Buyer beware: Asbestos being put back on the market

When a company chooses profits over safety, the public is ultimately the tragic victim. Unsafe or dangerous products that put people at risk of developing a deadly disease should be pulled from the market immediately. However, in a strange and dangerous move, the Quebec government has decided to allow one town to continue shipping asbestos.

What is truly shocking is that countries and governments around the world have taken huge steps to prevent the unsafe handling or manufacturing of asbestos. In the United States, companies have a responsibility to warn of the presence of asbestos or have it removed properly. Not all organizations take this duty seriously, however.

In the case of Quebec, reports suggest that by allowing the asbestos shipments to resume, just over 400 jobs will be restored in one town called Asbestos. However, the creation of the jobs comes at a serious and tragic cost. The asbestos will be shipped to developing countries who can’t afford, or don’t have access to, safer construction materials.

Adding insult to injury is the fact that governments across the world understand the dangers associated with asbestos exposure. Over 50 countries ban the substance. So, Quebec has targeted those countries that have not banned asbestos, namely India and China, and will be shipping the materials to them.

In one Canadian documentary, images of bare-handed Indian workers using nothing more than a bandana to cover their mouths while working with asbestos illustrate the tragic unawareness many countries still have relating to asbestos. As a sharp contrast, the documentary then shows images of Canadians tasked with handling asbestos. They are covered head-to-toe in protective clothing and even have separate air supplies.

The fact is that many people are aware of the dangers of asbestos. Instead of finding alternative substances, many find loopholes instead.

It is unknown if other towns or countries will take similar actions in permitting the re-release of asbestos products back into the market. As it stands, people across the world continue to suffer from exposure to asbestos as long as 50 years ago. Instead of shipping it to other places so that other people can get sick, people should be focused on using safer products in place of asbestos.

Source: The Gazette, “Asbestos gets a new lease on death,” Colin Kenny, July 6, 2012