Category : Environment
Here at Urban Environmental, we know and are professionally trained to deal with asbestos contamination issues. Naturally, the city of Vancouver is one of the highest concentrations of asbestos building materials in homes in the province, and our group has been containing and removing asbestos for years. So naturally, we have been asked a few times and decided to blog about, where is asbestos found, and what do you do if you see it.
Asbestos was used for years as a quality roofing material, and we have seen it in a number of areas. First, you may have asbestos in your roof shingles or original roof. The material is quite fire retardant which made for an attractive choice for roofs in the mid part of the 20th century. As well, you may see asbestos in vermiculite insulation, ceiling tiles, coatings and popcorn ceilings in and around Vancouver.
Due to the fire retardant and excellent insulation properties of asbestos, we have seen it in some wall units in Vancouver. This includes in drywall and cement sheets in basements and even in putty, plaster or caulking in older homes.
There are a ton of other areas in which asbestos can be hiding, and really… it can be anywhere. We have seen it in older electrical switchboards, primarily as secure housing insulation. As well, in pipe and duct covering, as well as in plumbing in some mid-century homes. Finally, we have also seen asbestos in the fireplace and thermal boiler insulation and vinyl floor tiles! The stuff can be anywhere, and whether you are professional remodeler or someone who is doing it themselves, you need to be wary of asbestos-laden materials that you could unearth in a home and what you need to do if you discover asbestos.
What to do if you find asbestos
If you are unlucky enough to uncover asbestos during a renovation, or any time, you need to stop, isolate the room and call the team at Urban Environmental. We are trained, and insured to provide asbestos abatement here in Vancouver, and will be able to contain and remove asbestos-laden materials with ease. We will ensure that the home is secure, and will chat with you on next steps, and how to secure your home and family from further contamination.
Asbestos is not something you deal with by yourself, and for the team at Urban Environmental, we know the dangers, and how to treat home to ensure asbestos will no longer be a concern. From the first contamination to turnover, Urban Environmental will be with you the entire way.
Here in British Columbia, we are blessed to live in a rain forest on the coast. We avoid those nasty winters that the rest of the country gets, and we get our rain and plenty of it. However, rain does mean that we live in a damp climate which in turn does increase the potential for mould in a home. Here at Urban Environmental, we are certified mould abatement professionals and thus have brought together the three common moulds we see on site here in the Greater Vancouver Regional District.
Aspergillus mould is your common mould that grows in wet, damp conditions. This growth is best known to affect foods and vegetables, but in some cases can affect the overall home. Typically, you will find Aspergillus in air conditioning units due to the damp and often dead air inside the unit. This can cause some issues as mould spores will be able to quickly infiltrate the home, and start to affect the homeowner. Aspergillus is quickly dealt with, but delaying treatment can cause significant risk to both your cardiovascular and respiratory system.
Cladosporium is the second most common mould on the west coast, and is best described as a pepper like substance and is either black or green in colour. We have seen this mould everywhere in a home, but typically you will see it growing on the back of toilets, painted surfaces that are prone to water or moisture and fibreglass air ducts. Although this mould is non-toxic in nature, it has been proven to trigger common allergy symptoms in many of our clients. These symptoms include things such as sore throats, rashes and red or watery eyes. It is best dealt with quickly to eliminate any potential issues.
Stachybotrys Atra (Black Mold)
Black mould is one of the most dangerous and fast-spreading moulds on the west coast. The spores are known to be able to multiply quickly and will spread to any organic surface that it can. This includes drywall, carpet, insulation and even sub-floors. A full black mould infestation can be an expensive and robust abatement process and is best left to the professionals at Urban Environmental. Health concerns with this mould mainly revolved around the respiratory system and are especially dangerous to the elderly and children.
If you or a loved one is dealing with mould issues, they need to call the team at Urban Environmental. With our mould abatement services, you can get your home and your health back from these tough little spores!
As we are an abatement company, the team at Urban Environmental knows its way around a contaminated job site. This is why we have brought together some information for our clients to understand who abatement of both vermiculite and asbestos is so essential. Without further adieu, here are the most common dangers associated with vermiculite and asbestos.
Vermiculite was a standard construction material in North America and was used routinely in both commercial and residential construction. The issue is that 70% of the world’s supply of vermiculite came from one mine in Montana, and this mine was later found to contain high amounts o tremolite asbestos. However, this was after millions of homes and offices utilised this cheap material for insulation and were used throughout the Greater Vancouver Regional District throughout the 1900s. So why doe this matter?
The Dangers of Asbestos
Whether it is from the tremolite asbestos found in vermiculite or asbestos found in homes from 1920-1960, asbestos is dangerous stuff. According to Health Canada, here are the dangers in breathing in asbestos fibres
- asbestosis which is a scarring of the lungs, which makes it difficult to breathe for months, if not your entire life.
