News Item Archive
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Displaying first 25 items in reverse date order (default)
Awareness Campaign Wins Award
Sep 23, 2014
At a gala evening in Madrid last night (September 22), a national Australian asbestos awareness campaign won the prestigious Public Service Campaign Award of Distinction in the 2014 Global Alliance COMM PRIX Public Relations and Communication Management Awards For Excellence against stiff competition from world public relations and communication management campaigns conducted in 2012, 2013 and 2014. The creators of “Don’t Play Renovation Roulette – Asbestos Awareness Week 2012” are Clare and Alice Collins (see: photo), a mother and daughter public relations team based in Sydney, Australia. See: Media Release.
Calls for Asbestos Ban in Pakistan
Sep 20, 2014
A one-day national stakeholders conference was held in Lahore, Pakistan by the Building and Wood Workers’ Trade Union and its affiliates on September 3, 2014 to progress efforts to ban asbestos. The keynote speaker was Zahoor Awan, Secretary General of the Pakistan Workers Federation. Other eminent speakers included national labor leaders, international experts and representatives of asbestos victims. BWI General Secretary Ambet Yuson told delegates: “Asbestos kills, it is a danger to the workers, their families and the communities…” The delegates unanimously agreed a declaration calling for an asbestos ban in Pakistan. See: BWI supports Ban Asbestos Campaign in Pakistan.
Contamination of Irish Fleet
Sep 20, 2014
After toxic asbestos materials had been found aboard Irish naval vessels the LÉ Ciara, LÉ Orla, LÉ Aoife, LÉ Eithne and LÉ Aisling, a fleet-wide survey was ordered. Investigations began on September 1, 2014 and are expected to take some weeks. In addition, the Naval Service has trained personnel in asbestos awareness and advised on low risk remediation of asbestos-containing materials. Defence Minister Simon Coveney has pledged that “medical concerns were and will continue to be addressed and a contracted civilian medical advisor on asbestos-related illness has provided briefs to all staff.” See: Fleet-wide check under way after asbestos found on Naval ships.
Asbestos and Education: A Bad Mix!
Sep 20, 2014
The Free University of Brussels is riddled with asbestos. Last week journalists were allowed to accompany labor inspectors surveying one of its campuses, along with trade unionists and asbestos experts. Within the university as a whole, it has been estimated that there are 7,000 places where asbestos-containing products are present. The university’s budget would need to be trebled for this public health crisis to be adequately managed. Results of the survey are due out shortly. See: Amiante: l'inspection du travail en visite à l'ULB à la demande des syndicats [Asbestos: labor inspection visits ULB at the request of the unions].
Asbestos Challenges: Debate Continues
Sep 18, 2014
A September 15, 2014 article in La República, the Colombian equivalent of the Wall Street Journal, examines moves to develop asbestos markets in emerging economies; the author discusses industry techniques including the use of “mercenary” scientists to produce junk research that “proves” that white (chrysotile) asbestos is safe. In 2012 and 2013 Colombia imported 25,164 and 15,961 tons of asbestos respectively. Available figures for 2014 show a decline in asbestos import levels; this is partially explained by the restarting of asbestos mining operations in Yarumal (Antioquia), Colombia. See: Historias del asbesto, de lo económico a lo legal [Asbestos Stories, from the economic to the legal].
Asbestos in Talc Causes Mesothelioma
Sep 17, 2014
A scientific paper published in the October 2014 issue of the International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health concluded that “a specific brand of talcum powder [Cashmere Bouquet] contained identifiable asbestos fibers [anthophyllite and tremolite asbestos] with the potential to be released into the air and inhaled during normal personal talcum powder application.” Asbestos fibers consistent with those found in the talcum powder were identified in the lungs and lymph node tissues of a woman who used this product and died from mesothelioma. See: Asbestos in commercial cosmetic talcum powder as a cause of mesothelioma in women.
Industry Pressure Delays Ban?
