Not long ago, asbestos was commonly used. Learn how you can protect yourself.

What is asbestos?

Asbestos is a naturally occurring silicate mineral that was commonly used in the past for insulation and as a fire retardant. Until the 1980’s asbestos was used to insulate walls, ceilings, and floors for heating or cooling, sound, and for fire safety.

What are the health hazards from asbestos?

Asbestos only poses a health risk when the fibres are inhaled. If asbestos is in an enclosed area, such as in walls or floors and the fibres are not disturbed and released into the air, there are no significant health risks. Health risks come from long-term exposure to asbestos and have been linked to lung cancer (mesothelioma) and scaring of the lungs.

How can you reduce your risk of being exposed to asbestos?

It is difficult to determine which materials contain asbestos, and the best way is to have a sample tested by a certified laboratory. Generally, exposure is often limited to workplaces (construction and maintenance) although exposure can occur when doing home renovations.

A common material that contains asbestos is vermiculite, which is a type of insulation. Ideally, non-professionals should not do any work with asbestos, but if small amounts must be handled, it is important to wear protective clothing and equipment including a respirator and to shower afterwards.

Never let children play in attics and open spaces where insulation was used, and keep all walls and ceilings in good repair.

For more information:

If you would like to speak to a public health inspector about asbestos, you can submit your question or complaint electronically or call 705.522.9200, ext. 464 (toll-free 1.866.522.9200).

This item was last modified on August 16, 2019