11th Annual ADAO International Asbestos Awareness Conference
Where Knowledge and Action Unite
April 17 – 19, 2015
Washington, D.C.

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Posted on March 16, 2015

The Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO) is proud to present a new weekly series” Meet the Speakers, Honorees, and Leadership,” highlighting one or several attendees at our highly-anticipated 11th Annual International Asbestos Awareness Conference!  The ADAO Conference, which will take place on April 17-19, 2015 in Washington, DC, combines over 30 expert opinions, victims’ stories, and new technological advancements from more than 10 countries into one united voice raised for asbestos awareness.  ADAO is the only U.S. nonprofit that organizes annual conferences dedicated solely to preventing exposure and eliminating asbestos-caused diseases.  Register today!  This week, we are featuring our amazing conference Session IV Moderator: Celeste Monforton, DrPH and Speakers: Syed Mezab Ahmed, The Brazilian Labour Public Ministry, Barry Castleman ScD, Fernanda Giannasi, Dr. Philippe Gomes Jardim, Barry Robson, Cameron Von St James, and Yvonne Waterman, PhD


MezabSyed Mezab Ahmed Syed Mezab Ahmed is a 25 year old Pakistani who has been involved with ADAO and the global fight to ban asbestos in various capacities since the asbestos exposure related death of his uncle in 2007. He has filed a petition in the Honorable Environmental Tribunal to ban and hold Dadex Eternit Ltd. responsible for exposing millions of Pakistani workers and residents to asbestos. Their case is now pending in the Supreme Court of Pakistan. In February, the Ahmed family will host the first Conference Ban Asbestos Pakistan to raise greater support and awareness in the fight against asbestos.

mpt_headThe Brazilian Labour Public Ministry State Attorney is, according to the Brazilian Federal Constitution, an institution essential to Justice. It is not subject to any of the three branches of public government and has functional, administrative and financial autonomy. It is the legal guardian of the juridical order, of the democratic system and of social and individual inalienable interests and has the duty to monitor the compliance to Brazilian Law.  The Labour Prosecutor’s Office (LPO) is the branch of the State Attorney (USA) that has the task to supervise the compliance with labour when there is public interest, seeking to regulate and mediate relations between employees and employers. It is up to LPO promote civil action under Justice Labour to defend collective interests when occurs violations of social rights constitutionally guaranteed to workers.

Barry CastlemanBarry Castleman, ScD is an Environmental Consultant trained in chemical and environmental engineering. He holds a Doctor of Science degree from the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health. He has been a consultant to numerous agencies of the US government and other governments, international bodies, and environmental groups dealing with a wide range of public health issues. He has testified as an expert in civil litigation in the US on the history of asbestos as a public health problem and the reasons for failure to properly control asbestos hazards. Dr. Castleman has spent the past 40 years working on asbestos as a public health problem.

Fernanda GiannasiFernanda Giannasi is a Civil and Safety Engineer and ex-Labor Inspector for the Ministry of Labor and Employment for 30 years, currently retired. She is coordinator of the Virtual Citizens Ban Asbestos Network for Latin America, founder of the Brazilian Association of People Exposed to Asbestos (ABREA) and Fellow of the Collegium Ramazzini. She serves as an expert witness in judicial cases related to asbestos and other toxic chemicals. She also leaded thousands of workers who have filed lawsuits against the asbestos industry. In charge of a Federal Labor Inspector, she staunchly defended the public interest on workers’ safety and health and was pressured by the asbestos lobby and endured all kind the, pressures, harassments including death threats, offensive campaigns and criminal charges by her detractors. Despite of these threatens, she has been awarded in Brazil and internationally in Canada (Ray Sentes Award), USA by the APHA-American Public Health Association and ISEE-International Society for Environmental Epidemiology, Japan by the Tajiri Muneaki Memorial Fund. She is internationally well known and highly respected for her proficient and perseverant campaigning to save lives from asbestos. Fernanda Giannasi is the personification of the fight against asbestos in Brazil. Not for nothing is she called ‘The Brockovich of Brazil’.

