News Item Archive
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Displaying first 25 items in reverse date order (default)
Asbestos in Island’s Schools
Aug 23, 2016
The issue of asbestos in schools is being confronted by municipalities on Tahiti. Although asbestos was banned in France in 1999, its use was only outlawed in French Polynesia in 2011. As a result, there are still many buildings which contain asbestos, including many schools. Some remediation has been undertaken; however, contamination in schools and in the soil on which they are built remain an issue. The school in Papara has been closed for 3 years; specialists have now been hired to remove the asbestos. During the closure, children have been studying at other premises. See: Amiante dans les écoles: des mairies prennent le problème à bras-le-corps [Asbestos in schools: town hall confronts the problem].
Monument to Asbestos Tragedy
Aug 23, 2016
On September 10, 2016, the people of Casale Monferrato will inaugurate a green space on the former site of the notorious Eternit asbestos factory. The park, the name of which is Eternot, symbolizes the battle for justice, reclamation and research for a community which has been devastated by asbestos injuries and deaths for several decades. The ceremony will be attended by Karmenu Vella, European Commissioner for the Environment, and Italian Ministers Gian Luca Galletti and Andrea Orlando. Artwork donated by the local victims’ group which pays tribute to activist Romana Pavesi will also be unveiled. See: Amianto, Casale il 10/9 inaugura Eternot [Asbestos, Casale on 10/9 inaugurates Eternot Park].
Paying the Price for Asbestos Profits
Aug 22, 2016
Canada’s first analysis of the economic burden caused by asbestos exposures revealed that the financial impact of 427 mesothelioma cases and 1,904 lung cancer cases diagnosed in 2011 was C$1.9 billion. This figure was quoted in a recent study by the Institute for Work & Health which examined the costs of occupational asbestos diseases and illnesses caused by secondary exposures to family members: “80% of the costs are attributed to health-related quality-of-life losses. Health care and other direct costs account for 11%; loss of productivity and other indirect costs account for the remaining 9%.” See: New cases of mesothelioma and asbestos-related lung cancer in one year cost $1.9B.
Asbestos Ban Soon?
Aug 21, 2016
Veteran asbestos watcher Kathleen Ruff from RightonCanada reports that Canada’s Minister of Health Jane Philpott is working with cabinet colleagues to implement a new national asbestos policy. Following a conversation this summer with the Minister, Ruff said “an upcoming announcement regarding the asbestos policy of the new Trudeau government” is expected during the next session of Parliament which commences on September 19. Throughout the 20th century, Canada supplied the majority of asbestos consumed around the world and asbestos vested interests in Quebec and elsewhere had powerful support from national agencies and stakeholder groups. See: Encouraging news on Canada and asbestos.
Palliative Care for Mesothelioma Patients
Aug 21, 2016
The need for palliative care for mesothelioma sufferers was highlighted by an analysis of data from patients admitted to a home palliative care program in Italy. Three quarters of the mesothelioma patients had painful symptoms, with 20 reporting moderate and severe pain despite treatment with medium-high doses of opioids. The most frequent symptoms reported were pain, weakness, poor appetite, poor well-being and dyspnea; the principal site of pain was the chest. The study concludes that palliative care should be integrated at an early stage into the care of all these patients. See: Symptom Burden in mesothelioma patients admitted to home palliative care.
Asbestos Hazard in Soil
Aug 21, 2016
Research by US scientists has raised concerns about hazards from asbestos disposed at capped landfill sites. According to lead researcher Associate Professor Jane Willenbring: “Asbestos gets coated with a very common substance that makes it easier to move…If you have water with organic matter next to the asbestos waste piles, such as a stream, you then have a pathway from the waste pile and possibly to human inhalation.” It is the current practice in the US and other countries for asbestos waste piles to be capped with soil to avoid hazardous human exposures; this practice may need rethinking. See: New study challenges assumption of asbestos’ ability to move in soil.
