After complaints from healthcare officials, Health Canada has updated the information it provides to Canadians about the risks of asbestos, conceding that any exposure to the substance in any of its forms is dangerous, stating that any amount of asbestos inhalation can lead to “cancer and other diseases.”
Previously, the website used to state that asbestos can cause lung scarring when inhaled in “significant quantities,” and that the risk depended on how often and how long someone was exposed. Further, the site no longer states that chrysotile — the type of asbestos mined in Canada for decades – does less health damage than other types.
All Types of Asbestos are Dangerous
Describing chrysotile as being safer than other types of asbestos was a danger to public health, Director of UofT’s Occupational Cancer Research Centre, Paul Demers said. “It’s very important, because when a member of the public encounters asbestos, they don’t actually even know what kind of asbestos it is,” he said. “You have to treat all asbestos alike and equally hazardous in order to prevent disease.”
The changes come more than two years after the federal government announced it would no longer oppose international efforts to list chrysotile as a hazardous material. While that was seen as a landmark decision, since 2012, Health Canada’s website had not changed or been updated to note the government’s new position. The contentious lines have now been expunged from the website, reflecting the position held by medical bodies around the world that there is no safe amount of asbestos ingestion.
The Right Move
Demers applauded the decision, telling CTV News Channel: “I think it’s a very positive move by Health Canada, recognizing that all forms of asbestos cause cancer (and) lung disease.” Ian Culbert, executive director of The Canadian Public Health Association said in a statement: “We are relieved that Canada is beginning to fulfill its moral obligation, by recognizing the well-grounded evidence, to publicly acknowledge that breathing in asbestos fibres can cause cancer and other diseases. The Government of Canada has made a good ‘public health’ decision.”
Asbestos was once used widely as insulation, to fireproof buildings and homes, and to strengthen materials and make them fire-resistant. But its fibres can be easily inhaled and carried into the lower regions of the lung where they can cause a scarring condition called asbestosis, which increases the risk of lung cancer and mesothelioma.
The World Health Organization says that all types of asbestos can cause lung and throat cancers, and estimates that 125 million people are still exposed to the mineral in the workplace, with an estimated 107,000 people dying each year globally from asbestos-related disease.
Are You Concerned That Your Home Has Asbestos?
If you suspect that you house might have asbestos, you’re going to need professional help. Dealing with asbestos needs to be done properly, and there is no way to cut corners.
At Assurance Environmental Inspection Services, we have helped countless homeowners accurately identify whether they have asbestos, which in turn leads to asbestos removal recommendations. Our certified asbestos specialists will use state-of-the-art technology to properly detect and identify presumed asbestos containing material in your home, so you can confidently renovate and/or resell your home. Request a quote, and gain peace of mind (and a healthier home).