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 27, 2009

End the Trade in Asbestos Cancer!

International Coverage

2009.09.30: Mesothelioma News- Canada continues to mine lethal asbestos fibers
World Health Organization continues to condemn the use of toxic chrysotile asbestos and the mining of the lethal substance while Quebec actively mines the cancer causing product.Canadian provinces continue to allow LAB Chrysotile to mine asbestos materials known to cause fatal cancers.
http://www.justicenewsflash.com/2009/09/30/canada-continues-lethal-asbestos-fibers_200909302271.html

2009.09: Special Report: International. Asbestos production increases despite WHO opposition
The Lancet: Production levels of asbestos are not declining; and have stabilised at roughly 2·2 million metric tonnes a year, around the same level they stood at in 1960. Canada was formerly the world’s leading producer of chrysotile; and its continuing support for the industry has raised concern.
http://www.mdconsult.com/das/article/body/162734181-2/jorg=journal&source=&sp=N&sid=0/N/710999/1.html?issn=

2009.07.21: Settlement Reached For Cleanup of Asbestos Mine
A legal settlement allowing for the cleanup and monitoring on the nation's largest former chrysotile asbestos mine and mill in Vermont helps raise awareness of the prevalence of asbestos in society, says a New York personal injury attorney who concentrates in asbestos litigation.
http://www.prweb.com:80/releases/2009/07/prweb2652884.htm

Scientific And Medical Facts About Chrysotile Asbestos Released By The Environmental Information Association And The Asbestos Desease Awareness Organization
2009.06.20: The EIA and the ADAO today announced the development of the Chrysotile Asbestos Fact Sheet (CAFS). The EIA and ADAO concluded, along with the majority of scientific agencies, that there is sufficient evidence to support that all forms of asbestos, including chrysotile, are carcinogenic and are responsible for asbestos related lung cancer, mesothelioma, laryngeal and ovarian cancers.

http://medicespana.com:80/


2009.04.30: Scientists Declare All Forms of Asbestos Toxic.
Through the development of the Chrysotile Asbestos Fact Sheet (CAFS), the Environmental Information Agency (EIA) and the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization have concluded that chrysotile asbestos is a carcinogenic substance.
http://www.asbestos.com:80/news/2009/04/30/scientists-declare-all-forms-of-asbestos-toxic/

2009.05.05: Indians Angry At Canada’s Continued Promotion of Asbestos.
This happened in the wake of the shocking act of Canadian government to continue its promotion of the killer fiber by “a grant of $ 250, 000" in its current budget despite Health Canada report indicting the Quebec and Canadian government’s disgraceful support to the asbestos industry and the recent report “India’s Asbestos Time Bomb” revealing corporate barbarism of worst kind.
http://banasbestosindia.blogspot.com:80/2009/05/canada-continues-to-promote-asbestos.html

2009.04.26-27: Asian Asbestos Conference blasts Canada
The asbestos lobby led by the Chrysotile Institute has been feeding lies and myths to promote the white asbestos.
www.ngocn.org/batch.download.php?aid=6643//

2009.04.22: British Expert Accuses Ottawa of Suppressing Cancer Report
Globe and Mail: There are interests in continuing production of Canadian chrysotile asbestos, said Dr Trevor Ogden, member of Health Canada’s asbestos committee’s report, editor-in-chief of the Annals of Occupational Hygene and advisor to the British government.
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/LAC.20090422.ASBESTOS22ART2244/TPStory/TPScience/Quebec/


2009.04.03: Gobe and Mail: Canada’s Asbestos Shame
Martin Mittelstaedt: It's not just that Canada is home to companies that sell asbestos abroad. The federal and Quebec governments actively promote it, spending tens of millions since 1984 to encourage the remaining markets, mainly in developing countries. Ottawa has even mobilized Canadian diplomatic staff, from Jakarta to Washington, as recently as last summer, to stand on guard against asbestos bans in the roughly 70 countries that still buy it from Canada. The biggest purchaser, taking about a quarter of Canada's output, is India, where it's easy to find workers using one of the most dangerous materials in the world clad only in T-shirts, shorts and flip-flops. Ottawa said it doesn't verify whether buyers follow Canadian-style rules when using asbestos, arguing that seeking such information would violate foreign sovereignty. "Anyone who says there's controlled use of asbestos in the Third World is either a liar or a fool," says Barry Castleman, a consultant who helped to advise Europeans in 2000 on Canada's unsuccessful attempt to overturn a French ban on Canadian asbestos. In July, the Canadian embassy in Washington sent a letter to the U.S. Senate, which was considering an asbestos ban. The letter conceded that "all forms of asbestos fibres, including chrysotile, are carcinogenic," but it maintained that its use can be safe if proper precautions are followed. The Senate ignored the advice and voted unanimously this month to ban asbestos.
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/article791256.ece

2009.03.27: The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IRAC) reconfirmed this week that all commercial asbestos fibers cause lung cancer and mesothelioma.
The confirmation by IARC – the world’s leading cancer research agency – that all forms of asbestos, including its most commonly used form of asbestos chrysotile, cause lung cancer, laryngeal cancer, and mesothelioma, leave no doubt that the prevailing medical evidence is irrefutable as to asbestos’ carcinogenicity.
http://www.asbestos.com:80/news/2009/03/27/mesothelioma-cause-reconfirmed/

2009.03.26: International Agency for Research on Cancer reconfirms asbestos dangers
Recent meeting of World Health Organization Research Group again reported that all commercial asbestos fibers - including especially chrysotile asbestos - cause deadly diseases and cited important new findings for women
http://www.marketwatch.com:80/news/story/adao-applauds-international-agency-research/story.aspx?guid=%7B4CCAED8F-1A26-4FB3-B981-552C75E59AA4%7D&dist=msr_1

2009.3.07: Eternit Italy bosses will stand trial in December
AP: An Italian judge ordered on 22nd July 2009 a Belgian man and a Swiss man to stand trial for alleged negligence leading to hundreds of deaths linked to asbestos plants. Prosecutors say Stephan Schmidheiny of Switzerland and Jean-Louis de Cartier of Belgium were key shareholders in Eternit, a Swiss construction company. They allege the two were ultimately responsible for the death of some 2,000 workers and residents from asbestos-related diseases.
http://hesa.etui-rehs.org/uk/newsevents/newsfiche.asp?pk=1270

2009.03.03: Chrysotile Institute Retreats in france
A lawsuit for criminal libel brought by the Chrysotile Institute against the French asbestos Victims Organization collapsed when the Chrysotile Institute suddenly withdrew from the case. The pretences invoked by the Chrysotile Institute's lawyer bordered on the ridiculous. He stated that the defense was trying to hold a trial of asbestos and that his client was not willing to participate in the debate.
http://ibasecretariat.org/lka_vict_french_vict_gp_2009.php

2009.01.29: The Fatal (Canadian Asbestos) Phenomenon.
Die Zeit (The Times): Germany's leading newspaper rebukes Canada as the only western country which aggressively torpedoes every international agreement to limit the production and use of asbestos. This shocking policy elicits outrage in the European Union.
German - http://www.zeit.de/2009/06/Asbest

2009.04: Asian Asbestos Conference, Hong Kong, blasts Canada
The asbestos lobby led by the Canadian Chrysotile Institute has been feeding lies and myths to promote the white asbestos and our governments in the region have been falling prey to such campaign which is exposing hundreds of thousands of workers and community people to this known hazardous and carcinogenic. substance.
www.ngocn.org/batch.download.php?aid=6643/

2009.03.24: How much money is Canada putting aside for future asbestos claims?
Discussions are held in India about the growing public health problems in India caused by chrysotile asbestos, much of it from Canada. Even U.S based Dow Chemicals Company has set aside $2.2 billion to address future asbestos-related liabilities arising out of its acquisition of the Union Carbide Company. The discussions dwell on asbestos and corporate accountability.
http://banasbestosindia.blogspot.com:80/2009/03/round-table-on-shipbreaking-asbestos.html


2009.01.29: Brazilian Minister Bans Asbestos
The Ministry of the Environment's ban is another step in the long campaign to protect workers and society from asbestos. The minister pledged to continue his efforts until there was a complete ban throughout Brazil. He said that it was likely that the Health Ministry would be the next government department to ban asbestos.
http://ibasecretariat.org/lka_braz_minister_bans_asb_feb_09.php

2009.01.23: Canadian Exports of Chrysotile to India Must be Banned

There are no reliable statistics, or compensation, for Mesothelioma or other asbestos related illness in Indian workers. India’s use of asbestos has more than doubled in the past 30 years. Thanks to greatly increased industrial activity it is the largest importer of Russian and Canadian asbestos.

http://cancer-types.suite101.com/article.cfm/asbestos_related_mesothelioma_in_india

2008.11.14: What Happens to Canadian Asbestos in India?

