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Explore the data and details behind The Globe's project on the dangers of asbestos

John Nolan age 67 and his helped by his wife of 34-years Christine Nolan put on a shirt. John just had his lung removed this year after being diagnosed with mesothelioma, a cancer that is only caused by exposure to asbestos. Since his illness he has lost alot of weight and frequently finds himself cold. John is seen at his home in Stevensville, Ontario. John was exposed to asbestos while a renovation was being done beside his office at a building in Windsor, Ontario in the 1980's. Photo taken May 25, 2014.

Louie Palu/The Globe and Mail

The Globe's asbestos project, No safe use, is the result of two-and-a-half months of reporting and research, put together by a team at The Globe and Mail. Its genesis began with a simple question: what is the most common reason for work-related deaths in Canada? Asbestos was the surprise result.

Most coverage about asbestos petered out when the last Canadian mine closed in 2011. This story set out to look at the mineral's legacy.

We began with workplace death statistics. This data was compiled for the Globe and Mail by the Association of Workers Compensation Boards of Canada (at a total cost of $255). The data set runs from 2007 to 2012, which is the most recent year for which national data is available. This is the most complete information available on work-related deaths in Canada.

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But there are limitations: not everyone is covered by workers' comp. Coverage also varies by province. Not everyone bothers to makes a claim. And not all claims are successful, which means they are not counted in the statistics. More details on WSIB definitions and data can be found here.

Download the full datasets:

No safe use: The Canadian asbestos epidemic that Ottawa is ignoring

Canada's embrace of the "miracle mineral" has seeded an epidemic of cancers. Yet many Canadians are still exposed to asbestos every day. Don't look to Ottawa for help — it's still defending an industry that, like its victims, is wasting away. Read the full story, then share your thoughts in the comments.

Next we wanted to know if asbestos was still showing up in trade data — Canada's imports and exports. This data was compiled for The Globe and Mail by Statistics Canada (specifically, its international accounts and trade division). It captures all imports and exports of raw asbestos and products containing asbestos shipped from 2004 to 2013.

For cancer statistics, mesothelioma deaths are taken from Statistics Canada CANSIM table 102-0522 for 2000 to 2011, the most recent year for which data is available. For the number of new cases of mesothelioma, we used CANSIM table 103 0553 (it shows 512 new cases for the most recent year).

As for reporting, this story is based on about 50 interviews with doctors, mesothelioma patients, health and safety workers, lawyers for mesothelioma victims and/or their families, government officials, union representatives, victims' families and business owners in four countries.

For those wanting to learn more about asbestos and asbestos-related diseases, here is some further reading:


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