schools. Asbestos roofing is a fact of life in Uganda with military barracks, medical centers and other public buildings also contaminated with asbestos material. The author of this text, who quoted World Health Organization data showing the hazard posed by exposures to asbestos, called on the government to implement a nationwide plan to remediate the threat to Ugandans. See: Deliver us from asbestos, oh govt.
 

World Bank Calls for Action on Asbestos

Sep 6, 2023

During a September 4, 2023 session of the Second Berlin Forum on Chemicals and Sustainability “Just Transition Towards a Pollution-free Planet,” Richard Damania – a spokesperson for the World Bank – said that asbestos was one of five chemical pollutants that required immediate global action to protect humanity and the environment. Damania said that asbestos-related mortality in Low and Middle Income Countries (LMICs) is likely to reach 500,000 by 2050; it was currently 168,000 in high income countries and 71,000 in LMICs. See: Second Berlin Forum on Chemicals and Sustainability: “Just Transition Towards a Pollution-free Planet”.
 

The Long Asbestos Legacy

Sep 6, 2023

Despite having banned the use of asbestos in 1989, asbestos-related mortality continues to rise in Switzerland; most buildings and much of the transport infrastructure remain contaminated. Progress in removing asbestos-containing material is very slow. As of 2020, the Swiss Institute for Accident Insurance (SUVA) recorded 2,700 deaths caused by workplace asbestos exposures, of which 2,300 were from mesothelioma. SUVA believes that 3,300 more mesothelioma deaths are expected to occur by 2040. See: L’amiante reste un problème en Suisse, plus de 30 ans après son interdiction [Asbestos remains a problem in Switzerland, more than 30 years after its ban].
 

Asbestos in Schools

Sep 6, 2023

In a reply to a question asked by Horatio Hendricks, a member of the Eastern Cape Provincial Legislature, Fundile Gade, the Eastern Cape’s Member of the Executive Council for Education said that of the 1075 schools assessed in the Province, 836 had been found to have some asbestos-containing material. According to Gade, it would cost R3.87 billion to eradicate the asbestos hazard which was “almost twice the allocation of the total Education Infrastructure Grant for three financial years.” In 2022, Gade revealed that his department did not have an asbestos policy and had no idea how much the remediation of the schools would cost. See: Over 800 EC schools still contain asbestos materials.
 

The Global Asbestos Panorama

Sep 6, 2023

A 9-minute upload to the online portal of DW, a German public broadcast service, on September 2, 2023 considered the impact of asbestos use in Germany and abroad. Massive asbestos usage in Germany in the 1970s and 1980s resulted in 1,300 deaths per year nowadays from asbestos-related diseases (ARDs) even though asbestos was banned decades ago. In many industrializing countries, asbestos consumption remains legal. India is the world’s biggest asbestos consumer and imported 408,000 tonnes of raw fiber in 2021. Experts believe that 50,000 people die every year in India from ARDs and that millions more Indians will contract ARDs in the decades to come. See: Why asbestos still remains a global hazard.
 

Asbestos in Schools

Sep 4, 2023

The front page of the September 3, 2023 issue of The Sunday Times raised the asbestos spectre amidst fears over the closure of many schools due to the hazard posed by deteriorating reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete material (RAAC). According to Engineer Max Byatt: “There are two real risk-to-life elements to this: if RAAC collapses it puts life at risk in an instantaneous manner: and asbestos can be deadly if it is inhaled.” This article, which is part of the newspaper’s campaign Action on Asbestos, reports that “scores of public buildings caught up in the crumbing concrete crisis are also likely to be riddled with deadly asbestos.” See: Sunday Times front page 3rd September 2023.
 

Asbestos on the Railways

Sep 4, 2023

At the end of August 2023, the Court of Palermo ordered Italy’s National Institute for Insurance against Accidents at Work to pay compensation of €200,000 (US$216,000) for the mesothelioma death of train driver Vincenzo Sabato to five children; his widow Giuseppa Consiglio died in 2022, having waited 15 years to see justice for her husband. The deceased had been exposed to asbestos for 30 years whilst employed by the State Railways. See: Amianto nelle Ferrovie: Il Tribunale di Palermo condanna l’INAIL a riconoscere rendita di 200mila euro ai familiari del palermitano Vincenzo Sabato [Asbestos in the Railways: The Court of Palermo orders INAIL to pay 200 thousand euros to the family members of Vincenzo Sabato from Palermo].
 

Researching Mesothelioma Treatments

Sep 4, 2023

A 12-minute podcast uploaded to the website of ABC Radio Perth on August 30, 2023, highlighted the importance of work being done by PhD student Faith Chang and others in Western Australia (WA) who are pursuing potentially life-saving research that could help mesothelioma patients like Ron McNally. Seventy-year year old Ron was diagnosed with the signature asbestos cancer a year ago, since when he has had various treatments, none of which slowed down the advance of the cancer. Faith is hoping to pioneer a landmark clinical trial in WA investigating the combined use of radiotherapy and immunotherapy to eradicate mesothelioma tumors; currently, few mesothelioma patients survive for more than 2 years. See: Ron is dying from mesothelioma, and Faith's research could help – but she needs funding for a trial.
 

Asbestos Removal In Limpopo

Sep 4, 2023

A nine-minute segment featuring a discussion with Basikopo Makamu, a Member of the Executive Council of South Africa’s Limpopo Province, was broadcast on the eNews Channel Africa on August 30, 2023. Although South Africa banned the production, manufacturing and use of all types of asbestos in 2008, asbestos products remain within many properties in Limpopo Province, particularly in roofing material. According to Makamu, the Province’s asbestos eradication program is now removing and replacing asbestos roofing on 1,500 homes, after which work will be undertaken on the remaining 9,000 contaminated properties. See: Use of asbestos is prohibited in SA since 2008.
 

Addressing the Asbestos Hazard or Not?

Sep 4, 2023

The excellent commentary by Alessandro Marinaccio of Italy’s National Institute for Insurance against Accidents at Work (Inail) which is cited below contrasted efforts to protect citizens in Italy from carcinogenic exposures to asbestos with the laissez-faire attitude to asbestos prevalent in countries such as China, India and Russia, where asbestos is regarded as just another raw material. To suppress public knowledge of the irresponsible and dangerous behaviour of governments, a policy of denial is routinely pursued which the author summed up as: “No data, no problem; no problem, no action.” See: Amianto, killer fantasma. In Cina, India e Russia è ancora legale. Uccide, ma non viene detto quanto [Asbestos, ghost killer. In China, India and Russia it is still legal. Kills, but it is not said to what extent].
 

Raising Regional Asbestos Awareness

Sep 4, 2023

The Asbestos National Strategic Plan Progress Report 2021-2022 of Australia’s Asbestos Eradication Agency was published in June 2023. It contained updates of steps taken, progress made and initiatives planned both in Australia and neighboring countries. Chapter 7 – International collaboration and leadership (pp. 57,58) – is of particular interest as it details work by Australian agencies and bodies with partnering organizations in South-East Asia and the Pacific region to spread awareness of the asbestos hazard and build grassroots support for national bans. See: Asbestos National Strategic Plan Progress Report 2021-2022.
 

Asbestos Hazard After the Earthquakes

Aug 31, 2023

The article cited below from the August 29th issue of the New Arab newsletter detailed the observations of Mathilde Warda after her visit to Turkey’s Hatay Province, which was devastated by the February 2023 earthquakes. She described the environmental hazard left after the disaster, highlighting the risk posed by asbestos contained in the building debris: “the Turkish Chamber of Environmental Engineers analyzed eight samples [of building waste] from various locations in April and found asbestos in four of them, indicating a potential threat to public safety.” According to civil society activist Ümit Güç: “We are trying to educate people. We don't want children to die of asbestos in five years.” See: In earthquake-hit Turkey, toxic dust is the next big threat.
 

Asbestos Removal Program

Aug 31, 2023

In a press release issued on August 29, 2023 the Pingtung County government in southern Taiwan announced plans to implement a program to eradicate asbestos from 20,000 buildings in the locality. Even when building owners in Pintung removed asbestos in the past, they did not do so using experienced personnel or pursuant to rules to remove and dispose of the contaminated waste safely. The authorities in Pintung have applied to the Ministry of Environment for funding to carry out the program to remove asbestos from contaminated buildings. See: Pingtung funding removal of asbestos from buildings.
 

Asbestos Health Surveillance Project

Aug 31, 2023

Next month (September 2023), residents of eight wards of Jeju Island, South Korea's largest island, will be eligible to take part in an innovative health screening program run by the Ministry of Environment to identify members of the public adversely affected by historic asbestos exposures. Jeju Island is an asbestos hotspot because of the use and handling of asbestos-containing material at ship repair yards on the island. To be eligible, applicants must have lived in at-risk areas for 40 years. The tests will be carried out by personnel from the Asbestos Environmental Health Center of Cheonan Hospital of Sooncheonyang University. See: 제주도, 석면 노출 우려지역 무료 건강영향 조사 [Jeju Island, free health impact survey in areas of concern for asbestos exposure].
 

Sarnia’s Toxic Industrial Legacy

Aug 31, 2023

The commentary cited below was written by the daughter of Tom Schleihauf, a deceased Canadian electrician who had worked in a place known locally as Chemical Valley. Like many of his workmates in the small Ontario town of Sarnia, her father contracted the signature asbestos cancer mesothelioma from toxic workplace exposures. When he was first diagnosed with this disease, the emergency room doctor said: “There is something wrong with this town. This is a very sick town.” The feelings of the author regarding her home town are a combination of love for where she grew up and her family, and hate for the poison that killed her much-loved father. See: Sunsets and smokestacks: finding beauty in the city that stole my father's health.
 

Asbestos Exposures after Bridge Collapse

Aug 31, 2023

Charges brought by a union representing five emergency responders who were exposed to asbestos during life-saving interventions on August 14, 2018, after the collapse of Italy’s Morandi bridge, were dismissed by magistrates who ruled that the priority in the aftermath of the disaster was saving lives and that due to the emergency some rules did not apply. According to the Genoa Prosecutor: “the [environmental] checks never revealed asbestos levels beyond the risk thresholds.” See: Per amianto sotto il Morandi nessun reato, priorità salvare vite [For asbestos under Morandi no crime, priority to save lives].
 

Guilty Verdict for Asbestos Crimes

Aug 31, 2023

On August 24, 2023, Esskay Construction Ltd. was found guilty of breaching regulations 5, 11 and 16 of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 and fined £90,000 in absentia by the Staffordshire Magistrates Court for exposing people to asbestos during renovation work at an address on Brunswick Street in the Hanley area of Stoke-on-Trent. Commenting on the case, HSE inspector Will Gretton said: “HSE will not hesitate to take action where contractors are found to be flouting the law and putting people at risk. This case should serve as a reminder to those engaged in this type of work that they have responsibilities when it comes to managing the risks associated with asbestos.” See: Warrington firm fined by court for public asbestos exposure.
 

Asbestos: Laryngeal/Ovarian Cancer Link

Aug 28, 2023

A Decree of the French Government published on August 13, 2023 in the Official Journal formally acknowledged that primary laryngeal cancers, high-grade primary dysplasia of the larynx and primary ovarian cancers located in the ovary, tubal serosa, and peritoneal serosa can be caused by workplace exposures to asbestos. Despite banning asbestos in France in 1997, exposures to asbestos are the cause of the majority of occupational deaths, excluding accidents at work. See: Amiante : les cancers du larynx et de l’ovaire reconnus comme maladies professionnelles [Asbestos: cancers of the larynx and ovary recognized as occupational diseases].
 

Oncologist Calls for Asbestos Ban

Aug 28, 2023

At the launch of a lung screening program in Jakarta, Indonesia on August 24, 2023, the Head of the Oncology Working Group of the Indonesian Lung Doctors Association Dr Sita Laksmi Andarini said: “Asbestos is a serious carcinogenic hazard as are cigarettes…Asbestos in homes, it is a high risk factor for lung cancer.” Dr Andarini told participants at the meeting that there was no asbestos ban in Indonesia but that he felt such a ban was needed to protect the population from toxic exposures. See: Asbes Bisa Picu Kanker Paru, Tidak Dianjurkan Dipakai untuk Material Rumah [Asbestos Can Trigger Lung Cancer, Not Recommended for Use in Homes].
 

Asbestos Exposures in Shipbreaking

Aug 28, 2023

In the face of denials by the lobby representing the Bangladesh shipbreaking industry, non-government organizations have identified 30+ workers whose exposures to asbestos on the shipbreaking beaches had decreased their lung capacity by up to 60%. According to Syeda Rizwana Hasan, President of the Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association: “The ships that are older than 20 years contain asbestos in the engine room, boiler, and many other places where it requires heat and fire resistance… in our country the guidelines are not followed and asbestos is removed by the general workers who do not take any precautions. Not only that, the asbestos is later sold in the open market and to the cement factories.” See: Ship-breaking workers suffer lifelong illness due to asbestos exposure.
 

Delay in Processing Asbestos Claims

Aug 28, 2023

The system whereby individuals formerly exposed to asbestos at workplaces in France can retire early is not functioning as intended according to the article cited below. Until claims have been processed, applicants must continue working, even though their health may have been compromised by historic asbestos exposures. The process should take no longer than two months but according to research, claims from 140 asbestos victims were still waiting to be processed after the two-month deadline had expired. See: Allocation des travailleurs de l’amiante: des délais de nouveau à la hausse pour être indemnisés [Asbestos workers' allowance: delays in obtaining compensation again].
 

Case Study: How Not to Ban Asbestos

Aug 28, 2023

An article published on August 2, 2023 in the Annals of Global Health about the curious situation regarding Mongolia’s 2010 asbestos ban shone a light on how a measure implemented to protect occupational and public health was sunk by improper preparations. As a result of this, the authors explained, “main asbestos users such as power plants were not prepared to replace thermal insulation materials and were not aware of potential future health and economic consequences. This situation caused a step backward on asbestos control and allowed the use of asbestos again in 2011.” See: Mongolia: Failure of Total Banning of Asbestos.
 

FDA Taking on the Cosmetics Industry

Aug 28, 2023

Until 2022, the sale of cosmetics in the US was virtually unregulated. Last year, Congress gave the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authority over the industry. New FDA regulations will mandate that companies that market makeup, shampoo, nail polish etc. register the sites where their products were made and disclose the ingredients of individual products. The FDA is developing a standard for analysing whether talcum powder, found in baby powder and some cosmetics, contains asbestos. The FDA is authorized to order a mandatory recall of a cosmetic product if it identifies a serious health issue. See: F.D.A. Oversees Cosmetic Safety.
 

State Supreme Court Ruling

Aug 25, 2023

On August 3, 2023, the Supreme Court of the US State of Washington issued its ruling in a mesothelioma case brought by the family of deceased insulation worker Warren Wright. The Supreme Court confirmed the lower court (2021) and appeal court’s rulings awarding the family $4 million compensation reduced to $2.2m when compensation settlement payments from other defendants were off-set. Warren Wright had been employed by a contractor for Exxon in 1979 to remove asbestos insulation from pipes and equipment in an oil refinery. See: WAYNE WRIGHT, individually and as personal representative for the estate of WARREN WRIGHT, deceased v. EXXONMOBIL OIL COMPANY. [Case] No. 100768-0.
 

Asbestos Awareness Training: Upgrade

Aug 25, 2023

On August 23, 2023, the opening ceremony of the new headquarters of South Korea’s Asbestos Damage Prevention Support Center was held in the Yeonsu District of Incheon City. The Center provides awareness training for asbestos investigators and occupational safety personnel. Greeting all the well wishers, the Chairman of the Center Choi Mi-kyung said: “As an educational institution of the Ministry of Employment and Labor with the goal of protecting the safety of workers and citizens, we will strive to provide asbestos safety and health education to create a safe environment through communication and cooperation.” See: 석면피해예방지원센터, 연수구로 확장 이전 [Asbestos Damage Prevention Support Center relocates to Yeonsu-gu].
 

Ecocide Created by Russian War

Aug 25, 2023

The destruction left in the wake of the Russian invasion of Ukraine has created an environmental as well as a humanitarian disaster. Environmental expert Alexander Ignatenko believes that “every missile hit and destruction can be considered a mini ecocide by the Russian army.” Ukraine regulations regarding the disposal of building waste before the invasion were unsatisfactory; since the war, because of the amount of contaminated debris created – estimated to exceed 12 million tonnes much of which contains asbestos – the situation has worsened. See: ОТХОДЫ ВОЙНЫ: ЧТО ЭТО И ЧТО С НИМИ ДЕЛАЮТ В КРИВОМ РОГЕ [WAR WASTE: WHAT IS IT AND WHAT IS BEING DONE WITH IT IN KRIVOY ROG].
 

Asbestos Remediation and Redevelopment

Aug 25, 2023

The widespread use of asbestos in building materials in Italy, before this practice was banned in 1992, has left the country with a deadly legacy of toxic buildings. According to technical expert Giuseppe Celeste (General Manager of Recikla): “The removal of asbestos is an opportunity to redevelop the entire property or building from a structural point of view, but also from an energy point of view. It means taking advantage of concessions, optimizing the opportunity that the State offers starting from the reclamation of asbestos.” See: Recikla, Bari: “la bonifica dell’amianto è un iter oculato e delicato ma anche l’occasione per la riqualificazione del nostro patrimonio edilizio” [Recikla, Bari: “asbestos remediation is a prudent and delicate process but also an opportunity for the redevelopment of our building heritage”].
 

Toxic Waste Confusion

Aug 25, 2023

The delegation by the Government of Estonia of the disposal of hazardous waste – including asbestos cement material – to local authorities has created uncertainty and environmental concerns. According to the article cited below: “The [central] government has no plan to introduce a common system of hazardous waste collection.” The high price for legally disposing of contaminated waste in some locales encourages illegal fly-tipping. According to Deputy Mayor Kaarel Tang of Saaremaa Municipality: “We do not accept asbestos cement for free... It costs €40 per cubic meter to surrender asbestos cement for Tallinners and €60 for everyone else.” See: Estonia has no plans to handle hazardous waste collection centrally.
 

Asbestos Management in Mansfield School

Aug 25, 2023

Consent given this month by the local council has ensured that vital work will proceed at Mansfield’s Intake Farm Primary and Nursery School to replace an unsafe roof and address extensive asbestos contamination of the buildings. Toxic material in the building includes: asbestos textiles, paper and insulating boards located in the school’s entrance lobby, toilets, dining room, staff room, office, library and several classrooms. According to a council spokeswoman, affected classrooms were cordoned off last autumn with “absolutely no staff or pupils in them.” See: Asbestos removal and unsafe roof repairs approved in £1.2m plan for Mansfield school.
 

Preventing Occupational Diseases

Aug 23, 2023

The Department of Health of Hai Duong province in the North of Vietnam has launched a seven-year plan to reduce the incidence of occupationally-caused diseases, such as those experienced by people working with asbestos. The new measures, which are being introduced as the number of injured workers is rising, will include protocols for monitoring and supporting workers at risk of contracting asbestos and other occupationally-caused diseases. One of the aims of this new program is that 100% of labor establishments using asbestos will be supervised and monitored to ensure that they are operating according to regulations by 2025. See: Chăm sóc, nâng cao sức khỏe người lao động [Caring for and improving workers' health].
 

Funding Asbestos Remediation

Aug 23, 2023

Italian campaigners have called on Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni and the Minister of Environment Gilberto Pichetto to ensure that funds from the National Recovery and Resilience Plan for Italy (Piano Nazionale di Ripresa e Resilienza per l'Italia /PNRR) are used to decontaminate brownfield sites and waste land contaminated with asbestos. The number of asbestos cancers and diseases is increasing in the city of Aprilia which is the location of many abandoned and toxic landfills, such as the Via Corta which was seized by officials in 2017; as of now, it has not been secured or remediated. See: PNRR: i Comuni devono utilizzare i fondi per la bonifica amianto dei siti dismessi [PNRR: municipalities must use funds for asbestos remediation of brownfield sites].
 

Asbestos Alert in Jakarta!

Aug 23, 2023

In a recent webinar, Dr Eddy, the Chairperson of the Indonesian Association of Occupational Health Doctors, warned Indonesians of the cancer risk posed by buying asbestos-containing roofing. The doctor recommended that the toxic material should be replaced, because of the proven health hazard posed by human exposures to asbestos. Indonesia is one of the world’s largest asbestos-consuming nations using, on average, ~107,000 tonnes per year between 2016 and 2020. See: Atap Rumah Pakai Asbes, Awas Bahaya Kanker Paru Mengitai [House Roof Using Asbestos, Beware of the Risk of Lung Cancer].
 

Criminal Fly-tipper Not Jailed

Aug 23, 2023

After pleading guilty to the offences of depositing controlled waste, operating a regulated facility without an environmental permit and disposing of waste in a manner likely to cause pollution of the environment or harm to human health, Middlesbrough man Darren Mills received a suspended nine-month sentence, a £1,000 fine and an order to carry out 240 hours of unpaid work. Amongst the tonnes of waste that Mills dumped near Brambles Primary Academy and Minnow’s Children’s Day Nursery was asbestos debris. See: Middlesbrough man dumped 61 tonnes of rubbish and asbestos near primary school.
 

Asbestos in Philadelphia’s Schools

Aug 23, 2023

Asbestos contamination of schools in Pennsylvania’s capital has been widely covered by the media, with the closure of several schools necessitating the relocation of pupils and/or online learning in 2022/23. In the run-up to the school term that will begin in September, news has been released that: Building 21 High School and Mitchell Elementary will reopen; Frankford High School will partially reopen, with 9th grade students being sent to Clemente school; Universal Vare Charter Middle School will be closed for the year with students being sent to the McDaniel Annex Building. See: Ongoing asbestos issues in Philly schools forcing students to switch buildings.
 

Asbestos in Schools

Aug 23, 2023

With pupils in Sicily getting ready to return to school next month, the article cited below makes timely reading. Schools on the island have many problems, including failure to comply with national earthquake guidance as well as the continued presence of asbestos in 9% of its schools. According to local politicians, attempts are being made to access funds under the National Recovery and Resilience Plan for Italy (Piano Nazionale di Ripresa e Resilienza per l'Italia) to decontaminate and modernize the schools. See: Dalle norme antisismiche all’amianto: I punti deboli delle scuole Siciliane [From earthquake standards to asbestos: the weak points of Sicilian schools].
 

Lung Cancer from Asbestos Exposure

Aug 21, 2023

A case study of construction worker Wang Zhihua from Hunan, central China who contracted lung cancer after workplace exposures to asbestos was featured in the article cited below on a Chinese news portal. Zhihua received hazardous exposure on a daily basis, as his main job was the installation of asbestos-cement boards. The text reported that “workers who have been exposed to asbestos for a long time have more than 5 times the risk of lung cancer than the general population.” See: 致癌物“石棉”,潜伏期可达40年,日常的6种物品都有,请自查 [Carcinogen "asbestos", the incubation period can reach 40 years, daily 6 kinds of items, please check yourself].
 

Partnering in Earthquake Clean-up

Aug 21, 2023

The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and Japan will be collaborating with partners in Turkey to construct a recycling plant in the earthquake-struck zones of Hatay and Kahramanmaraş. According to Japan's Ambassador to Ankara, Katsumata Takahiko the: “‘Eco-Responsive Earthquake Debris Removal and Safe Disposal of Hazardous Waste Project’ will be carried out in cooperation with the Ministry of Environment, Urbanization and Climate Change and UNDP… and will contribute to the construction of a solid social infrastructure that will support the Turkish economy.” See: Japonya'dan Türkiye'ye dev destek! Milyonlarca ton geri dönüştürülecek [Huge support for Turkey from Japan! Millions of tons will be recycled].
 

Controversial Asbestos Data

Aug 21, 2023

An August 17, 2023 article on the website of the Chartered Institute for Environmental Health repeated contentious claims by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) that the number of people with asbestos-related diseases in the UK is on the decline. The HSE’s complacency over the hazard posed by asbestos remaining in buildings was challenged by comments from the TUC which called for a prioritized and phased removal of asbestos from the built environment. Medical expert Liz Darlison agreed with the unionists: “It's paramount,” she said “that we work with government to address this [toxic situation] and avoid the time bomb of future generations with occupational cancers.” See: Asbestos-related cancer deaths fall but ‘time bomb’ threatens.
 

Increase in Asbestos Cancer

Aug 21, 2023

The article cited below, which discussed the types, uses and problems associated with the historic use of asbestos in Japan, explained that more cases of asbestos-related diseases were being seen in people in their 50s and 60s. People experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned, and especially those at high risk – such as people who worked in the asbestos industry, lived with a family member who did or lived near an asbestos processing factory – are advised to seek immediate medical attention. See: 50代から急増するアスベストの健康障害 [Asbestos health problems are rapidly increasing from people in their 50s].
 

Cannabis for Mesothelioma Patients

Aug 21, 2023

At an August 2, 2023 meeting in the Osborne Park offices of the Asbestos Diseases Society of Australia (ADSA), guest speaker Dr Stephen Chalk talked about the use of medicinal cannabis for the treatment of mesothelioma symptoms in Western Australia. Dr. Chalk explained that he had “treated a wide variety of patients, helping some of the most in-need and unwell patients get relief via alternative treatment pathways.” The Australian Government requires patients try other recommended treatments before resorting to medicinal cannabis. Interested ADSA members can consult with the ADSA Nurse for help with referrals. See: Asbestos Diseases Society of Australia.
 

Another Obituary: Paul Brodeur

Aug 21, 2023

An obituary of legendary investigative reporter Paul Brodeur was published in the New York Times on August 17, 2023. The text highlighted the important role Brodeur’s articles played in attracting “national attention to subjects like the toxic hazards of asbestos and the destructive impact of chlorofluorocarbons on the ozone layer…” In his seminal 1968 article The Magic Mineral, Brodeur wrote: “There is not an automobile, airplane, train, ship, missile or engine of any sort that does not contain asbestos in some form or other, and it has found its way into literally every building, factory, home and farm across the land.” See: Paul Brodeur, Reporter Who Exposed the Hazards of Asbestos, Dies at 92.
 

Rotherham Asbestos Protest!

Aug 18, 2023

On August 16, 2023, members and supporters of the Asbestos Victims Support Groups Forum UK mounted another in a series of protests outside offices belonging to the current owner of the UK’s former asbestos conglomerate Cape PLC. They gathered in front of the offices of Altrad, a multinational construction and industrial corporation worth $2.9 billion, to repeat their demands for a donation of £10 million for medical research into asbestos cancer as a way of making restitution for the deadly consequences which resulted from the production, processing and use of products containing asbestos by Cape and its subsidiaries. See: Report from Cape Must Pay! protest in Rotherham.
 

Post-Disaster Hazard in Hawaii

Aug 18, 2023

On August 11, 2023, Hawaii’s Department of Health issued an alert in the aftermath of the horrific fires which decimated the Lahaina area of the island of Maui warning local people and emergency responders of the danger posed by the inhalation of: “Ash and dust (particularly from burned buildings) [which] may contain toxic and cancer-causing chemicals including asbestos, arsenic, and lead.” As many of the buildings in the historic city were erected during the asbestos heyday, it is thought that they contained asbestos. See: What To Know About The Potential Health Risks Of The Maui Fires—From Birth Defects To Cancer.
 

Asbestos Hazard in Shipbreaking

Aug 18, 2023

A 25-page report uploaded on August 16, 2023 to the website of the Platform on Clean Shipbreaking which reviewed the situation on shipbreaking beaches in Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Turkey and China in the quarter ending July 2023, highlighted the widespread prevalence of asbestos-related conditions and diseases in workers. Reduced lung function amongst shipbreaking workers was common, with many having reduced lung capacity of up to 60%. “Based on an asbestos survey done between 2011 and 2020, more than 55% of operating vessels and 50% of all new vessels were found to contain asbestos materials.” See: South Asia Quarterly Update.
 

Rehabilitation of Scarred Landscapes?

Aug 18, 2023

A project started in 2011 under Viridis Environment in the Quebec asbestos mining town of Thetford Mines has seen over 215 hectares revegetated with the use of artificial soils to allow trees and plants to flourish. To date, 10,000 trees were planted, 300,000 tonnes of residual fertilizing materials were reused and 100,000 tonnes of slightly contaminated soil was reclaimed. It is unknown what levels of asbestos exposures the workers on these sites were exposed to. See: La métamorphose verte de l’ancienne mine Lac d’amiante à Thetford Mines [The green metamorphosis of the former Lake Asbestos mine in Thetford Mines].
 

Mesothelioma Treatment: Update

Aug 18, 2023

Researchers from the US State of North Carolina published a paper in last month’s Nature journal which showed that the chemotherapy drug Cisplatin was a better choice for Hyperthermic (heated) Intraperitoneal Chemotherapy (HIPEC) treatment of patients with peritoneal mesothelioma. For people with an interest in mesothelioma research, there are many other papers on mesothelioma developments on the Nature website
 
See: Cisplatin exhibits superiority over MMC as a perfusion agent in a peritoneal mesothelioma patient. specific organoid HIPEC platform.
 

New Portsmouth Mesothelioma Resource

Aug 18, 2023

A new clinical nurse specialist (CNS) has been appointed to support asbestos cancer patients at the Queen Alexandra Hospital, Portsmouth. Lucy Johnson, who has been a nurse for 11 years, will support patients throughout their mesothelioma journey from diagnosis and investigations to treatment and symptom control. Commenting on her new position, CNS Johnson said: “I’m aware of the devastating impact that mesothelioma has on people’s lives so am looking forward to working in Portsmouth and helping patients there, supporting them with life-changing situations and at vulnerable times.” See: Nurse appointed as mesothelioma and pleural CNS in first for hospital.
 

Calls for Asbestos Action!

Aug 17, 2023

Earlier this month, Dr Chen Tianhui and his team from the Zhejiang Academy of Medical Sciences in China called for “developing countries to ban asbestos altogether.” China is the world’s third largest asbestos-producing country and second biggest asbestos consumer. Points made in the article cited below included: “all forms of asbestos are carcinogenic to humans”; “in China, although the use of amphibole asbestos has been completely banned, chrysotile asbestos is still widely used”; environmental as well as occupational exposures pose serious threats to the population. See: 致癌物“石棉”,潜伏期可达20年,你用过的这些物品可能都有 [The first-class carcinogen “asbestos,” has an incubation period of up to 20 years, and may have been in items you have used].
 

Supporting Asbestos Victims

Aug 17, 2023

Following research by a municipal study group, the Council of Korea’s Hongseong County introduced protocols to improve vital services for victims of asbestos-related diseases including: increased capacity for the provision of healthcare for asbestos victims, the expansion of staff and equipment needed to treat victims at Hongseong Medical Center, subsidies to cover transport and nursing expenses for victims, etc. The County Council has committed itself to maintaining a watching brief so that other measures to support the injured can be introduced as needed in collaboration with other local councils and government ministries. See: 홍성군의회, 석면피해자 구제지원 개선 방안 모색 [Hongseong County Council seeks ways to improve relief support for asbestos victims].
 

Asbestos in the Built Environment

Aug 17, 2023

Interviews with Polish workers on a construction site in in Berlin-Friedrichshain, highlighted a worrying lack of asbestos awareness among individuals at high risk of toxic occupational exposures. At a press conference held by a German construction industry trade union on August 10, 2023, union official Carsten Burkhardt said that 4.4 million tonnes of asbestos were used in Germany between 1950 and 1995; much of it remains within the national infrastructure, posing a serious health risk to people involved in the renovation or demolition industries. More than 1,500 people die every year from asbestos-related diseases in Germany. See: Occupational safety: Danger from asbestos: “The number of unreported cases is huge”.
 

Asbestos in Parliament

Aug 17, 2023

As Parliamentarians went on their summer vacation, the Sunday Times journalist Robert Covile reviewed the status of plans to address the dangerous deterioration of the physical structure of the Palace of Westminster. Five years after it had been agreed that serious work was needed, no conclusions have been reached about a plan of action. Although, there are many serious problems in this Unesco world heritage site, including asbestos contamination, the main worry is the “occurrence of a catastrophic event,” such as the one which destroyed Notre Dame Cathedral in 2019. See (1-month free subscription): MPs work in a verminous, asbestos-riddled fire trap. So why are they so keen to stay?
 

Mesothelioma in Females: Update

Aug 17, 2023

Following their failure to convince officials at the WHO and the International Agency for Research on Cancer to update mesothelioma guidelines, five US doctors published a paper in the August 11, 2023 issue of the Journal of Scientific Practice and Integrity. Dr Arthur Frank et al described the steps they took to correct inaccuracies, and expose dereliction of duty among responsible parties based, they believed, “at least in part,” on undisclosed conflicting interests. Resulting from failure to update key WHO and IARC texts, many cases of mesothelioma in women are either not diagnosed or not diagnosed at an early stage, thus preventing them from getting timely treatment, their exposure histories often not sought. See: Malignant mesothelioma in females: the institutional failure by WHO and IARC to protect public health.
 

Subsidies for Asbestos Eradication

Aug 17, 2023

The South Korean Province of Gyeongnam-do, in the southeast of the country, has allocated the sum of 240 billion won (US $180m) to subsidize the removal and disposal of asbestos roofing on houses, barns, warehouses, etc. to prevent toxic exposures to people who live or use the contaminated buildings. The full costs will be met for vulnerable households and others will receive a maximum of 352,700 million won (US$264,000) to carry out the work. See: 경남도, 석면 슬레이트 건출물 처리비용 지원 [Gyeongnam-do, asbestos slate construction disposal cost support].
 

Asbestos Mine on French Island

Aug 16, 2023

Nearly 60 years after asbestos operations were stopped at the Canari mine in Corsica, the toxic legacy lives on in the damaged lungs of the local people and the ravaged and polluted environment. The article cited below reviewed the history of the “white hell,” as preparations were being finalized for demolition next year of the factory on the site. The mine, the largest asbestos mine in all of France, was owned by the Eternit company; at peak production, 400 people were employed with their output supplying 25% of national asbestos demand. See: Canari: l'histoire tourmentée du plus grand site industriel de Corse [Canari: the tormented history of the largest industrial site in Corsica].
 

Sad news from Cape Cod

Aug 16, 2023

The news was reported last week of the death of legendary investigative reporter and author Paul Brodeur whose meticulous research first exposed the malfeasance of US asbestos companies whose ill treatment of workers caused countless numbers to suffer ill health and premature death. In his articles and books, he revealed the industrial–medical conspiracy developed and sustained by asbestos dollars to create a climate in which sales of “the Magic Mineral” would flourish. He had a long retirement on Cape Cod, the holiday island favored by many including President John Kennedy and his family. See: Paul Brodeur, journalist who exposed asbestos hazards, dies at 92.
 

Asbestos Alert!

Aug 16, 2023

As Typhoon Kanun approached Korea, warnings were issued by Wonju City officials about the likelihood of the town’s Academy Theater collapsing from the effects of the storm. A recent safety inspection had confirmed that as a result of cracks in the building’s thin asbestos roof, the capacity of the theater to survive typhoon conditions was uncertain. A spokesperson for the municipality said that emergency safety inspections would be carried out to protect the population “by promptly demolishing buildings that continue to threaten the safety and health of citizens as planned.” See: 원주시, ‘태풍 카눈’ 북상으로 ‘안전성 평가 D등급 건물 붕괴 위험’ 고조 [Wonju City Raises 'Risk of Collapse of Safety Assessment Class D Building' as ‘Typhoon Kanun’ Arises to the North].
 

Punishment for Illegal Asbestos Removal

Aug 16, 2023

On August 7, 2023, the Labor Ministry of Cyprus fined the construction company Pantelis G Charalambous Property Ltd €2,500 (US$2740) for violating asbestos health and safety regulations. The company had been charged with putting “the safety and well-being of employees and other individuals at risk” by failing to register a workplan before starting asbestos removal and demolition work. An unnamed person was sentenced to 45 days in jail for noncompliance with mandatory asbestos removal regulations. See: Construction company fined for breaking health and safety regs.
 

Medical Screening for Asbestos Diseases

Aug 16, 2023

On August 8, group members of the Brazilian Association of the Asbestos-Exposed, ABEA & AVICAFE met in Bahia to learn about efforts to set up medical protocols using low dose computed tomography for screening workers who had received toxic exposures at Bahia’s asbestos mine in Bom Jesus da Serra (which closed in 1967), at the Eternit factory in Simões Filho, and at other workplaces where asbestos was used. Prior to this event, an interview on Progresso 103 FM was broadcast, alerting listeners to the health risk posed by the use of Johnson & Johnson baby powder in this very hot part of the country. See: Entrevista de Fernanda Giannasi e Marcos Zanin na Rádio Progresso de Sousa na Paraíba [Interview by Fernanda Giannasi and Marcos Zanin on Rádio Progresso de Sousa in Paraíba].
 

Supporting the Asbestos Injured

Aug 16, 2023

Having consulted with asbestos victims regarding their health and other concerns, the Prefecture of Kanagawa, Japan last week added additional resources and information to its website to facilitate access to relevant healthcare services. Details were provided for multiple local health and welfare offices as well as for medical services specializing in cancer and cardiovascular diseases. See: 神奈川県がホームページでアスベスト(石綿)に関する健康相談窓口を紹介 [Kanagawa Prefecture introduces a health consultation counter for asbestos on its website].
 

Post-disaster Asbestos Hazard

Aug 9, 2023

Six months after two devastating earthquakes hit Southern Turkey, survivors are living in toxic and unsafe conditions. According to the insightful article cited below, asbestos building rubble has been collected and dumped in mountains of toxic waste located near temporary shelters erected for local people. Campaigners, frustrated by the lack of response from local government officials, have launched lawsuits against the Hatay authorities demanding the removal of toxic waste from residential areas, wetlands and olive groves. See: ‘The illegality of this is enormous’: will Turkey’s earthquake cleanup cause even more death?.
 

Asbestos Eradication: Too Slow

Aug 9, 2023

Despite actions taken by the EU to increase asbestos protections for workers, citizens’ groups in Italy are complaining about the glacial speed of eradicating the hazard from the built environment. According to Italian researchers, 2,400 schools, 500,000 kilometers of pipes, 1,500 libraries, 500 hospitals and numerous cultural buildings are contaminated with asbestos. There are no laws mandating that asbestos be removed from public or private buildings. See: Bonifiche a rilento e scarsi controlli. Così l'amianto può uccidere ancora [Slow reclamation and poor controls. So asbestos can kill again].
 

Another UK Asbestos Tragedy!

Aug 9, 2023

As part of the Summer 2023 campaign by the Sunday Times: “Act Now on Asbestos,” journalist Steve Boggan highlighted the story of mesothelioma patient Barbara Morris who was exposed to asbestos in the 1970s when she worked for the East Midlands Electricity Board in Daventry, Northamptonshire. Mrs. Morris was shocked “to think that people could still be exposed the way I was… Especially children. At the very least, the government should be working to get asbestos out of schools. We owe it to the next generation.” Asbestos material remains in 1.5 million UK buildings, including schools and hospitals. See (1-month free subscription): I was exposed to asbestos — now I won’t see my grandchildren grow up.
 

Confronting the Nation’s Asbestos Legacy

Aug 9, 2023

Outdated laws and practices which allow asbestos stakeholders to exploit legal loopholes were the subject of an interview with Fernanda Giannasi, Co-Founder of ABREA (Brazilian Association of the Asbestos-Exposed). ABREA is backing calls by politicians to nullify laws left over from a time before asbestos was banned by the Supreme Court as well as exemptions allowed after the ban which allowed vested interests – represented by the Brazilian Association of the Alkali, Chlorine and Derivatives Industry – to continue to use asbestos in diaphragms for chlorine production ad infinitum. See: Fernanda Giannasi: “Falta pouco para fecharmos a tampa do caixão do amianto” [Fernanda Giannasi: “Not long before we close the lid of the asbestos coffin”].
 

New Asbestos Outreach Project

Aug 9, 2023

From September 2023, former asbestos workers from La Spezia, in Italy’s Liguria Region, will be eligible for free medical examinations after the regional council gave its approval to a new health surveillance protocol. Local politicians acknowledged the support for this project of the local asbestos victims’ association, medical experts from the Regional General Health Department and Liguria’s Councilor for Health Angelo Gratarola. See: Visite gratuite per chi lavorava con l'amianto a La Spezia: novità dalla Regione Liguria [Free visits for those who worked with asbestos in La Spezia: news from the Liguria Region].
 

Asbestos Developments: Update

Aug 9, 2023

The text cited below is a timely commentary on the asbestos stalemate which currently exists in Brazil. Despite a 2017 Supreme Court (STF) verdict outlawing asbestos, asbestos mining continues in Goiás State under cover of a disputed state law. Last week, Federal Deputy Nilto Tatto submitted proposal PL368/23 to the Chamber of Deputies to revoke remnants of Brazil’s outdated “safe use of asbestos” policy. As Brazilians wait for the definitive word on asbestos from the STF, the country remains contaminated and the lives of its citizens are at risk from toxic exposures at home as well as at work. See: Um reforco na luta contra o amianto [Strengthening the fight against asbestos].
 

Govt. Plans Stricter Asbestos Protections

Aug 7, 2023

China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology banned the production of amphibole asbestos in 2002; it also set occupational exposure limits for chrysotile asbestos to protect workers. The Ministry, in collaboration with the National Health Commission, announced plans to “strengthen the standardized management of chrysotile asbestos production enterprises, increase the publicity of occupational disease prevention and control, increase awareness of the asbestos hazard…” and take other steps to protect the population from toxic asbestos exposures. See: 工业和信息化部答“长期接触石棉建材等制品会致癌?”问题 [The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology answered the question “Can long-term exposure to asbestos building materials and other products cause cancer?”
 

The Supreme Court & Asbestos

Aug 7, 2023

A timely commentary featuring an interview with Brazilian ban asbestos campaigner Fernanda Giannasi called on Supreme Court Justices to end the country’s six year and seven months asbestos stalemate and act decisively to uphold the Court’s 2017 verdict outlawing the asbestos industry. A long awaited judgment concerning the illegality of a Goiás state asbestos exemption scheduled to be issued in June 2023 has been delayed yet again until October, 2023. See: Fernanda Giannasi: “Com a devida vênia, ministro, mais um ano para a mineração do amianto equivale à licença para matar no exterior” [Fernanda Giannasi: “With due respect, Minister, one more year for asbestos mining is equivalent to a license to kill abroad”].
 

Scottish Court Allows Second Claim

Aug 7, 2023

Last week, Lord Stuart, in Scotland’s Outer House of the Court of Session, agreed that widow Elaine Crozier and the family of deceased asbestos victim Robert Crozier should be allowed to pursue a mesothelioma claim against his employer – Scottish Power – despite his having accepted in 2014 compensation on a full and final basis for the development of pleural plaques and asbestosis as a result of workplace asbestos exposures. Mr. Crozier died on October 15, 2018. See: Family of man who died from mesothelioma allowed to proceed with second claim against employer.
 

New Technology to Survey Asbestos Roofs

Aug 7, 2023

On August 3 & 4, 2023, ultralight and remote-controlled drones operated by a specialist company conducted aerial surveys of San Donato, a commune in the Italian City of Milan, to record the presence of asbestos roofing and explore the potential for the use of solar technology. The data accumulated as a result of the survey will allow the municipal authorities to optimize the implementation of environmental protective measures such as the eradication of asbestos building materials. See: Due droni su San Donato A caccia di aree inquinate [Two drones over San Donato Hunting for polluted areas].
 

Naturally Occurring Asbestos

Aug 7, 2023

People in the Avcıpınarı neighbourhood of the Turkish City of Saimbeyli are taking legal action over concerns over proposals for a mining development in their area. Last week, the Minister of Environment submitted a question to the Turkish Grand National Assembly asking for the government to comment on this issue. The proposed quarry would be near a village, a Grade 1 archeological site and a creek that supplies water for local people. It is believed that construction work would liberate asbestos fibers present in the soil. See: Sivas Avcıpınarı’nda yapılması istenen maden projesi TBMM gündemine taşındı [Proposal for mining project in Sivas Avcipinari reaches Turkish Grand National Assembly agenda].
 

Draft Law Proposes Asbestos U-Turn

Aug 7, 2023

On August 2, 2023, Federal Deputy Nilto Tatto tabled law 3684/2023 in the Brazilian Chamber of Deputies which called for the repeal of national legislation that, until recently, had supported the fallacious pro-business policy regarding the “safe use of asbestos.” Although asbestos use is now banned in Brazil, asbestos products are ubiquitous throughout the country’s infrastructure. The eradication of the asbestos hazard constitutes a huge liability not only from industrial sites and public buildings but also from privately-owned properties and homes. See: Chamber of Deputies Law PL n. 3684/2023.
 

Another UA Mesothelioma Victim

Aug 4, 2023

The mesothelioma death was announced by Local 71 of the United Association (UA) of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipefitting Industry of the USA and Canada of UA member Ronald Maisonneuve. Commenting on this death, Ronald’s cousin Angus Maisonneuve recalled when his own father, another UA member, had died from mesothelioma 20 years ago. Angus and his father were both plumber/steamfitters and Ronald was a welder; all of them were routinely exposed to asbestos during their employment. Many Canadian buildings and domestic properties still contain asbestos despite a national ban on future use being imposed in 2018. See: Latest Ottawa-area asbestos death leaves trades reeling.
 

Asbestos Alerts!

Aug 4, 2023

On World Lung Cancer Day (August 1), two alerts were issued in the media about the cancer hazard posed by human exposures to asbestos in Russia – the world’s biggest producer of asbestos. For years, powerful industry stakeholders have suppressed knowledge about the links between cancer and asbestos, maintaining that the use of Russian asbestos was safe. Despite these reassurances, oncologist Alexei Sorokin said that avoiding asbestos exposures is a good way to prevent cancer (as did a text warning Voronezh residents to avoid such exposures).
 
See: Настороженность поможет Врач Алексей Сорокин — о профилактике рака легкого [Being alert will help. Doctor Alexei Sorokin – on the prevention of lung cancer].
 

Post-Tornado Asbestos Collection

Aug 4, 2023

The widespread destruction caused by a tornado in Ravenna, Italy in July created mountains of building debris, some of which contained asbestos. As of August 1, 2023, it is possible for affected property owners to arrange collections of the waste by Hera S.p.A. a utility company based in Bologna. Until the toxic debris has been collected, Ravenna’s Mayor de Pascale advised citizens to “secure the area … [and] keep the ground where the fragments are located wet or, if that’s not possible, provide cover for them…” See: Ravenna in Comune: L’amianto è un problema anche quando non è sbriciolato [Ravenna in Comune: Asbestos is a problem even when it has not crumbled].
 

Asbestos Guidelines: Update

Aug 4, 2023

The most recent revisions to asbestos regulations by the New Zealand Government took place seven years ago under New Zealand's Health and Safety at Work (Asbestos) Regulations 2016. The commentary cited below called on construction companies and other dutyholders to consider whether their current practices comply with the mandatory guidelines which cover “all aspects of asbestos handling and management in workplaces … [and] require any work involving the removal of asbestos to be carried out by licensed asbestos removalists…” See: Revisiting The Asbestos Regulations.
 

Asbestos in Schools

Aug 4, 2023

The revelation in a high-profile TV program that 70% of the French capital’s schools were contaminated with asbestos created outrage amongst members of the public as well as politicians. A spokesperson for Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo said that the Mayor was committed to taking immediate and effective action to resolve this situation. By the end of this year, a steering committee made up of teaching staff and associations will be established; in a quest for “more transparency,” information on the situation in various buildings will be put online. See: Un plan pour éradiquer l'amiante des écoles parisiennes [A plan to eradicate asbestos from Parisian schools].
 

Another Asbestos Tragedy in Bari

Aug 4, 2023

Members of the Fibronit Citizen Committee are mourning the loss of another Bari resident who died from the signature asbestos cancer mesothelioma, having lived close to the Fibronit asbestos factory all her life. Honoring all the town’s asbestos dead, plans for a Park of Rebirth on the area of the former Fibronit factory are proceeding. The work on this 42,500+ meters square public green space will begin in 2024. Construction should take two years and the new facilities will include: a museum, exhibition space and recreational areas. See: Bari, la Fibronit uccide ancora: ennesima vittima dell’ex fabbrica di amianto [Bari, Fibronit kills again: yet another victim of the former asbestos factory].
 

The Long Tail of Asbestos Liabilities

Aug 3, 2023

Accounts released on June 26, 2023 for Italy’s Fincantieri S.p.A – the largest shipbuilder in Europe – showed in the half-year results that the company’s financial position was still being negatively impacted by asbestos claims, with the sum of €33 million (US$36.2m) deducted for asbestos litigation costs and compensation payments. Asbestos claims against the company have been brought by former employees for many years and continue, as shown by a verdict issued by the Court of Ancona on July 20 ordering the company to compensate the family of a worker who died as a result of toxic exposures at one of its shipyards. See: Fincantieri ancora in rosso per le cause legate all’amianto [Fincantieri still in the red over asbestos-related liabilities].
 

J&J Bankruptcy: Round 2

Aug 3, 2023

On July 28, 2023, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Michael Kaplan in Trenton, New Jersey rejected plans by Johnson & Johnson (J&J) to resolve tens of thousands of asbestos lawsuits with an $8.9 billion settlement that would stop new claims from being filed. This was the second court decision to reject these plans. Lawyers for plaintiffs who believe their cancers were caused by use of asbestos-contaminated talc in J&J baby powder called the company’s attempt to curtail cancer claims “an abuse of U.S. bankruptcy law.” See: J&J effort to resolve talc lawsuits in bankruptcy fails a second time.
 

Supreme Court Issues Victim’s Verdict

Aug 3, 2023

Italy’s Supreme Court upheld an appeal by the family of a worker who had been denied compensation because of his smoking history. The claimant contracted lung cancer having been exposed to asbestos at the Rome Centocelle roiling stock workshops operated by Cotral S.p.A.; he died aged 37 in 1994. The Supreme Court found that the lower court had ignored the synergistic interaction of smoking and asbestos exposures which increased the risk of contracting lung cancer. See: Amianto killer: la Cassazione accoglie il ricorso dei familiari di un lavoratore ‘fumatore’ di Cotral S.p.A. deceduto a 37 anni per un cancro al polmone [Killer asbestos: the Cassation upholds the appeal of the family members of a 'smoker' worker of Cotral S.p.A. who died aged 37 of lung cancer].
 

Asbestos in Hospitals

Aug 3, 2023

The Gauteng Department of Health in South Africa has admitted that 14 of the province’s health facilities are contaminated with asbestos including the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital, the Tambo Memorial Hospital and the Yusuf Dadoo Hospital. The authorities claim that the risk of toxic exposures are low and that steps have been taken to minimize fibers becoming airborne. However, according to the Shadow Health Member of the Executive Council Jack Bloom, the presence of the asbestos is a “health danger to staff and patients…” See: GP Health Dept to Deal with Asbestos Hazard at 14 Health Facilities.
 

Another Asbestos Tragedy in Merseyside

Aug 3, 2023

In an announcement made this week, it was revealed that substantial compensation for a mesothelioma patient had been secured from her former employers Namepack Ltd. (formerly known as Ward Blenkinsop), where she worked from 1969 to 1971, and Dista Products Ltd., where she worked from 1971 until 1975. The defendants also agreed to pay for private medical treatments not available on the NHS and to donate £9,000+ to the hospice which had treated the cancer patient. Two weeks after the settlement had been reached, the claimant passed away. See: Former Liverpool factory worker awarded compensation after asbestos exposure.
 

Georgia-Pacific Controversy

Aug 3, 2023

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is now at loggerheads with 20 US states and the District of Columbia over the use by Georgia-Pacific of the contentious legal strategy referred to as the “Texas two-step.” The States called on the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to rethink a divided June 20, 2023 verdict that allowed the company to dump tens of thousands of asbestos lawsuits into Bestwell, a spin-off subsidiary seeking to use Chapter 11 bankruptcy to avoid mass tort litigation. See: Georgia-Pacific’s ‘Texas two-step’ pits state AGs against U.S. Chamber.
 

Asbestos Firm Betrays Victims

Aug 1, 2023

The current owners of one of the UK’s biggest asbestos companies – with a 2022 revenue of €3.8bn – has been accused by asbestos victims of ignoring its responsibilities to the injured. The Asbestos Victims Support Groups Forum’s request for a £10 million donation for medical research was rejected by the Altrad company whilst a six-year deal worth £58m was agreed to sponsor the New Zealand rugby team. In 2022, Altrad’s President was convicted of corruption; he was fined and given an 18- month suspended sentence. See: UK asbestos firm owners ‘whitewashing reputation’ with All Blacks sponsorship.
 

Supreme Court Victims’ Verdict

Aug 1, 2023

Last week, Japan’s Supreme Court rejected an appeal by the Zen-Nippon Inspection Association (Tokyo) which had been found guilty by the Kobe District Court and the Osaka High Court of failing to prevent asbestos exposures to three dock workers – Masao Akagi, Megumi Tanaka and Hiroyuki Kurabuchi – all of whom contracted lung cancer. See: 神戸港で作業、石綿を吸引し肺がんに 男性3人、勤務先に賠償求め勝訴確定 最高裁、被告側の上告不受理 [Working at Kobe Port, breathing asbestos and suffering from lung cancer. Three men win a lawsuit seeking compensation from their employer as Supreme Court rejects defendant's appeal].
 

Concerns over Proposed Asbestos Site

Aug 1, 2023

Amina Dika, the Women Representative of Kenya’s Tana River County, spoke out last week over plans to construct an asbestos dump in her constituency: “[the] Minjila area is a fast-growing township in the county … such a critical area that supports livelihoods of my county cannot be used as a dump site for a hazardous waste of any magnitude.” Dika expressed her objections to this “scandalous” project in a July 24, 2023 letter to the Director General of the National Environment Management Authority. See: Tana River leaders oppose asbestos dump site in county.
 

Asbestos on the Subway

Aug 1, 2023

Members of the Subway and Premetro Workers Union Association in Buenos Aires went on strike on July 26, 2023 calling for the immediate removal from service of trains contaminated with asbestos and a reduction in working hours from 36 to 30 per week to minimize toxic exposures. According to the union, three subway workers have died from asbestos-related diseases, six others have developed cancers and 87 have experienced health issues as a result of workplace exposures to asbestos. 2150 workers are given annual medical check-ups because of historic asbestos exposures. See: Vivir con asbesto: el padecimiento de los trabajadores del subte en primera persona [Living with asbestos: first-person accounts of the suffering of subway workers].
 

Climate Changes & Asbestos

Aug 1, 2023

An alert issued by AfeVA Emilia Romagna, an asbestos victims’ group in Bologna, highlighted the hazard posed by asbestos debris in the aftermath of recent storms in the Romagna region. The Group’s press release urged “the Region and local administrations not to undermine the importance of the asbestos issue which continues to produce suffering and death even in our region. If anything, we must take a cue from the disasters that have occurred recently such as the earthquake and the flood and from the effects of climate change in general, in order not to waste any more time and go as quickly as possible towards mapping the asbestos in the area and a plan for its removal…” See: Cambiamenti climatici: intervenire sull’amianto presente è una priorità per la tutela della salute dei cittadini [Asbestos: Whirlwind in Romagna].
 

Asbestos at the BBC

Aug 1, 2023

The article cited below was just one of dozens which appeared last week about the news that Esther Rantzen, veteran British TV presenter and founder of Childline, had contracted lung cancer which she wondered might have been due to asbestos exposures at the studios of the BBC. In the last ten years, the BBC has paid £1.64 million in damages to 11 families which had lost loved ones to mesothelioma, the signature cancer associated with asbestos exposures. See: Did asbestos-filled BBC studios cause Dame Esther Rantzen's stage-four lung cancer?
 

