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International Ban Asbestos Secretariat

International Ban Asbestos Secretariat

lkaz@btconnect.com

 

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Apr 16, 2019

A letter sent on April 16, 2019 by the Bangladesh Ban Asbestos Network to the Minister of the Environment, Forest and Climate Change, other Ministers, Department Heads and diplomats has called on the Bangladesh Government to support the listing of chrysotile (white) asbestos on Annex III of the United Nations’ Rotterdam Convention at the upcoming 9th Conference of the Parries in Geneva; the discussions on chrysotile are expected to take place on May 7-10, 2019. Bangladesh imports of chrysotile have risen in recent years from 14,620 tonnes in 2015 to 22,180t in 2018. The Government is urged “to take action against this killing fibre at national and international levels…” See: Letter from Bangladesh Ban Asbestos Network.

Apr 16, 2019

Greenpeace Colombia has issued a press release calling on the Government of Colombia to act urgently on banning asbestos and enact the “Ana Cecilia Niño” asbestos prohibitions before June 2019 when the draft legislation expires. Speaking on behalf of Greenpeace Colombia Silvia Gómez said: “the positive experiences of almost a hundred countries around the world show that the prohibition and replacement of asbestos is possible. The economic and labor consequences do not justify the use of a toxic substance that harms the health of Colombians. The social and scientific evidence is on the side of the prohibition of asbestos.” See: Greenpeace insiste en que Congreso prohíba el asbestos [Greenpeace insists that Congress prohibit asbestos].

Apr 16, 2019

According to a report from the Regional Epidemiology Service, the incidence of mesothelioma in the port city of Cartagena is 7.5 times higher than that in Murcia. In the last 20 years, 193 people in Cartagena have died from mesothelioma, the signature cancer linked to asbestos exposure. It is believed that much of the hazardous exposure took place at the shipyards where thousands of workers were routinely exposed to asbestos. The report stated that most workers were exposed to chrysotile (white) asbestos and that “up to 90% of pleural mesotheliomas and 50% of peritoneal tumors…” were caused by such exposures. See: Un cáncer vinculado con el amianto se ha cobrado 193 vidas en dos décadas [A cancer linked to asbestos has claimed 193 lives in two decades].

Apr 15, 2019

On April 12, 2019, Public Prosecutors Giuliana Giuliano and Anna Frasca began a trial at the Court of Assizes of Naples in which a Swiss billionaire – Stephan Schmidheiny – faced murder charges over eight asbestos cancer deaths which occurred between 2000 and 2009 due to workplace exposures at Eternit factories in southern Italy. A similar trial in Turin against the same defendant charged with two asbestos deaths is about to conclude; a verdict is expected soon. See: Eternit, l’amianto killer a Bagnoli: comincerà domani il processo al magnate svizzero, accusato di 8 decessi [Eternit, the asbestos killer in Bagnoli: the trial of the Swiss magnate will start tomorrow, accused of 8 deaths].

Apr 15, 2019

As if the struggle for asbestos compensation in Switzerland is not hard enough, victims have now been informed that CAOVA – an organization which has battled for decades to support the injured – is scheduled for closure due to lack of funds. Unlike in France, where some progress has been made in streamlining compensation procedures, in Switzerland the burden of proof for those, other than mesothelioma claimants, can be virtually insurmountable, as demands are made for documentation and details relating to exposures which took place decades ago. See: Le rude combat pour l'indemnisation des malades de l'amiante [The tough fight for the compensation of asbestos patients].

Apr 15, 2019

Medical experts have warned that there is substantial under-diagnosis in Spain of asbestos-related cancers and that those which are identified are just “the tip of the iceberg.” According to Dr. Josep Tarrés: “There are studies that say that between 8% and 12% of lung carcinomas are due to exposure to asbestos without the intervention of tobacco.” Occupationally contracted asbestos-related diseases recognized in Spain include: mesothelioma, tumors of the larynx, ovary, testes and oesophagus. See: Los neumólogos alertan de los pocos diagnósticos de cáncer por Amianto [Pneumologists warn of the few diagnoses of cancer by asbestos].

