How to demolish a building while protecting yourself from asbestos
Asbestos is a mineral that was once found in a wide variety of building materials. However, decades later, asbestos has been linked to several respiratory problems.
Consequently, the demolition of a building that contains asbestos must always be done following a specific protocol.
In this article, learn more about asbestos and how to safely demolish a building containing asbestos.
Why do you need to protect yourself from asbestos during demolition work?
A house that contains asbestos does not automatically endanger its occupants. Health risks arise primarily when asbestos fibres become airborne. People who breathe in asbestos fibres are at risk of diseases such as asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma.
However, asbestos fibres can be released into the air during renovations or home demolitions that involve the handling of asbestos-containing materials.
What materials are likely to contain asbestos?
For many years, asbestos was an important component of products used in many industries, including construction. It was valued for its high heat resistance and insulating properties.
Here are some examples of materials that may contain asbestos:
- Asphalt roofing shingles
- Thermal insulation
- Ceiling tiles, their adhesives and suspended ceiling panels
- Fiber cement materials such as siding panels, soffit panels, pipes
- Gypsum board
- Joint compounds
- Bitumen roofing board
- Miscellaneous insulation (boiler, ventilation duct)
- Plaster, stucco, render and other decorative finishes
- Vinyl floor tiles on cement backing and their adhesives
- Vermiculite insulation
- And many other construction materials
As you can see, asbestos can be found almost anywhere. Consequently, you should know how to identify materials that may contain asbestos before thinking of renovating or building demolition. The same is true for post-disaster demolition.
Quebec legislation related to work that may emit asbestos dust
In order to ensure the health and physical safety of workers and the general public, Quebec legislation provides for the identification of asbestos-containing materials and the establishment of safe work procedures prior to any work likely to emit asbestos dust.
The following are examples of safety standards for asbestos management that may apply during demolition work:
- The employer must establish a register that identifies asbestos-containing flocking and thermal insulation in buildings constructed before February 15, 1990 and May 20, 1999, respectively.
- All other materials and products that may contain asbestos must be checked before any work is undertaken that may emit asbestos dust and this information must be included in the register.
- An update of the initial assessment must be performed every two years for asbestos-containing flocking and thermal insulation.
- Damaged materials containing asbestos must be repaired.
- The employer must keep the register up to date and retain it for as long as the building is under their control and must make it available to workers and their representatives working in the establishment.
Importance of decontamination before demolition
Before proceeding with the complete or partial demolition of a building, it is essential to involve decontamination specialists who will remove all traces of asbestos. A serious company will apply a strict protocol that complies with the most stringent industry standards.
The asbestos removal work begins with collecting samples of materials that may contain asbestos. Analysis will reveal the type and concentration of asbestos, which is essential information for implementing appropriate safety measures.
In most cases, sealed enclosures will be installed, as well as changing rooms and showers for workers who will be performing decontamination work. Workers will be required to wear personal protective equipment when venturing into the contaminated area.
Once the asbestos-containing materials have been removed, they will be placed in airtight bags and taken to an approved facility where hazardous materials are managed.
Trust Excavation Chanthier for the demolition of a building containing asbestos
In conclusion, the first step in demolishing a building while protecting yourself from asbestos is to conduct an inspection to identify materials that may contain asbestos. If the results confirm the presence of asbestos, it will then be necessary to proceed with asbestos removal before going ahead with the demolition work.
To make your life easier, you can also entrust your demolition work to our demolition company in Montreal. At Excavation Chanthier, we offer a turnkey approach that includes developing a precise demolition plan, removing hazardous materials and disposing of them.
Contact us to learn more about our services.