November 23, 2016 1:57 am
Updated: November 23, 2016 2:00 am

Too many homeowners unaware of asbestos risk, says WorkSafeBC

WATCH: Worksafe BC says too many homeowners are unaware of the dangers of asbestos as they renovate older homes. Geoff Hastings has more.


Before the Vancouver home Kenny Gemmill’s company is working on was torn down to its shell it was inspected for asbestos. None was found, which is unusual for an older home.

Gemmill is thankful not to have to worry about asbestos at this site, but knows it’s an ongoing problem.

“It scares the crap out of me,” he said. “That’s what I’m going to hammer down to homeowners and the rest of my workers. We’re not going to take chances any more.”

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Common in construction before 1990, asbestos is a killer that can take decades to take a life.

Asbestos: What you need to know

For years, asbestos exposure has been the No. 1 killer of workers in B.C.

“We’ve had approximately 600 workers in last 10 years die of asbestos disease in this province. Their exposures came from industry,” Al Johnson of WorkSafeBC said.

The push is on to warn homeowners about what might be lurking in their walls. WorksafeBC recently launched an awareness campaign to highlight asbestos risk after a survey found a startling number of homeowners were unaware of the dangers of asbestos and their responsibilities to address the problem.

Asbestos-related cancers on rise: StatsCan

Vancouver’s real estate explosion has created a boom in home demolition, construction and renovation. Most contractors won’t consider a job with unaddressed asbestos problems.

“Asbestos is one of those things. You don’t know where you’re going to find it,” Gemmill said.

– With files from Geoff Hastings

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