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Complaint to CDSCO regarding ongoing exposure of Indians to hazardous asbestos mineral fibers contaminated Talcum Powder of Johnson & Johnson

Written By mediavigil on Wednesday, May 27, 2020 | 2:37 AM


To

Drugs Controller General of India
Central Drugs Standard Control Organization (CDSCO),
Directorate General of Health Services
Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare,

Government of India
FDA Bhavan, ITO, Kotla Road,
New Delhi -110002

Date: May 27, 2020

Subject- Complaint regarding ongoing exposure of Indians to hazardous asbestos mineral fibers contaminated Talcum Powder of Johnson & Johnson

Sir,      

This is to draw your immediate attention of CDSCO towards the announcement dated May 19, 2020 by Johnson & Johnson, a multinational company headquartered in New Brunswick, New Jersey, USA stating that it will discontinue sale of its Talcum Powder products in North America. This announcement is aimed at safeguarding the health of residents and citizens of North America but not the residents and citizens of India. Such doublespeak and double standard in matters of public health in general and children’s health in particular merits urgent intervention of the CDSCO. (Reference: Statement of Johnson & Johnson, May 19, 2020, https://www.jnj.com/our-company/johnson-johnson-consumer-health-announces-discontinuation-of-talc-based-johnsons-baby-powder-in-u-s-and-canada)

We wish to point out that “the Company will wind down the commercialization of talc-based Johnson’s Baby Powder in the U.S. and Canada in the coming months. Existing inventory will continue to be sold through retailers until it runs out.” The news report titled Johnson & Johnson to End Talc-Based Baby Powder Sales in North America published in The New York Times merits attention as well. (Reference: Tiffany Hsu and Roni Caryn Rabin, May 19, 2020, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/19/business/johnson-baby-powder-sales-stopped.html).

We submit that a study titled "Asbestos in commercial Indian talc" published in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine states that “this product study of various talcum powders marketed to combat prickly heat, purchased from Indian retailers both overthecounter and online, demonstrates the ease of general population access to such products and the potential for significant exposure to asbestos. The analytical results of this study confirm that asbestos exposure of the Indian and potentially greater Southeast Asian populations is not limited to traditional occupational settings.” The findings of this study “imply that the asbestosrelated medical and public health implications to consider will need to extend to persons of both genders and all ages among this population group. This study's confirmation of an underappreciated source of asbestos exposure, through personal care products, also highlights the risk that anyone within breathing range of these aerosolizeable, contaminated, talcum products incurs.” The authors of the study observe, “"Until asbestos is also viewed as a hazard in India and banned, there will still be considerable risk to health." There is a need to identify the source of their talc supply as well. (Reference: : Fitzgerald S, Harty E, Joshi TK, Frank AL. Asbestos in commercial indian talc. American Journal of Industrial Medicine. 2019; 18. https://doi.org/10.1002/ajim.22969 )

We submit that Word Health Organisation (WHO)’s International Agency for Cancer Research (IARC) has recognized presence of asbestos in talcum powder. IARC Monograph on the Evaluation of Carcinogenic Risks to Humans on Carbon Black, Titanium Dioxide, and Talc (2010) refers to the presence of asbestos in talcum powder. It also refers to "Use of talc for feminine hygiene". The use of body powder for feminine hygiene can be estimated from the prevalence reported for controls in case–control studies that investigated the association between the use of cosmetic talc for feminine hygiene and the risk for ovarian cancer. It refers to exposure to respirable dust during the use of talcum powders on the face, body and babies. Talc is used as a surface lubricant on the majority of condoms manufactured; contact with condoms may also represent a direct means of exposure of the female genital tract to talc. Exposure to talc can also occur during surgical procedures when using powdered gloves. Talc particles were observed in the navels of small children, in the testes, on the vocal cords, in the urinary bladder tract and after removal of varicous veins. Besides this the Food Chemical Codex (2003) provides specifications for food-grade talc, including the statement that “talc derived from deposits that are known to contain associated asbestos is not food grade.” Under the voluntary guidelines initiated in 1976, the Cosmetic, Toiletry, and Fragrances Association stated that all cosmetic talc should contain at least 90% platy talc (hydrated magnesium silicate) that is free from detectable amounts of fibrous, asbestos minerals. Meanwhile, some 67 countries have banned all kinds of asbestos. World Health Organisation (WHO)’s recommendations have established the infectious nature of Covid-19, the same WHO has underlined that “All types of asbestos cause lung cancer, mesothelioma, cancer of the larynx and ovary, and asbestosis (fibrosis of the lungs).” (Reference: https://www.who.int/ipcs/assessment/public_health/asbestos/en/ and https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/asbestos-elimination-of-asbestos-related-diseases)

Fitzgerald S et al observe, “With products of this nature being readily available and appealing to both genders, it is necessary to consider what the potential health risks and burdens of disease are for millions of exposed women of childbearing age and the children for whom they provide care. IARC has confirmed the causal association of asbestos with ovarian cancer and other cancers”.

We submit that the CDSCO must undertake the enviro-occupational health audit of the workers who handle asbestos laden talcum powder in the manufacturing facilities of talcum powder products in general besides the health audit of the communities who are in the vicinity of such factories and recommend adequate compensation for those who are exposed to the carcinogenic mineral fibers and are suffering from asbestos related diseases. This will be also relevant for assessing the harm which the unsuspecting consumers continue to face. These consumers include all judges, legislators, officials, their children and grandchildren and the residents of India.

Earlier, an investigative report titled “Johnson & Johnson knew for decades that asbestos lurked in its Baby Powder” was published on December, 14, 2018 which too is relevant for protecting the human rights of Indians. The investigation was conducted by Reuters, a 167 year old international news agency headquartered in London. This investigative report is consistent with the findings of a study by India’s Industrial Toxicology Research Centre (IITR), Lucknow, a constituent laboratory of Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR), Ministry of Science and Technology, Government of India on “Exposure risk to contaminants in pharmaceutical and cosmetic powders” has found that “There are different types of cosmetic powders such as body powder, baby powder, face powder, eye shadow and powdered blush as well as pharmaceutical powders available in the market. Both the sexes of all age groups are using these powders. These are talc - based. Talc is a mineral product and often contaminated with asbestos fibres.”

