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Toxic Talc!

Apr 16, 2021

A year after Johnson & Johnson announced plans to withdraw its iconic talc-based baby powder from sale in North America), British Parliamentarians condemned “the hypercritical and unjustifiable action by the American pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson which in 2020 withdrew from North American markets its talc-based baby powder, found to be contaminated with asbestos fibre by Government and independent laboratories, but continued to sell that product in countries all over the world including the UK.” See: EDM (Early Day Motion) 1718: Talcum powder, asbestos contaminants and cancer.
 

Spring Propaganda Offensive

Apr 16, 2021

A text purporting to be a news article was little more than a press release by asbestos vested interests. The “article,” which appeared on the website of Izvestia – a popular Russian newspaper – extolled the properties of chrysotile (white) asbestos roofing material, going as far as to call it “folk tiles.” Discounting all the safer alternative products as too costly for use, the author asserted that asbestos roofing “almost completely covers the needs of large groups of the population.” Exposure to chrysotile was not harmful as its fibers, the author incorrectly stated, can be dissolved by the body. See: Народный шифер: что нужно знать о самом доступном кровельном материале [Folk tiles: what you need to know about the most affordable roofing material].
 

Eternit Prosperity Post-Asbestos

Apr 16, 2021

An interview with the CEO of the former asbestos giant of Brazil – Eternit S.A. – focused on how the company, which had long bemoaned the adverse effect an asbestos ban would have on its financial prospects, has prospered in the years since it transitioned to an asbestos-free technology. By way of explanation, Eternit CEO Luis Augusto Barbosa talked about the the huge sums involved in the technology transfer, the debts incurred, the financial reorganization and divestments needed by the company to adapt to the new reality. See: Como a Eternit se reergueu ao deixar o amianto? Veja entrevista com o CEO [How did Eternit rise when it left asbestos? See interview with the CEO].
 

Asbestos in Schools

Apr 15, 2021

From April 16 until May 4, 2021, the Education Department of the South Korean Province of Gyeonggi-do will conduct an asbestos outreach project to educate teachers, school support staff, students, and parents about the nature of asbestos and the implications of asbestos material present in Gyeonggi-do’s schools. This training program has been operational since 2019. Asbestos eradication work, which began in Gyeonggi-do schools in 2016, has to date, remediated 1,614 schools. See: 발암물질 석면...경기도교육청 '석면 이해 교육'진행페이스북트위터공유하기추천댓글0원고료로 응원원고료로 응원 [Asbestos, a carcinogen...Proceed with Gyeonggi-do Office of Education ‘Asbestos Understanding Education’].
 

Post-Cyclone Asbestos Alert

Apr 16, 2021

West Australians in a town hit by Cyclone Seroja this week have been warned about the hazard posed by asbestos debris. People in Kalbarri have been told to follow guidelines to minimize toxic exposures during clean-up operations. According to media reports, 25% of the buildings damaged by the storm contained asbestos in roofs, walls or fencing. A spokesperson from the Perth-based Asbestos Diseases Society warned: “In Western Australia, we have the most deadly [asbestos] fibre… It needs to be promptly cleaned up while it’s still damp.” See: Cyclone Seroja: Asbestos the new concern facing Kalbarri residents trying to clean up.
 

Spanish Asbestos Fund

Apr 16, 2021

On April 13, 2021, Spain’s Congress approved draft legislation proposed by the Basque Parliament to create an autonomous administrative Asbestos Victims Compensation Fund to distribute financial support to victims of environmental as well as occupational asbestos exposures in Spain. Funding for this initiative will include contributions from: public and private employers and mutual insurance companies for accidents at work and occupational diseases. See: El Congreso da luz verde a la tramitación de la Proposición de Ley de creación de un fondo de compensación para las víctimas del amianto [Congress gives the green light to the processing of the Bill to create a compensation fund for asbestos victims].
 

New Asbestos Cancer Treatment Tool

Apr 14, 2021

The use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) for assessing mesothelioma patients has been pioneered by researchers in Scotland who have developed a prototype AI system with the ability to recognize the tumours using an AI algorithm. This revolutionary healthcare breakthrough was achieved by the Scottish medical imaging software firm Canon Medical Research Europe in collaboration with researchers at the University of Glasgow. “Not only does it have the potential to revolutionise mesothelioma cancer care through more targeted treatment,” said one of its funders “but it may also be able to be applied to a number of other cancer types in the future.” See: AI technology used to track asbestos cancer tumours.
 

Asbestos Compensation Fund

Apr 14, 2021

On Monday April 12, 2021, it was announced by National Deputy Néstor Rego, at a meeting in Ferrol of the Galician Association of Asbestos Victims, that the Galician National Bloc (BNG) – an alliance of left-wing nationalist parties in the autonomous Spanish community of Galicia – would support an Asbestos Victims’ Compensation Fund bill in Congress with the purpose of establishing a fund to provide compensation for victims in Galicia. See: O BNG defenderá no Congreso a concesión “obxectiva” das indemnizacións ás vítimas do amianto [The BNG will defend in Congress plans to grant compensation to asbestos victims].
 

Deadly Asbestos Legacy

Apr 14, 2021

The 2.5 million tons of asbestos waste buried at Belgian dumpsites was described as a “gigantic time bomb” in an article uploaded on April 9, 2021. Every year, 150,000 tons of this toxic waste are deposited at a landfill site in Antwerp, according to Frank Bal, head of technical and commercial services at Indaver, the company that manages the site: “About half comes from our own facilities, these are residues from our waste treatment processes. The other half comes from external customers who deliver materials considered to be toxic to us.” See: Des millions de tonnes d’amiante dorment dans les décharges belges: “Les générations à venir seront les victimes” [Millions of tons of asbestos lie dormant in Belgian landfills: “The generations to come will be the victims”].
 

Asbestos Anxiety at Renault

Apr 14, 2021

On April 8, 2021, a labor tribunal in Lyon acknowledged the validity of only a third of the asbestos anxiety claims submitted in one of the biggest cases brought to an industrial tribunal in France. Whilst 474 claims from former workers at the Renault Trucks’ Vénissieux factory were accepted, 666 were rejected. These 1,200 cases were submitted to the industrial tribunal in March 2019; a verdict in another action against Renault for 200 more victims of asbestos anxiety is expected at the end of this month. See: 666 salariés déboutés au procès de l’amiante à Renault Trucks: «on n’arrive pas à comprendre» [666 employees rejected in the asbestos lawsuit at Renault Trucks: “we can't understand”].
 

Battle over Scrapping of the Sao Paulo

Apr 14, 2021

Public opposition is building over plans to dismantle a toxic Brazilian warship in a shipbreaking yard in Izmir. Environmentalists and scientists are speaking out about the hazard posed to workers and local people by plans to scrap the Sao Paulo aircraft carrier at the Aliaga yard. A petition has been submitted to the Aliaga Port Authority stating: “We do not want ships to enter our territorial waters to be recycled. Ship dismantling yards should be closed.” A new platform, bringing together groups opposed to the ship’s scrapping in Turkey, has announced it would start a legal battle to ban the vessel from entering the country. See: Bir zehir gemisi daha Türkiye yolunda [Turkey to accept another poison ship].
 

Appeal of Victim’s Verdict

Apr 14, 2021

On April 9, it was announced that a decision by the Osaka High Court – acknowledging the 2013 asbestos cancer (mesothelioma) death of Kazunori Shimatani had been caused by asbestos exposure during clean-up operations after the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake – was being appealed by the Local Government Employees Accident Compensation Fund. Commenting on this development, a family member said: “I am angry that the agency for the relief of the victims did not take the court's decision seriously…” See: 震災がれき回収でアスベスト被害 基金が判決不服として控訴 [Asbestos damage fund appeals against judgment due to earthquake debris collection].
 

Post-Blast Asbestos Disaster

Apr 12, 2021

Months after blasts devastated the Port of Beirut, nothing has been done about the hazard posed by asbestos debris collected in the aftermath of the explosion. According to environment specialist Samar Khalil, asbestos-containing waste was dumped in the Achrafieh district of Beirut on a vacant lot “located a few meters from apartment buildings and a sports ground popular with the inhabitants of the district.” MP Imad Wakim deplored the informal asbestos dumpsites in the Karm Al-Zaitoun neighborhood of the city and castigated the municipal authorities, NGOs, UN agencies and the national government for failing to address the deadly situation. See (subscription site): Que faire des débris du port de Beyrouth contaminés par l’amiante? [What to do with the debris of the port of Beirut contaminated by asbestos?].
 

Legal Victory for Power Workers

Apr 12, 2021

On March 31, 2021, asbestos anxiety claims were recognized by the Paris Court of Appeal for two hundred workers from the French electricity generating company EDF, each of whom was awarded €10,000 (US$12,000); the plaintiffs had worked at EDF power stations in Loire-sur-Rhône, Saint-Ouen, Vitry, Champagne-sur-Oise, Creil, Strasbourg, Blénod and Porcheville. The previous month, the court had recognized asbestos anxiety claims from 21 operatives from the EDF Porcheville site. All the claimants are suffering from distress caused by knowledge of the toxic workplace exposures they had experienced. See: Amiante: environ 200 ex-salariés d’EDF indemnisés pour un préjudice d’anxiété [Asbestos: around 200 former EDF employees compensated for anxiety damage].
 

Update: Asbestos Ban Bill

Apr 12, 2021

The first reading of a bill (No. 4142) to ban asbestos was approved by the Ukraine Parliament. The draft legislation prohibited: “The production and use of asbestos, regardless of the type, as well as asbestos-containing products and materials, is prohibited in technological processes and in the implementation of construction and installation work at any facilities.” According to Mikhail Radutsky, Chair of Ukraine’s Parliamentary Committee for Health, Medical Care and Medical Insurance, the ban legislation is facing stiff opposition from the “asbestos lobby.” See: Законопроект о системе общественного здоровья ко второму чтению получил около 900 поправок – Радуцкий [Public health system bill receives about 900 amendments to the second reading – Radutsky].
 

Alert: Asbestos Water Pipes

Apr 12, 2021

The danger posed by the delivery of water through asbestos-cement water pipes in Sakarya – a Turkish Province on the Black Sea coast – was highlighted last week by Sakarya politician Ecevit Keleş who stated that the problem, which was a serious issue affecting public health, needed to be addressed urgently. He called for a collaborative effort by every level of government, from Mayor Ekrem Yüce to President Erdogan and including municipal, provincial and national health and administrative authorities, to prioritize the replacement of the toxic pipes with safer alternatives. See: Keleş, Sakarya'da asbestli borularının olduğunu ifade etti! [Keles stated that they have asbestos pipes in Sakarya!].
 

Free Asbestos Medical Care

Apr 12, 2021

A new healthcare program which will start treating patients at high risk of contracting diseases from toxic exposures in asbestos hotspots – near asbestos factories, mines, development sites, or areas with a high density of asbestos roofing – was announced this month by the Asbestos Environmental Health Center at Cheonan Hospital. As of November 8, 2021, members of the public from the South Korean areas of Anyang, Gyeonggi-do, Ulsan Ulju-gun, Cheongju-si, Chungbuk, Pyeongtaek-si, Gyeonggi-do and Nowon-gu (Seoul) will be eligible for free medical check-ups and support. See: 순천향대천안병원, 석면피해우려 지역 실태 조사 [Sooncheonhyang University Cheonan Hospital surveys the actual condition of areas concerned with asbestos damage].
 

Interruption of Asbestos Remediation Work

Apr 12, 2021

The efforts of contractors employed to replace asbestos-cement water pipes at a site in Veria, Macedonia, Northern Greece were interrupted by the discovery of human remains on April 7, 2021. The on-duty archaeologist reported the presence of the human skeleton at the excavation to the authorities. Upon a superficial examination, it was believed that the remains belonged to a young person who had died 1,000 years ago. Work at the site was temporarily suspended. See: Βρέθηκε ανθρώπινος σκελετός σε “αρχαίο” τάφο κατά τη διάρκεια εργασιών στο κέντρο της Βέροιας [Human skeleton found in "ancient" tomb during work in the center of Veria].
 

Ukraine’s Asbestos War

Apr 9, 2021

As Ukraine Parliamentarians work to protect citizens from potentially deadly exposures to asbestos by adopting legislation banning its use, industry stakeholders have gone on the media offensive to incite support for asbestos-containing building products by alleging that the new law would force the removal of toxic roofing and that asbestos-free products would be prohibitively expensive. A one-sided pro-asbestos article, which categorized the situation as a war between medicine vs economics, warned that “Panic is already rising in the villages.” See: В Украине хотят запретить использовать шифер и еще ряд стройматериалов. Заставят ли людей менять крыши? [In Ukraine, they want to ban the use of slate and a number of other building materials. Will people be forced to change roofs?].
 

Beirut: Asbestos Update

Apr 9, 2021

According to expert Samar Khalil, the hazard posed by asbestos contamination after the 2020 explosions in Beirut remains unaddressed. “Asbestos was,” she said “present in a large part of the buildings in the Port of Beirut where it had been commonly used as roofing and wall covering materials in warehouses.” While most of the asbestos found in the debris was chrysotile, there were also some samples which contained crocidolite. Neither the national government nor local authorities have accepted responsibility for disposing of the toxic debris. See: Samar Khalil: « Aucune disposition n’a encore été prise pour régler le problème de l’amiante dans les débris de l’explosion du Port » [Samar Khalil: “No provision has yet been made to resolve the problem of asbestos in the debris of the Port explosion”].
 

Memorial to Asbestos & Other Victims

Apr 9, 2021

Since 2016, the Environmental Health Citizen Center in South Korea has marked Arbor Day with an activity to honor environmental victims with a tree-planting ceremony. The Center’s efforts on April 5, 2021 were reported on the front-page of two newspapers along with photographs of participants digging holes and planting saplings in Noeul Park, Seoul. The victims being remembered included people who had died of exposures to asbestos and radon as well as those who had been fatally injured through their use of humidifier disinfectants. See: 식목일, 환경피해자 ‘추모의 숲’ 나무심기 [Arbor Day, planting trees in the ‘memorial forest’ for environmental victims].
 

Asbestos Plan Unfair to Claimants

Apr 9, 2021

Attorneys representing US asbestos claimants have expressed serious concerns over a bankruptcy deal proposed by Cyprus Mines Corporation (CMC) which is facing hundreds of US asbestos lawsuits; if the deal were approved, CMC would pay $130 million into a personal injury claims trust in return for protection from future claims. During the 1990s, CMC had been taken over by Imerys Talc America, a supplier to Johnson & Johnson. Approval of the Chapter 11 filing is being delayed by Delaware Judge Laurie Selber Silverstein who is demanding supplemental information on how the settlement would affect the payment of asbestos injury claims in the future. See: Cyprus Mines insolvency deal under scrutiny in US.
 

Asbestos Cancer during A Pandemic

Apr 9, 2021

Surveys of mesothelioma patients and their carers, and of mesothelioma clinical nurse specialists, examined the impact of the pandemic on patients’ lives. The researchers found that mesothelioma patients and their carers were “disproportionately affected” in a variety of ways including: interruption of treatment and examinations, disruption of communication with healthcare teams, lack of clarity over shielding and additional emotional and psychological burdens. Recommendations for improvements included: prioritizing the reinstatement of all mesothelioma services, offering patients face-to-face appointments, providing support through regular “check-in” calls from healthcare providers, etc. See: Effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on people with mesothelioma and their carers.
 

Alert 2021: Asbestos Hazard on Ships

Apr 9, 2021

Despite International Maritime Organization regulations banning the use of asbestos-containing products on board ships’ as of January 1 2011 (see: IMO Circular 1374), more than 65% of vessels still contain asbestos. The toxic products are found not only on older ships but also on newbuilds which are delivered with asbestos-free declarations. The composition of spare parts is also problematic as “a gasket that is classified asbestos-free in Singapore or the US may not be considered asbestos-free in, say Australia, New Zealand or France…” See: More Than 65% Of All Ships Are Operating With Systems Containing Asbestos.
 

Sad Announcement

Apr 8, 2021

On April 2, 2021, respected occupational medicine specialist and civil society activist Dr Angelo Mancini died aged 68 at Novara hospital in the Italian town of Casale Monferrato. Dr Mancini had been at the forefront of efforts to reclaim asbestos-contaminated sites in the town and was a key advisor to the Turin public prosecutor who brought the largest asbestos class action against international defendants for the damage their decisions had done to factory workers, family members and local residents in Italian cities. See: Addio ad Angelo Mancini, il trinese pioniere della lotta all'amianto [Farewell to Angelo Mancini, the Trino pioneer in the fight against asbestos].
 

Thousands More US Asbestos Tragedies

Apr 8, 2021

An April 3 expose detailed the tragedy caused by toxic exposures of up to 6,000 workers who had been employed at a Minnesota factory producing mineral board and ceiling tile products using asbestos. The plant belonged to the Conwed company – formerly known as the Wood Conversion Co. – and was located in the town of Cloquet; although it closed in 1985, members of its workforce continue to contract deadly diseases caused by workplace exposures to asbestos between 1958 and 1974, when the company ceased using asbestos. The article focuses on the case of Gene “Randy” Backe, who died of the asbestos cancer mesothelioma last year. See: Minnesota factory workers feel aftermath of asbestos 36 years later.
 

Mobilization in Mont-Saint-Vincent

Apr 8, 2021

Members of the group “Preserve Mont Saint Vincent,” who are protesting plans to dump asbestos in their area, took their campaign to the Cluny outdoor market on April 3, 2021, having lobbied shoppers at the Montceau market the week before. This week their efforts yielded a further 315 signatures to a petition, which has, to date, attracted 1,152 signatures. The petitioners are urging the municipality of Mont-Saint-Vincent to reject the application of the Rougeot company to bury asbestos waste in the Bourgueuil quarry and to adopt a policy based on “a sustainable management of resources and the environment.” See: Non à l’amiante – Après le marché de Montceau, celui de Cluny [No to asbestos – After the Montceau market, the Cluny market].
 

Failure to Enforce Asbestos Regulations

Apr 8, 2021

Although asbestos use was banned in Turkey in 2010 given the widespread use of asbestos products before then, the speed of urban regeneration and the failure of municipalities to enforce regulations, toxic exposures to asbestos continue to occur on a routine basis during renovation and demolition work. The article cited below provides data highlighting the failure of Kartal Municipality to protect workers and local people from asbestos liberated by unsafe working practices; of the 567 buildings earmarked for development between 2018 and 2020, mandatory asbestos regulations were obeyed at only 73 sites. See: Kentsel dönüşümün yoğunca yaşandığı ülkemizde asbest sorunu büyüyor [Growing problem of asbestos in urban transformation in Turkey].
 

Milan Court: Victim’s Verdict

Apr 8, 2021

Last week, a court in Milan recognized the culpability of Sacfem – formerly one of the largest employers in Arezzo, eastern Tuscany – and awarded substantial damages (€600,000+/ US$705,000) to the family of a worker who had died from the asbestos cancer mesothelioma contracted as a result of occupational exposures to asbestos. Sacfem, which closed 40 years ago, initially specialized in the production of railway carriages and then branched out into the production of building materials, at its height employing 1,000 people. See: Ucciso dall’amianto: maxi-risarcimento a ex operaio Sacfem [Killed by asbestos: maxi-compensation to a former Sacfem worker (subscription site)].
 

José María Íñigo Case Update

Apr 8, 2021

An interview with Andrea Peiró, a lawyer for José María Íñigo's family, explained the multiple stages of the legal case against the deceased broadcaster’s former employer and the repercussions of a recent judicial ruling in the family’s favor: “We have won the first battle… which is the sentence in the first instance. The opposing party has the possibility of appealing it before the Superior Court of Justice of Madrid, but we are very hopeful because the sentence has been very good, its content is very positive for us. It is very well founded.” See: José María Íñigo: hablamos con la abogada de su familia [José María Íñigo: we spoke with his family's lawyer].
 

Russian Asbestos-Free Building Materials

Apr 7, 2021

The economic, social and political clout that Russian asbestos vested interests have long exercised on the national asbestos dialogue seems to be crumbling day by day. The news just released of a range of asbestos-free building products which will be manufactured and sold in Russia marks a turning point in the world’s largest asbestos-producing country. The new material, which is based on Calcium Silcate, was developed by Russian technical experts via a pilot project in China. Manufacturing of the products will begin in Russia in 2025. See: ИзолМакс — огнезащита нового поколения [IzolMax – new generation fire protection].
 

Asbestos Alert in Seville

Apr 7, 2021

In reply to enquiries made by Esperanza Gómez, the coordinator of Más País (More Country – a political platform formed in 2019) Andalucía, the Technical Office of Municipal Buildings of Seville City Council, admitted that it did not have a list of buildings containing asbestos despite having agreed in 2016 to begin the process of eradicating asbestos from educational structures. Gomez raised concerns over the incredibly slow progress to decontaminate schools and protect children from asbestos exposures saying: “We cannot have our boys and girls in schools with materials that affect their health.” See: Sevilla in Andalucia Spain Admits There is ‘No List’ Of Buildings Containing Deadly Asbestos.
 

Asbestos Hazard in Chlorine Production

Apr 7, 2021

For seven years, trade unions and asbestos victims have been waiting for a legal case to be brought over asbestos exposures at the Chloralp company’s chemical plant in Pont-de-Claix, France. Asbestos fibers in a liquid solution were routinely used to seal crack in equipment used for the production of chlorine despite a national asbestos ban. In 2005, this practice was described by a labor inspector as “totally unacceptable.” The inspector also noted that the “liquid asbestos” was unsafely stored in poorly labelled and leaking containers. Between 2002 and 2005, more than 800 kg of asbestos were used at the plant. See: Amiante: Sept ans d'inertie judiciaire, des dizaines de morts [Asbestos: Seven years of judicial inertia, dozens of deaths].
 

Prison Sentence for Asbestos Crimes?

Apr 7, 2021

On March 26, 2021, the US Department of Justice (DOJ) confirmed that Gunay Yakup – an asbestos abatement operative and supervisor – had admitted involvement in an illegal conspiracy to remove asbestos at a former IBM site in Kingston, New York in 2016. Due to time constraints imposed upon him by other conspirators, Yakup took the decision to violate mandatory practices for the stripping, bagging, removal and disposal of asbestos as stipulated under the Clean Air Act. Sentencing will take place on July 27; the maximum penalty for these crimes is five years in prison. See: Abatement Supervisor Pleads Guilty to Illegally Removing Asbestos.
 

Changes to Asbestos Regulation

Apr 7, 2021

As of May 1, 2021, WorkSafe Queensland is increasing the restrictions on work with asbestos-containing material. From then, low density asbestos fibre board (LDB), also known as asbestos insulating board, will be classified as a friable material in all circumstances. As a result, LDB can only legally be removed by a class A asbestos removal licence holder. These changes affect class B asbestos removal licence holders as well as business and tradespeople who carry out maintenance and service work involving LDB installed in buildings, plant or equipment. New regulations will be in force for: repairing damaged LDB, painting LDB, drilling a hole in LDB, moving LDB ceiling tiles, installing or removing fixtures or fittings. See: Changes to asbestos regulation.
 

Providing Support for Asbestos Victims

Apr 7, 2021

A loophole in Australian regulations means that whilst workers who were exposed to asbestos can claim compensation should they contract asbestos-related diseases, people who were non-occupationally exposed to asbestos cannot. One such case is that of 54-year-old James Wallner who has contracted the signature asbestos cancer mesothelioma from having lived in a Canberra home with asbestos-containing “Mr. Fluffy” insulation. As a result of publicity generated by the case, the Australian government is, said Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt, now exploring options to provide compensation for victims of non-occupational asbestos exposures. See: Commonwealth takes first steps towards new compensation fund for asbestos victims.
 

Financial Woes of Asbestos Company

Apr 6, 2021

Political lobbying at the highest level in Russia has pleaded for government action to bolster the finances of the country’s major asbestos producer Uralasbest, which a politician from the Sverdlovsk region said on March 30, was carrying an onerous tax burden by being classified as as a “mining and chemical raw materials” company rather than a producer of “non-metallic raw materials used mainly in the construction industry.” See: Мишустина попросили спасти свердловский завод от высоких налогов. Этого ждет весь город [Mishustin was asked to save the Sverdlovsk plant from high taxes. This is what the whole city is waiting for].
 

Asbestos Company: Truth or Lies?

Apr 6, 2021

Eternit S.A., a company which only just emerged from the Brazilian equivalent of Chapter 11, on March 29, 2021 announced its purchase of a major competitor Confibra at a cost of R $ 110 million (~US$20m). The actions of Eternit lead one to suspect that its finances might not have been in such dire straits after all; it had blamed the 2017 Brazilian asbestos ban as the source of its financial woes. Ban asbestos campaigners had, however, long suspected the company was been less than truthful about the adverse effects of the ban on its financial prospects. See: Eternit compra concorrente do setor de telhas Confibra por R$ 110 milhões [Eternit buys competitor in the Confibra roofing sector for R $ 110 million].
 

Asbestos Hazard in Shipbreaking Yard

Apr 6, 2021

Civil society campaigners in Turkey continue to raise the alarm over plans to scrap the redundant Brazilian aircraft carrier the São Paulo at the Aliağa shipbreaking yards in Izmir, Turkey. Spokesmen from the Asbestos Association Recycling Professionals and the Aegean Environment and Culture Platform (EGEÇEP) have made public statements about the threat to occupational and public health posed by the import of the asbestos-contaminated ship with EGEÇEP’s Eşsözcü Ali Osman Karababa pointing out that the right of citizens to live in a healthy environment is guaranteed by the country’s constitution. See: 600 ton asbest barındıran uçak gemisi Aliağa'da sökülecek [The aircraft carrier with 600 tons of asbestos will be dismantled in Aliağa].
 

Supporting Basque Asbestos Victims

Apr 6, 2021

On April 13, 2021, the Basque Congress of Deputies will vote on a bill to create an asbestos fund to award compensation to asbestos victims; it was estimated that there are 30,000 workers in Galicia alone who could be eligible to bring claims. Trade unions and asbestos victims’ groups have been lobbying for this scheme. This fund is, they say, “the only way to begin to pay off a debt that, as a society, we have contracted with those who continue to get sick and die from exposures that could and should have been avoided.” See: El Congreso vota este mes el fondo de compensación del amianto [Congress votes this month on asbestos compensation fund].
 

App to Access Asbestos Use Database

Apr 6, 2021

An application launched in November 2020 by the Arobiz company in France is being recommended to help protect do-it-yourself handymen from unexpected exposures to asbestos contained throughout the French infrastructure. The application sourced information from a public database of 4 million premises including apartment buildings, shops, offices, schools and even single-occupancy family homes. Commenting on the particular hazard to DIYers, Arobiz’s owner Jérôme Vergnolle said: "With Covid-19 and the repeated lockdowns, we are all becoming [DIY] tinkerers, but few people learn about the potential asbestos risk." See: Le bricolage, oui, mais quel est le risque amiante? Une appli vous le dit [DIY, yes, but what is the asbestos risk? An app tells you].
 

Recycling the Asbestos Hazard

Apr 6, 2021

Thousands of recycled asbestos-containing safes, cabinets and filing cabinets have found new homes in Ireland over recent years as EU companies sought to rid themselves of toxic products without incurring huge costs for asbestos removal and/or disposal. Despite asbestos also having been banned in Ireland, these goods were imported via the UK and sold on the second-hand market due to failures by regulators to prevent the trade, and lack of asbestos awareness by consumers. Once in Ireland, toxic safes, fire cabinets and vaults were refitted and re-sprayed and sold. See: Has Ireland become a Toxic Waste Dump for Asbestos Contaminated Safes & Cabinets?
 

Asbestos Too Toxic in Word and Deed!

Mar 31, 2021

Months after the former asbestos mining town of Asbestos changed its name to Val-des-Sources after a municipal referendum, it was announced that the street called rue de l’Amiante (Asbestos Street) would also be changing its name to rue des Bâtisseurs (Builders’ Street). The rebranding of the Quebec town and the street are symbolic of a municipal desire to embrace a safer future and distance itself from a toxic past as a producer of a carcinogenic mineral that sent death and destruction all over the planet. See: La rue de l’Amiante change également de nom [Asbestos Street is also changing its name].
 

Hazards for Shipbreaking Workers

Mar 31, 2021

President of Turkey’s Association of Asbestos Removal Professionals Mehmet Seyhmus Ansari publicized concerns over the occupational and public health fallout from the dismantling of an asbestos-contaminated Brazilian warship destined to be scrapped at the Aliaga shipyard. Questions asked included: will occupational health be protected under the Regulation on Health and Safety Measures in Working with Asbestos; how many ships with asbestos were dismantled in Aliaga over the last 5 years; how many tons of asbestos were disposed of? See: Brezilya'nın başından attığı asbestli savaş gemisi Türkiye'de sökülecek [Brazilian warship containing asbestos will be dismantled in Turkey].
 

Addressing the UK’s Asbestos Legacy

Mar 31, 2021

An article in the Morning Star newspaper discussed a conference being organized by asbestos victims’ groups to raise awareness about the ongoing hazard posed by the continuing presence of asbestos-containing products throughout the country’s infrastructure. Campaigning groups from Yorkshire and the Midlands are organizing this event, for trade union colleagues to consider steps which could be taken to prevent toxic exposures, eradicate asbestos cancer and expose inconsistencies in government schemes and actions. Interested parties were advised to register their interest to participate in the April 16, 2021 conference via an online portal. See: Asbestos: campaign against all fears.
 

Asbestos Remediation and Compensation

Mar 31, 2021

Since 2013, Uijeongbu City, Gyeonggi Province has continued to progress efforts to protect the environmental rights of Korean citizens by adopting state-of-the-art management and demolition practices to minimize asbestos exposures. As a result of sustained and proactive efforts to identify asbestos victims, many injured people have received relief benefits and treatment for their injuries. Last year (2020), the asbestos illnesses of 13 people were recognized as a result of which 175 million won (US $155,000) compensation was paid. See: 의정부시, 안전한 석면관리로 쾌적한 생활환경 조성 [Uijeongbu City creates a pleasant living environment through safe asbestos management].
 

Calls for National Asbestos Law

Mar 31, 2021

Last week, draft proposals were presented to Spain’s Congress of Deputies calling for a comprehensive asbestos law to coordinate action to eradicate the asbestos hazard by 2030 – as per EU guidelines. The multi-faceted program would include the removal of asbestos within the country’s infrastructure as well as the remediation of contaminated soil and waste sites. Supporting this Parliamentary initiative, Deputy Inés Sabanés said: “It is especially important to pay attention to public buildings such as schools, hospitals, but also to homes. This requires not only a state strategy but regional and municipal plans that can articulate these measures.” See: Una ley integral del amianto [A comprehensive asbestos law].
 

Another Tragic Railway Death

Mar 31, 2021

On March 29, 2021, Coroner Peter Nieto ruled in Derby Coroners’ Court that Thomas Fitzpatrik, a Derby railway worker, had come into contact with asbestos during his employment at the Derby Carriage and Wagon Works as a result of which he contracted mesothelioma, an industrial disease. Mr. Fitzpatrick died, aged 62, on January 30, 2021, having been diagnosed in July, 2020. He had worked for British Rail as a forklift truck driver at a railway repair workshop off Litchurch Lane. It has long been acknowledged (see: UK Rail Trade Unions: Action on Asbestos) that people who worked on the railways or in workshops building or repairing rolling stock were at an elevated risk of being exposed to asbestos. See: Former Derby railway worker killed by asbestos exposure.
 

Legal Victory for Bereaved Family

Mar 30, 2021

On March 26, 2021, Judge Kaoru Izumi of the Kobe District Court recognized as occupationally-caused the 2013 death from mesothelioma – the signature asbestos cancer – of municipal worker Kazunori Shimatani, a resident of Akashi City, Hyogo Prefecture, who had been involved in the clean-up effort after the 1995 Great Hanshin-Awaji earthquake. As a result of this verdict, compensation will be paid to Shimatani’s family under the local government employee accident compensation fund. See: 死亡した市職員の労災認める 震災処理でアスベスト扱う [Recognition of occupational death of municipal employee caused by asbestos exposure during post-earthquake clean-up].
 

Asbestos Cancer in Russia

Mar 30, 2021

Russian and Kazakhstan asbestos stakeholders have long denied that the mining and processing of asbestos was a cause for concern for workers or people living near asbestos mines and factories. A March 26, 2021 article on the website of Tass – “Russia’s leading news agency” – which discussed research breakthroughs into the signature asbestos cancer, mesothelioma broke ranks with official policy stating: “residents of settlements near which fine-fiber asbestos silicate is mined are more likely to suffer from malignant tumors.” See: Нейросеть научили подбирать терапию от вызываемого асбестом рака [Neural network taught to select therapy for cancer caused by asbestos].
 

AI in Mesothelioma Research

Mar 30, 2021

Promising results announced on March 26, 2021 regarding genomics research conducted under the supervision of Professor Dean Fennell, Chair of Thoracic Medical Oncology at the University of Leicester and Director of the Leicester Mesothelioma Research Programme, using artificial intelligence (AI) to study mesothelioma could, it was suggested, improve patient outcomes. Explaining the nature of the study, Professor Fennell said: “this initial work shows us that mesotheliomas follow ordered paths of mutations during development, and that these so-called trajectories predict not only how long a patient may survive, but also how to better treat the cancer – something Leicester aims to lead on internationally through clinical trial initiatives.” See: AI used in battle against asbestos-linked cancer.
 

Grassroots Outreach Initiative

Mar 30, 2021

Members of an environmental group – “Preserving Mont Saint Vincent and its surroundings” – took to the streets of the French town of Mont-Saint-Vincent on March 27, 2021 to canvas support for efforts to block commercial plans for an asbestos waste landfill at a local quarry. The campaigners spent the morning at the town’s open-air Saturday market and gathered 609 signatures in support of the petition to block the toxic dump. According to a news report, discussions with members of the public proved, on the whole, fairly positive with a high degree of interest expressed. See: Contre l’amiante – Association en grand excès de vitesse avec 609 signatures [Against asbestos – Association in no time gathers 609 signatures].
 

Asbestos in Schools

Mar 30, 2021

It was announced last week, that progress was being made on the eradication of asbestos from schools in the Porto District of Portugal. Sites being decontaminated under a program co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund and costing €46,000 included: the Barroncal, Lordelo and Riadouro kindergartens in the towns of Valadares, Ancede and Baião, respectively. According to councillor José Pinho Silva, the asbestos removal program would: “provide students with better conditions of comfort, safety and health and contribute decisively to the quality of the lives of children and professionals who work in these educational spaces.” See: Mais um jardim de infância de Baião sem amianto [Another asbestos-free Baião kindergarten].
 

The Winds of Change

Mar 29, 2021

In a sign of the changing times, a Quebec community which had long defended the commercial exploitation of chrysotile (white) asbestos is now lobbying the Provincial Government for millions of dollars to help manage the toxic environmental legacy from decades of asbestos mining. The president of the Economic Development Corporation of the Thetford region and mayor of Thetford Mines, Marc-Alexandre Brousseau has requested that the Minister of Finance Eric Girard allocate $320 million over five years for the decontamination and reclamation of the Bell asbestos mine site in downtown Thetford Mines; $50m is needed to carry out phase 1 of this project. See: Expected budgets for the management of asbestos and mining residues.
 

Mesothelioma Checkpoint Inhibition

Mar 29, 2021

At the March 19, 2021 International Conference on Surgical Cancer Care held by the Society of Surgical Oncology, scientists from the Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey presented the research findings into whether peritoneal mesothelioma cancer cells expressed high amounts of PD-L1, a protein that was abundantly present on some types of cancer cells. They found that this was the case and speculated that: “patients with peritoneal mesothelioma may be inhibiting the immune system from recognizing the cancer and attacking it… Our plan will be to test checkpoint inhibition in patients prospectively to determine whether or not it is associated with significant antitumor activity.” See: Exploring PD-L1 Expression in Malignant Peritoneal Mesothelioma.
 

Export of Toxic Ships to Asia

Mar 29, 2021

On March 26, 2021 the NGO Shipbreaking Platform issued a press release condemning the export of toxic cruise ships – the Marco Polo and the Magellan – from the UK to the notorious Alang shipbreaking beach in India. Under EU Waste Shipment Regulations, the Basel Convention and national laws, sending end-of-life ships from Europe to non-OECD countries was banned as they contained large amounts of carcinogenic material and hazardous products which contained asbestos. See: NGOs call upon authorities to sanction [prevent] illegal exports of cruise ships.
 

US Policy and Administrative Failures

Mar 29, 2021

A commentary about protecting citizens from deadly exposures to chemicals during the time of Covid-19, highlighted failures by the authorities to take effective action on the deadly legacy posed by asbestos consumption and problems caused by failing to ban asbestos in the US as a result of industry interference. The Environmental Protection Agency which was tasked with protecting Americans from hazardous products and taking steps to monitor historic and current use, neglected to do so under the Trump Administration despite 2016 revisions to the Toxic Substances Control Act which had reinforced the EPA’s responsibility to undertake a comprehensive asbestos review. See: The Past, Present, and Future of Asbestos Regulations in America.
 

Basque Asbestos Compensation Fund?

Mar 29, 2021

On April 13, 2021, Parliamentarians Jon Aiartza, Eba Blanco and Gloria Sánchez will table draft legislation calling on the Basque Parliament to establish a state compensation fund for asbestos victims. At a March 25 plenary session of the Autonomous Parliament, these three regional deputies were designated to spearhead efforts to progress this plan. This will be the fourth attempt to achieve approval for a government scheme to “repair the damage” suffered by asbestos-exposed citizens. See: Parlamentarios vascos volverán a pedir el 13 de abril en el Congreso la creación de un fondo para víctimas del amianto [Basque parliamentarians will again ask Congress on April 13 for the creation of a fund for victims of asbestos].
 

Justice for Asbestos Victims

Mar 29, 2021

A press release issue on March 23, 2021 by ANDEVA – an umbrella group representing asbestos victims’ support groups in France – welcomed a March 2021 ruling by the Supreme Court (Court of Cassation) and called on judicial authorities to resume forthwith the investigation of a criminal case against the Everite company over the asbestos deaths of former employees. Other cases, including actions against Eternit, DCN (Direction des Constructions Navales) and Valéo-Ferrodo de Condé-sur- Noireau, should also proceed “without delay.” See: Nouvelle victoire pour les victimes [Another victory for the victims].
 

Asbestos Eradication Program

Mar 26, 2021

On March 24, 2021, the Council of Jeonnam Province, South Korea approved the asbestos safety management ordinance bill to facilitate the decontamination of daycare centers, child welfare facilities, and youth welfare facilities units. Funds allocated under this scheme will be made available to remove asbestos-containing roofing and building products and establish mandatory asbestos management programs to prevent children and young people from receiving toxic exposures. See: 전남도, 석면건축자재 사용 어린이집 등에 처리비용 지원한다 [Support for treatment costs in Jeonnam-do and daycare centers using asbestos construction materials.].
 

Supporting Injured Construction Workers

Mar 26, 2021

A symposium was held in Tokyo on March 23, 2021 to consider options for establishing a national compensation fund for construction workers injured by asbestos exposures, following a Supreme Court ruling which found the Government and building material manufacturers liable for having failed to take steps to protect workers from asbestos. The administrative scheme, funded by the government and manufacturers, would be intended to provide timely relief for the injured without recourse to protracted litigation. See: 建設アスベスト被害 政治責任で救済早く補償基金創設へシンポ [Construction asbestos damage political responsibility. Symposium to establish compensation fund].
 

São Paulo Asbestos Injunction

Mar 26, 2021

On March 23, 2021, a labor judge in São Paulo issued an injunction against Tranasportes Scatuzzi Ltda. (for background see: Confidence Tricksters and Asbestos Thugs from the Brazilian State of Goiás) at the request of the Public Ministry of Labor which had alleged that the company was engaged in illegal activities – i.e. the handling, processing and transport of asbestos fiber. These activities were illegal pursuant to a 2017 Supreme Court ruling and São Paulo State laws. In addition to the legal authorities cited, the Public Ministry of Labor said that according to the precautionary principle, all potentially toxic exposures should be avoided. See: Labor Court Injunction.
 

Resumption of Asbestos Litigation

Mar 26, 2021

A decision by France’s Supreme Court (Court of Cassation) on March 23, 2021 could, in the long-term, pave the way for the country’s first criminal trial of those accused over their negligence in protecting citizens from asbestos exposures. In the shorter term, this decision will restart investigations into a case against the Everite company – a subsidiary of the former asbestos group Saint-Gobain – which operated a manufacturing facility at Dammarie-les-Lys (Seine-et-Marne). The national asbestos victims’ support group ANDEVA welcomed this development. See: Amiante: les investigations sur un industriel vont reprendre [Asbestos: the investigations of an industrialist will resume].
 

Asbestos in Schools

Mar 26, 2021

One in five Madrid schools are contaminated with asbestos according to data from 17 district councils; a map with the 56 affected schools – including two for Special Education and one Nursery School – pinpointed was produced. The situation in 42 other schools remained unconfirmed. From information gathered, the worst affected schools were in the poorest neighborhoods: in Puente de Vallecas and Ciudad Lineal, asbestos was present in half the schools. See: El mapa del amianto en los colegios de Madrid: uno de cada cinco centros públicos convive con material tóxico [The map of asbestos in schools in Madrid: one in five public centers lives with toxic material].
 

Asbestos in the Air Force

Mar 26, 2021

A court in Treviso, a city in northern Italy, has recognized as occupationally-caused the 2015 asbestos cancer death (from mesothelioma) of a non-commissioned officer who had served as an Air Force engineer for 40 years repairing military aircraft. As a result of this ruling, his widow will be eligible for compensation including a one-off payment plus a monthly pension of €1,600 (US$1,900) as well as other benefits. See: Amianto, sottufficiale morto di cancro riconosciuto “vittima del dovere:” risarcimento e pensione alla moglie [Asbestos, a non-commissioned officer who died of cancer recognized as a “victim of duty:” compensation and pension for his wife].
 

Government Apologies!

Mar 24, 2021

On March 21, 2021, representatives of the Japanese government – Minister of Health, Labor and Welfare Norihisa Tamura and Deputy Minister Takaaki Kobayashi – apologized to construction workers in Kansai and Osaka for the government’s failures to control the asbestos hazard. As a result of the Government’s inertia, the workers were occupationally exposed to asbestos and contracted debilitating and deadly diseases. A recent ruling by the Supreme Court found the Government guilty of negligence and awarded compensation to thousands of construction workers for their asbestos injuries. See: 田村厚労相が原告に謝罪 [Minister of Health, Labor and Welfare Tamura apologizes to plaintiffs].
 

Supreme Court Upholds Plaintiffs’ Ruling

Mar 24, 2021

A ruling by France’s Supreme Court (Court of Cassation) has paved the way for a criminal trial of company officials, civil servants and decision-makers responsible for the country’s epidemic of asbestos-related deaths. An appeal submitted in January 2021 (see: The Interminable Wait for Asbestos Justice in France) that could have derailed this process was rejected on March 23, 2021 by the President of the Supreme Court’s Criminal Chamber. See: Amiante: la Cour de cassation valide la reprise de l’enquête sur l’entreprise Everite [Asbestos: the Court of Cassation validates the resumption of the investigation into the Everite company]. (This link is to a subscription site.)
 

Calls for a National Asbestos Plan

Mar 24, 2021

Pressure is growing in Spain for a national plan to address the country’s toxic asbestos legacy with regulations being finalized by the Ministry for the Ecological Transition and the Demographic Challenge to mandate asbestos audits of all municipal buildings before December 2022. Last week, Senator Antonio Silván asked a series of questions in the upper house about the eradication program under the draft Waste and Contaminated Soil bill. See: Silván pide ayudas al Gobierno ante la inminente obligación de retirar el amianto de los edificios [Silván asks the Government for help before the imminent obligation to remove asbestos from buildings].
 

New Compensation Scheme in Guernsey

Mar 24, 2021

Under a new scheme operating on the island of Guernsey – under the auspices of the Employment & Social Security Committee – people who contract diffuse mesothelioma, the signature cancer associated with asbestos exposure, in Guernsey or Alderney can apply to the state for a lump sum compensation payment of up to £100,000. Relatives of people who died from this disease since January 1, 2020 can also bring claims as long as the deceased was: exposed to asbestos on the island, “ordinarily” a resident on the island and had his/her disease confirmed by a specialist consultant. See: Mesothelioma Compensation Scheme Open for Applications.
 

Unsafe at any Price?

Mar 24, 2021

Detroit’s top demolition asbestos abatement contractor during 2016 and 2019 was a company called BBEK Environmental. During that time, the company had received at least a dozen citations for failing to comply with regulations stipulating safety protocols for the removal and disposal of asbestos-containing material. Although the company was suspended from Detroit’s demolition program, state authorities still allow it to operate in Detroit endangering workers and residents. This situation is discussed in the article cited below, where the views of Michigan authorities, city and state politicians, and legal and technical experts, were canvassed. See: This Asbestos Company Is Suspended From Detroit’s Demo Program. Why Is It Getting Big Jobs In The City?
 

Spring Asbestos Offensive

Mar 23, 2021

A Russian commentary which began with a few sentences criticizing environmental campaigners in general proceeded to attack a sub-section of that group: ban asbestos campaigners who, the author said, were engaged in spreading the “asbestos hysteria virus.” The discussion which followed was composed of dissociated issues such as the use of asbestos-cement water pipes in Ireland, Donald Trump’s support for asbestos use, the 2001 attack on the World Trade Center, etc. The text cited data from Warsaw Pact countries, which used chrysotile asbestos from the USSR, to show that the incidence of asbestos cancer there was statistically insignificant. See: Экологическая афера века: медиа-пляски вокруг асбеста [The ecological scam of the century: media dances around asbestos].
 

Asbestos Anxiety Ruling

Mar 23, 2021

The Paris Court of Appeal ordered the Valeo equipment company to pay compensation and costs of €9,500 (US$11,310) to a former factory worker for the asbestos anxiety she suffered as a result of having been occupationally exposed to asbestos from 1976 till 2014 when she retired. During the claimant’s employment by the Motorola company at a site in Écouflant, western France, she had used Valeo equipment containing asbestos. The charges against Motorola were, the Court found, time-barred. See: Près d’Angers. La société Valeo condamnée pour préjudice d’anxiété [Near Angers. Valeo sentenced for prejudice of anxiety].
 

Mesothelioma Mortality Data 2021

Mar 23, 2021

The accuracy of data released by the Emilia-Romagna Mesothelioma Registry is being questioned by Italian asbestos victims’ campaigners who believe that the impact of Covid-19 may have negatively impacted on the results produced. During the epidemic, patients with the disease may not have been diagnosed and deaths caused by it may not have been recognized. A report on this matter to the Italian asbestos victims’ group AFeVA concluded: “It is therefore appropriate to wait for the conclusion of the COVID-19 affair and greater stabilization of the data to draw more reliable assessments…” See: Casi di Mesotelioma Report aggiornato al 31/12/2020 [Mesothelioma Cases Report updated to 31/12/2020].
 

Eternit Going Green?!

Mar 23, 2021

Since Eternit SA, formerly Brazil’s largest asbestos conglomerate, was forced to abandon the use of asbestos as a raw material – as a result of a Supreme Court ruling – it has profited from the research and marketing of sustainable products. With great fanfare, the company launched a range of asbestos-free solar roofing products in Brazil. To date, Eternit’s renewable photovoltaic energy projects have been installed in the states of São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, and in the city of Cambé, in Paraná. See: Eternit começa produção em massa de telhas solares para vender no mercado renovável brasileiro [Eternit's new renewable project involves new solar roof tiles and their mass production].
 

Understanding Spain’s Asbestos Legacy

Mar 23, 2021

In the aftermath of the latest ruling in the asbestos litigation brought by the family of Spanish broadcaster José María Íñigo, an interview with pulmonologist Ann Souto cast light on the causation of the occupational cancer which ended his life: mesothelioma. Other topics covered during this discussion included: the properties of asbestos fiber, the historic use of asbestos-containing products in Spain, the existence of asbestos hotspots throughout the country and the long-term consequences of the country’s asbestos legacy. See: Ana Souto, neumóloga: «Desde la exposición al amianto hasta el desarrollo de un cáncer pueden pasar 50 años» [Ana Souto, pulmonologist: “From exposure to asbestos to the development of cancer, 50 years can pass”].
 

De Klerk has Mesothelioma

Mar 22, 2021

On his 85th birthday on March 18, 2021, the former President of South Africa Frederick De Klerk announced that he had contracted the signature asbestos cancer of mesothelioma. In a press release from the FW de Klerk Foundation, a spokesperson for the former President said that De Klerk was planning to start a course of immunotherapy this week. Prior to South Africa banning asbestos in 2008, it had had been the only country in the world to produce all three types of asbestos used commercially: chrysotile, crocidolite and amosite. See: El expresidente sudafricano De Klerk anuncia que sufre un cáncer maligno [Former South African President De Klerk announces he has malignant cancer].
 

Victory for Civil Society!

Mar 22, 2021

Campaigners in Brazil and abroad welcomed the news released last week that the former French aircraft carrier Le Foch, purchased by Brazil in 2000 and renamed the São Paulo, will not be sent to an Asian shipbreaking yard for scrapping. After months of intensive lobbying in Brazil as well as France (see: Letter to Brazilian Authorities Regarding Auction of Aircraft Carrier São Paulo), it was announced that the work would be done in Turkey under EU regulations, which will protect workers and local communities from exposure to toxic substances such as asbestos which are present on most ships of this age. See: Porta-aviões São Paulo será desmantelado na Turquia [Aircraft carrier São Paulo to be dismantled in Turkey].
 

Regional Asbestos Center

Mar 22, 2021

On March 16, 2021, an official ceremony marked the Ministry of Environment’s rededication of The Asbestos Environmental Health Center at Cheonan Hospital in South Chungcheong, South Korea. The Center has been operating for thirteen years during which time is has actively worked to improve the quality of life for people with asbestos-related lung diseases. Outreach work by the Center’s staff has examined 6,000 people at high risk of contracting asbestos-related diseases (ARDs) of whom 3,200 were found to have ARDs. See: 순천향대 천안병원, 환경부 지정 석면·권역환경보건센터 현판식 [Signing ceremony for Soonchunhyang University Cheonan Hospital, asbestos-regional environmental health center designated by the Ministry of Environment].
 

Reinvention of Asbestos Conglomerate

Mar 22, 2021

The financial success currently being enjoyed by the former Brazilian asbestos giant Eternit S.A. is presented in a recent article as a template from which other corporate managers might learn. For years, Eternit had opposed calls by health and safety campaigners to transition to asbestos-free technology. Since they were forced to do so by a 2017 Supreme Court decision banning asbestos, the company has reorganized under bankruptcy laws (2018), divested itself of non-profitable subsidiaries, invested in photovoltaic technology and become a favorite of the Brazilian stock market. See: ETER3: Aprenda a Ver Oportunidades Como a Eternit [ETER3: Learn to See Opportunities Like Eternit].
 

Asbestos Crimes in Galicia

Mar 22, 2021

Members of Spain’s Civil Guard are investigating two firms believed to have been involved in the illegal removal, handling and dumping of asbestos in the Spanish Province of Galicia in the northwest of the country. “Violating the regulations on waste and safety in work with risk of exposure to asbestos” is a criminal activity. The companies were charged with failing to comply with mandatory regulations for registering asbestos work and submitting asbestos work plans to the relevant authorities. These crimes could incur prison sentences of up to two years. See: Investigan en A Estrada y Pontevedra a dos empresas por irregularidades en la retirada y gestión del amianto [Two companies are being investigated in A Estrada and Pontevedra for irregularities in the removal and management of asbestos].
 

Landmark Legal Victory!

Mar 19, 2021

On March 15, 2021 Spain’s Supreme Court confirmed the right to financial compensation for asbestos injuries to people who had lived near Uralita’s asbestos factory in Cerdanyola del Vallés (Barcelona) and upheld compensation awards, having rejected an appeal by the company against a verdict handed down by the Provincial Court of Madrid that had recognized the legal rights of relatives of factory workers – who had received para-occupational or domestic asbestos exposures – as well as those of local residents to be compensated for illnesses caused by inhalation of Uralita asbestos. See: Uralita deberá indemnizar a los vecinos de la fábrica de amianto en Cerdanyola [Uralita must compensate the residents of the asbestos factory in Cerdanyola].
 

Mesothelioma Scheme Wins Top Award

Mar 19, 2021

On March 17, 2021, the UK charity Mesothelioma UK won first prize in the category Military and Civilian Health Partnership of the HSJ Awards 2020 for its “Mesothelioma UK Supporting our Armed Forces campaign.” The initiative was launched in 2017 in partnership with the Ministry of Defence and the Department of Health and Social Care and was, said the judges “an all round package of care based on a well researched evidence base which has also influenced government policy in the sector.” See: WINNER: Mesothelioma UK – Mesothelioma UK Supporting our Armed Forces.
 

Deceleration of Asbestos Remediation

Mar 19, 2021

The former Mayor of the Italian town of Casale Monferrato – at the epicenter of the country’s asbestos scandal – has denounced the lack of progress being made in the remediation of the municipality’s infrastructure. Giorgio Demezzi, who remains a town councillor, said that despite the availability of funding, work had slowed to an unacceptable pace. Supporting Demezzi’s comments Bruno Pesce, from the local asbestos victims’ support group, bemoaned a decrease in public consultation and briefings by town officials over reclamation plans warning that the failure to eradicate asbestos created a public health hazard: “Everyone's health is at stake.” See: “Per Casale restano fermi 33 milioni per le bonifiche dell’amianto” [“For Casale, 33 million remain for asbestos remediation”].
 

Yet More Asbestos Propaganda!

Mar 18, 2021

A piece of propaganda masquerading as an article about the cost of motoring extolled the virtues of asbestos-containing brake pads which “last for a very long time, and are significantly cheaper than their counterparts on the market.” The abandonment of traditional asbestos car parts came about, said the author, as a result of “a massive campaign” against chrysotile (white) asbestos by Western politicians, environmentalists and campaigners spreading “mass hysteria” about the dangers of human exposures. Mouthing discredited propaganda, the text asserted that: “chrysotile asbestos is not harmful to humans when used in a controlled manner.” See: Новые правила ТО: почему нам не дают экономить [New maintenance rules: why we are not allowed to economise].
 

Mesothelioma Treatment Breakthrough?

Mar 18, 2021

Following exceptional results from the UK’s CheckMate-743 immunotherapy drug trial, the National Health Service (NHS) announced that it would make the new protocol available to NHS patients with the signature asbestos cancer, mesothelioma. The clinical trial treated patients with the drug Nivolumab (Opdivo) in combination with Ipilimumab (Yervoy) which worked to boost the patient’s immune system and attack the cancer. In the case of mesothelioma patient Michael Conway, his tumors shrank from 21mm and 29mm to just 5mm and he has survived two years beyond his original prognosis date; he is continuing to do well. See: NHS to offer immunotherapy treatment, after builder with asbestos cancer sees tumour shrink to 5mm.
 

Regulatory Confusion over Asbestos Waste

Mar 18, 2021

In an attempt to increase protection from occupational asbestos exposures in Japan, a new law – the revised Air Pollution Control Act (Great Defense Act) – will come into effect on April 1, 2021. Critics say that far from strengthening the regulatory regime, the new law will lead to confusion and non-compliance with laws related to asbestos waste. Regulations concerning two types of asbestos waste – “waste asbestos, etc.” and “asbestos-containing waste” – vary in their specifications for management and disposal protocols. See: 大防法改正でアスベストの廃棄物規制「緩和」へ 国のずさん対応が現場の上乗せ安全対策つぶす可能性 [Asbestos waste regulation “relaxation” due to amendment of the Great Defense Law].
 

Asbestos Disability Pensions Deadline

Mar 18, 2021

A March 31, 2021 deadline is looming for applicants wishing to submit claims for special social security disability pension benefits due to asbestos-related diseases contracted through occupational exposures in Italy. People whose conditions have been recognized by INAIL [the National Institute for Insurance against Accidents at Work] must file their claims electronically via the portal of the INPS [National Institute of Social Security]. See: Amianto, Domande entro il 31 Marzo per la pensione speciale di inabilità [Asbestos, Applications by March 31 for the special disability pension].
 

Bilateral Concerns over São Paulo Disposal

Mar 18, 2021

The disposal of a French aircraft carrier Le Foch, sold to Brazil in 2000 and renamed the São Paulo, is providing caused for concern in France as well as in Brazil over the possibility that it might be destined for a shipbreaking beach in Asia. Years ago, there was a huge furore when Le Foch’s sister ship Le Clemenceau was sent to India for scrapping. At great cost, it was eventually returned to Europe where it was scrapped according to EU laws. Both ships were constructed using materials now regarded as highly toxic, including asbestos. See: “C'était ma maison”: ils veulent sauver l’ancien porte-avions Foch d'un démantèlement [“It was my house”: desire to save the former aircraft carrier Foch from being dismantled (inappropriately)].
 

Monument to the Asbestos Dead

Mar 18, 2021

The wording and positioning of a monument to the asbestos fallen have been confirmed by the Association of Families Exposed to Asbestos (AFEA) with the municipality of La Spezia, on the north-western coast of Italy. The inscription on the commemorative plaque will be: “In memory of all the Victims, Workers and Citizens, whose lives ended prematurely because of asbestos.” The monument, which will be made of Carrara marble, will be sited in the Piazza Caduti per la libertà La Spezia [the Square of those who died for Freedom]. See: Vittime dell'amianto, ecco la lapide commemorative [Victims of asbestos, here is the commemorative plaque].
 

Posthumous Victory for José María Íñigo

Mar 17, 2021

The tortuous fight for justice by the family of Spanish TV legend José María Íñigo (see: José María Íñigo’s Last Battle) achieved a significant victory on March 16, 2021 when a Madrid Court handed down a judgment backing the family’s claim that the renowned broadcaster and journalist had died from an occupational disease contracted as a result of prolonged asbestos exposures at the Madrid studios operated by his employer: the Spanish Radio and Television Corporation (RTVE). The asbestos cancer mesothelioma which had caused his death had, the Court agreed, been caused by toxic acoustic insulation material in the studios. See: José María Íñigo murió por el amianto de RTVE: la justicia da la razón a la familia del presentador [José María Íñigo died of RTVE's asbestos: justice agrees with the presenter's family].
 

Beginning of Asbestos Phase-out

Mar 17, 2021

In 2018, an asbestos ban in Sri Lanka was overturned due to economic sanctions and political threats from Russia (see: Blackmail of Sri Lanka re Asbestos Ban). The Ministry of Environment has announced its intention to protect citizens by implementing a phase-out on asbestos use starting with a mandatory end to the use of asbestos-containing material on government buildings by the end of 2021. Asbestos material will also be banned for use in the construction of pre-school and school buildings. See: Ministry of Environment plan to set up another roofing tile industrial park associated with the huge clay deposit of Yan Oya reservoir.
 

Get Vaccinated Say Grassroots Campaigners

Mar 17, 2021

Leaders of the Brazilian Association of the Asbestos-Exposed (ABREA) are calling on their fellow citizens to follow the example of ABREA leaders Eliezer João de Souza, Doracy Maggion and Belmiro Silva dos Santos and get themselves vaccinated as a matter of urgency. Follow their example, urged the author of the blog [referenced below] and not the actions of the “moronic” Covid-19 denier President Jair Bolsonaro. See: Vítimas do assassino amianto dão exemplo: Tomam vacina contra covid e não viram jacaré [Victims of the asbestos killer set an example: They get covid vaccine and have not seen the beast].
 

Toxic Renovations Cause Concern

Mar 17, 2021

James Aylward, the Minister of Health and Wellness on Prince Edward Island (PEI), has reasserted the government’s intention to release details of a registry of students who were present while renovation work at the Three Oaks High School was carried out from 2016 until 2019 and during which “air quality did not always meet standards, and one day there were high asbestos levels.” A consultant commissioned by the government in June 2020 has been working on the compilation of a registry to track health concerns for students at the school during the renovations. More details about the registry will become known shortly. See: Details coming for Three Oaks renovation registry, minister promises.
 

Asbestos Anxiety Lawsuit against Renault

Mar 17, 2021

On March 12, 2021, 300 people met outside the Renault headquarters in the French town of Vénissieux to mark the second anniversary of the commencement of a class action brought by 1,400+ former employees against the company for asbestos anxiety. The first major verdict – which concerns 1,200 cases – is scheduled to be handed down on April 8, 2021. The second judgment – which concerns 200 cases – will be issued on April 24. All of the claimants have been supported by the local asbestos victims’ group: the Prevent and Repair Association, which was founded in 2001. See: Renault Trucks à Vénissieux: «On travaille pour vivre, pas pour mourir» [Renault Trucks: “We work to live, not to die”].
 

Asbestos in Schools

Mar 17, 2021

The presence of asbestos throughout Spain’s educational infrastructure routinely endangered the lives of more than a million students, teachers and support staff according to a new commentary. The scope of the problem remained unquantified, said the author, due to a lack of updated and comprehensive data from autonomous communities. The situation was extremely grave said María del Carmen Morillas, spokesperson for an umbrella group of associations representing parents and students: “The health of the educational community and of our children, who spend more than forty hours a week for ten months of the year within these infrastructures, are at risk.” See: El amianto de los colegios expone a un millón de niños en España [Asbestos in schools expose a million children in Spain].
 

Environmental Asbestos Exposure Research

Mar 16, 2021

The first two chapters of a special issue of the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health entitled Asbestos and Cancers: Exposure from Neighboring Factories and Mines, Contaminated Soil, and Slate Roofs have now been uploaded. The peer-reviewed papers evaluated excess lifetime cancer risk due to historic asbestos exposures in Korea and the consequences for residents of having lived near Korean asbestos mines. Nine other papers by authors in Korea and Taiwan will be uploaded in due course. See: Asbestos_CancersAsbestos and Cancers: Exposure from Neighboring Factories and Mines, Contaminated Soil, and Slate Roofs.
 

Petition Calls for Asbestos Criminal Trial

Mar 16, 2021

An online petition by a French umbrella group representing regional asbestos victims’ associations has appealed directly to the Court of Cassation (the French Supreme Court) to intervene as a matter of urgency in order to expediate the instigation of a criminal trial of decision-makers and executives guilty of causing the country’s ongoing epidemic of asbestos-related diseases. So far, the petition has been signed by 15,000 people. Former asbestos factory worker and ANDEVA board member Jean-Claude Barbé has “high hopes” that the Court of Cassation will follow a 2021 precedent set by the Paris Court of Appeal and allow the criminal case to proceed. See: Une pétition de l'Andeva pour relancer le procès de l'amiante [A petition from Andeva to relaunch asbestos trial].
 

Compulsory Asbestos Audits & Remediation

Mar 16, 2021

A new Spanish law mandating that all city councils compile lists of buildings with asbestos-containing materials and a timetable for their removal by January 1, 2023 is being finalized by the Ministry for Ecological Transition and is expected to be approved between March and April, 2021 by the Council of Ministers. Funding for the asbestos audits remediation will be sourced from two new taxes on the deposit of wastes in landfill cites and on packaging made of non-reusable plastic. See: Todos los ayuntamientos deberán censar los edificios con amianto para su retirada [All city councils must register buildings with asbestos for their removal].
 

Asbestos Crime and Punishment

Mar 16, 2021

A one year prison sentence was handed down to Paul Mouawad, an employee of the company Aussie Earthmovers, by the NSW Land and Environment Court for having faked waste disposal dockets issued for the dumping of 1,400 tonnes of waste containing asbestos. Of the 134 truckloads of asbestos-contaminated soil collected from a building site in central Sydney in June and July 2016, only one truckload was lawfully disposed of at the Elizabeth Drive Landfill at Kemps Creek. Following a separate prosecution, Aussie Earthmovers was convicted and fined $450,000 on two charges of knowingly supplying false and misleading information about the disposal of the waste in November 2020. See: Jail Sentence over Asbestos Disposal Documents Fraud.
 

Asbestos in Schools

Mar 16, 2021

A commentary on the status of asbestos in UK schools highlighted some disturbing facts including: asbestos is in 80% of all schools; the Committee of Carcinogenicity acknowledged that younger lungs were more vulnerable to asbestos; the incidence of asbestos cancer mortality was elevated amongst teachers. Despite legislation mandating measures to address this toxic situation, school officials and staff had neither the expertise nor resources to implement them; the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) did not have the capacity “to get on top of the problem.” The author concluded that to protect children, a government-led, HSE-supported nationwide drive to provide appropriate training and resources was urgently needed. See: Asbestos in Schools – A View from the Inside.
 

Northern Territory Asbestos Debris

Mar 15, 2021

A report commissioned by the Government of Australia’s Northern Territory (NT) identified widespread asbestos contamination of the land belonging to an aboriginal community living on a remote NT island. Asbestos debris was found in the Galiwin'ku community – 550 kilometers north-east of Darwin – near a church, on clifftops and in the vicinity of an arts center. Despite the extensive nature of the problem, the authorities issued statements claiming there was no need for public concern. The independent Member for Mulka, Yingyia Mark Guyula called for an information campaign in the local language and health check-ups for members of the community. See: Hundreds of asbestos pieces found across remote NT community but health risk is low, study finds.
 

Grassroots Action on Asbestos

Mar 15, 2021

A collection of public health campaigners, environmentalists and workers’ activists have formed a coalition to advocate for the eradication of the asbestos hazard from Spain. The new platform will “seek solutions to the serious problem of occupational health and public health that is far from being a priority for the Administration, and that requires urgent action.” Amongst the first initiatives of the new coalition will be the drafting of an Asbestos Eradication Act and petitions calling for financing of regional asbestos audits and eradication programs. See: Nace una plataforma para impulsar la erradicación del amianto en la Comunidad de Madrid [A platform is born to promote the eradication of asbestos in the Community of Madrid].
 

Asbestos Remediation in Schools Program

Mar 15, 2021

A budget of €345,000 (US$410,000) was allocated to remove asbestos from the last five contaminated schools in the city of Marco de Canaveses, in northern Portugal. The work was financed by a government grant under the Economic and Social Stability Program. The schools which were scheduled for remediation included: Freita (Marco), Outeiro (Constance), Alpendorada, Casal (São Lourenço do Douro) and Cabo (Maureles). According to Mayor Cristina Vieira: “When, in July 2020, the Government launched the financing program for the removal of asbestos, Marco de Canaveses was prepared to seize the opportunity.” See: Escolas de Marco de Canaveses prestes a ficar sem amianto [Marco de Canaveses schools about to become asbestos free].
 

New Asbestos Awareness Resources

Mar 15, 2021

A collaborative effort in British Colombia (B.C.) by representatives from private enterprise, industry, trade unions and WorkSafeBC – “a provincial agency dedicated to promoting safe and healthy workplaces across B.C.” – has produced new asbestos awareness training courses which will be launched this Summer. The seven modules, claimed to be the first of their kind in Canada, are collectively referred to as the Asbestos Competency Training Program and represent an $825,000 investment. Commenting on the program, executive director Mike McKenna said: “The third wave is coming and we are doing everything we can to make people take it seriously.” See: BCCSA readies launch of ground-breaking asbestos awareness courses this summer.
 

KwaZulu-Natal Asbestos Eradication

Mar 15, 2021

As part of an R16.3-billion (US$1bn) upgrade of the infrastructure of the South African Province of KwaZulu-Natal R66-million (US$4.3m) has been allocated toward “the eradication of asbestos roofs in all provincial clinics and community health centres. A further amount of R52.3-million (US$3.5m) will be used to eradicate asbestos and to undertake waterproofing projects for Grey’s Hospital, Umgeni Hospital, RK Khan Hospital, Northdale Hospital, Vryheid Hospital, and the Mayor’s Walk Central Supply Depot.” See: KwaZulu-Natal allocates R16.3-bln to building and upgrading infrastructure.
 

Spain’s Toxic Asbestos Legacy

Mar 15, 2021

A recent commentary considered the repercussions of the “half-baked asbestos ban” which existed in Spain and left workers in danger of toxic exposures from asbestos-containing material still in place. The situation now is, said one expert: “much more dangerous because no one takes the slightest precaution in the handling [of asbestos].” The author of the text cited several instances of workers seeking compensation for the negligence of former employers, including the high-profile case of the Spanish TV broadcaster José María Iñigo who had worked in an asbestos-insulated TV studio for decades. See: Amianto, ¿hasta cuándo? [Asbestos, until when?].
 

Asbestos in Schools

Mar 11, 2021

On March 9, 2021, results of asbestos air concentration tests in 14 classrooms in Seoul which are being remediated confirmed that work was being conducted safely as per specification of the Asbestos Safety Management Act of the Ministry of Environment. The Korean Government asbestos program has a 2027 deadline to remove asbestos from all schools in order to create a “safe educational environment.” To protect school users from possible exposures, all asbestos remediation work is carried out during school vacations. See: 전국 학교 '석면' 제거 공사 진행은 잘되가나? [Is the national school 'asbestos' removal work going well?].
 

Future for Iconic Aircraft Carrier

Mar 11, 2021

Brazil’s Ministry of Defense is again trying to sell the iconic aircraft carrier, the São Paulo after previous attempts to off-load the vessel had been unsuccessful. Disposal of the ship is not without controversy as it is contaminated with 700 tonnes of asbestos, which require careful handling to protect workers and local people from toxic exposures. A letter from the Brazilian Association of the Asbestos-Exposed (ABREA) warned Minister Fernando Azevedo e Silva that amongst the companies participating in the auction is one which represents “the interests of a shipyard located on the beaches of South Asia…where it is impossible to contain pollution...” See: Meio ambiente: Um porta-aviões brasileiro que pode poluir as praias do sul da Ásia [Environment: A Brazilian aircraft carrier that can pollute the beaches of South Asia].
 

Asbestos Exposé: Sardinia Scandal

Mar 11, 2021

An investigative exposé uploaded to the internet on Sunday March 7, 2021 detailed the clandestine journey of asbestos debris from Northern and Central Italy to Sardinia on the vessel Maria Grazia Onorato which docked on March 4 at the commercial port of Cagliari. The 20,000 tonnes of toxic waste were conveyed along public roads to the Carbonia landfill in open white sacks at the mercy of air currents and movement of the trucks, with no attempts made to protect drivers or bystanders from hazardous exposures. TV cameramen filming the disposal of the waste at the site were threatened. Despite Sardinian regulations banning the export of waste to the island, the dump remains open for business. See: Veleni: sottoterra l'amianto del Nord Italia [Poisons: asbestos underground from Northern Italy].
 

Johnson & Johnson: Collateral Damage

Mar 11, 2021

An article in Newsweek highlighted the knock-on effect of the reputational damage suffered by Johnson & Johnson (J&J) as a result of the thousands of lawsuits the company is facing over asbestos contamination of its talc-based baby powder on public concern over the safety of J&J’s one-shot vaccine, approved for use on February 27, 2021. The negative perception of the brand was, said the article, helping “drive vaccine alarmism and skepticism.” Social media was awash with postings pointing out that the new vaccine had been produced by the same company that had sold carcinogenic baby powder. See: Johnson & Johnson's Talc Lawsuits Are Fueling Skepticism of its COVID Vaccine.
 

Another Railway Death!

Mar 11, 2021

The Emilia-Romagna branch of the Italian asbestos victims’ support group AFeVA reported the asbestos cancer death of Mauro Roda on March 4, 2021, four years after his illness had been diagnosed. During his employment in the Electrical Systems Division of the State Railways in Bologna from 1970 to 1996, Mr. Roda had routinely been exposed to asbestos on the equipment and in the tunnels and structures along the railway tracks. As a result, he contracted mesothelioma, the signature cancer associated with exposure to asbestos. See: Continua la strage dell’amianto [The asbestos massacre continues].
 

Asbestos in Schools

Mar 11, 2021

Details of asbestos exposures which took place at a Brisbane High School in 2020 have been made public; students and teachers had been on site when a contractor released asbestos fibers into the air when repairing the school’s ceiling and walls. It took seven weeks before officials at Sunnybank State High School closed off contaminated areas and notified parents of the incident. Teachers are calling on Education Minister Ignazia Graziella Grace to investigate claims that they had been intimidated and forced to cover-up the breach of health and safety regulations. See: Teachers, students exposed to asbestos at Sunnybank State High School amid ‘disturbing reports’ of teachers writing in dust.
 

Construction Workers Outreach Program

Mar 9, 2021

On March 6, 2021, there was a free phone consultation service for Japanese construction workers who had been occupationally exposed to asbestos. The service was offered by legal advisors in the aftermath of a recent Supreme Court decision denouncing the Japanese Government’s culpability for failing to act on the asbestos hazard in a timely manner. Commenting on this outreach initiative, lawyer Toshihiko Tsukuda explained that many construction workers who got sick did not understand that their condition might have been caused by workplace exposures to asbestos materials. See: 建設現場でのアスベスト健康被害 無料の電話相談 [Free telephone consultation for asbestos health hazards at construction sites].
 

Asbestos Disposal in Italy

Mar 9, 2021

Under cover of darkness, a ship loaded with hundreds of tonnes of asbestos waste from northern Italy arrived at the Sardinian port of Cagliari on March 4, 2021 with its illegal cargo destined for the Sulcis landfill. There were no inspections at the docks and no measures taken to protect those unloading or transporting the dangerous shipment. The export of the hazardous waste was carried out despite a total ban on importing such material to the island. Commenting on this situation, the author of the article cited below said: “…the Italian waste lobby considers Sardinia a real open-air dump for very dangerous poisons.” See: Amianto killer, nella notte lo sbarco nell'Isola [Asbestos killer, landed under the cover of darkness on island].
 

Legal Attack on Libby’s Medical Clinic

Mar 9, 2021

In February, 2021, the federal government decided it would not intervene in a lawsuit being brought by BNSF Railway Co. against the Center for Asbestos Related Disease (CARD) in Libby, Montana which alleged that the nonprofit clinic committed Medicare fraud by using federal grants to perform “unnecessary” check-ups and treatments on patients. Alas, CARD is no stranger to legal attacks: “Like W.R. Grace tried in the past, BNSF is using this lawsuit to try to prevent CARD from screening and treating individuals exposed in Libby for asbestos-related diseases.” The clinic must respond to the lawsuit by April 23. See: Feds steer clear of BNSF suit against CARD clinic.
 

Asbestos Precedent for Landmark Ruling

Mar 9, 2021

A commentary by Pascale Braun considered the importance of a 2021 court ruling in the case of 726 former coal miners from the Lorraine region of France who received €10,000 compensation from the Douai Court of Appeal for fear of contracting a fatal disease due to hazardous workplace exposures. This verdict was based on a precedent set by a 2019 Supreme Court verdict which had awarded compensation to workers suffering from anxiety but no actual physical symptoms due to workplace asbestos exposures. According to the judgment, all people exposed to carcinogens at work had the right to be compensated for such anxiety. See: Santé au travail: ce que change le préjudice d'anxiété [Occupational health: what changes the prejudice of anxiety].
 

Advisory on Human Rights and Pollution

Mar 9, 2021

A publication uploaded recently by the UN Environment Programme and the UN Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner – Human Rights and Hazardous Substances – stated: “Pollution is the largest source of premature death in the developing world…” and that: “Those responsible for the harmful impacts of hazardous substances must be held legally accountable through the application of human rights laws, norms and standards.” Though not mentioned specifically, asbestos was there by implication: “States should take steps to permanently eliminate the use of hazardous substances wherever possible and to minimise their use, prevent exposure and risks, and safely dispose of them where necessary in conformity with their obligations under international law.” See: Human Rights and Hazardous Substances.
 

Politicians Attack Victims’ Rights

Mar 9, 2021

Three draft pieces of proposed legislation – House Bills 638, 639 and 687 – targeting asbestos- and silica-exposure lawsuits, which would shield defendants from third-party liabilities, are being considered by the Georgia State General Assembly. Collectively, the legislation would, as of May 1, 2021, impose onerous burdens on claimants that would require the disclosure of sensitive information, detailed historical data and legal strategies. Unsurprisingly, the three politicians co-sponsoring these bills are Republicans. See: Bartow legislators back slate of bills targeting asbestos lawsuits.
 

Asbestos Cargo Seized!

Mar 8, 2021

On Friday, March 5, 2021 a shipment of 459 tonnes of asbestos was seized by the Health Surveillance Authority at the port of Santos on the south coast of São Paulo. The action was taken following a letter from Brazil’s Public Ministry of Labor (MPT) which had cited State law No. 12,684 (2007) prohibiting asbestos use in the State of São Paulo. The MPT had been alerted to the illegal shipping operation by the Brazilian Association of the Asbestos-Exposed: ABREA. The cargo had originated at the Sama Minerações Associadas asbestos mine in Minaçu and was destined for export to Asian countries. See: Carga com mais de 400 t de amianto é apreendida no Porto de Santos; substância é proibida no Brasil [Cargo with more than 400 tons of asbestos is seized at the Port of Santos; substance is banned in Brazil].
 

Investigation of Talc Testing Methods

Mar 8, 2021

On March 4, 2021, India’s National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) issued a summons to the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) and the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) over the lack of uniformity and standardization in testing for the presence of asbestos and formaldehyde in Johnson & Johnson’s talcum powder and baby shampoo respectively. The NCPCR, a statutory body under the Ministry of Women and Child Development, ordered the DCGI to appear before it on March 12 to explain why the CDSCO has not regulated the standards and uniformity in the testing methods used by accredited laboratories in India. See: “No uniform test for cancer-causing substances in J&J baby products” – drug regulator summoned.
 

Asbestos at the Shipyards

Mar 8, 2021

Having recognized that toxic exposures at the Navantia Ferrol shipyard caused a worker’s asbestos-related illness, Social Court Number 7 in Bilboa ordered that his former employer IZAR Naval Construction pay him compensation of €216,459 (US$260,000). From age 24 to 61 J.R.S. had handled asbestos-containing products to connect pipes, and installed insulation on vessels constructed at the shipyard. He was diagnosed in 1988 with bilateral pleural thickening, calcified plaques, and lung adenocarcinoma. See: Condenan a Izar Construcciones Navales a indemnizar con 216.459 euros a un trabajador que enfermó por amianto [IZAR Naval Construction sentenced to pay compensation of 216,459 euros to a worker who fell ill from asbestos (exposure)].
 

Asbestos Medical Program

Mar 8, 2021

As of March, 2021, free medical check-ups for 650 individuals who had lived near the asbestos factory in Busan City will be available to ensure detection of abnormalities or diseases related to environmental asbestos exposures at a cost to the City of 136 million won ($US121,000). Its acting mayor Lee Byeong-jin says: “we plan to actively expand health impact investigations targeting local residents who are concerned about asbestos damage so that asbestos disease can be quickly discovered and treated.” Previously, the City had provided free medical screening for residents in other municipal asbestos hotspots. See: 산시, 석면피해 의심 주민 대상 ‘찾아가는 무료건강검진’ 실시 [Free health check-ups for residents suspected of asbestos exposures in Busan].
 

Happy Birthday to Asbestos Campaigner!

Mar 8, 2021

AFeVA, the Italian asbestos action group based in Casale Monferrato, marked the 92nd birthday of its honorary President Romana Blasotti Pavesi on March 3. As the President of AFeVA for 30 years, Romana spearheaded a three-pronged strategy calling for remediation, research and restitution, part of which included legal action against the Swiss billionaire Stephen Schmidheiny who has been convicted in multiple Italian jurisdictions over his role in Italy’s epidemic of asbestos mortality. (For more about the work of this formidable campaigner see: In Appreciation of Romana Blasotti Pavesia.)
See: Auguri Romana [Greetings Romana].
 

Addressing Spain’s Asbestos Legacy

Mar 8, 2021

Public advocacy groups in Spain are stepping up their campaign for a Comprehensive Asbestos Law with recent petitions to the country’s President Pedro Sánchez and the Government calling for urgent measures to be taken to address the toxic legacy caused by decades of asbestos use. As products containing asbestos deteriorate due to use and weathering, toxic fibers are being liberated in public buildings, including schools and hospitals, as well as in private houses. Unless a remediation strategy is implemented as part of a comprehensive national plan, many more Spaniards will die from avoidable asbestos-related diseases, say health experts. See: Expertos instan al Presidente Pedro Sánchez que aborde urgente una Ley Integral del Amianto [Experts press President Pedro Sánchez to address a Comprehensive Asbestos Law].
 

Illegal Asbestos Exports Condemned

Mar 5, 2021

On March 2, the Brazilian Association of the Asbestos-Exposed (ABREA) denounced the illegal shipment of asbestos cargo from the SAMA asbestos mine in Minaçu to the São Paulo port of Santos saying that as per a 2007 State Law and a 2017 Supreme Court decision the production, transport and export of asbestos had been banned. On Tuesday, 10 trucks carrying 340 tonnes of asbestos left the mine. ABREA alerted the: Santos Port Guard Superintendence, São Paulo Sanitary Surveillance Center, Public Ministry of Labor and Highway Police of the State of São Paulo of these activities. See: ABREA denuncia: Sama afronta de novo o STF, tenta exportar 340 toneladas de amianto [ABREA denounces: Sama contravenes the STF again, tries to export 340 tons of asbestos].
 

Justice for Asbestos Victims

Mar 5, 2021

An article in the independent French online investigative journal Médiapart discussed a petition launched by French asbestos victims calling for a major criminal trial to hold decision-makers and executives to account for their role in the national asbestos disaster caused by their actions. The petitioners are asking the Attorney General at the Court of Cassation (Supreme Court/SC), François Molins, to prioritize a hearing of an appeal to the SC made by the prosecution to a January 20, 2021 SC annulment of a lower Court’s dismissal of charges against company officers. See: Les victimes de l'amiante appellent "en urgence absolue" à un grand procès pénal [Asbestos victims call “in absolute urgency” for a major criminal trial].
 

Protecting Minors from the Asbestos Hazard

Mar 5, 2021

On March 15, 2021, Vietnamese Circular 09/2020 / TT-BLDTBXH updating the Labor Code on young workers will come into effect. The new guidelines – which are designed to protect people under 18 from detrimental exposures that could affect their physical, mental and personality development – bans minors from employment in hazardous workplaces, including those at which asbestos is handled or processed. See: 6 nơi làm việc gây hại cho sự phát triển của người dưới 18 tuổi [6 workplaces that are detrimental to the development of people under the age of 18].
 

Parliament Debates Mesothelioma Scheme

Mar 5, 2021

On the afternoon of March 2, 2021, there was a one-hour debate in the House of Commons on the Mesothelioma Lump Sum Payments (Conditions and Amounts) (Amendment) Regulations 2021. The motion to approve the regulations was approved after an informative debate by MPs who raised pertinent issues. Amongst the Parliamentarians to take part were MPs: Vicky Foxcroft, Chris Stephens, Stephen Timms, Martin Docherty-Hughes, Wendy Chamberlain, Beth Winter, Kim Johnson, Christine Jardine and Jim Shannon. During the debate, tribute was paid to asbestos victims support groups in Scotland and England including Clydeside Action on Asbestos, Clydebank Asbestos Group and the Merseyside Asbestos Victims Support Group. See: Hansard. Parliamentary Debate. March 2, 2021.
 

Eternit Update: Post-Asbestos Profits

Mar 5, 2021

The financial results released on March 2, 2021 by Brazil’s former asbestos giant Eternit S.A. continued to show a healthy profit and high stockholder confidence since the company transitioned to asbestos-free technology. In 2020, the company’s shares rose 200%, making it the best performing stock on BOVESPA, the Brazilian stock market. Reflecting on Eternit’s good news, it’s President Luis Augusto Barbosa explained: “A combination of very positive factors favored us. The company's restructuring process, with the replacement of asbestos since 2017, is bearing fruit.” See: Sem amianto e com telha solar, Eternit retoma confiança do investidor [Asbestos-free and with solar tile, investor confidence in Eternit resumes].
 

