News Item Archive

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Displaying first 25 items in reverse date order (default)
 

Legacy of Asbestos Mining

Jun 22, 2018

Brazilian photographer Inácio Teixeira was born in Bom Jesus da Serra, Bahia State, Brazil, home to the São Felix Asbestos Mine which for decades poisoned its workers, polluted the environment and exposed consumers and family members to a deadly carcinogen. A photographic exhibit he has produced is now on the website of the Brazilian Association of the Asbestos-Exposed; the stark black and white images “leave no doubt about the trail of destruction caused by this predatory industry…” See: Uma Tragédia Socioambiental de Proporções Ainda Ignoradas [A Socio-Environmental Tragedy of Unkown Proportions So Far].
 

Expose of Russian Dirty Tricks

Jun 21, 2018

A Russian language article on a Latvian news website documents the desperation of asbestos vested interests in Russia and resultant drastic measures being taken by them, including the publication of a comic book with a hero called “Chrysotile,” competitions for students to encourage the use of asbestos in building products, conflicts of interest of Russian scientists with proven links to the chrysotile industry working with the IARC to “research” the occupational impact of asbestos exposures, etc. See: Асбест вызывает рак. В России его все равно добывают и используют в строительстве [Asbestos causes cancer. In Russia, it is still mined and used in construction].
 

Telling the Truth in the Urals

Jun 21, 2018

An article about the health hazard posed by human exposures to asbestos has been published on a website in the Urals, the asbestos mining region of Russia. The headline and the contents refute industry propaganda that Russian asbestos is not hazardous. Although the contents of this piece have been sourced from an article on the Meduza website, it is noteworthy that the Meduza website is based in Latvia and this article appeared on a website based in the Urals, Russia. See: Расследование: В Ясном производят асбест, он вызывает рак [Investigation: Asbestos, it causes Cancer].
 

Learning the Asbestos Lesson

Jun 21, 2018

A review of the epidemiology substantiating the outbreak of the deadly mesothelioma epidemic in the area of Casale Monferrato, in the Piedmont Region of Italy, the location of the Eternit asbestos-cement factory, has been undertaken by Italian researchers. The authors conclude that: “The experience of Casale Monferrato represents a lesson in several terms, from the epidemiological surveillance to the health care of the victims and the relationship between epidemiologists, victims, their relatives and residents in contaminated areas.” See: Mesothelioma in Italy: the Casale Monferrato model to a national epidemiological surveillance system.
 

Asbestos in Make-up

Jun 21, 2018

It has been reported that authorities in the Czech Republic found asbestos contamination in make-up sold for children by the US company Claire’s. This development was reported to the European Rapid Alert System which should automatically result in the product being withdrawn from the European market. On June 19, the Spanish Organization of Consumers and Users issued warnings about the make-up kit; it has been withdrawn from sale in Spain. The Spanish Agency for Medicines and Health Products is being urged to carry out an inspection of all Claire's products. See: Detectado amianto en un kit de maquillaje infantil que ya se ha retirado de las tiendas [Asbestos detected in a children's makeup kit already withdrawn from sale].
 

National Asbestos Legacy

Jun 21, 2018

Despite adopting a ban on the use of asbestos in 1992, Italy continues to pay dearly for its industrial asbestos past. In 2017, there were 6,000 asbestos-related deaths – of which 1,800 were caused by the cancer mesothelioma – with the peak in the national epidemic not expected until 2030. The presence of 40 million tonnes of asbestos incorporated within the national infrastructure remains a clear and present danger to the health of both workers and members of the public. It is believed that a million private and public buildings, including 2,400 schools, 250 hospitals and 1,000 libraries and cultural sites, are contaminated. See: Amianto: 6.000 morti e 40 milioni di tonnellate da bonificare [Asbestos: 6,000 dead and 40 million tons to be reclaimed].
 

