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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].
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].
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.
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].
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].
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].
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).
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].
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].
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].
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].
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]].
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 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].
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].
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].
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].
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].
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”].
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].
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].
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”].
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].
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].
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].
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].
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].
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"].
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].
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].
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].
Asbestos Myths and Disinformation
May 5, 2021
The mythology, history and legendary benefits of using chrysotile (white) asbestos were recounted in a Russian language article which contained multiple clues as to the pro-asbestos bias of the author, including phrases such as: “asbestos has become an indispensable companion of mass construction projects”; “Chrysotile asbestos is … [removed from our body] in a short time”; “Chrysotile asbestos is approved for industrial use under controlled use.” See: Удивительная промышленность: легенды о негорящем камне [Amazing Industry: Legends of the Non-Burning Stone].
Asbestos: Heroism or Propaganda?
Apr 29, 2021
Asbestos propagandists, seemingly short of inspiration for their latest asbestos puff piece, have resorted to patriotism and reliving the glory of the post-World War II era when the efforts of the asbestos industry were pivotal in rebuilding the country: “Both during the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union, chrysotile asbestos was regarded as a strategically important resource… In those heroic years, it became obvious that the asbestos industry in any form – from mobilization to peacetime – was a strategically important part of the national economy.” See: Продукция асбестовой индустрии активно применялась в годы Великой Отечественной войны [The products of the asbestos industry were actively used during the Great Patriotic War].
Update: Mesothelioma Research
Apr 21, 2021
An anomaly uploaded to a Russia language website examined developments in treatment options for patients suffering from mesothelioma, the signature cancer caused by asbestos exposure. According to the Russian asbestos industry, there are no asbestos cancers in Russia because the only asbestos used there is Russian-produced chrysotile (white) asbestos which, they say, is not harmful to humans. The author of the article admitted that “According to statistics, in 80% of cases, mesothelioma develops due to asbestos [exposures]… asbestos is one of the most … potent carcinogens, and those who work with it without any protection are at extreme risk.” See: Тройное оружие против «асбестового рака» [Triple weapon against “asbestos cancer”].
Chrysotile Protection Day
Apr 20, 2021
“Chrysotile Protection Day” was marked by asbestos stakeholders on April 16, 2021 to promote the industry’s interests and to attack the “external forces” and “unfair competitors” who advocate for the banning of chrysotile asbestos. The author of the article cited below asserted that Chrysotile Protection Day was “celebrated all over the world;” this, as well as other statements he included – such as the denial of the health hazard posed by human exposures to chrysotile – were based on fiction and not fact. See: День защиты хризотила: более 40 лет хризотил-асбест находится под давлением внешних сил [Day of protection of chrysotile: chrysotile-asbestos has been under pressure from external forces for more than 40 years].
Spring Propaganda Offensive
Apr 16, 2021
A text purporting to be a news article was little more than a press release by asbestos vested interests. The “article,” which appeared on the website of Izvestia – a popular Russian newspaper – extolled the properties of chrysotile (white) asbestos roofing material, going as far as to call it “folk tiles.” Discounting all the safer alternative products as too costly for use, the author asserted that asbestos roofing “almost completely covers the needs of large groups of the population.” Exposure to chrysotile was not harmful as its fibers, the author incorrectly stated, can be dissolved by the body. See: Народный шифер: что нужно знать о самом доступном кровельном материале [Folk tiles: what you need to know about the most affordable roofing material].
Russian Asbestos-Free Building Materials
Apr 7, 2021
The economic, social and political clout that Russian asbestos vested interests have long exercised on the national asbestos dialogue seems to be crumbling day by day. The news just released of a range of asbestos-free building products which will be manufactured and sold in Russia marks a turning point in the world’s largest asbestos-producing country. The new material, which is based on Calcium Silcate, was developed by Russian technical experts via a pilot project in China. Manufacturing of the products will begin in Russia in 2025. See: ИзолМакс — огнезащита нового поколения [IzolMax – new generation fire protection].
Financial Woes of Asbestos Company
Apr 6, 2021
Political lobbying at the highest level in Russia has pleaded for government action to bolster the finances of the country’s major asbestos producer Uralasbest, which a politician from the Sverdlovsk region said on March 30, was carrying an onerous tax burden by being classified as as a “mining and chemical raw materials” company rather than a producer of “non-metallic raw materials used mainly in the construction industry.” See: Мишустина попросили спасти свердловский завод от высоких налогов. Этого ждет весь город [Mishustin was asked to save the Sverdlovsk plant from high taxes. This is what the whole city is waiting for].
Asbestos Cancer in Russia
Mar 30, 2021
Russian and Kazakhstan asbestos stakeholders have long denied that the mining and processing of asbestos was a cause for concern for workers or people living near asbestos mines and factories. A March 26, 2021 article on the website of Tass – “Russia’s leading news agency” – which discussed research breakthroughs into the signature asbestos cancer, mesothelioma broke ranks with official policy stating: “residents of settlements near which fine-fiber asbestos silicate is mined are more likely to suffer from malignant tumors.” See: Нейросеть научили подбирать терапию от вызываемого асбестом рака [Neural network taught to select therapy for cancer caused by asbestos].
Spring Asbestos Offensive
Mar 23, 2021
A Russian commentary which began with a few sentences criticizing environmental campaigners in general proceeded to attack a sub-section of that group: ban asbestos campaigners who, the author said, were engaged in spreading the “asbestos hysteria virus.” The discussion which followed was composed of dissociated issues such as the use of asbestos-cement water pipes in Ireland, Donald Trump’s support for asbestos use, the 2001 attack on the World Trade Center, etc. The text cited data from Warsaw Pact countries, which used chrysotile asbestos from the USSR, to show that the incidence of asbestos cancer there was statistically insignificant. See: Экологическая афера века: медиа-пляски вокруг асбеста [The ecological scam of the century: media dances around asbestos].
Yet More Asbestos Propaganda!
Mar 18, 2021
A piece of propaganda masquerading as an article about the cost of motoring extolled the virtues of asbestos-containing brake pads which “last for a very long time, and are significantly cheaper than their counterparts on the market.” The abandonment of traditional asbestos car parts came about, said the author, as a result of “a massive campaign” against chrysotile (white) asbestos by Western politicians, environmentalists and campaigners spreading “mass hysteria” about the dangers of human exposures. Mouthing discredited propaganda, the text asserted that: “chrysotile asbestos is not harmful to humans when used in a controlled manner.” See: Новые правила ТО: почему нам не дают экономить [New maintenance rules: why we are not allowed to economise].
Volcanoes and Asbestos
Mar 4, 2021
A curious article on a Russian language website extolled the virtues of asbestos materials – citing “the incredible characteristics of asbestos” – for those who may need to research active volcano sites in light of the March 1, 2021 lava breakthrough on the Klyuchevskoy volcano in northern Kamchatka, in Russia’s Far East. Asbestos shoes and cloth were used with some success in 1938 by scientists exploring that 20th century eruption. The author of this text made no mention that since that time, technology has evolved and asbestos-free products are available for use by the volcanologists. See: Вулканология, дрейф на лаве и спецснаряжение: асбестовые башмаки для рекорда [Volcanology, lava drift and special gear: asbestos shoes for the record].
More Asbestos Propaganda
Feb 3, 2021
An infomercial on a Russian language website extolled the virtues of asbestos saying: “Asbestos does not burn, does not melt, does not emit harmful vapors, is resistant to mechanical damage, and is more durable than many steel grades,” but neglected to mention that exposure to asbestos can cause a variety of deadly cancers and debilitating diseases. The text did, however, point out that: “Russia is the world leader in the extraction and production of materials based on chrysotile asbestos, supplying almost half of the world with reliable and durable products.” See: Асбестовые легенды: как минерал путешествует через историю [Asbestos Legends: How a Mineral Travels Through History].
Asbestos: Mixed Messages
Jan 19, 2021
An article uploaded on January 16, 2021 by the State TV and Radio Company of Nizhny Novgorod, a city in Central Russia, sent out mixed messages regarding the health hazard posed by asbestos exposures. On the one hand, the message confirmed that asbestos was “a carcinogen that has caused lung cancer in hundreds of thousands of people. It was widely used until the second half of the last century and undermined the health of builders…” However, on the other hand, the text alleged that “for residents of houses built with asbestos, it does not pose such a danger.” See: Доктор Мясников назвал главную причину рака [Doctor Myasnikov named the main cause of cancer].
Asbestos Health Hazard: Alert
Jan 12, 2021
An article on a Russian language website for the Omsk region acknowledged the link between exposure to asbestos – a valued resource mined in Russia – and lung cancer, stating: “Pulmonologists estimate that in about 20 years one in three lung cancers will be caused by exposure to asbestos dust…” The text of this article pointed out that asbestos roofing “constantly emits dust” and that fibers such as those released by weathered asbestos roofing are “responsible for lung and pleural cancers...” See: Рак легких — от чего еще, кроме курения он возникает? [Lung cancer – what else besides smoking causes it?].
Asbestos Industry Propaganda
Dec 23, 2020
An article about asbestos which appeared on a Russian website discounted arguments about the harmful effects of exposures to chrysotile asbestos, saying that while exposures to other types of asbestos were hazardous, exposures to chrysotile were not dangerous as chrysotile fibers were dissolved in the lungs, thereby eliminating adverse effects. The text affirmed categorically that: “workers and consumers do not suffer from chrysotile,” and highlighted the ubiquity of chrysotile-containing products throughout Russia, stating that the use of chrysotile allowed “us to operate modern commercial, industrial and residential facilities.” See: Неизвестный асбест: мифы и правда вокруг “горного льна” [Unknown asbestos: myths and truth around “mountain flax”].
