News Item Archive

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Displaying first 25 items in reverse date order (default)

Time to Ban Asbestos!

May 23, 2022

On May 4, 2022, the UN Global Compact in Ukraine – a UN initiative that brings together business, investors, civil society, labor organizations, local and federal governments to pursue Sustainable Development Goals – called on the Parliament to ban the use of all types of asbestos and products containing them. Ukraine had prohibited asbestos in 2017, only for the ban to be reversed after pressure from vested interests. A bill going through Parliament, which was approved on its first reading, will ban asbestos in line with EU legislation. See: Верховну Раду закликають заборонити азбест та запустити циркулярну економіку задля відновлення України [We call on the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine to ban asbestos and launch a circular economy to restore Ukraine].

Asbestos Alert in China

May 23, 2022

Scientific findings published online on May 19, 2022 by researchers from China and Australia highlighted the dreadful consequences of toxic exposures in these countries, noting that asbestos caused the largest number of work-related lung cancer deaths in both. The co-authors of the paper cited below warned that: “the continued use of certain types of asbestos [in China] and the lack of health education on occupational carcinogen may further increase LCM [lung cancer mortality] burden attributable to occupational exposure. See: Age-period-cohort analysis of lung cancer mortality in China and Australia from 1990 to 2019.

Asbestos Ban Bill

May 23 2022

A May 18, 2022, press release by U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley, who represents the state of Oregon, announced the tabling of Congressional legislation to prohibit the manufacture, processing, use, and distribution in commerce of all types of commercial asbestos. In his statement, the Senator said: “We’ve known for generations that asbestos is lethal… Other developed nations have already acted to protect their citizens from this deadly substance by banning asbestos. Why has America not done the same?” See: Merkley, Bonamici Introduce Bicameral Legislation to Ban Asbestos and Save Lives.

Another Asbestos Death in Quebec

May 23, 2022

A feature article in the May 20, 2022 edition of the Montreal Journal – the French-language tabloid newspaper with the largest circulation of any newspaper in Quebec – related the story of asbestos widow Linda Grandmont, whose husband Réal Truchon had died aged 64 in 2020 due to asbestos exposure experienced whilst employed at the Canadian public broadcasting corporation: Radio-Canada. Mr. Truchon was a lighting technician, lighting designer and technical instructor for the broadcaster; he died of the asbestos cancer mesothelioma. See: Son mari tué par l’amiante de Radio-Canada [Lighting designer dies after being exposed to deadly fibers in former public broadcaster tower].

MP Calls for Plans to Remove Asbestos

May 23, 2022

A commentary uploaded on May 20, 2022 to a Labour Party website by MP Ian Lavery – Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Asbestos Sub-Group – called for the implementation of a program to remove asbestos material from the national infrastructure to protect the lives of working people. Referencing labour gains in recent local elections, Lavery called on councils to make asbestos removal a priority issue. “Labour councils,” he wrote “need investment and backing from the government to carry out this big job… in the fastest possible timeframe, because for thousands of working people it’s a matter of life or death.” See: Asbestos is a matter of life and death for working people. We need urgent removal.

Asbestos Compensation Scheme Update

May 23, 2022

On May 17, 2022, a bill to overhaul the compensation system for asbestos victims in Belgium was debated in the Parliamentary Social Affairs Committee. Draft legislation would introduce the concept of the “polluter pays” so that companies which had exposed workers to asbestos would be obliged to pay compensation directly. In addition, under the new system, asbestos victims could accept compensation from the national fund and also instigate a lawsuit against negligent employers, something which is now forbidden. See: L'indemnisation des victimes de l'amiante fait débat à la Chambre [Compensation for asbestos victims is debated in the House].

