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The End of Asbestos
Canada has finally committed to move forward with an asbestos ban by 2018.
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July 12, 2017
Alternatives Journal
"Mesothelioma remains a top occupational cancer in Canada and around the world." Image taken from WorkSafe BC's hidden killer campaign. www.hiddenkiller.ca

In 2016, Canada finalized plans to fully ban the use and import of asbestos, putting into motion a rule to enact the ban by 2018. For decades, asbestos use has been known to cause devastating illnesses, ranging from a chronic lung disease called asbestosis to mesothelioma, a rare and very aggressive cancer. At one point in time, the natural mineral was used in myriad applications, namely in construction materials like drywall and insulation in homes. Asbestos also played a role in industry and manufacturing up until the 1970s, thanks to its ability to withstand heat. Typically, asbestos is only harmful when broken or damaged products release fibers, but individuals who worked with and around asbestos-containing materials are generally most susceptible to these illnesses. Mesothelioma remains a top occupational cancer in Canada and around the world because asbestos was used in so many ways during the past century.

When making the announcement to finally ban asbestos Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said, “We know that its impact on workers far outweighs any benefits it might have.” Trudeau’s remarks speak to the disease’s prevalence amongst those who worked directly with it, but also extend to cases of second-hand exposure. Family members who were exposed to the mineral through work clothes brought home by those workers would often come into contact with dust containing asbestos and leave themselves open to exposure. By taking steps to mitigate asbestos exposure, the Canadian government’s move to ban the carcinogen places the nation in line with dozens of other countries that have done the same. The move also places the few holdouts that are left in a harsh light.


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