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    Lung Diseases

    [Bangladesh]Asbestos: The slow poison killing ship-breaking workers

    February 4, 2017

    Workers’ deaths at the ship-breaking yards of Chittagong are a common incident, as is environmental poisoning. But researchers have now detected one deadly illness that has been silently affecting the workers for decades.

    Many ships that come to the yards are filled with the mineral asbestos, used in the 1980s and ’90s for insulation on high-heat areas such as boilers and steam pipes. It has since been banned across the world for safety concerns.

    In a recent study, Bangladesh Occupational Safety, Health and Environment Foundation (OSHE) found that almost 33% of the ship-breaking workers are affected by asbestosis, an incurable disease caused by breathing the mineral in the form of dust or fume.

    The health survey, led by asbestosis expert Dr Murali Dhar, among ship-breaking workers in Chittagong’s Sitakunda upazila, examined 101 workers in two phases and found 33 workers affected with the disease. Of them, eight had become 60% disabled from the disease. Read More

    OSHE foundation organised a press conference to highlight this issue on February 2, 2017 to highlight and share the workers health survey and diagnosis conducted

    20170202 Dhaka Press Conference

    Fact sheet detailing known health risks posed by exposure to chrysotile asbestos

    February 11, 2016

    A Fact Sheet detailing known health risks posed by exposure to Chrysotile Asbestos has been prepared. This resource has been developed by Dr. Richard Lemen and other international experts.

    The following facts represent knowledge concerning chrysotile asbestos, the only form of asbestos currently marketed.

    Fact 1: For the past two decades, chrysotile has been the only commercially mined form of asbestos being mass marketed. It has constituted over 95% of all asbestos marketed over the past century. The latest data show global use of chrysotile is around 2 million metric tons per year (USGS, 2013). Read More »

    Huge Turnout at Paris Asbestos Protest

    October 14, 2015

    Oct 9, 2015

    Up to 2,000 people took part in a demonstration through the streets of Paris today (October 9) calling for justice for asbestos victims. Not one asbestos director, civil servant or lobbyist has been convicted for their part in a criminal conspiracy which has led to an epidemic of asbestos-related deaths say ANDEVA, the French association of asbestos victims’ groups. The march was dedicated to the memory of Jean Dalla Torre, who died of mesothelioma last month. He was the first person to file a French complaint against Monsieur X twenty years ago. See: Amiante: “toujours ni responsable ni coupable” déplore l’Andeva [Asbestos: “to date no one has been found responsible or guilty” deplores Andeva].

    Pictures can be seen at this link:


    UK: More than 1,000 workers a year could die due to inadequate silica safeguards

    July 23, 2014

    Credit: Jawad Qasrawi/Hazards magazine

    22 July 2014

    Hundreds of thousands of workers are being put at risk and more than 1,000 could die every year due to inadequate safeguards for a workplace dust known to cause cancer and other diseases, according to research by University of Stirling academics.

    Respirable crystalline silica is a dust created during work operations involving stone, rock, concrete, brick, mortar, plaster and industrial sand. Silica is second only to asbestos as a cause of occupational cancer deaths and exposure to it via inhalation can cause a range of other illnesses including silicosis, tuberculosis, kidney disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and arthritis.

    The research, carried out by Professor Rory O’Neill and Professor Andrew Watterson of the University of Stirling’s Occupational and Environmental Health and Safety Research Group, responds to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE)’s resistance to the tightening of the current silica exposure standard, which regulates the amount of silica that workers can safely be exposed to in the workplace.

    The HSE has argued that technological limitations make monitoring below the current exposure standard impractical. In addition, potentially affected industries such as fracking have argued that the cost of implementing these new controls would be prohibitive.

    Professor Rory O’Neill said: “The HSE says monitoring technology isn’t good enough yet to measure lower levels of silica dust, so we must stick with the same deadly, higher but measurable standard. It is wrong on both counts. The increasingly toothless safety watchdog is regurgitating the line promoted by the industry lobby, placing vested interests above workers’ health.”

    “Modern science can obtain and analyse dust on Mars. If HSE’s science can’t obtain and analyse adequately one of the most commonly encountered and deadly workplace dust exposures here on Earth, you have to ask who on Earth is the watchdog protecting?”

    In the US, the HSE’s equivalent, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), is arguing for a rule change to halve the exposure standard. OSHA has also stated that monitoring a tighter exposure standard is technically feasible and, as well as saving thousands of lives, would deliver huge economic savings, rather than job losses.

    Professor Andrew Watterson said: “OSHA says a tighter standard is perfectly possible, can be monitored in the workplace and would save hundreds of lives and billions of dollars each year. Canadian provinces already monitor and enforce a tighter standard still.”

    “The current lax legal occupational exposure standard in the UK guarantees another generation will be blighted by entirely preventable, deadly and disabling conditions. Yet the HSE is actively promoting an industry-supported but unsustainable argument in the UK and in Europe that the current standard must stay.”

    Background information

    For more information, please contact David Tripp, Public Relations Officer, on 01786 466 687999 or email david.tripp@stir.ac.uk.

    Notes to editors:

    The full report is available at www.hazards.org/dust/silica.

    The UK and the US share the same 0.1 mg/m³ workplace exposure standard for respirable crystalline silica. The US regulator OSHA says its standard is over four decades old and based on what we knew about silica in 1968. In September 2013, it laid out in the Federal Register its case for the new, more protective 0.05 mg/m³ silica exposure standard. The HSE has argued against this improved standard, half the current level, both in the UK and in the European Commission.

    The University of Stirling’s Occupational and Environmental Health and Safety Research Group (OEHSRG):

    The OEHSRG is a cross-departmental and inter-disciplinary group of staff which includes policy researchers, social scientists, chemists, biologists, nurses, biochemists, public health physicians and occupational physicians who research and publish on issues affecting the workplace and the wider environment field.

    For more information on the OEHSRG, please visit www.nm.stir.ac.uk/research/occupational.php.

    No safe use: The Canadian asbestos epidemic that Ottawa is ignoring

    June 14, 2014

    Asbestos is the top on-the-job killer in Canada. But a Globe and Mail investigation has found that this stark fact has been obscured by the country’s longstanding economic interest in the onetime “miracle mineral.” Even though Canada’s own asbestos industry has dwindled from pre-eminence to insignificance — the country’s last two mines closed in 2011 — the federal government has dragged its feet as other nations have acknowledged asbestos’s deadly impact and moved to protect their populations from it.

    via Read More.

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