A panel of doctors and occupational health experts published an article in Environmental Health Perspectives, a scientific journal, calling on all governments to ban asbestos, according to CBC News Canada. In 1983, Iceland became the first country to ban asbestos use. Today several dozen countries ban the use of the deadly substance and worldwide consumption of the product has been cut in half. The article points out that while use of asbestos has dropped greatly in developed countries, use has skyrocketed in developing countries.
The countries who do not ban asbestos include the US, which is shocking, considering the horrible toll asbestos has taken on our country. The article states that the majority of the population of the world lives in countries where the substance is not banned.
Those who advocate against the ban, mostly the asbestos mining companies, argue that if safe handling practices are used, the product is harmless. However, those who study the substance and the diseases caused by the substance, such as mesothelioma, agree there is no safe level of exposure. The article lists several studies of the Quebec mining industry, performed by the National Public Health Institute of Quebec, which show the mines themselves do not follow the safety measures which amount to “controlled use” of asbestos. It is hard to imagine that third world countries can achieve controlled use of asbestos, when Canadian mines cannot do it.
It is time to ban asbestos use worldwide. It is a known public health threat and deserves the same level of attention that eradication of deadly diseases has received over the years. If not, many more deaths will occur.