News Item Archive

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Displaying first 25 items in reverse date order (default)
 

EPA’s Asbestos Scandal

Aug 9, 2018

A flurry of articles appeared this week highlighting the effects of the change in direction by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regarding the use of asbestos, a carcinogenic substance which President Trump has defended on multiple occasions. In his book: The Art of the Comeback (1997), Trump wrote that asbestos was “100 percent safe, once applied.” A Rolling Stone feature entitled “More Asbestos! More Asbestos! More Asbestos!” highlighted an episode of The Simpsons in which those words were the rallying cry for a school election campaign. See: More Asbestos! More Asbestos! More Asbestos!.
 

Asbestos-free Classrooms!

Aug 9, 2018

On August 10, 2018, South Africa’s Minister of Environmental Affairs, Dr. Edna Molewa will officially present five “asbestos-free” classrooms in Sealane Primary School to the local community in Mafefe village, Limpopo Province under a project run by the Department of Environmental Affairs to eliminate asbestos exposure of communities and raise public awareness about the health and environmental hazards posed by asbestos contamination. See: South Africa: Minister of Environmental Affairs to Officially Launch and Handover 5 “Asbestos - Free” Classrooms at Sealane Primary School and a Road at Mafefe.
 

British Asbestos Newsletter

Aug 9, 2018

The Summer 2018 issue of the British Asbestos Newsletter is now available online. The lead article entitled “Britain’s Asbestos Landscape 2018” provides a timely update on mobilization for asbestos justice, the availability of new asbestos cancer data and the importance of specialized nursing for mesothelioma patients. The second article reviewed presentations made and discussions that ensued at the June 26, 2018 Parliamentary Asbestos Seminar of the House of Commons. The keynote presentation was made by one of the world’s leading ban asbestos campaigners, Brazilian engineer and asbestos activist Fernanda Giannasi. See: Issue 107, British Asbestos Newsletter.
 

Grassroots Asbestos Initiative

Aug 9, 2018

The most recent issue (April-June, 2018) of the quarterly newsletter published by the Bangladesh Occupational Safety, Health and Environment Foundation (OSHE) included a feature about asbestosis diagnosis camps for shipbreaking workers – known to be at high risk of occupational asbestos exposures – which were held in Chattogram, Bangladesh on March 30, April 13 and 27, and May 4, 2018. The ten person medical team, which was headed by Dr. Faizul Ahsan Shubro, examined seventy-five patients; tests results are pending. See: OSHE Newsletter (April-June 2018).
 

Asbestos Propaganda

Aug 8, 2018

On August 6, 2018, the day before Ukraine’s Ministry of Health returned to court to progress litigation seeking to reinstate the national ban on asbestos, an online article in Russian was uploaded to a Ukraine news platform which downplayed the human health hazard posed by asbestos exposures with misinformation and lies including the following: chrysotile asbestos does not deteriorate, numerous studies have shown that exposure to chrysotile is not harmful, chrysotile asbestos dissolves “easily even in a weakly acidic medium (such as is found in human lungs),” and exposure to asbestos poses “minimal risk.” See: Асбест и его влияние на человека. Стоит ли опасаться асбеста? [Asbestos and its effect on man. Should I be afraid of asbestos?].
 

Asbestos Comeback?

Aug 8, 2018

Under a rule which came into force on June 1, 2018 enacted by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) – Significant New Rule (SNUR) – the use of new asbestos-containing products has become a real possibility. SNUR, which gives the upper hand to chemical manufacturers, allows producers to apply on a case-by-case basis for permission to incorporate asbestos, a substance banned in most other industrialized nations, into products. As shocking as this is, it just another one of the outrageous actions being taken to roll back health and safety protections under the Trump Administration. See: EPA is now allowing asbestos back into manufacturing.
 