Asbestos Remediation of Hospitals

Mar 5, 2021

Authorities in the Marche Region, on the east coast of Italy, have allocated €650,000 to remove asbestos from specific sections of designated hospitals in the cities of Petritoli, Montegranaro and Montegiorgio. This work is part of a coordinated program for 21 hospitals and health facilities in the region. Commissioner Baldelli explained that: “the financing of these interventions in the area have been subject to specific priorities and criteria that have taken into consideration health and hospital structures that consider the use of these structures throughout the whole day.” See: Amianto negli ospedali: piano per rimuoverlo [Asbestos in hospitals: plan to remove it].
 

Asbestos Justice

Mar 4, 2021

Asbestos victims’ groups, trade unions and civil society campaigners have issued a petition calling “for a criminal asbestos trial to finally take place in France” to hold negligent employers, civil servants and others to account for the slaughter that has resulted from their decisions. The petitioners appealed to the Attorney General at the Court of Cassation Mr. François Molins to act expeditiously to bring this appeal before the criminal chamber as a matter of utmost urgency, saying this was a “quest for justice and truth” for the asbestos injured and their families. See: Justice pour les victimes de l’amiante [Justice for asbestos victims].
 

Volcanoes and Asbestos

Mar 4, 2021

A curious article on a Russian language website extolled the virtues of asbestos materials – citing “the incredible characteristics of asbestos” – for those who may need to research active volcano sites in light of the March 1, 2021 lava breakthrough on the Klyuchevskoy volcano in northern Kamchatka, in Russia’s Far East. Asbestos shoes and cloth were used with some success in 1938 by scientists exploring that 20th century eruption. The author of this text made no mention that since that time, technology has evolved and asbestos-free products are available for use by the volcanologists. See: Вулканология, дрейф на лаве и спецснаряжение: асбестовые башмаки для рекорда [Volcanology, lava drift and special gear: asbestos shoes for the record].
 

Illegal Dumping of UK Ships

Mar 4, 2021

The BBC has reported the scrapping on Indian shipbreaking beaches of two UK cruise ships. At least 13 other UK ships had been similarly disposed of in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh since the start of last year, according to an investigation conducted by the TV program: File on 4. Despite protocols prohibiting the transnational dumping of toxic waste, ships acquired by cash buyers routinely wind up on the unregulated recycling beaches of south Asia. Workers have few, if any, rights and no protection from the toxins including asbestos which are on board the vessels. See: UK cruise ships scrapped in India's 'ship graveyard'.
 

Deadly Asbestos Legacy

Mar 4, 2021

It has been estimated that 40 million tonnes of asbestos-containing material remain incorporated within the Italian infrastructure – including 2,400 schools used by 350,000 pupils and 50,000 teachers – despite decades of work to address the contamination. In asbestos hotspots – like the Milan suburb of Sesto San Giovanni where two asbestos factories had been located – two members of the local asbestos defence committee were buried in one week. Gianfranco Rizzieri died from the asbestos cancer peritoneal mesothelioma; he had never worked with asbestos but lived near asbestos-processing factories. The other deceased was Franco Zanon, aged 61. See: Sesto, in una settimana due morti d'amianto [Sixth, two asbestos deaths in one week].
 

Asbestos at the Beach

Mar 4, 2021

Sydneysiders have been warned about the presence of asbestos fragments washed up on Little Bay Beach by Randwick Council. The authorities plan to close the beach for two weeks in April in order for an investigation to take place. According to news reports, 1,000 fragments of toxic debris have been washed up on this New South Wales tourist spot since August 2020. Although the Council warned that caution should be taken when handling rocks or shells at the beach, it said that the situation was, according to expert opinion, “not an unacceptable risk public safety.” See: Picturesque beach in Sydney's east will be closed for two weeks as 1000 pieces of material containing asbestos is collected on the sandy shores.
 

Toxic Talc

Mar 4, 2021

A damning review of the talc industry’s role in blocking US regulations on cosmetic talc from the 1970s until today presented evidence of how the industry was able to influence: government agencies’ regulatory proceedings; the adoption of testing methods and the disclosure of test results; the nature of press coverage and medical publications. As a result of this manipulation, the industry’s assertion since 1976 that talc was asbestos-free remained unchallenged for decades. The prioritization of corporate profits over public health had disastrous consequences. See: A Review of the Talc Industry’s Influence on Federal Regulation and Scientific Standards for Asbestos in Talc.
 

Supporting Brazilian Asbestos Ban

Mar 3, 2021

The Constitutional Law Commission of the Brazilian Lawyers Institute (IAB) issued a report on February 24, 2021 upholding claims that a law passed in 2019 by Goiás State allowing the commercial exploitation of asbestos, which was in contravention of a 2017 Supreme Court ruling, was unconstitutional and therefore invalid. The IAB has requested that the Supreme Court allow the IAB to act as an amicus curiae in a legal action by the Association of Labor Attorneys disputing the constitutionality of Goiás Law 20,514 / 2019. See: Para o IAB, lei de Goiás que permite a extração de amianto é inconstitucional [For the IAB, the Goiás law that allows for the extraction of asbestos is unconstitutional].
 

No Asbestos Dumping Here!

Mar 3, 2021

Since February 20, 2021 local people have been ratcheting up efforts to defeat plans to construct a waste landfill dumpsite in Mont-Saint-Vincent, a commune in eastern France, that would accept asbestos debris at the Rougeot company’s Bourgueuil quarry. The objectors are pursuing multiples strategies including requests to the municipality to obtain a copy of the agreement between the town and the quarry company and research to examine the local urban plan for pertinent regulatory protocols that might be used to block this development. An afternoon rally is planned for March 13 at the Théâtre de Verdure. See: Mont-Saint-Vincent – L’amiante galvanise les opposants [Mont-Saint-Vincent – Asbestos galvanizes opponents].
 

Streamlining Social Security Claims Process

Mar 3, 2021

Circular Number 37/2021 dated February 24, 2021 of the Istituto Nazionale della Previdenza Sociale (Italy’s National Institute of Social Security – INPS) concerning social security benefits for asbestos-exposed workers formerly employed in the industrial sector producing railway rolling stock, set out a specific timetable with mandatory deadlines for the processing of claims “to speed up the assessment times connected to the social security benefits.” See: Pensioni, Tempi certi per il riconoscimento dei benefici previdenziali per l'amianto [Pensions, Certain times for the recognition of social security benefits for asbestos].
 

Exposing Asbestos Defendants’ Lies

Mar 3, 2021

An article by US Professor Arthur Frank and German medical expert Professor Xaver Baur detailed how asbestos vested interests – including parties which mined asbestos fiber, industries which processed it, insurance companies and defendant corporations – promoted misinformation to create doubt so that profits could continue and compensation claims could be rejected despite the undeniable fact that exposure to all types of asbestos can be lethal to workers as well as to members of the public. The authors warned that the lobbying by vested interests necessitated that scientific bodies, decision makers and others should ensure that accurate information on the asbestos hazard was disseminated in a timely fashion. See: Ongoing downplaying of the carcinogenicity of chrysotile asbestos by vested interests.
 

National Asbestos Legacy

Mar 3, 2021

A February 25, 2021 commentary in the online version of Clarin – the largest newspaper in Argentina – described the properties of asbestos fibers and the multiple diseases caused by exposures such as mesothelioma, lung cancer, asbestosis etc. The text highlighted the presence of products containing asbestos throughout national infrastructures, including within the: Buenos Aires subway system, Buenos Aires built environment and iconic Montparnasse Tower in Paris. See: Enemigo silencioso, Amianto: qué es y qué enfermedades suele provocar [Silent enemy. Asbestos: what is it and what diseases does it usually cause].
 

Asbestos Water Delivery Systems

Mar 3, 2021

At article by Julian Branch which was uploaded on February 17, 2021 to the website of the Safe Drinking Water Foundation addressed the issue of the ingestion of asbestos caused by the delivery of water via asbestos-cement pipes and concluded that: “All of the experts, and all of the studies, say that the older the asbestos cement pipes get, the worse the problem will get. It is time for Canada, and other countries, to take a hard look at the ‘evidence,’ and regulate asbestos in water.” See: Asbestos Cement Water Pipes and the Potential Risk of Ingested Asbestos.
 

European Asbestos Consultation

Feb 25, 2021

A submission by the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) to the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) consultation on occupational exposure limits for asbestos highlighted the widespread discrepancies in protection against toxic workplace exposures in different EU countries, the high levels of asbestos-related diseases amongst construction, renovation and demolition workers, and the lack of asbestos awareness amongst younger workers. See: ETUC response to the first stage consultation with the social partners under Article 154 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, on the protection of workers from risks related to exposure to chemical agents at work and to asbestos. See: https://www.etuc.org/en/document/etuc-response-first-stage-consultation-social-partners-under-article-154-treaty.
 

Asbestos in Philadelphia’s Schools

Feb 25, 2021

Earlier this week, Pennsylvania (PA) State Representative Elizabeth Fiedler and PA State Senator Vincent Hughes tabled proposals to address the hazardous conditions of PA’s schools, including the presence of weathered and aging asbestos-containing products. Fiedler told reporters: “For generations, our educators, students and school staff have been sent into buildings where they could get brain damage because of chipped paint or cancer because of exposed asbestos… To call this appalling is an understatement.” Amongst the measures proposed were grants for emergency repairs to make schools safe by remediating asbestos and other sources of contamination. See: Fiedler unveils plan to repair hazardous public schools in PA.
 

Construction Workers’ Victory

Feb 25, 2021

On February 22, 2021, Judge Takuya Fukayama of the Japanese Supreme Court dismissed most of the appeals by the government and building material manufacturers against a 2018 Osaka High Court plaintiffs’ verdict which awarded compensation to construction workers from the Kansai region who had contracted asbestos-related diseases as a result of failures by the defendants to safeguard occupational health. On February 25, the Court held hearings on claims by Tokyo construction workers; in March and April hearings will be held for Kyoto and Osaka workers, respectively. See: 建設アスベスト大阪訴訟 国とメーカーの賠償責任確定 最高裁 [Construction Asbestos Proceedings, National and Manufacturer Liability Confirmation in Supreme Court].
 

Brazil’s Asbestos Legacy

Feb 25, 2021

In a February 22, 2021 interview on the popular radio program “Viva Maria” with broadcaster Mara Régia, Fernanda Giannasi – leader of the ban asbestos struggle in Latin America and founder of the Brazilian Association of the Asbestos Exposed – explained that the iconic Hollywood star Steve McQueen had died, like many Brazilian workers, of the asbestos cancer, mesothelioma. An exhibition to mark McQueen’s 90th birthday is now being held at the Cultural Center of the Bank of Brazil. Ms. Giannasi criticized the Governor of Goiás State Ronaldo Caiado – a medical doctor as well as a politician – who passed a law allowing the commercial exploitation of asbestos in contravention of a Supreme Court ruling. See: Em cartaz no Viva Maria: “Amianto, a fibra assassina” [On air in Viva Maria: “Asbestos, the killer fiber”].
 

Justice Delayed, is Justice Denied!

Feb 25, 2021

Another delay has beset legal proceedings brought by asbestos victims from Cherbourg against their former employer the Naval Group – formerly known as Direction des Constructions Navales or DCNS. The plaintiffs had appealed a January 8, 2019 dismissal by an investigating judge of criminal charges against DCN. An appeal scheduled to be heard in November, 2020 was postponed. Appeal proceedings due to begin this week were delayed by the Paris Court of Appeal. According to a spokesperson for the victims, the criminal case against DCN-Cherbourg dates back to 2005. See: Dossier amiante à DCN Cherbourg: les victimes vont devoir (encore) attendre [Asbestos case at DCN Cherbourg: the victims will have to wait (again)].
 

Unions Urge Stringent Action on Asbestos

Feb 24, 2021

Input from trade unions to the EU consultation on the revision of the Asbestos at Work Directive 2009/148/EC and the Chemical Agents Directive 98/24/EC has called on the European Commission to lower the occupation exposure limit for asbestos in all EU Member States from 0.1 fibres/cm³ to 0.001 fibres/cm³ as part of a comprehensive plan to eradicate asbestos throughout the EU. In addition, the unions recommended, that an inventory of buildings containing asbestos be established for each European country. Every year, 47,000 people die in the EU from occupational cancer deaths. See: Unions call for updated limit values for asbestos and lead derivatives.
 

Processing Asbestos Waste after Ban

Feb 24, 2021

Under a new 30-year contract signed between the Ministry of Mining and owners of Colombia’s former asbestos mine (Antioquia), operations at the site will transition from mining asbestos to processing decades of asbestos mining waste to reclaim valuable minerals. According to Jorge Alberto Jaramillo, Secretary of Mines of the department of Antioquia: “It [Antioquia] is the first reconversion mine to be established in Colombia.” Initially, 200 jobs will be created at the mine, with more direct and indirect jobs to be created in the future. See: De amianto a talco, así transita la mina de Campamento, Antioquia, luego de la prohibición del asbesto en Colombia [From asbestos to talc, this is how the Campamento mine, Antioquia, transitions after the ban on asbestos in Colombia].
 

Toxic Talc

Feb 24, 2021

The US Pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson has set aside $3.9 billion for litigation expenses in 2020 “primarily associated with talc-related reserves and certain settlements.” The company is facing 25,000 US lawsuits over sales of its iconic baby powder which was alleged to be contaminated with carcinogenic asbestos fibers that caused cases of mesothelioma, ovarian cancer, and lung cancer. The reserves are almost double the previous $2.1bn estimate for talc litigation. The company was ordered by a NY State Judge to pay $120m compensation to a Brooklyn couple in November 2020. See: Johnson & Johnson sets aside almost $4 billion for talc verdict, filing shows.
 

Asbestos Legacy

Feb 24, 2021

The lack of action by the Spanish Government on the presence of asbestos throughout the country has been condemned by critics in an article which cited a 2032 EU deadline for the eradication of asbestos contamination. The human health hazard posed by asbestos exposures began long before Covid-19 was ever heard of and will endure for decades without a program to remediate Spain’s infrastructure. A recent report sent to Parliament by the Spanish Society of Pulmonology and Thoracic Surgery warned that 130,000 asbestos deaths could occur by 2050 if the status quo persisted. The report endorsed recommendations for a Comprehensive Asbestos Law to meet the multiple challenges created by asbestos. See: Amianto, la pandemia silenciosa [Asbestos, the silent pandemic].
 

Progress: Ending Investment in Asbestos

Feb 24, 2021

The text of a Decree adopted earlier this month (February 2021) by the Government of Vietnam can be accessed at the online link noted below. While the bulk of the text related to improving the quality of materials and practices for the construction industry, key provisions will adversely impact on the functioning of the country’s asbestos sector. The Prime Minister stipulated plans to transition from asbestos-based to asbestos-free technology, and encouraged the limitation of investment in the expansion of the asbestos industry. In addition, the Decree lowered permissible levels of occupational asbestos exposures. See: Nghị định 09/2021/NĐ-CP về quản lý vật liệu xây dựng [Decree 09/2021 / ND-CP on management of building materials].
 

Decree Introduces Asbestos Restrictions

Feb 23, 2021

An article from a Vietnamese website detailed the release by the Government of Decree 09/2021/ND-CP on the management of building materials. Under provisions which regulated the use and quality of construction materials, the Decree introduced new mandatory provisions phasing-out the use of chrysotile (white) asbestos for roofing and tightening occupational asbestos exposure levels. In addition, new measures will be implemented that could affect the asbestos industrial sector, such as controls on the reuse and dumping of toxic waste. The Prime Minister stipulated that a roadmap to limit new investment and prevent expansion of asbestos roofing manufacturing be developed. See: Quy định về chất lượng vật liệu xây dựng [Regulations on quality of building materials].
 

Third Wave of Asbestos Deaths

Feb 23, 2021

Predictions that the incidence of asbestos-related mortality in the USA would decline after the introduction of regulations in the 1970s have proved to be “overly optimistic.” Based on the number of cases of asbestos cancer being diagnosed in people under 55 years old, experts concluded that “inhalation exposure to asbestos is still ongoing.” These cases, which are part of the “third wave” of asbestos-related diseases, are mostly contracted by construction and demolition workers, roofers, carpenters, plumbers, shipbuilders and industry workers. See: Third Wave of Asbestos Disease Impacts America’s Workers.
 

Asbestos in Schools: Update

Feb 23, 2021

On February 22, 2021, work was begun under a €350,000 scheme implemented by the Guimarães City Council to replace asbestos-cement roofing in 7 local schools. According to a statement from the authorities in Guimarães, with the completion of the final phase of the local schools’ program, asbestos roofing will have been removed from all nineteen of the schools in Braga City. At the end of 2020, the Portuguese Parliament was told that a budget of €78.7+ million had been allocated to remove asbestos from educational institutions throughout the country. See: Câmara de Guimarães substitui amianto em sete escolas básicas [Guimarães Chamber replaces asbestos in seven basic schools].
 

Relief for Construction Workers

Feb 23, 2021

In the aftermath of several court decisions, including two by the Supreme Court, the Japanese Government has announced plans to set up a compensation scheme for construction workers with asbestos-related illnesses to enable them to obtain vital support without recourse to protracted legal proceedings. The details of the fund were discussed at a meeting on February 18th which was organized by officials from The Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare. Claimants are lobbying for the establishment of a system funded by contributions from the government and building material manufacturers. See: 建設アスベスト 被害者救済へ 厚労省が補償制度の創設検討着手 [Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare to consider a compensation system for victims of construction asbestos].
 

Asbestos Anxiety: Another Victory!

Feb 23, 2021

Last week, the Paris Court of Appeal ordered that the cases of 21 power station workers for asbestos anxiety be recognized and that their former employer pay them €10,000 each. The plaintiffs had been employed by the state majority-owned company: Électricité de France (EDF) at its plant in Porcheville, north-central France. The litigants, whose case had been dismissed by a lower court, were supported by the CGT trade union and the National Association for the Defence of Asbestos Victims (ANDEVA). It is not yet known whether the company will appeal this verdict. See: Yvelines. Amiante: la justice reconnaît le préjudice d'anxiété des agents de la centrale EDF de Porcheville [Yvelines. Asbestos: justice recognizes the prejudice of anxiety of agents of the EDF power plant in Porcheville].
 

Asbestos Diseases and Covid-19

Feb 23, 2021

Two opposition politicians from north-eastern Italy are calling for people with asbestos-related diseases to be given priority under the Italian Covid-19 vaccination program due to the fact that the functioning of their lungs was likely to be compromised by the presence of asbestos fibers. In a public statement, Paolo Fogar and Diego Moretti asked Regional health officials to expedite the treatment of this cohort of individuals. See: Priorità a esposti amianto nelle vaccinazioni Covid È la richiesta del Pd [Priority to asbestos exposed in Covid vaccinations This is the request of the Democratic Party].
 

Progress: Asbestos Update

Feb 22, 2021

Decree No. 09/2021 / ND-CP On building materials management was issued on February 9, 2021 by the Government of Vietnam. The Decree encouraged “the use of fibers to replace asbestos in roofing production” and – by an order of the Prime Minister – stipulated that “a roadmap to limit new investment or expand asbestos roofing manufacturing facilities” be developed. As the vast majority of asbestos fiber imported to Vietnam is used for the manufacture of asbestos roofing, this decree is a clear indication of the Government’s intention to end asbestos use in the near future. See: Tăng cường quản lý chất lượng vật liệu xây dựng [Strengthen quality management of building materials].
 

Asbestos Health Warnings

Feb 22, 2021

At a February 18 conference in the capital city of Laos to discuss the National Strategy for the Elimination of Asbestos-Related Diseases (2018-2030) and National Action Plan (2018-2022), Minister of Health Associate Prof. Dr Bounkong Syhavong, issued a warning regarding the public health danger posed by 16 asbestos factories currently operating in the country. Dr Bounkong said: “I think the best way to eliminate the risk of asbestos-related diseases is to stop the use of asbestos in these 16 factories. Other materials can be used instead, such as polyurethane foam, flour fillers, cellulose fibres, thermoset plastic flour and amorphous silica.” The objective of the meeting was to build capacity to implement a plan to eradicate asbestos-related diseases in Laos. See: Over 500 workers at risk of asbestos-related diseases.
 

Asbestos in Schools: Helpful Advice

Feb 22, 2021

An informative commentary highlighted the presence of asbestos contamination throughout UK schools and provided useful resources and links for concerned individuals, including advice for dealing with contractors and tradespeople. The author recommended that: “Staff, pupils, students and their parents or carers should be given relevant information to help them understand the risks and should be advised to consult their doctor.” In the event of an unexpected mishap or accident all work should cease; everyone should be evacuated; expert advice should be sought about remedial action including the need to report the incident to the Health & Safety Executive. See: How can you tackle the issue of asbestos in your school?
 

No toxic talc in Kazakhstan?

Feb 22, 2021

A commentary by toxicologist Dr. Lavrenty Aizvert from a Ministry of Health Department of the Government of Kazakhstan – one of the world’s biggest producers of chsyrotile (white) asbestos – about the safety of cosmetics decried the hazard posed by the use of talc-based baby powder saying there was no “serious research.” Citing research from the Dzhetygarinsky asbestos mining and processing plant and the Karaganda Institute of Occupational Hygiene and Occupational Diseases, he said that as “not a single case of lung cancer or mesothelium [sic] has been registered there for 50 years,” the harm posed by asbestos in baby powder was “not clear.” See: Правда и мифы о косметике [Truth and myths about cosmetics].
 

Commencement of Basque Asbestos Case

Feb 22, 2021

On February 22, 2021, a hearing will take place in Social Court 2 in Vitoria-Gasteiz, the capital city of the Basque Country, in a case brought by the family of a Spanish bricklayer who died of the asbestos cancer mesothelioma in 2018. The plaintiffs are claiming damages of approximately €146,000 (US$177,000) from the deceased’s former employers: Ezcurra y Ozores SA, Fibesa, Fundaciones y Mantenimiento SA, Sidenor Industrial and Cofivacasa for their failures to protect him from deadly occupational exposures to asbestos. Last year, the Court awarded a widowhood benefit in recognition of the occupational nature of the disease. See: Los familiares de una víctima del amianto reclaman una indemnizacion de 145.00 euros [The relatives of an asbestos victim claim compensation of 145,000 euros].
 

Progress of Asbestos Phase-out

Feb 22, 2021

Whereas some countries in Latin America have issued comprehensive bans on asbestos, others have implemented restrictions on types and uses of asbestos fiber. The article cited below delineates steps taken in Argentina, Chile, Peru, Colombia, Uruguay, Bolivia, Costa Rico, Merico and Panama. The author concluded as follows: “The damages and consequences of asbestos in Latin America are incalculable, however, more and more countries in this region are joining the global fight against this material and against those companies and corporations that have prioritized economic gains over the lives and health of thousands of persons.” See: La prohibición del amianto en Latinoamérica [The ban on asbestos in Latin America].
 

Asbestos Propaganda Offensive

Feb 18, 2021

An informercial, masquerading as reportage, extolled the virtues of chrysotile (white) asbestos roofing – calling it a “vital component of Sri Lanka’s construction industry” – and denying any links between exposure to chrysotile and the causation of deadly diseases: “there is no evidence to conclusively establish a significant correlation between health deterioration, particularly cancer, and exposure to chrysotile among the chrysotile cement roofing sheet users in Sri Lanka.” Bemoaning the attacks on the industry, the author noted: “regardless of the importance of chrysotile roofing sheets, the industry has faced constant backlash and baseless allegations claiming that these sheets pose a threat to the health of our society.” See: Chrysotile cement roofing sheets; a misunderstood yet vital component of Sri Lanka’s construction industry.
 

Outrage over Asbestos Dump!

Feb 18, 2021

People in Western Macedonia are incensed about the region’s plans to create an asbestos landfill facility for all of Greece at the site of a former asbestos mine (MAVE). The objectors, who cite evidence regarding the water permeability of the asbestos-containing rocks and the history of earthquake activity at the site, allege that the burial of asbestos at the MAVE mine would result in the irreversible pollution of Lake Polyphytos, the destruction of a natural environment rich in flora and fauna, the loss of hundreds of jobs and the disappearance of any possibility of an alternative development framework for future generations. See: αντιΧΥΤΑΜ: «Λέμε όχι στον ΧΥΤΑΜ για αμίαντο Δυτικής Μακεδονίας» [antiHYTAM: "We say no to HYTAM for asbestos in Western Macedonia"].
 

Judicial Black Hole

Feb 18, 2021

The existence of a “judicial black hole” has been exposed by a French documentary broadcast this week which told the story of the decades-long campaign to hold asbestos lobbyists, entrepreneurs and stakeholders to account for the deadly consequences of their commercial decisions. The program documented the fight by individuals and groups to expose the actions of the Standing Committee for Asbestos, a lobbying group, that controlled France’s asbestos agenda for decades and created a climate in which sales could flourish despite evidence about the human health hazards posed by asbestos exposures. See: « Amiante, un espoir de justice », les combattants [“Asbestos, a hope for justice,” the fighters].
 

Lack of Trust Delays Schools’ Reopening

Feb 18, 2021

As plans for reopening Philadelphia’s schools for in-person teaching are being considered, the distrust of officials from the Education Department – based on their failures to protect school users from toxic exposures – continues to fester. An extract from a letter by Adam Sanchez and Nina Willbach expressed their feelings as follows: “District leaders ask us to trust them to keep teachers, students, and our families safe. But these same leaders have kept us in poisoned schools for decades, with unsafe building conditions of lead, mold, and asbestos.” (The PFT trade union, which represents over 11,000 public school personnel, has called plans to reopen schools on February 22 “reckless”.)
See: Philadelphia Teachers and District Struggle over Terms of School Reopening.
 

Unions Call for Action on Asbestos

Feb 18, 2021

Trade unionists in British Colombia (BC) have decried failures by the Provincial Government to implement recommendations made in a December 2018 report on the asbestos industry regarding stricter regulations, such as the introduction of licensing for surveyors carrying out asbestos assessments in buildings, and for companies and consultants involved in abatement work. “This is not,” said Neil Munro – business manager for the BC Insulators Union 118 – “controversial. I can’t understand why we are not doing it.”The Insulators Union estimates it will take 50 years to safely remove asbestos from all BC’s buildings. See: Third wave of asbestos-related deaths looms as NDP at a standstill on taking action.
 

Toxic Talc!

Feb 16, 2021

On February 15, an environmental campaigning association in Tunisia – The Association for Environmental Education for Future Generations (AEEFG) – called on the Government to prohibit the import of asbestos-containing Johnson & Johnson baby powder. The AEEFG also called for the product to be withdrawn from sale in Tunisia as it has been throughout North America to protect consumers from toxic exposures. See: Santé: Une association environnementale appelle a retirer du marché tunisien des produits importés contenant du talc cancérigène [Health: An environmental association calls for the withdrawal from the Tunisian market of imported products containing carcinogenic talc].
 

Progress Update from Gauteng

Feb 16, 2021

On February 15, 2021, the refurbished Abram Hlophe Primary School in Katlehong, Ekurhuleni in South Africa’s Gauteng Province was opened in the presence of MPs, local politicians and school governors. The school offers state-of-the-art facilities for 1,900 children and a safe place to learn. The Gauteng Department of Education has issued a commitment to address legacy problems in its schools, including the presence of asbestos, by 2026. Speaking during the handover ceremony Gauteng Education’s Panyaza Lesufi said: “We have made a commitment to remove asbestos schools in Gauteng. There are 17, if I am not mistaken.” See: Gauteng ‘changing face of township education’ with R77m state-of-the-art school in Ekurhuleni.
 

Segovia’s Asbestos Legacy

Feb 16, 2021

Klein, S.A. was a Spanish company based in Segovia that was set up in 1922 and closed in 1991, only to be reopened in 1992 under new ownership. Amongst the products it manufactured were asbestos coatings and rubber hoses covered with asbestos cloth; thousands of employees were exposed to asbestos at the factory. There were no warnings of the asbestos hazards and no protective equipment supplied. The first case of mesothelioma was diagnosed and recognized in 2017, but other asbestos illnesses caused by toxic exposures at the factory have gone unrecognized. The UGT trade union has condemned Social Security officials for “systematic refusals” to acknowledge the injured. See: KLEIN y el amianto [KLEIN and asbestos].
 

Asbestos Prosecution by HSE

Feb 16, 2021

Last week, a Manchester Magistrates’ Court fined a construction company and a property management company for failing to manage asbestos safely during a refurbishment of a former office block in Stockport in August 2018, despite the existence of a May 2018 asbestos survey which had identified the presence of asbestos- containing materials. This case was the result of a prosecution by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE). Commenting on the verdict, HSE Inspector Phil Redman said: “Companies should be aware that HSE will not hesitate to take appropriate enforcement action against those that fall below the required standards.” See: Construction firms fined due to unsafe removal of asbestos.
 

Redevelopment of Asbestos Site

Feb 16, 2021

Plans to redevelop the heavily contaminated former James Hardie asbestos factory site near Parramatta in New South Wales, Australia hit a snag when the Department of Planning refused a request for a change to planning rules and called for the development of a “place strategy” to address the remediation of the 6.7-hectare site. It is likely that the compilation of such a strategy would take at least 18 months. Developers had hoped to build 3,200 dwellings on the property. Local politicians and members of opposition parties criticized the Government’s intervention saying additional accommodation and infrastructure were desperately needed in the Parramatta area. See: Sydney developer’s plans for old James Hardie site suffer setback.
 

Cancer Anxiety: Another Trial

Feb 16, 2021

Next week (February 25, 2021), legal proceedings will begin before the Lyon Court of Appeal on behalf of 60 former glassworkers from Givors, in eastern France who are seeking compensation for cancer anxiety experienced as a result of workplace exposures to carcinogens, including asbestos. The claimants, who worked at the Givors glassworks which closed in 2003, are being represented by lawyers from Paris: Nadine Melin and François Lafforgue. Since 2003, occupational cancers have been recognized in 15 of the ex-employees. See: Les ex-verriers veulent faire reconnaître un « préjudice d'anxiété [The ex-glassmakers want recognition for “prejudice of anxiety”].
 

State Compensation Payouts Delayed

Feb. 15, 2021

Delays in the payment of claims by icare, the state-run insurer of New South Wales (NSW), have been deplored by Australian victims of asbestos exposures and their legal representatives. Mesothelioma sufferer Bill Lawler, who was exposed to asbestos whilst employed as security guard at Wollongong's Tallawarra Power Station, is one of those affected. According to his solicitor: “Whilst four weeks to icare might not seem like a long time, for people like Bill one month or four weeks is a very long time because he's dealing with a terminal illness.” Supporting asbestos claimants, NSW Opposition spokesman Daniel Mookhey said: “They shouldn't have to waste a single breath fighting a discredited bureaucracy.” See: NSW insurance provider icare apologises to asbestos victims for delay in compensation payments.
 

Update: Asbestos Data in Hyogo Prefecture

Feb 15, 2021

According to the latest data released by the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, in 2020 Hyogo Prefecture had the fifth largest cohort of people in the country whose diseases were recognized as having been contracted as a result of workplace exposures to asbestos. Per the Ministry’s new figures, 1,145 cases of asbestos-related cancer were recognized in Japan last year; the number for Hyogo Prefecture was 73. Nationwide, 992 workplaces were named at which the injured had been employed, of which 58 were in Hyogo Prefecture. See: アスベスト昨年度73人労災認定 [Asbestos: last year 73 workers certified].
 

Auction of MV Funchal

Feb 15, 2021

Conflicting news about the outcome of the London January 29, 2021 auction of the iconic Portuguese vessel the Funchal MV (see: Press release: Auction of MV Funchal) – which campaigners had been concerned might be sold for scrapping on an Asian shipbreaking beach – was circulated last week. The Funchal was bought by a group of US investors who plan to keep the vessel operational according to a February 12, 2021 online article. Confirmation of the sale of the vessel for operational purposes was also received from a representative of Eggar Forrester Shipbrokers. However, another source said the vessel would be scrapped
See: O FUNCHAL já foi vendido mas não vai ser desmantelado [FUNCHAL has already been sold but will not be dismantled].
 

Justice for Asbestos Victims

Feb 15, 2021

In the wake of yet another Supreme Court ruling supporting claims by asbestos-injured construction workers, a Japanese editorial has endorsed calls for “the government and manufacturers [to] set up a fund to create a system to compensate victims” which would be proportionately funded by the companies according to their market share of asbestos-containing building materials. Although Japan’s Health minister Norihisa Tamura recently indicated that the government was willing to embark upon discussions regarding this issue, “no concrete actions have been taken.” See: Editorial: Japan must secure financial help for asbestos victims without delay.
 

Indian Support for Asbestos Removal

Feb 15, 2021

On February 7, 2021 Indian Diplomat and High Commissioner (Designate) G V Srinivas visited the site of a National Water and Electricity Company (NAWEC) project to observe a work program to replace 260 kilometers of asbestos-containing pipes in the Greater Banjul area of Gambia; under this scheme, people in Mamuda, Yuna, Sukuta, Jambour, Yundum and Farato will receive safer water with improved delivery speeds. The water project is being supported with financing provided by the Government of India. India is the world’s leading asbestos importer; we are unaware of any government scheme in India to protect the population from the risk of ingesting asbestos-contaminated water. See: India diplomat visits NAWEC project replacing 260km water pipes in urban Gambia.
 

Eliminating Asbestos-Related Diseases

Feb 15, 2021

A paper published by scientists from countries in the Western Pacific region, Europe and Asia examined the uptake of a World Health Organization recommendation that a National Asbestos Profile (NAP) be developed in order to progress efforts to eliminate asbestos-related diseases (ARDs). Unfortunately, “most countries have not developed a NAP despite having the potential.” The co-authors of this text concluded that: “Country-level data on asbestos and ARDs in public databases can be better utilized to develop NAPs for globally eliminating ARDs.” See: Development of the “National Asbestos Profile” to Eliminate Asbestos-Related Diseases in 195 Countries.
 

Krosno’s Asbestos Removal Program

Feb 12, 2021

A service provided by the municipality of the Polish City of Krosno since 2002 will resume free collections of asbestos-containing debris and products from the homes of local residents. The most common type of waste is asbestos-cement building products, such as roofing, cladding and pipes. Over the last 18 years, 770 tons of asbestos waste have been collected and disposed of. Funding for this initiative has been sourced from the Provincial Fund for Environmental Protection and Water Management in Rzeszów and the National Fund for Environmental Protection and Water Management, as well as from the Krosno city budget. See: Akcja usuwania azbestu w Krośnie. Miasto zapewnia darmowy odbiór [Asbestos removal campaign in Krosno. The city provides free pickup].
 

Portugal’s Asbestos Legacy

Feb 12, 2021

Technical experts this week warned a parliamentary commission for Environment, Energy and Planning Territory, of the multi-faceted nature of the challenges facing Portugal from the presence of asbestos-containing materials incorporated within the national infrastructure. While efforts are being made to remediate asbestos-cement products in schools, other toxic material – such as asbestos insulation – isn’t being removed. “Removing asbestos from a school,” one expert said “does not mean that the school is free from asbestos. It is necessary to make the diagnosis of all materials that may contain asbestos, in a school or other building.” See: Amianto não é só fibrocimento, alertam organizações ouvidas no parlamento [Asbestos is not just fiber cement, warn organizations heard in parliament].
 

New Appointee to Support Asbestos Victims

Feb 12, 2021

Patients with asbestos-related diseases in the East Midlands will now have access to a specialist clinical nurse, with the appointment of Louise Nelson, an experienced oncological nurse, to a University of Leicester-based post. Ms. Nelson, who had worked for the last 12 years as a research nurse at a cancer clinical trials facility, will provide nursing care and support for asbestos cancer patients treated at the University of Leicester Hospital and work with colleagues across the East Midlands to promote equitable access to mesothelioma specialist support and treatment. See: New asbestos-related cancer nurse specialist appointed for Leicester and Leicestershire.
 

Asbestos Death: Government Compensation

Feb 12, 2021

On February 10, 2021 Yoshiho Asano, the son of the late Miyoko Asano – a temporary worker in the 1960s at the Hashima building materials factory owned by the Nichias Corporation – has received a settlement of 14.3 million yen (US$136,600) from the Government of Japan as a result of a lawsuit begun in 2019 and progressed at the Gifu District Court. Miyoko Asana died from asbestosis, having been exposed to asbestos at the factory during the six months he worked there. See: 「ニチアス」羽島工場アスベスト 元従業員の遺族と国、和解成立 [“NICHIAS” Hashima Factory Asbestos Bereaved family and country of former employee, reconciliation concluded].
 

Parliamentary Asbestos Debate

Feb 9, 2021

A February 10, 2021 House of Lords debate on draft legislation – The Mesothelioma Lump Sum Payments (Conditions and Amounts) (Amendment) Regulations 2021 – could, if approved, increase amounts payable to sufferers of the asbestos cancer, mesothelioma by 0.5 percent from 1 April 2021, in line with inflation, and also proportionately increase the level of other disability benefits. Although there is no statutory obligation to uprate government payments for mesothelioma, since 2004 they have been increased annually in line with inflation. The House of Commons debate on the legislation has not yet been scheduled. See: Mesothelioma and pneumoconiosis: Uprating compensation payment rates.
 

Asbestos on Trains

Feb 9, 2021

There is an epidemic of asbestos-related diseases and death amongst people who worked in the rolling stock industry in Italy, due to the widespread use of asbestos in the construction and repair of railway carriages and engines throughout the 20th century. Although Italy banned asbestos in 1992, toxic products remain in place to this day. Italian trade unions are working with civil society partners to highlight the plight of current as well as former workers who have contracted cancers as a result of occupational asbestos exposures at railway workshops and throughout the transport industry. See: Amianto corre sui binary [Asbestos runs on tracks].
 

Asbestos in Schools

Feb 9, 2021

A city in Portugal is near to eradicating asbestos-cement roofing from its schools under an ongoing remediation program. Last week, the municipality of Braga announced it was proceeding with the removal of toxic roofing in six local school buildings at a cost of €1 million. Explaining the municipal decontamination work Braga’s Mayor Ricardo Rio said: “We have been carrying out various interventions in school buildings that give students better conditions of comfort and safety and contribute decisively to the quality of life of the children... it is very important that schools have good infrastructures that guarantee quality in teaching, but also the health of the entire school community.” See: Braga vai retirar placas com amianto de seis edifícios escolares do concelho [Braga will remove asbestos from six school buildings in the municipality].
 

Asbestos Data from the US: Update

Feb 8, 2020

A January 2021 release by the United States Geological Survey detailed annual US asbestos imports between 2016 and 2020 which averaged ~445 tons (t) a year. Imports for 2020 were 300t, a 75% increase on 2019. All the fiber imported was chrysotile (white) asbestos which originated in Brazil and was destined for use by the US chloralkali industry. It is noteworthy that the text reported a decrease in annual global asbestos consumption from around 2 million tons in 2010 to roughly 1 million tons in recent years, with the top asbestos producers in 2020 being Russia (790,000t), Kazakhstan (210,000t) and China (100,000t). See: U.S. Geological Survey, Mineral Commodity Summaries, January 2021 - Asbestos.
 

Anger over Reorganization Plans

Feb 8, 2021

Plans announced by the French Government to merge the compensation fund for asbestos victims – known as FIVA – with ONIAM, an agency administering a medical accidents scheme, have been soundly criticized by asbestos victims’ campaigners. FIVA is run efficiently, paying out €300 million/year; processing time for claims is, on average, less than four months. Critics believe that the merger will reduce the visibility of asbestos victims and curtail the dialogue about the national asbestos scandal. See: Amiante: le fonds d'indemnisation des victimes en voie de disparition? [Asbestos: compensation fund for victims endangered?].
 

Asbestos Remediation Program

Feb 8, 2021

A €4.7 million (US$5.6m) program financed by the regional council to remediate asbestos contamination of 21 hospitals in Italy’s Marche region – in the central area of the country – has been launched, to safeguard the health of all citizens throughout the territory. Work which will be undertaken includes the removal and disposal of all asbestos-containing material from healthcare facilities. See: Amianto, parte la bonifica delle strutture ospedaliere: «Rispondiamo a un problema annoso» [Asbestos, the remediation of hospitals starts: “We respond to an age-old problem”].
 

Minister’s Apology

Feb 8, 2021

On February 2, 2021, Japan’s Minister of Health, Labor and Welfare Norihisa Tamura apologized at a press conference after a January 28, 2021 Supreme Court verdict supported asbestos injury claims against the Government brought by lawyers working for former construction workers from Kyoto Prefecture. Although the Minister said that he felt “responsible” and deeply apologized, he did not mention any future measures that might be implemented to support victims of asbestos-related diseases. See: 建設アスベスト訴訟. 国の敗訴確定2例目で田村厚労大臣謝罪だけ [Construction asbestos proceedings: Only an apology from Minister of Health, Labor and Welfare Tamura as second government defeat confirmed].
 

Judicial Bias in Italian Courts?

Feb 4, 2021

In January, the Milan Court of Appeal acquitted managers from the Breda-Ansaldo engineering company of charges related to workplace exposures which led to the asbestos deaths of 12 employees who had worked for the company between the 1970s and mid-1980s. Reasserting its determination to appeal the latest decision, the Committee for the Defense of Health in the Workplace – which had supported the claimants – said the Milan Court had an appalling track record in adjudicating asbestos cases, having acquitted managers from the Enel thermoelectric plant (2015), Pirelli factories in Milan (2017) and from Fiat’s Alfa Romeo factories in Arese, Milan (2019). See: Perché le morti sul lavoro per amianto restano senza giustizia [Asbestos deaths at work remain without justice].
 

Asbestos Remediation: Update

Feb 4, 2021

As of February 8, 2021, 705 applications for the removal of asbestos roofing have been approved under a program sponsored by Suncheon City, in the South Korean Province of South Jeolla. Subsidized work will be carried out at hundreds of properties at a total cost to the municipal budget of 2.3 billion won (US$2 million) in order to protect citizens from toxic exposures to asbestos roofing. The 2021 asbestos removal program – which is 43% bigger than the one in 2020 – will facilitate remediation of 435 houses, 235 non domestic properties such as warehouses and agricultural buildings, and 35 properties housing vulnerable people. See: 순천시, 1급 발암물질 ‘석면 슬레이트’ 철거에 박차 [Suncheon City accelerates the demolition of ‘Asbestos Slate,’ a first-class carcinogen].
 

Asbestos Anxiety Litigation

Feb 4, 2021

Proceedings before the industrial tribunal of Châteauroux began this week in an asbestos anxiety case; 240+ claimants are seeking compensation for exposures to asbestos they received at a factory in Issoudun, central France. Describing the conditions at her former workplace, one witness said they were “appalling”: “It was very unsanitary… There was dust everywhere, the floor tiles were ripped off, the ceiling insulation torn.” There will be another hearing on March 30; the Court has reserved a large auditorium to accommodate all the interested parties during the October 2021 phase of the trial. See: Exposés à l'amiante, ces anciens salariés des Halles à Issoudun racontent leurs conditions de travail [Exposed to asbestos, these former employees of Les Halles in Issoudun tell about their working conditions].
 

Toxic Talc: Commentary

Feb 4, 2021

A feature on an Isle of Wight news portal examined whether talcum powder and products containing talcum powder, such as cosmetics, were safe for use. Having discussed the properties, constituents and applications of talcum powder, the text considered findings by government agencies and laboratories linking use of talcum powder to various forms of cancer. The author concluded that: “Talcum powder has been used for generations for its ability to absorb moisture. However, asbestos-contaminated talcum powder can lead to cancer in human beings. Consumers should be careful in buying and [sic] cosmetic products.” See: Can Talcum Powder Really Cause Cancer?
 

Building Trust at Philadelphia’s Schools?

Feb 3, 2021

Philadelphia’s legacy of unsafe schools has led many to question the integrity of assurances issued by the Philadelphia School District that it is safe to reopen schools for in-person teaching despite the coronavirus pandemic. “District leaders ask us” wrote Adam Sanchez, a Philadelphia teacher of African American history, and Philadelphia teacher Nina Willbach “to trust them to keep teachers, students, and our families safe. But these same leaders have kept us in poisoned schools for decades, with unsafe building conditions of lead, mold, and asbestos. The district needs to build trust by engaging in a democratic process to ensure teachers and our union that our buildings are safe enough to reopen.” See: Philly leaders lied for decades about school safety. Why should teachers trust them during a pandemic?
 

More Asbestos Propaganda

Feb 3, 2021

An infomercial on a Russian language website extolled the virtues of asbestos saying: “Asbestos does not burn, does not melt, does not emit harmful vapors, is resistant to mechanical damage, and is more durable than many steel grades,” but neglected to mention that exposure to asbestos can cause a variety of deadly cancers and debilitating diseases. The text did, however, point out that: “Russia is the world leader in the extraction and production of materials based on chrysotile asbestos, supplying almost half of the world with reliable and durable products.” See: Асбестовые легенды: как минерал путешествует через историю [Asbestos Legends: How a Mineral Travels Through History].
 

Sale of Illegal Consumer Goods

Feb 3, 2021

The discovery of asbestos in bath mats and other household goods widely distributed in Japan was, according to a new article, just the tip of the iceberg. Consumers in Japan are concerned about the possibility of buying toxic products despite the fact that the country has prohibited all uses of asbestos. Over the last few years, Cainz – a popular hardware chain of stores – and furniture maker Nitori have both recalled products believed to have contained asbestos. Asbestos-contaminated goods were also distributed via dollar stores and other outlets around Japan. See: Asbestos-laced products continue to haunt consumers in Japan.
 

Asbestos Alert!

Feb 3, 2021

Experts, citing increasing mortality from asbestos-related diseases in Spain, have reinforced calls being made for a national asbestos law and scheme to compensate all asbestos victims to replace the time-consuming process now in place which requires victims to seek redress through legal means. Pulmonologists have warned that the presence of asbestos-containing material within the national infrastructure presents a hazard not just to workers but also to members of the public. See: El rastro del amianto se extiende más allá del Metro de Madrid y deja 23 muertes profesionales [The asbestos trail extends beyond the Madrid Metro and leaves 23 professional deaths in 2020 in Spain].
 

Quebec’s Post-Asbestos Era

Feb 3, 2020

Quebec’s mining of chrysotile (white) asbestos throughout the 20th century has left a toxic legacy with mountains of asbestos waste dominating the landscapes of former mining towns. Exposures to fibers liberated by the debris constitute an ongoing hazard to people living and working in the area. A survey, carried out by academics from a University in Western Quebec, of people from one such town – Thetford Mines – has found that “more than 80% of the residents … wish to transform the old mines and asbestos residues into new green spaces” at a cost of between $5-25/year for three years. See: Contribute financially to green the old asbestos mines.
 

Municipal Asbestos Initiative

Feb 2, 2021

The launch of a new municipal facility to support residents of a town at the epicenter of Italy’s asbestos scandal was announced this week by mayor Federico Riboldi and councillor Maria Teresa Lombardi. An asbestos help desk, staffed with medical, legal, environmental and technical personnel, will be operational every Thursday from 9 a.m. till 11:30 a.m. beginning on February 4, 2021 at the Casale Monferrato Town Hall, to provide “concrete information on the main problems related to asbestos.” See: Uno Sportello del Centro Regionale Amianto anche in Comune [A branch of the Regional Asbestos Center also in the Municipality].
 

Mesothelioma Treatment: Update

Feb 2, 2021

The immunotherapy drug nivolumab has been found to increase survival and stabilize disease in patients with relapsed mesothelioma, an aggressive cancer caused by exposure to asbestos. According to data presented on January 30, 2021 at an international lung cancer conference by researchers involved in the UK’s CONFIRM trial, patients treated with this drug lived an average for 9.2 months compared to 6.6 months for those who had received a placebo. This finding has been hailed as a “major breakthrough” and “game-changer” by clinicians and patients. See: Immunotherapy improves survival for people with aggressive, asbestos-linked lung cancer.
 

Victory for French Miners

Feb 2, 2021

The Douai Court of Appeal on January 29, 2021 recognized the emotional and psychological anxiety of 726 miners in Lorraine who had been exposed to multiple carcinogens at their workplace and awarded them €10,000 each; the French State will be footing the bill for the compensation payments and legal costs expected to total in excess of €7.3m (US$8.9m). The judgment of the Court of Appeal found that miners had routinely experienced workplace: “exposure to the emanation of wood dust, coal, rock, asbestos particles, diesel locomotive fumes, product fumes, and toxic liquids.” Commenting on the case Jean-Paul Teissonnière, a member of the miners' legal team, said the ruling could benefit all employees exposed to workplace toxins. See: Préjudice d’anxiété: carton plein pour les mineurs! [Anxiety damage: a box full of miners!].
 

Building Asbestos Awareness in BC

Feb 2, 2021

A 2018 report by the Government of British Colombia (BC), entitled Keeping Workers, the Public and the Environment Safe from Asbestos, recommended that BC adopt recognized standards and programs for the training of asbestos abatement workers. As a consequence of the Canadian Province’s failure to do so, trade unions, training institutes and private companies have devised and implemented asbestos awareness training programs to ensure that operatives in the asbestos abatement industry meet WorkSafeBC standards and qualifications. See: Private sector and unions filling B.C. void in asbestos training.
 

Ecuador Debate on Asbestos

Feb 2, 2021

An article in El Universo – one of the largest daily newspapers in Ecuador – highlighted the human health risks posed by exposure to asbestos, citing the policies of international agencies which call for the elimination of asbestos use on the grounds of public and occupational health. Explaining the ubiquity of asbestos-containing products throughout the country, the author stated: “there is no specific law or regulation on the prohibition and use of asbestos” in Ecuador. The specific danger of toxic exposures to construction workers was discussed. See: ¿Qué es el asbesto o amianto y qué peligros tiene para la salud? [What is asbestos and what dangers does it have for health?].
 

Auction of Former Portuguese Icon

Feb 1, 2021

A Portuguese article highlighted the London January 29, 2021 auction of the former Portuguese vessel MV Funchal and warned that a downturn in demand for such vessels combined with its asbestos contamination may result in the vessel being sold for scrap. The article quoted campaigner Carmen Lima who flagged up this issue: “The removal of asbestos and the decontamination of the vessel should take place in Portugal avoiding the transborder shipment of contaminants to another country, namely one where the criteria for asbestos removal may not be as demanding and may put at risk the health of shipbreaking workers and their communities.” See: Leilão do Paquete Funchal hoje em Londres preocupa associações [Auction of Funchal vessel in London today worries associations].
 

Supreme Court Upholds Workers’ Verdict

Feb 1, 2021

On January 28, 2021, Japan’s Supreme Court upheld a ruling by the Osaka High Court which had found the government and manufacturers of construction materials responsible for asbestos-related diseases contracted by former construction workers from the western prefecture of Kyoto. This is the first time that the Supreme Court has recognized the responsibility of construction materials manufacturers for asbestos-related injuries sustained by a a large group claimants. The defendants were ordered to pay compensation of 280 million yen (~US$ 2.7m) to 24 former workers. This ruling is widely regarded as a precedent which will benefit many injured workers. See: Court Holds Japan Govt, Firms Responsible for Asbestos Problems
 

Asbestos Monitoring and Safety

Feb 1, 2021

To protect inhabitants of Seoul from toxic exposures to asbestos, the Seoul Institute for Health and Environment – a specialized asbestos analysis organization certified by the Ministry of Environment and Ministry of Employment and Labor – is tightening up on inspections at sites, such as underground stations, regional children's centers, and private academies, where there is a high risk of asbestos exposures in 2021. Results of tests to measure airborne asbestos fiber levels are uploaded to websites run by local as well as municipal authorities. See: 서울시, 지하역사와 학원 등 공기 중 석면 조사 확대 [Expanded investigation of asbestos in air such as that found Seoul, underground stations and academies].
 

Maritime Asbestos Contamination

Feb 1, 2021

A commentary by a legal expert warned of a tsunami of future asbestos litigation arising from toxic exposures on ships despite the International Maritime Organization’s 2011 ban on its use. According to author David Osler, asbestos “is widespread on ships built prior to 2002, when the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea introduced a ban with some limited exceptions.” Asbestos contamination can often be found in vessels’ “pipework flange gaskets, woven packing and gasket materials, hand pumps, isolation valves and stores.” As the cost of asbestos removal can be “prohibitive,” shipowners often delay taking action on identifying and addressing the issue. See: Hazmat study finds asbestos ‘on most ships’.
 

Asbestos at the Opera

Feb 1, 2021

At a demonstration held outside a Milan courtroom on January 29, workers from La Scala Opera House displayed asbestos-containing samples of products which had been found in the theatre. Inside the building, legal proceedings continued in a case brought against four former managers accused of manslaughter for the asbestos deaths of former workers. Yesterday lawyer Laura Mara told the Court: “the employer was required to know that exposure to asbestos would have exposed workers to diseases such as asbestosis…” Prosecutors are asking that the accused receive prison sentences of between two and a half and seven years. See: “Ecco l’amianto nascosto nel Teatro alla Scala” [“Here is the asbestos hidden in La Scala Theater”].
 

Asbestos Justice: Yet Another Delay

Jan 29, 2021

On January 20, 2021 French asbestos victims received news which indicated that a criminal trial over the national asbestos scandal might finally become a reality as a result of a decision by the investigative chamber of the Paris Court of Appeal. The Court reversed a July 2019 judgment that had dismissed charges against officials from a former asbestos company. On January 22, however, the prosecutor appealed this decision; as a consequence, it will be at least two more years before any criminal proceedings can be launched. A group representing French asbestos victims has appealed to François Molins, attorney general at the Court of Cassation (Supreme Court), to intervene. See: Procès pénal de l'amiante: la justice souffle le chaud et le froid [Asbestos criminal trial: justice blows hot and cold].
 

Pressure on EPA for Asbestos Rethink

Jan 29, 2021

Public advocacy groups and campaigners have put the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on notice of their intent to file a lawsuit over the EPA’s multiple failures under the Trump Administration to adequately evaluate public and occupational health risks posed by asbestos exposures. According to lawyer Robert Sussman, the petitioners “want to see a comprehensive and robust evaluation of asbestos that looks at all the risks, all the products and types of asbestos which are out there that people are exposed to and looks thoroughly at the science.” See: Ninth Circuit Asked to Undo Asbestos Review by Trump EPA.
 

Fire was Public Health Emergency

Jan 29, 2021

Poor communication, lack of coordination and an overwhelming failure of leadership has been blamed by local people whose properties were affected by asbestos fallout from the December 8, 2020 fire at the Ponsonby Intermediate School in Auckland. The involvement of multiple central and local government agencies including Auckland Council, Auckland Regional Public Health Service, Fire and Emergency NZ, Auckland Transport, and the Ministry of Education produced a chaotic response to the emergency as a result of which hazardous exposures of people living in properties downwind of the Auckland school were prolonged. See: A disaster no one is paying attention to.
 

Iniquitous Inland Revenue Policy

Jan 29, 2021

The Inland Revenue has recently changed its policy regarding the provision of work history information, starting in 1961, to the relatives or legal representatives of deceased applicants. This information is required by former employers or insurance companies when considering a claim brought for occupational asbestos exposure. Legal experts are calling for the Inland Revenue to reverse this policy, with one solicitor warning that: “No first hand evidence from the [deceased] victim and no proof of employment will lead more and more to families being uncompensated by negligent employers.” See: HM Revenue policy change causes serious barriers to mesothelioma justice and must be reversed.
 

Victory at Supreme Court!

Jan 29, 2021

The Supreme Court of Italy issued a claimant’s ruling against an appeal brought by a company which sought to reverse a verdict ordering it to pay compensation to the surviving family of a former employee who had died due to lung cancer contracted as a result of occupational exposure to asbestos. Arguments cited by the company’s lawyers, including allegations that the claim had been barred by the expiry of the statute of limitations and that the deceased had not direct workplace exposure to asbestos, were rejected by the Court. See: Esposizione ad amianto e termini per l’azione di ristoro iure hereditatis [Exposure to asbestos and refreshment of time limits for actions concerning the rights of heirs].
 

Another Spanish Tragedy

Jan 26, 2021

Santos González was the first suburban worker of the Madrid Metro diagnosed with a disease caused by occupational exposure to asbestos. He started work for the transport company in 1979. Last month, Mr. González was diagnosed with lung cancer with pulmonary fibrosis. Last week it was confirmed that he had contracted COVID-19; due to the severity of the pulmonary fibrosis, he could not be intubated. He died on January 23. Seven other Metro workers have also died from asbestos-related diseases and the occupational illnesses of 12 more have been recognized, and several other cases are pending. See: Muere el primer trabajador de Metro de Madrid al que se diagnosticó amiantosis [The first Metro de Madrid worker diagnosed with asbestosis dies].
 

Deadly Asbestos Legacy

Jan 26, 2021

Contamination caused by decades of manufacturing by the Carolina Asbestos Company at an old factory near Charlotte, North Carolina remains decades after operations had ceased. Redevelopment of the site and area has been hindered by the high cost of decontamination. Generations of workers and local residents paid with their lives for the profits of the company. Behind the mill, is a 25 foot high mountain of asbestos waste called Asbestos Hill. Despite attempts to cover the asbestos pile with vegetation, the site remains a toxic reminder of the area’s industrial past. Local people are concerned that redevelopment would release asbestos into the air. See: Davidson's Legacy of Asbestos Contamination and Distrust.
 

Toxic Talc

Jan 26, 2021

A Nigerian based non-governmental organization – the Foundation of the Conservation of the Earth (FOCONE) – has called for the immediate withdrawal of talc-based products from the Nigerian market. At a press conference in Port Harcourt, FOCONE consultant Kingsley Ozegbe warned of the health hazards posed by the use of asbestos-contaminated products such as baby powder; users could contract the fatal asbestos cancer mesothelioma, he said. As a result of the health hazard, Johnson & Johnson withdrew from sale in North America it’s talc-based baby powder. This product was still sold in Nigeria. FOCONE urged the National Agency for Food & Drug Administration and Control and the Federal Competition & Consumer Protection Commission to take urgent action. See: Talc Products Contain Asbestos.
 

Spain’s Toxic Asbestos Legacy

Jan 26, 2021

The human health consequences of asbestos in the transport systems of Madrid and Barcelona have been high-profile news over recent years. A lawsuit brought by the family of asbestos cancer victim José María Íñigo over hazardous exposures experienced at the studios of Spain’s nationally owned broadcasting corporation highlighted the scope and severity of the country’s asbestos legacy. Throughout the country, workers and members of the public remain at risk of contracting multiple types of cancer from occupational and environmental exposures. See: Así es el mesotelioma, el cáncer que causó la muerte a José María Íñigo: “Solo lo produce la inhalación del Amianto” [This is mesothelioma, the cancer that caused José María Íñigo's death: “It is only caused by inhalation of asbestos”].
 

Toxic Talc

Jan 26, 2021

As a result of lobbying by civil society organizations in Nepal concerned about the marketing in Nepal of asbestos-contaminated baby powder withdrawn from North American markets, Nepal’s Department of Commerce, Supply and Consumer Protection has collected samples of Johnson & Johnson’s talc-based baby powder made in the USA, Canada and India and Himalayan baby powder and submitted them for testing. If the results show the J&J product to be contaminated, the Government will ban its sale and use in Nepal. The results are expected in February, 2021. See: Cancer-Causing Baby Powders Continue Circulating in The Nepali Market.
 

Mesothelioma: Improved Treatment

Jan 26, 2021

A paper published in The Lancet last week, co-authored by researchers from Asia, Australia, Europe, and North / Latin America, investigated whether survival rates for patients with malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM) could be improved by treatment with nivolumab and ipilimumab. The scientists found that: “Nivolumab plus ipilimumab provided significant and clinically meaningful improvements in overall survival versus standard-of-care chemotherapy, supporting the use of this first-in-class regimen that has been approved in the USA as of October, 2020, for previously untreated unresectable MPM.” See: First-line nivolumab plus ipilimumab in unresectable malignant pleural mesothelioma (CheckMate 743): a multicentre, randomised, open-label, phase 3 trial.
 

Asbestos Alert

Jan 25, 2021

An article by a medical specialist from Ukraine which highlighted the hazard of environmental exposures to carcinogenic substances warned of the dangers posed to construction workers by their use of asbestos-containing building products. The author, erroneously, said that Ukraine had banned the use of these products. Unfortunately, the ban had been overturned after pressure was exerted by industry stakeholders (see: Ukraine’s Asbestos Debacle). The “scientifically proven” finding of the International Agency for Research on Cancer that asbestos was a Group 1 carcinogen was accurately reported. See: Hе надеясь на удачу. Можно ли предотвратить рак [Not hoping for luck. Cancer can be prevented].
 

Asbestos Memorial in Canada

Jan 25, 2021

A seven-meter high kinetic sculpture called “Magic and Lethal” has been commissioned by the British Colombia (BC) Labour Heritage Center as a memorial to those whose lives have been lost to asbestos, a substance which continues to kill BC workers today despite a national ban. Asbestos-related lung disease is BC’s leading cause of occupational mortality. The piece of public art will be sited strategically at the Vancouver Convention Center West from where you can see the Burrard Inlet; asbestos fiber from the Cassiar Asbestos mine in northern BC was transported via the inlet to docks in North Vancouver from where it was exported around the world. See: First-of-its kind memorial to those lost to asbestos exposure coming to Vancouver.
 

Progress: Remediation of Asbestos Site

Jan 25, 2021

Former industrial facilities belonging to the Amiantit SA company in Drepano, a village near the Greek city of Patras, will be decontaminated and demolished under an agreement signed in Depano this week by Lambros Dimitrogiannis, Deputy Regional Governor of Western Greece. It has been estimated that 2,650 tonnes of asbestos waste will be produced by the remediation work of the 134,750 square meter site. One hundred and twenty days have been allocated for the completion of the work; a further 120 days will be allowed because of emergency conditions created by the pandemic. See: Απομακρύνεται το πρώην εργοστάσιο της «ΑΜΙΑΝΤΙΤ» στο Δρέπανο Αχαΐας [The former factory of "AMIANTIT" in Drepano, Achaia, is removed].
 

Court of Appeal Victory

Jan 25, 2021

On January 18, 2021, the Court of Appeal handed down a unanimous verdict in the case of Deborah Head vs The Culver Heating Co. Ltd. which overturned a “manifestly unjust” nil award for the mesothelioma death of Michael Head, a successful businessman. The April 2019 judgment by Judge Melissa Clarke did not provide compensation for the “lost years claim” considering that income to be investment and not earnings. The Court of Appeal disagreed, finding that all of Mr. Head’s income should be treated as earnings which were recoverable by his Estate. See: Appeal successful in Head v Culver Heating Co Ltd.
 

Prof. Jean Renaud vs. Montreal University

Jan 25, 2021

Public outrage has been generated in Quebec over the failure of the University of Montreal to recognize and compensate Emeritus Professor of Sociology Jean Renaud for contracting the signature asbestos cancer, mesothelioma as a result of toxic workplace exposures. The Professor, who is currently receiving palliative care, had worked in an office on the university campus which had asbestos ceiling and floor tiles. The University is currently challenging a decision by the Committee on Standards, Energy, Health and Safety at Work which had recognized the Professor’s disease as having been occupationally caused. See: L’Université de Montréal sommée d’indemniser un de ses anciens professeurs [The University of Montreal ordered to compensate one of its former professors].
 

Asbestos: Mixed Messages

Jan 19, 2021

An article uploaded on January 16, 2021 by the State TV and Radio Company of Nizhny Novgorod, a city in Central Russia, sent out mixed messages regarding the health hazard posed by asbestos exposures. On the one hand, the message confirmed that asbestos was “a carcinogen that has caused lung cancer in hundreds of thousands of people. It was widely used until the second half of the last century and undermined the health of builders…” However, on the other hand, the text alleged that “for residents of houses built with asbestos, it does not pose such a danger.” See: Доктор Мясников назвал главную причину рака [Doctor Myasnikov named the main cause of cancer].
 

Marriage of Art and Awareness, Italian-style!

Jan 19, 2021

A five-minute rap, featuring Stefania Crivellari, by the Sicilian artist Picciotto was uploaded to YouTube on January 9, 2021. This piece is a remix of a 2016 work which was, said Picciotto, necessary as the “reclamation of the territory has not been completed and no progress has been made regarding treatment therapies for those who fall ill” (see: Background to 2021 upload). Funds raised by this effort will be donated to a research charity for work on asbestos-related cancers. The narrative of the video accompanying the song included newspaper articles, X-rays, footage of medical personnel, snippets of the “Fuck Cancer Choir,” asbestos warning signs, and other images highlighting Italy’s ongoing asbestos cancer epidemic. See: Ancora Sotto Casa Mia Feat. Picciotto [Still under My House. Picciotto].
 

Asbestos Anxiety in the Navy

Jan 19, 2021

Building on a landmark 2019 verdict for 45 Breton officers of the French Navy whose asbestos anxiety was recognized and compensated, on January 7, 2021, a Rennes administrative court recognized 21 additional cases. Over the last four years, 170 cases have been filed with the administrative court. These cases are, said victims’ campaigner Jean-Paul Le Roux, complex, and the Ministry of Armed Forces remained uncooperative, refusing to provide crucial documentation to claimants and their legal advisors. See: Amiante: la faute du ministère des Armées reconnue pour 21 nouveaux dossiers de marins [Asbestos: the fault of the Ministry of the Armed Forces recognized for 21 new cases of sailors].
 

Asbestos Removal Ban

Jan 19, 2021

On December 17, 2020, by a unanimous decision, the three-member British Colombia (B.C.) Court of Appeal upheld a ruling prohibiting Mike Singh and Seattle Environmental Consulting from working in the asbestos removal industry. Singh had breached workplace safety laws more than 20 times at 11 different worksites – including homes in Vancouver, Burnaby, Richmond and West Vancouver – between 2013 and 2017 and, as a result, had been banned from the asbestos removal industry in 2019 by B.C. Supreme Court Justice Francesca Marzari. See: B.C. Court of Appeal upholds decision barring Vancouver man from asbestos removal industry.
 

Compensation for Hospital Exposures

Jan 18, 2021

Last week (January 14, 2021), it was announced that a settlement had been reached between 48 workers exposed to asbestos during renovation work at the Besançon University Hospital in eastern France between 2009 and 2013 and the legal team representing the health authority. In a landmark decision on April 21, 2020, France’s Court of Cassation (Supreme Court) had ruled that a public authority – the Besançon University Hospital – could be found criminally liable for asbestos exposures experienced by workers. Each member of the class action will receive €10,000 (US$12,080) in damages. See: Amiante au CHU de Besançon: chaque agent exposé recevra 10.000 euros d'indemnisation [Asbestos at Besançon University Hospital: each exposed agent will receive 10,000 euros in compensation].
 

Mesothelioma: Update

Jan 18, 2021

An opinion piece in an online Italian newspaper examined the impact of asbestos exposures throughout Italy in interviews with key medical clinicians and researchers, including Drs. Federica Grosso and Stefania Crivellari, and PhD student Simona Martinotti. Dr. Grosso highlighted the ongoing importance of preventing asbestos exposures, stressing the need to remediate contaminated sites. The use of musical therapy for mesothelioma patients and their carers who are part of a specialist cancer choir founded in 2019 has, said Dr. Crivellai, had “positive effects.” See: Saperne di più sull’amianto e il mesotelioma fra ricerca scientifica e musica [Learn more about asbestos and mesothelioma, from scientific research to music].
 

Asbestos Victims’ Protest

Jan 18, 2021

A press release issued on January 14, 2021 by the French Association of Asbestos Victims Groups (ANDEVA) condemned moves by the government to amalgamate the National Asbestos Compensation Fund (FIVA), created under a law passed in 2000, with the National Office for Medical Accidents, as a cost-saving measure. Created to provide a streamlined procedure by which asbestos victims could obtain compensation for their injuries, FIVA has, to date, settled more than 100,000 claims. ANDEVA called on its members, civil society stakeholders and partnering organizations to raise objections with Parliamentarians over this amalgamation. See: Les victimes de l’amiante refusent de voir le FIVA disparaître [Asbestos victims refuse to see FIVA go away].
 

Shipbreaking Exposé

Jan 18, 2021

Two articles published in December 2020 highlighted the deadly consequences of unregulated and uncontrolled conditions at Bangladesh shipbreaking yards where exposures to toxic substances, including asbestos, on ships sent for scrapping have injured generations of workers. The vessels, many of which are registered under flags of convenience and owned by off-shore companies, flout laws and provide neither warnings nor protection to workers (see: Toxic ships sail in on false papers), with Ministerial officials admitting the complete lack of government supervision and capacity to test ships for the presence of toxic substances.
See: How offshore companies import deadly asbestos into Bangladesh.
 

Asbestos Trial: Update

Jan 14, 2021

On January 11, 12 & 13, 2021, Madrid Judge María Isabel Garaizaba was due to hear evidence in a criminal case against seven defendants responsible for the management of health and occupational risk at the company operating the Madrid Metro. The start of preliminary proceedings over the asbestos-related deaths of two workers had been delayed multiple times because of the coronavirus pandemic; this week it was delayed once again by snowstorm Filomena which forced the suspension of court proceedings. See: Suspendidas por tercera vez las declaraciones de los investigados del caso amianto por la nevada [Suspended for the third time the statements of those investigated in asbestos case due to snow].
 

Government Evasion on Veterans’ Rights

Jan 14, 2021

In a Written answer to a Parliamentary question by MP Stephen Morgan (Dec 30, 2020) to the Ministry of Defence, on Jan 11, 2021 Johnny Mercer MP and Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State affirmed the government’s commitment “to helping forces heroes diagnosed with mesothelioma, a cancer of the lung caused by asbestos.” Although, said Mercer, the government would “support access to compensation for veterans affected by the cancer through either its war pensions scheme or armed forces compensation scheme,” he made no mention of veterans suffering from lung cancer who were exposed to asbestos pre-1987 and continue to be disadvantaged by government policies. See: British veterans left with cancer after military service to be supported, minister says.
 

Asbestos Removal Project

Jan 14, 2021

A scheme to provide financial support for homeowners to remove asbestos roofing from 225 properties has been announced by authorities in Yeonggwang-gun, a county in South Korea’s South Jeolla Province. The 2021 allocation for the project made by the county was 90 million won (US$82,000); all applications must be made to the Urban Environment Division between January 12 and February 26, 2021. Priority will be given to applications for remediation work on vacant and dilapidated houses. See: 영광군, 석면 슬레이트지붕 철거 지원사업 추진 [ Yeonggwang-gun, asbestos roof demolition support project].
 

Asbestos Remediation at Charity

Jan 14, 2021

A project to remove asbestos roofing from the headquarters of The Center for Occupational Activities of the Portuguese Association of Parents and Friends of the Mentally Handicapped Citizen (APPACDM) in Valença was announced this week. The €270,000 (US$330,000) budget for this work was approved last year under a Regional Operational Program. According to Luiz Costa, APPACDM’s President, the charity has “180 days to proceed with the work. We are working on the process so that we can open the public tender. It should still take between three to four months for the project to start.” See: Amianto vai ser removido do centro da APPACDM de Valença [Asbestos will be removed from APPACDM center in Valença].
 

Asbestos Health Hazard: Alert

Jan 12, 2021

An article on a Russian language website for the Omsk region acknowledged the link between exposure to asbestos – a valued resource mined in Russia – and lung cancer, stating: “Pulmonologists estimate that in about 20 years one in three lung cancers will be caused by exposure to asbestos dust…” The text of this article pointed out that asbestos roofing “constantly emits dust” and that fibers such as those released by weathered asbestos roofing are “responsible for lung and pleural cancers...” See: Рак легких — от чего еще, кроме курения он возникает? [Lung cancer – what else besides smoking causes it?].
 

National Award for Asbestos Mine?!

Jan 12, 2021

In what seems to be a rather bizarre pronouncement, on December 30, 2020 Chinese authorities recognized the Mangya chrysotile (white) asbestos mine as the first national industrial heritage project in Qinghai Province, in the northwest of China. The mine, which was founded in the 1950s, is operated by the country’s largest asbestos mining and processing enterprise and supplies asbestos fiber to 40% of the domestic asbestos market. In the article about this award, there is no mention of the occupational or environmental hazard posed by the commercial exploitation of asbestos. See: 青海茫崖石棉矿成青海首个国家级工业遗产项目 [Qinghai Mangya asbestos mine became the first national industrial heritage project in Qinghai].
 

Asbestos Cover-up

Jan 12, 2021

Two podcasts totalling 90 minutes examined the question of whether or not there was a cover-up in the US about the hazards posed by occupational and environmental exposures to asbestos. The content of the broadcasts traced the history of asbestos use and the evolution of medical and scientific knowledge regarding its dangers from the 19th century to the present. The presenters concluded that there was sufficient proof to establish that government stakeholders had supported vested interests to prioritize the needs of the asbestos industry over the welfare of US citizens in a conspiracy which condemned many of those affected to debilitating disease and premature death. See: The Asbestos Cover-Up Pt 1 and The Asbestos Cover-Up Pt 2.
 

Post-ban Asbestos Hazard

Jan 12, 2021

An interesting briefing on the uses and abuses of asbestos – by a scientific expert – highlighted the hazard asbestos exposures still posed to Brazilians despite a Supreme Court ruling in 2017 which banned the commercial exploitation of asbestos. Asbestos-containing products had been used for decades throughout the country and many toxic products remain hidden within the national infrastructure. The author of this text, Professor Victor Ricardo Ferreira, cited World Health Organization policy which stated that: “there are no safe methods of handling this product and that its risks outweigh the possible benefits.” See: Aminato [Asbestos].
 

Asbestos Ban: Update

Jan 11, 2021

Despite the fact that the Colombian asbestos ban came into effect on January 1, 2021, critics point out that there has not yet been any progress made on the adoption of a protocol for the replacement of asbestos-containing products in the country. In the Ana Cecilia Niño ban asbestos law, a deadline of five years was specified for formulating a public policy to eradicate the asbestos hazard in Colombia. According to politician Mauricio Toro, the Government had, so far, convened a couple of meetings to which neither academics nor representatives of civil society had been invited. See: Prohibición del asbesto entró en vigencia, pero no hay protocolo de sustitución [Asbestos ban went into effect, but there is no substitution protocol].
 

Resumption of Asbestos Proceedings

Jan 11, 2021

This week – on January 11, 12 and 13 – Madrid investigating Judge María Isabel Garaizaba will take statements in a criminal case against seven defendants responsible for health and occupational risk prevention who were employed by Madrid Metro. The charges they face of reckless homicide relate to the asbestos-related deaths of two former workers. The start of preliminary proceedings had been delayed multiple times by the pandemic. See: Las declaraciones del caso amianto se reanudan este lunes con las comparecencias de los investigados [The statements of the asbestos case resume this Monday with the appearances of those investigated].
 

Asbestos Recall of Toxic Items

Jan 11, 2021

Over three million items sold by the Japanese Nitori company have been recalled from sale due to asbestos contamination of between 0.2 and 1.5%. Amongst the toxic products sold by Nitori between December 4, 2016 and December 16, 2020 were bath mats, containing up to 15 times the allowable concentration of asbestos, and coasters manufactured by the Japanese company Horiki Kosakusho. On December 28, 2020 a spokesperson for the Chemical Substances Control Division of the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, confirmed that asbestos had been detected in 18 types of Nitori products. See: <速報>ニトリ販売のバスマットから基準15倍のアスベスト検出 [Breaking news: Asbestos detection of 15 times the standard from bath mats sold by Nitori].
 

Asbestos in Schools: Update

Jan 8, 2021

European Union (EU) funds of €78 million – provided under EU Regional Operational Programs – have been budgeted for an asbestos removal program in schools in Portugal. By the December 2020 deadline, applications had been received for funding for remediation work at 486 schools in 149 municipalities across the country, according to figures released on January 7, 2021 by the Ministry of Territorial Cohesion. According to a Ministry spokesperson, to date these funds have paid for the removal and replacement of asbestos roofs “in more than 200 public schools.” See: Há 486 escolas candidatas ao programa de remoção de Amianto [486 schools have applied for the asbestos removal program].
 

Mesothelioma in UK Military Cohort

Jan 8, 2021

The first paper examining the mesothelioma experience of UK military veterans has highlighted significant issues including the difficulty of navigating military, health and civil systems, and the influence of the military experience on sufferers’ coping strategies. The paper, which was based on research undertaken by co-authors for The Military Mesothelioma Experience Study, noted “specific challenges and care needs related to veterans with mesothelioma.” Following on from the project, a report with recommendations regarding care and support of veterans living with mesothelioma is being compiled. See: Living with mesothelioma: A qualitative study of the experiences of male military veterans in the UK.
 

Asbestos Legacy in Mining Town

Jan 7, 2021

Groups studying the environment announced this week that research undertaken in October 2020 in Quebec identified contamination of a river in the former asbestos mining town of Asbestos, now called Val-des-Sources. Sediment in 8 samples from the Nicolet Sud-Ouest River contained up to 5% asbestos with the most toxic samples taken from the foot of huge mountains of waste created by the Jeffrey chrysotile (white) asbestos mine. According to Daniel Green, of the Bureau of Investigations: “Clearly, the dumps provided asbestos fibers to the sediment.” Corroborating these findings, researcher Olivier Jacques said he had observed similar levels of asbestos in lakes fed by the Bécancour River in the Thetford Mines region. See: De l’amiante coule dans une rivière [Asbestos is flowing in a river].
 

EPA Asbestos Evaluation: Update

Jan 7, 2021

A commentary which was part of the January 4, 2021 online edition of the National Law Review reported on the publication on December 30, 2020 of the Final Risk Evaluation for Asbestos, Part 1: Chrysotile Asbestos of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), stating that the EPA “found that there is unreasonable risk to workers, occupational non-users, consumers, and/or bystanders within each of the six chrysotile asbestos use categories.” The EPA could take various actions to address the risks posed by asbestos exposure including prohibiting its consumption, handling and sale throughout the US. See: EPA Publishes Final Risk Evaluation for Asbestos, Part 1: Chrysotile Asbestos.
 

Union Victory for Railway Workers

Jan 7, 2021

Three hundred and ninety-five asbestos-exposed railway workers from the Italian city of Pistoia will finally be able to retire at the end of a 13-month long legal battle as an amendment to the 2016 budget law – which permitted early retirement by eligible workers who applied prior to December 31, 2020 – was passed by Parliament. The changes to the budget law consisted of six important articles, said trade unions leaders who had been instrumental in achieving this victory. See: Lavoratori esposti all’amianto Via libera alla pensione per 395 [395 workers exposed to asbestos get green light to retirement].
 

Asbestos Ban Takes Effect!

Jan 4, 2021

Legislation banning the mining, import, processing and sale of asbestos fiber and products containing it came into effect on January 1, 2021 in Colombia. The aim of law 1968 of July 11, 2019 was to protect workers and members of the public from the very serious health hazards posed by asbestos exposures. Colombia had been an asbestos producer and consumer with the majority of fiber being used in the production of asbestos-cement building products. As of January 1, 2021, the Government had a five year deadline to formulate a policy for the eradication of asbestos throughout the country. See: A partir de este 1º de enero se prohibe distribuir, comercializar y producir asbesto en Colombia [As of January 1st, it is prohibited to distribute, commercialize and produce asbestos in Colombia].
 

EPA’s Asbestos U-Turn?

Jan 4, 2021

A commentary in the weekly magazine entitled Chemical & Engineering News, published by the American Chemical Society, asked whether the end had finally come for chrysotile asbestos, stating: “the US Environmental Protection Agency [EPA] is set to address the cancer risks posed by all current uses of chrysotile asbestos” following the publication on December 30 of a final assessment which found “unreasonable risks” to workers and members of the public who handle chlor-alkali diaphragms, gaskets, aftermarket automobile brakes, and other asbestos-containing products. Following EPA procedures, the Agency has one year to propose measures to prevent toxic exposures as identified in the final assessment. See: Is the end near for chrysotile asbestos?
 

Guernsey Mesothelioma Scheme!

Jan 4, 2021

In a media release dated December 31, 2020, the government of the Bailiwick of Guernsey – including the islands of Guernsey and Alderney – announced the launch of a scheme on January 1, 2021 for residents who contract diffuse mesothelioma. Plans to implement this scheme were approved in June 2020 by the Committee for Employment & Social Security (the Committee). Welcoming the support for asbestos-injured islanders, Deputy Peter Roffey, President of the Committee, said: “Mesothelioma is a terrible disease, but I'm pleased that, at last, we can introduce this payment scheme for people who have contracted diffuse mesothelioma through exposure to asbestos in Guernsey or Alderney.” See: Diffuse Mesothelioma Payment Scheme Launched.
 

Asbestos Remediation of Schools

Jan 4, 2021

The Department of Education of the South Korean Province of Gyeongbuk has set a 2027 deadline for the removal of asbestos from all its schools; the annual budget allocated for this work is 18 billion won/year (~US$16.6m/yr). Under this program, asbestos remediation at 91 schools was accomplished in 2020, with work due to be undertaken in 2021 at 79 schools. Progress is monitored by a collation of groups including school officials, parents, experts and representatives of civil society groups. See: 경북교육청, 2027년까지 학교 건축물 석면 제거...매년 180억 이상 투자 [Gyeongbuk Office of Education to remove asbestos from school buildings by 2027, investing more than 18 billion won annually].
 

Asbestos Exposure During Childhood

Jan 4, 2021

A paper published in the October-December 2020 issue of the Annali dell'Istituto superiore di sanita [The Annals of the Higher Institute of Health], which drew on mesothelioma data collected in Italy between 2003 and 2016, showed that 2.5% of all mesothelioma deaths occurred in people aged =50; the authors speculated that these deaths were probably caused by non-occupational exposures to asbestos during childhood. The identification of geographical hotspots of disease was, the researchers said, informative for the implementation of public health and environmental remediation actions. See: Early mortality from malignant mesothelioma in Italy as a proxy of environmental exposure to asbestos in children.
 

Alert: Mining Asbestos Waste

Dec 30, 2020

Ban asbestos campaigners in Colombia have raised the alert over news that the commercial processing of mining waste at the Las Brisas asbestos mine – which was closed in 2019 when Colombia banned asbestos – has begun with the support of the national government. The facility in Campamento is now reclaiming material from the slag to be used in the production of magnesium silicate, fertilizers, talc and construction materials. Local politicians, who supported the asbestos mine, welcomed the new jobs this development would provide. See: Mina de Campamento pasó de producir asbesto a fertilizantes y materiales [Campamento mine goes from producing asbestos to fertilizers and construction materials].
 

Government Apology!

Dec 30, 2020

On December 23, 2020, Japan’s Minister of Health, Labor and Welfare Norihisa Tamura met with plaintiffs in a landmark Supreme Court class action mounted by asbestos-injured construction workers to apologize to them on behalf of the Japanese Government. The Minister said: “We take the judgment seriously and will take appropriate measures.” He promised to facilitate a forum to consider how best to support victims who had been injured as a result of the Government’s failures; injured workers had called for a national fund so that victims would not have to endure protracted legal battles to obtain compensation. See: アスベスト裁判 原告らに謝罪 協議の場設ける考え示す 厚労相 [Asbestos Trial, Apology to plaintiffs by Minister of Health, Labor and Welfare].
 

Campaign against Asbestos Dump

Dec 30, 2020

Opposition and outrage has greeted plans by the regional government of Western Macedonia to create a landfill for the disposal of toxic waste in a former asbestos mining region of Kozani in Northern Greece. The site would receive asbestos waste from all of Greece and possibly even abroad, according to proposals currently being considered by the Regional Governor. Local people are incensed by the plans: “we unreservedly oppose any thought of creating this dangerous landfill in the Area.” See: Όχι σκουπιδότοπος αμιάντου στα πρώην ΜΑΒΕ’ [“No asbestos dump in the former MAVE”].
 

