May 20,



What is Asbestos?

Asbestos is a natural mineral with unusual qualities.  It is strong enough to resist high temperatures, chemical attack and wear.  A poor conductor, it insulates well against heat and electricity.  It can be found in many products around the house.

It has been used in clapboard, shingles, exterior siding, pipe and boiler covering, acoustical ceiling tile and plaster, vinyl floor tiles, appliance wiring, hair dryers, flame-resistant aprons and electric blankets.

Health Concerns

Concern about asbestos has led to a dramatic decline in asbestos use since the early 1980’s.

The use of asbestos insulation in new building and heating systems has disappeared.  Residential use continues to decrease while other products are being developed to replace asbestos.  It can be used safely, and public concern has led to improved products design and manufacture.  Asbestos is now better sealed to reduce the escape of fibres.  It is still an important component of brake linings and clutch facings.


Asbestos poses health risks only when fibres are present in the air that people breathe.  Asbestos poses little risk if it is completely covered and sealed to eliminate the escape of fibres.

If you think you may have been exposed to any amount of loose asbestos, no matter how long ago, see your doctor.  Do not smoke.  It increases your chances of being affected by asbestos.

Minimize the Risk

If you do not know whether products in your home contain asbestos, you may wish to have an experienced contractor inspect them.  If the presence of asbestos is confirmed, the best interim measure (unless the product is peeling or deteriorating), is to seal the surface so that fibres will not be released into indoor air.   If the product is already protected or isolated, simply leave it alone.

Asbestos removal is complex and expensive and is best done by an experienced contractor.  When disturbing an asbestos product, maximum precautions must be taken to safeguard workers and anybody else who may be nearby.  Asbestos dust must remain within the work area so that it cannot be breathed by unprotected persons.

Persons working with asbestos must take adequate precautions including an approved face mask and gloves, along with protective clothing.  All wastes must be disposed of appropriately.

For more information on asbestos contact:

Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHA)
Ottawa, ON
Telephone: (613) 748-2367
Fax:          (613) 748-4069


Last modified on Sep 26, 2014