Quebec Looks to Revive Canadian Asbestos Exportation

The Quebec government has stunned international markets with the news – announced over Canada day weekend – that it was following through with a whopping $58 million loan to Balcorp Ltd., the company which wants to reopen the giant Jeffrey Mine in Quebec’s Eastern Townships.

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Prime Minister Steven Harper has stayed silent on the issue for political reasons. With the scientific community united in its opinion that there is no safe level of exposure to any kind of asbestos, even the Chrysotile Institute, which long lobbied for the “safe” extraction and use of chrysotile asbestos over other types, recently announced its disbanding.

Still, Balcorp. and the Quebec-based industry insist that the substance, also called white asbestos, can be mined and used safely in construction and other applications as an alternative to other types of asbestos, for example brown, blue or tremolite asbestos.

Since asbestos has been banned from virtually all uses in developed countries in Europe and North America, the material is destined for exportation to developing nations like India, Indonesia and Vietnam. The move is widely seen throughout the rest of Canada as a black eye for this country on the world stage and has been criticized by the Canadian Medical Association and the Canadian Cancer Association.

No level of exposure is considered safe, and ignorance is definitely not bliss where this dangerous material is concerned.

Could There Be Asbestos in Your Home?
Get expert help. The fact of the matter is that if your home was built before 1970, you have to assume that it contains asbestos, and it may appear in a wide variety of places.

Before any renovation projects, call in the experts from GreenStream Environmental Services for an asbestos inspection. At GreenStream Environmental Services, we offer professional vermiculite and asbestos remediation services to help you contain and then rid yourself of this problem.

Certainly, if you’re planning on buying an older home, it should be an essential part of your pre-purchase checklist.

In the Toronto area contact GreenStreamEnvironmental.ca at (416) 818-9414.

Featured in Mike Holmes’ magazine, HGTV’s Income Properties, W Network’s Love It Or List It and chosen by Homestars.com as “Best Toronto Asbestos Removal Company” based on customer ratings and reviews, GreenStream Environmental Services are fully-certified, trusted and insured professionals in the removal and disposal of commercial, industrial, institutional and residential asbestos, vermiculite and mould (hazardous and non-hazardous). Providing emergency service 24/7/365 for all of Toronto and the GTA (North York, Mississauga, Markham, Brampton, Scarborough, Ajax, Oshawa, and beyond) GreenStream has over 40 combined years of experience serving clients such as the City of Toronto, the Toronto District School Board and many more. For a free estimate in Toronto, North York, Mississauga, the GTA and Southern Ontario, call today at 416-818-9414.  You’ll be glad you did

Asbestos In Your Home

Asbestos was so widely incorporated in both residential and industrial construction at one time (largely from the 1930’s to 1970) that it was used in areas you may not be expecting.  Here’s a look at some of the lesser known places you might find it in an older home:

  • Wall sheeting, often used in areas like the kitchen, bathroom and laundry room – you’ll sometimes see this in the wall panels, often patterned and glazed, which were screwed into the walls around showers or baths, for example
  • Ceiling sheeting and lining
  • Bonded patching compounds, often used around windows
  • Textured paints, which may appear under the brand names Marblecoat, Pebblecoat or Suretex, among others
  • To compound the effect, textured paints were often used to cover other asbestos related materials, like insulation board
  • Asbestos felt, which was sometimes used as a backing of vinyl and linoleum sheet flooring, or under floor tiles in the bathroom
  • Insulation in heaters or stoves – if you’ve got an old stove kicking around the basement or garage, it’s best to get rid of it

The material is not considered hazardous as long as it’s intact. However, scratches, scrapes and any deterioration can result in the material becoming “friable”, meaning the asbestos can crumble and become airborne.  The danger to your health comes from inhaling asbestos fibres. Even where it’s intact and technically not a hazard, it represents a potential barrier to selling your home in an ever more environmentally conscious market.

Call the Asbestos Removal Experts
Be safe rather than sorry – if your home was built before the 1980`s, then assume that it may contain asbestos in a variety of locations and call in the experts from GreenStream Environmental Services for help before any renovations. Please DO NOT DISTURB OR HANDLE the material in question, or try to sweep/vacuum it away. There is no “safe” level of exposure.

