Canadian Asbestos Production in the News

Canadian asbestos production and exportation continues to grab the headlines in two recent stories.

While the Conservative government’s official line is solidly behind the Quebec-based asbestos industry, it seems that at least some individual Conservative MPs aren’t entirely sure of that position.

A group of Conservative MPs recently asked industry experts to meet with them on Parliament Hill to discuss the issue. Representatives of the Chrysotile Institute and industry scientists attended a private meeting with them that lasted several hours. It remains to be seen whether this will affect their or the government’s stance on this controversial subject.

At one time, the Canadian asbestos industry ranked first in the world, supplying about 85% of the world’s production in the early parts of the last century. The fireproof and nearly indestructible qualities of asbestos made it seem ideal for construction, and it became a much valued commodity worldwide until the early 1970’s, when its danger to human health became more and more evident.

Times have changed drastically over the last four decades. In November 2011, Canadian asbestos production fell to a complete halt for the first time in 130 years. As this blog reported recently, investors in the monster Jeffrey Mine are waiting on Quebec government approval for loan guarantees in order to re-open. It’s reported that operational issues are behind the closure of the only other operational asbestos mine, the Lac d’amiante du Canada site in Thetford Mines.

As these temporary issues get sorted out, activists on both sides of the asbestos exportation issue continue to lobby for support.

Asbestos may exist in your home in a variety of places both indoors and out, particularly if it was constructed before 1970. Those places include siding, insulation, floor and ceiling tiles and so-called “popcorn” ceiling treatments, among others.

If you suspect any kind of asbestos use in your home, and before any renovation projects, please DO NOT DISTURB OR HANDLE the material in question. The danger from asbestos comes from inhaling the fibres, and anything you can do to contain or avoid it until you can call in the experts from GreenStream Environmental Services will help to minimize the impact. It is not considered dangerous if the tile or other material is still intact.

At GreenStream Environmental Services, we offer professional vermiculite and asbestos remediation services and fast quotes to help get peace of mind as quickly as possible.  In the Toronto area contact GreenStreamEnvironmental.ca – Toronto’s asbestos removal specialists – at (416) 818-9414.

Members of the Toronto Construction Association, featured in Mike Holmes’ magazine, HGTV’s Income Properties, W Network’s Love It Or List It and chosen by Homestars.com as “Best Toronto Asbestos Removal Company” based on customer ratings and reviews, GreenStream Environmental Services are fully-certified, trusted and insured professionals in the removal and disposal of commercial, industrial, institutional and residential asbestos, vermiculite, mould (hazardous and non-hazardous). Providing emergency service 24/7/365 for all of Toronto and the GTA (North York, Mississauga, Brampton, Oakville, Markham and Ontario), GreenStream has over 40 combined years of experience serving clients such as the City of Toronto, the Toronto District School Board and many more. For a free estimate in Toronto, the GTA and Southern Ontario, call today at 416-818-9414.

Victims of Asbestos Protest Proposal to Reopen Quebec’s Jeffrey Mine

As the Quebec government considers a proposal to re-open the bankrupt Jeffrey asbestos mine by a group of investors – a deal that would involve $58 million in provincial loan guarantees – Ontario families of asbestos victims held a news conference in Toronto in early November. The group, mainly from the Sarnia area, related heartrending stories of the ravages of mesothelioma and the other lung problems engendered by exposure to asbestos.

The group, with the backing of Sarnia’s mayor, invited Baljit Chadha, the lead investor in the proposed project, to come to Sarnia, Ontario and meet with asbestos victims and their families. Sarnia’s waterfront is home to a memorial to the workplace victims of asbestos exposure. The victim’s group went even further, urging government help for workers currently at the remaining asbestos mines in this country in order to transition to other industries.

Mr. Chadha is president of Balcorp Ltd., an international marketing and investment firm based in Montreal, and hopes to revive the Jeffrey asbestos mine – the world’s second largest – with a view to exportation of asbestos to the developing world, including his native country of India along with Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Pakistan, and the Philippines. The Jeffrey Mine contains chrysotile asbestos, and in the face of growing protests, company representatives went so far earlier this year as to say they do not believe this variety of asbestos to be harmful to humans. Will the Quebec government continue to support this industry, and will Mr. Chadha visit Sarnia?