Asbestos Fly-tipping in Anatolia

Dec 30, 2020

Asbestos-containing debris has been discovered in garbage dumped illegally in a forest area in the Gaziemir district of Izmir, a city on the west of the Turkish peninsula of Anatolia. Local people are incensed about the health hazard posed by the environmental contamination and have urged the local authorities to take action not only to remediate the area but also to prevent further dumping. See: Kaçak moloz dökülen ormanlık alanda 'asbest' tehlikesi [The danger of ‘asbestos’ in the forest area with illegal dumping of waste].
 

Court Orders Asbestos Action by EPA

Dec 29, 2020

A 36-page ruling handed down on December 22, 2020 by Judge Edward Chen of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California ordered the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to upgrade asbestos reporting by implementing measures to collect data on the import and use of asbestos and asbestos-containing products in the US. In a statement welcoming this verdict, the Attorney General of Massachusetts Maura Healey said “The Trump Administration’s failure to use its authority to protect all of us from dangerous exposures to asbestos is as unconscionable as it is inexplicable.” See: EPA Ordered to Close Asbestos Reporting Loopholes.
 

Asbestos Lobby Offensive

Dec 29, 2020

This month an editorial appeared on the website of the International Chrysotile Association (ICA) – a lobbying group dedicated to promoting global sales of chrysotile asbestos – condemning the efforts of European asbestos victims’ groups which, the ICA alleged, had “dubious motivations” and opted “for calumny and slander and call for the very disappearance of the ICA.” The ICA’s aggressive retort came in response to letters addressed to its President Emiliano Alonso, a Spanish citizen, who heads up a body marketing a substance banned in his home country to industrializing nations. See: Emiliano Alonso, President of the international asbestos lobby organisation, attacks European asbestos victims groups.
 

Victims Denounce Government Failures

Dec 29, 2020

A wide-ranging interview with Susana Tirado of the Association of People Affected by Asbestos in Aragon highlighted the widespread failure to comply with EU asbestos regulations in Spain which increased risks to people working in the asbestos removal sector as well as members of the public endangered through the illegal dumping of asbestos waste. The number of these criminal actions is growing because of the failure to prosecute offenders and the impotence of government agencies and authorities to take action. See: Entrevista a Susana Tirado Sancho de Asociación de Afectados por el Amianto en Aragón [Interview with Susana Tirado Sancho from the Association of People Affected by Asbestos in Aragon].
 

Asbestos Product Recall

Dec 29, 2020

On December 22, 2020, it was announced that Nitori, a Japanese home furnishing chain of stores, had recalled over 2 million items which could contain asbestos fibers. The nine affected products, which had been made in China, were bath mats and coasters. Asbestos use has been banned in Japan for a number of years and the sale of these products was illegal. It is not yet clear if the contamination was caused by intentional inclusion of fibers in the products. Customers who purchased the products were advised to return them to a Nitori store for a full refund, with or without the receipt. See: Japanese home furnishing chain issues massive recall for asbestos-heavy bath mats and coasters.
 

Asbestos Removal in Schools

Dec 29, 2020

On December 24, 2020, the Ulsan City Office of Education in Ulsan, South Korea announced that during the winter vacation replacement of asbestos ceilings would be undertaken in 11 schools. The schools where remediation work was scheduled included 3 elementary, 6 middle and 2 high schools. Briefing sessions for parents, students, and faculty had been held before the work was begun during which the state-of-the-art techniques which would be used were explained. See: 울산시교육청, 코로나19에도 차질없이 학교 석면천장 교체 [Ulsan City Office of Education replaces school's asbestos ceiling without disruption even with Covid-19].
 

Looming Deadline for Asbestos Updates

Dec 29, 2020

Although, the French government was late in taking action to protect workers and members of the public from asbestos, a February 2021 deadline was set in a French decree that came into force in 2012. Article 4 of the decree allowed nine years until additional asbestos identification and safety protocols would become mandatory. Asbestos audits of buildings which were undertaken before April 1, 2013 mut be updated by February 1, 2021 according to this article by French technical expert Caroline Theuil. See: Dans un mois vos dossiers technique amiante (DTA) doivent être en règle! [“In a month, your asbestos technical files (DTA) must be in order!”].
 

Asbestos Industry Propaganda

Dec 23, 2020

An article about asbestos which appeared on a Russian website discounted arguments about the harmful effects of exposures to chrysotile asbestos, saying that while exposures to other types of asbestos were hazardous, exposures to chrysotile were not dangerous as chrysotile fibers were dissolved in the lungs, thereby eliminating adverse effects. The text affirmed categorically that: “workers and consumers do not suffer from chrysotile,” and highlighted the ubiquity of chrysotile-containing products throughout Russia, stating that the use of chrysotile allowed “us to operate modern commercial, industrial and residential facilities.” See: Неизвестный асбест: мифы и правда вокруг “горного льна” [Unknown asbestos: myths and truth around “mountain flax”].
 

Mesothelioma Scheme: Update

Dec 23, 2020

The Government has announced plans to refinance Italy’s asbestos victims fund with a budget of €39 million for 2021 and, over time, increase the annual budget to €51m/year. As of January 1, 2021, payments to asbestos victims will be increased by 15%; mesothelioma claimants, including those who were exposed to asbestos occupationally, domestically or environmentally, will receive a lump sum payment of €10,000. All applications to this scheme must be submitted within three years of date of diagnosis. See: Fornaro: “15% in più di rendite alle vittime dell'amianto nella legge di bilancio” [Fornaro: “15% more annuities for asbestos victims in the budget law”].
 

Victim’s Verdict by Supreme Court

Dec 23, 2020

Adelaide man Mathew Werfel defeated an appeal at South Australia’s Supreme Court (SC) by James Hardie – Australia’s “Killer Company” – against a 2019 decision of the South Australian Employment Tribunal. The SC concurred that James Hardie had owed the claimant a duty of care as he had used their asbestos-containing products in house renovations between the late 1990s and early 2000s; the Court awarded him $2.23 million in compensation. The 44-year old claimant, who was diagnosed with mesothelioma in 2017, said he hoped the SC’s decision would force JH to undertake a campaign to raise awareness of the hazards posed by asbestos exposure. See: Asbestos victim with mesothelioma from home renovations beats James Hardie liability appeal.
 

Mesothelioma Treatment Research: UK

Dec 23, 2020

A 2020 report by the National Mesothelioma Audit – based on data from 2016 to 2018 – revealed that the Northumbria Healthcare NHS (NHCT) Foundation Trust performed poorly in histopathological confirmation of tissue samples, treatment rates and survival rates 12 months post initial diagnoses. An analysis of NHCT’s malignant pleural mesothelioma cases over a 10-year period showed a variability in practices and failures to comply with best practice recommendations. The report recommended that a regional mesothelioma multi-disciplinary team be established and that comprehensive data be collected to monitor its effectiveness. See: A review of malignant pleural mesothelioma in a large North East UK pleural centre.
 

Asbestos in Schools

Dec 23, 2020

Despite promises made in 2015 by the authorities in Alicante Province to remediate schools and educational institutes, nearly 40% remain contaminated with asbestos. According to official sources, work on schools has been delayed until the Summer to provide enough time for the remediation to be accomplished during a time when the schools are not in use. According to José María Hernández, a spokesperson representing one local community: “There are no longer any ‘excuses’ because… [people] are slowly and silently being poisoned by asbestos dust that is being released by environmental aging from the roofing plates and fibre cement pipes installed outdoors. It is a National Disgrace.” See: National Disgrace as removal of asbestos in 28 schools delayed to next summer.
 

Asbestos Removal Program

Dec 23, 2020

The Regional Council of Lazio, Italy has announced plans to remove asbestos from more than 200 public buildings with a budget of almost €20 million. Work will be carried out throughout the territory and include the remediation of 170 school buildings and 26 hospitals in Rome, Alatri, Monte Romano, Morlupo, Roviano, Tivoli, Fiumiciono and elsewhere. The eradication program is a result of surveys undertaken by the Regional Health Department and the Infrastructure and Mobility Department supported by technical expertise provided by the Regional Asbestos Center. See: Amianto: dalla Regione 19 milioni per rimuoverlo da scuole ed ospedali [Asbestos: 19 million from the Region to remove it from schools and hospitals].
 

Asbestos Lobby Offensive

Dec 21, 2020

The International Chrysotile Association (ICA) – a trade association promoting sales of chrysotile (white) asbestos to industrializing countries – has hit back at European asbestos victims’ groups with a scathing editorial on the ICA website (dated December 14, 2020), in which groups from the UK, Belgium, France and Italy are accused of “aggressive attacks against the ICA” for daring to point out the hypocrisy of a citizen from an EU country – Emiliano Alonso, a Spanish lawyer who is also the ICA President – promoting sales of a substance banned at home to industrializing countries. See: Emiliano Alonso, President of the international asbestos lobby organisation, attacks European asbestos victims groups.
 

Activist Condemns Brazil Exports

Dec 21, 2020

As asbestos mining recommenced in Brazil in late 2020 – despite a 2017 Supreme Court banning all production and sale – a Brazilian article explored the repercussions of asbestos exports from Brazil to India. During an interview with Pooja Gupta, coordinator of the Indian Ban Asbestos Network, Ms. Gupta said: “Eternit has always known that the asbestos it sells is dangerous and yet it has chosen to do business regardless. They saw what happened in Belgium and how people are still dying from asbestos. They value profit more than people and that is the most inhumane thing that anyone can do.” See: Ativista condena exportação do amianto no Brasil: “A vida dos indianos vale menos” [Activist condemns export of asbestos in Brazil: “The life of the Indians is worth less”].
 

Union Action on Asbestos

Dec 21, 2020

A labor federation from the Philippines – the Associated Labor Unions-Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (ALU-TUCP) – publicly questioned whether a new $123 million project announced by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) in the capital will, as per ADB guidelines, be constructed free from asbestos-containing material. In a press release issued last week, Gerard Seno, National Executive Vice President of the ALU-TUCP, reminded the ADB of its commitment to zero asbestos and asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) “in all its funded projects beginning with this EDSA Greenways Project.” See: ADB reminded on asbestos-free vow.
 

Government Apology for Asbestos Crimes

Dec 21, 2020

Norihisa Tamura, Japan’s Minister of Health, Labor and Welfare, held a press conference after a Cabinet meeting on December 18th during which a recent decision by the Supreme Court was discussed. The Court had issued a ruling on behalf of asbestos-exposed construction workers which recognized the responsibility of the Government for neglecting to prevent toxic exposures at work. The Minister apologized, saying: “I feel responsible and deeply apologize to the plaintiffs.” This week he will meet representatives of the claimants to apologize to them in person. See: 建設石綿訴訟で厚労相謝罪 国責任の司法判断確定 [Minister of Health, Labor and Welfare apologizes for construction asbestos proceedings].
 

Toxic Ships, Deadly Practices

Dec 21, 2020

The health consequences of working in Bangladesh’s ship-breaking yards scrapping foreign ships full of contaminants like asbestos are discussed in an article which featured the case of a 45-year-old worker Mazidul Haque who had been diagnosed with asbestosis after working at the shipbreaking yards in Chattogram for most of his adult life. Having never received training to work at the yards, he had no knowledge of the risks he was taking. He had never been provided with equipment or clothing to prevent the inhalation of asbestos fibers and had never been warned about the hazard. A typical merchant vessel could contain around 10 tonnes of asbestos-containing material. See: Toxic ships sail in on false papers.
 

Supporting All Asbestos Victims

Dec 21, 2020

Calls have been made for the extension of an Italian fund – established in 2015 – which provided financial assistance of €5,600 (US$6,860) to mesothelioma sufferers whose toxic exposures to asbestos were non-occupational. The number of people needing this support is substantial: according to mesothelioma data from Emilia Romagna, over the last 10 years there were an average of 148 mesothelioma cases per year, of which 30% were due to non-occupational exposures. The scheme which awarded this benefit is due to close on December 31, 2020. See: Amianto, tutelare tutti i malati di mesotelioma [Asbestos, protect all mesothelioma patients].
 

Ditching “Asbestos” for a Safer Future

Dec 18, 2020

This week, Quebec’s Municipal Affairs Minister Andrée Laforest approved the rebranding of a former mining town; previously called “Asbestos” it will now be known as Val-des-Sources (Valley of the Springs), a name chosen by 51.5% of local voters in an election held in October. Although, the name change takes effect immediately, the process of changing signage on building and vehicles will begin in the new year. The Minister’s decision is final and a petition to rethink the election process was dismissed. Inhabitants of the town will be known as Valsourciens and Valsourciennes. See: Say goodbye Asbestos and hello to Val-des-Sources as Quebec okays name change.
 

Asbestos Anxiety: Breakthroughs

Dec 18, 2020

In separate court decisions handed down on December 17, 2020, 66 former employees from the Paris Mint and 246 workers from the Baccarat crystal factory in Meurthe-et-Moselle were awarded compensation of €10,000+ and €8,100 for asbestos anxiety by the Bordeaux Court of Appeal and the Court of Cassation (Supreme Court), respectively. The verdicts are the culmination of years of legal struggle by asbestos-exposed workers and their legal teams. See: Amiante: les salariés de la Monnaie de Paris obtiennent réparation auprès de la cour d’appel de Bordeaux [Asbestos: Paris Mint employees obtain compensation from the Bordeaux Court of Appeal].
 

Supreme Court Verdict!

Dec 18, 2020

On December 14, 2020, Japan’s Supreme Court issued a plaintiffs’ verdict – which dismissed an appeal brought by the Government; the Court ordered the Japanese Government to pay compensation of US$22 million to 350 asbestos-injured construction workers – or surviving family members – from Tokyo, Saitama and elsewhere, as per a 2018 order by the Tokyo High Court. The ruling, which acknowledged the Government’s responsibility for the illnesses of both employed and self-employed workers, was the first to hold the Government responsible for asbestos injuries to construction workers. The Court found that the Government had not acted in a timely manner to prevent toxic asbestos exposures. See: Court finalizes state payment to asbestos victims.
 

No Asbestos in Schools

Dec 18, 2020

The Seoul Institute of Health and Environment (SIHE) and the Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education have agreed to create a safe school environment free from asbestos contamination. During school vacations, SIHE operatives will conduct surveys to measure the concentration of asbestos in the indoor air of kindergartens, elementary, middle, and high schools where asbestos demolition and removal work had been completed to verify that the schools were fit for use. State-of-the-art equipment will be used for the analysis and testing, including transmission and scanning electron microscopes. See: 서울시보건환경연구원-시교육청 협력해 학교 석면 안전관리 강화 [Strengthening safety management of school asbestos in cooperation with SIHE and City Office of Education].
 

Cancer Causation and Asbestos

Dec 18, 2020

Research undertaken over the last five years by a team of scientists from Turkey, Japan and the US has established that people with the gene mutation named “BLM +/-” had a higher risk of developing mesothelioma, the signature cancer associated with asbestos exposure. This discovery could, said the researchers, be fundamental in developing new protocols for early diagnoses and improved treatments for this pleural cancer. Individuals at high-risk of contracting the cancer once identified could be better protected and monitored. See: Asbest kaynaklı akciğer zarı kanserine neden olan gen bulundu [Gene that causes asbestos-induced lung cancer].
 

Punishing Asbestos Crime

Dec 15, 2020

Justice Nicola Pain of the Land and Environment Court found that a New South Wales (NSW) company called Earthmovers Pty Ltd. lied about the disposal in 2016 of 1,400 tonnes of asbestos-contaminated soil from a Sydney building site and supplied false and misleading documentation claiming that it had been lawfully disposed of. The prosecution had been brought by the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA). Justice Pain fined the company $450,000 for the two offences and ordered it to pay the EPA’s legal costs. Commenting on the verdict, EPA director Greg Sheehy said: “crimes by rogue operators defraud honest companies, damage the environment and can harm human health.” See: Hefty fine in Aussie earthmovers asbestos documents case.
 

Asbestos: An Environmental Hazard

Dec 15, 2020

Local people throughout Spain are taking unilateral action to identify toxic sites where asbestos debris has been illegally dumped in light of failures by municipal authorities to address the situation. Scores of uncontrolled landfills and toxic sites were located in the Valencia region. As a result of the lobbying efforts of campaigners, on December 1 the city council in Picassent announced plans to remove 140 tons of toxic waste from multiple sites and to implement a surveillance scheme to prevent fly-tipping of asbestos and other dangerous waste. See: Convivir con escombros y restos de amianto: la revuelta ciudadana contra los vertederos ilegales [Living with rubble and asbestos waste: the citizen revolt against illegal landfills].
 

Lawsuit for Construction Workers

Dec 15, 2020

On December 3, 2020, the first arguments were held in the Sendai District Court in a legal action on behalf of ten former workers or their bereaved family members regarding asbestos-related deaths caused by occupational exposures at construction sites in Japan. The claimants are seeking total damages of 269.5 million yen ($US 2.6m) from the Japanese government and 12 manufacturers of building materials. See: 国、建材メーカー争う姿勢 東北アスベスト訴訟初弁論 [National government and building material manufacturers contest asbestos claims, first arguments].
 

Asbestos Mining Hazard

Dec 15, 2020

An expert in Perth, Western Australia (WA) has condemned the stupidity of holidaymakers who travel to one of the world’s most toxic towns to take photos for Instagram. Wittenoom, WA is a former crocidolite (blue) asbestos mining town; due to the residual toxicity of the area, the town has been “disappeared,” with most properties being taken out of private hands by the WA government. According to Melita Markey of the National Centre of Asbestos Related Diseases and the Asbestos Diseases Society of Australia: “There’s a lot of asbestos in Wittenoom and it has very strong winds blowing around you… Also, it's blue asbestos and the research shows us that's the most deadly and most carcinogenic.” See: Ignorant influencers slammed for risking their lives to holiday in asbestos-riddled Wittenoom.
 

A Special Anniversary

Dec 15, 2020

The 20th anniversary of the founding of the ABEVA asbestos victims’ group in Belgium was marked by the uploading of a celebratory issue of the Group’s newsletter. Plans to hold a celebration of the event were put on hold due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The Belgian Asbestos Victims’ Association – L’association Belge des Victimes de l’Amiante (ABEVA) – was founded in 2000 by the Vandenbroucke and Jonckheere families, both of which had lost loved ones to the asbestos cancer, mesothelioma. Belgium (see: Asbestos Profile), as the home country of the global asbestos giant Eternit, has one of the world’s highest incidences in the world of asbestos-related mortality For the newsletter see: ABEVA website.
 

Asbestos in Schools

Dec 14, 2020

Funds totalling €4.3 million (US$5.2m) from the European Union have been allocated to remove asbestos from 31 schools in the Algarve, Portugal’s southernmost region, according to an announcement made by the Regional Development Commission. Local authorities have until December 31 to apply for asbestos removal grants. The first successful application for financial support under this scheme came from the City of São Brás de Alportel in the District of Faro. See: ‘Bye bye asbestos’: Funding finally on way to remove asbestos from Algarve schools.
 

Madrid Makes Asbestos a Priority

Dec 14, 2020

On December 3, 2020, Rafael Gómez Montoya – the spokesperson on Environment for the Socialist Parliamentary Group in the Madrid Assembly – presented an initiative to a plenary session of the Assembly calling for the mandatory eradication of asbestos from the region. “Although the use of asbestos was banned in 2002,” he said, “it is still present in cinemas, theatres, schools, hospitals…. Therefore, the plan must establish criteria to assess the useful life of this material and its dangers in each of the facilities.” A multi-step program was needed, Montoya said, the first step of which was to conduct an asbestos census to quantify the scope and severity of the problem. See: El PSOE a favor de la eliminación segura del Amianto [The PSOE in favor of the safe elimination of asbestos].
 

Asbestos Cancer Care: Update

Dec 14, 2020

News that specialist nurses have been appointed to treat asbestos cancer patients in two UK asbestos hotspots has been warmly welcomed. Angela Goldfinch and Simon Bolton will provide advice, care and support for mesothelioma patients at Broomfield Hospital under the Mid and South Essex NHS Foundation Trust, and multiple hospitals serving communities in North and West Yorkshire, respectively. The new roles are funded by Mesothelioma UK – a national specialist resource centre, specifically for the asbestos-related cancer, mesothelioma – in partnership with charity organizations and selected law firms. See: Asbestos-related cancer nurses appointed for opposite ends of country.
 

Good News, Bad News

Dec 14, 2020

Despite the dismissal of criminal proceedings against executives of the Italian company Officine Grandi Riparazioni (OGR) – Large [Railway] Repair Workshops – who had been charged with negligence which resulted in the asbestos-related deaths of workers at the Bologna OGR facility, civil compensation claims are still proceeding, according to legal experts working for asbestos claimants. See: OGR Bologna: Le cause per danni da amianto in sede civile sono possibili e rafforzate nonostante la sentenza di archiviazione del procedimento penale [OGR Bologna: Lawsuits for asbestos damage in civil courts are possible and reinforced despite the dismissal of the criminal proceedings].
 

Asbestos in Schools

Dec 14, 2020

Despite efforts to remediate schools in the South Korean city of Anyang, in Gyeonggi Province, asbestos contamination remains in the majority of elementary, middle and high schools. Removal work at the city’s schools has been ongoing since 2017 with funding from the Provincial Office of Education; budgets for this program were as follows: (~US$3.7 million) 4 billion won (bw) in 2017, 4.1 bw in 2018, 3 bw in 2019 and 1.2 bw in 2020. The deadline set by the Provincial Office of Education for the completion of the asbestos decontamination program is 2027. See: 안양지역 각급 학교 석면제거율 38%…“조속 처리”vs“점진 처리” [38% of asbestos removed at schools in Anyang area... “Rapid processing” vs. “Progressive processing”].
 

Corporate Reinvention or Flim-Flam

Dec 9, 2020

In an interview with Luís Augusto Barbosa, CEO of Brazil’s former asbestos giant Eternit SA, Barbosa explained that the turnaround in Eternit’s fortunes was due to its abandonment of “notorious asbestos” in favor of photovoltaic tile technology. “It was the decision to abolish asbestos in 2017,” said Barbosa “which led us to judicial recovery.” Confirming the hazard posed by asbestos exposures to workers on assembly lines, Barbosa maintained that use of asbestos products was harmless. He did not address the health hazard posed to employees at the company’s asbestos mine in Minaçu. See: Do amianto à energia solar, redenção da Eternit (ETER3) faz ação saltar mais de 300% em 2020 [From asbestos to solar energy, Eternit's redemption (ETER3) makes activity jump by more than 300% in 2020].
 

Calls for Asbestos Action

Dec 9, 2020

The mobilization of Spanish civil society groups backing calls for a national asbestos program to address the increasing asbestos mortality rate is growing. The National Federation of Associations of Respiratory Patients and members of other patient groups, scientific societies and trade unions are campaigning for the creation of a Comprehensive Asbestos Law to address the multifaceted challenges posed by the country’s legacy of widespread asbestos use throughout the 20th century. The campaign’s Manifesto highlights the need for early detection of asbestos-related diseases and investment in medical research. See: Ley para una erradicación segura del Amianto [Law for the safe eradication of asbestos].
 

University Asbestos Denials

Dec 9, 2020

The University of Montreal (UdeM) maintains that it is not responsible for the asbestos-related illnesses and deaths of members of staff, despite findings of culpability by The Commission for Standards, Equity, Health and Safety at Work (CNESST) – the body responsible for the application of labor laws in Quebec. Yves Charland, a UdeM computer scientist, died in November 2019 from the signature asbestos cancer, mesothelioma. UdeM condemned CNESST’s finding that his death was linked to workplace asbestos exposures, saying the decision was “ill-founded in fact and in law.” The University is appealing this and other adverse rulings against it. See: L’UdeM demande la révision de décisions de la CNESST [UdeM calls for review of CNESST decisions].
 

Asbestos in Schools

Dec 9, 2020

The health of secondary students attending college in the town of Ain Merane, in the West of Algeria, is at daily risk due to asbestos contamination of the prefabricated buildings in which they spend their days. Teachers and administrative staff are also at risk from the presence of deteriorating toxic building products in schools which were erected in the 1980s. Parents and teaching staff have lobbied local and regional officials about the dangerous conditions to no avail, despite multiple promises that schools would be rebuilt. See: Les collégiens sous la menace de l’amiante [College students under the threat of asbestos].
 

Confronting Spain’s Asbestos Legacy

Dec 9, 2020

A 7-minute video which can be viewed on Facebook via the link provided below is a recording of a presentation made by Spanish politician Jota Canadas to a Parliamentary Group of the Madrid Assembly. In his talk, Canadas addressed the widespread and unregulated use of asbestos throughout Spain prior to the ban introduced in 2002 and outlined the ongoing hazards posed by the presence of toxic material throughout the country’s infrastructure. He called on the government of Madrid to prioritize the removal of asbestos on the grounds of public and occupational safety. See: Video of speech by Jota Canadas to Madrid Assembly.
 

Asbestos Alert: Video

Dec 9, 2020

A short video in the Georgian language – with English captions – uploaded to YouTube at the end of last month (November 2020) highlighted the hazards posed to consumers and workers in Georgia by using products containing asbestos. Fifteen percent of building products and 60% of brake pads used in Georgia contain asbestos. This exercise in raising awareness of the asbestos hazard was a collaboration of civil society partners in Georgia, including Open Society Georgia, Partnership For Road Safety Georgia, the Eastern Alliance for Safety & Sustainable Transport, and others. See: ვიდეო რგოლი აზბესტის საფრთხეების შესახებ [Video clip about the dangers of asbestos].
 

Supporting the Asbestos-Exposed

Dec 7, 2020

An asbestos outreach phone clinic was held in the Japanese city of Nagoya on December 5, 2020 for people who had worked at asbestos factories or in the construction industry and members of their families. On hand to answer questions were legal and medical professionals. The Japanese Government was relatively slow in restricting and banning the use of asbestos compared to other industrialized countries, having prohibited the use of amosite (brown) and crocidolite (blue) asbestos as recently as 1995 and achieving a total ban on all asbestos by 2012. See: アスベスト被害の無料電話相談会 5日、東海弁護団 [Free telephone counseling for asbestos damage, December 5, 2020].
 

Asbestos in Schools

Dec 8, 2020

A statement by a Ministry of the Portuguese Government has announced the extension of the deadline for submissions to be made for financial support for the removal of asbestos from the country’s schools. Applications made, to date, will incur the expenditure of more than €75 million for the asbestos remediation of 460 schools (~74% of all the schools) in 130 cities. The financing of the work is guaranteed by European funds for regional programs. The new deadline for submissions is December 30, 2030. See: Programa para retirada de amianto em escolas prolonga candidaturas [Asbestos removal program in schools extends deadline for applications].
 

Addressing Italy’s Asbestos Legacy

Dec 8, 2020

A feature length article examined options for decontaminating the Italian infrastructure and environment within a broader discussion of the country’s historic mining and usage of asbestos and asbestos-containing products. During much of the 20th century, Italy was Europe’s second largest asbestos supplier and consumer after the Soviet Union. On average 6,000 people die every year from asbestos-related diseases and toxic exposures continue even though asbestos was banned in 1992. The author of this text asserted that asbestos remediation tax credits were the only feasible solution to the country’s asbestos problem. See: Credito d’imposta, unica via per una reale bonifica dell’amianto [Tax credit, the only way for a real asbestos remediation].
 

Asbestos Dump: NIMBY

Dec 8, 2020

Plans announced in November by the Region of West Macedonia to create a solution to the region’s asbestos disposal problem over the next 25 years by setting up an asbestos landfill in Kozani – the site of Greece’s former asbestos mine – have been criticized on multiple grounds, including environmental repercussions and potential hazards posed by earthquakes. The author of the article cited below concluded his analysis as follows: “there are clearly more technically, economically and environmentally suitable solutions for the landfill at the level of the country and the region of Western Macedonia.” See: Περιβαλλοντική Υδρογεωλογία και ΧΥΤΑΜ στα ΜΑΒΕ ΑΕ στο Ζιδάνι Κοζάνης [Environmental Hydrogeology and landfill at MAVE SA in Zidani, Kozani].
 

UK Asbestos Resource: Update

Dec 8, 2020

Strathclyde University, a public research university in Glasgow, has become the repository of several unique asbestos archives including collections from: the world’s first asbestos victims’ campaigner Nancy Tait; the Cancer Prevention Society; environmental activist Alan Dalton; investigative journalist Laurie Flynn and corporate records from the UK’s asbestos giant Turner & Newall plc which were disclosed during litigation brought by the Chase Manhattan Bank. In a recently uploaded essay, Strathclyde Masters student Michael Canning highlighted “the presence of the voices of the victims of asbestos-related disease…” in the collection. See: Archives and Special Collections: Asbestos.
 

Another Asbestos Death

Dec 8, 2020

The mesothelioma death on November 29, 2020 of 77- year old Giacomo De Lazzari is being investigated by the public prosecutor in Venice who has opened a case for manslaughter against unknown persons. From 1982 until 2005 Mr. De Lazzari had worked as a foreman for a sub-contractor at the Porto Marghera Petrochemical plant. Many of his colleagues – who had also contracted the signature asbestos cancer, mesothelioma – predeceased him. See: Amianto, la procura apre un fascicolo sulla morte di un ex operaio del Petrolchimico [Asbestos, the prosecutor opens a file on the death of a former Petrochemical worker].
 

Asbestos Propaganda

Dec 3, 2020

Asbestos industry propaganda, masquerading as a news article, has been uploaded to a Ukrainian website. It is noteworthy to point out that the 2017 ban on asbestos mandated by Ukraine’s Ministry of Health was overturned in 2019 on a procedural technicality. The text of the article rehashed key low points of the asbestos lobby’s arguments saying that: chrysotile asbestos (the type mined in Russia), is harmless to human health; chrysotile fibers are safely dissolved in the lungs; the campaign to ban asbestos is a profit-driven exercise sponsored by the manufacturers of non-asbestos products. See: Опасность асбеста: влияние асбеста на здоровье человека [Dangers of Asbestos: Effects of Asbestos on Human Health].
 

Asbestos Safety Legislation

Dec 3, 2020

As of November 10, 2020, South Africa’s Asbestos Abatement Regulations – adopted under the auspices of the Department of Employment and Labour and launched on November 27 – mandated that employers were obliged to provide a safe and risk-free environment for workers. Although the use of asbestos is banned in South Africa, asbestos-containing material remains within the country’s infrastructure. The new rules mean that employers must identify and manage all asbestos-containing products in the workplace and take precautions to protect not only their employees but also others such as subcontractors and members of the public from toxic exposures created by the operations of the company. See: New regulations push South Africa towards an asbestos-free environment.
 

New Resource for Scottish Patients

Dec 3, 2020

A new online resource has been launched this week by the Scottish Mesothelioma Network (Network) for victims of asbestos-related cancers, an initiative that aims to improve outcomes and quality of life for Scottish mesothelioma patients. Due to its industrial legacy of widespread asbestos use in shipyards, factories and other workplaces, the rates of asbestos cancer in Scotland are amongst the highest in the world. The Network’s new website provides a range of information on disease, treatment options, specialist centers, patient pathways and reputable online sources of information. It also lists various routes to accessing compensation and provides details of asbestos victims’ support groups in Scotland. See: The Scottish Mesothelioma Network.
 

Precedent for Canberra Asbestos Victims

Dec 3, 2020

Fifty-four year old mesothelioma sufferer James Wallner was awarded more than $250,000 by the Government of the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) to cover medical costs for treatment of cancer he contracted due to childhood exposure to asbestos insulation. This is the first payment by any Australian government for illness contracted through exposure to “Mr Fluffy” loose-fill asbestos insulation. According to ACT’s Chief Minister Andrew Barr an investigation into the feasibility of a scheme for future victims was underway but, in the meantime, this “act of grace” payment had been made. See: Canberra man who contracted mesothelioma after exposure to Mr Fluffy asbestos awarded $250k from ACT Government.
 

Asbestos Eradication in Catalonia

Dec 3, 2020

A public consultation on a bill to eradicate asbestos material to protect public and occupational health was launched by the Government of Catalonia on November 25, 2020; submissions must be received by January 25, 2021. The objective of this exercise is to gauge the views of a variety of civil society stakeholders on the aims, proposed measures and timescales for eliminating the asbestos hazard from the autonomous community of Catalonia in the northeast of Spain. Although asbestos use was banned in Spain in 2002, more than 2.5+ million tonnes of asbestos were used throughout the country, much of which remains in products still in place today. See: Anteproyecto de ley de erradicación del Amianto [Asbestos eradication bill].
 

Armley’s Deadly Legacy

Dec 3, 2020

Decades after the Armley asbestos factory ceased operations in Canal Street, environmental contamination remained in homes and buildings in the streets near the old J. W. Roberts factory. A report by an independent charity confirmed the extent of the problem in Armley, finding that 90% of homes tested were still contaminated with blue (crocidolite) asbestos. It is little wonder that Armley had been dubbed “the UK’s deadliest district.” “There is a decontamination procedure,” the report noted “but this costs £7,500 per house, which most residents cannot afford.” See: The asbestos disaster of Armley and the looming fear of death.
 

Toxic Talc

Nov 30, 2020

An analysis of 21 samples of cosmetics in powder, liquid and cream forms – including eye shadow, foundation, blush, face and body powders – which was commissioned by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) revealed that ~15% were contaminated with asbestos. Commenting on these disturbing findings, EWG Senior Vice President for Government Affairs Scott Farber said: “While consumers should be alarmed and outraged, it’s hardly a surprise, considering the federal law regulating the cosmetics industry has not been updated since 1938.” More than 2,000 personal care products sold in the US contain talc, 1,000 are loose or pressed powders which pose an elevated risk of inhalation. See: Analysis: Talc-Based Cosmetics Test Positive for Asbestos.
 

Mesothelioma Scheme: Update

Nov 30, 2020

The 24-page annual review of the UK Government’s Diffuse Mesothelioma Payment Scheme (DMPS) for 2019 to 2020 was published last week by the Department of Work & Pensions. Since the scheme launched in 2014, 1,500 mesothelioma sufferers have received compensation of £205.2 million. This past year, the average payment to applicants was £144,000, a decrease of £4,000 on the previous year. The DMPS provides compensation to mesothelioma sufferers who were negligently exposed to asbestos at work but were unable to obtain compensation from their former employer or their former employer’s insurer. See: Diffuse Mesothelioma Payment Scheme: annual review 2019 to 2020.
 

Asbestos Trial in Milan

Nov 30, 2020

On November 27, 2020 Maurizio Ascione, the Public Prosecutor trying a case against executives alleged to have caused the deaths from asbestos-related diseases of La Scala Opera House staff, asked that the four defendants be given prison sentences ranging from 2½ to 7 years. The longest sentence, Ascione said, should be given to Giovanni Traina, who was the theater’s external health and safety consultant. During a preliminary hearing charges against four former Mayors of Milan had been dropped. See: Amianto alla Scala, condannate i manager [Asbestos at La Scala, condemn the managers].
 

Toxic Give-Aways by Local Council

Nov 30, 2020

On November 27, 2020, Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare announced that gifts distributed by Kaizuka City, Osaka Prefecture to taxpayers was contaminated with asbestos. The bath mats and coasters were made from diatomaceous earth – a naturally occurring, soft, siliceous sedimentary rock that is crumbled into a fine white to off-white powder. The products were marketed under the brand name “Caraco” and were made by the Horiki Kosakusho company in Kaizuka City; they were found to contain up to 0.61% asbestos. See: 返礼品にアスベスト含有、製造元が回収 大阪・貝塚市ふるさと納税 [Asbestos containing goods, distributed by Kaizuka City in return for local tax payment to be collected by the manufacturer].
 

Asbestos Removal Program: Update

Nov 26, 2020

An asbestos removal program sponsored by the government of Nakuru County – the fourth most populous county in Kenya – is progressing efforts to remove asbestos roofing materials from thousands of domestic properties to protect public health; scheduled works aim to complete the decontamination by the end of 2021.The National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) classifies asbestos as a “poisonous” substance; NEMA ordered all the asbestos material on government facilities to be replaced. According to Nakura’s Governor Lee Kinyanjui: “Asbestos [roofs] have been proven to be dangerous and we are working round the clock to replace them by next year, from all the institutions and estates.” See: County replaces asbestos roofs with iron sheets.
 

Remediation of Toxic Trains

Nov 26, 2020

According to Comboios de Portugal (CP), the company which purchased 51 asbestos-contaminated railway carriages from the Spanish company Renfe for 1.65 million euros, decontamination work on 36 of the carriages has now been completed a few days ahead of schedule. Remodelling work is now underway on 3 of the carriages at the CP workshop in Guifões, Matosinhos. The plan is for the rolling stock to be in circulation on the Viana do Castelo-Valença railway line at the end of 2022. See: CP conclui remoção de amianto de carruagens compradas a Espanha [CP concludes asbestos removal from carriages purchased from Spain].
 

Research Center Opens in Sheffield

Nov 26, 2020

This week the Mesothelioma UK Research Center-Sheffield – for investigating new protocols and treatments for people suffering from the signature asbestos cancer mesothelioma – opened at Sheffield University (see: Launch of mesothelioma research centre). According to the Center’s co-director Professor Angela Mary Tod, the ultimate goal of the Center is to find a cure for the aggressive and deadly cancer which kills 2,500+ people in Britain every year. The Center, the first of its kind in the UK dedicated to patient experience-based and supportive care mesothelioma research, is sponsored by national charity Mesothelioma UK. According to its Head of Services Liz Darlison MBE, the opening of the Center was the culmination of years of work. See: Mesothelioma lung cancer centre set for Sheffield.
 

Milan Asbestos Trial

Nov 26, 2020

Legal proceedings brought on behalf of 10 workers from La Scala Opera House are coming to an end in a Milan courtroom. In the dock are four defendants accused of negligence in allowing asbestos exposures of the workers to occur. On November 20, 2020, the final two witnesses for the defence argued that the exposures which caused the workers to contract asbestos-related diseases had taken place outside the Opera House at other workplaces or via an environmental vector such as living in the town of Casale Monferrato, home to Italy’s largest asbestos-cement factory. See: Milano: alle battute finali il processo per i lavoratori morti di amianto alla Scala [Milan: the trial for dead asbestos workers at La Scala is in the final stages].
 

Asbestos Riddle in Mining State

Nov 26, 2020

Despite the existence of a national asbestos ban as per a 2017 verdict of the Brazilian Supreme Court (STF), it was announced on November 17, 2020 that production of chrysotile (white) asbestos would recommence at the SAMA asbestos mine in Minaçu City, Goiás State under state law No. 20,514 adopted by the Goiás Legislative Assembly. Objections to the law’s unconstitutionality have been lodged with the STF. The Attorney General for Goiás State said that all the asbestos mined would be exported. See: Amianto em Goiás: entenda a disputa jurídica [Asbestos in Goiás: understand the legal dispute].
 

Online Premiere of Asbestos Drama

Nov 26, 2020

A filmed version of an award-winning play by Francis Poet entitled Fibres, about the life of a former Scottish shipyard worker who is suffering from asbestosis, will be premiering online at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, November 25. The play – a co-production of Stellar Quines Theatre Company and the Citizens Theatre, Glasgow – toured Scotland in 2019. The protagonist Jack had been occupationally exposed to asbestos at the Clyde shipyard; his wife Beanie had washed the contaminated clothing he brought home. Viewers are requested to book in advance for free tickets and, where possible, consider making a donation. See: Fibres.
 

Asbestos Memorial Service in Perth

Nov 24, 2020

Asbestos victims’ groups, charities, civil society organizations and government agencies mark Asbestos Awareness Month every November. The Asbestos Diseases Society of Australia (ADSA) – based in Perth, Western Australia – will be holding its annual Ecumenical Service on the morning of November 27 “in remembrance of those who have died from asbestos diseases.” This service provides an opportunity for members of the ADSA community and the medical, legal and healthcare professionals who support them to join together in reflection about the lives which have been lost due to Australia’s asbestos epidemic. If you cannot support them in person, a donation would be very welcome. See: Asbestos Diseases Society of Australia.
 

The Asbestos Hazard in Colombia

Nov 24, 2020

On November 18, 2020, a 20 minute upload to YouTube highlighted the ongoing hazard posed by asbestos-containing products in Colombia, a country which banned the use of asbestos in 2019. Footage illustrating the ubiquity of asbestos-cement (ac) products showed ac roofing, pipes and other building materials. Scenes of workmen breaking, manipulating and waterblasting this material highlighted the lack of any awareness of the toxicity of the products being handled. The resource was created by the Colombia Asbestos Free Foundation in collaboration with Australia’s Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency and other partnering organizations. See: Asbesto Audiovisual [Audiovisual Asbestos].
 

Raising Asbestos Awareness

Nov 24, 2020

Efforts continue in Vietnam to address low levels of asbestos awareness via outreach projects and information sessions such as one held on November 20 in Bac Kan province, in the northeast of the country. The event was organized by the Institute of Natural Resources, Environment and Community Development in coordination with the Committee for Ethnic Minorities of Bac Kan province; it was entitled: Include Chrysotile [Asbestos] on the List of Hazardous Waste Materials and Require Warning Labels on Asbestos-containing Products. Having delineated the ubiquity and toxicity of asbestos-containing material, speakers proposed that delegates be proactive in preventing toxic exposures and not use or reuse any asbestos material. See: Đưa Amiăng trắng vào danh sách chất độc hại [Put chrysotile on the list of toxic substances].
 

Medical Program for Asbestos Victims

Nov 24, 2020

On November 18, 2020, 17 asbestos-exposed workers constituted the first cohort in a new healthcare outreach program in the Brazilian city of Piracicaba. The workers underwent free clinical evaluations and imaging tests after being briefed by staff about the protocols to be followed. According to one of the organizers, the purpose of the initiative was “to ensure comprehensive health care, enable mutual knowledge between the parties and create bonds that facilitated the continuity of treatment and mutual cooperation between patients, families and the community.” See: Trabalhadores expostos ao amianto de 5 cidades da região de Piracicaba começam a receber atendimento de saúde [Workers exposed to asbestos in 5 cities in the Piracicaba region start receiving health care].
 

Asbestos and Urban Development

Nov 24, 2020

The need to safely dispose of asbestos waste produced during development work was highlighted last week in a press release by the workers' group Associated Labor Unions-Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (ALU-TUCP) which urged the SM Development Corporation to take care in its handling of asbestos stripped from a multi-story iconic structure in Manila called the Philamlife building. The ALU-TUCP document was the basis of an article published on November 23, 2020. The toxic Philamlife asbestos waste – containing a large amount of ceiling boards and wall insulation – was produced during months of renovation work and is currently stored in the building. See: Dispose Philamlife cancerous asbestos now!
 

Johnson & Johnson $120 Million Payout

Nov 24, 2020

On November 18, 2020, New York State Supreme Court Judge Gerald Lebovits upheld a jury’s 2019 finding that Johnson & Johnson was liable for the asbestos cancer contracted by 67-year old mesothelioma sufferer Donna Olson who had routinely used the company’s talc-based baby powder as part of her daily hygiene routine. The Judge, however, lowered the damages awarded by the jury to the Brooklyn woman and her husband from $325 million to $120m which included $15m of compensatory and $105m of punitive damages. See: Johnson & Johnson ordered to pay $120 million as damages in New York baby powder case.
 

Judicial Action on Stalled Case

Nov 23, 2020

Australian mesothelioma sufferer Dr Warwick Harper believes that his cancer was caused by exposure to asbestos in tunnels under the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Sydney in 1972-74. In January, 2020 he initiated a compensation claim against Sydney Local Health District in the New South Wales Dust Diseases Tribunal. In a preliminary judgment on November 19, Judge David Russell, accepting that mediation had failed, ruled the case should be removed from the resolution process and be managed by a tribunal judge. Highlighting the urgency of the case, the Judge said: “It is of course essential that the plaintiff's claim be settled or completed in his lifetime, as he will lose his claim for future loss of earning capacity if he passes away before the proceedings are concluded.” See: Sydney doctor sues over ‘tunnel asbestos’.
 

Victims’ Victory in Missouri!

Nov 23, 2020

The Missouri Supreme Court has rejected legal efforts by Johnson & Johnson to overturn a state appellate court’s opinion and has upheld a $2.11 billion verdict against the company for punitive and compensatory damages to 20 plaintiffs with ovarian cancer caused by their use of the company’s talc-based baby powder. In June 2020 the Court of Appeals for the Eastern District of Missouri had unanimously upheld a trial jury’s finding that J&J had engaged in “reprehensible conduct” by manufacturing and selling asbestos-containing talcum powder products over many decades. See: Missouri supreme court denies review of $2.11 billion talc-ovarian cancer ruling.
 

Asbestos Waste Dump

Nov 23, 2020

A regional plan, 28 years in the making, to dispose of asbestos waste by dumping it in redundant mines in Sicily has been condemned by local politicians with comments such as: “The Region remembers the Enna area only when it comes to making it become the garbage dump of Sicily.” According to the plan, the toxic debris would be deposited in already polluted quarries in Caltanissetta, Catania and other cities. Local opposition is building as civil society groups coalesce to fight the proposal. See: Sicilia, comuni in rivolta per lo smaltimento di amianto nelle miniere mai bonificate: “Non siamo la discarica della Regione” [Sicily, municipalities in revolt over the disposal of asbestos in mines never reclaimed: “We are not the landfill of the Region”].
 

Madrid Metro Liable for Asbestos Death

Nov 23, 2020

At the 11th hour, Madrid Metro – the company that operates the mass transit system of the Spanish capital – acknowledged liability for the 2018 death of a 57-year old worker who had contracted the cancer pleural mesothelioma from hazardous occupational exposures to asbestos. The company’s change of mind came as legal proceedings were scheduled to begin on November 18. The trade union representing the workforce hoped that the company would continue to accept its responsibility for other workers who had gotten ill or died from asbestos-related diseases caused by workplace exposures. See: Metro Madrid se ahorra el juicio reconociendo daños y perjuicios del primer fallecido por Amianto [Metro Madrid forestalls trial by accepting liability for asbestos death of former worker].
 

Gendered Experience of Mesothelioma

Nov 23, 2020

The results of a report just published entitled “Gendered Experience of Mesothelioma Study” by Mesothelioma UK and the University of Sheffield will inform policies and treatments adopted by healthcare professionals and policy makers. Amongst the key findings were: high risk occupations for men differed from those for women; women and younger men had lower levels of asbestos awareness; gender differences existed in the experiences and support provided at the time of diagnosis; patients’ capacity to cope with their diagnoses and subsequent treatment was affected by gender expectations. See: New report on gender differences in the experience of asbestos-related cancer.
 

Asbestos Program: Update

Nov 23, 2020

Work in Poland to eradicate asbestos within the national infrastructure by 2032 continues. A recent update from Nowosądecki County in Southern Poland reported that in 2020 asbestos roofing was remediated in a further 221 houses in the Sądecczyzna Region with financial support supplied under the government project “Liquidation of asbestos-containing products in the Nowosądecki County.” Under the Asbestos Waste Disposal Program, which was implemented in Nowosądecki County in 2001, between 2018 and 2020 more than 3,122 tons of asbestos-containing waste was removed and disposed of at a cost of PLN 993,000 (US$265,000). See: Azbest znika z kolejnych dachów [Asbestos disappears from roofs].
 

Embargo on Toxic Talc!

Nov 19, 2020

Congo’s Ministry of Commerce suspended the import and marketing of Johnson & Johnson’s talc-based baby powder over health concerns arising from the product’s contamination with asbestos. Confiscation of this product will be undertaken from all distribution establishments, depots and stores. The results of laboratory tests are pending but the Ministry has been proactive given the serious threat to health. The Government’s action is a response to lobbying by a civil society group – Action for the Environment and Development – which raised the matter at a meeting in Brazzaville on November 13. See: Cosmétique: le Congo suspend l’importation de la poudre pour bébé ‘‘Johnson baby powder’’ [Cosmetics: Congo suspends import of Johnson baby powder].
 

Remediating Philadelphia’s Schools

Nov 20, 2020

The University of Pennsylvania announced on November 17th that it would be making a $100 million donation to the Philadelphia School District to fund work to remediate asbestos and lead contamination in schools. The funding will be delivered over a decade with $10m being provided each year. Welcoming this news, School District officials said the gift will “not only help us to ensure these safe spaces for every student," but will allow the district to invest in “a new and compelling vision for school facilities.” See: Penn to donate $100 million to Philadelphia School District to help with asbestos, lead abatement.
 

UK Asbestos Prosecution

Nov 19, 2020

On November 16, 2020, the website of the Health & Safety Executive announced that the Bristol company Prestige EA Ltd. had been fined for failing to correctly conduct and complete an asbestos survey at a domestic construction project in 2017. Prestige EA Ltd. had been commissioned to advise and manage the development of a property into four flats above a retail unit but undertook the wrong type of asbestos survey. The company, which is now in liquidation, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3 of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and was fined £2,000 with costs of £3,000. See: Building contractor fined for asbestos failings at a domestic property construction project.
 

Catalan Asbestos Removal Initiative

Nov 19, 2020

On November 16, 2020, the Catalan Waste Agency announced a two million euro scheme to subsidize 100% of the costs of the removal of asbestos-containing insulation and construction materials; the objective of the scheme is to ensure that work is carried out under optimum conditions and by specialist operatives. Eligible applicants include local authorities, public administrations, social enterprises and non-profit companies. Funding will cover the costs of handling and removing asbestos, transport, management and treatment by certified companies. See: La Agencia de Residuos de Cataluña abre una nueva línea de ayudas de dos millones para la retirada de residuos de amianto [Catalan Waste Agency opens a new source of funding of two million euros for the removal of asbestos waste].
 

Asbestos Eradication Law in Catalonia

Nov 18, 2020

On November 17, 2020, the Executive Council of the Government of Catalonia approved draft legislation for the eradication of asbestos. In a press conference, the Regional Minister of the Presidency and spokesperson for the Government Meritxell Budó explained that the new law would protect the public as well as workers from toxic exposures. Key issues which need to be addressed Budó said were the ubiquity of asbestos material throughout the region – estimated at 4 million tonnes – an information vacuum and a lack of legislation mandating asbestos removal. A public consultation will be carried out and specialist advisors will be consulted. See: Catalunya empieza a elaborar una ley de retirada del Amianto [Catalonia begins to draw up an asbestos removal law].
 

Asbestos Medical Outreach Program

Nov 18, 2020

Following on from medical outreach efforts conducted on November 7, 2020 in the Brazilian State of Minas Gerais, on November 14 another group of former asbestos-exposed employees from the Precon company – the last asbestos-cement factory in Brazil to discontinue the use of asbestos – were examined by a medical team, part of a pioneering program to identify and care for asbestos victims (see: Brazilian Success: Pioneering Medical Program to Expand!). Doctors Ubiratan de Paula Santos, Jefferson Benedito Pires de Freitas and Rafael Futoshi Mizutani donated the services of their team to conduct this intervention for high risk individuals. See: Photo [Courtesy of Alexandro Cristino Guimarães, leader of the asbestos victims’ group representing Precon workers].
 

Lost Asbestos Compensation?

Nov 18, 2020

The destination of compensation payments for the bereaved daughters of Louise Fortin, a Canadian nursing assistant who died from the asbestos cancer, mesothelioma, seems to be in some doubt according to an article published in the Montreal Journal. Although compensation of $120,000 was paid to Isabel Anne-Marie Gélinas by the Committee on Standards, Equity, Health and Safety at Work (CNESST), there has been no accounting by the CNESST for sums clawbacked from American defendants following the intervention of US attorneys. The sisters are considering plans to file a class action against the CNESST. See: Recours réclamé par les filles d’une soignante tuée par l’amiante [Compensation claimed by the daughters of a caregiver killed by asbestos].
 

Asbestos Litigation against EPA

Nov 18, 2020

On November 12, 2020, lawyers representing the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) defended the US government’s asbestos policy in a San Francisco federal court against a lawsuit brought by six U.S. public health organizations. According to Justice Department lawyer Brandon Adkins: “The EPA has offered its basis which is rooted in science, and the court should defer to the agency’s discretion.” The plaintiffs allege that the EPA violated the Administrative Procedure Act by denying their 2018 petition asking the Agency to amend the TSCA Chemical Data Reporting rule and require additional reporting on asbestos in order to protect citizens from toxic exposures. See: Trump’s EPA Defends Asbestos Reporting Loopholes in Court.
 

Greening Redundant Asbestos Sites

Nov 18, 2020

According to a survey carried out by the Canada Research Chair in Ecological Economics at the University of Quebec in Outaouais, which was published this month (November, 2020), the majority of residents in Quebec’s former asbestos mining heartland support the remediation of contaminated sites in the Chaudière-Appalaches and Estrie regions “to help improve the environment” by vegetating sites and turning them into green spaces. The asbestos waste dumps are owned by the Granilake company, which says it wants to: “to plant grasses, plants, trees to restore a vegetal cover.” See: Végétaliser les vieilles mines d’amiante: une idée Populaire [Greening old asbestos mines: a popular idea].
 

Asbestos Limbo

Nov 16, 2020

Although Kenya banned asbestos in 2006, the prohibition directive has not yet been put into force. As a result, dangerous products incorporated within the national infrastructure remain a potent hazard to members of the public as well as workers, John Chumo, secretary-general of the National Environmental Complaints Committee, told a Kenyan reporter on November 12, 2020. In his remarks, Chumo highlighted the need for a nationwide awareness campaign to educate the general public and employees of the hazards posed by asbestos exposures. The improper disposal of asbestos-containing materials is also problematic due to the lack of financial resources and capacity to deal safely with toxic debris. See: Implement asbestos ban to save lives, state told.
 

Asbestos Mine Dispute

Nov 16, 2020

Not for the first time, workers at Zimbabwe’s Shabanie chrysotile asbestos mine have been short-changed by management. Representatives of the disgruntled workforce – currently owed more than US$ 2.8 million –have requested that the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) initiate an investigation over corporate corruption. According to Mr. J. Chinhema from the Zimbabwe Diamonds and Allied Workers Union, whilst withholding salaries from the workers, the administrator running the company has simultaneously been selling off company assets. See: Shabanie workers approach ZACC over assets.
 

Mesothelioma in Montreal!

Nov 16, 2020

The adverse health consequences of working in an iconic office building in Montreal which was contaminated with asbestos was recognized in August 2020 when the (Canadian) Commission des normes, de l'équité, de la santé et de la sécurité du travail (Committee on standards, equity, health and safety at work) paid compensation to mesothelioma sufferer Jean-Pierre Archambault who spent 42 years in the building as an employee of the  Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce. Lawyers for the bank, which was due to reimburse the Standards Commission challenged, the decision deeming it "unfounded in fact and in law.” See: Ex-employé de la Banque CIBC exposé à l’amiante dédommagé [Man who worked in a tower in Montreal suffers from incurable cancer].
 

Metro Asbestos Removal Program

Nov 16, 2020

More than 200 tonnes (t) of asbestos-containing cement products have been removed from the Barcelona metro; a further 82t of toxic material has been identified but a further 158t of asbestos material remains in place, according to information released by Transports Metropolitans de Barcelona (Barcelona City Transport), the company which operates the transport system. According to the planned schedule of works, the remediation program will be completed by the end of next year (2021). See: Retirados dos tercios del amianto identificado en el metro de Barcelona [Two thirds of the asbestos identified in the Barcelona metro has been removed].
 

Sub-Contracted Workers' Asbestos Anxiety

Nov 13, 2020

An update on the eligibility of sub-contracted workers to claim damages for asbestos anxiety in France confirmed that following a ruling on September 30, 2020 by the Court of Cassation – France’s Supreme Court – workers who were employed as subcontractors were able to make a claim for asbestos anxiety against a former employer for failures to take timely action to protect workers from hazardous exposures. Claimants must provide evidence of their asbestos exposures and demonstrate the adverse effects of this exposure on their health. See: Amiante: l'action pour préjudice d'anxiété ouverte aux sous-traitants [Asbestos: action for prejudice of anxiety open to subcontractors].
 

Basque Asbestos Claim

Nov 13, 2020

On November 12, 2020, there was a hearing in Social Court number 3 in San Sebastián, a city in the Basque Autonomous Community, on behalf of the family of a worker who died in 2018 from the asbestos cancer, mesothelioma. The deceased had spent “all his working life” employed by Construcciones y Auxiliar de Ferrocarriles [Construction and Railway Auxiliary] where he was routinely exposed to asbestos. The family was claiming damages of nearly €390,000 (US$~$460,000). See: La familia de un fallecido por exposición al amianto reclama 388.926 euros [The family of a deceased due to asbestos exposure claims 388,926 euros].
 

Update: Asbestos at Grenfell Tower

Nov 13, 2020

A briefing was published by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government on November 10, 2020 based on a meeting with local people that took place weeks earlier about asbestos removal in and around the site of Grenfell Tower. The panel of speakers informing the discussions included a site manager, civil servants and a health and safety specialist. Certified specialist operatives using state-of-the-art techniques were working to remove chrysotile and amosite asbestos from Grenfell and nearby buildings on the estate. A “robust regime of air monitoring” is ensuring that there “is no increased risk [to local people] as a result of the works…” See: Asbestos removal in and around Grenfell Tower: summary and Q&A from the 21 September event.
 

Asbestos at Home!

Nov 13, 2020

An article documenting the prevalence of asbestos in everyday items highlighted the hazard posed to people in Vietnam of domestic exposures to products as diverse as roofing sheets, water pipes, cement, flooring, insulation, water tanks and thermos flasks. The author reviewed findings by the World Health Organization regarding the carcinogenicity of asbestos and reiterated the advice that “the most effective way to prevent these diseases is to stop using all forms of asbestos to prevent exposure.” See: Chất độc mà WHO xếp đầu danh sách những chất gây ung thư nội tạng, hóa ra luôn hiện diện ở những vật dụng quen thuộc trong ngôi nhà bạn [The poison that WHO ranks at the top of the list of carcinogens turns out to be always present in familiar objects in your home].
 

Asbestos in Schools Remediation: Too Slow

Nov 13, 2020

South Korean politician Lee Kwang-il representing Yeosu City has criticized the Jeonnam Provincial Office of Education for the slow pace with which it has progressed the decontamination of schools in Yeosu City. To date, only 36% of the affected buildings have been remediated and, he said, at this rate it will be impossible to comply with the 2027 deadline set for the completion of the schools’ asbestos removal program by the Ministry of Education. See: 이광일 전남도의원, 학교 석면제거 부진 해소방안 마련 촉구 [Jeonnam Provincial Clinic urges Lee Kwang-il to come up with measures to resolve the sluggish removal of asbestos in schools].
 

Swindon Mesothelioma Claim

Nov 13, 2020

A personal injury case over the 2018 mesothelioma death of Terry McLaughlin – a man who taught art in Swindon schools from 1979 till 1993 – has resulted in his widow receiving compensation from the insurers of Wiltshire County Council. Commenting on the outcome of the case, Mrs. McLaughlin’s solicitor Lorna Webster said: “The disregard given to Terry's health by the council is shocking. Sadly we are seeing more and more cases like Terry's, where the contact with asbestos happened in an occupation not immediately linked to asbestos exposure.” See: Swindon teacher's widow gets asbestos compensation.
 

Mobilization on Asbestos Hazard

Nov 10, 2020

Work to protect people in Vietnam from the asbestos hazard continued this month with a workshop on November 6 in Lang Son city entitled: Include Chrysotile (Asbestos) on the List of Hazardous Waste Materials and Require Warning Labels on Asbestos-containing Products. The event was organized by the Institute of Natural Resources, Environment and Community Development in collaboration with the Committee for Ethnic Minorities of Lang Son province. Vietnam currently imports 60,000 tonnes of asbestos per year; the vast majority of asbestos roofing sheets made in Vietnam are used in mountainous areas inhabited by ethnic minorities. See: Vận động đưa Amiăng trắng vào danh sách chất thải độc hại [Advocacy to put chrysotile on the list of hazardous waste].
 

New Asbestos Outreach Project

Nov 10, 2020

On November 7, 2020 in the Brazilian State of Minas Gerais, 22 former asbestos-exposed employees from the Precon company – owners of the last asbestos-cement factory in Brazil to discontinue the use of asbestos – were examined by a medical team, part of a pioneering program to identify and care for asbestos victims. The patients received X-ray, tomography and spirometry tests. Although Minas Gerais is one of Brazil’s most economically developed states, the public health system does not, according to an expert “adequately fulfil its role of epidemiological surveillance and health care for its population, especially asbestos victims.” See: Photograph.
 

Asbestos Mortality: Documentation

Nov 10, 2020

A group representing Japanese patients with asbestos-related diseases has welcomed moves by Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare (MHLW) to mandate the long-term retention of death certificates for asbestos-caused deaths; in Tokyo, Yokohama, Chiba, Mito, Maebashi, Nagano, Kanazawa, Hiroshima and Tokushima and elsewhere these documents are routinely destroyed five years after the deaths occurred. Acting upon the MHLW’s request, the Ministry of Justice required 50 Legal Affairs Bureaus to retain these death certificates for 27 years. See: アスベスト労災の死亡診断書、法務省が27年間保存要請 患者団体「大きな進展」 [Death certificate for asbestos work accidents, Ministry of Justice requests preservation for 27 years Patient group “Major progress”].
 

Victory in Asbestos Anxiety Case

Nov 10, 2020

On November 5, 2020 it was announced that an appeal against verdicts awarding compensation of €2,000 to €11,000 for asbestos anxiety to 150 former workers at a landmark building in Nantes had been abandoned by the defendants. Earlier this year, the administrative court of appeal and the administrative court of Nantes supported claims by people who had worked at the Tripod building between 1972 and 1993, finding the national and municipal authorities negligent for failing to prevent toxic exposures. See: Nantes. Préjudice d’anxiété liée à l’amiante au Tripode: l’État renonce à faire appel [Nantes. Asbestos-related anxiety damage in the Tripod: the State gives up appeal].
 

Asbestos Eradication Program

Nov 10, 2020

The governing body of the Spanish island of Gran Canaria has announced plans to remediate asbestos-containing material from 200 properties to protect public health. The work, which will cost €345,000 (~US$410,000), will be conducted by specialist operatives. Illegal dumping of asbestos waste has been widespread on the island, creating environmental problems in places such as Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Telde, Arucas, Moya, Teror, Agaete, Firgas, San Bartolomé de Tirajana and Ingenio. See: El Cabildo retirará 160 toneladas de amianto en 200 inmuebles de Gran Canaria para evitar problemas de salud y vertidos incontrolados [Cabildo will remove 160 tons of asbestos in 200 properties in Gran Canaria to avoid health problems and uncontrolled spills].
 

Asbestos Hot Potato

Nov 10, 2020

The legacy of an abandoned village in Busan, South Korea has been an environmental nightmare for local people. Residents who deserted the locale left behind toxic waste including asbestos-cement building material which continues to litter the site, according to a recent newspaper exposé which identified asbestos fibers in the rubble. Municipal buildings such as a daycare facility, social welfare center, high school and residential housing are within close proximity of the site. Authorities contacted by the reporter refused to accept responsibility for the situation. See: [취재후] 어린이집 옆 야산의 비밀…10년째 발암물질 ‘석면’ 방치 [After coverage. The secret of the hillside next to the daycare center… Carcinogenic substance, asbestos neglected for 10 years].
 

Paris Court of Appeal Hearing

Nov 6, 2020

Fifteen years after a legal case was brought on behalf of asbestos victims from Cherbourg, proceedings will begin on November 6, 2020 at the Paris Court of Appeals. The ten claimants were pipe-fitters, insulators, carpenters and welders employed in the construction of submarines at the Normandy shipyard. As a result of their occupational asbestos exposures, they contracted asbestos-related diseases without ever having been warned of the asbestos hazard. Lawyers for the plaintiffs will urge the court to instigate a criminal trial of those whose negligence caused the illnesses and deaths of these workers. See: Victimes de l’amiante: un déni de justice qui dure depuis 15 ans [Asbestos victims: a denial of justice that has lasted for 15 years].
 

UK Asbestos Data: Update

Nov 6, 2020

Data released this month by the UK’s Health & Safety Executive (HSE) confirmed the status of the national asbestos epidemic as of 2018; the number of deaths that year from asbestos-related cancers and diseases was 5,000 with 2,446 deaths from malignant pleural mesothelioma and the same number estimated from asbestos-related lung cancers. Occupational lung diseases accounted for around 12,000 of the 13,000 total annual deaths estimated to be linked to hazardous exposures at work. See: Health and safety at work Summary statistics for Great Britain 2020.
 

Victims’ Ruling!

Nov 6, 2020

On November 3, 2020 the Missouri Supreme Court rejected an appeal by the pharmaceutical giant Johnson and Johnson (J&J) over a 2018 jury verdict awarding $2.12 billion to women who contracted ovarian cancer as a result of using the company’s baby powder which they alleged had contained asbestos fibers. On June 20, 2020, a state appeals court had upheld the original verdict but reduced J&J’s payout from $4.69 billion after dismissing claims by some of the 22 plaintiffs. Lawyers for J&J announced that the company would take this case to the Supreme Court. See: Johnson & Johnson fails to overturn $2.12 billion baby powder verdict, plans Supreme Court appeal.
 

Asbestos Hazard in Russia’s Far East

Nov 6, 2020

Acting Governor of Russia’s Khabarovsk Territory Mikhail Degtyarev announced plans to rehouse tenants living in “notorious” 70-year-old housing built with asbestos in the village of Berlin, Druzhba – a microdistrict of Komsomolsk-on-Amur city – on account of the hazard posed by living in close proximity to this acknowledged carcinogen. Degtyarev has ordered various Ministries – including the Ministry of Housing and Communal Services – to work together to resolve the issue. See: Михаил Дегтярёв призвал срочно расселить аварийные дома в посёлке Берлин [Mikhail Degtyarev urged to urgently resettle [occupants of] emergency housing in the village of Berlin].
 

Asbestos Propaganda

Nov 4, 2020

An online Russian article, informed by asbestos lobbyists, reviewed the ongoing battle to end the use of carcinogenic chrysotile asbestos which, the author alleged, was a commercially-motivated initiative rather than a campaign to protect public and occupational health. Asserting that the latest science – produced to order by asbestos industry-funded scientists – proved the use of chrysotile asbestos was safe, the author stated: “Among the employees of Orenburg Minerals [Russia’s biggest chrysotile asbestos producer], not a single case of an occupational disease was recorded due to contact with chrysotile asbestos.” See: Почему на западе ведут борьбу против хризотиловой промышленности в РФ [Why in the West they are fighting against the chrysotile industry in the Russian Federation].
 

New Asbestos Mortality Data

Nov 4, 2020

On October 5, 2020  “2019 ESSENTIALS Health and safety at work” was published in France; it highlighted the ongoing human costs of the country’s widespread use of asbestos. In 2019, asbestos-related occupational diseases ranked 2nd amongst recognized occupational illnesses with 2,881 cases being recognized; these included 1,800 cases of cancer most of which affected retired workers. During the year, the Asbestos Victims Compensation Fund (FIVA) made payments of € 260 million. See: L’ESSENTIEL 2019 Santé et sécurité au travail [2019 ESSENTIALS Health and Safety at work].
 

History: Yukon Mining Town

Nov 4, 2020

A photograph of two workers at an asbestos mine in the Yukon was the starting point for a short discussion about the history of British Colombia’s Clinton Creek asbestos mine – operated by Cassiar Asbestos Corporation from 1966 to 1978. Neither the environment nor the buildings on the site have been remediated; the contamination left behind continues to pose a hazard to populations living downstream from the site. One of the individuals in the photograph (see below), 22 year old Richard, recalled his days in the mine’s bagging department, handling 60-pound blocks of asbestos fiber; preferring dynamite to asbestos, he transferred to the blasting crew. See: An asbestos mine, a 50-year-old photo and a trip back in time.
 

National Asbestos Death Toll

Nov 4, 2020

A Japanese language article highlighted findings published by the Global Burden of Disease report which suggested that asbestos mortality in Japan (20,267), was the 3rd highest in the world, after the US (40,000) and China (26,000) in 2019. According to campaigner Sugio Furuya: “the actual scope of asbestos harm in Japan is unknown. This estimate reiterates that the current compensation and relief cannot save the victims.” Japan used asbestos long after other industrialized countries had banned it; prohibition of use started in 1995 with bans on amosite and crocidolite and was completed with a ban on all types in 2012. See: 日本の19年石綿関連死者数、推計2万人超 研究機関調査 [Japan's 19-year asbestos-related deaths, estimated to exceed 20,000 in Research institute survey].
 

Asbestos Fly-tipping

Nov 4, 2020

Illegal dumping of asbestos-containing waste has created an environmental problem in the city of Badajoz, in southwest Spain. Responding to the situation, the city council undertook a remediation program to remove 2,600 kilos of asbestos-cement from various hotspots in the city. Of the €16,500 budgeted for this work, almost €10,000 has been spent. Citizens are asked to monitor their areas and report the dumping of potentially toxic waste to the local authorities. See: El Consistorio pacense retira más de 2.600 kilos de amianto de vertidos ilegales [The City Council of Badajoz removes more than 2,600 kilos of asbestos from illegal dumping].
 

Asbestos Expose Wins Prize!

Nov 3, 2020

An expose entitled Doctors of Death by Natara Felizardo, which was uploaded in January 2020 by the Brazilian online publication The Intercept, has won this year’s National Association of Labor Judges (ANAMATRA) of Brazil Award for Human Rights in the electronic media category (internet). This feature article detailed a litany of wrongdoings by medical doctors and researchers linked to the Brazilian asbestos mining company SAMA. Illnesses contracted by SAMA workers were routinely found to be caused by smoking or drinking and not by exposures to asbestos; the results of medical tests provided by SAMA were retained by the company. See: Doutores de la Morte [Doctors of Death].
 

Mesothelioma Research: Update

Nov 3, 2020

Researchers at Flinders University, in Adelaide, South Australia are pioneering treatment protocols and techniques to achieve early diagnoses of malignant mesothelioma in order to achieve longer survival rates. A team under Associate Professor Klebe is exploring the feasibility and safety of using intrapleural liposomal curcumin to extend patient survival and improve quality of life. Next year (2021), a clinical test will begin to test the efficacy of a therapy using curcumin, a key component of the spice turmeric. Work is also being progressed to find a non-invasive way to test for malignant mesothelioma using lung fluid, to facilitate an early diagnosis. See: Trial targets deadly lung cancer.
 

Asbestos Removal in Schools

Nov 3, 2020

Portugal’s Ministry of Territorial Unity has extended the deadline for municipalities to apply for financial subsidies under the national asbestos removal program for schools until November 30. To date, 245 applications had been submitted from 51 municipalities many with projects relating to multiple schools; the total requested so far amounted to €34.3m, which equated to 66% of the total available (€52m). Under the terms of the grants, work on the contaminated buildings must be finished by August 31, 2021 “so that the academic year 2021/2022 can start asbestos-free in school buildings.” See: Alargado prazo para câmaras se candidatarem à recolha de Amianto [Deadline extended for bodies to apply for asbestos removal [subsidy]].
 

Union Action on Asbestos

Nov 3, 2020

On October 30, 2020, members of the Spanish trade union CCOO demanded that the Occupational Safety and Health Committee at Saint Gobain – a company which had used asbestos in its glass manufacturing processes prior to the Spanish ban – activate the asbestos prevention protocol due to asbestos exposures experienced by 12 workers, some of whom are now retired, at the company’s facility in La Maruca, Madrid. The Union requested that the management recognize the existence of asbestos in its facilities in order for it to be listed on the Register of Companies with Asbestos Risk. Management representatives agreed to investigate the situation. See: CCOO denuncia exposiciones al amianto en Saint-Gobain [CCOO denounces asbestos exposures in Saint-Gobain].
 

Provincial Asbestos Action Plan

Nov 3, 2020

A substantial allocation of funding for the removal of asbestos from schools throughout the Korea Province of Gyeonggi has been included in the 2021 budget of the Gyeonggi Province Office of Education which was published on October 28, 2020. Out of a total of 131.4 billion won (~US$116m), 24.9 billion won (~US$22m) was ring-fenced for asbestos removal and remediation of 40 Gyeonggi school buildings and 2,505 classrooms in 2021. See: "무상교복·석면제거 등"… 경기도·도교육청·시군, 내년 3천500억 투입한다 [“Free school uniform, asbestos removal, etc.”... Gyeonggi-do, Provincial Office of Education, Si-Gun, will invest 350 billion won next year].
 

Award for Health & Safety Activist

Oct 30, 2020

On October 27, 2020, it was announced that the work of Sanjiv Pandita, from the Asian Network for the Rights of Occupational and Environmental Victims (ANROEV), the Asian Ban Asbestos Network (ABAN) and the NGO Solidar Suisse, had been recognized by members of the American Public Health Association (APHA). In a virtual presentation made by Garrett Brown, Sanjiv was awarded the Leslie Nickels International Health & Safety Award 2020 in recognition of his “outstanding achievement in the field of occupational health and safety outside the U.S.” See: 2020 APHA OHS Awards [View from 1.01.20-1.12.00].
 

Brazil’s Asbestos Conundrum

Oct 30, 2020

On October 21, 2020, Brazil’s Inter-Union Department of Health and Work Environment Studies and Research [Departamento Intersindical de Estudos e Pesquisas de Saúde e dos Ambientes de Trabalho/ DIESAT] hosted an online discussion about Brazil’s asbestos conundrum: although the Supreme Court banned asbestos in 2017, the mining and export of asbestos fiber continues under a state-sanctioned dispensation. Speakers who took part included: pneumonologist Dr. Ubiritan, engineer and co-founder of the Brazilian asbestos victims’ group ABREA Fernanda Giannasi, Luciano Lima Leivas, Labor Attorney & Deputy Manager of the National Asbestos Banning Program of the Public Ministry of Labor and others. See: A luta pelo banimento do amianto no Brasil é tema de live [Struggle to ban asbestos in Brazil continues].
 

Guilty Verdict for French Businessmen

Oct 30, 2020

On October 26, 2020, managers of the Basaltine company – Philippe Mialanes and Yves Brugeaud – were found guilty of exposing nine employees to asbestos at their concrete factory near Marseille during the 2000s. The defendants received suspended sentences of three months in jail and fines of €10,000; the company was fined €40,000. The court ruled that the accused had endangered the workers’ lives by exposing them to deteriorating asbestos-containing panels located in an Ardèche workshop. See: Salariés exposés à l'amiante dans les années 2000: les réquisitions sont tombées [Employees exposed to asbestos in the 2000s: requisitions fell].
 

Spain’s Asbestos Legacy

Oct 30, 2020

An online commentary considered the background to the ongoing epidemic of asbestos-related diseases in Spain, a country which used 2.5 million tonnes of asbestos prior to 2002 when a national ban came into force. According to scientific experts, 30,000 people will die in Spain before 2030 because of asbestos exposures. The author deplored the illegal dumping of asbestos-containing debris which posed a serious public and environmental health hazard and issued serious warnings about the dangerous and illegal practice of using non-specialists for the removal of asbestos-containing material. See: Los canallas del Amianto [Asbestos scoundrels].
 

One Patient’s Journey

Oct 30, 2020

The story of 49-year old American physician’s assistant Deane Berg’s battle with bilateral ovarian cancer provided the focus for a half hour podcast. Her testimony was lucid, detailed and draining, in equal measure. Deane’s determination to identify the cause of her cancer sent her on a journey through the medical literature which led her to conclude that her long-term use of Johnson & Johnson’s talc-based baby powder, contaminated with asbestos, had been the cause of the cancer. After a thorough investigation, Deane hired Alan Smith from Mississippi to represent her; subsequently, Deane, filed the first lawsuit in the US against Johnson & Johnson over its sales of contaminated baby powder. See: Verified: Dust UP – Unlikely Partners.
 

Toxic Talc in Taiwan

Oct 30, 2020

Johnson and Johnson’s baby powder – called “Jiaosheng Baby Powder” in Taiwan – is the subject of a feature length Chinese article. The author explained that Jiaosheng Baby Powder was still being sold in Taiwan despite the fact that it had been withdrawn from North American markets; examining the reasons for the company’s change in marketing policy, the author postulated that the 20,000 lawsuits over cancers caused by exposures to asbestos contained in the powder could have been the reason. See: 嬌生百年經典危機(上):訴訟戰20年...嬰兒爽身粉的致癌風暴 [Jiaosheng's 100-year classic crisis (part 1): 20 years of litigation... the carcinogenic storm of baby powder].
 

Asbestos-Free Madrid

Oct 28, 2020

The Governing Board of the Madrid City Council this week agreed to draw up a plan to eliminate asbestos from the Spanish capital by 2030, with Mayor Mercedes González highlighting the urgency of action needed to protect the population and prevent deadly exposures. According to the City Council, there are eleven districts in which 33 public schools contain asbestos. Mayor González is calling for remediation work at these schools to begin at the start of the school holidays. See: Aprobado un plan para que Madrid quede libre de amianto en 2030 [A plan approved for Madrid to be free of asbestos by 2030].
 

Asbestos Murder Trial in Novara

Oct 28, 2020

A criminal trial against Stephan Schmidheiny at the Novara Court of Assizes in north-west Italy, which had been postponed because of the pandemic, will commence on November 27, 2020. Schmidheiny has been charged with 392 cases of murder of former Eternit workers from the company’s asbestos-cement factory in Casale Monferrato and of local people who died of diseases caused by toxic exposures. The trial could be delayed because of the pandemic. Schmidheiny’s legal team is currently appealing a May 2019 verdict sentencing the defendant to 4 years in prison for the aggravated manslaughter of an Eternit worker from Cavagnolo. See: Stephan Schmidheiny «incurante dell’uomo e dell’ambiente» [Stephan Schmidheiny “heedless of man and the environment”].
 

Asbestos in Castle

Oct 28, 2020

On October 27, 2020 it was announced that sprayed asbestos material had been discovered in September on the indoor staircase of Okayama Castle, a 16th century structure in Okayama City on the west of Honshū Island. The city-owned building, which is now a museum, will remain open for the time being as no airborne fibers had been detected. Remediation work is scheduled to be undertaken in 2021, during which time the asbestos-containing paint identified in the castle’s tower will be removed. See: 岡山城にアスベスト 来年度の改修工事で撤去へ [Asbestos in Okayama Castle to be removed in next year's renovation work].
 

Mesothelioma Risk from Chrysotile

Oct 28, 2020

A paper published on October 21, 2020 examined occupational histories for 508 male workers, 176 of whom contracted mesothelioma – from a US case–control mesothelioma study in 1975-1980. While exposure to the complex mixture of extra-long amosite, short and long chrysotile, tremolite and anthophyllite fibers was associated with the highest risk of contracting mesothelioma, exposure to long and short chrysotile fibers alone was also associated with increased mesothelioma risk. The authors of the paper concluded: “that policies aimed at regulating asbestos should target both pure chrysotile and mixtures that include amphibole.” See: Mesothelioma risk among those exposed to chrysotile asbestos only and mixtures that include amphibole: a case-control study in the USA, 1975-1980.
 

Human Cost of Asbestos Use

Oct 28, 2020

Data released in British Colombia (BC) has revealed the price paid by workers in this Canadian Province for the use of asbestos. Occupational deaths in 2019 matched a record high set in 2013; the bill for the 2019 claims submitted by victims was $1.34 billion. Asbestos-related exposures remained the leading cause of work-related mortality in 2019 as it has been for the last decade, representing 32% of the deaths recognized; BC’s construction sector had the worst record in 2019 for deaths, many of which were caused by workplace asbestos exposures. See: B.C. 2019 workplace deaths match record high.
 

EU Asbestos Remediation Project: Update

Oct 26, 2020

Between 2005 and 2019, EU-funded efforts made substantial progress in remediating the site of one of Europe’s largest asbestos mines in Kozani, Northern Greece. The output of the mine, which covered 4,144 acres, was 100,000 tonnes of asbestos fiber per year. It was the largest environmental restoration project in the Balkans and was undertaken using a phased approach at a total cost of almost €50 million. See: Μεταλλεία Αμιάντου Β. Ελλάδας: Το μεγαλύτερο έργο περιβαλλοντικής αποκατάστασης στα Βαλκάνια, με τη συνδρομή της ΕΕ [Asbestos Mines in Northern Greece: The largest environmental rehabilitation project in the Balkans, with EU assistance].
 

Non-Occupational Mesothelioma Rates

Oct 26, 2020

Research into the incidence of the signature asbestos cancer, mesothelioma in Ontario and British Colombia, Canada revealed an increase in cases caused by non-occupational asbestos exposures. Scientists, led by Dr. Paul Demers, director of the Occupational Cancer Research Centre at Ontario Health, comparing data from 1993 to 2017 identified more than 4,000 cases in Ontario, the majority of which were due to occupational exposures to asbestos. There was, however, a significant increase in cases contracted from low-level non-occupational exposures to asbestos. See: What new Ontario-led research says about mesothelioma.
 

Mesothelioma: Update

Oct 26, 2020

A paper published in the October 13, 2020 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America by researchers in the US and Italy examined critical issues about how the inhalation of asbestos fibers can cause the signature asbestos cancer, mesothelioma. The scientists, who found that doses of chloroquine or the antidepressant drug desmethylclomipramine increased asbestos-induced cell death, concluded that: “these Food and Drug Administration-approved drugs might be repurposed to protect high-risk asbestos-exposed individuals from developing mesothelioma.” See: Asbestos induces mesothelial cell transformation via HMGB1-driven autophagy.
 

Asbestos Appeal at Supreme Court

Oct 26, 2020

On the afternoon of October 22, 2020, the first hearing took place before Judge Takuya Fukayama at the Japanese Supreme Court in an appeal by 80 asbestos-injured construction workers and surviving family members from Kanagawa Prefecture. The plaintiffs, who are seeking damages from the Japanese government and manufacturers of building materials, argued that from at least 1975 there was knowledge of the harmful effects of asbestos exposures and measures should have been implemented to protect workers. See: 建設アスベスト訴訟、最高裁で弁論 同種上告審で初 [Construction asbestos proceedings, argument at the Supreme Court for the first time in a similar appeal!].
 

Algeria’s Asbestos Legacy

Oct 26, 2020

A recent article highlights the hazard to inhabitants of the Algerian city of El-Guemmas who live in homes with deteriorating asbestos roofing. The city was built in the 1980s following a natural disaster and is home to 31,500, with thousands living in 2,350 contaminated properties. A scheme by authorities encouraging residents to remediate properties was unfit for purpose. Expressing the views of many, Mohamed Hambli said: “We no longer want to live in this city, especially as many inhabitants have made changes to their homes, which has created anarchy, indescribable urban [chaos]…. Reconstruction is not within our reach for considerations of advanced age, financial means, the number of family members under the same roof and the urban configuration of the city.” See: Une vie sous un toit d’amiante [A life under an asbestos roof].
 

Asbestos: Political Hot Potato

Oct 23, 2020

A heated discussion on October 21, 2020 at the Madrid City Council heard calls for asbestos remediation, especially of the city’s schools, to be prioritized on the grounds of public safety. The Mayor of Madrid said he knew: “of schools where there are currently three teachers with cancer being treated.” “None of us,” he said “would want to have relatives” working or studying in such toxic conditions. Paloma Garcia, on behalf of the Department of Works and Equipment assured councillors that he shared their concerns and was progressing plans to address asbestos contamination throughout the capital. See: Más Madrid reclama un programa consensuado de retirada del Amianto [Political Party “More Madrid” calls for an agreed asbestos removal program].
 

Asbestos Proceedings in Paris

Oct 23, 2020

On October 12, 2020, there was a hearing at the Paris Court of Appeal on behalf of asbestos claimants from the Everite factory in Dammarie-les-Lys. In 2018 this case had been dismissed by magistrates who found it was not possible to determine the date when plaintiffs had inhaled the asbestos fibers which had caused their illnesses. It followed, therefore, that it was impossible to hold to account specific executives who may or may not have been in charge of the company at that time. According to one of the lawyers representing the victims “the guilt is cumulative.” For decades, French asbestos victims have been calling for a criminal trial of asbestos defendants. See: Scandale de l’amiante: “La chance de voir un procès pénal un jour se joue maintenant” [Asbestos scandal: “The chance to see a criminal trial one day is in play now].
 