Environmental Asbestos Hazards
Aug 21, 2016
Earlier this month (August 2016), campaigners in Indonesia held a two-day meeting in Denpasar, Bali to discuss efforts by local government to improve the conditions for people living in the island’s slums. On the agenda was the issue of asbestos which is used as roofing material in Indonesia; according to data cited, Indonesia is the world’s 5th largest importer of asbestos. This meeting was organized by BaliFokus, a non-governmental organization, which has been instrumental in a campaign to raise awareness of the asbestos hazard in Indonesia, a country whose constitution guarantees citizens the right to live in a healthy environment. See: Asbestos-free Neighborhoods.
Disposal of NY Subway Cars
Aug 19, 2016
When the authorities in NY were faced with the problem of disposing of thousands of asbestos-contaminated subways cars built between 1959 and 1963 they devised an ingenious plan to dump them in the Atlantic Ocean at spots off the coast of NY, NJ, Georgia and three other states. By burying 2,400 subway carriages at sea, NY’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) saved $12 million. The last batch of 51-foot long Redbird subway cars was dumped by the MTA in 2010. No asbestos removal had been carried out on any of the carriages. See: VIDEO: The MTA Tells All About Dumping Its Subway Cars in the Atlantic Ocean.
Illegal Fly-tipping of Toxic Waste
Aug 19, 2016
An unwelcome discovery was made near the central Adriatic coastal town of Numana, in Ancona Province, by agents of the State Forestry Corps who found 20 tonnes of asbestos sheeting dumped in a drainage ditch in a rural part of the countryside. The officials were making a routine inspection when they found this toxic deposit tangled in amongst some vegetation. Ancona’s public prosecutor has opened an investigation against persons unknown; the penalty for illegally disposing of this toxic waste is up to two years in prison. See: Amianto, 20 tonnellate rifiuti a Numana [Asbestos, 20 tons of waste in Numana].
Death of Giuseppe Manfredi
Aug 17, 2016
The death was announced of Giuseppe Manfredi, the President of the Asbestos Victims Family Association (AFEVA), in Casale Monferrato, Italy. He had become President in November, 2015 upon the retirement of Romana Blasotti Pavesi. Known to all as Beppe, he died aged 66 of the asbestos cancer mesothelioma on August 16, 2016. In the short time he was President, he initiated several projects to progress AFEVA’s fight for asbestos justice, medical research and remediation of the widespread contamination caused by decades of asbestos production, use and disposal in Italy. See: Addio a Giuseppe Manfredi, presidente di Afeva [Goodbye to Giuseppe Manfredi, AFEVA President].
Victim’s Ruling in Quebec
Aug 17, 2016
A verdict for Quebec asbestos victim Maurice Lefrancois, who had worked for the American Biltrite company for 35 years as an inspector and plumber, has upheld the presumption that a worker with lung cancer and asbestosis exposed to asbestos at work has a compensable claim against his employer. Mr. Lefrancois died in December 2013, aged 78, two months after being diagnosed. The family was awarded compensation of $107,000. It is believed that this ruling will facilitate legal action by other workers. See: Jugement favorable pour les travailleurs exposés à l'amiante [Favorable judgment for workers exposed to asbestos].
Mesothelioma Radiotherapy Trial
Aug 16, 2016
A new clinical program for mesothelioma patients is due to commence in Perth, the capital of Western Australia. Medical oncologist Professor Anna Nowak and her team at the Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital will look at how radiotherapy can improve the quality of life and reduce painful symptoms. Patients will, Professor Nowak explained have “a special type of PET scan, which measures oxygen levels in tumours. What we also hope to get out of this is a better understanding of how oxygen levels in tumours will determine how they respond to treatment.” See: Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital hosting mesothelioma trial.
