At one of our recent Contractors’ Asbestos Awareness workshops, I realized how dangerous this substance can be for any renovator or contractor working on older homes. It hides, lying in wait. Once disturbed, it becomes dangerous and releases airborne fibres. Once these fibres are breathed in, they could well shorten your life, by causing asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma (cancer of the lining of the chest and or abdomen).
This highly toxic material was used widely in the construction industry until the 1980s. You are likely encountering it, whether you realize it or not. Asbestos hides in many places. You can find it in pre 1980 drywall joint compounds, in plaster walls, ceilings, in attics with vermiculite insulation, in cement shingles, acoustic tiles, textured ceiling pipe insulation, duct heating tape, soffits, light fixtures, caulking materials… literally hundreds of different home improvement products.
Ever see floor tiles in an older home that you are renovating, that look like they are in pristine condition after decades of use? Probably because they contain asbestos! It’s that durable.
There are legal requirements in each province on how to handle, work, remove and dispose of asbestos. The Ontario regulations are called: Designated Substances – Asbestos on Construction Projects and in Buildings and Repair Operations (Ontario regulation 278/05) This information is available from the Infrastructure Health & Safety Association (IHSA) which also publishes Asbestos: Controls for Construction, Renovation and Demolition (DS037). You can order this at the IHSA.
It’s time for contractors to get fully educated about asbestos and its dangers. There are different types of asbestos operations out there, classified as Type 1, Type 2 & Type 3. Courses on these are available from many organizations and most come with a certificate of course completion, including through us.
Our recent workshop presenter Rick Parsons talked about someone he knew in his early 50’s who recently died from cancer of the lining of the chest after inhaling asbestos fibres. He never even worked near this toxic substance in his shortened lifetime. The fibres were transported in his father’s clothing from his work. Once home he’d shake his clothes before putting them in to the laundry. Who know then what a legacy he would leave his son! Get educated now about the air you breathe.
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I recommend readers take a moment to view this short video produced by Work Safe British Columbia (http://youtu.be/jifoNSXvTuQ)