News Item Archive

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Displaying first 25 items in reverse date order (default)
 

Editorial on Asbestos Compensation

Feb 5, 2016

As recent verdicts deemed the Japan Government negligent for failing to act on the asbestos hazard and as manufacturers of building materials have also now been held liable, this editorial urges that guilty parties act urgently to make restitution to all the injured many of whom are suffering from asbestos diseases which can cause death in a very short time. The editorial calls on the government and others to collaborate on establishing an asbestos fund which would compensate various categories of injured people including asbestos mill workers, construction workers and the self-employed. See: Widening asbestos compensation.
 

Hearing Considers Safe Use Policy

Feb 5, 2016

On Tuesday, February 9, 2016 a court hearing will take place in Bogotá, Colombia during which asbestos vested interests will seek to normalize the use of asbestos, an acknowledged carcinogen, contesting growing support in the country for asbestos to be banned on the grounds of protecting public and occupational health. Representing asbestos stakeholders, lawyer Ramiro Bejarano will, it is believed, argue that no one in Colombia has been injured by their exposure to asbestos and that asbestos can be used safely. See: El amor es más fuerte que el cancer [Love is stronger than cancer].
 

New Publications about Mesothelioma

Feb 5, 2016

Six papers (from 20) in the latest issue of an Italian medical journal look at issues relating to malignant mesothelioma, including: causation, treatment, links to asbestos use and national incidences of diseases. Of particular interest were the following: The global health dimensions of asbestos and asbestos-related diseases; Malignant mesotheliomas with unknown exposure to asbestos: a re-examination; Asbestos at the time of the First World War. The last paper reports that from 1912-17, the writer Franz Kafka was co-owner of a small asbestos factory in Prague. I bet you didn’t know that! See: La Medicina del Lavoro [Journal of Labor Medicine].
 

New Publications about Mesothelioma

Feb 5, 2016

Six papers in the latest issue of an Italian medical journal look at issues relating to malignant mesothelioma, including: causation, treatment, links to asbestos use and national incidences of diseases. Of particular interest were the following: Malignant mesotheliomas with unknown exposure to asbestos: a re-examination; Asbestos at the time of the First World War; The global health dimensions of asbestos and asbestos-related diseases. The 2nd paper reports that from 1912-17, the writer Franz Kafka was co-owner of a small asbestos factory in Prague. I bet you didn’t know that! See: La Medicina del Lavoro [Journal of Labor Medicine].
 

New Regime for Asbestos Removal

Feb 4, 2016

From April 4, 2016, the Health and Safety at Work Asbestos Regulations will incorporate new rules for New Zealand asbestos removal companies, Certificate of Competence holders, builders and other tradespeople who work with asbestos. Tighter regulations will mandate that licenses be obtained by all those who undertake asbestos removal work including builders, roofers and other non-specialist contractors. Only draft guidelines are currently available; a finalized guidance note will be released in due course. Further restrictions for this work are expected to be implemented in 2018. See: The Regulations around working with asbestos will change from 4 April 2016.
 

Under-recognition of Asbestos Victims

Feb 4, 2016

Of the 150,000 workers “officially” exposed to asbestos in Spain, only 40,000 are registered with the national occupational health surveillance program which is, say the Confederación Sindical de Comisiones Obreras – Spain’s largest trade union – woefully inadequate. There were 2,474 companies that processed asbestos with up to 38,642 employees at any one time in the 15 regions which have so far submitted data. Many thousands more will have been at risk elsewhere before the use of asbestos was banned in 2002. See: Sólo el 2% de los afectados por amianto es reconocido por la Seguridad Social [Only 2% of those affected by asbestos are recognized by Social Security].
 

