Region’s health board goes after asbestos in its buildings
Over 80% of buildings owned by the Regional Health Board (CISSSO) contain asbestos. The CISSSO is looking for experts in handling the potentially harmful substance.
“Forty-one of the 50 CISSSO buildings contain asbestos,” confirmed Geneviève Côté, of the CISSSO. “It’s important to note that asbestos in these buildings is neither exposed nor accessible; there’s no risk for occupants or workers.”
Widely used in the 1960’s as insulation, the silky white fiber carries health risks. Medical and scientific researchers agree that asbestos exposure increases the risk of lung cancer and of other respiratory system problems. Asbestos releases fibres and dust into the air, which are what cause health problems when breathed in. CISSSO has opted to remove and encapsulate the fibres.
“Removal is not always the recommended solution. Oftentimes, encapsulating is best, covering the fibres with a waterproof membrane or a fixative to prevent dissipation,” noted Côté.
“The Gatineau building needing the most work was the Hull hospital. That work is complete. The Pierre-Janet hospital now requires work, as do other smaller installations,” said Ms. Côté. “There’s also work scheduled in the Petite-Nation and the Papineau Hospital.”
According to Quebec’s public health expertise and reference centre (INSPQ), from 1992 to 2004, 1,993 men and 79 women were hospitalized with asbestosis as the primary or secondary diagnosis. From 1981 to 2003, 195 asbestosis deaths appeared in the death registry, 191 men and four women. For the same period, 1,059 pleural cancer deaths appeared in the death registry, of which 769 were men and 290 were women. This is a type of asbestos-related cancer.
The most affected regions in Québec are the Chaudière-Appalaches, Montérégie and Lanaudière regions. The incidence rates of pleural mesothelioma rates are significantly lower among men in the Bas-Saint-Laurent and Outaouais.