Welcome to GBAN!

November 15, 2010 Press Release

The power of social media is undeniably revolutionary, dynamic, and essential for grassroots organizations. Decades of work from around the world to educate, advocate, and ultimately ban asbestos has culminated in the creation of a new social media based community effort called the Global Ban Asbestos Network (GBAN).

GBAN is a non-profit and independent initiative established to promote and facilitate collaboration, communication, and action to achieve a global asbestos ban.  GBAN is being launched two months earlier based news and need, and will continue to add additional Charter Members representing their country and content to our website.  Our connected social media resources will pioneer innovative methods to improve the efficacy of grassroots efforts to combat the global asbestos threat. The Facebook page was the first part of the network and has hundreds of followers already within just a few weeks.

GBAN is proud to introduce the first 24 Charter Members representing 17 countries who have joined in solidarity and support. Initial charter members will be joined by other leading ban asbestos individuals from across the globe as GBAN rapidly expands. Each Charter Member can regularly contribute content to the site, providing an additional one-stop resource representing the world’s preeminent asbestos authorities. Technology allows the GBAN website portal to translate postings into nearly 60 different languages. In addition, visitors will be able to utilize a variety of social media programs including Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, and Picasa Photos to post comments, pictures, videos, etc. while easily sharing information with the click of a mouse.

It’s exciting to look at how all of our global efforts are now coming together through this kind of extensively linked social media network. GBAN is a strong and powerful reminder that the voices of ban asbestos advocates are truly united.

GBAN was founded by the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO) and the Brazilian Association of the Asbestos-Exposed (ABREA).

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“My recent scan results after radiation and closer to an asbestos ban in USA” by Lou Williams

Posted on March 14, 2015

“My recent scan results after radiation and closer to an asbestos ban in USA” by Lou Williams

After a few days of fatigue and resting I am now sitting at the main computer ready to type this blog.

Lou Williams, GBAN Australian National Director

Lou Williams, GBAN Australian National Director

Last Tuesday 10 March 2015 I had a blood test and CT scans for stomach, pelvic and chest with intravenous dye. Blood test went smoothly, the scan not quite to plan.  The hour prior to the scan it is a requirement to drink 1.5 litres of water – with nausea it went through me quite quickly clearing out my system lol! An hour delay and then trouble inserting the needle for the dye as my veins are quite depleted due to the years of chemo and tend to collapse at the best of times.  However it went okay and home to wait for my oncology visit Weds evening to see Dr Alan Zimet (11 March).

My oncology visit with Dr Zimet – Blood tests showed red blood cells depleted (haemoglobin 9.2) and also very very anaemic so an urgent blood transfusion of 2 units blood was ordered for Friday morning (13 March).  This is a pretty good result considering the last 4 units of blood transfusion (when haemoglobin was 7.6) was mid January so this one combined with extensive radiation in that time has lasted 2 months.  I had the blood transfusions yesterday – 5 hours all up – so pretty quick.  The day chemo staff all know me at John Fawkner Hospital in Melbourne and have followed my journey since day one.  They are all a unique and wonderful bunch of nursing staff whose care of the patients is paramount in ensuring that they are comfortable from the time they walk in the door to the time they leave.  It is the same with the Oncology ward – since day 1 of my journey in 2003 they have been there all the way (some oldies and of course some new nursing staff along the way) all devoted to the care of the patient being their number one priority.

Scan results – No real change since last scan in mid January when it was the very serious scan with not so good results.  Dr Zimet said that it was too early for this scan (4 weeks after finishing radiation). The radiation is still working slowly and will take another 4 to 6 weeks before anything shows up on another scan.  The tumour piercing into the stomach appears to have grown slightly in one of the measurements and shrunk slightly in another measurement!  So still pretty danger stage with tumours/fluid/stomach/arteries/blood vessels and we are now on a watch and come back for a visit in 3 weeks.  If anything presents itself prior to that – have a blood test and ring Dr Zimet/hospital.  I am improving each day although the fatigue is still my No. 1 friend!