"What's the difference between land mines and asbestos?" asks Dr Barry Castleman, author of a respected book on the dangers of asbestos. "A key difference, of course, is that Canada does not export landmines."

http://www.twnside.org.sg/title/deadly-cn.htm


2008.11.12: European Trade Unions want asbestos covered by the Rotterdam Convention
The European Trade Union Confederation accuses Canada of once again trying to form a coalition of countries to block the inclusion of chrysotile on the list of substances covered by the Rotterdam Convention. It’s unacceptable for chrysotile asbestos to once again escape the regulatory mechanisms for hazardous substances provided for by the Rotterdam Convention.
http://hesa.etui-rehs.org/uk/dossiers/files/CES-Asbestos-press%20release.pdf

2008.10.27: Stop Canada exporting asbestos

The Economist: The reward for Canada lending its boy-scout reputation to this cause was that the other countries would "tolerate higher-cost Canadian producers" and thereby allow its asbestos industry to remain profitable, according to a ministerial briefing-note obtained by a researcher.
http://www.guidedlearning.ca/On%20Going%20Topics%20and%20Issues/Economics/Canada/Asbestos.pdf

2008.10.23: Canada’s hazardous hypocrisy: A curious liking for asbestos
The Economist: Asbestos risks have not stopped Canada from exporting large quantities of the mineral to developing countries, especially in Asia, nor discouraged the government from paying to promote its use abroad.
http://www.economist.com/displaystory.cfm?story_id=12480452


2008.09: World Call of Conscience to Prime Minister Harper
150 scientists and organizations signed a petititon to Prime Minister Harper to stop blocking the Rotterdam Convention by refusing to put chrysotile asbestos on the hazardous material list. The Canadian Rideau Institute on International Affairs' report, Exporting Harm, by Kathleen Ruff, pp. 26ff
http://www.rideauinstitute.ca/file-library/exportingharmweb.pdf

2008.05: Canada is the only developed nation still producing asbestos

Chrysotile asbestos called a deadly threat by the International Labour Organization, the World Health Organization, the International Association for Cancer Research and many more health agencies.

http://www.lib.uwo.ca/programs/generalbusiness/asbestos.html


2008.03.27: Asbestos banned in South Africa
South Africa mined crocidolite, amosite and chrysotile asbestos extensively from the late 1800s until 2001. South Africa joins more than 50 other countries that have banned asbestos. Final regulations prohibit the use, processing, manufacturing, and importing and exporting of any asbestos or asbestos-containing materials.
http://www.mg.co.za/articlepage.aspx?area=/breaking_news/breaking_news__national/&articleid=335617


2008.04.10: Stop Exporting Asbestos! An Indian Plea to Canadians

While the Canadian Government takes great care to ensure its own safety against the dangers of asbestos, you’ll probably never hear them make too big a fuss about it — what with Canada being a leading exporter of the patient killer — it just wouldn’t be economical to draw too much attention to it. Please read this appeal from India for Canadian's to eliminate the use and export of Canadian chrysotile to the global south.

http://intercontinentalcry.org/stop-exporting-asbestos-a-plea-to-canadians/


2007.12.17: No regulated conditions for asbestos use in developing countries like India
Ottawa Citizen: Most workers don’t wear masks on the job and companies don’t uphold labour standards. Most asbestos-related health problems in India go undocumented. Dr Joshi.
http://www.canada.com/ottawacitizen/news/story/html?is=e84067b8-1429-40a-b55f-0a0aca4da58&k=47051

2006.08.17: Asbestos lawsuits forced almost 80 US companies into bankruptcy

International Herald Tribune: To end the lawsuits, members of the U.S. Senate last year proposed creating an asbestos fund that would provide compensation to victims . The Congressional Budget Office estimated that claims might total $150 billion in the next 50 yaars.

http://www.iht.com/articles/2006/07/16/bloomberg/bxname.php


2006.03.30: Australians call for stop to Canada’s export of asbestos
Selling asbestos is illegal in Canada. However the Canadian Government sees nothing wrong in continuing to produce asbestos and to export the killer fibre. Most of its exports go to developing countries. Please sign the petition to protest against the Canadian asbestos trade.

http://www.cfmeu-construction-nsw.com.au/tacanadianasbestos.htm

2005: Call for an International Ban on Asbestos

American Journal of Industrial Medicine 47:471-474 (2005). By the end of 2004 national asbestos bans are scheduled to be in place in all 25 member countries of the European Union as well as Chile, Argentina, El Salvador, Uruguay, Honduras, Australia, Gabon, Seychelles, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait. South Africa and Japan have also announced the intention to ban asbestos, and public health campaigns for asbestos bans have been under way since the 1990s in Brazil, South Korea, Vietnam, and India.
http://www.mesothel.com/asbestos-cancer/legislation/ban-asbestos/collegium.htm

2001: WTO - European Community rejects Canada's asbestos position

The Panel and the Appellate Body both rejected Canada’s challenge to France import ban on asbestos and asbestos-containing products, reinforcing the view that the WTO Agreements support members’ ability to protect human health and safety at the level of protection they deem appropriate.
http://www.wto.org/English/Tratop_E/envir_e/edis09_e.htm



2000: WTO backs French ban on Canada's asbestos goods.

The World Trade Organization, citing a large number of asbestos-related cancer deaths, has upheld a ban by France on Canadian asbestos. The asbestos industry in Quebec, which accounts for the employment of 2,500 workers, is valued at $224 million annually.

http://www.faqs.org/abstracts/News-opinion-and-commentary/WTO-backs-ban-on-Canadas-asbestos-goods-Asbestos-Corp-case-at-crucial-juncture.html

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Canada's Quebec health experts are "a little gang of Talibans", accuses Quebec's asbestos industry

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

November 25, 2009

Ban on asbestos mining leases not lifted as yet: Indian Minister of Mines


Canada's Quebec health experts are "a little gang of Talibans", accuses Quebec's asbestos industry

New Delhi/Ottawa: On November 24, 2009, Union Minister of Mines, B.K. Handique informed the Lok Sabha (Lower House of Indian Parliament) that an S&T Project titled ‘Study of Pollution level in Asbestos Mines and processing plants in Rajasthan’ was undertaken by Indian Bureau of Mines (IBM), a subordinate office of the Ministry. The Study recommended that subject to imposition of safeguards on pollution level in work environment, the ban imposed on grant and renewal of mining leases and expansion of mining may be lifted. In a written reply in the Lok Sabha, Handique said, recommendations of the Study have been examined in consultation with all stake holders. Some stake holders have suggested that asbestos mining can be permitted with appropriate safeguards. IBM in consultation with Central Pollution Control Board and Directorate General of Mines Safety has been asked to work out these safeguards which have not been finalized yet. At present the ban on grant/renewal of mining leases of asbestos has not been lifted. This might entail lifting of ban on mining of both chrysotile (white) and amphibole asbestos.

In 2008, Canada's $100-million asbestos industry exported 175,000 tonnes of chrysotile. Some of the biggest importers include India. Notably, The White Asbestos (Ban on Use and Import) Bill, 2009 introduced in the Indian parliament states, “The white asbestos is highly carcinogenic even the World Health Organisation has reported that it causes cancer. It is a rare fibrous material that is used to make rooftops and break linings. More than fifty countries have already banned the use and import of white asbestos. Even the countries that export it to India prefer not to use it domestically. But in our country, it is imported without any restriction. Canada and Russia are the biggest exporters of white asbestos. In 2007, Canada exported almost Ninety five percent of the white asbestos it mined and out of it forty-three percent was shipped to India. It is quite surprising that our country is openly importing huge quantity of a product, which causes cancer. This is despite the fact that safer and almost cheap alternatives to asbestos are available in the country. Instead of importing a hazardous material, it will be better if we spend some money in research and development and use environment friendly product. In view of the above, there is an urgent need for a total ban on the import and use of white asbestos and promote the use of alternative material.”

Medical experts working for the Canada's provincial Quebec government's National Public Health Institute (INSPQ) are "a little gang of Talibans", charges Bernard Coulombe, president of the Jeffrey asbestos mine, located in the town of Asbestos, Quebec.

Coulombe is hoping to sign a deal with investors to open up a new underground asbestos mine in Asbestos, Quebec in 2010. The present open-pit Jeffrey mine has run out of asbestos and is no longer operating. The underground mine is 90% complete.and would tap into a large new asbestos deposit, thus giving the industry a new 50-year lease on life.

The INSPQ opposes its own government's policy of increased use of chrysotile asbestos (the only form of asbestos sold commercially in the world today), citing increasing numbers of asbestos-related deaths in Quebec, particularly among construction workers. Coulombe claims that chrysotile asbestos can be safely used and that it has caused no harm to workers in Quebec since 1970. The INSPQ dismisses this view as lacking any scientific credibility, thereby jeopardizing new investment and attracting the ire of Coulombe.

The asbestos industry has not attacked the Canadian Medical Association, the Canadian Cancer Society, the World Health Organisation, the Canadian Labour Congress, who have all said that chrysotile asbestos must be banned. Instead, the industry has targetted Quebec public servants, who are unable to defend themselves and are vulnerable to political pressure from their employer.

Gopal Krishna of Ban Asbestos Network of India (BANI), a coalition of environmental health, labour and human rights groups notes that Indian government needs to recognize that this is a major health crisis in India which is ongoing and still increasing in numbers every year. Workers and consumers in India are dying from asbestos-related diseases that were exposed anywhere from, say, 15 to 30 or 40 years ago and all Indians are being exposed daily in face of total absence of enviro-occupational health infrastructure.

"One of the favourite tactics of the asbestos industry is misinformation and bullying; these make a toxic combination," said Dr Fernand Turcotte, Professeur Emeritus of Public Health at the Faculty of Medicine, Université Laval.

