Monday, January 9, 2012

Guest Post: Asbestos and Canada

The impact of the Canadian asbestos industry has been felt around the world for over 130 years. While asbestos was being produced, asbestos-related diseases grew among the world. Popularly dubbed “white gold”, asbestos is a carcinogen that can lead to devastating health effects over time.

Asbestos is most dangerous when it is airborne. The fiber can be easily ingested and lodge itself in the intestinal track or lungs. Over time the damage can lead to asbestosis, lung cancer, or mesothelioma. Workers who handled asbestos are of the highest at risk of developing an asbestos-related disease. Among some of the more common occupations that handled asbestos are construction, insulation, shipyards, plumbers, auto mechanics, pipefitters, and textile works.

Back in November of 2011, asbestos mining in Canada was at a temporary stop. The Lac d’Amiante and Jeffery mines, the last two mines producing asbestos, suspended their operations. Although asbestos is still being traded, opponents to the asbestos industry hope that halt in asbestos production will be more permanent. Due to recent news, this may not be the case.

In December of 2011, the Canadian asbestos industry was almost revitalized when Baljit Chadha, president of Balcorp. Ltd., attempted to secure a $58 million loan to reopen the Jeffery Mine in Asbestos, Canada. The entire instance turned into a public relations fiasco when Chadha wrote an editorial attempting to rationalize asbestos mining with profitability. The editorial received a large amount of criticism from the public and mesothelioma community.

The Lac d’Amiante mine in Quebec has filed for bankruptcy in an attempt to save 350 jobs and resume production. The Jeffery mine is looking at all available options to continue their business as well. Canada has historically worked to defend the asbestos industry. However, with such strong opposition by the public the asbestos industry may eventually fade away due to tighter regulations and economic restrictions.

More than 50 countries have banned asbestos including the entire European Union. As opposition continues to grow asbestos production has been slowly phased into countries with weaker labor laws. These countries will see a rise in asbestos-related diseases over the next few decades as the impact of the asbestos industry stretches across the globe. More resources regarding asbestos and mesothelioma can be found at, Facebook and Twitter.

-- Ben Leer, Mesothelioma Centre

Ben Leer is the Public Outreach Coordinator for the Mesothelioma Center at He has worked towards spreading awareness about asbestos and mesothelioma since 2009. If you are interested in connecting with the him you can find his posts at the Mesothelioma Center Blog, Facebook and Twitter.

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