Asbestos and Your Home - What to Know

Posted by Jerad Cox on Thursday, April 21st, 2016 at 4:03pm.

Home Asbestos

Prime Edmonton Real Estate - There are few things that strike fear into home buyers and home owners than the word asbestos. This compound has been known for years as a severe health hazard, with many people who have worked with it suffering from cancer and respiratory issues later on in life . It has delayed redevelopment of older buildings like the Charles Camsell Hospital and old  Northlands Coliseum, and caused other redevelopments to stop altogether. But what is this substance, and what can you do to protect yourself from it?

Asbestos was a product that was used beginning in the first part of the 20th century for a variety of purposes, due to it's durability, insulating traits, and fibrous nature. It was used in everything from insulation (vermiculite) to floor tiles to glue and sealing compounds, to fibreboard, to tape, and everything in between. But as it was used more and more, it became apparent that something within the compound caused serious issues. Researchers came to the realization that when inhaled, the fibrous nature that made it such a valuable element was also causing it to permanently damage those who were exposed to it. It has now been banned from purchase for a few decades.

Believe it or not, Canada still has active asbestos production plants which is then exported to other countries who still use the product!

Many homes built up to the mid 1970s have asbestos in it in varying amounts. I have seen it in all of the areas mentioned above while showing homes, and have had many conversations with both home sellers and home buyers about what it actually means. And I have had asbestos in the last 2 properties I have owned - and dealt with it in two different ways. In one instance I encapsulated it so the it would never be disturbed, while in the other I hired professionals to remove it completely and scrub all residue from the home. Here are a few things to keep in mind regarding asbestos in the home:

  • Always work with a professional - This is one department where you NEVER want to do it yourself. I highly suggest that you spend the extra money and get professional testing and removal done. Make sure to also have the testers be independent from the company that does the work for you to ensure objectivity and make sure that they come back afterwards and re-test so that nothing is missed.
  • Asbestos is not a problem if it's not disturbed - If there is tape on a heating duct that you can see, it will not affect the quality of the air. If it gets torn off, then the fibres will circulate into the air system. Amazingly, it can take years for asbestos to stop moving around in the air once it is disturbed. It simply doesn't fall to the ground like dust would.
  • Know that all asbestos containing products are not the same - There are higher and lower concentrations of the material depending on the product, and with that, higher and lower risk removal protocols. Make sure you ask your testing professional and removal company what severity each asbestos containing product is, and how that will impact removal.

Asbestos is a reality for many older homes and buildings, but not a death sentence. Asbestos removal in Edmonton is a professional process that once done can make a house completely safe to live in. The key is that you become aware of what asbestos looks like and how to get it tested and removed so that you can have piece of mind in your home!

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