Fifteen health professionals , who work for Quebec public health agencies and/or are professors from the University of Montreal, Laval University and Sherbrooke University, recently issued a public statement challenging the misinformation put out by the asbestos industry and calling for an end to the mining, use and export of asbestos.

"People across Canada and around the world, who are trying to end the tragedy of asbestos-caused disease and death, owe a big debt of gratitude to the courage and integrity of Quebec's health professionals for blowing the whistle on the asbestos industry," said John Bennett, Executive Director, Sierra Club Canada.

"It is incomprehensible that Quebec's Premier Charest and Prime Minister Harper are supporting the dangerous nonsense put forward by the asbestos industry and rejecting credible scientific organisations, such as the Canadian Medical Association, the Canadian Cancer Society and the World Health Organisation, who have all called for asbestos to be banned," said Dr Kapil Khatter, President of the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment.

"We are calling on Premier Charest and PM Harper to do the right thing and put public health ahead of self-serving political games," said Kathleen Ruff, senior human rights advisor for the Rideau Institute.

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

Gopal Krishna, 9818089660, krishnagreen@gmail.com

Dr Kapil Khatter, (613) 864-9591, kapil1@sympatico.ca

John Bennett, (613) 291-6888, jb@sierraclub.ca

Dr Fernand Turcotte, (514) 389-1240, f.turcotte@videotron.ca

Kathleen Ruff, (250) 847-1848, kruff@bulkley.net
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[1] Le Soleil, le 18 novembre 2009 http://www.cyberpresse.ca/le-soleil/affaires/actualite-economique/200911/17/01-922620-amiante-une-politique-sans-suivi.php

[2] La Presse, le 16 septembre 2009 http://www.cyberpresse.ca/opinions/forums/200909/16/01-902224-cessons-le-mensonge.php

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Ban on asbestos mining leases not lifted as yet:B.K. Handique, Mines Minister

Indian Bureau of Mines (IBM) study on asbestos mining
15:13 IST
LOK SABHA
November 24, 2009

The Minister of Mines and Minister of Development of North Eastern Region Shri B.K. Handique has said that an S&T Project titled ‘Study of Pollution level in Asbestos Mines and processing plants in Rajasthan’ was undertaken by Indian Bureau of Mines (IBM), a subordinate office of the Ministry. The Study recommended that subject to imposition of safeguards on pollution level in work environment, the ban imposed on grant and renewal of mining leases and expansion of mining may be lifted.

In a written reply in the Lok Sabha today he said, recommendations of the Study have been examined in consultation with all stake holders. Some stake holders have suggested that asbestos mining can be permitted with appropriate safeguards. IBM in consultation with Central Pollution Control Board and Directorate General of Mines Safety has been asked to work out these safeguards which have not been finalized yet. At present the ban on grant/renewal of mining leases of asbestos has not been lifted.

Monday, November 23, 2009

UN headquarters to become asbestos free

Press Note

UN headquarters to become asbestos free

Indian Parliament, Courts, Govt buildings & media houses remain asbestos laden

BANI expresses grave concerns about the health & safety of Indian government officials, judges, parliamentarians & media persons

New Delhi-24/11/2009: The headquarters of the United Nations, based in New York City, will soon undergo a $2 billion extreme makeover. Plans for the massive overhaul of the UN campus involve removal of asbestos, a material once commonly used in a variety of building materials including fireproofing, tiles, and insulation. The work on the building will force some diplomats to relocate. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will move to a temporary structure. The UN's $2 billion renovation project is slated for completion in 2014. In order to show a leadership initiative for countries around the globe, the UN is making its buildings asbestos free.

Asbestos was used in 19th and 20th-century design of the buildings, its high time developning countries like India too stepped in the era of 21st century asbestos free design.

Exposure to asbestos is now known to be a contributing factor to the development of mesothelioma a rare form of cancer that affects thousands worldwide each year. Mesothelioma symptoms may not become apparent until many decades after a person has been exposed to asbestos.

Many mesothelioma patients lose their battle with mesothelioma only months after being diagnosed, with the majority of patients succumbing within 24 months of being diagnosed. Exposure to asbestos can also lead to lung cancer, pleural plaques, and asbestosis.

Earlier, President of the U.N. staff union, Stephen Kisambira had called a rare news conference to express concerns on behalf of U.N. workers that the asbestos abatement will not be carried out safely and effectively.

The matter is complicated even further because the UN, which is technically not United States territory despite its location in New York, has special legal status. This status would prevent workers or residents from bringing lawsuits against the contractors working on the abatement. If anyone contracts a asbestos realted disease which they believe is directly related to the renovation, they will be allowed to pursue arbitration but not litigation.

United Nations spokesperson Farhaq Haq has given an assurance that the abatement will be performed safely saying, “We will have another independent group that will monitor how the abatement process is carried out”. Architect Michael Adlerstein added that ATC Associates, an independent environmental engineering, health and safety specialist, will be “taking air samples several times a day at prescribed locations inside and outside the work area.”

Ban Asbestos Network of India (BANI) is deeply concerned about the health and safety of Indian government officials, judges,the parliamentarians and media persons who work and live in asbestos laden buildings. It is about time steps are taken to make their work and and residential places as safe as UN headquarters. BANI has witnessed asbestos structures in the premises of the Indian Supreme Court as well.

About Ban Asbestos Network of India

Ban Asbestos Network of India (BANI) is engaged in responding to public health crisis due to mining, manufacturing, use, and import of all forms of asbestos including Chrysotile. As part of a global anti-toxic activists’ coalition, BANI is fighting to ensure asbestos free India. Asbestos is a commercial term for six fibrous minerals of which chrysotile (white asbestos), the fibrous form of serpentine, is the form of asbestos which is mostly used now. BANI was founded by public health and environmental health researchers and activists in 2002. For more information visit banasbestosindia.blogspot.com

For Details: Gopal Krishna, BANI, Mb: 9818089660, E-mail: krishnagreen@gmail.com

Friday, November 20, 2009

Civil society groups welcome the Bill to make India Asbestos Free


Press Release

The White Asbestos (Ban on Use and Import) Bill, 2009 in Rajya Sabha

Misinformation Campaign of “Safe & Controlled use” of asbestos condemned


New Delhi-20/11/2009: In the face massive asbestos exposure underway in India, recent ban on asbestos laden US ship, The White Asbestos (Ban on Use and Import) Bill, 2009 introduced in Rajya Sabha and the ban asbestos order of the Kerala State Human Rights Commission, environment, labour, human rights and health groups appeal to the Prime Minister and to all the parliamentarians to ensure that manufacture, use and trade of asbestos is banned in India.

There is incontrovertible evidence that creates a compelling logic for making India asbestos free to prevent an avoidable public health disaster facing our countrymen.

Advertisements in newspapers like The Times of India (20/11/2009) and news channels cannot hide the barbarism of the the asbestos industry. No amount of propaganda and public relations campaign can transform a poisonous and cancerous material like White Asbestos (chrysotile) into a non-poisonous material.

Almost every international health agency of repute including the World Health Organization, the International Labor Organization, International Agency for Research on Cancer, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, and the American Cancer Society agree there is no safe level of asbestos exposure. Even the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) reconfirmed that all commercial asbestos fibers - including chrysotile, the most commercially used form of asbestos - cause lung cancer and mesothelioma. In addition, the IARC newly confirmed that there is sufficient evidence that asbestos causes ovarian cancer and reconfirmed asbestos causes laryngeal cancer.

The industry is acting as merchants of death even as workers and consumers are routinely being exposed to deadly asbestos fibers. Notably, worker protections and enviro-occupational health infrastructure are weak or non-existent in our country. The silence of the government in the face of workers and consumers who are sick and dying from asbestos-caused cancer is deafening. The parliament must act to stop the government from protecting the corporate criminals of the asbestos industry who are hiding behind manifest immoral patronage of the government.

The statement of objects and reasons of The White Asbestos (Ban on Use and Import) Bill, 2009 introduced in the parliament reads: “The white asbestos is highly carcinogenic even the World Health Organisation has reported that it causes cancer. It is a rare fibrous material that is used to make rooftops and break linings. More than fifty countries have already banned the use and import of white asbestos. Even the countries that export it to India prefer not to use it domestically. But in our country, it is imported without any restriction. Canada and Russia are the biggest exporters of white asbestos. In 2007, Canada exported almost Ninety five percent of the white asbestos it mined and out of it forty-three percent was shipped to India. It is quite surprising that our country is openly importing huge quantity of a product, which causes cancer. This is despite the fact that safer and almost cheap alternatives to asbestos are available in the country. Instead of importing a hazardous material, it will be better if we spend some money in research and development and use environment friendly product. In view of the above, there is an urgent need for a total ban on the import and use of white asbestos and promote the use of alternative material.”

Taking cognizance of the human rights violation involved in exposing people to killer asbestos fibers, Kerala State Human Rights Commission has noted that exposing consumers to asbestos fibers of all kinds including chrysotile constitutes violation of human rights in its order dated 31st January, 2009.

Civil society groups have consistently been drawing the urgent attention of the governments towards a serious unprecedented environmental and occupational health crisis with regard to unnoticed asbestos epidemic in the country.
Even if one asbestos fibre reaches the right place, it causes irreversible damage - leading to asbestosis, lung cancer or mesothelioma.

