Creation, Mandate, Securites


The creation of the National Asbestos Observatory (ONA) is a measure foreseen in Action Plan 2022-2025 – “Asbestos and asbestos mining tailings in Quebec: towards the transformation of a liability into a sustainable asset”.

This Action Plan of the Government of Quebec was developed in response to the recommendations issued by the Office of Public Hearings on the Environment (BAPE) in the Investigative and Public Hearing report No. 351 – The state of the areas and management of asbestos and asbestos tailings.

The report states that “there is a social consensus on the relevance of the recovery of asbestos tailings, but it (the Board of Inquiry) is of the opinion that this recovery should be carried out under strict conditions that would ensure the protection of human health and the environment. ” The Board of Inquiry also states that “scientific knowledge about the environmental impacts of AMR and health is very limited, and monitoring is only fragmentary.” The Commission has therefore decided that research on the impact of asbestos tailings on ecosystems and public health needs to to be significantly increased.

The National Asbestos Observatory is under the responsibility of the Ministry of Economy, Innovation and Energy in order to coordinate research on the health and environmental impacts of the presence and handling of asbestos mine tailings as well as other asbestos-containing products, with a view towards sustainable socioeconomic development of regions that once operated asbestos mines and, more generally, Quebec.


The ONA was established to coordinate research on the impacts of the presence and handling of asbestos mine tailings and other asbestos-containing products on air quality, the environment, the health of populations and workers, and the quality of life of communities.

This mandate includes:

  • Determining best practices for processing and handling asbestos mining residues in the workplace and in the community
  • Scientific monitoring regarding the characterization of dumps, the determination of air, water and soil quality as well as the assessment of risks for health and the environment
  • Acting as an ambassador for Québec on the international stage regarding health and environmental issues related to asbestos
  • Supporting the economic transition of former asbestos-producing regions in the north and south of Quebec.

The ONA's mission is to develop knowledge about the impacts on:

  • The environment and ecosystems 
  • The health of population (communities and individuals)
  • The quality of life and sustainable development of communities

These impacts can result from the dispersion of asbestos in the environment (air, water, soil), produced by the natural or anthropogenic mobilization of asbestos mine tailing or materials containing asbestos.

Mobilization and recovery activities can cause asbestos fibers to be dispersed into the environment. This dispersion can also be caused by natural phenomena, such as the erosion of soils and dumps by winds and rain.



These values apply to the choice of research axes, subjects, and methodology, and also to the publishing of results, which must be mainly due to the concern for the advancement of knowledge, without taking into account the influence that political organizations, groups, or individuals working in their own interests might exert. Integrity is reflected in ethical behavior and responsible conduct at all stages of research, particularly in the collection, analysis, and retention of data when sharing knowledge. 


Transparency involves open communication based on relevant, complete, and accessible information, in accordance with the rules of confidentiality. Through the sharing of clear and rigorous information, it encourages collaboration between organizations, groups or individuals from diverse backgrounds and interests. Through mutual understanding of issues, transparency contributes to the establishment of consensual practices. It builds trust, particularly between communities and governments. It is a guarantee of integrity. When there is transparency of information and of decisions made within an organization, the sharing of information at all levels is ensured and this contributes to the motivation and involvement of all to fulfill the mandate of the NAO. 


These values are essential to the enrichment of knowledge. They underline the importance of exchanges between different sectors of society, but also between the different research disciplines involved. They imply taking into account and allowing access to a diversity of views based on a variety of cultural and generational benchmarks, technological and social knowledge, methodological approaches, etc. in relation to different sectors of society. In order to develop a dynamic which is conducive to the emergence of innovation and improvement of practices, these values support the establishment of conditions of openness, respect, and benevolence in exchanges