|►UK: Mesothelioma Payout Increased|
|Hong Kong: Hong Kong Asbestos Protest|
|India: No Asbestos-Cement Cartel?|
|USA: Asbestos Consumption Continues|
|China: Hong Kong’s New Asbestos Trains?|
|New Zealand: Asbestos Found in Trains|
Mar 6, 2014
During the protracted consultation process over the UK’s Mesothelioma Bill, the original concept was shrunk from one which would establishes a fund of last resort for all sufferers of asbestos-related diseases to one which would pay a proportion of compensation to mesothelioma claimants diagnosed after a 2012 deadline. The proportion had been set at 75% of average civil damages. Today, a letter released by Tracey Crouch MP from Minister Mike Penning MP confirms that this figure has been increased to 80%. This means that successful applicants will receive an average of £123,000 before benefit recovery. See: Letter from Minister of State Mike Penning.
Mar 6, 2014
The discovery this week that the Hong Kong Mass Transit Railway (MTR) had purchased the same type of trains from a Chinese manufacturer that have been found to be contaminated with asbestos in New Zealand has led to calls for immediate action. On March 5, the “No More Asbestos in Hong Kong Alliance” held a silent protest in train stations and in train carriages to raise awareness of the potential health hazard for MTR staff as well as members of the public. A letter listing the protesters’ requests was submitted at the MTR headquarters. See: No More Asbestos in Hong Kong Alliance Press Release.
Mar 6, 2014
On February 11, 2014, the Competition Commission of India (CCI) dismissed charges related to the existence of an asbestos-cement cartel operated by the Asbestos Cement Products Manufacturers Association(ACPMA) (see: CCI ruling). The watchdog said that “there is no evidence on record to suggest cartelisation by ACS manufacturers.” The CCI had been tasked with this investigation in late 2012 by the Serious Fraud Investigation Office. According to the 15-page ruling, the “the role of ACPMA is to … to promote the use of ACS and fight against anti-asbestos lobbies...” See: CCI finds no cartelisation in asbestos cement products mkt.
Mar 5, 2014
A 199-page document published by the United States Geological Survey has revealed that although U.S. consumption of chrysotile asbestos dropped by 46% in 2013, it is likely that annual usage will continue at around 1,000 tonnes for the foreseeable future. The majority of the asbestos used (67%) was for the production of chloralkali; 30% was for the production of roofing materials with 3% going into unknown applications. In 2012 and 2013 worldwide mining of asbestos produced 1.97 and 1.94 million tonnes, respectively, with Russian annual output amounting to around 1 million tonnes. See: U.S. Mineral Commodity Summaries 2014.
Mar 5, 2014
From 2008 to 2012, the Hong Kong Mass Transit Railway (MTR) bought 22 trains from the Changchun Railway Vehicles Co., Ltd, part of the China North Locomotive and Rolling Stock Industry Corporation. Although the MTR stipulated that no asbestos be used, the same series of China-made vehicles imported to New Zealand was recently found to be contaminated with asbestos. The Hong Kong Workers’ Health Centre is urging that a thorough examination of the suspected trains is undertaken in order to protect the health of staff and the public. See: Asbestos scare prompts checks on China-made trains.
Feb 28, 2014
KiwiRail has pulled 40 freight trains off-line after asbestos was discovered in resin from one of the locomotives. The resin was present in a soundproofing compound used on the DL locomotives manufactured in China. Half of them were imported to New Zealand four years ago and the other half in 2013. In the purchase contract, KiwiRail had stipulated that the trains be produced without asbestos or other toxic materials. Following the asbestos scandal over Chinese-manufactured locomotives in Australia last year, KiwiRail company sought and was given assurances that the locomotives were asbestos-free. See: Trains pulled in asbestos shock.
Feb 28, 2014
Managers at Agusta Westland, a company that manufactured helicopters from the 1990s to 2013, are being investigated by the public prosecutor’s office in Turin over charges of negligent disaster for failing to issue warnings regarding the presence of asbestos in their helicopters. Asbestos had been used in gaskets, brake pads, wheels and conduits. Although Agusta had informed government officials in 1996 about this issue, the information provided was incomplete; a comprehensive list of the contaminated material was only made available in September 2013. See: “Amianto negli elicotteri” Indagati i vertici di Agusta [“Asbestos in helicopters” Suspects at Agusta Westland].
