Nature’s Past Episode 55: Asbestos Mining and Environmental Health

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Episode 55: Asbestos Mining and Environmental Health

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In 2012, Canada stopped mining and exporting asbestos. Once considered a miracle mineral for its fireproof qualities, asbestos came to be better known as a carcinogenic, hazardous material banned in numerous countries around the world.

Canada was once a leading producer of asbestos and home to the world’s largest chrysotile asbestos mine, located in the Town of Asbestos in the province of Quebec. This is the subject of a new book by Professor Jessica van Horssen. A Town Called Asbestos is a thoroughly researched and thoroughly shocking account of the history of asbestos mining, environmental health, and resistance in this small, Quebec resource town.

How did the people of the Town of Asbestos respond to the growth of asbestos mining, the knowledge of the harmful health effects of asbestos, and the consequence for their own bodies? On this episode of the podcast, we speak with Jessica van Horssen about her new book.

Please be sure to take a moment to review this podcast on our iTunes page.



Jessica van Horssen

Works Cited:

Van Horssen, Jessica. A Town Called Asbestos: Environmental Contamination, Health, and Resilience in a Resource Community. Vancouver: UBC Press, 2016.

Music Credits:

“My Heart is Holding Guitars” by HEJ31

“Dm120-BreakfastJam” by Javolenus

“Impression” by Stefan Kartenberg

Photo Credit:

“Jeffrey Mine, Asbestos, QC, 1944” Source: Library and Archives Canada, Mikan 3197547


Kheraj, Sean. “Episode 55: Asbestos Mining and Environmental Health” Nature’s Past: Canadian Environmental History Podcast. 28 November 2016.

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Sean Kheraj

Associate Professor and Vice-Provost Academic at Toronto Metropolitan University
Sean Kheraj is a member of the executive committee of the Network in Canadian History and Environment. He's an associate professor in the Department of History and Vice-Provost Academic at Toronto Metropolitan University. His research and teaching focuses on environmental and Canadian history. He is also the host and producer of Nature's Past, NiCHE's audio podcast series and he blogs at

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