The hazards of asbestos are well documented, and may be present in a wide variety of areas in your own home here in the GTA, including siding, ceiling tiles, insulation and more, particularly if your house was built before 1970.

If you suspect the presence of asbestos in your home, and before any renovation projects, the trained and fully-certified asbestos experts at Greenstream Environmental can handle your asbestos remediation and removal needs. Call us for a quote today – Toronto’s asbestos removal specialists – at (416) 818-9414.

Featured in Mike Holmes’ magazine, HGTV’s Income Properties, W Network’s Love It Or List It and chosen by Homestars.com as “Best Toronto Asbestos Removal Company” based on customer ratings and reviews, GreenStream Environmental Services are fully-certified, trusted and insured professionals in the removal and disposal of commercial, industrial, institutional and residential asbestos, vermiculite, mould (hazardous and non-hazardous). Providing emergency service 24/7/365 for all of Toronto and the GTA, GreenStream has over 40 combined years of experience serving clients such as the City of Toronto, the Toronto District School Board and many more. For a free estimate in Toronto, the GTA and Southern Ontario, call today at 416-818-9414.

Asbestos lobby group hires same PR agency used by tobacco companies

It appears Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the Conservative government have a new ally in their quest to keep exporting carcinogenic asbestos to unsuspecting countries around the world.

The International Chrysotile Association, closely associated with Montreal’s Chrysotile Institute, is apparently worried that developing nations like Malaysia will find out the truth: that asbestos removal is imperative and that any kind of exposure to the fibres can cause terminal illnesses like mesothelioma, a cancer that attacks the protective lining around vital organs.

Worried that the rest of the world is figuring out what we Canadians already know, the asbestos lobbyists are turning to PR firm APCO Worldwide.

Does the company’s name ring a bell? APCO Worldwide is the PR agency known for defending the Phillip Morris tobacco company in the early 1990s. It set up a group called The Advancement of Sound Science Coalition and tried to dismiss the world’s worries about second-hand smoke as “junk science.”

This same “noble” company is now trying to convince developing nations like Malaysia, prime importers of asbestos from countries like Canada, that asbestos can be handled safely.

The problem is that developing nations sometimes don’t fully understand that these PR firms and their faulty “science” coalitions are financially motivated to champion carcinogens like tobacco and asbestos. They’re hired by the companies exporting the killer chemicals and fibres!

“Only lobby organizations that have a financial interest in selling asbestos claim that asbestos can be safely used, just as the lobby organizations acting on behalf of the tobacco industry have denied the clear science on tobacco harm,” said Ottawa anti-asbestos activist Kathleen Ruff in a recent letter to APCO Worldwide president Margery Kraus. Ruff is demanding that the company inform Malaysia that it was hired by the International Chrysotile Association.

If asbestos was harmless when handled safely, why is asbestos remediation happening across our country? Why do miners who “safely handled” chrysotile contract lung cancer?

It was shameful for PR agencies to defend tobacco companies and supporting asbestos lobby groups – to manipulate a government that doesn’t have all the facts – is just a shameful.

Featured in Mike Holmes’ magazine, HGTV’s Income Properties, W Network’s Love It Or List It and chosen by Homestars.com as “Best Toronto Asbestos Removal Company” based on customer ratings and reviews, GreenStream Environmental Services are fully-certified, trusted and insured professionals in the removal and disposal of commercial, industrial, institutional and residential asbestos, vermiculite, mould (hazardous and non-hazardous). Providing emergency service 24/7/365 for all of Toronto and the GTA, GreenStream has over 40 combined years of experience serving clients such as the City of Toronto, the Toronto District School Board and many more. For a free estimate in Toronto, the GTA and Southern Ontario, call today at 416-818-9414.

