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A Cost Benefit Analysis of Asbestos Essay

ABSTRACT

Asbestos are minerals found everywhere. They are present in any buildings and schools. They were found on the paints that were used to coat the buildings and its facilities. Asbestos fibers posed health risk when the fibers are in the air. Asbestosis, Lung cancer and Mesothelioma are the diseases brought about by exposure in asbestos. The level of its effects varied on many factors. The presence of asbestos in the Winnipeg School Division 1 risked the health of students and personnel but with their awareness on asbestos do’s and dont’s and with their set standards and guidelines it made Winnipeg School Division 1, though not free with asbestos, a safe place for the students and personnel.

I. Introduction

            Asbestos are fibrous minerals which occurs naturally in rocks. These minerals are strong, durable and non-combustible. They are found almost everywhere. Their availability and the characteristics they possessed made them essential in construction and in many other industries. According to an article titled Health Risk of Asbestos, commercial asbestos fibers are grouped into two, the amphibole group and the serpentine group. Amphibole asbestos contains more iron and resists acids and extremely high temperatures. With these characteristics, it is heavily used in industrial furnaces

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and heating systems. However, when inhaled, it stayed longer in the lungs and is more likely to inflect damage and causes diseases, including cancer. Amphibole asbestos has been drastically controlled and largely replaced. Chrysotile, on the other hand, is the only serpentine asbestos found in almost all asbestos-based products available today. It is the main form of asbestos that is still mined today. Chrysotile asbestos is less potent and does less damage to the lungs. (Health Risk)

            Asbestos is present in almost all buildings. It is present in the paints that coated buildings. It is also present in heat insulation products and in asbestos cement products where structural strength is required.

            The main focus of this paper is on the effects of the presence of asbestos in a school environment and the necessary steps taken to reduce its effects.

II. The Issue

            Asbestos fibers only posed health risk when it is released in the air. Our different activities sometimes disturbed and released the asbestos fibers into the air. The repair, alteration, or maintenance of a building, structure, machine, tool or equipment, or parts of it was few of our activities.

            Asbestos related diseases were generally due to the fiber entry into the respiratory tract (lungs). The depth of penetration into the lungs depended on the fiber’s length, diameter, and straightness. The size range of the fibers that appeared to penetrate deepest were those considered to be of the respirable fiber size of 3 micrometers and less in diameter, of which the length was at least 3 times the diameter. (Guideline for Managing Asbestos)

            The exposure to asbestos dust led to three main health consequences – Asbestosis, Lung cancer and Mesothelioma. Asbestosis is an incurable lung disease resulted from prolonged exposure to asbestos dust. The asbestos fibers gradually caused the lung to become scarred and stiff which resulted to an increased breathing difficulty. Lung cancer, on the other hand, may be caused by asbestos fibers in the lung. The exact way in which asbestos causes lung cancer is not fully known. It has been shown that the combination of smoking tobacco and inhaling asbestos fibers greatly increase the risk of lung cancer. Lastly, Mesothelioma is a very rare but very malignant form of cancer affecting the lining of the chest or the abdominal cavity. (Guideline for Managing Asbestos)

            The exposure effects of asbestos can affect a person depending on the concentration of asbestos fibers in the air, how long the exposure lasted, how often one is exposed, the size of the asbestos fibers inhaled and the amount of time since the initial exposure. (Health Risk)

In Winnipeg School Division 1 article entitled Guideline for Managing Asbestos in School Facilities, asbestos was classified into three – Chrysotile (white asbestos), Amosite (brown asbestos), and Crocidolite (blue asbestos). In the article, Chrysotile was defined as the most commonly used asbestos. It was found as an insulating material on many Winnipeg School Division’s boilers, tanks, and piping. Amosite has been used in sprayed coatings, heat insulation products and in asbestos cement products where greater strength is required. Crocidolite was commonly used prior to 1973 in sprayed coatings on structural steel work for fire protection and for heat or noise insulation. Some other types of asbestos seldom used in school buildings were Actinolote, Anthophylite and Tremolite.

