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June 23, 2018

Asbestos imports rising in Canada despite health warnings

Despite rising fears of asbestos-related illnesses, imports of products containing asbestos show little sign of slowing.

According to Statistics Canada figures, imports of asbestos-related items rose to $6-million last year from $4.9-million in 2013. The bulk of these goods consisted of asbestos brake linings and pads, which hit $3.6-million in imports in 2014, a seven-year high. Other imports included raw asbestos, friction materials and some items containing crocidolite, which is considered the most dangerous form of asbestos.

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The dollar amounts may not seem like a lot of money given Canada’s overall trade, but in terms of brake pads that translates into hundreds of thousands entering the Canadian market each year. The World Health Organization and other agencies have said that all forms of asbestos are carcinogenic and the best way to eliminate asbestos-related diseases is to stop using it.

Asbestos is by far the top on-the-job killer in Canada, accounting for almost 5,000 death claims since 1996. Many victims die of mesothelioma, asbestosis and lung cancer, though it may take 20 to 50 years after exposures to materialize. And yet Canada continues to allow imports and exports of asbestos, unlike other dozens of countries such as Australia, Japan, Sweden and Britain, which have imposed a ban.

Canada has imported more than $100-million in asbestos brake pad and linings in the past decade. In total, more than $250-million in imports of asbestos and asbestos-containing products entered the country between 2004 and 2014. Canada was also one of the world’s largest exporters of asbestos, though raw shipments stopped in 2011 after the last mines closed. Last year, this country exported $1.8-million worth of asbestos products.

A key concern about the brake pads centres on mechanics, who often use air hoses to clean car parts while replacing them, putting dangerous dust in the air. In the past decade, 61 claims for the deaths of auto, truck and bus mechanics stemming from asbestos-related diseases have been approved, according to the Association of Workers’ Compensation Boards of Canada.

Brake mechanics, along with construction workers and shipyard workers, are among those most at risk of exposure to asbestos at work, according to the Ontario Workplace Safety and Insurance Board. A tally by Carex Canada, a research project funded by the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer, showed 4,300 people in auto repair and maintenance are exposed to asbestos in the workplace.

The federal government has long maintained a policy of “controlled use” of the mineral and Health Canada says that as long as the fibres are enclosed or tightly bound, there is no significant health risk. It’s difficult to ensure, though, that fibres stay tightly bound as materials wear out.

“It’s hard to quantify the risk, but with a known carcinogen that’s associated with cancers at extremely low levels of exposure, I just don’t think you can be too cautious on this. And it’s not like there isn’t a viable alternative. There are other brake pads out there,” says Paul Demers, a University of Toronto professor in public health and director at the Occupational Cancer Research Centre at Cancer Care Ontario.

Canada’s two main opposition parties want to see the end of asbestos use in Canada.

“We need to develop a comprehensive strategy to phase out the use of dangerous materials, especially asbestos,” Liberal MP Geoff Regan said, adding that his party wants a ban of all asbestos use in Canada. “When it comes to brake pads, there’s really no need to have these products in Canada since our manufacturers have largely replaced asbestos with safer alternatives. I can’t imagine that Canadian drivers would accept the idea that these products are being used in their cars, if they were really fully aware of the situation.”

Mr. Regan wants to see more education on the dangers of asbestos, a national registry of federal public buildings with asbestos and more monitoring of asbestos-related diseases in Canada.

Ending the use of asbestos brake pads “is an excellent place to start because brake shoes are one thing that a lot of home handymen, backyard mechanics can do on their own, so therefore you are exposing people outside the industrial setting and into the residential setting. There’s unnecessary risk,” said NDP MP Pat Martin, who has been calling for a ban for nearly two decades.

A couple of U.S. states have passed laws restricting use of brake pads with asbestos and momentum is building to limit their use among manufacturers and in imports.

That effort is going national. On Jan. 21, a memorandum of understanding was signed between the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Environmental Council of the States, the Brake Manufacturers Council and other industry stakeholders that will limit the use of asbestos (along with copper and other elements) in all brake pads including imports, said Bill Hanvey, executive director of the Brake Manufacturers Council, in an interview.

“We’re trying to make sure we have a level playing field because asbestos is a cheaper ingredient and the North American manufacturers have eliminated asbestos from their formulations many years ago and substituted more expensive materials to avoid using asbestos,” said Mr. Hanvey, who is based near Raleigh, N.C., and is also senior vice-president of the Automotive Aftermarket Suppliers Association.

“We want to make sure we’re not put at a competitive disadvantage by the importation of products that contain asbestos.”

Safer, made-in-Canada alternatives to asbestos are available, though they cost more. Rick Jamieson is president and chief executive officer of Guelph, Ont.-based ABS Friction, an asbestos-free brake-pad factory. He wants to see a complete asbestos ban in Canada.

