International Asbestos

Over the past few years, “low level exposure” issues have loomed larger these days in both the US and the UK.  A then-current summary overview for the UK  is set out in an August 19, 2015 article from Hill Dickinson.

Much more recently,  the following headline popped up after a trial court ruling in a mesothelioma cases: “The insurance industry is on alert following the High Court ruling in Hawkes v Warmex Ltd [2018] EWHC 205 (QB).”  That’s the overall message provided in a 22 February 2018 online article from CMS Cameron. The Warmex opinion is online here. The following finding (albeit dicta) regarding  “low level exposure” to asbestos provoked the concern,  as explained by CMS Cameron:

“Most importantly, dealing with the ‘first limb’ of s.47, the judge accepted the formula laid down in Jeromson v Shell Tankers [2001] EWCA Civ 101, whilst strictly confining Williams v The University of Birmingham [2011] EWCA Civ 1242 to its context. He held that in determining breach of duty, the question is whether asbestos-related injury is foreseeable, rather than mesothelioma itself. He found that by 1946 to 1952, asbestos-related injury was a reasonably foreseeable consequence of exposure to asbestos dust even at low levels, and if the lining had been proved to contain asbestos, the defendant would have been in breach of its common law duty and s.47 of the Factories Act 1937.”

 

 

 

Comparing mesothelioma cases damages in the UK to similar damages in the US usually produces some amazement. A January 13, 2017 UK trial court ruling is online here, and well worth reading for comparative purposes. The case involves a successful entrepreneur, now in mid-70s, and fated to die of pleural and peritoneal mesothelioma from tradesman work on boilers in his early twenties. The court delayed ruling on damages, which plaintiff’s counsel at Leigh Day characterized as a win for plaintiff in a February 8, 2017 blog post. The arguments about economic loss are all about numbers in the low 6 figures. As described in paragraph 19 of the order, “[t]he figure of £90,000 was agreed as the correct assessment for pain, suffering and loss of amenity.”

As reported by Laurie Kazan Allen at the IBAS web site and in other places, a new fund has been created in Switzerland to pay compensation to persons suffering from asbestos-related diseases. The Swiss Info channel reported the news in a December 19, 2016 online article. The following are excerpts from the article:

“A CHF100 million ($97 million) fund is to be created in Switzerland to offer support for victims of asbestos-related illnesses who are not eligible for accident insurance. The construction industry and insurers will voluntarily contribute to the fund that will run until 2025

….

A round table of politicians, trade unions, industry groups and asbestos victim support organisations came up with the solution to financially support victims who fell ill after 2006. Some CHF30 million has already been pledged to the fund.”

The global toll of mesothelioma is daunting, and has been detailed by Julian Peto, PhD, in a range of articles and presentations. The article and presentations by Peto are wonderful, but complex to the point some find them hard to use. Therefore, back in 2012, Jessica Horewitz and I worked together to write an article presenting the gist of the data in format suited to a wider audience. See Jessica B. Horewitz and Kirk T. Hartley, A Global View of Mesotheliomas and Asbestos Litigation: Both Are Many Years Away From Peaking When Looking Outside the US, 9 Mealey’s International Asbestos Liability Report, #12 (February 2012). The article is online at Scribd.  The full text of the article also is online at Mondaq. The full text also is pasted below.

A Global View Of Mesotheliomas And Asbestos Litigation: Both Are Many Years Away From Peaking When Looking Outside The US

[Editor’s Note: Jessica B. Horewitz and Kirk T. Hartley are Directors with Gnarus Advisors LLC with offices in Arlington, Alexandra, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles and Palo Alto. Dr. Horewitz holds a PhD in Economics from the University of Virginia, and is frequently involved in liability estimation, claims analysis, claim projections, and cash flow analysis in asbestos and other mass tort matters. As a trial lawyer and consultant, Mr. Hartley’s almost 30 years of experience have been concentrated on mass torts and other intersections between law and science. Commentary and opinions are personal to the authors, and do not reflect the opinions of Gnarus Advisors LLC, LSP Group LLC, or any of their clients. Copyright # 2012 by Jessica B. Horewitz and Kirk T. Hartley. Responses are welcome.]

