Asbestos has a long history of being used in Canadian products. There are a number of qualities which made asbestos minerals attractive for many applications. Asbestos is:
- Widely available. Asbestos mines can be found throughout the world.
- Durable. Asbestos is heat-resistant and an excellent electrical insulator
- Workable. Asbestos is fibrous, and can thus be crafted into a variety of different materials.
Thetford Mines, Quebec, was the first industrial-scale asbestos mine in the world. Asbestos products can be found everywhere in Canada, as the mineral was widely used in construction materials during the 1900s. Asbestos minerals are highly carcinogenic, however. As a result, the use of asbestos has been banned in Canada.
Nonetheless, a wide variety of products that were created before the ban are still present in Canada. Asbestos is a serious health hazard, and the consequences of asbestos exposure usually only manifest decades after initial exposure. Consequently, it’s important to know exactly which products contain asbestos, so you can minimize your risk – asbestos exposure may not be obvious until health problems begin to manifest.
Asbestos in Buildings
While there may be asbestos in a wide variety of different products, the mineral is perhaps most commonly found in construction materials. Remember, it’s both heat-resistant and a good insulator. These qualities would make asbestos excellent for building insulation – and before we fully appreciated the health consequences of asbestos use, it was very commonly used for insulation.
It’s important to know that while asbestos has serious health consequences, these consequences are typically only felt if asbestos has been disturbed – from there, the fibres can be breathed in, which is what leads to health problems. As such, if your home or workplace is insulated with asbestos (and many buildings built in the 20th century are), it’s important not to disturb the insulation.
Insulation was one of the most common asbestos-based building materials, but there are a variety of others. Adhesives, including duct tape and furnace cement, often contained asbestos. So too did certain vinyl products like flooring and wallpaper. Drywall was also often asbestos-based.
These are just a few of the many construction materials that could contain asbestos. When you’re planning to demolish or renovate a building, it’s essential that you confirm there is no asbestos. When there is asbestos, a number of safety precautions must be taken. While asbestos is much more common in buildings built before the 1990s, it’s always best to have someone qualified determine your risk of asbestos exposure before you begin your project. From there, you’ll need someone qualified to do asbestos removal in Winnipeg.
Asbestos in Consumer Products
Few people are worried about asbestos in consumer products – after all, things like talcum powder containing asbestos haven’t been sold in years. The biggest concern, however, is not single-use products, but appliances.
Toasters, washing machines, ovens, stoves, popcorn poppers, hair dryers – the list goes on. You may immediately recognize why asbestos was used in these products – those same qualities of heat resistance and electrical insulation made the mineral an excellent insulator, and reduced the chance of appliance-caused fires.
Of course, this meant many consumers were using products full of asbestos to cook their food, dry their hair, or clean their clothes and dishes. As such, it’s important to check whether or not any older consumer appliances you’re using (again, items predating 1990 are most at risk).
Asbestos and Automobiles
Asbestos was also used in a wide variety of automotive parts. It was commonly used in brake pads, gaskets, and valves, among others. But the newer your car is, the less likely it is to have asbestos in its parts. With very few exceptions, products containing asbestos can’t be imported to or manufactured in Canada since 2018, and prior to that, very few manufacturers used asbestos. Nonetheless, it’s always important to check.
These are just some of the many products in which asbestos has been used – it’s by no means an exhaustive list. Knowledge is one of your best lines of defense against asbestos, so if you’re not sure about the safety of a product or material, do your research.