Infographic – cancers and their work causes

On 28 April 2019, International Workers’ Memorial Day, global union confederation ITUC is to campaign under the theme, ‘Taking control – removing dangerous workplace substances from the workplace.’

This year ITUCwill focus on Zero Cancer, with a new poster showing risk factors for cancers at work.

Infographic – Cancers and their work causes

Infografía – tipos de cáncer y causas relacionadas con el trabajo

El 28 de abril, Día de Conmemoración de los Trabajadores y Trabajadoras, nos organizaremos bajo el lema ““Tomar el control – eliminar sustancias peligrosas del lugar de trabajo”.

Este año nos centraremos en la campaña Cero Cáncer, publicando un nuevo póster que muestra los factores de riesgo de cáncer en el trabajo.

Infografía – Tipos de cáncer y causas relacionadas con el trabajo

Infographie – Les cancers et leurs causes professionnelles

À l’occasion de la Journée internationale de commémoration des travailleuses et des travailleurs le 28 avril, nous nous organiserons sur le thème « Prendre le contrôle – éliminer les substances dangereuses du lieu de travail ».

Cette année, nous mettrons l’accent sur la campagne zéro cancer. Trouvez ci-dessous une nouvelle affiche présentant les facteurs de risque des cancers au travail.

Infographie – Les cancers et leurs causes professionnelles PDF

Global trade union confederation ITUC aims to show killer chemicals the door

In a high profile new campaign, the global trade union confederation ITUC is calling for killer chemicals to be shown the door.

Sharan Burrow, the union body’s general secretary, says the chemical industry is set to grow four-fold by 2060 and warns hazardous exposures at work already claiming a million lives each year.

Writing in Hazards magazine, she warns the global industry “can get away with this because it resorts to illegal or unethical practices to bury the evidence of health risks linked to its products.” The workplace chemical exposures crisis is behind ITUC’s decision to renew its campaign to protect workers.

On International Workers’ Memorial Day on 28 April 2019 the union body has adopted the theme of ‘Taking control – removing dangerous substances from the workplace’, including an emphasis on a ‘Zero Cancer’ approach.

ITUC is urging reps to seek to eliminate or minimise exposure to carcinogens in the workplace and says a first of its kind ITUC at-a-glance guide to work cancers and their causes will ensure unions can identify and challenge preventable and potentially deadly exposures.

According to Burrow: “In human terms, the cost of hazardous workplace exposures is one worker death every 30 seconds.” She said prevention isn’t happening “because corporate chemistry has captured regulators, bribed obliging scientists and attacked its detractors.  It is a fatal endeavour that must be stopped.”

All out! Global union confederation ITUC wants to show killer chemicals the door, Hazards magazine, number 145, April 2019.
Assez! La Confédération syndicale internationale veut en finir avec les produits chimiques dangereux.
¡Todos fuera! La Confederación Sindical Internacional (CSI) muestra la puerta a los productos químicos asesinos.
ITUC/Hazards 28 April dedicated events and resources website.
ITUC 28 April webpages in English, French and Spanish.
28 April ITUC ‘Chemical reaction’ poster in English, French and Spanish.
Cancers and their work causes: An ITUC/Hazards at-a-glance guide to cancer hazards. Also in French and Spanish.

UK and US backed chemical lobby to block cancer warning on titanium dioxide

A suspected carcinogen found in spray paints, sun creams and varnishes many not now be required to carry a cautionary health label in the European Union, after lobbying led by the industry and the UK and US governments.

In what campaigners say is an unprecedented and potentially illegal step, the European Commission has dropped a recommendation from its chemicals advisers for mandatory health warnings on all inhalable liquid forms of titanium dioxide (TiO2). The regulation was drafted under what EU officials describe as “very heavy” pressure from industry, supported by the UK and the Trump White House.

Bas Eickhout, a Green MEP, said: “The commission is being weak on the chemical industry and watering down the meaning of REACH [chemicals] legislation, in a pattern that is becoming increasingly concerning. If the risk assessor has given clear warnings, the Commission cannot ignore them. As a parliament, we will absolutely push to make sure this does not happen.”

The European chemicals agency ECHA, the World Health Organisation (WHO) and US agencies had all declared titanium dioxide a suspected carcinogen. But the move to include a specific warning sparked a £12m industry-led pressure campaign, and intense lobbying led by the UK, focused on the “socioeconomic consequences” of health regulation. The line echoed that taken by the industry body TDMA.

