Asbestos, a Dangerous Designated Substance Not Visible to the Eye

Three images of vermiculite samples, air sampling, and microscope analysis of air sample for asbestos

In a recent article, Asbestos Exposure is Still Making People Sick,  CNN reportes that the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention continue to see people suffer asbestos-related medical issues.

In Ontario, Designated Substances are defined as “a biological, chemical or physical agent to which the exposure of a worker is prohibited, regulated, restricted, limited or controlled.” Asbestos is one of 17 designated substances that present health and environmental risks. It can be found in a variety of everyday materials that may be present inside your work and home environment like vinyl sheet flooring, vinyl floor tiles, plaster, vermiculite insulation, ceiling tiles, drywall joint compound, and sealants.  It’s fibres are smaller than the diametre of human hair and even smaller than glass fibre. The risk for exposure and inhalation increase when the fibres are disturbed and exposed to air through the poor condition of the material, demolition/construction, or regular maintenance.

A problem with illnesses related to asbestos is the latency period. It takes a long time for the effects of asbestos exposure to develop and is hard to determine when the exposure happened to an individual.  In Ontario, asbestos is a designated substance and governed under the Occupational Health and Safety Act, Regulation 278/05, Asbestos on Construction Projects and In Buildings and Repair operations.  It is important for businesses to have a non-intrusive compliance survey completed for the health and safety of your employees.  If the presence of asbestos is confirmed, a management plan is required to provide instructions and training for staff and maintenance on the proper procedures to prevent fibres and asbestos containing materials (ACM) from being exposed in the work environment.

Additionally, prior to any renovation or demolition, business and home owners hiring an independent contractor are required to complete an intrusive survey to determine the presence of materials which may be uncovered during those activities. Tearing down walls, removing ceiling tiles or insulation – these types of actions can disturb and release ACM fibres into the air.  It is always best to put the safety of your family, employees, and contractors first to ensure they are not exposed to this designated substance.

The removal, disposal and management of the asbestos abatement should be done by qualified professionals. Cambium specializes in Designated Substances Surveys (DSS), Asbestos and Hazardous Material Assessments. If you have any concerns or have questions, Cambium can assess and test for designated substances and develop an abatement plan to manage the removal.

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