|►New Zealand: Urgent Asbestos Warning|
|Canada: Injured Mine Workers Petition Rejected|
|India: Asbestos Lobby Hits Delhi|
|UK: Controversial Bill Goes to Commons|
|Australia: Asbestos in Imported Rolling Stock|
|Laos: Hazards of Increasing Asbestos Use|
Dec 6, 2013
On Thursday, December 5, 2013, experts from New Zealand and Australia addressed a conference in Christchurch and issued grave warnings about the post-earthquake consequences of asbestos exposure. Australian authorities on the asbestos hazard Craig Simmons and Professor Bill Musk used language which left the hundreds of delegates in no doubt as to the seriousness of the situation. Professor Musk said he was shocked by the huge potential for exposures in the city and warned that the country needs to immediately ban imports of asbestos. See: Asbestos risk in rebuild unprecedented experts; also see: New Zealand's Failing Asbestos Policy!.
Dec 6, 2013
The Baie Verte asbestos mine in Newfoundland closed in 1995. Former mine workers who have contracted asbestos-related diseases have collaborated with union leaders and academics to set up a miners' registry in order to facilitate claims for compensation. Although the authorities welcomed this initiative, the Newfoundland and Labrador government has turned down a request for legislative changes to help the Baie Verte asbestos claimants. Dan Crummell, the Minister of Service for Newfoundland and Labrador rejected the miners' petition. See: Government says no to changes to help sick mine workers.
Dec 6, 2013
At a two-day conference in the Indian capital this week, the asbestos roadshow laid out its wares of industry-commissioned research and arguments to bolster the sales pitch of asbestos profiteers in a country which has embraced asbestos technology. David Bernstein, the industry's preferred "scientist," led the pack with a presentation used to enforce the propaganda that chrysotile asbestos can be used safely under controlled conditions; the vast majority of the delegates represented Indian asbestos industry stakeholders. As of 2012, India had used over 7 million tonnes of asbestos; India is the world's biggest importer of asbestos. See: Picture of Speakers at Asbestos Industry Event.
Dec 2, 2013
Today, The Mesothelioma Bill is being debated in the House of Commons having completed its passage through the House of Lords before the Summer recess. Asbestos victims, who have given a qualified welcome to the legislation, are urging MPs to make improvements which will recognize the suffering of all asbestos victims, increase payments to the injured and withdraw taxpayers' support for the insurance industry which, after extensive back room lobbying, is due to receive "Government largesse on an unprecedented scale." See: Press Release by Asbestos Victims Support Groups Forum UK; also see: The Mesothelioma Bill - A Gift to Insurers.
Nov 30, 2013
Veteran journalist Matt Peacock knows a thing or two about asbestos. He has spent the last 3 decades investigating asbestos stories in Australia and abroad. A Peacock expos้ on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation's primetime TV news show "7:30" on Tuesday (Nov. 26) is amongst the best he has done. Peacock revealed that ten locomotives imported from China which had asbestos-free certificates were not in fact free of asbestos. The trains were, according to specialists, contaminated with chrysotile asbestos. An eight-minute segment can be viewed online along with relevant documents including the analyst's report. See: Asbestos scare strikes Chinese imports to Australia.
Nov 28, 2013
The occupational risks for people in the growing asbestos industry in Laos were highlighted in an article uploaded yesterday which predicted that national consumption could reach 9,000 tonnes/year. Ignorance about the human health hazards posed by asbestos exposures has enabled sales to increase without government or civil society opposition. This is changing. In July 2013 a 2-day conference entitled Working towards a National Strategy on Asbestos in Laos attracted widespread participation including the attendance of government officials from eight ministries, trade unionists, academics and experts. See: Fight Against Asbestos Goes Global.
Nov 27, 2013
The Executive Director of the [Nepal] Centre for Public Health and Environmental Development Ram Charitra Sah has warned the authorities of the hazards posed by the lack of care taken regarding the use and storage of asbestos-containing products. "Asbestos is," he told a reporter for the Himalayan Times "piled up in different parts of Kathmandu, including Maitighar, for use in road construction work " In an article citing the official positions of the World Health Organization and the International Labor Organizations, Mr. Sah called on the Government to ban the use, import and export of asbestos products. See: Handle asbestos carefully: NGO.
Nov 27, 2013
Media reports published today highlight the deplorable situation of Indian migrant laborers who have contracted fatal asbestos-related diseases from workplace exposures. Raghunath Manwar, President of the Occupational Health Association, confirmed the situation citing the case of S.R. Gaunder's widow who has, since his death 3 years ago, received no support or compensation as her husband was a migrant from Tamil Nadu. Gaunder, who had been employed as a laborer at a notorious asbestos-cement factory, died in 2010 from asbestos cancer. Similar examples are documented along with comments from activists helping the injured. See: Vapi hellhole gets worse for migrant workers.