Feb 25, 2014
The winter 2014 issue of the British Asbestos Newsletter is now available online. The leading article in Issue 93, Asbestos in the UK: Then and Now quantifies the amount of asbestos used in the UK and the repercussions that consumption of this carcinogenic substance has had. The feature highlights the epidemic of asbestos-related diseases now occurring: “Annually, nearly three times as many Britons die from asbestos-related diseases as from road traffic accidents.” Other articles discuss the Mesothelioma Bill and the campaign to address the asbestos-contamination of UK schools. See: British Asbestos Newsletter, Issue 93.
Feb 25, 2014
Gauteng, the smallest of South Africa’s nine provinces, announced plans on February 25 to get rid of all asbestos-containing roofing materials. The authorities will finance the removal and replacement work for poor people under a new multi-million rand program to eliminate the health hazard posed by exposure to asbestos. Public health activists are encouraging the government to also remove asbestos-containing gutters and downpipes, to ensure that once removed the contaminated material is properly disposed of and not resold and to mandate precautions for workers removing the contaminated material. See: Gauteng to be rid of all asbestos roofing.
Feb 24, 2014
It’s official! According to a letter received from the Hong Kong Environmental Protection Department, an asbestos ban – which is being implemented under the Air Pollution Control (Amendment) Ordinance 2014 – will take effect on April 4, 2014. The letter states that the “import, transshipment, supply and use of all forms of asbestos and asbestos containing materials will be banned except goods in transit and registered proprietary Chinese medicine.” This action has resulted from a concerted campaign by grassroots ban asbestos activists in Hong Kong – congratulations to them all! See: EPD Guidelines & References – Banning Asbestos.
Feb 24, 2014
A technique has been developed by Toronto-based physicians to extend survival time for mesothelioma patients. According to an article published today in a Canadian newspaper, 74-year old mesothelioma patient Man Hong Chan has been “cured” of this aggressive and fatal cancer. Under the new protocol, patients are given radiation before surgery instead of after it to ensure that any cancer cells left are not viable; 3-year survival rates have more than doubled. Quick treatment appears to be the key to success; Chan underwent radiation therapy and surgery within a month of his diagnosis. See: Revolutionary Toronto cancer treatment gives asbestos victims new life.
Feb 24, 2014
A bill lodged by the Holyrood Government on February 21 – The Recovery of Medical Costs for Asbestos Diseases (Scotland) Bill – could recover £20 million for the medical treatment of Scottish patients with asbestos-related diseases from employers and insurers. The bill was launched at a press conference by Clydeside Action on Asbestos and Scottish Nationalist MSP Stuart McMillan. Similar Welsh legislation passed last year is facing robust legal challenges from the insurance industry. Experts believe that due to Scotland’s greater devolved powers, similar challenges would not be mounted. See: CAA Press Release: New Asbestos Law will Recover Millions for the NHS in Scotland.
Feb 19, 2014
Concerns over lung function abnormalities amongst workers at power stations led to a case heard last month by the Supreme Court (SC). The SC directed high courts to ascertain levels of healthcare provided to individuals at coal-fired thermal power plants in India. Pursuant to these instructions, the Gujarat high court has demanded that authorities supervising the State’s 11 power units submit documentation detailing their health and safety regimes. High levels of asbestosis and other asbestos-related conditions have been found amongst power station workers. See: Workers' health: Gujarat high court notice to 11 power units.
Feb 19, 2014
The Building and Woodworkers International (BWI), a global union federation representing 12 million members in the Building, Building Materials, Wood, Forestry and Allied sectors announced its plans this week to hold an International Conference on Asbestos in Vienna, Austria on May 6 and 7, 2014 in collaboration with the Industriall Global Union, the Austrian trade Union GBH and the International Ban Asbestos Secretariat. The event will progress trade union efforts to ban the future use of asbestos, a potent threat to all those working in the construction sector. See: International Conference on Asbestos.
Feb 19, 2014
Inhabitants of asbestos-contaminated housing units in an Algerian district called Hamma Bouziane report high levels of ill health which, they believe, comes from living in properties constructed in 1982 with asbestos building products. Despite medical advice warning of the dangers to residents, no action has been taken by the health authorities to remedy the situation according to an article written by journalist Yousra Salem. Asbestos exposures to local people, who have asked to be rehoused to safer properties, remain a daily occurrence. See: Des familles dans des bâtisses en amiante depuis 1982 [Families in asbestos buildings since 1982].
Feb 13, 2014
At the end of the International Conference on Monitoring and Surveillance of Asbestos-Related Diseases in Espoo, Finland, a press release was issued calling for a global asbestos ban. Speaking on behalf of the conference organizers, the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, Dr. Panu Oksa said: “There is no safe use of asbestos.” Dr. Ken Takahashi was categorical that “Asbestos-related deaths are preventable by banning the use of asbestos, as WHO recommends.” An increase in asbestos-related mortality is being observed in developing countries where knowledge is lacking about the hazards of exposure. See: Only a total ban of asbestos will end asbestos related deaths.
