Quebec, Exporting Asbestos Cancer To The Third World


dumpthemonarchy
#1
They say in Ottawa they are wrestling with the ethical issues here. Hmm, a proven cancer causing substance. One gets the feeling they aren't thinking or working too hard and need a good dunking in the local river to freshen up.

There's joke in Ottawa that asks, "How do mandarins blink? They open one eye."

Asbestos: The magic mineral that was once Canada's gold
Asbestos: The magic mineral that was once Canada's gold

Last Updated: Wednesday, June 10, 2009 | 3:25 PM ET

CBC News


Asbestos wasn't always a dirty word.


It was once called the "magic mineral" and was touted as Canadian gold — a unique resource that was going to bring our country wealth and prosperity.
The needle-like fibre had many uses and inventors were tripping over each other to find more: it was woven into clothes, building insulation and coffee pots. It was even mixed with children's play dough and, at one point, had roughly 4,000 other applications.


But in the 1960s and '70s, when more and more asbestos miners started coughing up blood, the sheen wore off. Canada has spent the last 20-plus years trying to rid our homes, schools and offices — including Parliament Hill — of the dangerous dust that was often loosely sprayed as insulation.
Our hospitals, however, are still dealing with the aftereffects. In 2007, at an occupational health clinic in Sarnia, Ont., nurses continue to register almost one new patient a day with asbestos-related cancer, such as mesothelioma, or asbestosis, says the clinic's executive director, Jim Brophy.


The southwestern Ontario city of 73,000 is home to a large petrochemical complex, which includes such companies as Imperial Oil, Suncor and Shell. The thousands of pipes that run throughout this "chemical valley" were covered with asbestos insulation and some still remains.
Quebec, home to most of Canada's asbestos mines, has one of the highest rates of mesothelioma on the planet.


Worldwide, about 125 million people are exposed to asbestos at work and at least 90,000 die each year from asbestos-related diseases, according to the World Health Organization.
"It's really a public health epidemic," Brophy said.
Still mined

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."
Ottawa argues that the type of asbestos mined today, chrysotile (white asbestos), is different than the type (amphibole) that has wreaked so much havoc. It's less crumbly and is used for things like cement, a solid that is less likely to release the deadly fibres into the atmosphere, says the Chrysotile Institute, a government-funded organization that promotes controlled use of the mineral.
But there are still calls for an outright ban of the substance in Canada. In July 2007, the Canadian Cancer Society called for the federal government to phase out both the use and export of asbestos. It said that exposure to asbestos must stop in order to eliminate the diseases associated with the fibres.
Such a ban, of course, would have a devastating effect on long-time asbestos miners, who are among the most vulnerable population.
"For decades these workers suffered the brunt of these asbestos-related diseases, and are now watching their livelihood, not just for themselves but for the whole community, hit the tank," said Brophy. "We have a terrible situation going on."
The 'magic mineral'

Asbestos was first mined in Quebec in the 1870s. In the mineral's heyday, Canada boasted the world's biggest open pit mine, the Jeffrey Mine located in the province's Eastern Townships. The industry thrived and a town was even named after it, Asbestos, Que., which used to wear the moniker with pride.
"These enormous asbestos deposits in the province of Quebec are immensely valuable to Canada in war and peace, and they form a very important part of our great heritage of mineral wealth," said CBC Radio's Lorne Greene in 1942, on-site at the Jeffrey Mine in Asbestos, Que.


But by the late 1960s, the bloom was starting to fade. More and more miners had shortness of breath, extreme fatigue and were coughing up blood. Studies linking asbestos to voracious diseases such as lung cancer, scarred lungs (asbestosis), and mesothelioma (cancer of the stomach and chest, which is only caused by exposure to asbestos) began to rack up.
One of the very things that made asbestos so popular — its indestructibility — was what also made it so vicious. Once a person inhaled the deadly dust, it was impossible for the body to break the fibres down and it eventually led to severe scarring and death.


In the fall of 1974, Dr. Irving J. Selikoff, the world's foremost authority on asbestos-related diseases, and a team of doctors examined the miners at Thetford Mines in Quebec. He condemned the working conditions as the worst on the continent, further cementing asbestos' notorious legacy. The sentiment spread to Baie Verte, Nfld., in 1978. Miners walked off the job and demanded protections to reduce their exposure to the deadly asbestos dust. The 15-week strike was the longest health-related strike in Canadian history, and caught the nation's attention.
Trying to dust itself off

In the 1980s, the asbestos industry in Quebec tried to mend its crumbling image and salvage its shrivelling industry. The province was quickly becoming the centre of the asbestos controversy and many of the mines' customers began phasing out the mineral from their products.


