News Item Archive

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Displaying first 25 items in reverse date order (default)

Asbestos Contamination of Hospital

Sep 29, 2016

Radio reports regarding the presence of asbestos-containing roofing products at the Prince Wellington Ngu hospital in Tonga have been broadcast. John Lee Taione, the Chief Medical Superintendent, has said there is evidence that children are being affected by exposure to asbestos from the leaking roof after heavy rain. Specialist contractors will remove the roof and other asbestos products in the hospital next month (October 2016). Unless provisions can be made to safeguard patients from toxic exposures during the work, doctors may need to treat patients at their homes. See: Children in Tongan hospital inhaling asbestos.

India’s Asbestos Policy

Sep 29, 2016

An online commentary documents the growth of activism amongst local people and campaigners in India to address hazards posed by exposures to asbestos despite the existence of powerful political and commercial vested interests. The author cites dangerous conditions in shipyards where end-of-life vessels are dismantled: “The condition of the workforce is worse than the worst industrial sector - the mining industry.” There is hope that the draft National Health Policy 2015 may introduce measures to “to prevent preventable but incurable diseases that are more prevalent in certain occupational groups.” See: Asbestos: more than 50 nations have banned it. Why is India refusing?

Asbestos Mobilization in Brazil

Sep 28, 2016

Brazil’s Ministry of Labor and the Inter-Union Department of Studies and Research of Health and Work Environments are hosting a two-day meeting on asbestos in Campinas in October 2016 to explore social and judicial factors related to asbestos use. Shortly after those sessions end, the Brazilian Association of the Asbestos-Exposed will hold an event to examine global strategies for: ending asbestos use, obtaining justice for the injured and ensuring decontamination of contaminated areas. See: Proibição do amianto no Brasil é foco de Congresso Internacional e Encontro de Vítimas em Campinas [Brazilian asbestos ban is the focus of international congress and victims’ meeting in Campinas].

Calls for Canada to Ban Asbestos

Sep 28, 2016

Citing data detailing the value of Canadian imports of asbestos brake materials, a feature on the website: Automotive News Canada has called for asbestos imports to be banned. The text states that: over the last twenty years, $100m has been spent importing asbestos brake pads and brakes to Canada; this material can contain up to 80% asbestos fiber; US dust measurement in garages found huge levels of asbestos contamination. For all these reasons, the author states, the import and use of all types of asbestos-containing products should be banned in Canada. See: Asbestos kills, but it's still allowed in Canadian brake parts.

Hefty Removal Bill for Landowners

Sep 28, 2016

Twenty property owners who bought land in an area in the Manly suburb of Sydney are facing huge bills for decontamination of bushland plots which are contaminated with asbestos. Fines of up to $250,000 plus $60,000 for each day the land is left contaminated could be imposed by the Environment Protection Authority. According to reports “No one is claiming responsibility for the asbestos dump” found on the property originally owned by the Metropolitan Aboriginal Local Land Council. See: Twenty landowners discover asbestos dumped on their land.

New Delhi Asbestos Workshop

Sep 25, 2016

On September 24-25, 2106 a workshop was held within the framework of the 3rd International Conference on Occupational and Environmental Health (ICOEH 2016) in New Delhi. The title of this workshop was: The Elimination of Asbestos Related Diseases in India. This session was organized by grassroots groups from India and Asia in partnership with the International Ban Asbestos Secretariat. Key speakers who addressed the event included: Sugio Furuya (Japan), Sanjiv Pandita (Hong Kong) and Yeyong Choi (Korea) from the Asian Ban Asbestos Network and Mohit Gupta from the Occupational and Environmental Network of India. See: Workshop Banner.

Asbestos Cancer Epidemic

Sep 25, 2016

In Mexico, hundreds of people die every year from the asbestos cancer, mesothelioma. Despite this, no asbestos ban has been implemented and the country remains Latin America’s leading manufacturer of asbestos products. Data reported show that the country is paying a high cost for the medical care of mesothelioma patients; in 2005, treatment of 500 mesothelioma patients cost the health sector 45 million pesos. Healthcare experts have repeatedly warned that without a national policy banning the production and use of asbestos, the asbestos cancer epidemic will persevere for decades to come. See: Aumenta Mesotelioma por Asbesto en México [Asbestos Cancer Increases in Mexico].

Rise in Asbestos Mortality despite Ban

Sep 25, 2016

An update on the incidence of mesothelioma in Sweden using data from 1961-2009 and information from a job exposure matrix found “a significantly increased risk of mesothelioma in 24 occupations, as well as a clear sex difference. Among men, increased risks of mesothelioma of the pleura were observed in male-dominated occupations, with the greatest increase among plumbers … Among women, an increased risk was observed in sewing workers, canning workers, packers, cleaners, and postmen.” In all cases, mesothelioma was associated with exposure to asbestos. See: Occupation and mesothelioma in Sweden. Updated incidence for men and women up to 27 years after asbestos ban.

