News Item Archive

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Displaying 25 items in reverse date order starting from item 1544

Asbestos Diagnosis Camp

Sep 30, 2015

On September 24, 2015, a diagnosis camp was set up by the Occupational Health and Safety Center at the Kolkata premises of the Kamal Tiwari trade union. This site was across the street from the Everest Industries asbestos factory. The manufacture of asbestos-cement construction products started there in 1938 under the ownership of the British company T&N Ltd. Fifteen workers and/or former workers were screened by Dr. V. Murlidhar and his medical team; four were diagnosed with asbestosis. Claims for these injuries will be made against the T&N Trust; claims for two other similarly affected workers from this factory have succeeded. See: Photo of workers being interviewed by medical team.

Court Supports At-Risk Workers

Sep 30, 2015

An injunction upheld on Sunday, September 27, 2015 by the 6th Labour Court of Campinas, a Brazilian municipality in São Paulo State, outlawed the practice whereby trade unions accepted financial support from asbestos industry employers on the grounds that by doing so the unions compromised their ability to represent members. The civil action by the Ministry of Labor argued that this funding and other practices could adversely affect the health of asbestos-exposed workers. See: MPT consegue liminar em ação contra entidades ligadas à cadeia do Amianto [Ministry of Labor injunction stopping asbestos industry funding of trade union upheld by Court].

Mesothelioma Legal Action Extension

Sep 29, 2015

On September 28, 2015, the Government of Gibraltar published a Bill to amend the Limitation Act as a result of which people with mesothelioma caused by occupational exposure to asbestos whilst employed by the Crown will be allowed to bring legal proceedings even if the prescribed deadline has elapsed. Although global asbestos trade data shows zero asbestos consumption in Gibraltar over recent years, it is not known whether the use of asbestos has been banned. Enquiries are in progress to ascertain whether asbestos is banned. See: Govt open to challenge on cases of child abuse and mesothelioma.

Eternit’s Global Asbestos Tentacles

Sep 28, 2015

An analysis of the business interests of former asbestos billionaire Stephen Schmidheiny, uploaded to the Italian webzine Carmilla last week, framed a discussion of the fallout from current asbestos-consuming operations by the Eternit Group, at one time owned by the Schmidheiny family, within a global context. The feature contrasted the strict prohibitions on hazardous exposures in countries which have banned asbestos with the daily exposures experienced in non-ban countries such as Mexico and Brazil. See: Il filo rosso dell’amianto e di Stephen Schmidheiny tra Italia e America Latina [Stephen Schmidheiny’s red thread of asbestos between Italy and Latin America].

Mesothelioma in Italy: A Consensus

Sep 25, 2015

A report just published details the consensus reached by scientists who convened during a session on mesothelioma which took place at a conference in Italy in January 2015. Of the 3.64 cases of mesothelioma in Italy per 100,000 people (in 2011), 10% were due to non-occupational exposures. Recommendations included: increased cooperation on mesothelioma data collection by cancer registries, regional centers and pathologists; the provision of information on risks and smoking cessation to at-risk individuals. See: III Italian Consensus Conference on Malignant Mesothelioma of the Pleura. Epidemiology, Public Health and Occupational Medicine related issues.

Roadmap to Phase-out Asbestos Use

Sep 25, 2015

An asbestos workshop was held in Hanoi on September 22, 2015 by the Vietnam Union of Science and Technology Associations, the Health Ministry’s Environment Health Management Department and the Vietnam Ban Asbestos Network during which speakers discussed various facets of the national asbestos policy and highlighted hazards posed by the continuation of consumption. The Government is now developing a roadmap for the phasing out of asbestos in roofing products by 2020. There are currently more than 40 factories throughout the country manufacturing asbestos roofing material. See: Asbestos in roof sheets still a threat to workers.

Global Asbestos Pandemic

Sep 24, 2015

An editorial by Jukka Takala entitled: Eliminating occupational cancer has just been published in the Journal of Industrial Health. Takala’s text is categorical about the damage done by asbestos exposure, dismissing previous estimates of the number of annual global deaths issued by the WHO, the ILO and others and stating that: “In the European Union the combined number of deaths will amount to 47,000 lung cancer and mesothelioma deaths caused by asbestos (every year). This still misses other work-related cancers, caused by asbestos, such as larynx and ovary, and possibly stomach, colorectal and pharynx cancers.” See: Eliminating occupational cancer.

Workers Win Asbestos Case

Sep 24, 2015

New Zealand’s Employment Relations Authority has ruled that two tradesmen had been unjustifiably constructively dismissed by their employer, building company Goleman Limited, which knew that asbestos contamination had been found at the site where the men had been working – Christchurch Hospital – eight days before informing them. Neil Silcock and Liam Milner resigned from jobs repairing the hospital roof after learning of their hazardous exposures. The company is considering an appeal. According to the men’s lawyer, the failure to provide a safe workplace constituted “a serious breach” of the company’s obligations. See: Employer exposed tradies to asbestos.

Ban Asbestos Debate in Congress?

