Nova Scotia·Q&A

Asbestos ban 'too little, too late' for woman whose father died from exposure

The federal government announced last week it is committing to a comprehensive asbestos ban by 2018. Charmaine Salter, who lost her own father to an illness caused by asbestos, says too many Canadians are unaware of the risks.

Charmaine Salter's father was an electrician who was in regular contact with the deadly material

The federal government has committed to banning asbestos, a known carcinogen, by 2018. (Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)

A Canadian ban on asbestos by 2018 is "too little, too late" for a Hantsport, N.S., woman whose father died in 2011 from mesothelioma, an aggressive cancer caused by exposure to the deadly material.

Charmaine Salter's father, Ron Garland, was an electrician, and over the course of his career was regularly in contact with asbestos. The carcinogen has been condemned by the World Health Organization and banned in 50 countries around the world.

The federal government announced last week it is committing to a comprehensive asbestos ban by 2018. That includes prohibiting its use in new construction, a ban on importing asbestos-containing products like brake pads and the listing of all federal buildings that contain the substance.

Salter spoke with CBC Nova Scotia's Information Morning about her thoughts on the ban.

Charmaine Salter's father, an electrician, was regularly exposed to asbestos. (CBC News)

What was your reaction to the news of the ban?

It's too little too late … It's been from the 1930s that they knew that this was a dangerous mineral to be using. But it was cheap to produce and usable for everything, it was called a miracle mineral. This miracle mineral has caused many heartaches and deaths and horrible diseases, and continues to do so.

Is there enough awareness of the risks?

It was just assumed that it was a safe material … and this is one of the reasons why I am so passionate about getting information out there. So that people do know to check with landlords, check with buildings.

It's a question you need to ask your realtor and you can also have someone come in and do a check to see if there is asbestos.

Do you think we'll continue to see the negative health effects of asbestos, despite the ban?

It's just the tip of the iceberg right now. When my father was diagnosed in 2011 the doctor called it a rare form of cancer. We had never heard of the word "mesothelioma." He was a very healthy man and very vibrant in his life. He played music, he sang, he embraced life with a passion and he enjoyed his family, and all of a sudden you get this diagnosis, and our lives were changed drastically after that.

So it's just a devastating thing; it's the number one cause of workplace deaths in Canada, and half of the workplace deaths globally.

With files from CBC's Information Morning