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New federal asbestos ban includes controversial exemptions

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New regulations designed to ban asbestos will go into effect by the end of this year — but an analysis of the final rules introduced Wednesday reveals they have been watered down from what the federal government originally proposed.

The final regulations include new exemptions to allow the military, nuclear facilities and chlor-alkali plants to continue using the hazardous substance for several years.

Kathleen Ruff, who has campaigned against asbestos, is particularly concerned about clauses in the final regulations that would allow companies to sift through years worth of asbestos mining waste to look for magnesium.

“They seem to have, if anything, weakened their proposed regulations and succumbed to lobbying by vested interests,” the activist said. “I would give them huge credit for finally moving to ban asbestos …  But I’m troubled by the fact that there are these weaknesses and gaps and, if anything, they seem to have gotten worse.”

Environment Minister Catherine McKenna downplayed the potential impact of the new exemptions.

“None of these exemptions will impact on human health — that is our top priority. In certain cases, there were technical reasons…for military facilities you needed to have exemptions, but these are time limited,” McKenna told reporters Thursday. “There needs to be reporting on these exemptions and, as I say, our top priority is the health of Canadians.”

McKenna said government is keeping the promise it made in 2016, and said the new regulations to ban asbestos and products containing asbestos will be effective at the end of this year.

“These regulations ban the import, the sale, the use and the export of asbestos and products containing asbestos in Canada, as well as the manufacture of products containing asbestos,” McKenna said.

Lung cancer cases

The regulations designed to ban asbestos — including its manufacture, sale, use and export — come nearly two and half years after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told a building trades union policy conference that his government would move to ban the cancer-causing substance.

“We know that its impact on workers far outweighs any benefits that it might provide,” Trudeau said at the time. 

In its regulations, the government estimates that asbestos exposure was responsible for approximately 1,900 lung cancer cases in 2011 and 430 cases of mesothelioma — a cancer that affects a layer of tissue that covers many internal organs.

Minister of Environment and Climate Change Catherine McKenna has scheduled a news conference for Thursday morning to discuss the government’s asbestos regulations. (Chad Hipolito/Canadian Press)

The government said it can be found in a wide variety of products including cement and plaster products, industrial furnaces and heating systems, building insulation, floor and ceiling tiles, house siding, textiles, automotive brake pads and vehicle transmission components such as clutches.

The regulations will prohibit the import, sale and use of processed asbestos fibres, and the manufacture, import, sale and use of products containing processed asbestos fibres.

However, the regulations won’t prohibit mining activities and they won’t apply to structures or products that already contain asbestos.

Between the time the proposed regulations were made public in January, and the time the final regulations were published Wednesday, the government also decided to add new exemptions.

The chlor-alkali industry, which uses asbestos in the equipment that produces products like chlorine, was originally going to have to phase out its use by 2025. It will now have until the end of 2029.

Canada’s military and nuclear facilities will be able to buy, import and use products containing asbestos to service their equipment until the end of 2022 “if no technically or economically feasible asbestos-free alternative is available.”

The military also gets an “ongoing exclusion” to buy, import and use military equipment serviced with a product containing asbestos while it was outside Canada.

‘Extremely happy’

Re-using “asbestos in existing road infrastructure into new road infrastructure or in asbestos mining site restoration” is also granted an exclusion in the final regulations with no end date.

The regulations also allow for permits to use asbestos or products including asbestos where they “are required to protect the environment or human health where there is no technically or economically feasible alternative available.” Permits will last for one year and there are reporting requirements.

CLC president Hassan Yussuff says recent decisions by the Alberta Labour Relations Board are not out of line with the rest of Canada. (Canadian Labour Congress)

The final regulations also add exceptions when it comes to exporting asbestos. For example, asbestos in personal or household effects intended for personal use will be allowed, as will asbestos contained in military equipment, asbestos contained in a product used prior to the amendments coming into force, and asbestos in raw material exported to manufacture a product that is not a consumer product.

Despite the exceptions that have been added, one of the people praising the new rules Wednesday was Hassan Yussuff, president of the Canadian Labour Congress and one of those who has been exposed to asbestos.

