Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Canada's Asbestos Legacy is Growing

Stop exporting Asbestos? What, you want us to not exploit some commercial value? I get the feeling that our hard won world public perception is going to go down the drain during the Harper government.
Critics brand asbestos as Canada's latest global sin
Critics in Canada and overseas have been particularly concerned about exports to developing countries, such as India, that they say lack the safeguards to ensure asbestos is used safely.

A recent documentary of the Australian Broadcasting Corp. showed that, according to the World Health Organization, asbestos kills an estimated 8,000 people each year in India — a situation described as an "epidemic" in the documentary.

The WHO estimates that globally, more than 100,000 people die from asbestos-related illnesses, including cancer, every year.

Coulombe disputes that figure and said he has asked the WHO several times to explain how they came up with the number.

"The controversy is constantly fuelled by false information," Coulombe said, pointing to reports showing workers in India and other countries handling asbestos with their bare hands.

"We make sure it is used safely everywhere we export it. There might be some small mom-and-pops shops who buy asbestos from China and do a bad job, but that represents less than one tenth of a percentage of the industry in India," Coulombe said.
Yeah, I can just see how the poor who will get hired to handle asbestos will be the most educated and be provided with all the precautionary gear. I'm also sure that public records are well kept and everyone knows that they are working with asbestos when working in a structure that isn't brand new.

Anyway, my smart alec comments aside, why are we exporting a substance that is banned in our own country. That is unethical -- but what does ethics have to do with business or government these days? Check out the following:
Canada's reputation took a hit earlier this year, when the government blocked international efforts to label the chrysotile asbestos — the kind mined in Canada — as a hazardous material under the UN Rotterdam Convention.
However, don't lose hope, our two mines, both in Quebec, are apparently not producing at the moment. Hopefully we can keep it that way.


There is a new report on this... apparently the studies supporting the safety of some forms of asbestos may be flawed and were funded by the asbestos industry.

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