Asbestos-caused disease – and resulting personal injury litigation – are sometimes viewed as uniquely American phenomena. But in fact asbestos-caused disease is growing around the world, resulting in several nations enacting asbestos compensation funds, and various nations experiencing increasing amounts of litigation seeking compensation for asbestos-caused injuries. The rising incidence of asbestos-related disease arises from historic patterns of use of the naturally-occurring mineral fiber. And, over the recent decades, asbestos use expanded in Asia, Africa, Russia1 and South America,2 thus setting in motion events predicted to cause future disease. The global spread of asbestos compensation payments and litigation is in turn a function of increasing disease, the increasingly global nature of tort litigation, and the power of the Internet, as well as alliances between lawyers and NGOS around the world.

I. Examples of Global Claiming

There are widespread examples of global asbestos claiming. Japan has both national asbestos compensation legislation,3 and lawsuits seeking damages for asbestos disease allegedly resulting from work at railroads and other employers.4 Korea also pays asbestos compensation. 5 The UK’s Supreme Court’s recently disappointed insurance companies by approving national legislation in Scotland to allow more asbestos-related litigation.6 Specifically, in Axa General Insurance Ltd. & Ors v. Lord Advocate & Ors [2011] UKSC 46,7 the court approved lawsuits to obtain compensation for pleural plaques, a condition associated with past asbestos inhalation, but which in general does not produce impairment of daily function. Elsewhere in Europe, France8 and Spain9 are experiencing increases in lawsuits seeking compensation for asbestos disease. South American workers exposed to asbestos also are increasingly involved in claiming; some have filed lawsuits in the U.S.,10 and victim’s rights groups continue to emerge and grow in Brazil and other nations.11

II. Mesotheliomas

Historic patterns of asbestos use are the root cause of today’s increasing rates of asbestos-related disease, and mesothelioma tumors are generally considered a signature disease arising from inhalation of asbestos. Mesothelioma is a highly lethal cancer arising in mesothelial cells. Most mesothelioma tumors arise in the lining around the lungs, and are referred to as pleural mesothelioma. Pathology and epidemiology in both humans and animals have tightly tied most of those tumors to past inhalation of asbestos fibers. There appears to be, however, some background rate of mesotheliomas that arise for presently unknown reasons.

Today, mesothelioma tumors increasingly arise in both men and women, and more and more of the mesothelioma tumors arise in the lining encasing organs in the abdomen. These ”peritoneal” mesothelioma tumors are more frequently appearing in women. Some of the women suffering from the tumors plainly did inhale asbestos fibers through their own work or through ”secondary exposures,” such as laundering the clothes of a family member who worked with asbestos fibers. But, in other instances, the women, researchers, and lawyers are able to identify few, if any, circumstances for past asbestos inhalation. Therefore, some lawyers, clinicians and researchers debate the number of peritoneal mesotheliomas actually caused by asbestos or whether the tumors arise from or are related to some other cause.12 In the United States, the vast majority of mesothelioma tumors end up in litigation (perhaps 2,000 per year), and defendants and insurers are paying claims for both pleural and peritoneal mesotheliomas.

III. Growing Frequency of Mesotheliomas Outside the United States

Mainstream thinking is that mesotheliomas have peaked in the U.S.13 In contrast, outside the U.S., the number of mesothelioma tumors is projected to continue increasing well into the 2020s, with some countries experiencing a disease rate almost 5 times greater than the disease rate in the United States. Around the globe, there are growing waves of mesothelioma tumors, and scientists predict the waves will continue to grow until at least 2040, as is detailed infra. The waves are expected to arrive in different nation at different times and with varying intensities. The variables arise from different patterns in terms of the types of asbestos fibers used, and the timing and amount of the use. For example, UK workers are suffering from mesothelioma tumors at a rate almost five times higher than the rate in the U.S., and the volume of tumors is predicted to continue to rise for many years.14 Naturally, questions are asked about why the rate of mesotheliomas is so much higher in the UK than in the U.S.

