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Canada On Track to Ban Asbestos. Is U.S. Next?

The U.S. and Canada have one of the world’s largest shared borders, with a large and diverse geography of ecosystems in common. This requires “close cooperation” among many U.S. states and Tribes, Canadian provinces, First Nations, and local and federal governments, says the EPA, so it’s not surprising that the two countries have one of the world’s “oldest and most effective environmental partnerships.”

So why is Canada on track to launch a full ban on asbestos in matter of months, while the U.S. still has a decades old partial ban that covers just a few asbestos-containing products?

Experts say the answer may lie in America’s complicated political system and its pro-asbestos lobbying groups.

According to Bainbridge, “to get anything banned in a country requires political action and every country has its own legal process to bring about a prohibition of a substance when warranted.” In less developed countries, “the banning process can be very simple and a government official can simply recognize that something is not good for their society and issue a ban.” However, many countries “have more complex political systems where it can take many years to make a substance illegal. A prime example of a more complex, and thus slower system, is the government of United States, which still hasn’t banned asbestos.”

Pro-asbestos lobbying groups often spend millions of dollars to promote the use of asbestos to leaders in developed countries such as the U.S. These groups are often backed by companies that profit from the production and use of what Bainbridge says is a “cheap” and “effective” building material. “While the immediate profits can never outweigh the cost of lives lost from asbestos-related diseases, they can blind those in power and prevent laws to prohibit asbestos.”

So will the U.S. become the next developed country to ban asbestos? Most experts agree that it probably won’t.

If you have been exposed to asbestos, see your doctor immediately. Asbestos is the only cause of a debilitating cancer known as mesothelioma. Although there is no cure for the disease, early detection could lead to better treatment options and outcomes.



EPA. United States Environmental Protection Agency, 2018. Web. 12 Mar. 2018.

Kazan-Allen, Laurie. "Current Asbestos Bans." International Ban Asbestos Secretariat. International Ban Asbestos Secretariat (IBAS), 02 Jan. 2018. Web. 12 Mar. 2018.

"Proposed Regulations Prohibiting Asbestos." Government of Canada, 6 Jan. 2018. Web. 12 Mar. 2018.

"Why Some Countries Will Not Ban Asbestos." Bainbridge Asbestos. Bainbridge Learning, UK, 07 Dec. 2016. Web. 12 Mar. 2018.