- mesothelioma which is a rare cancer of the lining of the chest or abdominal cavity which is exceptionally lethal if not found quickly.
- Lung cancer which exposure to asbestos and smoking can significantly increase your overall risk of developing.
This is a grave concern, and no matter if you are working in the construction industry, or simply bought an older home that has not been renovated, the risks are the same. There are a few things that you can do to prevent the spread of asbestos, and some steps you can take to ensure it does not negatively affect you.
If you are looking to remodel or renovate an older home, and you uncover asbestos, shut the site down and ensure not to disturb the area. Next, you will need to call the team at Urban Environmental to start an asbestos abatement treatment to ensure that you and your team are safe during the rest of the renovation.
Whether it is vermiculite or asbestos, the leaders in Vancouver at Urban Environmental are ready and waiting to assist you in the abatement process. Call us today to find out more about the variety of services we offer, which of course includes both vermiculite abatement and asbestos abatement.
Asbestos is now considered a dangerous building material, but back in the 20th century, the material was common in homes across Canada. In this article, we are going to look at some ways you can tell if you are dealing with asbestos tiles, and what you can do in case you discover asbestos in your home.
- The age of your home
As asbestos was a popular building material here in Canada, the age of your home will determine the risk you have asbestos within your walls. Generally, it is accepted that if a house was built between 1920 and 1960, your home is at risk for having asbestos. This is especially true if your home still has its traditional finishes and materials.
One of the tell-tale signs of asbestos within your home is discolouration of tiles. The tiles will start to look oily, discoloured or even grimy. Discolouration related to the natural oil is the most common issue when it comes to asbestos and will ensure your tiles start to look grey, or even an off white.
- Floor Tile Size
If your home is at risk of asbestos, one of the easiest ways to determine if asbestos was used is if the tiles are one of three sizes asbestos titles were produced in. Asbestos titles came in 9-inch squares, 12-inch squares and 18-inch squares, and although there were small runs in other sizes and shapes, this information can help you determine if you are at risk.
- The black backing of the tiles
Asbestos tiles often have a black backing on the tiles to act as an adhesive. Unlike other tiles of the era that use a variety of putties and tapes, asbestos tiles came with their adhesive to secure them to the floor. If you are dealing with or discover a loose tile, and notice a black backing, you need to secure the tile and do not disturb it. Next, you need to call the team at Urban Environmental to secure the area and ensure that asbestos is not released into the air.
If you have discovered asbestos in the home, you should immediately call Urban Environmental. We are the leaders in Vancouver for asbestos abatement, and no matter if you are dealing with a small issue, or an entire home full of asbestos, we will be able to assist you in getting your home back.
Mould has been an issue for homes on the West Coast since people first inhabited these gorgeous shores, but in today’s day and age, it continues to wreak havoc. In this article, we are going to provide you with a few tricks and tips to ensure you can tell if you have a mould problem.
- Strange Smell
Mould has a very particular smell, and it truly stinks. If you notice an unpleasant odour in a specific room, it might mean that mould is living within the walls. The best way to determine if you do have mould is to call a company like Urban Environmental, who can run tests and start the abatement process if needed.
- The Appearance
You might be able to see the mould before it starts to become an issue. Generally, you will be able to see mould that is easy to distinguish between it and common soap scum you would find in a shower stall or tub. As well, you may be able to spot mould in damper areas in your home like the furnace room, garage or basement. If you do see mould, now is the time to call Urban Environmental to ensure your mould can be abated immediately.
- Knowing where your moisture sources are
If you have been dealing with a variety of water-related issues such as leaks or water damage, your home is quite susceptible to mould. If you do discover moisture, you will need to start to find the source of the moisture. If you are unable to find the source, do not fret, but you do need to keep an eye out on the area. Moisture breeds mould, and although you might not see any at the moment, a mould colony can spring up practically overnight. Focus on identifying and fixing the moisture source will go a long way in ensuring your home is mould free.
- Health Symptoms
Because mould cannot always be seen, it should be no surprise that one of the first signs of a mould infestation is flu-like symptoms. From raspatory issues including coughing, shortness of breath and constant dry coughs, too cold or flu symptoms including a running nose and allergy-like symptoms. If you are experiencing chronic issues, it might be due to mould!
Mould is not something to play around with, and if you suspect mould in your home, you need to call the leaders in mould abatement in and around Vancouver, Urban Environmental.
As one of the top-rated insulation company in Vancouver, the team at Urban Environmental knows when you need to replace your insulation. However, this does not mean you are aware of the signs! No matter if you are a newer homeowner or an established resident, the signs that you need to replace your home insulation might drift over your head. They are minute but critical, and as insulation will cost you money over the long run, the faster you move to replace it, the better. Thus, in this blog, we are going to showcase the five signs that you might need to replace your home insulation!
