News Item Archive
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Displaying first 25 items in reverse date order (default)
Experts Support Asbestos Ban
Oct 6, 2015
Brazil’s School of Public Health and the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation, the most prominent science and technology health institution in Latin America, have jointly criticized Decree no. 1287 of the Ministry of Labor and Employment (September 30, 2015) which constitutes a commission to discuss “the safe use of asbestos.” These revered bodies call for “the immediate repeal” of the Decree because of the deadly hazard posed to Brazilians by the continued production and use of asbestos. See: Escola é contrária à portaria que institui Comissão Especial para Debater o Uso do Amianto no Brasil [School Criticizes Brazilian Decree Establishing Special Asbestos Committee].
European Asbestos Cancer Data
Oct 5, 2015
Scientists have updated lung and pleural cancer survival patterns and time trends in 28 European countries. Relative survival for lung cancer was 39% and 13% at one and five years, respectively. Four per cent of the cases recorded were pleural cancers, of which most (83%) were mesotheliomas. The authors found that survival times decreased with advancing age at time of diagnosis. Recommendations made included banning asbestos, improving treatment access and implementing measures to allow early diagnosis. See: Survival patterns in lung and pleural cancer in Europe 1999-2007: Results from the EUROCARE-5 study.
Asbestos Charges Upheld
Oct 6, 2015
A preliminary hearings judge has confirmed charges related to the asbestos deaths of 14 workers from Olivetti’s Turin factory against 17 former executives, including Italy’s former transport minister Corrado Passera, former Alitalia President Roberto Colaninno, businessmen Carlo De Benedetti. The deceased were employed at the Ivrea factory from the 1960s until the 1990s in assembly or maintenance jobs; they died between 2003 and 2013. The first hearing in the trial will take place on November 23 with the second scheduled for January 11, 2016. See: Passera among 17 indicted for Olivetti asbestos deaths.
Turkey’s Asbestos Cancer Epidemic
Oct 5, 2015
A poster presented at the 25th International Congress of the European Respiratory Society in Amsterdam last week entitled: Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma: Current Status and Future Projections in Turkey, by Dr. Salih Emri at al, highlighted the epidemic of the asbestos cancer, mesothelioma in several Turkish villages which is largely due to environmental exposures to tremolite asbestos and erionite. The authors expressed concern about a future wave of asbestos-related diseases caused by exposures at workplaces and in urban areas where redevelopment work is being carried out. See: Poster – Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma: Current Status and Future Projections in Turkey.
Illegal Work and Dumping in Sydney
Oct 5, 2015
A feature article published last week investigated allegations that asbestos waste removed by workers for WestConnex, one of the biggest infrastructure projects in New South Wales, was being illegally dumped at a landfill site in Western Sydney. Members of the WestConnex Action Group, concerned about the environmental hazards being created by the failure of WestConnex employees to comply with asbestos regulations, mounted another protest over the weekend. Previously they reported multiple breaches of the asbestos regulations to state and local authorities which are jointly responsible for the site. See: WestConnex's Asbestos Problem.
Asbestos in Military Helicopters
Oct 5, 2015
Charges of culpable disaster are to be brought by Turin prosecutors against former directors of the helicopter multinational AgustaWestland and the Italian company Piaggio Aerospace. This week questioning will begin of fifty witnesses subpoenaed to explain why no warnings were given to the authorities about the illegal presence of asbestos in helicopters supplied to the armed forces and police. Those to be questioned include senior executives. See: “Amianto sugli elicotteri delle forze armate”: inchiesta a Torino, emessi 55 avvisi garanzia [“Armed forces’ asbestos helicopters”: investigation in Turin, 55 alert warrants issued].