“We would like to see the same legislation [as some U.S. states] so that it’s a level playing field across North America and that Canada doesn’t end up a dumping ground for asbestos brake pads,” he said. “Because if they’re going to ban them in the U.S., they’re going to go somewhere.”

Marc Brazeau, president and CEO of the Automotive Industries Association of Canada, said workers’ safety is a top priority and that the organization would not object to a ban provided the industry was given sufficient notice. “If there is a phase-out period and an opportunity for companies to react, I’m very optimistic and confident that our industry would react in an appropriate way,” he said.

Concern over brake pads has prompted Ontario’s Ministry of Labour to issue a warning. Asbestos “in aftermarket replacement brake pads poses an increased risk of asbestos-related disease for auto brake mechanics,” the ministry said in a 2013 alert.

It noted that the presence of asbestos in aftermarket brake pads “poses an increased risk of exposure to hazardous concentrations of asbestos dust during the maintenance and repair of asbestos-containing friction materials for auto brake mechanics.” It recommended employers “only use brake pads that do not contain asbestos.”

In an e-mail to the Globe, the ministry said it is “aware of and continues to be concerned about the hazard, and we are looking into what more can be done to ensure the safety of workers.”

Health Canada’s website still says asbestos poses health risks “only when fibres are present in the air that people breathe.” It does not say that all forms of asbestos are a known carcinogen nor that even low levels of exposure can be dangerous. When asked last November if it plans to revise its website, last updated in October, 2012, a spokesperson said in an e-mail that “there are no plans to update it as the health risks to asbestos have not changed and there’s nothing to add at this point.”

The department said asbestos brake pads do not pose a significant health risk to consumers. Regarding the risks to mechanics’ health in working with asbestos brake pads, Health Canada said “in the workplace, exposure associated with the use of brake pads containing asbestos could occur during installation, removal, and inspection processes if fibres become airborne.”

Continued imports of asbestos brake pads is a concern, given that most garages and body shops aren’t unionized, and subject to little regulatory oversight, says Jim Brophy, adjunct professor of sociology at the University of Windsor and former director of the Occupational Health Clinic for Ontario Workers in Windsor and Sarnia.

“Why would we be importing it especially into operations like brakes, where the very nature of brakes is that there is a wearing down of the pad. It’s endemic to the design of the thing.”

He’s critical of Health Canada’s message that asbestos doesn’t pose a big risk if fibres don’t become airborne. “That doesn’t talk about the real world. They don’t put asbestos in a bottle and leave it on the shelves. People are actually grinding it, they’re tearing it off, they’re blowing it around. This is what you do with brake shoes and other products that have asbestos (such as pipes).”

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Asbestos imports rising in Canada despite health warnings

U.S. Chamber Commends House Judiciary Committee Hearing on Asbestos Trust Transparency Legislation

WASHINGTON–(BUSINESS WIRE)–

Lisa A. Rickard, president of the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal
Reform (ILR), made the following statement regarding today’s hearing on
the “Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency (FACT) Act of 2015” (H.R.
526) in the U.S. House Judiciary Committee. The legislation would
require asbestos personal injury settlement trusts, which currently
operate with little oversight and transparency, to report on their
claims.

“We applaud Representatives Blake Farenthold and Tom Marino for
introducing this legislation, and the House Judiciary Committee for
holding today’s hearing. Abuse of the asbestos compensation system is a
national problem, and the recent indictment in New York with allegations
of kickbacks and self-dealing is just the latest example. Evidence of
plaintiffs’ lawyers manipulating and withholding key information
continues to unfold in the Garlock bankruptcy case, which stands
out as ‘exhibit A’ of the systemic fraud in asbestos litigation.

“Exploitation of the system drains the funds available to deserving
claimants and forces solvent companies, as well as their shareholders
and employees, to pay more than their fair share when claimants ‘double
dip’ in court and in the trust systems. The FACT Act would diminish the
damaging economic ripple effect of these abuses, without impacting
legitimate asbestos claims.”

ILR seeks to promote civil justice reform through legislative,
political, judicial, and educational activities at the national, state,
and local levels.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is the world’s largest business federation
representing the interests of more than 3 million businesses of all
sizes, sectors, and regions, as well as state and local chambers and
industry associations.

www.uschamber.com

         

@USChamber

         

www.freeenterprise.com

Contact:

U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform (ILR)

Justin Hakes, 202-463-3156

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U.S. Chamber Commends House Judiciary Committee Hearing on Asbestos Trust Transparency Legislation

Unsealed U.S. lawsuits tell of alleged fraud by asbestos law firms

By Tom Hals

Jan 20 (Reuters) – U.S. personal injury lawyers allegedly concealed evidence and induced clients to commit perjury to drive up asbestos-related settlements and garner bigger fees, according to lawsuits unsealed on Tuesday in the bankruptcy of a gasket maker.

