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International Ban Asbestos Secretariat

International Ban Asbestos Secretariat

lka@btinternet.com

 

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Sep 20, 2017

The “National Agreement on the Controlled Use of Asbestos” between Brazil’s National Committee of Asbestos Workers and the National Confederation of [Asbestos] Workers in Industry and the country’s asbestos trade association the Chrysotile Institute (Instituto Brasileiro do Crisotila), which allowed for the contravention of mandatory health and safety measures, has been annulled by a court ruling. See: A farsa do lobby do amianto:Sentença – Acordo nacional do uso seguro do amianto celebrado entre CNTA/CNTI e IBC é extinto [The asbestos lobby farce: Judgment – National agreement on the safe use of asbestos signed between CNTA/CNTI and IBC is extinct].

Sep 19, 2017

A September 16 commentary on a Brazilian legal website clarified the content and ramifications of Supreme Court (STF) decisions handed down in August regarding the constitutionality of state asbestos bans and the unconstitutionality of the federal government’s asbestos law. The explanation is clear – the STF is competent to declare unconstitutional rules adopted as the basis for decisions even if those rules were not disputed by those bringing the litigation, in this case the National Confederation of [Asbestos] Industrial Workers. See: É proibida a utilização de qualquer forma de amianto no Brasil [The use of any form of asbestos in Brazil is prohibited].

Sep 19, 2017

On September 8, 2017 a Consumer Product Recall was issued by Health Canada, the department of the Canadian government responsible for protecting public health, for a series of make-up products marketed under the Justice Just Shine brand, including pressed powder, eye shadow, bronzer, shimmer powder etc. Trace amounts of asbestos were found in Just Shine Shimmer Powder imported from China; other products from the same manufacturer were recalled as a “cautionary measure.” Thousands of units were sold in Canada between February and August 2017. Tests done in the US also found asbestos in the “Just Shine Shimmer Powder” make-up sold by Justice. See: Justice (Tween Brands Inc.) recalls various cosmetics.

Sep 19, 2017

Guidance issued by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) in September 2017 entitled “a14 asbestos essentials,” explains good practice for the removal of asbestos cement products from small structures which can be undertaken by non-specialists as non-licensed tasks. Topics considered in the 3-page factsheet include preparing the work area, equipment, procedure, overlaying AC sheets, removal, cleaning, disposal, personal decontamination, clearance and checking off. The list of essential HSE reading material included in this leaflet is informative. See: Removing asbestos cement (AC) sheets, gutters etc and dismantling a small AC structure.

Sep 18, 2017

At a September 14 press conference in Zaporizhia, a city in south-eastern Ukraine, a representative of the Ukrainian Chrysotile Association – responding to an announcement some weeks ago that Ukraine planned to ban asbestos – said that the country’s “economy is not ready to completely abandon the use of asbestos.” Asbestos industry lobbyist Yury Torosyan told journalists that: “For cars, especially heavy trucks, as well as railway carriages, there is virtually no alternative to asbestos-containing [brake] pads.” See: Экономика Украины не готова к отказу от асбеста – профильное объединение [The economy of Ukraine is not ready to abandon asbestos - a profile association].

Sep 18, 2017

A September 17 feature on the website of the Canadian Broadcasting Company marked the 25th anniversary of the demise of Cassiar, British Colombia – a Canadian company town that was centered around an asbestos mine. For 40 years this town was home to 1,500 people; in 1992 the mine shut down unexpectedly when the owners went into receivership. Residents were told to vacate their properties and the town was razed to the ground. A summer reunion this year provided the opportunity for many former locals to return to Cassiar to say a final farewell. See: ‘It was like one big family’: 25 years later, a B.C. ghost town's former residents still miss their home.

Sep 18, 2017

A scathing editorial in the French newspaper Le Monde on September 16, 2017 condemned the Paris Appeal Court for allowing asbestos defendants a “license to kill” tens of thousands of citizens by its cancellation of indictments for homicides and unintentional injuries against nine decision-makers, industrialists, scientists and senior civil servants suspected of promoting policies supportive of the asbestos industry between 1982 and 1995. The charges, which were dismissed on September 15, arose from test cases regarding toxic exposures at Jussieu University and the Normed shipyards in Dunkirk. See: Amiante: la dérobade de la justice [Asbestos: the evasion of justice].

