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Uncontrolled work conditions, work with friable insulation materials and the extensive use of amphibole asbestos fibres in the past have resulted in asbestos-related disease. But times have changed: the types of fibres and products used are different, and dust control technology has evolved. Today, amphiboles are no longer used, the use of low-density friable insulation materials has been banned, and exposure limits for chrysotile are hundreds of times lower than past worker exposures.
All asbestos-related diseases have a long latency period, that is, it takes 20 to 40 years for the first symptoms to appear. Given the poor work conditions of the past, the widespread use of amphiboles up until the 70's, and this long latency period, it is not surprising that new cases of asbestos-related disease continue to be observed. But this has nothing to do with today's products containing only chrysotile and work conditions.
Even if these friable products containing chrysotile are present in many commercial buildings, mostly in Europe and North America, removal of asbestos insulation should be considered a measure of last resort and undertaken only when the material is beyond repair or at the time of major renovation work or building demolition. Hasty elimination of asbestos insulation considerably increases the probability that controls will not be adequately enforced, thus presenting a source of risk not only for the workers, but for building occupants as well.
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