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Asbestos hazard in California hills

In its most critical response yet, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has denounced as “seriously flawed” and deceptive a mining industry critique of the federal agency’s El Dorado Hills asbestos testing. The National Stone, Sand & Gravel Association’s review of the 2004 air tests on Community Park playgrounds and nearby schoolyards largely contradicted the agency’s findings of naturally occurring asbestos. The EPA found none of the criticisms valid, according to its 17-page response released this week. Overall, the industry’s evaluation runs afoul of “widely accepted scientific standards” for sampling and measuring asbestos in the environment, the agency report said. The point-by-point rebuttal also spotlights 10 instances where the industry consultant, R.J. Lee Group Inc. of Pittsburgh, omitted or mischaracterized key details when it said that its air tests “showed no significant exposure” to asbestos. “The R.J. Lee Group’s report misleads the public and muddles the message to the community,” said Daniel Meer, the EPA’s emergency response chief in San Francisco. Rich Lee, president of R.J. Lee Group, called Meer’s remarks “unfortunate.” He stood by his critique: “We used only generally accepted scientific procedures in our analysis and review.” At issue is a decades-old standoff between public health scientists and the mining industry over the definition of “asbestos,” a category of fibrous minerals. At stake for the mining industry are regulatory constraints on a bedrock industry, figuratively and literally, which supplies sand and gravel for the building and highway industries. For the EPA and other public health agencies, the misidentification of asbestos carries life-or-death consequences. Development in rapidly growing El Dorado Hills and other foothill communities has churned up asbestos...

Asbestos is still present in the workplace

In England, some 15 teachers a year are dying of asbestos related cancer. The UK Health and Safety Executive released figures stating that between 1991 and 2000 147 teachers died from the untreatable cancer mesothelioma. When it took into account education assistants, nursery nurses and university lecturers the figures doubled. These figures could even be higher if other support staff, such as caretakers, maintenance staff and cleaners, are taken into account. The history of asbestos is one of cover up and lies in the name of profit. The dangers of asbestos have been known about for over a hundred years. But the profits to be made from asbestos production ensured that the truth about the deadly nature of asbestos was withheld. This has resulted in millions of workers dying from asbestos-related diseases round the world. In Britain alone over 5,000 people a year die as a result of inhaling asbestos, this figure is predicted to rise to 10,000 a year by 2010. Shockingly even though the dangers of asbestos are now widely known asbestos is still mined in places such as Canada and still extensively used throughout the developing world. In Britain its use in construction began to be phased out in the late 1970s but according to the Health & Safety Executive asbestos containing materials (ACMs) was used in buildings constructed or refurbished before blue and brown asbestos was banned in 1985. In some cases ACMs, such as asbestos cement, were used up until 1999. Workers should not simply rely on management to ensure that asbestos is handled properly. Current legislation allows asbestos to remain in place as...

More foreign mesothelioma news

New drug to aid SA fight against asbestos-linked cancer In the late 1970s, South Africa was the world’s biggest asbestos-miner, but, more than three decades later, the country still suffered the legacy of these activities.Working with asbestos could lead to the development of a rare form of cancer, called mesothelioma, which targets the lining of the chest. Currently, South Africa has one of the highest mesothelioma incidence rates in the world – sixth times higher than the UK – but treatment options were mainly limited to surgical removal. However, the South African Medicines Control Council (MCC) recently approved the registration of a new drug, called Almita (Pemetrexed), developed by pharmaceutical company Lilly. Speaking at a media conference on treatment options for mesothelioma, head of the oncology department at Grootte Schuur Hospital, in Cape Town, Raymond Abratt said that official data showed that South Africa could expect to treat between 400 and 500 patients living with mesothelioma this year. But he said that the registry was not active and that this number could be even higher. He explained that mesothelioma developed 20 or more years after first exposure to asbestos, a group of minerals that occur naturally as masses of strong, flexible fibres, while the peak incidence was between 35 years and 45 years after exposure. And, with South Africa being the biggest producer of blue asbestos in 1977, it was expected that the mesothelioma “epidemic” would continue for at least the lifetime of the large numbers of people exposed to blue asbestos. The male:female ratio was 2,5:1, and Abratt attributed the high incidence rate among woman and children affected...

