Chemical Valley industry (BlackburnNews.com file photo by Dave Dentinger)

Alarming Mesothelioma Rates

The former head of the occupational health office says Sarnia will continue to be “ground zero” for asbestos-related death and disease well into this decade and beyond.

Jim Brophy’s comments come as Statistics Canada reports that mesothelioma deaths jumped by 60 per cent between 2000 and 2012.

Dr. Brophy says there’s still a very large local population that’s very much at risk due to historic exposure to asbestos.

“People think it was the Holmes Foundry workers, they had a substantial number of people, but it wasn’t the largest group,” says Brophy. “The largest group, at least what we documented at the occupational health clinic, were the building trades workers.”

“The pipe fitters, the plumbers. These people had exposure, and this was going on into the 1990s, and even into 2000 depending on where people worked.”

Mesothelioma can take 20 to 40 years to develop.

There have been thousands of cases and deaths related to occupational asbestos exposure in Canada, the world’s largest producer and exporter of chrysotile asbestos during the last century.