News Item Archive
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Displaying 25 items in reverse date order starting from item 379
Jun 12, 2017
Last week, a public rally in Jitikara, a village in the northwest of Kazakhstan, denounced the global campaign to ban asbestos. Kostani Minerals, one of the world’s largest asbestos mining companies, is a major employer in this area. Speakers at this event castigated the efforts of health and safety campaigners, international trade unionists and others who support an end to the slaughter caused by human exposures to asbestos, with threadbare and discredited rhetoric claiming that asbestos is a “natural and cheap material” which is safe to use. See: Работники хризотиловой отрасли в Казахстане встали на защиту асбеста [Chrysotile workers in Kazakhstan support asbestos protection].
Asbestos: Killer Fiber
Jun 12, 2017
The mesothelioma death of Isbelia Buitrago, a 41-year old architect from Colombia diagnosed in November 2015 with cancer, has been reported. In a touching TV interview broadcast on February 2, 2017, she detailed the presence of a variety of asbestos-containing products on construction sites including: tiles, tanks and pipes. Also speaking in that program was a government minister who promised Colombia would ban asbestos within 5 years. Every year, 320 people die in Colombia from asbestos exposures. See: Murió Isbelia Buitrago, la arquitecta a la que el asbesto le asfixió sus sueños [Architect Isbelia Buitrago, killed by asbestos].
Asbestos Mortality Report
Jun 5, 2017
According to a report by the Asian Citizen’s Center for Environment and Health (ACCEH), in the last decade 2,467 cases of asbestos-related diseases were recognized by Korea’s Environment Ministry; 1,006 (~40%), of victims died. Asbestos was widely used in construction materials. Despite a ban, there are still a large number of contaminated buildings which pose an imminent health threat, especially considering the frequency of reconstruction and renovation work. The ACCEH is calling for “an independent investigative body” to consider these matters and take action. See: Almost 10,000 Koreans suffered environmental diseases in 10 yrs: report.
Waste Site Controversy
Jun 5, 2017
Last week, a delegation including political and community representatives met with Professor Alberto Montanari to consider options for closing Poiatica, an inactive site where tonnes of earthquake debris, demolition and asbestos waste have been deposited. A campaign called “Stop the Landfill” is engaged in high-profile efforts to address the hazardous source of toxic exposures from the site. A study is due to be completed by the end of June. See: Comitato furibondo «L’amianto è morte»;«La chiusura è finta, vogliono mandarci 800.000 metri cubi» [Furious Committee says:“Asbestos is Death”; “The closure is false, they want to send us 800,000 cubic meters”].
Suva Center Remediation
Jun 5, 2017
As some businesses stayed shut due to last week’s asbestos alert in the center of Suva, the capital of the South Pacific island country of Fiji, a technical expert was predicting that remediation work could take up to two months. A report on the airborne asbestos levels in the vicinity of the affected building is expected on June 7. The city council has hired a specialist contractor to remove the toxic material. On June 2, a statement from the Ministry of Employment said that the asbestos discovery did “not present any threat to the general public” and that there was no need for the closure of schools, businesses or public buildings. See: Two Months To Clear Asbestos, Says Expert.
Asbestos Legacy of 9/11
Jun 4, 2017
In the aftermath of the 2011 attack on the World Trade Center (WTC), blankets of toxic dust contaminated parts of Manhattan and Brooklyn exposing millions to a multitude of toxins including asbestos. Dr Raja Flores, Chief of Thoracic Surgery at the Mount Sinai Hospital, NY, has warned that: “People are already getting sick from the asbestos and they have died from it… in 15-20 years we are going to see a serious health issue here…. We haven't even seen the tip of this iceberg yet.” Almost half a million kilograms of asbestos-containing insulation was sprayed on the first 40 storeys of the WTC. See: September 11: Death toll could rise by millions from ‘toxic’ asbestos dust.
Disposal of Waste
Jun 2, 2017
The presence of shipping containers containing 2,500 tonnes of asbestos waste at the docks in Jersey has been a sticking point for many years. Finally, the authorities have confirmed that at a cost of £1 million, the contents of 290 containers of asbestos have been buried in a specially lined cell at La Collette, a household reuse and recycling centre which opened on January 16, 2017. The empty containers have, so the report cited below says, been broken down for recycling. A spokesperson for Jersey’s Department for Infrastructure said that a full-time asbestos consultant was on site to oversee the work, which began in January 2017. See: 290 containers of asbestos buried at La Collette.
Jun 2, 2017
Fijians were warned to steer clear of the Suva Civic Center area on June 1 by the Department of Information and the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Program after demolition work exposed asbestos at the Suva City Centre. According to Jone Usamate, Minister for Employment, Productivity and Industrial Relations, staff from the National Occupational Health and Safety Service are now overseeing the safe removal of the toxic material. Reminding citizens to keep their distance from the affected site, the Minister said specialists were “sealing off all the building openings and have cordoned off the surrounding areas with immediate effect.” See: Asbestos in Suva; Public urged to stay 500m away.