Mesothelioma Kills Husband and Wife

Jul 26, 2023

In 2009, the asbestos cancer mesothelioma killed David Pond, who had worked with asbestos between 1962 to 1970 whilst employed by the New South Wales (NSW) Department of Railways. In 2022 his wife, Dian Pond also died from mesothelioma, four months after having launched a legal action against the State of NSW for compensation. On Friday, July 21, 2023, Judge Strathdee at the NSW Dust Diseases Tribunal issued a victim’s verdict and awarded her family A$605,296 (US$407,243) against the State, with a future hearing to determine costs. See: Woman gets cancer from husband's asbestos-laden clothes.
 

Asbestos in Ministry’s Naval Base

Jul 26, 2023

In a Genoa Court, JudgeAlberto La Mantia awarded the family of civilian worker €700,000 (US$778,685) compensation – to be paid by the Ministry of Defense (MoD), which had failed to provide equipment to prevent asbestos exposures at the military arsenal of La Spezia naval base in the Liguria region of Italy. The deceased had worked for the MoD from 1958 until his retirement in 1994. He was diagnosed with cancer in 2016 and died shortly afterwards. Amongst those compensated were the widow, two children and a nephew. At this point, it is not known whether the MoD will appeal the verdict. See: Morì a causa dell’amianto Risarcita di 700mila euro la famiglia di un operaio [Family of worker who died because of asbestos awarded 700 thousand euros compensation].
 

Rotterdam Convention Resource

Jul 26, 2023

A 9-page factsheet uploaded recently, entitled The Rotterdam Convention An Overview, is a useful online resource for people hoping to fathom the intricacies of the quagmire which is the UN Rotterdam Convention on Prior Informed Consent Procedures for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade. The publication, which was issued by the Indian NGO Toxics Link, concluded that: “it is in interest of all countries, including India, to strengthen the Rotterdam Convention and support the inclusion of more hazardous chemicals under the ambit of Rotterdam Convention. To strengthen the Convention, Parties will need to come together to create a robust central monitoring mechanism to ensure that the PIC procedure is uniformly enforced.” See: The Rotterdam Convention An Overview.
 

Asbestos at the Shipyards

Jul 26, 2023

Italian shipbuilding company Fincantieri S.p.A. was ordered by the Court of Ancona, Italy to pay a total of €639,000 (US$711,000) in compensation to the widow, two children and four grandchildren of a carpenter who died in 2017 from asbestosis as a result of workplace asbestos exposures over more than 30 years. The company had denied all the charges. The widow will also receive, in addition to a pension from the National Institute for Insurance against Accidents at Work, a survivor's pension from the Asbestos Victims Fund. See: Amianto, condannata Fincantieri a risarcire i familiari del carpentiere morto [Asbestos, Fincantieri sentenced to compensate the family members of the dead carpenter].
 

Asbestos at RAAC Schools

Jul 26, 2023

A report by the Department for Education (DfE) entitled Condition of school buildings which was published at the end of June 2023 revealed serious issues over the safety of pupils at aging schools built with reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC), a lightweight material used widely between the 1950s and mid-1990s which is “prone to collapse.” The hazard is exacerbated by the presence of asbestos-containing building products. According to the DfE, there are 572 schools where RAAC might be present. In addition, asbestos contamination of 13,800 system-built schools was flagged up as a concern. See: Unsafe UK school buildings pose risk to pupils, report says.
 

EPA Action on Asbestos Dumping

Jul 26, 2023

Having pleaded guilty to two charges related to transporting waste and land pollution in the Land and Environment Court – in 2017, the accused had dumped 1,400 truckloads of asbestos-contaminated and other waste on land he owned in Arcadia, Sydney over a seven month period – Paul Mouawa was fined A$200,000 (US$135,000) by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) which warned other operators that they too could expect substantial penalties for illegal waste disposals. Mouawa was given until December 2023 to remediate the land. See: Big fine for mass dumping of asbestos contaminated soil.
 

Asbestos in Schools

Jul 25, 2023

A 21-page report released in July 2023 by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) entitled Management of asbestos in school buildings 2022/23 investigated “how schools are meeting their legal duties to manage asbestos effectively.” The HSE did not waste the opportunity presented by the publication of this report to reiterate its mantra: “Where asbestos-containing materials are undamaged and properly maintained, with regular checks and effective monitoring to assess their condition, they can remain safely in place.” Although significant failings were found in 7% of schools, “this did not mean there was an actual risk of exposure to asbestos.” So, nothing to see here folks, move on. See: Management of asbestos in school buildings 2022/23.
 

Verdict for Mesothelioma Claimant

Jul 25, 2023

A jury in Oakland, California on July 18, 2023 issued a victim’s verdict in a case brought by a 24-year old mesothelioma victim who alleged that his cancer was caused by exposure to asbestos contained in Johnson & Johnson’s (J&J) talc-based baby powder. In his closing argument to the jury Joe Satterley, the lawyer representing Emory Hernandez Valadez, said that J&J had been engaged in a “despicable” decades-long cover-up of asbestos contamination of its iconic baby powder. The jury agreed and awarded the plaintiff the sum of $18.8 million. See: J&J must pay $18.8 million to California cancer patient in baby powder suit.
 

Mr Fluffy Contamination in Victoria

Jul 25, 2023

The scandal posed by the presence of loose-fill asbestos insulation – nicknamed Mr Fluffy – in homes in the Australian capital a few years ago has now reached the Australian state of Victoria where Mr Fluffy asbestos has been found in homes along the border with New South Wales (NSW). Affected homeowners are calling for the state government to introduce a scheme similar to those in Canberra and NSW which provided funding to eradicate the contamination or demolish the contaminated properties. The Victorian government said it was currently investigating the issue. See: Home owners urge Victorian government to help as Mr Fluffy loose-filled asbestos found in houses.
 

Asbestos-free Industrial Insulation

Jul 25, 2023

New plans by the Izomat company for a manufacturing complex in the Moscow region to produce asbestos-free industrial insulation were announced in an article uploaded on July 19, 2023. This development is noteworthy, as Russia is the world’s biggest asbestos producer and a leading force in global efforts to defend asbestos markets. Financial backing for this new venture indicates the existence of domestic demand for asbestos-free alternative products. See: Подмосковный инвестор запустит производство промышленной теплоизоляции [An investor near Moscow will launch the production of industrial thermal insulation].
 

Female Asbestos Victims

Jul 25, 2023

An article by the Italian asbestos victims’ group Contramianto Associazione Esposti Amianto E Altri Rischi-Onlus (The Antiasbestos and Asbestos-Exposed Association) highlighted two cases of local women who contracted pleural mesothelioma from domestic exposures to asbestos. Both of the patients were from Taranto and both of them washed their husbands’ asbestos-contaminated work clothes. See: Così l’amianto colpisce anche figlie e mogli degli operai [So asbestos also affects the daughters and wives of workers].
 

Asbestos Incident at Scottish Hospital

Jul 25, 2023

During the installation of a new hydraulic press on July 7, 2023 at the Aberdeen Royal Infirmary, asbestos was disturbed in what has been described by officials as an “isolated asbestos incident.” According to NHS Grampian, a small number of staff and contractors were in the unit when a beam was knocked during the installation process. The affected room was isolated and the risk was monitored whilst staff put contingency plans in place to minimize disruption. It could be two weeks before the laundry would be fully operational said Chief Executive Caroline Hiscox. See: Laundry staff exposed to asbestos at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary.
 

Asbestos-Free Schools by 2024

Jul 21, 2023

According to a statement on July 14th by the Jeonbuk Office of Education, eradication of asbestos from elementary, middle and high schools in Jeonbuk will be completed on schedule by 2024. During Summer vacations, work will be carried out at 40 Jeonbuk schools under the supervision of school asbestos monitoring groups, composed, at each facility, of the school principal or assistant principal, asbestos building safety manager, parents, civic groups, asbestos supervisor, on-site representative of asbestos dismantling / removal company and construction supervisor. See: 전북교육청 "내년까지 도내 초중고 학교에서 석면 깨끗이 퇴출" [Jeonbuk Office of Education “Elimination of asbestos from elementary, middle and high schools in the province by next year”].
 

Asbestos in Social Housing

Jul 21, 2023

A high-profile campaign was launched last week to force action by local authorities over asbestos contamination of social housing in Milan. In 2018 it was discovered that asbestos material was present “from the floors to the cellars and even in the drainage pipes of the toilets and in the air circulating underground.” The buildings, which are more than 40 years old, are in very bad repair. In the last five years, no work has been taken to quantify the problem or eradicate the hazard. See: Amianto negli stabili popolari Milano: nessuna bonifica in 5 anni / Cittadini abbandonati dal Comune [Asbestos in public buildings [housing] in Milan: no reclamation in 5 years / Citizens abandoned by the Municipality].
 

Asbestos Worries over Redevelopment

Jul 21, 2023

Glasgow campaigners are calling on developers to conduct an Environmental Impact Assessment before demolishing the four Wyndford tower blocks in Glasgow which are believed to contain asbestos. Accusing their critics of “scaremongering,” Wheatley Homes Glasgow said an investigation will take place once the buildings have been emptied of tenants. Planning permission was granted for the demolition of the towers and the construction of 300 low-rise homes on the site. See: Call to halt tower blocks demolition after asbestos survey.
 

Asbestos in Schools

Jul 21, 2023

The Government of the South African Province of KwaZulu-Natal has confirmed that slow progress is being made in the eradication of asbestos roofing from 832 contaminated schools, in a reply made to a Parliamentary question. The Department of Education needs R6,734, 000,000 (US$377m) to eradicate the hazard; as of March 2023, since 2018 asbestos roofing had only been remediated in 76 schools. According to government critic Dr Imran Keeka: “Most of these roofs were installed 40 years ago. This enormous backlog means it will take another 30 years to clear. In the meantime, there will be a safety hazard for school learners.” See: More than 800 KZN schools still have asbestos roofs, placing pupils at risk.
 

Asbestos Curse Blocks Redevelopment

Jul 21, 2023

The industrial asbestos legacy of the Harts Lane Estate in Barking, London is a permanent block, said resident Anthony Taylor, on plans to regenerate the site, as it was constructed in 1970 on top of the Cape Asbestos factory, the biggest asbestos factory in London. Prior to its closure in 1968, generations of local people had worked for Cape. The two 17-storey tower blocks called Colne House and Mersea House on the estate dominate the local landscape and have had a chequered history. A spokesperson for Barking and Dagenham Council did not respond to Mr. Taylor’s comments. See: Barking estate ‘can never be bulldozed’ as it sits on top of old asbestos factory.
 

Halt of Baby Powder Production

Jul 18, 2023

On July 14, 2023, an article in The Times of India announced that Johnson & Johnson (J&J) had “surrendered its licence to manufacture baby powder in its Mumbai plant” on June 22, 2023. The decision to stop manufacturing baby powder in India was, said the company “part of a global move to switch from talc-based to cornstarch-based baby powders.” The author of the article cited below pointed out that J&J had stopped producing its talc-based baby powder in the US and Canada three years ago. See: J&J stops manufacture of baby powder in country [India].
 

J&J Summer Offensive

Jul 18, 2023

In a July 12, 2023 Reuters article it was announced that LTL Management – a Johnson & Johnson subsidiary – had launched a lawsuit earlier this month in a New Jersey federal court against researchers who had published a paper about studies showing that the use of talc-based personal products could cause cancer; J&J denied these findings. The lawsuit targeted Drs Richard Kradin, Theresa Emory and John Maddox, all of whom were requested to “retract and/or issue a correction" of the study which stated that the use of asbestos-contaminated talc-based consumer products could cause mesothelioma. See: Johnson & Johnson sues researchers who linked talc to cancer.
 

Victims’ Verdicts at Appeal Court

Jul 18, 2023

On July 13, 2023 the Rome Appeal Court issued verdicts supporting claims by asbestos victims against Italy’s National Institute for Insurance against Accidents at Work (INAIL) and ordered that compensation be paid to asbestos victims who, as a result of workplace exposures to asbestos, had contracted pleural plaques and asbestosis. On multiple occasions, INAIL had previously rejected their applications. See: INAIL condannata a riconoscere le malattie professionali causate dall’esposizione all’amianto di due ex lavoratori di Cotral S.p.A. e di Alitalia S.p.A. [INAIL ordered to recognize the occupational diseases caused by the exposure to asbestos of two former workers of Cotral S.p.A. and of Alitalia S.p.A.].
 

Asbestos on Toronto’s Subway System

Jul 18, 2023

Despite the deterioration of asbestos material contained within the infrastructure of Toronto’s subway network and alarms raised in the past about pollution levels in the subway which were 10 times worse than outside air, the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) has reduced asbestos removal work this year because of cutbacks to its budget allocation. In 2022, TTC earmarked $9,338,000 for asbestos eradication work but it is unknown how much of this work was completed. See: Vast cuts to TTC include scaling back removal of cancer-causing asbestos in stations.
 

Victims’ Attack J&J Legal Strategy

Jul 18, 2023

US cancer victims with claims against the American pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson (J&J) remain incensed at the success J&J is having in avoiding its liabilities. Forty thousand claims have been made by users of J&J talc-based baby powder by people who believe that their cancers were caused by use of J&J’s iconic product. The article cited below includes an interview with mesothelioma sufferer Juliet Gray. “When you’re selling products to people for their health,” she said “that they used to take care of themselves and those products are tainted with something so toxic you get a terminal cancer from it, that is not OK…” See: Johnson and Johnson bankruptcy claim is a ruse to limit liability, cancer victims say.
 

Implementation of Asbestos Ban

Jul 14, 2023

On July 11, 2023, the Occupational Safety and Health Masterplan 2023-2027 was announced in the Cambodian capital by the Minister of Labor; it included provisions to outlaw the use of asbestos and asbestos-containing products on pages 16, 17, 22,23,38,40,44, 45, 73,74,79. Details regarding the planned actions and a timeline for the prohibitions are on pages 44/45 and 73/74. They are very comprehensive and reflect the determination of the government to protect citizens from further deadly exposures. In his opening speech on July 11, the Minister specifically mentioned the asbestos ban as one of the ministry’s top priorities. See: Cambodia Third Occupational Safety and Health Master Plan 2023-2027.
 

Asbestos Propaganda: Reboot

Jul 14, 2023

A curious mish-mash of misinformation served up with corporate spin reenforced the Russian asbestos lobby’s narrative that companies such as Russia’s Uralasbest Asbestos conglomerate were under attack by “Western competitors,” “Western lobbyists for artificial substitutes for chrysotile asbestos,” “global anti-chrysotile campaigners,” and “Western greens” who use a specious “eco-agenda” as ammunition in their economic war. The Russian asbestos industry is an innocent, says the author of the article cited below, unjustifiably under attack when there have been “no special medical anomalies” recorded amongst Uralasbest workers. See: Наши победили в Женеве [Our Side Won in Geneva].
 

Asbestos Case Reinstated

Jul 14, 2023

A mesothelioma case was resurrected on July 7, 2023 after a Kentucky appellate court reversed a lower court’s ruling that had dismissed a lawsuit against two companies. The personal injury case, which had been brought by Paul Williams widower of a mesothelioma victim, sought damages from Schneider Electric USA Inc. and Union Carbide Corp. for the 2017 death of Vickie Williams, aged 54, who was exposed to asbestos fibers brought home on her father’s work clothes. As a teenager in 1978, Ms Williams had also worked for Schneider Electric USA Inc. for three months. See: Estate of mesothelioma victim may pursue claims.
 

Living with Asbestos

Jul 14, 2023

Despite the existence of a national ban and regulations for managing asbestos-containing material, many people lack the financial resources to comply with guidelines. The article cited below described the hazardous conditions of people living in substandard houses containing asbestos products in the Mulmangol area of the South Korean city of Busan. Commenting on this situation Busan City Council member Kim Hyung-cheol said: “Due to the nature of unauthorized buildings, maintenance is not easy, but we cannot ignore residents whose lives are threatened by asbestos.” See: 빗물은 예사, 지붕 무너질까 걱정…석면 위험 알아도 돈 없어 못 고쳐 [Rainwater is normal, worried about the roof collapsing … I know the danger of asbestos, but I can't fix it because I don't have the money].
 

Asbestos Outreach Program in Sardinia

Jul 14, 2023

An asbestos outreach initiative in Cagliari has been launched to achieve early diagnoses of asbestos-related diseases in high-risk populations such as people who had worked with asbestos. Forty-eight people made up the initial cohort of those examined for early markers of disease by the medical team working with researcher Dr Roberto Cherchi at the Arnas Brotzu Hospital in Cagliari. The program will be replicated at the Tata Memorial Hospital in India in collaboration with researchers from the University of Cagliari. See: Test sanitari su ex esposti all'amianto per prevenire malattie [Health tests on former asbestos-exposed to prevent disease].
 

Legal Breakthrough in Sapporo

Jul 13, 2023

A spokesman for the Association of Mesothelioma and Asbestos Disease Patients and their Families announced on July 6, 2023 that for the first time a court had recognized as an industrial accident the mesothelioma death in 1989 of a 41-year old man who had worked for a construction company in Hokkaido based solely on a doctor’s certificate. This was, said the Association, “an extremely rare and groundbreaking accreditation that paves the way for people in similar situations.” See: 死亡診断書なしでもアスベスト労災を認定 [Recognition of asbestos work-related injuries without a death certificate].
 

Supreme Court’s Victim’s Verdcit

Jul 13, 2023

Italy’s Supreme Court confirmed a ruling by a Venice Court that the 2006 lung cancer death of sailor Giovanni Di Martino had been caused by workplace exposures to asbestos, even though the deceased had been a smoker; Admiral Agostino Di Donna and the Ministry of Defence had appealed the Venice verdict. It is the first time that a high-ranking officer of the Navy has been convicted of manslaughter in relation to asbestos exposure in the Navy. See: Amianto, Marina bis: Cassazione conferma condanna Ammiraglio Di Donna e Marina Militare [Asbestos, Marina bis: Cassation confirms sentence of Admiral Di Donna and Navy].
 

Grassroots Asbestos Program

Jul 13, 2023

A short Portuguese language video uploaded to YouTube showed the pioneering work of medical specialists and victims’ campaigners in Brazil. The footage, which was taken in São Paulo on June 22, 2023 and in Rio de Janeiro on June 30 & July 1, 2023, documented the examination and tests conducted on a high-risk cohort of former workers from the asbestos factory once owned by Brasilit, part of the French multinational Saint Gobain. The former asbestos workers travelled to the Heart Institute (INCOR) of the University of São Paulo for medical examinations at the clinic under the supervision of Dr Ubiratan de Paula Santos. The test results were communicated in person during the follow-up meetings. See: Atividades no INCOR, Julho de 2023 [Activities at INCOR, July 2023].
 

Asbestos in Schools

Jul 13, 2023

On Action Mesothelioma Day 2023, UK teachers’ unions called on the Government to prioritize the removal of asbestos from schools. General Secretary of the teachers’ union NASUWT Dr Patrick Roach was highly critical of the Government’s failure to act: “there is a lack of urgency from the DfE to address the problem. This is needlessly and avoidably passing on a potentially deadly legacy to the staff and children working and learning in our schools today.” General Secretary of the ASCL Geoff Barton agreed: “The government has shown no inclination… address the huge backlog of repairs needed across the school estate. This is further evidence of the government’s failure to prioritise education and the wellbeing of pupils, leaders and staff.” See: Teaching unions call for urgent action to remove deadly asbestos in schools.
 

Asbestos Action in the EU

Jul 13, 2023

The Greek commentary cited below discussed moves by the European Union to address the asbestos hazard; exposures to asbestos are responsible for the majority of work-related diseases diagnosed every year in Europe. An opinion recently approved by the European Committee of the Regions supported the establishment of a common EU framework “to facilitate the detection and safe removal of asbestos from buildings.” More than 220 million buildings in the EU were built before 2005 when asbestos use was banned and between 4.1 and 7.3 million workers are exposed to asbestos every day. See: EU confronts asbestos-related deaths.
 

Asbestos Fly-tipping in Melbourne

Jul 13, 2023

A short video clip showing three men dumping asbestos-cement sheeting and other waste in front of two health clinics in Melbourne was uploaded to the website of the Sydney Morning Herald on July 9, 2023. Sixty patients were turned away due to the closure of the clinics. The owners of the building, who denounced being targeted by the criminals, called in specialists to eradicate the hazard at a cost of thousands of dollars. Police are investigating the incident and called on the public for assistance in identifying the three men shown in the video committing the crime. See: Clinics closed after asbestos dumped in Melbourne.
 

New HSE Mesothelioma Data

Jul 11, 2023

Mesothelioma data for Great Britain produced by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) for 2021 was published on July 6, 2023. The figures showed a reduction in fatalities from 2,570 deaths in 2020 to 2,268 in 2021; an apparent fall of nearly 12%. Obviously, the HSE hopes that this fall will substantiate its long-predicted downturn in asbestos mortality; however, the statistics come with a caveat that: “figures for 2020 and 2021 may have been effected by the coronavirus pandemic.” The majority of the deceased were over 75 years; men who worked in the construction industry “continue to be the most at risk of mesothelioma.” See: HSE Mesothelioma Statistics for Great Britain, 2023.
 

Paris Appeal Court Verdict

Jul 11, 2023

On July 5, 2023, a long-awaited decision by the Paris Court of Appeal confirmed a February 2022 lower court’s ruling dismissing a case brought over asbestos poisoning at Jussieu University in the 5th arrondissement of Paris from 1960 to 1990. On two secondary points, the case was sent back to the investigating judges. Asbestos victims’ campaigners have pledged to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court. See: Amiante: le non-lieu dans l’affaire du campus parisien de Jussieu confirmé en appel [Asbestos: the dismissal in the case of the Parisian campus of Jussieu confirmed on appeal].
 

Asbestos Crimes in BC

Jul 11, 2023

On June 29, 2023, WorkSafeBC – the statutory agency tasked with the prevention of occupational injury and occupational disease in British Columbia – fined restoration firm Canstar Restorations more than $157,000 for infringing asbestos regulations during work at Walnut Grove Secondary School in Langley, BC. According to WorkSafeBC the firm “failed to take the necessary precautions to protect workers.” This year BC became the first jurisdiction in Canada to require contractors removing asbestos to be licensed. See: B.C. company fined $157K for 'high-risk' school asbestos removal.
 

Asbestos in Schools

Jul 11, 2023

According to a report released in Seoul on July 3, 2023 by the Environmental Health Citizens’ Center and the Gyeonggi Environmental Movement Alliance, around 40% of the elementary, middle and high schools in the Gyeonggi area of Korea still contain asbestos. During the coming months, whilst the schools are shut due to summer vacations, the authorities will be removing asbestos from 35 schools including 13 elementary, 10 middle and 12 high schools. See: 경기지역 학교 969곳, 석면 무방비 노출 [969 schools in Gyeonggi area exposed to asbestos Unprotected].
 

Asbestos Strike in Buenos Aires

Jul 11, 2023

On July 5, 2023, the Subway and Metro Workers Union Association held a strike throughout the subway system in Buenos Aires calling for a cut in working hours to reduce occupational exposures to asbestos. Various lines of the system were affected at different time periods during the day. According to a union press release, more than 900.000 subway users were affected by the strike. In a statement, the union said that despite attempts to decrease asbestos exposures experienced by the workforce, the employers had declined to engage in negotiations with union representatives. See: Subway lines to hold a staggered strike throughout the day.
 

Calls for National Asbestos Program

Jul 11, 2023

Last week, Ugandan MP Jackson Lee called on the government to honor its 2020 promise to renovate the national educational infrastructure. At that time, the authorities had pledged to implement a phased approach to remove asbestos and modernize schools. According to Lee, no remediation work has been carried out in the schools in the West Nile and “they are still roofed with asbestos iron sheets that have been proved to be a health risk.” The use of asbestos-containing products remains legal in Uganda. See: MP wants Gov't to renovate traditional schools.
 

New Asbestos Action Plan for Paris

Jul 10, 2023

Following the broadcast of a TV program which exposed widespread asbestos contamination of schools in the French capital, on July 3 the administration of the Mayor of Paris Anne Hidaglo announced a coordinated program which would adopt a multi-pronged and transparent approach to tackle the problem. The eradication of asbestos from schools in Paris is, said experts “a huge project, 4 to 5 billion per year for ten years…It's a colossal budgetary effort… We will still have it for years or decades.” See: Paris: La mairie lance un plan d’action contre l’amiante et publie les données disponibles [Paris: The town hall launches an action plan against asbestos and publishes the available data].
 

Victim’s Victory in Minas Gerais

Jul 10, 2023

On July 3, 2023, a division of the Superior Labor Court reversed decisions by lower courts and recognized the liability of the owners of a steel plant in the Brazilian State of Minas Gerais belonging to Usinas Siderúrgicas de Minas Gerais SA (Usiminas) for the pharyngeal and throat cancer contracted by an employee who had routinely been exposed to asbestos at work. The complainant had worked for Usiminas for 32 years, beginning in 1979. See: Siderúrgica é responsabilizada por câncer de operador exposto a amianto [Steel company blamed for cancer of operator exposed to asbestos].
 

Asbestos on Lombok Island

Jul 10, 2023

A graphic report by the Australian Broadcasting Company which was uploaded on July 4, 2023 detailed widespread asbestos contamination on Lombak island, a popular tourist destination in Indonesia. Thirty-one samples taken at 100 locations were analyzed by three different laboratories; asbestos was found in two thirds of the samples. Prior to the 2018 earthquake, 25% of the homes on Lombak had asbestos-cement roofs. After the disaster, the damaged homes were bulldozed by the government, thereby spreading the asbestos even further. See: VIDEO: Asbestos posing a threat to tourists and locals in Lombok.
 

July is Mesothelioma Month

Jul 10, 2023

In July, asbestos victims, family members and campaigners from the Mesothelioma Support Caravan Team engage in a series of events to raise awareness of the hazard of asbestos exposures in Japan in collaboration with the Mesothelioma/Asbestos Disease/Patients and Families Group, the National Cancer Center, Rare Cancer Center and other stakeholders throughout the country. See: 7月は中皮腫啓発月間 Mesothelioma Awareness Month [July is Mesothelioma Awareness Month].
 

Asbestos on the Railways

Jul 10, 2023

A letter written by four former employees of Italy’s State Railways to the country’s President Sergio Mattarella urged him to intervene in their long running battle for asbestos justice. Even though a criminal trial five years ago found executives of the State Railways guilty of failing to protect workers from asbestos exposures, no compensation has been received by the injured. The authors of the letter told Mattarella that they were victims of 40-years of state crimes and had “been abandoned by the institutions to suffer a silent death and the loss of our dignity as workers and citizens.” See: Amianto, ex dipendenti di Isochimica chiedono aiuto a Mattarella [Asbestos, former Isochimica employees ask Mattarella for help].
 

Asbestos in Schools

Jul 10, 2023

On July 2, 2023 the Sunday Times carried a front-page article exposing the national scandal of asbestos in schools and calling for the government to commit to eradicating this hazard. This was followed by the British Safety Council reiterating its committal to supporting recommendations made last year (2022) by a Parliamentary Select Committee, that included the need for a “national strategy for the planned removal of all asbestos over the next 40 years, including identifying properties most in need of urgent action and clear guidance on the safe disposal of asbestos.” See: Sunday Times backs call to remove asbestos in schools.
 

Claiming Mesothelioma Benefits

Jul 6, 2023

According to the Ministry of Labor in Taiwan, people who contract the asbestos cancer mesothelioma having worked with asbestos-containing material are entitled to bring a claim. Eligible applicants will be awarded the sum of 200,000 yuan (US$6,400) in disability benefits as per stipulations of the Disaster Insurance Act Article 78. According to government estimates, a maximum of 300 mesothelioma claimants in Taiwan would qualify for Disability Benefits from the Occupational Accident Insurance Scheme. See: 從事石綿工作罹間皮細胞瘤亡 遺屬可申請慰問金 [Engaged in asbestos work and suffering from mesothelioma, survivors can apply for support].
 

Eternit’s Sham “Reinvention”

Jul 6, 2023

Calls by the Brazilian Eternit company, which was the country’s leading asbestos conglomerate for decades and still mines asbestos in the State of Goiás, for government support for its latest business venture promoting the use of solar fiber cement tiles for low cost housing were greeted with outrage by the leaders of asbestos victims’ groups who demanded that before any support was forthcoming, the company must immediately stop all asbestos mining operations and make full restitution to all the workers, members of the public and others who have been injured by exposures to Eternit asbestos. See: Do amianto à energia solar: Eternit leva telha que gera eletricidade para a favela [From asbestos to solar energy: Eternit to make tiles that generate electricity for favela].
 

Asbestos and the Police

Jul 6, 2023

The Rome base for the first Trevi police group was evacuated last week after the discovery of asbestos-containing material underneath the vinyl flooring. After the three-floor building in Greca Street was sealed off by order of Commander Angeloni, staff were relocated to the former canteen of police Headquarters, in Consolazione Street. See: L’amianto sfratta i vigili dal comando in centro a Roma: “Alto rischio di tumori” [Asbestos evicts the police from command [base] in center of Rome: “High risk of tumors”].
 

Asbestos in Schools

Jul 6, 2023

On June 28, 2023, the Office of Education of the Korean City of Daejeon announced plans to remove asbestos at four schools whilst they are empty during the summer vacation at a cost of 5.3 billion won (US$4m). Before work begins, briefings will be held for the asbestos monitor group and faculty members. According to a spokesperson for the municipality: “We will do our best to ensure that asbestos dismantling and removal work during the summer vacation can be carried out in a transparent and safe manner, with both parents and faculty members agreeing.” See: 대전서부교육청「여름방학 석면해체·제거 공사 추진」 [Daejeon Seobu Office of Education, promoting asbestos dismantling and removal work during summer vacation].
 

Asbestos Motion in Holyrood

Jul 6, 2023

A motion heard in the Scottish Parliament on June 29, 2023 tabled by Marie McNair, which was supported by 31 Members of the Scottish Parliament, recognized the importance of Action Mesothelioma Day (AMD) and the importance of work carried out by asbestos victims’ groups such as Clydebank Asbestos Group “which has provided information and support to people with asbestos-related conditions for over 30 years…” The motion noted “the need for continued research into mesothelioma…” AMD is scheduled for July 7, 2023. See: Parliamentary Motion S6M-09075 by Marie McNair.
 

Construction Workers’ Victory

Jul 4, 2023

In a June 30, 2023 ruling, the Osaka District Court ordered 12 manufacturers of asbestos construction products to pay compensation of 940 million yen (US$6.5m) to 73 plaintiffs injured as a result of asbestos exposures at construction sites. In his verdict Judge Maru said: “The victims suffered tremendous physical pain, their quality of daily life declined, and they were deprived of their enjoyment of life. The mental chagrin of not being able to live and contribute to society through work is immeasurable.” See: 建設アスベスト訴訟 メーカー12社に約9.4億円の賠償を命じる 大阪地裁 [Construction asbestos lawsuit Orders 12 manufacturers to pay compensation of about 940 million yen Osaka District Court].
 

Asbestos Eradication of Rio de Janeiro

Jul 4, 2023

In a public hearing on June 29, 2023 at the Legislative Assembly of Rio de Janeiro, deputy Carlos Minc announced plans to eradicate the asbestos hazard from the State in the presence of asbestos victims, campaigners and their advisors. In due course, deputy Minc will table specific proposals to tackle multiple aspects of the State’s asbestos legacy, including measures that will protect occupational and environmental health, promote sustainable development and safely manage environmental contamination. See: Carlos Minc anuncia audiência pública pelo fim do cancerígeno amianto no Estado, propondo programa pioneiro no país [Carlos Minc announces public hearing for the end of the carcinogen asbestos in the State, proposing a pioneering program in the country].
 

Protecting Workers from Asbestos

Jul 4, 2023

On June 27, 2023, it was announced that an agreement had been reached by the European Parliament and the European Council which would protect EU workers from exposures to asbestos within national infrastructures. Revisions of the Asbestos at Work Directive will not only drastically reduce asbestos exposures, but will also ensure the use of more accurate ways to measure exposure levels in line with the latest technology; implement safety protocols to better control work by asbestos removal and demolition companies; and mandate the establishment of national registers of all those diagnosed with asbestos-related occupational diseases. See: EU agrees better protection of workers against asbestos.
 

Review of EPA Asbestos Paper

Jul 4, 2023

A call for 10 to 15 scientific and technical experts to review the US Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) 2023 White Paper on the Quantitative Human Health Approach to be Applied in the Risk Evaluation for Asbestos Part 2 was issued on June 22, 2023. According to the EPA, the white paper will be released for public review and comment in late July 2023. In this white paper, the conditions of use (COU) of asbestos, including other types of asbestos in addition to chrysotile, “that EPA had excluded from Part 1 as legacy uses and associated disposals, as well as any COU of asbestos-containing talc” will be evaluated. See: EPA Requests Nominations for Experts to Review White Paper to Be Used in the Risk Evaluation for Asbestos Part 2 under TSCA.
 

Asbestos in Schools

Jul 4, 2023

According to information obtained as a result of a Freedom of Information request by ITV News, 13 schools in Jersey and 16 in Guernsey still contain asbestos. According to a spokesperson for Jersey Property Holdings, the government company that owns States buildings: “The presence of asbestos in school buildings is something that is being managed and is not currently causing any safety issues…The buildings are regularly monitored and parents should be assured there is no cause for concern.” See: 29 Channel Island schools still have asbestos within buildings.
 

Who’s Setting the Asbestos Agenda in India?

Jul 4, 2023

The commentary cited below reviewed the inglorious role played by India during international negotiations to regulate the global trade in chrysotile (white) asbestos. Under the scope of the United Nations’ Rotterdam Convention. “For [too] long,” the author wrote “India’s position on chrysotile has remained hostage to the tremendous clout of the Russian asbestos industry and some 18 major manufacturers of asbestos based products in India. Government is yet reveal the names in environmental and occupational health which it consulted in this regard.” See: Indian corporates ‘guilty of using’ deadly asbestos mostly imported from Russia.
 

Asbestos Lung Cancer Alert!

Jun 29, 2023

According to data released at the end of May 2023 by the Ministry of Health of the Russian Republic Udmurt, 1,498 residents of Udmurt with lung cancer have been registered. In the article cited below by journalist Anastasia Vasilyeva, it was noted that most of those diagnosed with the disease were men, many of whom had been exposed to asbestos whilst at work. According to oncologist Nadezhda Bochkareva, “to reduce the risk of developing cancer, an employee in hazardous work needs to protect the respiratory tract from contact with asbestos dust and heavy metals.” See: Почти 1,5 тысячи жителей Удмуртии состоят на учете с раком легких [Almost 1,500 residents of Udmurt are registered with lung cancer].
 

Update from Trenton Court

Jun 29, 2023

On June 27, 2023, in Trenton, New Jersey US Bankruptcy Judge Michael Kaplan began hearing evidence and arguments over Johnson & Johnson’s (J&J) latest $8.9 billion plan to settle 38,000+ asbestos-related cancer lawsuits which alleged that the company sold baby powder contaminated with asbestos fibers. In April, 2023, J&J had tried unsuccessfully to convince a US appeals court that the bankruptcy of its subsidiary LTL Management, into which all the parent company’s asbestos lawsuits had been dumped, was legitimate. The company is hoping that its arguments will find favor with the NJ Judge. See: J&J's $8.9 billion talc settlement faces US bankruptcy test.
 

Prison Sentence for Asbestos Crimes

Jun 29, 2023

Robert Martin, 73, a former civil servant in Marseille, was sentenced to two years in jail for the lung cancer deaths of two employees – a maintenance worker and a theater administrator – of the Criée theater. Despite knowing about the presence of asbestos in the theater, the one-time head of the Marseille administrative center waited two years to take action to protect workers from toxic exposures. Martin will be allowed to serve his sentence at home under electronic surveillance. See: Amiante dans un théâtre marseillais: prison ferme pour un ex-fonctionnaire à la ville [Asbestos in a Marseille theater: prison term for a former civil servant in the city].
 

Asbestos in the Navy

Jun 29, 2023

The Court of Rome ordered the Ministry of Defense to pay compensation of €950,000 euros (US$ 1,041,000) to family members of electrician and diver Salvatore Carollo who died in 2019, aged 63, from pleural mesothelioma. The deceased had been exposed to high concentrations of asbestos dust during his service with the Italian Navy from 1972 to 1978. See: Amianto nelle navi della Marina Militare: la Difesa condannata a risarcire i familiari di un elettricista morto [Asbestos in the ships of the Navy: Defense ordered to compensate Carollo's family members].
 

Kuboto Shock

Jun 29, 2023

In the run-up to the 18th anniversary of the Kubota Shock – a seismic moment when Japanese society woke up to the existence of an ongoing epidemic injuring and killing thousands of people every year – a photographic exhibition is being held in Amagasaki City on June 23-25, 2023. On display will be pictures of asbestos patients, who were exposed to asbestos fibers liberated by the commercial operations at the Kubota Kanzaki Plant in Amagasaki City, and their families. See: アスベスト患者ら21人の思い伝える 尼崎で写真展、7月2日に集会 [Photo exhibition in Amagasaki, gathering on July 2].
 

Mesothelioma Compensation from DMPS

Jun 29, 2023

A plumber from St Albans who was diagnosed with mesothelioma in December 2022 after contracting a chest infection, was unable to bring a claim against his former employer as there had been no employer’s liability insurance in place during his employment. An application was submitted to the Government’s Diffuse Mesothelioma Payment Scheme (DMPS) and the sum of £94,424 was obtained. The applicant had worked with asbestos in boiler houses removing and replacing lagging from pipework as an apprentice in the 1950s. See: DMPS settlement for plumber exposed to asbestos in the late 1950s.
 

Supreme Court Criticism

Jun 28, 2023

On a June 22, 2023 transmission of GloboNews – a Brazilian news-based pay TV channel – the journalist and former federal deputy Fernando Gabeira, author in the 1990s of a bill to ban asbestos, criticized Supreme Court Minister (Judge) Alexandre de Moraes who, in a recent judgment, advocated that the production of asbestos at the chrysotile (white asbestos) mine in Goiás State be allowed to continue for another year for export purposes. See: Comentário de Fernando Gabeira: Encontro marcado: Lula e Alexandre de Moraes se aproximam [Comment by Fernando Gabeira: scheduled meeting of Lula and Alexandre de Moraes draws closer].
 

Asbestos Diseases Symposium

Jun 28, 2023

From June 21 to 23, 2023, an International Symposium & Workshop on Asbestos-related Diseases was held for medical specialists at Binawan University in Jakarta, Indonesia. Amongst the areas explored by a range of experts were various aspects of: oncology, epidemiology, public health, radiology, specialist nursing and pathology. The events were organized and supported by the Indonesian Ban Asbestos Network (Ina-Ban), Local Initiative for OSH Network (LIONS), Australia’s Union Aid Abroad (APHEDA) and other Australian partnering organizations. See: Dukungan Kolaboratif Tenaga Medis untuk Eliminasi Penyakit Akibat Asbes [Medical Personnel Collaborative Support for Eliminating Diseases Due to Asbestos].
 

Quebec’s Plans to Recycle Asbestos Waste

Jun 28, 2023

On June 22, 2023 at a Quebec press conference in the former asbestos mining town now called Val-des-Sources, the Provincial Government of Quebec announced that it would provide $3 million to fund research into recycling asbestos tailings. The money will be used to set up and fund a research chair at the Université de Sherbrooke to investigate how critical minerals, like magnesium and nickel, can be extracted from 800 million tonnes of toxic waste created by decades of asbestos mining. See: Province funds research into asbestos mineral extraction.
 

Asbestos Outreach Project

Jun 28, 2023

A new project has been started by the Department of Health of the Brazilian city of Capivari, São Paulo State to support the asbestos-injured. The aim is to screen 3,000 former workers or others who had toxic exposures for symptoms of asbestos-related diseases and/or cancers such as mesothelioma. Patients will be examined at the health unit at the IST Outpatient Clinic at a convenient time as set by the patient. For additional information about access to this and other related services, contact the Department of Health by phone (19) 3492-8200, from Monday to Friday, from 8:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. See: Campanha de assistência médica gratuita à quem teve contato com amianto tem início [Program of free medical assistance to those who had contact with asbestos begins].
 

Stopping Asbestos Fly-tipping

Jun 28, 2023

On June 22, 2023, Australia’s Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency uploaded a handbook (guide) containing revised (2022) guidelines “for the local government sector, specifically council workers who have any role in preventing and addressing illegal asbestos disposal.” The objective of the guide was to reduce fly-tipping of asbestos waste not only by individuals but also by commercial companies not only because of the threat to public health presented by these illegal activities but also because of the cost to the community of remediating the deadly contamination. See: Action on Illegal Disposal of Asbestos – A Guide for Local Government.
 

Remediating Asbestos Site in Montana

Jun 28, 2023

Early in June, Environmental Protection Agency Community Involvement Coordinator Beth Archer told residents and local officials about the latest developments regarding the former vermiculite mine at the Libby Asbestos Superfund site in the run-up to the commencement of a new phase of the US Government’s cleanup of the toxic town. Dania Zinner, remedial project manager for the EPA said the proposed plan would be completed by by 2025 or 2026, adding: “We make sure that we put a lot of long-term management tools onto a property, just to make sure that the remedy stays protective of human health and the environment into perpetuity, so forever.” See: EPA recaps progress, looks at former mine site.
 

“Crushing Defeat” for Asbestos Industry

Jun 26, 2023

On June 16, 2023, Brazil’s Supreme Court unanimously rejected the arguments of asbestos stakeholders from the National Confederation of Workers in Industry who challenged the legitimacy of asbestos bans in the States of São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Pernambuco, Rio Grande do Sul and City of São Paulo. In a virtual plenary session, the Judges expressed disdain for the asbestos industry’s rhetoric that: chrysotile (white) asbestos could be used safely under controlled conditions; the inhalation of chrysotile fibers are not harmful to human health; banning chrysotile mining, processing and export would cause massive unemployment and financial ruin to communities reliant on the industry. See: Indústria do cancerígeno amianto sofre mais uma derrota no STF [Asbestos carcinogen industry suffers another defeat in the STF].
 

iMig Meeting 2023

Jun 26, 2023

In the run-up to the 2023 meeting of the International Mesothelioma Interest Group (iMig) in Lille, France from June 26 to 28, iMig President Professor Scherpereel told an Italian journalist that even in countries like France where asbestos use was banned decades ago, people are still dying from asbestos-related diseases. In France, there are one thousand cases of mesothelioma – the signature cancer associate with asbestos exposure – diagnosed every year. In many industrializing countries, asbestos use remains legal. See: Amianto e cancro al polmone/ L’oncologo: “Politici di certi paesi negano la cancerosità per motivi economici” [Asbestos and lung cancer/ The oncologist: “Politicians in certain countries deny carcinogenicity for economic reasons”].
 

Asbestos Remediation Work: Update

Jun 26, 2023

According to the municipal authorities in the Turkish city of Adana, a pipe renewal project by the Adana Metropolitan Municipality Water and Sewerage Administration, which started in 2019, is still ongoing. The work is being carried out to upgrade the old asbestos water delivery network with healthier pipes to protect public health and “ensure that citizens in every part of Adana have access to healthy and high quality drinking water.” Four hundred and forty kilometers of asbestos pipes have been replaced in various parts of the city. See: Asbestli borulardan bir şehir daha kurtuldu [Another city saved from asbestos pipes].
 

Duty of Care Owed

Jun 26, 2023

On June 20, 2023, a 26-page ruling by the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit reversed a district court summary judgment which found that a manufacturer had not owed a duty of care to its customers, such as Bruce Johnson who contracted cancer as a result of exposure to asbestos contained in vermiculite packaging material used by Orton Ceramic. Mr. Johnson was diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma on March 3, 2017; he died on January 6, 2020. The case was remanded for further proceedings. See: Judgment in the appeal of the Deborah Johnson vs Edward Orton, Jr. Ceramic Foundation.
 

Toxic Gemstones

Jun 26, 2023

An urgent recall has been issued in Australia for gemstones purchased in 1 kilogram bags from new age gift shops on the East Coast. According to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, the green and black stones, which contain asbestos, were supplied by Alliz Trading. The gemstones were sold online and by traders in the states of Victoria and New South Wales. Consumers should stop using the products and contact Alliz Trading Pty Ltd for information about the disposal of the stones and the process of getting a full refund. See: ‘May contain asbestos’: Gemstones sold in east coast new age gift stores recalled.
 

Health Surveillance of At-Risk Population

Jun 26, 2023

From June 16 to 29, 2023, an asbestos outreach program in the South Korean town of Hongseong-gun is screening residents from the area to identify those who may have a condition caused by asbestos exposures. Participants in this health project will receive a free medical checkup and be X-rayed. They will also be asked to complete a questionnaire. Anyone who shows symptoms of disease will receive a second detailed examination and undergo procedures such as a chest CT and lung function test. The medical care is being provided by the Asbestos Environmental Health Center of Soonchunhyang University. See: 홍성군, ‘석면 건강 영향조사’ 실시 [Hongseong-gun conducts ‘asbestos health impact survey’].
 

J&J Baby Powder Banned

Jun 22, 2023

In a statement made on June 17, 2023, Rwanda’s Food and Drug Authority (FDA) recalled all talcum-based baby powder products made by Johnson & Johnson (J&J) in response to similar actions taken by authorities in other countries. All importers, distributors and retailers of cosmetics products were also ordered by the FDA to immediately end the import and sale of J&J’s baby powder. J&J is currently being sued by The African Center for Corrective and Preventive Action – a Nairobi-based NGO – over its toxic exports to Kenya. Other African countries which have banned J&J baby powder include Tanzania, Zimbabwe and the Republic of Congo. See: Rwanda FDA Recalls Johnson’s Baby Powder.
 

Father’s Day without Dad

Jun 22, 2023

A touching and timely article published on Father’s Day by Kate Hash described her family’s loss, five years after her father died from the asbestos cancer, mesothelioma. For years, the author said, she had struggled with the concept of receiving money for his death in the form of compensation from the employer which had negligently exposed him to asbestos at the steel mill where he worked. “This year,” she wrote “will be the first time I feel in touch with and comfortable in the power of the inheritance that my dad has left me.” See: My dad died from work-related mesothelioma. Receiving compensation was both empowering and painful.
 

Post-Disaster Asbestos Hazard

Jun 22, 2023

The paper cited below was published online in the June 19, 2023 issue of the British Journal of Medicine. It included an extensive discussion of the management of waste created by the 2023 earthquakes in Turkey and Syria. Asbestos was just one of the aspects covered: “Risk of asbestos exposure is a public concern. Asbestos use was banned in the country in 2010, but it still exists in buildings in different forms, such as insulation or isolation materials. Asbestos containing materials are expected to be found in earthquake debris, especially as most of the collapsed buildings were built before 1999. Additionally, earthquake affected areas are among the places where environmental asbestos exposure was already a problem before the disaster.” See: Disaster waste management after earthquakes: lessons from Turkey and Syria.
 

Saying No to Asbestos Dump!

Jun 22, 2023

Earlier this week, the Regional Administrative Court for Piedmont (TAR) upheld an appeal by the Italian cities of Santhià and Carisio objecting to plans to build an asbestos landfill in the city of Salussola, about 6 miles away from the towns. The ruling was warmly received by local communities with Santhià’s Mayor Angela Ariotti telling reporters: “Needless to say how happy this news makes us. It is the result of much, much work carried out in recent years. We fought hard and with determination, but today I am happy to say that in the future there will be no asbestos dumps on our territory.” See: Il Tar blocca la discarica di amianto di Salussola [The TAR blocks the Salussola asbestos landfill].
 

Screening of At-Risk Firefighters

Jun 22, 2023

Data showing that the incidence of cancer amongst UK firefighters aged 35-39 was as much as 323% more than the general population was pivotal in plans to develop a health screening regime to detect early signs of disease. As part of the initiative – The National Firefighter Health Monitoring Research Project – commissioned by the Fire Brigades Union, hundreds of firefighters will be screened for cancer and other health issues. Participants will be required to provide blood and urine samples which will be tested for signs of cancer and other diseases. See: Hundreds of London firefighters to be tested for cancer with call for regular health monitoring.
 

Holding Asbestos Stakeholders to Account

Jun 22, 2023

The conviction of a Swiss billionaire by an Italian court earlier this month was a warning to Indian asbestos entrepreneurs that they too could be held to account for the harm they caused to workers, family members and the community. The defendant was Stephan Schmidheiny, of the Swiss Eternit asbestos group; Eternit also operated plants in India. “It is high time,” wrote the author that “the Government of India and State governments took steps to make the manufacturers of asbestos based products liable for knowingly exposing the present and future generation of Indians to killer fibers. There is a compelling logic for charging these manufacturers with the offence of manslaughter.” See: Lessons for India from Swiss asbestos tycoon found guilty for causing death of 392 people.
 

Supreme Court Asbestos Ruling

Jun 19, 2023

On June 16, 2023, President of the Brazilian Supreme Court (STF) Rosa Weber issued her ruling in the long-running case regarding a law passed by Goiás State which countermanded a 2017 Supreme Court verdict outlawing the commercial exploitation of asbestos in Brazil. According to Weber, the Goiás law was unconstitutional; the most important thing, she noted, was the “preservation of the right to health, and to the ecologically balanced environment.” Earlier this month, Judge Alexander Moraes allowed the industry another year to mine asbestos fibers. The other STF judges are yet to issue their decisions. See: Presidente do STF, Rosa Weber, vota contra o cancerígeno amianto [President of the STF, Rosa Weber, votes against carcinogenic asbestos].
 

Asbestos Victim’s Ruling in Florence

Jun 19, 2023

Last week, the Florence Court of Appeal increased the amount of compensation awarded by a first instance court in Livorno to the relatives of a factory worker from €570,000 to €690,000 (US$755,000). The Appeal Court rejected the arguments of the defendant’s lawyers who denied that the Solvay company was responsible for the 2010 lung cancer death of Romano Posarelli, aged 67. Mr. Posarelli had worked as a boilermaker in Solvay’s factory in Rosignano from 1974 to 1993. See: Amianto, Solvay condannata per la morte di un operaio: 690mila euro il risarcimento alla famiglia di Posarelli [Asbestos, Solvay sentenced for the death of a worker: 690 thousand euros compensation to the Posarelli family].
 

Asbestos in Cosmetics

Jun 19, 2023

The feature length article in the US magazine cited below explored the background to the thousands of US lawsuits proceeding over the harmful consequences of consumers use of cosmetic and healthcare talc-based products contaminated with asbestos fibers. Scientific articles are referenced and lists of brands and products are included along with warnings about the consequences for human health of exposure to asbestos. Despite the known hazard, the Food and Drug Administration “does not regulate cosmetic-grade talc.” Readers are advised to use products which are not talc-based. See: Asbestos in Cosmetics: Should We Worry?
 

Mesothelioma Research: Update

Jun 19, 2023

On June 13, 2023, it was announced that the charity Mesothelioma UK had awarded the sum of £38,000 for an 18-month research project – ‘EXTRA-Meso feasibility study: EXercise TheRApy in Mesothelioma’ – to research whether exercise therapy could improve symptom control, fitness and the quality of life of patients with mesothelioma, the signature cancer associated with asbestos exposure. People interested in taking part in this study, which will begin in summer 2023, can contact their Mesothelioma UK Clinical Nurse Specialist; email info@mesothelioma.uk.com or call freephone 0800 169 2409. See: Mesothelioma UK awards £38,000 grant for new research study into exercise therapy for asbestos-related cancer patients.
 

Asbestos Remediation of Schools

Jun 19, 2023

On June 16, 2023, the Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education announced that it would take punitive action in accordance with provisions of the Asbestos Safety Management Act and the Occupational Safety and Health Act against companies convicted of falsifying reports regarding asbestos removal projects. This public declaration was made in response to footage taken by a whistleblower of unsafe working practices by asbestos removal contractors at an elementary school in Seoul. See: 서울시교육청 "학교 석면 해체 허위 보고서 업체, 제재" [Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education “Sanctions against companies reporting false reports on dismantling asbestos in schools].
 

Post-disaster Asbestos Hazard

Jun 19, 2023

In the aftermath of fires which devastated vast areas of the Greek Island of Evia in the summer of 2021, the presence of asbestos in the debris left from destroyed buildings continues to hamper recovery work. While the residents of North Evia continue to press for urgent government action, the Ministry of Energy has not yet begun work to remove the toxic waste. Campaigners say that two years after the fire took place, a tender has only just been opened to specialist asbestos contractors. See: «SOS» για τη Βόρεια Εύβοια: Κομμάτια καμμένου αμίαντου παραμένουν στην περιοχή [“SOS” for Northern Evia: Pieces of burnt asbestos remain in the area].
 

Strengthening IMO’s Asbestos Prohibitions

Jun 16, 2023

Revisions were adopted this month (June 2023) to International Maritime Organization (IMO) codes prohibiting the use of asbestos-containing materials. The new restrictions – which enter into force on January 1, 2024 – will forbid the new installation of asbestos-containing materials on all Mobile Offshore Drilling Units (MODUs): “Any repairs, replacements, maintenance, or additions to working parts of a MODU should be documented with a declaration of asbestos-free materials.” See: MSC 107: MODU Code Revised to Improve Asbestos Safety.
 

Asbestos in Schools

Jun 16, 2023

The reverberations of a TV broadcast last week on France 5 – a public television channel – detailing the widespread presence of asbestos material in schools continue, with scores of recent newspaper articles detailing the situation in local areas. The article cited below commented on the news that more than 5,000 schools are contaminated, explaining that the broadcast only reviewed the situation in 15,804 schools; there are 50,000 schools in the country. The Ministry of National Education said that it did not have up-to-date information on asbestos in schools and that this issue was the responsibility of local authorities. See: Amiante à l'école: au moins 5500 établissements encore touchés [Asbestos at school: at least 5,500 establishments still affected].
 

Analysis of Court Ruling

Jun 16, 2023

A week after a landmark judgment was handed down by the Court of Assizes in Novara, Italy, victims’ campaigner Bruno Pesce analyzed aspects of the verdict in the article cited below. It was, said Pesce, a “very important sentence: the arguments of the defense have essentially all been rejected,…if it were confirmed in the Supreme Court it would have enormous relevance in Italy and internationally.” See: Sentenza Eternit Bis: «La prima tappa è vinta, ma la strada è lunga» [Eternit Bis ruling: “The first stage is won, but the road is long”].
 

J&J Sued by Nairobi NGO

Jun 16, 2023

On June 12, 2023, a Nairobi-based non-governmental organization called the African Centre for Corrective & Preventive Action (ACCPA) filed a lawsuit at the High Court over sales of Johnson & Johnson’s (J&J) baby powder products in Kenya. The ACCPA petition alleged that the talc-based products, which have been withdrawn from sale in North American markets and banned from sale in Tanzania, Zimbabwe & the Congo etc., contain carcinogenic asbestos fibers and, as such, pose a health risk to consumers. See: Johnson &Johnson sued over sale of baby powder in Kenya.
 

Restitution from Convicted Felon?

Jun 16, 2023

Commenting on the guilty verdict handed down by a court in Novara, Italy on June 7, 2023, Italian Oncologist Frederic Grosso said: “the massacre caused by asbestos is not over. We will see it for many more decades given the latency times of the disease…Schmidheiny should invest part of his immense wealth in the search for a cure, for example by buying a pharmaceutical company and putting it to work on finding a cure for mesothelioma. Covid has taught us that if we commit everyone to the same goal, the cure is found.” See: L'oncologa Grosso: “La strage dell'amianto sarà lunghissima, il vero risarcimento per i malati è investire in cure” [Oncologist Grosso: “The asbestos massacre will be very long, the real compensation for the sick is to invest in treatment”].
 

Supporting the Asbestos Injured

Jun 16, 2023

In-person consultations for people suffering from asbestos-related diseases took place in Toyama City, Japan on June 11. The advice session was organized by an asbestos victims’ support group which provided specialized counselors to consult with asbestos victims who had queries about a range of issues. According to Hiroatsu Narita of the Hokuriku Branch Secretariat of Mesothelioma & Asbestos Diseases’ Patients & Families’ Association: “In Toyama Prefecture… there are fewer cases certified as workers’ accidents due to asbestos, and there are potential patients” who remain unidentified. See: アスベスト健康被害の無料相談会 4年ぶりに富山市で開催 [Free consultation on asbestos health hazards held in Toyama City for the first time in four years].
 

