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 • 1 282

  • Tom Scott
    Tom Scott  Year ago +1110

    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 6 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 11 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 11 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 Year ago

      that's a weird coment...

    • tangobob11
      tangobob11 Year ago

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

  • Dan Siegel
    Dan Siegel 3 days ago

    I feel like once you mentioned that the mine only just closed in 2012, every connotation and preconception I had here flew out the window and the whole angle of the story changes

  • Epic fortnitegamer 8657

    I got an ad before this about a law ferm and it was about somebody getting mesothelioma from asbestos so they sued 😂

  • Yürüyen Ansiklopedi

    entire town is a clickbait

  • Ark Lyak
    Ark Lyak 15 days ago

    They were polite of course. They were Canadian.
    -Tom Scott
    This is too funny 😂

  • Nathan McGill 79
    Nathan McGill 79 18 days ago

    Asbestos the Bestos

  • Go MGTOW
    Go MGTOW 22 days ago

    I visited that town back in 2013. I did not want to risk breathing in any Asbestos fibers. It's really hard to hold your breath for 30 minutes !

  • Der Nerd
    Der Nerd 24 days ago

    it's sad that our organs can't cope with asbestos dust, it has so interesting propetys. If we could use it safely that would be kinda awsome. It's cheap, easily usable and a realy good insulant that can't catch fire. Awsome, if it wouldn't cause cancer

  • Menace
    Menace 29 days ago

    As a Canadian myself, I think we are a little bit too polite xd

  • pentolp
    pentolp 29 days ago

    "They were polite of course, they were Canadian"

  • SupermaxLaFrom
    SupermaxLaFrom Month ago

    I've lived near that town for 25 years and the 2 real reasons why we don't care about that name are that we speak french and asbestos only refers to that town to us and it has been called that for as long as we remember. You would not change London's name if it meant cigarette even tho we now know that it is unhealthy.

  • Leafy Fox-Vee
    Leafy Fox-Vee Month ago

    Wait, a video on my city? Really? :DD I didn't see you last year o.o That's sad :c

  • Canadian ODST 2
    Canadian ODST 2 Month ago

    I mean, it's the same country with a town called Swastika

  • D8W2P4
    D8W2P4 Month ago

    Meanwhile Silicosis is a thing caused by the second most common element in Earth's crust.

  • Frédéricu Bourque
    Frédéricu Bourque Month ago +1

    I live there

  • Xx[Beat It]xX
    Xx[Beat It]xX Month ago


  • 6 6
    6 6 Month ago

    It can't be bad, it's got best right in the name.

  • William Boucher
    William Boucher Month ago

    1:32 that's a bit ironic as it translates roughly as "to live healthily"

  • Brendan Simonis
    Brendan Simonis Month ago

    Isn't there a city in Russia called Asbestos? Cause Vice did a documentary about it.

  • Civis Hamburgensis
    Civis Hamburgensis Month ago

    Is the town worth a visit?

  • Kingstad
    Kingstad Month ago

    What?! It only closed in 2012? There must have been some reasonable uses for Asbestos then?

  • TheLongDark
    TheLongDark Month ago

    0:03 "Pour y vivre pleinement". "To live fully". Ironic, in a town called Asbestos.

  • elg gg
    elg gg Month ago

    my grand grand father and my grand father died in this mine i was born there

  • Roger C
    Roger C 2 months ago


  • Aiden Warren
    Aiden Warren 2 months ago

    Australia has ghost mining called whittenome

  • Irishman under Your Bed

    So it’s kind of like name a town coal or gold

  • unicornlord
    unicornlord 2 months ago

    just down the road is the possum lodge.

  • MrEndzo
    MrEndzo 2 months ago

    My family is from Asbestos and i don't know anyone who died from asbestos caused cancer...

  • Braden Ripple
    Braden Ripple 2 months ago

    well clearly you tried as best as you could!

  • Nick Scurvy
    Nick Scurvy 3 months ago


  • The Gaming Channel
    The Gaming Channel 3 months ago

    Now Tom is full of asbestos

  • Bobby Watson
    Bobby Watson 4 months ago

    I go to the musical camp near Asbestos every year!

