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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

Sep 17, 2022

Winnipeg mayoral candidate Rana Bokhari has pledged to start an asbestos testing program for the city’s water this Autumn should she be elected. On September 12, she told journalists that: “We have not tested Winnipeg’s water for asbestos fibres since 1995… As research into the issue of asbestos in water pipes and the possibly detrimental effect on human health has continued for the past 30 years, it’s become increasingly obvious that we are ignoring a major potential health hazard in our water system.” Bokhari also plans to lobby the federal government to include Winnipeg’s water delivery system in their upcoming infrastructure review. See: WINNIPEG VOTES: Bokhari promises to start testing water for asbestos.
 

Legal Victory for Asbestos Victim

Sep 17, 2022

Appeals by former employers of a man who died from an asbestos-related disease were dismissed by the High Court of Justice of the Basque Country which confirmed a lower court’s verdict that the worker's pleural cancer had been caused by occupational exposures to asbestos and silica. One of the defendants’ arguments during the appeal was that the deceased’s smoking habit had caused the illness and not hazardous workplace conditions. As a result of this decision, upgrades will be made in the monthly pension received by his widow. See: El TSJPV confirma el origen laboral de un cáncer tras la exposición al amianto [The TSJPV confirms the occupational origin of cancer after exposure to asbestos].
 

Asbestos Ban Clarification

Sep 14, 2022

The Russian language article cited below, which was uploaded on September 10, 2022, considered the September 6, 2022 vote by the Ukrainian Parliament which banned the use of asbestos and debunked myths being spread by pro-asbestos interests to spread alarm. The ban only pertains to the new use of asbestos and does not mandate removal of asbestos material already incorporated within the built environment. Ukraine industry has a year to make the transition to safer asbestos-free technologies. See: Запрет использования асбеста в производстве: почему он вреден [The ban on the use of asbestos in production: why it (asbestos) is harmful].
 

Exposé: Johnson & Johnson

Sep 14, 2022

A detailed analysis of the history and strategies of the US pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson (J&J) was published in the September 12, 2022 issue of the New Yorker magazine. The text by journalist Casey Cept was methodical as well as comprehensive in its description of how this national brand exploited consumers’ trust whilst promoting the company’s iconic baby powder despite the presence of asbestos fibers. J&J made full use of loopholes in government oversight to avoid regulation and exploited judicial stratagems to freeze claims by US cancer victims. It is a sorry tale but one exceedingly well told. See: Johnson & Johnson & New War on Consumer Protection.
 

Asbestos Alert!

Sep, 14, 2022

The pubic outcry in Turkey over plans to import an asbestos-laden Brazilian warship for scrapping at an Izmir ship-breaking facility has raised the profile of the asbestos hazard. Following on from the successful campaign to reject the toxic ship, questions are now being asked about the dangers posed by demolishing or renovating asbestos-containing buildings. The author of the text cited below called on municipal and federal authorities to act urgently to prevent asbestos pollution by implementing and enforcing regulations to control urban transformation projects. See: Kentsel dönüşümde kanser riski! [Cancer risk in urban transformation!].
 

Asbestos in Schools

Sep 14, 2022

The asbestos contamination of the educational infrastructure of the Spanish capital remains a contentious issue for teachers, staff, parents and children. One building causing alarm for parents is the Meseta de Orcasitas school in Usera, Madrid, the second largest school in the district, used daily by 500 children and 20 teachers. It was built in 1978 and has broken roofing made of corrugated iron and asbestos. In 2018, the Government of Madrid pledged to remove all asbestos material from public schools. See: Dar clase bajo un techo de 2.000 metros de amianto: “Nuestros niños lo respiran seis horas al día” [Teaching under a 2,000 meter roof of asbestos: “Our children breathe it six hours a day”].
 

Asbestos Litigation: Update

Sep 14, 2022

In their opening arguments on September 9, 2022, lawyers representing defendants in a case brought over the asbestos death of a construction worker argued that the building material manufacturer was not at fault, because “the workers should have used dust masks.” The case, which is being heard at the Takamatsu District Court, is over a lung cancer death in 2013; ten manufacturers of asbestos-cement building products are being sued for damages of 29.7 million yen (US$209,000). See: 全国一斉“建設アスベスト訴訟” 建材メーカー争う姿勢示す 高松地裁で初弁論【香川】 [Nationwide “Construction Asbestos Lawsuit” shows fighting stance of building material manufacturers. First argument at Takamatsu District Court [Kagawa]].
 

Asbestos in City Hall

Sep 14, 2022

On September 12, 2022, news was reported of an unwelcomed discovery in the town hall of the Italian city of Modena. The cost of removing asbestos in the tiles and adhesives on the second and third floors of the building will be €240,000 (US$243,000). The work must be done now, said a City Council resolution passed last week, because the flooring showed “conspicuous signs of deterioration, such as breakages and detachment of tiles or marked signs of abrasion…” See: Modena, pavimenti in amianto in municipio: rimozione costa 240mila euro [Modena, asbestos floors in the town hall: removal will cost 240 thousand euros].
 

Asbestos Alert in Phnom Penh

Sep 12, 2022

On September 9, 2022, Deputy Director-General Dim Theng of Cambodia’s Ministry of Commerce's Consumer Protection, Competition and Fraud Department (CCF) met with Representatives of the European Chamber of Commerce (EuroCham) in Phnom Penh to discuss the health risks associated with exposures to asbestos, especially amongst construction workers. According to a news report about this meeting: “Cambodia is yet to implement a law banning the import of products containing asbestos, although the CCF expected the government to pass a law doing so in the near future. The government is currently drafting a roadmap to reduce the impact and risks of asbestos-related diseases in Cambodia.” See: EuroCham, CCF raise awareness of asbestos risks.
 

Boomerang Ship on Way Home

Sep 12, 2022

After travelling thousands of miles, Brazil’s former flagship: the São Paulo is on its way home having been barred by the authorities in Gibraltar and Turkey from proceeding any further on its journey to a scrapping yard in Izmir. Due to environmental concerns, many people in Brazil, Turkey and elsewhere opposed the decision to allow the ship to leave Brazil. Now that it is on its way to Rio de Janeiro, campaigners are calling for transparency and consultation on future decisions regarding how to dispose of what has become an international hot potato. See: Após ser proibido de entrar na Turquia, porta-aviões São Paulo está voltando ao Brasil [After being banned from entering Turkey, aircraft carrier São Paulo is returning to Brazil].
 

The End of WA Asbestos Mining Town

Sep 12, 2022

On September 8, 2022, 80-year old Lorraine Thomas – the last resident of the toxic town of Wittenoom in Western Australia (WA) – was evicted from her home by government officials and bailiffs pursuant to WA legislation. Mrs Thomas had missed the August 31, 2022 deadline for evacuating the premises due to “personal circumstances.” The WA Government had long struggled with how best to protect West Australians from deadly exposures to asbestos remaining in the soil, water and soil of Wittenoom; the current plan is to completely shut the town down so that no tourists will visit. See: Wittenoom's last resident evicted as WA government shuts down asbestos-contaminated town.
 

Toxic Talc

Sep 12, 2022

Last week, the discovery in South Africa of trace levels of asbestos in test samples of Tiger Brands talc led to a product recall by the company, which said that: “the affected batch of raw materials does not meet Tiger Brands’ strict quality and safety standards.” Asbestos fibers were found in pharmaceutical-grade talc powder used as a raw material. Tiger Brands’ baby products are manufactured in two factories located in Ndabeni in Western Cape and Isando in Gauteng. See: Some baby powder products recalled in SA as asbestos is detected.
 

Asbestos & Natural Disasters

Sep 12, 2022

A symposium held in Nagano City, Japan on September 3, 2022, considered the state-of-the-art response to asbestos liberated during natural disasters such as Typhoon Number 19, an extremely violent and large tropical cyclone that caused widespread destruction in Japan in October 2019. Sixty participants heard presentations from technical and medical experts in the session run by the Municipal Asbestos Countermeasures Center and the NGO Tokyo Occupational Safety and Health Center. See: 災害時におけるアスベスト対策の教訓を学び合う…市行政、専門家交えシンポジウム [Mutual learning of lessons learned from asbestos countermeasures in the event of a disaster…Symposium of city administrators and experts].
 

Ukraine Bans Asbestos!

Sep 7, 2022

This week the Parliament of Ukraine adopted draft law No. 4142, which prohibited the use of all types of asbestos-containing products for construction. Explaining these developments, Ukrainian politician Olena Shulyak said that the process to ban asbestos had been ongoing for some years but outside forces from Russia and Kazakhstan had brought pressure to bear on the Government hoping to block progress. Finally, Ms. Shulyak concluded, as a result of a vote in Parliament on September 6, 2022 “Ukraine will get rid of the health-threatening Soviet construction legacy.” See: Олена Шуляк: У будівництві заборонять азбест [Olena Shulyak: Asbestos will be banned for construction].
 

Calls to Speed Asbestos Removal in Schools

Sep 7, 2022

The largest Spanish trade union, the CCOO (Comisiones Obreras; the Workers' Commissions) has criticized the current program of works to remove asbestos from schools in the Spanish capital as much too slow. According to the CCOO, as many as 361 educational centers in Madrid could still contain asbestos. Commenting on the unsatisfactory rate of progress, Isabel Galvín, Secretary General of Education of CCOO Madrid said: “At this rate, according to our calculations, the total elimination of asbestos would not be achieved for another forty years, despite the new 2028 deadline set to remove this material.” See: El tímido plan para retirar amianto de los colegios de Madrid [Timid plan to remove asbestos from schools in Madrid].
 

Mesothelioma Benefits: Update

Sep 7, 2022

A press release issued on September 2, 2022 by the Swiss Compensation Fund for Asbestos Victims welcomed new regulations which will allow more mesothelioma patients to submit compensation claims. According to the new rules, eligible claimants will now include those who were diagnosed between 1996 and 2006; formerly only claimants with post-2006 diagnoses had been eligible for payouts from the Fund which, since it was started at the end of 2021, has paid 117 claims worth 12.3 million Swiss Francs (US$12.5m). See: La prescription prolongée de dix ans pour les victimes de l'amiante [The limitation [period] extended by ten years for asbestos victims].
 

Asbestos Pollution in Quebec

Sep 7, 2022

The disastrous environmental impact decades of asbestos mining have had in Quebec is gathering more attention, with campaigning groups demanding political parties make commitments to eradicate the hazard during the current election cycle. Members of the Irish Trout Lake Protection Association want pollution of the Bécancour River caused by run-offs from mountains of asbestos waste in Thetford Mines to be addressed as a matter of priority. See: Passif minier: l’APLTI interpelle les candidats en cette période électorale [Mining liabilities: the APLTI challenges the candidates during this election period].
 

Asbestos Education Program

Sep 7, 2022

On September 5, 2022, the Korean Association for Asbestos Safety and Health held an intensive workshop to raise asbestos awareness amongst public officials and civil servants under a program developed in partnership with the Ministry of Justice. Topics covered included the asbestos safety management law, guidelines and regulations pertaining to asbestos inspections of buildings, and case studies for civil servants in local governments. See: 한국석면안전보건연대, 법무부 석면안전지킴이와 함께한 ‘석면안전관리 심화예방교육’ [‘Intensive Asbestos Safety Management Training’ with Korea Asbestos Safety and Health Association and Ministry of Justice asbestos Safety Keepers].
 

No to São Paulo Transit!

Sep 5, 2022

According to a news portal in Gibraltar, the authorities in Gibraltar have said that the São Paulo warship en route from Brazil to Turkey for scrapping will not be allowed to transit through British Gibraltar Territorial Waters including the Strait of Gibraltar. The reason for this decision was the presence on board of “toxic paints, asbestos, and cancer-causing chemicals.” Emails to the UK and Gibraltar Governments about this situation remain unanswered. See: Ship carrying toxic materials would not be permitted to enter BGTW, says Government.
 

Russian Lobbyists at UN Meeting

Sep 5, 2022

Reports from the Romanian capital Bucharest sent by colleagues attending a UN agency’s (SAICM) fourth meeting of the intersessional process considering the Strategic Approach and sound management of chemicals and waste beyond 2020 that took place between August 29 and September 2, noted the presence of Russian-led asbestos lobbying groups, including the International Chrysotile Association (ICA) and the Alliance of Trade Union Organizations “Chrysotile” [See Photo]. In light of the Russian war on Ukraine, delegates objected to the presence of the Russian delegation; their objections were ignored. See: Fourth meeting of the intersessional process considering the Strategic Approach and sound management of chemicals and waste beyond 2020 (IP4) Bucharest, Romania, 29 August-2 September 2022.
 

Toxic Legacy in Limpopo

Sep 5, 2022

In a 2 minute 38 second clip uploaded to YouTube on August 31, 2022 by the South African Broadcasting Corporation, members of a former asbestos mining town in the South African Province of Limpopo spoke out about the daily hazard they endure due to the continued presence of toxic waste created by decades of asbestos mining. Although the local mines ceased operations in the 1970s, rehabilitation of the mines and dumps has been slow and, as a result, local people remain at risk. South Africa was the only country in the world which produced commercially all three of the most commonly used asbestos fibers: amosite (brown), crocidolite (blue) and chrysotile (white). See: Unrehabilitated asbestos mines pose a health risk to Limpopo villagers.
 

Asbestos Alert!

Sep 5, 2022

The international scandal over Johnson & Johnson’s asbestos-contaminated talc-based baby powder and the company’s announcement that it would withdraw this toxic product from sale in 2023 in all global markets was the starting point for an article about the hazard posed to people in Thailand from the country’s ongoing use of asbestos-containing building, automotive and other products. According to medical expert Dr. Somkiat Siriruttanapruk “We’ve found that about 80% of people with mesothelioma [the signature cancer associated with asbestos exposure] have been exposed to asbestos… You should avoid using products that contain asbestos, so we can bring a halt to asbestos-related diseases. Safer alternatives to asbestos are now available.” See: Hidden danger: how asbestos can harm our health.
 

Asbestos in UK’s Public Buildings

Sep 5, 2022

The article cited below, which was uploaded on August 31, 2022, considered the human health consequences of exposures to asbestos-containing products remaining in 300,000+ public sector buildings in the UK, including NHS hospitals. A study commissioned by Mesothelioma UK and carried out by researchers at the University of Sheffield recommended that “awareness of the asbestos risk should be added to the mandatory training for new members of NHS staff…” Mesothelioma UK plans to continuing lobbying efforts calling for improved oversight, more resources and increased monitoring to reduce toxic exposures. See: Preventable asbestos cancer – mesothelioma.
 

Victim’s Verdict for Toxic Naval Exposure

Sep 5. 2022

On August 30, 2022, news was released of a decision by Italian Judge Claudio Patruno which awarded €1.3 million (US$1.3m) to the family of engineer Camillo Limatola, who died in 2013 aged 59 from the signature asbestos cancer mesothelioma, after having been hazardously exposed during his service in the Navy between 1973 and 1978. According to the Judge: “from the documents produced it emerged that, both in the environments in which Limatola worked and on board the ships in which he was embarked, asbestos was present and frequent…” See: Amianto, il ministero della Difesa condannato a risarcire con 1,3 milioni di euro i familiari di un militare morto per mesothelioma [ordered to compensate the family members of a soldier who died of mesothelioma with 1.3 million euros].
 

Civil Society Victory!

Sep 3, 2022

On August 26, 2022 after huge protests throughout Turkey over plans to import the renegade Brazilian warship the Sao Paulo for scrapping in Izmir, Environment, Urban Planning and Climate Change Minister Murat Kurum announced a U-turn on official policy and withdrew permission for the vessel to enter Turkish territorial waters. Groups campaigning on behalf of the environment, health and safety, local communities and medical professionals welcomed the news, affirming their position that the dumping of toxic waste in Turkey was unacceptable. See: Asbestli Brezilya gemisi Türkiye karasularına sokulmayacak [Brazilian ship with asbestos will not enter Turkish territorial waters].
 

Import Ban on Toxic Baby Powder

Sep 3, 2022

On August 20, 2022, Cambodia’s directorate-general of Consumer Protection, Competition and Fraud Repression (CCF) temporarily halted the import and distribution of several brands of talc baby powder after asbestos contamination had been found. Explaining the reason for this action, an official spokesperson said: “Asbestos must not be present in cosmetic products because it can cause severe danger to consumers' health, especially as it can cause cancer.” Amongst the banned products were Johnson & Johnson’s iconic baby powder and Johnson & Johnson's blossoms baby powder. See: DKSH recall baby powder after CCF detects asbestos.
 

Faster Asbestos Exports to Vietnam

Sep 3, 2022

On August 23, 2022, a new rail link was inaugurated that connected the Chinese city of Nanchang to Vietnam; as a result of this new service, the time for transport of cargo from China to Vietnam will be reduced from 20 days by sea and rail to 8 days by rail. The inaugural train on this service was used to forward 41 carriages of asbestos fiber to Vietnam that had been sent to the city of Xi'an in central China from Kazakhstan. Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Kazakh asbestos exporters have been looking for new routes for cargoes which had formerly been transited via Russian ports. See: Trung Quốc khai trương chuyến tàu hàng từ Tây An sang Việt Nam [China opens freight train [link] from Xi'an to Vietnam].
 

Asbestos Outreach Project

Sep 3, 2022

Asbestos telephone hotlines were operated on August 27 & 28, 2022 by the non-governmental organizations Asbestos Victims Relief Fund (Kobe) and the Pneumoconiosis/Asbestos Victims Relief Fund (Kanagawa Prefecture) to provide legal, medical and administrative information to people concerned about asbestos exposures and their family members. Members of the public were able to call on a toll-free number from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. See: アスベスト被害、全国一斉の電話相談実施へ 27、28日 神戸のNPO法人 [Asbestos damage, nationwide simultaneous telephone counseling on 27th and 28th. NGO cooporation in Kobe].
 

Asbestos in Schools: Update

Sep 3, 2022

As children in the Spanish capital get ready to return to classes, Deputy Mayor Begoña Villacís reassured parents that progress had been made in eradicating the asbestos hazard from the educational infrastructure. The latest program of works, which was nearing completion, has removed asbestos from 23 early childhood and primary education centers in Madrid. In 2021, asbestos was removed from 26 other schools. A deadline of 2030 for the complete elimination of asbestos from all schools in Madrid has been set. See: Vuelta al 'cole' sin amianto en 23 centros educativos públicos más de Madrid [Back to school without asbestos in 23 more public educational centers in Madrid].
 

Asbestos in Schools: New Inspections

Sep 3, 2022

A blog dated August 22, 2022 on the website of the Association of School and College Leaders considered plans by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) to commence an inspection program in UK schools this autumn to ascertain whether asbestos was being managed as per government guidelines. This decision was, said the HSE, based on feedback from a 2019 survey which showed that 20% of schools were not in compliance with asbestos regulations such as The Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012. New epidemiological data showed that “there is evidence of higher rates of the asbestos cancer, mesothelioma…for teachers and administrative occupations than…for nurses, sales occupations and process operatives…” See: Asbestos inspections in schools, colleges and trusts.
 

Victims’ Victory in Osaka!

Aug 30, 2022

On August 23, 2022, for the first time in Japan a settlement was agreed between the bereaved family of a construction worker who died from an asbestos-related disease and a manufacturer of asbestos-containing building material. According to the agreement submitted to the Osaka District Court, the plaintiffs will receive compensation of 12.87 million yen (US$ 93,500), The company Nippon Insulation also apologized for the demise of the subcontractor from Nara in western Japan who died from lung cancer in 1999, aged 74. See: First Asbestos Settlement with Manufacturer in Japan [ニュース速報: メーカーとの最初のアスベスト和解が日本で達成されました].
 

Izmir Protest: “We Will Stop!”

Aug 30, 2022

On August 23, 2022, members of grassroots associations, and environmental organizations were joined by local politicians at a high-profile demonstration in front of the Alsancak Türkan Saylan Cultural Center against plans to import the asbestos-laden former Brazilian warship the Sao Paulo to Turkey for dismantling at a ship dismantling yard in Aliağa. The slogan for the day was “We will stop” the poison from entry; protestors held up placards with these words on them and also applied the words to visible body parts to reinforce their message. The protest was shown live on social media platforms. See: Ölüm Gemisini Durduracağiz Platformu’ndan protesto [Protest from the We Will Stop the Death Ship Platform].
 

Controversy over J &J Marketing Strategy

Aug 30, 2022

Following the announcement by the US pharmaceutical giant Johnson and Johnson (J&J) on August 11, 2022 that it would cease selling its iconic talc-based baby powder in all global markets in 2023, an Indian journalist asked why Indian babies would still be exposed to a product which had been found to contain asbestos fibers whilst those in the U.S. and Canada were not. J&J, which has a 60%+ market share of all baby powder sales in India, will not take the product off shelves in 2022 but will phase out sales next year, a decision which a J&J spokesperson confirmed. See: Johnson & Johnson won’t take controversial baby powder off shelves in India.
 

Urgent Action on Toxic Talc

Aug 30, 2022

Cambodia’s Directorate General for Consumer Protection, Competition and Fraud Control last week banned from sale 12 types of imported baby powder from Thailand and Malaysia which had been found to contain asbestos fibers. Amongst the products which were ordered to be withdraw from Cambodian markets were: Johnson & Johnson’s (J&J’s) 380g talc and J&J’s Blossoms talc 380g. On August 11, 2022 J&J announced that it would withdraw its iconic talc-based baby powder from all global markets in 2023, 2 years after sales of this product were ended in North America. See: Des talcs pour bébé retirés de la vente au Cambodge pour cause d'amiante [Baby talcum powder withdrawn from sale in Cambodia due to asbestos].
 

Save Phoenix House!

Aug 30, 2022

In a press release issued this week, Liverpool Walton MP Dan Carden called on the Department for Work and Pensions to stop the scheduled closure of Phoenix House in Barrow, a specialist service which processes claims for work-related illness including those due to asbestos exposures. Commenting on the adverse effect this closure could have on the many asbestos victims in Liverpool, Carden said: “This is a specialist service providing welfare benefits to terminally-ill workers after negligent exposure to asbestos. If the next Prime Minister cares about the victims of this scandal, one of their first acts must be to step in to stop its closure.” See: Merseyside asbestos victims will be hit by closure of specialist site, warns city MP.
 

Ongoing Asbestos Exposures

Aug 30, 2022

In a published interview with a legal expert from Australia, the ramifications of that country’s third wave of asbestos-related diseases were discussed. This wave was associated with occupational and non-occupational exposure to asbestos as a consequence of repair, renovation and demolition work. According to lawyer Roger Singh: “Each year in Australia between 700 and 800 people are diagnosed with this rare and aggressive cancer [mesothelioma]. In the 2018-2019 financial year, the estimated health expenditure for mesothelioma cases was $27.4 million.” Much of Australia’s social housing still contains asbestos; the contamination can be hazardous for tenants. See: The tragic Australian asbestos legacy has not yet run its course.
 

More Mining in Wittenoom?

Aug 25, 2022

Documents released in Australia through Freedom of Information requests revealed that the mining corporation owned by Australia’s richest person, Gina Hancock, had considered developing iron ore mining in the former asbestos town of Wittenoom in the Pilbara region of Western Australia (WA). According to the papers, the WA Government was reassured that Hancock Prospecting could manage the asbestos risk whilst carrying out mining operations. The traditional owners of the land, who have been lobbying for the WA government to clean-up the town and its surroundings, are opposed to further mining. Wittenoom was closed by the WA Government earlier this year because of the widespread contamination. See: FOI documents reveal Hancock's plan to mine iron ore at asbestos-riddled Wittenoom.
 

MP Explains Ban Asbestos Legislation

Aug 25, 2022

Since 2017, the path to an asbestos-free Ukraine has not been an easy one, said MP Elena Shulyak. The first ban announced by the Ministry of Health was quashed by the Government under intense pressure from industry lobbyists. Legislation now progressing through the Parliament in bill No. 4142 will institute a comprehensive and immediate prohibition on the use of all types of asbestos. The prohibition will bring the country into alignment with EU regulations as per requirements set out in the Association Agreement with the EU. See: Депутат рассказала, почему в Украине хотят запретить использование асбеста в строительстве [MP tells why Ukraine wants to ban the use of asbestos in construction].
 

Sale of Toxic Baby Powder to End

Aug 25, 2022

In a statement made on August 19, 2022 in Quezon City, civil society groups from the Philippines – including the EcoWaste Coalition, Associated Labor Unions-TUCP and Arugaan – welcomed the news that Johnson & Johnson would be ending the sale of its talc-based baby powder in all its markets, including the Philippines, having withdrawn it from sale in North America in 2020. Commenting on this development, Gerard R. Seno, National Executive Vice President of the ALU-TUCP said: “Other baby powder manufacturers should follow suit and replace talc with alternatives that will not pose asbestos-related risk.” See: Groups Welcome Company’s Decision to Stop Selling Talc-Based Baby Powder Worldwide.
 

Barcelona’s Fight against Asbestos

Aug 25, 2022

Developments in Barcelona have been hailed as breakthroughs in the fight against the region’s toxic asbestos legacy. Barcelona’s Social Court Number 8 for the first time recognized that contact with asbestos was, with “almost absolute certainly” the cause of the mesothelioma death in 2019 of a worker for the Barcelona Metro. At the same time, the Government of Catalonia has begun work on an asbestos census to identify the presence of toxic material in public and private buildings with a view to elimination by 2032 of all asbestos contamination. See: Paso adelante en la lucha contra el amianto con un censo de edificios afectados y una sentencia judicial pionera [Steps forward in fight against asbestos with a census of affected buildings and a pioneering court ruling].
 

Asbestos Eradication in Flanders

Aug 25, 2022

In a press release issued earlier this month, Flemish Minister for Environment Zuhal Demir announced that the Flemish Government had allocated an additional sum of €5.5 million (US$ 5.7m) for work to eradicate asbestos from 165 schools and 190 healthcare institutions. “In addition,” Minister Demir said “we can also make asbestos inventories for hundreds of buildings in order to prepare for future removals.” The provision of the funds under the Asbestos Building Action Plan will enable remediation work to be prioritized. See: Vlaamse regering maakt 5,5 miljoen euro vrij voor asbestverwijdering in scholen en welzijnsinstellingen [Flemish government releases 5.5 million euros for asbestos removal in schools and welfare institutions].
 

Asbestos Hazard: Update

Aug 25, 2022

Workers employed by a contractor engaged by South Africa’s Department of Mineral Resources and Energy have complained about hazardous conditions at old asbestos mines in Mathabatha village, Limpopo Province where they do not have protective clothing or masks to safeguard them from the inhalation of asbestos fibers. According to spokesperson Bokamoso Molokoane: “There’s no safety here. We work without proper PPE for asbestos work and there are no showers here. We go home with these overalls contaminated with asbestos, which is dangerous because our children and families get exposed to asbestos.” See: Workers at old asbestos mines in Limpopo claim they operate in dangerous environment.
 

Renegade Ship Coming to Europe!

Aug 23, 2022

In a timely and well-documented press release issued on August 17, 2022 NGOs – the Basel Action Network (BAN), the NGO Shipbreaking Platform and partnering organizations – warned national governments and international agencies about the illegal dumping of toxic waste by the Brazilian Navy, which was ignoring international treaties and protocols to off-load the aircraft carrier the São Paulo by exporting it to a Turkish shipyard for dismantling. As well as containing PCBs, lead/cadmium paint and possible traces of radioactive material, the São Paulo is believed to have hundreds of tonnes of asbestos-containing material on-board. See: Brazil Silent as Renegade Aircraft Carrier Moves in Defiance of Injunction and International Law.
 

Asbestos-Containing Sediment Hazard

Aug 23 2022

On August 22, 2022, construction will begin on a major project to dam the source of asbestos-containing sediment in the Sumas Mountains which is released into a creek in East Whatcom County, Washington State. One hundred thousand cubic yards of toxic sediment winds up in Swift Creek and from there flows into the Sumas River. In July 2022, the Department of Environment issued a warning about the hazard: “Avoid walking, driving, cycling, riding horses, or disturbing the riverbed or dredge piles along Swift Creek and Sumas River, or where flooding may have left deposits… When disturbed, asbestos fibers in the dry sediments can become airborne. Airborne asbestos can be inhaled and potentially cause health problems.” See: Construction on asbestos-filled creek in Whatcom to begin next week.
 

August Asbestos Offensive!

Aug 23, 2022

A Ukrainian asbestos industry propagandist issued yet another broadside over the Ukrainian government’s efforts to ban chrysotile asbestos. Lobbyist and executive director of the Ukrainian Chrysotile Association – an association representing the interests of asbestos industry stakeholders – Petro Pozharko said that the Government’s evidence supporting the ban was a collection of outdated information, junk science and fake news. According to Pozharko, there is no reliable epidemiological data from Ukraine that justified outlawing the use of asbestos, a substance used by countries worldwide. See: Ініціатори заборони хризотилового азбесту спираються на фейки та маніпуляції, - експерт [The initiators of the ban on chrysotile asbestos rely on fakes and manipulations, the expert said].
 

Enquiry over Toxic Military Exposures

Aug 23, 2022

The results of an enquiry into asbestos exposures experienced by British service personnel during military exercises overseas since 2018 were published by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) and Defence Safety Authority on August 18, 2022. The 118-page report was not an easy read. From what can be surmised on a cursory reading, it was confirmed that asbestos exposures did in fact take place. Multiple recommendations were made to avoid such incidents in the future, including collaborations with NATO and Allied training partners. See: Corporate report – Investigation into the alleged exposure of UK Defence Personnel to asbestos during overseas exercises and training since 2018.
 

Asbestos Alert in the Military

Aug 23, 2022

On August 17, 2022, the Association of Spanish Troops and Sailors (ATME) issued a warning about the absence of protective measures in some military barracks where asbestos-containing material may be present in the plumbing. The ATME cited the example of the barracks in Pamplona where asbestos-cement pipes were removed in August 2021 by personnel from the Services Unit “without any type of specialized training or protection material.” See: Militares alertan de la ausencia de medidas de seguridad con el amianto en los cuarteles [Military warn of the absence of security measures regarding asbestos in barracks].
 

Ukraine Parliament Must Act!

Aug 18, 2022

To protect public health, Ukrainian Parliamentarians are urged, in the commentary cited below, to ignore asbestos industry propaganda and progress work to outlaw all asbestos use. The first sentence in his exposition makes the author’s position crystal clear: “Asbestos, used widely in construction for many decades, is a dangerous carcinogen.” Citing the position of multiple international agencies which advocate ending asbestos use, the author is “convinced that the document [draft legislation] should be adopted so that the use of asbestos finally becomes a forgotten practice in our country.” See: Чому Верховна Рада має заборонити азбест [Why the Verkhovna Rada should ban asbestos].
 

Corporation Dumps Cancer Claims

Aug 18, 2022

On August 16, 2022, it was announced that yet another US asbestos defendant had dumped its asbestos-liabilities to avoid thousands of claims from cancer victims, with the divestment by Crane Holdings of the wholly-owned subsidiary Redco Corporation. All Crane’s liabilities, including asbestos liabilities, had been transferred to Redco which has been bought by Spruce Lake Liability Management Holdco LLC. According to a press release issued by the company: the “Transaction permanently removes all asbestos related liabilities and obligations from Crane’s balance sheet.” See: Crane Holdings to divest legacy asbestos liabilities.
 

Decades of Asbestos Injuries and Deaths

Aug 18, 2022

The length and breadth of Italy’s national asbestos tragedy are the subject for author Raffaella Tallarico in the article cited below. The sad plight of members of the public who had the misfortune to be born in Casale Monferrato as well as asbestos workers from the town’s asbestos-cement factory are considered within the context of the national epidemic of asbestos-related cancers and diseases. Between 1993 and 2018, there were 31,572 mesothelioma cases diagnosed of which 56% of patients lived in Lombardy, Piedmont, Liguria and Emilia-Romagna. Like Casale, the town of Broni is an asbestos hotspot due to the historic operations of the Fibronit asbestos factory. See: Trent’anni senza Eternit, ma di amianto ci si ammala ancora [Thirty years without Eternit, but we still get sick from asbestos].
 

Asbestos Propaganda: Reboot

Aug 18, 2022

Considering the progress being made by the Ukrainian Parliament in outlawing asbestos, the industry has hit back in a commentary by Petr Pozharko, Executive Director of the Ukrainian Chrysotile Association, hardly an unbiased party to the debate. In his skewed text, Pozharko claims that there is no legitimate reason for Ukraine to ban asbestos; the use of chrysotile (white) asbestos is not harmful to human health; and chrysotile, when bound within a cement matrix, is safe. The author concludes by assuring readers that: “There are many international medical studies confirming the safety of chrysotile.” See: Петр Пожарко: Ни один международный документ не обязывает Украину запретить использование асбеста [Petr Pozharko: No international document obliges Ukraine to ban the use of asbestos].
 

Early Retirement for Asbestos Workers

Aug 18, 2022

As a result of mass mobilization by asbestos victims’ groups, trade unions and campaigners, the French Government some years ago enacted legislation allowing asbestos-exposed workers to qualify for early retirement. To be eligible for the government benefits – and be allowed to retire aged 50-60 – an applicant must have been employed in a facility which made asbestos-containing materials, used asbestos insulation at work or worked at the dockyards. See: Retraite: voici les Français qui peuvent profiter du dispositif de préretraite pour amiante! [Retirement: the French people who can take advantage of the early retirement scheme for asbestos!].
 

Asbestos Justice, a Fickle Thing in Spain

Aug 18, 2022

The ups and downs for Spanish asbestos victims were reviewed in the text cited below which began with the news of the Supreme Court’s rejection of the asbestos claim brought by the family of national icon José María Iñigo. Whilst many claimants have succeeded in cases brought against former employers, including Nissan, Uralita, Garay Coatings, Navantia and Izar, some cases have failed. Recently, an agreement was reached by the Madrid Metro with asbestos claimants which will avoid a wave of future litigation. See: El asbesto en los tribunals. Los casos del amianto acumulan 3.300 sentencias y reparaciones millonarias [Asbestos in court. Asbestos cases have produced 3,300 sentences and millionaire reparations].
 

Johnson & Johnson U-Turn

Aug 16, 2022

In a major reversal of corporate policy on August 11, 2022, Johnson & Johnson – the multinational pharmaceutical – announced it planned to withdraw its iconic talc-based baby powder from all global markets in 2023. The presence of asbestos in the product has led to nearly 40,000 legal claims from cancer victims as a result of which it was withdrawn from sale in North America in 2020. Groups representing asbestos victims, women, consumers and investor-activists had all called for sales of the product to be stopped as a matter of public health in all markets. See: Johnson & Johnson to replace talc-based powder with cornstarch.
 

Supreme Court Travesty

Aug 16, 2022

Last week, news was circulated of a decision by Spain’s Supreme Court which concluded that the 2018 asbestos cancer death of national icon José María Iñigo had not been caused by the negligence of his employer, despite a wealth of evidence to the contrary. Whilst the court of the first instance – Social Court Number 2, Madrid – had issued a victim’s verdict in March 2021, in November 2021 the Superior Court of Justice (TSJ) of Madrid over-turned that decision. Rejecting an appeal brought by the family’s legal team, the Supreme Court upheld the TSJ’s decision. See: El Supremo niega que José María Iñigo muriera por exposición al amianto en los platós [The Supreme Court denies that José María Iñigo died from exposure to asbestos on sets].
 

Flora and Fauna of the Asbestos Region

Aug 16, 2022

The article cited below took an unusual look at the resources of one of Quebec’s former chrysotile asbestos mining towns. Having acknowledged the area’s industrial legacy, the author described the wonders to be found in the Serpentine-de-Coleraine Ecological Reserve. As well as describing the native fauna, the writer recounted the “impressive” view of gigantic asbestos waste tailing dumps and clambering through holes – abandoned open pit asbestos mines. At no point is there any mention of the hazard posed by the presence of so much toxic waste in the mine tailings and on the site of abandoned pits. See: Mines et nature à Thetford Mines [Mines and nature in Thetford Mines].
 

Asbestos Clean-up in New York

Aug 16, 2022

In an August 12, 2022 news release by the Environmental Protection Agency, it was announced that an agreement had been reached to remediate asbestos waste piles at the former TechCity site – a location once used by the IBM company to manufacture computers – in Ulster County, New York to preserve public health and turn “formerly contaminated land into a boost for the local economy.” According to the agreement, the developer iPark87, LLC “will remove asbestos from the interior of Building 1, remove three large debris piles containing asbestos… and dispose of the waste off-site at an EPA-approved landfill.” No public funding will be used to decontaminate the site. See: EPA and Senator Schumer Mark Recent Settlement to Remove Asbestos Piles from TechCity Site in Ulster County, New York.
 

Abysmal Asbestos Disease Monitoring

Aug 16, 2022

Following a high profile expose about widespread asbestos contamination at Spain’s Torrejón military air base earlier this month, it has been reported that few of those currently being exposed or who had been exposed at the former American base had been examined for signs of asbestos-related diseases. In an interview last week with the Spanish daily newspaper El Mundo, it was disclosed that of the 154,000 at-risk Ministry of Defense workers, only 117 had been examined. See: Defensa sólo realizó 117 exámenes médicos relacionados con la exposición al amianto en 2021 [Defense only conducted 117 medical exams related to asbestos exposure in 2021].
 

Status of Nation’s Asbestos Legacy

Aug 16, 2022

A paper recently published in the Central European Journal of Public Health by researchers from the Czech Republic described the nation’s history of asbestos use, discussed measures to minimize hazardous exposures and considered long-term health consequences of toxic exposures for members of the public as well as workers. The co-authors concluded that: data on asbestos-related occupational diseases, especially cancers, was grossly underreported; raising professional awareness of the asbestos hazard was crucial to achieve early diagnoses; deteriorating asbestos material remained in the built environment; “quarrying of asbestos-containing aggregate and its subsequent use” is an ongoing problem. See: Asbestos danger in central Europe is not yet over – the situation in the Czech Republic.
 

New Wave of Asbestos Cases

Aug 15, 2022

According to an industrial disease legal specialist, the number of cases being brought for asbestos-related diseases caused by indirect exposure is growing. Expanding on this contention, Solicitor Tony Hood: said: “We’ve definitely noticed a change in the way those diagnosed with mesothelioma were exposed to asbestos. While we continue see many cases of workers from traditional heavy industrial areas, such as shipbuilding, there are an increasing number of clients instructing us who have been exposed in non-traditional ways.” These cases can be quite complex as white-collar claimants often have no knowledge of how and when they were exposed to asbestos. See: News focus: A white-collar wave of mesothelioma claims.
 

Admiral’s Asbestos Death “In Service”

Aug 15, 2022

In the August 2, 2022 edition of the Official Gazette of Spain’s Ministry of Defense, it was duly noted that the asbestos-related cancer death in 2020 of Admiral Don Francisco Javier González-Huix Fernández – formerly the Chief of the Joint Chiefs of Staff – had occurred as the result of his naval service. Following this ruling, his widow will now receive the full pension to which he was entitled. It did not go unnoticed that the Admiral’s death in the line of duty was recognized with a degree of speed not seen in the processing of similar claims from naval personnel of lower rank. See: Defensa reconoce como “acto de servicio” el fallecimiento de un almirante a causa del amianto en los buques [Defense recognizes as “act of service” the death of an admiral due to asbestos in ships].
 

Update: Progress of Asbestos Ban

Aug 15, 2022

An article on a Ukraine news portal on August 8, 2022 highlighted the role played by Ukrainian politician Serhiy Nagornyak in trying to persuade Parliament to renege on efforts to ban asbestos in Ukraine. According to the text, on July 26 Nagornyak told members of the Parliamentary Committee on Health Issues that unless the ban was rejected, scores of people would face unemployment at the building materials factory in Kramatorsk, eastern Ukraine in territory now controlled by the Russians. According to an agreement with the EU, Ukraine is obliged to ban asbestos as part of the process of joining the EU. See: "Слуга" намагався загальмувати заборону в Україні небезпечного азбесту [“Servant” tried to stop the ban on dangerous asbestos in Ukraine].
 

Improving Asbestos Regime in Flanders

Aug 15, 2022

On August 8, 2022, Flemish Environment Minister Zuhal Demir announced new proposals to strengthen checks on asbestos removal sites in Flanders. Minister Demir wrote a letter to the Federal Minister of Labour Pierre-Yves Dermagne requesting that action be taken to clarify the demarcation between the duties of the Flemish and Federal Governments regarding the supervision of asbestos removal, demolition, laboratory testing and asbestos waste collection. Although the Flanders Government had pledged to make Flanders an asbestos-free region by 2040, there is still, said Minister Demir, insufficient monitoring of many key aspects of the asbestos regime. See: Minister calls for stronger checks on asbestos removal.
 

Madrid Metro Settlement

Aug 15, 2022

As a result of an agreement reached by asbestos-injured workers and/or surviving family members with the company which runs the Madrid Metro, the Prosecutor’s Office asked the Madrid Court to drop the asbestos case against the company. The investigation into claims of negligence against several high-ranking executives who were in charge of occupational health and safety matters will be dropped in light of the resolution of the case and the payment of compensation. None of the Madrid Metro accused will now be charged. See: El juez archiva el caso del amianto en el Metro de Madrid tras la petición de Fiscalía y los acuerdos de indemnización [The judge files the Madrid Metro asbestos case at the request of the Prosecutor's Office following compensation agreements].
 

The Illegal Departure of the Sao Paulo

Aug 15, 2022

Many of the key facts and issues regarding the sale of the Brazilian aircraft carrier the Sao Paulo to a Turkish buyer were examined in the article cited below. Legal steps taken to stop the departure of the ship included an August 4, 2022 injunction by the 16th Federal Court of Rio de Janeiro ordering the ship to return to the Port of Rio de Janeiro. This ruling was obtained by the Brazilian Institute of Lawyers (IAB). The ship did not return. A spokesperson for the Brazilian Association of Asbestos Victims said: “In our view, it is a crime against the environment that the Brazilian authorities allowed an asbestos-containing aircraft carrier to sail towards Turkey despite all risks.” See: Asbestli Gemi Brezilya’da da Tartışılıyor [Asbestos Ship Discussed in Brazil].
 

The End of Asbestos Housing

Aug 11, 2022

On August 5, 2022 during a session at the National Assembly, the Government of Mauritius announced plans to demolish 1,800 asbestos-contaminated social housing units built in the 1960s. New housing will be constructed to replace those destroyed but there was no response to requests by campaigners for access to a work schedule. The use of asbestos was prohibited in Mauritius by the Dangerous Chemicals Control Act 2004. See [subscription site]: A Maurice, des logements sociaux promis à la destruction à cause de l’amiante [In Mauritius, pledge to demolish social housing due to [presence of] asbestos].
 

National Asbestos Controversy

Aug 11, 2022

The escalating controversy over plans to send an asbestos-laden former Brazilian warship to a Turkish scrapping yard has generated a wider debate about the country’s ongoing failures to address the asbestos hazard despite the fact that Turkey officially banned asbestos in 2010. Asbestos-containing products – such as fireproofing tapes, gloves, wire, gaskets etc. – can still be purchased in Turkey from online shopping sites. According to the Istanbul Chemicals and Chemical Products Exporters' Association, 21 Turkish companies exported asbestos-containing products worth $27,200 dollars in January 2022. These illegal actions are possible due to a lack of government oversight and import/export controls. See: Türkiye’nin asbest tablosu [Turkey's asbestos table].
 

Legal Breakthrough for Asbestos Claimants

Aug 11, 2022

Solicitors in Scotland have set a new precedent with a verdict handed down in the case Kelman v Moray Council. This ruling will benefit future asbestos claimants as it supported a more lenient approach to the question of when plaintiffs knew or ought to have known that they suffered from an asbestos-related condition. In 1999, Mr Kelman was diagnosed with pleural plaques; when he developed mesothelioma in 2019, the defendants argued that legal action was time-barred. The Judge disagreed, finding that even though Kelman was aware of his asbestos related diagnosis in 1999, he had not known he could bring a claim and therefore the limitation period had not yet started. See: Recent ruling will have significant impact on asbestos related claims.
 

Asbestos Profits More than Halved

Aug 11, 2022

Accounts published on August 5, 2022 by Russia’s second biggest asbestos conglomerate: Uralasbest reported that net profits had fallen dramatically from 544 million rubles for the first half of 2021 to 204 million rubles for the same period in 2022. Uralasbest Director Yakov Remennik blamed the downturn on the depreciation of the US dollar, the stagnation of the construction market and a substantial increase in the rate of taxation levied on asbestos mining enterprises. There was, curiously, no mention made of the impact of Western sanctions imposed due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. See: «Ураласбест» сократил чистую прибыль в 2,5 раза [Uralasbest reduced net profit by 2.5 times].
 

Asbestos at Air Base

Aug 11, 2022

The Torrejón military air base in Madrid has “thousands of meters of heating pipes” covered with deteriorating friable asbestos material. According to asbestos removal specialist Diego González: “The pipes are rotten. It's the scariest place I've worked on… I'm still surprised. The workers and those who come to the air base are not aware of the risk. They are exposed. Asbestos is everywhere.” Questions put to the Ministry of Defense about the toxic state of the base were not answered. See: El amianto más peligroso infecta la base aérea militar de Torrejón: "No había visto nada igual en 10 años. Está disuelto como el polen" [The most dangerous asbestos contaminates the Torrejón military air base: “I had not seen anything like it in 10 years. It is distributed like pollen”].
 

Mesothelioma on the Italian Railways

Aug 11, 2022

Last week, a Court in Velletri – a commune in the Metropolitan City of Rome – issued a victim’s verdict when it awarded the widow of train driver Maurizio Di Meo a lump sum of €80,000 (US$ 82,000) plus a monthly pension of €1,600. Mr. Di Meo died in 2018 from the cancer mesothelioma due to workplace asbestos exposures. The deceased, who was from the town of Colleferro, had been employed by the State Railways; he was only 60 years old when he died. The compensation will be paid by the National Institute for Occupational Accident Insurance [Istituto nazionale per l'assicurazione contro gli infortuni sul lavoro (INAIL)]. See: Macchinista delle Ferrovie morto a causa dell'amianto. L'Inail pagherà [Railroad driver died due to asbestos [exposure]. Inail will pay].
 

More Asbestos Lies!

Aug 10, 2022

The article cited below listed lies being spread about a draft piece of Ukrainian legislation (Bill No. 4142) on public health, intended to bring the country into compliance with the EU legal system. Amongst the most targeted provisions of the bill is, said Mykhailo Radutsky, the proposal to ban asbestos. The disruptors, who use multiple methods to spread false rumours including Russian bot farms, say that these provisions will force Ukrainians to remove asbestos roofing; this is untrue. as the prohibition only bans the use of new asbestos material. See: Михайло Радуцький спростував найвідоміші фейки про законопроект № 4142 про систему громадського здоров’я [Mykhailo Radutsky refutes the most notorious lies concerning draft law No. 4142 on the public health system].
 

Raising Asbestos Awareness

Aug 10, 2022

Rapid industrialization, the retirement of experienced workers and a lack of training in occupational health and safety (OHS) for current staff have resulted in a perfect storm in Laos which ensured that hazardous workplace conditions, including exposures to asbestos, remained a fact of life. A 3-day course was held this summer in Vang Vieng, Vientiane Province by the Laos Federation of Trade Unions (LFTU) and Australia’s Union Aid Abroad – APEHDA to train junior union officials in asbestos eradication and workplace safety. The objectives of the sessions included building OHS capacity of LFTU members who, in turn, would be able to raise grassroots awareness of the asbestos hazard. See: Junior union officials trained on asbestos safety.
 

Cancer Hotspots from Toxic Rainwater

Aug 10, 2022

An elevated incidence of cancer has been reported in villages near Bangladesh coast, with experts explaining that the rise in cases was the result of drinking rainwater collected on asbestos-cement roofs. Saiful Islam from the locality of Shyamnagar in the North Indian State of West Bengal told a journalist that most of the local homes were covered with asbestos roofing: “People know its adverse impact on the human body but they ignore the consequences,” he said. Muhammad Nazmul Hasan, from the village of Chandmukhi, said his family stopped using rainwater collected on the asbestos roof after his father Abdul Sattar died from cancer in February 2022. See: Growing asbestos use causing deadly diseases in coastal Bangladesh.
 

