News Item Archive
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Displaying first 25 items in reverse date order (default)
Mesothelioma Payout Increased
Mar 6, 2014
During the protracted consultation process over the UK’s Mesothelioma Bill, the original concept was shrunk from one which would establishes a fund of last resort for all sufferers of asbestos-related diseases to one which would pay a proportion of compensation to mesothelioma claimants diagnosed after a 2012 deadline. The proportion had been set at 75% of average civil damages. Today, a letter released by Tracey Crouch MP from Minister Mike Penning MP confirms that this figure has been increased to 80%. This means that successful applicants will receive an average of £123,000 before benefit recovery. See: Letter from Minister of State Mike Penning.
Hong Kong Asbestos Protest
Mar 6, 2014
The discovery this week that the Hong Kong Mass Transit Railway (MTR) had purchased the same type of trains from a Chinese manufacturer that have been found to be contaminated with asbestos in New Zealand has led to calls for immediate action. On March 5, the “No More Asbestos in Hong Kong Alliance” held a silent protest in train stations and in train carriages to raise awareness of the potential health hazard for MTR staff as well as members of the public. A letter listing the protesters’ requests was submitted at the MTR headquarters. See: No More Asbestos in Hong Kong Alliance Press Release.
No Asbestos-Cement Cartel?
Mar 6, 2014
On February 11, 2014, the Competition Commission of India (CCI) dismissed charges related to the existence of an asbestos-cement cartel operated by the Asbestos Cement Products Manufacturers Association(ACPMA) (see: CCI ruling). The watchdog said that “there is no evidence on record to suggest cartelisation by ACS manufacturers.” The CCI had been tasked with this investigation in late 2012 by the Serious Fraud Investigation Office. According to the 15-page ruling, the “the role of ACPMA is to … to promote the use of ACS and fight against anti-asbestos lobbies...” See: CCI finds no cartelisation in asbestos cement products mkt.
Asbestos Consumption Continues
Mar 5, 2014
A 199-page document published by the United States Geological Survey has revealed that although U.S. consumption of chrysotile asbestos dropped by 46% in 2013, it is likely that annual usage will continue at around 1,000 tonnes for the foreseeable future. The majority of the asbestos used (67%) was for the production of chloralkali; 30% was for the production of roofing materials with 3% going into unknown applications. In 2012 and 2013 worldwide mining of asbestos produced 1.97 and 1.94 million tonnes, respectively, with Russian annual output amounting to around 1 million tonnes. See: U.S. Mineral Commodity Summaries 2014.
Hong Kong’s New Asbestos Trains?
Mar 5, 2014
From 2008 to 2012, the Hong Kong Mass Transit Railway (MTR) bought 22 trains from the Changchun Railway Vehicles Co., Ltd, part of the China North Locomotive and Rolling Stock Industry Corporation. Although the MTR stipulated that no asbestos be used, the same series of China-made vehicles imported to New Zealand was recently found to be contaminated with asbestos. The Hong Kong Workers’ Health Centre is urging that a thorough examination of the suspected trains is undertaken in order to protect the health of staff and the public. See: Asbestos scare prompts checks on China-made trains.
Asbestos Found in Trains
Feb 28, 2014
KiwiRail has pulled 40 freight trains off-line after asbestos was discovered in resin from one of the locomotives. The resin was present in a soundproofing compound used on the DL locomotives manufactured in China. Half of them were imported to New Zealand four years ago and the other half in 2013. In the purchase contract, KiwiRail had stipulated that the trains be produced without asbestos or other toxic materials. Following the asbestos scandal over Chinese-manufactured locomotives in Australia last year, KiwiRail company sought and was given assurances that the locomotives were asbestos-free. See: Trains pulled in asbestos shock.
Litigation over Asbestos in Helicopters
Feb 28, 2014
Managers at Agusta Westland, a company that manufactured helicopters from the 1990s to 2013, are being investigated by the public prosecutor’s office in Turin over charges of negligent disaster for failing to issue warnings regarding the presence of asbestos in their helicopters. Asbestos had been used in gaskets, brake pads, wheels and conduits. Although Agusta had informed government officials in 1996 about this issue, the information provided was incomplete; a comprehensive list of the contaminated material was only made available in September 2013. See: “Amianto negli elicotteri” Indagati i vertici di Agusta [“Asbestos in helicopters” Suspects at Agusta Westland].
British Asbestos Newsletter
Feb 25, 2014
The winter 2014 issue of the British Asbestos Newsletter is now available online. The leading article in Issue 93, Asbestos in the UK: Then and Now quantifies the amount of asbestos used in the UK and the repercussions that consumption of this carcinogenic substance has had. The feature highlights the epidemic of asbestos-related diseases now occurring: “Annually, nearly three times as many Britons die from asbestos-related diseases as from road traffic accidents.” Other articles discuss the Mesothelioma Bill and the campaign to address the asbestos-contamination of UK schools. See: British Asbestos Newsletter, Issue 93.