Thirty deaths are caused per day from asbestos-related diseases as per estimates based on US and European studies.

In such a context, Indian, Russian and Canadian government’s role in preventing the listing of chrysotile asbestos as a hazardous product under the Rotterdam Convention, an International Agreement that requires that importing countries be warned of the risks associated with hazardous products is condemnable. It is unconscionable that Canadian government knowingly exports a killer product that will kill thousands of people in India with the consent of the Indian government. As long as Indian, Russian and Canadian government continues to support, they would be and they must be deemed as one of the biggest violators of human rights on earth and unfit to be part of the rest of the civilized countries who have banned asbestos industry.

Human rights, environmental, public health and labour groups are shocked to note that instead of banning asbestos, the Canadian government uses tax-payers dollars and Canadian embassies to actively promote the sale of asbestos around the world. Working in tandem with the asbestos producing countries, Indian government has been making the asbestos products artificially cheaper to the detriment of its owns citizens.

Indian and the Canadian government must resist corporate influence of the chrysotile (white) asbestos industry and support the listing of chrysotile asbestos as a hazardous product under the UN's Rotterdam Convention as a first step at the next meeting of the Parties to the Rotterdam Convention. And as a next step, initiate efforts to ban its mining, manufacturing and its trade.

About Ban Asbestos Network of India
Ban Asbestos Network of India (BANI) is engaged in responding to public health crisis due to mining, manufacturing, use, and import of all forms of asbestos including Chrysotile. As part of a global anti-toxic activists’ coalition, BANI is fighting to ensure asbestos free ship-breaking. Asbestos is a commercial term for six fibrous minerals of which chrysotile (white asbestos), the fibrous form of serpentine, is the form of asbestos which is mostly used now. BANI was founded by public health and environmental health researchers and activists in 2002. For more information visit banasbestosindia.blogspot.com

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Chrysotile Asbestos killing people like old 'landmines'

Note: While in India, there appears to be a political consensus in adopting an Ostrich policy, Canada's ruling Conservative party and its Prime Minister Stephen Harper is defending the corporate crimnes of asbestos industry.
Asbestos killing more Canadians than ever; like old 'landmines'

The Canadian Press

An aggressive cancer linked to asbestos is killing more Canadians than ever before, even decades after the end of a boom that saw buildings stuffed with the toxic substance.

The number of reported new cases annually of mesothelioma shot up 67 per cent over a decade and a half -- from 276 across the country to 461 -- according to the most recent federal figures.

Experts warn that the upward trend will continue for years as Canada feels the residual impact of its asbestos boom, and will likely be far worse in developing countries that still heavily use Canadian exports.

Most people diagnosed with mesothelioma have only six months to two years to live.

In British Columbia, deaths from asbestos-related diseases have increased as much as 69 per cent between 2002 and this year, according to the provincial workers' compensation board.

Over that same period in Quebec, where asbestos is still mined, the death rate climbed 39 per cent.

Mesothelioma, a cancer that is difficult to treat, is linked to past asbestos exposure in more than 80 per cent of cases.

It killed 32 per cent more Canadians in 2005 than in 2000, according to the most recent national figures available from Statistics Canada.

And these numbers may only tell part of the story, as many health experts believe the death toll could be much higher.

Hailed the "magic mineral" for its excellent insulating and fireproof properties, asbestos was widely used in Canada in the 1950s, '60s and '70s.

But studies linked the material to health risks, including cancer, and it was eventually labelled a hazardous substance.

Kathleen Ruff, the former director of the B.C. Human Rights Commission, says most Canadians mistakenly believe asbestos is a health issue from the past.

She cites the numbers as proof that it's more present than ever before.

"It's like landmines -- it goes on killing for decades and decades," she said in a phone interview from Smithers, B.C.

"We need to recognize that this is a major health crisis in Canada that's ongoing and still increasing (in) numbers every year."

The effects often strike retirees long after they've inhaled the sharp, needle-like asbestos fibres.

In many cases, victims never even know they've come into contact with it.

It usually takes up to 40 years for diseases linked to asbestos exposure -- such as mesothelioma, asbestiosis and other lung cancers -- to emerge.

Over several decades, the illnesses have remained dormant inside many unsuspecting Canadians.

And for many, the latency period is now expired.

"What you have now are people dying from asbestos-related diseases that were exposed anywhere from, say, 15 to 30 or 40 years ago," said Larry Stoffman, an occupational health expert with the United Food and Commercial Workers Union.

Stoffman expects the number of deaths across Canada to keep rising every year for the next five to 10 years -- until, finally, the number of cases reaches a plateau.

The long-term trend may be more severe in poorer countries.

In 2008, Canada's $100-million asbestos industry exported 175,000 tonnes of chrysotile -- almost all of it to developing nations. Some of the biggest importers include India, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.

"They're going to have just huge problems going forward," Stoffman said.

Due to health risks, asbestos is no longer used in Canada, but one variety of the substance -- called chrysotile -- is still mined in Thetford Mines, Que.

Ottawa has spent about $20 million since the mid-1980s to promote asbestos use. It maintains that chrysotile is "less potent" than other types of asbestos and insists that it is not dangerous when precautions are taken.

But the World Health Organization estimates that asbestos, regardless of the type, causes 90,000 preventable deaths each year around the world.

"It's like mentholated cigarettes were good tobacco versus the bad ones," Stoffman said of claims that chrysotile asbestos is safe.

"It really just repeats the kind of almost pathetic promotion of a product that the tobacco industry's well known for."

There is little political appetite to discuss the issue in Canada.

The Bloc Quebecois and the Conservatives, which represent the riding that encompasses Thetford Mines, support the asbestos industry. While in decline, the industry still employs several hundred people.

The New Democrats oppose Canada's asbestos business and Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff earlier this year declared that the country should stop exporting the material.

That remark prompted a local Liberal candidate to resign.

"It's bizarre, (Quebec) is about the only place in the world, outside of maybe Kazakhstan and parts of Russia, where people actually think this stuff is OK," Stoffman said.

Within Canada, statistics from Quebec's workplace safety board show that asbestos-related diseases are the top occupational health hazard in the province.

Over the first seven months of 2009, illnesses related to asbestos exposure were responsible for 61 of the 104 reported occupational deaths in Quebec.

And the number of deaths tied to asbestos could be much higher.

An epidemiologist with Quebec's public health department says numerous cases are never reported because many workers suffering from these illnesses never bother to seek compensation from workplace safety associations.

Those suffering from mesothelioma, who often have only months to left to live, consider monetary compensation a low priority, said Louise De Guire.

She said miners aren't the only ones at risk of developing these diseases.

The number of cases affecting construction workers has increased while those in the mining sector have stabilized, she said.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

BANI Seeks Ban on White Asbestos Export from Canadian Prime Minister

Press Release

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

For Asbestos free India, BANI Demands immediate ban on export, import & use of white asbestos

BANI Seeks Ban on White Asbestos Export from Canadian Prime Minister

The White Asbestos (Ban on Use and Import) Bill, 2009 introduced in Rajya Sabha (Upper House of Parliament)

November 17, 2009, New Delhi –In the face massive asbestos exposure underway in India, The White Asbestos (Ban on Use and Import) Bill, 2009 introduced in Rajya Sabha (Upper House of Indian Parliament) and the order of the Kerala State Human Rights Commission, Ban Asbestos Network of India (BANI) appeals to the visiting Canadian Prime Minister, Mr Stephen Harper to put a ban on export of Canadian asbestos to India. He must act with effect to ban the asbestos mines in Quebec, the province where chrysotile asbestos (white asbestos) is mined in Canada.

It is unbecoming of Canadian to defend the asbestos industry and its barbarism unmindful of the fact that over 90% of Canada's asbestos goes to developing countries like India, where worker protections and enviro-occupational health infrastructure are weak or non-existent. The silence of Canadian government in the face of workers and consumers who are sick and dying from asbestos-caused cancer is deafening. Canadian government must stop protecting the corporate criminals of the asbestos industry who are hiding behind manifest immoral patronage of your government.

The STATEMENT OF OBJECTS AND REASONS of The White Asbestos (Ban on Use and Import) Bill, 2009 introduced in the Indian Parliament reads: “The white asbestos is highly carcinogenic even the World Health Organisation has reported that it causes cancer. It is a rare fibrous material that is used to make rooftops and break linings. More than fifty countries have already banned the use and import of white asbestos. Even the countries that export it to India prefer not to use it domestically. But in our country, it is imported without any restriction. Canada and Russia are the biggest exporters of white asbestos. In 2007, Canada exported almost Ninety five percent of the white asbestos it mined and out of it forty-three percent was shipped to India. It is quite surprising that our country is openly importing huge quantity of a product, which causes cancer. This is despite the fact that safer and almost cheap alternatives to asbestos are available in the country. Instead of importing a hazardous material, it will be better if we spend some money in research and development and use environment friendly product. In view of the above, there is an urgent need for a total ban on the import and use of white asbestos and promote the use of alternative material.”

