International Ban Asbestos Secretariat

International Ban Asbestos Secretariat



News text:

Apr 18, 2024

At an April 15, 2024 press conference organized by the Bangladesh Ban Asbestos Network (B-BAN) and Bangladesh Occupational Safety, Health and Environment Foundation (OSHE), held in the capital of Bangladesh, health and safety campaigners and technical experts urged the government to ban asbestos to “protect human health and the environment, as asbestos is a known carcinogen.” In his comments to the meeting, Aminur Rashid Chowdhury Repon, Executive Director of the OSHE Foundation, announced that chrysotile (white) asbestos fibers had been identified during recent laboratory analyses of cement sheeting and automotive brake shoes. See: Experts for banning asbestos in Bangladesh.

Apr 18, 2024

Under new provisions, which came into effect on April 1, 2024, some patients with unresectable malignant pleural mesothelioma can receive medical treatment using a new dual immunotherapy cocktail that has been shown to prolong life for many patients. As the care will be provided by the National Health Insurance, patients will not have to face costly medical bills. See: 石棉致癌潛伏期達40年 惡性肋膜間皮瘤癌現生機 4/1起雙免疫治療納入一線給付 [Asbestos carcinogenesis has a latentcy period of up to 40 years. The incidence of malignant pleural mesothelioma cancer is increasing. Dual immunotherapy will be included in first-line benefits starting from 4/1].

Apr 18, 2024

It was announced on April 16, 2024 that attempts by Belgian politicians to reform legislation blocking lawsuits by claimants who had received compensation from the Belgian Asbestos Fund (the Fund) had failed. With elections looming, there was, said a spokesperson for the Open Flemish Liberals and Democrats political party, no chance of amending the legislation in the short-term. In March, the Social Affairs Committee of the Chamber of Deputies had once again rejected a bill to allow recipients of payouts from the Fund to launch legal proceedings against a company despite receiving compensation from the Fund. See: Pas d'accord au sein de la majorité sur l'amiante [No agreement within the [Federal] majority [parties] on asbestos].

Apr 18, 2024

On April 15, 2024, a family launched a legal action to claim compensation for the 2018 asbestos cancer death of a 79-year old man who had worked near an asbestos processing factory owned by the Nichias company. The claimants argue that during the deceased’s 13 years employment at a Hashima workshop, he had breathed in asbestos liberated by the Nichias Hashima Plant in Gifu Prefecture. Under Japanese law, people can obtain compensation for contracting asbestos cancer if they lived near an asbestos factory. There is no such provision for people who worked near such a facility. See: 「石綿工場の近くで勤務」、中皮腫で死亡 責任裁定、遺族が申請 [“Working near an asbestos factory,” died of mesothelioma liability ruling, bereaved family applies].

Apr 18, 2024

The article cited below contained a wide variety of facts and figures detailing Italy’s ongoing asbestos catastrophe. There are, according to the text, 4,400 people diagnosed every year with asbestos-related diseases and a million asbestos-contaminated sites throughout Italy which collectively contain 40 million tons of asbestos; asbestos is present in 2,400 schools, 1,000 libraries and 350 hospitals. With just 18 facilities capable of disposing of asbestos waste, calls are being made for government action to build capacity as a matter of urgency. See: Amianto, i dati epidemiologici evidenziano una situazione di allarme [Asbestos, epidemiological data show an alarming situation].

Apr 18, 2024

According to emails released last week by New Zealand’s Ministry of Education under the Official Information Act, two classrooms were extensively contaminated after friable asbestos in wall linings was disturbed during renovation work without prior tests having been done. Eventually, the school authorities were able to get the asbestos-containing material removed. For the last year the Ministry of Education has been considering a scheme to establish a national register of approved asbestos removal firms; no such scheme has been implemented yet. See: School classrooms contaminated with asbestos after linings taken off without testing.

