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January 17, 2018

Call to ban asbestos use and import, – a reply from Chrysotile Asbestos Cement Manufacturers Association

Call to ban asbestos use and import, – a reply from Chrysotile
Asbestos Cement Manufacturers Association

Anton Edema, the coordinator of Chrysotile Asbestos Cement
Manufacturers Association of Sri Lanka in a letter referring a to the
article “Call to Ban asbestos use and Import” (Sunday Observer Feb 1)
says:

“It is regrettable to note a respectable Toxicologist without facts
or proper statistics pertain to Sri Lanka (or even India) voicing a
non-existing problem. Asbestos is a group of natural fibrous minerals
composed of silicates that exhibit particularly interesting
physiochemical properties such as flexibility and resistance to
traction, heat and chemical reactions. Because of these properties,
asbestos is used commercially and incorporated into numerous products
such as cement, asphalt, brake pads, etc. Asbestos fibres are divided in
to two large mineralogical groups: amphiboles (crocidolite, amosite,
tremolite, actiolite and anthophyllite, etc) and serpentines (which
include only CHRYSOTILE variety). Blue and Amphiboles are banned.

“Chrysotile asbestos fibre (composed mainly of magnesium and silica)
is the only variety of asbestos mined and produced now and is a great
reinforcing agent apart from having unquestionable technical
characteristics. Chrysotile variety of asbestos carries no measurable
risk to human health at exposure levels below 1 fibre / ml. This is
according to numerous epidemiological studies, some of them covering
periods of over 30 years.

“Chrysotile Asbestos in general environment; Fine fibres, invisible
to the eye, are present in the air and water in almost every region of
the globe. Hence all of us may be inhaling and also ingesting them
through drinking water every day. Some studies have shown that every
individual breathes in between 10,000 and 15,000 asbestos fibres each
day and drinks water containing between 200,000 to 2,000,000 fibres per
litre. Even developed nations such as USA and Canada have NOT banned
most of the asbestos containing materials (ACMs). USA still allows 28
ACMs.

“For more than 60 years Sri Lanka has imported Chrysotile asbestos
mainly from Canada and Russia for the use in asbestos cement roofing
sheets. It has done so following the strict control measures concerning
Safety in the use of chrysotile asbestos. During this time there has not
been a single proven case of adverse health impacts in Sri Lanka which
suggests that the risks from Chrysotile asbestos exposure are negligible
for workforce in asbestos cement industry as well as general public.”

Source article: 

Call to ban asbestos use and import, – a reply from Chrysotile Asbestos Cement Manufacturers Association

Asbestos revealed as Canada’s top cause of workplace death

Asbestos exposure is the single largest on-the-job killer in Canada, accounting for more than a third of total workplace death claims approved last year and nearly a third since 1996, new national data obtained by The Globe and Mail show. The 368 death claims last year alone represent a higher number than fatalities from highway accidents, fires and chemical exposures combined.

More Related to this Story

Since 1996, almost 5,000 approved death claims stem from asbestos exposure, making it by far the top source of workplace death in Canada.

The numbers come as the federal government – long a supporter of the asbestos industry – continues to allow the import of asbestos-containing products such as pipes and brake pads. A Globe and Mail investigation earlier this year detailed how Ottawa has failed to caution its citizens about the impact that even low levels of asbestos can have on human health. Canada’s government does not clearly state that all forms of asbestos are known human carcinogens. Dozens of other countries including Australia, Britain, Japan and Sweden have banned asbestos.

Canada was one of the world’s largest exporters of asbestos for decades, until 2011, when the last mine in Quebec closed. The mineral’s legacy remains, as it was widely used in everything from attic insulation to modelling clay in schools and car parts and in a variety of construction materials such as cement, tiles and shingles. Health experts warn long latency periods mean deaths from asbestos will climb further.

“The indications are that we can expect an increase [in asbestos-related diseases] to continue for at least another decade or so. And that’s assuming we as a nation ban it now. If we don’t do that, we can expect it to continue to rise indefinitely, but perhaps at a lower rate,” said Colin Soskolne, an Edmonton-based professor emeritus at the University of Alberta.

In Australia, which banned asbestos in 2003, asbestos-related diseases continue to climb. The “responsible public-health action would be to ban the use of asbestos in Canada and other countries and replace it with substitutes,” said Dr. Soskolne, who is also chair of the International Joint Policy Committee of the Societies of Epidemiology, adding that there is “no demonstrated safe way to use it in Canada.”