Some answers to the questionsmay be gleaned fromthe work of Dr. Julian Peto, a London-based epidemiologist with world-class skills,15 honors16 and reputation arising from decades of work on various health issues, with many involving cancers.17 Dr. Peto’s publications identify multiple factors as causing the increasing waves of mesotheliomas, and include a 1999 paper in Nature, titled the European Mesothelioma Epidemic.18 That paper was updated in 2004 by others involved in the 1999 paper.19 A 2009 paper for the HSE provides even later data.20

One factor is widespread use of asbestos-containing products in the UK well into the 1980s. In contrast, U.S. asbestos exposures apparently were reduced significantly in the 1970s due to federal regulations such as OSHA workplace rules and NESHAP regulations to restrict release of asbestos fibers during building demolition and renovation. Ironically, the UK had enacted asbestos limits21 earlier than they were put in place in the U.S., but the regulations were less stringent than in the U.S.,22 and did not cause the markets to more broadly eliminate the use of asbestos-containing products.

IV. Amosite Fiber Use

Among other things, various of Dr. Peto’s papers relate the higher UK’s higher mesothelioma rate to its larger and later use of amosite fibers, a brown-colored asbestos fiber that is part of a class of asbestos fibers known as amphibole fibers. The fibers were mined primarily in South Africa,23 and indeed the word amosite is a loose anagram for asbestos from mines of South Africa. The amosite fibers are generally considered far more carcinogenic than are white (chrysotile) fibers. The amphibole fibers are in general thought to be more potent because of much higher ”biopersistence,” meaning the time the fibers remain inside living creatures before they are removed by bodily defense mechanisms. The amphibole fibers also are needle-like in structure, and contain higher contents of minerals such as iron, which some suspect may play a role in the disruption of cellular signaling systems related to development of cancer.

The variables, however, are still the subject of study. And, arguments about carcinogenicity are complicated by the fact that some white (chrysotile) fibers are mined from ore said to be ”pure” while other chrysotile fibers are said to include some degree of ”contamination” by small amounts of amphibole fibers present in the ore. But, the broader point made by Dr. Peto is that the amphibole fibers unquestionably are more ”toxic,” and there also is plain documentation to prove that relatively large amounts of amosite fibers were in use in theUK until at least 1980, with many of the fibers used in asbestos-cement boards used in building construction. As a result, carpenters and other tradesman in the UK face mesothelioma disease rates far higher than counterparts in other countries. Thus, a 2009 paper by Dr. Peto and others includes the following comment: ”An important factor underlying the very high risk in British construction workers, particularly carpenters, is likely to be the widespread use of power tools on amosite insulation board, which continued with no effective dust control until the 1980s.”24

V. Global Mesothelioma Projections

Dr. Peto has at various times presented calculations setting out curves projecting mesothelioma deaths around the world. The numbers of course are not gospel, and various models can be used to project cancers in general and mesothelioma in particular. But Dr. Peto’s projections draw on years of work, including detailed scientific publications in peer-reviewed journals. During 2008 and 2009, Dr. Peto traveled and presented talks25 and informal PowerPoint presentations for discussion and consideration by other medical professionals. His July 24, 2009 presentation in Boston26 included a PowerPoint presentation with projections based on a model that assumes that after asbestos exposure has largely stopped, the mesothelioma rate in each birth cohort follows the same age-distribution in all countries.27

Dr. Petos’s 2009 presentation at Harvard includes a chart projecting approximately 447,000mesotheliomas in some but not all countries of the world during the period from 2000 – 2049.28 Those significant numbers do not include projections for China, Indonesia, India or Russia, which all are significantly involved in mining of asbestos fibers ormanufacturing of products containing asbestos. Therefore, the aggregate number of mesotheliomas will surely go well past half a million deaths over 50 years, which means an annual average of at least ten thousand mesotheliomas – and probably deaths – unless science can find a way to slow, stop or repair the pathways to cancer. The aggregate regionalized projections are set out in the table below:

IMAGE A

VI. Projected Peak Years

Dr. Peto’s presentation also included curves projecting the years in which regions may see the peak waves of mesotheliomas, the approximate numbers at the peak, and curves projecting the annual rate at whichmesotheliomas will continue but decline. The curves are simply that, and are not tables of precise numbers. Numbers derived from observation of the curve are set out in the table below, and are for male deaths only based on an assumption of largely no asbestos exposure for men born after either 1970 or after 1960. The curves are not identical, and so the numbers below are approximate interpretations from viewing the tables.

