As construction workers in protective gear work to pull all the asbestos out of the walls of the Parliament buildings in Ottawa, Quebec’s government has decided to grant the Jeffrey asbestos mine $58 million so that the country can continue exporting the deadly product.
The health issues associated with asbestos are caused when the fibers are inhaled. Asbestos has been linked to lung diseases (asbestosis and mesothelioma) and lung cancer. The sale and use of products containing asbestos is tightly controlled in Canada by the Hazardous Products Act and mining and emissions are controlled by the Environmental Protection Act.
The World Health Organization estimates that 107,000 people die from asbestos exposure each year (one in three occupational cancer deaths).
Because of these hazards, the asbestos industry in Quebec was slowly dying, until the government decided this week to give it a boost so that the Jeffrey mine can continue production for the export market. Most of Canada’s production goes to India, where the protection laws are not as stringent as they are here.
Canadian officials actually intervened and stopped the UN from adding chrysotile asbestos to the Rotterdam Convention as a hazardous chemical. The Harper government believes that the substance is safe “when used properly.”
Reports say the investment from the Quebec government will help renovate the facilities and keep the mine open for 20 more years.
How many people will die between now and then?
Photo Credit: Asbestos Testing
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