News Item Archive
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Displaying first 25 items in reverse date order (default)
Uncertainty in Asbestos Mining Region
Aug 30, 2015
An exposé aired today by Radio Canada details attempts to downgrade occupational asbestos safeguards in the name of greater productivity in Thetford Mines, a former asbestos mining region in Quebec, despite recommendations made in a $140,000 study that concludes guidelines should remain in place to protect at-risk workers from exposure to hazardous fibers in the soil, air and infrastructure. Citing the precautionary principle, experts continue to urge caution in an area where high levels of contamination have been found. See: Les règles de sécurité sur l'amiante critiquées, malgré une étude [Safety regulations on asbestos criticized, despite study].
Asbestos Ban in 2018
Aug 30, 2015
Following up on a public pledge made on August 12, 2015 to ban asbestos in 2018, the President of Sri Lanka Maithripala Sirisena, yesterday reiterated his commitment to the ban during a ceremony held at President’s House. He recalled that previous plans to enact asbestos prohibitions had been scuppered but “today everybody is supporting that programme. Those decisions will be put into action without bowing down to any private company or institution… for the betterment of the country and the people.” See: Sri Lanka president to ban production of asbestos in 2018.
Growth in Asbestos-Free Manufacture
Aug 30, 2015
To satisfy growing consumer demand in Brazil for asbestos-free goods, Brasilit – part of the French Saint Gobain Group – has announced the opening of a new R$ 55 million (US$15+ million) manufacturing facility in Seropédica, in greater Rio de Janeiro, to produce asbestos-free fiber cement products. Brasilit’s five factories producing asbestos-free goods are located in Esteio, Rio Grande do Sul; Belém, Pará; Recife, Pernambuco; and Capivari and Jacarei, in the State of São Paulo. The new 100,000 m² facility will provide 250 jobs. See: Brasilit inaugura unidade em Seropédica [Brasilit opens unit in Seropédica].
Asia’s Asbestos Danger
Aug 29, 2015
An essay about the dangers of asbestos has won first prize in a competition of the Asian Scientist Magazine. It details problems faced by one householder in Malaysia who discovered her dream home contained asbestos roofing materials. Despite reassurances from one Malaysian expert, another warned of the deadly health effects of asbestos inhalation. Although few countries in Asia publish data on asbestos exposure or deaths, using patterns observed in industrialized countries, one epidemiologist estimated that between 1994-2008 there were almost 8,000 unreported mesothelioma deaths in China, India and Thailand. See: Once An Industry Wonder, Now A Silent Killer.
Mesothelioma Deaths Still Increasing!
Aug 29, 2015
Data released this month (August 2015) by the Office of National Statistics show a steady increase in the number of deaths from the asbestos cancer mesothelioma in England and Wales over recent years. Between 2010 and 2014, 11,011 people died from this disease with rates increasing by 13% over this period. The areas with the highest number of mesothelioma deaths in 2014 were: Birmingham (40), Sheffield (30), Leeds (32), Chester East (25) and Cornwall (24) with the highest age-standardised mortality rates recorded in: Barrow-in-Furness (14.3), South Tyneside (11.1), North Tyneside (10.9) and Fareham (10). See: ONS Mesothelioma Data.
Asbestos, Canada: A Lost Town?
Aug 28, 2015
A piece of photojournalism by Matthias Walendy about the former Quebec asbestos mining town called “Asbestos” includes images of the former mine, local businesses, streetscapes and townspeople. Walendy reports that while many of the residents still yearn for the old days, there is a sense of realism that pervades the population. It is incredible that the failure of the town to accept the reality of the asbestos hazard continues – the mine area remains open for quad bike riders to explore despite the fact that the contents of the tailings could be up to 12% raw asbestos fiber. See: A Town Called Asbestos.
Labor Supporting Asbestos Ban
Aug 28, 2015
The Central Única dos Trabalhadores (CUT / the Unified Workers' Central), Brazil’s national trade union center, is fighting attempts by commercial interests to repeal government guidance – Technical Note 141/2014 – protecting workers and their families from hazardous asbestos exposures. In a resolution issued on August 27, 2015 in São Paulo, CUT reiterated its support for a national asbestos ban and reasserted the need for the maximum protection to be provided for at-risk workers. See: CUT repudia a revogação da Nota sobre uso do Amianto [CUT repudiates repeal of technical guidance note on asbestos].
Protection from Asbestos Hazards
Aug 28, 2015
A commentary published on August 27, 2015 recaps new provisions in a government asbestos circular which mandated heightened workplace protection from asbestos hazards for public workers. The measures included: establishing and updating publicly accessible asbestos audits of public buildings, labelling hazardous products, maintaining tight dust controls, keeping asbestos exposure records for individual workers and providing medical surveillance. See: Amiante: une nouvelle circulaire traite de la prévention du risque d’exposition à l’amiante dans la fonction publique [Asbestos: a new circular deals with preventing the risk of exposure to asbestos in the public service].
Tense Ban Asbestos Hearing in Bahia!