Taking cognizance of the human rights violation involved in exposing people to killer asbestos fibers, Kerala State Human Rights Commission has noted that exposing workers and consumers to asbestos fibers of all kinds including chrysotile constitutes violation of human rights in its order dated 31st January, 2009. BANI has consistently been drawing the urgent attention towards a serious unprecedented environmental and occupational health crisis with regard to unnoticed asbestos epidemic in the country. Even if one asbestos fibre reaches the right place, it causes irreversible damage - leading to asbestosis, lung cancer or mesothelioma. Thirty deaths are caused per day from asbestos-related diseases as per estimates based on US and European studies.

In such a context, Canadian government’s role in preventing the listing of chrysotile asbestos as a hazardous product under the Rotterdam Convention, an International Agreement that requires that importing countries be warned of the risks associated with hazardous products is condemnable. It is unconscionable that Canadian government knowingly exports a killer product that will kill thousands of people in India. As long as Canadian government continues to support, it would be and it must be deemed as one of the biggest violators of human rights on earth and unfit to be part of the rest of the civilized countries who have banned asbestos industry.

There is incontrovertible evidence that creates a compelling logic for making India asbestos free. The asbestos exporting countries in liaison with the Indian asbestos industry in collusion with government has unleashed a misinformation campaign about the mythical safe and controlled use of asbestos products, unmindful of the fact that so far some 50 countries have banned all forms of asbestos, and are already using alternative materials.

Almost every international health agency of repute including the World Health Organization, the International Labor Organization, International Agency for Research on Cancer, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, and the American Cancer Society agree there is no safe level of asbestos exposure. Most recently, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) reconfirmed that all commercial asbestos fibers - including chrysotile, the most commercially used form of asbestos - cause lung cancer and mesothelioma. In addition, the IARC newly confirmed that there is sufficient evidence that asbestos causes ovarian cancer and reconfirmed asbestos causes laryngeal cancer.

BANI calls upon the Indian Ministry of Health, Ministry of Environment, Ministry of Commerce, Ministry of Labour, Ministry of Consumer Affairs and Ministry of Mines as well to initiate steps for immediate ban on use, manufacture and trade of all forms of asbestos (including Chrysotile or White Asbestos).

BANI is shocked to note that instead of banning asbestos, the Canadian government uses tax-payers dollars and Canadian embassies to actively promote the sale of asbestos around the world.

BANI appeals to Mr Stephen Harper to resist corporate influence of the chrysotile (white) asbestos industry and support the listing of chrysotile asbestos as a hazardous product under the Rotterdam Convention as a first step at the next meeting of the Parties to the Rotterdam Convention. And as a next step, initiate efforts to ban its mining and export for good.

About Ban Asbestos Network of India
Ban Asbestos Network of India (BANI) is engaged in responding to public health crisis due to mining, manufacturing, use, and import of all forms of asbestos including Chrysotile. As part of a global anti-toxic activists’ coalition, BANI is fighting to ensure asbestos free ship-breaking. Asbestos is a commercial term for six fibrous minerals of which chrysotile (white asbestos), the fibrous form of serpentine, is the form of asbestos which is mostly used now. BANI was founded by public health and environmental health researchers and activists in 2002. For more information visit banasbestosindia.blogspot.com

For further details: Gopal Krishna, Ban Asbestos Network of India (BANI), Mb:09818089660, E-mail: krishnagreen@gmail.com, banasbestos@yahoo.com

THE WHITE ASBESTOS (BAN ON USE AND IMPORT) BILL, 2009

THE WHITE ASBESTOS (BAN ON USE AND IMPORT) BILL, 2009
A
BILL
to provide for a total ban on use and import of white asbestos in the country and to promote
the use of safer and cheaper alternative to white asbestos and for matters connected
therewith and incidental thereto.
BE it enacted by Parliament in the Sixtieth Year of the Republic of India as follows:—
1. (1) This Act may be called the White Asbestos (Ban on Use and Import) Act, 2009. Short title
and
(2) It shall come into force with immediate effect. commencent.
2. In this Act, unless the context otherwise requires,— Definitions.
(a) ‘‘appropriate day’’ means the day fixed by the Central Government to ban
the use and import of white asbestos which shall be within one month of the coming
into force of this Act;
2
(b) ‘‘prescribed’’ means prescribed by rules made under this Act.
3. Whereas the object of the Act is such as to provide for a ban on use and import of
Declaration of
ban on use and white asbestos, which is a fibrous mineral and has been reported to be highly carcinogenic,
import of
it is hereby declared that the Act propose for the ban on the use and import of white
white asbestos
asbestos is in the public interest.
in the public
interest.
4. (1) On and from the appointed day, there shall be a ban on the use and import of
Ban on use
and imports white asbestos;
of white
asbestos. (2) Whoever imports or uses white asbestos after the appointed day shall be guilty of
violating the provisions of this Act.
5. Whoever found guilty of violating the provisions of this Act shall be punished
Penalty.
with imprisonment, which may extend to three years or with fine, which may extend to
rupees two lakh or with both.
6. (1) Where a person committing a contravention of any of the provisions of this Act
Offences by
Companies. or of any rule, direction or order made thereunder is a company, every person who, at the
time the contravention was committed, was in charge of, and was responsible to, the com-
pany for the conduct of business of the company as well as the company, shall be guilty of
the contravention and shall be liable to be proceeded against and punished accordingly:
Provided that nothing contained in this sub-section shall render any such
person liable to punishment, if he proves that the contravention took place without
his knowledge or that he exercised all due diligence to prevent such contravention.
(2) Notwithstanding anything contined in sub-section (1), where a contravention of
any of the provisions of this Act or of any rule, direction or order made thereunder has been
committed by a company and it is proved that the contravention has taken place with the
consent or connivance of, or is attributable to any neglect on the part of, any Director,
Manager, Secretary or other Officer of the company such Director, Manager, Secretary or
other Officer shall also be deemed to be guilty of the contravention and shall be liable to be
proceeded against and punished accordingly.
Explanation.— For the purpose of this section:—
(i) ‘‘company’’ means anybody corporate and include a firm or other associa-
tion of individuals; and
(ii) ‘‘director’’, in relation to a firm, means a partner in the firm.
7. The Central Government shall promote and encourage the use of safer and cheaper
Central
Government alternative to white asbestos and provide sufficient fund for research and development in
to Provide
the field in such manner as may be prescribed.
safer and
cheaper
alternative to
white
asbestos.
8. If any difficulty arise in giving effect to the provisions of this Act, the Central
Power to
remove Government may, by order published in the Official Gazette make such provisions, not
difficulties.
inconsistent with the provisions of this Act as appears to it to be necessary or expedient for
removing the difficulty:
Provided that no such orders shall be made after the expiry of the period of three
years from the date of commencement of this Act.
9. The provisions of this Act shall have effect notwithstanding anything inconsistent
Act to have
overriding therewith contained in any other law for the time being in force relating to use and import of
effect.
white asbestos.
3
10. The Central Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette, make rules for Power to
make rules.
carrying out the purposes of this Act.
STATEMENT OF OBJECTS AND REASONS
The white asbestos is highly carcinogenic even the World Health Organisation has
reported that it causes cancer. It is a rare fibrous material that is used to make rooftops and
break linings. More than fifty countries have already banned the use and import of white
asbestos. Even the countries that export it to India prefer not to use it domestically. But in
our country, it is imported without any restriction. Canada and Russia are the biggest
exporters of white asbestos. In 2007, Canada exported almost Ninety five percent of the
white asbestos it mined and out of it forty-three percent was shipped to India. It is quite
surprising that our country is openly importing huge quantity of a product, which causes
cancer. This is despite the fact that safer and almost cheap alternatives to asbestos are
available in the country. Instead of importing a hazardous material, it will be better if we
spend some money in research and development and use environment friendly product. In
view of the above, there is an urgent need for a total ban on the import and use of white
asbestos and promote the use of alternative material.
Hence this Bill.
VIJAY JAWAHARLAL DARDA
4
FINANCIAL MEMORANDUM
Clause 7 of the Bill provides that the Central Government shall provide funds for
research and development for alternative products to white asbestos. The Bill, if enacted,
would involve expenditure from the Consolidated Fund of India. It is estimated that a
recurring expenditure of rupees twenty crore would be involved from the Consolidated
Fund of India.
A non-recurring expenditure of rupees five crore will also be involved.
5
MEMORANDUM REGARDING DELEGATED LEGISLATION
Clause 10 of the Bill empowers the Central Government to make rules for carrying out
the purposes of the Bill. As the matter will relate to details only, the delegation of legislative
powers is of normal character.
6
RAJYA SABHA
————
A
BILL
to provide for a total ban on use and import of white asbestos in the country and to
promote the use of safer and cheaper alternative to white asbestos and for matters
connected therewith and incidental thereto.
————
(Shri Vijay Jawaharlal Darda, M.P.)

Health experts warn government to drop asbestos

Deaths from asbestos still rising in Quebec

Hiding in the lungs of people for up to 40 years before they start developing symptoms, asbestos killed more Canadians this year than ever before.

According to a new report from the Alberta government, deaths from asbestos will continue to rise until they peak between 2015 and 2019.

Deaths from mesothelioma will plateau at 269 per year before beginning to slowly fall off, according to report. A substantial increase from the 127 mesothelioma deaths recorded over the 1980s.

“We have had the same results for the general population in Quebec,” said Louise De Guire, the director of biological, environmental and occupational risks for the Institut national de santé publique du Québec.