Mar 6, 2014
The death has been announced of Hyung-Sik Choi who lost his battle against the asbestos cancer mesothelioma in Korea earlier this week. It is believed that the hazardous environmental exposures to asbestos which led to Mr. Choi’s death took place during urban reconstruction projects carried out in the 1980s. Since his disease was diagnosed, Mr. Choi had played an active role in the campaign for asbestos justice and worked with other victims in Korea and Japan to lobby for improvements in government support and medical care. Commenting on the sad news, his colleague spoke of his strength, leadership and determination to end the global use of asbestos. [Read full article]
Mar 4, 2014
In late February, German asbestos victims were offered the unique opportunity to hold a symposium entitled The Situation of Asbestos Victims within the framework of the annual German Cancer Congress. The significance of this event was reinforced by other activities which took place including a press conference, an exhibition and a three-hour medical session. Commenting on these developments, one of the organizers highlighted the marginalization of German asbestos victims and soundly criticized the government’s continued failure to address victims’ needs, recognize their human rights and provide justice for the injured. [Read full article]
Feb 24, 2014
Klaas Jasperse, a worker suffering from asbestos-related cancer, has brought a claim against the Dutch State for damages as the company which had employed him has become insolvent. The lawsuit against the State alleges that it was due to its negligence to take timely action to protect workers from the asbestos hazard that the hazardous exposures which resulted in Mr. Jasperse’s fatal disease occurred. According to legal expert Bob Ruers, “the Dutch State had already been fully aware of the cancer-related risks posed by asbestos by 1977.” Had action been taken earlier, it is argued, Mr. Jasperse would not have become ill. [Read full article]
Feb. 19, 2014
A research project by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) in conjunction with Russian asbestos-industry linked scientists has been soundly condemned by asbestos victims’ groups, scientists and doctors since it was first announced in 2012. A press conference held in London jointly by the World Health Organization and the IARC in February provided an opportunity for British Journalist Bernard Murphy to ask questions about the agencies’ asbestos policies. Dr Stewart, co-editor of IARC’s new 630-page, five-year update on the state of cancer science, reaffirmed the links between exposure to all types of asbestos and cancer and supported a global ban on its use. [Read full article]
Feb 18, 2014
The second anniversary of the verdict handed down by the Turin Court, in what has become known as the Great Asbestos Trial, was an appropriate time to review the Court’s decision as well as subsequent developments in the litigation. Despite a determined attempt by the defendants in this landmark case to overturn the verdicts, the judicial authorities have twice confirmed the criminal conviction of asbestos defendants who had caused wilful permanent environmental disaster and failed to comply with safety rules as a result of which thousands of Italians died from asbestos-related diseases. [Read full article]
Feb 10, 2014
The World Health Organization (WHO) has a clear-cut policy on asbestos: “the most efficient way to eliminate asbestos-related diseases is to stop using all types of asbestos.” In an effort to protect asbestos sales, industry lobbyists have continued to misrepresent the WHO’s message as supporting a “controlled use of asbestos.” In an attempt to reinforce the WHO’s position on asbestos, Dr. Maria Neira, the Director of Public Health and Environment, has given a detailed interview in which she makes the international agency’s position crystal clear. Asbestos is, she says, “a threat to public health... [and] all forms of asbestos are carcinogenic to humans.” [Read full article]
Feb 3, 2014
On Wednesday, January 29, 2014, the Thai Public Health Ministry passed a resolution calling for the immediate prohibition on the use of asbestos. This action was welcomed by members of the Thailand Ban Asbestos Network (T-BAN) who had been waiting for nearly three years for the government to honor a pledge to prohibit asbestos use. Commenting on the news, T-BAN member Associate Professor Vithaya Kulsomboon told IBAS: “We are more optimistic now than we have been for three years that the use of asbestos will be ended in Thailand. Banning asbestos is the first step in ridding our country of a deadly hazard; there remains a lot of work to do.” [Read full article]
Jan 29, 2014
It is a rare privilege for IBAS to facilitate access for English-speaking readers to this stunning article by award-winning Brazilian Journalist Eliane Brum. Ms. Brum highlights the efforts of Brazilian asbestos victims to strip asbestos magnate Stephan Schmidheiny of a prestigious award given to him by the Brazilian Government: the Order of the Southern Cross. She explains that the victims’ actions are not motivated by anger but by a desire to ensure that history accurately records the facts despite multiple attempts to whitewash inconvenient details such as Schmidheiny’s conviction by an Italian criminal court for involvement in thousands of asbestos deaths. [Read full article]
Jan 20, 2014
