News Item Archive
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Displaying first 25 items in reverse date order (default)
Tests Reveal High Contamination Levels
Oct 19, 2014
The Montparnasse Tower is an iconic 1970s skyscraper which is a Paris landmark. It has been much in the news over allegations of widespread asbestos contamination. Although asbestos removal work has been ongoing in the building since 2005, the tower is still in use. Le Figaro newspaper commissioned tests on October 7 & 8 which showed a concentration of 15.3 fibers per liter air; in France, the permissible limit is 5 fibers per liter. The buildings’ owners have responded to this revelation by issuing a complaint over the newspaper’s “malicious act.” See: Amiante dans la Tour Montparnasse [Asbestos in the Montparnasse Tower].
Mesothelioma Funding Call by NIHR
Oct 17, 2014
The UK’s National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) has issued a funding call for UK clinical and applied health research into mesothelioma. Eligible proposals would include work on “any aspect of mesothelioma, its prevention, earlier diagnosis, treatment or care (including palliative care) – where there are likely to be benefits for patients or their families, within 5 years of the end of the research.” An emphasis on patient input will be a crucial part of all proposals. See: NIHR Themed Calls: Mesothelioma.
Earthquakes and Asbestos: Bad Mix!
Oct 17, 2014
New Zealand’s asbestos policy is, by all accounts, not fit for purpose. Various ministers have repeatedly refused to act on the fact that there is no national ban on asbestos imports and use. As a result of government inaction, awareness of the asbestos hazard is low. This ignorance has exacerbated the problems caused by the 2011 Christchurch earthquake which has left many buildings in disrepair. A campaign targeting small contractors and the DIY community is being launched by the Combined Health and Environment Risks Programme Control Group to raise awareness of the asbestos hazard. See: Campaign highlights asbestos risk in Christchurch rebuild.
Failure to Diagnose Asbestos Disease
Oct 17, 2014
Research presented by UK scientists at a German conference reported that a proportion of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) cases may be linked with asbestos exposure. An analysis of mortality rates for IPF, asbestosis and mesothelioma across England and Wales for the period 1974 to 2012 showed geographical correlations between the three diseases. This, suggested the scientists, supported the theory that a proportion of IPF cases are due to unknown exposure to asbestos. If this connection had been known it is likely that those affected would have received treatment for an asbestos disease. See: Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) cases linked with asbestos exposure.
Court Victory for Asbestos Victim
Oct 15, 2014
Brasilit, a subsidiary of Saint Gobain Construction Products Industrial Brazil Ltda., has been found guilty by a regional labor court of an asbestos injury sustained by a deceased engineer and ordered to pay “moral damages” to his family. An extrajudicial agreement previously signed by the claimant, and by many other Brasilit asbestos victims, in which they gave up the right to sue the company in return for a paltry settlement was disregarded by the Court. See: Empregado contaminado com Amianto recebe indenizacao por danos morais [Employee with asbestos disease receives compensation for moral damages].
Diagnosing Asbestos-related Diseases
Oct 14, 2014
Asbestos, asbestosis, and cancer, the Helsinki criteria for diagnosis and attribution 2014: recommendations, which has appeared online, details the discussions and conclusions of a meeting of experts which took place in February 2014. The text summarizes current information on the methods for managing and eliminating asbestos-related diseases and delineates a criteria – the Helsinki Criteria – “for use in programs and practices for the detection, diagnosis and attribution of asbestos-related diseases.” See: Asbestos, asbestosis, and cancer, the Helsinki criteria for diagnosis and attribution 2014: recommendations.
Victoria Asbestos Scandal Unfolds
Oct 13, 2014
On Sunday (October 12), the results of a five-month investigation were published in an Australian newspaper. “White Death in a Melbourne Suburb” documented a cancer epidemic amongst people who lived within one kilometre of the Sunshine North Wunderlich asbestos factory. The factory was originally owned by the German Wunderlich brothers but was run from 1969 to 1977 by CSR, the owners of the Wittenoom crocidolite asbestos mine. CSR is responsible for the liabilities of the factory during both the Wunderlich and CSR periods of management. See: Wunderlich asbestos scare prompts calls to Slater and Gordon.
Calls for Asbestos Ban
Oct 11, 2014
A report in the Thai media today details the support of the Federation of Occupational Health, Safety and Environment at Work, a member of the Thailand Ban Asbestos Network, for an immediate and comprehensive ban on the use of asbestos in Thailand. The consortium of groups calling for a ban reacted positively to a 2011 statement by the Thai cabinet supporting this action but nothing productive has been achieved due to political roadblocks since then. Industry’s dire predictions regarding the economic impact of a ban are groundless say critics as the cost of asbestos and non-asbestos roofing are the same. See: Work group promotes asbestos ban.