IMAGE B

Numbers of the sort above are only projections, and other scientists derive other numbers using different modeling assumptions. But the numbers are all significant, and are drawing increasing attention fromgovernments, insurers, victims, persons at risk, corporate risk managers, corporations facing evolving accounting rules regarding disclosures of contingent risks, and lawyers and businesspersons in all phases of the modern, global litigation industry.

VII. Asbestos Use and Asbestos Bans

In view of the number of the sort above, an NGO (International Ban Asbestos Secretariat – IBAS) has for more than a decade worked for and achieved asbestos use bans in many countries.29 Nonetheless, asbestos use also is continuing and expanding in some countries. Thus, asbestos use is growing in China, India, Indonesia and other developing countries, especially through asbestos-cement building products.30 Due to increased demand for asbestos fibers, investors are trying to reopen old chrysotile fiber mines in Canada31 and Africa,32 and existing mines continue operations in places such as Asbest, a mining town in the Russian Ural Mountains. The Uralasbest mine annually generates a half million metric tons of fiber from its 1,000 foot deepmine that is about half the size ofManhattan – its length is 11 km (7 miles) and its width is 2.5 km 5 miles).33

The arguments on asbestos use are difficult. At least in theory, the products can be safely manufactured in well-run facilities, and users would always exercise caution when installing the products or remodeling a building containing asbestos-cement board. But theory is not always reality, and the world literature includes numerous examples of ongoing, horrific conditions in manufacture and use.34 Therefore, mistaken judgments may well produce many deaths and significant suffering.

VIII. Growth in Asbestos Claiming Outside the US

The growing disease rates are accompanied by increasing claiming arising in a variety of ways and in part driven by global linkages through the Internet and alliances between firms. In civil law countries such as France and Italy, more claiming is occurring, including former employees pursuing claims against former employers. In Italy, two former Eternit officers recently were found guilty of criminal charges involving dangerous working conditions, and were held liable for civil claims involving hundreds of former employees of Eternit plants involved in manufacturing asbestoscement products.35 In the Eternit proceedings, damages for civil claimants were set at ?30,000 for all deceased victims and ?35,000 for current claimants. The Eternit decision also included an award of damages to an Italian government agency (INAIL) which had asserted cost recovery claims related to amounts paid out for pensions and medical payments.

NGOs and law firms also are driving increasing claiming. One U.S. plaintiff’s firm sponsors the World Asbestos report, a website devoted to asbestos use and claiming around the world.36 Meanwhile, IBAS also has organized ”victim’s rights” groups around the world.37 Meanwhile, international disease claims can flow into some but not all asbestos trusts created during bankruptcy proceedings in the U.S. and the UK,38 as well as into private trusts created to resolve claims from African asbestos miners.39 Accordingly, there are asbestos-focused plaintiff’s firms around the globe, including Australia’s Slater & Gordon,40 and the UK’s Leigh Day and Co.41 Other firms mention Spanish language skills42 or sponsor Spanish language websites which promote asbestos-claiming.43

Meanwhile, prominent U.S. plaintiff’s firms increasingly promote their global alliances of lawyers. Thus, South Carolina based Motley Rice uses its website to describe a ”global network of lawyers” able to represent clients ”anywhere in the United States and several countries around the world.”44 On the west coast, the home page of the website for the Kazan McClain firm refers to having represented clients ”across the United States, and in Canada,Mexico and the United Kingdom.”45

A recent merger between an Australian law firm and a UK law firm further highlights the increasing globalization of personal injury litigation. On January 30, 2012, Australia’s Slater and Gordon announced its GBP 53.8 million acquisition of Russell Jones & Walker, a UK law firm.46 Both firms were built around personal injury claims, including asbestos claims. RJ & W also owns a brand known as Claims Direct – a process for attracting and managing litigation for individuals, and the third most recognized legal brand in personal injury litigation in the UK.47 Asbestos claiming no doubt will be part of future growth of the combined firms.

