News Item Archive

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Displaying 25 items in reverse date order starting from item 160
 

Banning Asbestos in Asia

Sep 21, 2018

The East Asia Asbestos Meeting was held in Hong Kong on September 20, 2018 and included delegates from China, Korea and Japan who discussed issues related to the continuing use of asbestos in the region. This event took place within days of the Southeast Asia Ban Asbestos Conference 2018 (Vietnam, September 13 & 14, 2018) and not long after the South Asia Asbestos Strategy Meeting (Sri Lanka, July 10 & 11, 2018). Sponsors of the September 20 meeting included the Asian Ban Asbestos Network, the Asia Monitor Resource Centre and the International Ban Asbestos Secretariat. See: Group photo.
 

Eternit Condemned!

Sep 21, 2018

A Brazilian Court has awarded compensation of R$1 million (US$240,000+) for moral and material damages to a former Eternit employee who contracted asbestos cancer as a result of occupational exposure. The Court held the company liable and condemned Eternit’s failure to protect workers from the human health risks of asbestos exposures; despite knowing that the use of asbestos could cause debilitating and fatal diseases to workers, the company’s use of this substance continued. See: Empresa Eternit é condenada a pagar indenização de 1 milhão para ex-funcionário [Eternit company is ordered to pay compensation of 1 million to former employee].
 

Compensation for Asbestos Anxiety

Sep 21, 2018

The Amiens Court of Appeal upheld a ruling that awarded 38 former employees from a plant in Northern France compensation for anxiety caused by the knowledge that they had been exposed to asbestos. Commenting on the conditions at the Hazemayer factory, a former employee said: “We cut and processed asbestos to make the necessary parts for the manufacture of fuses and circuit breakers. Every day we were handling carcinogens.” The Appeal Court increased the amount of damages from €4,000 set by the labor court to €8,000. See: Amiante: la cour d’appel d’Amiens donne raison aux anciens salariés d'Hazemayer à Saint-Quentin [The Court of Appeal of Amiens upholds claims by former employees of Hazemayer in Saint-Quentin].
 

Verdict for Non-Occupational Exposure

Sep 21, 2018

A court in Madrid has ruled that the Spanish asbestos multinational Uralita was negligent in allowing non-occupational asbestos exposures which resulted in 14 people in Barcelona’s Cerdanyola and Ripollet areas contracting asbestos-related diseases. The plaintiffs – who were awarded a total of €1.7m (~US$2m) – either lived with Uralita workers or within 2 kilometers of the company’s factory. Previous rulings held the company liable for asbestos diseases contracted by former workers. See: Uralita deberá indemnizar con 1,7 millones a afectados por el amianto de Cerdanyola y Ripollet [Uralita must compensate with 1.7 million the asbestos affected of Cerdanyola and Ripollet].
 

Mandatory Asbestos Removal

Sep 21, 2018

A decision by Judge Patrícia Erica Luna da Silva from the São Paulo district of Rosana has been handed down in response to a public civil action brought in May 2018 by the São Paulo Public Prosecutor's Office; the Judge has given the São Paulo Sewage Company (SABESP) 18 months to replace asbestos-containing water pipes in the Rosana district. The basis for this verdict is Law 12,684/ 2007 prohibiting asbestos use in São Paulo State; the constitutionality of this law was upheld by the Supreme Court in November 2017. See: Juíza manda Sabesp substituir tubulação de amianto no interior de SP [Judge orders SABESP to replace asbestos pipe in the interior of SP].
 

Asbestos in Schools

Sep 19, 2018

On September 17, 2018, a report by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) documented a significant failure to protect schoolchildren and teachers from hazardous exposures to asbestos (see also: one-page summation of ongoing failures by the EPA to perform “sufficient compliance inspections of schools to reduce asbestos exposure”). See full 26-page EPA report: EPA Needs to Re-Evaluate Its Compliance Monitoring Priorities for Minimizing Asbestos Risks in Schools.
 

