W5’s investigation reveals the dangers surrounding 500km of asbestos cement pipelines in Regina
More than 500 kilometers of asbestos cement pipes run through Regina’s water system, according to findings from a W5 investigation.
Because of their supposed durability and low cost, over two million kilometers of asbestos cement pipes can be found around the world at any one time, with Canada being no exception.
Asbestos was once considered a wonder mineral, being used in thousands of products for its insulating and fire-resistant properties.
However, in the 1960s, Dr. Irving Selikoff discovered that asbestos particles were poisonous when inhaled and linked the mineral to the respiratory diseases of millions of asbestos workers.
Now, another type of concern surrounds the use of asbestos.
As these pipes start to age, as this infrastructure starts to go, they tend to fail catastrophically, W5 correspondent Eric Szeto told CTV Regina Morning Live.
There’s the concern that these fibers will detach, break these pipes and end up going into your faucets and you end up drinking it.
The science is not so clear about what happens if you swallow or drink asbestos particles.
Despite this, leading experts in the field are still worried.
We keep getting more and more evidence. Some of it goes back 50 years, but more and more evidence that it can cause cancer of the gastrointestinal tract, Arthur Frank, a physician and professor of public health at Drexel University, told CTV News.
Due to shifting soil, the Queen City has been plagued with frequent breaks in its water lines.
Julian Branch, an activist and former journalist who lives in Regina, says there needs to be more awareness and more action from all levels of government on this issue.
Asbestos is going into the water and according to our federal government, according to federal studies, it is causing a health concern, Branch said.
Canadians should be very concerned about their drinking water.
As part of its investigation, W5 contacted 100 communities across Canada. Ninety-nine percent of those communities that responded still used asbestos in their pipes.
The European Union no longer wants asbestos cement pipes that supply water, with the organization advocating their removal.
Meanwhile in Canada, there has been little push to do this federally.
Health Canada maintains that there is no solid evidence that drinking or ingesting asbestos is harmful.
This position has meant that there is no maximum limit for asbestos in water and does not mean that there is no need for testing.
The branch believes there is a complete and utter lack of political accountability on this issue.
It is up to the politicians today to find a solution. We can’t keep pretending it’s not there, he said.
We have to find a solution to this before it’s too late.”
For results and full storySomething in the water is available at CTV news site.
With files from CTV’s Eric Szeto and CTV Regina Morning Live
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