Do you work for a company that renovates buildings built prior to 1990?

Do you work for a company that renovates buildings built prior to 1990?

We had a successful first year at the Homestyle’s show with many contractors and home & building owners coming to our booth with questions about mold, asbestos and radon.

I was prompted to write this article after one particular visitor came to our trade show booth for some answers and explained his concerns of his employer not testing for asbestos on their job sites. This gentleman told me that since the downturn in the economy the well known Saskatoon company he works for has moved from constructing new buildings to demolition and renovation work, just as many other builders have done in an effort to keep their businesses afloat.

The story is that they are running into vermiculite and other questionable building materials that most likely contain asbestos and when it has been brought up by himself or other employees, they are told that the materials most likely don’t contain asbestos. They are also told that in order to have the materials tested and analyzed, it would take a couple weeks for results and that they would have no work for employees in this case. The truth is samples can be analyzed within 24 hours of testing. To me this is a very sad and scary situation to think that an employer is so desperate for work that they would be negligent and put their employees and customers life at risk just to keep busy. WorkSafe BC has stated in this youtube video that “Since the year 2000, more workers have died from asbestos disease than any other workplace injury”.

If you work for a contractor that does demolition and renovation work in buildings built prior to 1990 without first having a hazardous building materials survey/audit performed, you must speak to your OH&S committee and state your concerns. If the company does not have an OH&S committee, you may want to consider finding a different job or go directly to OH&S. Here is the Saskatchewan asbestos abatement manual & regulations, your employer and all employees should be familiar with this manual.

Key lessons to be learned from this story are as follows:

1. Before starting a renovation project, your employer must hire a professional consultant to determine whether the building has materials that contain asbestos.

2. Determine whether or not the project will potentially disturb the asbestos.

3. Determine if the materials are friable or non friable which will help determine if the project requires low, moderate or high risk abatement.

4. If the consultant finds that the renovation project could release asbestos fibres into the air, then your employer must have an abatement plan in place by working with a professional abatement contractor.

got mold?™ At the Homestyle’s Home Show in Saskatoon

got mold?™ At the Homestyle’s Home Show in Saskatoon

We invite you to come join us at Homestyle’s in Saskatoon at Prairie Land Park, 503 Ruth Street West this weekend. You can enter both of our draws, one for a free Radon test kit, and another for a mold and asbestos assessment/survey with a detailed report.

We are in row 500, directly across from Boryski Butcher Block Ltd., so you can grab some sausage, jerky or a tub of meat and cheese to snack on and don’t forget to take some home. Right beside us is Power roofing Systems and GT Showers & Doors.

There are several other great exhibitors such as J&H Builders with their featured tiny RTM homes, True North Log Homes and many more.

You can also come down and donate to the Children’s Hospital Foundation and purchase tickets from Gary Viden at Team Diabetes for your chance to win a trip for two to anywhere West Jet flies.

Wether you are renovating, thinking of renovating, looking for a tiny home (J&H Builders), need a brand new home, are in need of a new roof, new cookware (Treasure Chest Distributors), cutlery (Cutco) or anything else home related, this trade show is for you.

There’s plenty of candy, balloons and other treats for the kids, come out and show your support for local trusted contractors.

Show times for the weekend:

Saturday, March 11 10 am – 9 pm
Sunday, March 12 10 am – 5 pm

Tickets Cost:

Your ticket includes Main Stage and Bistro programming. Seating may be limited. See schedules for complete details.

Adults: $12.50
Seniors: $10.00 (55+over $8.00 on Thursday)
Children 12 & under: Free

Get your tickets at the door (CASH ONLY)

Parking:

Prairieland Park offers an abundance of free parking.

Speakers:

This year we’ve brought in HGTV stars, along with our local experts. Click HERE to see the schedule.

For more information visit the Homestyle’s web site.

We look forward to seeing you at the show. Keep posted on the winners of our two draws by checking our blog after the show.

Congratulations Canada!

Congratulations Canada, You have now joined the rest of the developed world! Last week Canadian parliament finally adopted legislation that has banned the use of all asbestos containing materials. Why? Well if you ask Justin Trudeau he might say something like, “Because it’s 2016”. While I joke about it, it’s not a laughing matter. I was listening to the radio on a recent trip to Calgary, and they had a government official on, and she was giving the stats on the number of people exposed to asbestos in the work place every year, the numbers were staggering. By government estimates, 150,000 Canadians are exposed to asbestos every year through their work, this number does not account for the thousands of people that do their own home renovations and unknowingly expose themselves and their loved ones to asbestos. Please take the time and listen to this segment on asbestos, and asbestos related diseases. https://omny.fm/shows/danielle-smith/full-show-xenophobic-legislature-exchange-russia-h  You will have to fast forward to the 42 minute mark. It’s worth a listen.