Asbestos, No More!

Oct 23, 2020

The votes have been counted. The electorate of the former asbestos mining town of Asbestos has chosen the French name Val-des-Sources, meaning Valley of the Sources, as its new moniker bringing to a close more than a century of history, during which the town was named for a carcinogenic substance produced at the local Jeffrey white asbestos mine. Just over half the ballots supported the choice. Commenting on the outcome, Mayor Hugues Grimard said the name “represents our area, and especially, it’s inspiring for the future.” Former Mayor Louise Moisan-Coulombe agreed the change was necessary: “Once upon a time, we have been very proud of that name, but now it’s very difficult because asbestos means a fiber that people are afraid of.” See: New name for a Canadian town called Asbestos.
 

Asbestos and Cancer in China

Oct 20, 2020

According to the Beijing Municipal Health Commission (the Commission) lung cancer “is one of the most threatening malignant tumors to the health and life of the population.” In a new upload entitled "Scientific Fight against Cancer: Early Understanding and Early Prevention of Lung Cancer" on its website, the Commission lists occupational exposures to asbestos as a significant factor in increasing the incidence of lung cancer, and pleural and peritoneal mesothelioma, explaining that there can be a latency of 20+ years between exposures and the manifestation of disease. See: 科学抗癌:早了解早预防肺癌 [Scientific Fight against Cancer: Early Understanding and Early Prevention of Lung Cancer].
 

Leaving Asbestos Behind!

Oct 20, 2020

Yet more coverage of the dilemma faced by voters in the small Quebec town of Asbestos who are in the process of rebranding their home town. The result of the poll to rename the municipality was due to be announced on October 19, 2020. A feature article from the Globe and Mail – one of Canada’s most popular English-language newspapers – examined the role the asbestos industry had played in the town’s history and the French-English ructions the name change had exposed. One interviewee was blunt: “The name harms economic development. You have to be realistic.” It will be interesting to see what the result of the vote will be. See: After years of debate, Asbestos, Que. is getting a new name in hope it will help the economy.
 

Asbestos Offensive

Oct 20, 2020

A Russian article on a Ukraine website purporting to be an examination of the reasons for the European Union’s asbestos ban was industry propaganda informed by the asbestos lobby; as evidenced by the inclusion of statements such as “there are quite a few areas in which chrysotile asbestos can be useful (and often even irreplaceable)”; “the environmental harm of chrysotile asbestos is also exaggerated”; and “the myth about the harmfulness of asbestos is proof of that”. It is noteworthy that the asbestos ban mandated by Ukraine’s Ministry of Health in 2017 was overturned after pressure had been exerted by vested interests. See: Асбест хризотил: опасность и вред хризотилового асбеста опровергнуты учеными [Chrysotile asbestos: dangers and harm of chrysotile asbestos refuted by scientists].
 

Asbestos Mystery

Oct 20, 2020

A blog (cited below) has examined facts reported in a recent feature article which had extolled the bright future for Brazil’s former asbestos giant Eternit SA, whilst ignoring the avalanche of personal injury claims still pending against the company. Since September 2020 and despite Eternit’s financial liabilities, the company’s share price and market value had almost doubled with a huge spike in shares trading on a particular day. The company, it said, was at a loss to explain this development. The volume of Eternit’s asbestos exports from its Goiás mine doubled between 2019 and 2020 even though the Supreme Court banned the commercial exploitation of asbestos in 2017. See: Quem não gosta de amianto? [Who doesn’t like asbestos?].
 

Import of Toxic Waste

Oct 20, 2020

In 2019, 1,684 tonnes of asbestos-containing waste was exported to Portugal from countries in Europe, Africa and the Middle East for disposal in landfill sites. The amount exported in 2018 was 496 tonnes. The reason for the huge increase in volume was, said a Portuguese campaigner: “the cheap offers given in Portugal for those who want to deposit waste in landfills.” Ninety-nine percent of this waste had been sent to non-hazardous industrial waste landfills. As of December 2020, it will be illegal to ship asbestos waste to Portugal according to a new government regulation. See: Grécia, Malta, e até Nigéria e Oman enviaram "lixo" com amianto para Portugal [Greece, Malta, and even Nigeria and Oman sent asbestos “garbage” to Portugal].
 

Asbestos Propaganda

Oct 19, 2020

The benevolence of Kostanay Minerals JSC – one of the world’s largest producers of chrysotile asbestos fiber – is the focus of a piece by Evgeniya Ermakova, referenced below. The company’s mine and milling operations are centered in and around the town of Zhitikar in the Kostanay region of Kazakhstan. Of the 220,000+ tons of asbestos fiber mined every year in Kazakhstan, 95% is exported to India, Uzbekistan, China, Ukraine and other countries. The company has close ties to the government. See: Бизнес – это прежде всего люди [Business is primarily about people]. (P.S. In 2016, it was revealed that operatives employed by Kazakh asbestos interests had spied on ban asbestos campaigners.)
 

Growth in Global Asbestos Epidemic

Oct 19, 2020

Analyses – by Sugio Furuya, Coordinator of the Asian Ban Asbestos Network (ABAN) – of data extracted from information published on October 17, 2020 in The Lancet in the paper: The Global Burden of Diseases, Injuries, and Risk Factors Study (GBD) 2019, revealed that the global incidence of mortality from asbestos-related diseases (ARD) continued to grow during 2019. When deaths from mesothelioma, lung cancer, ovarian and larynx cancers and asbestosis were added together, there were a total of 241,764 ARD deaths in 2019; in 2016 and 2017 there were 224,918 and 234,904 deaths, respectively, from ARDs (see:GBD asbestos mortality estimates 2013-2019). See: The Global Burden of Diseases, Injuries, and Risk Factors Study (GBD) 2019: GBD Compare.
 

Raising Asbestos Awareness

Oct 19, 2020

An article uploaded to a Chinese language website on October 15, 2020 listed asbestos as the first of eight known causes of cancer and warned people to avoid exposure to products containing it. If occupational exposures cannot be avoided, then individuals should take precautionary measures such as changing work clothes before returning home. China is one of the world’s largest asbestos-producing and consuming countries. See: 原创 随处可见这种物质,却是可怕的1类致癌物!为了健康,请远离这8种 [This kind of substance can be seen everywhere, but it is a terrible Class 1 carcinogen! For health reasons, please stay away from these 8].
 

20th Century Legacy, 21st Century Hazard

Oct 19, 2020

Politicians in the Canadian city of Sarnia are supporting efforts by local people, including members of the groups Coalition for a Better St. Catharines and Sarnia’s Victims of Chemical Valley, to force federal and provincial governments to take ownership of the hazard posed by asbestos contamination of derelict industrial sites and force former owners to remediate premises and surrounding land. Of particular concern is the ~22 hectare property on Ontario Street that until 2010 was the location of the GM plant in St. Catharines, Ontario; the property was put up for sale in 2019 by Bayshore Groups. See: Sarnia mayor and others sound alarm over possible asbestos on former St. Catharines GM site.
 

2021 Virtual Mesothelioma Conference

Oct 19, 2020

The meeting of the International Mesothelioma Group (iMig) due to take place in Brisbane, Australia in 2020 has been postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. On October 15, 2020, iMig’s organizers announced that a virtual meeting of iMig will be held on May 7-9, 2021: “While we won’t get to meet in person,” they wrote “we look forward to providing a virtual experience that is accessible worldwide and to enable attendees to access the latest research in mesothelioma through a new format.” The last two iMig meetings took place in Ottawa, Canada (2018) and Birmingham UK (2015). See: Announcement: iMig 2021 is Going Virtual!
 

A Toxic Town

Oct 16, 2020

As the election proceeds in the former mining town of Asbestos for a new name, business leaders have been speaking about problems they experienced with the town’s original name. These include both professional and personal difficulties such as problems at border crossings for delivery vehicles, mistrust by potential business partners and reluctance to interact with “Asbestrians” by foreigners afraid of contamination. The new name, chosen by the electorate including anyone over 14 years old, is scheduled to be announced on October 19, 2020. See: Un nom lourd à porter pour des gens d’affaires [A heavy name to bear for business people].
 

Asbestos Anxiety at Renault

Oct 16, 2020

On October 13, 2020 a hearing took place – which had been postponed from Spring 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic – at the Lyon industrial tribunal, to consider cases brought by 200 former Renault workers from the company’s Vénissieux factory over asbestos anxiety, a psychological condition caused by the knowledge that the claimants had been occupationally exposed to asbestos. Another hearing is listed for November 2020 which will examine similar accusations from 1,200 other Renault workers. See: Amiante à Renault Trucks: les ex-salariés veulent la reconnaissance de leur "préjudice d'anxiété" [Asbestos at Renault Trucks: Ex-employees want recognition of their “Asbestos Anxiety”].
 

Asbestos Management in Schools

Oct 16, 2020

On October 14, 2020, the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) issued new guidance about “Asbestos Management in Schools.” The HSE upload used case studies to illustrate actions that must be taken prior to the commencement of replacement, refurbishment or demolition work that could disturb asbestos at schools or colleges. Mandatory measures covered in the HSE document included the compilation of an asbestos survey, the use of certified asbestos removal operatives, updating of existing asbestos registers and asbestos management plans, and the safe and approved disposal of asbestos-containing waste generated by the work. See: Asbestos management in schools.
 

Japan’s Mesothelioma Epidemic

Oct 16, 2020

According to Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare there have been 26,608 deaths since 1995 from the signature asbestos cancer, mesothelioma and the number of deaths “is expected to increase in the future,” due to the country’s widespread and heavy use of asbestos throughout the 20th century. A comparison between asbestos consumption data, asbestos regulations and incidences of disease from Japan and the UK supported the prediction that mesothelioma mortality in Japan will continue to increase for some years to come. See: アスベストの脅威続く 中皮腫死すでに2万6608人 被害予測は10万人超 [Asbestos threat continues, mesothelioma deaths already 26,608, damage forecast exceeds 100,000 people].
 

Mesothelioma Treatment: Update

Oct 16, 2020

Norwegian biopharmaceutical company Bergenbio announced that treatment had started in a clinical trial assessing the efficacy of bemcentinib for patients with relapsed malignant mesothelioma as part of a UK trial sponsored by the University of Leicester and supported by the British Lung Foundation. According to Director of the Leicester Clinical Trials Unit, Professor Anne Thomas, Professor Dean Fennell and Dr Matthew Krebs were leading the research team and the commencement of treatment represented “the culmination of three years' work. The ultimate output of this study will,” he said “be the potential to provide benefit to the MPM population.” See: Bergenbio: Announces First Patient Dosed with Bemcentinib in Relapsed Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma Investigator Sponsored Phase IIA Study.
 

Another Mesothelioma Death in Japan

Oct 14, 2020

The mesothelioma death was reported on October 12, 2020 of 51-year old Eri Matsui, a Japanese mother of two who was exposed as a child to asbestos liberated by a water pipe factory near her home in Saitama City. Ms. Matsui endured a protracted battle for recognition and compensation against those she considered responsible for her disease and became a leading campaigner in the fight to raise awareness of the asbestos hazard. A documentary film entitled “Playing with the glowing sand as a child” about Japan’s toxic asbestos legacy in which she had a feature role was released a mere eight days before she died. See: アスベスト被害者 松井絵里さん逝去 [Asbestos victim Eri Matsui passes away].
 

Landmark Legal Proceedings Begin!

Oct 14, 2020

For decades, asbestos victims in France have been calling for a criminal trial of those behind the country’s fatal epidemic of asbestos cancers and diseases. On October 16, proceedings before the Paris Court of Appeal will seek to overturn decisions absolving executives and decision makers of negligence over their part in the catastrophe which continues to claim thousands of lives every year. Lawyers representing victims will argue that a report by expert witnesses relied upon by judges had been misinterpreted. “Investigating judges,” the claimants say “should therefore have concluded that it was possible… to determine the periods of exposure during which the victims were contaminated with asbestos…” See: Mettre fin au scandale judiciaire de l’amiante [Ending the asbestos legal scandal].
 

Another Avoidable Asbestos Death

Oct 14, 2020

The death of 61-year old Francesco Anzalone brings to 31 the number of former workers of Isochimica di Avellino who died from asbestos-related diseases. Despite his efforts to improve workplace conditions, in the 1980s Mr. Anazlone’s job brought him into daily contact with asbestos insulation on railway carriages being repaired at the Borgo Ferrovia workshops. He died three years after having been diagnosed with the signature asbestos cancer, mesothelioma. See: Muore ex operaio dell'Isochimica di Avellino: 31esima vittima dell'amianto [A former worker of Isochimica di Avellino dies: 31st victim of asbestos].
 

Municipal Identity Crisis

Oct 14, 2020

A feature article reviewing identity issues of towns saddled with toxic, rude, or comical names examined the problems being faced by municipal authorities attempting to rebrand a former mining town in Quebec called “Asbestos.” Despite the cost of the renaming process, estimated at US$100,000 the town’s leaders are optimistic it will be beneficial in the long run. According to Asbestos town councillor Caroline Payer: “We are losing great business opportunities just because of our name… It’s very sad.” See: Why the Canadian town of Asbestos wants a new name.
 

Supporting Asbestos Victims in Cádiz

Oct 14, 2020

The Mayor of San Fernando, in the Spanish Province of Cádiz met last week with the directors of a local asbestos victims’ group to express support for people affected by occupational asbestos exposures in the Naval sector, which included workers from the three shipyards in the Bay of Cádiz. Asbestos exposures at these workplaces took place initially during the construction of boats and more latterly during repair work. In the Bay of Cádiz there are around 10,000 former shipyard employees and many more family members whose health could also have been affected via take-home exposures. See: Cavada muestra su apoyo a la Asociación de Afectados por el Amianto en el Sector Naval [Cavada shows its support for the Association of People Affected by Asbestos in the Naval Sector].
 

International Burden of Mesothelioma

Oct 14. 2020

A paper entitled “Burden of Mesothelioma Deaths by National Income Category: Current Status and Future Implications” was published last month (September 2020) by international researchers. The authors found that the majority of mesothelioma deaths which had been reported to the World Health Organization had been contracted in high income or middle income countries. Going forward, the scientists predicted that: “mesothelioma burdens will likely manifest soon in upper middle-income and eventually in low and lower middle-income countries.” Asbestos consuming countries were urged “to stop using all types of asbestos” as per WHO policy. See: Burden of Mesothelioma Deaths by National Income Category: Current Status and Future Implications.
 

Asbestos & COVID-19 in Montana

Oct 13 2020

The people of Libby, Montana know all about living with an invisible killer. The operations of the vermiculite mine dispersed asbestos fibers throughout the town for decades, as a result of which many people who never worked at the mine contracted asbestos-related diseases by just breathing the air. The contamination which scarred their lungs makes them particularly vulnerable to complications from COVID-19. According to Dr. Miles Miller from Libby’s Center for Asbestos Related Diseases, at least 1 in 10 people in Libby have an asbestos-related illness which would compromise their recovery from the virus. See: COVID-19 Stalks A Montana Town Already Grappling with Asbestos Disease.
 

From Asbestos City to Smart City?

Oct 13, 2020

Plans have been announced to build a smart city in the Zimbabwe town of Zvishavane, home to the country’s only chrysotile asbestos mine. Sharon Valley will be Zimbabwe’s first privately owned city and will have state of the art infrastructure and facilities. Zvishavane was first developed to house workers from the asbestos mine which began operations in 1916; it had been non-operational for years until the government started rehabilitation work on it some while ago. Tens of thousands of tonnes of asbestos mining waste are scattered throughout the Zvishavane area. See: Sharon Valley builds smart city.
 

Funding for Asbestos Research Center

Oct 13, 2020

It was announced last week, that the outstanding work being done in Western Australia’s National Centre for Asbestos Related Diseases (NCARD) to improve protocols for the diagnosis and treatment of mesothelioma and lung cancer had been recognized by a federal grant of $2.5 million. Welcoming the award, NCARD’s Director Professor Anna Nowak explained that the funding was vital to keep researchers “at the forefront of discovering health and medical solutions for those with serious health conditions.” See: $5 million in federal funding to help improve health of Australians.
 

Asbestos Offensive in Russia

Oct 13, 2020

Industry propaganda masquerading as legitimate online content promoted sales of Russian chrysotile asbestos by listing multiple advantages of using chrysotile products such as their “affordability” and efficacy, all the while omitting to mention the fact that exposure to these products can cause a variety of cancers and respirable diseases. “Chrysotile asbestos products are,” the author wrote “time-tested and proven to be of high quality… The use of chrysotile cement products saves money for other projects.” See: Как продукция из хризотил-асбеста поможет сэкономить, не потеряв в качестве [How chrysotile asbestos products can help you save money without losing quality].
 

Call for Kenya to Ban Asbestos

Oct 12, 2020

A commentary by political economist Dr Ndonye examined the hidden danger posed to Kenyans from asbestos contamination of the country’s infrastructure. The author highlighted the country’s devastatingly high incidence of cancer mortality and the fact that asbestos had still not been banned in Kenya. A report in 2013 by the National Environmental Management Authority to safeguard human health by managing asbestos waste provided no follow-up plan or regulatory regime for enforcement. “Sadly,” Dr. Ndonye wrote: “Kenya is still dragging its feet. How many lives should be lost for the government to treat asbestos as the killers that they are?” See: Why NEMA must enforce Pulling down Killer Asbestos Roofing.
 

Asbestos Rally in Tokyo

Oct 12, 2020

On October 8, 2020 campaigners supporting the legal rights of construction workers to be compensated for asbestos-related diseases held an outdoor rally at the Hibiya Open Air Concert Hall in Tokyo, to highlight their demand in anticipation of an expected ruling by the Supreme Court. The demonstrators were calling for relief for all the victims and the establishment of a compensation fund. Mitsuo Yoshida, Chair of the trade union Zenken Soren, told the meeting that: “The responsibility of the government and building material manufacturers is clear. We should try to resolve them [these cases] during the lifetime of the plaintiffs.” See: 建設石綿訴訟全面解決を [Complete resolution of construction asbestos proceedings].
 

Justice for Montefibre workers?

Oct 12, 2020

On October 8, 2020 Italy’s Supreme Court overturned a ruling by the Turin Appeal Court which had acquitted former managers of the Montefibre company – that had closed in 1983 – of manslaughter, over asbestos deaths of employees. The case against the defendants: Luigi Ceriani, Giorgio Mazzanti, Gianluigi Poletti, Bruno Quaglieri and Carlo Vannini will return to the Turin Appeal Court. See: Amianto. “Sentenza storica Cassazione che ha annullato assoluzione dirigenti Montefibre di Verbania-Pallanza” [Asbestos. “Historical Supreme Court ruling cancels the acquittal of Montefibre executives of Verbania-Pallanza”].
 

Alert over Toxic Products for Children

Oct 12, 2020

In an article for Russian parents about the hazards of toxic products in consumer goods, the author highlighted the dangers of asbestos-riddled talcum powder in cosmetics used for children: “Laboratory tests have identified residues of carcinogenic asbestos in talcum-based cosmetics for children and adolescents. Geologically, asbestos is usually found in the same rock where talc is mined. There is no safe level of exposure to asbestos, which can settle deep in the lungs and cause mesothelioma or other fatal diseases decades after exposure.” See: МАМА ПРИУЧИЛА: 6 ИНГРЕДИЕНТОВ, КОТОРЫХ НЕ ДОЛЖНО БЫТЬ В КОСМЕТИКЕ [Mothers Warning: 6 Ingredients that Should Not be in Cosmetics].
 

Wales Update: New Mesothelioma Project

Oct 12, 2020

A two-year project has been launched by Mesothelioma UK to support patients suffering from the asbestos cancer mesothelioma, in Wales. The initiative, which is being funded by a grant from the Burdette Trust for Nursing, will be led by Mesothelioma UK Clinical Nurse Specialist for Wales, Sarah Morgan who said: “Many cancer patients and cancer services have been badly affected by the recent pandemic and none more so than the mesothelioma patients and services. The need for an All Wales approach to specialist services for mesothelioma has never been more urgent.” See: New project to support asbestos cancer patients in Wales.
 

Asbestos Discovery in Cosmetics

Oct 12, 2020

An investigation by the Dutch current affairs program EénVandaag this week revealed the presence of asbestos fibers in cosmetic products sold in the Netherlands. After repeated testing by laboratories in in Holland and the US, the asbestos contamination of two products by the retail chain Hema and cosmetic company Douglas was confirmed. Responding to these findings, the companies which produced “B.A.E loose powder foundation 2nd skin” and “My Cheek Palette Blush” withdrew them from sale; they are now back on the shelves as the manufacturers say that results of tests they commissioned had shown the products were free of asbestos. See: Asbestos found in Hema, Douglas makeup.
 

Asbestos Cancer: Another Tragedy

Oct 9, 2020

A press release issued by the asbestos victims’ group (AFeVA) in Emilia Romagna, Italy on October 7, 2020 announced the mesothelioma death of Luciano Tonioni who, like so many AFeVA members, was exposed to asbestos at the Bologna railway repair workshop. Mr. Tonioni, who was diagnosed in January, 2020 aged 76, was a sheet metal worker at the Via Casarini [Casarini Street] workshop from 1972 to l978. His funeral is today (October 9, 2020). See: COMUNICATO STAMPA AFeVA Emilia Romagna [PRESS RELEASE AFeVA Emilia Romagna].
 

Launch of Asbestos-free Brake Pads

Oct 9, 2020

In the world’s biggest asbestos-producing nation and the spiritual home of the global asbestos lobby, news that an asbestos-free line of brake pads has been launched is of great import. One of the unique selling points of TMD Friction’s new epad series of Textar brake pads for the Russian and CIS markets is the fact that these products are free of asbestos. Despite their lack of asbestos, the new pads are, according to the company, “distinguished by improved characteristics: no noise during braking, the formation of a small amount of wear products, as well as a shorter braking distance in most road situations.” See: Textar представил новые тормозные колодки [Textar introduces new brake pads].
 

Asbestos Audit Protocol

Oct 9, 2020

The French Ministry of Labor published two texts on legal duties to identify asbestos before the commencement of programs of work. The first document explained the responsibilities of professional or private duty holders, pointing out that two million workers are still at-risk from workplace exposures. The second document examined the few exemptions from mandatory obligations to conduct asbestos audits prior to beginning work. See: Obligations de repérage amiante avant travaux: le rappel du Ministère du Travail [Asbestos identification obligations before work: a reminder from the Ministry of Labor].
 

Mesothelioma in Hong Kong

Oct 9, 2020

A lengthy and informative Chinese feature article marked International Mesothelioma Day with an interview with 72-year old Huang Bo, who was employed at Hong Kong’s Taikoo Dockyard for 50 years. In 2019, Mr. Bo was diagnosed with the asbestos-related cancer, mesothelioma. At no time was he or his colleagues informed about the nature of the toxic product they worked with and they were never provided with protective equipment or clothing. There were 232 cases of mesothelioma diagnosed in Hong Kong between 2006 and 2015. The import, transshipment, supply and use of all types of asbestos and asbestos-containing materials are now banned in Hong Kong. See: 國際間皮瘤關注日 [International Mesothelioma Awareness Day].
 

Johnson & Johnson $100 Million Settlement

Oct 8, 2020

On October 5, 2020, news was released that Johnson & Johnson (J&J) had come to a $100 million agreement to settle over 1,000 cases concerning cancers caused by use of its talc-based baby powder, despite its continued reassurances that its iconic product was free from asbestos. According to a company statement: “In certain circumstances, we do choose to settle lawsuits, which is done without an admission of liability and in no way changes our position regarding the safety of our products…” Although J&J has withdrawn this product from sale in North America it continues to market it in markets around the world. See: J&J to pay more than US$100M to end over 1,000 talc suits.
 

Asbestos in the Water?

Oct 8, 2020

An investigation into the widespread presence of asbestos-cement pipes in water delivery systems in Western Canada reveals a disconnect between state-of-the-art knowledge about the hazards posed by the deterioration of these pipes and accepted practice in prairie cities, with only 1 in 13 contacted testing fiber levels in water every year. The limited testing protocol is in Regina which only tests samples from one place in the city every year. This practice is inadequate according to US and Canadian experts. See: Testing the waters: Do Regina's asbestos-cement water mains pose a risk?
 

Asbestos in Schools

Oct 8, 2020

Pursuant to a national project to make schools in Korea fit for purpose, asbestos contamination in half the country’s 10,000 elementary, middle and high schools has been remediated. According to Representative Kim Byung-wook of the National Assembly's Board of Education: "It is important to provide high-quality education to children, but it is also very important to create an environment in which children can live in a safe and comfortable environment. We need to secure it,” he said. See: 전국 초중고 석면 제거율 절반 [Half of asbestos removal in elementary, middle and high schools achieved nationwide].
 

Basque Victim’s Legal Victory

Oct 8, 2020

A Basque Court in Donostia, Northern Spain ordered the defendant – Construcciones y Auxiliar de Ferrocarriles (Construction & Other Railway Services/CAF) – to pay compensation of €133,665 to the family of a worker who died from asbestosis as a result of workplace exposures to asbestos. The deceased had worked as a boilermaker from 1973 to 1999 at the Irun and Beasain CAF factories. Arguments by CAF’s legal team that the size of the compensation payment should be halved because of the worker’s smoking history were rejected. See: CAF tendrá que indemnizar a un muerto por amianto [CAF will have to pay compensation for asbestos death].
 

Removal of Asbestos-cement Pipes

Oct 8, 2020

On October 5, 2020, a document was uploaded which provided operating instructions for employers for the safe removal of asbestos-cement underground water pipes in accordance with Italian legislation as per Article 256 of Legislative Decree 81/2008, subsequent amendments and Ministerial Decrees. Italy banned asbestos use in 1992 and has been at the forefront of EU countries working to eradicate the asbestos hazard. See: Le istruzioni per la rimozione di tubazioni in cemento Amianto [Instructions for removing asbestos cement pipes].
 

New Mesothelioma Treatment

Oct 7, 2020

On October, 2020, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the combination of nivolumab plus ipilimumab as first-line treatment for adult patients with unresectable malignant pleural mesothelioma, after studying the results of a randomized, open-label trial in patients with unresectable malignant pleural mesothelioma and no prior anticancer therapy. The trial demonstrated a statistically significant improvement in overall survival for patients treated with nivolumab plus ipilimumab compared with those who received chemotherapy. See: FDA approves nivolumab and ipilimumab for unresectable malignant pleural mesothelioma.
 

Renaming Asbestos!

Oct 7, 2020

Last week, the town council of Asbestos unveiled a new list of potential names for voters in the former Quebec mining town to consider. The first panel of names released by the was met with derision. The names on the list released on October 2, 2020 included: L'Azur-des-Cantons, Larochelle, Val-des-Sources, Phénix and Trois-Lacs. The vote on the new name is scheduled to take place later this month (October 2020). The purpose of the name change is to dissociate the town from its mining history. See: ‘Jeffrey’ rejected: Que. town of Asbestos releases second list of possible new names.
 

James Hardie Puts Victims Last Again

Oct 7, 2020

James Hardie (JH) – also known as Australia’s “Killer Company” from the deadly impact of its decades-long asbestos operations – has ceased making an annual contribution of $500,000 towards research efforts into asbestos-related diseases. Pursuant to an agreement with the Australian Government, JH had committed to a 10-year agreement worth $5 million to Australian research institutes. As soon as the ten years had elapsed (in 2018), so did JH’s donations. See: James Hardie stopped funding asbestos research the moment it could.
 

Asbestos Prosecutions

Oct 7, 2020

On October 1, 2020 the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) released an article reminding duty holders of their obligations under The Control of Asbestos Regulations (CAR) 2012. The HSE publication cited prosecutions which resulted in substantial financial penalties for companies breaching provisions of the CAR: Newnham College Cambridge pleaded guilty to breaching Regulations 5 and 16 of the CAR 2012 and was fined £12,000 and ordered to pay costs of £4,450.28; Labform Ltd. was fined £22,400 plus £11,700 costs for four breaches of the CAR 2012. See: Two prosecutions by the HSE highlight what asbestos refurbishment and asbestos demolition surveys do and why they are needed.
 

Addressing Korea’s Asbestos Legacy

Oct 7, 2020

On September 28, 2020, it was announced that a business agreement had been signed by the Incheon Metropolitan City Corporation and the Asbestos Damage Prevention Center to reduce toxic asbestos exposures and raise asbestos awareness in Incheon via the introduction of new management supervision tools to prevent asbestos damage, training for operatives working in the field of asbestos and collaboration on projects to prevent asbestos damage. See: 인천도시공사, 석면피해예방 업무협약(MOU) 체결 [Incheon City Corporation, asbestos damage prevention business agreement (MOU) signed].
 

Asbestos Ban Bill: Update

Oct 5, 2020

Hopes were dashed on September 29, 2020 when the House of Representatives failed to pass a bill – H. R. 1603 – banning asbestos in the US. Commentators from the Democratic Party claimed that the bill’s progress had been stalled by Republicans over potential legal ramifications the legislation might have had on toxic talc lawsuits. Expressing his disappointment over this turn in events, Frank Pallone Jr., Chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, said: “Everyone should be able to support a ban on this known carcinogen, which has no place in our consumer products or processes. More than 40,000 Americans die every year from asbestos exposure, but Republicans are willing to look the other way.” See: Asbestos ban stalls in Congress amid partisan fight.
 

Claimant’s Victory

Oct 5, 2020

An asbestos trial due to commence in the Pamplona Palace of Justice last week was pre-empted when a defendant which inherited the claim from a company it had acquired agreed to settle the case. Teo Vila, who died in February 2016 from an asbestos-related cancer, had worked for Laminaciones de Lesaka (now Arcelor Mittal) for 30 years. Proceedings were brought by his family supported by the LAB trade union for toxic workplace exposures which, the plaintiffs alleged, had caused Mr. Vila’s death. The widow and her daughter received €133,000 and €27,000, respectively. See: Indemnizan a una familia por la muerte por amianto de un trabajador [A family is compensated for the asbestos death of a worker].
 

Mesothelioma Mortality: New Data

Oct 5, 2020

Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare expects the annual number of mesothelioma deaths to increase although figures just released showed a slight decline. There were 1,466 mesothelioma deaths in 2019 compared to 1,512 in 2018, with the highest incidence of mortality in Osaka (148), Tokyo (123) and Hyogo (107). Since 1995, there has been a total of 26,608 mesothelioma deaths in Japan. The Japanese government recognizes that most people who contract mesothelioma were exposed to asbestos. See: 昨年の中皮腫死1466人 ワースト3は大阪・東京・兵庫 推定原因はほぼアスベスト [Mesothelioma deaths in 2019 were 1466; worst affected areas were: Osaka, Tokyo, Hyogo. Probable cause of these deaths was almost certainly exposure to asbestos].
 

Addressing Scotland’s Asbestos Legacy

Oct 5, 2020

Clinical Nurse Specialist Carolyn MacRae has been appointed the leader of a team of specialist asbestos cancer nurses for Scotland in a post funded by Mesothelioma UK and the Glasgow-based campaigning group: Action on Asbestos. Welcoming this news, Mesothelioma UK’s Head of Nursing Lorraine Creech said: “Our partnership working with the Macmillan Scottish Mesothelioma Network has been the springboard for this role and we now have five Mesothelioma UK Clinical Nurse Specialists and one Pleural Specialist Nurse in an affiliated role throughout Scotland. We also have a further post in the planning stage.” See: UK Team Leader appointed in Scotland for asbestos-related cancer patients.
 

Asbestos in Schools: Charges!

Oct 2, 2020

On September 30, 2020, three officials – including former superintendent Alexis Kirijan of the Scranton, Pennsylvania school district – were charged with felony child endangerment over allegations that they had known about asbestos and lead contamination in Scranton schools but failed to take remedial action. The other defendants charged were former Director of Operations Jeffrey Brazil and current maintenance supervisor Joseph Slack. Allegations regarding the knowledge that officials had had regarding unsafe conditions at the schools had previously been made by current and former Scranton employees in a federal lawsuit. See: School officials charged over lead, asbestos contamination.
 

Grenfell Tower: Asbestos Fallout

Oct 2, 2020

A document entitled Health Risk Assessment of asbestos air quality monitoring results: Grenfell Tower, which was published on September 17, 2020 by Public Health England, examined the potential health risks posed by airborne asbestos in the aftermath of the June 14, 2017 fire. According to the report “on the basis of the monitoring data provided, it is considered by Public Health England that any additional risks to public health from the storage and movement of the bags of material would be low. The monitoring indicated that the risks from asbestos fibres on-site are not distinguishable from expected levels in the environment.” See: Health Risk Assessment of asbestos air quality monitoring results: Grenfell Tower.
 

Asbestos Anxiety

Oct 2, 2020

On September 25, 2020, after a protracted legal battle, the Douai Court of Appeal rejected an appeal by the Bosch company and recognized the rights of 387 former employees from a factory closed in 2009 to be compensated for asbestos anxiety. The claimants will, according to their lawyer Mr. Vrillac, each receive the sum of €8,000 (US$~9,400) by the end of 2020. The day before this verdict was handed down the Court of Appeal in Nancy awarded former workers from the Baccarat glass factory €9,000 each for asbestos anxiety. See: Beauvais: les ex-Bosch obtiennent la reconnaissance de leur préjudice d’anxiété lié à l’amiante [Beauvais: ex-Bosch (workers) obtain recognition for their anxiety damage linked to asbestos].
 

Poor Remediation Efforts

Oct 2, 2020

In a recent speech made to the National Assembly of South Korea, Representative Ja Lim, from the North Gyeongsang constituency, condemned Korea’s failure to expeditiously deal with the health hazards posed by the continuing presence of asbestos-containing products within the national infrastructure. Rep. Lim said: “The victims and their families are still suffering a lot from asbestos… It is urgent to improve the slow speed of [asbestos] remediation through expansion of the capacity to remove goods containing asbestos, a first-class carcinogen.” See: 임이자 의원, 석면 슬레이트 건축물 5년간 8.8% 처리불과 [Rep. Lim Isa, 8.8% of asbestos slate buildings remediated].
 

Calls to Deport Asbestos Lobby

Oct 1, 2020

On September 21, 2020, a letter was sent to the Premier of Quebec François Legault written by eminent Canadian health and safety campaigners calling on him to take action on the status of the International Chrysotile Association (ICA) – the mouthpiece of the global asbestos lobby – which is registered in Quebec as a non-profit organization. According to Quebec regulations, such bodies must promote the public good; the ICA promotes sales of a known carcinogen. The Companies Act requires that an organization have a representative who is physically present in Quebec; the ICA’s contact is resident in Europe. For this and other reasons, the ICA should be deregistered. See: Quebec government asked to stop assisting asbestos lobby to harm populations overseas.
 

Tragic Legacy for Railway Workers

Oct 1, 2020

Hundreds of former workers exposed routinely to asbestos on the French railways (SNCF) continue to wait for their day in court. In an ongoing legal action, 200 employees from the Oullins railway center have lodged complaints, in collaboration with their trade union, at the court in Lyon relating to toxic workplace exposures which have led to the condition known as asbestos anxiety. Efforts by SNCF lawyers to have the case dismissed have failed but due to the court’s backlog, a trial date is at least 18 months away. See: Près de 200 plaintes déposées à Lyon par des cheminots exposés à l'amiante dans un centre de la SNCF [Nearly 200 complaints filed in Lyon by railway workers exposed to asbestos in a SNCF center].
 

Asbestos Alert by Trade Union

Oct 1, 2020

The Spanish trade union CCOO – since the 1970s, the Comisiones Obreras has been the largest trade union in Spain – has issued public warnings about the health hazards posed by the illegal and widespread dumping of asbestos-containing waste, with its Secretary of Occupational Health explaining that: “In the entire southern and industrial area of Madrid you can see illegal dumping of garbage because they are depopulated areas without constant surveillance, and that is where we have located asbestos.” See: Los vecinos del sur, en riesgo por los vertidos ilegales de Amianto [Residents to the south at risk from illegal asbestos dumping].
 

Schools’ Asbestos Eradication Program

Oct 1, 2020

Work was carried out – commissioned by the Seoul Metropolitan Government and the Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education – during the Summer holidays of 2020 to remediate asbestos at 18 schools in the Korean capital. Follow-up investigations and testing revealed that the indoor air at 112 locations in the schools was within acceptable standards. This program was the first of its kind in Korea. See: 서울시내 석면 해체·제거 공사 학교 모두 석면으로부터 안전 [Asbestos demolition and removal construction schools in Seoul are all safe from asbestos].
 

Asbestos TV Documentary: Malta

Sep 29, 2020

On September 25, 2020 a TV documentary by Liam Carter entitled “Mewta Siekta” [Silent Death] was broadcast in Malta. The film examined the plight of former drydock workers who were occupationally exposed to asbestos and, as a result, are now suffering from life-threatening conditions. Medical experts explained the health hazards posed by these exposures not only to the workers but also to the wives who washed contaminated work clothes. See: Silent death: The Drydock employees who died from asbestos exposure.
 

Asbestos Mining: A Constitutional Crisis

Sep 29, 2020

Although the Brazilian Supreme Court banned the commercial exploitation of asbestos in 2017, the Eternit-owned SAMA chrysotile asbestos mine is still operational under Goiás state law permitting mining to continue. The constitutional crisis revealed by this situation is explored in a blog by retired factory inspector Fernanda Giannasi who deplored the double standards of Eternit’s current policy promoting continued asbestos mining for export as “environmental racism.” See: Fernanda Giannasi (ABREA) comenta a entrevista do Presidente da Eternit, Luis Augusto Barbosa, à revista Exame, publicada em 23/9/2020 [Fernanda Giannasi (ABREA) comments on the interview of Eternit's President, Luis Augusto Barbosa, to Exame magazine, published on 9/23/2020].
 

Asbestos on the Balearic Islands

Sep 29, 2020

On September 24, 2020, an asbestos conference was held in Mallorca, Spain to examine the island’s legacy of widespread and uncontrolled use of toxic products. Experts who addressed the meeting highlighted the importance of a state-of-the-art professional approach to the serious issues of asbestos identification and management, warning that failure to take adequate precautions could result in hazardous exposures not only to workers but also to members of the public. See: El amianto genera problemas graves en la salud y requiere la gestión de profesionales acreditados [Asbestos generates serious health problems and requires the management of accredited professionals].
 

Asbestos Anxiety

Sep 28, 2020

On Thursday September 24, 2020, the Court of Appeal of Nancy, France recognized the condition of asbestos anxiety suffered by 264 former employees of the Baccarat crystal glassware factory in Baccarat, France. The claimants, part of the second asbestos class action against the company, were each awarded the sum of €9,000 (US$10,500). A third lawsuit on behalf of 153 more workers is pending. See: [Subscription] Amiante: le préjudice d’anxiété reconnu pour 264 ex-salariés de Baccarat [Asbestos: the prejudice of anxiety recognized for 264 former employees of Baccarat].
 

No “Social License” for Asbestos Use

Sep 28, 2020

In a press release by Eternit – Brazil’s former “Asbestos Giant” – the company finally admitted, three years after Brazil’s Supreme Court had banned asbestos, that it had no “social license” for the continued use of asbestos in Brazil. The company, which had been a stalwart defender of asbestos and even now continues to mine asbestos for export purposes only at its SAMA chrysotile mine, is publicly repositioning itself as a leader in green technology with its promotion of solar technology and photovoltaic roofing tiles. See: Após deixar o amianto e lançar telha de energia solar, a Eternit quer mais [After leaving asbestos and launching solar energy tiles, Eternit wants to expand].
 

Asbestos Diseases in Healthcare Sector

Sep 28, 2020

A new study by the University of Sheffield has highlighted the repercussions of the asbestos contamination of UK healthcare facilities and recommended that NHS staff and others employed in these premises be provided with training regarding the hazards of asbestos exposures. These actions would prevent avoidable exposures and reduce the incidence of asbestos cancers amongst healthcare workers. Welcoming this publication, Liz Darlison of Mesothelioma UK said: “Mesothelioma UK will ensure that this research raises awareness of the risk of exposure to healthcare staff and hopefully, improve the treatment and care given to them by medical teams and support agencies.” See: Include asbestos risk awareness in NHS staff training, study recommends.
 

Asbestos Waste: The Hazard

Sep 28, 2020

Last week Quercus, an environmental organization in Portugal, issued an alert over the improper dumping of asbestos in household waste, in the countryside and at abandoned quarries, reiterating warnings that a government ban on non-hazardous waste landfills receiving asbestos cement debris could lead to an increase in hazardous fly-tipping which could impact on both workers and members of the public. Should the situation continue, clean-up costs incurred by the government could be substantial. The lack of capacity for asbestos inspection and training of at-risk workers in Portugal, says Quercus, is a serious problem. See: Illegal asbestos dumping concerns.
 

Asbestos Crackdown

Sep 28, 2020

Investigators in Korea’s Gyeonggi Province who inspected 359 asbestos demolition sites between August 10 and 28, 2020 identified 27 incidents where amounts varying from 40 to 2,000 kilograms of asbestos-containing waste had been illegally collected, transported or dumped according to an announcement made on September 24, 2020 by the Gyeonggi Special Judicial Police Corps. Cases are being brought against all those companies responsible. See: 발암물질 폐석면 불법 처리 업체들 무더기 적발 [Illegal asbestos fly tipping company found].
 

NGOs’ Asbestos Alert

Sep 25, 2020

At a press conference in Seoul, Korea on September 21, 2020, spokepersons for the non-governmental organizations the Gwangju Environmental Movement Association and the Environmental Health Citizens’ Center announced that as a result of a 3-month investigation they could confirm the presence of tremolite asbestos fibers in cement and mortar products being sold in Korea. The NGOs urged the government to act not only on banning sales of these deadly products but also on identifying and protecting at-risk workers. See: 환경단체 “시판중인 백시멘트·황토모르타르에서 석면 검출” [Environmental organization “Detection of asbestos in commercially available white cement and loose mortar”].
 

Another Asbestos Scandal!

Sep 25, 2020

Multiple whistleblowers, including a former waste inspector, truck drivers and plant operators, have alleged that asbestos-contaminated soil was used to make “turf underlay” at Oran Park site, a development of 25,000 new homes in Sydney, Australia. Commenting on the allegations emeritus associate professor at Murdoch University and lead investigator in the Australian Asbestos Network project Gail Phillips said: “Without wanting to alarm people, this is a very worrying thing if asbestos is ending up in housing estates, because just one fibre being breathed in can cause health problems down the track.” According to media reports, an investigation is ongoing. See: Revealed: asbestos-contaminated waste found in landscaping material at new Sydney housing estate site.
 

Justice Delayed

Sep 25, 2020

There has been a last-minute postponement to the handing down of a statement by Investigating Magistrate María Isabel Garaizaba regarding charges of reckless homicide brought against seven defendants responsible for occupational health and safety at the company operating the Madrid Metro. The announcement scheduled for September 23, 2020 will now not be made until October 6 or 7. Hearings in this case over the deaths of two Metro workers have been ongoing for more than a year. The delay has brought condemnation from the Spanish trade union: CCOO. See: La juez del caso amianto suspende las declaraciones de este jueves ¡ [The judge of the asbestos case suspends Thursday’s declarations!]
 

Huge Fine for Illegal Dump

Sep 25, 2020

On September 21, 2020, High Court of Ireland judge Mr Justice Humphreys ordered mother and son Eileen and Fred Hendy to pay Meath County Council compensation of €6.26 million for contempt of court orders requiring them to deal with two illegal dumps containing 100,000 tonnes of waste, including asbestos debris, on their 253 acre farm in Enfield, County Meath. The Hendys had been given three years to take steps to clean up the site but had failed to do so as a result of which the Council would be tasked with commissioning contractors to undertake the remediation work. See: Mother and son fined €6.2m over failure to clean up illegal farm dumps.
 

Supporting Asbestos Interests

Sep 24, 2020

At a recent meeting with Denis Pasler, Governor of the Orenburg Region – home to one of the world’s largest chrysotile (white) asbestos mines – the Russian Minister of Industry and Trade Denis Manturov pledged the Federal Government’s support for the asbestos industry. Manturov said that the development of this industry is of importance to both regional and national economies. There was no mention in this article about the carcinogenicity of asbestos or the global campaign to ban asbestos use. See: Минпромторг РФ поддержит хризотиловую отрасль в Оренбуржье [The Ministry of Industry and Trade of the Russian Federation will support the chrysotile industry in the Orenburg region].
 

Is it a bird, a turtle or a carcinogen?

Sep 24, 2020

The process to rename the toxic Quebec mining town of “Asbestos” is not going very smoothly. Public consultations and deliberations were disrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic and now the shortlist of four names selected by municipal officials has been soundly rejected. None of the names chosen – Apalone, Jeffrey, Phenix and Trois-Lacs – has found favor with the public and as a result the town council has delayed the prospective October 2020 vote to consider options which might include expanding the list of potential names. See: Quebec town Asbestos, hits pause on name change process after citizen complaints.
 

Grant for UK Mesothelioma Charity

Sep 24, 2020

Mesothelioma UK, a charity supporting victims of asbestos cancer, has been awarded a £10,000 grant by The Burdett Trust for Nursing to develop a Mesothelioma Multi-Disciplinary Team in Wales and support work of clinical nurse specialists in delivering care to mesothelioma patients. Welcoming this donation, Mesothelioma UK’s Head of Nursing Lorraine Creech said: “This funding will help us to establish a better provision of specialist support and expertise for patients in Wales where there is currently no multi-disciplinary team for mesothelioma. The project in Wales will help to us to achieve our aim of ensuring equitable access to first-class treatment and care for all patients in the UK.” See: The Burdett Trust for Nursing awards grant to Mesothelioma UK.
 

Appeal by Asbestos Defendants

Sep 24, 2020

A decision handed down by the Tokyo District Court on September 4, 2020, against the Japanese Government and asbestos manufacturers, awarding compensation of 1.3 bn yen (US$12.2m) to 121 former workers who had contracted asbestos-related diseases has been appealed by three companies including the Nichias Corporation, a defendant in many Japanese asbestos lawsuits. In the Tokyo verdict, Judge Maezawa had been categorical about the guilt of the defendants: “Since 1975 at the latest, when dealing with asbestos, it has been obligatory to use warning signs and dust masks.” See: ニチアスら2社が控訴 石綿被害訴訟、東京 [Nichias and two other companies appeal asbestos damage lawsuit, Tokyo].
 

Building Diagnostic Capacity

Sep 22, 2020

On September 19, 2020, the Korean Environmental Industry and Technology Institute in collaboration with the Korean Radiological Society conducted an online training workshop for radiologists on the subject of: Reading Asbestos Disease Imaging. The initiative was part of national efforts to increase capacity and develop expertise so that earlier diagnoses of asbestos-related diseases are made. Successful participants will be eligible to work for the “Computed Tomography Photo Reading Advisory Group” that supports the Asbestos Damage Judgment Committee. See: 환경산업기술원, 석면질병 영상판독 교육 [Environmental Industry and Technology Institute, asbestos disease image reading education].
 

Asbestos in Schools

Sep 22, 2020

The Education Minister of the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) Yvette Berry last week confirmed that 69 schools in Canberra had hazardous materials including asbestos and lead on their premises. A sum of A$15 million allocated to clean up ACT schools will, she said, be rationed so that resources are used to prioritize remediation of the most hazardous situations first. Speaking on behalf of the ACT Green Party, Environmental spokeswoman Jo Clay said: “Children as well as teaching staff in schools and early-childhood centres have the right to work and play without damaging hazardous and toxic materials and chemicals in their immediate environments.” See: ACT Election: Almost 70 Canberra schools have lead or asbestos on site.
 

Asbestos in Paradise?

Sep 22, 2020

Work to remediate asbestos contamination on El Hierro, the smallest of the Canary Islands, was conducted last week by a specialist company at the behest of local councils. According to Councillor for the Environment, Waste and Recycling Montserrat Gutiérrez, work during the current phase removed, treated and disposed of 14 cubic meters of asbestos waste. The next phase of the program will focus on the removal of asbestos-containing products from residential properties. See: El Cabildo lleva a cabo una campaña de retirada de Amianto [Cabildo carries out an asbestos removal campaign].
 

Asbestos Waste Disposal Regime

Sep 22, 2020

The environmental Portuguese NGO Quercus and the asbestos victims support group SOS Amianto categorized the recent decision of the Portuguese Environment Agency (APA) to send asbestos waste to three landfill dumpsites in the Chamusca area as ill-considered. Representing these groups, Carmen Lima told journalists that the APA should delay making its final decision to allow other landfills time to implement protocols which would allow them to safely receive this waste. Additional criticism about the APA’s guidelines for the disposal of asbestos waste was discussed in this article. See: SOS Amianto e Quercus dizem que decisão de enviar todo o amianto para a Chamusca foi “precipitada” [SOS Asbestos and Quercus say the decision to send all asbestos to Chamusca was “hasty”].
 

Court of Shame!

Sep 21, 2020

The Brazilian Supreme Court has been soundly criticized over failing to convene a quorum of judges to hand down its decision on cases against the constitutionality of unilateral asbestos bans. On the court schedule for September 16, 2020 were cases against asbestos bans in the States of Pernambuco, Rio Grande do Sul and Rio de Janeiro and the municipality of São Paulo. Eight of the 11 Justices were required to appear in order to provide a quorum but three declined to take part due to potential conflicts of interest, one was absent without leave and one was on sick leave, leaving the bench two Justices short. See: Fernanda Giannasi: Mais uma vez o STF foge da briga com a indústria da fibra assassina [Fernanda Giannasi: Once again the Supreme Court dodges confrontation with the killer fiber industry].
 

Mesothelioma during Covid-19 Pandemic

Sep 21. 2020

A second study on the effects of the coronavirus pandemic on mesothelioma patients was published earlier this month by the UK charity Mesothelioma UK. Whereas the first study (May 2020) was based on feedback from patients and carers, this one was informed by the experiences of 20 Mesothelioma UK Nurses. This is an extremely interesting document which should be of interest not only to the mesothelioma community but also to a variety of experts studying the knock-on effects of the epidemic. Among the more chilling findings expressed was “Fear about contracting COVID, about not being considered eligible or worthy of COVID treatment and continual worry about their mesothelioma progressing whilst treatments were disrupted.” Download (PDF): COVID Impact Survey 2 - Sep 2020.
 

Victim’s Verdict in Fukuoka

Sep 21, 2020

On September 16, 2020, the Presiding Judge Atsushi Tokuchi of the Fukuoka District Court issued a ruling ordering the Kitakyushu Municipal Government and a building maintenance firm to pay compensation of ~26 million yen (US$246,000) to the family of a worker who died in 2013 aged 78 from asbestos-related lung cancer as a result of toxic workplace exposures at the Kitakyushu City General Gymnasium, a facility that was constructed using asbestos materials. This verdict is believed to be the first of its kind to recognize a municipal government's responsibility for asbestos management. See: Fukuoka court holds local gov't responsible for worker's asbestos exposure in Japan first.
 

Remediation of Imported Railway Cars

Sep 21, 2020

As a result of a project progressed by the environmental NGO Quercus and its partner SOS Asbestos, it was discovered that Portugal had purchased 51 railway units from the Spanish railway operator Renfe. All the vehicles were contaminated with asbestos. SOS Asbestos has been in contact with the Portuguese importer – Comboios de Portugal – to ascertain that asbestos removal specialists had been commissioned to remediate the trains prior to their being put into service in Portugal. See: SOS AMIANTO: Portugal usará comboios espanhóis, mas livres de Amianto [SOS Asbestos: Portugal will use Spanish trains, but with asbestos removed].
 

Mesothelioma and Smoking

Sep 21, 2020

Last week the Superior Court of Justice of the Basque Country (TSJPV) reversed an iniquitous ruling of Social Court No. 10 of Bilbao that had reduced by 20% compensation to the family of a subcontractor painter from the La Naval shipyard who died from asbestos cancer due to his smoking history. The Court, which found that there was no causal connection between tobacco consumption and the occurrence of mesothelioma, ordered the defendants to pay the full amount awarded. See: El TSJPV rechaza reducir la indemnización a un trabajador expuesto al amianto por ser fumador [The TSJPV refuses to reduce the compensation to a worker exposed to asbestos for being a smoker].
 

Town Seeks Non-Asbestos Option

Sep 18, 2020

In an attempt to distance itself from its toxic history, a former asbestos mining town in Quebec has constituted a short list from which residents can select a new name. The town’s original name of “Asbestos” was deemed unsuitable for the post-asbestos future now that Canada had banned the mining, sale and export of chrysotile (white) asbestos. At a meeting on September 14, 2020, the town council announced that the four names which had been chosen out of the 1,000 submitted were: Jeffrey (the mine’s original operator), Apalone (a turtle species), Phénix (a mythical bird) and Trois-Lacs (a neighborhood of the town). Residents 14 years and older will be eligible to vote during the October 2020 election. See: Asbestos in Quebec Shortlists Four New Names to Get Fresh Start.
 

Ending Asbestos Use in Asia

Sep 18, 2020

Campaigners are actively seeking reassurances from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) that it will honor promises made in 2019 to ban the use of asbestos in all of the projects it funds. The 2020 Annual Meeting of the ADB is taking place virtually this week and constitutes an opportunity for action to be taken to put this promise into policy say officials from Australia’s Union Aid Abroad (APHEDA). Current ADB Policy prohibits the use of raw asbestos in projects but allows the use of asbestos bonded cement sheets which are the most common asbestos-containing product used in Asia. See: Statement on Asian Development Bank Annual Meeting: ADB Must Clarify Asbestos Policy Now!
 

Asbestos at the Opera

Sep. 18, 2020

After an eight month suspension in proceedings, a trial has recommenced against defendants accused of negligence in failing to prevent asbestos-related deaths amongst artists and staff employed by La Scale Opera House. Five managers stand accused of manslaughter over the deaths of 12 former employees. According to a leading Italian expert Enzo Merler: “at La Scala, asbestos was widespread, present in the curtain… endangering not only those who worked in the theater but also the public [who were] unaware of the risks.” See: Morti d’amianto alla Scala, l’elenco si allunga [Deaths of asbestos at La Scala, the list gets longer].
 

Calls for Action on Illegal Dumping

Sep 18, 2020

The CCOO trade union is pressing Getafe City Council officials to take urgent action on the hazard posed by the illegal dumping of asbestos-contaminated waste with a CCOO spokesperson urging that proactive solutions be found and action coordinated with other localities be taken to prevent this toxic practice. Getafe was formerly the location of a factory which manufactured asbestos-cement products and which was owned by the Uralita company. See: CCOO exige una solución definitiva a los vertidos ilegales de Amianto [CCOO demands a definitive solution to illegal asbestos dumping].
 

Asbestos Science vs. Propaganda

Sep 17, 2020

The International Chrysotile Association (ICA), based in Quebec, is at the forefront of the lobby promoting the interests of asbestos stakeholders. ICA personnel disseminate fiction dressed up as fact to create a climate in which sales of chrysotile (white) asbestos can continue despite its acknowledged toxicity. Drawing on a war chest from industry supporters, asbestos lobbyists distort government findings, attack international agencies and disrupt proceedings to protect populations in their endless pursuit of profit. This article below provides details of the ways in which they do so and makes one wonder how such a body is allowed to continue to operate from Canada. See: Asbestos and fossil fuel industries continue to wage war on science.
 

Court Order Behind State Action?

Sep 17, 2020

Contamination at sites where tonnes of asbestos-contaminated mining waste remain constitute a potent threat to the health of people in 14 villages in the East Indian State of Jharkhand. When asbestos mining ceased in 1983, the sites were abandoned. Following surveying by the non-governmental organization Environics Trust, a lawsuit was brought in 2012 at the National Green Tribunal (NGT), on behalf of people who had contracted asbestos-related diseases. In January 2020, the NGT ordered the state government to protect the villagers; in August, Jharkhand State submitted plans for rehabilitation of the mines and community health surveillance. See: In Jharkhand’s Asbestos Clean-up, Victim Compensation Remains Elusive.
 

Asbestos Removal during a Pandemic

Sep 17, 2020

The harsh reality of life for asbestos abatement workers in New York City during Covid-19 was the focus of an insightful online article. Most of the workers who contributed to this piece were immigrants from Latin America or Eastern Europe who had few, if any, alternative sources of employment. New legislation has increased demands for asbestos removal but abatement workers are aware that their pay checks come with consequences: many of their colleagues have gotten sick or died from Covid-19 as well as asbestos-related diseases. A support group for NYC asbestos abatement workers has been founded to help them find safer employment. See: Asbestos Removal Is a Hard Job, but Covid-19 Makes It Harder.
 

Remediation of Toxic Trains

Sep 17, 2020

Fifty-one railways trains purchased, for €1.65 million by a Portuguese railway operator (CP) from the Spanish company Renfe, which were contaminated with asbestos have now been withdrawn from service. In order to increase the country’s transport capacity, the Portuguese Government had agreed to remove the asbestos and renovate the carriages so that they can be used on regional lines and for long-distance transport. See: Comboios comprados pela CP à Renfe foram retirados de serviço devido ao Amianto [Trains purchased by CP from Renfe were taken out of service due to asbestos].
 

Asbestos Remediation: Safe or Not?

Sep 16, 2020

Operations to remove asbestos from schools in the South Korean Province of Gyeongnam during the summer school holidays have been widely criticized by environmental groups, parents and concerned citizens who claim that operatives did not not minimize the release of asbestos fibers into the environment. On September 8, 2020, there was a demonstration in front of the Gyeongnam Provincial Office of Education over the unsafe practices. At the heart of the protest was dissatisfaction over the use of the contentious “asbestos glove bag method” to prevent atmospheric contamination. See: [사설] 끝없이 되풀이되는 학교석면 부실 철거 [Editorial: Endlessly recurring school asbestos demolition].
 

Deadly Asbestos Legacy

Sep 16, 2020

A recent feature article considers the nature of asbestos, its properties, uses and the dangers it continues to pose to people in Vietnam, a country where the consumption of chrysotile (white) asbestos remains legal. While acknowledging the serious consequences of exposure to the “silent killer” and the widespread failure to enforce health and safety protection for at-risk workers, the author highlighted multiple issues relating to the disposal of asbestos-contaminated waste and criticized current legislation and guidelines as too lax and confused to prevent toxic exposures. See: Cần loại bỏ có hệ thống và xử lý an toàn các sản phẩm chứa amiang [Products containing asbestos should be systematically disposed of and safely disposed of].
 

Asbestos Media Offensive

Sep 16, 2020

A Russian-language infomercial about asbestos on a Ukrainian website extolled the virtues of chrysotile asbestos, discounted reports regarding toxic consequences of occupational or environmental exposures and reasserted asbestos industry propaganda “that the use of chrysotile is harmless to human health under controlled use, because it does not cause serious consequences, such as cancer of the respiratory system.” The author explained that concerns over the global epidemic of asbestos-related deaths were part of a capitalist ploy driven by commercial motives. See: Асбест: вредность и опасность асбеста, воздействие минерала на организм человека [Asbestos: the harmfulness and danger of asbestos, the effect of the mineral on the human body].
 

Export of Toxic Trains

Sep 15, 2020

An extensive feature article uploaded on September 9, 2020, considered aspects of the international long-tail asbestos legacy as revealed by developments in Spain and Argentina. The export of hazardous technology from Spain in the form of asbestos-contaminated trains for use on the Buenos Aires Metro system was detailed, with a litany of examples provided documenting the knowledge that Spanish exporters had to hand regarding the deadly effects of toxic workplace exposure. The import, use and sale of asbestos is banned in Spain and in Argentina. See: De Madrid a Buenos Aires: el amianto, una ubicua "pandemia" cancerígena que ha dejado un rastro largo [From Madrid to Buenos Aires: Asbestos, a ubiquitous carcinogenic "pandemic" that has left a long trail].
 

Court Rejects Defendants’ Motions

Sep 15, 2020

At the end of last month (August 2020), the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey rejected motions by asbestos defendants Foster Wheeler and Westinghouse in a case brought for the mesothelioma death of Arthur Hammell, a serving member of the US Naval Reserve in 1962-64. The deceased, who was assigned to the U.S.S. Charles H. Roan, worked in boiler maintenance with equipment manufactured by the defendants, both of which asked the Court for a summary judgment on the basis that the plaintiff could not establish that the manufacturers had a duty to warn for injuries caused by asbestos [products] manufactured and furnished by third parties. See: Various Defendants’ Motion for Summary Judgment Denied on Duty to Warn in Naval Action.
 

Toxic Second-hand Trains?

Sep 15, 2020

By the end of 2020, 51 asbestos-contaminated railway cars purchased by Comboios de Portugal – the company operating Portugal’s national railway – will be put into service on the Miño railway line between Oporto and Valença. The trains, which were sold by the Spanish company Renfe Operadora for €1.65 million, were withdrawn from use because of the asbestos contamination. According to the Portuguese Government, the asbestos will be removed from the trains and the units will be modernized before they are made operational. See: Portugal usará los vagones de tren retirados en Galicia por portar Amianto [Portugal will use train wagons withdrawn in Galicia because of presence of asbestos].
 

Victim’s Verdict

Sep 15, 2020

The Royal Courts of Justice (London) handed down a claimant’s verdict on September 7, 2020 in a case brought by the widow of Martin Rix, a one-time carpenter and shopfitter who died of mesothelioma aged 60 in 2016. The defendant’s legal team argued that because of the ongoing financial success of the business Mr. Rix had created, his widow was not entitled to bring a claim for financial dependency arising from her husband’s death; Mr. Justice Cavanagh disagreed. See: High Court Decision September 7, 2020 in the case of Unice Rix vs. Paramount Shopfitting Company Ltd.
 

EPA Sued Over Missing Asbestos Data

Sep 14, 2020

Attorney Generals from several US states and campaigning groups are suing the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the Federal District Court for the Northern District of California over the EPA’s “arbitrary and capricious” decision to deny states’ previous petition that requested the EPA collect more data on imported asbestos under the authority granted in the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). All the asbestos fiber imported into the United States nowadays is chrysotile (white) asbestos from Russia. See: EPA’s Asbestos Problem: Pending Litigation and Draft Risk Evaluation.
 

Calls for Asbestos Ban

Sep 14, 2020

In a recent statement, Prof. Dr. Le Van Trinh – Chairman of the Vietnam Association for Occupational Safety and Hygiene – warned about the serious health hazard posed by the laxity of the current regime dealing with the disposal of asbestos-containing waste. As a result of inadequate government policies, the production, use, demolition and dumping of billions of square meters of asbestos-containing roofing sheets have caused widespread environmental contamination. Vietnam is one of the world’s largest asbestos users, importing 60,000 tons of asbestos fiber per year, according to government data. See: Cần loại bỏ các sản phẩm có chứa amiăng [Products containing asbestos should be eliminated].
 

Stricter Asbestos Regs for Quebec

Sep 14, 2020

A Quebec regulation to lower the admissible level of airborne asbestos concentration at workplaces to 0.1 fibers per cubic centimeter for six types of asbestos has been drafted following the publication of a seminal report (see: L’état des lieux et la gestion de l’amiante et des résidus miniers amianté [The inventory and management of asbestos and asbestos mine tailings]) on the Province’s asbestos policies. The consultation period about the legislation will end on October 10, 2020. See: Québec abaisse les seuils d’exposition à l’amiante pour les travailleurs [Quebec lowers asbestos exposure thresholds for workers].
 

Victim’s Ruling in Bilbao

Sep 14, 2020

An appeal by the Spanish steel-making company Sidenor against a 2019 order of the National Institute of Social Security awarding compensation to the relatives of a worker who died in 2018 from occupationally-contracted mesothelioma – the signature asbestos cancer – has been rejected by a Court in Bilbao. The Judge, who dismissed the appeal, ruled that the company had been negligent in not implementing measures to protect workers from asbestos exposures at its worksites until 2000. See: Un juzgado ratifica elevar la indemnización a la familia de un afectado por Amianto [A court confirms raising the compensation to the family of a person affected by asbestos].
 

Toxic Talc

Sep 14, 2020

Experts in Bangladesh, who have criticized the double standards of the US multinational Johnson & Johnson for continuing sales of talc-based baby powder outside the US and Canada whilst withdrawing it from North American markets, have called on the Bangladeshi Government to commission laboratory tests of this suspect product as a matter of priority. This is unlikely to take place as facilities in Bangladesh, reportedly, do not have the expertise or capacity to perform the required analyses. See: Experts urge govt to test Johnson & Johnson baby powder.
 

Scotland’s Asbestos Legacy

Sep 10, 2020

A 7-minute extract entitled A Mug’s Game performed by Jonathan Watson tells the story of a Scottish electrician exposed to asbestos throughout his career at a Clydebank shipyard. The work was taken from the play “Fibres” by Frances Poet and can be accessed on YouTube. It is part of Scenes for Survival, a new season of 50+ digital artworks created in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, and is well worth watching. The performance is outstanding and the script tells a tale which needs to be heard. See: A Mug’s Game [an extract from the play Fibres by Frances Poet].
 

Mitsubishi’s Asbestos Crimes

Sep 10, 2020

On September 2, 2020, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. of Japan announced that between October 2006 and July 2015 it had illegally sold and shipped asbestos-containing products for repairing engines used on ships, in power generation and for construction work, despite a national asbestos ban. The illegal parts had been made at the company’s plant in Sagamihara City. The company is in the process of setting up a call center to replace the toxic parts free of charge and facilitate the disposal of returned goods contaminated with asbestos. See: 三菱重工、建機エンジン部品でアスベスト含む製品販売 [Mitsubishi Heavy Industries sells products including asbestos for construction machinery engine parts].
 

Asbestos Disposal – Where?

Sep 10, 2020

A Portuguese environmental NGO: SOS Amianto [SOS Asbestos] has warned that the implementation of a Portuguese standard in April 2020 forbidding disposal of asbestos-containing cement debris at eight regulated dumpsites could lead to an increase in illegal fly-tipping. As of now, there is just one site in Portugal licensed to accept such waste and that is in Chamusca, a municipality in central Portugal which is about 110 kilometers from Lisbon. SOS Amianto has condemned the government’s failure to address the lack of regulated facilities at the same time as progressing the removal of asbestos-cement roofing from public buildings. See: SOS Amianto alerta para abandono ilegal de resíduos [SOS warns over illegal dumping of asbestos waste].
 

Grassroots Fight for Asbestos Justice

Sep 10, 2020

A newly published book by Professor John Trimbur examines the struggle by grassroots activists in a former asbestos mining region of South Africa for justice and compensation for the personal tragedies and community catastrophe caused by decades of asbestos mining. The author focused on the efforts of the non-governmental organization: the Asbestos Interest Group (AIG) over a fifteen year period; despite its “position on the periphery,” the AIG had “been able to enter the voices and interests of villagers into formerly inaccessible forums of deliberation and decision-making.” See: Grassroots Literacy and the Written Record: A Textual History of Asbestos Activism in South Africa.
 

Maritime Mystery?

Sep 10, 2020

The ultimate fate of the redundant Brazilian flagship aircraft carrier São Paulo has once again given cause for concern. The bidding process to acquire the vessel – which contains up to 900 tonnes of asbestos and asbestos-containing material as well as hundreds of tons of heavy metals and PCBs – was recently suspended without explanation and responsibility of the vessel reverted to the Brazilian Navy which, campaigners fear, might disregard international regulations and the purchase agreement with the French Government and dispose of the ship by selling it to a scrapping company in India. See: Decommissioned Clemenceau-class aircraft carrier returns to Brazilian Navy after bid suspended.
 

Claimants’ Verdict in Tokyo

Sep 8, 2020

Another legal victory was achieved on September 4, 2020 when asbestos claimants won their case in the Tokyo District Court against the Japanese Government and five manufacturers of asbestos-containing building materials. The Court awarded compensation of 1.3 billion yen (US$12.2m) to 121 plaintiffs who had contracted asbestos-related illnesses as a result of toxic exposures at construction sites in the Tokyo area. In the verdict, Judge Tatsuro Maezawa said: “Since 1975 at the latest, when dealing with asbestos, it has been obligatory to use warning signs and dust masks.” See: アスベスト訴訟 国とメーカーに13億円余の賠償命じる 東京地裁 [Asbestos Litigation Tokyo District Court ordering state and manufacturer compensation of over 1.3 billion yen].
 

Asbestos at School

Sep 8, 2020

Students and staff at the El-Habib-Noura College in the Algerian municipality of Bouzghaia remain at daily risk of asbestos exposures at their overcrowded 1980 prefabricated school erected in the aftermath of the El-Asnam earthquake. Parents of the 1,200+ students as well as staff members have raised their concerns about this hazardous situation on multiple occasions, to no avail, and are now calling for the construction of a new asbestos-free facility to replace the obsolete and deteriorating school. See: Plus de 1 200 collégiens menacés par l’amiante [More than 1,200 secondary school students threatened by asbestos].
 

Asbestos in Schools

Sep 8, 2020

Tests conducted by a specialized asbestos company in the chemistry building of the University of Friborg, Switzerland indicated the presence of asbestos in certain building products. According to the University, further readings showed no airborne asbestos fibers. Asbestos remediation work has been scheduled to address the hazard posed to students and staff by the contamination. The building will remain operational, albeit with additional security measures put in place, while the work is being done. See: Le bâtiment de chimie de l'Université de Fribourg sous observation [The chemistry building of the University of Friborg under observation].
 

Asbestos in the Metro: Update

Sep 8, 2020

On September 3, 2020, the company operating the rapid transit system in the Spanish capital – Metro de Madrid – announced that, as a result of pressure from trade unions, its medical surveillance program for asbestos-exposed workers was being expanded to include additional train drivers, machinists and training instructors. Medical examinations will now be available to 3,500 at-risk employees. Under the company’s first surveillance program only 1,000 maintenance workers were eligible for medical tests. See: Metro pacta con los sindicatos someter a vigilancia sanitaria específica del amianto a 3.500 empleados [Metro agrees with the unions to subject 3,500 employees to health surveillance specifically related to asbestos].
 

Asbestos in Schools: Update

Sep 8, 2020

A presentation by the architectural firm designing a state-of-the-art educational center to replace one of Philadelphia’s asbestos-riddled schools took place last week. The plans for the modern campus for North Philadelphia’s T.M. Peirce Elementary School – which was shut in 2019 due to concerns over the presence of asbestos and lead – were approved on September 2, 2020 by the Philadelphia Art Commission. The new three-story building will have open spaces that include a new playground, trees and a mural. See: $30 million campus to replace asbestos-contaminated North Philadelphia school.
 

Mesothelioma: Progress!

Sep 5, 2020

A paper published in The Lancet Oncology this week announced good news from a trial in Australia of a new therapy for treating patients with malignant pleural mesothelioma. The researchers from the Charles Perkins Centre of the University of Western Australia used a combination of two cancer therapies - chemotherapy and immunotherapy – to treat 54 patients. The scientists concluded that: “The combination of durvalumab, cisplatin, and pemetrexed has promising activity and an acceptable safety profile that warrants further investigation in a randomised phase 3 trial.” See: Durvalumab with first-line chemotherapy in previously untreated malignant pleural mesothelioma (DREAM): a multicentre, single-arm, phase 2 trial with a safety run-in.
 

Ban Asbestos Mobilization

Sep 5, 2020

The Building and Wood Workers International (BWI) has announced a day of ban asbestos action by its affiliates in Africa, the Middle East, and the Asia Pacific region in December 2020 to strengthen efforts by global labor to end toxic occupational exposures. This initiative follows on from an online asbestos meeting during which medical and scientific experts from South Africa, Australia and Europe spoke about the ongoing epidemic of asbestos-related diseases affecting construction and other workers. According to BWI Africa and Middle East Vice President Oloka Mesilamu: “The asbestos threat is real for many workers. It is a terrifying and silent hazard that adds to the fear and anxiety caused by COVID-19. We should do everything we can to ban it.” See: Regional action against Asbestos set for December.
 

Toxic Talc

Sep 5, 2020

An August 27, 2020 news release by the US campaigning group Black Women for Wellness (BWW) condemned Johnson & Johnson for its policy of withdrawing toxic baby powder from North American markets whilst continuing to sell it abroad. This product, which has been linked to the causation of cancer due to the presence of asbestos fibers, has been condemned by government agencies and independent scientists. The position of BWW is supported by 200 groups in the US and abroad focused on women's’ health, safe cosmetics, environmental and other public health issues. See: Toxic Products Marketed to Black Women: J&J refuses to remove talc Baby Powder from global market even as it ends U.S. sales due to lawsuits.
 

Mixed news from Quebec

Sep 5, 2020

Following the release of a report in August 2020 by an independent Commission of Inquiry into the health risks of asbestos in Quebec, the Provincial Government announced it would tighten restrictions for occupational asbestos exposure – reducing allowable exposures from 1 f/cc to 0.1 f/cc – to provide workers significantly increased protection from toxic exposures. Unfortunately, the new law will not address exposures to asbestos fibers less than 5 micrometres in length even though the Commission had recommended doing so. Citing the current US policy, Quebec’s Occupational Health and Safety Commission opposed the Commission’s recommendation to include shorter asbestos fibers. See: Quebec announces limited action to protect workers from asbestos harm.
 

Daughter Wins Legal Battle

Sep 2, 2020

A legal battle which could benefit dozens of former workers has been won by Sylvie Provost, the daughter of Réjean Provost who died in 2017 of asbestosis after 42 years employment at the Kronos paint factory in Varennes, Quebec. During Spring, 2020 an Administrative Labor Court ordered the owners of the factory to pay compensation of $160,000 to Mr. Provost’s family. During her research, Ms. Provost discovered that the company had known for years that her father was ill; this information was withheld. See: Travailleurs empoisonnés par l’amiante en Montérégie [Workers poisoned by asbestos in Montérégie].
 

Legal Victory for Constructions Workers

Sep 2, 2020

On August 28, 2020, the Tokyo High Court ordered compensation of 1,679 million yen (~US$16m) to be paid by the Japanese Government and 43 building material manufacturers to 64 former construction workers (known as Kanagawa’s Second Wave of Asbestos Construction Litigation), or surviving family members, for asbestos-related diseases contracted as a result of hazardous workplace exposures. The court found that the defendants had neglected to implement measures to protect workers from the asbestos hazard. Trial Judge Murakami recognized the right of self-employed workers as well as employees to claim for their injuries. See: Tokyo High Court awards compensation for asbestos injuries sustained by construction workers against the Government and private companies.
 

Indictment of EPA Asbestos Proposals

Sep 2, 2020

The 112-page Draft Risk Evaluation for Chrysotile Asbestos (the Evaluation) was released on August 27, 2020 by the Science Advisory Committee on Chemicals (SACC). The Evaluation found that proposals by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to address the country’s asbestos legacy were not fit for purpose: “Overall, EPA’s environmental and human health risk evaluations for asbestos was not considered adequate…” Missing data, incomplete health risk estimates and “meager” exposure data undermined confidence in conclusions reached and recommendations made by the EPA. See: Peer Review of EPA Draft Risk Evaluation of Asbestos.
 

Urban Asbestos Removal Program

Sep 1, 2020

Gunsan City in South Korea’s North Jeolla Province is progressing plans to protect public health by the implementation of a program to subsidize the removal of asbestos-containing roofing tiles. This initiative – which has been financed since 2013 by the Ministry of Environment – has in 2020 supported remediation efforts by 290 households with an increased budget of 985 million won (US$~835,000). Interested homeowners submit applications for funding to remove and dispose of asbestos roofing to the municipality. The maximum allowable subsidy is 3.44 million won (~US$2900) per household. See: 군산시, 노후 슬레이트 처리 지원 사업 추진 [Gunsan City promotes support project for processing old slate ].
 

Asbestos in Schools

Sep 1, 2020

The town council of Portugal’s coastal city of Albufeira has allocated the sum of €1.2 million (US$1.43m) to remove all asbestos-containing material from the buildings of the Professor Diamantina Negrão School as part of a renewal and renovation program to update the premises. Commenting on the status of the building program, the Mayor of Albufeira José Carlos Rolo said: “Fortunately, there is no longer any asbestos anywhere in this school.” See: Albufeira: Escola Professora Diamantina Negrão já não tem Amianto [Albufeira: Professor Diamantina Negrão School no longer has asbestos].
 

Asbestos Litigation during Covid-19

Sep 1, 2020

An August 2020 study from a US corporate consultancy group provided data suggesting that the rate of asbestos litigation has declined during Covid-19; in the first half of 2020 there was a 17% fall in the number of asbestos lawsuits compared to the same period in 2019. The decrease included a downturn in mesothelioma as well as other types of asbestos-related lung cancer and non-cancer cases. Analyst Megan Shockley said that 2020’s drop in numbers had been due to the closure of courts. The author of this article, however, alleged that the pace of asbestos litigation had been falling for some while: from 5,500 lawsuits in 2014, to 4,600 in 2016 and 4,062 in 2019. See: Are asbestos filings another COVID-19 casualty?
 

Supreme Court Mesothelioma Award

Aug 28, 2020

On August 27, 2020, Supreme Court Justice Rene Le Miere of Western Australia ordered that a terminally-ill woman be paid $1 million compensation by James Hardie (JH), formerly Australia’s largest producer of asbestos-containing building material. Sixty-three year old Christine Parkin was exposed to toxic JH products used by her father in home renovation projects in the 1960s and 1970s as a result of which she contracted mesothelioma and now has a life expectancy of four months. Justice Le Miere awarded her compensation for past and future medical and treatment expenses, economic loss and general damages; the company accepted liability for the damage caused. See: $1m payout for WA asbestos cancer sufferer.
 

COVID-19 and Asbestos Lung Disease

Aug 28. 2020

The lungs of many of the residents in Libby, Montana have been compromised through environmental exposure to asbestos dust liberated during decades of vermiculite mining by W R Grace. Their condition makes them particularly vulnerable to complications from COVID-19. According to Miles Miller, a member of staff at Libby’s Center for Asbestos Related Disease: “Our patients having an underlying lung disease would make recovery from COVID-19 more difficult.” Fears of contracting coronavirus has led many people in Libby to take extraordinary measures to isolate themselves from possible sources of infection. See: Asbestos Devastated Libby, Montana. Now COVID-19 Hangs In The Air.
 

Mesothelioma Bibliography

Aug 28, 2020

A 12-page Spanish document on the latency of mesothelioma, the signature asbestos cancer, includes a useful list of relevant papers. Many of the documents cited are in English and online links are included which facilitate access. The latency period for mesothelioma in the papers varies from one to 75 years. Topics covered by the authors include: calculations regarding mesothelioma trends in various occupations, the hazard posed by the use of cosmetic talc and the affect of asbestos exposures on women, seafarers and asbestos workers. Information provided relates to developments in: Korea, Brazil, Germany, Italy, Australia, Lebanon, the US and the UK. See: Latencia del mesothelioma [Mesothelioma Latency].
 

Post-Disaster Hazard

Aug 27, 2020

In the aftermath of the explosion which ripped through the port and surrounding areas of Beirut on August 4, experts have warned that: “Asbestos in damaged buildings poses a significant health risk” not only to first responders and clean-up crews but to civilian populations. “The risk” said Charbel Afif, associate professor in air pollution at Université Saint Joseph (Beirut) “is that people will develop cancer.” Although many of the volunteers and responders wore masks to protect themselves from Covid-19, none wore the specialized masks used by asbestos removal operatives, Afif told reporters, because this equipment was scare in Lebanon. See: Cancer risk on the rise after Beirut blast, warn experts.
 

Japanese Construction Workers’ Lawsuit

Aug 27, 2020

On August 27, 2020, hearings began in the Sendai District Court in a case brought on behalf of ten Japanese construction workers injured by workplace asbestos exposures who are seeking damages from the Japanese Government as well as 12 manufacturers of asbestos-containing building materials. Only three of the former claimants are alive; the remaining seven died from asbestos diseases. The plaintiffs are seeking ¥38.5 million (~US$363,000) per worker on the grounds that the defendants had failed to provide protective equipment despite knowing that exposure to asbestos could be hazardous. See: Asbestos-exposed construction workers seek damages from government and firms.
 

Improvement in Mesothelioma Outcomes

Aug 27, 2020

New data from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare included in the publication Mesothelioma in Australia 2019 reported increased survival times for patients with the asbestos cancer mesothelioma. According to data covering the period 2012-16, 55% of people with mesothelioma survived for at least one year post diagnosis, 17% for 3 years and 10% for 5 years. All of these survival rates were significant increases on previous figures. Whilst occupational exposure to asbestos was found to be responsible for the disease in 78% of men with mesothelioma, only 7% of female mesothelioma patients had been exposed to asbestos at work. See: Mesothelioma patients are living longer after diagnosis, despite rising death rate.
 

New Asbestos Remediation Program

Aug 27, 2020

An online article in Cambio16 – a Spanish current affairs magazine – discussed a new asbestos remediation program in a Madrid neighborhood in the context of Spain’s asbestos legacy which saw 3 million tons of asbestos incorporated into the national infrastructure. This month (August 2020), the first large-scale action in Spain to remove asbestos roofing from residential properties, industrial warehouses, sports and cultural centers and public buildings began in the Orcasitas area of Madrid. The removal of asbestos roofing on these 1980s structures owned by the Ministry of Housing will be carried out on 116 buildings, each housing up to 32 families. See: España debe retirar más de 3 millones de toneladas de amianto de su vida cotidiana [Spain must remove more than 3 million tons of asbestos from its daily life].
 

Asbestos Advice

Aug 25, 2020

On August 22 & 23, 2020, a telephone advice line was operational from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. in the Japanese city of Kobe to provide information and advice about asbestos hazards for people who may have been occupationally exposed to asbestos. The service was run by the Asbestos Victims Relief Fund – a non-government organization (NGO) – and took calls such as one from a construction worker who had been exposed to asbestos on a building site. Masayuki Kanda, President of the NGO, expressed concern that: “some people are refraining from going to the hospital or consulting [doctors] because of the new coronavirus, even if they are feeling unwell.” See: アスベスト被害の電話相談 [Telephone consultation regarding asbestos damage].
 

Mesothelioma Research: Update

Aug 25, 2020

Scottish scientists investigating the causation of the asbestos-linked cancer malignant pleural mesothelioma last week called for urgent support for re-establishing research protocols after work had been suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic. According to Dr Carsten Hansen from the Centre for Inflammation Research at the University of Edinburgh: “Although we took great care in safeguarding our experiments and newly generated cellular model systems, unfortunately the timing of the complete lockdown meant that we lost a few critical cell lines that we now need to re-establish.” 200 people are diagnosed with mesothelioma in Scotland every year. See: Groundbreaking research into lung cancer caused by asbestos needs to recommence scientist says.
 

Interview: Dr. Domyung Paek

Aug 25, 2020

On August 22, 2020, a feature article was published in Korea about the work of Dr. Domyung Paek, a human rights campaigner, scientist and medical researcher who has fought for the rights of Korean victims of occupational diseases for over 30 years. Dr. Paek has been pivotal in mobilizing action on a variety of issues, including the hazards of asbestos exposures, injuries caused to semiconductor workers and the deadly risks posed by the use of humidifier disinfectants – taking part in public protests, speaking at press conferences and travelling internationally to collaborate with campaigners as well as medical colleagues. See: ‘연구활동가’ 백도명, ‘과학의 이름’으로 약자의 곁에 서다 [‘Research Activist' Domyung Paek, stands up for the weak under 'the name of science’].
 

Toxic Ships from Indonesia

Aug 25, 2020

On August 21, 2020, the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) called an urgent meeting with the private company operating the Sydney Ferries – TransDev Sydney Ferries – to discuss the discovery of asbestos-containing material on board four new 24m River Vessels. According to a letter sent to MUA members, the company had known about the asbestos since Tuesday (Aug 18) but “hid this knowledge” from its employees and the union. The vessels were, wrote the MUA, made abroad; an article from October 2019 (see: Anger as Syd ferries to be built overseas) said the contract for the river vessels had been awarded to an Indonesian company. See: SYDNEY FERRIES – Asbestos Found on New Vessels.
 

