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22 July 2015

Report on MNUMS and CR Conference held in Ulaanbaatar, MN June 2015

The Mongolian National University of Medical Science (MNUMS) and the Collegium Ramazzini (CR) organized a Conference on Occupational and Environmental Health in Construction and Mining Sectors on 22-24 June 2015 in Ulaanbaatar, MN. The audience of approximately 70 included representatives from the Mongolian Construction and Mining sectors, NGOs, labor and Mongolian Government including the Ministry of Labor.

The Mongolian National University of Medical Science (MNUMS) and the Collegium Ramazzini (CR) organized a Conference on Occupational and Environmental Health in Construction and Mining Sectors on 22-24 June 2015 in Ulaanbaatar, MN. The audience of approximately 70 included representatives from the Mongolian Construction and Mining sectors, NGOs, labor and Mongolian Government including the Ministry of Labor.

Participating CR Fellows included: Arthur Frank, Carol Rice, Morando Soffritti, Margrit von Braun, and Denny Dobbin. CR Fellow Knut Ringen helped substantially with conference planning, especially on the Construction Sector part of the program, and submitted a paper on the Principles of Occupational Safety and Injury Prevention, that was read at the conference. Also participating from abroad were Ian von Lindern, Casey Bartrem, Tom Gassert, Elke Brinkmann and Petr Sharov.

As international guests at the MNUMS, we were enthusiastic about the potential of helping with occupational and environmental health problems there to supplement recent activities by CR Fellow Ellen Silbergeld and Johns Hopkins University through their Fogarty grant. CR Fellow Ken Takahashi from Japan has students from Mongolia and our colleagues from the Korea OSHA have given technical support and training over the past several years. Elke Brinkmann is a German Occupational Physician who has just started with the Mongolian Occupational Health Research Center, and is supported by GIZ the German development agency.

Conference topics covered: 1) Development of Occupational and Environmental Health in Mongolia; 2) Principles of Occupational and Environmental Health; 3) OSH in the Construction Sector in Mongolia; 4) OSH in Mining Sector in Mongolia; 5) Protecting Communities With Respect to Mining Waste Management and Remediation in Mongolia. Small-group discussion was held among participants to develop recommendations for action plans for next steps for OSH in Construction and Mining Sectors in Mongolia.

Recommendations were made regarding actions and key players necessary to effect change. These were made in summary and reported in the final session of the conference and will soon to be made available in English. Following the conference the CR delegation met with President Batbaatar Gunchin, MNUMS and Dean Chimedsuren Ochir, School of Public Health, MNUMS and elected CR Fellow about a possible agreement for future collaboration with the Collegium Ramazzini. We also met with Ochirbat Dagvadorj, Director of the Occupational Health Research Center, Ministry of Labor of Mongolia, who also expressed interest in future collaboration with the Collegium Ramazzini. The conference planning committee included co-chairs Arthur Frank and Naransukh Damiran, and Knut Ringen and Denny Dobbin.

13 July 2015

In Memorium: Collegium Ramazzini Fellow Paul J. Lioy

The Collegium Ramazzini is deeply saddened by the premature loss of Fellow Paul J. Lioy, an active member since 1998. Colleagues at Rutgers have created a memorial website to honor Paul: http://paullioy.com/. The following obituary appeared in the New York Times on Sunday 12 July 2015.

