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Displaying first 25 items in reverse date order (default)

D-DAY: June 7, 2023

May 25, 2023

On June 7, 2023, the judgment will be handed down in the long-running criminal trial of Swiss asbestos billionaire Stephen Schmidheiny at the Novara Court of Assizes (Italy). During the trial, the defense had called for Schmidheiny to be acquitted of all charges; prosecutors had called for a sentence of life imprisonment. The defendant was charged with the voluntary homicide of 392 people from the town of Casale Monferrato, all of whom died from asbestos-related diseases, allegedly caused by exposure to asbestos fibers liberated by the Eternit asbestos-cement factory operated by Schmidheiny. See: Processo Eternit bis: sentenza attesa il 7 giugno [Eternit bis trial: sentence expected on June 7].

Asbestos at the Palace

May 25, 2023

Asbestos removal work was part of the €171 million (US$184.4m) renovation project undertaken on the 17th century Dutch royal palace of Het Loo, sometimes called the “Versailles of the North,” in the city of Apeldoorn in the heart of the Netherlands. During the five years the historic site was closed to visitors, 4,300 sq. meters of asbestos fireproofing, which was installed in the 1970s, was remediated and replaced. The Palace reopened to the public on Friday April 21, 2023. See: An invisible €171m renovation: Dutch royal palace reopens after five-year-long underground project.

Asbestos in Schools

May 25 2023

On May 18, 2023 concerned parents, school staff, and their supporters held a rally on the steps of the Philadelphia School District’s headquarters to demand increased clarity and coordination on tackling asbestos contamination of the city’s schools. After initially being rebuffed by security personnel, the petitions presented on Thursday by groups from Henry and Mitchell elementary schools, and Building 21 and Frankford High – four schools closed by asbestos problems this year – were accepted by Oz Hill, the district’s chief operating officer, and district spokesperson Monique Braxton. See: Philly teachers and parents from schools closed by asbestos petition the district for better information.

Grassroots Asbestos Mobilization

May 25, 2023

On May 20, 2023, former employees of the Brasilit company gathered at an asbestos meeting organized by the Brazilian Association of the Asbestos-Exposed (ABREA) in São Caetano do Sul in São Paulo state. The participants engaged in discussions and planning for a July 2023 ABREA workshop on workers’ rights, which will be open to asbestos victims, family members, and political and social leaders. The event, which is by invitation only, will take place at a venue provided by São Caetano do Sul City Council. See: Picture of ABREA event on May 20, 2023 in São Caetano do Sul, São Paulo State.

Post-Earthquake Dialogue

May 25, 2023

In the aftermath of the Kahramanmaraş February 6, 2023 earthquakes that devastated whole regions of Turkey and affected millions of people, questions are being asked about “what will be needed to rebuild the cities …while preserving social relations and urban identity.” Within the context of a wide-ranging discussion by experts from diverse fields, the subject of asbestos was mentioned as a critical factor in decisions regarding the reuse of disaster waste in reconstruction efforts. Without due care and attention, asbestos debris will not only endanger human life but also pollute the soil and the water. See: Depremzede kentler nasıl yeniden inşa edilecek? ‘Konuyu konuttan ibaret görürsek yanlış bir şey yaparız’ [How will earthquake-affected cities be rebuilt? ‘It will be a mistake to see the subject as provision of housing alone’].

Buyer Beware!

May 25, 2023

The extensive article cited below explained the challenges posed by the historic use of asbestos-containing products in Japan and the present-day problems asbestos contamination poses. Real estate buyers are strongly advised to commission asbestos surveys of all properties built before September 1, 2006: “an asbestos survey will help protect your assets when purchasing real estate.” Failing to follow this advice could leave a new property owner with huge bills to remediate toxic structures. See: “不動産売買のババ抜き”でジョーカーを引かないために必要な中古物件購入前のアスベスト調査 [Asbestos survey before buying a second-hand property necessary to avoid pulling the joker in “old real estate trading”].

