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Demolishing Asbestos, A Look at Ageing Facilities


The damage the Calgary flood caused was enormous, besides making a mess in our beloved city, it dislodged materials that contain asbestos. It’s a reminder of how common the dangerous material was used in the past. Older facilities like many of Alberta’s hospitals to no surprise have building materials containing asbestos. With plans for demolition it doesn’t matter if you’re a homeowner or a business owner, it’s important to work safely with dangerous materials.

The Edmonton Journal recently reported a list of Alberta Hospitals and some of the maintenance problems that they currently have. One of those problems is the exposure of asbestos. Hospitals are extremely active in all areas, from nursing stations to loading docks and the operational needs are 24/7. It’s not surprising that the older the buildings have problems with asbestos. Other common issues currently in Alberta Hospitals include: Poor ventilation and a surprisingly high number of people getting stuck in elevators. The combination of asbestos in a poorly ventilated hospital that frequently has people stuck in between floors on an elevator is a dangerous cocktail. As hospitals in Alberta work to resolve their list of issues, people that are getting their homes renovated can use this as a reminder to determine if their properties have asbestos.

Asbestos was commonly used in buildings like hospitals in the 1970’s. A hospital in Windsor, Ontario recently was primed for demolition. According to the building’s original developers the old hospital did not contain any asbestos. The Ministry of Environment and Climate Change conducted their own research and found that the site did indeed contain the harmful material. The developer subsequently was fined for their actions. A developer might be trying to save their bottom line but it will be at the cost of workers that are going to demolish the site. It’s a safe bet that several homes and commercial sites that were built up until the late 80’s contain asbestos.

The reality is that lots of older buildings were built with materials containing asbestos and as those facilities begin to break down, harmful materials become exposed. Building new facilities like hospitals takes lots of time and money, but when the outdated ones are set for demolition, the safety of the workers on site is important. When materials containing asbestos are broken down, the fibers that are released into the air can cause respiratory complications. Lengthier exposure to asbestos can even lead to lung cancer and other diseases.

Bottom Line

In Calgary, the 2013 flood and the state of current older hospitals have brought the discussion of asbestos into the public forum. With home renovations and in suites becoming popular in the city, the discussion of asbestos is a great reminder to not take the disposal of this material haphazardly. The “Do it yourself” philosophy is a fun way to work on building furniture from IKEA, but working around asbestos…. probably not the best plan. It takes more than just a safety mask and overalls to safely rid a worksite of materials made with asbestos. It’s best to call professionals likethe contractors at 24/7 Restoration to safely demolish and clean up a work site. The Team at 24/7 Restoration has the qualifications, proper safety equipment and experience to safely remove asbestos from any project, no matter what size.

For more information on removing asbestos or any dangerous materials contact 24/7 Restoration in Calgary at (403) 247-4365.

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