Asbestos Hazard in Russia’s Far East
Nov 6, 2020
Acting Governor of Russia’s Khabarovsk Territory Mikhail Degtyarev announced plans to rehouse tenants living in “notorious” 70-year-old housing built with asbestos in the village of Berlin, Druzhba – a microdistrict of Komsomolsk-on-Amur city – on account of the hazard posed by living in close proximity to this acknowledged carcinogen. Degtyarev has ordered various Ministries – including the Ministry of Housing and Communal Services – to work together to resolve the issue. See: Михаил Дегтярёв призвал срочно расселить аварийные дома в посёлке Берлин [Mikhail Degtyarev urged to urgently resettle [occupants of] emergency housing in the village of Berlin].
Nov 4, 2020
An online Russian article, informed by asbestos lobbyists, reviewed the ongoing battle to end the use of carcinogenic chrysotile asbestos which, the author alleged, was a commercially-motivated initiative rather than a campaign to protect public and occupational health. Asserting that the latest science – produced to order by asbestos industry-funded scientists – proved the use of chrysotile asbestos was safe, the author stated: “Among the employees of Orenburg Minerals [Russia’s biggest chrysotile asbestos producer], not a single case of an occupational disease was recorded due to contact with chrysotile asbestos.” See: Почему на западе ведут борьбу против хризотиловой промышленности в РФ [Why in the West they are fighting against the chrysotile industry in the Russian Federation].
Asbestos Offensive in Russia
Oct 13, 2020
Industry propaganda masquerading as legitimate online content promoted sales of Russian chrysotile asbestos by listing multiple advantages of using chrysotile products such as their “affordability” and efficacy, all the while omitting to mention the fact that exposure to these products can cause a variety of cancers and respirable diseases. “Chrysotile asbestos products are,” the author wrote “time-tested and proven to be of high quality… The use of chrysotile cement products saves money for other projects.” See: Как продукция из хризотил-асбеста поможет сэкономить, не потеряв в качестве [How chrysotile asbestos products can help you save money without losing quality].
Alert over Toxic Products for Children
Oct 12, 2020
In an article for Russian parents about the hazards of toxic products in consumer goods, the author highlighted the dangers of asbestos-riddled talcum powder in cosmetics used for children: “Laboratory tests have identified residues of carcinogenic asbestos in talcum-based cosmetics for children and adolescents. Geologically, asbestos is usually found in the same rock where talc is mined. There is no safe level of exposure to asbestos, which can settle deep in the lungs and cause mesothelioma or other fatal diseases decades after exposure.” See: МАМА ПРИУЧИЛА: 6 ИНГРЕДИЕНТОВ, КОТОРЫХ НЕ ДОЛЖНО БЫТЬ В КОСМЕТИКЕ [Mothers Warning: 6 Ingredients that Should Not be in Cosmetics].
Launch of Asbestos-free Brake Pads
Oct 9, 2020
In the world’s biggest asbestos-producing nation and the spiritual home of the global asbestos lobby, news that an asbestos-free line of brake pads has been launched is of great import. One of the unique selling points of TMD Friction’s new epad series of Textar brake pads for the Russian and CIS markets is the fact that these products are free of asbestos. Despite their lack of asbestos, the new pads are, according to the company, “distinguished by improved characteristics: no noise during braking, the formation of a small amount of wear products, as well as a shorter braking distance in most road situations.” See: Textar представил новые тормозные колодки [Textar introduces new brake pads].
Supporting Asbestos Interests
Sep 24, 2020
At a recent meeting with Denis Pasler, Governor of the Orenburg Region – home to one of the world’s largest chrysotile (white) asbestos mines – the Russian Minister of Industry and Trade Denis Manturov pledged the Federal Government’s support for the asbestos industry. Manturov said that the development of this industry is of importance to both regional and national economies. There was no mention in this article about the carcinogenicity of asbestos or the global campaign to ban asbestos use. See: Минпромторг РФ поддержит хризотиловую отрасль в Оренбуржье [The Ministry of Industry and Trade of the Russian Federation will support the chrysotile industry in the Orenburg region].
Cancer Spike in Asbestos Heartland
Aug 10, 2020
In the last decade, the incidence of cancer in Russia’s Orenburg region – home to one of the country’s largest chrysotile asbestos mines – has grown by 22%. The author of this article rehashed asbestos industry propaganda which purport that the use of chrysotile asbestos is harmless blaming the increasing cancer rate on the harshness of the sun – “The evil steppe sun” – and the increasing longevity of Russians. See: Оренбургская область и рак: Ясный оказался в числе благополучных регионов [Orenburg region and cancer: Yasny was among the prosperous regions].
Jul 31, 2020
During a July 29, 2020 fact-finding trip of Mikhail Degtyarev – Acting Governor of Khabarovsk Krai (one of Russia’s largest territorial units) – residents of Komsomolsk City mounted a protest outside the town hall over the health hazard posed by their living in asbestos-riddled apartments in the “Berlin” neighborhood. The demonstrators asked for the Governor’s intervention in helping them secure alternative accommodation, free from asbestos, rats and fleas. The toxic properties were constructed as temporary housing for builders in the 1980s; much of the material used came from Germany. See: Жители Комсомольска-на-Амуре пожаловались Дегтяреву на крыс и асбест [Residents of Komsomolsk-on-Amur complained to Degtyarev about rats and asbestos].
Asbestos Tourist Town in the Urals
Jul 27, 2020
In an online article about unusual but rewarding tourist destinations in Russia, a visit to the Uralasbest asbestos mining town in the Urals comes highly recommended. Guided tours of the eight kilometer wide quarry, the factory and the museum are organized by the company. Reading like a corporate press release, the article reported that: “The Ural enterprise is one of the largest and oldest producers of chrysotile asbestos in the world,” accounting for 21% of annual global output and 41% of Russian output every year. Eighty per cent of Russian chrysotile production is exported. See: Туристам расскажут, кем работал на уральском заводе президент Тайваня [Tourists will be told about when the Taiwan President worked at the Ural plant].
Asbestos Tourist Attraction
Jun 23, 2020
At a June 23 press conference in Chelyabinsk – the 2nd largest city in Russia’s Ural Federal District – Presidential funding of 1.3 million rubles was announced for an industrial heritage project to memorialize the mining of chrysotile asbestos at the Kholisty mine in the Southern Urals. The developer of the tourist attraction was the South Ural Public Fund for the Promotion of the Preservation of Cultural Heritage; at the press conference, their spokesman explained the facilities on offer at the new facility including: a navigation system, information stands, recreation areas and viewing platforms. See: Под Миассом появится «Призрак горы Французской» [Near Miass will appear the “Phantom of the French Mountain” (heritage site)].
More Asbestos Lies?
Jun 19, 2020
Highly unlikely assertions are made in an article on a Russian website which alleged that young divers in the US Navy are required to wear asbestos fire suits and run through the compartments of nuclear submarines as part of qualifying procedures. The author of this text stated that: “Fireproof suits made of fireproof “mountain flax” [chrysotile asbestos] are included in the compulsory equipment of the US Navy submarine team.” Enquiries are being pursued with US authorities to ascertain whether this statement is true. See: Асбестовая рубашка для молодого подводника: традиции ВМФ США [Asbestos shirt for a young diver: traditions of the US Navy].
Yet More Asbestos Misinformation!
May 25, 2020
Another Russian article about the decision to withdraw Johnson & Johnson’s iconic baby powder from sale in the US and Canada was used to reassert asbestos industry propaganda regarding the “harmless” nature of chrysotile (white) asbestos. The author pointed out that: “chrysotile asbestos poses the least danger to people… [and] has been successfully used for decades and continues to be used in Russia, the CIS countries, Latin America and Southeast Asia. There is no ban on the use of chrysotile asbestos even in the USA.” See: Культивируемый в США страх перед асбестом позволил развернуть кампанию против Johnson&Johnson [US-cultivated fear of asbestos boosts campaign against Johnson & Johnson].
Asbestos Industry Offensive
May 21, 2020
Using news that Johnson & Johnson is withdrawing its toxic baby powder from sale in the US and Canada as a hook, a Russian article refloated industry propaganda defending chrysotile (white) asbestos; Russia is the world’s largest supplier of chrysotile fiber and Russian asbestos lobbyists continue to mount an aggressive global campaign promoting sales even in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic. Propaganda in this article included statements such as: “According to available scientific studies, chrysotile asbestos is safe for controlled use” and “chrysotile is not dangerous to human health.” See: Американский онколог поставил под сомнение правомерность иска к Johnson&Johnson [American oncologist questioned the validity of the lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson].
May 18, 2020
Poorly camouflaged propaganda extolled the use of chrysotile asbestos building products in Russia today. The author described the use of asbestos material in renovation work and new builds of schools, arenas and public housing and highlighted the work of Orenburg Minerals – Russia’s biggest producer of asbestos – before concluding: “Management companies, construction contractors and municipal authorities choose chrysotile, because it is suitable for any climate and weather conditions, easy to operate and will last for many years.” See: «Оренбургские минералы» и капитальный ремонт: Россия выбирает хризотилцементные материалы [Orenburg Minerals and Renovation: Russia Chooses Chrysotile Cement Materials].
