March 19, 2019

Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO) Announces Unity and Remembrance Brunch Sunday, April 19


The Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO), which combines education, advocacy, and community to prevent exposure and ensure justice for asbestos victims, today announced the Unity and Remembrance Brunch to close out its 11th Annual Asbestos Awareness Conference on April 17 – 19, 2015, at the Crystal Gateway Marriott in Arlington, VA.

The brunch, which takes place from 9:30-11:30 am on Sunday, April 19, is an annual tradition for the ADAO community and brings together asbestos victims, loved ones, and supporters with select presentations and musical performances in an intimate setting, culminating with an inspirational candle lighting ceremony. This year’s agenda includes:

  • Opening remarks from Dr. Richard Lemen, ADAO Science Advisory Board Co-Chair
  • Keynote speech from Sue Vento, Widow of the late Congressman Bruce Vento
  • Presentation from Lou Williams, Mesothelioma Warrior; Australian Director, Global Ban Asbestos Network (GBAN); and Social Media Awareness Officer, Asbestos Diseases Foundation of Australia (ADFA)
  • Performance by Jill Cagle, Mesothelioma Widow and Singer
  • Performance of “I’m Not Ready Yet” by Folk Rock Artist, Troi Atkinson
  • Candle Lighting led by Ellen Trunkelrott, ADAO Board Member

“This year’s conference comes on the heels of the introduction of the “The Alan Reinstein and Trevor Schaefer Toxic Chemical Protection Act.” (S. 725) led by Senators Barbara Boxer and Edward Markey” which would ensure the EPA could ban asbestos,” stated Linda Reinstein, President and Co-Founder of ADAO. “Our Unity and Remembrance Brunch is a key example of our continued spirit of hope, and the shared commitment to work towards an asbestos free global community. I am hopeful that one day, the tragedy of asbestos will be a thing of the past, negating the need for such a gathering.”

“The Unity and Remembrance Brunch is important to me – I’m dying of mesothelioma,” said Lou Williams. “If only asbestos had been banned in Australia and around the world when the science confirmed asbestos caused disease and deaths, I might not be suffering today from a preventable and deadly asbestos-caused cancer. But I will not die in vain and remain hopeful that through unity, we will one day see a global ban on asbestos. It is my most important dying wish.”

ADAO’s 11th Annual Asbestos Awareness Conference features more than 40 renowned medical experts and asbestos victims from ten countries, focusing on the latest advancements in asbestos disease prevention, treatment for mesothelioma and other asbestos-caused diseases, and global ban asbestos advocacy. To register for ADAO’s 2015 conference, click here.

Despite its known dangers, asbestos remains legal and lethal in the USA and imports continue. Exposure to asbestos can cause mesothelioma, lung, gastrointestinal, laryngeal, and ovarian cancers; as well as non-malignant lung and pleural disorders. The World Health Organization estimates that 107,000 workers around the world will die every year of an asbestos-related disease, equaling 300 deaths per day.

About the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization

The Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO) was founded by asbestos victims and their families in 2004. ADAO is the largest non-profit in the U.S. dedicated to providing asbestos victims and concerned citizens with a united voice through our education, advocacy, and community initiatives. ADAO seeks to raise public awareness about the dangers of asbestos exposure, advocate for an asbestos ban, and protect asbestos victims’ civil rights. For more information, visit ADAO, a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, does not make legal referrals.

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Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO) Announces Unity and Remembrance Brunch Sunday, April 19

Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO) to Present at American Public Health Association (APHA) 142nd Annual …


The Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO), the largest independent non-profit organization in the U.S. which combines education, advocacy, and community to help ensure justice for asbestos victims; has been selected to present at the American Public Health Association 142nd Annual Meeting and Expo November 15-19 in New Orleans.

APHA’s Annual Meeting & Exposition is where public health professionals convene, learn, network and engage with peers. The annual meeting is focused on strengthening the profession of public health, sharing the latest research and information, promoting best practices and advocating for public health issues and policies grounded in research.

