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The asbestos industry: cleaning up its act

The Story

"Asbestos is a patsy," Bob Hutcheson, president of Johns-Manville Canada tells CBC Television. "It has already a manufactured bad name... it's just a dandy. We are trying desperately to fight public opinion." The asbestos industry, backed by the Canadian government, spends millions on research and fighting what looks like a possible global ban on asbestos. Health Canada says chrysotile (white asbestos), the only asbestos that's now mined on a large scale, is not dangerous when handled properly. Authorities say asbestos-related diseases are caused by amphibole (blue, brown asbestos) which is banned in most countries including Canada. Health Canada and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency say that undisturbed asbestos-containing materials generally don't pose a health risk. It's only when the asbestos is disturbed and the dust is emitted in the air that it becomes dangerous.

Medium: Television
Program: Sunday Evening News
Broadcast Date: Sept. 21, 1980
Guest(s): Jerry Doucet, Bob Hutcheson, Lloyd Rockett
Host: George McLean
Reporter: Tom Kennedy
Duration: 6:11

Did You know?

• In 1982, Manville Corporation (formerly Johns Manville Corporation) filed for "re-organization and protection" under chapter 11 of the U.S. bankruptcy laws. The world's largest asbestos company was imploding under health-related lawsuits. According to a CBC Television report from that year, the corporation had settled 16,000 lawsuits at an average of $40,000 per settlement by 1982 but were expecting 32,000 more.

• Johns Manville Corporation currently manufactures building and specialty products such as fibreglass.
• Canada is the world's top exporter of white asbestos (chrysotile).
• Asbestos is widely used in construction materials, such as roofing shingles, pipe insulation, and ceiling tiles. It's also commonly found in brake linings and pads.



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