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Canada moves forward in pledge to ban asbestos

Last year, Canadian legislators promised to ban asbestos by 2018. While it appears the 2018 deadline may not be met, they have begun to follow through on that promise.

Two Canadian federal agencies are proposing to ban the use, sale, import and export of asbestos. Canada was one of the leading exporters of asbestos until as late as 2011. Now, it seeks to join the ever-expanding list of countries that are seeking to eliminate the dangerous mineral fiber from products and manufacturing processes.

Currently, the regulations are up for public discussion. It is expected that the ban will go into effect in 2019.

Some industries are still using asbestos

Many people are surprised to learn that asbestos is in many products in both Canada and the U.S. For example, the ban will force automakers in Canada to switch to asbestos-free ceramic brake pads. Canada has been importing over 330,000 brake pads containing asbestos annually, according to data compiled by the Canadian government.

Not all workers may be aware that auto parts contain asbestos, meaning workers could be unwittingly exposed to the dangerous carcinogen. That is just one of the reasons the Canadian government is seeking to enforce the ban in early 2019.

Asbestos remains a danger in many countries, including Canada

While the regulations will help protect workers and the population, asbestos exposure remains a danger.

For example, the new regulations do not address products that are often contaminated with asbestos, such as talc. In addition, Canada was one of many countries that used asbestos widely in the 20th century. Construction workers - and their employers - will still have to work diligently to remove asbestos in renovations and demolitions. That is why some advocates in Canada are calling for a national registry of buildings containing asbestos.

While asbestos exposure will remain a problem for the foreseeable future, the Canadian government has taken the right step in limiting exposure for consumers and workers.

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