Flying still not approved until the next blood test (in 3 weeks) appointment with Dr Zimet ... so unfortunately my plans to attend ADAO’s 11th Annual Asbestos Conference in Washington DC as a speaker and mesothelioma warrior has been cancelled!  This year the Conference will be made extra special with the recent announcement this week in America with the Legislation introduced by Sens. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., and Edward Markey, D-Mass., to fix the nation’s badly broken and outdated chemical safety law would be a major step in ensuring that Americans, especially children, are protected from toxic substances.

The Boxer-Markey bill, titled the Alan Reinstein and Trevor Schaefer Toxic Chemical Protection Act, would correct major weaknesses of the 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act, or TSCA. It would ensure that all chemicals be proven to pose a “reasonable certainty of no harm” — the same standard required for pesticides on produce and food chemicals.

CLOSER TO AN ASBESTOS BAN!!! U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer, pictured here with ADAO President and Co-founder Linda Reinstein, and her beautiful daughter, Emily, signed a copy of The Alan Reinstein and Trevor Schaffer Toxic Chemical Protection Act. ADAO has been at the forefront of working with Congress to get asbestos banned. This is why ADAO needs your donations!! So our children, and grandchildren will never have to suffer from mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases.

Linda Reinstein and ADAO released this press release 13 March 2015.
PRESS RELEASE – http://bit.ly/1NPU9Gw  These past eight days moved fast. Sen. Boxer called me last Tuesday asking to name her TSCA reform bill after Alan and all of the hundreds of thousands of “Alans.” The new Boxer-Markey bill, “The Alan Reinstein and Trevor Schaefer Toxic Chemical Protection Act”, will update the outdated 1976 TSCA bill and empower the EPA to finally ban asbestos and regulate an estimated 80,000 chemicals. This would not be possible without all of our supporters, volunteers, donors, and sponsors – Congratulations to all! I can say with sincerity that when Doug Larkin and I co-founded ADAO in 2004, that neither the Larkin nor the Reinstein families could have ever envisioned a day when a piece of legislation aimed at reforming our laws to influence a ban on asbestos and seek to further our education and awareness mission – would be named after one of our loved ones who influenced our founding. We are humbled by this bill’s introduction that names all asbestos victims and their families in spirit and showcases the power of our united efforts to end the tragedies associated with asbestos. Special thanks to Kimberly Starr Cecchini – who spent HOURS in the last 48 hours working on press releases and communication.

Lou Williams, GBAN Australian National Director

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“Canada is on the sidelines when it comes to banning asbestos trade” by Kathleen Ruff

Toronto Star: “Canada is on the sidelines when it comes to banning asbestos trade” by Kathleen Ruff  February 27, 2015

Canada is sending a terrible message to the rest of the world. Oppose responsible trade; reject scientific evidence; obstruct international co-operation.

Removing asbestos with hazmat suits.

Removing asbestos with hazmat suits. UNIVERSAL IMAGES GROUP / GETTY IMAGES

By: Kathleen Ruff Published on Fri Feb 27 2015

The Harper government makes a lot of noise about how sitting on the sidelines is contrary to Canadian values.

But when it comes to taking action to promote responsible trade that is exactly what the Harper government does: sit on the sidelines brandishing an absentee card. Or, worse, it vetoes international action in an ugly and arrogant style.

Harper won’t say, but it looks like Canada will be sitting on the sidelines at the United Nations Rotterdam Convention conference in May, refusing to support listing chrysotile asbestos as a hazardous substance under global trade rules. In so doing, Harper will help Russia continue exporting asbestos to developing countries with no safety controls required.

Canada’s conduct is reprehensible and goes beyond the asbestos issue and into the very guts of who we are as a country.

  • Canada is promoting a global double standard:

The purpose of the Rotterdam Convention is to address the double standard whereby hazardous industries export products – that are banned or severely restricted in Western countries – to developing countries, claiming they are safe. We are protected; they are not.

Chrysotile asbestos is a hazardous substance under Canadian law. But the Canadian government won’t support its listing as a hazardous substance under international law. Chrysotile asbestos, apparently, is hazardous to Canadians but not to folk overseas.

