Make India Asbestos Free

Make India Asbestos Free
For Asbestos Free India

Ban Asbestos Network of India (BANI) works for Asbestos Free India since 2002. Occupational Health India and ToxicsWatch Alliance are its members that includes occupational health doctors, researchers and activists. BANI demands criminal liability for companies and medico-legal remedy for victims. It works with trade unions, human rights, environmental and public health groups. For Details:krishna1715@gmail.com, oshindia@yahoo.in, toxicswatchallaince@gmail.com

Friday, November 14, 2008

In the early 1970s there were reports of talc-dusting of rice. Asbestos is a common contaminant of talc. Google talc/rice/asbestos:
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/5098957?ordinalpos=1&itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsPanel.Pubmed_DiscoveryPanel.Pubmed_Discovery_RA&linkpos=1&log$=relatedarticles&logdbfrom=pubmed

Who’s to be blamed for rise in asbestos-related deaths?

Ahmedabad, November 13 Official denies use of asbestos in power companies even as the latter admit to using it for boiler and turbine insulation

It has been a life of agony, pain and compromise for Hemalata, daughter of Kishan Goplani, an ex-worker of the erstwhile Ahmedabad Electricity Corporation (now Torrent Power), who died a slow and painful death in 1996 because of asbestosis.

Although Hemalata received Rs 1.5 lakh in an out-of-court settlement in 2008, this is among a few lucky instances in the battle against the asbestos related diseases (ARDs).

Such is the state of apathy and indifference by the government that V N Patel, director Industrial Health, Hygiene and Safety, Ahmedabad denied any knowledge of asbestosis cases in the region.

He was ignorant of the report submitted by the National Institute of Occupational Hazards (NIOH) in 2005, with findings of suspected asbestosis among Torrent workers.

He also had no information about a 2007 diagnosis camp organised by Dr V Murlidhar, founder member of the Occupational Health and Safety Centre, Mumbai, which identified eight cases of asbestosis — five in torrent workers, one spouse of a worker and two Digvijay Cement workers.

To top it all, Patel even denied that power companies are using asbestos in boiler and turbine insulation.

“Now, only glass wool is being used for insulation,” he said.

This is when Torrent Power officials themselves admitted to the prevalent use of asbestos. Torrent Power said it would look into the IBAS dossier and would reply to all its findings soon.

Moving to the cement manufacturing sector, the Ban Asbestos Network of India did a survey of about 600 workers of Digvijay Cement in 2008, of whom, 103 showed symptoms of asbestosis.

Even in 2003, Kalyaneshwari, a voluntary organisation, had medically examined 93 former workers of the company, of which 24 were found suffering from ARDs.

Kalyaneshwari later filed a Public Interest Litigation in the Supreme Court in this connection and the judgement is awaited.

P A Nair, Chief Executive Officer, Digvijay Cement, could not be contacted despite several attempts.

Even the credibility of NIOH has come into question, with the cases like the one in November 2007 when it failed to confirm its original diagnosis of 2005 when Torrent Power workers were found to have symptoms of ARDs.

The second diagnosis was done on the insistence of Torrent for an out-of-court settlement with workers.

Overall, the situation is so precarious that the IBAS has termed the ‘shameless betrayal of civil society by the political-industrial establishment’ as a ‘crime against humanity’.

Gaurav Sharma
Nov 14, 2008
Indian Express

Who’s to be blamed for rise in asbestos-related deaths?

Ahmedabad, November 13 Official denies use of asbestos in power companies even as the latter admit to using it for boiler and turbine insulation

It has been a life of agony, pain and compromise for Hemalata, daughter of Kishan Goplani, an ex-worker of the erstwhile Ahmedabad Electricity Corporation (now Torrent Power), who died a slow and painful death in 1996 because of asbestosis.

Although Hemalata received Rs 1.5 lakh in an out-of-court settlement in 2008, this is among a few lucky instances in the battle against the asbestos related diseases (ARDs).

Such is the state of apathy and indifference by the government that V N Patel, director Industrial Health, Hygiene and Safety, Ahmedabad denied any knowledge of asbestosis cases in the region.

He was ignorant of the report submitted by the National Institute of Occupational Hazards (NIOH) in 2005, with findings of suspected asbestosis among Torrent workers.

He also had no information about a 2007 diagnosis camp organised by Dr V Murlidhar, founder member of the Occupational Health and Safety Centre, Mumbai, which identified eight cases of asbestosis — five in torrent workers, one spouse of a worker and two Digvijay Cement workers.

