January 12th 2011

Canadian asbestos: Lancet article and Collegium Ramazzini actions

A December 9th Lancet article entitled "Canada accused of hypocrisy over asbestos exports" reports the latest developments in the battle to ban Canadian export of asbestos. Download pdf Lancet December 11, 2010 pp 1973-1974. Recent Collegium Ramazzini efforts to support the ban of asbestos Canada include a December 21st letter from Secretary General Morando Soffritti to Jean Charest, Premier National Academy Quebec, opposing the financing of an anonymous consortium of foreign investors to open the Jeffrey mine and export 5 million tons of asbestos to Asia over the next quarter century [see text below].

December 21st, 2010

The Onorable Dr. JEAN CHAREST
National Academy

Dear Premier Charest,

I am writing you today in my capacity of Secretary General of the Collegium Ramazzini, an independent, international scientific society dedicated to the prevention of occupational and environmental diseases around the world. Our membership is comprised of 180 members from 34 countries, including leading scientists distinguished by their focus in environmental health. For over 25 years Fellows of the Collegium Ramazzini have convened annually in Carpi, Italy, birthplace of Bernardino Ramazzini, to discuss and make recommendations on the most pressing issues in environmental and occupational health.

We have been informed that in the next few weeks the Quebec government intends to allocate $58 million in financing to an anonymous consortium of foreign investors to open the Jeffrey mine to export 5 million tons of asbestos to Asia over the next quarter century.

On behalf of our membership and of our President, Dr. Philip Landrigan, Chairman of the Department of Preventive Medicine at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York, USA, I urgently implore you to take action to halt this project and prevent the unnecessary increase of asbestos diseases in future generations in Asia.

Asbestos is a public health disaster in every country in the world. It is a proven cause of asbestosis, a fibrotic form of lung disease. Asbestos is also a proven human carcinogen. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), the cancer agency of the World Health Organization (WHO), has formally declared that all forms of asbestos, without exception, cause cancer, specifically lung cancer, cancer of the larynx, malignant mesothelioma and cancer of the ovaries. The WHO has stated that all forms of asbestos are probable causes of gastrointestinal cancer.

The forces that advocate for the continuing use of asbestos are formidable and well-organized. Lies are their weapon. Manufacture of doubt is their strategy. They are deterred by neither scientific fact nor the rulings of the World Health Organization.

The Collegium Ramazzini has called repeatedly, in 1993, 1999 and 2004, for all countries to ban asbestos. Virtually all of the independent organizations of the world concerned with the health and welfare of workers and the general public, such as the International Social Security Association (ISSA) have likewise called for a ban on asbestos use. A copy of our most recent call for a ban of asbestos is attached.

To date, 50 countries have banned all forms of asbestos, most recently Japan, South Africa and South Korea. Malaysia is expected to announce a ban within months.

We are confident that you will listen to our call and take action to prevent Quebec from contributing to such a grave public health danger.

Dr. Morando Soffritti
Secretary General
Collegium Ramazzini



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