Apr 17, 2024

An exposé in the April 11, 2024 issue of the West Australian documented misleading information circulated by WorkSafe – the health and safety regulator in Western Australia (WA) – reassuring workers that “none of the samples [from the Mt. Keith nickel mine] exceeded the workplace [asbestos] exposure standard...” According to a certified lab, asbestos fibers were present in samples from the mine. Commenting on this news, Ms. Markey, CEO of the Asbestos Diseases Society of Australia said: “We need more collaboration between workers and the regulators… There should also not be two sets of standards for contractors versus salaried employees.” See [subscription site]: ‘More needs to be done’ after asbestos detection at BHP Nickel West’s Mt Keith clashes with WorkSafe result.

Apr 17, 2024

A well-researched and comprehensive article published on April 12, 2024, reviewed Brazil’s asbestos dossier in light of asbestos prohibitions announced by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) last month. The text of this article covered a wide range of material and sources and included a discussion of the World Health Organization’s asbestos policies, Brazilian epidemiological data on asbestos-related diseases and technological progress in creating asbestos-free substitutes. See: Vale a pena ser o terceiro maior produtor de amianto no mundo? [Is it worth being the third largest producer of asbestos in the world?].

Apr 17, 2024

The article cited below from a source in China, reaffirms the carcinogenic nature of chrysotile asbestos, citing evidence from the WHO and IARC. The author emphasized the variety of asbestos products, warning that: “People who are exposed to asbestos for a long time can face serious health risks. Eventually, this underlying inflammation may evolve into serious diseases such as asbestosis, pleural mesothelioma, etc., and may even lead to the development of malignant tumors such as lung cancer.” China is the world’s 2nd largest asbestos user and 4th largest producer. See: 被60多国禁用的一级“致癌物”,1Kg含百万根尖针!为何我国随处可见 [A first-class “carcinogen” banned by more than 60 countries, 1kg contains millions of sharp needles! Why can it be seen everywhere in China?].

Apr 17, 2024

The Court of Appeal of Catania, Italy issued a victim’s verdict in an asbestos case brought by petrochemical worker Francesco Castorina, who had been employed for 35 years as a maintenance worker in a plant in the Priolo-Augusta petrochemical facility. The Court ordered Italy’s National Institute for Social Security (INPS) to reevaluate the claimant’s pension contributions and pay the amount owed to him since the INPS first rejected his application for asbestos benefits. See: Lavoratore del Petrolchimico esposto all’amianto, Tribunale condanna l’Inps [Petrochemical worker exposed to asbestos, Court condemns INPS].

Apr 17, 2024

An article in the March 31, 2024 issue of The Sunday Times revisited the damage done to workers and members of the public by the nefarious activities of former asbestos giant Cape plc, the maker of asbestos-containing construction products such as Asbestoslux. A treasure trove of documents acquired by the Asbestos Victims Support Group Forum, which was uploaded to the internet, documented a litany of lies and deceit by which the company forestalled legislation and delayed efforts to implement measures to protect product users. The company, which was bought by the French multinational Altrad, continues to resist calls by victims for a £10 million contribution for medical research into asbestos-related diseases. See [subscription site]: No Cause for Anxiety: Asbestos firm hid cancer risk for 30 years.

Apr 17, 2024

New laboratory tests revealed that mulch used at eight Melbourne parks, including the PA Burns Reserve and the Altona Coastal Park, contained asbestos fibers. Further testing was ongoing at some of the contaminated sites with remediation work underway at others. Duncan Pendrigh, director of regulatory services of the Environment Protection Authority, said he was “confident asbestos discovery in Victoria would not be as widespread as New South Wales, where bonded asbestos has been discovered at more than 75 sites, including parks and schools.”See: Asbestos confirmed in seven Melbourne parks after latest tests.