Asbestos Ban in 2025!

Jun 14, 2023

On June 5, 2023, it was announced by the Ministry of Information that the Government of Cambodia would ban the use of asbestos in 2025 in order to “to improve workers’ welfare.” During comments made that day by Minister of Labor and Vocational Training (MOLVT) H.E. Dr. ITH Sam work by the Government to raise awareness of the asbestos hazard amongst ministries, institutions, partnering organizations, commercial ventures, and workers’ groups was detailed. The compilation by the MOLVT of National Asbestos Profiles in 2019 and 2022 were fundamental in laying the groundwork for the prohibitions to be adopted. See: ព័ត៌មានជាតិ កម្ពុជាបញ្ឈប់ការប្រើប្រាស់សារធាតុអាបេស្តូសនៅត្រឹមឆ្នាំ២០២៥ ខាងមុខ [Cambodia will stop using asbestos by 2025].
 

New Asbestos Removal Licensing Regime

Jun 14, 2023

New measures are to be introduced in British Columbia (BC) to ensure workers are better protected from the asbestos hazard. As of January 1, 2024, asbestos removal contractors in BC must possess licenses to carry out this work. BC is the first Canadian Province to introduce a licensing system for asbestos eradication companies. Beginning in September 2023, WorkSafeBC – a statutory agency tasked with preventing occupational injuries and diseases – will accept license applications from contractors; a registry of licensees will be published by the end of 2023. See: New requirements expected to protect asbestos workers.
 

Asbestos an Issue in Buenos Aires Strike

Jun 14, 2023

On June 8, 2023, the Subway and Premetro Workers Union Association held a strike of their members working on all subway lines in Buenos Aires. The union’s demands for better working conditions included measures to reduce asbestos exposures to workers, such as a guaranteed two-day break from workplace asbestos exposures. Strikers took industrial action for between 4 to 5 hours throughout the day. Union representatives said that the employers had refused to engage in discussions with union officials. The company said that work was ongoing to eradicate asbestos from the subway. See: Subway lines to hold a staggered strike throughout the day.
 

Supreme Court: Update

Jun 14, 2023

Years after Brazil’s Supreme Court issued its judgment banning the use of asbestos throughout the country, asbestos is still being produced and exported. Pending litigation before the Court could, once and for all, end the travesty whereby asbestos is deemed too dangerous to be used at home and yet is casually being sold overseas. On June 9, 2023, Supreme Court Justice Alexandre de Moraes issued a ruling supporting the continued exploitation of chrysotile (white) asbestos at the country’s sole remaining mine. Decisions from the other Supreme Court justices should be handed down by the middle of the month. See: Ministro Alexandre de Moraes concede mais um ano de sobrevida à indústria do amianto [Minister Alexandre de Moraes grants one more year of survival to the asbestos industry].
 

Asbestos Hazard Alert

Jun 14, 2023

A recent online article warned the public of the dangers of asbestos exposures in China, one of the world’s leading asbestos-producing and using countries. The author of the article cited below said that even though China had banned the use of all amphiboles, the use of chrysotile (white) asbestos remained legal and regulations to protect the population from toxic exposures were not yet in place. Workers and members of the public were warned to take steps to minimize asbestos exposures at work and at home. See: 级致癌物石棉,潜伏期可达数十年,你用过的这些物品可能都有 [Asbestos, a first-class carcinogen, has an incubation period of up to several decades, and you may have been exposed by many items you have used].
 

Supporting Lung Cancer Sufferers

Jun 14, 2023

An Early Day Motion (EDM) – a device used by Parliamentarians to draw attention to a particular subject – was tabled on May 25, 2023 entitled: Asbestos-related lung cancer. Recognizing that “sufferers of asbestos-related lung cancer are denied full compensation if they are unable to trace all their former employers whose negligence contributed to the disease… urges the Government to introduce legislation similar to section three of the Compensation Act 2006 for sufferers of asbestos-related cancer.” See: EDM (Early Day Motion) 1223: tabled on May 25, 2023: Asbestos-related lung cancer.
 

Firefighters & the Asbestos Hazard

Jun 12, 2023

It was reported on June 5, 2023 that following asbestos discoveries at New Zealand fire stations, WorkSafe New Zealand – the country’s workplace safety regulator – ordered a review of asbestos management plans at hundreds of the country's fire stations. The decision was taken, said WorkSafe, after enquiries had shown that Fire and Emergency New Zealand (FENZ) had “failed to ensure the health and safety of the workers” at its main station in central Auckland; FENZ Auckland had, said WorkSafe, “failed to effectively implement and monitor controls to manage the risk posed from asbestos fibres known to cause serious harm.” See: WorkSafe orders review of asbestos management at fire stations.
 

Concerns over Asbestos in Parliament

Jun 12, 2023

Officials of the Trade Union Side (TUS) – a body representing UK trade unions – have spoken out about the complacency of MPs and Parliamentary officials over the known hazard presented by the presence of deteriorating asbestos-containing material throughout the Palace of Westminster. Ken Gall, TUS President, said that after more than a decade of procrastination, a “catastrophic and potentially life-threatening incident” is likely. “Trade unions will,” he said “not hesitate to take all appropriate steps to protect our members in parliament.” See: MPs Accused Of Treating Staff Safety Concerns As An ‘Afterthought.’
 

National Ban on J&J Baby Powder

Jun 12, 2023

At the beginning of June 2023, Zimbabwe’s Secretary for Health and Child Care Jasper Chimedza announced that the country was imposing an immediate ban on the import, distribution, and sale of Johnson & Johnson baby powder products containing talc, over concerns they could contain deadly asbestos fibers. Environmental Health Officers were advised to remove all the banned products from sale. Although the Tanzania Bureau of Standards banned the import and export of J&J baby powder on April 19, 2023, South Africa is yet to act on this hazard. Zimbabwe is an asbestos-producing country. See: Zimbabwe bans Johnson & Johnson baby powder over toxic ingredient.
 

Subsidizing Asbestos Removal

Jun 12, 2023

On June 5, 2023, the Korean city of Gapyeong-gun announced plans to invest a further 279 million won (US$ 215,000) in the eradication of asbestos from the municipality’s built environment. Owners of buildings with asbestos roofing can apply for subsidies worth up to 3.36 million won (US$2,600) each to pay for asbestos removal work. Specialist companies approved by the Minister of Environment must be employed for these projects. See: 가평군, 석면 슬레이트 처리 지원사업 추진키로 [Gapyeong-gun decides to increase support for asbestos slate treatment project].
 

Mesothelioma Research: Update

Jun 12, 2023

Scientists from Italy’s Pascale Cancer Institute of Naples were part of a multinational collaboration which presented the results of its IND.227 study at a Chicago meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology last week. The international phase 3 study explored the use of the immunotherapy drug, pembrolizumab, in combination with chemotherapy as a new first-line treatment for patients with inoperable advanced or metastatic pleural mesothelioma. See: Da Chicago a Napoli una nuova speranza per i tumori provocati dall'amianto [From Chicago to Naples, a new hope for cancer caused by asbestos].
 

Posthumous Honor for Asbestos Campaigner

Jun 12, 2023

“No matter how small you are, you can fight and no matter how big you are, you can lose,” said asbestos victim and campaigner June Hancock after she won a David & Goliath legal battle with the UK’s “Asbestos Giant” T&N PLC. On June 9, 2023, a commemorative blue plaque honoring her achievements was unveiled in Armley. The wording on the plaque was: “As a childhood resident of 30 Salisbury View she was one of countless Armley residents and workers who died of asbestos exposure from the former JW Roberts Factory. Her landmark legal case helped to bring justice for many other people who were environmentally exposed to asbestos.” See: Blue plaque will honour memory of Armley asbestos campaigner June Hancock.
 

Asbestos Scandal

Jun 6, 2023

A huge scandal is unfolding in Bari, Italy over the discovery that thousands of tonnes of asbestos-containing waste had been used to build roads by two companies. As a result of police investigations and at the request of the Public Prosecutor’s office, two businessmen in the construction sector were indicted for the crimes of environmental pollution, fraud in public supplies and illegal landfill practices. See: Cantiere nuova Poligonale Bari, l'amianto per costruire le strade: scoperta discarica abusiva, interdette due aziende [New Poligonale Bari construction site, asbestos used to build roads: illegal landfill discovered, two companies banned].
 

Asbestos at Another Fire Station

Jun 6, 2023

It was reported on May 31, 2023, that fire-fighters had been forced to vacate the main fire station in Invercargill, a city near the southern tip of New Zealand’s South Island. As a result of the asbestos discovery, fire-fighters were no longer staying at the station overnight but the truck bay was still in use. According to the Professional Firefighters' Union, FENZ – The New Zealand Fire Service – had reacted quickly to the latest discovery. Auckland's main fire station, the country's busiest, has been closed for a month as asbestos surveying and remediation was being carried out. See: Fire-fighters move out after asbestos discovery at station.
 

J&J Trial in California

Jun 6, 2023

It was reported on May 31, 2023, that a trial against the US pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson (J&J) had opened in Alameda County, California. Although almost all other legal actions against the company had been frozen due to bankruptcy proceedings, this trial was allowed to proceed by US Chief Bankruptcy Judge Michael Kaplan due to the serious condition of the plaintiff, 24-year old Emory Hernandez who is dying from the asbestos cancer mesothelioma. Even if Hernandez wins, he won’t be able to collect on the judgment until the bankruptcy is resolved. Nevertheless, the trial’s outcome could influence whether other plaintiffs decide to join in a proposed settlement. See: J&J faces new trial over talc cancer claims, amid settlement push.
 

Province to Launch Safety Campaign

Jun 6, 2023

The Workers Compensation Board (WCB) of Prince Edward Island, one of eastern Canada's maritime provinces, is launching a safety campaign to remind workers and employers to always follow health and safety guidelines when working around asbestos. The campaign, which will run until July 31, 2023, will be rolled out via radio, posters, social media, public transit and the WCB website. Over the last three years there have been multiple fines under the Occupational Health and Safety Act for unsafe asbestos management, unsafe work practice while trenching, and working unsafely at heights of three meters or more. See: P.E.I. workplace asbestos safety campaign taking place this summer.
 

Building Support for Manx Asbestos Victims

Jun 6, 2023

On May 31, 2023 it was reported that the Treasury Minister of the Isle of Man Dr Alex Allison had met with John Flanagan – a representative of the Merseyside Asbestos Victim Support Group – and other campaigners to discuss how the Manx government could assist people diagnosed with the asbestos cancer mesothelioma. This meeting was a follow up to a 2018 discussion about the differences between UK government procedures and those on the island. Dr Allinson said that the island authorities intended to improve support for Manx mesothelioma patients to a level equal with that available in the UK. See: Treasury Minister meets with Merseyside Asbestos Victim Support Group.
 

Early Retirement for At-risk Worker

Jun 6, 2023

The Labor Section of the Florence Court issued a victim’s ruling in the case of Fabio Pastorelli (56) – who has contracted bilateral pleural thickening and pleural plaques as well as asbestosis. The claimant had worked at power plant construction sites where he was routinely exposed to asbestos. The Italian National Institute of Social Security (INPS) had denied Pastorelli a pension; the Court condemned INPS and ordered that the worker be allowed to take early retirement with full benefits. See: Malato per l'amianto ma costretto a lavorare per anni: il tribunale obbliga l’Inps a mandarlo in pensione [Sick because of asbestos but forced to work for years: the court obliges INPS to allow retirement].
 

Low Dose and Early Asbestos Exposure

Jun 5, 2023

The verdict handed down on May 23, 2023 in the Royal Courts of Justice in the case of Ness v Carillion Capita Projects [2023] EWHC 1219 (KB) which considered the state of knowledge and foreseeability of risk of injury in a case involving both an early period of asbestos exposure from the 1960s and a very low dose of exposure found: “on the balance of probabilities, that the exposure suffered by Mr Harrison as a result of his working with asbestos cement was not so insignificant that it can be disregarded as de minimis.” See: Low dose asbestos exposure from the 1960s: when it is found to be enough.
 

Tokyo Landmark Verdict

Jun 5, 2023

On May 31, 2023, the Tokyo High Court ordered four building material manufacturers to pay 103.67 million yen (US$741,500) to 22 claimants with asbestos-related diseases. Since the Japanese Supreme Court decision of May 17, 2021 which had established the liability of the Japanese Government and building products’ manufacturers for diseases contracted as a result of asbestos exposures experienced by construction workers, manufacturers had been engaged in a full-scale battle to avoid paying compensation to the injured. See: 建設アスベスト、一部メーカーに賠償命令 東京高裁 [Construction asbestos, some manufacturers ordered to pay compensation by Tokyo High Court].
 

I’d rather be in Philadelphia?

Jun 5, 2023

US comedian W. C. Fields was rumored to have as his epitaph “I’d rather be in Philadelphia.” Considering the state of the city’s schools, he might have wanted to reconsider. The article cited below names Philadelphia schools known to contain asbestos. The contamination isn’t surprising considering that the average building in the municipal School District is over 70 years old. Six of the city’s schools were closed in 2022-23 because of asbestos. Since 2016, 2,400 asbestos remediation projects have been completed in school buildings. The asbestos inspection program is way behind schedule. See: Asbestos in Philadelphia schools: What we know.
 

Asbestos Production Data

Jun 5, 2023

According to Kazakhstan’s Bureau of National Statistics, asbestos production (66,500 tonnes (t)) grew by 21.9% in the first quarter of 2023 compared to the same quarter in 2022 (54,600t). Following recent trends, the majority of the asbestos (43,500t) was exported with only 4,900t (7.5%) being used at home. Data on Russian asbestos production levels has been difficult to access during the war on Ukraine. Historically Russia had been the world’s largest supplier of raw asbestos fiber, annually accounting for nearly 65% of all global production, with Kazakhstan producing ~20% of the world’s asbestos. See: В Казахстане увеличилось производство асбеста [Asbestos production increased in Kazakhstan].
 

Supreme Court’s Victim’s Verdict

Jun 5, 2023

On May 24, 2023, the French Supreme Court (Court of Cassation) reversed a ruling of the Nancy Court of Appeal which had denied compensation to a litigant because of a bureaucratic loophole. The plaintiff had submitted a claim for asbestos anxiety compensation following employment at a company before its factories had been added to the government’s list (ACAATA) of facilities where asbestos use had led to hazardous exposures to the workforce. See: ACAATA: l’indemnisation du salarié est de droit, même s’il a introduit sa demande avant que la société ne soit inscrite sur la liste des établissements éligibles [ACAATA: compensation for the employee is by right, even if he has submitted his request before the company is registered on the list of eligible establishments].
 

Johnson & Johnson: Update

Jun 5, 2023

The Attorney Generals of the US states of New Mexico and Mississippi last month (May 2023) added their support to the growing list of opponents to the plans by Johnson and Johnson (J&J) to off-load its asbestos liabilities into a bankrupt company (LTL). Included amongst those opposing J&J’s legal stratagems are cancer victims, their defense teams, politicians and the US Department of Justice. J&J has floated a nearly $9 billion plan to settle all its asbestos claims, both current and future. See: State AGs Join Opposition to LTL Bankruptcy in Talcum Powder Lawsuits.
 

European Asbestos Controversy

Jun 2, 2023

The article cited below which was uploaded on May 30, 2023 drew attention to an internal European Parliament document dated May 26, 2023, which revealed a disconnect between positions adopted by the EU Commission, European Council and European Parliament on protecting workers from occupational asbestos exposures and the general view of member states. Many regard plans to lower exposure limits for asbestos fibers – initially from 0.1 to 0.01 fibres per cm3 with a further reduction to 0.001 per cm3 after four years – as not “realistic” or “feasible.” See: EU clashes over protection of workers exposed to asbestos.
 

EuroCham Backs Asbestos Prohibitions

Jun 2, 2023

A new report issued by the European Chamber of Commerce in Cambodia (EuroCham Cambodia) – a non-profit, non-political organization established to support European businesses operating in Cambodia – urged the Government of Cambodia to take urgent action on ending the use of asbestos, a carcinogen which is banned throughout Europe “in order to prevent future diseases and deaths in Cambodia, due to asbestos inhalation…” The survey undertaken by EuroCham was released on May 30, 2023; it highlighted the ongoing and widespread use of asbestos-containing building material by the construction sector. See: Call to ban asbestos import, use in Cambodia.
 

Asbestos Exposé

Jun 2, 2023

A front-page feature in the Sunday edition (May 28, 2023) of the Brussels Times – an English-language news website and magazine headquartered in Brussels – highlighted the epidemic caused by asbestos exposures in Belgium, formerly the heartland of Europe’s asbestos industrial sector. The text featured an interview with Marijke Van Buggenhout, a PhD researcher who grew up near Kapelle-op-den-Bos, the site of Eternit’s largest asbestos-cement manufacturing facility in Belgium: “Asbestos deaths within the family were announced left, right and centre: my father's Uncle Alex, his aunt Bertha, my father's aunt's daughter-in-law, the husband of my grandfather's youngest sister. They all died just months after their diagnosis.” See: Forgotten killer: Belgian asbestos victims seek real sense of justice.
 

Hess Corporation Asbestos Settlement

Jun 2, 2023

According to an article published on May 26, 2022, Hess Corporation – the US parent company of HONX, a joint owner of the Hovensa Oil Refinery on the island of St. Croix in the US Virgin Islands – has agreed to pay $106 million into a trust for former refinery workers and their families who were injured by asbestos exposures in St. Croix. The deal, which was filed with a Texas bankruptcy court on May 24, set aside $90m for current claimants, $15m for future claimants and $1m to cover the trust’s administrative costs. “The settlement,” wrote journalist Mat Probasco “makes Hess immune from future asbestos-related legal action.” See: Hess Settles St. Croix Asbestos Claims For $106 Million.
 

Asbestos Exposures at Coal Mines

Jun 2, 2023

A 2 minute 36 second video clip uploaded last week highlighted the hazardous conditions experienced by coal miners at sites in the Isère department in the southeast of France. Toxic exposures to asbestos and other carcinogens were routine at the mines and thermal power plants; there was no protective equipment supplied and no warnings of the hazards given. The asbestos anxiety of 58 of these workers was recognized by the Court which ordered the French State to pay compensation of one million euros. Amongst the 58 claimants, 24 have contracted cancer or other diseases and two have already died. See: VIDÉO. "On vivait dans l'amiante à 100 %": 58 anciens mineurs de l'Isère ont fait condamner l'Etat [VIDEO. “We lived in 100% asbestos”: 58 former miners from Isère had the State condemned].
 

Police Action on Asbestos in Chieti

Jun 2, 2023

Officers of the Environmental Police (NIPAAF) in the city of Francavilla al Mar, Chieti – a commune in central Italy – seized a shed of 5,000 square meters because of the hazard posed by its deteriorating asbestos-cement roof and the 1,300 tonnes of toxic waste dumped inside. The shed is located near the town and the environmental hazard it posed was both illegal and unacceptable, said the authorities. The owner of the company that owned the shed was reported for several crimes, including illegal transport of waste, storage of hazardous material; a fine of €6,000 (US$6,430) was handed down. See: Francavilla, sequestrato un edificio a causa della presenza di coperture in cemento amianto [Francavilla, seized a building due to the presence of asbestos cement roofs].
 

Asbestos Phase-Out

May 31, 2023

OxyChem (also known as Occidental Chemical Corporation) – one of the biggest manufacturers of chlorine in the US – announced last week that it planned to phase out asbestos technology at its chlor-alkali plant. A company press release noted that: “OxyChem has picked membrane electrolysis technology from Thyssenkrupp Nucera to replace the diaphragm technology at its largest chlor-alkali facility, in LaPorte, Texas. The project is expected to take 3 years.” The other two big US chlorine manufacturers – Olin and Westlake – had previously announced plans to phase out asbestos diaphragms. See: OxyChem will adopt membrane technology at chlor-alkali plant.
 

Tokyo Settlement in Asbestos Litigation

May 31, 2023

For the first time in the Tokyo metropolitan area, and the second time in all of Japan, a settlement was reached with a former asbestos products’ manufacturer in a class action lawsuit brought by former construction workers against the government and a building material manufacturer. The party which admitted its guilt and paid compensation was the Nozawa company, headquartered in Kobe. On May 31, 2023, the Tokyo High Court will issue its verdict on the case brought by the 32 members of the class action against six defendants. See: 建設アスベスト訴訟 建材メーカーと一部原告で和解成立 [Construction Asbestos Litigation Resolved with Construction Materials Manufacturer and Some Plaintiffs].
 

Post-disaster Asbestos Assessment

May 31, 2023

New research by Istanbul’s Chamber of Environmental Engineers reported that one in every two of the samples of rubble they collected from the February 2023 earthquakes contained asbestos. Despite multiple protests by local communities living near the dump sites where the toxic debris had been taken in Hatay, Yeşilköy, Narlıca and Çamlı Plateau, no solution has been found for safely disposing of the massive mountains of waste created by the earthquakes. Criminal cases regarding this issue have been filed. See (subscription site): 2 moloz örneğinden 1’inde asbest var [1 in 2 debris samples contains asbestos].
 

Guglielmo Cavalli Competition 2022/23

May 31, 2023

On May 24 & 25, the winners of the 2023 competition run by AFeVA (the Association of Asbestos Victims and Family Members) and its partners from Casale Monferrato – the town at the epicenter of Italy’s asbestos epidemic – were announced online. The 135 participants were tasked with comparing the town’s toxic Eternit asbestos-cement factory with the public park which now stands on the remediated site. The purpose of the competition, now in its 30th year, is not only to honor asbestos victims but also to stimulate “civil and social commitment among local students who have paid a heavy price for pollution.” See: Amianto: Afeva Casale premia vincitori del 'Concorso Cavalli' [Asbestos: Afeva Casale awards winners of the ‘Cavalli Competition’].
 

New Option for Asbestos Shipments

May 31, 2023

A train carrying 40 containers of 1,000 tons of asbestos fiber departed from the railway west cargo station in Dunhuang, a city in Northwestern Gansu Province, Western China on May 5, 2023 as part of a new rail–sea intermodal international freight train link between China and Thailand. The cargo was off-loaded at the Port of Ningbo-Zhoushan in Zhejiang province and sent by sea to Bangkok, Thailand. The journey took just 20 days. The possibility of express shipments of asbestos from China – one of the world’s biggest asbestos producers and users – to other Asian countries is a disturbing development. See: 酒泉(敦煌)铁海联运国际货运班列开行 [Jiuquan (Dunhuang) rail–sea combined transport international freight route opened].
 

Asbestos at Redundant Military Base

May 31, 2023

A site formerly used by the Greek military which was bought by the city of Chania has created an environmental storm for Cretans concerned about infringements of safety legislation during work to remove asbestos from buildings at the Markopoulou camp. Technical expert Professor Emeritus Evangelos Gidarakos said that from photographic evidence he had seen “the presence of hazardous materials and more specifically asbestos has been established. This makes it necessary to take and observe very strict safety rules to protect the health of both the workers involved in the removal work, as well as the residents of the area.” See:Έντονη ανησυχία για τον αμίαντο στο στρατόπεδο “Μαρκοπούλου” [Strong concern about asbestos in the “Markopoulou” camp].
 

Asbestos in Schools

May 30, 2023

On May 23, 2023, a motion proposed by Labour asking the Government to release a report completed in 2021 on the state of school buildings was debated for over two hours. Labour MPs who highlighted the on-going national scandal over asbestos in schools on Tuesday afternoon included Bridget Phillipson, Simon Lightwood and Liz Twist. It was left, however, to Ian Lavery MP, to make the most damning indictment of 13 years of Tory misrule during his impassioned intervention: “The idea that schools could collapse is terrifying; that they could collapse releasing clouds of asbestos is shudderingly worrying… A staggering 87% of schools are reported to have asbestos in at least one of their buildings.” The motion was defeated. See: Safety of School Buildings.
 

Appeal Upholds Victim’s Verdict

May 30, 2023

On May 24, 2023, the Florence Court of Appeal of confirmed a lower court’s guilty verdict against the Italian Ministries of the Interior and Defense which had been found to be responsible for asbestos workplace exposures which caused the death from pleural mesothelioma of Antonio Ballini (aged 69). The deceased had served in the Navy from 1965 till 1967, during which time he routinely handled and used products containing asbestos. See: Amianto, ex militare ucciso da mesotelioma: confermata la condanna per i Ministeri [Asbestos, ex soldier killed by mesothelioma: sentence confirmed for Ministries].
 

Asbestos in Schools

May 30, 2023

In 2022, the South Korean Province of Gyeonggi allocated 450 billion won (US$340m) for the removal of asbestos in 216 elementary, middle, high and special school buildings as a matter of public health. The results of the 2022 asbestos eradication program were discussed on May 25th at a meeting of the Provincial Office of Education in the capital city of Gyeonggi-do. See: 경기도, 초중고∙특수학교 건축물 석면 제거 등에 4500억원투입 [Gyeonggi-do invests 450 billion won in asbestos removal in elementary, middle, high and special school buildings].
 

Asbestos Epidemic in Western Australia

May 30, 2023

The latest newsletter from the Asbestos Diseases Society of Australia is an interesting read. The Society is calling for the outdated narrative of “asbestos diseases as a diminishing industrial disease” to be recategorized as a “rapidly emerging Public Health Issue… [to ensure that] medical research funding and clinical resources provided by the WA Health Department, are available to meet the demand for patients with non-occupational exposure to asbestos. It is worth noting that two thirds of houses built in Australia between 1950-1980s will likely have some asbestos in them.” See: Asbestos Diseases Society of Australia. Newsletter #14. May 2023.
 

Mesothelioma Research Grant

May 30, 2023

On May 23, 2023 it was announced by HASAG Asbestos Disease Support that a grant had been awarded for research into the use of radiotherapy as palliative care for mesothelioma patients. A year long study will be funded by the ~£37,200 sum donated to a team working under the auspices of Professor Anthony Chalmers at the University of Glasgow. Commenting on this news Professor Chalmers said: “Mesothelioma is an extremely difficult cancer to treat, and we are very encouraged by the early results from SYSTEMS-2 which suggest that some patients might benefit from higher doses of radiotherapy than have previously been used…” See: HASAG Funds New Research Study.
 

Asbestos Protest in Western Cape

May 30, 2023

In April, 2023, 150 residents from the Khayelitsha township in South Africa’s Western Cape Province marched to Parliament to demand that the Province’s Department of Human Settlement remediate asbestos roofing on their homes. The houses were built in the 1990s and much of the roofing is now in poor condition. The provincial housing department said it would liaise with the National Department of Human Settlements to resume a repair program suspended in 2020 during the Covid pandemic. See: Khayelitsha families want asbestos roofing removed.
 

D-DAY: June 7, 2023

May 25, 2023

On June 7, 2023, the judgment will be handed down in the long-running criminal trial of Swiss asbestos billionaire Stephen Schmidheiny at the Novara Court of Assizes (Italy). During the trial, the defense had called for Schmidheiny to be acquitted of all charges; prosecutors had called for a sentence of life imprisonment. The defendant was charged with the voluntary homicide of 392 people from the town of Casale Monferrato, all of whom died from asbestos-related diseases, allegedly caused by exposure to asbestos fibers liberated by the Eternit asbestos-cement factory operated by Schmidheiny. See: Processo Eternit bis: sentenza attesa il 7 giugno [Eternit bis trial: sentence expected on June 7].
 

Asbestos at the Palace

May 25, 2023

Asbestos removal work was part of the €171 million (US$184.4m) renovation project undertaken on the 17th century Dutch royal palace of Het Loo, sometimes called the “Versailles of the North,” in the city of Apeldoorn in the heart of the Netherlands. During the five years the historic site was closed to visitors, 4,300 sq. meters of asbestos fireproofing, which was installed in the 1970s, was remediated and replaced. The Palace reopened to the public on Friday April 21, 2023. See: An invisible €171m renovation: Dutch royal palace reopens after five-year-long underground project.
 

Asbestos in Schools

May 25 2023

On May 18, 2023 concerned parents, school staff, and their supporters held a rally on the steps of the Philadelphia School District’s headquarters to demand increased clarity and coordination on tackling asbestos contamination of the city’s schools. After initially being rebuffed by security personnel, the petitions presented on Thursday by groups from Henry and Mitchell elementary schools, and Building 21 and Frankford High – four schools closed by asbestos problems this year – were accepted by Oz Hill, the district’s chief operating officer, and district spokesperson Monique Braxton. See: Philly teachers and parents from schools closed by asbestos petition the district for better information.
 

Grassroots Asbestos Mobilization

May 25, 2023

On May 20, 2023, former employees of the Brasilit company gathered at an asbestos meeting organized by the Brazilian Association of the Asbestos-Exposed (ABREA) in São Caetano do Sul in São Paulo state. The participants engaged in discussions and planning for a July 2023 ABREA workshop on workers’ rights, which will be open to asbestos victims, family members, and political and social leaders. The event, which is by invitation only, will take place at a venue provided by São Caetano do Sul City Council. See: Picture of ABREA event on May 20, 2023 in São Caetano do Sul, São Paulo State.
 

Post-Earthquake Dialogue

May 25, 2023

In the aftermath of the Kahramanmaraş February 6, 2023 earthquakes that devastated whole regions of Turkey and affected millions of people, questions are being asked about “what will be needed to rebuild the cities …while preserving social relations and urban identity.” Within the context of a wide-ranging discussion by experts from diverse fields, the subject of asbestos was mentioned as a critical factor in decisions regarding the reuse of disaster waste in reconstruction efforts. Without due care and attention, asbestos debris will not only endanger human life but also pollute the soil and the water. See: Depremzede kentler nasıl yeniden inşa edilecek? ‘Konuyu konuttan ibaret görürsek yanlış bir şey yaparız’ [How will earthquake-affected cities be rebuilt? ‘It will be a mistake to see the subject as provision of housing alone’].
 

Buyer Beware!

May 25, 2023

The extensive article cited below explained the challenges posed by the historic use of asbestos-containing products in Japan and the present-day problems asbestos contamination poses. Real estate buyers are strongly advised to commission asbestos surveys of all properties built before September 1, 2006: “an asbestos survey will help protect your assets when purchasing real estate.” Failing to follow this advice could leave a new property owner with huge bills to remediate toxic structures. See: “不動産売買のババ抜き”でジョーカーを引かないために必要な中古物件購入前のアスベスト調査 [Asbestos survey before buying a second-hand property necessary to avoid pulling the joker in “old real estate trading”].
 

Paris Appeals’ Verdict

May 24, 2023

On the afternoon of Friday May 19, 2023, the news broke that the Paris Court of Appeal had turned its back on thousands of French asbestos victims and their families and blocked efforts to hold to account fourteen decision makers, executives, doctors and lobbyists for the thousands of deaths caused by asbestos exposures in France. Nearly 2,000 complainants brought this legal action to the court demanding that a criminal trial of the accused take place. Their request was denied. There will be an appeal, said leaders of the asbestos victims’ group. See: Asbestos: The Paris Court Refuses To Hold A Criminal Trial Requested By Victims.
 

Parliament’s Asbestos Issues

May 24, 2023

On May 17, 2023, the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee published a report which was categorical about the dangerous and deteriorating state of the Palace of Westminster: “Parliament is spending up to £2 million a week patching up the Palace but there is still a growing list of health and safety incidents, including some involving asbestos…Timely transparency and compliance with health and safety protocols, particularly around asbestos, urgently needs to improve...” On page 8 of the report it was noted that: “compliance with health and safety protocols, in particular reporting asbestos incidents, remains unsatisfactory.” See: “Real and rising risk” that Palace of Westminster will be destroyed by catastrophic event before it is restored, says PAC.
 

Raising Asbestos Awareness in Laos

May 24, 2023

A billboard erected outside the Australian Embassy in the capital city of Laos, by Australia’s Union Aid Abroad-APHEDA and partnering organizations from Australia and Canada, this month highlighted the hazard posed by the country’s continuing use of asbestos. The main use of asbestos in Laos is for the manufacture of roofing in factories located in the Provinces of Luang Prabang, Champasak and Vientiane. According to APHEDA: “The standards for managing raw asbestos are often poor, including manual handling of the fibre and no safe storage or waste management, meaning workers and communities within a 2km radius of the factories are at risk of exposure.” See: Union Aid Abroad – APHEDA. May 16, 2023 upload to Facebook.
 

Quebec’s Dirty Asbestos Secrets

May 24, 2023

A series of high-profile articles in the Canadian media over recent months highlighted the prevalence of asbestos-cement pipes in the water delivery systems of provinces and cities throughout the country. It seems, however, that Quebec – the former heartland of asbestos production in Canada – has yet to undertake sampling for asbestos fibers in tap water despite a commitment by the Quebec Ministry of Environment to do so. Perhaps they are worried about what they might find? See (subscription site): Québec n'a jamais prévu échantillonner les tuyaux d'eau potable en amiante... et a tenté de le camoufler [Quebec never planned to sample asbestos drinking water pipes...and tried to cover it up].
 

Regional Asbestos Hazard

May 24, 2023

Work to raise asbestos awareness and progress a ban on asbestos use in the Pacific Region was the subject of a presentation at the May 2023 conference of the Asian Ban Asbestos Network. The speaker was Lance Richman, the PacWaste Plus Technical Waste Project Officer - Hazardous Waste of the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Program. Richman delineated measures to assist countries to “remediate legacy asbestos, and regulate the use, transport, and disposal of asbestos, to protect human health from the harmful effects caused by exposure,” and detailed initiatives to raise awareness, develop legislation and implement regulations to prevent toxic exposures. See: Pacific Island Countries Efforts Toward Asbestos Containing Material Ban Presented At 2023 ABAN Conference.
 

BC Asbestos Court Order

May 24, 2023

In a May 16, 2023 decision by the Supreme Court of British Columbia (BC) in the case of the Workers’ Compensation Board vs E H Z Pre-Demolition Ltd., AMK Environmental (2017) Ltd., Rajesh Joshi, and Gagandeep Joshi, Justice Nitya Iyer ordered that the Joshi brothers cease committing “contraventions of the following provisions of the Act and the Occupational Health and Safety Regulation, B.C. Reg. 296/97 [Regulation]” after breaches of asbestos health and safety regulations at ten asbestos abatement sites in BC had been proved. See: Workers’ Compensation Board vs E H Z Pre-Demolition Ltd., AMK Environmental (2017) Ltd., Rajesh Joshi, and Gagandeep Joshi.
 

UN Convention: Update

May 22, 2023

The link cited below contains a summary of what took place during negotiations at a meeting of the UN’s Rotterdam Convention at the beginning of this month; it is a frustrating read. Attempts to unblock a process intended to protect global populations from avoidable exposures to deadly chemicals and pesticides were, once again, forestalled by member countries with vested interests. It was no surprise to see that the refusniks were led by the Russian delegation; Russia is the world’s largest producer of chrysotile (white) asbestos. Negotiations and discussions were so fraught that UN security officers maintained a visible presence in the plenary chamber during votes. See: Earth Negotiation Bulletin Summary report May 1-12, 2023.
 

Johnson & Johnson Asbestos Scandal

May 22, 2023

A 24-minute video uploaded on May 11, 2023 detailed the controversy surrounding the US pharmaceutical giant Johnson and Johnson (J&J) which stands accused by tens of thousands of people of causing their cancers. The claimants argue that use of J&J’s talc-based baby powder, which was contaminated with asbestos fibers had been the reason they contracted mesothelioma, and/or ovarian cancer. Internal documents exhibited during this video showed that the company had known about the risks and still continued selling its iconic baby powder throughout the world. See: Inside the Johnson & Johnson Baby Powder Controversy.
 

Asbestos Hazard: Update

May 22, 2023

Warning bells have been sounded by Insurer Allianz about the threat posed to UK workers by the drive toward sustainability. The alert was raised during a meeting of the British Insurers Brokers’ Association in Manchester, by Andy Miller, Loss Control Technical Manager of Allianz Insurance. He highlighted how many younger workers in the construction industry refused to take the asbestos risk seriously: “Older buildings are being significantly renovated to increase their sustainability, but tiles, artex and flooring may well contain asbestos and as such there needs to be proper and adequate protections taken.” Miller’s call is backed by the HSE. See: Asbestos fears re-emerge with insurer warning.
 

Asbestos Eradication in Campania

May 22, 2023

The Vice President of the Campania Region Fulvio Bonavitacola announced at a May 13th conference in Naples that: “we will use the new cycle of European funds to give further impetus to progressing asbestos decontamination throughout the region.” Regional asbestos hotspots include: the former asbestos-cement factory operated by Eternit in Bagnoli, a metallurgical plant owned by Italsider in Fincantieri, engineering and railway stock construction and repair yards in Pozzuoli, Caserta, Castellammare di Stabia, and Santa Maria La Bruna. In 2022, there were 600 asbestos-related deaths in Campania – 100 due to the signature asbestos cancer mesothelioma. See: Amianto: Bonavitacola, fondi Ue per decontaminare la Campania [Asbestos: Bonavitacola, EU funds to decontaminate Campania].
 

Recognition for Libby Clinic

May 22, 2023

A resolution introduced to the Montana House of Representatives by Representative Steve Gunderson,  which recognized the “critical importance of the lessons learned during the asbestos-related Public Health Emergency declared in Lincoln County… as well as the ongoing contributions made by the Center for Asbestos Related Disease to both the Libby community and the field of asbestos related diseases,” was passed earlier this month. The well-deserved recognition of the work of the center will allow it to access additional funding to support ongoing operations and expand clinical and educational services to people nationwide exposed to Libby asbestos. See: Center for Asbestos Related Disease (CARD) Designated as a Center of Excellence.
 

Spring Offensive by HSE

May 22, 2023

From Monday May 15th, the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) – “a UK government agency responsible for the encouragement, regulation and enforcement of workplace health, safety and welfare” – began a three-month crackdown on dust exposures at construction sites with a series of unannounced inspections to ascertain whether control measures in operation are in compliance with regulations to protect workers from hazardous inhalation of substances such as asbestos, silica and wood dust. See: HSE to inspect dust exposure risk at construction sites nationwide from Monday.
 

Post-Disaster Asbestos Hazard

May 18, 2023

A report by Reuters about the fallout from the February 2023 earthquakes in Turkey contained staggering figures: “The United Nations estimated the disaster generated at least 10 times as much rubble as the last big Turkish earthquake in 1999…Some experts said a ‘secondary disaster’ of contamination could be even more severe than the quakes themselves” with one Turkish expert predicting that 3 million people could get sick due to post-earthquake toxic exposures to 85,000 toxic substances dumped at 15+ sites. The collapse of 300,000 buildings, many of which contained asbestos, created 100 million cubic meters (130 million cubic yards) of rubble. Due to the scale of the disaster, regulations to protect workers and the public from asbestos exposures were suspended. See: The Toxic Dust from Turkey's Earthquake!
 

Asbestos in the Museum

May 18, 2023

The iconic Pompidou Center will be closed to enable asbestos eradication and other remediation work to be carried out. The Paris museum of contemporary art will be under refurbishment from 2025 to 2030. According to France’s Minister of Culture Rima Abdul Malak, the work will cost worth 262 million euros and will include “a renovation operation, removal of asbestos from the façade, fireproofing, energy optimization and the improvement of access to the building for people with disabilities.” See: Parigi "perde" il museo Pompidou, amianto sulla facciata: chiuderà per 5 anni [Paris “loses” the Pompidou museum, asbestos on the façade: it will close for 5 years].
 

New Asbestos Eradication Program

May 18, 2023

Last week, South Africa’s Human Settlements Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi announced that the sum of 220 million rands had been allocated to implement 27 projects to remove asbestos roofs on government-built houses in the Eastern Cape, Free State and KwaZulu-Natal. According to the Minister, asbestos roofing was an “apartheid relic” that must be eradicated “as a priority.” Former ANC official Ace Magashule, who is due to appear in court in April 2024, faces corruption charges related to a multimillion rand Free State asbestos eradication tender awarded when he was premier. See: R220m set aside to remove asbestos roofs in Eastern Cape, Free State and KZN.
 

Raising Asbestos Awareness

May 18, 2023

The first meeting of asbestos stakeholders took place in Martinique on May 11, 2023. “Asbestos is,” said co-organizer Sandrine Dorail “still present in certain materials in Martinique, not only in pieces of fiber cement, but also in cladding, false ceilings, pipes, road coatings, floor slabs, bituminous glue for floor slabs…” The objective of the meeting was to “alert the public authorities but also members of the public” about the hazard posed by asbestos material hidden within the country’s infrastructure. See: Un 1er salon amiante Antilles pour « alerter les pouvoirs publics et les citoyens » [A 1st Antilles asbestos forum to “alert public authorities and citizens”].
 

Stopping Asbestos Exposures in BC

May 18, 2023

In the aftermath of International Workers Memorial Day (April 28, 2023), the article cited below recapped the deadly repercussions that widespread use of asbestos had had in the Canadian Province of British Columbia (BC): “Since 2002, British Columbia has recorded nearly 1,200 work-related deaths linked to asbestos. In 2022, it was responsible for 61 of the 181 work-related deaths, the result of exposures that happened decades before.” From January 1, 2023, B.C. became the first Canadian Province to require asbestos removal firms to be licensed as a means to upgrade workplace practices and ensure compliance with health and safety regulations. See: B.C. to tackle the deadliest workplace killer.
 

Asbestos Hazard in the Built Environment

May 18, 2023

A May 11, 2023 article on a Japanese website by Manabu Shinbori, an architect from the Saitama Prefecture, reviewed the damage to human health caused by exposures to asbestos in light of revised Japanese laws. More than three times as many people died from mesothelioma – the signature asbestos cancer – in 2017 as in 1995; many of the deceased were construction or manufacturing workers. Duty holders must make every effort to ascertain the presence and condition of asbestos material in all buildings to comply with regulations. See: アスベストに関する法改正 ? 被害を出さないために解体、改修に関して意識をするべきこと 「建築知識の不動産投資 [Amendments to laws related to asbestos?].
 

Johnson & Johnson: Toxic Talc

May 15, 2023

On May 7, 2023, a 45-minute segment, entitled Shaken: Baby Powder on Trial, was broadcast on the CNN TV show The Whole Story, explaining the controversial attempts by Johnson & Johnson (J&J) to off-load cancer lawsuits by consumers who allege that fatal diseases they contracted were due to use of asbestos-contaminated J&J talc-based baby powder. Despite all the evidence to the contrary, J&J continues to deny there was asbestos in its baby powder, with one spokesperson on the program saying: “We have always believed this is a safe product. And that's why we continue to sell it for over 125 years. It was a sad day in 2020 when we stopped selling this iconic product.” See: Transcript of The Whole Story TV Program - Shaken: Baby Powder on Trial.
 

Asbestos Scandal in Auckland Grows

May 15, 2023

On May 9, 2023, WorkSafe – New Zealand's primary workplace health and safety regulator – said that it regarded asbestos discovered at Auckland’s main fire station as high-risk, not medium risk. Last month, a survey commissioned by the firefighters’ union found six lots of high-risk, friable amosite (brown) asbestos in the roof as well as medium-risk chrysotile (white) asbestos in damaged pipe covers in two bathrooms. WorkSafe has issued a non-disturbance notice and three prohibition notices covering the spaces where asbestos was found. See: Asbestos at fire station was high risk – WorkSafe.
 

Mesothelioma Research: Update

May 15, 2023

According to preliminary results announced earlier this month at the annual conference of the British Thoracic Oncology Group, UK mesothelioma researchers have observed significant patient benefits during the SYSTEMS-2 clinical trial. Commenting on the results, Chief Investigator for the study Professor Anthony Chalmers, Chair of Clinical Oncology at the University of Glasgow said: “We are very excited to see some early evidence that patients receiving the higher radiotherapy dose might benefit in terms of an increase in their life expectancy. We are still in the process of following up these patients and analysing the results, however, so this observation should be treated with caution at this stage.” See: Promising results of clinical trial of radiotherapy for patients with mesothelioma announced.
 

Demolition of Asbestos Mining Town

May 15, 2023

A three-minute segment in an ABC news broadcast on May 8, 2023, announced that demolition of the notorious asbestos mining town of Wittenoom, Western Australia (WA) had begun. An interview with Melita Markey of the Asbestos Diseases Society of Australia put the story into context, with Ms. Markey explaining that no advice had been sought by WA officials from the Society about the planned works, despite the fact that the Society had been monitoring conditions in “the most contaminated site in the Southern Hemisphere,” also known as “Australia's Chernobyl” for nearly 40 years. See: video: Demolition of abandoned WA asbestos town underway.
 

ABAN Conference 2023

May 15, 2023

On May 7, 2023 scores of members of the Asian Ban Asbestos Network (ABAN) met at their 2023 conference in Bangkok; other ABAN members monitored the event online. The meeting was sponsored by the Solidarity Center (AFL-CIO), the International Ban Asbestos Secretariat, ABAN, ANROEV, the Asia Monitor Resource Center, the Building and Wood Workers International, Australia’s Union Aid Abroad (APHEDA), and Work and Environment Related Patients (WEPT), Thailand. More information on this conference will be provided in due course. See: ABAN Group Photo from 2023 Conference.
 

Asbestos in Schools

May 15, 2023

On May 6, 2023, the Dongducheon Yangju Office of Education in South Korea confirmed that elementary and middle school students in the Yangju area were still being taught in classrooms where asbestos material was present. The contaminated premises were: three kindergartens, including Kanap elementary school’s attached kindergarten, 12 elementary schools, including Eunbong and Kanap elementary schools, and three middle schools, including Joyang and Deokgye Middle Schools. The Provincial Office of Education has allocated 70.9 billion won (US$53.4m) for the removal of asbestos from 217 schools in the province in 2023. See: 양주지역 석면 학교 여전… 대책 마련 시급 [Yangju area asbestos school still … Urgent countermeasures].
 

Asbestos Health Alert

May 11, 2023

The article cited below highlighted the consequences of human exposures to asbestos. Although asbestos use was banned in many countries, the author pointed out: “there is still no specific standardized system in China to detect and remove asbestos. Asbestos is still readily available for use in building materials … before asbestos is strictly banned, we still have to learn to protect ourselves and minimize contact with asbestos in daily life to prevent asbestos exposure.” China is one of the world’s top asbestos-producing and consuming nations. See: 1级致癌物石棉,已被美、日等66国禁用,可能正潜伏在你身边 [Class 1 carcinogen asbestos , has been banned by 66 countries including the United States [restricted – not banned] and Japan, may be lurking around you].
 

Victim’s Verdict in Sicily

May 11, 2023

Earlier this month, the Catania Court of Appeal confirmed guilty verdicts handed down against the Italian Ministries of Defense and the Interior over the 2009 mesothelioma death of Salvatore Arcieri who had been exposed to asbestos on board ships and on land during his naval service. He enlisted aged 16 in 1957; according to his lawyers: he “was employed in the direct handling of asbestos materials, also in the form of sheets and cardboard, present in the protection of firebreaks, floors and motor rooms, with indirect and environmental exposure, in the absence of technical prevention and individual protection.” See: Amianto killer nelle navi della Marina militare. Motorista di Augusta riconosciuto «vittima a metà» [Killer asbestos in Navy ships. Augsburg driver recognized as “half-victim”].
 

Asbestos Stakeholders Mount UN Offensive

May 11, 2023

The article cited below detailed recent moves by Russian chrysotile (white) asbestos stakeholders – Russia is the world’s largest asbestos producer, accounting for ~60% of global production in 2021 – to control the asbestos agenda at the May 2023 meeting of the UN’s Rotterdam Convention. A delegation of ministry officials from Russia and Kazakhstan, medical professionals, scientists and asbestos industry employees will protect chrysotile from “the attacks of opponents” who are trying to progress efforts to protect humankind from toxic exposures. See: Представители "Ураласбеста" Отстаивают Интересы Хризотиловой Отрасли в Женеве [Representatives of “Uralasbest” defend the interests of the chrysotile industry in Geneva].
 

Asbestos in Parliament

May 11, 2023

During Prime Minister’s Question Time, a question was asked about the eradication of asbestos from the UK’s built environment by MP Jane Hunt, who on April 19, 2023 had secured a Westminster Hall debate on Asbestos in the Workplace. In response, Rishi Sunak said: “The law does require duty holders to assess whether asbestos is present, what condition it is in and whether it gives rise to a risk of exposure, and they must draw up a plan to manage that risk, which must include removal if it cannot be safely managed where it is located…” See: Hansard. House of Commons Engagements. May 3, 2023.
 

Vancouver Alarm over Ship Dismantling

May 11, 2023

Residents of Vancouver Island, British Columbia made public their concerns about the lack of federal and provincial regulations for dismantling ships that could result in contaminants like asbestos and heavy metals being released into the environment. Their fears were expressed at a public rally attended by 200 people on Sunday April 30, 2023 which was organized by The Concerned Citizens of Baynes Sound. The lack of rules to prevent boat dismantling in Baynes Sound was denounced. A court case is ongoing. See: L’absence de réglementation pour le démantèlement de navires dénoncée sur la côte oust [Lack of regulations for ship dismantling denounced on the West Coast].
 

Prison Sentences for Asbestos Crimes

May 11, 2023

On May 2, 2023, the Turin Court of Appeal handed down guilty verdicts on charges of manslaughter to former executives of the Montefibre company Giorgio Mazzanti (one year in prison), Bruno Quaglieri (11 months) and Gianluigi Poletti (11 months); the case concerned asbestos exposures which had led to the death of five workers. The sentences were suspended. Damages of one and a half million euros (US$ 1.68m) were awarded to 40 civil parties in the case including bereaved families. See: Morti per amianto, 3 condanne e risarcimenti da 1,5 milioni di euro al processo Montefibre bis [Deaths from asbestos, 3 sentences and compensation of 1.5 million euros in the Montefibre bis trial].
 

Support for UN Action on Asbestos

May 9, 2023

Campaigners for labor and chemical safety rights in the Philippines on May 4, 2023 issued a press release calling for governments to support United Nations action to regulate the global trade in chrysotile (white) asbestos. The 11th Conference of the Parties to the Rotterdam Convention is meeting in Geneva this month; on the agenda is a motion to add chrysotile to a list of hazardous chemicals that can only be traded with the prior informed consent of an importing country. The Trade Union Congress of the Philippines and the EcoWaste Coalition urged the few countries which had blocked listing of chrysotile in the past to support listing in 2023. See: Press Release: TUCP, EcoWaste Coalition Demand Listing of Chrysotile Asbestos in Rotterdam Convention.
 

Asbestos Negotiations in Brussels

May 9, 2023

An asbestos controversy at the heart of the European Union pits lawmakers in the European Parliament – who are calling for increasingly strict workplace asbestos protections – against the EU executive and member states. Whilst the European Commission is proposing a reduction in the exposure limit of asbestos at work from 0.1 fibers per cubic centimeter (f/cm³) to 0.01 f/cm,³ the European Parliament is calling for a reduction of the exposure limit of asbestos to 0.001 fibers/cm³, after a transitional period of 4 years. Difficult negotiations are expected to take place at the upcoming interinstitutional talks to overcome these differences. See: Clash of ambitions in the asbestos fight.
 

Asbestos Deaths in Marseille

May 9, 2023

On May 3, 2023, Robert Martin (73), former head of the Marseille department in charge of the maintenance of municipal buildings, was sentenced to three years in prison and a fine of €30,000 (US$33,000) after he had been found guilty of manslaughter, causing involuntary injury, endangering the lives of others and using a false document. As a result of his negligence, maintenance worker Tony Moulon (2010) and theatre administrator Jean-Laurent Paolini (2014) contracted fatal cases of lung cancer after experiencing occupational asbestos exposures. See: Amiante au théâtre marseillais La Criée: prison ferme requise contre un ancien responsable des bâtiments municipaux [Asbestos at the Marseille theater La Criée: prison sentence for former head of municipal buildings].
 

Asbestos Cancer Alert!

May 9, 2023

Although the Ministry of Health agrees that exposure to all types of asbestos, including chrysotile (white) asbestos, can be harmful to human health, asbestos-containing products are still being used in Vietnam by workers and the public who are, on the whole, unaware of the carcinogenic properties of asbestos. The use of these toxic materials banned in Germany, Australia, Member States of the European Union and many other developed countries remains legal in Vietnam. See: Nhiều người vẫn vô tư sử dụng một chất gây ung thư hàng ngày dù từng bị cấm ở Nhật Bản và Mỹ [Many people still carelessly use a carcinogen daily despite being banned in Japan and [restricted in] the United States].
 

Quantifying Flanders’ Asbestos Problem

May 9, 2023

According to data sourced from a scheme begun in Flanders last year (2022) which mandated that all houses built before 2001 must have an asbestos certificate when put up for sale, it was calculated that up to 40% of homes could contain asbestos. This figure was based on 72,940 certificates which had been issued by 1,093 asbestos experts by the end of April 2023. Announcing these findings on Monday, May 1, 2023, Flemish Environment Minister Zuhal Demir praised the actions being taken by Flemish citizens to remediate the built environment. See: En Flandre, 40% des habitations contiendraient de l’amiante [In Flanders, 40% of homes contain asbestos].
 

Asbestos Pipes Still Being Used in Ontario

May 9, 2023

Officials at the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) in the Ontario town of Sault Ste. Marie confirmed last month that asbestos-containing water pipes remained part of the municipal water delivery system. Only 1.5% of the 468 kilometers of underground water mains are made with asbestos wrote PUC spokesperson Jairus Patterson in an email to a local journalist. Patterson reported that “PUC stopped installing asbestos-concrete pipes in its water mains in 1969 and, according to its records, never had more than 2 per cent of that pipe in its system.” See: PUC confirms asbestos pipes used for Sault drinking water.
 

Asbestos Inconsistencies and Injustice

May 4, 2023

The commentary by veteran judge Roberto Riverso cited below, explores discrepancies in asbestos verdicts in Italy where appellate judges allowed legal loopholes to deprive victims of compensation and benefits owed them under 1992 legislation. Deploring these injustices, Riverso wrote: “it's a scientific certainty that a person who remains exposed to asbestos fibers for a long time, regardless of their number, one or a hundred, and I emphasize regardless, has the ‘probability’ of falling ill with mesothelioma. Once the exposure has been proven, the benefit must be triggered.” See: I decessi per l’amianto “Sostenere la salubrità di un ambiente di lavoro con la statistica è errato” [Deaths from asbestos “Supporting the healthiness of a work environment with statistics is wrong”].
 

Attack on New J&J Corporate Entity

May 4, 2023

As a new Johnson & Johnson (J&J) consumer business (Kenvue) attempted to complete its Initial Public Offer roadshow, seven lawsuits from US cancer claimants who allege their diseases were caused by use of J&J’s asbestos-contaminated talc-based baby powder were filed which named Kenvue, including one lawsuit brought by husband and wife Justin and Kathryn Bergeron from Louisiana. The Bergerons case was filed in Middlesex County, New Jersey, the location of J&J’s home office. See: Talcum powder cancer claims target J&J’s new consumer carve-out.
 

Identifying Asbestos Victims

May 4, 2023

One in four of the asbestos victims in Busan, South Korea had lived in the South District in the 1960s to 1980s. Many of the 785 injured people never worked with asbestos but only breathed in toxic fibers liberated by asbestos processing operations carried out at factories in the city. Residents of the South District were the worst affected due to the operations of the Busan Steel Plant. Asbestos liberated by the Cheil Chemical asbestos textile factory created a cancer hotspot in the Yeonje District, another Busan neighborhood. See: 부산 석면 피해자, 넷 중 1명이 1960~80년대 옛 남구 거주 [Asbestos victims in Busan, 1 in 4 lived in the former South District in the 1960s to 1980s].
 

