Asbestos in the News: Issue 26

Asbestos in the News: Issue 26
At Got Mold? our goal is to keep our followers aware of asbestos related news stories. Each day, we scour the internet looking for relevant information. Here are 18 stories we thought may interest you!
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FEATURED STORIES (4)
Right thing to do is ban extraction of asbestos: Olive: The Canadian Public Health Association (CPHA) was too generous last Friday in lauding Ottawa’s announcement that day that Canada will stop objecting to the listing of asbestos as a dangerous material under the U.N.’s Rotterdam Convention on exports of hazardous materials. “Canada has a moral obligation, backed by well-grounded evidence, to close down this [industry] and stop exporting a potentially hazardous material to countries that are ill-equipped to protect the health of workers who handle asbestos fibres,” said Erica Di Ruggiero, chair of the CPHA. “The Government of Canada has made a good public health decision,” she said. Ottawa has done no such thing. There is nothing to stop continued exports of Canadian asbestos
Asbestos: Death to the Dust! Hail to the People!: It was reported on Friday in the Toronto Globe and Mail that the Canadian Federal Industry Minister Christian Paradis announced that the federal government will “no longer oppose global rules that restrict use and shipment of the substance” and that “Ottawa will offer up to $50-million to help towns dependent on the industry diversify their economies.” Shock waves circled the globe in minutes as news that 130 years of Canadian asbestos mining and lucrative asbestos export business to Asia, the USA, and other countries would end. Secondly, this announcement means the Canadian government will no longer support the mining and exportation of chrysotile asbestos or oppose the listing chrysotile asbestos as a hazardous substance on the prior informed consent” (PIC) listing at the Rotterdam Convention. Adding chrysotile asbestos, a known human carcinogen, to the PIC list would require exporters to fill out forms listing risks and safe handling procedures.
World’s Top Environmental Success Stories: Don’t Despair: The first medical article about the dangers of asbestos was published in the British Medical Journal in 1924. It led to regulations that controlled dust emissions from U.K. factories. Four decades passed before scientists confirmed just how inadequate those restrictions were. Lawsuits in the 1970s revealed that corporations knew about the risks for decades and concealed them from the public. Most of the companies that mined or used asbestos have since gone bankrupt, after billions of dollars in litigation losses. Even with strict regulations now in place across much of the world, researchers say deaths from past exposures will continue well into the 21st century.
Asbestos in Canada: Loved no more: IT HAS long been an article of faith that the Canadian government, regardless of which party was in power, would defend the asbestos industry in the province of Quebec. Federal officials have fought for years to keep chrysotile, the type of asbestos mined in the province, off an international list of hazardous substances put together under the Rotterdam Convention. Federal (and provincial) funds went to the now defunct Chrysotile Institute, which advocated internationally for its “safe and responsible” use. Even as Canadian and international medical groups called for a ban on chrysotile because of its link to cancer and the media pointed to the hypocrisy of spending millions to rid Canadian government buildings of asbestos while pushing developing countries to buy it, the federal government stood firm.
ASBESTOS in SCHOOLS (2)
Asbestos Confirmed in TX High School: Late last week, contractors working on repairing the damage from a springtime hail storm discovered what appeared to be asbestos under the gym floor in the McAllen High School. The discovery occurred on Friday and tests conducted confirmed the presence of asbestos on Saturday. Though officials assure students, faculty and construction workers that the asbestos is safe and only comprises a small percentage of the material under the gym floor, precautionary measures are already underway. On Monday, McAllen School District officials sent letters to parents of the high school students and kept the gym cordoned off until the asbestos is safely and properly removed.
Two Hawaii Playgrounds Tested for Asbestos: Two playgrounds in Maili on the island of Oahu, Hawaii were recently demolished and set to be renovated, but residents say the debris left from the demolition remains behind and their children’s lungs have been filling up with its dust. According to a story aired on KHON-2 TV News, the playgrounds – one of which is owned by the Hawaii Public Housing Authority – were left in a shambles after equipment was knocked down or torn out. It wasn’t until nearly a month later that workers wearing masks and rubber gloves came to remove the debris. Now both playgrounds are being tested for asbestos and lead. “I am relieved that they came and cleared it,” said Dawn Clarke, an area resident. However, she added, her daughter – as well as many other children in the area – has been coughing since the equipment came down and the remains left unattended.
