International Ban Asbestos Secretariat

International Ban Asbestos Secretariat



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Mar 24, 2023

It was announced on March 23, 2023, that the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) had found 10 UK suppliers of demolition and asbestos services guilty of “illegally colluding” on bids involving 19 private and public sector projects worth £150 million which were carried out between 2013 and 2018. According to a CMA press release the defendants rigged the bidding process: “colluding on prices through illegal cartel agreements when submitting bids in competitive tenders for contracts.” Fines totalling £59,334,957 were issued. See: Ten construction firms fined total £60m for ‘illegally colluding’ on contract bids.

Mar 24, 2023

On March 23, 2023, Presiding Judge Shohei Matsuyama of the Kyoto District Court ordered 16 building material manufacturers to pay compensation to 43 members of a class action lawsuit, including retired or deceased workers who had contracted lung cancer and/or mesothelioma as a consequence of inhaling asbestos at construction sites. According to the Judge: “It was recognized that the danger of asbestos was foreseeable in 1975 at the latest…” Amongst the legal arguments used by manufacturers to contest the claims was the fact that the injured who had smoked were partially responsible for their injuries. See: 石綿、メーカーに賠償命令 京都第2陣、国とは先に和解 [Asbestos Manufacturers Ordered to Compensate Kyoto 2nd Round, Reconciliation with Government First].

Mar 24, 2023

The commentary cited below, which was produced in collaboration with the European Commission (EC), discussed the urgency behind Europe’s drive to introduce stricter workplace protections against asbestos exposure in the context of the drive to meet climate change targets. The EC proposals to substantially reduce occupational asbestos exposure limits mirrors the current regime in France. Interviews with asbestos removal personnel and occupational health specialists informed the article. See: Why must asbestos regulations change to better protect EU workers?

Mar 24, 2023

In a rare divergence from usual practices, a Russian news portal published the translation of a European article detailing efforts by the European Commission (EC) to protect workers from toxic exposures to asbestos. In Russia, the world’s largest producer and exporter of asbestos, a de facto ban exists on the publication of any news which undermines the Russian asbestos sector. The text pointed out that: the EU had banned asbestos use in 2005; 78% of occupational cancers were related to asbestos exposures; 70,000 died in 2019 from asbestos-related diseases; and that the EC intends to reduce the asbestos exposure limit from 0.1 fibers per cubic centimeter (f/cm³) to 0.01. See: Асбесту здесь не место [Asbestos has no place here].

Mar 24, 2023

The article cited below explained the conditions, qualifications and procedures for obtaining early retirement in France due to historic occupational asbestos exposures. Workers with asbestos-related diseases recognized by the health authority, workers who had been employed in a company which had manufactured products containing asbestos and individuals who had been employed in the shipbuilding or ship repair sectors are eligible to apply for retirement at age 50. See: Préretraite amiante : qui peut en bénéficier? [Asbestos early retirement: who can benefit from it?].

Mar 24, 2023

Pursuant to European Union objectives to eradicate asbestos from the built environment by 2032, the Government of the Grand Canaries has confirmed its intention to finance an asbestos removal program. According to Eliza Monzón, head of technical services for the authority’s Waste Department: “in the first [asbestos] census of 2018, 200 homes were registered, while in a second census, in 2021, 3,000 did so." To date, 200 tons of asbestos were removed from domestic properties on the island. See: El Cabildo de Gran Canaria financiará la extracción del amianto [The Cabildo de Gran Canaria will finance the removal of asbestos].

Mar 23, 2023

The National Plan for the Eradication of Asbestos in Catalonia, an autonomous community of Spain, was approved by the Generalitat (Government of Catalonia) this week; the European Union 2032 deadline for the completion of the decontamination of the territory was adopted. It has been estimated that there are 4 million tonnes of asbestos-containing material still in Catalonia. The National Plan contains 21 actions, organized into 4 areas. Funds for the work are provided by the Generalitat under annual allocations. Considering that the estimated life of asbestos products is 30 to 50 years, by 2030 more than 85% of this material will have exceeded its useful life. See: Plan para retirar todo el amianto antes de 2032 [Plan to remove all asbestos by 2032].

