Brazil Asbestos Ban Upheld! 

by Laurie Kazan-Allen



On February 23, 2023, Brazil’s Supreme Court (STF) upheld a decision banning the commercial exploitation of asbestos. By a vote of 7 to 1, the Judges rejected appeals of the August 2017 STF plenary decision that had prohibited the mining, processing, use, sale and transport of chrysotile (white) asbestos, an acknowledged carcinogen.1 The majority opinion handed down in Brasilia this week reaffirmed the STF’s position that the Brazilian law under which the asbestos sector had flourished – article 2 of Federal Law 9.055/1995 – was unconstitutional.


April 24, 2019: Members of the Asian Ban Asbestos Mission to Brazil protesting outside the Supreme Court in Brasilia.2

Just one month after Supreme Court Justice Alexandre de Moraes had issued a unilateral decision allowing the resumption of asbestos mining in Minaçu for export purposes (January 2023), the Supreme Court dismissed legal actions by asbestos vested interests represented by the National Confederation of Industry Workers (CNTI) and the Brazilian Chrysotile Institute (IBC) questioning the validity of the national ban.3 Commenting on a point of disagreement expressed by Minister (Justice) Cármen Lúcia, President of the STF Minister Rosa Weber wrote: “Minister Cármen, I beg your Excellency's reverence, but this topic [“erga omnes”] was exhaustively debated…” Justices Gilmar Mendes, André Mendonça, Alexandre de Moraes and Ricardo Lewandowski agreed.4

The explanation for why the original date for the promulgation of this ruling (February 16) was postponed remains something of a mystery; the official reason given was that there had been a lack of quorum. Anxiety levels amongst campaigners were high as February 23 approached. Upon learning the contents of the 2-page judgment, Eliezer João de Souza, President of Brazil’s Association of the Asbestos-Exposed (ABREA) – an amicus curia to this case – said:

“There have been so many twists and turns in this litigation, unexpected delays and legal maneuvers, that the relief we all felt on hearing the news of the STF’s verdict was immense. We received word of the judgment whilst ABREA was engaged in a three-day outreach project in Osasco,5 the former heartland of Brazil’s deadly asbestos-cement industry. Whilst many Osasco residents know about the hazard posed by asbestos exposures, ABREA feels a moral duty to ensure that every Brazilian citizen is educated so that he/she takes steps to protect themselves and their family from toxic exposures.”


February 23, 2023: ABREA asbestos outreach installation at Osasco Shopping Plaza. President Eliezer João de Souza on the left with photographer and ABREA official from Bom Jesus da Serra, Inácio Teixeira. Picture courtesy of ABREA.



February 23, 2023: ABREA Asbestos outreach installation at Osasco Shopping Plaza. Photo by Inácio Teixeira. Picture courtesy of ABREA.



February 23, 2023: ABREA Asbestos outreach installation at Osasco Shopping Plaza. Photograph by Inácio Teixeira of some of the images in ABREA photographic exhibition. Picture courtesy of ABREA.

Commenting on the STF verdict, Engineer Fernanda Giannasi, Co-Founder of ABREA and a globally respected ban asbestos campaigner, said:

“Brazil’s Supreme Court is much respected. It was at the forefront of efforts to protect our democracy from the coup attempt mounted by Bolsonaro insurrectionists in January. Once again, it has protected human beings from a deadly threat – that posed by exposures to asbestos. SAMA, the company which owns the asbestos mine, is still operational as is its parent company Eternit S.A. According to their propaganda, Brazilian chrysotile asbestos serves humanitarian purposes in the poor countries to which it is exported. Remembering that the use of asbestos in Brazil has been forbidden for years, the fact we were still exporting this poison is a national disgrace and a stain on the reputation of our country. As we rejoice over this landmark judgment, we will rededicate our efforts to hold SAMA and Eternit to account for the harm they have done not only in Brazil but in every country to which their carcinogenic fibers were sent.”6


Fernanda Giannasi at Ban Asbestos Protest, Paris 2012.

February 25, 2023


1 STF encerra julgamento sobre proibição da exploração do amianto crisotila no país [STF closes judgment on prohibition of chrysotile asbestos exploration in the country]. February 23, 2023.
Guimaraes, A. STF mantém decisão que proíbe extração e comercialização de amianto crisotila [STF upholds decision prohibiting extraction and sale of chrysotile asbestos]. February 23, 2023.

2 A mission of Asian delegates to Brazil in 2019 called on key stakeholders to stop the export of killer asbestos fibers from Brazil. For more information on the mission, please see:
Press Release. STOP Brazilian Asbestos Exports. April 21, 2019
Comunicados de Imprensa: Parem com as exportações de amianto para a Ásia! 21 de Abril, 2019.
Briefing: Asian Ban Asbestos Mission.
Missão Asiática Antiamianto no Brasil 2019. Parem com as exportações de amianto para a Ásia!
Kazan-Allen, L. Report: Asian Ban Asbestos Mission. April 29, 2019.

3 Ximenes, E. STF mantém proibição do uso de amianto crisotila [STF maintains ban on the use of chrysoptile asbestos.] February 23, 2023.
The text of the two-page decision can be accessed at the link below:

4 STF mantém proibição do uso de amianto no país [STF maintains ban on the use of asbestos in the country]. February 23, 2023.

5 This outreach project took place at the Shopping Plaza in downtown Osasco from February 23-25, 2023. Our unique photographic exhibition was displayed in a prominent place where shoppers would be certain to see the images. ABREA personnel were on-hand to explain the association’s goals and share educational material.
ABREA photos of February 23, 2023 activities:

6 Email from Fernanda Giannasi. February 24, 2023.



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