News Item Archive
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Displaying first 25 items in reverse date order (default)
The Asbestos Information Association/NA
Apr 30, 2016
The Asbestos Information Association/North America (AIA/NA) played a major role in the global propaganda campaign mounted by asbestos vested interests to expand asbestos markets. It was connected to a slew of other bodies which fronted multilingual and glossy propaganda campaigns such as the Asbestos Information Association and the Asbestos Institute (Canada) etc. (see: British Asbestos Newsletter, Issue 48). An article just published discusses how this industry trade group worked to neutralize adverse findings and forestall government action. See: “Unleashed on an Unsuspecting World”: The Asbestos Information Association and Its Role in Perpetuating a National Epidemic.
Support for Asbestos Sector
Apr 29, 2016
Even though asbestos usage is low in Azerbaijan (319 tonnes in 2014), support for the industrial asbestos sector of its neighbors Russia and Kazakhstan is strong, as evinced by an online article which bemoans the “asbestos phobia” which has led to criticism over the continued use of asbestos-cement roofing material which is, says the text, unwarranted. The “anti-asbestos hysteria” has been initiated, so the author claims, by the United States even though “almost all” asbestos substitutes can cause cancer [wrong] and asbestos-cement is very economical. See: От асбеста крыша едет [Asbestos roofing under attack].
IBAS Travel Bursary 2016
Apr 26, 2016
Colombian ban asbestos campaigner artist Guillermo Villamizar has been awarded a travel grant by the International Ban Asbestos Secretariat to participate at the International Mesothelioma Interest Group conference in Birmingham (May 1-5, 2016). Mr. Villamizar will be making a poster presentation on May 3, 2016 entitled: Art & Science: Relationship with Human Anatomy from Aesthetic and Scientific Perspectives. A stunning piece produced by the artist in 2013 entitled “The Female Face of Britain’s Asbestos Catastrophe” featured victims of occupational and environmental asbestos exposures. See: Photo of Guillermo Villamizer and his 2013 artwork.
Toxic Debris Endangers Public Health
Apr 26, 2016
An essay published online on April 23, 2016 by Chemical Engineer Eva Jimenez examines the response, or lack thereof, by municipal and federal authorities to the dumping of asbestos waste in the Ramabujas River and surrounding areas. Since 2004, the paltry levels of fines and the lack of political will to engage with this pressing environmental problem have created a dangerous stalemate which leaves the public at risk of contracting deadly diseases through the inhalation of chrysotile (white) and amosite (brown) asbestos fibers liberated by mounds of toxic waste which are sited in close proximity to residential areas. See: El amianto en el Polígono: la historia interminable [Asbestos in the industrial area: The Neverending Story].
Asbestos at the Palace of the Republic
Apr 25, 2016
On the 40th anniversary of the opening of the East German Parliament, the 15,300 square metre Palace of the Republic, a news report speculated that the final cost of Erich Honecker’s imposing seat of government with its gold tinted-windows, two large auditoria, art galleries, a theatre, 13 restaurants, bowling alley, post office, and discothèque could have exceeded a billion Marks. In October 1990 the building was shut down due to asbestos contamination. Investigations revealed that in 1974, 5,000 tonnes of sprayed asbestos fireproofing had been applied to the steelwork. The building was demolished in 2008. See: Gone, but not forgotten. Berlin remembers the Palace of the Republic.
Third Wave of Asbestos Deaths
Apr 20, 2016
A report commissioned by Australia’s Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency predicts there will be 19,000 cases of mesothelioma diagnosed between 2015 and the end of the century. It is estimated that 8,000 of these will result from non-occupational exposures; the members of this cohort are part of the third wave of disease. Due to the extensive use of asbestos in the construction of Australia’s housing, many of those affected will have been exposed to asbestos directly or indirectly during DIY renovations. The report recognizes the risk to human health of low dose exposures. See: The Third Wave – Australian Mesothelioma Analysis & Projection.