  • CR12
    CR12 5 months 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 5 months ago

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

  • the phoenix 315
    the phoenix 315 5 months ago

    This title could be a film!

  • Luke Costello
    Luke Costello 5 months ago

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

  • Joshua Sweetvale
    Joshua Sweetvale 5 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 6 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 6 months ago


  • MadocComadrin
    MadocComadrin 6 months ago

    0:25 Jam Handy!

  • Csanád Temesvári
    Csanád Temesvári 6 months ago

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

  • Z
    Z 6 months ago

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

  • nddragoon
    nddragoon 7 months ago

    M E T A

  • yaggyplantationproductions

    I love you Tom.

  • Alex
    Alex 8 months ago

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

  • The Truth
    The Truth 9 months ago

    very wellmade video, thanks

  • Darth Yoda
    Darth Yoda 9 months ago

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

  • Oliver Walters
    Oliver Walters 9 months ago

    Jam handy!!!

  • mikeru99
    mikeru99 9 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 9 months ago

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

  • Marie-Andrée Fréchette
    Marie-Andrée Fréchette 10 months ago

    Ahah i live in Asbestos 😂

  • Go MGTOW
    Go MGTOW 10 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.

  • The Egg
    The Egg 10 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 10 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 10 months ago

    One shot of the mine through the fence? Really?

  • Robert Butchko
    Robert Butchko 10 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 10 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 10 months ago

    Asbestos has a subway

  • TheBushdoctor68
    TheBushdoctor68 11 months ago

    Those town people are just doing asbestos they can.

  • sweiland75
    sweiland75 11 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 11 months ago +1

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

  • Ganonxx
    Ganonxx 11 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 11 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 11 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 11 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 11 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 11 months ago +1

    Did you try asking them in French?

  • Ten Gallon Juice
    Ten Gallon Juice 11 months ago

    They were due to financial compensation

  • CaptHollister
    CaptHollister 11 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 11 months ago

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

  • Dan Severns
    Dan Severns 11 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 11 months ago

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

  • Droidz tech
    Droidz tech 11 months ago

    There is one in Russia too isn't there?

  • pahaahv
    pahaahv 11 months ago

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

  • Deimos Phob
    Deimos Phob 11 months ago

    There is one named asbest in Russia that still mines asbestos

  • Tyler Furrison Tech
    Tyler Furrison Tech 11 months ago

    Surprisingly, no mesothelioma memes

  • Spade Monroe
    Spade Monroe 11 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 11 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 11 months ago

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

  • Pealz Heer
    Pealz Heer 11 months ago

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

  • Event Hʘriךּon
    Event Hʘriךּon 11 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 11 months ago

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

  • Cory Mck
    Cory Mck 11 months ago +1

    Closed in 2012? Sounds like capitalism to me.

  • Cory Mck
    Cory Mck 11 months ago +1

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

  • Gustav Thomsen
    Gustav Thomsen 11 months ago

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

  • Lambda Studios
    Lambda Studios 11 months ago

    Cave Johnson would love this

  • Lord LunaEquie is me
    Lord LunaEquie is me 11 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 11 months ago

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

  • heydoeradio
    heydoeradio 11 months ago

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

  • Duskpede
    Duskpede 11 months ago

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

  • KendrickMan
    KendrickMan 11 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 11 months ago

    They don't speak English there? 🤔

  • del trotts
    del trotts 11 months ago

    Dozey canucks.

  • Benjamin Hershey
    Benjamin Hershey 11 months ago +1

    They're just trying to live life asbestos they can

  • Hari Chauhan
    Hari Chauhan 11 months ago

    sounds like a tribe tribute group

  • jax1492
    jax1492 11 months ago

    vice ruined it

  • Thalass
    Thalass 11 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 11 months ago

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

  • emilsharafiev
    emilsharafiev 11 months ago

    There are also several towns called Asbestos in Russia

  • Patchouli Colt
    Patchouli Colt Year 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