Parliamentary Asbestos Seminar 2018
The annual Parliamentary Asbestos Seminar took place on June 26, 2018 in Committee Room 14 of the House of Commons. As always this event, held under the auspices of the Asbestos Sub-Committee of the All-party Group on Occupational Health and Safety, offered the opportunity for Members of Parliament to hear about a diverse range of global asbestos developments from people working on the asbestos frontline. MPs in attendance included Jo Stevens, Chair of the Asbestos Sub-Committee, Labour Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Margaret Greenwood MP, London MP Stephen Timms (Labour), West Dunbartonshire MP Martin Docherty-Hughes (Scottish National Party), representatives of Bath MP Wera Hobhouse (Liberal Democrat) and others.1
Also in attendance were dozens of campaigners from asbestos victim support groups, asbestos charities, trade unions and non-governmental organizations from County Durham, South Yorkshire, Derbyshire, Kent, Glasgow, Birmingham, Liverpool, Manchester, Leicester, Rochdale, Cambridge and London. The widespread geographical representation of delegates was a reflection of the ubiquity of the challenges posed by Britains industrial asbestos legacy; the use of 7 million tonnes of asbestos during the 20th century has given Britain the highest mesothelioma rate in the world.2
During the two-hour session, first-hand testimony was provided regarding challenges faced by UK asbestos cancer sufferers, progress being made by British mesothelioma researchers, asbestos legacy issues at brownfield sites, the campaign by the Asbestos in Schools Group and the tragic consequences of asbestos consumption in India. The keynote presentation was given by Retired Labor Inspector and Co-Founder of the Brazilian Association for the Asbestos-Exposed Fernanda Giannasi, who explained how grassroots mobilization by asbestos victims overturned decades of industry domination and control of the national asbestos dialogue. From being one of the worlds largest asbestos producers, consumers and exporters, Brazil is now embarking on a post-asbestos era as a result of a 2017 decision by the countrys Supreme Court.
Commenting on the event, Chair Jo Stevens said:
The seminar showed that, despite asbestos having been banned in Britain for almost 20 years there is still a huge problem out there. Millions of tons of asbestos are still in place in workplaces across the country and every year 5,000 people die prematurely because of past exposure.
Two things were very clear from the seminar. The first was the huge energy there is out there to make sure that these victims are supported, and this terrible killer fibre eradicated. The second is the need to support those who are fighting in other parts of the world against the asbestos industry to try to secure an asbestos-free world.
A full report of the content of the presentations and discussions is under preparation. For now, we are uploading a series of photographs from the day.
Sir Anthony Newman-Taylor, Professor of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, National Lung and Heart Institute, Imperial College.
Liz Darlison, Head of Services, Mesothelioma UK speaking on behalf of Dr. Mags Portman.
Jason Addy, Spodden Valley Trust.
Fernanda Giannasi, Retired Labour Inspector and Co-Founder of the Brazilian Association of the Asbestos-Exposed.
John McClean, Asbestos in Schools Group.
Krishnendu Mukherjee, Doughty Street Chambers.
July 2, 2018
1 Stevens, Jo. House of Commons Asbestos Seminar. June 28, 2018.
2 Gilham C, Rake C, et al. Past and current asbestos exposure and future mesothelioma risks in Britain: The Inhaled Particles Study (TIPS). 2018