Asbestos victims’ relatives rally against Tory MP doctor

It has been quite the spring and summer for Canada’s asbestos exportation debate. Every time it looks like the discussion has hit a stalemate, and the Conservative government won’t budge on the issue, a new backlash rises up.

The latest: the relatives of asbestos victims are rallying against Dr. Kellie Leitch, a Conservative MP, on the grounds that she shouldn’t support the Tory party’s asbestos exportation because she clearly understands the danger of asbestos given her medical training.

On Monday, The Canadian Press obtained a letter signed by more than 40 people whose loved ones were killed by asbestos. The letter demands that Dr. Leitch give up her medical license if she wants to continue supporting the Conservatives.

“If you choose to continue to support medical misinformation and to support asbestos, we ask that you hand in your medical licence and cease being a physician, since you are in violation of the most fundamental standard required of all medical doctors: do no harm,” the letter said.

The letter also explains that asbestos victims won’t sit idly while Dr. Leitch and the Tories “aid and abet the creation of more asbestos victims amongst the poorest and most unprotected people on the planet, who don’t even have the medical assistance or pain killers to help them when they die terrible deaths from asbestos.”

Dr. Leitch, considered a star Tory candidate for the May election, recently stated that the Conservatives will continue supporting the “safe, controlled use” of asbestos. In light of the criticism she’s received, she’s also reminded the public that her area of medical expertise is bones, not lungs.

Hmm. Interesting for a doctor to claim ignorance when average Canadian citizens know how dangerous asbestos is and how prudent asbestos removal is. Dr. Leitch knows the term “mesothelioma” and that it’s a cancer caused by inhaling asbestos fibres.

The rest of Canada is fighting asbestos by removing it from schools and other buildings and undergoing asbestos remediation wherever possible. It’s time for the Tories, and any medical professionals supporting the party, to take the next step and stop exporting asbestos.

Featured in Mike Holmes’ magazine, HGTV’s Income Properties, W Network’s Love It Or List It and chosen by Homestars.com as “Best Toronto Asbestos Removal Company” based on customer ratings and reviews, GreenStream Environmental Services are fully-certified, trusted and insured professionals in the removal and disposal of commercial, industrial, institutional and residential asbestos, vermiculite, mould (hazardous and non-hazardous). Providing emergency service 24/7/365 for all of Toronto and the GTA, GreenStream has over 40 combined years of experience serving clients such as the City of Toronto, the Toronto District School Board and many more. For a free estimate in Toronto, the GTA and Southern Ontario, call today at 416-818-9414.

Serving homes and businesses in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) and across Ontario, including Ajax-Pickering, Barrie, Brampton, Durham Region, Halton, Markham, Mississauga, Newmarket, North York, Oakville, Oshawa, Richmond Hill, Scarborough, Vaughan, Woodbridge and Whitby.

Canada’s doctors rally to oppose Harper government on asbestos

A scathing feature on the Daily Show wasn’t enough. Countless political rallies weren’t enough. Full opposition from other countries at the Rotterdam Convention wasn’t enough. Even countless deaths from mesothelioma and lung cancer weren’t enough. It seems nothing has convinced the Harper government to change its viewpoint on asbestos exportation.

Could Canada’s doctors finally do it?

On Wednesday, delegates to the Canadian Medical Association’s general assembly voted 99 per cent in favour of supporting a motion opposing the government’s stance that chrysotile asbestos is not a hazardous substance.

“This is an important healthcare issue and a product that causes significant illness – even death,” said Dr. Jeff Turnbull, the CMA’s outgoing president. “Canada should not be in the business of exporting such a dangerous product.”

Asbestos removal is a booming business in Canada for a reason. The fibres are deadly! We stop at nothing to expel it from our homes, yet the government continues to support its exportation.

So what now? It appears the country’s doctors are tired of simply trumpeting their distaste for the government’s actions.

“The time for the CMA is now to go beyond calling on the federal government and begging it to take action, as it clearly has no intention of doing so,” said Dr. Barry Turchen, based in Abbotsford.