Act Now to End Asbestos “Shame”

Aug 10, 2022

The British Occupational Hygiene Society, the Chartered Society for Worker Health Protection and the Faculty of Asbestos Assessment and Management (FAAM) last week urged Tory leadership hopefuls to end the “national shame” of asbestos-related deaths, calling for a “proper national plan” to stop toxic exposures currently killing 5,000 Britons/year, and condemning the “wishy-washy” response to a Parliamentary report calling for a 30-year deadline for asbestos eradication. “The government,” said FAAM’s Jonathan Grant, “needs to have a proper joined-up strategy using research, tax incentives, communication, building control, the conveyancing system, technology and the opportunities arising from the greening of buildings.” See: Tory leadership hopefuls urged to end ‘national shame’ of asbestos deaths.
 

Asbestos-Cement Company Annual Report

Aug 10, 2022

According to a new report issued by the Russian asbestos-cement Belgorodasbest company, a subsidiary of Russia’s 2nd biggest asbestos producer: Uralasbest, business is good. Belgorodasbest recorded a net profit increase for the first half of the year of 1.7 times what was earned in the same period last year. According to the company’s report, the net profit for January-June 2022 was 58.3 million rubles vs 34.7 million rubles for the first half of 2021. See: Перешедший “Ураласбесту” “Белгородасбестоцемент” в I полугодии увеличил чистую прибыль в 1,7 раза [Belgorodasbestocement, taken over by Uralasbest, increased its net profit by 1.7 times in the first half of the year].
 

Asbestos Hazard at Fukushima

Aug 10, 2022

According to an August 4, 2022 news report, large amounts of asbestos material used in the construction of Units 1 to 6 of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant remain in place even though the plant is being decommissioned as a consequence of the 2011 nuclear accident. Because of the radioactive contamination of the reactor building, the removal of the asbestos is even more complicated than usual: “There are about 1,700 cubic meters of asbestos insulation wrapped around pipes, but only 90 cubic meters (about 5%) have been removed.” See: 福島第1原発に残り続けるもう一つの「危険物」とは [What is another “dangerous material” that continues to remain at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant?].
 

Madrid Metro: Final Report

Aug 8, 2022

The final report by the Prosecutor’s Office on conditions at the Madrid Metro was issued on August 4, 2022; it condemned the company’s management for multiple failings as a result of which workers were exposed to asbestos and contracted asbestos-related diseases, including fatal cancers. The company had not, the report concluded, evaluated the risk of occupational asbestos exposure from 1986 to 2017; as a result, no safety measures had been put in place to address the asbestos hazard. See: Sin equipos de protección, sin información y sin controles de salud: las irregularidades en el caso del amianto del Metro de Madrid [Without protective equipment, without information and without health controls: the irregularities in the Madrid Metro asbestos case].
 

Tax Cuts for Asbestos Industry

Aug 8, 2022

Earlier this month, the Russian Ministry of Industry and Trade announced plans to implement measures to reduce taxation on the asbestos industry by reclassifying it within the framework of the Tax Code in the group of “non-metallic raw materials used mainly by the construction industry,” and not in the category of mining and chemical raw materials. This measure will, said a Ministry spokesperson, improve the stability of the largest producers of chrysotile asbestos – Orenburg Minerals and Uralasbest – as well as benefit other Russian companies processing and selling chrysotile asbestos. See: Минпромторг предложил вывести асбест из-под повышенной ренты [The Ministry of Industry and Trade propose to remove asbestos from higher tax category].
 

Mesothelioma Research: New Findings

Aug 8, 2022

A retrospective study by Brazilian doctors to evaluate the efficacy of measures in place between 2009 and 2020 to diagnose patients with malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM) concluded that: “the unfamiliarity of health professionals with MPM and the patient's lack of knowledge of prior asbestos exposure were the major factors to cause a long time interval between the onset of symptoms and beginning of treatment.” As a result of these delays, few patients survived for more than one year. The co-authors called for “progressive improvements in the abilities to recognize MPM…” See: Mesothelioma in a developing country: a retrospective analysis of the diagnostic process.
 

Toxic Legacy on Prince Edward Island

Aug 8, 2022

The authorities on Prince Edward Island, one of Canada’s eastern maritime provinces, have announced plans to conduct asbestos audits at 39 government-owned sites. Testing will be done simultaneously to establish whether other toxic materials such as lead paint or mercury are also present. Tourist attractions, historic sites and public buildings will be surveyed. It has not yet been announced what the budget for this work is to be; no results are expected before March 2023. According to provincial spokesperson April Gallant: “Intact and undisturbed asbestos presents no direct health hazard but does present a potential exposure hazard should fibres be released and inhaled.” See: Province to assess 39 sites for asbestos.
 

Asbestos Alert in the Pacific Region

Aug 8, 2022

A new publication has raised public concern in Fiji over the hazard posed by asbestos waste deposited in landfill: “while buried material may not give rise to airborne asbestos fibres if securely contained, inappropriate disturbance of this waste could give rise to harmful levels of asbestos fibres in air,” warned the Model Asbestos Management Policy Report. The publication by the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme, which was funded by the EU, warned that “the management and disposal of asbestos and asbestos containing materials (ACM) was an ongoing concern in the Pacific region.” See: Asbestos – an ‘ongoing concern’.
 

Working to Eradicate the Asbestos Hazard

Aug 8, 2022

Plans have been announced by representatives of the Kyushu-Okinawa region and Yamaguchi Prefecture to work with a specialist company that conducts surveys and provides advice on how to prevent asbestos exposures during work on damaged buildings in the aftermath of disasters. According to Governor Kabashima: “Kumamoto Prefecture has experienced major disasters such as earthquakes and heavy rains, and has recognized the importance of initial responses to prevent scattering of asbestos.” See: 九州沖縄各県と山口県 アスベストの調査行う2団体と協定 [Kyushu Okinawa Prefecture and Yamaguchi Prefecture Agreements with two organizations that conduct asbestos surveys].
 

Asbestos Hazard to the Aegean

Aug 3, 2022

The Greek language article cited below highlighted the implications for the Aegean region of the import of a toxic Brazilian warship to Turkey. The Sao Paulo is due to set sail on August 5; there could be around 900 tonnes of asbestos on board. The ship was purchased by a Turkish company which applied for and was granted permission to scrap it in Aliağa. Campaigners who are trying to block this illegal international transfer of hazardous waste argue that the Ministerial permission obtained was based on paperwork that was both incomplete and incorrect. See: Πως η Τουρκία απειλεί την υγεία των νησιωτών μας προξενώντας παράλληλα τεράστια οικολογική καταστροφή στο Αιγαίο [How Turkey threatens the health of our islanders while at the same time causing a huge ecological disaster in the Aegean].
 

Court Issues Victim’s Verdict

Aug 3, 2022

On August 1, 2022, a court in Grosseto, Tuscany Italy handed down a plaintiff’s verdict when it ordered Italy’s Interior and Defense Ministries to pay compensation of €400,000 (US$ 410,000) to the family of Antonio Ballini who had been exposed to asbestos whilst in the Italian Navy from 1965 to 1968; he died in 2014 aged 69 from the asbestos cancer mesothelioma. His widow will also receive a lifetime pension of €1,900/ month. See: Amianto, ministeri dell'Interno e della Difesa risarciranno vedova di un militare della Marina [Asbestos, interior and defense ministries will compensate widow of a navy soldier].
 

Asbestos Closes Manchester Court

Aug 3, 3033

According to HM Courts & Tribunals Service, the “building issue” which closed Manchester Crown Court last week was the discovery of material suspected to contain asbestos. When the building was constructed in the 1960s, asbestos-containing products were routinely used for fireproofing and/or insulation purposes. Tests by specialist contractors are ongoing and urgent cases have been moved to Minshull Street Court, Manchester and Bolton Crown Court. According to the Ministry of Justice, £100 million was spent in 2021 on court maintenance and repairs. See: City centre court shut down for urgent asbestos tests.
 

Navarra’s Toxic Asbestos Legacy

Aug 3, 2022

A victim’s association in Navarra, Spain – the Navarra Asbestos Association (ANANAR) – has announced that in the five years of the Group’s existence, 52 people in the local community have died from asbestos-related diseases. A spokesperson for the Group said that 3,000 people in Navarra are now living with asbestos-related diseases. ANANAR is lobbying the regional government to initiate an asbestos eradication program in order to protect citizens from future exposures. As of now, only 10% of the asbestos in Navarra’s built environment has been removed. See: En Navarra hay más de 3.000 personas afectadas por el amianto [In Navarra there are more than 3,000 people affected by asbestos].
 

Asbestos Hot Potato

Aug 3, 2022

The authorities of the small fishing village of Marsaxlokk, Malta have told the Times of Malta that the municipal budget does not have funds for the removal of toxic asbestos pipes dumped on the roadside over two months ago; the council’s annual budget is €400,000 a year. Although the removal of the waste is the responsibility of the council the town is not, said officials, able to pay €9,500+ to collect and dispose of the hazardous waste safely. The Environment and Resources Authority has been offered the Department of Local Government assistance with any environmental permits that may be required to handle this waste, but has not offered financial support to remediate the toxic waste. See: Local council says it does not have the money to remove roadside asbestos pipes.
 

New Asbestos Licensing Regime

Aug 3, 2022

Under new and stricter rules for asbestos removal in Fiji, licenses are now required for specialist contractors engaged in asbestos eradication work concerning friable material. The adoption of measures recommended in a report published by the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme means that asbestos removalists must consult multiple duty holders as well as property occupiers and neighbors before work is carried out. The objective of the new regime is to prevent toxic exposures to asbestos operatives and members of the public, and thereby reduce the incidence of asbestos-related diseases. See: Asbestos removal requires licence.
 

Asbestos Marketing Drive in Thailand

Aug 2, 2022

According to the article cited below, a spokesperson for the largest asbestos conglomerate in Thailand believed that local building material producers were looking to increase asbestos imports from Russia from 40,000 tons per year to 200,000 tons per year. Three thousand Thai workers are currently employed by asbestos companies; this figure could increase to 5,000, the company spokesperson predicted. Thailand could, he said “become a kind of regional hub for the production of asbestos products in Southeast Asia. ‘Currently, we are exporting finished asbestos products to neighboring countries’”. See: Производители в Таиланде заинтересованы в наращивании объемов поставок асбеста из России [Producers in Thailand are interested in increasing the volume of asbestos supplies from Russia].
 

Victory for Barcelona Metro Worker

Aug 2, 2022

At a July 29 press conference, the news was delivered that a Barcelona court had set a precedent by ruling that the mesothelioma death of a worker for the Barcelona Metro company had been due to workplace asbestos exposures. The Judge found it was “highly probable that the deceased (the worker) was in contact with asbestos, especially in the years 1988 and 1989, when he provided services as an electrical installer. It is possible that this exposure was not intense or prolonged, but that does not rule out that he contracted the disease for that reason.” The company plans to appeal the verdict. See: Un juzgado social reconoce por primera vez el amianto como causa de la muerte de un trabajador del metro de Barcelona [Social court recognizes asbestos for the first time as the cause of the death of a Barcelona metro worker].
 

Asbestos Research Program

Aug 2, 2022

A scientific project entitled: Asbestos-Related Respiratory Diseases in [Italian] Industrial Areas is recruiting subjects to participate in this 3-year research program, the purpose of which is to establish the effects of occupational asbestos exposures and to identify early markers of disease in at-risk subjects. This is a joint study headed by Dr Roberto Cherchi from Cagliari, Italy and Professor Pierluigi Cocco, Manchester, UK working in collaboration with the Italian Association of the Asbestos-Exposed (AIEA). See: Si cercano volontari per un nuovo studio sulle esposizioni all’amianto [Volunteers are sought for a new study on asbestos exposures].
 

Say No to Toxic Brazilian Export

Aug 2, 2022

In a joint press release by Turkey’s Confederation of Progressive Trade Unions (DISK) and Brazil’s Confederation of Trade Unions (CUT), the organizations pledged to fight plans to export the asbestos-laden former warship the São Paulo from Brazil to Turkey to protect shipbreaking workers in Turkey, members of the public and the environment. DISK and CUT called on their respective governments to “carry out impartial and transparent inspections and to comply with international conventions.” See: “CUT ve DİSK olarak asbestin ve gemi söküm işlemlerinin işçilere, halk sağlığına ve çevreye verdiği zararlara karşı birlikte mücadele edeceğiz!” [“CUT and DISK will fight together against the damage caused by asbestos and shipbreaking processes to workers, public health and the environment!”].
 

Toxic Pipes, Toxic Water

Aug 2, 2022

The Wallonia Water Society [Société Wallonne des Eaux (SWDE)] has been publicly condemned by a resident of Bernissart, a city in the Belgian province of Hainaut, for failing to address the hazard posed by the 3,100 kilometers of asbestos-cement pipes installed in the 1950s and still being used to deliver the municipality’s water. These pipes contain up to 15% asbestos which can, it is claimed, leach into the drinking water. See: “La SWDE n’a pas l’air de s’en tracasser”: Vincent dénonce la présence d’amiante dans les canalisations d’eau potable en Wallonie, “une matière cancérigène” [“The SWDE does not seem to care”: Vincent denounces the presence of asbestos in the drinking water pipes in Wallonia, “a carcinogenic material”].
 

Asbestos Eradication in Florianópolis

Aug 2, 2022

In a July 28, 2022 news clip on NDTV – a Brazilian state television network based in the city of Florianópolis, the capital city of Santa Catarina State – a reporter announced that city officials had declared their intention to remove asbestos from all public buildings following the practice adopted in countries such as Italy, where measures were being taken to protect occupational and public health by eradicating asbestos from the built environment. According to news reports, Florianópolis is the first Brazilian city to embark on an asbestos eradication program. See: Prefeitura de Florianópolis vai remover amianto de prédios públicos [Florianópolis City Hall will remove asbestos from public buildings].
 

Protest over Arrival of Brazilian Warship

Jul 29, 2022

On July 28, 2022, there was a demonstration by the People's Liberation Party (HKP) outside the Aliağa headquarters of the company which plans to dismantle a Brazilian warship which is due for arrival in Turkey within the next few weeks. The vessel – most recently called the São Paulo – contains more than 600 tonnes of asbestos. HKP members and supporters object to the import of the toxic ship and are calling for Ministers to rescind permission for its import into the country. See: HKP'den asbestli gemiyi sökecek şirketin önünde protesto: 'İnsanlık suçu işlemekteler' [Protest in front of the company that will dismantle the ship with #asbestos from HKP: 'They are committing crimes against humanity'].
 

Asbestos Hazard & Firefighters

Jul 29, 2022

Whilst the hazard posed by occupational asbestos exposures to firefighters continues to remain unrecognized in most parts of Spain, this week the Gran Canaria Firefighters Consortium was added to the Register of Companies with Asbestos Risk (RERA). Inclusion in the RERA, will result in greater protection and prevention measures being implemented to limit toxic workplace exposures to firefighters on the island of Gran Canaria. The CCOO Spanish trade union, which has been campaigning for this recognition, welcomed the news. See: Por primera vez se reconoce en España la exposición al amianto de un parque de bomberos [For the first time, exposure to asbestos in a fire station is recognized in Spain].
 

New Asbestos Link to Asia

Jul 29, 2022

On July 24, 2022, for the first time, a new rail-sea link was used for the export of asbestos mined in China. This link will, it was claimed, streamline the movement of goods, reduce costs and shipping times. The initial shipment of Chinese asbestos was composed of four containers of 80 tonnes. The goods will go by train to Qinzhou Port, Beibu Gulf, Guangxi; from there, the cargo will go to Indonesia. In 2019 and 2020, Indonesia was, respectively, the 4th and 5th biggest asbestos-consuming nation in Asia. See: 肅敦煌首次通過西部陸海新通道鐵海聯運列車出口石棉 [Dunhuang, Gansu exports asbestos for the first time through the rail-sea combined transport using the new western land-sea passage].
 

Asbestos Exposure in the Navy

Jul 29, 2022

This week news was circulated that the Labor Court of La Spezia. a port city in Liguria, Italy, had condemned the Ministry of Defense (MoD) and ordered it to pay interim compensation of €100,000 (US$102,000) to the family of a civilian employee of the Navy who died from the asbestos cancer mesothelioma in October 2017. The Judge ruled that the MoD had not taken measures to safeguard the workforce from exposures to asbestos. A hearing in September 2022 at a court in Genoa will finalize the total compensation due to the plaintiffs; this sum could exceed a million euros. See: Morte da amianto per mesotelioma, condannato il Ministero della Difesa [Death from mesothelioma caused by asbestos, Ministry of Defense sentenced].
 

Mesothelioma Victory over Insurers

Jul 29, 2022

The July 27, 2022 High Court Judgment of Mrs. Justice Yip was the first reported verdict in a direct action against an insurer for a living mesothelioma claimant. In her decision, the Judge found that the Third Parties (Rights against Insurers) Act 2010 applied to this mesothelioma claim because the plaintiff’s cause of action was not completed until after 1 August 2016, the date the 2010 Act came into force. Shortly before the trial, Zurich Insurance PLC had agreed to pay compensation of £650,000 plus an indemnity for future medical costs. Even though the Independent Insurance Company Limited was insolvent, the judge ordered it to pay compensation of £204,076. See: Judgment Mr Michael Keegan Claimant - and - (1) Independent Insurance Company Limited (2) Zurich Insurance PLC.
 

Toxic Tourism in the Urals

Jul 29, 2022

The Russian language blog cited below extolled the scenic wonder, technological advances and tourist potential of the chrysotile asbestos quarry belonging to the Uralasbest company in the town of Asbest. A link to a website to arrange future bookings for this adventure was helpfully included in the text. The author, who was most impressed by the metallurgical furnace at the factory, did not mention the fact that exposure to chrysotile asbestos can cause a variety of cancers as well as respiratory diseases. See: Завод «Эковер»: как производят теплоизоляцию и искусственный грунт [Ecover plant: how thermal insulation and artificial soil are produced].
 

Asbestos Conference in Rome

Jul 26, 2022

On July 26, 2022 a conference is being held in Rome to consider Italy’s asbestos legacy, 30 years after the country had banned the use of all types of asbestos. Amongst the speakers will be leading medical experts, researchers, technical experts and politicians who will reflect on progress made in eradicating the hazard and the multitude of challenges remaining. The presence of asbestos-containing material in deteriorating building stock, the asbestos contamination found in soil and rural areas will also be discussed. See: Amianto, ambiente, salute: l’analisi della situazione a Roma Capitale d’Europa [In Rome, an analysis of the situation regarding asbestos, the environment, and health].
 

New EPA Asbestos Discovery in Dallas

Jul 26, 2022

According to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), asbestos fibers found in soil samples from yards near the former site of the Texas Vermiculite Company were the result of the company’s manufacturing operations from 1953 to 1992. Although the plant was decontaminated, no testing or remediation had ever been done in the West Dallas properties near the former W.R. Grace vermiculite processing plant. Between 1967 and 1992, nearly 400,000 tons of vermiculite ore from Libby, Montana was used at the plant. Many of the workers and residents of Libby have contracted asbestos-related diseases. See: EPA Finds Asbestos in the Soil Near the Former W.R. Grace Plant in West Dallas.
 

Plans to Develop Toxic Rochdale Site

Jul 26, 2022

The purchase in 2021 by ESG Trading Ltd. of the land on which the notorious Turner Brothers Asbestos (TBA) factory once stood for a “mixed use development” has, once again, rung alarm bells amongst the local community. Former TBA employees and campaigners have repeatedly warned the council that asbestos waste which was dumped on the site remained in place. No asbestos audit or environmental clean-up has been carried out of the 72-acre site. Plans to turn the site into a nature preserve and wildlife sanctuary are supported by local councillors and members of the public. See: World’s biggest asbestos factory in Rochdale ‘should become a nature reserve not a housing site’.
 

Asbestos Removal from Schools

Jul 26, 2022

A news clip broadcast on July 23, 2022 on the South African Broadcasting Company reported the intention of the Education Department of the Northern Cape to remove the asbestos hazard from all the province’s school by 2030. Work will begin on a handful of institutions this year; the others will be decontaminated as funding becomes available. In interviews with local people, this initiative was warmly received. South Africa, formerly the only country in the world to produce amosite, chrysotile and crocidolite asbestos banned the use of all types of asbestos in 2008. See: Northern Cape education pledges to get rid of asbestos schools by 2030.
 

Rebranding by Johnson & Johnson

Jul 26, 2022

Having withdrawn its talc-based baby powder from North American markets – it remains on sale elsewhere – in 2020, Johnson and Johnson (J&J) has launched a new range of baby care products: Vivvi & Bloom. Marketed under this brand are body wash and shampoo, body lotion and a massage oil. The 34,000 cancer claims against J&J arising from the asbestos fibers allegedly contained in its iconic baby powder remain in limbo due to the use of contentious legal instruments via which J&J dumped its asbestos liabilities into a company which was immediately put into bankruptcy. See: J&J launches new baby care brand amid ongoing asbestos controversy.
 

Government Flim-Flam over Asbestos Crisis

Jul 22, 2022

On July 21, 2022 the House of Commons Work and Pensions Committee published the Government’s response to the Committee’s report about the validity and functionality of the asbestos policy operated by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). The priorities and scope of the HSE’s operations, when compared to those in neighboring countries, were found to be outdated. On a cursory reading, the Government’s reply is an amorphous collection of words which, when taken together, give the impression that things will eventually improve but that any action such as setting a 40-year deadline to eradicate the asbestos hazard is presumptive and not cost effective. See: The Health and Safety Executive’s approach to asbestos management: Government Response to the Committee’s Sixth Report of Session 2021–22.
 

Legal Breakthrough by Asbestos Victims

Jul 22, 2022

On July 19, 2022 it was announced that an agreement had finally been reached by the Madrid Metro company with the relatives of 13 deceased employees and 7 injured workers. All of the claimants had suffered from asbestos-related diseases contracted via occupational exposures. The CCOO – the largest trade union in Spain – called the agreement a “great milestone” as it not only secured compensation for those who had been injured already but secured compensation for future claimants who will no longer have to take legal action to safeguard their right to fair and equitable treatment. See: Fin a años de calvario de las víctimas del amianto de Metro de Madrid [End to years of ordeal for the victims of asbestos in the Madrid Metro [company]].
 

Support for Immediate Asbestos Ban

Jul 22, 2022

A July 20th blog by the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), based on its 39-page submission to the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) over plans to finally end the use of chrysotile (white) asbestos in the US, encouraged the EPA to act more decisively by: banning asbestos within 6 months, securing workers the same protections from asbestos exposures as would be provided for members of the public, “not consider costs or other non-risk factors in risk evaluations,” etc. See: EPA Takes Important Step to Ban Chrysotile Asbestos.
 

Toxic Exports to Turkey

Jul 22, 2022

On July 19, 2022, European NGOs sent a five-page letter to Carolina Fiorillo Mariani, the Director of the Department of Environmental Quality of the Brazilian Institute of Environmental and Renewable Natural Resources about plans to send a redundant Brazilian aircraft carrier to Turkey for dismantling. The authors of the text raised multiple concerns about the export of the São Paulo which was, they said, laden with asbestos-containing material, PCBs and other toxins. Having reviewed the Inventory of Hazardous Materials and the Recycling Plan for the ship, they concluded that the “export of the SÃO PAULO to Turkey is likely illegal…Brazil must halt the export. We urge Brazil to do so.” See: Letter to Carolina Fiorillo Mariani.
 

Asbestos Hazard for Firefighters

Jul 22, 2022

The commentary cited below explained key elements of a July 18, 2022 publication by Italy’s National Institute for Occupational Accident Insurance (INAIL) entitled: Fire and explosion risk in construction. Prevention and emergency procedures. The widespread use of asbestos building material in Italy during the 21st century meant that the majority of the national infrastructure remains contaminated. The focus of the INAIL document was on measures needed to prevent or minimize asbestos exposures during or after conflagrations, such as access to asbestos building audits and the use of specialist clothing, personal protective equipment and state-of-the-art safety protocols. See: Edilizia: la gestione degli incendi in presenza di amianto [Construction: fire management in the presence of asbestos].
 

Asbestos Precedent Set in Italy

Jul 21, 2022

A hurdle was overcome in Italy last week with a Court of Appeal ruling which accepted that a psychological injury had been sustained due to the fear of contracting an asbestos-related disease. Claimant Claudio Visintin had been routinely exposed to asbestos whilst employed as a docker in the Port of Trieste from 1970 till 1981; as a result of these exposures, he contracted pleural plaques. His application for compensation for this condition was denied in 2015. Since then, his psychological state had deteriorated and he was diagnosed with PTSD. See: Trieste: Tribunale accoglie appello di Visintin colpito da disturbo psichiatrico per esposizione ad amianto [Trieste: Court accepts Visintin's appeal of suffering from psychiatric disorder due to exposure to asbestos].
 

Asbestos Antiques?

Jul 21, 2022

Controversy is rife over the sale by the New York auction house Sotheby’s of two refectory tables by the 20th century French designer Jean Prouvé which contained asbestos material. The tables, topped with a type of sheetrock, were made from Granipoli concrete which is a mixture of cement and asbestos. The first 1939 table was sold in December 2021 for $988,000 whilst the second was sold in June 2022 for $1.6m. Antiques dealer Jonathan O’Hea raised the alarm when he read that the piece was made of “fibrated Granipoli concrete.” See: Sotheby’s Sold a Jean Prouvé Table for $1.6 Million Last Month—But Didn’t Mention It Might Contain Asbestos.
 

Contaminated Ship gets Import Licence

Jul 21, 2022

The São Paulo, a former Brazilian aircraft carrier purchased on March 12, 2021 by a Turkish shipbreaking company, is on its way to Aliağa after the Ministry of Environment, Urbanization and Climate Change on May 30, 2022 approved an import license submitted by the purchaser Sök Denizcilik. People living near the Aliağa shipbreaking yards, environmental campaigners, technical experts and politicians had been campaigning to block the import of the vessel which contained an estimated 600 tonnes of asbestos-containing material and, which they alleged, constituted an environmental and ecological time bomb. See: Asbest yüklü gemi Aliağa’ya getiriliyor: Toplu katliam demek [Asbestos-laden ship is brought to Aliağa: It means mass murder].
 

Cape Asbestos Company’s Legacy

Jul 21, 2022

The timely article cited below, which was published in the July 21, 2022 issue of the London Review of Books, underlined the toxic legacy still wreaking havoc on British citizens who were occupationally, environmentally or domestically exposed to asbestos-containing products manufactured by the Cape Asbestos Co. After a fierce legal battle by the Asbestos Victims Support Groups Forum, a treasure trove of corporate documents revealed the contentious measures Cape and its partners had adopted to prevent government action on the asbestos hazard and suppress damning evidence about the results of human exposures. In 2017, Cape was taken over by Altrad, a French construction company, which accepts no responsibility for Cape’s deadly legacy. See: Bad Dust.
 

Living and Dying from Asbestos Diseases

Jul 21, 2022

A book published in July had contributions from 26 authors, each of whom had first-hand knowledge of the disastrous consequences of Japan’s use of asbestos. The texts were written from two perspectives, 12 from the experiences of sufferers and 14 from carers; subjects discussed included the tortuous process to obtain a diagnosis and the effects of the disease on marital relationships and family dynamics. The editor was Professor Sumiko Oshima of Hokusei Gakuen University. Between commissioning the book and publication three of the 12 patients had died. See: 中皮腫の告知、受け止め前へ 患者・家族26人の体験記を出版 [Publication of the experiences of 26 patients and their families prior to receiving and accepting mesothelioma diagnoses].
 

Navy Goes Greenish!

Jul 21, 2022

A spokesperson for the Italian Navy last week announced that the infamous asbestos roofing at the Navy’s warehouses in Marola, La Spezia will be remediated and replaced by solar panels as part of a drive for sustainability. The presence of the deteriorating Eternit asbestos-cement roofing at the maritime base has long been a bone of contention with local people. Removal work will begin with the remediation of building 166. The decontamination is part of a logistical upgrade and development project in the Marola area. See: La Spezia, dove c'è l'amianto la Marina installerà pannelli solari [La Spezia, where there is asbestos, the Navy will install solar panels].
 

Alert: Asbestos in Building Debris

Jul 18, 2022

The environmental repercussions of the Russian bombardment of Ukraine were the focus of the article cited below. The author explained that due to the historic use of asbestos-containing building products – especially roofing material – throughout Ukraine, there is a very real chance that building rubble could contain asbestos fibers; exposure to asbestos can cause a series of respiratory conditions as well as deadly diseases including multiple types of cancer. Ukrainians were warned that toxic asbestos waste must be wrapped and disposed of only at designated sites; it should never be discarded elsewhere. See: Украинцам объяснили, в чем главная угроза здоровью от разбомбленных домов [Ukrainians told of the main threat to health from bombed house [debris]].
 

Union Support for Asbestos Fund

Jul 18, 2022

Last week, the Spanish UGT – the General Union of Workers – issued a statement supporting a vote by the Chamber of Deputies to set up a National Asbestos Victims’ Fund. Whilst welcoming news of a political consensus regarding the scheme, the CGT queried details not yet finalized including: the precise nature of who is eligible to bring a claim, how much compensation would be paid and whether payments would be tax exempt. The UGT is also urging that Spanish citizens who handled asbestos at work should be allowed to retire early. See: UGT valora la aprobación del texto de Ley para la creación del Fondo de Compensación de las Víctimas del Amianto [UGT values the approval of the text of the Law for the creation of the Asbestos Victims Compensation Fund].
 

Asbestos in Schools: New Inspections!

Jul 18, 2022

From September, schools in England, Scotland and Wales can expect pre-arranged visits from Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspectors tasked with ensuring that duty holders are in compliance with government guidelines and regulations for safely managing asbestos in the built environment. A poll undertaken in 2019 by the Department for Education found that nearly one in five (17.8%) of schools were not managing asbestos “in line” with government guidance. The same report also confirmed the presence of asbestos in more than 80% of the country’s schools. See: Schools face asbestos inspections from September.
 

Twelve States for Asbestos Ban

Jul 18, 2022

A letter dated July 13, 2022 was sent by a coalition of Attorney Generals (AGs) from 12 states to the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency Michael Regan calling for an immediate and total ban on the use of the remaining types of asbestos still used in the US. Commenting on the AGs’ action, California’s AG Rob Bonta said: “Public health and the integrity of our communities go hand in hand. This isn’t something that’s up for debate: Asbestos harms people, it weakens communities, and puts at risk the lives of those who come into contact with it… we are urging EPA to do all it can to better protect the public from the dangers of asbestos.” See: Attorney General Bonta Calls for Stronger Protections Against Toxic Asbestos.
 

Hired Gun Goes to Novara

Jul 18, 2022

On July 11, 2022 a US defendant expert gave evidence at the criminal trial in Novara, Italy of Swiss entrepreneur Stephan Schmidheiny. As would be expected, the testimony of Gary Marsh was in direct contrast to that of other experts. The prosecutors laboriously extracted admissions from Marsh that he had testified on behalf of US defendants including Monsanta, pharmaceutical corporations as well as the American Chemistry Council. Marsh argued that in asbestos cases what mattered was “the time from the first exposure (or first exposures) to the fiber” and not cumulative exposures. See: Esperto Usa sulla diffusione di fibre: gli usi impropri di amianto in città più colpevoli della fabbrica Eternit [US expert on the spread of fibres: misuse of asbestos in the city more culpable than the Eternit factory].
 

New Mesothelioma Treatment Approved

Jul 18, 2022

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has recommended (see: NICE final appraisal determination document) the first immunotherapy treatment for 14 years for NHS treatment of mesothelioma patients. A combination of nivolumab plus ipilimumab will now be available for the first-line treatment of adult patients with unresectable malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM) in England and Wales. Commenting on this news, Professor Nick Maskell said: “Combination immunotherapy with ipilimumab/nivolumab has shown superiority over chemotherapy and the decision to approve this provides a new routinely available standard of care for NHS patients.” See: New drug treatment approved for asbestos-related cancer patients in England and Wales.
 

Asbestos in Incheon Schools

Jul 14, 2022

At a morning press conference on July 14, 2022 in Incheon, Korea members of a coalition of campaigners, parents and technicians announced the results of their 2022 survey of Incheon schools. According to the data collected, one third (280) of all the elementary, middle and high schools (968) still contain asbestos material. A spokesperson of the Incheon Federation of Environmental Movements Shim Hyung-jin told the meeting: “In order to make an asbestos-free school [system] by 2027, we need to establish a monitoring system and transparently monitor the demolition process.” See: 인천 유초중고 중 1/3은 석면학교…“대책 마련 돼야" [One-third of Incheon elementary, middle and high schools are asbestos schools… “Measures must be taken”].
 

Ban Asbestos NOW!

Jul 14, 2022

In a commentary uploaded on July 12, 2022, the North American coalition of Public Interest Research Groups (P.I.R.G.) called on the US Government to follow the lead of 70 other countries and implement a comprehensive and immediate ban on the use of asbestos. In it’s commentary, the P.I.R.G. noted that: “There is overwhelming evidence that there is no safe level of exposure to asbestos” and that “asbestos exposure contributes to thousands of Americans dying from asbestos-related illness and disease each year.” See: UPDATE: 9,227 comments submitted urging EPA to ban deadly asbestos.Jul 14, 2022
 

Eradication of Toxic Landscaping

Jul 14, 2022

On July 13, 2022, environmental and consumers’ groups welcomed news of the removal of two huge landscaping boulders from the grounds of Incheon Grand Park. The work was undertaken by city authorities after a successful campaign raised public awareness that the stones contained deadly asbestos fibers. The work had been carried out on July 12. According to a press spokesperson for Incheon Grand Park: “The removed asbestos landscape stone was safely disposed of by a professional asbestos treatment company.” See: 인천 환경단체 "인천대공원 석면 조경석 철거 환영" [Incheon environmental group “Welcome to the removal of asbestos landscaping stone at Incheon Grand Park”].
 

Isle of Man Acts on Asbestos

Jul 14, 2022

In August 2022, new regulations to protect workers on the Isle of Man from toxic exposures to asbestos will be introduced, with prohibitions on the sale of asbestos-containing building products. In addition, the Manx Government approved UK 2012 regulations introducing responsibilities to duty holders, property owners and employers to minimize occupational asbestos exposures. Currently, there are no Manx laws in force which prohibit people from working with asbestos. According to Environment Minister Clare Barber “the legal duty and guidance would protect people's health and allow the government to better monitor and manage the risks.” See: Isle of Man adopts new rules to protect workers from asbestos.
 

Yet More Asbestos Propaganda!

Jul 13, 2022

A Russian language article uploaded on July 12, 2022 extolled the virtues of home-grown Russian chrysotile (white) asbestos and highlighted the myriad of products made using it, including asbestos-cement pipes used for flood control. The focus of the text is the large-scale installation this month (July 2022) of asbestos pipes in the city of Vladimir, 120 miles east of Moscow, to prevent flooding which is common during the rainy season. There is no mention in the text of the article about the carcinogenic nature of chrysotile or the human health hazards posed by its use. See: Хризотиловый водоотвод: решение проблем с затоплением на десятилетия [Chrysotile drainage: solving flood problems for decades].
 

Save Phoenix House Campaign

Jul 13, 2022

The MP for Barrow Furness Simon Fell is leading a campaign to reverse plans to close the Barrow office of the Department for Work and Pensions in September 2023. According to Fell, staff at Phoenix House have a unique expertise in handling industrial injuries and disablement benefits claims, many of which are from people suffering from asbestos-related diseases. The appeal to the Secretary of State is supported by local people as well as members of the Asbestos Victims’ Support Groups Forum which highly values the work of the 40 staff members at Phoenix House. See: MP’s campaign to save 40 ‘vital’ civil servants in Barrow.
 

Calls for National Asbestos Commission

Jul 13, 2022

On June 15, 2022, the Social Affairs Commission of the Chamber of Deputies, the lower house of the Italian Parliament, approved a bill to establish a National Committee of Inquiry on Asbestos. The first signatory of the bill Deputy Federico Fornaro urged colleagues to support the draft legislation saying: “It is important that the political forces unanimously agree on the establishment of a commission of inquiry on asbestos and on the remediation of contaminated sites. The battle against asbestos is a battle that continues today.” See: A Roma, Fornaro: «Servono risorse per eliminare l’amianto in Italia» [In Rome, Fornaro: “Resources are needed to eliminate asbestos in Italy”].
 

The Eric G. Saint Award 2022

Jul 13, 2022

At the AGM of the Asbestos Diseases Society of Australia (ADSA) this month, the 2022 recipient of the prestigious Eric G. Saint Award was named as Professor Richard Lake, Acting Director of the National Centre for Asbestos Related Diseases – a Perth-based world class facility progressing research into treatments for mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases. In announcing the award, Counsellor and Head of the ADSA Advisory Service Rose Marie Vojakovic said “Professor Lake is a very humble and dedicated researcher.” For nearly 40 years, Prof. Lake has been at the forefront of research into tumor immunology with a focus on mesothelioma. His many research papers, which have been cited many times, continue to inspire the work of other scientists. See: Prof Richard Lake awarded the ADSA Eric G. Saint Award.
 

EPA Asbestos Action

Jul 13, 2022

On June 29, 2022, a notice was published in the Federal Register regarding the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) evaluation of the health hazards posed by legacy uses and disposal of asbestos in the US. Subjects covered in Asbestos Part 2 included: the conditions of use, hazards, exposures and at-risk populations. According to an EPA spokesperson, the document will be finalized no later than December 1, 2024. As of now, there is no ban on the use of asbestos in the US. See: Asbestos Part 2 Supplemental Evaluation Including Legacy Uses and Associated Disposals of Asbestos; Final Scope of the Risk Evaluation To Be Conducted Under the Toxic Substances Control Act; Notice of Availability.
 

Asbestos in Schools

Jul 13, 2022

According to Northern Ireland’s Education Authority (EA), nearly 90% of its 1,100 schools contain asbestos; most of them contain chrysotile (white) asbestos but hundreds also contain amosite (brown) asbestos and crocidolite (blue) asbestos. There were, said the EA in a response to an assembly question by SDLP assembly member Colin McGrath, “strict processes in place for asbestos management.” Asbestos is also present in other NI public buildings which were built or refurbished prior to the UK 1999 asbestos ban. See: Asbestos identified in majority of schools in Northern Ireland.
 

Increase in Mesothelioma Mortality

Jul 8, 2022

Data collected by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) was published this week, documenting 2,544 mesothelioma deaths in Great Britain in 2020, a 6% increase compared with 2019. Eighty-two percent of the fatalities were male and 18% female. The majority (65+%) of mesothelioma deaths occurred in people aged over 75 years with the mortality rate increasing in this cohort; the incidence of death decreased amongst people under 65. As has been observed in the past, men employed in the construction industry were in the most high-risk category for contracting mesothelioma due to the widespread use of asbestos-containing products in this industrial sector. See: Mesothelioma statistics for Great Britain, 2022.
 

Asbestos Exports Blocked, Again!

Jul 8, 2022

News was reported this week of the latest decision in what has been called in Brazil the war of the injunctions. In her decision, Judge Alessandra Aranha, ruled that the laws of Goiás State only extend to “the geographical limits of the state.” It follows, therefore, that asbestos fiber mined in Goiás under a state law which countermands a 2017 Supreme Court asbestos ban, cannot be transported through other states, such as São Paulo (SP), which have banned asbestos. Therefore, cargo from the SAMA asbestos mine cannot be exported from SP’s Port of Santos. See [Subscription only]: Mineradora sofre derrota judicial contra exportações de amianto, minério cancerígeno [Mining suffers legal defeat against exports of asbestos, carcinogenic ore].
 

National Asbestos Legacy

Jul 8, 2022

In a recent public pronouncement, a spokesperson for the Latvian Ministry of Environmental Protection and Regional Development said: “There is nothing worse than burying asbestos-cement in the ground or breaking it up to put on the road or along the edges of flower beds.” Although asbestos use was banned in Latvia over 20 years ago, old material was still being recycled or illegally dumped by roads or in the countryside. Highlighting the hazards of exposure to asbestos, the author of the article cited below said that the problems caused by the use of asbestos was a classic example of ignoring the precautionary principle before adopting a potentially toxic technology. See: апрещен, но не забыт. Почему шифер все еще большая проблема? [Banned but not forgotten. Why is asbestos-cement still a big problem?].
 

Transitioning to Asbestos-Free Material

Jul 8, 2022

The article cited below about the use of green technology for construction of housing in Vietnam highlighted the long-term hazard posed by asbestos-containing building products which not only had “a direct effect on construction workers but also … a negative impact on the health of people living in the house after completion.” When inhaled, chrysotile (white) asbestos fibers “can cause serious diseases such as lung cancer, mesothelioma, asbestosis and lead to death.” Safer products are available such as PVA roofing sheets, corrugated iron sheets, plastic corrugated sheets and unbaked tiles which do not endanger health or the environment. See: Giải pháp sử dụng vật liệu an toàn cho sức khỏe khi xây nhà [Solutions to use safe materials for health when building houses].
 

Grassroots Initiative in Matsumoto

Jul 8, 2022

At a press conference in Matsumoto City, Japan on July 7, 2022, representatives of the Nagano Prefecture Asbestos Countermeasure Center – a coalition of trade unions and non-governmental organizations – highlighted the hazard posed to health by the presence of asbestos remaining within the national infrastructure. An outreach initiative scheduled to take place on July 17 will facilitate free telephone consultations between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. for people concerned about toxic exposures. Individuals seeking face-to-face appointments with the legal and medical experts at Matsumoto City Labor Hall will need to pre-book. See: 今月17日にアスベスト相談会を開催 主催団体が利用呼びかけ [Asbestos counselling session will be held on the 17th of this month].
 

Mesothelioma Risk for Firefighters

Jul 5, 2022

On July 1, 2022, in a press release issued by the World Health Organization and the International Agency on Research on Cancer, it was announced that after a new evaluation of the carcinogenicity of occupational exposure to firefighters, it was shown that there was “sufficient evidence” to conclude this cohort of workers had elevated incidences of the signature asbestos cancer mesothelioma and bladder cancer. Worldwide, there are more than 15 million part-time as well as permanent firefighters. See: IARC Monographs evaluate the carcinogenicity of occupational exposure as a firefighter.
 

Asbestos Legacy during Wartime

Jul 5, 2022

The environmental and ecological effects of Russia’s constant bombardment of Ukraine were the subject of the article cited below. The repercussions of the destruction of natural eco-systems and the pollution of the environment will not only be felt throughout Europe but will also exacerbate the climate crisis. The widespread usage of asbestos in Ukraine in the past has left a deadly legacy in the bombed-out ruins and damaged infrastructure with asbestos fibers becoming airborne and thus a potent human health hazard. See: Випалена земля і забруднена вода: катастрофічні екологічні наслідки війни Росії проти України [Scorched Earth and Polluted Water: Catastrophic Environmental Consequences of Russia's War Against Ukraine].
 

Asbestos Alert in İzmir

Jul 5, 2022

News was circulated last week confirming the dangerous consequences for workers and communities located near Turkish shipbreaking facilities. When tested by a laboratory, samples taken of suspect material from a vessel at the Kılıçlar yard in İzmir-Aliağa were found to be amosite (brown) asbestos, an acknowledged carcinogen. See: İşçiler numuneyi gizlice gönderdi, laboratuvarda en tehlikeli asbest türü olduğu ortaya çıktı: İzmir-Aliağa’da Kılıçlar firması işçilere çıplak elle asbestli gemi söktürüyor [Workers secretly sent sample which turned out to be the most dangerous type of asbestos in the laboratory: Kılıçlar firm in İzmir-Aliağa has workers dismantle asbestos ships with bare hands].
 

Scotland’s Asbestos Legacy

Jul 5, 2022

On Action Mesothelioma Day last week, the article cited below was featured in the Herald, a Scottish broadsheet newspaper. The author of the text reported that due to the country’s industrial heritage, there was a high incidence of asbestos cancer in Scotland. In recent years, campaigners and medical experts have mobilized new support routes for the injured including the national clinical network for mesothelioma which delivers high quality, equitable care to all of Scotland’s affected patients and their families. In addition, cutting edge research into the development of new treatment protocols is being progressed by scientists at the University of Glasgow.See: Agenda: Help us fight this pernicious cancer with links to asbestos.
 

Asbestos Victims’ Fund: Update

Jul 5, 2022

A new agreement has been reached amongst political groups in Spain’s Congress of Deputies to support plans to establish a national fund to compensate occupational, environmental and domestic victims of asbestos exposure. Approval for the scheme, which is expected to be granted within three months, will be required from the Ministry of Inclusion, Social Security and Migration. The fund will be administered by the National Institute of Social Security and have a board of directors which will include trade unionists and asbestos victims’ representatives. See: Buenas noticias para las víctimas del amianto: el gobierno compensará a las victimas del amianto [Good news for asbestos victims: the government will compensate asbestos victims].
 

Europe’s Asbestos Hazard

Jul 1, 2022

An article on a Russian website on June 28, 2022, reported the findings of an EU report about the hazard posed by environmental exposures to a variety of toxins. The text concluded that 10% of all cancers contracted in Europe were due to such exposures. Whilst the author of the Russian article noted that: “Second-hand smoke and asbestos are well-known carcinogens and have been heavily regulated in recent years,” he failed to mention that Russia is the world’s largest supplier of asbestos and continues to maintain that asbestos can be used safely and is a boon to people in developing countries. See: Названа причина каждого десятого случая рака в Европе: что это и как все исправить [The cause of every tenth case of cancer in Europe named: what it is and how to fix it].
 

Victory for Power Station Worker

Jul 1, 2022

This week, a court in Florence issued a victim’s verdict when it awarded the bereaved family of 77-year old electrician Ronaldo Cerri €1 million+ (US$1,042,693+) in compensation for his death in 2016 from the asbestos cancer mesothelioma. The court found that his employer Enel had been grossly negligent in having failed to protect workers at the Marzocco power plants in Livorno from exposures to asbestos. From 1966 to 1986, Mr. Cerri had maintained the plants’ asbestos-insulated turbines. See: Operaio vittima dell’amianto: lavorava nella centrale del Marzocco, Enel condannata per 1 milione di euro [Worker victim of asbestos: he worked in the Marzocco plant, Enel ordered to pay 1 million euros].
 

Environmental Exposures & Cancer

Jul 1, 2022

On June 28, 2022, the European Environment Agency uploaded a web report, Beating cancer – the role of Europe’s environment, which laid out a multi-pronged European Union (EU) strategy for reducing the cost of exposures to toxins such as asbestos. In the 27 EU Member States, ~2.7 million people are diagnosed with cancer and 1.3 million die from it every year. In 2018, the economic costs of the disease were estimated to be €178 billion (US$187 bn). Although asbestos has long been banned in the EU, products containing it remain in place. Multiple EU safeguards have been introduced to protect workers and consumers from asbestos exposures and preparatory work to lower the existing occupational exposure limit to asbestos is underway. See: Exposure to pollution causes 10% of all cancer cases in Europe.
 

Civil Society Campaign for UN Action

Jul 1, 2022

The experiences of Indonesian ban asbestos campaigners who took part in the June 2022 meeting of the Rotterdam Convention (RC) in Geneva strengthened their resolve to continue efforts to protect vulnerable populations from the deadly dangers of asbestos exposures. In the article cited below, asbestosis sufferer Mr Sriyono and activist Ajat Sudrajat reported that asbestos stakeholders had, once again, blocked United Nations progress on regulating the global trade in asbestos, an acknowledged carcinogen. At a plenary session, Mr Sriyono urged RC delegates to take action to prevent more people, like himself and his co-workers at an asbestos textile factory, from contracting asbestos-related diseases. See: “We will not stop raising our voices” – Indonesian delegates defiant at Rotterdam asbestos conference.
 

A Vacation to Die For!