Doctors Condemn Ministry Actions
Oct 3, 2015
The Associação Nacional de Medicina do Trabalho (ANAMT) [National Association of Occupational Medicine], representing 10,000+ doctors, has condemned Decree no. 1287 issued on September 30, 2015 by the Ministry of Labor and Employment (MTE) which aims to prolong the continued use of asbestos in Brazil by setting up an asbestos commission to discuss “the safe use of asbestos.” Highlighting the ethical duty doctors have to protect human health, the ANAMT could not, stay silent in the face of this “political and bureaucratic aberration.” See: Portaria absurda do MTE é favorável ao uso seguro do Amianto [Absurd order of the MTE is favorable to the safe use of asbestos].
Italy’s Asbestos Cancer Epidemic
Oct 2, 2015
Italy’s Observatory on Asbestos (Ona) has released statistics which record 4,500 cases of the asbestos cancer, mesothelioma over the three year period 2009 to 2011; the number of cases rose from 1,480 in 2009 to 1,524 in 2011. A total of 20,600+ cases occurred between 1993 and 2011. Commenting on the new data, an Ona spokesman said: “The trend of mesothelioma is increasing and it is only the tip of the iceberg considering that cases of lung cancer are at least twice [as many] and that asbestos also causes other cancers (larynx, ovary, gastrointestinal tract, etc.) and asbestosis…” See: Amianto, Ona: 4.500 casi di mesotelioma in 3 anni [Asbestos, Ona: 4,500 cases of mesothelioma in 3 years].
Asbestos Diagnosis Camp
Sep 30, 2015
On September 24, 2015, a diagnosis camp was set up by the Occupational Health and Safety Center at the Kolkata premises of the Kamal Tiwari trade union. This site was across the street from the Everest Industries asbestos factory. The manufacture of asbestos-cement construction products started there in 1938 under the ownership of the British company T&N Ltd. Fifteen workers and/or former workers were screened by Dr. V. Murlidhar and his medical team; four were diagnosed with asbestosis. Claims for these injuries will be made against the T&N Trust; claims for two other similarly affected workers from this factory have succeeded. See: Photo of workers being interviewed by medical team.
Court Supports At-Risk Workers
Sep 30, 2015
An injunction upheld on Sunday, September 27, 2015 by the 6th Labour Court of Campinas, a Brazilian municipality in São Paulo State, outlawed the practice whereby trade unions accepted financial support from asbestos industry employers on the grounds that by doing so the unions compromised their ability to represent members. The civil action by the Ministry of Labor argued that this funding and other practices could adversely affect the health of asbestos-exposed workers. See: MPT consegue liminar em ação contra entidades ligadas à cadeia do Amianto [Ministry of Labor injunction stopping asbestos industry funding of trade union upheld by Court].
Mesothelioma Legal Action Extension
Sep 29, 2015
On September 28, 2015, the Government of Gibraltar published a Bill to amend the Limitation Act as a result of which people with mesothelioma caused by occupational exposure to asbestos whilst employed by the Crown will be allowed to bring legal proceedings even if the prescribed deadline has elapsed. Although global asbestos trade data shows zero asbestos consumption in Gibraltar over recent years, it is not known whether the use of asbestos has been banned. Enquiries are in progress to ascertain whether asbestos is banned. See: Govt open to challenge on cases of child abuse and mesothelioma.
Eternit’s Global Asbestos Tentacles
Sep 28, 2015
An analysis of the business interests of former asbestos billionaire Stephen Schmidheiny, uploaded to the Italian webzine Carmilla last week, framed a discussion of the fallout from current asbestos-consuming operations by the Eternit Group, at one time owned by the Schmidheiny family, within a global context. The feature contrasted the strict prohibitions on hazardous exposures in countries which have banned asbestos with the daily exposures experienced in non-ban countries such as Mexico and Brazil. See: Il filo rosso dell’amianto e di Stephen Schmidheiny tra Italia e America Latina [Stephen Schmidheiny’s red thread of asbestos between Italy and Latin America].