Paris Appeals’ Verdict

May 24, 2023

On the afternoon of Friday May 19, 2023, the news broke that the Paris Court of Appeal had turned its back on thousands of French asbestos victims and their families and blocked efforts to hold to account fourteen decision makers, executives, doctors and lobbyists for the thousands of deaths caused by asbestos exposures in France. Nearly 2,000 complainants brought this legal action to the court demanding that a criminal trial of the accused take place. Their request was denied. There will be an appeal, said leaders of the asbestos victims’ group. See: Asbestos: The Paris Court Refuses To Hold A Criminal Trial Requested By Victims.

Parliament’s Asbestos Issues

May 24, 2023

On May 17, 2023, the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee published a report which was categorical about the dangerous and deteriorating state of the Palace of Westminster: “Parliament is spending up to £2 million a week patching up the Palace but there is still a growing list of health and safety incidents, including some involving asbestos…Timely transparency and compliance with health and safety protocols, particularly around asbestos, urgently needs to improve...” On page 8 of the report it was noted that: “compliance with health and safety protocols, in particular reporting asbestos incidents, remains unsatisfactory.” See: “Real and rising risk” that Palace of Westminster will be destroyed by catastrophic event before it is restored, says PAC.

Raising Asbestos Awareness in Laos

May 24, 2023

A billboard erected outside the Australian Embassy in the capital city of Laos, by Australia’s Union Aid Abroad-APHEDA and partnering organizations from Australia and Canada, this month highlighted the hazard posed by the country’s continuing use of asbestos. The main use of asbestos in Laos is for the manufacture of roofing in factories located in the Provinces of Luang Prabang, Champasak and Vientiane. According to APHEDA: “The standards for managing raw asbestos are often poor, including manual handling of the fibre and no safe storage or waste management, meaning workers and communities within a 2km radius of the factories are at risk of exposure.” See: Union Aid Abroad – APHEDA. May 16, 2023 upload to Facebook.

Quebec’s Dirty Asbestos Secrets

May 24, 2023

A series of high-profile articles in the Canadian media over recent months highlighted the prevalence of asbestos-cement pipes in the water delivery systems of provinces and cities throughout the country. It seems, however, that Quebec – the former heartland of asbestos production in Canada – has yet to undertake sampling for asbestos fibers in tap water despite a commitment by the Quebec Ministry of Environment to do so. Perhaps they are worried about what they might find? See (subscription site): Québec n'a jamais prévu échantillonner les tuyaux d'eau potable en amiante... et a tenté de le camoufler [Quebec never planned to sample asbestos drinking water pipes...and tried to cover it up].

Regional Asbestos Hazard

May 24, 2023

Work to raise asbestos awareness and progress a ban on asbestos use in the Pacific Region was the subject of a presentation at the May 2023 conference of the Asian Ban Asbestos Network. The speaker was Lance Richman, the PacWaste Plus Technical Waste Project Officer - Hazardous Waste of the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Program. Richman delineated measures to assist countries to “remediate legacy asbestos, and regulate the use, transport, and disposal of asbestos, to protect human health from the harmful effects caused by exposure,” and detailed initiatives to raise awareness, develop legislation and implement regulations to prevent toxic exposures. See: Pacific Island Countries Efforts Toward Asbestos Containing Material Ban Presented At 2023 ABAN Conference.

BC Asbestos Court Order

May 24, 2023

In a May 16, 2023 decision by the Supreme Court of British Columbia (BC) in the case of the Workers’ Compensation Board vs E H Z Pre-Demolition Ltd., AMK Environmental (2017) Ltd., Rajesh Joshi, and Gagandeep Joshi, Justice Nitya Iyer ordered that the Joshi brothers cease committing “contraventions of the following provisions of the Act and the Occupational Health and Safety Regulation, B.C. Reg. 296/97 [Regulation]” after breaches of asbestos health and safety regulations at ten asbestos abatement sites in BC had been proved. See: Workers’ Compensation Board vs E H Z Pre-Demolition Ltd., AMK Environmental (2017) Ltd., Rajesh Joshi, and Gagandeep Joshi.