ASBESTOS and HEALTH (3)
Kids ‘playing with asbestos’: Children using a play area in Carlton have been using discarded asbestos to make dens according to one worried resident. Concerned Steve Ferguson contacted the Guardian after Bassetlaw Council failed to remove it despite him making two phone calls. “My wife first noticed the asbestos that had been dumped behind the children’s play park behind the Beckett Avenue Post Office 10 days ago,” said Mr Ferguson. “It has got all broken and smashed up because the children are moving it and have started playing with it and using it to make dens.”
Health check advised for asbestos workers: Yukoners who worked at or lived near the Cassiar asbestos mine should watch for signs of cancer. The mine, located just south of the Yukon-B.C. border, operated for nearly 40 years before closing in the early 1990s. Over 50,000 people worked there, with many coming from the Yukon. At its peak, the mine produced an average of 380 tonnes of asbestos fibre a day. The mineral was once widely used as a fireproof insulator. But its tiny, needle-like fibres easily become airborne, and today, it’s known that inhaling asbestos can lead to terminal cancer. New CT scans can detect tumours much earlier, which can prolong patients’ lives, said Lee Loftus with the asbestos union in B.C. Asbestos exposure can also contribute to heart problems and gastrointestinal diseases. “There’s no safe level of exposure, and that’s irrefutable, contrary to the federal government saying there’s safe ways to use it, but there really isn’t,” he said.
Asbestos exposure blamed for death of retired carpenter, inquest rules: A RETIRED carpenter who was found dead in his bath with a knife died as the result of asbestos exposure, an inquest heard on Tuesday. Raymond Bowden, of Grosvenor Place in St Austell, said he had worked with asbestos without protective clothing or masks for decades at various companies as a carpenter and builder. “The asbestos would be like a cloud around me,” said a statement read at the inquest, which was written by Mr Bowden before his death. “I had no choice but to inhale the dust.” The inquest heard how Mr Bowden had a history of breathlessness, was diagnosed with asbestosis in June 2011 and before his death his breathing had become so bad he had to stop halfway through sentences. Asbestosis is a scarring of the lung tissue from an acid produced by the body’s attempt to dissolve asbestos fibres.
ASBESTOS in PUBLIC BUILDINGS (1)
Asbestos removal next for new city hall project: It might be a while before Solon’s new city hall takes shape. The City of Solon took possession of 100 W. Main St. in July, intending to convert the two-story location formerly known as the Candy Store into city offices and council chambers. Asbestos removal has been scheduled for the beginning of October, but council members are in no hurry to rush the project.
LEGAL ISSUES and ASBESTOS (6)
More asbestos suits filed in St. Clair County; High court to hear forum arguments Wednesday: On Wednesday, the Illinois Supreme Court will hear arguments in Walter Fennell v. Illinois Central Railroad Co., a case arising from St. Clair County that deals with the doctrine of forum non conveniens. At issue in the case is whether St. Clair County Judge Lloyd Cueto erred in denying Illinois Central’s motion to dismiss for forum after determining the railroad company failed to show that factors favored a Mississippi forum. In the meantime, more suits have been added St. Clair County’s asbestos docket.
Asbestos claim family’s plea for help to workers: RELATIVES of a Coventry electrician are launching a legal claim after he died from asbestos-related cancer. The family of Frank Parker, of Oxendon Way, Ernesford Grange, has teamed up with lawyers to search out any former colleagues who may have suffered from the same illness. Frank died of mesothelioma last June aged 73.
