International Ban Asbestos Secretariat

International Ban Asbestos Secretariat



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Jul 11, 2024

The article cited below, which was uploaded on July 8, 2024 to a Russian-language news portal, reviewed the positive contribution the asbestos sector had made to Russia and the glowing long-term prospects for the industry. Technological experimentation has succeeded in producing new uses for asbestos and the mining debris left behind once the chrysotile (white) asbestos fiber is extracted. Amongst the substances now being reclaimed from the waste are: sports magnesia, silica and components for use by the steel and rubber industries. See: Метаморфозы горного льна [Metamorphoses of mountain flax].

Jul 11, 2024

When comparing asbestos policies in Australia and Indonesia, author Gwyn Roberts pointed out that in the 1980s there was a divergence of attitude by the countries, finalizing in asbestos being banned in Australia in 2003. In Indonesia, however, there is no prohibition on asbestos use and the country is the world’s 2nd largest importer. Ban asbestos mobilization is gaining traction and in March 2024 the Supreme Court mandated that asbestos-containing products sold in the country must carry health warnings. Lobbyists at the Chrysotile Information Center and elsewhere continue to spread industry reassurances that chrysotile asbestos is safe for humans to use despite the WHO, ILO and other international agencies categorizing chrysotile asbestos as a Group 1 carcinogen. See: Asbestos danger.

Jul 11, 2024

Off-loading asbestos liabilities has become a popular pastime for corporations facing a tidal wave of lawsuits from those injured by the production, use and sale of asbestos-containing material. According to the July 10th article cited below: “Private equity firms (in the US) are quietly buying up a literal toxic asset: companies’ liabilities for decades of asbestos poisoning.” Once the huge payouts from the industrial manufacturers have been received and the liabilities transferred, the new owners make use of well-tried legal machinations to deny or delay the payment of claims. See: Wall Street Is Investing In Your Asbestos Poisoning.

Jul 11, 2024

On July 9, 2024 it was announced that the multinational construction material maker Saint Gobain SA had completed the acquisition of Australia-based building materials maker CSR for A$4.3 billion. CSR is a frequent defendant in asbestos-related lawsuits brought by Australian claimants from around the country. The use of asbestos by the company’s subsidiaries in the US and Brazil have also led to litigation from injured employees, relatives and members of the public. Press releases from Saint-Gobain and CSR are fulsome with praise for the takeover; it is unlikely that Saint-Gobain’s asbestos victims will share their enthusiasm. See: Saint-Gobain completes the acquisition of CSR in Australia.

Jul 9, 2024

A truck from the Brazilian city of Goiânia loaded with 47 tonnes of chrysotile asbestos overturned on Brazilian highway PR-092 in Paraná State over the weekend. The 44-year-old driver was injured in the accident and was taken to a local hospital. Broken sacks of asbestos – an acknowledged carcinogen – were photographed on the road and surrounding areas. Brazil’s only operational asbestos mine is located in the city of Minaçu, 300 miles from Goiânia. See: Caminhão carregado de amianto tomba na PR-092, e deixa motorista ferido [Truck loaded with asbestos turns over on PR-092, leaving driver injured].

Jun 9, 2024

According to a Reuters report, on June 28, 2024, New Jersey District Judge Georgette Castner “dismissed a lawsuit brought by a Johnson & Johnson (J&J) subsidiary against a scientist who published a paper linking talc-based consumer products to cancer, finding that the research was not fraudulent or libelous.” Dr. Jacqueline Moline had been sued over comments she made in a 2020 paper which concluded that exposure to asbestos-contaminated talc products could cause mesothelioma, the signature cancer associated with exposures to asbestos. See: Scientist defeats J&J lawsuit over cancer research.