Apr 15, 2024

Texas-based BNSF Railway, a company owned by the American billionaire Warren Buffet, is being sued by multiple asbestos victims – including 61-year old asbestos victim Paul Resch and the estates of Joyce Wald and Thomas Wells – who alleged that the railway failed to prevent cancerous fibers being liberated as a result of its operations in the Montana town of Libby. To date, arguments advanced by BNSF’s legal team in defence of the company have been rejected by U.S. District Court Judge Brian Morris. See: Victims of Montana asbestos pollution that killed hundreds take Warren Buffet's railroad to court.

Apr 15, 2024

An industrial tribunal in Rouen ordered the DS Smith Paper company in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray, France to compensate 131 asbestos-exposed employees last month (March 2024). The judges agreed that, as a result of hazardous workplace exposures, the claimants suffered from “asbestos anxiety,” a fear of contracting an asbestos-related disease. Compensation payouts ranged from €1,200 (US $1,280) to €15,000 (US $15,980) per employee. See: Rouen. Affaire DS Smith: l'entreprise condamnée à indemniser 131 salariés exposés à de l'amiante [Rouen. DS Smith case: the company ordered to compensate 131 employees exposed to asbestos].

Apr 15, 2024

Massive amounts of asbestos-containing waste are being created around the world every year. Burying this material in regulated landfills is, at best, a temporary solution. The article cited below discussed progress being made by companies in the Netherlands and France in detoxifying this waste using heat processes, microwaves or chemicals to destroy the fibers, so that the material can safely be reused, thereby eliminating the need to further contaminate dumpsites or the environment. See: Asbestos is a global waste problem – here's how we might get rid of it.

Apr 15, 2024

The Court of Velletri, in the Italian capital city, this month upheld an appeal from 60-year old Piero De Luca, who alleged that as a result of asbestos exposures at the Colgate Palmolive plant in Anzio he contracted pleural plaques and pleural thickening. His application for asbestos benefits and early retirement was rejected by the Italian National Social Security Institute (INPS) in 2020. The Court ordered INPS to increase by 30% the social security benefits paid to the claimant bringing the sum to €2,500 (US$2665) per month. See: Amianto alle porte di Roma, lavoratore affetto da placche pleuriche: tribunale condanna l'Inps [Asbestos on the outskirts of Rome, worker suffering from pleural plaques: court condemns INPS].

Apr 16, 2024

On March 18, 2024 – more than 32 years after America’s first asbestos ban was vacated by a Louisiana Court of Appeals – the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) confirmed that the use of chrysotile (white) asbestos would be phased out with an immediate embargo on asbestos imports once the Final Rule on Asbestos Part 1; Chrysotile Asbestos; Regulation of Certain Conditions of Use Under the Toxic Substances Control Act (the Final Rule) was implemented. This long-awaited national ban will protect not only people in the US but those in other countries which decide that the time is right for them to also take unilateral action on the asbestos hazard. It is reassuring that, after all this time, the EPA is once again becoming a force for good. [Read full article]

Mar 12, 2024

On March 3, 2024, members of the Asian Ban Asbestos Network (ABAN) convened for the 2024 ABAN South Asia Strategy meeting. With its unique asbestos history, Sri Lanka was an appropriate venue for the meeting. In retaliation for plans to impose an asbestos ban in Sri Lanka, Russia embargoed tea imports from Sir Lanka. As a result, the asbestos ban was put on hold. Despite these setbacks, groups in Sri Lanka are progressing a range of efforts to minimize hazardous asbestos exposures. Commenting on the deliberations in Colombo, ABAN Coordinator Sugio Furuya highlighted: the high level of engagement exhibited by the attendees and the participation of a new generation of ban asbestos campaigners. [Read full article]

Mar 8, 2024

March 24, 2024 will be the 100th anniversary of the death of Nellie Kershaw, the first named victim of asbestos-related disease. Her story is paradigmatic of the experience of so many victims, abandoned to their fate once occupationally-contracted diseases made them unfit for work. Has much changed since Nellie Kershaw’s death 100 years ago? Thousands of Britons are still dying from asbestosis, the disease which killed Mrs. Kershaw, and asbestos cancers every year. The government’s refusal to address the contamination of the national infrastructure will ensure that in decades to come there will be many more people like Nellie Kershaw who experience ill health and premature death due to toxic exposures. A 100 years on, the human face of this tragedy may have changed but the problem remains the same. [Read full article]

