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Taking A Look At Asbestos-Related Cancers

Back on December 30, 2018, the toxic substance known as asbestos was finally outlawed in Canada. To be specific, the federal government introduced The Prohibition of Asbestos and Products Containing Asbestos Regulations which prohibits the import, sale and use of asbestos as well as the manufacture, import, sale and use of products containing asbestos in Canada. There are, however, a limited number of exclusions.

In the months leading up to the official asbestos ban, we blogged pretty extensively about asbestos and the many health hazards that result due to exposure. As you’re surely aware, asbestos is a known cause of many different types of cancer.

Lung cancer.

It probably makes sense to begin with the obvious. We’re all aware of the irreversible damage that cigarette smoking can cause to our lungs. According to the Canadian Cancer Society, lung cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in Canada. No less than 21,100 Canadians died from lung cancer in 2017, representing 26 percent of all cancer-related deaths that year.

Inhaling asbestos fibres can be as deadly as cigarette smoking. And when the two are combined, the end result is almost sure to be lethal. “Lung cancer is a malignant tumour that invades and blocks the lung’s air passages,” explains the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, “Smoking tobacco combined with asbestos exposure greatly increases the chance of developing lung cancer.”

Ovarian cancer.

This one may not be as obvious as lung cancer. According to Michelle Whitmer on Asbestos.com, researchers are still debating about how asbestos fibres reach the ovaries. However, they theorize that the fibres are transported by the lymphatic system.

“Though it only represents 3 percent of female cancer diagnoses, ovarian cancer causes more deaths than any other female reproductive cancer,” she reports, “In 2012, a study by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) confirmed that asbestos exposure causes ovarian cancer. Many cases were documented in women whose father or husband worked with asbestos.”

Ovarian Cancer Canada tells us that approximately 2,800 Canadian women are diagnosed with the disease each year. Ovarian cancer is the 5th most common cancer for women and is the most serious of all women’s cancer.

Laryngeal cancer.

Before asbestos gets to the lungs, it must pass through the esophagus. Whitmer writes that researchers believe inhaled asbestos fibres get lodged in the voice box before getting to the lungs. If caught early enough, radiation therapy can help cure and preserve a patient’s voice.

“Laryngeal cancer is rare and most often caused by smoking in combination with alcohol consumption,” informs Whitmer, “Yet a 2006 report sponsored by the National Institutes of Health proved that asbestos exposure causes cancer of the larynx, known as the voice box. In 2012 the IRAC confirmed the connection in a scientific review of all evidence to date.”

The DF Technical & Consulting Services Ltd. team remains dedicated to helping Canadians remove asbestos from their homes and places of work. For information about our Asbestos Containing Materials (ACM) Services, please don’t hesitate to call us at 1-855-668-3131 or email info@dftechnical.ca.

And be sure to check out next week’s blog as we take a look at some other diseases that our caused by asbestos exposure!

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The Ever-Important Practice Of Preventing Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Carbon monoxide is a colourless, tasteless and odourless gas. So why all the attention for something you can’t see, taste or smell? It’s lethal. Because it can’t be detected by our senses, carbon monoxide is a highly dangerous gas that has the ability to take lives. CO poisoning is definitely not an issue that should be taken lightly.

Rebecca Joseph of Global News reveals that, according to the Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs, more than 50 people die every year from carbon monoxide poisoning in Canada. The United States has a similar problem. “Unintentional carbon monoxide poisonings account for approximately 400 to 500 deaths (all ages) and more than 15,000 emergency department visits in the United States annually,” says HealthyChildren.org.

How can carbon monoxide poisoning be prevented?

The first step is the understanding of where carbon monoxide comes from. The poisonous gas is a by-product of appliances, heaters and automobiles that burn gasoline, natural gas, wood, oil, kerosene or propane. So it’s vital that all of the above mentioned contraptions are both used and maintained intelligently.

Francis Lavoie is a biologist at the Water and Air Quality Bureau department at Health Canada. “Whenever you burn something whether it’s wood, natural gas, oil, paper or propane, there’s CO produced,” he explains in Joseph’s article.

If you have fuel-burning appliances in your home, it’s vital that they are kept in good working order and checked by a professional regularly. Such appliances include gas water heaters, gas stoves and gas clothes dryers. “Gas cooking stove tops and ovens should not be used for supplemental heat,” insists HealthyChildren.org.

Be wary of fireplace use.

With the summer currently in full swing, this shouldn’t be a problem. But come winter, many Canadians greatly enjoy firing up their fireplaces in order to keep their homes warm and toasty. In truth, this can be a very hazardous practice, especially if the ventilation in your home is poor.

