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Canada moves closer to asbestos ban

The Canadian government has launched a public consultation on proposals to ban asbestos and products containing it by the end of the year. 

Canadian government moves closer to banning asbestos
© iStock/ ilbusca

The Canada Gazette, the government’s official newspaper, published the proposed Prohibition of Asbestos and Asbestos Products Regulations on 6 January for a 75-day public consultation (bit.ly/2EzBWjZ). 

A spokesperson from Environment and Climate Change Canada told IOSH Magazine the government would consider comments during the development of the final regulations, which will be published in the Canada Gazette in the autumn.

Canadian public health campaign group Asbestos.com reports that asbestos exposure is the primary cause of occupational death in the country. Since 1996, asbestos-related disease has accounted for around one-third of workplace deaths, it says.

In December 2016, the Ottawa government launched a strategy to ban asbestos and products containing it by 2018. As part of this, Environment and Climate Change Canada and Health Canada proposed new regulations that would prohibit, with a few exclusions, the use, sale, import and export of the material and products containing it, as well as the manufacture of products with asbestos content.

The government added that the risks related to the continued use of and sale of legacy asbestos and products with asbestos – such as those used in buildings, equipment and vehicles – would continue to be managed by existing federal, provincial and municipal rules and regulations.

Canada supplied 40% of the world market for chrystotile asbestos in the 1960s but its last mine shut in 2011. 

As well as new regulations, the government-wide strategy commits Employment and Social Development Canada, which is responsible for social programmes and the labour market at the federal level, to establishing new rules to limit the risk of workplace exposure to asbestos. 

The National Research Council is working with its provincial and territorial partners to change the building codes to prohibit the use of asbestos in new construction and renovation projects. 

Health Canada is raising awareness of health impacts of asbestos to help reduce the incidence of lung cancer and other asbestos-related diseases.



Nic Warburton is acting editor, IOSH Magazine

 Nick Warburton was previously acting editor of IOSH Magazine. Before that he was editor of SHP and he has also worked on Local Authority Waste and Recycling and Environmental Health Practitioner


  • They're only just banning it

    Permalink Submitted by Harry Monk on 17 February 2018 - 07:49 pm

    They're only just banning it now???!!!

  • Update: It has long been

    Permalink Submitted by Michael Fitzpatrick on 27 November 2018 - 09:43 am

    Update: It has long been apparent that asbestos has resulted in the death of thousands of Canadians since use of the mineral began in the late 19th century. By 1966, Canada produced 40 percent of the world’s chrysotile asbestos. By the 1970s, doctors had declared the asbestos mining towns in Canada to be among the most dangerous in the world, with rates of mesothelioma and other asbestos diseases increasing.
    In early 2008, it was revealed that Health Canada had quietly begun to study the dangers of chrysotile asbestos. The organization said it started the research to “help further Canada’s knowledge of chrysotile asbestos fibres in relation to human health” and to update the World Health Organization’s last published assessment on the subject from 1998.
    The two scientists on the project were supporters of the chrysotile asbestos industry, and the organization refused to announce when the results of the study would be released. In a written statement, Health Canada said that they found chrysotile asbestos to be “safe when used under controlled conditions,” and safe use of the material would be regulated by Canada both domestically and abroad.
    Even with the 2018 passage of the Prohibition of Asbestos and Products Containing Asbestos Regulations, certain uses of asbestos remain legal in Canada. Nuclear energy and Canadian military facilites are allowed to use asbestos through 2029. The chlor-alkali industry has until 2030 to phase out asbestos. In addition, magnesium-extraction companies will be permitted to work the highly toxic tailings of former asbestos mines


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