Industry Offensive in Asbestos Homeland
Apr 19, 2016
Russian online media reported on April 18 that two asbestos companies in the Sverdlovsk region could be facing bankruptcy because of actions by the European Union which, say the article, are based on faulty information. Chrysotile asbestos is perfectly safe as company representatives show in footage accompanying this article – local children are filmed building with asbestos products and wearing company tee shirts. The most notable detail about the pro-asbestos rally shown in the video is the small number of people in attendance. See: Камень преткновения: уральцы вышли на митинг в защиту хризотила [The stumbling block: the Urals rally in defense of chrysotile].
Asbestos Whistleblowers: A Documentary
Apr 19, 2016
On April 17, a film about the work of French whistleblowers who denounced asbestos and pesticide scandals was premièred in two cities in the department of Tarn, southern France. The film followed the work of an asbestos factory worker, a farmer and scientists: Henri Pézerat and Dr. Annie Thebaud-Mony. The director of the film Peter Pézerat quotes his father Henri’s belief that workers were “the sentinels of the toxicological risk, occupational or environmental.” See: “Les Sentinelles,” un film-hommage aux lanceurs d'alerte sur les grands scandales sanitaires [“The Sentinels,” a film tribute to whistleblowers on major health scandals].
Payout for Australian Exposure
Apr 17, 2016
Des Sayegh, an 81-year old New Zealand carpenter, was diagnosed with mesothelioma last year. His exposure to asbestos in New Zealand was acknowledged with a $100,000 government payout plus other support such as the provision of home help, specialist equipment and taxi chits. Another case he brought in Australia over toxic exposure received during an 11 month period in the late 1970s when he worked in Nyabing, Western Australia has also succeeded; he has received an out-of-court settlement from Australia’s asbestos giant: James Hardie, also known as the killer company. See: Dying Kiwis Win Payouts in Australia for Asbestos Exposure.
Gold Mining and Asbestos Pollution
Apr 17, 2016
The results of inspections carried out by government agencies in December 2015 at the proposed site of the Skouries gold mine were reported in a letter circulated earlier this month to various ministries; highly toxic varieties of amphibole asbestos were found in deposits on this site in Haldiki, Northern Greece. In multiple submissions and applications, developers had neglected to mention the presence of asbestos and the occupational and public health hazard which would be created by blasting and other extraction methods to access the ore. There has been serious opposition to this project from local people and environmentalists. See: Βρέθηκε αμίαντος στις Σκουριές [Asbestos Found in Slag].
New Tools for Mesothelioma Diagnosis
Apr 17, 2016
A study of three Turkish cohorts assessed the efficacy of biomarkers in predicting the presence of malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM). More than half of the 48 subjects in the asbestos-exposed group had pleural plaques; this group also had higher levels of the mesothelin antigen than the control group. The MPM group of 42 patients had “significantly higher mean EGFR, TRX, SMRP, and fibulin-3 levels... SMRP and TRX levels increased in a graded fashion among the control, asbestos exposure, and MPM groups, respectively.” See: Evaluation of New Biomarkers in the Prediction of Malignant Mesothelioma in Subjects with Environmental Asbestos Exposure.
Contaminated Schools Scandal
Apr 16, 2016
Protests on April 14, 2016 by parents whose children attend Woodland Primary School in Pietermaritzburg, the capital of the South African Province of KwaZulu-Natal, highlighted the threat posed by asbestos exposures to pupils and teachers who work in 43-year old “temporary” classrooms made entirely of asbestos. According to a local contractor, the school is “uninhabitable,” and should be condemned due to the serious danger to human health. After inspecting the school last month, he reported: “broken asbestos boards in the bathroom and … black mould growing in the asbestos in the ceilings.” See: Poisonous classrooms.
