Make India Asbestos Free

Make India Asbestos Free
For Asbestos Free India

Journal of Ban Asbestos Network of India (BANI). Asbestos Free India campaign of BANI is inspired by trade union movement and right to health campaign. BANI has been working since 2000. It works with peoples movements, doctors, researchers and activists besides trade unions, human rights, environmental, consumer and public health groups. BANI demands criminal liability for companies and medico-legal remedy for victims.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Baljit Chadha exporting death

Powerful comments, denouncing asbestos profiteer, Baljit Chadha, posted by asbestos victims on Globe & Mail website

* 11:56 PM on September 26, 2011

First of all, has anyone asked themselves why the heck Baljit needs $58 million of taxpayer’s money if he is projecting sales of $3.4 billion? He doesn’t need one penny from any Canadian – which brings me to the next point. Has anyone thought about these ‘undisclosed’ investors? Seriously, I cannot imagine anyone in his or her right mind donating from Canada, which leaves possibly Russia? China? Other countries that also mine and export asbestos? Who else would do this? Do we want dirty money from other countries helping to put a Canadian stamp on asbestos and ruin this country any more than it already has been ruined?

Baljit has no idea of the passion behind these anti-asbestos warriors. Watching your loved ones fight for every breath before they die an agonizing death will fuel you for the rest of your life. There isn’t some high-powered anti-asbestos organization behind this battle – there are housewives who are now widows, children who are now parentless and men who are now widowers. What I cannot comprehend is why Baljit wants to do this to his own people? What kind of karma will that bring…

Come to Sarnia on Saturday and see some of these warriors!

* 10:12 PM on September 26, 2011

This guy is deluded if he thinks asbestos isn't harmful...he's deluded by the millions of dollars he's going to make selling a product that kills thousands of people each year. What a disgrace to Canada and to the board of Concordia University.

I hope the thousands of dollars he donates to charities eases his conscience over the millions he will make on the backs of the poor. Shameful
*10:10 PM on September 26, 2011

Anyone who has done ANY proper research on the topic knows that chrysotile causes terminal cancer just like all the other forms of asbestos. Baljit and his PR firm have done a good job trying to muddy the waters, but those of us who have watched parents suffocate to death from mesothelioma are only just getting started. We will not back down until asbestos has been banned. On Saturday, October 1st, we will walk to honour victims of asbestos in Sarnia, Ontario and rally support to end such a deceitful and murderous industry. We will not stand idly by as the likes of Baljit Chadha and his PR groupies seek to make billions off the deaths of innocent workers and their families. asbestos.

* 10:03 PM on September 26, 2011

"I have done a lot of soul-searching on this and have come to a conclusion that we are not exporting death" he says...

Meanwhile, the following organizations CONDEMN this and believe that Canada is exporting death:

The Canadian Medical Association

The Canadian Cancer Society

The Lung Association of Canada

The Quebec Medical Association

The Canadian Public Health Association

The Canadian Nurses Association

The Quebec Association for Public Health

The Association of physicians specializing in community Health of Québec

The Lung Association of Quebec

The National Specialty Society for Community Medicine

The Quebec Association for Occupational Hygiene, Health & Safety

The College of Family Physicians of Canada

The Quebec College of Family Physicians

The International Commission on Occupational Health

The International Social Security Association

The World Federation of Public Health Associations

The World Health Organization

The International Labour Organization

The Canadian Labour Congress

All of Canada’s national trade union organisations

The Building Trades Councils feel especially strongly on this issue as asbestos has killed so many construction workers

The International Trade Union Confederation, representing 175 million workers in 151 countries

Building Workers International

Public Service International


Anyone who invests in this is investing in death.