Minister Commits to End Asbestos Use
Aug 15, 2016
In an interview with the Times of India, Environment Minister Anil Madhav Dave said: “Since the use of asbestos is affecting human health, its use should gradually be minimised and eventually end. As far as I know, its use is declining. But it must end.” The Minister was both right and wrong simultaneously. Yes, the use of asbestos should end but no, consumption in India is not declining. According to preliminary data for 2015, usage last year was estimated at 380,000 tonnes; asbestos exposures are routine occurrences for millions of workers in India. See: Will look for alternatives to carcinogenic asbestos: Environment Minister.
Officials Struggle with Import Tide
Aug 15, 2016
An investigation by La Stampa newspaper documents the struggle of Italy’s customs officials to prevent dangerous materials such as asbestos fiber from illegally entering the country. Stiff competition between European ports means that any delays will encourage shipping companies to use alternative ports with virtually no controls at all. With insufficient staff and resources, only 1.5% of the ten million containers that arrive in Italy every year are inspected. Despite this low figure, the monitoring rate at Italian ports is higher than in the rest of Europe. See: Armi, amianto e droga: la rete colabrodo dei porti italiani [Weapons, asbestos and drugs: the sieve network of Italian ports].
India’s Struggle against Asbestos
Aug 14, 2016
In an interview with Bihar resident and Indian ban asbestos activist Gopal Krisnha, details are provided of how local people confronted and bested powerful industrial interests to prevent the construction of seven asbestos plants in the State. Five years after this struggle began, the Bihar Pollution Control Board has cancelled the requisite permission for all the plants. According to Krishna: “Villagers outwitted the corporate media which has been reluctant to publish anti-asbestos stories by wall writing in the villages adjoining the plant demanding halting of the construction of the plant.” See: Activist Gopal Krishna exposes India’s double speak in environment protection.
Screening for Asbestos Cancer
Aug 13, 2016
Asbestos-related diseases of the lungs and pleura are the leading cause of occupational mortality in Germany despite the fact that asbestos consumption has been banned since 1993. Although no suitable screening methods for early detection of malignant mesothelioma are currently available, a German lung screening trial has shown that the use of low-dose computed tomography for patients who were heavy smokers can significantly reduce lung cancer mortality amongst the at-risk cohort of workers previously exposed to asbestos. See: Early recognition of lung cancer in workers occupationally exposed to asbestos.
Colorectal Cancer and Asbestos Exposure
Aug 13, 2016
An analysis of data from a voluntary screening program conducted in France between 2003 and 2005 and supplementary data on risk factors for colorectal cancer collected in 2011 were the basis for an article published in August 2016 in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives. The researchers conclude that their “findings provide support for an association between occupational exposure to asbestos and colon cancer incidence in men.” There was also some evidence of a relationship between asbestos exposure and elevated levels of rectal cancer. See: Occupational Asbestos Exposure and Incidence of Colon and Rectal Cancers in French Men: The Asbestos-Related Diseases Cohort.
Unachievable Government Target?
Aug 11, 2016
New Zealand’s ban on asbestos, which takes effect as of October 2016, is one of the measures which WorkSafe New Zealand claims will halve the number of asbestos deaths within a decade despite the lack of any new investment in enforcement of health and safety legislation, the existence of a building boom and doubts about the ability of Customs’ officials to stop asbestos imports. At an annual average of 170 deaths, asbestos accounts for the largest number of the estimated 600-900 workplace-related deaths every year. According to WorkSafe chairperson Gregor Coster, Customs will be able to enforce the ban without any extra inspectors. See: Worksafe targets poor asbestos record.
Asbestos Removal Subsidies
Aug 11, 2016
Around US$1 million has been allocated by regional and federal authorities to remove asbestos-cement roofing in 81 towns in Warmia and Mazury, a province in northeast Poland. This year over 5,000 tonnes of toxic material will be remediated. Applications for grants can be submitted by local governments, individuals, farmers, churches, religious communities, associations, housing associations, housing communities as well as civil and commercial companies. Poland has a 2032 deadline for the eradication of asbestos from the national infrastructure. See: Azbest zniknie z dachów 81 gmin z Warmii i Mazur [Asbestos to be removed from the roofs of 81 municipalities in Warmia and Mazury].
