Canada and asbestos

Written by  //  September 22, 2012  //  Canada, David/Terry Jones, Québec  //  1 Comment

Asbestos: A century of concerns A brief history of the fight over asbestos Ottawa Citizen/ October 2008
Asbestos: The magic mineral that was once Canada’s gold
In spite of health concerns, asbestos continues to be mined in Canada. Our country is the second-largest exporter of the mineral after Russia, shipping it mainly to developing countries such as India and China.
What’s more, unlike countries in the European Union, as well as Japan, Australia and Saudi Arabia, Canada has not banned asbestos. Rather, the federal government actively promotes its use globally. An October 2008 editorial in the Canadian Medical Association Journal criticizing asbestos exporting called Canada “an avid asbestos cheerleader.” CBC/June 2008
In October 2009, Wednesday Night wrote: And Lo! Look what’s back in the headlines: “Harper gave a commitment that he will block a UN environmental agreement (the Rotterdam Convention) and prevent chrysotile asbestos from being put on its list of hazardous substances. This would allow Canada to sell asbestos without informing people in developing countries that it is hazardous” And this despite “15 doctors, toxicologists, occupational hygienists and epidemiologists, several being professors at the universities of Montreal, Laval and Sherbrooke, [who] have issued an extraordinary public statement calling for Quebec’s asbestos exports to end.”


Jeffrey mine in Asbestos, Quebec
Published on Asbestos Facts Canada website

 As asbestos industry collapses, a town’s fibre is torn
(Globe & Mail) The sign by the side of the highway is hard to miss: ASBESTOS. No, it’s not a health warning to motorists about hazardous material ahead.
It’s the name of a proud community in southern Quebec, waging a fight to survive in an increasingly lonely stand against the world.
Asbestos has become a mineral with a dubious reputation and a doubtful future, and its namesake town faces a similar fate. Medical experts link asbestos to cancer. Countries worldwide ban it and Canadians rip it out of their walls. And now, in the space of less than four weeks, formerly staunch political allies in Ottawa and Quebec City have abruptly jettisoned their support for the asbestos industry.
21 September
Asbestos in Canada — Loved no more
(The Economist) IT HAS long been an article of faith that the Canadian government, regardless of which party was in power, would defend the asbestos industry in the province of Quebec. Federal officials have fought for years to keep chrysotile, the type of asbestos mined in the province, off an international list of hazardous substances put together under the Rotterdam Convention. Federal (and provincial) funds went to the now defunct Chrysotile Institute, which advocated internationally for its “safe and responsible” use. Even as Canadian and international medical groups called for a ban on chrysotile because of its link to cancer and the media pointed to the hypocrisy of spending millions to rid Canadian government buildings of asbestos while pushing developing countries to buy it, the federal government stood firm.
That changed on September 14th, when the federal industry minister, Christian Paradis, said Canada would no longer block the inclusion of chrysotile on the Rotterdam Convention’s list. At first glance, giving up this particular fight changes little. Larger asbestos exporters such as Russia, Brazil, Kazakhstan or China, can still prevent a decision that requires unanimous consensus. However it is hugely symbolic within Canada, especially as it was accompanied by a promise to spend C$50m ($51m) in federal funds to help the towns of Thetford Mines and Asbestos diversify their economies. This was a clear signal to the two remaining mines, which are both closed, that the federal government can no longer be counted on for support.
14 September