Baljit Chadha Callous Towards Death Toll from Quebec’s Asbestos Industry

‘Yes, we have the $25-million,’ Quebec firm says of asbestos plan

A year ago, over a lunch of oysters and fine wine at a posh downtown restaurant, Baljit Chadha held himself out as the potential saviour of Quebec’s faltering asbestos industry. This week, he plans to deliver. Days before a provincial government deadline this Saturday to find private funding for the Mine Jeffrey in Asbestos, Que., the wealthy and well-connected Montreal businessman says he has “letters of intent” from unnamed investors in three different countries – enough to breathe new life into an export trade critics decry for causing death.

“I have done a lot of soul-searching on this and have come to a conclusion that we are not exporting death,” said Mr. Chadha, who combines an almost evangelical fervour for asbestos with the clout needed to pull off his controversial plan.

Mr. Chadha, whose company already handled much of the mine’s asbestos sales to his native India, offered to buy the mine outright in August of 2010, for “tens of millions.” But to clinch the deal, he had to secure an additional $25-million from outside investors while the Quebec government kept the mine afloat with a $58-million loan guarantee.

“Yes we have the $25-million,” he told The Globe and Mail.

If Quebec approves his investment plan, he hopes to ramp up annual export sales from the sprawling but largely unused mine to at least $150-million within two years. He projects $3.4-billion in sales over the next two decades.

That’s a prospect that appalls health experts who note that last spring Canada stood virtually alone in blocking a proposed United Nations treaty that would have added asbestos to a list of hazardous materials restricted worldwide.

“Asbestos is causing death and it can be prevented by stopping the export of it,” said Paul Lapierre, the vice-president of public affairs for the Canadian Cancer Society

Mr. Chadha came to Canada in 1973 to study science and business. Three years later, he set up Balcorp, an international trading company that today sells more than $100-million worth of Canadian goods to India annually – including between $5-million and $15-million in asbestos products.

A staunch Liberal, Mr. Chadha was appointed to the Privy Council of Canada in 2003 by then-prime minister Jean Chrétien to serve on the committee that oversees the Canadian Security Intelligence Service.

In 2009, he held a private fundraiser in his Westmount home for Quebec Premier Jean Charest but he insists “we have never ever asked for any business favours from any government.”

For more than a decade, he has accompanied prime ministers and premiers on every major trade mission to India, which last year accounted for more than half of Canada’s 135,000 tonnes of asbestos sales.

And it is in his native India where Mr. Chadha faces his fiercest opposition.

“When most of the world, including Canada, has either banned or restricted the use of asbestos domestically due to health reasons, it’s hypocrisy bordering on racism to expose people from poorer countries to harm knowingly,” said Madhumita Dutta of the Occupational and Environmental Network of India, one of the groups that organized noisy protests when Mr. Chadha accompanied Mr. Charest on a 2010 trip to the subcontinent to promote the province’s exports.

Mr. Chadha, like other defenders of the modern asbestos industry, says the white chrysotile product of today – tightly “bonded” to reinforce cement in roofing sheets – is much safer than the loose, amphibole asbestos widely used in the past as insulation.

He says asbestos provides inexpensive roofing to India’s neediest people and vows that independent health investigators will monitor his customers there. But opponents say poor safety standards and the difficulty of tracking tons of asbestos products cast serious doubt on those promises.

Even Mr. Chadha acknowledges he has a tough sale. “I have to commend our enemies, they’ve done a fantastic job,” he said. “And I have to change that image.”

Monday, he sat down for a tense hour-long encounter on Parliament Hill with NDP backbencher Pat Martin, one of the harshest critics of Canada’s asbestos trade.

“I told him to his face that his business is morally and ethically reprehensible,” said Mr. Martin, who worked for two years in a Yukon asbestos mine back in the 1970s. “The jig is up for asbestos in this country. Mr. Chadha is the last man standing and he shouldn’t get any corporate welfare for a dying, deadly industry.”

But Mr. Chadha remains undaunted and plans to meet with the Canadian Cancer Society next month to continue his campaign.