At GreenStream Environmental Services, we offer certified asbestos removal services.  In the Toronto area contact GreenStreamEnvironmental.ca at (416) 818-9414.

Featured in Mike Holmes’ magazine, HGTV’s Income Properties, W Network’s Love It Or List It and chosen by Homestars.com as “Best Toronto Asbestos Removal Company” based on customer ratings and reviews, GreenStream Environmental Services are fully-certified, trusted and insured professionals in the removal and disposal of commercial, industrial, institutional and residential asbestos, vermiculite and mould (hazardous and non-hazardous) from homes, condominiums, apartment buildings and more.  Providing emergency service 24/7/365 for all of Toronto and the GTA (North York, Mississauga, Markham, Brampton, Scarborough, Ajax, Oshawa, and beyond) GreenStream has over 40 combined years of experience serving clients such as the City of Toronto, the Toronto District School Board and many more. For a free estimate in Toronto, the GTA and Southern Ontario, call today at 416-818-9414.  You’ll be glad you did.

Canadian Red Cross Exec Ignites Controversy with Asbestos Industry Links

Business and personal relationships with links to the asbestos industry may lead the Canadian Red Cross Society to ask for the resignation of one of its Executive Board Members. Board Member Roshi Chandha hit the headlines earlier this month when anti-asbestos activists questioned the propriety of her serving with an organization known for its humanitarian work around the world.

Balcorp Ltd.
At issue is the fact that Ms Chandha is the wife of Baljit Chandha, president of Montreal-based Balcorp Ltd. and the main push behind the bid to re-open the huge Jeffrey Asbestos Mine in Quebec. As part of the deal, Balcorp is looking for $58 million in loan guarantees from the Quebec government.

Roshi Chandha also serves as an executive of Seja Trade Ltd., a shipping company that exports asbestos to Asian countries. The company is a subsidiary of Balcorp.

The Canadian Red Cross does not normally look into the outside business interests of its board members, but has decided to meet and review Ms Chandha’s position early in the new year. The effort to bring her ties to the asbestos industry to light was spearheaded by anti-asbestos activist Leah Nielson, who grew up in Sarnia, Ontario and watched her father die of mesothelioma in 2008.  Her father worked in construction and brought home the asbestos fibres on his work clothes, and the deadly disease may also have affected her mother, who is currently under medical observation for a spot on her lung.

Asbestos Exposure
His example illustrates a lingering problem. Not only did construction workers of much of the 20th century expose themselves and their families to the deadly effects of asbestos, they left behind a wide variety of asbestos-tainted products routinely used in construction prior to 1970, including insulation, siding, ceiling and roof tiles and more.

Please note – if you suspect any kind of asbestos use in your home, and before any renovation projects, please DO NOT DISTURB OR HANDLE the material in question. The danger from asbestos comes from inhaling the fibres, and anything you can do to contain or avoid it until you can call in the experts from GreenStream Environmental Services will help to minimize the impact.

It is not considered dangerous if the material is still intact; however any future nicks or breaks in the surface can mean a potential hazard.

At GreenStream Environmental Services, we offer professional vermiculite and asbestos remediation services. In the Toronto area  at (416) 818-9414.

Featured in Mike Holmes’ magazine, HGTV’s Income Properties, W Network’s Love It Or List It and chosen by Homestars.com as “Best Toronto Asbestos Removal Company” based on customer ratings and reviews, GreenStream Environmental Services are fully-certified, trusted and insured professionals in the removal and disposal of commercial, industrial, institutional and residential asbestos, vermiculite and mould (hazardous and non-hazardous). Providing emergency service 24/7/365 for all of Toronto and the GTA including North York, Mississauga, Markham, Brampton, Scarborough, Ajax, Oshawa, and beyond, GreenStream has over 40 combined years of experience serving clients such as the City of Toronto, the Toronto District School Board and many more. For a free estimate in Toronto, the GTA and Southern Ontario, call today at 416-818-9414.  You’ll be glad you did.

