News Item Archive

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Displaying 25 items in reverse date order starting from item 2589

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].

Laos Calls for Asbestos Ban

Jun 29, 2018

On June 20, 2018, the Laos Minister of Labour and Social Welfare, Dr Khampheng Saysompheng announced that Laos intends to eliminate occupational asbestos-related diseases by banning asbestos. The Minister called for universal action to end asbestos consumption, highlighting the need for member states of ASEAN (the Association of Southeast Asian Nations) to immediately prohibit the use of asbestos-containing construction materials. He said: “Urgent action is required to prevent the extended use of asbestos as a construction material and banning all forms of asbestos to protect lives, support safer economic growth and ensure social stability in the country under the National Action Plan.” See: Plans to end asbestos-use, related disease nationwide.

Protecting Workers from Asbestos

Jun 29, 2018

Spain’s CCOO trade union has demanded urgent action on asbestos contamination of Madrid’s Registry Office, operated by the Ministry of Justice. Specific actions stipulated should include: an asbestos audit of the premises and medical examinations for at-risk workers. Despite awareness of the asbestos hazard, to date the Community of Madrid has failed to address these matters giving bland reassurances such as: “necessary measures will be taken to solve this serious problem.” See: CCOO exige medidas urgentes a la Comunidad de Madrid por el amianto del Registro Civil de Pradillo [CCOO demands urgent measures by the Community of Madrid on asbestos at the Pradillo Civil Registry].

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].

National Asbestos Profile

Jun 25, 2018

Last week, discussions were held in Phnom Penh to progress work on a draft of the National Asbestos Profile of Cambodia. Taking part were representatives from 13 ministries, trade unions, employers, the World Health Organization, the International Labour Organization and the Australian Union Aid Abroad – APHEDA. Research findings were reported from samples of building and friction materials that were collected in Cambodia and shipped to Australia for analysis. Over 50% of the items sampled contained asbestos. See: Photograph from meeting.

Trump EPA: Not Fit for Purpose

Jun 25, 2018

Legislation passed two years ago under President Obama. intended to streamline measures for the regulation of toxic chemicals by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), has been under sustained attack by the Trump EPA which has announced that “legacy uses, associated disposals, and legacy disposals will be excluded,” from risk evaluations as will “asbestos-containing materials that remain in older buildings.” It looks like the use of the “magic mineral,” which is causing nearly 40,000 deaths per year in the US, will continue as will the imminent hazard posed by asbestos-containing products incorporated in the national infrastructure and asbestos waste dumped throughout the country. See: As Asbestos Toll Mounts, Trump’s EPA Ignores It.

Fighting for Asbestos Justice

Jun 25, 2018

As the decision of the Court of Cassation (France’s Supreme Court) is awaited, with the decision on whether nine industrialists would be held liable for asbestos crimes postponed until September 2018, the Dunkirk branch of the National Association of Asbestos Victims (ANDEVA) continues its efforts to raise awareness of the effects of occupational asbestos exposures. At a recent commemoration ceremony Pierre Pluta, who was exposed to asbestos for 25 years whilst working at the Dunkirk shipyards and now heads the local ANDEVA branch, said: “We worked to make a living, not to lose it.” See: Scandale de l’amiante: à Dunkerque, une association de victimes mobilisée dans l’attente d’un procès [Asbestos scandal: in Dunkirk, victims’ association mobilized pending trial].

Legacy of Asbestos Mining

Jun 22, 2018

Brazilian photographer Inácio Teixeira was born in Bom Jesus da Serra, Bahia State, Brazil, home to the São Felix Asbestos Mine which for decades poisoned its workers, polluted the environment and exposed consumers and family members to a deadly carcinogen. A photographic exhibit he has produced is now on the website of the Brazilian Association of the Asbestos-Exposed; the stark black and white images “leave no doubt about the trail of destruction caused by this predatory industry…” See: Uma Tragédia Socioambiental de Proporções Ainda Ignoradas [A Socio-Environmental Tragedy of Unkown Proportions So Far].

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].

Learning the Asbestos Lesson

Jun 21, 2018

A review of the epidemiology substantiating the outbreak of the deadly mesothelioma epidemic in the area of Casale Monferrato, in the Piedmont Region of Italy, the location of the Eternit asbestos-cement factory, has been undertaken by Italian researchers. The authors conclude that: “The experience of Casale Monferrato represents a lesson in several terms, from the epidemiological surveillance to the health care of the victims and the relationship between epidemiologists, victims, their relatives and residents in contaminated areas.” See: Mesothelioma in Italy: the Casale Monferrato model to a national epidemiological surveillance system.