Madison County asbestos case settles after 14 jurors picked: By the time asbestos attorneys whittled a jury from a pool of 53 to 14, the case settled at 10:02 a.m. Wednesday in Madison County Associate Judge Clarence Harrison’s courtroom. “I don’t have any idea” what the settlement was, Harrison said, while signing the jurors’ certificates in his office. “I didn’t wait around to hear anything other than it was resolved.” Opening statements were expected to start Wednesday morning in a case brought by Robert Kreimer and his wife, Margie Kreimer, of Cleves, Ohio. The couple sued 66 corporate defendants in November 2010, and all but two defendants – mechanical seal manufacturer John Crane Co. and metal valve maker Crane Co. – had settled or had been dismissed prior to the beginning of jury selection on Monday.
Ky. couple names 71 companies in asbestos suit: A South Shore, Ky., couple is suing 71 companies they claim are responsible for an esophageal cancer diagnosis. On Aug. 23, 2011, James D. Holbrook was diagnosed with esophageal cancer, according to a complaint filed Aug. 21 in Kanawha Circuit Court. Holbrook and his wife, Guyneth Marie Holbrook, claim the 71 defendants are responsible for the cancer because he was exposed to asbestos during his employment as a laborer and worker from 1956 until 1987. The defendants are being sued based on theories of negligence, contaminated buildings, breach of expressed/implied warranty, strict liability, intentional tort, conspiracy, misrepresentations and post-sale duty to warn, according to the suit.
Staffordshire Council in guilty plea on asbestos at school: Glenthorne Primary School in Cheslyn Hay was closed for four months as a result in 2009, costing taxpayers £246,000. Lawyers for the local authority yesterday entered a guilty plea to a health and safety charge brought over the asbestos alert. They admitted failing to ensure persons not in its employment were not exposed to risks. Sub-contractor Mr Ian Turner was listed as one of the people put at risk. Rugeley building firm G Evans (Services) Ltd admitted a similar charge and another of failing to ensure the safety of employee Mr Lawrence Hollins. No details of the offences were given by Mr Timothy Green, prosecuting for the Health and Safety Executive at Stafford Crown Court.
Suspended jail term for Bromley workman who breached asbestos regulations: DOCTORING an air safety test and putting people at risk of being exposed to asbestos fibres has landed a company director with a suspended jail sentence. Peter Horrey, of Jackson Road, Bromley, had been hired to take out all the asbestos insulation from the boiler room of a property but failed to effectively clean and decontaminate the room. As well as being unlicensed to remove asbestos, he left visible fibres that were a danger to the householders and the plumbers, who were due to start work on the boiler.
MISC. (2)
Maine Asbestos Cleanup Almost Complete: Maine environmental officials say a Wilton building that was once described as the worst asbestos hazard in the state has been largely cleaned up. The former Forster Mill building on Depot Street is scheduled for an inspection by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection on Friday. Department spokeswoman Samantha Depoy-Warren tells the Morning Sentinel that enforcement team members were jubilant after seeing photos of the cleanup site.
After Asbestos- Time to support a Royal Commission on toxic threat: Public policy is not always boring. As much as most voters like the excitement of personality over purpose, there are fleeting moments in the life a nation where we have to pay attention to what has been done, and not just to what has been acted. And when such moments occur, it is our responsibility as citizens to push forward the agenda of human progress. If we fail, at those moments, to engage in the life of our nation we compromise our responsibilities as citizens of freedom and prejudice our rights to complain. One such moment occurred last week in the life of this nation. The federal government abandoned the protection of an entire industry and committed massive funds to find alternative and environmentally sound jobs for the workers displaced. And it did it for one of the most important imperatives of the state. The protection of the health of its citizens. Last week the Harper administration announced that it would no longer be supporting or encouraging the mining and export of asbestos, and Canada will no longer object to the listing of asbestos as a hazardous substance under the Rotterdam Treaty. And it committed $50 million just to the Quebec area affected, to fund new jobs in new industries. And it was not a nanny state decision that we have criticized at all government levels in the past. This wasn’t about forcing individuals to change their habits like the anti-smoking laws. In a free society people have a right to choose, even badly. You have all seen me write this before. No, this decision is important on a much higher level. It is a recognition that there are macro factors in our environment that are affecting the health of us all, and that their affects must be studied, curtailed and perhaps eliminated.

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