IX. Conclusion

With asbestos use and disease increasing around the world, the asbestos litigation industry inevitably will continue to expand. Like multinational manufacturers, plaintiff’s firms are entrepreneurially looking around the world for ways to grow their business. The claiming may not all take place through litigation – some governments and private companies have created compensation funds as alternatives to litigation. Overall, however, it appears inevitable that both mesotheliomas and litigation will continue to increase for many years.

Footnotes

1. http://www.publicintegrity.org/investigations/asbes tos/consumption/

2. https://www.globaltort.com/2011/08/asbestosmining- and-production-of-chrysotilecontainingproducts- is-going-full-bore-in-brazil-/

3. http://ibasecretariat.org/lka-support-japan-asbestosvictims- 2011.php((last visited February 10, 2012).

4. http://ibasecretariat.org/lka_leg_vict_railway_ wrkrs_japan.php

5. http://www.jniosh.go.jp/en/indu_hel/pdf/IH_47_ 2_113.pdf (last visited February 10, 2012).

6. http://www.scotland.gov.uk/News/Releases/2011/ 10/12104558

7. http://www.supremecourt.gov.uk/docs/UKSC_ 2011_0108_Judgment.pdf

8. http://www.lexology.com/library/detail.aspx?g= 61671856-e9ef-485a-b2f5-e6d485c8969d

9. https://www.globaltort.com/2010/07/spanish-trialcourt- enters-judgment-for-plaintiffs-in-a-lawsuitregarding- neighborhood-exposure-to-asbestos-froma- factory/

10. http://www.martindale.com/environmental-law/ article_Edwards-Angell-Palmer-Dodge-LLP_106 2278.htm

11. http://www.publicintegrity.org/investigations/asbes tos/articles/entry/2186/

12. http://www.hse.gov.uk/research/rrpdf/rr696.pdf

13. http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/ mm5815a3.htm

14. http://www.hse.gov.uk/research/rrpdf/rr696.pdf

15. http://www.medicine.manchester.ac.uk/oeh/abou tus/events/lane/petohondoctoralcitation.pdf

16. http://www.icr.ac.uk/press/press_archive/press_ releases_2010/15143.shtml (press release on IARC’s 2010 Medal of Honour for Dr. Peto)

17. http://www.ph.ucla.edu/epi/faculty/zhang/Webpa ges/zhang/session-1-3-peto-j.pdf

18. http://www.nature.com/bjc/journal/v79/n3/abs/ 6690105a.html

19. http://www.nature.com/bjc/journal/v90/n5/full/ 6601638a.html

20. http://www.hse.gov.uk/research/rrpdf/rr696.pdf

21. http://www.parliament.uk/documents/commons/ lib/research/rp99/rp99-081.pdf (at 25)

22. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9689805

23. http://hesa.etui-rehs.org/uk/newsevents/files/Asbes tosminingSA.pdf

24. http://www.hse.gov.uk/research/rrpdf/rr696.pdf

25. http://archive.uninews.unimelb.edu.au/view-56 023.html (web site announcement of talk, and highlights)

26. http://www.brighamandwomens.org/Departments_ and_Services/surgery/services/ thoracicsurgery/servi ces/mesothelioma/International_Mesothelioma_ Program_Seminars.aspx?sub=3

27. The presentation was at one time online at the source cited in the preceding footnote. A copy is on file with the authors of this paper.

28. Id.

29 http://ibasecretariat.org/

30. http://www.publicintegrity.org/investigations/asbes tos/consumption/

31. https://www.globaltort.com/2011/10/the-cana dian-asbestos-mining-saga-goes-on-a-letter-fromthe- would-be-ownerinvestor-what-laws-shouldapply/

32. https://www.globaltort.com/2011/10/asbestosmine- in-zimbabwe-also-is-viewed-as-a-source-forjobs/

33. http://www.publicintegrity.org/investigations/asbes tos/articles/entry/2187/

34. http://www.publicintegrity.org/investigations/ asbestos/

35. See http://asbestosinthedock.ning.com (website devoted to Eternit trial).

36. http://worldasbestosreport.org/

37. http://ibasecretariat.org/ (see sidebar – support groups)

38. http://www.bwasbestostrust.com/news_details.asp? nid=83 (see approved site lists)

