Society marks National Day of Mourning with renewed call for total asbestos ban
28 April 2016
Every year on April 28, Canada’s National Day of Mourning, Canadians remember the thousands of workers who have been killed or injured, or suffered illness as a result of work-related incidents. At the Canadian Cancer Society we turn our thoughts especially to those who have been affected by asbestos in the workplace.
Asbestos is the leading cause of workplace death in Canada, and the Society has called on the federal government to adopt a nationwide ban on all asbestos products to protect Canadians from asbestos-related cancers.
“All forms of asbestos cause cancer,” says Gabriel Miller, director of policy and public issues at the Canadian Cancer Society. “There’s no known safe level of exposure to asbestos, so why are Canadians, particularly those who work in industries like construction and automotive repair, still being exposed?”
Canada continues to use asbestos and asbestos products in brake pads and panels, tiles and pipes used in construction. Although the overall use of asbestos has decreased in recent decades, it can still be found in many older buildings.
“The use of asbestos in Canada has left a terrible legacy. Moving forward and banning asbestos will start to prevent cancers in the future," says Dr Paul Demers, director of the Occupational Cancer Research Centre Steering Committee
Asbestos is the leading cause of mesothelioma, and it also causes lung, laryngeal and ovarian cancers. Since 2012 the Canadian Cancer Society has been funding the Burden of Occupational Cancer in Canada project, led by Dr Demers. Early results from this study show that each year in Canada approximately 1,900 lung cancers and 430 mesotheliomas are related to asbestos exposure at work. In addition to cancer, exposure to asbestos can cause asbestosis, a severe and debilitating condition that damages lung tissue.
“Canada needs to follow the lead of 50 other countries around the world and ban the import, export, use and manufacture of asbestos and asbestos products,” says Miller.
Unfortunately, asbestos is already built into many homes, offices and public buildings as a result of past use. Its complete removal will take many years, emphasizing the need for building registries and other policies to make homes and workplaces safer for Canadians.
Learn more about the OCRC’s Burden of Occupational Cancer in Canada project.
Learn more about the effects of asbestos in Canada
The Canadian Cancer Society is a national community-based organization of volunteers whose mission is the eradication of cancer and the enhancement of the quality of life of people living with cancer. When you want to know more about cancer, visit our website www.cancer.ca or call our toll-free, bilingual Cancer Information Service at 1 888 939-3333.