The industry, backed by the Canadian government, spent millions on research and to fight bans on the product at home and abroad. In 1984, Ottawa established The Asbestos Institute, a non-profit organization to promote the safe use of white asbestos.


But in 1989, the industry was dealt a hefty blow: the U.S. announced plans to ban asbestos because of the health risks. While Canada's neighbours to the south weren't big importers of the mineral, the asbestos industry feared the move would have a domino effect worldwide.


However, the U.S. didn't completely ban the use of asbestos. NASA uses the fibres to insulate the solid fuel boosters of the space shuttles, because of its heat-resistant properties. But, Brophy says there is a de facto ban on the substance as the legal consequences associated with asbestos-related disease act as a deterrent.


Asbestos litigation is the biggest issue facing the American courts, Brophy says. "Nobody in their right mind, in the [American] economy, will use it. It's just such an economic liability."
Banned in developed countries

The World Health Organization has labelled all types of asbestos, including chrysotile, as carcinogenic. It is banned in many developed countries, including New Zealand, Australia and all European Union countries.


But Canada continues to be a proponent of the controlled use of white asbestos. The Chrysotile Institute says the industry has learned from previous problems and has strict controls in place at the plants. Provincial governments now regulate the use and handling of asbestos on job sites.
"Most of these health hazards come from the past use of amphibole asbestos and from inappropriate practices such as sprayed-on insulation. These practices have been discontinued in Canada since the 1970s," the Ministry of Natural Resources says on its website.


In fact, the Canadian government fought to keep asbestos off a U.N.-sponsored list of dangerous substances. If included on the list, called the Rotterdam Convention, any country looking to import asbestos would be informed of all the potential risks and would have to agree in advance to accept any shipments.


Julia Langer, director of the global threats program at the World Wildlife Fund in Canada, one of the groups pressuring the United Nations to restrict the export of asbestos, said the move was despicable. Including asbestos on the list "could have saved a lot of lives," she said.


In the most recent update to the Rotterdam Convention's Prior Informed Consent list in October 2008, chrysotile was again left off after India, Pakistan, Vietnam and the Philippines objected. To be added to the list, consensus must be reached. The Canadian delegation did not address the topic.


Experts' report unreleased

"Canada has credibility for protecting the environment, [and has] a reputation for being a democratic and fair-thinking country... and yet on this one particular issue, Canada acts out of greed and political need. And what [the government has] done is unconscionable," Langer told CBC News.


In the fall of 2007, Health Canada hired a panel of seven experts on asbestos and occupational health to take another look at the cancer risks of chrysotile asbestos. Their report was completed and submitted in March 2008.
In May 2008, Bloc Quebecois MP Andre Bellevance implied in the House of Commons that the report suggested that it supported his view that asbestos is not a great risk. When his comments reached members of the panel, two wrote letters to Health Minister Tony Clement, accusing Canada of breaking faith with the experts.


Panel chair Trevor Ogden wrote that his professional reputation and that of the other members of the panel was at risk if the government continued to sit on the report. He called the delay unacceptable. He also said their work was being misrepresented.
A dying industry

The asbestos industry, regardless of a substance ban, may die in Canada on its own.
Since the 1980s, export and production of the mineral has dwindled down to less than 25 per cent of its original haul.


A multitude of factors are at play, in addition to the controversy Chrysotile courts at home. High transportation costs, the strength of the Canadian dollar and the ability of other countries, such as Zimbabwe, to sell the mineral at a cheaper cost have cut into Canada's ability to compete.


"Asbestos is a dying industry," says Langer. "Quebec can't compete with production in Zimbabwe or in Russia, and they're trying to keep this industry alive for whatever reason they have, and the government is complying with the demands that the industry be protected at all costs. And the costs to the Canadian citizens are huge."
 
thatone
#2
I don't see the problem here. If they're going to buy it, I don't mind.
 
Machjo
#3
Quote: Originally Posted by thatoneView Post

I don't see the problem here. If they're going to buy it, I don't mind.

A, what heart. So because the Indian government doesn't care about its people hell, why should we. Besides, we have a war to fight in Afghanistan and so need the money. What's a few lives in India if it helps finance the war on terror?
 
thatone
#4
Quote: Originally Posted by MachjoView Post

A, what heart. So because the Indian government doesn't care about its people hell, why should we. Besides, we have a war to fight in Afghanistan and so need the money. What's a few lives in India if it helps finance the war on terror?