Jul 1, 2022

A photographic essay by a travel reporter extolled a recent visit she made to the asbestos quarry and plant operated by Uralasbest, Russia’s 2nd biggest producer of chrysotile (white) asbestos. Amongst the 13 images included in the text was a selfie showing the author reflected in the mirror of one of the huge dump trucks operating in the open pit mine. A brief recap of the history of the town of Asbest in the Sverdlovsk region is provided to give some context to the photographs. At no point in the article are the carcinogenic properties of asbestos mentioned. See: Гигантский асбестовый карьер: как добывают горный лен [Giant asbestos quarry: how chrysotile asbestos is mined].
 

Compensation for Victim’s Family

Jul 1, 2022

A Bilbao Court condemned Cuprum SA for failing to protect its workforce from asbestos exposures and ordered it to pay compensation of €154,771 (US$161,064) to the family of a 63-year old worker who died in 2017 from the asbestos cancer mesothelioma. The Court accepted evidence presented that: no safety measures had been implemented by the company to minimize levels of airborne asbestos fibers; there was no training of workers or protective clothing provided; and no medical examinations of the workers had been carried out. See: Condenan a Cuprum SA a pagar 154.771 euros a la familia de un fallecido por amianto [Cuprum SA is ordered to pay 154,771 euros to the family of an asbestos deceased].
 

Landmark Ruling in Venice

Jun 27, 2022

On June 22, 2022, a verdict from the Court of Appeal in Venice confirmed the responsibility of four Admirals from the Italian Navy for having caused the asbestos-related deaths of six soldiers. Whilst the sentences were light, one or two years in jail, the defendants were also ordered to compensate the bereaved families, pay court costs and pay compensation to the civil parties in this trial, including the Association of Democratic Medicine and the Italian Association of the Asbestos-Exposed. The Venice ruling overturned a first instance decision by the Padua Court. See: Vittime amianto Marina Militare, sentenza storica: scatta la condanna [Military asbestos victims, historic sentence: the sentence is confirmed].
 

Asbestos Alert in Aliağa

Jun 27, 2022

Technical experts and trade unionists last week announced that the dismantling by the Kiliçlar shipbreaking company of the ship named Gökhan Han in the Turkish city of Aliağa had been undertaken without precautions or measures to prevent toxic exposures to asbestos-containing material on board the vessel. Concerns over the inadequacy of the working conditions led to samples being taken which, when analysed in a laboratory, confirmed the presence of amosite (brown) asbestos in the suspect material. See: ASUD ve EİB açıkladı: Asbestli 'Gökhan Han' gemisi Aliağa'da sökülüyor [ASUD and EİB announced: Asbestos ship 'Gökhan Han' is being dismantled in Aliağa].
 

Asbestos Awareness: New Initiative

Jun 27, 2022

Despite the fact that asbestos use was banned in Australia nearly 20 years ago, asbestos-containing products remain in one third of the country’s domestic properties. The Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency is launching a campaign to “encourage sellers to disclose the presence of asbestos in their properties to minimise the health risks for buyers.” In addition, ASEA is calling on landlords to inform renters of the presence of asbestos in order to prevent toxic exposures. As of now, it is not required to identify asbestos as part of pre-purchase building inspections in Australia. See: The danger still being found in 33 per cent of Australian homes.
 

Remining Asbestos Mining Waste

Jun 27, 2022

On June 23, 2022, a spokesperson for the Uralasbest company – Russia’s 2nd largest asbestos producing conglomerate – announced that plans were on course for the construction of Russia’s first plant to extract magnesium, mainly in the form of magnesium sulfate, for agricultural use, from mountains of asbestos mining waste in the city of Asbest, Sverdlovsk Region. According to Andrei Litvinov, construction will start next year with completion in 2025; the plant will produce 20,000 tonnes of magnesium sulfate per year for consumption at home and abroad. See: Первый в России завод по производству спортивной магнезии появится в Свердловской области [Russia's first plant for the production of magnesia from waste will appear in the Sverdlovsk region].
 

Quebec Asbestos Waste Project

Jun 27, 2022

The Provincial Government of Quebec has allocated $500,000 to the company SIGMA Devtech to progress its ECO2 Magnesia project which will process magnesium-rich asbestos waste from the former Carey chrysotile asbestos mine situated in the cities of Tring-Jonction and Sacré-Coeur-de-Jésus. Production of magnesium oxide at this site will begin in 2024. During the first phase of this project, 160,000 tons of asbestos mining waste will be processed and 20,000 tons of magnesium oxide will be produced. See: Québec octroie 500 000 $ dans la revitalisation des résidus d'amiante [Quebec grants $500,000 for reprocessing asbestos residues].
 

Asbestos-Cement Industry: Update

Jun 27, 2022

According to Yakov Yalansky, director of the asbestos- cement products department of Ural Chrysotile JSC, the company is increasing the range of products and volume of output to take advantage of the growth in Russia’s asbestos-cement industry. Forty million rubles (US$750,000) is being invested in the modernization of the 114 year-old Bryansk asbestos-cement production facility, the oldest such factory in Russia. See: Группа компаний BF Tech направит до 40 млн рублей на восстановление одного из старейших заводов России [BF Tech group of companies will allocate up to 40 million rubles for the restoration of one of the oldest plants in Russia].
 

Occupational Asbestos Exposures: Update

Jun 23, 2022

A commentary on the website of the Environmental Defense Fund, a US environmental advocacy group, highlighted, the disconnect between government policies to safeguard the health of the general public and workers. The text cited below focused on proposed rules by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) which would permit “a risk level to workers 100 times less protective than for everyone else!” As far as the EPA is concerned, there is a “higher acceptable cancer risk for workers than the rest of the population.” See: Workers are people too; EPA should treat them that way.
 

Update from Novara Trial

Jun 23, 2022

On June 22, 2022, asbestos technical expert Andrea D'Anna testified at the asbestos criminal trial of Stephan Schmidheiny in the Court of Assizes in Novara, Italy. According to his evidence, the majority of environmental asbestos exposures in the town of Casale Monferrato resulted “from the erosion of the roofs, the re-suspension of the dust in open attics. paved courtyards and streets due to the mechanical action of crumbling.” Asbestos emissions from the Eternit factory in the town were, he said, very low. The next hearing in this trial will be on July 11, 2022. See: Eternit Bis: «L’amianto in centro? Non solo per la fabbrica» [Eternit Bis: “Asbestos in the center? Not just the factory”].
 

Northern Ireland’s Asbestos Epidemic

Jun 23, 2022

A BBC investigation into asbestos issues in Northern Ireland (NI) documented 800+ asbestos-related deaths between 2009 and 2020 with an almost 60% increase in mortality in 2020 compared to 2019. Since 1972, the number of asbestos deaths has been increasing every year. Improvements in diagnosing these diseases could, said Northern Ireland's coroner, be leading to more asbestos-related diseases being listed on death certificates. The case of mesothelioma sufferer Tony Rogers was discussed at some length; the 65-year old social worker died in 2022. As a student, Mr Rogers had worked on a building site; however, there was not enough evidence to establish if that is where he was exposed to asbestos. See: Asbestos: Calls for awareness over exposure-related deaths in Northern Ireland.
 

Quebec’s Asbestos Mining Legacy

Jun 23 2022

The reaction of a Quebec environmental campaigning group – The Irish Trout Lake Protection Association – to a press conference at Thetford Mines last week highlighted the ecological contamination posed by the erosion of asbestos mining waste in the region, with a focus on the pollution of the Bécancour River with asbestos fibers and heavy metals including chrome, nickel and copper. The implementation of a plan to remediate Quebec’s mountains of asbestos waste is awaited. See: Plan d’action de 38,5M $ pour le passif minier: un pas dans la bonne direction, mais… [$38.5M action plan for mining liabilities: a step in the right direction, but…].
 

Johnson & Johnson Decried

Jun 23, 2022

It comes to something when a pro-industry advocacy organization – The American Council on Science and Health – widely acknowledged for its bias in favor of industry, condemns the American pharmaceutical giant Johnson and Johnson (J&J). In an article on its website, J&J’s use of the “Texas two-step” to deprive dying cancer victims of compensation was soundly condemned as a gross betrayal of the company’s mission statement to “put the interests of ‘mothers and fathers and all others who use our products and services’ above those of shareholders.” See: Thinking Out Loud: The Texas Two-Step.
 

Mr Fluffy Taskforce to Shut

Jun 23, 2022

A billion dollar government initiative to address the toxic legacy posed by the use of loose-fill asbestos insulation (Mr Fluffy) in domestic properties in the Australian capital is to be ended at the end of this month (June 2022). Since it was set up in 2014, the ACT (Australian Capital Territory)  Government’s Asbestos Response Taskforce has helped remediate more than 1,000 properties. According to the Minister for Sustainable Building and Construction Rebecca Vassarotti, although, asbestos remains an issue in the ACT community, the Taskforce had done its job: “We’re almost at the point where we have completely eradicated loose-fill asbestos in the community…” See: ‘Significant milestone’: Mr Fluffy taskforce to shut up shop at the end of the month.
 

Environmental Disaster in Ukraine

Jun 20, 2022

A repercussion of the Russian invasion of Ukraine not often mentioned was the focus of the article cited below which considered the nature and amount of construction debris caused by the continued bombardment of the country. The quantity of the rubble, much of which is contaminated with toxic substances like asbestos, dwarfs Ukraine’s capacity to dispose of it to landfill sites. A new Law on Waste Management is under consideration by a Parliamentary Committee. In the meantime, Ukrainians are warned to use precautions when dealing with toxic waste including debris from asbestos roofing. See: Будівельне сміття: куди подіти залишки об'єктів інфраструктури? [Construction waste: where are the remnants of infrastructure to go?]
 

More Propaganda from Asbestos Lobby

Jun 20, 2022

The article cited below extolled a “victory” achieved by a Russian-led cabal at a UN meeting in Geneva last week where just five countries blocked attempts to list chrysotile asbestos on Annex III of the Rotterdam Convention; substances on this Annex are subject to mandatory regulations designed to ensure that importing countries have sufficient information to make informed decisions about whether they can be used safely by its citizens. According to the author, chrysotile asbestos is an indispensable boon to populations in developing countries; the fact that it is classed as a class 1 carcinogen is not mentioned. See: Антиасбестовые активисты не смогли запретить хризотиловый асбест [Anti-asbestos activists failed to ban chrysotile asbestos].
 

Expose: Debacle at UN Convention

Jun 20, 2022

In three languages, the Swiss-based NGO Solidar Suisse detailed how a handful of asbestos stakeholders once again prevented the UN’s Rotterdam Convention from taking action on the unregulated global trade in chrysotile asbestos. Despite a well-attended side event, correspondence to the RC Secretariat, the testimony of an Indonesian asbestos victim, a June 14th demonstration and other initiatives to draw the attention of delegates to the disastrous consequences of the asbestos free-for-all, a Russian-led veto exploited a contentious Convention loophole to stonewall progress. See: Action in Geneva: Stop Asbestos at Last! [English, German, French].
 

Loopholes Denying Justice to Cancer Plaintiffs

Jun 20, 2022

A 28-minute Behind the Money podcast broadcast on June 15, 2022 which was entitled “Inside Johnson & Johnson’s Bankruptcy two-step” told the story of American couple Val and Holly Johnson who on May 5, 2020 decided to sue Johnson & Johnson, alleging that the company’s negligence had led to Val contracting the deadly cancer mesothelioma. According to the Johnsons, the company had sold asbestos-containing talc-based baby powder knowing that this contamination could cause consumers to contract cancer. On October 5, 2020, a jury awarded 61-year old Val $27 million, finding J&J guilty of “malice or fraud… as well as negligence.” Due to financial machinations by the company, it now looks unlikely that he or his wife will ever see a penny. See: Inside Johnson & Johnson’s bankruptcy two-step.
 

Quebec Government Backs Waste Project

Jun 20, 2022

At a press conference on June 16, 2022 André Bachand, a member of the national Assembly of Quebec, announced the Province’s backing of plans to exploit 800 million tonnes of asbestos mining waste in Thetford Mines and Val-des-Sources – an asbestos mining town formerly called Asbestos – to extract magnesium, nickel and silica. According to Minister of the Environment Benoit Charette, who was also present at the Thetford Mines press conference, the Quebec Government has allocated $38 million+ to develop measures to “decontaminate, rehabilitate and reclaim” land polluted by the asbestos mining industry throughout the 20th century. See: Une deuxième vie pour les déchets d’amiante [A second life for asbestos waste].
 

Serpentine: California Resource and Hazard

Jun 20, 2022

Serpentine rock, found in northern and central California, can contain chrysotile (white) asbestos fibers. Oddly enough, Serpentine is the state mineral of California. Although, California’s Air Resources Board acted in 1990 to minimize hazardous exposures, the use of crushed Serpentine as a road surfacing material, liberated and continues to liberate toxic fibers as did the development of new housing in El Dorado Hills, a suburb of Sacramento where deposits of naturally occurring Serpentine rock were bulldozed and reused. Monitoring of asbestos fiber levels in El Dorado Hills identified contamination in the air, soil, and water. See: Environmental Asbestos Risks in California.
 

Asbestos Veto in Geneva

Jun 15, 2022

During a June 14th plenary session debate at the Rotterdam Convention (RC), a multilateral UN treaty dedicated to protecting populations and the environment from exposures to toxic substances, a handful of countries once again blocked the inclusion of chrysotile asbestos on Annex III. Listing of chrysotile, which has been recommended by the RC’s Chemical Review Committee, would ensure that importers were provided with vital information on the hazards posed by chrysotile so that they might make an informed decision about whether it can be used safely. The veto on progress was orchestrated by the asbestos-producing and using countries of Russia, Kazakhstan, India, Pakistan and Zimbabwe. See: Earth Negotiations Bulletin: Report of main proceedings for 14 June 2022.
 

Deadly Demonstration

Jun 15, 2022

The day before the UN’s Rotterdam Convention was scheduled to vote on adding chrysotile asbestos to a list of dangerous substances, workers from the Uralasbest company – Russia’s 2nd biggest asbestos producer – held a public protest. Using bales of chrysotile asbestos to spell out the words “NO BAN” and 90 Uralasbest employees to spell out the word “CHRYSOTILE,” they made their feelings known about any measures which could adversely impact on global asbestos sales. As always, the fact that chrysotile is a class 1 carcinogen was ignored by the propagandists. See: No chrysotile ban! Уральские рабочие против международного запрета горного льна [No chrysotile ban! Ural workers against the international ban on chrysotile].
 

Asbestos Compensation Scheme: Update

Jun 15, 2022

On June 13, 2022, the upper house of the National Diet of Japan unanimously approved an amendment to the Asbestos Health Damage Relief Law which reinstated the rights of families who had suffered asbestos bereavements to claim special survivor benefits, by extending a deadline of March 27, 2022 for a further ten years. The deadline had been extended twice before and there was a national outcry when the Government had allowed the scheme to lapse. See: 改正アスベスト健康被害救済法 参院本会議で可決・成立 [Amendment of Asbestos Health Damage Relief Law Passed and enacted at the Upper House plenary session].
 

Pro-Asbestos Bias Denounced

Jun 15, 2022

Within the Indian Government there is a disconnect on the human and environmental health risks posed by exposures to asbestos. Asbestos mining has been banned throughout the country, likewise the trade in asbestos waste, and work is ongoing to remove asbestos from 7,000 railway stations. Nevertheless, the Ministry of Chemicals continues to rely on an out-dated study co-sponsored by the asbestos industry which downplayed the toxic effects of asbestos exposures on workers to block the United Nations’ Rotterdam Convention from taking action to protect global populations from toxic exposures. See: Chrysotile asbestos: Chemicals Ministry hostage to NIOH's old, ‘discredited’ study.
 

Congressional Hearing on Asbestos Ban

Jun 13, 2022

On June 9, 2022, invited speakers addressed members of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works at a hearing to gather evidence regarding pending proposals to prohibit the use in the US of all types of asbestos fiber and all types of products containing asbestos fiber. Amongst those giving evidence on bill S. 4244 were experts representing asbestos victims and trade unions, medical experts, and spokespersons from commercial interests. The draft legislation was introduced by Senator Jeff Merkley and Representative Suzanne Bonamici. See: A Legislative Hearing on S. 4244, Legislation to Prohibit the Manufacture, Processing, and Distribution in Commerce of Asbestos.
 

Problematic Rotterdam Convention

Jun 13, 2022

The Swiss-based NGO Solidar Suisse last week published online resources to apprise delegates to the 10th Conference of the Parties to the Rotterdam Convention, meeting in Geneva this week, of the urgent need to overcome existing hurdles and take action to: “list onto Annex III of the Convention, all CRC (Chemical Review Committee) recommended hazardous chemicals and substances blocked until now; Redouble efforts to improve the effectiveness of this important Convention; Implement the right to know for all Parties to the Convention and respect the scientific recommendations by the CRC.” See: Convention with Deadly Flaws.
 

Victim’s Verdict in La Spezia

Jun 13, 2022

After two years of litigation, a Labor Court in La Spezia, Italy delivered a verdict against the Ministry of Defense (MoD); the court found that the MoD had negligently exposed a civilian worker at the Maricommi naval base to asbestos as a result of which he contracted the asbestos cancer mesothelioma and died in 2017. From 1958 to 1994 the deceased had worked as a handyman and was routinely handling asbestos-containing materials installed on electrical panels, boilers and other equipment. The MoD was ordered to pay the family of the deceased the sum of €100,000 (US$105,220). See: Morto per amianto nel 2017, Ministero della Difesa condannato a risarcire la famiglia [Died of asbestos in 2017, Ministry of Defense sentenced to compensate his family].
 

Post-Disaster Reconstruction Hazard

Jun 10, 2022

The insightful and timely article cited below, which was uploaded on June 8, 2022, highlighted the environmental and ecological disaster in Ukraine caused by the Russian invasion. “One issue of serious concern,” wrote the co-authors “is the problem of unprecedented asbestos contamination, at a scale that the world is ill-equipped to deal with… Ukraine itself was [whilst part of the Soviet Union] a major producer of asbestos, and used high volumes of asbestos-containing materials in construction.” It’s believed that up to 60% of roofing in the country is asbestos-cement material. See: Rebuilding Ukraine: The Imminent Risks.
 

Attack on UN Convention

Jun 10, 2022

On June 8, 2022, the Building and Woodworkers’ International (BWI), which represents 13 million trade unionists worldwide, affirmed its “commitment to our allies and partner trade unions and civil society organisations to rescue the Rotterdam Convention from being highjacked by asbestos lobbyists, ensuring that it will fully realise its mandate,” according to a statement by its General Secretary Ambet Yuson. The BWI was disappointed that the Convention’s Secretariat had allowed the International Chrysotile Association, an asbestos lobbying group, “to participate in the COP 2022 in Geneva as an observer and even hold a pro-asbestos side event.” See: Inclusion of pro-asbestos group in Rotterdam Convention COP condemned.
 

Asbestos Outreach Care

Jun 10, 2022

On June 9, 2022, a new asbestos outreach program was announced by officials from the Korean city of Sacheon, Gyeongnam. Anyone who believed that he/she was exposed to asbestos can obtain a free health checkup for asbestos injuries without booking by attending clinics between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. at the Hyangchon-dong Administrative Welfare Center (June 25) and the Sacheon-eup Administrative Welfare Center (June 26). During these sessions, individuals will consult a doctor, have an X-ray taken and fill out an asbestos exposure history questionnaire. See: 사천시, 찾아가는 석면피해 무료 건강검진 [Free health checkup [facility] for asbestos damage visiting Sacheon City].
 

Swearing during Papal Audience

Jun 10, 2022

Wearing t-shirts with a swear word, 30 members of an Italian choir performed for Pope Francis in St Peter’s Square, Rome this week. The members of the choir are from the Italian province of Alexandria, in the Piedmont region, which is a hotspot for a deadly cancer (mesothelioma) caused by exposure to asbestos. Asbestos was widely used throughout Italy until it was banned in 1992. Italy’s biggest asbestos-cement factory was located in Casale Monferrato, Piedmont; as a result of occupational and environmental exposures, local people as well as workers from the Eternit company’s plant have died. See: The F-word appears at a papal audience, but for a good cause.
 

Denounced for Blocking UN Progress

Jun 10, 202

The commentary cited below reviewed the inglorious role India has played in preventing the United Nations from taking action on the global asbestos scourge by listing chrysotile (white) asbestos as a hazardous substance on Annex III of the Rotterdam Convention. The global trade in materials on that list is subject to regulations to provide prior-informed-consent to importing countries so that dangerous products are not brought into nations unable to protect populations from toxic exposures. India has, with asbestos stakeholders from Russia and Kazakhstan, been instrumental in frustrating the will of the majority of parties to the RC who support listing of chrysotile asbestos. See: India May Disagree – but UN Should List Chrysotile Asbestos as ‘Hazardous’.
 

The Polluter Pays in North Carolina

Jun 10, 2022

On June 8, 2022, the US department of Justice issued a press release announcing that a settlement had been reached following legal action begun in 2019 under the Superfund Law by the Federal Government to recoup the costs of removing 4,000 tons of asbestos-contaminated debris at two Superfund Sites in North Carolina. The sum of $1.25 million will be repaid to the Government by Fred D. Godley Jr. and his companies 436 Cone Avenue LLC and F.D. Godley Number Three LLC. Commenting on the outcome, EPA Region 4 Administrator Daniel Blackman said: “EPA is committed to protecting communities by enforcing an individual’s obligations to properly manage and dispose of hazardous waste.” See: Fred D. Godley Jr. and Companies to Pay $1.25 Million for Asbestos Cleanup.
 

Tidal Wave of Asbestos Claims

Jun 8, 2022

On June 7, 2022, nearly 200 new claims were lodged against 20+ companies that had manufactured asbestos building materials by workers and bereaved relatives at district courts in Sapporo, Sendai, Saitama, Tokyo, Yokohama, Kyoto, Osaka, Okayama, Takamatsu, and Fukuoka. Additional legal actions are planned in Tokyo, Nagoya and Fukuoka. The plaintiffs are angry that, while the Government accepted liability for damage done by its failures to protect workers from toxic exposures, negligent manufacturers refuse to pay compensation or contribute funds to a National Asbestos Compensation Scheme. See: 建設アスベスト、新たに190人がメーカー提訴 全国10地裁に [190 construction asbestos cases filed with manufacturers in 10 district courts nationwide].
 

Construction Workers’ Increased Cancer Risk

Jun 8, 2022

On June 2, 2022, an article was uploaded documenting the ongoing battle between European trade unions and construction companies over how to protect workers from occupational exposures to asbestos. According to official statistics, 88,000 people die every year from asbestos-related diseases in the European Union. Many tradespeople who remain at high risk of workplace exposures, despite the fact that asbestos was banned in the EU in 2005, are in the construction sector including: plumbers, electricians, painters etc. Unions are concerned that the EU’s ambitious Renovation Wave program will lead to more toxic exposures unless stricter occupational health and safety measures are put in place. See: Europe’s renovation wave risks exposing workers to asbestos.
 

Eradicating the Asbestos Hazard

Jun 8, 2022

A donation of US$40,000 from the NGO Habitat For Humanity International to the Phu Vang District People's Committee, Vietnam will be used to support the removal of asbestos roofing from 60 homes in the Thua Thien Hue province. The asbestos eradication program is part of ongoing efforts to improve living conditions and public health, and reduce the presence of asbestos in the Phu Vang district. See: HFHI tài trợ hơn 900 triệu đồng giúp cải thiện điều kiện sống, sức khỏe cho người dân Huế [HFHI sponsors more than 900 million VND to help improve living conditions and health for Hue people].
 

Victory for Construction Workers

Jun 8, 2022

On June 3, 2022, a settlement was approved in the Osaka District Court for construction workers in an action against the Japanese Government. The claimants sought damages for occupational asbestos exposures against the Government and the manufacturers of asbestos building materials. One of the successful claims was over the death of a truck driver who had delivered asbestos building materials to a construction site; this is the first time that a claim against the Government by a worker not engaged in construction had succeeded. No settlement was reached with the manufacturers; proceedings continue. See: 建設アスベスト訴訟、トラック運転手の遺族と和解 大阪地裁 [Construction asbestos action settled with truck driver’s bereaved family at Osaka District Court].
 

Waltham Forest’s Asbestos Crimes

Jun 8, 2022

Despite attempts by trade union reps to raise the alarm over asbestos in the London Borough of Waltham Forest (LBWF), officials failed to prevent exposures to asbestos occurring in council buildings. As a result, since 2011 the council has been ordered to pay compensation to four former employees totalling nearly £600,000; the amounts paid out for two other claims remain unknown. Commenting on the Council’s negligence Linda Taaffe, secretary of Waltham Forest Trades Council, said: “If LBWF had acted on matters put to them by local trade union health and safety representatives there is a good chance lives might have been saved and a huge amount of money that the authority could have put to better use would also have been saved.” See: Missed opportunities to avert asbestos risk.
 

Asbestos Research in Galicia

Jun 8, 2022

The results of a Spanish research project by Sara González Veiga has revealed the high price paid by women in Galicia for washing the asbestos-covered clothes of family members. Ms. Veiga’s research was facilitated by local asbestos victims’ groups: ANANAR and AGAVIDA. The researcher highlighted the failure of the authorities to acknowledge or compensate people who contract asbestos-related illnesses as a result of domestic exposures. See: Sara González: “As mulleres tamén enfermaron polo amianto, non son só viúvas ou ‘señoras de” [Sara González: “Women have also become ill with asbestos, they are not just widows or partners [of victims]”].
 

Victim’s Appeal Succeeds!

Jun 3, 2022

On June 1, 2022, it was reported that an appeal on behalf of the family of a deceased steelworker had succeeded. The Court in Taranto, Italy ruled that the decedent’s former employers Telecom Italia Spa and Fintecna Spa were “jointly and severally” liable to pay compensation for the 67-year old worker’s death from pleural mesothelioma, as they had failed to protect him from workplace exposures to asbestos. See: Morte da amianto: scatta la condanna [Death from asbestos: the sentence is confirmed].
 

New Asbestos Regime for House Sales

Jun 3, 2022

On May 25, 2022, it was announced that as of November 23, 2022, it will become obligatory for all homes built before 2001 in Flanders to have an asbestos certificate before they can be sold. It is not a requirement that the asbestos be removed but it is mandatory that a report commissioned from an expert is provided certifying that the property is “asbestos-safe.” According to Ann Cuyckens from the Public Waste Agency of Flanders: “Asbestos is a major problem that we carry with us from the past and that has still not gone away.” See: Asbestos certification required for sale of pre-2001 houses in Flanders.
 

Spreading Awareness and Good Practice

Jun 3, 2022

An asbestos program for officials in the South Korean City of Busan whose duties might bring them into contact with asbestos has been announced. The training program for the civil servants will be compiled and delivered by staff from the Korean Association for Asbestos Safety and Health. Amongst the topics which will be covered are: asbestos removal guidelines, techniques for preventing toxic exposures of removal operatives, and asbestos safety management inspection protocols. See: 한국석면안전보건연대, 2022 첫 '찾아가는 석면안전관리 심화교육' 부산시 공무원 대상 개시 [Korea Association for Asbestos Safety and Health, 2022 first ‘visiting asbestos safety management in-depth education’ for public officials in Busan].
 

Tory Call for Asbestos U-Turn

Jun 3, 2022

In a commentary uploaded to the Conservative Party website on June 1, 2022, Lord Hunt of Wirral, President of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Occupational Safety and Health, cited updated cancer data and Parliamentary findings which quantified the UK’s ongoing epidemic of asbestos-related diseases. The Parliamentarian called on the Government to provide “adequate support for the growing number of asbestos victims… [and] remove this dangerous substance, to protect our future generations, once and for all.” See: David Hunt: Asbestos removal can form a crucial part of levelling up.
 

Update: Novara Asbestos Trial

Jun 3, 2022

On May 30, 2022, the cross-examinations by the public prosecutors took place of three defence expert witnesses in the case against the Swiss billionaire Stephen Schmidheiny accused of causing the asbestos deaths of 392 people from the Italian town of Casale Monferrato. During the next hearing in the Assize Court in Novara on June 22, 2022, defence witnesses occupational physician Mauro Danna and epidemiologist Emeritus Professor Gary Marsh (US) will give evidence. See: Il patologo della difesa: «Quei 392 mesoteliomi? Alcuni certi, alcuni possibili. Magari erano altri tumori» [Defense pathologist: “Those 392 mesotheliomas? Some certain, some possible. Maybe it was other tumors”].
 

Asbestos in Schools

Jun 1, 2022

The Australian media reacted with predictable fury this week to news that the New South Wales Department of Education had given false reassurances in 2016 that Castle Hill High School (CHHS) in Sydney did not contain asbestos. According to a statement made on May 31: “The teachers and parents of CHHS have made numerous complaints regarding Asbestos to the Department of Education over several years which still remain unanswered.” On May 26, 2022, they were finally told that tests undertaken in 2016 had shown the presence of asbestos at the school. Investigations are on-going. See: MP slams Education Department over asbestos found at Sydney school.
 

Holding Guilty Companies to Account!

Jun 1, 2022

On May 30, 2022, members of the National Liaison Committee for Construction Asbestos Litigation met with Japanese Communist Party Diet members to express concern over the continued refusal by building material manufacturers to contribute to the National Asbestos Compensation Fund and to apologize to workers injured by exposure to their toxic products. Members of the House of Representatives who attended the meeting included: Tomo Iwabuchi, Akira Kasai, and Toru Miyamoto. Speaking on their behalf, Mr. Kasai said that: “The fundamental issues of corporate social responsibility and the responsibility of the government are being questioned, and we need political action.” See: 建設アスベスト補償基金 [Construction asbestos compensation fund].
 

Asbestos Hazard in Shipbreaking Yards

Jun 1, 2022

Asbestos contamination and the dangers arising from it are of serious concern to Turkish shipbreaking workers and people living in communities near the shipyards. In the commentary cited below, Health and Safety Specialist Şenay K. Özdoğan answered questions about the public and occupational health hazard posed by asbestos; explaining the type of asbestos fibers, the cancers and diseases which can be caused by inhalation of these fibers and the need to follow strict guidelines and mandatory regulations during shipbreaking operations to minimize the liberation of asbestos fibers. See: Asbest işlerinde işçi sağlığı ve iş güvenliği [Occupational health and safety in asbestos works].
 

Understanding National Asbestos Legacy

Jun 1, 2022

A collection of research papers by Brazilian experts was uploaded to a government website which discussed the causation of asbestos cancer, the underreporting of asbestos-related diseases and mortality data. Epidemiologists revealed that hospital and other data on the incidence of rare asbestos cancers were unreliable as so many asbestos cancers remained undiagnosed. To produce better data, medical guidelines for diagnosing malignant pleura mesothelioma were recommended in a paper by Dr. Eduardo Algranti published in May, 2022. “There is,” he said “not only underreporting, but also underdiagnosis of asbestos-associated cancers.” See: AMIANTO: Artigos abordam exposição ocupacional ao asbestos [ASBESTOS: Articles address occupational exposure to asbestos].
 

Banjima Asbestos Clean-up Campaign

Jun 1, 2022

Aboriginal elder Maitland Parker is dying from asbestos cancer but continues his fight to force the West Australian government to decontaminate the former asbestos mining town of Wittenoom, now officially closed to prevent tourists from taking toxic vacations. “My people were,” says Parker “never consulted about the asbestos mine’s existence in the first place and now no one will talk to us about cleanup either.” Despite the cessation of asbestos mining in Wittenoom over 50 fifty years ago, three million tonnes of dangerous waste remain in and around the town. See: ‘I’m so angry, I’m wild’: the never-ending wait to clean up asbestos town Wittenoom.
 

Ban Asbestos, Save the Planet

Jun 1, 2022

The paper cited below and another asbestos commentary [Invited Perspective: Eliminating Toxics to Prevent Disease: Asbestos Leads the Way] were featured in the current online version of Environmental Health Perspectives, a peer-reviewed open access monthly journal with support from the U.S. National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. Both documents support the global consensus that the best way to prevent asbestos-related diseases is to stop using asbestos. See: The Ecological Association between Asbestos Consumption and Asbestos-Related Diseases 15 Years Later.
 

Compensation for Ovarian Cancer

May 27, 2022

On May 24, 2022, the House Social Affairs Committee of the Belgian Parliament approved a bill which will secure compensation for victims who contract ovarian cancer due to asbestos exposure. This will be achieved by adding ovarian cancer to the list of diseases for which compensation is paid by the Belgian Asbestos Victims’ Compensation Fund. When the Fund was set up in 2019 compensation was awarded to sufferers with mesothelioma, lung cancer, laryngeal cancer, asbestosis and other pleural diseases but not ovarian cancer. See: Amiante: les malades du cancer de l'ovaire pourront être indemnisées [Asbestos: ovarian cancer patients can be compensated].
 

Ensuring that the Polluter Pays!

May 27, 2022

On May 23, 2022, MP Ian Lavery, Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Asbestos Sub-Group, tabled an Early Day Motion – an EDM is a short proposal that gives MPs the opportunity to express an opinion, publicise a cause or support a position – calling on the House of Commons to support a campaign by the Asbestos Victims Support Groups Forum and the Trades Union Congress to hold former UK asbestos producer Cape PLC to account for damage caused to workers by occupational asbestos exposures. A national campaign is calling on Cape Holdings PLC to pay £10 million “towards the funding of mesothelioma research.” See: Cape Holdings and asbestos research EDM 93: tabled on 23 May 2022.
 

Asbestos in Schools

May 27, 2022

At a Seoul press conference on May 25, 2022, researchers from the Citizen's Center for Environment and Health and the National School Asbestos Parents Network, informed journalists that “4-5 out of 10 elementary, middle and high schools nationwide are still ‘asbestos schools’.” Campaigners called on the government to prioritize the removal of asbestos from schools as a matter of urgency. The news was widely reported by the media. At one-time, the use of asbestos material in schools had been mandatory; asbestos was banned in Korea in 2009. See: 환경단체 "전국 초중고교 절반은 여전히 '석면 학교'" [Environmental group “About half of elementary, middle and high schools nationwide are still ‘asbestos schools’”].
 

Asbestos Profits

May 27, 2022

On May 24, 2022, Russia’s second biggest asbestos producer: Uralasbest reported that it had tripled its net profits in the first quarter of 2022 compared to the same period in 2021. For January-March this year, the company reported net profits of 591 million rubles compared to 180.2 million rubles in 2021. Given the current logistical difficulties resulting from sanctions imposed in retaliation for Russia’s attack on Ukraine, these profits are somewhat surprising as Uralasbest exports the majority of asbestos fiber produced by its mining operations. It will be interesting to see what results are reported for the second quarter of 2022. See: «Ураласбест» в первом квартале утроил чистую прибыль [Uralasbest tripled its net profit in the first quarter].
 

Asbestos Removal Scam, Police Action

May 27, 2022

A police raid took place in Broni, Italy this week over allegations that a contractor which had been paid €8 million (US$8.6m) by the Ministry of the Environment and the Lombardy Region to reclaim the contaminated site of an old asbestos-cement factory had been guilty of fraud and crimes against the environment for having failed to fulfil the reclamation contract. According to the Pavia public prosecutor Fabio Napoleone: “an articulated system of fraud in public supplies and provision of services had been committed for the benefit of the companies involved.” See: Ex Fibronit Broni, truffa nella bonifica dall’amianto: sequestrata un’area di 140 mila metri quadrati [Former Fibronit Broni, asbestos reclamation scam: an area of 140 thousand square meters seized].
 

Public Protest in Madrid

May 27, 2022

A colorful and well-attended demonstration was mounted by asbestos victims’ groups and trade unionists in the Spanish capital on May 25, 2022 to protest threats to the funding of a national asbestos compensation scheme. Proposed legislation could place the Asbestos Fund under the auspices of the Institute for the Elderly and Social Services (Imserso). This arrangement could, said the protestors, compromise the financing of the Fund and prevent access to social security benefits. See: Las víctimas del amianto protestan para que el nuevo fondo de compensación tenga los recursos necesarios [Asbestos victims protest so that the new compensation fund can have the necessary resources].
 

Court Condemns Asbestos Sales

May 25, 2022

On May 20, 2022, it was reported that the Pernambuco Court of Justice, in the Northeast region of Brazil, rejected the appeal of a verdict ordering the removal of asbestos-cement tiles and sentencing defendants to pay damages for selling a product which had been banned by a Supreme Court order (2017). The Pernambuco Court said that as Federal Law No. 9,055/95 allowing the sale of this banned product was unconstitutional, the commercial transaction was illegal. In addition, the Court pointed out, Pernambuco State Law No. 12,589/04 completely prohibited the use of all products made from asbestos. See: TJPE Mantém Nulidade em Venda de Produto Cancerígeno [TJPE maintains nullity in the sale of carcinogenic products].
 

Tokyo Rally Calls for Asbestos Justice

May 25, 2022

To mark the first anniversary of the historic Supreme Court ruling for construction workers injured by asbestos exposures, on May 20, 2022 a public rally was held in Tokyo by construction workers and groups representing them. Speakers at the event called on the Japanese Government to apologize for failing to protect workers from hazardous occupational exposures and ensure that manufacturers recompense individuals injured by using their asbestos products. At the meeting, at Hibiya Open Air Concert Hall, attended by 1500+ people, it was announced that on June 7, a new asbestos class action would be launched in seven district courts against building materials manufacturers. See: メーカーの謝罪・補償基金求め [Manufacturer's apology / compensation fund request].
 

Demolition of “Outdated” Asbestos Houses

May 25, 2022

Officials in Xiqiao Town, a municipality in the Nanhai District, Foshan, Guangdong, China announced last week that, pursuant to new ordinances, they were progressing efforts to improve the management of urban and rural areas by demolishing properties including houses roofed with asbestos material. The cleared sites will be redeveloped by public-private partnerships and will include the construction of a modern industrial park and other facilities to encourage economic growth in the district. See: 南海逐步消除石棉瓦房铁皮锈屋 扎实完成“两违”治理工作任务 [South China Sea gradually [region] eliminates asbestos, tile houses, iron rust houses, and solidly completes the task of “two violations” governance].
 

A Toxic National Legacy

May 25, 2022

The commentary below examined the deadly asbestos legacy of Italy, a country which had not only been one of Europe’s biggest asbestos users but also a significant producer of the deadly fiber. Since Italy banned asbestos in 1992, many regulations and guidelines have been introduced to protect workers and citizens from toxic exposures. Thirty years after asbestos was banned, asbestos material remains within the national infrastructure with asbestos roofing produced by Eternit of particular concern. See: Bonifica dall’amianto e rimozione Eternit, perché è necessario [Remediation of asbestos and Eternit removal, because it is necessary].
 

Bahia Asbestos Outreach Initiative

May 25, 2022

On May 14, 2022, a public asbestos seminar – organized by staff from the Federal Institute of Bahia (IFBA), the Brazilian Association of Asbestos Victims (ABREA) and the Association of Victims Contaminated by Asbestos and Exposed Families (AVICAFE) – was held at the IFBA to consider measures for monitoring the health and supporting people with asbestos-related diseases in the Bom Jesus da Serra region. Commercial mining operations at a local asbestos mine and the widespread use of asbestos waste in public and private spaces have resulted in a high incidence of asbestos-related diseases in the region. See: IFBA realiza seminário sobre os efeitos nocivos do amianto na região de Bom Jesus da Serra [IFBA holds a seminar on the harmful effects of asbestos in the Bom Jesus da Serra region].
 

Defence Stage of Schmidheiny Criminal Trial

May 25, 2022

On May 16, 2022, the Assizes Court in Novara, Italy heard evidence from defence witnesses who argued that Stephan Schmidheiny – who stands accused of having caused the deaths of 392 Italians from the town of Casale Monferrato (CM) – had introduced measures to protect workers in the Eternit CM factory from hazardous exposures to asbestos. According to one witness “all the data show a drastic decrease in the levels of exposure (to asbestos) in line with the improvements introduced at the Eternit plant in the period 1973-1982.” The next two hearings were scheduled for May 23 and May 30, 2022. See: I consulenti della difesa insistono: «Schmidheiny migliorò molto le condizioni di lavoro all’Eternit» [Defense consultants insist: “Schmidheiny greatly improved working conditions in Eternit”].
 

Time to Ban Asbestos!

May 23, 2022

On May 4, 2022, the UN Global Compact in Ukraine – a UN initiative that brings together business, investors, civil society, labor organizations, local and federal governments to pursue Sustainable Development Goals – called on the Parliament to ban the use of all types of asbestos and products containing them. Ukraine had prohibited asbestos in 2017, only for the ban to be reversed after pressure from vested interests. A bill going through Parliament, which was approved on its first reading, will ban asbestos in line with EU legislation. See: Верховну Раду закликають заборонити азбест та запустити циркулярну економіку задля відновлення України [We call on the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine to ban asbestos and launch a circular economy to restore Ukraine].
 

Asbestos Alert in China

May 23, 2022

Scientific findings published online on May 19, 2022 by researchers from China and Australia highlighted the dreadful consequences of toxic exposures in these countries, noting that asbestos caused the largest number of work-related lung cancer deaths in both. The co-authors of the paper cited below warned that: “the continued use of certain types of asbestos [in China] and the lack of health education on occupational carcinogen may further increase LCM [lung cancer mortality] burden attributable to occupational exposure. See: Age-period-cohort analysis of lung cancer mortality in China and Australia from 1990 to 2019.
 

Asbestos Ban Bill

May 23 2022

A May 18, 2022, press release by U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley, who represents the state of Oregon, announced the tabling of Congressional legislation to prohibit the manufacture, processing, use, and distribution in commerce of all types of commercial asbestos. In his statement, the Senator said: “We’ve known for generations that asbestos is lethal… Other developed nations have already acted to protect their citizens from this deadly substance by banning asbestos. Why has America not done the same?” See: Merkley, Bonamici Introduce Bicameral Legislation to Ban Asbestos and Save Lives.
 

Another Asbestos Death in Quebec

May 23, 2022

A feature article in the May 20, 2022 edition of the Montreal Journal – the French-language tabloid newspaper with the largest circulation of any newspaper in Quebec – related the story of asbestos widow Linda Grandmont, whose husband Réal Truchon had died aged 64 in 2020 due to asbestos exposure experienced whilst employed at the Canadian public broadcasting corporation: Radio-Canada. Mr. Truchon was a lighting technician, lighting designer and technical instructor for the broadcaster; he died of the asbestos cancer mesothelioma. See: Son mari tué par l’amiante de Radio-Canada [Lighting designer dies after being exposed to deadly fibers in former public broadcaster tower].
 

MP Calls for Plans to Remove Asbestos

May 23, 2022

A commentary uploaded on May 20, 2022 to a Labour Party website by MP Ian Lavery – Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Asbestos Sub-Group – called for the implementation of a program to remove asbestos material from the national infrastructure to protect the lives of working people. Referencing labour gains in recent local elections, Lavery called on councils to make asbestos removal a priority issue. “Labour councils,” he wrote “need investment and backing from the government to carry out this big job… in the fastest possible timeframe, because for thousands of working people it’s a matter of life or death.” See: Asbestos is a matter of life and death for working people. We need urgent removal.
 

Asbestos Compensation Scheme Update

May 23, 2022

On May 17, 2022, a bill to overhaul the compensation system for asbestos victims in Belgium was debated in the Parliamentary Social Affairs Committee. Draft legislation would introduce the concept of the “polluter pays” so that companies which had exposed workers to asbestos would be obliged to pay compensation directly. In addition, under the new system, asbestos victims could accept compensation from the national fund and also instigate a lawsuit against negligent employers, something which is now forbidden. See: L'indemnisation des victimes de l'amiante fait débat à la Chambre [Compensation for asbestos victims is debated in the House].
 

America’s Toxic Industrial Legacy

May 18, 2022

The investigative piece cited below explored in some depth the deadly consequences of employment in tire-industry jobs in the heartland of the USA. A cocktail of deadly exposures was part of the workplace experience of employees at the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. factory in Akron, Ohio. Amongst the most toxic materials used in the workplace were asbestos and benzene. According to veteran asbestos litigator Thomas W. Bevan, in the beginning Goodyear denied using asbestos, saying: “We’re a tire company; we don’t use asbestos!” despite the fact they had an asbestos department at the plant. See: It was the Rubber Capital of the World. The health consequences linger.
 

Parliament Debates Compensation Fund

May 18, 2022

On May 18, 2022, discussions began in the Work, Inclusion, Social Security and Migration Committee of the Spanish Parliament about amendments to draft legislation submitted by the Basque Parliament to establish a national asbestos compensation fund. Victims’ supporters are concerned that the socialist group and Minister José Luis Escrivá will seek to limit financing. According to campaigners, the Socialist Parliamentary Group intends to curtail the independence and financial resources allocated for the new fund. See: Las víctimas del amianto temen que el PSOE haga caer el fondo de compensación que les prometieron [Asbestos victims fear that the PSOE will drop the compensation fund they were promised].
 

Asbestos in Schools

May 18, 2022

Officials in the Department of Education in South Korea’s Gyeongbuk Province announced on May 17, 2022 that work to remove asbestos from schools in the district will be completed in 2025; the original deadline had been 2027, but due to the danger to students and staff posed by the presence of asbestos material in the schools, remediation work had been made a priority. In 2022, decontamination work is being carried out in 112 schools; to minimize toxic exposures to the children, the work will be undertaken during the summer and winter vacations. See: 경북교육청, 학교 석면 제거 2년 앞당겨 완료 예정 [Gyeongbuk Office of Education to complete school asbestos removal two years earlier].
 

Mesothelioma: Causes, Care, Compensation

May 18, 2022

An article about the causation, symptoms and treatment of pleural mesothelioma on a French news portal highlighted the high incidence of this signature asbestos cancer amongst men who’d been employed in the construction sector, 97% of whom could pinpoint workplace exposures to asbestos-containing building products. New protocols for patients with mesothelioma involve intravenous immunotherapy treatment which can prolong life by 18 months. To access compensation from a government scheme (FIVA), mesothelioma claimants must have been occupationally exposed to asbestos. The majority of mesothelioma patients do not apply to FIVA. See: Cancer: le mésothéliome mieux identifié [Cancer: better identified mesothelioma].
 

Asbestos Eradication Program: Too Slow!

May 18, 2022

The eradication of asbestos contamination in Italy’s built environment is not going to plan, with only 25% of the toxic material removed despite the availability of government funds specifically earmarked for this work. Eight million euros (US$8.4m) remain unspent in a fund set up under article 56 of law 221 of 2015 to cover the cost of asbestos removal from public buildings. According to the article cited below, there are more than 50,744 public buildings in Italy which still have asbestos roofs. See: Il problema dell’amianto in Italia è ancora lontano dall’essere risolto [The asbestos problem in Italy is still far from being solved].
 

Support for At-Risk Populations

May 18, 2022

Changes were announced this week in the management of an asbestos outreach project in South Korea’s Chungnam Province. The formerly privately-run project – called the asbestos victims’ health care initiative – has been put into the hands of a public institution: the Hongseong Medical Center. Services available to participants and their families include: home visits, health check-ups, psychological counselling and symptom management training. Asbestos, a known carcinogen, was widely used in Korea in building products, soundproofing material, textiles, automotive parts and shipbuilding. See: 충남 석면피해자, 홍성의료원서 집중 관리 [Intensive management of asbestos victims in Chungcheongnam-do, Hongseong Medical Center].
 

Asbestos Hazard: Ecological Update

May 16, 2022

A blog uploaded last week by Ukrainian Parliamentarian, ecologist and economist Elena Krivoruchkina highlighted the deadly legacy posed by the asbestos used to construct the country’s built environment in light of the widespread destruction caused by Russia’s attack on the country. The author noted that on the first reading in Parliament in February 2021. the bill to ban asbestos was approved; it has not yet been finalized. She categorized Russia’s destruction of Ukraine not only as a war crime but also an eco-crime in light of the hazard posed to human beings by the liberation of asbestos fibers from damaged structures. See: Азбестова бомба уповільненої дії: війна та радянський будівельний спадок [Slow-motion asbestos bomb: war and the Soviet construction legacy].
 