Feds Will No Longer Resist Listing Substance As Hazardous Chemical

(HuffPost/Canadian Press) Industry Minister Christian Paradis has announced Canada will no longer oppose the inclusion of chrysotile asbestos as a hazardous chemical in the Rotterdam Convention.
The Conservative government’s hand was forced after Quebec’s premier-designate Pauline Marois decided to ban chrysotile mining in Quebec, Paradis said. The feds plan to invest up to $50 million to support the diversification of the economy in asbestos-producing communities. Paradis, who looked glum and spoke in a nearly hushed tone during the announcement, went on to say it would therefore be “illogical” to continue opposing the inclusion of asbestos in annex III of the Rotterdam Convention.
11 August
Asbestos’s future in Quebec election crosshairs
Quebec’s party leaders tossed around the delicate subject of the province’s still operating asbestos industry on Saturday as they outlined platforms on health and the environment.
François Legault, the Coalition Avenir Québec leader, said he would ban exports of asbestos from Quebec, one of a series of environmental initiatives the party laid out. Parti Québécois Leader Pauline Marois took a flipside approach to Legault’s, deploring the way the Jeffrey mine loan was granted but saying she wasn’t ready just yet to ban asbestos mining or exports.
30 July
Canada’s asbestos policy shameful, say epidemiologists
(RCI) A joint committee of epidemiologist societies around the world is calling for a global ban on the mining, use and export of all forms of asbestos. Its statement has been endorsed by more than 150 Canadian and international public health, civil society organizations and individual scientists from twenty countries.
23 July
Mine Jeffrey: l’amiante destiné à un pays qui veut l’interdire
(La Presse) La mine Jeffrey, relancée à coups de millions de dollars grâce au gouvernement du Québec, servira notamment à approvisionner les usines de Thaïlande du principal partenaire du projet. Or, la Thaïlande veut interdire totalement l’amiante au cours des prochains mois.
19 July
Calls for Canada to ban asbestos exports to India
(ABC online) The Gillard government is being urged to step in and tell Canada not to export its asbestos to India after Quebec’s provincial government provided a multi-million dollar loan to re-open an asbestos mine. The white asbestos extracted from the mine is classified as too dangerous to be used in Canada but it’s likely to find a market in India where the use of asbestos is widespread.
29 June
Canada’s troubled asbestos industry gets a $58-million lifeline
While the industry has appeared on the brink of collapse, Friday’s long-rumoured provincial loan will cover more than two-thirds of the cost of renovating and reopening the Jeffrey Mine in Asbestos, Que. — a move that could keep production going for another 20 years.
One of the last two remaining asbestos facilities in Canada, Jeffrey Mine suspended production last year due to financial problems. … The announcement came as rumours swirled about a possible provincial election in September. Vallieres, the long-time Liberal legislature member for the area, has announced he is not running.
May 2012
Chrysotile Institute is Closing – Bravo!
(Asbestos Facts.ca) The asbestos industry in Canada has been supported by an organization called The Chrysotile Institute based in Montreal for many years. It was founded in 1984 (a perfect year for such an Orwellian organization to begin) and was originally called the Asbestos Institute. It was most recently funded by the Quebec Government. The Institute closed at the end of April 2012 with no public explanation given.
29 February
Asbestos sector seeks Ottawa’s aid to fight WHO death estimate
WHO claims asbestos-related diseases kill more than 100,000 people every year
(CBC) The WHO’s goal, [Ivan Ivanov, a team leader in the WHO’s department of public health and environment] added, is to see countries stop the use of all types of asbestos, including the Canadian form known as chrysotile.
The Canadian sector insists that chrysotile is not as dangerous as other types of asbestos and that safety conditions for workers have vastly improved.
14 February
Quebec asbestos industry mulls European convictions
(CBC) A representative for Canada’s controversial asbestos sector said he doesn’t think similar criminal charges could ever be laid against industry players here.
“I personally believe that there is no possibility,” said Guy Versailles, a spokesman for Montreal asbestos salesman Baljit Chadha and Quebec’s Jeffrey Mine.
Versailles said if it were possible, such charges likely would already have been filed against people in a highly scrutinized industry that has lost many civil lawsuits for past unsafe practices of the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s.
Canadian asbestos mining industry unafraid of legal repercussions
(RCI) Canada’s asbestos industry says it has nothing to fear after two men were criminally convicted today in more than 2,000 asbestos-related deaths in Italy.  A representative for Canada’s controversial asbestos sector says he doesn’t believe similar criminal charges could ever be laid against industry players here.
2 February
McGill asbestos study flawed, epidemiologist says
Government plans to approve asbestos sales to developing world
(CBC) A major 40-year study on asbestos safety completed by a group of scientists at McGill University is flawed, lacks transparency and contains manipulated data says Dr. David Egilman, a professor at Brown University, health activist and longtime industry critic.
The study, which followed the health of 11,000 miners and mill workers in Quebec between 1966 and the late 1990s, is used by the Chrysotile Institute — a lobby arm funded by, overseen and closely associated with both Liberal and Conservative governments — to promote the use of asbestos overseas. McGill responds to charges it’s in bed with asbestos industry
Asbestos executive steps away from boards
A Montreal woman with ties to the asbestos industry has taken a “leave of absence” from the boards of both St. Mary’s Hospital Foundation and McGill University. The public institutions have been under pressure to cut ties with Roshi Chadha because of her executive role with Seja Trade Ltd., a Montreal-based asbestos export company.
20 January
India: Toxic Trade
Is India investing in a future health crisis by importing asbestos from Canada?
(Al Jazeera) More than 50 countries have banned asbestos products but India cannot get enough. It imports the mineral from Canada, risking a future health crisis.
Asbestos products have a deadly reputation. … Canada will not use asbestos itself but it is selling it by the shipload to India.