Mar 23, 2023

In the Russian language article cited below, which appeared on a Kazakh news portal on March 20, 2023, oncologist Bakytzhan Ongarbaev, of the Kazakh Research Institute of Oncology and Radiology, warned citizens of the dangers posed by environmental factors such as exposures to “asbestos, radiation, chemicals, air and water pollution…” Advice about how to avoid the consequences of obesity, smoking and alcohol consumption was also given. Kazakhstan is one of the world’s largest producers of chrysotile (white) asbestos See: Семь главных факторов риска развития рака назвал казахстанский онколог [Kazakh oncologist names seven main risk factors for cancer development].

Mar 23, 2023

To our knowledge, the only country which recognizes asbestos anxiety as grounds for a personal injury claim is France. The article cited below is a timely discussion of developments in the French courts and includes a summation of a decision handed down on February 8, 2023 by the country’s Supreme Court (Court of Cassation) regarding claims brought for asbestos anxiety by subcontractors and judicial support for the rights of employees to be compensated in cases where the dignity of labor had been violated. See: Amiante: réparation du préjudice d’anxiété en cas de sous-traitance et atteinte à la dignité des salaries [Asbestos: compensation for anxiety suffered by subcontractors and for violation of the dignity of employees].

Mar 23, 2023

A verdict handed down by Labor Judge Rossana Ciccone in the Pisa Court was hailed as historic, due to the acknowledgement that the urinary tract cancer which caused the death of a glassmaker referred to by the initials TC, had been caused by workplace exposures to asbestos. The Court ordered the National Institute for Insurance against Accidents at Work (INAIL) – which had initially rejected the family’s claim – to pay compensation of €500,000 ($US540,000). See: L’amianto colpisce le vie urinarie, 500mila euro a un vetraio [Asbestos affects the urinary tract, 500 thousand euros to a glazier].

Mar 23, 2023

Last week (March 16 & 17, 2023), the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published documents with information about plans to finalize the Agency’s position regarding the legality of the use of chrysotile asbestos and products containing it in the US. Feedback from a public consultation process was mixed with the representatives of the industrial sector arguing for action on an asbestos ban to be phased in and citizens’ groups calling for an immediate end to the use of this class 1 carcinogen. Further comments can be submitted until April 17, 2023. See: EPA Releases Additional Data on Ongoing Uses of Chrysotile Asbestos.

Mar 23, 2023

On March 20, 2023 the Superior Court of Justice of Cantabria, an autonomous region in Northern Spain, published news of a February 27, 2023 judgment which had recognized that the death of a railway worker was linked to asbestos exposures experienced in the workshops of the Renfe company; Renfe is the national passenger railway company of Spain. A previous court had ruled against the family and this case was the result of an appeal brought by the legal team representing the deceased’s widow. See: Tribunal condena a Renfe a indemnizar a viuda de empleado muerto por amianto [Court orders Renfe to compensate the widow of an employee killed by asbestos].

Mar 22, 2023

The article cited below was uploaded on March 20, 2023 to a Russian news portal. The text was principally about a high-profile investigation of the activities of the “infamous owner of the no less scandalous FORES Group of Companies, Sergei Shmotiev.” In the article, reporter N. Popova referred to Shmotiev’s commercial interests in the mining town of Asbestos, noting that: “Asbestos is one of the ten most polluted cities in the Russian Federation, along with Chelyabinsk and Nizhny Tagil…Residents of the city without exception suffer from asbestosis (lung damage), as well as cancer.” See: Собрал Шмотьев и ушел [Gathered Shmotiev and left].

Mar 22, 2023

The children of Vincenzo Cecchini, who died from lung cancer as a result of occupational asbestos exposures, won their action at the Rome Appeal Court when judges Alberto Celeste, Donatella Casablanca and Olga Pirone rejected an appeal by the deceased’s employer, the transport company Cotral. As a result, compensation of €78,714 (US$84,000) will be paid to sons Claudio and Stefano; the case for Mrs. Cecchini was settled previously. Over decades, Cecchini had worked as a laborer, a line driver, a maintenance man and a heavy goods driver for Cotral. See: Autista Cotral vittima dell’amianto, confermata in Appello la condanna al risarcimento dei figli [Cotral driver victim of asbestos, compensation for children confirmed in appeal].

