Report criticizes Canada’s opposition to asbestos regulations

November 28th, 2006

A report by the Canadian government has found that the country has been using its international influence in order to keep its asbestos mines in business. The government prepared the report for a United Nations conference in May 2007 which aims to place chrysotile, a form of asbestos, on an international list of the world’s most dangerous substances.

In recent years, Canada has stepped-up its efforts to prevent international restrictions on the use of asbestos and asbestos products. The Canadian government has long argued that its promotion of asbestos and asbestos safety was only done in the public interest, and not for the benefit of its asbestos mining industry. But according to the new report, Canada’s asbestos mines would lose out to foreign mines that are able to produce asbestos more cheaply without the government’s international lobbying.

The report found that foreign companies are willing to pay more for Canadian asbestos only because of the country’s lobbying to prevent restrictions on asbestos use. If the Canadian government were to stop its campaign to keep asbestos off the dangerous substances list, the report concluded, these companies would start buying the more cheaply-available asbestos mined in other countries.

Canada has been sharply criticized by its own politicians in recent years for continuing to support its domestic asbestos industry. Last year, a Canadian politician said that the country was becoming an “international pariah” for continuing to sell asbestos to developing countries in spite of its health risks.

Asbestos exposure has been linked to a number of fatal diseases, including lung cancer, asbestosis and mesothelioma, a form of cancer that can attack the lining of the heart, lungs or abdomen. After receiving a mesothelioma diagnosis, most patients live an average of only one to five years.

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