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Canadian Industry Minister Recommends Annual Asbestos Audits

Canadian Industry Minister Recommends Annual Asbestos Audits

Recently, Canada’s Industry Minister recommended the Quebec’s workplace-safety board that it should conduct annual audits on the safe use of asbestos in other countries. The minister was responding to opposition to the reopening of the Jeffery Mine in the town of Asbestos, south of Quebec City.

If the mine were reopened, 250 jobs would be created and asbestos capacity would increase to 10 percent, worldwide. The mine closed in 2002. However, many opponents do not want it to reopen because when it was in operation, it produced asbestos that was exported to other countries. Asbestos has been shown to cause mesothelioma, the deadly lung cancer, and other serious heath problems.

According to the minister, the Quebec-produced asbestos, or chrysotite, is much safer than other types of asbestos used in the export market, according to the Chrysotite Institute based in Canada. Non-friable asbestos cannot be crumbled; Friable means that the asbestos-containing material (ACM) contains at least one percent of asbestos and when dry, can be crumbled or broken-up, says the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Non-friable asbestos is much safer, but according to many, it is still very unsafe. Many officials support the Chrysotite Institute’s claim.

Inhaling asbestos fibers can lead to mesothelioma which kills 107,000 people a year, according to the World Health Organization. The disease can strike 20, or even 30 years after minimal exposure. According to many medical experts, mesothelioma is one of the most deadliest forms of cancer, and currently, there is no cure.

Jeong-Rim Lee, a woman from Korea, suffers from mesothelioma and says that she experiences much pain and suffering. Canada should stop sending asbestos to her country, she said. Symptoms include: shortness of breath, pain in the abdomen, and chest pain. However, these are just a few of the symptoms; there are many more. Also, since it may take up to 30 years for mesothelioma to fully develop, many who suffer are misdiagnosed with pneumonia or other diseases during its early stages. Often times, when the correct diagnosis is made, it is too late.

A trade unionist, Anup Srivasta, from India, doesn’t see how Canada will monitor asbestos installation and removal safety. In his country, he says that workers use “no protective gear” and protection is “very scattered.Canadian officials highly encourage foreign workers and their supervisors to use protective gear, however: a respirator, disposable coveralls, rubber gloves and boots, and protective eye wear.

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