Asbestos Awareness and Abatement
Old Controversy Yields New Challenges
By Terry Shadwick
IF YOU ARE READING THIS, THEN
you are involved in helping policyholders
and claimants get their lives and businesses back together through a vehicle
called insurance. No doubt, you have
already heard of asbestos and, regardless of your personal opinions, wish it
would just go away.
Like you, I wish it would go away too.
I grew up in small town Iowa, tearing
down all kinds of structures with my
dad, then working for State Farm and
Allstate Insurance in property claims
from 1994 to 2000, where there was
little, if any, talk about asbestos. I have
worked on or have inspected hundreds
of buildings, and have inhaled the nasty
little fiber on numerous occasions. The
presence of asbestos assuredly slows
down Blu SKY restoration projects, and
it costs all of us a lot of money handling
testing, spills, and abatement properly.
To this day, I see and hear a variety
of complaints and misconceptions surrounding asbestos and its proper testing
and handling protocols. My goal therefore is to shed some light on asbestos,
its implications, and to ultimately keep
you, your company, and mine both safe
and away from legal trouble.
It is clear that asbestos—its testing,
abatement, and employee and occupant
protection—are not going away within
our lifetimes. If anything, regulations
are only going to get stronger.
On Nov. 24, 2011, media outlets reported there was a shutdown at Quebec’s Lac d’amiante du Canada operation. This marked a historic moment for
Canada’s once-mighty asbestos sector,
which has come under increasing scrutiny as science has linked the mineral
to serious health issues, such as lung
disease and cancer known as Asbestosis and Mesothelioma.
Nevertheless, proponents of the in-
dustry insist that it is way too early write
the obituary on Canadian asbestos; they
hope to start digging again as soon as
spring 2012. The stoppage at the Lac
d’amiante du Canada operation in Thet-
ford Mines, Que., followed a production
halt at the Jeffrey Mine earlier in 2011.
Although the controversial mineral was
removed from inside Parliament build-
ings because of health concerns, Prime
Minister Stephen Harper has backed
Canada’s asbestos industry saying, “The
More Canadians now die
from asbestos than all
other industrial causes
combined, experts say.
Canadian government will not put Canadian industry in a position where it is
discriminated against in a market where
sale is permitted.” More Canadians now
die from asbestos than all other industrial causes combined, experts say.
Canadian asbestos represented 85
percent of world production in the early
1900s and the country’s annual production peaked at 1.69 million metric tons
in 1973, according to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). Canada produced
around five percent of the world supply
in 2010, and just 100,000 metric tons.
Epidemiologists calculate that there
are 1,500 asbestos-related deaths each
year in Mexico, a country that imported
$3.6 million worth of Chrysotile from Canada in 2008. In 2009, 2 million tons of
asbestos were mined worldwide: Russia
( 50 percent), China ( 14 percent), Brazil
( 12. 5 percent), and Canada ( 9 percent).
In addition, The Center for Public Integrity reported on July 21, 2010 that
deaths from asbestos-related illnesses
and mesothelioma may reach 15,000 by
2035. It’s the price China will pay for being the world’s top asbestos consumer. In
2007, China used 262,000 metric tons
of the raw fiber, which equated to more
than twice that of the next customer.
Asbestos is only banned or restricted
in 52 countries throughout the world. As
of 2012, it is still being mined all over
the world. Asbestos-containing materials
end up all over the world, too, including
the U.S. The reality is that asbestos-con-
taining materials get past U.S. inspec-
tors daily and asbestos-containing mate-
rials can even be found on the shelves
of U.S. building suppliers, according to
Jeffrey Adams with the Colorado Depart-
ment of Health and Public Education.
Though infrequent, asbestos can also be
found in newly constructed buildings.
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