“Check to ensure the flue is open during operation,” says HealthyChildren.org, “Proper use, inspection, and maintenance of vent-free fireplaces (and space heaters) are recommended.” It’s also very important to clean your chimney. If it is blocked, you stand the chance of trapping CO gas in your home every time you light up the fireplace.

Warm up the car only when it’s outdoors.

Naturally, automobiles are kept outside…most of the time. Have you ever warmed your car up while it was still in the garage? This is a common wintertime practice for many Canadians – and it’s a dangerous one. Not only is it recommended that you regularly inspect and maintain your vehicle’s exhaust system, you should never leave your car running in the garage or any other enclosed space. As HealthyChildren.org warns us, “CO can accumulate even when a garage door is open.”

Preventing carbon monoxide poisoning is of major importance for all Canadians. Getting a CO detector should definitely be on your to-do list if you don’t have one already. At DF Technical & Consulting Services Ltd., we offer Air Quality Services that detect indoor air quality problems including CO. For more information, please don’t hesitate to call us at 1-855-668-3131 or email info@dftechnical.ca.

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Hoarding: An Arch Enemy To Indoor Air Quality

Here is some of the simplest advice we’ll ever be able to give you: keep your home clean! If you’re concerned about the air you breathe while you’re inside your home, it’s best to become a neat freak, of sorts. Dust, vacuum, mop, wipe – all of these practices will help you to breathe a little easier.

We admit, however, that being neat and tidy is a lot easier for some than others. Hoarders, of course, are the exact opposite of neat freaks. And to be fair, it’s important to understand that individuals who hoard are generally considered to have mental and emotional hardships. They feel the need to hold on to often-useless items for sentimental value. And, unfortunately, the practice of hoarding can bring about very serious health issues.

Poor indoor air quality.

No home inhabited by a hoarder is one that is safe for breathing. With a multitude of pollutants in the air, you’re unquestionably doing harm to your respiratory system when inside the home. Obviously, a hoarder is unable to unearth the dirt, grime, dust and mould from their homes’ surfaces as they are all covered up with objects. This makes it near impossible to improve the home’s air quality.

“The large amount of dust in hoarders’ homes and the odours and ammonia from decaying products cause serious indoor air quality issues and can result in various respiratory problems – chronic coughing, shortness of breath, inflammation of the lungs, etc.,” explains Luke Armstrong on RestorationMasterFinder.com, “Clutter can even fall on air vents and/or block other airways, causing lack of oxygen and raising the carbon dioxide levels in the house.”

Pest infestation.

If you’ve ever seen an episode of the A&E series, “Hoarders”, you’ve undoubtedly caught gruesome glimpses of homes that are infested with bugs and even rodents. Both the messes and the waste these creatures leave behind create an environment that is virtually toxic.

“Cockroaches, rats, flies, and other pests are attracted to rotting food and animal waste products,” explains Rainbow International Restoration, “A severe hoarding situation can become a haven for pests that spread diseases to the people and animals living in these unsanitary conditions.”

Mould problems.

Our blog has often discussed the health issues that mould can trigger. Combining the stale air produced from a hoarder’s clutter with the high level of humidity that often results from leaky pipes hidden behind all that clutter, you get the perfect situation for mould growth. Not to mention, the spoiled food that is often present in a hoarder’s home adds to the mould infestation problem.

When kept in the home for months, says Armstrong, rotten food can harbour mildew and fungus growth. “This inevitably results in a severe mould problem that can cause substantial structural damage and serious health issues – mould can trigger allergies, damage the respiratory system, and aggravate existing health conditions,” he writes.

At DF Technical & Consulting Services Ltd., we know how important it is for the air in your home to be pollutant-free. If you have issues with hoarding or if you’re living with a hoarder, your health is at risk. We would highly recommend a major clean up of your home with the help of professionals, followed up with an indoor air quality inspection.

Please don’t hesitate to contact us to learn more about our Air Quality Services. Give us a call at 1-855-668-3131 or email us at info@dftechnical.ca.

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What Steps Can Be Taken To Prevent Lung Cancer?

Lung cancer has taken the lives of far too many people. In fact, Lung Cancer Canada reports that, in 2015, approximately 26,600 Canadians were diagnosed with lung cancer with an estimated 20,900 likely to die from it. Lung cancer is the most common cancer among Canadians and more people die from it than breast cancer, colorectal cancer and prostate cancer combined. It couldn’t be a more obvious statement to say that lung cancer should be avoided at all costs.

Nevertheless, there are still many Canadians who continue to smoke cigarettes. The death-inducing activity is the single most preventable cause of cancer and is responsible for about 30 percent of all cancer-related deaths. Needless to say, cigarette smoking should be abolished from your life. Even if you’ve never smoked a cigarette before, it is imperative you avoid secondhand smoke at all times.

There are numerous other ways to avoid getting lung cancer. There are a number of simple steps we can all take, in addition to eliminating cigarette smoke from our lives. Will you take them?