Jul 9, 2024

On July 4, 2024, 50 tons of chrysotile asbestos departed by train from Dunhuang City – in China’s northwestern Gansu Province – to Tianjin Port, where the cargo will be sent by ship to Nigeria. This is the first time Gansu asbestos has been exported to Africa. As a result of streamlined customs procedures in Dunhuang, asbestos export markets have expanded in recent years to include Vietnam, the Philippines, Thailand and Indonesia in Southeast Asia and Nigeria in Africa. The author of the text cited below predicted that the new system will facilitate a “growth in (asbestos) export volume.” See: 甘肃温石棉首次出口非洲 [Gansu chrysotile asbestos exported to Africa for the first time].

Jul 9, 2024

A 25-minute documentary by Al Jazeera which was uploaded on July 4, 2024 reported the repercussions of the commercial exploitation of asbestos in India, the world’s largest asbestos-importing country. Interviews with British barrister Krishnendu Mukherjee, trade union leader Rajkamal Tewary, local politicians, asbestos industry workers, family members and campaigners revealed the ongoing human misery being caused by occupational and environmental asbestos exposures. Footage shot of young men, with no masks or protective equipment, shovelling asbestos-containing mining debris into sacks for use on building sites was truly shocking. See: Asbestos: The toxic mineral endangering millions in India.

Jul 9, 2024

On July 5, 2024, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) released a monograph which categorized talc as a probable human carcinogen: “After thoroughly reviewing the available scientific literature, the Working Group of 29 international experts classified talc as probably carcinogenic to humans (Group 2A) on the basis of a combination of limited evidence for cancer in humans (for ovarian cancer), sufficient evidence for cancer in experimental animals, and strong mechanistic evidence that talc exhibits key characteristics of carcinogens in human primary cells and experimental systems.” Many talc-containing products have been found to contain asbestos fibers. See: IARC Monographs evaluate the carcinogenicity of talc and acrylonitrile IARC Monographs Volume 136.

Jul 9, 2024

Italian Judge Gianluigi Bettini awarded the family of a 79-year-old railway worker who committed suicide after being diagnosed with mesothelioma – dubbed “railway workers’ cancer” – €800,000 (US$870,000). The deceased had worked in the carpentry department of the central railway depot in Bologna where carriages were maintained and/or repaired. Lawyers for the defendant company – Rete Ferroviaria Italiana (RFI), owner of Italy's railway network – have said that they will appeal the verdict. See: Bologna, si tolse la vita dopo la diagnosi del «tumore dei ferrovieri»: «Rfi deve risarcire la famiglia per l'amianto killer» [Bologna, [worker] took his own life after being diagnosed with “railway workers' cancer”: “RFI must compensate the family for the killer asbestos”].

Jul 4, 2024

The article cited below described the effectiveness of measures being implemented to further trade between Kazakhstan and countries in Asa including new and improved trade links and bilateral trade agreements between China and Kazakhstan. Shipments of chrysotile asbestos fiber are among the exports being shipped from Kazakhstan to China and from China to other countries in central Asia. See: “一带一路”为中亚农产品和矿产品提供出海便利 [The Belt and Road Initiative provides convenience for Central Asian agricultural products and mineral products to go overseas].

Jul 4, 2024

The 19th anniversary of Japan’s “Kubota Shock” – the description given to the seismic realization that the country was being decimated by an epidemic of asbestos mortality – was marked by an event on June 29th in Amagasaki City, Hyogo Prefecture. Up to that date, hundreds of employees and local people had suffered from exposures to asbestos liberated by the operations of the Kubota company’s Kanzaki Plant. According to a municipal spokesperson, asbestos exposures create a “silent time bomb” because it takes a long time for the toxic dust to affect health. See: 周辺住民の被害422人 クボタショック19年 尼崎の集会で報告 [422 people affected by the Kubota shock 19 years ago reports Amagasaki meeting].