America’s Toxic Industrial Legacy

May 18, 2022

The investigative piece cited below explored in some depth the deadly consequences of employment in tire-industry jobs in the heartland of the USA. A cocktail of deadly exposures was part of the workplace experience of employees at the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. factory in Akron, Ohio. Amongst the most toxic materials used in the workplace were asbestos and benzene. According to veteran asbestos litigator Thomas W. Bevan, in the beginning Goodyear denied using asbestos, saying: “We’re a tire company; we don’t use asbestos!” despite the fact they had an asbestos department at the plant. See: It was the Rubber Capital of the World. The health consequences linger.

Parliament Debates Compensation Fund

May 18, 2022

On May 18, 2022, discussions began in the Work, Inclusion, Social Security and Migration Committee of the Spanish Parliament about amendments to draft legislation submitted by the Basque Parliament to establish a national asbestos compensation fund. Victims’ supporters are concerned that the socialist group and Minister José Luis Escrivá will seek to limit financing. According to campaigners, the Socialist Parliamentary Group intends to curtail the independence and financial resources allocated for the new fund. See: Las víctimas del amianto temen que el PSOE haga caer el fondo de compensación que les prometieron [Asbestos victims fear that the PSOE will drop the compensation fund they were promised].

Asbestos in Schools

May 18, 2022

Officials in the Department of Education in South Korea’s Gyeongbuk Province announced on May 17, 2022 that work to remove asbestos from schools in the district will be completed in 2025; the original deadline had been 2027, but due to the danger to students and staff posed by the presence of asbestos material in the schools, remediation work had been made a priority. In 2022, decontamination work is being carried out in 112 schools; to minimize toxic exposures to the children, the work will be undertaken during the summer and winter vacations. See: 경북교육청, 학교 석면 제거 2년 앞당겨 완료 예정 [Gyeongbuk Office of Education to complete school asbestos removal two years earlier].

Mesothelioma: Causes, Care, Compensation

May 18, 2022

An article about the causation, symptoms and treatment of pleural mesothelioma on a French news portal highlighted the high incidence of this signature asbestos cancer amongst men who’d been employed in the construction sector, 97% of whom could pinpoint workplace exposures to asbestos-containing building products. New protocols for patients with mesothelioma involve intravenous immunotherapy treatment which can prolong life by 18 months. To access compensation from a government scheme (FIVA), mesothelioma claimants must have been occupationally exposed to asbestos. The majority of mesothelioma patients do not apply to FIVA. See: Cancer: le mésothéliome mieux identifié [Cancer: better identified mesothelioma].

Asbestos Eradication Program: Too Slow!

May 18, 2022

The eradication of asbestos contamination in Italy’s built environment is not going to plan, with only 25% of the toxic material removed despite the availability of government funds specifically earmarked for this work. Eight million euros (US$8.4m) remain unspent in a fund set up under article 56 of law 221 of 2015 to cover the cost of asbestos removal from public buildings. According to the article cited below, there are more than 50,744 public buildings in Italy which still have asbestos roofs. See: Il problema dell’amianto in Italia è ancora lontano dall’essere risolto [The asbestos problem in Italy is still far from being solved].

Support for At-Risk Populations

May 18, 2022

Changes were announced this week in the management of an asbestos outreach project in South Korea’s Chungnam Province. The formerly privately-run project – called the asbestos victims’ health care initiative – has been put into the hands of a public institution: the Hongseong Medical Center. Services available to participants and their families include: home visits, health check-ups, psychological counselling and symptom management training. Asbestos, a known carcinogen, was widely used in Korea in building products, soundproofing material, textiles, automotive parts and shipbuilding. See: 충남 석면피해자, 홍성의료원서 집중 관리 [Intensive management of asbestos victims in Chungcheongnam-do, Hongseong Medical Center].

Asbestos Hazard: Ecological Update

May 16, 2022

A blog uploaded last week by Ukrainian Parliamentarian, ecologist and economist Elena Krivoruchkina highlighted the deadly legacy posed by the asbestos used to construct the country’s built environment in light of the widespread destruction caused by Russia’s attack on the country. The author noted that on the first reading in Parliament in February 2021. the bill to ban asbestos was approved; it has not yet been finalized. She categorized Russia’s destruction of Ukraine not only as a war crime but also an eco-crime in light of the hazard posed to human beings by the liberation of asbestos fibers from damaged structures. See: Азбестова бомба уповільненої дії: війна та радянський будівельний спадок [Slow-motion asbestos bomb: war and the Soviet construction legacy].