Asbestos Lobby Misinformation
Apr 30, 2020
A misleading article on a Russian website asserted that a recent ruling by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) concluded that the human health risk posed by exposure to asbestos was “exaggerated” and that “the controlled use of asbestos-containing materials did not pose a threat to the environment.” In fact, the EPA’s Draft Risk Evaluation for Asbestos published in March 2020 found that: “workers, occupational non-users, consumers, and bystanders could be adversely affected by asbestos under certain conditions of use.” See: Риск преувеличен. Агентство в США оценило использование асбеста [The risk is exaggerated. US Agency Appraises Use of Asbestos].
Russia’s Future Asbestos-Free?
Mar 23, 2020
A Russian language article about modern architecture, green construction and ecological solutions to construction challenges stated that: “The concept of ‘green’ is not limited to a certain landscaping of local territories and building facades. It is also about quality and compliance with environmentally friendly building materials. A striking example is asbestos, which was used in mass construction, and is now completely banned in the construction of buildings.” See: Мегаполисам прописали сертификацию. Города скоро будут генерировать половину выбросов парниковых газов [Prescribed certification for megacities. Cities will soon generate half greenhouse gas emissions].
Russian Attack on Biden Campaign
Mar 23, 2020
A scurrilous article on a Russian website attacked the presidential campaign of Joe Biden claiming his supporters included firms that made billions from lawsuits against defendants including Johnson & Johnson, the administration of New York City and others. The article, which named the firm of Weitz & Luxenberg that “boasts on its website that its lawyers have won about $8.5 billion in asbestos cases,” concluded that: “Biden is supported by people with a very dubious reputation… the Democrats always had connections with the anti-asbestos lobby in the United States, but now the evidence has surfaced ...” See: Джо Байдена в президентской гонке спонсируют юристы, связанные с антиасбестовой кампанией [Joe Biden sponsored by anti-asbestos campaign lawyers in presidential race].
Asbestos Industry Infomercial
Mar 18, 2020
A pro-asbestos Russian diatribe masquerading as a light-hearted romp through the history of chrysotile (white) asbestos cited uses of the substance in devices for tanks and machine guns, covers for books by Ray Bradbury and Stephen King, protective clothing for firefighters and building material. It refuted anti-asbestos rhetoric as unfounded and unscientific, asserting that: “The most enduring and widespread myth of asbestos is its harm to human health… [and that] chrysotile asbestos mined in Russia is a safe material when used under controlled conditions.” See: Легендарный асбест: мифы, курьезы и правда о «горном льне» [Legendary asbestos: myths, funny things and the truth about “mountain flax”].
Asbestos Carrot & Stick
Mar 16, 2020
Russian asbestos stakeholders have embarked on a marketing offensive informing construction company officials and professionals about the advantages of using chrysotile asbestos building products in a desperate attempt to counter the increasing popularity of asbestos-free material. Industry lobbyists are reminding potential customers that as of July 19, 2019 contract tenders are no longer allowed to stipulate the exclusion of asbestos products from building projects in Russia. See: Хризотиловая продукция повышает качество и уменьшает стоимость проведения капремонта [Chrysotile products improve quality and reduce the cost of overhaul].
More Russian Asbestos Propaganda
Mar 13, 2020
An article on a Russian website exploited the lack of asbestos awareness in Quebec to promote sales of chrysotile asbestos, quoting the results of a survey which reported that 93% of those questioned were unconcerned about the hazard posed by contamination of the former asbestos mining region. The author repeated contentious asbestos propaganda which asserted that once inhaled, fibers were rapidly dissolved and therefore posed no risk to human health. “There are,” the author said “no epidemics of diseases in the Russian monotowns Yasnoy and Asbest, where chrysotile is still mined to this day.” See: Хризотил безопасен: результаты опроса в канадском Асбесте [Chrysotile safe: Canadian Asbestos survey results].
Mar 10, 2020
A recent online article discusses Russian legislation – implemented on July 1, 2019 – disallowing property owners and building professionals from specifying the use of asbestos-free products in contracts and tenders related to renovation and construction projects. However, the substance of the piece is little more than a rehash of asbestos industry propaganda extolling the virtues of home-grown chrysotile (white) asbestos: Russia is the world’s biggest supplier of chrysotile asbestos, a substance banned in dozens of countries. See: Капремонт в России: подводные камни обновления жилья [Overhaul in Russia: pitfalls of housing renovation].
Recommended: Asbestos Textiles
Mar 4, 2020
An article on a Russian regional news agency website urged citizens to prepare emergency kits to combat domestic fires; an essential component of this kit was an “asbestos cloth” for extinguishing fires or protecting people from flames. The article claimed the fabric was made of a substance which “does not burn, does not melt, and does not emit harmful fumes when heated.” What the author omitted to say was that the textile contained up to 100% asbestos fiber and was amongst the most highly friable of all asbestos products. This friability makes the liberation of respirable asbestos fibers highly likely. See: Полотно из асбеста – эффективный инструмент для тушения пожара [Asbestos cloth – an effective fire extinguishing tool].
Asbestos Propaganda in India and Russia
Feb 24, 2020
The findings of a disputed 2019 “study,” categorized by Indian campaigners as yet another “scam” by asbestos industry stakeholders has been reported in Russia as evidence supporting the “safe use of asbestos” propaganda disseminated by industry. The article asserted that: at the Russian Uralasbest asbestos mining plants “not a single case of an occupational disease was recorded” in 2018 and that “products created from chrysotile asbestos are not just a safe, but natural, environmentally friendly, durable and affordable solution to many problems.” See: Новое исследование подтвердило безопасность хризотила при контролируемом использовании [New study confirms chrysotile safety in controlled use].
Asbestos Exposure and Cancer
Feb 4, 2020
An article on the website of the Russian Federal Service for Surveillance on Consumer Rights Protection and Human Wellbeing to mark World Cancer Day highlighted the health hazard posed by asbestos. The text considered lifestyle changes that could reduce the likelihood of cancer and explained the risk posed by genetic factors and environmental hazards. “Among the external factors that provoke the development of tumors,” the authors stated “are ultraviolet and ionizing radiation, chemical carcinogens such as asbestos and components of tobacco smoke, and some infections.” Russia is the world’s largest producer and exporter of chrysotile asbestos. See: Больше спорта, меньше пиццы: как защититься от рака [More sports, less pizza: how to defend yourself against cancer].
Our Hometown: Asbest
Jan 20, 2020
A Russian website has translated and uploaded a Danish article analysing the attraction of living in the Russian town of Asbest (Asbestos). Despite the fact that asbestos is a carcinogen responsible for thousands of deaths every year, local people still have strong ties to the city and a desire to follow family members into the asbestos industry. The reporter quoted spokesmen who said the city was a “victim of the hysterical anti-asbestos lobby… In Asbest, it is widely believed that the asbestos ban is part of an international conspiracy invented in Europe to give an advantage to the production of other materials competing with asbestos.” See: Jyllands-Posten (Дания): здесь люди живут благодаря асбесту [Jyllands-Posten (Denmark): people live here thanks to asbestos].
Russian Cancer Epidemic
Jan 17, 2020
An article uploaded to the website of the Moscow Post on January 14, 2020, highlighted the deplorable living and working conditions for the population of the Russian asbestos mining town “Asbestos,” saying: “there are no healthy children in the city… [and], there are a lot of cancer patients.” In 2012, the cancer incidence in the city at 493 cases per 100,000 people was the highest in the Sverdlovsk Region; in 2015, this figure had risen to 572 and there was a mortality rate of 292 cases per 100,000 – the average regional rate was 218. See: “Дорожная карта” Шмотьева в “обход” закона? [“Shmotiev's Roadmap” to “circumvent” the law?].
New Year, Old Lies
Jan 6, 2020
One of the top features on a Russian website on January 5, rehashed propaganda supporting the continued use of chrysotile (white) asbestos, asserting that despite being banned in 63 countries, asbestos could be safely used under controlled conditions. Asbestos was, the author asserted, Donald Trump's “favorite stone” and “the current US President… actively advocates for its defense.” Citing multiple examples of historical asbestos use, the author noted that “mass hysteria” in America over asbestos had been a gold mine for lawyers and asbestos removal firms even though “Russian scientists unanimously reiterate that, subject to safety measures, asbestos is an extremely useful mineral.” See: ЛЮБИМЫЙ КАМЕНЬ ДОНАЛЬДА ТРАМПА [Donald Trump's favorite stone].
Asbestos Hazard in Russia
Oct 23, 2019
For decades, a stranglehold has existed regarding the dangers posed by asbestos exposures in Russia, the world’s largest producer of white asbestos. A Russian article just published quoted a leading Russian health and safety expert as follows: “Three substances from the list of the World Health Organization (WHO), such as asbestos, lead and mercury, should be considered the most dangerous for Russians… According to the WHO, all types of asbestos cause lung cancer, mesothelioma, laryngeal cancer, ovarian cancer and pulmonary fibrosis. However, asbestos can be found everywhere in Russia.” See: Эксперт назвала самые опасные химические загрязнители для россиян [The expert named the most dangerous chemical pollutants for the Russians].