2011

21 November
Tory Backbenchers Growing Wary of Asbestos Support
Questions raised over the party line that asbestos is safe when handled properly.
(The Mark) A handful of backbench Tory MPs have apparently developed spines and/or consciences, as there is growing internal opposition to the party’s rigid support of Quebec’s asbestos industry. Canadian Press’ Jennifer Ditchburn and Andy Blatchford point to the five Tory MPs that abstained from a vote on an NDP bill that last week that would have made exporting chrysotile evidence illegal as evidence that the rank and file aren’t exactly too keen to support a party position that directly contributes to the death of 100,000 people in the developing world each year.
25 September
ASBESTOS INDUSTRY LAUNCHING COUNTER-OFFENSIVE
(RCI) A prominent asbestos merchant will be in Ottawa on Monday as part of a counter-offensive at a critical time for the asbestos industry. Baljit Chadha, the president and founder of Balcorp Limited, an international trade and marketing firm, will meet with critics on and off Parliament Hill along with groups that have attacked his industry for causing cancer. …  Mr. Chadha says the hazardous substance can be used safely — even in poorer countries, where most Canadian asbestos is sold. His counter-offensive comes while he’s trying to reopen one of Canada’s last two asbestos mines, in Quebec.
18 August
Asbestos: Dr. Kellie Leitch, Conservative MP, Must Choose Ethics Over Politics, Fellow MDs Say
(Canadian Press via HuffPost) Hundreds of health professionals are urging a doctor-turned-Conservative MP to honour her medical oath and work against Canada’s controversial asbestos industry.
An open letter signed by some 250 medical doctors and public-health professionals was sent Thursday to Dr. Kellie Leitch, a prominent pediatric orthopedic surgeon elected last spring as a Tory.
15 August
Quebec grants extension for asbestos mine — Deadline to raise $25M pushed to October 1
(CBC) The Quebec government will extend a financing deadline for one of Canada’s last asbestos mines until the fall, giving more time for operators to restart production of the controversial mineral.
Tories tell asbestos widow to stop using their logo
The Conservative Party of Canada has raised the spectre of legal action against a Quebec widow who is fighting to stop Canada’s export of asbestos.
On July 29, Michaela Keyserlingk received a cease-and-desist email from Conservative party executive director Dan Hilton.
The email concerned an ad banner that Keyserlingk had been using to promote her anti-asbestos website.
“Canada is the only western country that still exports deadly asbestos!” reads the banner’s text, which is nestled between a “Danger” symbol and the Conservative logo.
“It has come to our attention that your organization is currently using a trademark of the Conservative Party of Canada in your advertising material,” Hilton wrote. “This usage is unauthorized and must cease immediately. . . . Please govern yourself accordingly.”
14 August
Montreal company hopes to revive Asbestos mine
1 August
David T. Jones: Asbestos and the Nanny State
Asbestos is hardly the only product with invidious effects if not employed with care and discretion.
(The Hill Times | subscription only) … hence to asbestos as a surrogate for anything that might be economically profitable but potentially harmful.
Begin with the basics: asbestos is a legal product mined in several Quebec locations. Once widely used as insulation, it is now primarily used in making concrete in areas outside Canada. If not properly handled, some varieties of asbestos can be dangerous, ultimately causing cancer if inhaled over an extended period. Canadian asbestos producers claim their variety of asbestos (chrysotile) is not dangerous if handled properly (and others observe asbestos reserves are close to exhaustion and the problem will eliminate itself). Regardless, the point remains: is there no “let the buyer beware” factor in play for Canadian exporters? We, of course, disagree completely with our friend David’s take on this question.
30 June
Human cost of asbestos is not worth the jobs
(Gazette editorial) Canada itself bans the use of asbestos in construction. So serious is it about this ban that when it drew up plans to repair parliamentary buildings in Ottawa, it budgeted millions of dollars to rid them of asbestos. So when Canada’s representatives last week rejected medically accepted fact – exposure to asbestos can cause cancer – it took a stance that was beyond hypocritical. It was perverse.
28 June
Asbestos hypocrisy sticking to PM
(Toronto Star) A day after Canada derailed the asbestos consensus in Geneva, Harper travelled to Quebec for Fête nationale celebrations.
He picked the town of Thetford Mines, home of the largest remaining asbestos mine in the province.
He said nothing about the Geneva decision.
His presence alone did all the talking.