Glimmer of Hope for J&J Victims

May 16, 2022

On May 11, 2022, the Third U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals announced plans to reconsider contentious measures implemented by the American pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson (J&J) to put into bankruptcy a purpose-built subsidiary in order to freeze almost 40,000 cancer claims against the parent company. The litigation put on hold concerned the sale of talc-based baby powder containing asbestos fibers to American consumers. The appeal will revaluate a February 2022 ruling by Judge Michael Kaplan from a federal bankruptcy court in Trenton, New Jersey. See: Not so fast on Johnson & Johnson's Texas Two-Step strategy as appeals court says it'll take another look.
 

Legal Victory for Naval Officers

May 16, 2022

On May 13, 2022, the Council of State (France) rejected an appeal by the Ministry of Armed Forces to void a judgment awarding former Naval personnel compensation for occupational asbestos exposures. The State was ordered to pay each of the 17 claimants the sum of €3,000 (US$3,125) for “moral damages” under article L.761-1 of the code of administrative justice. The case had first been heard by the administrative court of Rennes in June 2019, with the administrative court of appeal of Rennes subsequently confirming the victims’ verdict in January 2021. See: Amiante: l’État devra indemniser d’anciens officiers mariniers [Asbestos: the State will have to compensate former petty officers].
 

Asbestos in the Built Environment

May 16, 2022

A report just released by the Labour Research Department, on behalf of the Trades Union Congress and the all-party parliamentary group on occupational safety and health, revealed that of 31 local authorities contacted only one had completely removed asbestos from all its buildings. Commenting on these findings, MP Ian Lavery, Chair of the parliamentary group said: “The government must provide local councils with enough funding, with an aim to make all public buildings asbestos-free.” See: Thousands of local authority buildings in England still contain deadly asbestos — more than two decades after its use was banned in Britain.
 

Compensation for Welder’s Family

May 16, 2022

On May 6, 2022. a labor judge in the town of Massa, central Italy ordered the employer of a deceased welder to pay compensation of €1,146,296 (US$1.2m) to his family. The worker, who died from the asbestos cancer mesothelioma, had been employed by the Nuovo Pignone company at its Massa plant from 1965 to 1986 during which time he was routinely exposed to asbestos “to an extent exceeding the regulatory limit.” The judge dismissed arguments advanced by the company’s lawyers claiming working conditions were within permissible exposure limits and that the deceased had been a smoker. See: Amianto: Morte di un Operaio Saldatore, Nuovo Pignone Condannato a Risarcire oltre un Milione alla Famiglia [Asbestos: Death of a Welder, Company Sentenced to Pay over a Million to the Family].
 

Claimants’ Verdict in Rouen

May 16, 2022

On May 10, 2022, the French department of Seine-Maritime was found guilty by a Rouen court of having exposed four employees to asbestos; damages of €3,000 (US$3125) were awarded to each of the claimants. From April 14 to 17, 2015, the claimants had “regularly picked up … dust containing asbestos without any protective equipment” whilst employed on a river vessel. When asked if the judgment would be appealed, a spokesperson for Seine-Maritime said it was “still too early … to give an answer on if it will appeal or not.” See: Amiante: le département de Seine-Maritime condamné [Asbestos: the department of Seine-Maritime condemned].
 

Moving Towards an Asbestos Ban in Asia!

May 13, 2022

The Good Practice Guidance for the Management and Control of Asbestos: Protecting Workplaces and Communities from Asbestos Exposure Risks released by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) is widely regarded as confirmation of the Bank’s commitment to honoring its promise to outlaw the use of asbestos in all projects funded by the ABD. During the launch of the document last month (April 2022), the ADB Director of Safeguards Bruce Dunn indicated that the ban would be announced in March 2023. Until then, the ADB has warned staff to avoid the use of asbestos-containing materials in existing and new procurement. See: Asia Development Bank one step closer to asbestos ban.
 

Progress in Avaré!

May 13, 2022

In what is being termed a “historic victory for public health,” the Municipal Department of the Environment in the Brazilian city of Avaré oversaw efforts to remove 400 tonnes of asbestos waste which had been lingering for years on a public highway. The toxic material had been dumped by the company Auco Automotive Components. The site was remediated and the waste was sent to an authorized Waste Management Center in Guatapará. See: Amianto abandonado há anos é retirado por ação da Prefeitura de Avaré [Asbestos abandoned for years is removed by action of the City Hall of Avaré].
 

Asbestos at the Museum

May 13, 2022

A very popular tourist destination in Brussels, the Institute of Natural Sciences, is grappling with the discovery earlier this year of asbestos contamination, according to an announcement by museum officials who revealed that asbestos fibers had been found in the Institute’s ventilation ducts. On March 23, 2022, officials said that the contamination affected “the offices, laboratories and collections part of our Institute.” A working group is preparing a feasibility study exploring options such as remediation, renovation and demolition. See: L'amiante aura-t-il la peau d'une partie de l'Institut des sciences naturelles à Bruxelles? [Will asbestos take over part of the Institute of Natural Sciences in Brussels?].
 

Official: 25% Rise in Asbestos Mortality

May 13, 2022

Data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has been released which confirmed that over the last 20 years there has been a 25% increase in the number of women dying in the U.S. from the signature asbestos cancer, mesothelioma. Between,1999 to 2020, 12,227 females aged 25 and up died from mesothelioma; the majority were older than 55. The states with the highest female mesothelioma death rates were: Louisiana, Maine, Minnesota, Montana, Oregon, Washington, and Wisconsin, according to a report in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report
See: CDC: Mesothelioma Deaths Up Among Women.
 

Holding Asbestos Defendants to Account

May 11, 2022

At a May 9 Tokyo press conference, it was announced that a group of asbestos-injured construction workers are launching a class action lawsuit in June 2022 against manufacturers of asbestos-containing building products. In May 2021, the Supreme Court had ordered that the Japanese Government pay compensation for having failed to act, as a result of which construction workers were hazardously exposed to asbestos; the Government has set up a scheme to pay compensation. Although, courts have ruled that manufacturers were also negligent, these defendants have yet to pay compensation to the injured. See: 建設アスベスト被害 建材メーカーに賠償求め各地で一斉提訴へ [Construction workers seek compensation from building material manufacturers].
 

Colorectal Death Caused by Asbestos

May 11, 2022

Last week, a Brazilian Labor Court issued a victim’s verdict awarding the family of a deceased worker the sum of R$500,000 (US$97,200) for his cancer death. Judge Celso Araujo Casseb, from the 5th Labor Court of Osasco/São Paulo, ruled that there was no question about the link between the worker’s occupational exposure to asbestos and the fact that he had died from colorectal cancer. The appeal lodged by Eternit, the defendant, was rejected, with the Judge noting that the death had caused “moral damages to his family members…” See: Eternit pagará R$500 mil a filhos de trabalhador morto por amianto [Eternit will pay R$500,000 to children of worker killed by asbestos].
 

Mesothelioma: New Drug Treatment

May 11, 2022

A treatment for mesothelioma (the signature cancer associated with asbestos exposure) which is being progressed in the UK can prolong the life of sufferers by slowing down the growth of tumors, according to data from a new trial centered around the use of a new drug called: abemaciclib. This protocol was used with some success to treat patients who had not been responding to chemotherapy or immunotherapy drugs. The patients on the clinical trial experienced few “serious side effects and were also less dependent on pain medication as a result of the treatment.” See: New treatment offers hope for asbestos cancer patients [with the same disease] that took the life of Sex Pistols manager Malcolm McLaren.
 

Supreme Court Asbestos Verdict

May 11, 2022

The Spanish Supreme Court ruled this week that a worker’s death from mesothelioma had been caused by occupational exposure to asbestos between 1984 and 2010 at a factory owned by the Bridgestone Hispania company. Compensation of €145,000 (US$153,000) was awarded by the Court, which found that the company had been negligent in failing to prevent its workforce from experiencing toxic asbestos exposures at its factory. See: Bridgestone condenada a indemnizar a la familia de un trabajador fallecido por amianto [Bridgestone sentenced to compensate the family of a worker killed by asbestos].
 

Asbestos Ban Remains on the Agenda!

May 9, 2022

A Russian language article uploaded to a Ukrainian website on May 6, 2022, highlighted the ongoing struggle by the Ukraine Parliament to ban asbestos in order to comply with EU regulations. The author of the text cited below reported some disturbing facts: Ukraine continues to import asbestos from Russia and Kazakhstan; the Russian-Kazakh asbestos lobby continues to spread pro-asbestos propaganda in Ukraine; the asbestos lobby plans to rebuild cities destroyed by the Russian army with products containing Russian asbestos. See: Верховную Раду призвали запретить асбест и принять закон "Об отходах" [The Verkhovna Rada urged to ban asbestos and adopt the law "On Waste"].
 

Expansion of Asbestos Production

May 9, 2022

On May 5, 2022, a new assembly line for asbestos-cement building products became operational at a factory owned by Visaka Industries – one of India’s largest asbestos-cement conglomerates – in Raebareli, Uttar Pradesh, India. The company is one of the major players in the country’s asbestos-cement industrial sector. India is the world’s largest importer of asbestos fiber, most of which is used for the manufacture of building products such as roofing sheets and tiles and sewage and water pipes. See: Visaka Industries Ltd commissions new line at Asbestos Cement division.
 

Government U-Turn on Deadline

May 9, 2022

Public outrage over the expiration on March 27, 2022 of a deadline for asbestos victims to submit claims for benefits under a special government scheme has been acknowledged by the Liberal Democratic Party and the Komeito Party which have proposed an amendment to the Asbestos Health Damage Relief Act to extend the deadline for claiming benefits by 10 years. Their amendment will be presented to the Japanese Diet during the current session. See: “石綿 特別遺族給付金 期限延長を” 自・公が野党に呼びかけ [“Extending the deadline for asbestos special survivor benefits” The public calls on the opposition].
 

Asbestos Removal Regulations

May 9, 2022

Guidelines on mandatory protocols to address the asbestos legacy in Spain are continually evolving. The article cited below provided a timely update on regulations pertaining to companies which specialize in the removal of asbestos from the built environment. Topics covered included: registration and certification procedures and the submission of detailed work plans specifying asbestos remediation methods, security measures and the qualifications of operatives employed on projects. See: La plataforma del amianto se consolida en Madrid [Asbestos [procedural] platform consolidated in Madrid].
 

Asbestos at the Sorbonne

May 9, 2022

The Censier campus of Sorbonne University in the 5th arrondissement of Paris was closed to students and staff on April 14, 2022 due to hazardous conditions posed by the deterioration of asbestos-containing material used in 1964 to construct the 25,000 m2 center for the teaching of literature, languages, performing arts, communication and European studies. In 1997, the university was listed as one of the ten most dangerous establishments in France because of the presence of asbestos throughout its infrastructure See: Amiante: après des années de polémique, quel avenir pour le site Censier de la Sorbonne à Paris [Asbestos: after years of controversy, what future for the Sorbonne Censier site in Paris].
 

Asbestos Removal Industry Guidelines

May 9, 2022

A document published last week by Italy’s National Institute for Insurance against Accidents at Work (INAIL), a public entity tasked with protecting workers’ health, considered subjects of importance during complex and protracted projects to remediate asbestos-contaminated sites. Topics covered included the roles and responsibilities during asbestos remediation of clients, duty holders, asbestos coordinators, contractors, subcontractors and on-site technical directors. See: Amianto: le figure professionali connesse alle attività di bonifica [Asbestos: the professional figures connected to reclamation activities].
 

Draft Measures to Monitor Asbestos Imports

May 6, 2022

A proposal published on May 5, 2022 by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) set out in 80 pages draft guidance for asbestos-importing companies to inform the EPA about the amounts and uses of all asbestos and asbestos material brought into the USA as per Section 8 of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). The proposed measures are intended to address a loophole  recognized by  US District Judge Edward Chen who ruled in 2021 that the Agency had not fulfilled its “obligation to collect reasonably available information to inform and facilitate its regulatory obligations under TSCA.” See: Reporting and Recordkeeping Requirements under the Toxic Substances Control Act: Asbestos.
 

Asbestos Legacy: Death & Contamination

May 6, 2022

A feature article on a Spanish news website reported the recent asbestos death of another worker from the Madrid Metro: 65-year old Luis Gómez. Despite the best efforts of some local authorities and regional governments, exposure to asbestos remains an everyday hazard for people all over the country using contaminated infrastructure. A recent survey revealed that there is a low level of asbestos awareness in Spain and, for that reason, measures to minimize toxic exposures are often neglected. See: ¿Qué es el amianto, por qué es tan peligroso y en qué lugares y construcciones se puede encontrar? [What is asbestos, why is it so dangerous and in what places and buildings can it be found?].
 

Jail Sentences for Asbestos Crimes

May 6, 2022

Two employees of Ensure Asbestos Management Limited were jailed for 10 and 15 months respectively after a prosecution was brought by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). Chelmsford Crown Court agreed with the HSE that the defendants had not protected workers from asbestos exposures during a major refurbishment project in Plymouth in February 2017. Commenting on the verdict, HSE inspector Georgina Symons said: “Workers should be supported by their employers when they raise health or safety concern. This case sends a clear message that those responsible will be held to account for their failings.” See: Asbestos removal managers jailed after cutting corners on job.
 

Update: Mesothelioma Research

May 6, 2022

In a paper just published by a team of researchers from the University of Hawaii’s Cancer Center, recommendations were made for the treatment of people with the signature asbestos cancer, mesothelioma. According to the lead author Dr. Michael Carbone: “The paper will help physicians in the U.S. and abroad to understand the unique aspects of mesothelioma in carriers of genetic BAP1 mutations. This will help them take better care of their patients and family members who may have inherited the defective BAP1 gene.” See: Life-saving new approaches for mesothelioma cancer recommended.
 

London’s Asbestos Shame

May 6, 2022

Speaking at a ceremony on April 28, 2022 to commemorate London’s asbestos victims, former insulation engineer Peter Auger said he had worked with asbestos for almost 60 years, as a result of which he now suffered from breathing problems and had contracted asbestosis A legal claim he made against 12 former employers was settled last year. Addressing the rally last week, 79-year old Mr. Auger said: “I feel angry. Firms haven't looked after me and treated me with disrespect... I only wanted to earn a living, I've earnt them money and the thanks they give you is one of them has given me asbestosis.” See: 'I feel angry': Retired engineer looks back on asbestos working conditions.
 

Expansion of Asbestos Waste Capacity

May 4, 2022

News that the capacity for dealing safely with asbestos waste in several Brazilian cities has been increased has been circulating this week. According to reports, this initiative is being progressed as part of the commercial operations of a company based in the city of Santo André, São Paulo. Santo André Municipal Environmental Sanitation Service (Semasa) is hoping to prevent asbestos fly-tipping in order to protect public health as well as the environment from the illegal dumping of toxic waste. See: Semasa amplia locais para receber resíduos de poda e amianto [Semasa expands sites to receive pruning and asbestos waste].
 

Provincial Asbestos Action Program

May 4, 2022

People in South Africa’s Northern Cape Province living under asbestos roofing, still ubiquitous throughout the country, have expressed growing concerns over the hazard posed to their families from such proximity to a known carcinogen. According to Bafadile Lenkoe, Northern Cape Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs and Human Settlement Head of Department, there is a plan to remediate the asbestos roofing on the almost 20,000 homes in the Province which remain contaminated. In a statement to the press, Lenkoes said that the Government plans to “eradicate asbestos roofs in the Northern Cape.” See: Kimberley residents at risk due to asbestos exposure.
 

Eternit Condemned!

May 4, 2022

A loophole in the Belgian process of delivering justice for asbestos victims was highlighted last week with the announcement on April 28, 2022 that a landmark case had been filed against Eternit, formerly the owner of asbestos-cement factories in Belgium and abroad. The case was initiated by the President of the Belgian Asbestos Victims Group (ABEVA), who has contracted the same asbestos cancer as his parents and two brothers. Mr. Jonckheere explained that the current system whitewashed the crimes of negligent companies by forcing applicants to the National Asbestos Fund to renounce their right to take legal action. See: Procès Eternit : vers une indemnisation plus juste des victimes de l’amiante? [Eternit trial: towards fairer compensation for asbestos victims?].
 

Chlorine Producers Attack Asbestos Ban

May 4, 2022

A thoughtful commentary on actions being taken by US vested interests to contest plans by the Biden Administration to ban the use of asbestos in the US highlighted arguments advanced by trade associations and chlorine producers which say that the prohibitions would not only threaten thousands of jobs but also cause a shortage of drinking water. In evidence submitted to the EPA on behalf of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Martin J. Durbin urged the “EPA to reconsider the specific condition of use of the chemical substance [chrysotile asbestos] and the drastic impact it would have on drinking and wastewater systems.” See: Chemical industry fights U.S. government move to ban asbestos.
 

Asbestos on the Madrid Metro

May 4, 2022

On May 4, 2022, workers from the Madrid Metro will hold a partial strike to highlight the continued presence of asbestos in the capital’s transport system. According to union officials, eleven workers have already died from asbestos-related diseases. To ensure that the workers affected receive the support they require, the union is demanding that a process for recognizing these diseases in a timely fashion be put in place, and that the removal of asbestos throughout the Madrid Metro be expedited; the company’s 2028 deadline for the completion of the decontamination program is, say the unions, unacceptable. See: Amianto, el principal cancerígeno laboral que mata a 90.000 personas al año en la UE [Asbestos, the main occupational carcinogen that kills 90,000 people a year in the EU].
 

Asbestos Legacy: Death and Contamination

May 4, 2022

The multiplicity of tragedies caused by decades of asbestos production and consumption in Italy continue apace with 4,000 asbestos deaths every year, and large swathes of land and the built environment contaminated by a known carcinogen. At the current rate of remediation, it will take 70 years before the asbestos hazard is eradicated from the country; the lack of capacity for asbestos waste must, say campaigners, be addressed. A new medical outreach program in Sardinia has begun to identify at-risk workers in order to facilitate an earlier diagnosis of asbestos cancer. See: Amianto: Cnaa, subito smaltimenti e bonifiche [Asbestos: CNAA (National Coordination [Federation] of Asbestos Associations), immediate disposal and reclamation].
 

Toxic Talc, Toxic Shareholders

May 3, 2022

Shareholders attending the virtual Annual General Meeting of the US pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson (J&J) on April 28, 2022 considered a raft of resolutions including one which called on J&J to withdraw the sale of asbestos-containing talc-based baby powder not only from North America but also from markets around the world. Despite the urging of campaigners representing groups endangered by these double standards and ethical investors such as Glass Lewis which called on J&J to stop “all sales of talc-based baby powder … outside North America,” resolution 10 was defeated with one observer remarking: “This is no longer a political or legal or consumer problem…This is a shareholder problem.” See [subscription site]: Johnson & Johnson investors reject proposal to end global talc sales.
 

Asbestos Uncertainty in the Urals

May 3, 2022

At the Annual General Meeting of Russia’s second biggest asbestos producer – PJSC Urals Asbestos Mining and Processing Plant (Uralasbest, Sverdlovsk Region) – which took place last week, shareholders approved the company’s decision to retain this year’s dividends in light of the unsettled economic situation resulting from the Russian invasion of Ukraine. In 2021, the company's net profit was 2.1 billion rubles, 1.5 times what it had been in 2020. See: Акционеры "Ураласбеста" решили не распределять прибыль и не выплачивать дивиденды по итогам 2021г [Shareholders of Uralasbest decided not to distribute profits and not pay dividends for 2021].
 

Asbestos Family Tragedy

May 3, 2022

An article on the website of the Belgian Radio-Television service for the country’s French community broke the news last week that a 5th member of the same family had announced he had contracted the asbestos cancer mesothelioma which had killed both his parents and two of his brothers. Following his Mother’s ground-breaking legal action against Eternit, which had operated the asbestos factory at Kapelle-op-den-Bos responsible for their toxic exposures, Eric Jonckheere instituted a new legal challenge accusing Eternit of wilful misconduct [“intentional faute”]. See: Atteint d’un mésothéliome, l’aîné d’une famille décimée par l’amiante ouvre un nouveau combat judiciaire [Affected by mesothelioma, the eldest of a family decimated by asbestos opens a new legal battle].
 

Asbestos Demo in Bologna

May 3, 2022

On the afternoon of April 28, International Workers Memorial Day, bereaved family members, asbestos victims and trade unionists mounted a demonstration in Bologna to highlight the deadly cost paid by workers from the large Railway Repair Workshops (OGR) for their employment; to date, 300 OGR workers have died from asbestos-related diseases. Speakers addressing the public rally decried the fact that 30 years after Italy had banned asbestos, people continue to die from toxic workplace exposures, with many deaths going unacknowledged and uncompensated. See: Amianto killer, sindacati e lavoratori Ogr tornano in piazza: “Giustizia per le vittime” [Killer asbestos, trade unions and Ogr workers return to the streets: “Justice for the victims”].
 

Asbestos in Schools

May 3, 2022

The Lisbon and Tagus Valley Regional Coordination and Development Commission announced last week that pursuant to the Lisbon 2020 Regional Operational Program, work to remove asbestos from 142 schools in the Lisbon Metropolitan Area will be completed by the end of this Summer (2022). The total cost of this work has been covered by a grant of €21.5m (USA $22.7m) from the European Regional Development Fund. See: Remoção de amianto em 142 escolas da região de Lisboa concluída no verão [Asbestos removal in 142 schools in the Lisbon region completed in the summer].
 

Quebec Lowers Asbestos Exposure Levels

May 3, 2022

Workplace restrictions for allowable exposures to asbestos have been tightened in Quebec by the Committee on Standards, Equity, Health and Safety at Work (CNESST) to safeguard occupational health. Following the Quebec Government’s approval of the new amendment to the CNESST Regulation on occupational health and safety for construction work, the exposure standard which was set at 0.1% in a material or product containing asbestos has been changed to 0.1 f/cm3. See: Protection accrue des milieux de travail: modifications des valeurs d'exposition admissibles de l'amiante dans l'air [Increased protection of workplaces: changes to permissible exposure values for asbestos in the air].
 

Asbestos Industry Offensive

Apr 29, 2022

In a Russian language article uploaded on April 26, 2022, activities held by Kazakhstan’s only asbestos-producing company, Kostanay Minerals, to mark International Chrysotile (Asbestos) day on April 16, 2022 were reported. On that day a public rally was held to mobilize the support of local people for the asbestos industry, with company officials denouncing ban asbestos campaigners as “environmental extremists.” A representative of the Chrysotile trade union, which is supported by the company, parroted industry propaganda that “chrysotile is safe used under controlled conditions.” See: В Казахстане стартовала эстафета эко-субботников в защиту хризотила [Relay race of eco-subbotniks in defense of chrysotile has started in Kazakhstan].
 

Strike over Asbestos in Madrid Metro

Apr 29, 2022

Workers from the Madrid Metro staged a partial strike on April 27, 2022 to raise awareness of the occupational hazard they face from asbestos contamination of the transport system. Their key demands included the creation of a compensation fund for employees exposed to asbestos and early retirement for at-risk workers. A rally was held in front of the Congress of Deputies from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. to vocalise their demands for a speedy resolution of these issues, noting that: “Every day that passes, there are more people affected…” See: Paros parciales en Metro de Madrid hoy para protestar por el amianto [Partial stoppages in Madrid Metro today to protest about asbestos].
 

Safeguarding Italians from Toxic Exposures

Apr 29, 2022

Marking the 30th anniversary of Italy’s ban on asbestos, journalist Rosy Battaglia asked how much had been achieved in the country’s quest to address its toxic asbestos legacy. Whilst some remediation of the infrastructure has been carried out, the majority of the toxic products remain in place and thousands of people continue to die from toxic workplace and environmental exposures every year. The lethal effects of the toxic legacy continues to be underestimated by national, regional and local authorities. See: Perché sull'amianto in Italia siamo tornati all'anno zero [We are back to the year zero on asbestos in Italy].
 

Another Tragic Death!

Apr 29, 2022

A Canadian commentary about the death of a beloved uncle asks why countries had to kill to run their economies. When he was a youngster, the Uncle had worked with asbestos, a substance much used at the time. Fifty years later, in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic, he died from the signature asbestos cancer, mesothelioma. In contrast to the restrictions and bans introduced in other countries, Canada did not ban asbestos until 2016. Much too late for the writer’s Uncle and so many others.  “What,” asked the author “is the price of human life when it comes to running the economy?” See: Quand il faut tuer pour faire tourner l’économie [When you have to kill to run the economy].
 

Medical Surveillance of At-Risk Populations

Apr 29, 2022

Medical screening sessions carried out by staff at Soonchunhyang University Cheonan Hospital, under the auspices of the Korean Ministry of Environment in accordance with the Asbestos Damages Relief Act, will take place between April 25 and November 2022, to assess the health impact on residents in asbestos hotspots in North Jeolla Province, South and North Chungcheong Provinces, North Gyeongsang Province, Ulsan City  etc. The health impact survey is free of charge for patients. See: 순천향대 천안병원 석면피해 우려지역 주민 건강영향조사 [Soonchunhyang University Cheonan Hospital Health Impact Survey for Residents in Areas of Concern for Asbestos Damage].
 

Increase Asbestos Landfill Capacity

Apr 29, 2022

Eighty medical, scientific and technical experts have signed a petition calling on the Italian Government to increase the capacity for asbestos landfill in order to prevent wide-scale fly-tipping of asbestos waste which has become an endemic problem throughout the country. The lack of regulated asbestos dumpsites had, agreed the petitioners, hampered efforts to remediate an infrastructure which still contained a multitude of asbestos-containing products. See: 80 firme di medici del lavoro, igienisti, epidemiologi, tecnici della prevenzione, ingegneri, scienziati: Appello per aprire discariche di cemento amianto [80 signatures of occupational doctors, hygienists, epidemiologists, prevention technicians, engineers, scientists: appeal to open landfills for asbestos cement].
 

Asbestos in Schools

Apr 25, 2022

An exposé on rbb24, a German TV channel, broadcast on April 22, 2022 highlighted a scandal which is endangering the lives of schoolchildren, teachers and support staff in Berlin schools. Despite government regulations which stipulate that inspections every five years be made to safely manage asbestos in schools, not all districts are in compliance. In the Spandau district, for example, the condition of asbestos products in 16 schools has not been checked for at least 12 years; 7,700 students and 750 teachers use these buildings. One in three state schools in Berlin contains deteriorating, highly friable asbestos material. See: Mehr als 200 Berliner Schulen mit Asbest belastet [More than 200 Berlin schools contaminated with asbestos].
 

Improving Health Surveillance for Workers

Apr 25, 2022

On May 4-6, 2022, the Third International Asbestos Seminar will be held in  São Paulo, Brazil. This event, which is co-organized by groups representing asbestos victims (ABREA), labor prosecutors (MPT), academics (DIESAT) and others will consider the best measures to provide health surveillance for Brazil’s asbestos-exposed workers. Presentations from Brazilian as well as international medical, environmental, technical, academic and trade union experts will inform the discussion. There will be simultaneous translation into Portuguese and English; virtual observers can apply to attend the online sessions. See: 3rd International Asbestos Seminar, May 4-6, 2022, Sao Paulo, Brazil.
 

National Asbestos Remediation Program

Apr 25, 2022

A campaign restarted in Rwanda on April 12, 2022 to progress Government plans to remove asbestos roofing on buildings throughout the country. Decontamination work, which has been ongoing since 2009 to remediate asbestos roofing, has eradicated about 70% of the toxic material. It’s believed that a further 500,000 square meters of asbestos roofing remains on public buildings such as schools and hospitals. Between April 12 and May 12, 2022, officials from the Rwanda Housing Authority will visit every district of the country to meet local leaders and community representatives to encourage them to replace asbestos roofs. See: Rwanda Resumes Battle Against Asbestos.
 

Calls for More Help for Asbestos Victims

Apr 25, 2022

On April 20, 2022, the Ministry of Environment released data showing that asbestos-related diseases contracted by 166 people (119 with asbestos damage, 69 with asbestos-related lung disease and 34 people with mesothelioma) in Incheon, South Korea had been officially recognized between 2011 and 2021. Campaigners are calling for more financial provision and increased medical capacity for supporting asbestos victims. Rep. Hong Moon-Pyo has submitted two amendments to the Asbestos Damage Relief Act which would boost health management and preventative measures for local residents. See: 인천서 석면 노출 피해 인원 연 15명..피해 예방 시급 [15 asbestos exposure victims per year in Incheon. Immediate damage prevention [needed]].
 

Extension of Asbestos Relief Scheme

Apr 22, 2022

On April 21, 2022, at a joint meeting of Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare and the Liberal Democratic Party, it was announced that a 10-year extension had been agreed to a government “special survivors benefits” relief scheme for bereaved relatives of workers who had died from the asbestos cancer mesothelioma. Under the previous scheme, March 27, 2022 had been the deadline for the submission of claims. As a result of nationwide protests by asbestos victims’ groups and supporting organizations, the Government agreed to extend the scheme. See: アスベスト被害の救済延長へ 自公部会が改正法案了承 [LDP-NKP approves amendment bill to extend relief for asbestos damages].
 

New Rail Link: Faster Asbestos Shipments

Apr 22, 2022

On April 21, 2022, the inaugural trip of a new railway service linking China to Laos and Southeast Asia was featured in news released by the Chinese Government. According to information provided, cargo dispatched from Dunhuang, Gansu Province in 20 containers included 530 tonnes of Chinese asbestos. The exported goods were destined for Vientiane, Laos from where they will be transported by road to Bangkok, Thailand. The new railway link will shorten the delivery time to Bangkok by 12 days. See: 甘肃开通首列中老铁路国际货运列车 [Gansu opens first China-Laos railway international freight train].
 

Asbestos Anxiety Challenge by Ministry

Apr 22, 2022

On April 21, 2022, the French Ministry of Armed Forces challenged 17 out of 170 judgments handed down on January 8, 2021, by the Nantes Administrative Court of Appeal awarding former naval personnel from €8,000 (US$8,640) to €27,000 (US$29,150) compensation for mental distress (asbestos anxiety) caused as a result of toxic workplace exposures. The Ministry alleged that some of the claimants had not demonstrated that they had experienced sufficient psychological distress to qualify for this compensation. The Council of State is expected to announce its decision in May. See: Amiante dans la Marine nationale. Le Conseil d’État pourrait confirmer le préjudice d’anxiété [Asbestos in the French Navy. The Council of State has to confirm prejudice of anxiety [judgments]].
 

Johnson & Johnson

Apr 22, 2022

Shareholders of Johnson & Johnson (J&J) who meet on April 28, 2022 for the company’s Annual Meeting will be asked to consider a resolution entitled: Discontinue Global Sales of Baby Powder Containing Talc which calls on the company “to halt the sale of its talc-based Baby Powder globally to protect women and marginalized communities across the globe.” This resolution was proposed by Tulipshare Ltd., an activist-investor platform based in London, in support of worldwide condemnation of J&J’s hypocritical marketing strategy whereby toxic talc-based baby powder has been withdrawn from North America but remains on sale elsewhere. See: Johnson & Johnson Notice of Annual Meeting & Proxy Statement.
 

Legal Victory in Florence

Apr 22, 2022

On April 21, 2022, the Court of Appeal of Florence, Italy upheld the verdict of the Court of Grosseto which had condemned the Ministry of Economy and Finance for failing to prevent a former Marshall of the Finance Police from contracting asbestosis due to toxic workplace exposures. The 75-year old claimant will receive €50,000 (US$54,200) for his asbestos-related disability, arrears of €100,000+ ($108,400) and a monthly lifetime pension of €1,500 (US$1,626). Initially the Ministry had recognized the claim but then rejected it, as a result of which the case was brought to the Court of Grosseto. See: Amianto, maresciallo della finanza “vittima del dovere”: risarcimento e vitalizi [Asbestos, finance marshal “victim of duty”: compensation and annuities].
 

Supreme Court Affirms Workers’ Rights

Apr 21, 2022

The Brazilian Supreme Court this week accepted the opinion of the Attorney General’s Office which upheld the legitimacy of an administrative act (Ordinance 1851/2006) issued by the Ministry of Health (MoH) that stipulated that companies which had worked with asbestos provide a list of former employees to the authorities, so that health surveillance of those at-risk groups could be undertaken. The MoH ruling had been suspended by an injunction issued by the Superior Court of Justice after a company had filed a writ of mandamus. This injunction has now been annulled. See: AGU derruba no STJ liminar que prejudicaria controle de exposição ao amianto [AGU overturns an STJ injunction that would harm asbestos exposure control].
 

Asbestos Eradication Deadline

Apr 21, 2022

Today (April 21, 2022), a report was issued by the Parliamentary Work and Pensions Committee which called on the Government to commit to a deadline for removing all asbestos from 300,000 non-domestic UK buildings. Recognizing the deadly toll paid by workers for asbestos exposures, MPs concluded that: “We need a pan-government and “system-wide” strategy for the long-term removal of asbestos, founded on strong evidence of what is best from a scientific, epidemiological, and behavioural point of view.” Committee Chair MP Stephen Timms said: “the Government and HSE must now come up with a strategic plan which builds the evidence on safer removal and prioritises higher risk settings such as schools…” See: Set 40 year deadline for non-domestic building asbestos removal, MPs say.
 

Second Claim Succeeds for Asbestos Injury

Apr 21, 2022

On April 20, 2022, the widow of a factory worker who had contracted asbestos-related lung cancer and obtained 8.4 million yen (US$65,800) compensation from the Japanese Government, succeeded in another claim against the Government. In a settlement, the Government paid her 3.1 million yen (US$24,270) for the untimely death caused by her husband’s exposure to asbestos at the Hashima City factory where he had worked for the Nichias company. See: アスベスト訴訟で国と和解 死亡で国と再び和解が成立 [Settlement with the country in asbestos proceedings. Another settlement reached due to death [of victim]].
 

Toxic Environment in West Singhbhum

Apr 21, 2022

Inhabitants of a tribal village in the Indian State of Jharkhand continue to suffer from diseases caused by exposure to asbestos fibers and waste material scattered throughout the region as a consequence of decades of asbestos mining. Huge mountains of chrysotile (white) asbestos tailings dominate the landscape of local villages and lung complaints and breathing difficulties are very common. Due to a lack of medical capacity, patients are forced to travel far afield – to Ranchi, Hyderabad, Delhi – to access medical treatment. See: Asbestos mining health hazards continues to plague this tribal village in Jharkhand.
 

Court Fines for Asbestos Crimes

Apr 21, 2022

Justice Duggan of the Land and Environment Court of News South Wales (NSW), Australia issued a fine of A$270,000 to Munaf Al-Sarray, an employee of Ace Demolition and Excavation Pty Ltd., who pleaded guilty to falsifying paperwork for the disposal of asbestos waste at two NSW landfills in February and May 2017. The Judge noted that because of the presence of asbestos, the offence “could have resulted in a risk of harm to the environment and community safety.” See: EPA fines Ace Demolition employee $270,000 for falsifying waste dockets.
 

Asbestos in Schools

Apr 21, 2022

The Department of Education of Catalonia, an autonomous community of Spain, has announced that it has allocated €11 million (~US$12m) over the next three years for its program to eradicate asbestos from its schools. The budget is for work to be undertaken at 39 schools. Much of the work will consist of the removal of toxic asbestos roofing which was widely used before Spain banned asbestos use in 2002. A 2017 map made by the Department of Education revealed that asbestos had been identified in 291 schools and institutes not only in roofing but also in downspouts, pipes and blackboards. See: Cataluña invertirá 11 millones para retirar el amianto de 39 escuelas en tres años [Catalonia will invest 11 million to remove asbestos from 39 schools in three years].
 

Jharkhand’s Asbestos Legacy

Apr 19. 2022

Decades of asbestos mining in the Roro hills of the Indian State of Jharkhand have left their mark on the landscape as well as the people. According to the article cited below, many elderly people in a dozen local villages believe that their lung conditions and breathing difficulties are a direct result of their environmental exposures to asbestos. Although asbestos mining in Jharkhand ended in 1983, no efforts have been made to remediate the mines or areas surrounding them. In 2019, the National Green Tribunal ordered Jharkhand officials to remove the toxic waste; up to now, no decontamination work has been undertaken. See: The ghost of asbestos mining continues to haunt this tribal village in Jharkhand.
 

Asbestos Disease Hotspots in High Use Areas

Apr 19, 2022

The findings of Brazilian researchers published in the March 19, 2022 issue of the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health reported that between 2000 and 2017, there was excess mortality from typical asbestos-related diseases (ARD-T: mesothelioma, asbestosis, and pleural plaques) as well as an excess of lung cancer deaths in both sexes and ovarian cancer deaths in women in areas where asbestos mines and asbestos-cement plants had operated. It was concluded that: “Analytical studies are necessary to document the impact of asbestos exposure on health, particularly in the future, given the long latency of asbestos-related cancers.” See: Sex-Specific Mortality from Asbestos-Related Diseases, Lung and Ovarian Cancer in Municipalities with High Asbestos Consumption, Brazil, 2000–2017.
 

EPA Asbestos Ban: Review

Apr 19, 2022

The ubiquity of asbestos-containing products throughout the United States remains a potent human hazard despite steps by the Biden administration to outlaw future use of chrysotile (white) asbestos. Scientists, medical experts and campaigners decried a draft ban by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as insufficient and inadequate in light of historic use of asbestos products which have become part of the national infrastructure. According to the author of the article cited below: “The agency is expected to look at legacy uses in the future, but it could be years before potential risks are assessed, let alone addressed.” See: Despite new regulations, US faces major asbestos problem.
 

Marking World Earth Day

Apr 19, 2022

April 22, 2022 – World Earth Day – will see students from schools in the Italian town of Casale Monferrato (CM), take part in “flash mob” activities to depict themes including the asbestos legacy in CM, whose residents continue to contract lethal diseases from the exploitation of asbestos at the former Eternit asbestos-cement factory. The plant was closed down in 1986 and the industrial area remediated. On the site of the former factory stands a public park called Eternot; this is where the students will perform throughout the day. The asbestos actions will be in support of litigation in Novara on behalf of 392 CM residents who died from asbestos diseases. See: Un grande flash mob per le vittime dell'amianto e per l'ambiente [A great flash mob for asbestos victims and the environment].
 

Initiative to Support Asbestos Victims

Apr 19, 202

On April 24, 2022 a meeting is being held in Maebashi, a city in the Kanto region of central Japan, by the Mesothelioma and Asbestos Disease Patients and Family Association (Kita-Kantou Branch) to identify and inform people at high-risk of contracting asbestos-related diseases (ARDs). Speakers will include people who have been diagnosed with ARDs and bereaved family members who will share their experiences and explain issues, including how to access medical and financial support for the injured. See: 石綿被害を訴えて 24日に前橋で相談会 患者や遺族の講演も [Consultation meeting at Maebashi on the 24th to consider asbestos damage. Lectures by patients and bereaved families].
 

The Ongoing Asbestos Legacy

Apr 19, 2022

The widespread use of asbestos in Spain has left a dangerous legacy for workers, members of the public and the environment. At work, school and home, people are unknowingly being exposed to toxic material which remains hidden within walls, on roofs, in automobile engines, on ships and in many other places where asbestos-containing products had been used. Despite the best efforts of the country’s Labor Inspectors, the toxic exposures continue. See: La inconsciencia, espontánea o inducida, en el manejo laboral del amianto y en algunos de nuestros actos cotidianos [Unconscious, spontaneous or intentional occupational handling of asbestos in some of our daily acts].
 

Claimant’s Ruling for J&J Victim

Apr 14, 2022

On April 12, 2022, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Michael Kaplan ruled that despite bankruptcy proceedings freezing asbestos claims against Johnson & Johnson (J&J), a lawsuit could proceed on behalf of the family of a deceased plaintiff who had sued the company in 1986. The plaintiff dropped his lawsuit when J&J produced evidence showing that no tests had been done which showed that J&J talc contained asbestos. This was a lie. Because of the falsehoods told by the company, the case can proceed. J&J said it “will defend the case if it proceeds.” See: Johnson & Johnson Can’t Block Lawsuit Claiming It Lied About Asbestos in Talc.
 

Manslaughter Convictions in Palermo

Apr 14, 2022

Former managers of the Fincantieri Shipbuilding facility in Palermo were given prison sentences by an Italian Court which found them guilty of the manslaughter of 21 workers. The accused, Antonino Cipponeri and Giuseppe Cortesi, were told they must spend 2 years and 8 months and 3 years in prison, respectively, for having failed to take mandatory precautions to protect the workforce from toxic exposures to asbestos and asbestos-containing products used in the shipyard. To secure compensation for their loved ones’ deaths, the surviving families will have to launch a civil action. See: Amianto: condannati ex vertici Fincantieri Palermo [Asbestos: former Fincantieri Palermo leaders sentenced].
 

Successful Asbestos Prosecutions in B.C.

Apr 14, 2022

Two construction companies in British Columbia (B.C.) were recently fined over infringements of workplace asbestos regulations after prosecutions by the Workers' Compensation Board of British Columbia, (WorkSafeBC), a statutory agency tasked with preventing occupational injuries and illnesses. Talofa Removals & Demolition Ltd. was fined $5,000 for multiple deficiencies in its procedures for handling asbestos-containing materials during a pre-demolition asbestos abatement assessment. Army Pre-Demolition Ltd. was fined $2,500 for failing to comply with multiple requests for the submission of asbestos waste disposal records. See: Four B.C. construction firms fined over OHS violations.
 

Calls to Replace Water Pipes

Apr 14, 2022

A new study published by the International Water Association’s Water Supply Journal of the University of Otago’s School of Geography concluded that underground asbestos-cement pipes in many Christchurch suburbs were releasing asbestos fibers into the city’s main water supply. Over 40% of the city’s water is delivered via aging asbestos-cement pipes. Having sampled water at 35 locations across the city, the researchers found “abundant evidence” of asbestos fibers. Calls by the authors of this paper for a systematic replacement of the aging pipework were widely supported. See: Call for pipe upgrades after asbestos found in Christchurch drinking water.
 

Asbestos Remediation of Barcelona Metro

Apr 14, 2022

More than 8,500 kilograms of asbestos cement have been removed from the Maragall metro station in Barcelona as part of the ongoing asbestos remediation program of the Transports Metropolitans de Barcelona [Barcelona Metropolitan Transport System (TMB)]. Sections of this metro line were out of service from April 9 to 18 to allow this work to proceed. Those commuters affected by the closure have been able to use alternative transport such as coaches being run by TMB to serve the area. See: Retiran más de 8.000 kilos de amianto en la estación de metro de Maragall [More than 8,000 kilos of asbestos have been removed from Maragall metro station].
 

Scotland’s Regime on Pleural Plaques

Apr 13, 2022

In Chapter 4 of the 95-page discussion paper (no. 174) by the Scottish Law Commission, published in February 2022, the subject of provisional damages and asbestos-related diseases was considered: “While accepting that each case is fact-sensitive, it is possible that the law on provisional damages as it operates in the context of pleural plaques in combination with the law on limitation and the 2009 Act may produce some inequitable results, and on any view, a high degree of uncertainty.” Interested parties were invited to give their views on whether current rules on provisional damages for pleural plaques claimants were equitable and if not what improvements should be made. See: Scottish Law Commission’s Discussion Paper on Damages for Personal Injury.
 

Operation of Compensation Scheme

Apr 13, 2022

The article cited below provided information on the operations of a new government entity set up by the Japanese Government to provide compensation to construction workers injured as a result of occupational exposures to asbestos. The establishment of the administrative scheme became necessary after a landmark decision was handed down by the Supreme Court in 2021 that found that the Government had been negligent in failing to take timely action in recognizing the human health hazard posed by exposures to asbestos. See: アスベストによる健康被害 給付金制度創設、救済に光 [Health damage caused by asbestos, establishing a benefit system].
 

Supporting Injured in Castilla-La Mancha

Apr 13, 2022

On March 31, 2022, The National Institute of Social Security and the autonomous community of Castilla-La Mancha signed an agreement to undertake joint actions in relation to workers suffering from diseases caused by occupational exposures to asbestos. A working group will be constituted by the two parties to consider measures to identify and support individuals who have been adversely impacted by employment in workplaces where asbestos-containing products were made or used. See: El personal afectado por amianto recibirá atención para concretar cómo afectó este residuo a su capacidad laboral [Personnel affected by asbestos will receive attention to specify how this residue affected their work capacity].
 

Asbestos Link to Head and Neck Cancers?

Apr 13, 2022

An article by French researchers which appeared in the online version of the British Medical Journal last week reported that there was “a significant dose–response relationship between CEI [cumulative exposure index] of exposure to asbestos and head and neck cancers” based on an analysis of a cohort of 13,481 male workers who had been occupationally exposed to asbestos between October 2003 and December 2005. The study concluded that a relationship existed “between asbestos exposure and head and neck cancers, after exclusion of laryngeal cancers, regardless of whether associated pleural plaques were present.” See: Head and neck cancer and asbestos exposure.
 

Compensation for Asbestos Victims

Apr 11, 2022

On April 8, 2022, Brazil’s Federal Public Ministry and the Public Ministry of the State of Bahia announced that they had guaranteed a reserve of approximately R$ 8.9 million (US$1.9m) to secure priority compensation payments to 49 people in the town of Bom Jesus da Serra, Bahia whose lives had been damaged by exposure to asbestos created by the mining operations of the Sama S/A Minerações Associadas company at the São Félix asbestos mine between 1940 and 1968. See: Contaminados por amianto, moradores do sul da BA ganham direito a prioridade no recebimento de indenizações [Contaminated by asbestos, residents of southern BA are entitled to priority in receiving compensation].
 

Justice in Naples for the Asbestos Dead?

Apr 11, 2022

Last week, the Court of Assizes in Naples sentenced 74-year old Swiss billionaire Stephan Schmidheiny to 3 years and 6 months in an Italian prison for the manslaughter of Antonio Balestrieri, an employee from the Eternit asbestos factory in Bagnoli. When charges brought by the Public Prosecutor over six other deaths were ruled to have been time-barred or invalid due to a technicality, family members shouted out “shame.” The verdict is being appealed by both sides. See: Morti da amianto all'Eternit di Bagnoli, una sola condanna per omicidio colposo. I parenti delle vittime: “Vergogna” [Deaths from asbestos in Eternit’s Bagnoli plant, only one conviction for manslaughter. Relatives of the victims: “Shame”].
 

Asbestos Hazard at California Prison

Apr 11, 2022

In early 2022, trade union officials issued complaints to US authorities over multiple failings at a Federal Correctional Institution in Dublin California that included the existence of deteriorating asbestos-containing products throughout the facility. Their complaints have been found to be accurate by a government watchdog. As a result, the U.S. Office of Special Counsel has requested that Attorney General Merrick Garland undertake an investigation and report back within 60 days. According to Emery Nelson, spokesman for the Bureau of Prisons: “All safety concerns reported by staff are being addressed.” See: Feds Accused of Ignoring Asbestos, Mold at Women's Prison.
 

Toxic Landscaping in Korean Park

Apr 11, 2022

At a press conference on April 7, 2022, Korean environmental groups – the Incheon-Gyeonggi Environmental Movement Federation, Environmental Health Citizens' Center, and Korea Asbestos Expulsion Network – lambasted the authorities for failing to act on the hazard posed by the presence of asbestos-contaminated ornamental stones landscaping Incheon Park, which has 4 million visitors every year. A spokesperson told journalists that the temporary measures taken to minimize the health hazard were unacceptable and that the contamination must be eradicated as a matter of priority. See: 시민건강 위협 인천대공원 석면조경석 철거해야 [People’s health threatened, Incheon Grand Park asbestos landscaping stone must be removed].
 

Contentious Decision by Basque Court

Apr 11, 2022

A court in the Basque city of San Sebastián last week ruled that the widow and children of a worker who had died from lung cancer having been exposed to asbestos at the Pedro Orbegozo-Acenor foundry should only receive half of the sum awarded in April 2021 by the National Social Security Institute. The reason for cutting the compensation from €159,754 (US$174,000) to €80,000 was the deceased’s smoking history. A group representing asbestos victims condemned this decision, stating that it was “cynical and immoral to exculpate or minimize corporate responsibility by blaming individual consumption habits as the cause of illnesses.” See: Un juez reduce a la mitad la indemnización de amianto por ser la víctima fumadora [A judge cuts asbestos compensation in half on account of a victim’s smoking history].
 

