While most people are well aware of the health hazards of asbestos, not many people know that asbestos is NOT banned in Canada.
This means that Canadians have to take extra precautions in their everyday lives to avoid products that may contain asbestos and prevent asbestos exposure.
Another surprising fact is that there are actually six different types of asbestos. They are:
- Chrysotile (“white asbestos” – typically found in roofs, ceilings, insulation and floors)
- Amosite (“brown asbestos” – common in cement sheets, insulation, tiles and roofing materials)
- Crocidolite (“blue asbestos” – common in insulation, ceiling tiles and cement products)
- Tremolite (contaminant of vermiculite insulation, talc, paints, sealants and roofing materials)
- Anthophyllite (most frequently found in composite flooring)
- Actinolite (found in insulation, gardening and fireproofing materials)
Of these, chrysotile is the most commonly used form of asbestos while crocidolite is the most dangerous.
Health effects of asbestos exposure
Asbestos has been classified as a known human carcinogen by the EPA, the International Agency for Research on Cancer and multiple other international organizations.
However, studies suggest that the different types of asbestos have different effects on health. For example, it may take less exposure to amphibole asbestos to cause mesothelioma than it would with chrysotile asbestos.
Even so, research has proven that exposure to chrysotile, the most commonly used type of asbestos, can lead to serious health conditions, such as increasing a person’s risk of developing asbestosis, lung cancer, mesothelioma, and other cancers.
So how does a person get exposed to asbestos? Most often, exposure occurs when a product that contains asbestos is disturbed, releasing tiny asbestos fibres into the air. These fibres can then be easily inhaled and get trapped in the lungs. Over time, they accumulate and cause scarring, inflammation of the lungs, breathing difficulties and cancer.
Asbestos regulations in Canada
While asbestos is banned in more than 50 countries (including the entire European Union), Canada is still resisting the ban. A likely reason for this is the Canada’s 100-million-dollar asbestos industry, which has been around since the 1800s.
As such, Canada has one of the highest rates of mesothelioma cancer in the world. Experts say that about 2.1 out of every 100,000 Canadians are diagnosed each year with the aggressive disease.
The Canadian government has, however, imposed some regulations on asbestos use. According to Health Canada, “The sale of pure asbestos and certain high-risk consumer products that are composed of or contain asbestos fibres is strictly regulated under the Hazardous Products Act.”
If you have any further questions about asbestos use in Canada or if you are worried about asbestos in your home or office, contact Mold Busters and schedule an asbestos test today.