Saturday, July 9, 2011

Asbestos (oh, forgive me) Chrysotile Revisited

I wrote to several Canadian MPs regarding my concerns about exporting asbestos. (See Political Complicity). Recently I received a letter back from John Weston, Conservative MP for my district. He wrote:

Chrysotile, the only “asbestos” fibre produced in and exported from Canada, belong to the serpentine class. Serpentine minerals are structurally and chemically different from the amphiboles. Chrysotile is the only “asbestos” fibre that does not belong to the amphibole group. The risk posed by using chrysotile fibres can be managed if adequate controls, such as those established in Canada, are implemented and completely observed.

For over 30 years, the Government of Canada has promoted the safe and controlled use of chrysotile, both domestically and internationally. Scientific reviews show that chrysotile fibres can be used safely under controlled conditions.
Excellent, good to hear. So why then the resistance to the Rotterdam Convention? As stated in the Globe and Mail, all it is asking asbestos exporting countries to do is to “warn recipient countries of any health hazards”.

It is also interesting to note that on the Health Canada website it states:
It is generally accepted that chrysotile asbestos is less potent and does less damage to the lungs than the amphiboles.
What it doesn’t state is what exactly does “less potent” and “less damage” mean. It is kind of like saying “light” cigarettes are less damaging to the lungs.

Well, I shall write Mr. Weston back with my concerns. Will let you know what he says.