Oct 14, 2019
This article on a Russian website highlighted everyday exposures to ordinary things which could prove fatal, including asbestos – stating categorically that: “Asbestos is dangerous to health.” This statement is unusual in that the image of asbestos is carefully preserved in Russia as it is the world’s largest asbestos producer and the leading force behind asbestos marketing efforts around the world. The text pointed out that exposure to asbestos, which is found in many building materials, could cause various cancers including mesothelioma and that for this reason the EU had banned its use. See: 5 повседневных вещей, которые на самом деле опасны [5 everyday things that are really dangerous].
Asbestos Brakes: A “Safe Option”
Oct 10, 2019
Propaganda masquerading as an article appeared on a Russian website extolling the virtues of chrysotile asbestos brakes. According to the author, the physical and chemical characteristics of asbestos makes it an ideal component for brake pads for cars, trains, trucks, all-terrain vehicles and many other types of specialized equipment. “Scientific papers,” commissioned by the asbestos industry, are cited to substantiate the assertion that the use of chrysotile asbestos is not harmful under “controlled conditions.” See: Полезные и спорные: тормозные колодки из асбеста [Useful and controversial: asbestos brake pads].
Oct 8, 2019
Scientists in the US and Russia reported the effects of toxic environmental exposures in Russia’s Sverdlovsk region. Breathing in air contaminated with asbestos, arsenic, cadmium, manganese, copper, lead, fluorine, hexavalent chromium, zinc, benzene, formaldehyde, sulphur dioxide, chloroform and other toxins has reduced life expectancy by six months and led to increased rates of disability as well as fatal and debilitating diseases. See: Дышите глубже: ученые рассказали, почему на Урале женщины не могут рожать, мужчины – болеют раком и преждевременно умирают, а дети отстают в психическом развитии [Breathe deeper: scientists told why in the Urals women cannot give birth, men get cancer and die prematurely, and children lag behind in mental development].
“Persecution” of Asbestos Industry
Oct 7, 2019
On October 2, 2019, a Russian language article alleged that both red meat and chrysotile asbestos had been falsely damned by the use of unsafe science. Discounting conclusions reached by scientists regarding the adverse health effects of red meat consumption as incorrect, exaggerated and hasty, the unnamed author of the Russian text headlined Proof of Guilt: How to Fan Hysteria from a Piece of Beef alleged that scientific skullduggery and corrupt journalism were the principal weapons used to “persecute” both the meat industry and the chrysotile asbestos industry. See: Доказательство вины: как раздуть истерию из куска говядины [Proof of Guilt: How to Fan Hysteria from a Piece of Beef].
Oct 4, 2019
Four very similar articles appeared on October 1 and 2, 2019 on Russian websites about attacks on Russia’s asbestos industry. The article noted below purported to examine the arguments for and against using asbestos. Citing industry-commissioned research and outdated reports, it concluded that the safe use of chrysotile asbestos was possible under controlled conditions. Another article (see: http://izvestia64.ru/news/215064-prodolzhaetsya-protivostoyanie-rossii-i-zapadnyh-stran-v-borbe-za-asbest.html] was more explicit – referring to a “hidden trade war” and saying: “Russia continues to wage a long struggle with Western countries for the industrial use of asbestos.” See: Безвреден для здоровья? Кто и почему пытается запретить асбест [Harmless to health? Who is trying to ban asbestos and why?].
Oct 2, 2019
A heavily pro-asbestos article on a Russian website described the global battle to ban asbestos by health and safety campaigners as a trade war, citing Ivan the Terrible’s aggressive and deadly trade policy as a plausible option for dealing with foreign commercial rivals. The author cited industry-commissioned “scientific research” and out-dated policies of the World Health Organization to substantiate claims that Russian chrysotile (white) asbestos “cannot harm the human body” and “is completely safe.” It alleged that the motivation for the campaign to ban asbestos was financial and that asbestos remained essential for the lives of populations in 2/3 of the world’s countries. See: Битва за волокно [The battle for [asbestos] fiber].
Sep 30, 2019
Ructions continue over pollution caused by the production of paronite – asbestos rubber sheeting made of chrysotile (white) asbestos for gaskets – in the town of Pershino, located in the Chelyabinsk region of Russia. Protests by local people over the deleterious effects of exposures to the toxins liberated by manufacturing processes at the factory have been lodged with administrative and judicial authorities – yet not one inspection of the factory has taken place. The responses to the complaints about the factory indicate the existence of a Kafkaesque situation in which each department and authority contacted denied any responsibility for the situation. See: Паронитовый заводик в Першино вредит под чиновничьей “крышей” [Paronite factory in Pershino harms under bureaucratic “protection”].
Asbestos Removal in Moscow
Sep 24, 2019
By the end of 2019, all asbestos-cement roofing on apartment buildings in “Old Moscow” will be replaced with roofing made from galvanized steel sheets; these renovations were approved by the authorities. Work to remove the asbestos products has been ongoing for some while and only 40 properties remain unremediated. According to Viktor Logvinov, the First Vice-President of the Russian Union of Architects: “Slate [asbestos-cement tile] is very fragile, dangerous and short-lived… Now there is a wide selection of roofing materials that are long-lasting and safe for humans. Galvanized steel is one of them.” See: Сталь вместо асбеста [Steel instead of asbestos].
Asbestos Causes Cancer!
Sep 5, 2019
Russia, for decades the world’s largest supplier of asbestos, has long denied that exposure to asbestos caused any ill health effects despite the global consensus that such exposure could cause fatal cancers as well as debilitating diseases. In a piece published online on September 4, the chief oncologist of the Ministry of Health was quoted as saying that a main cause of cancer was exposure to “classified chemicals, such as asbestos…” As Russian asbestos industry representatives and government officials continue to deny the existence of asbestos-related diseases, this statement is significant. See: Главный онколог минздрава назвал три основных фактора развития рака [The chief oncologist of the Ministry of Health names three main factors for the development of cancer].
Asbestos Pollution in Russia
Aug 23, 2019
This article referenced below contrasts the high-profile electioneering activities in the Russian city of Chelyabinsk of Governor Alexei Texler with his negligence over complaints regarding pollution created by a factory producing paronite – asbestos rubber sheeting for gaskets made with chrysotile asbestos – located in close proximity to a residential area. An action group led by Alexander Shmal had some success when production was suspended in January 2018 by the Sovetsky District Court of Chelyabinsk due to non-compliance with environmental standards. Within a month, production restarted under the aegis of a “new company” and behind a higher fence. See: Предвыборный пиар от Алексея Текслера [Election PR from Alexei Texler].
Asbestos: “A Wonderful Life”
Aug 20, 2019
The “puff piece” referenced below highlights the history of asbestos mining in the Urals, extolled the importance of the Uralasbest company which employs 7,000 of the 63,000 people living in the monotown of Asbest and described the operations needed to extract asbestos fiber from rock. The section which described the “anti-asbestos campaign” noted that the “fight for chrysotile” is “successfully” being waged around the world by half a million people – including representatives of asbestos processing and producing sectors, trade unions and scientific institutions. See: «Ураласбест»: путь хризотил-асбеста от руды до множества продуктов [Uralasbest: the path of chrysotile asbestos from ore to many products].
Mandatory Promotion of Chrysotile
Aug 19, 2019
Rules introduced in Russia on July 1, 2019 outlawed the submission of construction work tenders which forbid the use of chrysotile and chrysotile-containing products. Extolling the multiplicity of advantages of modern chrysotile products – low cost, high degree of strength and safety, extremely resistant to mechanical stress, etc. – the article referenced below alleged that an international campaign to discredit chrysotile had convinced Russian consumers of the asbestos hazard and depressed national consumption. See: Борьба с суевериями: как скажется изменение правил аукционов на хризотиле? [Fighting superstitions: how will changing the rules of tendering affect chrysotile use?].
Aug 14, 2019
Russian asbestos propaganda promoting the advantages of using chrysotile (white) asbestos in brake pads cited research findings by asbestos industry-commissioned scientists such as David Bernstein, Rick Rogers and Paul Smith, which discount the human health hazard posed by exposures to chrysotile asbestos; publications by Denis Paustenbach, an expert often used by defendants in US asbestos lawsuits, Craig Poland and Roger Duffin are cited to counter claims regarding the health hazard to mechanics of working with chrysotile brake pads. See: Борьба за хризотил: тормозные колодки на прицеле у ученых [The fight for chrysotile: brake pads - scientific update].
Asbestos Exports to Asia
Aug 12, 2019
An article on a Russian language website boasted of increasing sales of Russian chrysotile asbestos to countries in Asia, including Laos, China, India, Cambodia, Indonesia and Vietnam, due to its unparalleled chemical, physical and cost advantages. The short infomercial concluded that: “In the region where most of the world's population lives, there is always a high need for cheap, durable and reliable housing. That is why chrysotile is chosen for the construction of affordable and premium housing by both state-owned companies and private construction corporations.” See: Хризотил-асбест: импорт минерала в страны Юго-Восточной Азии неуклонно растет [Chrysotile asbestos: mineral imports by Southeast Asia growing steadily].
Asbestos-free Brakes Recommended
Jul 29, 2019
An article on a Russian news portal recommended the use of asbestos-free brake pads as replacement parts for motor vehicles, saying that the alternative products containing asbestos were harmful to human health as well as the environment. Asbestos-free brake pads made with polymers, mineral or organic fibers were, the author reported, widely sold in EU countries which have banned asbestos and were becoming more popular in Russia. Russia is the world’s leading supplier of asbestos fiber and Russian vested interests lead a multi-lingual and well-financed campaign to promote asbestos sales around the world. See: Почему лучше отказаться от асбестовых тормозных колодок [Why it is better to refuse asbestos brake pads].