As 2014 dawned, European and Latin American asbestos victims' groups ratcheted up efforts to prevent certain individuals linked to the asbestos industry or perceived to have supported it, from enjoying prestigious awards or gaining high-level positions. Italian victims progressed attempts to have asbestos criminal Stephan Schmidheiny stripped of a U.S. academic honor while their French counterparts contested the candidacy of a controversial scientist as head of a scientific body. In Brazil, the National Association of the Asbestos-Exposed launched a campaign to have the Government rescind the Order of the Southern Cross (an order of chivalry), bestowed upon Schmidheiny in 1996. [Read full article]
Jan 10, 2014
This paper explores controversies created by industry to defend corporations from asbestos lawsuits. The author focuses on the genesis of the debate over the toxicity of short asbestos fibres. The industry's "doubt science," published in scientific journals, has given a legitimacy to an issue long ago agreed upon by independent experts: "the main factor responsible for carcinogenicity of fibres is this physical-chemical mechanism, the so-called 'surface reactivity' of the fibre in a biological setting, the size of the fibres and their biological-persistence in the organism being only the complimentary 'parameters' able to influence the degree of toxicity of the fibres without being determinant of it." [Read full article]
Dec 21, 2013
Today - December 21, 2013 - is the second anniversary of the mesothelioma death of Korean ban asbestos activist Rachel LEE Jung-Lim. As Rachel learned about her disease, contracted from environmental contamination generated by an asbestos-cement factory, she grew incensed about the dangers to which she and others had been exposed. Determined to end the global asbestos epidemic, she took every opportunity she could to spread the ban asbestos message. To commemorate Rachel's campaign, activists have established the annual Rachel LEE Jung-Lim Memorial Award. The winner for 2013 was announced at a ceremony in Seoul held on December 21. [Read full article]
Dec 18 2013
On December 11 & 12, 2013, organizations in Japan engaged in the struggle for asbestos justice operated a phone consultation service for asbestos victims and their relatives. The service provided by the Ban Asbestos Network Japan, Japan Occupational Safety and Health Resource Center and the National Association of Asbestos-related Disease Victims and their Families received a total of 293 calls. Despite an improved national regime for asbestos compensation, activists are calling on the government to honor its pledge to provide "relief for all asbestos victims without omission." Lobbying for the adoption of specific measures to address outstanding issues is ongoing. [Read full article]
Dec 16, 2013
Last month, Korean and Indonesian activists met in Jakarta to hold a joint workshop on the hazards of asbestos use in Asia. The meeting, which was organized by asbestos victims' groups, ban asbestos activists, academics, safety and health campaigners and environmentalists, addressed the health consequences for workers and people living near asbestos producing or using facilities; the first reports of diagnoses of cases of asbestosis in Indonesian workers were released. In addition, discussions were progressed about measures for raising the public profile of asbestos hazards in Indonesia and elsewhere in Asia. [Read full article]
Dec 10, 2013
European partners have published a new report Asbestos-related occupational diseases in Central and East European Countries which focuses on the long-lasting effects of asbestos use in new Member States and candidate countries. Topics covered in the publication include the evolution of national regulations concerning the recognition and compensation of asbestos-related diseases, health measures for at-risk workers and background information on the uses, properties and hazards posed by asbestos. The research findings are a valuable addition to the ongoing discourse on Europe's asbestos catastrophe. [Read full article]
Dec 4, 2013
For more than a century, chrysotile asbestos has been mined in the Russian town of "Asbest." But times are hard for Uralasbest, the company which runs the mine: "in the past nine months, the profits of the town's main employer have been melting away because of shrinking global demand and local economic pressures such as steep tariffs on mining trains." While it is too early to predict whether these difficulties foreshadow the end to Asbest's asbestos dependency, the Russian Ministry of Labor is offering inhabitants between $9,000 and $25,000 to relocate "to more successful cities." [Read full article]
Dec 2, 2013
This afternoon, asbestos victims and ban asbestos campaigners held a New Delhi press conference to call for an immediate ban on growing asbestos consumption. A letter they released, signed by over 300 eminent experts from 36 countries, condemned aggressive marketing by asbestos industry stakeholders in India. In the text of this letter, which was sent to Indian Government Ministers, the international correspondents pointed out the deplorable behaviour of the ruthless asbestos lobby. The letter concludes with a heart-felt request that the Ministers "put the health interests of the people of India ahead of the vested interests of the asbestos industry." [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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