January 23, 2019

Asbestos imports rising in Canada despite health warnings

Despite rising fears of asbestos-related illnesses, imports of products containing asbestos show little sign of slowing.

According to Statistics Canada figures, imports of asbestos-related items rose to $6-million last year from $4.9-million in 2013. The bulk of these goods consisted of asbestos brake linings and pads, which hit $3.6-million in imports in 2014, a seven-year high. Other imports included raw asbestos, friction materials and some items containing crocidolite, which is considered the most dangerous form of asbestos.

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The dollar amounts may not seem like a lot of money given Canada’s overall trade, but in terms of brake pads that translates into hundreds of thousands entering the Canadian market each year. The World Health Organization and other agencies have said that all forms of asbestos are carcinogenic and the best way to eliminate asbestos-related diseases is to stop using it.

Asbestos is by far the top on-the-job killer in Canada, accounting for almost 5,000 death claims since 1996. Many victims die of mesothelioma, asbestosis and lung cancer, though it may take 20 to 50 years after exposures to materialize. And yet Canada continues to allow imports and exports of asbestos, unlike other dozens of countries such as Australia, Japan, Sweden and Britain, which have imposed a ban.

Canada has imported more than $100-million in asbestos brake pad and linings in the past decade. In total, more than $250-million in imports of asbestos and asbestos-containing products entered the country between 2004 and 2014. Canada was also one of the world’s largest exporters of asbestos, though raw shipments stopped in 2011 after the last mines closed. Last year, this country exported $1.8-million worth of asbestos products.

A key concern about the brake pads centres on mechanics, who often use air hoses to clean car parts while replacing them, putting dangerous dust in the air. In the past decade, 61 claims for the deaths of auto, truck and bus mechanics stemming from asbestos-related diseases have been approved, according to the Association of Workers’ Compensation Boards of Canada.

Brake mechanics, along with construction workers and shipyard workers, are among those most at risk of exposure to asbestos at work, according to the Ontario Workplace Safety and Insurance Board. A tally by Carex Canada, a research project funded by the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer, showed 4,300 people in auto repair and maintenance are exposed to asbestos in the workplace.

The federal government has long maintained a policy of “controlled use” of the mineral and Health Canada says that as long as the fibres are enclosed or tightly bound, there is no significant health risk. It’s difficult to ensure, though, that fibres stay tightly bound as materials wear out.

“It’s hard to quantify the risk, but with a known carcinogen that’s associated with cancers at extremely low levels of exposure, I just don’t think you can be too cautious on this. And it’s not like there isn’t a viable alternative. There are other brake pads out there,” says Paul Demers, a University of Toronto professor in public health and director at the Occupational Cancer Research Centre at Cancer Care Ontario.

Canada’s two main opposition parties want to see the end of asbestos use in Canada.

“We need to develop a comprehensive strategy to phase out the use of dangerous materials, especially asbestos,” Liberal MP Geoff Regan said, adding that his party wants a ban of all asbestos use in Canada. “When it comes to brake pads, there’s really no need to have these products in Canada since our manufacturers have largely replaced asbestos with safer alternatives. I can’t imagine that Canadian drivers would accept the idea that these products are being used in their cars, if they were really fully aware of the situation.”

Mr. Regan wants to see more education on the dangers of asbestos, a national registry of federal public buildings with asbestos and more monitoring of asbestos-related diseases in Canada.

Ending the use of asbestos brake pads “is an excellent place to start because brake shoes are one thing that a lot of home handymen, backyard mechanics can do on their own, so therefore you are exposing people outside the industrial setting and into the residential setting. There’s unnecessary risk,” said NDP MP Pat Martin, who has been calling for a ban for nearly two decades.

A couple of U.S. states have passed laws restricting use of brake pads with asbestos and momentum is building to limit their use among manufacturers and in imports.

That effort is going national. On Jan. 21, a memorandum of understanding was signed between the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Environmental Council of the States, the Brake Manufacturers Council and other industry stakeholders that will limit the use of asbestos (along with copper and other elements) in all brake pads including imports, said Bill Hanvey, executive director of the Brake Manufacturers Council, in an interview.

“We’re trying to make sure we have a level playing field because asbestos is a cheaper ingredient and the North American manufacturers have eliminated asbestos from their formulations many years ago and substituted more expensive materials to avoid using asbestos,” said Mr. Hanvey, who is based near Raleigh, N.C., and is also senior vice-president of the Automotive Aftermarket Suppliers Association.

“We want to make sure we’re not put at a competitive disadvantage by the importation of products that contain asbestos.”

