Asbestos Safety Ad featuring the World Trade Center
The World Trade Center which was being built in 1971 had construction plans changed when New York City banned the use of asbestos in buildings. At that point construction of the World Trade Center was near the 64th floor of the twin towers. Thirty years before the September 11 attack it was prophetically suggested by the inventor of the wet asbestos fireproofing spray, that if there ever was a fire above the 64th floor the buildings could collapse. On February 13, 1975 there was a fire on the 11th floor of the World Trade Center North Tower which was put out within a few hours. The Asbestos industry took credit for the outcome in the advertisement shown above about the benefits of asbestos in buildings. When many years later the twin towers of the World Trade Center came down, after terrorist hijackers crashed planes into the upper floors on September 11, 2001, Lower Manhattan was filled with toxic dust and many people had major asbestos exposure.
Dust from World Trade Center Collapse on September 11
September 11 rescuers, survivors and occupants of the area have suffered from asbestos exposure and illnesses from inhaling the asbestos and other toxins in the air. In addition to the fine asbestos powder which landed on September 11 the Boston Globe reported on September 14, 2001 that one test sample taken of the air in the vicinity of ground zero contained 4% asbestos which is four times the legal limit of 1% at which point it is considered unsafe. Cranes and bulldozers working in the area for clean up, continuously disturbed the asbestos dust for months. Many people will in time develop Asbestosis or worse, Mesothelioma, a deadly cancer, which can only be caused by asbestos exposure.
Most large buildings up until the late 1970s were constructed with asbestos for safety reasons. The World Trade Center was opened April 4, 1973 and was filled with asbestos. That is how buildings were built. Not anymore. There is no asbestos in buildings built today but people continue to live, work and attend school in asbestos filled older buildings every day. Asbestos exposure is still an everyday occurrence in Canada and the USA. The greatest danger from asbestos exposure comes when it is disturbed and released in the air to be breathed in by people in the vicinity. There are many lessons to be learned from the construction and the September 11, 2001 destruction of the World Trade Center.
Six minerals are defined as “asbestos” in two different classes. In Canada only the serpentine class has been mined. The serpentine class includes only the fibrous mineral chrysotile. It is more flexible and has a wider range of uses because of that quality. Chrysotile is white. It is argued by the Canadian industry and its supporters that chrysotile or “white asbestos” is less dangerous than the minerals in the other class of asbestos known as the amphibole class. With chrysotile many of the uses tend to result in the asbestos fibers being on the inside of building materials where there is less direct exposure to the fibers for possible inhalation. The danger is less in some situations but it is not accurate to simply say chrysotile is less deadly.
The amphibole class is made up of crystal forms and includes the minerals amosite, crocidolite, tremolite, anthophyllite and actinolite. The amphibole forms are usually blue or brown. There is an important distinction to be made between serpentine and amphibole asbestos due to differences in their chemical composition. Blue asbestos is sprayed on with many uses and as such blue asbestos in such use more brittle and more likely to break off into the air for inhalation. Brown asbestos tends to be used for fireproofing boards and wall and with such use tends to be painted over or covered which reduces the danger. It is often said that blue asbestos is the most dangerous and blue asbestos is no longer mined. Asbestos in all forms of asbestos (including chrysotile asbestos) are known to be human carcinogens.
The chart above shows that in 2010 the bulk of Canada’s asbestos exports were to less developed countries. More than half goes to India. Asbestos use is banned completely in most developed countries where there is education about the dangers of asbestos. Developed countries have the ability to ensure that asbestos is handled with reasonable safety but even then it is far from safe. Where Canada’s asbestos is sent there is almost no knowledge, education or ability to ensure that asbestos is handled with any safeguards at all on arrival. Canadian asbestos is in the white fibrous form Chrysotile and the false argument is made that it is safe while the dangerous asbestos is blue asbestos that does not come from Canada. Is Canada exporting death to the poor people of the world? Do we have a moral responsibility? How do you feel about this? Your comments here are invited but also let the Governments of Canada and Quebec know how you feel.
Open Pit Mining with no thought of safety or protection
Here we will provide information about the miners and the danger they faced in Canada for over a century in the open pit asbestos mines. The modern asbestos mining methods are far more protective to the miners with education and high safety standards. Canadian asbestos is the white fibrous variety known as Chrysotile. Miners and others have been incorrectly told that white asbestos is safe and that only blue asbestos is dangerous. Modern asbestos mining in Canada is done with extreme safeguards.
The inhalation of asbestos fibers can cause serious diseases and death…
1890s Canadian workers separate asbestos from rock
It is no longer common to have Canadian workers handle asbestos directly without safeguards. In the photo shown above these women long ago were working with asbestos from the Johnson Mine in Thetford, Quebec to separate the asbestos fibers from the rock manually. There were no standards or safeguards at all.
Canadian asbestos exported to India and other developing countries is now regularly handled without education or standards. There are few safeguards by workers there.
In modern India workers continue to handle asbestos
Woman in Bangladesh shipyards filtering asbestos
Child in India is present where asbestos pipe is cut by unprotected workers
Our new Canadian Asbestos Facts website is part of a major campaign to to educate Canadians to know more and to get angry about asbestos and to get involved in efforts to ban asbestos exports and use. We readily admit we are biased against asbestos. We are working to inform Canadians about the harm caused by asbestos and what people can do to protect their health and increase public safety standards. We will provide information to assist persons who suffer from Mesothelioma and their families. This includes education about healthcare and financial compensation. There are many good organizations and individuals working hard in the war against asbestos. We have links from our site to some of the other asbestos related websites. We want to link it all together on the web and work together to make the asbestos and mesothelioma resources available to all. Please send us with our contact form any suggested internet links to add, and if you have a website please add a link to ours.
The asbestos industry in Canada has been supported by an organization called The Chrysotile Institute based in Montreal for many years. It was founded in 1984 (a perfect year for such an Orwellian organization to begin) and was originally called the Asbestos Institute. It was most recently funded by the Quebec Government. The Institute closed at the end of April 2012 with no public explanation given. The office in Montreal was quietly vacated April 5th with no forwarding address or phone number. On April 28th notice was posted in the Canada Gazette of intention to surrender its federal corporate charter. It no longer exists. The institute had been the leading source of asbestos disinformation around the world. It suggests that Chrysotile, the white form of asbestos mined in Canada, is safer than blue or other types of asbestos and it is okay to use with modest safety precautions. An example of their message that asbestos is good and minimizing the danger of it, is the following quote:
“Scientific and medical research has revealed that excessive exposure to inhaled asbestos dust can be dangerous to health. It should be noted, however, that the risks are generally related to exposure during handling of asbestos fibres in work environment.”
This quote and other false and dangerous information can still be found at www.chrysotile.com the website for the institute. Although the institute has abruptly ceased operations and closed, the website can be found online but hopefully it too will disappear. The misinformation campaign of the asbestos industry continues without it. Help us spread the truth and save lives in Canada and around the world.