The story of asbestos is a cautionary, disturbing and timely tale. The recent announcement that Canada will enact a comprehensive ban by 2018 is a decision that will save lives and prevent painful diseases caused by exposure to this deadly substance.
Banning asbestos is an important step towards fulfilling the fundamental right of all Canadians to live in a healthy environment. It also demonstrates that we finally have a federal government willing to make decisions based on scientific evidence.
To be clear: the decision comes decades late. Thousands of Canadians have already died from mesothelioma, asbestosis and lung cancer. Thousands more will suffer the same fate in the coming years. Asbestos is far and away the leading occupational killer, costing Canada billions of dollars annually.
Asbestos also harms the families of workers in asbestos industries, people living near asbestos mines or manufacturing facilities, and people involuntarily exposed to asbestos at home, school or work.
For example, in Quebec, women living in asbestos mining communities, but not working in the industry, suffer from elevated rates of cancer. Globally, the World Health Organization estimates 107,000 deaths a year are caused by asbestos exposure.
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