The aim of the IITR study “was to investigate the safety of such powders being sold in the market, initially by analyzing the asbestos content. Five branded samples of talcum powder were analysed and all were found contaminated with asbestos fibres. Asbestos fibre contamination in these powders ranged from 10.3 – 15.4%. Fibre length study on two samples revealed that asbestos fibres were 22.8 – 34.7%, 48.2 – 55.1% and 17.1 – 22.1% in the range of <10 10="" 20="" and="" m=""> 20µm, respectively. The study indicates risk of human exposure to asbestos through the use of naturally contaminated talcum powder. It is noteworthy that asbestos takes many years to cause asbestosis and carcinogenic malignancies which are irreversible. It also necessitates a regular monitoring and surveillance on all the cosmetic and pharmaceutical powders being marketed for asbestos contamination.” This has been published in the Annual Report Annual Report 2005-2006 of IITR. IITR is accredited by National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories (NABL) for chemical and biological testing and is recognized for GLP (Good Laboratory Practice) toxicity testing. (Reference: http://www.itrcindia.org/ITRC_Annual_Report_2005-06.pdf )

The investigation by Reuters corroborates the findings of IITR. This recent investigation was undertaken in the wake of three verdicts in New Jersey, California and St. Louis awarding compensation to plaintiffs who blamed asbestos-tainted Johnson & Johnson talc products for their mesothelioma, a type of cancer that develops from the thin layer of tissue that covers many of the internal organs. The connection between asbestos exposure and mesothelioma was discovered in the 1970s. The third verdict was a watershed in in St. Louis: The 22 plaintiffs were the first to succeed with a claim that asbestos-tainted Baby Powder and Shower to Shower talc, a longtime brand the company sold in 2012 that caused ovarian cancer, which is much more common than mesothelioma. The jury awarded them $4.69 billion in damages. Most of the talc cases have been brought by women with ovarian cancer who say they regularly used Johnson and Johnson talc products as a perineal antiperspirant and deodorant. The inclusion of ovarian cancer besides mesothelioma has broadened the potential liability of Johnson & Johnson, a 132 year old multinational medical devices, pharmaceutical and consumer packaged goods manufacturing company headquartered in New Brunswick, New Jersey, USA.

Earlier, British Medical Journal (BMJ) published an article titled “Jury awards $4.7bn damages against Johnson & Johnson in talcum cancer case” published in the renowned British Medical Journal (BMJ). As per BMJ’s article, “More than 9000 former US talcum customers have lodged suits against the company. Most claim damages for ovarian cancer, but some allege that using the product led them to develop mesothelioma. The award is by far the biggest yet against Johnson and Johnson in litigation relating to talcum powder and the first case in which plaintiffs alleged that asbestos in talcum powder caused their disease. The verdict was handed down in the Circuit Court of the City of St. Louis. ((Reference: BMJ 2018; 362 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.k3135)

We reiterate that this investigative report is of deep relevance for the public health of present and future generation of Indians given the fact that Johnson & Johnson company has admittedly been in India for last 70 years. The company has brought many products in consumer healthcare, medical devices and pharmaceuticals. In 1947, Johnson & Johnson expanded into India, marketing Johnson’s Baby Powder. In September 1957, Johnson & Johnson incorporated as a legal entity in India. The production in its first manufacturing facility began in 1959 at the Johnson & Johnson India plant in Mulund, Mumbai, for Johnson’s Baby Powder and other specialized products. In 1968, the company introduces the Stayfree brand to India. A situation emerged wherein Johnson & Johnson reached almost every household in India.  

The Reuters investigative report refers to the findings of Dr. Irving J. Selikoff who had conclusively established a link between the inhalation of asbestos particles and lung-related ailments in the 1960s itself that paved the way for ban on asbestos of all kinds in some 60 countries. Dr. Selikoff was the director of the Environmental and Occupational Health Division of Mount Sinai Hospital in New York. It is significant that Ms Lisa Girion of Reuters has shared the official documents on the basis of which she has made these startling claims in her investigative report.  

We wish to reiterate that in a Terms of Reference dated October 25, 2010 issued by Union Environment & Forests Ministry for a proposed Asbestos cement sheet and accessories manufacturing unit of 1,80,000 Tonnes Per Annum capacity at Narsimharaopalem Village, Veerulupadu Tehsil, Krishna District, Andhra Pradesh by M/s Sahyadri Industries Limited made reference to "talc and chrysotile”.

Prior to the Reuters report, a 2014 paper published in the International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health titled "Asbestos in commercial cosmetic talcum powder as a cause of mesothelioma in women" by Ronald E Gordon et al concluded "we found that a specific brand of talcum powder contained identifiable asbestos fibers with the potential to be released into the air and inhaled during normal personal talcum powder application. We also found that asbestos fibers consistent with those found in the same cosmetic talc product were present in the lungs and lymph node tissues of a woman who used this brand of talc powder and developed and died from mesothelioma. This study was published in October 2014. (Reference: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4164883/)

We submit that the investigation by Reuters reveals that “Johnson & Johnson developed a strategy in the 1970s to deal with a growing volume of research showing that talc miners had elevated rates of lung disease and cancer: Promote the positive, challenge the negative. That approach was summed up by a J&J applied research director in a “strictly confidential” March 3, 1975, memo to managers of the baby products division, which used the talc in J&J’s signature Baby Powder. Its approach reads: “Our current posture with respect to the sponsorship of talc safety studies has been to initiate studies only as dictated by confrontation,” the memo said. “This philosophy, so far, has allowed us to neutralize or hold in check data already generated by investigators who question the safety of talc.” It reveals that scientific ghostwriters have been hired for long to hide evidence of “cancer concern associated with exposure to talc.” Based on an Italian study, one such ghost authored article that appeared in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, in 1976 found no mesothelioma, the signature cancer of asbestos exposure. The Italian study in question has been updated three times – in 1979, 2003 and 2017 – “confirming the lack of association between exposure to asbestos-free talc, lung cancer and mesothelioma.” The investigative underlines that Johnson & Johnson got a lot of mileage out of the study. It was cited in a review article titled “The Biology of Talc,” published Nov. 1, 1976, in the British Journal of Industrial Medicine.