Sep 23, 2015

A Congressional debate on Colombia’s use of asbestos which was secured by Senator Nadia Blel was postponed yesterday after the failure to attend by the Ministers of Health, Labor, Environment and Industry and Trade. At the hearing were asbestos victims, ban asbestos campaigners, trade unionists and asbestos industry lobbyists. Senator Blel used the occasion to introduce draft legislation calling for a national asbestos ban. The Congressional debate has been rescheduled for October 6. See: Picture taken during asbestos non-debate on September 22, 2015.

Brazilian Firm Outlaws Asbestos

Sep 23, 2015

Cassol Materiais de Construção [Cassol Construction Materials], a major Brazilian building supplies chain has formalized plans for ending the sale of asbestos-containing tiles. In a submission on September 21, 2015 to the Ministry of Labor in Santa Catarina State, the company said protecting workers’ health from the asbestos hazard was its motivation in taking this step. See: Cassol Materiais de Construção, ciente da nocividade do amianto, formaliza a cessação da comercialização de produtos com a substância cancerígena, perante MPT [Cassol Building Materials, aware of the asbestos hazard, formalizes the termination of the marketing of asbestos products with the MPT].

Crimes against Environment and Health

Sep 20, 2015

Remedies to counter the inequality of national legal systems which allows asbestos entrepreneurs to profit from hazardous commercial operations were explored at the meeting of the Positive Economy Forum in Le Havre, France from September 16 to 19, 2015. Delegates heard calls for a change to the Treaty of Rome so that charges could be brought before an international court for crimes against the environment and health. The Italian criminal proceedings against asbestos billionaire Stephan Schmidheiny were discussed. See: Pour un tribunal international des crimes contre l’environnement et la santé [For an international tribunal for crimes against the environment and health].

Asbestos Causes Laryngeal Cancer

Sep 18, 2015

Spain’s Ministry of Employment and Social Security has agreed with social partners to update the list of occupational diseases to include laryngeal cancer caused by inhalation of asbestos dust. This change, which will result in a future Royal Decree, is the result of collaborative efforts by a working group set up to consider the appropriateness of adapting the list in light of new research findings. See: La Seguridad Social incorpora el cáncer de laringe por inhalación de amianto al listado de enfermedades profesionales [Social Security includes laryngeal cancer on list of occupational diseases caused by asbestos].

Action on Asbestos Prevention

Sep 18, 2015

The Secretary of Health of Mogi das Cruzes, a city in São Paulo State, has announced plans to implement a program of health inspections during the week of September 21-25, 2015 to ensure that workers are receiving the protections from hazardous asbestos exposures which are mandatory under São Paulo State Law No. 12.684/2007, which prohibits the use of products, materials or artifacts that contain any type of asbestos, raw asbestos or other minerals containing asbestos fibers in its composition. See: Vigilância Sanitária promove Semana de Combate ao Uso do Amianto [Health Surveillance Program on Asbestos].

Confirmation of Illegal Asbestos Imports

Sep 17, 2015

Despite its asbestos ban, Italy has been importing asbestos-containing products from Asia. Enquiries by customs officials to ascertain the names of Italian recipients of toxic Indian goods have been unproductive and no assistance has been received from officials in India despite requests made by Public Prosecutor Raffaele Guariniello. The discovery of asbestos in 9,000 imported Chinese cars necessitated remedial work, swamping personnel at local health authorities. A National Labor Inspectorate has been tasked with responding to this crisis. See: Amianto, Guariniello: l'India ne ha esportato in Italia [Asbestos, Guariniello: India has exported [asbestos] to Italy].

Parliament to Debate Asbestos Ban Bill

Sep 17, 2015

Four Ministers of State have been summoned to Parliament to explain on September 22, 2015 why asbestos is still used in Colombia when scores of nations have prohibited its use. Medical practitioners, cancer specialists and asbestos victims have criticized the current regime which allows the use of chrysotile (white) asbestos under legislation adopted in 2011. Senator Nadia Blel has sponsored a bill to ban asbestos and urges “action immediately, because asbestos is highly carcinogenic… creating a deadly threat to anyone who comes in contact with the mineral.” See: Ministros, a control político por polémica del asbesto [Ministers to respond to political asbestos controversy].

Tests Confirm Asbestos in Crayons

Sep 17, 2015

After news of asbestos contamination in crayons imported from China to the U.S. and Australia, the Government of New Zealand has now announced that government testing found similar contamination. An audit, conducted by the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Business, Ministry of Environment and the Environmental Protection Authority, of 21 random crayon products found asbestos in three products: Disney – Planes, Fire & Rescue (double ended crayons); Avengers Age of Ultron – 8 chunky crayons; Art Series – Jumbo Colours (12 non-toxic bright colours). As asbestos is not banned in New Zealand, the sale of these products is legal. See: Tests reveal asbestos in New Zealand crayons.

Asbestos Producer Bans Asbestos

Sep 16, 2015

In a remarkable development, the asbestos company Imbralit de Criciúma in the State of Santa Catarina has accepted the inevitability of Brazilian action to ban asbestos and announced today that it will cease using asbestos in its production of cement building materials as of November 1, 2015. Although there is no federal ban on asbestos, seven states have taken unilateral action to prohibit the use, manufacture, transport and sale of asbestos-containing products. They are: Mato Grosso, Sao Paulo, Rio Grande do Sul, Minas Gerais, Rio de Janeiro, Pernambuco and Amazonas. See: Uma Bomba para o Lobby do Amianto [A Bomb for Asbestos Lobby].

