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Deadly, deceptive letter from the International Chrysotile Association

 

Despite the millions of people who have been exposed to asbestos from the Canadian mines and the now hundreds of thousands were probably died the industry will just not give up. See below.

Kathleen Ruff, RightOnCanada.ca, February 25, 2013 

Below is a letter from Chairman of the International Chrysotile Association (ICA), a lobby organisation that represents the global asbestos industry. The ICA is seeking to prevent Pakistan from banning asbestos. The letter cites scientists, such as David Bernstein, whose research has been financed by the asbestos industry and has zero credibility in the reputable scientific community.

As reported in Retraction Watch, Bernstein and the journal that publishes his work, Inhalation Toxicology, were forced recently to publish an apology for putting forward a number of articles by Bernstein as being independent research, when they were, in reality, financed by and controlled by the corporation Georgia Pacific, in order to be used in court cases the corporation was facing from workers and their families, who had been harmed by the asbestos Georgia Pacific used.

As the Centre for Public Integrity reports, Bernstein has a long history of conducting asbestos-friendly research funded by Georgia-Pacific and other companies in the industry:

Bernstein is the most active of a dozen or so industry-backed scientists who have helped fuel the asbestos trade by producing papers, lecturing, and testifying on the relative safety of chrysotile. The industry has spent tens of millions of dollars funding their studies, which have been cited some 5,000 times in the medical literature as well as by lobby groups from India to Canada. Bernstein’s work alone has been cited 460 times. He has been quoted or mentioned in Zimbabwe’s Financial Gazette, Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post and other publications around the world. His curriculum vitae suggests that he’s been a one-man road show for chrysotile, giving talks in 19 countries since 1999. Among his stops: Brazil, China, Colombia, India, Indonesia, Korea, Mexico, Russia, South Africa, Thailand, and Vietnam. The industry paid for all of his travel, Bernstein told [the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists] in an interview.”

It is because of the deceptive misinformation, financed by the asbestos industry, from scientists like David Bernstein, whose research was previously financed by the tobacco industry, that the use of asbestos in the world has not declined over the past two decades and that thousands will continue to die tragic deaths.

If the slogan used by the ICA were to tell the truth, it would say - For destruction of environmental, occupational health, and for unsafe and irresponsible use of asbestos.

Scientists, unions and organisations around the world, who defend public health, issued a Statement, condemning the deadly misinformation contained in the ICA letter.

Read the ICA letter here https://www.rightoncanada.ca/?p=1905.

Shirking responsibility, excusing corruption

 

Last week, the McGill community, learned that an internal report prepared by Doctor Abraham Fuks, the Research Integrity Officer at McGill, found no evidence of misconduct on the part of retired McGill researcher John Corbett Macdonald and his corporate-sponsored research on asbestos.

The mineral, naturally abundant in Quebec, has increasingly gained a reputation as one of the most dangerous industrial materials in existence. Now known to be a cause of numerous types of cancers, including mesothelioma, nations across the world have begun banning the product’s import. Until recently, however, Canada still exported asbestos to countries with few, or nonexistent, safety standards using research like McGill’s, which emphasized the relative safety of certain types of the mineral.

A CBC documentary that aired last year raised questions about Macdonald’s private funding, citing evidence that the Quebec Asbestos Mining Association had indirectly given over $1.1 million to the University to be used for research between 1966 and 1974. Amidst public outcry, including a letter from public health officials across Canada and the preeminent asbestos expert Dr. David Egilman, from Brown University, McGill’s Dean of Medicine David Eidelman called for an inquiry in April 2012.

Unfortunately, the McGill report, released Wednesday to the Board of Governors, Senate, and general public, is nothing more than an attempt by the University to whitewash the role it played in promoting the mineral. The paramount issue in this internal investigation (a type of navel-gazing McGill has proven wont to do on other controversial issues) is that it failed to contact those who initially protested McGill’s involvement. It is difficult to imagine how a fair inquiry could have been conducted without any input from the main critics. Moreover, the University does not address the fact that Macdonald’s research was based on data that even McGill seems incapable of finding – information that was most likely fabricated. The notion that this lack of crucial information is “no basis to presume that the analyses…are flawed” defies all reason and logic.

Instead of trying to defend its reputation, McGill should have used the report as an opportunity to apologize for its obvious ties to the industry. For decades, it allowed its name to be used to market a product responsible for the death of millions of people worldwide. Macdonald was not a researcher; he was a lobbyist. The fact that the University does not find fraudulent corporate-sponsored research problematic is worrisome indeed.

When pressed on the larger issues at stake with public-private partnerships, the administration stated that more discussion could take place at a conference at some point in the future. This tactic of deferral, of shirking accountability, allows McGill to continue producing harmful research in places throughout our university. Perhaps McGill has technically updated its research policies since, but this does not mean that it has changed the nature of profit-oriented research with destructive effects. Research supporting the weapons and mining industries are only two examples. It is not about rules or technicalities; it is about the larger social and environmental consequences of profitable research. It’s about the abuse of the McGill name – where a prestigious university’s reputation was used to legitimize exporting a deadly substance.

McGill has effectively stifled the possibility an independent, external investigation. We will never know the true extent of Macdonald’s fraud. What we do know, however, is that the repercussions of privatized research at McGill are a pressing reality that must be dealt with.

Mesothelioma: Canada Finally Stops Supporting the Killing Machine

Published: September 17, 2012

by Bill Chappell

Canada's leaders have ended their country's longstanding resistance to asbestos being called a dangerous material under United Nations guidelines, a decision that reflects a shift in the leadership of Quebec province, home of Canada's asbestos industry.

