Asbestos, Quebec, Canada - Late last week, the government of Quebec provided a hotly anticipated $58 million loan to the struggling Jeffrey asbestos mine amid international outcry. The loan is expected to help the Asbestos, Quebec mine to pay for a complete overhaul of the site, provide 425 jobs and to keep it operating for the next several decades. Last year, the Jeffrey Mine halted operations because of financial instability.
Though most of the west have stopped manufacturing with asbestos because of its known and widely accepted link to cancer, many progressing countries continue to use asbestos. Simply, the toxic mineral is inexpensive and incredibly durable. From its natural versatility and fire resistance, asbestos is also mixed with other materials like concrete to improve strength.
The international community is outraged at Canada's support of the Quebec mine because only developing countries will purchase and use the carcinogen.
Supporters of Quebec's financial move cite that since the town of Asbestos relies on the mine, when work was halted, the entire community suffered. Some supports of asbestos mining go as far to say that if the material is handled correctly, there is little to no risk of exposure. Also, the type of asbestos mined at the Jeffrey Mine is chrysotile, and some supporters argue that the type is one of the safest of the asbestos family.
Exposure from any one type of asbestos leads to mesothelioma cancer, lung cancer and other life-threatening diseases. Leading international health organizations including the Word Health Organization, American Cancer Society and others all agree that asbestos is a carcinogen and highly toxic to humans if disturbed. Asbestos is only dangerous when broken up, causing small particles to become airborne.
In a shocking statement, the President of the Jeffrey Mine, Bernard Coulombe said that the data collected by the World Health Organization regarding the number of world-wide deaths from asbestos exposure is “an exaggeration based on unfounded evidence.”
Coulombe said that the asbestos mined at Jeffrey will be principally used to store and transport water and agricultural items.