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Canada Issues Final Asbestos Ban, with Controversial Exemptions

Canada will soon become one of an estimated 70 countries around the world that have implemented regulations designed to ban asbestos. However, according to CBC News and other media outlets, an analysis of the final rules revealed that, “they have been watered down from what the federal government originally proposed.”

The new asbestos regulations will prohibit the sale, import, and use of processed asbestos fibers, and the import, manufacture, and sale and use of products containing processed asbestos fibers. The regulations will not prohibit mining activities and they won't apply to structures or products that already contain asbestos. In addition, the final regulations include new exemptions to allow nuclear facilities, chlor-alkali plants, and the military to continue using the toxic mineral for several years.

Canada’s chlor-alkali industry, “which uses asbestos in the equipment that produces products like chlorine, was originally going to have to phase out its use by 2025,” reports CBC News. “It will now have until the end of 2029.” The countries nuclear facilities and military will be free to import, buy, and use products containing asbestos to service their equipment until the end of 2022 "if no technically or economically feasible asbestos-free alternative is available."

The military also gets an "ongoing exclusion" to import, buy and use military equipment serviced with a product containing asbestos while it was outside Canada, reports CBC News. Other exclusions and exceptions include:

  • Exporting asbestos. For example, asbestos in personal or household effects intended for personal use will be allowed, as will asbestos contained in military equipment, asbestos contained in a product used prior to the amendments coming into force, and asbestos in raw material exported to manufacture a product that is not a consumer product.
  • Permits to use asbestos or products including asbestos where they "are required to protect the environment or human health where there is no technically or economically feasible alternative available." Permits will last for one year and there are reporting requirements.
  • Re-using "asbestos in existing road infrastructure into new road infrastructure or in asbestos mining site restoration" with no end date.

Many Canadians are unhappy with the final regulations, including NDP MP Sheri Benson who said, “exemptions from the ban will increase the risk of cancer and other lung diseases.” She went on to state that the prime minister “must keep his promise and implement a comprehensive and complete ban on asbestos immediately.”

Asbestos exposure “is the leading cause of occupational death in Canada,” she said. “We cannot stand idly by while Canadian workers and their families continue to be exposed to asbestos.”

Environment Minister Catherine McKenna explained that the exemptions would not impact human health, which is “our top priority.” McKenna said the federal government is “keeping the promise it made in 2016.” The new regulations to ban asbestos and products containing asbestos in Canada will be effective at the end of this year.

If you have been exposed to asbestos, see your doctor right away. Early detection of asbestos-related diseases such as mesothelioma could lead to better treatment options and outcomes. Talk to your doctor today.

 

Sources

Kazan-Allen, Laurie. “Current Asbestos Bans.” International Ban Asbestos Secretariat. International Ban Asbestos Secretariat, 23 Oct. 2018. Web. 06 Dec. 2018.

Thompson, Elizabeth. “New federal asbestos ban includes controversial exemptions.” CBC News. CBC/Radio-Canada, 18 Oct. 2018. Web. 06 Dec. 2018.