News Item Archive
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Displaying 25 items in reverse date order starting from item 1973
Calls for Global Asbestos Ban
Feb 13, 2014
At the end of the International Conference on Monitoring and Surveillance of Asbestos-Related Diseases in Espoo, Finland, a press release was issued calling for a global asbestos ban. Speaking on behalf of the conference organizers, the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, Dr. Panu Oksa said: “There is no safe use of asbestos.” Dr. Ken Takahashi was categorical that “Asbestos-related deaths are preventable by banning the use of asbestos, as WHO recommends.” An increase in asbestos-related mortality is being observed in developing countries where knowledge is lacking about the hazards of exposure. See: Only a total ban of asbestos will end asbestos related deaths.
Investigation of Chinese Imports
Feb 13, 2014
Italian officials have begun an investigation into the illegal import from China of cars believed to be contaminated with asbestos. The Turin prosecutor’s office is focusing on models produced by Great Wall Motors, the largest car manufacturer in China. It is thought that asbestos may be contained in exhaust gaskets. Evidence will be presented to a judge who will decide if the import of these vehicles breaks a 1992 Italian law banning the use of asbestos. In 2012, Great Wall Motors was forced to recall thousands of cars which had been sold to Australia because of the presence of asbestos. See: Turin investigating asbestos found in cars from China.
Commission Upholds Asbestos Complaint
Feb 13, 2014
A commission appointed by the Pakistan authorities to investigate a criminal complaint over the occupational and environmental hazard created by Dadex Eternit Ltd., an asbestos manufacturer in Karachi has found that the company’s occupational health and safety precautions were inadequate (see: Two million Karachiites face cancer threat). The 25-page ruling verified the threat posed by the presence of chrysotile asbestos to workers, family members and the public in Gandap Town and found that air samples collected up to 15 km from the factory also contained chrysotile asbestos. See: Commission Report.
Dithering as Toxic Waste Grows
Feb 13, 2014
As rumors circulate about government proposals to minimize costs for dumping earthquake-generated asbestos waste by disposing of rubble at a substandard landfill (see: Questions asked over dumping of asbestos), the Minister for the Environment Amy Adams continues to prevaricate over the possibility of New Zealand banning the import, sale and use of asbestos and asbestos-containing products, blaming delays encountered in the preparation of an asbestos inventory which is not due for completion until the middle of 2014. See: Letter from Minister Amy Adams.
Unregulated Asbestos “Specialists”
Feb 10, 2014
The regulation of the industry for removing and disposing of asbestos-containing waste in Malta is a shambles according to an exposé by the Sunday Times of Malta. The result of this is hazardous conditions created not only by small outfits but by larger companies which operate without mandated public health insurance for government contracts. In his article of February 9, journalist Mark Micallef reported a black hole in government oversight of the situation with one agency saying another authority is responsible and the health authorities failing to respond when asked which body is tasked with preventing public and environmental health risks from asbestos? See: Most asbestos removers not insured for accidents.
Millions at risk!
Feb 10, 2014
The nearly 3 million residents of Quezon City (QC), the country’s most populated municipality and part of Metropolitan Manila, have once again been warned about the health hazard posed by asbestos-contaminated materials incorporated within residential properties. The population in QC, however, is not only at risk from asbestos building products, such as the many remaining asbestos-cement roofs in QC, but also from asbestos-containing products sold in the open market. The Trade Union Congress of the Philippines and environmental groups are calling for a ban on the import, processing, sale and use of all asbestos products. See: Residents warned vs. exposure to asbestos.
Asbestos Experts Speak Out!
Feb 8, 2014
Public Health and Medical Experts from Italy and Colombia will join forces at a conference in Bogotá on February 19 to 21 to discuss issues related to occupational and environmental health. A primary focus of this event will be the health threat posed by asbestos exposures. Named speakers include Daniela Marsili and Pietro Comba, both of whom are involved in an Italian–Latin American consortium to develop asbestos awareness training protocols as detailed in a recently published commentary in an Italian health journal. See: International Conference on Occupational and Environmental Health.
Asbestos Cancer at Turin University
Feb 8, 2014
La Stampa has reported the third workplace-related death due to asbestos cancer at the University of Turin. The victim in this case was a 54-year employee who had worked on the campus since 1982; she died earlier this week. It is believed that all of the asbestos victims had been environmentally exposed to asbestos in the library which was built in 1970 and where there was known contamination by crocidolite and chrysotile asbestos as recently as 2003. Turin’s Public Prosecutor Raffaele Guariniello is investigating these deaths. See: Palazzo Nuovo, un morto per la presenza di amianto [New Palace, another asbestos death].
Ovarian Cancer an Occupational Disease
Feb 5, 2014
For the first time, a French compensation scheme has accepted that workplace asbestos exposure was linked to death from ovarian cancer. A February 3 Press Release from ANDEVA (the National Asbestos Victims Association) announced that a regional committee for the recognition of occupational diseases had acknowledged the death of Liliane Claude Huet, who had worked with asbestos for 20 years at a boiler factory. See: Un cancer des ovaires lié à l'amiante bientôt reconnu comme maladie professionnelle [Ovarian cancer is finally recognized as an occupational disease].
