Asbestos, a group of fibrous silicate minerals, is a known carcinogen and is closely linked to the development of mesothelioma, one of the deadliest forms of cancer. Once diagnosed, patients live one to two years on average—the late diagnoses a result of the relative rarity of the condition and its long latency period.

Used for its heat-resistance and strength, asbestos can be found in insulation, floor tiles, door gaskets, soundproofing, roofing, patching compounds, fireproof gloves, ironing board covers and various other construction and household products, potentially harming those who make the products as well as those who use them. Despite the known health risks, many countries—including the United States—still allow the use of asbestos in many products, including clothing, pipeline wraps and automated transmission components. But at least 50 countries worldwide, counting the European Union, have comprehensively banned its use to save citizens the heartache of developing a preventable deadly disease.

In December 2016, the Canadian government announced its plans to remove asbestos and asbestos-containing products from the country within the next year, according to a government press release.

In a “whole-of-government approach,” the country will ban asbestos by 2018 after the introduction of new regulations eliminates its manufacture, use, import and export under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act of 1999. Public Services and Procurement Canada has already published a National Asbestos Inventory of federal buildings containing the toxic substance, which only becomes a significant health risk when it is disturbed and becomes airborne.

“Across Canada and around the world, asbestos-related cancers continue to hurt Canadian families and pose a significant burden for our health care systems,” Minister of Health Jane Philpott said in the release. “Our government is taking action to protect Canadians from substances such as asbestos that can be harmful to their health and safety.”

The announcement came after the release of new numbers showing asbestos is still the main cause of Canadian workplace deaths, as the country was once one of the largest asbestos producers before its last two mines closed in 2011, according to The Globe and Mail.

In the United States, though the number of mesothelioma cases is no longer increasing because fewer people come in contact with it at work, up to 8 million people may already have been exposed. In addition to workplace exposure, as many as 733,000 commercial and public buildings in the country contained asbestos insulation, according a 1988 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency report.

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To see if asbestos exposure qualifies for compensation, please contact Beasley Allen attorney Rhon Jones, head of the firm’s Toxic Torts section, at 800-898-2034 or by email at

Government of Canada
The Globe and Mail
Public Services and Procurement Canada
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

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