Asbestos was widely used as an insulating material in residential construction in Southern Ontario until it fell out of favour in the 1980s. The stuff is ubiquitous, and it’s downright dangerous. So dangerous, in fact, that it has been linked to several different types of cancer, and there is an entire industry dedicated to safe asbestos removal, or asbestos abatement. Given what we now about asbestos and the danger it presents to human health, why is it still a problem? The answer is that there are so many places in your home that could be harbouring hidden asbestos, it’s hard to know where to begin.
Lesser-Known Sources of Asbestos
If you were looking for asbestos, the attic would be a good place to start. Attic insulation, and in particular vermiculite insulation, is a common culprit when identifying sources of asbestos. But there are many potential sources of asbestos contamination in the average home in and around Toronto, some of which include:
- Flooring especially in vinyl and asphalt-based floor tiles. There may also be asbestos in the under padding of carpet.
- Ceiling finishes like acoustical tiles or popcorn ceilings. The insulating properties of asbestos also provided excellent soundproofing.
- Pipe insulation is a common source of asbestos, in particular the insulation around boilers and hot water tanks.
- Miscellaneous building materials like spackling compounds and plaster often contained asbestos. In fact, there are still asbestos-laden pipes being used in modern construction in the GTA today.
- Fireplaces of the 1970s had artificial ashes and embers that were coated in asbestos.
Roofing materials like felt, shingles and sealants were all commonly loaded with asbestos.
As you can see, asbestos is everywhere! While the roof on your house may have been re-done in recent years, it’s hard to know if every single element was removed and replaced as part of that job.
Why it Matters
Today’s home buyer is a fairly sophisticated one. After all, the average price of a home in the Greater Toronto Area is now well over half a million dollars. That’s not the kind of investment one just makes on a whim. The question of asbestos is going to come up should you ever decide to sell your home, there is no way around it. A clean bill of “health” for your house will go a long way to keep from holding up negotiations in the sale process.
Even if you have no plans to sell in the future, you’re unlikely to leave your house exactly as is forever. Asbestos is one of those sneaky substances that only really becomes a problem once it has been disturbed and the fibres are airborne. If you have any improvement plans for your home, you need to know if asbestos building materials were in your house at any time before you start unleashing potentially damaging substances.
The first step to addressing the problem of hidden asbestos in your home is finding a reliable asbestos removal company, skilled in Type 1, 2, and 3 abatements. These reputable professionals will also preserve public safety with the safe disposal of asbestos-contaminated waste.