Schools’ Asbestos Scandal

Aug 24. 2020

On August 19, 2020, the Board of Education of the School District of Philadelphia issued a Report on renovation work at the Benjamin Franklin High School which resulted in a forced closure of the premises in 2019 and the relocation of all the students and staff. The School District of Philadelphia was harshly criticized for failures including poor dust and asbestos containment. The use of an outdated Asbestos Inspection Report resulted in multiple asbestos incidents; on September 25, 2019, exposed asbestos was found around air ducts in the school’s boiler room. See: Philly School Board ‘Deeply Regrets' Asbestos Issues at High School.
 

Asbestos Compensation Scheme

Aug 24, 2020

Since it was set up in 2017, the Swiss Asbestos Victims’ Fund (the Fund) has recognized 89 applications and paid out compensation of around CHF 9.5 million (US$10.4m). Mesothelioma victims of non-occupational asbestos exposures – such as wives who washed their husbands’ workclothes – received, on average, CHF140,000 (US$154,000) whilst victims of occupational exposure received CHF50,000 (US$55,000). Official Swiss bodies have confirmed the rise in cases of asbestos-related deaths despite the fact that Switzerland banned asbestos use 30 years ago. The Fund predicts that its coffers could run dry should further donations not be forthcoming. See: Erogati 9,5 milioni per le vittime di amianto [9.5 million paid to asbestos victims].
 

Victims’ Call for Action on Asbestos

Aug 24, 2020

On August 16, 2020, a group representing Quebec Asbestos Victims (AVAQ) publicised a letter to the Quebec Premier which called on him to take action as a matter of priority on recommendations in the report on The State and Management of Asbestos and Asbestos Mining Residues. AVAQ technical experts drew the Premier’s attention to: the need to lower the Quebec workplace asbestos exposure standard; the recommendation to support victims of asbestos diseases; and the requirements needed to ensure public and occupational safety prior to commencing work to exploit mining residue. See: Translation of AVAQ letter to Quebec’s Premier François Legault; original AVAQ letter (in French).
 

Miyagi Construction Workers Lawsuit

Aug 24, 2020

Following 16 class action asbestos lawsuits mounted by Japanese construction workers against the State and building material manufacturers, on August 26, 2020 a new class action lawsuit will be filed in Sendai District Court on behalf of construction workers in the Tohoku region who contracted lung cancer from occupational asbestos exposures; in the cases where workers are deceased, the claims will be issued in the name of surviving family members. The lawsuit will seek damages from the State and 12 building material manufacturers. This is the first such legal action brought in Tohoku. See: アスベストで健康被害 宮城の建設労働者ら提訴へ [Miyagi construction workers file lawsuit over asbestos injuries].
 

Supreme Court Upholds Asbestos Law

Aug 20, 2020

On August 18, 2020, a ruling by Brazil’s Supreme Court (STF) upheld a State law that held asbestos companies liable for paying compensation to injured workers exposed to asbestos at asbestos-cement factories. The legal challenge had been brought by the National Confederation of Industrial Workers which alleged that the issue at hand was outside the State’s jurisdiction. Law no. 4,341 / 2004, of the State of Rio de Janeiro was ruled constitutional by a majority of the STF Judges. See: STF mantém lei do RJ que responsabiliza empresas de fibrocimento por danos do amianto aos trabalhadores [STF upholds Rio de Janeiro law that holds asbestos companies liable for injuries to asbestos-cement workers].
 

National Asbestos Legacy

Aug 20, 2020

A new paper detailing the findings of researchers in Peru will be published in October 2020. The scientists correlated asbestos import data between 1965 and 2010 with the incidence of mesothelioma mortality between 2005 and 2014 and discovered that the highest rates of mesothelioma mortality were for the cities of Arequipa, Callao and Huancavelica and that both occupational and environmental asbestos exposures were causative. The authors of the paper concluded that the best way to end mesothelioma fatalities was for the government to institute a ban on the import of all types of asbestos, including chrysotile (white) asbestos. See: Geographic study of mortality due to mesothelioma in Peru and its evolution.
 

Asbestos at College

Aug 20, 2020

An expose which focused on the long-standing unaddressed hazard posed by the presence of asbestos-containing material in US college buildings cited multiple examples of inadequate practices at Penn State University; in the last ten years, Penn State spent “more money on landscaping than it did to abate asbestos.” Having investigated the asbestos situation on campus in the 1970s and 1980s, university officials realized the extent of the problem and the enormous cost of remediation; according to Pennsylvania Attorney Mike Robb, they made a conscious decision to remove “as little as possible.” See: Unwilling to pay to remove dangerous asbestos, universities across the U.S. claim it’s safe to ignore.
 

Asbestos Crime and Punishment

Aug 20, 2020

After the fire service put out a huge fire at a site in the Fuorigrotta district of Naples last week, agents of the Environmental Protection Department of the Naples Local Police began an investigation to identify the owners of the agricultural land on which the blaze took place and establish how and when banned asbestos-containing material had been dumped in the area. The site of the fire will remain locked down until the owners of the property have been identified and the polluters caught. Severe penalties for criminal incidents such as this can be issued by the Public Prosecutor’s Office under the Environmental Code. See: Incendio a Fuorigrotta, a fuoco discarica abusiva di Amianto [Fire in Fuorigrotta, illegal asbestos landfill fire].
 

Asbestos and the Environment

Aug 20, 2020

The Spanish Association to Save the Guadiana River, a civil society group campaigning to protect that river, has denounced the dumping of asbestos-cement waste in it – bringing the matter to the attention of Badajoz City Council, the Guadiana Hydrographic Confederation and the Seprona: the Civil Guard department tasked with protecting the environment. The activists expressed concerns regarding the public health hazard posed by the toxic contamination and said that some of the debris had been on the riverbank for up to three years. See: Denuncian ante el Seprona el vertido de amianto en el río [complaint to the Civil Guard about the dumping of asbestos in river].
 

Asbestos Post-Disaster Hazard

Aug 17, 2020

Technical experts and environmental activists have issued warnings about ongoing efforts by volunteers to clean up debris in Beirut after the cataclysmic explosion in the Port district which occurred earlier this month (August 4) in light of the lack of available information about the possible contamination of the air and water by toxic substances such as asbestos which might have been present in some of the buildings destroyed during the blast. Urging the cessation of rubble removal, Greenpeace Program Director Julian Jreissati categorized this activity as “irresponsible.” See: Beirut Explosion: Rubble Collected Randomly Amid Warnings of Dangerous Materials.
 

Environmental Asbestos Pollution

Aug 17, 2020

Residents in the former Quebec chrysotile (white) asbestos mining town of Thetford Mines are worried about contamination of the Bécancour river caused by toxic residues from mountains of mining waste. Despite their concerns, there has been no action by the Ministry of Environment to address the problem. Drinking water is taken from the river and local people use it for recreational purposes. The situation was recently highlighted in an investigation which confirmed the "inertia" of the Department of the Environment and its failure to collect data or assess the impact of the asbestos pollution. See: Des résidus d’amiante menacent des lacs et rivières [Asbestos residues threaten lakes and rivers].
 

Asbestos Victim Twice-Over

Aug 17, 2020

An in-depth article (August 15) about 70-year old Tasmanian Robert Williams described his 16-month battle to obtain compensation for the cancer which is killing him, citing instances where his claim was denied despite medical evidence documenting multiple workplace asbestos exposures during his 50 years as a builder. Reasons for rejecting his claim included his smoking history and atypical symptoms. It was only after hiring a lawyer, at a cost of $80,000, were the authorities persuaded in March 2020 to accept the evidence of an oncologist and two respiratory specialists that his fatal condition had been caused by asbestos exposure. See: Tasmanian Robert Williams’ fight for asbestos compensation ‘worse than cancer’.
 

Asbestos Hazard at Sea

Aug 17, 2020

An improvement notice has been served by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) on Diamond Offshore Drilling UK Ltd. giving the company until October 1, 2020 to rectify infringements of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 on the Ocean Valiant North Sea oil rig (see: HSE Notice served on Diamond Offshore Drilling). The offences which took place resulted from an incident on September 2, 2019 during which chrysotile asbestos fibers were dispersed following maintenance work. See: Diamond Offshore warned over spread of ‘asbestos debris’ on North Sea rig.
 

Asbestos Removal Subsidies

Aug 17, 2020

On August 13, 2020, the authorities in the South Korean county of Jangseong-gun announced that they would be continuing to support local efforts to remediate asbestos roofing on local properties. Since 2011, the county has supported the removal of asbestos tiles on 2,580 homes as well as on business premises, including warehouses, factories and barns. In 2020, applications for funding to remove asbestos on 316 properties have been approved; 255 of the subsidized projects have already been completed. See: 장성군, 노후 석면 슬레이트 처리 지원 [Jangseong-gun to support the removal of deteriorating asbestos roofing].
 

Irony: Clash of Asbestos Giants

Aug 17, 2020

A legal battle is raging between a former tenant – the state-owned Nexen Petroleum Company from China – of a 37 floor office building in Calgary, Canada and their landlord: a consortium of local investors and the Ontario government pension plan. Nexen moved out of the building more than a year ago because, they said, it was full of asbestos which the landlord refused to remove. The situation has a certain piquancy as Canada was the world’s largest producer of asbestos during the 20th century and China remains one of the world’s largest producers and users of asbestos and has been so for decades. See: 中海油指石棉超标 卡加利尼克森大厦成「鬼楼」 [CNOOC claims that asbestos exceeds the standard, Calgary Nixon Building becomes a “ghost building”].
 

Vietnam’s Asbestos Legacy

Aug 13, 2020

A Vietnamese article uploaded on August 11, 2020 which contained a warning about the hazard posed by exposure to asbestos-cement material featured the tragic story of 49 year-old Ms Quang Ninh now suffering from the signature asbestos cancer, mesothelioma. According to Dr. Nguyen Duc Hoanh – Head of Surgery in the Cardiology and Chest Intervention Department of Uong Bi Hospital – pleural mesothelioma is a fatal disease with a long latency period. The best way to avoid contracting mesothelioma is to avoid contact with asbestos-containing materials at work and at home. When contact is unavoidable protective equipment must be used. See: Hạn chế tiếp xúc với các vật liệu chứa amiăng [Limit contact with asbestos-containing materials].
 

Post-Disaster Alert

Aug 13, 2020

A Russian language article uploaded on August 5, 2020 warned of the post-disaster hazard posed by airborne asbestos in the aftermath of the devastating explosion in Beirut on August 4: “Any explosion releases toxic substances into the atmosphere. In the event of the Beirut emergency asbestos, which was previously used in the construction of buildings, could be in the air.” The author of the text speculated that amongst the buildings destroyed were ones built in the 1950s and 1960s when asbestos use was commonplace. See: Названо самое опасное вещество, оказавшееся в воздухе после взрыва в Бейруте [The most dangerous substance in the air after the explosion in Beirut is named].
 

Poison Pipes

Aug 13, 2020

An article uploaded on August 11, 2020, highlighted the deadly legacy posed by deteriorating asbestos-cement (AC) pipes – composed of 80% cement and 20% asbestos – in Canada’s water delivery system. According to the National Research Council of Canada close to 20% of the water main distribution system in North America contains AC pipes, most of which were installed decades ago; over time, the condition of the pipes deteriorates and, as a consequence, asbestos fibers are released “into the drinking water and could pose a hazard of malignant tumors of the gastrointestinal tract and other organs in consumers.” There is no federal plan to address the continued threat posed by these pipes in Canada. See: Poison Pipes.
 

Gross Negligence Verdict

Aug 13, 2020

A precedent has been set by a ruling this month handed down by labor judge Giampiero Panico acknowledging the causal link between workplace asbestos exposure and pleural mesothelioma contracted by a maintenance electrician who died from another disease: intestinal perforation. The Judge, who found the Italian Railway Network [Rete Ferroviaria Italiana] which had employed the deceased along the Sestri Levante to La Spezia railway line from 1963 to 1990 had been guilty of gross negligence and awarded the family €40,000. See: Sassi con amianto, ferrovie condannate [Stones with asbestos, railway condemned].
 

Toxic Talc

Aug 10, 2020

On August 5, 2020, a three-judge panel of the New Jersey Superior Court overruled a decision by trial judge Nelson Johnson which had thrown out expert evidence by Graham Colditz and Daniel Cramer in a jury trial brought against Johnson & Johnson (J&J) by two plaintiffs with ovarian cancer. The claimants had used J&J’s talc-based baby powder which, they alleged, had caused their fatal cancers. The consequences of this ruling may include the reinstatement of 1,000 other cancer cases against J&J in New Jersey. The company is headquartered in New Brunswick, New Jersey and had hoped that transferring the talc litigation to the state might have given it a “home-court advantage.” It seems not to be the case. See: J&J Stung by New Jersey Court Ruling Reviving Talc Cancer Claims.
 

Addressing Quebec’s Asbestos Legacy

Aug 10, 2020

The long-awaited findings of Quebec’s Independent Office of Public Hearings on the Environment regarding public and environmental asbestos health hazards were uploaded on August 7 (L’état des lieux et la gestion de l’amiante et des résidus miniers amiantés). The 343-page report, which is only in French, highlighted a multiplicity of failings and made recommendations including: tightening Quebec’s occupational exposure standard to 0.1f/cc for all types of asbestos, including chrysotile; creating an agency to oversee the management and safe elimination of asbestos; and ensuring that any mining of asbestos mining waste not expose workers to “to additional risk of harm.” See: Quebec Commission of Inquiry releases landmark report on asbestos.
 

Cancer Spike in Asbestos Heartland

Aug 10, 2020

In the last decade, the incidence of cancer in Russia’s Orenburg region – home to one of the country’s largest chrysotile asbestos mines – has grown by 22%. The author of this article rehashed asbestos industry propaganda which purport that the use of chrysotile asbestos is harmless blaming the increasing cancer rate on the harshness of the sun – “The evil steppe sun” – and the increasing longevity of Russians. See: Оренбургская область и рак: Ясный оказался в числе благополучных регионов [Orenburg region and cancer: Yasny was among the prosperous regions].
 

Switzerland’s Asbestos Legacy

Aug 10, 2020

Despite a national asbestos ban (1990) and regulations mandating strict requirements to minimize hazardous exposures, citizens remain at risk from the hidden presence of asbestos in thousands of Swiss buildings; 90% of buildings constructed before 1990 contain asbestos. The Swiss trade union UNIA has been educating its members regarding the asbestos hazard for years and is frequently called upon to take action on workplace incidents. In July, 2020 the inadequacy of respiratory protection face masks being used in Switzerland was exposed as a result of which proceedings were initiated against the importers and distributors. See: L’amiante reste une menace en Suisse [Asbestos remains a threat in Switzerland].
 

Piedmont Asbestos Eradication Program

Aug10, 2020

On August 6, 2020, the Piedmont Regional Bulletin included news from the Councillor for the Environment of the Piedmont Region of a €1.1 million allocation for the remediation of asbestos-containing material in schools and hospitals. Successful applicants can claim the costs for 100% of reclamation work including removal, transport and disposal. The deadline for the submission of claims to the Regional Directorate for the Environment, Energy and Territory is October 30, 2020. See: Oltre un milione di euro per la bonifica di manufatti contenenti amianto in scuole e ospedali [Over one million euros for the remediation of artifacts containing asbestos in schools and hospitals].
 

Asbestos Crackdown

Aug 4, 2020

Authorities in the South Korean Province of Gyeonggi will be cracking down on infringements of demolition industry asbestos regulations and the illegal disposal of asbestos waste between August 10 and 28, 2020 according to an announcement on August 4 by the Gyeonggi-do Special Judicial Police Agency. Unlike previous investigations in cities such as Anseong and Siheung, this initiative will target illegal operations throughout the province. At least 4,000 structures in Gyeonggi contain asbestos according to government figures released in June 2020. See:  특사경, 폐석면 무단투기·매립 등 불법 처리행위 집중 수사 [Investigation of illegal handling activities such as special shipments, illegal dumping and recycling of asbestos waste].
 

Asbestos and Lung Cancer

Aug 4, 2020

In a press release issued by the Ministry of Health of Belarus to mark World Lung Cancer Day on August 1, the increase in the incidence of lung cancer in Russia was blamed on multiple factors including tobacco smoking, air pollution and exposure to asbestos. Russia had the 24th highest rate of lung cancer in men in 2018 with an age-standardised rate of 48.2 per 100,000. As the world’s biggest producer of chrysotile (white) asbestos, thousands of workers routinely experience occupational exposures to asbestos, an acknowledged cause of lung cancer. See: 1 августа - Всемирный день борьбы с раком легких [August 1 – World Lung Cancer Day].
 

Asbestos Waste: A Toxic Legacy

Aug 4, 2020

Last week, the Spanish trade union Comisiones Obreras (CCOO) denounced the widespread dumping of asbestos waste and condemned local authorities for failing to address this public health problem. In the union’s press release, they highlighted illegal dumping of asbestos-cement debris in the southern part of Madrid, and especially in Pinto and Getafe. The CCOO called for the implementation of “strict protocols” to prevent the fly-tipping and urged that local government make this a priority issue. See: Comisiones Obreras alerta sobre el peligro de vertidos de amianto en Pinto [Workers' Commissions warns of the danger of asbestos spills in Pinto].
 

Mesothelioma: Translational Research

Aug 4, 2020

A paper in the July 2020 issue of the American Journal Clinical Cancer Research by researchers from the Medical University of Vienna (see: Telomerase Reverse Transcriptase Promoter Mutations Identify a Genomically Defined and Highly Aggressive Human Pleural Mesothelioma Subgroup) provided new prognostic information and suggested targeted treatment strategies for patients with an aggressive and genetically distinct form of malignant pleural mesothelioma. The researchers discovered a mechanism responsible for reactivating the TERT gene – excess production of which activates the telomerase enzyme which promotes growth of cancer cells. See: Researchers identify targeted treatment strategy for malignant pleural mesothelioma.
 

Asbestos Alert

Jul 31, 2020

A feature article in a Vietnam news outlet last Sunday (July 26, 2020), highlighted the occupational and public health hazard posed by exposure to asbestos in Vietnam, stating that: “The cancer rate of workers exposed to asbestos was 1.8 times higher than that of non-exposed workers.” Citing copious medical evidence and scientific findings about the human health hazard posed by asbestos exposures, the author of this article pointed out the risk posed to people living near asbestos-processing factories. Unfortunately, misinformation is also included in the text which alleged that asbestos when incorporated into asbestos-cement was not “harmful.” See: Nguy cơ chết người từ bụi khí amiăng [Deadly risk from asbestos].
 

Asbestos Protest!

Jul 31, 2020

During a July 29, 2020 fact-finding trip of Mikhail Degtyarev – Acting Governor of Khabarovsk Krai (one of Russia’s largest territorial units) – residents of  Komsomolsk City mounted a protest outside the town hall over the health hazard posed by their living in asbestos-riddled apartments in the “Berlin” neighborhood. The demonstrators asked for the Governor’s intervention in helping them secure alternative accommodation, free from asbestos, rats and fleas. The toxic properties were constructed as temporary housing for builders in the 1980s; much of the material used came from Germany. See: Жители Комсомольска-на-Амуре пожаловались Дегтяреву на крыс и асбест [Residents of Komsomolsk-on-Amur complained to Degtyarev about rats and asbestos].
 

Asbestos Mobilization

Jul 31, 2020

Former employees of the Matra firm, based in Romorantin, Central France, have formed an association in collaboration with the CGT trade union to support asbestos victims and campaign for the recognition and compensation of their occupational illnesses. In November, 2019, the Primary Health Insurance Fund recognized the asbestos-related disease of a former Matra employee as occupationally caused. During its heyday, the company had been involved in the manufacture of cars, bicycles, aeronautics and weaponry. See: Romorantin: l’amiante, nouveau combat pour les ex-Matra [Romorantin: asbestos, a new fight for the ex-Matra (workers)].
 

Asbestos at University

Jul 31, 2020

Another member of the staff of the University of Montreal (UoM) has succumbed to an occupationally-caused asbestos-related disease. Computer scientist Yves Charland died, aged 73, on November 10, 2019 from the signature asbestos cancer, mesothelioma. For 20 years, he had worked in the physics department in a building insulated with asbestos and where asbestos removal work took place from 2011 to 2014. Three other employees of the UoM also contracted mesothelioma from workplace exposures: former secretary Sandra Ohayon, emeritus professor of sociology Jean Renaud and a deceased janitor employed at UoM from 1966 to 1968. See: L’amiante derrière la mort d’un ex-employé de l’UdeM, selon la CNESST [Asbestos behind the death of a former UoM employee, according to the CNESST].
 

Victim’s Verdict

Jul 29, 2020

In a scathing verdict handed down in the High Court on July 27, 2020, which lambasted the behaviour of legal advisors working for the Ministry of Defence, Judge Allan Gore QC found for the widow of shipyard worker Bhanu Sivaji who died in 2015 from mesothelioma as a result of asbestos exposure at the Sembawang naval dockyard in Singapore between 1953 and 1968. Mr. Sivaji’s place of work had been operated by the Ministry of Defence. The Judge, who was highly critical of the delays in bringing the case to court and the elevated legal costs which ensued, granted the Claimant’s applications to amend the Particulars of Claim and the Claim Form. See: Shiji SIVAJI vs. Ministry of Defence.
 

Asbestos Protests in Croatia

Jul 29, 2020

On Saturday night (July 25, 2020) scores of local people took part in a public rally in the “most neglected district” of Zadar, Croatia to protest the depositing of 78 tonnes of asbestos in their town. The asbestos had been stripped from a training ship, the Glaleb – formerly the official yacht of the late President of Yugoslavia Marshall Tito – and dumped in the town between May 6 and June 18, 2020 from the port of Rijeka. Another demonstration is being planned for Saturday, August 1, at 9 a.m. during which participants will walk through the town demanding their right to live a life free from toxic exposures. See: AZBEST U DVORIŠTU Hocemo igralište, a ne otrov! [ASBESTOS IN THE YARD We want a playground, not poison!].
 

Asbestos in Schools

Jul 29, 2020

A July 24, 2020 article reported that Portugal’s Education Minister Tiago Brandão Rodrigues reconfirmed a June 2020 promise that the government would pay 100% of all asbestos removal costs to decontaminate the country’s schools; a budget of €60 million had been allocated for this work. Municipal and regional authorities will not be expected, said the Minister, to contribute to the costs of the remediation effort. According to Rodrigues although 450,000 square meters of asbestos had been removed from school premises over the last four years "there is much more to be done.” See: Ministro da Educação diz que Governo pagará 100% da retirada do amianto das escolas [Education Minister says Government will pay 100% of cost for asbestos removal from schools].
 

August 2020: Truth or Lies?

Jul 29, 2020

On July 24, 2020, Quebec’s Office of Public Hearings on the Environment announced that its report on the investigation into “The inventory and management of asbestos and asbestos mining residues” had been submitted to the Minister of the Environment Benoit Charrette and would be uploaded to the internet within 15 days. The objective of the enquiry was to assess a multiplicity of asbestos-related issues in Quebec with a focus on their impact on public and occupational health. After so many years of denial and obfuscation, asbestos activists await the report with a good deal of trepidation. See: Amiante: le rapport du BAPE rendu public d’ici 15 jours [Asbestos: the BAPE report to be made public within 15 days].
 

Asbestos Tourist Town in the Urals

Jul 27, 2020

In an online article about unusual but rewarding tourist destinations in Russia, a visit to the Uralasbest asbestos mining town in the Urals comes highly recommended. Guided tours of the eight kilometer wide quarry, the factory and the museum are organized by the company. Reading like a corporate press release, the article reported that: “The Ural enterprise is one of the largest and oldest producers of chrysotile asbestos in the world,” accounting for 21% of annual global output and 41% of Russian output every year. Eighty per cent of Russian chrysotile production is exported. See: Туристам расскажут, кем работал на уральском заводе президент Тайваня [Tourists will be told about when the Taiwan President worked at the Ural plant].
 

More Toxic Talc!

Jul 27, 2020

Last week, BASF SE – the world’s biggest chemical maker – and the New York-based law firm of Cahill, Gordon & Reindel LLP agreed to jointly pay a combined $72.5 million to settle claims that they had hidden evidence that certain talc products, sourced from the company’s talc mine in Vermont, had contained asbestos, in an effort to defeat thousands of lawsuits, according to papers filed in a federal court in New Jersey. The total value of the agreement is almost $100 million when legal fees and others costs are added. See: BASF, Cahill Law Firm to Pay $72.5 Million in Talc-Scam Deal.
 

2032 Deadline in Catalonia!

Jul 27, 2020

The Commission for the Eradication of Asbestos in Catalonia, established in 2019 to address the region’s multiple asbestos challenges, met for the second time in July, 2020 to agree on a plan of action for 2020-21 as part of a coordinated program to make the territory asbestos-free by 2032. In the short-term, the Commission will develop an asbestos hazard training plan for public administration staff, work to raise public asbestos awareness via the development of online resources, and prioritize the removal of asbestos-containing products from schools. See: Aprovat el Pla nacional per a l’erradicació de l’amiant de Catalunya per al 2032 [Approval of the National Plan for the Eradication of Asbestos in Catalonia by 2032].
 

Mesothelioma Care in Kent

Jul 27, 3030

It was announced last week that Toni Fleming had been appointed to fill a new post for a specialist nurse in the asbestos cancer hotspot of East Kent. Nurse Fleming – who has a background in the treatment of lung cancer and mesothelioma patients – was named the Mesothelioma UK clinical nurse specialist for East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust. This post is being fully funded for a period of two years by the Mavis Nye Foundation, set up in 2017 by the UK’s longest surviving mesothelioma patient. See: New asbestos-related cancer nurse specialist for East Kent.
 

Conviction of Australian Politician

Jul 27, 2020

Following a protracted legal battle between Grafil Pty Ltd – owned by the former Mayor of Port Stephens Bruce MacKenzie – and the NSW Environment Protection Authority, Grafil was found guilty by the Land and Environment Court of running an illegal waste dump. The ruling could result in a penalty of up to $12 million in asbestos waste clean-up costs and fines, even though only 634.64 grams of asbestos were detected. “Whilst that might,” said Justice Preston “be ‘incredibly minor’ in comparison to the upper estimate of 44,000 tonnes of materials in the stockpiles, it nevertheless was sufficient to cause severe risk to human health…” See: Former Port Stephens mayor Bruce MacKenzie's family company, Grafil, and his son Robert found guilty in $12 million illegal waste dump case.
 

Asbestos Update 2020

Jul 23, 2020

On July 23, 2020, Australia’s Union Aid Abroad- APHEDA held a one hour webinar which addressed contemporary issues relating to continuing asbestos use in India and Indonesia during the Covid-19 pandemic. Using ZOOM technology, Pooja Gupta from the Indian Ban Asbestos Network and Muchamed Darisman from the Indonesian Ban Asbestos Network gave presentations detailing current levels of asbestos use and strategies being pursued to raise asbestos awareness and counteract industry pressure on governments and regional bodies. Other speakers were APHEDA’s Kate Lee and Liam O’Brien from the Australian Council of Trade Unions. See: Asbestos Ban Update: Campaigning in a global crisis.
 

Metro Refurbishment: Asbestos Risks

Jul 23, 2020

Following a morning press conference held in Seoul, Korea by the Environmental Health Citizens’ Center (EHCC) – an NGO which brings together experts, activists and victims to address the pollution crisis in Asia – on July 20, 2020, journalists were invited on an accompanied tour to City Hall Station to observe first-hand the dangers posed by the liberation of tremolite asbestos during refurbishment work on Metro Line 2 in the Seoul Subway. EHCC spokesmen urged that all work at this site be stopped immediately and that an emergency safety investigation be undertaken as a matter of priority. See: 환경보건시민센터 활동 언론보도 [Press Release from Environmental Health Citizen Center].
 

Asbestos: No Thanks!

Jul 23, 2020

A public inquiry in the French town of Kerlaz in the northwest of the country which began on June 19 will end on July 29. The focus of the inquiry is whether the Guenneau Company should be allowed to increase its storage operation for the disposal of inert waste and bound asbestos at its site in the Merdy Quarry. Local people have been vocal in their opposition based on concerns over increases in environmental pollution and volume of traffic. The company is requesting authorization to operate the site for another 30 years. See: Des riverains inquiets par le stockage d’amiante à Kerlaz [Local residents worried about asbestos storage in Kerlaz].
 

Asbestos Cancer Cluster

Jul 21, 2020

A thirty-five year old building in Braga, Portugal (a town 360 kilometers from Lisbon) may be responsible for a cluster of asbestos cancer cases amongst police staff at the Braga Criminal Investigation Department. The building, which has never been refurbished, houses the headquarters of the Judiciary Police. There have been 12 cancer deaths over the last decade amongst Judicial Police inspectors from the Braga department; a 2016 report by the Union of Criminal Investigation Staff sent to the Ombudsman led to an inspection of the premises on July 20, 2020. See: Investigada ligação entre amianto e cancros na PJ Braga [Investigation of link between asbestos and cancers at PJ Braga].
 

Subsidizing Asbestos Waste Reclamation

Jul 21, 2020

Following an investment of $25.9m by the Quebec National Assembly in a project to reclaim magnesium –intended for use by the automotive and aeronautical industries – from decades of waste produced by the mining of asbestos, another government subsidy of ~$800,000 was announced last week by Quebec’s Minister of Labor, Employment and Social Solidarity Jean Boulet for the training of 92 workers by the Alliance Magnesium company. See: Le ministre Jean Boulet annonce près de 800 000 $ à Alliance Magnésium pour la création et le maintien d'emplois en Estrie [CPG Minister Jean Boulet announces nearly $800,000 to Alliance Magnesium for the creation and maintenance of jobs in Estrie].
 

Asbestos: One Family’s Story

Jul 21, 2020

An interview with author Alberto Prunetti about his book “Asbestos,” discussed the background to the work: the trauma experienced by his father Renato Prunetti – an Italian worker who died in 2004 aged 59 as a result of workplace exposure to asbestos – and members of his family. The author described the insensitivity of medical practitioners and the opacity of the legal system, how only though persistence of his family was permission finally obtained in 2010 – 6 years after he had died – for Renato to retire prematurely due to occupational asbestos exposure. Versions of Alberto's book in Spanish and Catalan are available titled Hoja de Lata and Tigre de Paper, respectively. See: El amianto es un asesino en serie que goza de la protección de los tribunals [Asbestos is a serial killer which enjoys the protection of the courts].
 

Quebec’s First Asbestos Strike

Jul 21, 2020

An exhibit in June 2020 to mark the centenary of the end of Canada’s first national internment and its effects on the Ukrainian-Canadian community included details of the first asbestos mining strike in Quebec which was led by immigrant workers from Ukraine, Nicolas Kachuk and Ivan Chaprun. Harsh conditions and reduced wages were the causes for the strike at the Black Lake chrysotile (white) asbestos mine which started on October 8, 1915. Due to the widespread backing of the stoppage – the strike was supported by 2,500 workers – the company gave in to the demands and reinstated the wages for the asbestos miners to the levels of August, 1914. See: Exhibit remembers internees sent to Black Lake asbestos mines.
 

“Invisible” Asbestos Taskmasters

Jul 16, 2020

A June 10, 2020 complaint to Google LLC by the Kusto Group, “a Kazakh multinational with extensive interests in the chrysotile [asbestos] industry” cited a total of 6 instances of copyright infringement by the Australian website: New Matilda and the website of the Colombian Asbestos Free Foundation. The subject of the complaints was the unapproved use on two occasions of a photograph of Daniel Kunin, Kusto’s Managing Director, and on four occasions of a photograph of Yerkin Tatishev, Kusto’s CEO. See: DMCA (Copyright) Complaint to Google.
 

Asbestos in Schools Scandal

Jul 16, 2020

This July 15, 2020 article by Robert Campion detailed damning documents obtained through a Freedom of Information request revealing an attempted cover-up of an asbestos scandal at the Newcastle East Public School, a heritage building in New South Wales (NSW), Australia. A purported remediation program for the school in 2019 was “a cover to deal with the far greater problem of secretly eliminating friable asbestos, already found in multiple locations throughout the school, over the Christmas period.” Attempts by NSW authorities to dismiss concerns of parents and staff have proved fruitless in light of evidence regarding the toxic state of the school. See: Australian authorities sought to cover-up asbestos removal at Newcastle school.
 

Toxic Asbestos Legacy

Jul 16, 2020

The Spanish Society of Medical Oncology (SEOM) has endorsed a widely-supported manifesto calling for the development of a comprehensive asbestos law to address the asbestos challenges facing the country. Although asbestos use was banned in Spain in 2002, there is no regulation of the hazard posed by installed asbestos-containing products, no registry of asbestos-related diseases and a national underreporting of these diseases. In his statement, the President of the SEOM Álvaro Rodríguez-Lescure warned that asbestos incorporated within the Spanish infrastructure constitutes a hazard not only to workers but also to members of the public. See: La Sociedad de Oncología Médica pide una la ley del amianto para “evitar muertes” [The Society of Medical Oncology calls for an asbestos law to “prevent deaths”].
 

Action on Asbestos in Wales

Jul 15, 2020

On July 14, 2020 the Workforce Partnership Council – a tripartite social partnership structure of trade unions, employers and the Welsh Government – published a joint statement on managing asbestos in public buildings in Wales “in recognition of the serious health hazards associated with exposure to asbestos and the importance attributed to the safe identification and management of asbestos wherever it is found in public buildings.” Acknowledging the UK’s epidemic of asbestos-related mortality, the Welsh Government pledged to help raise awareness of the asbestos hazard which continues to endanger both members of the public and working people. See: Joint statement on managing asbestos in public buildings by the Welsh Government.
 

Asbestos in the Capital

Jul 15, 2020

On July 12, 2020, the Madrid City Council announced a program to inspect 63 of the city’s tunnels, after asbestos had been found in the Azca tunnel in the capital’s financial center. This tunnel, and 13 others, had previously been designated as in great need of renovation due to their age and dilapidated state. According to trade union officials: “of the 3,600 panels lining the Azca [tunnel], 85% contain asbestos.” See: Madrid pone en marcha una campaña para eliminar el amianto de los túneles de la capital [Madrid launches a campaign to eliminate asbestos from the capital's tunnels].
 

Asbestos Legacy

Jul 15, 2020

The illegal disposal of asbestos-containing debris continues to pose a serious problem to the citizens and authorities in Italy. The Guardia di Finanza – an Italian law enforcement agency under the authority of the Minister of Economy and Finance – recently announced that it had identified twelve sites where tonnes of hazardous waste – including asbestos debris – had been found. It was established that the toxic site where the waste was found was owned by the town of Scanzano in Southern Italy. The Guardia have tasked the town with the remediation of the area. See: Guardia di Finanza: sequestrati dodici siti con tonnellate di amianto abbandonato [Guardia di Finanza: twelve sites seized with tons of abandoned asbestos].
 

Asbestos in Schools

Jul 15, 2020

On July 13, 2020, a response was issued by the French Ministry of National Education to a Senate question submitted on April 16, 2020 which asked: “What measures does the Minister of National Education intend to take to ensure the safety of children and school staff against the presence of asbestos?” The answer from the Ministry reaffirmed the high priority the Government placed on the remediation of schools and pledged that although this issue was one for local authorities, the Ministry had – in collaboration with other Ministries – created a new unit to address the challenges posed by asbestos contamination of the country’s schools. See: Présence d'amiante dans les établissements scolaires [Presence of asbestos in schools].
 

Occupational Asbestos Education

Jul 15 2020

The Asbestos Victims’ Prevention Center – a new center for the training of asbestos removal operatives, supervisors and others – has opened in the city of Incheon in north-western South Korea. The Center provides on-the-job training to update knowledge and skills of first-line technicians and managers of asbestos removal projects. Similar initiatives in other regional centers are also working to raise industry standards; they include: the Chungnam Asbestos Victims Prevention Center and the Daejeon Asbestos Victims Prevention Center. See: (사)석면피해예방지원센터, 전국 석면종사자 대상 직무교육 나서[Asbestos Victims Prevention Center, to provide job training for asbestos (removal) workers nationwide].
 

São Paulo Carrier Going to Turkey

Jul 13, 2020

On July 1, 2020 Emgepron – a state owned company linked to Brazil’s Ministry of Defence – announced the French Government’s decision regarding the disposal of the São Paulo aircraft carrier, bought in 2000 from France and formerly named FS Foch. The company awarded the contract for the disposal of the ship was: Mediterranean Ship Breaking; the contract for the dismantling of the vessel was awarded to a ship recycling specialist in Aliga/Izmir, Turkey. Other bidders, including companies based at the Alang ship-breaking yards in Gujarat, India, were unsuccessful in their bids. See: Ata da reunião para  pré-credencimento licitação  de alienação de bens alienação [Minutes of the meeting for pre-accreditation bidding for the sale of assets].
 

Asbestos Remediation Program

Jul 13, 2020

The authorities of Jeju Island – the largest island in South Korea – have reported a huge increase in the number of applications for financial support for the removal of asbestos roofing from business and domestic properties. A spokesman for the provincial government reported on July 12, 2020 that by the end of June, a total of 1,072 requests had been received since February 5, 2020; 648 had been approved. An average of 228 applications – which came from claimants in 40+ towns and villages – were made per month. Up to the end of 2019, aid had been given for the removal of asbestos roofing from 6,553 buildings; in 2020, funding had been allocated for 1,590 grants. See: 제주, 석면 슬레이트 지붕 철거 지원사업 신청자 급증 [Jeju, asbestos slate roof demolition support applications surge].
 

National Asbestos Audit: Update

Jul 13, 2020

On July 8, 2020, Portugal’s Minister for the Environment and Climate Action João Pedro Matos Fernandes released a list of 3,868 public buildings in need of asbestos remediation work to a Parliamentary Commission. The majority (84%) of the affected buildings belonged to the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of National Defense and the Ministry of Justice. Parliamentary Deputies expressed concerns over the disposal of contaminated construction and demolition waste in landfills and the degree of danger to the environment and members of the public from that source. See: Edifícios com necessidade de intervenção e remoção de amianto são 3.868 [Buildings requiring intervention and removal of asbestos number 3,868].
 

Calls to Ban Asbestos!

Jul 13, 2020

An online petition sponsored by Australia’s Union Aid Abroad (APHEDA) has called on international agencies and lenders – such as the World Bank, Asian Development Bank and Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank which have offered “tens of billions of dollars in grants and additional ‘concessional’ credit to the world’s poorest countries” – to ensure that Covid-19 health and economic stimulus funding is not used to purchase asbestos-containing products for the construction of new infrastructure projects such as hospitals and other public buildings. See: To World Bank, IMF and AIIB: No asbestos in Covid 19 relief.
 

Producing Banned Asbestos in Brazil

Jul 13, 2020

Last week, Eternit, S.A., – formerly Brazil’s largest asbestos conglomerate – reported that, despite the national asbestos ban enshrined under a 2017 Supreme Court (SC) ruling, it planned to process thousands of tons of ore to produce asbestos fiber. The company said, it was allowed to do so under the terms of a contentious Goiás State law which countermanded the SC’s opinion. The work will be undertaken by the Eternit subsidiary SAMA, which operated the chrysotile (white) asbestos mine at Minaçu. It remains to be seen how the asbestos shipments will reach the ports as transport over public highways is forbidden. See: Eternit vai processar minério disponível para extração em instalações da SAMA [Eternit to process ore available for extraction at SAMA facilities].
 

Asbestos in Schools

Jul 13, 2020

Quercus, a Portuguese environmental organization founded in 1985, has issued warnings about hazards posed by hasty asbestos removal work, stating that government plans to remediate asbestos in 578 schools during the Summer months were not feasible due to a shortage of specialized operatives and the large number of premises affected. The lack of protective equipment and clothing, without which contractors would be at risk from toxic exposures, also presented a challenge. See: Profissionais que removem amianto podem estar em risco por falta de materiais de proteção, avisa Quercus [Professionals who remove asbestos may be at risk for lack of protective materials, warns Quercus].
 

Johnson & Johnson Accused!

Jul 9, 2020

Reuters has reported action by international groups condemning Johnson & Johnson (J&J) for its policy which has withdrawn asbestos-tainted baby powder from North American markets but not from overseas markets. In a statement by the US non-profit organization and advocacy group Black Women for Wellness, which was supported by 170 groups from 50+ countries, the health advocates questioned J&J’s avowed commitment to “fighting racial inequality” when it continued to target “Black and Brown consumers” in marketing efforts for its iconic but potentially toxic baby powder. See: Nonprofits urge Johnson & Johnson to halt sales of Baby Powder globally.
 

Protests over Asbestos Disposal

Jul 9, 2020

Local authorities and campaigners in the District of Porto in Northern Portugal, who have been protesting since 2018 over the perpetration of an environmental crime, have demanded that the Minister for the Environment “immediately ban asbestos [deposits] at the Recivalongo landfill.” Last month (June, 2020), it was announced that the political assembly of Valongo would initiate court action to shut the landfill over concerns regarding public health and environmental damage arising from serious, non-compliance with mandatory measures of the licensing entity. See: Valongo pede ao Governo “imediata proibição” de amianto no aterro em Sobrado [Valongo asks the Government for an “immediate ban” on asbestos at the Sobrado landfill].
 

Asbestos Hunger Strike

Jul 9, 2020

A sit-in by workers mounting a hunger strike began on July 6, 2020 in front of the town hall of Priolo Gargallo, a city on the island of Syracuse, southern Italy. During their employment by the Belleli company, the protestors had all been exposed to asbestos. An adverse July 4, 2020 verdict by the Catania Court of Appeal nullified a decision which had recognized social security rights and benefits for ten people who had worked at the asbestos-contaminated site. A spokesman for the demonstrators called for a ministerial act to administratively recognize workers' rights. See: Priolo, sit in e sciopero della fame di 10 lavoratori esposti ad Amianto [Priolo, sit-in and hunger strike of 10 workers exposed to asbestos].
 

Asbestos Eradication: Update

Jul 9, 2020

On July 6, 2020, deputies from Portugal’s centre-right Social Democratic Party tabled a series of questions for the Minister for the Environment and Climate Action about the presence, removal and deposition of asbestos in public buildings. Amongst the requests made in the document submitted were: the publication of a list of all asbestos-containing public buildings; the provision of the timetable and details of the nation-wide asbestos removal program in schools; and assurances regarding the safe disposal of asbestos-containing waste and debris including clarification of relevant legislation. See: Remoção e deposição de amianto: O que vai ser feito? [Asbestos removal and deposition: What will be done?].
 

Pioneering Covid-19 Initiative

Jul 7, 2020

Thousands of asbestos-injured citizens in Rio de Janeiro will benefit from a new outreach program by Brazil’s National School of Public Health (ENSP/Fiocruz) which is being coordinated by ENSP director and pulmonologist Hermano Castro and financed by the Public Labor Ministry with funds obtained from judicial penalties against Petrobras, a Brazilian petroleum multinational. Members of the medical team will conduct telephone and on-site interviews to support and assist these patients who are at high-risk of contracting Covid-19. See: ENSP/Fiocruz prestará assistência aos trabalhadores expostos ao amianto no contexto da pandemia [ENSP / Fiocruz will provide assistance to workers exposed to asbestos in the context of the pandemic].
 

Pioneering Asbestos Program

Jul 7, 2020

On July 1, 2020, the authorities in the South Korean Province of South Chungcheong announced plans to conduct an asbestos health survey, in collaboration with personnel from the Cheonan Hospital of Soonchunnhyang University, of residents in neighborhoods near a former asbestos mine. Residents over the age of 40 in Hongseong, Boryeong and Cheongyang who lived for more than 10 years within a 2 km radius of the mine will be interviewed, screened and medically examined as appropriate with follow-up testing conducted of those with symptoms. See: 충남, 석면 노출 우려지역 건강영향조사 재개 [Chungnam resumes health impact survey on asbestos-exposed areas].
 

Calls for Asbestos Action

Jul 7, 2020

Más Madrid – a community campaigning group in the Madrid neighborhood of Getafe – on July 3, 2020 protested the municipal authority’s failure to follow-up on a 2019 commitment to implement an asbestos eradication plan. Getafe is, according to the group, an asbestos hotspot due, not only to the former operations of the Uralita asbestos factory, but also to the widespread incorporation of asbestos in the built environment and “the state of neglect in which the industrial estates are, where illegal fiber cement discharges accumulate.” See: GETAFE/ Insisten en la necesidad de elaborar un plan para la retirada del amianto en el municipio [GETAFE / Insistence on the need to develop a plan for the removal of asbestos in the municipality].
 

Wittenoom: The Legacy

Jul 7, 2020

A historical novel about the health catastrophe caused by the commercial exploitation of asbestos at Western Australia’s Wittenoom crocidolite (blue) asbestos mine has been published by New Zealander Kara Douglas, whose father died aged 53 from the signature asbestos cancer, mesothelioma. The focus of The Air that we Breathe is the story of an Italian couple who move to the town of Wittenoom in 1961 to work at the asbestos mine. In an interview, the author said the objective of her book was mainly to: “increase awareness of asbestos for people reading it and hopefully save lives. They might read my book and think otherwise if they come across asbestos.” See: Driven to tell doomed WA town’s stories.
 

Ministry Officials Compensated

Jul 3, 2020

On June 30, 2020, an Administrative Court of Appeal in Nantes, France ruled that nine former employees of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs were entitled to receive up to €11,000 for asbestos exposures experienced whilst working at the landmark Tripod building in Nantes between 1972 and 1993. Verdicts in dozens of similar lawsuits initiated by work colleagues of the claimants in this case and other plaintiffs who were similarly exposed to asbestos at work are expected in the coming days. See: Amiante au Tripode de Nantes: neuf fonctionnaires indemnisés [Asbestos at the Nantes Tripode: nine officials compensated].
 

Mesothelioma: Update

Jul 3, 2020

PhD student Synat Keam, who is researching immunotherapy and radiotherapy combination treatments for mesothelioma at Australia’s National Centre for Asbestos Related Diseases, is this year’s recipient of the Douglas Peter Swift Scholarship. Keam plans to use the scholarship to investigate “immune checkpoint blockade treatments, which is a type of immunotherapy that works by enabling T cells to kill cancer cells.” Douglas Swift, who was exposed to asbestos whilst living in the asbestos mining town of Wittenoom, Western Australia, died of mesothelioma aged 53. His family and friends set up this scholarship in his memory. See: Researcher aims to find better way to treat deadly asbestos disease.
 

Asbestos in Schools

Jul 3, 2020

The announcement by the Prime Minister that £1 billion would be invested in renovating and rebuilding the UK’s educational infrastructure led to calls for action on the asbestos contamination of most UK schools. “It's shameful,” said MP David Morris “that teachers and pupils are still at risk from asbestos-riddled schools that should have been torn down long ago.” In an article on the website of Tes – a publication for education professionals – Morris pointed out: “Teachers in the UK are five times more likely than average to develop mesothelioma, the fatal lung disease most closely linked to the material. Meanwhile, exposure to asbestos in the earliest decades of a child’s life doubles their risk of the same outcome.” See: £1bn school building fund must expel asbestos forever.
 

Mesothelioma Incidence: Update

Jul 2, 2020

Annual figures released by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) on July 1, 2020 reported that in 2018 there had been 2,446 deaths from the signature asbestos cancer mesothelioma in Great Britain; 90+% of mesothelioma claimants lodged claims for Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefits. Also published on July 1, 2020 by the HSE was a 12-page report entitled Mesothelioma statistics for Great Britain, 2020 which noted that: “In Great Britain mesothelioma death rates for both males and females follow an upward trend over time with a levelling-off over recent years.” See: HSE releases annual workplace fatality figures for 2019/20.
 

Processing Asbestos Waste

Jul 2, 2020

In an interview published in a French language Canadian newspaper, Joël Fournier, founder of Alliance Magnesium, described progress achieved by the company in its objective of reclaiming magnesium, iron, silica and nickel from the asbestos waste created by decades of chrysotile (white) asbestos mining in Quebec. Fournier revealed the company had raised $145 million to build a factory in Danville, near Asbestos, in the Eastern Townships; amongst the six Alliance investors were: the Quebec and Canadian governments and a Japanese conglomerate. Health experts have warned of the health hazard posed by processing the hazardous mining debris. See: Premier gros chantier industriel depuis le début de la pandémie [Future plant to produce magnesium for automakers and aluminum smelters].
 

Asbestos Exposure at VW Factory

Jul 2, 2020

A commentary on the negligence of car manufacturer VW Navarra cited the March 2020 court ruling which condemned the company for exposing a former employee to asbestos at a factory in Northern Spain as a result of which he died from the asbestos cancer mesothelioma. Government documents cited in this text reported that the company had consistently failed to warn workers of the asbestos hazard and failed to take measures to protect employees from toxic exposures. The author concluded that: “all the workers who have passed through the factory at some time in history, at least until 2016, have been or may have been exposed to asbestos, with the possibility of developing a fatal disease.” See: Amianto en Volkswagen [Asbestos at Volkswagen].
 

Mesothelioma: Psychological Impact

Jul 2, 2020

A peer reviewed article uploaded on June 28, 2020 by British researchers reviewed evidence on the psychological effects of the asbestos cancer mesothelioma on patients and their carers and made recommendations regarding further research. The co-authors identified key findings including: the importance of carefully timed interventions, the need to address difficult feelings such as those arising from knowledge about the exposures which caused the disease and effective measures to improve information sharing and communication. There was, the paper concluded an “urgent need for more nuanced research.” See: What are the psychological effects of mesothelioma on patients and their carers? A scoping review.
 

Landmark Victory in Madrid

Jul 2, 2020

Madrid Metro – the company which runs the rapid transit system serving the Spanish capital – has for the first time paid out compensation to the family of a worker who died as a result of occupational exposure to asbestos. Julián Martín's family received €193,054 (~US$217,000) in an out of court settlement; Mr. Martin was the first of the company’s workers to have died from a recognized asbestos-related disease; six of his former colleagues have also died from asbestos diseases and 11 other workers have reported similar illnesses. See: Metro de Madrid indemniza por primera vez a los familiares de un fallecido por Amianto [Metro de Madrid compensates for the first time the relatives of a deceased by asbestos].
 

Asbestos Program for Military

Jun 29, 2020

On June 29, 2020, Korea’s defense ministry said it would eliminate asbestos from all military facilities to safeguard the health and safety of service personnel. A national asbestos audit in 2019 found that ~11,600 military structures were contaminated with asbestos, of which 5,450 buildings – such as barracks and restaurants inside bases – were in use every day. The target for removing asbestos from these structures is 2022, with the remediation of the others to be accomplished by 2025. Funding allocated for removal work in 2020 was US$58+ million with at least the same set aside per year for 2021-2025. See: Defense ministry to remove asbestos from all military structures by 2025.
 

Sad Anniversary

Jun 29, 2020

June 29, 2020 is the 15th anniversary of the “Kubota Shock (KS)”; the KS initiated a public awakening in Japan of the existence of a nation-wide epidemic of asbestos-related diseases. Since the KS, 600 people have died in Amagasaki City, Hyogo Prefecture – the location of a former Kubota company factory – from both occupational and environmental exposures to asbestos fibers liberated by the manufacturing at the Kanzaki site. According to asbestos victims’ campaigner Hiroshi Iida: “The damage is not over…It is a catastrophe that should not be forgotten.” See:「病魔今ごろ暴れだした」クボタ石綿被害、15年で600人に [“Disease now rampages” Kubota Asbestos damage, 600 people in 15 years].
 

Asbestos Remediation Program

Jun 29, 2020

Officials in Sardinia are calling on Gianni Lampis, the Regional Environmental Minister for Sardinia, to press the Italian government for the release of funds allocated for the removal and disposal of asbestos from public buildings such as schools and hospitals. The total amount earmarked for this work was €385 million, of which €35m was for asbestos remediation in Sardinia. As all the work funded under this program must be completed by December 31, 2025, Lampis has been asked to press the government to release these funds. See: Rimozione dell’amianto da scuole e ospedali: fondi ancora bloccati [Asbestos removal from schools and hospitals: funds still blocked].
 

Asbestos Legacy

Jun 29, 2020

The inhabitants of Kato Polemidia, Cyprus have been in limbo after demolition of an urban site. The price for the tender agreed with the town had been based on the reuse of rubble in municipal building works. When the debris was found to contain asbestos, this became impossible and the work to remove the waste was suspended. In the 18 months since then, discussions amongst city agencies and operatives regarding this problem proved fruitless. according to local politician Adamos Adamou, a solution to this problem is imminent. See: Επείγουσα επιστολή Επιτροπής Περιβάλλοντος για επίσπευση των διαδικασιών που αφορούν την κατεδάφιση του Βερεγγάρια [Letter from Environment Committee to expedite procedures for demolition of Berengaria].
 

Benefits Vacuum: Lung Cancer Cases

Jun 26, 2020

As of the end of 2018, more than US$735 million of Japanese government benefits allocated for the payment of compensation to asbestos victims remained unused due to a massive under-recording and under-recognition of cases of lung cancer caused by asbestos exposure. According to Professor Masahide Sakamoto, an expert on asbestos issues at Senshu University: “Surplus funds have amassed to nearly 80 billion yen because lung cancer patients could not be certified properly and there are holes in the system. The qualification criteria for lung cancer patients should be reviewed and consideration should be made for the benefits to be upgraded to a level that enables minimal living standards.” See: Japan gov't relief funds for asbestos going unused due to few lung cancer certifications.
 

Asbestos Action Plan

Jun 26, 2020

A manifesto calling for urgent action on asbestos was sent to government officials this week by a coalition of civil society groups in Spain. The campaigners urged that a Comprehensive Asbestos Law be adopted to make Spain “an international benchmark in the fight against the asbestos crisis in the world.” An online petition, which described the objectives of the law as protecting public, occupational and environmental health, had, to date, received 8,000 signatures; another petition calling for increased research into asbestos-related cancer had received 10,000 signatures. See: Una treintena de organizaciones y expertos insta al Gobierno a desarrollar una Ley Integral del Amianto [Thirty organizations and experts urge the Government to develop a Comprehensive Asbestos Law].
 

Failed by the State

Jun 26, 2020

An online commentary on a Japanese news portal considered the hypocrisy illustrated by Johnson & Johnson’s (J&J’s) decision to end sales of talc-based baby powder in North America whilst continuing to sell its toxic product in Japan. Questions asked to officials at Japan’s Consumer Affairs Agency and Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare by the author of the commentary about the hazards posed by exposing Japanese babies and their mothers to J&J’s baby powder were fobbed off with civil service doublespeak. No response was received from J&J Japan. See: 北米では販売中止に アスベスト入りベビーパウダーを日本はなぜ野放しに [Discontinued in North America Why baby powder with asbestos left unchecked in Japan].
 

Ban Asbestos Action

Jun 26, 2020

The Building and Wood Workers’ International (BWI) – a Global Trade Union Federation – has been at the forefront of the international campaign to protect workers from the asbestos hazard since the 1980s. Efforts to mobilize support for action to ban asbestos in the Middle East and Africa by BWI affiliates were considered during a June 15th webinar; 35 trade unionists compared notes about national asbestos panoramas and concluded that even where regulations and prohibitions existed, they were routinely flouted. According to BWI Regional Representative Crecentia Mofokeng, the participants of the meeting agreed that there was “a strong need to lobby different stakeholders to do more on this issue.” See: Workers intensify Asbestos ban campaign in Africa and Middle East.
 

Victims’ Verdict by Missouri Court

Jun 25, 2020

In a high-profile ruling on June 23, 2020 by an appellate court in Missouri, a verdict worth more than $2 billion in damages against Johnson & Johnson was upheld with scathing comments made about the company’s negligent behaviour: “A reasonable inference from all this evidence is that, motivated by profits, defendants disregarded the safety of consumers,” the court said. The plaintiffs alleged they had contracted ovarian cancer having been exposed to asbestos in the company’s talcum products, including its iconic baby powder. The court agreed that the plaintiffs had shown “clear and convincing evidence” of the defendants’ “outrageous” conduct. See: Women With Cancer Awarded Billions in Baby Powder Suit.
 

Alert over Abandoned Mine

Jun 25, 2020

The health hazard posed to people living downstream of the abandoned asbestos mine of Clinton Creek in the Yukon, remains decades after all mining operations were ceased according to the Canadian government. The former open-pit mine, which produced 940,000 tonnes of asbestos, was operational from 1967 to 1978 when it was decommissioned by its owner: Cassiar Asbestos Corporation. The federal government has said reclamation of the site will begin in 2026 but no plans have been published regarding the remediation. Neither Cassiar nor the company which bought Cassiar in 1991 have been held accountable for the environmental pollution created. See: Unremediated Yukon asbestos mine poses health hazards, flood risk 42 years after closing.
 

Asbestos in Schools

Jun 25, 2020

In a speech addressing Portugal’s post-Covid-19 challenges, Prime Minister António Costa enumerated projects that will be undertaken as part of the country’s Economic and Social Stabilization Program, amongst which was the issue of asbestos contamination of schools. The Prime Minister promised that: “We are going to simultaneously remove the [asbestos] fiber cement problem and attack the paralysis of the economy… this program mobilizes 60 million euros from community funds, which will be distributed to 578 schools,” he said. See: Covid-19: Programa de remoção do amianto das escolas envolve 60 milhões de euros [Covid-19: Asbestos removal program from schools involves 60 million euros].
 

Asbestos Tourist Attraction

Jun 23, 2020

At a June 23 press conference in Chelyabinsk – the 2nd largest city in Russia’s Ural Federal District – Presidential funding of 1.3 million rubles was announced for an industrial heritage project to memorialize the mining of chrysotile asbestos at the Kholisty mine in the Southern Urals. The developer of the tourist attraction was the South Ural Public Fund for the Promotion of the Preservation of Cultural Heritage; at the press conference, their spokesman explained the facilities on offer at the new facility including: a navigation system, information stands, recreation areas and viewing platforms. See: Под Миассом появится «Призрак горы Французской» [Near Miass will appear the “Phantom of the French Mountain” (heritage site)].
 

Ban Asbestos NOW!

Jun 23, 2020

A statement released by Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley on June 22, 2020, the 4th anniversary of the passing of the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act, deplored the US Government’s failure to progress public safety under the Act, citing the stalemate on asbestos saying: “Today, not only has EPA failed to ban asbestos, they have failed even to complete the review required by law. This unconscionable delay will cost thousands more American lives. Roughly 40,000 Americans each year die from asbestos-related causes, and this number will not decline until we take decisive action to protect Americans from asbestos.” See: Merkley criticizes years of EPA delays, urges Congress to ban asbestos.
 

Alert: Toxic Talc

Jun 23, 2020

France’s Association for the Defense of Asbestos Victims (Andeva) has raised the alert over the public health hazard posed by ongoing sales of consumer products contaminated with asbestos fibers citing Johnson & Johnson talc-based baby powder and other cosmetic products including those marketed by the US companies Revlon and Avon and the French companies Chanel and Sanofi. After receiving the alert from Andeva, France’s Minister of Health Olivier Véran alerted the European Rapex system about the situation. See: De l’amiante encore détecté dans des produits cosmétiques, dont le talc pour bébé [Asbestos still detected in cosmetic products, including baby talc].
 

Another Asbestos Discovery

Jun 23, 2020

In a company circular dated June 19, 2020, Metro de Madrid – the rapid transit system in the Spanish capital – announced that asbestos had been found in a G32 valve gasket integrated in suspension panels in train cars 2000B, 6000, 7000, 8000 first and 9000 series. The company assured workers that it was committed to the removal of “all traces” of asbestos from the network and was analyzing “each and every part of the trains, as well as the Metro facilities to detect this material, and, where appropriate, remove it.” See: Metro de Madrid localiza una nueva pieza con amianto en trenes de diversos modelos [Metro de Madrid locates a new piece with asbestos in trains of various models].
 

Asbestos Remediation Program

Jun 23, 2020

On June 11, 2020 the council of the Italian town of Siena, in collaboration with a privately-owned company: SEI Toscana, launched a “stop asbestos” service to progress the eradication of asbestos in the municipality; asbestos remediation has been designated a high priority objective by the regional authorities in Tuscany. Individuals can access the service for the collection of asbestos-cement material from their homes in Siena for an initial payment of €57; additional charges may be imposed. This initiative was designed to prevent the illegal dumping of asbestos waste in rural areas. See: “Stop Amianto,” il Comune di Siena aderisce al servizio opzionale [“Stop asbestos,” the Municipality of Siena implements an optional service].
 

More Asbestos Lies?

Jun 19, 2020

Highly unlikely assertions are made in an article on a Russian website which alleged that young divers in the US Navy are required to wear asbestos fire suits and run through the compartments of nuclear submarines as part of qualifying procedures. The author of this text stated that: “Fireproof suits made of fireproof “mountain flax” [chrysotile asbestos] are included in the compulsory equipment of the US Navy submarine team.” Enquiries are being pursued with US authorities to ascertain whether this statement is true. See: Асбестовая рубашка для молодого подводника: традиции ВМФ США [Asbestos shirt for a young diver: traditions of the US Navy].
 

Asbestos Fact and Fiction

Jun 19, 2020

A paper uploaded to the website of the Journal of Occupational Medicine and Toxicology on June 15, 2020 reviewed key issues in the ongoing debate over banning asbestos, pinpointing fallacious arguments still being used by vested interests to forestall action by national or international authorities regarding the asbestos hazard. Whilst author Dr. Arthur Frank agreed that legitimate scientific questions remain such as “potential differential toxicity and carcinogenicity of different fiber types,” there were, he asserted, far more illegitimate issues being perpetuated by the industry lobby including: the myth of the “safe” use of asbestos and the chrysotile hypothesis. See: Global use of asbestos – legitimate and illegitimate issues.
 

MoD Guilty!

Jun 19, 2020

On June 11, the Civil Court in Rome ordered the Ministry of Defense (MoD) to pay €627,000 (US$705,414) to the family of a military worker who died from mesothelioma as a result of occupational asbestos exposure. The deceased had served for 17 years on naval ships as a motor engineer and was routinely exposed to asbestos-containing insulation in engine rooms and elsewhere. The verdict condemned the MoD with the Judge ruling that despite the “incontrovertible evidence about the harmfulness of asbestos” the MoD had not acted to protect employees from potentially fatal exposures. See: Morti d’amianto e navi militari: condannato il Ministero della Difesa [Asbestos deaths and military ships: Ministry of Defense sentenced].
 

Call for Action on Toxic Powder

Jun 18, 2020

A press release issued by the Asbestos Victims Support Groups Forum UK (the Forum) on June 17, 2020 highlighted the ongoing hazard posed to UK citizens by the continuing sale of Johnson & Johnson (J&J) talc-based baby powder, a product which has been withdrawn from US and Canadian markets. Condemning the double standards implicit in J&J’s actions, Forum Chair Joanne Gordon asked: “Would busy UK families be aware of the controversy over the continuing sale of J&J’s toxic talc-based baby powder or be in the position to make an informed choice about the risks posed by using a product that might contain asbestos fibres?” See: Health Alert: Asbestos in Baby Powder.
 

Claiming Asbestos Compensation

Jun 18, 2020

Research was conducted in Italy to establish the process by which mesothelioma sufferers filed claims for compensation and the key factors which determined whether claims were made. Data sourced from national registries and the Italian national insurance institute relating to 5,000+ people diagnosed with mesothelioma between 2010 and 2015 established that 66.2% of those eligible made claims. The co-authors of this paper concluded that there was “a need to enforce policies for improving awareness of the occupational origin for mesothelioma cases.” See: Predictors of filing claims and receiving compensation in malignant mesothelioma patients.
 

Victory in Mesothelioma Case

Jun 17, 2020

A settlement was reached in Hemms v the Trustees of the Countess of Huntingdon's Connexion and Bath and North East Somerset Council despite an earlier verdict in Bannister v Freemans PLC in which the judge had advocated a statistical approach to whether asbestos exposure had increased the claimant’s risk of mesothelioma. Solicitor Patrick Walsh, who represented the deceased mesothelioma victim Gordon Hemms, said: “This case illustrates the fact that a substantial settlement in a low dose asbestos exposure case can be achieved if the claim is pursued vigorously and the right expert witnesses are instructed by the claimant.” See: Claimant asbestos lawyers advised to resist approach that succeeded in Bannister v Freemans PLC.
 

Concerns for Victims’ Fund

Jun 17, 2020

On June 16, 2020, officials of the Swiss Asbestos Victims Compensation Fund (EFA) expressed concerns about the financial viability of this government scheme for sufferers of mesothelioma which could run out of money by the end of 2021. In 2019 EFA received more claims (88) and paid out more compensation (4.77 million francs) than ever before. Since it was set up in 2017, EFA has received 24m francs in contributions out of a total budget of 100m francs; it is feared that the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic could adversely effect the amount of donations received. See: Amiante: le Fonds d’indemnisation des victimes craint pour son financement [Asbestos: the Victims' Compensation Fund fears for its funding].
 

Victim’s Verdict in NJ

Jun 17, 2020

On June 3, 2020 in a 5:2 decision, the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled that equipment manufacturers could be held strictly liable for failing to issues warnings regarding the hazard posed by asbestos-containing component parts, including replacement parts, made or supplied by third parties which had been used in their products. For 40 years, the plaintiff Arthur Whelan – who contracted mesothelioma – had worked as a plumber and auto mechanic. Subsequent to this verdict, the case Whelan v. Armstrong Intl was remanded to the trial court. See: Whether Asbestos-Containing Components Were Manufactured by Third Parties No Longer Matters in New Jersey.
 

Asbestos Eradication

Jun 17, 2020

The council of the Spanish island of La Gomera announced progress on the audit of its territory to identify the presence of asbestos-containing material; the efforts made, to date, constituted the initial phase of an asbestos eradication program which pioneered the use of a fieldwork application to collect data, generate maps and integrate facts into an information system. Investigations carried out in the areas of Alajerò, Hermigua, San Sebastián de La Gomera and Vallehermoso identified 100+ sites where asbestos-containing material was identified in roofs, pipes and water systems. See: La Gomera ha realizzato uno studio sulla presenza di amianto nel territorio insulare [La Gomera has carried out a study on the presence of asbestos in the island territory].
 

Asbestos Outreach Program

Jun 17, 2020

Earlier this month, Brazilian Pulmonologist Dr. Hermano Castro, director of the Escola Nacional de Saúde Pública (ENSP/ the National School of Public Health), announced that home visits to members of the Brazilian Association of the Asbestos-Exposed (ABREA) living in Rio de Janeiro would be carried out in light of their heightened vulnerability to the coronavirus. During these appointments, health check-ups would be undertaken and flu vaccinations offered by members of the Asbestos Covid-19 Action team. See: Photo of the Action team.
 

Asbestos Outrage in Philadelphia

Jun 12, 2020

Teachers, school staff and students demonstrated on June 10, 2020 in front of the headquarters of the school district over the widespread asbestos contamination found in schools in Philadelphia and denounced the unsafe conditions created by slipshod asbestos removal work, with one elementary school nurse categorizing the situation as a “public health crisis.” The protesters alleged that the health hazard created by the presence of asbestos in their schools was an example of systemic racism. See: Educators protest racism, health hazards in Philly schools.
 

Victim’s Verdict in Rome

Jun 12, 2020

Cotral SpA, the company which runs public transport services in the Lazio region of Italy, was ordered by a court in Rome to pay compensation of €294,000 to the surviving family of a worker who died in 2011 from asbestos cancer. The deceased, who had routinely experienced occupational exposure to asbestos, had worked as a laborer for Cotral SpA from 1981 to 1992 maintaining the escalators of Rome’s subway system and working in the bus depot or mechanical workshop. See: Amianto, Cotral condannata per la morte per tumore di un manovale [Asbestos, Cotral reponsible for the death of a laborer from cancer].
 

EPA Meeting on Asbestos

Jun 12, 2020

This week (June 8-11), the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) held a virtual public meeting of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Science Advisory Committee on Chemicals [Docket Number EPA–HQ–OPPT–2019–0501] to consider the 310-page Draft Risk Evaluation for of Asbestos. Medical professionals, scientists, occupational health experts, public health campaigners and asbestos victims have been highly critical of the exemptions proposed in this report which would allow the continued use of asbestos. The original date for this meeting had been postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. See: Peer Review of the Draft Risk Evaluation of Asbestos.
 

Firefighters and Asbestos

Jun 12, 2020

In a landmark judgment by the Court of Trieste, the causation of the 2008 death of a firefighter was recognized as occupational and the Ministry of the Interior was condemned for negligence in failing to prevent toxic exposures to asbestos of personnel from the Fire Department. The Ministry initially denied that the firefighter had died from occupational asbestos exposure. Over a career of 34 years, the fireman had used asbestos gloves and overalls. The deceased’s family will receive a life-time monthly allowance of ~€1,500 and a lump sum of €228,000. See: Vigile del Fuoco morto per amianto, Tribunale di Trieste condanna il Ministero dell’Interno [Firefighter who died of asbestos, Court of Trieste condemns the Ministry of the Interior].
 

Asbestos Manufacturing & Public Health

Jun 10, 2020

A paper uploaded on June 9, 2020 to the American Journal of Industrial Medicine considered the health consequences for people who lived near Spain’s first asbestos-cement factory which was operational in the Barcelona area between 1907 and 1997 by studying data from patients diagnosed with malignant asbestos-related disease between 2007 and 2016. The authors concluded that: “More than 20 years after the closure of the fiber cement plant, the grave consequences of exposure to asbestos remain. The detection of cases of pleural mesothelioma in men seems to have plateaued whereas in women an ascending trend continues…” See: Malignant asbestos-related disease in a population exposed to asbestos.
 

Toxic Talc

Jun 10, 2020

In the wake of the scandal over the sale of asbestos-contaminated cosmetics, three of the biggest global cosmetic brands – Chanel, Revlon and L’Oreal – are taking steps to protect their reputations and bottom lines by eliminating talc-based products from their ranges according to a report just issued by Reuters. In light of the Johnson & Johnson baby powder fiasco and the ~20,000 lawsuits the company is facing, Chanel has been eliminating talc from face and body powders and Revlon has been transitioning to talc-free body products. See: Exclusive: Chanel, Revlon, L'Oreal pivoting away from talc in some products.
 

Double Standards: Toxic Talc

Jun 10, 2020

A press release issued on June 4, 2020 by Andeva – a national group representing French Asbestos Victims – denounced the double standards of the US multinational Johnson & Johnson in withdrawing from sale talc-based baby powder – alleged to contain asbestos fibers – only from US and Canadian markets. Deploring the double standards of the company, Andeva said: “This announcement is shameful. As if the life of an Asian, a Latin American or a European is worth less than that of a North American.” Andeva urged the French Government to act swiftly to protect its citizens from toxic exposures. See Andeva Press Release: L’Andeva alerte le minister de la Santé [Andeva alerts the Minister of Health].
 

The Human Cost of Asbestos Use

Jun 10, 2020

Switzerland’s accident insurance fund (Suva) has predicted that the annual incidence of asbestos-related mortality will continue to grow. There are currently 120 deaths from the signature asbestos cancer mesothelioma every year; this figure could reach 170 in the future. To date, Suva has recognized over 5,100 cases of occupationally-induced asbestos-related diseases and despite a national ban on asbestos, the number of claims is increasing. Although a fund set up to compensate asbestos victims in 2017 has raised 12m francs (~US$12.6m), by 2025 100 million francs could be needed to pay the claims which are expected to be made. It is, said a Suva representative “only a matter of time before the money runs out.” See: Amianto, le vittime di cancro aumenteranno [Asbestos, cancer victims will increase].
 

Asbestos in Schools

Jun 8, 2020

On a June 6, 2020 site visit to Kamenu Primary school in Thika – an industrial town northeast of Nairobi – Kenyan MP Patrick Wainaina announced that municipal authorities would soon begin a program to remove and properly dispose of asbestos in local public schools in order to protect the health of students, teachers and non-teaching staff. Wainaina said his office would engage with the National Environment Management Authority and other relevant agencies to ensure work was done according to the tightest regulations. The MP said: “We initiated a water harvesting programme in schools to address water shortage and ensure schools have sufficient clean water for hygiene purposes. But the programme is facing hurdles in some schools where there are asbestos roofs.” See: Thika to remove asbestos roofs from schools.
 

Asbestos Remediation Fund

Jun 8, 2020

A program has been set up by the Development and Cohesion Fund of Italy’s Ministry of the Environment with an allocation of €10 million to remediate asbestos in dozens of school buildings and hospitals throughout the Region of Tuscany. To date, detailed plans have been drawn up to undertake work on 18 hospitals at a cost of €7,440,000 and 54 schools at a cost of €2,630,000. Work has already begun on some of the contaminated structures under the supervision of the regional authorities. See: Amianto, 10 milioni per interventi di bonifica in scuole e ospedali [Asbestos, 10 million for remediation in schools and hospitals].
 

Asbestos Legacy

Jun 8, 2020

The Madrid City Council has found that 14% of the fiber cement linings in the Azca tunnel contained asbestos. They will be replaced as a matter of priority with steel panels; the work will be undertaken by specialist contractors following EU guidelines. The tunnel was, said the municipal corporation, built in the late 1960s and the asbestos panels were “near the end of their useful life.” Similar structures throughout Madrid will be inspected to ensure that there is no asbestos in other city tunnels built before 2003. See: Madrid halla amianto en el interior de los túneles de Azca y sustituirá los paneles contaminados [Madrid finds asbestos inside the Azca tunnels and will replace the contaminated panels].
 

Propaganda Offensive in Ukraine

Jun 5, 2020

A text on a Ukraine news portal with the headline “Is it possible to use asbestos?” repeated asbestos industry’s arguments stating that chrysotile asbestos was “the safest among industrial [asbestos] fibers” and that exposure to chrysotile “should not cause concern about the harmful effects on the body with controlled use.” This infomercial concluded as follows: “Due to the Euro-oriented course of Ukraine, in 2017 in our country they also tried to ban all asbestos-containing materials, including those with safe chrysotile. But, fortunately, the decision of the Ministry of Health was suspended by the court, and today the use of chrysotile asbestos is legal.” See: Влияние асбеста на организм человека – можно ли использовать асбест [The effect of asbestos on the human body – is it possible to use asbestos].
 

Support for US Asbestos Ban

Jun 5, 2020

On June 2, 2020, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey and 12 other attorney generals submitted comments criticizing the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) finding that some uses of asbestos present no unreasonable risk to human health. Reasserting that the “dangers of asbestos are indisputable,” the Attorney Generals urged “the EPA to stop this farce and actually consider science and evidence as it evaluates the risk of this known carcinogen.” See: California Attorney General Criticizes EPA for Failing to Protect Americans from Asbestos, a Long-Known Dangerous Carcinogen.
 

Guernsey Compensation Scheme

Jun 5, 2020

On June 4, 2020, the States of Guernsey – the parliament of one of the British Channel islands – approved an initiative to pay compensation to all sufferers of the signature asbestos cancer mesothelioma. The scheme, which will be rolled out in 20201, will cost Guernsey £100,000 a year. Attempts by the Policy and Resources Committee to delay the implementation of the scheme were overcome with one opponent claiming that such a delay was “unnecessary, destructive and cruel.” Jersey, another Channel Island, agreed to pay mesothelioma sufferers compensation in 2018. See: Asbestos-related cancer compensation scheme approved in Guernsey.
 

Deadly Asbestos Legacy

Jun 3, 2020

The results of an annual health report by Japan's Environment Ministry confirmed that more than 30% of respondents to the ministry’s survey had developed symptoms of asbestos-related conditions by inhaling asbestos liberated by the operations of local asbestos-using factories. The authors of the report documenting the newly released data warned that the figure of “over 30%” was an underestimate of the likely impact of asbestos exposures on local populations. Despite this and other government initiatives, many people remain unaware of the environmental hazard posed by their exposure to asbestos say health and safety campaigners in Japan. See: Link between local residents' illnesses and asbestos use at factories: Japan study.
 

Asbestos in Classic Cars

Jun 3, 2020

A commentary by a car enthusiast on a US specialist website highlighted the health hazards posed to car restorers by the presence of asbestos in parts contained in classic and vintage cars such as: brake pads, brake linings, clutch discs, transmission parts, gaskets, valve rings and hood linings. Asbestos was also used in some fiberglass or plastic bodywork, insulation and under coatings. The author of this text reported that mechanics and body shop technicians were at a higher risk of exposure to asbestos whilst working on older vehicles; over time, friable asbestos fibers collected in brake drums and transmission housing and could easily be inhaled during operations such as changing a clutch disc or brake shoes. See: Restoring classic and vintage cars containing asbestos parts.
 

Price Gouging in Bengal

Jun 3, 2020

In the aftermath of Cyclone Amphan and with the Covid-19 pandemic still raging in the Indian state of West Bengal: “Bamboo that used to cost Rs150 is now Rs500. Each 8×3 asbestos sheet cost Rs530 earlier but is selling for Rs650.” Materials needed to repair damage caused by the storm are in short supply; with no help from local, regional or national authorities, families are trying to provide shelter using whatever supplies are available including old saris, plastic sheeting and hazardous asbestos-cement roofing. See: Covid, cyclone, lockdown: All lines blur in Sundarbans.
 

Update: Global Asbestosis Data

Jun 1, 2020

Data and conclusions in a study supported by grants from the National Natural Science Foundation of China reinforced opinions in a blog entitled China’s Rejection of Asbestos: Official regarding growing support of the Chinese government for a transition to asbestos-free technology. The authors of the paper stated: “Furthermore, the most pronounced increases in ASIR [age-standardised incidence rate] of asbestosis were detected in high-income North America and Australasia. These findings indicate that efforts to change the asbestos regulation policy are urgently needed.” See: Increasing incidence of asbestosis worldwide, 1990–2017: results from the Global Burden of Disease study 2017.
 

National Asbestos Action

Jun 1, 2020

Portugal’s Ministry of Finance announced that a list of all government buildings, including schools, which contain asbestos would be released by the end of June 2020. Although the Assembly of Portugal had endorsed plans for a phased nationwide asbestos remediation effort, work had been delayed by the coronavirus pandemic. Campaigners for the group SOS Amianto criticized the government’s plans – which are estimated to cost €422m – for their lack of mandatory “risk assessments” to identify the level of hazard posed by the presence of asbestos products at particular sites. See: Amianto: 9 anos depois, governo divulga lista das escolas [Asbestos: 9 years later, government releases list of schools].
 

Another type of asbestos-free brakes!

Jun 1, 2020

Environmentally friendly motorcycle brake pads using coffee grinds have been pioneered by an entrepreneur in Vietnam: Mr. Nguyen Thai Son – Director of Nam Khanh Brake Joint Stock Company. “Using this material not only recycles coffee grounds, but also helps create a unique aroma for each product,” he said. The Institute of Building Materials (Ministry of Construction) has certified this product asbestos-free. The company plans to promote sales in Vietnam and abroad targeting markets in Thailand and Cambodia. See: á phanh xe được làm từ ... bã cà phê [Brake pads made from ... coffee grounds].
 

Asbestos: New Restrictions

Jun 1, 2020

Last week, regulations were tightened in Japan in the Revised Air Pollution Control Act to prevent the liberation of asbestos during demolition work on contaminated buildings. The new provisions mandated the commissioning and submission of asbestos audits to local authorities before work on asbestos-containing structures was begun; these regulations, which will be implemented by 2022, could increase the number of dismantling projects supervised by the Ministry of Environment from 16,000 to 320,000 per year. See: アスベスト飛散防止徹底へ 改正大気汚染防止法が成立 [Thorough prevention of asbestos scattering as Revised Air Pollution Control Law enacted].
 

Asbestos Remediation in Mato Grosso

Jun 1, 2020

On May 29, 2020 work on replacing a 40-year old network of asbestos-containing water pipes was recommenced in a neighborhood in Cuiabá, the capital city of the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso, as part of a program to improve the quality of water distributed by the public utility company; the work had been suspended because of the State’s Covid-19 quarantine. The deteriorating asbestos pipes are being removed with safer pipes installed for the transport of water to the localities affected. See: Rede de amianto será substituída na Rua Feliciano Galdino a partir de amanhã [Asbestos network will be replaced on Rua Feliciano Galdino from tomorrow].
 

Legal Victory for Asbestos Victim

May 30, 2020

The Superior Court of Justice of Andalusia awarded compensation of €222,765 – including moral damages – to the family of a doctor who had worked for 24 years for the Spanish asbestos giant Uralita; as a result of asbestos exposure at the company’s factory in Seville, the doctor contracted the fatal asbestos cancer mesothelioma. The company argued that as a medical professional, the doctor should have taken preventative measures to protect himself from the hazards posed by working at the Uralita facility. See: Indemnizan con 222.765€ a los herederos del médico de empresa de Uralita fallecido de mesothelioma [Compensation for heirs of the Uralita company doctor who died of mesothelioma with €222,765].
 

UK Mesothelioma Audit

May 30, 2020

On May 28, 2020, the fourth UK National Mesothelioma Audit was published by the Royal College of Physicians; the research and publication of this work was commissioned and funded by Mesothelioma UK. Based on data sourced from ~7,000 mesothelioma patients in England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Guernsey, the authors noted: “improvements in survival, clinical nurse specialist assessment, pathologic subtyping and multidisciplinary team (MDT) discussion, with particular note of a doubling of referrals to the national peritoneal mesothelioma MDT since the last report published in 2018.” See: National Mesothelioma Audit report 2020.
 

Asbestos at the Power Station

May 30, 2020

On May 25, 2020, eight chimneys at the Hazelwood power station in Victoria, Australia were demolished; each one contained 50 kilograms of asbestos. The facility which was built in the 1960s was sited in the town of Morwell in the LaTrobe Valley; it was closed in March, 2017. According to a spokesman for Engie – the company which owned the power station: “There is absolutely no risk that asbestos will be anywhere other than on the ground, and ultimately remediated on site and stored in an approved cell.” See: Hazelwood power station's eight chimneys demolished in live stream viewed by thousands.
 

Victims’ Precedent in Malta

May 30, 2020

On March 27, 2020, Malta’s Constitutional Court delivered a judgement on a case brought by the family of a shipyard worker who had, as a result of occupational asbestos exposure over 28 years, died of cancer on April 20, 2018. Key segments of the ruling could have implications for future cases not least of which was the finding that cases in which moral damages were being sought for contractual breaches could be heard under ordinary civil law in ordinary courts and not exclusively in constitutional courts. See: The Constitutional Court and monetary compensation.
 

Asbestos Fly-Tipping in Korea

May 30, 2020

On May 27, 2020, a 25-ton dump truck was spotted by scores of residents in the forested outskirts of Jinju, a city in the South Gyeongsang Province of South Korea. Suspicions over the activities of the truck’s operators were reported to the police and as a result three men were arrested and charged under the Industrial Waste Management Act with the illegal disposal of 100 tonnes of asbestos-containing industrial waste. The truck had counterfeit markings on it identifying it as belonging to a government agency. The Jinju city cleaning department was commissioned to remove the toxic debris and remediate the area. See: 산업폐기물 1급 발암물질 '석면' 몰래 버리다 주민신고로 덜미 [Industrial waste, first-class carcinogen, ‘asbestos’].
 

Yet More Asbestos Misinformation!

May 25, 2020

Another Russian article about the decision to withdraw Johnson & Johnson’s iconic baby powder from sale in the US and Canada was used to reassert asbestos industry propaganda regarding the “harmless” nature of chrysotile (white) asbestos. The author pointed out that: “chrysotile asbestos poses the least danger to people… [and] has been successfully used for decades and continues to be used in Russia, the CIS countries, Latin America and Southeast Asia. There is no ban on the use of chrysotile asbestos even in the USA.” See: Культивируемый в США страх перед асбестом позволил развернуть кампанию против Johnson&Johnson [US-cultivated fear of asbestos boosts campaign against Johnson & Johnson].
 