jardimDr. Philippe Gomes Jardim, has been working as a Labor Prosecutor for the past 13 years, and is currently based in Southern Brazil. In 2003, at the age of 25, he was the youngest candidate to pass the Labor Prosecutor’s Office (MPT)’s examination and start a career in that institution. He holds a Master’s Degree in Law and Social Relations from the Federal University of Paraná, in Brazil (2007), and another in Human Rights, Interculturality and Development from the Pablo de Olavide University, in Spain (2008). Mr. Jardim has also taught a few courses at the college level, such as Labor Law and Labor Procedural Law. For the past 3 years, he has been working as the National Coordinator for the Workplace Environment Protection division of the MPT, and in the Brazilian National Asbestos Eradication Program. He coordinates the MPT’s institutional actions, which are based on the following strategies: to prevent the use of asbestos in Brazil through lawsuits against companies that have already produced damages to workers due to asbestos exposure; to promote a political debate with the purpose of changing the federal law that legalizes asbestos exploration; and, to advocate for city and state laws that forbid asbestos use. Mr. Jardim was a member of the team of prosecutors that filed the two largest class action lawsuits in Labor Court history against the company Eternit, in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. Each lawsuit has sought compensation in the amount of US$ 350 million. Both lawsuits are pending a final decision from the Brazilian Labor Court. The National Association of Labor Prosecutors has granted the lawsuit an award for best legal document of 2014.

CCeleste Monfortoneleste Monforton, DrPH, MPH is a professorial lecturer in the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health at the Milken Institute School of Public Health at George Washington University. Her research includes assessment of worker health and safety laws and policies, and their effectiveness in protecting workers from illnesses, disability and death.  She has published articles on strategies used by economic interests, including the asbestos industry, to manipulate scientific evidence to create uncertainty about health risks in order to delay protective regulatory action and compensation.  Prior to her academic appointment, Dr. Monforton was a federal employee at the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA, 1991-1995) and Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA, 1996-2001). Dr. Monforton served on the special panels appointed by the West Virginia Governor to investigate the January 2006 Sago coal mine disaster that took the lives of 12 workers, and the April 2010 disaster at Massey Energy’s Upper Big Branch mine that killed 29 workers. Dr. Monforton is an active member of the American Public Health Association, and serves in a leadership position with the organization’s Occupational Health and Safety Section

Barry RobsonBarry Robson, the President of ADFA, became a Union delegate of the Waterside Workers Federation in 1970 and was elected as Senior Vice President of that Union in 1988. In 1995 he was elected Assistant Branch Secretary of the Maritime Union of Australia, a position he held until retirement from the workforce in 2003. From 1991 to 1995 he was a Councillor on Blacktown City Council. He became a delegate to ADFA in 1996 and was appointed President in 2002 and elected President in 2003, a position he holds today. He has been appointed to the following, Asbestos Research Institute in 2004, Federal Government Asbestos in Telstra Infrastructure in 2013 and Federal Asbestos Safely and Eradication Agency (ASEA) in 2013. Barry has been awarded three Life Memberships, Maritime Union of Australia, St Marys Baseball Club and Blacktown Mt Druitt Cardiac Support Group.

CCams Von St James Photoameron Von St James, is husband to Heather Von St. James, a 9-year mesothelioma survivor, and father to Lily Rose. He, along with Heather and Lily, had their worlds turned upside down when Heather was diagnosed with malignant pleural mesothelioma, just 3 1/2 months after Lily was born. When faced with the possibility of raising Lily on his own, he fought alongside Heather in her cancer battle. Cameron is passionate about bringing awareness to mesothelioma and the dangers of asbestos exposure. It is his hope that sharing his story will help others, those battling cancer, and their caregivers who provide them care and guidance in their journey. In addition to his advocacy work, Cameron works in IT as a Network Ops Center Analyst for U.S. Bank.

Yvonne WatermanYvonne Waterman Ph.D. LL.M., Dutch jurist, founder of Waterman Legal Consultancy, specializes in (comparative) employers’ liability for occupational diseases and asbestos liability. She is a frequent publicist, lecturer and speaker on asbestos liability matters worldwide and also GBAN Charter Member for the Netherlands.

Heather White, Executive Director of Environmental Working Group, is a nationally-recognized expert on federal environmental law and policy and a campaign strategist with more than 15 years experience.  EWG, the nation’s most effective environmental advocacy organization, uses game-heather whitechanging, original research to help individuals, businesses, and governments make better decisions to protect public health and the environment.  White guides EWG’s policy positions, advocacy strategies, communications plans, development and administration, manages EWG’s three offices and oversees the engagement of EWG’s 1.3 million online supporters. She leads the legislative activities of EWG Action Fund, EWG’s related lobbying organization. White graduated magna cum laude from the University of Tennessee College of Law, where she served as the managing editor of the Tennessee Law Review.  She studied at the University of Nairobi law school in Nairobi, Kenya. She was an Echols Scholar at the University of Virginia, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in environmental science.


Check back next week for the next blog featuring our Meet the Speakers, Honorees, and ADAO Leadership Sunday Unity and Remembrance Brunch Moderator: Richard Lemen, PhD, MSPH and Speakers:  Susan Vento,  Dr. Richard Lemen, Jill Cagle, Ellen Tunkelrott, Lou Williams.

In Unity,


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The Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO),  a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, does not make legal referrals.