Patricia Foster was surprised, if not shocked, when she discovered asbestos in drywall plaster while renovating her Courtenay home to create a granny suite for her mother.
“I felt that it was a moral responsibility to find out all I could as opposed to exposing the contractor and his staff – which included my 22-year-old daughter — to the problem,” the registered nurse said at a presentation at Thursday’s meeting of the Comox Strathcona Waste Management (CSWM) board.
“I see this as an important health issue.”
It becomes an issue when drywall is removed and dust particles released. Before 1990, asbestos was largely used for insulating buildings and homes against cold weather and noise.
It was also used for fireproofing, according to the Government of Canada website. Inhaling asbestos fibres can cause cancer and other diseases.
However, there are virtually no health risks if materials containing asbestos are tightly bound in products, sealed behind walls and floorboards, isolated in an attic and left undisturbed.
Foster noted outdated, inaccurate information and other challenges concerning the management and disposal of asbestos-contaminated waste. She offered several recommendations for the regional district concerning its management and disposal:
•Provide poly bags at cost;
•Create an education/prevention awareness campaign for the public and contractors;
•Provide a fact sheet for asbestos removal and disposal, and update in a timely manner;
•Consider creating a temporary, covered storage site at the dump for bagged asbestos waste.
The CSWM board approved a staff recommendation to submit a request to the Nanaimo Regional District board to establish an agreement to accept asbestos and asbestos-containing materials from the CSWM service area at their landfill.
The agreement would extend to the end of 2017 with an option to renew for one year.
Such material is not accepted for disposal at waste management centres in the Comox Valley or Campbell River. Residents and commercial haulers with asbestos are directed to the Victoria Hartland landfill, the only facility where out-of-region material is being accepted.
The Nanaimo landfill is not accepting out-of-region material without a prior written agreement.