In addition to dozens of published studies, the review cited unpublished research, including one experiment that used a doll as a proxy for infants and that supported the company’s position on the safety of talc. It didn’t disclose that Johnson & Johnson had commissioned the unpublished research. The author of the review article concluded that the “concern that has been expressed about the possible health hazard from consumer exposure to cosmetic talc is unwarranted … There is no evidence that its normal use poses a hazard to health.” The author was Hildick-Smith, the Johnson & Johnson physician executive who had overseen the Italian study and played a key role in the company’s talc safety research. The article did not disclose his Johnson & Johnson connection, identifying him only as a Rutgers University Clinical Assistant Professor of Pediatrics.

In a related event, I was a panelist at a Round Table Conference on Issues Related to Asbestos Use in India held at India International Centre, New Delhi on December 21, 2009, wherein Dr Iqbal Ahmad, a scientist from IITR, Lucknow said that there are many different sources of asbestos exposures which need to be looked at. He identified talc (powder) as a major source which has asbestos contamination and exposes a large section of population, especially children and women. Talc is used in several industries as raw material. He said that we do have numbers of talc based cosmetic powders in India. China is the largest producer of talc. Some 47 companies which used to procure Chinese talc powder had to withdraw their product from market in South Korea due to high asbestos contamination.

We submit that CDSCO’s intervention will be germane in the light of the judgment of Hon’ble Supreme Court in Consumer Education and Research Centre (CERC) Vs Union of India (1995 AIR 922, 1995 SCC (3) 42) that recognized right to health as part of right to life and had directed central and state governments to revise their law related asbestos in keeping with fresh resolutions of International Labour Organisation (ILO). ILO’s asbestos related resolution of June 2006 is relevant in this regard (Reference: https://www.ilo.org/safework/info/standards-and-instruments/WCMS_108556/lang--en/index.htm  . The ILO resolution was followed by a joint publication of WHO and ILO titled "Outline for the Development of National Programmes for Elimination of Asbestos-Related Diseases" published in December 2007. It creates a logical compulsion for urgent remedial action. (Reference: https://www.ilo.org/global/topics/safety-and-health-at-work/resources-library/publications/WCMS_108555/lang--en/index.htm)

In view of the above, we submit that instead of waiting for the coo withdraw its asbestos-laden talcum powder products-both baby powder and adult powder, the CDSCO must prevent preventable diseases and deaths by banning these products with immediate effect.

Thanking You

Yours faithfully
Gopal Krishna
ToxicsWatch Alliance (TWA)
Occupational Health India (OHI)
E-mail:krishnaruhani@gmail.com 
Web:www.toxicswatch.org







Doublespeak and Double Standards of Johnson & Johnson, cause of ongoing exposure of Indians to hazardous asbestos mineral fibers contaminated Talcum Powder



To

Chairman
National Human Rights Commission
Manav Adhikar Bhawan
Block-C, GPO Complex, INA,
New Delhi – 110023

Date: May 26, 2020

Subject- Doublespeak and Double Standards of Johnson & Johnson cause of ongoing exposure of Indians to hazardous asbestos mineral fibers contaminated Talcum Powder

Sir,      

This is to draw your immediate attention towards the announcement dated May 19, 2020 by Johnson & Johnson, a multinational company headquartered in New Brunswick, New Jersey, USA stating that it will discontinue sale of its Talcum Powder products in North America. This announcement is aimed at safeguarding the health and human rights of residents and citizens of North America but not the residents and citizens of India. Such doublespeak and double standard in matters of public health in general and children’s health in particular merits urgent intervention of the Commission. (Reference: Statement of Johnson & Johnson, May 19, 2020, https://www.jnj.com/our-company/johnson-johnson-consumer-health-announces-discontinuation-of-talc-based-johnsons-baby-powder-in-u-s-and-canada)

We wish to point out that “the Company will wind down the commercialization of talc-based Johnson’s Baby Powder in the U.S. and Canada in the coming months. Existing inventory will continue to be sold through retailers until it runs out.” The news report titled Johnson & Johnson to End Talc-Based Baby Powder Sales in North America published in The New York Times merits attention as well. (Reference: Tiffany Hsu and Roni Caryn Rabin, May 19, 2020, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/19/business/johnson-baby-powder-sales-stopped.html).

We submit that Word Health Organisation (WHO)’s International Agency for Cancer Research (IARC) has recognized presence of asbestos in talcum powder. IARC Monograph on the Evaluation of Carcinogenic Risks to Humans on Carbon Black, Titanium Dioxide, and Talc (2010) refers to the presence of asbestos in talcum powder. It also refers to "Use of talc for feminine hygiene". The use of body powder for feminine hygiene can be estimated from the prevalence reported for controls in case–control studies that investigated the association between the use of cosmetic talc for feminine hygiene and the risk for ovarian cancer. It refers to exposure to respirable dust during the use of talcum powders on the face, body and babies. Talc is used as a surface lubricant on the majority of condoms manufactured; contact with condoms may also represent a direct means of exposure of the female genital tract to talc. Exposure to talc can also occur during surgical procedures when using powdered gloves. Talc particles were observed in the navels of small children, in the testes, on the vocal cords, in the urinary bladder tract and after removal of varicous veins. Besides this the Food Chemical Codex (2003) provides specifications for food-grade talc, including the statement that “talc derived from deposits that are known to contain associated asbestos is not food grade.” Under the voluntary guidelines initiated in 1976, the Cosmetic, Toiletry, and Fragrances Association stated that all cosmetic talc should contain at least 90% platy talc (hydrated magnesium silicate) that is free from detectable amounts of fibrous, asbestos minerals. Meanwhile, some 67 countries have banned all kinds of asbestos. World Health Organisation (WHO)’s recommendations have established the infectious nature of Covid-19, the same WHO has underlined that “All types of asbestos cause lung cancer, mesothelioma, cancer of the larynx and ovary, and asbestosis (fibrosis of the lungs).” (Reference: https://www.who.int/ipcs/assessment/public_health/asbestos/en/ and https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/asbestos-elimination-of-asbestos-related-diseases)

We submit that the Commission. must recommend the enviro-occupational health audit of the workers who handle asbestos laden talcum powder in the manufacturing facilities of talcum powder products in general besides the health audit of the communities who are in the vicinity of such factories and recommend adequate compensation for those who are exposed to the carcinogenic mineral fibers and are suffering from asbestos related diseases. This will be also relevant for assessing the harm which the unsuspecting consumers continue to face. These consumers include all judges, legislators, officials, their children and grandchildren and the residents of India.