The unsealed racketeering complaints alleged that four law firms sued Garlock Sealing Technologies, which made asbestos-lined gaskets, while hiding evidence that their clients were exposed to asbestos products made by other companies.

The evidence was allegedly hidden because the other companies were bankrupt, making Garlock a much more attractive target for an asbestos lawsuit, according to the complaints.

Garlock, a unit of EnPro Industries, filed for bankruptcy in 2010 in Charlotte, North Carolina, in the face of the mounting cost of asbestos lawsuits.

The unsealed complaints cite many examples of alleged fraud, including the Shein Law Center’s handling of a lawsuit by Vincent Golini, who was diagnosed with deadly mesothelioma in 2009.

Golini allegedly told Philadelphia-based Shein he was exposed to 14 asbestos products made by bankrupt companies including Owens Corning and Armstrong World Industries. But when Golini sued Garlock he denied exposure to any products made by a bankrupt manufacturer, according to the complaint.

After Garlock settled with Golini, Shein had Golini file claims with the asbestos trusts that were set up by Owens Corning and other bankrupt makers of asbestos products. Those trusts often pay only a small fraction of a claim.

Shein’s lawyer, Daniel Brier of Myers Brier & Kelly, said the racketeering lawsuit is completely without merit and Shein represented its clients “ethically and properly”.

Garlock’s Chapter 11 case has drawn national attention due to the company’s allegations that personal injury lawyers fraudulently inflated judgments and settlements.

The racketeering lawsuits were originally filed in early 2014. They were ordered unsealed last summer but only became available to the public on Tuesday.

The allegations in the unsealed documents appeared to have already been discussed publicly in an opinion in 2014 by Judge George Hodges. That opinion set Garlock’s liability for asbestos at $125 million and said the company’s past settlements were tainted by fraud.

The others were Belluck & Fox of New York; and Waters Kraus & Paul and Simon Greenstone Panatier Bartlett of Dallas. Mark Iola, a partner at Iola Galerston, also in Dallas, was also sued.

Attorneys for the law firms said Garlock was trying to relitigate settled cases and blame others for the consequences of its own conduct.

(Reporting by Tom Hals in Wilmington, Delaware; Additional reporting by Jessica Dye in New York)

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Unsealed U.S. lawsuits tell of alleged fraud by asbestos law firms

A.M. Best Special Report: U.S. Insurers Continue Funding of Asbestos & Environmental Liabilities Despite Elusive End …

OLDWICK, N.J.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–

The current estimate of net asbestos losses for the U.S. property/casualty industry remains at $85 billion, with net environmental losses estimated at $42 billion, according to a new Best’s Special Report.

According to the report titled “U.S. Insurers Continue Funding of Asbestos & Environmental Liabilities, Despite Elusive End Game,” the industry had funded slightly more than 90% of its aggregate asbestos and environmental (A&E) exposures as of year-end 2013. This translated into an unfunded liability of $6.7 billion for asbestos and $3.9 billion for environmental. The report also notes that incurred losses have increased in five of the past seven years.

A.M. Best recognizes that fully funding ultimate estimates may be akin to hitting a moving target, given that ultimate exposures cannot be known with precision, especially regarding asbestos claims. Nevertheless, funding efforts continue, as most recently seen in sizable additions to A&E reserves during 2014 by Travelers Group, Hartford Insurance Group and Liberty Mutual Insurance Cos. In aggregate, these three insurers added nearly $690 million to net A&E reserves in 2014, with most of the strengthening on the asbestos side, according to the report.

For a full copy of this special report, please visit: http://www3.ambest.com/bestweek/purchase.asp?record_code=232114.

This report originally appeared in Best’s Journal, dated Dec. 22, 2014. Best’s Journal is a biweekly publication that presents A.M. Best’s original research, analysis and commentary on the global insurance industry and is available exclusively as part of a subscription to the Best’s Insurance News & Analysis service. More information about the Best’s Insurance News & Analysis subscription service is available at http://www.ambest.com/sales/bina/default.asp.

To order, contact Customer Service at +(1) (908) 439 2200, ext. 5742 or at (800) 424-2378 when calling from the United States and Canada.

A.M. Best Company is the world’s oldest and most authoritative insurance rating and information source. For more information, visit www.ambest.com.

Copyright © 2015 by A.M. Best Company, Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Contact:
A.M. Best
Gerard Altonji, 908-439-2200, ext. 5626
Assistant Vice President
gerard.altonji@ambest.com

or


Christopher Sharkey, +(1) 908-439-2200, ext. 5159
Manager, Public Relations
christopher.sharkey@ambest.com

or


Jim Peavy, +(1) 908-439-2200, ext. 5644
Assistant Vice President, Public Relations
james.peavy@ambest.com

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A.M. Best Special Report: U.S. Insurers Continue Funding of Asbestos & Environmental Liabilities Despite Elusive End …

Forgotten asbestos mine sickens Indian villagers

RORO VILLAGE, India (AP) — Asbestos waste spills in a gray gash down the flank of a lush green hill above tribal villages that are home to thousands in eastern India. Three decades after the mines were abandoned, nothing has been done to remove the enormous, hazardous piles of broken rocks and powdery dust left behind.

