Media backgrounder for release: Canada Needs Public Registry of Buildings Containing Asbestos

18 October 2012

Toronto -

If homeowners know they have asbestos in their homes that needs to be removed, they should hire a professional contractor experienced in asbestos removal. Homeowners should NEVER attempt to remove the substance themselves.

If your home has asbestos, the best way to minimize risk of asbestos exposure is to avoid disturbing asbestos-based insulation in any way. If asbestos-based insulation is contained and not exposed to the home or interior environment, it poses very little risk.

If you know you have asbestos insulation in your attic, take these precautionary steps:

  • Make sure anyone working in the attic knows about the presence of asbestos. Do not let children play in an attic with open areas of asbestos insulation.
  • Do not use the attic for storage if retrieving items from it may disturb the insulation.
  • If you must go into the attic, walk on boards in order to minimize disturbance of the insulation and use an appropriate respirator mask. Common dust masks are not effective against asbestos fibres. Do not remain in the attic any longer than is necessary.
  • If you have asbestos insulation and you decide to have it removed, speak to trained and qualified asbestos removal professionals. They can be found by looking up experts in "asbestos abatement /removal." NEVER attempt to remove the insulation yourself.
  • If you plan to remodel or renovate – for instance, by re-insulating your attic – in a manner that would disturb the asbestos, speak to professionals who are trained and qualified to handle asbestos removal before proceeding with the work to be done.
  • Seal all cracks and holes in the ceilings of the rooms below the insulation (for example, by applying caulking around light fixtures and the attic hatch) to prevent insulation sifting through.
  • If you suspect you have asbestos insulation in your walls, as a precautionary step, seal all cracks and holes. For example, apply caulking around window and door frames, along baseboards and around electrical outlets.


What to do if you suspect you have been exposed to asbestos

Asbestos-related illnesses are usually associated with frequent and prolonged exposure to asbestos. The time it takes to develop a disease from exposure to asbestos is usually long – up to decades. If you have concerns about exposure to asbestos you can take these steps:

  • Talk to your health care provider
  • Avoid or minimize further exposure to any form of asbestos
  • Stop smoking and avoid second hand tobacco smoke and other irritants that could affect your lungs. Exposure to cigarette smoke and asbestos greatly increases your chances of developing lung cancer.

Source: Health Canada. For more information:



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For more information, please contact:

Christine Harminc

Senior Manager, Communications & Media Relations

Canadian Cancer Society

Phone: 416 934-5340