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Press Release - With new supporting evidence, Quebec Chrysotile is entitled to fair and balanced treatment

Asbestos, October 1, 2004 - For the Chrysotile Institute, Quebec chrysotile is a victim not only of the heritage of past misuse of the different types of asbestos fibres, including amphiboles, but also of pressure from the multinationals producing replacement fibres and the Ban Asbestos movement and its allies calling for a global ban of chrysotile .  An increasing number of scientists are raising concerns about the potential harmful health effects of these industrial replacement fibres.  It is evident that the burden of proof now rests with the replacement fibres found on the marketplace.

It is to be hoped that the European Union understands that its decision to ban chrysotile is not based on scientific evidence and that it be courageous enough to admit this error.  We urge the EU to reconsider its earlier ban and review its decision, this time based on recent and pertinent studies which are available.

Buoyed by the results of the biopersistence studies on chrysotile, the Chrysotile Institute is focusing on the following areas:

  • Dissemination of the results of these studies to international bodies;
  • Demand in-depth studies of industrial replacement fibres;
  • Ask that regulations applying to chrysotile be extended to all respirable fibres;
  • Urge Canadian and Quebec authorities to seriously examine the results of these studies and, in light of the results, consolidate the implementation of the policy on chrysotile announced in the summer of 2002;
  • Encourage various consumers to increase their consumption of chrysotile by promoting various uses, such as archival paper (e.g. for passports and civil registration documents), chrysotile asphalt, hydro poles, roof tiles, etc.

The overall efforts of the Chrysotile Institute have always been aimed at prevention and on responsible use.  Whether it is working with chrysotile, managing past errors related to the use of amphiboles (banned for at least 20 years), or handling replacement products, we believe we must raise international awareness to the importance of safe and responsible use, since an outright ban resolves nothing.

For Clément Godbout, President of the Institute, it is essential to continue responsible management of past problems (sprayed-on insulation, amphibole fibres) and to ensure protection of the physical health of all workers.  This is especially true for the construction industry, where specific problems exist.  He would like to see the implementation of new measures, such as the setting up of a certification system for asbestos removal contractors, who must work with all types of asbestos and/or other fibres found while renovating, repairing or demolishing old buildings.

The President of the Institute salutes the decision taken by numerous chrysotile producing and consuming countries, including Canada, not to include chrysotile in the PIC (Prior Informed Consent) procedure of the Rotterdam Convention.  It is important to mention here the countries which stated their vigorous opposition:  Russia; Ukraine; Kazakhstan; Kurdistan; Indonesia, Zimbabwe, Colombia, Mexico, Iran, Ghana, India, China and Canada.  Furthermore, by abstaining to vote, major countries such as the United States and Brazil demonstrated their refusal to support the proposition put forward by Europe and Chile.  It is extraordinary to note that in much of the media, anti-chrysotile propaganda accuses only Canada as being "responsible" for this decision.  "It is only right that the truth come out and I am taking advantage of this occasion to set the record straight," added Mr. Godbout. 

"In closing, on behalf of the Board of Directors of the Chrysotile Institute, composed of representatives of industry, and trade unions and the two levels of government, I would like to thank the both Canadian Quebec governments for their support given to the Institute for many years, and,  in particular today, the Minister of Resources naturelles, de la Faune et des Parc, Mr. Sam Hamad, for the Quebec government's contribution, over the next three years, to the activities of the Chrysotile Institute.  This is a clear demonstration of the will of the Quebec government to continue promoting the policy of the safe and responsible use of chrysotile, here and abroad, as well as supporting the industry and the populations of Asbestos and Thetfords Mines regions."

The Chrysotile Institute is a private organization created in 1984 by industry, unions and the governments of Canada and Quebec. Its role is to promote the adoption and implementation of regulations, standards, work methods and techniques for the safe and responsible use of chrysotile in Canada and throughout the world.

For further information: Clement Godbout, spokesperson - Tel.: (514) 877-9797