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International Ban Asbestos Secretariat

International Ban Asbestos Secretariat

lkaz@btconnect.com

 

News text:

Jul 20, 2018

In the early morning yesterday (July 19, 2018) a blast in the Flatiron district of lower Manhattan released asbestos into the environment; reports confirmed that asbestos had lined the steam pipes which exploded. The Mayor of NY Mr. de Blasio told New Yorkers: “We’re going to work from an abundance of caution… Now that we know there’s asbestos present, we’re not going to cut any corners. We’re going to be very thorough.” It is expected that asbestos remediation will continue until the weekend in the “hot zones,” near the blast site. See: Asbestos from Manhattan steam pipe blast forces evacuations.

Jul 20, 2018

Despite Spain’s 2002 ban on asbestos, 2.5 million tonnes remain within the national infrastructure, in buildings and installations of all kinds, including schools and water delivery systems. A video featuring Spanish experts – technical consultant to the CCOO trade union Óscar Bayona, pulmonologist Francisco Javier García Pérez and architect Pilar Pereda – has been uploaded in which they explain the current situation and give guidance about how workers and members of the public can be protected from hazardous exposures. See: Vivir rodeados de Amianto [Living surrounded by asbestos].

Jul 20, 2018

An asbestos fringe event at the annual Congress of the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) took place on July 17, 2018 in Melbourne, organized by the non-governmental organization Union Aid Abroad – APHEDA. Speakers on the program included: Judith Kiejda, of the New South Wales Nurses and Midwives’ Association, Terry Mason, of the National Tertiary Education Union, Michael Wright, Electrical Trades Union and Kate Lee, from Union Aid Abroad. Presentations during this session discussed progress in the campaign to ban asbestos in Asia. See: Global Solidarity to end Asbestos Use at ACTU Congress.

Jul 20, 2018

Representatives of the asbestos victims’ campaigning group Asociación de Perjudicados y Afectados por Enfermedades (APENA) have denounced the existence of a “conspiracy of silence,” which prevents the collection of accurate data on the annual asbestos death toll and whitewashes death certificates by avoiding the mention of asbestos diseases as cause of death. APENA’s President Ricardo Torregrosa condemned multiple failures by the authorities to accept the widespread nature of the asbestos catastrophe which by 2015 had caused the mesothelioma deaths of 44 women who had washed their husband’s asbestos-contaminated work clothes. See: Los afectados por amianto alertan de que cada año fallecen 24 trabajadores [Those affected by asbestos warn that 24 workers die each year].

Jul 20, 2018

The estimate for US asbestos-related losses due to claims and litigation has risen to an all-time high of $100 billion according to Fitch Ratings Inc., one of the world’s biggest credit rating agencies, according to news circulated on July 16, 2018. With US asbestos imports increasing and asbestophile Donald Trump in the White House, it is likely that asbestos-related claims will continue for the foreseeable future. See: Fitch raises asbestos claims estimate to $100bn.

Jul 17, 2018

Omana George has been honoured this month by being named the recipient of the Leslie Nickels International Health & Safety Award by the Occupational Health and Safety Section of the American Public Health Association (APHA). Ms. George has been a key force in progressing grassroots efforts throughout Asia to protect workers and members of the public from dangerous processes and substances – e.g. asbestos – during her years at the Asia Monitor Resource Center. The award will be presented at APHA’s 146th Annual Meeting & Expo from November 10 to14, 2018 in San Diego, California. See: News release of the Occupational Health and Safety Section of the American Public Health Association. Annual Awards 2018. July 13, 2018.

Jul 17, 2018

Under Korean legislation, the authorities are obliged to carry out periodic medical screenings of people over 40 years old who lived within one kilometre of asbestos mining or processing operations as well as people who lived near shipyards. On July 16-19, 2018, clinics will be held in various districts of Changwon City in South Korea’s Gyeongnam Province at which basic health check-ups will be conducted. If required, follow-up examinations including chest CTs and pulmonary function tests will be performed. See: 창원시, 석면피해 의심지역 주민 건강영향조사 실시[Changwon City conducts a survey on the health of residents suspected of asbestos damage].