Stick to a regular exercise routine.

You’d be hard pressed to locate any health-based literature that doesn’t recommend exercise. In addition to the many health benefits you may already be aware of – weight loss being the most popular – regular exercise is a known deterrent to lung cancer.

According to lung cancer physician, Dr. Lynne Eldridge on VeryWellHealth.com, “even moderate amounts of exercise can aid in lung cancer prevention. Studies suggest that even something as simple as gardening twice a week is associated with a lower risk of developing lung cancer.”

Have a steady intake of fruits and veggies.

Also on every standard list of nutritional tips is the consumption of plant-based foods. Whether you like them or not, fruits and vegetables are good for you. It’s that simple. But don’t assume you have to stick to greens only. Dr. Eldridge highly recommends choosing from a “rainbow of colours” by suggesting “dark greens such as spinach and broccoli, the whites of onions, the reds of apples and tomatoes, and the orange of orange juice.”

“A diet rich in fruits in vegetables is linked with a lower risk of developing lung cancer,” she informs us, “Recently, studies suggest that variety may be even more important than quantity. Make lung cancer prevention fun by trying out new foods in the produce section…On a reverse note, inorganic phosphates found in processed meats and cheeses are associated with an increased risk of lung cancer.”

Choose your booze wisely.

It’s the summertime. And where there are summertime celebrations, there are libations. You may assume that since drinking doesn’t have anything to do with your respiratory system, the consumption of alcohol won’t impact your risk of getting lung cancer. Think again. However, take some solace in knowing that some alcoholic beverages are better for your health than others.

Dr. Eldridge tells us that “for men, the heavy consumption of beer and hard liquor is associated with an elevated risk of developing lung cancer. In contrast, a moderate intake of wine in men was linked with a lower risk of developing the disease.”

The team at DF Technical & Consulting Services Ltd. would love to help you in your quest to avoid lung cancer. For information about how our Air Quality Services can help you to vastly improve your home’s indoor air quality, please don’t hesitate to call us at 1-855-668-3131 or email info@dftechnical.ca.

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What Is Radon And How Can It Impact Our Health?

Radon is one weird gas. But it’s not weird because of its smell – because you can’t smell it. It doesn’t look funny – because you can’t see it. However, radon can cause some serious health problems for you and your family if it is found in concentrated doses in your home.

The invisible, odourless and tasteless gas is created when the uranium in soil and rock breaks down. Now, you may be thinking, “there’s no soil or rock in my home!” But radon gets even weirder. You see, outside, the gas is practically harmless. But it doesn’t stay outside. It can seep into your home through cracks and collect in tight spaces. It’s important, therefore, to safeguard your home against radon.

Just how dangerous is radon exposure?

It’s bad. Simply put, long-term exposure to radon can cause lung cancer. The risk of a person getting cancer from radon inhalation depends on the level of radon and how long that person is exposed to it in concentrated levels.

According to the Government of Nova Scotia, “the Canadian guideline is based on an exposure period of about 70 years spent in a dwelling that contains elevated levels of radon 75% of that time. Other than lung cancer, there is no evidence that radon exposure causes other harmful health effects such as any other form of cancer, respiratory diseases such as asthma, or symptoms such as persistent coughing or headaches.”

If you’re a cigarette smoker, your chances of getting lung cancer significantly increase.

A year ago, we posted a blog entitled “Radon + Cigarettes = A Deadly Combination”. We’re not sure we can make it much clearer than that! While cigarette smokers are already at a high risk of getting lung cancer, exposure to radon gas can make the risk much higher.

“Exposure to radon and tobacco use together can significantly increase your risk of lung cancer,” informs the Government of Canada website, “For example, if you are a lifelong smoker your risk of getting lung cancer is 1 in 10. If you add long term exposure to a high level of radon, your risk becomes 1 in 3. On the other hand, if you are a non-smoker, your lifetime lung cancer risk at the same high radon level is 1 in 20.”

Can radon get in our drinking water?

It can. However, the Government of Nova Scotia tells us that research has found radon in drinking water to be far less harmful than the radon gas we breathe in. As a result, there is no Canadian guideline for radon in drinking water.

“When the ground produces radon, it can dissolve and accumulate in water from underground sources, such as wells,” their site reports, “When water that contains radon is agitated when used for daily household requirements radon gas escapes from the water and goes into the air. The health risk is not from ingestion but from radon inhalation.”

It is highly recommended that radon tests be conducted at least every two years. At DF Technical & Consulting Services Ltd., we provide Radon Services that are designed to determine the precise levels of radon in your home or office to see if they are safe or not. For more information, please don’t hesitate to call us at 1-855-668-3131. You can also email us at info@dftechnical.ca.

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