A Town Called Asbestos

  • Published on May 21, 2018
  • In Quebec, Canada, there's a town called Asbestos. It's an alarming name, one that conjures up images of lung disease and mesothelioma. So now that the town's asbestos mine, once the largest asbestos mine in the world, has closed... why haven't they changed the name?
    Dr Jessica van Horssen's book, "A Town Called Asbestos", was invaluable for my research. Its ISBN is 9780774828420, and it can be ordered from most libraries and bookstores.
    Her five-part TVclip series starts here: tvclip.biz/video/e-66yqehkza/video.html
    The Story of Asbestos (1922): archive.org/details/0929StoryOfAsbestos
    According to Plan: The Story of Modern Sidewalls for the Homes of America (1952): archive.org/details/Accordin1952
    The Gruen Transfer: How To Sell Asbestos, Canada: tvclip.biz/video/kipxelbki0i/video.html
    USGS public domain microscopy of asbestos: usgsprobe.cr.usgs.gov/picts2.html
    The Canadian parliament quote is an official Hansard translation from the original French: www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/eppp-archive/100/201/301/hansard-f/35-2/153_97-04-10/153SM1E.html#9543
    I'm at tomscott.com
    on Twitter at twitter.com/tomscott
    on Facebook at facebook.com/tomscott
    and on Snapchat and Instagram as tomscottgo

Comments • 1 298

  • Tom Scott
    Tom Scott  9 months ago +1029

    Pull down the description for all the references and sources I used in this video! And do research the history of Canada and asbestos; there's some quite dark decisions made there.

    • Tarek Grant
      Tarek Grant 3 months ago

      There is a town in Russia called Asbest where they still have an open asbestos mine which is the primary source of income for the town. The occupants walk around the area near the mine as if it's normal, the asbestos is also in the air but they refuse to close the mine, it's like propaganda took over common sense.

    • Jesus Christ
      Jesus Christ 8 months ago

      I was born there. My dad, my uncles, my grandpa worked at the mines and yes they used dynamite, so after the explosions, there was this cloud of Asbestos coming over the city. We are all still alive though.The mine is closed now and the economy is dead.

    • axolotllan
      axolotllan 8 months ago

      depends on where you are in the province how the french accent sways - same reason some towns have english names and others don't

    • Jonathan Cloutier
      Jonathan Cloutier 9 months ago

      that's a weird coment...

    • tangobob11
      tangobob11 9 months ago

      In french they don't call it asbestos but 'amiante' so it's kind of detached from the nastiness a bit.

  • The Gaming Channel
    The Gaming Channel 3 days ago

    Now Tom is full of asbestos

  • Bobby Watson
    Bobby Watson Month ago

    I go to the musical camp near Asbestos every year!

  • CR12
    CR12 Month ago

    As a rule of thumb, a 20th century industrial “miracle chemical” probably has some unforeseen effect that will badly mess things up, and you should stay as far away from it as possible.

  • Melias Clarkson
    Melias Clarkson 2 months ago

    I think the name could also act as a precautionary tale.

  • the phoenix 315
    the phoenix 315 2 months ago

    This title could be a film!

  • Luke Costello
    Luke Costello 2 months ago

    Maybe you'll have to do one on a town called "Coal"

  • Joshua Sweetvale
    Joshua Sweetvale 2 months ago +1

    Disgusting... No remorse, no regret. It's a great big middle finger to all the people they've victimized.
    NOTICE: My opinion, I know it's not common, but I have thought it through.

  • JacP
    JacP 2 months ago

    That quote, by the way, the one blowing off the dangers of Asbestos, the guy who said it eventually became our Prime Minister.

  • BiskviLover 3096
    BiskviLover 3096 3 months ago


  • MadocComadrin
    MadocComadrin 3 months ago

    0:25 Jam Handy!

  • Csanád Temesvári
    Csanád Temesvári 3 months ago

    "Of course they were polite, they're Canadian" lul

  • Z
    Z 3 months ago

    On peut pas changé Asbestos, c’est un symbole national

  • nddragoon
    nddragoon 4 months ago

    M E T A

  • yaggyplantationproductions

    I love you Tom.

  • Alex
    Alex 5 months ago

    Wait until you visit our towns "cancer", "itch", "coughingblood" and "Death". These places be cray.

  • The Truth
    The Truth 6 months ago

    very wellmade video, thanks

  • Darth Yoda
    Darth Yoda 6 months ago

    Tom I just love these little vids of yours. I always learn something new when watching them!!! :)

  • Oliver Walters
    Oliver Walters 6 months ago

    Jam handy!!!

