In a recent blog we addressed efforts on the part of mining interests,
with support from the Canadian government, to re-open the world’s
largest asbestos mine in the city of
Asbestos, Quebec. Although the sale of asbestos is prohibited in Canada, the consortium
plans to sell the deadly fiber to India and other developing countries.
This story also caught the attention of Comedy Central Network’s “
Daily Show”, hosted by Jon Stewart. In this segment which aired on May 12,
correspondent Asif Mandvi visits the town of Asbestos and interviews mine
and city officials who ridiculously adhere to the position that the chrysotile
fiber removed from the mine is “relatively” safe despite the
weight of scientific evidence to the contrary.
Mandvi manages to maintain his comedic shtick during an interview with
mine owner Bernard Coulumbe up to the point where Mr. Coulumbe states
that it’s ok to sell asbestos to India because “they are used
to pollution.” At which point Mandvi, who is Indian, breaks character
and exclaims: “that’s really f***ed up…selling them
things that are going to kill them…that’s my family over
The callous statements from the Canadian mine and city officials interviewed
by Mandvi remind us of a 1998 exchange between
Roger Worthington and University of Quebec Occupational Hygienist, Dr. Bruce Case. The exchange
was precipitated by an article
The Serpent in the Rock”
authored by Mr. Worthington about a woman named Marilyn Bertrand who was
diagnosed with mesothelioma at the age of 42. Marilyn recalled sleeping
with a “furry” asbestos rock that she would snuggle with in
her bed at night as a child. The asbestos rock was given to her by her
brother who worked at a Quebec asbestos mine.
In response to the article, Dr. Chase felt compelled to send Mr. Worthington
a letter defending the Quebec asbestos mines from what he termed “false
allegations” concerning the link between mesothelioma and the chrysotile
fiber mined from the Quebec asbestos mines. Dr. Chase went so far as to
warn Mr. Worthington: “I strongly suggest, for your own protection,
that you remove this page from your site.” Click here to see the
full dialogue, which includes Mr. Worthington’s recounting of the
history of U.S. and Canadian asbestos companies’ efforts to cover
up and suppress medical data on the health
dangers of asbestos.
We applaud Assif Mandvi and the Daily Show for bringing public attention
to the latest chapter in the Canadian asbestos industry’s deadly charade.