Unexplored Asbestos Legacy

Apr 11, 2022

A paper published by three Albanian researchers in February 2022 in the International Journal of Latest Research in Engineering and Technology provided useful information about the country’s asbestos industry which continues to use asbestos unhindered by regulations. According to the authors, the vast majority (70%) of the asbestos consumed in Albania today is used for the manufacture of asbestos-cement building products. Between 1930 and 1990, approximately 190,000 tons of asbestos were used. The authors called on the government to ban asbestos immediately and to introduce protections for workers and the public in line with EU regulations and guidelines. See: Presence of Asbestos in Albania, an Approach.
 

Asbestos Eradication at Wittenom?

Apr 6, 2022

As a result of legislation passed by the Parliament of Western Australia, the remaining homes and buildings in the toxic asbestos mining town of Wittenoom will be destroyed. However, remediating the extensive asbestos contamination in the town and surrounding areas would be, said one expert, “one of the biggest and most complex mine site rehabilitations in history.” Dr Adam Cross estimated that the clean-up could cost $100+ million. The original owners of the land, the Banjima native title holders of the Pilbara, remain adamant that they want the land cleansed and returned to their ownership. See: Wittenoom is officially closed, but can the asbestos be cleaned up?
 

Asbestos Blight in Toledo

Apr 6, 2022

Contamination of a residential neighborhood and local river in Toledo, Spain by asbestos-cement waste has long been a contentious issue in the city. The Ombudsman has been monitoring the situation and has lately intervened demanding updates from the City Council and Vice-Ministry of the Environment regarding progress of asbestos remediation in the Santa María de Benquerencia neighborhood. The Ombudsman called on the authorities to report back on the work being carried out. See: El Defensor del Pueblo propone análisis continuos del amianto [The Ombudsman proposes continuous analyses of asbestos].
 

J&J Condemned by Grieving Mother

Apr 6, 2022

The tragic case of Hannah Wilt, who died on February 14, 2022 at the age of 27 from the asbestos cancer mesothelioma, was the focus of the article cited below, which explored the means put in place by Johnson and Johnson to avoid paying compensation to people injured by exposures to asbestos fibers contained in their talc-based baby powder. The fact that one of the wealthiest corporations in the US had dodged claims from dying plaintiffs was described as “heartless” and “ruthless” by Hanah’s Mother who said: “It's disgusting that for monetary gain they will stop at nothing.” See: Rich companies are using a quiet tactic to block lawsuits: bankruptcy.
 

Union’s Asbestos Alert in Cherbourg

Apr 6, 2022

At a special meeting of the Social and Economic Committee held on April 1, 2022 by the Cherbourg Naval Group of the CGT trade union, warnings were given about the presence of asbestos in ten buildings, with union officials demanding guarantees that all employees would be protected from toxic exposures. Asbestos contamination of the Radiguet building had already been confirmed and the building was closed. The results of other tests from the site are awaited. See: Amiante: la CGT de Naval Group « ne veut pas créer de psychose » mais… [Asbestos: Naval Group's CGT "does not want to create psychosis" but...].
 

Legal Victory in Florida for UK Widow

Apr 6, 2022

A jury in a circuit court in Broward County southeast Florida awarded British citizen Roseann Donovan $18 million dollars in a case she brought over her husband’s death from asbestos cancer. Marine engineer Michael Donovan had worked in the boiler rooms and engineering spaces in Royal Fleet Auxiliary ships operated by the UK Ministry of Defence. Most of the vessels had been built in the 1960s and contained asbestos products which had been made in the US. See: Broward Jury Awards $18 Million to Foreign Plaintiff in Asbestos Case.
 

Distribution of Mesothelioma Cases

Apr 6, 2022

A paper by Australian researchers in the online May 2022 issue of the Lung Cancer Journal examined the geographic incidence and survival rates for people who contracted the signature asbestos cancer mesothelioma in Australia. Whilst the number of cases varied throughout the country, the incidence rate was lower in remote areas and higher in major cities; “survival was uniformly poor.” Some clusters of disease could can be explained, the scientists reported, “by the location of historical mines and asbestos-related industries.” See: Geographic distribution of malignant mesothelioma incidence and survival in Australia.
 

Government Support for Asbestos Industry

Apr 4, 2022

As a result of the economic sanctions on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine, Russian asbestos exports have been blocked. As Russia is the largest producer and exporter of asbestos fiber, the difficulties this sector its experiencing are of national concern. According to a news report of March 31, Orenburg Minerals – Russia’s largest asbestos conglomerate – has reported “problems even with the delivery of products to China [which can be sent by rail]. Problems with payment have been resolved only with India and China; they are being solved with Turkey and Iran.” See: Субсидии в 200 млн рублей на процентную ставку выделили оренбургским предпринимателям [Subsidies of 200 million rubles for the interest rate were allocated to Orenburg entrepreneurs].
 

Legal Win for Mechanic’s Family

Apr 4, 2022

An appeal by the family of deceased mechanic Pedro Orbegozo-Acenor was successful last week when the Superior Court of Justice in Donostia, Spain awarded his heirs compensation of €313,000 (US$346,000) for his 2020 death from asbestos-related lung cancer. The Court ruled that between 1969 and 1992 five companies had failed to protect him from toxic workplace exposures. In a previous court ruling, the family’s claim had been dismissed with a verdict which acquitted the companies and blamed the disease on the victim’s smoking history. See: Cinco empresas tendrán que indemnizar con 313.000 euros a los herederos de un trabajador con cáncer por amianto [Five companies will have to compensate the heirs of a worker with asbestos cancer with 313,000 euros].
 

Victims’ Ruling by Kobe Court

Apr 4, 2022

On March 31, 2022, Judge Satoshi Saito of the Kobe District Court awarded compensation of 20.8 million yen (US$164,000) each to three men who had been employed at the Kobe docks unloading and handling asbestos cargo from the mid-1950s and, as a result, contracted asbestos-related lung cancer. The Judge ruled that according to Japanese law, the employers were required to have protected the workers from exposures to dangerous substances; they failed to do so. See: 神戸港貨物確認元従業員 アスベストで肺がん 法人に賠償命令 [Compensation awarded to former employees from Kobe Port who Contracted Lung Cancer after Unloading Asbestos Cargo].
 

Mesothelioma Causation: Update

Apr 4, 2022

The results of research by American scientists could pave the way for a better understanding of how mesothelioma, the signature cancer associated with asbestos exposure, is caused and how it can be prevented. A research team, led by Dr. Christian Mosimann, at the Anschutz Medical Campus, University of Colorado and their international partners reported last week that in numerous mesothelioma tumors the Hand2 protein – normally dormant after the embryonic stages of life – is reactivated. This discovery could help doctors develop better treatments and therapies for mesothelioma patients. See: Study Shows Critical Protein May Play a Role in Origin of Mesothelioma.
 

Improving Asbestos Protection in BC

Apr 4, 2022

The Legislative Assembly of British Columbia (BC) is currently considering legislation (Bill 5 – 2022) to help protect workers from occupational exposures to asbestos. Under the draft proposal, all asbestos abatement contractors in BC would be required to operate under license. Furthermore, asbestos removal operatives as well as supervisory staff would need to complete safety training. The proposed law details measures for developing the new licensing and certification schemes for the asbestos abatement industry. See: B.C. plans to license asbestos contractors, require mandatory training and certification for workers.
 

Confronting Italy’s Asbestos Legacy

Apr 4, 2022

The scathing commentary referenced below, about the betrayal of Italy’s asbestos victims by employers, “partisan consultants,” self-interested professionals and multiple courts, explained how vast financial resources had been disbursed to protect parties responsible for causing a national disaster. The author reported that by the end of the 21st century, asbestos-related diseases will have caused 100,000 deaths in Italy and the expenditure of over 100 billion euros for decontamination work. “At the current disposal rates we will,” he wrote “be an asbestos free country only in the last years of the century.” See: “Il silenzio dell’amianto”: un libro-inchiesta sulla guerra giudiziaria contro le vittime del lavoro [“Asbestos silence”: an investigation of the judicial war against the victims of work].
 

Johnson & Johnson Russian U-Turn!

Mar 31, 2022

Responding to global condemnation of its continued presence in Russia despite Western sanctions, the US pharmaceutical giant Johnson and Johnson (J&J) announced on March 29, 2022 that it would stop selling some of its products in Russia. It will also stop enrolling patients in clinical drug trials it was running in Russia. Whilst the company seems to have responded to public pressure in this instance, it has not yet reversed measures put in place to prevent cancer patients from suing the company over injuries they sustained from the use of its asbestos-contaminated talc-based baby powder. See: J&J to stop selling personal care products in Russia.
 

Dangerous Developments in Ankara

Mar 31, 2022

The Ankara Cement Factory is due for demolition as part of a huge regeneration plan which will include the construction of a residential area, commercial units and a special education zone. The overlapping involvement of local and regional public institutions has been problematic, say technical experts concerned about the asbestos fallout from the demolition of this factory which will, they say, endanger local people as well as construction workers, harm the ecosystem and pollute the environment via contamination of air, soil, rivers and lakes. See: Uzmanlar: Ankara Çimento Fabrikası yıkılırsa asbest yayılacak [Experts: Asbestos will spread if Ankara Cement Factory is destroyed].
 

Asbestos in Schools

Mar 31, 2022

A report issued on March 16, 2022 by the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee raised concerns about the Department for Education’s: “understanding of asbestos within the school estate. Asbestos is a significant, and potentially dangerous, problem in many schools. We have previously found that the Department did not have a complete picture of asbestos in school buildings… it has still not earmarked specific funding for asbestos management, or determined whether this is a barrier to schools engaging with the Department on asbestos risks.” The Department has been given 6 months to produce a report showing “its full understanding of asbestos across the estate…” See: Tens of millions of public money used to “prop up” poorly managed academy schools with potentially excessive levels of pay.
 

No Justice for Jussieu’s Asbestos Victims

Mar 31, 2022

French asbestos victims reacted angrily to the dismissal by a Paris Court of an asbestos case brought more than 26 years ago for people who received toxic asbestos exposures at Jussieu University. The verdict supported arguments that there was a: “scientific impossibility (…) of determining (…) at what moment or even at what period the contamination took place.” Commenting on this news, a spokesperson for the Jussieu Anti-Asbestos Committee said that the dismissal was “scientifically and legally erroneous” and claimed that the Committee had accumulated evidence which incriminated those responsible for the death of “thousands” of people. See: Amiante à Jussieu: 26 ans de procédure et un non-lieu [Asbestos in Jussieu: 26 years of proceedings and a dismissal].
 

Illegal Demolition in Oran

Mar 31, 2022

The destruction of 500 prefabricated buildings in Oran, a major coastal city in the north-west of Algeria, has caused public unrest, as they contained asbestos-cement. Former residents say that since the 1980s, 100 people had died due to toxic exposures in the units. There was no asbestos audit made prior to the demolition and no asbestos removal carried out before the demolition crews moved in last week. Algeria banned asbestos in 2009 and according to regulations, a company specialized in asbestos removal should have been employed to decontaminate the building to prevent the release of asbestos fibers into the air. Police suspended work on March 27 for further investigations. See: Demolition de “Batimate Taliane” a Oran. Quid du danger de l’amiante? [Demolition of “Batimate Taliane” in Oran. What about the danger of asbestos?]
 

Asbestos Remediation in Getafe

Mar 31, 2022

At its most recent plenary session, the City Council of Getafe, a city in the Community of Madrid, approved a motion obliging landowners to remediate asbestos contamination dumped on their land. According to politician Ángel Muñoz, who addressed the meeting, asbestos audits have already been carried out in 80% of municipal buildings. A coalition of political parties urged the authorities in Getafe to embrace harsh measures to end illegal fly-tipping of asbestos waste in order to comply with goals set out in the Strategy for Reconstruction and Resilience of the Community of Madrid. See: GETAFE / Los propietarios de terrenos tendrán que ‘eliminar’ los vertidos con amianto [GETAFE / Landowners will have to ‘eliminate’ dumping of [waste containing] asbestos].
 

Expanding Domestic Asbestos Markets

Mar 28, 2022

Long-term plans by Russian asbestos producers such as Orenburg Minerals to expand domestic markets for chrysotile (white) asbestos are coming online at an apposite time. Due to sanctions imposed on exports as a result of Putin’s war on Ukraine, the majority of asbestos shipments scheduled for export has been blocked. By developing a new range of asbestos-cement building products which are aggressively promoted with misleading assurances such as “Chrysotile is a safe, controlled use mineral” which is “fully recyclable in the environment,” stakeholders seek to increase national consumption of asbestos. See: Фибратек – Всегда Доступное Качество [Fibratek – Always Affordable Quality].
 

Dealing with Toxic Waste Dumps

Mar 28, 2022

Quebec politicians and commercial interests responded positively to last week’s announcement by the Quebec Government which promised investment over the next six years of $61 million to address the environmental situation created by decades of asbestos mining. Mountains of toxic waste dominate the landscape throughout the region; as they contain a significant percentage of asbestos fibers, they continue to endanger life. Plans to process tailings to reclaim valuable minerals which, said the President of 3R Minéral Inc, “is the only viable, environmental and economic solution to address a major long-standing environmental issue in the region,” are being contested by environmental campaigners. See: Les résidus d’amiante et miniers au cœur des priorités ciblées [Asbestos and mining residues at the heart of targeted priorities].
 

Medical Outreach Initiative in Busan

Mar 28, 2022

On March 25, 2022, Busan City announced that it would be providing free medical check-ups for 1,000 people who had lived near asbestos mines, shipyards or asbestos-processing factories because of the environmental hazard posed by toxic fibers liberated from such locations. Busan was the first Korean city to pioneer such an outreach project, with the first screenings taking place in 2008. The examinations this year will, once again, be conducted by personnel from the Asbestos Environmental Health Center at Pusan National University Yangsan Hospital; to date, the Center has screened 21,092 people, of whom 624 had an asbestos-related disease. See: 부산시, 석면 피해 지역주민에 '찾아가는 건강검진' 실시 [‘Visiting health check-ups’ for residents affected by asbestos in Busan].
 

Local Elevation of Airborne Asbestos Levels

Mar 28, 2022

On March 23, 2022 information was released by Japan’s Ministry of Environment which confirmed that some of the data from routine testing for airborne asbestos levels at 40 locations throughout the country was disturbing. While asbestos concentration in the general environment has been decreasing in recent years, elevated levels continue to be found in areas where asbestos processing or mining had taken place. Investigations are ongoing and measures to protect at-risk citizens are being considered. See: 北海道ノザワ工場から「ほぼ毎年」アスベスト飛散か 最大で住宅地の150倍超 環境省・検討会で指摘 [Ministry of the Environment Study shows, levels of [airborne] asbestos from Hokkaido's Nozawa plant are up to 150 times [average] residential area values "almost every year"].
 

J&J Pioneers Toxic Legal Stratagems

Mar 28, 2022

The headline of the article cited below is considered by some to be one the more insulting in recent memory as it triumphs as a victory the disenfranchisement of people dying from cancer contracted through exposure to asbestos-contaminated talc-based baby powder sold by the US pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson (J&J). The author explored the ramifications of a February 2022 court decision allowing J&J to exploit a legal loophole to avoid its liabilities and considered how other defendants facing product-liability claims like 3M Co., and Dow Inc. might also dump claims to protect the corporate bottom line. See: J&J’s Victory Over Cancer Victims Clears Path for 3M, Others.
 

ADF Asbestos Exposures in Tonga

Mar 28, 2022

Members of the Australian Defence Force (ADF) who had been deployed for six weeks to assist people in Tonga in the aftermath of the devastating January 2022 tsunami have expressed concerns about their exposures to asbestos debris during clean-up operations on the archipelago. The ADF confirmed “that members of Operation Tonga Assist discovered asbestos material while clearing debris and destroyed local infrastructure on Atata Island after the January disaster.” See: Asbestos scare emerges as HMAS Adelaide's troubled Tonga mission concludes.
 

Final Days for Wittenoom Properties

Mar 25, 2022

Although Western Australia’s toxic township of Wittenoom – for decades home to a mine producing crocidolite (blue) asbestos fiber – was officially degazetted in 2007, “idiotic” tourists still travel to the town despite the deadly nature of the risks of spending time in such a contaminated site. On March 24, 2022, it was announced that the Wittenoom Closure Bill had been passed by the WA Parliament as a result of which the state government will be allowed to acquire and demolish the final properties remaining in private hands. According to Lands Minister John Carey, the law signals the end to Wittenoom as a destination: “There will be, in effect, nothing left to visit,” he said. See: WA Government bill to close asbestos-riddled town Wittenoom ends ‘dark chapter’ of state's history.
 

Asbestos Ruling in Fukuoka!

Mar 25, 2022

On March 24, 2022, the Fukuoka High Court dismissed an appeal by Kitakyushu City and a building maintenance company which had been found guilty by a lower court of having exposed a worker to asbestos at the Kitakyushu City Gymnasium in 1990; as a result of that exposure, he died aged 78. Judge Yoshiaki Moritomi upheld the verdict of the Fukuoka District Court ordering the defendants to pay the family 25.8 million yen (US$211,000). According to the claimant’s lawyer, the 2020 decision by the District Court was the first in Japan to recognize the responsibility of local governments for public facilities which contained asbestos. See: アスベスト訴訟控訴審も北九州市に賠償命令 福岡高裁 [Asbestos proceedings appeal also ordered compensation to Kitakyushu City Fukuoka High Court].
 

Make Asbestos Action a Priority

Mar 25, 2022

On March 22, 2022, the European Public Service Union (ESPU) – representing 8 million European public service workers – issued a press release calling on the European Commission to take urgent steps to protect workers from asbestos. Amongst the measures called for to stop toxic exposures to firefighters, emergency services providers, demolition and asbestos removal operatives and others, the EPSU called for a substantial reduction of permissible occupational asbestos exposure levels in light of the fact that “there is no threshold under which asbestos fiber air concentration is harmless and protection of any worker coming into contact with asbestos fiber is a vital matter.” See: EPSU calls on the Commission to stop asbestos deaths.
 

Asbestos Cancer Case Begins!

Mar 25, 2022

On March 24, 2022, a trial in a personal injury lawsuit began in a court in the Spanish city of Donostia, in the north west of the country. The case was brought by the family of a man who had worked as a painter / welder at two companies between 1968 and 1999. Both companies – Productos Isolantes (Paisa), now known as Ercross, and Zardoya Otis – are accused of causing his 2020 death by failing to take timely and effective action to protect him from workplace exposures to asbestos. The family is claiming compensation of €136,783 (US$~150,000). See: Ercross y Zardoya serán juzgados por amianto [Ercross and Zardoya will be tried for asbestos [offences]].
 

Report from Novara Asbestos Trial

Mar 25, 2022

The criminal trial of Swiss billionaire Stephan Schmidheiny, accused of the voluntary murder of 392 Italians, resumed on March 21, with testimony from 15 witnesses called to provide alternative explanations as to how their relatives were killed by asbestos. This ploy is an attempt by the defendant’s legal team to “prove” that it was other asbestos and not that liberated by the operations of the Eternit plant in Casale Monferrato between 1976 and 1986 – when Schmidheiny was in charge – which had caused the fatal illnesses. Did your Mother’s family have an asbestos-cement roof on its chicken coop? garage? shed? The trial continues on March 28. See: Eternit Bis, l’auto blu tutta puntinata di «lentiggini» di polvere [Eternit Bis, the blue car all speckled with “freckles” of dust].
 

Use of New Technology to Track Asbestos

Mar 25, 2022

The small Spanish town of Vivares in the Badajoz Province announced this week that it had completed work on an audit of asbestos roofing on private and public buildings using a new technology, called Spatial Geolocation of Materials with Asbestos, which is capable of geolocating asbestos cement roofs and classifying them according to their age and areas of contamination. According to the Mayor, the town will now be able to implement action plans for the phased replacement of these toxic roofs. See: Vivares crea el primer censo de edificios con amianto [Vivares creates the first census of buildings with asbestos].
 

Impact of Sanctions on Asbestos Sector

Mar 23, 2022

On March 22, Uralasbest – Russia’s 2nd biggest asbestos group – announced it was asking the Russian government to implement measures to mitigate the financial impacts of the country’s war on Ukraine. The company was requesting help to circumvent sanctions on exports so that asbestos shipments by sea might be restarted to crucial markets which included 35 countries throughout Asia. In 2020, the largest importers of Russian asbestos were: India ($67M), China ($38.5M), Indonesia ($22M), Sri Lanka ($9.4M), Vietnam ($9.4M), Uzbekistan ($7.8M), Thailand ($7.6M) & Bangladesh ($6.5M). See: «Ураласбест» попросил федеральное правительство помочь экспортёрам с [Uralasbest asks the federal government to help exporters with logistics].
 

New Asbestos Benefits Law Payments

Mar 23, 2022

On March 18, 2022, Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare announced that it had paid compensation to the first tranche of applicants pursuant to the new Construction Asbestos Benefits Law. On March 2, 86 claims were approved from construction workers who had sprayed asbestos or worked at certain indoor workshops during specific time periods. The successful applicants included employees, self-employed workers and owners of small and medium-sized businesses, who had contracted asbestos-related illnesses. While compensation amounts vary, the maximum payout is 13 million yen (~US$107,500). See: 「建設アスベスト給付金法」に基づく給付金を初めて支給 [First payment of benefits based on the Construction Asbestos Benefits Law].
 

Hidden Truths in Company Archive

Mar 23, 2022

The article cited below which appeared in the online version of The Guardian on Sunday, March 20, 2022 examined information in documents belonging to Cape Asbestos and associated companies which had been preserved as a result of a lengthy legal battle by the Asbestos Victims Support Groups Forum (the Forum). Taken collectively, the journalist said that it was clear that Cape “withheld information on risks posed by the carcinogenic material [asbestos], playing down the dangers while lobbying the government for product warnings to be tempered.” See: UK asbestos maker withheld information on material’s risks, court papers show.
 

Asbestos in Schools

Mar 23, 2022

A concerned father of a 4-year old nursery school pupil in southern France has reported that samples of building rubble stored in front of the school, which he had tested in February 2022, contained up to 15% chrysotile (white) asbestos. Eleven tonnes of toxic waste had been removed from the building’s roof many months ago and left in situ in non-waterproof bags. Replying to the report submitted by the parent, town hall officials said: “the asbestos treatment center in Perpignan had refused this waste because it was not in containers as stipulated by law: waterproof and with an asbestos logo/label.” See: Err Cerdagne) / Amiante à l’école: un parent d’élève dénonce un scandale municipal… [Err Cerdagne / Asbestos at school: a parent denounces a municipal scandal…].
 

Uralasbest on War Footing

Mar 23, 2022

Despite a substantial increase in profits for the financial year 2021, Russia’s 2nd largest asbestos conglomerate Uralasbest announced this week that it would not be paying dividends. On April 22, 2022, at the company’s Annual General Meeting, shareholders will be told: “A decision was made not to distribute profits due to the aggravation of the external economic situation. It is better not to spend these funds now, so that later there will be an opportunity to support production if there is not enough working capital.” See: Свердловский производитель асбеста отказался платить дивиденды [Sverdlovsk asbestos producer refused to pay dividends].
 

Special Asbestos Issue

Mar 23, 2022

The special Asbestos Issue of the peer-reviewed journal referenced below (uploaded this week) includes a collection of ten research papers from global authors on the adverse consequences for human health of asbestos exposures nationally as well as globally. Six of the papers were published in 2021 and the remaining four were published this year. Among the authors are some of the most renowned asbestos researchers in Brazil, Italy, Denmark, Colombia, Japan and Australia. See: Asbestos Exposure and Health Impact Issue of the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.
 

Calls for Action over Racist Policies

Mar 21, 2022

In a March 17, 2022 press release, lawyers representing African-American women with cancer claims against Johnson and Johnson called on the “Congressional Black Caucus to denounce Johnson & Johnson’s alleged exploitation of Black Americans and to close a legal loophole that allows the company to avoid properly compensating thousands of Black women who suffered ovarian cancer from the use of Johnson & Johnson’s powder products.” The lawyers said they were “shocked that Johnson & Johnson …would knowingly inflict physical, psychological, and financial harm on Black Americans not once, but three times.” See: Attorneys Ben Crump and Diandra “Fu” Debrosse Zimmermann Decry Alleged Johnson & Johnson Exploitation of Black Americans & Evasion of Responsibility.
 

Help for Asbestos Victims

Mar 21, 2022

An asbestos victims’ group – the Mesothelioma and Asbestos Diseases Patients and Family Association – organized an emergency asbestos hotline on March 18 to 20, to answer questions from potential claimants with asbestos injuries so that they might submit applications for benefits from a Japanese Government scheme due to close on March 27, 2022. The Association estimated that there were at least 20,000 eligible claims which have not yet been submitted. See: 石綿被害の電話相談、全国一斉で18~20日実施 27日請求期限 [Telephone consultation for asbestos damage, carried out nationwide from March 18 to 20; March 27 deadline for submission of claims].
 

Asbestos Trial: Update

Mar 21, 2022

On March 16, 2022, the defense team for billionaire Stephan Schmidheiny began presenting its case at the murder trial in Novara, Italy; the defendant is accused of causing 392 asbestos cancer deaths in his capacity as the CEO of the Swiss Eternit Group. Twenty relatives were called on to testify about the multiple exposures to asbestos, at work and elsewhere, experienced by the deceased. According to one observer, their evidence revealed “a community massively contaminated and workers grossly exposed without precautions or warnings from management.” The next hearing is on March 21. See: Eternit Bis, «Senza mascherine raschiavano i vetri della fabbrica per eliminare la crosta di polvere» [Eternit Bis, “Without masks they scraped the glass [windows] of the factory to remove encrusted dust”].
 

Asbestos Trial in Rouen

Mar 21, 2022

On March 15, 2022, a hearing started in Rouen in which the Department of Seine-Maritime stood accused of exposing employees to asbestos from April 14 to 17, 2015 during dismantling work on a ferry. The officers allege that they were exposed to asbestos whilst removing engine components from the tank; as a result of these actions, their lives and the lives of others at the site were endangered. The Prosecutors argued that there were no adequate risk assessment and prevention strategies, little or no training, no instructions to wear personal protective equipment and other serious failures to ensure compliance with mandatory regulations and guidelines. See: Rouen. Au tribunal, quatre agents ayant été exposés à l'amiante attaquent le Département [Rouen. In court, four agents who were exposed to asbestos attack the Department].
 

Public Asbestos Hazard Protest

Mar 21, 2022

Last week, campaigners and local people demonstrated outside Izmir’s shuttered Buca Prison to highlight the environmental health hazard posed by the destruction of a huge building which had not undergone any asbestos removal work. The protestors called on the Turkish authorities to stop the work and ensure that all health and safety regulations were observed on the site. Asbestos-containing building products were used in the construction in 1959 of the prison. See: Buca Cezaevi'nde asbest tehlikesi: Halkın sağlığını, ranta kurban etmeyin [The danger of asbestos in Buca Prison: Do not sacrifice public health for profit].
 

Recognition of Occupational Asbestos Cases

Mar 21. 2022

Of the 18 cases of workplace asbestos-related diseases that the National Institute of Social Security has confirmed – 10 of the claimants have died – just six cases lodged by public transport workers have been officially recognized. The first Madrid Metro worker whose occupational claim was accepted was Julián Martín, who died aged 60 in October 2018 from asbestos cancer. As a result of the furore caused by his death, the Madrid Metro committed to a program of asbestos eradication throughout its network. On March 16, the Works Committee of the Madrid Metro called for stoppages to protest at management’s lack of progress. See: 10 trabajadores de Metro de Madrid fallecidos por el amianto en cinco años y un proceso penal pendiente [10 Madrid Metro workers killed by asbestos in five years and criminal proceedings are pending].
 

Asbestos in Imported Beehive Smokers

Mar 18, 2022

Australian authorities this week issued a warning to beekeepers about the likely presence of asbestos fibers in imported beekeeping equipment such as battery-powered electric and manual smokers purchased online. The manual models can have asbestos fabric in the bellows while the electric models are often made with bonded asbestos. All imports of products containing asbestos are illegal in Australia and people importing these banned products could incur heavy fines as well as prison sentences. Between September 2021 and January 31, 2022, the Australian Border force identified 39 bee smokers suspected of containing asbestos. See: Asbestos Warning for Beekeepers.
 

Human Stupidity as Seen in Asbestos Town

Mar 18, 2022

The essay cited below by author Bjarne Knausgard appeared on the Heisenberg Report, a virtual portal for political and economic news, on March 13, 2022. The starting point for this esoteric political-philosophical-economic discussion was the installation located at the entry to Asbest, Russia’s asbestos mono-town, which features a coat of arms of asbestos fibers and the text: Asbest, my town and my fate. With phrases such as “malignant stupidity,” “turbocapitalism” and a “myopic ecological experimentation,” readers are left in no doubt about the author’s rejection of the municipal slogan which he believes has helped create “a slow death in a hyperoptimized dystopian trap.” See: The Metaphysics Of Stupidity (Asbestos Is Our Future).
 

Asbestos Pipes Caused Landslide?

Mar 18, 2022

A $5 million lawsuit has been filed in the State of Washington after a January 17, 2022 landslide endangered the lives of a Seattle family. The plaintiffs and homeowners John and Barb Surdi alleged that the town of Bellevue had been aware of and failed to warn them of the possibility that deteriorating asbestos-cement pipework could result in such a catastrophic loss. Their lawyer David Bricklin argued that the use of iron pipes would have prevented the landslide and destruction from happening. See: Family of collapsed Bellevue home files $5M claim against city, alleging failure to warn them, [and to] replace aging water pipe.
 

Korea’s Deadly Asbestos Mining Legacy

Mar 18, 2022

The effects of asbestos mining and processing in South Korea’s Chungnam Province continue to impact on local people. The extended article cited below contains interviews with asbestos victims whose exposures to fibers from the Gwangcheon Mine – once Asia's largest asbestos mine – and other mines led them to contract asbestos-related diseases such as asbestosis. Annual output from the Gwangcheon Mine, which operated from 1938 to 1986, was 190,000 tonnes. Because of its asbestos mines, the region of Chungnam is home to the largest number of Korea’s asbestos victims; between January 2011 and July 2021, 37% of Koreans recognized as asbestos victims came from Chungnam. See: Chungnam Province, the largest asbestos-damaged area in Korea...“Never-ending pain.”.
 

Asbestos Compensation Fund: Update

Mar 18, 2022

On March 15, 2022, Spanish trade unions, members of asbestos victim support groups and campaigners demanded that asbestos-injured workers be allowed to apply for compensation to a national asbestos compensation fund, proposals for which are now being considered by the Spanish Congress. Last week, the government had indicated that it planned to bar workers from submitting claims to this fund, saying that such claims were already covered by provisions for workers’ compensation. On March 17, debate in the Labor Commission began on the proposals for the €25 million (US$28m) scheme. See: Los sindicatos exigen incluir a los trabajadores en el fondo público del amianto: “Era lo acordado” [The unions demand inclusion of workers in the national asbestos fund: “It was what was agreed”].
 

Asbestos Incident in Parliament

Mar 18, 2022

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) – the “regulatory body responsible for promoting the cause of better health and safety at work” – has launched an official investigation into an asbestos release which took place in Parliament in October 2022 that could have affected 115+ members of staff. Although an asbestos audit of Parliament recorded around 2,500 places where asbestos was present, neither the contractors nor officials at the House of Commons had taken note of the presence of the toxic material in the residence of the Speaker of the House. The HSE was formally notified of the incident on February 10 and 81 at-risk contractor staff and 36 House authorities' staff were told on February 17. See: Health and Safety Executive Investigating Asbestos Release in Parliament.
 

Remediating City’s Asbestos Pipes

Mar 16, 2022

According to the article cited below, construction work in Karl Liebknecht Street – one of the main thoroughfares in the Moldovan city of Tiraspol – which began in February 2022 will continue for a further two months. The project will update old infrastructure including water and sewer networks; deteriorating asbestos-cement pipes are being replaced with new polymer pipes which “are much better quality and will last much longer.” See: Новый асфальт на столичной улице К. Либкнехта, где меняют трубы, появится к лету [New asphalt on the capital's K. Liebknecht street, where pipes are being changed, will appear by summer].
 

Asbestos Hazard and Urban Regeneration

Mar 16, 2022

Turkish asbestos technical experts have raised the alarm about the demolition of Izmir’s Buca Prison which began on March 4. The facility was closed by the Ministry of Justice in 2021 and was believed to be contaminated with asbestos. Calls have been made for the local authorities to disclose information contained on the mandatory pre-demolition asbestos audit to reassure local people that asbestos is not being liberated into the environment by the construction work as photos shared on social media seem to indicate that “no precautions were taken” to prevent the spread of toxic fibers. See: Buca Cezaevi yıkımında 'asbest' şüphesi: Belediye asbest envanter raporunu açıklasın çağrısı [Suspicion of ‘asbestos’ in Buca Prison demolition: Call for municipality to publish asbestos inventory report].
 

Victims Challenge to Yale University

Mar 16, 2022

On March 10, 2022, an Italian victims’ group AFeVA sent a letter to members of a new committee tasked with considering the origins of donations and whether or not the donations made to Yale University were ethical in light of the business activities or political actions of the potential donors. This letter referred to sums provided to Yale by Stephan Schmidheiny, a Swiss asbestos billionaire who is being tried in multiple Italian jurisdictions over the asbestos deaths of workers and members of the public. In 1996, Schmidheiny received from Yale an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters for promoting “stewardship of the global environment.” AFeVA is urging Yale to rescind this honor. See: Letter from AFeVA to Yale.
 

Asbestos in the Steel Industry

Mar 16, 2022

The Asbestos Group of the CSC Belgian trade union has raised the alarm over the possibility of asbestos exposures to members who had worked at steel production facilities which closed 40 years ago in the town of Jemappes. Several former workers have been diagnosed with asbestos-related diseases believed to have been caused by workplace exposures to asbestos. In Jemappes, there were 1,200 workers when the plant closed in 1982; after so many decades, it is not unusual for the injured to forget the toxic exposures they experienced at this and other industrial facilities. See: Des anciens travailleurs des laminoirs de Jemappes victimes de l’amiante? [The asbestos collective is mobilizing for rolling mill workers].
 

Asbestos Compensation Fund Proposal

Mar 16, 2022

The Labor and Social Security Commission of the Spanish Congress are scheduled to begin a debate on 174 amendments presented by the Basque Parliament to a proposal for the creation of a national compensation fund for asbestos victims on March 16, 2022. If the draft legislation is passed unchanged, the Fund would award: “complete reparation of the damages both of any person who has obtained recognition of an occupational disease caused by asbestos and of any person who has suffered damage due to exposure to asbestos” in Spain. See: El Congreso avanza en la definición del fondo de compensación a las víctimas del amianto [Congress advances in the definition of the compensation fund for asbestos victims].
 

Preventing Asbestos Exposures

Mar 16, 2022

In order to publicize the introduction of stricter regulations under the revision of the Air Pollution Control Law (April 2021), officials from Kosai City are mounting an outreach program to educate duty-holders about new measures required to prevent the dissemination of asbestos fibers during refurbishment and demolition work. Contractors are now obliged to submit results of preliminary surveys to the prefecture prior to the commencement of work. See: 建物解体時の石綿飛散防止 法改正で県が啓発活動 [Prefecture government raises awareness by amending the Asbestos Scattering Prevention Law when dismantling buildings].
 

Mechanic’s Victory over the Ford Motor Co.

Mar 15, 2022

On March 10, 2022, a Missouri jury issued a plaintiff’s verdict in a cancer case brought by a former mechanic against the Ford Motor Company. William Trokey had alleged that he had contracted the fatal cancer mesothelioma having worked with toxic drum brakes produced by Ford from 1960 to 1968. The jury agreed and awarded him and his wife $20 million. In the company’s defence, Ford’s lawyers had argued that Trokey’s exposure to Ford’s products was too limited to have caused his cancer which could, they said, have been the result of other exposures. See: Ford hit with $20m in Missouri Asbestos Trial.
 

Increasing Profits in Asbestos Sector

Mar 15, 2022

A subsidiary of Russia’s 2nd biggest asbestos conglomerate Uralasbest on March 10, 2022 announced a trebling of net profits from the sale of asbestos-cement building products for 2021 compared to 2020. In the media release, the Belgorodasbestocement company said that over the same period revenue rose by 37.2%. The company, established in 1952, exports asbestos-cement roofing material as well as pipes. See: “Белгородасбестоцемент” в 2021г увеличил чистую прибыль в 3,4 раза на фоне роста выручки [“Belgorodasbestocement” increased net profit by 3.4 times in 2021 against the background of revenue growth].
 

Asbestos in Schools

Mar 15, 2022

The commentary on Italy’s asbestos legacy cited below pointed out that the widespread presence of toxic products throughout the educational infrastructure continued to endanger the lives of all school users including teachers, staff and children. Although Law 257/92 banned the use of asbestos in Italy in 1992, remediation efforts have been slow as a result of which the built and natural environment remain contaminated. Efforts by civil society groups to press the Ministry of Education to adopt a 2030 deadline for the eradication of asbestos in schools were ongoing. See: Amianto ed eternit al bando da 30 anni, ma ancora in 2.300 scuole: ogni giorno lo respirano 50mila docenti e Ata e 350mila alunni [Asbestos and eternit banned for 30 years, but still in 2,300 schools: 50 thousand teachers and staff and 350 thousand pupils breathe it every day].
 

Asbestos Cancer Audit

Mar 15, 2022

After reviewing data collected between 1970 and 2000, Turkish academic and chest specialist Prof. Dr. Lüfti Kapaklü concluded that 100,000 people in 400 villages, mainly in Central Anatolia and eastern Turkey, were affected by asbestos exposures. According to the Professor, the Central Anatolian provinces of Kütahya, Ankara, Çankiri, Yozgat, Çorum, Sivas and eastern provinces of Malatya, Diyarbakır and Elazığ were cancer hotspots because of exposures to asbestos used in the wall plaster and roofing of village houses and because of the presence of naturally occurring asbestos in the region. See: Türkiye'de 400 köy asbest yüzünden kanserli [400 villages in Turkey with cancer due to asbestos].
 

Asbestos Remediation of Madrid’s Schools

Mar 15, 2022

On March 14, a conference organized by trade unions, asbestos victims’ associations, community groups and civil society campaigners will take place in Madrid to consider the latest proposals for eradicating the asbestos hazard from schools in the Spanish capital. Invited speakers, including medical experts, politicians and community activists, will consider draft legislation presented in November 2021 to the Community of Madrid to achieve this goal. See: Jornada en la Asamblea de Madrid para debatir sobre el amianto en los colegios de la region [Conference at the Madrid Assembly to discuss asbestos in schools in the region].
 

Green Light for Mesothelioma Treatment

Mar 15, 2022

A Greek portal for medical news reported progress in Europe for the treatment of mesothelioma, a deadly cancer caused by exposure to asbestos. The European Commission’s approval of a pioneering monoclonal antibody therapy gives doctors a new non-surgical protocol for first-line treatment of patients in EU countries with pleural mesothelioma. See: Επιθετικός καρκίνος προκαλείται από έκθεση σε αμίαντο. Έγκριση της Ευρωπαϊκής Επιτροπής για πρωτοποριακή θεραπεία μονοκλωνικών αντισωμάτων [Aggressive cancer is caused by exposure to asbestos. European Commission approval for pioneering monoclonal antibody therapy].
 

Activists Win Approval from US SEC

Mar 11, 2022

A resolution calling on Johnson & Johnson’s shareholders to rule on the company’s racist marketing policy will be put to a vote at the company’s upcoming annual general meeting. Although J&J banned the sale of its iconic asbestos-laced talc-based baby powder in the US and Canada in response to 38,000 cancer lawsuits, sales of this product continue elsewhere. The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) supported a motion calling out these double standards by activist-investors from the platform Tulipshare whose CEO Antoine Argouges said: “Having our proposal on the ballot marks a momentous step in accountability. See: Cancerous baby powder may get the boot, thanks to Tulipshare.
 

Human Experimentation by J&J

Mar 11, 2022

Still reeling from the explosion of bad press over its abandonment of cancer sufferers exposed to asbestos in its baby powder, the American pharmaceutical giant Johnson and Johnson (J&J) was revealed this week to have used inmates in the US prison system as guinea pigs. The subjects, most of whom were black inmates in a Philadelphia prison, were injected with asbestos fibers “to compare the [effects of the] cancer-causing compound to talc.” Apologizing for its action J&J, nevertheless, said: “the tests did not violate research standards at the time.” See: Court docs reveal J&J’s role in prison tests comparing talc to asbestos.
 

Slow Road to Justice in Naples & Turin

Mar 11, 2022

Asbestos victims in Italy have learned to be patient after decades of investigations and proceedings to hold to account entrepreneurs, company executives and officials whose decisions led to a national epidemic of asbestos-related diseases. This week, court hearings took place in Naples and Turin in criminal trials against the Swiss billionaire Stephen Schmidheiny who owned Eternit asbestos factories in both jurisdictions. The biggest ongoing Italian trial against the same defendant is proceeding in the Court of Assizes in Novara where he is accused of the voluntary murder of 392 people. See: “Sapeva dei danni da amianto”. Si riapre il caso Eternit [“He knew about the damage from asbestos.” The Eternit case reopens].
 

Navarra Actions on Asbestos

Mar 11, 2022

On March 8, 2022, the Parliamentary Health Commission of the Spanish Region of Navarra unanimously approved a motion urging the Government to prepare a protocol for the removal of asbestos dumped on public roads and to initiate a campaign to raise public awareness of the asbestos hazard. Amongst other measures, the resolution asked the authorities to draw up an operational plan for the total eradication of asbestos in Navarra which delineated specific actions, timelines and budgetary commitments. See: El Parlamento de Navarra pide un protocolo para retirar el amianto de las vías públicas [The Parliament of Navarra requests a protocol to remove asbestos from public roads].
 

Progress on Asbestos Issues in Asia

Mar 11, 2022

In an annual review, the Australian campaigning group Union Aid Abroad – APHEDA detailed measures to raise the profile of the asbestos hazard throughout Asia during 2021. APHEDA partnered with NGOs, government ministries and civil society groups on initiatives in Laos, Indonesia, Cambodia, Vietnam and Pacific Island countries. “We are,” the review concluded “very encouraged by the progress made in 2021 under difficult circumstances. We can see that the asbestos industry is in decline, but thousands of tonnes of asbestos-containing materials still pour into these countries. A total ban is needed...” See: A year in review: Asbestos – Not Here, Not Anywhere campaign.
 

Failures of Compliance with Asbestos Regs

Mar 11, 2022

A 133-page Research Report just released by the HSE, which examined the consequences of asbestos exposures to operatives working in the licensed asbestos removal industry, identified key failings at the eight sites visited between 2016 and 2019. At one of the sites “there were higher personal exposures than the other seven sites, with some 80% of the personal exposure measurements above the control limit.” On four of the eight sites visited peak results were above the control limit. It is extremely disturbing that even in the presence of HSE inspectors there were many examples of bad practice during asbestos removal work. See: Asbestos exposures to workers in the licensed asbestos removal industry.
 

Building Material Manufacturers Sued

Mar 7, 2022

Last week, 21 construction workers from Osaka with asbestos-related diseases or surviving families sued 12 manufacturers of toxic building materials; in the past, such claimants issued joint proceedings against manufacturers and the Government. With the Japanese Government having been forced by a Supreme Cout ruling (2021) to acknowledge responsibility for the asbestos injuries sustained by construction workers, litigants are now targeting the manufacturers. The plaintiffs are seeking a sum of 357 million yen (US$3.1m). See: 全国初“建材メーカーのみの責任を問う”裁判 アスベスト被害受けた元作業員らが提訴 [For the first time in Japan former workers with asbestos diseases file a lawsuit to “hold building material manufacturers to account”].
 

Asbestos Exposure in the Navy & Shipyards

Mar 7, 2022

An in-depth article on a Spanish news portal revealed the deadly effects of asbestos exposures amongst naval personnel in Galicia, an autonomous community in northwest Spain. According to Pneumonologist Carmen Diego almost 90% of the naval workers examined by computerised tomography (CT) showed signs of asbestos-related symptoms, conditions or diseases. Up to 90% of a cohort of workers from the Ferrol shipyards were affected by asbestos exposures as well as a number of women who had washed their husbands toxic work clothes. See: “En los TAC, vemos que el amianto afectó a casi el 90% de los operarios del naval” [“In the CT scans, we see that asbestos affected almost 90% of naval workers”].
 

March 3, a day of Mixed Blessings!

Mar 7, 2022

The 93rd birthday of Italian campaigner Romana Blasotti Pavesi and the first hearing at the Turin Court of Appeal in a case against billionaire Stephan Schmidheiny who stands accused of the manslaughter of workers from the Eternit asbestos factory in Cavagnolo took place on the same day, March 3, 2022. The Judge presiding over the proceedings was also a Judge in the landmark 2012 case in which the same defendant was sentenced to 18 years in jail for his role in causing “a permanent wilful environmental disaster.” That verdict was later over-turned by the Supreme Court on a technicality. See: 3 marzo: buon compleanno Romana! E in Appello si discute l’Eternit Bis per Cavagnolo [March 3rd 2022: happy birthday Romana! Appeal Eternit Bis Cavagnolo Manslaughter Trial].
 

Urgent Calls to Extend Claim Deadline

Mar 7, 2022

Campaigners are calling for urgent action by the Japanese Government to reconsider plans to stick to a March 28, 2022 deadline for the submission of claims by people suffering from asbestos-related diseases as a result of non-occupational exposures such as residents who lived near the asbestos-processing Kanzaki factory. Others who benefited from the scheme were people unable to claim workers’ accident compensation due to the expiration of the statute of limitations. Under a law enacted in 2006, these claimants or surviving family members were eligible for government benefits under the scheme set up by the Asbestos Health Damage Relief Act. See: 「静かな時限爆弾」アスベスト 古い被害、再び閉ざされる救済 [“Silent time bomb” asbestos damage relief [scheme] to shut].
 

Initiatives for Asbestos Eradication

Mar 7, 2022

The commentary cited below by legal expert Jorge Vila Lozano delineated the evolution of legal and legislative strategies to eradicate asbestos from the built environment in Spain as a matter of environmental and public health. According to a judgment handed down in December 2021 by the Provincial Court of Madrid, owners of asbestos-containing properties must pre-warn potential purchasers; failing to do so could incur heavy costs. A law due to come into force soon – the Law on Waste and Contaminated Soils for a Circular Economy – sets a “zero tolerance” for the presence of asbestos in Spanish municipalities. See: Tribunales, amianto y salud pública [Courts, asbestos and public health].
 

Support in Asbestos Town for Russian War

Mar 4, 2022

The news that Russian municipalities were inserting a Z into their names on city signs to show support for the Russian invasion of Ukraine was substantiated by the short article cited below which featured a picture of the sign for the asbestos mining town of Asbestos where a letter Z had been placed over the letter S on the night of March 3. According to the Russian Ministry of Defense, the letter “Z” is applied with paint on the sides of Russian armored personnel carriers, infantry fighting vehicles, tanks and other kinds of equipment engaged in active military deployment. See: Неизвестные ночью «переименовали» Асбест [Unknown people “renamed” Asbest at night].
 

Waiting for Asbestos Justice in Italy

Mar 4, 2022

The latest hearing in the Italian trial of Swiss billionaire Stephen Schmidheiny heard the Naples Public Prosecutor ask the Naples Court of Assizes to sentence the defendant to 23 years and 11 months for the asbestos deaths of eight workers and members of the public whose exposure to toxic dust produced by the asbestos-cement factory owned by Eternit in Bagnoli caused their deaths. The defendant was charged with the voluntary murder of the deceased. The defence will present its closing arguments on March 23. See: Amianto: pm Napoli, condannate Schmidheiny a 23 anni e 11 mesi [Asbestos: pm Naples, Call for Schmidheiny to be sentenced to 23 years and 11 months].
 

