Article Abstracts Archive

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Displaying first 25 items in reverse date order (default)
 

Asbestos: EU: 1, UK: 0

Jun 30, 2022

On June 28, 2022, the European Environment Agency uploaded a report, entitled Beating cancer – the role of Europe’s environment, which laid out a multi-pronged EU strategy for reducing the cost of deadly exposures to toxins. In the 27 EU Member States, ~2.7 million people are diagnosed with cancer and 1.3 million die from it every year. When looking at the high-profile program to tackle Europe’s asbestos legacy, even the most hardened Brexiteer must have pause for thought. No such programs exist in the UK. A 2021/22 Parliamentary enquiry into the Government’s asbestos policy was hampered from the start by its extremely limited scope. The Committee’s April 21, 2022 report identified significant failings by the Health and Safety Executive. The Government has failed to respond to the report. [Read full article]
 

Russia Violates Fundamental Right to a Safe and Healthy Working Environment

Jun 20, 2022

In a media release on June 15, 2022, groups campaigning for occupational rights and social justice denounced a Russian-led cabal for blocking United Nations progress on protecting global populations from a class 1 carcinogen: chrysotile (white) asbestos. A veto by 5 countries of a resolution tabled on June 14 to include chrysotile on Annex III of the Rotterdam Convention was a “gross violation of the spirit of the Rotterdam Convention and in total contradiction to the decision taken at the International Labour Conference last Friday by all ILO member countries… to elevate a safe and health working environment to a fundamental principle and right to work.” [Read full article]
 

Fake News, Espionage, Threats and Conspiracies: A Normal Day for the Asbestos Lobby

Jun 13, 2022

The June 2022 issue of the magazine produced by the NGO Solidar Suisse, which is available online in French, German, and English was on the theme of asbestos, with chapters about the impact of ongoing asbestos consumption in Asia and Africa, the legacy of asbestos use in Switzerland and the work of asbestos lobbyists to undermine efforts to address the global asbestos pandemic. This article is the extended version of my contribution to the above issue. [Read full article]
 

Russian Assault on United Nations’ Convention

Jun 6, 2022

The bloodthirsty attack by Russia on Ukraine has led to two resolutions by the UN General Assembly condemning the invasion and another resolution suspending Russia from the Human Rights Council. Whilst, at least some UN bodies have acknowledged that the murderous behaviour of Russia disqualifies it from participating as an equal member in UN deliberations, it seems, alas, that the Secretariat of the UN’s Rotterdam Convention (RC) is yet to get this message. Civil society groups representing millions of trade unionists, asbestos victims, medical professionals, technical experts and concerned citizens are questioning the RC Secretariat’s failure to prevent the infiltration of the Conference of the Parties beginning in Geneva on June 6. 2022 by asbestos lobbyists whose actions have been widely censured. [Read full article]
 

Memories of Dr Yoshiomi Temmyo 1932-2022

Jun 3, 2022

Our friend Dr Yoshiomi Temmyo died on May 30, 2022 after a long and full life. He was a lodestar for campaigners not only in Japan but throughout Asia and indeed the world. As Chair of the Global Asbestos Congress Organizing Committee 2000, he helped pioneer the world’s first international public event in Asia to highlight the growing crisis caused by asbestos use throughout the region: the Global Asbestos Congress 2004. Dr Temmyo was, said his friend and colleague Sugio Furuya: “a font of knowledge and wisdom for generations of activists...The network of civil society partners who were privileged to work with Dr Temmyo will continue this work; this is his legacy. Dr Temmyo was an inspiration to us all.” [Read full article]
 

Asbestos in South Korea’s Schools

May 31, 2022

At a press conference in Seoul on May 25, 2022, researchers from the Korean Citizens’ Center for Environmental Health, the National School Parents’ Network to Ban Asbestos in Schools and the Korean Ban Asbestos Network informed journalists that “4-5 out of 10 elementary, middle and high schools nationwide are still ‘asbestos schools’.” The campaigners called on the government to prioritize the removal of asbestos from schools as a matter of urgency, saying that the two-year delay caused by Covid-19 in addressing this life-and-death issue was unacceptable. The data released and information provided at the press conference were widely reported by the media. [Read full article]
 

