Asbestos is the number-one killer of workers in British Columbia. In the 10 years from 2006 to 2015, 584 B.C. workers died from diseases related to asbestos exposure.
In homes built before 1990, asbestos can potentially be found in more than 3,000 building materials such as linoleum, wall board and filling compound. Asbestos can be released into the air when these building materials are drilled, sawed, sanded or broken up during a renovation or demolition.
WorkSafeBC has many resources about how to stay safe around asbestos on its asbestos-specific websites at ThinkAsbestos.com, HiddenKiller.ca or on its website at WorkSafeBC.com.
Some common asbestos-containing materials include:
• Vinyl tiles and linoleum sheet flooring
• Roof felt and shingles
• Loose, blown-in insulation, such as vermiculite
• Gypsum board filling compound, and patching and joint compound for walls and ceilings
• Incandescent light fixture backing
• Deck undershooting
Will I need to be out of my home during asbestos removal?
It depends on the amount of work required, and the rooms affected (for example, if your kitchen is not accessible, you would not be able to cook). A single bathroom could be sealed off while the asbestos is removed, and there would be no risk of exposure to asbestos provided that the proper controls are in place. You would also have to consider the noise and presence of contractors moving in and out of your house, as part of a decision to stay
Do I need a permit — or anything at all — from the city?
You will need a permit from the city or municipality for demolition or significant renovation work. The requirements vary from city to city, so please consult with city staff in your area.
What questions should I ask the contractor?
Are you registered with WorkSafeBC? How long have you been in business? Are you insured (e.g., errors and omissions insurance, liability insurance)? Are you bonded? Have you ever been fined by WorkSafeBC? Do you have a business license issued by the city?
How do I know if I have asbestos in my home (in floor tile, ceiling tile, shingles, siding, etc.)?
The only way to be sure whether a material contains asbestos is to have it tested by a qualified laboratory. Progressive Environmental only recommends testing suspect materials if they are damaged (fraying, crumbling) or if you are planning a renovation that would disturb the suspect material. Samples should be taken by a properly trained and accredited asbestos professional (inspector).
What are the health risks if I have asbestos in my home, building, apartment, or school?
Asbestos that is in good condition and left undisturbed is unlikely to present a health risk. The risks from asbestos occur when it is damaged or disturbed where asbestos fibres become airborne and can be inhaled. Managing asbestos in place and maintaining it in good repair is often the best approach.