Asbestos awareness can save your life

 

When I first started in the restoration business only a decade ago,  nobody seemed concerned with asbestos. To be honest, I think nobody really knew about asbestos and the risks associated with exposure to asbestos.

I remember the first time I encountered vermiculite. It was in an old farm house that had an issue with ice damming. We had to pull down the ceiling to dry the structural supports. This really cool looking sand-like stuff started falling down. It looked like tiny rocks but had hardly any weight to it. We would never had known that we were exposed to asbestos except that the farmer had left the bag for the vermiculite in the attic with the insulation. It read, “Contains asbestos, extreme health hazard”.

After that incident, several of us decided that we wouldn’t do any more work until we were educated to the risks of asbestos. The things I didn’t realize blew my mind. There are over 2000 building products that use asbestos in them. Although the government knew the health hazards of asbestos, it wasn’t banned until 1985. This means that a huge portion of the population is living with asbestos containing materials in their home and probably don’t know it. While many of these products pose no risk to the inhabitants, as it only dangerous once it is disturbed, there are older homes all across Canada that are coming due for much needed renovations.

For all you do-it-yourselfers out there, let this be a warning: According to Stats Canada,  asbestos exposure-related diseases are now the number one workplace killer in Canada. More than the next three causes combined.  Asbestos has killed more than 5000 Canadians since 1995, and the numbers are still on the rise. Asbestos is a ghost killer. You can’t see it, or smell it. There aren’t any immediate signs of exposure. In fact, it usually takes 10-20 years for symptoms of asbestosis or mesothelioma to develop.

The lesson we all need to take away from this is, the health risks to you and your family aren’t worth the money that you save by not having professionals ensure your home is safe from such a dangerous product. I have two young girls at home, I wouldn’t think of exposing them to a known carcinogen that would shorten their lives dramatically. The key to lowering the number of asbestos deaths in Canada is awareness. And now you know.

Vermiculite Insulation and the Dangers of Exposure to Asbestos

Starting way back in the 1920s and running all the way through until the early 1990s, there was an insulation product that was used in homes and businesses across North America called vermiculite insulation. This type of insulation was being used in most homes and commercial buildings because of its fire resistant properties and superior insulation properties. The downside though is that vermiculite has the propensity to release asbestos fibers if it is heated or agitated.

How do I find out if the vermiculite insulation in my house contains asbestos?

You can have a sample of the insulation collected by our team at got mold?™ for testing. You should not do this yourself as it is important to have someone who is experienced in conducting asbestos hazard assessments to ensure property health and safety practices are followed.

What happens if the insulation does contain asbestos?

It has to be removed. This type of abatement is a high risk asbestos abatement that requires OH&S notice of project, which is 14 days’ minimum notice to OH&S before project commences. A third party consultant is required to provide daily air monitoring, containment pre-inspection, final visual clearance sampling, final air clearance sampling and final report as required by law for High risk asbestos abatement.

3 stage containment with temporary shower including HEPA negative air filtration must be set up to prevent any cross contamination during abatement. All vermiculite and insulation is to be double bagged in yellow asbestos bags, the bags are to be washed and removed through shower/chambers. After all ACM vermiculite is removed the entire containment must undergo a thorough final cleaning HEPA vacuuming/wet wiping followed by visual inspection by consultant. After visual is cleared, entire containment will be sprayed down with fiber lock asbestos glue before final air clearance testing commences and containment is fully cleared for demobilizing.

Should I be worried about my health if I have vermiculite insulation in my house?

As stated in a WorkSafe Bulletin, “Asbestos in vermiculite insulation is only a health hazard if the vermiculite is disturbed and the asbestos becomes airborne. There is no real risk if the vermiculite is sealed behind walls or isolated in an attic. However, inhalation of asbestos fibres can cause mesothelioma (a fatal cancer of the lining of the lungs or other organs), lung cancer, or asbestosis (a permanent scarring of the lungs that restricts breathing).”

Other Vermiculite Insulation Resources