Asbestos, Vermiculite and Christmas Ornaments

Christmas is the time when people thrive on continuing family traditions. From Mom’s incredible gravy method to the star on the tree that’s been handed down for three generations, it’s a time to include the past in today’s celebrations. When it comes to those Christmas ornaments, however, there are a couple of things you should consider.

What’s in the Attic?

If yours is an older home, you may just be storing your seasonal ornaments in the attic. That can be a problem if your home was insulated with vermiculite. Vermiculite is a natural mineral that was used for home insulation for most of the 20th century. The majority of the vermiculite used in insulation in North America comes from a Montana site that was heavily mined from the 1920’s until the 1990’s. By itself, vermiculite isn’t a known health risk; the problem is that the Montana site was contaminated with asbestos.

Even if other types of insulation were used in your home, it may also contain vermiculite, which was commonly marketed as a do-it-yourself project. Many homeowners went into the attic themselves to pour it down into the walls in order to bolster the effect of existing foam or other insulation.

Whatever you’re storing in an attic with vermiculite insulation could be covered in asbestos dust. It’s a particular concern when it comes to Christmas ornaments in that children are often the ones to handle and play with them, and children are also the most vulnerable to the health effects that come from asbestos exposure.

Artificial Snow

A lesser risk comes from very old Christmas balls, wreaths and other ornaments with fake snow. It may seem shocking today, but asbestos flakes were often used as decorative artificial snow and many early 20th century ornaments include that substance. Even now, after decades, they may contain small amounts of asbestos.

They may have sentimental value, but you’re probably better off setting aside older Christmas ornaments in favour of newer and safer materials.

Did you know?

There’s a scene in the classic film The Wizard of Oz where Judy Garland as Dorothy, along with Toto and her other traveling companions are put to sleep by a spell cast by the Wicked Witch of the West. They’re awakened by a snowfall – and in the film that snowfall was made up entirely of flakes of white asbestos that covered the whole cast and set.

Vermiculite Insulation:

Vermiculite insulation, which was most often sold under the name ‘Zonolite® Attic Insulation’, is brown or greyish and pebbly in texture. If you see it in your attic or elsewhere in your home, and before any renovation projects, please DO NOT disturb it. The danger from asbestos comes from inhaling the fibres, and anything you can do to contain or avoid it until you can call in the experts from GreenStream Environmental Services will help to minimize the impact.

At GreenStream Environmental Services, we offer professional vermiculite and asbestos remediation services to help you contain and then rid yourself of this problem.

In the Toronto area contact GreenStreamEnvironmental.ca at (416) 818-9414.

Featured in Mike Holmes’ magazine, HGTV’s Income Properties, W Network’s Love It Or List It and chosen by Homestars.com as “Best Toronto Asbestos Removal Company” based on customer ratings and reviews, GreenStream Environmental Services are fully-certified, trusted and insured professionals in the removal and disposal of commercial, industrial, institutional and residential asbestos, vermiculite and mould (hazardous and non-hazardous). Providing emergency service 24/7/365 for all of Toronto and the GTA (North York, Mississauga, Markham, Brampton, Scarborough, Ajax, Oshawa, and beyond) GreenStream has over 40 combined years of experience serving clients such as the City of Toronto, the Toronto District School Board and many more. For a free estimate in Toronto, the GTA and Southern Ontario, call today at 416-818-9414.  You’ll be glad you did.

Asbestos Tile Removal Closes Toronto Fire Station

The recent closure of Fire Station 244 on Birchmount  Avenue north of Sheppard in Toronto caused understandable consternation among area residents. Even when Toronto Fire Services officials explained that the displaced personnel and equipment would be temporarily housed nearby and despite their assurances, the area’s residents worried about increased response times. Time will tell if the move has any such impact.

As the Fire Station’s neighbours found out, the closure comes in the wake of much needed renovations to the building, including the  removal of asbestos floor tiles. At one time – long before the health-related effects of asbestos were known or understood – the use of asbestos floor tiles seemed like a no-brainer. The material was known to be fire resistant and nearly indestructible and was considered a material of choice even, as it turns out with some irony, in a fire station. Flash forward to the present and that means a lot of hidden dangers that could exist in any residential, public or commercial building, particularly those constructed before 1970.

