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International Ban Asbestos Secretariat

International Ban Asbestos Secretariat

lka@btinternet.com

 

News text:

Aug 29, 2016

In the aftermath of the devastating earthquake which hit central Italy last week, news has been circulating of environmental asbestos contamination. One expert said: “Unfortunately, there is, as in all seismic events, a risk [from asbestos] … in homes and industrial buildings built in the second half of the twentieth century.” To protect emergency responders, dust suppression methods must be used and appropriate breathing equipment provided to avoid inhalation of asbestos fibers. See: Terremoto, dopo la morte e il dolore, l'incubo dell'amianto [Earthquake, after the death and pain, the asbestos nightmare].

Aug 29, 2016

In a letter sent last week to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), California Senator Barbara Boxer urged that action on asbestos be taken as a priority under the tighter chemical regulations enacted this Summer. In her correspondence to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, Boxer wrote: “Now that the impediments in the original TSCA [Toxic Substances Control Act] law are gone, completing the job started by EPA in 1989 would send a strong signal that the new law can be effective in addressing the most dangerous chemicals in commerce.” Asbestos consumption in the US remains around 400 tons a year. See: Dem senator pushes EPA on asbestos regulations.

Aug 29, 2016

On August 25, 2016 a session entitled: Future Challenges for Asbestos Policy in Thailand took place in Bangkok. This event was organized by The Health Consumer Protection Program from Chulalongkorn University and was attended by academics, government officials and representatives of civil society. The purpose of the meeting was to share information about the asbestos situation in Japan and Thailand with a particular focus on issues relating to the construction and demolition industries and natural disasters. Japanese Professor Kasuhiko Ishihara – co-author of the book “Asbestos Disaster” – made the keynote presentation. See: Conference Agenda and photograph of participants.

Aug 26, 2016

Five years after asbestos mining operations ceased at the infamous Jeffrey Mine in Asbestos, Quebec, the town is looking to diversify its economy with government funding. In an interview, Mayor H. Grimard was optimistic, saying that: “There are several projects on the table… and others are coming.” From the comments in the article referenced below, it seems that at least some of the town’s 7,000 residents remain in denial about the hazards from environmental contamination caused by the mining with talk of tourist projects and magnesium mining of the deadly asbestos tailings. See: Five years after mine closure, Asbestos, Que., seeking new identity.

Aug 26, 2016

On August 25, 2016 officials from the Andalusian educational authority met with parents of children attending the asbestos-containing CEIP José Calderón Campanillas primary school in Malaga to explain an asbestos management and remediation plan under which asbestos will be removed from the premises with minimal risk and disruption to children and staff. An asbestos audit of the school is currently under preparation. A total of €60 million has been allocated to remove asbestos from schools in Andalusia by 2022; in Malaga alone there are 26 schools which contain asbestos. See: La retirada del amianto en el CEIP [Asbestos removal in the CEIP].

Aug 25, 2016

On October 6 and 7, 2016, Brazil’s Ministry of Labor and the Inter-Union Department of Studies and Research of Health and Work Environments will promote an international seminar entitled “Asbestos: A Socio-Legal Approach.” The event, which is being paid for by penalties levied on São Paulo companies, will highlight the global consensus that asbestos exposures to human beings can cause fatal diseases, in a country which is now the world’s 3rd biggest asbestos supplier. See: Campinas terá seminário internacional sobre amianto, produto banido em 66 países [Campinas will hold international seminar on asbestos, a substance banned in 66 countries].

Aug 24, 2016

Workers have once again been on Australia’s asbestos frontline. SafeWork SA is now investigating their discovery of asbestos in equipment imported from China over the past year. According to the Australian Workers Union (AWU), 8 contaminated heat exchanger tubes, each about the size of a bus, were found at South Australia’s Port Pirie's Nyrstar smelter redevelopment. Commenting on the situation, AMU’s Peter Lamps said: “We really need to understand how and why a contractor is able to land this contaminated product into the state… and it's always workers that seem to identify the contamination.” See; Asbestos found in Chinese-made equipment for SA's Port Pirie smelter redevelopment.

