CMA condemns Canadian Government on asbestos decision

Worker Removing Asbestos, LBNL 2009

Here is some good news to share:  The Canadian Medical Association nearly unanimously officially condemned the decision of the Canadian Government and Prime Minister Stephen Harper to block the addition of chrysotile asbestos to the Rotterdam Convention list of hazardous substances.   The Canadian government opposes the addition of the asbestos to the list as that would place limits on the export of asbestos.

There are 52 countries that have restrictions or bans on the use of asbestos.  Canada is one of them.  Yet, Canada is one of the world’s largest exporters of asbestos.  Russia, Kazakhstan, Brazil, and China are the other major exporters.  Exports are sent primarily to developing countries with weak occupational and environmental health and safety regulations.  India and China are the major importers of asbestos.  Earlier this year a trade mission from Quebec visited India with the intent to increase sales of asbestos to India by ten-fold.   The outgoing president of the Canadian Medical Association, Dr. Jeff Turnbull, said in an article in The Montreal Gazette. “Canada should not be in the business of exporting such a dangerous product.”

The American Medical Association supported  the “Ban Asbestos in America Act of 2007”  which would have prohibited the importation, manufacture, and distribution of products containing asbestos, and which included provisions on public education, research and treatment of diseases caused by asbestos exposure.  That bill never became law.


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Jayshree Chander

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