Asbestos: Serious Issue? Read on and decide.
According to Health Canada asbestos was a popular material widely used in construction and many other industries.
Asbestos is the generic name for a variety of fibrous minerals found naturally in rock formations around the world. Because asbestos fibres are strong, durable and non-combustible, they were widely used by industry, mainly in construction and friction materials.
Common Areas For Asbestos In Buildings:
In the Home:
Construction materials that often contain asbestos include:
Sprayed-on Coating or Textured Coating
Backing Materials for Carpets
Insulation materials that may also contain asbestos include:
Fireproofing panels in fire doors
The TRUTH about Asbestos in Real Estate
The Ontario Real Estate Association Agreement of Purchase and Sale does not have any known warranties at the time of this writing with respect to asbestos. In other words, sellers of residential properties are supposed to disclose but may not be required to disclose the existence of asbestos in the home to potential buyers. If the buyer does not inform him/herself, then he/she is risking the purchase of a home that may contain asbestos. Many homes built prior to 1978 are likely (but not necessarily ) to contain asbestos in a large number of forms.
Buyers may want to test the home to be sure that the home they want to purchase does not contain asbestos. (or at least find it in an undisturbed and non friable state). In order to protect themself, a potential buyer should request a warranty from the seller that there is no asbestos in the home (although this is unlikely as most aren't even sure what forms it comes in to what it looks like.) This warranty could be ammended into the Agreement of Purchase and Sale. The buyer could also request that the sale of the home be conditional on a home inspection (we only recommend inspectors qualified to investigate asbestos and mold). While not all home inspections or inspectors will reveal asbestos (as it is sometimes hidden and destructive investigation is not part of the inspection process), a home inspector will usually try to identify any potential problem areas.
Asbestos is Discovered – What are the Options?
If the seller or home inspector discloses the existence of asbestos, the buyer still has options. The buyer could simply be aware that the asbestos is there and continue with the deal. However, the pipe insulation within the home that contains asbestos has a higher chance of finding its way into the air and ultimately into someone’s lungs because it is being blown around and disturbed within the ducting of the home. Asbestos is only harmful when inhaled. Materials in an unbroken or disturbed state are not harmful. If the intention is to renovate those areas then testing is a must in Ontario.
The buyer could request that the seller remove all material that contains asbestos. This should be done by professionals, who are appropriately trained in the safe-handling of asbestos. Because of the potential hazards involved, this option is usually quite expensive.
Finally, the buyer could terminate the agreement (provided that the Agreement of Purchase and Sale contained the appropriate or conditions ie home inspection/asbestos testing). This is an extreme remedy, but may be the most cost-effective and safest in some situations.
Asbestos causes severe health problems. However, it is important to be aware that the fact that asbestos exists in the home is not necessarily problematic. It is important for home-buyers to be informed and at minimum be made aware of the presence of any asbestos. (this is sometimes a difficult situation with the Real Estate Agents involved as they are rarely trained in the serious nature of asbestos and mold in a home). Home inspections are a good start, but there is no guarantee that a home inspection will reveal all asbestos in the home if you aren't using an inspector trained to identify the many types of asbestos that exist in its many forms. A home-buyer needs to assess the situation on a home by home basis, possibly with the help of asbestos testing professionals, in order to determine the level of risk. Be realistic, while ensuring a safe living environment. For more information on the health risks associated with asbestos, please talk to your doctor or the local Health Unit or visit the Health Canada Website
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