Appeal to Roshi Chadha to stop exporting deadly asbestos

Thu, Dec 8, 2011


December 4, 2011

Dear Roshi Chadha:

I applaud your commitment to protecting people’s health, as evidenced by your role as a member of the Board of Governors of the Canadian Red Cross, a member of the Board of Directors of St. Mary’s Hospital Foundation and a member of the Board of Directors of McGill University Health Centre. I note that at St Mary’s Hospital, you have championed the Chrysalis program, which links “women who share a belief that Knowledge is Power and pivotal to the decision-making process regarding health-related issues through regular seminars with leading medical practitioners.”

At the same time as promoting health, you are an executive of Seja Trade Ltd, a company registered at your home address that exports asbestos from the Jeffrey asbestos mine to factories in India that make asbestos-cement construction materials, factories that make asbestos friction parts for automobiles and a factory that, apparently, makes inflatable balloons. The managing director of Seja’s prime client in India, Hyderabad Industries Ltd, states that “this particular asbestos has not been known to give cancer, so far”. Hyderabad Industries Ltd. informs its customers in India that “asbestos cement products present no known risk on health”. Video: Foreign Correspondent examines the trade in asbestos between the developed and developing world. (ABC News)

As you surely know, this is false information that will cause loss of life. It is indisputable that all asbestos causes cancer and the asbestos industry itself admits that cutting asbestos-cement construction materials with a mechanical saw (a typical activity) releases dangerous high levels of asbestos fibres into the air for workers and surrounding people to breathe in. The attached photo shows this activity in India, with the smiling worker and the nearby child being exposed to harm. You will note that the worker’s hair is covered in white dust. This situation would be illegal in Canada, but is common in India, where the population is not even aware that it is hazardous to their health.

I believe that your role in exporting asbestos as an executive of Seja Trade Ltd is in conflict with your role as a board member of the Canadian Red Cross, St Mary’s Hospital Foundation and the McGill University Health Centre.

The Canadian Medical Association, the Canadian Cancer Society, the Canadian Public Health Association, the Quebec government’s own sixteen Directors of Public Health, as well as numerous other medical authorities, have strongly and unanimously called for the export of asbestos to end and have opposed the re-opening of the Jeffrey mine, saying that it would lead to loss of life.

You have a duty, I believe, to listen to reputable medical experts, not to the discredited asbestos lobby, which makes profit from asbestos sales and is in a conflict of interest position.

Please, Roshi Chadha, listen to the voice of Quebec’s and Canada’s medical authorities to stop exporting asbestos. Please meet with the leaders of the Canadian Cancer Society and the Canadian Medical Association. Please put health ahead of profits. Please stop exporting asbestos.

If you are determined to keep exporting asbestos, along with the deadly misinformation that it will not cause harm, then I ask that you resign from the boards of the Canadian Red Cross, St. Mary’s Hospital Foundation and the McGill University Health Centre, since your role as an asbestos trader is causing harm to health overseas and directly conflicts with the goals and values of these organisations.

I deeply hope that you will take a stand to support health and look forward to receiving your response.


Kathleen Ruff, author, Exporting Harm: How Canada markets asbestos to the developing world; recipient, National Public Health Hero award, 2011, Canadian Public Health Association

One Response to “Appeal to Roshi Chadha to stop exporting deadly asbestos”

  1. Lynn Crosby Says:

    The Politics of Asbestos by Linda Waldman is brand new and a very interesting look at the management of asbestos and associated illnesses in the UK, South Africa and India. The chapter on India suggests ways that their information regarding incidence of asbestos related diseases can be skewed to favour the industry. Well worth the read.

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