39. http://www.asbestostrust.co.za/index.htm

40. http://www.slatergordon.com.au/

41. http://www.leighday.co.uk

42. http://www.floridamesotheliomahelp.com/

43. http://www.mesoteliomaespanol.com/

44. http://www.motleyrice.com/co-counsel-resources

45. http://www.kazanlaw.com/

46. http://www.abajournal.com/news/article/austra lias_slater_gordon_snaps_up_uk_personal_injury_ firm_russell_jones_wal/

47. http://www.claimsdirect.co.uk/injury-claims

A July 3, 2015 article in The Northern Echo in the UK brings news of another suit against Cape entities. Mr. Stephenson, the plaintiff, has gone three rounds with cancer:  “Colin Stephenson, 66, had his voicebox removed due to cancer in 2009, lost part of his lung to the disease six months later and is now fighting lung cancer a second time.Ex-employee sues asbestos firm for cancer pain.”  Cape entities remain in play for multiple reasons, including the Adams v. Cape ruling in 2012. Views on that ruling are here from the defense side, and here from the plaintiff side. 

The article about Mr. Stephenson states the following:

” 6:07am Friday 3rd July 2015

By Mark Tallentire

A FORMER asbestos worker who is fighting cancer for a third time is suing his old employer for his “five years of pain and suffering”.

Colin Stephenson, 66, had his voicebox removed due to cancer in 2009, lost part of his lung to the disease six months later and is now fighting lung cancer a second time.

He is seeking compensation from Cape Insulation, better known as Cape Asbestos, which employed hundreds of people in Bowburn, County Durham and where Mr Stephenson worked from 1967 to 1991.
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The grandfather-of-two, from Ferryhill, said: “I have suffered five years of pain and suffering and have undergone a variety of procedures and treatments, I believe, as a result of inhaling asbestos dust and fibres over the years I worked closely with the material.

“I hope that my legal team at Irwin Mitchell will be able to get justice for me and provide the answers I need about why more was not done to protect me, and my colleagues, from the risks associated with asbestos.”

In 2013, The Northern Echo reported how cancer sufferer Caroline Wilcock, who grew up in Bowburn, had become the first person to successfully sue Cape’s successors for damages without having worked in the factory.

She recalled happily playing snowball fights with friends as a child – blissfully unaware the “snow” they were throwing at each other was deadly asbestos dust.

Mr Stephenson, who made asbestos sheeting and insulation, said the factory floor was extremely dusty and dust and fibres were released into the air and covered his hands and overalls.

Roger Maddocks, from Irwin Mitchell, said: “Colin has suffered a significant amount of pain and a number of invasive procedures and understandably he wants to know the reasons behind the illness he has suffered.

“Sadly, many employers fail to act to protect their workers from the consequences of exposure to asbestos, despite knowing how dangerous it is, and we hope that by issuing court proceedings we can secure justice for Colin and get the answers he so desperately needs.”

Anyone with information on the conditions at Cape Asbestos is asked to call Katie Faulds on 0191-279-0142.

Cape did not respond to the Echo’s request for comment.”

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A newly published study provides new asbestos data from Italy as to apparent sources of mesotheliomas.  Note especially the data regarding apparent non-occupational sources of disease.

“Abstract
Introduction Italy produced and imported a large amount of raw asbestos, up to the ban in 1992, with a peak in the period between 1976 and 1980 at about 160 000 tons/year. The National Register of Mesotheliomas (ReNaM, “Registro Nazionale dei Mesoteliomi” in Italian), a surveillance system of mesothelioma incidence, has been active since 2002, operating through a regional structure.

Methods The Operating Regional Center (COR) actively researches cases and defines asbestos exposure on the basis of national guidelines. Diagnostic, demographic and exposure characteristics of non-occupationally exposed cases are analysed and described with respect to occupationally exposed cases.

Results Standardised incidence rates for pleural mesothelioma in 2008 were 3.84 (per 100 000) for men and 1.45 for women, respectively. Among the 15 845 mesothelioma cases registered between 1993 and 2008, exposure to asbestos fibres was investigated for 12 065 individuals (76.1%), identifying 530 (4.4%) with familial exposure (they lived with an occupationally exposed cohabitant), 514 (4.3%) with environmental exposure to asbestos (they lived near sources of asbestos pollution and were never occupationally exposed) and 188 (1.6%) exposed through hobby-related or other leisure activities. Clusters of cases due to environmental exposure are mainly related to the presence of asbestos-cement industry plants (Casale Monferrato, Broni, Bari), to shipbuilding and repair activities (Monfalcone, Trieste, La Spezia, Genova) and soil contamination (Biancavilla in Sicily).

