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14 October 2015

The Collegium Ramazzini releases two special issue commentaries on the pathological diagnosis of the diseases causes by asbestos; and 2) the causation of malignant mesothelioma as related to asbestos exposure in the workplace

The Collegium Ramazzini, an international academy of 180 scientists from 35 countries, experts in environmental and occupational health, has added two additional commentaries to its twenty-five year record of denouncing the public health hazards of asbestos exposure.

The first, Comments on the 2014 Helsinki Consensus Report on Asbestos, recognizes the work of the 2014 expert committee convened by the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health to update the 1997 and 2000 Helsinki criteria on Asbestos, Asbestosis and Cancer in light of new advances in research. The Collegium however expresses concerns about the sections of the Helsinki report that discuss criteria for pathological diagnosis of the diseases caused by asbestos, specifically:
1) over-reliance on the detection of "asbestos bodies" as indicators of past exposure to asbestos;
2) over-reliance on asbestos fiber counts in lung tissue as an indicator of past exposure to asbestos;
3) use of the Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) at low magnification as a tool for evaluation of asbestos-related disease; and
4) lack of recognition that chrysotile is the predominant type of asbestos fiber found in pleural mesothelioma tissue.

The Collegium Ramazzini concludes that applying the 2014 Helsinki report recommendations on pathology diagnosis will lead to missed diagnoses of cases of disease caused by asbestos, failure of workers' compensation systems to properly compensate workers who have been exposed to asbestos, and lost opportunities for public health authorities to recognize asbestos hazards and to prevent asbestos-related disease.

The second, Comments on the causation of malignant mesothelioma, rebuts the false concept that recent exposures to asbestos do not contribute to causation of mesothelioma. Referencing the large number of cases of mesothelioma that have been brought to the attention of the Italian courts as possible occupational diseases, the Collegium Ramazzini concludes that risk of malignant mesothelioma is related to cumulative exposure to asbestos in which all exposures - early as well as late - contribute to the totality of risk.

The Collegium Ramazzini rejects as false, mendacious, and scientifically unfounded the claim put forth by the Italian asbestos industry and its expert witnesses that in cases of prolonged exposures to asbestos only the earliest periods of exposure contribute to mesothelioma induction, while all subsequent exposures have no causal role. The Collegium Ramazzini is deeply concerned that acceptance of this false claim will contribute to the unjust denial of workers' compensation and civil damages to affected workers, that it will hinder efforts to diagnose and prevent malignant mesothelioma, and that ultimately it will undermine the health of the public in Italy and in countries around the world.

Related positions of the Collegium Ramazzini on asbestos are available for consultation, including:
- The Global Health Dimensions of Asbestos and Asbestos-Related Diseases (2015).
Chinese, Japanese; Portuguese, and Spanish]
- 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 release 14 October 2015

Press contact:
Collegium Ramazzini
Kathryn Knowles

1 October 2015

Death of Fellow Professor Massimo Crespi 28 September 2015

Massimo Crespi passed away on 28 September 2015, two weeks after a diagnosis of lung cancer. He was a physician who devoted his professional life to the prevention, screening and early detection of cancer.

Professor Crespi earned a degree in Medicine at the University of Rome in 1959. After hospital training and specializations in Gastroenterology and Metabolic and Liver Diseases at the same institution, he joined the National Cancer Institute Regina Elena in Rome where he established the new Gastroenterology and Endoscopy Service. In 1980, Professor Crespi's interests shifted to oncology and under his chairmanship a new department was created at Regina Elena. This new "Cancer Detection Center" encompassed the whole spectrum of cancer prevention from epidemiology to six specialized units devoted to cancer screening. A fruitful collaboration between the Center and the International Agency for Research on Cancer led to research in Iran, China, South America and Africa focused on the multi-factorial etiology of esophageal cancer. Dr. Crespi became a leading figure in the international arena of gastroenterology as President of the World Organization of Digestive Endoscopy and Chair of the United European Gastroenterology Federation. He was also awarded Honorary Fellowship in the Royal College of Physicians in London and elected as a Governor of the American College of Gastroenterology. Professor Crespi remained devoted to the promotion of prevention and screening in retirement serving as the Secretary General of the Mediterranean Task Force for Cancer Control.