Economic Burden of Asbestos Diseases

Aug 8, 2018

In June 2018, Australia’s Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency published a report, entitled The economic burden of asbestos-related disease, which assessed the nation’s economic and social costs in 2015 due to asbestos-related diseases at A$192 million for hospital and primary care costs and A$321million for indirect costs due to lost production resulting from premature deaths. The figure estimated for the monetary value of lost quality of life in 2015 was A$10.8 billion. It is of interest to note that this report estimated that there were 5.2 cases of asbestos-related lung cancer for each case of mesothelioma. See: The economic burden of asbestos-related disease.
 

Vietnam’s Asbestos Phase-Out

Aug 6, 2018

Pursuant to the order by the Prime Minister of Vietnam that the use of asbestos in manufactured construction materials be ended by 2023 at the latest, grassroots initiatives are being implemented by groups such as the “Center for Consulting, Transfer of Science and Technology, Environmental Protection for Ethnic Minorities in Mountainous Areas” of the Vietnam Academy of Ethnic Minorities to raise public awareness of the asbestos health hazard in more remote locales. Simultaneously, government support is being considered for the construction of asbestos-free homes for ethnic minorities. See: Cần sớm ngừng sử dụng amiăng [Asbestos use to stop soon].
 

Green Remediation Initiative

Aug 6, 2018

On August 2, 2018, Gianna Girotto, the President of the Italian Senate’s Industry Commission confirmed the government’s plans to restore tax incentives for the replacement of asbestos-cement roofing by the installation of photovoltaic panels to produce renewable energy. This announcement was made as a delegation of campaigners presented Minister of the Environment Sergio Costa with the #BastaAmianto petition signed by 55,000 Italians. In Italy there are between 1 and 2.5 billion square meters of asbestos-cement roofing on sheds, public and private buildings and other structures. See: Decreto rinnovabili, ci sarà un bonus amianto per il fotovoltaico [Renewable Decree, there will be an asbestos bonus for photovoltaics].
 

Transition from Asbestos Use

Aug 6, 2018

A commentary based on a session held at the 12th Brazilian Congress of Collective Health which took place recently in Rio de Janeiro drew on testimony by leading campaigners for the rights of asbestos victims to secure healthcare, social justice, environmental remediation and compensation. Despite the legal victory achieved by the 2017 Supreme Court ruling which declared the use of asbestos unconstitutional, much work remains to be done in the face of intransigent companies such as Dow Chemical which is refusing to transition from outlawed asbestos technology. See: Banimento do amianto: as conquistas de uma luta que precisa perdurar [Asbestos ban: the achievements of a struggle that must endure].
 

Asbestos Remediation in Schools

Aug 3, 2018

The Ministry of Education for Gyeongbuk Province, Korea has embarked upon asbestos removal work at 50 small schools during the summer vacation; the premises chosen each have relatively small amounts of contamination which can be remediated over a short period of time. Once the work has been completed, a monitoring team – composed of school officials, parents, external experts and representatives of private organizations – will inspect the premises. If there are findings of contamination, the removal process will be repeated until confirmation is received that the remediation work has succeeded. See: 여름방학 기간 학교 석면제거 [Eliminating asbestos at schools during the summer].
 

Fighting for Asbestos Justice

Aug 3, 2018

The 10,000 residents of the former asbestos mining town of Bom Jesus da Serra, in Brazil’s Bahia State, are engaged in a battle for social and environmental justice as they fight for the damage done to their town to be recognized and remediated by the guilty parties including the company which profited from the operations of the now derelict chrysotile (white) asbestos mine. From being passive supplicants townspeople have become activists campaigning for justice for the lives lost and damage done to those employed in the mine, their relatives and local people who were exposed to environmental contamination. See: A cidade onde nevava Amianto [The city where Asbestos was snowing].
 

