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Quebec’s Asbestos Exports to India

Over 100 scientists from 28 countries are calling on Quebec Premier Jean Charest to ban the use and export of all forms of asbestos, on the eve of his trade mission to India.

The scientists accused Quebec of having a double standard regarding asbestos use, claiming the province’s behavior "seems to represent a high level of hypocrisy." Virtually none of the asbestos Quebec mines is used locally, yet it is promoted and exported to developing countries "where protections are few and awareness of the hazards of asbestos almost non-existent." India is the primary importer of Quebec’s deadly mineral fiber. The scientists reminded Charest, “Your government is spending millions to remove chrysotile asbestos and other forms of asbestos from Quebec’s schools, hospitals and buildings, while at the same time exporting it to developing countries and telling them it is safe."

"We are extremely disturbed that the asbestos industry in India – Quebec’s No. 1 asbestos customer, with whom the Quebec industry works closely – has recently sent letters to a number of scientists in India saying that legal action will be taken against them if they do not retract their statements and published articles concerning the threat to health posed by chrysotile asbestos," the letter says.

Signatories include assistant U.S. Surgeon General Richard A. Lemen, Devra Davis, Professor of Preventive Medicine at New York’s Mount Sinai Medical Centre, and Sue Janse van Rensburg, Executive Director of the Cancer Association of South Africa.

Canada’s $100-million-a-year asbestos industry is localized mainly in Thetford Mines, Quebec, home to the country’s last operational mine.

View the Montreal Gazette article dated January 29, 2010 here

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