International Ban Asbestos Secretariat

International Ban Asbestos Secretariat



News text:

Oct 1, 2016

Today, October 1, 2016, the New Zealand ban on the import of asbestos-containing materials has come into effect. One hundred and seventy asbestos deaths occur in New Zealand every year and that number is predicted to keeping rising until 2040. New Zealand and Australia are the only two countries in the Pacific region to have banned asbestos; the total number of countries worldwide which have done so now stands at 58. Concerns are high over the toxic effects of asbestos use in other Pacific countries which say they are unable to protect their populations from harmful exposures. See: Concerns over flow of asbestos into Pacific as New Zealand's import ban comes into effect.

Sep 30, 2016

Asbestos waste stockpiled in deteriorating containers at a site at La Collette, Jersey has been a problem for several years. A consultation has now been launched on proposals which may finally pave the way for a permanent resolution of this issue by making provisions for the long-term disposal of this toxic material. Submissions regarding proposals should be emailed by October 25, 2016 to Dr T du Feu, Director of Environmental Protection, Department of the Environment (envprotection@gov.je). More information can be found on the Jersey Government website. For report see: La Collette may store asbestos permanently.

Sep 30, 2016

On September 29, 2016, dozens of schoolchildren and their parents took part in a protest over asbestos roofing at the Vasco Nunez de Balboa primary school in Benidorm. The dilapidated and leaking asbestos-cement corrugated roof was installed 41 years ago and, say the parents, constitutes a health risk to the schoolchildren and staff. Parents say calls for urgent remediation and repair work to the school have repeatedly been ignored by the authorities including the Ministry of Education and the City Council. See: Clamor contra el amianto en el Vasco [Outcry against asbestos at Vasco school].

Sep 30, 2016

Australia’s Department of Immigration and Border Protection issued a notice on September 16, 2016 clarifying the assurances required from importers and licensed customs brokers by the Australian Border Force (ABF) which prove that imported goods do not contain asbestos. Sampling and testing of goods by an accredited Australian laboratory is preferred as certification of samples tested outside of Australia will only be accepted if the lab is accredited by international accreditation authorities (that are National Association of Testing Authorities (NATA) recognised equivalents). See: Assurances that imported goods do not contain asbestos.

Sep 29, 2016

Radio reports regarding the presence of asbestos-containing roofing products at the Prince Wellington Ngu hospital in Tonga have been broadcast. John Lee Taione, the Chief Medical Superintendent, has said there is evidence that children are being affected by exposure to asbestos from the leaking roof after heavy rain. Specialist contractors will remove the roof and other asbestos products in the hospital next month (October 2016). Unless provisions can be made to safeguard patients from toxic exposures during the work, doctors may need to treat patients at their homes. See: Children in Tongan hospital inhaling asbestos.

Sep 29, 2016

An online commentary documents the growth of activism amongst local people and campaigners in India to address hazards posed by exposures to asbestos despite the existence of powerful political and commercial vested interests. The author cites dangerous conditions in shipyards where end-of-life vessels are dismantled: “The condition of the workforce is worse than the worst industrial sector - the mining industry.” There is hope that the draft National Health Policy 2015 may introduce measures to “to prevent preventable but incurable diseases that are more prevalent in certain occupational groups.” See: Asbestos: more than 50 nations have banned it. Why is India refusing?

Sep 28, 2016

Brazil’s Ministry of Labor and the Inter-Union Department of Studies and Research of Health and Work Environments are hosting a two-day meeting on asbestos in Campinas in October 2016 to explore social and judicial factors related to asbestos use. Shortly after those sessions end, the Brazilian Association of the Asbestos-Exposed will hold an event to examine global strategies for: ending asbestos use, obtaining justice for the injured and ensuring decontamination of contaminated areas. See: Proibição do amianto no Brasil é foco de Congresso Internacional e Encontro de Vítimas em Campinas [Brazilian asbestos ban is the focus of international congress and victims’ meeting in Campinas].

Sep 28, 2016

Citing data detailing the value of Canadian imports of asbestos brake materials, a feature on the website: Automotive News Canada has called for asbestos imports to be banned. The text states that: over the last twenty years, $100m has been spent importing asbestos brake pads and brakes to Canada; this material can contain up to 80% asbestos fiber; US dust measurement in garages found huge levels of asbestos contamination. For all these reasons, the author states, the import and use of all types of asbestos-containing products should be banned in Canada. See: Asbestos kills, but it's still allowed in Canadian brake parts.

Sep 28, 2016

Twenty property owners who bought land in an area in the Manly suburb of Sydney are facing huge bills for decontamination of bushland plots which are contaminated with asbestos. Fines of up to $250,000 plus $60,000 for each day the land is left contaminated could be imposed by the Environment Protection Authority. According to reports “No one is claiming responsibility for the asbestos dump” found on the property originally owned by the Metropolitan Aboriginal Local Land Council. See: Twenty landowners discover asbestos dumped on their land.