Victims Defeat Asbestos Company

Feb 3, 2016

At the end of January, 2016, a Regional Labor Court in Rio de Janeiro handed down an important decision in a civil action which recognized the right of ABREA, the national association of the asbestos-exposed, to represent victims in a civil lawsuit against Eternit S.A. for hazardous asbestos exposures to workers at its Rio de Janeiro Guadalupe plant; toxic exposures to family members will also be considered. The injured are seeking financial restitution as well as moral damages and comprehensive healthcare costs. See: Mauro Menezes faz defesa que restaura processo da Abrea-RJ contra a Eternit [Defense by Mauro Menezes restores ABREA-Rio de Janeiro lawsuit against Eternit].
 

Paper Survey of English Schools

Feb 3, 2016

On January 28, 2016, the Education Funding Agency sent a 7-page questionnaire for gathering data on asbestos in schools to headteachers throughout England. The deadline for submissions is February 29, 2016. The ten brief questions in the survey focus on the presence, condition and location of asbestos-containing products, the personnel, protocol and measures used for managing the asbestos, the level of asbestos awareness of staff and measures for informing at-risk personnel such as building contractors about the risk. The contentious HSE advice to leave asbestos in place is cited as standard guidance. See: Asbestos in schools data collection.
 

Canada’s Asbestos Schizophrenia

Feb 3, 2016

For decades, the Canadian government denied that the use of asbestos could be harmful. The fact that the country was the world’s biggest supplier of chrysotile (white asbestos) fiber was a powerful incentive for the government to adopt this position. Even though the last asbestos mine is shut, Canada’s asbestos policy lags well behind that of other developed nations. News released today that the use of asbestos materials in the construction and renovation of federal buildings continues has been called “appalling” by union officials who are demanding a national ban be adopted immediately. See: Federal government still using asbestos in new construction.
 

Protests over Asbestos Injuries

Feb 2, 2016

On February 2, 2016, 1,000 protestors including asbestos-injured construction workers and family members demonstrated outside the Tokyo premises of Nichias Corporation, following a landmark ruling last week in the Kyoto District Court which found that product manufacturers could be held responsible for asbestos-related injuries amongst construction workers. Nichias executives, as well as those from other manufacturing companies where rallies also took place, refused to meet the protestors. Altogether, protests were held outside the premises of ten former asbestos manufacturing companies. See: Picture from February 2, 2016 demonstration outside premises of Nichias Corporation.
 

Asbestos Outreach in Nepal

Feb 2, 2016

An article detailing work on quantifying and engaging with the massive asbestos challenges in Nepal is included in the latest newsletter issued by the Asian Network for the Rights of Occupational and Environmental Victims. The text details a legal challenge mounted by an asbestos manufacturer against the national asbestos ban which took effect on June 20, 2015. It also outlines plans for an ambitious program for 2016 which includes steps to: monitor sales, identify victims, conduct environmental and soil sampling and implement measures to raise public awareness of the asbestos hazard. See: January 2016 Newsletter. Asian Network for the Rights of Occupational and Environmental Victims.
 

Third Wave of Asbestos Disease

Feb 1, 2016

A paper just published in the Medical Journal of Australia by respiratory physician Bill Musk and other clinicians advises doctors to consult patients regarding their likely exposure to asbestos as many will have been exposed directly or as bystanders to fibers liberated during work to repair, renovate or demolish contaminated buildings. Asbestos-containing construction materials, such as Fibro (asbestos-cement), were used in many Australian homes built in the 20th century. Exposures such as these are responsible for many of the cases being diagnosed as part of the 3rd wave of asbestos-related diseases. See: Doctors alert over asbestos.
 

Asbestos Roofing Removal Subsidies

Feb 1, 2016

From January 1, 2016 subsidies have become available to private individuals and agricultural businesses for the removal of asbestos roofing in the Netherlands; subsidized removal work must be completed by December 31, 2019. Owners of buildings that have asbestos roofing must remove this roofing prior to 2024 which is when government prohibitions come into force. There are strict guidelines for the removal of asbestos, with set protocols for situations in which operatives might be exposed to asbestos during refurbishment, renovation or demolition work. See: Asbestos Roofing Prohibited as of 2024.
 