Post-Earthquake Asbestos Hazard

Sep 19, 2018

Three months after the June 18, 2018 earthquake hit the Osaka area of Japan, some libraries, community centers, classrooms, and other facilities remain closed due to collapsed ceilings and materials containing asbestos. A multipurpose center – home to the central library, the municipal welfare department and the central community center – remains shut without any plans for reopening due to the threat posed by damaged asbestos-containing products in the building’s ceiling. The situation is replicated in buildings throughout the prefecture. See: Public facilities still closed since June Osaka quake for fear of asbestos exposure.
 

Asbestos Claimants’ Victories

Sep 19, 2018

Decisions this month have proved beneficial to asbestos-injured workers in Brazil. As a result of revisions to the National Classification System, people with injuries caused by occupational exposures to carcinogens who were insured by the National Social Security Institute can apply for early retirement. The 34th Labor Court of São Paulo awarded R$1million to a former Eternit worker who lost a lung to asbestos cancer following toxic exposures between 1976 and 1991. See: Trabalhador exposto a agente cancerígeno tem direito à contagem de tempo especial para aposentadoria [Worker exposed to carcinogenic agent is entitled to special time count for retirement].
 

SNCF Betrays Railway Workers

Sep 19, 2018

On September 5, 2018, the Reims Court of Appeal overturned a 2017 court ruling which awarded 72 railway workers the sum of €60,000 each (€30,000 compensation for anxiety and €30,000 for the company’s breach of obligations) for asbestos exposures experienced over a period of 12 years at the railway yards in Romilly-sur-Seine. The defendant in that case, the Société Nationale des Chemins de Fer Français (SNCF) – France’s state-owned railway company – appealed. The Reims Court’s ruling, which deemed the complaints “inadmissible,” has been soundly criticized by victims’ groups and unions. See: Amiante à la SNCF :la justice se fout de la santé des cheminots [Asbestos at the SNCF: justice does not care about the health of railway workers].
 

Asbestos Use and Misuse in the UAE

Sep 20, 2018

Although asbestos was banned in 2006 by a United Arab Emirates (UAE) statute and local building regulations stipulate that asbestos use on new construction projects is illegal, the UAE consumed more than 26,000 tonnes of asbestos in 2009. UAE legislation does not prohibit the import, production or use of asbestos-cement water pipes. Other practices which continue to endanger occupational and public health safety include the demolition of buildings containing asbestos, the reuse of discarded asbestos products and the unregulated dumping of asbestos-contaminated waste. See: Asbestos: There’s no time to lose.
 

UK’s Asbestos Failings

Sep 20, 2018

A new report entitled: “Why the UK Needs Tighter Asbestos Controls” concludes that UK asbestos safety regulations and preventative measures are weaker than those in other European countries which have less of a problem and calls for the implementation of stricter controls to prevent toxic exposures. Of particular interest is the discussion of impact of the cumulative effects of low-level asbestos exposures to contaminated products within the national infrastructure on the life expectancy of children. See: UK must bring its asbestos safety rules into line with rest of Europe.
 

Incentives for Replacing Asbestos Roofs

Sep 18, 2018

New legislation is being drafted in Italy which will provide financial incentives for replacing asbestos roofing with photovoltaic systems. According to the draft bill, which awaits approval by the Ministry of the Environment, eligibility will be dependent on installing solar panels after asbestos roofing has been removed. A budget of €250,000,000 has been approved for this initiative. Priority will be given to applications for work on schools, hospitals, other public buildings and other buildings open to the public. See: In arrivo il “bonus Amianto” [The “asbestos bonus” is coming].
 

Asbestos in the Air

Sep 17, 2018

Last week (September 12, 2018), the Ministry of Defence (MoD) announced that an investigation was proceeding to establish whether there was asbestos contamination of Sea King helicopters two years after a report by the Australian Defence Force had concluded that occupational asbestos exposure experienced on a Sea King helicopter by Petty Officer Greg Lukes had contributed to his cancer death (see: Petty Officer Greg Lukes' death linked to Sea King service). Considering the huge media coverage of this story – not least because Prince William had flown this type of helicopter – the MoD announcement was pretty uninformative. See: Sea king helicopters: asbestos.
 

