News Item Archive
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Displaying 25 items in reverse date order starting from item 1918
Report Slams Asbestos in Schools Scandal
Mar 29, 2016
A report issued this weekend by the Joint Union Asbestos Committee at the National Union of Teachers conference in Brighton, documented government knowledge about the presence of asbestos in 75% of schools, calling the failure to act on this national scandal “disgraceful.” Successive governments had, said the report, shown a “scandalous disregard for life” by failing to mandate rigorous measures to prevent future cases of asbestos cancer. According to asbestos campaigner Hank Roberts, this report proved that “absolutely everything you can think of has been going wrong - negligence, deceit, lying.” See: Asbestos scandal ‘threatens school pupils’ health’ investigation warns.
Mobilization for Canadian Asbestos Ban
Mar 29, 2016
Canadian labor federations, victims’ groups, nurses’ associations, municipal councils, charities and individuals are pressing the new Prime Minister to honor a campaign pledge to ban asbestos in Canada. Federal funding for new capital projects underlines the necessity to ban asbestos to avoid incorporating more of this toxic substance into the country’s infrastructure in the form of pipes, cement or other building materials. According to trade data from Statistics Canada asbestos-related imports rose to a six-year high in 2015 with an inflow of goods valued $8.3 million; the figure for 2016 was $6m. See: Pressure mounts on Ottawa to join wide ban on asbestos.
Video Evidence of Asbestos Hazards
Mar 27, 2016
Three videos have been uploaded to youtube which reveal the dangers of widespread asbestos use in Indonesia. The subjects covered are:
1) environmental asbestos exposures;
2) occupational exposures;
3) the unregulated and unsafe dumping of toxic debris in the community.
In 2014, Indonesia used 54,000 tonnes of asbestos (see: consumption data for 2014), a decline on previous years but nevertheless a significant amount.
Environmental Exposures in Toledo
Mar 26, 2016
Dumping of asbestos-containing material poses a serious threat to people living in the environs of Toledo, Spain. Complaints by members of a local community group have been dismissed by government officials who state categorically that there “is no environmental problem” despite the presence of tonnes of toxic debris on waste land close to the Santa Maria Benquerencia neighborhood, home to 22,000 people. Much of the contamination was produced during manufacturing operations at a local asbestos factory. See: Los habitantes del barrio del Polígono están expuestos al asbestos [The people of the Polygon neighborhood exposed to asbestos].
Mesothelioma Breakthrough by UK Scientists?
Mar 25, 2016
Researchers from universities in Bradford and Surrey have published findings which show that a drug called HRX9 stops the growth of human mesothelioma tumors implanted in mice. After three weeks of treatment with this drug the mesothelioma tumors stopped growing due to a total loss of tumor blood vessels and the widespread death of cancer cells. According to the researchers, HRX9 knocks out a key defense mechanism for the mesothelioma cells; this is the first drug that has been found to trigger the apoptosis of unhealthy cells – cancer cell suicide – in mesothelioma. See: Mesothelioma gene-targeting drug looks hopeful.
Asbestos Hazard Recognized
Mar 23, 2016
On March 2, 2016, Gambia’s National Environment Agency reaffirmed its commitment before a Parliamentary body to work with stake-holding partners to address the hazards posed by asbestos-containing building materials. The Public Accounts and Public Enterprise Committees unanimously adopted the Agency’s report as a matter of public safety with lawmakers such as Lamin Jammeh, representing the Illiasa constituency, and Mam Cherno Jallow, from Upper Nuimi, highlighting the threat posed by the use of asbestos-containing water pipes. See: Lawmakers Want Change of Asbestos Water Pipes.
Routine Flouting of Prohibitions
Mar 21, 2016
Despite the introduction in 2015 of a ban on asbestos consumption, imports and sales in Nepal, research undertaken by local activists has revealed that demand for asbestos-containing products remains strong, prompted by a targeted and well resourced national marketing campaign by the asbestos lobby. The popularity of asbestos-containing roofing products in the Tarai Region constitutes a “growing cancer risk.” With a total lack of bureaucratic oversight, and a failure by the government to record data on toxic imports, the situation can only get worse. See: Overhead hazard: Asbestos used as roofing in houses and schools has become a growing cancer risk.
Campaigning to Ban Asbestos in Asia
Mar 21, 2016
An initiative by Australia’s Union Aid Abroad-APHEDA in collaboration with ban asbestos activists was launched in South East Asia during February 2016 under the banner: “ASBESTOS. Not here. Not anywhere.” The focus of this campaign is the human and environmental threats posed by increasing consumption of white asbestos throughout the region. A video highlighting the problems caused by asbestos usage in Indonesia documents the total lack of public and occupational awareness of the asbestos hazard and daily exposures to 7,000 workers at 26 factories. See: ASBESTOS. Not here. Not anywhere.
