News Item Archive

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Displaying first 25 items in reverse date order (default)
 

International Mesothelioma Congress 2016

Nov 5, 2014

At the November 5, 2014 meeting of the Parliamentary Asbestos Sub-Group, Laurie Kazan-Allen informed MPs and delegates that the UK had won the bid to host the 2016 meeting of the International Mesothelioma Interest Group (IMIG), a premier organization for researchers, clinicians and scientists working on mesothelioma issues. The official announcement said that the “meeting will address the entire patient pathway and look beyond the scientific topics alone.” The feedback received after the House of Commons meeting was positive; there was a great deal of enthusiasm about how stakeholders could take part in the proceedings and encourage participation. See: IMIG 2016 announcement.
 

NGO Discloses Hospital Scandal

Nov 5, 2014

Asbestos contamination in hospitals in the UK, France and Australia has caused asbestos-related disease amongst nurses, doctors and hospital workers. New research by the Seoul-based Asian Citizen's Center for Environment and Health has confirmed that samples of ceiling tiles taken in October 2014 from 16 general hospitals in Korean provincial towns including Busan, Daegu, Gwangju tested positive for contamination with white (chrysotile) and brown (amosite) asbestos. The researchers found that the tiles exceeded permissible levels by up to 70 times. See: Asbestos found in 16 provincial hospitals.
 

New Asbestos Debate in Colombia

Nov 4, 2014

For decades the asbestos lobby has maintained a stranglehold on Colombia’s debate on asbestos. This week, a series of presentations and discussions will allow new opinions to be voiced detailing the national legacy of asbestos mining, processing and consumption. Experts from Latin America, North America and Europe will present research findings and update delegates on state-of-the-art technologies which are both cost effective and safer. The ethics of using asbestos profits to fund art collections will be considered. This initiative has been organized by ban asbestos campaigners in collaboration with academic institutions, scientific, medical and technical experts. See: Asbestos: Art, Science and Policy.
 

Mesothelioma Incidence in Vietnam

Nov 4, 2014

The absence of data on asbestos cancers is often used as proof that this carcinogen can be used safely under controlled conditions. Vietnam is a major consuming country which, despite the development of alternative technologies, has not banned asbestos. Research reported at an asbestos cancer conference in October 2014, documented 148 cases of the asbestos cancer mesothelioma in Vietnam. The authors believe this figure is “likely to underestimate the true number of incident cases…” See: Estimating the incidence of malignant mesothelioma in Vietnam: a pilot descriptive population-based cancer registry study.
 

New Occupational Cancer Campaign

Nov 3, 2014

At a Parliamentary event on November 3 a campaign by the Institute of Occupational Health (IOSH) was launched to reduce the incidence of occupational cancers. In the UK, workplace exposures account for 8,000 deaths a year of which half are due to the “biggest work cancer killer, asbestos.” The Health and Safety Executive estimates that 1.8 million Britons remain at risk of occupational exposure to asbestos; although, the majority of those at high risk are construction or maintenance workers or tradespeople, people working in older buildings such as department stores, schools and hospitals are also at risk. See: No Time to Lose.
 

Another Asbestos Scandal Unfolding

Nov 3, 2014

It seems that not a day goes by without another asbestos scandal hitting the press in Australia. A program broadcast by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation revealed warnings by trade unionists and lawyers about the presence of deteriorating and friable asbestos-containing products in hospitals throughout the country. Commenting on the situation, one expert said: “Wherever there was heat, wherever there was steam, there was asbestos.” Contamination has been identified in two major Sydney hospitals: Westmead and Royal North Shore. See: Hospitals in Australia riddled with asbestos and pose serious health risk, union officials say.
 

Asbestos in Talcum Powder Warning

Nov 2, 2014

Following extensive research undertaken in three U.S. laboratories, public health experts have issued warnings about the hazards of using talcum powder products contaminated with asbestos. A year of testing has established that the deadly contaminant can find its way into lung tissue and thereby create a risk of asbestos cancer. The study, which was published online in the International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health in October, 2014, substantiates the theory that some ovarian cancers are due to exposure to asbestos in talcum-based products. See: Study: Cosmetic talc products carry asbestos peril.
 

Cancer Spike near Brisbane Factory?

Nov 1, 2014

Another asbestos scandal has made its way into the Australian media. After several secret settlements of asbestos cancer cases, news is emerging of a high incidence of disease amongst people who lived near a former asbestos-cement factory in the Brisbane suburb of Gaythorne. The Wunderlich plant, which operated from 1936 to 1983, spewed contaminated air and dumped asbestos waste in the neighborhood. Queensland’s Minister of Health has announced that investigators will review medical records of asbestos cancer patients linked to local addresses. See: Investigation into links between asbestos-related cancers and Brisbane suburbs near factories.
 