Asbestos-related diseases have a long latency period of typically 20 to 40 years. Many victims die of mesothelioma, an aggressive form of cancer caused almost exclusively by exposure to asbestos, and asbestosis, a fibrosis of the lungs.

The data come from the Association of Workers’ Compensation Boards of Canada and is typically updated every fall. For 2013, the most recent year for which annual data are available, it shows the single greatest cause of death was mesothelioma, with 193 fatalities. Asbestosis was a factor in 82 deaths.

“There’s some misconception that we banned it – and we haven’t,” said Jim Brophy, former director of the Occupational Health Clinic for Ontario Workers in both Windsor and Sarnia. Canada now has “an enormous public-health tragedy, disaster on our hands.”

All commercial forms of asbestos including chrysotile, the type formerly mined and most commonly used in Canada, are classified as carcinogenic by the International Agency for Research on Cancer. Its evidence shows there is no “safe” form of asbestos nor a threshold that it considers safe.

The agency’s position is at odds with Health Canada, whose website continues to play down the risks of asbestos exposure. It never clearly states that all forms of asbestos cause cancer, but rather that chrysotile asbestos is “less potent” than other forms and that there “is no significant health risk” if the fibres are enclosed or tightly bound.

“Asbestos poses potential health risks only when fibres are present in the air people breathe,” Health Canada says. The problem is there’s no way of ensuring that all products are always bound or enclosed. Brake pads wear down; renos stir up dust while pipes and tiles get sawed.

Britain’s national regulator for workplace health and safety informs its citizens that asbestos causes about 5,000 deaths per year – but there is no comparable information on Health Canada’s site. Health Canada told The Globe and Mail it has no plans to update its website, last revised in 2012.

And while the World Health Organization bluntly says “all types of asbestos cause lung cancer, mesothelioma, cancer of the larynx and ovary, and asbestosis,” Health Canada still says asbestos fibres “can potentially” cause asbestosis, mesothelioma and lung cancer “when inhaled in significant quantities.” The potential link between exposure to asbestos and other types of cancers “is less clear,” it adds.

The workers’ compensation numbers don’t fully capture the total number of fatalities in Canada as not everyone is covered by workers’ comp and not every claim is successful. Separate Statistics Canada data show almost 4,000 people died of mesothelioma alone in the decade to 2011.

Heidi von Palleske says the numbers also don’t capture wives and children who have been affected. She calls herself an asbestos orphan – her father died in 2007, with asbestosis and lung and prostate cancer. He was a former worker at a plant run by Johns Manville, which made asbestos-fibre products. Her mother, who shook out and washed her husband’s clothes for years, died of mesothelioma in 2011 and Ms. von Palleske’s sister and brother have since been diagnosed with pleural plaque (a calcification of the lungs).

“It’s inexcusable,” said Ms. von Palleske. She wants to see a ban and better supports for families affected by workplace exposure.

Miners were among the first to be affected, but the range of occupations with workers exposed has expanded in recent decades.

About 152,000 workers in Canada are currently exposed to asbestos, according to Carex Canada, a research project funded by the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer. The five largest groups are specialty-trade contractors, building construction, auto repairs and maintenance, ship and boat building and remediation and waste management.

Number of workplace fatalities in Canada

From approved workers’ compensation claims, 1996-2013

  • Asbestos
  • Other causes of workplace death

THE GLOBE AND MAIL

»

SOURCE:

AWCBC

Year,1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10
'96,43,46,13,54,19,21,50,25,11,69
'97,128,79,25,7,30,19,34,35,21,43
'98,121,65,24,28,29,23,20,17,12,31
'99,173,28,30,16,21,23,19,17,17,17
'00,151,31,28,59,25,23,30,21,19,19
'01,186,31,35,37,30,32,25,14,18,22
'02,226,21,32,38,24,35,17,24,24,23
'03,259,27,32,42,33,30,22,27,22,13
'04,286,34,37,8,38,26,19,30,20,7
'05,344,37,28,52,26,32,14,30,18,11
'06,306,22,38,36,34,29,19,25,16,7
'07,335,36,29,57,29,22,17,26,21,11
'08,349,28,39,4,25,26,20,24,21,13
'09,392,14,25,18,18,13,23,16,21,6
'10,407,27,31,10,14,21,23,25,23,3
'11,378,30,27,5,7,27,24,20,22,7
'12,407,51,30,15,22,20,31,16,19,8
'13,368,32,19,9,21,12,20,22,20,8

Credit – 

Asbestos revealed as Canada’s top cause of workplace death

Feds say cleanup of Montana mining town working

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A long-delayed risk study released Monday for a Montana mining town where hundreds of people have died from asbestos poisoning concludes cleanup practices now in place are reducing risks to residents.

However, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency acknowledged there is no way to remove all the asbestos from the area and inhaling even a minute amount could cause lung problems.

The 328-page draft document will be used to guide the remaining cleanup of asbestos dust stemming from a W.R. Grace & Co. vermiculite mine outside Libby, a town of 2,600 people about 50 miles south of the Canada border.

The scenic mountain community has become synonymous with asbestos dangers. Health workers estimate 400 people have been killed and more than 2,000 sickened in Libby and the surrounding area.

Dozens of sites across the U.S. received or processed vermiculite from Libby’s mine, which was used as insulation in millions of homes.

The EPA study used lung scarring — not just cancer deaths — to help determine how much danger asbestos poses to people who remain in Libby, where the contaminated vermiculite had been widely used in homes, as construction fill, and for other purposes before its dangers were known.

The EPA already has conducted cleanup work on more than 2,000 homes, businesses and other properties in the Libby area at a cost of roughly $500 million.

Concentrations of asbestos in the air around town is now 100,000 times lower than when the mine was operating from 1963 to 1990, the EPA said.

Those levels could be higher at the mine site — where cleanup work has barely started — and in areas where property owners have not given access to EPA contractors, the agency said.

“Where EPA has conducted cleanup, those cleanups are effective,” said Rebecca Thomas, EPA project manager in Libby.

She added that there will be some residual contamination left behind but only in places where officials determine there’s no threat of human exposure.

“As long as no one’s exposed to it, it doesn’t pose a risk and we’ll leave it in place,” Thomas said.

W.R. Grace and industry groups have criticized the EPA’s low threshold for exposure as unjustified and impossible to attain. They said the EPA limit was lower than naturally occurring asbestos levels in some places.

The criticism was one of the factors that delayed the risk study. In a report last year, the EPA’s inspector general said internal agency issues including contracting problems and unanticipated work also contributed to the delay.

W.R. Grace was “pleased to see EPA believes it has effectively managed the health risk to acceptable levels,” said Rich Badmington, a spokesman for the Columbia, Maryland-based chemical company

Still, the company believes the EPA’s threshold for exposure is too low, he said.

The town remains under a first-of-its kind public health emergency declaration issued by former EPA administrator Lisa Jackson in 2009.

Cleanup work is pending for as many as 500 homes and businesses in Libby and nearby Troy. Completing that work will take three to five years, Thomas said.

Because of the long latency period for asbestos-related diseases, it could be many years before some people in Libby develop medical complications.

Libby Mayor Doug Roll said moving forward with the study was critical for the tourism- and mining-dependent town. Roll said Libby wants to overcome its image of a poisoned community.

“Grace was the stumbling block, trying to put a bunch of their input into it,” Roll said. “We’re trying to get out from underneath this cloud and start promoting Libby as a place you can come and visit — and not worry about the air quality.”

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Feds say cleanup of Montana mining town working

New article describes current state of asbestos use worldwide

What we need to learn from history, according to a new study in the Annals of Global Health

Challenges to global health can evolve from policies and decisions that take years or decades to unfold. An article in the current issue of the Annals of Global Health describes the current state of asbestos use worldwide, a story that began over 100 years ago, and the real and contrived controversies regarding asbestos.

At the peak of asbestos use in 1972 in the United States, more than 775,000 tons of asbestos were used, much of it by the construction trades and shipbuilding industry, in addition to the manufacturing of many consumer products. As the health risks associated with asbestos have become evident, more than 50 countries have banned asbestos, although India and the United States have not.

As investigators Arthur L. Frank, MD, PhD, Drexel University School of Public Health, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA, and T.K. Joshi, MBBS, MS (Surgery), Centre for Occupational and Environmental Health, Maulana Azad Medical College, New Delhi, India, relate, “Unfortunately, as the developed world was banning or constricting the use of asbestos, the developing world was greatly increasing its use of this toxic material. Major producers such as Russia, Kazakhstan, China, and Brazil continue to produce and export asbestos to countries around the world, especially to low- and middle-income countries that too often have weak or nonexistent occupational and environmental regulations.” They note that India produces little asbestos, but has become a major importer with exponential growth in manufacture of asbestos cement and pipes.