One EU source, speaking to the Guardian on condition of anonymity, said: “I am ashamed to say I don’t know why we are derogating them. We should not be having a problem with this. I think it is because we received a lot of pressure from industry, particularly on paints. It has been the worst I have seen.” The source added: “Without proper labelling, people may not wear masks when they are using spray paints, and they would be exposed.”

A 13 April 2019 letter to the European Commission from the UN special rapporteur on toxics and human rights, Baskut Tuncak, expressed dismay at the successful lobbying by the industry, supported by the UK and US governments, that blocked a suspected carcinogen warning on TiO2.

The letter noted: “I am deeply concerned that withholding from workers, consumers, and the public at large, information concerning titanium dioxide’s suspected carcinogenic properties would deprive them of essential information that is their human right.

“Not only would access to such information promote principles of democratic societies and just institutions, but the withholding of such information would disrespect our human right to bodily integrity regarding exposure to a suspected carcinogen, and may unjustifiably impact the rights to life and health, among others. For workers in particular, this may be a form of exploitation by deception and violation and abuse of numerous rights encompassed by their right to safe and healthy working conditions.”

The UN special rapporteur’s letter added: “While the concerns raised in this letter are limited to the classification of titanium dioxide, I note a need for EU Member States to better integrate human rights considerations in the management of toxic chemicals and wastes. I would therefore welcome an opportunity to discuss further how the Commission at the regional and international level may further adopt human rights considerations in development of policy frameworks relating to chemicals and wastes.”

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Court overrules EC approval of cancer-causing chrome chemicals

The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) has banned with immediate effect the use of known carcinogens used for road markings and in paints and plastics.

The court’s Tribunal of the EU, which deals with disputes between EU institutions, ruled in the case brought by the Swedish government that an earlier European Commission decision to authorise uses of the chromium VI compounds, lead sulphochromate yellow and lead chromate molybdate red, was unlawful.

Just one company, Canada-based Dominion Colour Corporation (DCC), had applied for EU authorisation to sell pigments containing the two substances for use in road markings, metal paints and industrial plastics.

The European Commission, supported by the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA), argued that banning the use of these substances would be “disproportionate” considering that concerns over their health and environmental impact could be allayed by simply limiting their use.

DCC’s Maastricht-based subsidiary had said in its authorisation application that none of the alternatives available had the same characteristics as the lead chromates in question. However, both Sweden and the UK have banned the use of lead chromates in road marking paint, while evidence from other pigment manufacturers made it clear that “replacement solutions existed in the EU market for all the uses set out by DCC Maastricht in its authorisation request,” the tribunal concluded.

Environmental law group ClientEarth welcomed the ruling as a “huge victory for the environment and public health.”Alice Bernard, a chemicals lawyer for the group, said it was also a win for “the companies who had invested in safer solutions decades ago that the commission’s authorisation had effectively disadvantaged.”

Elise Vitali, policy officer on chemicals for the European Environmental Bureau (EEB), branded the original authorisation a “farce” that “exposes just how permissive the EU is to conservative business interests”. She added: “This shameful carte blanche has hammered the business case for developing safer alternative chemicals and rewarded those firms that are unable or unwilling to kick their toxic habits. We are happy to see the court remind officials that the law is the law.”

Europe’s cost-benefit chemical authorisations process is very unsafe

Europe’s system of ‘socio-economic’ cost-benefit calculations for authorising hazardous chemicals is so biased in favour of industry only one has been refused, according to a new report.

ChemSec, a non-profit advocating for safer alternatives to toxic chemicals, warns that an exemptions system included in the REACH chemical registration process has “become the back door for companies in order to continue their use of hazardous chemicals.” It adds that only a single authorisation has ever been denied by the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) during the twelve years of REACH.

‘Lost at SEA’, ChemSec’s new report, examines how the socio-economic analyses (SEAs) supposed to take account of health as well as economic factors are performed. “As part of the application process, the company is tasked with providing a socio-economic analysis. But since the burden of proof lies on the company itself to provide this information, it makes for a very one-sided analysis,” it notes. It adds: “The company needs to demonstrate that the societal benefits of continued use are greater than the risks, and according to the company applying for an authorisation, this is of course always the case.”

ChemSec says ‘soft values’ such as human health and protection of the environment do not fit into the equation and are mostly ignored. “The methodology has obvious limitations since human health and the environment in general are priceless. This is why it’s important to be very clear about what has been included in the analysis and what has been left out,” commented Frida Hök, senior policy adviser at ChemSec.