Shipbuilder Fined for Asbestos Death
Mar 21, 2016
The Italian shipbuilding company Fincantieri – Cantieri Navali Italiani S.p.A. – was fined €1.1m (US$1.24m) by a Labor Court on February 26, 2016 for the death in 2006 of a 55-year-old electrical welder who had been hazardously exposed to asbestos on a daily basis whilst employed from the 1970s to 1990 by the company. The damages were awarded to the three children of the deceased worker. The company, which is based in the town of Trieste, was formed in 1959 and is owned by the Italian State. It is the largest shipbuilder in Europe. See: Fincantieri to pay 1.1 million.
Ford’s Multi-million Dollar Defense
Mar 21, 2016
A recent exposé by U.S. journalists documents payments of millions of dollars by the Ford Motor Company for research that “proves” that auto mechanics did not contract mesothelioma from asbestos in Ford brake products. Documents cited include: a 1968 report which said that brake linings contained up to 60% asbestos and a 1971 memo which estimated the cost of replacing asbestos front end brakes at $1.25/car; as this cost was deemed “severe,” no action was taken. At Ford’s bidding, consultants produced material supporting the company’s position that “employment as a motor vehicle mechanic does not increase the risk of developing mesothelioma.” See: Ford spent $40 million to reshape asbestos science.
Scandal over Toxic Imports from China
Feb 15, 2016
Peter Tighe, the CEO of Australia’s Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency, has expressed concern that asbestos-containing cement sheeting imported from China has been identified at 64 construction sites in Australia stating: “Our young tradespeople haven't been trained to deal with these products. They think they're asbestos free.” Other asbestos-containing imports from China have included children’s crayons, automobiles and railway vehicles. Citing Australia's declining manufacturing base and lack of oversight on imports, trade union leaders have warned that more deadly imports could be on their way. See: Dozens of Australian building sites contaminated by illegal Chinese asbestos imports, authorities say.
Court Condemns Asbestos “Unions”
Feb 15, 2016
On February 11, 2016, the Regional Labor Court of Campinas confirmed the verdict of a lower court in a civil case brought by the Ministry of Labor against the actions of industry-backed “trade unions.” These bodies – nicknamed “yellow unions” – have made agreements with asbestos companies and associations supporting the controlled use of asbestos. The courts found that these arrangements were highly damaging to the interests of workers. Although several states and municipalities in Brazil have banned asbestos, the federal government supports the industry mythology that asbestos can be used safely under controlled conditions.
Asbestos Hearing in Bogota Adjourned
Feb 11, 2016
On February 9, 2016, the judge overseeing a pivotal case in Bogota convened the latest proceedings in a class action initiated by Juan Jose Lalinde 10 years ago about the use of asbestos in Colombia. The defendants in this lawsuit are asbestos companies. In 2015, lawyer Ramiro Bejarano, who represents Eternit – the company which dominates the country’s asbestos sector – submitted a “Compliance Agreement” in an attempt to seek a judicially-sanctioned compromise that would allow asbestos use to continue. An observer reported that litigant Lalinde was not in court and that the proceedings were adjourned after one hour. If the Judge finds for the plaintiff, the verdict could end asbestos use in Colombia.
Environmental Asbestos Contamination
Feb 11, 2016
A report entitled “Transport and Deposition of Asbestos-Rich Sediment in the Sumas River, Whatcom County, Washington” just released by the U.S. Geological Survey and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency documents high levels of asbestos fiber in water and sediment from the Sumas River in the wake of a large active landslide on the western flank of Sumas Mountain. In 2012 and 2013, 24,000 and 54,000 tons of suspended sediment, respectively were transported by the river; up to 37% of the mass of river sediment samples tested was asbestos. See: New Study Examines Naturally Occurring Asbestos Carried in Sumas River Sediment.
Asbestos-Related Lung Cancer Figures
Feb 11, 2016
Even in countries where most mesothelioma cases are accurately diagnosed, the recognition of asbestos-related lung cancers remains problematic. Researchers in the Netherlands using three different modelling methods predicted that the number of Dutch cases that would occur between 2011 and 2030 would be between 6,800 and 17,500. Given the discrepancy in these figures, the authors of this paper concluded that the “accurate estimation of the impact of asbestos exposure on the lung cancer burden remains a challenge.” See: Expected number of asbestos-related lung cancers in the Netherlands in the next two decades: a comparison of methods.
Asbestos Pride in Kazakhstan
Feb 10, 2016
In a newspaper report issued on February 8, 2016, a city in the Kostanay area in northern Kazakhstan boasted that it was on course to become a global “asbestos” champion with exported chrysotile (white asbestos) fiber being shipped to India, Thailand and elsewhere. While extolling the virtues of asbestos and calling for enterprises to expand their consumption, the company spokesman also bemoaned a drop in output and the economic necessity of reducing production costs. Steps are, he said, being taken to streamline mining and processing operations. See: В Костанайской области асбестовое производство метит в мировые чемпионы [Kostanay region aims to be asbestos production world champions].
British Asbestos Newsletter
Feb 10, 2016
The Autumn-Winter 2015-2016 issue of the British Asbestos Newsletter is now available online. The lead article in issue 99 details the implementation of changes in the government regime for compensating former service personnel who have contracted the asbestos cancer, mesothelioma. The feature article entitled “Eradicating the Asbestos Hazard” is a detailed analysis of new data, political initiatives and literature that quantify the impact of asbestos-related disease on British citizens and call for measures to protect public and occupational health from hazardous exposures. See: British Asbestos Newsletter, issue 99.
