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Asbestos Inspection: What to Expect When Buying or Selling a Home With Asbestos

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2,000 Canadians die every year from Asbestos. It was once thought of as the perfect solution to many housing needs. However, there was one problem.

It’s a health hazard. Although asbestos is now banned in Canada, it still lingers in many older homes. This can complicate a house sale whether you’re the owner or buyer. And if you’re not careful, you could end up with a home contaminated with asbestos.

Has an asbestos inspection revealed this dangerous mineral in a potential home? Here’s what you need to know about buying or selling a home with asbestos.

1. The Dangers of Asbestos

In Canada, homebuilders used asbestos for insulating and fireproofing buildings until 1986. There are six different types of asbestos, all of which are minerals mined from the earth.

As time passed, new research began to suggest that asbestos was not as great as it once seemed. Asbestos fibers are small and sharp, and many types of asbestos can become airborne. When inhaled, these fibers damage the lungs, leading to respiratory conditions such as mesothelioma and lung cancer.

If asbestos props up when buying or selling a home, it can throw a wrench in the process.

2. Why You Might Need an Asbestos Inspection

As a homebuyer, the task falls to you to discover asbestos in a potential home. You should know that a house inspection does not cover asbestos. An asbestos inspection requires specialized knowledge and a professional eye.

This means, if you suspect a home might contain asbestos, you’ll want to have a separate asbestos home inspection. There are some simple rules of thumb to help you determine if an asbestos inspection is worthwhile.

The most important consideration is the age of the home. If the building was constructed before 1986, there is a good chance it contains asbestos. You can find asbestos in ceiling tile, behind walls, on ductwork, and more.

By law, a real estate agent must disclose if a home has asbestos. But just because an agent doesn’t reveal asbestos doesn’t mean it’s not there. If they never had an asbestos inspection completed, they don’t know any more than you do.

3. Should I Remove Asbestos in My Home?

Asbestos isn’t always dangerous. If you discover asbestos in your home, that’s not the end of the world. The materials are often behind walls or otherwise out of the way.

So long as you can’t come in contact with asbestos, it’s safe to leave it as it is. This isn’t always true, however. Asbestos may be a health hazard depending on the condition of the home.

For example, if the walls are cracked or loose, asbestos can slip out into the living area. Certain types of asbestos are more dangerous than others. If your home has vermiculite insulation, you may be in trouble.

Vermiculite contains asbestos and is prone to aerosolizing. This was often used in the attic and has the appearance of small granular rocks. Entering the attic space is a dangerous proposition since you could disturb the vermiculite and asbestos.

Asbestos presents a problem when you wish to renovate your home. The construction process is sure to release asbestos, which can contaminate you, your home, and your workers.

Either way, there are many reasons why you should get asbestos removal before making changes to your home. Encapsulated asbestos is an option if you don’t want to pay for an entire removal service.

4. How to Protect Yourself as a Homebuyer

The importance of a home inspection contingency cannot be understated. You don’t want to buy a home that you later learn is contaminated with asbestos.

With a home inspection contingency, a homebuyer is allowed to cancel a home sale if an inspection reveals troubling results. You should absolutely require a contingency in place for any Canadian home older than 1986. It is, however, still a good idea to include a contingency for newer homes.

Remember that the owner of the home may not have performed an asbestos inspection. And odds are, they didn’t. That’s why it’s a good idea to take control of the situation and do it yourself.

An asbestos home inspection may be an additional fee, but it’s better than buying a home that will cost you thousands in asbestos removal later on.

5. Selling a Home With Asbestos

You have several options to make your home more attractive to homebuyers. The easiest option is to use an asbestos removal service. Although the service can be costly, this means you won’t have to lower your sale price to make a more competitive offer.

In that way, asbestos removal can pay for itself. And by removing asbestos, it also allows you to renovate key areas of your home. Perhaps you put off remodeling the bathroom because of the presence of asbestos.

Once it’s gone, you’ll be prepared to modernize your home and make it more attractive for homebuyers.

Of course, you could also choose to do nothing. If you live in a popular area, homebuyers may overlook asbestos contamination. Otherwise, you may have to lower your sale price or offer other incentives to land a home sale.

Are You Considering Asbestos Removal?

Although your home may be safe now, that won’t last forever. Materials containing asbestos will break down over time and increase your odds of contamination. Since it can take a decade or more to experience the effects of asbestos, you won’t know there’s a problem until it’s too late.

Has an asbestos inspection revealed a nasty surprise? Give yourself the peace of mind you deserve. Contact CleanFirst and take advantage of our asbestos removal services.

Asbestos and Cancer Risk: Everything You Need to Know

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$10 million a year — that’s how much Canadian companies made through asbestos exports. That was back in the 1930s, which means that today, that amount would equate to $150 million.