  • mikeru99
    mikeru99 6 months ago

    Just noticed the archive footage came from Handy (Jam) Productions...call back to Citation Needed, Thomas Trueblood and Jam Handy!

  • Jace Fairis
    Jace Fairis 6 months ago

    I think this is Tom's meta-est video.

  • Marie-Andrée Fréchette

    Ahah i live in Asbestos 😂

  • Go MGTOW
    Go MGTOW 6 months ago

    I took a drive in my car to go see that town. It was okay, but its sort of a boring little place. Only interesting place to see is that overlook area above the open-pit mine. It would have helped if they had a 'chips' truck that sold freshly cooked french fries to the visitors that come to that attraction. But no, its is located in a residential area so such things are not allowed, you have to go back to the business section just to get something to eat.

  • TheEgg185
    TheEgg185 7 months ago +1

    So the town is more saddened by their mine being closed down than by all the problems they caused? They tried to downplay the effects of asbestos? A comedian making a joke about the town is the bad guy?

  • EebstertheGreat
    EebstertheGreat 7 months ago

    I like to see these types of pieces. I have basically no personal experience with mines, but it strikes me how quickly some people are willing to throw miners under the bus when they are no longer needed, even though the health effects were mostly suffered by miners and the blowback from regulations almost exclusively hurt them. These regulations were necessary (asbestos is definitely carcinogenic, after all), but they were rarely coupled with bills to help the people whose careers they destroyed. The country staked its very existence on people mining coal, asbestos, and other substances for many decades, only to discard them the way it does its war veterans. It's easy to understand the perspective that government regulations are unfair job-killing nonsense in this light.

  • LeadHammer
    LeadHammer 7 months ago

    One shot of the mine through the fence? Really?

  • Robert Butchko
    Robert Butchko 7 months ago

    There's another factor I'm thinking of, it's likely many people there have lost someone to mesothelioma. The name could be a kind of memorial too.

  • Thomas Joosten
    Thomas Joosten 7 months ago

    I grew up within five kilometers of a village called America.
    In case you were wondering, the name came from the German 'Am Erica', which means 'On the heath'. Why it's a German name I don't know, considering it's a place in the Netherlands.

  • Skader 44
    Skader 44 7 months ago

    Asbestos has a subway

  • TheBushdoctor68
    TheBushdoctor68 7 months ago

    Those town people are just doing asbestos they can.

  • sweiland75
    sweiland75 8 months ago

    As a Canadian, I can confirm that there are many strange place names here.
    Vulcan, Alberta
    Swastika, Ontario
    Dildo, Newfoundland and Labrador
    Newfoundland and Labrador also has many other interesting place names.

  • Fire Nation Files
    Fire Nation Files 8 months ago +1

    I didn't know what asbestos meant until now...

  • Ganonxx
    Ganonxx 8 months ago

    "There's so much asbestos in the air that children can write their name in it once it's settled." proceeds to inhale deeply

  • Baggy Trousers
    Baggy Trousers 8 months ago

    "They just make fun of it from the other side of the world"
    *Cuts to The Gruen Transfer an Australian discussion program about ADVERTISING*
    How about before throwing shade across the planet, why not go talk to the 3 remaining residents of the town of Wittenoom, Western Australia.

  • HansLemurson
    HansLemurson 8 months ago

    Asbestos is a term that describes more than one mineral, and as best as I can tell, the chrysotile (a kind of serpentine) mined there wasn't dangerous like the amphibole asbestos mined in other areas.

  • Brain Freeze
    Brain Freeze 8 months ago

    their parents, their granparents worked in the mines. I wonder how many of them succumbed to mesothelioma? Are there any stats?

  • Robert Ostman
    Robert Ostman 8 months ago

    a good way to get rid of it, could be to use it in the ablation shield of space ships that are to be made to stay always in space, thus that will never come back

  • Richard Emms
    Richard Emms 8 months ago +1

    Did you try asking them in French?

