Asbestos is a fiber found in the veins of rock. Its use can be traced back  thousands of years.  It has been used in building construction throughout the 1900’s.  Asbestos became very popular during WW2 due to its strength, resistance to high temperatures, resistance to corrosion and insulating qualities. It was widely used on warships at this time. After the war its useful properties became very popular in construction.

Up until the 1970′s little was understood about the effects of asbestos on human health. We now know that it is a factor in lung disease. It can cause Asbestosis, Lung Cancer and Mesothelioma (Mesothelioma is always fatal).  The effect of asbestos on human health is often not apparent until 10, 20 or even 30 years after being exposed to asbestos.  What makes asbestos so dangerous is the fact that it is a very fine fiber that the human body can not get rid of so it settles into the bottom of your lungs and your body reacts by encapsulating the asbestos which eventually creates a tumor.  Asbestos fibers when airborne take a long time to settle, in a perfectly still environment an asbestos fiber will remain airborne for 24 hours when it is at a height of 8 feet.  When there is air movement fibers will remain airborne indefinitely.

By the mid 1980′s asbestos in construction has been virtually eliminated in North America. It is still used in construction materials in other parts of the world.  Mining of asbestos continued in Canada and the US for export until 2002, when the last of the mines were shut down.  Other countries in the world India, Pakistan and Vietnam for example, are still using asbestos.  China and the Soviet Union still mine for asbestos.  There is an effort in Quebec to re-open the Jeffery Mine near the town of Asbestos, Quebec.  Although this option is popular in Quebec, the rest of Canada is opposed to this idea.

View this message from Mike Holmes

The question is how do you know if you have asbestos and what do you do about it if you do?  Each situation is different so it needs to be managed differently.

I am an Asbestos Consultant.  I survey a property for asbestos containing materials and take samples of anything that could contain asbestos.  Since asbestos fibers are only harmful when they are airborne, I also sample the air for fibers.  These samples are sent to a lab for analysis.  Finally, if asbestos is present, I create a management plan specific to your situation.  If you have an older home there is a fairly good chance there is some asbestos in it.  One key point is that asbestos that is contained or undisturbed is not harmful, since the fibers are not airborne.  The time you need to be concerned is if you are planning renovations, or when there has been unusual damage to a home such as flooding, fire or physical destruction.

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