Asbestos is a material that’s inexpensive, abundant, and deadly. Unfortunately, we didn’t know it was deadly for decades – mesothelioma usually only occurs about 40 years after asbestos exposure. Winnipeg, like many cities, was built with a lot of products containing asbestos – mostly insulation.
A consequence of this is that there’s asbestos in many of our buildings, and that puts certain professionals at a higher risk of exposure. Remember, the onset of mesothelioma occurs decades after exposure, so it’s important to protect yourself now, even if you have no symptoms. 6.6% of homes in Manitoba contain a type of insulation made of asbestos. We’re going to look at three professions that are at a high-risk of exposure (though sadly, there are many more professions that can also put you at risk).
You know the old joke – Winnipeg has only two seasons, winter and construction. When it comes to asbestos exposure, construction workers are at a high risk – especially if they’re working on homes or old buildings.
The most risk is for construction workers who are doing demolition or renovation. There are a wide variety of professions that fall under the broad category of “construction worker”, here, from people who specialize in drywall to painters. The risk of asbestos is highest when it’s disturbed, and the stuff was abundantly used in materials like insulation and textured paints.
Very experienced construction workers might be able to identify products containing asbestos at a glance, but most won’t be sure. If you work in construction, you should assume all products contain asbestos unless you’re 100% sure they don’t. That means you should take all necessary precautions against asbestos at all times.
Go to a place like the University of Manitoba, and you’ll see pipes snaking through tunnels to deliver steam heat throughout the campus. In a cold climate like ours, boilers are one of the most efficient ways of heating large areas. Unfortunately, old boiler rooms are commonly full of asbestos, both as insulators for the pipes and to patch flaws in the boiler itself.
It’s important to remember that while asbestos has fallen out of favour, unless you have an intimate knowledge of the boiler room you’re working in, the boiler and/or the pipes leading from the boiler may very well contain asbestos. Consequently, anyone installing or repairing boilers should assume they contain asbestos unless they’re certain they do not.
We mentioned at the top that insulation is one of the most important asbestos-containing products; asbestos-based insulation was everywhere for a time. While present day insulation does not contain asbestos, the insulation that insulators remove can often contain asbestos. Winnipeg is full of old buildings, and old buildings are, sadly, often full of asbestos.
You’ve probably noticed a running theme, but it bears repeating – insulators should assume that all insulation they’re removing from buildings contains asbestos, unless they’re certain it does not. They should take appropriate precautions.
Be Asbestos Aware
There’s a trend throughout all of these professions – they’re people who work tirelessly to make sure the buildings we live and work in are safe, well-built, and warm. That means other professions tied to building are often at risk of asbestos exposure – HVAC technicians, electricians, plumbers, carpenters, and even firefighters are all at a high risk of exposure.
Don’t gamble with your health. Take the time to understand your risk of asbestos exposure, and protect yourself accordingly. You might need to take an extra few minutes every day to ensure you minimize your risk, but it’s well worth it. Mesothelioma can take years off of your life.
If you discover asbestos, it is important to hire a professional contractor to take care of your asbestos abatement needs. Contact us for a free inspection and estimates. We undertake projects of all sizes – whether your property is a residential home or a large commercial building, we are capable of undertaking the asbestos removal work required.