“We’re extremely happy that it meets our expectations in terms of what we wanted to see in the regulations. Of course the roll out, the education, the publicity that is going to come from this I think will make a lot of people happy —  especially families who have lost their loved ones over the last many decades in this country to asbestos.”

However, NDP MP Sheri Benson said the exemptions in the final regulations represent “a watered-down version” of what the Liberals had promised. She said experts have warned that exemptions from the ban will increase the risk of cancer and other lung diseases.

“The prime minister must keep his promise and implement a comprehensive and complete ban on asbestos immediately,” Benson said in a statement after raising the issue in question period Thursday.

“Exposure to asbestos is the leading cause of occupational death in Canada. We cannot stand idly by while Canadian workers and their families continue to be exposed to asbestos.”

Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Catherine McKenna, announces new regulations that prohibit the import and export of any asbestos and asbestos-containing products. 1:10

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Post-vaccine surge? Michigan’s spring coronavirus case spike close to previous year’s autumn high

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(Natural News) The spike in new Wuhan coronavirus infections recorded in Michigan over the spring is similar to a spike seen during the 2020 fall season. According to a Wall Street Journal analysis, the state’s daily coronavirus case count averaged more than 7,000 for almost two weeks – before taking a slight dip to 6,891 on April 20. This echoed similar figures back in November and December 2020, which saw sharp rises in infections for those two months before plunging.

Back in autumn of last year, Michigan averaged more than 7,000 cases per day for a span of 10 days. New infections dropped slightly, then briefly spiked as the December holidays approached. It then fell to the low 1,000s for the succeeding two months – until ascending again in March.

According to University of Michigan internal medicine professor Dr. Vikas Parekh, the sudden increase in new infections could be attributed to several factors. Among the factors he cited was re-openings, which increased people’s interactions and mobility. Parekh said the loosened restrictions contributed to the spread of the highly contagious U.K. B117 variant.

“As the B117 variant spreads nationally, we will likely see other stats [with] their own surges – although I hope none are as bad as Michigan,” the professor remarked. He continued: “The milestone just tells us we are not yet in the clear, especially as we still have large portions of our population who are not vaccinated yet.”

Parekh also expressed optimism over the lower daily caseloads the Great Lakes State reported. He said he believes both cases and hospitalizations have plateaued and will likely decline soon. The professor commented: “[COVID-19] positivity has been declining now for one week, which is usually a leading indicator of case decline.”

Meanwhile, the state cited younger populations and youth sports, such as basketball, wrestling and hockey, to increase new COVID-19 infections. Because of this, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer called to suspend youth sports and indoor dining in the state. She also exhorted high schools to conduct remote class sessions for two weeks to curb the spread of the pathogen.

Michigan still experienced the spike in cases despite having one of the highest vaccination rates in the country

During the opening stages of the U.S.’s immunization drive against COVID-19, Michigan boasted of having one of the highest vaccination rates nationwide. A report by Bridge Michigan even noted the initial “frenzy for vaccines” that “far exceeded the state’s limited supply.” But things have appeared to turn around for Michigan, as it now struggles to reach the 70 percent vaccination rate needed for herd immunity.

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Scottish mom’s legs turn into a pair of “giant blisters” after first dose of AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine

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(Natural News) Sarah Beuckmann of Glasgow, Scotland, felt a tingling sensation in her legs and noticed a rash flaring up around her ankles a week after getting her first dose of AstraZeneca’s coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine on March 18.

She also had flu-like symptoms right after the vaccination.

Beuckmann called her doctor to arrange an appointment the morning she noticed the rash, but by the afternoon her skin was already breaking out into blood-filled blisters. Blisters also appeared on her legs, hands, face, arms and bottom.

“I ended up asking my husband to take me to A&E,” said Beuckmann, referring to “accident and emergency,” the equivalent of an emergency room (ER). “When I got there, my heart rate was sitting at 160bpm, which they were very concerned about. I got put on an ECG machine.”