Legal Milestone

Aug 1, 2018

A 43-page decision handed down on July 31, 2018 by the Court of Appeal in the case brought by Graham Dring on behalf of the Asbestos Victims Support Group (the Forum) against Cape Intermediate Holdings Ltd. (Cape) – as successor to Cape PLC, formerly one of the UK’s largest asbestos conglomerates – upheld the right of the Forum to access key documents which detail Cape’s “true knowledge of the dangers of asbestos products.” These documents may prove vital for people seeking to obtain recompense for injuries by throwing “light on the way early knowledge of the dangers of asbestos was hidden from the public.” See: Landmark Court of Appeal success for asbestos victim.
 

Thinking the Unthinkable!

Aug 1, 2018

A commentary published on July 31, 2018 asserted that under the pro-asbestos Trump administration, the use of carcinogenic asbestos products might increase; the Environmental Protection Agency’s “Significant New Use Rule” enacted on June 1, 2018, allows companies to petition the federal government for permission to use new asbestos-containing products on a case-by-case basis, even though a 2016 amendment to the Toxic Substances Control Act mandated that the EPA prioritize a risk evaluation of the use of asbestos and 9 other substances. See: Under Trump’s EPA, asbestos might be making a comeback.
 

Sicily’s Asbestos Epidemic

Aug 1, 2018

Former Eternit worker Maria Imbesi has become the 150th person from the same factory to die from an asbestos disease; at the age of 82 years old, she succumbed to asbestosis as did her husband some years previously. She had worked on the production line at the Sacelit asbestos-cement plant in Sicily – known locally as the “factory of death” – for nearly three years; the factory manufactured asbestos pipes, flues, tank lids and other building products. She had been diagnosed with asbestosis in 2001. See: Amianto: 150esimo morto alla ex Sacelit [Asbestos: 150th death at the former Sacelit].
 

Asbestos Dumping: A Legacy Issue

Aug 1, 2018

Council workers in Newcastle City in New South Wales, Australia combed Stockton beach in hazmat suits last month collecting pieces of asbestos-containing debris washed ashore even as local people continued to use the beach as normal. The toxic flotsam is believed to have been produced by the worsening erosion of Stockton landfill sites. A Newcastle Council spokeswoman said: “The potential asbestos containing pieces pose a very low public health risk and council is removing them on a daily basis to reduce the risk even further, allowing Stockton beach to remain open to the community.” See: Newcastle City Council workers in Hazmat suits patrol Stockton beach daily for asbestos as new tip site uncovered.
 

NY Explosion: Assigning Fault

Jul 30, 2018

The asbestos fallout from the July 19, 2018 explosion of an asbestos-lined steam pipe in Manhattan was just one of a series of such events to have occurred since 1989. Despite knowledge that the asbestos-lined fifty-year old pipes which make up the 100 miles of steam lines under Manhattan were deteriorating, no action had been taken by the New York City administration or the Con Edison utility company. In a July 27th article, author G, Dunkel calls for the immediate replacement of all the asbestos pipes. See: Crumbling infrastructure spewed deadly asbestos.
 

Replacing Asbestos-Cement Pipes

Jul 30, 2018

On July 24, 2018 the local authorities in Pretoria handed over a construction site to contractors who will replace deteriorating 50-year old asbestos cement pipes in three areas east of Pretoria city over the coming months under the Ashlea Gardens Water Pipe Project. According to Darryl Moss, a spokesman for the utility company: “The existing water reticulation system … has reached the end of its design lifespan.” The avoidance of pipe breakages was vital to “cut down on water wastage and leakage.” According to the timetable for the project, 4400m of water network pipes will be replaced by June 2019. See: Ageing asbestos pipes being replaced.
 

The Safe Removal of Asbestos

Jul 27, 2018

During a Congress on Occupational and Environmental Safety and Health on July 25 & 26, 2018 in the City of Praia on Cape Verde, José Delgado, President of the southern region of the Order of Technical Engineers (OTS) of Portugal, said that the removal of asbestos contamination can be accomplished with “near zero risk” using state-of-the-art technologies and protocols. According to Delgado, “asbestos kills when there is no prevention…the employer has to make prevention and protection of occupational health” a priority. See: Remoção do amianto “em boas condições” tem risco de “quase zero” [Removal of asbestos “in good condition” risks “almost zero”].
 