Thus we promote inferior protection for people in developing countries than for ourselves.

To read Ms. Ruff’s complete editorial, visit the Toronto Star: “Canada is on the sidelines when it comes to banning asbestos trade” by Kathleen Ruff 

Kathleen Ruff is co-coordinator of the Rotterdam Convention Alliance, director of RightOnCanada.ca and senior human rights adviser to the Rideau Institute.  Ms. Ruff is also a GBAN Charter Member

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The 1st conference of the European Asbestos Forum – Update from Yvonne Waterman


Yvonne Waterman, a GBAN Charter Member for the Netherlands, will be hosting a large international asbestos conference at the NH Grand Hotel Krasnapolsky in Amsterdam, the Netherlands on May 27th. The European Asbestos Forum (EAF) aims to improve networks and sharing asbestos knowledge across borders and asbestos sectors. ‘Sharing makes us stronger!’ is the motto.

The program – soon to be published on the website – includes three simultaneous sessions to allow for a wide array of asbestos specialists. The newest technical developments for asbestos removal, the latest insights on prevention in the workplace, European Union asbestos policy – it will all be discussed here. Confirmed speakers include Dr. Richard Lemen USPHS (ret.) Ph.D., M.S.P.H. as Keynote Speaker, Linda Reinstein, Tony Rich, Eric Jonckheere, an IATP representative, Laurent Vogel, Herm Zweerts, Prof. Thomas Kraus, Gerd Albracht and many other speakers of high standing.

See www.europeanasbestosforum.org for more information and registering.

YvonneYvonne Waterman Ph.D. LL.M., Dutch jurist, founder of Waterman Legal Consultancy, specializes in (comparative) employers’ liability for occupational diseases and asbestos liability. She is a frequent publicist, lecturer and speaker on asbestos liability matters worldwide and also GBAN Charter Member for the Netherlands.


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“Continuing health threat posed by asbestos-cement roofing: two case studies from Denmark” by Kathleen Ruff

Posted on February 4, 2015

SOURCE: Right on Canada 

KRuffAt a symposium on Why Is Asbestos Still A Health Problem? held in Copenhagen on December 12, 2014, Dr. Rolf Petersen presented two cases studies which showed individuals with mesothelioma, who had no known work exposure to asbestos. In both cases, the individuals were exposed to asbestos when they installed or replaced Eternit asbestos-cement roofing on their homes. Dr. Petersen’s presentation is available here: Non-Occupational Mesothelioma. Eternit operated a factory in northern Denmark from 1928-1986, which produced asbestos cement roofing. Many workers at the factory, as well as family members, died of asbestos-related disease. In spite of knowing that its product was causing disease and death, Eternit suppressed and falsified the evidence and went on selling millions of square metres of its asbestos cement roofing in Denmark, as well as exporting huge quantities to other countries, thus creating a health tragedy that continues today.

Kathleen Ruff, Global Asbestos Awareness Network (GBAN) Charter Member

NOTE: Below are links to three presentation links from “The Is Asbestos Still A Health Problem?” which was held on December 12, 2014 in Copenhagen, Denmark 


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“Asbestos Health Awareness Campaign in Indonesia” by Paul Palmer and Samuel Anthonysz

NOTE: It was exciting to see the Global Ban Asbestos Network (GBAN), a non-profit and independent initiative, help Paul Palmer connect with the Indonesian GBAN Member, Darisman, for their Asbestos Health Awareness Campaign. GBAN was founded in 2010 by the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO) and the Brazilian Association of the Asbestos-Exposed (ABREA).  It is so inspiring to see students spreading asbestos awareness around the globe. ~ Linda

Posted January 5, 2015

NOTE: It was exciting to see the Global Ban Asbestos Network (GBAN), a non-profit and independent initiative, help Paul Palmer connect with the Indonesian GBAN Member, Darisman, for their Asbestos Health Awareness Campaign. GBAN was founded in 2010 by the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO) and the Brazilian Association of the Asbestos-Exposed (ABREA).

The Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization was pleased to donate funds and supply educational materials for this important campaign.  It is so inspiring to see students spreading asbestos awareness around the globe. ~ Linda

Posted January 5, 2015


Global Ban Asbestos Network and Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization were pleased to support this educational effort.