Mar 4, 2024

Nearly ten years after the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), in Strasbourg condemned Switzerland for its treatment of one asbestos victim, a ruling last month (February 2024) found that the same legal system was in violation of the European Convention on Human Rights (the Convention) in its handling of a lawsuit brought by another asbestos plaintiff. Although there were differences in the cases, the ECHR’s response to the time-barred defense advanced by Switzerland’s legal team was the same; the need for “legal certainty and legal peace,” did not justify depriving asbestos claimants “of the chance to assert their rights before the courts.” [Read full article]

Feb 21, 2024

In an Asbestos Factsheet uploaded on February 16, 2024, by the United Nations Environment Programme it was reported that: “There is ongoing evidence that mismanagement of asbestos is resulting in elevated healthcare expenses that surpass any benefits.” The validity of this finding was substantiated by the asbestos scandal – news of which has gone global – which has rocked Sydney, Australia over recent weeks. The discovery of asbestos in mulch used in parks, playgrounds, schools, sports centers, hospitals, electrical substations, supermarkets and domestic gardens has led to closure of premises, cancellation of events and extremely high levels of public anxiety. [Read full article]

Feb 16, 2024

It is now 125 years, since Factory Inspector Lucy Deane warned the British Government about the hazard posed by exposures to asbestos. One wonders what she would have made of the fact that so many decades later, asbestos cancers and diseases continue to wreak havoc amongst populations the world over. Recent developments reviewed in the article cited below, revealed both good and bad news. Despite the dramatic fall in asbestos use in the 21st century, asbestos contamination of national infrastructures and pollution of the natural environment remain a public health as well as an occupational health risk to global populations. [Read full article]

Feb 5, 2024

In the run-up to World Cancer Day 2024, an article in The Guardian newspaper reverberated a World Health Organization (WHO) warning of an impending cancer “tsunami” which will see the number of new cancer cases rising by 77% by 2050. Exposure to all types of asbestos can cause a variety of cancers; data released in 2024, confirmed that 1,300,000 tonnes of asbestos were consumed worldwide last year. It is neither prudent nor humane for national governments, international agencies and regional authorities to neglect their duty to protect populations in countries where asbestos use remains legal; every minute of every day millions of people are being exposed to a substance that could kill them. It has to stop. [Read full article]

Feb 2, 2024

Following on from a TV program – Britain’s crumbling schools – broadcast on the BBC last month, an article on the website of the World Socialist on January 29th asserted that: “Schools in the UK are not fit for purpose, and many pose a ‘critical risk to life.’” While asbestos protections are increasing in EU countries, it seems that in the UK the only change is for the worse. As our schools continue to age, asbestos-containing products within them deteriorate and the likelihood of carcinogenic fibers becoming airborne grows. The final price for the negligence of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) will be paid by the children, teachers and school staff who contract mesothelioma in the decades to come. [Read full article]

Jan 25, 2024

Johnson and Johnson (J&J) announced in May 2020 that it would stop selling its iconic talc-based baby powder in US and Canadian markets. It would be another two years before the company bowed to mounting pressure over claims of discriminatory marketing and double standards and agreed to stop sales outside North America. Grassroots’ groups around the world which have been monitoring the availability of J&J products during 2023 & 2024 reported that there appeared to be a decrease in supplies of the toxic baby powder available in many retail and online outlets. [Read full article]

Jan 18, 2024

A proposal to compensate asbestos victims with shares of the asbestos defendant charged with causing their injuries is under consideration by a Brazilian court overseeing the emergence of Eternit S.A. from judicial recovery. In the 30+ years I have been involved in the fight for asbestos justice, I thought I had witnessed every type of avoidance, cover-up and denial strategy by asbestos defendants and their lawyers. I had not, however, in all that time seen anything so vile as what is being proposed in Brazil. To tie the financial survival of a suffering claimant and his/her family to the fiscal welfare of the killer company is a concept that is so egregious that it almost takes your breath away. [Read full article]

