The city of Sarnia, Ontario has seen more than its share of grief when it comes to asbestos. A former foundry and insulation plant exposed workers to shocking levels of asbestos exposure – in some cases hundreds of times over the legal limit. It’s possibly the worst example of workplace asbestos exposure in Canada and those former workers are now paying the price with their health, suffering an inordinate number of cases of cancer and lung problems.

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The town of Grimsby in the Niagara peninsula is joining the growing list of municipalities who are undertaking a comprehensive review of their properties for the presence of asbestos. Last winter, the Pembroke Regional Hospital was fined $60K for failing to protect workers from asbestos exposure. The well-publicized case led the town to examine its own properties.

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Now that the flood waters are receding in Alberta, the massive clean-up has begun. In a situation like that, involving a large area and literally hundreds of homes, it’s clear that many homeowners are doing their own clean-up. That can be problematic when there’s potential for exposure to asbestos from the debris and now also mould from lingering dampness, particularly in basements.

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A landmark property in downtown Belleville, Ontario has suffered a string of bad luck that has ended in its demolition. The historic Hotel Quinte had fallen on hard times recently and was the subject of a bankruptcy proceeding – and a sharp drop in value. Its current owners paid $1.9 million, where it was valued at $7.9 million just five years ago.

Even before the sale, the bankruptcy receivers had to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars remediating the property. Alongside fire and electrical violations and a malfunctioning boiler – which has been known to cause fires – the work included fixing a leaking roof in the laundry room along with mould removal and asbestos remediation.

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The construction methods and tenets of decades past continue to haunt the present when it comes time for needed changes. Whether it concerns a private home, public or private institution, the presence of asbestos is adding an extra step to renovations and even simple building maintenance.

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The Toronto District Schoolboard (TDSB) is getting some flack after published reports indicate they were aware of the presence of asbestos in one of their properties and withheld that information from one of the tenants.

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