Canada’s ban on the manufacture, import, export, sale and use of asbestos and asbestos-containing products will go into effect on Dec. 30, 2018. The new regulations were proposed by the Canadian federal government in January of this year. Canada joins more than 60 other countries around the world in banning the mineral.
For decades, asbestos was widely used in construction, shipbuilding, and friction materials due to its durability and fire resistance. But asbestos fibers are microscopic and can become airborne. If inhaled, asbestos can lead to mesothelioma, a rare form of cancer that develops in the lining that surrounds the lungs, abdomen chest, or testicles. It can take up to 50 years for mesothelioma to develop, at which point the diagnosis is typically dire, with most patients dying within a year or two.
The serious health risks related to asbestos exposure led dozens of countries to ban its use. In the 1980s and 1990s, the United States and Canada fell short of banning asbestos, instead restricting its use.
In 2016, after years of pressure from health experts and family members of asbestos victims, Canada agreed to ban the carcinogenic mineral. Corporations continued to argue that asbestos was safe if proper precautions were used but, ultimately, the scientific evidence won out. Last fall, the Canadian federal government finally agreed to enforce new regulations to do away with the manufacture, import, export, sale and use of the toxic mineral.
The U.S., however, has taken a different stand under the Trump administration. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released a Significant New Use Rule (SNUR) for evaluating the risk of substances and, as a result, will allow new uses of asbestos on a case-by-case basis.
Linda Reinstein, co-founder of the nonprofit Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO), is fighting the federal government to change the rule. “The EPA has tried to minimize the danger of the SNUR and has instead chosen to double down on its insistence that this is a step in the right direction,” she wrote in an appeal on the organization’s website. “Nearly 40,000 Americans die each year from asbestos-related diseases that the EPA could prevent if it would do their job and ban asbestos without any loopholes or exemptions.”
Sources: Tire Business, CTV, ADAO