Asbestos used to be widely employed because of its ability to fireproof hardened materials, whether roof sheets, floor tiles, furnaces and wiring, or cement building blocks. Once invisible particles of asbestos are deeply inhaled into the lung, they can leave telltale scars that can give rise – sometimes forty years later – to lung cancer or to mesothelioma.
The dangers of asbestos have been known since the 1930s. When disrupted from pipe or attic insulation, this invisible, fire-proof mineral can release millions of ultra-fine particles into the air that can be lodged deeply in the lung. Up to five decades after asbestos exposure first occurs, people can develop crippling lung disease and cancers. A long-awaited congressional report is expected to be released soon that confirms EPA’s failures to tell people about the hidden and persistant risks from exposure to cancer-causing asbestos in home insulation in Spokane, Washington, Portland, Oregon and more than two hundred other communities. Vermiculite from the mines of Libby, Montana, is a form of asbestos that was widely used throughout the country in kitty litter, attic insulation, and potting soil. Recently EPA posted a warning notice about avoided exposures to vermiculite based attic insulation on its web site.
But, people have to know enough to look for the advice and there is no national campaign even at this stage to get information out about this insidiously slow hazard. Today in Germany, France and Italy, and the U.S., one in three cases of mesethelioma, a rare cancer thought to be uniquely tied with asbestos exposures that can take place decades earlier, occurs in a person who has no history of working with asbestos. This tells us that there are exposures out there that have been hidden for years. One of the less well acknowledged asbestos hazards came from the practice of using asbestos to filter Kent cigarettes—a practice that only ended because the filters worked too well, removing too much taste and nicotine.
Canada and the U.S. are the only two modern nations not to have banned asbestos. Working with unions and other public groups, the foundation will provide technical and public policy advice to those working to ban this well-known cancer-causing agent.
The EPA web site contains information on an important avoidable sources of asbestos—vermiculate insulation called zonolite. If you suspect your attic may be insulated with this material, do not touch it. Contact a certified asbestos inspector to advise you on appropriate remedies.
Breathtaking – A personal investigation into the present day use of asbestos | Details (pdf)
New Study Finds increased Risk of Fatal Lung Cancer in Workers and in Persons Living Near Asbestos Production in Italy. Read the report.
French photo ad on asbestos | Download it (pdf)
Collegium Ramazzini | The global health dimensions of asbestos and asbestos-related diseases and associated press release | June 24, 2015
The Lancet slams Canadian ‘hypocrisy’ on asbestos | December 9, 2010
The Globe and Mail | Exporting Death: Another popular Harper policy | October 15, 2010
Toronto Star | Quebec offers a lifeline to a deadly industry | September 3, 2010
Edmonton Journal | Tax support of asbestos industry means we all share the blame. PM continues to boost market for deadly product overseas | July 14, 2010
Toronto Star | The battle to end Canada’s export of deadly asbestos may about to be lost | June 6, 2010
- Mine Jeffrey accepts offer from Canadian-led investors – Nov. 1 2010
- Asbestos is still with us: repeat call for a universal ban
- Scientists, MDs, labour groups sound the alarm
- Asbestos: A pile of trouble
- Charest may face asbestos protests in India
- Charest told to ban asbestos exports, Globe & Mail
- Quebec accused of hypocrisy on asbestos exports, Montreal Gazette
- International scientists implore Jean Charest to eliminate asbestos exports
- Scientists implore Charest to stop asbestos exports, CTV
- Amiante: l’Inde attend Charest de pied ferme, La Presse
- L’industrie de l’amiante: Charest ne bouge pas, Le Soleil
- Des experts somment Charest d’interdire l’exportation d’amiante, Le Soleil, le 28 janvier 2010
- Charest maintient sa position, Radio-Canada 29 janvier 2010 à 18 h 14
- Read more on Asbestos in Asbestos News
Dr. Davis sends message regarding tobacco and asbesto to UN Rotterdam Treaty Negotiation, in Rome, in La Stampa, a major Italian newspaper.
See the Italian version | Read the English version
Canada helps keep asbestos type off watchlist
A type of asbestos sold around the world by Canada and several other countries will remain off an international watchlist of dangerous chemicals for at least another two years. “I’m absolutely flabbergasted to realize that the asbestos industry is just following the playbook of the tobacco industry — and it’s still working,” [Dr. Devra Davis] said. Read More
Dr. Davis talks about asbestos.
Dr. Devra Davis’ Advocacy on Asbestos
Dr. Davis: Exporting Asbestos Should Be Illegal
- More than 100 scientists from 28 countries have supported a letter calling on Quebec Premier Jean Charest to listen to international health scientists, including those from his own country, and stop asbestos exports.
- Quebec stands firm on asbestos exports despite growing controversy | February 17, 2010
- Asbestos double standards condemned | February 5, 2010
- Scientists condemn asbestos export | February 5, 2010
- It is deeply immoral for Quebec to sell asbestos | February 4, 2010
- Scientists protest about Quebec’s “hypocrisy” over export of asbestos | British Medical Journal | February 3, 2010
- The Ecology Spirit: End Asbestos Exports, Scientists Tell Charest | February 3, 2010
- Le lobby anti-amiante poursuit sa croisade… en Inde | February 1, 2010
- La question de l’amiante resurgit | February 1, 2010
- Inde: des travailleurs present Charest d’interdire l’amiante | February 1, 2010
- BanAsbestosIndia.com – Open Letter to Quebec’s Chief Minister | January 30, 2010
- Scientists from 28 countries condemn Quebec’s asbestos export / Des scientifiques de 28 pays condamnent l’exportation d’amiante par le Québec | Thursday, January 28