Jul 4, 2024

The article cited below which was uploaded to a news portal in Kazakhstan reported the closure of a historic German building due to asbestos contamination. Reminding readers that: “In the 20th century, asbestos was used in construction as a refractory mineral…” the author concluded by pointing out that “by the 1990s, it turned out that it was extremely harmful to health and causes lung cancer.” In Kazakhstan, the world's 2nd biggest asbestos producer, the national asbestos agenda has been strictly controlled to prevent adverse information being circulated; whether this is a blip or a sign of a change in policy remains to be seen. See: Одну из крупнейших ратуш Германии закрыли: нашли токсичный материал [One of the largest town halls in Germany was closed: toxic material was found].

Jul 4, 2024

Very few cases of asbestos-related lung cancer are recognized or compensated in the UK despite the fact that there are thousands of these cases occurring every year. It was reported last week that a successful outcome had been achieved for the family of a Scottish shipyard worker who died of asbestos-related lung cancer. Unhelpful findings reported by a pathologist and post-mortem results that were unsupportive were disputed by a consultant engineer who found that the deceased had experienced workplace asbestos exposures in excess of 225f/ml, almost an order of magnitude greater than the Helsinki criteria. A settlement with the employer’s insurers was negotiated. See: Successful lung cancer settlement despite failure to meet Helsinki criteria.

Jun 28, 2024

On June 26, 2024, the Napes Court of Appeal confirmed a lower court’s verdict that the Swiss billionaire Stephan Schmidheiny’s negligence had caused the asbestos-related death of a worker from the Eternit Bagnoli factory in Naples. The jail sentence of three years and six months for negligent homicide was upheld. Lawyers for the defendant said that he would appeal “this unjustified sentence” to the Italian Supreme Court. This legal action is one of many being progressed against Schmidheiny over his responsibility for the deaths and injuries caused by the Swiss Eternit Group. See: Confirmation du jugement contre Stephan Schmidheiny [Confirmation of the judgment against Stephan Schmidheiny].

Jun 28, 2024

On June 27, 2024, the Fukuoka District Court ordered 5 building material producers from Kyushu island, Japan to pay compensation of 148 million yen (US$~922,000) to 65 injured asbestos claimants and/or surviving family members. In his ruling presiding judge Ueda Hiroyuki concluded that “it was possible for manufacturers who produced and sold building materials containing asbestos to predict that indoor construction workers would be exposed to dust. Therefore, the manufacturers had a duty to warn workers about the dangers and how to avoid them, but they did not.” See: 建設アスベスト訴訟 5社に1億4800万円賠償命令 [Construction asbestos lawsuit: Five companies ordered to pay 148 million yen in damages].

Jul 8, 2024

Last week, millions of readers of major UK newspapers were reminded of the country’s tragic asbestos legacy in stories about asbestos-related deaths from occupational, second-hand and environmental exposures. Almost simultaneously, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) released figures confirming the continuation of the epidemic which has been killing Britons for over a century. According to new HSE data, 5,000 people+ die annually from asbestos-related diseases including mesothelioma, lung cancer, asbestosis, cancers of the larynx and stomach; there is no data for the number of asbestos-related deaths caused by cancers of the ovary and pharynx. Calls are being made for the new Labour Government to take action on this national scandal. [Read full article]

Jul 1, 2024

The death of Robert Vojakovic was announced on June 27, 2024. Robert was a star in the galaxy of asbestos campaigners: he was indefatigable, incontrovertible and irrepressible. Coming from thousands of miles away, Robert Vojakovic grew to represent the very best of Australian values in his fight for a “Fair Go” for workers in his new country. Over the span of fifty years, he devoted his time and energy initially as a volunteer, latterly as the President of the Australian Diseases Society of Australia, to making manifest the devastating impact asbestos exposures had had on miners, millers, transport workers and family members from the infamous asbestos mining town of Wittenoom, where he himself once worked. [Read full article]