“There have been times where with all the missiles that are being thrown at me you think: am I doing the right thing?” he said. “I have a very clear conscience. I don’t feel shame at all.”

By the numbers:

• 107,000 people die each year from asbestos-related diseases (World Health Organization);

• 70,000 tonnes of Canadian asbestos were exported to India in 2010 – more than half of Canada’s worldwide sales (Statistics Canada);

• Canada is the fifth-largest producer of asbestos, ranking behind Russia, China, Brazil and Kazakhstan, but it is the only country in that group to severely restrict domestic use while encouraging exports.

(Balcorp Ltd. president Baljit Chadha poses at his office in Montreal, Sept., 19, 2011. Mr. Chadha, a prominent asbestos merchant, is headed to Parliament Hill as part of a broader counter-offensive to salvage the reputation of his beleaguered industry.
Photo:Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press)

julian sher
Globe and Mail
Published Monday, Sep. 26, 2011

Dubai company sets up roofing plant in Chennai

DUBAI — Sreevaas Corporate Investment Company, promoted by a UAE-based entrepreneur Siddharth Balachandran, has made an entry into India’s manufacturing sector by launching a subsidiary company.

The new company, Sreevaas Roofing Pvt Ltd, in the south Indian state of Tamil Nadu, has an initial capital investment of Dh20 million.

Sreevaas Roofing manufactures roofing sheets from galvanised iron and galvalume sheets. This product is expected to eventually replace the potentially hazardous asbestos sheets that are currently being used very extensively in India. In addition to being safe, it also provides strong and aesthetically enhanced roofing solution for every category of buildings.

Siddharth, who is the managing director of Dubai-based Bumga Group, said the creation of Sreevaas Roofing was an attempt to help India achieve its full potential, thereby benefiting the entire region, including the Middle East.

He said Sreevaas Roofing seeks to achieve a turnover of $25 million by the year 2014. The next phase of expansion will be expedited in the year 2015, keeping with the management’s strategy of steady and fundamentally solid growth.

Sreevaas Roofing had commissioned its state-of-the –art factory in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, after acquiring nearly five acres of industrial land. The built up area of the factory is approx. 50,000/- square feet. The factory is equipped with the latest available technology and the best quality machinery from 

Sreevaas Roofing will cater to both the domestic and the international markets, with an emphasis on quality and excellent supply chain management. A team of dynamic managers will provide the executive thrust for the company and the company will be governed by a strong board comprising of experienced professionals.

24 September 2011

Mortality in Chinese Chrysotile Asbestos Workers

Note: The medical journal Thorax, one of the world's leading respiratory medicine journals, has just published a large, damning 37-year study of mortality among chrysotile asbestos workers in China. The study was carried out by health researchers at the Division of Occupational and Environmental Health, School of Public Health and Primary Care, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, China, at the School of Public Health, Teikyo University School of Medicine, Tokyo, Japan and at the Department of Occupational Health, Huaxi School of Public Health, Sichuan University, Chengdu, China.

The authors found double or triple the mortality rate for "all causes, and all cancers in the asbestos workers, in comparison with the controls... particularly from lung cancer and non-malignant respiratory diseases, associated with exposure to chrysotile asbestos."

This latest study provides yet more compelling evidence that asbestos - be it chrysotile or any other form, and regardless of how carefully or poorly it's handled - is unsafe to use anywhere in the world.

Kathleen Ruff

A 37-year observation of mortality in Chinese chrysotile asbestos workers

Key messages: What is the key question?

What is the major cause-specific mortality in the cohort of workers who were exposed to chrysotile asbestos, and how strong are the associations between the cause-specific mortality and asbestos exposure?

What is the bottom line?

This 37-year prospective cohort study observed significantly greater mortality of all causes, and all cancers in the asbestos workers, in comparison with the controls. However, the strongest association with asbestos exposure was seen in lung cancer and non-malignant respiratory disease, which showed a clear exposure response trend.

Why read on?

Chrysotile asbestos continues to be mined and used heavily in China, largely because a controversy remains on carcinogenic potency of chrysotile asbestos. This prospective cohort study with the longest observation time to date, and high follow-up rate delivers a strong message that exposure to chrysotile asbestos can cause substantially high mortality risk for lung cancer as well as non-malignant respiratory disease.

Authors: Xiaorong Wang,1 Eiji Yano,2 Hong Qiu,1 Ignatius Yu,1 Midori N Courtice,1 L A Tse,1 Sihao Lin,1 Mianzhen Wang3


Objectives This 37-year prospective cohort study was undertaken to provide additional evidence for mortality risks associated with exposure to chrysotile asbestos.

Methods 577 asbestos workers and 435 control workers in original cohorts were followed from 1972 to 2008, achieving a follow-up rate of 99% and 73%, respectively. Morality rates were determined based on person-years of observation. Cox proportional hazard models were constructed to estimate HRs of cause specific mortality, while taking into account age, smoking and asbestos exposure level.

Results There were 259 (45%) deaths identified in the asbestos cohort, and 96 died of all cancers. Lung cancer (n¼53) and non-malignant respiratory diseases (n¼81) were major cause-specific deaths, in contrast to nine lung cancers and 11 respiratory diseases in the controls. Age and smoking-adjusted HRs for mortality by all causes and all cancers in asbestos workers were 2.05 (95% CI 1.56 to 2.68) and 1.89 (1.25 to 2.87), respectively. The risks for lung cancer and respiratory disease deaths in asbestos workers were over threefold that in the controls (HR 3.31 (95% CI 1.60 to 6.87); HR 3.23 (95% CI 1.68 to 6.22), respectively). There was a clear exposureeresponse trend with asbestos exposure level and lung cancer mortality in both smokers and non-smokers.

Conclusion Data from this prospective cohort provide strong evidence for increased mortality risks, particularly from lung cancer and non-malignant respiratory diseases, associated with exposure to chrysotile asbestos, while taking into account of the smoking effect.
1 Division of Occupational and Environmental Health, School of Public Health and Primary Care, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China
2 School of Public Health, Teikyo University School of Medicine, Tokyo, Japan
3 Department of Occupational Health, Huaxi School of Public Health, Sichuan University, Chengdu, China

Asbestos critics refuse to be converted after meeting with industry powerhouse

MONTREAL — Critics of Canadian asbestos say they weren’t won over by face-to-face meetings Monday with a prominent businessman who argues that his industry has been unfairly maligned.

Some of the industry’s most vocal opponents agreed to a meeting with Montreal businessman Baljit Chadha, who was in Ottawa as part of his effort to revive the reputation of the asbestos trade.

Chadha’s public-relations initiative comes as he seeks a $58-million government loan guarantee from Quebec that would help him reopen one of this country’s last two asbestos mines. The province has set Saturday as the deadline to finalize the deal that would extend the life of the Jeffrey Mine for another 20 years.

But Chadha’s meetings Monday appeared to have left industry critics unswayed: one group quickly issued a news release condemning the asbestos sector shortly after their rendezvous.

Another opponent, New Democrat MP Pat Martin, said he and Chadha had a spirited exchange about the impact on poorer countries — where most Canadian exports of the hazardous mineral are shipped.

Martin, a former asbestos miner who has long opposed Canadian exports, questioned the businessman’s assertions that the hazardous substance can be adequately monitored by safety inspectors overseas.

During their 90-minute talk, he said Chadha also asked him to support his project to extend the life of Quebec’s Jeffrey Mine, for the sake of jobs in Canada and affordable housing in India.

“And I told him I thought that what he’s doing is morally and ethically reprehensible — I (said) that to his face,” Martin said.

“It was a frustrating meeting because either he doesn’t get it, or he thinks we’re stupid.”

Chadha maintains that Canadian chrysotile asbestos, blamed by medical experts for causing cancer and other diseases, can be used safely — even in poorer countries.

He is now determined to correct what he describes as misconceptions about the controversial mineral, which he argues has been tarred by a well-organized lobby.

In an attempt to burnish the industry’s image, he is planning to launch an ad campaign.

Chadha also spoke Monday for about an hour with asbestos opponents from the Rideau Institute — president Steven Staples and senior adviser Kathleen Ruff.

But less than an hour after their discussion, the organization had already issued a news release condemning Chadha for ignoring health experts in pursuit of personal gain.

“It was extremely disappointing,” said Ruff, adding the parties were civil with each other, but clashed on every issue.

“He’s completely fixed, it seems, in denying the scientific evidence and in (his) determination to try and go ahead with this project.”

Chadha, who is a member of Canada’s Privy Council, is also hoping to meet with the editorial boards of major newspapers as well as other groups that have criticized the asbestos industry, including the Canadian Cancer Society and the Canadian Medical Association.

The CMA, however, says it has no intention of attending any such meeting.

Waterloo Record, Sept. 26, 2011
By Andy Blatchford, The Canadian Press

Bangladesh Doesn't Want Asbestos Laden Ship

Chittagong, Bangladesh - Officials in Bangladesh’s Chittagong region, an
area where hundreds of old ships are dismantled each year, have announced
that they will refuse to accept a Korean ship that is said to contain large
amounts of harmful asbestos and other hazardous materials.

According to a BBC News article written by Anbarasan Ethirajan, officials
are taking a stand after receiving complaints about the ship from several
environmental groups. The vessel, the MV Asia Union, was built in South
Korea in 1982, a time when most countries had ceased the use of asbestos
materials. However, because asbestos was not banned in South Korea until
2009, there is an assumption that it contains large amounts of the material.

“We haven't received any application for MV Asia Union,” said Department of
Environment Director General Monowar Islam. “We have not provided any
environmental clearance for this ship.”

However, a port official in Chittagong noted that they would be sending a
team of inspectors out to the ship to determine exactly what remains on
board. At that point, they will make a recommendation and a decision will be
made as to whether or not to allow the ship into Bangladeshi waters.

Thousands of workers in Chittagong make their living in so-called
ship-breaking yards, dismantling old vessels that come to Bangladesh from
countries around the world. According to the BBC article, Bangladesh gets
about 60 percent of its steel from these ship-breaking yards.

However, such a job can be extremely hazardous because, for decades, ships
were fitted with all sorts of asbestos materials because of the mineral’s
excellent heat-resistant qualities. Throughout the world, individuals who
worked in shipyards or aboard ships that were built while asbestos use was
widespread, including U.S. veterans, have been sickened with asbestos
diseases such as malignant mesothelioma.

New Asbestos Free Brake Plant in Chennai

Federal-Mogul Constructs New World-Class Brake Friction Manufacturing Plant in Chennai

Facility will produce portfolio of market-leading, environmentally-friendly brake friction products without asbestos for all market segments

SOUTHFIELD, Mich., Sept. 26, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Federal-Mogul Corporation (NASDAQ:FDML - News) today announced the development of a new brake friction manufacturing facility in Chennai, India. The company, through one of its Indian subsidiaries, broke ground earlier this year on a 10-acre site for construction of the new 38,000-square-meter facility to manufacture the company's broad portfolio of leading-edge technology, environmentally-friendly brake friction materials for the OE and aftermarket segments for automotive, construction, railway and industrial customers. Production is scheduled to begin before the end of 2011.

"India is one of Federal-Mogul's strategic bases of operations for serving the fast-growing Indian automotive market in Southeast Asia and other global markets. Our newest manufacturing facility in Chennai will enable us to better serve brake friction technology requirements for existing and new customers in several markets in the region and globally," said Federal-Mogul President and CEO Jose Maria Alapont. "When we bring on-line the Chennai manufacturing facility later this year, Federal-Mogul will have the ability to manufacture our global market-leading brake friction products in every major geographic automotive market around the world, complemented by our strong base of regional technology and engineering centers supporting our brake friction customers."