The closure of the Fire Station is anticipated to last about six weeks, and is just the latest example of what’s become an all too familiar story – a public institution closed for removal of asbestos-related construction materials. It’s unlikely to be the last.

You may be particularly concerned about floor tiles containing asbestos in your own home if there is any flooring that was installed before 1970. In the 1960’s, asbestos floor tiles were extremely common in both residential and institutional settings.  In an older home, many people first discover the existence of asbestos tiles when doing renovations.  When removing relatively new flooring, it’s not uncommon to find layers of old flooring underneath.

If you suspect any kind of asbestos use in your home, and before any renovation projects, please DO NOT DISTURB OR HANDLE the material in question. The danger from asbestos comes from inhaling the fibres, and anything you can do to contain or avoid it until you can call in the experts from GreenStream Environmental Services will help to minimize the impact.

It is not considered dangerous if the tile or other material is still intact; however any future nicks or breaks in the surface can mean a potential hazard.

At GreenStream Environmental Services, we offer professional vermiculite and asbestos remediation services.

In the Toronto area contact GreenStreamEnvironmental.ca – Toronto’s asbestos removal specialists – at (416) 818-9414.

Featured in Mike Holmes’ magazine, HGTV’s Income Properties, W Network’s Love It Or List It and chosen by Homestars.com as “Best Toronto Asbestos Removal Company” based on customer ratings and reviews, GreenStream Environmental Services are fully-certified, trusted and insured professionals in the removal and disposal of commercial, industrial, institutional and residential asbestos, vermiculite and mould (hazardous and non-hazardous). Providing emergency service 24/7/365 for all of Toronto and the GTA (North York, Mississauga, Markham, Brampton, Scarborough, Ajax, Oshawa, and beyond) GreenStream has over 40 combined years of experience serving clients such as the City of Toronto, the Toronto District School Board and many more. For a free estimate in Toronto, the GTA and Southern Ontario, call today at 416-818-9414.  You’ll be glad you did.

Canadian Asbestos Production in the News

Canadian asbestos production and exportation continues to grab the headlines in two recent stories.

While the Conservative government’s official line is solidly behind the Quebec-based asbestos industry, it seems that at least some individual Conservative MPs aren’t entirely sure of that position.

A group of Conservative MPs recently asked industry experts to meet with them on Parliament Hill to discuss the issue. Representatives of the Chrysotile Institute and industry scientists attended a private meeting with them that lasted several hours. It remains to be seen whether this will affect their or the government’s stance on this controversial subject.

At one time, the Canadian asbestos industry ranked first in the world, supplying about 85% of the world’s production in the early parts of the last century. The fireproof and nearly indestructible qualities of asbestos made it seem ideal for construction, and it became a much valued commodity worldwide until the early 1970’s, when its danger to human health became more and more evident.

Times have changed drastically over the last four decades. In November 2011, Canadian asbestos production fell to a complete halt for the first time in 130 years. As this blog reported recently, investors in the monster Jeffrey Mine are waiting on Quebec government approval for loan guarantees in order to re-open. It’s reported that operational issues are behind the closure of the only other operational asbestos mine, the Lac d’amiante du Canada site in Thetford Mines.

As these temporary issues get sorted out, activists on both sides of the asbestos exportation issue continue to lobby for support.

Asbestos may exist in your home in a variety of places both indoors and out, particularly if it was constructed before 1970. Those places include siding, insulation, floor and ceiling tiles and so-called “popcorn” ceiling treatments, among others.

If you suspect any kind of asbestos use in your home, and before any renovation projects, please DO NOT DISTURB OR HANDLE the material in question. The danger from asbestos comes from inhaling the fibres, and anything you can do to contain or avoid it until you can call in the experts from GreenStream Environmental Services will help to minimize the impact. It is not considered dangerous if the tile or other material is still intact.

At GreenStream Environmental Services, we offer professional vermiculite and asbestos remediation services and fast quotes to help get peace of mind as quickly as possible.  In the Toronto area contact GreenStreamEnvironmental.ca – Toronto’s asbestos removal specialists – at (416) 818-9414.