Sep 18, 2017

The community of Monfalcone, a city at the heart of Italy’s asbestos epidemic, has called on regional authorities to establish a mesothelioma day to raise awareness of asbestos cancer, in proposals submitted to officials of Friuli Venezia Giulia, an autonomous region in north-east Italy. In a bill proposed by the Mayor of Cantieri, April 28 is suggested as a memorial day for asbestos victims to acknowledge the “sacrifice of many Italian workers and their families who unknowingly went to their deaths [because of] breathing asbestos fibers.” See: Si istituisca la giornata nazionale per le vittime dell'amianto [Establishing a National Day for Asbestos Victims].

Sep 18, 2017

Incidence data from the population-based Cancer Registry of the Republic of Slovenia for the period 1961-2014 were studied alongside data for national asbestos imports in order to delineate temporal and spatial variations in Slovenian mesothelioma incidence for the last 50 years. The authors of a newly published paper based on this research found that: “the maximum value of the asbestos import curve corresponds to the peak of mesothelioma curve exactly 30 years later. Both increases before the peak are comparable in time interval and steepness. The highest mesothelioma risk was detected for the cohort born between 1940 and 1944.” See: Time trends and spatial patterns in the mesothelioma incidence in Slovenia, 1961-2014.

Sep 18, 2017

On September 15, 2017, the intrepid walkers of the Asbestos Diseases Society of Australia (ADSA) completed their 2017 walk to raise mesothelioma awareness and research funds in Perth with a rally in Solidarity Park, across the street from Parliament House. ADSA officials, supporters and clinicians made the final stage of the walk together finishing up at midday at Harvest Terrace in West Perth. Throughout the week, the walkers have met local people, liaised with the media and proceeded along their way through the Central Wheat belt towns of Merredin, Quairading and Northam. Well done to all! See: Website of Asbestos Diseases Society of Australia.

Sep 16, 2017

The Paris Court of Appeal handed down a verdict yesterday (September 15) annulling criminal indictments lodged in 2011 and 2012 against nine defendants, charged over asbestos-related deaths, who had been accused of homicide and unintentional injuries as a result of their membership and/or employment by the Permanent Asbestos Committee, an association representing the interests of the French asbestos industry. Victims’ campaigners condemned the verdict saying it gave French manufacturers a “license to kill.” See: Amiante: les mises en examen annulées dans les dossiers Jussieu et Normed [Asbestos: cancelled indictments in Jussieu and Normed files].

Sep 16, 2017

On September 22, 2017, an ultimatum by the Canadian mining conglomerate Eldorado Gold to the Greek government will expire. The company has threatened to pull the plug on plans for gold mining which could result in the loss of 2,000 jobs. Opposition to the mine has been vociferous from people concerned about the environmental impact, destruction of the forest and extinction of wildlife. The use of explosives could release asbestos and heavy metals into the atmosphere. See: Ναι ή όχι στην εξόρυξη του χρυσού; Μια ψύχραιμη απάντηση από έναν καθηγητή Εδαφολογίας [Yes or No to Gold Mining? A Considered Response by a Professor of Soil Science].

Sep 15, 2017

The Summer 2017 issue of the British Asbestos Newsletter is available online. The lead article entitled Action Mesothelioma Day 2017 details a multitude of events which took place in July and concludes that this national day of mesothelioma awareness and remembrance has “now come of age.” Contributions from asbestos surveyor Ian Pass and Liz Darlison from Mesothelioma UK are informative updates on mandatory asbestos requirements for dutyholders and the availability and success of UK clinical trials for mesothelioma patients. See: Issue 104, British Asbestos Newsletter.