India company to open asbestos plants

NEW DELHI: Hyderabad Industries Ltd, a GP-CK Birla Group firm, has started a new asbestos manufacturing plant in Satharia in Uttar Pradesh and has plans to open two more plants of 1.25 lakh tonnes per annum capacity. The plant has been constructed at a cost of Rs 30 crore and has installed indegeniously manufactured equipments. The product are slated to be despatched from May 18, a company release said. The plant will cater to the markets of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh and Nepal, the release said. HIL Board has approved two more plants of 1.25 lakh tonnes per annum capacity, each at the cost of Rs 60 crores and has also approved a new AAC Blocks plant at an investment of Rs 40 crore. The company, however, did not say when the new plants would be started or where they would be located. With the commissioning of Satharia plant, HIL has increased its manufacturing capacity by 1.25 lakh tonnes per annum to an overall sheeting capacity of 7.5 lakh tonnes per annum, the release said. “With the boom in the infrastructure industry, we foresee higher demand for our products,” HIL’s managing director O P Jagetiya...

Thailand Permits Use of Cancer Causing Asbestos

HEALTH CONTROVERSY Asbestos can cause cancer but ‘it’s cheap’ Official sees ‘no reason’ for more expensive substitutes Known as a cause of lung cancer, asbestos has been banned in the European Union and other advanced nations such as Japan for years. But some new scientific studies show that its use in construction and other industries could still be safe if handled properly. Thailand permits the use of white asbestos, called chrysotile, as a raw material in manufacturing. Professor David Bernstein, a Swiss consultant on toxicology, said here last week that it was a common misconception that asbestos was generally dangerous and should be banned. “We can use chrysotile safely if it is cleverly used,” he said. Bernstein, who is also a member of expert panels for the US Environmental Protection Agency and the World Health Organisation, said chrysotile was less dangerous than blue or brown asbestos due to its greater fragility and solubility. “This helps it get out of the human lung easily before causing trouble in the body,” he said. Srichant Uthayopas, director of the Industrial Works Department’s Hazardous Substance Control Bureau, said Thailand imported about 200,000 tonnes of asbestos a year, mostly for various kinds of cement products used in construction. Some is used for auto parts like brakes and clutches, as well as insulators and textiles. Asbestos made of crocidolite and amosite minerals has been outlawed here since July 2003, but chrysotile is still allowed into the country on prior approval. “We now import only chrysotile, because our industry needs it for its strength and flexibility, which are required for construction projects,” she said. “A substitute...

Australian Controls of Asbestos

Asbestos in soil IN NSW WorkCover regulates asbestos. WorkCover’s system for controlling the industry is to issue improvement and prohibition notices which can, on the spot, close down work on a site. WorkCover doesn’t have to prosecute to close down site. Failure to comply with such a notice can bring a fine of up to $165,000. There are different requirements applied depending on whether the asbestos is bonded or friable. Bonded asbestos has the asbestos fibres incorporated in such a way that they cannot be released by crushing the material by hand when it is dry. Friable asbestos materials can be crumbled by hand, releasing asbestos fibres. The requirements are naturally more stringent for friable asbestos than for bonded asbestos. Friable asbestos must be removed by a contractor who has an AS1 licence. The removal must be conducted with NATA accredited airborne fibre monitoring. Seven days notice must be provided to WorkCover prior to job commencement. The protocols that must be followed are more expensive than those for bonded asbestos. Faced with a problem of some builders using an excavator to knock down old fibro buildings instead of doing the work properly, and the difficulties of catching the demolition in the act, WorkCover have taken the step of declaring any: “Asbestos inappropriately buried (ie not in accordance to any environmental legislative requirements) is considered friable asbestos material. Any asbestos cement product, which has been subjected to weathering, severely damaged by hail, damaged by heat/fire or other mechanical action, or illegal water blasting is a friable asbestos product.” The transport and disposal of waste material containing asbestos is regulated by...

South african mesothelioma treatment

New drug to aid SA fight against asbestos-linked cancer In response to an urgent need to improve local treatment for anexcruciating form of asbestos-related cancer, international corpo-ration Lilly has recently released a drug that promises to ease its symptoms when other treatments fall short. Alimta (Pemetrexed), when used with cisplatin ? another widely used chemotherapy drug ? is the first and only drug to be approved by the Food and Drug Association for the treatment of patients with mesothelioma when surgery is not an option. Treatments such as this one are highly relevant in South Africa, where asbestos-related illnesses are painfully prevalent. ?Control has come from thebottom up, with protests by unions and workers on the painful effects of mesothelioma. This has brought attention to the disease in South Africa,? said Prof Raymond Abratt, head of the oncology department at Grootte Schuur Hospital in Cape Town, speaking at a media con-ference on treatment options formesothelioma. Resistant to fire and heat and imbued with strength and flexibility, asbestos is a remarkable material that found many uses duringthe industrial era. With deposits located primarilyin the Northern Cape, the North West province, Limpopo province and Mpumalanga, asbestos miningin South Africa began in earnest in the 1930s and during the following decades attracted a multitude of companies. This has left alegacy of individuals sufferingasbestos-related illnesses, one of which is mesothelioma. Working with asbestos constitutes a major risk factor for mesothelioma,with a history of work with asbestosreported in up to 80% of all cases. The risk of asbestos-related diseaseincreases with heavier exposure to asbestos and longer exposure time. Mesothelioma is cancer of the mesothelium,...

