Bloc Québécois leader calls asbestos safe despite new report

Health department report finds 43 per cent of air samples at or exceeding acceptable limit
|hrreporter.com|Last Updated: 04/07/2011

The production and export of asbestos in Quebec is safe despite a new health department study, according to Bloc Québécois leader Gilles Duceppe in the Montreal Gazette.

A study by Quebec’s Public Health Department looked at 3,000 air samples taken from construction sites around the province. Forty-three per cent had concentrations of asbestos fibres at or above what is considered acceptable, according to media reports.

“If (the production of asbestos) is done in a responsible way then it’s safe,” said Duceppe at a press conference. “My first concern would be, were the rules respected or not? It’s the same as nickel or lead — if it’s not done properly, then there can be problems.”

The leader also said he did not have time to review the report yet, but would look at it, reported the Gazette.

Most of the asbestos mined in Canada comes from Quebec. The province exported about $90 million worth of chrysotile asbestos in 2009, mostly to countries such as India and Mexico, according to the paper.

The study comes just weeks after the Confederation des syndicats nationaux (CSN), an organization representing Quebec unions, said no expansion projects should be supported at Quebec mines.

This represents a change in the organization’s position on the safe use of chrysotile, which stems from a review of the most recent epidemiological research and positions adopted by international organizations.

When the organization announced their change in stance they called on the government of Canada to add asbestos to the list of hazardous materials listed in the Rotterdam Convention. They also appealed to the Quebec government to reinforce and promote health and safety standards applicable to asbestos so those in the construction industry would be safer.

An estimated minimum of 90,000 people around the world die of an occupational disease caused by asbestos exposure, said the CSN.

Join the conversation on LinkedIn:

What responsibility does Canada have for health and safety in other countries? If asbestos or other dangerous goods are being shipped to developing nations, where workers may not be properly equipped or trained on how to handle it, or unaware of the dangers of exposure, is there responsibility and liability for Canada?

Join the conversation on the Health and Safety Canada LinkedIn group at http://www.linkedin.com/groups?mostPopular=&gid=3370763

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