Asbestos Profits in 2022

May 4, 2023

At its Annual General Meeting on April 21, 2023, Uralasbest – Russia’s second biggest producer of chrysotile (white) asbestos and one of the world's largest producers – announced that despite a significant fall in profits in 2022, dividends would be paid to shareholders; in 2021 no dividends were paid.. A quarter of the net profits for 2022 would be paid out in dividends with the remaining 1,045 billion rubles (US$12.8bn) being “spent on the implementation of investment projects, production development and social needs.” See: "Ураласбест" направит четверть чистой прибыли за 2022г на дивиденды [Uralasbest will send a quarter of net profit for 2022 to dividends].
 

Asbestos in the Entertainment Industry

May 4, 2023

Until now, only nine cases of asbestos-related diseases have been recognized amongst former entertainment industry workers, who were exposed to asbestos used at theaters, concert halls and other entertainment venues. It was, said one expert, likely that many more cases from the entertainment industry have gone undiagnosed and uncompensated. Asbestos fireproofing was sprayed on the ceilings and asbestos safety curtains were often used in theaters. Asbestos material was also used where stage lights and screens were located. See: Asbestos poses risk to ex-entertainment industry workers in Japan.
 

Asbestos in Schools

May 4, 2023

On April 28, 2023, it was announced that yet another Philadelphia school – Universal Vare – had been closed after damaged asbestos was found in plaster above second-floor ceiling tiles during a routine inspection. It is unclear how much other asbestos is present within the school; pending further investigations, the school will remain closed. This is the sixth school in the city to be shuttered due to asbestos; the others are: Building 21, Frankford High, Mitchell Elementary and C.W. Henry and Simon Gratz Charter High School. See: A sixth Philadelphia school has closed because of damaged asbestos.
 

Moscow Toxic Talc Lawsuit

May 3, 2023

It was announced on April 27, 2023, that a Public Consumer Initiative had been filed against Johnson & Johnson (J&J) in Moscow’s Kuntsevsky District Court over the company’s sale in Russia of asbestos-contaminated talc-based baby powder. The lawsuit asked the court to ban the sale of the product in Russia, withdraw from sale all contaminated items and allow Russian consumers to file personal injury lawsuits against J&J over asbestos cancers contracted from use of this product. See: "Известия": Роспотребнадзор проверит продукцию Johnson & Johnson [Izvestia: Rospotrebnadzor will check Johnson & Johnson products].
 

Asbestos at the Fire Station

May 3, 2023

Despite reassurances in 2021 by Fire and Emergency, New Zealand (FENZ), New Zealand's main firefighting and emergency services body, that none of its fire stations had high risk asbestos, six lots of high-risk friable asbestos were found in the Auckland City Station in pipe wrapping and insulation debris by independent surveyors commissioned by the firefighters’ union. Commenting on the findings of the 42-page asbestos audit, union national secretary Joanne Watson said: “We can't trust FENZ to look out for firefighters…We won't be allowing members back in until appropriate remedial work is done in loft.” See: Union does not trust FENZ's data after high-risk asbestos found at central Auckland fire station.
 

Asbestos Help in Lombardy

May 3, 2023

An asbestos outreach project became operational on April 28, 2023 – International Workers’ Memorial Day – in Brescia, Italy to provide a focal point for historic or current asbestos concerns. The new service, called the Asbestos Desk, is based at the Brescia Chamber of Labor and can be consulted every Wednesday by prior appointment. See: Alla sede della Cgil apre uno sportello per fare consulenza gratuita sull'amianto [At the CGIL headquarters, a counter opens to provide free advice on asbestos].
 

Johnson & Johnson

May 3, 2023

On April 24, 2023, lawyers representing cancer claimants urged that a US bankruptcy court in Trenton, New Jersey dismiss yet another bankruptcy filing, the second, by Johnson & Johnson’s (J&J) subsidiary LTL Management. The plaintiffs argued that J&J – a multinational pharmaceutical conglomerate worth more than $400 billion – was abusing the bankruptcy system and denying the legal rights of tens of thousands of consumers who had been injured by using baby powder contaminated with asbestos fibers. See: Cancer victims urge US judge to dismiss J&J talc unit second bankruptcy.
 

Cancer and Death in the Asbestos City

May 3, 2023

The long latency period for the occurrence of asbestos-related diseases has now been reached in Busan, Korea, as a result of which there has been a 128% increase in the numbers of people suffering from asbestosis and lung cancer. In the 1970s and 1980s, Busan was called the “Asbestos City” due to the presence of many asbestos factories. Unfortunately, as the numbers of the affected has grown, the budget for their medical care has been reduced. The number of cases of people with recognized asbestos-related diseases in 2022 was 6000% more than in 2018. See: ‘석면 잠복기(10~40년)’ 끝났다…부산 4년새 피해자 128% 폭증 [‘Asbestos incubation period (10 to 40 years)’ is over… 128% increase in victims in 4 years in Busan].
 

Progressing EU Asbestos Safeguards

May 3, 2023

On April 26, 2023, the EU’s Committee on Employment and Social Affairs approved a draft report on a revision of the Asbestos at Work Directive by a vote of 40:0 with 7 abstentions. The proposals, which would come into force after a four-year transitional period should they be adopted in May 2023 by the European Parliament, called for workplace asbestos exposures to be reduced to the lowest possible level – below an occupational-exposure limit (OEL) of 0.001 fibers/cm³ on an eight-hour average. According to Rapporteur Véronique Trillet-Lenoir: “The renovation wave planned by the Green Deal requires a reinforcement of the protection of workers against asbestos, still present in many buildings.” See: Asbestos at work: boost detection, protection and prevention for EU workers.
 

Firefighters and Cancers

Apr 28, 2023

According to the International Agency for Research on Cancer, there is sufficient evidence to establish that occupational exposures experienced by firefighters led to an increased incidence of the asbestos cancer mesothelioma as well as bladder cancer. A nationwide health surveillance scheme was launched last month by the Fire Brigades Union in collaboration with the Greater Manchester Fire Service “to detect cancers [among firefighters] and other diseases in their early stages — and to identify links with exposure to toxic fire chemicals.” See: Health monitoring programme launched for firefighters due to high number of early cancer and heart disease deaths.
 

Fujikawa Demolition Stopped by Asbestos

Apr 28, 2023

An unwelcomed discovery of asbestos in an old government building in Fujikawa Town, Yamanashi Prefecture, Japan last month brought a halt to demolition proceedings. It will take at least two months for the building to be remediated, after which work can be recommenced. Prior to the commencement of this project, asbestos material had been identified in 16 places in the building; it was the finding of asbestos products at 4 other sites which caused the delay. See: 富士川町の旧庁舎解体工事、新たにアスベスト発覚で2カ月延長 [Demolition work on old government building in Fujikawa-cho extended by 2 months due to newly discovered asbestos].
 

Asbestos: Ovarian and Laryngeal Cancers

Apr 28, 2023

A commentary on the hazardous health consequences of human exposures to asbestos, written by Epidemiologist Alexandra Papadopoulos from France’s National Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health Safety, highlighted the lack of medical and public awareness about the links between asbestos exposures and occurrences of cancer of the larynx and ovary. As a result of the information vacuum, there is an under-reporting of both cancers as occupationally-caused. See: Cancers de l’ovaire et du larynx: les victimes oubliées de l’amiante [Ovarian and laryngeal cancers: the forgotten victims of asbestos].
 

Mesothelioma in Reggio Emilia

Apr 28, 2023

A report by scientists in the Italian region of Reggio Emilia analyzed data on 328 cases of mesothelioma from the Mesothelioma Registry for Emilia Romagna. One hundred and ninety-two cases were due to occupational asbestos exposures, twenty to family exposures, three to environmental exposures and two to non-occupational exposures. In the cases of 111 mesothelioma patients, the type of toxic exposure experienced had not been identified. The silent epidemic continued to claim lives in Reggio Emilia. Mesothelioma sufferers were urged to come forward to secure support and assistance available from the Government. See: Il killer silenzioso Amianto e tumori, in un anno 19 casi “Un problema taciuto” [The silent killer Asbestos and cancer, 19 cases in one year “A hidden problem”].
 

Commentary: Neglect, Complacency & Sorrow

Apr 28, 2023

A special feature in the April 23, 2023 issue of the Sunday Times contrasted the harsh reality faced by asbestos cancer sufferers with the apathy of a government long grown complacent about the scandal which gave the UK the world’s worst incidence of the asbestos cancer mesothelioma. In the face of growing calls to take action – e.g. by setting up a national asbestos register and removing asbestos from the built environment – the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) continues to support the status quo, saying: “Building owners already have a legal duty to record where asbestos is present. This information must be shared with all relevant parties. Creating a central register would be expensive, complicated and unlikely to add to the current system.” See: Asbestos: the forgotten killer taking 5,000 lives a year.
 

RSP in Construction Workers

Apr 28, 2023

According to a new study by researchers from Duke University’s Occupational & Environmental Medicine Division in North Carolina, asbestos workers had the highest prevalence (35.3%) of restrictive spirometry pattern (RSP), followed by truck drivers (32.9%), boilermakers (31.2%), plumbers, steamfitters and pipefitters (29.0%), and electricians 28.4%. “Restriction,” explained the authors “happens when the lungs become stiff after inhaling dust over time, which causes scarring that reduces the person’s ability to breathe in… [there is a] need for more preventive measures for workers.” See: Construction Workers at Increased Risk for Life-Threatening Lung Disease, Study Finds.
 

Johnson & Johnson: Update from NJ

Apr 27, 2023

On April 20, 2023, US Bankruptcy Judge Michael Kaplan issued a mixed verdict in a New Jersey court when he froze for 60 days the progress of tens of thousands of lawsuits brought by cancer victims over the presence of asbestos in talc-based baby powder made by Johnson and Johnson (J&J). According to the Judge, the stay in litigation is to allow LTL Management – a bankrupt J&J subsidiary – time to gain court approval of an $8.9 billion settlement. New lawsuits, however, can be filed over the next two months. See: J&J Wins Pause of Baby Powder Trials, Must Face New Suits.
 

Quebec Asbestos Scandal Unfolding!

Apr 27, 2023

A huge scandal is unfolding in Quebec, the former asbestos heartland of Canada, where the CNESST – the Quebec Commission for Standards, Equity, Health and Safety at Work – has been accused of retaining millions of dollars of asbestos compensation obtained from US bankruptcy trusts on behalf of Canadian asbestos victims. A class action has now been launched at the Superior Court of Quebec to force the CNESST to account for the monies it received and the sums it disbursed. See: Amiante : pourquoi la CNESST cache-t-elle des infos financières aux proches des victimes québécoises? [Asbestos: why does the CNESST hide financial information from relatives of Quebec victims?].
 

Asbestos Check-ups in Busan

Apr 27, 2023

Starting in November 2023, the authorities in Busan, Korea will conduct free health monitoring for residents who lived near former asbestos factories and shipyards, and areas with a high density of asbestos-cement roofing. Eligible individuals will be interviewed at length and then given a basic medical examination at the Asbestos Environmental Health Center of Yangsan Busan National University Hospital. If adverse findings are reported, follow-up tests will be conducted. See: 부산시, 석면 피해 의심 주민 대상 무료건강검진 Busan City, free health check-ups for residents suspected of being affected by asbestos].
 

Victim’s Victory in Venice

Apr 27, 2023

It was reported on April 20, 2023, that the Court in Venice had issued a verdict ordering the Ministry of Defense (MOD) to recognize the 2016 death of Federico Tisato from the asbestos cancer mesothelioma as being occupationally caused; during military service (1965-1971), the deceased was frequently exposed to asbestos contained on board naval ships. Compensation of €1,900/month ($US2,100) was awarded to his widow in addition to a lump sum of €400,000 (US$439,000) in back-dated payments. See: Amianto, la Difesa condannata: il motorista vicentino Federico Tisato è morto vittima del dovere [Asbestos, Defense condemned: Vicenza mechanic Federico Tisato died a victim of duty].
 

Asbestos Documentary

Apr 27, 2023

At 11:15 p.m. on April 22, 2023 a documentary entitled “The Stolen Breath” was broadcast on RTBF (Radio–Television for the Belgian French Community). Film-makers Daniel Lambo and Maarten Schmidt investigated the tragic legacy in Belgium and India of the asbestos operations of the Eternit multinational. The film detailed the asbestos epidemic in the Flemish town of Kapelle-op-den-Bos, for decades Eternit’s Belgian headquarters, with footage of former Kapelle resident Eric Jonckheere, now suffering from the asbestos cancer mesothelioma. Work in India to identify and compensate workers and local people injured by Eternit’s operations was also discussed. See: “Le souffle vole”: enquête sur l’industrie mortelle de l’amiante [“The stolen breath”: investigation into the deadly asbestos industry].
 

Asbestos Shuts Down Fire Station

Apr 27, 2023

On April 20, 2023, Auckland City Fire Station was shut down after asbestos had been found. People in hazmat suits with respirator equipment were observed decontaminating firefighters and fire trucks. According to Martin Campbell, the secretary of New Zealand Professional Firefighter’s Union Auckland, the incident was “a complete shitshow.” As decontamination teams worked to quantify the extent of the contamination, the situation was “still very much developing,” Campbell said. In the meantime, none of the day crew could go home, and the night crew couldn’t start their shift resulting in Auckland having “no heavy aerial appliances or hazardous material teams.” See: NZ's busiest fire station locked down as hazmat units deployed.
 

Johnson & Johnson: Update

Apr 24, 2023

On April 18, 2023, lawyers for the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) subsidiary LTL Management petitioned a court in Trenton, New Jersey to freeze personal injury lawsuits against it and its parent company J&J until bankruptcy proceedings were finalized. LTL, which was set up in October 2021 by J&J as a dumping ground for tens of thousands of cancer lawsuits regarding J&J’s asbestos-contaminated talc-based baby powder, filed for bankruptcy within days of being set up. The first bankruptcy petition was dismissed by the Philadelphia-based 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in January 2023. LTL has now re-filed for voluntary Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, hoping to re-freeze the cancer litigation. See: Johnson & Johnson talc unit again seeks to halt 38,000 cancer lawsuits.
 

TUC Calls for Action on Asbestos

Apr 24, 2023

On the eve of a parliamentary debate on Asbestos in the Workplace, the Trades Union Congress (TUC) issued a press release calling on the UK government “to set out a timetable” for asbestos eradication of the built environment. Explaining the TUC’s position, its General Secretary Paul Nowak said: “thousands of people die every year from industrial diseases caused by asbestos exposure. Asbestos is still with us in workplaces and public buildings across the country… The only way to protect today’s workers and future generations is through the safe removal of asbestos from every workplace and public building. Ministers must commit to removing all asbestos to keep future generations safe.” See: Ministers must commit to asbestos removal from workplaces following death of former MP Alice Mahon.
 

Mesothelioma Alert

Apr 24, 2023

A medical commentary about the signature asbestos cancer mesothelioma was uploaded to a Vietnamese news portal on April 16, 2023. The text covered basic issues such as the nature, types, symptoms, causation and treatment of this aggressive cancer. Asbestos-containing products are still widely used in Vietnam; as a result, members of the public as well as workers experience occupational and non-occupational exposures that could prove fatal in years to come. See: Bạn biết gì về ung thư trung biểu mô – căn bệnh ung thư nguy hiểm nhất? [What do you know about mesothelioma – the deadliest cancer?].
 

Protest in Earthquake Zone

Apr 24, 2023

On April 17, 2023, activists in Samandağ, Hatay – the epicentre of February’s devastating earthquakes – marched to the Governor’s office demanding an end to the dumping of waste containing asbestos and other toxins in the local area. The chants of the crowd made their views clear: “They couldn't kill us in the earthquake, but now they are killing us with asbestos;” and “Stop the dumping of debris, defend life.” After police attacked the demonstrators, a spokesperson was allowed to read out a statement listing their demands which included the right to be involved in the reconstruction process and the reinstatement of norms and regulations to protect the environment and public health. See: Local community protests hazardous debris removal in quake-hit Hatay.
 

Asbestos Found after Indiana Blaze

Apr 24, 2023

A series of air monitoring surveys conducted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) after the April 11, 2023 fire at the 175,000-square feet My Way Trading Warehouse in Richmond, Indiana, detected the presence of asbestos as well as other toxic substances. Debris containing asbestos was found, the Agency said, in neighborhoods surrounding the warehouse. Local residents were advised to contact the EPA to access assistance from EPA asbestos removal professionals to eradicate the hazard. See: EPA finds asbestos, compound used in chemical weapons in Richmond fire air samples.
 

Asbestos in Schools Exposé

Apr 24, 2023

An excellent article about the length and breadth of the national scandal arising from the continued presence of asbestos in UK schools was published on the eve of a Parliamentary debate on asbestos on April 19, 2023. The text appeared on the website of The Conversation – “a network of not-for-profit media outlets” – as well as in the Spotlight/Healthcare section of The New Statesman. The co-authors highlighted the risk to children as well as staff and contrasted the negligence of the UK government with the progress being made in the EU on protecting citizens from asbestos exposures. See: The hidden danger of asbestos in UK schools: ‘I don’t think they realise how much risk it poses to students’.
 

Post-Disaster Asbestos Concerns

Apr 21, 2023

In the aftermath of February’s earthquakes in the Hatay region of Turkey, the dumping of asbestos-containing rubble in inhabited and agricultural areas is causing concern amongst survivors. According to Hatay resident Fatma Dilek Tecirli: “After a while, these toxic wastes will be processed under the ground with rainwater and irrigation of agricultural lands… This rubble is dumped on stream beds, farmland or vacant lots.” Before the earthquakes, the agricultural area in Kahramanmaras, the epicenter of the earthquake, was used to grow wheat, barley, corn, cotton, apricot, peanuts and red pepper. See: Yaşam alanlarına dökülen moloz tarımı bitirecek [Rubble poured into living spaces will end agriculture].
 

Asbestos Legacy under Tory Rule

Apr 21, 2023

A blog uploaded on April 17, 2023 considered the ongoing repercussions of asbestos material contained within 1.5 million buildings in the UK. The lack of leadership on eradicating the hazard along with legislative inconsistences, unclear areas of responsibility and budgetary constraints combine to prolong unsafe conditions for residents as well as workers. Efforts to improve the situation by Members of Parliament have, to date, failed. “We have,” wrote the authors of the blog “to value people’s health and make it safe for people to live in their homes above all else, and yet somehow, time and time again, we fail to do so.” See: As Safe as Houses? Still dealing with asbestos in social housing.
 

Asbestos Emergency!

Apr 21, 2023

The commentary cited below provided a graphic picture of the serious threat posed by 40 million tons of asbestos and asbestos-containing material remaining in Italy’s infrastructure, with toxic products not yet remediated from schools, hospitals, libraries, homes, industrial structures, aqueducts and elsewhere. Contamination of schools puts the lives of 320,000 pupils and 50,000 staff at risk every day whilst the use of 500,000 km of asbestos pipes for water delivery pollutes domestic water supplies. Plans to carry out asbestos removal projects often remain unimplemented to the detriment of all. See: Amianto: emergenza continua in Italia con 40 milioni di tonnellate ancora da bonificare [Asbestos: emergency continues in Italy with 40 million tons still to be reclaimed].
 

Asbestos Abandonment Lawsuit

Apr 21, 2023

The Attorney General (AG) of the Brazilian State of Pernambuco last week demanded compensation of R$322 million (US$65,582,795) from the former owners of the Brazilian navy’s flagship – the São Paulo – which was deliberately sunk by the Navy 350 kilometers off the coast of Pernambuco in February 2023 after it had been abandoned by its Turkish owners. According to the legal documents filed by the AG, the vessel: “contained toxic substances such as asbestos, [which] could have serious impact on the environment…” See: AGU pede R$322 milhões de indenização de empresas que abandonaram porta-aviões no litoral de Pernambuco [AGU asks for R$322 million in compensation from companies that abandoned aircraft carrier off the coast of Pernambuco].
 

Prison Sentence for Asbestos Crimes

Apr 21, 2023

An April 13, 2023 a press release issued by the Health and Safety Executive reported that Daniel Luke Cockcroft of Asbestos Boss Ltd., had been jailed in March 2023 for the commission of multiple asbestos crimes. In September 2021, the accused – who was a director/manager of an unlicensed asbestos removal company – had been responsible for the removal of an asbestos insulating board ceiling from a domestic garage “with little to no control measures in place.” The toxic waste was dumped on the resident’s property. The company was also ordered to pay a fine of £80,000 (US$99,100) and compensate the victims for the full cost of the work. See: Company fined £80,000 after director jailed for removing asbestos across Great Britain.
 

Asbestos and Laryngeal Cancer

Apr 21, 2023

In what has been dubbed a “landmark judgment,” Italy’s Supreme Court (the Court of Cassation) upheld the appeal by a deceased 68-year old worker that his laryngeal cancer had been caused by workplace exposures to asbestos. The Supreme Court, which condemned the former employers, found a causal link between workplace exposures and the cancer despite the fact that the claimant had been a smoker. As a result of the ruling, the defendants will be required to pay an occupational disease pension to surviving family members. See: Amianto: Codacons, Cassazione accoglie ricorso per tumore laringe [Asbestos: Codacons, Cassation upholds appeal for laryngeal cancer].
 

MP’s Asbestos Cancer Death

Apr 20, 2023

A timely and tragic reminder of the price paid by Britons for the Government’s asbestos apathy was the April 13, 2023 finding by assistant coroner Angela Brocklehurst that MP Alice Mahon had died from an industrial disease. Between 1987 and 2005, the Labour politician represented the Halifax constituency; she believed that she contracted malignant mesothelioma from asbestos exposures at Westminster. Prior to her time in Parliament, Mrs Mahon was an auxiliary nurse at Northowram Hospital where she worked inside the main building and in Nissen huts made from corrugated asbestos sheets. See: Alice Mahon died from industrial disease, inquest concludes.
 

Asbestos Aftermath of Cyclone Seroja

Apr 20, 2023

The CEO of the Asbestos Diseases Society of Australia Melita Markey last week called on the Government of Western Australia (WA) to effectively address the health and environmental hazards posed by the clean-up from the cyclone which hit Kalbarri WA in 2021. She criticized the clean-up efforts and tests taken to date as inadequate: “The challenge with air testing,” she said “is that the fibers that lodge in our lungs aren’t picked up because they’re too small… The other challenge is that it can be mixed up with the other dust particles in the area.” See: ‘More needs to be done’ to clean up potential asbestos contamination.
 

Asbestos Outreach Program

Apr 20, 2023

Authorities of South Korea’s Jeju Province announced that a program to assess the health impact on residents in asbestos hotspots would be carried out in four cities including Jeju, Jeju Province and Pohang, North Gyeongsang Province; these municipalities were chosen because of their shipyard repair facilities. Residents who lived within a 4 km radius of the shipyards for more than ten years are eligible to take part in the program run by the Asbestos Environmental Health Center. Anyone diagnosed with an asbestos disease can claim benefits from the relief system operated by the Environmental Industry and Technology Institute. See: 제주시 구도심 주민 대상 ‘석면’ 노출 여부 조사 [Investigation on ‘asbestos’ exposure to residents of Jeju City's old city center].
 

Indiana Fire: Asbestos Alert

Apr 20, 2023

In a statement issued by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on April 12, 2023, the Agency said it had “started collecting debris samples in the surrounding community to determine whether asbestos-containing materials may have left the site” of an ongoing plastics fire in a warehouse in the US state of Indiana. Up to 2,000 residents were displaced from their homes, according to the Department of Homeland Security. The EPA warned the community that “asbestos-containing materials may be present due to the age of the building.” Any debris from the fire should be considered toxic until the results of the EPA analyses were available. See: Some debris from Indiana plastics fire may contain asbestos, EPA warns as particulate matter enters the air.
 

Mining Asbestos Tailings

Apr 20, 2023

A project to reclaim valuable material from asbestos mining waste looks likely to proceed following an April 12 announcement that a Chinese company Tongdao Holdings planned to purchase Xinjiang Dede Xinyuan Environmental Protection Technology Co. Ltd. (XDXEPT), a specialist in the development of tailings treatment and related environmental protection services. XDXEPT has 200 million tons of asbestos tailings which it plans to process to reclaim high-grade silica and magnesium. The acquisition is expected to be completed on March 31, 2024. See: 铜道控股拟收购一家主要从事尾矿治理开发的环保科技公司 [Tongdao Holdings announced its intention to acquire an environmental technology company mainly engaged in tailings treatment and development].
 

Asbestos Liabilities Mount

Apr 20, 2023

The 2022 accounts filed last week for Altrad Services, the French company which now owns the former UK asbestos giant Cape plc, allocated the sum of £118 million (US$147m) for historic asbestos disease claims and litigation costs. Warning that there was “inherent uncertainty” over the number of claims, owing to changes in legal precedent, and the level of costs, Altrad said it would reassess its asbestos liabilities in August 2025. Altrad bought Cape Immediate Holdings for £332m in 2017. See: Altrad makes £118m provision for asbestos claims.
 

Johnson & Johnson: Litigation Update

Apr 17, 2023

On April 11, 2023, lawyers for the U.S. Trustee – the U.S. Department of Justice's bankruptcy watchdog – and tens of thousands of sufferers of cancers contracted, allegedly, as a result of using asbestos-containing talc-based baby powder produced by Johnson & Johnson urged U.S. District Judge Michael Kaplan in Trenton, New Jersey to to stop a second bankruptcy filing by the J&J subsidiary LTL Management. The lawyers challenged LTL’s assertions that two-thirds of the talc claimants would support the deal. See: J&J talc unit faces skepticism on bankruptcy settlement support.
 

Toxic Mining Legacy

Apr 17 2023

Although asbestos mining stopped in Mafefe, Zimbabwe nearly 50 years ago, people living near the contaminated mine site continue to die from toxic exposures. According to 57 year old Amon Sibiya, believed to be suffering from an undiagnosed asbestos-related illness: “Asbestos is everywhere around us. The house we grew up in was built from bricks made from asbestos. Every morning, when I sweep the floor, I find it all over the place.” Amon’s mother died from the signature cancer mesothelioma in November 2022, despite the fact that she had never worked at the mine. His 62-year old brother Siliza was diagnosed in 2014 with asbestosis. Many other local families have members with asbestos-related conditions. See: Death from the dumps: ‘We are dying every day’ – the ghost of Limpopo’s asbestos mining still stalks and kills the living.
 

Fight for Asbestos Justice

Apr 17, 2023

Prostate cancer sufferer Pietro Scialpi believes his cancer was caused by asbestos exposures experienced during his employment by the state-run Italian steel company: Ilva. According to Scialpi: “They monetized the asbestos dust we breathed inside the department, this after an agreement between the unions and the company. They didn't know they were buying our health.” INAIL – Italy’s Institute for Insurance against Accidents at Work – refused to compensate Scialpi, saying that asbestos was not a recognized cause of prostate cancer; medical experts and his attorney disagreed. The claimant was diagnosed with pleural plaques in 2004 and prostate cancer in 2016. See: Monetizzavano le polveri che respiravamo, stavano comprando la nostra salute [They were monetizing the dust we breathed, they were buying our health].
 

Freeing Canada from Asbestos

Apr 17, 2023

Civil society groups in Canada are calling on provincial authorities and the federal government to adopt “a strategic approach” to eradicate asbestos from the built environment as a matter of public health. According to a spokesperson from the International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators and Allied Workers: “the federal ban on asbestos in 2018 should be seen as merely the starting point for mitigation efforts.” Citing Australia’s coordinated asbestos remediation program, a representative of Asbestos Free Canada said the removal of asbestos from thousands of Canadian buildings should be done “in a cost-effective way, ideally linked with other necessary work on our infrastructure, especially to strengthen our resiliency to the impact of climate change.” See: Insulators lead call for national asbestos strategy.
 

Another Asbestos Bankruptcy

Apr 17, 2023

Pursuant to a Texas bankruptcy court order, a Washington-based media group launched a media campaign in 19 languages this year (2023) with a 1.7 billion target audience in 169 countries, to advise potential claimants of their right to take legal action over occupational asbestos exposures at the St. Croix oil refinery in the US Virgin Islands. The deadline for the submission of claims against the owners of the facility – the Hess Oil Virgin Islands Corporation now called HONX – was March 17, 2023. According to court records submitted on April 7, 2023, 303 calls had been received by March 31, 2023. See: Thousands, Maybe 1.7 billion, Observe Hess Asbestos Suit Deadline.
 

Asbestos in Scottish Schools

Apr 14, 2023

The Sunday issue of The Scotsman – a daily Scottish newspaper and online news portal – blamed cuts by the Scottish National Party (SNP) for the dangerous state of schools in Scotland which remain contaminated with asbestos. According to responses to Freedom of Information requests, 1,745 primary, secondary and special schools in Scotland still contain asbestos materials. Commenting on the situation, Shadow education secretary Stephen Kerr said: “Asbestos is toxic and can have fatal consequences for those exposed to it. Parents will naturally be very concerned at the sheer number of schools known to have it within their estate.” See: SNP criticised for 'savage' cuts after Tories reveal 1,745 Scottish schools contain asbestos.
 

Asbestos in Schools: Philadelphia Update

Apr 14, 2022

Last week, students from two schools in Philadelphia – Mitchell Elementary School and Frankford High School – were switched to virtual learning when their schools were closed because of the discovery of asbestos. The situation was, said a spokesperson for the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, “deeply concerning and upsetting.” On March 1, 2023 students were sent home when asbestos was discovered at another Philadelphia high school: Building 21. Although Building 21 will be closed long-term, it’s hoped that students from the other two schools may be able to return to their schools this month. See: Two Philadelphia Schools Close After Asbestos Found ‘DEEPLY CONCERNING’.
 

Good News in WA!

Apr 14, 2023

It was announced on April 7, 2023, that scientists at the University of Western Australia (WA) had been awarded $480,000 (to be paid over the next four years) by the Cancer Council WA for research into the treatment of patients with lung cancer and mesothelioma. Commenting on this news, Professor Jenette Creaney, Scientific Director of the National Centre for Asbestos Related Diseases (NCARD), said the funding would enable her to continue research via the use of clinical trials. “At present,” Professor Creaney said “I am testing the safety and practicality of a personalised vaccine approach by understanding and enhancing the ability of the body’s own immune system to recognise and attack tumour cells.” See: University of Western Australia Gets Major Funding for Lung Cancer And Mesothelioma Research.
 

Calls for Shift in National Asbestos Policy

Apr 14, 2023

The feature cited below, which was uploaded to an Indian news portal on April 9, 2023, detailed efforts by the Occupational & Environmental Health Network India (OEHNI) – a health rights network – to convince India’s Union Minister for Chemicals and Fertilizers to heed a call made by a United Nations Agency to take action on asbestos; “it is not only a hazard for the workers exposed to it in [the] course of mining or manufacturing,” author of the letter Jagdish Patel wrote “but, a hazard to the non-workers, i.e. citizens also.” See: Despite UN move, Govt of India 'refusing to ban' manufacture of hazardous asbestos.
 

Mesothelioma Research: New Paper

Apr 14, 2023

The March 16, 2023 issue of the international scientific journal Nature Genetics included an article about the molecular study of malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM) entitled “Multiomic analysis of malignant pleural mesothelioma identifies molecular axes and specialized tumor,” co-written by Chilean researcher Dr. Alex Di Genova when he was doing his second postdoctoral fellowship in France. The researchers’ findings revealed: “the interplay between MPM functional biology and its genomic history, and provide insights into the variations observed in the clinical behavior of patients with MPM.” See: Publican destacada investigación de médico chileno sobre mesotelioma, un raro cáncer al pulmón [Outstanding research by a Chilean doctor on mesothelioma, a rare lung cancer, is published].
 

J&J’s Racist Marketing

Apr 14, 2023

A commentary focusing on the entrenched mistreatment of black female consumers in the US, took as the starting point for its discussion, news that the US pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson (J&J) was progressing a nearly $9 billion plan to offload cancer claims from people who allege that their illnesses had been caused by use of J&J’s iconic baby powder. According to the claimants, the powder was contaminated with asbestos fibers. Other dangerous products marketed to black women included hair relaxers, the use of which had been linked to uterine fibroids and cancer. See: OP-ED: Johnson & Johnson’s Lawsuit is a Cruel Reminder that Black Women are (Still) Unprotected.
 

Update: Quebec’s Asbestos Water Pipes

Apr 13, 2023

Plans by Quebec to conduct sampling of drinking water in municipalities where there are asbestos-cement pipes were postponed according to an announcement last week. Despite the fact that Quebec’s Ministry of the Environment provided conflicting replies to journalists’ enquiries about the timetable and logistics of the sampling program, Environment Minister Benoit Charette said that the program was on track. Quebec has more than 1,000 km of asbestos-cement water pipes. A citizens’ petition presented this month to the House of Commons in Ottawa called for the setting of a federal standard for the presence of asbestos fibers in drinking water. See: Environnement: Québec en retard pour tester l’eau des tuyaux en amianto [Environment: Quebec late to test water from asbestos pipes].
 

Union Calls for Asbestos Action

Apr 13, 2023

In an April 4, 2023 press release, the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) called on the federal government to prioritise the “safe and coordinated removal of asbestos from buildings” as a matter of public safety. Citing data in a new report by the Australian Institute of Health, ACTU Assistant Secretary Liam O’Brien said: “Asbestos remains the biggest killer of workers in Australia and as long as we have materials in our buildings that contain asbestos, this terrible disease (mesothelioma) will stay with us for decades to come…The Australian data highlights that despite banning asbestos in all forms we continue to see rising cases of mesothelioma and asbestos- related disease.” See: Prioritising removal of asbestos still needed to tackle mesothelioma.
 

Major U-Turn by Chemical Company

Apr 13, 2023

In an unexpected change of policy on April 4, 2023, US chlorine producer Olin Corporation announced that it would no longer oppose legislation banning asbestos. In a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Olin CEO Scott Sutton told regulators that the company would endorse proposed prohibitions as long as there was a seven year phase out for asbestos-containing materials already in use. “Additionally,” he wrote “no asbestos imports into the U.S. are required past today.” The EPA’s current public consultation on draft asbestos proposals will end on April 17; the EPA said it would consider the Olin submission along with other information. See: Major Chemical Company Changes Tune on Asbestos, No Longer Opposes EPA Ban.
 

Anger over Asbestos Dumping in Sardinia

Apr 13, 2023

The dumping of asbestos-containing construction rubble by companies from the north of Italy in the south of the country has caused outrage amongst Sardinians. In a top secret operation, ships loaded with the toxic rubble took the waste from Genoa to the Serra Scrieddus landfill near the town of Carbonia, in the south-west of Sardinia. Critics say that this is the largest transfer of asbestos waste ever made in Italy and that these shipments are illegal. The debris was created during construction of the largest infrastructure project in Italy: the Tortona–Genoa high-speed railway line, also known as the Third Pass, will link Genoa to Tortona. See: Navi cariche di amianto da Genova a Carbonia [Ships loaded with asbestos from Genoa to Carbonia].
 

Asbestos Liabilities Slash Company’s Value

Apr 13, 2023

The value of Velan, a Montreal industrial valve manufacturer, has been reduced by tens of millions of dollars as a result of asbestos-related litigation. Flowserve, the US company which is buying Velan, has assessed Velan’s value at $280 million. According to investment specialist Stephen Takacsy: “The litigation costs for [asbestos] seriously reduced the value of the transaction, from $5 to $6 per share;” these liabilities reduced the company’s worth by between $100 to $130 million. Two of Velan’s US subsidiaries have been named as defendants in asbestos lawsuits. See: Velan's value reduced by asbestos.
 

New Asbestos Campaign by HSE

Apr 13, 2023

A campaign entitled Asbestos & You was launched on April 6, 2023 by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) to warn British tradespeople about the dangers of asbestos hidden within the built environment. Commenting on the HSE’s initiative Tim Beaumont, HSE’s acting head of the construction policy sector, said: “All tradespeople should make sure they know the basics about identifying asbestos. Before carrying out any construction work, there’s a legal requirement to identify whether asbestos is present and could be disturbed. Younger tradespeople need to know the dangers behind asbestos as it could affect them in later life like it is affecting older tradespeople now.” See: Asbestos and You.
 

Asbestos in Schools

Apr 11, 2023

At the annual conference of the National Education Union (NEU) in Harrogate last week, a motion was passed calling on the Government to prioritise the removal of asbestos from all UK schools. Commenting on the adoption of Motion 39, Joint General Secretary of the NEU Dr Mary Bousted said: “For decades the NEU and its predecessor unions have been highlighting the risks to children and staff of working in buildings riddled with asbestos and calling for a programme of systematic phased removal of asbestos from all schools, starting with the most dangerous first. Since 1980 more than 400 school teaching professionals have died of mesothelioma in Britain, with 300 having died since 2001.” See: The dangers of asbestos.
 

Mesothelioma Incidence: New Data

Apr 11, 2023

A report published on April 4, 2023, by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare and the Australian Mesothelioma Registry, confirmed that Australia continues to have “one of the highest measured incidence rates of mesothelioma in the world” with up to 800 people dying every year from this asbestos cancer. According to the report, in the 2019-20 financial year, $32.1 million was spent by the health system on care for mesothelioma patients. Whilst the majority of male mesothelioma patients reported occupational asbestos exposures, only 6.6% of women experienced such occupational exposures. See: Mesothelioma in Australia 2021.
 

Uplift in Asbestos Benefits

Apr 11, 2023

An April 4, 2023 circular issued by INAIL – Italy’s National Institute for Insurance against Accidents at Work – confirmed a 2% increase in pension payments to the families of deceased asbestos victims, starting on April 1, 2023; in addition, mesothelioma patients with non-occupational asbestos exposures (e.g. familial or environmental exposures) or the heirs of people who died from such exposures will now receive a lump sum of €15,000 (US$16,360) instead of €10,000. See: INAIL, maggiorazioni economiche per le vittime da amianto [INAIL, economic increases for asbestos victims].
 

Asbestos Outreach Project in Montana

Apr 11, 2023

Pursuant to its remit to provide care for people who may have contracted an asbestos-related disease as a result of asbestos exposures in Libby, Montana, the Center for Asbestos Related Disease (CARD) has obtained funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to establish an asbestos outreach program. To qualify for medical screening, a person must have spent at least six months in Lincoln County, Montana over ten years ago. On April 27, CARD’s mobile screening clinic will visit Sanders County. The medical tests which will be undertaken include chest x-rays, autoimmune blood tests, spirometry breathing tests, compilations of health and exposure histories and interviews with trained providers. See: Mobile asbestos screening clinic coming to Sanders County.
 

Asbestos Regulations to be Scrapped?

Apr 11, 2023

On April 5, 2023, the British Occupational Hygiene Society and the Chartered Society for Worker Health Protection raised the alarm over threats by the Tory Government to scrap vital health and safety asbestos regulations by the end of 2023 as part of a wholesale downgrading of workplace safety laws. According to asbestos safety specialist Jonathan Grant: “It is almost unbelievable that the Asbestos Regulations, which are essential to save lives, could be listed for potential repeal. We urgently need confirmation by the government that our health and safety is not going to be diluted.” See: UK Asbestos Regulations to be Abolished?
 

Asbestos Crimes in Massachusetts

Apr 11, 2023

Last week, the Attorney General of Massachusetts Andrea Joy Campbell announced that she had lodged criminal charges against Franklin Analytical Services Inc. and its owners Thomas J. McCoog Sr. and Amy Franklin McCoog, arising from illegal asbestos operations carried out in the Massachusetts towns of New Bedford, Fall River, Dartmouth, North Andover, Stoughton, Bridgewater, West Bridgewater and Brockton. According to a press release, the accused were indicted by a grand jury on 32 counts of violating the Massachusetts Clean Air Act. See: Marion company charged with illegal asbestos work in New Bedford, Fall River, Dartmouth.
 

Johnson & Johnson: Update

Apr 7, 2023

On April 4, 2023, it was announced that the US pharmaceutical behemoth Johnson and Johnson (J&J) had reached a deal to advance plans for a nearly $9 billion settlement with ~40,000 US litigants who claim that their use of J&J’s asbestos-contaminated talc-based baby powder had given them cancer. Pending court approval, the settlement under discussion would be paid out over 25 years through the J&J subsidiary LTL Management, which is now in bankruptcy. The settlement plan was, said a J&J spokesman, “not an admission of wrongdoing.” See: Johnson & Johnson Reaches Deal for $8.9 Billion Talc Settlement.
 

Asbestos in the Navy

Apr 7, 2023

According to a report published on April 5, 2023, 82 sailors in the Spanish Navy have died from asbestos-related diseases in the last twenty years. According to sub-lieutenant Francisco Feal, the ships were full of rats, but “the worst part was the cloud of worn-out asbestos that circulated everywhere and that we breathed in for months, even years. Hundreds of us got sick, and many died of cancer. We are still paying for it today.” Although asbestos was banned in Spain in 2002, asbestos material remains on naval ships. See: Asbestos killed 82 members of Spanish navy in last 20 years: Report.
 

Uralasbest Puff Piece

Apr 7, 2023

The Russian article cited below was a love letter to Yuri Kozlov, the General Director of Russia’s second largest asbestos conglomerate: Uralasbest. Highlighting his rise from assistant excavator operator to mining foreman to chief engineer to the head of the industrial giant (1995), the article credited Yuri with playing a leading role in saving the asbestos company from bankruptcy. The author of the text neglected to mention the fact that exposure to chrysotile asbestos causes a variety of cancers as well as respiratory diseases. See: Генерал асбестовых карьеров [The General of Asbestos Quarries].
 

Asbestos Legacy in Ottawa

Apr 7, 2023

Throughout most of the 20th century, Canada was the world’s leading asbestos producer. The federal government supported asbestos vested interests in promoting domestic and international sales of Canadian asbestos. It is ironic to hear that the use of asbestos in the construction of the Prime Minister’s official residence – 24 Sussex Drive – has now come back to haunt the current administration. On April 4, news was released that the residence would be shut down due to a rodent infestation that could not be dealt with because of the presence of asbestos in the walls of the structure. See: Canadian PM’s residence shut down over dead mice in walls, documents say.
 

Asbestos Cancer Alert!

Apr 7, 2023

It is curious that the article cited below which warned about the cancer hazard posed by working with asbestos appeared on a Chinese news portal; China is one of the world’s biggest asbestos producing and using countries. In 2020, China produced 120,000 tonnes (t) of asbestos and consumed 243,000t. The text, which was about various factors likely to cause lung cancer, warned citizens of the serious health risks posed by occupational exposures to a variety of substances including asbestos, arsenic, chromium, formaldehyde, and vinyl chloride. See: 早期没有征兆!预防肺癌靠这些 [There were no early signs! Prevent lung cancer by these steps].
 

Asbestos Protest in Hatay

Apr 7, 2023

Victims of the February 2023 earthquakes in Turkey took part in a public protest in the Province of Hatay over the haphazard dumping of asbestos-containing building debris in the Deniz neighbourhood, an area near temporary housing erected for survivors. According to a spokesperson for the protestors: “People who have not died from the earthquake will die from asbestos...If this practice continues in this way, the people of Samandağ will face new health problems such as lung and pleural cancer.” Footage showing police attacking the protestors was uploaded to the twitter feed of: Hatay_Ekoloji See: Earthquake victims in Turkey's Hatay protest dumping rubble near tent city.
 

April Fools Joke???

Apr 5, 2023

An article in The McGill Tribune – the student newspaper at Canada’s McGill University – which was uploaded on April 1, 2023 announced the “recruitment of a new therapy animal, commonly known by its endearing name asbestos.” Whilst university officials could have addressed matters of concern to students, such as the deteriorating state of McGill’s buildings, the high price of food on campus or difficulties in accessing health and mental health services, they had instead opted to provide asbestos therapy pets. “Asbestos has,” the author concluded “been a part of our lives for so long that it’s practically a member of the community.” See: Asbestos, the best therapy animal – The McGill Tribune.
 

Presumptive Cancers for Firefighters

Apr 5, 2023

Last week, the Australian State of Tasmania expanded the number of cancers included under presumptive cancer legislation for professional firefighters from 12 to 20; included on this list were: cervical cancer, ovarian cancer, penile cancer, thyroid cancer, pancreatic cancer, skin cancer, lung cancer and malignant mesothelioma. Welcoming Tasmania’s leadership role in supporting its firefighters, a spokesman for the United Firefighters Union of Australia said the legislation “sets an excellent example for the nation.” If a firefighter contracts one of the listed cancers, his/her compensation claim is approved without needing to prove the cancer was occupationally caused. See: Cancer win for firefighters as Tasmanian legislation leads the way for compensation claims.
 

Mesothelioma Nurse Award

Apr 5, 2023

On March 24, 2023, clinical nurse specialist for mesothelioma Sam Westbrook was declared the winner of the Oncology Nurse of the Year category of the British Journal of Nursing awards 2023. Nurse Westbrook works at the Peritoneal Malignancy Institute Basingstoke, part of Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. Since 2018, Sam’s post has been funded by Mesothelioma UK. Commenting on this news, Meso UK’s Leah Taylor said: “It is testament to her hard work and dedication to improving the lives of those affected by peritoneal mesothelioma. Sam has been pivotal in raising the profile of the disease among the healthcare professionals and ensuring patients get the best possible treatment and care.” See: Basingstoke nurse wins British Journal of Nursing award.
 

Challenging Georgia-Pacific’s Asbestos Dodge

Apr 5, 2023

A legal reversal handed down by a three-judge federal appeals court panel in Philadelphia in January 2023 in litigation over Johnson & Johnson’s attempt to off-load its asbestos liabilities could impact on the outcome of asbestos cases brought against Koch Industries’ subsidiary Georgia-Pacific (GP). Koch Industries was the first conglomerate to use the “Texas two-step” to dump asbestos claims into a subsidiary which was then put into bankruptcy whilst the parent company retained all the company’s assets and profits. On February 17, a mesothelioma victim filed a lawsuit with the North Carolina court challenging GP’s bankruptcy claim, noting that in 2022 GP had paid $2.5 billion in dividends to its parent company. See: Court Ruling Could Curtail Koch’s Legal Sleight of Hand on Asbestos Claims.
 

Criminal Asbestos Trial Ending

Apr 5, 2023

On March 29, 2023, as the long-running criminal trial of Swiss asbestos billionaire Stephen Schmidheiny at the Novara Court of Assizes (Italy) drew to its close, it was announced that the verdict would be handed down on June 7, 2023. During the March 29 hearing, the defense called for Schmidheiny to be acquitted of all charges; previously, prosecutors had called for a sentence of life imprisonment. The defendant was charged with the voluntary homicide of 392 people from the town of Casale Monferrato, all of whom died from asbestos-related diseases, allegedly caused by exposure to asbestos fibers liberated by the Eternit asbestos-cement factory operated by Schmidheiny. See: Processo Eternit bis: sentenza attesa il 7 giugno [Eternit bis trial: sentence expected on June 7].
 

National Asbestos Legacy

Apr 5, 2023

Decades of asbestos use in social housing has left a deadly legacy hidden in the walls, floors, ceilings and windows of council flats and houses. As the use of all types of asbestos was banned in the UK more than 23 years ago, the asbestos material still in place is aging; as this material deteriorates, the likelihood of it liberating cancer-causing asbestos fibers increases. In 2022, a spokesperson for the Unite trade union told a Parliamentary enquiry that: “it had a particular concern around social housing because of the very poor state of this housing stock.” See: The lingering asbestos threat in our social homes.
 

Asbestos Health Warning!

Apr 3, 2023

On March 29, 2023, Vietnam’s Ministry of Health issued an alert over the asbestos hazard, warning that public complacency about the dangers to human health posed by occupational and environment asbestos exposures would almost certainly result in an increased incidence of cancer. Asbestos use is legal in Vietnam and construction, insulation and automotive products containing toxic fibers remain popular, despite the fact that the Ministry of Health confirmed that “all types of asbestos, including chrysotile, are … harmful to health.” See: Một chất gây ung thư từng bị cấm ở Nhật Bản và Hoa Kỳ, nhiều người không biết vẫn vô tư tiếp xúc hàng ngày [Many people are still carelessly exposing themselves daily to a carcinogen banned in Japan and at one time in the United States].
 

Another Congressional Ban Asbestos Bill

Apr 3, 2023

A bill to ban asbestos was reintroduced to Congress on March 30, 2023 by Senator Jeff Merkley and Representative Suzanne Bonamici. In a press release Merkley said: “Every day that goes by without an asbestos ban is another day that Americans’ health and lives are being put in grave danger...We’ve known for generations that asbestos is lethal, yet the U.S. has continued to allow some industries to value profits over people.” Echoing her colleague’s comments Congresswoman Bonamici added: “It is unacceptable that the United States continues to allow the importation, manufacture, and distribution of asbestos—a known carcinogen that has killed too many people in our country.” See: Merkley, Bonamici introduce legislation to ban asbestos – KTVZ.
 

Honor for Mesothelioma Researcher

Apr 3, 2023

At the European Lung Cancer Conference, in Copenhagen last week, Professor Paul Baas delivered the keynote lecture to mark his acceptance of the Heine H. Hansen Award 2023 “for his outstanding contribution to thoracic oncology research.” The title of his paper was Mesothelioma treatment: From hopeless to hopeful. While some progress had been made in understanding mesothelioma, the signature cancer caused by exposure to asbestos in recent years, “the oncology community cannot, “he said “rest on its laurels, as mesothelioma remains a heavy burden in countries with poor asbestos control.” See: ELCC 2023丨获奖者Paul Baas教授访谈:间皮瘤治疗的发展历程 [ELCC 2023 | Interview with Professor Paul Baas: The Development of Mesothelioma Treatment].
 

Posthumous Award for WA Hero!

Apr 3, 2023

At the AGM of the Asbestos Diseases Society of Australia (ADSA) on March 31, 2023, the recipient of the 31st Emeritus Professor Eric G. Saint Memorial Award was named as the late Ernie Bridge, Western Australia’s first Indigenous MP (see: ADSA Facebook Page). The date of the presentation was significant as it marked the 10th anniversary of the death of Mr. Bridge from the asbestos cancer mesothelioma. According to ADSA CEO Melita Markey: “Ernie was a hero. He risked his life travelling to Wittenoom. He would have had more knowledge than most on the dangers of Wittenoom, and being a Minister he would’ve been aware of the reasons for the town’s necessary closure.” See: Wittenoom closure champion remembered with posthumous award.
 

Asbestos Whistleblowers: Update

Apr 3, 2023

Officers from Spain’s Civil Guard are investigating allegations of harassment by two whistleblowers stationed in the Balearic Islands who had denounced the presence of asbestos in military barracks where 60 personnel currently live. The Independent Professional Association of the Civil Guard expressed its “deepest concern about the fact that our representatives in that area are currently on medical leave, with what this entails and its both professional and personal significance, since the situation for them has become untenable under such pressure.” See: La Guardia Civil expedienta a dos agentes por denunciar la existencia de amianto cancerígeno en su casa cuartel [The Civil Guard investigates two agents for denouncing the existence of carcinogenic asbestos in their barracks].
 

Asbestos and Earthquakes

Apr 3, 2023

On March 29, 2023, The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) issued warnings about the health and environmental hazards posed by the presence of asbestos in buildings damaged and/or destroyed by major earthquakes which hit Turkish cities in early February 2023: “With more than 210 million tons of earthquake rubble, relief teams and victims are both exposing themselves to elevated health risks from asbestos,” said an IFRC spokesperson. Two million people live in Gaziantep City, the epicenter of the 7.8-magnitude earthquake that shook the region on February 6, 2023. See: IFRC warns of presence of asbestos and its impacts in Turkey’s quake zone.
 

Addressing Asbestos Complacency

Mar 31, 2023

A dangerous complacency about asbestos continues to endanger the lives of New Zealanders despite the fact that asbestos use was banned and regulations were put in place to minimize toxic exposures. Negligent employers, cowboy builders and DIY home renovators have been accused of ignoring health and safety regulations, thereby exposing workers as well as members of the public to asbestos. At a recent asbestos industry conference in New Zealand, Workplace Relations and Safety Minister Michael Wood admitted that more “needed to be done because businesses were still turning a blind eye to the very real risks of asbestos, which is responsible for about 220 deaths annually.” See: Businesses accused of turning a blind eye to the risk of asbestos which kills about 220 New Zealanders a year.
 

Asbestos Facts: Stick to the Party Line

Mar 31, 2023

A weird article on the Russian website “Ridus” – “now largely seen as a propaganda outlet of the Russian state” – uploaded on March 28, 2023 featured a number of historical facts about the industrialization of asbestos, citing Greek, Roman and Arabic sources. At no point in the text was mention made of the fact that exposures to asbestos were hazardous. Considering the fact that the site which hosted this article was linked to the Russian state and that Russia is the world’s largest supplier of asbestos, the failure to mention the health hazard was intentional and not accidental. See: Удивительный асбест в арабском мире: «горное волокно» на Средневековом Ближнем Востоке [Amazing Asbestos in the Arab World: “Mountain Fiber” in the Medieval Middle East].
 

National Scandal Grows

Mar 31, 2023

A series of articles appeared this week about the presence of asbestos in the infrastructure of various Canadian cities. The article cited below detailed new findings, showing that one third of the water delivered in Saskatoon went via aging asbestos-cement pipes. On March 28, 2023, an article entitled Residents concerned after asbestos found in Vancouver Island water pipes reported that asbestos cement pipes were still being used to deliver water to residents on Vancouver Island. The pipes were installed decades ago and the ingestion of water delivered via these pipes could be linked to the occurrence of gastrointestinal cancers. See: Nearly a third of Saskatoon's water-main networks contain asbestos, CTV News investigation finds.
 

Soviet Legacy in Bohemia

Mar 31, 2023

A criminal investigation is ongoing over the suspected presence of asbestos at an abandoned barracks formerly owned by the Russian Army in Central Bohemia, in the Czech Republic. The offices of a company based in Prague were raided by members of the criminal investigation department on March 27, 2023. According to news report, the company had been paid 111 million kroons (US$5m) to decontaminate the area. Files were also seized by the police from the offices of the Central Bohemian Region. See: В Чехии на Территории Бывших Объектов Советской Армии Оставили Опасный Асбест [In the Czech Republic, Dangerous Asbestos was left on Sites of former Soviet Army Facilities].
 

Victim’s Verdict in Mesothelioma Case

Mar 31, 2023

On March 16, 2023, an Administrative Labor Tribunal in Quebec awarded the surviving family of a mesothelioma sufferer C$63,028 (US$46,111) with Administrative judge Valérie Lajoie declaring that the deceased – a licensed practical nurse who had worked at Bagotville Foyer Hospital from 1971 to 1997 – had died in 2017 aged 73 from an occupational lung disease having been exposed to asbestos at her workplace. The Judge also said that the family had won its case with respect to the death benefit as per stipulations of the Industrial Accidents and Occupational Diseases Act. See: La succession d’une infirmière exposée à l’amiante indemnisée [The estate of a nurse exposed to asbestos compensated].
 

Asbestos: Public Health Emergency

Mar 31, 2023

The commentary on a Spanish news portal which is referenced below highlighted the tragic consequences of a national scandal causing much human suffering and many deaths every year. A victims’ association in Navarra (ADAVAN) warned that as the asbestos-containing products installed within the Spanish infrastructure age, the danger of toxic exposures grows even greater. The situation has created a public health emergency that the authorities continue to downplay despite national legislation and EU deadlines. See: “No podemos permitir este reguero de dolor y Muerte”: las consecuencias del amianto alcanzan el momento más álgido [“We cannot allow this trail of pain and death”: the consequences of asbestos reach highest point].
 

Experts Urge Action on Toxic Imports

Mar 28, 2023

A press release issued on March 27, 2023 by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights urged Parties to the United Nations’ Rotterdam Convention (RC) to strengthen protections from toxic chemicals by adopting a proposal to list chemicals on a new annex. In the past, RC Parties failed “to add hazardous chemicals [including chrysotile asbestos] to Annex III despite the recommendations for listing by the scientific body of the Convention.” Parties are better able to control the imports of listed chemicals as they are subject to the Convention’s Prior Informed Consent Procedure. See: UN experts urge Parties to Rotterdam Convention to adopt amendment listing hazardous chemicals.
 

