CPHA applauds the Government of Canada on new stand on chrysotile asbestos
Thursday, July 2, 2015 – (Ottawa) – The Canadian Public Health Association (CPHA) welcomes the revised position of Health Canada in regard to health risks of exposure to chrysotile asbestos.
“We are very pleased to learn that the Government of Canada has taken this positive first step to heed the calls from CPHA and many other stakeholders,” stated Ardene Robinson Vollman, Chair of CPHA’s Board of Directors. “The public health community across Canada has been calling upon the Governments of Canada to fall in line with the World Health Organization and national governments around the world to recognize the dangers associated with breathing in asbestos fibres.”
In May 2015, in an open letter to the Ministers of the Environment and of Natural Resources, CPHA called on the Government of Canada to follow the lead of Australia and the European Union and support the inclusion of chrysotile asbestos in Annex III of the Rotterdam Convention. CPHA also believes that Canada should take further steps to limit possible exposure to asbestos by instituting a time-specific ban on asbestos-containing products in Canada. The Rotterdam Convention was created specifically to protect people in developing countries from being harmed by hazardous substances.
“This is a public health issue in Canada and in many other countries around the world,” said Ian Culbert, CPHA’s Executive Director. “We are relieved that Canada is beginning to fulfill its moral obligation, by recognizing the well-grounded evidence, to publicly acknowledge that breathing in asbestos fibres can cause cancer and other diseases. The Government of Canada has made a good ‘public health’ decision.”
In 2008, CPHA published a position statement calling for a ban on the mining, transformation and export of chrysotile asbestos by Canada. CPHA called on the Government of Canada to support the listing of chrysotile asbestos under the Rotterdam Convention and to provide just and adequate transition assistance income support and training for workers who would lose their jobs and financial assistance to communities that will be impacted as a result of the closure of the asbestos mines and production industry.
Chrysotile asbestos represents 100% of the world asbestos trade today and represents 95% of all asbestos ever used.
In a global context, the World Health Organization estimates that currently 125 million people are exposed to asbestos at the workplace. At least 90,000 preventable deaths occur each year from asbestos-related lung cancer, mesothelioma and asbestosis resulting from occupational exposure.