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Know before you reno: Plan ahead to protect your health

Asbestos may be lurking where you least expect it

Are you planning to spring into a DIY reno?

If your home was built or last renovated before 1990, you need to do a little research before you bring out the hammer and crowbar.

While some dangers are easy to see, others, like the asbestos found in thousands of old building products, are invisible but deadly.

Before 1990, asbestos – a mineral fibre resistant to fire, heat and electricity – was used in thousands of building products, including vinyl flooring, plaster, ceiling tiles and stucco. While asbestos creates little health risk when it’s left in place, disturbing asbestos during a demolition or renovation can lead to the inhalation of its fibres, a known cause of lung scarring and cancer.

“Exposure to asbestos and other hazards pose a real risk to families across the region who choose to take on home renovations themselves, explains Russ Smith, senior manager of the Capital Regional District’s Environmental Resource Management team.

Plan ahead

As a colourless, odourless substance, asbestos is hard to detect, so it’s important that homeowners identify the presence of asbestos and other hazardous materials in their home before they start any demolition work.

“To protect residents as well as our staff and visitors at Hartland Landfill, we suggest that homeowners hire qualified professionals to test for asbestos and remove it safely before they start their renovation project,” Smith advises.

Sort your waste

It’s important that do-it-yourself renovators learn how to properly dispose of this waste to avoid being turned away at either Hartland Landfill or private facilities.

Properly sorting your waste includes the proper packaging of asbestos-containing materials, in addition to separating recyclable items like metals, thermostats and clean drywall.

Get pre-approved

All renovation waste, regardless of whether it contains asbestos or other hazardous materials, must be pre-approved for disposal. To get pre-approved, you must complete an online application at crd.bc.ca/renowaste and provide asbestos-free test results.

Additonally, Hartland accepts properly packaged asbestos for disposal by appointment only.

For step-by-step guides, checklists, a list of qualified HAZMAT professionals and more, visit crd.bc.ca/renowaste

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