Because of its unique qualities such as resistance to heat, fire, wear or chemicals, asbestos used to be a very popular material – until a short time ago.
For a long time, people used to create a lot of things out of asbestos, such as building material, clothes or toys. But then, some 50 years ago, it was found out that it was poisonous. Asbestos poisoning – what is it actually? The advantage and curse of asbestos at the same time is its durability, which has been exploited in many industries. A human body has no way of getting rid of asbestos, once it happens to be present.
If asbestos is part of some material, as long as it stays in it, it is harmless. The more imminent danger comes from inhaling the tiny needle-like asbestos fibers, when they get airborne. The trouble with asbestos poisoning is that its primary symptoms such as dry cough, tightness in the chest or shortness of breath are the same as the symptoms of a lot of less serious diseases. Unfortunately, asbestos poisoning has also quite a long latency period. Therefore the true reason of the patient’s problems is often found out too late.
Asbestosis, mesothelioma or lung cancer – these are the most common diseases connected to asbestos poisoning. The lungs of an asbestosis patient are trying to get rid of the asbestos fibers and they produce an acid that harms the tissue which then hardens. Finally, breathing becomes very difficult for the patient. Mesothelioma is a sort of cancer that affects the outer lung lining. There is presently no known cure for this disease. A person can get mesothelioma from being exposed to asbestos poisoning for only a very brief period or even accidentally, which is a major difference from asbestosis. More than 50 percent of all deaths from asbestos poisoning was evoked by asbestos-induced lung cancer. However, if the diagnosis is determined correctly and the patient commences the treatment early, he/she is quite likely to have an active life for many years after.
Asbestos in Canada: Canada used to be one of the most important asbestos producers and still supports its use in less dangerous variations and mines in Quebec are still operating. Nearly all office and public buildings or schools built before the 1980s used asbestos for thermal, fire and sound insulation. The people who were most ‘at risk’ were mostly the workers installing asbestos materials, especially in cases where health and safety instructions were ignored. Then the dust from the installation process could escape into the air and people were breathing in the poisonous toxins. Canada still hasn’t banned the use of asbestos. However, improvements have been made – Ontario banned using asbestos as insulation back in 1973. Local governments have been making an effort to get rid of this material from public buildings and any work that involves either installing or removing it is governed by very stringent regulations.
Asbestos in Toronto: What concerns asbestos in buildings, Ontario has very severe rules, especially since 2007. Landlords have to submit any strange material deteriorating in the building for examination. There are professional companies that can remove the asbestos safely, if its presence is found out. If it is found out that the deterioration might continue, the professionals will remove the whole affected area, again following strict safety rules.
The most common use of asbestos in non-domestic buildings: – insulation on pipes – ceiling tiles – panels boards – cement panels – sprayed coatings on walls – asbestos ropes and cloth – textures coating The most common use of asbestos in residential homes in Toronto: – exterior surfaces: deck undersheeting, roof felt and shingles, window putty – all kinds of insulation – flooring: vinyl asbestos sheets, tiles and undersheeting – interior surface: sprayed-on acoustic ceilings, acoustic tiles – appliances: water heaters, range hoods, clothes dryers and dishwashers A sufficient solution for the whole problem of asbestos hasn’t been discovered yet. We all still recall the Sunrise Propane blast from last year. Five streets were hit by asbestos debris and 3000 residents had to leave their homes until a complete and careful clear up of the area. Local governments are still fighting with the danger posed by asbestos. But it is very difficult to quantify how risky asbestos actually is. One of the reasons why it is so difficult is the fact that only 0.5% of asbestos in material is considered as poisonous.
Therefore, whenever you have even the smallest suspicion that your property may be affected, ask for a home inspection by a qualified professional (you can easily find list of companies doing it in Ontario region). Never try to deal with suspect material on your own!
Julie Kinnear has been helping people in Toronto sell and buy their homes for the last 13 years. She knows her city inside out and has been an award winning realtor for many year. To find out more about real estate in Toronto, visit http://www.juliekinnear.com.
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