To top it all, Patel even denied that power companies are using asbestos in boiler and turbine insulation.

“Now, only glass wool is being used for insulation,” he said.

This is when Torrent Power officials themselves admitted to the prevalent use of asbestos. Torrent Power said it would look into the IBAS dossier and would reply to all its findings soon.

Moving to the cement manufacturing sector, the Ban Asbestos Network of India did a survey of about 600 workers of Digvijay Cement in 2008, of whom, 103 showed symptoms of asbestosis.

Even in 2003, Kalyaneshwari, a voluntary organisation, had medically examined 93 former workers of the company, of which 24 were found suffering from ARDs.

Kalyaneshwari later filed a Public Interest Litigation in the Supreme Court in this connection and the judgement is awaited.

P A Nair, Chief Executive Officer, Digvijay Cement, could not be contacted despite several attempts.

Even the credibility of NIOH has come into question, with the cases like the one in November 2007 when it failed to confirm its original diagnosis of 2005 when Torrent Power workers were found to have symptoms of ARDs.

The second diagnosis was done on the insistence of Torrent for an out-of-court settlement with workers.

Overall, the situation is so precarious that the IBAS has termed the ‘shameless betrayal of civil society by the political-industrial establishment’ as a ‘crime against humanity’.

Gaurav Sharma
Nov 14, 2008
Indian Express

Asbestos-related diseases give tough time to Gujaratis



Ahmedabad: “It has been a disgusting life,” says Manga N Patel, sitting on the lone bench at a tea stall in Parshavnath Nagar locality of Chandkheda in Ahmedabad. With tears rolling down his face, Patel walks away saying he is in no mood to talk further. Similar has been the response of scores of other people working in factories which use asbestos.

The case in question is a recently published dossier titled 'India's Asbestos Time Bomb' by the renowned International Ban Asbestos Secretariat (IBAS) that has termed Gujarat as the 'Asbestos Hot Spot.'

The dossier, which was circulated at the recently concluded fourth meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP-4) of the UN's Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent (PIC) Procedure in Rome, lists the 'Golden Corridor' of Gujarat as the major hub for asbestos use.

The corridor stretching from Mehsana in north to Vapi in south, housing over 31,000 working factories, has a routine occupational exposure to asbestos in power generation, ship-breaking, cement production, insulation, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, friction materials and safety equipment factories.

The dossier mentions power generation industries like the Ahmedabad electricity corporation (now known as Torrent Power) as widely using asbestos for boilers and furnaces. Although there are cases like Patel, a former boiler room operator, being paid Rs 1.60 lakh by the company as the out-of-court settlement amount, cases of compensation for the Asbestos Related Disease (ARD) victims are far and few between.

Also, due to the widespread availability of limestone in Gujarat, there are a lot many industries manufacturing asbestos cement sheets. The IBAS names Shree Digvijay Cement Company Limited, Ahmedabad as the main culprit in this regard. Up till now, the Employee State Insurance Corporation (ESIC) has compensated eight individuals for ADR. All of them were workers of the Digvijay Cement.

Ship-breaking is another source of asbestos exposure to workers, most famous being the site at Alang near Bhavnagar. The controversy surrounding Clemenceau and Blue Lady, carrying asbestos waste and radioactive materials, is still fresh in the public memory.

‘ARDs claim more lives than any other work-related illness’

According to the IBAS, India employs nearly one lakh workers in both organised and unorganised sectors of the asbestos industry, with majority of them in Gujarat. The cumulative asbestos consumption in India between 1960 and 2008 is estimated to exceed the seven-million-tonne mark. It is also estimated that ADRs like malignant mesothelioma, asbestos-related lung cancer and asbestosis kill more people than any other work-related illness. Although blue and brown asbestos are banned, white asbestos continues to be used in India. But what is most shocking is the stance taken by the Indian Government along with Canada and Russia at COP-4, by vetoing the inclusion of chrysotile on the PIC list. The inclusion would have made it mandatory for the exporters to provide information to the importing countries on the hazards posed by the chemicals to both the human health and environment.
—ENS

Supreme Court’s January 1995 ruling
The Supreme Court, in response to a public interest litigation filed by the Consumer Education and Research Centre, passed an order on January 21, 1995, which included:

* Maintenance of health records for 40 years since employed or 15 years after leaving employment (in the asbestos industry)
* National Institute of Occupational Hazard should decide on diagnoses in case of disputes
* Rs 1 lakh compensation to be paid to the asbestos-related disease victims
* Special monitoring of small-scale asbestos manufacturing units
* Regular reviews of permissible limits for asbestosSetting up membrane filter test facilities for measuring dust levels
— ENS