“ADAO is honored to be chosen as a part of the respected community of public health advocates at the 142nd APHA conference,” stated ADAO President and Co-Founder Linda Reinstein. “Although I cannot be there in person due to my participation at the Australian Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency (ASAE) 1st Annual International Conference, I am thankful to my colleague Mark Catlin, for presenting, on our behalf, the important story about the role that asbestos awareness plays in furthering public health.”

On November 17, Mark Catlin, Occupational Health and Safety Director with the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), Washington, DC, will present on behalf of SEIU and ADAO, about the critical role of asbestos disease awareness in promoting and protecting public health. The presentation, titled “History and Impact of Asbestos on OHS in the U.S. and internationally,” will examine how asbestos has caused one of the largest man-made disasters. Between 1900 and 2013, the U.S. consumed 31 million metric tons of asbestos, which has given rise to continued occupational, environmental, and consumer exposure. Globally, an estimated 2 million tons of asbestos is mined each year, and the U.S. continues to import more than 1,000 tons annually. Equally problematic is the long latency period for asbestos disease to present that results in misdiagnosis and under-reporting. More than 50 countries have banned asbestos, but the U.S. has not. The presentation will provide a brief historical overview of the global asbestos crisis, address the inaccuracies in morbidity data, inadequacies in occupational health and safety protections, and regulatory violations. The presentation will also review progress and challenges in asbestos legislation, health education strategies and global advocacy to prevent exposure and to eliminate asbestos-related diseases.

Despite its known dangers, there is still no global ban on asbestos, and it continues to claim lives. Exposure to asbestos, a human carcinogen, can cause mesothelioma, lung, gastrointestinal, laryngeal, and ovarian cancers; as well as non-malignant lung and pleural disorders. The World Health Organization estimates that 107,000 workers around the world will die every year of an asbestos-related disease, equaling 300 deaths per day.

About the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization

The Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO) was founded by asbestos victims and their families in 2004. ADAO is the largest non-profit in the U.S. dedicated to providing asbestos victims and concerned citizens with a united voice through our education, advocacy, and community initiatives. ADAO seeks to raise public awareness about the dangers of asbestos exposure, advocate for an asbestos ban, and protect asbestos victims’ civil rights. For more information, visit


Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO)

Kim Cecchini, Media Relations


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Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO) to Present at American Public Health Association (APHA) 142nd Annual …

Fitch Affirms Tyco International at 'A-' Following Asbestos Charge; Outlook Stable


Fitch Ratings has affirmed the Issuer Default Rating (IDR) and long-term debt ratings for Tyco International Ltd. (Tyco; NYSE: TYC) and Tyco International Finance S.A. (TIFSA) at ‘A-‘. The Rating Outlook is Stable. A full list of ratings follows at the end of this release.


Earlier today, Tyco announced non-cash asbestos charges totaling $465 million, net of certain adjustments, together with plans to make cash payments of $600 million during 2015 to fund the company’s asbestos liabilities. The amounts are substantially higher than Tyco’s previous estimates, but Fitch believes the company has sufficient liquidity and free cash flow (FCF) to make payments to a bankruptcy trust and a qualified settlement fund over the next 12 months without a material increase in debt. Fitch estimates cash balances would decline significantly by the end of 2015, possibly to less than $500 million, compared to $1.9 billion at June 27, 2014, but the reduced cash level should be sufficient to fund operations.

More than 90% of Tyco’s asbestos cases involve the company’s Yarway Corporation and Grinnell LLC subsidiaries. The new asbestos charges recognize a recent agreement in principal with Yarway’s claimants and a revised estimate of asbestos liabilities at Grinnell and other non-Yarway businesses. Tyco plans to fund future payments for Yarway’s asbestos liabilities by contributing $325 million to a section 524(g) trust, including approximately $100 million of an intercompany amount claimed by Yarway. The agreement in principal pertaining to Yarway is subject to various approvals and would expire if not finalized by certain dates in 2015 or 2016. Tyco also expects to fund future payments related to non-Yarway asbestos liabilities by contributing approximately $275 million to a qualified settlement fund in coordination with insurers.