Professor Crespi participated actively in the Collegium Ramazzini since his election in 1983, serving multiple terms on the Executive Council. He lent his expertise and leadership to the creation of the Collegium's 12th official statement entitled "Cancer Prevention, Screening and Early Diagnosis, the Neglected Side of Cancer Control: A Call for Action" and was awarded in 2008 the academy's prestigious Ramazzini Award for his scientific and institutional contribution to the prevention, screening and early detection of cancer.

Massimo was a true follower of Bernardino Ramazzini and set an example as an innovator in preventive medicine. His contributions in the field of detection and prevention of gastrointestinal cancer aided the protection of public health around the world.

9 September 2015

Report on Collegium Ramazzini 2015 summer courses: Munich, Bangkok and Brescia

Three international courses on Occupational Health and Safety and Environmental Health were successfully held this summer under the auspices of the Collegium Ramazzini: i) the summer course "Teaching interventions crossing borders" from 30 July to 7 August at the Ludwig Maximillian University of Munich, Germany (Radon et al., 2009); ii) the "Advanced International Training Course in Occupational and Environmental Health", held 17-22 August at the Chulabhorn Research Institute in Bangkok, Thailand; iii) and the summer course "Occupational and Environmental Determinants of Diseases: a multidisciplinary approach as a key for prevention", held 31 August to 4 September at the University of Brescia, Italy.

In addition to high-quality, hands-on training in occupational health and safety, these courses provide unique opportunities for networking among OHS professionals from both HICs and LMICS and for developing approaches to continuing education that extend beyond the courses. Students and faculty attending the three courses were invited to join an electronic discussion group that will follow up on various aspects approached during the courses, such as the situation of OHS services coverage and organization, workers benefits and compensation, ratification and implementation of ILO and WHO policies, preventive intervention in hazardous waste sites.

To provide an opportunity for young OHS professionals to publish their work in a peer-reviewed journal, students and faculty participating in the above courses were also invited to submit publications reflecting OHS issues in their countries in a special issue of the Annals of Global Health, specifically dedicated to Occupational Global Health. The current issue of the Annals is first issue of the journal in this new annual series. Participating fellows of the Collegium were Philip Landrigan, Roberto Lucchini, Melissa Mc Diarmid, Khunying Mathuros Ruchirawat, Dennis Nowak, William Suk.

Radon K, Ehrenstein V, Bigaignon-Cantineau J, Vellore AD, Fingerhut M, Nowak D; Occupational Health Crossing Borders Summer School. Occupational health crossing borders - part 1: concept, teaching methods, and user evaluation of the first international summer school in Munich, Germany. Am J Ind Med. 2009 Oct;52(10):774-81

1 September 2015

Symposium on Perspectives In Global Environmental Health in Rome, Italy 21 October 2015

The Collegium Ramazzini, together with the Istituto Superiore di Sanita' (ISS) and the WHO Collaborating Centre for Environmental Health in Contaminated Sites will host a day-long symposium on "Perspectives In Global Environmental Health".

The meeting will be held at ISS on 21 October 2015. Speakers from the Collegium Ramazzini include: Fiorella Belpoggi (Italy), Pietro Comba (Italy), Massimo Crespi (Italy), Rodney Ehrlich (South Africa), Francesco Forastiere (Italy), Raul Harari (Ecuador), Richard Jackson (USA), Melissa McDiarmid (USA), Pier Giorgio Natali (Italy) and Morando Soffritti (Italy). The event program may be downloaded here.

The event is open to the public. Due to limited seating, interested participants are asked to send an email to the Scientific Secretariat c/o Fellow Pietro Comba.

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