HazMat Management

The Call for Comprehensive Strategies to Address Exposure to Asbestos

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September 14, 2012 by Lynne Bard

Has the call for comprehensive strategies to address the exposure to asbestos and the request to close asbestos mining operations and the manufacturing of asbestos products been ignored by Quebecs government or has there been a new development in the safe mining of and use of asbestos? The owners of a Quebec mine believe that they provide safe mining procedures without fear of exposure for their workers.

Despite the claim that safe practices will be used, there is outrage around the world due to a recent decision by the previous Quebec government to infuse funds by way of a loan, coupled by a $25 million dollar investment from stakeholders to Mine Jeffrey Inc – currently an open pit asbestos mine in Quebec. The loan and stakeholder investment will allow the company to transform the open-pit mining into an underground operation with a longevity of at least another 20 years.

As quoted from the Canadian Occupational Health and Safety Magazine OHS,

Linda Reinstein, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization in Redondo Beach California, says she is outraged at the government’s latest move to revive the mine. “It is criminally reprehensible when we think aboat it.” “We know so muich about asbestos today and this decision is not only a setback for public health in Canada, but public health around the world.”

The Canadian Lung Association has been calling for the Government of Canada to adopt a comprehensive strategy on asbestos issues. Through scientific research they have determined that:

*All forms of asbestos cause asbestosis,

*All forms of asbestos cause malignant mesothelioma, lung and laryngeal cancers

*The best way to eliminate asbestos-related lung diseases is to stop its use.

*The mining and export of asbestos should be banned to protect the lung health of all.

The Canadian Cancer Society also believes that all efforts must be taken to stop the mining and use of asbestos. They have taken a strong stand through calls for the federal and provincial/territorial governments to adopt a comprehensive strategy addressing all aspects of the asbestos issue.

The risk of exposure and development of cancers related to asbestos are highest for those working in the asbestos mines or who work with asbestos in manufacturing environments. The risk of cancer is even greater in those who additionally smoke.

Although guidelines have been put in place for the use and handling of asbestos and asbestos products, this does not eliminate exposure. Over fifty five countries have banned the use of all forms of asbestos. Despite its profound health hazards and advocates around the world calling for the elimination of manufactured products using asbestos, the Canadian Government has not baned the mining of or manufacturing of products that contain asbestos until the announcement yesterday by the Quebecs new government Parti Quebecois leader Pauline Marois stating she will not honour the loan.

WIth this news the Canadian Government has announced that it will no longer oppose international efforts to list chrysotile as a hazardous material. Read more:

Lynne Bard

Lynne Bard

Lynne Bard, President of Beyond Rewards Inc., has over 25 years experience working in Safety, Human Resources and Training, taking the lead in these matters for clients. Lynne provides HR expertise for ECO HR Blog and has developed and delivered many safety and HR training programs online and face-to face through Beyond Rewards and as a professor at Conestoga College. Lynne’s expertise has won several awards of excellence in the field and continues to lend experience and credibility to organizations with best practice solutions and processes. Lynne continues to provide expertise as a contributing editor on health and safety in HazMat Management magazine.
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