Tornado damage in Ottawa raises concerns of asbestos exposure

8 Oct 2018 by under News

Asbestos at demolition site East Village WFAA News image 100x100 Tornado damage in Ottawa raises concerns of asbestos exposureA tornado that swept through the Mont-Bleu area of Gatineau in Ottawa, Canada last month, seriously damaging 60 buildings, raised concerns of potential exposure, according to the Ottawa Citizen. Officials says that older structures damaged in the storm that were built before the 1980s may contain the cancer-causing mineral.

Asbestos is a fibrous mineral that was commonly used in building materials because of its durability and fire resistance. Its use was significantly restricted in Canada and the United States in the 1980s because asbestos exposure was linked to serious illnesses including the incurable lung disease asbestosis, lung cancer, and , a rare but deadly form of cancer that develops in the lining of the lungs and abdomen. It can take decades for asbestos cancer to develop.

Left undisturbed, asbestos does not pose a risk, but if the fibers are airborne – as during renovation or demolition – the microscopic fibers can be inhaled or swallowed and lead to asbestos-related diseases.

Karina Osiecka, a spokeswoman for the Office de l’habitation de l’Outaouais, told the Ottawa Citizen that that the risk to cleanup workers is likely “almost non-existent,” but they will follow formal asbestos-handling protocols because, “We’re not taking chances.”

“It’s nothing to fool around with,” agreed Gary Sharp, director of renovator services with the Canadian Home Builders Association.

More than 60 countries have banned the use of asbestos. In January 2018, Canada became the latest country to prohibit the use, sale, import and export of asbestos. Comparatively, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), under the Trump administration, is allowing new uses of asbestos despite the risks to public health.

Ottawa Citizen

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