So, it’s no wonder asbestos was once dubbed the “Canadian gold”. It seemed to be a thing of wonder — not only was it durable, flexible, and fireproof; it was also cheap. Plus, it made for great insulation.

All these properties led to the material’s massive use in manufacturing and construction.

What people back then weren’t aware of was the link between asbestos and cancer. In fact, it wasn’t until 1924 when the first medical article on asbestos dangers came out. But by then, millions of Canadians have been already exposed.

How exactly did this “miracle material” turn out to be a medical disaster though? And what kind of cancer, among other diseases, could it cause?

All these and more, we’ll uncover in this post, so be sure to keep reading!

The Undeniable Link Between Exposure to Asbestos and Cancer

Today, asbestos exposure is the primary cause of workplace deaths in Canada. Since 1996, there have already been 5,000 approved asbestos-related death claims. Mesothelioma, a type of aggressive cancer, accounts for many of these claims.

But why exactly does asbestos cause cancer?

The simple reason is that it’s a type of carcinogen, meaning, it promotes cancer formation. In fact, the World Health Organization reports that all asbestos types are carcinogenic. Aside from mesothelioma, WHO also noted asbestos to be a cause of lung, ovarian, and larynx cancers.

Many other health organizations classify it as carcinogenic, including the following:

  • International Association for Research on Cancer (IARC)
  • U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)
  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
  • European Union (EU Classification and Labeling)

So, what about in Canada? The Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) classifies asbestos as a D2A material. This makes it a “poisonous and infectious material” with very toxic effects.

Asbestos and Mesothelioma

Every year, 2.1 in every 100,000 Canadians receive a mesothelioma diagnosis. In 2013 alone, doctors diagnosed 595 Canadians with this asbestos-caused lung cancer. In the same year, this type of cancer claimed 485 lives in the country.

Mesothelioma, while seemingly rare, is still the most common type of asbestos cancer. Exposure to asbestos is in fact, the primary culprit behind this lung cancer.

Mesothelioma develops when asbestos fibers enter the body through inhalation or ingestion. These fibers become embedded in the lung’s, heart’s, or abdomen’s lining. From there, the anchored fibers start to destroy mesothelial cells, resulting in inflammation.

Over the years, the damaged mesothelium begins to develop tumors. Yes, it can take years — between 20 and 50 years — before symptoms, such as dry cough and shortness of breath, appear.

Chest or abdomen pains, fever, night sweats, and muscle weakness are also common signs. Many mesothelioma patients may also have fluid around their lungs (pleural effusion). This can then lead to complications in respiratory functions.

Asbestos-Caused Lung Cancer

Mesothelioma is different from asbestos lung cancer. As mentioned above, mesothelioma affects the lining of the lungs. Whereas the former is cancer of the lung tissues.

As fibers become trapped in the lung tissue, they can irritate and cause scarring there. Over time, these effects result in tumor formation. Asbestos fibers can cause both non-small and small cell lung cancers.

Like with mesothelioma, the more exposure to asbestos, the higher the risk of lung cancers. Meaning, the more fibers exposed to and the longer the exposure, the greater the risk.

Also, it can take about 15 years or more from the time of exposure to asbestos before lung cancer develops. Moreover, smoking increases the risk of developing lung cancer in asbestos-exposed individuals.

The Other Hazards of Asbestos Exposure

Aside from cancers, asbestosis is another huge health problem caused by asbestos exposure. In this case, the inhaled or swallowed asbestos fibers get trapped deep in the lungs. From there, the fibers can irritate and cause scarring in the lungs.

Both the irritation and scarring cause difficulties in breathing. That’s why asbestosis’ primary symptoms are chronic cough and shortness of breath. Some may also suffer from chest pains, appetite loss, and weight loss.

From the first exposure to asbestos fibers, it can take between 10 and 20 years for asbestosis to occur. In some people, it can even take up to 40 years or longer. The lung disease, however, usually worsens over time.

The Ban on Asbestos Doesn’t Mean Complete Protection

Last year, Canada has finally banned the sale, use, and import of processed asbestos fibers. Products that contain this material are now also barred. Consumer products with asbestos in more than trace amounts are also now illegal.

These are all good news, but that doesn’t mean you’re 100% protected from asbestos. After all, these fibers are still in many materials and products sold in Canada before the ban.

That’s why it’s vital to identify asbestos-containing materials in your home ASAP. For instance, homes built in the 90s may have asbestos ceiling and floor tiles. Insulation, house siding, cement, plaster, and even furnaces may also contain asbestos fibers.

If you find any of these materials, it’s best to have an expert asbestos removal service get rid of them for you. Especially if any of them are showing signs of wear and tear. These damages allow fibers to get released into the air.