Asian Campaign to Ban Asbestos

Sep 17, 2018

In September 12-14, 2018, trade unionists, asbestos victims’ campaigners and doctors from eleven countries in Southeast Asia met in Hanoi, Vietnam to build momentum for a regional ban on asbestos. Also taking part in the sessions were experts from Australia, the World Health Organization and Vietnam ministries. During the conference, it was announced that Vietnam would ban the use of asbestos roofing sheet in 2023. Sponsors of the conference included; Australia’s Union Aid Abroad (APHEDA), the Asian Ban Asbestos Network, the Asia Monitor Resource Centre, the International Ban Asbestos Secretariat and Solidar Suisse. See: Photo from South East Asia Ban Asbestos Meeting and also Facebook Video .
 

Asbestos Alert in Nigeria

Sep 17, 2018

An alert has been raised in Nigeria by Prince Gbolahan Lawal, the Lagos State Commissioner for Housing, who warned the public about the hazard posed by the use of asbestos in domestic premises: “asbestos ceilings are carcinogenic, it causes cancer and if you have it in your house you should try and change it’’ he told the News Agency of Nigeria. Lawal is calling for a nationwide program to raise awareness about the risk of asbestos in public and private buildings. See: LASG warns against use of asbestos in homes, says it is carcinogenic.
 

Asbestos Seminar in Bahia

Sep 17, 2018

On September 27, 2018 an asbestos seminar is being held in Vitória da Conquista, a city in the Brazilian State of Bahia, which will be addressed by Brazilian as well as international experts including: Dr. Marcia Kamei Lopez Aliaga, Engineer Fernanda Giannasi, asbestos victims’ leader Mr. Eliezer João de Souza, Professor Annie Thebaud-Mony (France) and Dr. Agata Mazzeo (Italy). The focus of the meeting will be on the public health problems and environmental impact caused by the commercial exploitation of asbestos in the Bahia mining town of Bom Jesus da Serra between 1939 and1967. See: Seminário do Sudoeste Baiano sobre o Amianto [South West Bahia Seminar on Asbestos].
 

Another Court Victory

Sep 15, 2018

For the third time, on August 31, 2018 a Japanese court ruled in favour of construction workers injured by occupational exposure to asbestos when the Osaka High Court held the government and 10 construction material manufacturers liable to pay ¥302 million (US$2.7m) in damages to 27 former construction workers or their surviving families. In its ruling, the Osaka High Court recognized the government’s responsibility for health problems suffered by self-employed operatives; presiding judge Naoyuki Tagawa said: “If the state’s measures to regulate asbestos were substantially unreasonable, they should inevitably be considered to be illegal.” See: Osaka High Court orders government, 10 firms to pay ¥302 million in damages over asbestos exposure.
 

The Human Cost of Asbestos Use

Sep 15, 2018

A paper, which has recently been published, estimated that the occupational burden of disease (OBD) of asbestos-related diseases (ARDs) in Korea between 1998 and 2013 was: 4,492 deaths due to all ARDs and 71,763.7 potential years of life lost (PHYLL). The study showed that although asbestos use in Korea has been banned, the incidence of ARDs is increasing. The authors recommended that to reduce OBDs of ARDs in Korea, measures should be taken to achieve the early detection and proper management of ARDs. See: Occupational Burden of Asbestos-Related Diseases in Korea, 1998–2013: Asbestosis, Mesothelioma, Lung Cancer, Laryngeal Cancer, and Ovarian Cancer.
 