Asbestos Trade Deal
Jul 8, 2019
On July 5, 2019, representatives of the Russian asbestos producer Uralasbest and Cuban businessman Erich Rodriguez signed a trade deal in the Russian asbestos mining town of Asbest agreeing that 6,000 tons of asbestos would be exported to Cuba by the end of the year, with the first consignment of 1,000 tons being shipped in July 2019. During his visit, Rodriguez was given a guided tour of the open-pit mine, the processing plant and the company’s museum. According to Yury Kozlov, General Director of Uralasbest, the agreement signalled the end to concerns regarding global efforts to ban asbestos. See: Ураласбест» поставит на Кубу более 6 тысяч тонн хризотила [Uralasbest “will deliver to Cuba more than 6 thousand tons of chrysotile”].
Strong Demand for Chrysotile Asbestos
Jul 5, 2019
An analysis by the Eurasian Economic Commission – an association based in Russia and representing the interests of Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Russia – of current trends in the global chrysotile asbestos market reported that for the first quarter of 2019, 237,500 tonnes (t) of chrysotile asbestos were produced by member states with 186,300t (worth $52m) exported to India, China, Uzbekistan, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Vietnam, Ukraine, Bangladesh and others. See: Производимый предприятиями ЕАЭС хризотиловый асбест является высоко конкурентоспособным на мировом рынке [Chrysotile asbestos produced by enterprises of the EAEU is highly competitive in the global market].
Asbestos Fight-back by Industry
Jul 4, 2019
As support for a ban on the use of chrysotile asbestos for roofing grows in Vietnam, with a deadline set of 2023 to phase-out all use, multiple efforts are being made by vested interests to effect a U-turn in government policy, including a junket from Vietnam led by a Deputy Minister of Construction Nguyen Van Xin to visit the chrysotile mine in the Urals and a propaganda offensive in the Vietnamese press (see: https://khoahocdoisong.vn/amiang-trang-hai-hay-khong-124034.html). According to press reports, Deputy Minister Nguyen Van Xin said that the purpose of the visit was to learn about the “controlled use of asbestos” as practised in Russia. See: Замминистра Вьетнама прибыл на Урал за горным льном [Chrysotile asbestos brings Vietnamese Deputy Minister to the Urals].
Asbestos Demonstration in Russia
Jul 3, 2019
A demonstration took place in the village of Severny, in the Urals district of Russia, on June 29, 2019 over asbestos emissions from a factory owned by oligarch Sergey Shmotiev. According to campaigner Andrey Gostev the company’s use of asbestos, a class 1 carcinogen, and dumping of contaminated waste was of great concern to local residents. The protesters accused the company’s owners of sacrificing the lives of workers and members of the public: “While the officials are getting fat, we are choking and dying.” See: Они жируют, а мы умираем». На Урале прошёл митинг против власти и олигарха Об этом сообщает [“They are getting fat and we are dying.” (Asbestos) rally in the Urals against the government and the oligarch].
Rise in Asbestos-Free Technology
Jul 2, 2019
At a meeting in the capital building of Bashkiria, a Russian Republic, Director of the Sterlitamak Slate LLC Ivan Dubrovin announced last week that his company was investing in technology to manufacture “environmentally friendly” asbestos-free cement building products – facades, roofing and materials for interior decoration –suitable for export; work on the transfer of all production to asbestos-free products had begun and one production line was already making the safer products. See: В Стерлитамаке запустят производство фиброцемента и экологически чистого шифера [Production of fiber cement and environmentally friendly slate will be launched in Sterlitamak].
More Asbestos Propaganda
May 24, 2019
In a press release disseminated by the International Alliance of Trade Union Organisations “Chrysotile”, erroneous claims are made that “chrysotile asbestos is the safest commercial fibre”; that “banning chrysotile asbestos could have potentially disastrous consequences”; and that “those who oppose chrysotile have no convincing arguments to support banning the mineral.” These falsehoods are being reiterated by asbestos industry stakeholders to justify their veto of United Nations action to protect vulnerable populations from potentially deadly exposures to chrysotile asbestos during the 2019 meeting of the Parties to the Rotterdam Convention. See: Rotterdam Convention Meeting Concludes in Favour of Chrysotile Asbestos.
May 1, 2019
On April 29, 2019, the International Alliance of Trade Union Organizations “Chrysotile” (the Alliance) issued a press release congratulating workers from Russia, Kazakhstan and other countries involved in the chrysotile industry who celebrated Chrysotile Asbestos Protection Day on April 16, 2019. The Alliance communique alleged that the “controlled use of chrysotile is indispensable” and cited research which “proved” that “when used under controlled conditions, chrysotile is safe both for workers employed in asbestos production facilities and for end-consumers.” See: Workers of the Chrysotile Industry Celebrate Chrysotile Asbestos Protection Day.
Apr 12, 2019
The Russian Government, which banned tea imports after Sri Lanka announced plans to prohibit the import of asbestos roofing materials from Russia as of January 1, 2018, has now signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Sri Lanka Ministry of Health in Colombo which explains that future Russian asbestos exports to the country will be “non-hazardous.” Sri Lanka is the world’s largest importer of Russian asbestos sheets. See: Россия будет производить неопасный асбест для Шри-Ланки [Russia will produce non-hazardous asbestos for Sri Lanka].
Apr 8, 2019
An article in the New York Times on April 7, 2019 examined moves being made to rehabilitate Russian asbestos – including changing the name to chrysotile – by industry stakeholders, politicians, union officials and even doctors from the Russian asbestos monotown of Asbest. Dr. Igor Bragin, from Asbest City Hospital, dismissed 2016 findings that “mortality rates for cancers of the lung, stomach and colon were statistically significantly higher in Asbest city” than in the surrounding region as “not corresponding to reality.” Asbestos executive V. Kochelayev said: “I cannot say it is totally safe… but it can be used in controlled situations without danger.” See: In Asbest, Russia, Making Asbestos Great Again.
More Asbestos Propaganda?
Mar 29 2019
A notably unbalanced feature article appearing on the “Znak” Information Agency website (a Russian online portal) on March 27, 2019 made reference to Donald Trump’s support for the continued use of chrysotile in the US, reiterated the conspiracy theories about anti-asbestos activists so favoured by pro-industry lobbyists and was uncritical of ongoing efforts by the International Chrysotile Association and others to again prevent the listing of chrysotile as a hazardous substance at the upcoming Rotterdam Convention meeting. More might have been expected of author Dmitry Kolezev: while pointing out that a global ban could affect 250,000 Russians he failed to acknowledge the millions still threatened by asbestos-related diseases. See: Znak марта тематическая статья [Znak March 27 feature artcle].
Pro-Asbestos Lobby Onslaught
Mar 18, 2019
In a press release by the International Alliance of Trade Union Organizations “Chrysotile” – a Russian-led mouthpiece for the asbestos industry – the decision by the Eurasian Economic Commission to develop a unified position on the international trade of chrysotile asbestos which could be used to block UN efforts to regulate asbestos exports was warmly welcomed. In 2017, a spokesman for the International Alliance for Trade Union Organizations “Chrysotile” supported the objections of representatives from the Russian Federation, Kyrgyzstan, Belarus and Kazakhstan to the inclusion of chrysotile asbestos on a UN list of hazardous products. See: Eurasian Economic Commission Supports Chrysotile Asbestos.
Asbestos Attack on UN
Mar 7, 2019
During February and March discussions were progressed by the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) – a political, military and economic union of countries in central and northern Asia and Eastern Europe, including leading asbestos stakeholders Russia and Kazakhstan – regarding the development of a coordinated policy to combat measures by member states of the UN’s Rotterdam Convention to implement restrictions on the global trade of chrysotile asbestos, an acknowledged carcinogenic substance. See: Строительный «горный лен» попал в осаду Евросоюза [Construction “mountain flax” [asbestos] under siege of the European Union].
Asbestos Attack on UN
Feb 8, 2019
Under the umbrella of the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) – representing Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Russia – steps are being progressed to defeat United Nations efforts to regulate the global trade in asbestos under the Rotterdam Convention (RC) which will next meet in Geneva in April-May 2019. Following a meeting in Moscow on February 5, 2019, the Board of the Eurasian Economic Commission announced that EEU members will work together to defeat UN attempts to list chrysotile asbestos on Annex III of the RC. See: Страны ЕАЭС намерены выработать общую позицию по хризотиловому асбесту [EAEU countries intend to develop a common position on chrysotile asbestos].
Feb 4, 2019
In an article published online on January 31, 2019 by Andrei Golm, Co-President of the Russian non-profit organization Chrysotile [Asbestos] Association, Golm reassured consumers and workers that: “Scientists and doctors from Russia and other countries agree: chrysotile asbestos is safe for controlled use” and that “chrysotile (white) asbestos with controlled use does not pose a threat to health.” In addition, Golm noted: “Products made of chrysotile cement are approved for use in construction in the Russian Federation in accordance with the hygienic standards GN 2.1.2 / 184.108.40.2069-00 approved by the chief sanitary doctor of Russia.” See: 6 самых важных фактов об асбесте [6 most important facts about asbestos].