Mesothelioma mortality in Argentina
Jun 2, 2017
Using data sourced from death certificates obtained from the Vital Statistics System of Argentina’s National Ministry of Health, a new scientific paper revealed that there were 3,259 mesothelioma deaths between 1980 and 2013 and that the average increase in mesothelioma mortality over this period was 84.1%. The incidence rate was higher in men than in women and the authors believe this was due to higher rates of occupational asbestos exposures amongst the former. Argentina banned asbestos in 2001. Recommendations are made regarding suitable actions to reinforce the ban and improve occupational health surveillance for at-risk workers and the public. See: Mesothelioma mortality in Argentina, 1980-2013.
Trump Attack on EPA
Jun 1, 2017
Mesothelioma survivor Heather Von St James has published a scathing indictment of plans by President Trump to slash the budget of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) – the federal body tasked with protecting human health and the environment in the US–by 31%. In a commentary on The Guardian website, she writes: “Our own president has been quoted extolling the virtues of asbestos and even claiming that abatement is a mob conspiracy. The man who was chosen to head the EPA has said he remains unconvinced of the dangers of asbestos.” See: I lost my lung to asbestos. I fear what Trump will do to America’s health.
Jun 1, 2017
On May 30, 2017, former employees from the Renault Trucks factory in Vénissieux, Lyon held a rally in front of the Lyons Labor Court to mark the filing of the first 50 of 900 cases regarding asbestos “anxiety prejudice” against Renault Trucks. The litigation is being progressed by APER, the local asbestos victims’ group, which says that many more cases are expected. According to APER official Jean-Paul Carret from 1964 till 1996 “tens of thousands of people worked on the site …” Renault Trucks has refused to negotiate with the claimants. See: Premières plaintes « amiante » à Renault Trucks aux Prud’hommes [First asbestos complaints against Renault Trucks heard by Labor Court].
Jun 1, 2017
According to a report from the Kadıköy Municipality, since asbestos regulations were introduced in 2016 to prevent the demolition of asbestos-containing buildings in the area – a densely populated district of Istanbul – 498.5 tons of asbestos waste collected from 1,517 building sites have been disposed of. Inspections at the 1,517 Kadıköy sites revealed that 446 (~30%) of them were contaminated with asbestos. Urban regeneration work by commercial firms outside of this one area are, as far as can be ascertained, carried out without public supervision or mandatory requirements regarding the asbestos hazard. See: Kadıköy'de ciddi tehlike: 498 buçuk ton asbest! [Serious danger in Kadıköy: 498 tons of asbestos!].
Setting a Precedent?
May 31, 2017
Deanna Trevarthen died aged 45 from mesothelioma in 2016. As a child, she had inhaled asbestos fibers brought home on her electrician father’s work clothes. Her claim for compensation was refused as she herself had not been occupationally exposed to asbestos; her lawyers are now pursuing the claim as an accident related to the inhalation of a foreign object and not a work-related accident. Proceedings in this case will begin in the Wellington District Court in September. If it succeeds, it should make it possible for other people suffering from second-hand asbestos exposures to obtain justice. See:‘Hug of death’ asbestos case could open up compensation for many cancer sufferers.
Crete’s Asbestos Legacy
May 31, 2017
Deteriorating buildings first owned by Greek Ministries and then passed to the Crete authorities are contaminated with asbestos. One of them, formerly run by the Ministry of Rural Development, now lies abandoned; its asbestos roof constitutes a dangerous source of pollution to people using a nearby school and living in the most densely populated area of the city of Heraklion, the capital of the island. There are plans to house a registration center for Asylum Services in this area as well as to build temporary accommodation for refugees here. See: Στη βουλή το κτίριο του δημοσίου με τον αμίαντο [State building contaminated with asbestos].
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 Criminal Trial?
May 30, 2017
On June 7, 2017, authorities in the Paris Court of Appeal will hand down a long-awaited decision regarding a possible criminal trial against individuals charged with causing a national epidemic killing 3,000 people a year. Amongst the accused are senior officials from various Ministries – including Jean-François Girard, former Director-General for Health, and Jean-Luc Pasquier, a senior official of the Ministry of Labor – as well as medical specialists, industrialists and public relations personnel, all of whom promoted the use of asbestos by downplaying the deadly health hazards of human exposures. See: Amiante: une étape décisive pour un éventuel procès [Asbestos: a decisive step for a possible trial].
May 30, 2017
An Italian Parliamentary body convened to determine the asbestos hazard to service personnel has received a confidential report by Raffaele Guariniello – the retired public prosecutor who became famous during the Turin trial of foreign asbestos entrepreneurs – which documented a vast underestimate of officially recognized mesothelioma deaths amongst the military. The existence of the “hidden massacre” was due to the practice whereby only deaths of serving personnel are included in mortality statistics and not those of retired personnel. See: Amianto killer, la ‘strage nascosta’ tra i militari [Asbestos killer, the ‘hidden massacre’ among the military].