Asbestos Scandal in Regina

Mar 28, 2023

An investigation broadcast last week in the Canadian city of Regina highlighted the public health threat posed by the continued use of a water delivery system supplied by 500 kilometers of fifty-year-old asbestos-cement pipes. The deteriorating pipes released cancer-causing fibers into the water; scientists believe that the ingestion of these fibers can cause gastrointestinal tract cancers. New research revealed that 99% out of the 100 Canadian communities contacted by the reporters still used asbestos pipes in municipal water delivery systems. See: 'We have to find a solution': W5 investigation explores risk of asbestos cement pipes in Regina.
 

Asbestos Puff Piece

Mar 28, 2023

It must be hard in Russia to find good news stories. The text of the article cited below served dual purposes: 1) to rejoice in the benefits to Russia of Western sanctions and 2) to promote the use of home-grown chrysotile (white) asbestos. The author claimed that dark forces had launched an “undeserved” attack on chrysotile in order to build markets for expensive synthetic alternative fibers. Citing discredited “evidence,” the author repeated asbestos industry propaganda that chrysotile can be used safely under “controlled conditions.” See: Хризотиловые тормозные колодки как кейс успешного импортозамещения [Chrysotile brake pads as a case of successful import substitution].
 

School Asbestos Exposure Compensation

Mar 28, 2023

The results of an arbitration process overseen by Kobe District Court over liability for asbestos exposures which occurred at Kogawa Municipal Beppu Junior High School in Hyogo Prefecture in 2020 were announced this week. The toxic exposures took place during demolition work on part of the school building; asbestos material was disturbed by the workers. As per the agreement awarding 22 million yen (US$167,222), 13m yen (US$98,815) will be paid by the designer, 7m (US$53,200) by the city, and 2m (US$15,200) by the contractor. See: 加古川・別府中石綿工事問題 市と業者が調停和解へ、損害額は総額2200万円 [Kakogawa/Beppuchu Asbestos Construction Issues: City and Contractors Reach Arbitration Settlement, Total Damages of 22 Million Yen].
 

Progress on Asbestos Removal in Salamanca

Mar 28, 2023

During 2022, 4,146,087 kilograms of asbestos were removed in the province of Salamanca according to data from the Territorial Environmental Service, the government agency responsible for supervising asbestos removal, management and disposal protocols. The most common use of asbestos in Spain was in the manufacture of building products such as roofing tiles and pipes. Despite the health hazard posed by exposures to asbestos-containing products, no records were made of where they were installed. Spanish municipalities must undertake asbestos audits of all public buildings before 2023. See: Salamanca retira 4.146 toneladas de amianto, el material que provoca fibrosis y cancer [Salamanca removes 4,146 tons of asbestos, the material that causes fibrosis and cancer].
 

HSE Evaluation of Fluorescence Microscopy

Mar 28, 2023

According to an evaluation just published by the UK’s Health and Safety Executive (HSE), a technique developed in Japan and commercially available in the UK for detecting airborne asbestos fibers did “not support the use of this method by duty holders or for HSE research” as “all fibres tested, displayed some level of fluorescence making it difficult to discriminate between asbestos fibres and non-asbestos fibres.” The Japanese protocol uses fluorescence microscopy to facilitate the identification and measurement of fibers present in air and lung samples. See: RR1191: Fluorescence Microscopy to measure asbestos in air and lung samples: evaluation of a commercially available method.
 

J&J Appeals to Supreme Court

Mar 27, 2023

On March 22, 2023, Johnson and Johnson (J&J) announced that it planned to ask the US Supreme Court to endorse the corporation’s use of the “Texas Two-Step” to dodge 38,000 cancer claims from consumers of J&J’s talc-based baby powder which, so the claimants say, was contaminated with asbestos fibers. J&J dumped these claims into a new subsidiary – LTL Management – which was shortly thereafter put into bankruptcy. On March 22, the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals based in Philadelphia unanimously rejected J&J’s appeal of the Court’s January 2023 decision which ruled that LTL's bankruptcy should be dismissed. See: J&J to seek U.S. Supreme Court review on unit's bankruptcy.
 

Asbestos Removal & Renewable Energy

Mar 27, 2023

In their 2023 budget the authorities in Catalonia, Spain allocated €40 million (U$43m) to subsidize up to 100% of the cost of work to replace toxic asbestos roofing with photovoltaic panels on buildings used for agricultural purposes such as those on livestock and agricultural farms. Invoices must be dated after January 1, 2023. An additional €10m (US$10.8m) was allocated for removing asbestos roofs from private homes. All work must be carried out by specialist contractors approved by the Waste Agency of Catalonia. See: Sustituir al amianto por placas solares [Replacing asbestos with solar panels].
 

Addressing Quebec’s Toxic Asbestos Past

Mar 27, 2023

On March 24, 2023, Quebec’s Minister of Natural Resources and Forests Maïté Blanchette Vézina and the MP for Lotbinière-Frontenac Isabelle Lecours announced plans by the Quebec Government to provide $6 million for projects exploring ways to remediate former asbestos mining sites, as part of the Province’s drive to develop expertise in the decontamination of former asbestos mining areas. This project is part of the 2022-2025 Action Plan – Asbestos and asbestos-containing mining residues in Quebec: towards the transformation of a liability into a sustainable asset. The deadline for submission of proposals is June 15, 2023. See: Appel de projets pour revaloriser les sites miniers d’amiante [Call for projects to rehabilitate asbestos mining sites].
 

Asbestos Anxiety Claims Upheld

Mar 27, 2023

On March 24, 2023, the Bourges Court of Appeal recognized asbestos anxiety claims of eleven former employees from the French commune of Issoudun, in the Centre-Val de Loire. The court awarded the plaintiffs compensation ranging from €6,000 ($6,500) to €9,000 (US$9,700). The claimants had worked at a warehouse operated by the La Halle company; the business is now closed. The Court found that the company had breached its safety obligations. The defence has two months to appeal. See: Amiante: onze ex-salariés de La Halle à Issoudun seront finalement indemnisés [Asbestos: eleven former employees of La Halle in Issoudun will finally be compensated].
 

Asbestos in Philadelphia’s Schools

Mar 27, 2023

According to Philadelphia School District Superintendent T. B. Watlington Sr., more asbestos material will be found in the city’s schools. The presence of asbestos had been known for years, but little had been done to reduce risk to school users. Watlington blamed underfunding and financial and staffing challenges, as well as the fact that the city’s school board is dependent on other entities for its ability to raise funds: “This is a moment that demands sustained investment in our schools and collaboration among district, civic, political and business leaders. It requires all of us to work toward our shared goal of creating and maintaining healthy, safe educational environments for all our students and staff.” See: Investigation underway over asbestos issues as Philly schools superintendent warns more discoveries are likely.
 

Asbestos Management Protocols

Mar 27, 2023

According to the commentary cited below, South Africa’s Department of Employment and Labour remained committed to the complete removal of asbestos in the built environment to safeguard the population from dangerous exposures. Until that has been achieved, the Asbestos Abatement regulations 2020 set out a mandatory protocol to limit asbestos exposures during repair and/or installation work. Building owners must have, readily to hand, asbestos assessments and inventories noting the location and condition of asbestos-containing products on their properties. See: Asbestos installations in South Africa.
 

Huge Fines for Rigging Asbestos Contracts

Mar 24, 2023

It was announced on March 23, 2023, that the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) had found 10 UK suppliers of demolition and asbestos services guilty of “illegally colluding” on bids involving 19 private and public sector projects worth £150 million which were carried out between 2013 and 2018. According to a CMA press release the defendants rigged the bidding process: “colluding on prices through illegal cartel agreements when submitting bids in competitive tenders for contracts.” Fines totalling £59,334,957 were issued. See: Ten construction firms fined total £60m for ‘illegally colluding’ on contract bids.
 

Victims’ Victory in Kyoto

Mar 24, 2023

On March 23, 2023, Presiding Judge Shohei Matsuyama of the Kyoto District Court ordered 16 building material manufacturers to pay compensation to 43 members of a class action lawsuit, including retired or deceased workers who had contracted lung cancer and/or mesothelioma as a consequence of inhaling asbestos at construction sites. According to the Judge: “It was recognized that the danger of asbestos was foreseeable in 1975 at the latest…” Amongst the legal arguments used by manufacturers to contest the claims was the fact that the injured who had smoked were partially responsible for their injuries. See: 石綿、メーカーに賠償命令 京都第2陣、国とは先に和解 [Asbestos Manufacturers Ordered to Compensate Kyoto 2nd Round, Reconciliation with Government First].
 

Protecting EU Workers

Mar 24, 2023

The commentary cited below, which was produced in collaboration with the European Commission (EC), discussed the urgency behind Europe’s drive to introduce stricter workplace protections against asbestos exposure in the context of the drive to meet climate change targets. The EC proposals to substantially reduce occupational asbestos exposure limits mirrors the current regime in France. Interviews with asbestos removal personnel and occupational health specialists informed the article. See: Why must asbestos regulations change to better protect EU workers?
 

Europe’s Rejection of Asbestos

Mar 24, 2023

In a rare divergence from usual practices, a Russian news portal published the translation of a European article detailing efforts by the European Commission (EC) to protect workers from toxic exposures to asbestos. In Russia, the world’s largest producer and exporter of asbestos, a de facto ban exists on the publication of any news which undermines the Russian asbestos sector. The text pointed out that: the EU had banned asbestos use in 2005; 78% of occupational cancers were related to asbestos exposures; 70,000 died in 2019 from asbestos-related diseases; and that the EC intends to reduce the asbestos exposure limit from 0.1 fibers per cubic centimeter (f/cm³) to 0.01. See: Асбесту здесь не место [Asbestos has no place here].
 

Asbestos and Early Retirement

Mar 24, 2023

The article cited below explained the conditions, qualifications and procedures for obtaining early retirement in France due to historic occupational asbestos exposures. Workers with asbestos-related diseases recognized by the health authority, workers who had been employed in a company which had manufactured products containing asbestos and individuals who had been employed in the shipbuilding or ship repair sectors are eligible to apply for retirement at age 50. See: Préretraite amiante : qui peut en bénéficier? [Asbestos early retirement: who can benefit from it?].
 

Asbestos Eradication on Grand Canaries

Mar 24, 2023

Pursuant to European Union objectives to eradicate asbestos from the built environment by 2032, the Government of the Grand Canaries has confirmed its intention to finance an asbestos removal program. According to Eliza Monzón, head of technical services for the authority’s Waste Department: “in the first [asbestos] census of 2018, 200 homes were registered, while in a second census, in 2021, 3,000 did so." To date, 200 tons of asbestos were removed from domestic properties on the island. See: El Cabildo de Gran Canaria financiará la extracción del amianto [The Cabildo de Gran Canaria will finance the removal of asbestos].
 

Asbestos Eradication in Catalonia

Mar 23, 2023

The National Plan for the Eradication of Asbestos in Catalonia, an autonomous community of Spain, was approved by the Generalitat (Government of Catalonia) this week; the European Union 2032 deadline for the completion of the decontamination of the territory was adopted. It has been estimated that there are 4 million tonnes of asbestos-containing material still in Catalonia. The National Plan contains 21 actions, organized into 4 areas. Funds for the work are provided by the Generalitat under annual allocations. Considering that the estimated life of asbestos products is 30 to 50 years, by 2030 more than 85% of this material will have exceeded its useful life. See: Plan para retirar todo el amianto antes de 2032 [Plan to remove all asbestos by 2032].
 

Understanding and Preventing Cancer

Mar 23, 2023

In the Russian language article cited below, which appeared on a Kazakh news portal on March 20, 2023, oncologist Bakytzhan Ongarbaev, of the Kazakh Research Institute of Oncology and Radiology, warned citizens of the dangers posed by environmental factors such as exposures to “asbestos, radiation, chemicals, air and water pollution…” Advice about how to avoid the consequences of obesity, smoking and alcohol consumption was also given. Kazakhstan is one of the world’s largest producers of chrysotile (white) asbestos See: Семь главных факторов риска развития рака назвал казахстанский онколог [Kazakh oncologist names seven main risk factors for cancer development].
 

Asbestos Anxiety Claims

Mar 23, 2023

To our knowledge, the only country which recognizes asbestos anxiety as grounds for a personal injury claim is France. The article cited below is a timely discussion of developments in the French courts and includes a summation of a decision handed down on February 8, 2023 by the country’s Supreme Court (Court of Cassation) regarding claims brought for asbestos anxiety by subcontractors and judicial support for the rights of employees to be compensated in cases where the dignity of labor had been violated. See: Amiante: réparation du préjudice d’anxiété en cas de sous-traitance et atteinte à la dignité des salaries [Asbestos: compensation for anxiety suffered by subcontractors and for violation of the dignity of employees].
 

Precedent Set in Pisa Court

Mar 23, 2023

A verdict handed down by Labor Judge Rossana Ciccone in the Pisa Court was hailed as historic, due to the acknowledgement that the urinary tract cancer which caused the death of a glassmaker referred to by the initials TC, had been caused by workplace exposures to asbestos. The Court ordered the National Institute for Insurance against Accidents at Work (INAIL) – which had initially rejected the family’s claim – to pay compensation of €500,000 ($US540,000). See: L’amianto colpisce le vie urinarie, 500mila euro a un vetraio [Asbestos affects the urinary tract, 500 thousand euros to a glazier].
 

Progress Update on US Ban

Mar 23, 2023

Last week (March 16 & 17, 2023), the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published documents with information about plans to finalize the Agency’s position regarding the legality of the use of chrysotile asbestos and products containing it in the US. Feedback from a public consultation process was mixed with the representatives of the industrial sector arguing for action on an asbestos ban to be phased in and citizens’ groups calling for an immediate end to the use of this class 1 carcinogen. Further comments can be submitted until April 17, 2023. See: EPA Releases Additional Data on Ongoing Uses of Chrysotile Asbestos.
 

Claim for Renfe Worker Won

Mar 23, 2023

On March 20, 2023 the Superior Court of Justice of Cantabria, an autonomous region in Northern Spain, published news of a February 27, 2023 judgment which had recognized that the death of a railway worker was linked to asbestos exposures experienced in the workshops of the Renfe company; Renfe is the national passenger railway company of Spain. A previous court had ruled against the family and this case was the result of an appeal brought by the legal team representing the deceased’s widow. See: Tribunal condena a Renfe a indemnizar a viuda de empleado muerto por amianto [Court orders Renfe to compensate the widow of an employee killed by asbestos].
 

Acknowledgment of Urals’ Asbestos Hazard

Mar 22, 2023

The article cited below was uploaded on March 20, 2023 to a Russian news portal. The text was principally about a high-profile investigation of the activities of the “infamous owner of the no less scandalous FORES Group of Companies, Sergei Shmotiev.” In the article, reporter N. Popova referred to Shmotiev’s commercial interests in the mining town of Asbestos, noting that: “Asbestos is one of the ten most polluted cities in the Russian Federation, along with Chelyabinsk and Nizhny Tagil…Residents of the city without exception suffer from asbestosis (lung damage), as well as cancer.” See: Собрал Шмотьев и ушел [Gathered Shmotiev and left].
 

Rome Court Rejects Company’s Appeal

Mar 22, 2023

The children of Vincenzo Cecchini, who died from lung cancer as a result of occupational asbestos exposures, won their action at the Rome Appeal Court when judges Alberto Celeste, Donatella Casablanca and Olga Pirone rejected an appeal by the deceased’s employer, the transport company Cotral. As a result, compensation of €78,714 (US$84,000) will be paid to sons Claudio and Stefano; the case for Mrs. Cecchini was settled previously. Over decades, Cecchini had worked as a laborer, a line driver, a maintenance man and a heavy goods driver for Cotral. See: Autista Cotral vittima dell’amianto, confermata in Appello la condanna al risarcimento dei figli [Cotral driver victim of asbestos, compensation for children confirmed in appeal].
 

WHO/IARC Mesothelioma Research

Mar 22, 2023

A March 16 press release by the World Health Organization (WHO) / International Agency for Research for Cancer (IARC) announced the discovery of molecular variation in cases of malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM). The findings of IARCS’s Rare Cancers Genomics Team could be used to improve the diagnosis and treatment of this cancer. The factors identified by which to categorize MPM were: “the number of chromosomes in the cancer cells; the morphological appearance of the cancer cells; the patient’s immune-system response to the cancer; and how certain parts of the cancer genes are turned on or off by epigenetic marks.” See: MESOMICS project uncovers molecular variation in mesothelioma, paving the way for improved diagnosis and treatment.
 

Asbestos Legacy in Saskatchewan

Mar 22, 2023

On March 13, 2023, WorkSafe Saskatchewan – “a partnership between the Saskatchewan Workers’ Compensation Board and the Ministry of Labour Relations and Workplace Safety” – released the 2023-2028 Fatalities and Serious Injuries Strategy. According to the report: “Eighty-one per cent of the public was not aware of asbestos risk exposure during home renovation work. Ninety-four per cent of occupational disease fatalities between 2010 and 2021 in the construction industry [in Saskatchewan] were asbestos-related.” See: WorkSafe Saskatchewan Report: 2023-2028 Fatalities and Serious Injuries Strategy.
 

Asbestos Protocols in France

Mar 22, 2023

The article cited below summarized some of the requirements imposed by the French Government on homeowners, to protect residents, workers and tenants from toxic exposures to asbestos. If the presence of asbestos is suspected – and that is highly likely in properties built before 1997 – the property owner must engage a specialist to conduct an asbestos audit before the sale or renting of the building. In addition, asbestos identification work must be carried out before renovation or demolition work can proceed. See: Logement: comment vérifier la présence d'amiante dans une maison [Housing: how to check for asbestos in a house].
 

Tuscany, an Asbestos Hotspot

Mar 22, 2023

Between 1993 and 2018, there were 1,901 cases of mesothelioma diagnosed in Tuscany, according to data released earlier this month. In addition, this Region in central Italy has nearly 60,000 tonnes of asbestos waste deposited in landfills, the second highest amount in the country. Every year, thousands of individuals who suffered historic and/or current asbestos exposures in the construction, energy production, transport, shipbuilding, rolling stock and mining sectors are bringing personal injury lawsuits in Tuscany. See: Amianto: 1901 casi di mesotelioma in Toscana dal 1993 al 2018 [Asbestos: 1901 cases of mesothelioma in Tuscany from 1993 to 2018].
 

Mesothelioma Death of NSW MP

Mar 21, 2023

On March 17, 2023, it was announced that the politician Stephen Bromhead had died aged 66 from mesothelioma, the signature asbestos cancer. Announcing his intention to retire after 12 years of representing the constituency of Myall Lakes, the New South Wales (NSW) Nationals MP said that this decision had been forced upon him after he had learned in August 2022 that he had contracted asbestos cancer: “It is simply the case that I have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, which means I cannot put 100 per cent into the job.” See: New South Wales Nationals MP, former member for Myall Lakes, Stephen Bromhead dies.
 

Accessing EU Asbestos Eradication Funds

Mar 21, 2023

In a press release issued on March 16, 2023 the Committee of the Regions (CdR) asked the European Union (EU) for city councils and regional governments to have direct access to community funds to eradicate asbestos from homes and buildings in Member States. In addition, the CdR recommended the adoption of an integrated and systemic EU strategy for asbestos removal which would cover issues such as “inventory, monitoring, safe disposal, storage, education and training methods.” During the plenary debate, Rapporteur Hanna Zdanowska called: “for increased cooperation at EU level and the need for new grant mechanisms and financial incentives for citizens interested in replacing asbestos roofing.” See: Local leaders urge stricter rules and more funds to deliver an asbestos-free Europe.
 

Rehashing Asbestos Propaganda

Mar 21, 2023

The text cited below brings a new element into reheated asbestos propaganda, claiming that vested interests are exploiting the “environmental agenda” as a means of progressing calls to ban asbestos. According to the author, the use of chrysotile (white) asbestos is “safe” despite bans imposed by many governments including former asbestos producing nations such as Canada and Brazil. These bans, say the text, are ill-informed as chrysotile “helps dynamically developing economies independently solve the complex tasks of building mass housing, developing social infrastructure and stimulating the real estate market.” See: Экологическая "повестка": идея или бизнес? [Ecological agenda: idea or business?].
 

Connecticut Mesothelioma Verdict

Mar 21, 2023

A Connecticut jury this month broke state records for the level of compensatory damages awarded in a mesothelioma case; punitive damages are yet to be determined. Defendants Vanderbilt Minerals and DAP, Inc., manufacturers of asbestos-containing building material used by John Peckham, were ordered to pay his widow and family the sum of $20 million for his 2020 death from the signature asbestos cancer. In the 1960s Peckham used DAP “33” window glazing which contained chrysotile asbestos and asbestos-contaminated talc. Whilst employed at the Stillwater Worsted Mill in East Woodstock, Peckham scraped and removed dried glazing from window frames whilst replacing hundreds of windows. See: Connecticut Jury Awards $20M in Worker’s Death from Asbestos Exposure.
 

Venice Court Verdict

Mar 21, 2023

The Venice Labor Court ordered the Port Authority to pay the daughters of a deceased dock worker €124,000 (US$132,000) for his death which had, the Court ruled, been caused by occupational exposure to asbestos whilst loading and unloading asbestos cargo received at the ports of Marittima and Marghera between the 1950s and mid-1980s. See: Mestre. Morto portuale di tumore: per anni si era occupato di sbarco e imbarco di sacchi di amianto. Risarcite le figlie di 124mila euro [Mestre. Port worker died of cancer: for years he had been involved in the unloading and loading of sacks of asbestos. Compensation of 124 thousand euros for his daughters].
 

Streamlining Asbestos Production

Mar 21, 2023

An asbestos-cement company in the Russian Republic of Bashkortostan announced on March 15 that its factory had been accepted into a nationwide project to increase industrial productivity. According to the article cited below, starting next month (April) experts from the Federal Center of Competence will inspect production lines of asbestos-cement tiles to identify problem areas in order to achieve operational efficiencies. See: Стерлитамакский фиброцементный завод стал участником нацпроекта «Производительность труда» [Sterlitamak fiber cement plant became a participant of the national project “Labor Productivity”].
 

New Funding for Mesothelioma Research

Mar 20, 2023

A donation of over £2 million for mesothelioma research was announced earlier this month by Cancer Research UK. Scientists at the Cancer Research UK Beatson Institute in Glasgow and the Medical Research Council, Cambridge will use this money to study the long latency period of the signature asbestos cancer in an attempt to develop protocols for the prevention and treatment of a cancer which continues to claim thousands of lives in the UK every year. Commenting on this donation, Cancer Research UK spokesperson Dr Iain Foulkes said: “while new treatments that harness the immune system to attack mesothelioma are coming through, the long and painful legacy of asbestos use is still sadly being felt today.” See: £2.1m cash injection to help researchers detect asbestos cancer earlier.
 

Asbestos in Schools

Mar 20, 2023

Having withstood a fierce backlash from adverse publicity over the effects of asbestos contamination of Philadelphia’s public schools and school shutdowns over asbestos discoveries, municipal leaders threatened to withhold further funding until they receive a “detailed plan for rectifying the issue of unsafe and deteriorating school buildings” from the Philadelphia School Board. Calls are being made for state legislators to allocate funds to bring the city’s schools up to standard. So far, in 2023, there have been in excess of 195 asbestos removal projects in Philadelphia schools. See: City officials threaten to withhold school funding amid asbestos issues.
 

Asbestos Eradication in Pristina

Mar 20 2023

Work began this year (2023) in the capital of Kosovo to remove deteriorating and weathered asbestos roofing on public buildings under a program directed by the Directorate of Public Services. Commenting on this initiative, Professor Fatbardh Gashi of the Faculty of Chemistry said: “The project of changing the asbestos roofs which date back from the 60s, 70s, and 80s is welcome because these roofs emit carcinogenic substances on a daily basis and thus endanger our health.” See: Prishtina municipality to remove asbestos hardboard roofs.
 

Asbestos Removal in Málaga’s Schools

Mar 20, 2023

After a high-profile public campaign over asbestos contamination of schools in Andalusia, the authorities announced plans to remove asbestos-containing roofing at three educational facilities in Antequera, Benalmádena and Vélez-Málaga during the school holidays. A sum of €193,000 (US$207,000) was allocated for the removal and replacement of the toxic material. To date, the Regional Government of Andalusia has spent €6.6m (US$7m) on removing asbestos from local schools. See: La Junta adjudica la retirada de amianto en tres centros escolares de la provincia de Málaga [Board approves removal of asbestos in three schools in the province of Malaga].
 

WA Petition for Asbestos Memorial

Mar 20, 2023

An e-petition was launched on March 10, 2023 by residents of Western Australia calling on the Legislative Council of the Parliament of Western Australia to support calls for a permanent memorial in Perth and in the Pilbara “not just for the workers but also for their children, families, visitors, and local Traditional Owners of the land, many of whom have since lost their lives to deadly asbestos diseases.” More than four thousand West Australians have died from asbestos-related diseases. See: Wittenoom Memorial for Australia's worst industrial disaster.
 

Update on EPA Asbestos Ban

Mar 20, 2023

The attempt by The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to ban the use of chrysotile (white) asbestos, the only type of asbestos still in use in the US, continues to be plagued by setbacks not least of which is the determined opposition by vested interests including representatives of the chlorine industry, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the chemical manufacturers’ American Chemistry Council and the oil industry’s American Petroleum Institute. If all the planets align, a proposed rule announced by the EPA on April 5, 2022 to outlaw the use of chrysotile asbestos in the US could become final by late 2023. See: The EPA’s Ongoing Battle to Ban Asbestos.
 

Ombudsman: Asbestos Progress Too Slow!

Mar 17, 2023

On March 13, 2023, during the presentation of the Spanish Ombudsman’s annual report, calls were made for the Governments of Aragon, Cantabria, Castilla-La Mancha, Ceuta, Community of Madrid, La Rioja and the Region of Murcia to implement, as a priority, plans to eradicate asbestos contamination from their jurisdictions. Under a 2022 law, municipalities were given a year to conduct asbestos audits; many have failed to do so in a timely manner which would almost certainly mean that the official deadline would be missed. See: El Defensor del Pueblo pide impulsar el censo de edificios afectados por amianto y acelerar la retirada de este tóxico [The Ombudsman asks [authorities] to promote the census of buildings affected by asbestos and accelerate the removal of this toxic [substance]].
 

Warsaw Funding for Asbestos Program

Mar 17, 2023

At a March 13, 2023 press conference in the Polish town of Przysucha the Minister of Climate Anna Moscow announced the allocation, by the Voivodship Fund for Environmental Protection and Water Management in Warsaw, of PLN8.5 million (US$2m) for asbestos eradication work; local communes can apply for up to PLN35,000 per project to subsidize decontamination work. See: Minister Moskwa: wsparcie dla samorządów Mazowsza m.in. na usuwanie azbestu [Minister Moscow: support for local governments of Mazovia, e.g. for asbestos removal].
 

Govt Benefits for Asbestosis Sufferers

Mar 17, 2023

From April 1, 2023, Vietnamese citizens will be able to access government benefits for an additional 35 occupationally-caused diseases including asbestosis under Circular 02/2023/TT-BYT amending Circular 15/2016/TT-BYT regulating occupational diseases entitled to social insurance. Once employees receive an occupational disease diagnosis the advice is for them to limit toxic exposures and seek treatment, according to Ministry of Health protocols. Under the insurance regime, the injured are entitled to nursing, rehabilitation and a reassessment of their working capacity in light of their condition. See: 35 bệnh nghề nghiệp được hưởng BHXH [35 occupational diseases are entitled to social insurance].
 

Asbestos Prison Sentence

Mar 17, 2023

In a press release issued on March 10, 2023 by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), it was announced that following an HSE investigation and a trial at Manchester Magistrates’ Court the Director – Daniel Luke Cockcroft – of a “supposedly” licensed asbestos removal company – Asbestos Boss Ltd. – and the company itself had been found guilty of breaching British regulations 8(1) and 11(1)(a) of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012. The company never had an asbestos license and took no steps to protects workers or the public from toxic exposures. Cockroft was jailed for six months and ordered to compensate his victims. The company is yet to be sentenced. See: Company and its director prosecuted for unsafe removal of asbestos across Great Britain.
 

Asbestos Eradication Program Subsidies

Mar 17, 2023

On March 13, 2023, the authorities of Korea’s Suwon Special Administrative City announced the availability of funds of up to 2 million won (US$1540) to dismantle and remove asbestos-containing material from day care and senior citizen centers. Facility owners can download an application form from the Suwon Special City website and submit the completed form along with other relevant documents, including a copy of the asbestos investigation report, business registration certificate or corporate registration certificate, to officials at Suwon City Hall. See: 수원특례시, '석면 해체·제거 지원사업' 참여자 모집 [Suwon Special City, Recruitment of Participants in ‘Asbestos Dismantling and Removal Support Project’].
 

Asbestos Scare in Cádiz

Mar 17, 2023

The article cited below documented concerns of people from a densely populated area of Cádiz who reported that unscheduled and improperly conducted asbestos removal work had created a health hazard for residents. Appeals for information to the subcontractors carrying out the work were fruitless as they claimed the complainants were not property owners but only tenants. Requests for action by the City Council had been unproductive. See: Vecinos de Guillén Moreno denuncian que se está retirando el amianto de sus viviendas «de manera irregular» [Neighbors of Guillén Moreno denounce that asbestos is being removed from their homes “irregularly”].
 

Philadelphia High Schools Shut

Mar 15, 2023

Two days after a Philadelphia High School was closed because of asbestos contamination this month (March 2023), another high school in West Oak Lane was closed when asbestos material was found in the auditorium balcony and on two stairwells. A letter sent to parents by the Superintendent of the School District of Philadelphia Tony Watlington admitted that “records indicate asbestos damage has existed in the auditorium since June 2021, and possibly longer.” Plans to relocate the students to an alternative facility failed when only 22 out of 390 pupils showed up for lessons at the new location; the others resorted to virtual schooling. See: Philadelphia students kept in asbestos-ridden school for over two years.
 

Asbestos Audit Regulations

Mar 15, 2023

On November 22, 2022 it became mandatory under the Asbestos Decree [Asbestdecreet], approved by the Flemish Parliament March 29, 2019, to produce an asbestos inventory certificate prior to the sale of any property built before 2001. The certificate can be provided following an on-site inspection by an asbestos expert. The paperwork must be registered with the Public Waste Agency (OVAM). Failure to comply with the regulations will result in the voiding of any property transfer. See: Belgium: As Of 23 November 2022, An Asbestos Certificate Is Mandatory When Transferring Real Estate Constructed Before 2001 In Flanders.
 

Victims’ Call for Justice

Mar 15, 2023

At a hearing at the Paris Criminal Court on March 9, 2023 lawyers for French asbestos victims called for criminal proceedings to be brought over the national asbestos scandal. In March 2022, the National Association of Asbestos Victims filed a direct citation naming former government officials, business leaders and/or doctors – all of whom had worked with or for the Permanent Committee on Asbestos – that had played a pivotal role in blocking plans to implement a French ban on the use of this carcinogenic substance. More than 3,000 people die every year from asbestos-related diseases in France. See: Amiante: une nouvelle impasse pour une procédure pénale? [Asbestos: a new impasse for criminal proceedings?].
 

Monterone Asbestos Scare

Mar 15, 2023

Following a complaint submitted by local people, municipal authorities and the police in the Italian town of Monterone took action on allegations regarding an asbestos pipeline. A representative of the local health authority requested the Mayor issue an order that the property owner submit the suspect pipe for testing in an authorized laboratory. The property owner was given a 60-day deadline to “send an analytical certificate of the content of the artefacts…issued by an accredited laboratory… [and] if asbestos content is found, to send a copy of the control, custody and maintenance program adopted.” See: Allarme amianto a Monterone, arriva l’ordinanza sindacale [Asbestos alarm in Monterone, union ordinance arrives].
 

Calls for Asbestos Action in Andalusia

Mar 15, 2023

On March 11, 2023, the Spanish Socialist Workers' Party (PSOE) presented a motion to the Provincial Council of Málaga calling for asbestos ceilings to be removed from the Province’s schools. The motion was scheduled to be debated during a committee meeting of the Regional Government of the Autonomous Community of Andalusia on Tuesday, March 14, 2023. See: El PSOE insta a la Junta a retirar los techos de amianto de los colegios de la provincia de Málaga [The PSOE urges Board to remove asbestos ceilings from schools in the province of Malaga].
 

Asbestos in Schools

Mar 15, 2023

On March 9, 2023, the teaching of students from Walnut Grove Secondary in British Columbia, Canada was affected after contractors fixing a flood in the drama room discovered the presence of asbestos material. An officer from WorkSafe BC – the Workers' Compensation Board of British Columbia – issued a stop-work order so that air sampling of the affected room and other areas could be undertaken. The 2,000 students and 200 members of staff were sent home out of an abundance of caution until the results of the tests had been obtained. See: Asbestos worries shut down B.C. high school days before March break.
 

The STF and the Environment

Mar 14, 2023

The February 23, 2023 decision by Brazil’s Supreme Court (STF) confirming the country’s ban on asbestos was discussed in the podcast cited below within the context of Brazil’s obligations to progress the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals and 169 interconnected global targets, so that “no one in the world would be left behind” in the struggle to achieve an “ecologically balanced environment, essential to a healthy quality of life…” Other recent decisions by the STF illustrate its commitment to preserve “life, dignity, justice and sustainability, with jurisdictional action…” See: Artigo: A força da manifestação do ministro [Article: The strength of minister's demonstration].
 

Asbestos Exposure in the Air Force

Mar 14, 2023

The Milan Court of Appeal issued a plaintiff’s verdict over the mesothelioma death (2012) of a 67-year old member of the Italian Air Force, ordering the Ministry of Defense to pay compensation of €500,000 (US$527,000) to his widow Graziella. Fabio Fabretti had served in the Air Force from March1965 to April 1966. During his military service, Fabretti was assigned to the operational missile base at Cordovado, where he was involved with the missile program in collaboration with NATO personnel. See: Morte per amianto, la Corte di appello di Milano condanna il ministero della Difesa a risarcire la vedova di un aviere [Death from asbestos, the Milan Court of Appeal orders the Ministry of Defense to compensate the widow of an airman].
 

Asbestos Compensation Tax-Free

Mar 14, 2023

On March 8, 2023, the authorities of the Spanish Province of Gipuzkoa unanimously approved a legislative proposal exempting Basque recipients of asbestos compensation from a proposed national scheme of the obligation to pay personal income tax on the payments. Spanish trade unionists are urging the Madrid Government to follow the Basque example and extend the tax exemption to all those in Spain affected by asbestos exposures. See: Gipuzkoa aprueba la exención fiscal de las indemnizaciones por amianto [Gipuzkoa approves tax exemption for asbestos compensation].
 

Asbestos Bankruptcies under Scrutiny

Mar 14, 2023

After the Philadelphia-based Third Circuit Court of Appeals on January 30, 2023 ruled against the use of the legal stratagem known as the “Texas Two-Step” by Johnson & Johnson (J&J) to offload asbestos liabilities, new challenges are being launched by lawyers working on behalf of asbestos victims whose claims against asbestos defendants had been put on indefinite hold, with the Court’s opinion being cited. Writing the verdict issued by the Court of Appeals, Judge Thomas Ambro noted: “Good intentions – such as to protect the J&J brand or comprehensively resolve litigation – do not suffice alone,” to warrant bankruptcy. See: Asbestos Bankruptcies Facing Fresh Challenges After J&J Ruling.
 

Asbestos and Laryngeal Cancer

Mar 14, 2023

A claim has been won for the family of a worker who died aged 68 in 2019 from laryngeal cancer after having been exposed to asbestos during his two years of employment by the Montecatini Edison company, which had operated the aluminium plant in Fusina, Venice. Laryngeal cancer has been recognized by Italy’s National Institute for Insurance against Accidents at Work (INAIL) as an occupational disease caused by exposures to asbestos. The compensation awarded to the family by the Court was €70,000 (US$74,000). See: Tumore alla laringe, risarcita famiglia di vittima amianto [Laryngeal cancer, asbestos victim's family compensated].
 

Asbestos Eradication: Update

Mar 14, 2023

Asbestos roofing was widely used throughout Croatia before asbestos was banned in 2005. Between 2011 to 2021, the equivalent of six Eiffel towers in weight (68,720 tonnes) of construction waste containing asbestos were removed. Since 2016 – when the Ordinance on construction waste and waste containing asbestos came into force – 21,188 tons of this toxic waste had been buried at certified landfills for hazardous waste, of which there are 18 in Croatia, and 550 tonnes had been exported for disposal. See: U deset godina uklonili azbestni otpad težine šest Eiffelovih [In ten years, asbestos waste weighing six Eiffel Towers has been removed].
 

After the War is Over

Mar 13, 2023

The article cited below explored the environmental catastrophe which will be left once Ukraine has won the war started by its Russian neighbors. In the starkest of terms, the author of the text explained: “The fact is that grenades, mines and other explosive shells destroy buildings, and they, in turn, emit asbestos.” Asbestos contamination is just one of the ecological problems Ukraine will face during its reconstruction; the others include: ground and water contamination with mercury, arsenic, lead and explosives – including TNT (trinitrotoluene). See: Война в Украине приведет к экологической катастрофе [War in Ukraine will lead to ecological catastrophe].
 

Asbestos Hazard Post-Earthquake

Mar 13, 2023

In the wake of the 5.6 earthquake which hit Cianjur, Indonesia on November 21, 2022 causing injuries, deaths and widespread destruction – 53,408 houses and 800+ public buildings, including schools, were damaged – emergency workers were observed handling broken asbestos-containing building material. Campaigners from the Indonesian Ban Asbestos Network and the OSH Network documented the situation and provided targeted training for humanitarian workers to raise awareness of the asbestos hazard and avoid exposures to the deadly fibers whilst responding to the disaster. See: Indonesian earthquake prompts asbestos hazards training.
 

Medical Support for Asbestos-Exposed

Mar 13, 2023

In the absence of Slovenian regulations mandating medical surveillance protocols and support for individuals with a high risk of contracting asbestos-related diseases, the University Clinic for Lung Diseases and Allergies in Golnik – in the city of Kranj in the Upper Carniolan region – opened two outpatient clinics for people at high risk due to historical asbestos exposures; the clinics operate four hours a day, five days a week. The author of the article cited below neglected to mention the medical work which has been ongoing for many years for asbestos patients at the University Medical Center in Ljubljana. See: Азбест може да изазове болест четрдесет година након излагања [Asbestos can cause disease forty years after exposure].
 

Asbestos Claim from Metro Exposure

Mar 13, 2023

On March 3, 2023, a 39-year old worker employed by a subcontractor (ERI) filed an action in the labor court of Créteil, a commune in the southeastern suburbs of Paris, claiming €300,000 (US$315,000) compensation for occupational asbestos exposures over twenty years. The claimant alleged that he had experienced great anxiety as a result of the knowledge of the toxic work conditions he had experienced whilst renovating Paris metro stations; he has been on sick leave from ERI since 2020. See: Amiante: dans le Val-de-Marne, un ouvrier demande 300.000 euros à un sous-traitant de la RATP [Asbestos: in Val-de-Marne, a worker demands 300,000 euros from an RATP subcontractor].
 

Asbestos in Children’s Centers

Mar 13, 2023

A meeting to consider ways to address asbestos contamination of local children’s centers took place on March 7, 2023 in Korea’s National Assembly. Commenting on the event, Lee Hak-young, who co-hosted the meeting, said: “I hope that this meeting will once again awaken awareness of asbestos and contribute to solving the problem of improving the environment of local children's centers where children and adolescents spend a lot of time.” During the session, key stakeholders including government officials, reported the reality of the situation on the ground and made recommendations. See: 지역아동센터 석면진단 의무화 됐지만… [Asbestos diagnosis at local children's centers has become mandatory, but…].
 

Asbestos Criminal Trial: Novara Update

Mar 13, 2023

As the asbestos criminal trial of Swiss billionaire Stephan Schmidheiny, charged with 392 counts of voluntary homicide of Italian citizens, draws to a close, Journalist Rocco Zagaria considered the possibility of the defendant once again escaping punishment, even if he was to be found guilty as charged as he has been in multiple jurisdictions. Trade union leaders interviewed for the article expressed concerns over Schmidheiny’s use of successful strategies to evade jail sentences and financial penalties. See: Amianto: processo Eternit bis alle battute finali [Asbestos: Eternit bis trial in the final stages].
 

Toxic Talc!

Mar 10, 2023

Another US case over exposures to asbestos-containing talc cosmetic products ended with a plaintiff’s victory in a South Carolina court on March 3, 2023. Mesothelioma sufferer Sarah Plant was awarded $29.14 million when the jury ruled on the guilt of talc supplier Whittaker Clark & Daniels. Since the proceedings began other defendants, including cosmetics company Mary Kay and makeup pigment company Color Techniques, had entered into confidential settlements with the plaintiff. See: Jury Awards $29M+ Cosmetic Talc Asbestos Verdict.
 

Asbestos & Lung Cancer

Mar 10, 2023

A Russian language article on a Belarus news portal about the causes of lung cancer highlighted the asbestos health hazard, acknowledging that exposures can cause asbestosis and that “prolonged exposure to asbestos in the workplace is harmful to the respiratory system.” The synergistic effect of smoking and asbestos exposures is discussed with the author pointing out that the lung cancer risk for smokers with occupational asbestos exposures is 59 times higher compared to non-smokers who do not work with asbestos. High-risk individuals are advised to quit smoking. See: Сигареты, вейпы и асбест: что может вызвать рак легких? [Cigarettes, vapes and asbestos: what can cause lung cancer?].
 

Update from Novara

Mar 10, 2023

The article cited below was written by Silvana Mossano, a veteran observer of the criminal trial in the Court of Assizes, Novara against Stephen Schmidheiny. The eight-page text covered proceedings on February 27. Highlighting the unique nature of the asbestos catastrophe which befell Casale Monferrato, Mossano explained the plaintiffs’ arguments, the asbestos contamination both inside and outside the factory, the processes of diagnosing the injured, the causal link between toxic exposures and their cancers, the state-of-the art of asbestos research and the motivation/intent of the accused. See: Legali di parte civile: «Schmidheiny sapeva quello che stava facendo e ha deciso il destino dei casalesi» [Civil action lawyers: “Schmidheiny knew what he was doing and decided the fate of the Casalesi [Casale inhabitants]”].
 

New HSE Asbestos Campaign

Mar 10, 2023

A campaign by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) entitled Asbestos & You was launched on March 7, 2023 to warn younger workers, particularly those in trades such as plastering and joinery, about the occupational hazard posed by asbestos material within the national infrastructure. Five thousand people die every year in the UK from asbestos-related diseases; the sector most affected by asbestos mortality is the construction industry. According to the HSE’s chief executive Sarah Albon: “Asbestos exposure in Great Britain is still the single greatest cause of work-related deaths. We are committed to protecting people in the workplace and reducing future work-related ill health.” See: HSE warns young construction workers about asbestos risk.
 

New Asbestos Insurance Policy

Mar 10, 2023

A March 6, 2023 press release by AIG General, a global insurance organization, announced the introduction of “an industry first Asbestos Dispersion Accident Expense Rider” aimed at small and medium-sized enterprises in Japan which will cover expenses incurred when “asbestos is dispersed outside a construction site due to an unforeseen accident…” The policy will cover the costs for emergency measures to address the contamination as well as outreach work to business premises and homes within 50 meters of the site, including asbestos removal costs. See: AIG Upgrades Commercial General Liability and Business Expense Insurance: Offers industry’s first rider covering asbestos dispersion accidents.
 

Asbestos Eradication on Paros

Mar 10, 2023

A €1,895,000 (US$2m) contract was signed on February 24, 2023 to replace aging asbestos-cement water pipes in the settlement of Agkairia on the Greek island of Paros. The funding for this project was supplied under the 2014-22 Operational Program of the Ministry of Development. A new water supply network will replace the defective asbestos pipelines in the Agkairia area and new pipelines will be added to supply water to areas as yet unconnected. Work on this project will start immediately and is expected to take a year to complete. See: ΔΕΥΑ Πάρου: Παρελθόν για τους ελαττωματικούς αγωγούς από αμίαντο στην Αγκαιριά [DEWA Paros: End of defective asbestos pipelines in Agkairia].
 

Public Protest over Plans for Toxic Waste

Mar 9, 2023

A public demonstration on March 4, 2023 took place in the Italian commune of Pontedera in Tuscany to voice the concerns of local people over the Region’s plans to re-open the Grillaia landfill for the disposal of hazardous waste, including asbestos debris. Grassroots citizens’ groups, environmental campaigners and representatives of political parties took part in the event. Demonstrators called on the Region to withdraw its plans and return the asbestos waste which has been arriving over recent weeks for dumping to its original location. See: Discarica dei veleni, rabbia in Valdera per dire no all’amianto (rissa politica compresa) [Poison dump, anger in Valdera for saying no to asbestos (including political brawl)].
 

Asbestos in Schools

Mar 9, 2023

The discovery of asbestos in a 1915 Philadelphia high school, which was reported on March 4, 2023, led to the student body being relocated the following week to an alternative site: the fourth floor of the Strawberry Mansion High School. The contamination in Building 21 Philadelphia was identified following a routine inspection; following which, the school building was temporarily shut. Commenting on the state of the city’s schools, President of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers Jerry Jordan said: “It is reprehensible that so many of our buildings are over 100 years old and have been neglected because there was not enough money in the budget to maintain them.” See: Philadelphia students move to new high school after asbestos scare.
 

Asbestos Defendants Lose Appeal

Mar 9, 2023

On March 5, 2023, the Third Region of Brazil’s Superior Labor Court reinstated a judgment that ordered Distribuidora Meridional Ltda., from the city of Garanhuns in Pernambuco State, and Eternit S.A. to pay compensation for collective moral damages in the amount of R$100,000 (US$19,250) and R$500,000 (US$96,230), respectively, due to their failures to comply with state law (Law 12.589/2004) that prohibited the manufacture, trade and use of asbestos or asbestos in any activity, especially in civil, public and private construction. See: Distribuidora e Eternit são condenadas por violar lei que proíbe amianto em Pernambuco [Distribuidora and Eternit are condemned for violating the law that prohibits asbestos in Pernambuco].
 

Asbestos at Military Base

Mar 9, 2023

After a media exposé in August 2022 of the presence of asbestos contamination at the Torrejón de Ardoz airbase, the Ministry of Defense (MoD) took steps to quantify the problem by contracting a specialist company, Laboratorio Echavarne, to conduct asbestos air sampling at a cost of €8,373 (US$8,900). Subsequently, a budget of €1,045,407 (US$1.1m) was allocated by the MoD to remove asbestos insulation from hot water pipes at the Torrejón base. See: El Ejército del Aire encarga un análisis de la presencia de amianto en suspensión en la base de Torrejón de Ardoz [The Air Force commissions an analysis of the presence of airborne asbestos at the Torrejón de Ardoz base].
 

Police Asbestos Eradication Order

Mar 9, 2023

During routine asbestos monitoring operations, members of the Municipal Police of Capaccio Paestum, a commune in the province of Salerno in south-western Italy, identified a city center building with damaged asbestos material. To prevent toxic exposures to the public, the owners of the premises were ordered to hire specialist contractors to remediate the property by removing and disposing of the damaged asbestos tiles. See: Amianto in uno stabile nel centro di Capaccio Paestum. Ordinata la bonifica dell’area [Asbestos in a building in the center of Capaccio Paestum. Reclamation of the area ordered].
 

Post-Disaster Asbestos Hazard

Mar 9, 2023

In the aftermath of the earthquakes which occurred in Turkey in February, much has been written about the asbestos hazard during the clean-up operations. The article cited below constituted a primer on the asbestos issue, including information, such as, the types of asbestos, its cancer-causing potential, the extent of its use in Turkish buildings, the types of materials it was used in and the nature of the country’s environmental asbestos hazard. See: Asbest nedir, tehikeli mi? Binalarda asbest nerelerde bulunur, öldürür mü? [What is asbestos, is it dangerous? Where is asbestos found in buildings, does it kill?].
 

Teacher’s Asbestos Death Case Settled

Mar 8, 2023

It was announced last week that Rochdale Council had settled a case brought by the family of Hazel Healey, a teacher who died aged 73 in May 2022 from the asbestos cancer mesothelioma. Mrs Healey believed that she been exposed to asbestos between 1971 and 1980 when she had worked at St Gabriel’s school. The Council initially denied liability but agreed to settle in December 2022 after the claimant’s lawyers unearthed documents showing that the school had contained asbestos. According to solicitor Steve Dickens: “The issue of asbestos in schools has repeatedly been ignored and kicked into the long grass by successive governments. Cases such as this highlight the human cost of the mistakes made decades ago.” See: Family wins settlement in claim over teacher’s asbestos cancer death.
 

Post-Disaster Asbestos Hazard

Mar 8, 2023

According to the U.N. Development Program (UNDP), the powerful earthquakes in Turkey which occurred last month have left behind 116-210 million tonnes of rubble, “equivalent to an area of 100 square km (40 square miles), if it were stacked to a height of 1 metre. That is roughly the size of Barcelona.” The destruction of 156,000 buildings has produced 210 million tons of construction waste, some of which contains deadly substances such as asbestos. A spokeswoman for the UNDP said that: “The scope of the challenge is almost beyond comprehension.” See: Turkey faces challenge ‘beyond comprehension’ to clear earthquake rubble.
 

Mesothelioma Rise in Women

Mar 8, 2023

According to a publication by researchers from the Faculty of Medicine of the Chinese University of Hong Kong and the Association of Pacific Rim Universities which appeared in the Journal of Thoracic Oncology, the incidence of the asbestos cancer mesothelioma is on the increase amongst some female cohorts. The authors reported a positive correlation of mesothelioma rates with per capita gross domestic product, human development index and levels of occupational asbestos exposures. See: 中大:罕見癌症「間皮瘤」與石棉暴露關連大 女性發病率有上升跡象 [CUHK: The Rare Cancer “Mesothelioma” is Linked to Asbestos Exposure, and the Incidence Rate of Females Shows Signs of Rise].
 

Lazio Court Issues Victim’s Verdict

Mar 8, 2023

The Italian Institute for Occupational Accident Insurance, (INAIL) was ordered to pay €200,000 (US$213,400) to the widow of Mario Nicoletti, a worker from the Lazio region of central Italy, who died (2016) from mesothelioma having been occupationally exposed to asbestos at various places of employment, including construction worksites and a hospital. INAIL rejected the initial application for compensation and several other motions regarding this case before the Court of Rieti finally issued a ruling in favor of the victim’s family. See: Operaio morì per un mesotelioma causato da esposizione all’amianto: Inail condannata a risarcire la vedova [Worker died of mesothelioma caused by exposure to asbestos: Inail ordered to compensate the widow].
 

Remediating Toxic Landfill

Mar 8, 2023

Operations by Estonia’s Department of the Environment to decontaminate an illegal landfill in Männiku, a subdistrict of the capital, Tallinn, has begun. The company that operated this facility went bankrupt and, according to Rainer Wakra, director general of the Department of the Environment: “Today we see here a hundred barrels of paint, there are organic solvents and asbestos. These are the wastes that we eliminate first of all so that environmental pollution does not occur.” The cost for the total decontamination of this site has been estimated at 2 million euros. See: Департамент окружающей среды начал вывоз опасных отходов со свалки в Мяннику [The Department of the Environment has started the removal of hazardous waste from the landfill in Männiku].
 

Asbestos Exposure & Lung Cancer

Mar 8, 2023

A health alert was issued in Taiwan about the health consequences of exposures to asbestos and other carcinogens; such exposures can cause lung cancer even in non-smokers. According to the Department of Health, amongst the causes of lung cancer is “industrial and occupational exposure to certain chemicals or building materials (such as asbestos, nickel, uranium, chromium compounds, arsenic, polycyclic hydrocarbons, and chloromethyl ethers)…” See: 肺癌|不吸煙全家4人患肺癌 7因素高危致命 2大家居風險易忽略 [Lung cancer: ... 7 factors are high-risk and fatal, 2 major household risks are easy to ignore].
 

Effect of Sanctions on Asbestos Sector

Mar 7, 2023

An article on the experiences of business leaders in Russia’s Sverdlovsk Region since the Russian invasion of Ukraine reported that the biggest hit had been taken by medium and large-scale businesses, most of which had been reliant on imports of foreign made equipment and parts. Mark Rozin, director of Ural Chrysotile, a company in Yekaterinburg producing chrysotile asbestos textiles and technical products, observed: “Sanctions are only now beginning to bite. The hardest times are just beginning. Now we are waiting for active support measures from the state.” See: «Самые сложные периоды от санкций начнем чувствовать только сейчас». Как уральский бизнес пережил год СВО [“We will only begin to feel the most difficult periods from the sanctions now.” How the Ural business survived the year of the NOW].
 

Asbestos in the Metro

Mar 7, 2023

The article cited below detailed progress of a criminal case being examined by the Paris Court of Justice over allegations of historic asbestos exposures in the Paris Metro. The complainant, who is suffering from “an anxiety-depressive syndrome” due to the knowledge of toxic occupational exposures, was quoted extensively in the article, detailing the multiple times over a 20-year period when he had drilled and removed asbestos material without any protective clothing or equipment. In addition to the criminal case, the complainant has petitioned the Créteil industrial tribunal for the judicial termination of his contract and compensation for his condition. See: Une juge enquête sur l'exposition d'un ouvrier à l'amiante dans le métro parisien [A judge investigates the exposure of a worker to asbestos in the Paris metro].
 

Trust Me, I’m a Doctor!

Mar 7, 2023

In the aftermath of a February 23, 2023 Supreme Court (STF) ruling which banned asbestos in Brazil, the Governor of the country’s only asbestos-producing state once again repeated asbestos industry propaganda, asserting that asbestos mining was safe and that he should know as he’s a medical doctor. On February 28, the Governor of Goiás Ronaldo Caiado made these comments at a mining seminar at the Pedro Ludovico Teixeira Palace in Goiânia, the state capital city. In 2019, Caiado signed a law authorizing asbestos mining to continue despite the 2017 STF asbestos prohibitions. See: Caiado diz que, como médico, afirma que extração de amianto em Minaçu não traz risco à saúde [Caiado says that, as a doctor, he claims that asbestos extraction in Minaçu does not pose a risk to health].
 

Research Update

Mar 7 2023

A seminar held in the Italian town of Monfalcone last week heard updates from Italian asbestos cancer researchers. “We have not yet finished paying for this tragedy,” said Mayor Annamaria Cisint “but we look to the future by aiming to totally dispose of asbestos thanks to the resources that the Region and the Municipality provide.” Leading medical experts presented data on the specifics of ongoing research projects regarding a variety of cancers linked to asbestos exposures including mesothelioma, laryngeal and ovarian cancer. See: A Monfalcone fatti passi avanti contro l'amianto, «oggi si vive di più» [In Monfalcone progress has been made against asbestos, “today we live longer”].
 

Asbestos in Schools

Mar 7, 2023

In a press release by Ecologists in Action Jerez, the association expressed serious concerns about the safety of work being carried out to remove asbestos from schools in the Spanish city of Jerez: “the people who are removing the beams throw the fiber cement sheets from the roofs, violently fragmenting [them] against the ground and generating dust with a high asbestos content… it is incomprehensible that no one has taken measures to prevent this from happening, since this situation must be known to both the police and technicians from the Urban Planning or Sustainability Delegations.” See: Ecologistas en Acción Jerez insta al Ayuntamiento a que retire el amianto del antiguo edificio de Cartonajes Tempul [Ecologists in Action Jerez urges the City Council to remove asbestos from old Tempul Cartonajes building].
 