Asbestos Mining in Western Australia

Jun 21, 2018

The consequences of the mining and processing of crocidolite (blue) asbestos fiber at the Wittenoom mine in Western Australia are the focus of a four-minute video entitled Wittenoom: An Australian Tragedy. The clip begins with Bronwen Duke who lost her parents, both her grandparents, her brother, three uncles and four cousins to asbestos-related diseases; the whole extended family had lived in the asbestos company town of town Wittenoom. Although the mine ceased operations in the 1960s, people continue to die from the long latency diseases caused by exposures to asbestos. See: Wittenoom: An Australian Tragedy.
 

RIP Ben Hills

Jun 19, 2018

Ben Hills, one of Australia’s foremost investigative journalists, died on June 10, 2018 after several battles with cancer. In his first book – Blue Murder (1986) – Hills told the “shocking truth about Wittenoom’ s deadly dust.” In the 200+ pages of this exposé, Hills detailed the horrendous conditions and deadly repercussions for those who worked and lived in the former crocidolite asbestos mining town in Western Australia. The book, long out of print, remains a testament to the men and women who worked to reveal this scandal and support all those whose lives had been sacrificed for the profits of the corporate giant operating the mine. See: A ‘slap-up party’ to send off journalist Ben Hills.
 

Mesothelioma at the Opera

Jun 19, 2018

Second only to Maria Callas, legendary Italian opera singer Edith Martelli has died from mesothelioma due to asbestos exposure at La Scala and other opera houses; she sang in Madrid, New York, Berlin, Salzburg and Tokyo. When she was diagnosed 14 years ago, she was given a prognosis of just 12 months. Commenting on the toxic exposures she received, her son Antonio said that his mother “had unknowingly and systematically” inhaled the invisible asbestos fibers contained in stage equipment, curtains, etc. which were found in the 1980s in theaters, including La Scala. See: Legnano, Edith Martelli è morta per l’amianto respirato alla Scala [Legnano, Edith Martelli died of asbestos breathed at La Scala].
 

Bronchial Asthma from Asbestos

Jun 19, 2018

A quality inspector who worked for seven years for TMD Friction do Brasil SA, a company which manufactured auto parts, succeeded in increasing his compensation for workplace asbestos exposure which resulted in him contracting bronchial asthma from R$15,000 (US$4,020) to R$80,000 (US$21,500) in a unanimous decision by the Superior Labor Tribunal. The plaintiff had claimed R$317,000 (US$85,000) in moral damages. See: Turma aumenta indenização a inspetor que desenvolveu asma brônquica por exposição ao Amianto [Compensation increased for inspector who developed bronchial asthma due to exposure to asbestos].
 

Revival of Asbestos Mine

Jun 18, 2018

Last week, Zimbabwe’s President Mnangagwa toured the Mashava Asbestos Mine in Masvingo Province and said that a government investment of $20 million will enable mining operations to recommence by the end of the year. It has been estimated that production of chrysotile (white) asbestos will begin at 40,000 tonnes/year and rise to full capacity of 75,000 tonnes. Four hundred workers are now employed at the facility with a further 1,000 jobs being created in the coming years. Production at the mine had ceased nearly ten years ago. See: Govt comes to Shabanie Mine’s rescue.
 

Court Win in Rio de Janeiro

Jun 18, 2018

Rio de Janeiro Labor Judge Mariane Bastos Scorsato issued a plaintiff’s verdict ordering a company to pay R$450,000 (~US$120,000) compensation to the wife of a worker who had died from an asbestos-related occupational disease. The deceased had worked for the company from 1964 until 1991. Despite his smoking history, the Judge concluded that the link between the workplace exposure and the disease, and the failures of the company to take adequate safety measures and inform the workers of the asbestos hazard made it liable to pay the moral damages awarded. See: Morte ocorrida por exposição a amianto gera indenização de R$ 450 mil [Death caused by exposure to asbestos generates indemnity of R$450 thousand].
 

Asbestos Hazard at Hospital

Jun 18, 2018

On June 14, 2018, an appeal court in France upheld a €40,000 suspended fine for a hospital in Besançon, a city in eastern France, which negligently exposed workers to asbestos over a four-year period. The court ruled that the management of the Jean Minjoz University Regional Hospital Center had endangered “others by overt and deliberate violation of a regulatory safety obligation.” See: Besançon: Les salariés exposés pendant quatre ans à l'amiante, 40.000 euros d'amende avec sursis requis contre l'hôpital [Besançon: Employees exposed for four years to asbestos, 40,000 euros in suspended fine against the hospital].
 

