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11 Fast Facts about Asbestos for Real Estate Professionals

1. Asbestos includes a group of six naturally occurring fibrous minerals and Canada was one of the largest exporters of it. The last two production mines, both in Quebec, were shut down in 2011.

2. Asbestos was a very popular building material until the 1980s and commonly used for its insulating, strengthening, stabilizing, fire-resistant and heat-resistant properties. In fact, the word asbestos’ is Greek for inextinguishable or indestructible. [source (PDF)]

3. Asbestos poses a health risk when microscopic fibres are released into the air and they can remain airborne for a very long time. If inhaled, these fibres can permanently lodge themselves in lung and other bodily tissues, causing chronic health conditions that include cancer.

4. There is no known safe level of exposure to asbestos. The Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) as well as occupational health and safety legislation at the federal and provincial levels have declared asbestos a carcinogenic health hazard. [source (PDF)]

5. In residential or commercial properties, common places to look for asbestos include around the ductwork, heating vents, pipes and in vermiculite-based insulation. Asbestos may also be found in flooring, ceilings and ceiling tiles, drywall mud, and exterior shingles.

6. The safety or health risks of asbestos are generally limited to the extent that the material remains undisturbed and in good condition. Materials that are naturally more ‘friable’ (such as insulation) pose a greater or more urgent health risk.

7. Homes containing asbestos can be subject to higher insurance premiums and insurance policies do not typically cover the cost of asbestos removal for existing homeowners.

8. The standard Ontario Real Estate Association Agreement of Purchase and Sale form does not currently address asbestos specifically. However, special provisions can always be included to protect the buyer and compel the seller to thoroughly and safely address the presence of asbestos before the sale closing.

9. Qualified professionals, such as home inspectors, can perform a visual inspection and suggest that asbestos may be present; however, the only sure-fire way to confirm the presence of asbestos is to have the suspected materials tested by a qualified, accredited asbestos testing lab.

10. If done incorrectly, sampling of potential asbestos-containing materials can sometimes be more hazardous than leaving the material alone and undisturbed. It is always safest to hire a professional for asbestos testing than to consider performing DIY asbestos sampling.

11. To perform an asbestos test, the trained professional will take multiple samples of a similar surface (such as the ceiling) and send it to an accredited asbestos lab for testing. Testing results are available quickly and some companies even offer a rush service. You’ll receive a report from the testing lab documenting whether asbestos is or is not present in the materials tested.


If you suspect or have confirmed that asbestos is present in your home or building, we can help by providing professional asbestos testing or asbestos removal services in the Toronto or Greater Toronto Area.

We work with Toronto real estate investors, real estate agents, and commercial and residential building contractors every day to identify, assess, test and remediate or mitigate asbestos exposure in commercial or residential properties throughout the GTA.

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