The perception of risk
It has been ingrained in many Canadians to automatically associate asbestos with danger. “[Asbestos] is so distorted in the general media that we always report bad things,” says Hookoom.
In reality, assessing possible risks of asbestos depends largely on the form it takes. According to Hookoom, there are three main forms of asbestos: clumped, fibrous and powdered. If you find a clump of asbestos, “it’s really nothing”. The clumped fibers themselves are, again, “less of a risk…because when you breathe in the fibers that you can see, your body is equipped to filter them out through the nostrils, cilia and mucus in the trachea.”
Be vigilant of floating particles. “If it reaches a dust [form], and you see dust in the air and floating, and dust in the light as well, then this would be an issue, because it’s so fine that when you breathe in, your system does not filter it out.”
Given this, Hookoom believes “to bring awareness to managers to the severity of exposures would be one that we need to focus on, to make sure they understand the work environment that they are working in, the type of hazards they’re being exposed to on a day-to-day basis, and what steps they need to be taking to prevent injuries or illnesses”.
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