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It’s Not Just India: Canada Exports Death To Mexico

The hypocrisy of Canada’s asbestos industry was spotlighted during Quebec premier Charest’s trip to India . Yet it’s not just India that suffers. Canada’s anything-goes export policy regarding asbestos even extends to our neighbor to the south, Mexico.

Mexico has imported asbestos since 1932. The proliferation of companies manufacturing asbestos products in Mexico accelerated in the 1970s due to increasing regulation in more industrialized nations. By 2001, there were 1,881 companies in Mexico importing different types of asbestos, lured by lax occupational health and safety regulations as well as by cheap Mexican labor. Today, Chrysotile asbestos is most frequently used by local industry. Most of the asbestos used in Mexico today comes from Canada and Brazil.

A 2003 article in the International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health studied asbestos-related diseases in Mexico from 1979 through 2000, noting how deaths from Mesothelioma, an asbestos-related cancer, increased as the number of asbestos-containing products in Mexico increased. During this period, there were 793 deaths from Mesothelioma with over 90% from people with no more than a primary school education. Lack of occupational health and safety professionals, deficient governmental standards, and an uninformed workforce will continue to fuel a Mesothelioma epidemic in Mexico.

A follow-up article from 2009 demonstrates “a clear relationship between industrial uses of all types of asbestos and MPM [Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma], and in Mexico the major type of asbestos is chrysotile imported from Canada,” and declares, “Based on our findings, we propose that the Mexican government must ban the use and commercialization of all forms of asbestos so as to prevent the epidemic clearly shown…and as an urgent measure to protect the life of future generations.”

We couldn’t agree more.

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