Jun 18, 2024

The news released last week that Russia’s Ministry of Health (MoH) was considering plans to recognize occupational cancers, including those caused by exposures to asbestos, as industrial diseases was as huge a surprise to ban asbestos campaigners as it was a shock to Russian vested interests. The consultation period was due to close yesterday (June 17, 2024). No doubt the MoH received angry complaints from Orenburg Minerals, Uralasbest and other asbestos stakeholders over the implicit threat to the substance at the heart of their enterprises. After all, if asbestos is hazardous enough to be on the authorized list of diseases caused by occupational exposures in Russia, then the industry propaganda which affirms that asbestos use is safe is patently untrue, as we all know it to be. [Read full article]

Jun 17, 2024

Late on June 11, 2024, Italy’s Supreme Court (the Court of Cassation) announced that it had overturned a decision by the Palermo Court of Appeal which had nullified a first-instance guilty verdict for the asbestos deaths of 39 shipyard workers and the serious injuries sustained by 11 other employees. The lower court had ruled that the negligence of executives Giuseppe Cortesi and Antonio Cipponeri had resulted in dangerous workplace asbestos exposures at the Fincantieri S.p.A. shipyard in Palermo in the 1980s. The Court of Appeal rejected this decision saying that exposure to asbestos at the company’s shipyard in Palermo had ceased in the early 1980s. The Supreme Court found the decision of the Appeal Court “erroneous” and ordered a new hearing. [Read full article]

Jun 5, 2024

I’d seen it with my own eyes but hadn’t believed it. However, in the aftermath of an explosive article on the news portal of Deutsche Welle, a German state-owned international broadcaster, I’m convinced. Last year, Brazil solidified its position as the number one supplier of asbestos to India, toppling Russia into second place. Russia’s reversal of fortunes was first observed in 2022 when Indian import data recorded 169,134 tonnes (t) from Brazil and 145,398t from Russia. The slide continued in 2023, with shipments of 160,720t of Brazilian asbestos to India. This news has repercussions that far transcend mere reals, rupees and rubles: let me explain. [Read full article]

Jun 3, 2024

“Sportswashing” is the latest weapon in the arsenal of tricks wielded by asbestos conglomerates to decontaminate corporate names sullied by decades of wanton behaviour, workforce deaths and environmental crimes. Around the world, former and current asbestos companies are attempting to restore their brands by a public relations sleight of hand, attaching their name to that of a popular team or sporting event. The contentious nature of this technique was confirmed last week by the reaction of sports fans in Parramatta, New South Wales who vociferously condemned a renewal of links between the local rugby team and James Hardie, formerly Australia’s largest asbestos conglomerate. [Read full article]

May 20, 2024

The leadership role of Australian campaigners in the struggle to eradicate the asbestos hazard in the Asia-Pacific region has not gone unnoticed. The latest newsletter (April 2024) issued by Uralasbest – Russia’s second biggest asbestos conglomerate – condemned Australia for its “sophisticated” efforts to “destroy the chrysotile (white) asbestos industry” via the UN’s Rotterdam Convention and its attempt “to add two negative paragraphs on chrysotile asbestos to the text of the Resolution on Chemicals” at the latest meeting of the UN Environment Assembly. This month’s Australian outreach project – a training initiative to build local medical capacity for the diagnosis and treatment of asbestos-related diseases in Laos and Vietnam – will almost certainly offend the Russians even more. [Read full article]

May 10, 2024

On May 7, 2024, the Government of Catalonia approved draft legislation to address the region’s deadly asbestos legacy. The Asbestos Eradication Bill, when it’s ratified by Parliament, will facilitate a timely and safe removal of asbestos from buildings and facilities. Commenting on the significance of this development, Catalonia’s President Pere Aragonès acknowledged “the commitment and involvement of civic and social entities, neighborhood associations, local governments and social agents, and various departments of the Government of Catalonia” which had led to the adoption of this landmark bill. One can but hope that the coalition of stakeholders praised by the President will continue to press for much-needed change; the sooner The Asbestos Eradication Bill becomes law, the better! [Read full article]

