What is Asbestos?

Before talking about asbestos testing Edmonton we must learn more about asbestos. The term “asbestos” describes a group of six naturally occurring minerals: chrysotile, crocidolite, amosite, anthophyllite, tremolite, and actinolite. Among these, chrysotile and amosite asbestos are most common. Asbestos has traditionally been used to insulate various residential, commercial and industrial buildings. Asbestos has very good non-combustible and flame retardant properties.It was commonly installed in the 1950s, 60s, and 70s during construction Because of its strength and versatility, it was often used to fortify plastic, spray insulation, re-enforcing concrete, concrete piping and other construction materials.

In modern Canadian construction and renovations, asbestos has been eliminated. It is  also regulated and removed from older buildings whenever and wherever possible.

History Of Asbestos

The hazardous effects of asbestos were recognized as early as the first century A.D., when Pliny the Elder, the Roman naturalist, and Strabo, the Greek geographer, wrote of a sickness of the lungs of slaves involved in weaving asbestos cloth. Asbestosis was first identified in 1930, but the cancer-producing potential of asbestos was not established until 1949. That year a report described higher than normal percentages of lung cancer among individuals dying from asbestosis. It was not until 1960, with the publication of a series of cases in South Africa, that the association between malignant pleural mesothelioma (a cancer of the lining of the lungs) and asbestos exposure was generally recognized.

Where Do You Find Asbestos?

Asbestos is not easily visually identified, but can be found in many building materials prior to the 1980s including:

  • Vermiculite attic insulation – Vermiculite is a low-density insulation which has the appearance of layers of mica separated by air gaps. Vermiculite is not asbestos (and vermiculite sold today does not contain asbestos) but some vermiculite deposits were contaminated with asbestos, as recently as the early 1990s. Vermiculite was widely sold to home builders and consumers across North America to insulate attics, walls or around chimney liners.
  • Linoleum, Vinyl Flooring, Tiles (including floor and ceiling tiles) -Resilient floor tiles in all sizes may contain asbestos. A common myth is that you can tell by the size (8.5 x8.5) if the floor tile is likely to contain asbestos, you cannot. Only a test by accredited lab can determine if a product contains asbestos or not.
  • Mechanical insulation –   can be found on mechanical  and heating systems, including boilers, furnaces, ductwork, vessels, tanks, floor registers, wood burning stoves, and pipes. Mechanical insulation often has a high percentage of asbestos content.
  • Soundproofing – Many soundproofing materials contained asbestos before 1980
  • Textured paints and ceilings – Textured and decorative finishes on walls and ceilings in older buildings often contain hazardous asbestos.
  • Patching and joint compounds – Drywall taping compound, or drywall mud, sometimes referred to simply as drywall, often contains asbestos. In addition to covering seams, drywall mud is also used to cover holes, drywall screws, and nails and will be spread out over a large area for a nice finished look. Contaminating the entire drywall sheet with asbestos.
  • Roofing materials – Prior to 1980 roofing tiles contained asbestos as its known properties of durability and heat resistance is desirable in roofing material.
  • Cement board and tiles – Cement boards are often located on exterior buildings, forming wall coverings and roofs. They may appear as flat sheets, in corrugated sheet or as smaller overlapping tiles. They may be used indoors in electrical panels, as a heat shield around fireplaces and heating components, as blackboards, as peg board, and as wall coverings.
  • Spray Foam Fire Proofing – Located on structural supports (e.g. columns and beams), walls and ceilings for fire protection. More commonly found in commercial construction, applications of spray applied fireproofing with asbestos may be located.

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asbestos testing edmonton

Why Is Asbestos Dangerous?

Today, asbestos is classified as a known human carcinogen making asbestos  a regulated and Designated Substance. Asbestos fibers are microscopic (roughly .02 the diameter of a human hair), and therefore, are easily inhaled. Asbestos is a major threat to our health,  lightweight fibers  are often small enough to be virtually invisible and can enter the lungs when asbestos is disturbed without us knowing. The property of durability which made asbestos so desirable to manufacture is exactly what makes asbestos hazardous.

The tiny, invisible fibers of asbestos can cause irreparable damage to the lungs when inhaled. Disease directly related to any exposure to asbestos include:

  • Lung cancer
  • Mesothelioma (cancer of the chest and abdominal lining)
  • Irreversible and potentially fatal scarring of the lungs (also known as asbestosis)
  • Sick building syndrome
    (a wave of chronic illness among building inhabitants. SBS is not solely caused by asbestos, but is a work-oriented illness associated with various toxic compounds that affect air quality)

Other cancers of asbestos include the larynx, trachea, stomach, colon, and rectum. While these types of cancer are much rarer than asbestos-induced lung cancer, there is still reported instances.

What To Do With An Asbestos Contamination?

In many scenarios, if the material is in good condition, leave it alone. If you don’t know if asbestos is present, the experts at Admirable Inspection Services can test the material for you.

If you are planning a renovation or demolition it’s important to check for asbestos first. If you have asbestos materials that are damaged or deteriorating, isolate the area immediately, clear the area around and contact us for a consultation.

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Asbestos Testing Edmonton

Why do we need asbestos testing Edmonton?  Asbestos that is undisturbed is not a concern. It is when we decide to do a renovation in the home big or small is when the opportunity to disturb asbestos becomes critical.  So before starting any renovation be sure to get asbestos testing Edmonton by a certified professional at Admirable Inspection Services.

My Promise to You

pre-listing inspections edmontonChoosing the right inspection service provider can be difficult. Unlike most professionals you hire, you probably won’t meet me until your inspection appointment–after you’ve hired. Furthermore, different inspectors have varying qualifications, equipment, experience, reporting methods, and pricing. One thing that’s certain is that a thorough inspection requires a lot of work. Ultimately, a quality inspection depends heavily on the individual inspector’s effort. I guarantee that I will give you my very best.

— Steven Letendre

Admirable Inspection Services