UN Convention: Update

May 22, 2023

The link cited below contains a summary of what took place during negotiations at a meeting of the UN’s Rotterdam Convention at the beginning of this month; it is a frustrating read. Attempts to unblock a process intended to protect global populations from avoidable exposures to deadly chemicals and pesticides were, once again, forestalled by member countries with vested interests. It was no surprise to see that the refusniks were led by the Russian delegation; Russia is the world’s largest producer of chrysotile (white) asbestos. Negotiations and discussions were so fraught that UN security officers maintained a visible presence in the plenary chamber during votes. See: Earth Negotiation Bulletin Summary report May 1-12, 2023.

Johnson & Johnson Asbestos Scandal

May 22, 2023

A 24-minute video uploaded on May 11, 2023 detailed the controversy surrounding the US pharmaceutical giant Johnson and Johnson (J&J) which stands accused by tens of thousands of people of causing their cancers. The claimants argue that use of J&J’s talc-based baby powder, which was contaminated with asbestos fibers had been the reason they contracted mesothelioma, and/or ovarian cancer. Internal documents exhibited during this video showed that the company had known about the risks and still continued selling its iconic baby powder throughout the world. See: Inside the Johnson & Johnson Baby Powder Controversy.

Asbestos Hazard: Update

May 22, 2023

Warning bells have been sounded by Insurer Allianz about the threat posed to UK workers by the drive toward sustainability. The alert was raised during a meeting of the British Insurers Brokers’ Association in Manchester, by Andy Miller, Loss Control Technical Manager of Allianz Insurance. He highlighted how many younger workers in the construction industry refused to take the asbestos risk seriously: “Older buildings are being significantly renovated to increase their sustainability, but tiles, artex and flooring may well contain asbestos and as such there needs to be proper and adequate protections taken.” Miller’s call is backed by the HSE. See: Asbestos fears re-emerge with insurer warning.

Asbestos Eradication in Campania

May 22, 2023

The Vice President of the Campania Region Fulvio Bonavitacola announced at a May 13th conference in Naples that: “we will use the new cycle of European funds to give further impetus to progressing asbestos decontamination throughout the region.” Regional asbestos hotspots include: the former asbestos-cement factory operated by Eternit in Bagnoli, a metallurgical plant owned by Italsider in Fincantieri, engineering and railway stock construction and repair yards in Pozzuoli, Caserta, Castellammare di Stabia, and Santa Maria La Bruna. In 2022, there were 600 asbestos-related deaths in Campania – 100 due to the signature asbestos cancer mesothelioma. See: Amianto: Bonavitacola, fondi Ue per decontaminare la Campania [Asbestos: Bonavitacola, EU funds to decontaminate Campania].

Recognition for Libby Clinic

May 22, 2023

A resolution introduced to the Montana House of Representatives by Representative Steve Gunderson,  which recognized the “critical importance of the lessons learned during the asbestos-related Public Health Emergency declared in Lincoln County… as well as the ongoing contributions made by the Center for Asbestos Related Disease to both the Libby community and the field of asbestos related diseases,” was passed earlier this month. The well-deserved recognition of the work of the center will allow it to access additional funding to support ongoing operations and expand clinical and educational services to people nationwide exposed to Libby asbestos. See: Center for Asbestos Related Disease (CARD) Designated as a Center of Excellence.

Spring Offensive by HSE

May 22, 2023

From Monday May 15th, the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) – “a UK government agency responsible for the encouragement, regulation and enforcement of workplace health, safety and welfare” – began a three-month crackdown on dust exposures at construction sites with a series of unannounced inspections to ascertain whether control measures in operation are in compliance with regulations to protect workers from hazardous inhalation of substances such as asbestos, silica and wood dust. See: HSE to inspect dust exposure risk at construction sites nationwide from Monday.

Post-Disaster Asbestos Hazard

May 18, 2023

A report by Reuters about the fallout from the February 2023 earthquakes in Turkey contained staggering figures: “The United Nations estimated the disaster generated at least 10 times as much rubble as the last big Turkish earthquake in 1999…Some experts said a ‘secondary disaster’ of contamination could be even more severe than the quakes themselves” with one Turkish expert predicting that 3 million people could get sick due to post-earthquake toxic exposures to 85,000 toxic substances dumped at 15+ sites. The collapse of 300,000 buildings, many of which contained asbestos, created 100 million cubic meters (130 million cubic yards) of rubble. Due to the scale of the disaster, regulations to protect workers and the public from asbestos exposures were suspended. See: The Toxic Dust from Turkey's Earthquake!

