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Canadian Cancer Society Calls for Ban on Asbestos

untries such as India, Indonesia and Thailand, are the major export markets for Canadian asbestos.

Despite the well-known health risks, the federal government has been a strong backer of asbestos. It has spent about $19.2-million from 1984 to 2007, including regular funding of the Montreal-based Chrysotile Institute, to promote asbestos use.

Although many countries have banned asbestos, Canada continues to allow it in children's toys and building materials, among other products.

Asbestos defenders criticized the society's move, arguing that the product is safe when properly used. They also say no distinction is made between the impact of chrysotile and more deadly forms of asbestos - crecodolite and amosite - which have already been banned.

Health Canada says asbestos is safe as long as it's in a "controlled use." That means it should be encapsulated in concrete or other materials that prevent the fibers from becoming airborne and inhaled.

The Canadian Cancer Society wants Ottawa to adopt a comprehensive strategy on asbestos that would: - Inform workers of the dangers of working and removing asbestos. - Develop a national surveillance system to track related diseases. - Maintain a public registry of asbestos-laden buildings. - Help communities reduce their asbestos mining exposure. - Inform importing countries of the health and environmental risks.

The cancer society will also recommend that the federal government stop trying to block efforts by the Rotterdam Convention, an UN-organized body, at its meeting in 2008, to place the variety of asbestos mined in Canada on the list of the world's most dangerous substances.


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