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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.

24 March 2015

In Memorium: Collegium Ramazzini Emeritus Fellow Marek Jakubowski

Emeritus Fellow of the Collegium Ramazzini Marek Jakubowski passed away on 14 March 2015 after a two-year battle with cancer.
Professor Jakubowski was a member of the scientific staff of the Nofer Institute of Occupational Medicine in Lodz, Poland, its Scientific Secretary and the Head of the Department Chemical Hazards. In his research he focused mainly on the toxicology of heavy metals and on the development of biological monitoring of environmental and occupational exposures.
For the last few years he was the principal investigator of a research project aimed at the evaluation of health risks from exposure to cadmium, manganese and volatile organic compounds, supported by the Polish Government. He was also coordinator of research carried out in Poland and financed by the European Commission such as Gene polymorphism and biomonitoring of styrene, Development of a coherent approach to human biomonitoring in Europe, and by the European Chemical Industry Council on Biological monitoring of exposure- trends and key developments.
Professor Jakubowski was a member of the WHO task groups developing the Air Quality Guidelines for Europe and documents on the Health Risk of Heavy Metals and POPs from Long range Transboundary Air Pollution. He belonged to the ICOH Commission on Occupational Toxicology and the served as head of the commission preparing scientific documentation of Occupational Exposure Limits in Poland. He published over 120 scientific articles and book chapters (e.g. in Patty's Toxicology and Handbook on the Toxicology of Metals). He fully retired from the Institute two years ago.
Marek Jakubowski will be remembered as an excellent scientist and a colleague who gave great satisfactions to all those who were fortunate to cooperate with him or work under his leadership.
Marek is survived by his beloved wife Elzbieta, two sons and four grandchildren.

10 March 2015

The Collegium Ramazzini publishes its 17th position statement: Most Types of Cancer are Not Due to Bad Luck

The Collegium Ramazzini has published its 17th position statement entitled "Most Types of Cancer are Not Due to Bad Luck". The full text of the document and references may be downloaded here.

The Collegium Ramazzini strongly rejects the claim by Tomasetti and Vogelstein that 65% of cancers are due to "bad luck" and result from randomly acquired mutations of the genome (Tomasetti and Vogelstein 2015b). This claim is based on a skewed and highly selective reading of the literature. It examines only a fraction of cancers - 34% - in a single country - the United States (Wild et al. 2015). It ignores enormous differences in cancer incidence and mortality across countries (Wild et al. 2015) (Potter and Prentice 2015). It dismisses abundant clinical and epidemiological research that has discovered scores of environmental and occupational carcinogens to which millions of persons are exposed (Wild et al. 2015). It ignores the very great successes in cancer prevention that have been achieved by controlling exposures to known carcinogens (Ashford et al. 2015; Gotay et al. 2015; Potter and Prentice 2015; Song and Giovannucci 2015; Wild et al. 2015).

The spurious claim of Tomasetti and Vogelstein poses grave danger to public health. It has the potential to undermine governmental programs for cancer prevention and also to discourage individuals from making wise decisions to change lifestyle, diet, and other factors that can reduce exposures to carcinogens.

In rejecting the unsubstantiated claim by Tomasetti and Vogelstein, the Collegium Ramazzini is proud to join the International Agency for Research on Cancer (Wild et al. 2015) and distinguished scientists from around the world (Ashford et al. 2015; Gotay et al. 2015; Potter and Prentice 2015; Song and Giovannucci 2015). We fully endorse the IARC critique of the Tomasetti-Vogelstein report (Wild et al. 2015).

Finally, the Collegium Ramazzini notes that Tomasetti and Vogelstein failed to disclose potentially important financial conflicts of interest (Tomasetti and Vogelstein 2015b).

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