Western education 2013

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

.... a request to post about mesothelioma Cancer

My posts are traditionally about my cancer because its the one I am most familiar with.  I am also aware of the cancers associated with asbestos.  It is not just about the miners who mined for the asbestos as a fire retardant material - I had an 'Uncle' who, as a fire Chief for the Armed Forces would showcase a suit of asbestos when entering a fire to retrieve rings..... he was only aware of the fire retardant qualities and not the safefy hazard to his health.  Years ago, during the energy crisis, the North American governments offered incentives to insulate homes.  Vermiculite was mined as a natural insulator that could be blown into houses and would maintain their shape.  Unfortunately where you find vermiculite, you will find asbestos.  The health hazards are not immediate but take years to occur.  Here is a good PDF to read.  Do you have vermiculite?

Thanks to Emily who emailed me to ask about creating an awareness amongst those who follow my blog and I did because I have worked amongst asbestos wrapped pipes, wall and floor tiles and even my old South London home which had vermiculite in it.  One of my neighbors in the neigborhood installed his own vermiculite in the 70's and used so much that it pours out of the walls whenever he opens up an electrical outlet. He wasn't concerned about the constant cleanup this required whenever a renovation was done.  While the mines are still open and producing, it is not a product available for home insulation.  At one time, vermiculite was available in potting soil.

Check your attic carefully under the new insulation that may be hiding it beneath.  If left alone and undisturbed, it does not pose a health hazard.  If you have vermiculite in your attic or walls, you will need to contact a professional to remove the product safely.  It is not a DIY project and requires special knowlege and set-up to perform it safely.  

Thank you to Emily for reminding us all of this close-to-home hazard.  I have posted her information poster below.  It should reflect our Canadian content but essentially it is close to what we here have experienced here north of the border.
courtesy of Emily Walsh, Community Outreach Director

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