The world is now waiting for Kazakhstani chrysotile

May 24, 2022

The headline above was the concluding sentence in a May 10, 2022 article on a Kazakhstani news portal. According to the text, Kostanay Minerals – Kazakhstan’s only chrysotile asbestos company – had declared a moratorium on mining from May 1-10, 2022 because its warehouses were full. As the vast majority of Kazakh asbestos production is exported, sanctions imposed on shipments from Russian ports as a result of the war on Ukraine have adversely impacted Kostanay’s operations. In Russia, which provides over two thirds of all global asbestos output, mining companies have also acknowledged “the unsettled economic situation.” On May 21, 2022, Russian Transport Minister Vitaly Savelyev admitted that: “The sanctions imposed on Russia today have virtually broken all logistics in our country.” [Read full article]
 

What does Hope Look Like 2022

May 18, 2022

In May 2022, hope is in short supply. With Russian troops still killing innocent Ukrainians, extreme temperatures baking populations in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, devastating wildfires decimating US western states and the Covid-19 pandemic far from conquered, a rational person could be forgiven for seeing gloom and disaster on every front. And yet, if you look closely, there are glimmers of hope to be found. This month (May 2022), events mounted by coalitions of civil society stakeholders in Asia, Latin America, Europe and Australia, addressed toxic national asbestos legacies and progressed efforts to outlaw asbestos use. With medical breakthroughs on the horizon and the rejection of pro-asbestos rhetoric, the future truly is asbestos-free! [Read full article]
 

Asbestos Update: Ukraine 2022

May 16, 2022

Russia’s blood-thirsty attack on Ukraine, has left tens of thousands dead and injured, destroyed huge swathes of the built environment and displaced over seven million Ukrainians. A report circulated on a Ukraine news portal earlier this month expressed the concern of the UN Global Compact in Ukraine that cities destroyed by the Russian army could be rebuilt with toxic Russian asbestos. Russia is the world’s biggest asbestos producer and exporter. Although Ukrainian politicians and civil servants had been working to ban asbestos in recent years, in 2005 Ukraine used 183,271 tonnes (t) of asbestos, making it Europe’s second biggest consumer after Russia (314,828t), ahead of Kazakhstan (153,050t). There is every reason to believe that Ukrainian buildings destroyed by Russian attacks will contain asbestos fibers. [Read full article]
 

Johnson and Johnson Condemned!

May 9, 2022

Health and safety campaigners are outraged at the news that 85% of the shareholders of Johnson and Johnson (J&J) supported the continued sale of toxic talc-based baby powder containing asbestos fibers in countries outside North America. A vote on resolution 10 at the company’s virtual AGM on April 28, 2022 gave the pharmaceutical giant the green light to continue the racist and duplicitous marketing strategy which protected North Americans but allowed everyone else to be exposed to a known carcinogen. “This is no longer a political or legal or consumer problem, this is a shareholder problem,” said Antoine Argouges, founder of the activist-investor platform which submitted resolution 10. [Read full article]
 

Controlled Use of Asbestos in Brazil?

May 4, 2022

Despite the fact that the Brazilian Supreme Court banned the commercial exploitation of asbestos in 2017, mining continues in the State of Goiás under a state law which countermanded the Court’s ruling and authorized production to resume for export purposes only. For decades, asbestos stakeholders in Brazil have argued that the safe use of asbestos is possible under “controlled conditions.” Epidemiological data and medical evidence have, time and again, exposed the vacuousness of this argument. A fatal road traffic accident on a public highway in the Brazilian State of Minas Gerais on April 24, 2022 reinforced the inconvenient truth that there is, in fact, no such thing as the “controlled use” of asbestos. [Read full article]
 

Parliament Call for Asbestos Eradication Program

May 3, 2022

One hundred and twenty-three years after the hazard was first acknowledged by a British Factory Inspector, a Parliamentary Committee called for government action to eradicate the danger posed by asbestos-containing material within public buildings. The deadline suggested by Members of Parliament for the completion of the decontamination was forty years or 163 years after the problem was first reported. Whilst the report was broadly welcomed, queries were raised about the consequences of setting a 40-year deadline to rid the national infrastructure of a deadly carcinogen. The Government has two months to respond to the report. [Read full article]
 