In reality, it would be nice if those Asbestos commercials would get off TV, they're kind of getting annoying. Imagine if all those companies printed pamphlets (with recycled paper too!), and sent one to each house hold how much more efficient that would be. Think of all the people domesticly who could sue, but aren't catching the commercials!
 
dumpthemonarchy
#5
Quote: Originally Posted by thatoneView Post

I don't see the problem here. If they're going to buy it, I don't mind.

NASA is still buying asbestos because it is the best material to use for insulation. They know how to handle it. But India has no standards at all. Were it used properly and safely I would have no trouble selling it to third world countries either. Exporting death seems like bad marketing for Canada. Not to mention obdurate. Canadian miners are dying from asbestos.
 
FiveParadox
#6
I visited the Web site for the Chrysotile Institute (the organisation that advances the safe use of chrysotile fibres), and I got a weird vibe from the documents on thereit’s not a very fact-oriented conclusion, but I don’t trust the Web site or the organisation. Though I would concede that there are safe uses for this particular type of asbestos, I think that we need extremely clear regulations related to its use at home and abroad. That would be the most responsible thing to do (short of a ban on the substance entirely): Come up with regulations to govern its use, and only authorise sales to foreign organisations that commit to use the product only per that agreement.

(The Institute’s Web site can be visited here (external - login to view).)
 
CDNBear
#7
People need to stop viewing people like some precious endangered commodity.

Indians (the curry eating type) are not in any danger of going extinct.

Now, if you want my empathy, lets talk about real endangered species. Like Massasauga rattler.
 
taxslave
#8
I see that some people bought into the asbestos danger myth. There are two kinds and the one mined in Quebec is not carcenogenic. In any event there are planty much more dangerous substances out there, u simply must use the proper safety equipment.
 
CDNBear
#9
Quote: Originally Posted by taxslaveView Post

I see that some people bought into the asbestos danger myth. There are two kinds and the one mined in Quebec is not carcenogenic. In any event there are planty much more dangerous substances out there, u simply must use the proper safety equipment.

But the nannystaters don't think the Indian's are bright enough to use it, let alone know about PPE.
 
Sparrow
#10
Quote: Originally Posted by dumpthemonarchyView Post


T

Asbestos: The magic mineral that was once Canada's gold
Asbestos: The magic mineral that was once Canada's gold

Last Updated: Wednesday, June 10, 2009 | 3:25 PM ET

CBC News


Asbestos wasn't always a dirty word.


It was once called the "magic mineral" and was touted as Canadian gold — a unique resource that was going to bring our country wealth and prosperity.
The needle-like fibre had many uses and inventors were tripping over each other to find more: it was woven into clothes, building insulation and coffee pots. It was even mixed with children's play dough and, at one point, had roughly 4,000 other applications.

For you information Canada and Quebec have never produced "needle-like fibre" we produce Chrysotile which is a soft fibre. There are less cancer cases here in Thetford Mines, where we have been producting for over 100 years. The needle-like fibre comes from Africa and causes a severe and rapid lung cancer called mesothelioma because it pierces the lungs and makes them look like a porcupine.

But in the 1960s and '70s, when more and more asbestos miners started coughing up blood, the sheen wore off.

This is BS started by a NY Doctor looking for something to make his name.

Canada has spent the last 20-plus years trying to rid our homes, schools and offices — including Parliament Hill — of the dangerous dust that was often loosely sprayed as insulation.

This was called flacking and the dust was dangerous just like coal dust that kills, gold dust the first eats off the nose and ears and continues the job on your insides, and also talc. Have you ever checked some of these out?

Our hospitals, however, are still dealing with the aftereffects. In 2007, at an occupational health clinic in Sarnia, Ont., nurses continue to register almost one new patient a day with asbestos-related cancer, such as mesothelioma, or asbestosis, says the clinic's executive director, Jim Brophy.

The problem is they mixed our soft fibre with Blue Asbestos (needle-like fibre). This no longer happens because the mines in Africe have been closed.


The southwestern Ontario city of 73,000 is home to a large petrochemical complex, which includes such companies as Imperial Oil, Suncor and Shell. The thousands of pipes that run throughout this "chemical valley" were covered with asbestos insulation and some still remains.

Quebec, home to most of Canada's asbestos mines, has one of the highest rates of mesothelioma on the planet.