In Roro Village and nearby settlements, people who never worked in the mines are dying of lung disease. Yet in a country that treats asbestos as a savior that provides cheap building materials for the poor, no one knows the true number and few care to ask.

“I feel weak, drained all the time,” Baleman Sundi gasped, pushing the words out before she lost her breath. “But I must work.” The 65-year-old paused, inhaled. “I don’t have a choice.” Another gasp. “I have to eat.”

Sundi and 17 others from a clutch of impoverished villages near the abandoned hilltop mines were diagnosed in 2012 with asbestosis, a fatal lung disease. One has since died. Tens of thousands more, some of them former mine workers, remain untested and at risk. Asbestos makes up as much as 14.3 percent of the soil around Roro Village, analysis of samples gathered by The Associated Press showed.

Few have done anything to help people such as Sundi. The villagers have no money for doctors or medical treatment, and cannot afford to move.

Neither the government nor the Indian company that ran the mines from 1963 to 1983 has made any move to clean up the estimated 700,000 tons of asbestos tailings left scattered across several kilometers (miles) of hilly mining area.

The mine’s operator, Hyderabad Asbestos Cement Products Ltd., nowadays known as HIL Ltd., says it has done nothing illegal.

“The company had followed all rules and procedures for closure of a mine and had complied with the provisions of the law, as in force in 1983,” it said in a statement released to the AP.

Sundi and the others are suing in the country’s environmental court for cleanup, compensation and a fund for future victims of asbestos-related disease. If they win, the case would set precedents for workplace safety and corporate liability, subjects often ignored or dismissed in developing India.

“There will be justice only if we win,” Sundi rasped. “Whoever did this must pay.”

India placed a moratorium on asbestos mining in 1986, acknowledging that the fibrous mineral was hazardous to the miners.

But that was the government’s last decision curtailing the spread of asbestos. It has since embraced the mineral as a cheap building material. Today India is the world’s fastest-growing market for asbestos.

In the last five years, India’s asbestos imports shot up 300 percent. The government helps the $2 billion asbestos manufacturing industry with low tariffs on imports. It has also blocked asbestos from being listed as a hazardous substance under the international Rotterdam Convention governing how dangerous chemicals are handled.

The country keeps no statistics on how many people have been sickened or died from exposure to the mineral, which industry and many government officials insist is safe when mixed with cement.

Western scientists strongly disagree.

The World Health Organization and more than 50 countries, including the United States and all of Europe, say it should be banned in all forms. Asbestos fibers lodge in the lungs and cause many diseases. The International Labor Organization estimates 100,000 people die every year from workplace exposure, and experts believe thousands more die from exposure elsewhere.

“My greatest concern is what will happen in India. It’s a slow-moving disaster, and this is only the beginning,” said Philip Landrigan, a New York epidemiologist who heads the Rome-based Collegium Ramazzini, which pioneered the field of occupational health worldwide.

“The epidemic will go largely unrecognized,” he said. Eventually, “it’s going to end up costing India billions of dollars.”

From the top of Roro Hill, a small boy leaped out to slide down the cascade of fluffy grey dust. A few villagers followed, nudging a herd of cows and goats. Huge clouds billowed in their wake.

The villagers often ignore the warnings from visiting doctors and activists to stay away from the waste. Many don’t believe the asbestos, which looks like regular rocks and dirt, could be dangerous. Others are more fatalistic, noting they hardly have a choice.

“What can we do? This is our land,” said 56-year-old Jema Sundi, diagnosed with asbestosis though she never went into the mines. “We tell the children, don’t go there. But they are children, you cannot control them.”

She then noticed her 4-year-old nephew Vijay, his tiny body covered with chalky white streaks, shrinking into himself as if trying to disappear. “You went up there today again?” she exclaimed.

Vijay, lowering his head, attempted a half-smile.

When Hyderabad Asbestos first began mining in Jharkhand in 1963, India was in its second decade of independence and attempting to industrialize. Most services and industries were nationalized, but some heavy industries and mining were opened to private companies, many of which operated opaquely.

Hydrabad Asbestos employed about 1,500 people in the asbestos mines. Most were tribal villagers eager to participate in the country’s development. But for them that development never arrived.

Kalyan Bansingh, lead plaintiff in the court case, worked more than a decade building scaffolding inside newly blasted mining caverns. Like many laborers across India, he took to chewing an unrefined sugar product called jaggery in the misguided belief that airborne fibers would adhere to the sticky bolus and stay out of his lungs.

Sometimes the company provided the jaggery along with his $2 weekly salary, but it never offered him protective masks or clothing, he said.

