News Item Archive

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Displaying first 25 items in reverse date order (default)
 

Asbestos in Schools Alert

Apr 25, 2018

New research by the Joint Union Asbestos Committee (JUAC) has confirmed the continuing scandal posed by asbestos in schools and colleges: almost 90% of schools are affected and 17 members of the teaching staff are dying every year from the asbestos cancer, mesothelioma. According to JUAC chair John McClean: “This information confirms that the Government’s policy of managing asbestos in schools has failed. There is absolutely no uniformity in how multi-academy trusts are managing their asbestos, and no standardised procedures followed when schools transfer to academy trusts.” See: Teachers and students at risk of asbestos exposure in schools.
 

Report: Asbestos Alert

Apr 25, 2018

A report issued on April 12, 2018 by the Labor Inspectorate not only detailed historic occupational asbestos exposures but also revealed ongoing failures to protect workers from toxic exposures by the Empresa Municipal de Transportes de Madrid [EMT/Madrid Municipal Transport Company]. One example given of a “very serious” infraction took place over ten months last year (2017) during which 322 EMT employees and contractors were endangered by the liberation of asbestos fibers through illegal working practices. See: 322 trabajadores afectados por amianto durante las obras de una cochera de la EMT [322 workers affected by asbestos during work at an EMT garage].
 

Asbestos Prosecution in Milan

Apr 25, 2018

The Milan Public Prosecutor has brought charges against Elio Gambino, former director of the Azienda Trasporti Milanesi – a transport company in Milan, Italy – over the asbestos-related deaths from mesothelioma of six employees [a bus driver, 2 electricians, an underground railway signalman, a mechanic in charge of bus repairs and a carpenter] and injuries sustained by two others which took place between 2009 and 2015. The accused is charged with the crimes of “inadequate security management” and creating “an environmental emergency” that could affect travellers as well as workers. See: Amianto, pm chiede 6 anni per ex manager Atm: “No misure adeguate” [Asbestos, pm asks for 6 years for former Atm manager: “No adequate measures”].
 

India’s Asbestos Debate

Apr 22, 2018

Most of India’s 8,000 railway stations are built with asbestos-containing products which are used as roofing, partitions and insulation. An asbestos decontamination program begun in 2008 is ongoing and all new railway stations are being constructed with metal sheet roofs and not asbestos-cement roofing. Asbestos manufacturers are alarmed by the phase-out and claim it is unnecessary; a spokesman for the asbestos lobby commented: “as far as we are concerned, health-wise there no problem in the manufacture, sale and distribution of what you call asbestos in India.” See: Railways are phasing out asbestos, a suspected health hazard.
 

Banning Asbestos in Asia

Apr 22, 2018

Australia’s Union Aid Abroad – APHEDA – has been active in the Asian region in progressing ban asbestos initiatives in collaboration with local groups and stakeholders over recent years. Next month (May 2018), APHEDA will be bringing Indonesian activists from the Local Initiative for OHS Network (LION) Indonesia and the SERBUK Union (an Indonesian union representing asbestos factory workers) to Australia to discuss the challenges being faced. Meetings, some of which will be streamed online, will be held in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth. See: Indonesian ban asbestos campaigners 2018 Australian tour.
 

Justice in Bahia!

Apr 22, 2018

A federal court has ruled that the asbestos mining company Sama and the multinational Saint Gobain must pay R$62 million (~US$18m) for collective moral damages due to damage caused by their commercial exploitation of asbestos in the Brazilian State of Bahia. The companies were ordered to identify and demolish buildings made with asbestos tailings, monitor environmental contamination and support cultural, social and environmental projects in Bom Jesus da Serra, a city 464 kilometers from Salvador, the state capital. See: Justiça condena mineradoras a pagar R$ 62 milhões por exploração de Amianto [Justice condemns mining companies to pay R $ 62 million for asbestos exploration].
 