A Man on a Mission

April 28, 2022

On April 28, 2022, the world was told what his friends had feared for a long time: Eric Jonckheere had contracted the same asbestos cancer that had killed his father Pierre, his mother Françoise and his brothers: Pierre-Paul and Stéphane. The release of this heart-breaking news coincided with the launch of a legal case against the company which had been responsible for the deaths of his family: Eternit, an asbestos multinational which had continued to profit from its toxic technology long after others had transitioned to asbestos-free production. Earlier today, Eric and his attorneys served a summons on Eternit, ordering the company to appear before the Brussels Court to answer charges of wilful misconduct. [Read full article]
 

Biden Administration Calls for Asbestos Ban

Apr 13, 2022

“The failure to ban asbestos in the United States is” wrote Drs. Richard Lemen and Philip Landrigan “a national scandal and an affront to morality and human decency.” On April 5, 2022, the EPA issued a press release declaring that the US was finally prepared to take “an important step forward to protect public health and finally put an end to the use of dangerous asbestos in the United States.” If finalized, the US ban would be a clear signal to countries around the world that the mineral at the heart of a dangerous and outdated technology had been consigned to the history books along with mercury, arsenic, polychlorinated biphenyls and other substances injurious to human health and the environment. The future is asbestos-free. [Read full article]
 

Shining a Light on Asbestos Secrets

Apr 8, 2022

So many corporations behind the global asbestos epidemic claiming ~300,000 lives every year, remain in rude financial health. These include Cape PLC, formerly the Cape Asbestos Company and the American chemical company Union Carbide. In March 2022, the Asbestos Victims Support Groups Forum UK released a treasure trove of 1,600+ documents from the Cape archives acquired after protracted litigation. In April 2022, a “smoking gun” report (1967) by a Union Carbide official which stated that it: “seems that on the basis of present evidence, we are not entitled under any circumstances to state that our material is not a health hazard” was also uploaded. Whilst preparing for future litigation, interested parties would be well-advised to look at all these documents. [Read full article]
 

Toxic Schools Still a Danger to UK Children and Staff

Mar 30, 2022

The use of all types of asbestos was banned in the UK over 20 years ago, but millions of tonnes of toxic material remain hidden within the national infrastructure. While asbestos contamination in Parliament and Buckingham Palace garnishes front-page coverage, less attention is paid to the situation in schools, the majority of which contain asbestos. A March 16, 2022 report by the Public Accounts Committee raised serious concerns about the Department for Education’s mismanagement of asbestos in schools. Another Parliamentary enquiry is investigating whether the Health and Safety Executive’s asbestos policy is fit for purpose. We can but hope that the time for action has finally come and that a phased removal of asbestos from all our schools will become national policy. [Read full article]
 

Putin’s War, Economic Sanctions and Asbestos Exports

Mar 22, 2022

In a livestream address to an anti-war rally in the Swiss capital on March 19, 2022, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said: “Business in Russia works, even though our children die and our cities are destroyed.” It is unlikely that the suffering in Ukraine and outrage of the international community will have any affect on the population in the Sverdlovsk asbestos mining region, some of whom have already shown support for the war on Ukraine, or the owners of Russian conglomerates that produce 60% of the world’s annual asbestos output. Where sanctions have failed to prevent the transport of deadly Russian asbestos, civil society campaigners are urged to take action to stop toxic imports, thereby denying vital foreign currency to the Russian war machine as well as saving the lives of their compatriots. [Read full article]
 

Holding Johnson and Johnson to Account

Mar 17, 2022

Still reeling from the explosion of bad press over its abandonment of cancer sufferers exposed to asbestos in its baby powder, the American pharmaceutical giant Johnson and Johnson (J&J) was revealed this month to have used male participants incarcerated in the US prison system as guinea pigs in the 1960s & 1970s. The subjects, most of whom were African-American inmates at Holmesburg Prison, were injected with asbestos fibers “to compare the [effects of the] cancer-causing compound to talc.” Other recent adverse corporate news included J&J’s refusal to cease operations in Russia and the approval by the Securities Exchange Commission of a resolution calling on J&J shareholders to condemn the continued sale of toxic baby powder outside North America. [Read full article]
 