Public Outrage over Asbestos Dumpsite

Sep 23, 2016

On the evening of September 21, 2016, hundreds of local people, provincial representatives and campaigners took part in a vigil to manifest widespread opposition to the construction of a new landfill for asbestos-cement waste in Ferrera, a town in the Italian commune of Sannazzaro de Burgondi, 45 km south-west of Milan. The site will be up and running in June 2017. Having created a large “no” out of candles on the piazza, the silent procession took to the streets after which speeches were given outlining legal, political and judicial strategies for forcing closure of the contentious site. See: Settecento fiaccole contro la discarica di amianto [700 torches against plans for asbestos landfill site].

Pro-asbestos Commentary

Sep 23, 2016

An online commentary in the Azerbaijan media has extolled the virtues of chrysotile (white) asbestos-containing products and announced that demand for them remains strong. Recapping facts about the history of the commercial exploitation of asbestos, the commentary cites misleading information as assurances that products containing it are safe to use. The name of the author of this text is not given nor is any data about the country’s levels of asbestos consumption. In 2014 and 2015 usage was reportedly 319 and 410 tonnes, respectively. See: Так ли опасен асбест? Стройматериал возвращается на рынки [Is asbestos dangerous? Building material returns to the markets].

Criminal Charges against Hospital

Sep 21, 2016

On September 28, 2016, a criminal trial will begin against the management of the University Hospital of Besançon which is accused of endangering the lives of others by failing to prevent toxic occupational exposures to asbestos from 2010 to 2013. Four trade unions have denounced multiple failures by the management since 2010 to ensure that adequate workplace safeguards to avoid asbestos exposures are in place. This is the first time that such charges have been brought against a health facility in France. See: Procès amiante à l'hôpital Minjoz : les syndicats accusent [Asbestos trial against Minjoz hospital: unions’ accusations].

Improving Diagnosis of Mesothelioma

Sep 21, 2016

A paper published this month in the British Medical Journal examined the efficacy of multidisciplinary teams in providing care for UK mesothelioma patients. The researchers examined evidence relating to the work in 2014 and 2015 of one UK specialist mesothelioma multidisciplinary team and found that more cases were diagnosed more accurately and faster through this collaborative process. The team’s deliberations were also effective in “providing recommendations for further investigations of treatments.” See: What is the role of a specialist regional mesothelioma multidisciplinary team meeting? A service evaluation of one tertiary referral centre in the UK.

Retraction of Asbestos-Paper

Sep 21, 2016

A paper entitled “Airborne asbestos exposures associated with the installation and removal of roofing products” which alleged that asbestos-containing roofing products could be safely used is being retracted by the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene (see: Journal will retract article denying harm from asbestos roofing). Some of the paper’s authors and the funder Cardno ChemRisk have known ties to the asbestos industry as did the journal’s approving editor. Criticisms of the content included accusations of misinformation and miscategorizations, as well as scientific and ethical improprieties. See: Journal to retract study declaring safety of asbestos roofs: Report.

Calls for Regional Asbestos Ban

Sep 20, 2016

Calls for a Pacific-wide ban on asbestos-containing products have been made following a fire at a hospital in Gizo, capital of the the Western Province of the Solomon Islands. The premises had been remediated by the Pacific Community's environmental programme (SPREP) prior to the July fire. Unfortunately, tests undertaken by local inspectors after the conflagration established that the debris was contaminated with asbestos. The topic of a Pacific-wide ban on the import of asbestos products will be raised at a SPREP meeting in Niue, an island country in the South Pacific Ocean, later this month (September 2016). See: Solomon's hospital fire sparks call for Pacific-wide ban on asbestos.

Asbestos Crayons Scandal

Sep 20, 2016

In 2015, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) reported that tests on imported crayons had proved positive for asbestos and requested that suppliers stop selling them. The tests on which these actions were based had been undertaken by an asbestos victims’ group in Victoria and a private company. Since the ACCC confirmed the contamination in 2015, no tests have been conducted, a failure which outraged activist Vicki Hamilton who castigated the authorities for relying on victims and unions to do their work: “They are government agencies. They should be able to do their own investigation.” See: ACCC hasn't tested for asbestos in crayons since traces found last year.

No More Asbestos Trains!

Sep 19, 2016

The minority populist political party “New Zealand First” has condemned a decision by KiwiRail to replace its North Island electric-powered trains with 15 Chinese diesel locomotives which are unreliable, of poor quality and contain asbestos products, and has called on Transport Minister Simon Bridges to intervene. The removal of asbestos in 48 similar locomotives imported from China by KiwiRail cost $12 million and more asbestos has been found since the first decontamination efforts were completed. See: Loco decision crippling.

British Asbestos Newsletter

Sep 19, 2016

The Summer 2016 issue of the British Asbestos Newsletter is now available online. The lead article details recent developments in the UK’s asbestos landscape including the latest data on mesothelioma mortality, recent asbestos publications, an update on the government’s plans for a national mesothelioma center and news of an investigation by the HSE into the possibility of illegal asbestos imports to the UK by Yuanda UK, part of a Chinese-owned conglomerate. The implications for asbestos claimants of long waits for information on employment records held by the HMRC is explored in another feature article. See: British Asbestos Newsletter Issue 101.