Mesothelioma in Italy: A Consensus
Sep 25, 2015
A report just published details the consensus reached by scientists who convened during a session on mesothelioma which took place at a conference in Italy in January 2015. Of the 3.64 cases of mesothelioma in Italy per 100,000 people (in 2011), 10% were due to non-occupational exposures. Recommendations included: increased cooperation on mesothelioma data collection by cancer registries, regional centers and pathologists; the provision of information on risks and smoking cessation to at-risk individuals. See: III Italian Consensus Conference on Malignant Mesothelioma of the Pleura. Epidemiology, Public Health and Occupational Medicine related issues.
Roadmap to Phase-out Asbestos Use
Sep 25, 2015
An asbestos workshop was held in Hanoi on September 22, 2015 by the Vietnam Union of Science and Technology Associations, the Health Ministry’s Environment Health Management Department and the Vietnam Ban Asbestos Network during which speakers discussed various facets of the national asbestos policy and highlighted hazards posed by the continuation of consumption. The Government is now developing a roadmap for the phasing out of asbestos in roofing products by 2020. There are currently more than 40 factories throughout the country manufacturing asbestos roofing material. See: Asbestos in roof sheets still a threat to workers.
Global Asbestos Pandemic
Sep 24, 2015
An editorial by Jukka Takala entitled: Eliminating occupational cancer has just been published in the Journal of Industrial Health. Takala’s text is categorical about the damage done by asbestos exposure, dismissing previous estimates of the number of annual global deaths issued by the WHO, the ILO and others and stating that: “In the European Union the combined number of deaths will amount to 47,000 lung cancer and mesothelioma deaths caused by asbestos (every year). This still misses other work-related cancers, caused by asbestos, such as larynx and ovary, and possibly stomach, colorectal and pharynx cancers.” See: Eliminating occupational cancer.
Workers Win Asbestos Case
Sep 24, 2015
New Zealand’s Employment Relations Authority has ruled that two tradesmen had been unjustifiably constructively dismissed by their employer, building company Goleman Limited, which knew that asbestos contamination had been found at the site where the men had been working – Christchurch Hospital – eight days before informing them. Neil Silcock and Liam Milner resigned from jobs repairing the hospital roof after learning of their hazardous exposures. The company is considering an appeal. According to the men’s lawyer, the failure to provide a safe workplace constituted “a serious breach” of the company’s obligations. See: Employer exposed tradies to asbestos.
Ban Asbestos Debate in Congress?
Sep 23, 2015
A Congressional debate on Colombia’s use of asbestos which was secured by Senator Nadia Blel was postponed yesterday after the failure to attend by the Ministers of Health, Labor, Environment and Industry and Trade. At the hearing were asbestos victims, ban asbestos campaigners, trade unionists and asbestos industry lobbyists. Senator Blel used the occasion to introduce draft legislation calling for a national asbestos ban. The Congressional debate has been rescheduled for October 6. See: Picture taken during asbestos non-debate on September 22, 2015.
Brazilian Firm Outlaws Asbestos
Sep 23, 2015
Cassol Materiais de Construção [Cassol Construction Materials], a major Brazilian building supplies chain has formalized plans for ending the sale of asbestos-containing tiles. In a submission on September 21, 2015 to the Ministry of Labor in Santa Catarina State, the company said protecting workers’ health from the asbestos hazard was its motivation in taking this step. See: Cassol Materiais de Construção, ciente da nocividade do amianto, formaliza a cessação da comercialização de produtos com a substância cancerígena, perante MPT [Cassol Building Materials, aware of the asbestos hazard, formalizes the termination of the marketing of asbestos products with the MPT].
Crimes against Environment and Health
Sep 20, 2015
Remedies to counter the inequality of national legal systems which allows asbestos entrepreneurs to profit from hazardous commercial operations were explored at the meeting of the Positive Economy Forum in Le Havre, France from September 16 to 19, 2015. Delegates heard calls for a change to the Treaty of Rome so that charges could be brought before an international court for crimes against the environment and health. The Italian criminal proceedings against asbestos billionaire Stephan Schmidheiny were discussed. See: Pour un tribunal international des crimes contre l’environnement et la santé [For an international tribunal for crimes against the environment and health].