Safer, made-in-Canada alternatives to asbestos are available, though they cost more. Rick Jamieson is president and chief executive officer of Guelph, Ont.-based ABS Friction, an asbestos-free brake-pad factory. He wants to see a complete asbestos ban in Canada.

“We would like to see the same legislation [as some U.S. states] so that it’s a level playing field across North America and that Canada doesn’t end up a dumping ground for asbestos brake pads,” he said. “Because if they’re going to ban them in the U.S., they’re going to go somewhere.”

Marc Brazeau, president and CEO of the Automotive Industries Association of Canada, said workers’ safety is a top priority and that the organization would not object to a ban provided the industry was given sufficient notice. “If there is a phase-out period and an opportunity for companies to react, I’m very optimistic and confident that our industry would react in an appropriate way,” he said.

Concern over brake pads has prompted Ontario’s Ministry of Labour to issue a warning. Asbestos “in aftermarket replacement brake pads poses an increased risk of asbestos-related disease for auto brake mechanics,” the ministry said in a 2013 alert.

It noted that the presence of asbestos in aftermarket brake pads “poses an increased risk of exposure to hazardous concentrations of asbestos dust during the maintenance and repair of asbestos-containing friction materials for auto brake mechanics.” It recommended employers “only use brake pads that do not contain asbestos.”

In an e-mail to the Globe, the ministry said it is “aware of and continues to be concerned about the hazard, and we are looking into what more can be done to ensure the safety of workers.”

Health Canada’s website still says asbestos poses health risks “only when fibres are present in the air that people breathe.” It does not say that all forms of asbestos are a known carcinogen nor that even low levels of exposure can be dangerous. When asked last November if it plans to revise its website, last updated in October, 2012, a spokesperson said in an e-mail that “there are no plans to update it as the health risks to asbestos have not changed and there’s nothing to add at this point.”

The department said asbestos brake pads do not pose a significant health risk to consumers. Regarding the risks to mechanics’ health in working with asbestos brake pads, Health Canada said “in the workplace, exposure associated with the use of brake pads containing asbestos could occur during installation, removal, and inspection processes if fibres become airborne.”

Continued imports of asbestos brake pads is a concern, given that most garages and body shops aren’t unionized, and subject to little regulatory oversight, says Jim Brophy, adjunct professor of sociology at the University of Windsor and former director of the Occupational Health Clinic for Ontario Workers in Windsor and Sarnia.

“Why would we be importing it especially into operations like brakes, where the very nature of brakes is that there is a wearing down of the pad. It’s endemic to the design of the thing.”

He’s critical of Health Canada’s message that asbestos doesn’t pose a big risk if fibres don’t become airborne. “That doesn’t talk about the real world. They don’t put asbestos in a bottle and leave it on the shelves. People are actually grinding it, they’re tearing it off, they’re blowing it around. This is what you do with brake shoes and other products that have asbestos (such as pipes).”

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Asbestos imports rising in Canada despite health warnings

Low Levels of Libby Asbestos Exposure Linked to Lung Abnormalities

Low Levels of Libby Asbestos Exposure Linked to Lung Abnormalities

Long-Term Changes Seen at Relatively Low Exposure Levels

Released:6-Jan-2015 8:30 AM EST
Source Newsroom:
Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine
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Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine

Newswise — January 6, 2015 — People exposed to asbestos from mining in Libby, Mont., show long-term changes in lung imaging and function tests, even with relatively low asbestos exposure, reports a study in the January Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, official publication of the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (ACOEM).

Thirty years after the Libby mine was shut down, abnormalities are still found on chest computed tomography (CT) scans and lung function tests in more than half of workers exposed to Libby amphibole asbestos (LAA). “[T]hese changes occur at substantially lower cumulative fiber exposure levels than those commonly associated with commercial asbestos,” writes Dr James E. Lockey of University of Cincinnati and colleagues. The study was sponsored by the Agency for Toxic Substance and Disease Registry.

The researchers followed up 431 living workers, from an original group of 513 LAA-exposed workers first studied in 1980. The workers were exposed to a particularly hazardous form of asbestos from contaminated vermiculite that had been mined in Libby for decades.

Of 191 workers with available CT scans, 53 percent had asbestos-related changes of the tissue lining the lungs (pleura), while 13 percent had changes of the lung substance (parenchyma). Greater involvement on imaging scans was related to greater average reductions in lung function (forced vital capacity): up to 18 percent for those with extensive pleural and/or parenchymal changes.

The CT scan abnormalities were present even in workers with lower levels of estimated lifetime exposure to LAA—about three to ten times below current standards for commercial asbestos exposure. The asbestos-related lung abnormalities “can be particularly relevant when potentially combined with other respiratory [diseases] that can occur over a person’s lifetime that can impact lung function,” Dr Lockey and coauthors conclude.


