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Canadian Imports Of Asbestos Have Doubled Since Mining Ban

Caution asbestos signCanada recognizes that asbestos is a killer. And not just any killer, mind you – it has been statistically proven that asbestos is Canada’s number one workplace killer and a known cause of mesothelioma. It takes the lives of over 2,000 Canadians each and every year. So, as a result, the nation has rightfully banned its production. But, we continue to import it at alarmingly growing rates. How does that make any sense?

As Doug Schimdt reports in the Windsor Star this past Monday, “asbestos imports nearly doubled in value between 2011 and 2015, to $8.2 million last year. Meanwhile, the numbers and cases of deaths attributed to mesothelioma — an aggressive form of cancer caused primarily by workplace asbestos exposure — has been on the rise, according to figures released this year by Statistics Canada.”

Evidently, the mining ban that was put in place five years ago has not been enough to reduce the health hazards that asbestos brings upon our population. Banning the production of asbestos in Canada, but continuing to import it, is no different than instilling a household rule that no family member is allowed to smoke – but guests are allowed to whenever they come over. How does that improve anyone’s health?

Well, the answer is simple: it doesn’t. And as Jo-Anne MacMillan pointed out at a news conference in Windsor, Ontario on Monday, it makes no sense to import a “horrific material” that is guilty of killing people. As Schmidt explains, MacMillan has lost three family members to asbestos-caused mesothelioma, including her brother Tom Dunn, who was only 35 years-old when he passed away in 1981.

Sadly, her other brother Paul and sister Rose-Marie, would suffer the same fates in 2005. They were 58 and 70 years of age respectfully. In May of this year, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made what appeared to be a promise to ban asbestos from Canada completely. We have been covering this incredibly important topic in many of our blogs ever since. Still, we await word on this comprehensive nationwide ban.

If you’re wondering why Canada would even think of importing such a deadly substance, Windsor & District Labour Council president, Brian Hogan can shed some light on the reason. “It’s cheaper,” he states simply in Schmidt’s article, noting that there are safer alternative products that are made in Canada. The asbestos-laden products that are still imported include brake pads, pipes, pipe fittings, tiles, paper products and even clothing and footwear.

Dr. Deborah Hellyer, who is a Windsor-based occupational health physician and lung disease specialist, remarks that asbestos is such a potent killer because of its presence in so many of Canada’s workplaces. Used in the construction of hospitals, libraries, factories and schools, workers in such places have been regularly coming into contact with asbestos for years. “Especially when disturbed — for example when it’s removed or cut — even minute amounts, once inhaled, can lead to potentially fatal disease years or even decades later,” she tells Schmidt.

At DF Technical & Consulting Services Ltd., we completely agree that asbestos should be completely banned in Canada. And because the hazardous material causes deadly diseases, we believe in testing for asbestos in homes and workplaces. Contact us to learn more about our Asbestos Containing Material (ACM) Services which include several asbestos testing procedures. To learn more, give us a call at 1-855-668-3131 or email info@dftechnical.ca.

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3 Holiday Gift Ideas That Can Improve Indoor Air Quality

Bouquet of red flowers of chrysanthemums isolated on white background. Flat, top viewWe’re just a few days over a month away from Christmas Day. So, this is certainly the time of year when Canadians are out in the malls shopping for holiday gifts. This will be especially true in a couple of days when the annual Black Friday festivities kick off. And by “festivities”, we mean craziness. Holiday shoppers who have participated in Black Friday shopping events know just how much havoc can occur when people are actively seeking discounts on highly-sought after items.

There are some items, however, that may not necessarily be among the most popular holiday gift ideas, but they are among the most important. Why not consider buying a loved one a gift that will speak to their health needs? There are numerous items on the market that can improve the indoor air quality of one’s home. And, as any reader of our blog knows, improving indoor air quality is incredibly important for our health.

