Asbestos and asbestos-related diseases are a worldwide problem. This blog largely addresses only those problems in the United States. However, this week we take a quick look at what is happening in other countries.

We are beginning to take a longer look at our neighbors in Canada. Canada enjoys a reputation in the world as being very pro-environment. Canada’s reputation is currently being fractured by its mining and export of asbestos. The Canadian government displays a startling disregard for the health of not only its own citizens, but the entire world when it comes to the dangers of asbestos.

Last week, several members of Simmons Hanly Conroy attended the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO) conference in Manhattan Beach, California. It was an incredibly educational and motivational event. The topics were diverse and fascinating. I’ll write more on it in a separate post.

Without further ado, here are this week’s news updates.

Canada’s Asbestos Embarrassment

Activists chose April 1 as the date to shed light on the impact Canadian asbestos is having on third-world countries.  Canada joined Russia and Iran in blocking chrysotile asbestos from being placed on an international list of toxic substances.

Michael Ignatieff can’t make up his mind about asbestos.  Igatieff, the leader of the Liberal Party in Canada waffles between calling for banning Canadian exports of asbestos and simply warning other countries of “risks.”

South Korea

South Korea is another country with emerging asbestos problems.  Not only is it still used in industrial applications, asbestos is showing up in consumer items.  For instance, asbestos is being found in BABY POWDER.

U.S.A.

Union officials recounted how asbestos dust “filled the air” as renovations were performed at the Smithsonian.  Contractors routinely disregarded asbestos safety procedures, according to William Durkin Jr., a representative of Steamfitters Local 602.

The ongoing story about asbestos exposures at the Smithsonian Institution resulted in testimony before a congressional panel.  Smithsonian Secretary G. Wayne Clough acknowledged “oversights” in failing to train and warn Smithsonian employees of asbestos dangers.  He testified that there are no more dangers.  Do you feel reassured?

After weeks of worry, the quarry at Ash Grove Cement Co. in Helena, Montana has been confirmed to be contaminated by tremolite asbestos.

Ash Grove, whom we lauded for paying its workers to stay home while testing was performed has, sadly, stopped paying and is now assisting in getting workers unemployment benefits.