— (With inputs from Parimal Dabhi)


Gaurav Sharma
Nov 13, 2008

Indian Express

Friday, November 7, 2008

India & Pakistan join hands against their citizens & workers


Under the influence of Russia, Canada and asbestos companies, Indian and Pakistani governments compelled the UN conference in Rome on 28th October, 2008 to miss the opportunity to include chrysotile (white) asbestos in the UN hazardous chemicals trade watch list for the fourth time. Asbestos is a cancer causing fiber due to which 10, 000 people are dying every year in US and 4, 000 per year in UK. More than 50 countries including Europe, Japan, Australia have banned it.

Governments of India and Pakistan revealed how it is puts trade before human health in an act of manifest sophistry and insincerity.

Ban Asbestos Network and civil rights groups across the globe condemned such treacherous callousness in the face of incurable but preventable asbestos disease epidemic.

In a noteworthy but unpardonable collaboration between India and Pakistan both the countries decided to endanger the lives of their citizens, children, women and workers by betraying public interest for the benefit of Russia, Canada and asbestos companies.

Both the governments turned a blind eye towards the poisonous atmosphere around the asbestos factories and the dangers it poses to the health and life of citizens. This was being done just to pander to the industry's hunger for profit at human cost.

This came to light at the fourth meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP-4) of the UN's Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure (PIC) for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade during 27-31 October 2008.

BANI outraged after Rotterdam Convention

Russia Cancer News - Media Monitoring Service by EIN News

Ban Asbestos Network of India (BANI) Outraged After Rotterdam Convention
6 Nov 2008

... Group calls the non-addition of chrysotile asbestos to UN list disgraceful, denounces several A ... of Indian citizens who call themselves BANI (Ban Asbestos Network of India) released a statement this week ...

Asbestos in hazardous list In India - no way!
5 Nov 2008 07
... few reckless governments that has created a stalemate for the UN hazardous chemicals treaty, Ban Asbestos Network of India (BANI) statement says, "Canadian, Russian and Indian governments have turned a blind eye.towards how the atmosphere around asbestos factory and asbestos products becomes poisonous and imperils the health and life of their citizens.”.

www.einnews.com/russia/newsfeed-russia-cancer

Ban Asbestos Network of India (BANI) has accused Canadian, Russian and Indian governments of turning a blind eye towards the towards how the atmosphere around asbestos factory and asbestos products becomes poisonous and imperils the health and life of their citizens.”

press.jrc.it/NewsBrief/alertedition/en/AgriculturalTechnology.html

BANI Group calls the non-addition of chrysotile asbestos to UN list “disgraceful,” denounces several countries and their governments

A group of Indian citizens who call themselves BANI (Ban Asbestos Network of India) released a statement this week stating their position on the asbestos-related decisions at the Rotterdam Convention. In their statement, BANI claimed that “Canadian, Russian and Indian governments have turned a blind eye towards how the atmosphere around asbestos factory and asbestos products becomes poisonous and imperils the health and life of their citizens.”

The BANI statement went on to say that “India’s position is disgraceful” and that Indian leaders are failing to protect their people, as well as the people of other impoverished nations, by “depriving them of information” related to asbestos safety and the health risks associated with exposure.

R. H. Khawaja, head of the Indian delegation at the Rotterdam Convention and representative of India’s Ministry of Environment, took an “untenable” position. BANI reacted to their government’s position by stating that Indian leaders have a “naked lust for profit at the cost of human health.”

Here in North America, the Canadian government has yet to react to the decisions made at the Convention. Canadian-mined chrysotile asbestos accounts for almost 95% of exported asbestos, and almost half of Canada’s exported ore ends up in India, where the rates of mesothelioma cancer continue to increase in asbestos handlers and workers.

In America, asbestos is not banned. Usage regulations state that materials containing asbestos cannot exceed 1% asbestos, but exposure to this toxin continues to be an issue. Countless Americans who work in a number of different industries, including construction, are exposed to airborne asbestos each year, and due to the latency period of between 20 and 30 years associated with mesothelioma, these individuals may not begin to experience any symptoms until they are well into their sixties. Many Americans continue to push for a total ban on asbestos, but the American government has yet to pass any related legislation.

For now, the rate of death from asbestos cancer will continue to increase worldwide, especially in impoverished nations where the health and safety of workers is not always a priority.