Bansingh regrets the job, even if it was the only paid work he ever had. “I can’t run or walk long distances. I am breathless with just a few steps,” the muscular 70-year-old said.

HIL said it followed strict health and safety policies, and that “no health or environmental damage was reported during the mine operations.” The company did not address whether it had ever sent anyone to check on the villagers’ health since the mines closed. Villagers told AP they were never been invited for a company-sponsored checkup after 1983.

The fact that Bansingh and the other plaintiffs ever had the opportunity for a diagnosis was extremely rare. Like most people in villages at the foot of Roro Hill, they cannot read or write. They live in makeshift homes of hard-packed mud, thatched roofs and tidily swept dirt floors.

“The idea that the environment, something that has always provided and been taken for granted, could be causing them harm is a notion that just doesn’t occur to them,” said T.K. Joshi, a doctor who heads India’s only university department specializing in occupational health. “And unfortunately, most Indian doctors are not trained to ask the right questions.”

Because X-rays and detailed patient interviews are rare in rural India, experts say most Indians who suffer or have died from an asbestos-related disease were likely misdiagnosed with tuberculosis, food poisoning or other illnesses common across India.

Now India’s largest asbestos-manufacturing company, HIL had revenue of about $160 million for 2013-14, while spending about $72 million on imports of asbestos from countries such as Russia, Kazakhstan and Brazil. It plans to scale back manufacturing asbestos-cement products, but the decision was not made for environmental or health concerns.

According to its annual report, the company is diversifying because the “closure of certain mines across the world has resulted in increased dependency on limited sources.”

Shutting down asbestos mines is a dirty and costly business. There is also the danger of releasing more fibers into the air just by disturbing waste or breaking down old materials. Hundreds of millions have been spent in the United States alone cleaning old asbestos mines in states including California and Montana.

The samples collected by AP and tested by California-based laboratory EMSL Analytical Inc. showed the soil around Roro Village was between 4.1 and 14.3 percent asbestos.

“It’s heartbreaking. Kids are playing on it. People are stirring it up. You don’t have to inhale much to put a cap on your life,” said Richard Fuller, CEO of the Blacksmith Institute, a New York-based watchdog that estimates 50,000 people could be at risk.

Other, smaller asbestos mines in states including Orissa, Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh have also been left in a state of neglect similar to Roro’s, mining activists say.

Activists, medical workers and lawyers have described an almost Kafkaesque effort to hold the government and company accountable over the past decade, with both declaring the mine closed and subject settled long ago.

At the time the mines were open, Jharkhand state didn’t even exist. The land was part of a wider Bihar state, with its capital and official paperwork held in a different city. Neither state has been able to produce the 30-year-old documents pertaining to the mine’s closure.

“As far as environmental issues are concerned, we have already dealt with it,” Jharkhand state’s Mining Secretary Arun, who uses only one name, told AP.

In 2012, an activist group selected 150 Roro-area villagers for chest X-rays. The X-ray plates were examined by Dr. V. Murlidhar, an occupational health specialist, who confirmed 18 had the tell-tale honeycomb pattern of opaqueness that denotes asbestosis.

The results were neither surprising nor unique, he said. “More cases are likely” because asbestosis usually develops over decades of exposure, he said.

Across all of India, only 30 people have ever received marginal compensation — through out-of-court settlements — for asbestos-related disease out of hundreds of thousands of workers who have handled asbestos since the 1960s or lived near mines or manufacturing plants.

Lawyer Krishnendu Mukherjee, who is spearheading the case, has high hopes for a judgment that awards the plaintiffs and future claimants with generous compensation.

A strong verdict, he said, “sends a very strong message out to companies like HIL Ltd. that it’s not permissible to simply leave a mine, a factory, whatever it is, in a state of abandonment without looking at the repercussions on the local population or on the workers.”

___

Follow Katy Daigle on Twitter at http://twitter.com/katydaigle

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Forgotten asbestos mine sickens Indian villagers

Asbestos pushed in Asia

The executives mingled over tea and biscuits, and the chatter was upbeat. Their industry, they said at a conference in the Indian capital, saves lives and brings roofs, walls and pipes to some of the world’s poorest people.

Their product? Asbestos.

Outlawed in much of the developed world, it is still going strong in the developing one. In India alone, the world’s biggest asbestos importer, it’s a $US2 billion ($A2.16 billion) industry providing 300,000 jobs.

The International Labour Organisation (ILO), World Health Organisation(WTO), medical researchers and more than 50 countries say the mineral should be banned; asbestos fibres lodge in the lungs and cause disease. The ILO estimates 100,000 people die from workplace exposure every year.

But the industry executives at the asbestos conference, held in a luxury New Delhi hotel, said the risks are overblown.

Instead, they described their business as a form of social welfare for hundreds of thousands of impoverished Indians still living in flimsy, mud-and-thatch huts.

