Some homeowners will attempt do-it-yourself renovations in their homes this winter, but before the sledgehammers swing, they should consider testing for asbestos.
In a survey conducted by the Saskatchewan Workers' Compensation Board in 2017, 88 per cent of Saskatchewan residents didn’t think they were at risk for asbestos exposure. Kevin Mooney, director of prevention with WCB said the danger is very real.
“Asbestos-related diseases are the leading causes of workplace deaths in Saskatchewan. Even over the last 10 years, 25 per cent of all workplace-related deaths were from asbestos exposure.” Mooney said.
He added that most people live in a house that could contain asbestos.
“If your house was built prior to 1990, there’s a good chance that you’ve got products in your home that contain asbestos,” Mooney said.
Mooney said a general rule of thumb is that if it’s not made of wood, glass or metal, it could contain asbestos and homeowners should be careful when working around the house. He said there are more than 3,000 products that contain asbestos.
“Some of the more common types would be insulation in your house, flooring products, decorative finishes on walls and ceilings, plaster, drywall compounds.”
Mooney said the best course of action if you find asbestos in your house is to call a professional.
“Hire someone who is trained to remove asbestos, because that’s when it becomes dangerous when you’re disrupting the material and it becomes airborne," he said.
Robert Smith is an asbestos mitigation expert based in Prince Albert. He said homeowners should be aware that there are three main categories of risk if asbestos is disturbed.
“The risk can be low like a floor tile or moderate like items around duct work,” Smith told paNOW. “And then there’s high risk like sheet-flooring, sprayed-on stipple ceiling, and granular attic insulation like vermiculite,” he said.
“When you release those asbestos fibres from these products you’re not getting rid of them; they‘ll settle on all the flat surfaces and on the floor where the kids play,” he said.
He said people need to understand the risks involved when dealing with these products.
He added the average vacuum cleaner will not do much to clean the fibres from the home if indeed you have disturbed them.
Exposure to asbestos can lead to various illnesses including types of lung cancer, asbestosis or mesothelioma.
To learn more about reducing your risk when dealing with asbestos visit WorkSafe Saskatchewan’s website.
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