What is it?
Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral. In general, asbestos fibers are long, thin and very small. They are invisible to the naked eye. Asbestos fibers are measured in micrometers. There are one million micrometers in a meter. Depending on the product, asbestos fibers measure between 1-8 micrometers in diameter and 1-30+ micrometers in length.
Why was it used?
Asbestos fibers are fire and heat resistant, they do not melt or react with air. They are a very good insulator, are strong, resist acid, and are chemically inactive. In addition they have good sound absorbing properties. In short, asbestos made building materials more durable.
Asbestos at BCIT
Due to the age of construction of our campuses, asbestos may be contained in some of the following building materials.
- Ceiling Plaster/Tiles
- Floor Tiles/Vinyl/Adhesives
- Drywall Joint Compounds
- Pipe Insulation/Fire stops
- Roofing Materials
- Window Caulking
What are the Health Effects?
- Asbestos related diseases are most prevalent in workers who have been exposed to high industrial concentrations of asbestos fibers over a long periods of time.
- The latency period, time between exposure and developing symptoms, can be between 10 and 40 years.
A disease that is characterized by fibrotic scarring of the lung and lung tissues, resulting in a reduction in the capacity of the lungs.
Exposure to asbestos is a known cause of lung cancer.
Mesothelioma is the rarest of the asbestos-related diseases. Mesothelioma is a cancer of the pleura, the thin tissues bordering the lungs and the chest cavity.
What is your risk?
Asbestos is only a hazard if you breathe it in. Asbestos fibers must get dispersed into the air and inhaled to be dangerous. As such, undisturbed building material is not a health hazard. In 1984 the Ontario Government established the "Royal Commission on Matters of Health and Safety Arising from the Use of Asbestos in Ontario" to research the risk of asbestos in buildings. The Commission concluded that the risk posed to building occupants by the presence of undisturbed asbestos was not significant.
How are we protected?
- BCIT has a comprehensive Asbestos Management Program.
- BCIT retains qualified environmental consultants to survey our campuses and maintain oversight on major projects that involve asbestos
- BCIT contracts asbestos abatement companies to safely remove asbestos
- BCIT Facilities Services Staff are trained to work with and around asbestos
BCIT Asbestos Management Program
The BCIT Asbestos Management Program outlines BCIT's approach towards assessment and management of the risks of exposure to asbestos. It outlines the roles and responsibilities of all BCIT community members and contractors to ensure that best practices are being followed in order to minimize exposures to asbestos.
This includes the BCIT Asbestos Management and Information Tool, an electronic system that is used to identify and track asbestos inventories.
Access the BCIT Asbestos Management Information Tool.
If you see damaged building materials please report it to Facilities Services.
If you have any questions related to asbestos, please contact the OHS division at BCIT BCIT_Occupational_Health_&_Safety@bcit.ca or call extension 8011.