About the Author
Dr Lockey may be contacted for interviews at james.lockey(at)uc.edu

ACOEM (www.acoem.org), an international society of 4,500 occupational physicians and other health care professionals, provides leadership to promote optimal health and safety of workers, workplaces, and environments.

About Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine
The Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (www.joem.org) is the official journal of the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. Edited to serve as a guide for physicians, nurses, and researchers, the clinically oriented research articles are an excellent source for new ideas, concepts, techniques, and procedures that can be readily applied in the industrial or commercial employment setting.


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Low Levels of Libby Asbestos Exposure Linked to Lung Abnormalities

The Asbestos Institute Releases Captivating New Infographic Entitled The Value Of Safety

The Asbestos Institute Releases Captivating New Infographic Entitled The Value Of Safety

OSHA Violations and related penalties are a real cost concern for businesses in the construction, fabrication, and manufacturing trades. The Asbestos Institute shares a new infographic showing just how smart it is to make safety a priority.

Phoenix, AZ (PRWEB) – The Asbestos Institute, a Phoenix, AZ-based training company that acts as an education and training resource for a variety of industries, recently released an infographic that details the real costs involved when safety isn’t made a priority at the jobsite. OSHA, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, is a federal agency that is tasked with enforcing safety and health laws across the nation. By establishing and reinforcing guidelines and rules regarding safe working conditions for American men and women (as well as those working in certain territories like Guam, the Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico), OSHA can levy steep fines on companies that do not adhere to mandated safety protocols. The Asbestos Institute’s new infographic delivers a high impact message for businesses of all sizes – keep safety a priority!


Some of the topics addressed by the infographic include: The most frequently cited OSHA standards violations, OSHA penalties by company size, OSHA fines by industry, and a noteworthy facts and stats section. It is enlightening to see just how exposed smaller companies are to OSHA penalties – with businesses of 1-19 individuals seeing the majority of the citations. No matter the business size, it is important to understand the value of safety – $170 billion is lost each year alone due to occupational injuries and illnesses across the nation.

About The Asbestos Institute: The Asbestos Institute, Inc. is a comprehensive training center, located in Phoenix, Arizona, that seeks to educate and protect clients through a diverse group of classes and training seminars. Classes are available at the Phoenix location, or The Asbestos Institute, Inc. can arrange on-site, EPA-approved training meetings throughout the Western United States. Since 1988, the Asbestos Institute, Inc. has helped contractors, building inspectors, asbestos abatement workers, and more, to operate within federally accepted guidelines. The ultimate goal is to improve worker safety and minimize penalties through OSHA.


The Asbestos Institute Releases Captivating New Infographic Entitled The Value Of Safety

Asbestos safety advice on offer

Asbestos safety advice on offer

Asbestos waste experts wearing protective clothing start work after receiving material from a school

Asbestos waste experts wearing protective clothing start work after receiving material from a school

First published

Lancashire Telegraph: Photograph of the Author

by , Crime reporter

TEACHERS are to be given advice on how they can keep themselves and their pupils safe from asbestos in schools.

Safety-related subjects in and out of the classroom are to be discussed at a conference held by the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health in Burnley tomorrow (Nov 19).

The event, called Embracing Risk in Education – a Fresh Approach, has been organised jointly by IOSH’s education and fire risk management groups to inform those who work in schools about how they can keep safe.

They will hear about the best measures of managing asbestos in schools. These measures include having regular surveys and encapsulating or sealing the asbestos.

The latest figures, revealed in 2009, showed that 55 out of 73 schools in Blackburn and Darwen contained asbestos.

In Burnley, Pendle, Rossendale, Hyndburn and the Ribble Valley, 213 schools had the potentially deadly material.

About 13,000 of the country’s 25,000 schools were built between 1945 and 1974 when asbestos use was at a peak.

Fiona Riley, vice-chair of the IOSH education group, said: “So many school buildings have asbestos within them and whilst the school may be aware of the requirement to undertake an asbestos survey, they may not have ongoing arrangements in place to manage the presence of asbestos.

“Children should be able to experience a wide range of activities during their time at school and proportionate health and safety measures should help, rather than hinder.”

Dave Harling, executive member for schools and education at Blackburn with Darwen Council, said: “There is always a concern about asbestos because of the dangers.

“However, a lot of asbestos in schools is not a danger and it is not likely there is a pile of asbestos sitting in a classroom.

“We have health and safety measures in place to deal with it.”

Also on the agenda at the meeting will be a talk from CLEAPPS, which supports the teaching of science and technology safely in schools.

Representatives will be delivering a training session at the event at the football ground to show how to effectively manage the risks associated with teaching the subjects.