Plans to Remove Asbestos Roofing
Feb 25, 2014
Gauteng, the smallest of South Africa’s nine provinces, announced plans on February 25 to get rid of all asbestos-containing roofing materials. The authorities will finance the removal and replacement work for poor people under a new multi-million rand program to eliminate the health hazard posed by exposure to asbestos. Public health activists are encouraging the government to also remove asbestos-containing gutters and downpipes, to ensure that once removed the contaminated material is properly disposed of and not resold and to mandate precautions for workers removing the contaminated material. See: Gauteng to be rid of all asbestos roofing.
Asbestos Ban April 4, 2014
Feb 24, 2014
It’s official! According to a letter received from the Hong Kong Environmental Protection Department, an asbestos ban – which is being implemented under the Air Pollution Control (Amendment) Ordinance 2014 – will take effect on April 4, 2014. The letter states that the “import, transshipment, supply and use of all forms of asbestos and asbestos containing materials will be banned except goods in transit and registered proprietary Chinese medicine.” This action has resulted from a concerted campaign by grassroots ban asbestos activists in Hong Kong – congratulations to them all! See: EPD Guidelines & References – Banning Asbestos.
Pioneering Treatment for Mesothelioma
Feb 24, 2014
A technique has been developed by Toronto-based physicians to extend survival time for mesothelioma patients. According to an article published today in a Canadian newspaper, 74-year old mesothelioma patient Man Hong Chan has been “cured” of this aggressive and fatal cancer. Under the new protocol, patients are given radiation before surgery instead of after it to ensure that any cancer cells left are not viable; 3-year survival rates have more than doubled. Quick treatment appears to be the key to success; Chan underwent radiation therapy and surgery within a month of his diagnosis. See: Revolutionary Toronto cancer treatment gives asbestos victims new life.
Bid to Recoup Asbestos Costs
Feb 24, 2014
A bill lodged by the Holyrood Government on February 21 – The Recovery of Medical Costs for Asbestos Diseases (Scotland) Bill – could recover £20 million for the medical treatment of Scottish patients with asbestos-related diseases from employers and insurers. The bill was launched at a press conference by Clydeside Action on Asbestos and Scottish Nationalist MSP Stuart McMillan. Similar Welsh legislation passed last year is facing robust legal challenges from the insurance industry. Experts believe that due to Scotland’s greater devolved powers, similar challenges would not be mounted. See: CAA Press Release: New Asbestos Law will Recover Millions for the NHS in Scotland.
Gujarat Court Acts on Workers’ Health
Feb 19, 2014
Concerns over lung function abnormalities amongst workers at power stations led to a case heard last month by the Supreme Court (SC). The SC directed high courts to ascertain levels of healthcare provided to individuals at coal-fired thermal power plants in India. Pursuant to these instructions, the Gujarat high court has demanded that authorities supervising the State’s 11 power units submit documentation detailing their health and safety regimes. High levels of asbestosis and other asbestos-related conditions have been found amongst power station workers. See: Workers' health: Gujarat high court notice to 11 power units.
International Trade Union Conference
Feb 19, 2014
The Building and Woodworkers International (BWI), a global union federation representing 12 million members in the Building, Building Materials, Wood, Forestry and Allied sectors announced its plans this week to hold an International Conference on Asbestos in Vienna, Austria on May 6 and 7, 2014 in collaboration with the Industriall Global Union, the Austrian trade Union GBH and the International Ban Asbestos Secretariat. The event will progress trade union efforts to ban the future use of asbestos, a potent threat to all those working in the construction sector. See: International Conference on Asbestos.
Asbestos Threat to Residents
Feb 19, 2014
Inhabitants of asbestos-contaminated housing units in an Algerian district called Hamma Bouziane report high levels of ill health which, they believe, comes from living in properties constructed in 1982 with asbestos building products. Despite medical advice warning of the dangers to residents, no action has been taken by the health authorities to remedy the situation according to an article written by journalist Yousra Salem. Asbestos exposures to local people, who have asked to be rehoused to safer properties, remain a daily occurrence. See: Des familles dans des bâtisses en amiante depuis 1982 [Families in asbestos buildings since 1982].
Calls for Global Asbestos Ban
Feb 13, 2014
At the end of the International Conference on Monitoring and Surveillance of Asbestos-Related Diseases in Espoo, Finland, a press release was issued calling for a global asbestos ban. Speaking on behalf of the conference organizers, the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, Dr. Panu Oksa said: “There is no safe use of asbestos.” Dr. Ken Takahashi was categorical that “Asbestos-related deaths are preventable by banning the use of asbestos, as WHO recommends.” An increase in asbestos-related mortality is being observed in developing countries where knowledge is lacking about the hazards of exposure. See: Only a total ban of asbestos will end asbestos related deaths.