Sep 16, 2014
Despite a government pledge to ban asbestos made more than three years ago, no action has been taken. News is now circulating that the Ministry of Industry has issued a proposal to Minister Chakkamon Pasukwanit to implement a phased ban on asbestos products with the use of the first group – for wall linings, ceilings, doors and floor tiles – to be prohibited in two years while the second group – roof tiles, cement pipes, brake and clutch parts – will be banned in five years. Thai ban asbestos activists have expressed serious criticisms of this plan saying asbestos is a known killer and should be banned immediately. See: Delay in Asbestos Ban.
Calls to End EU Asbestos Derogation
Sep 16, 2014
A consultation over proposals to extend a derogation allowing the use of asbestos-containing diaphragms is attracting criticism from the European Trade Union Confederation, the Trade Union Congress, the International Ban Asbestos Secretariat (IBAS) and others. In its submission, IBAS pointed out: “In July 2014 the European Court of Human Rights ruled that asbestos exposures which took place in Malta contravened the rights of Maltese workers; in 2014, there can be no excuse to allow asbestos use to persist in Europe. Failure to end this derogation will not only lead to more avoidable disease and deaths but may well result in legal action by groups representing European stakeholders.”
Ready, Steady, Go!
Sep 15, 2014
The annual fund-raising walk of the Asbestos Diseases Society of Australia (ADSA) begins today in Pemberton, Western Australia (WA). Over the next 5 days, participants will cover the 327 kilometres to the state capital making stops along the way to raise awareness of the WA epidemic of asbestos-related diseases. On September 17 the ADSA “Rod Triplett Tribute Breakfast” will take place in Australind to spotlight the price paid by building workers, like Rod, for their exposures to asbestos. Rod died of mesothelioma in March. PLEASE SUPPORT THE ADSA – see ADSA Press Release.
Firm Guilty of Asbestos Cancer Deaths
Sep 10, 2014
An Italian steel manufacturer has been condemned in a verdict released this week in a case which found 27 former company executives guilty of failing to protect workers at a Taranto plant from the asbestos hazard. The lives of those who had died from mesothelioma could have been saved had action been taken to prevent hazardous asbestos exposures wrote Judge Simone Orazio in his 268 page judgment. Medical check-ups would have enabled earlier diagnoses of asbestos-related conditions to have been made thus allowing more effective treatment for the injured. The company’s policy of prioritizing profits had led to many deaths. See: Ilva Taranto, condanna per l’amianto [Ilva Taranto, condemned over asbestos].
Taxpayers to Fund Hardie Shortfall?
Sep 9 2014
International building conglomerate James Hardie (JH), a company which began life as an Australian asbestos manufacturer, paid a total of $500+ million in dividends in 2013 and 2014; at the same time its asbestos-related liabilities had risen by 10.4% to $1.9 billion. As a result, the JH asbestos compensation body may need to draw on a taxpayer-backed loan arrangement to pay victims’ claims. Commenting on this news, Australian Senator Nick Xenophon said: “The bottom line is if James Hardie can afford $500 million to give to shareholders it can find the money to give to dying victims of their product.” See: James Hardie asbestos compensation scheme millions short after big dividends.
Fraud by U.S. Asbestos Defendant
Sep 5, 2014
On September 3, 2014, a three-judge panel of the Philadelphia appeals court ruled that the world’s biggest chemical maker BASF had engaged in “systematic fraud” to defeat thousands of personal injury lawsuits over asbestos contamination of its talc. In its decision, the Court stated that the state of New Jersey did not accept the right of litigants to engage in “fraud calculated to thwart the judicial process.” The lawsuit was brought on behalf of the families of six workers who had died from asbestos-related diseases allegedly caused by exposure to talc mined by a BASF-owned company in Vermont. See: BASF Must Face Asbestos Coverup Fraud Claims, Court Says.