What Dr. Turchen means remains to be seen. Will our doctors rally to storm Parliament Hill and stage a protest? With 99 per cent of them opposing the Harper government, they have strength in numbers.

If our prime minister won’t even listen to people as trustworthy as doctors, what other hope do we have in the battle to eliminate this dangerous material? Asbestos remediation companies are doing their job. Doctors are speaking out to contribute their part. Now it’s Harper’s turn.

Featured in Mike Holmes’ magazine, HGTV’s Income Properties, W Network’s Love It Or List It and chosen by Homestars.com as “Best Toronto Asbestos Removal Company” based on customer ratings and reviews, GreenStream Environmental Services are fully-certified, trusted and insured professionals in the removal and disposal of commercial, industrial, institutional and residential asbestos, vermiculite, mould (hazardous and non-hazardous). Providing emergency service 24/7/365 for all of Toronto and the GTA, GreenStream has over 40 combined years of experience serving clients such as the City of Toronto, the Toronto District School Board and many more. For a free estimate in Toronto, the GTA and Southern Ontario, call today at 416-818-9414.

Tories threaten widow for using logo in asbestos attack ad

It appears the Conservative government wants to have its cake – or asbestos – and eat it, too.

The Tories are angry at widow Michaela Keyserlingk, whose husband died of asbestos-related cancer, because she is using the party’s logo in a negative ad campaign launched online against them.

The funny thing is – Keyserlingk is only stating the party’s actual position. Which is it, Conservatives? Do you support the export of asbestos or are you advocates for asbestos removal on the grounds that asbestos kills people? You publicly support the exportation, so what’s wrong with someone reminding the public of that?

Keyserlingk is angry after mesothelioma, the cancer caused by asbestos, killed her husband in 2009. As a result, she’s launched a banner ad that reads: “Canada is the only western country that still exports deadly asbestos!” with the Conservative logo appearing beside the text.

Dan Hilton, the Conservative party’s executive director, has warned Keyserlingk to stop using the logo immediately. He emailed her in July to warn her that “failure to do so may result in further action” because the ad constitutes an “Unauthorized use of trademark.”

Keyserlingk acknowledges that she’s breaking the law and says she’ll cancel the ad if a high-ranking Conservative party official meets with her to explain why it supports asbestos exportation.

Asbestos exposure directly causes cancer, weakening the cells that fight malignant growths, and Keyserlingk’s husband is just another concrete example of what asbestos does to the body. Yet, as has been made very public in recent months, the Canadian government continues to support its exportation. We know enough about its harmful nature to undergo asbestos remediation wherever possible in on our own soil – yet we still export it.

Kudos to Keyserlingk for battling the menace that killed her husband after he worked on Canadian naval ships. She said he “died a horrible, horrible death – I mean these people suffocate.”

If stories like hers aren’t enough to make our government stop exporting asbestos, what is?

Featured in Mike Holmes’ magazine, HGTV’s Income Properties, W Network’s Love It Or List It and chosen by Homestars.com as “Best Toronto Asbestos Removal Company” based on customer ratings and reviews, GreenStream Environmental Services are fully-certified, trusted and insured professionals in the removal and disposal of commercial, industrial, institutional and residential asbestos, vermiculite, mould (hazardous and non-hazardous). Providing emergency service 24/7/365 for all of Toronto and the GTA, GreenStream has over 40 combined years of experience serving clients such as the City of Toronto, the Toronto District School Board and many more. For a free estimate in Toronto, the GTA and Southern Ontario, call today at 416-818-9414.

Study: asbestos starts killing you instantly

Particularly because of all the negative media attention Canada has received recently over asbestos exportation, many of us have gained an understanding of the risks associated with the fire-retardant fibre. It causes mesothelioma, a cancer in the lining covering the body’s protective organs – most commonly the lungs.

Mesothelioma and asbestos’ carcinogenic status are well-documented; asbestos remediation is thus a bigger priority than it was in the past. What isn’t as commonly known, however, is just how quickly asbestos exposure hurts you.

