Asbestos Still in Use?

It’s easy to understand why asbestos was widely used in building construction in Toronto and Southern Ontario until about 1980. This rock-based material had great insulating properties while providing excellent fireproofing measures too. But once the clear, undeniable link between the use of asbestos and certain types of cancer was established, finding and removing asbestos became a major priority.

Asbestos removal, or asbestos abatement, is one of the top reasons people call an environmental remediation company. Once disturbed during renovations or repairs, asbestos fibers can make their way into the air and into our respiratory and circulatory systems, creating extensive risks to human health. It’s scary stuff that requires specialized knowledge to contain and remove. Knowing what we do now about the dangers of asbestos, it’s difficult to imagine a case where it could still be selected as a building material in modern construction in Canada.

Do you find it hard to believe that asbestos is still in use? Because it’s true!

Asbestos is Still Being Used in New Construction

According to a recent article in the Globe and Mail, at the same time consumers and businesses are frantically trying to remove asbestos from homes, schools and professional buildings, new condominiums, hospitals and high-rises are being fitted with asbestos pipes. But that can’t be a problem, right? There are probably dozens of countries that are allowing the use of asbestos in new construction, right?


“Unlike most other developed countries, Canada has never banned the use of asbestos and continues to import and export asbestos-containing materials, such as pipes and tiles.”

Even worse, there is no central record for the use of asbestos materials and it’s difficult to determine if the usage is select or widespread. This material is so dangerous, the World Health Organization has declared it carcinogenic in all forms and has called for the complete elimination of asbestos. Yet if you walk by a construction site in downtown Toronto today, there is a chance you could see asbestos pipes making their way into a brand new building. Scary!

What Can Be Done About the Continued Use of Asbestos?

Obviously the regulation of the usage of hazardous materials in new construction cannot be managed exclusively at the local level. Getting rid of asbestos altogether will require intervention at the Provincial or Federal level. If you wish to make your feelings about the continued use of asbestos known, contact your Provincial MPP or your Federal MP to express your concerns.

On a more personal front, if you are building a new home or are responsible for the management of a larger construction project, you have every right to ask about the materials being used in the new building. Ask if your planned project involves asbestos pipes, and insist on alternative materials if it does! Think about it this way: If you demand an alternate material now, in the future when you want to repair or renovate your property, you won’t need to hire an environmental remediation company for their asbestos removal services!

Image courtesy of Michelle Meiklejohn /

Did you know?

Between 1920 and 1980, over 240,000 homes across Canada were insulated with materials that contained asbestos.
Find out if your home was one of them
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