Paul Lioy, Scientist Who Analyzed 9/11 Dust and Its Health Effects, Dies at 68
Paul J. Lioy, an environmental scientist widely known for his analysis of the dust spawned by the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and for his studies of its health effects over time, died on Wednesday after collapsing at Newark Liberty International Airport. He was 68.
The cause had not been determined, his wife, Jean Lioy, said.
Dr. Lioy was an internationally renowned authority on exposure science, a field concerned chiefly with pollutants and toxins that straddles environmental science and occupational health. He was the author of "Dust: The Inside Story of Its Role in the September 11th Aftermath", a book for a general readership published in 2010.
At his death he was a professor of environmental and occupational health of the Rutgers University School of Public Health, in Piscataway, N.J., as well as the department's deputy director for government relations.
From his home in Cranford, N.J., Dr. Lioy could see the plumes of dust that rose from the ruins of the trade center towers on Sept. 11, 2001. A million tons of dust would rain down on Lower Manhattan.
Once his initial horror at the spectacle subsided, the scientist in him began to wonder just what was in that dust.
"It was unprecedented in terms of the complex characteristics of the materials released", Dr. Lioy told The Asbury Park Press in 2011.
He was one of the first scientists to gather samples from the scene, arriving to find a fluffy gray dust so profuse, The New York Times reported, that he and his colleagues simply scooped it from the windshields of nearby cars and secured it in Teflon bags.
"It had a weird texture and color to it", Dr. Lioy told The Times in 2005.
The samples were dispatched for laboratory analysis. The results indicated the presence of elements that included chromium, aluminum, barium, titanium, mercury and lead; jet-fuel components; cellulose from paper and cotton; particles of wood, plastic, glass, asbestos and concrete; and organic matter that Professor Lioy, with circumspection and great tenderness, described as containing "everything we hold dear."
The findings allayed a potential health concern - asbestos-related illnesses - while illuminating an actual one: the persistent cough and other respiratory symptoms developed by some police officers, firefighters, construction workers and residents.
"In the first 48 hours, the government was concerned about asbestos being the primary threat", Dr. Lioy explained a decade after the attacks in an interview on the Rutgers website. "But it was not. Asbestos exposure is a long-term problem. Once the "World Trade Center cough" started appearing, we realized it wasn't caused by asbestos."
Three things, he continued, caused the cough.
"First, cement dust was very alkaline - the pH was above 10", he said. "That irritated the linings of the lungs. Second, glass fibers got stuck in people's upper airways, like wooden logs in a narrow stream. That trapped the cement particles and enhanced the irritation. And there were very coarse particles that comprised the vast quantity of the dust mass."
Paul James Lioy was born on May 27, 1947, in Passaic, N.J. He earned a bachelor's degree in physics from Montclair State College, as it was then known, followed by a master's degree in the field from Auburn University in Alabama and master's and doctoral degrees in environmental science from Rutgers.
As a researcher, Dr. Lioy was associated for many years with the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, which was largely absorbed into Rutgers in 2013. He was previously affiliated with New York University and Robert Wood Johnson Medical School.
Over the years his other work included research on oil spills, ozone pollution and household pesticides. Dr. Lioy was part of a team of scientists that in 1988 found no connection between the environment around the Meadowlands Sports Complex in East Rutherford, N.J., and various cancers. The study was undertaken after four members of the New York Giants football team developed cancer within an eight-year span.
Besides his wife, the former Jean Yonone, whom he married in 1971, Professor Lioy's survivors include his mother, also named Jean Lioy; a son, Jason; a sister, Mary Jean Giannini; and two grandchildren.
His other books include "Exposure Science: Basic Principles and Applications" (2014), written with Clifford Weisel.
Even a decade after Sept. 11, Dr. Lioy and his colleagues faced empirical questions about the long-term health consequences of the attacks.
"We understand the respiratory effects of the disaster, but cancer is still a big unknown", he said in the Rutgers interview. At this point, there are no truly quantifiable higher incidences of cancer attributed to 9/11. Still, we must remember that in the general population, about one in four Americans contracts a form of that disease. So the data will have to be examined carefully going forward."

24 June 2015

The Collegium Ramazzini Releases Official Position on The Global Health Dimensions of Asbestos and Asbestos-related Diseases

18th statement of the international academy affirms long-standing position calling for a ban on all mining, manufacture and use of asbestos.

The Collegium Ramazzini (CR), an international academy of 180 scientists from 35 countries, experts in environmental and occupational health, has released an official statement on the global health dimensions of asbestos and asbestos-related diseases.

