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Environmental Lawyers See Asbestos Ban As Big Step In Protecting Canadians

Asbestos has killed far too many Canadians. And, unfortunately it will continue to take lives for years to come. So, of course, the recent announcement by the federal government to implement a nationwide comprehensive ban of asbestos by 2018 was welcomed by Canadians nationwide. But as environmental lawyers, Will Amos and David R. Boyd write in the Ottawa Citizen, it’s a ban that should have come a long time ago.

While the pair acknowledges that the recently-announced ban will certainly save lives, they argue that it came decades late. With asbestos being the leading occupational killer in Canada, harming both workers and their families who are exposed to asbestos at home and school, a much more aggressive approach to banning the deadly substance should have been taken in the past.

“The dangers of asbestos have been known for a long, long time,” state Amos and Boyd, “Roman historian Pliny reported that working with asbestos led to difficulty breathing and respiratory illness. A British government report published in 1898 warned that inhaling asbestos dust was killing workers. In 1918, the Prudential Life Insurance Company stated, ‘In the practice of American and Canadian life insurance companies, asbestos workers are generally declined on account of the assumed health-injurious conditions of the industry.’”

With asbestos having been recognized as a harmful material for more than a century, it begs the question: Why was it being produced all these years? You’re not likely to be surprised that the answer is simply: money. Amos and Boyd explain that as the 20th century progressed, the profits from asbestos-laden products steadily rose. Meanwhile, medical evidence was also mounting connecting “dire health consequences” to asbestos exposure.

“The industry responded with a decades-long campaign to distort, manipulate and falsify scientific evidence,” the duo explains, “Industry-funded studies that connected asbestos exposure to cancer were suppressed. Researchers were pressured to change their results, amend their conclusions or avoid discussing asbestos in public.”

Countries like Japan and Australia banned asbestos years go. Amos and Boyd applaud Canada’s decision to jump on board but stress that the proverbial dragging of our nation’s feet to reach this decision will have long-term ramifications. They also insist that Canada further its commitment to protecting its citizens by taking measures to very seriously examine the impact of other dangerous substances on the Canadian public.

“The asbestos debacle has already cost Canada dearly,” they write, “For other dangerous toxic substances and environmental contaminants, we must rigorously regulate to the highest international standards. Asbestos underscores how Canadians deserve world-class standards to protect human and ecosystem health.”

At DF Technical & Consulting Services Ltd., we have taken the issue of Canada’s asbestos ban very seriously. We recognize the extreme importance of keeping Canadians safe from this toxic material. If you have any questions about our Asbestos Containing Materials (ACM) Services, please don’t hesitate to contact us in order to ask them. Give us a call at 1-855-668-3131 or email us at info@dftechnical.ca.

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