So you moved into a greater Vancouver house with asbestos
The Metro Vancouver area is filled with many houses that have long, intriguing histories. It’s no wonder many people jump at the chance to move into an older house! But there are sometimes a few challenges that can arise. Probably one of the biggest issues is that building regulations were different decades ago. That meant it was okay for houses to be constructed with materials that we now know are harmful. Asbestos is one example of this. In this article, we’ll discuss what you should do if you’ve moved into a house with asbestos.
Why you should be concerned if you’ve moved into a house with asbestos
According to Thisoldhouse.com, asbestos was once prized as a building material because it is a durable, fire-resistant material that also happens to be a great insulator. Asbestos is also good at stifling sound, allowing people in separate rooms to enjoy privacy and quiet. These qualities made it one of the prime choices for building homes up until the 1970s. However, in more recent years, it has been discovered asbestos can create lung problems. Prolonged exposure can result in lung diseases such as cancer. The problem lies in the fact that tiny asbestos fibers can be inhaled, damaging lung tissue.
Locate asbestos in your home
If you’ve moved into a house with asbestos, locating the material is often the first step to removing it. However, before we go any further we should mention the province says in HeathLinkBC.ca removal is not always the answer. Sometimes disturbing asbestos — especially if it’s behind a wall — will only exacerbate the problem. Do not disturb asbestos if you find any in your home. Instead, call a trained a professional to handle it.
Asbestos was a popular building material, so it may be found in many places. Vinyl floor tiles, glue, linoleum, window caulking, roofing material, insulation, cement…the list goes on and on. We’d recommend checking up sites likeThisoldhouse.com to help you determine where asbestos might be located. The Environmental Protection Agency also has a great site for this as well. And the City of Vancouver offers services that allow you to find your house’s history. This can give valuable insight if and where asbestos was used to build your home.
Make smart choices when hiring an asbestos professional
Before hiring asbestos professionals, it’s best to learn a little bit about the professions — particularly the difference between an inspector and a remover.
Asbestos inspectors are qualified to examine and test material to see if it contains asbestos.
Asbestos removers are qualified to handle, remove and dispose of asbestos.
The difference between these two jobs is important. Removers should not be called in to inspect and vice versa because different qualifications may be needed for each job. This rule is not set in stone and can vary depending on where you live. But to play it safe, use the following information as a guideline. Generally speaking, removers may not be qualified to identify hazardous asbestos — lab training is often needed to do this. Likewise, inspectors may not be qualified to remove harmful materials such as asbestos.
However, some businesses may be qualified to inspect and remove asbestos. But you might want to avoid those companies because of conflict of interest. Inspectors who work with a removal company will have plenty of incentive to prescribe an expensive asbestos removal which may not be necessary.
As a starting point, the B.C. government has provided a list of companies who are experienced in dealing with asbestos.
If you have just moved in and discovered asbestos in your home, stay calm — it is not always harmful. If undisturbed (e.g. not chipped, peeling, etc.), asbestos is not hazardous because it will not be airborne, according to B.C. government website HealthLinkBC.ca. Also take note the province says that whether or not asbestos is a problem depends on the length of your exposure, your health history and the type of asbestos. If you suspect an area in yourhouse has asbestos, stay away from it. Contact an inspector who can help you make an informed decision.
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