- Water Damage
Water and insulation do not match, and if your home insulation has any moisture in it, it can render it utterly ineffective. This means no matter if your insulation is damp or soaked, it needs to be replaced. Plus, with the risk of mould growth in wet insulation, it is best to call Urban Environmental sooner rather than later.
Have you been noticing drafts in your home? If you feel cold drafts moving around your house that is not from your windows or doors, it is time to do some investigating. Chances are you will track these drafts to the attic or crawlspace, which means you will need to look at replacing your home insulation to avoid heat loss.
- Differing indoor temperatures
Fluctuating temperatures in your home can be a sign that you need to replace your home insulation. This is exceptionally noticeable from room to room or even floor to floor, and if you do notice it, it is time to call Urban Environmental.
- High heating and cooling costs
Yes, we live in a time where heating and cooling is expensive, but if you start to notice your costs creeping up without changing the price, it can be a sign that you need new insulation. This means if your heating system is working harder in the winter, or your air conditioner is working hard in the summer, it might not just be the temperature. Simply put, high-quality insulation from Urban Environmental can make the difference between saving and owing money at the end of the year.
Pests are never a good thing to deal with, but when you consider insulation can make the perfect home for rodents, you will need new insulation. Pests such as squirrels, rats and even mice have been known to nest in the attic or crawlspace insulation, and this is not a good thing. If you do discover pests, call the exterminator then call the team at Urban Environmental.
From insulation removal to insulation instalment, the team at Urban Environmental is one of the premier options in and around Vancouver for all things insulation!
Here at Urban Environmental we typically deal with our services, but in this blog, we decided to talk business. We have been operating in the building demolition space for more than a few years, and when it comes to our demolition services, we always look for the best way forward. Whether it is dealing with green vs other waste, or recycling building materials, here are some of the most effective materials that can be recycled upon demolition.
One of the most popular construction materials in the world is concrete, and a single commercial demolition can yield tons of concrete. Generally, concrete is grounded down into gravel which is then used for building material for new buildings. There are some companies that offer on-site concrete crushing that we work within and around Vancouver to speed up the process of concrete to gravel.
Steel is one of the most valuable resources on a job site, and during demolition, it is often worth it for our technicians to separate it from the other materials. This is especially true when we are demolishing older buildings as the quality of steel can be higher than the more common production steel that we see in everyday work. Steel or scrap metals can be recycled to create new products from fridges to cars.
Interior doors and beams
Old and reclaimed wood has seen a massive upswing in popularity over the last few years, and as a demolition company, we have seen our fair share in interior doors or beams. There are a few companies that we work within Vancouver that will touch base with us during demolition, and even if the wood is in bad condition, it can be recycled to be included in another project.
Sinks and Toilets
One of those crazy things that we have learned while completed demolition is that sinks and toilets can be one of the most prized items. If we are working with a salvage company, they will inspect and take out any sinks, toilets or tubs that are worth restoring to their original condition to resale down the line. If they are not, porcelain can be recycled with the concrete to create gravel. While steel fixtures are utilised with the other scrap metals.
So what does this mean, well for us here at Urban Environmental it implies that our demolition services are a little more complicated than knocking down a building? We want to save as much of a structure as possible, and no matter if we are looking at steel, interior doors and beams, sinks and toilets or even concrete, our team will do our best to share, or recycle them if necessary. Urban Environmental is a proud Vancouver company, and we always do our best to save our history, even if it is a sink.
Here at Urban Environmental, we have been called to our fair share of cleanups on hoarding sites. Often this is because of the biohazards that come with an individual who has been hoarding for some years. We have had to deal with human waste, and animal decomposition along with other things, so take it from us, hoarding is a severe disease that needs to be monitored. Thus, we have brought together some high-risk signs of hoarding to look for in your friends and family.
More than just a few odds and ends, clutter collecting will begin to dominate the way in which an individual moves within their home. Whether you are dealing with excess furniture or an inability to remove trash from the house, clutter collection is a dangerous warning sign of hoarding. Clutter is a gateway to hoarding, and if not taken care of, can lead to clutter covering every single centre metre of space in a home.
Social anxiety by itself is not a risk sign of hoarding, but in a combination of a few of the other risk signs, it can showcase a trend towards hoarding. Generally, before an individual begins to hoard they will remove themselves from social relationships, and thus social anxiety when combined with isolation can lead to hoarding.
One of the major issues when it comes to hoarding is alcohol dependence, and although there is no cemented link between the two diseases, one thing that is clear is that they both stem from an addictive personality. Alcohol is a poison in two ways. First, it ensures an individual is not taking care of their body, and secondly will only add to the clutter in a home.
