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Canada to ban asbestos by 2018

A “comprehensive ban” on asbestos and asbestos-containing materials in Canada will start in 2018, the government has announced.

Canada to ban asbestos by 2018
©iStock/Pgiam

In a statement, government ministers of health, science and the environment said new regulations will outlaw the production, use, import and export of asbestos under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act 1999. 

It will establish new rules to reduce the risk of exposure in the workplace and change building codes to prohibit asbestos use in new construction and renovation projects across the country. 

Science minister Kirsty Duncan said: “There is irrefutable evidence that has led us to take concrete action to ban asbestos.”

Jane Philpott, minister of health, added: “Across Canada and around the world asbestos-related cancers continue to hurt Canadian families and pose a significant burden for our healthcare systems.” 

The World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer declared asbestos a human carcinogen in 1987. At the height of its use it was found in more than 3,000 applications worldwide, but since the 1970s production and use have fallen. The material is banned in more than 60 countries excluding Brazil, China, India and Russia. The US has a partial ban in place. 

Canada still mined asbestos until 2011, when the two remaining mines, in Quebec province, closed. 

The Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) welcomed the announcement. Its president, Hassan Yussuff, said: “Because these diseases have a long latency period, the danger is not over, but this is the beginning of the end. 

“Now we need the provinces and territories to show the same leadership that the federal government has shown and move quickly to take stock of where asbestos is, harmonise regulation around disposal and remediation, and ensure a comprehensive health response.” 

According to the CLC, more than 2,000 Canadians die every year from diseases caused by asbestos exposure, such as mesothelioma and lung cancer. It said an estimated 150,000 Canadians are exposed to asbestos at work, particularly in industries such as construction, shipbuilding and waste management.

 

Keeley Downey is acting deputy editor of IOSH Magazine. She is a former editor of Biofuels International, Bioenergy Insight and Tank Cleaning Magazine

Comments

  • Hilarious. How long ago did

    Permalink Submitted by Steven Nagle on 11 January 2017 - 12:43 pm

    Hilarious. How long ago did the rest of the civilised world ban this stuff?? In 1932 the USA and UK were discussing bans after confirming that the material was dangerous, and even as early as the 1st century, correlations were being drawn between early deaths and works around asbestos, so it's a little disgusting to hear that Canada (of all nations) is 'finally' on-board with the 'ban it' brigade. Too little, too late to redeem yourself Canada.

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  • The first cases of asbestosis

    Permalink Submitted by Michael Fitzpatrick on 1 June 2017 - 11:37 am

    The first cases of asbestosis were noted as early as 1900. In 1924, an English doctor performed a post-mortem examination on the body of a deceased 33 year-old woman who had worked in an asbestos textile factory, where she had worked for 13 years. The post-mortem revealed extensive lung damage, which was linked to her occupation. The term “asbestosis” first started to be used after the report was published in 1927. Interestingly......1924. First US workers compensation finding for asbestos is upheld by the Massachusetts Industrial Accidents Board - US still in only a partial ban ?? What has Canada waiting for ??

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  • Quite sad really that a

    Permalink Submitted by Iain Anderson on 9 August 2017 - 08:05 pm

    Quite sad really that a country as developed as Canada should have such scant regard for the health and wellbeing of its citizens that it takes so long to start to deal with this killer. The comment from the science minister is unbelievable considering the evidence has been there for decades. One of the clearest examples of corporate power and business holding sway over policy makers and where shareholders in mining companies are more important than peoples health. Hang your head in shame Canada.

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