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Asbestos-Containing Water Pipes and Testing to Assess Exposure Risks

A news outlet in Canada recently published an article about old water mains built with concrete that contain asbestos. The article discussed the miles of asbestos-containing pipes found in many cities and possible health concerns due to asbestos fibers potentially making their way into people’s drinking water.


While the dangers of inhalation exposure to asbestos fibers is well known and has been labeled a human carcinogen as it can cause lung cancer and mesothelioma, potential exposure risks for communities that have asbestos-containing water pipes that could expose residents to swallowing asbestos fibers is not as clear, reported the Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry (ATSDR). Some groups of people who have been exposed to asbestos fibers in their drinking water have higher-than-average death rates from cancer of the esophagus, stomach and intestines, but it is difficult to tell whether this is caused by asbestos or by something else, stated the agency. Some health experts also believe exposure to asbestos fibers in drinking water could be one possible cause of malignant peritoneal mesothelioma (MPM), a rare type of cancer of the peritoneum that surrounds the abdominal cavity.


“Concrete pipes containing asbestos were once commonly used in both Canada and the United States,” said Joe Frasca, Senior Vice President of Marketing at EMSL Analytical, Inc. “They were even installed up until the 1980s in some circumstances. Asbestos fibers that do enter drinking water from asbestos-containing pipes do not dissolve in it, the fibers are transported in the water. Another concern for communities replacing underground water and sewer pipes that contain asbestos is the possibility of exposure for workers and the public when the pipes are removed, broken and transported away as the fibers can easily become airborne if the proper safety precautions are not in place.”


The scientists at EMSL Analytical, Inc. provide testing services to detect for asbestos and many other harmful materials. EMSL has laboratories across the United States and Canada that provide bulk material, environmental and industrial hygiene testing services, sampling supplies, test kits and personal protective equipment (PPE).


To learn more about asbestos or other environmental and industrial hygiene testing services and supplies, please visit www.EMSL.com, email info@EMSL.com or call (800) 220-3675. To access asbestos test kits, visit www.AsbestosTestKit.com.



About EMSL Canada, Inc.

EMSL Canada is an internationally recognized provider of environmental, indoor air quality and materials testing services and products to professionals and the general public. The company has an extensive list of accreditations from leading organizations as well as state and federal regulating bodies.


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