Breathing in Death

Breathing in Death

Crystalline Silica 

Crystalline Silica is one of the most commonly used substances in construction materials and you need a Qualitative Respirator Fit Testing conducted when working with it. You will find Crystalline Silica in every concrete, product used today. Hardie Planks, used for exterior siding and trim also contain Crystalline Silica. Like Asbestos if soaked with water it is virtually harmless. It's when you cut these products dry, the dust become deadly.  

Long-term exposure to airborne crystalline silica (for example, quartz) can cause a disabling, sometimes fatal lung disease called silicosis as well exposure to crystalline silica has been linked to lung cancer. The damage to your lungs and resulting scar tissue prevent oxygen transfer to your blood. 

When conducting a task that will create silica dust, use a water misting delivery system. The water molecules will grab the silica, make it heavier than air, and knocking it down. This is an engineering control. You still need PPE. The personal protective equipment widely used is a 1/2 mask with P100 HEPA filters. We conduct  Qualitative Respirator Fit Testing to a  CSA Standard CAN/CSA-Z94.4-02

Maximum Daily Exposure rate of Crystalline Silica  is  .025 mg /m³ of air over an 8 hour period.  TWA 



Asbestosis still in houses and buildings built before 1980. Its in old floor tiles, ceiling tiles, roof shingles and a very wide assortment of other materials. Some newer houses may also contain asbestos. In fact, due to old stockpiles of materials, construction projects built prior to 1990 may contain Asbestos.                         

Asbestos has been in products for a very long time. It was not until the early part of the twentieth century that the relationship between the use of asbestos and a variety of health effects became a source of concern to the medical profession. Even in the modern times, Asbestos still accounts for over a dozen worker deaths each year in BC alone. 

Workers must protect themselves. A whole regiment  of regulations legislate the abatement of a materials being removed during demolishing  from older homes and buildings.  Fit Tested 1/2 masks with P100 HEPA filters must be utilized under the law. We conduct Qualitative Respirator Fit Testing using irritant smoke . All  Qualitative Respirator Fit Testing is conducted to a  CSA Standard CAN/CSA-Z94.4-02



Lead is one of the few natural substances that has no use in the human body. At even very low levels, lead has been shown to cause health problems. The difficulty with lead is that once it is mined from the earth, there is no known way to destroy it or make it harmless. This makes it extremely important that we reduce our use of lead and dispose of it properly.

Lead primarily enters the body through ingestion or inhalation, once lead gets into the body it is absorbed and distributed throughout the body. This can damage the organs or the blood's ability to make red blood cells. Dangerous health effects or toxic effects are usually broken into two categories - short-term (acute) or long-term (chronic), Lead can cause both acute and chronic health effects.

Lead can be found in paint applied prior  to 1978, and in the solder used for repairing tin water containers in older motorhomes, trailers and campers  in trailers. Back in the Roman Empire, lead cups were drank from and it is widely considered to be one of the leading causes of its fall. 

When removing lead paint workers must wear a fit tested 1/2 mask with P100 HEPA filters. 


Chemicals & Biological

Chemicals and Biological contaminants are not as common as silica, lead and asbestos, but they can be just as deadly.m Chemicals can be found in any of your WHMIS files and SDS (MSDS) materials on site. Follow the recommendations to their fullest extent. In the case of biological contamination,  most likely it would be caused by exposure during a demolition. Substances like black mold, or in the case of a abandoned building that squatters, transient , and homeless people have lived in, human waist, blood containing diseases and airborne infections like SARS and  H1N1 are a very real risk.

A fit tested 1/2 mask with the proper HEPA filters for such diseases and chemicals must be utilized.  In some cases an addition black canister is utilized. This is charcoal and the purpose is to remove odors as well.