If you have a home that was built before 1986 and you are planning to do a renovation, it’s probably a good idea to have the building materials tested for asbestos. Before its use in Canada was banned in the early 1980’s, asbestos was added to many commonly used building materials. Stockpiled building supplies that contained asbestos were still being used in Canadian home construction until about 1986.
If building materials that contain asbestos are left alone they don’t pose much of a health risk.However if they are disturbed during a renovation project, asbestos fibres can be released into the air. Even something as seemingly innocent as removing a textured or popcorn ceiling could release asbestos fibres into the air if not done properly.
Asbestos is usually associated with insulation but it was also added to a number of commonly used building materials. Here are some places where you might find asbestos in your home:
- Zonolite insulation – a type of vermiculite that was mined in Libby, Montana was sold under the Zonolite brand name. It was commonly used to insulate attics and walls. Most vermiculite is perfectly harmless but vermiculite sold under the Zonolite name contained asbestos.
- Drywall mud and textured ceilings – asbestos was added to drywall mud, patching compound, and textured ceilings to give them strength and fire resistance. When walls are knocked down or ceilings are scraped, asbestos can be released.
- Hot water and steam pipes – asbestos blankets and wraps were used to insulate hot water pipes and heating systems for decades.
- Vinyl flooring – you might be surprised to find out that the worn and yellowed linoleum in your kitchen could contain asbestos. Pulling it up to install new flooring could release asbestos dust into your home.
- Fireplace and woodstove surrounds – asbestos was sometimes added to paper, millboard, or cement board used in high heat areas around woodstoves.
If you’re planning to renovate a home that was built before 1986, you should have it inspected for asbestos before you start. Contact Amity Environmental in Calgary for asbestos inspections and remediation.