Article Abstracts Archive

To obtain a subset of abstracts select a country, region or year:

    Country    Region    Year       

Alternatively, click All abstracts for the complete list

Displaying first 25 items in reverse date order (default)

Historic Victory for Belgian Asbestos Victims

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]

Taking the Ban Asbestos Fight to Brasilia 2023

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]

Asbestos Cement: The Evidence is Irrefutable

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]

Press Release: Asbestos Victims Worldwide Call for Action by Brazil’s Supreme Court

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]

Our Friend Mavis

Nov 24, 2023

Mavis Nye was a fighter. She fought to save her own life and that of people in the UK and abroad, many of whom she never met. From the moment she was diagnosed with mesothelioma, she refused to accept the inevitability of short post-diagnosis survival typically predicted for mesothelioma patients. When the news of her death was reported, social media was awash with comments and condolences from asbestos victims, campaigners, occupational safety and health activists, barristers, solicitors, medical practitioners, scientists, technical experts, asbestos removal specialists and others. The outpouring of emotion from such a range of people not only reflected the impact of her work but also showed the depth of loss experienced by those of us lucky enough to have known Mavis. [Read full article]

Two Decades After Australia Banned Asbestos

Nov 22, 2023

Despite the fact that asbestos use was prohibited in Australia in 2003, the asbestos hazard poses a grave risk to human life. As Australians mark the 20th anniversary of the ban at country-wide events between November 21and 26, 2023 – Asbestos Awareness Week – thousands continue to die every year from asbestos-related diseases and toxic exposures remain all too common. As Melita Markey of the Asbestos Diseases Society of Australia (ADSA) told us: “Currently, there is no priority in any Australian public health or industrial diseases strategy to develop lifesaving treatments for asbestos and dust diseases sufferers.” The ADSA and its trade union partners are calling on the Government to fund research into occupational diseases “as an immediate public health priority.” [Read full article]

What’s Going on at Brazil’s Supreme Court?

Nov 13, 2023

Brazilian asbestos victims are used to waiting for their day in court, with many claimants dying before their cases are adjudicated. In tandem with the long struggle for personal justice is the national quest for eliminating the causes of these injuries: the mining, processing and use of asbestos. It was, therefore, a cause of grave concern to campaigners when a scheduled decision of the Supreme Court, due at the beginning of November, was inexplicably and indefinitely postponed. With the Court having previously ruled that the commercial exploitation of asbestos was banned throughout the country (2017), the only issue left to resolve was when mining would cease. In the legal vacuum created by this postponement, asbestos production will continue. [Read full article]

Cambodia Asbestos Ban by 2025!

Nov 7, 2023

Last week in Phnom Penh, officials from the Cambodian Government confirmed plans to end asbestos use by 2025 at a high-profile workshop organized by the Cambodian Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training and Australia’s Union Aid Abroad. Participating in the meeting were representatives of 11 Ministries, employer organisations, trade unions and civil society groups. International as well as Cambodian speakers explored the need for mandatory protocols to protect workers and members of the public from potentially deadly exposures to toxic products such as asbestos-cement roofing material which has been widely used throughout the country. [Read full article]

Corporate Happy Endings, Human Heartbreak

Oct 31, 2023

It seems that asbestos corporations from around the world are rising from the ashes of their crimes to, once again, become the lauded creators of employment opportunities and generators of national income streams. Their manipulation of financial strategies and off-loading of asbestos liabilities have enabled companies like Eternit S.A. (Brazil), Cape (UK) and Saint-Gobain (France) to shrug off as minor inconveniences the damage done as a result of historic corporate policies. Whilst shareholders and executives bask in the glow of robust corporate balance sheets, asbestos victims and their families face years of ill-health and premature death. Asbestos victims’ groups, workers’ collectives, trade unions and legal experts remain united in their determination to hold these guilty companies to account. [Read full article]

It’s Official: Asbestos Use Banned in Ukraine

Oct 25, 2023

On October 1, 2023, legislation banning asbestos use and providing safeguards to protect Ukrainians from deadly workplace exposures came into effect. The asbestos prohibitions were stipulated in Article 28, provision 3 of the law outlining the revised constitution of Ukraine’s Public Health System. The implementation of laws which brought Ukraine into harmony with EU Member States was accomplished despite fierce opposition from the country’s asbestos-producing neighbors: Russia & Kazakhstan. Commenting on this news Welsh Parliamentarian Mick Antoniw, himself of Ukrainian descent, said: “The fact that this has been achieved during a time when the country has been at war with Russia makes this accomplishment all the more extraordinary.” [Read full article]

Opposition to Asbestos Use Accelerates – Even in China

Oct 11, 2023

Work-related deaths now account for one million fatalities every year; this figure is expected to double by 2030. Last year the International Labor Organization recognized that a safe and healthy working environment was a fundamental human right; a high-level declaration adopted in September 2023 at an international conference in Germany acknowledged that pollution was the world’s largest risk factor for disease and premature death. Pursuant to these developments, optimism is building that efforts to adopt a Biological Hazards Convention by 2027 will succeed. Toughening up chemical safety protocols will no doubt hasten calls to outlaw the use of the world’s worst occupational killer: asbestos. [Read full article]

