Is Asbestos Hazardous to Your Health?
Asbestos becomes a hazard to health when the fibers are disturbed and become airborne. This means that asbestos poses health risks only when fibres are present in the air and then people breathe them into the lungs. Fibres can be released into the air when asbestos-containing products break down. This release can happen through deterioration or when the material is cut or disturbed.
Can I Remove Asbestos Myself?
Please do not attempt to remove asbestos yourself. Fibres can easily become air borne, creating a risk of serious illness if proper precautions are not taken.
If you suspect there might be asbestos within your building, the product or material must be tested. If asbestos is present, proper procedures must be used before the material can be disturbed (removed, or cut).
In many areas, there are strict regulations that define the procedures that must be used when working with different types of asbestos. Even if the work is to be done outdoors, these requirements must be followed.
For example, in Ontario, any worker that is involved in an asbestos abatement project must have received proper training. If the worker is involved in a type 3 operation, the worker must have received training that is approved by the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities.
What Should I Do If I Discover Asbestos In the Building?
Health Canada provides the following recommendations for homeowners who may have asbestos in their house:
You can reduce your risk of exposure by hiring a professional to test for asbestos before doing any:
- renovations or remodelling
If asbestos is found, hire a qualified asbestos removal specialist like Healthy Home Center to get rid of it before beginning work. Avoid disturbing asbestos materials yourself. This increases the risk to your health and your family’s health. Check with your provincial and territorial workplace safety authorities to find out the qualifications or certifications needed in your area.
If you have vermiculite-based insulation in your attic, it may contain asbestos. To avoid exposure to asbestos fibres, do not disturb vermiculite-based attic insulation in any way or attempt to remove it yourself. Make sure:
- children are not allowed in the attic
- the attic is not used for storage or any other use
- professionals that are trained to handle asbestos are hired if you plan to remodel or renovate
- all cracks and holes in the ceiling of the rooms below the insulation are sealed
- caulking around light fixtures and the attic hatch is applied to prevent insulation from falling through
If you have vermiculite-based insulation in your attic, some may have fallen inside your walls over time. Therefore, you should seal cracks and holes with caulking around:
- window and door frames
- along baseboards
- around electrical outlets