Since the dangers of asbestos are well known, many countries have already banned the use of the mineral.

However, some countries are still lagging behind.

file photo of the White House in Washington DC from Pennsylvania Avenue

Just recently, the Canadian government finally made the final move to ban the use of asbestos, and this has many in the United States asking when it is going to be our time to accept reality and follow suit.

What Led to Canada’s Asbestos Ban

The asbestos industry has a long history in Canada, and it has been a complicated journey from where it all started to asbestos finally being banned.

Asbestos mining first began in Canada back in the 19th Century, and the country eventually rose to become one of the leading producers of the mineral.

The discovery of its harmful effects obviously had a negative impact on regions where the economy relied on asbestos mining, and it was a long push to close the country’s last asbestos mines –which did not occur until 2011.

The Canadian government has been resistant to much of the push for regulation in the asbestos industry, even with heavy pressure from the media and the public.

Notably, the Globe and Mail has had extensive coverage concerning asbestos and health issues related to asbestos exposure. Just recently, the Globe reported on numbers that show that asbestos exposure is still the leading cause of workplace death in Canada.

According to the Occupational Cancer Research Centre, Canada records more than 2,000 cases of people being diagnosed with asbestos-related cancers each year.

Though the dangers of asbestos have been known for quite some time, it has taken decades and a concerted effort from health experts, labor unions, and the family members of those who have died from asbestos-related diseases.

The ban was announced with the statement, “We are taking action on this now to protect future generations of Canadians.”

The Fight for the Ban

With many lobbying for decades to get to this point, the fight has not been easy. The asbestos mining industry has received strong support from both federal and provincial governments – even in the face of mounting evidence concerning the impact that is has on human health.

Much of the pushback against regulations and a ban have to do with the fact that asbestos mining has played a significant role in the economy of some regions.

In industrial areas like those in Quebec, which boasts a town actually named Asbestos (home to a now-defunct mine) it has been a protected interest, with many politicians fearing to take it on.

It wasn’t until recently that we started to see more politicians on the national and local level joining the campaign to ban the mineral.

With the ban finally getting approval, the VP of the Canadian Cancer Society, Gabriel Miller said, “Today is a win for public health, but it’s also a win for the truth. Because the truth has been neglected on this file for a long time.”

The Impact

With the ban just being passed, Canadians can expect some significant changes. As it is stated, the ban is going to require effort from the entire government as it will effectively ban asbestos and all of its uses.

Along with a ban on asbestos and asbestos-containing products, there will be new federal workplace health and safety rules that are designed to limit the risk of on-the-job asbestos exposure.

Furthermore, the government will also add to the list of buildings it owns or leases that contain asbestos, and it will start work with provincial authorities in order to eliminate asbestos use in building projects.

As a part of the plan, the government will make efforts to properly inform the public about the effects of asbestos. To make sure that the ban is properly implemented, the government will have to work with sectors that range from trades and commerce to health and labor.

America is Still Fighting

While it is good to see that Canada has taken steps in the right direction, the work to get this necessary ban is still ongoing in the United States. Just as it has been in Canada, many of the same groups have an interest in keeping asbestos legal, and the industry wields its influence on Capitol Hill.

Unfortunately, the United States still has yet to ban the use of asbestos, and this holds the population at a continued risk for asbestos-related diseases.

Have You Been Exposed? Call Us for Legal Support

Even if the US were to ban asbestos tomorrow, there would still be many who would suffer from the exposure that occurred prior to the ban.

For people that are suffering with asbestos-related diseases, it is important to know and understand your legal rights. To learn more about your options, get in touch with our experts from Landry & Swarr.