Guest blog by Paul Palmer, Murdoch University, Perth, Western Australia and Samuel Anthonysz, Flinders University, Adelaide, South Australia.

On Sunday 21st December 2014, a group of students on a community development program from Gadjah Mada University in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, held an asbestos health awareness campaign at their community health day event at Sendangrejo Village, Sleman, Yogyakarta. Sam Anthonysz and Paul Palmer, development students from Australia, organized the campaign. Sam and Paul were recently on a two-month development field placement in central Java, Indonesia as part of their in-country development studies immersion program. Soon after beginning their field placement in the Sendangrejo district, it quickly became apparent to both students that harmful asbestos cement sheeting was a commonly used building material, found in the construction of most houses, shops and village halls. Following an initial survey of village leaders throughout the region, it was clear that there was almost zero knowledge surrounding the fatal health ramifications of working with and using asbestos cement sheeting. It was at this point that both students could see the benefits in holding an educational asbestos awareness campaign, with the objective of raising awareness on this most important of issues plaguing many nations in South East Asia, including Indonesia.

Asbestos cement sheeting is still widely used and manufactured across Indonesia today. Most people, especially in rural areas, have very little knowledge on the hazards of using and working with materials containing asbestos. As we know, asbestos fibers, when inhaled, cause serious lung disease such as asbestosis, mesothelioma, and lung cancer. Smokers are 60 times more likely to contract an asbestos related disease through exposure to harmful asbestos fibers than non-smokers, this is particularly prevalent when considering the very high smoking rates throughout Indonesia. This environment, coupled with a void in knowledge surrounding the hazards of asbestos, equate to potentially high rates of Indonesian people contracting asbestos related diseases in the coming decades.

Paul resize_edited-2

Samuel Anthonysz and Paul Palmer

The district head of Sendangrejo, known within Indonesia as the Kepala Desa, knew nothing of the health risks associated with asbestos and so was eager to pledge her support by formally inviting the village leaders and medical representatives from the surrounding sixteen villages. A Program Coordinator from the Indonesian Ban Asbestos Network (Ina-Ban), Dimu Pratama, agreed to travel from Bandung, West Java to present at the event. In addition to local villagers, medical students from the nearby Gadjah Mada University in Yogyakarta were also invited. It was thought that raising awareness among future Indonesian medical practitioners would promote an increase in asbestos related disease discourse within Indonesia at a time when very little exists.

In the lead-up to the event Sam and Paul printed many large eye-catching awareness banners, designed by Ina-Ban’s own Ajat Sudrajat, which were posted throughout the region to raise awareness and promote the event. On the day of the seminar event, informative asbestos awareness posters were placed strategically in the presentation room and brochures, containing information on asbestos related diseases, were given to all attendees. The event was a success, with Ina-Ban staging an impressive presentation suitable for the audience in attendance. Many local villagers attended the event in addition to village leaders and medical students. When the floor was thrown open for questions, some of the most unlikely attendees were seen quizzing the speaker, including a local mother of two and an elderly man from one of the surrounding villages. Following the event, many of the large banners and posters were distributed into the surrounding villages and would act as an informative reminder to local people as to the hazards of using or working with materials containing asbestos.

IMG_0293This asbestos health awareness campaign was supported byIndonesian Ban Asbestos Network (Ina-Ban),Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO), Humanitarian Benchmark, a Yogyakarta based Australian organization supporting the banning of asbestos in Indonesia and the Quake Fund, a small informal fund setup to bridge the gap between individuals and families wanting to help disaster affected areas. All activities were initiated and organized by Sam Anthonysz, from Flinders University, South Australia, Adelaide, and Paul Palmer, from Murdoch University, Western Australia, Perth, with support from other Indonesian students in their community development group from Gadjah Mada University in Yogyakarta, Indonesia.