Nov 26, 2013
In a letter to the editor of the journal Critical Reviews in Toxicology, serious questions are asked about the lack of disclosure by the authors of a 2013 article entitled: Health Risks of Chrysotile Revisited. The authors of the letter, who believe that the "article violates ethical standards of disclosure that all scientists and scientific publications are expected to uphold," cite incorrect information provided by David Bernstein and Jacques Dunnigan about the funding of the paper and their ties to asbestos industry stakeholders. Links between the Editor in Chief Roger McClellan and an asbestos firm are also mentioned. See: Complaint submitted to Editor of scientific publication regarding hidden asbestos industry ties.
Nov 26, 2013
The Wellcome Library has digitized 124 years of reports by Health Officers for London boroughs; this archive is an invaluable resource for researchers investigating the history of asbestos knowledge. Items written in the 1930s by Dr Williams, the Medical Officer of Health for Barking - the borough in which a notorious factory belonging to Cape Asbestos was located - are informative. Williams' was described by Dr. Merewether - co-author of the seminal 1930 Merewether and Price asbestos report - as being "obsessed with the subject [asbestos]." See: London's Pulse: Medical Officer of Health reports 1848-1972.
Nov 25, 2013
On November 23, 2013, at the culmination of a 2-day meeting of the Asian Ban Asbestos Network in Dhaka, a new organization was launched: the Bangladesh Ban Asbestos Network (B-BAN). Calling for urgent action, occupational health and safety campaigner and co-host of the meeting Repon Chowdhury said "Bangladesh cannot close its eyes to the asbestos issue." Asbestos activists, victims and trade unionist delegates at the meeting endorsed the new organization and pledged to continue international collaboration to achieve an Asian ban on the use of asbestos. See: Press Release.
Nov 25, 2013
In 2012, the import of asbestos-contaminated cars from China caused a huge uproar in the Australian media. Today, news has been released that the import of hazardous materials is continuing due to a systemic failure by the Customs authorities. Asbestos contamination has been recently found in imported train engines. This news has led to an outcry from asbestos victims' groups and trade unions over the potential for deadly exposures from unidentified imports. In June, tests revealed that imported motorcycles contained asbestos; they were destroyed. See: Imported asbestos products getting past Australian customs.
Nov 20, 2103
Ban asbestos activists from Indonesia and Korea are today holding a medical workshop on asbestos in Jakarta (see: workshop poster) to highlight the ongoing risk posed by occupational and environmental exposure to a substance widely used in Indonesia (see: Growth of Asian Asbestos Markets). Speakers invited by the Ban Asbestos Network of Korea (BANKO) and the Indonesian Ban Asbestos Network (Ina-ban) will reveal details of the incidence of asbestos-related disease identified amongst workers from an asbestos textile factory in Cibinong, Indonesia; the company which owns this factory moved its operations from Korea to Indonesia in the 1990s.
Nov 20, 2013
A 27-page Australian report by financial analysts at Citi Research has today been issued to alert potential investors to the asbestos trading of stock market-listed companies. Amongst the names mentioned are mining companies in Russia (Uralasbest), Brazil (Eternit), Kazakhstan (variously described as DAGOK Kustanaiasbest, or Kustanai Minerals); information on mining companies in China was not available. Also listed were companies involved in the manufacture of asbestos-containing construction and automotive products; eight Indian producers of asbestos-cement construction material were named. See: Asbestos: Assessing Exposure of Certain MSCI World Index Sectors.
Nov 19, 2013
Journalists working on a project on the future of Russian monotowns reported a high level of anxiety and fear in the Russian town of Asbest, home to Ural Asbest's open-pit asbestos mine. There is, they found, widespread concern about the future of the company which employs 10% of the population, in light of perceived threats from the "mysterious forces of the international anti-asbestos campaign." Security service personnel maintained a watchful and threatening eye on the journalists' activities and a person interviewed was summarily fired for speaking to them. According to the article: "Every second person [at Ural Asbest] has asbestosis." See: The People of the Pit.
Nov 18, 2013
More than 700 cases of the asbestos cancer mesothelioma have been diagnosed in a district in North Lebanon which was formerly the location of an Eternit asbestos-cement factory. Former employees, family members and residents are amongst the dead. Local people bought Eternit waste to make concrete which was used in and around homes. As a result, there is widespread environmental contamination. The company's owner, Stephan Schmidheiny, sold the asbestos operations in Chekka (Koura district) to Lebanese businessmen who continued production until 1991. See: North Lebanon: Closed Asbestos Factory Still Kills.
