Anti-asbestos crusader challenges Saskatoon to ask a simple question

The Saskatchewan Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization is challenging the city to ask everyone heading into the landfill with a load of junk if it might contain asbestos.

Jesse Todd worries harmful material could end up in landfill

This is what asbestos looks like in its raw form. The Saskatchewan Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization wants anyone heading to the landfill to ensure the material they are hauling doesn't contain asbestos. (Paul Chiasson/Canadian Press)

Saskatoon is a leader in the fight against asbestos exposure, according to a provincial organization dedicated to keeping people safe from its dangers.

That dust flies everywhere.- Jesse Todd, Saskatchewan Asbestos Disease Awareness Network

The Saskatchewan Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization hails the work the city does in asking building contractors to be aware of whether the materials they are bringing to the landfill contain asbestos.

Now, the organization's Jesse Todd is challenging the city to expand the program by asking a simple question to everyone heading to the landfill with a load of junk.    

"Does the material you are hauling today contain asbestos?" Todd asks.

"Even if the homeowner does not know, I think it's a very important question to ask."

Jesse Todd with the Saskatchewan Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization believes Saskatoon is a leader in keeping people safe from asbestos exposure, but that everyone, including the city, can do better. (CBC)

Asbestos-related deaths still a major issue

Todd said that he knows from first-hand experience that there is some danger people can be exposed to the potentially deadly fibres at the landfill.

"You start throwing your materials into the bin and then a big cloud of dust puffs up when your material hits the bottom. And if someone else disposed of some material — maybe some drywall material that contained asbestos or anything like that — it is very brittle and that dust flies everywhere, so the individual dumping material is exposed as well as the attendants working there."

Todd told CBC Radio's Saskatoon Morning that more awareness is needed. He said that workers' compensation claims and deaths from asbestos-related diseases remain constant. Thirty per cent of work deaths compensable by workers' compensation in this province are from asbestos exposure, according to the Saskatchewan Asbestos Disease Awareness Network.

The city does not allow asbestos into the landfill, and there are signs posted at the entry alerting people that it is a hazardous and prohibited substance. 

Todd's letter has been received for information at city hall.