Victory in Asbestos Case

May 26, 2020

On May 21, 2020, in a unanimous decision, the California Supreme Court overturned a 2018 Appeals Court ruling and reinstated the 2017 verdict of an Alameda County jury which had awarded Frank C. Hart $1.6 million for occupational asbestos exposure which resulted in his contracting the asbestos cancer mesothelioma. At the heart of the Supreme Court’s verdict was its acceptance of the validity of testimony relating to product identification: e.g. that evidence given by a foreman remembering the logo of Keenan Properties on paperwork was sufficient to establish the company’s culpability. See: State high court reinstates verdict against company for fatal cancer caused by asbestos.
 

Toxic Talc

May 26, 2020

On May 22, 2020, in the aftermath of news that Johnson & Johnson would no longer sell its iconic baby powder in the US and Canada, the Penang Consumers Association called on the Malaysian Ministry of Health to ban talcum powder and products based on talc powder. To avoid the hazard posed by exposure to talcum powder contaminated with asbestos, the association advised consumers to use products containing corn starch or white rice powder for personal hygiene and recommended that ointment not talcum powder be used to avoid nappy rashes in babies. See: 槟消协促政府禁含滑石粉产品 [Penang Consumer Association urges the government to ban products containing talc].
 

Asbestos Exposure at the Bakery

May 26, 2020

On May 20, 2020, a Coroner’s Court in Oxford ruled that the death in February 2020 of 61-year old Kevin Manley from epithelioid mesothelioma had been caused by exposure to asbestos whilst working for the Tip Top company in the 1970s. During his employment, the deceased had used heat-proof asbestos safety gloves whilst working with an industrial oven; Mr. Manley had been reassured by his manager that although the gloves were made from asbestos, they were not dangerous “because the substance was in cloth form.” The Coroner concluded that the cause of Mr Manley’s death was industrial disease. See: Banbury ‘Tip Top’ Bakery worker died after asbestos poisoning from gloves.
 

Asbestos SOS

May 26, 2020

This week, Portugal’s Parliament will be discussing plans to reinvigorate an economy decimated by Covid-19. António Costa, Secretary General of the Socialist Party, will call on the Government to address the country’s asbestos legacy as part of a coordinated program to reduce bureaucracy, create jobs and generate investment. “Now that schools are closed,” Costa told journalists, “it is also now or never that we have to eliminate asbestos from schools. We have to launch a major operation to eliminate asbestos from schools.” See: “Simplex SOS” põe fim ao amianto nas escolas [“Simplex SOS” put an end to asbestos in schools].
 

Toxic Talc Withdrawn

May 21, 2020

Johnson & Johnson (J&J) has announced that its iconic but contentious baby powder will be withdrawn from sale in the US and Canada. Although a company statement asserted that this action was taken “as part of a portfolio assessment related to Covid-19,” it is more likely that the ~20,000 pending lawsuits over cancers caused by exposure to J&J’s asbestos-contaminated baby powder were paramount in the decision despite the company’s continuing assertions that: “Decades of scientific studies by medical experts around the world support the safety of our product.” See: Johnson & Johnson to stop selling baby powder in US and Canada.
 

Asbestos Industry Offensive

May 21, 2020

Using news that Johnson & Johnson is withdrawing its toxic baby powder from sale in the US and Canada as a hook, a Russian article refloated industry propaganda defending chrysotile (white) asbestos; Russia is the world’s largest supplier of chrysotile fiber and Russian asbestos lobbyists continue to mount an aggressive global campaign promoting sales even in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic. Propaganda in this article included statements such as: “According to available scientific studies, chrysotile asbestos is safe for controlled use” and “chrysotile is not dangerous to human health.” See: Американский онколог поставил под сомнение правомерность иска к Johnson&Johnson [American oncologist questioned the validity of the lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson].
 

Asbestos in Schools

May 21, 2020

A December 2019 resolution by the Parliament of Portugal, which recommended that the Portuguese Government “proceed with the urgent elaboration of a plan for the removal of all asbestos material from public schools,” was published on May 19, 2020 in the Diário da República, the official gazette of the Government of Portugal. The Parliamentary resolution urged that detailed plans and budgets be drawn up for removing asbestos from schools. See: Parlamento pede a Governo plano para retirada de amianto das escolas [Parliament asks Government for plan to remove asbestos from schools].
 

Legal Victory in Spain!

May 21, 2020

A Basque Country court has countermanded a ruling by the National Institute of Social Security (INSS) which had refused a pension to a worker disabled by the cancer mesothelioma which he contracted as a result of occupational exposure to asbestos at former employers: Aceros de Llodio and Sidenor de Basauri, Spanish steel-making companies. Social Court 2 of Vitoria-Gasteiz awarded the claimant the right to a full pension due to his permanent and total disability. Commenting on the outcome, a local asbestos victims’ group denounced the INSS’s refusal to recognize the rights of asbestos victims. See: Denuncian la “injusta” actitud del INSS de “ocultar” los cánceres del Amianto [Denouncement of “unfair” attitude of the INSS to “hide” asbestos cancers].
 

Asbestos and Lung Cancer

May 21, 2020

A feature article in the May 10 Sunday issue of a popular Vietnamese online newspaper highlighted the lung cancer risk posed by asbestos exposures stating that: “People working in the construction and repair industry of cars are at the highest risk of asbestos exposure because this material has been used in buildings and automobile manufacturing industry.” In recent years, intense pressure has been brought to bear by asbestos lobbyists on the government to forestall efforts to implement restrictions and prohibitions on asbestos use in Vietnam (Vietnam’s Asbestos Frontline 2019). See: 7 nguy cơ gây ung thư phổi [7 risks for lung cancer].
 

Asbestos Alert!

May 18, 2020

Tests undertaken in the US have identified asbestos in talc-containing eye shadow palettes being sold on Amazon, eBay and an online website. Almost 90% of the shades tested in the Jmkcoz Eyeshadow Palette kit, Beauty Glazed Gorgeous and Me Eye Shadow Tray Palette were found to contain “up to nearly 3.9 million asbestos fiber structures per gram.” In recent years, there have been multiple discoveries of asbestos contamination of cosmetic and make-up products. In May 2018, UK campaigners reported that scientists had found asbestos fibers in children’s make-up products being sold in a London retail outlet. See: Alert: Tests Find Asbestos in Talc-Based Eye Shadow Kits.
 

Asbestos Propaganda:2020

May 18, 2020

Poorly camouflaged propaganda extolled the use of chrysotile asbestos building products in Russia today. The author described the use of asbestos material in renovation work and new builds of schools, arenas and public housing and highlighted the work of Orenburg Minerals – Russia’s biggest producer of asbestos – before concluding: “Management companies, construction contractors and municipal authorities choose chrysotile, because it is suitable for any climate and weather conditions, easy to operate and will last for many years.” See: «Оренбургские минералы» и капитальный ремонт: Россия выбирает хризотилцементные материалы [Orenburg Minerals and Renovation: Russia Chooses Chrysotile Cement Materials].
 

Toxic Talc

May 18, 2020

Imerys – a company involved in US litigation over asbestos-contaminated talc – reached a settlement last week which will end personal injury lawsuits against the company’s three talc subsidiaries in North America: Imerys Talc America, Imerys Talc Vermont and Imerys Talc Canada; the assets of these subsidiaries will be sold to settle the cancer disputes in the US. The agreement, which was announced on May 15, 2020, provided for a restructuring plan as part of ongoing corporate restructuring efforts under Chapter 11. See: North American Talc Subsidiaries of Imerys File Plan of Reorganization and Disclosure Statement.
 

Asbestos in Schools

May 18, 2020

The Italian Region of Emilia-Romagna has prioritized asbestos decontamination of schools, having already spent €30 million on remediation work. A new allocation of ~€9m has been made to pay 100% of the costs for the removal and disposal of asbestos from any schools in the region which are still affected. Public bodies owning school buildings which contain asbestos-cement products are asked to apply for funding between May 19 and June 22, 2020 by sending an email to the regional authorities; further information can be obtained from the Emilia-Romagna Region webpage: Asbestos removal and disposal in schools. See also notification: Amianto, la Regione investe altri 9 milioni di euro per mettere in sicurezza le scuole [Asbestos, the Region invests another 9 million euros to secure schools].
 

Toledo’s Asbestos Conundrum

May 18, 2020

A long-standing saga and already confused situation over the asbestos contamination of wasteland in the Spanish city of Toledo remained as muddled as ever following the publication of a report by the Ombudsman. With so many overlapping jurisdictions involved – from local to municipal, regional and national – the decontamination of the land and Ramabujas stream which flows through it in the city’s Polygon neighborhood seems as far away as ever. See: La respuesta de la Junta al Defensor del Pueblo sobre el amianto en Toledo [The Board's response to the Ombudsman on asbestos in Toledo].
 

Another Asbestos Discovery

May 14, 2020

Metro de Madrid – the rapid transit system in the Spanish capital – has announced further findings of asbestos on some of its trains. Pneumatic valve seals in cars of the 2nd and 4th class 5000 train models as well as a valve in the 2000A series cars have been found to contain asbestos. The discoveries were made during work being carried out as part of the company’s asbestos audit program which was designed in consultation with trade unions representing the company’s workforce. Details regarding the location of the banned substance have been relayed to workers and all work on contaminated parts was suspended. See: Metro vuelve a localizar amianto en sus trenes [Metro finds more asbestos on its trains].
 

Asbestos Deliberations in June

May 14, 2020

On May 11, 2020, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced that the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Science Advisory Committee on Chemicals (SACC) will meet from June 8 to 11, 2020 to peer review a draft risk evaluation for asbestos; the deliberations will be virtual, with participation by phone and webcast only. A previously announced virtual meeting for SACC to review the draft asbestos risk evaluation had been postponed by the EPA. Interested parties must submit requests to present evidence and/or monitor the sessions. See: SACC Will Peer Review Draft Risk Evaluation for Asbestos in June.
 

Longer Waits for Asbestos Justice

May 14, 2020

A Scottish campaigner has warned that the coronavirus pandemic has impacted the struggle for justice by those suffering from asbestos-related diseases. While the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service (SCTS) was, Phyllis Craig said, prioritising appeals, family law and commercial cases in the civil courts, delays were being experienced by asbestos claimants, many of whom were suffering from deadly diseases. Craig told journalists that, as a result, victims “may not get justice in their lifetime the way things are with the courts.” She urged the SCTS to rethink its procedures and prioritise “asbestos cases over appeals and commercial actions.” See: Asbestos campaigner fears victims may die before justice.
 

Asbestos Remediation Program

May 14, 2020

Sums of up to €15,000 can be obtained for the removal and disposal of roofing and materials containing asbestos by building owners under a scheme being run by the Italian Municipality of Capri. Applications must be submitted by July 31 and the remediation work carried out by October 31. Only companies registered as specialists on the National Register of Environmental Managers will be approved to undertake the work. Applications for projects close to sensitive sites such as kindergartens, schools, playgrounds, social and welfare reception centers, hospitals and sports facilities will be prioritized. See: Contributi fino a 15mila euro per la rimozione dell’amianto [Contributions of up to 15 thousand euros for the removal of asbestos].
 

Asbestos in Schools

May 14, 2020

The Municipal Council of Cartagena – a port city in southeast Spain – is progressing plans to remediate asbestos in local schools. In July, 2020 work will begin to remove asbestos roofing from the José María Lapuerta public school – a flashpoint in recent years for protests by parents and staff – and four other buildings in Barrio Peral. In total, twelve educational institutions are scheduled for decontamination by 2022. They include schools in the following Cartagena neighborhoods: La Palma, Cartegna, Los Dolores, Barrio de la Concepción, El Algar and Vista Alegre. See: Vía libre a las primeras obras para quitar el amianto en 12 centros escolares de Cartagena hasta 2021 [Program to remove asbestos in 2021 in 12 Cartagena schools].
 

Quebec’s Post-Asbestos Era?

May 11, 2020

A feature-length French language podcast by Emma Jacobs and Lydia Chain explored the background to and issues involved in plans by vested interests to commercially exploit the toxic legacy of asbestos mining in Thetford Mines, Quebec. The huge mountains of waste which loom over the town consist of discarded rock left-over from decades of asbestos mining. Throughout Quebec, there are 800 million tons of this waste. While entrepreneurs hope to extract valuable minerals such as magnesium from this resource, health officials worry about the hazards to workers and local people posed by toxic fibers liberated during processing of the mining residues. See: A Debate on the Dregs of Asbestos Mining.
 

Asbestos Clinic Reopens

May 11, 2020

After weeks of being closed “to protect the area's uniquely vulnerable population (many of whom have asbestos-related respiratory conditions and lung disease),” the Center for Asbestos Related Disease (CARD) in Libby, Montana announced plans to reopen on May 11. All possible healthcare measures will be taken within the clinic to protect staff and patients from exposure to Covid-19. During the closure, CARD staff operated a drive-through Covid-19 testing station in the CARD parking lot, which allowed early identification of disease and provided a mechanism to limit exposure at other health facilities. See: Center for Asbestos Related Disease Set to Reopen on May 11, 2020.
 

Asbestos in French Schools

May 11, 2020

The authorities in Brittany are working to clarify the threat posed by asbestos in schools after an unwelcome discovery was made at one site. Asbestos sampling was done at the following schools on May 7: Berthelot, Grand-Clos, La Ville-Hellio, Yves-Dollo and Jacques-Brel; the results will be announced on May 12. Testing will take place on May 11 at the following schools: Balzac, La Brêche aux Cornes and La Croix-Rouge; the results will be announced on May 14. Depending on the news, the timetable for reopening the schools could be altered to allow decontamination work to take place. See: Saint-Brieuc. Des risques d’exposition à l’amiante dans huit écoles, la reprise incertaine [Saint Brieuc. Risks of asbestos exposure in eight schools, reopening uncertain].
 

Sardinia’s Toxic Asbestos Legacy

May 11, 2020

Members of an association representing asbestos victims in Sardinia have urged regional leaders, politicians and councillors in the Oristano region of Sardinia to use the coronavirus emergency as an “opportunity to plan and urgently implement an extraordinary environmental remediation plan, which includes the remediation of buildings with the presence of asbestos and remediation of illegal landfills located…” to address the toxic legacy which persists in the aftermath of decades of asbestos manufacturing and use on Sardinia. The goal would be to remediate all asbestos on the island by 2030. See: C’è un’altra emergenza, l’amianto: Regione, è ora di farla sparire [There is another emergency, asbestos: Region, it's time to make it disappear].
 

Killer Company & Killer Virus

May 7, 2020

Reacting to adverse business conditions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, building materials manufacturer James Hardie (JH) – formerly Australia’s Asbestos Giant – has announced its intention to scrap dividends, shut down selected operations in the US, Germany, Australia and New Zealand, make hundreds of workers redundant, cut back on capital spending and make its regular payment to the Australian Asbestos Injuries Compensation Fund quarterly instead of annually in July. The company’s disbursement to the Fund is to cover asbestos-related claims made by individuals injured by exposure to JH asbestos-containing products. See: James Hardie scraps dividends amid slump.
 

Fighting for Victims’ Rights in Galicia

May 7, 2020

Measures backed by the Galician Association of Asbestos Victims to improve conditions in the Ferrolan region for the injured were delayed by Covid-19. Representatives of the group, which has 500+ members, continued to provide support by phone and email even though much campaigning had ceased. Although, the Congress of Deputies had given permission to establish an asbestos compensation fund – which is of huge importance to ~8,000 people at high risk of contracting asbestos-related diseases in the region – work on this initiative had stalled, President Xoán Xosé Pita said in a recent interview. See: O fondo de compensación do amianto é fundamental, porque sen el moitas familias quedarían desprotexidas [The asbestos compensation fund is crucial, because without it many families would be unprotected].
 

Asbestos Remediation Program

May 7, 2020

Up to 80% of the asbestos contamination incorporated within the infrastructure on Sicily is located in residential properties. According to preliminary work undertaken by the island’s authorities, 1,500 sites have already been identified including homes, schools and workplaces. The sum of €385 million was allocated in 2016 for a remediation program which would be carried out by 2025; in the first instance, asbestos removal work was undertaken in public buildings, schools and hospitals. All work is strictly supervised and conducted to the highest of standards to protect occupational and public health. See: Amianto, quell’emergenza sanitaria da cui la Sicilia non è mai uscita [Asbestos, Sicily’s ongoing health emergency].
 

Call for Asbestos Ban in China!

May 6, 2020

In a new paper, scientists from medical and health institutions in Beijing and Guangdong, China are recommending that: “Enterprises should be encouraged to use safer substitutes and gradually ban asbestos materials in China” in order to eradicate an epidemic of asbestos-related diseases. As the text was included in the current issue of China CDC Weekly, an online platform for the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention – “a governmental and national-level technical organization” – it is probable that the authors’ findings will have been discussed at the highest levels of government. China is a major producer and consumer of asbestos. See: Distribution of Asbestos Enterprises and Asbestosis Cases — China, 1997-2019.
 

Asbestos Scandal in Marseilles

May 6, 2020

With schools due to reopen in Marseilles on May 11, parents of children at the Félix Pyat school in the 3rd arrondissement of Marseilles are up in arms over demolition work begun in April 2020 which released toxic clouds of dust and fibers throughout the neighborhood. The demolition of nine buildings, due to start in July 2019, began on April 27; the Soleam development company admitted the buildings contained asbestos. The Félix Pyat school is located fifteen meters from the worksite. See: Marseille: présence d'amiante près d'une école, l'autre scandale sanitaire pour les parents d'élèves [Marseilles: presence of asbestos near a school, the other health scandal for parents of students].
 

Remediation of Patras Pipes

May 6, 2020

Pipe renewal work in Patras, the capital city of Western Greece, will remediate asbestos-cement pipes as a matter of public health according to Lambros Dimitrogiannis, the Deputy Regional Minister for Energy and Environment, who has approved a workplan which will be rigorously scrutinized to ensure that vital health and safety procedures are followed in the handling and disposing of three tonnes of aging asbestos-cement water pipes under Souniou Street. This initiative is part of a program to remediate asbestos contamination throughout the region. See: Σχέδιο απομάκρυνσης παλαιού αγωγού ύδρευσης από αμίαντο στην Πάτρα [Plan to remove an old asbestos water pipeline in Patras].
 

Asbestos & Coronavirus Victims

May 6, 2020

On March 27, 2020 a new campaigning group was set up to fight for the rights of coronavirus victims in France; the association is demanding that the government set up a national compensation scheme for the injured based on one established for asbestos victims: the Asbestos Victim Compensation Fund (FIVA). The new body was founded by members of the Jussieu University Anti-Asbestos Committee which had, for decades, been at the forefront of the fight for asbestos justice. See: Coronavirus: une association demande un fonds d'indemnisation sur le modèle de l'amiante [Coronavirus: an association requests a compensation fund based on the asbestos model].
 

Inspiration for Climate Change Activism?

May 6, 2020

A recent blog describes meetings in Casale Monferrato – the town at the epicentre of Italy’s asbestos epidemic – addressing the issue of the global climate emergency. The town has suffered huge loss of life from asbestos cancer, but local people have fought back with great resolution to achieve declared objectives concerning “medical research, remediation and justice.” The resilience shown by these people and their willingness to interact with other groups and institutions to a common end could serve as inspiration for activists confronting the looming global climatic catastrophe. See: Amianto, nell’Aula di Casale Monferrato ci riuniamo per parlare di clima. E coltivare la resilienza che ha battuto Eternit [Asbestos, in a room in Casale Monferrato we meet to talk about the climate. And to cultivate the resilience that beat Eternit].
 

Aerial Mapping of Asbestos Roofing

May 4, 2020

During the first week of May, drone technology was used by the authorities of the Italian city of Cinisello Balsamo, 10 kilometres northeast of Milan city center, to create an aerial map for the monitoring and registration of asbestos cement surfaces. Flying at an altitude of 100 meters, the drone’s operators were able to capitalize on the clear skies resulting from the country’s lockdown to identify buildings most at-risk. According to one of the technicians: “The optical system of the drone, through spectrometric analysis, not only identifies the presence of asbestos-cement roofing, but also the level of degradation, divided into three categories.” See: Drone in volo a scovare l’amianto [Drone in flight to find asbestos].
 

Making the Political Personal

May 4, 2020

An article in The New Review discussed the political context in which the US marked Labor Day, May Day and Workers Memorial Day (IWMD). This year, IWMD had a special significance for the author as her 82-year old grandfather had just died from mesothelioma having been exposed to asbestos working at an iron powder factory. “Industrial workers like him were,” she wrote “four times more likely to contract the disease than members of the general population.” Speculating on whether his employers had known about the asbestos hazard, she wrote: “Yet even now, as the world grapples with an invisible plague, employers seem hell-bent on flouting safety regulations and cutting corners.” See: The Grim New Relevance of Workers Memorial Day.
 

Covid-19 Case Law: Asbestos Precedents?

May 4, 2020

In an interview with a French legal expert, liability for the Government’s failure to act in a timely and appropriate manner to protect citizens from Covid-19 could, it was suggested, be judged by precedents set by asbestos litigation. Legal actions have already been launched to hold the French State to account, naming Prime Minister Edouard Philippe, former Minister of Health Agnes Buzyn, and her successor Olivier Veran. As in asbestos lawsuits, the courts need to decide: was the risk known and serious; was there a way to deal with this risk; did the state fail to adopt preventive measures? The Council of State has set a high priority on the protection of health regardless of costs on multiple occasions. See: Coronavirus: les fautes qui pourraient être reprochées à l'État [Coronavirus: faults that could be blamed on the State].
 

Mesothelioma Survival: City vs Country

May 4, 2020

New research published online by eight Melbourne-based scientists document a variance of survival rates for a variety of cancers between sufferers in the Australian State of Victoria who live in country areas and cities. An analysis of data retrieved on 331,302 patients from Victoria with 30 different types of cancer between 2001 and 2015 found that although survival rates were “generally lower for rural compared with urban residents… findings have been inconsistent… No differences in survival were found for cancers of uterus, small intestine and mesothelioma.” See: Differences in cancer survival by remoteness of residence: an analysis of data from a population-based cancer registry.
 

Invisible Killers: Asbestos and Covid-19

May 4, 2020

A commentary on the concurrence of Spain’s asbestos and coronavirus epidemics references the 2017 mesothelioma death of Jesús Mosterín, a leading Spanish philosopher. The authors speculate that a conspiracy of silence resulted in preventing any mention of asbestos in the notices of Mosterin’s death. Epidemiological evidence suggests there are ~5,000 asbestos deaths in Spain every year. Hundreds of the deaths which will be blamed on Covid-19 will, in fact, be wholly or partially due to underlying asbestos-related conditions. The authors concluded: “Once again they [those killed by asbestos] will be ignored victims.” See: El coronavirus oculta la pandemia secreta del Amianto [Coronavirus conceals secret asbestos pandemic].
 

Asbestos Lobby Misinformation

Apr 30, 2020

A misleading article on a Russian website asserted that a recent ruling by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) concluded that the human health risk posed by exposure to asbestos was “exaggerated” and that “the controlled use of asbestos-containing materials did not pose a threat to the environment.” In fact, the EPA’s Draft Risk Evaluation for Asbestos published in March 2020 found that: “workers, occupational non-users, consumers, and bystanders could be adversely affected by asbestos under certain conditions of use.” See: Риск преувеличен. Агентство в США оценило использование асбеста [The risk is exaggerated. US Agency Appraises Use of Asbestos].
 

Toxic Talc: NJ Update

Apr 30, 2020

A ruling handed down by U.S. District Judge Freda Wolfson on April 27, 2020 gave the green light for thousands of personal injury lawsuits to proceed in New Jersey against the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) company. J&J had tried to bar testimony by plaintiffs’ experts regarding the link between the use of its asbestos-contaminated talcum powder products and the occurrence of ovarian cancer. Wolfson’s decision will allow the introduction of epidemiological and anecdotal evidence as provided by the claimants explaining the link between personal hygiene practices and the occurrence of their cancers. See: U.S. judge rules talc lawsuits against J&J can proceed, testimony limited.
 

Asbestos in Schools

April 30, 2020

Supporters of Portugal’s Schools Without Asbestos Movement and the ZERO Environmental Association are calling on the Ministry of Education to prioritize asbestos remediation even before the Covid crisis is over. In a new article, author Íria Roriz Madeira pointed out: “When the children return to school they will have the same asbestos roofs to receive them and a degradation of materials that has not been suspended, but has worsened.” Pointing out multiple inconsistencies in the asbestos remediation policy and practices of the government, the author pointed out the unique opportunity posed by the lockdown to decontaminate the national infrastructure. See: Amianto em tempo de Covid [Asbestos in the time of Covid].
 

World Asbestos Victims Day

Apr 29, 2020

In Italy, a country where around 6,000 people die every year from asbestos diseases, April 28 is a day of mourning for the asbestos dead, as it is worldwide. In former times, people would gather at events held throughout the country. On April 28, 2020, Roberto Morassut, Undersecretary for the Environment for Rome’s municipal authority, remembered the victims and reviewed progress which had been made in addressing Italy’s asbestos legacy. He admitted that despite all the work that had been done and the money expended there was still an unacceptable 40 million tons of toxic material in Italy. See: 28 aprile, un giorno per ricordare le vittime dell’amianto [April 28, a day to remember asbestos victims].
 

National Asbestos Removal Program

Apr 29, 2020

An article published on April 27, 2020 reviewed progress by the Government of Rwanda under its 20-year program: Vision 2020 to transform Rwanda from an agrarian to a knowledge-based economy. Under the section Government asset management and public building construction, the author reported: “the asbestos removal project has successfully led to the removal and burial of 1,050,933 m2 out of 1,692,089 m2 of asbestos [sheet] materials existing in the country. This is equivalent to 62% (i.e. Asbestos removed from GoR buildings: 57% and Asbestos removed from private buildings: 66%) of the total amount of asbestos countrywide.” See: Taking stock of Rwanda’s 20-year infrastructure development journey.
 

Going Asbestos-Free in Zimbabwe

Apr 29, 2020

In its annual accounts for 2019, Zimbabwe building materials manufacturer Turnall Holdings reported an increase in export turnover. The company confirmed that in 2019 it had expanded production to include asbestos-free materials suitable for export to countries where asbestos had been banned. Citing asbestos industry propaganda about a crusade to “blacklist” asbestos, the company, nevertheless, announced that it had expanded its product range to cater for foreign markets that had transitioned to safer materials “to cushion the company against prevailing foreign currency shortages.” Zimbabwe was, at one time, a large producer of chrysotile asbestos fiber. See: Turnall export turnover increases.
 

EPA Asbestos Remediation in NY

Apr 29, 2020

An alert uploaded on April 21, 2020 announced that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) had demolished an asbestos-contaminated building and removed approximately 200 tons of contaminated debris at an industrial park in the Town of Ulster, Ulster County, New York. This work – which was a collaborative effort between federal, state, and local governments – was undertaken under the auspices of an EPA Superfund program “to address the threat to public health from asbestos at this site and get this property on the path to productive reuse.” See: EPA Advances Superfund Cleanup Work at TechCity in Ulster County, New York.
 

Schirlei Azevedo, R.I.P.

Apr 29, 2020

The death has been announced of Schirlei Azevedo, one of the leaders of the campaign for asbestos justice in Santa Catarina State, Brazil and a strong advocate for a state-wide asbestos ban. Schirlei. who died of cancer on April 24, 2020 in the capital city of Florianópolis, was a long-standing member of the Workers’ Party, a founding member of the Santa Catarina (SC) Movement of Women Urban Workers and the SC representative of the Brazilian Association of the Asbestos-Exposed (ABREA). See: A guerreira e leitora do Viomundo Schirlei Azevedo encantou-se; leia notas dos companheiros do PT e Psol [Viomundo warrior and reader Schirlei Azevedo was special; read remembrances from PT and Psol comrades].
 

COVID-19 and Asbestos-Related Diseases

Apr 27, 2020

A commentary addressing the many questions being asked by UK victims of asbestos-related diseases during the ongoing coronavirus epidemic was uploaded by HASAG Asbestos Disease Support on April 25th. The posting covered key areas of interest, including keeping safe and in good spirits, obtaining food and medical supplies and accessing medical treatment and legal services; the inclusion of contact details for trustworthy associations and sources of information was both relevant and timely as was the assurance that: “Any paused treatment will not be down to hospital capacity issues. It will be based on a risk versus benefit analysis, with a pause in treatment being the best clinical option for you.” See: COVID-19 and Asbestos Related Diseases.
 

New Therapy Protocol for Mesothelioma?

Apr 27, 2020

A paper uploaded on April 20, 2020 by a team of 18 Japanese researchers explored the potential of using a recently developed cancer therapy – Near-Infrared photoimmunotherapy (NIR-PIT) – for the treatment of malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM). The results reported from in-vivo and in-vitro tests suggested that Podoplanin-targeted NIR-PIT could be a promising new treatment for MPM. See: Targeted Phototherapy for Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma: Near-Infrared Photoimmunotherapy Targeting Podoplanin.
 

Asbestos Waste: Crime & Punishment

Apr 27, 2020

As authorities in South Australia progress a criminal case against a demolition company from Port Adelaide for the alleged illegal dumping of asbestos-containing waste in 2017 at two sites in Sedan, ~100 kilometres north-east of Adelaide, work has begun to remove thousands of tonnes of toxic debris. Contractors are in the process of remediating the site; the clean-up operation is expected to take a month with the waste being removed to a licensed depot in the nearby town of Cambrai. The Environment Protection Authority is seeking to recover the costs of the remediation from the polluter. See: Asbestos-tainted waste illegally dumped near South Australian town to be removed.
 

Supreme Court Landmark

Apr 27, 2020

On April 21, 2020, for the first time, France’s Supreme Court (the Court of Cassation) upheld a ruling condemning a public establishment – in this case a hospital in Besançon, a city in eastern France – for exposing employees to asbestos. In the first instance (2016) and on appeal (2018), the hospital was found guilty in a criminal prosecution of “deliberately endangering the lives of others” for failing to prevent asbestos exposures to dozens of workers between 2009 and 2013. See: Amiante au CHRU de Besançon: l'hôpital Jean Minjoz définitivement condamné [Asbestos at the Besançon CHRU: the Jean Minjoz hospital finally condemned].
 

Brazil’s Asbestos War

Apr 22, 2020

An interview with Fernanda Giannasi, a leading figure in Brazil’s fight for asbestos justice, published on April 20, 2020 detailed the retired factory inspectors’s 35-year involvement with a grassroots campaign which revolutionized the national dialogue on asbestos. Despite physical threats, verbal assaults, lawsuits and, in the face of intimidation and clashes with corporate, political and bureaucratic forces, Ms. Giannasi worked with asbestos victims to expose the human cost of the asbestos industry’s profits in Osasco, Rio de Janeiro and throughout the country. See: Fernanda Giannasi: “Não há uso seguro para o amianto” [Fernanda Giannasi: “There is no safe use for asbestos].
 

Regional Asbestos Remediation Subsidies

Apr 22, 2020

The council of the Marche Region of eastern Italy and the President of the Environment Commission Andrea Biancani this week endorsed a law to provide financial support for citizens to remove and dispose of asbestos-containing material from private homes. This measure was, the President noted: “further evidence of the attention that the Region pays to the environment, the countryside and public health issues.” The maximum amount of the grants is €2,000 each; the total allocation made by the region for the 2020 phase of this program is €200,000. See: Biancani: “approvata la legge che favorisce gli interventi di rimozione e smaltimento dell'amianto” [Biancani: “approved the law that favors asbestos removal and disposal”].
 

Covid-19 and Chrysotile Asbestos

Apr 22, 2020

An interesting commentary by Brazilian experts compared the positive action on the Covid-19 pandemic taken by the Governor of Brazil’s asbestos mining state – Ronaldo Ramos Caiado – with his failure to act on the chrysotile asbestos hazard and explored the significance of a Supreme Court ruling which supported the right of States to protect citizens from coronavirus in the face of the President’s continued denial of any serious threat. The co-authors of this text highlighted the Court’s position that, under the constitution the right to life and health are paramount and supersede all commercial and economic arguments. See: Banimento do amianto no Brasil e o enfrentamento à pandemia [Banning asbestos in Brazil and tackling the pandemic].
 

Supreme Court Victim’s Verdict

Apr 16, 2020

On April 15, 2020, the fourth criminal section of Italy’s Supreme Court filed a verdict in case 12151/20; the Court convicted the defendant, a former employer, of manslaughter over occupational asbestos exposure, albeit at “very low doses” which led to the demise from pleural mesothelioma of a worker who had been employed in dismantling railway carriages. The first judgment in this case had been handed down by the Court of Vercelli and was subsequently confirmed by the Turin Court of Appeal. See: Sentenza: l’amianto è cancerogeno anche a dosi minime; condannato datore di lavoro [Judgment: asbestos is carcinogenic even at minimal doses; convicted employer].
 

Dr. Maurice Allouch, RIP

Apr 16, 2020

The death on April 10, 2020 has been reported of retired general practitioner Dr. Maurice Allouch, who had headed an action committee set up to seek justice for those suffering lethal and disabling diseases after exposures to asbestos liberated by the operations of an asbestos-processing factory in Aulnay-sous-Bois, France between 1938 and 1975. As well as hundreds of deaths of former workers, 173 local people died from environmental exposures, including many children who had attended a school next to the factory. See: Aulnay pleure «le docteur Allouch», figure de la lutte contre l’amiante [Aulnay mourns "Doctor Allouch", a leading figure in the fight against asbestos].
 

Progress in Pennsylvania

Apr 16, 2020

Members of the Rockhill Environmental Preservation Alliance welcomed news that Hanson Aggregates Pennsylvania – the owners of Rockhill Quarry in Bucks County’s East Rockhill Township, Pa. – terminated the current lease. The environmental activists had been campaigning about the spread of naturally occurring asbestos which occurred as a result of mining operations at the site. It is not known whether the Rockhill Quarry will be permanently abandoned but local people welcomed the shutdown. State officials discovered asbestos at the quarry in December 2018. See: No mining, for now, at East Rockhill quarry where asbestos naturally occurs.
 

Upholding Oman’s Asbestos Ban

Apr 15, 2020

In a decision issued by Yahya bin Said Al Jabri, Chairman of the Special Economic Zone Authority at Duqm, regarding standards and conditions for the construction of workers' accommodation in the Special Economic Zone at Duqm – a port on the Arabian Sea in central-eastern Oman – the use of asbestos was banned: “The new conditions strictly prohibited the use of asbestos, any other product in which asbestos is used or any other harmful substance [for the construction of workers' accommodation in Oman].” This stipulation is note-worthy as according to records, Oman banned the use of chrysotile asbestos in 2008, having previously banned the use of other types of asbestos. See: Standards for worker’s accommodation set at Duqm SEZ in Oman.
 

Victims’ Verdict in NY Appeal

Apr 15, 2020

On April 9, 2020, for the first time a verdict awarded by a New York jury in a case over toxic exposure to asbestos-contaminated talc was upheld by a panel of the First Department of New York’s Supreme Court, Appellate Division in a case brought on behalf of mesothelioma victim Florence Nemeth and her husband. Between 1960 and 1971, Mrs. Nemeth had been “exposed to billions or trillions of asbestos fibers” contained in Desert Flower Dusting Powder on a daily basis. She was diagnosed with peritoneal mesothelioma in November, 2012 and died in March, 2016. On August 22, 2017, the jury had awarded the Nemeths a total of $16.5 million, of which the defendant in that case was ordered to pay ~$3m; the panel increased this amount to $3.3m. See: Nemeth v Brenntag North America et al.
 

Sibaté’s Asbestos Legacy

Apr 15, 2020

A newly published paper details a study conducted in the Colombian town of Sibaté; the Colombian and Italian authors of this text identified a cluster of mesothelioma cases in Sibaté, the location of an asbestos-cement factory which had been operational since 1942. This study was, said the authors, the first to analyse the potential impact of asbestos at the population level and could inform discussions about the hazard posed by asbestos to other Colombian communities where asbestos plants had been sited. The dangerous use of industrial asbestos cement waste within urban areas was discussed. See: Commentary Epidemiological research as a driver of prevention: the Sibaté study.
 

Addressing the Asbestos Challenge

Apr 10, 2020

On April 7, 2020, the government of the Spanish island of Mallorca, the largest of the Balearic Islands, approved an initiative – a Hazardous Waste Sector Plan – to remediate asbestos contained throughout the island’s infrastructure by 2025. Work will begin on public buildings; simultaneously, asbestos audits will be carried out to quantify the problem posed by the contamination of private properties, in particular, the presence in these structures of asbestos-cement roofs – widely used in Mallorca. See: El Plan de Residuos del Govern quiere eliminar el amianto en edificios en 2025 [The Government's Waste Plan wants to eliminate asbestos in buildings by 2025].
 

New Asbestos Litigation

Apr 10, 2020

This commentary by Kris Maher on an article published on March 17, 2020 entitled Asbestos Warnings Grow With Penn State Lawsuit, National Push, analyzed the fall-out for defendants from a lawsuit brought against Penn State University. The case was important for two reasons: it was the first filed against a university on behalf of a former employee and it was made possible due to a Pennsylvania court verdict in 2013 allowing employees to sue employers for negligence. Professor Peter Labosky Jr. died from mesothelioma in August, 2014, five months after diagnosis; his family alleged that his death had resulted from occupational exposure to asbestos. See: A Never Ending Story: Asbestos Exposure and Mesothelioma.
 

Guernsey Mesothelioma Scheme

Apr 9, 2020

From January 1, 2021 a statutory scheme – modelled on one adopted in Jersey – will be operational on the island of Guernsey to pay compensation to sufferers of the asbestos cancer, mesothelioma. Legislation to implement this scheme was approved by Guernsey deputies in 2019. According to a spokesman for the island’s Employment & Social Services, the annual cost of the lump sum compensation payments, which could be awarded to patients or surviving family members, is expected to be around £100,000. Asbestos exposures resulted in the deaths of 19 people and contributed to the deaths of four others on Guernsey between 2005 and 2015. See: Mesothelioma compensation could cost £100,000 a year, says ESS.
 

Victim’s Verdict in Naples

Apr 9, 2020

The Labor Court of Naples awarded the family of a deceased worker from Fincantieri S.p.A. – an Italian shipbuilding company based in Trieste, Italy – the sum of €1.5m after a 2½ year investigation found that Lorenzo Irace had died as a result of occupational exposure to asbestos. The former electrician had worked in ships’ engine rooms and, due to the company’s negligence, had been exposed to asbestos, which led to his contracting the asbestos cancer, mesothelioma. It is not yet known whether Fincantieri will appeal the judgment. See: Fincantieri, risarcimento milionario agli eredi del dipendente morto: «Ucciso dall'amianto» [Fincantieri, over a million in compensation to the heirs of dead employee: “Killed by asbestos”].
 

Progress in Pennsylvania

Apr 9, 2020

On February 19, 2020, by a vote of 6-1, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court issued a verdict in the case of Roverano v John Crane, Inc. which found that manufacturers and suppliers of asbestos-containing products must share liability equally (rather than allowing juries to allocate percentage of fault to each defendant as some courts had done). The plaintiff had contracted lung cancer as a result of exposure to asbestos material whilst employed as a carpenter by the PECO Energy Company; damages of $6.4 million were awarded by the jury to the plaintiff and his wife. See: The Roverano Effect: Pennsylvania Supreme Court clarifies apportionment of damages in multi-defendant asbestos cases.
 

Asbestos Trade Deal?

Apr 6, 2020

Last week, the Member of Parliament for Wirral West and the Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Labor’s Margaret Green called on the government to reaffirm the UK ban on asbestos after the Brexit transition period ended on December 31, 2020. She expressed concerns over the possibility of lowered standards which might allow under a trade deal with the US – a country with no ban on asbestos – the import of products containing asbestos including clutches, brakes, building materials, heat-resistant fabrics, packaging, gaskets and coatings. See: Margaret Green fears return of asbestos in US Trade deal.
 

COVID-19 Threat to At-Risk Patients

Apr 6, 2020

A non-governmental organization in Portugal issued an alert over the elevated risk of coronavirus to patients with asbestos-related diseases. In a statement by the Group SOS Amianto [Asbestos], they said: “Patients with diseases caused by asbestos, whether neoplasms or chronic respiratory insufficiency, have an increased vulnerability to infection by the new coronavirus, so it is necessary to reinforce their protection.” The Group advised that should asbestos patients experience fever, a cough or shortness of breath, they should immediately contact the SNS Line 24 to 808 24 24 24. See: Covid-19: Quercus warns that asbestos victims are at risk.
 

Urgent Call to Ban Asbestos

Apr 6, 2020

Having reviewed multiple factors in the global asbestos panorama of 2019, the co-authors of a new paper concluded that “a world-wide asbestos ban is more urgent than ever.” Citing the under-reporting of cases of asbestos cancer and the ubiquity of asbestos industry propaganda, the co-authors highlighted the importance, especially in nations where asbestos use was continuing, of addressing the occupational, public and environmental hazards posed by the use of a known-carcinogen as a matter of utmost priority. See: Asbestos-related cancers: the ‘Hidden Killer’ remains a global threat.
 

EU Maritime Regs: Asbestos Audits

April 6, 2020

Under EU Ship Recycling Regulations, by December 31, 2020 the owners of ships over a certain size which call at any EU port must have compiled an Inventory of Hazardous Materials (IHM); non-EU flagged ships calling at EU ports must compile a “statement of compliance.” The surveys required to produce these documents could reveal, says one expert, the presence of asbestos-containing material onboard the ships even though shipbuilders had been under order since January 2011 to refrain from the use of asbestos on new builds. See: Law firm warns shipowners of unforeseen problems in IHM surveys.
 

Funding for Asbestos Healthcare

Apr 2, 2020

On March 30, 2020, news was received of a long-awaited judicial verdict which confirmed that money the Public Ministry had earmarked for the treatment of asbestos victims would be donated, as intended, to FIOCRUZ (Fundação/Foundation Oswaldo Cruz) – the most prominent institution of science and technology in health in Latin America – in Rio de Janeiro. The R$5million (~US$1m) came from a fine levied by the Public Ministry on the Brazilian Petroleum company Petrobas which had caused an environmental disaster via a massive leak of oil from one of its offshore platforms. The money had been blocked for over two years and was finally released as a result of protests by Labor Prosecutors and the Association of the Asbestos-Exposed.
 

Asbestos Alert!

Apr 2, 2020

On March 30, 2020, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published a draft risk evaluation that found that: “workers, occupational non-users, consumers, and bystanders could be adversely affected by asbestos under certain conditions of use.” The EPA identified unreasonable risks to those: working in the chlor-alkali industry, processing asbestos-containing gaskets in chemical production and handling and/or disposing of asbestos-containing brakes, friction material and automotive linings. The findings will be peer reviewed by independent scientific experts before action is taken to address these hazards. See: Draft Risk Evaluation for Asbestos.
 

Asbestos-Cement Pipes

Apr 2, 2020

There are 5,122 kilometres of asbestos-cement water mains throughout Ireland according to details released under the Freedom of Information Act. Twenty-two percent of the asbestos pipes are in Cork, ~10% in Dublin with the rest in Donegal, Tipperary and Kerry. Irish Water, the utility company that owns the water delivery system, was unable to provide data on the number of pipe bursts in recent years. The company is being urged to carry out a risk assessment of the structural integrity of the pipes, most of which are between 50 to 70 years old. Irish Water denies asbestos water mains are harmful to people’s health. See: Revealed: Over 5100 kilometres of asbestos water pipes in Ireland.
 

Renewal of Asbestos Mines?

Apr 2, 2020

A spokesperson for the Shabanie-Mashaba Mines company – which owns two currently nonoperational chrysotile (white) asbestos mines in Zimbabwe – has said that one of its mines, the King Mine in Mashava (formerly Mashaba), has now been dewatered. As a result of the successful completion of this work, mining at the site will begin by the end of 2020. In light of that, potential customers are being contacted in Belarus, India, China and throughout South East Asia and viable marketing strategies are under consideration. The rehabilitation of the company’s other mine – the Shabanie mine in Zvishavane – was proceeding. See: Shabanie Mashaba Mines to resume operations?
 

Healthy Company, Dying Workers

Mar 31, 2020

As payments to Brazilian asbestos victims remained frozen due to financial machinations by Eternit, S.A. – formerly the country’s biggest asbestos conglomerate – the group reported good results for 2019 due to its embrace of asbestos-free technology. During the year, sales of asbestos-free fiber cement tiles grew by 18% a quarter and 24% for the year. A statement released by the company said: “Eternit keeps its focus on optimizing its fiber cement roofing manufacturing process, maintaining margins that ensure the sustainability of the business.” See: Eternit lucra R$ 6,7 milhões no final de 2019 e avança em reviravolta sem Amianto [Eternit profits R$6.7 million at the end of 2019 and advances in an asbestos-free turnaround].
 

Asbestos Victims at High Risk

Mar 31, 2020

CONTRAMIANTO, an Italian association representing asbestos victims in the southern Italian town of Taranto, has issued an alert about the high level of risk posed by the Coronavirus to those suffering from asbestos-related cancers and diseases. In their press release, the association explained that the majority of the injured have respiratory problems or immune deficiencies which compromised their ability to fight the virus: “We believe it is essential that specific health recommendations are issued for the ex-asbestos-exposed patients who are certainly fragile and therefore more attackable by the Coronavirus…” See: Covid-19, malati ex esposti amianto più a rischio [Covid-19, asbestos patients at high risk].
 

Plaintiff’s Verdict in Montana

Mar 31, 2020

On March 25, the Montana Supreme Court held that a workers compensation insurer was liable for claims from people who had worked at the Grace vermiculite plant in Libby, Montana. The factory was at the center of an epidemic of asbestos-related disease and death caused by the presence of asbestos fiber in the vermiculite ore. In 2017, a Montana Asbestos Claims Court ruled that Maryland Casualty – which had provided Grace with workers compensation insurance from 1963 to 1973 – was liable for damages for workplace-related asbestos injury to Grace workers. The insurer appealed, and the Montana Supreme Court unanimously upheld that ruling. See: Mine Workers’ Asbestos Suit Against Insurer Advanced by Montana High Court.
 

Post- Brexit Asbestos Concerns

Mar 26,2020

On March 24, 2020 – the day before Parliament adjourned – a written answer to a question (HL2312) submitted on March 9, by Lord Alton of Liverpool regarding the UK prohibitions on the use, sale and imports of asbestos and asbestos-containing products was provided by Lord Goldsmith, Minister of State for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. In his response (HL2312), Goldsmith wrote: “The Government has no plans to revise these restrictions [as per the EU’s Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation & Restriction of Chemicals Regulation] or alter the way asbestos is regulated in the UK.” See: Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered on 24th March 2020.
 

Mesothelioma: Updated Information

Mar 26, 2020

A paper published in Journal of Translational Lung Cancer Research, Vol 9, Supplement 1 (February 2020) calling for national asbestos bans was one of 11 submissions in this special issue dedicated to the subject of mesothelioma. Other papers in the supplement covered topics such as disease causation, chemotherapy innovations, immunotherapy developments, surgical interventions, peritoneal mesothelioma and the implications of chromosomal rearrangements in the development of new treatment protocols. See: Epidemiology of mesothelioma in the 21st century in Europe and the United States, 40 years after restricted/banned asbestos use.
 

Quebec’s Asbestos Rebrand

Mar 26, 2020

In a somewhat whimsical article, and mindful of the impact of the deadly global pandemic, Greenpeace Canada discussed several suggestions for a new name for the toxic Quebec town where mining and milling operations had exposed generations of workers and residents to the asbestos hazard. The name search led by the Mayor of Asbestos is ongoing with the deadline for submissions March 20, after which a shortlist would be compiled. The suggestions made by Greenpeace were endangered species of the Eastern Townships region including: Bicknell, Lamproie, Listère, Blongios, Chevalier and Apalone. See: Greenpeace Wants to Help the City of Asbestos Change its Toxic Name.
 

Call for Urgent Action

Mar 26, 2020

In mid-March, several US environmental organizations launched a lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for its alleged violation of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). The litigants asserted that instead of using changes made in 2016 to TSCA to protect the public, the EPA was using them to streamline approval for the new use of potentially dangerous chemicals. It had been hoped that the changes to TSCA would have seen the EPA finally ban the use of asbestos and asbestos-containing products to protect Americans from hazardous exposures which could cause deadly cancers and respiratory diseases. This did not happen. See: Trump’s EPA is being sued for hiding information about new chemicals.
 

Asbestos Concerns over Trade Deal

Mar 23, 3030

Global Justice Now, a UK NGO, has raised concerns about the potential health hazards posed by a UK–US trade deal highlighting the lower safety standards for cosmetic products in the US. Tests by the US Food and Drug (FDA) Administration in 2019 and 2020 revealed asbestos contamination of several cosmetic products, including makeup targeted at children. Most recently, on March 9, 2020, the FDA revealed findings of the presence of asbestos fibers in cosmetics (see FDA report on cosmetics tested for asbestos).
See: US trade deal ‘could flood Britain with toxic cosmetics.
 

Russia’s Future Asbestos-Free?

Mar 23, 2020

A Russian language article about modern architecture, green construction and ecological solutions to construction challenges stated that: “The concept of ‘green’ is not limited to a certain landscaping of local territories and building facades. It is also about quality and compliance with environmentally friendly building materials. A striking example is asbestos, which was used in mass construction, and is now completely banned in the construction of buildings.” See: Мегаполисам прописали сертификацию. Города скоро будут генерировать половину выбросов парниковых газов [Prescribed certification for megacities. Cities will soon generate half greenhouse gas emissions].
 

Causation of Lung Cancer

Mar 23, 2020

Up to 15% of all the cases of lung cancer in Spain are caused by exposure to asbestos contained in products incorporated within the country’s infrastructure, according to a recently issued report by the College of Surveyors, Technical Architects and Building Engineers of Barcelona (Collegi d'Aparelladors, Arquitectes Tècnics i Enginyers d'Edificació de Barcelona). During the 20th century, consumption of asbestos in Spain totalled 2.6 million tonnes. See: El amianto presente en materiales como el fibrocemento causa entre un 10 y un 15% de los cánceres de pulmón [Asbestos present in materials such as fiber cement causes between 10 and 15% of lung cancers].
 

Russian Attack on Biden Campaign

Mar 23, 2020

A scurrilous article on a Russian website attacked the presidential campaign of Joe Biden claiming his supporters included firms that made billions from lawsuits against defendants including Johnson & Johnson, the administration of New York City and others. The article, which named the firm of Weitz & Luxenberg that “boasts on its website that its lawyers have won about $8.5 billion in asbestos cases,” concluded that: “Biden is supported by people with a very dubious reputation… the Democrats always had connections with the anti-asbestos lobby in the United States, but now the evidence has surfaced ...” See: Джо Байдена в президентской гонке спонсируют юристы, связанные с антиасбестовой кампанией [Joe Biden sponsored by anti-asbestos campaign lawyers in presidential race].
 

Asbestos Exposé

Mar 20, 2020

In the 3rd episode of a BBC series entitled: Beauty Laid Bare, the harmful ingredients found in everyday items used by teenagers taking part in the program were revealed; the presence of asbestos fibers in goods sold by mainstream manufacturers such as Johnson & Johnson, Claire’s Accessories and MUA came as a shock to the youngsters. US scientist and whistle blower Sean Fitzgerald explained the test results of products used by the teenagers, who were baffled about the failure of oversight by U.S. government agencies to prevent the marketing and sale of contaminated goods to members of the public. See: Beauty Laid Bare, Series 1: 3: The Ingredients.
 

Asbestos Conundrum from Malaysia

Mar 20, 2020

An article by Assoc. Prof. Dr Warren Thomas – who cites his membership of Ireland’s Royal College of Surgeons and is currently working at Malaysia’s Perdana University (see: Professor Warren Thomas’ profile) – downplays the health hazard posed by human exposures to chrysotile (white) asbestos stating: “there remains some uncertainty over the health risks associated with white (chrysotile) asbestos.” As the subjects taught by Thomas are: Cardiovascular Physiology, Endocrinology, Renal Physiology and Neurophysiology, one wonders what motivated him to offer himself as an expert on this subject? See: Asbestos exposure can cause lung cancer years later.
 

Victim’s Verdict in Spain

Mar 20, 2020

On March 17, Social Court 1 of Cáceres, in western central Spain ruled that long-term asbestos exposure had caused the pulmonary fibrosis of a retired worker. From 1969 until 1982, he had been employed in a factory owned by Productos Aislantes SA which manufactured bakelite products containing between 7 and 16% asbestos; as a result of workplace exposures, the claimant had contracted pulmonary interstitial fibrosis with fibrosing lung lesions that resulted in alterations in pulmonary diffusion and required portable oxygen therapy. See: Un juzgado falla que la exposición al amianto es la causa de la fibrosis pulmonar de una trabajadora [Court finds that exposure to asbestos is the cause of worker's pulmonary fibrosis].
 

Toxic Talc

Mar 18, 2020

A paper uploaded by the American Journal of Industrial Medicine on March 16, 2020 reviewed the cases of 75 people with mesothelioma whose only asbestos exposures were repeated exposures to cosmetic talcum powder. After extensive questioning, pathological testing, medical examinations and other procedures, the authors concluded that: “Mesotheliomas can develop following exposures to cosmetic talcum powders. These appear to be attributable to the presence of anthophyllite and tremolite contaminants in cosmetic talcum powder.” Due to the deadly nature of mesothelioma, it was suggested that: cosmetic talcs be withdrawn from the market as nontoxic alternatives are available. See: Malignant mesothelioma following repeated exposures to cosmetic talc: A case series of 75 patients.
 

Asbestos Industry Infomercial

Mar 18, 2020

A pro-asbestos Russian diatribe masquerading as a light-hearted romp through the history of chrysotile (white) asbestos cited uses of the substance in devices for tanks and machine guns, covers for books by Ray Bradbury and Stephen King, protective clothing for firefighters and building material. It refuted anti-asbestos rhetoric as unfounded and unscientific, asserting that: “The most enduring and widespread myth of asbestos is its harm to human health… [and that] chrysotile asbestos mined in Russia is a safe material when used under controlled conditions.” See: Легендарный асбест: мифы, курьезы и правда о «горном льне» [Legendary asbestos: myths, funny things and the truth about “mountain flax”].
 

Asbestos in Schools

Mar 18, 2020

The authorities in Vila Franca de Xira, a district in Portugal’s capital city, have submitted evidence regarding the asbestos contamination of secondary schools to the Ministry of Education, according to Mayor Alberto Mesquita in conversation with local councillors. The work required to remediate the educational infrastructure has been costed at ~€27m. The removal of asbestos-containing roofs has been a priority for Mesquita’s administration; over the last two years, asbestos-containing material was removed from primary schools and kindergartens. See: Já há estudo sobre amianto nas escolas de VFX mas as obras continuam por fazer [There is already a study on asbestos in VFX schools, but the work remains to be done].
 

Revising the EU’s Asbestos OEL

Mar 18, 2020

On March 2, 2020 a call was made by the European Chemicals Agency, at the behest of the European Commission, for the submission of recommendations to its ongoing review of the current occupational exposure limit (OEL), which obliges employers to ensure that workers are not exposed to airborne concentrations of asbestos in excess of 0.1 fibres per cm3 as an 8-hour time-weighted average as per stipulations of Article 8 Directive 2009/148/EC on the protection of workers from the risks related to exposure to asbestos at work. All submissions must be received by June 2, 2020. See: Occupational exposure limits – Call for comments and evidence.
 

Quebec Rejects “Asbestos”

Mar 16, 2020

As work progresses to distance the Quebec town of Asbestos from its deadly legacy, leading figures admit they are tired of the negative attention that the name of their town had attracted. According to Mayor Hugues Grimard, the town is in a “post-asbestos era,” and is eager to “break away from the asbestos era.” According to Grimard, hundreds of responses had been received for a new name for the town. The submissions are being reviewed by the council and up to five will be put forward for the electorate to choose from with voters as young as 14 being able to participate. See: Asbestos s’apprête à changer de nom [Asbestos to change name].
 

Asbestos Carrot & Stick

Mar 16, 2020

Russian asbestos stakeholders have embarked on a marketing offensive informing construction company officials and professionals about the advantages of using chrysotile asbestos building products in a desperate attempt to counter the increasing popularity of asbestos-free material. Industry lobbyists are reminding potential customers that as of July 19, 2019 contract tenders are no longer allowed to stipulate the exclusion of asbestos products from building projects in Russia. See: Хризотиловая продукция повышает качество и уменьшает стоимость проведения капремонта [Chrysotile products improve quality and reduce the cost of overhaul].
 

Eternit Defies Supreme Court

Mar 16, 2020

A fortnight ago, the Eternit company announced the resumption of chrysotile asbestos production at its mine in Minaçu, Goiás State in direct contravention of a 2017 ruling by the Brazilian Supreme Court. The company said that the activity was legal under Goiás State Law 20,514, passed on July 17, 2019, which permitted the extraction and processing of chrysotile asbestos exclusively for export purposes. Critics said this action was unconstitutional as the Supreme Court ruling applied throughout the country and that the transport of the toxic cargo was banned throughout Brazil. See: Eternit retoma produção de amianto em Goiás [Eternit resumes asbestos production in Goiás].
 

Supreme Court Victims’ Verdict

Mar 16, 2020

On March 12, 2020, the Montana Supreme Court handed down a judgment upholding a 2019 court decision which found that the BNSF Railway Company was not immune to lawsuits brought by hundreds of plaintiffs injured by exposure to asbestos as a result of the company’s negligence. Lawyers for the claimants described the hazards posed by BNSF’s operations including the transport of asbestos-containing vermiculite, spillage of asbestos material along railway tracks and in the BNSF railyard and continued disturbance of the built-up spilled asbestos by the company’s trains and workers. See: Montana Supreme Court: BNSF Not Shielded from Liability in Libby Asbestos Cases.
 

Meeting the Asbestos Challenge

Mar 13, 2020

The New Zealand and Australian authors of a paper uploaded on March 5, 2020 to the website of the Journal of Public Health Policy, having reviewed the current global asbestos panorama, called for global action to outlaw future asbestos use and research funding for innovative solutions for the destruction and disposal of asbestos-containing waste. The authors concluded that: "Comprehensive [asbestos] bans are needed in all countries. Priority attention for implementation should focus on those properties where people live, work, and go to school." See: Call for a global ban policy on and scientific management of asbestos to eliminate asbestos-related diseases.
 

More Russian Asbestos Propaganda

Mar 13, 2020

An article on a Russian website exploited the lack of asbestos awareness in Quebec to promote sales of chrysotile asbestos, quoting the results of a survey which reported that 93% of those questioned were unconcerned about the hazard posed by contamination of the former asbestos mining region. The author repeated contentious asbestos propaganda which asserted that once inhaled, fibers were rapidly dissolved and therefore posed no risk to human health. “There are,” the author said “no epidemics of diseases in the Russian monotowns Yasnoy and Asbest, where chrysotile is still mined to this day.” See: Хризотил безопасен: результаты опроса в канадском Асбесте [Chrysotile safe: Canadian Asbestos survey results].
 

Closure of Mining Town: Update

Mar 13, 2020

The legislation to take ownership of the few properties in the former asbestos mining town of Wittenoom, Western Australia (WA) remaining in private hands passed the Lower House – the Legislative Assembly – of the WA Parliament and is due to be debated again in the Upper House soon. Once the State acquires ownership of these titles, the Department of Planning Lands and Heritage will demolish all remaining infrastructure and cut off roads. Essential services were discontinued years ago but the few remaining residents have generators. See: Wittenoom Closure Bill 2019.
 

Asbestos Removal Regs Updated

Mar 12, 2020

The Workers’ Compensation Board (WCB) on Prince Edwards’ Island has updated the rules for asbestos removal contractors working on renovations or demolition projects. The changes made were intended to raise levels of occupational protection from the asbestos hazard and included new: definitions of asbestos-containing materials, requirements for ventilation, measures for medical surveillance of high-risk workers. According to the WCB, the changes would not significantly affect costs of asbestos removal work. See: Rules around removal of deadly asbestos tightened on P.E.I.
 

Asbestos on the Railways

Mar 12, 2020

Off-loading asbestos-containing rolling stock could prove problematic for Belgium’s national railway company, the SNCB, which has 1,000+ contaminated wagons, locomotives and motor vehicles it revealed on March 10, 2020. The intention was to dispose of these items by 2023. The affected goods, most of which were built in the 1980s, were itemized in a document for prospective buyers as follows: 720 wagons, 193 locomotives and 239 motor vehicles. See: De l'amiante “en grande quantité” dans des wagons, locomotives et autre matériel roulant de la SNCB [Asbestos “in large quantities” in SNCB wagons, locomotives and other rolling stock].
 

Free Asbestos Removal

Mar 12, 2020

Residents of Fairfield City, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia had until March 13 to apply to the council to arrange free collection by licensed contractors of up to 10-square metres of loose bonded asbestos material. The collections, which were scheduled to take place before the end of March, were part of the municipal Household Asbestos Removal Program. Asbestos-cement building products were widely used throughout Australia after the second World War and continue to pose a health hazard to homeowners and residents throughout the country. See: Asbestos needs to be disposed of safely.
 

Stricter Asbestos Disposal Regime

Mar 12, 2020

Responding to WorkSafe BC requirements meant to protect Canadian workers and the public from the risk of asbestos exposure at landfills and waste transfer sites, new construction waste disposal rules have been brought into effect in the Thompson-Nicola Regional District and the City of Kamloops in British Colombia. Adopting the precautionary principle, building waste from any pre-1990 building will now be assumed to contain asbestos if it has not been tested; the stricter protocols that will be applied are designed to minimize hazardous occupational exposures. See: New disposal rules for materials that might contain asbestos.
 

Global Asbestos Trade Data

Mar 11, 2020

New data from the United States Geological Survey is now available online which show a continued decrease in the global production of asbestos in recent years: 2016 (1,280,000 tonnes/t), 2017 (1,170,000t), 2018 (1,150,000t) and 2019 (1,100,000t). The only countries still mining asbestos in 2020 are: Russia, China and Kazakhstan. Considering that global output in 2000 and 2010 was 2,035,150t and 2,005,400t respectively, the figure for 2019 is an indication of a dramatic collapse in worldwide demand for a substance widely acknowledged to cause a variety of cancers and respiratory diseases. See: Asbestos Statistics and Information.
 

Catalonia’s Asbestos Legacy

Mar 11, 2020

On March 9, 2020, representatives of the Association of Builders, Technical Architects and Building Engineers of Barcelona issued a warning about the public health risk posed by asbestos contamination of the Spanish infrastructure and urged official to implement a comprehensive remediation program. The alert was raised during a debate which considered measures to eradicate the asbestos hazard; steps to raise public awareness of the nature and extent of the problem were discussed by medical and technical experts. See: CATALUNYA - Expertos alertan del riesgo de salud pública del amianto e instan a su retirada [Catalonia - Experts warn of the public health risk of asbestos and urge its removal].
 

UK Asbestos Ban: Status

Mar 11, 2020

On March 9, 2020 a series of Parliamentary questions was submitted by Lord Alton of Liverpool one of which asked the Department for Work and Pensions (HL 2312): “To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they intend to (1) maintain the total prohibition on the use of asbestos, and (2) rule out any instance of permitting products containing up to one per cent of asbestos as per regulations in the United States, after December 2020.” See: Hansards. Written Questions and Answers, March 9, 2020 by Lord Alton of Liverpool.
 

Asbestos in Cosmetics

Mar 11, 2020

On March 9, 2020, the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) announced results from a year-long sampling exercise of cosmetics containing talc undertaken by AMA Analytical Services, Inc. under commission from the FDA which revealed that while 43 samples were negative, nine contained asbestos. Throughout 2020, the FDA will continue its program for blind testing and will announce any positive results. Commenting on the FDA’s plans, a spokesperson said: “Our work in this area is ongoing and we’ll continue to communicate with the public as we have updates to share.” See: FDA Releases Final Report on Cosmetics Tested for Asbestos.
 

Asbestos in Healthcare

Mar 10, 2020

In response to a Parliamentary question posed by MSP Monica Lennon [see: Question S5W-27540 on 20/02/2020), the Scottish Health Secretary Jeane Freeman admitted that the Government had no data about the asbestos contamination of the NHS estate in Scotland. In view of the lack of data, Health Facilities Scotland had been instructed to undertake a survey and report back by the end of April. Freeman admitted that: “The Scottish Government recognise the hazard of asbestos and the risks to health that it poses.” See: Health Secretary has no idea how many Scottish hospitals are riddled with asbestos.
 

Asbestos Propaganda

Mar 10, 2020

A recent online article discusses Russian legislation – implemented on July 1, 2019 – disallowing property owners and building professionals from specifying the use of asbestos-free products in contracts and tenders related to renovation and construction projects. However, the substance of the piece is little more than a rehash of asbestos industry propaganda extolling the virtues of home-grown chrysotile (white) asbestos: Russia is the world’s biggest supplier of chrysotile asbestos, a substance banned in dozens of countries. See: Капремонт в России: подводные камни обновления жилья [Overhaul in Russia: pitfalls of housing renovation].
 

Asbestos in Cosmetics

Mar 10, 2020

Last week, a petition organized by campaigning civil society groups in the US and supported by almost 25,000 people was submitted to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA); the signatories urged the FDA to mandate more sensitive methods for identifying asbestos fibers present in talc. As of now, it is not mandatory for cosmetic companies to test for asbestos. Recent discoveries of asbestos contamination of popular cosmetic products – including items marketed for children – have raised the level of public concern over this issue. See: Consumers Demand Mandatory Testing of Cosmetics for Asbestos.
 

Asbestos Protest

Mar 10, 2020

On March 10, the Association of Asbestos Victims of Euskadi will hold a protest in Gasteiz, the capital city of the Basque Country in Northern Spain. The demonstration will highlight the failures of the National Institute of Social Security and multiple employers to address the problems experienced by people with asbestos-related injuries including three women who became ill after domestic exposure to their husbands’ contaminated work clothes. The men had worked for CAF Beasain, a Spanish manufacturer of railway vehicles and buses. See: El comité de CAF Beasain pide que se reconozca a víctimas indirectas del amianto [The CAF Beasain committee asks that indirect asbestos victims be recognized].
 

Asbestos in Schools

Mar 9, 2020

A Portuguese campaigning group – the Bloco de Esquerda (the Bloc) – is taking action to assess the extent of asbestos contamination of the country’s schools in light of the failure of the national government to take action. As a result of the Ministry of Education’s failure to respond to enquiries made on this subject in November, 2019, the Bloc is sending questionnaires to the country’s 800+ schools in order to compile an accurate record of the extent and nature of the problem. See: Governo não respondeu sobre amianto nas escolas, Bloco questiona todas as escolas do país [Government did not respond about asbestos in schools, Bloco questions all schools in the country].
 

Basque Legal Victory

Mar 9, 2020

The first court verdict in the Basque country to award compensation for the death of a person exposed to asbestos via the washing of contaminated clothing was handed down by a court in Tolosa, a town in northern Spain. The CAF company was found negligent for failing to protect the wife of a former employee and was ordered to pay her widower the sum of ~€176,000. The claimant’s wife died in March 2017 from pleural mesothelioma. According to legal experts, this ruling sets a precedent which could benefit future claimants. See: Dictan la primera sentencia favorable a una víctima del amianto por haber lavado ropa (First favorable verdict for an asbestos victim where washing [contaminated] clothes had been the cause [of disease]).
 

Italian Police Raid

Mar 9, 2020

On March 4, 2020, members of a police task force raided a landfill and quarry operated by Bianchi Srl, a company specializing in excavation, earthmoving, recycling of special waste and remediation of contaminated sites in Trentino, northern Italy. Large quantities of asbestos-contaminated waste, which had been intended for resale as raw material for various construction purposes such as roadworks and landfill, were recovered. See: Rifiuti contaminati da amianto miscelati e rivenduti per fare fondi stradali e opere edilizie: maxi sequestro alla Bianchi di Isera [Asbestos contaminated waste mixed and resold for road surfaces and building work: large seizure at Bianchi di Isera].
 

Asbestos Prosecution

Mar 9, 2020

A complaint by the Swiss trade union Unia has resulted in a criminal case being brought by the Public Prosecutor against several defendants over unsafe and illegal asbestos removal work undertaken at a school in Geneva, Switzerland at various intervals between 2017 and 2020. Almost all the air samples taken by the authorities were found to contain asbestos fibers. It is believed that more than 100 workers from 17 companies could have experienced hazardous exposures at this worksite. A new asbestos removal protocol has been implemented so that remediation work at the school can be progressed. See: Amiante: «Jamais eu de cas aussi grave à Genève» [Asbestos: “Never had such a serious case in Geneva”].
 

Recommended: Asbestos Textiles

Mar 4, 2020

An article on a Russian regional news agency website urged citizens to prepare emergency kits to combat domestic fires; an essential component of this kit was an “asbestos cloth” for extinguishing fires or protecting people from flames. The article claimed the fabric was made of a substance which “does not burn, does not melt, and does not emit harmful fumes when heated.” What the author omitted to say was that the textile contained up to 100% asbestos fiber and was amongst the most highly friable of all asbestos products. This friability makes the liberation of respirable asbestos fibers highly likely. See: Полотно из асбеста – эффективный инструмент для тушения пожара [Asbestos cloth – an effective fire extinguishing tool].
 

Mesothelioma Debate

Mar 4, 2020

A debate in the House of Lords on March 3, 2020 examined the ongoing epidemic of asbestos cancer in the UK and delineated measures which had improved the situation for mesothelioma victims including an increase in research funding from public and private sources. Praising the work of the Asbestos Victims Support Groups Forum UK and the Merseyside Asbestos Victims Support Group, Lord Alton highlighted the injustice of the situation whereby mesothelioma claimants receive more from a government scheme then do bereaved relatives: a victim aged 77 making a claim based on a 100% IIDB award receives £14,334 whereas a surviving partner receives £7,949. See: Mesothelioma Lump Sum Payments (Conditions and Amounts) (Amendment) Regulations 2020.
 

Asbestos Offensive

Mar 4, 2020

In a letter dated February 20, 2020, asbestos victims, bereaved family members, health organizations and concerned citizens urgently requested that the leadership of the Canadian Conservative Party – currently in opposition – repudiate statements by Luc Berthold, the Conservative Member of Parliament representing the former asbestos mining constituency of Mégantic-L'Érable, alleging the existence of a powerful anti-asbestos lobby operating in Quebec and Canada that was spreading disinformation designed to denigrate asbestos; Berthold provided no evidence to support his accusations. See: Conservative Party of Canada asked to repudiate statements creating doubt about asbestos harm.
 

Asbestos in the Sewers

Mar 4, 2020

Since February 25, 2020, workers at the company Eau de Paris (Paris Water) have been on strike over the issue of occupational asbestos exposures. Despite acknowledging as long ago as 2014 that 30% of the 1,700 km of underground pipes in the capital’s water delivery system were made of asbestos and that all the company’s workers had probably been exposed to asbestos fibers, to date discussions with the company had proved futile with no improvements to the working conditions of sewer workers and no compensation for the workplace hazards experienced. See: Amiante dans les égouts: grève illimitée à Eau de Paris [Asbestos in the sewers: unlimited strike at Eau de Paris].
 

Mesothelioma Data

Mar 4, 2020

An analysis of mesothelioma data produced by the Health and Safety Executive in 2017 revealed that while male deaths were decreasing the number of deaths in women had risen, with multiple cases being identified from toxic occupational exposures experienced in public buildings. Commenting on the new data, one legal expert expressed sadness at the emerging trend in: “certain female-dominated professions, like teaching, social care and nursing” and warned of “a new wave of asbestos-related deaths – this time among women…” See: Rise in female mesothelioma deaths sheds new light on asbestos risk.
 

Confronting Brazil’s Asbestos Legacy

Mar 3, 2020

In a high-profile interview with retired labor inspector and co-founder of the Brazilian Association of the Asbestos-Exposed Fernanda Giannasi (published on February 29, 2020), the former civil servant denounced moves by the Governor of Goiás State and asbestos industry stakeholders to circumvent Brazil’s 2017 asbestos ban. Recapping the evolution of knowledge regarding the hazard posed by exposures to asbestos and the history of asbestos mining and use in Brazil, Ms. Giannasi said: “Our struggle is to permanently protect society from the asbestos hazard…. What was once called the ‘magic mineral’ is now condemned as the “killer fiber.” See: Liberação do amianto em Goiás: “a ‘Lei Caiado’ é um acinte” [Asbestos release in Goiás: “the ‘Caiado Law’ is a provocation].
 

Mesothelioma Research Award

Mar 3, 2020

UK campaigners have welcomed the announcement by European cancer organizations of a multi-million pound grant for mesothelioma research led by Professor Kevin Blyth, a scientist at the University of Glasgow. The research team will search for alternative treatments for the signature asbestos cancer, mesothelioma. Commenting on this news, Professor Blyth said: “In the future it’s likely that the global incidence of mesothelioma will continue to increase, as there are many countries that still don’t regulate the use of asbestos. So, it’s important to build a research community now and improve our understanding to help those affected by this cancer.” See: European partnerships invest £27.4m to accelerate cancer research.
 

Asbestos Removal in Madrid

Mar 3, 2020

At a meeting on February 28, 2020, residents of the Orcasitas area of Madrid – one of the capital’s poorest neighborhoods – were informed of plans to support the removal of asbestos contamination via government grants of up to 90% for decontamination work. The program to replace toxic roofing on homes in Orcasitas will begin in April 2020; funds for the work will be made available to applicants at the start of the projects. A sum of €4.5m has been allocated. See: Almeida calma a Orcasitas con un nuevo plan de rehabilitación para retirar el amianto [Almeida calms Orcasitas with a new rehabilitation plan to remove asbestos].
 

Asbestos Legacy at Sea and on Land

Mar 3, 2020

Last week it was announced that asbestos had been found behind insulated bulkheads on Israeli warships during equipment checks. Commenting on the situation, a spokesperson for the Navy said that asbestos audits of the ships would be completed by July 2020. This announcement came weeks after it was revealed that as a result of the discovery of asbestos contamination at the Reading Power Station in Tel Aviv, the Ministry of Environmental Protection had ordered the facility to close down temporarily. See: На израильских военных кораблях обнаружен асбест [Asbestos discovered on Israeli warships].
 

Asbestos Eradication

Mar 3, 2020

To progress efforts to rid Poland of asbestos contamination by 2032, Torun City in north-central Poland is providing support – in collaboration with the Provincial and National Fund for Environmental Protection and Water Management – to homeowners who make applications under the Asbestos Removal Program for the City of Torun. To date, ~765 tonnes of contaminated material has been removed and safely disposed of under strict regulations set by the Polish government. See: Niebezpieczny azbest musi zniknac z Torunia! [Dangerous asbestos must disappear from Torun!].
 

Asbestos Alert

Feb 28, 2020

On February 25, 2020 it was announced that the Naval Group had temporarily closed a workshop in Cherbourg-en-Cotentin, north-western France which employed 200 people, due to concerns over asbestos, after trade unions had denounced the hazardous conditions at the worksite where nuclear submarines are manufactured for the French Navy. This action was taken days after a Court fined the French automotive group PSA €118,000 for occupational asbestos exposures experienced by a former worker at the Peugeot site in Sochaux. See: Naval Group ferme un atelier à Cherbourg-en-Cotentin à cause d'une suspection d'amiante [Naval Group closes workshop in Cherbourg-en-Cotentin due to asbestos suspicion].
 

Toxic Talc

Feb 28, 2020

A paper published in the current issue of the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine described thirty-three cases of malignant mesothelioma among individuals with no known asbestos exposure other than cosmetic talcum. The authors of this study reported that: “Asbestos of the type found in talcum powder was found in all six cases.” In light of the finding that asbestos-contaminated talcum powders could cause mesothelioma, the researchers recommended that clinicians detail mesothelioma patients’ history of talcum powder use. See: Mesothelioma Associated with the Use of Cosmetic Talc.
 

Asbestos in Marble and Stone

Feb 28, 2020

New guidelines issued by the Health and Safety Executive highlight the hazard posed by the presence of asbestos fibers in marble and basalt products and provide advice for people supplying, working or using these types of material. The 10-page document cites various pieces of legislation relevant to this subject including: the Health & Safety at Work etc Act 1974, the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012, the Construction (Design & Management) Regulations 2015 and the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002. See: Asbestos in some types of marble and other stone: assessing the risk.
 

Asbestos at Power Plants

Feb 27, 2020

Today (February 27), an information session is being held by the Center for Environmental Studies Ithaca of Andorra to raise awareness of the historical as well as current occupational and environmental health hazards, including exposures to asbestos, generated by the operations of the Andorra Thermal Power Plant. Amongst the speakers will be representatives of the Catalan Association of Victims Affected by Asbestos and specialist Jaume Cortés, from a legal cooperative specializing in industrial injuries. See: ¿Qué supone la exposición continuada al sílice y al amianto? [What does continuous exposure to silica and asbestos mean?]
 

Asbestos Ban Resolution

Feb 27, 2020

A resolution submitted to the 12th National Health Assembly of Thailand in December 2019 called for a complete ban on the use of all types of asbestos. The proposal requested that government agencies and ministries take steps to: prohibit asbestos use by 2025 at the latest, support the use of safer alternatives, raise awareness of the health hazard, issue guidelines for the safe disposal of asbestos waste and develop systems for diagnosing asbestos-related diseases and compensating the injured. In order to implement the provisions of the proposal, approval from the National Health Commission and the Thai cabinet is required. See: Revision of National Health Assembly Resolution: Thailand ban asbestos measure.
 

Asbestos and Construction Workers

Feb 27, 2020

Calls are being made for the European Union to update workplace regulations in line with new research which detailed the hazardous effects that legal exposures were having on construction workers. The research showed that instead of 100,000 asbestos fibers per cubic meter, the limit value should be 100 per cubic meter. Danish Member of the European Parliament Nikolaj Villumsen has been pressing for action by the European Employment Committee to address the hazard posed by asbestos still contained within the European infrastructure. See: Villumsen: Lønmodtagere skal ikke betale for grøn omstilling med kortere levetid [Villumsen: Employees should not pay for a green conversion with a shorter life span].
 

Asbestos Claimant’s Verdict

Feb 26, 2020

This week a court in the French city of Belfort, 16 miles from the French-Swiss border, ordered the PSA automotive group to pay compensation of €110,000 to a former worker from the Peugeot factory in Sochaux who has contracted asbestos-related cancer as a result of hazardous occupational exposures during his 40 years of employment. PSA was found guilty of “faute inexcusable” (inexcusable fault). Up to forty thousand people had worked at the Sochaux plant. The company has one month to appeal the verdict. See: Culpabilité du groupe PSA pour exposition à l'amiante [PSA group guilty for asbestos exposure].
 

Asbestos at the Opera

Feb 26, 2020

As the manslaughter trial of five theatre managers was due to recommence in Milan, unions and workers’ groups presented a dossier of material to reporters detailing the presence of asbestos in La Scala and the actions they had taken to try and prevent toxic exposures. The defendants have been charged over the asbestos-related deaths of nine workers – including technicians, singers, musicians, choristers and conductors – which, allegedly, resulted from hazardous exposures experienced at the world famous Opera House. See: Milano, morti per amianto alla Scala: “Bonifica fatta grazie ai lavoratori” [Milan, asbestos deaths at La Scala: “Reclamation done thanks to workers”].
 

Asbestos Mine Remediation

Feb 26, 2020

An abandoned asbestos mine, one of 37 derelict mining facilities on the island of Cyprus, has absorbed most of the funding allocated by the government for the reclamation of such contaminated sites over recent years. The first trees were planted at the site of the Amiantos mine in 1995 and the project is still ongoing with hopes it may be finished in 3 years. According to a recent report: “the site was given priority because it was considered the most urgent case of all the abandoned mines.” Once this project has been completed, work will begin on other sites. Lessons learned from the restoration work at Amiantos suggest that planting trees may be less effective than benign neglect in restoring the area’s flora and fauna. See: Disused mines both heritage and health hazard.
 

Asbestos Propaganda in India and Russia

Feb 24, 2020

The findings of a disputed 2019 “study,” categorized by Indian campaigners as yet another “scam” by asbestos industry stakeholders has been reported in Russia as evidence supporting the “safe use of asbestos” propaganda disseminated by industry. The article asserted that: at the Russian Uralasbest asbestos mining plants “not a single case of an occupational disease was recorded” in 2018 and that “products created from chrysotile asbestos are not just a safe, but natural, environmentally friendly, durable and affordable solution to many problems.” See: Новое исследование подтвердило безопасность хризотила при контролируемом использовании [New study confirms chrysotile safety in controlled use].
 

Toxic Legacy of Asbestos Industry

Feb 24, 2020

New research, revealing the disastrous impact asbestos mining had on workers and resident populations in Quebec, has confirmed the high risk to Canadians posed by occupational and environmental exposures. The “shocking findings” have included: high levels of asbestos-related deaths, lack of compensation, inadequate levels of protection and lower penalties for hazardous practices in Quebec compared to other Canadian provinces. Between 2005 and 2015, 85% of all workplace-related diseases in Quebec were caused by asbestos exposure. See: Inquiry into Quebec’s asbestos mining legacy reveals shocking findings.
 

Police Operation: Asbestos

Feb 24, 2020

On February 20, 2020, police officers from the city of Vlora – in the south-west of Albania – working with border patrol guards seized a large amount of asbestos-contaminated waste being transported in a van in an operation called: “Asbestos”. Six Albanian citizens were arrested after the illegal shipment was discovered in a ferry anchored in Albania which had come from the Italian town of Brindisi. Clarification is being sought of the statement in this article which asserted that asbestos had been banned in Albania. See: Huge Amount of Asbestos Seized Inside Brindisi-Albania Ferry.
 

Court Upholds Compensation Award

Feb 21, 2020

On February 13, 2020, the Florence Court of Appeal upheld a December 2019 ruling by a court in Grosseto, Italy which had recognized the occupational nature of the asbestos-related illness contracted by a soldier, and awarded him benefits including a life-time pension and a one-off lump sum compensation payment. The lower court’s verdict had been appealed by Italy’s Ministry of Economy and Finance. The claimant, who had served in the military for 33 years as a motor engineer and chief mechanic, contracted asbestosis as a result of workplace asbestos exposure. See: Amianto: militare GdF malato, giudici ‘Mef paghi vitalizio’ [Asbestos: sick GdF soldier, ‘Mef pay annuity’ judges rule].
 

Raising Asbestos Awareness

Feb 21, 2020

A conference held in Lisbon on January 31, 2020 brought together national and European experts from the asbestos removal industry and relevant government agencies to assess measures which might be taken to raise the level of asbestos awareness in Portugal, in particular the hazard posed by asbestos contamination of the built environment. The event, which was organized by a campaigning NGO, took place at the Lisbon headquarters of the Order of Engineers on January 31. Measures to protect occupational and public health were examined and topics such as the following were addressed by speakers: asbestos audits, environmental monitoring, asbestos removal and waste disposal practices. See: Portugal sem Amianto [Asbestos-free Portugal].
 

Asbestos on the Metro

Feb 21, 2020

The decontamination of trains by the company operating the Madrid Metro system has been suspended following a complaint received by the Prosecutor’s Office which had been made by a trade union representing Machinists alleging that the company planned to destroy evidence of asbestos contamination in order to undermine personal injury claims by injured workers. On February 17, 2020 the company circulated to the workforce news of yet more asbestos contamination in new train parts, specifically in joints in units 2000A and 2000B. See: Denuncian a Metro por “destrucción de pruebas” en el caso del amianto [Metro denounced for “destruction of evidence” regarding asbestos].
 