Jul 17, 2018

Valencia’s campaigning group “Fiber Cement, No Thanks” – supported by members of the Association of Asbestos Victims, Spain’s largest trade union: the Comisiones Obreras, the Federation of Mothers and Fathers-Valencia and other civil society groups – is demanding that the Department of Education remove asbestos from 38 educational premises in the Province. Although some remediation had been undertaken, serious concerns remain over the situation in dozens of buildings. See: “Fibrocemento, No Gracias” pide a Educación retirar el amianto de 38 centros [The movement “Fibrocemento, No Gracias” asks Education to remove asbestos from 38 centers].

Jul 17, 2018

The latest debate regarding the suspected asbestos contamination of rolling stock purchased from the operators of the Madrid subway for use in Buenos Aires has resulted in the formation of a commission of enquiry which will be composed of members of political parties, the municipality, and trade union officials representing the subway workers; technical experts will be appointed to inform the process which is being undertaken by the Buenos Aires City Legislature to evaluate the risks for workers and users of the subway. See: Buenos Aires. Amianto en los subtes: Recalde impulsa una comisión investigadora [Buenos Aires. Asbestos in the subways: Recalde promotes a research commission].

Jul 16, 2018

A vituperative Russian language online article condemns Ukraine’s Ministry of Health saying: “most of the acute problems of today’s life of Ukrainians are somehow connected with the Ministry of Health (MoH)...” In 2017, the MoH announced that asbestos would be banned in Ukraine; the prohibitions were overturned by the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) as a result of which the MoH launched a lawsuit against the MoJ (see: Ukraine’s Fight to Ban Asbestos: Update). This one-sided diatribe asserts that there are much more important issues for the MoH to address than its obsession with banning asbestos, a substance which covers 75% of Ukrainian houses. See: МОЗ против асбеста: кто виноват и что делать? [MOH against asbestos: who is to blame and what to do?]

Jul 16, 2018

Last week, after 6 weeks of testimony a jury in St. Louis, Missouri awarded $4.69 billion to 22 women and their families who claimed that decades of daily use of Johnson & Johnson’s (J&J) asbestos-contaminated talcum powder caused their ovarian cancer; this is the first US case to be decided regarding the causation of ovarian cancer by toxic talc. The six man and six woman jury deliberated for eight hours and decided that the plaintiffs should receive $550 million in compensatory damages and $4.14 billion in punitive damages from the company. The news of this huge victory has been reported all over the world including Russia, Brazil, China and throughout Europe. See: St. Louis jury returns $4.69 billion verdict in first trial linking baby powder, asbestos and ovarian cancer.

Jul 16, 2018

Personnel from Kenya’s National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) are worried about the removal of asbestos roofing materials in Machakos County; there are no laws regulating asbestos removal and disposal in the country and no dumpsites certified to receive asbestos waste, according to the head of NEMA Titus Simiyu. In recognition of the current situation, Simiyu has issued warnings to concerned householders about the hazard and recommended they suspend asbestos removal work until the government has taken action to address the situation. See: “We Have Nowhere To Dispose Asbestos Wastes,” Warns NEMA Boss.

Jul 16, 2018

As staff at customer services for Singapore SMRT Corporation – responsible for public transport in Singapore – told a commuter that all train brakes contained asbestos in an email sent on June 20, 2018, the company categorically refuted the allegation stating that:  “asbestos (banned in Singapore in the 1980s) is not used in any part of our MRT network.” The confusion was due to “human error caused by one of our customer relations staff putting his own words and sending the e-mail reply to a commuter too quickly.” See: SMRT refutes its own customer service email claiming that train brakes are lined with asbestos.