There is a risk that the revised estimate of Tyco’s asbestos liability is low and that Tyco will be required to make additional claim payments in addition to its planned contribution of $600 million. This concern is mitigated by the extended period over which future additional payments might be required, and by Tyco’s financial flexibility to reduce future spending for share repurchases or acquisitions.

Cash totaled $1.9 billion at the end of the third fiscal quarter, excluding $277 million of time deposits, which reflected proceeds from the recent divestitures of ADT Korea for approximately $1.9 billion and the remaining share of Atkore for $250 million. Much of the cash is being deployed for share repurchases. The divestitures enhanced Tyco’s focus on the commercial fire and security markets. Pro forma earnings and cash flow will be slightly lower as a result of the divestitures. However, ongoing improvements in operating results at the company’s core businesses, and a gradual return to higher FCF anticipated after 2014, should mitigate the negative impact of the divestitures on credit metrics.

In addition to cash, Tyco’s liquidity at June 27, 2014 included a $1 billion bank credit facility that matures in 2017. The bank facility backs commercial paper issued under a $1 billion program. There are no material debt maturities scheduled until October 2015 when a $258 million note is due. Debt totaled nearly $1.5 billion at June 27, 2014. Tyco also has substantial leases which Fitch considers in adjusted debt leverage metrics.

Rating concerns include potential tax liabilities related to Tyco’s separation transactions in 2012 and 2007. The IRS asserts the company owes income taxes of approximately $1 billion for the 1997 – 2000 tax years. The amount includes penalties but not interest which could be substantial. The IRS claim relates to intercompany debt on which the IRS has disallowed $2.86 billion of interest and related deductions. If its claim is upheld, the IRS could potentially demand additional income tax payments for similar deductions totaling $6.6 billion in subsequent periods.

A resolution of the tax dispute could take several years, which would defer the cash impact. Any payments that might eventually be required would be shared with the other companies involved in both of Tyco’s separations in 2012 and 2007. While not expected, an inability of the other companies to share in any future payments would increase Tyco’s liability. If the IRS makes claims on all $9.5 billion of deductions and ultimately prevails, Fitch estimates Tyco’s share of the income tax liabilities could total approximately $600 million, plus interest. An adverse outcome involving a large payment is currently beyond the rating horizon but could potentially lead to a negative rating action.

Fitch estimates FCF after dividends in 2014 at approximately $100 million or more, compared to FCF of $291 million in 2013. FCF continues to be reduced in the near term by cash payments for special charges. As Tyco funds these items, FCF could gradually return toward a normalized annual level of at least $500 million over the next two years or so, depending on the timing of cash charges. FCF would also benefit from an increase in operating margins related to restructuring and as non-residential construction markets improve. Concerns about low FCF are mitigated by Tyco’s conservative debt structure.

The cash impact of special charges increased to $392 million in the first nine months and include restructuring, environmental payments, and tax-related payments under Tyco’s separation agreements. Cash charges will likely continue through at least 2015, but at declining levels.

Cash deployment in the near term is concentrated on share repurchases. Tyco expected to repurchase approximately 30 million shares in the second half of 2014 which could result in total repurchases of around $1.5 billion or more for the full year. Additional repurchases could occur in 2015. In addition to share repurchases, Tyco has completed or announced more than $100 million of acquisitions in 2014 compared to more than $250 million in 2013. Acquisitions are a key part of Tyco’s strategy to expand its presence globally and in higher-growth emerging regions.

At the end of fiscal 2013, pension plans were underfunded by $348 million (U.S. $140 million; foreign $208 million). Tyco estimates it will contribute at least the required $53 million to its pension plans in 2014; contributions to global plans totaled $37 million through the first nine months. U.S. plans were 82% funded, up from 67% in 2012. More than half (63%) of Tyco’s gross pension obligations are outside the U.S.

