In a recent report, it was found that more than seven million school-going children were being exposed to dangerous levels of asbestos, despite different forms of asbestos being outlawed in England and throughout the UK in 1985 (amosite and crocidolite) and chrysotile in 1999.
This is primarily caused by a lack of funding forcing older schools to skip desperately needed renovations, even though asbestos is incredibly easy to disturb, even by something as simple as putting a pin in a wall to hang up a drawing.
What does this mean for Canada?
Canada is still one of the major providers of asbestos, despite it being banned throughout the other countries. It primarily ships to countries like India, where its worth an estimated 2 billion dollars annually.
Before the bans were enacted, asbestos was used extensively, in construction, in electronics and even in clothes. Unfortunately, symptoms of asbestos exposure may not develop until as late as 50 years after initial exposure, meaning you could be exposed as a child and not get sick until well into adulthood.
Asbestos was recently declared the biggest work hazard in Canada, accounting for more than a third of total workplace death claims approved last year and nearly a third of all workplace deaths since 1996, with a higher number of fatalities in 2014 than from highway accidents, fires and exposure to other chemicals combined.
Asbestos on the Rise?
According to Colin Soskolne, an Edmonton-based professor emeritus at the University of Alberta: “The indications are that we can expect an increase [in asbestos-related diseases] to continue for at least another decade or so. And that’s assuming we as a nation ban it now. If we don’t do that, we can expect it to continue to rise indefinitely, but perhaps at a lower rate.”
Britain’s national regulator for workplace health and safety informs its citizens that asbestos causes about 5,000 deaths per year – unlike Canada, which does not offer comparable information on Health Canada’s site. Health Canada also told The Globe and Mail it did not plan to update its website, which was last revised in 2012.
So, are your children at risk? Unfortunately, yes. Given the terrible mismanagement of asbestos by successive governments, and the lack of oversight other countries offer, it’s impossible to estimate how many children are being exposed to asbestos by simply attending school.
We would urge our readers to contact their representatives and try to force the issue. Asbestos has destroyed people’s health for more than a century, and will continue to do so unless and until major changes are introduced.
Protect Your Children from Asbestos Exposure
Given the fact that the symptoms of asbestos exposure might not develop until well into adulthood, you should do everything you can now to ensure that your kids are not exposed to asbestos. The first thing to do is consult asbestos removal experts who will conduct asbestos testing using state of the art technology to identify presumed asbestos containing material in a home or building. If asbestos is found, the next step will be asbestos removal.