Canada lowers airborne chrysotile asbestos exposure limit

13 Jul 2017 by Sarah Mahan under News

Flag of Canada.svg 1 100x100 Canada lowers airborne chrysotile asbestos exposure limitIn a December 2016 press release, the Canadian government announced its plans to oust asbestos from the country by 2018 in a “whole-of-government approach.” As part of its efforts to meet the quickly approaching deadline, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour Patty Hajdu announced Tuesday the enhancement of the Canada Labour Code by lowering the exposure limit of airborne chrysotile asbestos to “as close to zero as possible,” according to a press release.

The changes took place the same day it was announced. “They will significantly lower the risk of workers coming into contact with asbestos in the workplace, while ensuring consistency with most provincial and territorial regulations for airborne asbestos fiber,” the release states. “They will also align the asbestos exposure standards with the highest, safest standard in Canada and internationally.”

Any amount of asbestos in the air is considered dangerous and though the likelihood increases with repeated interaction with asbestos, only one exposure could cause an asbestos-related disease, such as asbestosis, a breathing disorder caused by lung tissue scarring; lung cancer, and mesothelioma, a cancer that affects the lining of the internal organs. While mesothelioma is rare, it is deadly usually within two years of diagnosis even if the initial exposure to asbestos happened decades earlier due to the disease’s long latency period.

Tuesday’s announcement is just part of the government’s overall strategy to reduce the incidence of asbestos-related diseases. The broader Government of Canada strategy to ban asbestos and asbestos-containing products by 2018 includes new regulations under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, updates to national building codes to prohibit the use of asbestos in new construction and renovation projects across Canada and support for listing chrysotile asbestos to the Rotterdam Convention as a hazardous material.

“Every employee has the right to a safe workplace. I’m proud to be announcing these long overdue regulatory changes on asbestos, a key element of our government’s comprehensive ban on asbestos,” Hajdu said.

 

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