Canada’s positions on issues like same-sex marriage, immigration and, most recently, recreational marijuana have given it a reputation for progressiveness. But the government’s announcement this week that it was banning asbestos, a potent cause of cancer, came decades after many other nations took the step.
For more than a century, asbestos was a ubiquitous miracle fiber. Sprayed on the steel structure of buildings and inside ships, it suppressed fires. It was found in a type of home insulation and in roofing tiles, and was used to seal heating ducts.
Asbestos was mixed with concrete to make pipes, woven into flameproof fabrics, and made into gaskets, building supplies and a variety of industrial goods. But inhaling even small quantities of its fibers could be deadly. Continue Reading →