Don’t Underestimate the Dangers of Asbestos

As you can see, there is no denying that asbestos and cancer go hand in hand. The bottom line is, asbestos fibers cause lung cancer and mesothelioma. They are a major health hazard that you should no longer ignore.

If your home or office contains a lot of asbestos materials, we can help. Please get in touch with us ASAP, and we’ll get rid of these hazards in the safest possible manner!

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Guide to Safely Remove Asbestos

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So, you’ve got an asbestos problem at your home. 

You may think you can get rid of it yourself without much of a hassle. However, while it’s true that you can safely remove it yourself, it’s not recommended and requires a lot of work to do so safely and legally. 

Fair warning: if you’re considering removing asbestos from your home yourself, you should definitely think twice before doing so. Failure to properly remove asbestos could lead to health risks that can cause cancer, among other diseases, in anyone exposed to the minerals. 

With that being said, if you’re going to try and tackle this process yourself, it’s best to do so properly, and as safely as possible, to protect your own health, as well as that of your loved ones.

We’ll give you a five-step breakdown on how to remove asbestos, as well as a few things you should be on the lookout for during the process.

Also, we’ll help keep you, and your area, clean and safe.

Let’s get started.

1. Be Safe

Without a doubt, the most important thing to consider when dealing with asbestos is safety. Because dealing with asbestos is so dangerous, it’s actually illegal for a non-professional to remove more than a certain amount in some areas. Be sure to check with your local authorities before proceeding with the removal process to ensure you’re not breaking any laws. 

As we stated earlier, asbestos consists of minerals that can make humans very sick, so it’s crucial that you protect yourself and others around during this process.

You’ll need to cover yourself from head-to-toe in personal protection equipment (PPE). Everything from your feet to your face and eyes should be covered when dealing with asbestos. You’re not going to want to eat or drink while working in the area, either.

Do not remove your suit, or any other protective equipment item, while exposed to asbestos. That includes during the cleanup process, which we’ll get to in a bit. 

2. Prepare the Area

Once you’ve got your equipment on, it’s time to prepare the area. 

Remove any items from the area, including rugs, to prevent contamination. Once the area is clear, erect 6mil plastic everywhere that will be exposed to asbestos.

That includes any outside area that you plan to utilize during the removal process.  

You must rent a negative pressure machine to ensure not to spread the asbestos fibers, and must do 6 air exchanges per hour.

Tape plastic sheets over all doors, windows, air conditioning vents, and other areas that could leak the contaminants to other rooms during the removal process. Also, have any guests or other residents leave the area completely until the process is finished.

Don’t forget about pets during this procedure, either. It’s wise to remove them from the home completely until the process is completed. 

3.  Remove the Asbestos Properly 

Now, let’s get to the fun part: removing the asbestos

First, it’s important to note that power washing asbestos is dangerous and illegal, so avoid that completely. When removing asbestos cement sheets, lightly (and gently) wet them to keep the dust down. 

Do not use power tools of any kind when removing asbestos. Avoid drilling or cutting into any asbestos materials, as it can stir up the dust and spread it, which is obviously dangerous.

Once you’ve removed the asbestos sheets, lay them in a plastic sheet and wrap them completely. Tape the plastic closed, and the label it, so anyone who comes in contact with it knows what it is.

4. Clean Up

Once you’ve properly removed asbestos from your home, you’re not done yet. You still have to properly clean your area and safely transport your waste to a local waste facility that accepts asbestos materials.

When cleaning up, be sure to safely remove all plastic that was used during the process. Like the asbestos sheets themselves, fully wrap all used plastic (and other materials like wipes) in plastic, then tape and label it.

Do not use a normal household vacuum cleaner of any kind to remove any leftover particles. You’ll need to rent a HEPA vacuum cleaner to use during the cleanup process that meets code. 

Sweeping also stirs up the dust, so it’s best to avoid that as well. Wet all areas with soap water that appear to have gotten contaminated to limit the amount of dust stirred up during the cleaning process.

5. Legally Dispose of the Asbestos

You’ll need to find a facility in your area that can receive the waste legally, as you can’t just dispose of it anywhere. Be sure you, and anyone traveling with you, are clean and wearing new suits. Additionally, the asbestos must be transported in a covered, leak-proof vehicle.

Throwing the sheets in the back of a pickup truck, even while wrapped and tape is a bad idea and could lead to exposure. 

It’s crucial that you dispose of the sheets immediately following removal. Do not leave it to be done the next day, or the next week, as you’ll be risking damage to the bags and the asbestos spreading.

How to Remove Asbestos

Well, there you have it! Now you know how to remove asbestos from your home!

Not as easy as you thought, huh?

