Asbestos was used for home construction from the 1940s to the 1970s. After 30 years it’s become common knowledge that prolonged exposure to asbestos fibres can lead to lung disease. Tiny asbestos fibres can be inhaled into the lungs over time damaging the lung tissues and causing cancer. As such, asbestos removal is often required in order to make a building safe before construction work or repairs take place.
Asbestos was generally used for thermal insulation on basement boilers and pipes but can also be found in other household materials such as:
- Some forms of linoleum
- Vinyl floor tiles
- Glue for tiles, concrete or wood
- Window caulking and glazing
- Roofing materials
- HVAC duct installation
- Siding material
- Some forms of paint
- Fibre cement siding
Note that the presence of asbestos in your home, in itself, may not be dangerous. If the building materials are in good shape they will not release harmful asbestos fibres.However, disturbing it may cause health a health hazard where one did not previously exist. Therefore, where possible, if asbestos materials are in good condition, it is best to leave them alone.
Asbestos is most dangerous when the materials have been disturbed or damaged over time. If it crumbles easily when handled, scraped or sanded, it’s likely to release asbestos fibres and create a health hazard. If you suspect your home may contain asbestos, check periodically for tears and other damage. If you discover damaged material, keep away from it and don’t touch. If it’s more than slightly damaged, make arrangements to have a professional repair or remove it completely.
Before repair or removal, the area should be properly inspected. The report should have the location, the extent of the damage and the description of the damage. Repair involves sealing or covering the asbestos material to avoid the release of harmful fibres. It’s usually cheaper than removal but removal may still be needed in the future.
If you have decided on removal, written assurance from a contractor from the HSE will be needed stating that all local asbestos removal and disposal laws have been followed. Check with your local authority for these regulations. After it has been removed, an inspector should return to verify that the area has been properly taken care of.