Jan 15, 2024

The production of minerals has an environmental impact and asbestos is no exception. Mountains of toxic tailings dominate the landscapes of many asbestos mining towns; although the amount of contaminated material in these mounds can vary, it is not unusual for them to be composed of up to 40% asbestos fibers. Projects to turn these environmental liabilities into assets by reclaiming magnesium, zinc, nickel and high-quality silica from the waste are being spearheaded in Canada, China and Russia. This article questions the human costs of such plans. [Read full article]

Dec 13, 2023

During 2023 there have spectacular highs and lows intermixed with pockets of progress set against a global backdrop which has constrained the work of grassroots ban asbestos campaigners in many countries. Despite serious political and economic obstacles, campaigners have found creative ways to build momentum for asbestos restrictions and support the injured. The progress achieved in 2023 was tempered by setbacks and stalemates in key asbestos-using countries. The November death of Mavis Nye, erstwhile Mesothelioma Warrior, who was a much-loved figure among the global community of ban asbestos campaigners, was a stark reminder of how vital it is to eradicate the asbestos hazard. [Read full article]

Dec 7, 2023

In a David and Goliath legal battle in Brussels, David won. In this case, David was Eric Jonckheere, President of the Belgian Association of Asbestos Victims (ABEVA), retired pilot, mesothelioma patient and member of a 7-person family which has been decimated by the signature cancer associated with asbestos: mesothelioma. On November 27, 2023, a Flemish-speaking court of the first instance convicted Eternit, a former asbestos conglomerate, of “intentional wrongdoing,” “deliberate misconduct,” “systematic manipulation” and “deliberate distortion of the facts.” By exposing Eternit’s “fraud” and “deliberate misconduct,” a path has been cleared for asbestos victims in Belgium and elsewhere to hold the company to account. Justice has long been denied; it must no longer be delayed. [Read full article]

Dec 5, 2023

Patience is running out amongst people who have been campaigning for decades to protect Brazilians from the asbestos hazard. An inexplicable and indefinite postponement last month by the country’s once revered Supreme Court of a judgment which would, once and for all, have stopped asbestos mining was the final straw. To make manifest the overwhelming public support for banning this class 1 carcinogen, asbestos victims, their supporters and advisors spent two days in Brasilia last week to mobilize support among political and civil society allies (Versão em português aqui). [Read full article]

Dec 1, 2023

Observers of the global asbestos epidemic have long categorized estimates of the number of asbestos-related deaths postulated by international agencies as woefully inadequate. Authors of a paper published in November 2023 agree: “a more realistic estimate of asbestos-related deaths could be of 289,621 in the workplace, and 304,841 when including environmental and semi-occupational causalities.” Toxic exposures experienced in the manufacture, processing and use of asbestos-cement (AC) material play a significant part in the causation of this global catastrophe; the majority of asbestos consumed every year goes into the production of AC pipes, roofing, cladding, flues, water tanks, etc. [Read full article]

Nov 26, 2023

Asbestos victims’ groups, trade unions, research institutes and community activists from Latin America, Asia, Australia & Europe have today issued a declaration supporting colleagues who are protesting in Brasilia this week over the failure of Brazil’s Supreme Court to hand down as scheduled its judgment regarding the timetable for the cessation of operations at Brazil’s only remaining asbestos mine. According to Brazilian asbestos victims’ lawyer Leonardo Amarante: “The Ministers – as STF Judges are called – were asked to determine whether mining should cease immediately or whether a one-year phase-out period should be allowed. The information vacuum which currently exists regarding this litigation is something I have never seen before” (Clique aqui para ler a versão em português). [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.

From Article:

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