Quebec's incoming premier, Pauline Marois, promised late in her campaign that she would shut down the region's asbestos mines for good. She says that she will use money that would have gone to restart the mines to diversify the local economy.

As Dan Karpenchuk reports for NPR's Newscast unit:

“Canadian industry minister Christian Paradis made the announcement in the town of Thetford Mines, in the heart of Quebec's asbestos belt. He blamed the incoming separatist government in Quebec for promising to cancel a $58 million loan that would have reopened Canada's last major asbestos mine.”

“Paradis says it means hundreds of workers will remain without jobs. But he says it would no longer make sense for Ottawa to support the asbestos industry when Quebec, the only province that produces it, will prohibit its exploitation.”

The CBC reports that in 2010, “Canada was producing 150,000 tonnes of asbestos annually, all of it in Quebec, and exporting 90 percent — worth about $90 million — to developing countries.”

Canada has long been criticized for its stance on asbestos. Prime Minister Stephen Harper and others have been steadfast in their support of the industry, resisting efforts to include asbestos in the U.N. Rotterdam Convention, a treaty that lists chrysotile and other forms of the material as hazardous.

Writing in The Toronto Star, columnist David Olive says, “Canada's hypocrisy on asbestos has long been malodorous. Like almost all advanced countries, Canada has banned most domestic uses of asbestos, whose fire-retardant properties are greatly outweighed by its carcinogenic ones. Harper has been spending millions of dollars to remove the last traces of asbestos in the Parliament Buildings and his official residence at 24 Sussex Drive.”

Back in 2010, NPR's Brenda Wilson summed up the broader dispute over asbestos:

“On one side is the World Health Organization contending that all types cause cancer and that its continued use, primarily in countries like China, India, Brazil, Mexico, and other places will only prolong the epidemic of cancers related to its use. The cancers can take up to 30 to 40 years to develop.”

“On the other side is the proud little town of Asbestos, two hours outside Montreal, Canada, where BBC producer Steve Bradshaw says, 'There's a mine in the center of town that is as deep as the Eiffel Tower is high.'”

Canada's asbestos industry has been in a recent decline — earlier this year, the Chrysotile Institute, a powerful industry lobbying group, closed after it stopped receiving government support.

News of Canada's shift came out late Friday — evidence, perhaps, that Canadian politicians, like their counterparts to the south, prefer to save problematic news for the end of the week, when they can “dump” them into the mix of weekend plans and movie reviews that many people concern themselves with on Fridays. [Copyright 2012 National Public Radio]

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Texas Dust Storms Unleash Red Dust Particles Causing Major Health Concerns for Residents of Texas Gulf Towns

The Associated Press released an article today titled, “Red Dust Worries Residents Near US Metals Plants: Residents Near Metals Plants In Texas And Louisiana Worry About Health Affects From Red Dust Storms”, which details the worries of the residents of Point Comfort, Texas and Louisiana. As the weather conditions over south Texas due to Tropical Storm Hermine continue to move inland, spreading torrential rain and high winds across the region, the residents of this Texas Gulf Coast town, worry about the effects that storms will have on the alumina refineries which populate their area.

The storms are creating hazy storms of dust, coating lawns, trucks and traffic lights, and thus are also coating the lungs of the people who live in these areas, according to the article. The article also points out that “it is unclear whether the red dust is harmful to health. Environmental regulators say the potentially dangerous metals found in the dust are in harmless trace amounts. Mannan, however, points out that even the most benign dust particles, in large quantities, can be detrimental to those with respiratory problems.”

According to the article, Terri Austin, who is a 47-year-old resident of Point Comfort, Texas worries about the affects of the red dust particles to her health. Her father who grew up in Point Comfort and worked for Alcoa for 30 years, died at age 65, seven years after he was diagnosed with an asbestos-linked cancer. According to the article, “like many structures built in the early 20th century, the plant was packed with asbestos.”

Also in Texas, within the bay’s sediment exist thousands of pounds of mercury that leaked for decades, making the area one of the nation’s largest clean-up efforts, according to the article, and also, a site known by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency “so contaminate that they require complex, long-term cleanups.”

Eddy Arnold, Jr., a worker in the plant’s now shutdown alkaline facility said in the article, “I actually saw the beads of mercury running into the bay…I told my supervisor and he said, “well, you didn’t see anything.”

The unfortunate part of all of this is that it is currently unknown what the effects of the storms will be that will continue to hit parts of Texas and Louisiana the rest of the week, according to all news reports. The concern for residents remains about the health and well-being of themselves and their families and friends. The existence of mercury as well as asbestos, being exposed into the air is a major health concern. Even though, according to the article, “environmental regulators say the potentially dangerous metals found in the dust are in harmless trace amounts. Mannan, however, points out that even the most benign dust particles, in large quantities, can be detrimental to those with respiratory problems.” From experience with these cases, I know that we may not uncover the long terms effects of this storm, until 30 years later, or perhaps even longer.

Since the U.S. dries red mud which can turn into red dust and stored in reservoirs, breezy days such as these storms are producing, will continue to blow particles in the air, and we just don’t know how many people will be affected by this either through respiratory problems or asbestos-related diseases in the years to come.

Even though federal and state regulations require the cleaner operations on behalf of companies and are required to monitor the air emissions, groundwater and other pollutants, the regulators continue to fine corporations for violations. According to this article, “people generally keep quiet because they want to keep their jobs.” When the health and safety of their workers are at risk, it is an abolishment of decency for corporations and their corporate staff to not speak up, and in our experience, it may be years later, but eventually someone speaks, and the truth, whatever it may be, is uncovered.

You can read the full article here: http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2010/10/22/ap/business/main6980729.shtml

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