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“International Day of Asbestos Victims” Book by the French National Association for the Defense of Asbestos Victims (ANDEVA)

This book contains the proceedings from the “International Day of Asbestos Victims” symposium organized by French National Association for the Defense of Asbestos Victims (ANDEVA) which was held in Paris on October, 12 2012.  This two-part book includes presentations from “State of Science” and  “State of the World. For more information about ANDEVA visit http://www.andeva.fr.

View the “International Day of Asbestos Victims” Book.

International Day of Asbestos Victims by Marc Hindry

                      State of Science — State of the World 

Screen Shot 2014-12-19 at 2.40.22 PM “The  proceedings of  the symposium «international day of asbestos victims» organised  in Paris, 12th October 2012 by the French National Association for the Defense of Asbestos Victims — ANDEVA — are built in two parts.

The first part  « state of science » includes texts on the history and state of epidemiology of asbestos diseases by R. Lemen,  on the epidemiology of asbestos-related diseases in Italy   by E. Merler, in Québec, Canada,  by F. Turcotte and in Brazil   by H. Castro, followed by texts on medicine and fundamental research by A. Scherpereel, P-G. Betta and M-C. Jaurand.

The second part «state of the world»displays a global panorama of the  situation with respect to the use and exposure to asbestos, the different legislations, situation and compensation of victims, struggles and actions for public health:

economic and geographical data about asbestos trade (L. Kazan-Allen), the historical responsibility of Canada (P. Martin and K. Ruff), the situation in United States (L. Reinstein), the two judgements with international repercussions on banning asbestos, that is, the cancellation in 1991 of the EPA regulations in United States (L. Kazan-Allen) and the rejection of the complaint of Canada to WTO against France in 2000 (M. Parigot), the contrasting situations of India (M. Gupta), Japan and Korea, with an overview of the tragic situation in Asia, notably in China (S. Furuya and Y. Choi), also in Brazil (F. Giannasi) and Australia (L. Singh), the issue of compensation is described in the context of South Africa (T. da Cruz), France (M-J. Voisin) and the Netherlands  (T. de Bruin), the current European situations in Belgium (E. Jonckheere), Germany (G. Albracht) and Albany (R. Hanxari), finally the global impact of the Eternit trial in Italy (B. Pesce) and an overview of the general situation in France and throughout the world (M. Hindry and P. Pluta).

This book has  a double purpose: to increase diffusion of scientific knowledge and to develop an international public health movement; it should  help to provide better awareness of the risks and damages due to asbestos and stimulate better public health policies to fight this plague at regional, national, European and worldwide level.”

Marc Hindry, GBAN Charter Member, France

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“Scientists publish Erratum to disclose their conflicts of interest” by Kathleen Ruff

Posted on December 6, 2014

SOURCE: Right on Canada 

KRuffIn 2012, Carlo La Vecchia and Paolo Boffetta published an article in the European Journal of Cancer Prevention (EJCP) entitled Role of stopping exposure and recent exposure to asbestos in the risk of mesothelioma. In the article, the authors stated that they had no conflicts of interest and that the article was funded by the Italian Association for Cancer Research.

Both these statements were untrue.

Dr. La Vecchia and Dr. Boffetta were acting as consultants and expert witnesses for various companies facing criminal charges related to asbestos exposure. The Italian Association for Cancer Research had not funded the article.

Dr. La Vecchia is Associate Editor of the EJCP. The Conflict of Interest policy of the EJCP requires that: “Authors must state all possible conflicts of interest”.

In January 2014, over 140 scientists, health advocates and organisations submitted a complaint to the Editor-in-Chief of the EJCP, Dr. Jaak Janssens, regarding the false information and other improprieties related to the article. Dr. Janssens responded that he saw nothing wrong.

In March 2014, a number of scientists and organisations submitted a complaint to the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE), regarding the fact that the improprieties and the journal’s failure to address the improprieties were contrary to COPE’s Code of Conduct and Best Practices. The EJCP is a member of COPE and is supposed to follow its Code of Conduct and Best Practices.  See: Scientific journals: Do ethical standards apply?