Doctors determine AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine triggers the rash

Medics carried out tests for HIV, herpes and other skin conditions to work out what triggered the rash, but all results came back negative. Doctors finally determined that the vaccine caused her rare reaction after carrying out two biopsies.

“Once they found that it was a reaction to the vaccine, they put me on steroids and that really seems to be helping my progress,” said Beuckmann. She had been advised by her doctor not to get the second dose of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine because of her reaction.

Beuckmann spent 16 days at Queen Elizabeth University Hospital. She was discharged to recover at home. The 34-year-old mother of one is currently wheelchair-bound due to the bandages on her legs and blisters on the soles of her feet. She may need physiotherapy to help strengthen her leg muscles.

“They are starting to heal and they’re looking a lot better than they were but as the blisters started to get worse, they all sort of merged together,” she said. “I didn’t know what was going on.”

With the blisters merging, her legs have looked like a pair of “giant blisters.” Beuckmann admitted that at one point she feared her legs might have to be amputated.

Dermatologist agrees COVID-19 vaccine causes the blisters

Dr. Emma Wedgeworth, a consultant dermatologist and spokeswoman at the British Skin Foundation, agreed that Beuckmann had likely suffered a reaction to the vaccine.

“Vaccines are designed to activate the immune system. Occasionally people will have quite dramatic activation of their immune systems which, as happened in this case, can manifest in their skin” Wedgeworth told MailOnline. “This poor lady had a very severe reaction, which thankfully is extremely rare.”

It is not clear why Beuckmann, who works in retail, was invited for a vaccine. Scotland’s vaccine rollout was focused on people over the age of 50 when she got vaccinated, although vaccines are available to those who are considered at risk from the virus, or live with someone considered vulnerable.

At least 20 million Briton have had AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine, which drug regulators say causes a rash in one percent of cases. They say rashes caused by the jab tend to go away within a week.

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Trojan labs? Chinese biotech company offers to build COVID testing labs in six states

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In 2012, BGI acquired Complete Genomics, a DNA sequencing company and equipment maker. The funds for the $117.6 million purchase were raised from Chinese venture capitals. The company has expanded its footprint globally. According to its website, BGI conducts business in more than 100 countries and areas and has 11 offices and labs in the U.S.

People are concerned about China’s access to American DNA data

Some said that with Complete Genomics providing an American base, BGI would have access to more DNA samples from Americans, helping it compile a huge database of genetic information. Some also worried about the protection of the genetic information’s privacy.

According to a 2019 report from the U.S.–China Economic and Security Review Commission (USCC), BGI “has formed numerous partnerships with U.S. healthcare providers and research organizations to provide large-scale genetic sequencing to support medical research efforts,”

There are three main reasons why many people in the biotech community and government have expressed concerns about China’s access to American DNA data.

In the “60 Minutes” interview, Evanina discussed the very likely scenario in which Chinese companies would be able to micro-target American individuals and offer customized preventative solutions based on their DNA.

Evanina asked: “Do we want to have another nation systematically eliminate our healthcare services? Are we okay with that as a nation?”

The second concern is that China may use DNA to track and attack American individuals. As the USCC report states: “China could target vulnerabilities in specific individuals brought to light by genomic data or health records. Individuals targeted in such attacks would likely be strategically identified persons, such as diplomats, politicians, high-ranking federal officials or military leadership.”

The third concern is that China may devise bioweapons to target non-Asians. Steven Mosher, president of the Population Research Institute, discussed it in his article “What Will China Do With Your DNA?” published by The Epoch Times in March 2019.

He wrote: “We know that the Asian genome is genetically distinct from the Caucasian and African in many ways. … Would it be possible to bioengineer a very virulent version of, say, smallpox, that was easily transmitted, fatal to other races, but to which the Chinese enjoyed a natural immunity? … Given our present ability to manipulate genomes, if such a bio-weapon can be imagined, it can probably – given enough time and resources – be realized.”

An article from Technocracy said: “China’s aggressive collection of American DNA should be doubly alarming because it can only spell one ultimate outcome: biowarfare. That is, genetically engineering viruses or other diseases that will be selectively harmful to U.S. populations.”

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