If you are about to start a renovation or interior demolition on an older building, it is important for you to look at getting a hazmat inspection prior to starting your project. You may uncover hazardous building materials such as asbestos. Unfortunately, this is all too common when it comes to older buildings.
The problem with asbestos-containing material is the danger it poses to your health. While the presence of it isn't dangerous in and of itself, it becomes a hazard when disturbed. Airborne exposure can lead to cancer from asbestos as well as lung scarring.
Here are some of the most common materials that contain asbestos in buildings.
Transite cement, also known as asbestos cement, is a composite material created from both cement and asbestos fibres. These fibres are pressed into shape to create anything from walls to piping.
Asbestos cement pipes were used throughout Canada to deliver drinking water until the early 1980s. As many of these pipes were not replaced, they remain in use in various drinking water distribution systems across Canada. However, ingesting asbestos is said not to pose health risks the way inhalation does.
Fire-retardant insulation was popular in pre-90’s building construction due to its fire-resistant nature as, asbestos is nonflammable and noncombustible. It has a melting point of around 1,600 degrees Fahrenheit.
Asbestos was also popular as it is an excellent thermal and electrical insulator.
Vinyl tiles made in the 70s and 80s often contained asbestos due to its resilience and durability. Even before then, you could find asbestos as the primary tiling material.
If an older building hasn't had its tiles replaced since then, there may still be asbestos in its flooring.
Asbestos was often mixed into various adhesives to improve their strength. Asbestos can be found in adhesives like grout, sealants, putties and dry powder mixes. Types of adhesives containing asbestos include: asphaltic cutback - a black adhesive used beneath vinyl tiles and flooring.
Roofing materials are another place to find asbestos in buildings due to their durability and fireproofing characteristics. Once again, damage from storms or heavy weather can release asbestos particles into the air. Routine building inspections should catch its presence, though.
Spray-on coatings, such as popcorn ceilings, are another common asbestos-containing building material. Again, asbestos was added for fire retardant safety measures. As well, asbestos is effective for soundproofing.
Rope Seals and Gaskets
You'll most commonly find asbestos in rope seals and gaskets around gas or electric heating appliances. Once again, they were used due to their fireproof characteristics and how slowly they transfer heat. However, replacing these appliances on your own could lead to exposure.
Hire an Asbestos-Containing Hazmat Inspection
Asbestos inspections are important if you plan on making any renovations to an older building. Because asbestos was so widely and commonly used for its durability, fire resistant, and soundproofing qualities, it is very likely going to be found in pre 90’s construction. The last thing you want is to develop breathing problems or lung disease because you didn’t invest in asbestos testing.
BC Hazmat Inspections can provide a full hazmat report while checking for asbestos and other hazardous material, like mould, within your property. Contact us today to schedule an inspection in the Greater Vancouver and Lower Mainland region.