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  • Writer's pictureKirk Hartley

Example of Why It May Pay to Give Effective Global Notice in Asbestos Bankruptcies

Here is an article from Japan this week that reports on finding Libby Mines vermiculite in buildings in Japan. The article claims the material was installed Zonolite. How can Judge Fitzgerald’s orders in the WR Grace case bind these building owners if they were not given effective notice in a language they understand ?

Note also that the article indicates SEM (scanning electron microscopy) is now being used overseas to find fiber types.


Highly toxic asbestos found in four buildings across Japan; current testing flawed

A widely-used building material has been found to contain asbestos in Tokyo, Hokkaido and Kagawa, in the first discovery of amphibole asbestos, the rarer and more dangerous variety of the toxic mineral, in buildings in Japan.

Asbestos fibers were found in at least four buildings: three community centers, one in Hokkaido and two in Kagawa Prefecture, and the ceiling of a private building in Tokyo. The latter three all used a vermiculite-based insulation called Zonolite. Measures to prevent the asbestos from scattering have already been taken at all the four buildings.

The findings were made by the Tokyo Occupational Safety and Health Center (TOSHC). Examining vermiculite containing relatively low-toxic serpentine asbestos using scanning electron microscopes, they found amphibole asbestos at concentrations of 0.1 to 1.5 percent — enough to designate it an asbestos-containing material.

The center also found that trace impurities of aluminum and sodium matched those of a vermiculite sample taken from a mine in Libby, Montana. A study there found that 18 percent of residents of Libby tested after complaining about various health problems were suffering from chest-lining abnormalities.

A standard method of testing for asbestos used in construction materials was introduced in June last year, which local governments and other organizations have used to conduct their own studies. However, center expert Naoki Toyama points out, “We detected (asbestos) using the ISO method. Under the standard method, however, asbestos could be overlooked.”

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