The Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO), representing thousands of asbestos victims, physicians and scientists around the world, urges the Canadian Parliament to oppose Quebec government’s offering of $58 million loan guarantee that would enable Jeffrey Mine Inc. to open up a new underground asbestos mine in Asbestos, Quebec. The company’s present open-pit mine has run out of asbestos. With this government subsidy, the Jeffrey mine will be able to export 200,000 tons of asbestos – a well documented, highly carcinogenic toxin – each year to developing countries for the next quarter of a century. 

Asbestos is a known human carcinogen and there is no safe level of exposure. The World Health Organization estimates the mineral, regardless of the type, causes 90,000 preventable deaths each year around the world. No reputable health agency has ever identified a concentration of asbestos that will not negatively affect health.  These agencies include the U.S. Surgeon General, Environmental Protection Agency, Centers for Disease Control/ National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Consumer Product Safety Commission, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, World Health Organization, International Agency for Research on Cancer, and International Programme for Chemical Safety.

Over 52 countries have banned asbestos, including all members of the European Union. South Korea and South Africa are also in the progress of implementing a ban.  The United States and Canada lag far behind other industrialized nations in eliminating exposure. 

“ADAO is appalled at the recent development whereby the Canadian Government may provide $58 million to jump-start the Canadian Asbestos Industry,” said Richard Lemen, PhD, MSPH, Assistant Surgeon General, USPHS (Ret.) & Rear Admiral (Ret.) and ADAO Science Advisory Board Co-Chair. “After a century of knowledge concerning the health effects of asbestos and its devastating trail of disease and death around the world, such an initiative by Canada is a giant misstep backwards. By offering this subsidy, Quebec is endangering thousands of lives, both in Canada and worldwide.”

“ADAO urges Quebec to take a firm stance against asbestos mining; send a global message that we can no longer allow the commercial distribution of this deadly mineral and make it clear that the Quebec government is making a grave mistake by propagating the myth that there are safe levels of asbestos exposure,” said Linda Reinstein, President/CEO and Co-Founder of the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization. “It is time the Government of Canada takes a leadership role in curtailing the worldwide pandemic of asbestos-related disease and death by stopping the mining and exportation of asbestos from its borders.”

Event Note: On June 24, 2010, advocates from around the world will gather in Washington, D.C., New York, Seoul, and Hong Kong to protest Quebec government’s offering of a $58 million loan guarantee that would open a new underground asbestos mine in Asbestos, Quebec.

Washington D.C.
12:00 noon on Thursday, June 24
Quebec trade office
805 15th St. NW

You can read more about the issue in the Canadian press.