Did you know this week (April 30-May 4) is air quality awareness week?

Air quality might not be something that is on your mind all the time, but it really should be, as polluted air can be dangerous to your health.

In our line of work, we come across mould and asbestos a lot, and if not properly removed it can damage the quality of the air in your home.

Many people are aware of what mould is and how if the spores become airborne it can be a health hazard. Asbestos is similar, but less people are able to even identify what asbestos is.

What is Asbestos?

A naturally-occurring, fibrous silicate mineral, asbestos has been mined for centuries. Asbestos is most commonly found in homes and building structures, as it was used as insulation, in tile and flooring, pipes, wiring and adhesives.

Does My Home Have Asbestos?

Any structure built before 1980 does run the risk of containing asbestos, as it was not phased out in North America until then. Although Canada is set to ban asbestos outright in 2018, the United States and the Environmental Protection Agency are still determining its public health risk factor.

What to do if you find Asbestos?

If you suspect a building may contain asbestos, do NOT try and handle the abatement and removal yourself. OSHA has stated that there is no safe level of exposure to asbestos, and any exposure will be severely detrimental to one’s health. Due to very stringent laws and procedures for the removal of hazardous materials, you should only use a licensed and bonded agency or contractor. Many agencies perform asbestos tests and have the capabilities of not only determining if your home or dwelling houses the deadly substance, but also how much is present. Anything that is tested and contains over .05%. asbestos must be abated as per WorkSafeBC procedures and protocols.

The dangers of Asbestos

Nearly 80% of all mesothelioma cases are caused by direct exposure to asbestos. The substance’s crystalline structure causes it to disintegrate and break up into small fragments, most of the time appearing as a dust. Yet, in many cases, small asbestos fibers won’t even appear visible to the naked eye. As this particulate matter is inhaled, it becomes lodged in the lining of the lungs, stomach, and heart. Mesothelioma does require an official diagnosis, which can often come about in the cancer’s later stages. The disease general takes several decades to manifest and produce symptoms. Due to the disease’s rarity and common symptoms, misdiagnosis and/or late-stage diagnosis does happen fairly often. Mesothelioma does have few survivors, but the cancer is extremely deadly. Prognosis rates for those diagnosed are anywhere from 12-21 months, with most patients succumbing to their illness within two years maximum. Symptoms of mesothelioma include shortness of breath, chest pain, nausea, weight loss, and fatigue. While tradesmen, veterans, and construction workers are historically the most susceptible demographics to mesothelioma, the disease is making appearances in younger people in recent years. This can be attributed to secondhand exposure to asbestos, in many cases from clothing or buildings covered in asbestos dust.

If you think you have asbestos in your home, call the professionals right away to have a sample tested, it’s not worth the risks of disrupting the air quality in your home.