Asbestos is a naturally occurring, fibrous mineral. Asbestos has been used in construction for its desirable physical properties and resistance to heat from the 1950s to 1990s until it was determined unsafe. Currently, inhalation of asbestos is confirmed to cause serious and fatal illnesses and no longer permitted in the industry. Under Ontario legislation, asbestos is currently one of eleven designated substances that have been identified and defined as hazardous.
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What about vermiculite?
Vermiculite is a material that was once a common insulation medium, and some vermiculite insulation may contain asbestos fibers. Therefore, certain types of vermiculite may be as hazardous to one’s health as asbestos. If you suspect that you have identified vermiculite used as an insulating material in your home, business, or institution, it is imperative to assess the site for asbestos contamination.
Asbestos may become airborne through the application, disturbance and removal of the material, most commonly found in the insulation of a home or other building. If your home or office space was built before the 1990s, and you suspect either the presence or disturbance of asbestos, please contact one of our air quality consultants immediately in order to collect the necessary samples and have your home assessed to further secure your well-being.
According to the Canadian Centre for Occupational Safety, asbestos fibres are easily inhaled and carried into the lower regions of the lung where they can cause asbestosis, mesothelioma, lung cancer as well as reduced respiratory function and death.
Fibrotic lung disease (asbestosis) – a chronic lung disease in which there is scar-like tissue formed in the lungs (pulmonary fibrosis). This fibrosis decreases the elasticity of the lungs, making breathing more difficult. Shortness of breath is the most common symptom.
Mesothelioma – An aggressive, usually fatal cancer arising from the mesothelial cells that form the lining of the pleural (lung), peritoneal (abdominal) and pericardial (heart) cavities. Chest pain, shoulder pain and dry cough are the most common symptoms.