Aug 27, 2015
Like the showdown at the OK Corral, pro- and anti- asbestos forces were out in force during hearings held in the Bahia State Legislative Assembly on August 20, 2015. Bill 20,985/2014 authored by State Representative Rosemberg Pinto aims to protect occupational health by prohibiting the use of this acknowledged carcinogen. Supporting the bill were campaigner Fernanda Giannasi and asbestos victims; opposing the prohibitions were Brazilian asbestos lobbyists and trade unionists aligned with the industry who alleged that chrysotile asbestos posed no risk to human beings. See: Audiência pública debate a proibição do Amianto [Public hearing debates asbestos ban].
Asbestos Exposure and Cancer
Aug 27, 2015
French scientists have published an analysis of data from a cohort of 2,000+ asbestos workers over three decades. An elevated incidence of peritoneal mesothelioma was found in women; in men, there were higher levels of peritoneal mesothelioma, oesophageal and liver cancer. The researchers noted: “Concerning colorectal cancer, a significant excess of risk was observed for men with exposure duration above 25 years…” An association was suggested between occupational asbestos exposure and cancers of the small intestine and liver. See: Digestive cancers and occupational asbestos exposure: incidence study in a cohort of asbestos plant workers.
Government to Ban Asbestos Imports
Aug 26, 2015
Opening the 2015 Conference of the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry Australasia in Nelson, New Zealand yesterday, Environment Minister Nick Smith said “targeted consultation” on a ban on the imports of asbestos-containing products was due to begin. The Minister projected a positive message about protecting occupational health and alleged that asbestos-containing products were only used in the marine, aviation and electricity generation and supply industries. “An inventory released by the ministry last year indicated that in most of these cases, alternative products were available.” See: Government to halt asbestos and HCFC imports, says Environment Minister.
Award for Pleural Plaques Sufferer
Aug 24, 2015
On August 14, 2015, a Labor Court in Brazil ordered Saint Gobain Industrial Products and Construction Ltd., owner of Brasilit one of the country’s asbestos giants, to pay the sum of $Reais100,000 (US$28,500) in moral damages plus costs for medical examinations to Antonio Martins Santos who has contracted pleural plaques from negligent occupational asbestos exposure. The court dismissed the company’s argument that an extrajudicial agreement reached with the claimant upon the termination of his employment relieved it of any and all liabilities. See: Brasilit Condenada em Processo de Placas Pleurais por Amianto [Brasilit condemned for Asbestos Exposure in Pleural Plaques Case].
Municipality Addresses Asbestos Hazard
Aug 24, 2015
The northern Italian town of Vigevano regards the removal of asbestos-cement roofs from private residences as a public health priority. On August 11, 2015, Mayor Andrea Sala ordered the removal of toxic roofing from a property near Santa Maria Street whose owners had not abided by a 2014 municipal edict to report and/or remediate contamination; failure to do so can result in large financial penalties. A dozen similar cases are being been dealt with by the town’s Department of Environmental Protection. Steps are also being taken by the town to deal with illegally dumped asbestos debris. See: I privati tolgano l’amianto dai tetti [Individuals remediate asbestos roofs].
Working Towards an Asbestos Ban?
Aug 24, 2015
At a seminar held last week in Phnom Penh, hundreds of delegates joined government officials and Cambodian and international experts to consider the occupational and public health hazards posed by the continuing use of asbestos. The event, which was organized by the Cambodian Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training and Union Aid Abroad (APEHDA), an overseas humanitarian aid agency of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, provided the opportunity to progress discussions on the formation of a national asbestos profile as recommended by the World Health Organization. See: Picture of Symposium Delegates.
Asbestos on Agenda
Aug 24, 2015
An academic conference entitled: “Cultural philanthro-capitalism and political art: the paradoxes of contemporary symbolic thinking” took place at the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana in Cali, Colombia on Thursday, August 20, 2015. The event was streamed live on the university’s website and featured a presentation by artist Guillermo Villamizar which discussed issues related to philanthropic capitalism and considered the case of asbestos entrepreneur, billionaire, art collector and “philanthropist” Stephen Schmidheiny, formerly head of the Swiss Eternit Group, one of the largest global asbestos conglomerates. See: Picture of Guillermo Villamizar speaking at the conference.
Loch Ness Monster: Asbestos in Schools
Aug 21, 2015
With two weeks until children return to school, results of a survey conducted in Belgium confirm widespread asbestos contamination of the educational infrastructure, with 70% of schools in Namur, a Walloon city in southern Belgium, containing a variety of asbestos materials. Although officials at the Albert Jacquard High School have confirmed the presence of asbestos and warned “there is no immediate danger,” a former teacher admitted that he would not send children to the asbestos contaminated schools. See: Notre enquête exclusive: de l'amiante dans 7 écoles sur 10 [Exclusive survey: asbestos in 7 our of 10 schools].
Cancer Legacy of Asbestos Processing
Aug 21, 2015
Research undertaken in the Italian town of Casale Monferrato substantiates the continuing hazard of living in a town decades after hazardous industrial operations ceased. The authors found that “having a garden or courtyard paved with AC tailings, an AC roof or AC buildings near home were associated with a significant increase in the OR (odds ratio for mesothelioma)” and confirmed the quantitative relationship between mesothelioma incidence and cumulative asbestos exposure, even at low levels of exposure. See: Pleural mesothelioma and occupational and non-occupational asbestos exposure: a case-control study with quantitative risk assessment.