Apr 15, 2019

A peer-reviewed commentary in the inaugural issue of the Journal of Scientific Practice and Integrity examined measures adopted by asbestos stakeholders to delay action on a known carcinogen and cited the work of the Asbestos Institute (Canada) and the International Chrysotile Association, the research of David Bernstein and the failure of publications such as the European Respiratory Journal to refuse submissions from authors with ties to asbestos interests. Extracts from Bernstein’s emails and examples of payments made by asbestos defendants contained in Appendix A are informative. See: Asbestos and insurance interests continue to use discredited scientific argument to sell asbestos and to deny justice to asbestos victims.

Apr 15, 2019

Representatives of the Fiom CGIL trade union submitted a complaint to Italy’s Ministry of Environment about the presence of 3,750 tons of asbestos – 95% of which is friable – at the Taranto steel plant, Europe’s largest producer of steel. Fiom is calling on the authorities to speed up plans for remediation which, according to a schedule of works, is not expected to be achieved until 2023. The Union claims not to have received any plans for an asbestos removal program for the plant from the company which owns the site in southern Italy. See: “Nell'ex Ilva di Taranto 3.750 tonnellate di Amianto”: denuncia Fiom al ministero dell'Ambiente [“In the former Taranto Ilva 3,750 tons of asbestos”: Fiom complaint to the Ministry of Environment].

Apr 12, 2019

The Russian Government, which banned tea imports after Sri Lanka announced plans to prohibit the import of asbestos roofing materials from Russia as of January 1, 2018, has now signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Sri Lanka Ministry of Health in Colombo which explains that future Russian asbestos exports to the country will be “non-hazardous.” Sri Lanka is the world’s largest importer of Russian asbestos sheets. See: Россия будет производить неопасный асбест для Шри-Ланки [Russia will produce non-hazardous asbestos for Sri Lanka].

Apr 12, 2019

A judgment was handed down in the High Court in London on April 10 (see: Dr Robin Rudd v (1) John Bridle and (2) J&S Bridle Limited) in a case brought by Dr Robin Rudd – one of the UK’s leading medical experts on asbestos-related diseases – against John Bridle, pro-asbestos advocate and former asbestos businessman, who the judge said was “dishonest and obstructive throughout the proceedings.” In 2014, Bridle had lodged a complaint – later dismissed – against Dr Rudd with the General Medical Council “alleging that Dr Rudd had falsified the risks to health associated with chrysotile asbestos in expert reports.” Bridle has been ordered to provide all personal data relating to Dr Rudd and disclose the names of the recipients of the data. See: Landmark Judgment on Data Protection Act 1998.

Apr 12, 2019

A commentary on a book entitled Eternity – A Social Construction of Banning Asbestos in Brazil highlighted the importance of the work of asbestos victims in achieving a landmark 2017 decision by the Supreme Court which declared the commercialization of asbestos unconstitutional in Brazil. The book’s author pointed out that ample evidence about the hazards posed by exposures to asbestos had been amassed years before the Brazilian asbestos sector became established. The Association of the Asbestos-Exposed, founded in 1995, represented the voice of the victims and condemned the industry and demanded recognition, medical treatment and compensation. See: The Strength of Social Movement in Banning of Asbestos in Brazil.

Apr 12, 2019

An article and video on the ILO website by Annie Thebaud-Mony, Honorary Research Director of the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research (Inserm), calls for global remedies for the asbestos epidemic which is killing thousands of people around the world every year. Eighty percent of all asbestos produced was mined after 1960 when the hazards associated with asbestos exposures were known. The author calls for trade prohibitions to be implemented and for medical programs to be established not only for asbestos-exposed workers but for family members who may have been exposed to toxic dust brought home on work clothes. See: Asbestos: limitless, endless contamination – with complete impunity.