Asbestos Warning Downplayed

Mar 7, 2023

A March 1, 2023 interview with Russian oncologist Maxim Astrakhantsev highlighted the health hazard posed to Russians of exposure to asbestos and other carcinogens. However, in the interview report much effort was expended in trying to dilute the specialist’s warning by claiming that whilst amphibole types of asbestos were dangerous, chrysotile asbestos was readily expelled from the lungs and could be used safely under controlled conditions: “Pure chrysotile fiber does not reach the consumer ... [in products] it is in a bound form, which excludes the possibility of accidentally inhaling it. However, if you are going to saw or drill slate, you should take precautions.” See: Онколог Астраханцев и рак легкого: вредное производство и курение [Oncologist Astrakhantsev and lung cancer: harmful production and smoking].
 

Asbestos Epidemic on the Horizon?

Mar 6, 2023

According to the Spanish Society of Pneumology and Thoracic Surgery, there have been more than 80,000 Spanish deaths due to asbestos exposures, with another 50,000 expected by 2050. Regional and provincial data on asbestos mortality is incomplete. Only two cases of asbestos-related diseases have been reported in the Spanish Province of Segovia where an asbestos-cement factory owned by the Uralita company was operational for decades. Unions estimate that toxic workplace exposures could have caused 160 asbestos cancer deaths amongst the 800 strong workforce. See: Sanidad vigila a unos 230 empleados de Segovia por el amianto [Health monitors some 230 Segovia employees for asbestos].
 

Asbestos Eradication Plan

Mar 6, 2023

According to a February 27, 2023 press release from the Jeonbuk Office of Education, the municipality has approved a budget of 17.5 billion won (US$13.3m) to remove 82,000 square meters of asbestos material from schools in 2023. If this year's goal is achieved, only 55,000 square meters (1.1% of the total floor area) of asbestos material will remain schools. The deadline for eradicating this hazard in Jeonbuk is 2024, three years ahead of the deadline set by the Ministry of Education. See: 전북학교 석면 시설물 내년에 전부 없어진다 [All asbestos facilities in Jeonbuk schools will be removed next year].
 

Wave of Non-Occupational Mesothelioma

Mar 6, 2023

In a speech to the Western Australia (WA) Legislative Council on Feb 22, 2023, South Metropolitan MP Kate Doust read out a letter by 60-year old Kat Drage who contracted mesothelioma from exposure to asbestos during home renovation work. She has now run out of treatment options and has weeks to live. Citing anecdotal evidence of an increase in the number of cases of WA women contracting mesothelioma through non-occupational exposures, she said it was unforgivable that the rich state of WA had cut funding into research to find new treatment protocols and possible cures for this deadly disease. She called on WA politicians to remedy this and to make generous budget provisions for WA researchers. See: Parliament of Western Australia Legislative Council Live Broadcast Google Chrome 2023 02 22 20.
 

Asbestos Hazard after Earthquakes

Mar 6, 2023

A timely article analyzed under ten sections the post-earthquake asbestos hazard in the Turkish regions affected by the disaster, highlighting the widespread use of asbestos-containing material in the country prior to the national ban introduced in 2010. According to the Turkey Asbestos Deposits Map, the areas affected by the earthquake were in the region with the highest rate of environmental asbestos contamination and where asbestos-containing soil was traditionally used in rural homes. Advice was given about how first responders, clean-up crews and the public could be protected from deadly exposures. See: 10 soruda deprem sonrası enkaz çalışmaları ve asbest [Post-earthquake debris studies and asbestos in 10 questions].
 

Asbestos and Ice Hockey

Mar 6, 2023

The Quebec City of Rimouski has announced plans to close the Sun Life Coliseum after asbestos fibers were detected in the air of the amphitheater. Until the decontamination work has been completed, the building will remain closed. As a consequence, practice sessions and games by the junior ice hockey team – the Rimouski Océanic – will be moved to an alternative location. Quebec was, until just a few years ago, one of the world’s biggest producers of chrysotile (white) asbestos; provincial authorities played a leading role in the global fight to protect asbestos markets at all costs. See: Une contamination à l’amiante force la fermeture du Colisée de Rimouski [Asbestos contamination forces the closure of the Colisée de Rimouski].
 

Galicia’s Fatal Asbestos Legacy

Mar 6, 2023

As in other countries, different regions of Spain have different rates of asbestos cancer. Due to the presence of the naval shipyards, Galicia – an autonomous community in Spain’s northwest – is amongst those with the highest incidence of asbestos mortality. The city of Ferrol accounts for half of the asbestos cases in Galicia. Campaigners from the Galician Association of Asbestos Victims are calling for improved compensation for victims, more information and a nation-wide asbestos eradication plan to remove the hazard from the national infrastructure. See: Amianto, el veneno de la codicia [Asbestos, the poison of greed].
 

Asbestos ban now “Irrevocable”!

Mar 3, 2023

The February 25, 2023 press release cited below was from a Brazilian law firm which has represented asbestos victims for 18 years. Commenting on the Supreme Court’s (STF) February 23, 2023 decision upholding a 2017 STF verdict banning asbestos, lawyer Gustavo Ramos said: “Most Supreme Court Justices understood that the previous decision prohibiting the production, sale and use of chrysotile asbestos, used mainly for the manufacture of tiles and water tanks, is valid. The Supreme Court had accepted that the article of the federal law that allowed the use of chrysotile asbestos in civil construction was unconstitutional.” See: Supremo consolida banimento do amianto no Brasil [Supreme consolidates asbestos ban in Brazil].
 

Colon Cancer and asbestos Exposure

Mar 3, 2023

On February 22, 2023, Judge Alfonsina Manfredini of the Court of Lucca, Italy issued a historic ruling, finding that the death from colon cancer of a retired 72-year old pipe welder had been caused by workplace exposures to asbestos. The Judge ordered Inail – Italy’s Institute for Insurance against Accidents at Work – to recognize the disease as occupationally caused, backdate the compensation payments to 2018 (when the case was filed), and pay interest and all the claimant’s legal costs. See: Tumore al colon dopo anni di esposizione all’amianto per lavoro: il tribunale condanna Inail a indennizzare l’operaio [Colon cancer after years of exposure to asbestos at work: the court orders Inail to compensate worker].
 

Asbestos Eradication Program

Mar 3, 2023

On February 26, 2023, the authorities of Yeongcheon, a South Korean city in North Gyeongsang Province, announced that in the interests of public health it would be subsidizing the removal costs of asbestos roofing for property owners. Applications must be submitted before the end of March with 10 million won ($US7,600) per property available for a total of 200 houses and 34 other buildings. See: 영천시, 주택 지붕 등 슬레이트 철거비 지원...3월 말까지 접수 [Yeongcheon City, support for slate demolition costs such as roofs of houses...Available until the end of March].
 

São Paulo Lawsuit

Mar 3, 2023

The Instituto Bioma Brasil (IBB), a Brazilian NGO, has launched a lawsuit in the Federal Court of Pernambuco against the Navy, the Brazilian Institute of Environment and Renewable Natural Resources (IBAMA) and the companies responsible for allowing the São Paulo aircraft carrier to be buried off the Brazilian coast. The IBB is demanding at least R$ 105.5 million (US$20m) in compensation for environmental damage and collective moral damages. When the ship was deliberately sunk it contained tonnes of asbestos. PCBs, heavy metals and other toxic material. See: See: ONG pede na Justiça reparação por navio afundando em costa brasileira com amianto [NGO seeks compensation in court for sinking of ship containing asbestos off Brazilian coast].
 

Post-Earthquake Asbestos Hazard

Mar 3, 2023

The lack of certified asbestos disposal sites in the 11 provinces hit by the recent Turkish earthquakes was highlighted in the article cited below. Thousands of buildings, many of which contained asbestos, were destroyed by the quake, creating millions of tonnes of toxic debris. According to expert Kenan Yıldız, the deadly waste: “should be sent to disposal facilities with licensed vehicles in impermeable packaging and buried. When working with asbestos, CAT3 TYPE 5-6 overalls, FFP3 masks and gloves should be used.” See: Deprem bölgesinde asbest bertaraf tesisi yok [No asbestos disposal facility in the earthquake area].
 

Asbestos in Paradise?!?

Mar 3, 2023

The fire which tore through the Greek island of Evia in August 2021 destroyed 512,000 hectares of forest and fertile agricultural land. The clean-up of the toxic waste left by the burning of asbestos-containing buildings has been delayed due to what one commentator called “the merry-go-round of blame;” the multiple bureaucratic obstacles created by officials in the Thessaly administrative region and their counterparts in the Environment Ministry continue to frustrate the efforts of residents and local politicians. Eighteen months after the fire, asbestos cement slabs have still not been collected. See: Υγειονομική «βόμβα» ο καμένος αμίαντος στη βόρεια Εύβοια [Burnt asbestos in northern Evia is a health “bomb”].
 

Osasco’s New Asbestos Memorial

Mar 1, 2023

A four minute video which shows in fast motion the construction of a memorial to asbestos victims in Osasco, the former heartland of asbestos-cement production in Brazil, was uploaded to YouTube on February 28,2023 by Brazil’s Association of the Asbestos-Exposed (ABREA). The accompanying text explained that: “Work is like a tree, which shelters in its shade and feeds with its fruits. It is the symbol that represents the support of life. Each day, however, they were slowly being poisoned.” See: Memorial das Vi´timas do Amianto || A Construção de Um Sonho [Asbestos Victims Memorial || Building a Dream].
 

Celebrating Historic Victory!

Feb 28, 2023

The interview with ban asbestos campaigner Engineer Fernanda Giannasi in the article cited below considered the implications of a February 23, 2023 Supreme Court ruling. Giannasi concluded her comments saying: “What makes this victory even more valuable for us are: 1) prohibition decided by the Federal Supreme Court, our Constitutional Court, something that has never happened in the world…. 2) asbestos mining was not bankrupt, as occurred in other countries; on the contrary, it was still ‘alive’, active, [and] powerful...” See: Fundadora da ABREA, Fernanda Giannasi comemora decisão do STF de proibir o amianto no Brasil [Founder of ABREA, Fernanda Giannasi celebrates the Supreme Court's decision to ban asbestos in Brazil].
 

Asbestos Controversy in Vietnam

Feb 28, 2023

A comprehensive article by Prof. Dr. Le Van Trinh, Chairman of the Vietnam Association of Science and Technology for Occupational Safety and Health and former member of the Presidium of the Vietnam General Confederation of Labor, on a news portal explained the hazard posed by human exposures to asbestos. The wide range of topics discussed included: the properties and uses of asbestos; the hazards of asbestos exposures; the types of diseases caused by toxic exposures; the presence of asbestos in talc-based baby powder; types of litigation arising due to asbestos exposures and the nature and extent of Vietnam’s asbestos sector. See: Amiang, những bệnh do amiang gây ra và tình hình sử dụng ở Việt Nam hiện nay [Asbestos, diseases caused by asbestos and current use in Vietnam].
 

Asbestos and Urban Renewal

Feb 28, 2023

As part of urban development, work on demolishing the Avogadro Tower in Nîmes, France began on September 22, 2022; operations were recently stopped due to the discovery of asbestos in the exterior seals of the building. A pre-work asbestos audit had not identified the toxic material. Whilst the original budget for the demolition work was €1.06 million (US$1.1m), with the delays and costs, the new budget is €3.68 m. See: NÎMES Rénovation urbaine: suspension de la démolition de la tour Avogadro [NÎMES Urban renewal: suspension of the demolition of the Avogadro tower].
 

Naval Asbestos Claim at Supreme Court

Feb 28, 2023

Spain’s Supreme Court has ordered the Ministry of Defence to pay compensation to the family of a second lieutenant in the Navy who died from asbestosis contracted as a result of workplace exposures during 45 years of military service. The sailor lodged his claim for €300,000 (US$316,130) on July 31, 2014, saying that he had been incapacitated due to conditions he experienced in the Navy. The claimant died in May 2020. His heirs appealed to the Supreme Court which finally awarded them the sum of €75,000 (US$79,000). See: El Supremo ordena triplicar la indemnización a un suboficial de la Armada que sufrió fibrosis por navegar en buques con amianto [The Supreme Court orders compensation to be tripled to a Navy non-commissioned officer who suffered fibrosis for sailing on ships with asbestos].
 

Asbestos Eradication in Schools

Feb 28, 2023

On February 23, 2023, it was announced that the Department of Education of the Korean municipality of Guri Namyangju, had allocated 10.8 billion won (US8.2m) for 2023-2027 to remove asbestos from all the public schools in the Guri and Namyangju region by 2027. To protect students and teachers, the asbestos eradication work will be carried out during the winter school holidays. Off the 171 schools in Guri and Namyangju, 91 still contain asbestos material; 46 buildings have already been decontaminated. See: 구리남양주교육청, 2027년까지 108억 들여 석면 제거 [Guri Namyangju Office of Education, 10.8 billion won to remove asbestos by 2027].
 

Raising Asbestos Awareness

Feb 27, 2023

On February 23, 2023, a well-attended workshop, Protecting Public Health and Creating a Safe Living Environment, was held in Bac Kan City, Vietnam. The event was organized by the Women's Union of Bac Kan Province in collaboration with APHEDA – Australia’s Union Aid Abroad – and the Vietnam Association for Occupational Safety and Health. In Bac Kan Province asbestos-cement roofing is ubiquitous and almost 90% of new roofing is made with asbestos. According to speakers at this meeting, this material poses a health risk to the workers who install it as well as to the people who live under it. See: Hội thảo: "Bảo vệ sức khỏe cộng đồng và môi trường sống an toàn [Workshop: “Protecting public health and safe living environment”].
 

Toxic Talc & Ovarian Cancer

Feb 27, 2023

Fifty-eight year old Montreal resident Manon Lavigne believes that she contracted ovarian cancer from her regular use of asbestos-contaminated Johnson & Johnson (J&J) talc-based baby powder. Urging other women to get themselves checked, Lavigne said: “Millions of people used baby powder for years and years… I'm sure people don't know about it.” J&J class actions in both the US and Canada have been reinvigorated by a recent ruling by a U.S. federal appeals court in Philadelphia which rejected the use of the Texas two-step to offload J&J’s asbestos liabilities. See: She blames her cancer on baby powder. Now she's suing and urges other women to 'get checked'.
 

Paying the Price for Toxic Talc

Feb 27, 2023

In a February 21, 2023 press release, US Congressman Steve Cohen announced that he had written to the US Comptroller General Gene L. Dodaro of the Government Accountability Office to ask for a review of the federal government’s costs associated with treating patients who had become ill after using asbestos-contaminated Johnson & Johnson (J&J) baby powder: “Through our funding for health care, the federal government subsidized J&J by paying for the consequences of their misconduct…Since the 1970s, J&J has known its iconic baby powder contained asbestos.” See: Congressman Cohen Seeks GAO Review of Costs of Treating Patients Harmed by Johnson & Johnson Baby Powder.
 

Exposure due to Climate Change, Covid

Feb 27, 2023

Professor Sonja Klebe of the Royal College of Pathologists of Australasia has raised the alert about the cumulative effect of Covid-19, flooding and bushfires in Australia on increasing asbestos exposures: “The Australian Mesothelioma Register shows that an increasing number of exposures are now linked to home building work, which increased significantly during the COVID-19 pandemic… During the bushfires, fire fighters had to go into burnt buildings, many of which were old farm buildings containing asbestos… The same goes for the recent flooding; there would have been asbestos floating around in the debris.” See: Fears Australia's recent fires, floods and COVID-19 outbreak could lead to increased risk of asbestos exposure.
 

Asbestos Working Group

Feb 27, 2023

The first meeting of the French National Assembly’s Asbestos Study Group will take place on March 7, 2023. The Chair of this group is Didier Le Gac, the deputy representing the constituency of Finistère (Brest rural). Le Gac has a knowledge of the asbestos dossier due to the high incidence of asbestos-related disease amongst constituents who had been employed in naval activities and at the port of Brest. The study group will bring together MEPs from all parties to monitor the issue. See: Le député Didier Le Gac présidera le groupe d’études «amiante» à l’Assemblée nationale [Deputy Didier Le Gac will chair the “asbestos” study group at the National Assembly].
 

Madrid’s Asbestos Legacy

Feb 27, 2023

Decades of asbestos use in the Spanish capital has left a long legacy of contamination. The article cited below discussed problems posed by asbestos material in Madrid’s Metro system, schools, hospitals, health centers, residential neighborhoods and industrial sites. A national law requiring that municipalities produce an asbestos census of the built environment will facilitate the national eradication of the contamination. According to the article’s author, the asbestos census: “represents a definitive tool for technical departments in charge of managing different processes. In addition to reinforcing efficiency, the objective is simplified thanks to the proper use of resources.” See: Los peligros del amianto en Madrid [The dangers of asbestos in Madrid].
 

Asbestos Health Alert!

Feb 24, 2023

Whilst the Government of Russia, industry stakeholders and “scientists” employed by them continue to deny that exposure to chrysotile (white) asbestos causes cancer – Russia is the world’s leading producer of chrysotile – a spokeswoman for the Museum of Geosciences in Moscow is in no doubt about the human health hazard, stating in the article cited below that: “It [chrysotile] is considered carcinogenic to humans due to the fact that penetrating into the lungs during inhalation, it causes microtrauma…” See: Гранит науки. Репортаж из Музея землеведения [Granite Science. Report from the Museum of Geosciences].
 

Rise in Asbestos Exports

Feb 24, 2023

New transport systems in China are being used to increase asbestos exports to Southeast Asia, Central Asia, and South Asia from Qinghai, a landlocked province in the northwest of China, according to a February 20th news report from the Qinghai Provincial Department of Commerce. In 2022, there were 111 international freight trains from Qinghai, more than ten times the number in 2021. Amongst the cargo on the trains were shipments of asbestos, soda ash, polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and other goods. See: 青海:“青字号”产品借RCEP享优惠税率“出国” [Qinghai: “Qingzihao” products enjoy preferential tax rates “going abroad” through RCEP].
 

Asbestos in the Army

Feb 24, 2023

A verdict handed down by the Court of Rome ordered the Ministry of Defence to pay €600,000 (US$640,000) to the widow and children of Lieutenant Leopoldo Di Vico who died in 2015 aged 58 from asbestos cancer. The deceased had served as a mechanic in the armoured division of the Italian Army. During his military career he had been exposed to a cocktail of toxins including asbestos, depleted uranium and heavy metals. See: Amianto killer: il Tribunale di Roma condanna La Difesa a risarcire con 600 mila euro la famiglia di Leopoldo Di Vico [Killer asbestos: the Court of Rome orders [Ministry of] Defence to compensate Leopoldo Di Vico's family with 600 thousand euros].
 

Mesothelioma in Greece

Feb 24, 2023

The Greek language article cited below about mesothelioma – the signature cancer associated with asbestos exposure – was highly significant considering that Greece had formerly been one of Europe’s producers of asbestos fiber. The text explained the causation, types and symptoms of mesothelioma, highlighting the ongoing risk to people with occupational, domestic, family and/or environmental asbestos exposures. See: Μεσοθηλίωμα: Με ποια σημάδια εκδηλώνεται και από τι προκαλείται [Mesothelioma: What are the signs and what causes it?].
 

Asbestos in Telecom Headquarters

Feb 24, 2023

Asbestos removal work began in January 2023 at the Central Telecommunication Building in Prague. The work is under constant surveillance by industrial hygienists. Their latest report, dated February 6, documented concentrations of respirable asbestos and mineral fibers at the site and in surrounding areas. Reporting satisfactory results, the report noted that: “the technical and technological equipment, including pre-positioned filters in the filtration and extraction units, is sufficiently effective.” See: Bourání Telecomu na Žižkově: Budovy obsahují rakovinotvorný azbest. Demolici kontrolují hygienici [Demolition of Telecom in Žižkov: The buildings contain cancer-causing asbestos. Hygienists are checking the demolition].
 

Post-Disaster Asbestos Hazard

Feb 24, 2023

In the aftermath of the February 2023 earthquakes and aftershocks which hit Turkey, health experts have reconfirmed the hazard posed during clean-up operations posed by the historic use of asbestos in building material. The medical experts warned that: “Asbestos-contaminated areas should be identified, the use of asbestos-containing soil by the public should be prevented, and the towns under serious threat should be relocated if necessary.” Amongst the recommendations made was the continued monitoring of people most at-risk of contracting asbestos-related diseases. See: Asbest nedir? Asbestin sağlığa zararları nelerdir? [What is asbestos? What are the health hazards of asbestos?].
 

Ongoing Fight to Ban Asbestos

Feb 22, 2023

Efforts under the Biden Administration to protect Americans from toxic exposures to asbestos have hit the buffers, according to the article cited below from the Washington Post. Legal questions, political in-fighting and bureaucratic delays are hampering efforts by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to outlaw the use of chrysolite (white) asbestos. The EPA is facing stiff opposition from vested interests including the US Chamber of Commerce, the chemical manufacturers’ American Chemistry Council and the oil industry’s American Petroleum Institute. See: EPA struggles to ban asbestos, other chemicals years after Congress granted new powers.
 

Eradicating a Toxic Legacy

Feb 22, 2023

Even as South Africa enacted laws to protect the population from asbestos exposures, the built environment remained contaminated. A project in Limpopo Province aims to remove asbestos roofing on 5,000 domestic properties. The commentary cited below included the asbestos legacy as an example of the crimes committed by the apartheid government: “When this government took over in 1994, it had the unenviable duty to undo decades of unrelenting, malicious, systematic, institutionalised, state-funded, organised and manifested hatred against a people… What should be brought to light, however, is that it has had to maintain governance, while travelling back in time to undo decades of apartheid crime…” See: OPINION. Undoing the legacy of apartheid, one asbestos roof at a time.
 

Asbestos at the University

Feb 22, 2023

Residents of the Spanish island of Gran Canaria were shocked when they were informed of the presence of asbestos on the premises of the University College of Las Palmas (CULP) after having been told in 2022 that the site was asbestos-free. Acting on this discovery, the Ministry of Health of the Government of the Canary Islands instructed officials at the CULP that it must hire a specialized asbestos company to quantify and eradicate the contamination. Planned development work at the site has been put on hold pending the decontamination work. See: Sanidad encuentra amianto en el CULP tras asegurar en 2022 que no se había detectado ese material [Health finds asbestos in the CULP after assurances in 2022 that this material had not been detected].
 

Asbestos Eradication: Update

Feb 22, 2023

Accepting that the cost for the removal of asbestos from domestic properties is beyond the reach of many households, the South Korean Government has, since 2011, been progressing an asbestos eradication program to protect public health. A scheme operated under the Ministry of the Environment allocated 3.52 million won (US$2,700) per building for asbestos decontamination; local governments provided additional sums for demolition and other work. New figures released by the authorities in Jeonbuk Province stated that as of 2021 there were still 85,000+ buildings with asbestos; at the current rate, the decontamination program in Jeonbuk will not be completed until 2038. See: 석면철거 마무리 계획 앞당겨야 [Asbestos removal plan to be completed].
 

Asbestos Everywhere!

Feb 22, 2023

A series of articles appeared on February 20 in the regional media about the extensive asbestos contamination of the UK’s built environment. New information in these articles was obtained via a Freedom of Information request by the Irwin Mitchell Law Firm. Speaking about the firm’s findings, Solicitor Adrian Budgen said: “One of the main problem areas is revealed to be schools, which are obviously densely populated with pupils, teachers and other school workers for long hours at a time. It’s extremely worrying that so many still contain asbestos, essentially putting children at risk every day… once it’s disturbed or in a state of disrepair it can quickly become very dangerous… it’s a huge concern.” See: Over 150 Glasgow nursery, primary and secondary school buildings contain asbestos.
 

Asbestos Fly-Tipping

Feb 22, 2023

The Council of Alzira, a city of 45,000 people in Valencia, Spain, is fighting a continuous battle over the illegal dumping of asbestos waste, having recently removed 519 tonnes of toxic debris at taxpayers’ expense. According to a municipal spokesperson: “the most worrying thing about this situation is that more and more asbestos has been detected in landfills lately, it must be remembered that it is a carcinogenic material as scientific studies have shown.” See: Alzira alerta del incremento de residuos con amianto, material cancerígeno, en vertederos incontrolados en el término municipal [Alzira warns of the increase in waste containing asbestos, a carcinogenic material, in uncontrolled landfills in the municipal area].
 

Supreme Court Asbestos Litigation

Feb 20, 2023

A decision by the Brazilian Supreme Court (STF) expected on February 16, 2023 regarding the continued mining of asbestos in Minaçu, in contravention of the 2017 STF ban on asbestos production, processing and use, was postponed until February 23. The memorandum cited below expressed the support of the Attorney General's Office (PGR) and the Attorney General for Labor (PGT), representing respectively Federal and Labor Prosecutors, for court action upholding the ban, stating that “there are no reasons of legal certainty or exceptional social interest that override the rights to health and an ecologically balanced environment…” See: PGR e PGT reforçam necessidade de banimento do amianto crisotila no Brasil [PGR and PGT reinforce the need to ban chrysotile asbestos in Brazil].
 

Bestbell Bankruptcy: A Fraud?

Feb 20, 2023

On February 17, 2023, cancer patient Wilson Buckingham petitioned a bankruptcy court in the Western District of North Carolina to dismiss a proposal to allow Bestbell, a subsidiary of US asbestos defendant Georgia-Pacific, to enter into a state of bankruptcy. Like thousands of other cancer victims, the lawsuit brought by mesothelioma sufferer Wilson Buckingham was put on hold pending the outcome of Bestbell’s bankruptcy proceedings. Buckingham’s lawyers said that the bankruptcy served “no purpose other than to prevent asbestos-related lawsuits from proceeding…” See: Cancer patient asks court to end Georgia-Pacific asbestos bankruptcy.
 

Asbestos Health Alert

Feb 20, 2023

Although Vietnam had a policy calling for the removal of asbestos since 2014, no effective measures have been taken to achieve this objective. The fact that Vietnam imported 65,000 tons of asbestos every year exacerbated the population’s health burden due to the carcinogenic properties of asbestos. In addition to the hazards posed by new asbestos products being incorporated within the national infrastructure are the dangers posed by deteriorating asbestos material within the built and natural environment. Despite the ubiquity of these toxic products, there is a very low level of public awareness about the health hazards of human exposures to asbestos at work or at home. See: Hậu quả của việc tiếp xúc với amiăng không kém gì dioxin [The consequences of exposure to asbestos are no less than for dioxin].
 

Asbestos Fund Delayed

Feb 20, 2023

Legislation needed to ensure the effective establishment of a Spanish Asbestos Victims’ Compensation Fund (the Fund) remains pending four months after the Government approved a law to create the Fund after sustained campaigning by asbestos victims’ groups and trade unions. The Fund, which will be managed by the National Institute of Social Security, should have been operational as of January 19, 2023. According to a spokesperson for the Ministry of Inclusion, the need for regulatory modifications had delayed plans for the creation of the Fund. See: El fondo del amianto sigue pendiente del reglamento para compensar a victimas [The asbestos fund is still pending the regulation to compensate victims].
 

Billionaire Jail Sentence!

Feb 20, 2023

On February 16, 2023, the Turin Court of Appeal upheld the sentence handed down to Swiss billionaire Stephan Schmidheiny who was convicted of the aggravated manslaughter in 2008 of a worker from his company’s Piedmont asbestos-cement factory. Schmidheiny’s lawyers said they would appeal. Schmidheiny has been tried in multiple Italian courts over asbestos deaths of thousands of workers and members of the public. Proceedings which began on June 9, 2021 will, it’s believed, soon be ended in a case at the Novara Court of Assizes where Schmidheiny was charged with the deaths of 392 people. See: Amianto e cancro, confermata la condanna all'imprenditore svizzero [Asbestos and cancer, the sentence of the Swiss entrepreneur confirmed].
 

Earthquake Clean-up Planning

Feb 20, 2023

A blog by Greenpeace Turkey highlighted the difficulties faced by people and institutions in areas affected by the earthquakes, categorized as a “multidimensional catastrophe,” earlier this month. The Greenpeace text warned of the dangers of ill-planned clean-up activities and the inclination of authorities already under pressure to take short-cuts such as the illegal dumping of toxic waste. Regulations “to minimize the [amount of] demolition wastes by separating them at the source … [and to prevent dumping] the resulting debris into seas, lakes, streams,” must be followed to prevent further harm to the population and/or environment. See: Enkazdan Başka Felaketler Çıkmasın [No More Disasters from the Wreck].
 

Asbestos Alert!

Feb 17, 2023

An online article uploaded on February 15 to a Vietnamese news portal warned citizens of the multiple dangers posed by occupational asbestos exposures, pointing out that amongst those most at-risk were: welders, mechanics, bricklayers, welders, shipbuilders, carpenters, masons. plumbers, painters, demolition workers, drywallers, electricians, floor layers, furnace operators, enamellers, blacksmiths, insulators, glassmakers and maintenance workers. Citizens were advised that “reducing asbestos exposure is the best prevention.” See: Tìm hiểu về bệnh bụi phổi amiăng và cách phòng tránh [Learn about asbestosis and how to prevent it].
 

National Asbestos Observatory

Feb 17, 2023

The National Asbestos Observatory being set up by the Government of Quebec in the former asbestos mining town of Thetford Mines is tasked with researching issues related to “asbestos and the management of asbestos-containing mine tailings.” The institution is being created on the site of the Cégep de Thetford, a college of general and vocational education, as part of the Province’s 2022-2025 action plan “Asbestos and asbestos-containing mining residues in Quebec: towards the transformation of a liability into a sustainable asset.” See: Observatoire national de l’amiante : concertation et développement d’un savoir-faire au cœur de sa mission [National Asbestos Observatory: consultation and development of know-how at the heart of its mission].
 

Asbestos Injustice: Official Policy

Feb 17, 2023

A commentary uploaded last week by Architect and Professor Joaquin Ortega Herrera, which reviewed Spain’s tragic asbestos, quoted the Ministry of Health’s findings that the asbestos injuries of up to 99% of Spaniards went unrecognized by the Ministry of Social Security. This oversight was not due, he said, to bad luck but to the use of “administrative and legal means to prevent workers or their successors from obtaining their rights.” Despite the Government’s agreement to establish a national asbestos victims’ compensation fund, no recent news about this scheme had been released. See: OPINIÓN: Como ya es sabido el amianto es un canceri´geno de primer grado… [OPINION: As is well known, asbestos is a first degree carcinogen…].
 

Asbestos in Schools

Feb 17, 2023

A call for action by seven trade unions warned of the dilapidation of England’s educational estate as a result of the Government’s austerity policy. Children and staff are at risk of toxic exposures in ageing schools, most of which contain asbestos. In its response to the unions’ letter, the Department of Education acknowledged: “there is a risk of collapse of one or more blocks in some schools which are at, or approaching, the end of their designed life expectancy...” According to Paul Whiteman, general secretary of the NAHT, the school leaders’ union: “This is a disaster waiting to happen, which in the worst-case scenario could end up costing lives unless the government wakes up and acts.” See: Unions call for urgent action on England’s ‘dangerous’ school buildings.
 

Europe Asbestos Debate

Feb 17, 2023

On February 14, protecting citizens from asbestos was one of the three main subjects on the agenda of a meeting of the Commission for the Environment, Climate Change and Energy of the European Committee of the Regions (CoR). According to an online report: Hanna Zdanowska, the Mayor of Lódz, Poland, presented the main points of her draft opinion: “Amending the Directive on Asbestos,” which is to be tabled at the CoR plenary session on March 15-16. “Asbestos,” she wrote “is a highly dangerous, cancer-causing substance that is still present in many buildings and is responsible for many avoidable deaths in the EU.” See: Tackling pollution and the energy crisis amongst EU local leaders 2023 key priorities.
 

Supporting Asbestos Victims

Feb 17, 2023

The UGT, Spain’s General Union of Workers, welcomed the introduction of a national asbestos compensation scheme 20 years after asbestos was banned in Spain. Under a medical surveillance operation run by the Ministry of Health, the condition of 4,737 people in the autonomous community of Castile and León who received occupational asbestos exposures is being monitored. The legacy of decades of asbestos use remains a potent threat to the population and the union called on the Government to prioritize measures for the eradication of asbestos from the country’s infrastructure. See: La epidemia silenciosa del amianto tiene bajo control sanitario a 900 trabajadores [The silent asbestos epidemic has 900 workers under medical surveillance].
 

Asbestos Alert over Toxic Thermoses

Feb 16, 2023

A health alert was issued in Vietnam about the dangers posed by asbestos fibers contained in the linings of thermos flasks exported from China. As a result of research undertaken at the Institute of Research & Quality Control in Jiangsu Province, China, the Chinese government had previously warned consumers that the Chinese thermos flasks contained asbestos. Thermos use is quite high in Vietnam and good quality thermoses tend to be more expensive than Chinese exports. See: Mối nguy hại khôn lường từ bình giữ nhiệt có chứa amiăng của Trung Quốc [The incalculable danger from China's asbestos-containing thermos].
 

Post-Disaster Asbestos Hazard

Feb 16, 2023

As with other man-made or environmental disasters, Cyclone Gabrielle – which struck New Zealand in February 2023 – created a multitude of challenges. Specialists warned homeowners and community leaders about the hazard posed by asbestos in the debris left by the storm; any structure built before 2000 in New Zealand could contain asbestos materials. New Zealanders were advised not to “to remove or dispose of this [material] without professional advice… high winds, flooding, and other severe weather events can cause asbestos to erode and end up a health risk quickly…” See: Cyclone Gabrielle - Asbestos Warning.
 

Post-Brexit Asbestos Fears!

Feb 16, 2023

A press release issued on February 13, 2023 by the British Occupational Hygiene Society (BOHS) confirmed what many campaigners had feared: the Conservative Government’s plans to demolish asbestos protections enshrined in EU law in the post-Brexit bonfire of legislation. According to expert Jonathan Grant: “It is almost unbelievable that the Asbestos Regulations, which are essential to save lives, could be listed for potential repeal. We urgently need confirmation by the government that our health and safety is not going to be diluted.” The BOHS fears that the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012, which provide the framework for the management of asbestos, could be amongst the laws on the Tory hit list. See: UK Asbestos Regulations effective, but listed for abolition by government at the end of the year.
 

Update: J&J Talc Litigation

Feb 16, 2023

Following an Appeals Court rejection of bankruptcy plans by Johnson & Johnson (J&J) to offload its asbestos liabilities, US District Judge Michael Shipp has been appointed to take over toxic talc litigation against J&J; Chief District Judge Freda Wolfson, who had formerly supervised these proceedings, retired on February 1. Thirty-eight thousand cases brought over alleged asbestos contamination of J&J’s talc-based baby powder had been on hold since October 2021, due to bankruptcy filings which have now been disallowed. See: Thousands of J&J talc lawsuits in New Jersey get new judge.
 

Victims’ Appeal to the Supreme Court

Feb 16, 2023

On February 13, ANDEVA – the French Association for the Defence of Asbestos Victims – announced that it would appeal to the Supreme Court (Court of Cassation) the February 8th decision by the Paris Court of Appeal dismissing criminal charges against former executives of Eternit, the country’s largest asbestos conglomerate. “It is not possible,” said ANDEVA “that in a democratic state like France, a health disaster which was avoidable has not led to a criminal trial to judge the people who bear the responsibility [for this disaster].” See: Amiante: une association de victimes se pourvoit en Cassation après un non-lieu [Asbestos: an association of victims appeals to the Cassation after a dismissal].
 

Environmental Racism & Asbestos

Feb 16, 2023

A timely editorial in O Globo – a daily Brazilian newspaper considered to be right-wing and conservative – was published on February 13 by Fernando Gabeira, a politician and veteran campaigner on environmental issues. Having discussed the sinking by the Brazilian Navy of its former flagship, an international toxic hot potato contaminated with tonnes of asbestos, PCBs etc., Gabeira pointed out that a unilateral Supreme Court decision by Minister Alexandre de Moraes had allowed asbestos mining to continue in contravention of a 2017 Supreme Court verdict. Like the sinking of the São Paulo, this wrote Gabeira, was yet another example of environmental racism, sending to other countries a substance too dangerous to use in Brazil. See: O naufrágio da sensatez [The shipwreck of wisdom].
 

Asbestos in Schools

Feb 14, 2023

In a press conference at Incheon City Hall, the Incheon Environmental Movement Federation and campaigners from the National School Asbestos Parents Network, the Korea Asbestos Eradication Network, and the Environmental Health Citizens’ Center warned the city and the Office of Education about the dangers of asbestos removal in schools. Speakers at the event highlighted faulty regulation of the asbestos hazard during asbestos removal work at two schools during the winter school vacation. See: "인천 학교 석면 철거 엉터리... 민·관 감시단 구성해야” [“Incheon school asbestos removal is a sham... A private and public monitoring group needs to be formed”].
 

No Remedy for Toxic Legacy

Feb 14, 2023

The deadly asbestos legacy plaguing the UK was well documented in interviews with sufferers of asbestos-related cancers including nurse Helen Bone and shipyard worker Ron Snaith, who detailed the daily reality of life as mesothelioma patients in an excellent new article on the Al Jazeera website. According to consultant nurse and CEO of Mesothelioma UK Liz Darlison, the UK has: “such poor guidelines compared to our European neighbours, who have been far more proactive on prevention. The government has been non-committal on a timetable [for removal].” See: A long and lethal legacy: In the shadow of asbestos in the UK.
 

Plumber’s Victory over City Hall

Feb 14, 2023

On February 2, 2023, it was announced that Segovia City Council had allocated €143,000 (US$152,850) to pay its share of an out-of-court agreement with a plumber who had worked for the Council between 1973 and 1983. As a result of occupational asbestos exposures experienced, the Spanish worker had experienced health problems. A Council spokesperson was adamant that this was a one-off: “all the safety protocols for handling asbestos have been in place in all the works that the City Council executes,” he told journalists. See: Ayuntamiento de Segovia indemniza a un fontanero por la exposición a amianto [Segovia City Council compensates a plumber for exposure to asbestos].
 

Vital Research Update

Feb 14, 2023

New data revealed by Brazilian researchers confirmed the existence of a national asbestos epidemic, with thousands of deaths from asbestos-related diseases occurring between 1996 and 2017. The statistics were amassed after consulting a variety of records and institutions, including the Health Information System, the Hospital Information System of the Unified Health System, the Hospital Admission Communication Archive, the Inca Hospital Cancer Registry of the National Cancer Institute and the Notifiable Diseases Information System. Experts are urging the Supreme Court to consider these facts when considering litigation about banning asbestos in Brazil. See: Exposição ao amianto mata 145 pessoas por ano no Brasil, revela pesquisa [Exposure to asbestos kills 145 people a year in Brazil, reveals research].
 

No Eternit Criminal Trial!

Feb 14, 2023

On February 8, 2023, the investigating chamber of the Paris Court of Appeal confirmed an order issued in July 2019 by investigating magistrates from the public health department of the Paris court that dismissed the criminal case against Eternit, formerly France’s largest asbestos conglomerate. Amongst the reasons the court gave for this decision was the fact that Eternit had complied with legislation in force at the time the alleged criminal actions had taken place. Representatives of asbestos victims’ groups said they would appeal this decision to the Supreme Court (Court of Cassation). See: Amiante: le non-lieu dans le dossier Eternit confirmé, les victimes forment un pourvoi [Asbestos: the dismissal in the Eternit case confirmed, the victims appeal].
 

Asbestos Incident under Investigation

Feb 14, 2023

Seprona, the unit of the Spanish Civil Guard responsible for preserving nature, the environment and water resources, is investigating the use of soil mixed with asbestos in the construction of a roundabout in Santa Brígida, Gran Canaria. According to local sources, there is no legal dump for asbestos waste on the island; many companies fly-tip the toxic waste in ravines and off cliffs to avoid the expense of sending it to a legal site on the mainland. See: El Seprona investiga el uso de escombros mezclado con amianto en una obra en Santa Brígida [Seprona investigates the use of rubble mixed with asbestos at a worksite in Santa Brígida].
 

Asbestos Trial: Update

Feb 13, 2023

A significant landmark was reached last week in the trial against Swiss asbestos entrepreneur Stephan Schmidheiny who is charged with voluntary homicide over the deaths of hundreds of asbestos factory workers and members of the public. At to the end of the presentation of evidence by both parties, the public prosecutor asked the Court of Assizes to hand down a life sentence. Closing statements by both parties are pending. The final verdict is not expected for some months. See: Eternit Bis, chiesto l’ergastolo per l’imprenditore svizzero Stephan Schmidheiny [Eternit Bis, life sentence requested for the Swiss entrepreneur Stephan Schmidheiny].
 

New Wave of Litigation

Feb 13, 2023

Whilst asbestos-injured construction workers in Japan can access government benefits for injuries they sustained from workplace asbestos exposures, ailing shipyard workers cannot. Eleven people are progressing lawsuits at the Osaka and Sapporo district courts, claiming that toxic occupational exposures to asbestos between 1953 and 2003 caused them to contract lung cancer or mesothelioma. According to one of the claimants’ lawyers: “The shipbuilding industry has been left out of the compensation framework. We have no choice but to file individual lawsuits.” See: 造船業の石綿被害、元労働者が国を提訴へ「救済から取り残さないで」 [Asbestos damage in the shipbuilding industry, former workers to sue the government “Don't be left out of relief'”].
 

Supreme Court’s Victims’ Verdict

Feb 13, 2023

On February 8, 2023, the French Supreme Court issued a judgment confirming the rights of asbestos victims to obtain damages from former employers for harm sustained at their workplaces. Anxiety claims were, the Court found, valid when an employer breached safety obligations by using a toxic, albeit legal, product without implementing effective safety precautions. Claims for compensation for moral damages were valid when illegal substances, such as asbestos, were used by an employer in breach of national prohibitions. See: Usage illégal de l’amiante et atteinte à la dignité des salaries [Illegal use of asbestos and attack on the dignity of employees].
 

Rubber Workers’ Victory in Talc Litigation

Feb 13, 2023

For decades. personal injury claims for asbestos-injured workers against their former employer B.F. Goodrich Co. and its suppliers were lost as a result of a catalogue of lies. A $60 million settlement has been reached for 3,800 Akron, Ohio rubber workers and their heirs with Eastern Magnesia Talc, the biggest supplier of talc or soapstone to US rubber companies from the 1950s to the early 1980s. Claimants will receive between $4,000 and $300,000. According to plaintiffs’ lawyer Tom Bevan: “What we’re doing now is correcting an injustice that occurred as many as 30 years ago…Unfortunately, these people haven’t survived to see the money, but it should go to their children or heirs.” See: ‘Correcting an injustice’: How one company's lies killed thousands of Akron rubber workers
 

A Toxic Legacy, A Potent Threat

Feb 13, 2023

Although Italy banned the mining, processing and use of asbestos in 1992, the legacy left from production at its asbestos mines of 3.8 million tonnes of fiber during the 20th century continues to pose a health threat to citizens. The Ministry of the Environment has identified 11 superfund sites contaminated with asbestos; throughout the national infrastructure asbestos material has been identified at 107,000+ sites. Work to develop and implement measures to remediate contamination in the built and natural environments is being carried out by the National Institute for Insurance against Accidents at Work (INAIL) in collaboration with government, technical and academic partners. See: Siti Contaminati da Amianto [Sites contaminated by Asbestos].
 

Sinking of the São Paulo under Investigation

Feb 13, 2023

An investigation by the Brazilian Institute for the Environment and Renewable Natural Resources over the sinking of the São Paulo off the coast of Brazil on February 3 has begun. On the ship were tonnes of asbestos, PCBs, metals and other toxic substances. In a statement by the Ministry of Defense, the Attorney General's Office and the Brazilian Navy, the authorities defended their actions stating that: “[our] analyses considered aspects related to navigation safety and the environment, with special attention to the mitigation of impacts on public health, fishing activities and ecosystems.” See: Porta-aviões com toneladas de amianto e traços de radiação é afundado na costa brasileira [Aircraft carrier with tons of asbestos and traces of radiation is sunk off the Brazilian coast].
 

A Date with History: February 16

Feb 8, 2023

On February 16, 2023, Brazil’s Supreme Court (STF) is scheduled to issue its long-awaited decision in a case over whether the continued production, processing and export of chrysotile (white) asbestos – in contravention of an STF 2017 ruling –were unconstitutional. In previous cases, the STF had ruled that state asbestos bans were constitutional and that the national asbestos policy allowing asbestos use was unconstitutional, in line with damning evidence from the National Cancer Institute about the carcinogenicity of asbestos and the difficulty of preventing deadly workplace exposures. See: Artigo: O STF e a ferida aberta do amianto [Article: The STF and the asbestos open wound].
 

European Workers Being Failed

Feb 8, 2023

In a February 6 press release by the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC), plans by the European Parliament to lower the asbestos exposure limit to 0.01 fibres/cm³ were condemned as “too little, too late.” Calling for a more stringent limit (0.001), the ETUC also said that the five-year time period for the implementation of the new protocol was far too long in light of the fact that 90,000 Europeans were dying from asbestos-related diseases every year. Commenting on the deficiencies in Parliament’s asbestos policy, the ETUC’s Deputy General Secretary Claes-Mikael Stahl said: “It would be particularly irresponsible of EU policymakers to set an unsafe exposure limit after introducing a policy in the Renovation Wave which will see many more workers exposed to asbestos.” See: Asbestos protections too little, too late.
 

Increase in Asbestos Removal Subsidies

Feb 8, 2023

From February 6, 2023, the budget allocated by South Korea’s Ministry of Environment to cover the costs of the demolition of asbestos roofing will be almost doubled to 7 million dong (US $5,550) per household. The expansion of funds is intended to speed up the eradication of the asbestos hazard from the built environment in line with the country’s deadline of 2033 for the removal of all asbestos roofing throughout South Korea. Key aspects of the Government’s detailed and timetabled road map for the elimination of asbestos have been allocated to multiple government departments and agencies. See: ‘석면 슬레이트 지붕’ 철거비 지원규모 2배로 확대 ['Asbestos slate roof' demolition cost support doubled].
 

Quantifying the Military’s Asbestos Legacy

Feb 8, 2023

According to information published by the Europe National Press, Spain’s Ministry of Defense (MoD) has recognized as occupationally-caused 77 deaths caused by asbestos-related diseases amongst former service personnel. Although asbestos use was banned in Spain in 2002, asbestos material remains in military hardware and installations, including several bases which were the subject of recent exposés. A spokesperson for the MoD said that it was conducting “constant surveillance of the working conditions of its personnel.” See: Defensa ha reconocido 77 muertes en acto de servicio por exposición a amianto [Defense has recognized 77 deaths in the line of duty due to exposure to asbestos].
 

Towards an Asbestos-Free Europe!

Feb 8, 2023

A European Commission communication on how to achieve an asbestos-free future acknowledged the potentially horrific impact the continent’s asbestos legacy could have on the population should effective steps not be taken to prevent toxic exposures, especially in light of the expected increase in renovation works. Two hundred and twenty million housing units were erected prior to the EU banning asbestos; construction workers are amongst the cohorts worst affected by asbestos-related diseases. The communication included a raft of proposals to: support the injured, protect workers, ensure the safe removal and disposal of asbestos material, and reenforce member states’ efforts to eradicate the hazard. See: Asbestos: a serious renovation headache for the European Union.
 

Asbestos in Schools

Feb. 8, 2023

A January 30 press release by the Incheon Federation for Environmental Movement (IFEM) condemned simultaneous removal of asbestos from schools during the winter vacation saying: “Due to the nature of the risk of exposure to group 1 carcinogens… partial removal should be avoided as much as possible...The Incheon Metropolitan Office of Education should more thoroughly inspect schools undergoing asbestos removal work.” Due to failures to appropriately monitor the removal work, the IFEM plans to set up a monitoring group to inspect schools where asbestos removal is currently in progress. See: 인천 학교 32개 석면철거 대상...“부분 철거 위험 노출 키워[32 schools in Incheon subject to asbestos removal...“Increased exposure to partial demolition risks”].
 

Addressing a Toxic Legacy

Feb 6, 2023

Accepting that it is not possible to completely control toxic exposures to asbestos at work and at home, the Government of Vietnam took steps to protect the population by banning the use of amphiboles (1998) and making plans to end the use of chrysotile (white) asbestos in building products. In 2020, Vietnam’s Ministry of Health identified 210 cases of mesothelioma; many cases went undetected and experts believe that that there could be 11,500 cases of mesothelioma by 2030, if action is not taken. See: Thông tin về Amiang và bệnh ung thư [Information about Asbestos and Cancer].
 

Judge Rules on the Sinking of the São Paulo

Feb 6, 2023

It was reported on February 2, 2023, that an attempt to obtain an injunction from the Federal Court of Pernambuco to prevent the Brazilian Navy from sinking the former aircraft carrier the São Paulo in the Atlantic Ocean had failed. Although Federal Judge Ubiratan de Couto Maurício of the 9th Pernambuco Court agreed that the sinking would cause environmental damage, he said that the extent of the damage was not known. He ordered that the vessel be sunk 350 km off the Brazilian coast, at a depth of approximately 5,000 meters and outside of Environmental Protection Areas where there were no documented submarine cables. See: Marinha confirma plano de afundar navio feito de amianto [Navy confirms plan to sink ship containing asbestos].
 

Hypocrites and Liars!

Feb 6, 2023

The author of the article referenced below which was uploaded to a Russian website could not resist the temptation to exploit news about the sinking by the Brazilian Navy of its asbestos-laden flagship to bolster the image of home-grown chrysotile asbestos, remarking that: “According to scientists, amphibole has a very harmful effect, unlike chrysotile asbestos.” Before Western sanctions were imposed in retaliation for Russia’s attack on Ukraine, Russia had been the world’s largest producer and supplier of chrysotile asbestos. See: Бразилия потопила свой последний авианосец: чем это грозит экологии [Brazil sank its last aircraft carrier: how does this threaten the environment].
 

Supreme Court Victory

Feb. 6, 2023

The Labor Section of Italy’s Supreme Court (Court of Cassation) issued a victims’ verdict allowing 11 asbestos claimants to submit applications for early retirement and/or government benefits even though they had missed government deadlines. The plaintiffs had worked for 10 to 20 years in a shipyard where they had been routinely exposed to asbestos. Two lower courts had rejected the arguments advanced by the victims’ legal team. The case will now be returned to Rome’s Court of Appeal for further consideration. See: La Cassazione apre nuovi scenari per la maggiorazione per amianto della pensione [The Cassation opens up new scenarios for increased pension for asbestos [exposure]].
 

Wittenoom Remembered

Feb 6, 2023

The review cited below is of a play premiered in Melbourne, entitled Wittenoom, by Mary Anne Butler about a mother and daughter who lived in the notorious Australian mining town of Wittenoom in the 1940s. Highlighted were the excellent performances, strength of the writing and positive contribution of the sound design, with the author concluding that “the story of Wittenoom is a stark reminder of the deceptive and immoral practices large corporations maintain in the name of profit…The show draws themes of grief, memory and injustice together in an undeniably moving way. It is a powerful and compelling requiem for the people whose lives have been destroyed.” See: More than 2,000 people from Wittenoom died of asbestos-related diseases. A powerful and compelling requiem brings their story to the stage.
 

Asbestos Fly-tipping in Catalonia

Feb 6, 2023

Following the discovery of two tonnes of asbestos-containing construction debris illegally dumped near a wind farm in Tarragona, a port city in Spain’s Catalonia region, members of the Civil Guard opened an investigation to identify the perpetrators. The Civil Guard notified the Waste Agency of Catalonia to arrange the removal of the toxic waste and informed the Tortosa Court of the facts pending the commencement of legal action. See: Descubierto un vertedero ilegal de dos toneladas de uralita con amianto en El Perelló [An illegal dump of two tons of asbestos-containing uralite discovered in El Perelló].
 

Legal Battle over São Paulo Rages On

Feb 2, 2023

After the Brazilian Navy announced plans to sink the toxic hot potato which is the São Paulo – the retired aircraft carrier and Brazil’s former flagship – the Federal Public Ministry (MPF) filed a public civil action before the 2nd Federal Court of Pernambuco seeking an injunction to stop the ship being scuttled. The MPF told the court that the sinking of the São Paulo which was scheduled for February 1 could cause “irreparable damage to the marine environment, the public health of the population and irreversible health consequences.” See: MPF pede à Justiça que proíba Marinha de afundar porta-aviões aposentado impedido de atracar no Brasil [MPF asks Justices to prohibit Navy from sinking retired aircraft carrier prevented from docking in Brazil].
 

Toxic Talc Battle

Feb 2, 2023

On January 30, 2023, a three-judge panel of the US Court of Appeals 3rd Circuit rejected Johnson & Johnson’s (J&J) latest attempt to off-load tens of thousands of asbestos cases by filing a contentious bankruptcy. In its 56-page verdict, the judges wrote: “LTL (the subsidiary into which the asbestos claims were dumped), at the time of its (bankruptcy) filing, was highly solvent with access to cash to meet comfortably its liabilities.” The personal injury claims were made by people who alleged that the cancers they contracted had been caused by use of J&J’s asbestos-contaminated talc-based baby powder. See: U.S. court rejects J&J bankruptcy strategy for thousands of talc lawsuits.
 

Shipbreaking Audit 2022

Feb 2, 2023

Data published on February 1, 2023 by the NGO Shipbreaking Platform detailed figures for the scrapping of ocean-going commercial ships and offshore units in 2022. Of the 443 vessels scrapped, 292 were dismantled on dirty and dangerous tidal beaches in Bangladesh, India and Pakistan. The worst dumper country of the year was China followed by Brazil, whose state-owned oil company Petrobras sent four of its old tankers and two of its floating platforms for dismantling on South Asian beaches in 2022, reaching a total of 34 vessels in the last decade. See: Press Release – Platform publishes list of ships dismantled worldwide in 2022.
 

Navy’s São Paulo Solution

Jan 31, 2023

Despite protests by the Brazilian Minister of the Environment Marina Silva, the Navy announced plans to sink the hull of the São Paulo in the sea off the Brazilian coast. The vessel became something of an international toxic hot potato after the Turkish Government rescinded permission for it to be scrapped in a Turkish shipyard because of concerns over the presence of asbestos and other toxic materials. Since the ship was returned to Brazil, provincial and government authorities have refused permission for it to dock. In its day, the São Paulo was Brazil largest warship with capacity for 40 aircraft. See: Marinha quer afundar casco de porta-aviões barrado pela Turquia [Navy plans to sink hull of aircraft carrier barred by Turkey].
 

Asbestos Sector Flourishing

Jan 31, 2023

The “article” cited below reads like a press release from the Kostanay Minerals JSC, Kazakhstan’s sole asbestos producer. Amongst the facts reported were: total output from the company was 17.5 million tonnes (t) of white asbestos; annual production was 250,000t; 95% of all products were sent to Uzbekistan, India, Tajikistan, Sri Lanka, China, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Vietnam, Thailand and Kyrgyzstan. The imposition by Western countries of sanctions on Russian trade, led Kostanay to replace Russian ports with ports in Georgia and Lithuania. The fact that asbestos causes cancer was not mentioned. See: Костанайские карьеры: как добывают асбест на одном из крупнейших месторождений в мире [Kostanay quarries: mining one of the largest deposits of asbestos in the world].
 

Asbestos Eradication Program

Jan 31, 2023

On January 28, 2023, the South Korean Province of Jeonbuk-do announced plans to address asbestos contamination in 90 daycare centers. The twenty-seven buildings worst affected – which have recorded high levels of airborne asbestos fibers – will be demolished this year. By the end of 2024, asbestos will be eradicated from the remaining properties. According to a provincial official: “We started the project to prevent exposure of sensitive infants and toddlers to harmful substances.” See: 전북도, 올해 어린이집 27개소 석면 자재 철거 지원 [Jeonbuk-do supports removal of asbestos materials from 27 daycare centers this year].
 

Asbestos Eradication Program: Update

Jan 31, 2023

Delays were announced in the start of a massive asbestos eradication program scheduled for the Badia del Vallès housing project in Barcelona. According to a spokesperson for the local government, no specialist contractor had been found who was capable of undertaking all the tasks involved to remove and/or encapsulate toxic products in the 5,372 apartments and infrastructure. A sum of €4.5 million (US$4.9m) had been allocated to pay for the decontamination. See: La retirada de amianto en Badia del Vallès vuelve a retrasarse hasta 2024 [The removal of asbestos in Badia del Vallès is delayed again until 2024].
 