Delegates will also hear about dangers posed to people in the leisure industry.

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Asbestos safety advice on offer

Solons want to ban asbestos

Lawmakers sought a total ban on the the importation, manufacture, processing, use and distribution of the “dangerous and disease-causing” asbestos and asbestos-containing products.

Akbayan party-list Reps. Walden Bello and Ibarra Gutierrez III lamented that despite the issuance of a resolution seeking to totally ban asbestos in the Philippines during the 11th National Occupational Safety and Health Congress in October 2008, the use of the harmful substance continues.

In filing House Bill 4437, they expressed concern that Philippines is considered as the fourth largest importer of asbestos at $76.32 million annually.

“The current policy is one of control by regulation of the use and disposal of asbestos products. There is a ban on crocidolite or blue asbestos and amosite or brown asbestos while the use of chrysolite or white asbestos is not banned and permitted in high density products as fire proofing, clothing, roofing felts or related products, asbestos cement roofing and flat sheet, friction materials, high temperature textile products etc.,” Bello said.

Bello noted that the “alarming” exposure to asbestos even in very minute amounts could lead to asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma.

House Bill 4437 provides the implementation of the ban on the importation, manufacturing, processing, use or distribution of asbestos and asbestos-containing products whether for commercial or non-commercial purposes “not later than two years from the effectivity” of the proposed Act.

The proposed Asbestos Ban Act of 2014 tasks the Secretary of Health, in consultation with the Secretary of Trade and Industry and the Secretary of Labor and Employment, to establish a public education and safety program aimed primarily at increasing awareness of the dangers posed by asbestos-containing products and contaminants in homes and workplaces and asbestos-related diseases.

An inter-agency technical advisory council attached to the Department of Health (DOH) shall also be created to assist the agency in preparing, conducting and reporting the public education and safety program, the bill said.

HB 4436 provides that any person who violates the provisions of the Act shall be punished by a penalty of six months to two years imprisonment or a fine of not than P100,000 nor more than P1 million or both at the discretion of the court.

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Solons want to ban asbestos

Asbestos Lawyer Discusses Asbestos & Smoking as Causes of Lung Cancer

New York, NY (PRWEB) October 31, 2013

Jerome H. Block, a nationally-recognized asbestos attorney and partner at Levy Phillips & Konigsberg LLP (LPK), a renowned personal injury and wrongful death law firm, with offices in New York, New Jersey, and Georgia, has recently published an article where he discusses the synergetic effect of having a history of asbestos exposure and smoking cigarettes.

In his article, the asbestos lawyer references several studies conducted by top pulmonology experts where they found that asbestos workers were about 10 times more likely to develop lung cancer as compared to people who had not been exposed to asbestos*. He also comments on a 1986 OSHA study** that found that asbestos exposure contributes to almost 80% of lung cancer deaths even among workers who also smoked.

According to Jerome Block, countless lung cancer victims and their family members are unaware of the dangerous connection between asbestos and smoking. If the victim had a long smoking history, the cause of the lung cancer is often erroneously written off as solely the result of the victim’s smoking history. Even in cases where the victim was a non-smoker, the family is often unaware of a possible asbestos connection and, by doing nothing, jeopardizes their right to pursue a legal action.

Asbestos and mesothelioma lawyers at LPK have represented people in lung cancer and mesothelioma cases for more than 25 years and have obtained some of the largest jury verdicts and settlements in asbestos-related cases. The firm is experienced in lung cancer cases where both asbestos exposure and cigarette smoking were a cause. LPK is also one of the only asbestos litigation firms to have also won lung cancer cases against tobacco companies.

Based on its track record of success, LPK was recently named the Plaintiff Product Liability Law Firm of the Year for 2013 by U.S. News and World Report.

Asbestos lawyers at LPK are educated on the legal and medical aspects of lung cancer and mesothelioma, and use this expertise in the prosecution of such cases. To speak with an asbestos lawyer at LPK, call 24/7 at 1-800-637-6529 or submit an online inquiry at http://www.lpklaw.com. The firm provides FREE initial consultation and handles asbestos cases on a contingency basis.

  • Mortality from Lung Cancer in Asbestos Workers by Richard Doll, British Journal of Industrial Medicine, 1955, 12, 81 (ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1037613/?page=1);

** Occupational Exposure Asbestos, Tremolite, Anthophyllite and Actinolite, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), June 20, 1986, 51 FR 22612-01, 29 C.F.R. 1910, 1926 (osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp.show_document?p_table=federal_register&p_id=13570).

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Asbestos Lawyer Discusses Asbestos & Smoking as Causes of Lung Cancer