Asbestos in Makeup

Feb 21, 2020

A BBC 3 documentary entitled: Beauty Laid Bare revealed that an eye shadow product marketed by the cosmetics company MUA had tested positive for asbestos. US analyst Sean Fitzgerald tested samples from a MUA product called “Silent Disco” three times to confirm the findings. The company asserted that “all their products rigorously comply with all EU safety standards on contaminants and that they keep a full record of test results. They said they have carried out more recent tests on this exact batch of products which show no trace of any contamination.” Nevertheless, the sale of “Silent Disco palette” was discontinued over a year ago. See: Investigation finds asbestos in makeup palette made by popular brand MUA.
 

Asbestos Survey

Feb 19, 2020

Responding to a recent survey nearly all the people living in the former asbestos mining town of Thetford, Quebec expressed no concern about living near the derelict asbestos mine or the mountains of 850 million tonnes of mining waste surrounding the town. According to the researchers: “93% of respondents to the study believe that living in the region is no more dangerous than [living] elsewhere in Quebec.” Only 5% of the people surveyed believed that it was more dangerous to live in the region than elsewhere in Quebec because of the area’s asbestos legacy. See: Les résidus d'amiante ne font pas peur dans la région de Thetford [Asbestos residues are not scary in the Thetford region].
 

Mesothelioma Compensation

Feb 19, 2020

The Italian Parliament has initially approved moves to increase payouts for mesothelioma victims with non-occupational asbestos exposures who were diagnosed since 2015 (or their heirs) from €5,600 to €10,000 by way of a one-off compensation payment. A draft amendment to implement this measure is progressing through legislative channels. After the Second World War, Italy was Europe largest consumer of asbestos; millions of tonnes of asbestos-containing material remains in Italian public buildings, factories and homes. See; Amianto, vittoria delle vittime: 4 milioni di euro per i malati di mesothelioma [Asbestos, victims' victory: 4 million euros for mesothelioma patients].
 

Asbestos Construction Hazard

Feb 19, 2020

An article on the Russian language Delfi website in Latvia about the hazards posed by some construction materials had a rather muddled section about asbestos, alleging that white asbestos (chrysotile) building products – which are “actively used in Russia – can be used safely under controlled conditions. Despite this assertion, the author suggested that the use of asbestos-free products is the safest option and that trained operatives with specialist equipment should be contracted for asbestos removal work. See: Правда и выдумки: Об опасных материалах для стройки и ремонта [Truth and fiction: About the hazards of construction and repair material].
 

Asbestos Eradication: Update

Feb 18, 2020

Programs supporting the eradication of asbestos are underway in many Polish cities and villages as part of efforts to make the country asbestos-free by 2032. In Poznan, refunds are available to meet the full costs of removal and disposal of asbestos-containing products from the municipal authorities. This year, Poznan City has allocated a budget for asbestos removal of 330,000 PLN (~US$76,300); applications for grants must be submitted by October 15, 2020. The maximum funding available per applicant is 33,000 PLN (US$ 8,400). See: Doplacaja do usuwania rakotwórczego azbestu [They pay extra for removing carcinogenic asbestos].
 

Asbestos Hazard in Barcelona

Feb 18, 2020

Information released by the Transportes Metropolitanos de Barcelona (TMB) showed that of the 141 TMB employees who had been medically examined – most of whom were retired and all of whom had ceased working for the company 15 years ago – 15 had asbestos-related lung conditions as follows: 7 had pleural alterations, 6 bronchopulmonary tumors and 2 asbestosis. The total number of TMB employees whose medical conditions have been reviewed under the company’s health surveillance program stands at 1,056. See: Hallan afecciones pulmonares por amianto en 15 jubilados del metro de Barcelona [Asbestos lung conditions found in 15 retirees of the Barcelona metro].
 

Asbestos in Schools

Feb 18, 2020

According to Schoolgroep Brussel (SGB), a group representing the education system of the Flemish Community, 80% of the 100 Flemish schools in Brussels still contain asbestos. Last year (2019), asbestos remediation work was carried out in just six of the Flemish schools. A statement by SGB was highly critical of the discrepancy between the more generous funding provided by the public waste agency in Flanders for work on school in Flanders and that provided by the Brussels environment agency [Leefmilieu Brussel] for Dutch-speaking community schools in Brussels. See: Asbestos still present in 80% of Flemish schools in Brussels.
 

Asbestos in Schools

Feb 18, 2020

During Parliamentary question time last week, Italy’s Minister of the Environment acknowledged that “asbestos is an extremely significant problem for our country.” He announced that €385 million had been allocated for the remediation of schools and hospitals; at this time, asbestos contamination is present in 2,400 schools. Overseeing this project will be a working group whose chair is retired Public Prosecutor Raffaele Guariniello who led efforts in Turin to bring to justice former asbestos company director Stephan Schmidheiny. See: Amianto, 32 milioni di tonnellate di materiale cancerogeno ancora da smaltire [Asbestos, 32 million tons of carcinogenic material still to be disposed of].
 

Calls to Raise Asbestos Awareness

Feb 18, 2020

According to a new online commentary, a basic lack of awareness about the hazard posed by asbestos exposures in Portugal is leading to unsafe and dangerous working practices amongst people trying to remove contaminated material. To improve public health, the author of this text calls for a phased asbestos remediation programme carried out by trained operatives which prioritizes more hazardous situations such as occur when highly friable products are in poor repair and in easily accessible positions such as in schools. See: É urgente regular o tema do Amianto em Portugal [There is an urgent need to regulate the use of asbestos in Portugal].
 

Decrease in Asbestos Demand

Feb 17, 2020

Data released by the United States Geological Survey this month (February 2020) showed that global demand for asbestos fiber fell from 2 million tonnes (t) in 2010 to 1,100,000t in 2019. Russia remained the world’s biggest supplier of asbestos fiber producing 750,000t in 2019 with Kazakhstan 2nd at 200,000t and China 3rd at 125,000t. The main use of asbestos continues to be in the production of asbestos-cement building products such as corrugated roofing tiles, pipes and wall panels. See: U.S. Geological Survey, Mineral Commodity Summaries, January 2020 [pages 26 & 27].
 

Quebec’s Toxic Mining Legacy

Feb 17, 2020

After decades of denial, an independent inquiry is exposing the true cost of the commercial exploitation of asbestos to mining communities in Canada’s asbestos heartland. In the Quebec town of Thetford-Mines, mountains of mining waste – which can contain up to 20% asbestos fiber – dominate the landscape. Entrepreneurs are planning to process this waste to reclaim raw materials including magnesium, silica and manganese, claiming that this can be done safely by destroying the asbestos fibers. Quebec’s Office of Public Hearings on the Environment is currently investigating these claims. See: Pandora’s box opens on Quebec's deadly asbestos legacy.
 

Asbestos Earthquake Hazard

Feb 17, 2020

A documentary on Japan TV marking the 25th anniversary of the Great Hanshin Earthquake, explored the asbestos hazard resulting from that disaster; filmmakers detailed the case of Kazunori Shimatani, a former employee of Akashi City, Hyogo Prefecture who died from mesothelioma in 2013 at the age of 49. Mr. Shimatani had been exposed to asbestos during the post-earthquake clean-up. The death of Mr. Shimatani has not been officially recognized or compensated. To date, a total of five Hyogo Prefecture workers – including clean-up crews and first responders – have been diagnosed with mesothelioma. See: 阪神大震災から25年…“静かな時限爆弾”アスベストの脅威 [25 years since the Great Hanshin Earthquake ... “Silent time bomb! asbestos threat].
 

Disappearing Funds?

Feb 17, 2020

Officials in Piedmont, north-western Italy have denounced the disappearance of €14 million of Italian government funding which had, supposedly, been allocated to continue remediation work in the area surrounding the site of Europe’s largest asbestos mine: Balangero. According to Matteo Marnati, regional councillor for the environment, reclamation work at Balangero has stopped due to the shortage of money. Piedmont has the highest number of deaths caused by the asbestos cancer mesothelioma of all the Italian regions. See: Amianto, non ci sono i soldi per le bonifiche: mai arrivati 14 milioni [Asbestos, there is no money for reclamation: 14 million never arrived].
 

Asbestos-Cement Roofing: Alert

Feb 13, 2020

At a ceremony in Jakarta on February 11, 2020 to mark the founding of the Indonesian National Movement for Lung Cancer Care, lung specialist Dr. Elisna Syahruddin issued a warning about the health hazard posed by living in close proximity to asbestos-cement roofing due to the link between asbestos exposure and lung cancer. Syahruddin advised that asbestos products should not be used. The number of lung cancer cases in Indonesia is now more than 10 times what it was 15 years ago with male patients accounting for almost 90% of those affected. See: Atap Asbes Disebut Bisa Tingkatkan Risiko Kanker Paru-paru [Asbestos roofing said to increase the risk of lung cancer].
 

Asbestos Outrage

Feb 13, 2020

Under cover of a controversial law enacted in 2019 by the Brazilian State of Goiás, Eternit SA – formerly the country’s largest asbestos conglomerate – has announced it will resume processing chrysotile asbestos at a mine owned by its subsidiary Sama in contravention of a 2017 Supreme Court ruling which outlawed the commercial exploitation of asbestos. The company said that all the asbestos, estimated to be ~24,000 tonnes, will be exported. Operations at the mine had been paralyzed since February 2019 due to litigation pending at the Supreme Court regarding the unconstitutionality of the Goiás law. See: Eternit vai retomar produção de amianto para exportar, apesar de proibição do STF [Eternit to resume asbestos production for export, despite STF ban].
 

Toxic Talc

Feb 13, 2020

An online article by a Vietnamese medical consultant discussed the controversy over the use of talcum powder in cosmetic products due to findings that the talc could contain asbestos fibers. Exposure to asbestos can cause various cancers including lung cancer and ovarian cancer. Having considered information from different sources and explained research findings, the author concluded that: “you should still be cautious about using products containing this ingredient. Ideally, you should avoid products containing talc containing asbestos.” See: Bạn có nên hạn chế dùng bột talc để phòng ngừa ung thư? [Should you limit the use of talcum powder to prevent cancer?].
 

Asbestos in Schools

Feb 13, 2020

The American Federation of Teachers has joined the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers (PFT) in calling for extra funding to remediate asbestos contamination of many of the city’s public schools, some of which have been forced to close due to hazardous conditions. The two groups are urging the School District of Philadelphia to hire up to 100 trained operatives as part of a rapid response team to identify and eliminate asbestos pollution in the city’s schools. The PFT is suing the school district over mishandling of the asbestos issue and endangering the lives of ~140,000 students and school employees. See: National teachers’ union calls for additional resources to address asbestos issue in schools.
 

Ban Asbestos Award

Feb 11, 2020

On February 6, 2020, the Indonesian city of Bandung received an award for its commitment to eradicating the asbestos hazard. A certificate from the (Australian) Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency was presented to the Deputy Mayor Yana Mulyana at City Hall by Campaigner Phillip Hazleton from the Australian group: Union Aid Abroad. This month, Bandung City Assembly announced it was expanding its 2018 asbestos ban for commercial buildings to include all new private houses; Bandung is the only city in Indonesia that prohibits asbestos use in buildings. See: Konsisten Larang Penggunaan Asbes, Kota Bandung Raih Penghargaan [For its Commitment to Banning the Use of Asbestos, Bandung City Wins Award].
 

Asbestos Exposure and Leukaemia

Feb 11, 2020

Using a cohort of 12,111 seventh grade pupils from four Danish schools located near a factory which produced asbestos-cement and a reference cohort of 108,987 participants, scientists investigated whether environmental and occupational asbestos exposure increased the risk of haematological malignancies. They concluded that: “long-term occupational asbestos exposure may be a risk factor for leukaemia” and recommended that “countries still using asbestos should acknowledge this additional cancer risk in their asbestos management.” See: Asbestos exposure and haematological malignancies: a Danish cohort study.
 

Asbestos in Healthcare Facilities

Feb 11, 2020

Kate Richmond, a 44-year old doctor with cancer caused by exposure to asbestos in UK hospitals, has condemned the failure of the National Health Service (NHS) to protect staff, warning of a “hidden epidemic of asbestos cancers among NHS staff and patients because hospitals have failed to properly handle toxic material.” Richmond won her legal case against the NHS which had, her lawyers argued, negligently exposed her to asbestos whilst she was a medical student and a junior doctor in Coventry. According to HSE data, between 2011 and 2017, 128 people working in health and social care died from mesothelioma, the same cancer Richmond contracted. See: Dying doctor warns of asbestos ‘hidden epidemic’ caused by NHS failures.
 

Asbestos Exposures in Ship-breaking

Feb 11, 2020

New figures released by a Belgian-based NGO show that Bangladesh dismantled 47.2% of all vessels scrapped in 2018. There are an estimated 3,000 permanent and up to 7,000 temporary workers in the country’s ship-breaking yards. In most cases, harmful substances are not identified and toxic exposures to carcinogens like asbestos occur daily. As well as endangering the health of workers and local communities, the pollution produced by ship-breaking destroys coastal ecosystems. See: Bangladesh retains top spot in global ship breaking trade.
 

Asbestos Hazard in Shipyards

Feb 11, 2020

Research undertaken at shipyards in India confirmed the high level of risk of contracting asbestos cancer which exists and highlighted the lack of political will to take preventative action. The findings of the scientists were disturbing: airborne asbestos fiber concentrations in the ship recycling yards could exceed 100 fibres/ml; by 2027, ~4,500 people could die from mesothelioma as a result of improper handling of asbestos at these workplaces with more deaths amongst bystanders than those directly exposed; most of these fatalities will go unreported. See: Assessment of the future mesothelioma disease burden from past exposure to asbestos in ship recycling yards in India.
 

Post-Bushfire Asbestos Hazard

Feb 10, 2020

As with other man-made and natural disasters, the hazard posed during clean-up operations by asbestos contamination has been highlighted in the aftermath of the bushfires that raged through Australia in recent weeks. It has been estimated by the NSW Rural Fire Service that 40% of homes and buildings destroyed by the fires contained asbestos. Methods for dealing with the asbestos debris include spraying a PVC binder on the contamination to prevent the liberation of fibers. The disposal of corrugated sheeting and boards, however, is posing a problem for affected communities. NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro has promised that “contaminated properties will be prioritised.” See: Asbestos risk in 40 per cent of bushfire-hit homes.
 

Madrid’s Asbestos Scandal

Feb 10, 2020

The results of a 2003 survey which identified the presence of asbestos in Madrid’s transport system were not communicated to employees of the company which commissioned it – Metro de Madrid – a court was told on February 6, 2020. Proceedings before Judge María Isabel Garaizaba, head of the Court of Instruction number 23 of Madrid, are seeking to establish whether charges, including reckless manslaughter, made against seven company executives can be substantiated. As of now, five Metro workers have died from asbestos-related diseases as a result of occupational exposures; tests are ongoing on other current and former members of the workforce. See: Metro dijo a sus empleados que el amianto no les afectaba [Metro told its employees that asbestos did not affect them].
 

Toxic Talc

Feb 10, 2020

On February 6, 2020, a jury in New Jersey ordered Johnson & Johnson (J&J) to pay $750 million in punitive damages in a case brought by four mesothelioma victims whose fatal cancers were caused by exposure to the company’s asbestos-contaminated baby powder. It is believed that the amount awarded will be reduced to ~$185 million because of a state cap on damages. At a previous trial, another jury awarded the claimants $37.2 million in compensation. J&J said the company would appeal the verdict. In January, J&J’s CEO Alex Gorsky testified for the first time at a jury trial regarding the alleged contamination of the baby powder. See: Jury orders Johnson & Johnson to pay $750 million in New Jersey talc case.
 

Attack on Asbestos Victims

Feb 10, 2020

A commentary by Emidio de Souza, a former Mayor of the Brazilian town of Osasco and currently a state deputy, has revealed plans by the São Paulo Governor João Doria to close down in May 2020 a facility at the Instituto do Câncer do Estado de São Paulo (São Paulo Cancer Institute) which provides radiotherapy for patients in Osasco, the former center of Brazil’s asbestos-cement industry. Souza says that given the size of the population, many of whom are at high-risk of contracting asbestos-related cancers, the facility should be expanded not disbanded. According to figures cited by Souza, the cancer incidence in Brazil is predicted to rise substantially over the next two decades. See: Doria, com saúde não se brinca [Doria, you can't play with health].
 

Brazil Supreme Court: Delay

Feb 6, 2020

On February 5, 2020, it was learned that a verdict due to be handed down virtually by the Brazilian Supreme Court on February 7, 2020 was being postponed, with no explanation or future date being given. The litigation due to be judged concerned the status of the 2019 law passed by the State of Goiás which allowed the mining and export of chrysotile (white) asbestos to recommence in contravention of a 2017 Brazil Supreme Court decision banning asbestos. At this time, no more information is available regarding this postponement.
 

Asbestos Conviction

Feb 6, 2020

A January 31, 2020 press release issued by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) detailed the conviction of Barry Patchett, trading as BSN Demolition, for contravening Regulations 7(2), 11(1) and 12 of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012. Patchett was sentenced to 12 weeks imprisonment, suspended for one year, and ordered to pay costs of £1,000. Commenting on the case, HSE inspector Stuart Whitesmith said: “Asbestos is not just a problem of the past; it can be present today in any building or industrial process plant built or refurbished before the year 2000. In this case, Mr Patchett failed to follow basic safe working practices required by the Regulations.” See: Employer sentenced for failing to implement safe working practices for the removal of asbestos.
 

Asbestos Denial and Delay

Feb 6, 2020

Just a handful of countries in Latin America have acted on the asbestos hazard; Mexico is not one of them. The latest figures provided by the Mexican Senate regarding asbestos cancer deaths date from 2005 and represent a gross underestimation of the damage done by the asbestos industry to Mexican workers, consumers and members of the public. According to this source, between 1979 and 2005 there were 1,346 deaths from the asbestos cancer, mesothelioma. See: Amianto, enemigo silencioso y mortal [Asbestos, silent and deadly enemy].
 

Asbestos Legacy

Feb 6, 2020

Exposures experienced 20 years ago due to asbestos remediation work at Camp Walker – a U.S. army base in South Korea – have been blamed by veterans for causing serious diseases. Army inspections carried out in 1996 of bases in Korea found asbestos in 200 buildings. According to a report in Stars and Stripes – a U.S. military newspaper – in May 2000: “Experts say dozens of buildings on bases across South Korea might be contaminated with broken pieces of asbestos resulting in crushed, airborne fragments that can be deadly if inhaled.” From 1994 to 2000, cancer sufferer David Sewell worked at the base and was there during the removal operations. See: Army veterans blame health problems on asbestos removal at South Korean base.
 

Testing Toxic Talc

Feb 5, 2020

On February 4, 2020, a hearing was held by the U.S. Federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to examine procedures used for the testing of talc powders and cosmetics for asbestos contamination. The FDA took this action in response to multiple findings of asbestos in Johnson & Johnson baby powder and cosmetic products; this was the first time in 50 years the FDA had investigated asbestos testing standards for these products. Significant recommendations made by members of the expert panel were disputed by industry spokesmen who said they would “would not improve product safety. See: U.S. government experts, industry spar over asbestos testing in talc.
 

Brazilian Asbestos Ban: Update

Feb 5, 2020

On February 7, 2020 the Brazilian Supreme Court will announce its decision regarding the status of the 2019 law passed by the State of Goiás which allowed the mining and export of asbestos to recommence in contravention of a 2017 Supreme Court decision banning asbestos. The decision of the individual judges will only be known once the verdict is handed down “virtually,” with no court appearances scheduled. See: Supremo julgará constitucionalidade da lei que autoriza a extração e exportação de amianto em Goiás [Supreme Court will judge the constitutionality of the law authorizing the extraction and export of asbestos in Goiás].
 

Asbestos in Schools

Feb 5, 2020

An exposé published on February 3, 2020 in Liberation – a daily newspaper in France – revealed that more than 70% of public buildings in Paris contained asbestos. According to information supplied by City Hall, 564 public schools and colleges still contained asbestos; the municipal budget to remediate the educational infrastructure is €1.5 million per year. A spokesperson for a federation representing parents and students confirmed their concern about the asbestos contamination and announced plans to work with local councillors to raise awareness of the issue. See: Amiante: à Paris, deux tiers des écoles et collèges concernés [Asbestos: in Paris, two thirds of the schools and colleges concerned].
 

Protecting Public Health

Feb 5, 2020

A paper published in the current issue of the BOHS journal Annals of Work Exposures and Health examined the public health hazard posed by workers inadvertently taking home toxic substances such as asbestos from their workplaces. Lessons learned from community health initiatives could, the authors, suggested empower workers and advocacy groups to help prevent contamination through participatory involvement when enacting and enforcing legislation; and also when constructing and implementing community-based screening and healthcare programs in order to improve health equity. See: Eliminating Take-Home Exposures: Recognizing the Role of Occupational Health and Safety in Broader Community Health.
 

Asbestos Exposure and Cancer

Feb 4, 2020

An article on the website of the Russian Federal Service for Surveillance on Consumer Rights Protection and Human Wellbeing to mark World Cancer Day highlighted the health hazard posed by asbestos. The text considered lifestyle changes that could reduce the likelihood of cancer and explained the risk posed by genetic factors and environmental hazards. “Among the external factors that provoke the development of tumors,” the authors stated “are ultraviolet and ionizing radiation, chemical carcinogens such as asbestos and components of tobacco smoke, and some infections.” Russia is the world’s largest producer and exporter of chrysotile asbestos. See: Больше спорта, меньше пиццы: как защититься от рака [More sports, less pizza: how to defend yourself against cancer].
 

Bushfire Clean-Up

Feb 4, 2020

As bushfires continue to blaze in some parts of New South Wales (NSW), it was announced that the NSW Government and the Commonwealth would cover the clean-up costs of properties, both domestic and commercial, destroyed by the disaster. Uninsured as well as insured properties would be covered, and local contractors and suppliers would undertake the work needed. As a result of this program, property owners will not have to pay for the removal and disposal of debris, including potentially hazardous materials such as asbestos-containing cement building products which have been widely used throughout the country. See: NSW Government to cover clean-up cost of properties destroyed by bushfires.
 

Replacement of Asbestos-Cement Pipes

Feb 4, 2020

According to Malaysia’s National Water Services Commission, in 2018 there were about 41,560 km of asbestos cement (AC) pipes in the country. The AC pipes, which were installed 60 years ago, pose health risks and have been banned in many countries. Government funds for upgrades to the country’s water delivery system are insufficient to pay for a nationwide pipe replacement program. To address this situation there is a proposal to solicit individual and corporate contributions for this work. If successful, this government-corporation-community collaboration would ensure the replacement of all AC pipes in a more timely and cost-effective manner. See: The Malaysian leaky pipe story.
 

Victim’s Legal Victory

Feb 4, 2020

Factory owners in the Province of Biscay in the north of Spain were ordered by a Bilboa Court to pay compensation of €145,000 to the family of a deceased worker who had been exposed to asbestos whilst employed at the plant between 1984-2010. The former employee, who died in 2017 from pleural mesothelioma, had initially worked at the Bridgestone factory on the repair of steam pipes and later rose to be head of the asbestos remediation department. See: Condenan a Bridgestone por la muerte del encargado de la retirada de amianto [Bridgestone condemned for death of asbestos removal officer].
 

Asbestos in Schools

Feb 4, 2020

On Monday, February 3, 2020, 200 parents and local people attended a briefing on the handling of the asbestos situation at the Newcastle East Public School in New South Wales (NSW), Australia. Parents were outraged that the distribution of incorrect information regarding the hazard posed by the school’s contamination could have endangered the health of their children. Replying to their concerns, NSW Education Minister Sarah Mitchell apologized for her department's handling of the school's asbestos crisis, saying: “I'm not happy with the way this has been handled.” See: Newcastle East Public School parents demand answers about potential asbestos risks to their children.
 

MoD Condemned

Feb 3, 2020

A Labor Court in the southern Italian city of Taranto condemned the Ministry of Defense (MoD) for failing to protect a worker from hazardous exposure to asbestos contained in the insulation of electrical equipment as a result of which he died from the asbestos cancer mesothelioma. The deceased was a civilian electrician who had worked for the Italian Navy from the 1970s to the mid-2000s. The family of the electrician was awarded €500,000 in compensation. See: Taranto, operaio morì di mesotelioma per colpa dell'amianto: 500mila euro agli eredi [Taranto, worker died of mesothelioma due to asbestos: 500 thousand euros to the heirs].
 

Asbestos in Schools

Feb 3, 2020

In the run-up to publishing the state budget for 2020-21, on January 29, 2020 the Governor of Pennsylvania Tom Wolf announced plans to allocate $1 billion for remediation work on schools contaminated with asbestos and lead, saying: “Decades ago, well-intentioned Pennsylvanians constructed our homes, our schools, our water systems, and other structures out of asbestos and lead because we thought they were harmless… Now we know the serious harm both cause.” Schools would be able to access grants through the state’s Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program. See: Gov. Wolf calls for $1 billion to tackle lead and asbestos in schools across Pennsylvania.
 

Toxic Dumpsite

Feb 3, 2020

Contaminated EU garbage dumped at a landfill in Portugal is endangering the health of people in Valongo, a city 175 miles north of Lisbon. The dumping at this site of asbestos-containing building materials is an issue of high concern to people in the parish of Sobrado who live less than 500 meters from the supposedly non-hazardous waste landfill. The low cost of using this facility attracts customers from the Netherlands and the UK; 400 different types of garbage are dumped here on a daily basis. See: Viver no “caixote do lixo” da Europa [Living in Europe's “dustbin”].
 

Asbestos Remediation

Feb 3, 2020

The Government of Jamaica has invested millions of dollars to remediate, upgrade and improve the water supply system in Portland, a parish on the northeastern coast of the island. Multiple projects are being implemented by Rural Water Supply Limited and the National Water Commission which include the installation and repair of water tanks and the replacement of fixtures and pipes, some of which contain asbestos. The old asbestos cement pipes are being replaced with ductile iron pipes. See: Gov’t Upgrading Water Supply Systems in Portland.
 

Corporate Crimes

Feb 3, 2020

The article referenced below, from Anuário Antropológico, a journal of the University of Brasília, discusses experiences of workers and residents in the Brazilian town of Minaçu who were exposed to chrysotile asbestos by the operations of the mining company SA Minerações Associadas (SAMA). The author details social suffering, marginalization and deaths which had ensued and highlights the role played by doctors and other medical professionals linked to SAMA in preventing the injured from accessing compensation or appropriate medical care. See: Sofrimento social entre trabalhadores do amianto e o ocultamento da ocorrência de doenças asbesto-relacionadas na cidade de Minaçu (GO) [Social suffering among asbestos workers and concealing the occurrence of asbestos-related diseases in the city of Minaçu (GO)].
 

Asbestos Exposures in Quebec

Feb 3, 2020

Despite multiple complaints regarding unsafe conditions during renovations in 2018 at the Château Montebello – a historic hotel and resort complex in Montebello, Quebec – timely action was not taken by the authorities to remedy the situation. Instances of asbestos removal carried out by workers wearing t-shirts, were reported by plumbers to their union representative. As a result, contractors and workers as well as hotel residents and staff may have been exposed to asbestos, according to an expose on a Canadian French-language television news program. It took 10 days before complaints made by workers to The Standards, Equity, Health and Safety Commission were addressed. See: Amiante: travailleurs à risque au Château Montebello [Asbestos: workers at risk at Château Montebello].
 

Asbestos and Lung Cancer: Update

Feb 3, 2020

A paper recently published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health reviewed scientific literature about asbestos and lung cancer and re-evaluated peer-reviewed epidemiologic studies. According to the authors, their research yielded new knowledge which provided: “evidence for synergism between asbestos exposure and tobacco smoke in lung cancer causation at a biological level. The evaluated statistical data conform best to a multiplicative model for the interaction effects of asbestos and smoking on the lung cancer risk, with no requirement for asbestosis. Any asbestos exposure, even in a heavy smoker, contributes to causation.” See: Asbestos, Smoking and Lung Cancer: An Update.
 

Uralita: Another Betrayal

Jan 31, 2020

Coemac, the company which took over Uralita – formerly Spain’s biggest asbestos conglomerate – has requested voluntary bankruptcy claiming that the corporation is likely to be overwhelmed by its asbestos liabilities. Although, Coemac has been keen to point out that the bankruptcy request affects only the parent company and not the subsidiary it is trying to sell, it has not spelled out what the process will mean to the thousands of asbestos victims in Spain who were injured by exposure to Uralita products. See: Coemac, la antigua Uralita, solicita el concurso de acreedores [Coemac, the former Uralita, requests bankruptcy].
 

Asbestos in Schools

Jan 31, 2020

A demonstration on Wednesday, January 29, 2020 by parents and students over the continuing hazard posed by asbestos at the Pousa school in Barcelos – a city in the north of Portugal – resulted in a temporary closure of the school. The asbestos saga at this school which has 120 students has been ongoing for 15 years. There are additional problems including leaky roofs, unsanitary conditions and dilapidated structures which have failed to be addressed by the authorities despite multiple promises of action. See: Pais e alunos fecham escola em Barcelos contra o amianto [Parents and students close school in Barcelos due to asbestos].
 

Mesothelioma Treatment: Update

Jan 31, 2020

The National Mesothelioma Audit organisational audit report 2019, which was released on January 21, 2020 by Mesothelioma UK and the Royal College of Physicians “is the first organisational report produced by the National Mesothelioma Audit (NMA).” The report, which examined the current situation in the UK regarding mesothelioma multidisciplinary team (MDT) services, concluded that patients referred to a specialist mesothelioma MDT “were significantly more likely to benefit from access to a mesothelioma-specific clinical nurse specialist and on-site access to mesothelioma clinical trials.” See: National Mesothelioma Audit organisational audit report 2019.
 

Toxic Talc

Jan 28, 2020

On January 27, the CEO of Johnson & Johnson (J&J) Alex Gorsky told a New Jersey jury he had not read all the corporate documents regarding potential asbestos contamination of J&J baby powder. Gorsky was subpoenaed by lawyers representing three men and one woman with mesothelioma who claim that the cause of their illnesses was exposure to asbestos in J&J baby powder. A jury found for the plaintiffs in a liability trial and awarding them $37.2 million. This trial before a new jury is seeking punitive damages to punish J&J’s reckless behaviour. See: Johnson & Johnson CEO testifies he ‘did not read all the documents’ related to potential asbestos in baby powder.
 

Victim’s Verdict Upheld

Jan 29, 2020

The Superior Court of Justice of Navarra upheld the ruling of the lower court – Pamplona’s Social Court No. 3 – which awarded compensation of €347,587.36 to the widow and two children of a 57-year old worker who died in 2017 from lung cancer which had been caused by occupational exposure to asbestos whilst he was employed by the AGNI company of Estella between 1972 and 1979. The BSH company in Estella, which acquired AGNI, was ordered to compensate the family. See: La Justicia estima indemnización de 350.000 euros para la familia de un trabajador fallecido por exposición al amianto [The Justice estimates compensation of 350,000 euros for the family of a deceased worker for exposure to asbestos].
 

Saint Gobain’s Asbestos Legacy

Jan 27, 2020

On January 23, a US affiliate of the French construction group Saint Gobain – formerly an international asbestos conglomerate – filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings in an effort to constrain its asbestos liabilities; it was estimated that the North Carolina company of DBMP LLC was facing 60,000 asbestos claims related to products made or sold by CertainTeed Corp., which last manufactured asbestos containing products in 1992. According to reports: “For Saint-Gobain, the stay of litigation (which results once Chapter 11 is filed) means that all legal costs and indemnity payments related to DBMP’s asbestos claims will be suspended.” See: Saint-Gobain: U.S. affiliate files for Chapter 11 to resolve asbestos liabilities.
 

Asbestos Cancer Mortality

Jan 27, 2020

Researchers in Italy analyzed data on the incidence of malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM) between 1970 and 2014 (28,907 deaths were observed) and estimated the future MPM burden to “help to rationally program interventions devoted to the care of MPM patients, remediation of asbestos-contaminated sites, and compensation for occupational MPMs.” During this period, the number of deaths increased constantly but the researchers expect mortality to peak at ~7000 per annum: “The MPM epidemic in Italy is far from being concluded despite the national ban implemented in 1992, and the peak is expected in 2020–2024, in both sexes.” See: Predictions of Mortality from Pleural Mesothelioma in Italy After the Ban of Asbestos Use.
 

US Mesothelioma Treatment

Jan 24, 2020

There are more cases of malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM) diagnosed in the US every year than in any other country. The authors of this paper examined the experience of seven patients and revealed areas where the medical treatment and support they had received had failed to address their physical and psychological needs. Concerns reported by multiple interviewees included: uncertainty about the future, the high symptom burden and the ability to adapt to their changing situation. The authors concluded that: “Timely, coordinated, and personalized care as well as skilled communication should be the cornerstone of care for persons with MPM.” See: The Lived Experience of Persons With Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma in the United States.
 

Asbestos Industrial Legacy

Jan 24, 2020

On January 18, there was a manifestation of community solidarity when students, teachers, parents and citizens joined representatives of asbestos victims’ groups, trade unions and other associations, to unveil a mural aimed at raising awareness of the legacy of asbestos exposures at the Bologna railway repair shops operated by the Officine Grandi Riparazioni Bologna (OGR). The artwork – which consisted of four colorful panels – was created by students from the De Andrè school and was sited in via Casarini, opposite the former OGR plant. To date, 300 deaths from asbestos-related diseases have been recorded amongst workers from the OGR plant. See: GLI Studenti e l’Amianto in OGR [Students and Asbestos in OGR].
 

Asbestos Film Online

Jan 24, 2020

A 42-minute segment of the 70-minute 2018 documentary entitled “Breathless,” which was made by Belgian film-makers, is now available to watch on a youtube site hosted by DW, the German state-owned public international broadcaster. The film shows the devastating consequences for individuals and communities who worked for or were the located near Eternit asbestos factories. The film, which premiered at the International Film Festival in Brussels on the June 24, has also been shown in London, Liverpool, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Jaipur, Coimbatore, Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Kymore and other locations. See: Breathless.
 

Environmental Asbestos Exposure

Jan 24, 2020

Research by scientists investigating the risks posed by environmental asbestos contamination at sites in the Italian town of Bari substantiated the public health hazard posed by the deterioration of asbestos in situ and the uncontrolled removal of asbestos, both of which were found to raise the concentration of asbestos fibers in urban air. The authors concluded that asbestos roofing at a derelict asbestos-cement factory and on military barracks in Bari had contributed to an increased risk of malignant mesothelioma for the resident population. See: Health impact of exposure to asbestos in polluted area of Southern Italy.
 

Victim’s Verdict in Spain

Jan 24, 2020

A Court in Bilboa has ordered two Spanish companies to pay compensation of ~€325,000 (US$ 360,000) to a subcontractor who was exposed to asbestos whilst in their employ and subsequently contracted the asbestos cancer, mesothelioma. The claimant had been a pipefitter who had worked with asbestos insulation products on the construction of the Lemoniz nuclear power plant (1979-81) and at sites owned by Petronor, a Spanish oil and gas company based in the Basque Country. He did not receive protective clothing nor was he warned about the health hazards posed by occupational exposures to asbestos. See: Nueva condena por enfermedad tras uso de amianto [New conviction for illness after use of asbestos].
 

Asbestos in Schools

Jan 24, 2020

On January 22, 2020, the President of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, Jerry Jordan announced that the union was suing the school district over mismanagement of the asbestos, lead and other problems at the city’s schools. The lawsuit asked a judge to allow the union to hire environmental experts to assess the situation alongside district officials and to ensure that periodic testing was undertaken to monitor environmental safety. So far this year, six schools have been closed in Philadelphia due to the discovery of asbestos. Commenting on the failure of the authorities to adequately address the situation, a union lawyer said that: “The school district of Philadelphia is violating the law.” See: ‘We are not crying wolf’: Philly teachers union to sue district over asbestos, other hazards.
 

Asbestos Trial Begins

Jan 24, 2020

The preliminary hearing for Eternit Bis [the name used to refer to litigation against Swiss billionaire Stephen Schmidheiny in the long-running legal battle to get justice for Italian asbestos victims] has begun in the Northern Italian city of Vercelli. Schmidheiny is charged with the voluntary murder of 392 people from the town of Casale Monferrato. During early sessions of the proceedings, Schmidheiny’s defense reasserted their argument that the trial was illegitimate on the “ne bis in idem principle” which restricts the possibility of a defendant being prosecuted repeatedly for the same crime. See: Eternit bis: la difesa chiede l’assoluzione [Eternit bis: the defense asks for absolution].
 

Asbestos: Post-Disaster Hazard

Jan 22, 2020

The Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency of Australia has uploaded a series of information sheets from various States, government agencies and departments aimed at informing people in communities affected by the bushfire crisis how to deal with asbestos in building debris and damaged premises. The problem is both serious and widespread given the deadly consequences to human health of asbestos exposures and the widespread use of asbestos building products throughout Australia. Although asbestos use was banned in 2003, huge numbers of homes, public buildings and business premises still contain asbestos materials. See: Asbestos safety after bushfires.
 

Asbestos: Post-Conflagration Hazard

Jan 22, 2020

A newspaper report on testimony given on January 21, 2020 to the French Senate’s hearings about the 2019 fire at the Lubrizol chemical factory – owned by American billionaire Warren Buffett – featured evidence by scientist André Picot supporting public fears that the fire in Rouen had contaminated local neighborhoods, thereby putting at risk the health of local people as well as firefighters. Picot said: “A rain of asbestos dust fell.” Picot’s views contradicted those of the local authorities who had said that there were no asbestos fibers in the air. See: Incendie de Lubrizol: « Il est retombé une pluie de poussière d’amiante » [Lubrizol fire: “A rain of asbestos dust fell”].
 

Asbestos in Schools

Jan 22, 2020

On Tuesday, January 21, 2020, parents, students and teachers of the Mário de Sá Carneiro School in the Portuguese city of Loures held a public demonstration to highlight the failure of the educational and local authorities to remediate the dangerous and degrading asbestos-containing material which remained in the school. “It is necessary,” said André Julião, of the Schools Without Asbestos Movement, “once and for all, to create a strategic plan for the removal of asbestos from schools and [also necessary to] start investing seriously in updating the premises….” See: Protesto contra amianto em escola de Camarate [Asbestos protest at Camarate school].
 

Eternit Embraces Asbestos-Free Future

Jan 22, 2020

Eternit S.A., formerly Brazil’s largest asbestos conglomerate, is positioning itself as a frontrunner in the campaign for a clean and sustainable environment with its announcement of new photovoltaic roofing tile material – which is asbestos-free. According to the company, this product range is an example of a new corporate orientation to use cutting edge technology to find 21st century solutions to meet the needs of Brazilian citizens. See: Eternit Solar | Programa Cidades e Soluções da GloboNews [Eternit Solar | Globo News Cities and Solutions Program].
 

Occupational Asbestos Exposure Risks

Jan 20, 2020

Data on asbestos-related diseases is extremely limited in Indonesia, a country where asbestos-containing products remain a popular choice for consumers. A collaborative study by Indonesian and international researchers investigated the risk of contracting lung cancer from occupational exposure to asbestos and found a “significant association between the duration of asbestos exposure... and the risk of lung cancer.” The co-authors of this paper also found a “positive additive and multiplicative interaction between smoking and asbestos [exposure]...[and] that the chance of getting lung cancer more than doubled among exposed subjects compared with unexposed subjects.” See: Asbestos-Related Lung Cancer: A Hospital-Based Case-Control Study in Indonesia.
 

Our Hometown: Asbest

Jan 20, 2020

A Russian website has translated and uploaded a Danish article analysing the attraction of living in the Russian town of Asbest (Asbestos). Despite the fact that asbestos is a carcinogen responsible for thousands of deaths every year, local people still have strong ties to the city and a desire to follow family members into the asbestos industry. The reporter quoted spokesmen who said the city was a “victim of the hysterical anti-asbestos lobby… In Asbest, it is widely believed that the asbestos ban is part of an international conspiracy invented in Europe to give an advantage to the production of other materials competing with asbestos.” See: Jyllands-Posten (Дания): здесь люди живут благодаря асбесту [Jyllands-Posten (Denmark): people live here thanks to asbestos].
 

Toxic Talc

Jan 20, 2020

Advice from an expert panel convened by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have, according to one legal expert: “shot several of J&J’s (Johnson & Johnson’s) defenses out of the water.” The panel endorsed asbestos testing standards for cosmetics that recommended that small mineral particles found in talc should be counted as potentially harmful, even if they were not asbestos, on the grounds that both were suspected of causing similar pathological reactions. The new recommendations will be discussed in February at the first FDA hearing on analytical methods for testing asbestos in cosmetics and talc since 1971. See: Government experts urge new talc testing standards amid asbestos worries.
 

Asbestos Compensation Scheme

Jan 20, 2020

With 40,000 asbestos deaths in Spain to date, people living with these diseases have routinely been denied compensation via a hostile legal climate. Calls by a number of groups representing the victims have highlighted the vacuum which exists and demanded that a national compensation scheme be established to expedite compensation for the injured, many of whom were routinely exposed to asbestos at work by companies such as Uralita, formerly Spain’s largest asbestos-cement manufacturer. It has been estimated that 1,900 people die from asbestos-related diseases in Spain every year. See: Las víctimas del amianto luchan contra la burocracia que frena sus compensaciones [Asbestos victims fight the bureaucracy that stops their compensation].
 

Russian Cancer Epidemic

Jan 17, 2020

An article uploaded to the website of the Moscow Post on January 14, 2020, highlighted the deplorable living and working conditions for the population of the Russian asbestos mining town “Asbestos,” saying: “there are no healthy children in the city… [and], there are a lot of cancer patients.” In 2012, the cancer incidence in the city at 493 cases per 100,000 people was the highest in the Sverdlovsk Region; in 2015, this figure had risen to 572 and there was a mortality rate of 292 cases per 100,000 – the average regional rate was 218. See: “Дорожная карта” Шмотьева в “обход” закона? [“Shmotiev's Roadmap” to “circumvent” the law?].
 

Asbestos in Children’s Products

Jan 17, 2020

A laboratory analysis of eye shadow contained in a children’s make-up kit sold under the brand name Princess Girl’s All-in-One Deluxe Makeup Palette found more than 4 million asbestos fiber structures per gram. The tests were commissioned by the Washington D.C. based non-profit organization: Environmental Working Group (EWG). Commenting on these findings, an EWG spokesperson called on all US retailers including online outlets to recall these products and said: “Taking steps to safeguard children from exposure to one of the deadliest carcinogens in the world should always come before profits.” See: Alert: Tests Find High Levels of Asbestos in Children’s Makeup Kits.
 

Asbestos Workplace Hazard

Jan 17, 2020

Tests conducted on 148 workers, former and retired workers from a factory in Bogotá, Colombia which used chrysotile asbestos in the manufacture of friction products, revealed that 19 had changes in their X-rays consistent with exposure to asbestos; in most of those examined, pulmonary function had not altered. Most of the workers who developed disease did so within 20 years of their first exposure. The researchers concluded that asbestos disease was “clearly present among Colombian factory workers…” See: Radiographic Changes in Colombian Asbestos Factory Workers.
 

Asbestos in Schools

Jan 17, 2020

A citizens’ lobbying group – Movimento Escolas Sem Amianto (MESA) [Schools Without Asbestos] – set up in Portugal at the end of 2019 has identified 102 schools contaminated with asbestos. The group is calling for action to protect the health of both students and staff as part of a phased program which (1) prioritizes work on friable or degrading asbestos-containing products and (2) is accomplished through the use of state-of-the-art equipment and according to the highest safety protocols. Complaints made by MESA to the General Directorate of School Establishments have, to date, received no response. See: 102 schools with asbestos structures documented.
 

Bushfire Crisis & Asbestos

Jan 16, 2020

This week Australia’s Master Builders Association (MBA) raised concerns about the threat posed by asbestos liberated by bushfires in New South Wales and Victoria with Prime Minister Scott Morrison during round-table discussions. MBA’s main preoccupation was ensuring that people were provided with appropriate safety information in order to minimize hazardous exposures during clean-up operations. MBA chief executive Denita Wawn said: “Our concern is making sure that if people are doing their own clearing, they are taking appropriate asbestos safety precautions [and]… that people in those locations are made aware of those risks when they start to do their site clearance.” See: Bushfires: communities face asbestos threat as clean-up begins.
 

Nakuru City to Remove Asbestos Roofs

Jan 16, 2020

Local authorities in Nakuru – a major city in Kenya, northwest of Nairobi – have begun a remediation program to remove asbestos roofing due to concerns over the hazard it posed to public health. At a recent press conference, County Public Health Officer Samuel King’ori reaffirmed the risk of asbestos exposures and announced that work would be undertaken first on public buildings such as hospitals and afterwards on residential buildings. King’ori confirmed that material removed would be treated as hazardous and be dealt with according to guidelines set by the National Environmental Management Authority. See: Nakuru County Set To Get Rid Of Asbestos Roofs.
 

Asbestos Charity Faces Funding Crisis

Jan 13, 2020

Glasgow City Council has turned down an application from the renowned charity Action on Asbestos – formerly called Clydeside Action on Asbestos – due to an administrative error. Once this mistake was spotted, the charity sent the appropriate document to the Council and resubmitted the application but by then the decision had been made. The £50,000 grant which had been awarded in previous years had been the only source of public funding for this organization which had supported asbestos victims not only in Glasgow but throughout Scotland for over thirty years. See: Glasgow asbestos charity fears for future after council refuses to consider its funding application.
 

Behind Closed Doors

Jan 10, 2020

The Supreme Court of Brazil (STF) has announced that it will issue a decision regarding the constitutionality of a law adopted by the State of Goiás which, contrary to a STF 2017 ruling banning asbestos, allowed asbestos to be mined, processed, sold and exported from the SAMA chrysotile asbestos mine in Goiás. Despite the life and death issues involved, the STF’s Minister Alexandre de Moraes has scheduled proceedings to be virtual with no oral submissions. The decision of the court will not be announced in public but will be available only once the decision is published. See: vai julgar virtualmente lei goiana para proteger indústria [STF will judge Goiás law virtually to protect asbestos industry].
 

Asbestos Outreach Workshop

Jan 10, 2020

On January 8, 2020 a workshop entitled “The Environment and Health: Toxicity of Chrysotile (Asbestos) in Fibro Cement Roofing” was held at the Institute of Natural Resources, Environment and Community Development in Hanoi. The objective of this event was to provide updated and independent information regarding the hazard posed by the use of asbestos – a substance not yet banned in Vietnam – to inform the national asbestos dialogue and help progress ongoing efforts to implement a national asbestos ban. Although Vietnam has developed a roadmap to cease asbestos use by 2023, lobbyists are trying to derail efforts to protect the population from avoidable toxic exposures. See: Bàn giải pháp ngừng sử dụng Amiăng trắng ở Việt Nam [Table of solutions to stop using chrysotile in Vietnam].
 

Asbestos Odyssey in India

Jan 10, 2020

An online article describes the decades-long campaign by activist Raghunath Manwar to support workers in India, in particular those injured by occupational exposures to asbestos. Through his work establishing the NGO Occupational Health and Safety Association, the septuagenarian raised awareness regarding exposure to workplace toxins and assisted those affected to claim compensation and access medical care. In this quest for justice, Manwar confronted government bodies, powerful corporations and vested interests pursuing restitution via the courts as well as media outlets. See: Asbestos Poisoning: Raghunath Manwar’s Fight for Safer Work Conditions.
 

Searching for an Asbestos-free future

Jan 10, 2020

On January 9, 2020, a public meeting organized by a municipal council took place to consider proposals to change the name of an infamous mining town which has, for decades, been known by the name of the substance it produced: “Asbestos.” According to an article published this week, even Bernard Coulombe – who had worked at the Jeffrey Asbestos Mine for 40+ years and was extremely vocal in the pro-asbestos lobby – has accepted the need to change the town’s name to build a more positive future for residents. See: Asbestos: assemblée publique jeudi soir sur le changement de nom de la ville [Asbestos: public meeting Thursday evening on the name change of the city].
 

Corporate Betrayal of Workers

Jan 10, 2020

The text referenced below is a commentary on recent revelations regarding the corruption of medical ethics by people employed by or with links to the Brazilian asbestos mining company SAMA, a subsidiary of the Eternit Group. The author highlights how SAMA doctors discredited reports from independent doctors who had diagnosed SAMA workers with asbestos-related diseases. Controversial practices of SAMA medical board members – physicians Mario Terra Filho, Luiz Eduardo Nery and Ericson Bagatin – were also discussed including the board’s nearly universal failure to accept asbestos exposure as the cause of any occupational illness. See: O que a indústria do amianto tenta esconder [What the asbestos industry tries to hide].
 

Calls for National Compensation Scheme

Jan 10, 2020

On January 6, 2020, members of asbestos victims’ associations from Bilbao, Valencia and Catalonia held a public rally in Bilbao calling for the establishment of a Spanish asbestos compensation scheme. Current procedures, which involved protracted legal battles for dying victims, were shameful said spokesperson José Luis Gómez Gomez, Vice President of the Association of Asbestos Victims of Catalonia. The campaigners cited the national compensation funds in France, Belgium and the Netherlands as examples which Spain could follow. See: Las víctimas del amianto reclaman una ley contra el ‘genocidio laboral’ [Asbestos victims call for a law against ‘labor genocide’].
 

Company Doctors Accused

Jan 7, 2019

An exposé of medical doctors and researchers linked to the Brazilian asbestos mining company SAMA, a subsidiary of the Eternit Group, detailed a litany of wrongdoings including: incorrect diagnoses, malpractice and biased research. According to the article, the accused’s objectives were to bolster the official position of SAMA which denied that occupational or environmental exposure to asbestos could cause disease. Illnesses contracted by SAMA workers were routinely found to be caused by smoking or drinking and not be exposure to asbestos; the results of medical tests provided by SAMA were retained by the company. See: Doutores da Morte [Doctors of Death].
 

Asbestos in Public Buildings

Jan 7, 2020

The commitment of the Portuguese government to remediate asbestos from 134 priority 1 public buildings was disputed by Congressman Nelson Peralta in his questioning of Minister Mário Centeno, Portugal’s Minister of Finance, whose ministry is now responsible for ensuring that schools, hospitals and other public buildings were decontaminated. This brief had previously been the responsibility of the Ministry of the Environment and Peralta questioned the reasons for the change: “There is concern that the priority and urgency of the resolution will be budgetary criteria and not public health criteria,” the Congressman asserted. See: BE questiona Ministro das Finanças sobre remoção de amianto em edifícios públicos [BE questions Finance Minister about asbestos removal in public buildings].
 

National Asbestos Compensation Fund

Jan 7, 2020

Data substantiating an asbestos epidemic in Spain have led to calls for the Spanish Government to progress legislation – approved in 2017 – to create a national fund to compensate victims of asbestos-related diseases. A study by the Basque Institute of Occupational Health and Safety predicted that there would be a thousand individuals annually contracting illnesses, including debilitating as well as fatal diseases, as a result of asbestos exposures in the coming years. Currently, access to compensation for these diseases can only be obtained as a result of protracted litigation. See: El amianto se cobra la vida de 30 trabajadores en 2019 [Asbestos takes the lives of 30 workers in 2019].
 

New Year, Old Lies

Jan 6, 2020

One of the top features on a Russian website on January 5, rehashed propaganda supporting the continued use of chrysotile (white) asbestos, asserting that despite being banned in 63 countries, asbestos could be safely used under controlled conditions. Asbestos was, the author asserted, Donald Trump's “favorite stone” and “the current US President… actively advocates for its defense.” Citing multiple examples of historical asbestos use, the author noted that “mass hysteria” in America over asbestos had been a gold mine for lawyers and asbestos removal firms even though “Russian scientists unanimously reiterate that, subject to safety measures, asbestos is an extremely useful mineral.” See: ЛЮБИМЫЙ КАМЕНЬ ДОНАЛЬДА ТРАМПА [Donald Trump's favorite stone].
 

Asbestos Outlawed in Schools

Jan 6, 2020

According to the Kerala State Commission for Protection of Child Rights no building in which children study including madrasas, religious schools, private and state schools should have asbestos roofs. Should they have this type of roofing, local self-government departments had been told not to refuse to issue licences or building numbers and to take action against them under the Kerala Panchayat Raj Act and the Kerala Municipalities Act. The Commission’s recommendations were made in response to a case regarding an asbestos roof at a madrasa. The school authorities had been given 45 days to complete the removal and replacement of the toxic roofing. See: No asbestos roof for places where children study: panel.
 

Toxic Talc

Jan 6, 2020

On January 2, 2020, a lawsuit was announced by Hector Balderas, the attorney general of New Mexico, against Johnson & Johnson (J&J) which alleged that J&J targeted minority women and children despite being aware of the risks posed by asbestos contamination of its baby powder and other talc-based products. According to Balderas, J&J: “concealed and failed to warn consumers about the dangers associated with their talc products.” In a J&J statement, the company said it was reviewing the lawsuit and would “continue to defend the safety of Johnson’s Baby Powder, which is supported by decades of scientific evidence showing our talc is safe and free of asbestos.” See: Johnson & Johnson Sued Over Baby Powder by New Mexico.
 

Asbestos at the Olympics

Jan 6, 2020

News that asbestos contamination had been found at the Tatsumi Water Polo Center – a venue which will be used for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics – was widely reported throughout the last week of 2019. Although the asbestos problem had been identified in 2017, the building’s owners, the Tokyo Metropolitan government, had failed to take remedial action, claiming that “there was a low degree of danger.” On December 25, however, it was announced that the situation would be addressed in order to prevent environmental contamination that might endanger spectators. See: Tokyo officials finally tackle asbestos hazard at Olympic venue.
 

Asbestos Alert!

Jan 6, 2020

An article on a website in Kazakhstan – the world’s second largest exporter of chrysotile (white) asbestos – which was uploaded on December 30, 2019 highlighted the human health risks posed by exposure to asbestos-containing products such as roofing material popular throughout the country; a picture of asbestos roofing illustrated the feature. The article quoted a leading Russian oncologist who had recently spoken out about the proven link between lung cancer and asbestos exposure. See: Вещь, которая есть в каждом доме и вызывает рак [The thing that is in every home and causes cancer].
 

Asbestos Hazard

Jan 6, 2020

According to Turkey’s Chamber of Geological Engineers, exposure to asbestos poses a serious risk to public health despite the introduction of the 2010 asbestos ban. The hazard comes not only from asbestos products within the infrastructure but also from the new use of contaminated material in the construction, textile, aviation and automotive sectors. The uncontrolled demolition of asbestos-containing buildings has exacerbated the problem with one expert warning: “Many residential areas are built on asbestos soil, tens of thousands of people are still in contact with asbestos and we will see more cancer cases in years to come for as long as this continues.” See: Asbestos continues to threaten public health in Turkey.
 

Asian Development Bank

Dec 19, 2019

One of the most important financial providers in the Pacific region – the Asian Development Bank (ADB) – has been criticized by trade union campaigners for endangering public and occupational health by its failure to ban the use of asbestos-containing products for the projects it finances. The ADB’s Prohibited Investment Activities Policy allows ADB project contractors to use materials that contain asbestos – such as asbestos sheeting – even though the policy has a clause stating: “the production, trade and use of raw asbestos is prohibited.” See: Asian Development Bank called out for asbestos use in Pacific projects.
 

Asbestos in Schools

Dec 19, 2019

On December 19, the European Commission will receive a complaint from the Federação Nacional dos Professores (the Teachers Federation of Portugal) which is supported by groups including environmental associations and the Asbestos-Free Schools Movement regarding the “inaction,” “the lack of rigor and interest of the Portuguese State in this public health problem” and “errors in the transposition of the Community norms (2009 directive) in relation to the hazard posed by asbestos contamination of Portuguese schools and other public building. See: Amianto nas escolas: Comissão Europeia recebe queixa da Fenprof esta quinta-feira [Asbestos in schools: European Commission receives complaint from Fenprof this Thursday].
 

Asbestos Update: São Paulo

Dec 19, 2019

The Brazilian Association of the Asbestos-Exposed (ABREA), which collaborated with healthcare and medical partners on a remarkable initiative in Minas Gerais (see: Landmark Asbestos Initiative in Brazil) in September 2019, this week visited the Barretos Cancer Hospital in São Paulo State to learn about diagnostic protocols and treatment options for asbestos cancer patients and to talk to staff about the results of medical tests performed on former asbestos workers from the Precon company in Minas Gerais. See: Abrea visita Hospital do Câncer de Barretos [ABREA visits the Barretos Cancer Hospital].
 

Asbestos Cancer in Argentina

Dec 19, 2019

Researchers undertook a study of 40 individuals in Argentina who had been diagnosed with the asbestos cancer, mesothelioma in 2013 and 2014 to identify the sources and types of asbestos exposures they had experienced. Their findings included the following: the average age of the patients was 66 years; 55% of the cohort was male; toxic exposures were: 57.5% environmental, 60% domestic and 37% occupational; 7.5% of the cohort denied all asbestos exposure; more than half the male patients had experienced workplace exposures. See: Exposición al asbesto en casos de mesotelioma pleural en la República Argentina [Asbestos exposure in cases of pleural mesothelioma in the Argentine Republic].
 

J’Accuse!

Dec 17, 2019

In a December 13 ruling, the Marseille administrative Court of Appeal recognized the negligence of the State for failing to mandate adequate controls, as a result of which a shipyard employee had developed anxiety over workplace asbestos exposure. The plaintiff, who received damages of €4,000, had worked at the Ciotat shipyard from 1964 to 1987. In the verdict, the court noted: “The employees of the Normed company remained exposed for the period 1969-1980 to asbestos dust without benefiting from suitable protections or receiving information concerning the dangers of this material.” See: Amiante: l'Etat reconnu coupable pour absence de contrôle d'un chantier naval [Asbestos: the French State found guilty for lack of control of a shipyard].
 

University’s Asbestos Legacy

Dec 17, 2019

The failure of the University of Montreal (UoM) to protect employees from occupational exposures to asbestos has been blamed by Joël Corbin-Charland, the son of a deceased UoM programmer, for the death of his parent from mesothelioma, aged 73. According to him, the University has delivered a skewed version of the facts in its public statements, claiming it had taken the issue of asbestos “very seriously for several years.” In fact, the UoM’s policy on asbestos was adopted in 1998. Two other former UoM employees have also developed mesothelioma. See: Possible exposition à l'amiante: d’ex-employés de l'UdeM s'inquiètent pour leur santé [Possible exposure to asbestos: former UdeM employees worry about their health].
 

Bahia Asbestos Training Initiative

Dec 17, 2019

The latest initiative by experts from Southwest Bahia State University (UESB) to address the hazards posed by the asbestos legacy in the Brazilian cities of Bom Jesus da Serra and Poções was a collaborative effort with AVICAFE (the Association of Asbestos-Contaminated Victims and Exposed Families) and partnering organizations. The program included training in São Paulo for Bahia doctors in spirometry, pulmonary function and other clinical tests for individuals at high risk of contracting asbestos-related diseases. Spirometry equipment was donated to the UESB to facilitate testing of asbestos-exposed people in Bahia. See: A UESB inicia pesquisa em Bom Jesus da Serra [UESB begins research in Bom Jesus da Serra.].
 

Eradicating the Asbestos Hazard

Dec 17, 2019

The Government of Portugal has made provision in its draft budget for 2020 for measures to progress the eradication of asbestos from the national infrastructure, by providing up to 100% of the costs for asbestos removal work in the 134 public buildings classified as Priority 1; many schools are included in this category. Remediation of Priority 2 buildings could be 80% funded while decontamination work of Priority 3 structures could qualify for up to 70% of financing. See: Remoção de amianto pode ser financiada até 100 por cento [Asbestos Removal Can Be Funded Up To 100 Percent].
 

Asbestos in Metro: Workers Rally

Dec 17, 2019

On December 16, the committee representing workers from the Madrid Metro company convened a public rally in Plaza de Castilla – in front of the Madrid Court – to demand solutions to the “serious problem” of asbestos in the Madrid subway system. As of now, four cases of asbestos-related diseases have been registered by workers from this company which were allegedly caused by workplace exposures to asbestos; two of the claimants have died. See: Comité de Metro Madrid convoca concentración para pedir solución al Amianto [Metro Madrid Committee summons concentration to request asbestos solution].
 

Asbestos Documentary: Top Prize

Dec 16, 2019

Last weekend, a documentary entitled: “Chrysotile causes cancer in humans” by VTV 1 – the first channel launched by Vietnam Television in 1970 – won the top award at the government backed 39th National Film and TV Awards for best TV/Film documentary. The film featured interviews with ban asbestos campaigners including leaders of the Vietnam Ban Asbestos Network as well as as with asbestos industry representatives. Following the broadcast, film-maker Mr Pham Xuan Hung had been attacked by the industry lobby which is pressurizing the government to forestall planned action on the asbestos hazard. See: Phim tài liệu khoa học: Amiang trắng và sự lựa chọn [Scientific documentary: White asbestos and the choice].
 

Building Medical Capacity

Dec 16, 2019

International partners working with local institutions in Fiji held a medical workshop on asbestos-related diseases (ARDs) on December 2 & 3, 2019 at Fiji National University. The training sessions were delivered by the Asbestos Diseases Research Institute (ADRI) in association with the World Health Organization (WHO), Country Office of Fiji. The objective of this event was to improve the diagnosis and management of ARDs and to promote the implementation of a Fiji roadmap for the elimination of asbestos and ARD. See: Training Workshop on the Diagnosis of Asbestos-related Diseases (ARD’s) – Suva, Fiji 2-3 December 2019 and In-depth training session on pathological diagnosis of Mesothelioma.
 

MoD Asbestos Scandal

Dec 16, 2019

The British trade union “Unite” issued a strong condemnation of negligence by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) which resulted in thousands of civilian staff and members of the military being exposed to asbestos contained in parts used in Sea King helicopters and elsewhere throughout the MoD. In correspondence to Unite, the defence minister Annabel Goldie wrote: “Regrettably, this work exposed failings beyond Sea King, and it is now clear that ACM (asbestos-containing materials) have not been properly identified and tracked across a range of equipment platforms.” See: MoD faces criticism as it admits widespread asbestos failings.
 

Toxic Legacy: Asbestos Roadways

Dec 16, 2019

On December 20, a Quebec public hearing on asbestos was told that the Quebec Department of Transport had, between 1988 and 2011, laid more than 1.3 million tonnes of roadway containing asbestos. Because of mandatory environmental and health measures for dealing with this product, the removal of the affected bitumen would cost up to 60 times more than conventional bitumen. More than 1,000 km of national roads and highways still contain asbestos, especially in Chaudière-Appalaches and in the Eastern Townships. See: BAPE: le coût faramineux des routes d'amiante [BAPE: the staggering cost of asbestos roads].
 

Chrysotile Asbestos: Killer Fiber

Dec 16, 2019

A feature article commenting on a report by Reuters into the toxic talc scandal over asbestos found in Johnson & Johnson baby powder included statements from Vietnamese experts indicting all asbestos, including chrysotile (white) asbestos, as carcinogenic. The experts interviewed were Assoc. Prof. Dr. Tran Hong Con from Hanoi University of Natural Sciences and Prof. Dr. Nguyen Ba Duc, former Director of K Hospital, Vice Chairman of the Vietnam Cancer Society, who highlighted the hazard posed by the continuing use of asbestos-containing roofing sheets in Vietnam. See: Amiăng thuộc nhóm một các chất gây ung thư cho người [Asbestos belongs to a group of carcinogens for humans].
 

Addressing Brazil’s Mining Legacy

Dec 12, 2019

A fact-finding mission to Bom Jesus da Serra in the Brazilian State of Bahia was undertaken by personnel from the UESB medical school as part of an initiative to address the consequences of living in a former asbestos mining area. According to co-organizer UESB Professor Thaís Brito, the effectiveness of the program is reliant on efforts with partnering institutions including: the Heart Institute, the University of São Paulo School of Medicine Hospital das Clínicas and groups such as: the Brazilian Association of the Asbestos Exposed (ABREA) and the Association of Asbestos-Contaminated Victims and Exposed Families. See: Uesb traça estratégias de enfrentamento à exposição ao Amianto [UESB outlines strategies for coping with asbestos exposure].
 

Asbestos in the Subway

Dec 12, 2019

Spain’s National Institute of Social Security (INSS) has for the first time recognized a case of occupational disease due to exposure to asbestos of a retired worker now suffering from lung cancer who had been employed for 32 years by the Barcelona Metro company. The claimant had worked in the subway tunnels without any protection whilst he drilled asbestos-containing sheeting; this is one of 8 pending INSS cases for occupational asbestos exposures against this company. It was only in 2018, that the Barcelona Metro admitted that asbestos had been present in the subway system. See: Primer caso reconocido de enfermedad por el amianto en el metro de Barcelona [First recognized case of asbestos disease in the Barcelona metro].
 

Brazil’s Illegal Asbestos Shipments

Dec 11, 2019

Despite a national ban on asbestos, trucks carrying asbestos fiber have been leaving a Brazilian mine in Minaçu, North Goiás since December 6, 2019 destined for the port of Belém do Pará, 1645 kilometers away. According Fernanda Giannasi, co-founder of the Brazilian Association of Asbestos Exposed, the mining and transport companies are flouting Brazilian law. “The resumption of the asbestos trade,” she said, “is an affront to the country's Supreme Court and a threat to the health and life of the Brazilian population.” See: Fernanda Giannasi: Mineradora Sama e transportadoras insistem em afrontar o STF que baniu o amianto no Brasil [Fernanda Giannasi: Mining company and transporters insist on flouting STF asbestos ban].
 

Mesothelioma Hotspots

Dec 11, 2019

Researchers have confirmed the deadly health consequences for people in Lombardy Province of exposure to asbestos liberated during the manufacturing operations of an Italian factory producing asbestos-cement building materials. The plant in question was located in Pavia and was owned by the Fibronit company; it was operational between 1932 and 1993. Research has established that the incidence of malignant mesothelioma was elevated in Broni and Stradella in former workers, their families, and members of the public. See: Impact of an asbestos cement factory on mesothelioma incidence in a community in Italy.
 

Asbestos Hot Potato

Dec 11, 2019

A response was received on November 20, 2019 from Deputy Admiral Chief of Staff Eduardo Machado Vazquez to a letter sent on September 26, 2019 by an international consortium of NGOs which raised concerns regarding the proposed public auction of the aircraft carrier São Paulo. Nothing written in the two-page response from Vazquez precluded the sale of the São Paulo to a ship-breaking company which would scrap the vessel at a South Asian beaching yard where health and safety regulations were non-existent and exposures to toxic chemicals, including asbestos, routine. See: Letter from Deputy Admiral Chief of Staff Eduardo Machado Vazquez (in Portuguese).
 

Criminal Case Launched

Dec 11, 2019

On November 15, 2019, the first criminal complaint in the Netherlands against the asbestos company Eternit was begun. The action, which was brought by the Asbestos Victims Committee (CAS) and six surviving relatives of asbestos victims, alleged that the company had been guilty of manslaughter as it had been aware since 1960 of the health risks posed by asbestos exposures and yet had done nothing to protect employees from the hazards. Despite this knowledge, the company continued to produce asbestos products and lobbied to prevent an asbestos ban being implemented in the Netherlands. See: Comité Asbestslachtoffers doet aangifte tegen Eternit [Asbestos Victims Committee reports Eternit].
 

Outreach Asbestos Initiative

Dec 10, 2019

On December 2 and 3, 2019, a workshop on asbestos-related diseases was held in Suva, the capital of Fiji, by the College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences, Fiji National University in collaboration with Australia’s Asbestos Diseases Research Institute (ADRI) and the Fiji office of the World Health Organization. The objective of this event was to share medical expertise in order to build local capacity to detect, diagnose and treat cases of asbestos-related disease in Fiji. On the agenda were presentations on: clinical treatment, victim support, epidemiology, pathological diagnosis, radiology, medicine, molecular biology, public health and nursing. See: Training Workshop on the Diagnosis of Asbestos-related Diseases (ARD’s) – Suva, Fiji 2-3 December 2019.
 

Asbestos Raid

Dec 10, 2019

The authorities in the United Arab Emirate of Ras Al Khaumah (RAK) launched a campaign on December 8, 2019 to outlaw and confiscate all tea and coffee flasks in retail outlets and markets that contained asbestos following similar action taken in Dubai by the Department of Economic Development. Commenting on this initiative Dr Abdulrahman Alshayeb Alnaqbi, director-general of the RAK department of economic development, said: “These flasks pose a grave risk to people's health.” Similar steps were taken in RAK in July 2019 when: “Large amounts of such flasks were seized and later destroyed.” See: RAK to seize tea, coffee flasks made of asbestos.
 

Asbestos Concerns in Quebec

Dec 10, 2019

During the week ending December 6, 2019, two of the eight hearings scheduled by the BAPE Asbestos Inquiry Commission in Quebec were attended by hundreds of local people, politicians and experts from the former asbestos mining towns of Asbestos and Thetford Mines, Quebec. The main issue on the agenda was whether the 800 million tonnes of asbestos waste from decades of mining operations could be commercially exploited without endangering the health of workers and local people. The final report on the consultations is due out in July 2020. See: Despite health and safety risks, many in Asbestos and Thetford Mines want asbestos waste repurposed.
 

Legal Victory for Victims

Dec 10, 2019

On November 11, 2019, the Fukuoka High Court ordered the government and 4 construction material manufacturers to pay compensation of ¥350 million (~US$3.22m) to former construction workers and bereaved relatives from the Kyushu region for health problems caused by occupational exposures to asbestos. Judge Noriyuki Yamanouchi ruled that the government and the four companies had negligently failed to implement measures to protect workers’ safety. In addition, the judge upheld actions brought by self-employed contractors and ordered the government to compensate 27 of the 28 claimants and the companies to compensate 26. See: Fukuoka court orders Japan and firms to pay ¥350 million for health problems due to asbestos.
 

Asbestos Legal Landmark

Dec 10, 2019

At the beginning of November, 2019 a landmark ruling was handed down by the Provincial Court of Madrid which recognized the right to receive compensation for injuries caused by exposure to asbestos brought home on the work clothes of family members. The 14 plaintiffs, who were from Cerdanyola del Vallès and Ripollet, Catalonia, or surviving family members were awarded €3.5 million (~US$3.9m) for contracting asbestos diseases due to the negligence of Uralita. This is the largest sum awarded against Uralita by any Spanish court. See: Uralita deberá indemnizar con 3,5 millones a 14 vecinos de Cerdanyola y Ripollet [Uralita must compensate with 3.5 million 14 residents of Cerdanyola and Ripollet].
 

Toxic Talc

Dec 9, 2019

A Reuter’s exposé detailed the ties between US officials and executives from talc-using companies. The article focused on an invitation-only 2018 meeting organized by the Federal Drugs Administration (FDA), entitled: “Asbestos in Talc Symposium”, which was addressed by industry experts and attended by industry personnel; requests to attend from non-industry personnel such as medical expert Dr. David Egilman, were rejected. For decades, the FDA – advised by the industry – had refused to test talc-containing products for asbestos. Finally, the FDA acted in 2019 as a result of which 33,000 containers of Johnson & Johnson baby powder were recalled. See: FDA bowed to industry for decades as alarms were sounded over talc.
 

Asbestos Hearing

Dec 9, 2019

On December 4, 2019, a public hearing on asbestos was held by the Health and Environment Commission of the Brazilian State of Rio Grande do Sul to consider the toxic legacy of asbestos mining and use in Brazil. Experts who gave evidence to the meeting convened by Deputy Valdeci Oliveira included: Dr. Carlos Nunes, Adair da Rocha, President of the Rio Grande do Sul section of the Brazilian Association of Asbestos-exposed (ABREA), Eliezer João de Souza, ABREA President, Fernanda Giannasi, ABREA co-founder and technical advisor, and Aline Brasil from the Public Prosecutor's Office. See: Audiência pública discute danos à saúde ainda causados pelo Amianto [Public hearing discusses asbestos-related health damage].
 

Asbestos Hazard in Russia

Dec 9, 2019

An article in an online Russian language newspaper based in Riga, Latvia discussed the causes of lung cancer which was, the author pointed out, the most common malignancy amongst Russian males. According to the text, exposure to asbestos experienced either at work or environmentally could elevate the risk to smokers and warned that protective measures should be taken such as using respirators and wearing specialist clothing and that state-of-the-art protections should be adopted to ensure proper disposal of asbestos-containing waste. See: Важные вопросы о раке легкого [Important questions about lung cancer].
 

Congressional Ban Asbestos Bill

Dec 8, 2019

Draft legislation to ban the use of asbestos in most construction applications was tabled in the Philippines House of Representatives by Rep. Raymond C. Mendoza. The purpose of House Bill No. 2636, which would – if it succeeded – become the Ban Asbestos Act of 2019, was to protect shipbuilders, construction workers, plumbers, electricians, auto workers and others from deadly workplace exposures to asbestos. The bill would authorize the Department of Health and members of an inter-agency council to propose regulations prohibiting asbestos imports, manufacturing, processing, use, or distribution for commercial purposes. See: Party-list legislator proposes asbestos ban in construction.
 

Asbestos Rebrand!

Dec 8, 2019

Authorities in the former asbestos mining town of Asbestos, Quebec have belatedly accepted that the economic prospects of the town would be brighter once the burden of its name had been lifted. Mayor Hugues Grimard admitted that the town had “lost businesses that don’t want to establish themselves here because of the name.” Exchanges on facebook showed both support for the name change and anger at the idea of abandoning the name due to its adverse connotation to English-speaking Canadians. Public meetings to explore the options and vote on a new course will take place in January 2020. See: Identity crisis: Canadian town of Asbestos pins hopes on name change.
 

Asbestos in School

Dec 8, 2019

Lea DiRusso, a Philadelphia teacher, announced plans to initiate a lawsuit over occupational exposure to asbestos which, she alleged, caused her mesothelioma. The 51 year-old was diagnosed with the fatal asbestos cancer in August, 2019; she had worked in the same school district for 30 years. Commenting on the lack of transparency regarding the asbestos contamination of her school, Ms. DiRusso said: “I was completely unaware, as are my colleagues and staff and students, that there even was asbestos present in the school building. I did not know the steam pipes behind me were wrapped in asbestos and I touched them.” See: Asbestos in Schools: Philadelphia teacher plans to sue district after cancer diagnosis….
 

Incubating an Asbestos Epidemic

Dec 8, 2019

A detailed exposé regarding widespread asbestos contamination in Indonesia, which was published by an Australian network in November 2019, pointed out that Indonesia was the world’s second biggest asbestos importer and that up to 10% of the country’s buildings contained asbestos. Citing data from international agencies including the World Health Organization, the piece concluded that the ubiquity and continuing use of asbestos in the country boded ill for future generations who could see deadly epidemics of cancer and respiratory diseases develop due to toxic workplace and environmental exposures. See: White asbestos lines many Indonesian buildings and health experts fear a coming cancer ‘explosion’.
 

Asbestos Fund Raiser!

Dec 8, 2019

The Asbestos Diseases Society of Australia (ADSA) 2019 Walk for (asbestos) Research and Awareness took place during November 10-15; dozens of sponsored participants covered the 300+ kilometres from Augusta to Perth during the week with all the monies raised going to fund Dr. Melvin Wee Loong Chin’s ADSA PhD scholarship in mesothelioma. An interim cheque for $60,000 was presented to Dr. Chin at the December 1 ADSA picnic at Whiteman Park, Perth, Western Australia. This was the eighth annual ADSA walk, with treks previously undertaken starting out in Kalgoorlie, Dunsborough, Pemberton, Albany, Geraldton, Merredin and Wave Rock. See: Asbestos Diseases Society of Australia Walk for Research and Awareness.
 

Asbestos Hazard in Russia

Oct 23, 2019

For decades, a stranglehold has existed regarding the dangers posed by asbestos exposures in Russia, the world’s largest producer of white asbestos. A Russian article just published quoted a leading Russian health and safety expert as follows: “Three substances from the list of the World Health Organization (WHO), such as asbestos, lead and mercury, should be considered the most dangerous for Russians… According to the WHO, all types of asbestos cause lung cancer, mesothelioma, laryngeal cancer, ovarian cancer and pulmonary fibrosis. However, asbestos can be found everywhere in Russia.” See: Эксперт назвала самые опасные химические загрязнители для россиян [The expert named the most dangerous chemical pollutants for the Russians].
 

Toxic Ship

Oct 23, 2019

It has been reported that the Portuguese cruise ship MV Funchal bought at auction in December 2018 by a UK company called Signature Living (see: Asbestos Vessel Cruising to london?) is now being towed to Liverpool. At the time of the sale, it was believed that the ship contained about 100 tons of asbestos, including products containing chrysotile, amosite and tremolite fibers, in friable condition. It is unknown whether the asbestos has been removed. According to a facebook upload, the company plans to refurbish the ship for use as a hotel in the UK. See: MV Funchal.
 

India’s Asbestos Curse

Oct 23, 2019

A paper published by Indian medical practitioners highlighted the ongoing epidemic of asbestos-related diseases in India and predicted that in decades to come – because of the current use of 350,000 tonnes of asbestos per year in India – there could be thousands of deaths per year from just one asbestos cancer – mesothelioma – with tens of thousands of additional fatalities from other asbestos-related illnesses. The authors stated: “In the near future, there will be at least 12.5 million ARD [asbestos-related disease] patients and 1.25 million asbestos-related cancer patients worldwide, and half of these will be in India.” See: Current Asbestos Exposure and Future Need for Palliative Care in India.
 

Toxic Talc Withdrawn

Oct 21, 2019

It was announced last week that Johnson & Johnson, a company facing thousands of US lawsuits over asbestos contamination of their iconic baby powder, had withdrawn 33,000 bottles of the product from sale in the US due to a finding by the Food and Drug Administration of sub-trace levels of chrysotile (white) asbestos in a bottle purchased from an online retailer. This is the first time that the company has recalled its baby powder. Reports of these developments were published in Russian, Chinese, French, Italian and other languages. See: Johnson & Johnson recalls baby powder after asbestos found.
 

The Scrapping of the São Paulo?

Oct 21, 2019

The fate of Brazil’s only aircraft carrier and the largest ship in the fleet is up for grabs, according to an article about the disposal of the São Paulo, purchased from the French Government in 2000. The ship, which contains up to 1,000 tonnes of asbestos material, is being auctioned with a December 9 bidding deadline. While it is widely believed the ship will be scrapped, the tender agreement states it must be done so safely and in accordance with procedures to protect the environment. During its years in the Brazilian Navy, the São Paulo was beset with difficulties and was only operational for 206 days. See: Museu ou sucata? O que será do porta-aviões brasileiro que custou R$ 22 milhões [Museum or scrap? What will be the [fate of the] Brazilian aircraft carrier that cost $22 million?].
 

Asbestos in Schools

Oct 21, 2019

A teachers’ union is threatening to take a provincial South African education department to court over the continued presence of asbestos in hundreds of schools. Following a ruling of the Eastern Cape High Court which ascertained the department’s responsibility for maintaining the educational infrastructure up to expected standards, the South African Democratic Teachers’ Union has announced that legal action is being considered over the widespread hazard posed by asbestos in schools and the imminent threat to 25,000 children and 7,000 members of staff. A deadline of 2016 to eradicate the asbestos hazard which was set by the Education Department in 2013 has been extended until 2024. See: Teachers’ union levels threat over Gauteng’s killer asbestos schools.
 

Asbestos Industry Attack

Oct 18, 2019

Asbestos vested interests, suffering from a fall in demand for their products, have embarked on a media offensive condemning the Vietnam Government’s plans to ban the use of asbestos-cement roofing. It is alleged that the government’s position was based on lies told to various agencies including the National Assembly's Committee for Science, Technology and Environment. Quotes from people working in asbestos-cement factories and consumers are cited in support of the calls by the industry for a U-turn on the asbestos ban. See: Không để thông tin thái quá về tấm lợp fibro xi măng gây hoang mang dư luận [Do not let outrageous information about fibro cement roofing sheets confuse public opinion].
 

Toxic Talc

Oct 18, 2019

A study just published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine substantiated the link between the use of asbestos-containing talcum powder, such as Johnson & Johnson’s iconic baby powder, and the occurrence of mesothelioma. The authors of the paper examined the cases of 33 people with mesothelioma whose only significant exposure to asbestos was through their use of talcum powder and concluded that the causation of their cancer had been that exposure. Commenting on their findings, co-author Jacqueline Moline said: “Everything points to cosmetic talc being the cause.” See: A New Study Suggests Tainted Talcum Powder Can Cause a Rare Cancer. Here's How That Could Play Out in the Courtroom.
 

Causation of Colorectal Cancer.

Oct 18, 2019

Research by Korean scientists confirmed the link between occupational asbestos exposure and colorectal cancer mortality. “There was,” they wrote “a significantly increased risk of colorectal cancer mortality among workers exposed to asbestos occupationally…This implies that the risk of colorectal cancer mortality increases as the level of asbestos exposure rises.” Concluding their article, the authors reaffirmed that their findings indicated that occupational exposure to asbestos was a risk factor for colorectal cancer. See: Exposure to asbestos and the risk of colorectal cancer mortality: a systematic review and meta-analysis.
 

Asbestos at the Opera

Oct 18, 2019

Legal proceedings are ongoing in Milan against five executives from La Scala Opera House on behalf of children whose parents were occupationally exposed to asbestos at the theater and subsequently died from asbestos-related diseases. The 12 deceased named in this lawsuit included Italian conductor and pianist maestro Edoardo Muller (1938-2016), toolmaker and machinist Demetrio Asta and singer Luciana Patelli, who died in 2013 of pleural mesothelioma. Asbestos-containing products were widespread throughout the structure with asbestos gloves being used until 1994, one witness testified. See: Milano, morti per amianto alla Scala: in aula i figli delle vittime [Milan, asbestos deaths at La Scala: children of victims in court].
 

Calls to Ban Asbestos NOW!

Oct 16, 2019

An opinion piece in the N.Y. Times by former administrators of the Environmental Protection Agency – Gina Wheeler and William Reilly – called for an urgent and immediate ban on asbestos, a substance killing ~40,000 Americans every year. The authors call on Congress to pass current legislation which bans all asbestos importation and use, without loopholes or exemptions, on the grounds of public safety. The draft prohibitions are progressing in the House of Representatives and the Energy and Commerce Committee will shortly have an opportunity to send it to the House for passage with bipartisan support. See: Asbestos Kills Nearly 40,000 Americans a Year. Ban It.
 

Asbestos Banned at Schools!

Oct 16, 2019

The Government of Kerala has set a two year deadline for asbestos roofing to be removed from 1,000 state, private and independent schools on the grounds of the “harmful impact on students’ health.” The mandatory order follows a ruling by the Kerala High Court in a case brought by a school manager from Thrissur. The Director of Education (DGE) has been instructed to compile an audit of schools with the toxic roofing and ensure that removal work is accomplished in a timely fashion; the DGE must submit monthly update reports on progress to the authorities. See: Govt. bans asbestos roofs in schools.
 

Challenging Draft Legislation

Oct 16, 2019

Australian trade unions are warning about the threat posed by the Ensuring Integrity Bill to the legal and human rights of victims of toxic industrial exposures, citing the long-standing campaign by unions to secure justice for victims of asbestos-related diseases. Commenting on the proposed legislation ACTU President Michele O’Neil said: “History tells us that threats to workers and the public’s health like asbestos only get tackled when workers stand together in their unions and demand change. If this Bill had been law during the fight to ban asbestos and hold James Hardie to account we would have seen unions shut down for actions to ensure public and worker safety.” See: Link between union-bashing bill and public health campaigns.
 

Asbestos Identification and Analysis

Oct 16, 2019

The acquisition of new microscope technology will enable Cambodian customs officers to identify asbestos-containing materials for the first time. The new equipment and training were gifted by Australian donors: Union Aid Abroad – APHEDA and the Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency. At the presentation event, Deputy Director General Ministry of Commerce H.E. Phan Oun, said: “This is something new for us … We know asbestos is a big problem. We need a long-term action plan to ban asbestos.” The new microscope and the training provided will enable Cambodian personnel to test products for asbestos for the first time. See: Spotting the Dangers of Asbestos in Cambodia.
 