  • Ten Gallon Juice
    Ten Gallon Juice 8 months ago

    They were due to financial compensation

  • CaptHollister
    CaptHollister 8 months ago

    I spent a summer at the Jeffries mine in Asbestos as an IT consultant. While there, I had numerous conversations with an old-timer who had started working at the mine at the age of 16 and now, 47 years later, was looking forward to his retirement. He grew up there, his house, the clothes on his back, every meal he ever ate, were paid for by working at the mine. The mineral asbestos did not cause him because he knew there are different types of asbestos not all of which are equally dangerous. The name Asbestos had no particularly negative connotation for him. It's not surprising that residents voted against changing the town's name. Though many residents are bilingual and all of them know what it means, the town's name remains in a foreign language, so it doesn't raise any negative emotions in them. This is no different than some of our neighbours south of the border in the US who hail from towns originally named by French (or more often French Canadian) settlers, sometimes with ridiculous names, but whose names mean nothing to them.

  • Samantha Monaghan
    Samantha Monaghan 8 months ago

    Wait people still live there, is it safe? I heard there are cheap apartment buildings in Chernobyl.

  • Dan Severns
    Dan Severns 8 months ago

    If they did decide to change the name it would end up being something like Towny McTownface. Better to just leave it alone.

  • LexieAssassin
    LexieAssassin 8 months ago

    ...aaannnddd the EPA or whatever just removed asbestos from stuff they consider hazardous to human health... or something like that... >_

  • JoeBovan
    JoeBovan 8 months ago

    so i dont get it do they all just hold there breaths?
    asbestos is hard to say

  • Droidz tech
    Droidz tech 8 months ago

    There is one in Russia too isn't there?

  • pahaahv
    pahaahv 8 months ago

    There's also a town called Асбест (Asbest/Asbestos) in Russia. There's a documentary on Vice.

  • Deimos Phob
    Deimos Phob 8 months ago

    There is one named asbest in Russia that still mines asbestos

  • Tyler Furrison Tech
    Tyler Furrison Tech 8 months ago

    Surprisingly, no mesothelioma memes

  • Spade Monroe
    Spade Monroe 8 months ago

    This was a lot more depressing than I expected, and I'm not sure why I expected it to be anything but.

  • Jérôme Carrier
    Jérôme Carrier 8 months ago

    Please remember that NASA use asbestos... they tried to replace asbestos in the Challenger Shuttle... that blow off! Asbestos is dangerous, but it also can save lives such as fireman and astronaut....

  • Mirza Ahmed
    Mirza Ahmed 8 months ago

    Thanks for turning me on to The Gruen Transfer. Great programme.

  • Pealz Heer
    Pealz Heer 8 months ago

    Well, at least they're doing asbestos they can.

  • Event Hʘriךּon
    Event Hʘriךּon 8 months ago

    when your entire history is based on something, even if that something is proven hazardous, you still are attached to it. Its a lenghty and painful, slow process to disentangle the good memories from the bad, and to rebuild a heritage on more stable ground.

  • ZeZapatiste
    ZeZapatiste 8 months ago

    Funny how they used the English word for it and not "Amiante" as we say in French.

  • Cory Mck
    Cory Mck 8 months ago +1

    Closed in 2012? Sounds like capitalism to me.

  • Cory Mck
    Cory Mck 8 months ago +1

    This reminds me of those lawyer commercials that used to play all the time.

  • Gustav Thomsen
    Gustav Thomsen 8 months ago

    Hindsights 2020, just like the time I posted this comment.

  • Lambda Studios
    Lambda Studios 8 months ago

    Cave Johnson would love this

  • Lord LunaEquie is me
    Lord LunaEquie is me 8 months ago

    I've been kind of melancholy and self-reflective these last two weeks, so seeing you be a little self-reflective was nice.

  • Russell Thompson
    Russell Thompson 8 months ago

    Next, go to Hell, Michigan. Hell does freeze over every year

  • heydoeradio
    heydoeradio 8 months ago

    It's not anywhere near the same level but you'll take the piss out of scunthorpe but not asbestos

  • Duskpede
    Duskpede 8 months ago

    ha! that small gruen roast... wait how do you know about gruen?

  • KendrickMan
    KendrickMan 8 months ago

    Thank you for giving an honest, fair take from the town's perspective. I know a lot of folks don't dig deep enough before they comment, myself included. Kudos

  • Noni Mulyana
    Noni Mulyana 8 months ago

    They don't speak English there? 🤔

  • del trotts
    del trotts 8 months ago

    Dozey canucks.

  • Benjamin Hershey
    Benjamin Hershey 8 months ago +1

    They're just trying to live life asbestos they can

  • Hari Chauhan
    Hari Chauhan 8 months ago

    sounds like a tribe tribute group

  • jax1492
    jax1492 8 months ago

    vice ruined it

  • Thalass
    Thalass 8 months ago

    I dunno why Gruen took the piss like that, we have our own towns that mined asbestos with the same disastrous health problems for the townsfolk. :(

  • Wilbur Demitel
    Wilbur Demitel 8 months ago

    Good, good, now i need a town called "Cancer".