Conclusions Asbestos pollution outside the workplace contributes significantly to the burden of asbestos-related diseases, suggesting the need to prevent exposures and to discuss how to deal with compensation rights for malignant mesothelioma cases induced by non-occupational exposure to asbestos.”

Malignant mesothelioma due to non-occupational asbestos exposure from the Italian national surveillance system (ReNaM): epidemiology and public health issues, Occup Environ Med doi:10.1136/oemed-2014-102297.

Europe continues to see a growing focus on asbestos topics, including both non-litigation and litigation-related topics. An example arises from the new European Asbestos Forum, an international asbestos conference that will be held on May 27th in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. The location (I am told) “is a gorgeous hotel;  the beautiful 5-star NH Grand Hotel Krasnapolsky on Dam Square.”  Yvonne Waterman is the organisor; she is a smart Netherlands lawyer with extensive asbestos expertise and experience, generally towards the claimant’s side.  We met some years ago in London and she displayed a wealth of knowledge.

The conference also illustrates disease advocacy groups and other NGOs making increasing use of globe-spanning asocial media. For example, the conference has   a Facebook page, and a presence on Twitter: @EAFConference. The conference  web site explains the following and lays out the agenda. Note especially the following agenda items:

14.20 – 14.40 National diversity of compensation schemes, global economic relations and labour standards in supply chains, Christian Lahnstein LL.M. (Rachel Carson Center, Ludwig Maximilians Universität Munich)

“15.20 – 15.40 Asbestos related lung cancer – an underestimated causal link, Prof.Dr. Thomas Kraus (Institut für Arbeitsmedizin und Sozialmedizin Aachen)”

The conference includes a wide range of speakers and topics. Some in the defense camp in the US will discredit the entire conference because Dr. Lemen is a lead speaker.  That said, that view is rather limited. Multi-national entities need to recognize the reality that US defense camp views of regulation and litigation are not universally shared. Indeed, in Europe, not all view labour and employers as adverse, and there are a variety of compensation approaches around the world, as will be explained Mr. Christian Lahnstein (who is from the reinsurance world and is very knowledgeable).  It’s also worth noting that Europe  is the home for some cutting edge molecular research related to asbestos, cancer, genetics and epigenetics that is largely unknown in the US. (Sadly, almost all US defense interests continue to fail to invest in research regarding asbestos diseases even though those same interests are paying money to settle an enormous proportion of the annual mesotheliomas in the United States.)

The entire agenda is as follows:

“The aim of the Forum is to increase international networks and spread the best and newest asbestos knowledge at a high professional level, providing the best of global speakers and specialists. A delicious conference dinner will be served in the monumental Winter Garden of the venue.

08.45 – 09.15 Registration and light continental breakfast
09.15 – 09.25 Welcome, Yvonne Waterman (organiser, European Labour Forum)
Introduction of the Chairman, Hans van der Wart (Shield Group International)

Plenaire sessie / plenary session in the Grand Ballroom

09.25 – 09.50 Opening speech, Marcelis Boereboom (Director General of the Ministry for Social Affairs and Employment)
09.50 – 10.10 A message from Independent Asbestos Training Providers, Wayne Williams (IATP)
10.20 – 10.40 Improving asbestos labour conditions by sharing information, Mark Wit (Oesterbaai)
10.40 – 10.50 Break
10.50 – 11.10 What asbestos means to me, Eric Jonckheere (ABEVA)
11.10 – 12.00 Keynote speech. High-risk occupations: the need for prevention, Dr. Richard Lemen USPHS (ret.) Ph.D., M.S.P.H., retired US Assistant Surgeon General and Acting Director of US National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health

12.00 – 13.00 Luncheon in the Winter Garden

Photo exhibition, Tony Rich a.k.a. Asbestos Hunter / Asbestorama
Asbestos cabinet, Harry Vonk (Teamplayer)