23 June
Harper’s Asbestos Support ‘Crassest Form of Politics': CLC Head
Canada again scuttles international effort to label chrysotile exports toxic.
(The Tyee) At the end of the day, Postmedia News reported that Canada, fearing that momentum was building to add asbestos to the list, openly expressed its opposition to UN-mandated warning labels. As a result, nothing will change in how Quebec asbestos is sold into third world markets, where the likelihood of the elaborate safety protocols needed in handling asbestos being followed is almost non existent.
Canada blocks move to deem asbestos hazardous
(CBC) Canada has stepped in to block the listing of chrysotile asbestos on an international list of hazardous chemicals.
The convention needs consensus to be able to make changes to the list. The only countries still objecting are Canada, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Vietnam . What wonderful company for our country! MPs slam Tories for blocking asbestos listing
20 June
Ex-B.C. cabinet minister Chuck Strahl urges Tories to act on asbestos
(Vancouver Sun) Chuck Strahl, a senior Tory cabinet minister until his retirement from politics in May, wrote a column on the opening day of an international conference to decide whether the substance should be labelled as a hazardous material under the United Nations’ Rotterdam Convention.
Strahl called on Ottawa to stand with the world’s industrialized countries and list the carcinogen on Annex III of the Rotterdam Convention.
14 June
Shut down Canada’s asbestos industry: NDP
(CBC) The federal Opposition New Democrats and health activists are urging the Conservative government to put an end to Canada’s asbestos industry, saying the government’s own health experts have warned the controversial mineral is unsafe.
13 June
UN-sanctioned group criticizes Canada on asbestos science
Canada has signed an international treaty that obligates it to follow the latest scientific evidence on the dangers of asbestos, a UN-affiliated labour organization is reminding the country this week.
But the NDP has unearthed a 2006 Health Canada recommendation that suggests the Harper government isn’t even following the advice of its own experts on chrysotile asbestos.
Health Canada’s asbestos advice rejected by government
(CBC) The Canadian government rejected advice from Health Canada that asbestos be added to a global list of hazardous materials in 2006, CBC News has learned.
According to documents obtained under Access to Information, a senior Health Canada bureaucrat wrote that the agency believed that chrysotile — a form of asbestos that has been linked to cancer — should be added to a UN treaty known as the Rotterdam Convention.
Gerald Caplan: Harper’s in and Canada’s back – just ask Jon Stewart
(Globe & Mail) … we will know a lot more about the people who run our country very soon. On June 20, a meeting convenes in Geneva of the 143 nations, including Canada, that have ratified the UN’s Rotterdam Convention. The little-known but vital convention covers pesticides and industrial chemicals that have been banned or severely restricted for health or environmental reasons.
Delegates will vote on a recommendation of the convention’s expert scientific body to put chrysotile asbestos (the only form of asbestos traded in the world today, and the form mined in Quebec) on the its list of hazardous substances. As Prime Minister, Stephen Harper has repeatedly joined with a handful of other countries in blocking this recommendation, putting the interests of the asbestos industry ahead of global health. As of now, he is pledged to continue this remarkable stand.
Here is the perfect issue for the Official Opposition NDP to pursue immediately and loudly. Happily enough, 76 per cent of Quebeckers oppose government financing for an asbestos mine with only 14 per cent in favour. Shamefully enough, this tiny minority includes most Quebec trade-union leaders.
13 May
Perhaps Jon Stewart will accomplish what (more) serious commentators have failed to do.
Jon Stewart mocks Quebec town of Asbestos
The Quebec town of Asbestos was the object of ridicule on one of the world’s most popular comedy programs Thursday night.
