to Aug 16

Cuban Roofing Crisis

Asbestos Roofing

Cancer has been a leading cause of death in Cuba for sometime now and worrying new figures suggest that it's on the rise.
When Hurricane Matthew swept through Guantanamo province in early October, news about how Cuban industries making building materials readying to help the victims, immediately appeared on TV screens.
One of the most repeated images broadcast by Cuban TV after a hurricane destroys houses and buildings in Cuba is that of factories manufacturing asbestos-cement roofing sheets, where hard-working workers prepare to make what will become the new roofs of some homes, industries and workplaces, whose original roofs were blown away by the hurricane. However, as their name points out, this roofing material contains asbestos. And asbestos causes cancer.
By means of a European Union (EU) directive, all of its Member States have had to ban the sale or use of any kind of asbestos since 2005, and in 2006, the EU launched a campaign with the bold motto: “Asbestos is deadly serious!”
Asbestos is known to cause diseases when it is inhaled. Its particles do not evaporate into air and they’re not hydrosoluble either, which means that they linger about for a long time, while they are carried far away by the wind and water, before settling. Asbestos fibers can’t move through soil either. Generally-speaking, they don’t break down and they remain for many years. Drinking water can contain asbestos, especially if water pipes are made out of fiber cement.
The link between exposure to asbestos and lung cancer has been known since 1935. Today, asbestos is the most well-known industrial material out of those that are linked to this type of cancer. And in 1991, the World Bank decided not to finance the manufacture or use of products containing asbestos. This subject shocked the world again in 2001, after the World Trade Center collapsed, when asbestos dust was released into the air.
The World Health Organization, international medical institutions and US regulatory authorities have drawn up a list of products that contain asbestos and cause cancer in humans, with a higher mortality rate. The use of asbestos has been banned in every first world country for decades now, although asbestos use continues in some underdeveloped countries. Spain banned it completely in 2001. The international ban on asbestos is governed by the Rotterdam Convention (in effect since 2004), signed by over 100 Member States, but not without controversy as some countries still produce asbestos.


View Event →
to Feb 14

Update: Asbestos in imported goods

Perth Children's Hospital

Perth Children's Hospital

Following the story earlier this year that close to 70 major buildings and construction sites across Australia were supplied with materials by a Chinese company linked to the discovery of deadly asbestos at a Perth children’s hospital and a Brisbane office tower.  A Senate inquiry into non-conforming building products has finally been reinstated, with expanded terms of reference to look into the illegal importation of asbestos that has found its way into various high-profile buildings across the country.

The original committee was to report on the problem of non-conforming materials by the 12th of October 2015, but was granted a series of extensions and was finally dissolved when the last federal election was called, producing little more than an interim report, the main recommendation of which was to be allowed more time to investigate.
The reformed committee will now have until 25 May 2017 to report.
As asbestos scares in major buildings across the country, including a children’s hospital, have been receiving significant media attention, additional terms of reference have been included, enabling the inquiry to probe into the reasons behind the spike in asbestos importation.
The additional terms of reference state the inquiry will look into:

“The illegal importation of products containing asbestos and its impact on the health and safety of the Australian community, with particular reference to:

a. the prevalence and sources of illegally imported products containing asbestos;

b. the effect of illegally imported products containing asbestos on:

i. industry supply chains, including importers, manufacturers and fabricators, and

ii. workplace and public safety and any associated risks;

c. possible improvements to the current regulatory frameworks for ensuring products containing asbestos are not illegally imported to Australia, with particular reference to the effectiveness of:

i. policing, enforcement, surveillance and screening of imported products, including restrictions and penalties imposed on importers and end users of products containing asbestos;

ii. preventing exposure and protecting the health and safety of workers and other people affected by the illegal importation of products containing asbestos,

iii. establishing responsibility for remediation of sites where illegally imported products containing asbestos has been found;

iv. coordination between Commonwealth, state and territory governments and the role of the Australian Government in coordinating a strategic approach to preventing the importation of products containing asbestos;

d. any other related matters.”

Submissions to the inquiry close on 1 December 2016.

View Event →
to May 16

Asbestos Awareness Month

‘Get to kNOw Asbestos this November’ aims to educate Australians about the dangers of asbestos in and around homes because Australia has one of the highest rates of asbestos-related diseases in the world.

Asbestos In Sydney

With asbestos-related diseases continuing to increase among Australians as a direct result of exposure to asbestos fibres during home renovations and maintenance, the importance of raising awareness about the dangers of asbestos and how best to manage it in and around homes, cannot be overstated!

During Asbestos Awareness Month 1-30 November we aim to educate as many Australians as possible about the dangers of asbestos and how best to manage it.

Many wrongly believe that ONLY fibro homes contain asbestos. Asbestos products can most likely be found in ANY Australian home built or renovated before 1987 even brick, weatherboard, fibro and clad homes.

Asbestos can be found under floor coverings such as carpets, linoleum and vinyl tiles, behind wall and floor tiles, in cement floors, internal and external walls, ceilings, eaves, garages, around hot water pipes, fences, extensions to homes, outdoor toilets, dog kennels, chook yards and backyard sheds – it could be anywhere!

Asbestos Sydney Homes

It’s vital that Australians take the warnings seriously, that they stop playing ‘renovation roulette’ and protect themselves and their families from exposure to asbestos fibres during renovations and maintenance.
Australians need to think smart, think safe, think – it’s not worth the risk!

During Asbestos Awareness Month Australians can host a ‘Blue Lamington Drive’ to raise awareness of asbestos in homes and help raise vital funds for the Asbestos Disease Research Institute and Support Groups by visiting

View Event →