Mar 22, 2023

A March 16 press release by the World Health Organization (WHO) / International Agency for Research for Cancer (IARC) announced the discovery of molecular variation in cases of malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM). The findings of IARCS’s Rare Cancers Genomics Team could be used to improve the diagnosis and treatment of this cancer. The factors identified by which to categorize MPM were: “the number of chromosomes in the cancer cells; the morphological appearance of the cancer cells; the patient’s immune-system response to the cancer; and how certain parts of the cancer genes are turned on or off by epigenetic marks.” See: MESOMICS project uncovers molecular variation in mesothelioma, paving the way for improved diagnosis and treatment.

Mar 22, 2023

On March 13, 2023, WorkSafe Saskatchewan – “a partnership between the Saskatchewan Workers’ Compensation Board and the Ministry of Labour Relations and Workplace Safety” – released the 2023-2028 Fatalities and Serious Injuries Strategy. According to the report: “Eighty-one per cent of the public was not aware of asbestos risk exposure during home renovation work. Ninety-four per cent of occupational disease fatalities between 2010 and 2021 in the construction industry [in Saskatchewan] were asbestos-related.” See: WorkSafe Saskatchewan Report: 2023-2028 Fatalities and Serious Injuries Strategy.

Mar 14, 2023

This 18-page Pragmatic Guidance for Emergency Repairs of Structures That May Contain Asbestos in Ukraine published this month (March 2023) by Miyamoto International was the result of collaboration between Ukrainian and international scientists and global experts in disaster management. These interim guidelines were developed to deal with a complex series of problems in a high risk environment. Amongst the specific challenges facing emergency workers in Ukraine are: the ubiquity of asbestos-containing material, a low level of public awareness about the asbestos hazard, the scarcity of personal protective equipment and laboratory testing capacity, and the lack of registered disposal sites, not to mention the threat posed by the war. [Read full article]

Mar 7, 2023

Around the world, Supreme Courts have been deciding issues arising from deadly asbestos legacies including who can be held to account for avoidable diseases contracted by citizens. In Europe, North America and Asia the highest courts in the land weighed in on the side of the victims in landmark verdicts in 2021-23; in Brazil, however, in a unique historical precedent, on February 23, 2023 the Federal Supreme Court upheld its 2017 judgment outlawing the production, processing, use, sale and export of asbestos. Brazilian citizens, French factory workers, US consumers and Japanese construction workers will all benefit from the decisions taken by Supreme Courts in their countries. These landmark rulings demonstrate an increasing disquiet with failures to address national asbestos legacies. [Read full article]

Feb 25, 2023

On February 23, 2023, Brazil’s Supreme Court (STF) upheld a decision banning the commercial exploitation of asbestos. By a vote of 7 to 1, the Judges rejected appeals of the August 2017 STF plenary decision that had prohibited the mining, processing, use, sale and transport of chrysotile (white) asbestos, an acknowledged carcinogen. The majority opinion handed down in Brasilia this week reaffirmed the STF’s position that the Brazilian law under which the asbestos sector had flourished – article 2 of Federal Law 9.055/1995 – was unconstitutional. The two-page verdict marked the end of an industrial sector which had brought pain and death not only to Brazilians but to people in every country to which Brazilian asbestos was sent. [Read full article]

Feb 21, 2023

A proposal to end an impasse preventing UN action to protect populations and the environment from exposures to hazardous chemicals and pesticides is under consideration. An amendment to the text of the Rotterdam Convention (RC) on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade tabled by the Governments of Switzerland, Australia and Mali, and co-sponsored by Burkina Faso, Colombia, Georgia, Ghana and the Republic of the Maldives would change voting procedures so that a handful of vested interests would no longer be able to frustrate the will of the majority of the Parties to the Convention. [Read full article]

Feb 8, 2023

Whilst the European Union is progressing measures to better protect workers from asbestos exposures and encourage the eradication of the hazard from Europe’s built environment, little is being done in post-Brexit Britain to address what some campaigners have termed “a national scandal.” Recent investigations have confirmed widespread contamination of NHS buildings – including hospitals, health centres, blood donor clinics and GP surgeries – in London and Scotland and schools in England and Wales. Strike action being taken this week by employees of a social housing company underline the decline in protection being afforded to UK workers as well as members of the public. [Read full article]

Jan 20, 2023

The last few months of 2022 saw a remarkable series of events which revealed the volte-face in Brazilians’ perception of asbestos. In decisions by the judiciary and provincial governments, TV broadcasts and victories by grassroots’ campaigners, lies told by the asbestos lobby were denounced, the return of an asbestos-laden ship was blocked and the lives sacrificed by asbestos stakeholders were honored. High-profile developments were: verdicts by courts in São Paulo and Pernambuco condemning attacks by the asbestos lobby on a ban asbestos campaigner and supporting a state’s right to bar a toxic ship – the São Paulo – from its waters; the quashing of an injunction by the Superior Civil Court; and mobilization by civil society groups and state agencies to prevent the docking of the São Paulo in their ports. [Read full article]

Oct 31, 2022

How many people are there who make you smile? I’m betting you can count them on the fingers of one hand. Conrad Atkinson was one of them. I first encountered Conrad some years ago at an international conference in Barrow-in-Furness. He spoke about his landmark piece: Asbestos: The Lungs of Capitalism showing, if memory serves me right, slides of the artwork. I didn’t get it. In 2019, I had the opportunity to see this work at the Tate when museum conservators readied it for installation. I was blown away by its scale, attention to detail, historical content, vivid coloration and vivacity. Here were the lives of people I had read about and worked with spread across a huge museum space. Conrad had studied the daily reality of ordinary people, distilled it through his unique artistic filter and preserved it forever. [Read full article]

Oct 11, 2022

Whose responsibility is the floating can of worms which is the São Paulo? At 32,800 tonnes fully loaded, Brazil’s 265 meter long former flagship has now become a symbol of government malfeasance and criminality. The Brazilian Navy, duplicating the actions of its French counterpart (2000), had hoped to off-load the vessel to a new owner. Clearly, the Latin phrase “caveat emptor” (buyer beware) was not part of the lexicon of Sök Denizcilik, the Turkish shipyard which bought the São Paulo in 2021 for BRL 10.5 million (~US$2m) despite the fact that it was likely to contain asbestos, PCBs, lead/cadmium paint as well as traces of radioactive material. The ship which set sail in August 2022 for a dismantling yard is now back in Brazilian waters having been refused entry into Turkey. It’s fate remains uncertain. [Read full article]

Oct 10, 2022

Last month, the European Commission released long-awaited protocols to address the ongoing asbestos epidemic amongst the Member States of the EU. In 2019, there were 70,000 asbestos deaths in the EU; each one was avoidable. The contents of the Commission’s program seemed to generate as much negative as positive coverage with groups representing workers and labor federations condemning the Commission’s prioritization of commercial interests over the lives of workers. In October 2021, the European Parliament had voted for a new asbestos occupational exposure limit of 0.001 f/cm³; however, the Commission’s 2022 proposal will only impose a limit of 0.01 f/cm³. The new level would be “significantly” higher than the 0.002 f/cm³ limit currently in place in some EU member states. [Read full article]

Sep 21, 2022

A quote made famous by Vladimir Lenin: “There are decades where nothing happens; and there are weeks where decades happen,” sprang to mind when I was reviewing progress made this month (September 2022). Recent news received of developments in Latin America, Europe and Asia made manifest the huge strides being achieved in the struggle for asbestos justice. The September breakthroughs were the result of long-term efforts by grassroots campaigners, politicians, civil servants, asbestos victims’ groups, non-governmental organizations, national associations and others working individually and collaboratively to address asbestos corruption and illegalities. [Read full article]