Dec 31, 2018
An article attempting to neutralize the widespread Russian media coverage of the asbestos scandal which has caused a collapse in share prices of the US multinational Johnson & Johnson (J&J), asserts that international studies do not confirm that exposure to asbestos causes cancer: a study is cited which analysed data from 2,000,000 women and concluded that “asbestos does not have a connection with the occurrence of the illness [mesothelioma].” According to the author of this text, the “unpleasant situation,” in which J & J currently finds itself is a result of the corruption of statistics and the unscrupulous actions of US lawyers and judges. See: Спорный случай. Как асбест превратился в «минерал раздора»? [Controversial case. How did asbestos become a “mineral of discord”?].
Dec 4, 2018
This article about the rising level of Russian non-commodity exports, states that “Asbestos products… [are] the leaders of growth.” According to government data, from January to November, 2018, Russia exported 400,000 tonnes of raw asbestos fiber to more than 20 countries including: India, China, Indonesia, Uzbekistan and Thailand. Diversification of the industrial asbestos sector has improved economic prospects with the production of asbestos-containing building materials such as asbestos roofing and asbestos-cement pipes proving lucrative. See: Несырьевой экспорт продолжает рост [Non-commodity exports continue to grow].
Asbestos in Space?
Oct 25, 2018
A press release uploaded on October 24, 2018 by the International Trade Union Movement for Chrysotile, an association representing asbestos industry stakeholders, rejoiced in news that the Russian space industry decided to use products containing chrysotile in the construction of in-orbit objects, citing a Russian information portal as the source of the news that “ an asbestos-cement laminate was used in the vehicle skin.” We have not been able to ascertain the veracity of the claims made above. See: Trade Unions’ International Alliance “Chrysotile” Welcomes the Use of Chrysotile in the Space Industry.
Please Buy Our Asbestos!
Oct 1, 2018
Despite the Vietnam Government’s declaration that it plans to ban asbestos use in construction materials, Russian asbestos producers continue efforts to sell asbestos to Vietnam via various channels including diplomatic meetings such as one which took place in September 2018 between Evgeny Kuyvashev, the governor of the Sverdlovsk region – the source of Russian asbestos – and Ngo Phuong Ngi, the consul general of Vietnam. During the meeting Kuyvashev reminded Ngo Phuong Ngi that Vietnam “is a traditional consumer of the Urals chrysotile-asbestos.” See: Губернатор встретился с генконсулом республики [Kuyvashev offered Vietnam asbestos and participation in the construction of the Metro.]
Verbal Attack on Ukraine
Jul 16, 2018
A vituperative Russian language online article condemns Ukraine’s Ministry of Health saying: “most of the acute problems of today’s life of Ukrainians are somehow connected with the Ministry of Health (MoH)...” In 2017, the MoH announced that asbestos would be banned in Ukraine; the prohibitions were overturned by the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) as a result of which the MoH launched a lawsuit against the MoJ (see: Ukraine’s Fight to Ban Asbestos: Update). This one-sided diatribe asserts that there are much more important issues for the MoH to address than its obsession with banning asbestos, a substance which covers 75% of Ukrainian houses. See: МОЗ против асбеста: кто виноват и что делать? [MOH against asbestos: who is to blame and what to do?]
Banning Asbestos in Russia?
Jul 6, 2018
An online Russian article considers the inconceivable – what would happen if Russia banned asbestos. Detailing the economic importance of Uralasbest – the asbestos mining company which employs 5,000 of the 66,000+ inhabitants in the monotown of Asbestos – the author highlights steps taken by vested interests to prevent prohibitions including the mobilization of popular support, the implementation of political stratagems at home and abroad and the war of words between Russian asbestos lobbyists and global ban asbestos campaigners. See: Полмира считает асбест смертельно опасным веществом. Что будет, если его запретят в России? [Half the world considers asbestos a deadly substance. What will happen if it is banned in Russia?].
Our Asbestos is Safe!
Jun 29, 2018
A Russian language article highly critical of the Russian asbestos industry published on June 20, 2018 has been attacked by Uralasbest, a Russian company which is the world’s largest asbestos producer. The company accuses the author of bias and ignorance using well-worn and discredited industry propaganda: chrysotile (white) asbestos is safe, chrysotile fibers incorporated in cement products are safe as they are “locked” into a cement matrix, inhaled chrysotile fibers are decomposed by acid in the lungs, etc. See: Спор об асбесте: уральское предприятие вступило в дискуссию с изданием «Медуза» [Asbestos dispute: Ural enterprise enters into discussion with publication on Medusa website].
Donald Trump: Asbestophile
Jun 26, 2018
The pro-asbestos position maintained by Donald Trump over many years has been recognized and appreciated by workers at the Uralasbest factory who have produced a batch of chrysotile asbestos which has been stamped with a sticker saying: “Approved by Donald Trump, 45th President of the United States.” The writing and an image of Trump, both of which are in red, are placed within a red circle as a gesture of gratitude for the President’s support of their industry in the face of growing global support for the ban asbestos movement. See: Уральское предприятие выпустило партию хризотил-асбеста с наклейкой «Одобрено Трампом» [Ural company produced a batch of chrysotile-asbestos with a sticker “Approved by Trump”].
Russian Asbestos-free Brakes
Jun 25, 2018
On June 21, 2018, a 50 million ruble facility was opened in the Altai Territory in western Siberia to produce asbestos-free brake pads worth 200 million rubles a year. Speaking at the formal ceremony to commission the plant, Viktor Tomenko, Acting Governor of the Altai Territory, recognized the global trend to ban asbestos and the need to produce safer substitute materials. Director of the enterprise Artem Shamkov said: “Initially, the finished products will be destined for the secondary market of asbestos-free brake pads for global manufacturers of trucks and buses, like Mercedes, Volvo and others.” See: Барнаульский завод АТИ будет выпускать продукцию для Mercedes и Volvo [Barnaul plant ATI will produce products for Mercedes and Volvo].
Expose of Russian Dirty Tricks
Jun 21, 2018
A Russian language article on a Latvian news website documents the desperation of asbestos vested interests in Russia and resultant drastic measures being taken by them, including the publication of a comic book with a hero called “Chrysotile,” competitions for students to encourage the use of asbestos in building products, conflicts of interest of Russian scientists with proven links to the chrysotile industry working with the IARC to “research” the occupational impact of asbestos exposures, etc. See: Асбест вызывает рак. В России его все равно добывают и используют в строительстве [Asbestos causes cancer. In Russia, it is still mined and used in construction].
Telling the Truth in the Urals
Jun 21, 2018
An article about the health hazard posed by human exposures to asbestos has been published on a website in the Urals, the asbestos mining region of Russia. The headline and the contents refute industry propaganda that Russian asbestos is not hazardous. Although the contents of this piece have been sourced from an article on the Meduza website, it is noteworthy that the Meduza website is based in Latvia and this article appeared on a website based in the Urals, Russia. See: Расследование: В Ясном производят асбест, он вызывает рак [Investigation: Asbestos, it causes Cancer].
Asbestos and Cancer
Jun 14, 2018
A Russian language article on a news website in the Republic of Karelia, formerly an autonomous region and now part of Russia, which discussed six common causes of cancer, began with a discussion of the health hazard posed by exposures to asbestos. Explaining the history of asbestos use and the proven links between asbestos exposures and cancer, the text warns of the hazards posed by asbestos in the soil, air, and water; although considerably downplaying the risks, the author highlights the threat posed by contaminated buildings. See: 6 обычных вещей, которые могут вызвать рак. С некоторыми из них вы сталкиваетесь ежедневно [6 common things that can cause cancer, some of them you come across daily].
Vilification of Ban Asbestos Campaign
Jun 12, 2018
Taking aim at ban asbestos campaigners, alleged to belong to “the power elite of the United States,” a Russian article voices support for President Trump’s “rational” views on asbestos, reiterating his long-standing belief that asbestos is “100 percent safe when it is applied” and that those who oppose its use are part of a “movement against asbestos … headed by the mafia.” The author says that the actions taken by the Environmental Protection Agency under Trump’s protégé Scott Pruitt could prevent the US from banning asbestos, an objective which is the President’s “solemn will.” See: Трамп обрушился на антиасбестовое лобби [Trump struck at the anti-asbestos lobby].
Jan 10, 2018
As the fall-out from the Russian embargo on imports of Sri Lanka tea intensifies (see: ITUC Media Release), Russia’s Ambassador to Sri Lanka continues to deny that exposure to Russian chrysotile (white) asbestos constitutes a hazard to human health, telling journalists that “Russian Chrysotile… is not harmful. Russian workers working in the industry for the last thirty years are fine, no one reported to have had cancer…There are many workers who handle chrysotile in the mines with bare hands, and they are fine.” See: Russian Federation wants bigger trade with Sri Lanka; talks on Tea, asbestos.
Dec 29, 2017
A Russian journalist has speculated that the motivation for an ongoing Russian embargo on Brazilian meat imports was the Brazilian Supreme Court’s decision declaring asbestos use unconstitutional and not the presence of a banned substance in a Brazilian pork shipment. As in the Sri Lanka tea embargo (see Asbestos Endgame: 2017?) where the presence of Khapra beetle in a consignment of tea was used as the excuse for the trade ban, in this case the discovery of ractopamine – a feed additive prohibited under Russia–Brazil import agreements – was given as the reason for the Russian decision. See: Россия ввела эмбарго на поставки мяса из Бразилии [Russia imposes embargo on meat from Brazil].