Asbestos minerals are divided into two groups, amphibole and serpentine, based on their chemistry and fiber morphology. The amphibole group includes crocidolite, amosite, tremolite, actinolite, and anthophyllite asbestos. The serpentine group is comprised solely of chrysotile asbestos, and it accounts for some 90% to 95% of all the asbestos used worldwide.

Two groups of diseases are associated with exposures to asbestos: nonmalignant diseases, which can be fatal, and cancer. The nonmalignant diseases associated with exposure to asbestos include asbestos warts, benign asbestotic pleural effusion, and asbestosis.

The now disproven belief that chrysotile asbestos is safe and the actions of the governments of Canada and India to support asbestos production in the face of strong epidemiological data show that this is not a strictly science-driven issue. Canada has recently had a turnabout and will likely exit the asbestos business, but India remains recalcitrant.

Dr. Frank and Dr. Joshi report on how the global spread of asbestos is changing but that there are still examples of flawed science being used to justify continued use. They suggest that, because of economic issues for asbestos producers, there “are far more insidious actions that follow a pattern first established by the tobacco industry in hiring public relations firms to obfuscate the scientific issues so that tobacco could still be sold…Similarly, the asbestos industry adopted the view that a public relations campaign was needed to quash the rising concerns about its health hazards.”

The authors caution that eventually the truths regarding asbestos exposure and its true hazards will be recognized and acted upon, but only after economic forces are overcome.

Link:  

New article describes current state of asbestos use worldwide

Asbestos likely more widespread than previously thought

Naturally occurring asbestos minerals may be more widespread than previously thought, with newly discovered sources now identified within the Las Vegas metropolitan area. The asbestos-rich areas are in locations not previously considered to be at risk, according to new report that will be presented at the Annual Meeting of the Geological Society of America (GSA) in Vancouver, Canada, on Sunday, 20 October.

“These minerals were found where one wouldn’t expect or think to look,” said Rodney Metcalf, associate professor of geology at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and co-researcher of the study. The naturally occurring asbestos was found in Boulder City, Nevada, in the path of a construction zone to build a multi-million dollar highway called the Boulder City Bypass, the first stage of an I-11 corridor planned between Las Vegas and Arizona.

Asbestos is a family of fibrous minerals which are known to cause lung cancer, mesothelioma, and other serious respiratory related illnesses when the fibers are inhaled. The GSA presentation will focus on the discovery of types of asbestos that geologists call fibrous iron sodium amphiboles and fibrous actinolite in Clark County, Nevada, and the geological settings that caused the unusual asbestos formation, said Metcalf.

“[Asbestos] is like a precious metal deposit, it forms at the confluence of several geologic features, which vary at each location,” said Metcalf.

In this case, it was a geological confluence of groundwater interacting with rock salt and a cooling magma body deep below earth’s surface to form the fibers and create this type of asbestos, said Brenda Buck, a professor of geology at UNLV and co-researcher of the study.

Later the rock was brought to the surface where it now exposed to rain and wind that can disperse it. This is the first discovery of asbestos in this kind of geological setting and it suggests the minerals could occur in other similar settings around the globe, said Buck, who has a background in medical geology.

Many regulations have been created to protect people from exposure to mined and refined asbestos, like fibrous actinolite, which the scientists discovered. But some naturally occurring asbestos is not regulated or labeled toxic under federal law, though they can be just as dangerous or even more toxic to humans, said Buck.

Naturally occurring asbestos can also be harmful and difficult to control, especially when it becomes dust and can be transported on the wind.

The research is being performed while the construction for a Boulder City bypass has been delayed due to concerns about the hazard of the naturally occurring asbestos. Boulder City has about 15,000 residents, and is about 32 kilometers (20 miles) from the Las Vegas metropolitan area, home to over 1.9 million people.

Scientists are still researching the amount of asbestos that is in the soil in the construction area, its toxicity to humans, and how far it can be transported by wind.

The new research Metcalf will be presenting could help scientists locate more formations of naturally occurring asbestos in areas that were not previously considered, he said.