Asbestos Lawsuit against Government

Sep 19, 2016

The Japanese Government is being sued by former employees and family members of deceased workers from Nichias, a Japanese building materials manufacturer, in a multimillion yen action in the Gifu district court in central Japan. The case relates to injuries sustained as a result of asbestos exposures at the company’s Hashima factory in Gifu Prefecture. According to the complaint, toxic exposures took place from 1954 as a result of which the claimants contracted lung cancer and asbestosis. See: ニチアス元従業員の遺族、石綿被害で国賠提訴 計4290万円求め [Former Nichias employees and bereaved relatives issue asbestos lawsuit for a total of 42.9 million yen in damages].

Asbestos at British Military Base

Sep 17, 2016

On September 16, 2016, Communications and Works Minister Marios Demetriades (Cyprus) said that the removal of asbestos roofing at the abandoned British military estate of Berengaria in the western suburbs of Limassol is going to start this year; completion is expected in 2019. The work will be undertaken by the government at a cost exceeding €9m. The British government has agreed to transfer the asbestos waste to a landfill abroad. Commenting on the plans, Minister Demetriades said the work “must and should be done.” Local people hope that the remediated 260-acre site will be developed as a university campus and national park. See: Berengaria asbestos to be removed by 2019.

City leads Brazil’s Asbestos Struggle

Sep 16, 2016

An update on the website of the Social News Agency (Brazil) provides information about a series of upcoming asbestos initiatives next month and pays tribute to the ground-breaking Global Asbestos Congress which took place in the industrial town of Osasco, in São Paulo State in 2000. The events mentioned include an International Seminar on Asbestos: A Socio-Legal Approach on October 6-7 and a National Meeting of Family and Asbestos Victims on October 8. They will be held in the Brazilian city of Campinas. See: Campinas será “capital nacional” da luta contra o amianto e seus impactos [Campinas will be “national capital” of the fight against asbestos and its impacts].

Scotland: Action on Asbestos Disease

Sep 16, 2016

At a meeting this week, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon spoke with staff from Clydeside Action on Asbestos (CAA) about new resources to help GPs spot signs of asbestos-related diseases more quickly. The First Minister said: “This [asbestos] is an important issue for the people of Scotland, and I entirely agree that we have to make sure that there is information and support available for not only those who are living with an asbestos related disease, but also for our GPs.” NHS medical professionals have endorsed this educational resource and have agreed to signpost it on the website: See: Doctors to be given more training to spot the signs of asbestos-related conditions faster.

2018: Deadline for Asbestos Ban

Sep 14, 2016

Last week (September 7, 2016), Mahaweli Development and Environment Ministry Secretary Udaya Senevirathne told delegates at a climate change conference in Colombo that the Sri Lanka government is committed to banning asbestos in 2018 and eradicating asbestos contamination by 2024. A special committee has been tasked to investigate the health hazards posed by asbestos roofing sheets which are very popular in Sri Lanka. According to a government spokesman: “We have already asked the Moratuwa University to work out a report and hope to discuss the issue shortly.” See: Wiping Out Asbestos By 2024?

São Paulo Action on Asbestos

Sep 14, 2016

An action plan is being coordinated by bodies in the State of São Paulo to develop activities to raise public awareness of the trade in deadly products containing asbestos and to increase surveillance on companies which might be selling these products. Although São Paulo law (2007) “prohibits the use… of products, materials or devices containing any type of asbestos or, or other minerals that accidentally have asbestos fibers in its composition,” asbestos use is legal in the neighboring states of Minas Gerais and Mato Grosso do Sul. See: Vigilância alerta sobre comércio ilegal de produtos com Amianto [Surveillance warning about illegal trade of products containing asbestos].

Strasbourg Acquittal of Defendants

Sep 14, 2016

On September 8, 2016, the Criminal Court of Strasbourg acquitted all the defendants at the asbestos trial relating to toxic exposures at the Strasbourg premises of the European Parliament during work carried out in 2013 over a two week period despite the suspected presence of asbestos. It is believed that during that time, 300+ people could have inhaled asbestos fibers. Charges were dropped against the defendants who included: a master builder, a plastering company and the site safety officer. See: Strasbourg: Tous les prévenus relaxés au terme du procès de l'amiante au Parlement européen [Strasbourg: All defendants acquitted at European Parliament asbestos trial].

Asbestos Removal Program

Sep 14, 2016

On September 8, 2016 children went back to school in the Portuguese city of Viseu. Previously the head of the municipality Almeida Henriques had promised that asbestos roofing material would be remediated at all the city’s schools. Work has been carried out so far on three schools: S. João de Lourosa, Abraveses de Varzim and Pinheiro (Evos Santos); safety measures have been implemented at two other schools – Tondelinha and Povolide – to protect children and staff prior to the removal of the toxic roofing material. See: Escolas de Viseu livres de amianto no arranque deste ano letivo [Free Viseu schools of asbestos by the start of this school year].