Rating strengths include Tyco’s geographic diversification, well-established positions in its fire and security markets, improving operating profile, and financial flexibility. Total adjusted debt/EBITDAR at June 27, 2014 was 2.0x, roughly flat compared to the end of fiscal 2013, and within the range expected by Fitch.

Tyco continues to integrate and streamline operations to support higher margins. Margins are also supported by Tyco’s increased selectivity around projects in the security business. This strategy initially had a negative impact on volumes, but the company could see a higher mix of recurring revenue over time. Fitch estimates approximately 25% of revenue comes from recurring services which are relatively stable and help to offset cyclicality in the installation business.


Future developments that may, individually or collectively, lead to a negative rating action include:

–FCF remains weak longer than expected due to operating results or high cash charges. The recently announced charges for asbestos liabilities reflected a material increase, but Fitch believes the impact of cash funding during fiscal 2015 will be manageable. Fitch expects FCF, excluding asbestos funding, will increase to approximately $300 million-$400 million in 2015, depending on the timing of other cash charges, and FCF/total adjusted debt will improve above 10% over the long term;

–High spending for share repurchases or acquisitions leads to a sustained increase in leverage, including total adjusted debt/EBITDAR above 2.5x;

–Liquidity is impaired by an adverse tax decision.

Future developments that may, individually or collectively, lead to a positive rating action include:

–Strong earnings or debt reduction lead to total adjusted debt/EBITDAR consistently below 1.50x – 1.75x;

–FCF/total adjusted debt improves toward 20%;

–Contingent tax liabilities are eventually resolved.

Fitch has affirmed the following ratings:

Tyco International Ltd.

–IDR at ‘A-‘;

–Senior unsecured notes at ‘A-‘;

–Short-term IDR at ‘F2’.

Tyco International Finance S.A.

–IDR at ‘A-‘

–Senior unsecured revolving credit facilities at ‘A-‘;

–Senior unsecured notes at ‘A-‘;

–Short-term IDR at ‘F2’;

–Commercial paper at ‘F2’.

The Rating Outlook is Stable.

Additional information is available at‘.

Applicable Criteria and Related Research:

–‘Corporate Rating Methodology’ (May 28, 2014).

Applicable Criteria and Related Research:

Corporate Rating Methodology – Including Short-Term Ratings and Parent and Subsidiary Linkage

Additional Disclosure

Solicitation Status



Fitch Ratings

Primary Analyst

Eric Ause

Senior Director


Fitch Ratings, Inc.

70 West Madison Street

Chicago, IL 60602


Secondary Analyst

Jason Pompeii

Senior Director



Committee Chairperson

Craig Fraser

Managing Director



Media Relations

Brian Bertsch, +1 212-908-0549

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Fitch Affirms Tyco International at 'A-' Following Asbestos Charge; Outlook Stable

Landfill facing asbestos concerns during storm repairs in Madison County

Canastota (WSYR-TV) – The ruins of a former antique store and a karate business have been piled in a heap in Oneida since early July. The biggest obstacle to getting it cleaned up appears to be money.

“They have to truck it all the way out to Seneca Falls. That’s the nearest dump that allows it from our area,” said Heath Waterman, who owns part of the property.

He has a contractor lined up to haul away his portion of the rubble, once he has the money saved to pay for the trip.

“The fact is that we do not accept friable asbestos in the Madison County landfill,” explained Madison County Department of Solid Waste and Sanitation Director James Zecca.

Too small to handle that type of waste, the Madison County landfill is getting swamped with calls from homeowners wondering what to do with materials containing asbestos.

“With all of the storms that we’ve been having, unfortunately people’s homes have been damaged and they are doing some major renovations, and in worse case scenarios it is complete demolition of their homes,” Zecca said.

The landfill director is hoping to educate property owners about the rules. Zecca recommends a survey by state certified inspectors before any renovation work begins, identifying areas for removing friable or non-friable asbestos separately.