“This means that there could be a lot of areas in the world that could have asbestos that we don’t know about. So there are people that are being exposed that have no idea,” said Buck.

The abstract can be found online at: https://gsa.confex.com/gsa/2014AM/webprogram/Paper250494.html

Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Geological Society of America. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

See original article here:  

Asbestos likely more widespread than previously thought

What to do when you find asbestos in your home

VICTORIA – Renovations can be stressful for a homeowner, especially when dealing with an older home where asbestos may be hiding under old flooring or around heating ducts.

Before Madeleine Bragg and her husband bought their 1940s home in Fernie, B.C., they had it inspected for asbestos, which was commonly mined and used for its high tolerance to heat. Roof tiles and insulation were tested and the conclusion was their new home was free of asbestos.

Story continues below

Unfortunately it wasn’t until they began renovating and were ripping up the old linoleum flooring in the kitchen that they discovered their home did, in fact, have asbestos.

Pulling up the flooring revealed a second layer of linoleum that had a paper lining containing asbestos.

“I was six months pregnant. I was flipping out,” says Bragg. “I thought it was so awful and if I had known asbestos was in the house we wouldn’t have bought it, or would have paid significantly less for it.”

The couple looked into removing the asbestos themselves, but when they realized the costs of the disposal bags and having to ship it out of town to be properly discarded, they opted to have professionals do the job for them.

Mid-construction the Braggs had to leave their home to be bagged and correctly treated before work could resume.

Summer Green, owner of RemovAll Remediation Services in Victoria, says it is possible for homeowners to do a smaller job themselves if they follow proper guidelines, such as those from WorkSafeBC.

“If it was my daughter, and her husband wanted to deal with asbestos on his own, I would say wet it down, follow the approved guidelines, and they would probably be OK,” says Green.

Many of the guidelines in place for abatement and removal are meant to protect construction workers and contractors who may come into contact with asbestos on a regular basis, but homeowners should be cautious and informed when removing asbestos.

According to Green, any home built before the 1990s could contain asbestos in the insulation and drywall and around boilers and pipes.

“Older houses are often heated by boilers and hot water registers,” she says. “Those pipes were covered in asbestos, often 80 to 90 per cent asbestos. With forced air heating they used duct tape, but at that time it was asbestos tape. Any white tape you see on your ducts contains asbestos, and they don’t even bother testing it.”

Many homeowners are unaware they have asbestos in their house until they become involved in a home renovation project where testing is required for work permits.

Green says it is possible for people to have lived in a house containing asbestos for many years without any health problems because issues arise only when asbestos fibres are released into the air.

“You can go up in an attic and breathe in fibreglass insulation and it can get in your lungs, and it can cause problems, but with fibreglass insulation the fibres are straight fibres,” says Green. “But with an asbestos fibre no matter how small you make it or break it down they are constantly splitting and have a barb on them.”

Fibreglass fibres can be coughed out of someone’s lungs, but with asbestos, Green says, fibres hook into the walls of your lungs and you can’t get them out.

According to the Government of Canada, potential health problems from asbestos exposure include asbestosis (scarring of the lungs which makes it hard to breathe), mesothelioma (a cancer of the lining of the chest or abdominal cavity) and lung cancer.

The cost of removing asbestos has begun to affect not only the way homeowners proceed with renovations, but it can also affect the cost of purchasing and insuring a home.

“In real estate, inspectors are noticing asbestos in the insulation on the forced air ducts or pipes, and homeowners have to deal with it before a house is sold,” says Green.

“Mortgage companies are saying they won’t finance until the asbestos is gone, and insurance companies may not insure without a clearance letter, which can affect the price of a home.”

© The Canadian Press, 2014


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What to do when you find asbestos in your home

If asbestos is detected in home, consult a professional about having it removed

VICTORIA – Renovations can be stressful for a homeowner, especially when dealing with an older home where asbestos may be hiding under old flooring or around heating ducts.

Before Madeleine Bragg and her husband bought their 1940s home in Fernie, B.C., they had it inspected for asbestos, which was commonly mined and used for its high tolerance to heat. Roof tiles and insulation were tested and the conclusion was their new home was free of asbestos.

Unfortunately it wasn’t until they began renovating and were ripping up the old linoleum flooring in the kitchen that they discovered their home did, in fact, have asbestos.

Pulling up the flooring revealed a second layer of linoleum that had a paper lining containing asbestos.

