From the 1920s until the late 1980s, most builders used asbestos for insulation, masting, and a range of other applications. But because of its severe health risks, such as causing lung cancer with prolonged exposure, asbestos is no longer common in the construction industry.
Though it’s not a problem for newer buildings, many old commercial and residential properties, especially those that haven’t gone through a renovation, still have asbestos. You can potentially find it behind drywall, beneath tiles, and several other places.
Fortunately, asbestos isn’t a health risk as long as it’s sealed away and in a non-friable state (i.e., you can’t crush it into dust).
Unfortunately, with age, the tiles and drywall in your building can wear out and develop cracks. Those cracks will expose the asbestos and, in turn, make it into a real health hazard.
In this piece, we’ll help you find potential asbestos containing materials (ACM) in your building.
How to Test For Asbestos
In general, commercial and residential building owners should have a Designated Substance Survey (DSS) report. You need a DSS on hand before proceeding with any renovation work; construction contractors have a right to ask for one.
Your DSS will outline the presence of asbestos in your building. Be it in the ceilings and walls, or your pipe insulation, or floor tiles, the DSS will list the location and condition of each asbestos material in your building. You can use the report to track asbestos materials in your building.
Besides the DSS report, you’ll need to collect samples of each presumed asbestos containing materials (PACM) and test it. However, because asbestos is a health hazard, you should only get a professional consultant to handle and test the samples of the material.
How to Test Insulation for Asbestos
If you have a DSS report, you should know where the asbestos insulation is; to see if you’re at risk of exposure, you’ll need to examine those areas.
Check the drywall for cracks and spots where the insulation material is falling apart. You should also check your piping to see if its insulation is still intact. You should also pay close attention to the room temperature, has it been colder as of late compared to several weeks ago? That could be a sign of damage in the drywall and your insulation breaking down.
Use This Checklist to See if You Have Asbestos Exposure
How to Test Ceiling Tiles for Asbestos
As with drywall, look for cracks in the ceiling tiles. It’s the same for vinyl or linoleum flooring.
How to Test for Asbestos in the Air
The challenging part of this test is that you’re looking for the presence of asbestos fibers. When asbestos reaches a friable state, its fibers can become airborne. In turn, your occupants are at risk of inhaling the fibers directly into their lungs.
You’ll need a certified indoor air quality (IAQ) expert to test your building air for asbestos. The consultant will collect a sample and send it to a lab to see how much asbestos you have in the air. The average cost will vary based on the size of the area the consultant is testing.
If your building tested positive for asbestos exposure, then you can either repair the affected area or remove the asbestos with the help of professional asbestos removal contractors.
In some cases, this should be simple. For example, if you have a damaged tile, you can replace it. However, if you have drywall that’s wearing out in a lot of areas, then you should remove the asbestos from your building entirely.
Yes, asbestos removal costs aren’t cheap, but they’re not a cost per se. Instead, they’re more of a way to preserve, if not increase, the value of your property.
As an example, you wouldn’t need to put your building under an asbestos management program requiring you to notify tenants and contractors about asbestos materials in your building.
Worried You Might Have Asbestos Exposure?
- Presumed vs. Suspect Asbestos Containing Materials
- How to Identify & Remove Asbestos in Linoleum Flooring
- Ontario’s Asbestos Removal & Disposal Regulations
Safely remove asbestos from your drywall, tiles, or piping and restore your property’s value. Call FERRO Environmental today.