Early Warning Signs
It is has been shown throughout the years that children and teens that gravitate towards collecting broken objects and trash could be showing early signs of hoarding. This does not mean that a child who likes to collect seashells is going to be a hoarder, but if someone is collecting garbage throughout their teen years without creating something out of it, they may be showing early behaviours towards a future of hoarding.
One of the current focuses for researchers around hoarding has been the link between an individual and their family with the disease. It has not been proven that genetics play a role in the condition, but current data shows a correlation between family members with hoarding disorders and an individual with the same disease. Researchers are currently engaged in some studies across North America on determining if hoarding is a genetic bond or a learned trait.
Hoarding is a severe disease, and the team at Urban Environmental is hopeful that these early warning signs will help you or a family member identify and take corrective measures with a loved one before we need to get involved.
Vancouver is a city that is full of life and Highrise condos, but throughout the city, the post-war housing style homes are still dominating the urban landscape. This can cause an issue as if a home has not been appropriately treated; chances are there is asbestos. In this article, we are going to look at where you can find asbestos and what to do if you see it in your home or office.
Where can asbestos be found
No matter if we are talking home or an office, asbestos can genuinely be anywhere, especially in an older house.
Insulation that was installed between the 1920’s and 1980’s and is considered vermiculite insulation could and probably has asbestos.
A home that features popcorn ceilings tiled or textured paint, and was last painted in the early 1980’s or below typically has asbestos.
Specific brands and fibres of wall tiles and textures contained high levels of asbestos up until the 1980’s as a fire-resistant feature.
Up until the 1980’s asbestos was used in window putty to add strength and fire resistance to windows.
Wood Burning Stoves
Before the 1980’s the wood around wood-burning stoves would be protected by asbestos paper due to its flame resistant properties. In newer fireplaces, the fake ash, embers and logs can contain asbestos paper depending on the manufacturer.
Depending on the manufacturer, water heaters can contain asbestos within the insulating blanket on the metal cover.
Older garages or sheds could be constructed with wall and roof tiles that contain asbestos. Plus you may also have asbestos pipe insulation that was designed to avoid your pipes freezing.
Most manufacturers before the 1970’s utilised asbestos for both exterior and interior of the boiler.
What to do if asbestos is found
If you find asbestos, you need to take a few immediate measures. The first is to call the team at Urban Environmental. We are one of the premier asbestos abatement teams in the city, and no matter if it is a residential or commercial build, the team at Urban Environmental has you covered. We will either contain or remove the asbestos and bring the affected building materials to a government-approved dumping site where it is held and destroyed. Asbestos is nothing to joke around with, and here at Urban Environmental we go above and beyond to ensure our technicians are safe, and the home or office we work on is entirely abated and protected by the time we leave.
Asbestos… it could be everywhere, but luckily for those in Vancouver, Urban Environmental is the premier option for asbestos abatement in the city. If you spot asbestos, call the team at Urban Environmental, it is that simple.
As a first time home buyer, it can be tough to remember to do all of the proper things. One of the main failures of first-time homebuyers is to check the various nooks and crannies of their home during the inspection for mould. Black mould is one of the most common issues in homes in and around Vancouver, and for many, this can mean serious allergy issues, and permanent damage if these mould spurs are not brought under control. So in this blog, we are going to look at what you need to do if you spot mould in your home.
If you have found a potential mould spot in your home, chances are they are in multiple places. Take a quick peek around the attic and any other exposed spots of the house. Do not go over the top, but the faster our technicians are told about other problem spots, the better we can control the growth. During this check, be careful not to touch or inhale any of the moulds, and if you are not comfortable with an inspection call the team at Urban Environmental as soon as possible, as we will be on site quickly.
2. Call Urban Environmental
If we were not called during step one, we need to be involved in phase two. Once we get a phone call from a client, our trucks and technicians rush into business. Our team has been trained to handle mould spurs, and black mould is one of their specialities. Once on site, we will do a full inspection of the home to ensure we are not missing any spots and they will chat with the homeowner about treatment options. Typically, we do not require the family to leave home, but in sporadic cases, we have been known to request the family move out for a while due to the dangers of these spores to their health.
3. Let the experts do their work
Our treatments will depend on the severity and strain of mould, but generally, we will deal with spot treatments to ensure that the mould does not spread and can be quickly killed off. As the mould is a living thing, our technicians will work to stop its spread using safe chemicals and sprays at the site of the infestation.
4. Enjoy a mould free home in only a few days
Once the team at Urban Environmental has finished up our last treatment, you and your home will be mould free at that location. Mould is a general issue in the Greater Vancouver Area, and although we may have dealt with that section of your home, that does not mean your home will always be free of mould. We often suggest to all of our clients to have a home inspector come into the house to ensure that there are no other issue spots. As we never like coming back to deal with another pocket of mould!
From mould to black mould, the team at Urban Environmental is your premier option for mould remediation here in Vancouver and the surrounding area!