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Report: Dangers in the Dust

The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists has investigated industry efforts in developing countries to promote the use of asbestos – a deadly carcinogen banned or restricted in 52 countries. The report, Dangers in the Dust, is the result of a nine-month investigation done in partnership with the BBC’s International News Service.

The ICIJ documented the activities of a global network of industry groups, led by the Canadian Chrysotile Institute, which has helped promote the use of asbestos in the developing world. They have tracked nearly $100 million in public and private money spent by industry groups since the mid-1980s in just three countries, Canada, India, and Brazil. With the help of industry-funded scientists, such as David Bernstein who has traveled at industry expense to 19 countries promoting chrysotile, these groups attempt to stifle governmental efforts to regulate the deadly mineral.

Key findings of the ICIJ report:

• Industry groups based in Montreal, Mexico City, New Dehli, and elsewhere work together promoting chrysotile, claiming “controlled” use is safe.

• A new wave of asbestos-related disease is being created in the developing world. Dr. James Leigh, former director of the Sydney Centre for Occupational and Environmental Health in Australia, has “conservatively” estimated 5 million to 10 million deaths from asbestos-related cancers by 2030.

• Asbestos production has held steady at two million metric tons per year, in spite of worldwide bans and limitations on use.

• Each year, 100,000 workers die of asbestos-related diseases such as mesothelioma and lung cancer, according to the International Labor Organization. The World Health Organization says that 125 million workers are still exposed to asbestos.

Read more here.

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