2022 Update from Japan’s Asbestos Frontline

Mar 13, 2022

Campaigners from asbestos victims’ associations, trade unions and civil society groups are calling on the Japanese Government to rescind a March 27, 2022 deadline after which applications for compensation from some asbestos victims will be disallowed. Amongst those who would lose out are people with asbestos-related diseases whose exposure to asbestos was non-occupational – such as people who had lived near asbestos-processing factories – and relatives of workers who had died from occupationally-caused asbestos-related diseases whose claims had been time barred. [Read full article]
 

Asbestos Victims Support Groups Forum UK Press Release March 10, 2022

Mar 10, 2022

The Asbestos Victims Support Groups Forum UK (Forum) today announced that a treasure trove of confidential documents belonging to Cape Asbestos – formerly one of the UK’s biggest asbestos conglomerates – which had been saved from destruction by the Forum and its advisors had been uploaded to the internet. In 1600+ pages, the efforts taken by corporate executives to hide the truth about the hazards posed by asbestos to workers and customers were detailed. According to the documents, misleading data was supplied by Cape to the British Occupational Hygiene Society and the Government to prevent stricter workplace regulations from being adopted. To read the Forum press release click the following link. [Read full article]
 

Press Release: International Women’s Day 2022

Mar 8, 2022

Today on International Women’s Day, global activists pay tribute to six outstanding individuals whose work has proved pivotal to so many. Original artwork depicting these leaders of asbestos victims’ groups, medical doctors, legal and academic campaigners is today being unveiled as a mark of the esteem in which these women are held. According to IBAS Coordinator Laurie Kazan-Allen: “There are many characteristics shared by the women we are celebrating today, not least of which is their quiet determination to get the job done. They are an inspiration to us all as well as role models for younger activists. The world is a better place thanks to them.” [Read full article]
 

Reflections on International Women’s Day 2022

Mar 8, 2022

To celebrate International Women's Day this year, a global coalition of groups and individuals campaigning for asbestos justice have chosen to single out leading female activists in Asia, Europe and Latin America. The support and comfort that they provide cannot be quantified. In their honor, an original image by artist Ajat Sudrajat was commissioned in which they are pictured together, a feat never before achieved as they live in far-flung countries. By celebrating their work, tribute is paid to all those individuals, male as well as female, whose lives are devoted to supporting the asbestos-injured and shutting down an industry which has caused so much death and destruction all over the world. [Read full article]
 

Breakthrough in Occupational Disease Recognition in Turkey

Mar 4, 2022

A landmark ruling was handed down by Turkey’s Supreme Court which continues to reverberate around the country. The verdict of the 10th Civil Chamber of the Supreme Court of Appeals at the end of 2021 recognized the right of a surviving family to be compensated for the death of a loved one caused by occupational exposure to asbestos. This decision took a decade to achieve and necessitated legal proceedings in multiple courts due to a fierce battle by state bodies and former employers to avoid liability. Although the full opinion of the Court has not yet been made public, the family of the deceased is now progressing a claim for 250,000 liras (~US$18,000) against the Social Security Institution [Sosyal Güvenlik Kurumu (SGK)] and Turkish Maritime Enterprises for material and moral damages. [Read full article]
 

Spotlight on Johnson and Johnson

Feb 14, 2022

Condemned by global activists, challenged by ethical investors and under increasing scrutiny by US politicians, and the global media, the new year did not start well for US pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson. Concerns have continued to grow over the fate of tens of thousands of claims from dying plaintiffs who alleged that their cancers were caused by use of the company’s asbestos-tainted talc-based baby powder. Financial machinations by J&J’s lawyers have succeeded in temporarily freezing all litigation. A proposed resolution for the upcoming AGM which condemns continued sales of the toxic powder outside of North America will give J&J shareholders the opportunity to force a U-turn on a racist policy which is bringing the company’s name into disrepute. [Read full article]
 

US Asbestos Panorama 2022

Feb 9, 2022

More than thirty years after asbestos stakeholders succeeded in overturning the US Asbestos Ban and Phase-out Rule it seems that the planets may once again be aligning for action to be taken on a problem that has caused more than a million cases of debilitating injuries and deaths in the US. With falling domestic consumption, the signing of an international agreement, ongoing public consultation over the country’s use and misuse of asbestos and an administration pledged to “create clean, healthy, and resilient communities,” advance “environmental justice and equity,” and prioritize “the purchase of sustainable products,” there may finally be grounds for optimism. [Read full article]