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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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