Sep 25, 2016

On September 24-25, 2106 a workshop was held within the framework of the 3rd International Conference on Occupational and Environmental Health (ICOEH 2016) in New Delhi. The title of this workshop was: The Elimination of Asbestos Related Diseases in India. This session was organized by grassroots groups from India and Asia in partnership with the International Ban Asbestos Secretariat. Key speakers who addressed the event included: Sugio Furuya (Japan), Sanjiv Pandita (Hong Kong) and Yeyong Choi (Korea) from the Asian Ban Asbestos Network and Mohit Gupta from the Occupational and Environmental Network of India. See: Workshop Banner.

Sep 25, 2016

In Mexico, hundreds of people die every year from the asbestos cancer, mesothelioma. Despite this, no asbestos ban has been implemented and the country remains Latin America’s leading manufacturer of asbestos products. Data reported show that the country is paying a high cost for the medical care of mesothelioma patients; in 2005, treatment of 500 mesothelioma patients cost the health sector 45 million pesos. Healthcare experts have repeatedly warned that without a national policy banning the production and use of asbestos, the asbestos cancer epidemic will persevere for decades to come. See: Aumenta Mesotelioma por Asbesto en México [Asbestos Cancer Increases in Mexico].

Sep 25, 2016

An update on the incidence of mesothelioma in Sweden using data from 1961-2009 and information from a job exposure matrix found “a significantly increased risk of mesothelioma in 24 occupations, as well as a clear sex difference. Among men, increased risks of mesothelioma of the pleura were observed in male-dominated occupations, with the greatest increase among plumbers … Among women, an increased risk was observed in sewing workers, canning workers, packers, cleaners, and postmen.” In all cases, mesothelioma was associated with exposure to asbestos. See: Occupation and mesothelioma in Sweden. Updated incidence for men and women up to 27 years after asbestos ban.

Sep 23, 2016

On the evening of September 21, 2016, hundreds of local people, provincial representatives and campaigners took part in a vigil to manifest widespread opposition to the construction of a new landfill for asbestos-cement waste in Ferrera, a town in the Italian commune of Sannazzaro de Burgondi, 45 km south-west of Milan. The site will be up and running in June 2017. Having created a large “no” out of candles on the piazza, the silent procession took to the streets after which speeches were given outlining legal, political and judicial strategies for forcing closure of the contentious site. See: Settecento fiaccole contro la discarica di amianto [700 torches against plans for asbestos landfill site].

Sep 23, 2016

An online commentary in the Azerbaijan media has extolled the virtues of chrysotile (white) asbestos-containing products and announced that demand for them remains strong. Recapping facts about the history of the commercial exploitation of asbestos, the commentary cites misleading information as assurances that products containing it are safe to use. The name of the author of this text is not given nor is any data about the country’s levels of asbestos consumption. In 2014 and 2015 usage was reportedly 319 and 410 tonnes, respectively. See: Так ли опасен асбест? Стройматериал возвращается на рынки [Is asbestos dangerous? Building material returns to the markets].

Sep 21, 2016

On September 28, 2016, a criminal trial will begin against the management of the University Hospital of Besançon which is accused of endangering the lives of others by failing to prevent toxic occupational exposures to asbestos from 2010 to 2013. Four trade unions have denounced multiple failures by the management since 2010 to ensure that adequate workplace safeguards to avoid asbestos exposures are in place. This is the first time that such charges have been brought against a health facility in France. See: Procès amiante à l'hôpital Minjoz : les syndicats accusent [Asbestos trial against Minjoz hospital: unions’ accusations].

Sep 21, 2016

A paper published this month in the British Medical Journal examined the efficacy of multidisciplinary teams in providing care for UK mesothelioma patients. The researchers examined evidence relating to the work in 2014 and 2015 of one UK specialist mesothelioma multidisciplinary team and found that more cases were diagnosed more accurately and faster through this collaborative process. The team’s deliberations were also effective in “providing recommendations for further investigations of treatments.” See: What is the role of a specialist regional mesothelioma multidisciplinary team meeting? A service evaluation of one tertiary referral centre in the UK.

Sep 19, 2016

On September 10, 2016, the world came to Casale Monferrato, a small Piemonte town which has become a symbol of the global struggle against asbestos tyranny. On a day of celebration and remembrance, the community marked a new future with the inauguration of the EterNOT park built on the former site of the notorious Eternit asbestos factory. Separated by distances great and small, campaigners for asbestos justice sent tributes to show their solidarity with their Italian allies. Opening the proceedings, Mayor Concetta Palazzetti referenced the global solidarity on display at the front of the chamber and named the associations from Latin America, Asia, Australia and Europe which had sent messages of support. [Read full article]

Sep 10, 2016

Today, the community of Casale Monferrato, for decades the symbol of the struggle for asbestos justice, will mark a landmark event with the dedication of a park built on the infamous site of the Eternit asbestos cement factory. The Eternot Park is not only a memorial to the asbestos dead but also a symbol of a future which can be free of the deadly dust. Campaigning groups from Latin America, Europe, Asia and Australia have sent a statement – the English version of which is text of this article – with floral tributes expressing solidarity and support for the victims, the activists and the community. (Click here for Italian version.) [Read full article]

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]

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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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