To prevent future cases of asbestos-related disease, Canada should institute a time-specific ban on asbestos use in Canada and support a global ban, states a commentary in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal).
“The tragic legacy of asbestos exposure, even among individuals who never knew they had been exposed, continues to affect many Canadians and their families,” writes Dr. Trevor Dummer and Carolyn Gotay, School of Population and Public Health, Cancer Prevention Centre, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC.
Canada has not supported a ban against the use of asbestos worldwide, although it recently ended extraction and export of the substance. It still imports a variety of products that contain asbestos, including brake pads and construction materials.
Disease caused by asbestos develops years after exposure, meaning there will be many more deaths related to asbestos exposure. Many homes and businesses contain asbestos that will need to be removed over time.
“Nationwide public education campaigns concerning asbestos risks, especially for those undertaking home renovations, are therefore crucial,” state the authors.
“Even though Canada is no longer the world’s largest exporter of asbestos, by not ending chrysotile imports or lobbying for a global ban on use of all forms of asbestos, Canada remains complicit in an international industry that is responsible for about 100 000 avoidable deaths annually.”
The authors “urge Canadian policy-makers to instigate a time-specific ban on all asbestos use in Canada, and support a global ban on asbestos use.”