The new Chennai facility will initially produce non-asbestos organic disc brake pads for light vehicles, half block linings for commercial vehicles and brake blocks for railway and industrial customers. The company expects to employ approximately 300 people when the facility is in full operation. Federal-Mogul's investment is expected to be approximately US $15 million.

"The combined Indian automotive, commercial and railway markets are expected to grow on average by 14 percent per year over the next five years," said Jean de Montlaur, president and managing director, Federal-Mogul Group of Companies - India. "The aftermarket is also rapidly growing as the influx of new vehicles has expanded the total Indian car parc, resulting in new requirements for high quality OEM-style repair and maintenance parts. Demand in India for technology is becoming increasingly sophisticated as the world's vehicle makers are all competing for a share of this expanding market. India is a strategic market for Federal-Mogul and we have invested in the capacity and infrastructure to maintain and grow our leadership position in India and globally."

"The new Chennai facility will help Federal-Mogul broaden its portfolio of global-leading technologies produced in India," Alapont added. "Bringing the production of new friction technologies to India supports the company's sustainable global profitable growth strategy, which is based on delivering leading high-tech and innovative solutions for improving fuel economy, reducing emissions and enhancing vehicle safety."

Federal-Mogul established joint venture operations in India in the 1950s. The company has since established several wholly owned operations and majority joint ventures in the country. The company has grown its revenue from its Indian operations to approximately $250 million and currently employs more than 6,600 employees in seven manufacturing facilities in Bangalore, Bhiwadi, Parwanoo, Patiala and Radrapur. The new Chennai facility is the company's eighth manufacturing facility in India.

Federal-Mogul's Indian headquarters is in New Delhi, and one of the company's 18 globally-networked technical centers is in Bangalore. Together these facilities design, develop and manufacture a broad range of Federal-Mogul's market-leading vehicle powertrain components, including pistons, piston rings, engine bearings, ignition and sintered products; for both OE and aftermarket customers.

About Federal-Mogul

Federal-Mogul Corporation is a leading global supplier of powertrain and safety solutions to the world's foremost original equipment manufacturers of automotive, commercial, aerospace, marine, rail and off-road vehicles; industrial, agricultural and power generation equipment; as well as the worldwide aftermarket. Federal-Mogul's leading technology and innovation, lean manufacturing expertise, and global distribution network deliver world-class products, brands and services at a competitive cost. The company's sustainable global profitable growth strategy creates value for its employees, customers and shareholders. Federal-Mogul was founded in Detroit in 1899. The company is headquartered in Southfield, Michigan, and employs approximately 45,000 people in 35 countries.

Federal-Mogul's aftermarket products are sold under a variety of well-known brands, including: Abex®, AE®, ANCO®, Beral®, Carter®, Champion®, FP Diesel®, Fel-Pro®, Ferodo®, Glyco®, Goetze®, MOOG®, National®, Necto®, Nural®, Payen®, Precision®, Sealed Power®, Speed-Pro® and Wagner®. All trademarks are owned by Federal-Mogul Corporation, or one or more of its subsidiaries, in one or more countries. Visit the company's website at

CONTACT:Jim Burke, +1-248-354-4530,

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Gujarat Composites Cement Limited's asbestos plant closed?

Shree Digvijay Cement Company was started in 1949. A plant to manufacture asbestos cement pipes and a sheets plant was commissioned by it in November 1962, with Johns Manville Corporation, US, being the technical consultant and the sole selling agent in West Asian and African countries.

In 1994-95, the company approved a scheme of arrangement for transfer of four of its divisions viz.
1) Ahmedabad Cement Mill fibre products division, 2) Shreeram Silk division and Coir & Felt division and investment in shares in 3) Shree Synthetics and 4) Fort William Company to Gujarat Composites Cement Limited with effect from 1 July 1994.