Ban Asbestos Mobilization in Brazil
Apr 15, 2016
State Deputy for São Paulo Marcos Martins, in collaboration with the Brazilian Association of the Asbestos-Exposed, will host a ceremony in the legislative assembly today (April 15, 2016) to mark the beginning of Ban Asbestos Week. Fernanda Giannasi, one of the country’s leading ban asbestos campaigners, will address the meeting. Activities in Osasco – an industrial area formerly the heart of Brazil’s asbestos cement industry – will take place from April 18 to 24 to raise public awareness of the asbestos hazard, with an ecumenical service on April 24. See: Ato solene marca abertura da Semana de Combate ao Amianto [Solemn Ceremony Marks Opening Ban Asbestos Week].
Illegal Imports Endanger Workers
Apr 15, 2016
Nine hundred and sixty-eight asbestos-contaminated gear switch panels made in Malaysia are present at 51 sites belonging to Ausgrid – a state owned electricity infrastructure company. The Australian electricity provider confirms that the items contain both white and brown asbestos and were imported illegally sometime between 2007 and 2014. TAMCO, the Malaysian manufacturer of the panels, also lists as clients Energy Australia, Integral Energy and Optus, other well-known and large Australian utilities. See: ‘This is a death sentence for those workers’: Hundreds of Ausgrid employees exposed to asbestos in substations across Sydney.
Asbestos Company Seeks Restitution
Apr 14, 2016
A press release issued on April 12, 2016 by ANDEVA, the French organization representing regional asbestos victims groups, is scathing about an attempt by the asbestos defendant corporation Eternit to pursue legal options to recover court-awarded compensation payouts from government coffers. This case is currently being adjudicated by the Versailles Appeal Court; a decision will be announced in a few weeks. A judgment favouring Eternit’s arguments had been handed down in 2014 by the Administrative Court. See: Amiante: Eternit au Coeur d’un triple scandale judiciare [Asbestos: Eternit at the heart of a triple judicial scandal].
Support for Canadian Asbestos Ban
Apr 14, 2016
The Automotive Recyclers of Canada (ARC) – representing 400+ Canadian vehicle recyclers and dismantlers – today endorsed calls for the import and use of asbestos-containing products to be banned in Canada to stop hazardous exposures being experienced by people engaged in the recycling of end-of-life vehicles. Between 2005 and 2015, Canadian imports of asbestos-containing brake pads and linings were valued at $100 million. According to the ARC, “imports of asbestos containing brake pads into Canada continue to increase unabated.” See: Automotive recyclers call for federal action to eliminate import and use of asbestos brake pads in Canada.
Warnings over Toxic Chinese Flasks
Apr 14, 2016
Italy’s Ministry of Health has issued alerts over the sale of 0.75 and 0.35 liter thermos flasks with plastic exteriors imported from China by the Galileo company found to be contaminated with asbestos after government agencies undertook scientific analyses of sample goods. The Public Prosecutor in Venice is considering legal action over these illegal sales. This discovery that imported flasks from China contained asbestos is one of many; recently consumers in Pescara were warned of similar products being sold in local supermarkets. See: Allerta: amianto nei thermos cinesi. Il Ministero della Salute li ritira dal mercato [Alert: Asbestos in Chinese thermos. Ministry withdraws them from market].
Urban Ruin of Asbestos Capital
Apr 12, 2016
The Russian City of Asbestos (Asbest), a formerly prosperous one-industry town, is beset my multiple problems and has, so an online feature suggests descended into urban chaos. Having lived in the town for a few days, the investigating reporter documents a collapse in employment opportunities and multiple failures in the provision of basic amenities, housing and communal services. While the town relies on meagre government subsidies, the asbestos company which dominates municipal life pays its shareholders 900+ million roubles. See: Асбест. Город олимпийских чемпионов и коммунального ада [Asbestos. City of Olympic champions and utilities hell].