Here are three holiday gift ideas that can improve indoor air quality:

1. HEPA air purifier. In order to remove pollutants from our air, we often have to do more than simply open the windows. And yes, it is recommended that you open the windows during the winter time – even if it’s for a few minutes at a time. This will help circulate the stale and stagnant air from inside with the fresh air from outside. However, since the winter offers weather conditions that don’t allow us to keep the windows open for very long, a HEPA air purifier is an excellent addition to the home.

“Make sure to get an air purifier that does not produce ozone, and one that does eliminate VOCs that off-gas from paint, furniture, and cleaning chemicals,” recommends Cambria Bold on ApartmentTherapy.com. She points out that VOCs (volatile organic compounds) are a danger to our health. So while doing your holiday shopping, be sure to avoid such gifts as air fresheners and other scented cleaning products that contain VOCs.

2. Green plants and flowers. Plants and flowers are gifts that can satisfy a wide range of recipients because they add some nice decor to homes. However, they also help to purify the air. As reported by Ellen Ruoff Riley and Stuart Robbins on Healthline.com, “in 1998, NASA discovered that houseplants can absorb harmful toxins from the air, especially in enclosed spaces with little air flow…While plants have less horse power than air purifiers, they’re more natural, cost effective, and therapeutic.”

They recommend such plants as spider plants, dracaenas, golden pothos, areca palms, bamboo palms, English ivy, rubber plants, Chinese evergreen, peace lilies and chrysanthemums. “Florist’s chrysanthemums or ‘mums’ are ranked the highest for air purification,” write Riley and Robbins, “They’re shown to eliminate common toxins as well as ammonia.”

3. Pet grooming products. You’re bound to have an animal lover on your list of gift recipients this holiday season. If so, a gift certificate for grooming, non-chemical based cleaners, vacuums and mops are certainly some great ideas for helping them to keep their homes clean and air pollutant-free. On Mom.me, Sara Tan highly recommends the Swiffer Sweeper as a gift for pet owners.

“Any pet owner knows that pet hair and dander can accumulate on floors and other hard surfaces of your home,” she writes, “Stay on top of this cleaning challenge with Swiffer Sweeper. Swiffer’s trap and lock technology picks up pet hair and dander allergens on hardwood, tile and linoleum floor types.”

At DF Technical & Consulting Services Ltd., there is one more gift that we’d recommend you give yourself. Our Air Quality Services can help target any problems areas of your home to ensure that you are enjoying the best indoor air quality possible. For more information, please don’t hesitate to call us at 1-855-668-3131 or email info@dftechnical.ca.

4 Comments

  1. November 29, 2016 at 6:31 am

    Very concise yet detailed and it helped both of our confidence. Great work!

  2. Betty larose-Reply
    December 12, 2016 at 6:29 pm

    What is your recommendation on furnace cleaning? We have an electronic furnace filter, but are still finding the house dusty. We have both found we’ve had sinus issues since moving into this house. What should we check?
    Many thanks
    Betty

    • Dennis French-Reply
      December 12, 2016 at 6:43 pm

      Hello Betty
      I will respond directly to you on this email rather than the public forum.

  3. December 18, 2016 at 7:56 pm

    Great post! I agree that a combination of fresh air, air purifier, and plants can really make a big difference. Thanks for sharing!

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CLC Continues To Campaign For Nationwide Asbestos Ban

target asbestos concept illustration design over a white backgroundThe Canadian Labour Congress has made it no secret that they are vehemently opposed to the use, production, import or export of asbestos in Canada. They have long called for a comprehensive ban of the deadly substance, labelling it the most deadly cause of work-related death in Canada. Taking over 2,000 Canadian lives a year, asbestos is a substance that can no longer be tolerated as a viable commodity in our country.

The CLC’s campaign for a nationwide ban of asbestos has picked up steam ever since Prime Minister Justin Trudeau declared that the federal government was moving towards a ban this past spring. To date, there has still been no official word on an official date when Canadians can safely say that they have been freed from the dangers of asbestos forever. As a result, the CLC continues to champion their cause. And it has received a lot of support.