“We’re here not only to run our businesses, but to also serve the nation,” said Abhaya Shankar, a director of India’s Asbestos Cement Products Manufacturers Association.

Yet there are some poor Indians trying to keep asbestos out of their communities.

In the farming village of Vaishali, in the eastern state of Bihar, residents became outraged by the construction of an asbestos factory in their backyard.

They had learned about the dangers of asbestos from a school boy’s science textbooks, and worried asbestos fibres would blow into their tiny thatch homes. Their children, they said, could contract lung diseases most Indian doctors would never test for, let alone treat.

They petitioned for the factory to be halted. But in December 2012, its permit was renewed, inciting thousands to rally on a main road for 11 hours. Amid the chaos, a few dozen villagers demolished the partially built factory.

“It was a moment of desperation,” a teacher said on condition of anonymity for fear of retribution from the company. “There was no other way for us to express our outrage.”

The company later filed lawsuits, still pending, accusing several villagers of vandalism and theft.

Durable and heat-resistant, asbestos was long a favourite insulation material in the West.

Medical experts say inhaling any form of asbestos can lead to deadly diseases 20-40 years later including lung cancer, mesothelioma and asbestosis, or the scarring of the lungs.

Dozens of countries including Australia, Japan, Argentina and all European Union nations have banned it entirely. Others like the US have severely curtailed its use.

The asbestos lobby says the mineral has been unfairly maligned by Western nations that used it irresponsibly. It also says one of the six forms of asbestos is safe: chrysotile, or white asbestos, which accounts for more than 95 per cent of all asbestos used since 1900.

Medical experts reject this.

“All types of asbestos fibre are causally implicated in the development of various diseases and premature death,” the Societies of Epidemiology said in a 2012 position statement.

Russia now provides most asbestos on the world market. Meanwhile, rich nations are suffering health and economic consequences from past use. And, billions have been spent stripping asbestos from buildings.

Umesh Kumar, a roadside vendor in Bihar’s capital, has long known there are health hazards to the three by one metre asbestos cement sheets he sells for 600 rupees ($A10.55) each. But he doesn’t guide customers to the 800 rupee tin or fibreglass alternatives.

“This is a country of poor people, and for less money they can have a roof over their heads,” he said.

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Asbestos pushed in Asia

Asbestos roofing fully removed from fire damaged warehouse

Crew from Queensland Asbestos Management Services complete their final asbestos clean at the fire damaged warehouse in North Mackay.
Crew from Queensland Asbestos Management Services complete their final asbestos clean at the fire damaged warehouse in North Mackay. Peter Holt

ASBESTOS roof sheeting has been fully removed from the fire damaged warehouse in North Mackay that housed the Boomerang Secondhand store destroyed by fire in late April.

Reconstruction work on the World War Two era building on Harbour Road is expected to begin within weeks once final clearance is given by Work Health and Safety Queensland..

The cleanup of the historic Walkers Market shed began in mid-July and the slow process involved removing the asbestos debris after the roof collapsed during the blaze.

A crew from Queensland Asbestos Management Services (QAMS) are finalising their decontamination work to ensure all particles are removed with a final clean of the timber framework.

QAMS employees work on demolition of Walkers Market shed on Harbour Road, Mackay. Photo Peter Holt / Daily Mercury
QAMS employees work on demolition of Walkers Market shed on Harbour Road, Mackay. Photo Peter Holt / Daily Mercury Peter Holt

A Work Health and Safety Queensland spokesman said the asbestos contaminated material and debris was transported to an asbestos waste facility in accordance with government requirements.

Police have charged two youths with arson as a result of the fire.

QAMS employees work on demolition of Walkers Market shed on Harbour Road, Mackay. Photo Peter Holt / Daily Mercury
QAMS employees work on demolition of Walkers Market shed on Harbour Road, Mackay. Photo Peter Holt / Daily Mercury Peter Holt

Source article:

Asbestos roofing fully removed from fire damaged warehouse

Asbestos pushed in Asia as product for the poor

VAISHALI, India (AP) — The executives mingled over tea and sugar cookies, and the chatter was upbeat. Their industry, they said at a conference in the Indian capital, saves lives and brings roofs, walls and pipes to some of the world’s poorest people.

Their product? Asbestos. Outlawed in much of the developed world, it is still going strong in the developing one. In India alone, the world’s biggest asbestos importer, it’s a $2 billion industry providing 300,000 jobs.

The International Labor Organization, World Health Organization, medical researchers and more than 50 countries say the mineral should be banned; asbestos fibers lodge in the lungs and cause disease. The ILO estimates 100,000 people die from workplace exposure every year.

But the industry executives at the asbestos conference, held in a luxury New Delhi hotel, said the risks are overblown.

Instead, they described their business as a form of social welfare for hundreds of thousands of impoverished Indians still living in flimsy, mud-and-thatch huts.