Huge Victory for Asbestos Victims
Sep 3, 2014
On September 1, 2014, Minister Celso de Mello of the Federal Supreme Court rejected an injunction by Eternit, Brazil’s leading manufacturer of asbestos-cement products, which barred a $1 billion lawsuit filed by the Public Attorney’s Office of the São Paulo Labor Court on behalf of former employees at the Eternit factory in Osasco, Sao Paulo. As a result, the public prosecutor can now proceed with the compensation claims for 1,000 injured employees and the surviving families of those who have died. See: STF mantém ação de R$ 1 bi contra Eternit por expor trabalhadores a amianto [STF holds share of R$ 1 billion against Eternit for exposing workers to asbestos ].
Quebec Rejection of Asbestos
Sep 2, 2014
After more than a century of asbestos profits, Quebec politicians have finally rejected asbestos, a natural resource once called “white gold.” The political climate in Quebec has undergone a complete reversal from one in which the asbestos industry was regarded as sacrosanct to one in which the cessation of asbestos mining and the remediation of contaminated sites are regarded as a priority. Bernard Coulombe, the President of Canada’s last asbestos mine (which closed in 2012), and an aggressive asbestos proponent now admits that asbestos contamination is “dangerous.” He and other owners of the mine are demanding compensation for lost profits. See: The end of the Jeffrey asbestos mine in Quebec.
A Deadly Ongoing Epidemic
Sep 1, 2014
Twice as many Britons die of the asbestos cancer mesothelioma as die in road traffic accidents. The mesothelioma epidemic is claiming the lives not only of people who worked directly with asbestos but of others exposed to contaminated products incorporated into the national infrastructure. Victims like consultant anesthetist Dr. Andrew Lawson, M&S employee Janice Allen, GP Graham Abbott have contracted the cancer having being exposed to asbestos at their workplaces. “Britain is today,” reports journalist Harry de Quetteville “at the peak of a mesothelioma epidemic.” See: Asbestos: the killer that still surrounds us.
Contamination from Derelict Mine
Aug 31, 2014
Pollution from a derelict Korean asbestos mine in Gangjeong Village, South Chunycheong Province has increased since a construction waste disposal company began operations on this site. Even though an epidemic of respiratory diseases and cancers has been reported, local and regional authorities have refused to take action. At a public meeting on August 25, Yeyong Choi from the Asian Citizens’ Center for Environmental Health explained the asbestos health hazard. Residents and civic groups are now demanding the immediate closure of the plant, remediation and closure of the mine and full healthcare provisions for the villagers. See: Village being choked off by reckless asbestos mining.
Pessimism in Asbestos State
Aug 31, 2014
A commentary published on August 29, 2014 in The Journal of Goiás, the Brazilian State which is home to the country’s main asbestos mine, reports a gloomy outlook for the asbestos industry. Multiple factors likely to impact on sales of Goiás asbestos are: bans by several Brazilian states and national governments, opposition to asbestos by Brazilian agencies, including the Ministry of Labor, and non-governmental organizations, public prosecutions of asbestos companies, civil lawsuits, a case being adjudicated by the Supreme Court over the unconstitutionality of asbestos use, market forces and the increasingly popularity of asbestos-free products. See: Tesouro em declínio [Profitability in Decline].
Delayed Asbestos Removal Proceeding
Aug 29, 2014
Four months after tests confirmed the presence of asbestos at the headquarters of the Public Transport Service Corporation (PTSC) at the South Quay in Port-of-Spain, the capital of Trinidad and Tobago, decontamination work has begun. Reporters at a press conference on August 28, reported that the two affected buildings were sealed off in decontamination zones and that workers were observed in protective suits and masks. Trade union official Marcus Grannum supported the PTSC’s efforts but said the delay in remediation was to be regretted. See: After protests by workers: PTSC spends $m to remove asbestos.