As reported by CTV News last week, many Canadians are coming out with their often-tragic stories about being affected by asbestos exposure. Donnie Taylor, a retired shipbuilder, is one such Canadian. At a recent press conference in Halifax, Taylor shared his experiences with working in asbestos for 32 years, not knowing he was being exposed to health hazards throughout his work tenure.

“Every ship before the Second World War, was all asbestos, that was the miracle material,” he recalled, “Between new construction and repair work, you were in it every day, every day, there was no getting away from it.” Medardo Azocar is another Canadian who has suffered because of asbestos exposure. Immigrating from Chile to Edmonton in 1975, Azocar worked in a machine shop where we was exposed to asbestos for years.

As reported by Ameya Charnalia for Metro News, Azocar’s daughter Sandra was recently featured in a new CLC video calling for Canada’s official nationwide ban of asbestos. “My father was placed in a concentration camp for being in a union after the 1973 military coup in Chile,” she is quoted as saying, “You come from that and you try and look for a safer place to live in, and yet 20 years later – or however long it was – you get diagnosed with something that could’ve been prevented.”

According to the CLC, a comprehensive ban of asbestos is absolutely necessary because, for some reason, Canada continues to import such products as brake pads for automobiles, which still contain asbestos. Canada has stopped exporting the material, but for so many people who have been diagnosed with asbestos-related diseases, this isn’t good enough. Azocar is insistent that asbestos be “actually banned, from either import or export.”

Hassan Yussuff, is the president of the CLC. He is adamant that without a nationwide ban of asbestos, Canadians will continue to suffer the unnecessary consequences. “For every day we delay bringing in a comprehensive ban, there are so many workers who are exposed to asbestos-made products in our country, and we know that if they are exposed it to it without proper protection, it’s likely to do harm to their health,” Charnalia quotes him as saying.

At DF Technical & Consulting Services Ltd., we are just as adamant that asbestos needs to be completely banned in Canada. Because we are well aware that the material causes life-threatening illnesses, we believe that testing for asbestos is absolutely necessary. Please don’t hesitate to contact us to learn more about our Asbestos Containing Material (ACM) Services. They include a number of asbestos testing procedures such as an onsite assessment and sampling and analysis of materials collected from various parts of your home or office.

For more information, please don’t hesitate to call us at 1-855-668-3131 or email info@dftechnical.ca.

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Preventing Mould Growth In The Home During The Winter

The damp is attacking the wall next to windowMould growth in the home can take place at any time of the year. But during the winter time, our homes are a bit more susceptible to mould infestations. Naturally, with the colder weather, we tend to keep our homes closed up – with the heat on. The warmer we keep our homes, the greater the chances are that we increase its humidity. Mould loves humidity. Dark, damp, warm places throughout your home make for ideal breeding grounds.

As IndoorMould.ca explains, mould “thrives in environments between 60 and 80 degrees and grows wherever there’s humidity or moisture. Mould can be problematic during winter since it can grow in your attic, walls, and other hard-to-reach places.” And because we tend to trap moisture in our homes throughout the winter time, the levels of humidity tend to steadily increase.

“By closing everything and insulating yourself, you actually produce a suitable environment for the fungus,” says IndoorMould.ca, “It’s also likely that you turn the thermostat up, creating a warmer air to combat the winter air. The downside to having your home too encapsulated with insulation is that it prevents warm air from escaping. Moreover, the insulation traps in the humidity and condensation for a longer period during this season because people don’t open their homes to the external environment as much.”

What can be done to prevent mould growth in our homes throughout the winter? Well, firstly, it pays to monitor your humidity levels. According to Luke Armstrong on RestorationMasterFinder.com, indoor humidity levels should be kept below 40 percent. He also advises those who use humidifiers to ensure that they don’t produce excessive amounts of humidity.

Armstrong also recommends that you increase your neat freak tendencies during the winter time. It certainly pays to keep a clean house. He notes that vacuuming and other forms of cleaning can help to remove possible sources of mould growth. The rooms of your home that generate the most moisture should especially be concentrated on. Think your bathroom and your kitchen. One great way to help reduce moisture is to always use the exhaust fans in both rooms.