Earlier, an investigative report titled “Johnson & Johnson knew for decades that asbestos lurked in its Baby Powder” was published on December, 14, 2018 which too is relevant for protecting the human rights of Indians. The investigation was conducted by Reuters, a 167 year old international news agency headquartered in London. This investigative report is consistent with the findings of a study by India’s Industrial Toxicology Research Centre (IITR), Lucknow, a constituent laboratory of Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR), Ministry of Science and Technology, Government of India on “Exposure risk to contaminants in pharmaceutical and cosmetic powders” has found that “There are different types of cosmetic powders such as body powder, baby powder, face powder, eye shadow and powdered blush as well as pharmaceutical powders available in the market. Both the sexes of all age groups are using these powders. These are talc - based. Talc is a mineral product and often contaminated with asbestos fibres.”

The aim of the IITR study “was to investigate the safety of such powders being sold in the market, initially by analyzing the asbestos content. Five branded samples of talcum powder were analysed and all were found contaminated with asbestos fibres. Asbestos fibre contamination in these powders ranged from 10.3 – 15.4%. Fibre length study on two samples revealed that asbestos fibres were 22.8 – 34.7%, 48.2 – 55.1% and 17.1 – 22.1% in the range of <10 10="" 20="" and="" m=""> 20µm, respectively. The study indicates risk of human exposure to asbestos through the use of naturally contaminated talcum powder. It is noteworthy that asbestos takes many years to cause asbestosis and carcinogenic malignancies which are irreversible. It also necessitates a regular monitoring and surveillance on all the cosmetic and pharmaceutical powders being marketed for asbestos contamination.” This has been published in the Annual Report Annual Report 2005-2006 of IITR. IITR is accredited by National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories (NABL) for chemical and biological testing and is recognized for GLP (Good Laboratory Practice) toxicity testing. (Reference: http://www.itrcindia.org/ITRC_Annual_Report_2005-06.pdf )

The investigation by Reuters corroborates the findings of IITR. This recent investigation was undertaken in the wake of three verdicts in New Jersey, California and St. Louis awarding compensation to plaintiffs who blamed asbestos-tainted Johnson & Johnson talc products for their mesothelioma, a type of cancer that develops from the thin layer of tissue that covers many of the internal organs. The connection between asbestos exposure and mesothelioma was discovered in the 1970s. The third verdict was a watershed in in St. Louis: The 22 plaintiffs were the first to succeed with a claim that asbestos-tainted Baby Powder and Shower to Shower talc, a longtime brand the company sold in 2012 that caused ovarian cancer, which is much more common than mesothelioma. The jury awarded them $4.69 billion in damages. Most of the talc cases have been brought by women with ovarian cancer who say they regularly used Johnson and Johnson talc products as a perineal antiperspirant and deodorant. The inclusion of ovarian cancer besides mesothelioma has broadened the potential liability of Johnson & Johnson, a 132 year old multinational medical devices, pharmaceutical and consumer packaged goods manufacturing company headquartered in New Brunswick, New Jersey, USA.

Earlier, British Medical Journal (BMJ) published an article titled “Jury awards $4.7bn damages against Johnson & Johnson in talcum cancer case” published in the renowned British Medical Journal (BMJ). As per BMJ’s article, “More than 9000 former US talcum customers have lodged suits against the company. Most claim damages for ovarian cancer, but some allege that using the product led them to develop mesothelioma. The award is by far the biggest yet against Johnson and Johnson in litigation relating to talcum powder and the first case in which plaintiffs alleged that asbestos in talcum powder caused their disease. The verdict was handed down in the Circuit Court of the City of St. Louis. ((Reference: BMJ 2018; 362 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.k3135)

We reiterate that this investigative report is of deep relevance for the public health of present and future generation of Indians given the fact that Johnson & Johnson company has admittedly been in India for last 70 years. The company has brought many products in consumer healthcare, medical devices and pharmaceuticals. In 1947, Johnson & Johnson expanded into India, marketing Johnson’s Baby Powder. In September 1957, Johnson & Johnson incorporated as a legal entity in India. The production in its first manufacturing facility began in 1959 at the Johnson & Johnson India plant in Mulund, Mumbai, for Johnson’s Baby Powder and other specialized products. In 1968, the company introduces the Stayfree brand to India. A situation emerged wherein Johnson & Johnson reached almost every household in India.  

The Reuters investigative report refers to the findings of Dr. Irving J. Selikoff who had conclusively established a link between the inhalation of asbestos particles and lung-related ailments in the 1960s itself that paved the way for ban on asbestos of all kinds in some 60 countries. Dr. Selikoff was the director of the Environmental and Occupational Health Division of Mount Sinai Hospital in New York. It is significant that Ms Lisa Girion of Reuters has shared the official documents on the basis of which she has made these startling claims in her investigative report.  

We wish to reiterate that in a Terms of Reference dated October 25, 2010 issued by Union Environment & Forests Ministry for a proposed Asbestos cement sheet and accessories manufacturing unit of 1,80,000 Tonnes Per Annum capacity at Narsimharaopalem Village, Veerulupadu Tehsil, Krishna District, Andhra Pradesh by M/s Sahyadri Industries Limited made reference to "talc and chrysotile”.