Sep 13, 2017

A letter signed by global leaders in the fight for asbestos justice was submitted to the Yokohama District Court on September 7, 2017 and the Tokyo High Court on September 13 urging them “to support the rights of Japanese asbestos victims and issue a judgment which is fair to them and their families.” The letter relates to lawsuits brought by claimants and families regarding toxic exposures to asbestos during employment in the construction sector. The main defendants in these cases are the government and former manufacturers of asbestos-containing construction materials. See: International Joint Letter to Tokyo and Yokohama Courts.

Sep 12, 2017

Despite having banned asbestos, many people in Liberia live under asbestos-cement roofs; there is widespread ignorance about the dangers of asbestos in the country. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), a program to remove toxic roofing which involves individuals or institutions notifying the EPA is ongoing. “The EPA will than recommend certified hazardous service providers that will help in the development of a removal and disposal plan that has to be approved by the EPA.” The EPA monitors removal work and toxic debris must be sent to a designated disposal site. See: Many Liberians Exposed to Cancer Living in Asbestos Roofed Buildings.

Sep 12, 2017

The Occupational & Environmental Health Network of India (OEHNI) has highlighted the error of using asbestos-cement building products in flood reconstruction in a letter to the Chief Minister of Gujarat saying: “Generally it is seen that while rehabilitating the villages asbestos cement sheets are being used as roofing which can bring negative results for the society in the long run.” Urging the Minister to carry out rehabilitation necessitated by widespread damage from the flooding in July, OEHNI National Coordinator Jagdish Patel points out that Gujarat can set a precedent for other states by banning asbestos use in the reconstruction. See: OEHNI Letter to Gujarat Chief Minister.

Sep 17, 2017

The asbestos house of cards built on “denial, distortion and distraction” is collapsing. With more and more evidence documenting the toxic effects of human exposures and action being taken the world over to protect populations, preliminary data for recent years have shown a dramatic fall in consumption and reports from the asbestos frontline have documented a waning of industry influence and power even in home markets. This article draws on recent developments, published material and new data which detail a collapse in political, social and commercial support for the asbestos industry and the growth in support for national and regional action on the asbestos hazard in Asia and Latin America. [Read full article]

Sep 1, 2017

This letter is in response to recent comments made by President Rustam Minnikhanov of Tartarstan, Russia about the toxic nature of chrysotile (white) asbestos during a confrontation with Mr Andrey Holm, the head of Orenburg Minerals JSC – a major Russian producer and exporter of chrysotile asbestos fiber. During a meeting to discuss the state of the roads in the Kazan area, the President queried whether asbestos, a substance extolled by Holm, was a poison. According to a Russian environmental campaigner: “This is the first time an administrator of this high level questioned the safety of asbestos.” [For a Russian version of this letter click here] [Read full article]

Aug 26, 2017

Legislation regarding the use of asbestos in Brazil – the world’s third largest producer of white asbestos – was the subject of a split decision on August 24, 2017 by the Supreme Court which upheld the right of São Paulo State to ban asbestos but failed to declare the federal law allowing asbestos use unconstitutional by one vote, despite majority support for a national ban from the nine Justices eligible to vote. This is a great victory for the Brazilian Association of the Asbestos-Exposed, for its legal advisors and for the associations which invested their expertise, time and resources to challenge a dangerous law and a status quo that prioritized corporate profits over public health. There is no place in the 21st century for asbestos. [Read full article]

Jul 30, 2017

A press release issued in the aftermath of an international ban asbestos mission to Indonesia held between July 25 and 28, 2017, highlighted the “Urgent need for banning asbestos in Indonesia to avoid large increases in lung cancer rates and other asbestos related diseases in coming decades.” In meetings and workshops with trade unionists, asbestos sufferers, medical professionals, academics, and government officials, Canadian Prof. Yv Bonnier Viger detailed the tragic asbestos legacy in consuming countries and issued dire warnings of the price to be paid for Indonesia’s asbestos use. “Only 7 countries use more than 50,000 tonnes [of asbestos] per year – including Indonesia.” [Read full article]