Asbestos: Its Human Cost

Apr 22, 2018

Canadian architect Ken Hutchinson has died from an asbestos-related disease at the age of 74. Mr. Hutchinson designed some of the most iconic buildings in Western Canada including the Fish Creek Library in Calgary, the Hobbema Healing Lodge in Mâskwâcîs, the Saamis Teepee in Medicine Hat, the Engineered Air Theatre in Calgary, the Calgary Real Estate Board, the Museum of the Regiments and Fort Saskatchewan's DOW Centennial Center as well as many other recreation centers, libraries, fire halls, theatres and schools in Alberta, B.C. and Saskatchewan. See: Architect who designed some of Alberta's most striking buildings dies of asbestos exposure.
 

Toxic Trains: More Asbestos Found

Apr 20, 2018

On April 19, 2018, Metro de Madrid informed trade unions that more asbestos had been found in the driver's cabin of two old models of trains. The unwelcome discovery was made in the insulating plate behind a cabinet; the company said this presented no risk to drivers but could pose a hazard to workshop mechanics. To prevent this happening, work has been suspended on these units. Metro de Madrid has embarked on a €5million asbestos decontamination program and has said that suburban trains will be asbestos-free by the end of 2019. See: Metro de Madrid detecta más amianto en la cabina del conductor de dos modelos de trenes antiguos [Madrid Metro detects more asbestos in driver's cab of two old train models].
 

Disposal of Asbestos Waste

Apr 20, 2018

Between 2016 and 2016, 98% of Portugal’s asbestos-contaminated construction and demolition debris was dumped in landfill for non-hazardous waste. The reason for this is to be found in the ambiguity of Portuguese law: while Administrative Rule No. 40/2014 does not mandate the disposal of demolition and construction waste in landfills for hazardous waste, Decree-Law No. 183/2009 establishes a legal regime for the disposal of hazardous waste in landfill. Although asbestos is classed as hazardous as per the European Waste List, it can therefore go to landfills for hazardous and non-hazardous materials. See: Mais de 66 mil toneladas de amianto enterradas em aterros para resíduos não perigosos [More than 66,000 tons of asbestos buried in landfills for non-hazardous waste].
 

Mesothelioma: Progress?

Apr 20, 2018

An article in The Lancet this month reviewed the global mesothelioma landscape and highlighted the inability of standard protocols to significantly improve outcomes for patients. The authors discussed pioneering therapies including immune checkpoint inhibitors, other immunotherapies, targeted therapies and combinations of novel drugs. They concluded: “New therapeutic strategies, combined with ways to identify those patients most likely to benefit from each therapy, will hopefully allow the prognosis of malignant pleural mesothelioma to be classified as a chronic disease rather than a rapidly fatal cancer, which will hopefully lead to a cure in the future.” See: Novel therapies for malignant pleural mesothelioma.
 

Ban Asbestos Action

Apr 19, 2018

Yesterday (April 18) afternoon, 20 Greenpeace protesters hung a 35 meter long sign on the pedestrian bridge over Rojas Avenue with an urgent message addressed to Colombian politicians, “Congresistas: su cobardía la pagamos todos” [Congressmen: we all pay for your cowardice], urging them to approve the “Ana Cecilia Niño” law to ban asbestos in Colombia. The last of the seven times the bill, named after one of Colombia’s most famous asbestos victims, failed to become law was in October, 2016. See: La protesta de Greenpeace en Bogotá contra el asbesto [The protest by Greenpeace in Bogotá against asbestos].
 

Tragic Asbestos Decision

Apr 19, 2018

On April 18, 2018, a Turin appeals court dismissed charges against defendants convicted by a lower court over 12 asbestos deaths amongst Olivetti workers employed between the 1960s and 1990s at the company’s factory in Ivrea, northern Italy. Convictions were reversed for Olivetti executives Carlo De Benedetti and his brother Franco De Benedetti, who had been sentenced to prison for manslaughter and personal injury by the first instance court. There is widespread outrage in the town of Ivrea, with the Mayor saying: “This story is an open wound for the city and the territory…” See: Amianto all'Olivetti di Ivrea, assolti tutti i manager [Asbestos at Olivetti, Ivrea, all managers absolved].
 

