Attack by Brazil's Asbestos Pushers
The message conveyed by a new project pioneered by ABREA, Brazil's Asbestos Victims' Group, is simple: Asbestos Kills!1 Information distributed as part of this outreach program details the hazards for Brazilian consumers of using asbestos-containing materials. The inaugural session took place on December 3, 2006 in Aclimação Park, São Paulo; the second session, timed to coincide with the 453rd anniversary of São Paulo City, was held at Trianon Park on January 25, 2007. The campaign has received wide ranging political and financial support from individuals and groups at local, state and national levels and from the International Ban Asbestos Secretariat.
Angered by the positive press generated by these events and the enthusiastic response from the public, on January 26, 2007, asbestos stakeholders, purporting to represent workers but, in fact, trade unionists colluding with the asbestos company, filed a formal complaint in the Supreme Federal Court to end government support, especially from Prosecutors from Pernambuco State and officials from São Paulo City, for the campaign to raise public awareness of the asbestos hazard. The petition demands that politicians abstain from practices that create obstacles to the production, industrialization, commerce and transport of products that contain asbestos which is legal under Federal Law no. 9055/95. Simultaneously, the ABREA website was inundated with pro-asbestos emails as part of a coordinated counterattack by vested interests.
Fernanda Giannasi, a founding member of ABREA, is defiant:
Factories in Brazil consume 100,000 tonnes of asbestos a year (40% of annual national production); many of the asbestos-containing products manufactured in Brazil are exported as is the remaining 60% of national asbestos fibre production to countries which, like Brazil, have poor institutional mechanisms to enforce health and safety laws or no such regulations to protect consumers from the asbestos hazard. Surely consumers have a right to know the true cost to themselves and their families of purchasing an asbestos-containing product. This campaign is designed to highlight these hazards; ABREA is totally committed to this project and pledges to continue its efforts.
February 5, 2007