England Enacts New Law to Aid Mesothelioma Victims

Ministers will amend Britains compensation laws after a recent House of Lords ruling prevented thousands of victims of an asbestos-related cancer receiving a full payout, it was announced today. A legal victory by the insurance industry last month made it harder for victims of mesothelioma and their relatives to bring a successful case if they had been employed by more than one company. The Lord Chancellor, Lord Falconer of Thoroton, and John Hutton, the Work and Pensions Secretary, will amend the Compensation Bill – currently going through Parliament – to improve the system. “The Government is acting quickly to help claimants suffering from this terrible disease to receive the compensation to which they are entitled as soon as possible,” Lord Falconer said. “I intend to bring forward an amendment to the Compensation Bill to provide that in these cases negligent employers should be jointly and severally liable, so that the claimant can recover full compensation from any relevant employer. It would then be open to that employer to seek a contribution to the damages awarded from other negligent employers.” Last month the Law Lords ruled in a series of test appeals that damages awards for mesothelioma must in future be decided on a “shared liability” basis in cases involving several former employers, none of whom can specifically be shown to be liable for the onset of the illness. The decision by the House of Lords imposes strict limits on the effect of an earlier ruling that a single employer who was shown to have been negligent could be ordered to pay all damages due, even though other companies might...

Asbestos Still Being Used in India

JAIPUR: Despite a ban by the government, asbestos might still be illegally mined in Rajasthan and India could be importing the toxic mineral on a large scale, a Canadian social activist suspects. Louie Palu, a journalist-turned-social activist working on mining issues in Canada for 12 years, is in India to study the occupational hazards connected with asbestos mining. Palu, accompanied by a team of researchers from India, visited some asbestos mines and processing units in Rajasthan and other states to see the working conditions and safety measures for labourers. The Canadian activist said in a statement that he suspected that Rajasthan was producing asbestos in bulk for industrial use. “There is always a calculated risk in using asbestos,” he warned. Asbestos is well recognised as a health hazard. Inhalation of the mineral can cause asbestosis, cancer of the lung and cancer of the thin membrane that surrounds the lung and other internal organs. While white asbestos mining is currently banned in India, its import, export or use in manufacturing is permitted. In India, asbestos is used in the manufacture of pipes for water supply, sewage and drainage, packing material, brake linings in automobiles, heavy equipment and thermal plants. Studies reveal that the demand for asbestos in India is around 100,000 tonnes, a fifth of which is mined domestically. In addition, raw asbestos worth Rs.100 million is imported every year mainly from Canada and Russia, the two major producers of the mineral. “Asbestos is not viable for commercial production in India. Studies by public health institutions have confirmed the high incidence of lung diseases and asbestosis among those involved in...

Toxic blue asbestos found in lungs of 2 patients

Highly toxic blue asbestos has been found in the lungs of two patients suffering from mesothelioma–which is allegedly caused by the material–who lived near Kubota Corp.’s former Kanzaki plant in Amagasaki, Hyogo Prefecture. The plant, run by the major machinery manufacturer, used blue asbestos from 1957 to 1975. The two patients lived near the plant during the same period. The findings were made by Yuji Natori, a doctor and director of the Mesothelioma–Pneumoconiosis–Asbestos Center in Tokyo, and others who examined the lungs of six patients aged 52 to 66, including those who were deceased. All six of the patients lived near the factory when it used blue asbestos in the manufacture of water pipes.   Most of the asbestos discovered by the researchers in the lung tissue samples of the two patients was blue asbestos, which is believed to be the most carcinogenic variety. Its production and use were banned in 1995 prior to the banning of chrysotile, another type of asbestos. The researchers found 112 to 677 strands of asbestos per gram in lung tissue samples, much higher than the acceptable average of 35 strands....