Asbestos Cancer Incidence Study

Jun 18, 2018

The cancer incidence of a cohort of ~2,500 asbestos-exposed men from Northeast Italy was compared to that of the general population from the Friuli Venezia Giulia region. Amongst the former group, there was an “excess in the incidence of both mesothelioma and lung cancer, showing increasing incidence rates at higher level of asbestos exposure.” The relative incidence of lung cancer was highest among members of the cohort who had worked in shipbuilding between 1974 and 1984. The authors concluded: “Our results confirm that asbestos-related diseases are still a major problem worldwide.” See: Cancer incidence in a cohort of asbestos-exposed workers undergoing health surveillance.
 

Asbestos at School

Jun 15, 2018

The bad news regarding the horrendous asbestos exposures experienced by students and teachers in Philadelphia schools continues. A new feature in The Inquirer documented astronomical levels of asbestos on damaged surfaces in classroom 106 at the A.S. Jenks Elementary School: “an alarming 1.15 million asbestos fibers per square centimeter. That’s far higher than the 100,000 measure that experts say requires immediate action.” Teacher Maria Greco, who had been informed classroom 106 had been remediated, found dust and disrepair; as a result of her persistent enquiries, it was revealed that no work had been done and her classroom was still a toxic nightmare. See: Solving the mystery of Room 106.
 

Call for Action!

Jun 15, 2018

After a meeting at the Congress of Deputies last week, the Izquierda Unida (IU) – Spain’s United Left political coalition – called on the Spanish Government and the Board of Communities to implement an action plan for the complete removal of asbestos from the Santa María de Benquerencia neighborhood in Toledo, whose residents have for many years been forced to endure the threat posed by environmental exposure to illegally dumped asbestos-containing debris. Members of the Platform “My neighborhood without asbestos” also took part in the meeting. See: IU exige un Plan conjunto de la Junta y la CHT para la retirada total del Amianto [IU requires a Joint Plan of the Board and the CHT for the total withdrawal of asbestos].
 

Union Calls for Asbestos Action

Jun 14, 2018

A media release issued by a trade union calls on Australia’s Foreign and Trade Ministers to open discussions with their American counterparts about the proven hazard posed by human exposures to asbestos in order to counter President Trump’s assertions that asbestos is “100 per cent safe, once applied.” “The Australian Government,” they urge “must come out strongly and condemn the United States for trying to wind back bans on asbestos because there will be knock-on effects for workers there and globally.” See: ETU calls on Ministers Bishop and Ciobo to tell the US asbestos dangers no ‘mafia conspiracy’.
 

Asbestos and Cancer

Jun 14, 2018

A Russian language article on a news website in the Republic of Karelia, formerly an autonomous region and now part of Russia, which discussed six common causes of cancer, began with a discussion of the health hazard posed by exposures to asbestos. Explaining the history of asbestos use and the proven links between asbestos exposures and cancer, the text warns of the hazards posed by asbestos in the soil, air, and water; although considerably downplaying the risks, the author highlights the threat posed by contaminated buildings. See: 6 обычных вещей, которые могут вызвать рак. С некоторыми из них вы сталкиваетесь ежедневно [6 common things that can cause cancer, some of them you come across daily].
 

Asbestos Ban: Stalled in Congress

Jun 14, 2018

Senator Nadia Blel, rapporteur for the Columbian Senate’s bill to ban asbestos, has condemned stalling tactics and negative lobbying by asbestos vested interests which resulted in a postponement on June 5 of a congressional vote on draft legislation to end the commercial exploitation of asbestos. Denouncing calls for further hearings and consultations, Senator Blel said: “We have more than enough scientific evidence that shows that this fiber is affecting and ending the lives of many Colombians.” See: “Con cifras obsoletas se está desinformando sobre el peligro del asbesto”, defensores de Proyecto [“With obsolete figures we are being misinformed about the asbestos hazard,” say advocates of asbestos ban].
 