As a result of the complaint to COPE, the journal has now published the following Erratum in which the authors disclose their conflicts of interest and withdraw the inaccurate funding information:

Role of stopping exposure and recent exposure to asbestos in the risk of mesothelioma: Erratum

European Journal of Cancer Prevention 2015, 24:68

The authors would like to bring the reader’s attention the conflicts of interest for their review paper (La Vecchia and Boffetta, 2012), and subsequent correspondence (La Vecchia and Boffetta, 2014). La Vecchia has acted as expert witness for the defendants or the judge in criminal trials involving occasional exposure to asbestos, on behalf of ENEL (Rome, Italy), Edison (Milan, Italy), Pirelli Tyres (Milan, Italy) and the Ordinary Tribunal of Turin (Italy). Boffetta has acted as expert witness for the defendants in a criminal trial involving exposure to asbestos in the manufacture of synthetic polymers and risk of mesothelioma (Edison, Milan, Italy).

This work was not conducted with the contribution of the Italian Association for Cancer Research as stated on page 229 and the authors withdraw this statement on the acknowledgement of funding.


La Vecchia C, Boffetta P (2012). Role of stopping exposure and recent exposure to asbestos in the risk of mesothelioma. Eur J Cancer Prev 21:227–230.

La Vecchia C, Boffetta P (2014). A critique of a review on the relationship between asbestos exposure and the risk of mesothelioma: reply. Eur J Cancer Prev 23:494–496.

Complaint to COPE continues to be pursued

It is encouraging that the Associate Editor of the EJCP, Dr. La Vecchia, and his co-author, Paolo Boffetta have finally been required to disclose their conflicts of interest and to correct the false funding information.

The complaint continues to be pursued since other issues contained in the complaint, such as the failure to follow a proper peer review process and the non disclosure of board members conflicts of interest, have still not been addressed.

Kathleen Ruff, Global Asbestos Awareness Network (GBAN) Charter Member

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Petition to have Stephan Schmidheiny Judged by the International Court of Justice in La Hague for Crimes against Humanity

Petition to have Stephan Schmidheiny Judged by the International Court of Justice in La Hague for Crimes against Humanity

Posted on December 5, 2014

Dear Friends,

Eternit JusticeWe are still shocked for the outrageous verdict issued by the Italian Supreme Court which dismissed the Eternit case for applying the statute of limitation although Stephan Schmidheiny was found guilty even by his own lawyer!

But Casale Monferrato, the city-symbol of the fight against asbestos decided to react!

Among the many legal, political and social initiatives, I would like to highlight this one:

Stephan Schmidheiny must be judged by the International Court of Justice in La Hague for crimes against humanity. Indeed what’s the difference between war crimes and a slaughter that caused only in the town of Casale more than 3000 deaths? And Eternit was not only in Casale nor in Italy, she was in Belgium, Germany, Switzerland, Holland, France, Austria, South America, South Africa, Asia… 

We are studying the  case with our lawyers and we would like to bring together victims groups from other countries. Would you like to join us? 

In the meantime I ask you on behalf ofAssociazione Familiari Vittime Amianto (Afeva) to sign this petition on change.org and to spread it in your webs and social networks. It takes 3 minutes. You can also add a comment.

Thank you very much,


Alessandro Pugno, GBAN Member and Associazione Familiari Vittime Amianto Representative


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Press Release November 19th after Court of Cassation Verdict on Eternit

Posted on November 22, 2014

Press Release November 19th after Court of Cassation Verdict on Eternit

Eternit JusticeWe express our strongest indignation and disagreement for the shameful and unfair verdict of the Court of Cassation issued on the 19th of November 2014. Schmidheiny, the CEO and co-owner of Eternit Italy had been sentenced to 18 years in prison for permanent wilful disaster. In the Court of Cassation the Swiss billionaire was not acquitted, it was the crime that fell under the statute of limitations: in fact both Chief Public Prosecutor, and even his lawyer described him as guilty.

It is a monstrosity and an outrage to apply the statute of limitation to a crime which has already caused 3,000 deaths, is still killing and still will, and that in Casale alone murder a person a week: today as we write these words Schmidheiny’s disaster has killed another victim.