Prior to the Reuters report, a 2014 paper published in the International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health titled "Asbestos in commercial cosmetic talcum powder as a cause of mesothelioma in women" by Ronald E Gordon et al concluded "we found that a specific brand of talcum powder contained identifiable asbestos fibers with the potential to be released into the air and inhaled during normal personal talcum powder application. We also found that asbestos fibers consistent with those found in the same cosmetic talc product were present in the lungs and lymph node tissues of a woman who used this brand of talc powder and developed and died from mesothelioma. This study was published in October 2014. (Reference: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4164883/)

We submit that the investigation by Reuters reveals that “Johnson & Johnson developed a strategy in the 1970s to deal with a growing volume of research showing that talc miners had elevated rates of lung disease and cancer: Promote the positive, challenge the negative. That approach was summed up by a J&J applied research director in a “strictly confidential” March 3, 1975, memo to managers of the baby products division, which used the talc in J&J’s signature Baby Powder. Its approach reads: “Our current posture with respect to the sponsorship of talc safety studies has been to initiate studies only as dictated by confrontation,” the memo said. “This philosophy, so far, has allowed us to neutralize or hold in check data already generated by investigators who question the safety of talc.” It reveals that scientific ghostwriters have been hired for long to hide evidence of “cancer concern associated with exposure to talc.” Based on an Italian study, one such ghost authored article that appeared in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, in 1976 found no mesothelioma, the signature cancer of asbestos exposure. The Italian study in question has been updated three times – in 1979, 2003 and 2017 – “confirming the lack of association between exposure to asbestos-free talc, lung cancer and mesothelioma.” The investigative underlines that Johnson & Johnson got a lot of mileage out of the study. It was cited in a review article titled “The Biology of Talc,” published Nov. 1, 1976, in the British Journal of Industrial Medicine.

In addition to dozens of published studies, the review cited unpublished research, including one experiment that used a doll as a proxy for infants and that supported the company’s position on the safety of talc. It didn’t disclose that Johnson & Johnson had commissioned the unpublished research. The author of the review article concluded that the “concern that has been expressed about the possible health hazard from consumer exposure to cosmetic talc is unwarranted … There is no evidence that its normal use poses a hazard to health.” The author was Hildick-Smith, the Johnson & Johnson physician executive who had overseen the Italian study and played a key role in the company’s talc safety research. The article did not disclose his Johnson & Johnson connection, identifying him only as a Rutgers University Clinical Assistant Professor of Pediatrics.

In a related event, I was a panelist at a Round Table Conference on Issues Related to Asbestos Use in India held at India International Centre, New Delhi on December 21, 2009, wherein Dr Iqbal Ahmad, a scientist from IITR, Lucknow said that there are many different sources of asbestos exposures which need to be looked at. He identified talc (powder) as a major source which has asbestos contamination and exposes a large section of population, especially children and women. Talc is used in several industries as raw material. He said that we do have numbers of talc based cosmetic powders in India. China is the largest producer of talc. Some 47 companies which used to procure Chinese talc powder had to withdraw their product from market in South Korea due to high asbestos contamination.

We submit that Commission’s intervention will be germane in the light of the judgment of Hon’ble Supreme Court in Consumer Education and Research Centre (CERC) Vs Union of India (1995 AIR 922, 1995 SCC (3) 42) that recognized right to health as part of right to life and had directed central and state governments to revise their law related asbestos in keeping with fresh resolutions of International Labour Organisation (ILO). ILO’s asbestos related resolution of June 2006 is relevant in this regard (Reference: https://www.ilo.org/safework/info/standards-and-instruments/WCMS_108556/lang--en/index.htm  . The ILO resolution was followed by a joint publication of WHO and ILO titled "Outline for the Development of National Programmes for Elimination of Asbestos-Related Diseases" published in December 2007. It creates a logical compulsion for urgent remedial action. (Reference: https://www.ilo.org/global/topics/safety-and-health-at-work/resources-library/publications/WCMS_108555/lang--en/index.htm)

In view of the above, we submit that instead of waiting for the coo withdraw its asbestos-laden talcum powder products-both baby powder and adult powder, the Commission must consider recommending to the central government and state governments to prevent preventable diseases and deaths by banning these products with immediate effect.

Thanking You

Yours faithfully
Gopal Krishna
ToxicsWatch Alliance (TWA)
Occupational Health India (OHI)
Mb: 9818089660
E-mail:krishnaruhani@gmail.com 






TWA"s letter to CPCB and APPCB on Styrene Gas Leak Disaster

Written By mediavigil on Thursday, May 07, 2020 | 6:30 AM

To

Chairman
Central Pollution Control Board 
Union Ministry of Environment, Forests & Climate Change
Government of  India

Chairman
Andhra Pradesh Pollution Control Board
Government of Andhra Pradesh 

Date:07, 2020

Subject- Styrene Gas Leak Disaster in the factory of South Korean company LG Chem's subsidiary LG Polymers India Private Limited located at Gopalapatnam, Visakhapatnam

Sir, 

With reference to the above mentioned subject, I wish to draw your attention towards the fact that under the Manufacture, Storage and Import of Hazardous Chemical Rules, 1989 and Chemical Accidents (Emergency Planning, Preparedness and Response) Rules, 1996 farmed as per Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 it is the "occupier" who is responsible for preparation of on-site emergency plan as per Rule 13, Schedule 11 of 1989 Rules. The duty of ensuring compliance with this provision is required to be fulfilled by CPCB or SPCB as per it's Schedule 5. 

I submit that as per Rule 13 (3), this on-site emergency plan is required to be prepared before the industrial activity commences. The "occupier", the person who has control over the affairs of the factory or the premises and the person who is in possession of the substance as per 2(f) of 1986 Act is supposed to ensure that a mock drill of the on-site emergency plan is concluded every six months. 

I submit that given the fact that Part II of Schedule I, item no. 583 of the 1989 Rules includes "Styrene", an organic compound in the list of hazardous chemicals under Rule 4( 2), the occupier is required to provide evidence that he has identified the major accident hazards and has taken adequate steps to prevent such major accidents and to limit their consequences to persons and environment besides providing information, training and equipment including antidotes necessary to persons working on the site. 

