Planning On Remodeling Your Home? Check For Asbestos First

Posted on: 20 June 2018

Many people know that, like lead, asbestos can be a dangerous substance. However, most people aren't very informed about what to look for and what the risks are, and others still aren't even aware of asbestos to begin with. Here is what you need to know before you start doing anything around an older home. 

What Is Asbestos?

Asbestos is not a man-made chemical, as some people may think. Instead, it is a naturally occurring mineral, just like gold, silver, and diamonds. Asbestos is not a single mineral. It's a group of silicate minerals found in the earth's crust that all have the same chemical properties.

The fibres that make up the different types of asbestos can be pulled into a fluffy material that is soft, flexible, fire-resistant, and resistant to corrosion and electricity. It is also a good insulator. Additionally, adding asbestos fibres to other materials, such as wood or cement, makes that material stronger.  It's easy to see why the building industry, in particular, believed asbestos was an ideal building material.

Where Is Asbestos Likely To Be Found?

While asbestos was banned in Canada this year, it is still obviously in use all over the country. Asbestos can be commonly found in:

  • wall and attic insulation, particularly that made with vermiculite
  • the insulated blankets seen wrapped around hot water pipes and tanks
  • sheet vinyl flooring and self-adhesive vinyl tiles
  • cement board, which is often used around a free-standing wood stove or fireplace to protect the floor and walls both from heat transfer and/or fire
  • siding shingles
  • roofing materials
  • oil, wood, and coal furnace gaskets
  • texturized ceilings, such as the popular "popcorn" ceilings common in the sixties and seventies
  • in automobile parts, such as brakes

How Is Asbestos Identified?

Older adults may be able to identify when they suspect something contains asbestos just by looking at it if they have come across it previously in life, but in general, you can't tell that something contains asbestos by simply visually inspecting it unless it is clearly marked as such. It must be tested by a professional.

Be wary of people who tell you to save your money and follow a do-it-yourself testing protocol rather than working with a professional certified asbestos tester. Most advise you to cut a sample of the suspected material and mail it in to some internet laboratory. This is not safe. It is the airborne asbestos fibres that are dangerous to human health.

How Dangerous Is Asbestos?

When asbestos fibres are inhaled, they can cause a rare form of cancer called mesothelioma. The latency period—the time between exposure and illness—is often decades. It almost always results in a horrible death that is akin to slowly drowning. Anyone who lives in an older home or suspects asbestos is in their home should always consult an asbestos specialist for testing before doing any remodeling work, like GREEN CLOVER ASBESTOS. The risk is just not worth it. If asbestos is found to be present, it will need to be cleaned up by a professional abatement service.