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Nov 18, 2020

Canadian town of Asbestos changes its name.


Val-des-Sources (Valley of the Springs) was not always known as that. This French-Canadian community has officially changed its name from Asbestos to Va-des-Sources. Association with the cancer-causing mineral, asbestos, has caused harm to the town’s tourism industry and hindered its ability to attract business and investment into the area. The word asbestos does not have the same connotations in Quebec as it does in English-speaking countries as the French word for asbestos is ‘amiante.’ However worldwide, people are aware of asbestos and the negative references to the substance. The area is also known for its Nordic spas, four seasons hiking, cross-country ski trails, heritage trails, gourmet food and mineral festivals.

Quebec once produced half of the world’s asbestos and offered the highest-paying mining jobs before concern about cancer led to asbestos being banned in more than 50 countries. Canada officially banned asbestos in 2018.

2,796 of the town’s 6,800 residents turned out for a parking lot-based car vote in Quebec. The winning name, chosen from a shortlist of 6 possibilities, relates to the town’s proximity to the source of three lakes. The five other options were; L’Azur-des-Cantons, Jeffrey-sur-le-Lac, Larochelle, Phénix and Trois-Lacs.

As the area is home to one of the largest asbestos mines in the world, The Jeffery Mine, there were concerns that the name Jeffrey-sur-le-Lac would do little to alleviate the reputation of the town even though the mine closed in 2012. The Jeffrey Mine in Asbestos, Quebec, was first opened in 1849 and was once the largest employer in the region, employing more than 2,000 people. When the mine closed a lot of locals experienced hardship in the aftermath as the town struggled to attract business and investment in the area partly due to the name of the town.

Over 100,000 people die from asbestos-related illness each year worldwide. Between 1998 and 2003, 1,348 workers in Quebec had asbestos-related diseases recognised as occupational lung diseases. About 57.3% had asbestosis, 27.9%, mesothelioma and 27%, lung cancer. Of those 29.1% worked in mines, 28.4% in maintenance or repair of asbestos-related products, 21% in construction, 11.3% in asbestos processing plants and 10.2% in other work places.

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with an asbestos related illness or believes they have been exposed to asbestos please do not hesitate to contact us on 0800 294 3065.

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