Remember, safety is without a doubt the most important thing to keep in mind during this process. Take every single precaution to ensure the safety of you and others around you. 

Also, don’t forget to check with the laws and regulations in your area. in Ontario its regulation 278-05 that must be strictly followed. You could be looking at a big fine, otherwise, so it’s really best to avoid the situation completely.

We highly recommend you contact a professional to remove any asbestos from your home. One wrong step could be detrimental to you, and your loved ones, which is why it’s wise to let the professionals handle it for you.

If you’re looking for a licensed professional to take care of your asbestos problem, contact us today, we’ll be glad to assist you.

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Signs You Need to Hire Experts in Asbestos Removal in Toronto

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At one time, having asbestos in your home was considered a great feature.

Not so much anymore. 

This heat and water resistant material was popular to use in home construction until the 1980s. However, we now know that asbestos can cause major lung problems, including lung cancer. 

You should consider asbestos removal in Toronto, as many older homes still contain it. Here are a few things to know about it, and how to get rid of asbestos with the help of professionals. 

The History of Asbestos

We often think of asbestos as a fairly modern material, but the truth is its use goes back a lot further than that. In fact, it’s believed that asbestos was used in candle wicks as far back as 4000 B.C. 

In the Middle Ages, King Charlemagne of France had a tablecloth made from asbestos to keep it from setting aflame (fires apparently occurred often during celebrations and feasts.) 

In the centuries following, asbestos has appeared in handbags, paper currency, and firefighter gear (makes sense as a fire retardant.) In short, asbestos has been in almost everything. 

Modern homes built after 1920 (to about 1989 or so) are no different. Many building materials up until the 1980s contained asbestos for strength and fire protection, which is ideal… until of course, the asbestos is disturbed from damage or a renovation. 

Despite it being used for several man-made applications, asbestos is not artificial like some insulations. It is a natural silicate mineral that is mined from the ground. 

Mining of asbestos became popular in the late 19th century. Canada’s remaining asbestos mines were shut down in 2012, but it’s still being mined in Russia and China among other countries.  

How To Check For Asbestos

There are places in your home that you may not suspect contain asbestos, but they do. For example, you know that stucco textured white ceiling in your older home? It’s also called “popcorn ceiling,” and it has asbestos. 

Other common places in the home that may contain asbestos include:

• Asbestos blankets covering pipes and boilers

• Furnace door gaskets 

• Certain floor tiles, backings of floor tiles, and some flooring adhesives

• Insulation around wood stoves

• Shingles and siding

Since many pipes and other components might not be visible to you, you may not know about them until a renovation is being performed. A good building contractor can sometimes spot asbestos, but it doesn’t mean they’re trained to get rid of it. 

How do you know whether a material contains asbestos? It’s actually difficult to tell for sure, although it looks kind of like fluffy old insulation in many cases. However, it could be hiding in solid objects like walls and tiles. First, consider the age of your home – that’s your first clue.

If your home was constructed in the past 20 or even 25 years, then it probably won’t contain any asbestos. At least, it shouldn’t contain any. 

Look for pipe insulation that seems to be flaking or disintegrating. You should also watch for insulation, walls, or vinyl floor tiles that are crumbling or falling apart. 

Health Conditions Related To Asbestos

Asbestos is dangerous when it is released into the air due to materials breaking down. You may then breathe in tiny asbestos fibers without even knowing it. 

The tiny fibers released from asbestos can get lodged in your lungs, which can cause scarring over time. This condition is also known as Interstitial Lung Disease, which is also called asbestosis. It can make it harder to breathe, as well as prevent enough oxygen from getting into your bloodstream. 

Here’s the thing about asbestos exposure: you may not have any signs of lung problems for up to 30 years after being exposed. There is no cure, but there are treatments available. 

Breathing in asbestos can also heighten the risk of lung cancer, as well as mesothelioma cancer, which is a cancer of the lung linings. In fact, the National Cancer Institute in the U.S. identified asbestos as a lung cancer risk in the early 1940s.

It can take more than a decade to develop symptoms of lung cancer related to asbestos exposure.

Canada has recently taken measures to ban asbestos-containing products. However, in the U.S., asbestos is still legal despite being recognized as a hazardous pollutant. 

It’s not just homes in Toronto that have asbestos problems – many commercial buildings do as well. In fact, research shows that asbestos exposure is the leading cause of workplace death. And experts expect asbestos-related health problems to continue, because of the delayed effects. 

Why to Hire Experts

You may be a DIY type, and that’s great. However, when you start sledge-hammering materials to make way for new features, you could unwittingly be putting yourself and your family in danger. 

