Answers to Essential Asbestos Questions
Asbestos was once a widely-used material, one that could be found in all sorts of applications. Although people suspected that it could be dangerous for quite some time, the scientific consensus on the health risks it poses came together relatively recently.
Historically, asbestos import, sale and use, as well as manufacturing importing, has been previously banned with some exceptions. The banning of asbestos in Canada was first implemented in the mid to late 1970s. The sale and use of asbestos in Canada was previously regulated by the Federal Government (Hazardous Products ACT).
Recently, in 2018, the government of Canada officially announced the prohibition of asbestos and asbestos-containing products. Although it has been effectively taken out of circulation in new Canadian products, asbestos can still be found in lots of places, particularly old building materials.
If you are concerned about the potential presence of asbestos in your home, this guide will explain the situations that call for asbestos testing and how to go about it.
When to Hire Asbestos Testing Services
If you are about to undertake a renovation or demolition project in an old home or building, it is best practice to find a qualified asbestos testing company for a full inspection of the site prior to starting work. Also, if you own an aging home or building where a fire or flood has caused damage, it’s important to find out if asbestos is present before the remediation work begins.
Disturbing building materials suspected to contain asbestos could potentially create conditions for asbestos fibre exposure to anyone working or passing by the work area, as the suspected building material could potentially release asbestos fibres into the air. If you suspect that something contains asbestos, do not disturb the material yourself.
The best way to reduce your risk of exposure is to hire asbestos removal consultants or specialists before renovation or demolition work begins because they will be able to take a sample of the material to identify the type of asbestos and remove it safely.
Which Materials Contain Asbestos?
As a general rule of thumb, the older a building is, the more likely it is to contain some type of asbestos, as it was gradually phased out of use prior to the ban.
In homes across Canada, people often find asbestos in the following areas:
Drywall Joint Compound
Asbestos fibres were added to drywall mud, and the mud was then applied to the seams, joints and corners of drywall.
This loose, low-density insulation is commonly found in the attics of old houses, because asbestos was once a widely used component of this material, it should be considered a potential source of asbestos contamination.
Vinyl Floor Tiles and Ceiling Tiles
Many kinds of vinyl floor and ceiling tiles, as well as their adhesives, once used asbestos as a key component.
Boiler, Pipe and Duct Insulation
Because asbestos is both flame retardant and an effective insulator, it was often used to make pipe and duct wraps.
Popcorn Ceilings and Ceiling Texture Coat
Sometimes called stippled ceilings or textured ceiling, this textured finish was once a fixture in homes and office buildings. Although not all popcorn ceilings contain asbestos, vermiculite insulation was frequently used in their construction process, so they should be considered a potential source of asbestos.
This list is far from exhaustive, as there are many other household materials that may contain asbestos.
Common Methods of Asbestos Exposure
If left undisturbed, enclosed and in good condition, products that contain asbestos pose little to no risk. The danger lies in situations where asbestos fibres are released into the air because they can be easily inhaled and cause a variety of serious health problems, ranging from lung irritation all the way to lung cancer.
Asbestos fibers can become airborne by:
- Disturbing or removing old attic insulation, pipe wraps and duct wraps
- Sanding, scraping or breaking old floor or ceiling tiles
- Breaking or removing old roofing shingles or other roofing materials
- Sawing, sanding, drilling or demolishing old plaster
Who Can Perform an Asbestos Test?
Although anyone can collect a sample, it is best left to experienced professionals. Sampling for asbestos is considered to be low risk potential for exposure. The right tools for the job along with hiring experienced personnel to collect the samples is the safest and most efficient method for asbestos sampling.
Asbestos sampling technicians will collect samples, place the samples within a ziplock bag, label and ship with a chain of custody to an accredited laboratory for analysis. Typically test results can be made available anywhere from 24 hours to 7 days.
Going with a professional asbestos testing company will ultimately be the safest, most efficient and most reliable way to figure out if you have an asbestos issue to manage. If asbestos is identified within the property, proper asbestos abatement is required, and the right training, safety equipment, and protective clothing is important to complete the work.
Find Asbestos Testing and Removal Specialists
If you need asbestos testing or removal, make sure the company you choose offers the right services. They should be able to clearly explain their plans for:
- Clear Identification – Sampling, testing and reporting should be transparent and properly communicated.
- Safe Removal – Following identification, a clear plan for safe removal should be in place to protect the building’s occupants.
- Proper Disposal – Each municipality has particular rules surrounding the disposal of hazardous materials that must be followed.
If you live in the Calgary area, Certified Asbestos brings over 15 years of experience and the industry’s best practices to handle asbestos removal quickly and effectively.