PRESS RELEASE: Seven Countries Opposed the Listing of Chrysotile Asbestos in the Rotterdam Convention

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International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) Coverage: May 7May 8, and May 9 

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 10, 2013 

Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization Outraged that Seven Countries Prevented the Inclusion of Chrysotile Asbestos in the UN Rotterdam Convention List of Hazardous Substances

India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, the Russian Federation, Ukraine, Vietnam, and Zimbabwe Opposed the Listing of Chrysotile Asbestos in the Rotterdam Convention

Los Angeles, CA – May 10,  2013 – The Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO), which combines education, advocacy, and community as the leading U.S. organization serving as the voice of asbestos victims, is outraged after the 2013 United Nations Rotterdam Convention failed to reach consensus to add chrysotile asbestos to the Prior Informed Consent (PIC) list of hazardous substances. All six types of asbestos are carcinogenic, but chrysotile is the only type of asbestos not included in the list.  The Convention does not prohibit trade of the listed substances, but requires exporters to establish protocol to inform purchasers about the hazards related to the substances. Of the 143 countries attending the conference, seven countries – India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, the Russian Federation, Ukraine, Vietnam, and Zimbabwe – opposed the listing.

“Asbestos-related diseases cause great human suffering. Death from difficult-to-treat cancers and suffocation caused by asbestosis are terrible ways to die,” said Arthur L. Frank MD, Ph.D., Professor of Public Health and Pulmonary Medicine, Drexel University. “The callous disregard of some countries for educating workers condemns many to unnecessary and painful deaths.”

“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,” said  Richard Lemen, Ph.D., MSPH, Assistant Surgeon General (ret.), Rear Admiral, USPHS (ret.); Adjunct Professor, Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University. “But because chrysotile asbestos remains the only type of asbestos commercially exploited, those countries having a financial stake in its continued use have placed profit and greed over the protection of the public’s health, in order to promote this carcinogenic product. Today, a few countries have again blocked chrysotile’s listing on the PIC by claiming it is not hazardous and can be used safely.  It is a farce for them to suggest continued ‘controlled use’ since by blocking its listing, the consumer is never informed of chrysotile’s hazardous nature. Thus, 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.”

“It is reprehensible that India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, the Russian Federation, Ukraine, Vietnam, and Zimbabwe used propaganda and misinformation to block chrysotile asbestos from being added to the Rotterdam Convention’s list of hazardous substances,” said Linda Reinstein, Co-Founder and President of ADAO. “Each day, 300 innocent people die from preventable asbestos-caused diseases, yet the asbestos industry, including the Russian Chrysotile Association, continues to promote the ‘safe use’ of chrysotile asbestos. Russia annually mines an estimated 1,000,000 tons of asbestos and is responsible for half of the world’s chrysotile asbestos production.  ADAO is a proud supporter of the 2013 Rotterdam Convention Alliance (ROCA) Position Paper, as well as Association of Asbestos Victims Families (AFeVA) President Romana Blasotti Pavesi’s global asbestos victims solidarity letter, which was endorsed by 55 asbestos victims’ organizations.  Asbestos victims around the world will not be silenced by thugs and criminals profiting from the deadly toxic trade. Instead, we will turn our grief, pain, and anger into action as we continue global educational and advocacy initiatives to collaboratively ensure chrysotile asbestos will be added to the PIC List at the 2015 Rotterdam Convention.”

Although the chrysotile asbestos industry argues that chrysotile asbestos is safe, the World Health Organization (WHO) states that all forms of asbestos are carcinogenic to humans and may lead to mesothelioma and lung, larynx, and ovarian cancer. WHO estimates that 107,000 workers die every year from asbestos-related lung cancer, mesothelioma and asbestosis. One in every three deaths from occupational cancer is caused by asbestos.

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About ADAO
The Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO) was founded by asbestos victims and their families in 2004. ADAO seeks to give asbestos victims a united voice to help ensure that their rights are fairly represented and protected, and raise public awareness about the dangers of asbestos exposure and the often deadly asbestos-related diseases. ADAO is funded through voluntary contributions and staffed by volunteers. For more information, visit www.asbestosdiseaseawareness.org.

Media Contact: Doug Larkin
Director of Communications
Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO)
(202) 391-1546