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Illustration depicting a sign with an asbestos concept.Many people have been calling for the Canadian government to step in and take much more drastic measures as it relates to regulating asbestos use. Because of the numerous findings that prove asbestos is a leading cause of lung cancer, many have called for the ban of the product altogether. Popularly used, prior to the 1990s, as an insulation source in homes and office buildings, asbestos is now widely known as a killer.

Sadly, this message was received all too clearly by Denis Lapointe, who is an Ottawa-based electrician. Having worked at the Canada Revenue Agency building at 875 Heron Road in Ottawa for 16 years, he believed that he wasn’t putting himself in any serious danger while at work. After all, a federal building is one that can be assumed safe, right? Not so, says Lapointe, who discovered that he was exposing himself to asbestos throughout his tenure in the building.

As reported by Julie Ireton of CBC News in March of last year, Lapointe only learned of the full extent of his asbestos exposure after filing access to requests for information. “His job involved drilling and pulling wires through walls, floors and ceilings,” Ireton explains, “He says since he didn’t know he could be disturbing asbestos all those years — his fellow workers wouldn’t have known either.” Lapointe reveals that the experience has affected him both physically and emotionally.

“I was exposed and I wasn’t properly protected, and here I was walking through this place, using air hoses and whatnot and blowing it to other people, so I have a conscience…That eats me up,” he is quoted as saying. After obtaining the documents he requested, Lapointe learned that there was asbestos contamination on all floors of the Canada Revenue Agency building where he worked for the better part of two decades.

The discovery unfortunately proves the sad truth about asbestos exposure. Lapointe is a non-smoker. But as Ireton reports, he had suffered from poor health and breathing problems for years. And while he has not been diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease, there is evidence of his exposure to the well-known cancer-causer. Lapointe should have been made aware, long ago, that his job presented such a danger.

Denis St. Jean is the national health and safety officer for the Public Service Alliance of Canada. “Since 1986 the Canada Labour Code applies,” Ireton quotes him as saying, “There should have been at least some risk assessments on whether or not these buildings have asbestos containing materials…so they can have readily available that information for their workers.” Without Lapointe’s sleuthing, he may never have discovered the truth.

Ireton reveals that after a reassessment of the CRA building, the facility was found to not be in compliance. As a result, a call for the removal of damaged asbestos containing materials and debris was ordered. In the meantime, Lapointe continues to struggle with his health. And as Ireton reports, “Lapointe’s concerns about the building and his health issues have now led to an investigation by the federal Labour Department.”

Needless to say, asbestos exposure is a very serious health concern. At DF Technical & Consulting Services Ltd., we offer Asbestos Containing Materials (ACM) Services that inspect duct work, furnaces, plumbing, electrical wiring, attics, cinder block walls, ceilings and flooring. For more information, please don’t hesitate to call us at 1-855-668-3131 or email info@dftechnical.ca.

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