An asbestos mine in Thetford Mines, the Quebec-based, major world source of chrysotile asbestos. [Photo: Pierre Obendrauf, The Gazette (Montreal)]
Canadian doctors have called for the federal government to end its support for the asbestos industry.
Doctors attending the Canadian Medical Association’s annual meeting in Saskatoon last month voted overwhelmingly for the federal government to end its opposition to the international designation of chrysotile asbestos as a hazardous chemical, eliminate the use and export of asbestos, and support the proper management of asbestos, including remediation.
An October 2008 editorial
in the Canadian Medical Association Journal
criticized the government’s ongoing support for the Chrysotile Institute, an industry lobby group formerly called the Asbestos Institute, pointing out that Canada is backing exports, while refusing to help developing countries deal with the decades-long aftermath of asbestos exposure.
“For Canada to export asbestos to poor countries that lack the capacity to use it safely is inexplicable,” the editorial said.
Canada continues to be one of the world’s leading producers and exporters of asbestos — 95 per cent of the asbestos produced in Canada is for export, mostly to emerging nations, where there are poor, if any safeguards in place.
The use or import of asbestos has been banned in most developed countries including the European Union, Australia, New Zealand and the UK. The World Health Organization has classified all forms of asbestos as human carcinogens.