Is Canada’s Asbestos Mining Industry in Trouble?

Is Canada's Asbestos Mining Industry in Trouble?

Canada’s export of asbestos to developing countries has long been opposed. The folding of a pro-industry lobby group is being hailed as its "death knell."

A lobby group for the asbestos mining industry in Canada (primarily in Quebec) has recently announced that it will be ceasing operations. The lobby group, called the Chrysotile Institute, was established in 1984 to promote the safety of chrysotile asbestos, a known carcinogen, and received funding from the Quebec government.

Asbestos mining dead?

Environmentalists and other critics of the asbestos industry are optimistic that the folding of this industry group signals an end to asbestos mining in Canada. Environmental groups, such as the David Suzuki Foundation and Greenpeace, along with the Canadian Medical Association (CMA) have spoken loudly about the effects of asbestos—including chrysotile asbestos—on human health.

70,000 affected worldwide

According to the CMA, there are 70,000 asbestos-related illnesses worldwide. In a statement at their annual meeting last August, the outgoing president, Jeff Turnbull, said, “Canada should not be in the business of exporting such a dangerous product.”

Canada exports to third world

Canada’s export policy on asbestos has for some time been at odds with the rest of the G8 members: we’re the only one still exporting asbestos—primarily to India, Africa, and Southeast Asian countries.

Asbestos is carcinogenic—in all its forms

This is an embarrassing position since its use is so strictly regulated in Canada that almost all of the asbestos mined here is exported. The use and processing of asbestos is totally banned within the European Union, and the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer, says asbestos “is carcinogenic in all its forms”—despite the many efforts of the Chrysotile Institute to convince the world otherwise. Clearly their efforts have not been working.

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