The disaster in the factory of LG Chem's subsidiary demonstrates that these provisions of the rules have not been complied with. There has been dereluction of duty on the part of both the occupier and the concerned officials of the Pollution Control Board. 

Both the occupier and the officials have failed to give required attention to the hazardous and carcinogenic nature of 
Styrene. It is a "known carcinogen", especially in case of eye contact, but also in case of skin contact, of ingestion and of inhalation. Styrene is largely metabolized into styrene oxide in humans. Styrene oxide is considered toxic, mutagenic, and possibly carcinogenic.The USA's Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has described styrene to be "a suspected toxin to the gastrointestinal tract, kidney, and respiratory system, among others". The precautionary principle too required abundant caution from both the occupier and the officials. 

In view of the non-compliance with the environmental laws, injury and loss of lives, ToxicsWatch Alliance (TWA), a research and advocacy group demands that a high powered transdisplinary committee be set up to inquire into the causes and effects of this industrial disaster and to fix accountability for the acts of ommission and commission in the matter of 7th May 2020 gas leak disaster from the factory of LG Chem's  LG Polymers India Private Limited. 

Thanking You 

Warm Regards
Gopal Krishna
Director
ToxicsWatch Alliance (TWA)
Mb:9818089660
Web:www.toxicswatch.org



National Platform for Small Scale Fish Workers rejects the Recycling of Ships Act, 2019

Written By mediavigil on Wednesday, December 11, 2019 | 11:21 PM

National Platform for Small Scale Fish Workers [NPSSFW(I)] rejects the Recycling of Ships Act, 2019 aimed at multiplying the profit of the merchants of death and the investors in ship breaking industry

The Recycling of Ships Act, 2019, though camouflaged as an act to regulate ship breaking industry, is primarily aimed at opening of our coasts for dumping of abandoned ships of the world. Ship breaking is one of the most hazardous industries the world has ever experienced. The abandoned ships are store houses of toxic materials and pollutants. Depending on their size and weight, each abandoned ship contains - between 10 and 100 tons of paint containing lead, cadmium, organotins, arsenic, zinc and chromium. Ships also contain a wide range of other hazardous wastes, sealants containing PCBs, up to 7.5 tones of various types of asbestos and several thousands liters of oil (engine oil, bilge oil, hydraulic and lubricants oils and grease). Tankers additionally hold up to 1,000 cubic meters of residual oil. Most of these materials have been defined as hazardous waste under the Basel Convention*. Ship breaking activities is a threat to both the terrestrial and marine environment as well as to public health. 

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Until the late 20th century, the majority of ship-breaking activity took place in the port cities of industrialized countries such as the United Kingdom and the United States. But then the industry started shifting to third world countries. Currently, the global center of the ship breaking and recycling industry is located in South Asia, specifically Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan. These three countries account for 70–80 percent of the international market for ship breaking of ocean-going vessels, with China and Turkey accounting for most of the rest. Only about 5 percent of the global volume of such vessels is scrapped outside these five countries. This has happened due to two main reasons - a. availability of cheap labour, and b. adoption of stringent environmental and occupational norms in the developed countries that made ship breaking much costlier. 

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In the largest ship breaking centre in India at Alang on Gujarat coast the environmental protection has been very limited in most yards and the sound management of asbestos, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), ozone-depleting substances (ODS), and a range of heavy metals is virtually nonexistent. The chief concerns are:  
  • Dismantling of ships in the unprotected intertidal zone instead of dry dock; 
  • No adequate environmental impact assessment regarding pollution caused by toxics paints, slag and debris released in the intertidal zone, the adequacy of oil spill remediation and air pollution with toxic fumes;
  • Lack of sufficient Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and its adequate use as well as lack of proper training, recurrence of accidents and loss of life;
  • Unsound hazardous waste management (in particular, re-sale of asbestos-containing materials and lack of PCB-destruction facility);
  • Poor living conditions, lack of proper medical facilities, wages lower than living wage;
  • No strict law enforcement.  
The severe pollution generated at the ship breaking yards of Alang continues to affect severely the air, water and soil quality of the area. Fish stock has almost perished and the fish available there is highly contaminated with heavy metals and other toxics. 
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The Recycling of Ships Act, 2019 has opened the coasts of India to import abandoned ships for recycling from all over the world. This import of hazardous waste is against the spirit of Basel Convention, of which India has been a signatory. Not only that, without restricting ship breaking in dry dock and allowing it in inter-tidal zones the Act renders itself into an instrument to destroy one of the most eco-sensitive zones. Moreover Environmental damages could worsen as a result of sea level rise. The SBRI location and industrial practices make it highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and especially to sea level rise. The ship breaking industry’s legacy pollution could pose significant threats and challenges at both local and regional scales as rising ocean and tide levels submerge beach and near-shore ship breaking areas, washing out accumulated pollutants. In storm surge events, a sudden release of quantities of the contaminated landside beach material into the marine zone may severely affect local fisheries.

The world community took serious note of the seriousness of transboundary movement of hazardous waste way back in 1994 and through BAN amendment proposed prohibition of all transboundary movements of hazardous wastes covered by the Basel Convention that are intended for final disposal, and of all transboundary movements of hazardous wastes  that are destined for reuse, recycling or recovery operations.

It is unfortunate that the Government of India, though a party to the Basel Convention, did not sign the BAN amendment. It was an act presumably to enrich the coffers of investors in recycling industries at the cost of our environment, natural resources and the life and livelihood of people dependent on these resources. The small scale fishing communities reject this conspiracy against the people of India.

