Demolition Safety: Everything You Need to Know About Asbestos

Date: Monday, February 23, 2015

You hear about it all the time but now you’re wondering, what is asbestos?

Asbestos is a fibrous material that was frequently used in home construction in the 1950s to 1990s. In recent years, however, it’s been discovered that asbestos exposure can have extremely negative health consequences. People who work around asbestos, or families who are unknowingly living in high-asbestos environments, are at high risk for many asbestos-related diseases simply from breathing. These diseases include mesothelioma, lung cancer, asbestosis and pleural thickening. These conditions can also be exacerbated by other factors like smoking, age and the length of asbestos exposure.

If you’re living in a home that contains asbestos that is in good condition, your risk is significantly lower. For the most part, asbestos-containing material that is in good condition will not release the toxic asbestos fibres that enter the lungs and cause damage.

But what should you do if you’re planning to complete a home renovation on a home or space that was built before the 1990s and involves asbestos removal?

It’s important to note that asbestos is at its most hazardous when it is friable. This simply means that the asbestos can be easily crumped by hand, which will release the toxic fibres into the air. So if you have a construction crew in your home, the asbestos won’t release its toxic fibres unless the asbestos-containing tiles, cabinet tops, shingles, fire doors, etc. are damaged or disturbed.

Where asbestos is often found:

  • fireproofing
  • Mechanical insulation, like on boilers, tanks, pipes
  • Backing on linoleum
  • Floor tiles
  • Vermiculite, which is often used in insulation products in attics and walls
  • Asbestos cement boards, tiles and pipes
  • Decorative wall or ceiling coatings

Before undertaking any home renovations, it’s important to identify the areas that might contain asbestos so that you can protect yourself and the work crew in your home. Before even attempting asbestos removal, as a homeowner you need to have an experienced contractor inspect your home and conduct asbestos testing so you can figure out exactly where the asbestos is located. The contractor will prepare a report detailing where the asbestos is and how the material should be handled or contained. Then you must arrange to have all the asbestos-containing materials removed and disposed of by someone who has been specifically trained on asbestos hazards and controls.

Asbestos removal can be a tricky thing and you’ll need to contact your municipality to find out where you can actually take the removed asbestos-containing materials.

Abestos removal is always best done by professionals. Please contact Anden for more information regarding this topic. We’re always happy to share our expertise with you!