If you’re planning a home or office renovation there are some things to consider before you get started. One important consideration many people forget about, often until it’s too late, is the potential for encountering asbestos containing materials (ACM). Finding out if you’re dealing with any ACM’s in your renovation is one thing you don’t want to forget in the planning stage!
Prior to 1990, asbestos was added to a wide variety of building supplies because of the mineral’s many beneficial qualities. Once upon a time asbestos was known as the “magic mineral”. Asbestos fibres are very malleable, and also have a natural resistance to water, chemicals, electricity, and fire. These characteristics made asbestos fibres seem like a good choice for construction materials as a binding and strengthening substance.
Asbestos was added into an astounding number of products during the mineral’s peak popularity. Some of its uses in the construction industry include: cement, insulation, spray-on fire-retardant coatings, roof shingles, flooring compounds, thermal insulation, as well as fillers and reinforcement for plasters, caulking, and drywall mud. Some common places to find asbestos in a house include: insulation, window putty, siding/stucco, roof shingles, drywall mud, flooring, ceiling tiles, heating ducts, water heaters, pipe insulation, and boilers.
Drywall installed before 1990 is likely to have asbestos in the tape and joint compound, commonly referred to as “mud”. These products are used to seal seams and fill in the gaps between boards. If you’re taking out old drywall as part of your renovation, it’s important to test it for asbestos first.
Drywall that tests positive for asbestos should be removed and disposed of by professionals to keep your family safe from airborne asbestos fibres. Not only should you test drywall mud for your own health, but it’s also required for disposal. If the drywall is pre-1990 then you will need proof that it’s free of asbestos in order to dispose of it at a local gypsum recycling facility.
Flooring, such as vinyl floor tiles produced prior to 1990 may contain asbestos fibres. Vinyl floor tiles were introduced to the market in the 1950’s and became popular in homes. Asbestos fibres were mixed into vinyl because it improved strength and also provided some insulating properties to the product.
If the vinyl is in good condition and left undisturbed, it generally poses a low threat to health. Asbestos containing vinyl tiles are considered to be non-friable, which means the product isn’t easily broken and fibres are less likely to be released. Vinyl sheet flooring on the other hand, poses a greater health risk. This is because they typically have an asbestos backing which is considered friable, meaning the fibres become airborne quite easily.
Insulation has been one of the biggest sources of asbestos exposure for workers. There are several different types of asbestos containing insulation: attic, pipe, block, wall, and spray-applied. The types you’re most likely to encounter during a renovation are attic and wall insulation.
Loose-fill attic insulation presents a very high risk for exposure to asbestos fibres. It’s important to know if your attic or wall insulation contain asbestos before you begin any demolition to avoid accidental exposure.
Generally speaking, asbestos containing materials that are in good condition and left alone are not a hazard to your health. It’s when the asbestos containing materials are disturbed that fibres become airborne and quickly present serious health issues. This is why it’s so important to know if you’re dealing with any asbestos containing materials before beginning any type of renovation.
Green Demo can help you determine if your house or office poses any potential health hazards by conducting a hazardous materials survey. This includes taking samples and sending them for analysis in a lab. It’s key to know what you’re dealing with at the start of a project so you can plan ahead, keep everybody safe, and finish your project in a timely manner.
Have you tested for asbestos yet? If not, now's the time to do it! Don't wait until after you've completed the demolition and are trying to dispose of construction materials. Keep everybody safe, your project on time, and avoid any unexpected complications - check for asbestos before you start. Green Demo can help. Get your free quote today.