Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral which contains strong fibers and was used in many buildings from the 1950s to the 1990s. Asbestos contains tiny fibers which are released throughout the air and when breathed in, they can get trapped into the lungs and can cause serious health problems in the future.
Asbestos was used for:
- Insulation for houses
- Boilers, tanks and pipes
- Sheet flooring
- Floor tiles
- Decorative finishes on walls and ceilings
For more information on Asbestos, go to the following link: https://asbestos.ccohs.ca/
Asbestos-related lung diseases are preventable, yet, asbestos remains the leading cause of work-related deaths in Saskatchewan.
Mesothelioma and other asbestos-related lung diseases were responsible for approximately 25% of the 299 workplace fatalities accepted by the Saskatchewan WCB in the last decade (2010-2017).
Occupational disease is the cause of many workplace fatalities in the province of Saskatchewan. In particular, mesothelioma and other asbestos-related lung diseases were responsible for approximately 25% of the 299 fatalities accepted by the Saskatchewan WCB in the last decade (2010-2017). In 2017, 27 fatalities were accepted by the WCB and roughly half were the result of occupational disease.
“Asbestos becomes dangerous when disturbed in some way. If materials containing asbestos are old and crumbly or these materials are damaged during a renovation, the dangerous asbestos fibers can fill the air. These fibers are invisible, so can be inhaled without even noticing. The fibers are durable and the human body can’t defend itself against them” (Haas, 2017 mesothelioma.com).
“Asbestos fibers stick to the linings of the lungs, abdomen, or heart and cause great damage over time. Exposure to the toxin can lead to lung cancer, asbestosis, and mesothelioma. Symptoms aren’t typically realized until 20 – 50 years after exposure, and even then the symptoms can easily be confused for other illnesses” (Haas, 2017 mesothelioma.com).
Asbestos-related lung diseases are preventable, yet, asbestos remains the leading cause of work-related deaths in Saskatchewan. While many of these asbestos-related diseases are from past practices, decades ago, actions can be taken today to reduce the exposure to this hazard.
In 2018, WorkSafe Saskatchewan implemented an outreach and communication program aimed at reducing occupational disease and death caused by exposure to asbestos in residential demolition and renovation projects.
ARE YOU AT RISK?
A majority of homes in Saskatchewan were built before 1980, which means these homes likely contain asbestos. However, very few Saskatchewan residents can identify one (1) example of where asbestos could be present in a residential property.
“Asbestos was heavily used in construction through the 1970s, so homes built before 1980 are likely to have asbestos-containing materials somewhere. It was used in all kinds of building materials from concrete and caulk to insulation and roofing shingles. This means asbestos can potentially be anywhere in the home” (Haas, 2017 mesothelioma.com).
Protect yourself, your co-workers & your family
Educate yourself on the risks of asbestos. The following are just a few resources:
From WorkSafe Saskatchewan
From CCOHS and the Saskatchewan Construction Safety Association
- Asbestos – What is…
- Asbestos – Control Strategies for Workplaces
- Asbestos – Health Effects
- Asbestos – In the Home
- Vermiculite insulation containing asbestos
- Asbestos chemical profile