Based on a recent mesothelioma study by Japanese scientists, anyone who claims it takes years to build up health problems from asbestos is sorely mistaken.

Our bodies have cells called “natural killers” or NK cells which function as natural cancer defenders. They find and destroy any pre-cancerous growths before they become a threat to our health. As the Japanese study revealed, asbestos exposure kills our natural killer cells, giving cancer cells free reign to grow and attack us.

The scariest aspect of the finding is that asbestos exposure decreases our defense against cancer cells almost immediately. Scientist discovered that even a week of exposure to the fibres lowers our NK count. A control was done with fibreglass; the fibreglass did not decrease NK counts over a week’s time.

Is there any better case to make for asbestos removal? Exposure to asbestos literally takes one week or less to make us more susceptible to cancer. Any home or business owner thinking of contracting someone to eliminate your problem should understand now that it belongs at the top of the priority list.

Featured in Mike Holmes’ magazine, HGTV’s Income Properties, W Network’s Love It Or List It and chosen by Homestars.com as “Best Toronto Asbestos Removal Company” based on customer ratings and reviews, GreenStream Environmental Services are fully-certified, trusted and insured professionals in the removal and disposal of commercial, industrial, institutional and residential asbestos, vermiculite, mould (hazardous and non-hazardous). Providing emergency service 24/7/365 for all of Toronto and the GTA, GreenStream has over 40 combined years of experience serving clients such as the City of Toronto, the Toronto District School Board and many more. For a free estimate in Toronto, the GTA and Southern Ontario, call today at 416-818-9414.

Is Canada’s last major asbestos mine about to close?

Is it possible that the nationwide debate over asbestos waged over the last few months was pointless?

The Harper government decided it would continue exporting the carcinogenic fibre to various countries around the world. And, as discussed often on the GreenStream Environmental blog, an international firestorm ensued. Canada has been ridiculed like never before.

Crazily enough, though, the debate may be moot. After the government spent so much time defending asbestos exportation, it appears that the country’s last fully operational asbestos mine is on the verge of shutting down. Yep, LAB Chrysotile of Quebec may close its doors.

The mine is immersed in a conflict with its workers’ labour union. Whether or not the union is simply posturing as part of the negotiating process, it looks like a lengthy work stoppage is on the horizon.

The question now is: if LAB Chrysotile shuts down, is it the perfect opportunity for the rest of Canada to put extra heat on the government to make the closure permanent? Doing so could erase a black mark on Harper’s government. He is willingly exporting a carcinogen even as his own home is up for major asbestos remediation (hint: asbestos is toxic!).

The irony in the LAB Chrysotile labour dispute: these miners have a legitimate reason to demand better compensation for what they do. After all, they’re handling a fibre that causes cancer and scars their lungs upon entering them. It’s a ridiculous Catch-22. The miners, who shouldn’t be exporting a poisonous fibre anywhere according to most Canadians, deserve to be treated better as long as they are in fact handling deadly asbestos. Which they shouldn’t be. It’s a brain bender!

If only Canada could become a leader in asbestos removal instead of worrying about a mine that tries to find and distribute more of it.

Featured in Mike Holmes’ magazine, HGTV’s Income Properties, W Network’s Love It Or List It and chosen by Homestars.com as “Best Toronto Asbestos Removal Company” based on customer ratings and reviews, GreenStream Environmental Services are fully-certified, trusted and insured professionals in the removal and disposal of commercial, industrial, institutional and residential asbestos, vermiculite, mould (hazardous and non-hazardous). Providing emergency service 24/7/365 for all of Toronto and the GTA, GreenStream has over 40 combined years of experience serving clients such as the City of Toronto, the Toronto District School Board and many more. For a free estimate in Toronto, the GTA and Southern Ontario, call today at 416-818-9414.

What does asbestos exposure do to you?

We’ve talked on this blog before about the importance of asbestos removal and the consequences of exposure to it, including lung cancer. But, to truly understand what Canada is doing when it exports the dangerous material to developing countries, maybe we should look closer at its effects.