“I was six months pregnant. I was flipping out,” says Bragg. “I thought it was so awful and if I had known asbestos was in the house we wouldn’t have bought it, or would have paid significantly less for it.”

The couple looked into removing the asbestos themselves, but when they realized the costs of the disposal bags and having to ship it out of town to be properly discarded, they opted to have professionals do the job for them.

Mid-construction the Braggs had to leave their home to be bagged and correctly treated before work could resume.

Summer Green, owner of RemovAll Remediation Services in Victoria, says it is possible for homeowners to do a smaller job themselves if they follow proper guidelines, such as those from WorkSafeBC.

“If it was my daughter, and her husband wanted to deal with asbestos on his own, I would say wet it down, follow the approved guidelines, and they would probably be OK,” says Green.

Many of the guidelines in place for abatement and removal are meant to protect construction workers and contractors who may come into contact with asbestos on a regular basis, but homeowners should be cautious and informed when removing asbestos.

According to Green, any home built before the 1990s could contain asbestos in the insulation and drywall and around boilers and pipes.

“Older houses are often heated by boilers and hot water registers,” she says. “Those pipes were covered in asbestos, often 80 to 90 per cent asbestos. With forced air heating they used duct tape, but at that time it was asbestos tape. Any white tape you see on your ducts contains asbestos, and they don’t even bother testing it.”

Many homeowners are unaware they have asbestos in their house until they become involved in a home renovation project where testing is required for work permits.

Green says it is possible for people to have lived in a house containing asbestos for many years without any health problems because issues arise only when asbestos fibres are released into the air.

“You can go up in an attic and breathe in fibreglass insulation and it can get in your lungs, and it can cause problems, but with fibreglass insulation the fibres are straight fibres,” says Green. “But with an asbestos fibre no matter how small you make it or break it down they are constantly splitting and have a barb on them.”

Fibreglass fibres can be coughed out of someone’s lungs, but with asbestos, Green says, fibres hook into the walls of your lungs and you can’t get them out.

According to the Government of Canada, potential health problems from asbestos exposure include asbestosis (scarring of the lungs which makes it hard to breathe), mesothelioma (a cancer of the lining of the chest or abdominal cavity) and lung cancer.

The cost of removing asbestos has begun to affect not only the way homeowners proceed with renovations, but it can also affect the cost of purchasing and insuring a home.

“In real estate, inspectors are noticing asbestos in the insulation on the forced air ducts or pipes, and homeowners have to deal with it before a house is sold,” says Green.

“Mortgage companies are saying they won’t finance until the asbestos is gone, and insurance companies may not insure without a clearance letter, which can affect the price of a home.”

Link to article:

If asbestos is detected in home, consult a professional about having it removed

Government silent as questions mount about asbestos danger

The federal Conservative government is refusing to join the rest of the developed world in declaring that there are no safe uses for asbestos, even though the material is the top workplace killer in Canada and deaths from exposure are expected to rise.

While such countries as Australia, Japan, Sweden and Britain have imposed a ban on the flame-retardant mineral once widely employed in construction and still used in other applications including brake pads, Canada continues to allow asbestos to be both imported and exported.


No safe use: The Canadian asbestos epidemic that Ottawa is ignoring

Canada’s embrace of the “miracle mineral” has seeded an epidemic of cancers. Yet many Canadians are still exposed to asbestos every day. Don’t look to Ottawa for help — it’s still defending an industry that, like its victims, is wasting away. Read the full story, then share your thoughts in the comments.

More Related to this Story

The government would not respond directly on Tuesday to a question from the opposition about why the policy has not changed despite overwhelming evidence of the health risks.

A Globe and Mail report on Saturday said the federal government has dragged its feet in protecting this country’s citizens from asbestos’s deadly effects, and that more than 1,200 successful claims for fatality benefits were made in Canada between 2007 and 2012.

Health Canada’s website plays down the causal relationship between asbestos and some types of cancer, while asserting that it is a problem only when its fibres become airborne and “significant quantities” are inhaled.

Pat Martin, a New Democrat MP who worked in asbestos mines when he was young and has been campaigning to have the substance banned in Canada since he was elected 17 years ago, demanded to know why the government is not wavering from its position.

Mr. Martin rose during the daily Question Period in the House of Commons to ask how Labour Minister Kellie Leitch, a medical doctor who has received many letters from people who have lost family members to asbestos-related diseases, could “in all good conscience defend her government’s reprehensible policy on asbestos?”

