Things to consider before you use a DIY/Home Asbestos Testing Kit.
Asbestos was used in over 3,000 building products from the 1950’s until it began to be phased out in the 1980s. It has excellent fire suppression qualities, which may have saved a few lives, but unfortunately, it was found that the fibres also lead to serious health issues. In fact, Asbestos is one of the top killers of workers in Canada. We are sometimes asked whether a home asbestos testing kit is a good idea.
Here are our thoughts, based on years of experience removing asbestos from residential, commercial, and industrial spaces.
1) Asbestos is serious stuff. It is one of the top causes of death for workers in Canada, and this number has been increasing. In 2016, over 500 Canadians died from Mesothelioma. https://rightoncanada.ca/?p=4234
2) Certified Asbestos Inspectors get a full week of intensive training and testing before they are certified. They learn where Asbestos could be, how to properly extract samples, and most importantly, how to keep themselves safe while doing it.
3) Asbestos may be in materials you do not check. You may miss possible sources of Asbestos. When asbestos was used as a fire retardant, it was often selectively used only in certain materials, such as drywall mud, or tapes. Just because some building materials are free and clear, it does not mean they all are.
4) Complications from Asbestos may not show up for years. Complications from Asbestos exposure, including Asbestosis, Mesothelioma, and Lung Cancer can take years to show up. Just because your neighbour with the same house removed insulation from his attic last year and seems fine now is no reason to conclude that you would be safe if you did the same. https://www.worksafebc.com/en/health-safety/hazards-exposures/asbestos
5) Testing documents from a certified lab will allow you to dispose of materials at a much less expensive rate. Landfills and Disposal sites, if they take building materials that may contain asbestos, will charge you much less if you can provide documentation from a certified asbestos testing lab that the materials are free of asbestos.
6) Professional Asbestos Testing is not as expensive as you may think. Thorough testing of any materials in your home that may be impacted by demolition or renovations will likely cost only a few hundred dollars. This is a small price to pay as part of a renovation that could cost thousands to ensure the workers on your site are 100% safe.
7) Your best option may be to cap and not disturb the asbestos. Asbestos fibres are only a problem when they float in the air and can get into your lungs. A qualified hazardous material company can help you understand the options when they know exactly where the asbestos is present.
8) Improper treatment of Asbestos containing materials can incur heavy fines from WorkSafeBC. As a top cause of death for workers in BC & Canada, WorkSafeBC BC has put a heavy focus on putting together safe treatment plans and regulations for companies that are working in spaces where Asbestos could be present.
You may be able to get an asbestos testing kit at your local hardware or home building supply store and try and complete your own tests. However, working with a certified asbestos testing company can give you the documentation you need, and peace of mind when you know your family and those working on your home renovation or in your commercial building are safe from a real health threat that leads to tragic consequences for hundreds of Canadians every year. A company that is qualified to deal with asbestos will also be able to tell you whether Asbestos Abatement or Asbestos Removal are the best options for your situation.
At Progressive Environmental Solutions, we are certified to collect samples for Asbestos Testing, and we work with certified labs to ensure you get the documentation and the plans you need. Feel free to call us to discuss your renovation or deconstruction project and how we can keep your family and contractors safe.