Although homes built recently may have traces of asbestos, many homes which were built before 1908 in the Edmonton area have asbestos in ceiling tiles, roof shingles, floor tiles, siding insulation among other areas. You need to have your house checked by competent professional to avoid any associated risks.
How does asbestos become a hazard?
Asbestos becomes a danger only after it has become airborne. Therefore, if asbestos found in your home are damaged knowingly trying to remove them or unknowingly, asbestos fibres may be released posing a health hazard. If asbestos insulation around pipes and boilers deteriorates, asbestos dust which is airborne is released while blown ceilings which have asbestos may release fibres when they are patched or drilled. In other cases, when the ceilings are worn out and in poor conditions, asbestos dust may be spread throughout the house due to air movement.
Additionally, asbestos pipes which have been used to transport underground water to different homes may cause problems too if an asbestos-containing cement material may deteriorate over time. With time as the material degrades, asbestos fibres may be released into the water that flows through the pipe. This is another way asbestos can become a hazard in a home.
How to check asbestos in your home?
You should not depend on visual inspection alone to determine whether you’ve asbestos in your home. Instead, you should have samples of materials suspected to be having asbestos sent to a certified laboratory for analysis. In the laboratory, Transmission Electron Microscopy (TEM) and Polarized Light Microscopy (PLM) are the two methods which are approved to analyse traces of asbestos. Also, you should understand that not every laboratory can perform these tests because there is a list of certified laboratories which are authorised to do TEM and PLM analysis.
Even though Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have a detailed guidance on how you can collect samples of asbestos as a homeowner, American Lung Association does not recommend you to do it yourself. Instead, you should hire certified professionals to take samples for you so that you reduce exposing yourself and your family to asbestos.
What to do when you find asbestos in your home?
After asbestos is found in your home, the method used to deal with depends on:
• Where asbestos is found
• The condition of the material having asbestos
• Whether asbestos is friable or non-friable
If the material containing asbestos is in good condition such that asbestos fibres cannot be released, the material may then not be dangerous at that time. However, the material should be checked regularly for signs of deterioration of asbestos to avoid exposing occupants to asbestos.
Materials having asbestos may either be isolated or repaired rather than being removed to prevent exposure. To choose between isolation and repair, you’ve to consider some factors such as the condition of the material, where the material is found and severity of deterioration. For instance, you can just repair small tears in pipes used for insulation because they are easy and cost effective. However, you can only isolate materials that are in good condition, but they contain asbestos waiting for the opportune moment to remove them completely.
Removal of asbestos is the only guarantee that the problem is solved in your home. However, the process of removing asbestos is complicated and may pose a higher risk if not done properly by a professional because asbestos fibres may fill the room. After the removal of asbestos, air samples should be taken to make sure that the home is safe for the occupants. Necessary precautionary measures should be adhered to make sure that everything is working as expected. During removal, a HEPA Vacuum should be used, disposable clothing respirators and other protective clothing. Also, no one should be in the house until it is has been approved by the experts.
It is advisable for every homeowner to hire a competent professional who is certified, skilled and experienced in handling asbestos abatement work. It is not easy getting a reputable company that will work on asbestos in your home efficiently. You can contact your regional EPA office, Better Business Bureau or your local health department, or in the case of Alberta asbestos testing, you should contact Safety Coordination.
Finally, to ensure that quality work is done, EPA recommends that you choose an independent asbestos professional to carry out your asbestos abatement work instead of the contractor who inspects your home for the same.