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General questions about asbestos

Can I cover asbestos floor tiles with new flooring?

It is possible to cover asbestos floor tiles, commonly called vinyl asbestos tile or VAT, with new flooring. However, if you sell the property, you will have to disclose the presence of the asbestos. As well, new flooring over VAT tiles can cause squeaky floors over time.

How many types of asbestos are there?

There are several minerals that are commonly known as asbestos and were used prior to 1990 to make different types of building products and insulation. There are six types of asbestos: chrysotile, amosite, crocidolite, anthophyllite, tremolite and actinolite. You can read more about the different types and see photos here.  

Use of asbestos has been banned by the Government of Canada.

What is friable asbestos?

Friable asbestos is the term used for asbestos that contains material that is easily crushed or pulverized. While we would never recommend doing so, friable asbestos can be crumbled by hand. It also means the fibres are easily released into the air, which creates a dangerous health hazard.

How common is asbestos in homes in Canada?

Prior to 1990, asbestos was very commonly used in Canada because the minerals known as asbestos make products that are strong, long-lasting, and fire-resistant. As a result, asbestos was mainly used for insulating buildings and homes. It was also used for fireproofing, and in building products such as cement and plaster, industrial furnaces and heating systems, floor and ceiling tiles, house siding and more. Asbestos is therefore common in homes and buildings constructed before 1990.

Asbestos identification and testing
How do I test for asbestos?

Asbestos is an extreme health hazard, particularly when fibres are released into the air during construction procedures, so it’s best to contact professionals to come to your home or commercial building to collect samples properly and safely. If you feel comfortable collecting samples yourself, you can bring them to us to be tested. Follow these guidelines if you decide to handle the sampling yourself.

Can I take samples myself for asbestos testing?

In order to collect samples safely, follow these guidelines and bring the samples to us to be tested. Or, let our professionals handle the dangerous task of collecting asbestos samples for you.

How many samples do I need for asbestos testing?

The answer to that depends on the type of material you’re testing. Most materials only require one sample, while others like drywall mud and vermiculite require several samples from different areas. We have more information here on the different types of materials and how to collect samples. Or call us and let our professionals handle it for you.

Are asbestos floor tiles brittle or flexible? What do asbestos floor tiles look like?

Vinyl asbestos tile or VAT become more brittle the older they get. They are also non-friable, meaning they are not easily crushed or crumbled. If you remove VAT tiles with a saw or other power tool, you put yourself at a greater risk of the health hazards of asbestos. It’s best to contact our professionals to test the product and safely remove it if it is asbestos tile.

Can drywall contain asbestos?

Drywall itself doesn’t contain asbestos, but the mud compound used to install drywall often did.

Can paint contain asbestos?

Yes, asbestos was used in paint. It was most commonly used in automotive, aircraft ship builders, and chemical plants.

Can floor tiles contain asbestos?

Yes, vinyl asbestos tile was most commonly in a 9×9-inch size but was also found in a 12×12-inch size.  If you’re unsure, it’s best to test before you disturb it.

Can stucco contain asbestos?

Yes, it was very common for different kinds of stucco to be made with asbestos.  You should test to confirm, especially due to stucco being friable and high-risk process.

Can cement contain asbestos?

Yes, cement can contain asbestos. Cement can also contain silica which should be part of cement testing. Silica dust can become airborne just like asbestos and be a health hazard.

Does all vermiculite insulation contain asbestos?

Not all vermiculite contains asbestos, but it was very common to use asbestos in the production of vermiculite insulation.

What does asbestos pipe insulation look like?

Asbestos pipe insulation looks like white coloured cement


Asbestos Removal
How much does asbestos removal cost?

The simple answer to this question is “it depends.” There are different materials that create three different risk levels. As the materials create more risk, more elaborate setups to contain the area are required. To get a full answer to the question, we need to see the area and determine what needs to be done to safely complete the removal project.

Is it safe to remove asbestos?

It’s best to hire trained professionals to safely remove asbestos. There are three levels of risk, and each level has an increasing number of safety procedures. These procedures are in place to protect the workers on the job site and ensure the proper removal of asbestos from the area. Asbestos abatement and removal must also follow all local asbestos abatement regulations. We do not recommend removing asbestos on your own, as it requires proper training, controls, and a written abatement plan.

How do we dispose of asbestos

Since asbestos is regulated,  it must be disposed of at a landfill . Only certain landfills take asbestos and typically require 24 hours notice before arriving with the asbestos. There are procedures at the landfill as well, as a hole needs to be dug that’s big enough for the asbestos containing materials. The asbestos must be double bagged in special bags and labelled as asbestos, or the landfill will reject the load

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