People in developing countries use asbestos in building because it’s cheap, waterproof and a fire retardant. But the cons of exposure to it greatly outweigh the pros.

The most commonly discussed effects of asbestos exposure are mesothelioma, a cancer that attacks the protective lining covering the lungs and other organs; and lung cancer. But the day-to-day suffering that accompanies exposure includes many other symptoms.

The tiny fibres of asbestos are not biodegradable, so your body doesn’t break them down when you inhale them. Instead, they can irritate and scar the lungs. At first, they may just cause coughing and sneezing. But continued exposure can lead to weight loss and pneumoconiosis, a restrictive lung disease common among labourers who are routinely exposed to dust, such as miners.

The people of developing countries, some of whom aren’t properly informed on the dangers of asbestos, import the material and open themselves up to the aforementioned symptoms. Canada doesn’t warn them or encourage asbestos remediation. Five-five other countries around the world have banned the product, but the Harper government continues to export the cancer-causing agent across the world.

The example of Tamil Nadu in India comes to mind. Its government is loading up on thatched asbestos roofing for its schools to prevent fires. In doing so, it’s replacing one deadly threat with another. And exporters like Canada are contributing to the problem.

Featured in Mike Holmes’ magazine, HGTV’s Income Properties, W Network’s Love It Or List It and chosen by Homestars.com as “Best Toronto Asbestos Removal Company” based on customer ratings and reviews, GreenStream Environmental Services are fully-certified, trusted and insured professionals in the removal and disposal of commercial, industrial, institutional and residential asbestos, vermiculite, mould (hazardous and non-hazardous). Providing emergency service 24/7/365 for all of Toronto and the GTA, GreenStream has over 40 combined years of experience serving clients such as the City of Toronto, the Toronto District School Board and many more. For a free estimate in Toronto, the GTA and Southern Ontario, call today at 416-818-9414.

U.S. Congress report: all forms of asbestos still “known carcinogens”

For anyone wondering about having an asbestos remediation, the news is in: every single form of asbestos is still a “known carcinogen.” So it’s a good idea to go forward with any plans to eliminate it from your building.

The United States Department of Health and Services released its 12th Report on Carcinogens earlier this month. The document lists 54 different chemicals (including metals, pesticides, drugs, etc.) that are known and proven causes of cancer and 186 more that are suspected. Asbestos remains on the “known” list. Every one of its variations is guilty.

The naturally occurring mineral fibre is known to cause lung cancer and mesothelioma, a rare cancer that attacks the protective lining of the lungs, heart, chest and abdomen. The only known cause of mesothelioma is prolonged asbestos exposure. As many buildings haven’t undergone proper asbestos removal yet, it’s no surprise that 3,000 Americans are diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma every year.

Asbestos appeared on Congress’ 1st Report on Carcinogens in 1980. All its forms – chrysotile, anthophylite and crocoidolite – are known to increase the risk of cancer. And we’ve known for more than 30 years.

Naturally, these findings stress how important it is for any company suspecting the harmful agent to hire an asbestos remediation company to get rid of it. The document also further highlights the embarrassment facing Canada as a nation. This country’s government is willingly supporting and exporting a mineral which is a proven carcinogen. Imagine if Prime Minister Harper spoke out in support of cigarettes and claimed that the warning label on packs was unnecessary? It’s the equivalent.

Featured in Mike Holmes’ magazine, HGTV’s Income Properties, W Network’s Love It Or List It and chosen by Homestars.com as “Best Toronto Asbestos Removal Company” based on customer ratings and reviews, GreenStream Environmental Services are fully-certified, trusted and insured professionals in the removal and disposal of commercial, industrial, institutional and residential asbestos, vermiculite, mould (hazardous and non-hazardous). Providing emergency service 24/7/365 for all of Toronto and the GTA, GreenStream has over 40 combined years of experience serving clients such as the City of Toronto, the Toronto District School Board and many more. For a free estimate in Toronto, the GTA and Southern Ontario, call today at 416-818-9414.