News Item Archive
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Displaying first 25 items in reverse date order (default)
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.
Documentation of Asbestos Scourge
Aug 21, 2014
The High Council of Public Health has issued a report documenting the deadly impact asbestos exposure continues to have on French citizens. In the document which went online last week, the Council estimated that up to 118,400 deaths could have been due to occupational exposures to asbestos between 1955 and 2009; the vast majority of the deaths were due to lung cancer. The report predicts that between 2009 and 2050, up to 100,000 more people could die from asbestos-related diseases such as mesothelioma and cancer of the lungs, larynx, and ovary. See: FRANCE. Amiante: près de 100.000 décès d'ici à 2050 [FRANCE. Asbestos: nearly 100,000 deaths by 2050].
Prison Sentence for Asbestos Crimes
Aug 21, 2014
On August 20, Stafford Crown Court was told about illegal works carried out in 2012 at a former print works in Stoke-on-Trent by two brothers which hazardously exposed seven workmen to asbestos. The HSE prosecution of Akram and Inam Hussain, neither one of whom was licensed to remove asbestos, resulted in jail sentences of 22 months for the former and 14 months for the latter for breaching section 3(2) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. After the trial, an HSE inspector said: “The Hussains failed in their duty by choosing to ignore the dangers of this hidden killer.” See: Brothers given custodial sentence for exposing workers to asbestos.
Fernanda Giannasi Honored in Brasilia
Aug 15, 2014
On Monday, August 11, 2014, ban asbestos activist Fernanda Giannasi was awarded Brazil’s highest honor – the Order of Judicial Merit for Labor – at a gala ceremony in Brasilia (see: Picture of ceremony). Having received the commendation, Ms. Giannasi explained that it was: “recognition of a struggle that is not only mine, but all asbestos victims and their families. This shows the concern of the Brazilian judiciary with the exploitation of this deadly fiber which caused a health catastrophe of the century.” See: Top Brazilian Award for Fernenda Giannasi and also Fernanda Giannasi é condecorada com a ordem do mérito [Fernanda Giannasi is awarded the Order of Merit].
India’s Asbestos Time Bomb
Aug 14, 2014
As India’s asbestos sector grows rich, vested interests continue to promote the sale of a discredited technology with glitzy pseudo-scientific conferences, imported hired gun scientists and public statements proclaiming the innocuous nature of their product. Despite asbestos bans in industrialized countries and recommendations from international agencies that use should be stopped on health grounds, Indian sales of asbestos-cement construction materials are booming. Public opposition is on the rise with protesters destroying construction on a site earmarked for an asbestos factory in Bihar State. See: Asbestos still pushed in India and business is booming.
Lobbying for Asbestos Ban
Aug 13, 2014
On August 8, 2014, representatives of the Thailand Ban Asbestos Network (T-BAN) petitioned the Ministry of Industry (MOI) for an immediate ban on the use of asbestos, support for the use of safer materials, a national fund for victims and implementation of preventative measures and medical protocols. (see: T-BAN Statement). Commenting on the meeting, T-BAN representative Mrs. Somboon Seekamdokkae said “We asked the MOI to think about Thai people’s health and after 70 years, not to give the industry more time to kill citizens from asbestos-related diseases.” Sakda Pankla, the deputy director-general of the Department of Industrial Works, received the T-BAN delegation (see: photo of the meeting).
Petition For Asbestos Ban
Aug 12, 2014
On August 5, 2014, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Labor Organization (ILO) sent a letter to Vietnam authorities urging that action be taken to prohibit the use of asbestos in construction materials. WHO and ILO representatives highlighted the community health, economic and social security benefits of banning asbestos and urged Vietnam to develop a program to eliminate the use of asbestos. WHO and ILO offered to provide technical support for Vietnam to end asbestos-related diseases. See: WHO sends proposal to stop the use of asbestos to the Prime Minister.
Asia’s Asbestos Time Bomb
Aug 12, 2104
An article published today explores the disconnect between asbestos vested interests and civil society campaigners over whether or not India’s expanding asbestos sector is a good or bad thing for the country. While spokesmen for India's Asbestos Cement Products Manufacturers Association say they are providing a vital public service to the nation, activists say that the commercial exploitation of asbestos endangers not only workers but also members of the public. The opposition by local people to the construction of an asbestos-cement factory in Bihar State and the high-profile media campaign mounted by asbestos lobbyists are discussed. See: Asbestos pushed in Asia as product for the poor.