Apr 9, 2019

On April 8, 2019 – the day of a partial strike by workers on the Barcelona Metro – the CCOO (Spain’s largest trade union) announced at a Barcelona press conference that ~37% of the 802 Barcelona Metro workers who had been medically examined had been diagnosed with asbestos-related diseases or conditions, including 22 with diseases of the larynx, 22 with pleural cancers and 249 with other pathologies. In Madrid, three Madrid Metro workers have died of asbestos-related cancers and two more have been diagnosed. See: Un 37% de trabajadores del metro de Barcelona examinados tienen afectaciones por Amianto [37% of Barcelona metro workers examined have asbestos damage].

Apr 9, 2019

The plight of asbestos-injured workers in Italy and Canada were examined at a meeting on April 8, 2019 in the Canadian town of Peterborough where generations of workers from the plant run by General Electric had routinely been exposed to asbestos. The six Italian delegates were veteran trade union and medical campaigners and an 18 year old student activist from the town of Casale Monferrato, the location of Italy’s largest asbestos-cement factory; they presented information about asbestos medical innovations, community projects, and educational and environmental programs which had been pioneered in their town. See: City hosts delegation from Italian city rocked by asbestos.

Apr 9, 2019

A commentary on the landmark decision handed down by the Supreme Court in France last week explains how the ruling might open the door to compensation claims from people exposed to carcinogens other than asbestos. The April 5 judgment widened access to compensation for “anxiety injury” to individuals negligently exposed to asbestos at all companies, not just those on a government list. In a similar way, people who have been occupationally exposed to heavy metals, ionizing radiation, diesel, used oils and greases may consider bringing claims. See: Après l'amiante, des salariés exposés à d'autres substances cancérogènes pourraient être indemnisés [After asbestos employees exposed to other carcinogenic substances could be compensated].

Apr 20, 2019

This Open Letter calls upon delegates to the upcoming meeting of the United Nations’ Rotterdam Convention (RC) to progress restrictions on the global trade in chrysotile asbestos by voting to include it on Annex III of the Convention. This is the 7th time that such action has been recommended by the RC’s Chemical Review Committee; previous attempts to list chrysotile were blocked by a handful of stakeholder countries, initially led by Canada and now by Russia. The signatories of this letter include 10 international organizations and associations and individuals from 30 countries on six continents. [Read full article]

Apr 10, 2019

The former asbestos mining town in Wittenoom, Western Australia (WA) has been called “probably the southern hemisphere’s most contaminated site” due to the presence of millions of tonnes of asbestos-containing mining waste. Plans are progressing through the WA Parliament for the compulsory purchase of the few properties remaining in private hands in order for the town to be shut down. Because of the extensive pollution, a WA Minister has acknowledged that the area can never be made fit for human habitation but is urging that attempts be made to remediate areas of cultural significance to the traditional owners of the land: the Banjima people. Consideration is given in this article of whether the Wittenoom “solution” could be the answer for other asbestos mining towns. [Read full article]

Mar 28, 2019

A letter by civil society groups sent recently to leading politicians addressed false statements and misinformation propagated at a 2018 pro-asbestos workshop in Vietnam’s National Assembly. The text accused organizations including the International Chrysotile Association, the Vietnam Roofing Association and others of: spreading “false and incorrect information and data about the harmful effects of white asbestos” and “creating confusion and misunderstanding about the situation and the scientific basis for… [banning] white asbestos”. Asbestos vested interests are desperate to forestall the implementation of a Prime Ministerial Order banning chrysotile asbestos roofing material by 2023 and are marshalling political and economic allies to force a government U-turn. [Read full article]

Mar 25, 2019

According to a 2019 paper entitled Environmental asbestos exposure in childhood and risk of mesothelioma later in life: a long-term follow-up register-based cohort study people who went to one of four schools near an asbestos-cement factory in Aalborg, Denmark have a 7-fold increase in the risk of mesothelioma – the signature cancer associated with exposure to asbestos. This finding, which was supported by earlier research into the causation of mesothelioma amongst women in Aalborg, has been widely circulated throughout the country and has spurred calls for the government to compensate all those suffering from this disease. [Read full article]

