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Federal Labour Program - Hazard Alert Asbestos

Hazard Alert Asbestos published by Federal Labour Program Jan 19, 2017

Asbestos is a mineral that can be crumbled, pulverized or powdered when it is dry (friable) and will result in small fibres and clumps of fibres being released into the air. Inhaling airborne asbestos fibres poses a serious health concern and can cause:

Picture showing asbestos fibres in the workplace

Asbestosis (a disease that involves scarring of the lungs and makes breathing difficult);

Mesothelioma (cancer of the lining of the chest or stomach cavity); or

Many factors will determine how the exposure to asbestos will affect an individual such as the dose, duration, source, type of asbestos, and pre-existing health condition or smoking history (Smoking is considered to create a synergistic response with asbestos exposure. In other words, while both can cause lung cancer alone, together they increase the likelihood of it by more than double.). It is important to remember that it can take decades after the first exposure to asbestos fibres for the related cancer to develop.

Before 1990, asbestos was mainly used for insulating buildings and homes against cold

weather, noise, and for fireproofing. If your work place was built before 1990, it is likely it

contains some form of asbestos. Asbestos-containing material may be found sealed behind

walls and floorboards, in the attic, or tightly bound in the original product (i.e. insulation around pipes). Exposure to airborne asbestos fibres will not occur if the asbestos-containing material is left undisturbed.

Currently, some building materials that contain asbestos in a non-friable form (not easily

broken/crumble in to small pieces), such roofing shingles, house siding, and cement, are

allowed to be used in new housing and small building construction by the National Building Code.

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