You’ll want to hire a company that does testing for asbestos and can get rid of it safely before you start your renovation. In fact, it’s law in Ontario to identify any asbestos in homes built before 1986 and give this information to the home contractors. 

Without the proper gear and experience, you may be putting your health at risk if you skip this step. if you’re unsure whether your home materials contain asbestos, it’s best to leave it to the experts.

This is also a good opportunity to hire an expert to look for mold in your home that could also be causing health issues. 

Finding The Best Asbestos Removal in Toronto

There are many companies that claim to be experts in asbestos abatement, but be sure you’re dealing with a company that is certified in the practice. 

A company that offers asbestos removal in Toronto will take the proper safety measures, and will also use a vacuum during removal to ensure none of the particles escape into your home’s air. The company will also offer disposal and containment of asbestos materials, so you don’t have to deal with it. 

Asbestos removal is not expensive, but ignoring the risks and releasing it into your the air in your home or business could carry much bigger costs – like your health. 

Don’t let cracking asbestos materials or a seemingly harmless renovation affect your health. Contact us today for a free assessment.

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How to Identify Asbestos in Your Home and Other Obvious Signs

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Do you have any major home repair projects coming up? Are you 100% sure that your home is free of all toxins?

Almost 250,000 homes across Canada have some asbestos in their tiles, plumbing, or insulation. If your home was built prior to 1986, you’re at high risk for asbestos in the home.

If you’re wondering how to identify asbestos, this article’s for you. We’ll give you the straight scoop on asbestos in the home and help you get started with a local asbestos removal company.

What is Asbestos?

Asbestos is a combination of six naturally-occurring minerals. It has been in use for more than 100 years. It resists heat and has been used in thousands of products including roofing material, hair dryers, and brake pads.

The reason it was used for so long is that it’s resistant to heat and extremely strong and durable. In the last few decades, however, researchers noticed that tiny particles of asbestos break off when it gets moved or damaged.

Those tiny particles float through the air and become lodged in people’s lungs, causing serious illnesses like asbestosis and mesothelioma. In fact, asbestos exposure is the only way that a person can get mesothelioma, an uncommon form of lung cancer.

Signs of Asbestos in Homes

If your home was built before 1986, there’s a good chance that you’ve got asbestos somewhere in your home. The good news is that asbestos doesn’t become dangerous until you disturb it.

If your insulation is in good shape, you don’t have to worry about microscopic particles. However, you should take the time to get a professional evaluation. It can be hard to tell if you’ve got asbestos without an outside lab test.

Potential sources of asbestos include heating ducts that have a distinctive white tape on them, boiler insulation materials, “acoustic” tiles on your ceiling, and asbestos-filled concrete or cement siding.

There is also some cause for concern if your floor tiles measure exactly nine inches by nine inches. Of course, not every floor tile of this size contains asbestos, but it’s still worth checking out if your tiles are that size and in bad shape.

Other potential locations of asbestos in homes include a “popcorn” ceiling, attic insulation that contains vermiculite, and floor mastic.

Again, you don’t have to worry about asbestos removal if your home is in good shape. You may want to have it removed to ensure it won’t be a problem.

If you’re thinking of starting a home improvement project, it’s probably best to wait for the lab results.

How to Identify Asbestos Poisoning

If you’ve been exposed to asbestos for years, you do have a risk of asbestos poisoning. Asbestosis is a serious condition that you might not realize you have. The problem is that it can seem like mold poisoning.

Symptoms of asbestosis include shortness of breath, a persistent cough, and a feeling of constriction in your chest. You may also notice that your fingers have become wider at the tips, a phenomenon known as “clubbing.”

People who work near asbestos are at a higher risk for asbestosis and mesothelioma, but your home could still be making you sick. If you worked in construction, on a ship, or as an asbestos removal technician, you have a higher chance for serious illness.

If you have asbestos insulation in poor condition that’s close to your furnace, there’s a good chance that it’s airborne. Your first step is to figure out whether your home has asbestos in it. If you have symptoms of asbestos poisoning, you should immediately see a doctor.

Is There a Certification for Asbestos Removal?

When it’s time to find an asbestos removal specialist, you should make sure they’re certified. There is a certification process for asbestos removal and certain steps that contractors need to follow.

Before you get started with removal, your assessment company should provide you with a detailed, written record of the asbestos in your home. They should definitely test all suspected materials within your home.

You should use a different removal company than your assessment company. This step will make sure you’re only getting the removal services that you need.

Also, make sure that your removal company is accredited, bonded, and insured. You should ask for local references and client testimonials. If they can’t provide references, it’s time to find another contractor.

When the contractor is doing work in your home, it’s vital that they seal off the area they’re working on. The last thing you want is for airborne asbestos to contaminate the rest of your home.

They should seal off all wall vents, wall outlets, and windows. Make sure that children and pets are also removed from the area.