Mar 18, 2019

A commentary on the “second major asbestos spying scandal of the 21st century” details the facts of an international effort by asbestos vested interests to infiltrate the ban asbestos network (ban) with a focus on attempts by a British operative commissioned by K2 Intelligence Ltd. to insinuate himself into the network. The covert operation – codenamed “Project Spring” – was conducted over a four-year period during which the spy visited multiple locations in the UK, France, Switzerland, Belgium, Germany, Thailand, Vietnam, India, Bangladesh, the Philippines, Canada and the US. This article first appeared in Issue 108 of the British Asbestos Newsletter (Autumn-Winter 2018-19). [Read full article]

Feb 4, 2019

Throughout Europe, the legacy of widespread asbestos use continues to manifest itself in cancer registries and coroners’ courts. While EU countries have adopted innovative and pro-active measures to address national asbestos legacies, the UK government’s entrenched policy of denial and delay continues to endanger the lives of workers as well as members of the public. Compared to the deadlines for asbestos removal in the Netherlands and Poland, the financial incentives to replace asbestos roofs in Italy and nationwide measures to monitor at-risk individuals in Germany, the UK policy of “safe management of asbestos in schools” is a manifestation of an ostrich mentality which continues to endanger children as well as staff. [Read full article]

Jan 15, 2019

Reacting to news that Eternit S.A. was phasing out asbestos use in Brazil but continuing to mine and export asbestos fiber, there has been a furore of outrage from groups at home and abroad who condemned this policy as a “national disgrace”. Ban asbestos activists in India and Indonesia denounced Eternit’s actions asking the company: “How many more people will you kill?” and stating: “Your hypocritical behaviour is the cause of a humanitarian disaster for Asian countries and we publicly condemn you for your actions.” On behalf of a global federation representing millions of construction workers, Fiona Murie said: “It is simply unacceptable for Eternit Brazil to dump its asbestos on industrializing countries…” See: versão Portuguesa or click following link: [Read full article]

Jan 8, 2019

Permission to translate this October 2018 article by Taras Volya, of Ukraine’s Journalists Against Corruption, was obtained in November 2018 and translated by Mick Antoniw in December. The edited English language text highlights the economic and political pressures brought by foreign asbestos vested interests to continue sales of a class 1 carcinogen to Ukraine despite efforts by Ukraine’s Ministry of Health to ban asbestos, and names institutions and corporations in Ukraine, Russia and Kazakhstan profiting from asbestos sales to Ukraine. Despite Ukraine’s war with Russia, the trade in asbestos persists with Russian and Kazakh asbestos sales to Ukraine valued at $7.2 million in 2016. [Read full article]

Dec 17, 2018

Concerns regarding the purchase by a UK company of an asbestos-laden passenger ship from Portugal were raised at a meeting of the Parliamentary Asbestos Sub-Group in the House of Commons on December 12, 2018. The Sub-Group was informed that a Portuguese cruise ship named MV Funchal containing “about 100 tons of asbestos in a friable state, namely composed of the fiber types chrysotile, amosite and tremolite” had been purchased at a December 5, 2018 auction in Lisbon by a UK-based hotel group which plans to berth the vessel in Central London where it will be used to provide hotel accommodation. [Read full article]

Dec 13, 2018

2018 has been an extraordinary year for the global ban asbestos campaign, with long-awaited prohibitions coming into force and others moving ahead swiftly. The progress achieved this year has almost surpassed expectations with many landmark developments and solid progress made in identifying asbestos victims, mobilizing at-risk workers, building medical capacity, supporting communities devastated by environmental contamination, facilitating access to medical treatment and compensation, engaging with medical researchers progressing new treatments for mesothelioma, collaborating on initiatives to raise asbestos awareness and exposing the dirty tricks used to forestall efforts to protect public and occupational health endangered by asbestos exposures. [Read full article]