“The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” produced a sometimes tongue-in-cheek report that was also indignant about the town’s attachment to the asbestos industry.
It interviewed local officials who said chrysotile asbestos is perfectly safe if handled properly — and it also spoke with a Canadian Medical Association doctor who dismissed that suggestion.
The piece began with light mockery but took on a more serious tone toward the end.
It reminded people that asbestos is blamed for 100,000 deaths a year and that there’s little evidence the product is handled safely in India, the prime market for Quebec asbestos. Jon Stewart takes aim at Asbestos (Globe & Mail video) Daily Show mocks Asbestos, Que. (CBC)
George Monbiot takes on Christopher Booker and the Daily Telegraph citing,  among other misinformation
Booker has now written 42 articles downplaying the risks of white asbestos
. His main informant is a man called John Bridle. Bridle has described himself as “the world’s foremost authority on asbestos science”. He has claimed to possess an honorary professorship from the Russian Academy of Sciences, to be a consultant to an institute at the University of Glamorgan, the chief asbestos consultant for an asbestos centre in Lisbon, and a consultant to Vale of Glamorgan trading standards department. None of these claims is true. Neither the institute at the University of Glamorgan nor the centre in Lisbon have ever existed. His only relationship with the Glamorgan trading standards department is that he has been successfully prosecuted by the department for claiming a qualification he does not possess.
This has not stopped Booker from repeatedly citing Bridle as an expert, and using his claims to dismiss the scientific work on the subject. Several times the Health and Safety Executive has tried to correct Booker’s false claims, but he has kept repeating them, even claiming – wrongly – that the Executive’s own work supports them. Unreleased report shows high levels of asbestos in many public buildings
(Globe & Mail) Asbestos is a sensitive topic in Ottawa. Dozens of countries have banned it and its use is opposed by groups ranging from the Canadian Cancer Society to the World Health Organization. Asbestos is mined in the Gaspé region around the riding of Natural Resources minister Christian Paradis, who has led the Harper government in defending continued sales, almost all of which are made to developing countries.
26 April
PM defends his support of asbestos industry
(CTV)_Harper spent Tuesday unabashedly boosting the industry, insisting asbestos can be used safely, even as his government’s support has come under fierce criticism at home and abroad.
Asbestos is a known carcinogen whose use and sale is highly restricted in Canada. The mineral is exported from Canada to developing countries, however, with the support of the federal government and taxpayers.
Harper was asked whether the experience of Transport Minister Chuck Strahl had any influence on his government’s support of the industry. Strahl was diagnosed with incurable mesothelioma in 2005 as a result of inhaling asbestos fibres in his younger years. Harper did not mention Strahl’s battle with cancer in his response. He said a majority Conservative government would not roll back current restrictions in this country.
15 April
Asbestos decision attacked Cancer Society wants mine plan stopped
(Postmedia News) The Canadian Cancer Society is calling on the Quebec government to withdraw its support for an expansion at an asbestos mine in the province, citing the health concerns associated with exposure to the material.
The national group said it was “deeply disappointed” that Quebec Economic Development Minister Clement Gignac conditionally approved the expansion of the Jeffrey mine in Asbestos, about 150 kilometres east of Montreal. Québec confirme son appui à la relance de la mine Jeffrey
‎28 March
Ban the immoral export of asbestos
(Ottawa Citizen) Here’s a suggestion for Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff. Instead of trying match the Conservatives’ largesse, why not demonstrate that you are willing to take a political risk in Quebec on an issue of integrity? Why not promise that if voters throw the Harper Conservatives out, Canada will quit exporting deadly asbestos to developing countries?

