What is asbestos?
Asbestos is a naturally occurring fibrous material that was a popular building material from the 1950s to 1990s. It was used extensively because it is an insulator, has good fire protection properties, has tensile strength, and is resistant to chemical erosion.
Asbestos is used in over 3,000 building products including sprayed on insulation, fireproofing and soundproofing in literally tens of thousands of buildings, plants & ships across Canada.
Unfortunately, it’s hard to know if you’re working with asbestos because it is often mixed with other materials. However, if you work in a building built before 1990, it's likely that at least some parts of the building will contain asbestos.
What‘s the problem?
Asbestos becomes a serious problem when the fibres are disrupted and become airborne, making it possible for unprotected people to inhale them. This can happen through planned construction, renovation or demolition of a building and even routine maintenance, or if an asbestos containing material is damaged as in a fire, flood or other natural disaster.
Asbestos is a serious problem in buildings, plants, ships and many other structures and facilities and is often described as a hidden killer because without proper analysis, it’s very difficult to determine its presence. Asbestos fibres are extremely fine and can remain suspended in the air for hours.
What’s the danger?
If not handled correctly, workers are in danger of inhaling asbestos-contaminated air. If an exposure occurs, serious chronic health problems can occur. These diseases may not affect you immediately; they often take a long time to develop, but once diagnosed, it is often too late for corrective treatment.
Most regulatory agencies today require building/facility owners to have an asbestos management program in place if asbestos is present and a risk-assessment and exposure control plan developed by professionals if at any time there is potential that the asbestos could be disturbed.
Identifying asbestos containing materials (ACM)
When asbestos fibres are released from an asbestos-containing product (ACM) and become airborne, they can be inhaled and pose a serious health risk. Even ships that are sunk as barrier reefs and have not had the asbestos properly removed can be a problem as the asbestos washes out over time and washed up on shore, dries and becomes airborne.
The extent of the exposure risk can depend on the location, type of product and the friability of the material.
Building materials that can be easily broken apart and disintegrate into dust (friable) and become airborne are usually more dangerous than products in which binders like tar or glue bind the asbestos fibers together.
An asbestos survey by a company with trained professionals can help you determine the level of risk and the extent of the problem and also develop a scope of work for abatement and or containment.
Getting an asbestos survey Regulators place an explicit duty on owners and employers to do their “due diligence” in regards to risk management in their buildings, facilities or job sites. As a first step to managing asbestos in a building, a survey of the building for asbestos containing materials is required. The asbestos survey will identify the location, type, extent and condition of any ACM and require the building owner to develop an exposure control plan, usually with the help of a professional asbestos consultant.
Once developed, there is a duty on the owner to provide building trades with information on the location of asbestos and ensure safe work plans are in place to prevent any uncontrolled release of asbestos. Contractors disturbing or working with asbestos must be trained and follow the correct procedures, preventing any uncontrolled disturbances and the resulting exposure to airborne asbestos.
Asbestos removal for your facility, plant, ship or business is not something to be taken lightly or handled carelessly. Minimize your risk and keep your employees and environment safe by contracting with Enviro-Vac for your asbestos & hazardous materials abatement project.
The obvious solution is to render our collective environments as free from the dangers of asbestos as is possible. Enviro-Vac has the resources to mobilize for select clients and or projects anywhere in Canada and parts of South America. From the first site inspection, to the final disposal of asbestos, Enviro-Vac can provide turn-key service solutions associated with asbestos removal and abatement.