Nov 22, 2018

The text of this paper formed the basis for a presentation made on November 15, 2018 at the First International Asbestos Conference [in Portugal] held in Lisbon. Having detailed annual asbestos trade data and exhibited a graphic showing national levels of global consumption and national asbestos bans, the speaker contrasted the legacies of asbestos use in the UK and India before highlighting the progress being made in Asian countries working to end asbestos use. A report disclosed by the speaker which had been issued by a Portuguese asbestos-cement lobbying association for a meeting of the Asbestos International Association in London 2001 was of obvious interest to Portuguese delegates. [Read full article]

Nov 1, 2018

On October 29, 2018, a bill prohibiting the sale or distribution of asbestos-containing products was unanimously adopted by the New Jersey Assembly. Sponsors of the bill condemned the federal rollback on asbestos protections and declared their determination to protect people in New Jersey from lethal exposures with the bill’s sponsor Assemblywoman Lisa Swain saying: “There is absolutely no reason why any New Jerseyans should be at risk of asbestos exposure… While the current Administration in Washington may be okay with rolling back environmental health standards that protect so many Americans, here in New Jersey we are not, and this bill ensures we will stay proactive in protecting our residents.” [Read full article]

Oct 31, 2018

On October 28, 2018, personnel from leading environmental NGOs joined with municipal and government representatives in Nepal to assess the current situation regarding the effectiveness of legislation banning the import and use of asbestos-containing goods. Although government data shows a dramatic reduction of asbestos imports, more needs to be done to protect people in Nepal from hazardous exposures both to new products but also to asbestos products incorporated within the national infrastructure. Of particular interest was the input from customs officers who are on the front line in preventing the import of more asbestos goods and from civil servants tasked with developing new protocols for the identification of toxic goods. [Read full article]

Oct 19, 2018

This Media Release by a number of labor federations and civil society associations has been uploaded to the IBAS website with the permission of its authors.
 
(Other responses to the sea change in Canadian federal policy on asbestos include a statement by President of the Canadian Labour Congress Hassan Yussuff [see: Canada’s unions applaud asbestos ban regulations]: “This is a critical step on the long road to banning asbestos, and will, without a doubt save lives for generations to come.”)
 
 
[Read full article]

Oct 17, 2018

Recent efforts by grassroots groups and medical associations to address Indonesia’s asbestos challenges are discussed in this article with a focus on a medical seminar held in Jakarta on October 13, 2018 to raise awareness of asbestos-related diseases. During that session, medical experts from Indonesia and Korea reviewed the categories and causes of asbestos-related diseases and discussed state-of-the-art protocols for making diagnoses of these diseases. Concluding the seminar, Professor Jeung Sook Kim, a Korea specialist, highlighted the importance of cooperation between NGOs and scientists in the campaign to ban asbestos. [Read full article]

Oct 15, 2018

Former asbestos worker and founding member of the Brazilian Association of the Asbestos-Exposed (ABREA) João Batista Momi died in Sao Paulo on October 14, 2018 from asbestosis, a disease he contracted from toxic exposures at the Eternit factory in Osasco. Mr. Momi’s pioneering lawsuit against Eternit took 12 years at the civil court – at that time the only court which could hear claims for injuries caused by toxic occupational exposures. In 1998 he was awarded more than 150,000 reais (equivalent in 1998 to US$150,000) for his injuries; the company appealed. After a 2004 constitutional amendment allowed Labour Courts to hear these cases, Mr. Momi received his compensation. [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 (2015)

Fiber Producers
(tonnes):
   Russia650,000
   Brazil270,000
   China210,000
   Kazakhstan180,000
    
 Top Five Users
(tonnes):
   India370,000
   China287,000
   Brazil163,000
   Russia124,000
   Indonesia120,000