One thing we share is an abundance of unsafe Quebec chrysotile AKA asbestos. Most of the world stopped using the miracle mineral once they realized what a global disaster its widespread use had been. Inhaled asbestos fibres cause lung cancer. There is some ongoing effort four decades after its use in new products was stopped in Canada, to remove it from buildings we live, work, and play in.
The effort to mitigate harm from asbestos has its limits, even in a developed country like Canada. An often overlooked source of asbestos fibres in our homes has taken a backseat, while our backsides have [statistically] been suffering from it. Over half of Regina’s drinking water supply pipes are made with Asbestos Cement (AC). 500km of AC is in our city. Edmonton has twice as many kilometers of the undesirable piping. The City of Regina has admitted it has no idea how much asbestos is coming out of our taps at homes across the city.
If asbestos is consumed in sufficient amounts, it’s been shown by government health researchers to lead to polyps in human intestines. Is Regina dickering over a quarter billion dollar Waste Water Treatment Plant deal, while our drinking Water Treatment Plant can’t even hope to address the probable health disaster taking place under our city streets as water is delivered to many of our homes through AC? How many billion dollars will it take to replace over 500 kms of undesirable water piping that is likely to lead to increased rates of tumours?
What has the City of Regina done since the Leader Post wrote about this issue in 2012? Can you even find the latest Water and Sewer Budget on the regina.ca website, in a year of major proposed sewer system changes?
Reginans, and indeed many Canadians, have become “test animals in a massive biological experiment involving a known carcinogen.” -Barbara Robson, Winnipeg Free Press reporter in 1987.
Are we safe? We don’t know for sure without knowing the amount of asbestos breaking free from our pipes, but there are many logical conclusions from the facts we have, to conclude we are not safe today. This is an urgent health concern that has been ignored, possibly due to its sheer scope. When we start to fix the problem, who gets safer water first? The ethical questions are extreme. The extent of the problem has been known for decades, and we’ve not even meaningfully begun to deal with the reconstruction of our water system to free it of asbestos contamination.
So, where do we start?