Jul 16, 2018

The election of Pedro Sánchez Pérez-Castejón as Spanish Prime Minister has given new impetus for calls from asbestos victims’ groups for the establishment of a national asbestos compensation fund, says Jon García from the Basque victims’ association Asviamie. In October 2017, a proposal by the Basque Parliament was accepted by the Spanish Congress; since then, however, progress has stalled and the current Congressional session ended without any further action. See: El Congreso saca del cajón el fondo del amianto tras un año de bloqueo [Congress takes the asbestos fund out of the drawer after one year of blocking].

Jul 13, 2018

President Trump’s administration has imposed US tariffs on $200bn of Chinese exports including commonplace items such as luggage, shampoo, fish, fruit and wood. On page 43 of the 205 page document listing the new restrictions are Crocidolite (blue) asbestos (HTSUS code 2524.10.00) and Asbestos other than crocidolite (HTSUS code 2524.90.00). According to the most recent asbestos data from the US Geological Survey, the sole type of asbestos imported into the country is chrysotile (white). Clarification is now being sought. See: Request for Comments Concerning Proposed Modification of Action Pursuant to Section 301: China’s Acts, Policies, and Practices Related to Technology Transfer, Intellectual Property, and Innovation.

Jul 13, 2018

On July 9, 2018 the Administrative Court of Rennes, made public a decision which ordered the French State to pay a total of €340,000 in damages to 34 former workers who were exposed to asbestos at military shipyards; the claimants, all of whom worked for the Directorate of Shipbuilding (DoS) in Lorient and Brest and are all suffering from health problems, will receive sums ranging from €3,800 to €12,800. The Court ruled that the DoS had failed to provide “effective protection.” See: Amiante. L’État condamné à payer 340 000 euros aux ex-DCN de Lorient et Brest [Asbestos. State condemned to pay 340,000 euros to former DCNs of Lorient and Brest].

Jul 18, 2018

Once upon a time, photograph albums held the memories of generations of families; important days and events were marked by black and white and then colour photographs which were taken, processed and mounted for safe-keeping. Those days are long gone with most images now stored somewhere in the cloud or on phones or hard drives. Some may call us old school, but we could think of no better way of reflecting the optimism, support and engagement of groups all over the UK who joined as one on July 6, 2018 to observe the Annual Mesothelioma Action Day than uploading a selection of photographs in which fellowship and commonality of purpose shine through. [Read full article]

Jul 13, 2018

Children and staff from 11 local schools took part in an asbestos awareness workshop organised by the Asbestos Interest Group (A.I.G), a campaigning body in a former asbestos mining area on South Africa’s annual Youth Day (June 16). Feedback from participants has been positive with children having enjoyed meeting up with pupils from other schools to learn about the impact of asbestos contamination of their towns. A report written by A.I.G’s Prudence Kotoloane is informative as well as inspiring – workshop facilitators organized outdoor games to keep the children “awake and energetic.” The International Ban Asbestos Secretariat is proud to be a co-sponsor of this and other events organized by the A.I.G. [Read full article]

Jul 12, 2018

Participants from Sri Lanka, India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan, China, Hong Kong, Vietnam, Philippines, the US and Japan attended the two-day 2018 South Asia Asbestos Strategy Meeting which took place in Negombo, on the west coast of Sri Lanka, on July 10 and 11, 2018. On the agenda were updates about current national situations highlighting successful strategies and ongoing challenges. Of great interest to international delegates were presentations by Sri Lanka colleagues who provided a wealth of information on current developments and announced that plans for national prohibitions of asbestos had not been abandoned. [Read full article]

Jul 2, 2018

The annual Parliamentary Asbestos Seminar took place on June 26, 2018 in Committee Room 14 of the House of Commons. As always this event, held under the auspices of the Asbestos Sub-Committee of the All-party Group on Occupational Health and Safety, offered the opportunity for Members of Parliament to hear about a diverse range of global asbestos developments from people working on the asbestos frontline. During the two-hour session, first-hand testimony was provided regarding challenges faced by UK asbestos cancer sufferers, progress being made by British mesothelioma researchers, asbestos legacy issues at brownfield sites, the campaign by the Asbestos in Schools Group and the tragic consequences of asbestos consumption in India. [Read full article]