Asbestos in Schools

Jan 31, 2023

Four out of five schools in England and Wales contain asbestos; as a result, the number of teaching staff dying from workplace asbestos exposures continues to rise. Statistics revealed in the article cited below were obtained by Freedom of Information requests to the Department for Education. Even though the Government continued to prevaricate over the asbestos scandal, a Department for Education spokesperson asserted that: “We take the safety of children and those who work with them incredibly seriously – which is why we expect all local authorities, governing bodies and academy trusts to have robust plans in place to manage asbestos in school buildings effectively, in line with their legal duties.” See: The Silent Killer in Schools. Government Under Fire for Failing to Act on Lethal Asbestos.
 

Senator Supports Toxic Industry

Jan 31, 2023

Brazilian Senator Vanderlan Cardoso, whose constituency included Brazil’s sole remaining asbestos mining conglomerate, welcomed a new Supreme Court action which allowed mining to continue despite previous judicial verdicts that had banned the commercialization of asbestos nationwide. According to him: “the [asbestos] ban was a wrong decision that needed to be reversed to guarantee the jobs of the mining company's workers.” See: “Lutei por isso desde que cheguei ao Senado”, disse Vanderlan sobre a liberação da produção de amianto em Minaçu [“I have fought for this since I arrived in the Senate,” said Vanderlan about the sanctioning of asbestos production in Minaçu].
 

Appeal to President Lula!

Jan 27, 2023

Recapping the São Paulo aircraft carrier fiasco, the editorial cited below quoted a manifesto by Brazilian groups & partners which said the situation was “a cursed legacy of the Bolsonaro government.” Fears that the ship, now in the Navy’s possession, would be sunk impelled the authors to warn this would be “an environmental disaster with political repercussions and immense environmental damage due to the existence of carcinogenic asbestos, possible radioactive sources, arsenic, PCBs, heavy metals, among other harmful agents …” See: Porta-aviões brasileiro com amianto à deriva no oceano Atlântico: Mais uma herança maldita do governo Bolsonaro [Brazilian aircraft carrier with asbestos adrift in the Atlantic Ocean: Another cursed legacy of the Bolsonaro government].
 

Supreme Court Ruling for Victim

Jan 27, 2023

On January 25, 2023, it was announced that Italy’s Supreme Court had passed a historic sentence that confirmed the liability of the multinational Solvay Chemicals as per a verdict by the Florence Court of Appeal. It is the first judgment against Solvay; a worker, who contracted pleural plaques and pleural thickening from asbestos exposures at the company’s Rosignano plant, will receive ~€3,000 (US$3,260). Commenting on the case, one expert said: “This sentence is historic because Solvay has not only always denied the use of asbestos… but has continued to deny the rights of those exposed who have contracted asbestos-related diseases.” See: Danni da amianto, “sentenza storica” Cassazione condanna Solvay [Damages from asbestos “historic sentence” from Court of Cassation condemns Solvay].
 

Unwelcome Surprise from STF

Jan 27, 2023

On January 23, 2023, it was announced that Justice Alexandre de Moraes of Brazil’s Supreme Court (STF) had suspended a judgment by the Superior Court of Justice, which had ordered that production at the SAMA asbestos mine be suspended; as a result of this ruling, asbestos mining will remain legal for the time being. In 2017, the STF had issued a verdict prohibiting the extraction, production, sale and use of asbestos in Brazil. Asbestos stakeholders appealed the decision, with the asbestos mining state of Goiás passing a law overruling the STF. See: Minaçu: STF autoriza a retomada da exploração de amianto no município [Minaçu: STF authorizes the resumption of asbestos exploitation in the municipality].
 

Insurers Accused of Delaying Tactics

Jan 27, 2023

The Zurich American Insurance Company has been accused of needlessly dragging out the judicial process in order to force asbestos plaintiff Ralph Hutt to settle his claim. Some weeks ago, mesothelioma sufferer Hutt was awarded $36.5 million by a Montana jury which had accepted his claim against Zurich, the current owner of the Maryland Casualty Company. The insurer had, the jury found, failed to protect miners from hazardous exposures at the vermiculite mine in Libby, Montana. According to Hutt’s lawsuit against Zurich: “It is profitable for Zurich to breach its claim settlement duties and thereby increase the time over which it can generate income on money owed…” See: Lawsuit claims insurance company deliberately stalling in Libby asbestos cases.
 

Asbestos Legacy: The Facts

Jan 27, 2023

A commentary by Professor Antonio Alarcó Hernández in Spain’s Medical Gazette reviewed key aspects of the country’s asbestos legacy. Amongst the information presented was the following: between 1994 and 2008, there were 3,943 asbestos deaths in Spain; during the 20th century 2.6 million tons of asbestos were imported, with consumption highs achieved between 1960 and 1980; 75% of the asbestos went into the manufacture of fiber cement construction material. The author supported plans for the creation of a national asbestos compensation scheme and an asbestos eradication program to remove the toxic fiber and material containing it from the country’s infrastructure. See: Un peligro latente y silencioso: el amianto [A latent and silent danger: asbestos].
 

Asbestos Ruling in Amsterdam

Jan 27, 2023

A verdict handed down this week by an Amsterdam court found that the FloraHolland company had been negligent in allowing asbestos exposures to occur on multiple occasions at its various premises, including the flower market in Aalsmeer. The action was brought by a trade union on behalf of 15 current employees and the verdict means that should they or their former workmates contract an asbestos-related disease they will not need to bring a lawsuit to obtain compensation. In the judgment, the court said that although FloraHolland had known in 1990 that material containing asbestos was present in its premises, it had not issued warnings to staff until 2009. See: Top Dutch flower auction exposed employees to asbestos for years.
 

São Paulo Mystery

Jan 25, 2023

Having been refused permission to dock at various Brazilian ports after an aborted trip to Turkey for dismantling, on January 20 the Brazilian Navy took control of the hull of the redundant aircraft carrier the São Paulo following an ultimatum from the Turkish shipowners. The location of the Sao Paulo is unknown but it is believed to be proceeding away from the Brazilian coastline. It is feared by campaigners that the ship, which has become a contentious issue for the authorities, will be deliberately sunk. See: Porta-aviões ‘vagando’ no mar: entenda por que navio foi proibido de atracar no Brasil e Marinha assumiu controle [Aircraft carrier ‘wandering’ at sea: understand why the ship was banned from docking in Brazil and the why the Navy took control].
 

Supreme Court Issues Victims’ Ruling

Jan 25, 2023

Two recent decisions by the French Supreme Court (the Court of Cassation) expanded the rights of the families of victims who had died from industrial diseases and/or workplace accidents to access compensation, not only for loss of earnings but also for physical and moral suffering caused by the negligent behaviour of employers. As a result, dependents will be better compensated, in particular, the surviving families of workers who had died from diseases caused by occupational asbestos exposures. See: Amiante: indemnisation des salariés victimes ou de leurs ayants droit [Asbestos: compensation for employee victims or their dependents].
 

Asbestos Hazard at the Port of Taranto

Jan 25, 2023

A ship – the Vittorio Veneto – which had been decommissioned by the Italian Navy in 2007 and abandoned at the port of Taranto in 2013 continues to pose an imminent threat to public safety due to the presence of asbestos-containing material on board. An investigating judge has ruled that even though no harmful incident has occurred, the abandonment of the ship is an environmental disaster due to: “its proximity to the city centre, exposure to bad weather, the corrosive action of sea water, the ascertained state of opening of the ventilation hatches and the massive presence of asbestos (both inside and outside the boat)…” See: Taranto, la nave Vittorio Veneto carica di amianto al porto è un rischio [Taranto, the Vittorio Veneto ship loaded with asbestos at the port is a risk].
 

A Fatal Legacy

Jan 25, 2023

Interviews with two Spanish asbestos victims were featured in the article cited below. Mesothelioma sufferer José Antonio worked in the asbestos removal industry from 1999 until 2007 using pressurized air to remove asbestos from buildings. Neither he nor his workmates knew of the dangers of the work processes they were using. Vanesa’s bricklayer father died from mesothelioma; his wife also died from this cancer, having inhaled the deadly asbestos fibers brought home on his work clothes. See: “Mis padres murieron por amianto. Fue muy duro decirle a él que ella había enfermado por limpiarle la ropa del trabajo” [“My parents died from asbestos. It was very hard to tell him that she had gotten sick from cleaning his work clothes”].
 

Fighting for Asbestos Justice

Jan 25, 2023

Former carpenter and shipyard worker, Henri Tite-Grès has been fighting on behalf of asbestos victims for decades in his capacity as a trade union representative, union secretary, head of the national office of the shipbuilding branch of the metallurgy federation and President of the Mutuelle de la Méditerranée. Working alongside French lawyers, the union progressed claims on behalf of families of asbestos victims. In 27 years, there have been 4,500 cases; 18% of the claimants are now dead. See: “L’amiante est un Hiroshima silencieux”, juge Henri Tite-Grès, qui en a fait le combat de sa vie [“Asbestos is a silent Hiroshima,” judge Henri Tite-Grès, who made it the fight of his life].
 

Cape Must Pay!

Jan 25, 2023

In a letter sent by members of a Parliamentary group, the MPs and peers called on the parent company of one of the UK’s largest asbestos conglomerates (Cape PLC) to donate the sum of £10 million towards medical research into asbestos-related diseases as restitution for negligent behaviour which had knowingly endangered the lives of workers. Documents obtained as a result of a tough legal battle contained evidence that Cape had “provided misleading reassurance about the dangers of asbestos.” According to the letter, Cape “played a major role in exposing people to the toxic substance (asbestos), meanwhile profiting at their expense.” See: MPs urge asbestos company to pay £10m to fund cancer research.
 

Corporate Profits Trump Victims’ Claims

Jan 23, 2023

Strategems used by American corporations to offload financial liabilities continue to insulate insurers and manufacturers from asbestos claims. Koch Industries, an industrial conglomerate, received almost $2.5 billion in dividend payments in 2022 from its unit Georgia-Pacific, which had dumped its asbestos liabilities into a subsidiary (Bestwell) that filed for bankruptcy in a North Carolina court just three months after it had been set up. Thousands of asbestos lawsuits had been filed against Georgia-Pacific accusing the company and its executives of concealing knowledge about the hazard posed by asbestos contained in its building products. See: Koch gets $2.5 bln in dividends from unit that offloaded asbestos liability.
 

Asbestos Legacy in NHS

Jan 23, 2023

Research published on January 19, 2023 by the Trades Union Congress (TUC) confirmed widespread asbestos contamination of National Health Service (NHS) buildings in London (451 premises) and Scotland (695 premises), with two thirds of properties affected. Information on asbestos in other NHS buildings in these areas where a Trust or Board was not the asbestos duty-holder was not available. Two thirds of the NHS buildings which were found to be contaminated were open to the public. The report was produced by the Labour Research Department. See: Asbestos still widespread among NHS trusts and boards.
 

Plan for Asbestos Eradication in Madrid

Jan 23, 2023

The removal of asbestos-cement roofing on homes in the Spanish capital will be facilitated by the allocation by the Madrid City Council of €1 million (US$ 1.1m). Residents in 21 districts in the city including those in the neighborhoods of San Pascual, Poblado Dirigido and Meseta de Orcasitas will qualify for subsidies of €4,000 to €10,000 this year to remove the toxic material. The funds will be paid once a building permit has been granted and before work on the roofing commences. See: Amianto en el tejado: la larga lucha por acabar con una convivencia tóxica [Asbestos roofing: the long struggle to end a toxic coexistence].
 

Asbestos Scandal Uncovered

Jan 23, 2023

On January 18, 2023, the Seoul Office of Education announced that it had lodged a complaint against companies which had filed erroneous reports relating to the presence of asbestos at 17 schools. The fraudulent activity had been discovered after on-site audits by the Seoul Office of Education which is now seeking to recover all monies paid to the negligent companies and to bring charges against the wrongdoers. New procedures were implemented as of January 10, 2023 to prevent a recurrence of these incidents. See: 학교 석면 검사 '부실'…서울교육청, 석면 잔해물 '허위조사' 업체 고발 [School asbestos inspection 'poor'… Seoul Office of Education files complaint against company for 'false investigation' of asbestos debris].
 

Asbestos: Public Health Hazard

Jan 23, 2023

Despite frequent complaints by residents in the Agios Nektarios district of Patra, western Greece regarding the presence in the neighborhood of an asbestos roof covering 114 homes, no action has been taken by the municipal authorities. The residents’ call for the asbestos roof of the former Workers’ Housing Organization (OEK) dwellings to be replaced by the municipality fell on deaf ears. As the OEK no longer exists and as its successor is unable to assist with this problem, campaigners are calling for the central government to take action on this public health hazard. See: ΠΑΤΡΑ: Οργή και απογοήτευση στον Άγιο Νεκτάριο – Οι κάτοικοι αφέθηκαν στο έλεος του… “καρκίνου” [PATRA: Anger and disappointment in Agios Nektarios - Residents left at the mercy of... “cancer”].
 

Asbestos in Schools

Jan 23, 2023

According to replies received to a Freedom of Information request, asbestos-containing material is present in more than 40 primary, secondary, nursery and assisted support needs schools in Renfrewshire, Scotland. Commenting on these findings, a spokeswoman for the charity Clydebank Asbestos Group said: “Although the use of asbestos was banned in the UK in 1999, it sadly remains a serious public health issue. Asbestos still exists within the fabric of many of our old and public buildings, such as schools and hospitals. As a result, people will continue to be exposed to asbestos and be at risk of developing an asbestos-related disease.” See: Renfrewshire: Asbestos in schools is ‘ticking time-bomb’
 

Urban Renewal in Istanbul

Jan 19, 2023

The municipal administrative team were accused of failing to enforce regulations intended to prevent asbestos exposures during demolition work on old buildings in the Karanfilköy neighborhood of Beşiktaş, in Istanbul. Local residents said that despite the presence of asbestos-containing material in the buildings, no warnings had been given by the municipality and no steps had been taken to minimize the liberation of carcinogenic fibers during the building work. See: Kansere davetiye gibi yıkım pes dedirtti [Destruction, like an invitation to cancer, made one give up].
 

Asbestos Campaign: Update

Jan 19, 2023

Following a meeting in Bercy, France in December 2022, a coalition of civil society groups – including Finances Solidaires, the General Confederation of Labour, the French Democratic Confederation of Labour, the General Confederation of Labor, the French Confederation of Christian Workers, the National Union of Autonomous Trade Unions, and the French Confederation of Management, General Confederation of Executives – reaffirmed their commitment to eliminating asbestos from all their sites and facilitating recognition for all those whose lives had been adversely affected by toxic workplace exposures. See: Dossier amiante: les trois priorités de l'ensemble des fédérations syndicales des Finances [Asbestos file: the three priorities of all finance union federations].
 

Asbestos Deaths in Cheltenham

Jan 19, 2023

In the second week of January, a Gloucester coroner heard evidence about the deaths of three members of a Cheltenham factory maintenance team, all of whom had died from the asbestos-related cancer mesothelioma. Adjudicating the December 2, 2022 inquest into the death of Nigel Ibbotson, 61, Assistant Gloucestershire Coroner Roland Wooderson heard that in the 1980s Ibbotson had routinely been exposed to asbestos-containing material including Asbestolux sheets at various workplaces. A verdict of death by industrial disease was recorded. See: Three members of Cheltenham factory maintenance team died from asbestos-related cancer in Gloucester.
 

Asbestos Eradication in Piedmont

Jan 19, 2023

On January 16, 2023, Regional Councilor Mattteo Marnati announced that funds of €208,000 (US$226,000) had been allocated for the replacement of pipes and insulation in the heating systems of three buildings in Vercelli as part of the region’s Zero Asbestos Program. “These are,” said Marnati “small interventions because much has already been done to remove asbestos from public buildings. However, the effort of the Region and local authorities is aimed precisely at operating in a targeted and punctual way.” See: Amianto zero: dalla Regione 208mila euro per Rosa Stampa, Agrario e Provincia [Zero asbestos: 208 thousand euros from the Region for Rosa Stampa, Agrario and the Province].
 

Asbestos in Schools

Jan 16, 2023

Trade unions, working with UK scientists, announced plans to research the risk posed to teachers of working in schools containing asbestos, after new data showed an elevated mesothelioma mortality among teachers born between 1955 and 1974 that bordered “on statistical significance.” Commenting on this initiative, joint general secretary of the National Education Union Kevin Courtney said: “This research is vitally important. We believe it will establish once and for all the risk asbestos in school buildings poses to the health of teachers, support staff and children. We hope the results will convince the government of the urgent need for an independent review of current policy, which is to manage rather than remove asbestos.” See: UK unions call in cancer expert over fears of asbestos risk to female teachers.
 

Addressing Asbestos Mortality in BC

Jan 16, 2023

According to statistics released by WorkSafeBC – the occupational health and safety agency for the Canadian province of British Columbia (BC) – 17 out of the 29 construction workers who died from occupational injuries in 2021 were killed by toxic workplace exposures. In BC, asbestos exposures kill more workers than any other toxic substance. In the spring of 2023, a new Asbestos Control Training program will be launched in BC by the BC Construction Safety Alliance to educate BC’s 240,000 construction workers and asbestos removal operatives. See: Environ 30 travailleurs de la construction perdent la vie au travail chaque année en C.-B. [Approximately 30 construction workers die on the job every year in B.C.].
 

Widower’s Fight for Justice

Jan 16, 2023

Although the authorities at the Pierre-Paul Riquet hospital in Toulouse acknowledged that the 2021 lung cancer death of childcare assistant Marie-Christine Anglade had been caused by exposure to asbestos in the hospital premises in which the Purpan crèche was located, they continued to dispute whether her death was “a result of her work,” as she was a childcare assistant and not a technician. Disgruntled with these unsatisfactory findings, the deceased’s husband Pascal Anglade is considering an appeal to the administrative court. See: Toulouse: L’exposition passive à l’amiante au sein d’un CHU au cœur du combat du mari d’une salariée morte d’un cancer [Toulouse: Passive exposure to asbestos in a university hospital at the heart of the fight of the husband of an employee who died of cancer].
 

Landmark Demolition Project

Jan 16, 2023

Demolition work will begin in January 2023 on an 18-story 1970s building, formerly belonging to Telecom now owned by the Central Group development company, in Prague that contains 3,000 tonnes of asbestos-containing material. Subcontractors hired to remediate and dispose of the asbestos were previously fined 450,000 crowns (US$ 20,295) by the Czech Environmental Inspectorate for failing to prevent the liberation of asbestos from a site in Prague's Michle district. See: Крупнейшее захоронение опасного асбеста: в Праге снесут башню штроугала [The largest burial of dangerous asbestos: Strougal’s tower in Prague will be demolished].
 

São Paulo Update

Jan 13, 2023

The São Paulo continues to haunt the Brazilian coast after multiple authorities refused it permission to dock over concerns relating to asbestos and other toxic substances on board. On January 11, the company representing the Turkish owner of the vessel said that if the authorities did not secure the ship a place to berth, it would be abandoned. In response, the Brazilian Navy on January 12 reiterated its position that the responsibility for dealing with the vessel belonged to its owner and not the Navy and that: “the asbestos currently existing in São Paulo does not pose health risks, in the state in which it is found. See: Porta-aviões com amianto no casco é impedido de atracar em Pernambuco por inviabilidade portuária [Aircraft carrier with asbestos in the hull is prevented from docking in Pernambuco due to port unfeasibility].
 

Asbestos at Durham University

Jan 13, 2023

The January 12th article cited below presented a damning indictment of a failure to address widespread asbestos contamination in Durham University. Seventy-four accommodation buildings in 10 Durham University colleges contained asbestos, of which 214 were given a material score of 10 or above out of 12. This score indicated that the material was considered “as having a high potential to release fibres and therefore hazardous.” More recent reports suggested that the condition of the asbestos had deteriorated over time as the amount now considered hazardous increased to 29%. See: Over 1264 incidents of asbestos found in college accommodation buildings.
 

Eradicating Asbestos in Schools

Jan 13, 2023

Asbestos removal work is being carried out by contractors commissioned by the Ulsan Metropolitan Office of Education to eradicate the toxic substance from 16 schools in South Korea during the winter school vacation. After the work has been completed, the asbestos monitoring group – made up of parents, asbestos supervisors, external environmental experts, representatives of civil society and school staff – will conduct follow-up tests to measure the air quality inside affected classrooms. See: 울산교육청, 겨울방학 학교 60곳 교육환경개선 [Ulsan Office of Education, Improvement of educational environment in 60 winter vacation schools].
 

Financial Support for Asbestos Removal

Jan 13, 2023

A municipal scheme offered to homeowners in the Italian town of Chioggia, part of the Metropolitan City of Venice, was, said Councilor for the Environment of the Municipality of Chioggia Serena De Perini: “an opportunity… to be seized to dispose of asbestos in complete safety, also taking advantage of an economic incentive.” A subsidy of €250 (US$270) will be paid by the Council towards the cost of each contract. Up to 1,000 kilograms of manufactured asbestos products can be removed under the scheme or 75 square meters of slabs. See: Amianto in abitazioni civili, Veritas offre l’opportunità di smaltirlo in sicurezza [Asbestos in civilian homes, Veritas offers the opportunity to dispose of it safely].
 

Asbestos Settlement for Libby Crimes?

Jan 11, 2023

On January 10, Governor of the US State of Montana Greg Gianforte announced that the State had been offered $18.5 million to settle claims over asbestos contamination caused by the operations of the vermiculite mine owned by W.R. Grace in the town of Libby. Environmental pollution occurred from the time mining started in 1963 until it ceased in 1990. A clean-up program carried out by the Environmental Protection Agency cost $600 million; in 2008, the company agreed to pay $250 million towards the cost of the decontamination work. See: W.R. Grace offers $18.5M to settle Montana asbestos claims.
 

EU Funds for Asbestos Eradication

Jan 11, 2023

Funding of €2.4 million (US$2.6m) from the European Union’s Rehabilitation of Residential Environments Program has been designated for work to remove asbestos from hundreds of private apartments in the Juan de la Cierva neighborhood of the Spanish city of Getafe. Some of the money allocated will be used for work to reduce energy consumption for heating and cooling in 250 properties by 35% per year. See: GETAFE/ 250 viviendas de Juan de la Cierva quedarán libre de amianto [GETAFE / 250 homes in Juan de la Cierva will be free of asbestos].
 

Low Level of Asbestos Awareness

Jan 11, 2023

On January 9, 2023, the results of a survey undertaken by personnel from the Citizens’ Center for Environmental Health, Korea were published. In the survey, more than half (56.7%) the people questioned didn’t know whether asbestos was present in the schools their children attended. In addition, 42.1% didn’t know whether their house, office or factory contained asbestos material. A not insignificant number of people (17.6%) also didn’t know that asbestos was classed as a group 1 carcinogen. See: 국민 절반 이상 자녀 학교건물의 ‘석면’ 사용 여부 모른다 [More than half of the population does not know whether ‘asbestos’ is used in school buildings for children].
 

Victim’s Verdict Upheld in Montana

Jan 11, 2023

A jury decision awarding 36.5 million dollars to asbestos plaintiff Ralph V. Hutt was upheld by Montana Judge John W. Parker of Cascade County District Court. Defendant Maryland Casualty Company had, the jurors found, conspired with the Libby-based mining company W.R. Grace to conceal the extent of the hazard posed by the mining of asbestos-contaminated vermiculite. Judge Parker said the insurance company’s actions were so atrocious that it’s behaviour could have been grounds for an even higher monetary award. See: Cascade County judge upholds jury’s $36.5M decision in asbestos case.
 

Asbestos in Parliament

Jan 11, 2023

According to Dame Meg Hillier MP, chair of the Public Accounts Committee, there is an “unacceptable cloak of secrecy” around the restoration program for the Houses of Parliament due to a rise in the estimated cost of the refurbishment which had risen from £7 billion to £22 billion. The Houses of Parliament, which are a UNESCO world heritage site, are riddled with asbestos. In 2021, it was revealed that asbestos incidents during building work had potentially put at risk the lives of 117 contractors and members of staff. Any work undertaken in the building runs the risk of disturbing asbestos which “runs the whole length of the building.” See: 'Unacceptable cloak of secrecy' around Houses of Parliament restoration, says MP.
 

Verdict Upheld Smoker’s Asbestos Claim

Jan 11, 2023

Despite a history of tobacco use, a labor judge in the Civil Court of Rome issued a claimant’s verdict in an asbestos case brought by a former employee of the Cotral transport company. The Lazio company was ordered to pay compensation of €157,000 (US$169,000) to the children of a driver/laborer who died aged 59 from asbestos-related lung cancer. The Court found that his smoking did not bar the claim but reinforced it, as asbestos exposure multiplied the hazard posed by smoking. See: Morì a causa dell’amianto, condannata compagnia di trasporti [Death from asbestos, transport company condemned].
 

Call for Action on Asbestos Hazard

Jan 9, 2023

A commentary in the January 5 issue of the Oncology Times considered the findings and recommendations made in a peer-reviewed paper entitled The silent malignant mesothelioma epidemic: a call to action, published in the Lancet Oncology in October 2022. Accepting that the malignant mesothelioma epidemic was fueled by the consumption of asbestos, a joint effort by medical professionals, health officials and civil society was needed to tackle widespread lack of asbestos awareness and provide an alternative dialogue to propaganda spread by pro-asbestos lobbyists. See: The Role of Asbestos in Global Malignant Mesothelioma.
 

Extension of Benefits for At-Risk Workers

Jan 9, 2023

Decrees published in the Official Journal of the French Government on December 31, 2023 affirmed plans to extend until December 31, 2027 the current asbestos scheme covering shipbuilding and repair workers occupationally-exposed to asbestos. The scheme was originally due to end in 2022. Commenting on the news, Didier le Gac, a Member of the National Assembly representing the port town of Brest, said that he was “delighted with this additional time which must now be used to change the situation and ensure the total disappearance of asbestos in the naval sector. It is a matter of both the health of ship repair employees and the competitiveness of a strategic sector for the Brest market.” See: L'équation budgétaire de l'exécutif se précise [The executive's budget equation becomes clearer].
 

Welsh Asbestos Scandal

Jan 9, 2023

According to a new report, 5,264 council, health board and Welsh Government buildings contain asbestos material. More than 1,300 of the toxic structures are schools. Asbestos-containing products are present in more than 90% percent of all Welsh Government buildings with 92% of Cardiff Council buildings being affected. Carmarthenshire had 182 schools with asbestos, the highest of all council areas, followed by Cardiff with 104. Reacting to this discovery, Welsh Conservative Shadow Local Government Minister Sam Rowlands MS said: “the scale of this issue suggests a public health risk that is just not being tackled.” See: Investigation reveals thousands of Welsh Government buildings contain deadly asbestos.
 

Asbestos Benefits’ Increase

Jan 9, 2023

The Italian Government’s budget for the financial year 2023 and the multi-year budget for the three-year period starting this year increased the amount of benefits paid by INAIL– Italy’s National Institute for Occupational Accident Insurance – to asbestos victims. As of January 1, 2023, there was a 2% uplift in monthly payments; in addition, one-off INAIL benefits to mesothelioma sufferers increased from €10,000 (US$10,653) to €15,000. New benefits were introduced for workers exposed to asbestos who had worked in the railway rolling stock production sector. See: Fondo Vittime Amianto, cosa dice la Legge di Bilancio 2023 [Asbestos Victims Fund, what the 2023 Budget Law says].
 

Supporting Victims’ Rights

Jan 9, 2023

In a statement issued on January 4, 2023, the Basque Association of Asbestos Victims (Asviamie) called on health professionals to notify patients when there was a “suspicion” that they had contracted diseases caused by occupational exposure to carcinogenic products such as asbestos so that they might pursue compensation and support for the injuries sustained. Patients so-informed had options for obtaining government benefits and/or settlements from former employers responsible for the toxic exposures they had endured. See: Instan a los médicos a comunicar su sospecha en casos de amianto [Doctors urged to communicate their suspicion in asbestos cases].
 

Uplift in Pensions

Jan 9, 2023

Under government measures to deal with the cost-of-living crisis in France, pensions paid to asbestos victims by the Compensation Fund for Asbestos Victims (FIVA) were increased by 4% as of December 30, 2022; the uplift was applied retroactively from July 1, 2022. In 2021 FIVA, whose mission is “to ensure full compensation for all the damage suffered by victims and their dependents resulting directly from exposure to asbestos on the territory of the French Republic,” received 17,300 claims from asbestos victims. See: L'indemnisation des victimes de l'amiante va augmenter en 2023 [Compensation for asbestos victims will increase in 2023].
 

Asbestos Blockade

Jan 5, 2023

In 2022, Sverdlovsk Railway blocked shipments by Uralasbest – Russia’s 2nd biggest asbestos producer – to China. According to a Uralasbest spokesman: “China is the most important strategic partner for the Uralasbest plant. Of the total annual output of 240,000 tons of asbestos, a quarter is sent to China. The loss of this market due to the non-acceptance of our cargo by the SVZhD [Sverdlovsk Railway] is fraught with serious losses and downtime for the enterprise, which employs 4,500 people.” See: «Ураласбест» заявил о возможной приостановке производства из-за отказа СвЖД отправлять хризотил в Китай [“Uralasbest” announced a possible suspension of production due to the refusal of the Sverdlovsk Railway to send chrysotile to China].
 

National Asbestos Scandal

Jan 5, 2023

The stunning exposé cited below revealed the deadly consequences of the uncontrolled use of asbestos in India: “In 2021, India accounted for 44% of global [asbestos] imports, a 29% increase on 2020. Russia and Brazil are its key sources.” According to  research published by the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (Mumbai), in the coming decades more than 6 million people in India could contract an asbestos-related disease including 600,000+ cases of cancer. Those affected include not only asbestos workers and miners but family members and members of the public who lived near asbestos mines and/or asbestos-using factories. See: ‘We are all exposed to it’: the human face of India’s asbestos timebomb.
 

Mesothelioma Incidence & Unilateral Bans

Jan 5, 2023

A paper published in December 2022 by an international team of researchers considered whether a nation’s incidence of mesothelioma, the signature cancer associated with asbestos exposure, had an impact on what actions – such as banning asbestos or restricting its use – were adopted by national governments. The authors of the paper concluded that a country’s “mesothelioma burden had an impact on, and together with its identification, explained the banning of asbestos in many countries.” Recommendations made included adopting preventative measures to eliminate asbestos-related diseases. See: Must countries shoulder the burden of mesothelioma to ban asbestos? A global assessment.
 

Asbestos Eradication in Avaré

Jan 5, 2023

In a round-up of municipal accomplishments in 2022, the authorities in Avaré – a Brazilian city in the State of São Paulo – reviewed work which had been done to eradicate the asbestos hazard from regional hotspots. In what was termed “a historic victory for collective health,” the Municipal Secretary of the Environment ordered the removal of approximately 400 tons of asbestos debris that had been illegally dumped over 20 years ago. In addition, asbestos dumped in streams in Avaré was also removed to prevent flooding in the central region. See: Retirada de amianto abandonado foi importante conquista em 2022 [Removal of abandoned asbestos was an important achievement in 2022].
 

Asbestos Mortality Data: Update

Jan 5, 2023

Data released by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) in November 2022 confirmed the deadly toll paid by UK workers for historic asbestos exposures. Of the 13,000 occupational deaths that occurred every year, 12,000 were caused by lung diseases. Mesothelioma, the signature asbestos cancer, killed 2,544 people in the UK in 2020; according to the HSE “annual mesothelioma deaths are expected to reduce over the period 2020 to 2030.” See: Health and safety at work Summary statistics for Great Britain 2022.
 

Asbestos Cancer Latency Study

Jan 4, 2023

An academic paper published in the December 2022 issue of the peer-reviewed International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, which examined the latency period of malignant mesothelioma and asbestos-related lung cancer in Korea, found that the latency periods for malignant mesothelioma and lung cancer were 33.7 and 40.1 years, respectively. The shortest latency periods were found in former asbestos factory workers; people who worked or lived near an asbestos mine had relatively long disease latency. See: Disease Latency according to Asbestos Exposure Characteristics among Malignant Mesothelioma and Asbestos-Related Lung Cancer Cases in South Korea.
 

Post-Disaster Asbestos Hazard

Jan 4, 2023

An interview on the Australian Broadcasting Channel with the Director of Shelter at Miyamoto Relief Dave Hodgkin, an Australian working in Indonesia to assess the damage from the November 21, 2022 5.6-magnitude earthquake in the town of Cianjur, highlighted the danger posed by the ubiquitous presence of asbestos throughout the region. Mr. Hodgkin said that continuing efforts to raise awareness of the asbestos hazard amongst government officials and the public are countered by intensive lobbying by asbestos vested interests determined to preserve the continued sale of asbestos in the country. See: Former Canberran assesses asbestos risk in earthquake damaged Indonesia.
 

Toxic Talc

Jan 4, 2023

In December 2022, a California jury issued a plaintiffs’ verdict in a case brought against cosmetics giant Avon, now owned by Natura & Co, over the fatal asbestos cancer contracted by Los Angeles resident Rita-Ann Chapman. Mrs. Chapman, who began using Avon body and face powders aged 8, was awarded $40.8 million in actual damages and a further $11.3 million in punitive damages after jurors found that the company had acted with “malice, oppression or fraud” in hiding the health risks associated with the use of these products. Avon’s lawyers announced plans to appeal the verdict; this is the first such case Avon has lost in the US. See: California Jury Awards Woman $52.1 Million in Mesothelioma Case Against Avon.
 

Protecting Europe’s Workers

Jan 4, 2023

On December 4, the Council of the European Union announced that an agreement had been reached by Ministers of Employment to tighten EU restrictions protecting workers from occupational asbestos exposures. The Council planned to negotiate with the European Parliament on measures for lowering current exposure levels as part of Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan. If the new rules are agreed, no worker would be exposed to a concentration of more than 0.01 fibres of asbestos per cm³ – a tenfold reduction to the current allowable level. Although asbestos use in the EU was banned in 2005, asbestos-containing material remains in older buildings. The vast majority of occupational cancers recognised in the EU are related to asbestos. See: Asbestos: Council agrees to improve protection of workers.
 

No Berth in Angra!

Jan 4, 2023

The saga of the São Paulo, the former Brazilian flagship which has become an international pariah and a national scandal, continued last month. The Brazilian city of Angra in the southwest of Rio de Janeiro State issued a ban on the docking of all vessels containing asbestos or radioactive material in the municipality. In October, the State of Pernambuco had ruled that the São Paulo would not be allowed to dock in the Port of Suape because of the hazards it posed to human health and the environment. See: Prefeitura de Angra recorre à Justiça para impedir atracação de porta aviões com amianto e vestígio de material radioativo em todos os portos da cidade [City Hall of Angra resorts to Justice to prevent docking of aircraft carriers with asbestos and traces of radioactive material in all ports of the city].
 

Asbestos Propaganda

Jan 4, 2023

In December, Russian asbestos propagandists continued their disinformation campaign; releasing articles such as the one cited below and another entitled: Why are people afraid of asbestos?. They lauded the continued use of chrysotile (white) asbestos with statements such as: “All CIS countries are actively importing chrysotile fiber as are China, Thailand, Vietnam and other countries of Southeast Asia. It [asbestos] helps dynamically developing economies independently solve the complex tasks of building mass housing, developing social infrastructure and stimulating the real estate market.” Asbestos critics were said to be corrupt and evidence on the carcinogenicity of chrysotile dismissed as “rumours.” See: Экологическая «повестка»: идея или бизнес? [Environmental agenda: idea or business?].
 

Progress in Brussels

Dec 9, 2022

On December 8, 2022, the European Union (EU) Council agreed to toughen workplace protections against asbestos by reducing allowable levels of exposure and adopting more modern technology for counting asbestos fibers. “Greater protection of workers against the risks of asbestos will save lives. EU Member States must drastically limit the exposure of workers to the danger posed by asbestos, and I am glad that they are willing to do so,” said the vice-president of the Government and Minister of Labor and Social Affairs of the Czech Republic, Marian Jurecka. See: Consejo UE acuerda aumentar protección de los trabajadores frente al amianto [EU Council agrees to increase worker protection against asbestos].
 

The Endless Voyage of the São Paulo

Dec 9, 2022

The former Brazilian aircraft carrier São Paulo continues its journey to nowhere. After Turkish authorities rescinded permission for the ship to be scrapped in Turkey, the vessel returned to Brazilian waters. Authorities in multiple Brazilian cities refused permission for the ship to dock due to concerns over the presence of asbestos and other hazardous material on board; it is now moored about 30 km off the coast of Pernambuco, near the Port of Suape. According to the Government of Pernambuco, the ship “remains without docking permission and continues on the high seas.” See: NAVIO-FANTASMA: Porto de Suape rebate MSK e nega falta de combustível que ocasionou troca do rebocador do porta-aviões [GHOST SHIP: Suape Port refutes MSK and denies lack of fuel that led to replacement of aircraft carrier tug].
 

Chlorine Production and Asbestos Deaths

Dec 9, 2022

The photographic essay cited below was a damning indictment of the behaviour of US chlorine producers Olin and OxyChem which negligently exposed workers to asbestos and other hazardous substances over many decades. For the first time, workers have broken their silence about the reality of working in plants belonging to these companies. Their accounts of routine toxic exposures are in direct contradiction to the continued reassurances provided by the corporations to US government agencies. Efforts by the Environmental Protection Agency to ban asbestos have repeatedly been blocked by lobbyists representing the chlorine industry. See: Factory workers across the U.S. say they were exposed to asbestos on the job.
 

Asbestos Use, Diseases and Compensation

Dec 9, 2022

In India, the use of asbestos remains legal. Measures to protect workers and members of the public from toxic exposures remain virtually unknown. As a result, there is a growing epidemic of asbestos-related diseases and deaths throughout the country. Compensation for these diseases is difficult to obtain. Three thousand asbestos-injured workers have collectively received 14 million pounds from a fund set up to pay compensation by the British company Turner & Newall, which built the first asbestos factory in India in the 1930s. Campaigners are calling on international and Indian-owned asbestos-using companies to make restitution to workers and communities which they have harmed. See: Raising awareness about asbestos pollution in India: Challenges ahead.
 

More Asbestos Propaganda

Dec 9, 2022

The commentary cited below rehashed threadbare industry propaganda extolling the virtues of chrysotile (white) asbestos whilst denying the proven health hazards to human beings exposed to its fibers. According to the author: “the [German] army cannot do without it” as asbestos material is used in T-72, T-80 and T-90 tanks. Parroting asbestos lobby disinformation, the text affirmed that: “Chrysotile fiber is excreted from the human body in a short period of time without harming it” and the asbestos industry “benefits millions of people around the world by protecting [them] against fire and high temperatures.” See: Асбест в ГДР: история защитного снаряжения полувековой давности [Asbestos in the GDR: the history of protective equipment half a century ago].
 

The End of Brazil’s Asbestos Industry?

Dec 8, 2022

A blog reviewing recent judicial developments in the Brazilian State of Goiás highlighted a decision by the Superior Court of Justice which annulled an injunction that had allowed asbestos mining by SAMA Minerações Associadas, a subsidiary of Eternit S.A., to continue at its Minaçu mine in contravention of a 2017 Supreme Court decision. In 2019, the Government of Goiás passed a law allowing extraction of asbestos for export purposes only. See: Decisão judicial em Goiás coloca cotas raciais em xeque no mês da Consciência Negra [Judicial decision in Goiás puts racial quotas in check in the month of Black Consciousness].
 

Scotland’s Deadly Asbestos Legacy

Dec 8, 2022

To mark the 30th anniversary of the Clydebank Asbestos Group, a new book, entitled Asbestos and Clydebank, was published focussing on the personal stories of former workers who, as a result of toxic workplace conditions, had contracted asbestos-related diseases. Electrician Stuart Riddle had been employed at John Brown’s shipyards alongside thousands of other Scottish workers. He recalled a particular incident during the construction of the QEII during which he was showered with asbestos fibers produced by the work of a joiner cutting holes in the ceiling of the radio room to install light fittings. See: Clydebank: Part 3 of our series of stories of ‘Asbestos and Clydebank’.
 

Asbestos: Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow

Dec 8, 2022

Asbestos exposure remains the cause of the vast majority of occupationally-caused diseases in Canada. The article cited below reviewed the development of the asbestos industry, the risks posed by asbestos exposures, and the continued failures, by both countries which have banned asbestos use and those which have not yet done so, to protect populations from the asbestos hazard. Of particular relevance was the section of the text which highlighted the environmental danger posed by the destruction of the Ukrainian infrastructure by the Russian bombardment. See: Asbestos: The Miracle Mineral of our Worst Nightmares.
 

In the Aftermath of Asbestos Mining

Dec 5, 2022

A stunning photographic essay published last week revealed the environmental consequences of thirty years of asbestos mining in the Canadian town of Baie Verte, Newfoundland. The Advocate asbestos strip mine, which opened in 1963 and ceased production in the 1990s, is just a five-minute drive from Baie Verte. It provided employment for local people, many of whom moved to the town to take up jobs at the mine which was one of the largest asbestos mines in Canada. According to the article, many former workers contracted fatal asbestos-related diseases and virtually nothing has been done to remediate the mine. Mountains of toxic asbestos mining waste continue to dominate the landscape. See: Don’t Hold Your Breath.
 

National Asbestos Legacy

Dec 5, 2022

Until fairly recently, there has been little coverage of the deadly impact of asbestos exposures in Romania. The article cited below by Romanian journalist Adrian Stoica highlighted the discrepancies which exist between European Union and Romanian asbestos regulations. Under Romanian law, the allowable asbestos limit value is 0.1 fibers/cm3, much higher than that of the EU. Although asbestos production, sale and use were banned in Romania in 2007, exposure to asbestos still exists in many workplaces. The historic use of asbestos and the failure to remediate the Romanian infrastructure has created a situation in which members of the public as well as workers could be routinely exposed to asbestos material. See: “Silent killers,” in 35 million EU homes.
 

Asbestos Compensation in Northern Ireland

Dec 5, 2022

Since 2011, Northern Ireland’s Department for the Economy (DfE)and Department for Communities (DfC) paid out in excess of £40 million compensation to workers who contracted asbestos-related diseases in Northern Ireland. The DfE managed claims against Harland and Wolff (H&W), the former Belfast ship-building company that built the Titanic; in its heyday, the H&W yards employed 30,000 people. The DfE paid out £35m+ to 1,500 people between 2011 and 2021 with the DfC paying out £5.8m to 378 workers not employed by the ship-building industry over the same period. Asbestos fatalities in NI increased almost 60% in 2020 compared to 2019. See: Asbestos-related compensation pay outs top £40m.
 

European Asbestos Protocols: Update

Dec 5, 2022

The commentary cited below was written by Nikolaj Villumsen, a Danish Member of the European Parliament. In 2021, he had been the rapporteur of the European Parliament’s report on protecting workers from asbestos. His analysis of new measures proposed by the Parliament to address the deadly legacy left by asbestos within Europe expressed both hope and frustration. Whilst welcoming the introduction of mandatory health screenings, registration of asbestos in buildings and an update of the list of occupational diseases related to asbestos exposure, he condemned the failure to lower the limit value for asbestos to 1,000 fibres per cubic meter, in line with recommendations from the EU Parliament. See: Why the EU asbestos directive revision … needs revising.
 

Mesothelioma Scheme Review

Dec 5, 2022

From April 2014 to March 2022, the UK Diffuse Mesothelioma Payment Scheme (DMPS) – which is funded by a levy on the employers’ liability insurance industry – paid out a total of £254.9 million for 2,815 claims. The majority of the compensation (£212.6m) went to applicants with £42.3m going to the Department for Work and Pensions as reimbursement for interim benefits previously paid out. During this period, 70% of claims were successful. In the year ending March 31, 2022, 325 applications were received which was 7% more than the previous year; the success rate for applications last year was 74%. See: Diffuse Mesothelioma Payment Scheme annual statistics April 2014 to March 2022.
 

Asbestos Memorial

Dec 1, 2022

On Sunday morning, December 10, a ceremony will be held in Osasco – the former heart of Brazil’s asbestos-cement industry – to honor workers and members of the public who died from exposure to asbestos. During the event, a 7 meter tall memorial will be unveiled on a roundabout across the street from the site of the former Eternit asbestos factory, the largest such operation in all of Latin America. The event is the result of a collaboration between Osasco City Hall and ABREA, the Brazilian Association of People Exposed to Asbestos. See: Osasco entrega Memorial em homenagem às vítimas do amianto [Osasco delivers Memorial in honor of asbestos victims].
 

Asbestos Removal Exposure Risks

Dec 1, 2022

A study commissioned by the New Zealand Demolition and Asbestos Association of the asbestos removal sector concluded that the number of workers at risk from toxic exposures remained high. Authors of The Asbestos Sector Review recommended that better training and increased protection were needed for tradespeople and DIYers to prevent exposures to asbestos in the built environment. According to the Association’s President Helina Stil: “There is a massive inconsistency of standards across the board. It makes it very confusing for contractors and that also leads to risks for workers with these differing standards.” See: Review finds number of workers exposed to asbestos grossly underestimated.
 

EU Asbestos Legacy

Dec 1, 2022

The focus of an interview of Jukka Takala, former president of the International Commission on Occupational Health, and Rolf Gehring, of the European Federation of Building and Woodworkers, was the ongoing epidemic of asbestos-related diseases currently killing thousands of workers in Europe every year. Both experts called on the European Union to take stronger action to lower allowable levels of occupational exposures in order to protect workers undertaking remediation and renewal of the built environment. See: Trade unionists: ‘We get more and more asbestos-related illnesses’.
 

Asbestos Removal Stops Traffic

Dec 1, 2022

The Mont Blanc highway tunnel connecting France and Italy will be closed for three months a year over the next 18 years to allow asbestos-containing material to be removed. The closure of the tunnel will impact adversely on both tourism and business. Trained operatives working for specialist asbestos removal companies will be tasked with remediating the tunnel. In both Italy and France, thousands of people die every year from asbestos-related diseases. See: Amianto nel traforo del Monte Bianco: chiuderà 3 mesi l’anno [Asbestos in the Mont Blanc tunnel: it will close 3 months a year].
 

Asbestos Exposures at Military Bases

Dec 1, 2022

On November 16, 2022, speakers at a public meeting of the Association for Supporting Asbestos Victims, Families and Bereaved Families Related to the Military Stationed in Okinawa, provided updates for asbestos-exposed workers and family members regarding access to legal aid and medical care to pursue claims related to toxic exposures at US military bases in Japan. Hundreds of claims have been registered to date, with 12 lawsuits against the national government succeeding for people from Okinawa prefecture. See: 米軍基地アスベスト被害、遺族給付金の期限32年まで延長「被害者掘り起こしを」 支援の会が総会 沖縄・北谷 [U.S. military base asbestos damage, bereaved family benefits extended to 32 years. Victim support group general meeting Okinawa Chatan].
 

Europe’s Asbestos Scandal

Nov 29, 2022

A cross-border investigation supported by Jouranlismfund.eu into the deadly repercussions of Europe’s use of asbestos, has resulted in the publication this month (November, 2022) of a series of articles and TV programs in Denmark, Croatia, Spain, Netherlands, Belgium, Poland, etc. which revealed the ubiquitous presence of asbestos throughout the European infrastructure; the ongoing epidemic of asbestos-related deaths; and the calls by trade unionists and campaigners for regional action to impose stricter workplace regulations. See: Asbestos: The Lethal Legacy.
 

Deadly legacy; ongoing hazard!

Nov 29, 2022

During Australia’s annual asbestos awareness week – which started this year on November 21 – new data was published which confirmed the ongoing deadly legacy posed by the country’s widespread use of asbestos throughout the national infrastructure. According to the Federal Government, one in every three homes remains contaminated by toxic material; this situation continues to pose an imminent risk not only to residents but also to tradespeople. Nearly four times the number of Australians are killed annually by asbestos-related diseases as die from road traffic accidents. See: Asbestos warning as 4000 Aussies killed every year.
 

Asbestos in Schools

Nov 29, 2022

The Bologna Court of Appeal ruled that the Ministry of Education and not the Municipality of Bologna, the owner of the school, was liable for the 2017 mesothelioma death of a teacher who had been exposed to asbestos in the school where she had taught from 1981 until 1990. Judicial proceedings which had been launched before her death finally resulted in a judicial verdict awarding compensation of 930,000 euros (US$965,100) to the deceased’s children. See: Morta per l’amianto nella scuola. Una sentenza di condanna del Ministero che fa discutere [Death due to asbestos [exposure] in school. Controversy over sentence imposed on Ministry].
 

Court Asbestos Ban

Nov 28, 2022

It was announced this month that Brazil’s Superior Court of Justice had ordered the cessation of asbestos mining at the country’s sole asbestos mine, which had been producing asbestos for export despite an earlier Supreme Court (2017) ruling banning asbestos production, sale and use. The judgment annulled an injunction (2019) obtained by the mine owners - Sama Mineração S/A, a company of the Eternit group – under which operations had continued. It remains unknown whether Sama will abide by the new ruling. See: STJ ordena que Sama pare de extrair amianto em Minaçu [STJ orders Sama to stop extracting asbestos in Minaçu].
 

Asbestos Management Update

Nov 28, 2022

A 28-page review of UK asbestos management published this month (November 2022) revealed that 20 years after the Duty to Manage Asbestos became law, the majority of UK buildings contained asbestos material, much of which could pose “a potential risk to public health, and which need remediation or removal.” The authors of the report recommended that further measures be taken to expand the investigation, standardize data collection and identify toxic material in buildings. See: Review of UK Asbestos Management 2022.
 

Total Asbestos Ban in 2023

Oct 31, 2022

From May 2023, there will be a total ban on the import of all goods containing asbestos to Taiwan; according to the Environmental Protection Agency, this measure was being taken to protect the health of citizens. Since 1999, regulations for importers bringing asbestos products into the country had grown increasingly stricter. Since January 1, 2018, all imports were banned except for asbestos products brought into the country for research, experimentation, and education. See: 《產業》石棉產品明年5月起全面禁止輸入 違者最高罰30萬 [“Industry” asbestos products will be completely banned from being imported from May next year, and violators will be fined up to 300,000].
 

Understanding Pleural Cancer

Oct 31, 2022

An article by Vietnamese medical expert Dr. Nguyen Kinh Kha explained various types of pleural cancers, their symptoms, genesis of the diseases and various types of medical protocols used for diagnosing and treating patients. Under the section headed: What is lung cancer, the first cancer discussed was mesothelioma, the signature cancer associated with asbestos exposure. The first cause listed for mesothelioma was “long time direct exposure to asbestos,” a substance banned in 55+ countries around the world but still commonly used in Vietnam, especially amongst ethnic communities. See: Ung thư màng phổi: dấu hiệu, chẩn đoán và cách điều trị [Lung cancer: signs, diagnosis and treatment].
 

Toledo, an Asbestos Hotspot

Oct 31, 2022

Asbestos contamination has plagued several neighborhoods in the Spanish town of Toledo for several years. On October 28, 2022, city councillor Julio Comendador, addressing a plenary session of the City Council, warned that there was an environmental disaster due to the presence of asbestos in houses which are more than fifty years old owned by the Ministry of Defence in the Santa Bárbara neighborhood, in close proximity to a school and playground. See: Cs pide medidas para retirar el amianto de los edificios [Cs calls for measures to remove asbestos from buildings].
 

Asbestos-Free Certificates, the Future?

Oct 31, 2022

Following the precedent set by Flanders, a Brussels MP is pushing the Brussels Region to impose a certification scheme under which properties put up for sale will require a document attesting to the fact that they are free of asbestos material. Unfortunately, Alain Maron – Minister of the Government of the Brussels-Capital Region – replied that such a scheme would impose a “cumbersome” burden on property owners which could depress sales of real estate in Brussels. Existing regulations, Maron said, provide sufficient protection. See: Transaction immobilière: vers un certificat “garanti sans amianto” à Bruxelles? [Real estate transaction: towards a “guaranteed asbestos-free” certificate in Brussels?].
 

Poacher Turned Gamekeeper

Oct 31, 2022

In an ironic twist of fate, a conglomerate which had been a prolific user and promoter of asbestos building products in Europe, Latin America and around the world is now championing the use of sustainable and alternative technologies in Vietnam. For the eighth year, Saint-Gobain sponsored an award which recognized the work of property developers in Vietnam “dedicated to raising the standard of living for all walks of life, while satisfying extensive environmental friendliness criteria.” See: Saint-Gobain Việt Nam đồng hành cùng PropertyGuru Vietnam Property Awards lần thứ 8 [Saint-Gobain Vietnam accompanies the 8th PropertyGuru Vietnam Property Awards].
 

Asbestos Alert

Oct 31, 2022

The commentary referenced below was written by a technical asbestos expert whose grandfather was routinely exposed to asbestos at UK worksites; the text provides a useful recap of asbestos facts, regulations and responsibilities. According to UK regulations, duty holders must identify asbestos and take action to minimize exposures by managing or removing it: “As a rule of thumb, when planning to carry out any work on a building that has been built or refurbished before 2000, assume that ACMs [asbestos-containing materials] are present until you know otherwise.” See: Managing asbestos and its risks.
 

Asbestos Crime and Punishment

Oct 28, 2022

A French court case which has been languishing for 26 years will be heard in a Paris Court in 2023. Eighteen hundred members of a class action are bringing charges against 14 “national actors” for failures to prevent a national catastrophe which caused more than 100,000 French deaths from asbestos-related diseases. Amongst those accused are asbestos industrialists and senior officials from government ministries. If convicted, the accused could be jailed for up to ten years. See (subscription site): Le procès pénal du scandale sanitaire de l’amiante devrait s’ouvrir à la fin de 2023, vingt-six ans après la première plainte [Asbestos health scandal criminal trial set to open at end of 2023, 26 years after first complaint].
 

Asbestos Audits for House Sales

Oct 28, 2022

As of November 23, 2022, anyone selling a domestic property in Flanders will be required to have an asbestos certificate for all structures built before 2001. The mandatory document will consist of a detailed inventory of all material present which contains asbestos and must be prepared by an authorized specialist. The cost of an asbestos inspection will be between €300 and €600 (US$604); registering the document with OVAM – the Public Waste Agency in the region of Flanders – will cost another €50. See: La Flandre exige désormais un certificat amiante [Flanders now requires an asbestos certificate].
 

Asbestos & Home Renovations

Oct 28, 2022

Asbestos exposure remains the leading cause of work-related deaths in British Columbia (BC). WorkSafeBC – the statutory agency in BC tasked with preventing occupational injury and disease – recently reminded homeowners of their responsibility to protect workers from asbestos exposures: “Homeowners must get their homes tested for asbestos before renovation or demolition work begins… While there are monetary costs associated with asbestos surveying and safe abatement, the human cost of not doing this is far greater.” See: Homeowners have responsibility to protect workers from asbestos exposure: WorkSafeBC.
 

Asbestos Eradication: Update

Oct 28, 2022

On October 25, 2022 Dr Ntuthuko Mahlaba, a Member of the Executive Council of South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal provincial government who is responsible for human settlements and public works, launched the Province’s asbestos roofing eradication program. Under this initiative, asbestos roofing on domestic properties will be replaced; the toxic roofing is mostly found in former black townships built during the apartheid regime and Bantustan homeland governments. Asbestos removal work, which will begin in Estcourt township, will be carried out in Umlazi and KwaMashu in Durban, Mondlo in Vryheid and parts of Mbali township in Pietermaritzburg. See: KwaZulu-Natal launches its asbestos roofing eradication programme, starting in Estcourt.
 