Asbestos Cancer Diagnoses in Rajasthan

Sep 16, 2015

The Mine Labour Protection Campaign Trust, a non-governmental organization based in the State of Rajasthan, has reported the diagnoses of 15 cases of the rare asbestos cancer, mesothelioma with a further 62 cases suspected. News of this disease cluster was widely reported in the State as well as via media outlets throughout India. India is the world’s largest importer of asbestos having in 2014 imported ~380,000 tonnes. The majority of asbestos used in India is for the production of building materials such as roofing slates and pipes; most at-risk workers are employed in the unorganized sector with no union protection. See: 15 cases of rare cancer detected a first in Rajasthan.

Call for Independent Tests at Rochdale Site

Sep 16, 2015

In a radio interview this morning, Rochdale Council officer Andy Glover and campaigner Jason Addy from Save Spodden Valley commented on plans for airborne testing of a 72 acre privately owned site in the center of Rochdale, formerly home to the world’s largest asbestos factory. The Council said it was working in partnership with the property owner to reassure local people that there was no airborne risk. Disparaging the Council’s scheme as a public relations exercise, Mr. Addy said the land was a “toxic blight” which required an “unbiased arbiter” to protect Rochdale citizens from hazardous exposures. Listen to: Interview with Andy Glover and Jason Addy.

Penalties for Asbestos Law Contraventions

Sep 15, 2015

The Superior Labor Court reinstated guilty verdicts and fines for moral damages amounting respectively to R$500,000 (US$129,300) and R$100,000 (US$26,000) against Eternit SA, Brazil’s largest asbestos manufacturer, and Distribuidora Meridional Ltda., a distributor in Pernambuco, for failing to comply with the state law banning the manufacture, trade and use of asbestos especially in civil public and private construction. See: Distribuidora e Eternit são condenadas por violar lei que proíbe amianto em Pernambuco [Distributor and Eternit are convicted of violating the law banning asbestos in Pernambuco].

Ban Asbestos Progress in Asia

Sep 14, 2015

Delegates at the 2015 meeting of the Asian Ban Asbestos Network in Hanoi last week considered regional developments with a particular focus on recent asbestos bans introduced in Hong Kong and Nepal and the announcement by the President of Sri Lanka that the country would prohibit asbestos by 2018. There was a great deal of interest in the roadmap presented by a representative of the Vietnam Ministry of Health which aimed to end asbestos use in Vietnam by 2020. Work has been ongoing in Vietnam for over a decade into the development of asbestos-free technology. See: Vietnam: A-BAN takes stock of the asbestos campaign in the region.

Call for Asbestos Ban

Sep 14, 2015

A press release issued on September 12, 2015 by the (Thai) National Health Commission (NHC) called for the “global blacklisting” of chrysotile (white) asbestos and urged stakeholders including the NHC, the Ministry of Public Health, the Thai Health Promotion Foundation and consumer protection organizations to share information to protect at-risk construction and other Thai workers. The NHC statement detailed several initiatives it had taken to progress the categorization of chrysotile as a type 4 hazardous substance for which production, import, export and possession are banned. See: NHCO demands asbestos to be blacklisted and Thailand insists on its dangers in global forums.

Asbestos Pandemic

Sep 14, 2015

In 2013, asbestos exposure was responsible for 194,000 deaths worldwide, according to data just released detailing the global burden of disease. “Asbestos exposure accounted for nearly two-thirds of the burden of all occupational carcinogens. In total, occupational risks accounted for 55.4 million DALYs [disability-adjusted life-years].” See: Global, regional, and national comparative risk assessment of 79 behavioural, environmental and occupational, and metabolic risks or clusters of risks in 188 countries, 1990–2013: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2013.

Another Asbestos Ban

Sep 13, 2015

Against considerable lobbying by asbestos specialist interests, the Council of Poços de Caldas, a city in the Brazilian State of Minas Gerais, has succeeded in approving a bill to ban the use of asbestos in public buildings. This legislation, which has been under discussion since 2009, was sponsored by Mayor Dr . Regina Cioffi, a highly respected doctor who informed fellow Councilors of scores of national asbestos bans and policies of international agencies supporting asbestos prohibitions to protect public and occupational health. See: Câmara de Poços aprova projeto que proibe amianto em obras públicas [Poços City Council Bans Asbestos].

Italy’s Deadly Asbestos Legacy

Sep 13, 2015

European research into the occurrence of peritoneal mesothelioma amongst a cohort from Italy, formerly Europe’s largest asbestos producer, has found higher mortality rates in several northern regions which were heavy consumers of asbestos. These findings were reported in a study just published in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine. Using multiple data sources, the eight authors discovered that amongst people who lived or worked in areas where asbestos was produced, there was an elevated incidence of peritoneal mesothelioma. See: Peritoneal mesothelioma in Italy: Trends and geography of mortality and incidence.