Scientists Call for Global Ban

Nov 1, 2014

In a recently published paper, scientists analyse national asbestos data and conclude that the majority of the global asbestos-related disease burdens is carried by Europe as a result of heavy asbestos consumption during the 20th century. The authors raise concerns about future asbestos mortality in countries still using asbestos and warn that “attempts to reduce exposure without a concurrent reduction in overall use are insufficient to control risk; asbestos bans should be in place in all countries to eliminate asbestos-related disease.” Summaries of this paper are available in five languages. See: Asbestos: use, bans and disease burden in Europe.
 

Asbestos Event in Colombia

Oct 31, 2014

A seven-minute promotional video to raise public awareness of a landmark series of meetings due to take place next week in Bogota is now available for viewing online. The footage includes information about the asbestos hazard as well as interviews with experts from the U.S., Chile and Colombia who are scheduled to take part. Also in this feature are segments from an interview with Dr. Maria Neira of the World Health Organization (WHO) who reasserts the WHO’s position on asbestos. She clearly states that the best way to reduce asbestos-related diseases is to end the consumption of all types of asbestos. See: Promocional Asbesto [Asbestos Promotion].
 

No Swiss Fund for Asbestos Victims!

Oct 30, 2014

Today (October 30, 2014), an announcement has been made that the Swiss Government does not intend to establish a fund to compensate asbestos victims. Despite campaigns by trade unionists and victims, the Government maintains that the responsibility for compensating the injured remains with negligent corporations and the Swiss insurance system. Following a European Court ruling, the government will, however, increase the statute of limitations for personal injury cases to allow for the long latency periods of asbestos diseases. See: Pas de fonds public pour les victimes de l'amiante [No public funding for asbestos victims].
 

New UK Asbestos Cancer Data

Oct 29, 2014

An HSE publication released today entitled Health and Safety Statistics Annual Report for Great Britain 2013/2014 highlights the devastating impact of asbestos exposures on the health of British citizens. Amongst key statistics cited are: 2,535 mesothelioma deaths due to past asbestos exposures occurred in 2012; more than half of all occupational lung cancer deaths are caused by mesothelioma and asbestos-related lung cancer; 2,145 new cases of mesothelioma were assessed for Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit in 2013 compared with 2125 in 2012. See: HSE Statistics eBulletin – October 2014.
 

Revisions to Asbestos Guidelines

Oct 29, 2014

On October 24, 2014, the Hong Kong Government issued a revised Code of Practice (CoP) for Safety and Health at Work with Asbestos which was required following the implementation in April 2014 of the Hong Kong asbestos ban. According to an official spokesperson: “The amended Regulation bans (a) asbestos spraying; (b) the use of asbestos-containing insulations; and (c) works with amphibole and chrysotile asbestos, except asbestos removal or disposal works.” The revised CoP can be downloaded from the a government website See: Revised Code of Practice for Safety and Health at Work with Asbestos issued today.
 

Government Acts on Asbestos Scandal

Oct 28, 2014

The Australian Federal Cabinet has announced today that a $1 billion loan is being given to the Canberra government to demolish 1,021 asbestos-contaminated homes in the capital. This news will come as a huge relief to people whose homes are now viewed as death traps due to the presence of “Mr. Fluffy” insulation which was sprayed in these properties 50 years ago. In the 1980s and 1990s the Commonwealth spent $100m on remediation and declared the homes safe; unfortunately, despite their efforts, the hazard persisted. See: Over a thousand homes to be demolished to end “Mr Fluffy” asbestos crisis.
 

Claimant Wins at Supreme Court

Oct 27, 2014

On October 22, the UK’s Supreme Court ruled that lorry driver Percy McDonald was entitled to compensation from the occupiers of Battersea Power Station even though they were not his employer. Whilst Mr. McDonald was collecting loads from Battersea, he would visit the turbine halls; the defendants labelled his exposure as that of “a mere spectator” or “sightseer.” The landmark judgment will allow people exposed to asbestos while working for another employer to claim compensation from the owners of the factory where their exposure took place. See: Supreme Court victory for mesothelioma sufferers: Asbestos cancer victims can apply for compensation.
 

Failure to Recognize Asbestos Cancers

Oct 25, 2014

A paper published last week detailed a gross under-recognition of asbestos cancers in Spain. When mortality rates of mesothelioma and lung cancer were compared in Spain and the EU, it was discovered that over 93% of cases had not been acknowledged. “In Europe for the year 2000, asbestos-related occupational cancer rates ranged from 0.04 per 105 employees in Spain to 7.32 per 105 employees in Norway.” The authors called on the authorities to take action to investigate cases of these diseases being treated by the Spanish Healthcare System. See: Asbestos-related occupational cancers compensated under the Spanish National Insurance System, 1978-2011.
 

Government to Settle Asbestos Claims

Oct 23, 2014

A Japanese Minister apologized on October 21, 2014 for deaths caused by asbestos exposure and announced that following the Supreme Court ruling of October 9, 2014, the government is anxious to settle claims brought by the injured and surviving family members. Health, Labor and Welfare Minister Yasuhisa Shiozaki told a press conference that offers will be made to settle the lawsuit pending in the Osaka High Court related to exposures at asbestos factories in the Sennan area between 1958 and 1971. See: Gov't to promptly settle Osaka High Court asbestos suit.
 

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.