Zecca says powdery friable asbestos, often found on pipe insulation and various building materials, can cost up to $200 a ton to unload in other landfills. However, non-friable asbestos on floor tiles or roof shingles, among other things, is accepted at the Madison County landfill, for far less money.

An inspector will help property owners determine the difference before they start tearing a room apart, so they can contain removal of friable asbestos separately, minimizing trips to other landfills.

“Once the building is down, there is no way of identifying where the asbestos is located. So, what the state does is, they step in and say all of the debris, the total house now is considered contaminated with friable asbestos.”

There’s no proof that Waterman’s building contained friable asbestos. But, there’s also no proof it did not contain the waste. He didn’t have an updated asbestos report on record when the City of Oneida ordered an emergency demolition after the wall collapsed.

Now, as a precaution, all of the rubble is classified as possibly containing friable asbestos.

Without the money to transport the debris at the higher rate of disposal, Waterman has a mess that he hopes others can avoid.

“You’d think for something so dangerous they would have more dumps available, so you wouldn’t have to truck it two hours one way,” Waterman said.

Zecca recommends that homeowners hire professionals to handle asbestos.

Residents looking for more information about disposal can call the Madison County Recycling Hotline at 1-800-721-2208 or click here to find details online.


Landfill facing asbestos concerns during storm repairs in Madison County

Asbestos found at Northcott

Asbestos found at Northcott

Aug. 27, 2014 @ 12:00 AM

HUNTINGTON — Asbestos has been found in roofing and caulking materials at the three Northcott Court buildings slated for demolition along Hal Greer Boulevard.

Huntington WV Housing Authority Executive Director Vickie Lester said the asbestos is in small amounts and could not become airborne through demolition, but the agency is proceeding with removal “out of an abundance of caution.”

The Housing Authority did a major asbestos abatement on the Northcott complex in 1992.

The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection received a complaint last week that there was still asbestos at the site, spokeswoman Kelley Gillenwater said.

A DEP inspector was on-site Tuesday, and a test on certain materials came back positive for asbestos, she said.

“We’re doing follow-up testing to see what levels and concentrations we’re dealing with,” Gillenwater said.

The material must be handled by a contractor licensed in asbestos removal and must be disposed of in a landfill that is qualified to accept it, Gillenwater said.

“We are working with (the Housing Authority), and they’ve been very cooperative,” she said.

Lester said the asbestos was found in the felt beneath the roof edges, and in caulking used on joints in the boiler room.

She said the asbestos found is “non-friable,” meaning it cannot be crushed by hand, and does not pose any risk of getting into the air.

Upon destruction, friable asbestos releases fibers into the air that, when inhaled, can cause lung cancer, mesothelioma and asbestosis.

Lester said her understanding is that an anonymous call was made to the DEP about Northcott, and she believes it might have been made by a former Housing Authority employee.

“It was probably someone who was around for the abatement in 1992 and ’93,” she said. “It’s disturbing that someone would have this knowledge for more than 20 years and just come forward now.”

Northcott Court is the oldest of the Housing Authority’s complexes, built in the 1940s.

The Housing Authority will build two new housing developments as it demolishes Northcott over the next three years. Once the entire Northcott complex is down, the city of Huntington plans to develop commercial property on the site.

Sullivan Excavating out of Coal Grove, Ohio, was awarded the contract to demolish the first three buildings.

Lester said the company is still doing some salvage work before demolition, and Frontier Communications is moving phone lines back so service won’t be impacted when the first three buildings come down.

The asbestos find isn’t expected to delay actual demolition, Lester said. If it does, she said, it will only be by two to three days.

Follow reporter Ben Fields on Twitter @BenFieldsHD.



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Asbestos found at Northcott

Aug. 27, 2014 @ 12:00 AM

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Asbestos found at Northcott

Are we Serious about Asbestos?

Feature Article of Saturday, 2 November 2013

Columnist: Baidoo,Robert

Are we Serious about Asbestos?

