Despite asbestos being banned in more than 55 countries around the world, the known human carcinogen continues to negatively affect human health, even in places where it has been long banned. This is due to the unregulated demolition or remodeling of aging buildings. However, some countries – including the United States – still openly allow the use of asbestos in certain products and manufacturing processes, despite its known health risks. Last month, the anti-asbestos cause, which aims to increase regulation and create a global ban on the carcinogen, suffered an unfortunate blow at the 2017 Rotterdam Convention.
Every other year the Rotterdam Convention is held as “a binding multilateral treaty to protect global human health and the environment through restrictions on international trade in hazardous chemicals and pesticides,” according to a news release. May 5 marked the end of the 2017 Rotterdam Convention, held in Geneva, Switzerland, and of the 157 countries that have ratified the treaty, six blocked the addition of chrysotile asbestos – the only asbestos type not currently included – onto its Prior Informed Consent (PIC) list of hazardous substances. The convention requires total consensus in order to add a chemical to the PIC list.
Though the list does not ban a substance, it does require exporters to establish protocol to inform purchasers of the health hazards associated with the product, requiring consent from the destination country before export. Russia, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Zimbabwe and Syria blocked chrysotile asbestos from being added to the list. Richard Lemen, Ph.D., MSPH, Assistant Surgeon General (ret.), Rear Admiral, USPHS (ret.) in an Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO) press release, stated:
Chrysotile asbestos is recognized by every leading world scientific body as a cause of asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma, as have all other forms of commercially used asbestos that are currently listed on the PIC List. The pandemic of asbestos-induced diseases that the world is currently experiencing will continue to grow as thousands more uninformed users of this cancerous material will face disease and death in their future. The action of these few countries represents a callous disregard for human dignity and life.
Asbestos, associated with direct occupational exposure or indirect “take-home” exposure, has been linked to the development of lung cancer and more rarely mesothelioma, a difficult to diagnose and deadly cancer that can develop after just one exposure to asbestos fibers. It can affect the lining of the heart, lungs or abdomen and rarely has a survival rate of longer than a year and a half after diagnosis. In the United States, mesothelioma deaths continue to rise, with occurrence rates in young people found to be higher than expected in the latest Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report. Steps to prevent innocent lives from being lost to this preventable disease clearly are still needed.
If you believe you have a claim based on asbestos exposure that could entitle you to compensation, contact Rhon Jones, head of our firm’s Toxic Torts Section, at 800-898-2034 or by email at Rhon.Jones@beasleyallen.com
Sources: Global Asbestos Action Alliance, CDC, Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization
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