Aug 24, 2016

A new commentary estimates that it could take 200 years for Poland to make good on the government’s pledge to make the country asbestos free, despite a deadline set at 2032. The removal of 6.6% of the country’s asbestos products has taken 43% of the funds allocated for the entire project according to an audit just released. Either this project has been totally mismanaged, says one critic, or the budget allocation was woefully inadequate. Accurate data on the location of and amounts of asbestos-containing material is lacking and confusion exists over who is responsible for asbestos remediation, with disputes between property owners and government authorities. See: Azbest wiecznie żywy [Asbestos eternally alive].

Aug 24, 2016

On August 15, 2016, a spokesperson for the Center for Asbestos Related Disease in Libby, Montana announced preliminary data from the six-year-long Libby Epidemiology Research Program on the effects of asbestos exposure on the immune system, which provided substantial evidence of a link between exposures to amphibole asbestos in Libby and an elevated risk of autoimmune diseases and disorders such as lupus, scleroderma, and rheumatoid arthritis. “There may be,” Dusti Thompson said “as much as a 10-fold increase in risk…” See: CARD Clinic study: asbestos exposure linked to autoimmune diseases.

Aug 23, 2016

The issue of asbestos in schools is being confronted by municipalities on Tahiti. Although asbestos was banned in France in 1999, its use was only outlawed in French Polynesia in 2011. As a result, there are still many buildings which contain asbestos, including many schools. Some remediation has been undertaken; however, contamination in schools and in the soil on which they are built remain an issue. The school in Papara has been closed for 3 years; specialists have now been hired to remove the asbestos. During the closure, children have been studying at other premises. See: Amiante dans les écoles: des mairies prennent le problème à bras-le-corps [Asbestos in schools: town hall confronts the problem].

Aug 23, 2016

On September 10, 2016, the people of Casale Monferrato will inaugurate a green space on the former site of the notorious Eternit asbestos factory. The park, the name of which is Eternot, symbolizes the battle for justice, reclamation and research for a community which has been devastated by asbestos injuries and deaths for several decades. The ceremony will be attended by Karmenu Vella, European Commissioner for the Environment, and Italian Ministers Gian Luca Galletti and Andrea Orlando. Artwork donated by the local victims’ group which pays tribute to activist Romana Pavesi will also be unveiled. See: Amianto, Casale il 10/9 inaugura Eternot [Asbestos, Casale on 10/9 inaugurates Eternot Park].

Aug 22, 2016

Canada’s first analysis of the economic burden caused by asbestos exposures revealed that the financial impact of 427 mesothelioma cases and 1,904 lung cancer cases diagnosed in 2011 was C$1.9 billion. This figure was quoted in a recent study by the Institute for Work & Health which examined the costs of occupational asbestos diseases and illnesses caused by secondary exposures to family members: “80% of the costs are attributed to health-related quality-of-life losses. Health care and other direct costs account for 11%; loss of productivity and other indirect costs account for the remaining 9%.” See: New cases of mesothelioma and asbestos-related lung cancer in one year cost $1.9B.

Aug 21, 2016

Veteran asbestos watcher Kathleen Ruff from RightonCanada reports that Canada’s Minister of Health Jane Philpott is working with cabinet colleagues to implement a new national asbestos policy. Following a conversation this summer with the Minister, Ruff said “an upcoming announcement regarding the asbestos policy of the new Trudeau government” is expected during the next session of Parliament which commences on September 19. Throughout the 20th century, Canada supplied the majority of asbestos consumed around the world and asbestos vested interests in Quebec and elsewhere had powerful support from national agencies and stakeholder groups. See: Encouraging news on Canada and asbestos.