The group cites the example of shiny lipstick cases which, for decorative purposes, are often produced with the cancer-causing chemical chromium trioxide. The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) “went on to recommend the continued use of it just so that society can continue to enjoy this decorative feature. This really begs the question of just how important it is that lipstick cases are shiny, and whether this really can be labelled as beneficial for society.”

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Glyphosate scandal exposes need to ‘regulate the regulators’, says IUF

The campaign to stop glyphosate reauthorisation in the European Union failed, “but it succeeded brilliantly in exposing the agrochemical industry’s grip on the regulatory agencies tasked with protecting public health and the environment,” global food and farming union IUF has said.

An IUF briefing notes: “In the wake of the Monsanto Papers revelations and effective campaigns channelling public outrage over the EU’s farcical reauthorisation of the world’s most widely used herbicide, the European Parliament last year established a Special PEST Committee to examine the procedures under which pesticides are authorised for use in the European Union.

The PEST Committee’s report, released in December 2018 and approved by an overwhelming cross-party majority of the parliament on 16 January, catalogued the multiple failures of the authorisation process”.

The IUF briefing noted the scandal’s continuing ‘aftershocks’ have had a positive effect, with the EU Council and parliament on 11 February agreeing more rigorous risk assessment procedures. “The new procedures, if followed through on, mark a significant, if partial and preliminary, success for the glyphosate campaign,” it notes. “They fall short of the PEST recommendations (and the European Citizens’ Initiative demands), but can be a lever for prying loose the pesticide lobby’s hold on the public regulatory agencies.”

The briefing concludes: “A window has been opened; the pesticide lobby will be working intensely to slam it shut. Now is the time to step up organising on the broadest possible basis at national, European and international level for an immediate ban on the most toxic agrochemicals, targeted reductions in pesticide use and comprehensive support for a transition to socially and environmentally sustainable agriculture.”

Glyphosate cancer risk confirmed in new study

A new scientific analysis of the cancer-causing potential of glyphosate herbicides, the most widely used weed killing products in the world, has found that people with high exposures have a 41 per cent increased risk of developing a type of cancer called non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

The evidence “supports a compelling link” between exposures to glyphosate-based herbicides (GBH) and increased risk for non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL), the authors concluded. Monsanto and its German owner Bayer AG face more than 9,000 lawsuits in the US brought by people suffering from NHL who blame Monsanto’s glyphosate-based herbicides for their diseases.

The first plaintiff to go to trial, former schools groundskeeper Dewayne Johnson, won a unanimous jury verdict against Monsanto in August 2018, a verdict the company is appealing. The next trial, involving a separate plaintiff, is set to begin on 25 February, and several more trials are set for this year and into 2020.

The new analysis is a blow for Monsanto, which has criticised the probable cancer rating given to glyphosate by the International Agency for Research on Cancer. “This paper makes a stronger case than previous meta-analyses that there is evidence of an increased risk of NHL due to glyphosate exposure,” said Lianne Sheppard, a co-author of the new paper and a professor in the Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences department at the University of Washington. “From a population health point of view there are some real concerns.”

In addition to looking at the human studies, the researchers also scrutinised other types of glyphosate studies, including many conducted on animals. “Together, all of the meta-analyses conducted to date, including our own, consistently report the same key finding: exposure to GBHs are associated with an increased risk of NHL,” the scientists concluded.

28 April dangerous substances and work cancers campaign theme confirmed

Global union confederation ITUC has confirmed the theme for International Workers’ Memorial Day on 28 April 2019.

‘Taking control – removing dangerous substances from the workplace’ will be this year’s focus for what has become the world’s largest annual health and safety event. The union-led campaign will emphasise a ‘Zero Cancer’ approach, urging reps to seek to eliminate or minimise exposure to carcinogens in the workplace.

ITUC says it will be developing resources ahead of the event to support union preparation of campaign materials. It adds that new resources and events will be featured on the regularly updated dedicated www.28april.org webpages. It is urging organisations to use the hashtag #iwmd19. ITUC is also highlighting key existing resources:

The high profile event, which in 2018 saw tens of thousands of activities in over 70 countries, has ‘trended’ on twitter in recent years.

 

A continually-updated, annotated bibliography of occupational cancer research produced by Hazards magazine, the Alliance for Cancer Prevention and the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC).