Protecting Workers: Be aware of what you are breathing











Air pollution is a physical or chemical release through natural processes and human activities under point and non-point sources. The release of a considerable amount of dust, fibrous, and chemicals into the ambient air leads to an unhealthy environment, resulting in air quality degradation and directly affecting human health and well-being, which contributes to various respiratory problems including bronchitis, emphysema and asthma, and lung cancer [1].

In the workplace, air quality is silent and invisible; workers’ health is likely to be compromised, especially workers employed in the manufacturing and construction sectors. Asbestos is one of the most dangerous toxins and is a recognized lung carcinogen. Inhaling airborne asbestos fibres can cause asbestosis and mesotheliomas [2]. In 2019, it was announced that asbestos was the leading type of occupational lung cancer in Ontario. It is estimated that approximately 1900 lung cancers, 430 mesotheliomas, 45 laryngeal cancers and five ovarian cancers are caused by exposure to asbestos in the workplace [3].


Catch these dangerous toxins in time by contacting our experts

Asbestos and Occupational Exposure

Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral, fibrous silicate, found in metamorphic rock formations. Historically, due to its heat, insulation, chemicals and tensile resistance, it has been widely used in many construction materials, including but not limited to insulation, flooring, panels, wallboards, coating, door and ceiling tiles, and plaster, caulking compounds. As well as, gaskets, brake pads, valve packing, cement pipes and sheets, ship and boat building and textiles.

In 2018, the government of Canada enacted the Prohibition of Asbestos and Products Containing Asbestos Regulations under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 to ban the import, sale, and use of asbestos as well as the manufacture, import, sale, and use of asbestos-containing products. Nowadays, almost all asbestos exposure occurs in the construction industry, building and repair operations within older buildings and are trade-related.

Disturbing asbestos-containing materials during maintenance, repair and demolition operations causes the release of airborne asbestos fibres into the air. Inhalation of airborne asbestos fibres results in its penetration into the lower part of the lung, which causes various respiratory dysfunction, asbestosis, mesotheliomas, and even death [4].

Asbestos regulation

“Investigate Asbestos-Containing Materials (ACM) before undertaking any work activity: it is the law.”

Asbestos is defined as a hazardous material identified as a Designated [5] Substances under the federal, provincial and territorial laws. An employer shall appoint a qualified person (such as an Environmental Consultant) to carry out an investigation and bulk sampling in order to identify any asbestos-containing materials, the type of asbestos, the condition of the asbestos-containing material, the friability of the asbestos-containing material, the accessibility to and likelihood of damage to the asbestos-containing material and the potential for the release of asbestos fibres and employee exposure. As per the Occupational Health and Safety Act Regulation, the Asbestos Survey report shall classify the work activity as low-risk, moderate-risk or high-risk activity [6]. However, according to Ontario Regulation 278/05 work activity shall be classified as Type 1, Type 2, and Type 3 [7]. In Ontario, as per the Ontario regulation 278/05, in order to classify whether material is asbestos-containing material, the procedure and method shall be in accordance with U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.  Test Method EPA/600/R-93/116:  Method for the Determination of Asbestos in Bulk Building Materials.  June 1993.  As per the same regulation, a material is deemed to be asbestos-containing material if it contains 0.5 percent or more asbestos by dry weight [7].

How can T. Harris help you? 


“Air Sampling: Ensure asbestos clearance air samples are taken: it is the law.” 

To evaluate the air quality, an employer shall appoint a qualified person to collect air samples for airborne asbestos fibres analysis per the NIOSH  7400: Issue 2: Asbestos and other Fibres by PCM (August 15, 1994), or NIOSH 7402 Issue 2: Asbestos by TEM (August 15, 1994) published by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health used to collect and analyze a representative sample of airborne asbestos fibres [6] [7]

“Construction and manufacturing workers are at high risk for asbestos exposure. Many of them work around asbestos-containing products. Protecting Workers from Asbestos exposure is mandated and employers shall take every reasonable precaution to eliminate, reduce and control the hazards and exposure in the workplace..”

T. Harris Environmental Management (THEM) is a leading Canadian environmental consulting firm specifically addressing asbestos’s hazards. THEM will assist you in investigating your property to identify any Asbestos-Containing Materials and help with air sampling and clearance air testing.

Contact us now:


[1] World Health Organization, ” Ambient air pollution: A global assessment of exposure and burden of disease,” 2016: [Accessed 21 July 2022].
[2] Latifovic, L, Villeneuve, P. L., Parent, M. É., Kachuri, L., The Canadian Cancer Registries Epidemiology Group and Harris, S. A., “Silica and asbestos exposure at work and the risk of bladder cancer in Canadian men: a population-based case-control study,” BMC Cancer, no. 20, p. 171, 2020:
[3] Occupational Cancer Research Centre, “Burden of Occupational Cancer in Canada: Major Workplace Carcinogens and Prevention of Exposure,” 2019:
[4] Canadian Center for Occupational Heath and Safety, “Asbestos – Health Effects,”:
[5] Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act, O. Reg. 490/09: Designated Substances:
[6] Government of Canada, occupational health and Safety Act Regulation:
[7] Occupational Health and Safety Act, O. Reg. 278/05: Designated Substance – Asbestos on Construction Projects and in Buildings and Repair Operations: