International Ban Asbestos Secretariat

International Ban Asbestos Secretariat



News text:

Sep 1, 2014

Twice as many Britons die of the asbestos cancer mesothelioma as die in road traffic accidents. The mesothelioma epidemic is claiming the lives not only of people who worked directly with asbestos but of others exposed to contaminated products incorporated into the national infrastructure. Victims like consultant anesthetist Dr. Andrew Lawson, M&S employee Janice Allen, GP Graham Abbott have contracted the cancer having being exposed to asbestos at their workplaces. “Britain is today,” reports journalist Harry de Quetteville “at the peak of a mesothelioma epidemic.” See: Asbestos: the killer that still surrounds us.

Aug 31, 2014

Pollution from a derelict Korean asbestos mine in Gangjeong Village, South Chunycheong Province has increased since a construction waste disposal company began operations on this site. Even though an epidemic of respiratory diseases and cancers has been reported, local and regional authorities have refused to take action. At a public meeting on August 25, Yeyong Choi from the Asian Citizens’ Center for Environmental Health explained the asbestos health hazard. Residents and civic groups are now demanding the immediate closure of the plant, remediation and closure of the mine and full healthcare provisions for the villagers. See: Village being choked off by reckless asbestos mining.

Aug 31, 2014

A commentary published on August 29, 2014 in The Journal of Goiás, the Brazilian State which is home to the country’s main asbestos mine, reports a gloomy outlook for the asbestos industry. Multiple factors likely to impact on sales of Goiás asbestos are: bans by several Brazilian states and national governments, opposition to asbestos by Brazilian agencies, including the Ministry of Labor, and non-governmental organizations, public prosecutions of asbestos companies, civil lawsuits, a case being adjudicated by the Supreme Court over the unconstitutionality of asbestos use, market forces and the increasingly popularity of asbestos-free products. See: Tesouro em declínio [Profitability in Decline].

Aug 29, 2014

Four months after tests confirmed the presence of asbestos at the headquarters of the Public Transport Service Corporation (PTSC) at the South Quay in Port-of-Spain, the capital of Trinidad and Tobago, decontamination work has begun. Reporters at a press conference on August 28, reported that the two affected buildings were sealed off in decontamination zones and that workers were observed in protective suits and masks. Trade union official Marcus Grannum supported the PTSC’s efforts but said the delay in remediation was to be regretted. See: After protests by workers: PTSC spends $m to remove asbestos.

Aug 27 2014

The Philippines imports $76.32 million worth of asbestos every year, even though this substance is a known carcinogen which is banned in the industrialized world. Parliamentarians in the Philippines are calling for a national ban of the import, manufacture, processing, use and distribution of asbestos and asbestos-containing products. In 2008, the 11th National Occupational Safety and Health Congress adopted a resolution supporting a total ban but no progress has been made on implementation. House Bill 4437 (The Asbestos Ban Act of 2014) has now been filed by Representatives Walden Bello and Ibarro Gutierrez III. See: Congressional Press Release.

Aug 26, 2014

After protracted negotiations, the Associated Labor Unions and the Building and Woodworkers International have succeeded today in lowering the country’s threshold limit value for asbestos toxic dust from 0.5 to 0.1 fibers per cubic centimeter of air in an 8-hour work period. This change has been implemented in a revision of government guidelines for minimizing hazardous occupational asbestos exposures. Representatives from the Chrysotile Industry Association of the Philippines and the Chrysotile Information Center, Philippines vehemently opposed the revision saying it would adversely impact on the profitability of their businesses.

Aug 26, 2014

Delegates attending the XX World Congress for Safety and Health at Work in Frankfurt have reported the presence of Russian asbestos lobbyists and Brazilian hired gun scientists at the event. During a session on August 25, a well-known pro-asbestos fanatic accused Fiona Murie, Occupational Health and Safety Director of the BWI (Building and Woodworkers International), of corruptly receiving kickbacks from anti-asbestos stakeholders. Today, Anabella Rosemberg, from the International Trade Union Confederation, reported that pro-asbestos propaganda was being distributed at the Congress.

Aug 25, 2014

In the run-up to a September 2, 2014 vote in the Santa Catarina Legislative Assembly on the adoption of a state-wide ban on asbestos, the Ministry of Labor has mounted a public awareness initiative about the deadly effects of asbestos exposures and the urgent need for a ban. The Ministry is promoting television coverage which began broadcasting 30 second segments on August 24, 2014. Complimenting this campaign are other social media outreach projects, including a petition calling for asbestos to be banned in Santa Catarina. See: Asbestos Awareness Video.

Aug 23, 2014

Interviews with people in poor neighborhoods in Rio de Janeiro, the favelas, reveal the ubiquity and constancy of asbestos use in the do-it-yourself construction of family dwellings. The most popular covering for these properties is roofing made of asbestos-cement tiles. While some people hire professionals for difficult tasks, such as roof installation, many do these tasks with the help of a few friends on a weekend. As a result of the recycling and trading of materials, asbestos tiles are present throughout the favelas. See: Estudo de caso: As regras tácitas da construção nas favelas [Case Study: The unspoken rules of construction in the slums].

Aug 23, 2014

Bootleg cigarettes imported into the UK by black marketeers contain asbestos as well as other toxic ingredients, according to news released by the Local Government Association. Hundreds of thousands of illegal cigarettes have been seized in recent months by officials in Wolverhampton, Bristol and Nottingham during raids on premises throughout these cities. The contents of the confiscated cigarettes included human excrement, dead flies, rat droppings, mould and asbestos. It has been estimated that 114m illicit cigarettes are sold in six London boroughs every year. See: New effort to stop fake cigarettes filled with excrement, mould and asbestos.

Aug 22, 2014

From March to December 2014, prevention officers for WorkSafeBC, a statutory agency in British Columbia, are conducting planned inspections of demolition worksites at private homes to ascertain that duty holders are acting in compliance with asbestos provisions of the Occupational Health and Safety Regulations. The summer 2014 issue of Work Safe magazine highlights the consequences of hazardous exposures in the Province: between 2002 and 2011, asbestos was responsible for 512 occupational deaths; 500 claims for asbestos exposure are filed each year; since 2000, more workers have died from asbestos-related diseases than any other workplace illness. See: Asbestos Initiative Aims to Eradicate Exposures.

Aug 21, 2014

The High Council of Public Health has issued a report documenting the deadly impact asbestos exposure continues to have on French citizens. In the document which went online last week, the Council estimated that up to 118,400 deaths could have been due to occupational exposures to asbestos between 1955 and 2009; the vast majority of the deaths were due to lung cancer. The report predicts that between 2009 and 2050, up to 100,000 more people could die from asbestos-related diseases such as mesothelioma and cancer of the lungs, larynx, and ovary. See: FRANCE. Amiante: près de 100.000 décès d'ici à 2050 [FRANCE. Asbestos: nearly 100,000 deaths by 2050].

Aug 21, 2014

On August 20, Stafford Crown Court was told about illegal works carried out in 2012 at a former print works in Stoke-on-Trent by two brothers which hazardously exposed seven workmen to asbestos. The HSE prosecution of Akram and Inam Hussain, neither one of whom was licensed to remove asbestos, resulted in jail sentences of 22 months for the former and 14 months for the latter for breaching section 3(2) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. After the trial, an HSE inspector said: “The Hussains failed in their duty by choosing to ignore the dangers of this hidden killer.” See: Brothers given custodial sentence for exposing workers to asbestos.

Aug 15, 2014

On Monday, August 11, 2014, ban asbestos activist Fernanda Giannasi was awarded Brazil’s highest honor – the Order of Judicial Merit for Labor – at a gala ceremony in Brasilia (see: Picture of ceremony). Having received the commendation, Ms. Giannasi explained that it was: “recognition of a struggle that is not only mine, but all asbestos victims and their families. This shows the concern of the Brazilian judiciary with the exploitation of this deadly fiber which caused a health catastrophe of the century.” See: Top Brazilian Award for Fernenda Giannasi and also Fernanda Giannasi é condecorada com a ordem do mérito [Fernanda Giannasi is awarded the Order of Merit].

Aug 14, 2014

As India’s asbestos sector grows rich, vested interests continue to promote the sale of a discredited technology with glitzy pseudo-scientific conferences, imported hired gun scientists and public statements proclaiming the innocuous nature of their product. Despite asbestos bans in industrialized countries and recommendations from international agencies that use should be stopped on health grounds, Indian sales of asbestos-cement construction materials are booming. Public opposition is on the rise with protesters destroying construction on a site earmarked for an asbestos factory in Bihar State. See: Asbestos still pushed in India and business is booming.

Aug 13, 2014

On August 8, 2014, representatives of the Thailand Ban Asbestos Network (T-BAN) petitioned the Ministry of Industry (MOI) for an immediate ban on the use of asbestos, support for the use of safer materials, a national fund for victims and implementation of preventative measures and medical protocols. (see: T-BAN Statement). Commenting on the meeting, T-BAN representative Mrs. Somboon Seekamdokkae said “We asked the MOI to think about Thai people’s health and after 70 years, not to give the industry more time to kill citizens from asbestos-related diseases.” Sakda Pankla, the deputy director-general of the Department of Industrial Works, received the T-BAN delegation (see: photo of the meeting).

Aug 25, 2014

Government bodies in Germany, including the Social Accident Insurance Institution and the Employer's Liability Insurance Agency, have collaborated not only to deny the claims of asbestos victims but also to deprive them of the right to express their grievances. The methods they have used are well illustrated by the refusal to allow their participation in the XX World Congress for Safety and Health at Work which is being held in Frankfurt on August 23-26, 2014. Despite multiple attempts to engage with the organizers of this high-profile event, no provision has been made for the voice of the asbestos victims to be heard. [Read full article]

Aug 23, 2014

On August 12, 2014, a Brazilian asbestos taskforce arrived to inspect the Eternit asbestos-cement factory in Rio de Janeiro, an industrial facility that exploits a judicial exemption allowing asbestos processing to continue in a state where asbestos is banned. The inspection team spent four days investigating the factory, its documents and processes; subsequently, the prosecutors filed a class action against Eternit which included a petition to force the company to pay $500 million in collective pecuniary and moral damages to cover expenses incurred by the injured as well as for research programs, awareness campaigns, and decontamination work in the factory, on its site and in the surrounding area. [Read full article]

Aug 6, 2014

Three years ago the Thai Cabinet approved a ban asbestos resolution. Unfortunately, since that time, domestic asbestos stakeholders, in collaboration with Russian industry lobbyists, have forestalled progress in implementing legislation required to affect this much-needed public safety measure. This article discusses current developments in Bangkok, explaining reasons for the delay, with particular attention being paid to the efforts of Thailand’s asbestos industry, which in July 2014 appealed to the National Council for Peace and Order for “Fairness.” News from members of the Thailand Ban Asbestos Network is reported. [Read full article]

Aug 4, 2014

The 2014 International Conference on Asbestos organized by the Building and Woodworkers International, in collaboration with labor and campaigning groups, made a significant contribution to furthering our understanding of the current asbestos landscape. This report on the Vienna event contains descriptions of the speeches, links to the presentations and photographs taken during the two days. Also included is the text of the Vienna Declaration, which was adopted unanimously by over 100 delegates from 40 countries, calling for an end to the use of all asbestos, protection for at-risk workers and justice for all victims. [Read full article]

Aug 1, 2014

The publication today (August 1, 2014) of the Justice Committee’s Mesothelioma Claims Report has been welcomed by asbestos victims groups and trade unionists; in their statements made about the committee's findings, they highlighted the back room deal to minimize the asbestos-related liabilities of insurers to the detriment of dying cancer victims. Today, Sir Alan Beith MP, Chair of the Committee, expressed his surprise and concern about the contents of a previously undisclosed document revealing the existence of an agreement between the Government and the ABI. In comments by an insurance industry spokesperson, claimant lawyers were blamed for increased legal costs. [Read full article]

Jul 30, 2014

Asbestos victims in Latin America have joined with colleagues in Asia to call for the immediate banning of asbestos use following a landmark decision by the European Court of Human Rights which on July 24, 2014 affirmed the right of workers to live a life free of deadly exposures to asbestos. In an open letter (see also: Русская версия) published on this website, asbestos consuming companies and governments are asked: “Can You Afford Cheap Asbestos?” “There are,” the letter states “no excuses or defences for guilty parties… inaction on the asbestos threat is no longer an option.” [Read full article]

Jul 24, 2014

On July 22, 2014, a new initiative was mounted in the center of the Korean capital to raise awareness of the asbestos hazard amongst people in the construction sector. The event, which was attended by 30,000 workers, was organized by the Ban Asbestos Network of Korea in collaboration with the School of Public Health of Seoul National University and the national construction union. Construction workers constitute the majority of people diagnosed with asbestos diseases in Korea. Due to an inbuilt unfairness in government protocols, the majority of the injured are grossly undercompensated. Participants heard calls for improved conditions and salary uplifts for those in the construction sector. [Read full article]

Jul 23, 2014

Cyril Smith, the MP who represented Rochdale from 1972 to 1992, stands condemned as “a predatory paedophile and a prolific offender who would target the most vulnerable boys.” Allegations of sexual abuse and political cover-ups seem to be surfacing on an almost daily basis and prompt questions of how such a high-profile figure was able to escape justice for so long. A less well-known unsavory fact about the MP was his close, some might say intimate, association with the UK asbestos giant: Turner and Newall Ltd. Not only did Smith own 1,300 T&N shares, but he addressed company directors by their first names, had dinners with them and willingly connived to progress the corporate agenda. [Read full article]