Jul 25, 2017

In a press release dated July 21, 2017, the Vietnam General Confederation of Labour declared support for prohibitions on the use of asbestos by 2020. This position was adopted in the wake of a Hanoi meeting which provided the opportunity for Australian, Canadian, Japanese and Vietnamese experts to discuss the multi-faceted hazards posed by the continuing use of asbestos in Vietnam with national stakeholders, including representatives of the asbestos-cement roofing industry. Unfortunately, the participation of industry delegates was obstructive as they claimed there was “no proof chrysotile asbestos causes cancer…,” a claim which has been rejected by global experts and independent scientists. [Read full article]

Jul 20, 2017

The number of cross-border ban asbestos initiatives is escalating on an almost weekly basis with victims, family members as well as academic and technical experts travelling far afield to collaborate with like-minded colleagues. This month alone, we have seen groups of Japanese delegates visit the UK on an asbestos solidarity mission, while UK, Australian, Indian and Indonesian campaigners have taken part in activities to mark the 30th anniversary of the Ban Asbestos Network of Japan. Throughout the Mekong region, a ban asbestos roadshow has visited Cambodia, Laos and other countries to generate support for asbestos bans through the provision of up-to-date data and independent research. [Read full article]

Jul 17, 2017

A press release dated July 14, 2017 details efforts made by representatives of 13 Cambodian Ministries and trade unions to build capacity regarding the asbestos hazard, during a 5-day training initiative which took place in Siem Reap from July 10 to July14, 2017. Amongst the featured speakers were Canadian expert Professor Yv Bonnier-Viger, Dr. Rokho Kim (WHO), Mr. Jungho Choi (ILO), and Peter Tighe, Nick Miller and Phillip Hazelton (Australia). The initiative was organised by Union Aid Abroad (APHEDA) in collaboration with multiple partners including the International Ban Asbestos Secretariat. As a result of these meetings, work will begin on a Cambodian Asbestos Profile as the first step towards a national ban. [Read full article]

Jul 9, 2017

On June 16, 2017, South Africa’s Youth Day, scores of schoolchildren, teaching staff and school governors were brought together by the non-governmental organization Asbestos Interest Group to take part in an asbestos outreach activity in Kuruman, a former asbestos mining area in the Northern Cape Province. Participants from nine local schools received information about the area’s environmental asbestos hazard, took part in a candle lighting ceremony and created artwork depicting the region’s asbestos legacy. Trophies were presented to primary and intermediate level pupils whose entries won prizes in the art competition. [Read full article]

Jul 7, 2017

At the conclusion of an international asbestos seminar held in Manchester on Wednesday, July 5, 2017 asbestos victims’ groups from Europe, Asia and Australia issued a solidarity statement in the run-up to Action Mesothelioma Day (July 7) condemning the behaviour of asbestos companies in their home countries and the continuing activities of those seeking to profit from “this industry of mass destruction.” “The existence of the global asbestos trade,” is they wrote “an anathema and an abomination.” Paying tribute to the asbestos dead, they expressed their determination to continue the campaign to shut down the global asbestos trade and progress justice for all those who have been injured. [Read full article]

Jun 26, 2017

At a press conference held today in Kiev, Ukraine, the Ministry of Health announced that the use of all types of asbestos, including chrysotile (white) asbestos is being banned in Ukraine. The new regulations were achieved in the face of fierce opposition from domestic and foreign asbestos lobbyists. This is no surprise given that amongst Ukraine’s neighbors are two countries which account for around 65% of global asbestos output. Between 2009 and 2015, Ukraine imported an average of ~42,200 tonnes of asbestos a year. This ban will adversely impact on the financial prospects of Russian and Kazakhstan asbestos mining companies, however, perhaps of even greater import is the strategic significance of Ukraine’s action. [Read full article]

June 20, 2017

On June 8, 2017, an international asbestos conference was held in Bologna, Italy, an area with a high incidence of asbestos mortality due to hazardous exposures in the railway industry, at asbestos-cement production facilities, at a local plant which manufactured waterproofing materials and at power stations. Representatives of asbestos victims’ groups from Italy and Brazil updated delegates on progress achieved and challenges remaining in the struggle for asbestos justice. Trade unionists, scientists, an author, a teacher, a Mayor and campaigners – including Dr Agata Mazzeo whose PhD dissertation focused on the fight for asbestos victims’ rights in Brazil and Italy – also made presentations. [Read full article]

