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For Some, Nationwide Asbestos Ban By 2018 Isn’t Soon Enough

When it was announced, this past December, that Canada would finally be implementing a nationwide comprehensive ban on asbestos, it was met with much praise. Considered way past due, the decision to ban the hazardous material from being imported into Canada is one that will inevitably save thousands of lives. However, the ban, which is set to fully commence by the end of 2018, is one that isn’t being implemented soon enough.

On TireBusiness.com, Rob Bostelaar of Automotive News Canada reports that some people simply can’t understand why Canada isn’t insisting upon an immediate ban. Most specifically, Jim Brophy, a University of Windsor adjunct professor and former director of the Occupational Health Clinics for Ontario Workers, is voicing his displeasure over the fact that the ban hasn’t already taken effect.

Sensibly, Brophy notes that the many Canadians who will endure exposure to asbestos, between now and the end of next year, are at risk of developing serious illnesses in the years to come. Mechanics, for example, must still endure the potential of asbestos exposure from imported replacement brake pads and shoes which have been used as cheaper alternatives to synthetic fibres.

“The latency here is enormous,” Brophy is quoted as saying, “Every day we allow these products to come into the country just extends the time frame in which this disease will arrive and be experienced by people in our population.” Bostelaar points out that asbestos doesn’t just appear in automotive materials. Citing a Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) report, he notes that building products, paper and even footwear contain the substance in small amounts.

Nevertheless, workers in the automotive industry appear to be at the highest risk of health issues due to asbestos exposure. “The lion’s share — nearly 75 per cent of the $8.3 million in asbestos imports in 2015, the CLC reports — is friction materials,” reveals Bostelaar, “The Automotive Industries Association (AIA), which represents aftermarket suppliers, was among those pressing for a grace period to allow the removal of existing products from vehicles and store shelves.”

But is the grace period really necessary? Bostelaar writes that suppliers of friction products such as Rayloc have stopped using asbestos over a decade ago and retailers such as Canadian Tire aren’t currently selling any asbestos-containing products. Without an immediate ban, fears Brophy, mechanics won’t know for sure if they’re being exposed to asbestos or not.

“Most garages do not have even close to the kind of protections that government regulations would say would be needed,” he insists, noting that the dangers are even higher for home mechanics who likely lack training on how to deal with asbestos, “And that’s why the only real way to effectively deal with this is to enact the ban and make sure that these products are not sold on the Canadian market.”

Sadly, asbestos is the leading cause of work-related deaths in Canada, taking 2,000 lives every year. Diseases such as asbestosis and mesothelioma are killers proven to be caused by asbestos exposure. “The full extent of the harm that has been caused is so under-reported and so under-recognized, that even when you say that it’s the leading cause of occupational disease and death in this country, you’re actually underestimating the full extent of it,” Brophy states.

At DF Technical & Consulting Services Ltd., we fully support the nationwide ban on asbestos and agree that it can’t come a moment too soon. And, as always, we are committed to helping Canadians avoid the harmful effects of asbestos exposure. For more information about our Asbestos Containing Materials (ACM) Services, please don’t hesitate to call us at 1-855-668-3131 or email info@dftechnical.ca.

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