Home-based asbestos is not as common as asbestos in commercial buildings, but it’s still important that your removal company has a good reputation.

Asbestos that’s in good condition doesn’t need to be removed. In fact, disturbing it could kick up the airborne particles that cause disease.

Find a Local Asbestos Removal Company

In general, you should get your home’s air quality tested at least once per year. You could have dust, mold, or other toxins contaminating your indoor air.

If you are wondering how to identify asbestos in your office or retail store, leave it to the professionals. They’ll perform laboratory tests and give you a blueprint for asbestos removal, just like your home.

We’ve been serving the greater Toronto area for more than 29 years. We offer indoor air quality testing, mold remediation, and asbestos removal.

All of our mold technicians are certified, and we’re also certified for asbestos removal. If your property was built before 1986, you have a much higher chance of having asbestos materials like on drywall compound, flooring,and insulation.

It’s important to invest in asbestos removal because it can take years before you see symptoms. The sooner we can get your home back to normal, the better you’ll feel.

We offer asbestos assessments, so give us a call or send us an email online. We’ll gladly come out and evaluate your home’s condition right away.

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Asbestos: Facts You Should Know About This Dangerous Substance

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You might think that asbestos exposure was more of an issue decades ago, before it was known how harmful it is to our health. But that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Currently, 125 million people worldwide are exposed to asbestos at their job, and millions more exposed daily.

It’s estimated that 50% of occupation-related deaths are caused by asbestos.

We’re almost positive that you’ve heard of asbestos before, but do you know exactly what it is? Or what it can do to our bodies if we’re exposed?

Since asbestos is found in many different products and involved in many occupations, it’s important to understand the serious health risks associated with it. Keep reading to learn what asbestos is, and what you can do to avoid exposure.

What Is Asbestos?

Asbestos isn’t just one thing. It refers to a combination of 6 mineral components that combine to form fiber bundles. These bundles have been, and still are, used in a number of industrial applications.

Where Is Asbestos Used?

Since asbestos is resistant to heat, chemicals, fire, and other harsh elements, it’s often used in places where these things are common. This includes:

  • Building/construction
  • Insulation
  • Roofing
  • Shipbuilding
  • Automotive industry
  • Plastics
  • Tiling/ceilings

These are by no means all of the places where asbestos is used. But from just these few examples, you can see how asbestos can essentially be found anywhere and permeates many aspects of our society.

While many governments now ban the use of asbestos in buildings and other applications, older buildings, cars, and products still contain asbestos.

You Can Still Be Exposed to Asbestos

Like we just said, you can still be exposed to asbestos on a day to day basis. It’s not rare, either. It’s estimated that around 240,000 Canadian homes could still contain asbestos.

Even though new homes and buildings aren’t being made with asbestos, the risk of exposure is still high.

What Can Asbestos Exposure Lead To?

For all this talk about exposure, we haven’t really gone over the dangers of asbestos. The fact is that asbestos is a carcinogen, meaning it can (and often does) cause cancer.

There is no safe level of exposure to asbestos. Most carcinogens have a certain level that’s OK to be exposed to. For example, formaldehyde is a carcinogen, but it won’t cause cancer when you’re exposed at low levels.

Asbestos is always dangerous no matter how much or how long you’re exposed to it. In Canada, asbestos exposure is the number one cause of occupational death.

And while Canada does have laws regulating and banning asbestos for current day use, that doesn’t erase the fact that it’s already in many buildings and millions of Canadians have been exposed for years.

Most of the damage from asbestos will be in your lungs. When you’re exposed to asbestos, you inhale it and it goes directly to your lungs. It’s there where it will cause the most damage.

Asbestosis

Even if you don’t develop a serious illness from asbestos, you can experience a number of negative health effects. Some symptoms you could experience include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Dry cough
  • Chest tightness
  • Appetite loss

If you’re exposed for a long time, you can eventually develop asbestosis. Usually, you won’t notice these and other more serious symptoms until 20-30 years after you were exposed.

If you develop asbestosis, you can also experience deformities in your nails along with enlarged fingertips.

Diagnosing asbestosis will involve a few steps taken by your doctor. First, they’ll listen to your breathing to see if they identify any abnormal breath sounds that would indicate lung damage.

They’ll want to take a chest x-ray to examine your lungs as well. They might also want to perform tests to evaluate your lung function.

In the long term, this can cause chronic lung issues, and it can lead to fatal complications. You can’t cute asbestosis, but you can take steps to make breathing easier with inhalers or oxygen masks.

Cancer Risk

Perhaps the biggest risk of asbestos exposure is the huge risk of developing cancer.

