Until the late 1980s, asbestos was a popular building material for insulation and suppressing fires. But as people became aware of its health hazards, asbestos has fallen out of fashion.
Because asbestos is friable (easily crushable into dust), it can get airborne very easily. As a result, people can directly inhale asbestos fibers into their lungs. When exposed to asbestos over years or decades, you’re at high risk of developing lung cancer and other diseases.
That said, a building with asbestos isn’t dangerous in of itself. As long as the asbestos is intact and sealed behind drywall (without any exposure to your occupant areas), it’s not a problem. Asbestos exposure is only a risk through damaged structures.
You can have asbestos in your drywall, tiles, pipes, and other areas. In any case, these are all called ‘asbestos-containing materials’ (ACM). If you have ACM in your building, you’re required by law under the Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act to tell your contractors about it.
If you’re in an older building (generally built before the 1980s) and aren’t sure if you have ACM, then you’ll need to carry out a Designated Substance Survey (DSS). The DSS will then find out if your building has presumed or suspect ACM.
Remove Asbestos Without Disturbing Your Tenants
or Putting Them at Risk of Exposure
Presumed Asbestos Containing Material vs. Suspect Asbestos Containing Materials
What’s Presumed Asbestos Containing Material (PACM)?
PACM (presumed asbestos containing material) is an area of your building you assume has asbestos. So let’s say you conduct a DSS and the consultant finds that the ceiling on one floor has asbestos cement in it.
You then learn that the ceiling tiles you have on that floor are identical to the tiles you have all over the building. In that case, you can assume that all of your ceiling tiles contain asbestos.
You can assume other areas contain asbestos, but you can’t assume they don’t. So if the floor tiles don’t contain asbestos, you can’t assume the ceiling tiles are also free of asbestos.
If you have PACM, you will need to either place your building under an asbestos management program (AMP) or remove the PACM through asbestos abatement. But if you don’t believe the other areas of your building have PACM, then you need to prove it through another DSS.
What’s Suspect Asbestos Containing Material (SACM)?
SACM is any building material that you suspect contains asbestos because of how it looks or its age. You haven’t done any studies to prove it has asbestos-containing products, but you may be cautious, and alert people of it until you test it.
How to Deal with SACM & PACM Asbestos Issue
As we noted earlier, if you have PACM, you have three options:
- Place your building under an asbestos management program (AMP)
- Remove the asbestos through an abatement project
- Disprove the PACM status through a more thorough DSS
If you’re moving ahead with asbestos abatement, then you’ll need to contact a professional asbestos removal contractor. Yes, you may be able to complete the work alone with a small Type 1 (10 feet or less) projects, but with Type 2 (10-100 square feet) and Type 3 (100+ square feet) projects,
the risk of friable asbestos-containing material contamination is much higher.
Need More Help on Finding and Managing Asbestos Containing Material?
- The Difference Between Cellulose and Asbestos Insulation
- Ontario’s Asbestos Removal & Disposal Regulations
- Are Your Tenants at Risk of Asbestos Exposure?
You need a professional contractor who will set-up barriers around the work area to prevent access to it. Your contractor will also stop asbestos fibres from spreading to other locations
in your building through reverse air flow and de-contamination sites. They’ll also dispose of asbestos-containing surfacing material and floor tiles safely.
In terms of SACM, you can put your building under an AMP. With an AMP, you can document
all of the suspicious material, restrict access to those areas, and other precautionary steps.
At FERRO, we use industry best standards and work practices to keep you, your occupants, and our technicians safe. Call us today to remove your asbestos safely and quickly.