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Asbestos in Picture Butte: Warnings, Risks, Remediations

Posted on May 9, 2024 by Sunny South News

By Nerissa McNaughton
For the News

During the clean audit report provided by delegate Patrick Treadwell, CPA from MWG Chartered Professional Accountants, at the latest council meeting, a brief mention was made of the upcoming budget considerations for mandated asbestos remediation in public buildings. While the regulations and timelines regarding this are evolving, asbestos remains a serious threat. Here is what you need to know to protect yourself and/or the occupants of a property you own, lease, or rent.

What is Asbestos

Once hailed for its resilience and insulating properties, asbestos is now synonymous with health hazards that can have far-reaching implications. Predominantly used in construction and manufacturing through much of the 20th century, asbestos is a group of naturally occurring fibrous minerals. While its strength, ability to resist heat, and insulative qualities made it a popular choice for building materials in the past, it is now known that its fibres pose severe risks when inhaled, leading to dangerous diseases such as lung cancer, mesothelioma, and asbestosis.

The Dangers of Asbestos Exposure

The primary risk of asbestos comes from its tiny, breathable fibres, which, when disturbed, can become airborne and, if inhaled, lodge in the lungs. Over time, accumulated fibres can cause inflammation and scarring, leading to several serious health issues. Mesothelioma, a rare form of cancer that affects the lining of the lungs, is almost exclusively caused by asbestos exposure. These health risks have led to strict regulations regarding the handling and abatement of asbestos.

Current Regulations in Alberta

In Alberta, the handling of asbestos is governed by stringent guidelines to protect workers from exposure. According to recent updates published by The Safety Mag, the province has introduced significant revisions to its asbestos abatement manual, aiming to clarify and enhance safety measures for workers dealing with asbestos. These revisions include new sections on mechanical abatement procedures, disposal of asbestos waste, and the use of composite samples for bulk sampling. Additionally, there’s an emphasis on air monitoring and the qualifications required for those conducting asbestos-related work.

Under the Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Code in Alberta, employers must ensure all workers who potentially come into contact with asbestos receive appropriate training from a government-approved agency, and a 72-hour notice is mandatory before commencing work that involves the removal or disturbance of asbestos-containing materials.

Impact on Alberta’s Towns and Public Buildings

For towns like Picture Butte, evolving regulations entail a proactive approach towards managing asbestos in public buildings. Municipalities must ensure that public structures, often older and more likely to contain asbestos, are regularly assessed and, if necessary, undergo safe abatement processes. The Town is aware of the mandates.

Considerations for Picture Butte Residents

Outside of public buildings, however, residents of Picture Butte and similar communities should be vigilant about potential asbestos exposure, particularly when living in older homes or when renovation projects are undertaken. Common sources of asbestos in homes include insulation, ceiling tiles, flooring, and pipe cement, among others. Before any renovation or demolition activities, it’s crucial to have a professional assess the presence of asbestos.

If asbestos is found, specialized abatement professionals should be engaged to safely remove or encapsulate the material. DIY approaches are strongly discouraged due to the high risks involved. 

For Alberta’s communities, the evolving landscape of asbestos regulations underscores the commitment to public health and safety. By staying informed and diligent, residents and officials can work together to address the challenges posed by asbestos, ensuring safer environments for current and future generations.

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