Rajya Sabha Chairman requested to refer Recycling of Ships Bill, 2019 to Parliamentary Standing Committee on Science & Technology, Environment, Forests & Climate Change

Written By mediavigil on Thursday, December 05, 2019 | 9:20 PM


To

Shri M. Venkaiah Naidu
Hon’ble Chairman  
Rajya Sabha
Parliament of India
New Delhi

Date: 05/12/2019

Subject-Request for referring The Recycling Of Ships Bill, 2019 to Parliamentary Standing Committee on Science and Technology, Environment, Forests and Climate Change to safeguard country’s maritime environment from harmful and hazardous wastes and materials      
 
Sir,

With reference to the passage of 18 page long The Recycling Of Ships Bill, 2019 from the Lok Sabha on December 3, 2019, I wish to earnestly request you to refer this Bill to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Science & Technology, Environment, Forests & Climate Change to safeguard country’s maritime environment from hazardous wastes and materials. I have undertaken research on the subject in question for over a decade and the related aspects of hazardous wastes and materials since 2000 and have been an invitee to the UN bodies, Parliamentary Committees and Hon’ble Supreme Court’s committees for submissions on this subject. On behalf of ToxicsWatch Alliance (TWA), I have been an applicant in the Hon’ble Court in an effort to stop India from becoming a dumping of foreign toxic wastes and end-of-life ships. It is noteworthy that India does not have an exhaustive inventory of hazardous wastes and materials with their environmental health impacts.
Having been in conversation with the inter-ministerial Ship Breaking Scrap Committee since July 22, 2014 seeking compliance with the Shipbreaking Code, 2013, Basel Convention, the only international/UN law on ship breaking and having engaged with the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Shipbreaking, Ministry of Steel in the past, I submit that the subject of ship-breaking industry was under the Steel Ministry from 1983 to July 2014 before it was brought under the supervision of the Ministry of Shipping. The fact remains ship breaking/recycling is a secondary steel production activity, an activity which is beyond the competence of Ministry of Shipping.
This Bill refers to the International Maritime Organisation (IMO)’s Hong Kong International Convention for the Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships, 2009 which was framed by the Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) and the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal, 1989. The Ban Amendment which comes into force today (5 December, 2019) is related to the latter. India is a party to the Basel Convention but not to the latter.
I wish to draw your attention towards enactment of The Bangladesh Ship Recycling Act 2018 which  has been legislated by Jatiya Sangsad on 24 January, 2018 admittedly at the behest of foreign lobbies who wish to create an world order where Free Trade in Hazardous Wastes and End-of-Life Ships gets legalised so that major ship owning companies/countries can escape decontamination cots. I am enclosing a copy of the Bangladesh Ship Recycling Act 2018 (Bangla text).  I have reliably learnt that that some foreign global shipping lobbies are work to ensure that India ratifies IMO's "Hong Kong International Convention for the Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships, 2009 (the Hong Kong Convention)" which has not come into force because shipbreakers, environmental and labour groups of India, Bangladesh and Pakistan are opposed to it as it is anti-environment, anti-workers and contrary to supreme national interest. 
I submit that these lobbies have succeeded in Bangladesh. A bill titled, 'Bangladesh Ship Recycling Bill, 2018,' was passed in their parliament in January 2018. The Bill was introduced by their Industries Minister Mr Amir Hossain Amu and it was passed by voice vote. Under the new law, a 13-member Board is supposed to be constituted to oversee the activities of the ship recycling industries with an additional secretary of the Ministry of Industries as its chairman in Bangladesh.
I submit  that ahead of the entry into force of the Ban Amendment to Basel Convention which prohibits dumping of hazardous wastes and end-of-life products in myriad disguises, it seemed surprising that on 20th November, 2019, Press Information Bureau, Government of India announced that Cabinet has approved “proposal for enactment of Recycling of Ships Bill, 2019 and accession to the Hong Kong International Convention for Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships, 2009.” It seems the Cabinet which rightly acknowledges that “The ship-recycling industry is a labour-intensive sector, but it is susceptible to concerns on environmental safety” has been misled by some external lobbies at work with an aim to outwit India into disregarding its position against dumping of hazardous wastes through linguistic corruption wherein waste is defined as “non-new good” or recyclable material.   
I submit that that the Parliamentary Committee on Science and Technology, Environment, Forests and Climate Change may be asked to examine the compelling logic for India to ratify the Ban Amendment that prohibits the export of hazardous waste from more developed to less developed countries and to examine reasons for recommending why India should not ratify the Hong Kong Convention.
I submit that it is a matter of distressed that India’s callousness towards the UN accord to stop the flow of hazardous wastes from developed to developing countries like India is akin to opposing Hon’ble Prime Minister’s Clean India Mission. It is also in violation of Hon’ble Supreme Court’s verdict in Writ Petition (Civil) No.657 of 1995 based on the  recommendations of Prof. M.G.K. Menon headed High Powered Committee on Hazardous Wastes that dealt with ship breaking at length. Such indifference lowers the stature of India and its scientific community because it is contrary to sustainable consumption and the circular economy as well as the Sustainable Development Goals. Our India cannot be turned into a land of landfills for foreign hazardous wastes. Unless all the waste that is generated in our own country has been treated and disposed of in an environmentally sound manner how can hazardous waste import be permitted? 
I submit that passage of The Recycling of Ships Bill, 2019 by Rajya Sabha will tantamount to ratification of the Hong Kong Convention which facilitates trade in hazardous wastes related to end-of-life ships, which are also hazardous wastes as per Basel Convention. How can this  happen in a business as usual manner unmindful of Hon’ble Prime Minister’s Clean India Mission and Hon’ble Court’s verdict. This position is inconsistent with National Environment Policy that includes strategies for cleanup of toxic and hazardous waste dump legacies, developing a national inventory of such dumps, an online monitoring system for movement of hazardous wastes and taking legal measures for addressing emergencies arising out of transportation, handling, and disposal of hazardous wastes. India’s current position seems to be inconsistent with our Hon’ble Prime Minister’s Clean India Mission.
According to the verdict of Hon’ble Court, “Hazardous Wastes are highly toxic in nature.  The industrialization has had the effect of generation of huge quantities of hazardous wastes.  These and other side effects of development gave birth to principles of sustainable development so as to sustain industrial growth. The hazardous waste required adequate and proper control and handling.  Efforts are required to be made to minimise it.  In developing nations, there are additional problems including that of dumping of hazardous waste on their lands by some of the nations where cost of destruction of such waste is felt very heavy.  These and other allied problems gave birth to Basel Convention.”  This verdict has been given in Writ Petition (Civil) No.657 of 1995. The Convention was made part of its order by the Hon’ble Court due to alarming situation created by dumping of hazardous waste, its generation and serious and irreversible damage, as a result thereof, to the environment, flora and fauna, health of animals and human beings. Hon’ble Court took cognizance of dumping of hazardous wastes in Indian waters as violation of Article 14 and 21 of the Constitution of India. It is evident from it that the position of this Indian delegate betrays his ignorance about the issue;
I wish inform you that such motivated attempts have attracted widespread criticism from environment, public health groups and even the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) when hazardous wastes and hazardous materials and recyclable materials was being made synonymous. by redefining "hazardous waste" as "hazardous material" in a manifest act of linguistic corruption. It is noteworthy that in a study, Associated Chambers of Commerce & Industry (ASSOCHAM) also recommended ban on trade in hazardous wastes. Two members of Hon’ble Court's own monitoring committee on hazardous wastes have also raised objections They who are complicit in promoting hazardous waste dumping in our country are doing so at the behest of hazardous waste traders. Their role needs to be probed by the Parliamentary Committee.
I wish to draw your attention towards Basel Convention’s very clear and simple definition of waste: wastes are materials which are disposed of, or intended to be disposed of, or required to be disposed of, to the environment”. Hon’ble Court’s verdict has directed the Union of India to incorporate the Basel list in the existing Rules and had actively argued for expanding the list of prohibited items for import. If India does not revise its position it will amounts to a formal announcement that India is welcoming globalisation of the toxic hazardous waste and its arrival in Indian waters. Instead of falling into the trap of hazardous waste traders, India should call for the development of guidance to aid countries to help prohibit efforts to reclassify hazardous waste as non-waste in an exercise of circuitous definition. Hazardous waste exporters from rich countries have been consistently seeking to export toxic scrap to India and likewise, there has been a similar trend among businesses in the India to import such waste. This is being done despite the fact that National Environment Policy acknowledges how "Environmental factors are estimated as being responsible in some cases for nearly 20 percent of the burden of disease in India";
I submit that India must take a principled stand in tune with the main principles of this UN treaty which are: transboundary movements of hazardous wastes should be reduced to a minimum consistent with their environmentally sound management; hazardous wastes should be treated and disposed of as close as possible to their source of generation; and hazardous waste generation should be reduced and minimized at source. The present position is contrary to these principles and stands in manifest contrast with its position in 1992.
Sir, you may recollect that by decision III/1, of September 22, 1995, at COP-3, the Third meeting of the Conference of the Contracting Parties to the above Convention that took place in Geneva in September 1995, adopted an Amendment to the Convention. This bans the export of hazardous wastes for final disposal and recycling from rich countries to poorer countries. This Article reads as follows: “Instruments of ratification, approval, formal confirmation or acceptance of amendments shall be deposited with the Depositary. Amendments adopted in accordance with paragraphs 3 or 4 [of article 17 of the Convention] shall enter into force between Parties having accepted them on the ninetieth day after the receipt by the Depositary of their instrument of ratification, approval, formal confirmation or acceptance by at least three-fourths of the Parties who accepted them or by at least two thirds of the Parties to the protocol concerned who accepted them, except as may otherwise be provided in such protocol. The amendments shall enter into force for any other Party on the ninetieth day after that Party deposits its instrument of ratification, approval, formal confirmation or acceptance of the amendments.” The Ban Amendment has now entered into force without India. Its parent treaty, the Basel Convention is in force and India is a party to it.
I submit that under the influence of countries like USA, Germany, United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, South Korea and Japan in general and U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the world’s largest business federation representing the interests of more than 3 million businesses, International Chamber of Commerce, US Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries and Bureau of International Recycling (BIR), the international trade federation representing the world’s recycling industry, India’s position  have faced continued dilution. These countries and interests never wished Basel Convention, Ban Amendment and compliant Rules to come into force.