Asbestos in Schools

Oct 28, 2022

The Andalusia branch of the Spanish trade union CCOO has demanded that asbestos be removed from educational buildings “without further delay” as a matter of top priority. At a recent meeting of the Committee for Health and Safety of Andalusian teachers, a spokesperson for the union said that “despite the commitment made by the Andalusian Administration many educational centers still have asbestos in their facilities.” See: CCOO-A exige la retirada "sin más dilaciones" del amianto de centros educativos: "Denota nula preocupación por la salud" [CCOO-A demands the removal “without further delay” of asbestos from educational centers: “Denotes no concern for health”].
 

Asbestos Exposures at Construction Sites

Oct 28, 2022

Claimants who contracted asbestos-related diseases from toxic conditions at Japanese construction sites were joined by community activists, politicians and trade unionists at a meeting held in Tokyo on October 25, 2022. The event was preceded by a public rally in front of the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare and the Ministry of the Environment. During the symposium which followed, speakers considered the progress being made in setting up a government relief fund and expanding benefits available for injured construction workers. Multiple legal actions are ongoing with a verdict expected on November 7 in the Mitsubishi-Nagasaki Shipbuilding Pneumoconiosis and Asbestos Lawsuit. See: ンネルじん肺救済法実現を [Implementation of Construction Pneumoconiosis Relief Law].
 

OxyChem’s Asbestos Crimes

Oct 26, 2022

In a follow-up article to a devastating exposé on the legacy created by the operations of a chlorine plant owned by the OxyChem company (see: They inhaled asbestos for decades on the job. Now, workers break their silence), the environmental and human consequences of toxic fallout from an OxyChem plastics factory have been revealed. Whilst chrysotile (white) asbestos was used in the chlorine production, crocidolite (blue) asbestos was used at the plastics factory. Both fibers are deadly. See: Lawsuits: A Factory Blew Asbestos Into a Neighborhood; Decades Later, Residents Are Getting Sick and Dying.
 

Supreme Court Victim’s Verdict

Oct 26, 2022

The Labor Chamber of the Spanish Supreme Court ordered Bridgestone Hispania SA (formerly Firestone) to pay compensation of €148,746 (US$148,300) for the asbestos death of a former employee. The deceased had worked at the company’s factory in Basauri from 1969 until 2009. During that time, he was negligently exposed to asbestos as a result of which he contracted mesothelioma, the signature asbestos cancer. The Court also ordered that medical check-ups for family members who were exposed to the asbestos fibers brought home on his work clothes be provided by Bridgestone. See: Condenan a Bridgestone a indemnizar a la familia de un trabajador muerto por amianto
 

Asbestos Sector Update

Oct 26, 2022

According to an article from the China News Service, the asbestos mining sector in Qinghai Province, which accounts for one third of the country’s asbestos reserves and has a domestic market share of more than 60%, has “achieved a boom in production and sales.” The 64-year old conglomerate has experienced ups and downs during its history but industrial restructuring, market-oriented operation and mixed ownership reform have stimulated growth. Chrysotile production from January to September 2022 was 22% greater than the same period in 2021; sales also grew by 43%. See: 青海柴达木盆地老矿企三年改革实现“破冰” 产销两旺 [The old mining enterprises in the Qaidam Basin in Qinghai have achieved “breakthroughs” and both production and sales are booming].
 

Waste Management in the Post-War Era

Oct 26, 2022

Campaigners from a non-governmental organization in Kryvyi Rih, the largest city in central Ukraine, have expressed concern over the dangers posed by toxic substances such as asbestos present in the tonnes of construction debris created by the Russian invasion. In a video created by the NGO, basic interim measures for the safe management of waste were outlined. See: Громадські активісти у Кривому Розі привертають увагу до небезпеки будівельного сміття, що утворилось внаслідок обстрілів міста: що з ним робити? [Public activists in Kryvyi Rih draw attention to the danger of construction debris created as a result of shelling].
 

Asbestos Fibers in Drinking Water

Oct 26, 2022

New tests have established that asbestos fibers were present in water which flowed through 28 aqueducts between the Italian cities of Modena and Bologna. The contamination originated from the pipes used to deliver the water which were made of asbestos-cement. The ingestion of these fibers could cause cancers of the biliary tract. According to Giovanni Brandi, Associate Professor in Medical Oncology at the University of Bologna: “we are increasingly convinced of the non-innocence of asbestos fibers ingested in water.” See: Monitoraggio amianto, fibre ancora presenti in 28 acquedotti tra Modena e Bologna [Monitoring of asbestos, fibers still present in 28 aqueducts between Modena and Bologna].
 

Madrid Asbestos Protest

Oct 26, 2022

A demonstration in front of the headquarters of the Spanish Ministry of Culture, which was organized by the Workers' Commissions (Comisiones Obreras, CCOO) – Spain’s largest trade union – took place on October 20, 2022. The workers and union demanded that the Ministry adopt a policy of zero tolerance to asbestos instead of the current policy which was based on periodic measurements that reported “tolerable levels of asbestos.” See: Trabajadores del Ministerio de Cultura protestan ante su sede por el amianto [Workers of the Ministry of Culture protest in front of its headquarters over asbestos].
 

Déjà vu, Again!

Oct 24, 2022

The residents of the Montana town of Libby know all about the deadly repercussions of mining operations. Thousands of residents as well as workers have paid with their health and even their lives for the profits of the vermiculite mining company: W R Grace. Grace employees liberated asbestos fibers as a consequence of their production processes; these toxic fibers wreaked havoc on the people of Libby who contracted a variety of deadly asbestos-related cancers and diseases. The latest health alert in Libby is over selenium in the runoff from coal mines in British Colombia, 125 miles away, which could end up in U.S. lakes and rivers. See: Doubts Downstream.
 

Ministry of Defence: Asbestos Update

Oct 24, 2022

Spain’s Ministry of Defence announced that it had recognized claims from 80 former service personnel with asbestos-related diseases which were, the Ministry agreed, caused by workplace asbestos exposures. The Ministry admitted that asbestos material was widely used in the services and remained present on a number of military bases. This year, the Ministry acknowledged that the 2020 asbestos death of Navy Admiral Francisco Javier González-Huix, who was the Chief of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was categorized as a death in the line of service due to his exposure to asbestos on board Spanish ships and submarines. See: Defensa ha reconocido a 80 militares la contaminación por amianto como acto de servicio [Defense has recognized 80 soldiers for asbestos contamination as an act of service].
 

Victim’s Verdict in Sicily

Oct 24, 2022

The Palermo Court of Appeal upheld a verdict ordering Italy’s National Institute for Occupational Accident Insurance (INAIL) to pay compensation to the family of a worker who had died of lung cancer after having being exposed to asbestos at his workplace over a period of 36 years. INAIL’s lawyers had argued that the victim's smoking history and not hazardous working conditions had caused his illness. The legal battle to achieve this positive outcome had taken six years. See: Operaio morto per amianto, l’Inail condannata a risarcire la moglie [Inail ordered to compensate wife of worker who died due to asbestos].
 

Asbestos Alert in Amagasaki

Oct 24, 2022

Mayor Kazumi Inamura of Amagasaki City, a town at the heart of Japan’s asbestos epidemic, has asked the Minister of Environment Akihiro Nishimura and other members of the government to increase the resources and facilities provided for the support of victims of asbestos-related diseases who had been exposed to asbestos liberated by the operations of the Kubota company’s former Kanzaki Factory. See: アスベスト被害者への支援策、拡充求め緊急要望書 尼崎市長が環境相らに提出 [Mayor of Amagasaki Submits Urgent Request for Expansion of Support Measures for Asbestos Victims to Minister of the Environment].
 

Asbestos in the Sauna

Oct 24, 2022

The virtues of using products containing chrysotile (white) asbestos were reviewed in the article cited below about the best measures for fireproofing Russian saunas. It was noteworthy that during the discussion of this subject there was absolutely no mention of the deadly health hazards posed by the use of asbestos, especially in highly friable material such as asbestos felt mats which were placed “in front of the oven mouth; [so that] random sparks and coals will fall on it, and, therefore, the floor will not catch fire.” See: Правила пожарной безопасности в бане: как подготовиться с умом [Fire safety rules in the bath: how to prepare wisely].
 

Asbestos Eradication Goal

Oct 24, 2022

Spain’s Health and Environment Plan (the plan) announced the Government’s intention to eradicate the asbestos hazard from the country by 2028, 4 years before the European Union deadline of 2032, and to improve the medical care of people diagnosed with asbestos-related diseases (ARDs). Goals specified in the plan included improving measures for treating people with ARDs, establishing a registry of ARDs and introducing protocols to minimize the impact of toxic waste. See: España aspira a adelantarse a la UE y eliminar todo el amianto antes de 2028 [Spain aspires to get ahead of the EU and eliminate all asbestos before 2028].
 

Johnson & Johnson: Update

Oct 21, 2022

As a result of the fall in demand for Johnson & Johnson’s baby powder in India, the company’s largest factory in the country has been sold. In the past, J&J had controlled 70% market share in the baby powder segment in India. This year J&J announced that its talc-based baby powder, which has been found to contain asbestos fibers, will be withdrawal from all global markets in 2023. The factory in Maharashtra, which was completed in 2016, has been off-loaded in a fire sale to the Hetero company, which said it will upgrade the facility and eventually employ 2,000 workers on the site. See: Johnson & Johnson reportedly selling its biggest plant in India over low demand.
 

Asbestos Reality in Chlorine Plant

Oct 21, 2022

The 2021 closure of the chlorine plant in Niagara Falls, owned by the OxyChem company, has emboldened many of the former workers to speak out about the horrific conditions they endured. The narratives, which were collected from scores of workers described the ever-present asbestos dust and lack of effective protective measures, shocked experts who reacted with comments such as “totally unacceptable”; “fraught with danger”; “it sounds like something that maybe would happen in the 1940s or the 1950s.” Even now OxyChem and Olin are contesting efforts by the US government to ban imports of asbestos, claiming it would drastically impact on their companies’ profitability. See: They inhaled asbestos for decades on the job. Now, workers break their silence.
 

Modernization of Asbestos Industry

Oct 21, 2022

The puff piece cited below praised the ongoing transformation of the Russian asbestos industry, detailing opportunities offered by the Western sanctions imposed upon Russia to develop domestic markets for asbestos-containing building products. A diversification of the product range to offer more colors, finishes and textures has increased consumers’ choice, making chrysotile building material ever more popular in CIS countries: “In addition to private companies, chrysotile cement is actively used in capital repair programs and repair of the country's infrastructure.” See: Хризотилцементная промышленность: трансформация ради будущего [Chrysotile cement industry: transformation for the future].
 

Municipal Asbestos Law Upheld

Oct 21, 2022

According to a Special Body of the Court of Justice of São Paulo, a law adopted by Jundiaí City that regulated the collection of asbestos-containing construction debris and equipment was constitutional. The law did not, the Court ruled, countermand federal or state legislation: “Municipalities have common competence, together with the other entities of the Federation, to protect the environment and combat pollution in any of its forms… and also legislate on matters of local interest and supplement federal and state legislation, as appropriate.” See: Lei municipal que prevê recolhimento de amianto é constitucional, diz TJ-SP [Municipal law that provides for asbestos collection is constitutional, says TJ-SP].
 

Asbestos Death & the Railways

Oct 21, 2022

Another worker from the railway workshop (OGR) in Bologna has died from mesothelioma, nine months after he had been diagnosed with the signature asbestos cancer. Eighty-four year old Nino Dall'Olio had been exposed to asbestos during his employment as a sheet metal body builder. Commenting on this tragedy, Simonetta Saliera, former President of Legislative Assembly of Emilia-Romagna, said that Dall'Olio's death was “a new piece in a tragedy that reminds us every day of the importance of always fighting for workers' rights and health in the workplace.” See: La strage dell’amianto: morto un altro ex operaio Ogr [The massacre of asbestos: another former OGR worker dies].
 

Unions Call for Stricter Controls

Oct 21, 2022

Europe’s “wave of green renovation” combined with the EU’s failure to impose strict enough limits on occupational exposures will almost inevitably result in many more avoidable deaths from toxic workplace exposures to asbestos. Recent proposals by the European Commission would decrease permitted occupational exposure to asbestos from 100,000 to 10,000 fibres per cubic metre (f/m3). This new limit would still be ten times as high as that recommended in 2021 by the European Parliament, and supported by the trade unions, of 1,000f/m3. In Holland the limit is already 2000f/m3. See: Asbestos: eradicating the hidden killer.
 

Asbestos Crimes in Jundiai

Oct 19, 2022

On October 17, 2022, the Brazilian Association of the Asbestos-Exposed (ABREA) sent a complaint to the Labor Public Ministry (MPT) about non-compliance with health and safety regulations during demolition activities carried out by workers employed by Jundiai municipality, a city in the state of São Paulo. As a result of the illegal flouting of regulations, workers and members of the public were being exposed to asbestos fibers. See: Denúncia enviada, pela ABREA, ao MPT para que sejam tomadas medidas a respeito do descumprimento do Anexo 12 da NR-15, em obra realizada pela Prefeitura Municipal de Jundiaí [Complaint sent by ABREA to the MPT so that measures can be taken regarding non-compliance with Annex 12 of NR-15, in a work carried out by the Municipality of Jundiaí].
 

Asbestos in Scottish Hospitals

Oct 19, 2022

Data gathered as a result of Freedom of Information requests to Scottish health boards established that 52% of their buildings contained asbestos. Whilst the figure for NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde was 60%, that for NHS Lothian was 92%. According to the Scottish Government: “We recognise the hazard of asbestos and the risks to health it poses, however asbestos is only dangerous when disturbed which is why it is important it remains in-situ while it is in ‘good’ condition, and that all Health and Safety Executive guidance is followed when planning and carrying out any removal…NHS England has found that over 90% of their buildings checked in the last three years have been found to have asbestos-containing material.” See: Asbestos: More than half of Scotland's NHS buildings contain potentially deadly dust.
 

Post-Asbestos Era

Oct 19, 2022

As Ukraine embraces a post-asbestos era, traditional and new technologies are being explored to develop asbestos-free measures for insulating domestic properties. Inventor Vasily Smerklo has been producing thermal insulation panels made from reeds using skills he learned in the Netherlands making reed roofing. Technical aspects of this process were discussed in the article cited below. See: Поможет согреть дом в самую суровую зиму: украинец предлагает утеплять жилища необычным и экологичным материалом [It will help to warm the house in the most severe winter: Ukrainian offers to insulate dwellings with unusual and environmentally friendly material].
 

Asbestos and Urban Transformation

Oct 19, 2022

The huge pace of urban transformation in Turkey continues, with questions being asked about the negative impact on the population of failures to implement health and safety measures. The ubiquity of asbestos material in buildings being demolished necessitates the use of special precautions under expert supervision and in accordance with strict guidelines. Without this, asbestos fibers can be liberated and become a danger to demolition and construction workers as well as local people. See: Kentsel dönüşüm ve çevre sağlığı [Urban transformation and environmental health].
 

Calls for Asbestos Archive

Oct 19, 2022

With more than 5,000 deaths from asbestos-related diseases in the Piedmont region to date, Italian scientists are calling for a centralized effort to collate data and documents and establish an asbestos archive for researchers. According to author Alberto Gaino: “It is widely believed that asbestos is a residual phenomenon, but it is still destined to worsen. Although it has been banned, disposal and reclamation is slow and it is expected that until the end of this century it will be a problem.” See: Amianto, incubo infinito 300 tumori l’anno e picco ancora lontano [Asbestos, an endless nightmare of 300 cancers a year and a distant peak].
 

Asbestos Awareness and Expertise

Oct 19, 2022

Building capacity and ensuring compliance with stricter Japanese asbestos regulations that came into force in October 2022 are core goals of the Tokyo-based Nextage Group. The company will offer: the services of asbestos surveyors; study sessions on asbestos; and specialist training for operatives wishing to gain certification as asbestos surveyors. See: ネクステージグループ/調査受託から人材育成まで/アスベスト新規制対応の新サービス提供開始(2022年10月13日号) [Nextage Group / From Investigation Commission to Human Resource Development / Start of New Service Offerings in Response to New Regulations on Asbestos (October 13, 2022 issue)].
 

Asbestos Crime & Punishment

Oct 17, 2022

The English version of a 36-page March 2022 decision by the Norwegian Appeal Court was last week uploaded to the website of the Platform on Clean Shipbreaking. The verdict was categorical about the crime committed by businessman Georg Eide who had attempted to illegally export the asbestos-contaminated Tide Carrier (later renamed the Harrier) to Gadani, Pakistan for dismantling. The Court unanimously ordered that the defendant serve six months in jail and pay a fine of NOK10,000 (US$940). The company Eide Marine Eiendom AS was fined NOK2,000,000 (US$188,000). See: Norwegian Appeal Court decision (translated into English) in the case against Georg Eide.
 

Compensation Uplift for Asthma Sufferer

Oct 17, 2022

It was reported on October 13, 2022 that in a unanimous decision Brazil’s Superior Labor Court increased from R$15,000 (US$2815) to R$80,000 (US$15,000) compensation awarded to a quality inspector for a friction materials company who had been exposed to asbestos at work and as a result developed asthma. The claimant’s lawyer had argued for compensation of R$317,000 (US$59,000) which included both physical and moral damages. The Indaiatuba Labor Court had awarded the worker R$300,000 (US$56,300) but the Regional Labor Court of the 15th Region had reduced this amount to R$15,000. See: Turma aumenta indenização a inspetor que desenvolveu asma brônquica por exposição ao amianto [Increased compensation award to inspector who developed bronchial asthma from asbestos exposure].
 

Asbestos Legacy in Built Environment

Oct 17, 2022

The author of the Russian language commentary cited below, which was uploaded to a Lithuanian news portal last week, highlighted the hazard posed by asbestos material remaining in the built environment. Irena Tarashkeviciene, from the National Center for Public Health, wrote: “asbestos was used to insulate pipes and insulate sockets, so it can still remain in old houses. The same thing with the roofs of houses: roofing tiles were was made from the same asbestos.” Drilling and handling of the toxic materials can release carcinogenic fibers into the atmosphere. See: Старое и новое жилье: разницу видят и строители и специалисты в сфере здравоохранения [Old and new housing: the difference can be seen by both builders and healthcare professionals].
 

Asbestos in Drinking Water

Oct 17, 2022

A brief global review by Italian researchers from the University of Bologna published this month examining state-of-the-art knowledge about the asbestos hazard in drinking water concluded that: “the issue of asbestos in the water remains open and that it has been closed too quickly, not applying (imprudently) a precautionary principle. The resolution of the European Parliament of 14th March 2013, which urges the EU to monitor asbestos in drinking water and the potential health risks, has however shown that politics (at least for once) has proven more sensitive than academics in protecting public health.” See: Is drinking water safe? A neglected source of asbestos fibres.
 

Brazilian Ghost Ship

Oct 17, 2022

In the article cited below, Brazilian journalist João Lara Mesquita wrote that the former aircraft carrier the São Paulo was a “new ghost ship” with a “cursed” fate. The actions of the various stakeholders in the “pantomime” to export the toxic vessel were detailed at some length with particular attention paid to decisions made by the Brazilian Navy and the Turkish shipyard company Sök Denizcilik. In a publication released on October 6, the Navy claimed that its decision-making regarding the fate of the São Paulo had taken into account international protocols and national regulations. See: Um porta-aviões fantasma a vagar em alto-mar [A phantom aircraft carrier roaming the high seas].
 

Clydebank’s Asbestos History

Oct 17, 2022

A book entitled “Asbestos and Clydebank” was released last week to mark the 30th anniversary of a charity working to support workers and families affected by asbestos-related diseases (ARDs). The publication by the Clydebank Asbestos Group (CAG) contained interviews with former shipbuilders and tradesmen who contracted ARDs as a result of toxic workplace exposures. According to CAG Co-ordinator Rachel Gallagher: “West Dunbartonshire has frequently topped national tables for asbestos-disease, undoubtedly due to past shipbuilding and heavy industry, but it affects all of Scotland.” See: Asbestos victims share first-hand accounts of substance's devastating impact in new book.
 

Toxic Baby Powder Banned

Oct 15, 2022

In a statement dated October 7, 2022 and emailed on October 11, Zimbabwe’s Ministry of Health and Child Care announced that the import of Tiger Brands’ baby-powder products would be banned in Zimbabwe one month after South Africa had recalled these items from sale due to asbestos contamination. The banned products include: Purity Essentials Baby Powder and Purity & Elizabeth Anne’s Essentials Baby Powder in 100g, 200g and 400g containers. The Ministry ordered that all of these products already in the country should be withdrawn from sale. See: Government bans baby powders that cause cancer in children.
 

Exposé: National Disgrace

Oct 15, 2022

Hundreds of people with the asbestos-related cancer mesothelioma are missing out on compensation, according to data accumulated by the Health and Safety Executive and reported in the October 2022 issue of Hazards Magazine. UK mesothelioma compensation claims fell by 11% from 2,471 in 2011/12 to 2,204 in 2021/22 despite the fact that there were 8% more mesothelioma deaths in 2020 (2,544) than in 2010 (2,347). According to the article in Hazards: “The UK’s system to compensate people who suffer occupational injuries or diseases as a result of their employer’s negligence has been critically and deliberately damaged by the Conservatives…” See: WORTH LESS| Conservatives are burying compensation and prevention.
 

Asbestos Debate at EU Parliament

Oct 15, 2022

Asbestos proposals by the European Commission to protect workers and members of the public from toxic exposures will be considered by the European Parliament on October 20, 2022. If/when the directive is adopted, Member States will have two years to implement national legislation. Every year, occupational asbestos exposures claim the lives of 70,000+ Europeans. Plans to update hundreds of millions of EU homes and buildings will require workers to remediate asbestos-containing properties. The increasingly stricter workplace regulations are designed to create safer working conditions. See: Le nuove misure dell'Ue per limitare i danni alla salute dell'amianto [The new EU measures to limit damage to health by asbestos].
 

Mesothelioma Treatment: Update

Oct 15, 2022

The article cited below was published online on October 8, 2022 in the Journal of Cancer Metastasis and Treatment by Italian researchers. The paper considered the revolution in the treatment of malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM): “In the last years, the therapeutic scenario of different tumor types, including MPM, has dramatically changed due to immune checkpoint inhibition. The promising results of this approach have promoted new efforts into clinical research, and many trials investigating novel therapeutic combinations are currently ongoing.” See: Immunotherapy in malignant pleural mesothelioma: a long story ended in success.
 

Asbestos Legacy at Wittenoom

Oct 15, 2022

The traditional owners of the biggest asbestos-contaminated site in the southern hemisphere – the Banjima people – have reignited the debate over the thorny issue of Wittenoom, Western Australia, a town so contaminated by decades of asbestos mining that the state government has virtually closed it down. Neither the state nor the federal government has ever committed to remediating the toxic 46,000 hectares which, says Banjima elder Maitland Parker, is “not only destroying country, but … our beliefs and our culture and everything else that goes with it.” See: Traditional owners reignite debate on stalled plans to clean up asbestos waste at Wittenoom.
 

Asbestos Waste Service

Oct 15, 2022

A municipal initiative in the capital of Lithuania will be operational seven days a week to help prevent fly-tipping by allowing homeowners free collections of asbestos-containing building debris and products. Applications must be made to the town hall and must specify basic details, including the type of waste and amount to be collected. See: В Вильнюсе будут бесплатно собирать отходы, содержащие асбест [Vilnius to collect waste containing asbestos free of charge].
 

Asbestos Alert to Homeowners

Oct 14, 2022

An article on a news portal in Mordova, a Russian region, ranked asbestos as the most hazardous construction material in a list of the top 10 dangerous materials for homeowners to avoid. Considering the censorship on negative publicity about asbestos in Russia, the world’s largest asbestos producer, the fact that the warning was issued was most unusual. According to the text: “Asbestos is one of the most powerful carcinogens. Prolonged inhalation of its particles is fraught with the development of not only inflammatory processes in the respiratory system, but also malignant tumors.” See: Качественный ремонт или как выбрать безопасные для здоровья стройматериалы [High-quality repairs or how to choose building materials that are safe for health].
 

Roadmap to Asbestos Ban

Oct 14, 2022

During comments made to a meeting in the Cambodian capital on October 4, 2022 to launch the National Asbestos Profile, Labour Minister Ith Samheng confirmed his government’s intention to ban the use of asbestos to protect the health not only of workers but also members of the public. The Minister said that he was working with other ministries and stakeholders to end the use of asbestos at construction sites. Amongst the other speakers who addressed the delegates were medical expert Dr Quach Mengly and ILO National Coordinator in Cambodia Tun Sophoan. The event was co-organized by the Ministry, the ILO/OSH Japan Programme and Australia’s Union Aid Abroad (APHEDA). See: Government wants to end use of asbestos.
 

Impending Asbestos Ban

Oct 14, 2022

The Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) of Taiwan last week announced that the import of asbestos-containing products would be banned as of May 2023, as part of the Government’s efforts to protect the population from toxic exposures. As of now, asbestos material can only be used in Taiwan for educational, experimental and research purposes. In 2021, 0.11 kilograms of asbestos was imported; so far this year, 16.82 grams of asbestos material has been imported. See: Imports of products containing asbestos banned from May 2023: EPA.
 

São Paulo Blame Game

Oct 14, 2022

The scandal over illegal plans to export Brazil’s former flagship to Turkey is growing with accusations and denials being spouted by key actors. On October 6, the Navy issued a document claiming that much of the asbestos that had been on the vessel had been removed and that even if it hadn’t, the asbestos on board was not hazardous. Another high-profile article published the same day reported that the Pernambuco Environment Agency had refused permission for the ship to dock at the Port of Suape over environmental concerns. See: Marinha do Brasil diz que amianto presente no casco do NAe São Paulo não oferece riscos [Brazilian Navy says that asbestos present in the hull of the NAe São Paulo poses no risks].
 

Protest in Barrow!

Oct 14, 2022

On October 15, 2022, campaigners will be holding a demonstration in front of Barrow town hall to protest at plans by the Department of Work and Pensions to close a benefits center and reassign 40 members of staff specializing in the handling of industrial injuries claims, such as those submitted by sufferers of asbestos-related diseases. Asbestos victim support groups are concerned that the closure could result in delays to the processing of claims submitted by gravely ill patients. Without government benefits, it is likely people would die “without being able to afford care and heating.” See: Protest to take place in fight to save 40 jobs in Barrow.
 

Global Asbestos Panorama 2022

Oct 14, 2022

The article cited below, which appeared in Volume 23, Issue 10 of the October 2022 edition of The Lancet Oncology, reported the latest data on the global epidemic of mesothelioma, the signature cancer associated with asbestos exposure. Having considered various subjects such as mesothelioma carcinogenesis and prevention, and emerging medical treatments, the authors highlighted the part played by the asbestos industry lobby in frustrating efforts to protect global populations from deadly exposures. In the opinion of the authors. a worldwide asbestos ban was crucial to eradicate asbestos-related diseases. See: The silent malignant mesothelioma epidemic: a call to action.
 

Victory in Madrid for Asbestos Victims

Oct 8, 2022

On October 5, 2022, the Spanish Senate approved a law to establish a national fund to compensate asbestos victims. The Fund, which will be operated by the National Social Security Institute, has been allocated a budget of €25 million (US$24.7m) to provide payouts to victims of occupational, environmental and domestic exposures. According to government data [see also: Amianto, una negra historia [Asbestos, a black history]], 700 people contract mesothelioma every year, with many cases of other asbestos cancers and respiratory diseases going unrecognized. See: Luz verde a la ley que indemnizará los envenenamientos por amianto [Green light for the law that will compensate for asbestos poisoning].
 

Post-War Reconstruction

Oct 8, 2022

In an article earlier this month, Ukrainian politician Olena Shuliak discussed her Government’s plans to reconstruct the country’s infrastructure respecting EU norms. “European standards are,” she said “not only about modern architecture. They pay a lot of attention to environmental safety. For example, the Council recently legally banned the use of asbestos in construction. We overcame a frantic lobby, including that of Russian companies, to get rid of this harmful carcinogenic material.” Techniques for dealing with asbestos-containing debris are currently under investigation. See: Олена Шуляк: Відбудова інфраструктури України враховуватиме екологічну безпеку [Olena Shulyak: Reconstruction of Ukraine's infrastructure will take environmental safety into account].
 

Asbestos Outreach Project

Oct 8, 2022

In Italy, as in other countries, rates of asbestos cancer and respiratory diseases vary from region to region. The port city of La Spezia in the Liguria Region is an asbestos hotspot. In 2018, an agreement was signed between the Government and the Region to implement a health surveillance protocol for at-risk workers. Unfortunately, during the Covid pandemic, this program was suspended. The Regional Coordination Committee has committed this month to restarting this vital program as a matter of urgency. See: Sorveglianza ex esposti amianto, Medusei: “Soglia di attenzione resti alta e si riattivi il protocollo sanitario” [Surveillance of those who have been exposed to asbestos, [Medusei?]: "Attention threshold remains high and the health protocol is reactivated”].
 

Asbestos Countermeasures

Oct 8, 2022

To help protect citizens of the Brazilian municipality of Florianópolis from hazardous exposures to asbestos, a substance banned in Santa Catarina state by Municipal Law number 10.607/2019 and in all Brazil by a 2017 Supreme Court decision, an asbestos workshop was organized by the Research Institution for Occupational Health: Fundacentro at which Italian engineer Alessia Angelini discussed technical aspects of her country’s fight against asbestos. See: Florianópolis discute os perigos do amianto e a Lei Municipal que proíbe o uso do material [Florianópolis discusses the dangers of asbestos and the Municipal Law that prohibits the use of the material].
 

Ending Asbestos Use

Oct 8, 2022

In order to protect public and workers’ health, regulations are being put in place in Vietnam to strictly control and minimize the use of chrysotile (white) asbestos in building products, with a view to adopting a comprehensive ban by 2030. Throughout Asia, asbestos use is decreasing, with national bans in Japan and Korea. In China, the use of asbestos-cement boards decreased by more than 70% between 2006 and 2021. According to a government spokesperson: “In the future, our country [Vietnam] must innovate technology, use fibers that are safe for human health to replace chrysotile fibers…” See: Hướng đến phát triển vật liệu lợp “nói không” với amiăng trắng [Towards the development of roofing materials that “say no” to chrysotile].
 

Asbestos on the Railways

Oct 8 2022

A paper published in the October 2022 issue of the Journal of Occupational Medicine by Italian researchers reconstructed the levels of asbestos exposure for a cohort of railway rolling stock workers in the absence of historical environmental monitoring data. The job/exposure matrix levels were calculated based on company production and asbestos consumption data. The cohort was composed of operatives who had applied sprayed asbestos insulation between 1956 and 1979 in railway workshops. Thirty workers and one family member with mesothelioma were identified. See: Past Asbestos Exposure in Rolling Stock Manufacturing in the Absence of Environmental Monitoring: An Original Method.
 

Mesothelioma Data from Insurers’ Database

Oct 6, 2022

The 2021 Annual Report of the Employers’ Liability Tracing Office, which operates an insurance industry database “to give claimants easy access to their employer’s liability insurance data,” noted that of the 70,740 successful claims responded to in 2021, 7,062 enquiries were made by people who had contracted the asbestos cancer mesothelioma. Whilst the search enquiry success rate for all claimants was 91.9%, the success rate for mesothelioma enquiries was 79.9%. Mesothelioma and asbestosis were ranked number 2 & 3 respectively in the top 10 disease types of claimant search enquiries. See: Employers’ Liability Tracing Office: 2021 Annual Report.
 

Asbestos Schizophrenia

Oct 6, 2022

At the same time as Brazil’s former asbestos giant Eternit S.A. is fighting a rear-guard battle at the Supreme Court to overturn the country’s 2017 asbestos ban, it is also progressing the company’s transition to asbestos-free technology. The article cited below updated markets on Eternit’s development of asbestos-free concrete tiles that generate solar energy as part of the Eternit commitment to a sustainable and greener corporate future. Eternit claims that installation of the tiles can cut electricity bills by up to 90%. See: Economia de luz e melhor para a saúde: conheça a 1ª telha solar do Brasil [Energy saving and better for health: discover the 1st solar tile in Brazil].
 

Asbestos Exposure in the Navy

Oct 6, 2022

After years of judicial setbacks, it was announced last week that the Court of Torre Annunziata had condemned Italy’s Ministry of Defense and Ministry of the Interior for their responsibility for the 2017 mesothelioma death of 69-year-old naval engineer Mario La Rocca. The verdict recognized that his fatal cancer had been caused by daily toxic exposures during his military service and awarded his widow a monthly pension as well as a lump sum payment of €350,000 (US$343,000). See: Amianto killer sulle navi, ministeri Difesa e Interno condannati per la morte di Mario La Rocca [Killer asbestos on ships, defense and interior ministries condemned for the death of Mario La Rocca].
 

Asbestos Propaganda 2022

Oct 6, 2022

An infomercial, camouflaged as an article, advanced asbestos industry propaganda extolling the virtues of chrysotile (white) asbestos mined in Russia over other types of asbestos. The author, reviewing Russian automotive markets in light of Western boycotts over the invasion of Ukraine, concluded that domestic car production and automotive parts made with Russian asbestos would suffice for consumer demand, alleging that “this mineral… does not pose a threat to both human health and the environment.” See: Почему в России нет проблем с тормозными колодками и кому спасибо за это? [Why are there are no problems with brake pads in Russia and who should we thank for that?].
 

Asbestos at the Ministry

Oct 6, 2022

A Madrid protest is being organized for October 20, 2022 by the CCOO trade union to highlight the presence of asbestos material at the headquarters of Spain’s Ministry of Culture and Sports. According to a union communique, some asbestos was removed from the building but only from the fifth floor where the office of Minister Miquel Iceta was located. The union is demanding that all the toxic material be eradicated from the building to protect the health of all employees and building users. See: Trabajadores del ministerio de Cultura anuncian movilizaciones por la presencia de amianto en el edificio [Ministry of Culture workers announce mobilizations due to the presence of asbestos in the building].
 

Asbestos Found on Conservation Site

Oct 6, 2022

It was reported by the Environment Protection Authority of the Australian State of Victoria that asbestos and other industrial waste had been found in a conservation area in Melbourne. The site in Truganina had contained an endangered eco-system and was home to some of the last remaining native grasslands in the state. The owner of the conservation site Centreland Agriculture blamed the contamination on a contractor who had dumped toxic soil on the property without the owner’s knowledge or approval. See: Asbestos and industrial waste found at conservation area meant to protect Victoria's grasslands.
 

Making Europe Asbestos-Free!

Oct 3, 2022

Last week, the European Commission presented its roadmap to “better protect people and the environment from asbestos and ensure an asbestos-free future.” The multi-pronged approach called on EU institutions, Member States, social partners and stakeholders to make the eradication of asbestos contamination a priority objective in order to protect current and future generations. Amongst the measures proposed were: better communication about the asbestos hazard, improved diagnosis and treatment protocols, new technology for safer asbestos removal and disposal and stricter regulations to limit workplace exposures. See: Commission acts to better protect people from asbestos and ensure an asbestos-free future.
 

Mesothelioma Update

Oct 3, 2022

On September 29, 2022, it was announced that the Federal Drugs Administration – the US agency responsible for protecting public health by ensuring the safety of medicines and biological products and the safety of the nation's food etc. – had granted orphan drug designation to SynKIR-110, a type of T-cell therapy, for the treatment of a type of mesothelioma. Preclinical studies had shown that SynKIR-110 could produce remissions in mouse models of glioblastoma and mesothelioma. See: FDA grants orphan drug designation to CAR-T for mesothelioma.
 

European Commission Proposals: Critique

Oct 3, 2022

Proposals announced on September 28, 2022 by the European Commission to lower asbestos exposure limits to 0.01 fibres/cm3 and not 0.001 fibres/cm3 as the European Parliament had supported in 2021 were condemned by workers’ groups, with Claes-Mikael Stahl, European Trade Union Confederation Deputy General saying: “European limits on asbestos exposure are dangerously high and put thousands of workers, particularly those in construction, at risk of developing cancer every year…Unfortunately, the Commission have sided with business lobbyists over science in proposing a limit which would still leave many workers exposed to asbestos and at risk of developing cancer. People’s lives should always come before profit.” See: New EU asbestos limit still leaves workers’ lives at risk.
 

Victory in the Battle of the São Paulo

Oct 3, 2022

A press release issued on September 28, 2022 by a coalition of Turkish, Brazilian and European civil society groups broadcast the news that the former Brazilian flagship called the São Paulo would shortly return to Brazilian waters after a fruitless return journey of ~12,500 miles (20,000 km) to Turkey. The Brazilian authorities had auctioned the vessel and the new owners had received permission to scrap it in Turkey ignoring international treaties and protocols. After the Turkish Government rescinded permission for the ship to enter the country, the Brazilian authorities ordered it to return to Rio de Janeiro. See: Toxic aircraft carrier São Paulo rejected by Turkey returning to Brazil.
 

Asbestos Hazard: Alert

Oct 3, 2022

The legacy of asbestos mining in Quebec remains a hazard to local people according to a new TV documentary which showed footage of huge mountains of asbestos waste dominating the landscape of the town of Val-des-Sources, formerly called Asbestos, in the Estrie administrative region of Quebec. According to epidemiological data, the inhabitants of Val-des-Sources are four times as likely to contract an asbestos-related disease as other Canadians. Tests undertaken by researchers for the program documented high levels of asbestos contamination of the river at the foot of the piles of tailings. See: Estrie: les dangers encore bien présents de l’amiante [Estrie: the still very present dangers of asbestos].
 

Call for Improved Information Services

Oct 3, 2022

An article uploaded on September 28, 2022 reported that a dossier submitted to the Minister for Environment and Climate Action Lily D'Ambrosio by the Latrobe Valley Asbestos Taskforce in the Australian State of Victoria had recommended establishing “a central body to handle concerns about asbestos.” According to the Chair of the Taskforce Jane Anderson: “People don't know where to go for help, and so they can't readily access the information needed… There is no clear line of authority, and it is very concerning that across all sectors of the community, the real impacts and risks of asbestos exposure are not fully understood.” See: Call to establish Victorian asbestos body.
 

Asbestos Outreach Project

Sep 30, 2022

An asbestos outreach project – Health in Bom Jesus da Serra – was undertaken by students and staff from the State University of Southwestern Bahia (UESB), Brazil to evaluate the effects of asbestos exposure on residents of Bom Jesus da Serra, a former asbestos mining town in the Brazilian state of Bahia. A variety of tests were carried out on 60 participants, including spirometry, dynamometry, bioimpedance, mobility and flexibility tests, 6-minute walking tests, measurement of cranial compliance and anthropometric assessment; sleep quality and quality of life questionnaires were completed. See: Projetos da Uesb avaliam efeitos da exposição ao amianto em moradores de Bom Jesus da Serra [UESB projects evaluate the effects of exposure to asbestos on residents of Bom Jesus da Serra].
 

Asbestos in Buenos Aires Schools

Sep 30, 2022

The city government of Argentina’s capital has been called “irresponsible and reckless” by Buenos Aires Councillor Cosme Herranz for its failure to have actioned plans to remove asbestos material from the schools CEIP Villar Palasí and the CEIP Maestro Tarazona. Planning for asbestos eradication at the schools had been ongoing since 2017 and, said the Councillor, the delays by the Ministry of Education were “unjustifiable.” When Councillor Herranz asked about the reasons for the delays, he was told that the receipt of funding from the Ministry for the work had been delayed; as a result, the decontamination will be carried out next summer (2023). See: IP exige la retirada «inmediata» del amianto existente en dos centros escolares de la ciudad [IP demands the "immediate" removal of existing asbestos in two schools in the city].
 

Recognition of Veteran’s Asbestos Death

Sep 30, 2022

In a legal breakthrough on September 26, 2022 Korean Judge Lee Tae-young of the Daejeon District Court 1st Administrative Unit reversed a decision which had barred the family of a 56-year-old military officer from receiving compensation for his death from the asbestos cancer mesothelioma and recognized that this disease had been directly caused by asbestos exposures which had taken place during his 30 years of military service. The Veterans Affairs Office did not appeal. Commenting on the outcome of the litigation, the family’s lawyer said that more cases of servicemen with asbestos cancer were likely to occur in the future. See: 석면 노출 30년 만에 숨진 장교, 법원 “공무상 재해” [Death of officer after 30 years of asbestos exposure, officially ruled as “accident” by court].
 

New Asbestos Documentary

Sep 30, 2022

On September 22, 2022, the premiere of a French TV documentary took place on ARTE, a European public service channel dedicated to culture. The 92 minute program by directors Thomas Dandois and Alexandre Spalaïkovich is available online until November 18, 2022 and can be viewed in French, English, German, Spanish, Italian and Polish. The film-makers took a global perspective on the production, marketing and use of asbestos, investigating examples of damage done to workers and members of the public in a number of countries, including France, Spain, Germany, Canada, India, Bangladesh etc. It was a tragic tale but very well told. See: Asbestos – The Never-Ending Story.
 

Asbestos Awareness: Update

Sep 30, 2022

Researchers investigating the level of asbestos awareness of the population of the Caribbean islands of St. Kitts and Nevis established that 70% of the residents were concerned about the effects of asbestos exposures on the public and agreed that the government should take action to prevent these exposures. Fifty-four percent of the 1,009 people surveyed were in favor of banning the use and import of all asbestos products and materials; those with higher levels of asbestos knowledge were more likely to favor a total ban. See: Asbestos awareness among the residents of St. Kitts and Nevis: a cross-sectional study.
 

Clean-up of Toxic Island Site

Sep 30, 2022

Work to clean up more than 15,000 tons of construction waste at an illegal dumpsite was begun on September 21, 2022 by Palma City Council in Son Güells, a neighborhood on the Spanish island of Mallorca; it was estimated that the clean-up would take two months. Contained amongst the 15,000 tonnes of construction waste are up to 60 tonnes of asbestos material. The City Council will recoup the one million euros the decontamination will cost from the landowner who allowed the illegal dumping to take place. See: Cort limpia Son Güells con el temor de encontrar amianto [Cort to clean Son Güells [dumpsite] fearing to find asbestos].
 

Congratulations to Dr Melvin Chin!

Sep 28, 2022

On September 8, 2022 Dr Melvin Chin presented his PhD thesis at the University of Western Australia. Dr Chin is a treating oncologist at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital; he was sponsored to undertake his research by the Asbestos Diseases Society of Australia (ADSA) under its PhD Mesothelioma Medical Scholarship Program. Having been awarded the inaugural ADSA scholarship in 2017, Dr Chin has progressed efforts to help mesothelioma patients make more informed decisions regarding their treatment options and provide support for both patients as well as families. See: Meet Dr Melvin Chin – The Inaugural Recipient of the ADSA PhD Medical Research Scholarship.
 

Posthumous Legal Victory

Sep 28, 2022

In a decision handed down by Judge Beatrice Marrani of the Court of Velletri, Italy’s National Institute for Insurance against Accidents at Work (INAIL) was ordered to compensate the family of forklift driver Giovanni Panariello for his cancer death in 2017 after it had been proved that his demise at aged 66 had been caused by occupational asbestos exposures. The deceased had removed asbestos from railway carriages. The amount awarded included a lump sum of €110,000 (US$ 106,500) plus a widow's pension of €2,000 a month. See: Operaio muore di mesotelioma: rimuoveva amianto dalle carrozze ferroviarie [Worker dies of mesothelioma: he removed asbestos from railway carriages].
 

Asbestos Roofing and Water Collection

Sep 28, 2022

The lack of clean drinking water in coastal regions of Bangladesh is a serious problem. Local people often harvest rainwater from their asbestos-cement roofs for domestic use. The lung cancer contracted by a schoolteacher from Gabura, Bangladesh has been linked to her practice of drinking water collected by this method for more than 13 years. Climate change researchers have developed a technology to harvest the rainwater safely using a concrete base, a polyplastic tank with a low-cost cloth or other filtration device, and pipe fittings which are attached to the tank's roof. See: For safe consumption, rainwater needs proper harvesting.
 

Asbestos Ban: Update

Sep 28, 2022

As plans to outlaw asbestos use in Sri Lanka were advancing in 2017, the Russian Government announced it would ban imports of Sri Lanka tea. At that time, Russia was the largest importer of Ceylon tea – 48 and 36 million kilograms in 2011 and 2015, respectively; in 2016, Sri Lanka tea exports to Russia were valued at US$143 million. Most of the asbestos fiber in Sri Lanka comes from Russia. As a result of the threat, Sri Lanka postponed asbestos prohibitions. An article published last week, reported that the Sri Lanka had decided to stop using asbestos by 2029. No further information was available. See: Colombo ready to join Russian payment system.
 

Asbestos Memorial

Sep 28, 2022

A commentary published on September 21, 2022 on a Canadian news portal set into context the new Asbestos Memorial in downtown Vancouver which is a public recognition of the “thousands of workers poisoned and killed by this deadly substance.” Sculptor Douglas R. Taylor and playwright John MacLachlan Gray who created the silver-coloured mobile sculpture attended the September 22 dedication ceremony. Exposures to asbestos cause one-third of all occupationally-caused deaths in Canada. It is noteworthy that the article cited below failed to mention that the asbestos which killed these workers was mined in Canada and was exported around the world. See: Joey Hartman: New memorial reminds us that although asbestos is banned, it’s still killing people.
 

Resumption of Asbestos Murder Trial

Sep 28, 2022

On September 21, 2022, criminal proceedings against asbestos billionaire Stephen Schmidheiny resumed in the Court of Novara, Italy after the long summer break in proceedings. Hours were spent in discussing basic facts such as: when the “guilty workplace exposures” of the 392 victims took place, the nature and symptoms of mesothelioma and how individual cases of mesothelioma were diagnosed. Defendants’ witnesses extrapolated on their views regarding the body’s ability to clear asbestos fibers from the lungs. See: All’Eternit Bis sull’amianto «c’è un’evidente incertezza» [At the Eternit Bis asbestos trial “there is a clear uncertainty”].
 

More Cancers Officially Linked to Asbestos

Sep 26, 2022

On September 19, 2022, the French National Health Security Agency confirmed that “some cancers of the larynx and ovaries are indeed linked to exposure to asbestos” and that these two cancers were generally “under-reported and under-recognized.” The Institute for Public Health Surveillance (forerunner of Public Health France) and other international organizations such as the United Nations’ International Center for Research on Cancer had recognized the asbestos link with cancers of the larynx or ovaries several years ago. See: Les autorités sanitaires confirment le lien entre l'exposition à l'amiante et certains cancers du larynx et des ovaires [Health authorities confirm link between asbestos exposure and certain laryngeal and ovarian cancers].
 

Holding Johnson & Johnson to Account

Sep 26, 2022

On September 19, 2022, a three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in Philadelphia heard arguments that Johnson and Johnson (J&J) had callously dumped 40,000 cancer cases, claiming potential bankruptcy, despite the fact that it was one of the country’s biggest companies. The claimants – the majority were women – accused J&J of selling baby powder contaminated with asbestos fibers. It is not known when the court ruling will be handed down; any verdict is likely to be appealed to the Supreme Court. See: J&J tried to block lawsuits from 40,000 cancer patients. A court wants answers.
 

Long Tail Asbestos Legacy

Sep 26, 2022

Despite having been banned in Italy for 30 years, the widespread historic use of asbestos remains a serious public and occupational health hazard. The commentary cited below considered the multiplicity of issues generated by the contamination, including: ongoing deadly human exposures; the national epidemic of asbestos-related diseases and cancers; the slow process of asbestos remediation of the built environment; alternatives for asbestos disposal; and other issues. See: Edifici contaminate In Italia il problema dell’amianto rimane irrisolto [Contaminated buildings in Italy – the asbestos problem remains unresolved].
 

Asbestos in Schools

Sep 26, 2022

Of all the workers’ compensation paid by Cumbria County Council, the largest bill has been for asbestos exposures. In 2018/19, a member of the school staff received £200,000+ following asbestos exposure; the claim was brought in 2006. According to Chris Brooksbank, the secretary of Cumbria's National Education Union branch: “We've had school staff die after asbestos exposure… it's in the majority of schools in Cumbria.” A spokesperson for Cumbria County Council said: “For maintained schools in relation to asbestos, the county council provides guidance and for regular asbestos management surveys… For academies, voluntary aided, foundation and independent schools, the council has no employer responsibility for health and safety.” See: Cumbria County Council pays out £200,000 after asbestos exposure.
 

Asbestos in Schools

Sep 26, 2022

An ongoing inquiry by a committee of the New South Wales (NSW) Legislative Council, the Upper House of the Parliament of the Australian State of NSW, has revealed that students and staff at Sydney’s Castle Hill High School were "put in jeopardy" due to an asbestos cover-up which took place in 2016. The school community had been reassured that an asbestos test was negative when it was in fact positive. Despite the presence of asbestos in the ceilings, classes continued. According to NSW Department of Education official Leanne Nixon said asbestos levels at the school “were now safe.” See: Asbestos 'cover up' at NSW school: inquiry.
 

Asbestos Scandal: A Global Concern

Sep 26, 2022

On September 20, 2022, a documentary entitled Asbestos, the never-ending story premiered on ARTE, a European public service channel. The 90 minute program directed by Thomas Dandois and Alexandre Spalaikovich embraced the global nature of the asbestos scandal, exposing the decision-makers and businesses that continue to profit from a deadly trade long after the hazards had been exposed. Despite the already huge death toll caused by toxic exposures, asbestos sales continue to flourish in Asia thanks to lobbying by aggressive asbestos stakeholders. See: « L’Amiante, l’histoire sans fin », sur Arte: danger mortel et scandale Mondial ["Asbestos, the never-ending story", on ARTE: mortal danger and world scandal].
 

Railway Workers & Asbestos Anxiety

Sep 20, 2022

On September 14, 2022, the 5th Chamber of the Labor Court of Amiens, France issued a victims’ verdict in a case over asbestos anxiety caused by the knowledge of toxic workplace exposures at railway workshops in north-central France operated by the SNCF, France's state-owned railway company. The case was launched in 2016; in 2017 seventy workers were each awarded compensation of €60,000 (US$60,100). In 2018, the Reims Court of Appeal overturned the verdict. Since 2016, two claimants died from asbestos cancer, a third is undergoing chemotherapy and six have been diagnosed with pleural thickening. See: Procès de l'amiante à la SNCF : les cheminots de Romilly-sur-Seine obtiennent un dédommagement financier [Asbestos trial at the SNCF: the railway workers of Romilly-sur-Seine obtain financial compensation].
 

J&J’s Baby Powder “Unsafe”

Sep 20, 2022

Last week, the Food & Drugs Administration in the Indian State of Maharashtra cancelled Johnson & Johnson’s (J&J) license for the manufacture of baby powder over safety concerns after samples from Pune and Nashik were declared not of standard quality by the government. In a clarification issued by J&J, the company reassured consumers that the baby powder was safe, did not contain asbestos and did not cause cancer. The firm plans to challenge the Maharashtra ruling in court. See: Johnson & Johnson Issues Clarification After Cancellation of Manufacturing License of Its Baby Powder, Says ‘It Is Safe and Does Not Contain Asbestos That Causes Cancer’.
 

Building Capacity for Asbestos Testing

Sep 20, 2022

Committed to protecting Cambodians from toxic asbestos exposures, on September 13, 2022 officials from the General Department of Consumer Protection, Competition and Fraud Prevention met with representatives of Australia’s Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency (ASEA) in Phnom Pen to discuss measures to build the country’s technical capacity in the fight for asbestos safety. In October, Australian analytical experts will train Cambodian technicians on the use of analytical methods for detecting asbestos fibers. On September 15, the Ministry of Labor and Vocational Training ran a workshop to devise a roadmap for the eradication of asbestos-related diseases in Cambodia. See: Oz team offers CCF asbestos class.
 

Official Error in Mesothelioma Case

Sep 20, 2022

A lawsuit was launched by a bereaved Japanese family over the unauthorized disposal by the Labor Standards Inspection Office of vital documents required for a mesothelioma compensation case. Relatives of the construction worker, who died aged 54 in 2003 of an industrial accident, having been occupationally exposed to asbestos, needed the paperwork as evidence in a lawsuit against a building material manufacturer. Responding to a 2021 request by the family for documents about the case, officials admitted that records of interviews with colleagues had been mistakenly discarded. See: 労基署が『永久保存のはずの文書廃棄』[Labor Standards Office “disposes of documents that are supposed to be permanently preserved…”].
 

Asbestos Crimes & Punishment

Sep 20, 2022

It was announced on September 16, 2022, that WorkSafeBC, the statutory agency in British Columbia tasked with preventing occupational injury and occupational diseases, had imposed a record fine of over $700,000 (US$525,500) on a Toronto-based demolition company that had been contracted to clear fire damage at a commercial site. The company had failed to comply with asbestos regulations as a result of which operatives were working in illegal and toxic conditions. See: WorkSafeBC imposes record-high single penalty of $710,488 for asbestos violations.
 

Asbestos Legacy in the Military

Sep 20, 2022

Following the disclosure of asbestos contamination at the Torrejón air base in Spain, more pollution has been revealed at military bases and airfields throughout the country including the Gando air base, the military airfield at León and the air base at Villanubla. Asbestos-containing material was widely used in the construction of barracks and ships. Claims from former service personnel for asbestos-related injuries have been reported. This Summer the Navy recognized the asbestos cancer death of Admiral Francisco Javier González-Huix, Chief of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, as having been caused by his military service. See: El amianto preocupa en la base aérea de Torrejón: detectado también en Gando, León y Villanubla [Asbestos is a concern at the Torrejón air base: also detected in Gando, León and Villanubla].
 

Asbestos on ILO Agenda

Sep 17, 2022

On September 6, 2022, the International Labour Organisation’s Project Advisory Committee on enhancing Occupational Safety and Health held a meeting in Phnom Penh about standards in the construction sector. According to Yan Thy – Secretary-General of the Building and Wood Workers Trade Union Federation of Cambodia who was at the meeting – subjects on the agenda included procedural matters such as regulations and policies adopted by the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training pertaining to the health and safety of construction workers as well as challenges associated with asbestos in products used by construction workers. See: ILO holds third meeting on Occupational Safety, Health in construction.
 

Questions over Sales of Toxic Baby Powder

Sep 17, 2022

India’s consumer market for infant products is dominated by Johnson & Johnson (J&J). According to one expert: “When you talk about the baby talcum product market in India, Johnson & Johnson still has the lion’s share in this portfolio. It has about 60 to 70% of market share in the country today.” In the face of a tidal wave of US litigation over the asbestos content of its iconic baby powder, J&J has maintained the product is safe. The recent announcement that this product would be withdrawn from sale in 2023 raises concerns amongst consumers, with people asking why the product was not withdrawn in India at the same time as it was withdrawn in the US and Canada. See: A look at Johnson & Johnson’s Presence In India And Discontinuation of Its Products Controversy.
 

Eradicating Catalonia’s Asbestos Pollution

Sep 17, 2022

On November 26, 2022, a conference will be held in Barcelona to consider how best to rid Catalonia of asbestos contamination. The event is being organized jointly by the Asbestos-Exposed Pensioners of Macosa-Alstom and the Federation of Neighborhood Associations of Barcelona. It is hoped that conversations at the meeting will mobilize civil society sectors and expedite the urgent measures needed to comply with EU asbestos removal guidelines. See: Convocan una convención en Barcelona para liberar Catalunya de amianto [Convention [to be held] in Barcelona on freeing Catalonia from asbestos].
 

Asbestos Removal in Flanders

Sep 17, 2022

Pursuant to Flanders commitment to be asbestos-free by 2040, the Flanders Government has allocated €3.5 million (US$3.5m) in a bill designed to eradicate the asbestos hazard from the care sector. Until mid-October 2022, healthcare institutions can apply for funding to the Public Waste Agency of Flanders (OVAM). A further €9m has been allocated to tackle the asbestos legacy in other sectors including: agriculture, education and social housing. See (subscription site): Flanders provides €3.5 million to remove asbestos from healthcare centres.
 

Asbestos an Election Issue