2010

15 October
Gerald Caplan: Exporting death– Another popular Harper foreign policy
What do you call a country that deliberately sells products abroad that will kill many people? You call it Canada. What do you call it when a state action kills a large numbers of defenseless people? You call it a crime against humanity. So how can exporting death by Canadian asbestos not be a crime against humanity and how can a state that does so not be guilty of committing such a crime?
… Except for some corporate interests and the paid hacks who shamelessly support them, no one doubts that asbestos, of whatever variety, is a cancer-causing killer. Here’s the bottom line: Asbestos can never again be used in Canada and 52 countries have banned it outright.
Every health organization you’ve ever heard of has condemned both the Canadian and the Quebec governments for actively promoting asbestos exports. According to the World Health Organization, more than 100,000 people worldwide die of occupational exposure to asbestos each year. As one of the top five asbestos exporters in the world, Canada is a major contributor to the carnage. Yet it continues, with the active support of Stephen Harper and Jean Charest.
29 June
Quebec Asbestos Mine
(CBC/The National) Mellissa Fung reports on the proposed opening of a new asbestos mine in Quebec, a move that the Canadian Cancer Society says would contribute to a global epidemic of asbestos-related cancers that claims 90,000 lives every year worldwide.
19 May
Wednesday Night #1472) The continuing export sales of asbestos to third world countries is troubling. Canadians won’t buy it. It is being removed from the walls of Parliament, yet the Quebec Liberals, federal Conservatives and the Bloc continue to support its export and to finance the Chrysotile Institute, arguing that the type of asbestos mined today, chrysotile (white asbestos), is different from the type (amphibole) that has wreaked so much havoc. It is used for things like cement, a solid that is less likely to release the deadly fibres into the atmosphere, and provides major improvements to sewer pipes in the developing world. While this may be true under controlled circumstances, the fact is that once the product is exported, Canada has no further control.
12 May
End deadly asbestos industry, experts urge Canadian government
(CUPE) .. a broad coalition of politicians, world renowned experts, asbestos victims, labour leaders, researchers and health care providers issued a joint call to the Canadian government to ban the production and export of asbestos.
The group is also calling for just transition policies for communities relying on the asbestos industry.
“Asbestos is the greatest Industrial killer the world has ever known,” said NDP MP Pat Martin. “More Canadians die from asbestos than all other industrial causes combined yet Canada continues to be one of the world’s leading producers and exporters of asbestos. We are exporting human misery on a monumental scale and it is an international disgrace.” MP for Winnipeg centre and former asbestos miner, Martin has been leading the charge in the House of Commons to have asbestos production and export banned.
1 February
Indian workers rebuke Quebec over asbestos
It will be remembered as an act of barbarism in the history of industrial development where asbestos was knowingly allowed to be used, and where workers were knowingly subjected to it.—Gobal Krishna, activist
Unionized workers and activists in India capitalized on Quebec’s trade mission this week to blast the province for its active role on the global asbestos market.
While Quebec Premier Jean Charest led his 130-person mission through meetings with local business leaders and entrepreneurs, Indian opponents spoke out against the asbestos industry, blaming it for making workers in the subcontinent ill.

