Health Hazards From Asbestos Exposure

Asbestos is a hazardous material. Its fibres are extremely fine and can remain suspended in the air for hours. People exposed to asbestos-contaminated air can inhale the fibres. If handled without precautions, such as appropriate respiratory protection, asbestos may cause serious chronic health problems or even death.

Asbestosis is a chronic lung disease resulting from prolonged exposure to asbestos dust. The fibres gradually cause the lungs to become scarred and stiff, making breathing difficult.

Asbestos fibres in the lungs may cause lung cancer. Smoking tobacco in combination with inhaling asbestos greatly increases the risk of developing lung cancer.

Mesothelioma is a rare, rapidly progressing, malignant form of cancer affecting the lining of the chest or the abdominal cavity. There is a strong link between asbestos exposure and mesothelioma.

Due to the relationship between asbestos exposure and cancer, exposure to asbestos fibres must be kept as low as reasonably achievable.

Asbestos containing materials are known to have been present in drywall filler used to fill seams and cover fasteners, and in texture products applied to drywall ceilings and walls, prior to 1990.

All suspect asbestos-containing drywall and associated debris must be inspected, handled and disposed of in accordance with the most recent edition of the WorkSafeBC publication: “Safe Work Practices for Handling Asbestos”.

All drywall from buildings constructed prior to 1990 must be accompanied by an original copy of a recent test analysis (less than 30 days old) from an approved laboratory proving that the material does not contain asbestos.

For more information go to WorkSafeBC