In Western countries, the use of asbestos is typically seen with horror -- after all, every year, exposure to the fire-resistant construction material kills over 100,000 people a year. Some scientists estimate that by 2030, the death toll from asbestos-related illnesses (lung cancer, mesothelioma, etc.) will climb to 10 million. Most industrialized countries have banned its use altogether.
So why is Canada continuing to export the industry overseas?
As a recent International Consortium of Investigative Journalists investigation shows, Canada has not only continued to export massive quantities of asbestos around the world, it's also backed pro-asbestos research groups for years. For example, the government has contributed millions to the Chrysotile Institute, which promotes asbestos use. What's more, it's simultaneously blocked global efforts to protect consumers and workers from the hazardous material.
Tell Canada to stop supporting the export of deadly asbestos overseas.
It's true that some of the worst asbestos-related health problems -- which arise from the use of brown and blue asbestos (amphiboles) -- have been curbed. Yet the number of people exposed to white asbestos (chrysotile) is growing. The World Health Organization, for example, estimates that 125 million workers are exposed to the substance each year. According to Dr Vincent Cogliano, who works for the WHO's International Agency for Research on Cancer, risks associated with such exposure are "extremely high" -- as bad as any other known carcinogen, save perhaps tobacco smoke.
The Canadian government claims that they don't export asbestos to consumers who can't demonstrate safety standards that are on par with Canada's. But in the developing countries where Canada ships its asbestos, given lax safety standards and lack of proper worker equipment or training, the idea of controlled use is a joke.
Tell Canada to stop ignoring the scientific evidence. At this point, Canada's willingness to export a deadly, banned product around the world has become a national embarrassment. It's time for Canada to quit trading lives for profit overseas.