Jun 22, 2018

An authoritative audit of UK mesothelioma cancer care of 7,000+ individuals between 2014 and 2016 contains both good and bad news. During the period in question, more mesothelioma patients in England and Wales received active treatment – i.e. anti-cancer treatment with chemotherapy, radiotherapy, surgery or a combination of the three – than previously. Unfortunately, only 7% of patients survived for three years post-diagnosis. Recommendations made by the authors included suggestions to: improve the quality of data collection, conduct surgical survival audits, provide better information to guide patients’ treatment decisions and ensure patient referrals to clinical trials outside their areas. [Read full article]

Jun 18, 2018

On June 11, 2018, the District Administrative Court of Kiev published its decision in the case brought by Ukraine’s Ministry of Health (MoH) over the quashing by the Ministry of Justice and the State Regulatory Service (SRS) of 2017 MoH regulations ending the use of asbestos in Ukraine. The ruling of the three-judge panel upheld the human rights of Ukrainians to live a life free from asbestos exposure. A Ukrainian campaigner called this decision “an indisputable victory” by the Ministry of Health of Ukraine and its supporters and pledged to continue the struggle “to achieve a total asbestos ban in Ukraine such as that which exists in other European countries.” [Read full article]

Jun 12, 2018

The text of this article appeared as Chapter 10 in the book: Beyond Testimony and Trauma: Oral History in the Aftermath of Mass Violence published by University of British Columbia Press in 2015; the author of this chapter Professor Arthur McIvor and the editor of the book Steven High have given their permission for this seminal text to be uploaded to this website. In his concluding thoughts the author says: “In common with other trauma victims and survivors of mass violence, those with disabling and terminal ARDs feel the need to have those responsible admit their blame and recognize their role in economic violence. This is crucial for reconciliation, social healing, and making sense of their working lives.” [Read full article]

May 21, 2018

This press release has been issued today by the Asbestos Victims Support Groups Forum (UK) and the International Ban Asbestos Secretariat; it expresses serious concerns over the discovery of tremolite asbestos in products being sold in the UK. The analysis of items purchased in April 2018 in a London suburb was undertaken by Sean Fitzgerald, a US expert who had previously found asbestos contamination in 24 talc-based make-up items sold by the US chain of Claire’s Accessories. Fitzgerald reported the presence of tremolite, an amphibole type of asbestos fiber, in various eyeshadow and blusher products purchased at this shop. [Read full article]

May 16, 2018

Asbestos victims’ groups, campaigning bodies and NGOs issue an open letter to the asbestos industry declaring: “the end for the deadly asbestos industry is fast approaching.” Supported by signatories from Asia, Latin America, Europe, Australia and Africa, the text highlights recent measures called for by regional bodies and international agencies to address the global asbestos crisis: securing a covenant for implementing a global ban on asbestos, providing financial, technical and educational support for countries seeking to achieve bans – programs to minimize hazardous exposures and eliminate asbestos diseases, making public investment and development aid conditional on banning asbestos [Русской версии] [Versão em português]. [Read full article]

May 15, 2018

A grassroots effort to identify workers with asbestos-related disease from an asbestos factory in Kolkata, India has resulted in the suspension of two workers who had been involved in organizing the initiative. Angered by the management’s attempts to intimidate the workforce and punish full-time factory workers Arun Chakraborty and Goutam Sardar, former workmates have formed a “Struggle Committee” to increase the pressure on the management of Everest Industries Ltd. to withdraw the suspension orders and to progress efforts to improve the occupational health and safety regime at their workplace. [Read full article]