Symptoms of lung cancer or other types of cancer caused by asbestos exposure (most often mesothelioma) won’t develop until years after the initial exposure. It can take 15-40 years after initial exposure to develop an illness.

The general symptoms to look out for include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Persistant cough
  • Chest pain/tightness/discomfort
  • Wheezing
  • Coughing up blood
  • Weight loss/loss of appetite
  • Chronic lung infections

These symptoms mirror those for asbestosis, so you’ll need to get a doctor’s diagnosis to be sure.

Unfortunately, these symptoms don’t arise until the cancer reaches a later stage. The best way to avoid this is to have regular screening by your doctor, especially if you know that you’ve been exposed to asbestos.

How to Protect Yourself

After all of this scary information, you might be freaked out. The good news is that there are ways to protect yourself from asbestos exposure, even after you’ve been exposed.

If you know that you’ve been exposed to asbestos, especially in large doses over a long period of time, then you should have regular screenings and check-ups with your doctor. This way, you can catch any disease or cancer early, which will give you a better chance at recovery.

If you believe your home contains asbestos, there are ways to remove it. Home and buildings built before 1986 have a high chance of having asbestos. You should look into asbestos removal to make sure your home is safe to live in.

Important Asbestos Facts: Wrapping Up

Asbestos is a dangerous carcinogen that can cause serious illness. While you won’t see or develop symptoms right away, exposure is extremely serious and shouldn’t be taken lightly.

Hopefully this article has helped you understand the dangers of asbestos a little more so you can take steps to avoid exposure and make your home safe.

If you have any other questions, don’t hesitate to contact us. We can answer any questions you have about your home, asbestos removal, and more.

asbestos removal

When and Why You Should Get Asbestos Removal for Your Home

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Did you know that asbestos used to have the nickname “magic mineral?” After all, in its pure form, it can resist intense heat, chemicals couldn’t corrode it, and it’s a powerful insulator.

Impressive, right?

It turns out though, that its nickname should be “black magic mineral.” Because all these seemingly amazing properties come with a price:

The lives of about 2.1 individuals in every 100,000 Canadians every year. Mesothelioma, a type of asbestos-caused lung cancer, claimed the lives of 515 people in the country in 2010 alone.

These numbers show how crucial prompt asbestos removal is if the material is present in your home.

But how do you determine its presence? And why should you get professionals to remove it from your home?

Don’t worry, we’ll answer all these questions (and more). So, keep reading to learn more about asbestos abatement!

A Quick Overview of Canada’s Gold

Canada has a rich asbestos mining history. With large quantities found throughout Quebec, British Columbia, and Newfoundland, it’s no wonder why the Great White North considered it as “Canada’s Gold”.

It’s also for this reason that its use lasted up until the 1990s. Homes in the country built before the 90s feature many asbestos-containing materials, from shingles to insulation. Even other household products, like furnishings such as carpeting, also used asbestos.

The thing is, even when studies on the dangers of asbestos came out, the country continued mining the mineral and manufacturing products containing it. It was only in 2012 that the last asbestos mine in Canada closed.

After causing 1,900 cases of lung cancer and another 430 of mesothelioma in 2011, the government plans to have a complete asbestos ban in 2018.

More on the Dangers of Asbestos, According to Experts

The fact that health and medical expert organizations say that asbestos is a carcinogen should be enough for you to remove it from your home.

Carcinogens are substances that cause cancer (or supports its growth and development). According to the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), asbestos is one such substance. The organization classifies it as a human carcinogenic.

Aside from the above-mentioned mesothelioma, this mineral has also shown to cause cancers of the lung. It affects even the larynx and the ovaries.

Two other organizations from Canada’s neighboring nation the U.S. also categorize what was once known as The Great White North’s Gold as carcinogenic to people. These include the National Toxicology Program (NTP) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Are You Exposing Yourself to Asbestos?

Everyone will have some sort of asbestos exposure at some point in their life. That’s because the air, water, and soil around us contain it. The good news is that experts say there are only low levels of it.

In other words, you won’t get sick from this exposure. So, the question is, when does it become dangerous?

The life-threatening hazards start when you receive constant exposure to the asbestos fibers. Those who have jobs involving direct contact with the material take the most brunt of its health effects.

That’s why many workers in the construction, electrical, plumbing, welding, and many other industries have succumbed to diseases associated with the mineral.

For average consumers, this may happen if their home has degraded asbestos-containing materials. For instance, walls, ceilings, or floors with asbestos in them has cracked. This may be due to natural wear and tear, but it may also be intentional, such as in the case of a renovation.

Simply put, undisturbed asbestos is safe. Once it breaks or becomes agitated, its fibers will already contaminate the air. This is when it becomes a danger to yourself and your family.

