What is Asbestos?
Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral that was used in a majority of buildings constructed before 1990.
Most commonly used types of asbestos:
Chrysotile - known as "white asbestos", it is the most commonly used form of asbestos. It is found in over 95% of asbestos-containing products.
Amosite - known as "brown asbestos", it has been used in sprayed coatings, heat insulation products, and in asbestos cement products where greater structural strength is required.
Crocidolite - known as "blue asbestos", it is now rarely found in BC. Before 1973, it was commonly used in sprayed coatings on structural steel work for fire protection and for heat or noise insulation.
Less common types of asbestos include actinolite, anthophylite, and tremolite and were rarely used in BC. Actinolite and tremolite may however be found as natural contaminants with vermiculite insulation.
Why is Asbestos Dangerous?
When products containing asbestos are disturbed, asbestos fibers are released into the air. When the fibers are breathed in, they can get trapped in the the lungs and cause scarring and inflammation. This can lead to very serious health problems. For more information on the dangers of asbestos, please watch the WorkSafeBC video on the right.
Major diseases that can be caused by asbestos exposure include:
- Asbestosis - scarred lung tissue. Greater risk of lung cancer, especially when combined with smoking.
- Lung Cancer - cancer in lung tissue.
- Mesothelioma - cancer of the pleura.