Asbestos: The Battles Continue

Sep 15, 2018

In the aftermath of the Brazilian Supreme Court’s 2017 ruling which declared the use of asbestos unconstitutional, more details have been emerging about the ongoing struggle for official recognition and compensation by workers and their families injured by asbestos exposures. Asbestos defendants – including nationally known companies such as Eternit and Saint Gobain – which had used diverse measures, some illegal, to avoid their asbestos liabilities are now facing an uphill battle as courts recognize the defendants’ responsibilities for causing asbestos injuries to employees and award substantial damages to claimants. See: Mortes silenciosas [Silent deaths].
 

Asbestos Workers Unionize

Sep 15, 2018

In an election held on August 31, 2018 at the Everest Industries Ltd. asbestos factory in Kolkata, West Bengal, workers turned their backs on the pro-management trade union and voted to be represented by the Everest Industries Ltd Permanent Employees Union (Registered No 28210) which is supporting calls for the transition by Everest to an asbestos-free technology. There was strong opposition to the new union from management as well as local and federal politicians, some of whom were present during voting in an alleged attempt to sway the vote. At its first executive meeting after the vote, the union called for joint action by all India’s asbestos workers. See: Asbestos Workers of Kolkata have won the first battle.
 

Asbestos in Schools

Sep 15, 2018

On August 30, 2018, members of the group “Equal Education” picketed the Gauteng education department in Johannesburg to highlight failures to address the asbestos contamination of schools. The demonstrators condemned the plans to remediate asbestos at 29 schools by 2020 as “wholly insufficient” and called for action on the asbestos hazard at all schools: “The dangers of asbestos are so severe that any school infrastructure made out of asbestos, even partially, should be a priority... it is inhumane to continue to risk the health of [pupils], teachers, school administrative staff and the school's community through continued exposure to asbestos.” See: Equal Education demands that asbestos schools be replaced.
 

Calls for Ban on Asbestos Brakes

Sep 12, 2018

A recent report submitted to the Parliamentary Committee Inquiry into the atmospheric air conditions in Tbilisi, the capital of the Eurasian country of Georgia, highlighted the need for greater public awareness and political action on the threat to public health posed by the ongoing use of asbestos brake pads. The author, Gela Kvashilava of the NGO Partnership for Road Safety, recommended: legislation to ban asbestos brake pads, increased monitoring of imported products, the introduction of initiatives to encourage the use of asbestos-free alternatives and further research regarding the hazard posed by asbestos exposure of construction workers. See: Call for asbestos free brake pads to improve air quality and public health in Georgia.
 

Union Calls for Asbestos Action

Sep 12, 2018

Last month (August 2018), the Australian Council of Trade Unions strongly condemned the failure of the Turnbull Government to adopt measures recommended by a Senate investigation to eliminate illegal and toxic asbestos imports. ACTU Assistant Secretary Michael Borowick was critical of the multiple loopholes that continued to endanger lives: “When importers bring asbestos or contaminated products to Australia they put working people and the public at risk. We have seen contaminated products end up in the Perth Children’s Hospital, in crayons and in quad bikes.” See: ACTU media release: Government’s weak response to asbestos recommendations.
 

Asbestos Remediation Ordered!

Sep 12, 2018

In a Judgment on August 14, 2018 India's National Green Tribunal mandated that Hyderabad Industries Ltd. undertake environmental decontamination of former asbestos mining areas in the Indian state of Jharkhand and pay compensation to individuals injured by toxic exposures. This landmark judgment ordered that a committee of government officials submit a plan by September 2018 stipulating measures which will be implemented to protect the health of nearby tribal communities. See: Tribal Communities Score Asbestos Clean Up [Victory].
 

Metrics of ARD Research Areas

Sep 12, 2018

A paper published by scientists from Asia, Australia and North America details a “declining emphasis” on research into the impact on public health of asbestos exposures based on a study of relevant articles published between 1991-2016. Recognizing the sizable burden of asbestos-related diseases (ARDs) – “most of the world’s population live in countries where asbestos use continues” – the authors highlighted the continuing need for primary prevention. See: Bibliometric analysis of gaps in research on asbestos-related diseases: declining emphasis on public health over 26 years.