Determining When You Need Professional Asbestos Removal Services

But this banning doesn’t automatically mean your house is free of this human carcinogen. This is why you need to determine you live in a safe home free of this cancer-causing material.

There are ways for you to identify asbestos in your home. For starters, if your home’s construction dates to 1986 (or earlier), then it most likely has asbestos-containing materials. Here are a few other parts of your home that may house this deadly material:

  • Vinyl tile flooring
  • Insulation
  • Vermiculite in the attic or crawlspaces

Also, like molds in the ceiling, some Canadian homes may also have asbestos in this area. If your home features architectural decorations on the plaster ceilings, then beware. There’s a high possibility that these design effects have asbestos fibers in them.

In any case, as soon as you’ve verified you have these materials in your home, the next step is to contact asbestos remediation experts. Keep in mind that while you can look for these materials on your own, it doesn’t mean you can already remove them by yourself.

The Need for Professionals When Removing Asbestos

The steps on how to remove asbestos require specialized equipment and tools. Think masks, fiber containment systems, and personal protective equipment (PPE) just to name a few. Without these devices, you put not only yourself at risk of exposure, but the people around you too.

Although homeowners don’t have the same strict and rigid regulations when it comes to asbestos handling, the possibility of developing cancers is one risk you shouldn’t take. It’s for this reason you should never handle asbestos removal on your own.

Whether you’ve already found asbestos-containing materials in your home or you plan to renovate or remodel one that contains such materials, it’s best you leave the task of removing it to pros. This is the safest, fastest way to eliminate the cancer-causing material from your house.

Ready to Live in a Safe, Asbestos-Free Home?

Prompt and professional asbestos removal services make a huge difference in the safety of your family. Even if the materials containing this mineral are intact, you should still consider getting rid of them. Because in time, they’ll break down and expose you to their life-threatening fibers.

So, as soon as you’ve found asbestos materials in your home, contact us right away.

6 Easy Ways to Identify Asbestos in Your Home WITHOUT a Specialist

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1. Flooring asbestos 9×9 vinyl tile9x9 tiles

In renovated homes, you will often not see these as they are sandwiched under layers of wood subfloors and newer flooring tiles. However, in many old homes that are not yet renovated, these 9×9 tiles are exposed and are certain to contain asbestos fibers since most, if not all tiles with this size were manufactured with asbestos containing fibers. Nowadays, most tiles are made in 12×12.

Look under carpets in basement or by lifting a floor vent and inspecting how many subfloors exist and if any contain vinyl.

Most often people will not remove asbestos materials due to cost and encapsulate them my adding additional layers. This is generally not a problem if they are not disturbed.

2. Asbestos fibers on plaster ceilings.

Plaster ceilingsHomes build prior to 1986 can have architectural effects on ceiling. Most often material used on compounds have some asbestos fibers. Whilst it is safe if not disturbed, it is still something you should be aware of.

The above ceiling design is one you should definitely test for asbestos. Never renovate or remove these ceilings without having them tested for asbestos fiber content first.

3. Asbestos on insulation

Pipe Insulation with AsbestosOlder homes commonly used boiler systems that were insulated with asbestos as a heat shield.

While we rarely use this type of heating anymore, you need to be aware that some leftover asbestos containing  insulation on older pipes might still be present. While there is no danger if asbestos insulation is in good condition, it always should be removed by professional asbestos contractors.

4. Vermiculite containing asbestos on attics and crawl spaces

Attic VermiculiteWhile the attic space is not considered a living space, if it contains asbestos fibers on the insulation, it is a very big expense to get rid of.

Make sure the vermiculite is tested for asbestos containing materials. Friable asbestos materials are very dangerous and expensive to remove.

5. Asbestos lining on floor vents

Asbestos on floor ventAsbestos was commonly used as a heat shield in floor vents before 1986. Whilst it is not hazardous unless disturbed, older houses still contain asbestos hidden on the wrap of the floor ventilation.

Unless you disturb it by sanding or trying to remove yourself, it’s not a problem, however the paper is highly made of asbestos fibers up to 93% and disturbance to it can cause issues.

Always check with asbestos abatement professionals.

6. Asbestos materials on vinyl sheet flooring

Vinyl Sheet flooringIf it looks old it probably is, however you must consider if the vinyl sheet flooring contains asbestos fibers if you plan on removing it.

Vinyl sheet goods are embedded with asbestos fibers to make them stronger and fire resistant, that it is why we used asbestos fibers in so many materials. We didn’t know at the time that causes cancer and some many other Health issues. A vinyl sheet flooring that looks like the above has a high chance of asbestos.

Always test for asbestos fibers before removing any older vinyl sheeting.

TIP: if black tar is adhering to the vinyl, it is almost a 100% asbestos containing fiber product.