Dec 4, 2013
For more than a century, chrysotile asbestos has been mined in the Russian town of "Asbest." But times are hard for Uralasbest, the company which runs the mine: "in the past nine months, the profits of the town's main employer have been melting away because of shrinking global demand and local economic pressures such as steep tariffs on mining trains." While it is too early to predict whether these difficulties foreshadow the end to Asbest's asbestos dependency, the Russian Ministry of Labor is offering inhabitants between $9,000 and $25,000 to relocate "to more successful cities." [Read full article]
Dec 2, 2013
This afternoon, asbestos victims and ban asbestos campaigners held a New Delhi press conference to call for an immediate ban on growing asbestos consumption. A letter they released, signed by over 300 eminent experts from 36 countries, condemned aggressive marketing by asbestos industry stakeholders in India. In the text of this letter, which was sent to Indian Government Ministers, the international correspondents pointed out the deplorable behaviour of the ruthless asbestos lobby. The letter concludes with a heart-felt request that the Ministers "put the health interests of the people of India ahead of the vested interests of the asbestos industry." [Read full article]
Nov 30, 2013
On December 2, 2013, health and safety campaigners are holding a New Delhi conference at the Press Club of India to call for urgent action on the spread of the asbestos hazard throughout the country. Between 1960 and 2012, more than 7 million tonnes of asbestos have been used in India; India imports more asbestos than any other country. The press conference will be addressed by key stakeholders including victims of asbestos-related diseases and at-risk workers from Ahmedabad and Mumbai; activists and experts will be on hand to answer questions. [Read full article]
Nov 29, 2013
On December 2, 2013, the Mesothelioma Bill is due to have its second reading in the House of Commons. The proposed legislation will offer a proportion of compensation to some of the asbestos-injured. Widespread criticism has been voiced by victims' and campaigning groups over the dominant position insurers played in the drafting of this bill. In this article, the Chair of the Asbestos Victims' Support Groups Forum UK Tony Whitston sets out the main elements of the mesothelioma scheme and highlights the government's generosity to insurers who are being "inappropriately subsidised by [asbestos] claimants." [Read full article]
Nov 16, 2013
Kathy Gaffney and Laurie Kazan-Allen were amongst five activists whose work was recognized on November 16, 2013 by the Construction Safety Campaign (CSC) at its Annual General Meeting in Birmingham. The Robert Tressell Awards, presented during a ceremony this afternoon, are named after the author of the renowned 1914 socialist novel "The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists" and are bestowed for services to working people. Other asbestos activists who have been similarly honoured by the CSC over the last decade include Alan Dalton, Simon Pickvance, Paula Walker, Annie Thebaud-Mony and Michael Lees. [Read full article]
Nov 14, 2013
In recent weeks, expos้s in UK and US online and print media have detailed a range of measures being used by industry stakeholders to dictate the terms and language of the international asbestos dialogue. The investigations have focused on the activities of Scottish scientist Ken Donaldson, Canadian Epidemiologist J.C. McDonald and Swiss Entrepreneur Stephan Schmidheiny all of whom have been challenged over their part in a global epidemic claiming more than 90,000 lives a year. Despite the very welcomed revelations regarding these individuals, other "hired gun" professionals are queuing up for the chance to do the asbestos industry's bidding. [Read full article]
Nov 6, 2013
Even as French asbestos victims get ready to take to the streets in protest over judicial inaction on a notorious asbestos scandal, Indian court officials have sanctioned the construction of yet another Rajasthan asbestos factory despite vocal and active protests by local people. The use of asbestos in France has led to thousands of deaths every year, a situation which may be replicated in India. It seems that even in the 21st century no amount of knowledge is enough to curtail the unbridled use of a substance that is commercially viable even if it is also deadly dangerous. In India, as was the case in France, powerful behind-the-scenes operators are manipulating the national asbestos agenda. [Read full article]
Sep 25, 2013
The death was reported on September 21, 2013 of Professor Dr. Y. İzzettin Bariş, the pioneering medical researcher who investigated the causes of malignant mesothelioma clusters in the "Cancer Villages" of Anatolia, Turkey. Through his research and through research founded on results he had achieved, huge strides were made in understanding the nature of mesothelioma including: the non-occupational risks posed by exposure to asbestos, the existence of a genetic disposition in some families to contract mesothelioma and the prevalence of malignant mesothelioma mortality in areas where environmental exposure to erionite was high. [Read full article]
Sep 20, 2013