This is not true, it is propaganda. My mother was born here during the worst times, it snowed chrysotile fibres in the summer, she lived a long life and didn't have long cancer. My father worked in the mines from 1937 until 1975 always had healthy longs. My husband and I were born in 1940, we worked in the office directly on the plant and have never had any problems, and there are many more of us. Why is it that elsewhere there are more cases of asbestos lung cancer than right here where we live with it 24/7?


Worldwide, about 125 million people are exposed to asbestos at work and at least 90,000 die each year from asbestos-related diseases, according to the World Health Organization.
"It's really a public health epidemic," Brophy said.
Still mined

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."
Ottawa argues that the type of asbestos mined today, chrysotile (white asbestos), is different than the type (amphibole) that has wreaked so much havoc. It's less crumbly and is used for things like cement, a solid that is less likely to release the deadly fibres into the atmosphere, says the Chrysotile Institute, a government-funded organization that promotes controlled use of the mineral.
But there are still calls for an outright ban of the substance in Canada. In July 2007, the Canadian Cancer Society called for the federal government to phase out both the use and export of asbestos. It said that exposure to asbestos must stop in order to eliminate the diseases associated with the fibres.
Such a ban, of course, would have a devastating effect on long-time asbestos miners, who are among the most vulnerable population.
"For decades these workers suffered the brunt of these asbestos-related diseases, and are now watching their livelihood, not just for themselves but for the whole community, hit the tank," said Brophy. "We have a terrible situation going on."
The 'magic mineral'

Asbestos was first mined in Quebec in the 1870s. In the mineral's heyday, Canada boasted the world's biggest open pit mine, the Jeffrey Mine located in the province's Eastern Townships. The industry thrived and a town was even named after it, Asbestos, Que., which used to wear the moniker with pride.
"These enormous asbestos deposits in the province of Quebec are immensely valuable to Canada in war and peace, and they form a very important part of our great heritage of mineral wealth," said CBC Radio's Lorne Greene in 1942, on-site at the Jeffrey Mine in Asbestos, Que.


But by the late 1960s, the bloom was starting to fade. More and more miners had shortness of breath, extreme fatigue and were coughing up blood. Studies linking asbestos to voracious diseases such as lung cancer, scarred lungs (asbestosis), and mesothelioma (cancer of the stomach and chest, which is only caused by exposure to asbestos) began to rack up.
One of the very things that made asbestos so popular — its indestructibility — was what also made it so vicious. Once a person inhaled the deadly dust, it was impossible for the body to break the fibres down and it eventually led to severe scarring and death.


In the fall of 1974, Dr. Irving J. Selikoff, the world's foremost authority on asbestos-related diseases, and a team of doctors examined the miners at Thetford Mines in Quebec. He condemned the working conditions as the worst on the continent, further cementing asbestos' notorious legacy. The sentiment spread to Baie Verte, Nfld., in 1978. Miners walked off the job and demanded protections to reduce their exposure to the deadly asbestos dust. The 15-week strike was the longest health-related strike in Canadian history, and caught the nation's attention.
Trying to dust itself off

This is the one who was trying to make a name for himself. We also had some very slizzy industial doctors who worked for the companies but had interests elsewhere and evidence had been found that they doctored their reports to agree with Selikoff.

In the 1980s, the asbestos industry in Quebec tried to mend its crumbling image and salvage its shrivelling industry. The province was quickly becoming the centre of the asbestos controversy and many of the mines' customers began phasing out the mineral from their products.


The industry, backed by the Canadian government, spent millions on research and to fight bans on the product at home and abroad. In 1984, Ottawa established The Asbestos Institute, a non-profit organization to promote the safe use of white asbestos.


But in 1989, the industry was dealt a hefty blow: the U.S. announced plans to ban asbestos because of the health risks. While Canada's neighbours to the south weren't big importers of the mineral, the asbestos industry feared the move would have a domino effect worldwide.

And they began the substitute products, which over time have been proven to be highly toxic and dangerous. Their product was tried in moble homes but after several fires where the inhabitants dies of toxic fumes was discontinued. Today they have found better substitutes but the do not rival the fireproof quality of asbestos. If Chrysotile was used and not mixing it with asbestos to make many of these products they danger would be averted.


However, the U.S. didn't completely ban the use of asbestos. NASA uses the fibres to insulate the solid fuel boosters of the space shuttles, because of its heat-resistant properties. But, Brophy says there is a de facto ban on the substance as the legal consequences associated with asbestos-related disease act as a deterrent.


Asbestos litigation is the biggest issue facing the American courts, Brophy says. "Nobody in their right mind, in the [American] economy, will use it. It's just such an economic liability."
Banned in developed countries

The World Health Organization has labelled all types of asbestos, including chrysotile, as carcinogenic. It is banned in many developed countries, including New Zealand, Australia and all European Union countries.