Jul 17 2014

The annual seminar of the Parliamentary Asbestos Sub-Group took place in London on July 16 hours before a memorial service for MP Paul Goggins, a renowned campaigner for the rights of asbestos victims. The afternoon session featured presentations covering legal, medical and political issues. Coming less than a fortnight after Action Mesothelioma Day had highlighted the devastation caused by the national asbestos catastrophe, the human dimension of the epidemic of avoidable cancers and respiratory diseases was at the forefront of delegates’ minds. As a leading UK medical researcher told delegates, the UK mesothelioma epidemic was a “health emergency.” [Read full article]

Jul 14, 2014

A risk assessment produced by Industrial Hygienist Robin Howie examines the health hazards to residents of the Anderson Tower in Motherwell, North Lanarkshire, a large town south east of Glasgow. The block of flats was evacuated on July 3, 2014 by North Lanarkshire Council, after asbestos fibres were liberated during repair work by Scottish Power. The Council believes that “any risk is extremely low. Asbestos generally poses a health risk through exposure over a long period in high concentrations. What we have found is small areas of settled dust.” Mr. Howie, however, has other thoughts on the matter. [Read full article]

Jul 9 2014

Twenty-five years ago this week, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) of the United States signalled its intention to protect American citizens from the deadly workplace hazard posed by asbestos. On July 12, 1989, the EPA issued the final ruling which banned the use of most asbestos-containing products. A fortnight later the U.S. Asbestos Ban and Phase-out Rule (ABPR) was promulgated. Unfortunately, an aggressive assault by Canadian and U.S vested interests put paid to the phase-out; as a result of legal action the ABPR was vacated by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit on October 18, 1991. [Read full article]

Jul 4, 2014

Throughout the UK, activities took place on July 4, 2014 – Action Mesothelioma Day – to raise public awareness of a disease which is killing more people every year. A report by Hilda Palmer, from the Greater Manchester Asbestos Victims Support Group, highlighted the participation of asbestos victims, family members, campaigners, and politicians, all of whom demanded that funding be made available for research into the treatment of and possible cures for the deadly asbestos cancer, mesothelioma. A dove release, a public rally in the city center and a packed meeting in Manchester Town Hall attracted widespread attention and support and a great deal of press interest. [Read full article]

Jul 4, 2014

On Brazil’s national day of justice (August 11, 2014), retired Labor Inspector and leader of the Brazilian movement to ban asbestos Fernanda Giannasi will be honoured when she is awarded the country’s highest distinction: the Order of Judicial Merit for Labor in Brasilia. The decision to bestow this honor upon her was taken by the Ministers of the Higher Labour Court in recognition of her “tireless work to ban asbestos in Brazil.” It is no exaggeration to say that Fernanda and her colleagues at the asbestos victims’ group ABREA have revolutionized the asbestos debate in Brazil. [Read full article]

Jul 3, 3014

The Rajasthan Majdoor Panchayat Sangh and the Occupational Health and Safety Association, Ahmedabad in collaboration with the Occupational Health and Safety Centre, Mumbai and the Occupational and Environmental Health Network of India held a two-day Diagnosis Camp in Rajasthan State in western India on June 19-20, 2014. The medical camp, which was supported by the Global Greengrant Fund, was organized to screen mine and quarry workers for cases of silicosis. Many of the people examined had worked in the stone quarries in and around the village. These quarries produce a soap stone which is contaminated with asbestos. [Read full article]

Jun 24, 2014

The publication of a new resource on the history of the asbestos industry is of import to campaigners engaged in the struggle to ban asbestos. The translation into English of a German book about Switzerland’s industrial legacy “fills an important gap in our knowledge of asbestos.” This review by British historian Geoffrey Tweedale of the English version of The Asbestos Lie commends the new text as well-written, easy to read and excellently translated. It is, he writes, “a significant contribution to our knowledge of the European asbestos industry.” [Read full article]

Jun 17, 2014

When the 2014 Football World Cup was awarded to Brazil, the world’s fourth biggest asbestos producer, ban asbestos campaigners had serious concerns about whether asbestos would be used in the construction of the venues and ancillary buildings. According to a well-informed source, asbestos was not used to build the stadiums. Unfortunately, however, the widespread destruction of asbestos-contaminated buildings on development sites has created an environmental hazard that continues to endanger workers and members of the public. Due to the top secret nature of all World Cup issues, neither the federal nor the football authorities have been willing to discuss these issues. [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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