Daniel Green and Chrysotile - What Happened to the Man of Science?

    MONTREAL, June 3 /CNW Telbec/ - Environmentalist and toxicologist Daniel
Green wrote an article for the Journal de Montréal, in which he virulently
lambasted asbestos in view of the storm of condemnations spewed by the New
Democratic Party (NDP) and the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC). "We are
astounded that a man of science did not call for increased caution, a widely
acknowledged concept commonly espoused by the scientific community. His input
is equivalent to intensifying the campaign of hysteria that is lumping
together amphiboles and chrysotile, two very different fibres in terms of
biopersistence. He also leaves out the risks and hazards of substitute fibre
of which we know very little. He even made up his mind before Health Canada's
committee of scientific experts filed their report on the issue. Basically, he
disregards the knowledge and expertise developed by the workers who mine
chrysotile and use it safely. For a scientist, this adds up to quite a few
oversights", declared Daniel Roy, Quebec Director for the Syndicat des
Métallos (FTQ).
    "We encourage him to consult the scientific studies presented during the
International Conference on Chrysotile held in Montreal in May 2006. We hope
he won't duplicate the NDP response, which at the invitation of the Chrysotile
Institute refused to even look at the documentation. We also encourage him to
come and meet with miners on the work site. There is not better experience for
a scientist than going into the field to understand its reality", continued
the union leader.


    According to Dr David M. Bernstein, a toxicology specialist whose
research is based on several studies conducted over the past ten years on the
respective biopersistence of chrysotile asbestos and amphibole asbestos in the
lungs, there exists some significant differences between these two fibres.
"Once inhaled, he explains, the chrysotile fibres are quickly cleared from the
lungs unlike amphiboles that are now prohibited. One toxicology study relates
an experiment in which animals were exposed for a total of 90 days to
chrysotile fibres at a rate 500 times higher than that commonly accepted of
one fibre per square centimetre. Meanwhile, other animals were exposed for
five days to amphiboles. The latter developed serious pathologies while those
exposed to chrysotile fibres enjoyed a level of health similar to animals not
exposed to either of the two fibres". "Why focus unrelentingly on a fibre we
are controlling while the overall population is regularly exposed to more than
2,800 potentially hazardous substances and 835 are known carcinogens. The
United States Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry ranks
chrysotile asbestos as being number 119 in terms of toxicity, behind lead,
beryllium, cobalt, methane and nickel. So what is the founder of the Société
pour vaincre la pollution and member of the Sierra Club of Canada waiting for
to launch other exclusion campaigns?", commented Daniel Roy.

    Tighten Safety Standards

    "We are concerned with environmental issues. In fact, in collaboration
with our international union, we established a strategic alliance with the
Sierra Club. The problem lies with companies who refuse to observe the more
stringent standards. Quebec adopted the highest standards on the planet and
has taken it upon itself to educate and instruct the world about implementing
these standards. If mining and using chrysotile asbestos is taken away from
Quebec, other countries will be more than willing to take over. Will these
countries have the same concerns and follow the product throughout the world
to ensure its standards for safe use are respected?", questioned the Quebec
Director for the union.

    Substitute Fibres Still Not Well-known

    Daniel Roy concluded by speaking about substitute fibres, an issue Daniel
Green did not even raise. "We recognize, he said, just like the scientific
community, that chrysotile asbestos is part of a wide range of natural or
synthetic products presenting a danger to human health. However, we believe
that we need to learn to handle these products safely. The position supported
by the Thetford Mines miners is based on experience. Rather than take risks
with products that are relatively unknown, why not continue to use a know
product we can control. We still know very little about several fibres used to
replace chrysotile asbestos, such as artificial fibres, refractory ceramic
fibres (RCF), insulation wool fibres and rock wool fibres. These fibres are
suspected of being carcinogenic. There is no long-term epidemiology study
available to determine their level of toxicity. Only one toxicity evaluation
was performed on fibreglass, RCF and rock wool fibres, and that was in Sweden
in 1988. The test concluded that RFC increased the risks of tumours but there
was no follow-up. The lobby for substitute fibres is working hard to publicly
malign chrysotile asbestos and to promote their own little-known products
behind the scenes thus risking public health".

For further information:

For further information: Daniel Roy, Syndicat des Métallos (FTQ), (514)

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