I submit that the Parliamentary Committee on Science and Technology, Environment, Forests and Climate Change may be requested to examine how as part of Clean India Mission, our Government can try to regain its original stance of being a strong opponent of the international waste trade and an ardent supporter ban on toxic waste exports from the world’s richest countries to less industrialized ones. Government of India should recollect its position at the First Conference of Parties to the Basel Convention in Piriapolis, Uruguay, from 3-4 December, 1992. Shri A. Bhattacharja, Head of the Indian delegation who pleaded with industrialized countries to stop exporting hazardous waste. “You industrial countries have been asking us to do many things for the global good — to stop cutting down our forests, to stop using your CFCs. Now we are asking you to do something for the global good: keep your own waste.” Government of India was firm even at the Second Basel Convention Conference of Parties, in March 1994 and advocated ban on all hazardous waste exports from the world’s most  industrialized countries, the members of the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) to non-industrialized countries like India. It was only in 1995 that Government of India revised its position at the Third Basel Conference of Parties in September 1995 under the harmful influence of representatives of the US and Australia.

I submit that US Government and ICC have been instrumental in outwitting the UN ban on hazardous waste trade through bilateral Free Trade Agreements between countries. In one of its position paper on the Basel Convention, ICC has even called for the ban on hazardous waste to be stopped by the World Trade Organization (WTO) because it is trade disruptive. This undermines the customary environmental law principles.

To safeguard our country’s environmental security and maritime security, India should not allow itself to be misled by hazardous waste traders who are blinded by their lust for profit at any human and environmental cost. In any case the truth about who all were immorally, unethically and unpatriotically complicit with merchants of death, the hazardous waste traders and who all defended public health will not remain hidden for long. This is required to ensure that foreign toxic waste does not flow in the veins and arteries of present and future Indians.

In view of the above facts, I wish to request you to save India from becoming the dumping ground of rich countries by referring The Recycling of Ships Bill, 2019 to the above mentioned Parliamentary Committee. 

Thanking you in anticipation

warm regards
Gopal Krishna
ToxicsWatch
E-mail: 1715krishna@gmail.com
Web: www.toxicswatch.org 
                                                              


 
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