Asbestos Causes Laryngeal Cancer
Sep 18, 2015
Spain’s Ministry of Employment and Social Security has agreed with social partners to update the list of occupational diseases to include laryngeal cancer caused by inhalation of asbestos dust. This change, which will result in a future Royal Decree, is the result of collaborative efforts by a working group set up to consider the appropriateness of adapting the list in light of new research findings. See: La Seguridad Social incorpora el cáncer de laringe por inhalación de amianto al listado de enfermedades profesionales [Social Security includes laryngeal cancer on list of occupational diseases caused by asbestos].
Action on Asbestos Prevention
Sep 18, 2015
The Secretary of Health of Mogi das Cruzes, a city in São Paulo State, has announced plans to implement a program of health inspections during the week of September 21-25, 2015 to ensure that workers are receiving the protections from hazardous asbestos exposures which are mandatory under São Paulo State Law No. 12.684/2007, which prohibits the use of products, materials or artifacts that contain any type of asbestos, raw asbestos or other minerals containing asbestos fibers in its composition. See: Vigilância Sanitária promove Semana de Combate ao Uso do Amianto [Health Surveillance Program on Asbestos].
Confirmation of Illegal Asbestos Imports
Sep 17, 2015
Despite its asbestos ban, Italy has been importing asbestos-containing products from Asia. Enquiries by customs officials to ascertain the names of Italian recipients of toxic Indian goods have been unproductive and no assistance has been received from officials in India despite requests made by Public Prosecutor Raffaele Guariniello. The discovery of asbestos in 9,000 imported Chinese cars necessitated remedial work, swamping personnel at local health authorities. A National Labor Inspectorate has been tasked with responding to this crisis. See: Amianto, Guariniello: l'India ne ha esportato in Italia [Asbestos, Guariniello: India has exported [asbestos] to Italy].
Parliament to Debate Asbestos Ban Bill
Sep 17, 2015
Four Ministers of State have been summoned to Parliament to explain on September 22, 2015 why asbestos is still used in Colombia when scores of nations have prohibited its use. Medical practitioners, cancer specialists and asbestos victims have criticized the current regime which allows the use of chrysotile (white) asbestos under legislation adopted in 2011. Senator Nadia Blel has sponsored a bill to ban asbestos and urges “action immediately, because asbestos is highly carcinogenic… creating a deadly threat to anyone who comes in contact with the mineral.” See: Ministros, a control político por polémica del asbesto [Ministers to respond to political asbestos controversy].
Tests Confirm Asbestos in Crayons
Sep 17, 2015
After news of asbestos contamination in crayons imported from China to the U.S. and Australia, the Government of New Zealand has now announced that government testing found similar contamination. An audit, conducted by the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Business, Ministry of Environment and the Environmental Protection Authority, of 21 random crayon products found asbestos in three products: Disney – Planes, Fire & Rescue (double ended crayons); Avengers Age of Ultron – 8 chunky crayons; Art Series – Jumbo Colours (12 non-toxic bright colours). As asbestos is not banned in New Zealand, the sale of these products is legal. See: Tests reveal asbestos in New Zealand crayons.
Asbestos Producer Bans Asbestos
Sep 16, 2015
In a remarkable development, the asbestos company Imbralit de Criciúma in the State of Santa Catarina has accepted the inevitability of Brazilian action to ban asbestos and announced today that it will cease using asbestos in its production of cement building materials as of November 1, 2015. Although there is no federal ban on asbestos, seven states have taken unilateral action to prohibit the use, manufacture, transport and sale of asbestos-containing products. They are: Mato Grosso, Sao Paulo, Rio Grande do Sul, Minas Gerais, Rio de Janeiro, Pernambuco and Amazonas. See: Uma Bomba para o Lobby do Amianto [A Bomb for Asbestos Lobby].