Ban Asbestos Dialogue
May 30, 2017
On May 8, 2017 an asbestos hearing was held by the Commission of Human Rights at the Federal Senate in Brasília. Amongst those participating were representatives of ABREA (the Brazilian Association of the Asbestos-Exposed) and the International Federation of Asbestos Workers, a body which alleges that white asbestos – the only asbestos mined in Brazil – can be produced and used safely. Other speakers presented the positions of trade unions, the Public Prosecutor's Office, municipal authorities from Minaçu Goiás and expert witnesses. See: Uso do amianto será debatido na Comissão de Direitos Humanos [Use of asbestos will be discussed at the Commission on Human Rights].
British Asbestos Newsletter
May 29, 2017
The Spring 2017 issue of the British Asbestos Newsletter is available online. The lead article entitled Asbestos Politics 2017 is both informative and timely as it highlights policies of political parties regarding the asbestos contamination of schools. While the Labour Party promises to resolve this health hazard, cuts by the Conservative Government to council budgets in September 2017 will ensure that dangerous conditions prevail for years to come. Documents issued by relevant authorities including the Health and Safety Executive, the National Audit Office, the Education Funding Agency and the Local Government Association are discussed. See: Issue 103, British Asbestos Newsletter.
Exposé: New South Wales
May 29, 2017
The illegal dumping of toxic waste in New South Wales has become endemic; when criminals are punished for repeatedly flouting environmental laws, fines handed out are minimal – they are described by the removalists’ association as “a joke” – and orders for remediation work unenforceable according to a two-part exposé published on May 28 and 29. The example is cited of the 33,000 tonnes of asbestos-riddled waste dumped on Sydney’s “Misty Mountain” 16 years ago; the toxic site continues to endanger the health of local people. The names and photographs of removalists whose criminal practices are long-standing and well-known are included in the article. See: Toxic State – The Asbestos Game.
May 25, 2017
A new visual resource has been developed by BaliFokus, a member of the Indonesian Ban Asbestos Network (INABAN), to raise awareness of the hazard posed to children by the use of asbestos-cement roofing and lead paint at schools. BaliFokus staff in Bali and in Jakarta work closely with partnering organizations in the government and in civil society to educate professionals on the hazardous nature of these products, reach out to at-risk workers and progress the national dialogue on toxic substances. See: Video Stop Penggunaan Cat Bertimbal dan Atap Asbes di Sekolah [Video: Stop the use of asbestos and lead at schools].
May 25, 2017
A 70-minute documentary, entitled Do Not Breath – Contains Asbestos, exposing Brazil’s asbestos disaster will be screened at the Ecofalante Environmental Film Festival on June 2, 2017 in São Paulo. The film features conclusive proof revealing dangerous occupational practices involving asbestos-containing materials and filmed segments showing industry leaders asserting that the use of asbestos in Brazil is safe. The damage to workers is substantiated through first person interviews with asbestos disease sufferers, family members, scientists and medical experts. See: Não Respire – Contém Amianto (Trailer em português) [Do Not Breath – Contains Asbestos (Trailer in Portuguese)]. For Facebook users see also: Trailer in English.
Mesothelioma: Personalized Care
May 24, 2017
Researchers from the University of Ljubljana and the Institute of Oncology have published findings of a Slovenian study examining the differing responses of individual malignant mesothelioma patients to chemotherapy treatment with gemcitabine/cisplatin or pemetrexed/cisplatin. An algorithm was developed for recommending individual treatment protocols based on genotyping of 189 patients which could, by enabling the choice of the most effective chemotherapy for 85.5% of mesothelioma patients, lead to improved treatment outcome. See: Clinical-pharmacogenetic models for personalized cancer treatment: application to malignant mesothelioma.
May 23, 2017
A public rally is being held today (Tuesday May 23, 2017), outside the Palace of Fuensalida, the headquarters of the Government of Castile-La Mancha. Members of a local campaign – “My neighborhood without asbestos” – are demanding regional action to resolve long-standing and extensive asbestos contamination of the Polygon area of Toledo. The group has estimated that there is more than 90,000 tons of asbestos throughout the community, most of which came from the former Ibertubo asbestos factory. See: El llamamiento de los vecinos para la retirada “inmediata” del Amianto del barrio del Polígono [Local people demand the “immediate” removal of asbestos in the Polygon neighborhood of Toledo].
Threat to Asbestos Ban
May 23, 2017
The Regulatory Accountability Act, dubbed the “License to Kill Bill” which passed in the House of Representatives is now being considered by the US. Senate. Environmental and scientific experts are worried that the legislation could make regulation of polluting industries more difficult and have dire consequences for the health and safety of American citizens. If the act became law, the implementation of an EPA asbestos ban would face enormous obstacles and additional requirements. Of course, that would suit President Trump who said in his book The Art of the Comeback that asbestos had “got a bad rap.” See: The "License to Kill" Bill Is As Terrifying As It Sounds.