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News Canada keeps asbestos off the hazardous list

  1. Jun 25, 2011 #1


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    Seriously? Canada was the only developed country to maintain that asbestos should be kept off the hazardous list. Apparently, "Conservative cabinet ministers in Ottawa insisted the lung-cancer-causing substance can be used safely." In countries like India. Right.

    It's interesting to note that, despite the Conservatives having a majority, the comments in the article overwhelmingly condemn the government. There's maybe 1 in 50 comments that are anything close to supportive, and even those don't argue that it's not a hazardous substance. Most comments are of the kind "99.9% of the time I am proud to be a Canadian. This one of the 0.1% of the time I would like to hide my head in the sand, than admit I am Canadian.... For Shame!!!"
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  3. Jun 25, 2011 #2


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    I would argue that using the comment page of a news website to make any kind of argument about public support/outcry over a policy is a bad way to do things.

    Half of the commenters probably aren't Canadian, and the other half are probably the same person
  4. Jun 25, 2011 #3


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    I'm torn about this. Clearly, asbestos is hazardous, but so are a lot of things we use. That, on its own, doesn't imply it needs to be banned, it just means it needs to be used correctly. In the US, anyway, we've gone much too far with our treatment of asbestos, imo.

    Doing a little research on the Rotterdam convention, I find this:

    Isn't that a little pathetic? Basically, it says we think you're too backwards to be able to responsibly handle this chemical, so we're not going to let you use it. I absolutely reject such logic on moral/political grounds, yet acknowledge that as a practical matter it is true.

    Regardless, I don't really know what it means for a chemical to be listed in "annex III', so I don't know what the full implications of this are.

    I also agree that the disposition of the comments responding to the article is completely meaningless.
  5. Jun 25, 2011 #4


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    +1 on that :smile:
  6. Jun 25, 2011 #5


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    I was noting an interesting fact, not making any argument. Without a properly conducted survey of the entire country--and nobody's going to waste money conducting a nationwide survey on a issue like this--it's impossible to gauge public opinion with any accuracy.

    The reason I find it interesting is that for any issue that's even slightly controversial, a flame war usually starts immediately on the comment pages, fuelled by both genuine extremists and trolls. That's just the nature of the Internet. It's surprising to see unanimity by this article's commenters.
  7. Jun 26, 2011 #6

  8. Jun 26, 2011 #7
    Totally agree with you. The "passionate eye"(from cbc) did an hour long documentary showing Indian workers only using a scarf covering their face while working with asbestos. Canada itself doesn't have the resources to use asbestos safely.(how the government spend millions getting it out of the Parliament building.) But it assumes that the slums of India can?

    I don't agree that if it "can" be used safely then there's no problem. That is clearly a violation of common wisdom. Plus the reason India uses it because it is cheap, if it is used safety then it won't be cheap. If your money is on the line then human rights is thrown out the window?

    Plus there are people that argue with only an 70 million dollar industry, it costs more to the reputation of Canada (business wise) then it earns.
  9. Jun 27, 2011 #8
    There are benefits to using asbestos. It doesn't burn easily, is a good insulator for both heat and electricity, it's both strong and flexible. Further more, it's cheap. Using asbestos instead of other materials may save lives due to reduced instances of house fires, electrical shorts, etc.

    The drawbacks are that it causes cancer.

    In poorer countries it may actually save more lives than it costs, by replacing more dangerous/flammable traditional building materials. Because of the low cost, it can be used more widely in regions that cannot afford newer, safer materials.

    I don't know if anyone has actually done a thorough study comparing the benefits and risks to a developing nation, but such a study should probably be done before just telling people not to use it.
  10. Jun 27, 2011 #9
    Back in the late 1980's I had a job removing asbestos -- we were trained by OSHA certified instructors. The instructor put it in perspective, as he put it, if you remove asbestos, you will be exposed -- when you die, if they cremate your body, the only thing that will not burn is the asbestos in your lungs.
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