Seventeen years ago, Yale University bestowed an honorary degree upon Swiss billionaire Stephan Schmidheiny. Since that time, Schmidheiny has been tried and convicted by two courts for his role in the asbestos deaths of thousands of Italian citizens. Calls being made for this honor to now be rescinded have been reported in a feature length article in the Yale Daily News by undergraduate reporter Jack Newsham. Yale has never revoked an honorary degree and, according to comments by Yale spokesman Tom Conroy, it seems unlikely that the University will reconsider Schmidheiny's 1996 award. [Read full article]
Sep 20, 2012
During the five-day high-profile World Health Promotion Conference in Pattaya, Thailand, that took place in August, a paper was presented entitled: Social Media Advocacy to Counteract Propaganda on Safe Use of Chrysotile Asbestos in Thailand which considered a campaign by Thai vested interests to promote the sale of asbestos products. The speaker, Dr. Vithaya Kulsomboon, discussed the dissemination by the industry lobby of false information minimizing the risk of asbestos exposures in order to forestall the government from taking action to prohibit the import, sale and use of asbestos. His presentation has been uploaded to this website as a PDF article. [Read full article]
Sep 19, 2013
Since the formation of the Indonesian Ban Asbestos Network in 2010, activities have been ongoing to raise public, occupational and medical professional awareness of the asbestos hazard. A recent asbestos initiative was an informal evening seminar held on September 5, 2013 on Bali entitled "Asbestos in our Homes and Workplaces." Keynote speaker Alex Ryan said that the purpose of the meeting was to raise awareness of the hazard posed by Indonesia's use of this carcinogen. Judging by the questions asked by participants, it was clear that there is a serious information vacuum regarding the threat posed by asbestos to workers and the public. [Read full article]
Sep 17, 2013
It has been announced today that an innovative grassroots project to help tackle the symptoms of asbestos disease has been awarded an IBAS bursary. The winning project is a community-based healthcare programme pioneered by Indian and UK doctors that aims to offer low tech, low cost techniques to help people with advanced asbestosis to deal with the suffering caused by breathlessness in Mumbai and Ahmedabad, well-known asbestos hotspots. Consultation and research for this project has been ongoing since 2011; an interview study is currently proceeding. The initial interview study results will be reported at a meeting in December 2013 of key stakeholders. [Read full article]
Sep 2, 2013
Members of the "No More Asbestos in Hong Kong Alliance" (the Alliance) have today reported recent actions taken to expose widespread asbestos contamination in rural areas. Following on from the disclosure of environmental contamination in Ma Tong Village earlier this year comes news of asbestos pollution in Yin Kong Village where seriously damaged asbestos-cement sheeting has been found on roofs and hoardings. Following a protest by the Alliance, the Environmental Protection Department agreed to assist the community to identify hazardous material and implement measures to minimize the public health hazard. The Alliance is also calling for a national asbestos ban. [Read full article]
Aug 28, 2013
The 9th Labor Court in Sใo Paulo has ruled that Eternit, S.A. must pay the healthcare costs of workers from its flagship asbestos-cement factory in Osasco, Sใo Paulo. The total bill appears unlimited and is dependent solely on the claims submitted by eligible workers. In addition, the Court ordered the company to pay 1 billion reais (~US$420 million) in punitive damages. As the current market value of Eternit S.A. is 853.8 million reais (US$359m), this verdict could have a huge impact on Eternit's future. News of the lawsuit, led to a drop in the company's share price. The company can appeal the judgment. [Read full article]
Aug 28, 2013
Although a comprehensive asbestos ban was introduced in the UK in 1999, government authorities are considering plans for exemptions to EU restrictions on the sale of second-hand articles containing asbestos. A short consultation mounted this summer by the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) seems to have taken place with little advanced notice or publicity. DEFRA estimates that introducing the proposed exemptions will save Britain PLC ฃ29 million. Clarification sought by MEP Stephen Hughes about this situation elicited an uninformative response from the European Commission on August 27, 2013. [Read full article]
Aug 20, 2013
In the last decade, the insurance industry has made several attempts to deflect responsibility for the harm their insured have caused to asbestos cancer claimants by taking a series of cases to the higher courts. The Mesothelioma Bill, which was drafted after protracted government consultation with insurers, is arguably another stratagem for minimizing compensation payouts to mesothelioma victims. Parliamentary debate about what percentage of the full award a dying man should receive, while inexorably and painfully his cancer progresses, diminishes us all. I believe society must do what is right. [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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