Study Links Asbestos Exposure to Heart Disease

The link between asbestos and lung disease, particularly deadly mesothelioma, has been well established for decades. A recent study published in the international peer-reviewed British journal Occupational & Environmental Medicine has found a link between asbestos exposure and cardiovascular disease too.

The study looked at mortality rates and causes for British asbestos workers during the period 1971 to 2005, drawing information from 98,912 workers in total. In particular, researchers analyzed the numbers gleaned on cardiovascular deaths with a median follow up of 19 years.

The results were adjusted for smoking and other factors. After analyzing the data, researchers concluded that cerebrovascular and ischaemic heart disease (strokes and heart attacks in layman’s terms) were significantly higher among the asbestos workers as compared to the general public.

Cause and effect?
Asbestos causes inflammation – that’s where its harmful effects on the human body begin – and it is thought that inflammatory processes contribute to cardiovascular disease as well. The study did not establish asbestos as a clear risk factor, (i.e. as a clear cause and effect,) but the numbers are significant and provide a starting point for further investigation.

Asbestos in Your Home
If your home was built before 1970, there’s a good chance it contains asbestos in some form too, and it may show up in a wide variety of places including insulation, floor and ceiling tiles, roofing, pipe insulation and more. The material is considered safe as long as it’s intact, but damage or deterioration can produce friable asbestos, or particles that can be inhaled – with a deadly potential.

Asbestos “Accident”
Even if it’s currently intact, however, there’s no telling what can happen. Earlier this month, children just stateside were discovered unwittingly playing with asbestos thinking it was sidewalk chalk. The asbestos was wrapped around pipes as insulation in an empty Niagara Falls, NY school. Authorities assume that the pipes were stolen, with the thieves dumping the insulation just outside the building, which is where the children found it.

Get peace of mind from GreenStream Environmental, where we can offer a home inspection and asbestos removal or abatement services as required. Don’t fool around with something so dangerous – call GreenStream today.

In the Toronto area contact GreenStreamEnvironmental.ca at (416) 818-9414.

Featured in Mike Holmes’ magazine, HGTV’s Income Properties, W Network’s Love It Or List It and chosen by Homestars.com as “Best Toronto Asbestos Removal Company” based on customer ratings and reviews, GreenStream Environmental Services are fully-certified, trusted and insured professionals in the removal and disposal of commercial, industrial, institutional and residential asbestos, vermiculite and mould (hazardous and non-hazardous). Providing emergency service 24/7/365 for all of Toronto and the GTA (North York, Mississauga, Markham, Brampton, Scarborough, Ajax, Oshawa, and beyond) GreenStream has over 40 combined years of experience serving clients such as the City of Toronto, the Toronto District School Board and many more. For a free estimate in Toronto, the GTA and Southern Ontario, call today at 416-818-9414. You’ll be glad you did.

Asbestos, Vermiculite and Christmas Ornaments

Christmas is the time when people thrive on continuing family traditions. From Mom’s incredible gravy method to the star on the tree that’s been handed down for three generations, it’s a time to include the past in today’s celebrations. When it comes to those Christmas ornaments, however, there are a couple of things you should consider.

What’s in the Attic?

If yours is an older home, you may just be storing your seasonal ornaments in the attic. That can be a problem if your home was insulated with vermiculite. Vermiculite is a natural mineral that was used for home insulation for most of the 20th century. The majority of the vermiculite used in insulation in North America comes from a Montana site that was heavily mined from the 1920’s until the 1990’s. By itself, vermiculite isn’t a known health risk; the problem is that the Montana site was contaminated with asbestos.

Even if other types of insulation were used in your home, it may also contain vermiculite, which was commonly marketed as a do-it-yourself project. Many homeowners went into the attic themselves to pour it down into the walls in order to bolster the effect of existing foam or other insulation.

Whatever you’re storing in an attic with vermiculite insulation could be covered in asbestos dust. It’s a particular concern when it comes to Christmas ornaments in that children are often the ones to handle and play with them, and children are also the most vulnerable to the health effects that come from asbestos exposure.

Artificial Snow

A lesser risk comes from very old Christmas balls, wreaths and other ornaments with fake snow. It may seem shocking today, but asbestos flakes were often used as decorative artificial snow and many early 20th century ornaments include that substance. Even now, after decades, they may contain small amounts of asbestos.

They may have sentimental value, but you’re probably better off setting aside older Christmas ornaments in favour of newer and safer materials.

Did you know?

There’s a scene in the classic film The Wizard of Oz where Judy Garland as Dorothy, along with Toto and her other traveling companions are put to sleep by a spell cast by the Wicked Witch of the West. They’re awakened by a snowfall – and in the film that snowfall was made up entirely of flakes of white asbestos that covered the whole cast and set.

Vermiculite Insulation:

Vermiculite insulation, which was most often sold under the name ‘Zonolite® Attic Insulation’, is brown or greyish and pebbly in texture. If you see it in your attic or elsewhere in your home, and before any renovation projects, please DO NOT disturb it. The danger from asbestos comes from inhaling the fibres, and anything you can do to contain or avoid it until you can call in the experts from GreenStream Environmental Services will help to minimize the impact.

At GreenStream Environmental Services, we offer professional vermiculite and asbestos remediation services to help you contain and then rid yourself of this problem.

In the Toronto area contact GreenStreamEnvironmental.ca at (416) 818-9414.