Russian Asbestos Initiative
Dec 22, 2017
The winners of a competition by Russia’s Chrysotile [Asbestos] Association to encourage engagement by architectural students with asbestos were announced at the Ural Federal University, Yekaterinburg. While the first such contest of its kind was restricted to entries from Russia, plans are being made to allow the participation of students from asbestos using countries such as Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Belarus, Turkmenistan and Ukraine “to demonstrate clearly the possibility of using the unique qualities of chrysotile asbestos in construction.” See: Россия выбрала лучший архитектурный проект из хризотила [Russia chose the best chrysotile [asbestos] architectural project].
Asbestos Industry Onslaught
Nov 3, 2017
Students in Belgorod, Russia were targeted by an asbestos salesman in a lecture last month to encourage the use of asbestos cement by architects. From online reports, it seems the event followed the same pattern as propaganda exercises in the cities of Kazan and Nizhny Novgorod where students were also informed of the virtues of asbestos and shown product samples before being told of cash prizes for winners of a competition to design projects using asbestos for updating the urban environment. See: Белгородские студенты-архитекторы обновят городскую среду с помощью изделий из хризотилцемента [Belgorod architects will update the urban environment with products from chrysotile cement].
Russian Asbestos to Paraguay?
Oct 26, 2017
Evgeny Kuyvashev, the Governor of the Sverdlovsk region – Russia’s asbestos heartland – took part in trade negotiations between Russian officials, including the Russian Industry and Trade Minister Denis Manturov, and Paraguay’s Minister of State for Construction and Communications Ramon Jimenez Gaona and his team, during a trip to Latin America. Russian news reports claim that Kuyvashev offered to sell “cheap asbestos” to Paraguay, a country which in 2013 supported a UN motion to regulate global sales of chrysotile asbestos (see: Rotterdam Convention 2013 Dossier of Daily Reports). See: Свердловская область готова сотрудничать с Парагваем в сфере строительства [Sverdlovsk region cooperating with Paraguay in the field of construction].
Asbestos Propaganda Machine
Oct 21, 2017
On October 12, 2017 architectural students at Kazan Construction College in Tatarstan, Russia became the latest targets of asbestos industry propaganda when they were addressed by Vladimir Petrovich Uglev, technical director of the “Chrysotile Association,” a body dedicated to promoting sales of asbestos. One week earlier (see: Asbestos Lobby Targets Students), students at Nizhny Novgorod State University of Civil Engineering had been lectured by Vladimir Galitsyn, a director of the same association. Students were urged to participate in a competition by submitting designs for asbestos projects. See: Студенты-архитекторы из Казани заново открыли для себя хризотил [Architectural Students from Kazan rediscover chrysotile].
Asbestos Lobby Targets Students
Oct 14, 2017
Russian asbestos stakeholders are ratcheting up efforts to spread industry propaganda, last week targeting architectural students at the Nizhny Novgorod State University of Civil Engineering. During a lecture by Vladimir Galitsyn, director of the Chrysotile Association, the virtues of chrysotile (white) asbestos were extolled and students were encouraged to use chrysotile construction material. This is one of a series of lectures scheduled for higher and secondary special institutions in Russia. A competition to encourage chrysotile cement use in Russia supplements the current industry offensive. See: Шифер возвращается и остается [Slate comes back and stays].
Distortion of Science
Oct 11, 2017
In a misleading press release issued today (October 11, 2017) by the pro-asbestos “International Trade Unions Movement for Chrysotile,” research by Spanish scientists is twisted to confirm “the safety of chrysotile (white asbestos).” In fact, the authors despite having only found amphibole fibers in Spanish lung samples, concluded that “Spain and other southern European countries… [are] at a high risk to develop asbestos-related diseases in the years to come.” The relative speed with which chrysotile can be cleared from the lungs is a red herring; even 48 hours of chrysotile exposure can initiate disease formation. See: “Groundbreaking Scientific Study Proves Chrysotile asbestos is not a Cause of Disease”.
Asbestos: Occupational Hazard
Oct 6, 2017
A Russian language online article recapping the contents of a feature published on October 4, 2017 in Canada’s Globe and Mail newspaper states that asbestos is one of the top causes of occupational cancer in the Canadian Province of Ontario. “Asbestos is a threat to life and health… and remains the most dangerous carcinogen” causing 770 occupational cancers in Ontario every year as well as 15 cases of larynx and ovarian cancers. See: Ученые выявили главные факторы возникновения рака на работе [Scientists have identified the main factors of cancer at work].
Asbestos Under Fire
Aug 29, 2017
Criticism of asbestos use has arisen during debates over highway construction in Kazan, capital of the Tatarstan Republic, Russia with Tatarstan’s President Rustam Minnikhanov criticizing the Ministry of Transport and challenging reassurances given by Andrey Golem, the head of Orenburg Minerals JSC – one of the world’s leading producers of chrysotile asbestos – regarding the use of asbestos in road construction. Minnikhanov asked Golem if asbestos was a “poison.” Artem Chukin, from the Transport Ministry, said that past experience showed that chrysotile was not suitable for road building. See: Минниханов — минтрансу: «Г..…е дороги делаете!» [Minnikhanov vs Ministry of Transport].
Jul 3, 2017
A Russian article took to extreme depths the depravity of asbestos lobbyists who blamed the fire at the Grenfell Towers, London on the fact that asbestos-containing products were not present. Their offensive diatribe contained many errors, as revealed by an alert issued by Public Health England about the health hazards of the asbestos fallout from the conflagration. Ignoring, as the industry propagandists always do, the fact that safe asbestos-free products exist, the author insinuated that environmental activists were to blame for the loss of life due to the international campaign to ban asbestos. See: Асбестовая изоляция могла защитить Гренфелл Тауэр от пожара [Asbestos insulation could have prevented Grenfell Tower fire].
May 31, 2017
An online article in Russian boasts that the Russian Government, in collusion with others, prevented the UN from taking action on regulating the global trade in chrysotile (white) asbestos at a recent meeting in Geneva. Relying on industry misinformation, this article states that “inclusion in Annex III … means the actual prohibition of the use of the substance.” This is completely untrue; listing on Annex III requires that information by exporting countries about potential hazards be provided to potential importers so that they might make informed decisions. See: Правительство РФ заблокировало попытки запретить асбест [The Russian government blocked attempts to ban asbestos].
Asbestos Yes; Antimony No
Mar 27, 2017
Residents of the Russian town of Asbestos – home to a chrysotile (white) asbestos mine “nearly half the size of Manhattan” – are up in arms about plans by the National Antimony Company to build a factory processing antimony in the town. Politicians addressing a rally last week expressed concerns about the “very harmful” impact possible emissions from the plant could have on the health of local people. A petition circulated at the rally collected hundreds of signatures. Plans to build the plant in Degtyarsk were abandoned after protests. See: Тысячи граждан протестовали против нового завода Ротенберга — Асбест [Thousands of citizens protested against the new Rothenberg plant – Asbestos].
Carcinogen OK, Poison Not
Feb 23, 2017
People and politicians in the Russian town of Asbest – who defend the use of chrysotile (white) asbestos, a human carcinogen – are calling for a public consultation over whether the construction of a factory processing antimony should be permitted, citing public health concerns regarding the poisonous effects on human beings of antimony exposures. The National Antimony Company’s plans to build in Degtyarsk were abandoned after mass protests by activists and environmentalists. See: «Мы не хотим жертвовать здоровьем»: в Асбесте депутаты готовят протест против нового завода [“We do not want to sacrifice health”: Asbest MPs prepare protest against new plant].
A Trump World?
Jan 17, 2017
A few of so many serious concerns about life under President Trump are expressed in a new article on the website of Right on Canada. Author Kathleen Ruff cites text from an email by Dr. Sergey V. Kashanski, a Russian scientist, with known links to the asbestos industry. In the message dated January 14, Kashanski writes: “Maybe Trump restores order in asbestos. Let’s wait…” In previous statements Trump dismissed the scientific evidence against asbestos claiming that it was “100 percent safe, once applied” and that “the movement against asbestos was led by the mob.” Thousands of people die every year from asbestos diseases in the US. See: Russian scientist hopes that US President-elect Trump will “restore order in asbestos.”
Omens for US Asbestos Revival?
Jan 4, 2017
An article on a Russian website is predicting that measures under a Trump Presidency will include the downgrading of regulations preventing asbestos use. Referencing statements made both before and during the election, the journalist concludes that the powers of the Environmental Protection Agency will be greatly watered down and asbestos materials will enjoy a new popularity: “The most obvious way to reduce costs in the construction industry is to end the restrictions on the use of chrysotile asbestos.” Trump is quoted as blaming the 2001 collapse of the twin towers on their lack of asbestos fireproofing. See: Асбест возвращает доброе имя [The good name of asbestos returns].
Asbestos Trade Data 2015
Oct 28, 2016
A new report calculates that the international asbestos trade in 2015 was worth $344 m with Russian exports valued at $191m, 56% of global exports. Between 2007 and 2015, Russia’s percentage of global asbestos markets rose from 41% to 56%. In 2015, the other asbestos producing countries were Brazil, Kazakhstan, China and India; in that year, the leading asbestos markets were in India, Indonesia, China, Sri Lanka and Vietnam. Between 2007 and 2015, asbestos imports to Indonesia rose by 14.1% per year. See: Russia Strengthened Its Dominance in The Global Asbestos Exports.