Ms. Leitch did not respond.

In her place, Natural Resources Minister Greg Rickford told the House that the government will not oppose the listing of chrysotile under the Rotterdam Convention, a United Nations-sponsored treaty that requires the exporters of hazardous substances to disclose the risks.

Between 2006 and 2011, Canada was the only developed nation to object to bringing asbestos under the control of that agreement. It withdrew that objection in 2012, a year after both of Quebec’s asbestos mines were shut down.

Mr. Rickford went on to say the government’s 2013 action plan supports the economic diversification efforts of the Quebec communities of Thetford Mines and Asbestos where asbestos was mined.

“Resource management is the responsibility of the province,” he said.

Repeated questions about the government’s position that were directed this week to Health Minister Rona Ambrose have gone unanswered. Ms. Ambrose’s spokeswoman said Mr. Rickford’s reply to Mr. Martin in the House of Commons was all the government had to say about the matter.

Last month, Health Canada told The Globe in an e-mail that the information on its website “remains accurate,” and that the government has “consistently acted to protect Canadians from the health risks of asbestos.”

Mr. Martin said he was heartened by the interest in the issue that has been fostered by the newspaper’s investigation, and he believes the government is leaving itself vulnerable to criticism, both foreign and domestic, by refusing to alter its stance.

“They are increasingly marginalized among the international trading partners and they are sort of the last man standing in terms of developed nations still supporting and advocating asbestos,” Mr. Martin said. “At least we have guilted them into not actively sabotaging the Rotterdam Convention, which sadly can be seen as great progress.”

With a report from Tavia Grant

Follow on Twitter: @glorgal

Link to article:

Government silent as questions mount about asbestos danger

Asbestos registry now law in Saskatchewan

REGINA – The Saskatchewan government has marked the death of a man who advocated for asbestos safety by officially enacting a new law making asbestos reporting mandatory.

Thursday’s proclamation of the law will require Crown corporations, school districts, health regions and the provincial government to ensure their buildings are listed on the province’s on-line registry if there is asbestos present anywhere in their facilities.

Story continues below

The law is named for Howard Willems, who died a year ago Thursday of cancer caused by inhaling asbestos while on his job as a federal food inspector.

“We’re the first (province) in Canada that has mandated a registry and the first one that has brought it up,” said Workplace Safety Minister Don Morgan.

He gave Willems the credit for making it happen.

Willems spent years inspecting old dairy and honey facilities, which often used asbestos in building materials.

Before his death he formed the Saskatchewan Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization, aiming to have the government create a public registry of buildings with asbestos in them.

On the anniversary of his stepfather’s death, Jesse Todd was there to see the new measure proclaimed.

“It’s a tremendous day,” he said. “It’s very gratifying to see it pass. It’s been a long year.”

Todd stressed that this is “Howard’s legacy, hoping that the recognition of the right to know for workers will help keep them safe.”

© The Canadian Press, 2013

View original article:  

Asbestos registry now law in Saskatchewan

Asbestos registry proclaimed as law at Saskatchewan's legislature

REGINA – The Saskatchewan government has marked the death of a man who advocated for asbestos safety by officially enacting a new law making asbestos reporting mandatory.

Thursday’s proclamation of the law will require Crown corporations, school districts, health regions and the provincial government to ensure their buildings are listed on the province’s on-line registry if there is asbestos present anywhere in their facilities.

The law is named for Howard Willems, who died a year ago Thursday of cancer caused by inhaling asbestos while on his job as a federal food inspector.

“We’re the first (province) in Canada that has mandated a registry and the first one that has brought it up,” said Workplace Safety Minister Don Morgan.

He gave Willems the credit for making it happen.

Willems spent years inspecting old dairy and honey facilities, which often used asbestos in building materials.

Before his death he formed the Saskatchewan Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization, aiming to have the government create a public registry of buildings with asbestos in them.

On the anniversary of his stepfather’s death, Jesse Todd was there to see the new measure proclaimed.

“It’s a tremendous day,” he said. “It’s very gratifying to see it pass. It’s been a long year.”

Todd stressed that this is “Howard’s legacy, hoping that the recognition of the right to know for workers will help keep them safe.”

(CJME)

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Asbestos registry proclaimed as law at Saskatchewan's legislature