In the Brazilian town of Minacu it used to snow, locals like to tell visitors. But the white powder that covered the streets and roofs from 1967 through the late 1980s was far from harmless snowflakes. It was a dangerous carcinogen: asbestos.

The “snow” is a memory from when the town’s chrysotile (known as white asbestos) mine lacked safety procedures to contain the powder and stop it spreading across the nearby urban area.

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