Though a dangerous substance, asbestos only becomes a problem when it’s exposed to the air and in a friable state (where you can crush it into dust by hand).
When friable and exposed, asbestos can flow through the air of your building and enter people. It’s at this point where prolonged exposure to asbestos dust puts people at risk of scarring their lung tissue, developing cancer, and other major health problems.
So, it stands to reason that building owners should take asbestos very seriously. However, are they required to test for asbestos by law? And if so, how do they test for asbestos? In this post, we’ll take a more in-depth look at both questions.
Is Asbestos Testing Required by Law?
It’s a Must in Certain Situations
Occupational Health & Safety
As per Ontario’s Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA), building owners or property managers must test for and manage asbestos when they “know or ought reasonably to know
of the presence of friable and non-friable ACM (asbestos containing material) in a building.”
Also, if you’re aware of friable asbestos hazards, the law requires you to conduct a test with a professional environmental consultant.
In addition, you must place the building under an asbestos management program (AMP).
Under an AMP, you’ll need to put your building through regular inspections, notify all occupants of the asbestos, and keep a record of asbestos materials.
Construction & Renovation
You’ll also need to conduct a Designated Substance Survey (DSS) before any construction or renovation work in your building. The DSS could uncover the presence of asbestos, and you’ll need to consider abatement, or at least joining an AMP.
The construction contractor has the right to request a copy of the DSS before starting any work.
Be it a multi-unit commercial facility or a multifamily property, you should request a copy of the DSS from the owner before signing the dotted line. This will protect you from the risk of dealing with surprise asbestos work. And if you’re the seller, you should expect the real estate investor to ask for the DSS; otherwise, they may consider your property high-risk and walk away.
You have a legal mandate to inspect all commercial buildings and residential buildings beyond multi-family triplexes.
Worried You Have Asbestos Exposure?
Don’t Wait Until It’s Too Late & Get Rid of It Now
How to Test for Asbestos
Possible Asbestos Exposure
You need the services of a professional environmental consultant or asbestos abatement specialist certified to handle designated substances. The consultant or asbestos removal specialist will look for asbestos-containing products in these areas:
- HVAC ductwork
- Electrical wiring
As we noted earlier, if the consultant (or a DSS inspector) determines the presence of asbestos, you may be required to enter an AMP or to consider abatement.
After Abatement / Construction
Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) Testing
If you’ve had a Type 3 asbestos abatement operation (100+ square feet), the law requires you to get a consultant to do an indoor air quality (IAQ) test of the area.
Under the IAQ test, the consultant may lock the building down. They will then use leaf blowers, fans, and other things to try and force the asbestos out into the air. If the asbestos goes airborne, you’ll need to carry out the abatement program again.
Though you’re not required to carry out an IAQ test for Type 2 operations (10-100 square feet), we recommend it as a best practice.
Learn More About Finding, Removing, and Disposing Asbestos:
- 3 Phases of an Environmental Site Assessment
- Ontario’s Asbestos Removal & Disposal Regulations
- What are the Types of Asbestos Removal?
If you’ve found asbestos-containing material (ACM), or suspect friable asbestos exposure, then your first step should be to call an environmental consultant.
No matter what, you should avoid handling the asbestos yourself as doing so will put you at risk of inhaling it. You might also disturb the asbestos and cause it to spread to other areas. Instead, get a professional to handle the testing.
If you need an abatement project, then you must work with a professional environmental contractor, especially Type 2 and Type 3 abatement work in multi-family dwellings and commercial properties. A non-professional job will put you at risk of further contamination.
Work with FERRO to safely and quickly remove asbestos from your building, and restore its ability to attract tenants and buyers. Call us today.