The Dangers of Asbestos

The Dangers of Asbestos

Asbestos has become an issue of concern because of the dangers that it poses to the human population. The Asbestos Industry has been accused of directly causing millions of deaths all over the world because of the thousands of tons of the poison that comes from the industry in Quebec. The poison that comes from the industry has been indicated to cause cancer and lung disease that are very dangerous to the lives of human beings (, 2011).

Asbestos refers to a group of fibrous minerals that are in used as industrial and construction materials. Asbestos is preferred for these purposes because of its resistance to chemicals and heat meaning that asbestos is durable and effective for use in construction and industries. Studies have indicated that Asbestos contributes to cancer. Early studies that were carried when the use of asbestos was widespread led to the ban on asbestos in 1989, by the Environmental Protection Agency. However, the government of Canada started the use of Asbestos under regulation in the 1970s.However, it is important to state that there are several types of Asbestos and not all of them are associated with cancer. The shape, chemical composition and size of an Asbestos fiberdeterminethe amount of effect it has (Kanarek, 2011).

The health effects of asbestos are based on exposure to it. The exposure to Asbestos affects the lungs and scars the lungs. It also causes mesothelioma and lung cancer. Other studies have linked Asbestos to colon cancer and throat cancer among other cancers. It has been stated that most people who suffer from health conditions were most likely exposed to Asbestos before the 1970s. This means that the health effects of Asbestos do not occur immediately. It stays for a period of between twenty to thirty years before the symptoms can be seen. However, individuals who seek chest x-rays among other diagnostic tests help individuals cushion the effects early.

Marty Kanarek (2011) argues that Asbestos exists in two main forms. The two types are the serpentines and the amphiboles. Ninety-five percent of asbestos that is produced all over the world is the serpentines. The author states that this form of asbestos has health effects but toxicologists and other scientists have delayed policy implementation that would ban all forms of asbestos as a way of preventive medicine. Their argument is that chrysotile does not cause mesothelioma. However, the author states that, as of 2011, there have been many studies linking all forms of Asbestos to peritoneal and plural mesothelioma.An evidence of mesothelioma was found in a survey that was done in Quebec among 817 women. This article is important because it shows that Asbestos does not affect Canada alone, but also other nations of the world, such as the US and Mexico (Kanarek, 2011).

Matthew B. Stanbrook, the editor of Canadian Medical Association Journal,states that Canada is the only western country that has consistently opposed international efforts that have been done to regulate the trade of Asbestos globally. He states that the government of Canada has done this with much political manipulation. Several years that have passed, the European Union alongside other countries like Chile and Australia proposed that Chrysotile should added to the list of substances that are regulated under that Rotterdam Convention. This was done to allow exporting countries notify the importing government before the substance could be shipped to that the importing government could decide whether to receive the substance or refute. However, Canada categorically opposed the move through a ferocious diplomatic opposition. Canada has made friends with countries like Iran, Zimbabwe and Russia in order to gain support over such opposition moves. Despite the fact that Canada has reduced the use of Asbestos to decrease the danger on Canadians, it is still the second largest exporter of Asbestos. In fact, 96 percent of all Asbestos produced in Canada is meant for exportation to developing countries, for instance India and Thailand. This is still irresponsible of Canada to endanger the lives of people outside Canada while protecting its own (Stanbrook, 2008).

  1. Ramanathan and V. Subramanian (2001) state that some of the causes of lung and breathing problems occur because of obsolete technology and direct exposure to Asbestos products without precaution. The authors give the example of India that allows the selling of Asbestos products without proper statutory regulation. Asbestos has more than three thousand uses. The authors state that several malignant lung diseases and gastrointestinal system diseases are linked to exposure to Asbestos as shown by the Harrison principles of internal medicine. It has been proven that Asbestos cannot be safely used in unindustrialized countries because of the absence of proper regulatory measures and information about its dangers. The authors bring up an important issue stating that all forms of Asbestos cause asbestosis, a progressive fibrotic disease that affects the lungs. The occupational exposure to Asbestos especially on Chrysotile Asbestos has been linked to a lifetime risk for lung cancer on 5/ 1000 people and for asbestosis 2/1000 people. In the industrial world, the use of Asbestos has reduced considerably while it has increased in developing countries. Canada is taking advantage of this fact to market the dangerous mineral to developing countries like Thailand where the heat resistance properties of Asbestos is highly valued (Ramanathan & V. Subramanian, 2001).

From the three articles discussed above and other studies, it has been clearly indicated that Asbestos causes dangerous health risks to the lives of many people. With this information, I decided that I would take an action to ensure that the use of the deadly asbestos is reduced and may be stopped completely in future. My action has been to educate people on the dangers of Asbestos on the lives of people and to engage them in ways that we can stop the use of Asbestos. I have done this by explaining to the people around me about the diseases that Asbestos can cause. In my action, I have provided them with evidence from studies, such as the three articles discussed to show that Canada has considerably reduced the use of Asbestos in the country but produce it in Quebec and actively export it to developing countries. My main aim is to enlighten as many individuals as possible then we can rally the government to stop it through legal means and demonstrations. Together with likeminded individuals, I also intend to open a website that discourages Canadian citizens from supporting the industry.

I have started educating other people about this issue. However, I will continue educating more by providing the findings of further studies on Asbestos. I am also looking for an NGO that will fund me to produce this information on electronic media such as DVDs freely in order to reach more people and ensure that the government stops running the industry and further Asbestos exportation.


References ( 2011, December 2 ). Canada Causes Cancer. Retrieved from

Kanarek, M. (2011). Mesothelioma from Chrysotile Asbestos: Update. Ann Epidemial, 21(9), 688–697.

Ramanathan, A., & V. Subramanian. (2001). Present Status of Asbestos Mining and Related Health Problems in India —A Survey. Industrial Health, 39, 309–315.

Stanbrook, M. B. ( 2008). Asbestos mortality: a Canadian export. Canadian Medical Associaton Journal, 179(9), 870-873.


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