Asbestos is a name for a group of popular building materials that was used from 1950s to 1990s. Asbestos was often added to other materials to enhance the overall insulating, long-lasting, and heat resistance qualities. Common applications include spray fireproofing, mechanical insulation, linoleum, flooring tiles, drywall compound, vermiculite, and cement pipes. From past commercial fit-outs, asbestos-containing materials were present in black mastic on the concrete sub-floor and under carpet tiles. Asbestos becomes dangerous when it is friable, meaning that it can become airborne. Breathing air contained with asbestos dust will lead to fatal diseases including asbestosis, mesothelioma and cancer.
It is a provincial regulation (Ontario Regulation 278/05, Section 10(2) of Asbestos on Construction Projects) for the owner to conduct a Designated Substance Survey to determine if materials are likely to be handled or disturbed are asbestos-containing. Bulk sampling and air sampling are the typical methods to determine the presence of asbestos-containing materials. If asbestos is found to be present, a trained expert must be brought in to give proper instructions. The instructions should be included in the scope of work. The preferred solution is to eliminate asbestos through abatement methods. Encapsulation or coating of the asbestos material is considered a temporary solution. The treatment methods depends on the condition of the asbestos and its potential impacts.
Regulation 278/05 of Asbestos on Construction Projects have classified operations that may expose a worker to asbestos into three types, depending on the severity of the site condition. Type 3 operation is the most extensive out of the three. For more details on determining between different types of operations, please refer to the Ontario Regulation Website. Whenever a worker is in contact with asbestos, proper procedures must be followed to ensure no one is exposed. In most case, the work area will be enclosed with thick polyethylene sheeting and kept under negative pressure with a HEPA filter vacuum (an exhaust ventilation system to create inward flow) running 24/7 to clean the air and to ensure contaminated air do not escape the work site. Always involve an asbestos expert in prescribing the proper method of procedures on handling asbestos when it comes to your site.