One of the few things we who have lived in the diaspora tend to do when we return home, either for a visit or to relocate is to visit places in the local area where we spent time during the formative years of our lives. After all, these places leave an indelible mark on us and give us feelings of nostalgia. It is such urge that took me to the South Labadi Estates area near Regal Cinema, where I lived briefly with my sister immediately after Secondary School. The cinema was of course very dilapidated and not used for what I had memories of. Additionally, I noticed a vast factory that stretched from the main road to the beach.

In front of the factory were stacks of Corrugated Asbestos roofing sheets, presumably ready to be taken to various distributors or markets. Posted on the walls of the factory overlooking the stacks of the asbestos sheets were Obituaries of various demised individuals I assumed were employees or affiliates of the factory. The sight of so much asbestos sheets in a heavily residential area got me a bit concerned. Asbestos is dangerous. Why were the residents of the area moving about with no concern over its presence? Were they aware of the dangers or did they simply not care? My curiosity was fueled by my own experience with regulations on asbestos when I was remodeling my house in Los Angeles, California, to replace my heater with a central air conditioning system. Each of the contractors who came to prepare an estimate for me brought copies of regulations covering procedures for the removal of asbestos material that had been used as insulation for the old heater. They not only had the copies but were also so knowledgeable of the regulations that they could intelligently discuss each of my options with me, and offer me specific references for further perusal if I had additional questions.
With this as a background, I decided to do some research into the rules and regulations concerning Asbestos in Ghana. My initial action was to go to the Ghana Government website on the internet and type in the words, “asbestos regulations”. One of the first items that came up was an article, published in November 2005, in which Professor Kwabena Frimpong Boateng, former Chief Executive of the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital, called for the Enforcement of the law banning the production and use of asbestos roofing sheets, which had been detected to cause lung cancers. Given the stature of Prof Boateng in our nation, I got very interested in following up on what he was saying. Did he mean that a law existed here in Ghana that he was calling for enforcement of or was he advocating for the passing of such a law and its enforcement? I understood his statement to mean that there is a law, and that this law in fact bans the use of asbestos roofing sheets and his problem was that the law was not being enforced.
To satisfy my curiosity, I followed up by looking at the Website of the Environmental Protection Agency, which I assumed would be the appropriate Government Agency that would oversee the regulation of asbestos, in order to assess the progress we have made in regulating the production, importation and use of not only asbestos sheets, but also all other products containing asbestos. My interest in the EPA should be obvious, after all that is the Government Agency charged with monitoring the safety of our environment, including promulgating regulations and enforcement procedures on various items that affect our environment. Furthermore, Environmental Impact Assessment reports are presented to the Agency for review and approval prior to the commencement of several significant projects including real estate development, mining, quarries, and road construction. I assumed the approval process would entail some guidelines on the handling of asbestos and related product.
I perused the website looking for publications the agency has, that will educate “we the people” on the Government’s Policy on asbestos and, at a minimum, will alert us to the dangers that asbestos poses to us as well as direct us on what to do in cases where it is present or suspected. Before going into the reason for my interest in this information, perhaps I should set the stage by first discussing some attributes of this asbestos substance:
• Asbestos is a mineral fiber that occurs in rock and soil. It is popular among manufacturers and builders because it is good at sound absorption plus, it has average tensile strength, and is resistant to fire, heat, electrical and chemical damage. It is also highly preferred because it is affordable. In Ghana it is commonly used in the building construction for roofing, moldings floor tiles, and, electrical insulation, inter alia. Some of these building materials are manufactured locally but others come in from the importation of automobile parts, paper products, heat resistant products, and packaging and friction products. In short, it is safe to say that we are exposed to asbestos daily because it is found in our buildings, home floors, schools, work and mines since it also occurs naturally in our soils and rocks. Asbestos fibers may be released into the air by the disturbance of asbestos-containing material during product use, demolition work, building or home maintenance, repair, and remodeling. In general, exposure may occur only when the asbestos-containing material is disturbed or damaged in some way to release particles and fibers into the air.
• Three of the major health effects associated with asbestos exposure are lung cancer; mesothelioma, a rare form of cancer that is found in the thin lining of the lung, chest and the abdomen and heart; and asbestosis, a serious progressive, long-term, non-cancer disease of the lungs. Because of its proven fatal effects, several countries have banned all use of asbestos, as well as the extraction, manufacture, and processing of asbestos related products.
• Early detection and immediate action on exposure to asbestos is critical because the length of exposure is directly related to the severity of the illness. Those with long-term exposure usually experience more acute forms of the illness than those with shorter exposure periods.
• Although some people develop serious ailments within a short time after asbestos exposure, some illnesses do not show symptoms until many years, even decades after initial exposure. For example, mesothelioma diagnosis usually occurs decades after the initial exposure to asbestos.
• The survival rate of the diseases caused by asbestos is poor. For instance, mesothelioma cannot be cured with today’s medical knowledge, and the average survival time after diagnosis is only one year. According to some medical sources, only about 10 percent of people diagnosed with this ailment survive more than five years. The survival rate for other types of lung cancer is just as poor with nearly 60 percent dying within one year and 75 percent within two years of diagnosis. About 16 percent of people diagnosed with non-small cell lung cancer survive the disease for more than five years and only about six percent survive more than five years.
Given the above reasons, and the fact that the use of asbestos is so rampant in Ghana, one could see why I am highly interested in finding out what our Government, through the EPA had done about outright banning the use of asbestos, or at least a definitive plan to ensure that its use is gradually diminished and eventually ceased. Further, I expected to see urgent action to minimize exposure to the general population by removing existing known asbestos containing material everywhere. At the very least, seeing a large manufacturing plant located in a heavily populated area should be of a significant concern not only to our public officials but also the health officials and the area residents in particular.
It is pathetic, to say the least, that I have thus far found nothing from the Executive, Legislative and Judicial branches of Government concerning the control and eradication of this albatross.
• My visit to the EPA website did not yield any information whatsoever regarding our national policy on asbestos, despite the calls for regulatory action. I actually went to the site and typed in the word Asbestos, and then Asbestos Laws. In both cases the comment I got in return was: 0 results found. After several tries, I gave up and on Tuesday October 8, I called the phone number (0302664697) which was listed on the website. The officer I spoke to said asbestos is banned and cannot be imported into the country. He did not elaborate on the rules covering manufacture or the removal and eradication of existing sources of asbestos. I asked where I could obtain a copy of the specific statute. According to him, only the Director can give me that information and he has travelled to Japan. Call back when he returns. Quite frankly, I am at a loss to understand why civil servants ever claim that something cannot be done because the one responsible has travelled. Is this a problem with ineptitude of subordinate staff or reluctance to delegate? Is the Director so unoccupied that he is the only one who can give information on such important issues? Or yet still, does all activity have to halt because one person is absent? One never knows and we may not get to the bottom of this issue here so we move on.