Aug 21, 2016

The need for palliative care for mesothelioma sufferers was highlighted by an analysis of data from patients admitted to a home palliative care program in Italy. Three quarters of the mesothelioma patients had painful symptoms, with 20 reporting moderate and severe pain despite treatment with medium-high doses of opioids. The most frequent symptoms reported were pain, weakness, poor appetite, poor well-being and dyspnea; the principal site of pain was the chest. The study concludes that palliative care should be integrated at an early stage into the care of all these patients. See: Symptom Burden in mesothelioma patients admitted to home palliative care.

Aug 21, 2016

Research by US scientists has raised concerns about hazards from asbestos disposed at capped landfill sites. According to lead researcher Associate Professor Jane Willenbring: “Asbestos gets coated with a very common substance that makes it easier to move…If you have water with organic matter next to the asbestos waste piles, such as a stream, you then have a pathway from the waste pile and possibly to human inhalation.” It is the current practice in the US and other countries for asbestos waste piles to be capped with soil to avoid hazardous human exposures; this practice may need rethinking. See: New study challenges assumption of asbestos’ ability to move in soil.

Aug 21, 2016

Earlier this month (August 2016), campaigners in Indonesia held a two-day meeting in Denpasar, Bali to discuss efforts by local government to improve the conditions for people living in the island’s slums. On the agenda was the issue of asbestos which is used as roofing material in Indonesia; according to data cited, Indonesia is the world’s 5th largest importer of asbestos. This meeting was organized by BaliFokus, a non-governmental organization, which has been instrumental in a campaign to raise awareness of the asbestos hazard in Indonesia, a country whose constitution guarantees citizens the right to live in a healthy environment. See: Asbestos-free Neighborhoods.

Aug 23, 2016

This article by Canadian ban asbestos campaigner and human rights activist Kathleen Ruff puts into context the news that consultations are ongoing regarding a change in Canada’s asbestos policy which could soon make the use, import and sale of asbestos-containing products illegal. According to an adviser to Health Minister Dr. Jane Philpott, members of the Trudeau Government are working on drafting a new asbestos policy for Canada, which, it is expected, will, after more than a 100 years, end the country’s love affair with asbestos. Ruff hopes that measures to ban asbestos and protect Canadians from hazardous exposures will be announced when Parliament reconvenes in September 2016. [Read full article]

Aug 22, 2016

Although asbestos has been banned from ships since July 2002, it is still found in over 90% of ships. It is disturbing to learn, from this article by John Chillingworth, that asbestos has been found in over 80% of new ships, even though the shipbuilders have declared the ships to be asbestos free. Chillingworth’s company has found as much as 15% asbestos in materials that have been declared asbestos free in China. Shipyard declarations, which are accepted by the authorities, are often inaccurate as a result of which hazardous exposures continue to occur aboard vessels. Recommendations are made by the author as to how shipowners might take action to remedy this dangerous situation. [Read full article]

Aug 15, 2016

Responding to concerns raised by a coalition of civil society groups disturbed about the possibility of UK imports of asbestos-containing building materials from China, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has taken preliminary action to ascertain whether or not the products used and practises followed by Yuanda (UK) Co. Ltd. are in compliance with national legislation. Welcoming the steps taken by the HSE, which are detailed in an email dated August 11, 2016, asbestos victims, trade unionists and campaigners have reiterated the need for the HSE to act decisively to ensure that British workers and members of the public are not exposed to illegal asbestos imports. [Read full article]

Aug 4, 2016

Shankar Dattaray Jog, a former worker at a factory owned by the British asbestos conglomerate Turner & Newall Ltd. in Mumbai, India, died from asbestos cancer on July 19, 2016. Mr. Jog had been employed at the Hindustan Ferodo brake linings factory for 40 years. By the time he retired in 2001, he had risen to the position of health inspector. While it is believed that others from Hindustan Ferodo could have contracted mesothelioma, their names are not known. Mr. Jog was adamant that the case against his former employer proceed in order to provide support for his family after he was gone and hope for others who succumb to asbestos illnesses after decades of dedicated service. [Read full article]

