As you know, the United States and Canada, along with other developed economies, have experienced a terrible epidemic of asbestos disease. Currently, over 10,000 Americans and 1,000 Canadians die annually from asbestos-caused diseases such as, asbestosis, cancer, and mesothelioma (a rare cancer of the lung lining).
On Thursday, December 8, 2011, American and Canadian asbestos victims and families (see media release at http://www.asbestosdiseaseawareness.org/archives/8493), exposed occupationally or environmentally, have come together by issuing a North American Declaration. The Declaration calls for Prime Minister Stephen Harper for Canada, and President Barack Obama for the United States to end the support for asbestos mining, use and exports and for the development of safe alternatives.
A decision from the Quebec government is expected soon on a loan guarantee which would allow investor Baljit Chadha and his partners to reopen the Jeffrey asbestos mine and export asbestos developing countries in Asia.
On November 24, 2011, it was announced that mining of asbestos in Quebec was suspended temporarily. With broad support for the Declaration, we hope that asbestos mining, its use in consumer products and exports of asbestos will be stopped permanently in Canada.
We are encouraging asbestos victims, family members, concerned individuals, unions, organizations and institutes to step forward and express your support, by endorsing the North American Declaration. It’s vital to do this as soon as you can, so that we can maximize influence on the Quebec and federal government’s decision making.
Press Release by the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO) and the Canadian Voices of Asbestos Victims (EN & FR): http://www.asbestosdiseaseawareness.org/archives/8493
North American Declaration (EN & FR): http://www.asbestosdiseaseawareness.org/archives/8523
WHEN YOU OR YOUR ORGANIZATION ENDORSE THE NORTH AMERICAN DECLARATION, PLEASE ALSO CONSIDER SENDING A LETTER TO:
1) Prime Minister STEPHEN Harper (Stephen.Harper@parl.gc.ca); and
2) Premier Jean Charest of Quebec (http://www.premier-ministre.gouv.qc.ca/premier-ministre/joindre-pm/courriel-en.asp).
Please send a copy of your letters to your Member of Parliament and to the Canadian Voices of Asbestos Victims (e-mail address needed).
All organizations and individuals who have endorsed the Declaration will be listed when it is formally delivered to Prime Minister Harper and President Obama in February 2012.
For more information, please contact:
Alec Farquhar, Occupational Health Clinics for Ontario Workers (tel.: 416-510-8713; email: AFarquhar@ohcow.on.ca)
Stacy Cattran, Canadian Voices of Asbestos Victims (email: firstname.lastname@example.org)
Fe de Leon. Canadian Environmental Law Association (Tel.: 416-960-2284 ext 223; email: email@example.com)
Sarah Miller, Canadian Environmental Law Association (Tel.: 416-960-2284 ext 213; email: firstname.lastname@example.org)
North American Declaration
Press Release: http://www.asbestosdiseaseawareness.org/archives/8493
North American Declaration for the elimination of asbestos - related diseases
Whereas asbestos is a known human carcinogen and has been classified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer as a Group 1 human carcinogen;
Whereas asbestos is deemed toxic under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act and the US Toxic Substances Control Act;
Whereas inhalation of airborne asbestos fibers of all types can cause cancer such as mesothelioma, asbestosis, and other health problems;
Whereas no safe minimum level of exposure has been identified for any type of asbestos;
Whereas asbestos-related diseases can take 10 to 50 years to present themselves;
Whereas the usual expected survival time for those diagnosed with mesothelioma is between 6 and 24 months;
Whereas the World Health Organization estimates that 125 million people in the world are exposed to asbestos at the workplace and
107,000 workers die annually from asbestos exposure;
Whereas these deaths involve enormous human suffering, especially in the case of mesothelioma, made worse because little is known about late stage treatment of these diseases;
Whereas many victims suffering from asbestos related diseases have never received compensation and millions are spent on compensation claims for others;
Whereas workers’ family and community members are also at risk of disease from asbestos fibers brought into their homes or otherwise released into the environment;
Whereas asbestos remains a serious hazard in North America where it was used extensively for insulation and as a fire retardant in the construction of many office buildings and public facilities such as schools and hospitals built up until the 1990s;
Whereas an estimated 35 million American homes and businesses are insulated with asbestos-tainted vermiculite;
Whereas the United States and Canada have not prohibited the use of asbestos in the production of domestic products;
Whereas Canada continues to allow the production and export of asbestos;
Whereasin 2010 the United States imported 90% of its chrysotile asbestos from Canada;
Whereas in 2010 Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Brazil, and Canada were the biggest asbestos producers and exporters in the world;
Whereas the majority of asbestos is exported to developing countries, which may not have the legislative or policy framework in place to practice safe use, handling and disposal of asbestos;
Acknowledging thatfive of the six known forms of asbestos with the exception of chrysotile asbestos are listed in Annex III of the Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade;
Acknowledging that the Rotterdam Convention provides mechanisms for Parties to exchange information on toxic substances and seek prior informed consent from importing states before exports of toxic substances are permitted;
Whereas in 2011, there was still a lack of agreement by a handful of countries, including Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Viet Nam and Canada, to add chrysotile asbestos to Annex III of the Rotterdam Convention and whereas this failure will deprive workers and consumers in importing states, particularly for developing countries of information on health and safety protections and on proper handling for others who use products containing asbestos; and
Whereas the Province of Quebec in Canada has imminent plans to reopen and expand their asbestos mining operations.
Therefore be it urgently resolved, that Prime Minister Stephen Harper for Canada and President Barack Obama for the United States, immediately endorse a plan of action for North America for the elimination and prevention of asbestos-related diseases by:
• stopping the North American production and use of all types of asbestos;
• ending the North American export of asbestos to the developing world;
• replacing asbestos use with safe substitutes;
• developing economic and technological mechanisms to stimulate the swift replacement of asbestos and its use in products throughout North America and the developing world;
• supporting asbestos producing communities and workers in just transition to sustainable alternative industries;
• taking measures to prevent exposure to asbestos still in place and during asbestos removal and disposal;
• supporting and improving early diagnosis, treatment, social and medical rehabilitation of asbestos victims;
• establishing North American registries of exposure locations and of people with past and/or current exposures to asbestos; and
• calling upon United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the UN to promote a global declaration embracing these same goals.
To arrange for an interview, please contact:
Fe de Leon, 416-960-2284 ext. 223
Support the petition as an organization or an individual by visiting: http://bit.ly/vgtBeX (individuals) and http://bit.ly/u13Igz (organizations)
About the Canadian Environmental Law Association: CELA is a non-profit, public interest organization established in 1970 to use existing laws to protect the environment and to advocate environmental law reforms. It is also a free legal advisory clinic for the public, and will act at hearings and in courts on behalf of citizens or citizens’ groups who are otherwise unable to afford legal assistance. CELA is funded by Legal Aid Ontario.
Fe de Leon,
Canadian Environmental Law Association,
130 Spadina Ave., Ste. 301,
Toronto, ON M5V 2L4
Tel.: 416-960-2284 ext. 223,
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