Union Advocates Urgent Action on Asbestos

Mar 4, 2022

The Spanish Trade Union UGT is calling on the government to permit workers who had been exposed to asbestos during their employment to retire at 60 years of age. This provision should be included in the bill now being processed through Congress to establish a Compensation Fund for Asbestos Victims. According to the UGT, in 2021 only 25 asbestos-related cancers were recognized as occupational diseases. The union stressed that all workers who had experienced occupational asbestos exposures should be identified, monitored and supported. See: UGT pide la jubilación a los 60 años para las víctimas del amianto [UGT calls for retirement at age 60 for victims of asbestos].
 

Mesothelioma Victims: Update

Mar 4, 2022

The Japanese NGO Mesothelioma Support Caravan is calling on the Government to extend the March 27, 2022 deadline for the submission of asbestos claims. A subcommittee tasked with considering asbestos compensation awards has not met for five years. In 2021, the Ministry of Environment refused to clarify when the next meeting would take place. Anecdotal evidence collected by the NGO suggests that more patients are being diagnosed with mesothelioma in their 40s and 50s; 40% of victims experience financial hardship. See: 「“中皮腫”が治る時代に」闘病生活を送るアスベスト被害者の訴え [Complaints of asbestos victims struggling to survive [economically] because of their illness in an era when mesothelioma “is treatable”].
 

Workplace Hazard in Asbestos Factories

Mar 4, 2022

A paper published on February 25, 2022 in the International Journal of Environmental Research into Public Health by researchers from Zimbabwe and South Africa detailed efforts to develop a job exposure matrix specific to the chrysotile asbestos-cement manufacturing industry, to better understand the health consequences of workplace exposure to chrysotile (white) asbestos. They found that personal exposure concentrations in the Harare and Bulawayo asbestos factories exceeded the OEL of 0.1 f/ml and that amphibole asbestos fibers were present in almost all the bulk samples of chrysotile asbestos which were tested. See: Job Exposure Matrix for Chrysotile Asbestos Fibre in the Asbestos Cement Manufacturing (ACM) Industry in Zimbabwe.
 

Asbestos Deaths in Libby, Montana

Mar 4, 2022

Research published in this month’s issue of the American Journal of Industrial Medicine by academics regarding the cause of death of a cohort of 1,883 individuals occupationally and/or environmentally exposed to amphiboles produced during vermiculite mining operations in Libby, Montana confirmed that “Asbestos is the leading cause of mortality following both occupational and nonoccupational exposure to LA [Libby amphiboles] in those with asbestos-related disease.” See: Case-fatality study of workers and residents with radiographic asbestos disease in Libby, Montana.
 

Still Waiting for Asbestos Justice!

Mar 2, 2022

On February 28, 2022, one of the first French groups to expose the national asbestos scandal – the Jussieu Anti-Asbestos Committee – issued a press release denouncing a “scientifically and legally erroneous” judgment by a Paris court (February 24) which, after 26 years, dismissed litigation over asbestos contamination of Jussieu University. According to the judges, it was not possible to link the toxic exposures which took place at the University to the pathologies which later developed. The Committee is appealing this dismissal. See: Scandale de l'amiante : non-lieu prononcé dans le dossier Jussieu, le Comité anti-amiante fait appel [Asbestos scandal: dismissal pronounced in the Jussieu case, the Anti-Asbestos Committee appeals].
 

Asbestos in Schools

Mar 2, 2022

A £300,000 plan to cut the bottoms off classrooms doors, which had been backed by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, to improve ventilation in Scottish schools and thus protect the health of students and staff has attracted condemnation from asbestos victim support groups in Scotland. Phyllis Craig of the Glasgow-based group Action on Asbestos saying: “Asbestos can be found within doors and in different areas in schools and I would sincerely hope this is taken into consideration before any work is carried out… Asbestos exposure can have health consequences decades after exposure and this needs to be recognised and treated with the seriousness that it merits.” See: Asbestos fear over Sturgeon’s plan to cut bottom off school classroom doors.
 

Eternit Brazil: Financial Update

Mar 2, 2022

Information reported by Eternit, Brazil’s former asbestos giant, to the Brazilian Stock Exchange last week, confirmed several disturbing facts regarding the continued production by an Eternit subsidiary of chrysotile asbestos fiber, despite a 2017 Supreme Court ruling banning the production, use and sale of all asbestos: 20% of Eternit’s net revenue comes from chrysotile production; in the last quarter of 2021, Eternit exported 37,000 tonnes of chrysotile, a 27% increase over the same period in 2020; in the last quarter of 2021, export sales of chrysotile generated a net income of R$71 million (US$14m), 35% up on the same period in 2020. See: Eternit (ETER3) has lower profit and projects exit from judicial recovery.
 

Asbestos Claims from Iron Foundry

Mar 2, 2022

Since the asbestos victims’ group – the Poitou Foundries Association [Association des Fonderies du Poitou/APF] was established in 2014, 124 claims for occupational injuries caused by workplace asbestos exposures have been recognized by the authorities, with compensation pay-outs of up to €200,000 (US$225,000) being received. Between 1981 and 1996, more than a thousand employees were exposed to asbestos at the factory: “there are,” says AFPA President Éric Lemer “still two asbestos-containing furnaces left at the cast iron foundry.” See: Scandale de l'amiante aux Fonderies du Poitou : 124 salariés reconnus en maladie professionnelle et indemnisés [Asbestos scandal at the Poitou Foundries: 124 employees recognized as having an occupational disease and compensated].
 

New Treatment Protocol for Mesothelioma

Mar 2, 2022

In January 2022, Australian and US researchers published a paper detailing a new protocol for treating patients with advanced pleural mesothelioma, a cancer caused by exposures to asbestos. The paper was published online on the website of the British Medical Journal and outlined the parameters of a “multicentre open-label randomised trial” involving 480 patients with advanced pleural mesothelioma who will be randomized into one of two regimes using either a cocktail of immunotherapy plus chemotherapy medications or chemotherapy drugs only. See: Protocol of DREAM3R: DuRvalumab with chEmotherapy as first-line treatment in advanced pleural Mesothelioma—a phase 3 randomised trial
 

Asbestos Crimes and Punishment

Mar 2, 2022

Having pleaded guilty to infringements of asbestos regulations, Essex company director Billy Hopwood was sentenced to ten months imprisonment and disqualified as a director for five years after a prosecution by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). His company Ensure Asbestos Management Limited, now in liquidation, was fined £100,000 for failing to comply with asbestos survey regulations and falsifying documents. As a result of its cutting corners, the company had exposed workers to asbestos. Commenting on the case, HSE inspector Georgina Symons said: “The dangers associated with asbestos are well known and a wealth of advice and guidance is freely available from HSE and other organisations.” See: Asbestos removal company fined for failing to protect workers.
 

NJ Verdict Disenfranchises Cancer Victims

Feb 28, 2022

On February 25, 2022, US bankruptcy judge Michael Kaplan ruled that Johnson and Johnson (J&J) could proceed with a contentious bankruptcy manoeuvre which had frozen cancer claims from 38,000 plaintiffs who alleged that their diseases had been caused by exposure to asbestos fibers in J&J’s talc-based baby powder. “The Court,” said Kaplan “remains steadfast in its belief that justice will best be served by expeditiously providing critical compensation through a court-supervised, fair, and less costly settlement trust arrangement.” During the five-day trial in New Jersey which preceded this verdict, claimants’ lawyers argued that J&J’s actions had deprived “innocent talc victims of their day in court.” See: Johnson & Johnson wins a key court battle in baby powder case.
 

Asbestos in Parliament

Feb 28, 2022

A new report has revealed that restoration work at the Palace of Westminster could take up to 76 years and cost as much as £22 billion. Continued delays in addressing the situation has worsened the condition of this Grade 1 Listed World Heritage site: “Preliminary reports into the crumbling Parliament building have revealed that the degradation is worse than anticipated, while the levels of asbestos are higher than first thought.” Asbestos contamination is just one of the problems; other work is needed to modernize fire safety, renew wiring, plumbing and data systems, improve security and accessibility and carry out essential conservation work on the structure. See: Palace of Westminster restoration could take over half a century and cost £22bn.
 

Railway Repair Shop in Foggia

Feb 28, 2022

The article cited below, which was uploaded on February 22, 2022, detailed news of a legal victory achieved by an Italian family over the mesothelioma death of a worker who had been exposed to asbestos whilst employed at the Railway Workshop in Foggia. Commenting on the outcome of the case. the lawyer representing the family said: “Despite the resistance of the railways… it has been shown that the killer fiber was used in carriages and locomotives, and that those who worked there, unfortunately suffered high exposure.” The Rome Court ordered the state-owned railway holding company to compensate the deceased’s widow and two adult children. See: Foggia, operaio muore per esposizione all’amianto: condanna per Ferrovie dello Stato [Foggia, worker dies from exposure to asbestos: conviction for State Railways].
 

Ten Year Wait for Justice

Feb 28, 2022

A decade after the death of a Spanish welder, a Madrid Court ordered four of his employers to compensate his widow and two children. The defendants had been found guilty of exposing the deceased to asbestos between 1975 and 1981 when he was employed to build the Almaraz nuclear power plant. The Judge awarded the widow €208,270 (US$233,000) and each of the children €95,883 (US$107,140). See: Indemnizan a herederos de soldador expuesto a amianto en Central de Almaraz [Compensation for heirs of welder exposed to asbestos at the Almaraz Nuclear Power Plant].
 

Asbestos Alert over Toxic Schools

Feb 28, 2022

Last week, a warning was broadcast by the Asbestos-Free Schools Movement (MESA) – an association of activists working with environmental groups in Portugal – about the hazard posed by the continued presence of asbestos contamination in some schools. “The school community is concerned about this situation,” said André Julião, MESA’s founder and coordinator. Environmental campaigner Íria Roriz Madeira described feedback from analysts present during remediation work which suggested that the unexpected discovery of additional sources of asbestos on school premises was only addressed when funds were available to pay for the extra work required. See: Existem materiais com amianto nas escolas públicas que não foram mapeados [There are materials with asbestos in public schools that have not been mapped].
 

Major Legal Victory for Libby Worker

Feb 28, 2022

A feature length article in the New York Times detailed news of a landmark verdict in the fight for asbestos justice by people in Libby, Montana who had been injured by asbestos exposures resulting from vermiculite mining operations of W.R. Grace. While W.R. Grace avoided most of its liabilities using via bankruptcy laws, Maryland Casualty Company, a workers’ compensation insurer which had “engaged in affirmative actions to conceal the asbestos exposure risk and worker injuries,” has been found guilty and ordered to pay damages of $36.5 million to asbestosis sufferer Ralph Hutt, who had worked for W.R. Grace for 18 months in 1968 and 1969. See: Ex-Worker Wins $36.5 Million From Company That Hid Asbestos Damage.
 

EU Asbestos Initiative: Call for Evidence

Feb 24, 2022

On February 22, 2022, the European Union announced that a public consultation would be held on revisions to Directive 2009/148/EC on the protection of workers from the risks related to exposure to asbestos at work. Evidence pertinent to this topic can be submitted to the Commission until March 22, 2022: “Anyone who is interested or might be affected by an existing or proposed law or policy can share their views, sending comments or position papers or reply to public consultations. This includes: public national, local and regional authorities, businesses, civil society organisations, and individual citizens”. See: Health & safety at work – protecting workers from asbestos exposure.
 

Long Wait for French Justice

Feb 24, 2022

On January 28, 2022, the Paris Court of Appeal dismissed four out of seven cases brought by the families of former miners from Lorraine who claimed that their loved ones had contracted asbestos-related diseases due to hazardous exposures during employment by the company Houillères de Bassin de Lorraine (Coal mines of the Lorraine Basin/HBL). Of the three cases still proceeding, two of the miners have already succumbed to their injuries and the 3rd is gravely ill. This litigation was first filed in 2005. See: Amiante: après 17 ans de procédure, les familles de 3 anciens mineurs mosellans attendent toujours justice [Asbestos: after 17 years of proceedings, the families of 3 former Moselle miners are still awaiting justice].
 

Illegal Asbestos Dumping

Feb 24, 2022

On February 21, 2022, a spokesperson for the environmental campaigning group Quercus disclosed that an official complaint had been submitted to the authorities exposing the dumping of asbestos waste in a Portuguese forest of pine trees. According to Raul Silva, director of Quercus Aveiro and deputy director of Quercus Portugal: “The area is owned by the City Council and borders the Industrial Zone of Ovar, but the information we have is that this landfill has been in existence for a long time and [that activity] has increased in recent months, with several places in the pine forest serving as a deposit for waste from public works.” See: Quercus denuncia lixeiras com amianto e outros materiais no pinhal de Ovar [Quercus denounces dumps containing asbestos and other materials in the Ovar pine forest].
 

Asbestos Fund Update: Accounts for 2020

Feb 24, 2022

In 2020, the Belgium Asbestos Fund paid out compensation of €19,000,000 (US$21.5m) to asbestos victims and their dependents according to a press release issued on February 22, 2022 by Belgium’s Federal Agency for Occupational Risks. According to the scheme, mesothelioma claimants are entitled to a monthly pension of €1,865 ($US2,110) and a lump sum of €10,200 ($11,540). In 2020, €10.7 million were paid to victims who also received lump sums of €1.8m; €6.2m were paid to surviving family members with €56,460 paid for funeral costs and €34,180 paid for medical care. See: Le Fonds amiante a octroyé près de 19 millions d’euros aux victimes et ayants droit en 2020 [The Asbestos Fund granted nearly 19 million euros to victims and beneficiaries in 2020].
 

Delay in Mesothelioma Data

Feb 22, 2022

On February 14, 2022, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) announced that the release of statistics detailing mortality in Great Britain from mesothelioma, the signature cancer associated with asbestos exposure, and asbestosis during the years 1968 to 2020 had been delayed. The publication of the HSE report with this information has been rescheduled for July 2022. See: Mesothelioma and asbestosis mortality in Great Britain: 1968 to 2020.
 

Insurer Liable as Part of Asbestos Conspiracy

Feb 22, 2022

Asbestosis sufferer Ralph Hutt won a historic victory last week when a Montana jury handed down a judgment awarding him the sum of $36.5 million in an action against the insurance company Maryland Casualty Company which had not only sold policies to W.R. Grace Co., the owners of the vermiculite mill in Libby, Montana, but had also colluded with the company to hide from employees the truth about the toxic nature of their employment. Whereas W.R. Grace Co. managed to avoid its liability to asbestos-injured workers by a convenient bankruptcy, the jury found that the insurer had had a duty as the administrator of Grace’s safety planning to warn workers of the hazards. See: Libby asbestos worker wins historic $36.5M award from Cascade County jury.
 

Asbestos Memorial Day: Update

Feb 22, 2022

On February 17, 2022 Federico Riboldi, the Mayor of the town at the epicenter of Italy’s asbestos epidemic, attended a hearing at the Bureau of the Constitutional Affairs Commission of the Senate of the Italian Republic to consider a motion calling for an annual Memorial Day for Asbestos Victims to be established. Welcoming the proposal, Mayor Riboldi said: “The approval of the bill will be a fitting recognition for the many families who have suffered, and continue to suffer, from the killer fiber.” Trade union campaigners and spokespersons for asbestos victims also supported the proposal. See: Un disegno di legge per istituire la Giornata in memoria delle vittime amianto: oggi l’audizione [A bill to establish the Day in memory of asbestos victims: today the hearing].
 

Quantifying India’s Asbestos Problem

Feb 22, 2022

According to Dr. Gopal Krishna, “no building or vehicle in India is free of carcinogenic asbestos mineral fibers.” Despite the fact that 70 countries have banned the use of asbestos around the world, India continues to import chrysotile (white) asbestos fiber from Russia, Brazil, and Kazakhstan to be used in the manufacture of household goods, automotive parts and building products. Data sourced from the Indian Minerals Year Book which was published in November 2021 indicated that 361,164 tonnes of asbestos fiber was imported in 2020 as well as 25,009 tonnes of asbestos-cement products. See: No building or vehicle in India 'is free of' carcinogenic asbestos mineral fibres.
 

Improving Maritime Asbestos Protections

Feb 22, 2022

On February 18, 2022, the UK’s Maritime and Coastguard Agency published new guidance – MGN 669 (M+F) – updating health and safety at work asbestos regulations, pertaining to merchant shipping and fishing vessels, which detailed new procedures and rules to protect sailors and others from asbestos exposures. The regulations apply to: ships, yachts and fishing vessels owners, merchant ships, hovercrafts, and small commercially operated vessels. Duty holders include owners, officers, skippers, and professional and amateur crews. See: MGN 669 (M+F) Health and safety asbestos regulations.
 

Asbestos in Cádiz High School

Feb 22, 2022

On February 17, 2022, students, parents, school staff, the CCOO and CGT trade unions, and political groups demonstrated in the town of Olvera in the Spanish Province of Cádiz, Andalusia, over the failure by the authorities to remove asbestos from the roof of the gym at IES Zaframagón High School. This issue has been highlighted on multiple occasions over the last two weeks by an energized educational community which has continued to expose a situation imperilling the lives of school users, employees and local people. See: Manifestación por la retirada del amianto del instituto de Olvera [Demonstration for the removal of asbestos from an institute in Olvera].
 

Asbestos Exposures at Westminster

Feb 21, 2022

“A huge failure of safety systems” resulted in dozens of people being exposed to asbestos during renovation work at Parliament last Autumn (2021). The exposures occurred during an incident at Speaker’s House, the residence of Commons Speaker Lindsay Hoyle. The individuals affected, who were engaged in fire safety work, were being notified by the authorities at the House of Commons. Whilst an investigation was carried out, construction work was suspended. According to a 2016 report, the Palace of Westminster was “riddled with asbestos.” See: Dozens warned of asbestos exposure after incident in UK parliament.
 

New: Mesothelioma Data

Feb 21, 2022

The Seventh Report of the Italian Register on Mesotheliomas, published earlier this month by the National Institute for Occupational Accident Insurance, reported: “results of the epidemiological surveillance of incident cases of malignant mesothelioma detected by a network of Regional Operational Centers.” Of interest was data regarding occupations and tasks most likely to involve asbestos exposures. Whilst cases in the asbestos-cement, shipbuilding and railway rolling stock sectors fell, the incidence of mesothelioma amongst construction workers rose from 12.1% in 1993-98 to 17.1% in 2013-18. See: RENAM INAIL: Pubblicato il VII rapporto del registro nazionale sui mesoteliomi [RENAM INAIL: The VII report of the national register on mesotheliomas has been published].
 

Senator Durbin Goes on the Attack!

Feb 21, 2022

In remarks to the Senate on February 15, 2022, Senator Dick Durbin castigated the US pharmaceutical giant Johnson and Johnson for lying to consumers about asbestos contamination of its iconic baby powder and for engaging in contentious financial manoeuvres which would deprive thousands of cancer victims of their day in court. Durbin did not pull his punches saying: “There’s a justice system for rich people and powerful corporations – and there’s the system for everyone else… And many days, it seems that the gulf between those two systems of justice is getting wider and deeper.” See: “They Knew There Was Asbestos In Johnson & Johnson Baby Powder:” Durbin Shreds J&J In Senate Speech.
 

Strike at 22 Ship Recycling Yards

Feb 21, 2022

A strike which started last week brought most of the work at the Aliağa ship recycling yards in Turkey’s İzmir Province to a standstill. The strikers were calling for improved conditions, including the supply of personal protective equipment and more investment in workplace health and safety, and higher pay for the dangerous work they do. Protesters congregated in front of the offices of the Ship Recycler's Association to issue their demands. Aliağa’s cancer rates are much higher than the Turkish average due, campaigners say, to occupational and environmental exposures to carcinogens contained on the ships being scrapped. See: Ship recycling workers’ protest shakes Aliağa.
 

ILO Update: Occupational Diseases

Feb 21, 2022

A 629-page book by the International Labor Organization published this year (2022) entitled “Diagnostic and exposure criteria for occupational diseases. Guidance notes for diagnosis and prevention of the diseases in the ILO List of Occupational Diseases (revised 2010)” deals with a cross-section of diseases. Texts pertinent to people involved with asbestos-related diseases can be found in section 2.1.1 Pneumoconiosis (pages 426-35) and section 3.1.1. Occupational cancer caused by asbestos (pages 526-30). See: Diagnostic and exposure criteria for occupational diseases (ILO).
 

Asbestos Hazard in Construction

Feb 21, 2022

Research published in Volume 19, Issue 2 of The International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health in January 2022 examined historical asbestos exposure measurements, time trends and effects of preventive measures in Danish workplaces between 1971 to 1997. Based on the 9,236 asbestos measurements in the final database, the scientists concluded that: there was a considerable range of asbestos concentrations in different occupations with the highest concentrations registered during the handling of asbestos products in the construction services. See: Historical Asbestos Measurements in Denmark—A National Database.
 

Johnson and Johnson: New Jersey Update

Feb 16, 2022

On February 14, 2022 representatives of LTL Management, the contentious bankrupt subsidiary set up by Johnson and Johnson in which it dumped cancer claims related to the use of its asbestos contaminated talc-based baby powder, appeared in a New Jersey court to defend the bankruptcy, saying it was the best way to reach an “equitable, efficient, and consensual resolution” of 38,000+ claims. Disagreeing with this opinion, plaintiffs’ lawyer Jeffrey Jones told U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Michael Kaplan: “At its core, this case is rotten.” Judge Kaplan has scheduled a five-day trial. See:Johnson & Johnson defends talc bankruptcy strategy called ‘rotten’ by cancer plaintiffs.
 

Lowering Lung Cancer Rates

Feb 16, 2022

Actions put in place as a result of research started in the 1970s by Prof. Dr. Selahattin Yazıcıoğlu has resulted in lowering the rates of lung cancer amongst populations living in the Turkish districts of Çermik, Çüngüş, Ergani and elsewhere The Professor discovered that a local custom for decorating houses with a “limestone-like soil called white plaster” was implicated in the elevated incidence of cancer as it contained asbestos fibers. Eliminating the use of this material and facilitating the construction of concrete buildings have proved to be beneficial. See: Diyarbakır’da akciğer kanser vakaları azaldı [Lung cancer cases decreased in Diyarbakir].
 

Asbestos Victims’ Struggle

Feb 16, 2022

A survey of conditions endured by sufferers of asbestos-related diseases in Japan, carried out in 2019 and 2020 by the NGO Mesothelioma Support Caravan, revealed that many respondents were in financial distress: in 2019, 47% of people reported that their income had decreased by 2 million yen (US$17,300+) or more after their diagnosis even though they were in receipt of government benefits. Most of those affected are in their 50s and are paying for their children’s education. According to NGO Chairman Takao Umeda: “Patients and their families are in trouble. I want the Government to review the system as soon as possible so that it does not continue.” See: アスベストでの中皮腫患者 40%余が困窮 “国の支援策充実を” [More than 40% of patients with mesothelioma are in need].
 

British Columbia’s Action on Asbestos

Feb 16, 2022

Earlier this week it was announced that the Workers' Compensation Board of British Columbia, commonly known as WorkSafeBC, had issued fines of almost $56,000 to three firms for asbestos-related occupational health and safety violations. The companies which had been found guilty of asbestos infringements were: Onni Contracting Ltd., Coastal Wall Systems Ltd. and Kisito Ndenecho/Cloverman Environmental Contracting. According to WorkSafeBC, exposure to asbestos is the number one killer of workers in the Province. See: British Columbia firms charged over asbestos-related violations.
 

Italian Betrayal of Asbestos Victims

Feb 16, 2022

Raffaele Guariniello, a retired public prosecutor, has slammed the Italian justice system, saying that it has systematically failed asbestos victims by acquitting executives and managers who had been responsible for toxic exposures which had resulted in employees, relatives and members of the public contracting deadly cancers and diseases. Guariniello has challenged the Italian Parliament to take measures to hold to account those individuals and entities responsible for the country’s epidemic of asbestos-related diseases. See: Amianto, l’allarme impunità di Guariniello: “Ci sono i morti, ma nessuno è colpevole. Io provai a cambiare le cose, tocca al Parlamento” [Asbestos, Guariniello's alarm over impunity: “There are dead, but no one is guilty. I tried to change things, it's up to Parliament”].
 

Union Raises Asbestos Alarm

Feb 16, 2022

The Spanish trade union UGT has condemned the failure by the authorities to implement a register of asbestos-exposed workers despite the high incidence of occupational asbestos disease in the Cantabrian region in the North of Spain. According to the union, 113 workers, possibly many more, at 13 companies are being exposed to asbestos as a matter of routine. Those at high risk include construction workers and people working to remediate or replace material made of asbestos-cement such as pipework or roofing tiles. See: Más de un centenar de cántabros trabajan expuestos al amianto pero sigue sin crearse el registro autonómico [More than a hundred Cantabrians work exposed to asbestos but the regional registry has not yet been created].
 

Supreme Court Asbestos Victory!

Feb 15, 2022

A ruling by Japan’s Supreme Court on February 9, 2022 dismissed appeals of a verdict which had awarded 53 plaintiffs damages for asbestos-related injuries. The claimants, who were construction workers or surviving family members, had been awarded compensation of 125 million yen (US$1.1m) by the Fukuoka High Court against four companies which had manufactured asbestos-containing building products, with the Court ruling that the manufacturers had had a responsibility to warn the workers of the asbestos hazard but had failed to do so. See: メーカー4社の責任確定 建設石綿九州訴訟―最高裁 [Responsibility of 4 manufacturers confirmed by Supreme Court; asbestos proceedings for Kyushu plaintiffs].
 

Schools’ Asbestos Removal Program

Feb 15. 2022

On February 9, 2022, a spokesperson for Gyeonggi Province announced plans by the Provincial Office of Education to remove 500,000 square meters of asbestos from 151 schools and 7,570 classrooms by the end of this year (2022). If work goes according to plan, all schools in the Province will be asbestos-free by 2027. By 2021, half of all schools had been remediated. Asbestos was used as a ceiling material for classrooms in the 1970s and 1990s due to its insulating, thermal insulation, and noise blocking functions. See: 경기도, 올해 151개교 석면 제거…2027년까지 모든 학교 완료 [Gyeonggi-do to remove asbestos from 151 schools this year... All schools completed by 2027].
 

Illegal Sale of Asbestos Aggregate

Feb 15, 2022

The inadvertent sale of asbestos-contaminated concrete aggregate between December 2018 and March 2021 by the Fleurieu Regional Waste Authority in South Australia has left councils in Victor Harbor, Alexandrina, Yankalilla and Kangaroo Island liable for a multi-million-dollar remediation bill. The toxic material was used for building and road construction. Whilst issues at the majority of sites affected have been addressed, a small proportion have not yet been remediated. The Environmental Protection Agency has issued two Environment Protection Orders to Alexandrina Council which require the council to undertake a series of measures to make restitution. See: Asbestos-Affected Properties on EPA Register.
 

Progressing Occupational Safety

Feb 15, 2022

At a meeting in Turkey last week Mehmet Şeyhmus Ensari, President of the Turkish Federation of Occupational Health and Safety Associations and the Asbestos Removal Experts Association updated Mr. Erinç Sağkan, President of the Union of Turkish Bar Associations, about current occupational health and safety developments with a focus on asbestos. President Sagkan committed his association to supporting efforts being taken to safeguard citizens from toxic exposures to asbestos in Turkey. See: Türkiye Barolar Birliği'nden İSG'ye destek sözü [Promise of support to OHS from the Union of Turkish Bar Associations].
 

Toledo’s Toxic Legacy

Feb 15, 2022

A citizens’ group in Toledo – Izquierda Unida, Podemos – has again raised concerns about the hazard posed by asbestos waste dumped in the municipality. The toxic deposits are a souvenir of years of asbestos product manufacturing by local companies. The campaigners have asked the City Council to develop “a comprehensive exhaustive protocol to monitor and control these uncontrolled dumps and to remove them as soon as possible.” Environmental asbestos pollution in Toledo is a long-standing problem; local people have organized multiple protests demanding action be taken by the authorities. See: Piden un mayor control para evitar vertederos incontrolados de amianto en Toledo [Calls for greater control to avoid uncontrolled asbestos dumps in Toledo].
 

Asbestos Roofing: Too Toxic for Use

Feb 15, 2022

A feature article in last week’s issue of Vents magazine, a publication established by California college students with a focus on news about Asian-American politics and popular culture, examined the subject of asbestos-cement (AC) roofing which is widespread throughout Asian countries. Having discussed the properties of asbestos and its uses, the author Shahbaz Ahmed considered evidence about the risks it posed to occupants of buildings with AC roofs before concluding: “Asbestos roofs … are quite harmful. Its risks and negative effects certainly outweigh its positives.” See: How harmful are asbestos roofs?
 

Liver Cancer and Asbestos

Feb 9, 2022

On January 26, 2022, the Rouen Court of Appeal ruled that the 2019 death of the foreman electrician Hervé Abasse had been caused by occupational exposure to asbestos. This is the first time such a finding had been handed down in France and was partially based on legal precedents from Nordic countries. The Asbestos Victims Compensation Fund was ordered to pay compensation to the family of the deceased after having argued that his death had been caused by smoking and not asbestos. See: L'amiante est bien responsable de sa mort : une victoire judiciaire pour la famille d'Hervé [Asbestos was indeed responsible for his death: a legal victory for Hervé's family].
 

Ethical Investors Target Johnson and Johnson

Feb 9, 2022

An article in The Guardian newspaper on February 6, 2022, reported that a group of ethical investors had submitted an official request to Johnson and Johnson (J&J) and to the Securities and Exchange Committee for a resolution to be debated at the company’s April 2022 Annual General Meeting which called on J&J to withdraw the sale of talc-based baby powder worldwide not just in the US and Canada. The group backing this resolution is the London-based investment platform Tulipshare. To avoid liability to 40,000+ cancer victims, J&J off-loaded their claims into a separate company which was immediately put into bankruptcy. See: Johnson & Johnson faces push to force global ban on talc baby powder sales.
 

Mesothelioma Treatment Breakthrough

Feb 9, 2022

On February 7, 2022 mesothelioma patients in Scotland were told that they will now be able to access new immunotherapy treatments (see: New Drug Treatment Approved For Asbestos-Related Cancer Patients In Scotland) as a result of a decision by the Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC). Approval was given by the SMC for the use of Nivolumab – a treatment that stimulates the immune system to fight the cancer – and is administered in combination with ipilimumab. See: February 2022 decisions news release.
 

Release of New Asbestos Data

Feb 9, 2022

On February 7, 2022, Italy’s National Institute for Occupational Accident Insurance released two documents supplementing information on the country’s asbestos risk. The first report was a data analysis of compensation paid between 2016 and 2020 by the National Victims’ Fund for asbestos-related diseases. The second document was entitled Recognition and characterization of materials containing asbestos through hyperspectral image analysis which explained the use of one type of spectral imaging to more accurately identify the presence of asbestos in material samples. This technique can be used by a trained operative and does not require an expert analyst thereby reducing operating costs. See: Inail: i dati e le novità sul rischio amianto e le malattie correlate [Inail: data and news on asbestos risk and related diseases].
 

Mesothelioma Flash Mob!

Feb 9, 2022

Members of an Italian asbestos victims’ association – the Mesothelioma Aid Group – demonstrated in the center of Lecco, Lombardy last week to raise the alarm over the presence of asbestos throughout the national infrastructure. They gathered in the Piazza Giuseppe Garibaldi, outside a building which will become the new town hall, a building contaminated with asbestos. The initiative was a collaboration with students and environmental activists who circulated an “Open Sky” petition calling for measures to improve air quality in the region. One of the demands is for a simplification of bureaucratic procedures for the remediation of asbestos. See: Mobilitazione in piazza contro l’amianto killer [Mobilization in the streets against killer asbestos].
 

Asbestos Waste: A National Crisis

Feb 9, 2022

Three articles published on February 4, 2022 highlighted the nationwide scale of the problems caused by the illegal dumping of asbestos in the UK. The article cited below reported an incident in Northern Ireland which resulted in a successful prosecution of Portadown Recycling and Skip Hire Limited. The other two articles related to actions taken in Scotland over illegal asbestos dumping in Glasgow and 12 cases of asbestos fly tipping in Sheffield.
 
See: Company fined for unnecessary spread of asbestos material.
 

Exposé: Johnson & Johnson!

Feb 7, 2022

The feature length article cited below exposed the long-standing plan – code name: Project Plato – implemented in 2021 by the US pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson (J&J) to circumvent 38,000+ personal injury cancer claims arising from the presence of asbestos fibers in its iconic talc-based baby powder. Even as J&J reassured courts, claimants and the stock exchange that it would defend these claims vigorously, it was proceeding with secret discussions over how best to avoid liability to dying customers. One observer said that J&J’s actions “marked a benchmark low for killer capitalism.” See: Inside Johnson & Johnson’s secret plan to cap litigation payouts to cancer victims.
 

São Paulo Action on Asbestos

Feb 7, 2022

On February 4, 2022, the Policy Commission of the City Council of São Paulo approved draft legislation [PL 609/2020] authored by former councilman Ricardo Teixeira which implemented mandatory requirements for the collection of asbestos tile in São Paulo City. Commenting on this development Councilman Rodrigo Goulart recalled the historic role São Paulo had played in taking action on the asbestos hazard, saying: “The project initiated by former councilman Ricardo Teixeira reinforces the prohibition of asbestos in civil construction (in our City).” See: Projeto de Lei Paulista PL609/2020; a recolha de telhas de amianto e outras provisos [São Paulo Draft Law PL609/2020; the collection of asbestos roofing tiles and other provisions].
 

Urgent Call for Improved Asbestos Protections

Feb 7, 2022

In the run-up to World Cancer Day (February 4), the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) called for stricter asbestos safeguards, stronger asbestos management measures and improved awareness – especially amongst smaller businesses – of regulations in order to safeguard workers from the asbestos hazard. IOSH spokesperson Ruth Wilkinson said: “We know that asbestos is still all around us. This, coupled with a worrying lack of awareness about the danger it poses and how to prevent exposure, means people are being put at risk every day. This is simply not good enough.” See: “It’s time to get tough on asbestos,” says IOSH.
 

Condolences over Death of Korean Activist

Feb 7, 2022

Members of the Japan Association of Asbestos Victims and Their Families, Ban Asbestos Japan and other groups in Japan last week published their condolences over the sad news about Korean ban asbestos activist Jeong Ji-yeol who died from asbestos cancer on January 28. Jeong had played a pivotal role not only in the campaign for the rights of Korean asbestos victims but also in campaigns to raise awareness of the asbestos hazard and its impact on workers and members of the public during trips to Japan, Hong Kong, Cambodia, Indonesia, Thailand, Bangladesh, Vietnam, and Nepal. See: 석면추방 앞장 정지열 대표 타계에 일본인들도 애도 [Japanese people mourn the death of Jeong Ji-yeol, a ban-asbestos leading figure].
 

Alert: Asbestos on Sicily!

Feb 7, 2022

Lack of action by successive governments over widespread asbestos contamination in Sicily, which has caused 1,600 deaths since the late 1990s, was condemned last week by environmental activists. There was, they said, no asbestos mapping carried out in Sicily despite the existence of a regional law (2014) mandating this duty. Calling for the implementation of an asbestos information campaign, campaigners said that public administrators, municipal officers and civil servants had received no training for dealing with asbestos. See: Amianto, dopo il piano regionale in Sicilia è cambiato poco. Legambiente: «Poca informazione non favorisce bonifiche» [Asbestos, little has changed since the regional plan in Sicily. Legambiente: “Lack of information does not promote reclamation”].
 

Remediation of Asbestos in Buildings

Feb 7, 2022

The South Korean City of Jeongeup is progressing efforts to remove and replace deteriorating asbestos-cement roofing to protect the population from exposures to a known cancer-causing fiber. “Aging roofing made with asbestos,” said a city official “contains a class 1 carcinogen, which can be fatal to health over a long period of exposure.” Since 2012, the City has spent a total of ₩ 4.83bn (US$403m) to remediate asbestos and demolish 227 buildings. A budget of ₩ 1.39bn (US$1.1m) has been allocated for the 2022 asbestos removal program. See: 정읍시, 발암물질 ‘석면 차단’ 안전하고 쾌적한 주거환경 개선 [Jeongeup City improves safe and comfortable living environment by blocking carcinogen ‘asbestos’].
 

An Asbestos Working Life

Feb 4, 2022

The interview cited below was with Balzhan Bisenkulova who works in the packaging department of Kostanai Minerals JSC, Kazakshtan’s only producer of chrysotile (white) asbestos. Born in Russia, Mrs. Bisenkulova had worked at Orenburg Minerals, a Russian asbestos mining conglomerate, before her marriage. She has worked for Kostanai Minerals for 18 years – sewing bags for 13 years and operating machines which pack chrysotile asbestos fiber into 50 kilo bags for five years. Running two machines at the same time, she can produce 60 bags an hour. See: 50 мешков в час [50 bags per hour].
 

Mobilizing Support for Asbestos Industry

Feb 4, 2022

A resolution issued by a meeting last month (January 2022) of the council of trade unions of the city of Asbest, Sverdlovsk region, Russia and the coordinating council of the Women for Safe Work and Social Stability condemned “fake anti-asbestos campaigns” and unscientific propaganda circulated by anti-asbestos activists in league with producers of non-asbestos products. The text of the resolution noted: “For 40 years, scientists have not been able to prove its (white asbestos) harm to human health; numerous studies have appeared confirming the safety of the mineral with controlled use.” See: Женщины за хризотил: Урал готовится к бою [Women for chrysotile: Ural is preparing for battle].
 

Public Outrage over Toxic Water

Feb 4, 2022

Following a TV broadcast exposing the health hazard posed by Belgian water delivery systems which used asbestos-cement pipes, there has understandably been an upsurge of public concern over the safety of drinking tap water. Mayors in the worst affected areas in Wallonia have demanded explanations from the water utility company: SWDE. “We were never made aware of the situation,” said Jacques Chabot, Mayor of Waremme. He said that SWDE had sent an email warning about the broadcast of the documentary. See [Subscription site]: Conduites d'eau en amiante-ciment : « On veut des explications » [Asbestos-cement water pipes: “We want explanations”].
 

Confronting a Deadly Legacy

Feb 4, 2022

Exposure to asbestos incorporated within the Spanish infrastructure is causing between 5,000 and 6,000 deaths per year. The fact that asbestos was banned in 2002 has not eliminated the threat posed by the toxic [asbestos-containing] material, much of which is deteriorating with age. A shortage of trained asbestos removal operatives means that the complete eradication of asbestos will not be achieved in the foreseeable future. In addition, “the non-existence of direct subsidies for removing asbestos” is another disincentive for homeowners to employ asbestos removal specialists. See: Fibrocemento con amianto: qué hay que saber para retirarlo [Fiber cement containing asbestos: what you need to know to remove it].
 

Family of Electrician Compensated

Feb 4, 2022

Earlier this week, a court in Arezzo, Italy recognized the mesothelioma death in 2017 of a former employee of the railway production company of Società Anonima Costruzioni Ferroviarie e Meccaniche (Anonymous Railway and Mechanical Construction Company [SACFEM]) as having been caused by occupational exposures to asbestos. From 1960-1978, the deceased had worked as an electrician building railway carriages. Labor Judge Giorgio Rispoli awarded the family the sum of €64,000 (US$73,100) compensation and €12,000 (US$13,710) for litigation costs. See: Arezzo, muore di amianto: sentenza del giudice per ex lavoratore Sacfem. Risarcimento ridotto [Arezzo, death from asbestos disease: judge's verdict for former Sacfem worker. Reduced compensation].
 

Temporary Government U-Turn

Feb 4, 2022

On February 1, 2022, the French Government postponed the implementation of new regulations – “pre-work identification” via use of the RAT device – which although providing improved safeguards for workers’ health would also increase costs at the Brest shipyards. The critics of the new scheme said that workplace asbestos protections should be harmonized throughout Europe in order to avoid unfair competition from Dutch, Spanish or Polish competitors. See: Amiante: le gouvernement accorde un répit aux chantiers navals, Brest soulagé [Asbestos: the government grants respite to shipyards, Brest relieved].
 

Another Shipyard Victim

Feb 2, 2022

News was uploaded to the web on January 31 that union leader, Ferol City Councillor and victims’ campaigner Rafael Pillado had contracted mesothelioma from exposures to asbestos at the Bazán de Ferrol shipyards. Explaining the reasons for broadcasting this private news, Pillado said: “I don't want my disease and that of so many others who were affected to be hidden.” He intends to bring a lawsuit so that he can hold to account those parties responsible for failing to take action to prevent his exposures to a known carcinogen. See: Rafael Pillado, histórico sindicalista ferrolano, anuncia que padece un cáncer provocado por el amianto [Rafael Pillado, leading unionist from Ferrol, announces that he is suffering from cancer caused by asbestos].
 

Asbestos Convictions in Campania

Feb 2, 2022

On January 28, 2022, the first sentences were handed down to managers of the Isochimica company in Avellino, Southern Italy and officials from the State Railways for failing to protect operatives who had carried out asbestos removal work from 1982 to 1988 on carriages belonging to the Italian State Railways; as a result of this negligence, scores of workers contracted deadly cancers and respiratory diseases. Four defendants – Isochimica’s safety manager Vincenzo Izzo and his deputy Pasquale De Luca, and Aldo Serio and Giovanni Notarangelo, from the railway company – were sentenced to 10 years. See: Amianto all’ex Isochimica di Avellino, dopo 40 anni arrivano 4 condanne a 10 anni e 22 assoluzioni [Asbestos at the former Avellino Isochimica [company], after 40 years there are 4 10-year sentences and 22 acquittals].
 

Failure to Safeguard Barcelona’s Children

Feb 2, 2022

Dr Josep Tarrés, a leading Spanish medical expert, has warned that school children in Barcelona were routinely experiencing toxic exposures to a known carcinogen due to the failure of the political authorities to remove asbestos from the municipality’s built environment. Children who attend schools in buildings surrounded by asbestos roofing “could develop cancer in 35, 40 or 50 years. In fact, some will develop cancer due to asbestos that would have been totally preventable if it were removed.” According to Dr Tarrés: “If we continue at the current rate, it will take 250 years to eliminate asbestos in Catalonia.” See: Josep Tarrés, neumólogo: “Niños de colegios cercanos al amianto desarrollarán un cancer” [Josep Tarrés, pulmonologist: “Children from schools close to asbestos will develop cancer”].
 

Confronting One Country’s Deadly Legacy

Feb 2, 2022

An opinion piece in the February 2022 issue of the US magazine Lawyer Monthly, reviewed the country’s deplorable asbestos history and pointed out that “between 1990 and 2019, more than 1 million people in the United States were harmed or died due to asbestos-related illnesses.” Despite this deplorable statistic, asbestos use remains legal throughout the country and asbestos-containing building products, friction material and gaskets remain on sale. Efforts to ban asbestos by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Congress have, to date, failed. See: Could the United States Legally Ban Asbestos Forever?
 

Asbestos-Cement Pipes Safe, say SWDE!

Feb 2, 2022

Following the broadcast of a recent TV documentary on the prevalence of asbestos-containing water pipes in Belgium, SWDE (a public utility responsible for water delivery in parts of Southern Belgium) defended its replacement policy. A company spokesperson said: “Each year, we replace the drinking water distribution pipes of the SWDE at a cost of 100 million euros. 10 years ago, 15% of our entire network was made up of asbestos and cement pipes. Today, we are at 11%, because we are replacing these used pipes with other materials.” See: Amiante dans les conduites d’eau: la SWDE rassure quant à la dangerosité de la situation… [Asbestos in water pipes: the SWDE reassures as to the dangerousness of the situation…].
 

Parliamentary Asbestos Inquiry

Feb 2, 2022

An analysis of evidence given to a Parliamentary asbestos hearing on December 15, 2021 which appeared on the website of a UK news and feature website questioned the accuracy of information conveyed by Epidemiologist Professor Julain Peto who had told MPs that “there is no current evidence that teachers are more heavily exposed than anybody else.” Other aspects of his testimony that were examined in this commentary were his assertions that asbestos removal work raised the level of airborne asbestos fibers and that air measurements were not useful for “understanding the cumulative risks of exposure for occupants of buildings.” See: Supplementary comments from the ‘Airtight on Asbestos’ Campaign.
 

BBC Asbestos Claims

Jan 31, 2022

A feature article in the Observer on Sunday January 30, 2022 documented an explosion of asbestos cancer claims recognized by the BBC, noting that to date the corporation had paid out £1.64m (US$2.2m) to 11 former employees who had died from the signature asbestos cancer mesothelioma. Amongst the claimants were make-up artists, engineers, riggers, set builders, studio managers and producers who had worked at 18 BBC locations including: Pebble Mill Studios in Birmingham, Dickenson Road Studios, Manchester, BBC Scotland’s headquarters, Glasgow and Broadcasting House, Television Center, Alexandra Palace and Bush House in London. See: Families win BBC payouts over 11 asbestos cancer deaths.
 

Propagandists Misreport WHO Guidance

Jan 31, 2022

Russian industry lobbyists continue to spread disinformation about the asbestos policies of international agencies. The article cited below reported as a victory new guidelines issued by the World Health Organization (WHO) in December 2021 which, they said did not: “include strict restrictions on the use of asbestos-containing building materials in plumbing systems around the world.” In fact, the 32 page WHO document categorically supported banning asbestos-cement pipes: “No new sources of asbestos fibres in drinking-water should be introduced.” See: Позиция ВОЗ: новые подробности об асбестовых трубах [WHO position: new details about asbestos pipes].
 

Asbestos Alert in Belgium

Jan 31, 2022

A high-profile TV documentary broadcast in Belgium on January 26, 2022 highlighted the presence of deteriorating asbestos-cement pipes throughout the country. Pipe networks are delivering water of doubtful quality in several districts, with some areas affected far worse than others. The highest concentration of toxic pipes was reported in Wallonia where there are 3,000 kilometers of asbestos-cement pipes. In other words, 11% of Wallonia’s water delivery system uses asbestos-cement pipes. See: Amiante dans l’eau potable: découvrez si votre commune possède des conduites en amiante-ciment [Asbestos in drinking water: find out if your municipality has asbestos-cement pipes].
 

Is HSE’s Asbestos Policy Fit for Purpose

Jan 31, 2022

The third and final session of a Parliamentary investigation by the Work and Pensions Committee into whether the Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE) policy for managing the country’s asbestos hazard is fit for purpose will take place on Wednesday, February 2, 2022. Evidence given during previous hearings, including information about asbestos protocols of other European countries, exposed multiple failures by the HSE to take timely and effective action to protect working people from toxic exposures to millions of asbestos-containing products incorporated within the national infrastructure. See: Work and Pensions Committee to question Minister Chloe Smith and HSE officials - Wednesday 2nd February at 9.15am.
 

One Nation’s Asbestos Tragedy

Jan 31, 2022

Failures by successive administrations in India are responsible for the continued use of a toxic material banned in scores of other countries: asbestos. Alhtough asbestos mining was prohibited in India in 2011, asbestos-containing products such as asbestos-cement tiles remain a popular choice for consumers because of their relatively low cost. Vested interests in the asbestos industrial sector have dispensed considerable funds to political candidates and decision makers in order to maintain the status quo despite the dangers to human beings exposed to asbestos material at work or at home. See: New Delhi still imports asbestos, risking 50,000 deaths a year.
 

Indictment of Ministry of Defense

Jan 31, 2022

After ten years of legal filings and hearings, last week the Lazio Regional Administrative Court ordered Italy’s Ministry of Defense to pay compensation for the asbestos death at aged 46 of Marshal Giuseppe Lazzari. The deceased had been exposed to asbestos whilst serving in the Italian Army from 1992 to 2010, as a result of which he developed mesothelioma. The Ministry had previously rejected a claim brought by his widow and children. See: Amianto: Ministero della Difesa Condonnato al Risarcimento per la Morte del Maresciallo Giuseppe Lazzari [Asbestos: Ministry of Defense Ordered to Pay Compensation for the Death of Marshal Giuseppe Lazzari].
 

