The Canadian government has made it official: after years of lobbying and advocacy on the part of health advocates, the country is joining much of the developed world in announcing that it has targeted the year 2018 for a complete ban on the use of asbestos and asbestos-containing products.
This move will be an important step in the country’s ability to diminish the incidence of mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases in the future.
Asbestos is a material that has long been prized for its characteristic strength and resistance to flame and heat. The toxic set of minerals is inexpensive and readily available, and was mined and exported from Canada for decades. In the 1970s the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released reports indicating that it is carcinogenic and the cause of a number of serious illnesses.
Since that time, many countries have minimized its use or banned it entirely, but Canada refused to ban asbestos production in the stated belief that it was not dangerous if care was taken in its use. This refusal led to the country being placed on a global blacklist issued by the United Nations, but the country stopped its Quebec mine production and export in 2012.
Prior to stopping these operations, Canada had been the last Western developed country left engaging in the production or export of asbestos.
The announcement of the ban includes details regarding new regulations that the government plans for stopping the use, manufacture, export and import of asbestos. The government is also beginning to assemble new regulations regarding workplace health and safety for those working in asbestos-contaminated environments, as well as mandating the prohibition of asbestos in building projects.
All that being said, like the United States, the country will continue to import products that are made in other countries that may contain asbestos. Most common among these are brake pads for installation in cars and trucks. The continued use of these products puts some workers at continued risk for exposure to the deadly product.
Health advocates in the United States continue to work towards achieving a ban of all use of asbestos and asbestos-contaminated products here. Asbestos companies fight as hard against those regulations as they do against providing compensation to those who have already been harmed by exposure to the carcinogenic material.