Investigation of Chinese Imports
Feb 13, 2014
Italian officials have begun an investigation into the illegal import from China of cars believed to be contaminated with asbestos. The Turin prosecutor’s office is focusing on models produced by Great Wall Motors, the largest car manufacturer in China. It is thought that asbestos may be contained in exhaust gaskets. Evidence will be presented to a judge who will decide if the import of these vehicles breaks a 1992 Italian law banning the use of asbestos. In 2012, Great Wall Motors was forced to recall thousands of cars which had been sold to Australia because of the presence of asbestos. See: Turin investigating asbestos found in cars from China.
Commission Upholds Asbestos Complaint
Feb 13, 2014
A commission appointed by the Pakistan authorities to investigate a criminal complaint over the occupational and environmental hazard created by Dadex Eternit Ltd., an asbestos manufacturer in Karachi has found that the company’s occupational health and safety precautions were inadequate (see: Two million Karachiites face cancer threat). The 25-page ruling verified the threat posed by the presence of chrysotile asbestos to workers, family members and the public in Gandap Town and found that air samples collected up to 15 km from the factory also contained chrysotile asbestos. See: Commission Report.
Dithering as Toxic Waste Grows
Feb 13, 2014
As rumors circulate about government proposals to minimize costs for dumping earthquake-generated asbestos waste by disposing of rubble at a substandard landfill (see: Questions asked over dumping of asbestos), the Minister for the Environment Amy Adams continues to prevaricate over the possibility of New Zealand banning the import, sale and use of asbestos and asbestos-containing products, blaming delays encountered in the preparation of an asbestos inventory which is not due for completion until the middle of 2014. See: Letter from Minister Amy Adams.
Unregulated Asbestos “Specialists”
Feb 10, 2014
The regulation of the industry for removing and disposing of asbestos-containing waste in Malta is a shambles according to an exposé by the Sunday Times of Malta. The result of this is hazardous conditions created not only by small outfits but by larger companies which operate without mandated public health insurance for government contracts. In his article of February 9, journalist Mark Micallef reported a black hole in government oversight of the situation with one agency saying another authority is responsible and the health authorities failing to respond when asked which body is tasked with preventing public and environmental health risks from asbestos? See: Most asbestos removers not insured for accidents.
Millions at risk!
Feb 10, 2014
The nearly 3 million residents of Quezon City (QC), the country’s most populated municipality and part of Metropolitan Manila, have once again been warned about the health hazard posed by asbestos-contaminated materials incorporated within residential properties. The population in QC, however, is not only at risk from asbestos building products, such as the many remaining asbestos-cement roofs in QC, but also from asbestos-containing products sold in the open market. The Trade Union Congress of the Philippines and environmental groups are calling for a ban on the import, processing, sale and use of all asbestos products. See: Residents warned vs. exposure to asbestos.
Asbestos Experts Speak Out!
Feb 8, 2014
Public Health and Medical Experts from Italy and Colombia will join forces at a conference in Bogotá on February 19 to 21 to discuss issues related to occupational and environmental health. A primary focus of this event will be the health threat posed by asbestos exposures. Named speakers include Daniela Marsili and Pietro Comba, both of whom are involved in an Italian–Latin American consortium to develop asbestos awareness training protocols as detailed in a recently published commentary in an Italian health journal. See: International Conference on Occupational and Environmental Health.
Asbestos Cancer at Turin University
Feb 8, 2014
La Stampa has reported the third workplace-related death due to asbestos cancer at the University of Turin. The victim in this case was a 54-year employee who had worked on the campus since 1982; she died earlier this week. It is believed that all of the asbestos victims had been environmentally exposed to asbestos in the library which was built in 1970 and where there was known contamination by crocidolite and chrysotile asbestos as recently as 2003. Turin’s Public Prosecutor Raffaele Guariniello is investigating these deaths. See: Palazzo Nuovo, un morto per la presenza di amianto [New Palace, another asbestos death].
Ovarian Cancer an Occupational Disease
Feb 5, 2014
For the first time, a French compensation scheme has accepted that workplace asbestos exposure was linked to death from ovarian cancer. A February 3 Press Release from ANDEVA (the National Asbestos Victims Association) announced that a regional committee for the recognition of occupational diseases had acknowledged the death of Liliane Claude Huet, who had worked with asbestos for 20 years at a boiler factory. See: Un cancer des ovaires lié à l'amiante bientôt reconnu comme maladie professionnelle [Ovarian cancer is finally recognized as an occupational disease].
International Agencies Call for Prevention
Feb 3, 2014
At a press conference in London today, representatives from the World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) launched a new book detailing the “alarming” growth in the global incidence of cancer: “developing countries are disproportionately affected by the increasing numbers of cancers.” The international agencies urged governments to adopt “efficient prevention strategies to curb the disease.” One example cited of a successful strategy was the WHO’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control which helped reduce tobacco consumption. See: IARC/WHO Press Release: Global battle against cancer won’t be won with treatment alone.