Aug 2, 2016

On July 21, 2016, the news finally came. Italy’s Constitutional Court issued its ruling in the long-running battle to achieve justice for Italy’s asbestos victims. The verdict gave the green light for a second round of legal proceedings (Eternit BIS) against Swiss billionaire Stephan Schmidheiny, former owner of the Swiss Eternit asbestos group. The case will now be returned to the Turin court where an investigating magistrate will consider the Public Prosecutors’ accusations regarding hundreds of asbestos deaths in Casale Monferrato and other Italian cities. After decades of broken promises and shattered expectations, asbestos victims and the groups representing them have been given hope that justice will be done. [Read full article]

Jul 27, 2016

A review of the 100th issue of the British Asbestos Newsletter (BAN), a quarterly periodical which has for over 25 years chronicled a wide range of UK asbestos developments, has been undertaken by Australian Professor Jock McCulloch, author of key asbestos books including: Defending the Indefensible and Asbestos – It’s Human Cost. Having discussed some of the subjects covered in the 100 issues of the BAN, McCulloch concludes: “The Newsletter has been an important forum for discussion and a reliable source of information… it has also helped to bring together the disparate groups which make up the ban asbestos front.” The commemorative edition should, he said, be celebrated. [Read full article]

Jul 27, 2016

A coalition of UK groups representing asbestos victims, trade unionists, medical professionals and health and safety campaigners have today issued a press release questioning whether Yuanda (UK) Co. Ltd., a Chinese-owned company, is illegally importing asbestos-containing building materials into the UK. Yuanda UK is part of the same industrial conglomerate as Yuanda Australia; the latter company is being investigated over the import and use of asbestos-containing products at construction sites throughout Australia. UK construction workers already face a higher risk of contracting asbestos diseases than most other workers so any increase in exposure to asbestos products would be of particular danger to them. [Read full article]

July 6, 2016

From Glasgow to Portsmouth, from Swansea to Gateshead via the Isle of Man, Sheffield and Birmingham, events were held throughout the UK on July 1, 2016 to observe Action Mesothelioma Day 2016. The extent and diversity of the activities marking the 11th national mesothelioma day underscored the growth in support for those suffering from a supposedly “rare” disease which nevertheless caused 7,398 deaths between 2011 and 2013. With an increasing number of events and extensive media coverage, it is evident that support for this day of action is growing stronger every year as is the determination of advocates to achieve medical progress and substantive breakthroughs for all the injured. [Read full article]

Jun 21, 2016

Children and staff from six local schools took part in an asbestos awareness workshop organized by a local campaigning body, the Asbestos Interest Group (AIG), in collaboration with partnering organizations on South Africa’s Youth Day (June 16). Feedback from participants has been positive with children having enjoyed meeting up with pupils from other schools to learn about the impact of asbestos contamination on their towns. A report written by AIG’s Prudence Kotoloane is informative as well as inspiring containing details of measures undertaken to keep children “awake and energetic.” The International Ban Asbestos Secretariat was proud to be a co-sponsor of this and other events organized by the AIG. [Read full article]

Jun 20, 2016

A high incidence of asbestos-related disease has been recorded amongst military and civilian workforces at shipyards in England, Scotland, Italy, Japan, the U.S. and other countries. In August 1945, Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Factories A. W. Garrett was so concerned about the consequences of asbestos use in the shipbuilding and ship repairing industries that he wrote a letter to industry stakeholders in which he stated: “while asbestos dust may not have any apparent effects at first, experience shows that, particularly if the workers are exposed to the dust in substantial concentrations, serious results are apt to develop later.” The contents of Garrett’s letter were shared with vested interests in the UK and abroad. [Read full article]