Concerns over Asbestos-Cement Pipes

Jan 28, 2022

Residents in the Portuguese City of Benavente, in the Santarém District, have expressed concern about the quality of water delivered through the city’s aging asbestos-cement waterpipes. The water utility company Águas do Ribatejo refuted any claims of contamination, saying tests conducted in a certified laboratory showed that the water was safe to drink. Local people are calling for the aging asbestos-cement pipes to be replaced as a matter of public safety. See: Moradores da Barrosa preocupados com canalizações contendo amianto [Barrosa residents concerned about pipes containing asbestos].
 

Transition from Asbestos Mining

Jan 28, 2022

The article cited below discussed a topic familiar to ban asbestos campaigners: how does a former asbestos mining town transition to a safer and more sustainable future. Interviews with workers, politicians and experts about the future of Minaçu – Brazil’s only remaining asbestos mining town – indicated a new willingness to engage in discussions about measures to diversify the region’s economic base to compensate for the loss of mining jobs. Calls for the asbestos mining company Eternit and government to support initiatives to ensure a just transition were reported. See: Beset by legal battles, Brazil asbestos town eyes a safer future.
 

Clash of Ministries on Asbestos Policy

Jan 28, 2022

An attempt by Vietnam’s Ministry of Construction to rename the project currently titled “Roadmap for ending the use of chrysotile asbestos for the production of asbestos roofing by 2023” to “Strengthening the management and use of chrysotile [asbestos] in the production of building materials” has been condemned by the Ministry of Health’s Institute of Occupational and Environmental Health in Official Letter No. 16/SKNN&MT V/v on multiple grounds including the overwhelming need to protect the population from toxic exposures to chrysotile asbestos. See: Kiến nghị giữ nguyên tên Đề án “Lộ trình dừng sử dụng amiang trắng để sản xuất tấm lợp amiang” [Proposal to keep the name of the Project “Road to stop using chrysotile for the production of asbestos roofing sheets”].
 

Improving Occupational Safety Protocols

Jan 28, 2022

A proposal to improve protection for Korea subcontractors dismantling and removing asbestos are under consideration by the National Assembly's Environment and Labor Committee. On January 24, 2022, draft legislation entitled the “Partial Amendment to the Occupational Safety and Health Act,” which aims to restrict those eligible to undertake asbestos remediation work to licensed personnel and companies was submitted by Lim Ja, the representative from Sangju, Mungyeong, Gyeongsangbuk-do. See: 임이자 의원 “석면해체·제거작업 근로자들의 처우 개선” [“Improving the treatment of asbestos dismantling and removal workers”].
 

Grassroots Mobilization in Barcelona

Jan 28, 2022

Retired workers from the Macosa-Alstom company who had been exposed to asbestos whilst producing equipment and vehicles for the Barcelona metro continue to support workmates now suffering from asbestos-related diseases, and to raise awareness of the asbestos hazard throughout the region. According to the group’s spokesperson Miguel Moreno, the asbestos deaths of 33 former work colleagues have been recognized by the Courts and 15 more cases are pending. On January 28, a book about the Macosa factory in Poblenou, where generations of workers were exposed to asbestos, will be launched at a public meeting. See: Los Jubilados de Macosa-Alstom, contra la pasividad de Barcelona para retirar el amianto [Retirees from Macosa-Alstom against Barcelona's passivity over asbestos removal].
 

Asbestos in Welsh Schools

Jan 28, 2022

Guidance for Asbestos Management in Schools in Wales issued in 2014 was updated on January 21, 2022. The new 22-page document, which was issued by the Education Directorate of the Welsh Government, sets out a range of measures that schools must take to ensure “that any asbestos present in your school is managed properly.” Government resources and contacts are provided and warnings are given regarding failures to comply with the guidance which could expose pupils and staff to serious risk as well as attract financial penalties. See: Asbestos Management in Schools. Updated January 2022. Guidance document no: 279/2022.
 

Asbestos Anxiety in Tours

Jan 25, 2022

On January 20, 2022, the Versailles Administrative Court of Appeal reversed a May 2021 judgment of the Orleans Court denying eight plaintiffs leave to pursue a legal action against the French City of Tours which had negligently exposed them to asbestos at their workplaces between 2000 and 2012. As a result of their toxic exposures, the eight litigants are seeking damages of €30,000 (~US$34,000) for asbestos anxiety. The latest ruling will permit this lawsuit to proceed. See: Préjudice d'anxiété lié à l'amiante : une première victoire pour huit salariés de la métropole de Tours [Anxiety damage linked to asbestos: a first victory for eight employees of the metropolis of Tours].
 

Victory for Asbestos Victim

Jan 25, 2022

A lawsuit brought over the death in 2021 of a Japanese worker who had been employed for 30 years at a factory in Kitakyushu City manufacturing asbestos-cement roofing has been settled with the Government of Japan agreeing to accept liability and pay compensation of 11.5 million yen (US$101,000) to the deceased’s family. The claimants alleged that the worker had contracted lung cancer as a result of occupational exposures to asbestos which had resulted from the failure of the Government’s timely action to control the asbestos hazard. See: 北九州アスベスト訴訟 国が1150万円支払う和解成立 [Kitakyushu Asbestos Proceedings Settlement in which the country pays 11.5 million yen].
 

New Asbestos Data from INAIL

Jan 25, 2022

Figures have been released by Italy’s National Institute for Occupational Accident Insurance (INAIL) detailing the scale of the country’s asbestos epidemic during the last few years. The 29-page INAIL file included data regarding asbestos-related diseases recognized by INAIL, annuities for asbestos-related diseases paid by INAIL, the number of professional beneficiaries of the Asbestos Victims Fund and benefits awarded for non-occupational mesotheliomas. According to Table 1, the number of cases of workers with asbestos-related occupational diseases which were recognized by INAIL were: 2016 (1,776), 2017 (1,720), 2018 (1,583), 2019 (1,638) and 2020 (923). See: Pubblicazioni INAIL: Le malattie asbesto-correlate –2021 [INAIL publications: Asbestos-related diseases – 2021].
 

Libby, Montana’s “Public Health Emergency”

Jan 25, 2022

A press release issued last week by the Center for Asbestos Related Disease in Libby, Montana highlighted the publication in the December 2021 issue of the American Journal of Industrial Medicine of a paper about the asbestos “public health emergency” in Libby. Between 2000 and 2010, 203 people in Libby died due to asbestos-related diseases. Sixty-seven per cent of the deceased had been occupationally exposed to asbestos whilst employed at the local vermiculite mine and elsewhere; the remainder had been environmentally exposed to asbestos fibers liberated by the mining process or used around town to build baseball fields, running tracks, etc. See: Center for Asbestos Related Disease (CARD) Article Illuminates High Levels of Asbestos Related Mortality.
 

New Tool for Mesothelioma Grading

Jan 25, 2022

A new method for assessing mesothelioma stages was considered in a paper by UK researchers which was published in The American Journal of Surgical Pathology. The co-authors recommended the use of a Mesothelioma Weighted Grading Scheme which used various criteria to assess the severity and type of the disease. Doctors who used this protocol for 369 patients with pleural mesothelioma found that the median survival varied considerably based on the scores: 17 months for low grades, 10 months for intermediate scores and only 4 months for high scores. See: Malignant pleural mesothelioma patients’ experience by gender: findings from a cross-sectional UK-national questionnaire.
 

Florence Court Delivers Justice for Widow

Jan 25, 2022

After more than a decade of legal filings and judicial reversals, on January 11, 2022 asbestos widow Susanna Vannucci triumphed in the case she brought over the 2012 death of her husband Emilio Corbo when the Florence Court of Appeal overturned an unfavorable verdict by the Court of Pistoia. The Florence court ordered INAIL – Italy’s Institute for Occupational Accident Insurance – to pay Mrs Vannucci €240,000 (US$271,500) in arrears and a monthly income of €1,800 (US$2,036). See: Il marito fu ucciso dall’amianto Vedova risarcita dopo dieci anni [Husband was killed by asbestos. Widow compensated after ten years].
 

Eternit Bis Trial: Update

Jan 24, 2022

The trial of Stephen Schmidheiny, accused of causing over 392 asbestos deaths in Italy, continued on January 17, 2022 with the defendant’s legal team cross-examining medical and scientific experts who had categorically linked the operations of Schmidheiny’s asbestos-cement manufacturing processes to occupational and environmental cancers. Case-by-case challenges made by Schmidheiny’s lawyers to the mesothelioma diagnoses were robustly defended by the Public Prosecutors. Due to the rise in Covid cases in Italy, the trial is being suspended until March 16. See: Eternit Bis, il processo riprende il 16 marzo. Ma l’imputato Stephan Schmidheiny non sarà in aula [Eternit Bis, the trial resumes on March 16. But defendant Stephan Schmidheiny will not be in court].
 

Asbestos Audits in Barcelona

Jan 24, 2022

In order to comply with an EU objective for the eradication of asbestos by 2022, the Urban Planning Commission of Barcelona unanimously approved the implementation of mandatory asbestos audits of public buildings and spaces. In addition, a proposal to produce a timetable for undertaking the required work was ordered. During discussions of the Barcelona City Council, politicians from opposition parties highlighted the municipality’s repeated failures to carry through on plans to tackle the city’s asbestos legacy. See: Barcelona censará el amianto de la ciudad sin comprometerse a su retirada [Barcelona will census the city's asbestos without committing to its removal].
 

Asbestos Removal Program in Schools

Jan 24, 2022

The Department of Education in the Korean City of Ulsan announced on January 19, 2022 that asbestos remediation would take place in Pyeongsan Elementary School and Byeongyeong Elementary School (Annex) during the winter school vacation. After this work was completed, external experts would supervise air monitoring tests to ensure that the school was safe for use. According to an official, asbestos remediation work at eight other schools will be undertaken during the summer and winter vacations this year. See: 울산 학교 환경개선, 평산초·병영초 석면해체·제거 완료 [Ulsan school environment improvement, asbestos dismantling and removal completed at Pyeongsan Elementary School and Byeongyeong Elementary School].
 

Remembering Libby, Montana

Jan 24, 2022

The article cited below detailed international man-made disasters and listed the “Montana Asbestos Clouds” in fourth place after the Aberfan Colliery Slip (Wales), the Seveso Disaster (Italy) and the Chernobyl meltdown (Ukraine). The US disaster was caused by the mining of vermiculite in the town of Libby, Montana during the 20th century as a result of which asbestos contamination spread throughout the town exposing not only miners but also other employees and local people to invisible fibers capable of causing various cancers and diseases. The scale of the disaster, with almost 10% of the townsfolk dying from asbestos-related diseases, led to a massive and protracted clean-up operation by the Environmental Protection Agency. See: 10 of the world’s biggest man-made disasters.
 

Asbestos Hotline

Jan 24, 2022

On January 19 and 20, 2022, a free telephone hotline was set up in Osaka, Japan by legal advisors to inform potential applicants about the process for submitting claims to a government compensation scheme for construction workers who contracted various diseases as a result of occupational exposures to asbestos. The benefits’ scheme is operated by the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare. See: 建設現場のアスベスト被害 電話相談 給付金受け付け開始で [Telephone consultation accompanies rollout of compensation [scheme] for those injured by asbestos at construction sites].
 

Toxic Legacy of 9/11 Attacks

Jan 24, 2022

The Italian language article cited below explored the deadly legacy posed by asbestos contamination of national infrastructures. The subject was timely because of the ongoing criminal case against the Swiss asbestos billionaire Stephen Schmidheiny who is charged with causing hundreds of deaths of Italian workers and local people. The author of this article cited data from the 2001 attack on the World Trade Center during which clouds of toxic dust – including asbestos – spread throughout Manhattan. The first known fatality linked to the attack was that of first responder Nick Ursta. He died from the asbestos cancer mesothelioma in 2019. See: La nube di polvere post Torri Gemelle? «Era amianto» [The dust cloud after the Twin Towers? “It was asbestos”].
 

Asbestos Alert!

Jan 19, 2022

An article on a Vietnamese news portal highlighted the deadly danger posed by the popularity of asbestos-cement roofing material, exposure to which can cause a variety of cancers and diseases. The majority of the asbestos fiber used in the manufacture of 80 million m2 of asbestos-cement roofing products in Vietnam every year comes from Russia. Medical and scientific experts are working in Vietnam to raise awareness of the availability of safer products and encourage consumers, especially lower income customers, to abandon toxic roofing. See: Chất Amiăng trong tấm lợp Fibro xi măng là “kẻ thù” gây hàng loạt ung thư nguy hiểm [Asbestos in Fibro-cement roofing is an “enemy” that causes a series of dangerous cancers].
 

Asbestos Outreach Initiative

Jan 19, 2022

A medical program to screen high-risk workers for asbestos-related conditions, which was developed in conjunction with the Brazilian Association of the Asbestos-Exposed (ABREA), used a mobile Low Dose Computed Tomography unit to examine 223 workers from a former asbestos factory in Pedro Leopoldo City in the Brazilian State of Minas Gerais. “Pleural plaques or nodules were identified in 19% of individuals, with a median exposure time of 13.5 years. Five individuals had moderate or marked signs of pulmonary fibrosis, and one was diagnosed with low-stage pulmonary adenocarcinoma.” See: Abstract PO-260: Screening of Brazilian underserved [overlooked] workers exposed to asbestos in loco with a mobile low dose computed tomography [unit].
 

Victim’s Verdict in Naples

Jan 19, 2022

What has been termed “a historic sentence for workers who have been in contact with the killer fiber (asbestos) in shipbuilding over the years,” was handed down recently by Labor Judge Dionigio Verasani of the Torre Annunziata Court in Naples, Italy who ruled that two of the former employers – Fincantieri S.p.A and Sait S.p.A. – of mesothelioma victim Angelo T. were jointly and severally liable for his death from mesothelioma in 2016. The companies were ordered to pay his family compensation of €1 million (US $1.14m). See: Morì a causa dell’amianto, risarcimento di un milione di euro alla famiglia [One million euros in compensation to the family of man whose death was caused by asbestos].
 

Commencement of Benefits Program

Jan 19, 2022

A government scheme to provide financial support to asbestos-injured construction workers in Japan which will avoid the necessity of them bringing legal action to obtain compensation becomes operational on January 19, 2022 as per stipulations in the Construction Asbestos Benefits Law which was adopted by the Diet on June 9, 2021. The Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare has pledged to “make every possible effort to implement the benefit system based on this law,” including the distribution of information to potential applicants. See: 建設アスベスト給付金法が1月19日に施行されます [Construction Asbestos Benefits Act will come into effect on January 19].
 

Improving Asbestos Protections

Jan 19, 2022

A decree to be published in France this year (2022) will specify the measures needed for compliance with a standard published on November 20, 2021 (NF P94-001); the provisions of the decree will relate to the identification of environmental asbestos, the geological study of soils and rocks in situ, as well as recommended methodologies for finding and dealing with naturally occurring asbestos. A period of grace will allow all professionals and geologists to train and prepare for implementing the new protocols. See: L'amiante naturel désormais traqué jusque dans l'environnement [ Natural asbestos now tracked down to the environment].
 

Critique of Government Fund

Jan 19, 2022

Auckland-based lawyer Philip Schmidt, who has been representing people with occupational disease claims submitted to New Zealand’s Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) for more than 20 years, has gone public with his concern over the rejection by the ACC of claims for medical treatment for asbestos cancer victims without the clinicians treating the patients having been consulted. Schmidt cited cases where ACC funding was denied because medicines were not on the Pharmac-approved list. Even though exceptions are permitted, the ACC did not consult the patients' oncologists or review their notes. The ACC is, it said, in discussions with Mr. Schmidt over his allegations. See: Lawyer urges ACC to review asbestos cancer policy.
 

Alert over Istanbul Regeneration

Jan 17, 2022

The article cited below, which was uploaded on January 11, 2022, raised the alarm over the failure to control the asbestos hazard caused by the demolition of a toxic factory in Istanbul and the uncontrolled disposal of the hazardous waste from the site. Five thousand workers used to be employed at the site of the 26,000 m2 Aksu Yarn Factory; developers have plans to construct luxury housing once the area has been cleared. Asbestos specialists estimate that there is 350 tons of asbestos waste on the site. Government regulations and guidelines for asbestos removal are, they say, not being followed. See: Yıkılan iplik fabrikasından açığa çıkan asbest, kamyonlarla İstanbul’a yayılıyor [Asbestos released from the destroyed yarn factory spreads to Istanbul with trucks].
 

New US Asbestos Testing Protocols?

Jan 17, 2022

On January 13, 2022, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released a white paper on the state-of-the-art of scientific testing for asbestos contamination of talc-containing cosmetics and talc intended for use in cosmetics; the text was a collaborative effort and was produced by the Interagency Working Group on Asbestos in Consumer Products. The paper’s authors made several recommendations including using both Polarized Light Microscopy (PLM) and Transmission Electron Microscopy (TEM) to identify the presence of asbestos. The paper is currently being peer reviewed. See: FDA Releases Federal Interagency Working Group Scientific Opinions on Testing Methods for Asbestos in Talc-Containing Cosmetic Products.
 

Asbestos Alert in British Columbia

Jan 17, 2022

In a press release issued on January 13, 2022 by First Nation campaigners, in collaboration with NGOs, provincial and federal authorities were condemned for allowing toxic shipbreaking to take place in Union Bay, British Columbia (BC). Hazardous practices which were commonplace for employees of Deep Water Recovery Ltd. at the improvised shipbreaking yard exposed workers and local residents to a cocktail of toxins including asbestos and PCBs. The Canadian authorities were urged to “to halt immediately the breaking of ships at Union Bay…” See: NGOs join local residents and First Nations in fight against toxic shipbreaking in British Columbia.
 

Victims’ Legal Victory in Sicily

Jan 17, 2022

Last week, a labor judge in the Termini Imerese Court in Palermo, Italy issued a verdict supporting asbestos appeals by 21 claimants who had worked for various periods between the 1960s and 1995 at a factory operated by the Matesi di Campofelice SpA company, which later became Filatura di Campofelice SpA. The Judge ruled that the INPS (Istituto Nazionale Previdenza Sociale (National Social Security Institute) must pay pension entitlements in recognition of the fact that the claimants had been occupationally exposed to asbestos. See: Amianto nelle fabbriche siciliane: il Tribunale di Termini Imerese condanna l’INPS [Asbestos in Sicilian factories: the Court of Termini Imerese condemns the INPS].
 

Johnson & Johnson Update

Jan 17, 2022

On January 11, 2022, Chief US District Judge Freda Wolfson – a New Jersey federal judge – denied a request from claimants suing Johnson and Johnson (J&J) who had asked the Court for permission to bypass bankruptcy protections put in place to shield the pharmaceutical giant from personal injury claims, including some from dying cancer plaintiffs. Wolfson. who did not say why she declined to decide the matter, said she would explain her reasons within twenty days. There are estimated to be 38,000 claims against J&J arising from asbestos contamination of its baby powder. These claims were put into a new entity in 2021 which was then put into bankruptcy. See: J&J talc judge says legal shield dispute is for bankruptcy court.
 

Asbestos Time Bomb

Jan 17, 2022

A January 13, 2022 interview with Spanish asbestos victim Luis Yuste, Vice President of the Association in Defense of Asbestos Victims, highlighted the daily reality of people living with asbestos anxiety caused by the knowledge that they had been exposed to asbestos throughout their working lives. Yuste told the journalist: “Every time I go to have a check-up, I have a very bad time. I live with the permanent fear that the disease has advanced and that my end is near.” Having watched many co-workers succumb to asbestos cancer, he felt as if there was a time bomb ticking away inside his body. See: El eterno olvido de los afectados por el amianto [The eternal forgetfulness of those affected by asbestos].
 

Demolition of Asbestos Houses

Jan 13, 2022

Residents from a settlement of asbestos-containing prefabricated houses made in East Germany and erected in the 1980s in Komsomolsk-on-Amur, in the far-east of Russia, are being resettled due to concerns over the danger posed by the presence of asbestos which “increases the likelihood of malignant tumors.” In 2020, the properties were listed for demolition. In all likelihood the asbestos used by the German factory which produced the prefabs originated in Russia, the world’s largest supplier. Russian asbestos stakeholders continue to deny that exposure to (white) asbestos can harm human health. See: Мэрия Комсомольска для переселения жителей «Берлина» купила еще 30 квартир [Komsomolsk Mayor's Office has purchased 30 apartments to relocate residents of the "Berlin" [settlement]].
 

New Asbestos Regulations in BC

Jan 13, 2022

Asbestos-related diseases remain the leading cause of occupational deaths in British Columbia (BC). To reduce the death toll, the Provincial Government is proposing the imposition of asbestos licensing rules under its Workers Compensation Act. Under the new mandatory regulations, asbestos removal contractors must obtain a license from WorkSafeBC – the Workers' Compensation Board of British Columbia – to operate in BC. In addition, all employers, workers and contractors who remove asbestos must undertake a recognized asbestos safety training program. See: BC proposes asbestos licensing rules in workplace safety bid.
 

Failing to Square the Circle

Jan 13, 2022

During a 2022 interview with Luís Augusto Barbosa, the CEO of Brazil’s former Asbestos Giant: Eternit S.A., attempted to explain the inexplicable: the Company’s abandonment of asbestos for the manufacture of products destined for Brazil’s consumers with its continuation of asbestos mining for exports to Asia. The operations of the SAMA asbestos mine made a 30% contribution to the conglomerate’s profits for 2020. Eternit’s healthy balance sheet might, said one observer, indicate that the company would soon emerge from judicial recovery. See: Com a palavra... Eternit: Fabricante de telhas tenta desapegar do amianto [By words [alone]... Eternit roofing manufacturer tries to dispose of asbestos [problem]].
 

Asbestos Concerns in Korean Cities

Jan 13, 2022

Campaigners from the Korean groups Environmental Health Civic Center and Incheon Environmental Movement Association revealed on January 12, 2022 the findings of tests which showed that landscaping boulders used at two landmark sites contained tremolite asbestos fibers. The toxic products were located at Incheon Grand Park and the Bucheon Shopping Mall in the cities of Seoul and Bucheon respectively. The use of asbestos has been banned in Korea since 2003. See: 환경단체 "인천대공원·부천 복합쇼핑몰서 석면 검출" [Environmental group “Detection of asbestos in Incheon Grand Park and Bucheon Shopping Mall”].
 

Alleged Contamination of Cosmetics

Jan 13, 2022

A California NGO, Environmental Health Advocates (EHA), has launched a lawsuit in the Oakland Superior Court against suppliers of cosmetic products – eyeshadow and blushers – which were contaminated with asbestos fibers. The supplier B2 Fashions is accused of failing to inform the public of the presence of asbestos, a known carcinogen. EHA argues that “no customers would voluntarily apply asbestos-laced cosmetics to their faces if they knew such a decision could result in a cancer diagnosis.” Despite the company receiving a 60-notice alerting them to the contamination, there had been no recall and the toxic products had remained on sale. See: Entorno Law Files Lawsuit Against B2 Fashions, Inc. For Asbestos In Eyeshadow & Blush Palette.
 

Asbestos in Schools

Jan 12, 2022

Following the discovery of asbestos-containing products at the Las Salinas de San Fernando institute by the Spanish trade union CGT, the Inspectorate of Labor demanded that the Cádiz Territorial Education Department, which is part of the Andalusian Regional Government, take urgent action to remove the toxic material. The Education Department announced that the remediation required would be undertaken in the coming academic year. See: Inspección de Trabajo exige a la Junta que retire el amianto cancerígeno existente en un instituto de San Fernando [Labor Inspection requires the Board to remove the existing carcinogenic asbestos in a San Fernando institute].
 

No Asbestos Dump in Mont-Saint-Vincent!

Jan 12, 2022

Campaigners in France who blocked the development of asbestos waste facilities by the Rougeot company at its Mont-Saint-Vincent quarry last year, remain concerned about the possibility that this toxic waste might be dumped elsewhere in the region. The exploitation of various legal and environmental loopholes could, they warn, be exploited, thereby endangering the health of the population as well as polluting the environment. A public inquiry by the authorities in Creusot Montceau begins on January 17 to consider modifications to urban plans that might affect this issue in 34 cities in the region. See: Mont-Saint-Vincent – L’amiante et le plui ne font pas bon ménage [Mont-Saint-Vincent – Asbestos and rain don't mix].
 

Rescheduling of Asbestos Trial

Jan 12, 2022

The asbestos trial nicknamed Eternit Bis, which began in in Novara, Italy last year was disrupted earlier this week when one of the six judges was in self-isolation and one of the plaintiffs’ expert witnesses contracted Covid-19. After protracted debate between the Judges and the lawyers, it was decided to delay the January 10 proceedings for one week. On January 17, Prof Irma Dianzani, Dr Pietro Gino Barbieri, Prof Mauro Giulio Papotti, Dr Edoardo Bay and victims’ relatives will give evidence. At that time, another assessment will be made regarding the proposed timetable for the rest of the trial. See: Eternit Bis, incombe la pandemia: udienza il 17, poi stop temporaneo [Eternit Bis, the pandemic is looming: hearing on the 17th, then temporary stop].
 

Asbestos in Domestic Properties

Jan 11, 2022

Work ordered by the Mauritius Ministry of the Environment to remediate housing built with asbestos material is continuing this year. Contractors have been tendering for the demolition of 150 properties under a scheme being administered by local government inspectors and the Ministry of Housing. In the first instance, owners and occupants of affected properties are contacted so that an investigation can be carried out and plans made for rehousing of residents. All removal and disposal of the toxic building products are subject to regulation by the Mauritius Standard Bureau and other government agencies. See: Logement: la fin définitive des maisons en amianto [Housing: the definitive end of asbestos houses].
 

RIP Victor Escobar

Jan 11, 2022

Colombian lung cancer sufferer Victor Escobar took advantage of a new euthanasia law to bring an end to his suffering on January 7, 2022 thereby becoming one of the first Latin Americans with a terminal disease to legally end their life. The sixty-year old former insulator, who believed his work with asbestos-containing products caused his cancer, died in his home town of Cali in the presence of his family and doctors. He gave permission for his death to be recorded to encourage others who found themselves in a similar position. Although he was a devout Catholic, he believed that God would not “punish me for trying to stop suffering.” See: Colombian dies publicly under new euthanasia policy.
 

Victims’ Condemnation of Spanish System

Jan 11, 2022

Members of the Association of Victims Affected by Asbestos in Catalonia (AVAAC) have condemned the Spanish Government and the authorities in Catalonia for failing to recognize the negative consequences for Spanish workers who had been employed by companies which had used asbestos fiber in the production of building material and automotive parts. Comparing Spanish compensation payments for the injured to the system in France revealed, said AVAAC, a woeful under-recognition of the scale of the Spanish epidemic. See: Las víctimas del amianto denuncian el olvido institucional y reclaman la consideración profesional de la enfermedad [Asbestos victims denounce institutional neglect and demand professional consideration of the disease].
 

Asbestos in Schools

Jan 11, 2022

According to research, 350,000 children and 50,000 teachers are being exposed to asbestos still present in Italian classrooms. On December 20, 2021, a Labor Judge in Bologna ruled that the Ministry of Education was negligent in preventing the asbestos-related death of Professor Olga Mariasofia D’Enilio. The Court ordered the Ministry to pay compensation of €930,358 (~US$1 million) to the teacher’s heirs. On December 13, 2021, a special UN rapporteur expressed concern over Italy’s failure to take measures to stop toxic exposures occurring at contaminated sites and waste dumps and resulting from fibers liberated by asbestos products incorporated within the national infrastructure. See: Amianto, almeno 350 mila bimbi ancora esposti: anche in classe [Asbestos, at least 350,000 children still exposed: even in the classroom].
 

Asbestos Audits for Smaller Premises

Jan 11, 2022

New legislation – the Amendment to the Asbestos Safety Control Act – has been proposed by Korea’s National Assembly's Environment and Labor Committee intended to close loopholes which had allowed unsafe practices to continue by owners of buildings with a total floor space of less than 500 m2 including administrative and public institutions, medical and cultural facilities and schools, all of which will now have to undertake asbestos audits to identify the presence and condition of asbestos-containing material on site. See: [e법안 프리즘]윤준병, ‘건축물 석면조사 사각지대 해소법’ 마련 [[e-Bill Prism] Jun-Byung Yoon, ‘A method for resolving the blind spots of asbestos investigation in buildings’].
 

Victim’s Victory in Navarra

Jan 11, 2021

In the face of objections from Spain’s National Institute of Social Security (INSS) and Mondelez España Galletas Production SL (the former employer of the claimant), the Superior Court of Justice of Navarra reconfirmed a 2005 ruling which had found that the plaintiff’s injuries had been caused by occupational exposure to asbestos over a period of twenty years employment dismantling the company’s ovens with no protective clothing or equipment. The benefits now paid to the litigant will, the Court said, be €1,957 (US$2,215) per month. The fact that the claimant had been a smoker was irrelevant to the case, said the Court. See: El TSJN reconoce una incapacidad por amianto desde hace más de 15 años [The TSJN has recognized an asbestos disability lasting more than 15 years].
 

Parliamentary Reading of Asbestos Bill

Jan 7, 2022

In a January 6, 2022 interview with Mikhail Radutsky, Chair of the Verkhovna Rada Committee on National Health, Medical Assistance and Health Insurance, the Parliamentarian confirmed that a second reading of the Ukraine Parliament’s Bill No. 4142 “On the Public Health System” was due to take place shortly and would include draft legislation outlawing asbestos use. Since most of the country’s former asbestos-using factories have already transitioned to safer non-asbestos technologies, this ban should have little impact on the national economy. See: Михаил Радуцкий, председатель Комитета ВР по вопросам здоровья нации, медицинской помощи и медицинского страхования [Mikhail Radutsky, Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada Committee on National Health, Medical Assistance and Health Insurance].
 

Calls for Asbestos Ban!

Jan 7, 2022

On January 7, 2022, it was reported that civil society groups in the Philippines were reconfirming support for an immediate and comprehensive ban on the use of all asbestos-containing products on the grounds of public health and safety. In a January 6 statement, EcoWaste and the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) said that the Chemical Control Order (CCO) for Asbestos “needs serious enhancement” in order to stop the import of asbestos fiber and products containing asbestos. According to TUCP President Raymond Mendoza, the lack of asbestos warning labels on toxic material and a widespread complacency about asbestos exposures will lead to higher levels of disease in the future. See: EcoWaste, TUCP push for stronger anti-asbestos policy.
 

Asbestos Alert for Construction Workers

Jan 7, 2022

Italian researchers reconfirmed the elevated incidence of the asbestos cancer malignant mesothelioma (MM) amongst construction workers. Of 31,572 patients with MM identified from government data between 1993 to 2018, almost 70% had reported occupational exposure to asbestos. Of these, 21% had worked in the construction sector; the relevant figure for the period 1993-98 was 16% and for the period 2014-18 24%. The authors of the paper cited below concluded that: “There is a need to implement education and training for workers involved in activities such as remedial, maintenance, and building renovations, especially with reference to old buildings.” See: Asbestos Exposure and Malignant Mesothelioma in Construction Workers—Epidemiological Remarks by the Italian National Mesothelioma Registry (ReNaM).
 

Addressing a Toxic Legacy

Jan 7, 2022

A designated priority of the French Government’s Fourth Occupational Health Plan, published on December 20 2021, was countering the occupational risk posed by asbestos incorporated within the national infrastructure. Pursuant to this objective, were new measures to train operatives, improve workplace conditions via collaboration with a range of stakeholders, identify asbestos issues in the agricultural sector and promote innovations for the identification and safe removal of asbestos. See: The Fourth Occupational Health Plan.
 

EPA Asbestos Evaluation: Part II

Jan 7, 2022

On December 29, 2021, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) made public its Draft Scope of the Risk Evaluation for Asbestos Part 2: Supplemental Evaluation Including Legacy Uses and Associated Disposals of Asbestos (Draft Scope) for the evaluation of asbestos issues excluded from Part 1 such as legacy uses, associated disposals and the hazard posed by asbestos fibers found in talc and talc-containing products. Evidence can be submitted to the EPA during the public consultation until February 14, 2022. See: EPA Publishes Draft Scope of the Risk Evaluation for Asbestos Part 2: Supplemental Evaluation Including Legacy Uses and Associated Disposals of Asbestos.
 

Phasing out Asbestos Use

Jan 5, 2022

A case study from the Tri Le commune in Vietnam’s Que Phong district was discussed in the article cited below which also recapped the health warnings given at a December 2021 asbestos awareness conference. The experience of the Thi Phuc family was related as an example of how disadvantaged people in the country’s mountainous areas might better safeguard their families’ well-being by replacing toxic asbestos-cement roofing tiles with environmentally friendly alternatives such as iron roofing sheets. See: Quế Phong, Nghệ An: Bỏ tấm lợp Fibro xi măng có nguy cơ nhiễm amiăng sang lợp mái tôn [Que Phong, Nghe An: Replacing the use of toxic asbestos-cement roofing sheets with corrugated iron roofs].
 

Childhood Asbestos Exposure Study

Jan 5, 2022

An article by researchers in Denmark which examined “the asbestos-associated cancer incidence and the risk of multiple cancers in former school children exposed to environmental asbestos in childhood” was uploaded on December 27, 2021 to the website of the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health as part of the Special Issue entitled: Asbestos Exposure and Health Impact. The study confirmed that there was a significant association between childhood exposure to asbestos and the onset in later life of the asbestos cancer mesothelioma as well as other cancers. See: Cancer Incidence and Risk of Multiple Cancers after Environmental Asbestos Exposure in Childhood—A Long-Term Register-Based Cohort Study.
 

Provincial Backing for Asbestos Removal

Jan 5, 2022

From December 30, 2021 until February 25, 2022, economically challenged residents in Hampyeong County in Korea’s South Jeolla Province can apply for subsidies to remove toxic asbestos-cement roofing from domestic properties and non-residential buildings such as barns and warehouses; the budget allocated by the Provincial authorities for this phase of its “2022 slate treatment and roof improvement support project” totals 352 million won (US$~295,000). See: 전남 함평군,1급 발암물질 석면 '노후 슬레이트 처리 지원사업’ 접수 [The 'Aging slate Treatment Support Project' for asbestos, a class 1 carcinogen, implemented in Hampyeong-gun, Jeonnam].
 

Culpability for Brazil’s Asbestos Disaster

Jan 5, 2022

An article which reviewed aspects of the “500 years of Franco-Brazilian relations” discussed the case of Saint-Gobain (SG) and its part in the history and tragic legacy of Brazil’s asbestos mining and production industry. SG played a pivotal role in developing Brazil’s asbestos industrial sector with its ownership of an asbestos mine in the State of Goiás. SG directors took measures to protect asbestos markets in Brazil even after France had banned the use of asbestos. It was not until January 2003 that SG ended the use of asbestos fiber at its Brazilian factories; in December 2003 it sold its interests in the Cana Brava chrysotile asbestos mine. See: Une curieuse histoire des relations franco-brésiliennes [A curious history of Franco-Brazilian relations].
 

Pursuer’s Ruling in Scottish Court

Jan 5, 2021

Judge Lady Wise at the Scottish Court of Session granted former council employee John Kelman leave to sue his former employer Moray Council which, it is alleged, was responsible for occupational exposures to asbestos the plaintiff sustained between 1980 and 1984 whilst working with large domestic storage heaters. Mr. Kelman was diagnosed with mesothelioma in 2019 but had suffered from other conditions previously which might have alerted him to the possibility of future injuries; if so, the statute of limitations for bringing a claim had expired. In her written judgment, Lady Wise gave Mr Kelman permission to proceed and estimated that the value of the claim could be up to £200,000. See: Man allowed to pursue 'asbestos cancer' claim against Moray Council.
 

Asbestos Alert in Asia-Pacific Region

Jan 5, 2022

The 33rd International Congress on Occupational Health, which is being organized by the International Commission on Occupational Health (ICOH) and its partners is due to take place in a digital format in February 2022. Special Session 43: Elimination of asbestos-related diseases in Asia Pacific was proposed by the Asian Ban Asbestos Network and the Japan Occupational Safety and Health Resource Center. The speakers scheduled to participate are: Jukka Takala, Dr. Anna Suraya, Ashish Mittal, Lance Richman and Ken Takahashi. See: SS43 Elimination of asbestos-related diseases in Asia Pacific.
 

WHO Calls for Asbestos-Free Water!

Jan 4, 2022

A briefing uploaded on December 21, 2021 by the World Health Organization (WHO) which served as the background document for the development of Guidelines focusing on the hazard posed by asbestos contamination of drinking water was adamant about the need to remediate toxic water delivery systems: “In line with WHO’s position that all types of asbestos should no longer be used, to most efficiently eliminate asbestos-related disease (WHO, 2006, 2014, 2018), sources of asbestos fibres in drinking-water, such as A/C pipes and storage containers, should not be newly installed.” See: Asbestos in drinking-water.
 

Pushback by Asbestos Lobby

Jan 4, 2022

Yet another Russian language pro-asbestos media blitz by vested interests was uploaded on December 28, 2021 to a Ukraine news portal which intimated that people who supported the Ukraine Government’s plans to ban asbestos were, like anti-vaxxers, anti-science. According to the author of the article cited below, there is no valid evidence for the use of chrysotile asbestos to be banned in Ukraine and enacting the draft prohibition currently under discussion by the Parliament could negatively impact the country’s economic prospects. See: Запрет асбеста: что думают об этом специалисты отрасли [Banning asbestos: what industry experts think of it].
 

Asbestos Propaganda Reboot

Jan 4, 2022

The article cited below which was uploaded to a Russian website on December 30, 2021 contained misleading and erroneous statements commonly recycled by asbestos vested interests. Whilst asserting that exposure to chrysotile asbestos “has long been considered harmless,” the author praised the “special properties of (chrysotile) asbestos” which made it an ideal material for use by the construction and other industrial sectors. There was, however one aspect of this “article” that was unusual; the notation at the bottom of the text which acknowledged that the “Information [was] provided by the company.” See: Асбокартон для теплоизоляции на предприятиях [Asbestos board for thermal insulation in enterprises].
 

Asbestos Alert in Vietnam

Jan 4, 2022

Vietnamese civil society groups in collaboration with Australian experts held a workshop on December 27, 2021 in the Que Phong district of Nghe An Province to raise awareness about the asbestos health hazard. The speakers detailed the consequences of occupational as well as environmental exposures to asbestos-containing roofing material, which remains a common choice for lower income families in some parts of the country. Calls for tax incentives to support the use of asbestos-free products were made. See: Tập huấn 'Nâng cao nhận thức về tác hại của amiăng đến sức khỏe đồng bào dân tộc thiểu số [Training on ‘Raising awareness about the harmful effects of asbestos on the health of ethnic minorities’].
 

Oscar Peano Mesothelioma Scholarship

Jan 4, 2021

Although it seems strange to find an article about the asbestos cancer mesothelioma in the pages of the glossy monthly Vanity Fair Italy, the December issue included an insightful piece about the life and death (2020) of Oscar Peano informed by an interview with his daughter-in-law author Francesca Marson. Oscar had a love of trees, plants and flowers and as the manager of Turin’s public parks used his passion to enhance the lives of the city’s residents. In his memory, his family raised funds to support a scholarship for research into clinical trials for people suffering from pleural mesothelioma. See: Chi era Oscar Peano e perché la sua storia ha ispirato una Borsa di Studio contro il mesotelioma [Who was Oscar Peano and why his story inspired a scholarship for research into the control of mesothelioma].
 

Asbestos on London Underground

Jan 4, 2022

Information accessed about asbestos-containing material on various London underground lines and in some stations was uploaded to the internet in December 2021 in reply to Freedom of Information requests. In most instances, such as the Bakerloo line, the asbestos was “typically found on rolling stock” and not in “public facing areas” (see: Pictogram). Nevertheless, asbestos-containing material was present in Pimlico underground station in areas which interfaced with the general public. See: 1972 stock Asbestos information.
 

Ruling for Railway Workers

Dec 24, 2021

On December 21, 2021 news was released of a landmark ruling by the Paris Court of Appeal which supported claims by 119 former railway workers who had developed psychological conditions due to occupational asbestos exposures. After an eight-year legal battle, the SNCF –the railway company owned by the French State – was ordered by the Court to compensate employees who had worked amongst asbestos contamination and, as a result, had developed “asbestos anxiety.” See: Amiante: un «préjudice d’anxiété» reconnu pour une centaine de cheminots [Asbestos: “prejudice of anxiety” recognized for a hundred railway workers].
 

Farewell Professor North!

Dec 24, 2021

On December 23, 2021, 61-year old Gillian North died at her home in Australia from asbestos cancer which she believed had been contracted as a result of toxic exposures during home renovations in London and in Sydney. Since receiving a diagnosis of mesothelioma three years ago, Professor North had been researching asbestos and warning fellow Australians about the deadly danger which lurked in their homes. It’s believed that up to 80% of Australian homes could contain asbestos building products. See: Celebrated professor dies at 61 from asbestos-related cancer after being exposed while renovating her home – just days after warning Australians to ‘wake up’ to the preventable threat.
 

Asbestos Contamination at WHO

Dec 24, 2021

The iconic Geneva headquarters of the World Health Organization (WHO), which was built in the 1960s, is now being remediated to remove asbestos-containing material. While the work is ongoing, WHO personnel have relocated to temporary premises at which on December 20, 2021 the first in-person WHO news conference since July 2020 was held. According to a WHO spokesperson: “The appropriate precautionary measures will be taken to contain and remove any asbestos (or other harmful material) in accordance with local building codes and health and safety legislation.” See: WHO opens sleek new site as iconic building cleansed of asbestos.
 

News from Novara Asbestos Trial

Dec 24, 2021

The Court of Assizes in Novara, Italy heard testimony on December 20, 2021 from medical and scientific experts for the prosecution about hereditary susceptibility to developing asbestos-related diseases: “the genetic factor alone is not enough. Even where there is a hereditary predisposition, if you don't breathe in asbestos fibres you don't develop the disease because exposure to asbestos is what triggers the onset of mesothelioma.” The next hearing in the case against Swiss billionaire Stephan Schmidheiny will take place on January 10, 2022. See: Mesotelioma: casi di predisposizione ereditaria, ma nessuno si ammala senza esposizione all’amianto [Mesothelioma: cases of hereditary predisposition, but no one gets sick without exposure to asbestos].
 

Vestiges of Asbestos Mining

Dec 24, 2021

The machines lay silent and the wheels no longer turn at former asbestos mines in Quebec. The mining industry which defined many communities was a source of sustenance and pride to the Quebecois; so much so that one town was even named Asbestos. The town was founded in 1899, the same year that a British factory inspector first reported on the toxic nature of occupational asbestos exposure. In 2020, voters in Asbestos supported a move to change the town’s name to Val-des-Sources (Valley of the Springs) in an effort to distance the municipality from its toxic past. See: Asbestos Mine.
 

Saga Court Settlement Update

Dec 24, 2021

On December 22, 2021, three asbestos cases brought against the Japanese government by bereaved family members were settled before trial proceedings commenced at the Saga District Court. The litigation related to toxic employment at a former asbestos product factory in Tosu City, on the island of Kyushu. These cases were the last of 123 similar claims listed for adjudication by judges at the Saga Court. See: 鳥栖アスベスト訴訟で新たに3人和解 佐賀地裁へ提訴の原告全員和解 [Three new settlements in Tosu asbestos proceedings. Reconciliation of all plaintiffs in Saga District Court].
 

Asbestos Alert to Home Renovators

Dec 22, 2021

The dying wish of a law professor from Australia’s Deakin University is to raise public awareness about the hazard posed to do-it-yourself renovators by the presence of toxic products in their homes. Gill North is dying from the signature asbestos cancer mesothelioma which she contracted as a result of exposure to asbestos during DIY home renovations in the UK and Australia in the 1990s. Professor North told journalists: “This is much worse than the COVID-19 crises because the numbers that are dying – and that are likely to die – are much higher.” To spread the warning about asbestos, Professor North has set up the registered charity, Asbestos Awareness Australia. See: A deathbed warning about the danger of asbestos in homes.
 

Fighting to Ban Asbestos in Ukraine

Dec 22, 2021

The text of the article cited below, which was uploaded to a Ukraine news portal on December 17, documented the ongoing controversy in the Ukraine Parliament over plans to ban the use of asbestos, a prerequisite for joining the European Union. Kazakh officials and other asbestos vested interests were, the author reported, bringing pressure to bear on Ukraine parliamentarians to reverse or, at least, delay the planned prohibitions in order to preserve markets for chrysotile (white) asbestos and products containing it. See: Некоторые “слуги народа” в Раде выступают против запрета в Украине опасного асбеста из Казахстана [Some “servants of the people” in the Rada oppose the ban in Ukraine of hazardous asbestos from Kazakhstan].
 

Asbestos Removal in Schools

Dec 22, 2021

On December 21, 2021, the Department of Education of the South Korean Province of Chungnam announced that 92 billion won (US$ 78.3m) had been allocated for work to promote school safety in 2022. Amongst the projects being funded by these resources is work to dismantle and remove asbestos from schools – due to be completed by 2026, a year before the Ministry of Education target. Commenting on the raft of improvements which will be made next year, the Superintendent of Education Kim Ji-cheol said: “the health and growth of students and the safety of the educational community must be prioritized.” See: 충남교육청, 안전한 교육환경 조성에 920억원 투자 [The Chungnam Office of Education is investing 92 billion won in the creation of a safe educational environment].
 

Johnson & Johnson’s Toxic Powder

Dec 22, 2021

On December 17, 2021, Democratic Senators and members of the House of Representatives wrote to the incoming CEO of Johnson & Johnson (J&J) Joaquin Duato to denounce the company’s financial manoeuvrings to off-load 38,000 claims from people who allege they had contracted asbestos cancer as a result of using J&J’s talc-based baby powder. “We write today,” the letter said “to inquire if you, as incoming CEO, will continue Johnson & Johnson’s current efforts to avoid accountability to cancer victims, or if you will reverse course. Your response will help inform the direction of our oversight and legislative response to this important issue.” See: Durbin, Senate and House Dems: Will Johnson & Johnson Continue To Avoid Accountability To Cancer Victims?
 

Quebec’s Toxic Asbestos Legacy

Dec 22, 2021

For decades the production and processing of chrysotile (white) asbestos fiber in Quebec mining towns constituted the basis of local economies. Regulations or restrictive measures to minimize hazardous occupational and environmental exposures were forestalled for political reasons; to date, protective legislation, such as it is, in Quebec lags far behind that in other Canadian Provinces. In fact, Quebec does not include asbestos in its hazardous materials’ legislation and has not banned the manufacture, import and use of asbestos-containing products despite a national asbestos ban introduced as of December 31, 2018. See: Les législations relatives à l’exposition à l’amiante au Québec [Legislation relating to exposure to asbestos in Quebec].
 

Growing Sustainable & Green Technology

Dec 22, 2021

In 2022, the Italian government is introducing new incentives to encourage citizens to replace toxic asbestos-cement roofing with sustainable green technology: solar panels. Accessing the new subsidies and tax bonuses has been streamlined to encourage a wider take-up of the new schemes to grow renewable energy sources in Italy. The initiatives are enshrined in Legislative Decree 199/2021, which transposed the EU Directive 2018/2001/EU on the promotion of the use of energy from renewable sources. See: Pannelli solari al posto dell'amianto: aumenta il bonus per il tetto green [Solar panels instead of asbestos: increase of bonus for green roof].
 

Asbestos Data and Support for Victims

Dec 20, 2021

Following the release on December 15, 2021 by the Japan Ministry of Labor of asbestos disease data, civil society groups organized a telephone asbestos hot line on December 16 & 17 for people concerned about historic asbestos exposures at work or in the environment. According to government figures, 1,060 people with mesothelioma or asbestos-related lung cancer were eligible last year for benefits from the national scheme for occupational injuries and diseases. A Ministry official predicted that in years to come 1,000 people will be eligible for this asbestos disease compensation. See: Annual asbestos payouts likely for 1,000 people for years to come.
 

Award for Mavis Nye!