Members of the Toronto Construction Association, featured in Mike Holmes’ magazine, HGTV’s Income Properties, W Network’s Love It Or List It and chosen by Homestars.com as “Best Toronto Asbestos Removal Company” based on customer ratings and reviews, GreenStream Environmental Services are fully-certified, trusted and insured professionals in the removal and disposal of commercial, industrial, institutional and residential asbestos, vermiculite, mould (hazardous and non-hazardous). Providing emergency service 24/7/365 for all of Toronto and the GTA (North York, Mississauga, Brampton, Oakville, Markham and Ontario), GreenStream has over 40 combined years of experience serving clients such as the City of Toronto, the Toronto District School Board and many more. For a free estimate in Toronto, the GTA and Southern Ontario, call today at 416-818-9414.

GreenStream Environmental Asbestos Services Save the Day on Love It Or List It

Greenstream Environmental was in the media spotlight on Love It Or List It, a popular program on the W Network. On the recent episode, an older home was undergoing demolition procedures during a renovation, and asbestos was discovered in the plaster walls.

The owners did what so many others have done – they called GreenStream Environmental Inc. for asbestos abatement and removal services.

The homeowners on Love It Or List It certainly aren’t alone. Asbestos was a widely used construction material for most of the 20th century and shows up in a variety of residential and commercial applications, including decorative plasterwork, so-called “popcorn” or textured ceilings, acoustic ceiling tiles and outside too in siding and roofing shingles. With its fire resistant and very durable properties, asbestos was considered a kind of “miracle” construction material. Any home built before the early 1970’s may contain asbestos in the building materials.

By the 1960’s the first generation of asbestos workers had begun to show the symptoms of lung disease, and a link was found between the inhaling of asbestos fibres and a form of lung cancer. While the hazards of asbestos may be minimized in something like interior plaster as long as it’s maintained in an entirely intact state, once the walls come down and dust is released into the air, as it was during this renovation, the threat of inhalation is very real.

Today, stringent laws in the province of Ontario dictate asbestos removal and abatement prior to any home or commercial renovation project, and that’s where we come in at GreenStream Environmental Inc. The Love It Or List It appearance wasn’t our first time in the spotlight – we’ve been featured on HGTV’s Income Properties and in Mike Holmes’ magazine – and while we appreciate the exposure, we care just as much about your asbestos or other environmental issues like mould. We’ve serviced over 500 clients with over 40 years combined experience, using proven and environmentally friendly methods.

If you suspect the presence of asbestos in your home, and before any renovation projects, let GreenStream Environmental Inc. be your choice for asbestos and mould remediation in the Toronto area – contact GreenStreamEnvironmental.ca – Toronto’s asbestos removal specialists – at (416) 818-9414.

Featured in Mike Holmes’ magazine, HGTV’s Income Properties, W Network’s Love It Or List It and chosen by Homestars.com as “Best Toronto Asbestos Removal Company” based on customer ratings and reviews, GreenStream Environmental Services are fully-certified, trusted and insured professionals in the removal and disposal of commercial, industrial, institutional and residential asbestos, vermiculite, mould (hazardous and non-hazardous). Providing emergency service 24/7/365 for all of Toronto and the GTA, GreenStream has over 40 combined years of experience serving clients such as the City of Toronto, the Toronto District School Board and many more. For a free estimate in Toronto, the GTA and Southern Ontario, call today at 416-818-9414.

Popcorn Ceilings – the Hidden Asbestos Hazard

Yesterday’s fads are quaint at best – dangerous at their worst. At one time, the so-called “popcorn ceiling” was everywhere.

Anyone over the age of 30 no doubt remembers those textured, stubbly ceiling treatments that were touted at the time as being easy to clean and maintain. It was a spray on treatment that was quick, easy and cheaper than paint, and could be used to mask imperfections and stains in older houses, and even poor quality workmanship in new buildings, probably all reasons that contributed to the popularity of popcorn ceilings during the latter half of the 20th century. Popcorn ceilings were also thought to have noise reduction qualities, and were often called “acoustic ceilings” as well.

On top of proving hard to clean and nearly impossible to fix up or repair in the event of any damage, (in contrast with the original claims!) and giving a room a very dated look, popcorn ceilings also often contain a hidden hazard. Do you know what was commonly used to create that stippled texture until its use was banned? Asbestos!

