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  • Writer's pictureKirk Hartley

The Ongoing Media Battles Over Canadian Asbestos Fiber Sales

Today, media spin is everywhere as industries, governments, and NGO’s go back and forth on regulatory issues in a wide range of contexts. When one thinks back on the media ploys and activities of the tobacco industry, there are obvious history lessons to be learned and applied. When it comes to regulatory issues involving science, it is difficult to take comfort from regulations built around bullet points.

In the world of toxic torts, the media battles and stories continue. One example arises from Canada’s continuing mining and sale of chrysotile asbestos fibers. The Montreal Gazette includes a May 15 article by Michelle LaLond that focuses once again on the Chrysotile Institute’s effort to draw media and political lines between types of asbestos fibers.

The Institute maintains that use of chrysotile is "safe" in "controlled environments." The Institute, however, does not explain how "controlled environments" are achieved for asbestos-containing materials installed in buildings or slums in developing nations that lack a working regulatory system. The Institute also has not provided a comprehensive look at the amount of tremolite fibers found in chrysotile mined today or to be mined tomorrow. Tremolite "contamination" matters because tremolite is an amphibole asbestos fiber, and the amphibole fibers are far more "toxic" than are other fibers.

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