Asbestos: Police Raid in Naples
Apr 12, 2016
As a result of a police raid on a derelict site in “Colli Aminei” – a hilly area of Naples – illegal asbestos-containing debris was identified and seized; the confiscated material included asbestos-cement pipes and roofing sheets, some of which were partially buried in the ground. By law, the owners of the overgrown and contaminated site are required to undertake the work required to make the area safe. Other buildings and several homes are located in close proximity to the contamination. See: Manufatto ricoperto da amianto: blitz della polizia a Napoli [Artifact covered with asbestos: Police blitz in Naples].
Málaga Asbestos Zero Campaign
Apr 12, 2016
Activists in southern Spain are collaborating on a campaign to achieve the total eradication of asbestos from schools in the shortest possible time under the banner of Málaga Amianto Cero [Málaga Asbestos Zero]. Pointing out the acknowledged hazards posed by exposure to asbestos, campaigners highlight the failure to quantify the situation regarding the presence of asbestos-containing products within the country’s educational infrastructure. In the information vacuum which persists, the precautionary principle should be followed to protect school children and staff from deadly exposures. See: Manifiesto por la liberación del amianto en las aulas [Manifesto for asbestos removal from classrooms].
Raising Asbestos Awareness in Vietnam
Apr 11, 2016
Asbestos issues were part of a packed agenda for delegates attending activities in Hanoi last week (April 6-10, 2016), including a workshop on the subject of Ethics in Research, Policy Advocacy and Health-Related Policy Development organized by a consortium of Vietnamese civil society groups and non-governmental organizations. Canadian Professor emeritus Dr. Colin Soskolne presented epidemiological data documenting the asbestos hazard as well as information about the human health effects of exposures. Also featured on the agenda were presentations by Vietnamese medical and occupational health experts. See: Group Photo.
Asbestos Wasteland or Tropical Paradise?
Apr 10, 2016
A feature article in the National Geographic details widespread asbestos contamination on Banaba island, a coral island, in the island nation of Kiribati in the central Pacific Ocean. Asbestos is found in crumbling colonial houses, schools, old factories and in the fields where staple crops are being grown. Abandoned factory buildings formerly owned by British Phosphate Commission are now home to island residents who have been aware of the asbestos hazard for a few years. When the company left Banaba, they also left the crumbling asbestos housing behind. See: Living on a Tropical Island – and an Asbestos Wasteland.
Canadian Agency Bans Asbestos
Apr 10, 2016
Public Services and Procurement Canada, the department of the federal government responsible for internal servicing and administration, banned the use of asbestos in all new construction and renovation projects as of April 1, 2016. By the end of April 2016, a complete asbestos inventory of all Crown-owned buildings will also be on a government database. Recently, Canada’s Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour MaryAnn Mihychuk, announced that the Ottawa government was considering an asbestos ban in all construction projects. See: PSAC applauds asbestos ban at Public Services and Procurement Canada.
Criminal Investigation of Asbestos Deaths
Apr 9, 2016
Stefano Puppo, a public prosecutor from Genoa, is investigating complaints by trade unions regarding the asbestos deaths of hundreds of individuals employed by the Sanac company. The actions of five former corporate officials are under scrutiny. Until its demise at the end of the 1990s, Sanac had been the dominant player in Italy’s refractory industry for over 50 years. Potential charges that could be brought include manslaughter and negligent injury. See: Amianto killer: indagati cinque ex dirigenti della Sanac [Killer Asbestos: five former Sanac executives under investigation].
Mesothelioma: A Journalist’s Story
Apr 6, 2016
An April 5, 2016 opinion piece by Australian journalist Trevor Grant documents his fight with the asbestos cancer mesothelioma – from receiving his diagnosis in 2015 aged 63 to his current treatment with the new and expensive drug Keytruda. His reaction to hearing the name of his illness was shock; mesothelioma, he thought, was contracted by people exposed to asbestos at mines or construction sites not in newspaper rooms. Enquiries revealed, however, that there was plenty of asbestos all around him as he progressed his career in journalism. A legal case against James Hardie resulted in a “a significant pay-out… (but) not an admission of guilt.” See: I was blindsided by cancer, and the asbestos that caused it.