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Minimizing Asbestos Health Risks While Renovating

Danger Asbestos RemovalSo, you’re looking to renovate your home. Obviously, that is bound to take a lot of work. Changing the environment you live in can take weeks or even months to complete depending on how much you are looking to change. How many rooms will you be redesigning? Are you putting in new flooring? Will new paint jobs be in order? Renovations, it should go without saying, are huge undertakings!

Do I have to worry about asbestos? This is, however, another extremely important question to ask when you are planning on renovating your home. As Pinchin.com explains, “today, few products contain asbestos, and those that do are regulated and must be properly labelled. However, before the 1970s, many types of home building materials and products used in the home contained asbestos and may be at risk of releasing fibres in to the air.”

That means that if you are renovating an older home, checking for asbestos is mandatory. The last thing you want is to damage your health or the health of your family and friends – not to mention the workers renovating your home – by having them breathe in those fatally dangerous asbestos fibres. Because asbestos was commonly used for insulation prior to the 1990s, it may be contained in your home.

When these fibres are disturbed and become airborne, they can get trapped in your lungs if inhaled. As we’ve blogged about before, this can lead to forms of lung cancer such as mesothelioma as well as asbestosis. Pinchin.com points out that asbestos may be lurking in places other than just your insulation.

So what are the different sources of asbestos that could exist in the home? According to the site, they include, but are not limited to cement roofing, roofing felt, shingles and siding; asphalt and rubber floor tiles, including the backing and adhesives used to install floor tile; steam pipes, furnace ducts, hot water tanks and boilers; soundproofing or decorative material sprayed on walls and ceilings; textured paints; artificial ashes and embers used in gas fireplaces and older ironing board covers, stovetop pads and fireproof gloves.

According to Health Canada, “homeowners should receive expert advice before removing materials that may contain asbestos. If you think your home may contain asbestos, check regularly for signs of wear or damage. However, you can’t always tell just by looking at a material.” In fact, Pinchin.com insists that professionals should be called in to inspect for asbestos before any renovations are made.

“You can’t identify items that may contain asbestos simply by looking at them,” says the website, “The only way to confirm the presence of asbestos is to take a sample of the material and have it tested by an accredited asbestos laboratory. If you suspect asbestos, the safest approach is to treat the material as if it does contain asbestos.”

So how can you minimize asbestos health risks while renovating? According to Health Canada, you should “keep other people and pets away, and seal off the work area; wet the material to reduce dust, making sure it is not in contact with electricity; if possible, do not cut or damage the materials further and do not break them up (and) clean the work area afterwards using a damp cloth, not a vacuum cleaner, and seal the asbestos waste and cloth in a plastic bag.”

At DF Technical & Consulting Services Ltd., we offer top-of-the-line Asbestos Containing Materials (ACM) Services. For more information on how you can have professionals inspect your home to confirm the presence of asbestos, call us at 1-855-668-3131 or email info@dftechnical.ca.

One Comment

  1. April 28, 2015 at 4:21 am

    It’s good that Health Canada advised on having experts give their word about what to do before removing asbestos from a property. Improper handling will send asbestos fibers to the air, causing very serious health exposure. Asbestos should always be handled by professionals who are trained to manipulate and remove asbestos according to the degree of damage the material has sustained.

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