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6 Things You Need to Know About Asbestos Cleanup in Alberta

Find out how property restoration specialists can provide safe and effective asbestos cleanup. 

Find out how property restoration specialists can provide safe and effective asbestos cleanup. 

Known as a silent killer due to its carcinogenic properties, asbestos has been used in the building trade and for industrial purposes in Alberta and around Canada since the early 1900s.

Although the manufacture of most asbestos-containing materials ended in 1979, an official ban on the fibrous material just occurred in Canada and is expected to be fully implemented in 2018. However, asbestos can still be found in some Albertan homes, apartments, and commercial buildings and even in schools and hospitals.

Therefore, the need for professional and safe asbestos cleanup is necessary for anyone planning on demolishing or renovating a home or building known to be containing the material.

1. How is asbestos dangerous?

Asbestos is relatively stable and safe when fixed or otherwise bound in various material applications and left untouched. The danger is when it is disturbed during demolition for any reason. When disturbed, asbestos can become deadly as the asbestos fibres, which are extremely small, can be inhaled and lodged in the lining of the lungs. Because asbestos is an inert (non-reactive) mineral, the body has no way to rid itself of the fibres so they become permanently stuck.

Over time and with significant amounts of exposure, the fibres can lead to the most common asbestos ailment, a scar tissue buildup called asbestosis. In some cases, the fibres can cause mesothelioma, an otherwise extremely rare and always fatal cancer of the lining of the lungs. Asbestosis can take decades to fully manifest, and is impossible to cure. It is necessary to minimize or eliminate asbestos exposure entirely.

2. Where can asbestos be found?

Once known as the “magic mineral,” asbestos was primarily used as insulation in walls and roofing and was also used to strengthen plastics and cement.

Some other common uses for asbestos in homes have included:

  • Textured paints
  • Ceiling and joint compounds
  • Siding and roof tiles
  • Incandescent light fixture backings
  • A contaminant in loose vermiculate insulation

3. How do I know my home contains asbestos?

Anyone planning on a property restoration of a house or building that was built before 1990 should have it tested for asbestos. To do this, you can hire a qualified asbestos testing company or indoor environment consultant to take samples of possible asbestos-containing materials to be tested in a lab and have the results sent back you. Contact Proserve if you would like us to arrange this type of third-party testing.

4. What do I do if asbestos is found in my home or business?

If it turns out that asbestos is present in your home or workplace, it’s best not to remove the offending material yourself. It is potentially hazardous to human health and can represent a significant and costly legal liability for businesses. Instead, look for property restoration companies that specialize in biohazard cleanup. A professional restoration company not only knows how to remove asbestos, it has the equipment and methods to dispose of it safely.

5. What is the legislation for asbestos removal in Alberta?

Alberta’s Occupational Health and Safety legislation requires that all asbestos removal companies have trained and certified staff and workplace procedures in place to remove and dispose of asbestos safely. This includes filing appropriate notice with OH&S for asbestos removal being conducted 72 hours prior, as well as being prepared for spot visits by OH&S personnel who ensure all guidelines are being followed.

6. What are the methods used in asbestos removal and abatement?

According to Alberta’s Asbestos Manual (revised Oct. 2012 edition), there are specific approaches to controlling exposure to asbestos.

  • Testing: To determine the risk level of removal or encapsulation, there must be proper testing for presence of asbestos in materials. This includes the quantity, type of asbestos, friability, and scope of project (square footage to be removed)
  • Encapsulation: Based on the scope of the project, proper procedures are implemented. Encapsulation/enclosure involves physical or chemical based sealing of asbestos-containing materials to ensure long term safety for human habitation, without actual removal.
  • Removal: Depending on risk level, removal requires proper containment along with adequate negative air pressure for the work environment. And of course, appropriate PPE for workers.
  • Monitoring: Before, after, and continually during removal activity (depending on risk level), air quality monitoring must be conducted by a third party to ensure containment procedures are effective.

If you are planning to restore, remodel, renovate or demolish your home or business and suspect the affected area contains asbestos (anything built before 1990 should be tested) contact Proserve. We help residents, business owners and government offices with safe asbestos cleanup as part of our property restoration, cleaning and maintenance services in Fort McMurray and Wood Buffalo.