May 9, 2024

This article comprises the English translation of an open letter to the Swiss asbestos billionaire Stephen Schmidheiny, written by Italian journalist Silvana Mossano, whose husband Marco Giorcelli died from environmental asbestos exposures experienced in Casale Monferrato, his home town. Ms. Mossano has seen with her own eyes the dreadful repercussions of the asbestos manufacturing operations owned by Schmidheiny, who has been tried and convicted in multiple Italian courts for his role in this deadly epidemic. Ms Mossano’s letter is both heartfelt and well reasoned. It deserves to be read. [Read full article]

May 2, 2024

Italians were shocked to the core by the appearance of journalist Franco Di Mare on the Sunday night TV chatshow – Che tempo che fa (What's the weather like) – on April 28, 2024. Sixty-eight-year old Di Mare, who was speaking remotely, was shown using a respirator as he announced that he was seriously ill with the asbestos cancer, mesothelioma. During a dramatic interview with Fabio Fazio, Di Mare laid bare the devastating impact of the disease and its poor prognosis: mesothelioma has, he said “a very long latency period and when it manifests itself it is too late.” Di Mare castigated the RAI TV channel, owned & operated by the Italian Government, for turning its back on him after his diagnosis. [Read full article]

May 1, 2024

As a result of a Supreme Court ruling, it will now become obligatory for all asbestos-containing products sold in Indonesia to feature warning labels in Bahasa, the country’s official language. This landmark decision was issued further to a petition submitted in December 2023 by the Independent Community Consumer Protection Institute, the Yasa Nata Budi Foundation – a consumer advocacy body – and the Local Initiative for OSH Network. Celebrating this victory, campaigner Muchamad Darisman said: “By granting our request, the Judges took a giant leap forward in safeguarding the lives not only of workers but also of members of the public and consumers. It is essential that the Government and all relevant authorities take prompt action to implement the Court’s ruling...” [Read full article]

Apr 29, 2024

Between 2009 – when the Asian Ban Asbestos Network (ABAN) was founded – and 2023, global asbestos production fell from almost 2 million tonnes/t to 1,300,000t a year, a whopping 35% decline. There are many factors which adversely affected the asbestos industry’s bottom line during this time; the work of ABAN was one of them. On ABAN’s 15th year anniversary, its members take stock of what has been achieved by the journey which began in Hong Kong so many years ago and reaffirm their determination to continue the campaign to rid Asia of the scourge caused by the continuing use of asbestos. [Read full article]

Apr 24, 2024

Now in its 46th year of operations, the Asbestos Diseases Society of Australia (ADSA) is more relevant than ever. Having had the privilege of catching up with ADSA colleagues during a recent trip to Western Australia (WA), it was clear that the Society’s staff were even busier than usual. During our stay in Perth, we were delighted on April 18, 2024, to learn that the much-hated “once and for all rule,” which had disadvantaged ADSA members by barring them from accepting provisional damages, had been overturned by the adoption of the Civil Liability Amendment (Provisional Damages for Dust Diseases) Bill 2024. Commenting on this momentous development, the ADSA’s CEO Melita Markey said: “asbestos and silicosis sufferers in WA will have the same legal rights as sufferers elsewhere in the country.” [Read full article]

Apr 19, 2024

Last month was the grand opening of a factory in the Sverdlovsk region of Russia. The Vestra plant which is owned by Uralasbest – Russia’s 2nd biggest asbestos mining conglomerate – is located conveniently near the group’s chrysotile (white) asbestos mine in the Urals’ monotown of Asbest. Although the nature of the “mineral dust” used in the facility remains unspecified, it is likely that it is material reclaimed from chrysotile asbestos mining waste. In due course, the toxic secret at the heart of this shiny new factory will be exposed. One can but hope that this day comes sooner rather than later. [Read full article]

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]

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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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