Swedish Asbestos Expose
Oct 27, 2016
The epidemic of asbestos-related deaths in the Russian town of Asbestos has been revealed by an investigation for a Swedish daily newspaper. While asbestos industry profits remain strong, workers’ pay is low, one fifth of what it would be in Sweden, and cancer rates are high with four cases in one family interviewed by the journalist. Attempting to discredit the content of this expose, a Russian commentator reported that the “cancer incidence in Asbestos is not above average in the Sverdlovsk region” and that quotes from former municipal and regional officials were unreliable. See: Четыре раковых больных в семье — вот это шок! [Four patients with cancer in the family - that's a shock!]
Compensation for Asbestos Worker
Jul 18, 2016
A worker from the Russian town of Asbest has succeeded in a court claim for occupational injury due to hazardous exposures to asbestos at a factory owned by Uralasbest, the world’s largest producer of chrysotile asbestos. Sverdlovsk prosecutors collected evidence from other employees which substantiated allegations of unsafe working conditions. The company was ordered to pay compensation of 30,000 roubles (US$473) for negligence as a result of which the worker became 30% disabled. See: В Асбесте сотрудник завода на треть утратил трудоспособность из-за [Asbestos factory worker one third incapacitated due to hazardous conditions].
Construction of Asbestos-free Housing
Jun 15, 2016
Estate agents for a “green” building complex due for completion in 2020-2021 in New Zelenograd, 40 miles from central Moscow, are marketing residential units with information about energy efficiency due to specialized window glass, drinkable tap water sourced from a doubly filtered water intake and the use of asbestos-free products. Promotional material acknowledges that asbestos is a carcinogen that has been banned in Europe; in Russia, however, asbestos remains widely used “for facade panels, insulation, bricks, sealants and so on.” This new development will only use asbestos-free materials. See: «Зеленые» технологии в массовом сегменте [“Green” technology for the mass market].
Industry Offensive in Asbestos Homeland
Apr 19, 2016
Russian online media reported on April 18 that two asbestos companies in the Sverdlovsk region could be facing bankruptcy because of actions by the European Union which, say the article, are based on faulty information. Chrysotile asbestos is perfectly safe as company representatives show in footage accompanying this article – local children are filmed building with asbestos products and wearing company tee shirts. The most notable detail about the pro-asbestos rally shown in the video is the small number of people in attendance. See: Камень преткновения: уральцы вышли на митинг в защиту хризотила [The stumbling block: the Urals rally in defense of chrysotile].
Urban Ruin of Asbestos Capital
Apr 12, 2016
The Russian City of Asbestos (Asbest), a formerly prosperous one-industry town, is beset my multiple problems and has, so an online feature suggests descended into urban chaos. Having lived in the town for a few days, the investigating reporter documents a collapse in employment opportunities and multiple failures in the provision of basic amenities, housing and communal services. While the town relies on meagre government subsidies, the asbestos company which dominates municipal life pays its shareholders 900+ million roubles. See: Асбест. Город олимпийских чемпионов и коммунального ада [Asbestos. City of Olympic champions and utilities hell].
Trouble in Asbestos Paradise?
Jan 18, 2016
The JSC Scientific Research and Design Institute of the Asbestos Industry is the Russian asbestos industry’s technical institute; the company and its premises have been put up for sale with a deadline of March 15, 2016 for the submission of tenders. The institute also undertakes non-asbestos work including technological research and development for the chemical, construction, agricultural and mining sectors. It is not yet clear what the sale will mean for the 102 people who work at JSC. The possibility of the institute being closed down cannot be discounted. See: Город Асбест потихоньку продают с молотка [Quick Sale of Asbestos Industry Institute].
Economic Woes in Asbestos Heartland
Dec 3, 2015
Russian asbestos production accounts for 56% of all the asbestos used worldwide every year. With billions of dollars at stake, the Russian asbestos lobby exploits every opportunity to promote sales and counter actions by those working to promote public safety by banning asbestos. Despite aggressive commercial and national pro-asbestos policies, there have been “massive redundancies” at Uralasbest, Russia’s largest asbestos mining company, which has further exacerbated the economic difficulties for people living in the town of Asbestos in recent months. See: Асбест — новая «горячая точка» Куйвашева [Asbestos - a new “hot spot” Kuyvasheva].
Changing Russia’s Asbestos Dialogue
May 29, 2015
Campaigners are increasingly challenging pro-asbestos propaganda distributed in Russia’s asbestos heartland. An online article published this week quotes statements by environmentalist Elena Vasilieva, head of the NGO Volgograd-Ecopress, detailing the human health hazard posed by asbestos exposure not only to factory workers but to members of the public who live or work in properties containing asbestos materials. See: Елена Васильева: «Экологи единодушны: производство асбеста опасно для здоровья» [Elena Vasilieva, “Environmentalists are unanimous: the production of asbestos is hazardous to health”].
Asbestos-free Products Sold in Russia
Jul 9, 2014
Russia has for some years been the world’s largest supplier of asbestos fiber with an annual production figure of around 1m tonnes. The Russian asbestos industry is powerful and well-connected so it is reassuring to know that despite the industry’s best efforts asbestos-free products are being made in Russia. The link below is to an article which cites the landmark Italian case against asbestos criminal Stephan Schmidheiny and the fact that the WHO and IARC declare asbestos to be a human carcinogen. The text highlights the dangers of asbestos and supports the use of safer asbestos-free alternatives. See: Осторожно асбест! [Caution – Asbestos!].
Fear and Loathing in Asbest, Russia
Nov 19, 2013
Journalists working on a project on the future of Russian monotowns reported a high level of anxiety and fear in the Russian town of Asbest, home to Ural Asbest's open-pit asbestos mine. There is, they found, widespread concern about the future of the company which employs 10% of the population, in light of perceived threats from the "mysterious forces of the international anti-asbestos campaign." Security service personnel maintained a watchful and threatening eye on the journalists' activities and a person interviewed was summarily fired for speaking to them. According to the article: "Every second person [at Ural Asbest] has asbestosis." See: The People of the Pit.
TV Program Highlights Asbestos Hazard
Apr 8, 2013
On March 26, Russian State TV broadcast an episode of "Life is Good," a health program anchored by a doctor from a leading medical institute. One of the issues covered was the human hazard posed by exposure to asbestos. The program explained that exposure to asbestos in domestic properties built more than 15 years ago could cause asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma. The use and location of asbestos-containing materials were discussed and warnings were given about the risk of exposure during repair or refurbishment work. The public admission of the danger posed marks a breakthrough in Russia's dialogue on asbestos. See: Life is Good; March 26 broadcast.
Russian Pressure Defeats Thailand's Ban?
March 1, 2013
An article on the RightonCanada website reports that interference by Russian asbestos lobbyists has blocked plans to implement national asbestos prohibitions in Thailand, a major importing country. An English translation of a Russian document states that following a meeting of the Subcommittee on Russian-Thai trade and Economic Cooperation, a Russian spokesman announced that: "Russia and Thailand have agreed to [the] deferment of measures to prohibit the import of chrysotile asbestos..." See: Russia crushes a plan by the government of Thailand to ban asbestos.
Public smoking ban: June 1
Feb 27, 2013
Plans have been announced to curb smoking in Russia via the introduction of restrictions on cigarette sales and bans on smoking in public places. Four hundred thousand Russians die from tobacco-related diseases per year. China and Russia are the first and second largest cigarette markets; they are also the first and third largest users of asbestos. High levels of lung cancer in both countries are not coincidental: tobacco and asbestos interact synergistically to multiply an individual's chances of contracting lung cancer. Public health advocates urge all asbestos-exposed people to stop smoking. A ban on asbestos in both countries is advised. See: Putin signs law to curb smoking.
Transition of Asbestos Lobby Leadership
June 1, 2012
An asbestos conference due to be held in Moscow this month marks the transition of the leadership of the global asbestos campaign from Canada to Russia. Even as desperate efforts are being made to breathe life back into the moribund Canadian asbestos mining industry, Russian stakeholders stand ready and able to assume command of the commercial attack on markets in developing countries such as is being seen in Thailand. Research undertaken on a UN database shows that sales of asbestos from Russia and Kazakhstan ($229.5 m in 2009) accounted for 57% of global asbestos consumption. See: UN Commodity Trade Statistics Database and Thailand's Asbestos Liars.
Attack on UN Protocol to Escalate
Mar 20, 2011
Producing a million tonnes of chrysotile asbestos a year, Russia has long sought to frustrate attempts by the UN's Rotterdam Convention (RC) to include chrysotile on a list of toxic substances. Working with other vested interests, it was able to do this while a non-member of the Convention. Now that the Russian President has signed the law on accession to the RC (March 10, 2011), it is to be expected that the asbestos veto will remain in place. According to a Moscw-based observer, the (Russian) Chrysotile Association was "key in lobbying the Russian Government to accede to the Convention."
Asbestos Meeting in Russian Capital
Oct 28, 2010
A landmark meeting in Moscow (Oct 14-15) provided the first occasion for a public debate on asbestos to take place in the Russia, the leading nation in asbestos production. Speakers from European countries which have banned asbestos explained the background to their countries prohibitions and the ongoing problems caused by historic asbestos consumption. During the meeting, an issue of the Russian magazine "ECOS" was launched. This issue, which has been described as an "information bomb on asbestos in Russia," examined the hazards of asbestos use, the existence of safer alternatives and the history of the global ban asbestos movement. See: Press Release.