The owner of the Jeffrey Mine in Quebec awaits a decision this month from the provincial government of Quebec on a request for $58 million in loan guarantees to reopen the asbestos mine.
In an article in The New York Times, G. Bernard Colombe, president of Mine Jeffrey, discusses his plan to revitalize the mine located in the town of Asbestos and export asbestos to nations such as India, Pakistan and Vietnam, countries that have weak worker safety laws. Colombe repeats the old asbestos industry canard that chrysotile asbestos is safe.
Asbestos describes a group of mineral fibers and all forms of asbestos cause cancer, according to the World Health Organization. Asbestos causes a signature cancer, mesothelioma that produces malignant tumors in the lining of the lungs or abdomen as well as lung cancer and asbestosis, a chronic scarring of the lung. About 3,000 Americans die of mesothelioma each year from exposure to asbestos decades ago. Asbestos-containing products such as pipe, insulation, roofing and cement are still widely used in many Asian countries and workers saw and hammer the building materials without knowing that they are breathing deadly asbestos.
Given the recognized health hazards of asbestos, medical and health organizations in Canada, the United States and Great Britain have condemned the proposed reopening of the mine and export chrysotile asbestos. Canada is one of the world’s leading exporters of asbestos and has blocked attempts by the United Nations to increase awareness of the dangers of asbestos among developing nations.
The World Health Organization says that all forms of asbestos cause cancer in humans including mesothelioma, lung cancer and cancer of the larynx and ovary. According to the most recent WHO estimates, more than 107,000 people die each year from asbestos-related lung cancer, mesothelioma and asbestosis. One in every three deaths of cancer contracted in the workplace is caused by asbestos.
The World Health Organization says the most efficient way to eliminate asbestos-related disease is to stop the use of all forms of asbestos.