Just to make sure I covered all my options, I also visited other government and local agency websites with no success. Some of the sites I visited are:
• NHIS- No result
• – No results found
Just so I was not way off base, I sent out a Facebook solicitation to a number of friends, hoping for someone to point me to where I can get written or other material covering the subject. Like me, not one person was able to obtain anything on the subject.
I might add that Prof. Boateng is not the only one who has called for action on this issue. The General Secretary of the International Metalworkers’ Federation, upon his return to Ghana from a conference in Vienna, in June 2005 is reported to have called on the government to ban the manufacture and the use of asbestos because it kills about 100,000 people each year. He suggested that this could be done through the ratification and implementation of the International Convention adopted by the International Labor Organization in 1986 calling for the global ban of the product.
Weak as the regulatory effort is, it is even more serious that there is no program in place to cover the removal or replacement of current substances containing asbestos and the control of further production of the material internally. Several buildings, including just about all public structures, have the corrugated asbestos sheets and other related products in them. One cannot avoid noticing it in every area of our daily lives. It is woefully inadequate to give lip service to banning the importation of asbestos, when the production of the material locally just as lethal. Additionally, with as much dust as we create, it is not too much to institute some measures to control instances where our people will be exposed to the substance by inhaling it. In fact, one would argue, and it would not be too farfetched, that there should be a plan to, over time, remove asbestos in all building structures and replace them with safer material. Granted, some officials will come up with arguments about the loss of employment of certain individuals currently employed in industries dependent on asbestos. First of all, as noted by Mr. Kpoh, “if the substance was banned there were sufficient safe substitute to replace it”. Further, jobs lost could be replaced by the substitutes and in other areas including social protection as well.
What is it that I want? Well, nothing different from what the best practices of public health are in other societies, but let me innumerate a few actions that I would like to see at the very minimum.
• First, a coherent public policy set by an act of parliament or an equivalent document that spells out our country’s desire to eradicate or control ALL contaminants, such as asbestos, to levels which prevent harm to the general public health and designating an appropriate public agency for the promulgation of rules and regulations on the enforcement of the public policy.

