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National Mesothelioma Awareness Day just passed and many communities throughout the United States celebrated the lives of loved ones who succumbed to this deadly and incurable form of cancer. This cancer continues to be linked to exposure to asbestos in New York, Washington D.C., Miami and elsewhere in the country.
Yet, people often think of asbestos as an old material no longer in use. Sadly, that’s not the case. Not only is it still found in many old buildings, but it is also still being actively mined and exported and has never been officially outlawed in the United States. Our neighbors to the north in Canada still make plenty of money mining and exporting this clearly dangerous material to third-world countries, which are willing to put their people at risk, despite clear evidence that it kills.
New York mesothelioma lawyers have seen many clients who have died because of this painful and debilitating form of cancer. The most common cause is asbestos exposure working in plants, old factories, shipyards and while serving in the military.
Decades ago when asbestos was a popular material in this country for insulation, brake pads, piping and other fire-resistant needs, manufacturers continued to use the material, and failed to adequately protect employees, long after the hazards were known.
Many companies — in an effort to save money — refused to acknowledge the problem and didn’t clean up their buildings, Instead, they simply left their employees at high risks of exposure. With a latency period of 30 to 40 years, those employees are now in retirement and being diagnosed with mesothelioma, a deadly form of cancer that most often affects the lining of internal organs.
In the case of Canada — and Russia, which is another large exporter of asbestos — they know the risks and are mine the material for those entities still willing to buy it. Third-world countries — such as India with a large poor population — continue to use asbestos because of its durability and convenience.
According to the story out of Toronto, an asbestos mine that was set to close now has new life with $25 million to finance it from investors. The Quebec government is providing a $58 million loan guarantee to keep it going. One of those involved with the project tells the newspaper he is “not exporting death.’
Yet, the evidence suggests otherwise. The plan is to increase sales to $150 million within two years and $3.4 billion over the next two decades. Last year, Canada was almost completely alone in opposing a United Nations treaty that would have added asbestos to a list of hazardous materials restricted worldwide.
“Asbestos is causing death and it can be prevented by stopping the export of it,” said Paul Lapierre, vice-president of public affairs for the Canadian Cancer Society. At least there are critics. But apparently their voice isn’t as influential as the millions of dollars that will keep this plant in operation and continue to put people at risk.
Some call it borderline racist to be exporting asbestos to the poorest people in the world, who may not have the same information about the dangers of the product — nor the power to stop it.
Officials supporting the move say that today’s asbestos is tightly “bonded” and is much different than looser asbestos widely used as insulation. Either way, it’s still asbestos, it can still come apart and it still poses a deadly risk for unsuspecting victims.