Dangers of Asbestos

Asbestos should only be handled by trained professionals. It is vital to understand what risks you will be exposed to if you come in contact with this substance. Asbestos is unfortunately a very common building material in many Canadian homes. Unlike many other countries that carried out a ban on this material over a decade ago, Canada closed its last asbestos mine as recently as 2011. Despite overwhelming evidence of the dangers involved, the government persisted in their view that asbestos was safe for humans. The delay in recognizing the risks and putting a stop to the mining and use of the material in construction materials has now resulted in the Canada having one of the highest Mesothelioma cancer rates in the world.

In any kind of construction or renovation work, there is naturally the release of dust and fibers of the construction material being handle. When the material contains asbestos or vermiculite, the small fibers can easily end up being inhaled. Unlike inhaling dust that may cause some minor irritation in healthy people, asbestos becomes absorbed into the lungs and can lead to several serious and possibly fatal diseases.

What is even more worrisome is that this negative impact of inhaling asbestos is rarely felt immediately. The effects tend to develop slowly and by the time symptoms begin to manifest, the diseases are in their late stages and often almost impossible to successfully cure. The latency period between when the asbestos is inhaled and when symptoms of resulting illnesses appear can be as long as 10-40 years. Here are some of the most common asbestos related diseases that one risks through exposure.


As mentioned, Mesothelioma is a form of cancer that affects the lining of the lungs and can penetrate even further down into the lower digestive tract. This cancer is almost exclusively believed to be caused by amphibole asbestos exposure. It is a highly dangerous type of cancer because there is little warning sign, and by the time it is usually diagnosed, there is little that medical science can do to help the patient. It can take up to 45 years to develop after exposure to the asbestos, and is usually fatal within 18 months of diagnosis.

Lung Cancer:

This is another aggressive form of cancer that tends to present in a similar manner as when caused by smoking. It is believed that there are as many diagnoses of asbestos related lung cancer cases as there are Mesothelioma cases. It may take 20-25 years to develop and is often fatal. If diagnosed early enough, surgical intervention can help prolong the life of the sufferer.


This is a condition that results in the scarring of the lungs. It is often the result of heavy exposure to asbestos for a prolonged period. It is often characterized by symptoms of shortness of breath, cyanosis (blue skin coloration) and lung infections. It usually develops 10-20 years after heavy exposure and has no treatment.

Pleural Plaques:

This condition is characterized by the growth of benign growths in the lining of the chest wall and diaphragm. It usually results in discrete patches of thickened scar tissue that surround the lungs. Excessive untreated growths can cause the lungs to become squeezed and result in shortness of breath and chest pain.

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