Featured in Mike Holmes’ magazine, HGTV’s Income Properties, W Network’s Love It Or List It and chosen by Homestars.com as “Best Toronto Asbestos Removal Company” based on customer ratings and reviews, GreenStream Environmental Services are fully-certified, trusted and insured professionals in the removal and disposal of commercial, industrial, institutional and residential asbestos, vermiculite and mould (hazardous and non-hazardous). Providing emergency service 24/7/365 for all of Toronto and the GTA (North York, Mississauga, Markham, Brampton, Scarborough, Ajax, Oshawa, and beyond) GreenStream has over 40 combined years of experience serving clients such as the City of Toronto, the Toronto District School Board and many more. For a free estimate in Toronto, the GTA and Southern Ontario, call today at 416-818-9414.  You’ll be glad you did.

Harper government still mum about position on asbestos

You’d think that the scathing Daily Show critique, warnings from UN-affiliated organizations and the countless other news stories about Canada’s exportation of asbestos would be enough to sway the Harper government into changing its policies. But you’d be wrong.

Even with a major international conference in Geneva on the horizon, Canada has not indicated whether or not its stance on asbestos will change.

For now, even though asbestos removal has become a must in our own buildings across the nation, the Harper government maintains that it can be used or, more specifically, exported “under controlled conditions.” It’s an alarming claim considering that disturbing or manipulating the fire-retardant asbestos in any way can stir up tiny fibres that enter the lungs and cause cancer, permanent scarring and countless other problems.

Particularly shocking: comments recently made by Stephen Paradis, Canada’s Minister of Industry. He spoke favourably about Canada’s recent decision to “block” the inclusion of asbestos or chrysotile from the Rotterdam Convention, which is aimed at promoting “shared responsibility and co-operative efforts among parties in the international trade of certain hazardous chemicals.”

Yep. Even though 24 Sussex Drive itself literally has undergone asbestos inspection and removal, the government wants to ensure it can send the stuff elsewhere.

The Rotterdam Convention wants to ensure that countries give “prior informed consent” before importing hazardous chemicals and make informed decisions on whether to handle the chemicals at all.

Recent comments by Dimitri Soudas, Harper’s communications director, also suggest that Canada won’t change its stance on asbestos next week.

“All scientific reviews clearly confirm that chrysotile (asbestos) fibres can be used safely under controlled conditions,” Soudas said.

However, a coalition of more than 200 doctors and major health organizations such as the Canadian Cancer Society, the Canadian Public Health Association and the Canadian Medical Association beg to differ. They claim that asbestos is listed as a hazardous substance under Canadian law and that allowing developing countries to handle it is applying a “double standard of inferior protection.”

The asbestos debate continues to snowball and may come to a head at the Rotterdam Convention.

Featured in Mike Holmes’ magazine, HGTV’s Income Properties, W Network’s Love It Or List It and chosen by Homestars.com as “Best Toronto Asbestos Removal Company” based on customer ratings and reviews, GreenStream Environmental Services are fully-certified, trusted and insured professionals in the removal and disposal of commercial, industrial, institutional and residential asbestos, vermiculite, mould (hazardous and non-hazardous). Providing emergency service 24/7/365 for all of Toronto and the GTA, GreenStream has over 40 combined years of experience serving clients such as the City of Toronto, the Toronto District School Board and many more. For a free estimate in Toronto, the GTA and Southern Ontario, call today at 416-818-9414.

UN-sanctioned group tells Canada to brush up on asbestos science

Canada isn’t known to be behind the eight ball on many things, including civil rights and technology, but asbestos is quickly becoming a national black mark.

The country’s failure to stop exporting asbestos has drawn the ire of the International Labour Organization, a group affiliated with the United Nations. The Geneva-based operation pointed a finger at Canada in a new draft report. It noted that the Canadian government recognizes “the dangers of exposure to asbestos in the workplace” and that Canada is a signatory to the 1986 Asbestos Convention.

The report also says that Canada’s participation in that convention obligates the country to “keep abreast of technical progress and scientific knowledge” on asbestos. It adds that Canada should take into account the World Health Organization’s findings plus those of other international organizations concerning the dangers of asbestos exposure.

Do we take the hint, here? The fibres from asbestos cause lung cancer, mesothelioma (cancer of the abdominal lining and chest) and asbestosis, or potentially fatal scarring in the lungs. We hire asbestos removal companies to eliminate it from our schools and we participated in a convention illustrating the threat. Almost every other nation in the world has banned its use and exportation.

Yet here Canada is, still OK with sending it off to countries like India. It’s one thing for sick building syndrome to still be rampant in our country, as asbestos inspection and removal takes money. The process is an ongoing one and it’s forgivable that it will take time.

It’s another to knowingly send the harmful substance for use and fresh installation in other countries. That major, UN-affiliated organizations are taking notice of such a prehistoric practice is embarrassing.

For now, the best we can do is stay on top of asbestos by eliminating it from our homes, schools and workplaces. In the long run, let’s hope that all the international attention will finally sway the Harper government into action.

Featured in Mike Holmes’ magazine, HGTV’s Income Properties, W Network’s Love It Or List It and chosen by Homestars.com as “Best Toronto Asbestos Removal Company” based on customer ratings and reviews, GreenStream Environmental Services are fully-certified, trusted and insured professionals in the removal and disposal of commercial, industrial, institutional and residential asbestos, vermiculite, mould (hazardous and non-hazardous). Providing emergency service 24/7/365 for all of Toronto and the GTA, GreenStream has over 40 combined years of experience serving clients such as the City of Toronto, the Toronto District School Board and many more. For a free estimate in Toronto, the GTA and Southern Ontario, call today at 416-818-9414.