Glimmer of Hope for J&J Victims

May 16, 2022

On May 11, 2022, the Third U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals announced plans to reconsider contentious measures implemented by the American pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson (J&J) to put into bankruptcy a purpose-built subsidiary in order to freeze almost 40,000 cancer claims against the parent company. The litigation put on hold concerned the sale of talc-based baby powder containing asbestos fibers to American consumers. The appeal will revaluate a February 2022 ruling by Judge Michael Kaplan from a federal bankruptcy court in Trenton, New Jersey. See: Not so fast on Johnson & Johnson's Texas Two-Step strategy as appeals court says it'll take another look.

Legal Victory for Naval Officers

May 16, 2022

On May 13, 2022, the Council of State (France) rejected an appeal by the Ministry of Armed Forces to void a judgment awarding former Naval personnel compensation for occupational asbestos exposures. The State was ordered to pay each of the 17 claimants the sum of €3,000 (US$3,125) for “moral damages” under article L.761-1 of the code of administrative justice. The case had first been heard by the administrative court of Rennes in June 2019, with the administrative court of appeal of Rennes subsequently confirming the victims’ verdict in January 2021. See: Amiante: l’État devra indemniser d’anciens officiers mariniers [Asbestos: the State will have to compensate former petty officers].

Asbestos in the Built Environment

May 16, 2022

A report just released by the Labour Research Department, on behalf of the Trades Union Congress and the all-party parliamentary group on occupational safety and health, revealed that of 31 local authorities contacted only one had completely removed asbestos from all its buildings. Commenting on these findings, MP Ian Lavery, Chair of the parliamentary group said: “The government must provide local councils with enough funding, with an aim to make all public buildings asbestos-free.” See: Thousands of local authority buildings in England still contain deadly asbestos — more than two decades after its use was banned in Britain.

Compensation for Welder’s Family

May 16, 2022

On May 6, 2022. a labor judge in the town of Massa, central Italy ordered the employer of a deceased welder to pay compensation of €1,146,296 (US$1.2m) to his family. The worker, who died from the asbestos cancer mesothelioma, had been employed by the Nuovo Pignone company at its Massa plant from 1965 to 1986 during which time he was routinely exposed to asbestos “to an extent exceeding the regulatory limit.” The judge dismissed arguments advanced by the company’s lawyers claiming working conditions were within permissible exposure limits and that the deceased had been a smoker. See: Amianto: Morte di un Operaio Saldatore, Nuovo Pignone Condannato a Risarcire oltre un Milione alla Famiglia [Asbestos: Death of a Welder, Company Sentenced to Pay over a Million to the Family].

Claimants’ Verdict in Rouen

May 16, 2022

On May 10, 2022, the French department of Seine-Maritime was found guilty by a Rouen court of having exposed four employees to asbestos; damages of €3,000 (US$3125) were awarded to each of the claimants. From April 14 to 17, 2015, the claimants had “regularly picked up … dust containing asbestos without any protective equipment” whilst employed on a river vessel. When asked if the judgment would be appealed, a spokesperson for Seine-Maritime said it was “still too early … to give an answer on if it will appeal or not.” See: Amiante: le département de Seine-Maritime condamné [Asbestos: the department of Seine-Maritime condemned].

Moving Towards an Asbestos Ban in Asia!

May 13, 2022

The Good Practice Guidance for the Management and Control of Asbestos: Protecting Workplaces and Communities from Asbestos Exposure Risks released by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) is widely regarded as confirmation of the Bank’s commitment to honoring its promise to outlaw the use of asbestos in all projects funded by the ABD. During the launch of the document last month (April 2022), the ADB Director of Safeguards Bruce Dunn indicated that the ban would be announced in March 2023. Until then, the ADB has warned staff to avoid the use of asbestos-containing materials in existing and new procurement. See: Asia Development Bank one step closer to asbestos ban.