National Asbestos Awareness Campaign
Oct 10, 2014
After a wait of nearly four years, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has launched a campaign to raise awareness of the asbestos hazard amongst at-risk tradesman. On October 9, the HSE reported that “Tradespeople, including construction workers, carpenters and painters and decorators, could come into contact with deadly asbestos on average more than 100 times a year…” There is a widespread lack of awareness amongst tradespeople who, on average, are dying at the rate of 20 per week from asbestos-related diseases. See: 1.3 million tradespeople at risk from dangers of asbestos.
All Asbestos is Carcinogenic!
Oct 9, 2014
On October 7, 2014, as a result of collaborations by the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Labour and the Ministry of Employment and Social Security, all types of asbestos, including chrysotile (white) asbestos, were added to Brazil’s List of Human Carcinogens. This major advance underlines the fallacious industry argument that chrysotile is a non-toxic substance essential for developing economies. It constitutes an acknowledgement by Brazil of the asbestos threat and as such will drive forward the momentum for a national ban. See: Portaria Interministerial confirma amianto como cancerígeno [Interministerial ordinance confirms asbestos as a carcinogen].
Failed Attack by Asbestos Lobby
Oct 7, 2014
Union leaders derailed an attack by the Association of Chrysotile Industries (CIC) on plans to lower asbestos threshold limit exposure levels in the Philippines. A CIC representative attended a working group meeting tasked with finalizing the National Programme for the Elimination of Asbestos-Related Diseases this month. Citing industry propaganda, he asserted that chrysotile (asbestos) was not toxic. His arguments were countered by medical and union experts. In a trade union press release, it was noted that in August 2014 CIC representatives enjoyed a visit to Brazil’s asbestos mine at the expense of the Eternit asbestos company. See: Trade Union press release.
Dialogue on Asbestos Risk
Oct 6, 2014
On October 4, two films were shown in Bangkok which highlighted the asbestos hazard. One was a documentary, entitled Dust: The Great Asbestos Trial, about Italy’s epidemic of asbestos disease and death; the other was a 10 minute film detailing the health risk posed by the use of chrysotile (white) asbestos in Thailand. The films were also viewable via an internet link. After the showing, there was a seminar held by the Thailand Ban Asbestos Network (see photo: T-BAN supporters) during which experts substantiated the hazard asbestos poses and called for an immediate ban. An asbestos lobbyist said that chrysotile asbestos did not present a health hazard. The event was covered by Thai TV.
10 Year Anniversary Marked in Tokyo
Oct 4, 2014
The tenth anniversary of the Japan Association of Mesothelioma and Asbestos-related Disease Victims and Their Families is being marked today at an international gathering in Tokyo attended by Japanese, Korean and Indonesian campaigners. A new video has been produced for this occasion. The first 1.43 minutes is a message (in Japanese) from an asbestos victim hospitalized in Hokkaido who is unable to join the activities. The rest of the 32 minute video is a touching tribute to the thousands of Japanese victims and supporters who have revolutionized their country’s asbestos dialogue. This film is highly recommended. See: Anniversary Video.
Mesothelioma Treatment Report
Oct 3, 2014
Data drawn from 8,700 patients diagnosed with mesothelioma in the UK between 2008 and 2012 has been published in a report issued in September 2014 entitled: National Lung Cancer Audit Report Mesothelioma. The text highlights the level of variation in diagnosis, treatment and survival for mesothelioma by geographical area in England and Wales and across cancer networks. While the majority of patients are having their diagnoses confirmed by biopsy and are being treated by multi-disciplinary teams, there are still a significant number who are not receiving the support needed. There is much of interest in this report. See: National Lung Cancer Audit Report Mesothelioma.
Ban Asbestos Campaign
Oct 2, 2014
Campaigners from the Mexican association of Ayuda Mesotelioma, A.C. have uploaded an online petition calling on the Government to ban the use of all types of asbestos including chrysotile. The petition states that: “To allow the manufacture of asbestos in our country is a violation of human rights,[and] a threat to the health of workers and the environment.” There are more than 1,800 asbestos-processing factories in Mexico where workers are hazardously exposed to asbestos on a routine basis. As a result, there is an established rise in the incidence of asbestos-related disease and mortality. Consequently, government healthcare costs are also increasing. See: Ban Asbestos in Mexico Petition.
Judgment in Landmark Case
Oct 1, 2014
On October 2, 2014, Honourable Mr Justice William Davis will hand down his verdict in a case of pivotal importance to UK mesothelioma victims. At stake, is the legality of the Government’s collusion with British insurers to impose legal reforms which would disadvantage mesothelioma claimants in order to minimize corporate liabilities. During legal proceedings on July 29 and 30, 2014, a Secret Heads of Agreement between the Government and the Association of British Insurers was submitted in evidence which showed, so critics alleged, that a “secret deal” had been done. See: Press Release by Asbestos Victims Support Groups Forum UK.
Mobilization in Asbestos Heartland
Sep 30, 2014
For decades a code of silence prevented people in the asbestos company town of Kapelle-op-den-Bos from speaking out about the epidemic killing employees and local people. A manifestation of how much has changed in recent years was the public rally on Sunday, September 28 in the center of the town which was attended by over 500 people. Participating in the activities were friends and family of Willy Vanderstappen, a politician and activist who died in 2007 of asbestos cancer. During the event, a check for €1000 was presented to Eric Jonckheere, President of ABEVA (the Belgian Association of the Asbestos-Exposed), who grew up in Kapelle-op-den-Bos.