Decline in Asbestos Research

Jul 27, 2018

A paper has been published which concludes that “the proportion of the overall scientific literature that is ARD related has declined substantially over the last quarter century, and that this decline was enhanced by a decrease in emphasis on public health…” In recognition of the ongoing use of asbestos in countries throughout the industrializing world, this trend is problematic; the authors recommend “setting research priorities with improved emphasis on public health” to bridge this gap. See: Bibliometric analysis of gaps in research on asbestos-related diseases: declining emphasis on public health over 26 years.
 

Legal Precedent in Scotland!

Jul 27, 2018

For the first time, a Scottish court has held an employer liable for a mesothelioma death caused by second-hand exposure to asbestos; the deceased, Adrienne Sweeney, had washed the contaminated work clothes of her husband William, an employee at the Babcock and Wilcox boiler-making factory in Renfrew in the 1960s. Damages of almost £250,000 were awarded to the family after a hard won legal battle further exacerbated by the death in 2008 of Mr. Sweeney. Fortunately, a former work colleague was able to provide vital testimony. See: Family's damages award over mother's 'second-hand asbestos' death.
 

Asbestos Risk in Manhattan

Jul 27, 2018

An article in the New York Times about the public health risk posed by asbestos liberated during the explosion – on July 19, 2018 – of a steam pipe in the Flatiron district of Manhattan quotes several experts who downplay the adverse health consequences of these exposures to people living or working in the area. Those at greater risk are, according to occupational physician Dr. Philip Landrigan, people “like Con Edison employees who have worked in the tunnels for years and now may be called in to help clean up the mess.” See: How Dangerous Is Asbestos From the Steam Pipe Explosion in New York?
 

Asbestos-Free: 2040 Deadline

Jul 24, 2018

This week the Flemish Government agreed to accelerate the phase-out program to eliminate the asbestos hazard in Flanders by 2040 via a staged action plan that prioritizes the removal of products containing non-bonded asbestos. The health risk posed by exposure to deteriorating asbestos-cement products, such as aging and weathered corrugated sheets, has also been recognized. Key dates are: by 2022, an asbestos inventory must be drawn up when a building is sold; by 2032 asbestos inventories will be required for all buildings built before 2001; by 2034, the most hazardous products must be remediated. See: Asbestveilig Vlaanderen tegen 2040 [Abestos-safe Flanders by 2040].
 

Hazard posed by Asbestos Mine?

Jul 24, 2018

This week, the New South Wales (NSW) Department of Planning and Environment released a report regarding the public health risk of the derelict Woodsreef asbestos mine, 15 km east of Barraba in the Northern NSW Tablelands, Australia which concluded that “the long term public health risk is likely to be negligible to low, for potential asbestos exposure arising from the abandoned mine site for adjacent communities and to members of the public that may have intermittent access to the mine site.” Public consultations about the findings will take place in the coming weeks with community members starting on August 8 at the Playhouse Hotel in Barraba. See: Woodsreef asbestos mine deemed to have low public health risk.
 

Corporate Asbestos Liability

Jul 24, 2018

On July 12, 2018, Latty International de Brou – a subsidiary of the French multinational Latty Industries – lost its appeal over the decision by the Administrative Court of Appeal of Nantes which had ruled that the company was responsible for all the liabilities arising from the asbestos death in 2008 of Pierre Funel, one of its workers. The arguments by Latty’s legal team that the State must bear some of the burden due to poor regulation of the asbestos hazard was dismissed by the appeal court. See: Procès de l’amiante : la société Latty International de Brou espérait la participation de l’État pour l’indemnisation des victims [Asbestos Trial: Latty International de Brou Expected State Contribution to Asbestos Liability].