Jun 19, 2017

In the run-up to the UK’s annual Action Mesothelioma Day, this press release by UK and Japanese groups confirms the attendance at events in five cities of members of a Japanese delegation of asbestos victims, relatives and campaigners. Speaking on behalf of the visitors, Sugio Furuya said that: “The members of our delegation are eager to show solidarity with UK victims and to share experiences in order to progress the campaigns for asbestos justice at home and abroad.” See: Japanese version of this press release or for the English version select the “Read full article" link. [Read full article]

May 30, 2017

A seminar entitled “Accountability in Shipbreaking” took place in London this month. Amongst the speakers were six leading experts on the current situation regarding the annual disposal of hundreds of sea-going vessels on tidal beaches in Asia. The contentious disposal of the North Sea Producer – an oil and gas floating production storage and offloading vessel based for many years 250 km north-east of Aberdeen – was discussed. The export of the ship from the UK on May 17, 2016, its arrival in Bangladesh on August 14, 2016 and plans for its demolition at a yard in Chittagong contravened international instruments intended to prevent industrialized countries from dumping toxic ships in developing countries. [Read full article]

May 11, 2017

This report, prepared by the Peoples Training & Research Centre for the Occupational and Environmental Health Network India (OEHNI) and launched at press conferences in Ahmedabad, Mumbai and Delhi on Friday, April 28, 2017 (International Workers’ Memorial Day), delineates the scale of India’s asbestos tragedy. News coverage about the publication of this ground-breaking document (see: Gujarat tops India with 49 percent use in hazardous asbestos, causing occupational disease, cancer: Report ) highlighted the high incidence of disability and disease amongst workers from power plants, asbestos mines, asbestos cement factories and small processing units. [Read full article]

May 10, 2017

The deliberations of hundreds of international delegates in Geneva and the actions of United Nations personnel involved in the 8th Conference of the Parties to the Rotterdam Convention, which drew to a close on May 5, 2017, were closely monitored by the global community of campaigners working to prevent human exposures to dangerous chemicals such as white asbestos. Commenting on the “moral cowardice and corruption” at the Convention, Brian Kohler, from the IndustriALL Global Union, said: “Hundreds of thousands will die as the result of the inaction of the Parties to the Convention, who chose to cave in to fierce lobbying and bullying by financial interests rather than do what they know is right.” [Read full article]

Mar 30, 2017

A historic victory was achieved on Tuesday, March 28, 2017 when the Brussels Court of Appeal upheld a ruling condemning the Belgian asbestos multinational Eternit for environmental asbestos exposure which killed Françoise Vannoorbeek-Jonckheere in 2000. In a 15-page judgment, the three judge panel concluded that Eternit had known asbestos was a carcinogenic substance since the 1970s but had failed to protect workers or local people from hazardous exposures as a result of which Françoise, who lived near the company’s factory in Kapelle-op-den-Bos for decades, contracted the fatal asbestos cancer mesothelioma. Eternit asbestos victims around the world will be heartened and inspired by this news. [Read full article]

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Demonstration in Woluwe Park, Brussels, 2006

Under cloudy skies, members of Belgian and French Asbestos Victims' Associations from Dunkirk and Bourgogne marched side-by-side in the third annual demonstration organized by ABEVA, the Belgian Association of Asbestos Victims. Erik Jonckheere, ABEVA's Co-chairman, condemned the government which still refuses to recognize the plight of the asbestos injured.

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Asbestos Trade Data (2014)

Top Five Producers (tonnes):
   Russia1,100,000
   China400,000
   Brazil284,000
   Kazakhstan240,000
   India270
 Top Five Users
(tonnes):
   Russia608,000
   China507,000
   India379,000
   Brazil154,000
   Kazakhstan68,000