Asbestos is a proven cause of human cancer, and all forms of asbestos have been listed as definite human carcinogens by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, the cancer agency of the World Health Organization. Since 1993, the Collegium Ramazzini has repeatedly called for a global ban on all mining, manufacture and use of asbestos. The Collegium has taken this position based on well-validated scientific evidence showing that all types of asbestos, including chrysotile, the most widely used form, cause cancers such as mesothelioma and lung cancer, and showing additionally that there is no safe level of exposure. The Collegium reaffirms its long-standing position that responsible public health action is to ban all extraction and use of asbestos, including chrysotile. This current statement updates earlier statements by the CR with a focus on global health dimensions of asbestos and asbestos-related diseases (ARDs).

Occupational exposure to asbestos causes an estimated 107,000 deaths each year worldwide. These deaths result from asbestos-related lung cancer (ARLC), mesothelioma and asbestosis. In countries having banned asbestos, as well as in countries still using asbestos, a large number of workers remain at high risk of developing ARDs from past exposure, in particular lung cancers and mesotheliomas. Most of these previously exposed people remain in the general population without any ongoing health monitoring. The Collegium recommends that countries develop strategies for identifying their previously and currently asbestos-exposed workers, to quantify their exposure, and register them, subsequently developing methods for continuous health surveillance and secondary prevention. In addition to workers there should be monitoring of household members of workers if they bring asbestos into their homes.

The ARD epidemic will likely not peak for at least a decade in most industrialized countries and for several decades in industrializing countries. Asbestos and ARDs will continue to present challenges in the arena of occupational medicine and public health as well as in clinical research and practice, and have thus emerged as a global health issue. Industrialized countries that have already gone through the transition to an asbestos ban have learned lessons and acquired know-how and capacity that could be of great value if deployed in industrializing countries embarking on the transition. The accumulated wealth of experience and technologies in industrialized countries should thus be shared internationally through global campaigns to eliminate ARDs.

Collegium Ramazzini Fellow Ken Takahashi, Professor of Environmental Epidemiology and Director of the WHO Collaborating Centre for Occupational Health at the University of Occupational and Environmental Health (UOEH), Kitakyushu, Japan, notes "The highest priority in reducing ARDs is primary prevention; that is, banning asbestos use in countries where it remains legal and preventing exposure to in situ sources in all countries with historical asbestos use."

Collegium Ramazzini President Philip J. Landrigan, MD, MSc, Dean for Global Health and Ethel H. Wise Professor and Chairman of the Department of Preventive Medicine in the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai School in New York comments: "Given that ARDs are 100% preventable, zero new cases of ARDs should be the ultimate goal for both industrializing and industrialized countries. The pandemic of ARDs is an urgent international priority for action by public health workers."

Download here:
- The Global Health Dimensions of Asbestos and Asbestos-Related Diseases (2015)
- Press release 24 June 2015

Related positions of the Collegium Ramazzini, including:
- Asbestos is Still With Us: Repeat Call for a Universal Ban (2010)
- Call for an International Ban on Asbestos: Statement Update (2004)
- Call for an International Ban on Asbestos (1999)
- Chrysotile Asbestos as a Carcinogen (1993)

Press contact:
Collegium Ramazzini
Kathryn Knowles

01 May 2015

Save the Date > Ramazzini Days 2015 > October 22-25

Please mark your calendars now for a special 3-day edition of Ramazzini Days, to be held in Carpi, Italy beginning at 15:00 on Thursday 22 October through 15:00 on Sunday 25 October 2015. This is the 10-year anniversary of the Collegium's "Living in a Chemical World" conference series and we will be celebrating by adding an additional day of scientific sessions to the annual meeting.
Ground transportation will be provided from the Bologna International Airport (BLQ) and from the historical center of Bologna on the morning of Thursday 22 October. Wednesday arrivals are invited to arrange accommodations in Bologna so as to use the conference transportation from the city center the following day.
Return travel should be planned for the afternoon of Sunday 25 October or Monday 26 October. Return ground transportation will be organized on both days from Carpi to BLQ and to the historical center of Bologna.
Train travellers should plan on booking a connection all the way to Carpi (trains run from Modena centrale every 30 minutes). No transportation will be provided from the Bologna or Modena train stations.
Online registration for the event will open in July.

Questions? Comments! Mail to: events@ramazzini.it