In 1999-2000, the company was declared as a sick industrial company as per the reference made to the BIFR and has appointed ICICI as the operating agency. The company has completed a modernisation programme in 2000-2001 with close circuiting and installation of pre-grinding system for its cement mill.

Sources from Ahmedabad has revealed that the Gujarat Composites Cement Limited's asbestos plant has been closed from 20th September, 2011.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Personal Film about Asbestos, Mesothelioma turns into ‘Breathtaking' Experience

Kathleen Mullen started making a documentary as a personal tribute to her father, as a way to honor and remember his life.

She finished the film as an indictment of the industry that killed him — and a government that allowed it to happen.

The transformation — the bridge between the two — is what makes “Breathtaking,” so powerful.

Richard Mullen, her father, died in 2003 of mesothelioma, the cancer caused by an exposure to asbestos. He spent 40 years as a project engineer, often inspecting oil pipes where he unknowingly was inhaling asbestos fibers.

“I wanted to do something from a personal standpoint, something from the heart,” she told “But the more research I did, the more I understood: this wasn’t a family issue, this was a global problem effecting people around the world. It really motivated me to tell the whole story.”

The 43-minute film is a love-hate interaction, filled with touching, father/daughter memories alongside stark, cold realities about the hurtful business of asbestos and the deadly path that it still takes.

The film can be seen for free Sept 26 at 6:30 p.m. EST through live streaming at

Mullen Witnessed Asbestos Mining

“I’m proud of this film, very proud that it’s getting out there for people to see,” said Mullen, who is the director of programing at Planet in Focus, a Toronto-based annual film festival that focuses on environmental issues. “It was uncanny, really shocking in fact, at how many people we met during the filming, who had been impacted by this disease.”

During her work, Kathleen traveled to Arizona, where her father originally lived, to the family home in British Columbia, to Quebec, where asbestos is being mined today, and then to India, where asbestos is being sold and used extensively to help build low-income housing.

The film includes personal photographs and home movies that taken before her dad was diagnosed in 2001. It includes footage of his legal testimony against the industry before he died and frank, touching discussions with him and his wife as he battled the illness to the end.

With her camera, she toured both underground and open-pit asbestos mines, talking to people who worked there, listening to conflicting stories about the safety and the need of their jobs. She spoke with those it was killing and with those who were proud of its uses. Canadian governmental officials, who allow the mining of asbestos to continue, declined to be part of her film.

In India she met with people opposed to the importation of asbestos and those who buy it for manufacturing, despite its toxic history. She watched the harvest of asbestos and the end result of its use.
Abestos Lobby Sees Film

Previous screenings of the film have been met with enthusiastic support and sometimes energetic debate. During one screening in Toronto, there was a member of the asbestos lobby who came from Montreal just to be heard.

“It was exciting when he spoke. It really energized people,” she said. “It’s good to know how the other side feels, to know where it is coming from.”

It took Mullen five years to make the film, which was first shown almost a year ago. In it, she moved deftly from first-person experiences to third-person accounts of what she saw, moving from emotional to dispassionate through the film.

According to its latest statistics, the World Health Organization estimates that 90,000 people died annually from an asbestos-related illnesses. Yet the Canadian government still allows the mining and the export of asbestos, even when its use nationally is nearly non-existent.

The dangers of asbestos have been well-documented for more than 50 years. And its use in both the United States and Canada has dropped dramatically since the late 1970s, when regulations began. Many industrialized countries have banned its use in new products, but not every country has such a strict stance. It’s one reason that Mullen still feels the need to tell her father’s story. Not just for him, but for all those around the world who might suffer a similar fate.

“One of our driving forces, as we came to the end, was the desire to hold these companies accountable for what they did and are doing still,” she said. “I don’t know if we can make a difference, but I know we can try.”

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