Removal of Asbestos Roofs

Oct 16, 2019

A Fund is being set up by the Dutch Government to encourage homeowners to remove asbestos roofs by making loans available for remediation work until 2028. Announcing this initiative, State Secretary Stientje van Veldhoven of Infrastructure said the Government hoped that the availability of these funds would prompt property owners to act expeditiously. Van Veldhoven said: “The older a roof is, the more asbestos fibers it releases. So they can get into the garden and that makes the roofs a bit more dangerous every year.” Although the country’s asbestos ban remains in place, a deadline for the removal of asbestos roofs has been overturned. See: New Fund to Help Dutch Homeowners Clear Away Asbestos Roofs.
 

Asbestos Alert!

Oct 14, 2019

This article on a Russian website highlighted everyday exposures to ordinary things which could prove fatal, including asbestos – stating categorically that: “Asbestos is dangerous to health.” This statement is unusual in that the image of asbestos is carefully preserved in Russia as it is the world’s largest asbestos producer and the leading force behind asbestos marketing efforts around the world. The text pointed out that exposure to asbestos, which is found in many building materials, could cause various cancers including mesothelioma and that for this reason the EU had banned its use. See: 5 повседневных вещей, которые на самом деле опасны [5 everyday things that are really dangerous].
 

New Scottish Asbestos Play

Oct 14, 2019

As the number of cases of asbestos-related disease continues to rise in Scotland, a play – “Fibres” – has been premiered that explores the repercussions for a shipyard worker and his wife of occupational asbestos exposures. The work by Glasgow-based playwright Frances Poet was staged by the Glasgow Citizens Theatre and Stellar Quines, a women’s theatre company, and directed by Jemima Levick. Although asbestos is banned in the UK, millions of tonnes of asbestos-containing products remain in hospitals, schools, social housing, private homes, public and commercial buildings. For details of upcoming performances of Fibres see: citz.co.uk.
 

Ban Asbestos Dialogue: Update

Oct 12, 2019

The introduction of a roadmap to phase-out asbestos use in Vietnam has led to an increase in lobbying to maintain the status quo, even though a drop in asbestos usage indicated a fall in consumer demand. The article referenced below rehashes complaints that alternative products were expensive and there was no data substantiating the existence of a national asbestos epidemic. Nevertheless, the author reported that the Ministry of Science and Technology (MST) had directed the Ministry of Industry and Trade to accelerate research into asbestos-free materials. The MST also planned to collaborate closely with other Ministries to find affordable and safer solutions. See: Thiếu thị trường cho sản phẩm vật liệu không amiăng [Lack of (current) market for non-asbestos products].
 

Environmental Crimes in Turkey

Oct 14, 2019

A Turkish expose regarding environmental contamination in the town of Dilovasi in the Kocaeli region described the effects of living near or visiting an area dominated by a hill made up of industrial waste containing material discarded by a factory operated by the Turkish company Izocam Trade and Industry, Inc. According to the results of scientific tests, the waste included glass-type mineral wool and “significant amounts of three types of very dangerous asbestos…” An asbestos expert who visited the site expressed “pure shock” at the scale of the dump saying he had “never seen anything like this before.” Under Turkish regulations, the creation and existence of the dump could constitute an environmental crime. See: Asbestos Hill: a cover-up.
 

Legal Victory for Victims

Oct 14, 2019

At a press conference after a meeting of the Japanese Cabinet this week, Minister of Justice Kawai announced the Government would not appeal a September 2019 ruling by the Fukuoka High Court which upheld a claim, by a former worker who contracted lung cancer, that the compensation he should receive from the government for occupational asbestos exposures should be higher than the standard rate previously set. He was awarded 12.65 million yen (US$117,000). The positive verdict for the Kitakyushu City man followed similar outcomes for litigants in Kobe and Hiroshima. See: スベストの健康被害めぐる福岡高裁判決 政府 受け入れ方針 [Fukuoka High Court Decision on Asbestos Health Damage, Government Accepts Ruling].
 

Asbestos Brakes: A “Safe Option”

Oct 10, 2019

Propaganda masquerading as an article appeared on a Russian website extolling the virtues of chrysotile asbestos brakes. According to the author, the physical and chemical characteristics of asbestos makes it an ideal component for brake pads for cars, trains, trucks, all-terrain vehicles and many other types of specialized equipment. “Scientific papers,” commissioned by the asbestos industry, are cited to substantiate the assertion that the use of chrysotile asbestos is not harmful under “controlled conditions.” See: Полезные и спорные: тормозные колодки из асбеста [Useful and controversial: asbestos brake pads].
 

Asbestos School Strike

Oct 10, 2019

From October 9 to 18, 2019 a strike is being held by teachers, school staff, students and parents regarding asbestos in the Ruy Belo School in Queluz, Portugal. Slogans such as “no asbestos” or “school is for learning and not for getting sick” are being shouted out by demonstrators who are protesting that the all the roofs of the 35 year-old school are covered with asbestos material, much of which is degrading from the effects of weather and nearby trees. This is the second such strike; the first one was over asbestos in the Dom Domingos Jardo School in Lisbon – that school was closed as a result of the action. See: Greve contra o amianto: “A escola é para aprender e não adoecer” [Strike against asbestos: “School is for learning not for gettting sick”].
 

Asbestos Anxiety

Oct 10, 2019

Twelve claimants are taking their cases for “asbestos anxiety,” as a result of toxic occupational exposures at the Alstom site in Belfort, to the European Court of Human Rights after having had their actions dismissed by the French Court of Cassation (Supreme Court), the Court of Appeal and the lower court. The litigants will have to wait at least a year before the Court’s ruling is issued. See: Amiante à Alstom: douze salariés saisissent la Cour européenne des droits de l'homme [Asbestos at Alstom: twelve employees apply to the European Court of Human Rights].
 

Implementation of Asbestos Ban

Oct 9, 2019

National asbestos prohibitions announced by the Canadian government in 2018 will come into effect on December 30, 2019 according to statements made by Federal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna in Ottawa last week. Unfortunately, she confirmed, that contentious exemptions will continue which include: the commercial exploitation of asbestos mining waste to extract magnesium – about 800 million tonnes of tailings made up of ~40% asbestos remain in former mining regions – the use of asbestos in the military, in nuclear power plants facilities and in chlor-alkali production. See: L'amiante presque complètement banni au Canada dès le 30 décembre [Asbestos almost completely banned in Canada as of December 30].
 

Beyond the Asbestos Ban

Oct 9, 2019

In the aftermath of the long-awaited 2018 ban on asbestos in Canada, campaigners are calling for action to install measures to eradicate the asbestos hazard in order to protect Canadians from toxic exposures. Asbestos-related cancers remain the leading cause of workplace deaths in Canada. Speaking at an event organized by WorkSafe Saskatchewan in Regina on October 7, 2019, Dr. Paul Demers, epidemiologist and director of the Occupational Cancer Research Centre in Ontario, called for asbestos audits for all buildings, both commercial and private, so that occupants could take precautions to prevent exposures. See: Beyond the ban: experts say more needed to tackle ongoing asbestos problem.
 

Ban Asbestos, Now!

Oct 9, 2019

A chapter in a book just released entitled Status of Corporate Responsibility in India, 2019 - Is Human Rights in Business Limited to Rhetoric? sheds light on the current asbestos scenario in the world’s largest asbestos importing country. Concluding the eight page text which constitutes Chapter 11 – written by National Coordinator of the India Ban Asbestos Network Pooja Gupta and human rights lawyer Lara Jesani – the authors called for “a total and unconditional ban of asbestos in the country, and systematic work towards eliminating asbestos from the environment and human ecosystem.” See: Deplorable Cost of Corporate Greed: A Study of the Asbestos Industry.
 

Polluted Russia!

Oct 8, 2019

Scientists in the US and Russia reported the effects of toxic environmental exposures in Russia’s Sverdlovsk region. Breathing in air contaminated with asbestos, arsenic, cadmium, manganese, copper, lead, fluorine, hexavalent chromium, zinc, benzene, formaldehyde, sulphur dioxide, chloroform and other toxins has reduced life expectancy by six months and led to increased rates of disability as well as fatal and debilitating diseases. See: Дышите глубже: ученые рассказали, почему на Урале женщины не могут рожать, мужчины – болеют раком и преждевременно умирают, а дети отстают в психическом развитии [Breathe deeper: scientists told why in the Urals women cannot give birth, men get cancer and die prematurely, and children lag behind in mental development].
 

Asbestos Mine Revival?

Oct 8, 2019

Zimbabwe’s Shabanie chrysotile asbestos mine, which ceased operations in 2009, is slowly coming back to life claim government officials. According to Polite Kambamura, Mines and Mining Development Deputy Minister: “De-watering has been completed at Shabanie Mashaba Mine and very soon, the mine will be working at full throttle.” While some may remain sceptical, having heard similar assertions before, the authorities predict that once fully back on stream the mine could produce 18,000 tonnes of asbestos fiber per year. During it’s heyday, the mine employed 2,000 workers. See: Shabanie Mine awakens from slumber.
 

Asbestos Murder Prosecution

Oct 8, 2019

Legal proceedings are due to start in the long-running attempt by Italian Prosecutors to hold former asbestos magnate Swiss billionaire Stephen Schmidheiny to account for the thousands of deaths caused by the operations of his asbestos-cement factories in Italy. The latest case is being heard in Vercelli, a city in Piedmont, northern Italy. The legal action – regarding the asbestos deaths of 392 citizens of the town of Casale Monferrato – involves 400 civil parties. Schmidheiny stands accused of “voluntary homicide.” The request for a trial was lodged by public prosecutors Francesco Alvino and Roberta Brera and the Turin prosecutor Gianfranco Colace. See: Amianto Killer/ Processo Eternit Bis a Vercelli [Killer asbestos/ Eternit Bis Trial in Vercelli].
 

“Persecution” of Asbestos Industry

Oct 7, 2019

On October 2, 2019, a Russian language article alleged that both red meat and chrysotile asbestos had been falsely damned by the use of unsafe science. Discounting conclusions reached by scientists regarding the adverse health effects of red meat consumption as incorrect, exaggerated and hasty, the unnamed author of the Russian text headlined Proof of Guilt: How to Fan Hysteria from a Piece of Beef alleged that scientific skullduggery and corrupt journalism were the principal weapons used to “persecute” both the meat industry and the chrysotile asbestos industry. See: Доказательство вины: как раздуть истерию из куска говядины [Proof of Guilt: How to Fan Hysteria from a Piece of Beef].
 

Vietnam’s “Cancer Village”

Oct 7 2019

An investigation by government authorities failed to establish the reason for the elevated incidence of cancer in Tho Vi village, Thanh Hoa province. The small hamlet of 1,700 people has now joined the list of top ten villages in the country with the most cancer patients. In some households, multiple family members have died. Having monitored the situation for a number of years local man Mr Tran Minh Han was firmly convinced that the cause of the cancer spike was asbestos-contaminated water; asbestos fibers from a nearby derelict quarry were believed to have gotten into the water and debris from the mine was often used in building projects by villagers. See: Nỗi ám ảnh amiăng của người dân “làng ung thư” (Kỳ 1) [Asbestos obsession of "cancer village" people (Part 1)].
 

Appeal to French President

Oct 7, 2019

On October 1, 2019, the Brazilian Association of the Asbestos-Exposed (ABREA) appealed to the French President to intervene in the upcoming auction in Rio de Janeiro of the former French ship, renamed the São Paulo by the Brazilian Ministry of Defence, which contained large amounts of asbestos. According to the tender notice, it seemed clear that the São Paulo would be sold for demolition and most likely end up on a South Asian beach for dismantling. As per paragraph 8.3 of the tender notice, the French government must authorize the sale of the São Paulo; as the transport of this toxic vessel contravened the Basel Convention and other international protocols, ABREA urged the French President to take urgent action. See: Letters to French President Emmanuel Macron [Portuguese] [French].
 

Toxic Fallout from Factory Fire

Oct 7, 2019

One week after a conflagration decimated a factory in the French town of Lubrizol, residents of Rouen described finding asbestos-cement debris on their properties up to 3 kilometers from the site. A French TV company reported on October 2, 2019 that the analysis it commissioned of a sample found 2 kilometers away identified the presence of chrysotile, amosite and crocidolite asbestos fibers. The director of the laboratory which produced the report confirmed high levels of fiber had been found in the sample. As is often the case after such an incident, on October 1 the authorities said “that there was "no risk related to asbestos.” See: Rouen: cinq questions sur les débris d'amiante retrouvés à proximité de l'usine [Rouen: five questions about asbestos debris found near the Lubrizol plant].
 

Asbestos in Transit Depot

Oct 7, 2019

A report published in early 2019 revealed that workers at the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s (MTA) East New York bus depot in Brooklyn had been exposed to asbestos over decades; in addition, 20+ high school students may have been exposed. Originally, the findings were shared with MTA officials only; workers became aware of the presence of asbestos in the depot’s air vents recently. In 2017, asbestos had been identified in the building’s boiler room; it was removed in August 2018. Although the MTA said that the asbestos in the depot is not dangerous, it has posted signs saying: “DO NOT DISTURB…THE VIBRATION CLOTH MATERIALS ON THIS UNIT CONTAINS ASBESTOS.” See: New York City transit workers exposed to toxic asbestos for decades.
 

Propaganda Onslaught

Oct 4, 2019

Four very similar articles appeared on October 1 and 2, 2019 on Russian websites about attacks on Russia’s asbestos industry. The article noted below purported to examine the arguments for and against using asbestos. Citing industry-commissioned research and outdated reports, it concluded that the safe use of chrysotile asbestos was possible under controlled conditions. Another article (see: http://izvestia64.ru/news/215064-prodolzhaetsya-protivostoyanie-rossii-i-zapadnyh-stran-v-borbe-za-asbest.html] was more explicit – referring to a “hidden trade war” and saying: “Russia continues to wage a long struggle with Western countries for the industrial use of asbestos.” See: Безвреден для здоровья? Кто и почему пытается запретить асбест [Harmless to health? Who is trying to ban asbestos and why?].
 

Progressing the Rights of Asbestos Victims

Oct 4, 2019

Spain’s first legal cases for asbestos anxiety are ongoing at the Social Court of Barcelona for workers exposed to asbestos at the Federal Mogul brake pad factory in the Spanish town of El Prat de Llobregat. According to the claimants’ lawyer, toxic exposures were rife at the plant, previously owned by Honeywell; the plaintiffs developed depression and severe anxiety because of knowledge that they could contract incurable and fatal diseases such as the signature asbestos cancer, mesothelioma. See: Primer judici a l’Estat pels trastorns d’angoixa derivats de l’exposició a l’amiant [First judgment in the State for anxiety disorders arising from exposure to asbestos].
 

Tools for Analyzing Toxic Exposures

Oct 4, 2019

A newly published study used retrospective exposure profile methods and a risk-based approach to assess toxic exposures experienced by tens of thousands of workers at a General Electric factory in Peterborough (Ont.), Canada between 1945 and 2000. As a result of the data in this paper, the Ontario Workplace Safety and Insurance Board overturned decisions refusing compensation to more than 115 people who had brought claims over exposures at the factory to deadly chemicals and substances, including asbestos. See: Workers’ Fight for Justice: A Retrospective Exposure Profile Study of the GE Factory in Peterborough, Ontario.
 

Asbestos Waste Regime

Oct 4, 2019

On October 2, 2019 a spokesperson for Portugal’s Ministry of Environment and Energy Transition asserted that the country’s asbestos waste disposal regime was operating as per guidelines, in a response to a claim that illegal asbestos disposals were being made into landfills which might endanger health and the environment. According to the Government, asbestos-containing construction and demolition waste was deposited in non-hazardous landfills “properly prepared and licensed to receive it and was handled and disposed of in accordance with the best techniques and in accordance with current legislation.” See: Ministério do Ambiente garante segurança e legalidade nas descargas de amianto [Ministry of Environment ensures safety and legality in asbestos discharges].
 

Asbestos in Rolling Stock

Oct 4, 2019

Forty years after the closure of the Sacfem company –which operated facilities in Arezzo, Italy that produced railway cars – its successor-in-interest (the Bastogi company) was condemned by a court for negligence which allowed workplace asbestos exposures to take place. These exposures caused the death of a worker whose family was awarded €750,000 (~$824,500). Because of the long latency period of asbestos diseases, deaths due to exposures at the Sacfem facility have only started occurring in recent years. See: Sacfem: ucciso dall'amianto, alla famiglia assegnati 750 mila euro [Sacfem: killed by asbestos, the family assigned 750 thousand euros].
 

Asbestos Propaganda

Oct 2, 2019

A heavily pro-asbestos article on a Russian website described the global battle to ban asbestos by health and safety campaigners as a trade war, citing Ivan the Terrible’s aggressive and deadly trade policy as a plausible option for dealing with foreign commercial rivals. The author cited industry-commissioned “scientific research” and out-dated policies of the World Health Organization to substantiate claims that Russian chrysotile (white) asbestos “cannot harm the human body” and “is completely safe.” It alleged that the motivation for the campaign to ban asbestos was financial and that asbestos remained essential for the lives of populations in 2/3 of the world’s countries. See: Битва за волокно [The battle for [asbestos] fiber].
 

Schools Closed for Asbestos Abatement

Oct 2, 2019

On October 1, 2019, Danielle Floyd, the Philadelphia School District’s chief operating officer, announced that two Philadelphia schools were to be shut down for two days due to the presence of damaged asbestos-containing products; monitoring tests detected airborne asbestos in both premises. The discovery of the damaged asbestos occurred during a walk-through with School District and teachers’ union officials. Abatement work is being undertaken during the closure, with work beginning in the areas most accessed by school users. One thousand students attend both schools. See: Asbestos shuts down Ben Franklin/SLA school building.
 

New Mesothelioma Scheme on Jersey

Oct 1 2019

People on the island of Jersey with diffuse mesothelioma, a cancer caused by exposure to asbestos, and relatives of those who died from mesothelioma will now be eligible for one-off lump sum payments from the Jersey Government. The new scheme, which was first mooted in a well-supported e-petition to the government, was approved by the States Assembly. The size of the compensation award is dependent on an applicant’s age at the time of diagnosis and ranges from £92,259 for an individual aged 37 and younger to £14,334 for someone 77 and over. See: Islanders diagnosed with asbestos-related cancer to get government compensation.
 

State Condemned!

Oct 1, 2019

The Turin Court of Appeal ruled that as the pleural mesothelioma death of former sailor Salvatore Carminisi in 2009 had been caused by workplace exposure to asbestos in the engine room of the Amerigo Vespucci ship (1971-73), the Italian State was liable to pay damages for his death for having failed to implement measures to protect his health. The Court ordered the State to pay a one-off lump sum of €200,000 to Mr. Carminisi's wife and daughter as well as a lifetime pension of €1000 to the wife and €500 to the daughter. See: Amianto sulla Vespucci, lo Stato deve risarcire i familiari di un marinaio [Asbestos on the Vespucci, the State must compensate the relatives of a sailor].
 

Government’s Asbestos Liability

Oct 1, 2019

Under a settlement registered on September 27, 2019 with the Osaka District Court, the Government of Japan agreed to pay 57.2 million yen (US$530,000) to the families of 4 workers who died from asbestos-related diseases due to exposures experienced whilst recycling asbestos-contaminated hemp bags. The agreement followed a case brought by relatives of people who worked in 3 factories in Sakai City between 1944 and 1976. According to the defense team, this is the first settlement in Japan for asbestos disease contracted as a result of employment at a bag recycling plant. See: 麻袋リサイクル作業で石綿被害、国と元労働者が初の和解 大阪地裁 [Asbestos damage due to recycling of hemp bags, first settlement between the country and former workers Osaka District Court].
 

Toxic Thermos Flasks: Made in China

Sep 30, 2019

Last week, new tests results were released in Vietnam documenting asbestos contamination of thermos flasks made in China. According to the Research and Quality Accreditation Institute in Jiangsu Province, China, the thermoses tested contained asbestos. Commenting on these results, Vietnamese asbestos expert Dr. Tran Tuan said: “Asbestos-related diseases are preventable, and the most effective way to prevent them is to stop using all forms of asbestos to prevent exposure.” The Chinese government issued a warning to consumers about the toxic products. See: Amiăng trong bình giữ nhiệt xuất xứ từ Trung Quốc có thể gây ung thư và phá hủy nội tạng [Asbestos in Chinese-made thermos can cause cancer and organ damage].
 

Asbestos Alert

Sep 30, 2019

Ructions continue over pollution caused by the production of paronite – asbestos rubber sheeting made of chrysotile (white) asbestos for gaskets – in the town of Pershino, located in the Chelyabinsk region of Russia. Protests by local people over the deleterious effects of exposures to the toxins liberated by manufacturing processes at the factory have been lodged with administrative and judicial authorities – yet not one inspection of the factory has taken place. The responses to the complaints about the factory indicate the existence of a Kafkaesque situation in which each department and authority contacted denied any responsibility for the situation. See: Паронитовый заводик в Першино вредит под чиновничьей “крышей” [Paronite factory in Pershino harms under bureaucratic “protection”].
 

Proposed Sale of Aircraft Carrier

Sep 30, 2019

The auction by the Brazilian Ministry of Defence of the Sao Paulo aircraft carrier, operational from 2000 to 2017, was announced for September 27, 2019. A reserve price of $1.25 million was set; $12 million had been paid to the Government of France for the ship. The ultimate fate of Sao Paulo, which was the sister ship of the infamous French carrier Le Clemenceau, was of concern to civil society groups who warned the Brazilians that cash buyers would probably send it for scrapping to Asian beaches (see: Letter Sep 26). After the publication of the letter, news was circulated that the auction was being postponed until December 2019. See: Brazilian aircraft carrier goes on sale for $ 1.275 million.
 

Action on Asbestos: Too Little, too Late?

Sep 30, 2019

The frustration of people who have been living within meters of asbestos-contaminated debris dumped by the defunct Ibertubo (asbestos) cement company has boiled over. After more than a decade of high-profile campaigning by residents, authorities in Toledo, Spain agreed in 2016 to remediate the public site on which 60,000 tons of toxic waste had been disposed. Unfortunately, the situation remains unresolved and piles of asbestos debris remain in place. Campaigners had hoped the opening of the new Toledo Hospital sited nearby might have proved an incentive for the land to be completely cleared; this has not been their experience. See: El barrio construido en medio del Amianto [The neighborhood built in the middle of asbestos].
 

Screening for High-Risk Workers

Sep 30, 2019

A meeting on the morning of September 27, 2019 attended by former workers from the railway workshops in Bellinzona, Switzerland who had been invited by the Swiss National Accident Insurance Fund to undergo medical check-ups due to past occupational asbestos exposures and trade union representatives provided the opportunity for questions to be asked about the proposed medical interventions, the costs, and the eligibility of workers. Between 1980 and 1990 four workers from the workshops and a driver had died from asbestos-related diseases. Investigations are being progressed by the Public Ministry regarding historic conditions at the workshops. See: Amianto alle Officine: «Ora vogliamo chiarezza» [Asbestos at the Workshops: “Now we want clarity”].
 

Human Rights: Asbestos Follow-Up

Sep 28, 2019

During the September 23-25, 2019 meeting of the Department for the Execution of Judgments of the European Court of Human Rights, it was decided to end supervision of the judgment in Howald Moor and Others. This case considered the non-access to courts of asbestos victims due to a 10-year limitation period which started regardless of whether claimants were aware of the health consequences of historic exposures to asbestos. Further supervision was deemed unnecessary due to the creation by the Swiss authorities of the “Asbestos Victims Compensation Fund” which provided financial support and psychosocial care to individuals who, since 2006, had contracted a malignant tumour related to asbestos. See: Switzerland adopts measures to compensate asbestos victims.
 

Pre-Olympics Asbestos Hazard

Sep 28, 2019

An editorial in The Japan Times highlighted the dangers posed by the demolition of buildings containing asbestos to make way for new constructions for the Tokyo Olympics 2020. The author called for urgent implementation of tighter regulations for dealing with asbestos – a substance widely used in building products throughout Japan for several decades – in order to protect occupational and public safety. Two million eight hundred thousand buildings in Japan are believed to contain asbestos; between 2000 and 2040, it has been estimated that up to 100,000 people could die from the asbestos cancer mesothelioma. See: Halt further health damage from asbestos.
 

Toxic Army Housing

Sep 28, 2019

A 37-page report published on September 5, 2019 detailing an investigation into the standard of housing for US Army personnel documented dismal conditions in which soldiers and their families lived, which included domestic exposures to asbestos-containing products, mold and lead-based paint. Asbestos products were widely used in all branches of the military. According to former US Army captain Aaron Munz: “Veterans and their families living in post housing built before the 1980s face potential health risks from their homes.” In response to one of the findings, the Army set up a registry to track health complaints related to military housing and held town hall meetings across the service. See: Department of the Army Inspector General Report - Assessment of Residential Communities Initiative.
 

Asbestos Arrests in Kenya!

Sep 28, 2019

On September 24, 2019 officials from the National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA) stopped asbestos removal contractors working at the Kimathi Estate, Nakuru who had been engaged by Nakura county to replace toxic roofing with corrugated iron sheets. NEMA alleged that the workers were not following official guidelines for the removal and disposal of asbestos roofing. On September 20, NEMA had issued an order stopping further activities until the county undertook an Environmental Impact Assessment. The county failed to do so and ordered work to begin. As a consequence, arrest warrants were issued for the contractor and Judyleah Waihenya, Nakuru County lands and chief housing chief officer. See: Nema, county clash on how to handle asbestos.
 

Asbestos Removal in Moscow

Sep 24, 2019

By the end of 2019, all asbestos-cement roofing on apartment buildings in “Old Moscow” will be replaced with roofing made from galvanized steel sheets; these renovations were approved by the authorities. Work to remove the asbestos products has been ongoing for some while and only 40 properties remain unremediated. According to Viktor Logvinov, the First Vice-President of the Russian Union of Architects: “Slate [asbestos-cement tile] is very fragile, dangerous and short-lived… Now there is a wide selection of roofing materials that are long-lasting and safe for humans. Galvanized steel is one of them.” See: Сталь вместо асбеста [Steel instead of asbestos].
 

Asbestos on the Farm

Sep 24, 2019

An inquest into the death of a 75-year-old Dorset farmer was opened in Bournemouth on September 20, 2019. Mary Elcock had received multiple exposures to asbestos throughout her childhood and later life. She was diagnosed with the asbestos cancer mesothelioma on July 26, 2019 and died on September 11. According to a coroner's officer Ken McEwan, the deceased grew up on a farm which had asbestos roofs and in later life lived at a farm in Wimborne which had demolished its asbestos buildings in 1975. According to one UK expert, there remains: “[a] massive job to do to effectively manage asbestos, particularly on farms.” See: Asbestos danger highlighted as farmer dies from exposure.
 

A Deadly Legacy

Sep 24, 2019

A new report issued by the OCRC highlights the dire consequences of Canada’s deadly love affair with asbestos. In the 7-page chapter on asbestos, the authors note that: “Just over 150,000 workers are exposed [to asbestos] but it is estimated to cause 1,900 lung cancers, 430 mesotheliomas, 45 laryngeal cancers and 15 ovarian cancers annually.” According to the data: “Most occupational [asbestos] exposure (89%) occurs in construction, primarily due to the maintenance, renovation and modification of existing public, residential and commercials buildings.” See release notes: Report Release: Burden of Occupational Cancer in Canada.
 

Asbestos Dispute in Riga

Sep 24, 2019

The discovery of asbestos in the soil at the site of a newly modernized combined heat and power plant (TEC-2) outside Riga, Latvia has led to a heated dispute over which of the many sub-contractors and contractors should be held liable for the huge costs of remediation work not only at the site itself but also at the dump where the contaminated soil was taken. According to an investigation by the State Environmental Service all the enterprises involved in the construction work knew about the asbestos. See: На территории ТЕС-2 нашли опасный асбест. Виновной хотят сделать фирму, которая это обнаружила [Dangerous asbestos found on site of TEC-2. The company which discovered it is being held liable for decontamination costs].
 

High Cost of Past Asbestos Use

Sep 24, 2019

In a letter to the editor uploaded to the website of Italy’s Agenzia Nazionale Stampa Associata (National Associated Press Agency), Alessandro Miani, the President of the Italian Society of Environmental Medicine, highlighted the fallout from the country’s ongoing asbestos epidemic which is killing 6,000 people every year. Miani explained that: “Exposure to asbestos, in fact, causes lung cancer (pleural mesothelioma), laryngeal and ovarian cancer, as well as conditions of pulmonary fibrosis.” Furthermore, Miani pointed out: “In Italy… there are 96,000 sites contaminated with asbestos.” See: Amianto, in Italia fa 6mila morti l'anno [Asbestos, in Italy it causes 6 thousand deaths a year].
 

Mesothelioma UK Publication

Sep 24, 2019

The 24-page Autumn 2019 issue of Mesothelioma Matters Magazine published by Mesothelioma UK contains feature articles which detailed developments pertinent to members of the UK mesothelioma community including information about: the recruitment of new specialist mesothelioma nurses; activities held on the UK’s Annual Action Mesothelioma Day; outreach work to support asbestos-injured veterans; fund-raising initiatives; upcoming events; and work by civil society partners to raise awareness of the hazard posed by occupational exposures to asbestos remaining within the country’s infrastructure. See: Mesothelioma Matters Magazine, Autumn 2019.
 

Asbestos Healthcare: New Initiative

Sep 23, 2019

From September 23 to 27, 2019, hundreds of asbestos-exposed workers from the Precon company’s factory in Pedro Leopoldo will take part in a new medical monitoring scheme in São José da Lapa, a city in the Brazilian State of Minas Gerais. They will be examined in the CT truck belonging to the Barretos Cancer Hospital. Municipal officials with close ties to the former asbestos-processing company have continually refused to provide healthcare for the at-risk workforce. This initiative is being supported by Brazil’s Association of the Asbestos-Exposed (ABREA). See: Photo (courtesy of ABREA).
 

Asbestos Industry Offensive

Sep 23, 2019

An article which bemoaned the current commercial plight of the asbestos industry in Vietnam claimed that decreasing sales were due to unsubstantiated fears about the effects of human exposures to chrysotile (white) asbestos-containing cement roofing. According to the author of this biased text, no cases of mesothelioma have been recorded from occupational or environmental exposure to chrysotile fibers in cement roofing. Information provided by and demands for government action made by the Vietnam Roofing Association – a trade association representing asbestos vested interests – were detailed. See: Doanh nghiệp "thoi thóp" chờ quyết sách về Fibro ximăng [Business community waiting for a decision about Fibro cement].
 

Cancer Prevention Program

Sep 23, 2019

Since 2012, the Swiss National Accident Insurance Fund (SUVA), has been monitoring the health of workers at high risk of contracting asbestos-related diseases via a voluntary health program for those aged 55 to 75, who are offered free CAT scans in order to achieve early diagnoses of disease. News of a current initiative documented the invitation to 40 workers from railway workshops in Bellinzona, Switzerland who could have received toxic exposures whilst working on rolling stock built before 1990. An assertion by SUVA that there have been, to date, no asbestos cancer deaths amongst this cohort of workers was challenged by Gianni Frizzo, from a group representing the Bellinzona workers. See: Amianto alle Officine, SUVA indaga [Asbestos in Workshops, SUVA investigates].
 

Asbestos Health Camp

Sep 23, 2019

Efforts to support South Korea’s asbestos victims continued at a healing camp held on September 20, 2019 in Chungnam Province which was attended by the regional governor Yang Seung-jo. The objectives of the camp, which was hosted by the Province and the Asbestos Environmental Health Center, included awareness monitoring amongst the asbestos victims and improving psychological stability via measures such as health classes and cultural visits. The Governor pledged to “promptly dismantle and remove existing risk factors,” to prevent further exposures to asbestos. See: 양승조 지사 “석면 피해 예방·구제 투트랙 정책 펼 것” [Gov. Yang Seung-jo says, "asbestos damage relief measures will be expanded"].
 

Asbestos Remediation Initiative

Sep 23, 2019

A service became operation on September 20, 2019 in the Figline and Incisa areas of metropolitan Florence following new guidelines adopted by the Region of Tuscany to facilitate the removal and disposal of modest quantities of asbestos-containing material from domestic users. For a fee of €48, an asbestos removal kit can be purchased containing everything needed for householders to safely carry out the removal of small amounts of asbestos products from their premises. Once removed and packaged as per specifications, the material will be collected by the contractor. See: Kit per la rimozione dell'amianto per le utenze domestiche: la consegna ora anche al depositoalla Massa [Kit for asbestos removal for domestic users: delivery now also to the warehouse at Massa].
 

Increasing Medical Capacity

Sep 18, 2019

On Thursday, September 12, 2019 a public hearing took place in the Brazilian town of Bom Jesus da Serra during which a new spirometer and other equipment were presented to staff from the medical clinic at the Federal University of Bahia to facilitate early diagnoses of asbestos-related respiratory problems in high risk individuals such as those exposed to asbestos whilst employed at the SAMA asbestos mine and members of their families. Attending the event were representatives of local and national asbestos victims’ groups, legal associations, government officials, medical personnel and municipal officers. See: A AVICAFE e ABREA entregam espirômetro à UFBA [AVICAFE and ABREA deliver spirometer to UFBA].
 

GE Off-loaded Toxic Waste

Sep 18, 2019

Although, General Electric (GE) denied selling asbestos waste to its workers decades ago, people in Peterborough, Ontario recall many incidences of this taking place. The fluffy white asbestos scrap from the GE plant was used to insulate attics from the 1940s until the mid-1970s according to a September 17, 2019 CBC News/Toronto Star expose. With thousands of workers eligible for the cut-price but toxic bargains, no one knows how many of Peterborough’s homes remain contaminated. To date, the company has paid to clean up 24 Peterborough homes. See: Hidden asbestos: Hundreds of homes in Peterborough, Ont., suspected of containing toxic material from GE plant.
 

Asbestos Compensation

Sep 18, 2019

A spokesperson for Tata Steel in the Netherlands, part of the Indian multinational Tata Group, recently announced that the company would take a “more human approach” to the resolution of asbestos cases brought by former employees after criticism in May 2019 that the steel manufacturer was stalling the claims process and that the average case took 308 working days to resolve. The company said it had recently paid €60,000 compensation to the families of two deceased Dutch asbestos victims. It is believed that since 1995, 120 asbestos claims have been brought by former employees against Tata Steel. Enquiries are ongoing regarding how the compensation regime for Dutch asbestos victims compares to that for Indian victims. See: Tata Steel is going to implement ‘a more humane approach’ to asbestos cases.
 

Ministry of Defence

Sep 18, 2019

New rules published last week by the Ministry of Defence could significantly impact on the rights of service and civilian personnel to bring claims for occupational asbestos exposures. The previous regime which mandated that incidents of asbestos exposure be documented has been updated to eliminate this requirement. According to trade union official Rob Miguel: “There is little difference between the old and new guidance apart from the very worrying change that if a worker is exposed to asbestos, copies of the form detailing that exposure will no longer be supplied, preventing the worker retaining a copy or passing one onto his GP.” See: New Ministry of Defence asbestos guidance described as ‘very worrying’.
 

Sicily’s Asbestos Legacy

Sep 18, 2019

A recent regional asbestos hearing was told that progress to manage asbestos contamination in Sicily was almost non-existent and that at least one million cubic meters of asbestos [sic] remained in the environment and 330+ schools were still contaminated with asbestos material. Only 2% of asbestos illegally dumped in Sicily every year was removed and only 5% of Sicilian municipalities had prepared mandatory municipal asbestos audits. There are still no authorized landfills for asbestos disposal in Sicily. The hearing was warned of the dire consequences of the overwhelming failure to implement Sicily’s asbestos plan. See: In Sicilia 330 scuole a rischio amianto, 1 milione di metri cubi da smaltire [In Sicily 330 schools at risk of asbestos, 1 million cubic meters [sic] to be disposed of].
 

Pro-Victim Ruling: Eternit Condemned

Sep 18, 2019

Brazil’s Superior Labor Court increased the amount awarded against Eternit, formerly Brazil’s largest asbestos conglomerate, to Reais 600,000 (~US$147,000 ) for moral and material damages for the mesothelioma death of a former employee following workplace asbestos exposures which took place decades ago. He died in 2012, more than 37 years after he had left Eternit; he had been employed for almost one year at the company’s Osasco factory in the manufacture of asbestos-cement pipes. See: Deferida indenização a espólio de ajudante que descobriu câncer 35 anos após dispensa, diz TST [Compensation granted to employee who contracted cancer 35 years after dismissal, says TST].
 

Increasing Asbestos Restrictions: Update

Sep 16, 2019

Law 10,849/2019 adopted by the Brazilian State of Espírito Santo prohibited the industrialization, trade and use of products, materials or artefacts containing any type of asbestos. A new proposal currently going through the state legislature will further restrict the use of asbestos products such as water tanks and tiles; Bill 699/2019 will prohibit the transportation, import, export, storage and delivery to third parties, even free of charge, of materials or items containing any type of asbestos. These prohibitions are being adopted in recognition of the global consensus regarding the human health risks posed by exposures to asbestos. See: AMIANTO: Projeto fecha cerco contra amianto no ES [ASBESTOS: Project closes siege against asbestos in ES].
 

Building Technical Capacity

Sep 16, 2019

Last week, asbestos training was provided by Australian technical experts to Cambodian laboratory staff for the first time at sessions which took place in Phnom Penh. State-of-the-art scientific equipment and microscopes for the testing of asbestos-containing material were provided by the Australian Safety and Eradication Agency in the presence of representatives of the Australian Embassy in Cambodia, Australia’s Union Aid Abroad – APHEDA, the Building and Woodworkers’ Union, the Ministry of Commerce and the Cambodian Ban Asbestos Network (CAMBAN). See: Photo from training session (sourced from the Facebook page of Australia’s Union Aid Abroad – APHEDA).
 

Environmental Asbestos Hazard

Sep 16, 2019

Local people and activists concerned about the hazard posed by the presence of asbestos-containing building material in the Glòries area of Barcelona have filed a complaint with the Environmental Prosecutor requesting that it mandate remediation work by the owners of the toxic properties which are in close proximity to: the Gaia School, the Encants School and the Leonor Serrano municipal nursery. The Barcelona City Council has also been petitioned by the campaigners who are also calling on City Hall to make decontamination work a high priority. See: Ecologistas en Acción denunciará el amianto del entorno de las Glòries [Ecologists in Action will denounce the asbestos around the Glòries].
 

Asbestos Update

Sep 16, 2019

Although asbestos was banned in Turkey in 2010, the failure of local and regional authorities to deal effectively with asbestos in the built and natural environment meant that toxic exposures continued to pose a risk to human health according to Kenan Yildiz, a spokesperson for (Turkey’s) Asbestos and Hazardous Waste Association. In an online commentary, Yildiz also alleged that many provinces and district municipalities had failed to acknowledge the asbestos hazard and did not comply with official and mandatory asbestos guidelines. Illegal asbestos products can, he said, still be purchased in Turkey via the internet. See: “Takdir-i idari” bir risk: Asbest [An on-going hazard: Asbestos].
 

Brazil’s Asbestos War

Sep 12, 2019

The almost daily vicissitudes regarding the fate of Brazil’s asbestos ban were detailed in an article published by BBC News Brasil on September 11, 2019. The text summed up the dynamics and processes which led to the 2017 Supreme Court ban on asbestos and highlighted efforts by vested interests to curtail the ban so that asbestos mining and export could continue. The roles played by important stakeholders including ABREA – the Brazilian Association of the Asbestos-Exposed – Campaigner Fernanda Giannasi, Attorneys Marcia Kamei Lopez and Leonardo Amarante, researchers Drs. Hermano Casto and Arthur Pires Amaral and others were discussed. See: Saúde ou emprego? O dilema do amianto, que fez Goiás desafiar STF [Health or employment? The asbestos dilemma that made Goiás challenge STF].
 

Asbestos Alert: Toxic Waste

Sep 12, 2019

Multiple complaints over a prolonged period have been raised regarding the environmental hazard posed by the dumping of asbestos-containing waste on the outskirts of the Las Vaguardas neighborhood in the town of Badajoz in the southwest of Spain and in and around the Sancha Brava Gorge. Amongst the waste which is present in areas used for hiking and sports are piles of broken asbestos-cement roofing tiles manufactured by Uralite. Speaking about the dumping of the asbestos Guillermo Villasan, President of the Las Vaguadas neighborhood association, said: “it is unsustainable that such an amount of toxic material is piled up on public roads, outdoors and within the reach of anyone." See: Los escombros y el amianto rodean Las Vaguadas [Rubble and asbestos surround Las Vaguadas].
 

Asbestos in Schools

Sep 12, 2019

On September 11, 2019, the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers (PFT) held a press conference at which it announced the union’s call for a $100 million program to remove asbestos from the city’s schools in the aftermath of the mesothelioma cancer death of a teacher exposed to asbestos at Meredith elementary and another local school. The money would pay for a city-wide program to address not only asbestos contamination but also the hazard posed by lead remaining in the buildings. According to the PFT, asbestos-containing material has been found in about 150 school buildings in the Philadelphia School District. See: Union Wants $100M for Asbestos Removal from Philly Schools after Teacher’s Cancer Diagnosis.
 

Asbestos Remediation: Update

Sep 12, 2019

Local politician Brian Kisila is pressing the County Government of Machakos to implement plans to remove asbestos roofing at Mwala Level Four Hospital in Mwala, Kenya pursuant to the government’s plans to implement a national asbestos remediation program. Commenting on the situation Kisila said: “The hospital is being given a makeover and I would like to urge Governor Mutua to consider replacing the harmful asbestos roofing in the hospital, just like other government buildings.” See: MCA wants Mwala hospital's asbestos roof replaced.
 

A Decade of Toxic Exposure

Sep 12, 2019

A front-page newspaper feature in The Times of Malta is being credited with ending a 10-year impasse on the remediation of hazardous asbestos waste dumped on a privately owned 1,000 square meter site in Naxxar, a town in the Northern Region of Malta. The clean-up came 10 years after an enforcement notice had been issued and within days of The Times article. Naxxar Mayor Anne Marie Muscat Fenech Adami expressed the concern of local people over the health hazard posed by the toxic material on the open site, which included broken asbestos-cement building products. The owner, who had been given a deadline to clear the material, had previously failed to do so. See: Asbestos removed from Naxxar field after Times of Malta pressure.
 

Asbestos in Merchant Marine Vessels

Sep 10, 2019

On September 6, 2019, 450 employees at a facility in Brest, France which specializes in the maintenance of merchant marine vessels mounted a protest over ongoing exposures to asbestos products fitted on ships whilst at foreign ports despite the fact that France banned asbestos in 1996. Even ships which have “asbestos-free” certificates have been found to be contaminated; in China, anything containing less than 15% asbestos is considered to be asbestos-free. See: Brest. L’amiante provoque la colère des pros du port de commerce [Brest. Asbestos provokes anger of commercial port personnel].
 

New Mandatory Asbestos Audits

Sep 10, 2019

A September 5, 2019 editorial on the website of The Asahi Shimbun, a highly respected daily newspaper in Japan, urged the Government to follow international precedents and tighten up laws to prevent exposures to asbestos-containing products incorporated within the national infrastructure. Recommendations proposed by a subcommittee of the Central Environment Council to the Ministry of the Environment will form the basis of an amendment to the Air Pollution Control Act and will mandate the introduction of asbestos audits prior to the commencement of building renovation or remediation work. All audits must be submitted to local authorities in order for permission to proceed to be granted. Japan banned asbestos in 2004. See: (社説)石綿規制強化 [(Editorial) Strengthening asbestos regulations].
 

Toxic Cosmetics: Another Recall

Sep 10, 2019

Another scandal over asbestos contamination of cosmetics has been revealed by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) which last week advised consumers to stop using certain cosmetic products because of their toxic content. Beauty Plus Global, the company selling these products, issued a voluntary withdrawal of the of the following contaminated products: City Color Collection Matte Blush (Fuchsia), City Color Cosmetics Timeless Beauty Palette, City Color Bronzer (Sunset) and City Color Shimmer Bronzer (Caramel). In May 2019, the company recalled other asbestos-containing cosmetics after FDA tests. See: FDA Advises Consumers to Stop Using Certain Cosmetic Products.
 

Eternit Abandons Asbestos!

Sep 9, 2019

In a press release issued by Eternit, S.A. – formerly Brazil’s biggest asbestos conglomerate – company President Luís Augusto Barbosa confirmed that Eternit had “abandoned 100%" asbestos and would now play a leading role in the green revolution by introducing a new asbestos-free photovoltaic tile, capable of transforming solar power into electricity. Product testing is ongoing and Eternit expected the tiles to be on the Brazilian market within 18 months. The USP of the new Eternit product is that the photovoltaic cells are applied onto the tile itself without the need for an additional panel. See: Eternit lança telha de energia solar e diz que superou Amianto [Eternit launches solar power tile and says it has overcome asbestos].
 

Asbestos U-Turn

Sep 9, 2019

France’s Council of State on August 27, 2019 suspended provisions of an interministerial decree of July 16, 2019 stipulating that as of July 19 identification of asbestos prior to the commencement of work must be undertaken by certified operators. According to the ruling which accomplished this reversal: “While it is undeniable that the prevention of asbestos-related risks constitutes a public health imperative, it is not established, in the circumstances of the case, that the continued operation of these provisions is required.” See: Amiante: le Conseil d'Etat suspend l'obligation de certification avec mention pour le repérage avant travaux [Asbestos: Council of State suspends obligation of certification requiring identification before works].
 

Asbestos Epidemic: At Home and Abroad

Sep 9, 2019

An article detailing manmade disasters highlighted the toll paid by humanity for the profits of the asbestos industry. According to one Spanish expert, by 2018 there had been nearly 4 million deaths worldwide from exposures to asbestos with a further ~3.5m expected between 2018 and 2040. In Spain, a total of 100,000 asbestos-related deaths were expected by 2040. The recognition of asbestos-related diseases in many EU countries is either non-existent or exceedingly low. According to a recent publication by the European Economic and Social Committee: “Asbestos remains the main source of occupational cancer in the EU… [and] claims approximately 88,000 lives in Europe each year...” See: El amianto mata [Asbestos Kills].
 

Unsafe Choice: Asbestos Pipes

Sep 9, 2019

An online article on a website from Ukraine analyzed alternative products available for usage in sewage systems including those made from: ceramics, cast iron, plastic and asbestos cement (AC), pointing out that the hazards posed by the use of AC pipes meant that they should only be used “if other materials are not suitable due to low throughput or the inability to work in difficult conditions.” “Asbestos is,” the author noted “quite fragile, and also dangerous for the environment and people. Cement is heavy, difficult to install.” See: Трубы для канализации: есть ли лучший материал? [Sewer pipes: is there any better material?].
 

Supreme Court Appeal

Sep 5, 2019

An appeal by Asian Asbestos Victims’ Groups to the Brazilian Supreme Court which is due to announce its decision on the totality of the country’s asbestos ban – in light of appeals by vested interests for exemptions to allow a further 10 years of asbestos mining for export purposes – any day now has been detailed in a feature article on the Brazilian website of Viomundo. The author summarized the background to the current case and quoted from an appeal sent by the asbestos victims to the Court. See: Amianto: organizações fazem apelo aos ministros do STF para que mantenham proibição total [Asbestos: Organizations Appeal to STF Ministers to Maintain Total Ban].
 

Asbestos Causes Cancer!

Sep 5, 2019

Russia, for decades the world’s largest supplier of asbestos, has long denied that exposure to asbestos caused any ill health effects despite the global consensus that such exposure could cause fatal cancers as well as debilitating diseases. In a piece published online on September 4, the chief oncologist of the Ministry of Health was quoted as saying that a main cause of cancer was exposure to “classified chemicals, such as asbestos…” As Russian asbestos industry representatives and government officials continue to deny the existence of asbestos-related diseases, this statement is significant. See: Главный онколог минздрава назвал три основных фактора развития рака [The chief oncologist of the Ministry of Health names three main factors for the development of cancer].
 

20 Years after the UK Ban

Sep 5, 2019

Recent articles in the Morning Star newspaper highlighted the human and societal costs of the United Kingdom’s 100+ years love affair with asbestos, citing Health and Safety Executive data which revealed an ongoing deadly epidemic currently killing 5,000 people every year. In light of this devastation, the author deplored the fact that UK-based companies were continuing to profit from global asbestos sales. The David and Goliath legal battle mounted by June Hancock, an asbestos cancer victim, against a subsidiary of the British multinational Turner & Newall Ltd. was remembered in a second article (see: The Woman Who Took on the Armley Asbestos Tragedy). See: Asbestos – a Bloody Anniversary!
 

Asbestos in Schools

Sep 5, 2019

Deteriorating friable asbestos material has been identified in 100 schools in New South Wales (NSW); asbestos-containing products have been found in more than 2,000 other state schools according to surveys commissioned by the Education Department. Even where the material is not friable, “damaged asbestos” in 1,000+ schools is a cause for concern. At a hearing on September 4, 2019 Education Minister Sarah Mitchell faced a barrage of questions about this situation. Dismissing Mitchell’s reassurances, a Labor Party spokeswoman said: “The government can't tell us what they're going to do to get rid of it and parents are rightfully gonna be pretty scared hearing this.” See: More than 100 NSW schools have the 'worst kind' of asbestos - is your child's among them?
 

UK Mesothelioma Compensation

Sep 2, 2019

A scheme set up by the UK government in 2014, and paid for by a levy on the insurance industry, to provide compensation for people who contracted diffuse mesothelioma from occupational exposures and whose former employers could not be traced has, to date, paid out £172.6m. Official statistics published on August 29, 2019 reported that: in the financial year 01 April 2018 to 31 March 2019, 370 applications were received; excluding pending applications, 79% of applications received were successful; 92% of applicants were male – 68% of successful applicants (68 per cent) were aged between 65 and 79. See: Diffuse Mesothelioma Payment Scheme Official Statistics.
 

Asbestos & Cocaine: Brazil's Toxic Exports

Sep 2, 2019

A shipment of chrysotile (white) asbestos from the Brazilian Port of Santos, intercepted after Interpol alerted the authorities in South Africa, was found to contain 700 kilograms of cocaine valued at $216 million. It took customs officers 12 days to locate the container with the drugs amongst the 3,000 containers on-board the vessel MSC Spain. It’s alleged that the drugs were being shipped by a Brazilian drugs’ gang headed by Karine de Oliveira Campos and her husband, Marcelo Mendes Ferreira, neither of whom has been apprehended by the police. See: Carga de minério cancerígeno escondeu mais de 700 kg de cocaína, diz PF [Carcinogenic ore load concealed more than 700 kg of cocaine, says PF].
 

Asbestos Remediation Initiative

Sep 2, 2019

From September 2 to December 2, 2019, residents of the Autonomous Province of Bolzano in Northern Italy could be entitled to reimbursements of up to 70% of the cost of asbestos removal and disposal work incurred during remediation work on residential properties up to a maximum of €10,000. Alternatively, eligible residents could claim 50% of the costs incurred as a tax deduction. Information about this scheme can be obtained online or via a telephone hotline. See: Incentivi Provincia per bonifica da amianto: dal 2 settembre nuove richieste di contributo [Province incentives for asbestos removal: from 2 September new requests for contributions].
 

Asbestos: A Regional Concern

Aug 30, 2019

The first of three case studies examined in a new paper about cancer prevention in the Americas focused on the issue of asbestos exposures in Brazil, formerly an asbestos producing and using country. The authors noted that while the long-awaited 2017 Brazilian ban on asbestos was welcomed, it was of serious concern “given the poor visibility of workers’ health compared to other public health priorities of the country,” whether the necessary measures would be implemented by the government to prevent future exposures to asbestos-containing material already within the national infrastructure and environment. See: Pollution in the Americas: a leading cause of disease burden and an opportunity for cancer prevention.
 

Asbestos Exposure in the Navy

Aug 28, 2019

It has been announced that as the French State had decided not to appeal a decision of the Administrative Court of Rennes – awarding 45 maritime officers from Nord-Finistère between €3,000 and €10,000 for occupational exposure to asbestos during the period 1950-2000 – the verdict was now final. The compensation is being paid to retired naval personnel for “asbestos anxiety.” Jean-Paul Le Roux, representing a group which had campaigned for the injured, predicted that thousands of officers may eventually benefit from this landmark ruling giving veterans the same benefits as civilians. See: L’Etat définitivement condamné à indemniser des militaires de la marine exposés à l’amiante [State finally obliged to compensate naval personnel exposed to asbestos].
 

Asbestos Cancer in Australia

Aug 28, 2019

Figures just released by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) in a report entitled Mesothelioma in Australia 2018 documented that 699 Australians died last year from the signature asbestos cancer, mesothelioma. According to AIHW spokesperson Justin Harvey: “The number of recorded mesothelioma diagnoses and deaths that occurred in 2018 are expected to increase as more notifications continue to be received by the registry.” While incidence rates varied across states, between 2015 and 2018, Western Australia had the highest age-standardized rate of mesothelioma: 4.4 cases per 100,000 people. See: Almost 700 Australians died from Mesothelioma in 2018.
 

Deadly Asbestos Legacy

Aug 28, 2019

For a decade, the leading cause of occupational deaths in the Canadian Province of Saskatchewan has been exposure to asbestos. Between 2009 and 2018, mesothelioma and other asbestos-related lung diseases accounted for ~23% of the 388 fatalities recognized by the Saskatchewan Workers’ Compensation Board. Even though Canada has banned the use of asbestos, asbestos-containing material remains in many Saskatchewan homes and workplaces. To prevent future toxic exposures, WorkSafe Saskatchewan has launched a provincial awareness campaign to educate home owners and tradespeople about the hazards posed by asbestos. See: Asbestos exposure leading cause of work-related deaths in Saskatchewan.
 

Asbestos in Schools

Aug 28, 2019

Initiatives to remove asbestos roofing from schools in the town of Câmara de Gaia on Portugal’s north-west coast have resulted in work commencing on some premises with remediation at other schools being considered by the municipal council this week. The city has allocated €5.4 million for a phased three-year program which will not only remove the asbestos but also implement measures to reduce energy and heating costs in 33 schools. Mayor Eduardo Vítor Rodrigues highlighted the potential hazard posed to staff and schoolchildren by the degradation over time of asbestos-cement roofs. See: Câmara de Gaia aproveita obras em 33 escolas para remover amianto das coberturas [Câmara de Gaia takes advantage of works in 33 schools to remove asbestos from roofs].
 

Honeywell’s Asbestos Liabilities

Aug 28, 2019

The former Louisiana Attorney General Charles C. Foti has initiated an investigation of Honeywell International Inc. which on August 23, 2018 disclosed a $1,083 million underestimate of its asbestos-related liabilities. On October 19, 2018, the Securities and Exchange Commission announced that it was investigating Honeywell’s accounting practices for its asbestos-related liabilities as a result of which the company and some of its executives were sued in a securities class action lawsuit for allegedly failing to disclose material information. See: Honeywell Investigation Initiated by Former Louisiana Attorney General.
 

Asbestos Production in Zimbabwe

Aug 27, 2019

The company – Shabanie Mashaba Mines (SMM) – that operates Zimbabwe’s Mashaba chrysotile asbestos mine has announced plans to export raw asbestos fiber for the first time in a decade. According to media reports, the fiber had not been produced by mining but by processing of the mine’s tailings; between 1907 and 2007, asbestos mining at this site had produced 143 million tonnes of asbestos-containing waste. The first asbestos shipment which will be transported in a fortnight is destined for India. Meanwhile, work on revitalizing the asbestos mine is ongoing. The company said that within 3 years, production at the mine will be 75,000 tonnes/year. See: SMM to resume asbestos exports.
 

Medical Care for Asbestos Victims

Aug 27, 2019

On August 22, a hearing took place in Capivari regarding arrangements for the dispensation of funds to look after asbestos victims as per a court agreement with the former asbestos company Brasilit. Under discussion were the purchase of equipment and the operation of the diagnostic imaging center to be built next to the Santa Casa de Misericórdia de Capivari Hospital. Amongst those in attendance were representatives of the Capivari Asbestos Exposed Association, the Brazilian Asbestos Exposed Association and Rodrigo Proença, the Mayor of Capivari. See: Prefeito Rodrigo vai ao Ministério Público do Trabalho para tratar da criação do centro de diagnóstico por imagens [Mayor Rodrigo goes to the Labor Prosecutors’ Office to discuss the creation of the diagnostic imaging center].
 

Asbestos at the Supreme Court

Aug. 27, 2019

Mandatory monitoring of the Grand Court of Japan’s Supreme Court in October 2018 revealed illegal levels of airborne asbestos as a result of which use of the Court was suspended in February, 2019. During the construction of the Court, sprayed asbestos had been applied to large aluminium panels in this part of the building; an inspection of the premises a decade ago had confirmed the presence of the hazardous material. Japanese law stipulates measures to protect workers from toxic exposures including asbestos removal and disposal. With asbestos removal completed in July, the Grand Court will reopen in October, 2019. See: 最高裁大法廷にアスベスト、使用中止 実は10年前発覚 [Asbestos in the Supreme Court, discovered 10 years ago, results in court closure].
 

Asbestos on the Subway

Aug 27, 2019

A trade union official in Argentina has confirmed that five workers employed by Metrovías, the company which operates the Buenos Aires Metro, have been diagnosed with pleural plaques, a condition which indicated that they had been exposed to asbestos. All of the injured had worked at the Rancagua and Villa Urquiza workshops which were part of the underground line B subway operations; in total 200 people are employed at these premises. See: Al menos 5 trabajadores del subterráneo de Buenos Aires contaminados con asbestos [At least 5 subway workers in Buenos Aires contaminated with asbestos].
 

Asbestos Pollution in Russia

Aug 23, 2019

This article referenced below contrasts the high-profile electioneering activities in the Russian city of Chelyabinsk of Governor Alexei Texler with his negligence over complaints regarding pollution created by a factory producing paronite – asbestos rubber sheeting for gaskets made with chrysotile asbestos – located in close proximity to a residential area. An action group led by Alexander Shmal had some success when production was suspended in January 2018 by the Sovetsky District Court of Chelyabinsk due to non-compliance with environmental standards. Within a month, production restarted under the aegis of a “new company” and behind a higher fence. See: Предвыборный пиар от Алексея Текслера [Election PR from Alexei Texler].
 

Asbestos Ban Upheld

Aug 23, 2019

On August 23, 2019 Federal Supreme Court Minister Ricardo Lewandowski denied a motion by the Sama Minerações (SAMA) asbestos mining company and upheld Brazil’s asbestos ban. As a result, the actions of the São Paulo State Dock Company that prevented SAMA from exporting asbestos through the port of Santos were deemed legitimate. According to Minister Lewandowski, the Supreme Court declared the unconstitutionality of Federal Law 9,055/1995, which allowed the exploitation of chrysotile asbestos. Consequently, the transport and export of chrysotile asbestos was also incompatible with Brazil’s constitution. See: Lewandowski nega liminar e mantém proibição de exportação de Amianto [Lewandowski denies injunction and upholds asbestos export ban].
 

Asbestos in Schools

Aug 23, 2019

Teachers remain disturbed by the presence of asbestos and the hazard it posed to students and staff in Clearwater Middle School, an East End school in Bermuda, according to Shannon James, head of the Bermuda Union of Teachers. Despite an announcement that the government had undertaken work to remove asbestos during the summer holidays, James said parents and staff remained concerned. According to Department of Education sources, an independent inspection had been ordered “to ensure the school is safe to occupy.” This issue had been ongoing since August 2017 when an inspection revealed the contamination. See: Teachers have ‘grave concerns’ about asbestos.
 

Mesothelioma Mortality in Brazil

Aug 23, 2019

A newly published academic paper considered measures for reducing the regional cancer incidence in the Americas and highlighted the role played by environmental and occupational exposures to toxins. One of the three case studies focused on the repercussions of exposures to asbestos in Brazil and examined steps taken to identify, monitor and address the problems caused, such as the establishment of a national collaborative research network and a national interdisciplinary epidemiological investigation. Data cited showed that mesothelioma mortality had tripled between the periods 1980-2000 (0.77 per million) and 2000-2012 (2.1 per million). See: Pollution in the Americas: a leading cause of disease burden and an opportunity for cancer prevention.
 

Asbestos at the White House

Aug. 22, 2019

It was announced on August 21, 2019 that asbestos removal operations at the White House have necessitated the relocation of the offices of several members of staff including Presidential daughter Ivanka Trump. Considering Donald Trump’s long-term love affair with the deadly dust and the refusal of his administration to prohibit its use – as has been done by all other G7 countries – this work would appear to be something of a waste of money. If asbestos removal is required at the White House, what about the thousands of US schools, hospitals and public buildings which contain it? See: Ivanka Trump, Kellyanne Conway, and other top Trump aides have had their White House offices relocated to remove potential asbestos.
 

An Unequal Trade

Aug 22, 2019

Just over 1% of the value of exports from Kazakhstan – the world’s third largest producer of chrysotile asbestos – to India in the first half of 2019 was for chrysotile asbestos. The bilateral trade is heavily weighted in Kazakhstan’s favour with its sales to India amounting to ~$623 million (twice as high as in 2018) and India’s exports worth just ~$136 million, 8.5% up on 2018. The imbalance in the trade and the fact that an acknowledged carcinogen such as asbestos is exchanged for tea and cell phones, warrants further scrutiny by civil society groups in India concerned about public and occupational health. See: Казахстан продает Индии нефть, а покупает чай и See: сотовые телефоны [Kazakhstan sells oil to India, and buys tea and cell phones].
 

Asbestos in the Built Environment

Aug 22, 2019

A Spanish Ombudsman has ordered regional authorities to prioritize work on remediating asbestos-containing material in public buildings following resolutions passed in June 2019 regarding toxic schools in Alicante and Valencia. The Ombudsman mandated that work plans be submitted in a timely fashion in order to confirm that the potential health hazards were being addressed expeditiously and stipulated that: risk assessments for each affected center be undertaken and “a rational and realistic plan of action for the [speedy] removal of asbestos, with a work schedule” be submitted. See: El Síndic exige a Educación que acelere la retirada del amianto de los colegios [The Síndic [Ombudsman] requires Education to accelerate the removal of asbestos from schools].
 

Chrysotile Asbestos and Laryngeal Cancer

Aug 22, 2019

The findings of US researchers contained in the paper referenced below, which was uploaded to the website of Modern Pathology on August 5, 2019 confirmed the link between exposure to chrysotile (white) asbestos and the occurrence of laryngeal cancer. The authors of the text concluded that: “The presence of asbestos fibers in the epithelial tissue surrounding laryngeal SCC [squamous cell carcinoma] in cases with a history of occupational asbestos exposure adds a key line of physical evidence implicating asbestos as an etiologic factor.” See: Chrysotile fibers in tissue adjacent to laryngeal squamous cell carcinoma in cases with a history of occupational asbestos exposure.
 

Asbestos: “A Wonderful Life”

Aug 20, 2019

The “puff piece” referenced below highlights the history of asbestos mining in the Urals, extolled the importance of the Uralasbest company which employs 7,000 of the 63,000 people living in the monotown of Asbest and described the operations needed to extract asbestos fiber from rock. The section which described the “anti-asbestos campaign” noted that the “fight for chrysotile” is “successfully” being waged around the world by half a million people – including representatives of asbestos processing and producing sectors, trade unions and scientific institutions. See: «Ураласбест»: путь хризотил-асбеста от руды до множества продуктов [Uralasbest: the path of chrysotile asbestos from ore to many products].
 

Asbestos on the Subway

Aug 20, 2019

A corporate asbestos legacy has made 2019 an “annus horribilis” for the company in charge of the Spanish capital’s underground system Metro de Madrid with: adverse court sentences in asbestos death cases and closures of stations due to asbestos discoveries. At what should have been a time of celebration – marking the company’s 100th anniversary – the Metro’s reputation is continuing to suffer constant blows from new asbestos discoveries and withdrawals of toxic rolling stock. See: El peor año de Metro de Madrid: amianto, estaciones cerradas y descontento de los viajeros [The worst year for Metro de Madrid: asbestos, closed stations and travellers discontent].
 

Asbestos Removal Regime: Update

Aug. 20, 2019

On July 24, 2019, France’s Council of State – a government body which advises the executive branch and the supreme court on legal, administrative matters and public policy, one of France’s “principal guarantees of the rule of law” – cancelled a decree stipulating skill certification criteria for asbestos removal specialists and the introduction of mandatory asbestos audits prior to the commencement of work which came into force on July 19, 2019. This policy reversal has caused uncertainty and concern throughout the asbestos removal industry. See: Amiante: le Conseil d'Etat perturbe l'entrée en vigueur de l'obligation de repérage avant travaux [Asbestos: the Council of State disrupts the enforcement of the obligation of identification before works].
 

Mandatory Promotion of Chrysotile

Aug 19, 2019

Rules introduced in Russia on July 1, 2019 outlawed the submission of construction work tenders which forbid the use of chrysotile and chrysotile-containing products. Extolling the multiplicity of advantages of modern chrysotile products – low cost, high degree of strength and safety, extremely resistant to mechanical stress, etc. – the article referenced below alleged that an international campaign to discredit chrysotile had convinced Russian consumers of the asbestos hazard and depressed national consumption. See: Борьба с суевериями: как скажется изменение правил аукционов на хризотиле? [Fighting superstitions: how will changing the rules of tendering affect chrysotile use?].
 

Asbestos in Schools

Aug 19, 2019

Politicians in Lorca, a city in southeastern Spain, have called on the Murcia Region’s Ministry of Education to take urgent action on the hazard posed by the widespread asbestos contamination of schools. According to Councillor Antonia Pérez there are 6,000 square meters of asbestos roofing and other toxic products such as pipes still present in schools built in or before the 1980s. Lorca’s Mayor is supporting these demands saying all educational centers should be asbestos-free by 2028, at the latest. See: Exigen “celeridad” para retirar el amianto de los centros educativos de Lorca [Demand for “speed” to remove asbestos from schools in Lorca].
 

Wittenoom: The End?

Aug 16, 2019

Legislation to deal with the hazard posed by the widespread asbestos contamination of the almost derelict asbestos mining town of Wittenoom, in the Pilbara region of Western Australia (WA), has had its 3rd reading in the WA Legislative Assembly. Bill 120 will allow the State to compulsory purchase the 17 tracts of land belonging to five people in preparation for a final shutdown of the town which remains a bizarre and deadly tourist attraction. According to supporting text of the legislation: “The State may only demolish the remaining buildings, close the townsite and commence managing the risks posed by the area once all of the freehold land in Wittenoom has been revested in the State.” See: Wittenoom Closure Bill 2019.
 

Unsafe Asbestos Removal

Aug 16, 2019

The Unión General de Trabajadores (UGT), a major Spanish trade union, has condemned exposures to asbestos experienced by members working at the Port of Malaga. Work to remediate asbestos-containing material from the port is ongoing and while asbestos operatives on site have protective clothing, UGT members and other workers have received neither protection nor notification regarding the specifics of the work being conducted in defiance of government regulations. The Labour Inspectorate has been informed of the “serious and imminent safety risk to workers' health.” See: UGT denuncia la exposición al amianto de funcionarios en el puerto de Málaga [UGT denounces the exposure to asbestos of officials in the port of Malaga].
 

Asbestos in the Built Environment

Aug 16, 2019

The answer to a Parliamentary question submitted to the Belgian Minister responsible for the government’s buildings agency revealed that in the last five years, 10% of government buildings had been subject to measures to deal with asbestos-containing material. In some of the 104 buildings affected, asbestos was removed; in others, airborne levels were monitored with no further action taken. Buildings on which asbestos remediation work was carried out included: police stations in Uccle and Etterbeek, the Monnaie theatre, the former justice palace in Antwerp, Ghent prison and a centre for asylum-seekers in Kapellen in Antwerp province. See: Federal government buildings still contain asbestos, says report.
 

Mesothelioma in South Africa

Aug 14, 2019

Liz Darlison MBE from Mesothelioma UK and Tracey Wood from the Glynnis Gale Foundation are on a fact-finding trip this week to South Africa to learn about mesothelioma treatment and care in the Northern Cape Province, the former location of several asbestos mines. In its heyday, the South African asbestos mining sector employed 20,000 miners, many of whom died from hazardous occupational exposures. During the trip, Ms. Darlison and Ms. Wood will meet with clinicians, patients and stakeholders in the Northern Cape to learn first-hand about the treatment available to patients with asbestos cancer. See: UK Cancer Nursing and Charity Team Visit South Africa to See Impact of Asbestos-related Cancer.
 

Asbestos Mining: Expose

Aug 14, 2019

Despite decades of denial, the deadly price paid by workers for the profits of the Brazilian asbestos mining industry is beginning to emerge. A PhD dissertation by Arthur Pires Amaral, which was featured in the article below, revealed the repercussions of occupational exposures to asbestos mine workers and their families at the now closed SAMA chrysotile asbestos mine in the city of Minaçu: “These former SAMA employees died without any medical assistance and financial compensation from the mining company, often being held responsible for the worsening of their poor health conditions,” wrote Amaral. See: Negação do adoecimento pelo Amianto [Denial of Asbestos Disease].
 

Asbestos Propaganda

Aug 14, 2019

Russian asbestos propaganda promoting the advantages of using chrysotile (white) asbestos in brake pads cited research findings by asbestos industry-commissioned scientists such as David Bernstein, Rick Rogers and Paul Smith, which discount the human health hazard posed by exposures to chrysotile asbestos; publications by Denis Paustenbach, an expert often used by defendants in US asbestos lawsuits, Craig Poland and Roger Duffin are cited to counter claims regarding the health hazard to mechanics of working with chrysotile brake pads. See: Борьба за хризотил: тормозные колодки на прицеле у ученых [The fight for chrysotile: brake pads - scientific update].
 

Asbestos Scheme in Jersey

Aug 14, 2019

A scheme – the Diffuse Mesothelioma Payment Scheme – which will be operational from October, 2019, has been announced by the Government of Jersey to compensate Jersey residents who contract mesothelioma, the signature cancer associated with exposure to asbestos. Eligible claimants could receive a one-off payment of up to £92,000 but amounts are dependent on the age of the applicant, with older people receiving less; a person aged 70 would be entitled to £17,961, claimants aged 77 or over would receive £14,334. This scheme is a result of campaigning by asbestos victims; a 2018 e-petition attracted over 1,300 signatures. See: Up to £92K for sufferers of asbestos disease in Jersey.
 

Asbestos in Schools

Aug 13, 2019

Between July 2018 and 2019, more than 1,000 schools in Flanders have applied to the Public Waste Agency of Flanders for funding to remove asbestos; to date, all of the applications received have been approved. According to data released, remediation work is being planned or has already been started at 250 educational premises. The Government of Flanders has designated the removal of asbestos from schools a high priority. See: Al meer dan duizend Vlaamse scholen deden aanvraag voor subsidies voor asbestverwijdering [More than a thousand Flemish schools have already applied for asbestos removal subsidies].
 

Environmental and Public Health Initiative

Aug 13, 2019

An outreach project entitled Diferentes Formas de Dizer Não – Experiências de  proibição; resistência e restrição a mineração [Different Ways to Say No – Prohibition experiences; mining resistance and restrictions] promoted by the Brazilian Environmental Justice Network in the City of Muriaé in the southeast of the State of Minas Gerais – east of Brazil’s former asbestos mining State (Goiás) – is being carried out between August 13 and 15, 2019 to consider the health, economic and environmental impact of mining operations and examine topical issues, such as demands by vested interests to recommence asbestos mining banned by a 2017 ruling by the Supreme Court. See: Poster for the Workshops.
 

Remediation of Asbestos Roofing

Aug 13, 2019

For over ten years, the Government of Rwanda has been committed to securing the removal of asbestos roofing from public and private buildings due to the known health hazard. Last week, Claver Gatete – the Minister for Infrastructure – announced that within a year the asbestos roofing on all public buildings would be removed. An asbestos expert predicted that this scheme would cost the government at least US $5,000,000. Because of the government’s positive attitude to the remediation, more asbestos removalists have been trained and more asbestos disposal sets designated. See: Govt. sets fresh deadline for asbestos removal.
 

New Asbestos Documentary

Aug 13, 2019

After decades of government denial, the price paid by Canadians for occupational asbestos exposures is emerging: thousands of deaths every year at a cost of billions of dollars for healthcare and lost productivity. The documentary “Town of Widows” was screened on the Canadian Broadcasting Channel on August 8, 2019 and focused on the consequences of asbestos exposures at the General Electric plant in Peterborough, Ontario where 225+ kilograms of asbestos were used every day. Former workers recounted the “snowstorm” of asbestos and the prolonged and complex fight for compensation faced by the injured and their families. See: The Facts about Asbestos Cancer and Compensation in Canada.
 

Asbestos Exports to Asia

Aug 12, 2019

An article on a Russian language website boasted of increasing sales of Russian chrysotile asbestos to countries in Asia, including Laos, China, India, Cambodia, Indonesia and Vietnam, due to its unparalleled chemical, physical and cost advantages. The short infomercial concluded that: “In the region where most of the world's population lives, there is always a high need for cheap, durable and reliable housing. That is why chrysotile is chosen for the construction of affordable and premium housing by both state-owned companies and private construction corporations.” See: Хризотил-асбест: импорт минерала в страны Юго-Восточной Азии неуклонно растет [Chrysotile asbestos: mineral imports by Southeast Asia growing steadily].
 

Health Advocates Support Asbestos Ban

Aug 12, 2019

During the 16th National Health Conference this month, a motion circulated by The Brazilian Association of the Asbestos-Exposed (ABREA) repudiating efforts by asbestos vested interests to force the Supreme Court to allow asbestos mining for export was strongly supported. The petition condemned Goiás State law 20.512/2019 which permitted chrysotile asbestos mining, processing and transport for export purposes in contravention of the Court’s 2017 ruling outlawing the asbestos industry. See: 16ªCNS: Abrea encaminha menção de repúdio sobre liberação da exportação do amianto ao STF [16th National Health Conference supported ABREA motion rejecting asbestos miners’ appeal to Supreme Court (for export exemption to national ban)].
 

Spain’s Asbestos Legacy

Aug 12, 2019

With 1,900 people dying every year from asbestos-related diseases in Spain, the hazard posed by toxic products within the national infrastructure is a threat to both occupational and public health. According to government figures, few cases of asbestos disease are recognized and even fewer compensated. The asbestos problem on the Madrid Metro was highlighted; in an industry where asbestos products were widely used, the company operating the capital’s subway denied the existence of this problem until 2018 and even now fails to address the problems caused by asbestos exposures to workers and commuters. See: Amianto en Metro Madrid: ¿cuánto tardará la muerte en ser una rutina? [Asbestos in Metro Madrid: how long will it take to address?].
 

MoD Asbestos Contamination

Aug 12, 2019

Although personnel from an MoD (Ministry of Defence) site in Ashchurch, Gloucestershire where asbestos had been found have been put on “indefinite leave”, 20+ guards are still patrolling the military site. According to trade union official Caren Evans: “Requiring MoD guards to continue to patrol a site which is otherwise shut down owing to asbestos contamination is alarming. Workers have to change their boots, clearly indicating a risk of further contamination. No worker should be placed in harm’s way. Changing boots does not protect workers from breathing in asbestos, which can have fatal consequences.” See: No response from MoD on worker asbestos exposure.
 

Record Mesothelioma Award

Aug 7, 2019

On August 6, a South Australia Employment Tribunal found Australia’s former asbestos giant James Hardie negligent for failing to take reasonable steps to warn of the hazards of exposures to their products in a case brought by home renovator and mesothelioma sufferer 42-year-old Mathew Werfel who was awarded $3 million in compensation. “The potential future liability for James Hardie is extraordinary,” said Werfel’s lawyer who affirmed that “James Hardie ought to be held liable in circumstances where persons have come into contact with their product in the years after they've been installed.” See: DIY handyman wins landmark $3 million asbestos compensation claim against James Hardie.
 

New Asbestos Regulations

Aug 7, 2019

Regulations which become enforceable from July 19, 2019 in France mandate that asbestos audits be carried out even before minor work such as replacing pipework or removing insulation could begin; failure to do so could incur financial penalties of up to a €18,000. The new law was passed to protect workers and the public from exposures which are responsible for the country’s second biggest epidemic of occupational diseases. It could, one expert predicted, take another 30 years to remove all asbestos from France. See: Le diagnostic amiante devient obligatoire même pour de menus travaux [Asbestos audit becomes mandatory even before smaller jobs].
 

The Lancet’s Asbestos Editorial

Aug 5, 2019

Citing the latest mesothelioma mortality data from the UK’s Health and Safety Executive, an editorial in the latest issue of The Lancet (August 2019, Vol. 20) – the world’s oldest and most prestigious medical journal – condemned national governments which had failed to protect human health by banning asbestos and warned that in nations such as the US, Russia, China and others which are still using or producing asbestos “we can only expect the incidence of asbestos-related mesothelioma and diseases… to continue to rise unless governments act to address this highly preventable cause of premature death.” See: Asbestos exposure: the dust cloud lingers.
 

Asbestos and Cancer

Aug 5, 2019

An August 1, 2019 article on the causation of cancer on the website of a regional newspaper in Belarus listed asbestos as the first of six potentially toxic hazards which should be avoided, and highlighted the everyday risk posed by breathing in asbestos fibers at home or at work. Such exposures could, over a period of time the article said, cause lung cancer. Asbestos remediation work should be undertaken by specialists to avoid the risk of inhalation. The other dangers listed were: X-rays, smog, alcohol, the sun and red meat. See: Названы повседневные вещи, которые могут вызвать онкологию [Everyday things that can cause cancer].
 

Asbestos Cancer Rate Increasing

Aug 5, 2019

A recently published analysis of statistics for malignant mesothelioma (MM) mortality in Greece during the period 2005-2015 has shown a significant increase compared to previous decades, with higher rates in individuals, both male and female, between 70 and 80 years old throughout most of the country. The authors speculate that “this increase is possibly due to the fact that the peak in asbestos production and use in Greece was in the mid 1990s… Based on these findings the MM epidemic in Greece has not yet peaked, therefore it is important to implement screening strategies for early MM detection.” See: Mesothelioma Mortality Rates in Greece for the Period 2005-2015 Is Increased Compared to Previous Decades.
 

Asbestos on the Railways

Aug 2, 2019

According to officials from the state-owned railway company in France – the SNCF (Société nationale des chemins de fer français) – since 1997 there has been no asbestos in the company’s rolling stock. Nevertheless, for six months this year (2019) workers engaged in the maintenance of freight cars at an SNCF workshop in Ambérieu-en-Bugey (Ain) received toxic occupational exposures. As a result of the contamination, work on suspect carriages was suspended; on July 29, workers were told that if full production was not resumed at the workshop, the facility would be closed. See: Vers une « affaire amiante » à la SNCF [The “asbestos affair” at SNCF].
 

Asbestos at Nissan Plant

Aug 2, 2019

A Barcelona Court has issued the first verdict against Nissan for the asbestos death of a former employee, a maintenance technician, from one of its plants in Barcelona who had been occupationally exposed to asbestos in brake pads/discs and printing presses, as a result of which he died of mesothelioma in 2014. The Court found the company to be negligent for failing to prevent toxic occupational exposures to occur. The case was brought by the widow of the deceased. See: Primera sentencia que señala al amianto como causa de muerte de un extrabajador de Nissan [First sentence that points to asbestos as the cause of death of a Nissan former worker].
 

On the Road to an Asbestos Ban

Aug 2, 2019

A new article on the website of Australia’s Union Aid Abroad highlighted the importance of the June 28, 2019 launch of the Cambodian National Asbestos Profile, a useful resource for decision-makers, workers and consumers working to safeguard health and safety by identifying the dangers posed by asbestos exposures in workplaces and communities in preparation for the implementation of national prohibitions. Speaking at the launch, Mr. Leng Tong, Advisor to the Ministry of Labor and Employment Training, said: “Cambodia is still allowing asbestos use because we do not have tools for checking this substance, but in the future, Cambodia will prepare to erase asbestos, to implement an asbestos ban.” See: Fight to Ban Asbestos Boosted in Cambodia.
 

Supreme Court Victory

Jul 30, 2019

On July 29, 2019, the Supreme Court issued a verdict granting public access to court documents in a case involving a British subsidiary of a former asbestos multinational. The judgment in the case of Cape Intermediate Holdings Ltd v Dring (for and on behalf of Asbestos Victims Support Groups Forum UK) can be accessed at Cape Intermediate Holdings v Dring Judgment and a press summary at Press Summary. In lead judgment, Lady Hale wrote: “The default position should be to grant access to documents placed before a judge and referred to by a party at trial unless there was a good reason not to do so.” See: Supreme Court ruling grants public access to court documents.
 

Turkey’s Asbestos Disaster

Jul 30, 2019

Plans announced by Gürkan Akgün, Head of the Department of Reconstruction and Urbanism in Istanbul, have been attacked by environmentalists on multiple grounds including the hazard posed by demolition of asbestos-containing buildings. According to researcher, Asli Odman urban transformation schemes which started in 2011 in Turkey spread asbestos throughout the country due to failures to remediate buildings prior to demolition or renovation. “Asbestos is the Chernobyl of the future,” she said. See: Gürkan Akgün: Taksim için yakın zamanda açıklama yapılacak [Gurkan Akgun: [plans for?] Taksim will be announced soon].
 

Toxic Cosmetics Recalled

Jul 30, 2019

On July 27, 2019, Taiwan’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA) ordered recalls of two types of cosmetic products containing asbestos which had been manufactured by the Tainan-based TJ Group. Following alarms raised over the toxic products by the authorities in the US and Canada, the FDA inspected the company’s factory in Tainan and tested nine samples collected from the plant. The products which were found to contain asbestos were: City Color Contour Palette and Contour Palette 2 Bronze Highlight. See: Cosmetic products ordered off shelves over asbestos.
 

Asbestos-free Brakes Recommended

Jul 29, 2019

An article on a Russian news portal recommended the use of asbestos-free brake pads as replacement parts for motor vehicles, saying that the alternative products containing asbestos were harmful to human health as well as the environment. Asbestos-free brake pads made with polymers, mineral or organic fibers were, the author reported, widely sold in EU countries which have banned asbestos and were becoming more popular in Russia. Russia is the world’s leading supplier of asbestos fiber and Russian vested interests lead a multi-lingual and well-financed campaign to promote asbestos sales around the world. See: Почему лучше отказаться от асбестовых тормозных колодок [Why it is better to refuse asbestos brake pads].
 

Lung Cancer Verdict

Jul 29, 2019

A court in Pamplona handed down a judgment ordering the former employer of MA, who died of lung cancer in 2017, to compensate the deceased’s family, finding that “his death was due to cancer caused by exposure to asbestos.” MA had started work for the Super Ser company in 1964 and continued to work there for 22 years during which time the company changed name on multiple occasions; it is now: BSH Electrodomésticos España SA). Throughout his employ, he had worked with asbestos with no knowledge of the hazards. See: Condenan a una empresa a indemnizar a las hijas de una trabajadora navarra fallecida por el Amianto [Company has to compensate the daughters of a worker from Navarra who died because of asbestos].
 

Colombia Bans Asbestos

Jul 29 2019

An article on the website of the European Trade Union Institute reviewed the tortuous road to the asbestos ban achieved this summer in Colombia, highlighting the role played by trade unionists, asbestos victims and environmental campaigners in the face of fierce opposition from asbestos vested interests, employers and right-wing politicians. The author Laurent Vogel reviewed the involvement in this saga of the Swiss-Belgian asbestos multinational: Eternit which had, since 1942, played a pivotal role