Minister Commits to Asbestos Ban
Aug 20, 2015
At an asbestos symposium in Phnom Penh on August 19, Cambodia’s Minister of Labour Sam Heng confirmed the country’s continuing use of asbestos. Since 2009, the value of asbestos imports has grown from $1.3 to $4 million/year. Government speakers joined experts from Australia, Japan, Korea, Vietnam, Laos and the World Health Organization to consider the implications for public and occupational health of asbestos consumption, with Minister Heng telling delegates: “We are in the process of conducting a study, after which we will ask the government to stop the import and use of asbestos in order to ensure health security in the work place.” See: Gov’t eyes ban on asbestos.
Community Action Stops Toxic Waste Site
Aug 20, 2015
Community action has scuppered plans to open an asbestos waste disposal site near two schools in a residential area of Sulgrave, Washington. After scores of complaints, the Hebburn-based company behind the proposal withdrew its planning application to Sunderland council and recommenced efforts to find land on which to build a facility. Welcoming this result, one local activist said: “Washington people have been left with a grim legacy from a history of working and living with asbestos, costing many people their lives or health.” See: ‘Ridiculous’ asbestos site plans by school scrapped after outcry.
Confronting Salerno’s Asbestos Legacy
Aug 20, 2015
The city of Salerno, capital of the Italian Province of Salerno, has the dubious distinction of being one of Italy’s most asbestos-polluted regions, with large areas contaminated by Eternit asbestos-cement roofing material. Due to the legacy of local asbestos manufacturing and the residual environmental pollution, ten cases of the asbestos cancer mesothelioma are diagnosed every year. Municipal representatives and local activists are calling on officials from the Campania Region to provide funding to decontaminate derelict industrial sites. See: Tumori da amianto: in un anno dieci casi finiscono al Ruggi [Ten cases of asbestos cancer a year in Ruggi].
Asbestos Exposures Continue in the US
Aug 19, 2015
An article in the Huffington Post reviews recent reports of asbestos exposures in the states of Illinois and Colorado. Untrained and unequipped workers employed by Illinois companies were told to remove asbestos at a school and threatened with dismissal if they spoke to government inspectors. Classes at another Illinois school were transferred to a local church after mold was found on asbestos-containing insulation. In Colorado, asbestos was found in a stairwell and overhead spaces at the Denver Veterans Affairs Medical Center. Federal action to tackle the national asbestos legacy was called for. See: New Asbestos Threats Affect Vets, Workers, Children and Drinking Water.
Community Protest Asbestos Risk
Aug 19, 2015
WestConnex, one of the biggest infrastructure projects in New South Wales, Australia is facing fierce opposition from people in an inner Sydney suburb concerned about the removal of the equivalent of 70 Olympic-size pools of asbestos waste from the Alexandra landfill site adjacent to Sydney Park. On Friday, August 14 demonstrators blocked the road for three hours when they learned that asbestos would be removed from the designated site of a WestConnex interchange, despite the fact that no Environmental Impact Statement had been released or approval granted for the work. See: New battle front against WestCONnex.
Bahia to Ban Asbestos?
Aug 18, 2015
On August 20, the legislative assembly of the Brazilian State of Bahia will discuss a bill to ban the mining, sale and use of asbestos. Of Brazil’s 26 states, seven have already adopted asbestos prohibitions: Mato Grosso, Sao Paulo, Rio Grande do Sul, Minas Gerais, Rio de Janeiro, Pernambuco and Amazonas. During the hearing, a presentation supporting this legislation will be made by a representative of the Bahia Association of the Asbestos-Exposed. See: AL-BA discutirá projeto que proíbe extração de amianto na Bahia [AL-BA project will discuss banning asbestos mining in Bahia].
Illegal Dumping of Asbestos Waste
Aug 17, 2015
Last week, asbestos-cement debris from Nairobi was transported and illegally dumped near residential areas in Kiambu County, according to media reports issued today (August 17). Kiambu County official Esther Njuguna condemned the illegal disposal near the Makongeni, Kiganjo and Kisii estates as “criminal and unscrupulous.” “Dumping in the open exposes thousands of residents to grave health risks,” she said. Coincidentally, Kenya’s sole registered site for the disposal of asbestos waste is in Gatuanyaga, a short distance from the Kang’oki dumpsite. See: Thika residents exposed to health risks as asbestos waste is dumped in the open.
Call for African Asbestos Bans
Aug 17, 2015
A document released on August 15 by the World Health Organization highlighted the data gaps regarding the incidence of asbestos-related diseases caused by occupational exposures in Africa, and the lack of progress on eliminating hazardous exposures which this information vacuum has caused. Reconfirming the WHO’s call for national action on asbestos, Regional Director for Africa Dr Matshidiso Moeti said: “The most efficient way to prevent direct and secondary exposures to asbestos is to stop the production and use of all forms, including chrysotile.” See: Asbestos use continues in Africa despite severe health warnings.