“We are in a mesothelioma epidemic right now,” she said. De Guire’s department estimated that cases will peak in Quebec in 2010.

“The rates of mesothelioma among men in Quebec has risen by 3.6 per cent annually between 1980 and 2002,” explained De Guire.

“Asbestos is the biggest killer of workers in Quebec, by far,” said Kathleen Ruff, a senior human rights advisor to the Rideau Institute. According to the Commission de la santé et de la sécurité du travail, nearly 60 per cent of worker deaths in Quebec so far in 2009 have been caused by asbestos-related diseases.

“From 1950 to 1970 there was a boom in construction in downtown Montreal. This was an era when asbestos was often used to insulate buildings and it was an era where the dangers were not well-known,” continued De Guire. “Nearly 50 per cent of people who ask for compensation from the CSST today were in the construction industry.

“The people who put asbestos in buildings in the 1970s are only showing their symptoms now.”

Asbestos miners represent only 30 per cent of mesothelioma deaths; an additional 10 per cent of cases are found in factory workers who used asbestos in products. The cost for the CSST, Quebec’s worker safety board, has already topped $66 million, which doesn’t include health care costs or the loss of work hours.

“[Asbestos is] not treated like a health issue in Canada, it’s a political issue and that is a huge tragedy,” said Ruff. “The Canadian government has betrayed public health to win a few votes in the asbestos mining region of Quebec.”

The Quebec government adopted a policy in 2002 that allowed for what it called the “safe use of asbestos.” This policy allowed for Quebec’s only existing asbestos project, in Thetford Mines, to continue exporting the fibrous material to the developing world.

“There were a series of newspaper articles that came from mining organizations at the time saying that the use of asbestos was not dangerous and that there was no asbestos problem in Quebec,” said De Guire. “We wrote a paper for [then-Minister of Health and Social Services Philippe Couillard] in 2005 to tell him that it was not a good idea to encourage the ‘safe’ use of asbestos in Quebec.”

After the report was written some positive steps were taken by the government, explained De Guire, including the removal of asbestos from all public buildings.

The Link, Concordia University, Montreal

by Justin Giovannetti


http://www.thelinknewspaper.ca/articles/1820

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Asbestos Notes

"REPORT OF THE TASK FORCE ON GREENING INDIA FOR LIVELIHOOD SECURITY AND SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT", PLANNING COMMISSION, GOVERNMENT OF INDIA, JULY-2001 notes, "Bamboo Mat Corrugated Sheet is a very high potential material for roofing as a substitute for Asbestos Cement Corrugated Sheets (ACCS), which are considered to be carcinogenic and have been banned in many countries. It promises to revolutionize roofing system in the country as also in several other counties." This 254 page report takes cognisance of the cancer causing nature of asbestos cement sheets at page no. 111.
The 16 member Task Force was headed by Dr.D.N.Tewari, who was member, Planning Commission. Other members of the Task Force were: Dr.N.C.Saxena, Secretary, Planning Commission, Secretary, Department of Land Resources, New Delhi, Dr.P.L. Sanjeev Reddy, Principal Adviser, Planning Commission, Dr. (Mrs.) Manju Sharma, Secretary, Deptt. of Biotechnology, Bhaskar Baruan, Secretary, Agriculture & Co-operation, Secretary, Ministry of Environment & Forests, N.K. Sinha, Secretary, Animal Husbandry & Dairy Development, Secretary, Ministry of Food Processing Industries, Devi Dayal, Special Secretary, Banking, C.P. Oberoi, Special Secretary & Inspector General,MoEF, Director General, ICAR, New Delhi, Director General, ICFRE, Dehradun , Mrs J. Khanna, Pr Adviser (E&F),Planning Commission, Dr. A.P. Dikshit, General Manager, AFC Mumbai and Dr P.S. Pathak, Director. IGFRI, Jhansi. Mrs J. Khanna was the member secretary of the Task Force.

Asbestos is currently found in three states only- Andhra Pradesh, Jharkhand and Rajasthan. While Andhra Pradesh has the Chrysolite variety of asbestos, Rajasthan produces the Amphibolite variety.

The ban on mining of asbestos was imposed in phases in 1986 and 1993 but not on its use, manufacture, export and import. But despite the ban on mining, illegal mines are operating in Jharkhand, Rajasthan and Andhra Pradesh. Most asbestos-cement is using imported asbestos, but some of it is being sourced from the illegal mining though that is a relatively small proportion.

While the whole world is banning asbestos, Visaka Asbestos Industries is setting up new asbestos cement plant in Orissa. It is setting up a 100,000-tonne capacity asbestos cement sheet plant at Sambalpur in Orissa at an estimated cost of Rs 400 million to meet the rural demand, according to vice-chairman G Vivekanand. This apart, the company is ramping up the capacity of its Pune plant from 65,000 tonne to 100,000 tonne with Rs 150 million investment. This is expected to be ready in a year.

Rajasthan has 54 per cent of India’s asbestos resources. It has five to six operational mines. In the absence of formal lifting of ban on mining of asbestos, mining operations are on hold.
Rajasthan has approached the Centre against the ban on granting lease to asbestos mines in the state. The state's plea for granting lease to mining of asbestos is based on a study underaken by Indian Bureau of Mines that recommends lifting of the ban on mining of chrysotile asbestos.

In a proposal, the directorate of mines argues that on May 26, 1997, nine years after ministry of steel, mines and coal had issued directives for a ban on renewal or granting of new leases for mining asbestos, a fresh study was conducted on the impact of environment due to asbestos mining.

The mines department, quoting the Indian Bureau of Mines, which conducted the study, said that there was no adverse effect on environment or on the health of workers due to asbestos mining in Rajasthan.

The report also mentions that all safety measures like sprinkling of water, wet drilling, use of dust masks along with a periodic health check up of workers are done in the state. The report adds that despite the fact that asbestos is being mined in Rajasthan since the past 40 years, no report of illness has been reported from any of its workers.

Moreover, the proposal says that in a meeting held on January 22, 2007, the joint secretary, mines had advocated the lifting of ban on the Chrysolite variety of asbestos found in Andhra following which the additional director had opined on lifting of the ban on the Amphibolite variety too.

The state has also argued that the lifting of the ban would not only generate employment but will also bring in revenue for the state government.

Studies have shown that asbestos mining has deleterious effect on the health of workers and exposes them to diseases like asbestosis which can cause death.

In fact, it was in view of the adverse effects of asbestos mining on the health of the workers that the Central government directed the state governments in 1986 not to grant any new mining lease for asbestos (including chrysotile variety) in the country. In June 1993, the central government stopped the renewal of existing mining leases of asbestos.


ASBESTOS IN RAJYA SABHA


Question asked in Rajya Sabha on 13/05/2005 by SHRI EKANATH K. THAKUR
Relevant to ENVIRONMENT AND FORESTS
Subject: SHIP FOR SCRAP CARRYING CARCINOGENIC ASBESTOS INSULATION

Will the Minister of ENVIRONMENT AND FORESTS be pleased to state:-

(a) whether it is a fact that the Danish Government have alerted India about a toxic ship-for-scrap carrying carcinogenic asbestos insulation headed for Alang yard in Gujarat;

(b) whether it is also a fact that the Danish Government have requested Indian Government to declare the ship as illegal traffic and refuse to allow it to be dumped in India; and

(c) if so, the action proposed?

ANSWERED BY NAMO NARAIN MEENA, STAE ENVIRONMENT MINISTER

OVERNMENT OF INDIA MINISTRY OF HEALTH AND FAMILY WELFARE UNSTARRED QUESTION NO 1840 ANSWERED ON 11.08.2006 ASBETOS RELATED DISEASES 1840.

SHRI PENUMALLI MADHU: Will the Minister of HEALTH AND FAMILY WELFARE be pleased to state:

(a) whether the Government are aware of the recent finding of epidemiological study on asbestos related diseases conducted in Quebec, Canada; (b) the total number of asbestos manufacturing units in India with State-wise figures;

(c) whether Government would undertake a study to find out the prevalence of asbestosis and mesothelioma, the dreaded diseases caused by asbestos particles in the air;

(d) if so, the details thereof; and

(e) if not, the reasons therefor?

ANSWER MINISTER OF HEALTH AND FAMILY WELFARE (DR. ANBUMANI RAMADOSS)
(a): According to Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), a book ‘Asbestos: Selected Cancers’ (2006) has been published by Board on Population Health and Public Health Practice, wherein one of the chapters is devoted to description of epidemiological studies. This chapter refers to studies on Quebec Chrysotile Miners by McDonald et al 1997.

(b): The State-wise number of asbestos manufacturing units in India are detailed as under:

State Andhra Pradesh Assam Gujarat Haryana Jharkhand Karnataka Kerala Madhyha Pradesh Maharashtra Orissa Punjab Rajasthan Tamil Nadu U.P. UT of D& N West Bengal

No. of Units 3 1 1 1 1 1 1 2 6 1 1 1 4 3 1 3

(c) to (e): ICMR`s National Institute of Occupational Health (NIOH), Ahmedabad, is currently engaged in the following three studies related to asbestos:


i) Study of Health Hazards/Environmental hazards resulting from use of Chrysotile variety of asbestos in the country,

ii) Epidemiological study in ship breaking workers at Alang (Gujarat),

iii)Environmental-cum-epidemiological study in Chrysotile and tremolite illing/mining units in Pulivendla (A.P.) and Bhim (Rajasthan). These studies have been recently initiated and results are expected to be available in the next few years.