Court Victory for Construction Workers

Jan 30, 2016

During a month of legal victories by Japanese asbestos plaintiffs, yesterday (Jan. 29, 2016) the Kyoto District Court ordered the Government and building material manufacturers to pay compensation of 216 million yen (US$1.78m) to 27 construction workers and their families for illnesses contracted after occupational asbestos exposures. This was the first Japanese court ruling to recognize the responsibility of building material manufacturers for asbestos injuries; nine companies were told to pay a total of 110 million yen (US$908,000) to 23 plaintiffs. See: State, building supply makers ordered to pay asbestos compensation.
 

Reuse of Asbestos Waste

Jan 30, 2016

On January 27, 2016, people living on Bushrod island, near Liberia’s capital of Monrovia, reported that “huge quantities” of second-hand asbestos-containing material from a derelict factory belonging to Cemenco – Liberia’s only cement manufacturer – had been sold off cheaply for use as landfill and soil protection to community members. Pleased with her purchase, one local said: “the Asbestos has been very useful for us… We do not experience flood or mud in the front of our homes any longer when it rains.” Cemenco has been at the center of other environmental controversies over the release of high levels of dust into areas by its processing operations. See: Cemenco’s Asbestos Dumped in Communities.
 

US Asbestos Trade Data

Jan 29, 2016

Statistics just released by the United States Geological Survey (USGS) in its Minerals Commodity Survey 2016 show US asbestos consumption in 2015 of 360 tons, a 12% decrease on the previous year. This decline continues the downward trend in usage observed since 2011. Imported asbestos fiber is nowadays almost exclusively used for the production of diaphragms for the chloralkali industry. Virtually all the chrysotile (white) asbestos imported by the US in 2015 came from Brazil. No asbestos has been sourced from Canada since 2011; for decades, Canada had supplied the vast majority of asbestos used in the US. See: Minerals Commodity Survey 2016.
 

Asbestos Risk to Government Workers

Jan 29, 2016

Civil servants working at the Canada Revenue Agency's (CRA) Ottawa Taxation Center are up in arms about multiple and persistent failures of their employer to provide accurate and timely information about the occupational asbestos hazard. Denying these accusations, a CRA spokesman said that over the last 18 years the workforce had been informed about the presence of asbestos materials “on multiple occasions.” Earlier this month, staff were notified that “minor remediation” of hazardous materials would be carried out between November 1, 2015 [and] January 31, 2016. See: Ottawa Taxation Centre workers astonished after asbestos found in ceiling.
 

Action on Asbestos Imports from China

Jan 29, 2016

Three types of illegal asbestos imports from China have been found on sale in Pescara, Italy by officials from the Ministry of Health. Tests undertaken by regional authorities identified the presence of compressed white asbestos fibers as insulation for the contraband thermos flasks. The Ministry of Health ordered they be withdrawn from sale and issued an alert to warn the public of the hazard posed by these products. Asbestos was banned in Italy in 1992. See: Thermos con amianto: nuovi ritiri a Pescara. L’allerta lanciata dal Ministero della salute per due prodotti cinesi [Thermos with asbestos: new withdrawals in Pescara. Warning by Ministry of Health over products from China].
 

Concerns over Bank Demolition

Jan 28, 2016

Manila’s Mayor Joseph Estrada has been warned about the likely presence of asbestos in the old Philippine National Bank building in Escolta, Manila which is scheduled for demolition. Highlighting the known health hazards posed by exposures to asbestos, Alan Tanjusay, of the Associated Labor Unions (ALU) and Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP), recalled that “contractors who built such iconic buildings in Manila during the 1960s generally used asbestos materials to bolster the structure.” See: Group urges Estrada to ensure PNB building’s safe demolition.
 