Asbestos in Schools

Apr 19, 2018

A national program broadcast this week highlighted the pervasive and deadly scandal of asbestos contamination of UK schools, with interviews with a bereaved daughter, trade union leader and a legal expert, all of whom called for action to address the toxic exposures experienced by teachers, support staff and children on a daily basis. There was, said one interviewee, a “reluctant conspiracy of silence among those who are in a position to point out the dangers.” Failures of the Health and Safety Executive and Department of Education to address the serious issues posed by the presence of asbestos in schools were highlighted. See: Pressure on authorities to do more to remove asbestos from schools.
 

Asbestos Hazard in Demolition

Apr 19, 2018

The family of construction worker Pietro Macaluso was awarded $60 million in damages by a Manhattan jury for his premature death at the age of 56 in July 2016 from mesothelioma. In the 1970s and 1980s he was occupationally exposed to asbestos when he was employed in demolition work which required the removal of asbestos-covered boilers from family homes in Brooklyn. During a 9-week trial, the family’s attorney told the jury that the defendants had known about the asbestos health risks and taken action to protect employees at their factories but did nothing to warn the public or people like Mr. Macaluso. See: Critics say tort reform necessary after $60M asbestos settlement.
 

Toxic Brake Linings

Apr 19, 2018

A paper examining how multiple agencies and authorities collaborated to deal with a 2016 discovery by the Public Health Department of the Government of Aragon that asbestos-containing brake linings imported from China were being sold in Zaragoza and elsewhere in Spain considers the interactions between EU laws and regulations and public administrations throughout Spain, and concludes that the operation of the current system is impacted by the fragmented nature of political authority and the autonomy of the different public administrations. See: Occupational health administrative coordination a propos of a case: brake linings with asbestos in a company.
 

A Toxic Legacy

Apr 17, 2018

A commentary calling for the immediate ban on the import, processing and use of asbestos and asbestos-containing products in Uganda urges the authorities to adopt a “guided national decommissioning plan purposed to protect the public and the environment” from asbestos exposures, and highlights the health risk to citizens of exposure to asbestos products contained in deteriorating older buildings, stating that: “maintenance workers of old asbestos structures have considerable risks comparable to that of industrial workers due to asbestos dust.” See: Asbestos: What Uganda needs to do about the risky exposure.
 

Asbestos Phase-Out!

Apr 17, 2018

Railway authorities in Mumbai, India are undertaking replacement of asbestos-cement roofing at major suburban stations with metal ones that are environmentally safer, lighter and sturdier. New station buildings and platforms are constructed with non-asbestos materials and older premises are in the process of being decontaminated as part of a phased program of works. According to Manager S K Jain of the Central Railway, Mumbai, asbestos is discarded according to safety regulations: “We have directed the stores department to dispose of the sheets in a safe manner, so that there are no harmful repercussions.” See: Mumbai: Railway Stations To Have Environment-Friendly Metal Roofs.
 

Victim’s Verdict

Apr 17, 2018

A Labor Court in Rome, has awarded the estate of a deceased mechanic the sum €236,000 for his occupationally-caused death in 2011 from pulmonary adenocarcinoma. The judge condemned Cotral, the regional public transport company of Lazio and Vincenzo Cecchini’s employer, for failing to provide safe working conditions, including protection from asbestos exposures, between December 1981 and December 1992, the period during which the deceased was employed. See: Amianto, Tribunale del lavoro di Roma condanna la Cotral per morte di un meccanico a causa del cancro [Asbestos, Rome Labor Court condemns Cotral for mechanic’s cancer death].
 

Asbestos at College

Apr 17, 2018

Staff at the University of Toronto (U of  T) have condemned the multiple failures to take timely and appropriate actions to protect workers and students from toxic asbestos exposures following the U of  T’s “worst asbestos breach in more than a decade early last year at its medical-sciences building.” Other incidents have taken place since then. According to Terezia Zoric, vice-president of grievances for U of  T’s faculty association, the level of anxiety regarding asbestos on campus remains high; a spokesperson for the Association of Part-Time Undergraduate Students said that urgent clarification regarding the asbestos situation was needed. See: University of Toronto criticized for poor handling of asbestos issues on campus.
 