They will not retrack because it would tarnish the reputation and people would not listen to them anymore. Look at the flu pandemic, how many people think it is a hoax.


But Canada continues to be a proponent of the controlled use of white asbestos. The Chrysotile Institute says the industry has learned from previous problems and has strict controls in place at the plants. Provincial governments now regulate the use and handling of asbestos on job sites.
"Most of these health hazards come from the past use of amphibole asbestos and from inappropriate practices such as sprayed-on insulation. These practices have been discontinued in Canada since the 1970s," the Ministry of Natural Resources says on its website.


In fact, the Canadian government fought to keep asbestos off a U.N.-sponsored list of dangerous substances. If included on the list, called the Rotterdam Convention, any country looking to import asbestos would be informed of all the potential risks and would have to agree in advance to accept any shipments.


Julia Langer, director of the global threats program at the World Wildlife Fund in Canada, one of the groups pressuring the United Nations to restrict the export of asbestos, said the move was despicable. Including asbestos on the list "could have saved a lot of lives," she said.


In the most recent update to the Rotterdam Convention's Prior Informed Consent list in October 2008, chrysotile was again left off after India, Pakistan, Vietnam and the Philippines objected. To be added to the list, consensus must be reached. The Canadian delegation did not address the topic.


Experts' report unreleased

"Canada has credibility for protecting the environment, [and has] a reputation for being a democratic and fair-thinking country... and yet on this one particular issue, Canada acts out of greed and political need. And what [the government has] done is unconscionable," Langer told CBC News.


In the fall of 2007, Health Canada hired a panel of seven experts on asbestos and occupational health to take another look at the cancer risks of chrysotile asbestos. Their report was completed and submitted in March 2008.
In May 2008, Bloc Quebecois MP Andre Bellevance implied in the House of Commons that the report suggested that it supported his view that asbestos is not a great risk. When his comments reached members of the panel, two wrote letters to Health Minister Tony Clement, accusing Canada of breaking faith with the experts.


Panel chair Trevor Ogden wrote that his professional reputation and that of the other members of the panel was at risk if the government continued to sit on the report. He called the delay unacceptable. He also said their work was being misrepresented.
A dying industry

The asbestos industry, regardless of a substance ban, may die in Canada on its own.
Since the 1980s, export and production of the mineral has dwindled down to less than 25 per cent of its original haul.


A multitude of factors are at play, in addition to the controversy Chrysotile courts at home. High transportation costs, the strength of the Canadian dollar and the ability of other countries, such as Zimbabwe, to sell the mineral at a cheaper cost have cut into Canada's ability to compete.


"Asbestos is a dying industry," says Langer. "Quebec can't compete with production in Zimbabwe or in Russia, and they're trying to keep this industry alive for whatever reason they have, and the government is complying with the demands that the industry be protected at all costs. And the costs to the Canadian citizens are huge."

Why not ban coal? France banned all mining and burning of coal in the country because it caused Black Lung with is a form of lung cancer. Yet the U.S. still produced and burns coal. Here in Canada it is producted in NS and maybe a few more places that I am not aware.

This had been not so much a health battle but a political battle and it was an easy target, because there were not that many mines therefore not too many workers.

My husband and I also worked for 33 years on a chrysotile producing plant and we are healthier that a lot people from other areas.
 
dumpthemonarchy
#11
Quote: Originally Posted by SparrowView Post

Why not ban coal? France banned all mining and burning of coal in the country because it caused Black Lung with is a form of lung cancer. Yet the U.S. still produced and burns coal. Here in Canada it is producted in NS and maybe a few more places that I am not aware.

This had been not so much a health battle but a political battle and it was an easy target, because there were not that many mines therefore not too many workers.

My husband and I also worked for 33 years on a chrysotile producing plant and we are healthier that a lot people from other areas.

France may have banned coal because they don't have much of it and the French now get their power from nuclear plants. France did for reasons of economic self-reliance.

Western Europe gets much of their energy from Russia. Russia, hmm, not very democratic, turns the energy taps off once in a while, invades small countries like Georgia. Awesome supplier. Could be why Germany is going as as green as they can as fast as they can.

It's a statistical analysis, asbestos and and coal miners seems to get sicker than the average. Yet govts and companies tell miners jump in a lake when they get sick from these materials, which you admit, are dangerous. Now there are fewer miners due to deaths and technology. So you're healthier great. Looking our for number one, full stop.
 

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