Dec 20, 2021

The news that Mavis Nye had been named the “Most Influential person in health & safety for 2021” was greeted on December 17, 2021 with great excitement by people in the UK and abroad. Asbestos victims’ campaigners and ban asbestos advocates from Japan, India, Canada and Australia joined UK colleagues in congratulating Mavis on this tribute. Mavis, who contracted the asbestos cancer mesothelioma from exposure to asbestos fibers on her husband’s work clothes, is the country’s most high profile “mesothelioma warrior,” and both online and in person she provides support and solace for people affected by mesothelioma. Amongst the other 15 candidates for this award was Professor Chris Whitty, Chief Medical Advisor to the UK Government. See: Dr Mavis Nye named SHP’s Most Influential person in health & safety for 2021.
 

Identifying Asbestos Hotspots

Dec 20, 2021

On December 17, 2021, a paper by Colombian researchers which was part of the Special Issue Asbestos Exposure and Health Impact was uploaded to the website of the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. In examining the fallout from asbestos mining and manufacturing it was estimated that in 2005, 10,489 people lived within 500 m of an asbestos processing facility or mine in Columbia. In 2018, within a distance of 10,000 m, the number was 6,724,677. The co-authors recommended that a mesothelioma registry should be established and that other surveillance strategies be implemented to identify people at high-risk of contracting asbestos related diseases. See: Using GIS to Estimate Population at Risk Because of Residence Proximity to Asbestos Processing Facilities in Colombia.
 

Asbestos Victims’ Compensation Fund

Dec 20, 2021

A recent analysis of the figures reported by the French Asbestos Victims’ Compensation Fund [Fonds d’Indemnisation des Victimes de l’Amiante – FIVA] for 2020 revealed that there was a 13% decrease in the number of claims for asbestos-related occupational diseases recognized (17,023 in 2020 vs 19,725 in 2019). Because of delays in processing claims caused by Covid, 1,000 applications had still not been dealt with by December 31, 2020: “The recorded decrease is hence merely a statistic and does not reflect reality.” Compensation paid for claims recognized in 2020 equalled €233.9 million (US $265m). FIVA has the duty to reclaim payouts to claimants from former employers and has an 86% success rate in doing so. See: Asbestos claims are once again at the centre of litigation.
 

Domestic Asbestos Hazard

Dec 20, 2021

Algeria’s French language newspaper El Watan has reported the widespread presence of asbestos-containing products hidden within the country’s infrastructure in an article uploaded on December 16, 2021. People in the suburb of Dergana, northeast of Benzerga, have long complained about the hazard they endure on a daily basis because of the presence of deteriorating asbestos material in the walls of their apartments and in their bathrooms. For years, local people have called for the authorities to decontaminate these properties; to date, no action has been taken. See: Alerte à l’amiante à dergana (paris): énième sos les habitants [Umpteenth SOS for Residents].
 

Update: Asbestos Criminal Trial

Dec 20, 2021

Evidence heard at the Court of Assizes in Novara, Italy on December 13, 2021 in the trial against Stephan Schmidheiny included testimony from prosecution witnesses Professor Corrado Magnani, Dr. Dario Mirabelli Massimiliano Bugiani, Pavilio Piccioni, and Dr Ferruccio Perrelli who highlighted the hundreds of premature deaths caused by toxic exposures to asbestos fibers liberated by the operations of the Eternit asbestos-cement plant in Casale Monferrato. The next hearing on December 20 will feature testimony from Professor Irma Dianzani, and Professor Edoardo Bai, expert witnesses for the prosecution. See: «Senza l’Eternit non ci sarebbero stati a Casale tutti quei mesoteliomi» [“Without the Eternit Plant we wouldn’t have had all those mesotheliomas in Casale”].
 

Asbestos Criminal Trial?

Dec 17, 2021

A hearing on December 15, 2021 at the Paris Court of Appeal was, said a spokesperson for the asbestos victims’ group ANDEVA during an online press conference on December 14, the last chance to hold to account those people guilty of causing the asbestos epidemic in France which had taken the lives of untold numbers of workers, family members and people in contaminated communities. Numerous legal proceedings over the last twenty years had failed to get justice for the country’s asbestos dead and asbestos companies such as Eternit had escaped lability for the harm done by commercial decisions which had prioritized corporate profits over workers’ health. See: Eternit: les victimes de l'amiante espèrent obtenir un procès [Eternit: asbestos victims hope to get a trial].
 

Victory for Kyushu Construction Workers

Dec 17, 2021

News of an agreement between the Japanese Government and 52 plaintiffs, most of whom were surviving family members of construction workers from the Kyushu region who had been affected by asbestos-related diseases, was announced at a Tokyo news conference on December 13, 2021. The central government, which after a ten-year legal battle apologized to the families, offered to pay each claimant about 10 million yen (US $88,900) depending on the severity of his health issues. A government fund to compensate construction workers injured by occupational asbestos exposures will become operational in June 2022. See: Court-mediated settlement on asbestos damage too late for many.
 

Toxic Legacy Posed by Asbestos Pipes

Dec 17, 2021

A 31-page text published in December 2021 by Australia’s Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency (ASEA) was entitled Asbestos-Cement Water and Sewer Pipe Management Guidelines. The objective of the new resource was to “assist organisations providing water and/or sewerage services (referred to as ‘water agencies’) eliminate or minimise the risk of exposure to asbestos fibres being released from asbestos-cement (AC) pipes.” It has been estimated that there are 40,000+ km of AC water pipes and 5,000 km of AC sewer main pipes in Australia. See: Asbestos-Cement Water and Sewer Pipe Management Guidelines.
 

Multimillion Dollar Mesothelioma Verdict

Dec 17, 2021

In a unanimous jury verdict, a court in King County, Washington was told that retired teacher George Kraemer had contracted the asbestos cancer mesothelioma from exposure to asbestos fibers brought home on his father’s work clothes nearly 80 years ago. Mr. Kraemer was awarded $10,000,000 against Lone Star Industries, the company which had taken over Pioneer Sand & Gravel, the supplier of asbestos insulation to the Todd Shipyard which had, in the early 1940s, built destroyers for use by the American Navy during WW II. Kraemer's father had worked as an insulator at the shipyard. See: East Wenatchee Retired Teacher Wins $10 million Judgment in Asbestos Case.
 

Development Plans for Asbestos Site?

Dec 17, 2021

Reacting to news about plans to clean up the now derelict site of Europe’s largest asbestos-cement producer, one campaigner quoted the famous US baseball player Yogi Berra and said: “It’s déjà vu all over again.” The specialist remediation company ESG Trading Limited intends to completely remediate contaminated buildings and land in Rochdale which had belonged to the former Turner Brothers Asbestos company. Local people were sceptical about the firm’s insistence that the end-use for the decontaminated site was undecided, despite the fact that the cost for the clean-up was estimated at £20m. See: Plans to develop derelict site of former asbestos factory expected by end of 2024.
 

Raising Asbestos Awareness in Italy

Dec 17, 2021

A civil society initiative launched in 2019 continues to raise asbestos awareness amongst schoolchildren in the Italian region of Monfalcone. In the academic year 2020-21, pupils in 30 classes in local high schools studied asbestos subject matter to educate them about the history of asbestos use, the properties of asbestos and the region’s toxic industrial legacy. A source book used by the students is called “Polvere” (Dust) by Alessandro Morena which relates the experience of the members of an asbestos victims’ group: Associazione Esposti Amianto e del gruppo vedove dell’amianto [The Association of the Asbestos-Exposed and the Asbestos Widows’ Group]. See: L’amianto a scuola Riparte il progetto “Te lo racconto io” rivolto agli student [Asbestos at school The “I'll tell you about it” project for students starts again].
 

Weird Twist in Ukraine’s Asbestos Battle

Dec 14, 2021

One of the world’s largest asbestos mining companies and the only asbestos conglomerate in Kazakhstan – Kostanay Minerals JSC – has been pressurizing the Ukraine Parliament to abandon ban asbestos plans. In a bizarre twist, not seen before in asbestos politics, Kostanay is now trying to bribe Ukrainian vested interests with the enticement that the company (Kostanay) will make a major investment in the Ukraine mining sector to develop sites for the exploitation of titanium ore deposits or to purchase a major titanium company in Ukraine. Previously, there had been rumors that Kazakhstan would supply Ukraine with Kazakh Covid-19 vaccines in return for a U-turn on the planned ban. See: Казахский производитель асбеста заинтересовался украинскими недрами [Kazakh asbestos producer is interested in Ukrainian subsoil].
 

Laryngeal Cancer Cause: Asbestos Exposure

Dec 14, 2021

Italy’s Supreme Court (Court of Cassation) has issued a ruling in case no. 38862/2021 accepting a claimant’s demand for recognition of the fact that he contracted laryngeal cancer as a result of occupational exposure to asbestos. Lower courts, including the Court of Appeal, had rejected his claim. The favorable ruling by the Supreme Court means that the litigant will be paid benefits by INAIL, Italy’s National Institute for Insurance against Accidents at Work. See: Carcinoma alla laringe per esposizione ad amianto, si alla rendita INAIL [Laryngeal cancer due to exposure to asbestos, yes to INAIL annuity].
 

Parliamentary Asbestos Enquiry

Dec 14, 2021

On December 15, 2021, the second day of sessions by the Parliamentary Work and Pensions Committee will take place into whether or not the current asbestos policy of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is fit for purpose. Giving evidence in the first session this week will be: epidemiologist Professor Julian Peto, Assistant Professor Clare Gilham, Professor John Cherrie and Kevin Brampton of the British Occupational Hygiene Society. In the second session, testimony from experts in asbestos removal operations and occupational health and safety will be given. See: Work and Pensions Committee to question health experts and asbestos industry.
 

A Very Special Relationship

Dec 14, 2021

An article by Tracy Hayward and Anna Nowak of the National Centre for Asbestos-Related Diseases (NCARD) in the current issue of Inspire delineated the close relationship between NCARD researchers and members of the Perth-based Asbestos Diseases Society of Australia (ADSA) who not only raise funds for the scientists but also take an active role in collaborating and inspiring them in their work. Patients, family members and interested citizens are welcomed at NCARD open sessions to inform them of the state of projects and promising lines of enquiry. Likewise, researchers are invited to the ADSA Ecumenical service and other events as well as into clinical settings to better understand the patients’ experiences. See: Shared Understandings – Standing Side by Side against Asbestos-Related Diseases.
 

Experts Call for Benefits’ Review

Dec 14, 2021

An investigation undertaken by academics and medical experts into the benefits available in Japan for people with asbestos-related diseases has identified a “disparity in relief” between the amounts they receive and the amounts paid by the government to other claimants with occupationally-caused diseases. The recommendations made by the “Asbestos Damage Relief System Study Group,” which were announced on December 12 at a meeting in Tokyo, included an uplift in monthly payments and a national review of the ”entire national system to eliminate disparities and gaps." See: アスベスト被害救済で格差が 学者らが制度見直し提言 [Disparity in asbestos damage relief; expert proposals to improve system].
 

Asbestos Controversy in Patras

Dec. 10, 2021

Deputies Costas Markou and Sia Anagnostopoulou from Patras, the regional capital of Western Greece, have called on the authorities to produce documentation regarding the pervasiveness of asbestos-containing material in Patras and delineate measures which will be put in place to eradicate this public health hazard. In their submissions to the Ministers of Digital Governance, Labor and Social Affairs, Environment and Energy and Health, the Deputies highlighted the prosecution of officials from the Greek Postal company who had neglected to protect workers and customers from asbestos in their buildings. See: Μάρκου-Αναγνωστοπούλου: Ο αμίαντος εξακολουθεί να “μολύνει” με διάφορους τρόπους την Πάτρα [Markou-Anagnostopoulou: Asbestos continues to “contaminate” Patras in various ways].
 

Union Raises Asbestos Alarm

Dec 10, 2021

The Swiss SIT trade union denounced Rampini SA – a major Geneva public works company – for flouting asbestos regulations by allowing its operatives to work on demolition sites where asbestos was present without any protective measures or adequate equipment. In some instances, users of certain buildings including school children were exposed to asbestos fibers liberated by illegal work practices. The union reported these infringements to SUVA, the insurance fund which deals with occupational health and safety in Switzerland. See: Des ouvriers manipulent de l’amiante sans la moindre protection [Occupational health - Workers handle asbestos without any protection].
 

Update from Novara Trial

Dec 10, 2021

Evidence presented by expert witness including Drs. Gino Barbieri and Dr. Mauro Giulio Papotti on December 6, 2021 in the trial of Swiss asbestos billionaire Stephan Schmidheiny detailed the evolution of knowledge about the causal link between asbestos exposure and the cancer mesothelioma. The medical records of 30 of the 392 deceased individuals on whose behalf this case was brought by the Public Prosecutors were examined in detail during the day’s proceedings. Each of the deceased had lost, on average, 30 years of life due to his/her cancer. See: Morti anzitempo: il mesotelioma ha soffocato la speranza di vita anche con un anticipo di 30 anni [Early deaths: mesothelioma reduced life expectancy by up to 30 years: stories of women and men].
 

Controversy over Asbestos-cement Water Pipes

Dec 10, 2021

The commentary cited below about contamination of the water delivery system in the small New York town of Altamont references a November 2, 2021 amendment to the NY Constitution’s Bill of Rights which said: “Each person shall have a right to clean air and water, and a healthful environment.” The author of this text interviewed Altamont’s superintendent of public works Jeff Moller, Professor Yanna Liang, Chair of the Department of Environmental and Sustainable Engineering, from the University at Albany and Professor Arthur Frank, medical specialist in asbestos-related diseases from Drexel University to clarify the occupational and public health risk posed by asbestos-cement pipes. See: We shouldn’t play Russian roulette with our water supply.
 

Demand Grows over Asbestos Removal

Dec 10, 2021

The ubiquity of deteriorating asbestos-cement roofing (locally called Uralita after Spain’s biggest producer of this type of material) and other asbestos-containing building products throughout Barcelona are causes of great public concern. Local groups such as the Associació de Veïnes i Veïns Clot-Camp de l'Arpa [The Clot-Camp of Arpa Neighborhood Association] are demanding that the City Council honors promises made regarding plans to eradicate asbestos contamination in the Catalan capital. See: Miles de metros de amianto amenazan a los vecinos del Camp de l'Arpa del Clot [Thousands of meters of asbestos threaten the residents of Camp de l'Arpa del Clot].
 

Asbestos Cancer: A Family Affair

Dec 10, 2021

A court award of €43,000 (US$48,660) for the widow of a worker who had been employed at the Port of Venice, Italy is being appealed by her lawyer Enrico Cornelio who stated that this was a “derisory” sum. Having suffered the loss of her husband, who died from asbestos cancer seven years ago, the claimant is herself now suffering from the same cancer. It is alleged that whilst laundering his contaminated work clothes, she was exposed to asbestos fibers and, as a consequence, contracted cancer. See: Venezia, risarcita la moglie di un morto d’amianto. Lavorava al porto [Venice, the wife of an asbestos dead worker compensated. He worked at the port].
 

Ukraine Fight to Ban Asbestos

Dec 8, 2021

A detailed of analysis of the fight by the Ukraine government to ban asbestos, as has been done throughout the European Union, highlighted the lobbying of domestic and foreign asbestos vested interests who mounted a coordinated attack to preserve the status quo. Although a first bill passed through Parliament some months ago which included a provision to ban asbestos, it is possible that threats from the Kazakh-Russian asbestos lobby could succeed in postponing the implementation of asbestos prohibition regulations. Civil society groups in Ukraine continue to campaign for a ban to protect Ukrainians from deadly exposures to asbestos. See: Откажется ли Украина наконец от опасного асбеста? [Will Ukraine finally give up dangerous asbestos?].
 

Asbestos Industry Propaganda

Dec 8, 2021

An article uploaded on December 6, 2021 to a Russian website was, no doubt, informed by the asbestos lobby: it rehashed standard commercial rhetoric extolling the virtues of asbestos and negating evidence about its toxicity. Accusing health and safety campaigners of “fanning the flames of public hysteria” for advocating the use of asbestos-free alternatives, the author of this article also branded them as “imperialists.” Ending the use of chrysotile asbestos material would, the author wrote, deprive developing countries of safe and reliable products needed for the construction of national infrastructures. See: Асбестовые страсти: ученые против империализма [Asbestos passions: scientists against imperialism].
 

Toxic Talc Update

Dec. 8, 2021

An article recapping the controversial steps by which Johnson and Johnson (J&J) managed to temporarily suspend the tens of thousands of cancer claims against it pointed out that once a 60-day reprieve has been spent and the litigation is moved from North Carolina to New Jersey, things could change. J&J used the “Texas Two-step” to dump the personal injury lawsuits into a shell company which it immediately put into bankruptcy. This legal strategy has not yet been tested by a New Jersey court so some hope remains for the thousands of claimants who allege that they were injured by exposures to asbestos fibers contained in J&J’s talc-based baby powder. See: J&J Baby Powder Lawsuits On Hold For Now.
 

Complacency over Faulty Masks

Dec 8, 2021

On November 18, 2021 a letter was sent to the French Minister of Labor Élisabeth Borne alerting her about adverse findings regarding the efficacy of a popular type of mask produced by 3M Scott used by asbestos removal operatives. As a result of the malfunctions identified “tens of thousands of workers would be exposed to cancer risks.” On October 28, the Ministry published its reply in the Official Journal saying that this type of mask was certified for use as per French regulations. Unfortunately, this opinion was shared by Laurent Pietraszewski, the Secretary of State for Occupational Health. See: Masques amiante: le ministère du Travail appelle simplement à respecter les consignes d'utilisation [Asbestos masks: the Ministry of Labor simply calls for compliance with the instructions for use].
 

Ban Asbestos Battle in Ukraine

Dec 8, 2021

On December 6, 2021, two articles were uploaded detailing the fight by the Ukraine Parliament to ban asbestos as part of the country’s plans to join the European Union; the first reported on: Kazakh opposition to Ukrainian plans to halt the use of asbestos. According to this article, between 2006 and 2016, Ukraine imported 556,000 tons of chrysotile asbestos, of which 64.5% came from Russia and 35.5% from Kazakhstan. The article cited below recounted steps taken by Kazakh governmental and commercial interests to forestall the ban in order to protect the profits of Kostanay Minerals, a Kazakh asbestos mining company. See: Украина планирует отказаться от использования асбеста в строительстве [Ukraine plans to abandon the use of asbestos in construction].
 

Posthumous Campaign for Justice

Dec 8, 2021

Legal experts are predicting that the reversal of a lower court ruling regarding the death of José María Íñigo from asbestos cancer will lead to the case being sent to the Supreme Court. The Superior Court of Justice of Madrid last week rejected a January 2021 verdict that the cause of the popular Spanish TV entertainer’s death had been exposure to asbestos present in the studios of the national broadcaster TVE. José María Íñigo was diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma in 2015; he started work for TVE in 1975 and even had an office at the studio. See: The second death of José María Íñigo: justice fails [in finding] that he did not die of asbestos.
 

Call for Asbestos Ban in Thailand

Dec 6, 2021

An article on the news portal of the Pattaya Mail highlighted the fact that despite a government commitment to ban asbestos in 2000, no action had been taken to implement prohibitions. In recognition of this lapse, a session entitled Asbestos-Free Thailand was held by the Public Relations Department of the Thai National Health Assembly to consider actions to progress this vital safeguard for Thai citizens. Speakers at the event included: Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Public Health Anutin Charnvirakul, Public Relations Department Director-General Lt. Gen. Sansern Kaewkamnerd, and National Health Commission Office Deputy Secretary-General Prida Tae-arak. See: Forum held to realize ‘Asbestos-free Thailand’.
 

Judicial Betrayal in Ravenna

Dec 6, 2021

Italy’s Supreme Court (Court of Cassation) rejected allegations that asbestos deaths at the Ravenna petrochemical plant had been the result of criminal actions, according to a verdict handed down last week. Twenty-five former managers and executives of the company which had operated the industrial site between the 1960s and 2012 had been indicted by the public prosecutors over 95 asbestos deaths. Only six of the defendants – one of whom was deceased – were found guilty in the second degree of negligence in relation to a single case of pulmonary asbestosis. See: Ravenna, morti d’amianto al petrolchimico, la Cassazione: nessun colpevole [Asbestos deaths at Ravenna petrochemicals, Cassation (verdict): not guilty].
 

Asbestos Victory over Insurers in Montana

Dec 6, 2021

On November 23, 2021, by a 6-1 majority 69-page ruling in the case of: National Indemnity Co. V. State of Montana, the Montana Supreme Court affirmed a lower court judgment that a Berkshire Hathaway Inc. subsidiary must pay the State of Montana $97.8 million in asbestos claims and other costs pursuant to a comprehensive general liability policy issued for 1973 through 1975. The Court accepted that the State knew about the existence of hazardous conditions at the site of W. R. Grace and Co.’s vermiculite mine in Libby. Two issues were remanded back to the lower court. See: Montana awarded $97.8M in asbestos insurance claim case.
 

Asbestos Panorama in Latin America

Dec 6, 2021

A paper uploaded last week to the website of the Journal of Public Health Research examined the repercussions of decades of asbestos consumption in Latin America. Only six countries, including Colombia, have banned the use of asbestos. Having reviewed these national asbestos laws, significant weaknesses were highlighted which, said the authors, resulted in dangerous loopholes endangering both occupational and public health. The authors recommended that: “countries that have already banned asbestos consider updating and strengthening their existing laws and develop clinical guidelines for the management, monitoring, and rehabilitation of asbestos-related diseases.” See: Asbestos and cancer in Latin America and the Caribbean: we may have won some battles, but definitely not the war.
 

November 29 Hearing at Asbestos Trial

Dec 6, 2021

Evidence submitted to the Court of Assizes in Novara, Italy on November 29, 2021 by expert witnesses explained and quantified Italy’s “red zones,” areas with high incidences of mortality from asbestos-related diseases. Epidemiologists and medical professionals including Dr. Massimo Capra Marzani, Professor Corrado Magnani and Dr. Dario Mirabelli explained the causation of mesothelioma by reference to types and sites of asbestos exposure, induction, latency/preclinical phase and disease manifestation. See: Mesotelioma, come si «insedia» il tumore dopo l’esposizione all’amianto [Mesothelioma, how the tumor “develops” after exposure to asbestos].
 

Update: Mesothelioma Compensation Scheme

Dec 6, 2021

Established in 2014 as a fund of last resort to pay compensation to claimants who contracted mesothelioma as a result of workplace asbestos exposures, the Diffuse Mesothelioma Payment Scheme (DMPS), according to its annual report, has dispensed £231.7 million (~US$307M) to 1,650 people. In 2019 and 2020, the average amount awarded per case was £144,000 (~US$191,000). The DMPS is financed by an annual levy on active employers’ liability insurers by agreement with the Government. See: Diffuse Mesothelioma Payment Scheme: annual review 2020 to 2021.
 

Asbestos Mining Company Update

Dec 1, 2021

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

Travesty of Justice!

Dec 1, 2021

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

Asbestos Anxiety Claims

Dec 1, 2021

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

Estimates of Asbestos-related Lung Cancer

Dec 1, 2021

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

HSE Asbestos Prosecution

Dec 1, 2021

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

Paris Protest & Action by Asbestos Victims

Nov 29, 2021

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

Mining Company Liable for Medical Costs

Nov 29, 2021

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

Update: Asbestos Removal in Catalonia

Nov 29, 2021

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

Asbestos Dumpsites Full in Italy!

Nov 29, 2021

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

Possible Drinking Water Asbestos Risk

Nov 29, 2021

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

Tragic Death of Colin Clarke

Nov 25, 2021

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

Asbestos Trial: Update from Novara

Nov 25, 2021

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

Asbestos and Urban Transformation

Nov 25, 2021

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

Latest News on Mesothelioma Research

Nov 25, 2021

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

Banning Asbestos Use in Vietnam

Nov 24, 2021

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

Asbestos Exports Fuel Corporate Profits

Nov 24, 2021

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

Eradicating Asbestos in Madrid’s Schools

Nov 24, 2021

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

Death at the Opera House

Nov 24, 2021

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

Asbestos at the Shipyards

Nov 24, 2021

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

Insulting HSE Penalty for Toxic Exposures

Nov 24, 2021

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

More Asbestos Lies

Nov 22, 2021

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

Migration of Asbestos Fibers: New Research

Nov 22, 2021

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

Addressing Regional Asbestos Challenges

Nov 22, 2021

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

Asbestos Trial: Update from Novara

Nov 22, 2021

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

Asbestos Whistle-blower Fights On

Nov 22, 2021

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

Asbestos Compensation Fund 2022?

Nov 22, 2021

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

Increase in Asbestos Output

Nov 18, 2021

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

Parliamentary Asbestos Investigation

Nov 18, 2021

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

Union Action on Asbestos

Nov 18, 2021

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

Victim’s Verdict in Pisa

Nov 18, 2021

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

Mesothelioma: Treatment Update

Nov 18, 2021

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

Victims’ Action in Cádiz

Nov 18, 2021

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

Asbestos Awareness Cooperative Project

Nov 17, 2021

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

Construction Workers Families' Settlement

Nov 17, 2021

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

Remediation Plans for Iconic Asbestos Site

Nov 17, 2021

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

Action on Wittenoom: Update

Nov 17, 2021

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

Portugal’s Toxic Asbestos Legacy

Nov 17, 2021

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

Mesothelioma Follow-up Care

Nov 17, 2021

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

New Mesothelioma Data

Nov 15, 2021

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

Asbestos Death of Former President

Nov 15, 2021

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

J&J Toxic Talc Litigation: Update

Nov 15, 2021

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

Update: Parliament Asbestos Enquiry

Nov 15, 2021

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

Heartache and Grief: Another Day in Court

Nov 15, 2021

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

Legitimacy of Claims over Toxic Anxiety

Nov 15, 2021

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

Vindication of Asbestos Whistle Blower

Nov 12, 2021

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

Déjà vu, All Over Again!

Nov 12, 2021

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

Flow of Illegal Asbestos Imports

Nov 12, 2021

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

Support for Asbestos Victims

Nov 12, 2021

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

Award for Montana Asbestos Medic

Nov 12, 2021

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

Asbestos Compensation and Benefits in Italy

Nov 12, 2021

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

Addressing WA’s Toxic Legacy

Nov 9, 2021

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

Victory for Construction Workers

Nov 9, 2021

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

Asbestos Asphalt Removal in Bordeaux

Nov 9, 2021

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

Legal Precedent Benefits Asbestos Victims

Nov 9, 2021

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

Environmental Asbestos Regulations

Nov 9, 2021

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

Calls for Government Support for Victims

Nov 8, 2021

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

Remove Asbestos, Save the Planet!

Nov 8, 2021

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

Madrid Asbestos Demonstration

Nov 8, 2021

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

Sad News from Western Australia

Nov 8, 2021

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

Regulating Asbestos Removal in Schools

Nov 8, 2021

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

EU Asbestos Action Plan

Nov 8, 2021

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

Accepting China’s Asbestos Reality

Nov 4, 2021

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

2021 Rise in Asbestos Production

Nov 4, 2021

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

Hope for Pulmonary Fibrosis Sufferers

Nov 4, 2021

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

WA Government Fiasco

Nov 3, 2021

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

Asbestos Alert in Turkey!

Nov 3, 2021

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

Island’s Deadly Industrial Legacy

Nov 3, 2021

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

Anxiety Claims on the Rise

Nov 3, 2021

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

State Accepts Asbestos Liabilities

Nov 3, 2021

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

Madrid Asbestos Protest

Nov 3, 2021

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

Johnson & Johnson: Bankruptcy Update

Nov 1, 2021

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

Dangerous Demolition Practices

Nov 1, 2021

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

Asbestos in Schools

Nov 1, 2021

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

Eradicating the Asbestos Hazard

Nov 1, 2021

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

Update: Asbestos Cancer Research

Oct 28, 2021

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

Empty Promises as Asbestos Deaths Mount

Oct 28, 2021

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

Illegal Dumping of Asbestos Waste

Oct 28, 2021

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

Quebec’s Deadly Asbestos Legacy

Oct 28, 2021

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

Guilty of Asbestos Manslaughter!

Oct 27, 2021

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

Asbestos on the Railways

Oct 27, 2021

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

California: New Rights for Victims' Relatives

Oct 27, 2021

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

Quebec’s Environmental Asbestos Disaster

Oct 25, 2021

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

Evidence for Ukraine Asbestos Ban

Oct 25, 2021

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

Toxic Railway Imports into Vietnam

Oct 25, 2021

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

Outreach Initiative for Asbestos Victims

Oct 25, 2021

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

Legal Win for Bereaved Family

Oct 25, 2021

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

Asbestos Eradication in Schools

Oct 25, 2021

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

European Parliament Action on Asbestos

Oct 22, 2021

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

Unions Act on Toxic Imports

Oct 22, 2021

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

Asbestos Industry Growth Reported

Oct 22, 2021

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

Failings of Asbestos Regulations

Oct 22, 2021

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

Demand for Asbestos-Free Materials

Oct 22, 2021

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

Asbestos in Schools

Oct 22, 2021

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

Post-Pandemic Calls to Ban Asbestos

Oct 20, 2021

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

Working to End Asbestos Exposures!

Oct 20, 2021

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

Asbestos Alert in Italy!

Oct 20, 2021

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

Update: Johnson & Johnson

Oct 20, 2021

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

New Data Identifies Asbestos Hotspots

Oct 20, 2021

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

A Deadly Legacy!

Oct 20, 2021

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

J&J Dumps Cancer Liabilities

Oct 18, 2021

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

Ban Asbestos Event in Zimbabwe

Oct 18, 2021

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

Union Calls for Asbestos Eradication Program

Oct 18, 2021

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

Victims’ Verdict in Bari

Oct 18, 2021

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

EPA U-Turn on Asbestos

Oct 18, 2021

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

Compulsory Asbestos Audits

Oct 18, 2021

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

Remembering Tommy Nelson

Oct 15, 2021

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

Maltepe Asbestos Audit Program

Oct 15, 2021

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

Asbestos Loophole Exposed

Oct 15, 2021

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

Calls for Wittenoom Remediation

Oct 15, 2021

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

Asbestos Anxiety Claims

Oct 15, 2021

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

Online Rally Calls for Relief Reforms

Oct 15, 2021

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

Alert over Asbestos Use in Vietnam

Oct 12, 2021

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

New Asbestos Roofing Factory

Oct 12, 2021

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

Asbestos Find Closes Construction Sites

Oct 12, 2021

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

Progress in Banning Asbestos: Update

Oct 12, 2021

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

Secondary Occupational Exposure Case

Oct 12, 2021

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

Government Asbestos Payments Increase

Oct 12, 2021

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

Police to Investigate Asbestos Case

Oct 7, 2021

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

Compensation for Dockyard Workers

Oct 7, 2021

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

Calls to Ban Asbestos in Asia!

Oct 7, 2021

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

Court Supports Factory Victim’s Claim

Oct 7, 2021

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

Asbestos Hotlines

Oct 7, 2021

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

Victim’s Court Triumph

Oct 4, 2021

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

Korean Asbestos Hotspots

Oct 4, 2021

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

Asbestos In Schools

Oct 4, 2021

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

Appeal Court Upholds Victim’s Ruling

Oct 4, 2021

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

Government to Defend Asbestos Industry

Oct 1, 2021

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

Asbestos Industry: Illegal and Immoral

Oct 1, 2021

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

Flouting of National Asbestos Ban

Oct 1, 2021

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

Government Failing Asbestos Victims

Oct 1, 2021

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

Second Mesothelioma Nurse for Welsh Patients

Oct 1, 2021

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

A Toxic Legacy, A Call for Action

Oct 1, 2021

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

France’s Asbestos Catastrophe

Sep 28, 2021

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

Call for Lower Asbestos Exposure Limit

Sep 28, 2021

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

Regional Asbestos Outreach

Sep 28, 2021

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

Update: Mesothelioma Treatments

Sep 28, 2021

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

Reinvention of Former Asbestos Giant

Sep 28, 2021

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

Honeywell Sues Asbestos Trust Fund

Sep 28, 2021

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

Record Number of Mesothelioma Deaths

Sep 23, 2021

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

Toxic Talc Lawsuit Reinstated

Sep 23, 2021

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

Reprieve for Export of Toxic Warship

Sep 23, 2021

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

Wallonia Says NIMBY

Sep 23, 2021

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

New Asbestos Victims’ Outreach Project

Sep 23, 2021

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

2028 Deadlines for Asbestos Eradication

Sep 23, 2021

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

Justice for Power Station Worker

Sep 21, 2021

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

Asbestos Exposure at the Laundry

Sep 21, 2021

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

Direct Action on Asbestos Trial

Sep 21, 2021

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

Takeover of Asbestos Manufacturer

Sep 21, 2021

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

Government Asbestos Workshop

Sep 21, 2021

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

Another BBC Asbestos Death

Sep 21, 2021

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

Asbestos-Free Gaskets from Siberia

Sep 20, 2021

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

Rise in Asbestos Cancers Confirmed

Sep 20, 2021

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

Asbestos Trial: Update

Sep 20, 2021

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

Legacy of Asbestos Mining Community

Sep 20, 2021

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

Fines for Sale of Asbestos Thermos Flasks

Sep 20, 2021

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

Mesothelioma Research: Update from Spain

Sep 20, 2021

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

Calls for Urgent Action on a Toxic Legacy

Sep 17, 2021

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

Allies under the Brussels Sunshine

Sep 17, 2021

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

Immunotherapy Treatment: Update

Sep 17, 2021

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

Environmental and Urban Contamination

Sep 17, 2021

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

NCARD Webinar

Sep 17, 2021

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

Government U-Turn: FIVA Merge Off!

Sep 15, 2021

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

Mesothelioma and Covid-19

Sep 15, 2021

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

Inequitable Ruling by Rome Tribunal

Sep 15, 2021

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

Asbestos on the Metro

Sep 15, 2021

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

Widespread Flouting of Asbestos Regs

Sep 15, 2021

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

Asbestos Trial over Underground Deaths

Sep 15, 2021

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

Post 9/11 Cancer Epidemic

Sep 14, 2021

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

Anxiety Claims Causing “Great Concern”

Sep 14, 2021

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

Basque Victim’s Verdict

Sep 14, 2021

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

Asbestos Eradication in South Korea

Sep 14, 2021

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

Pioneering Project by Swiss Group

Sep 14, 2021

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

James Hardie: Asbestos Educator!

Sep 14, 2021

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

Another Brazilian Asbestos Ban

Sep 13, 2021

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

Ankara Asbestos Initiative

Sep 13, 2021

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

Toxic Asbestos Legacy

Sep 13, 2021

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

Mesothelioma Treatment: Update

Sep 13, 2021

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

SNCF’s New Asbestos Diagnostic Tool

Sep 13, 2021

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

Sama Asbestos Mine Reopens

Sep 8, 2021

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

More Russian Asbestos Lies!

Sep 8, 2021

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

N.Y. Asbestos Prosecutions

Sep 8, 2021

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

Completion of Asbestos Removal Program

Sep 8, 2021

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

Bad News, Good News

Sep 8 2021

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

Opposition to Government Merger Plans

Sep 8, 2021

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

Asbestos Hazard at Philadelphia School

Sep 6, 2021

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

Asbestos on the Metro

Sep 6, 2021

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

Sale of Asbestos-Free Trains to Portugal

Sep 6, 2021

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

Promise to Raise Asbestos Awareness

Sep 6, 2021

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

Asbestos Death of Naval Mechanic

Sep 6, 2021

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

Post-Disaster Asbestos Decontamination

Sep 6, 2021

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

Asbestos Victims’ Benefits Uplift

Sep 3, 2021

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

Export of Toxic Greek Ship Condemned

Sep 3, 2021

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

Compensation for Power Plant Worker

Sep 3, 2021

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

Asbestos Anxiety Payments. Finally!

Sep 3, 2021

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

Asbestos Roof Removal Subsidies

Sep 3, 2021

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

Corsica’s Asbestos Legacy

Sep 3, 2021

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

Environmental Contamination in Aliağa

Aug 30, 2021

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

Ban Asbestos Now!

Aug 30, 2021

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

J&J’s Killer Baby Powder

Aug 30 2021

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

Consolidation of Russian Asbestos Industry

Aug 30, 2021

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

Asbestos in Schools

Aug 30, 2021

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

Merger will Disadvantage Victims

Aug 30, 2021

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

Urals Tourist Attraction: Asbestos Mine

Aug 26, 2021

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

Asbestos Removal Program

Aug 26, 2021

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

Mesothelioma Death on the Farm

Aug 26, 2021

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

Cessation of Asbestos Mining

Aug 26, 2021

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

Asbestos Epidemic 20+ Years after Ban

Aug 26, 2021

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

Asbestos in Toxic Landfill

Aug 26, 2021

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

Legal Victory for Bereaved Family

Aug 24, 2021

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

Opposition to São Paulo’s Arrival

Aug 24, 2021

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

Memorial for Asbestos Victims

Aug 24, 2021

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

Asbestos Cancer Data: Update

Aug 24, 2021

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

Summer Asbestos Offensive

Aug 24, 2021

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

Asbestos Agreement for Madrid Metro

Aug 24, 2021

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

New Asbestos-free Sealants

Aug 20, 2021

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

Suspension of Illegal Asbestos Mining

Aug 20, 2021

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

Mining Asbestos Waste: A Very Bad Idea!

Aug 20, 2021

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

Grassroots Support for Victims

Aug 20, 2021

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

One Man’s Journey to Asbestos

Aug 20, 2021

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

A/C Water Delivery System Safe?

Aug 20, 2021

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

Healthy Profits for Asbestos Factory

Aug 17, 2021

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

Environmental Survey in Asbestos Hotspot

Aug 17, 2021

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

Mesothelioma Trends 1990 to 2017

Aug 17, 2021

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

Asbestos Removal Program: Update

Aug 17, 2021

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

Asbestos Cancer Findings: Brazil

Aug 17, 2021

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

Maritime Legacy of Asbestos Use

Aug 17, 2021

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

Going Asbestos Free in India!

Aug 16, 2021

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

Asbestos Lawsuit against Sheffield Council

Aug 16, 2021

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

A Dying and Deadly Industry

Aug 16, 2021

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

Plans for Asbestos Waste Site Abandoned!

Aug 16, 2021

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

Asbestos Removal in Schools

Aug 16, 2021

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

Asbestos Warehouse on Fire

Aug 16, 2021

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

Court Upholds Cancer Verdict against J&J

Aug 13, 2021

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

Asbestos Products’ Companies Denounced

Aug 13, 2021

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

Spain’s Toxic Asbestos Legacy

Aug 13, 2021

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

Sicily’s Plan for Asbestos Eradication

Aug 13, 2021

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

Court of Appeal Mesothelioma Ruling

Aug 13, 2021

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

Eradicating Navarra’s Asbestos Hazard

Aug 13, 2021

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

Victory for Hokkaido Plaintiffs!

Aug 10, 2021

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

Toxic Toys Recalled in Australia

Aug 10, 2021

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

AI Tool for Asbestos Identification

Aug 10, 2021

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

Interview with UK Asbestos Campaigners

Aug 10, 2021

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

Asbestos Hazard Posed by Power Plant

Aug 10, 2021

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

Asbestos Support: Update

Aug 10, 2021

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

Post-Ban Update in Colombia

Aug 6, 2021

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

Update: Approval for Immunotherapy Drug

Aug 6 2021

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

Wittenoom: The End

Aug 6, 2021

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

Asbestos Removal and Swift Retention

Aug 6, 2021

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

Asbestos Offensive

Aug 6, 2021

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

Asbestos Action in Umbria: Update

Aug 6, 2021

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

Scandal: False Document, Public Hazard

Aug 4, 2021

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

The Deafening Silence of Asbestos

Aug 4, 2021

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

Award for Anna!

Aug 4, 2021

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

Asbestos in Schools

Aug 4, 2021

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

Asbestos in Madrid

Aug 4, 2021

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

Political Dispute Cancels Asbestos Program

Aug 4, 2021

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

Cancer Class Action for Black Women

Jul 29, 2021

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

Government Settles Asbestos Claim

Jul 29, 2021

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

No Asbestos Dump in Mont-Saint-Vincent!

Jul 29, 2021

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

Protecting Asbestos Markets

Jul 29, 2021

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

Addressing Canada’s Toxic Legacy

Jul 29, 2021

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

Hiding Behind Covid-19?

Jul 29, 2021

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

National Asbestos Database

Jul 27, 2021

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

National Asbestos Remediation Program

Jul 27, 2021

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

Asbestos Remediation in Capital City

Jul 27, 2021

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

Under-reporting of ARDs in Brazil

Jul 27, 2021

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

Asbestos Surprise!

Jul 27, 2021

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

Pioneering São Paulo Outpatient Clinic

Jul 27, 2021

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

Job Opportunities at Asbestos Mine

Jul 22, 2021

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

Update: Asbestos Trial

Jul 22, 2021

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

OSHA Asbestos Citations

Jul 22, 2021

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

Asbestos Remediation of Schools

Jul 22, 2021

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

Spike in Asbestos Exports

July 22, 2021

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

Asbestos Trial Proceeding

Jul 22, 2021

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

Avoidance of Toxic Talc Claims?

Jul 19, 2021

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

Asbestos and Gastric Cancer

July 19, 2021

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

Asbestos and Liver Cancer!

Jul 19, 2021

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

Farewell Paco!

Jul 19, 2021

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

Say No to Asbestos Gaskets!

Jul 19, 2021

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

Asbestos Dumping on Madeira

Jul 19, 2021

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

Addressing EU Asbestos Hazard

Jul 16, 2021

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

Peritoneal Mesothelioma: Progress

Jul 16, 2021

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

Catalonia to Eradicate Asbestos

Jul 16, 2021

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

Korean Asbestos Training: Update

Jul 16, 2021

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

Asbestos Prosecution in NSW

Jul 16, 2021

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

Another Mechanic Contracts Asbestos Cancer

Jul 16, 2021

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

Justice: Not Seen, Not Heard

Jul 14, 2021

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

A Visit to Russia’s Asbestos City

Jul 14, 2021

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

Local Government’s New Victims’ Scheme

Jul 14, 2021

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

Mesothelioma Verdict Upheld

Jul 14, 2021

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

Inquiry into HSE Asbestos Policy

Jul 14, 2021

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

Asbestosis in Motor Vehicle Mechanics

Jul 14, 2021

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

BBC’s Asbestos Deaths

Jul 12, 2021

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

Sad Day for Italian Justice

Jul 12, 2021

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

Investigation of HSE’s Asbestos Policy

Jul 12, 2021

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

Mission: Asbestos Bans in Asia

Jul 12, 2021

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

Asbestos Management Training

Jul 12, 2021

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

Manslaughter Charges over Asbestos Deaths?

Jul 12, 2021

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

Legal Victory in Osaka

Jul 10, 2021

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

Andalusia Asbestos Remediation

Jul 10, 2021

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

New Mesothelioma Data

Jul 10, 2021

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

Mesothelioma Causation

Jul 10, 2021

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

Asbestos Remediation in Tamil Nadu

Jul 10, 2021

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

Milan Court Sanctions MoD

Jul 10, 2021

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

Replacement of Asbestos Housing

Jul 7, 2021

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

Inconvenient Asbestos Legacy

Jul 7, 2021

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

Action Mesothelioma Day 2021

Jul 7, 2021

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

Update on Asbestos Remediation Plans

Jul 7, 2021

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

National Asbestos Cancer Epidemic

Jul 7, 2021

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

R.I.P. Marco!

Jul 5, 2021

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

Asbestos Legacy in Western Australia

Jul 5, 2021

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

New York’s Toxic Asbestos Legacy

Jul 5, 2021

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

Asbestos Hazard in UK Schools: Update

Jul 5, 2021

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

Asbestos Hazard on the Subway

Jul 5, 2021

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

Hazard of Asbestos-Cement Roofing

Jul 5, 2021

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

Asbestos Ban in Asia!

Jul 3, 2021

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

São Paulo Carrier: Asbestos Hot Potato

Jul 3, 2021

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

Asbestos Action in Brest

Jul 3, 2021

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

Concerns over Asbestos in Water

Jul 3, 2021

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

Asbestos Action by Spanish Unions

Jul 3, 2021

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

New Asbestos Management Ordinance

Jul 3, 2021

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

Government Asbestos Disease Data

Jun 28, 2021

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

Victim’s Verdict for Submariner’s Family

Jun 28, 2021

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

NIMBY!

Jun 28, 2021

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

Common Sense by Asbestos Master

Jun 28, 2021

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

Asbestos Remediation in Schools

Jun 28, 2021

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

More Asbestos Propaganda

Jun 25, 2021

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

Saskatchewan’s Deadly Asbestos Legacy

Jun 25, 2021

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

Asbestos Exposure at Steel Mill

Jun 25, 2021

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

Prosecution for Asbestos Dumping

Jun 25, 2021

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

Mesothelioma Research: Good News

Jun 25, 2021

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

Asbestos in Schools: Progress

Jun 24, 2021

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

Victim’s Verdict in Liverno

Jun 23, 2021

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

Mesothelioma: Update

Jun 24, 2021

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

Asbestos Hazard for Shipbreakers

Jun 24, 2021

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

Confronting Spain’s Asbestos Legacy

Jun 24, 2021

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

Asbestos Crimes

Jun 21, 2021

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

Asbestos Found at Site of Building Collapse

Jun 21, 2021

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

Asbestos in Schools

Jun 21, 2021

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

Palermo Court Condemns Railway Company

Jun 21, 2021

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

Asbestos Campaign in Northern Ireland

Jun 21, 2021

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

US State Action on Asbestos

Jun 21, 2021

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

Kazakh Asbestos Lobby: Business as Usual

Jun 18, 2021

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

Rally for Asbestos Victims

Jun 18, 2021

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

Asbestos in Schools

Jun 18, 2021

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

Victory for Petrochemical Workers

Jun 18, 2021

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

Madrid Metro’s Mounting Death Toll

Jun 18, 2021

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

Asbestos in Schools

Jun 18, 2021

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

Spain’s Asbestos Shame

Jun 16, 2021

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

Another Railway Death

Jun 16, 2021

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

Asbestos Hazard to Handymen

Jun 16, 2021

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

Who’s Scared of Asbestos?

Jun 16, 2021

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

Municipal Asbestos Eradication

Jun 16, 2021

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

Upholding Asbestos Ban

Jun 14, 2021

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

Asian Bank Bans Asbestos Use in Projects

Jun 14, 2021

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

Early Retirement for Exposed Workers

Jun 14, 2021

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

The Sao Paulo: Asbestos Hot Potato

Jun 14, 2021

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

Victim’s Verdict in Bilbao

Jun 14, 2021

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

Asbestos Hazard to Military Personnel

Jun 14, 2021

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

New Asbestos Criminal Trial

Jun 10, 2021

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

Supreme Court Supports Asbestos Claims!

Jun 10, 2021

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

Asbestos Scheme for Construction Workers

Jun 10, 2021

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

Naming Names!

Jun 10, 2021

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

Progress on Asbestos Reporting

Jun 10, 2021

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

Chrysotile Sales during the Pandemic

Jun 10, 2021

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

Dying for Justice in Japan

Jun 7, 2021

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

Eternit Italy: Update

Jun 7, 2021

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

Protesting Local Shipbreaking Plan

Jun 7, 2021

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

Solar Panels to Replace Asbestos

Jun 7, 2021

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

Asbestos Anxiety Recognized in Lille

Jun 7, 2021

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

Toxic Baby Powder

Jun 7, 2021

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

Stopping Asbestos Imports

Jun 4, 2021

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

Government Acts on Asbestos Inequity!

Jun 4, 2021

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

Mesothelioma Treatment Approved in EU

Jun 4, 2021

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

New Treatment Option for Asbestos Cancer

Jun 4, 2021

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

Toxic Talc Victory!

Jun 2, 2021

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

Supreme Court Asbestos Ruling

Jun 2, 2021

Legal developments in Japan last month were reviewed in the article cited below. The author explained the background to a unified Supreme Court claimants’ verdict for asbestos-injured construction workers from Kanagawa, Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka, 70% of whom had died during the 13 years that the litigation had been proceeding through the courts. The Japanese Government and manufacturers of asbestos-containing building products were held liable for failing to prevent toxic exposures. Claims brought by workers who had been employed out of doors were rejected. See: 建設アスベスト集団訴訟、最高裁で原告勝訴も屋外労働は