It's difficult to know what level of disgust to have, but I side with Jim Brophy. He’s a workplace safety expert who is utterly gobsmacked that, after finally banning asbestos in Canada(it wasn’t already banned?), the federal government will provide a transition period of an incredible two years.
This would presumably allow businesses that might have asbestos brake parts on their shelves to get new suppliers and use up current inventory.
The Page 18 story in April’s issue of Automotive News Canada doesn’t come out and say it, so I will: This would be a joke if it wasn’t so outrageous.
Let’s try to get our heads around it. The ban, announced at the end of 2016, is a federal acknowledgment that there’s a health problem with asbestos. Let’s skip the part where we’ve already known this for 50 years and head straight to the ban part. When a ban is imposed on a known cancer agent, but that agent is still allowed to be used for two more years, then it’s not a ban. It’s insulting to the people who have fallen ill and to those who have died from exposure.
What’s even more outrageous is why asbestos is even allowed in auto parts in the first place. It’s not like everyone — really, everyone — isn’t aware of the health issues. Just try selling a home with asbestos insulation surrounding the ductwork. At that point, the house deal is off until the asbestos is remediated, at significant cost. Hazmat suits, air purifiers and sealed bags to take the stuff away.
By contrast, the people working in the service bays changing brake parts are thrown to the wolves with this ban that isn’t a ban. Worse off are the DIY-ers out there who likely don’t have the knowledge and training to deal with asbestos parts . . . that no one would actually think would be on a vehicle anyway. Why? It’s asbestos and it causes cancer. Why would it be on a vehicle?
Granted, the Page 18 story indicates that NAPA and Canadian Tire don’t sell asbestos brake parts, but they still get into the marketplace because, partly, asbestos parts don’t require a warning label. Chemicals in your food? Label. Asbestos in brake parts? No label.
If the federal government doesn’t want to be complicit in the sickness caused by asbestos brake parts, it needs to not allow the parts into the marketplace starting now, even it means buying up inventory. The longer it’s allowed, the more technicians who will be exposed and the more who will potentially die from it.