Air quality is certainly a significant concern to all home owners, attempting to keep our homes free of ordure’s, harmful gasses, and friable ( air bourne) microscopic solids is a goal of every homeowner. While we do our best to manage the areas that we have control of, what about the materials that make up the home that we live in.
Unfortunately hind sight is always 20 /20 I do not imagine for a moment that any company would intentionally set out to create a building product that was knowingly detrimental to our well-being that being said each decade seems to turn out a new product or building material that “ we just discovered” may be bad for our health. Insulation products seem to always be on the top of the list. Most notable would be Urea Formaldehyde Foam Insulation (UFFI) and more recently Vermiculite insulation, specifically the Zonolite brand. When the news broke of the vermiculite that was an asbestos containing material (ACM)(not all brands are) it sent a sudden wave of panic through home owners who lived in homes that had been part of an insulation retrofit program in the mid seventies to early eighties referred to as the C.H.I.P.s (Canadian Home Insulation Program). Unfortunately just enough information was provided to leave everyone wondering? Wondering if because they have a vermiculite product in their home are they to assume that they will succumb to an asbestos related disease?
The answer, well no. Not according to Health Canada, C.M.H.C. the World Health Organization, and the US Environmental Protection Act. These Agencies are in place to provide a safe and secure environment for us within our dwellings and abroad and consistently they all make the same recommendation regarding any ACM
Do not disturb. When possible encapsulate. The ill effects from ACM is most often recognised with long-term exposure, life style choices such as smoking will accelerate any health implications brought on by extended exposure.
Equally important to understand is the fact that an attic space is for one thing, that is insulation. This space is not intended to be used as a point of storage or a place for additional rooms of any sort. The air barrier of the home is an important seal one such air barrier is your ceiling, while we do not want any heat loss equally we do not want any insulation dust whether it be vermiculite, fibreglass, rock wool( which is another type of fibreglass) or asbestos to fall through in to our habitable space. Light fixture, ceiling fans, and attic hatches all need to be securely shut and sealed with an acrylic latex caulking.
Perception of health concerns plays a big part in the making of sound decisions when it comes to dealing with ACM’s. When mandatory disclosure of an ACM with in a dwelling is required ( such as a Real Estate transaction) it is automatically assumed that it has to come out. What if the extraction process causes the once dormant and virtually harmless material to become friable? Great strides are taken to ensure that this does not happen by the professionals that make it their living to extract asbestos from within our homes and at a great cost. Typically your standard 1400 sq. Ft. Bungalow is going be in the neighbourhood of $10,000 and after that is done how can you be sure that there is no friable ACM? Our perception is that we just paid 10 K so it must be good. Right.?
How about we disclose that yes there is an ACM within the home whether it be attic insulations, boiler pipe insulation, ceiling tiles, floor tiles, plaster or any other number of asbestos containing material that we have used over the past 100 years in our home and instead of being reactionary and as quickly as possible removing it we take the advice of the authorities and encapsulate it and do not disturb it. No exuberant costs incurred and no heath concerns inflicted. Maybe we could call it common scene.
Mike Rahme is the Principle owner of HomePro Central Ontario and the President of HomePro Inspection Systems Inc. For more information please visit Mike’s website at: http://homepro-co.com/AboutHomePro.aspx