Green Party of Canada and Prevent Cancer Now Calls for Long-Overdue Action on Asbestos Cement Water Pipes

OTTAWA - Green Party of Canada Co-Leader and MP for Saanich-Gulf Islands, Elizabeth May was joined by Prevent Cancer Now (PCN) representatives Dr. Meg Sears and Julian Branch at a news conference on Parliament Hill, marking World Environment Day during World Environment Week. They spoke about the need for federal actions on asbestos in drinking water. 

“Our federal government cannot continue to ignore this health threat,” said MP May. “The US government regulates asbestos in water. Asbestos in water pipes presents a health threat in the US. Our government cannot plausibly make the case that what is threat to Americans poses no threat to Canadians.”

“Millions of Canadians get their water via aging asbestos cement water pipes. Federal studies state that those pipes are deteriorating, and the asbestos fibres entering the water cause a health concern,” said Mr. Branch. 

Dr. Sears added, “Canada has no methods or certified laboratories to measure asbestos in water, so there is no data on drinking water. It’s time for the federal government to start assembling the data, and to stop saying there is no evidence that ingested asbestos is harmful when there is no Canadian evidence whatsoever.”

“Health Canada will tell you there is no danger from ingested asbestos because the fibres are eliminated through feces. Indeed, most tobacco smoke is exhaled but tobacco still causes cancers throughout the body. Asbestos fibres have even been visualized in abdominal tumours.” 

Branch decries the lost opportunities and waste. “Increasingly frequent catastrophic failures of asbestos cement pipes are exposing citizens to asbestos in their water, property damage, and expensive, disruptive emergency repairs. This is no way to run utilities.” 

The federal government is currently conducting an inventory of asbestos cement water pipes in Canada. Modern technologies may replace pipes without extensive roadworks.

Health Canada is presently reassessing risks of drinking asbestos, with public participation slated for 2025. 



Dr. Meg Sears 613-297-6042

Julian Branch 306-552-8328

Debra Eindiguer (for Elizabeth May) 613-240-8921