Sep 9, 2022

On September 6, 2022 Parliamentary bill No. 4142, which prohibited the use of all types of asbestos and products containing it in Ukraine, was enacted. As a result, said Ukrainian politician Olena Shulyak: “Finally, we will get rid of the health-threatening Soviet construction legacy and replace it with modern building materials that will preserve the health of both builders and residents of new buildings.” The road to achieving this ban was not straightforward due to aggressive lobbying by Ukrainian and foreign pro-asbestos stakeholders. Judicial as well as legislative actions were blocked on multiple occasions, testing both the stamina and conviction of campaigners in Parliament and civil society organizations. [Read full article]

Sep 6, 2022

With the imposition of trade sanctions on Russian businesses, traditional transport routes were blocked not just for the aggressor but for others who used their ports. A case in point was the situation faced by Kostanay Minerals JSC, Kazakhstan’s sole chrysotile (white) asbestos conglomerate, which had until the outbreak of the 2022 war sent its exports via the Russian ports of Novorossiysk on the Black Sea and St. Petersburg on the Baltic Sea. After initial logistical difficulties which forced Kostanay to cease mining operations, new channels of transportation were developed to allow the export of asbestos fiber to resume. An assessment of Russian asbestos exports is not possible at this time due to the lack of reliable data. [Read full article]

Sep 1, 2022

Bowing to the inevitable, on Tuesday August 30, 2022 the Brazilian Agency which had authorized the export of the Navy’s former flagship – the São Paulo – to Turkey called for its immediate return to Brazil following the Turkish Government’s cancellation of its import permit. The international furore caused by the ship’s journey to an Izmir dismantling yard has been colossal with widespread unrest in Turkey over the continued desecration of the environment under the Erdoğan Government. As of August 31, 2022, the São Paulo was off the coast of Morocco. The Basel Action Network which is monitoring the transit of the Dutch tug pulling the aircraft carrier says that the speed has remained consistent and the vessel is on course towards Turkey. [Read full article]

Aug 24, 2022

Today (August 24, 2022), is Independence Day in Ukraine. Under current circumstances, Ukrainians could be forgiven for exuberant displays of nationalism as they celebrate their 31st year of freedom. And yet, even after more than three decades of independence, the country is still under attack. Fighting against the Russians and their collaborators is now a fact of life not only in the streets but also in the Parliament in Kyiv where work to ban asbestos is under a constant bombardment from asbestos industry propagandists determined to quash the sovereign right of Ukraine to act in the best interests of its citizens and outlaw the use of an acknowledged carcinogen as other civilized countries have done. [Read full article]

Aug 15, 2022

Within hours of Johnson and Johnson’s August 11, 2022 announcement that it planned to withdraw its iconic talc-based baby powder from sale in all global markets next year, the news had spread around the world. Coverage of this development was published in the UK, Ireland, Portugal, Spain, Germany, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Italy, Greece, Ukraine, Russia, Turkey, Qatar, India, China, Japan, Indonesia, Vietnam, Malaysia, Israel, the Gulf States, Brazil and elsewhere. What was remarkable was not the massive interest in this story but the fact that not one of the articles asked why toxic baby powder which had been withdrawn in North America in 2020 was still being sold in their country in 2022. [Read full article]

Aug 12, 2022

Global campaigners have today condemned the decision of the Spanish Supreme Court which this week ruled against the grieving family of José María Iñigo, a famous TV presenter and personality. Mr. Iñigo died in 2018 from mesothelioma, the signature cancer associated with asbestos exposure. He had worked for years in TV studios in Madrid which were full of asbestos-containing insulation products. Despite the evidence, the Court found that his lawyers had not proved that his death was caused by workplace exposures. In today’s press release, activists from Latin America, Europe and Asia expressed outrage at this decision and condolences with the family’s loss [Haga clic aquí para ver la versión en español del artículo completo]. [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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USGS Asbestos Trade Data

Fiber Producers (2020)
 Top Five Users (2020)