Toxic Trains

Apr 17, 2018

Asbestos in Metro de Madrid rolling stock on lines 1, 6 and 9, will be investigated by a commission of enquiry with deliberations beginning on May 11 and taking place on Fridays once a month until December. Submissions will be heard from Metro executives, affected workers, occupational health experts and others. Findings will be shared with the authorities in Argentina who are investigating the purchase by Subterraneos de Buenos Aires of toxic second-hand Spanish rolling stock. See: Podemos presidirá la comisión de investigación del amianto en el Metro pese a la oposición del PSOE [Podemos will preside over the committee investigating asbestos in the Metro despite opposition from the PSOE].
 

Fall in Asbestos Demand!

Apr 13, 2018

According to a report issued by the Vietnam Roof Sheeting Association, the consumption of asbestos roofing in Vietnam fell by up to 35% in 2017 as consumers sought safer alternatives. The Association acknowledged the growth in ban asbestos advocacy and increasing consumer support for alternative products. The cost advantage posed by asbestos sheeting has been neutralized by the availability of cheaper steel materials also suitable for poorer people. Total asbestos roofing production in 2017 was 55.8 million square meters, equal to 66% of that in 2016. See: Roofing for the poor: shifting consumption patterns (Eng. translation of: Tấm lợp cho người nghèo: Chuyển dịch xu hướng mới).
 

Award for Professor Anna Nowak

Apr 13, 2018

The Cancer Council of Western Australia has named Professor Anna Nowak the Cancer Researcher of the Year 2018 at a ceremony in Perth. Presenting her award, the Council spokesperson highlighted her “outstanding contribution to cancer research over the previous 12-24 months.” Prof. Nowak is, the citation stated: “a world-leading clinical researcher in mesothelioma. She combines detailed laboratory knowledge with outstanding clinical trials experience, collaborative spirit and multidisciplinary drive, to improve both cancer research and patient outcomes.” See: 2018 Research Excellence Awards celebrate 3 of WA's brightest researchers.
 

Asbestos in Make-Up Scandal

Apr 12, 2018

A TV broadcast has revealed this week that more children’s make-up sets sold by Claire's Accessories in its 32 Dutch outlets were contaminated with asbestos than was previously known. The extent of the contamination was discovered as a result of research commissioned by EenVandaag – a current affairs program on public TV. Toxic fibers have been found in the cosmetics sold under the names: Bedazzled rainbow heart make-up, Rainbow Bedazzled Star Makeup Set, Claire's Compact Powder and Claire's expert shadow and highlight finishing kit. Concerns have been raised as to whether the company’s products “can still be trusted” after these discoveries. See: Claire’s kindermake-up schandaal breidt zich verder uit [Claire's children’s makeup scandal expands further].
 

Victory in Bahia!

Apr 12, 2018

João Batista de Castro Júnior, federal judge of the 1st Court of the Judicial Branch of Vitória da Conquista, has issued a decisive judgment regarding the negligence of SAMA – a subsidiary of Eternit – and Saint-Gobain in spreading contamination throughout the environment of the Bom Jesus da Serra region, southwest of Bahia, Brazil. The Judge ordered the demolition of houses and roads built with asbestos tailings, the removal of the toxic debris and payment of $31 million for collective moral damages. See: Justiça Federal manda derrubar casas construídas com Amianto [Federal court orders to demolish houses built with asbestos].
 

Asbestos Hazard in Construction Sector

Apr 12, 2018

According to a new survey by the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH), nearly a 25% of British building workers believe they have been occupationally exposed to asbestos. The release of the survey coincided with the launch of the IOSH’s latest “No Time To Lose” occupational cancer campaign. Some of the statistics reported were startling: 15% of workers said they had never been informed of the asbestos hazard, 33% never checked the asbestos register before starting work on a new site and 18% said if they found asbestos they would be unsure or have no idea of what to do. See: Asbestos: 23% of construction workers exposed.