“Use area rugs or washable floor surfaces rather than wall-to-wall carpeting in areas or rooms that have a moisture issue,” suggests Armstrong, “It’s not usually a great idea to have carpeting in your entryway, for instance, if you live in a cooler, wet climate…Paper, books and clothing are sources of food for mould, so don’t store them in humid parts of your home, such as your basement, especially close to the floor or walls.”

Can maintenance performed outside of the home prevent mould growth within it? It certainly can. Armstrong reminds us to make sure that our gutters and downspouts are clean. The areas underneath the downspouts may need to be extended in order to have water flow away from the foundation. And, if you have a crawl space under the house, you’ll want to cover the soil in that space with waterproof polyethylene plastic.

At DF Technical & Consulting Services Ltd., we offer Mould Assessment Services that assess, analyze and report on the findings of mould in your home, office or building. Our comprehensive assessments include visual inspections for sources of mould, analytical sampling for source and health impact potential from spore exposure, moisture analysis and thermal scanning. For more information, please don’t hesitate to call us at 1-855-668-3131 or email info@dftechnical.ca.

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Are Fireplaces Hazardous To Our Health?

Feets of a family wearing woolen socks warming near the fireplaceNow that November is here, we’re willing to bet that the majority of Canadians already have images of the holiday season on their minds. It would be hard to avoid them as the shopping malls are already decorated with festive colours to commemorate this exciting time of the year. Of course, cold weather is also commonplace during the year’s final months and, as a result, most of us seek ways to warm up all winter long.

How do many Canadians warm up their homes during the winter? You guessed it – the good old fireplace! The crackling of burning wood in a fireplace is as much part of the holiday season as Christmas trees. The only difference is that we tend to keep fires burning in our fireplaces long after the holidays are over. That, however, can present major problems for our health. Fireplaces, you see, are actually pretty bad for our indoor air quality.

How do fireplaces impact our indoor air quality? Well, let’s consider the obvious. With the burning of wood comes smoke. And with smoke comes contaminants in our air. As you can imagine, this can make it a lot harder to breathe. As explained by Cleveland Clinic, numerous scientific studies have found that breathing in smoke from fireplaces has “serious adverse health effects”.

“That’s because smoke from these fires contains small particles that can get into your eyes and respiratory system,” their website explains, “The result can be burning eyes, a runny nose and illnesses such as bronchitis. Small particles less than 10 micrometers in diameter pose the greatest health problems, because they can get deep into the lungs, and some may even get into the bloodstream.”

Cleveland Clinic also quotes Dr. Sheila Armogida as saying that wood smoke contains a number of toxic substances including benzene, formaldehyde, acrolein and methane. She highly recommends that fireplace users significantly limit their exposure to the smoke that emanates from their fireplaces. This is especially important for people who have a history of lung disease and asthma.

However, one doesn’t need to have a history of respiratory system issues in order to be negatively affected by wood smoke in the home. Cheryl Katz of Environmental Health News reports that a University of Copenhagen study found that air pollution from wood stoves is also quite hazardous to the health of all who are exposed to it. Researcher, Steffen Loft found that wood burning stoves release a lot of particulate matter into the air.

“The tiny airborne specks of pollution known as particulate matter, or PM, produced by wood-burning stoves appear to be especially harmful to human health,” writes Katz of the study’s findings, “Small enough to penetrate deep into the lungs, they carry high levels of chemicals linked to cardiopulmonary diseases and cancer, and they can damage DNA and activate genes in hazardous ways comparable to cigarette smoke and car exhaust.”

At DF Technical & Consulting Services Ltd., we’re very well aware that many Canadians enjoy their fireplaces during the winter – and for good reason. Who doesn’t like being warm and toasty and when it’s frigid outside? But since there are health implications to fireplace use, we would highly recommend our Air Quality Services to ensure that your home is a safe living environment for your family all winter long.

For more information, please don’t hesitate to call us at 1-855-668-3131 or email info@dftechnical.ca.

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