Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral woven into fibers that was used extensively in construction prior to around 1985. It was often used in attic insulation. If your home was built before that time, there is a decent chance you have some lurking in your attic. Ironically, most countries in the industrialized world banned it long ago, but Canada was a holdout until the last two mines were closed by the Provincial Government of Quebec in 2012.


It is if it’s disturbed! When disturbed, it produces microscopic fibers that are proven to cause cancer. If left alone it won’t pose any health risks. What does “asbestos” look like? Well, it all starts with these six fibrous mineral ores: chrysotile, amosite, crocidolite, tremolite-asbestos, actinolite-asbestos, & anthophyllite-asbestos.

If your roofer contractor informs you that you have asbestos in your attic, think of it as an opportune time to remove it. If you decide to remove it yourself, there are a few things to keep in mind:

1. Protect yourself. Wear disposable oversized coveralls, a respirator with a P3 filter, disposable goggles, preferably boots without laces and disposable gloves. When you have completed the removal, you should dispose of all of your protective items along with the  waste. Your boots and goggles of course can be cleaned, but if your boots have laces toss them as well.

2. Work smart by working in a well-ventilated area if possible. If at all possible, remove the asbestos intact or in large pieces. Remember disturbance is what leads to the creation of microscopic fibers. Consider this aspect when you are selecting tools as well. It is often helpful to spray down an area with water to keep the dust down.

3. Protect others by ensuring proper disposal. All asbestos waste must be double bagged and identified at the waste disposal site. Make sure you include your coveralls and all of the equipment you wore while cleaning in with the double bagged waste. Do not put your waste out with your regular garbage as you will be risking someone else’s health.

4. Take a long soapy shower when you return home to ensure you get rid of any lingering dust.

If the process outlined above seems daunting, there are professional asbestos removal companies that will come to your rescue. Ask your roofer for a referral.

Image courtesy of Asbestorama via Flickr – Creative Commons License

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