Global Asbestos Trade 2023: Spotlight on India

Sep 28, 2023

The release in August 2023 of updated asbestos trade data provided food for thought. While much seems to have changed since I first began studying the industry over 30 years ago – including the dwindling number of countries producing and consuming asbestos – the fact that 1,330,000 metric tons (t) are still being used every year, despite all that is known about the asbestos hazard, is appalling. Amongst the points of interest noted in the new data were: India remained the world’s biggest asbestos user, importing 424,000t in 2022; just five countries accounted for 85% of all asbestos consumed worldwide; apparent domestic consumption in Russia jumped by nearly 60% from 2021 to 2022. [Read full article]

Asbestos Anomalies 2023

Sep 26, 2023

There are a few of us, people who see the world through an asbestos filter. People like me who go to a tourist destination in Western Australia to gawp at the deteriorating asbestos-cement roofing on the outbuildings of a defunct whaling station; or someone like Fernanda Giannasi who zeroed in on a display case containing an asbestos hood for firefighters at the Museum of Japanese Immigration in São Paulo; or Mark Ogden who gave an asbestos masterclass to the unsuspecting museum chairman of a facility housing military memorabilia. For members of this select tribe, I would like to draw your attention to a few curious developments that have piqued my interest over recent months. [Read full article]

Global Cancer Increase and the Asbestos Hazard

Sep 20, 2023

The world is experiencing an explosion of cancers in younger people. Whilst “dietary risk factors (diet high in red meat, low in fruits, high in sodium and low in milk, etc), alcohol consumption and tobacco use” were postulated as the main risk factors, human exposures to cancer-causing asbestos should not be overlooked. Many of the people in the age 50 and under cohort now presenting with cancer were born in the 1970s and 1980s, decades during which the global use of asbestos was at its highest. According to the World Health Organization, exposure to: “all types of asbestos cause lung cancer, mesothelioma, cancer of the larynx and ovary, and asbestosis (fibrosis of the lungs).” [Read full article]

Multinational Campaign Denounces “Sportswashing”

Sep 12, 2023

On September 8, French asbestos victims endorsed action by their British counterparts demonstrating outside the Stade de France, Paris to denounce “sportswashing” of asbestos crimes by a multinational corporation headquartered in Montpelier, France. Solidarity with the protest was expressed in a press release by asbestos victims’ groups and campaigners in Latin America, Asia, Europe and Oceania, with Sugio Furuya, Coordinator of the Asian Ban Asbestos Network, saying: “Asbestos victims around the world have paid a high price for the profits made by asbestos companies. It is only right that some of the accumulated wealth be used for the benefit of those whose lives have been irreparably damaged by the immoral activities of Cape and others who prioritized corporate profits over human life.” [Read full article]

Press Release: Victims Denounce “Sportswashing,” Demanding Corporate Accountability

Sep 8 2023

A global alliance of asbestos victims’ groups and civil society campaigners from Asia, Oceania, Latin America and Europe today issued a formal declaration of solidarity with British and French asbestos victims’ groups calling for restitution by the Cape Asbestos Company, a former asbestos multinational. Instead of acceding to a request for a £10 million donation for potentially life-saving medical research into asbestos-related diseases, Cape’s parent company is sponsoring two rugby teams competing in the Rugby World Cup 2023. Coordinator of the Asian Ban Asbestos Network Sugio Furuya said: “It is only right that some of the accumulated wealth be used for the benefit of those whose lives have been irreparably damaged by the immoral activities of Cape and others who prioritized corporate profits over human life.” [Read full article]

Threat to New School Term after 13 Years of Tory Misrule

Sep 5, 2023

During the summer school holiday, news began circulating of a troubling situation in UK schools and public buildings. By the time children were getting ready for the new school year, the “situation” had become a full blown crisis as news spread that more than a hundred schools would not reopen due to the hazard posed by deteriorating reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete material. Considering the fact that the majority of schools still contain asbestos, the surveying work and remediation of affected structures will be both a long and expensive process. The Conservatives had plenty of warnings about the deterioration of the educational infrastructure; they chose not to listen. Unfortunately, it will be the children and teachers who will pay the price for their political complacency and maladministration. [Read full article]

A Very Long Wait for Brazilian Justice

Aug 24, 2023

Ten years after a Brazilian court upheld a complaint over a defamatory campaign targeting Senior Labor Inspector Fernanda Giannasi, the latest appeal by one of the defendants was dismissed. Commenting on this ruling, Fernanda Giannasi said: “This legal action was about reclaiming my dignity, honor and reputation in the face of the outrageous denunciations made by the defendants who stated that I had behaved in a way that was ‘illegal,’ ‘irresponsible,’ ‘authoritarian’ and ‘reckless.’” In the court of public opinion, the probity of this Brazilian activist was never in any doubt; nevertheless, it is reassuring to see that São Paulo Courts agree, even if they took ten years to do so. [Read full article]

Asbestos Roulette: Who’s Next?

