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The safe asbestos

Oh silly me! I should’ve known Canada only has safe asbestos!

The below is an email response, thoughtfully and carefully written (that’s appreciated), by my MP’s office from an email based on Canada Causes Cancer initiative.

I think this editorial from the Canadian Medical Association Journal (2008, Oct 21 179.9)sums up my ideas in response: “Canada defends chrysotile on the basis that it is safer than other forms of asbestos. But to say that chrysotile is safer is not to say it is safe. “

It’s up to you to decide if Chryostile is as safe as other hazardous materials or not and if it’s right that we’ll export it willy nilly but have really strict use of it here.



Dear Jennifer,

Thank you for taking the time to write.

It is important first to clarify how we use the term “asbestos.” A great deal of confusion arises from the common use of the generic commercial term “asbestos” to describe two different and distinct classes of mineral fibres found naturally in rock formations around the world: amphibole and serpentine.

Chrysotile, the only “asbestos” fibre produced in and exported from Canada, belong to the serpentine class. Serpentine minerals are structurally and chemically different from the amphiboles. Chrysotile is the only “asbestos” fibre that does not belong to the amphibole group. The risk posed by using chrysotile fibres can be managed if adequate controls, such as those established in Canada, are implemented and completely observed.

For over 30 years, the Government of Canada has promoted the safe and controlled use of chyrsotile, both domestically and internationally. Scientific reviews show that chyrsotile fibres can be used safely under controlled conditions.

Canada has adopted a controlled use approach to chrysotile asbestos that enforces appropriate regulations, programs and practices to rigorously control exposure. Where exposures and subsequent risks cannot be properly managed, the specific uses are discontinued or prohibited.

The illnesses we are currently seeing are linked to past high-level exposures and to inappropriate uses that have been discontinued since the late 1970`s.

The Chyrsotile Institute, a not-for-profit organization, is mandated by the federal and Quebec governments, as well as by the unions representing chyrsotile workers, to promote the safe and controlled use of chyrsotile domestically and internationally. This includes information such as technical regulations, control measures, standards, and best practices.

Thank you for writing,
Best Regards,
Jane Ng
Constituency Assistant,
Office of Chungsen Leung, M.P. – Willowdale
Parliamentary Secretary for Multiculutralism


About Jen

An instructor, a reader, a dog-owner, and advocate; that's how I define myself and these aspects directly impact my interests and conversations.


One thought on “The safe asbestos

  1. There’s no such thing as “Safe” asbestos, only “Safe-er”. Yes, good containment procedures reduce the risk, but there is always risk. Besides, obsessing about one particular substance while ignoring all the other micro-fiber threats is somewhat disingenuous. (very small fibers and particles of almost any substance can be inhaled, implant in the lungs and cause cancer, not just asbestos)

    That Guy in Vermont… who’s lost your e-ddress.

    Posted by JeffWarner | 21 Jun 2011, 4:21 AM

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