            The presence of asbestos in schools, especially those with old buildings, and in its facilities risked the health of the students and the personnel alike.

            With the presence of asbestos in Winnipeg School Division 1, standards and guidelines were set. According to their guidelines, the following incidence may lead to asbestos hazard condition: 1) water leak from piping with asbestos; 2) emergency repair of boiler or vessel insulated with asbestos-containing material; 3) discovery of dislodged asbestos pipe wrap and; 4) discovery of dislodged spray-applied asbestos insulation fireproofing.

In the case where the above stated incidents were identified, the following steps were advised to be taken. 1) Do not disturb the material in anyway; 2) Isolate the area from access by unprotected and unauthorized persons; 3) Report the condition to the Administration, Supervisor or Chief/Head Caretaker; 4) Administration, Supervisor or Chief/Head Caretaker is to notify the Workplace Safety and Health Officer immediately and; 5) Outside of regular working hours, notify the Division’s on-duty electrician. (Guideline for Managing Asbestos)

In cases of asbestos hazard conditions, the Workplace Safety and Health Officer of the Division have classified the work into three categories: Type 1 or Low Risk Classification Activities where there is a low risk of exposure to air borne asbestos fibers and almost no health risk; Type 2 or Moderate Risk Classification Activities where there is a moderate risk of exposure to air borne asbestos fibers and some health risk and; Type 3 or High Risk Classification Activities where there is a high risk of exposure to air borne asbestos and a high risk of health effects. Type 1 Work is the only activity which may be performed by Division Personnel. Their work covers: 1) installation or removal of non-friable asbestos-containing manufactured products; 2) working in close proximity to friable material containing asbestos provided that the asbestos material was not disturbed; 3) using protective equipment or clothing made of textiles containing asbestos; 4) transportation or handling materials containing asbestos in sealed containers and; 5) removal of drywall or plaster where asbestos joint filling compounds have been used but where sampling analysis indicates asbestos quantities less than 1%. Type 2 Work will only be performed by qualified asbestos abatement consultant. Their work includes: 1) removing a false ceiling, or part of it, to gain access to a work area where friable material containing asbestos is or is likely to be, lying on the surface of the false ceiling; 2) removing, encapsulating, enclosing, or disturbing minor amounts of friable material containing asbestos during the repair, alteration, or maintenance of a building, structure, machine, tool or equipment, or parts of it. Type 3 Work will only be performed by a qualified asbestos removal contractor under the supervision of a qualified asbestos abatement consultant. Their work includes: 1) any removal, other that of a minor nature, of friable material containing asbestos; 2) the spray application of a sealant to a friable asbestos-containing material; 3) cleaning, maintaining or removing air handling equipment in buildings where sprayed fireproofing materials containing asbestos have been applied to the airways or ventilation ducts; 4) the repair, altering or dismantling of a boiler, furnace, kiln or similar device or part of it where insulating materials containing asbestos have been used or applied and; 5) demolishing, dismantling, altering, or repairing any building structure or parts of it in which insulating materials containing asbestos was used. (Guideline for Managing Asbestos)

Conclusion

            The presence of asbestos in the facilities of Winnipeg School Division 1 indeed posted a risk for the student and personnel alike when not handled properly. With their set guidelines, standards and their awareness and knowledge on asbestos the distribution or release of asbestos fibers were minimized. The risks of exposure to asbestos fibers were also minimized. Winnipeg School Division 1, though not free from asbestos, is still a safe place for students and personnel alike.

Reference:

Asbestos in schools (1994). Work Safe Bulletin. Bulletin No. 156. Retrieved November 29, 2006,

from http://www.gov.mb.ca/labour/safety/pdf/bltn156.pdf.

The Winnipeg school division no.1: Guideline for managing asbestos in school facilities.

Winnipeg School Division No. 1. Retrieved November 29, 2006, from

http://www.wsd1.org/AdminDepts/HR/WHS/asbestos.pdf.

High risk of asbestos (2005). Her Majesty Queen in Right of Canada. Retrieved November 29,

2006, from http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/iyh-vsv/environ/asbestos-amainte_e.html.

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