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Mesothelioma is an incurable cancer that affects the respiratory system and is almost exclusively caused by asbestos exposure. Mesothelioma does not only impact those directly involved in the building trades but it can also effect non-trade occupations. This type of cancer has been named the ‘invisible’ epidemic because of the long dormancy period. The symptoms of disease from asbestos exposure often appear 20 to 40 years later.

Along with mesothelioma, asbestos exposure can also cause asbestosis. Asbestosis is fibrosis of the lungs, which causes breathing difficulties. Exposure to asbestos has also been found to cause asbestos-related diseases such as lung cancer and pleural plaque-a disease where calcification occurs on the lungs.

Despite the facts, the Canadian government has determined that asbestos can be safe and continues to import asbestos products. Canada only stopped mining and exporting asbestos in 2011. However, international doctors and researchers maintain their belief that asbestos is extremely harmful as do 52 countries including Australia, Japan, Sweden and the United Kingdom which have banned the import and export of asbestos.

According to Dr. Paul Demers a University of Toronto professor in public health and Dr. Ann Del Bianco, claims for mesothelioma cases in Canada increased 216.4 percent between 1997 and 2010. The statistics for asbestos related cases are likely skewed because it has been noted that only about half of the mesothelioma cases are actually filed with the worker’s compensation board. In addition, mesothelioma can be misdiagnosed as lung cancer, resulting in lower than actual death reports.

John Nolan is a Canadian man who knows the struggles of mesothelioma first hand. John was exposed to asbestos when a renovation was completed in his workplace in the late 1980’s. The ventilation system circulated the construction dust into his office space for the duration of the project exposing him to asbestos present in the building products. John is an excellent example of someone in a non-trades occupation affected by asbestos exposure. Read more about John’s battle with mesothelioma by clicking here.

Asbestos exposure has serious consequences but can be prevented and minimized. Current WorkSafeBC regulations require testing of all building materials older than 1990 that may be disturbed. Hazpro Environmental is committed to providing education and setting the standard for safe and professional testing and removal of asbestos containing materials. We are happy to answer any questions you may have. Feel free to call us at 250-891-4977 or email at info@hazpro.org.

Reference

Grant, T. (2014). No Safe Use. Retrieved June 23, 2014, from The Globe and Mail Inc.: http://m.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/no-safe-use-as-the-top-workplace-killer-asbestos-leaves-a-deadly-legacy/article19151351/?service=mobile

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