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Roch Lanthier, the anti-asbestos warrior is no more

Gopal Krishna, mardi,

01/02/2005 - Roch Lanthier of the Asbestos Victims Association of Quebec (AVAQ), Canada is no more. Roch was deeply concerned about the plight of asbestos victims in Quebec and India. Ban Asbestos Network of India (BANI) and AVAQ had plans of pursuing the asbestos interests in close collaboration in order to expose them.

BANI is saddened by his sudden demise. It seems just yesterday, three of us- Roch Lanthier, Dr. Annie Thebaud-Mony, the Director of Research at the National Institute of Health and Medical Research at the University of Paris, France, a founding member of the BAN Asbestos Global Network and myself were exchanging notes on language and linguistics.

At Global Asbestos Congress (GAC), 2004 in Tokyo, he informed us about how AVAQ was founded to help asbestos victims and their families with medical, legal, environmental and personal issues, to make the population more aware of the situation through the media, and to develop alliances with other groups. AVAQ under his guidance has proposed an international moratorium on the use and production of asbestos until a really safe way of using it can be found and applied everywhere.

The most important asbestos-mining area in Canada is situated in the province of Quebec, in the city of Thetford Mines and its surroundings. In an area of roughly 40 km by 3 km there are more than 30 tailings dumps from both disused and active chrysotile mines. Soil tests show the content of these tailings is 10% chrysotile. Many houses are built very close to the tailings, sometimes less than 100 meters away, and residues from the tailings are widely used for landscaping.

Women of this area have the highest level of mesothelioma in the world, twice the second-highest level registered.

Roch had informed GAC of different approaches being considered to control the pollution caused by these tailings. Four major aspects have to be taken in consideration: the stabilization of the soils, the disposal of the soils, the irrigation of the sites and revegetation.

He felt that since the adequate regeneration of these sites would necessitate huge financial and technical resources, it has to be envisioned in the context of an overall environmental and socio-economic regeneration of the area. Focus should be put on high added-value income-generating projects in order to attract private and institutional investment, he advised.

He has compelled me to ponder and introspect over the brevity of life, one must do things in right earnest. I was thinking of writing to him one of these days to do a follow of what we had planned to do to put pressure on asbestos industry.

Roch had great fascination for Indian philosophy. Infact he was truly an Indian at heart. He had lived in Hardwar, one of the most spiritual cities in India. He was also a disciple of one spiritual teacher.

Although I had met him in Ottawa at the "Canadian Asbestos: a Global Concern" conference and exchanged messages, it was only our meeting in Tokyo that revealed the real Roch to me. He seemed so aware and conscious of Vedantic Truth; interestingly, his consciousness was based on both intuitiveness and experience.

He expressed his views in unusually non-verbose manner about the subtle existence of our being. He felt that I would understand him better; people in Quebec find his views incomprehensible.

Roch was of the view that "we never cease to exist". I agreed with him then and I agree with him now as well.

European Prognosis Score Validated in Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma

A recent article in the Journal of Clinical Oncology reports that the current model for determining the prognosis for malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM) is a valid tool for determining high and low-risk patients for clinical trial participation.

The current model for determining the prognosis for MPM is known as the European Prognosis Score (EPS). This was designed by members of the European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC). This model includes 5 factors: white blood cell count, performance score, probable histology, definite sarcomatous histology, and gender. In this recent trial, researchers sought to test the accuracy of this model in patients who were undergoing treatment in phase II clinical trials at St. Bartholomew’s hospital in London.

During the study, 145 participants were divided into high and low-risk groups based on EPS. Patients were treated with various types of chemotherapy based on the clinical trial in which they were enrolled. Extensive analysis revealed that EPS was not associated with an objective tumor response; however, the EPS was found to be an accurate indicator for determining high and low-risk categories of patients. These researchers concluded that the EPS system is a valid tool for determining high and low-risk subgroups and “should facilitate patient selection and analysis in randomized trials.”

Comments: Malignant pleural mesothelioma is a difficult malignancy to determine response rates and the impact of treatment on outcomes. The EPS system may help facilitate the identification of useful treatments by assigning risk groups prior to enrollment in a specific study.

Reference: Fennell D, Parmar A, et al. Statistical Validation of the EORTC Prognostic Model for the Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma Based on Three Consecutive Phase II Trials. Journal of Clinical Oncology. 2005; 23: 184-189.

Revised asbestos regulations receive HSC approval

7 Aug 2006 - The HSC is to recommend approval of revised asbestos regulations, which will strengthen overall worker protection by reducing exposure limits and introducing detailed mandatory training for work with asbestos.

As previously reported on the Workplace Law Network, the draft Control of Asbestos Regulations, which will simplify the regulatory regime and implement revisions to the EU Asbestos Worker Protection Directive, have been the subject of extensive consultation.

The new regulations replace three existing sets of regulations (The Control of Asbestos at Work Regulations 2002, The Asbestos (Licensing Regulations 1983, as amended, and The Asbestos (Prohibitions) Regulations 1992, as amended), and introduce a lower single control limit of 0.1 fibres per cm3 of air for work with all types of asbestos. They also include practical guidelines for the determination of "sporadic and low intensity exposure", as required by the EU directive.

Under the new regulations, work with textured decorative coatings containing asbestos (TCs) will be removed from the licensing regime as research shows that the level of exposure to asbestos fibres from such work are low.

The HSC will shortly be submitting full details of the proposed regulations along with with two Approved Codes of Practice which provide guidance on compliance, to Ministers for approval. It has asked the HSE to monitor implementation of the regulations.

Recently the Compensation Bill for mesothelioma victims received Royal Assent. The Compensation Act 2006 will make it quicker and simpler for people who contract mesothelioma because they have been negligently exposed to asbestos to recover compensation from employers.

The Act is expected to come into force in spring 2007. When it does, it will mean that employees suffering from mesothelioma due to more than one employer’s negligence will be able to receive full compensation from any one responsible employer quickly.


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