Asbestos in the Museum

May 18, 2023

The iconic Pompidou Center will be closed to enable asbestos eradication and other remediation work to be carried out. The Paris museum of contemporary art will be under refurbishment from 2025 to 2030. According to France’s Minister of Culture Rima Abdul Malak, the work will cost worth 262 million euros and will include “a renovation operation, removal of asbestos from the façade, fireproofing, energy optimization and the improvement of access to the building for people with disabilities.” See: Parigi "perde" il museo Pompidou, amianto sulla facciata: chiuderà per 5 anni [Paris “loses” the Pompidou museum, asbestos on the façade: it will close for 5 years].

New Asbestos Eradication Program

May 18, 2023

Last week, South Africa’s Human Settlements Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi announced that the sum of 220 million rands had been allocated to implement 27 projects to remove asbestos roofs on government-built houses in the Eastern Cape, Free State and KwaZulu-Natal. According to the Minister, asbestos roofing was an “apartheid relic” that must be eradicated “as a priority.” Former ANC official Ace Magashule, who is due to appear in court in April 2024, faces corruption charges related to a multimillion rand Free State asbestos eradication tender awarded when he was premier. See: R220m set aside to remove asbestos roofs in Eastern Cape, Free State and KZN.

Raising Asbestos Awareness

May 18, 2023

The first meeting of asbestos stakeholders took place in Martinique on May 11, 2023. “Asbestos is,” said co-organizer Sandrine Dorail “still present in certain materials in Martinique, not only in pieces of fiber cement, but also in cladding, false ceilings, pipes, road coatings, floor slabs, bituminous glue for floor slabs…” The objective of the meeting was to “alert the public authorities but also members of the public” about the hazard posed by asbestos material hidden within the country’s infrastructure. See: Un 1er salon amiante Antilles pour « alerter les pouvoirs publics et les citoyens » [A 1st Antilles asbestos forum to “alert public authorities and citizens”].

Stopping Asbestos Exposures in BC

May 18, 2023

In the aftermath of International Workers Memorial Day (April 28, 2023), the article cited below recapped the deadly repercussions that widespread use of asbestos had had in the Canadian Province of British Columbia (BC): “Since 2002, British Columbia has recorded nearly 1,200 work-related deaths linked to asbestos. In 2022, it was responsible for 61 of the 181 work-related deaths, the result of exposures that happened decades before.” From January 1, 2023, B.C. became the first Canadian Province to require asbestos removal firms to be licensed as a means to upgrade workplace practices and ensure compliance with health and safety regulations. See: B.C. to tackle the deadliest workplace killer.

Asbestos Hazard in the Built Environment

May 18, 2023

A May 11, 2023 article on a Japanese website by Manabu Shinbori, an architect from the Saitama Prefecture, reviewed the damage to human health caused by exposures to asbestos in light of revised Japanese laws. More than three times as many people died from mesothelioma – the signature asbestos cancer – in 2017 as in 1995; many of the deceased were construction or manufacturing workers. Duty holders must make every effort to ascertain the presence and condition of asbestos material in all buildings to comply with regulations. See: アスベストに関する法改正 ? 被害を出さないために解体、改修に関して意識をするべきこと 「建築知識の不動産投資 [Amendments to laws related to asbestos?].

Johnson & Johnson: Toxic Talc

May 15, 2023

On May 7, 2023, a 45-minute segment, entitled Shaken: Baby Powder on Trial, was broadcast on the CNN TV show The Whole Story, explaining the controversial attempts by Johnson & Johnson (J&J) to off-load cancer lawsuits by consumers who allege that fatal diseases they contracted were due to use of asbestos-contaminated J&J talc-based baby powder. Despite all the evidence to the contrary, J&J continues to deny there was asbestos in its baby powder, with one spokesperson on the program saying: “We have always believed this is a safe product. And that's why we continue to sell it for over 125 years. It was a sad day in 2020 when we stopped selling this iconic product.” See: Transcript of The Whole Story TV Program - Shaken: Baby Powder on Trial.