“We’re here not only to run our businesses, but to also serve the nation,” said Abhaya Shankar, a director of India’s Asbestos Cement Products Manufacturers Association.

Yet there are some poor Indians trying to keep asbestos out of their communities.

___

In the farming village of Vaishali, in the eastern state of Bihar, residents became outraged by the construction of an asbestos factory in their backyard.

They had learned about the dangers of asbestos from a school boy’s science textbooks, and worried asbestos fibers would blow into their tiny thatch homes. Their children, they said, could contract lung diseases most Indian doctors would never test for, let alone treat.

They petitioned for the factory to be halted. But in December 2012, its permit was renewed, inciting thousands to rally on a main road for 11 hours. Amid the chaos, a few dozen villagers demolished the partially built factory.

“It was a moment of desperation,” a teacher said on condition of anonymity for fear of retribution from the company. “There was no other way for us to express our outrage.” The company later filed lawsuits, still pending, accusing several villagers of vandalism and theft.

___

Durable and heat-resistant, asbestos was long a favorite insulation material in the West.

Medical experts say inhaling any form of asbestos can lead to deadly diseases 20-40 years later including lung cancer, mesothelioma and asbestosis, or the scarring of the lungs.

Dozens of countries including Japan, Argentina and all European Union nations have banned it entirely. Others like the U.S. have severely curtailed its use.

The asbestos lobby says the mineral has been unfairly maligned by Western nations that used it irresponsibly. It also says one of the six forms of asbestos is safe: chrysotile, or white asbestos, which accounts for more than 95 percent of all asbestos used since 1900.

Medical experts reject this.

“All types of asbestos fiber are causally implicated in the development of various diseases and premature death,” the Societies of Epidemiology said in a 2012 position statement.

Russia now provides most asbestos on the world market. Meanwhile, rich nations are suffering health and economic consequences from past use.

American businesses have paid out at least $1.3 billion in the largest collection of personal injury lawsuits in U.S. legal history. Billions have been spent stripping asbestos from buildings in the West.

Umesh Kumar, a roadside vendor in Bihar’s capital, has long known there are health hazards to the 3-by-1 meter (10-by-3 foot) asbestos cement sheets he sells for 600 rupees ($10) each. But he doesn’t guide customers to the 800 rupee tin or fiberglass alternatives.

“This is a country of poor people, and for less money they can have a roof over their heads,” he said.

___

The two-day asbestos conference in December was billed as scientific, though organizers admitted they had no new research.

One could say they’ve gone back in time to defend asbestos.

The Indian lobby’s website refers to 1998 WHO guidelines for controlled use of chrysotile, but skips updated WHO advice from 2007 suggesting all asbestos be banned. Its executive director, John Nicodemus, dismissed the WHO update as “scaremongering.”

Many of the speakers are regulars at asbestos conferences in the developing world.

Toxicologist David Bernstein said that while chrysotile could cause disease if inhaled in large quantities or for prolonged periods, so could any tiny particle. Bernstein consulted for the Quebec-based Chrysotile Institute, which lost its Canadian government funding in 2012.

He presented an animated video showing a type of white blood cell called a macrophage breaking down a chrysotile fiber and carrying it out of the lungs.

“We have defense mechanisms. Our lungs are remarkable,” Bernstein said.

Other studies indicate, however, that chrysotile collects in the membrane lining the lungs, where the rare malignancy mesothelioma develops and chews through the chest wall, leading to excruciating death.

Research such as Bernstein’s frustrates retired U.S. Assistant Surgeon General Dr. Richard Lemen, who first advocated a chrysotile ban in 1976.

“His presentation is pretty slick, and when he puts it on animation mode, people think: Wow, he must know what he’s talking about,” Lemen said by telephone from Atlanta.

___

In Vaishali, the permit for the asbestos plant was canceled by Bihar’s chief minister last year. But Indian officials remain divided and confused about the risks.

India placed a moratorium on new asbestos mining in 1986, but never banned use of the mineral despite two Supreme Court orders.

The position of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s new government is unclear.

Meanwhile, Vaishali’s resistance has sparked other protests, including in the nearby district of Bhojpur.

“Many people are not aware of the effects, especially the illiterate,” said Madan Prasad Gupta, a village leader in Bhojpur, sipping tea at the roadside tea shop he built decades ago when he had no idea what asbestos was.

Over his head: a broken, crumbling asbestos cement roof.

___

Follow Katy Daigle on Twitter at http://twitter.com/katydaigle

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Asbestos pushed in Asia as product for the poor

Research and Markets: Worldwide Asbestos Market Review 2014

DUBLIN–(BUSINESS WIRE)–

Research and Markets (http://www.researchandmarkets.com/research/qfw6vg/asbestos_market) has announced the addition of the “Asbestos Market Review” report to their offering.

The report presents a thorough study of asbestos, covering both global and regional markets.

It aims to give a proper picture of the market, as well as its trends, perspectives and opportunities.

