Shh: more proof asbestos kills

A secret year-old report further shows that asbestos causes cancer

You’d think a report showing a “strong relationship” between chrysotile asbestos mined in Canada and lung cancer would make headlines the minute this news broke. But it’s taken a year for the findings to come to light. A panel of international experts made the conclusion in March 2008, but Health Canada refused to make the findings public. The panel’s chairman called this “an annoying piece of needless government secrecy.” CanWest News Service finally received the report by filing an Access to Information request. The hazards of asbestos are acutely controversial, especially in Quebec, where the industry is headquartered. Even though asbestos use is banned in Canada and throughout Europe and Australia, we still export $100 million of the stuff to developing countries. Politicians have been reluctant to cut off the industry altogether, opting instead for “safe use” policies, because it would compromise their popularity in Quebec. One of the experts on the panel says the most important thing about their study is what it doesn’t say: “that exposure to chrysotile asbestos is safe.” Health Canada isn’t releasing the report to the public at large, but will send a copy to interested citizens upon request.

Ottawa Citizen

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