Asbestos Safety in Your Home

Asbestos is a dangerous substance and needs to be handled carefully to avoid short- and long-term health effects. Here's what homeowners and pros need to know about asbestos safety in your home.

For Homeowners

As a homeowner — especially if your house was constructed in the '80s — here's what you need to know first about asbestos: You can't tell if you have asbestos unless you test for asbestos. Everyday areas at risk include:

  • Building insulation
  • Floor and ceiling tiles
  • Cement and plaster
  • Furnaces and heating systems 
  • House siding
  • Car and truck brake pads

If you suspect that you may have asbestos in your home, you need to have it tested.  

What To Do If Your House Tests Positive for Asbestos?

Unless you have taken and passed a course on asbestos removal, follow all of the regulations:   

Do not cut it! Do not drill it! Do not sand it! Do not saw it! Do not scrape it! Do not scrub it! Do not remove it! Do not power wash it! Do not demolish it!   

Asbestos only poses health risks when fibres are present in the air we breathe, and products do not release significant amounts of fibre unless they are cut or damaged. If the asbestos fibres are enclosed or tightly bound in a compound, there is not a significant health risk.  

Health Canada advises if you have asbestos in your home, and want it removed, you must call in a professional to properly and safely remove it for you. 

For Construction Professionals

If you are a construction professional, you must take safety precautions when working with any hazardous materials, Asbestos, with its numerous health risks, should be at the very top of the list.  

According to the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS), exposure to asbestos can cause cancer and other diseases that can lead to impaired breathing function and even death. 

How Asbestos is Dangerous

Asbestos is the generic name for various fibrous materials found naturally in rock formations around the world.

Its value as a reinforcing, insulating and fire-proofing material lead to widespread use in construction materials such as insulation board, asbestos cement, drywall joint cement, spackling, and floor and ceiling tiles.

Health risk caused by asbestos exposure depends on the following factors:  

  • The concentration of asbestos fibres in the air. 
  • How long the exposure lasted.
  • How often you were exposed.
  • The size of the asbestos fibres inhaled.
  • The amount of time since the initial exposure.

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