The Most Common Building Materials That May Contain Asbestos in Canada

When someone mentions asbestos, our first thought is usually of the danger it presents, which has led to countries all over the world banning it. Canada joined the list of countries banning asbestos on December 30, 2018, though some exceptions for its use exist.

Asbestos fibres cause damage to the lungs if inhaled and can cause cancer and diseases like Asbestosis, which is scarring of the lungs. Approximately half of the occupational cancer deaths occurring globally are believed to be a result of asbestos and as many as 2,000 people die from asbestos every year in Canada. Inhaling the fibres is painless and problems may not occur for several years.

Finding asbestos in older homes and buildings is not uncommon, particularly if they were built before the mid-1980’s. It is present in schools, hospitals, arenas, and even government offices. Being strong and cheap made it appealing to builders, while its versatility meant it could be used in a variety of products throughout the building.

Being present in so many products made it possible for home and building owners to be exposed to it during renovations or repairs. While risk is minimal if the materials containing asbestos are sealed away behind walls and floorboards in good condition (asbestos abatement), this material becomes dangerous once it is disturbed.

Small asbestos fibres can easily be released into the air when:

• Disturbing or removing insulation (such as that which surrounds hot water pipes and tanks)
• Removing or disturbing roof shingles
• Breaking, sanding, or scraping vinyl asbestos floor tiles
• Breaking or disturbing any other material containing asbestos

If asbestos is found in your home or building, an asbestos removal specialist should be consulted, and the material removed. Do not attempt to remove these materials on your own; special precautions must be followed to avoid endangering your health.

Some of the materials that may contain asbestos include:

  • Ceiling tiles
  • Roof tiles
  • Floor tiles
  • Asbestos cement
  • Insulating boards
  • Loose insulation
  • Fire blankets
  • Sprayed coatings
  • Texture coatings
  • Fire doors
  • Electrical panels
  • Windowsills
  • Partitions
  • Pipe insulation
  • Toilet seats
  • Industrial furnaces and heating systems
  • House siding

Any contact with these items made from asbestos can potentially lead to exposure. If you intend to do any renovations, remodelling, additions, or demolitions in your home or business, hire a professional to test for the presence of asbestos before you begin.

Although Canada has banned the use of asbestos, countless homes and buildings were erected with asbestos components over the years, meaning your home or business may have a problem.
If you seek asbestos testing or removal, contact Progressive Environmental today.  We will answer all your questions and help you breathe easily again.