Asbestos Tax Scandal
Sep 30, 2014
It has been reported that James Hardie (JH), formerly Australia’s asbestos giant, has “over the last decade paid an average of $0 in corporate tax in Australia… on average annual profits of $204 million…” Even as JH continues to pay generous dividends to shareholders, its compensation scheme for asbestos victims is in danger of defaulting on payments due to underfunding; there is talk of a government bailout. Commenting on the situation, Senator Nick Xenophon said: “When it comes to contributing their fair share, it seems James Hardie are leaners not lifters.” See: James Hardie 'paid an average of $0' in corporate tax over past decade.
Mesothelioma Research Findings
Sep 29, 2014
Research findings presented at the conference of the European Society for Medical Oncology in Madrid have questioned the efficacy of treating patients with high-dose radiotherapy after chemotherapy and surgery for malignant pleural mesothelioma. Prof Rolf A. Stahel, President of the European Society for Medical Oncology, reported the findings of a Swiss study which failed “to find any differences in relapse-free survival between patients treated with the additional radiotherapy, and those who were not.” Another paper discussed the possibilities of targeting a protein produced by mesothelioma cells. See: ESMO 2014 Press Release: Studies Report New Findings on Treatment Options for Mesothelioma.
New Technology Tracks Asbestos Waste
Sep 26, 2014
The Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) of New South Wales, Australia has announced the development of technology which will allow smartphones or tablet applications to track the origins of dumped asbestos waste. The app works by scanning a barcode attached to plastic-wrapped asbestos waste. The barcode contains information such as the size or weight of the material, who it has been given to, and when and where it is going to be dumped. It is expected to be made available early next year to local councils which are fighting a war against asbestos dumpers. See: Electronic tracking traces illegally dumped tyres, asbestos.
Multimillion Dollar Screw Up by EPA
Sep 26, 2014
Yesterday (September 25) a report was published which seriously criticized the (US) Environment Protection Agency (EPA) for failing to uphold standards in its experimentation with alternative methods for dealing with asbestos contained in buildings due for demolition. Not only was the public put at risk but the data produced by the mismanaged tests was useless said the Office of the Inspector General. The controversial research program cost $3.5 million and was carried out between 1999 and 2011. A multiplicity of failings were identified in the report which concluded that the new techniques had not worked as well as traditional methods. See: Watchdog faults EPA on failed asbestos tests.
Contamination After Road Crash
Sep 25, 2014
On the morning of September 24, 2014, two trucks collided in the state of São Paulo causing traffic delays and toxic contamination after asbestos fiber had been liberated in the accident. The Fire Department cordoned off the area and took charge of overseeing decontamination work. Although asbestos is banned in the State of São Paulo (SP) the company that owns the cargo, SAMA mining (part of the Eternit group), routinely transports its asbestos on the public highways en route to SP ports. See: Carga de amianto cai em vicinal após choque entre caminhões em Olímpia [Asbestos cargo on road after truck collision].
Asbestos Prosecutions of Olivetti Execs
Sep 25, 2014
The public prosecutor has confirmed that criminal charges are being brought for the asbestos-related deaths of 20 former Olivetti employees against five former company executives who are alleged to have failed in their duty to protect the Italian workforce from the asbestos hazard. The deaths from the asbestos cancer mesothelioma occurred between 2008 and 2014 and relate to people who worked for the company in the 1970s and 1990s. See: Chiusa l'inchiesta sull'amianto all'Olivetti, tra gli indagati De Benedetti e Passera [The asbestos investigation at Olivetti, among the suspects De Benedetti and Passera].
War on Asbestos
Sep 24, 2014
The French Government has declared war on asbestos, a carcinogen pervasive throughout the built environment contaminating 3 millions homes as well as civic buildings, factories, stores, schools and hospitals. On September 23, 2014, at a Congress held by the French Association of Low Income Housing, Housing Minister Sylvia Pinel announced the allocation of €400 million (US$514m) per year for the removal of asbestos from public housing. Low interest loans of up to €10,000 per unit will be made available to organizations owning public housing for remediation work. See: Amiante et HLM: le plan a minima du gouvernement [Asbestos and Social Housing: Government Plan].
Priority Asbestos Remediation
Sep 24, 2014
The Israeli Government has allocated a sum of US$4 million (NIS15m) for the replacement of asbestos-containing roofing as part of an unprecedented five-year US$545m (NIS2 billion) socioeconomic package for the south of the country. Accepting that asbestos roofs damaged by rocket fire are a human health hazard, the Government has prioritized their removal within this plan. According to a report in the Jerusalem Post, the asbestos producer will be required to pay for half of the asbestos remediation in Galilee. See: NIS45m. allocated for asbestos treatment, waste rehabilitation in the South.