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Global Asbestos Conference

This week marks an important milestone in the history of the global ban asbestos network. On September 17, 2000, the landmark Global Asbestos Congress (GAC 2000) began in Osasco, Brazil. For the first time asbestos victims, trade unionists, and occupational and environmental health experts from around the world joined together in an effort to protect the rights of asbestos victims throughout the world. Nearly one hundred international guests and more than three hundred Brazilian delegates attended plenary sessions, workshops, and round-table discussions.

João de Souza, President of Brazilian Association of the Asbestos-Exposed (ABREA), Brazil attended the conference 10 years ago. “The GAC 2000 in Osasco brought us a new dimension in the struggle to ban asbestos. It was no longer a fight for national or local asbestos bans but a planetary struggle uniting citizens, activists, victims, politicians, unionists, students, and common people eager to eliminate the greatest industrial killer of all time. We left the conference stronger and much more confident in our skill to transform an unfair global situation.”

In the ten years since the first Global Asbestos Congress, over 50 countries have banned the deadly mineral. Research continues to develop new and improved treatments for asbestos-related diseases. Yet much work remains to be done. The World Health Organization estimates that today 125 million people are still occupationally exposed to asbestos. Asbestos may take as many as 10 million lives before it is finally banned worldwide. Each of these deaths could be prevented by a global ban on asbestos. The time has come.

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