Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral. In the 1900s, asbestos was something of a miracle product. Johns Mansville used it in a variety of applications including ceiling tiles, floor tiles, pipe wrap and spray on fireproofing. Many businesses had asbestos in their buildings because it was a state-of-the-art product that fireproofed roofs and floors. It was also widely used for heat installation and a variety of other purposes. Ultimately, the United States EPA issued a ban and a phase-out rule for asbestos. During most of the 1980s, we worked with clients removing asbestos from buildings or addressing asbestos concerns during demolition. Asbestos litigation remains the most expensive mass tort litigation in U.S. history with more than 6,000 defendants and over 600,000 claimants.
For these reasons, I was surprised to read an article in the Globe and Mail this weekend about Canada’s exporting of asbestos to poorer nations around the world. While Canada won’t use asbestos or allow the use of asbestos in its own country, it represents 11% of Quebec’s exports to India. Apparently, half of India’s asbestos comes from Quebec. You may want to follow this link to see how exporting asbestos is Canada’s dirty little game:
Playing a Dirty Game Exporting Asbestos