Canada to ban asbestos by 2018

December 15, 2016

Once the world's top producer of asbestos, Canada said Thursday it will ban the heat-resistant fibrous mineral that is woven into building and other materials but which has been found to cause cancer.

In a statement, government ministers of health, science and the environment said the "comprehensive ban" will prohibit the "manufacture, use, import and export of asbestos," starting in 2018.

This comes after Ottawa in 2012 lifted its longtime opposition to listing asbestos as a hazardous material under the UN Rotterdam Convention, following the closure of its last two asbestos mines.

"There is irrefutable evidence that has led us to take concrete action to ban asbestos," Science Minister Kristy Duncan said.

Opposition parties, as well as health and labor groups supported the long-awaited announcement, pointing out recently that asbestos exposure is the number one cause of occupational death in Canada, responsible for about one third of all workplace deaths.

At the height of its use, asbestos was found in more than 3,000 applications worldwide. However, production and use have declined since the 1970s.

In 1987, the World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer declared it a human carcinogen.

The Canadian Labour Congress said last month more than 2,000 people die every year in this country from disease caused by exposure to asbestos.

The WHO has put the global death toll at more than 100,000.

Canada once dominated world production of asbestos but the closure of two Quebec mines in 2012 marked the suspension of its production for the first time in 130 years.

It continues to be imported in some goods.

Nearly 60 countries have banned asbestos, but not China, Russia, India, or Brazil. The United States has a partial ban in place.

Explore further: Pressures rise on Canada to ban asbestos

Related Stories

Pressures rise on Canada to ban asbestos

November 16, 2016

Canada's largest union and the third party in the Commons ramped up pressure Wednesday on the government to make good on a promise to ban asbestos.

EPA begins process to regulate toxic, widely used chemicals

November 29, 2016

The Environmental Protection Agency on Tuesday released a list of toxic chemicals that will be the first reviewed under a recently enacted law that gives regulators increased authority to ban substances shown to endanger ...

Recommended for you

Antarctic ice shelf 'sings' as winds whip across its surface

October 16, 2018

Winds blowing across snow dunes on Antarctica's Ross Ice Shelf cause the massive ice slab's surface to vibrate, producing a near-constant set of seismic "tones" scientists could potentially use to monitor changes in the ice ...

New understanding of Mekong River incision

October 16, 2018

An international team of earth scientists has linked the establishment of the Mekong River to a period of major intensification of the Asian monsoon during the middle Miocene, about 17 million years ago, findings that supplant ...

World Heritage sites threatened by sea level rise

October 16, 2018

From Venice and the tower of Pisa to the medieval city of Rhodes, dozens of UNESCO World Heritage sites in the Mediterranean basin are deeply threatened by rising sea levels, researchers warned Tuesday.

Was life on the early Earth purple?

October 16, 2018

Early life forms on Earth may have been able to generate metabolic energy from sunlight using a purple-pigmented molecule called retinal that possibly predates the evolution of chlorophyll and photosynthesis. If retinal has ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.