Comprehensive data showing asbestos production, consumption, trade statistics and prices are provided (both nationwide and worldwide).

Each country’s market overview covers the following: asbestos production in the country, major producers, asbestos consumption in the country market, asbestos trade in the country, asbestos prices.

The report offers a 5-year outlook on the reviewed market, including asbestos market volume predictions and price trends.

Reasons to Buy

  • The report provides unique analysis of internal and external factors that affect the market
  • Company’s business and sales activities will be boosted by gaining an insight into the asbestos market in EU peculiarities
  • The report will help you to find prospective partners and suppliers
  • Detailed analysis provided in the report will assist and strengthen your company’s decision-making processes

Key Topics Covered:

1. WORLD ASBESTOS MARKET

1.1. Asbestos in global industry

1.2. Asbestos market overview

1.3. Asbestos prices

2. NORTH AMERICAN MARKET

3. LATIN AMERICAN MARKET OF ASBESTOS

4. EUROPEAN MARKET OF ASBESTOS

5. ASIAN AND MIDDLE EAST MARKET OF ASBESTOS

6. AFRICAN MARKET OF ASBESTOS

7. ASBESTOS MARKET FORECAST UP TO 2018

For more information visit http://www.researchandmarkets.com/research/qfw6vg/asbestos_market

Contact:

Research and Markets

Laura Wood, Senior Manager


press@researchandmarkets.com

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Chemicals

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Research and Markets: Worldwide Asbestos Market Review 2014

ADAO’s Sixth Congressional Staff Briefing Calls for Congress to Take Action to End Asbestos Exposure

WASHINGTON–(BUSINESS WIRE)–

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, will be conducting its sixth congressional briefing today in Washington, DC. Held from 12:00 – 1:00 pm EDT in the U.S. Senate Dirksen Building, the briefing will include well known asbestos experts from the medical, industrial, and environmental communities – providing more than one hundred years of knowledge within a highly educational hour.

The briefing, “Asbestos: The Impact on Public Health and the Environment”, underscores the need for meaningful asbestos reform legislation, and points to the fatal flaws in current Senate Bills: “Chemical Safety Improvement Act of 2013” (S. 1009) – a TSCA reform measure, and the “Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency (FACT) Act of 2014” (S. 2319), neither of which address asbestos dangers nor protect asbestos victims. The briefing will cover the latest information on the asbestos crisis, and will include experts in the field and messages from constituents.

Mesothelioma and other asbestos-caused diseases claim the lives of more than 10,000 Americans each year and imports continue. Most Americans unfortunately do not know how to recognize asbestos and do not realize that its dangers continue, even in their own homes, schools, and public buildings. In 1984, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimated there were asbestos containing materials in most of the nation’s approximately 107,000 primary and secondary schools and 733,000 public and commercial buildings. During the briefing, ADAO will also call on Congress to investigate continued asbestos imports and initiate a new study to evaluate the risk of vermiculate insulation in millions of homes.

“Although many people—perhaps even Members of Congress—mistakenly believe that asbestos is a declining threat, the recent asbestos emergency within the halls of Congress should serve as a sobering reminder that this man-made disaster continues to plague unsuspecting Americans in homes, schools, and workplaces,” stated ADAO Co-Founder and President Linda Reinstein. “Both chambers of Congress have unveiled legislation to reform the Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976 (TSCA), which governs the use of asbestos and thousands of other chemicals. Unfortunately, instead of banning known killers like asbestos, these bills as drafted do nothing to protect the public from toxic substances and even weaken and eliminate existing safety measures. In addition, the so-called FACT Act allows liable asbestos related companies to delay recovery and deny compensation for victims, in addition to violating victims’ privacy. It is time for legislation with true asbestos reform and justice for victims, and for the additional research and education needed to protect Americans from the dangers of asbestos. Americans can’t identify asbestos or manage the risk and ADAO feels it is imperative that Congress investigates the present dangers of asbestos, especially Libby Vermiculite Insulation, which was widely used throughout our country. Enough is enough; it is time for action.”

Briefing Presenters and Topics Include:

  • Asbestos: History, Facts, and Stats – Barry Castleman, ScD, Environmental Consultant
  • Diagnosing and Treating Asbestos-Related Diseases – Christine Oliver, MD, MPH, MS, FACPM
  • Asbestos Exposures in Homes, Schools, and Workplaces – Tony Rich, Industrial Hygienist
  • Asbestos Took My Son Away – Sandra Neuenschwander, Mesothelioma Victim
  • Asbestos Impact: Medically, Legally, and TSCA Reform – Linda Reinstein, President, Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization

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 www.asbestosdiseaseawareness.org.

Contact:

Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO)

Kim Cecchini

Media Relations

202-391-5205


Kim@asbestosdiseaseawareness.org

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ADAO’s Sixth Congressional Staff Briefing Calls for Congress to Take Action to End Asbestos Exposure