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Who’s Watching Who? Asbestos Removal and Demolition in Calgary

Overview: There are more and more older homes that are getting demolished in Calgary in favour of infill projects. However, it’s been brought to light that the city really has no direct jurisdiction over asbestos abatement. Read the following blog for more information.

It’s been well researched that asbestos fibres, commonly found in homes built until the late 1980s, are dangerous to human health when absorbed by the body. The fibres cause respiratory complications and depending on exposure levels can eventually lead to cancer. The long-term effects are not immediately felt since symptoms can lie dormant in the body. You would expect that as hazardous as asbestos is, it would be heavily regulated by the City of Calgary, especially since there are many older homes that contain the material. Unfortunately a city councilor recently revealed that asbestos abatement during demolitions is done so by the honour system.

The councilor stated that currently all that is needed is a signature that verifies that you have handled and disposed of asbestos properly. When it comes to this topic, the fact is that the City of Calgary doesn’t have any direct jurisdiction; it’s the province that needs to enforce the policies in place. There are rules in place by Occupational Health and Safety for employees that are involved in demolition sites that contain asbestos. And if asbestos fibres become exposed at any site, it’s the responsibility of Alberta Health Services to monitor and ensure that procedures are followed safely.

The question of jurisdiction and of who is in charge of regulating demolition sites that contain asbestos, surfaced after two particular demolition projects. Both demolitions were completed post-flood and both were in the same Calgary ward. In one case, the asbestos abatement was handled properly and followed all the rules set in place by Occupational Health and Safety. Unfortunately the second demolition site did not follow proper procedures. That home was just simply demolished with little to no abatement, potentially exposing asbestos fibres to people in the community and workers on the job site.

Bottom Line: Until there are more municipal building inspectors that have jurisdiction over asbestos abatement, homeowners and demolition companies need to be proactive about keeping people safe. Homeowners that are planning renovations or demolition of older properties need to hire asbestos removal contractors like 24/7 Restoration that follow and exceed the provincial expectations. 24/7 Restoration has highly trained staff that dispose of asbestos properly, preventing the dangerous fibres from being released and potentially harming anyone.

For more information on asbestos abatement or any size demolition project contact 24/7 Restoration in Calgary at (403) 247-4365.  

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