A Asbestos & Labour

13.00 – 13.20 The Italian fight against Eternit, Nicola Pondrano (CGIL)
13.20 – 13.40 Asbestos and the installation sector: a fine line between H&S and environment, Arco Engelen (Dutch Social Partners)
13.40 – 14.00 The Dutch approach of asbestos victims: plenty of room to grow! Lydia Charlier LL.M., Beer Lawyers
14.20 – 14.40 National diversity of compensation schemes, global economic relations and labour standards in supply chains, Christian Lahnstein LL.M. (Rachel Carson Center, Ludwig Maximilians Universität Munich)
14.40 – 15.00 Break
15.00 – 15.20 Turkish asbestos awareness and regulation increasing, -beleid, Dilan Yesilyurt (Turkish Ministery for Labour and Social Security, Occupational Health and Safety Institute)
15.20 – 15.40 Asbestos in schools, Wayne Williams (DMW Safety)
15.40 – 16.00 Panel debate
16.00 – 16.15 Break and return to the Grand Ballroom

B Asbestos & Technological Developments

13.00 – 13.20 The asbestos incubator technique, Ruud Janssen (Dutch asbestos removal company Het Zuiden)
13.20 – 13.40 The use of technology to deliver competence, Nick Garland (Assure Risk Management)
13.40 – 14.00 Asbestos stripping in the USA, Tony Rich (DMW Safety)
14.20 – 14.40 English asbestos stripping innovations, Mark Winter (SMH Products)
14.40 – 15.00 Break
15.00 – 15.20 The importance of a real estate register, Ir. Joris Gribnau (Shield Group International)
15.20 – 15.40 Differences in European asbestos legislation and practice, Dr. Herm Zweerts (Arcadis)
15.40 – 16.00 Panel debate
16.00 – 16.15 Break and return to the Grand Ballroom

C Asbestos, European Policy & Raising Awareness

13.00 – 13.20 Asbestos Removal Companies: regulatory control in Spain, dr. Gonzalo Zufia (the Spanish Asbestos Removal Contractors Association ANEDES)
13.20 – 13.40 The importance of asbestos awareness, Barry Robson
13.40 – 14.00 Asbestos: distorted risk perception, Linda Reinstein (Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization)
14.20 – 14.40 Hopeful treatment of asbestos cancers, Prof. Nico van Zandwijk (Asbestos Diseases Research Institute)
14.40 – 15.00 Break
15.00 – 15.20 Asbestos Liability in the US: The never ending story, Daniël Maranger LL.M. (Munich Re)
15.20 – 15.40 Asbestos related lung cancer – an underestimated causal link, Prof.Dr. Thomas Kraus (Institut für Arbeitsmedizin und Sozialmedizin Aachen)
15.40 – 16.00 Panel debate
16.00 – 16.15 Break and return to the Grand Ballroom

Plenary session in the Grand Ballroom

16.15 – 16.25 Special Recognition Award
16.25 – 16.30 Concluding speech, Yvonne Waterman and Hans van der Wart (Shield Group International)

Convivial closing drinks for networking

Optionally: Conference Dinner”

A pop quiz:  Does the  “growing numbers of steelworkers” headline refer to former steelworkers in Pennsylvania, Ohio or both?

The correct answer is: Wales.

The April 3, 2015 article from Wales Online begins as follows:

“Large numbers of steelworkers are coming forward to make asbestos-related health claims connected with their work at a number of steelworks operated during the 1950s, ‘60s and ‘70s, lawyers have said.A number of workers and their relatives from the former – now demolished – British Steel-owned plant in Port Talbot and the Llanwern steelworks are now coming forward after being diagnosed with asbestos-related diseases.

The claims are historic and are not in any way connected with the modern Port Talbot steel mill or the way the Llanwern mill in Newport (which opened in 1961) was run after the 1970s.

One law firm said in the past year it has seen a 40% increase in claims from steelworks in the area and is currently working on cases connected to the old Port Talbot plant and Llanwern as it was run in the 1960s and 1970s and warned that many more could surface.

A number of ex-workers from the 1960s and 1970s are believed to have died from the asbestos related cancer mesothelioma, which is linked with past exposure to asbestos dust.”