International Agencies Call for Prevention
Feb 3, 2014
At a press conference in London today, representatives from the World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) launched a new book detailing the “alarming” growth in the global incidence of cancer: “developing countries are disproportionately affected by the increasing numbers of cancers.” The international agencies urged governments to adopt “efficient prevention strategies to curb the disease.” One example cited of a successful strategy was the WHO’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control which helped reduce tobacco consumption. See: IARC/WHO Press Release: Global battle against cancer won’t be won with treatment alone.
Ban Asbestos Conference in Pakistan
Feb 3, 2014
On Saturday, February 1, the first ban asbestos conference in Pakistan was held in Karachi. Victims, medical experts, academics, lawyers and politicians addressed the meeting; they confirmed that exposure to all types of asbestos can be lethal. Despite this known hazard, “nothing has been done to ban it by the Pakistani government,” organizer Haroon Ahmed said. In his talk Muhammed Yaseen Azad, a former president of Supreme Court Bar Council, pledged to investigate asbestos cases pending before the Supreme Court and to lobby for judicial action. See: Banned across the world, asbestos continues to plague Pakistan.
Algeria’s Asbestos Hazard
Feb 3, 2014
Despite having banned asbestos, widespread asbestos contamination of public buildings and homes remains a potent threat to public and occupational health in Algeria. According to data cited, hundreds of people die every year from asbestos-related diseases. Calls are being made for the government to introduce stricter regulations to prevent hazardous exposures and to undertake campaigns to raise public awareness. A new company has recently been launched in Algeria which is specializing in the safe removal of asbestos based on protocols and practices devised in France. See: Les dangers de l’amiante sur la santé publique [The dangers of asbestos for public health].
Waste Disposal in New Zealand
Feb 1, 2014
New Zealand is a country which has continually denied its asbestos problem (see: New Zealand’s Failing Asbestos Policy!). It comes as no surprise, therefore, to hear that 32,000 tonnes of asbestos-contaminated waste has been buried at a North Canterbury site; the majority of this rubble comes from the Canterbury earthquake. Although the public is assured that safety precautions are followed in the disposal, the fact of the matter is that had asbestos not been used in the first place – and it is still being used – there wouldn’t have been the need for expensive precautions to be taken whilst dumping it. See: Asbestos mountain fills Kate Valley.
Disposal of Asbestos Waste in Serbia
Feb 1, 2014
The disposal of hazardous construction and demolition waste in Serbia remains problematic. To address the issue of managing asbestos waste, a workshop was held in Belgrade on January 27 & 28, 2014 (see: Workshop Agenda). The event was sponsored by a consortium of national organizations with the assistance of European partners. Croatian, Serbian and German experts made presentations to dozens of participants who included high-level government officials, civil servants, ministerial and municipal consultants and technical analysts. Two presentations from the Workshop – one concerning treatment of asbestos in Serbia the other an overview of EU legislation – are informative.
Boffetta Withdraws from Top Job
Jan 31, 2014
A 15-line tidbit in today’s Le Monde draws the line under the controversial candidacy of Paolo Boffetta as head of one of France's leading health institutions: the Centre for Research in Epidemiology and Population Health (CESP). The news item states that the industry-linked scientist withdrew his candidacy in a letter sent to the heads of CESP on January 28. Boffetta’s links to industry had been exposed in Le Monde and his candidacy had been denounced by asbestos victims and international scientists. See Le Monde: Epidémiologie: retrait d’une candidature contestée (Epidemiology: retraction of contested candidature).
Victims Meet Ministerial Official
Jan 31, 2014
Yesterday (January 30, 2014), a delegation of Belgian campaigners from the asbestos victims’ group ABEVA had a 40-minute private meeting with the Principal Secretary of the Prime Minister on the occasion of a Parliamentary vote on whether the national asbestos fund should be extended. The official received a detailed letter presented to him by ABEVA for the Prime Minister which demanded that a real discussion on the country’s asbestos legacy be initiated. Although some improvements were made yesterday by Parliament to the compensation regime, many victims, such as those with asbestos-related lung cancer, remain unacknowledged.
Source: ABEVA Correspondence.
Fire at old Turner & Newall Asbestos Mill
Jan 31, 2014
Residents were warned to keep windows closed as fire took hold Thursday night at the old Turner & Newall premises on Rooley Moor Road. Local activists who have long campaigned for the asbestos pollution at the site to be remediated are seriously concerned that the authorities are providing false reassurances to the public about the potential health and safety issues posed by this incident. A spokesman for the Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service had said the threat of asbestos being airborne was "limited". See: Huge fire at former asbestos factory.