Aug 22, 2023

Neither King Charles III, Canadian Prime Ministers Jean Chrétien and Stephen Harper and their families, President Donald Trump and his family, Harvard undergrad Matthew Walker, British MP Alice Mahon, Spanish TV star José María Íñigo, European Commission official Arnaldo Lucaccioni nor Israeli politician Tania Mazarsky were protected. All of them lived or worked in buildings riddled with asbestos. Three of them, Alice Mahon, José María Íñigo and Arnaldo Lucaccioni, paid the ultimate price for their exposures; as for the others, only time will tell. [Read full article]

Commentary – The Death of Journalism

Aug 15, 2023

On August 11, 2023, I learned of the death of the American investigative reporter Paul Brodeur. I had met him briefly many years ago when he had become something of a celebrity for his crusading work on asbestos and other workplace and environmental scandals. Asked about Paul’s legacy, Professor David Rosner from Columbia University said: “Paul’s work literally made the difference in tens of thousands of lives. Paul was the person that made a nation aware of the ways a corrupt industry was secretly killing us. While the battle to control asbestos-related diseases continues there is no doubt that his work led to the elimination of asbestos from thousands of products in our environment and the continuing efforts to hold a deadly industry to account for its misdeeds. We owe him our lives.” [Read full article]

The Demise of the Asbestos Industry: 2023 Update

Aug 10, 2023

According to the United States Geological Survey, between the 1980s – the global asbestos heyday – and 2021, annual production fell by 73% from 4,811,942 tonnes (t) to 1,300,000t/year. With dozens of countries banning all use of this Group 1 carcinogen and others choosing to use safer substances, asbestos markets continue to shrink. There is no question that even in the most tightly controlled regimes, knowledge about the links between human asbestos exposures and the occurrence of cancers and respiratory diseases has leaked out. Over recent weeks, multiple alerts have circulated via news outlets in Russia, Kazakhstan and China warning citizens about the asbestos hazard and advising them to minimize their exposures. [Read full article]

Saturday in São Caetano do Sul

Aug 8, 2023

São Caetano do Sul, a city in the Brazilian state of São Paulo, is a cancer hotspot as a result of a long industrial history of asbestos production. Brazil’s first asbestos-cement manufacturing facility was built in this city in 1937; under the ownership of the French multinational Saint Gobain, the plant simultaneously produced a range of asbestos-cement building material as well as generations of asbestos victims. Although it was closed in 1990, the number of victims continues to grow. On Saturday, July 29, 2023, a one-day workshop was held in the city’s council chamber for members of the Brazilian Association of the Asbestos-Exposed (ABREA) to provide updates on medical, legal, political and technical issues and the opportunity for ABREA members to voice concerns regarding a variety of subjects. [Read full article]

Inaugural Award for Outstanding Service to Asbestos Victims!

Jul 31, 2023

A coalition of activists represented by the International Ban Asbestos Secretariat (IBAS), the Brazilian Association of the Asbestos-Exposed (ABREA), the Asian Ban Asbestos Network and the Indonesian Ban Asbestos Network today congratulate Dr. Ubiratan de Paula Santos, the recipient of the first IBAS Award for Outstanding Service to Asbestos Victims. Dr. Ubiratan is a man of great compassion and empathy as well as a highly experienced pneumologist who has, in collaboration with ABREA members, revolutionized the treatment of asbestos victims by developing publicly-funded clinics and medical protocols which deliver state-of-the-art healthcare to asbestos-exposed workers. [Read full article]

Australia Did It, So Did Japan, Belgium and Brazil, Can Britain Do It Too?

July 27, 2023

Throughout the 20th and 21st centuries, asbestos companies committed unpardonable crimes. Their actions have resulted in millions of deaths worldwide. While some of the guilty parties have been held to account by national governments, criminal justice systems and civil litigants, it is rare that any of the wrong-doers have made restitution by supporting potentially life-saving medical research into the cancers and diseases caused by asbestos exposures. In Australia, Japan, Belgium and Brazil, however, successes have been achieved; optimism is building that a current campaign by UK asbestos victims will also secure vital funding. Read on. [Read full article]

A Dozen Famous & Infamous Figures and their Surprising Links to Asbestos

Jul 24, 2023

During the 30+ years that I have been involved in researching and writing about asbestos issues, I have come across many curious asbestos connections of well-known people. The individuals listed in this article include a major literary figure of the 20th century, a Hollywood superstar, an Australian icon, the Brazilian “Oprah Winfrey,” two former Presidents, a punk rocker, two Parliamentarians, a Rear Admiral and a medical doctor-politician-asbestos entrepreneur. Can you guess their names? [Read full article]