This past year, CPL condominium design interiors was contracted to complete a corridor refurbishment in the west end of Toronto. The assessment for this building identified ACMs (asbestos containing materials) throughout the building—specific to this project, the drywall compound on the walls. Asbestos was used in the drywall compound as a binding agent and to add some additional fire resistance. CPL determined that the removal of the existing wallcovering would disturb the drywall compound and potentially cause the asbestos to become airborne.
The assessment designated that this project would fall within the parameters of a Type 1 classification as outlined by the Occupational Health and Safety Act:
As a Type 1 classification, and as mandated by the Ministry of Labour, this abatement would require that all the trades people working on site who could be involved with the removal process would need to be properly trained and certified in the dangers and proper handling of ACMs. The training also involved the acquisition of and training in the use of appropriate respirators with filters and disposable Tyvek suits for any person who would be working within the designated space.
In addition, the training was used not only to certify the workers but also the supervisors and owners of CPL to ensure that everyone fully understood the proper handling of the ACMs and how to manage the project in a fully occupied building. This training now certifies CPL to handle a Type 1 & Type 2 asbestos abatement project.
During the removal process air makeup units, on a floor by floor basis, were shutdown. Residents were required to remain either in or out of their suite while work was being done on their floor. Each suite and fire exit was sealed off with plastic sheeting and the carpeting was also sealed with the same plastic. Each floor had the existing vinyl wallcovering removed within this sealed space by fully trained and outfitted trades. Amended water spray was used to eliminate the possibility of any drywall compound becoming airborne.
Once the vinyl wallcovering was removed, each piece was rolled up and placed in a designated hazardous waste disposal bag. Upon completion of the removal, the hazardous waste disposal bags were double bagged to ensure there would be no spilled contaminants. The plastic sheeting used to seal the doors and floor were wiped down using damp rags, removed and double bagged in the same hazardous waste disposal bags. Trades also removed their Tyvek coveralls on a daily basis and included them with the other hazardous materials for disposal. Even though the floors were fully covered with plastic, each day the carpet was vacuumed with a specialized HEPA filter vacuum. All hazardous waste disposal bags were then transported through the building in closed containers and deposited into a special enclosed bin located outside.
Throughout the entire process of removing the vinyl wallcovering from the nine floors of the building, an independent air monitoring firm took air sample tests to ensure that the safety practices employed were sufficient in eliminating all possibility of asbestos becoming airborne. Each test was accompanied by a report that indicated that CPL had not only met provincial standards for air quality but had exceeded them.
The owners, residents, board of directors, and management company expressed that they felt safe and secure in the knowledge that this project was carried out in a timely, professional and regulated manner.
If your building has asbestos and the Board is contemplating refurbishment, it is important to determine the level of abatement required. The bottom-line is if:
(a) asbestos is present in an area that requires work, and
(b) that work could disturb the ACM, then a properly trained trades person is required to perform the work and any waste must be disposed of in a regulated manner.
Specialized training and specialized project management means there will be additional costs incurred to complete a project like this. As long as those costs are identified and fully disclosed before the project starts, most owners can appreciate what is required to upgrade their building.