• Authorize appropriate agency or agencies to set guidelines and develop policies and procedures for the control and periodic monitoring of operations and other actions that lead to exposure of the citizenry to asbestos. To include:

? Identification and monitoring of the diseases caused by asbestos and/or effects of prolonged exposure to asbestos.
? Collection and dissemination of health information on asbestos including ways to control naturally occurring asbestos dust.
? Monitoring and Regulation of asbestos producing activities including manufacturing, mining, quarrying and construction.
? Procedures for the handling of asbestos occurring in around homes or populated areas.

• Task the Ministry of Health, or one of its agencies with the responsibility of tracking incidents of public exposure to Lung Cancer and Mesothelioma and other diseases related to exposure to asbestos and recommend mitigating policies as needed.

It is certainly not possible to enumerate all that needs to be done to ensure public safety on this issue, however, some of these suggestions should start us in the right direction. Further, any such public policies and other actions should be widely disseminated to the general public.
I have had discussions with several friends and relatives who insist that I should accept conditions as they are and be thankful for what I have. It makes me wonder. Is this what I should be thankful for? That my leaders have to be told to care for my health and welfare? It is such moments that I am reminded of words from Kwesi Brew’s poem, A Plea for Mercy:
“…Why should we the sons of the land
Plead unheeded before your shrine?
When our hearts are full of song
And our lips tremble with sadness?…”
“…But we have come in tattered penury
Begging at the door of a Master…”


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Are we Serious about Asbestos?

Asbestos trade breakfast attracts hundreds of workers

More than 350 people working on the Canterbury rebuild downed tools for two hours early this morning to learn more about working with asbestos and understanding the risks and controls that need to be in place.

The Canterbury Rebuild Health and Safety Programme team, part of the Ministry of Business of Innovation and Employment’s Health and Safety Group, held the trade breakfast at Addington Raceway this morning.

“Managing the health risks of asbestos is a major issue in the rebuild, and it’s absolutely crucial that any employer or principal working on the rebuild understands their responsibilities and requirements,” says Programme Director Kathryn Heiler.

“As the residential rebuild gets underway in earnest, many construction companies are asking for more information and advice on asbestos removal,” Ms Heiler says.

“In particular companies are interested in the process for applying for Certificates of Competence, a requirement for anyone who works with friable asbestos, or undertakes what’s known as restricted work with asbestos.

“Since 2011 MBIE has already held a number of smaller workshops and education sessions on asbestos and occupational health in the rebuild – but it has been fantastic to see such a strong turnout this morning.

“Over the next few months the Programme team will be holding more of these types of events, helping to provide information and guidance on health and safety to rebuild workers and companies,” Ms Heiler says.

This morning’s trade breakfast covered off topics of:

– hazard identification

– asbestos sites

– health issues

– testing and sampling

– responsibilities of employers and duty-holders

– unrestricted and restricted work, and

– Certificates of Competency.

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Asbestos trade breakfast attracts hundreds of workers