May 15, 2018

As the UK asbestos death toll mounts, concerns have been expressed by civil society representatives regarding the impact of a potential UK-US trade agreement and the diminution of measures to safeguard human health from toxic exposures after our exit from the European Union. There is evidence of the importation of asbestos contaminated products even under present conditions; certainly no room for any relaxation of controls. The author concluded: “With the world’s highest asbestos-related disease mortality rate and regulatory authorities facing brutal financial cutbacks, the last thing anyone wants is the import of more toxic material or a watering down of health and safety protections.” [Read full article]

May 5, 2018

On April 6, 2018, an asbestos awareness event was held for community members in the Loopeng Village Community Hall by the Asbestos Interest Group (AIG), a grassroots group from Kuruman in the Northern Cape Province of South Africa. Addressing the audience were palliative care and cancer specialists – who provided information on a multitude of aspects affecting people with asbestos-related diseases – as well as representatives of the municipality. The exchange of information was facilitated by questions and answers sessions as well as the provision of handouts, leaflets and pamphlets. Photographs of the day’s activities illustrate the text of this report. [Read full article]

May 3, 2018

Figures published recently by the United States Geological Survey (USGS) reveal a sharp drop in asbestos production during the period 2012-2015 – down by around 31% over the four years. The fall depends primarily on a revision of Russian production levels for that period, which earlier USGS reports had recorded as being virtually static at around 1 million tonnes per annum (since 2007). Based on our analysis of the new data, comparative tables and graphics have been produced to depict the impact of the revisions on levels of national asbestos consumption. There is good news and bad: the good news is that global asbestos consumption had reportedly fallen to ~1.4 million tonnes by 2016; the bad news is that there is little change in the proportion used in Asia. [Read full article]

May 2, 2018

Judicial proceedings continued in April 2018 over the illegitimacy of action taken by Ukraine’s Ministry of Justice and the State Regulatory Service to quash the national ban on all types of asbestos including chrysotile adopted by the Ministry of Health (MoH) in March 2017 and invalidated the following October. On April 18, 2018, the litigants attended the second hearing of the proceedings instigated by the MoH to effect the reinstatement of the prohibitions. Applications made by the plaintiffs were approved which will allow the submission of evidence documenting the health hazards posed by chrysotile asbestos and a short delay in proceedings to obtain a crucial report from Ukraine’s Academy of Sciences. [Read full article]

Apr 16, 2018

A historic breakthrough occurred in a US courtroom this month when a New Jersey jury handed down the first mesothelioma claimant’s verdict against Johnson & Johnson to Stephen Lanzo, a 46-year-old investment banker, who contracted the fatal asbestos cancer after decades of exposure to the company’s talc-based baby powder. On Thursday, April 5, 2018, $30 million was awarded to Mr. Lanzo with a further $7 million to his wife Kendra. On April 11, 2018, the jurors decided that the defendants’ “outrageous and egregious” behaviour warranted further censure and ordered that a further $80 million in punitive damages be paid. Pivotal to the outcome of this case was evidence and corporate strategies revealed in confidential corporate documents. [Read full article]

Mar 8, 2018

On January 31, 2018 the latest salvos were fired in the battle by Ukraine’s Ministry of Health (MoH) against the quashing of its decision to ban asbestos to protect citizens from deadly exposures. On that day, Kiev’s District Administrative Court held the first hearing on a case brought by the MoH to reinstate the 2017 prohibition banning the use of all types of asbestos including chrysotile (white asbestos) which had been invalidated in October 2017. If the MoH succeeds, and one must hope it does, Ukraine will be yet another country – like Brazil – which resorted to judicial action in order to overcome vested interests determined to prioritize corporate profits over human health. [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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Asbestos Trade Data (2015)

Fiber Producers
(tonnes):
   Russia650,000
   Brazil270,000
   China210,000
   Kazakhstan180,000
    
 Top Five Users
(tonnes):
   India370,000
   China287,000
   Brazil163,000
   Russia124,000
   Indonesia120,000