Asbestos in Make-up

Jun 21, 2018

It has been reported that authorities in the Czech Republic found asbestos contamination in make-up sold for children by the US company Claire’s. This development was reported to the European Rapid Alert System which should automatically result in the product being withdrawn from the European market. On June 19, the Spanish Organization of Consumers and Users issued warnings about the make-up kit; it has been withdrawn from sale in Spain. The Spanish Agency for Medicines and Health Products is being urged to carry out an inspection of all Claire's products. See: Detectado amianto en un kit de maquillaje infantil que ya se ha retirado de las tiendas [Asbestos detected in a children's makeup kit already withdrawn from sale].

National Asbestos Legacy

Jun 21, 2018

Despite adopting a ban on the use of asbestos in 1992, Italy continues to pay dearly for its industrial asbestos past. In 2017, there were 6,000 asbestos-related deaths – of which 1,800 were caused by the cancer mesothelioma – with the peak in the national epidemic not expected until 2030. The presence of 40 million tonnes of asbestos incorporated within the national infrastructure remains a clear and present danger to the health of both workers and members of the public. It is believed that a million private and public buildings, including 2,400 schools, 250 hospitals and 1,000 libraries and cultural sites, are contaminated. See: Amianto: 6.000 morti e 40 milioni di tonnellate da bonificare [Asbestos: 6,000 dead and 40 million tons to be reclaimed].

Asbestos Mining in Western Australia

Jun 21, 2018

The consequences of the mining and processing of crocidolite (blue) asbestos fiber at the Wittenoom mine in Western Australia are the focus of a four-minute video entitled Wittenoom: An Australian Tragedy. The clip begins with Bronwen Duke who lost her parents, both her grandparents, her brother, three uncles and four cousins to asbestos-related diseases; the whole extended family had lived in the asbestos company town of town Wittenoom. Although the mine ceased operations in the 1960s, people continue to die from the long latency diseases caused by exposures to asbestos. See: Wittenoom: An Australian Tragedy.

RIP Ben Hills

Jun 19, 2018

Ben Hills, one of Australia’s foremost investigative journalists, died on June 10, 2018 after several battles with cancer. In his first book – Blue Murder (1986) – Hills told the “shocking truth about Wittenoom’ s deadly dust.” In the 200+ pages of this exposé, Hills detailed the horrendous conditions and deadly repercussions for those who worked and lived in the former crocidolite asbestos mining town in Western Australia. The book, long out of print, remains a testament to the men and women who worked to reveal this scandal and support all those whose lives had been sacrificed for the profits of the corporate giant operating the mine. See: A ‘slap-up party’ to send off journalist Ben Hills.

Mesothelioma at the Opera

Jun 19, 2018

Second only to Maria Callas, legendary Italian opera singer Edith Martelli has died from mesothelioma due to asbestos exposure at La Scala and other opera houses; she sang in Madrid, New York, Berlin, Salzburg and Tokyo. When she was diagnosed 14 years ago, she was given a prognosis of just 12 months. Commenting on the toxic exposures she received, her son Antonio said that his mother “had unknowingly and systematically” inhaled the invisible asbestos fibers contained in stage equipment, curtains, etc. which were found in the 1980s in theaters, including La Scala. See: Legnano, Edith Martelli è morta per l’amianto respirato alla Scala [Legnano, Edith Martelli died of asbestos breathed at La Scala].

Bronchial Asthma from Asbestos

Jun 19, 2018

A quality inspector who worked for seven years for TMD Friction do Brasil SA, a company which manufactured auto parts, succeeded in increasing his compensation for workplace asbestos exposure which resulted in him contracting bronchial asthma from R$15,000 (US$4,020) to R$80,000 (US$21,500) in a unanimous decision by the Superior Labor Tribunal. The plaintiff had claimed R$317,000 (US$85,000) in moral damages. See: Turma aumenta indenização a inspetor que desenvolveu asma brônquica por exposição ao Amianto [Compensation increased for inspector who developed bronchial asthma due to exposure to asbestos].