Capital’s Asbestos Pandemic
Aug 10, 2014
The use of asbestos-containing insulation in Canberra has left the capital with a deadly and costly legacy. An exposé which appeared on August 6th detailed the background to this catastrophe and highlighted the missed opportunities which could have prevented the tragedy. At the heart of this story was the commercial exploitation by Australian entrepreneur Dirk Jansen of an insulation product called Asbestosfluf which was made from amphibole asbestos. In the late 1960s, an expert warned the government that installers of this product were being “unnecessarily exposed to a harmful substance” when alternatives existed. See: Revealed: How the scandalous Mr Fluffly legacy lives on.
Delay in Vote on Ban
Aug 9, 2014
On August 5, 2014, a draft bill to ban asbestos was scheduled for debate at the Santa Catarina Legislative Assembly; four previous attempts had been defeated after pressure from asbestos lobbyists. The deputy-reporter, who is responsible for ascertaining the constitutionality of the bill, postponed the vote until September 2 alleging that more time was needed. Supporters of the ban, who were present at the meeting of the Committee of Justice and Constitutionality, said the delay was politically motivated; the deputy-reporter is known to be opposed to the ban. According to the ban supporters, there is overwhelming public support for unilateral action to protect citizens of the State from the asbestos hazard.
Environmental Asbestos Hazard
Aug 8, 2014
The scandal of asbestos contamination in the Italian Province of Lecce, in the southeast of the country, has led local associations and campaigners to take direct action to protect public health. According to an environmental survey, the situation in the towns of Lecce and Salento is particularly severe “with whole areas of the city affected by the phenomenon and never reclaimed.” Requests for a detailed urban plan to raise asbestos awareness, remediate land and decontaminate affected properties have been made. See: Amianto, petizione di Adoc e Ilse al sindaco Perrone [Asbestos, ADOC and Ilse petition to Mayor Perrone].
Asbestos Hazard for Shipbreakers
Aug 7, 2014
Shipbreaking workers, who spend their days dismantling ships on the beaches of Chittagong, work in extremely dangerous conditions and are exposed to a multitude of dangerous substances, including asbestos. The reality as described by the workers is far from that asserted by the yard owners who maintain that the workforce has all the protection required. An article informed by the experience of the Brussels-based NGO Shipbreaking Platform describes a cut-throat industry where both ships and workers are scrapped on a daily basis. See: Visiting the Deadly Shipbreaking Yards of Bangladesh.
Asbestos Hazard in War Zone
Aug 6, 2014
Highlighting the latent health threat of asbestos contamination in war zones, Israel’s Environmental Protection Minister Amir Peretz has announced plans to replace asbestos roofs in hundreds of houses on “the front line of the Gaza perimeter communities.” In one farm at Ein Hashlosha, 80 buildings have 7,000 square meters of asbestos-cement roofing; 60 sq.m. per house. While the financing of removal and replacements costs has yet to be finalized, the Minister remained “confident that the program will receive swift government support and financing from partner organizations.” See: State and local council to replace asbestos roofs in the line of fire from Gaza.
Asbestos Risk to Police
Aug 4, 2014
Asbestos contamination at the Valmontorio shooting range in Rome where police personnel have trained has been revealed. More than 3,500 members of staff have used this facility for up to a week at a time, not to mention individuals who worked at the site. Training and use of this building have now been suspended as officials work on plans to monitor the health of those who have been exposed. According to official documents, the presence of asbestos was discovered here two years ago. See: Roma – Poligono di tiro all’amianto 3.500 vigili urbani a rischio [Rome – Asbestos at shooting range; 3,500 policemen at risk].
Risk to Construction Workers
Aug 4, 2014
Despite the existence of asbestos bans in the Middle East, construction expert Charles Faulkner has concerns about the use of asbestos-containing building products in power stations, office blocks, residential accommodation and schools. He says that prohibitions are “not an effective guarantee that Asbestos won’t make its way into a new construction project” due to lack of enforcement, effective penalties and awareness. Hazardous exposures resulting from unsafe demolition are putting the lives of workers and members of the public at risk. Faulkner calls for a comprehensive and evolved asbestos policy to reduce the incidence of asbestos-related disease. See: Silent killer.