Canadian Asbestos Use
Scientific research and medical evidence has overwhelmingly linked a deadly form of cancer, mesothelioma, with exposure to asbestos. This toxic material continues to be used and mined in Canada despite this fact. Canadian companies and mines still rally for the use and export of the mineral; specifically, a form known as chrysotile asbestos. Chrysotile has been linked to the diagnosis of mesothelioma and lung cancer. Organizations such as the Canadian Medical Association and the World Health Organization have battled continuously with companies who push to use chrysotile, while ignoring the question of its safety.
Products Containing Asbestos
Canada has a long history of asbestos use, as do most industrial nations. Canada has utilized the mineral in various products, some of which include:
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- Equipment insulation
Canada has instituted legislation aimed at eliminating the use of asbestos products, known as the Hazardous Products Act. The premise of this act is the protection of retailers and citizens from the hazards of asbestos exposure. This law applies to both manufactured and imported goods throughout Canada; however, materials often remain in use. Even though damaging health risks are very clear, asbestos is economical to use because it is largely a low-cost material that is easy to obtain with many good features for use in construction and the manufacture of many products.
Asbestos has been mined throughout Canada, most notably in the province of Quebec. Quebec, at one time, was home to 10 of the 13 total asbestos mines located in the country. As late as 2003, there were still two mines located in Quebec, both owned by the same company. Most recently, the Jeffrey mine has been the subject of much debate, as some politicians and businessmen fight to keep the mine open; exporting the dangerous mineral to countries such as India and Pakistan.
In the past other areas of Canada have also actively mines asbestos. Mines in Newfoundland were active during the 1950s, employing hundreds of workers. The Yukon Territory also mined asbestos in the past. However, the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs classified the territory as too risky. In 2002, British Columbia was another home to an asbestos mine.
Due to the long latency periods associated with mesothelioma, between 20 and 50 years, the extent to which asbestos has endangered Canadian residents, as well as those who import their product, has yet to be fully determined. Those who have labored in asbestos mines have a substantial risk of developing mesothelioma or other asbestos-related illnesses and diseases. Unfortunately, these people may not be aware of the cancer lying dormant within.