Cancer :: Canadian Cancer Society to eliminate asbestos-related diseases

The Canadian Cancer Society is calling on the federal government to adopt a comprehensive asbestos strategy, including the eventual phasing out of both the use and export of this substance.

?The Society believes that exposure to asbestos must stop so that asbestos-related diseases can be eliminated,? says Dr. Barbara Whylie, CEO, Canadian Cancer Society, in announcing a new position adopted by the National Board of Directors.

In developing its asbestos position, the Society wanted to ensure elimination of this harmful substance going forward, without forgetting either the people who have already been affected from exposure or those whose livelihood depends on asbestos.

?Ensuring there is a fair and just transition plan for communities affected by changes to the asbestos industry must be part of a comprehensive approach,? says Whylie.

Whylie adds that the Society?s next step is to join with other interested parties to develop an asbestos action plan. ?We want to see a strategy in place as soon as possible.?

The Society?s position is:

Canadians must be safe from exposure to asbestos around mines and industries, in their communities and homes, and at work.

People working with asbestos, with asbestos-containing products and in asbestos removal projects, should be made aware of the dangers. Stringent protection measures, and the safest methods to remove or replace asbestos-containing materials, should be used.

A national surveillance system to track asbestos-related diseases in Canada must be developed. This system would assess the extent of asbestos-related diseases in Canada and it would track health outcomes for those Canadians suffering with asbestos-related diseases.

A public registry of buildings that contain asbestos should be maintained. This will ensure that asbestos-specific health hazards linked with degrading structures are more quickly identified. Removal of asbestos from these structures must take place with proper training and equipment.

People and communities affected by strategies to reduce asbestos exposure should have resources to ensure ongoing financial stability. Individual Canadians, labour unions, producers, manufacturers, and all levels of government must work together to ensure that solutions meet local needs.

Countries importing asbestos from Canada must be made fully informed of the health and environmental risks.

Safer substitutes for asbestos, which have been identified, should be safely phased into use, including safeguards for workers.

Research must continue to identify safer alternative to asbestos. More research is also needed to determine how to reduce exposure in existing asbestos-containing structures.

Information about treatment options for asbestos-related diseases should be widely available. Continued research can improve the health outcomes for those people who have already been exposed to asbestos.

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