Related article courtesy of merinews.com.

Source: pr-canada.net

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Disliking asbestos: The Ottawa Citizen


(Photo:IBAS)

November 06, 2008

The Oct. 25 issue of The Economist features an article on Canada's "curious liking for asbestos."

The remaining active asbestos mines are in Quebec. The article stated: "The industry's labour battles, and role in the approval of workplace safety laws, have given it an almost sacred status in the province and made it politically untouchable." This must be why Canada has lobbied so successfully to keep asbestos off the UN list of hazardous substances?

We are spending millions of dollars to remove asbestos from our Parliament buildings yet we continue to mine and export this cancer maker. To whom? Canada exports Quebec's asbestos to developing countries. No one else wants it.

This is worse than scandalous. Where is the outcry? Where are politicians with a conscience?

Fatal white asbestos not on toxic list yet


INTERNATIONAL trade in Chrysotile asbestos will continue unhindered, as main players in this trade including Canada and India have blocked a decision to put this substance in the list of toxics whose trade is restricted under UN- sponsored treaty on hazardous chemicals.

The proposal to include Chrysotile asbestos in the list of toxic substances was postponed for lack of consensus at the fourth meeting of the Conference of the Parties of the Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure ( PIC) for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade, which ended in Rome on Friday.

The 1998 convention requires exporters of certain hazardous substances to obtain PIC from importers, a measure meant to ensure that poorer countries do not let in products they may prefer to avoid. While inclusion on the so- called PIC list does not ban those products, it does highlight their highly toxic nature.

The convention is not about banning substances — it is about obligatory consent before import or export of the chemicals.

Chrysotile is the only type of asbestos that is still widely used, mainly in building products in developing countries.

" Russia, India, Pakistan and Canada compelled the UN conference to miss the opportunity to list chrysotile ( white) asbestos for the fourth time," said Gopal Krishna, a member of the Rotterdam Convention Alliance, who was an observer at the meeting. " These countries are blocking the will of the overwhelming majority of the countries.

They are putting trade before human health. The reasons they give are completely illogical and obstructive", he added.

" In an act of manifest sophistry and insincerity, officials of the ministry of environment argued that strategies for global chemicals management must respect nations' sovereign right to use chemicals for the national good, taking into account both socioeconomic and environmental concerns," Krishna pointed out.

Bakary Kante, an official of the United Nations Environment Programme, said the convention is not about banning chemicals, but rather informed chemicals' management.

Chrysotile asbestos — widely used in building materials - accounts for about 94 per cent of global asbestos production. The World Health Organization ( WHO) has identified it as a human carcinogen, and reports that at least 90,000 people die each year of asbestos- related diseases such as lung cancer and mesothelioma. The International Labour Organisation ( ILO) has also called for end to its use.

" India's position at Rome meeting is disgraceful. Not only does it not protect its own people from harm, India also denies other countries, especially poorer countries to protect its people from harm by depriving them of information," said Madhumita Dutta of corporate accountability desk of The Other Media, a Chennai- based NGO.


November 1, 2008

Mail Today

Monday, November 3, 2008

Our asbestos gambit: The Star, Canada

EDITORIAL

The Canadian government got what it wanted: We can continue to sell a known carcinogen to developing countries without even a warning label. Ottawa's position may protect jobs in Quebec, where chrysotile asbestos is still mined, but it's a source of shame for the nation.

Last week, Canada – by shrewdly keeping a low profile and letting countries that import our chrysotile asbestos do the talking – managed to keep the mineral off a United Nations watch list of dangerous materials. Inclusion on the list doesn't ban it, but it red-flags the dangers and requires governments to consent to import it.

The dangers appear undeniable – here at home, at least. Ottawa is spending millions to remove asbestos from Parliament Hill. That hypocritical message is simple: dangerous for us; safe for them.

India and other nations are happy to buy what we're selling because mixing it with cement increases the durability of water pipes and roofing shingles – and is cheaper than other options. The industry contends chrysotile is less deadly than other forms of asbestos if handled safely. Given that workers in these parts of the world often wear little more than shorts and flip flops, that's a pointless distinction.

As more nations get the economic wherewithal to put health ahead of cheap products, the asbestos trade will meet its deserved end. Says New Democrat MP Pat Martin, who once worked in an asbestos mine: "It's a dying industry in more ways than one." But Prime Minister Stephen Harper has missed an opportunity to do what's right and help Canada regain some of the international respect we've lost.

3 November, 2008

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