Asbestos was once a prominent component found in numerous products, most notably construction materials such as roofing sealant, duct tape, furnace cement, flooring glue, etc. The list of asbestos-containing products goes on despite the fact that the mineral itself has garnered somewhat of a negative reputation over the years.
When it comes to knowing when asbestos testing is required, many people mistakenly assume that it’s not necessary at all. This is due to the misconception that strict government regulations and bans on the substance have completely eliminated it from general use. The fact of the matter, however, is that trace amounts of various types of asbestos can still be found in modern construction projects across Canada.
With that in mind, it’s important to know exactly when to test for asbestos, so that you can prevent exposing yourself, your family, and others to the potential health risks associated with it.
When Was Your Building or House Built?
Structures that were built pre-1980 are more likely to contain large amounts of various types of asbestos as it was a far more commonly used mineral back then. That is, until people started reporting suffering severe health issues such as difficulty breathing and blackened lungs from breathing in the mineral.
After examining numerous reports on the negative health effects of asbestos, the mineral started to become regulated in 1980 and all structures constructed subsequently were required to use asbestos-free building materials.
Of course, not all building materials are completely asbestos-free. To this day, there are still trace amounts of asbestos in roofing materials, duct connectors, electrical parts, and other components of the construction industry. The main difference is that now these products are far more regulated to contain less amounts of asbestos to reduce the risk of causing physical harm to workers, property owners, and residents.
When Should You Test for Asbestos?
Naturally, you’re probably wondering when the appropriate time is to test your building or structure for asbestos. As you can imagine, any structures that were constructed before 1980 should be routinely tested for asbestos, but there are other circumstances under which asbestos testing is appropriate as well.
Below are a few scenarios when testing for asbestos is important.
Before Renovating Your Structure
Newer builds can still contain trace amounts of asbestos due to the building materials used. It’s unavoidable. Whether you’re planning on doing minor or major renovations, it’s important to test for asbestos to protect the health of workers.
Asbestos only presents a health hazard when the fibers are disturbed and become airborne. When that happens, the fibers can be breathed in and settle in the lower cavity of the lungs, causing cancer, exacerbating asthma symptoms, and an illness called asbestosis (fibrotic lung disease).
Renovating your property to any capacity can certainly disturb asbestos fibers and increase health hazards.
Before Commencing Any Demolition Work
Asbestos testing must be completed on all structures that are undergoing partial or total demolition with one exception. If the building is too structurally unsound for an inspector to enter it for examination, then the demolition may take place without asbestos testing. Other factors such as building age, condition, building materials, and cleanliness (unless they pose a serious health risk) aren’t taken into consideration when discerning the need for testing. Outside of these circumstances, it’s illegal to complete demolition work without complying with asbestos testing requirements.
Like renovations, demolitions disturb the asbestos fibers and cause them to become airborne as dust particles, which can be breathed in by workers and anyone else in the area. In addition to having a negative environmental impact, this can also lead to the rise of health problems for people in close proximity.
If the Building Is Older
Older structures in particular should be tested frequently. These buildings and homes typically contain larger than normal amounts of friable asbestos-containing materials. Friable asbestos easily crumbles over time, making it more susceptible to becoming airborne as dust particles. This is especially true when the friable asbestos is disturbed by any kind of activity in the building including maintenance or repair work.
To protect the health of residents and users of older buildings, it’s important to perform thorough asbestos testing at least every six to12 months depending on the age of the building. Routine asbestos testing can help identify potentially harmful asbestos-containing materials and warrant asbestos abatement treatment.
Before purchasing an older structure for commercial or residential purposes, make sure to test it for asbestos.
When People Start Complaining
If you’re a building or homeowner and your tenants, family members, or employees start complaining about potential asbestos exposure concerns, then you have to take immediate action. Asbestos is hazardous to the health of anyone that’s exposed to it, particularly pregnant women and young children. It’s also a liability issue for you as a property owner since you’re responsible for ensuring that your property is up to code and safe to use.
Even if it’s just one person complaining, you should always take the complaint seriously to guarantee the health and safety of everyone who uses your property on a regular basis. If the test results come back negative, then you can breathe a sigh of relief (literally!) in knowing that you’re doing your part to keep occupants of your building safe from asbestos.
Contact the Certified Professionals at GTA Property Service Group Inc. for Asbestos Testing in Toronto, Mississauga, and Brampton
GTA Property Service Group Inc. is one of the leading asbestos testing and abatement companies in Ontario. We’re fully qualified and licensed to perform accurate asbestos testing, abatement, and removal if necessary. If we find asbestos in your structure, we can help you identify the severity of the problem and the most effective removal solution. Contact us today to schedule your asbestos testing in Toronto or the GTA.