What Homeowners Need to Know About Asbestos

Asbestos can be found in building materials of homes built pre-1990s. Whe planning a renovation or demolition of an older home its important to plan for asbestos testing and be informed about the risks associated with asbestos.

Asbestos is a mineral organically found and mixed into building materials for four decades because of the fire-resistant properties it has. When it became clear that inhaling asbestos fibers could be the cause of profoundly serious respiratory infection – mesothelioma most notably – the practice stopped in the 1990s, but the problem is that many older homes will still have asbestos in them.

If you have any reason to suspect your home has asbestos containing building materials, plan to have asbestos testing performed and contact a professional. As asbestos abatement experts, Urban Environmental is here to answer any questions or concerns regarding asbestos in your home. In this article we will lay out the risks associated with asbestos removal and provide you with the information you need if you are an owner of an older detached home that may have asbestos in the building materials.

Detailing the Risk

Asbestos exposure is the primary risk factor for mesothelioma. Breathing in asbestos fibres can also cause other serious health problems such as asbestosis, lung diseases and cancer. Asbestos exposure is the #1 killer of workers in B.C. and contributes to around 40+ workplace deaths each year. On an average, which works out to approximately 33% of all work-related deaths for the year. It is not possible to reverse the lung damage caused by asbestos exposure which is why its important to do all we can to minimize and eliminate the risk of exposure.

When asbestos-containing materials are disturbed, asbestos fibres can be released into the air. The problem is that asbestos fibres are microscopic – meaning it is too small to see without a microscope – and can be airborne for days. As the fibres are airborne it can circulate around or come to rest on other surfaces in your home. Due to it being impossible to see the fibres, there is a considerable risk of inhaling them.

Exposure to harmful airborne asbestos is known to potentially cause serious health concerns for anyone who is even only temporarily exposed to it. With regular exposure the risk factor becomes even greater.

Anyone who is planning to renovate or demolish a home built before 1990 should be talking to their contractor about undertaking asbestos testing and proper removal. Identifying and safely removing asbestos does come at an additional cost but doing so will ensure the health and safety of everyone working on the project or living on the property.

How to Know if Asbestos is in My Home?

Over the 40 years between 1950 and 1990 hundreds of thousands of homes in North America were built with materials that contained asbestos, and up until 30 years ago they did so without any understanding of how asbestos could be much more harmful than it is beneficial for being a fire retardant. In the year of 1990, the use of asbestos within building material was discontinued, that can be used as a basic guideline to know if asbestos testing is needed in your home.

Asbestos has been used in over 3,000 common building materials. Building materials such as plaster, drywall joint compound, spray applied texture, vinyl and linoleum floors, flooring mastic and window mastic in home build pre-1990 are likely to contain asbestos and should be assessed by a qualified professional prior to disturbing them.

We have explained that you cannot visually identify asbestos, and there’s no inexpensive DIY kit that you can buy at a hardware store to test the materials yourself. A qualified consultant or hazardous material building inspector would have to be contacted to sample and assess the materials at a lab for asbestos and provide you with a hazardous materials survey report.

Asbestos was found in my home, now what?

Once asbestos has been identified in your home and you have received your hazardous materials survey report the next step is to contact an asbestos abatement contractor. Finding a reputable and qualified asbestos abatement contractor is important to ensure that the removal process is done properly and safely following detailed safe work procedures.

The abatement contractor will ensure that asbestos-containing materials are identified and removed. Upon completion, a clearance letter will be provided outlining the hazardous materials removed and deeming the residence safe for repairs, renovation, or demolition.

What we do here at Urban Environmental is take samples of possible asbestos-containing materials in your home and assess them at a lab to see if asbestos is found. If the results come back as asbestos-containing, we will provide you with an estimate based on your proposed scope of work and remove all materials needed in a professional and safe manner.

Need Vancouver area asbestos abatement? Urban Environmental is tops for property remediation in Vancouver, Burnaby, Surrey and elsewhere in the Lower Mainland and we understand the importance you put on maintaining your home or commercial properties well.

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