Jock McCulloch: A Tribute

Jun 14, 2018

Jock McCulloch was “one of the foremost historians of occupational health of his generation.” His work took him deep into the heart of asbestos mining regions and it was exposure to asbestos which occurred whilst writing his book Asbestos Blues that resulted in the mesothelioma which ended his life in January 2018. The co-authors of this tribute conclude the piece as follows: “Like heroic firefighters who risk their lives while attempting to rescue others, Jock had sacrificed his own life when he visited the dusty mining townships in search of the truth about asbestos. It was a bitter and cruel irony that he died trying to save others from being exposed to the same lethal asbestos fibers that tragically claimed his own life.” See: Jock McCulloch (1945–2018): A Tribute.
 

Mesothelioma Biomarkers

Jun 14, 2018

A delay in diagnosing pleural mesothelioma can prevent early treatment and adversely affect the patient’s prognosis. In an attempt to develop mesothelioma biomarkers which could be used for early diagnosis, researchers in Italy have studied serum samples from 30 pleural mesothelioma patients and 30 healthy participants. The scientists found two significant differences; “miRNA-126 was downregulated (the serum contained less of this RNA than normal) and miRNA-197 was upregulated (found in larger than expected amounts) in patients with pleural mesothelioma.” Based on these results, more research will be undertaken. See: Mesothelioma Biomarkers Could Make Early Diagnosis Routine.
 

Vilification of Ban Asbestos Campaign

Jun 12, 2018

Taking aim at ban asbestos campaigners, alleged to belong to “the power elite of the United States,” a Russian article voices support for President Trump’s “rational” views on asbestos, reiterating his long-standing belief that asbestos is “100 percent safe when it is applied” and that those who oppose its use are part of a “movement against asbestos … headed by the mafia.” The author says that the actions taken by the Environmental Protection Agency under Trump’s protégé Scott Pruitt could prevent the US from banning asbestos, an objective which is the President’s “solemn will.” See: Трамп обрушился на антиасбестовое лобби [Trump struck at the anti-asbestos lobby].
 

Lung Cancer Breakthrough?

Jun 12, 2018

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has decided that the lung cancer immunotherapy drug pembrolizumab, also known as Keytruda, will be made available on the NHS in England. After the final NICE guidance is published this month, the drug will be made “available for people with untreated non-small cell lung cancer which tests positive for a molecule called PD-L1.” A 2017 study found that survival rates for mesothelioma patients with “highly positive PD-L1 expression was associated with statistically significantly lower median survival time.” It is unknown at this time whether pembrolizumab will be made available for the treatment of mesothelioma. See: Life-extending lung cancer drug will be more widely available on the NHS after NICE review.
 

Asbestos Mining Legacy

Jun 11, 2018

On Thursday, June 7, 2018, local dignitaries and officials attended a public hearing on the deadly asbestos legacy which continues to plague the former asbestos mining town of Bom Jesus da Serra in the Brazilian state of Bahia. Although the mine ceased operations in 1967 after almost 30 years, toxic exposures to local people and the environmental contamination it created pose an on-going threat to the health of residents. During the meeting, a minute’s silence was observed to remember all those whose lives had been sacrificed to the mine including José Nildo Vieira, a former mine employee, who died last week and was buried in the cemetery named “Snow White,” after the white dust created by the chrysotile (white asbestos) mine. See: Poster advertising the June 7, 2018 asbestos hearing.
 

Asbestos: Strike This Week

Jun 11, 2018

In circulars issued to maintenance workers during May and June, Metro de Madrid – the company which operates the Spanish capital’s subway system – confirmed the discovery of additional asbestos parts in the system’s rolling stock, models 2000 and 5000. Frustrated by multiple failures of the company to effectively address the occupational hazards posed by the contamination, the CCOO Union and Union of Machinists of Madrid Metro have called a four day strike starting June 12. See: Metro localiza una nueva tanda de piezas con Amianto [Metro locates a new batch of parts containing asbestos].