Jun 13, 2016

A significant landmark has been reached with the distribution this month of the 100th issue of the British Asbestos Newsletter, a publication which has over the last 25 years become a national resource for asbestos victims, campaigners, legal experts, professionals and concerned citizens. The 24 chapters in the commemorative edition, which have been authored by leading stakeholders amongst the UK community of asbestos activists, highlight the efforts that have been made to secure the human and legal rights of asbestos victims and signpost measures for achieving future victories. The image on the cover has been designed by world renowned artist Conrad Atkinson. [Read full article]

May 25, 2016

Nepal is the first country in South Asia to ban the import, sale, distribution and use of all forms of asbestos and asbestos-containing products with the exception of asbestos-containing brake shoes and clutch plates. Although the prohibitions came into force on June 20, 2015, government data shows that the import of banned asbestos and asbestos-containing products continues. Attempts by a civil society organization in Nepal – the Center for Public Health and Environmental Development – to monitor the situation and implement measures to enforce these regulations are discussed in this article. [Read full article]

Apr 30, 2016

On April 28, 2016, the Hartlepool Trades Union Council joined with other labor federations, trade unions and campaigning groups around the world to commemorate International Workers Memorial Day (IWMD). Despite a cold wind blowing in off the North Sea, the activities were informative, productive and reinvigorating. With wreath laying ceremonies for students and the public, a health and safety seminar, a dedication service at Christchurch, the premiere of a film for IWMD 2016 and a buffet lunch, participants had a multitude of opportunities to learn and interact with the experts and each other. During speeches, discussions and tributes, we remembered the dead and pledged to fight for the living. [Read full article]

Apr 26, 2016

A press release issued by groups campaigning to end the use of asbestos in Asia details discussions which took place in Dhaka, Bangladesh on April 23, 2016. The Strategy Meeting on Asbestos 2016 was hosted by the following groups: Bangladesh Ban Asbestos Network (B-BAN), Asian Ban Asbestos Network (A-BAN) and the Asia Monitor Resource Centre (AMRC). The purpose of the gathering was to “have focused discussions on building strategies nationally with the sub-region and work on coordinated activities in South Asia.” B-BAN’s Repon Chowdhury called on the government to ban asbestos straightaway and develop a national roadmap to confront the country’s asbestos legacy. [Read full article]

Apr 26, 2016

On April 20, 2016, the inaugural meeting of the Asbestos Sub-Committee of Japan’s Environment Ministry’s Central Environment Council took place in Tokyo. On the agenda was a review of government relief schemes which, since 2006, have paid compensation to asbestos victims not covered by workers’ compensation schemes. Speakers representing asbestos victims, who described the situation facing people with non-occupational asbestos exposure as inequitable and unjust, called for equal treatment for all those who had been affected. After the session, a press conference took place during which calls were made for political action to remedy the injustices which persisted. [Read full article]

Apr 26, 2016

On April 6, 2016 a community campaigning body – the Asbestos Interest Group – held an information sharing session for local people in the former South African mining town of Kuruman. Amongst the expert speakers were specialists in the fields of occupational health and oncology who focused on issues of particular relevance to this at-risk community, including the effects of environmental asbestos exposure on health, the monitoring of and treatment for asbestos cancer and the importance of family and community support for the injured. The sessions concluded with a candle lighting ceremony to remember those whose lives had been lost to asbestos-related diseases. [Read full article]

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Demonstration in Woluwe Park, Brussels, 2006

Under cloudy skies, members of Belgian and French Asbestos Victims' Associations from Dunkirk and Bourgogne marched side-by-side in the third annual demonstration organized by ABEVA, the Belgian Association of Asbestos Victims. Erik Jonckheere, ABEVA's Co-chairman, condemned the government which still refuses to recognize the plight of the asbestos injured.

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Asbestos Trade Data (2014)

Top Five Producers (tonnes):
   Russia1,100,000
   China400,000
   Brazil284,000
   Kazakhstan240,000
   India270
 Top Five Users
(tonnes):
   Russia608,000
   China507,000
   India379,000
   Brazil154,000
   Kazakhstan68,000