The Times They Are A-Changing 

by Laurie Kazan-Allen



The occurrence of the XVIII World Congress on Safety and Health at Work, a premier global event organized by the International Labor Organization in Korea, coincides with the hand-over of leadership of the global pro-asbestos campaign from Canadian to Russian interests.1 The transition of power has been ongoing for 2+ years during which time the (Canadian) Chrysotile Institute, an asbestos industry trade association that has been lobbying aggressively on the global stage since 1984, has gradually ceded its position as coordinator of the worldwide chrysotile lobby to emerging powers in Russia – as represented by the International Alliance of Chrysotile Trade Unions (Alliance).

It is highly significant that whereas not one speaker on asbestos in Seoul is from the Chrysotile Institute or the Canadian asbestos industry, several speakers represent asbestos stakeholders from Russia and Ukraine. The Alliance is being represented in Seoul by two speakers and will almost certainly have many delegates in attendance, as money seems to be no object for this industry-backed group.2 The Alliance's well-funded coffers were evident at its inaugural conference in Moscow in April 2007 and its February 2008 event in Vienna. In addition to the costs incurred in mounting these multilingual conferences in European capital cities, the never ending production of glossy propaganda material published in Russian and English represents another big outlay for an organization which has been in existence for such a short time.

An analysis of the presentations listed in the preliminary programme for the ILO conference (June 30-July 2, 2008) shows that there will be a total of 32 papers on asbestos-related subjects. Judging by the titles of papers and the names of the presenters, eight presentations are being made by speakers with known links to industry or for whom links to industry are strongly suspected. The names of these presenters are highlighted in yellow.

Asbestos Related Presentations


2. Asbestos – A Global Disaster (ISSA)

Seven presentations on asbestos-related topics including one from the industry: The Prospects of Global Chrysotile Ban by Dmitry Selyanin, International Alliance of the Trade Union Organizations, an industry backed-lobby group masquerading as a labor organization in the Russian Federation.

4. Managements of Risks in Work Environment

Why All Mineral Fibers are not the Same: The Factors which Differentiate one Fiber from Another in Today's Work EnvironmentsDavid Bernstein

Although Bernstein gives his affiliation as “Consultant in Toxicology, Switzerland,” he is one of the asbestos industry's favorite scientists having undertaken on their behalf “commissioned research” projects and numerous international appearances to spread his spurious theories surrounding the lower bio-persistence of chrysotile. Bernstein's theories have been widely discredited by independent scientists such as Drs. David Egilman, Barry Castleman, Richard Lemen, Henri Pezerat and others, all of whom view the issue of bio-persistence as a “red herring.”

17. ILO and WHO Actions towards Elimination of Asbestos-Related Diseases (ILO)

Nine presentations on asbestos-related topics including one from an industry-linked Russian institute, the Institute of Occupational Health of Russian Academy of Medical Sciences: The Development of a National Programme for the Elimination if Asbestos-Related Diseases in the Russian Federation by Evgeny Kovalevsky.

[Confusion arises because the Russian Academy of Sciences is a prestigious institution whereas the Russian Academy of Medical Sciences has established links with the Russian chrysotile industry.]

42. Asbestos: International Trade Union Campaign on Eliminating Asbestos Use and Prevention (BWI)

Six presentations on asbestos-related topics – no industry input.

Speakers' Corner

Asia's Asbestos Time Bomb – Sugio Furuya, Ban Asbestos Japan Network.

The Role of Trade Union in the Elimination of Asbestos-Related DiseasesAndrey Kholzakov, “The International Allience of Trade Unions Organizations 'Chrysotile,'” (sic) an industry backed-lobby group masquerading as a labor organization in the Russian Federation.

The Monitoring of Dust levels and Health Effects at the Bazhenovskoye Chrysotile Asbestos DepositSergey Kashanskiy, Ekaterinburg Medical Research Center, Russia

Exposure to Chrysotile Fibre in an Asbestos-Cement Factory from 1999-2004, Harare, ZimbabweBenjamin Mutetwa, National Social Security Authority, Zimbabwe

Poster Sessions

The Controlled Use of Chrysotile AsbestosNatalyia Piatnytsia-gorpynchenko, Institute for Occupational Health, Ukraine

Occupational Cancer in the Sverdlovsk Region of the Russian FederationSergey Kashansky, Ekaterinburg Medical Research Center, Russia

The Study of Health Hazard Evaluation in Asbestos Processing Industries in Thailand – Chittima Veeradejkriengkrai, National Institute of Working Conditions and Environment, Thailand

A Comparative Study of Asbestos Air Samplings using the NIOH Method 7400 and the Cyclone Sampler Aduldatch Sailabaht, fromUniversity, Thailand.

A Case of Asbestosis in a Foundry Worker – TaeWoo Kim, Kosha

May 8, 2008


1 See the website:

2 Either due to translation errors or deliberate intent, Dmitry Selyanin, one of the speakers from the International Alliance of Chrysotile Trade Unions, omits the reference to Chrysotile from his affiliation claiming to be from by the “International Alliance of the Trade Union Organizations.” Perhaps he thought by citing the full affiliation, conference organizers might have thought twice about giving him such a high profile position from which to spout industry propaganda.



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