  • emilsharafiev
    emilsharafiev 8 months ago

    There are also several towns called Asbestos in Russia

  • Patchouli Colt
    Patchouli Colt 8 months ago

    Well this sure sounds like the Communist Russia regime about the town called Asbest - no one will have really talk to you at all about asbestos, except that it's wonderful

  • Cor Blimey
    Cor Blimey 8 months ago

    What an interesting and well made video

  • Louis Jovanovich
    Louis Jovanovich 8 months ago

    "They were polite!, They're Canadian..."

  • RuneR96
    RuneR96 8 months ago

    Did you try to talk to them in French?

  • Normad
    Normad 8 months ago

    Which aspestos?

  • Grindstone
    Grindstone 8 months ago

    I like the self-awareness this went into.

  • Joseph Berrigan
    Joseph Berrigan 8 months ago

    You do a video on Centralia, Pennsylvania?

  • BlueHen123
    BlueHen123 8 months ago

    They should change the town name to Bitcoin

  • misium
    misium 8 months ago

    Asbest, a town in Russia is still a place of active asbestos mining, together with an effective cover up operation for its health consequences.

  • Qackydontus
    Qackydontus 8 months ago

    Do a video on Hurr Durr

  • Kastro44
    Kastro44 8 months ago

    Since I'm Spanish and English is not my native language, there's something in "Asbestos" to make fun of? Seems like a normal name to me (Pd: I had no idea what asbestos was when started the video, after description of the mineral I realized that it is what we call in Spanish "Amianto" (Derived from french)

  • Vehement ShortFuZe
    Vehement ShortFuZe 8 months ago

    yo dude they stealin ur title

  • Czeckie
    Czeckie 8 months ago

    "economics, the desire for profit" oh, you mean the unhinged immoral capitalism

  • Tom Linke
    Tom Linke 8 months ago

    They should rename their town to "Cancer Dust".

  • TheTNTerminator
    TheTNTerminator 8 months ago

    You should go to Fly Geyser in Nevada, USA. It looks absolutely alien.

  • Midgard Eagle
    Midgard Eagle 8 months ago

    I get why they don't change the name. It's history, it's a legacy. Changing it is almost like sweeping it under the rug or something.

  • Hippo-Drones
    Hippo-Drones 8 months ago

    crazy innit how business makes health such a low valued issue!

  • Tobias Brohl
    Tobias Brohl 8 months ago

    In Berlin there is the Asbestweg. A friend of mine lived there.

  • Robert Pirlot
    Robert Pirlot 9 months ago

    Sounds like the SAME BS that the Southern Americans try to defend the right to own and have statues for slavery. They fight the right to be ignorant.

  • Dane Byrd
    Dane Byrd 9 months ago

    2012?!? What modern uses exist for asbestos that justify keeping the mine open until 2012?

  • Wires Dawson
    Wires Dawson 9 months ago

    Love the twist in this one, and I have respect for your humility too. Thank you for such a deep video.

  • Mikhail Gorbachev
    Mikhail Gorbachev 9 months ago

    Trust me it's because they're French Canadian. Not all French Canadians respond to English people because it pollutes their culture. in Quebec is Language synonymous with culture.

  • Rekless Echo
    Rekless Echo 9 months ago

    If they don't want to answer questions all the time that could just post a FAQ

  • Nutterz6
    Nutterz6 9 months ago

    Wow, never expected to see Adam Hills* on one of your videos.

    *Running joke that Wil Anderson and Adam Hills looks somewhat alike get confused for one another.

  • Obani
    Obani 9 months ago

    But do they have the best toast?

  • Keera Ann Fox
    Keera Ann Fox 9 months ago

    This is why I've subscribed to your channel. You educate without cheap laughs or sarcasm, and you show respect for your subject. Thank you, Tom!

  • JonatasAdoM
    JonatasAdoM 9 months ago

    I thought asbestos was some kind of food ingredient...

  • Alice Pope-Terry
    Alice Pope-Terry 9 months ago

    I think the people who live there would be really thankful with the respect that you payed them in this video.

  • Cats Are Rubbish
    Cats Are Rubbish 9 months ago

    Huh, weird! I literally spotted this just the other day while playing Geoguessr