Asbestos: Still Legal and Lethal in North America (and Spreading)

February 13, 2012 — The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) News Network’s “Fatal Deception” documents the concealment of the Canadian asbestos industry’s knowledge of the dangers of asbestos and the involvement of prestigious McGill University. The video highlights how Ivan Sabourin–President of Canada’s Conservative Party and lead attorney for the asbestos consortium–hid diseased lungs of deceased asbestos workers in the 1950s and the sponsorship by the asbestos industry of scientific studies to downplay the dangerous effects of asbestos mining and use. The asbestos industry actively suppressed and altered research beginning with the hiring of the Saranac Laboratory in upstate New York. According to “Fatal Deception,” this altering of research continues today with the sponsorship of McGill University scientists. Corporate documents from the 1920s indicated the asbestos industry wanted to take out a “mortgage on McGill” to ensure research outcomes were favorable to the asbestos industry. The video also draws parallels between the tobacco industry’s tactics and asbestos industry tactics to defraud consumers, including the sponsorship of the same scientists by both the asbestos and tobacco industries. The asbestos industry wanted to conduct research similar to the tobacco industry because “industry is always well advised to look after its own problems.”

Despite the proof of asbestos as a human carcinogen, the Canadian government is considering reopening the Jeffrey Mine in Quebec due to economic circumstances. “Fatal Deception” features Dr. Bruce Case, a McGill scientist involved in a recently released study on asbestos safety, refusing to release details of the study, which suggests the chrysotile fibers mined in Quebec do not cause mesothelioma and helps the Canadian government with its plan to allow the sale of asbestos to developing countries. Dr. Case has also testified on behalf of asbestos industry defendants. “Fatal Deception” demonstrates the terrible effects of working with asbestos through a family with at least three mesothelioma diagnoses. This is juxtaposed with the potentially disastrous effects of sending the “miracle fiber” to developing countries where workers have neither access to, nor knowledge of, proper safety conditions, just like the 1950s when Ivan Sabourin hid the effects from asbestos workers’ families and the public. To watch the whole report, click here.