Frequently Asked Questions
What is Asbestos?
Asbestos is a mineral fiber that occurs in rock and soil.
Where can I find Asbestos?
Because of its fiber strength and heat resistance asbestos has been used in a variety of building construction materials for insulation and as a fire retardant. Asbestos has also been used in a wide range of manufactured goods, mostly in building materials (roofing shingles, ceiling and floor tiles, paper products, and asbestos cement products), friction products (automobile clutch, brake, and transmission parts), heat-resistant fabrics, packaging, gaskets, and coatings.
Asbestos may be found in:
Attic and wall insulation produced containing vermiculite
Vinyl floor tiles and the backing on vinyl sheet flooring and adhesives
Roofing and siding shingles
Textured paint and patching compounds used on wall and ceilings
Walls and floors around wood-burning stoves protected with asbestos paper, millboard, or cement sheets
Hot water and steam pipes coated with asbestos material or covered with an asbestos blanket or tape
Oil and coal furnaces and door gaskets with asbestos insulation
Automobile clutches and brakes
How do I identify Asbestos?
It can be difficult to identify asbestos, as it is often mixed with other materials.
How can people be exposed to Asbestos?
Asbestos fibers may be released into the air by the disturbance of asbestos-containing material during product use, demolition work, building or home maintenance, repair, and remodeling. In general, exposure may occur only when the asbestos-containing material is disturbed or damaged in some way to release particles and fibers into the air.
Should I be concerned about serious health risks from asbestos?
Exposure to asbestos increases your risk of developing lung disease. That risk is made worse by smoking. In general, the greater the exposure to asbestos, the greater the chance of developing harmful health effects.
Disease symptoms may take many years to develop following exposure.
Asbestos-related conditions can be difficult to identify. Healthcare providers usually identify the possibility of asbestos exposure and related health conditions like lung disease by taking a thorough medical history. This includes looking at the person’s medical, work, cultural and environmental history.
After a doctor suspects an asbestos-related health condition, he or she can use a number of tools to help make the actual diagnosis. Some of these tools are physical examination, chest x-ray and pulmonary function tests. Your doctor may also refer you to a specialist who treats diseases caused by asbestos.
Three of the major health effects associated with asbestos exposure are:
mesothelioma, a rare form of cancer that is found in the thin lining of the lung, chest and the abdomen and heart
asbestosis, a serious progressive, long-term, non-cancer disease of the lungs
Will I need to be out of my home during Asbestos removal?
It depends on the amount of work required, and the rooms affected (for example, if your kitchen is not accessible, you would not be able to cook). A single bathroom could be sealed off while the asbestos is removed, and there would be no risk of exposure to asbestos provided that the proper controls are in place. You would also have to consider the noise and presence of contractors moving in and out of your house, as part of a decision to stay.
What is Asbestos abatement?
Procedures to control fiber release from asbestos containing material in a building by encapsulation, encasement, or removal.
Do I need a permit for Asbestos removal?
You will need a permit from the city or municipality for demolition or significant renovation work. The requirements vary from city to city, so please consult with your city staff in your area.
Is Asbestos dangerous?
When left intact and undisturbed, asbestos containing materials do not pose a health risk to people working or living in buildings. Asbestoscontaining material is not generally considered to be harmful unless it is releasing dust or fibers into the air where they can be inhaled or ingested.
What is a safe level of Asbestos exposure?
No safe level of asbestos exposure has been established. All forms are asbestos are considered carcinogenic
What are current Asbestos testing standards?
Ontario Regulation 278/05 provides for asbestos testing standards. If asbestos-containing material is present, the owner of the home or facility must inspect that material at regular intervals, at least every 12 months, to ensure that is has not become friable. If it has, the owner is responsible and must either seal or remove the material.
To determine whether a material contains asbestos and to establish its asbestos content and type, testing must be in accordance with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Test Method EPA/600/R-93/116: Method for the Determination of Asbestos in Bulk Building Materials, June 1993. (O.Reg.278/05, s.3(1)). This mandated test method is an air sampling method. Dust sampling, though recommended as best practice by some experts, is not mandated under Ontario regulation.