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