Confronting a Deadly Mining Legacy

Jan 28, 2016

South Africa’s Department of Mineral Resources is coordinating work on a program to rehabilitate and close 600+ asbestos mines and shafts scattered throughout the countryside. Commenting about his company’s involvement with nine abandoned asbestos mine sites in the Northern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and Limpopo, Quantity Surveyor Gordon Bulmer reported that three of the sites are now closed and work is ongoing on six others. See: South African asbestos mines rehabilitation project makes good progress. For more on this situation, also see: South Africa's Asbestos Crisis.
 

Asbestos: The Imminent Hazard

Jan 28, 2016

Eighteen asbestos-lined aluminium containers in a squalid “asbestos-lined ghetto” just outside Naples are home to 300 people rehoused by the Italian government after the 1980 earthquake in Irpinia, southern Italy. The story of Mario, one of the residents, is told in a pictorial feature uploaded on January 27, 2016 which describes him and the others as “forgotten” and “invisible.” The asbestos in these metal boxes is old and weathered; as it deteriorates, fibers are released into the air which are inhaled by residents as well as others living and working in the area. Cancer is the most common cause of death in the ghetto but there are no official statistics. See: In Pictures: Inside Naples' Asbestos-Lined Ghetto.
 

Breakdown of Asbestos Management

Jan 27, 2016

Although asbestos management plans had been in place at 12 schools in New Brunswick, Canada since 2004, no annual inspections had been carried out. On January 25, 2016, parents and staff at the schools in the Anglophone North School District were informed of a “breach of the inspection protocol for asbestos.” District Superintendent Beth Stymiest explained that inspections ordered after the breach of regulations had been discovered were completed on January 20. Remediation work is to be undertaken at: Tide Head School, Lord Beaverbrook School, Jacquet River School, Bathurst High School, and Dalhousie Regional High School. See: Anglophone North reveals failure to test for asbestos in 12 schools.
 

Surprises in Asbestos Surveys

Jan 27, 2016

Commenting on unusual finds during asbestos surveys, a colleague this week sent the photo below of a Chubb Safe Cabinet incorporating asbestos insulation board (AIB), commonly used in the UK from the 1930s until the 1980s. As can be seen, the board has suffered damage in use. AIB contained up to 40% amosite (brown) asbestos; sometimes the asbestos used was a mixture of amosite and chrysotile (white) asbestos but crocidolite (blue) asbestos was also used on occasion. AIB was popular for its insulation and fireproofing properties. Some types of safes and filing cabinets contained asbestos. See: Photo of open safe.
 

Mesothelioma Trends in Australia

Jan 27, 2016

An analysis of data from more than 11,000 Australians with mesothelioma during the period 1982 to 2009 was used to predict trends up until 2030; according to the researchers: “Australia's malignant mesothelioma incidence rates appear to have reached maximum levels but with differences over time by age, gender and tumour location. Improvements over time in survival provide a glimpse of hope for this almost invariably fatal disease.” A 16% reduction in excess mortality rate up to five years after diagnosis was observed in 2009 compared with 1999. See: Incidence and survival trends for malignant pleural and peritoneal mesothelioma, Australia, 1982–2009.
 

Progress in Olivetti Asbestos Proceedings

Jan 26, 2016

Yesterday (January 25, 2016) has been called the “Day of Survivors” by those attending court proceedings in Ivrea where Olivetti executives stand accused over asbestos workplace deaths. The only living Olivetti employees with mesothelioma – Pierangelo Ferassa Bovio, 74 and Luigia Perello, 69 – gave their testimonies during the second day of the trial as rumors began circulating of a settlement reached by Telecom Italy of lawsuits brought by the families of four dead Olivetti workers against the company. It was said that compensation of ~ €150 000 per person, for a total of nearly €2m, was agreed. See: Telecom risarcisce le vittime dell’amianto all’Olivetti [Telecom compensate Olivetti asbestos victims].