Rajya Sabha on 15/12/2008 by Prabha Thakur Relevant to Mines Subject: Health Hazardous in Asbestos

Will the Minister of MINES be pleased to state:-

(a) whether it is a fact that Indian Bureau of Mines has conducted a study on the effect on the health of labourers engaged in asbestos mining;

(b) if so, whether this study has made any suggestions;

(c) whether the study group has suggested doing away with the restrictions on asbestos mining;

(d) whether Government proposes to implement them;

(e) whether Government would lift the ban on new leases for asbestos mining and their renewal; and

(f) if so, by when?

Answered by Sis Ram Ola

OVERNMENT OF INDIA MINISTRY OF MINES RAJYA SABHA STARRED QUESTION NO 101 ANSWERED ON 31.07.2006 HEALTH HAZARDS OF ASBESTOS MINING 101.

DR. NARAYAN SINGH MANAKLAO SHRI HARISH RAWAT:
Will the Minister of MINES be pleased to state:

(a) whether it is a fact that Indian Bureau of Mines has conducted study on the health hazards of asbestos mines workers of Rajasthan;

(b) if so, the recommendations thereof;

(c) whether the study recommended for lifting of ban on asbestos leasing; and

(d) if so, the details of action taken/proposed to be taken to implement these recommendations including the time-frame for implementation?

ANSWER MINISTER OF MINES (SHRI SIS RAM OLA)

(a): Yes Sir.

(b) & (c): The study recommended that the ban imposed on grant and renewal of mining leases and expansion of mining may be lifted subject to control of pollution level in work environment of various operations and other remedial measures.

(d): The proposal of amending Regulation 124 of Metalliferous Mines Regulations, 1961 by way of reducing permissible limit of airborne respirable asbestos fibre dust from 2 to 0.1- 0.5 per millilitre of air is under consideration in consultation with Directorate General, Mines Safety (DGMS).

ASBESTOS IN LOK SABHA

GOVERNMENT OF INDIA MINISTRY OF ENVIRONMENT AND FORESTS LOK SABHA UNSTARRED QUESTION NO 768 TO BE ANSWERED ON 31.07.2006 ENVIRONMENTAL EFFECTS OF ASBESTOS 768.

SHRI MOHAN PONNUSWAMY

Will the Minister of ENVIRONMENT AND FORESTS be pleased to state:

(a) whether any epidemiological study on asbestos related diseases has been conducted recently; (b) if so, the details thereof;
and (c) the total number of asbestos manufacturing units in the country, State-wise?

ANSWER

MINISTER OF STATE IN THE MINISTRY OF ENVIRONMENT AND FORESTS (SHRI NAMO NARAIN MEENA) (a) to (c): The information is being collected and will be placed on the Table of the House.

EXHIBIT NO.53
PRESS NOTE NO.1 (1996 Series)
MANUFACTURE OF ASBESTOS & ASBESTOS BASED PRODUCTS
The Government had set up a Technical (iii) The BIS Standards prescribed for use of Committee to undertake a comprehensive study, asbestos under controlled and regulated
covering all aspects relating to asbestos and asbestos conditions, which are listed at Annexure1
based products. After examining the matter in depth, must be followed compulsorily by the
the Technical Committee has given its report to the Company;
Government. The Government, after considering the
(iv) The Company shall provide medical health
report, has accepted the recommendation of the
care facilities regularly at the workplace
Technical Committee.
and if cases of harmful effect of asbestos
2. Keeping in view the recommendations of the have been noticed on any worker,
Technical Committee, the Government has interalia necessary compensation shall be arranged
decided that the applications for the manufacture of under the existing laws; and
asbestos and asbestos based products, for the grant
(v) The Company shall adhere to all other
of LOI/IL shall be considered subject to the following
existing laws regarding safety of labourers,
conditions:
employment of child labour, Factories
(i) The Company shall obtain necessary Act, ptr
central environmental clearance before
3. In order to ensure speedy disposal of applications
converting LOI into licence, as stipulated
for grant of Letter of Intent/Industrial Licence, for
in GOI Notification No.S.0.60(E), dated
manufacture of asbestos and asbestosbased products
27th January, 1994 of Ministry of
and to obviate the need of back reference to the
Environment & Forests;
entrepreneurs, it has been decided that all applications
(ii) The discharge of asbestos fibre in the for grant of industrial license in the asbestos sector
factory premises shall be so controlled would be considered in the Approval Committee(s)
that it does not exceed the limit of 2 fibre/ only after these have been examined in depth by the
cc. Continuous measurement of its Administrative Ministry/ Desk concerned vyith respect
pollutants in the area may be taken and to the prescribed standards/safeguards as mentioned
record must be maintained. above.
F. No.10(6)/96-L.P. New Delhi, the 8th March, 1996.
Forwarded to Press Information Bureau for giving wide publicity to the contents of the above Press Note.
Sd/-
(Aditi S. Ray)
Deputy Economic Adviser
Principal Information Officer
Press Information Bureau
New Delhi.
120 Industrial Policy Highlights
EXHIBIT NO.53 (Contd.)
PRESS NOTE NO.1 (1996 Series)
MANUFACTURE OF ASBESTOS & ASBESTOS BASED PRODUCTS
ANNEX-I
LIST OF BIS STANDARDS
1. IS:11450-1986 Method for determination of airborne asbestos fibre concentration in work environment
by light microscopy (membrane filter method)
2. IS:11451-1986 Recommendations for safety and health requirements relating to occupational exposure
to asbestos.
3. IS:11767-1986 Recommendations for cleaning of premises and plants using asbestos fibres.
4. IS:11768-1986 Recommendations for disposal of asbestos waste material.
5. IS:11769 (Part-1)-1987 Guidelines for safe use of products containing asbestos : Asbestos Cement
products.
6. IS:11769 (Part-2)-1986 Guidelines for safe use of products containing asbestos : Friction material.
7. IS:11769 (Part-3)-1986 Guidelines for safe use of products containing asbestos : Non-cement asbestos
products other than friction material.
8. IS:11770 (Part 1)-1987 Recommendations for control of emission of asbestos dust in premises
manufacturing products containing asbestos dust in premises manufacturing products containing
asbestos : Asbestos Cement Products.
9. IS:11770 (Part 2)-1987 Recommendations for control of emission of asbestos dust in premises
manufacturing products containing asbestos : Friction materials.
10. IS:11770(Part 3)-1987 Recommendations for control of emission of asbestos dust in premises
manufacturing products containing asbestos : Non-cement asbestos products other than friction
material.
11. IS:12078-1987 Recommendatios for personal protection of workers engaged in handling asbestos.
12. IS:12079-1987 Recommendations for packaging transport and storage of asbestos.
13. IS:12080-1987 Recommendations for local exhaust ventilation systems in premises manufacturing
products containing asbestos.
14. IS:12081 (Part-1)-1987 Recommendations for pictorial warning signs and precautionary notices for
asbestos and products containing asbestos : Workplaces.
15. IS:12081 (Part 2)-1987 Recommendations for pictorial warning signs and precautionary notices for
asbestos and products containing asbestos : Asbestos and its products.
16. IS:12082 (Part 1)-1987 Recommendations for control of asbestos emission : Mining of asbestos ore.
121
CHAPTER - I
EXHIBIT NO.54
PRESS NOTE NO.2 (1996 Series)
MANUFACTURE OF CELLULOSE FIBRE CEMENT BASED ON ASBESTOS FREE AND NON-WOOD PULP MATERIAL
Meinoranda(IEM), it has been decided that the licensing
Subject: Exemption from obtaining Industrial
discipline, hence forth, would not apply to
Licence for the Manufacture of Cellulose
manufacture of "articles of cellulose fibre cement
Fibre Cement based on Asbestos free and
based on asbestos-free and nonwood pulp raw
non-wood pulp material.
material." The entrepreneurs, therefore, who intend
Under the New Industrial Policy announced on
to manufacture "articles of cellulose fibre
24th July, 1991, asbestos and asbestos based products
cement(asbestos free), not using wood pulp", under
had been retained under compulsory licensing. Articles
ITC Code 68.11 need not apply for Industrial License.
of asbestos cement and cellulose fibre cement have
They may now file an Industrial Entrepreneurs
a common ITC Code 68.11 included under
Memoranda(IEM) as prescribed in Para 6 of Press
compulsory licensing. Though manufacture of
Note NO.9(1991 Series) dated 2nd August, 1991,
asbestos is considered process hazardous, the same
with the Secretariat for Industrial Approvals(SIA) in
is not true of cellulose fibre cement as it is considered
the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion,
asbestos free.
and obtain the acknowledgement. The location of the
2. To simplify and streamline the Policy and undertaking will, of course, be subject to Local land
Procedure for filing Industrial Entrepreneur use and Zoning Laws and Regulations.
F. No.10(43)/91-LP New Delhi, the 31st July, 1996.
Forwarded to Press Information Bureau for giving wide publicity to the contents of the above Press Note.
Sd/-
(Aditi S. Ray)
Deputy Economic Adviser
Principal Information Officer
Press Information Bureau
New Delhi.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

India Bans Asbestos laden US ship

Jairam Ramesh, union environment minister of India has advised the Gujarat government and other agencies not to allow the beaching and dismantling of the controversial Platinum II ship at Alang.