Summons Issued for Asbestos Pollution
Jan 30, 2014
On January 20, 2014, the National Green Tribunal in New Delhi issued a ruling which allowed a case regarding hazardous contamination posed by abandoned chrysotile asbestos mines in Roro, Chaibasa, Jharkhand to proceed. Indian activists have established the prevalence of asbestos-related diseases amongst local people and former mine workers. The miners as well as the mines were abandoned in 1983 when Hyderabad Asbestos Cement Products Ltd. (now known as Hyderabad Industries Limited) ceased operations. Asbestos-containing debris dumped in this region adds to the hazardous situation faced by 14 nearby communities. See: Ruling of National Green Tribunal.
Baryulgil’s Asbestos Legacy
Jan 30, 2014
Even though the asbestos mine at Baryulgil closed more than 30 years ago, new cases of asbestos-related disease are still occurring. While most of the miners have now died, new cases are being diagnosed from environmental exposures. According to local GP Dr Ray Jones: "For the next 10 years at least, the number of cases of asbestos-related illnesses across Australia will still increase.. We're still seeing many cases of disease as a result of the asbestos that was breathed in 40 years ago in Baryulgil, when the mine was operational. See: Asbestos related illnesses continue to take a toll on the Aboriginal community of Baryulgil.
Asbestos Case in India’s Supreme Court
Jan 29, 2014
Arguments began on Monday, January 27, 2014 at the Indian Supreme Court over whether Google was guilty of defaming Visaka, a producer of asbestos-cement building products, for hosting an article by ban asbestos campaigner Gopal Krishna which “contained allegations Visaka was being protected because it was backed by leaders of the ruling Congress party.” Google India challenged Visaka’s charges at the Andhra Pradesh High Court. It lost that case in 2011, after which it appealed to the Supreme Court, claiming it shouldn't be held responsible for everything on its sites as it cannot control what users post. See: Google Takes Defamation Case to India's Supreme Court.
Swiss Eternit Guilty of Manslaughter
Jan 29, 2014
In a landmark case, the highest Swiss Court found the Swiss Eternit asbestos company guilty of manslaughter for the death of a worker from its Niederurnen factory. As a teenager, the deceased had been exposed to asbestos at the plant. He died in 2007 from mesothelioma aged 49. The verdict noted that by the 1970s the hazards of exposure to asbestos were known; the family of the deceased were awarded the right to support from the Law on Assistance to Victims of Crimes. Although Swiss law currently prevents a criminal case being brought, appeals to a European Court could change this. See: All’Eternit di Niederurner negli anni ‘70s vonsumo un “amicidio colposo” Il Monferrato January 28, 2014.
Routine Flouting of Asbestos Ban
Jan 28, 2014
An investigation by a Croatian reporter which exposed the widespread import of illegal asbestos-containing products into Croatia has been awarded prestigious journalistic prizes. The 6-page 2012 article entitled We import banned asbestos from the EU won reporter Sergej Župancic awards for environmental and investigative journalism. Documents from the Customs Authority he cited revealed that since the country had banned asbestos (January 1, 2006), 11,677 tons of asbestos material had been brought into Croatia; the majority of the illegal imports came from EU countries (which also have bans). See: EU countries sell banned asbestos to Croatia.
Victims’ Groups Launch Initiatives
Jan 24, 2014
The Italian asbestos victims group from Casale Monferrato – AfeVA – is holding hold a press conference on Tuesday, January 28, 2014 at which two projects will be launched. The first is a World Asbestos E-library to help catalogue the huge flow of information on legal, political, medical and research developments related to asbestos. The second is a joint research initiative with French colleagues (ANDEVA) to document the role of European victims’ groups in the struggle for asbestos justice and the campaign to ban its use. AfeVA’s Alessandro Pugno, who is involved with both projects, will be available to answer questions. See: Press release: AfeVA Launches New Projects.
Asbestos Exposure and Digestive Cancers
Jan 24, 2014
A new paper in Occupational and Environmental Medicine detailed research using data collected from a cohort of Chinese chrysotile asbestos miners and mill workers over 26 years that found “a clear exposure-response relationship between asbestos dust exposure and mortality from stomach cancers …” The paper concluded that there was “additional evidence for the association between exposure to chrysotile mining dust and excess mortality from digestive cancers, particularly stomach cancer.” Excess mortality was also observed from oesophageal and liver cancers. See: Exposure to chrysotile mining dust and digestive cancer mortality in a Chinese miner/miller cohort.
Industry Lobby Blocks Asbestos Ban
Jan 24, 2014
In a paper commissioned by the International Labor Organization, the destructive role played by the asbestos lobby is highlighted. Author Somkiat Siriruttanapruk states: “In spite of policy commitments by the previous Government, the deadline for banning asbestos in the country has been postponed on a number of occasions… the continuous interruption of the process by pro-asbestos agencies (both international and local) is a major obstacle. Consequently, despite considerable support from several alliances and the public, making the national asbestos ban a reality is still a long way off.” See: Strategy and implementation of the programme for the prevention and control of pneumoconiosis in Thailand.