Canada Lowers OEL for Airborne Chrysotile Asbestos
The Government of Canada recently announced changes to the Canada Labour Code that lower the occupational exposure limit (OEL) for airborne chrysotile asbestos to “as close to zero as possible.” Now, the OEL for exposure to all airborne asbestos in Canada matches the ACGIH Threshold Limit Value (TLV) of 0.1 fibers per cubic centimeter (f/cc). Previously, the OEL for airborne chrysotile asbestos was set at 1 f/cc, an exemption provided by the government because airborne chrysotile asbestos was mined in Canada for more than 100 years. The new regulatory provisions, which went into effect on July 12, also include an asbestos exposure management program, which requires employers to provide education and training for employees involved in asbestos-related work activities.
“[These changes] will significantly lower the risk of workers coming into contact with asbestos in the workplace, while ensuring consistency with most provincial and territorial regulations for airborne asbestos fibers,” the press release reads.
The new regulatory provisions are part of the Government of Canada’s broader strategy to ban asbestos and asbestos-containing products by 2018. That strategy, which was announced in December 2016, will include new regulations under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, updates to national building codes to prohibit the use of asbestos in new construction and renovation projects across Canada, and support for listing chrysotile asbestos to the Rotterdam Convention as a hazardous material. The objective of the Rotterdam Convention is to protect human health and the environment by promoting informed decisions about the import and management of certain hazardous chemicals.