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  • Writer's pictureKirk Hartley

Science, Politics, Economics and “Toxins” – Canada Apparently Will Reject Some Med

It’s fascinating to watch the dances between and among science, economics, politics and media as to "toxins." Consider all the dances going on in the the BP oil rig fiasco.

For another example, note the evolution of the asbestos mining debate in Canada. According to this June 12 article from the Montreal Gazette, the Canadian government is on the brink of moving ahead with funding to assist in maintaining and creating jobs at a chrysotile asbestos mine. The funding would cover an underground expansion of the decades-old Jeffrey Mine located in the Quebec town named Asbestos. The funding apparently will be provided despite vocal international advocacy from doctors at Mt. Sinai Medical Medical Center and elsewhere. (Mt. Sinai was the professional home for Irving Selikoff, one of the first few asbestos researchers). Here are key excerpts:

"Despite an international shaming campaign, Premier Jean Charest’s cabinet appears poised to approve a $58-million loan guarantee that would kick-start Quebec’s ailing and controversial asbestos industry.

The proposed underground expansion of the Jeffrey Mine in the town of Asbestos, on hold since 2002 because of a lack of funds, will go ahead if 350 unionized mine workers approve a five-year contract tomorrow and if Charest’s cabinet okays the loan guarantee."


On Wednesday, provincial Health Minister Yves Bolduc was accused in a letter signed by 36 prominent doctors and public health researchers from 21 countries of ignoring his duty as a medical doctor by supporting the use of asbestos. Quebec’s Medical Code of Ethics says a doctor is "not to participate in any concerted action that puts in danger the health of an individual or a population."

The main author of the letter is Philip Landrigan, president of the New York-based Collegium Ramazzini, an independent international academy of 180 renowned experts in the fields of occupational and environmental health.

"Chrysotile asbestos causes serious harm to health. There is no safe exposure level. It goes on killing for generations," writes Landrigan, dean of Global Health at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City"

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