An office memorandum sent from the Union ministry states that “In keeping with the Precautionary Principle, the ministry is of the view that granting permission for beaching and breaking purposes of the ship will not be advisable."

The memorandum said that "It has been brought to the notice of the ministry of environment and forests that the ship violated United States Toxic Substances Control Act and an order has been passed by the US Environment Protection Authority against the owners of the ship."

It also pointed out that there have also been allegations that the ship has been brought into India with a falsified flag and registry. It asked the Gujarat Maritime Board to look into the case of falsified ownership of the ship that had come under the scanner of the government and the civil society recently.

The ministry's decision came after the Gujarat Pollution Control Board had confirmed that the ship was laden with toxic materials. Consequent to the GPCB report, the Centre had sent its own team which reported that the ship did contain asbestos and cancer causing Poly Chlorinated Biphenyls though not in loose form but as part of the components in the ship. Documents had also surfaced showing that the ship had been brought in under false pretences to Indian waters and its ownership was not clear. Its Kiribati flag registration is thought to be false.

The Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization Applauds American Public Health Association's Call for Ban on Asbestos, Annual Warnings for Workers in High-Risk Occupations

ADAO & APHA Urge Congress to Pass Legislation Banning Asbestos

Note point 10 of their resolution. For once, we have to hope our government is influenced by the U.S.

"APHA urges the US Administration to use its diplomatic influence with Canada, Russia and other countries to stop their dangerous practice of exporting asbestos." APHA Resolution: http://preview.tinyurl.com/yehk53o

Philadelphia, PA ...November 11, 2009 --- The Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO) applauds the American Public Health Association (APHA), the largest and most diverse public health organization in the world. APHA adopted a resolution calling on Congress to pass legislation banning the manufacture, sale, export, or import of asbestos containing products including products in which asbestos is a contaminant. Asbestos, a known carcinogen, annually claims the lives of more than 10,000 Americans.

"With this new policy, APHA is joining the World Federation of Public Health Associations and other international organizations calling for a global ban on asbestos mining, and manufacturing, and the dangerous practice of exporting asbestos containing products," said Celeste Monforton, DrPH, MPH, Chair of APHA's Occupational Health and Safety section. "As the World Health Organization noted in 2006, the most efficient way to eliminate asbestos related diseases is to stop using all types of asbestos."

"ADAO applauds APHA for passage of the landmark Elimination of Asbestos Resolution," said Linda Reinstein, Executive Director and Co-founder of the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization. "APHA set a precedent with strong language aimed at preventing asbestos exposure to eliminate deadly diseases. Ambler, Pennsylvania - now a superfund site - is still plagued from asbestos piles left behind from the once profitable asbestos businesses. We can't let history repeat itself - it is time to ban asbestos and fund educational and research programs. APHA renews our optimism that a federal asbestos ban is eminent."
# # #

About the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO)
Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO) was founded by asbestos victims and their families in 2004. ADAO seeks to give asbestos victims and concerned citizens a united voice to help ensure that their rights are fairly represented and protected, while raising public awareness about the dangers of asbestos exposure and often deadly asbestos related diseases. ADAO is an independent volunteer organization. For more information visit www.asbestosdiseaseawareness.org


About the American Public Health Association (APHA)
Founded in 1872, the APHA is the oldest, largest and most diverse organization of public health professionals in the world. The association aims to protect all Americans and their communities from preventable, serious health threats and strives to assure community-based health promotion and disease prevention activities and preventive health services are universally accessible in the United States. APHA represents a broad array of health providers, educators, environmentalists, policy-makers and health officials at all levels working both within and outside governmental organizations and educational institutions. More information is available at www.apha.org



Media Contacts:
Doug Larkin
Director of Communications
Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO)
Phone: (202) 391-1546
doug@asbestosdiseaseawareness.org

Celeste Monforton, DrPH, MPH
Chair, Occupational Health & Safety Section
American Public Health Association
Phone: (202) 994-0774
celeste.monforton@gwumc.edu

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Unpardonable Pro-Asbestos Act of Ministry of MInes


To

Shri Bijoy Krishna Handique
Union Ministry of Mines
3rd Floor, A wing,
Shastri Bhawan,
New Delhi
Tel:91-11-23073233


Sir,

This is to draw your attention towards your Ministry's Press Release (No.3/1/2005-MVI) dated 17th August, 2009 wherein amphibole asbestos and chrysotile asbestos are mentioned implying that the ban on mining of these killer fibers which is banned in over 50 countries has been lifted unmindful of the toll it takes on human life.

The above press release of ministry of mines reiterates what Ban Asbestos Network of India (BANI) had noted on 13th April, 2008 based on its reading of the National Mineral Policy that India continues to use both Amphibole and Chrysotile varieties of Asbestos ignoring the toll it takes on national health. BANI is engaged in research, advocacy and awareness raising to ensure ban on manufacture, use, and import of all forms of asbestos. It seeks immediate legal and legislative remedy for asbestos victims in partnership with global efforts.

World over, asbestos-based multinational corporations are all in bankruptcy proceedings and/or shifting to other businesses but this policy shows how Indian government has adopted a considered Ostrich policy in face of indisputable evidence about the havoc from asbestos consumption. Unmindful of the ongoing to global momentum to ban this mineral, asbestos cancer epidemic in India is a story of monumental failure to protect the public health. The callousness that is manifest
in the National Mineral Policy towards occupational and public health is unpardonable.

BANI finds such governmental patronage to asbestos mining and manufacturing industry of all ilk quite alarming in view of its obstinate refusal of the government to prevent even preventable
cancers from this killer mineral fiber. This tantamounts to policymaking that is manifestly anti-national in character since it illustrates complete disregard for citizen's health. The government is pretending ignorance about the disturbing developments in countries like France where asbestos had been a "health catastrophe" as it is responsible for an estimated 2,000 deaths annually. In US, the death rate due to past expsoure to asbestos fibers is 10, 000 per annum.
Similar trends have been reported from Europe, Australia, Japan and other countries which have banned asbestos.

Clearly, besides asbestos product manufacturers like Visaka Industries, Hyderabad Industries Limited, Ramco Industries Limited, Utkal Industries Ltd, Everest Industries Ltd, New Sahyadri Industries Ltd, U P Asbestos Ltd, Tamil Nadu Cements Corporation Limited, Kerala Asbestos Cement pipe Factory Limited, and others, the Indian asbestos producers too have successful in their lobbying efforts in face of glaring human cost asbestos consumption in some 50 countries that have
banned asbestos.

Asbestos is one of the most pervasive environmental hazards in the world, present in more than 3,000 manufactured products. The asbestos cancer epidemic is largely preventable if the Ministry of Mines & Minerals, Commerce Ministry and Health Ministry act urgently, early and responsibly by acknowledging that in addition to other asbestos related diseases, 5-7% of all lung cancers can be attributed to occupational exposures to asbestos. All forms of asbestos including amphibole and chrysotile variety cause four health disorders.

Asbestos exposure affects not only asbestos workers but also their families, users of asbestos products, and the public as it is exposed to building materials and asbestos in heating and ventilating systems. In India, where protection of workers and communities is scant or nonexistent, the asbestos cancer epidemic may be even more devastating than it has been in developed countries like US, Europe, Australia, Japan & others. The battle against asbestos is in danger of being lost where the human costs may be greatest, in countries like India that is
desperate for industry.

According to a paper "Monitoring and identification of airborne asbestos in unorganized sectors, India" (Qamar Rahman et al Volume 68, Chemosphere journal), unorganized asbestos units particularly mills showed unhealthy occupational. In another recent paper in Environmental Health Perspectives, a US journal published by National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences notes that besides workers and consumers, "Family members of asbestos workers are at increased risk of malignant mesothelioma." Dr Qamar Rahman, a senior scientist formerly with ITRC, and Dean, Research & Development, Integral University, Lucknow who did the research says that on the basis of the report and recent studies conducted in the milling units, the ban on asbestos mining should not be lifted. Dr Rahman said in her comments to the central government on a report regarding lifting the ban on asbestos mining.

In choosing to lift the ban on asbestos mining it ignores sane suggestions in the same way as it has ignored the plight of victims of white asbestos mines in Roro Hills, Chaibasa, Jharkhand abandoned by Hyderabad Asbestos Cement Products Limited (now known as Hyderabad Industries Limited). It is noteworthy that Rajasthan produces asbestos in the country despite repeated statements in the parliament stating that asbestos mining remains banned in India so far. The asbestos that is mined is processed there in unorganized sectors including milling and manufacturing of asbestos-based products.

BANI condemns the decision of the Ministry of MInes to lift the existing ban on asbestos mining by ignoring the views of exposure victims, trade unions and citizen groups besides the informed
recommendations of public sector medical experts, and mounting evidence of an asbestos disease epidemic.

We appeal to you to reconsider your decision with regard to asbestos mining in public interest.

Yours Sincerely
Gopal Krishna
Ban Asbestos Network of India (BANI)
New Delhi
Mb: 9818089660
Skype id: witnesskrishna
E-mail: krishnagreen@gmail.com

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