Progress in Avaré!

May 13, 2022

In what is being termed a “historic victory for public health,” the Municipal Department of the Environment in the Brazilian city of Avaré oversaw efforts to remove 400 tonnes of asbestos waste which had been lingering for years on a public highway. The toxic material had been dumped by the company Auco Automotive Components. The site was remediated and the waste was sent to an authorized Waste Management Center in Guatapará. See: Amianto abandonado há anos é retirado por ação da Prefeitura de Avaré [Asbestos abandoned for years is removed by action of the City Hall of Avaré].

Asbestos at the Museum

May 13, 2022

A very popular tourist destination in Brussels, the Institute of Natural Sciences, is grappling with the discovery earlier this year of asbestos contamination, according to an announcement by museum officials who revealed that asbestos fibers had been found in the Institute’s ventilation ducts. On March 23, 2022, officials said that the contamination affected “the offices, laboratories and collections part of our Institute.” A working group is preparing a feasibility study exploring options such as remediation, renovation and demolition. See: L'amiante aura-t-il la peau d'une partie de l'Institut des sciences naturelles à Bruxelles? [Will asbestos take over part of the Institute of Natural Sciences in Brussels?].

Official: 25% Rise in Asbestos Mortality

May 13, 2022

Data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has been released which confirmed that over the last 20 years there has been a 25% increase in the number of women dying in the U.S. from the signature asbestos cancer, mesothelioma. Between,1999 to 2020, 12,227 females aged 25 and up died from mesothelioma; the majority were older than 55. The states with the highest female mesothelioma death rates were: Louisiana, Maine, Minnesota, Montana, Oregon, Washington, and Wisconsin, according to a report in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report
See: CDC: Mesothelioma Deaths Up Among Women.

Holding Asbestos Defendants to Account

May 11, 2022

At a May 9 Tokyo press conference, it was announced that a group of asbestos-injured construction workers are launching a class action lawsuit in June 2022 against manufacturers of asbestos-containing building products. In May 2021, the Supreme Court had ordered that the Japanese Government pay compensation for having failed to act, as a result of which construction workers were hazardously exposed to asbestos; the Government has set up a scheme to pay compensation. Although, courts have ruled that manufacturers were also negligent, these defendants have yet to pay compensation to the injured. See: 建設アスベスト被害 建材メーカーに賠償求め各地で一斉提訴へ [Construction workers seek compensation from building material manufacturers].

Colorectal Death Caused by Asbestos

May 11, 2022

Last week, a Brazilian Labor Court issued a victim’s verdict awarding the family of a deceased worker the sum of R$500,000 (US$97,200) for his cancer death. Judge Celso Araujo Casseb, from the 5th Labor Court of Osasco/São Paulo, ruled that there was no question about the link between the worker’s occupational exposure to asbestos and the fact that he had died from colorectal cancer. The appeal lodged by Eternit, the defendant, was rejected, with the Judge noting that the death had caused “moral damages to his family members…” See: Eternit pagará R$500 mil a filhos de trabalhador morto por amianto [Eternit will pay R$500,000 to children of worker killed by asbestos].

Mesothelioma: New Drug Treatment

May 11, 2022

A treatment for mesothelioma (the signature cancer associated with asbestos exposure) which is being progressed in the UK can prolong the life of sufferers by slowing down the growth of tumors, according to data from a new trial centered around the use of a new drug called: abemaciclib. This protocol was used with some success to treat patients who had not been responding to chemotherapy or immunotherapy drugs. The patients on the clinical trial experienced few “serious side effects and were also less dependent on pain medication as a result of the treatment.” See: New treatment offers hope for asbestos cancer patients [with the same disease] that took the life of Sex Pistols manager Malcolm McLaren.