2009

25 June
Asbestos concerns follow-up in Parliament
11 June
Canada’s Ugly Secret
Mellissa Fung investigates how Canada’s overseas asbestos sales may be breathing new life into a dying domestic industry, but may also be making exposed workers sick.
(CBC/The National) For decades, Canadians have known how dangerous asbestos can be. It can cause severe respiratory problems, even lung cancer, which is why there isn’t much of a market for Canadian asbestos here at home. But there is in India, where it’s used with practically no safety regulations, and without warnings that it can be deadly. So why is Canada the last developed nation to still sell such a dangerous substance? Mellissa Fung files this report on Canada’s ugly secret.

2008

24 October
Canada’s Asbestos Time Bomb
a comprehensive report from the Ottawa Citizen
Katie Daubs,:India’s hidden epidemic
It’s hard to address the problem of asbestos-based illness when it’s misdiagnosed, under-reported and often forgotten
(The Ottawa Citizen) Unlike poverty, asbestosis is hidden in India. It does not sing on trains or beg on the streets. The disease is misdiagnosed, under-reported and forgotten, says Madhumita Dutta, a founding member of the Ban Asbestos Network of India.
As India struggles to improve conditions for workers, critics such as Ms. Dutta fear that an already-hidden epidemic will grow as asbestos products, such as the asbestos-cement roofs, spread across the country providing shelter to the ignorant poor. Construction workers and even homeowners may become ill if the asbestos sheets are cut and the asbestos is exposed.
India is Canada’s biggest market, and Canada has been criticized heavily by the medical profession for continuing to export 95 per cent of the asbestos it mines to locations like this. Canada, India’s third-biggest supplier of chrysotile asbestos and the main advocate that it can be used safely, does not monitor workers’ health from afar.
Canada vs. the world Critics say the only thing blocking a global asbestos ban is Canada’s dwindling industry

2007

1 October
The Chrysotile King: The last gasps of asbestos
After a 30-year fight, Canada’s chrysotile business is dying out
(Maclean’s) The shutdown of the industry in Canada will be cause for celebration among critics, who maintain that the export of asbestos is an international embarrassment. But, say workers here, the critics are blind to 30 years of change and progress in the asbestos business. The kind of asbestos mined in Canada, called chrysotile, is safer than the variety that has wreaked such havoc worldwide. Unlike other varieties, chrysotile is considered by the government and experts around the world to be safe when used properly. No longer sprayed on walls, it is typically mixed in cement to make pipes and building materials. Illness among today’s chrysotile miners and workers is extremely rare. Nevertheless, the industry has never been able to outrun its troubled past or to shake its deadly image. “It’s the sins of our fathers,” says Ritchie Harnish, a worker at the Black Lake mine for the past 35 years. And to the last few hundred workers here, the constant threat of closure is the final insult against a much-maligned and misunderstood industry.

2006

Asbestos impasse “tragic for public health”
Chrysotile asbestos will remain off a global “watch list” of toxic substances for at least two years after countries led by Canada blocked consensus in Geneva.
Chrysotile asbestos is a known human carcinogen which represents 94 per cent of world asbestos consumption.
Parties to the Rotterdam Convention, an international treaty governing trade in toxic substances, failed on Friday to agree to add chrysotile asbestos to a list of 39 chemicals and pesticides that exporting countries must inform importers about before shipping

One Comment on "Canada and asbestos"

  1. gold price September 15, 2012 at 2:57 pm · Reply

    The asbestos industry has been completely closed down in Quebec since September 2011. The asbestos mine at Thetford Mines, after operating for 130 years, shut down last year after a landslide from its tailings piles damaged the mine, rendering it inoperable, and destroyed a road close to the mine. LAB Chrysotile, the company that operated the mine, then declared bankruptcy.

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