Decontamination of School Site
Aug 11, 2016
Experts have estimated that to properly decontaminate the ground under the Villa Corridi in the Italian Province of Livorno, the removal of up to one million tonnes of soil could be required. Thirty years ago 1,000 tonnes of asbestos waste were used as landfill. A school built on this site will be closed for a month for the work to be carried out. At a technical meeting held this month, parents of some of the 900 schoolchildren who attend classes here were informed about the situation. See: Villa Corridi, mille tonnellate di amianto e terra da rimuovere. La scuola rischia un mese di stop [Villa Corridi, a thousand tons of asbestos and earth to be removed; school faces a month of closure].
EPA Consultation over Reform Priorities
Aug 9, 2016
Public meetings in Washington, D.C. on August 9 and 10, 2016 are being held to discuss the way ahead for chemical regulation in light of a major reform to the Toxic Substances Control Act. The discussion of how to determine “whether a chemical substance presents an unreasonable risk of injury to health or the environment” takes place on Tuesday (August 9). To register to attend the proceedings or watch them online go to: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/us-epa-tsca-stakeholder-meetings-registration-26604194863#tickets See also: EPA Press Release.
OSHA Fines for Asbestos Exposures
Aug 9, 2016
On two occasions in February and March 2016, seven workers at U.S. Steel Corporation’s Pittsburgh coke production facility were instructed to carry out work as a result of which they were exposed to asbestos according to a ruling of the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). The ruling was issued on June 29, 2016 and ordered the company to pay a $170,000 fine. This is the second time in five years that the company has been cited by OSHA for asbestos exposures. See: OSHA finds US Steel again exposed workers to asbestos hazards at Pittsburgh coke production facility, fines company $170K.
Controversial Project to Go Ahead
Aug 9, 2016
Last week a regional authority gave permission for the Sotravest company to increase capacity for asbestos disposal at a site in Niederbronn-les-Bains, northeastern France. Permission was granted for the storage of material such as roofing, slabs or pipes which lock fibers within an asbestos-cement matrix; disposal of friable material, such as insulation products, was prohibited. The town councils of Reichshoffen and Oberbronn opposed this project as did local communities and the anti-asbestos group. See: Sotravest va pouvoir étendre son stockage d'amiante lié à Niederbronn-lès-Bains [Sotravest will be able to extend its asbestos storage operations at site in Niederbronn-les-Bains].
Lawsuit over Zimbabwe Asbestos Debt
Aug 9, 2016
Swiss-based company Ramatex SA is suing Zimbabwe building material manufacturer Turnall Holdings in the High Court over a $1 million debt for the supply of raw chrysotile (white) asbestos fiber shipments. According to Ramatex, cash payments for the shipments which started in June 2009 were agreed at $200,000/week. Payments were tardy and shipments were soon being supplied on credit. A declaration Ramatex submitted to the Court characterizes the behavior of Turnall as “unethical and uncouth.” Until a few years ago, Zimbabwe was a leading producer and supplier of chrysotile asbestos fiber. See: Swiss firm takes Turnall to court over debt.
Hazards in the Built Environment
Aug 9, 2016
A commentary by an asbestos expert contrasts the current regime in Slovakia with that in other EU countries where property owners must disclose the presence of asbestos in buildings to buyers or renters. Asbestos was widely used in the construction of buildings in Slovakia most commonly in roofing material, interior partitions, sewage pipes, insulation, cladding products and ceiling panels. Renovation work and or demolition can create dangerous releases of asbestos dust unless proper procedures are followed as per laws adopted in 2002. See: Riziko azbestu v starších budovách by sa nemalo podceňova [The asbestos risk in older buildings should not be underestimated].