Revival of Asbestos Mine

Jun 18, 2018

Last week, Zimbabwe’s President Mnangagwa toured the Mashava Asbestos Mine in Masvingo Province and said that a government investment of $20 million will enable mining operations to recommence by the end of the year. It has been estimated that production of chrysotile (white) asbestos will begin at 40,000 tonnes/year and rise to full capacity of 75,000 tonnes. Four hundred workers are now employed at the facility with a further 1,000 jobs being created in the coming years. Production at the mine had ceased nearly ten years ago. See: Govt comes to Shabanie Mine’s rescue.

Court Win in Rio de Janeiro

Jun 18, 2018

Rio de Janeiro Labor Judge Mariane Bastos Scorsato issued a plaintiff’s verdict ordering a company to pay R$450,000 (~US$120,000) compensation to the wife of a worker who had died from an asbestos-related occupational disease. The deceased had worked for the company from 1964 until 1991. Despite his smoking history, the Judge concluded that the link between the workplace exposure and the disease, and the failures of the company to take adequate safety measures and inform the workers of the asbestos hazard made it liable to pay the moral damages awarded. See: Morte ocorrida por exposição a amianto gera indenização de R$ 450 mil [Death caused by exposure to asbestos generates indemnity of R$450 thousand].

Asbestos Hazard at Hospital

Jun 18, 2018

On June 14, 2018, an appeal court in France upheld a €40,000 suspended fine for a hospital in Besançon, a city in eastern France, which negligently exposed workers to asbestos over a four-year period. The court ruled that the management of the Jean Minjoz University Regional Hospital Center had endangered “others by overt and deliberate violation of a regulatory safety obligation.” See: Besançon: Les salariés exposés pendant quatre ans à l'amiante, 40.000 euros d'amende avec sursis requis contre l'hôpital [Besançon: Employees exposed for four years to asbestos, 40,000 euros in suspended fine against the hospital].

Asbestos Cancer Incidence Study

Jun 18, 2018

The cancer incidence of a cohort of ~2,500 asbestos-exposed men from Northeast Italy was compared to that of the general population from the Friuli Venezia Giulia region. Amongst the former group, there was an “excess in the incidence of both mesothelioma and lung cancer, showing increasing incidence rates at higher level of asbestos exposure.” The relative incidence of lung cancer was highest among members of the cohort who had worked in shipbuilding between 1974 and 1984. The authors concluded: “Our results confirm that asbestos-related diseases are still a major problem worldwide.” See: Cancer incidence in a cohort of asbestos-exposed workers undergoing health surveillance.

Asbestos at School

Jun 15, 2018

The bad news regarding the horrendous asbestos exposures experienced by students and teachers in Philadelphia schools continues. A new feature in The Inquirer documented astronomical levels of asbestos on damaged surfaces in classroom 106 at the A.S. Jenks Elementary School: “an alarming 1.15 million asbestos fibers per square centimeter. That’s far higher than the 100,000 measure that experts say requires immediate action.” Teacher Maria Greco, who had been informed classroom 106 had been remediated, found dust and disrepair; as a result of her persistent enquiries, it was revealed that no work had been done and her classroom was still a toxic nightmare. See: Solving the mystery of Room 106.

Call for Action!

Jun 15, 2018

After a meeting at the Congress of Deputies last week, the Izquierda Unida (IU) – Spain’s United Left political coalition – called on the Spanish Government and the Board of Communities to implement an action plan for the complete removal of asbestos from the Santa María de Benquerencia neighborhood in Toledo, whose residents have for many years been forced to endure the threat posed by environmental exposure to illegally dumped asbestos-containing debris. Members of the Platform “My neighborhood without asbestos” also took part in the meeting. See: IU exige un Plan conjunto de la Junta y la CHT para la retirada total del Amianto [IU requires a Joint Plan of the Board and the CHT for the total withdrawal of asbestos].

Union Calls for Asbestos Action

Jun 14, 2018

A media release issued by a trade union calls on Australia’s Foreign and Trade Ministers to open discussions with their American counterparts about the proven hazard posed by human exposures to asbestos in order to counter President Trump’s assertions that asbestos is “100 per cent safe, once applied.” “The Australian Government,” they urge “must come out strongly and condemn the United States for trying to wind back bans on asbestos because there will be knock-on effects for workers there and globally.” See: ETU calls on Ministers Bishop and Ciobo to tell the US asbestos dangers no ‘mafia conspiracy’.