The Canadian Asbestos Industry
The history of the asbestos industry in Canada can be traced to as far back as 1888 when an article in the Financial Times indicated that asbestos had been discovered in the country. This was in the Kumali fields. This industry did not start off immediately but later in 1891 after the reports in 1888 had been validated (Jones, 2007, p. 15). Initially the asbestos was used to make objects such as coffee pots, clothes, and even in dough to be used by children in their play. There was a craze for the mining and many investors took interest in this sector. However, all of this seemed to change when people who worked at the mine began coughing blood. From then on, the Canadian government has been busy trying to dispose any dust from the asbestos that might have been used in homes, institutions, and even in offices (CBC, 2009, para 3). It is therefore alarming that even after the coughing was linked to asbestos, the mining of the substance is still on going.
The asbestos industry in Canada was and is still run by companies that hire miners to do the mining while they secure markets for the product. Most of the asbestos was exported to countries such as Britain. This however changed when the material was found to be a health hazard. Though Canada did not seem ready to stop the mining, importers such as Britain volunteered to stop trading in the material to reduce the exposure. The Canadian government still did not place a ban on this mining even after the hazardous effects of asbestos mining were discussed.
The Canadian asbestos industry was at one time a high revenue earner for the country. One company, Johns-Manville, is said to have recorded a profit of about $ 96 million in the year 1974 (Kazan-Allen, 2003, para 12). It is such high profits that made the asbestos industry economically feasible; though this economic feasibility was over-emphasized at the cost of human safety. This is because most of these companies have been against the placement of a ban on asbestos mining. This is a case of unethical business behavior as these companies seem to place more value to profits they make than on the lives and well being of citizens in the country.
The findings that asbestos led to a disease called asbestosis triggered a dilemma in the industry. However, from an ethical point of view this was a very simple choice between good and wrong. It should be noted that various stakeholders chose to continue asbestos mining despite the risks associated (Kazan-Allen, 2003, para 2). It is however encouraging to note that de-marketing efforts for the industry have resulted in reduction of the exports of asbestos to almost 25% (CBC, 2009, para 36). This shows that this industry will soon be incapable to operate due to lack of financial feasibility; however it is still imperative that the Canadian government imposes a ban on this form of mining.
Jones, R. (2007). Asbestos, its production and use: with some account of the asbestos mines of
Canada. London: C. Lockwood and Sons.
CBC News (2009). Asbestos: The magic mineral that was once Canada’s gold. CBC News.
Retrieved from http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/story/2009/06/10/f-asbestos-safety.html
Kazan-Allen, L. (2003). Canadian Asbestos: A Global Concern. International Ban Asbestos
Secretariat. Retrieved from http://ibasecretariat.org/lka_ottawa_conf_rep_03_plus.php