What is Involved in Asbestos Testing?

Ah, asbestos. We remember the days when it was just the stuff that was used to insulate the attic. It made the roofing shingles fire-resistant and helped to shield against the elements. Asbestos added a layer of soundproofing to the house when it was added to the tiles in the kitchen. It was a flame-proof covering on granny’s old ironing board in the basement. In short, before we knew how dangerous asbestos could be to human health, it was used in virtually every room in every home in Toronto and the surrounding area.

Asbestos was used in so many different ways that locating asbestos and arranging for its safe removal has become a bizarre game of Whack-A-Mole. Just when you think we’re making progress, we find new sources of asbestos making their way into modern construction. The first step to getting rid of asbestos is testing every time its presence is suspected. But what does asbestos testing generally involve for worried homeowners?

Asbestos Testing Toronto

When you first call a qualified asbestos removal company, you will be asked to provide as much information as you can over the phone. You may be asked to send in pictures of the area of concern by email to give a preliminary idea of the kind of asbestos contamination that may be present at the site. Then usually a site inspection will be scheduled, at a time that is convenient for you, to collect samples from at least three separate areas. This is in accordance with the appropriate provincial regulations for the province of Ontario (278/05) and it is done to ensure your safety. Common testing techniques include air testing, dust sampling, and swabbing or tape-lifting from suspicious areas in the home.

Though professional inspectors can give an opinion as to whether or not asbestos is likely to be present in the home based on a visual inspection, final confirmation must come from an accredited lab.

Harmful Health Effects of Asbestos

Asbestos is damaging to human health primarily because of two of its components: amphibole and chrysotile. Amphibole asbestos can resist even very high temperatures, so it has been heavily used in commercial heating systems and furnaces. Amphibole asbestos is considered more likely to cause diseases, including cancer, because the fibers stay in the lungs much longer than other types of asbestos. Chrysotile asbestos can be found in trace amounts in most modern asbestos-based products today. Though considered somewhat less dangerous than amphibole asbestos, it is still a threat, and more alarmingly it is still actively mined.

Lest you should think we’re being alarmist, the harmful effects of asbestos are well-documented by Health Canada. It is not a substance to be trifled with, and it is certainly not one that the average homeowner, not skilled in safe handling procedures and not equipped with a HazMat suit, should consider trying to remove on their own. When you need asbestos testing and safe hazardous waste removal in Toronto, you need to work with professional restoration companies. Make sure to choose one who is familiar with the proper protocols.

Did you know?

Between 1920 and 1980, over 240,000 homes across Canada were insulated with materials that contained asbestos.
Find out if your home was one of them
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