That’s right. From the late 1950’s until residential asbestos treatments were banned in the late 1970’s, asbestos was very commonly used in creating that unattractive “textured” look that you can find everywhere in homes from hallways to bedrooms and living rooms. If your home was built or renovated during that period and you have a popcorn ceiling, it almost certainly contains asbestos.

The first step towards ridding yourself of the eyesore and potential health hazard is to have the ceiling material tested for asbestos contamination . If asbestos is present, the next step is having the popcorn ceiling removed by certified experts. This is definitely not a “do-it-yourself” weekend job for handy homeowners. Once disturbed and broken apart, you can expose yourself to direct contact with dangerous asbestos. At GreenStream Envrionmental, our expert technicians are trained specifically in the safe and sound removal of popcorn ceiling, along with other types asbestos removal abatement and disposal.

Once the experts have done their job, you’ll be free to redecorate in a safe and friendly environment.

Should you suspect the presence of popcorn ceiling asbestos in your home or business, Contact GreenStreamEnvironmental.ca – Toronto’s asbestos removal specialists – at (416) 818-9414.

Featured in Mike Holmes’ magazine, HGTV’s Income Properties, W Network’s Love It Or List It and chosen by Homestars.com as “Best Toronto Asbestos Removal Company” based on customer ratings and reviews, GreenStream Environmental Services are fully-certified, trusted and insured professionals in the removal and disposal of commercial, industrial, institutional and residential asbestos, vermiculite, mould (hazardous and non-hazardous). Providing emergency service 24/7/365 for all of Toronto and the GTA, GreenStream has over 40 combined years of experience serving clients such as the City of Toronto, the Toronto District School Board and many more. For a free estimate in Toronto, the GTA and Southern Ontario, call today at 416-818-9414.

Attack of the VATs: Removing vinyl asbestos tiles

When we think of the dangers asbestos poses, we often associate the tiny, carcinogenic fibres with easily visible structures, like roofing, ceilings, wall insulation and so on. One major asbestos threat often gets forgotten simply because it’s under our feet and not the first place we look. I’m talking about vinyl asbestos titles, or VATs.

Vinyl asbestos tiles are particularly dangerous because they’re easily mishandled. If the threat they pose isn’t respected during asbestos removal, they can release deadly fibres into the air.

The key with handling VATs is understanding their friability, or how easily they’re crumbled or broken into powder. If a given tile is non-friable – solid and not easily broken or crumbled – it’s far less dangerous, as VATs cause the most trouble when crumbled into dust. Friable VATs, be they poorly constructed or just old, are quite dangerous. One reason to have a trained asbestos removal company dispose of VATs for you is that the experts have a better idea of which tiles are friable and which aren’t.

Removing VATs is thus highly focused on keeping the tiles as non-friable as possible. Asbestos removal workers must assume every tile is a threat and treat it delicately. That means drills, saws, hammers or any equipment used to pulverize are absolute no-nos. It’s almost like we have to treat VATs like priceless glass.

One we have control of vinyl asbestos tiles, we follow a special procedure to transport them out of a given building. That may include wrapping them in plastic to ensure no loose fibres escape and taking them to EPA-approved landfill facilities where they are buried in a safe place.

As you can probably guess by now, VATs are not child’s play. Homeowners should not handle them at all. In fact, some regions prohibit homeowners from handling vinyl asbestos tiles without professional help.

As long as you respect VATs as the dangerous things they are and understand their delicacy and the expertise required to remove them, you’ll be safe.

Featured in Mike Holmes’ magazine, HGTV’s Income Properties, W Network’s Love It Or List It and chosen by Homestars.com as “Best Toronto Asbestos Removal Company” based on customer ratings and reviews, GreenStream Environmental Services are fully-certified, trusted and insured professionals in the removal and disposal of commercial, industrial, institutional and residential asbestos, vermiculite and mould (hazardous and non-hazardous). Providing emergency service 24/7/365 for all of Toronto and the GTA, GreenStream has over 40 combined years of experience serving clients such as the City of Toronto, the Toronto District School Board and many more. For a free estimate in Toronto, the GTA and Southern Ontario, call today at 416-818-9414.