This verdict violates the fundamental principles of International Conventions on Human Rights: the legal guarantees of the defendants must in no way not cancel the rights of the thousands of victims of the crime. The verdict says that personal responsibility for corporate crime can be annulled by arbitrary legal technicalities.

Our struggle continues: we shall pursue all the legal avenues and social mobilization throughout the world, including any case against Eternit, such as the case against Schmidheiny for murder soon to be heard in Turin. The international coordination, convened in Casale on November the 21st, 2014, voices its solidarity with the victims, to their relatives the world throughout and in Casale.

This shameful verdict will not stop us.

The international coordination of the Asbestos victims and relatives and representatives of the Italian Trade Unions (CGIL, CISL and Uil) and representatives from trade unions of several other countries and continents, jurists and experts

Afeva (Italy)
Andeva (France)
Abrea (Brasil)
Abeva (Belgium)
Fedavica (Spain)
Asarea (Argentina)
VAO (Switzerland)
Asbestos Victims’ Support Group Forum UK (Great Britain )
Ban Asbestos Network Japan (BANJAN)
Asian Ban Asbestos Network (A-BAN)

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Asbestos: “Art, Science, and Politics” Conference Update from Dr. Barry Castleman

Posted on November 10, 2014

Art, Science, and Politics Conference“A conference was held in Bogota called “Art, Science, and Politics” on November 5-7.  Prior to this event, there were some reports in the local newspaper, El Tiempo.

The spokesman for the asbestos industry (Ascolfibras), a businessman with a medical education, assured readers in one of these newspaper reports that, “The type of asbestos used in Colombia is regulated and is safe.”  This man was invited to the conference, but neither he nor anyone else from the industry came to address the meeting (he may have sent observers).  A response to his claims in the newspaper was prepared for the editor, co-signed by doctors in Colombia and foreign participants.

Colombian asbestos use has risen steeply from 2008-2012 to 26,000 m.t./yr, with imports mainly from Brazil and Russia.  The chrysotile asbestos mine in Colombia reopened after the cessation of Canadian asbestos exports in 2011.  Canadian asbestos regulations contain vague language about industry doing what is “possible”; asbestos-cement waste is categorized as ordinary waste.  Colombia adopted ILO Convention 162 on asbestos in 1998.  Whether there has been any enforcement action by the government is unclear.

Colombian conference speakers included a prominent unionist who said asbestos should be banned and Prof. Juan Pablo Ramos Bonilla of University of the Andes.  Juan Pablo Ramos Bonilla reported that there was no information publicly available on conditions in the country’s asbestos industry or the results of any medical surveys.  His group had done sampling in shops where mechanics did brake and clutch work and found significant exposures, often above the exposure limit of 0.1 f/cc.  Some of his work has been published and the rest will be.

The conference was organized by artist Guillermo Villamizar, who spoke of the influence of rich collectors such as Stephan Schmidheiny on the art world.

Foreign speakers included Fernanda Giannasi (Br.), Arthur Frank (US), Eduardo Rodriguez (Arg.), Paola de Castro (It.), Tania Munoz (Chile), and me.  The last three of these speakers shared experiences from banning asbestos in their countries.  Fernanda shared her experiences and observations on building a social movement on the asbestos issue.  Additional meetings were held with interested medical educators and government officials.  There was some media interest, and most of the proceedings were recorded.  Doctors, students, and others in attendance at the conference gave reason for optimism that a new campaign to ban asbestos in Colombia has started.  Paola de Castro suggested that establishing a new asbestos list in Spanish would be helpful in supporting campaigns in Latin America.

Some of the other participants may post pictures taken last week in Colombia.”

Barry CastlemanDr. Barry Castleman, ScD is an Environmental Consultant trained in chemical and environmental engineering. He holds a Doctor of Science degree from the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health. He has been a consultant to numerous agencies of the US government and other governments, international bodies, and environmental groups dealing with a wide range of public health issues. He has testified as an expert in civil litigation in the US on the history of asbestos as a public health problem and the reasons for failure to properly control asbestos hazards. Dr. Castleman has spent the past 40 years working on asbestos as a public health problem.  Dr. Castleman is a member of the ADAO Science Advisory Board.


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