Progress on Asbestos Ban
Aug 27 2014
The Philippines imports $76.32 million worth of asbestos every year, even though this substance is a known carcinogen which is banned in the industrialized world. Parliamentarians in the Philippines are calling for a national ban of the import, manufacture, processing, use and distribution of asbestos and asbestos-containing products. In 2008, the 11th National Occupational Safety and Health Congress adopted a resolution supporting a total ban but no progress has been made on implementation. House Bill 4437 (The Asbestos Ban Act of 2014) has now been filed by Representatives Walden Bello and Ibarro Gutierrez III. See: Congressional Press Release.
Asbestos Threshold Limit Slashed
Aug 26, 2014
After protracted negotiations, the Associated Labor Unions and the Building and Woodworkers International have succeeded today in lowering the country’s threshold limit value for asbestos toxic dust from 0.5 to 0.1 fibers per cubic centimeter of air in an 8-hour work period. This change has been implemented in a revision of government guidelines for minimizing hazardous occupational asbestos exposures. Representatives from the Chrysotile Industry Association of the Philippines and the Chrysotile Information Center, Philippines vehemently opposed the revision saying it would adversely impact on the profitability of their businesses.
Lobbyists at Global Congress
Aug 26, 2014
Delegates attending the XX World Congress for Safety and Health at Work in Frankfurt have reported the presence of Russian asbestos lobbyists and Brazilian hired gun scientists at the event. During a session on August 25, a well-known pro-asbestos fanatic accused Fiona Murie, Occupational Health and Safety Director of the BWI (Building and Woodworkers International), of corruptly receiving kickbacks from anti-asbestos stakeholders. Today, Anabella Rosemberg, from the International Trade Union Confederation, reported that pro-asbestos propaganda was being distributed at the Congress.
Ministry of Labor Backs State Ban
Aug 25, 2014
In the run-up to a September 2, 2014 vote in the Santa Catarina Legislative Assembly on the adoption of a state-wide ban on asbestos, the Ministry of Labor has mounted a public awareness initiative about the deadly effects of asbestos exposures and the urgent need for a ban. The Ministry is promoting television coverage which began broadcasting 30 second segments on August 24, 2014. Complimenting this campaign are other social media outreach projects, including a petition calling for asbestos to be banned in Santa Catarina. See: Asbestos Awareness Video.
Asbestos: Heritage Product in Favelas
Aug 23, 2014
Interviews with people in poor neighborhoods in Rio de Janeiro, the favelas, reveal the ubiquity and constancy of asbestos use in the do-it-yourself construction of family dwellings. The most popular covering for these properties is roofing made of asbestos-cement tiles. While some people hire professionals for difficult tasks, such as roof installation, many do these tasks with the help of a few friends on a weekend. As a result of the recycling and trading of materials, asbestos tiles are present throughout the favelas. See: Estudo de caso: As regras tácitas da construção nas favelas [Case Study: The unspoken rules of construction in the slums].
Asbestos Cigarettes on Sale in UK
Aug 23, 2014
Bootleg cigarettes imported into the UK by black marketeers contain asbestos as well as other toxic ingredients, according to news released by the Local Government Association. Hundreds of thousands of illegal cigarettes have been seized in recent months by officials in Wolverhampton, Bristol and Nottingham during raids on premises throughout these cities. The contents of the confiscated cigarettes included human excrement, dead flies, rat droppings, mould and asbestos. It has been estimated that 114m illicit cigarettes are sold in six London boroughs every year. See: New effort to stop fake cigarettes filled with excrement, mould and asbestos.
Canada’s Deadly Asbestos Legacy
Aug 22, 2014
From March to December 2014, prevention officers for WorkSafeBC, a statutory agency in British Columbia, are conducting planned inspections of demolition worksites at private homes to ascertain that duty holders are acting in compliance with asbestos provisions of the Occupational Health and Safety Regulations. The summer 2014 issue of Work Safe magazine highlights the consequences of hazardous exposures in the Province: between 2002 and 2011, asbestos was responsible for 512 occupational deaths; 500 claims for asbestos exposure are filed each year; since 2000, more workers have died from asbestos-related diseases than any other workplace illness. See: Asbestos Initiative Aims to Eradicate Exposures.