Landmark Decision by Supreme Court
Feb 10, 2016
In a remarkable reversal of policy, Spain’s Supreme Court recognized the responsibility of Uralita, a successor company, to compensate workers exposed to asbestos by their previous employer, a company which Uralita had owned shares in. This decision was affected by a ruling handed down on March 5, 2015 by the European Court of Justice and acknowledged the “absolute connection” between the commercial enterprises. See: El Supremo cambia de opinión: la responsabilidad por la falta de medidas de seguridad se traspasa en la sucesión empresarial [Supreme Court U-turn: responsibility for lack of safety measures was transferred in business succession].
Toxic Legacy of Asbestos Cement Factory
Feb 9, 2016
Israel’s Environmental Protection Ministry is recommending that no new building permits be issued for northern Nahariya until asbestos remediation work has been completed. Asbestos pollution is a legacy of the Eitanit asbestos-cement factory which closed in 1997. Friable asbestos material sold cheaply to local people was used in gardens, orchards, greenhouses, chicken coops, schools, homes and on dirt path. Although a 5-year, $60 million clean-up program led by the Ministry is nearing completion, a recent tour of hotspots confirmed that pollution remains a public health risk. See: Ministry Says Nahariya Should Not Grow Until Asbestos Is Removed.
MoD Fudge on Mesothelioma Payouts
Feb 9, 2016
A letter dated February 8, 2016 from the Ministry of Defence (MoD) provides no solace to those left out of a new compensation regime for veterans with mesothelioma (see: Change in Mesothelioma Regime to Benefit Veterans). Service personnel diagnosed before December 16, 2015 remain ineligible for the one-off £140,000 payment. It is unlikely that the “policy of no retrospection” will change although the MoD “continues to review the options to support these claimants in a similar manner and we hope to be in a position to provide an update soon.” See: Letter from Ministry of Defence, February 8, 2016.
The Corruption of Science
Feb 8, 2016
A collection of email correspondence between US. lawyers and researchers they hired to develop, publish and advance tailor-made “science” confirms that when millions of dollars are at risk anything can be bought. Lawyer Evan Nelson, at that time with the law firm Tucker Ellis & West and now unemployed, paid “rented white coats” working for the Gradient Corporation to produce work that would provide validity to his “revolutionary scientific theory” that mesothelioma was caused by exposure to radiation from tobacco smoke. See: Meet the ‘Rented White Coats’ Who Defend Toxic Chemicals.
Decreasing Brazil’s Asbestos Production
Feb 8, 2016
For several years, Brazil has been the world’s third largest supplier of chrysotile (white) asbestos from a single mine in Minaçu run by the Sama company. In a recent report, Sama has confirmed that a fall in national and global demand led to the cancellation of production on three days in 2015 and the sacking of 119 workers. According to Sama officials, as well as the general economic crisis, the increasing unpopularity and fear of asbestos has impacted negatively on sales. See: Sama fechou turnos e demitiu 119 trabalhadores em 2015. A crise deve se aguçar em 2016 [Sama cancelled shifts and dismissed 119 workers in 2015. The crisis could sharpen in 2016].
Editorial on Asbestos Compensation
Feb 5, 2016
As recent verdicts deemed the Japan Government negligent for failing to act on the asbestos hazard and as manufacturers of building materials have also now been held liable, this editorial urges that guilty parties act urgently to make restitution to all the injured many of whom are suffering from asbestos diseases which can cause death in a very short time. The editorial calls on the government and others to collaborate on establishing an asbestos fund which would compensate various categories of injured people including asbestos mill workers, construction workers and the self-employed. See: Widening asbestos compensation.
Hearing Considers Safe Use Policy
Feb 5, 2016
On Tuesday, February 9, 2016 a court hearing will take place in Bogotá, Colombia during which asbestos vested interests will seek to normalize the use of asbestos, an acknowledged carcinogen, contesting growing support in the country for asbestos to be banned on the grounds of protecting public and occupational health. Representing asbestos stakeholders, lawyer Ramiro Bejarano will, it is believed, argue that no one in Colombia has been injured by their exposure to asbestos and that asbestos can be used safely. See: El amor es más fuerte que el cancer [Love is stronger than cancer].
New Publications about Mesothelioma
Feb 5, 2016
Six papers (from 20) in the latest issue of an Italian medical journal look at issues relating to malignant mesothelioma, including: causation, treatment, links to asbestos use and national incidences of diseases. Of particular interest were the following: The global health dimensions of asbestos and asbestos-related diseases; Malignant mesotheliomas with unknown exposure to asbestos: a re-examination; Asbestos at the time of the First World War. The last paper reports that from 1912-17, the writer Franz Kafka was co-owner of a small asbestos factory in Prague. I bet you didn’t know that! See: La Medicina del Lavoro [Journal of Labor Medicine].