As a homeowner, your property is likely one of your biggest investments. Protecting it from harm, whether structural or health-related,…
As a Toronto homeowner, you’ve likely heard about the dangers of asbestos. From older homes to recent renovations, asbestos can…
In the early 20th century, asbestos was widely used as a building material in Canada due to its strength, heat…
- Some loose-fill vermiculite insulation may contain asbestos and should not be disturbed.
- Do not store items near vermiculite insulation, if the insulation can be disturbed.
- Keep children away from loose-fill vermiculite insulation.
- If activities are planned that will disturb vermiculite, consult a certified asbestos removal company.
If you are unsure whether or not the products in your home contain asbestos, have an experienced contractor inspect them. If there is asbestos, the best interim measure (unless the product is peeling or deteriorating) is to seal the surface temporarily so that fibres will not be released into indoor air. If the product is already protected or isolated, simply leave it alone.
It is a complex and expensive matter to remove asbestos, and should be done by an experienced contractor who will take the appropriate safety measures. When disturbing an asbestos product, it is essential to take maximum precautions to safeguard the workers and anybody else who may be nearby. The work space must be isolated to ensure that asbestos dust remains within the work area and cannot be breathed in by unprotected persons. Everybody who works with asbestos should always wear an approved face mask and gloves, along with protective clothing. Sleeves and trouser cuffs must be taped closed, and clothing must be cleaned separately after use. It is essential that a high level of moisture is maintained in the work area to keep dust and fibre particles from floating into the air.
Air pressure is reduced to prevent asbestos fibres from escaping from the work area, and the exhaust air is filtered. All waste is disposed of appropriately, according to the guidelines of the provincial department of the environment. Other removal methods may be warranted for special conditions and should be conducted by an expert.
Today, far fewer products in the home contain asbestos. Current products that do contain the material are better made to withstand wear and use.
However, frequent or prolonged exposure to asbestos fibres may still bring associated health risks. This is due to with the release of fibres into the air when asbestos-containing products break down, either through deterioration as they age, or when they are cut. People can put themselves at risk — often without realizing it — if they do not take proper precautions when conducting repairs or renovations, as they can disturb asbestos containing materials, for example:
- Disturbing loose-fill vermiculite insulation which may contain asbestos;
- Removing deteriorating roofing shingles and siding containing asbestos, or tampering with roofing felt that contains asbestos;
- Ripping away old asbestos insulation from around a hot water tank;
- Sanding or scraping vinyl asbestos floor tiles;
- Breaking apart acoustical ceiling tiles containing asbestos;
- Sanding plaster containing asbestos, or sanding or disturbing acoustical plaster that gives ceilings and walls a soft, textured appearance;
- Sanding or scraping older water-based asbestos coatings such as roofing compounds, spackling, sealants, paint, putty, caulking or drywall;
- Sawing, drilling or smoothing rough edges of new or old asbestos materials.
Health Canada states that the asbestos content of a product does not indicate its health risk. Asbestos poses health risks only when fibres are in the air that people breathe. Asbestos fibres lodge in the lungs, causing scarring that can ultimately lead to severely impaired lung function (asbestosis) and cancers of the lungs or lung cavity.
Concern for the health of asbestos workers was expressed as long ago as the late 1800s. The risks became more evident in the late 1960s, when workers who had been heavily exposed 20 to 30 years earlier showed increased incidence of lung disease. Occupational exposure is now strictly regulated by provincial governments.