News Item Archive

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Displaying first 25 items in reverse date order (default)

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.

National Asbestos Awareness Campaign

Oct 10, 2014

After a wait of nearly four years, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has launched a campaign to raise awareness of the asbestos hazard amongst at-risk tradesman. On October 9, the HSE reported that “Tradespeople, including construction workers, carpenters and painters and decorators, could come into contact with deadly asbestos on average more than 100 times a year…” There is a widespread lack of awareness amongst tradespeople who, on average, are dying at the rate of 20 per week from asbestos-related diseases. See: 1.3 million tradespeople at risk from dangers of asbestos.

All Asbestos is Carcinogenic!

Oct 9, 2014

On October 7, 2014, as a result of collaborations by the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Labour and the Ministry of Employment and Social Security, all types of asbestos, including chrysotile (white) asbestos, were added to Brazil’s List of Human Carcinogens. This major advance underlines the fallacious industry argument that chrysotile is a non-toxic substance essential for developing economies. It constitutes an acknowledgement by Brazil of the asbestos threat and as such will drive forward the momentum for a national ban. See: Portaria Interministerial confirma amianto como cancerígeno [Interministerial ordinance confirms asbestos as a carcinogen].

Failed Attack by Asbestos Lobby

Oct 7, 2014

Union leaders derailed an attack by the Association of Chrysotile Industries (CIC) on plans to lower asbestos threshold limit exposure levels in the Philippines. A CIC representative attended a working group meeting tasked with finalizing the National Programme for the Elimination of Asbestos-Related Diseases this month. Citing industry propaganda, he asserted that chrysotile (asbestos) was not toxic. His arguments were countered by medical and union experts. In a trade union press release, it was noted that in August 2014 CIC representatives enjoyed a visit to Brazil’s asbestos mine at the expense of the Eternit asbestos company. See: Trade Union press release.

Dialogue on Asbestos Risk

Oct 6, 2014

On October 4, two films were shown in Bangkok which highlighted the asbestos hazard. One was a documentary, entitled Dust: The Great Asbestos Trial, about Italy’s epidemic of asbestos disease and death; the other was a 10 minute film detailing the health risk posed by the use of chrysotile (white) asbestos in Thailand. The films were also viewable via an internet link. After the showing, there was a seminar held by the Thailand Ban Asbestos Network (see photo: T-BAN supporters) during which experts substantiated the hazard asbestos poses and called for an immediate ban. An asbestos lobbyist said that chrysotile asbestos did not present a health hazard. The event was covered by Thai TV.

10 Year Anniversary Marked in Tokyo

Oct 4, 2014

The tenth anniversary of the Japan Association of Mesothelioma and Asbestos-related Disease Victims and Their Families is being marked today at an international gathering in Tokyo attended by Japanese, Korean and Indonesian campaigners. A new video has been produced for this occasion. The first 1.43 minutes is a message (in Japanese) from an asbestos victim hospitalized in Hokkaido who is unable to join the activities. The rest of the 32 minute video is a touching tribute to the thousands of Japanese victims and supporters who have revolutionized their country’s asbestos dialogue. This film is highly recommended. See: Anniversary Video.

Mesothelioma Treatment Report

Oct 3, 2014

Data drawn from 8,700 patients diagnosed with mesothelioma in the UK between 2008 and 2012 has been published in a report issued in September 2014 entitled: National Lung Cancer Audit Report Mesothelioma. The text highlights the level of variation in diagnosis, treatment and survival for mesothelioma by geographical area in England and Wales and across cancer networks. While the majority of patients are having their diagnoses confirmed by biopsy and are being treated by multi-disciplinary teams, there are still a significant number who are not receiving the support needed. There is much of interest in this report. See: National Lung Cancer Audit Report Mesothelioma.

Ban Asbestos Campaign

Oct 2, 2014

Campaigners from the Mexican association of Ayuda Mesotelioma, A.C. have uploaded an online petition calling on the Government to ban the use of all types of asbestos including chrysotile. The petition states that: “To allow the manufacture of asbestos in our country is a violation of human rights,[and] a threat to the health of workers and the environment.” There are more than 1,800 asbestos-processing factories in Mexico where workers are hazardously exposed to asbestos on a routine basis. As a result, there is an established rise in the incidence of asbestos-related disease and mortality. Consequently, government healthcare costs are also increasing. See: Ban Asbestos in Mexico Petition.

Judgment in Landmark Case

Oct 1, 2014

On October 2, 2014, Honourable Mr Justice William Davis will hand down his verdict in a case of pivotal importance to UK mesothelioma victims. At stake, is the legality of the Government’s collusion with British insurers to impose legal reforms which would disadvantage mesothelioma claimants in order to minimize corporate liabilities. During legal proceedings on July 29 and 30, 2014, a Secret Heads of Agreement between the Government and the Association of British Insurers was submitted in evidence which showed, so critics alleged, that a “secret deal” had been done. See: Press Release by Asbestos Victims Support Groups Forum UK.

Mobilization in Asbestos Heartland

Sep 30, 2014

For decades a code of silence prevented people in the asbestos company town of Kapelle-op-den-Bos from speaking out about the epidemic killing employees and local people. A manifestation of how much has changed in recent years was the public rally on Sunday, September 28 in the center of the town which was attended by over 500 people. Participating in the activities were friends and family of Willy Vanderstappen, a politician and activist who died in 2007 of asbestos cancer. During the event, a check for €1000 was presented to Eric Jonckheere, President of ABEVA (the Belgian Association of the Asbestos-Exposed), who grew up in Kapelle-op-den-Bos.