According to Statistics Canada, new cases of asbestos-related deaths in the last 15 years have risen 67 per cent, from 276 to 461.
This surprising increase is due to the use of asbestos in construction decades ago, affecting people today when the asbestos is moved or disturbed. Asbestos is found in building products and insulations found in homes and other buildings. Larry Stoffman, an occupational health and safety worker with the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, says that the number of cases will peak in 2019, but that the death toll will continue to rise until then.
Asbestos is typically thought of as a problem of the past because it is no longer used in the construction of buildings in developed countries. In reality, asbestos is like a land mine – its legacy affecting people today more than ever. The most common asbestos-related illness is the aggressive cancer, mesothelioma. People with mesothelioma typically do not live for more than two years after the diagnoses. Regular cancer treatments can be sought if the diagnosis is early in the progression of the disease, but this is rare as the symptoms of asbestos exposure do not generally show until decades later.
Asbestos is a naturally occurring heat-resistant mineral, used in many products from brake pads to cement and roofing shingles. Canada is particularly tricky when it comes to legislating the use of asbestos. When the United States was quickly recognizing the dangers and attempting to halt the use of it in the 1980’s, Canada was busy promoting chrysotile, a form of asbestos, as a less-dangerous alternative.
Canada has a booming asbestos exportation industry to this day, with mining continuing in Quebec. Chrysotile miners have in the past contracted mesothelioma, but their rate is declining while the diagnosis rates in construction workers are rising as they renovate older buildings across the country. The World Health Organization says that asbestos, no matter in what form, causes upwards of 90,000 deaths worldwide annually.
Should you suspect the presence of asbestos in your home or business, Contact GreenStreamEnvironmental.ca – Toronto’s asbestos removal specialists – at (416) 818-9414.
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