Asbestos FAQ

What Is Asbestos and Where Is It Found?

Asbestos is a generic term that describes a variety of naturally occurring mineral silicates that separate into fibres.  Asbestos fibres are incombustible, possess high tensile strength, are flexible, and have outstanding thermal and electrical insulating properties, excellent acoustical properties, and good chemical resistance.  These unique physical properties are the reason why asbestos became a popular component in a wide variety of industrial and commercial building products.  Asbestos was widely used in British Columbia as a building material until the early 1990s.  Never assume a building material is free of asbestos; you can’t tell just by looking at it.  Asbestos-containing building materials were used extensively in the construction of public and commercial buildings.

Asbestos was commonly used in:

  • Floor tiles
  • Sheet flooring
  • Gypsum board filling compound
  • Acoustic plaster
  • Acoustic ceiling tiles
  • Thermal and electrical insulation
  • Fireproofing
  • Cement pipe
  • Cement sheeting
  • Insulation on boiler pipes and ducts
  • Firedoor liners
  • Coatings
  • Mastics
  • Roofing materials
  • And more

Potential Sources of Asbestos in the Home

When and How Dangerous is Asbestos?

When an asbestos containing material is disturbed, there is a chance it will cause the release of asbestos fibres into the air.  Asbestos fibres are extremely fine and can remain suspended in the air for hours.  Inhaling these fine fibres, over a prolonged period of time, can cause serious chronic health issues.  Respiratory diseases such as asbestosis, lung cancer, and mesothelioma have been associated with occupational exposures to asbestos.  A latency period, between 10 and 35 years, is common between the initial exposure and recognizable symptoms of an asbestos-related disease.  Medical evidence also indicates that cigarette smoking greatly enhances the potential of developing an asbestos-related disease.

For more information visit WorkSafeBC; check out the below links:

Asbestos Awareness for Homeowners
Asbestos Enforcement Initiative

Get One Step Ahead of Disease

 If your home was built before the 1990s and you are planning to renovate, it is important to determine if any of the building materials contain asbestos.  When asbestos-containing materials are disturbed, asbestos fibres are released into the air.  The release of asbestos fibres into the air is a health risk for workers working on the property and the people living in the home.

Pre-Demolition Hazardous Material Surveys

Prior to a building/structure demolition permit application, depending on individual city/district/township, a hazardous building materials report is required.  This report must detail the presence and location of asbestos-containing building materials, lead, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), mercury, stored chemicals, and silica.

Pre-Renovation Hazardous Material Surveys

Prior to a building renovation, a proper pre-project renovation survey is required to ensure that building occupants, as well as any contracted trades, are not exposed to asbestos fibres or any other hazardous materials which may be present.

Pre-Purchase Hazardous Material Surveys

Astech has developed a cost-effective survey and report format that includes detailed contractor budgets for the abatement of hazardous building materials, which would occur at some time in the future. The budget estimates for hazmat abatement provided in the report are intended to satisfy your due diligence and can be utilized to form a key dollar value component in negotiating a typical buy/sell agreement.

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