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RBC First Home  Real Estate Professionals across Canada

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Real Estate Professionals across Canada

 

WorkSafeBC cracks down on home demos and renos over asbestos concerns

VANCOUVER — Work safety officials say they are stepping up enforcement of home renovations in B.C. over concerns about asbestos after a high number of contractors were caught trying to cut corners last year.

Starting this month, WorkSafeBC says prevention officers will be increasing inspections at residential demolition and renovation sites to ensure contractors are adhering to health and safety laws when identifying and removing asbestos.

WorkSafeBC conducted 210 site inspections last year and found 43 per cent of hazardous material surveys done by contractors were inadequate, the agency said Tuesday. WorkSafeBC officers wrote 257 orders for hazardous materials violations and imposed 20 penalties.

Al Johnson, vice-president of prevention services at WorkSafeBC, said he didn’t have a number for how many more inspections there would be, but said they will be adding officers dedicated to inspecting residential renovations and demolitions.

“We’re making this a priority and our focus,” he said. “Most of the activity will take place in the Lower Mainland, but it is also a provincial initiative.”

If there is asbestos in a building, it is required by provincial law that it be identified; however some contractors, in trying to compete for business, won’t identify all the areas that potentially have asbestos so they can put in a lower bid for the contract, Johnson said. He added that “although it’s hard to believe” some contractors have also claimed they didn’t know asbestos may have been in the building.

Buildings constructed before the late 1980s contained construction materials with asbestos such as insulation, floor tiles, cement pipes, drywall, linoleum and spray applied fire proofing.

“They are not doing complete surveys. They might identify one wall … but what about the other walls? What about the floor tile, duct material, taping compounds, installation? We need them to do a thorough risk assessment.”

Penalties vary depending on payroll, so larger companies pay more for infractions. They can range from $1,000 up to $30,000.

Johnson said 77 workers died in 2014 from asbestos-related diseases. “While asbestos does not pose a health risk when left undisturbed, preventable exposures can cause fatal lung diseases with symptoms developing many years later,” he said.

WorkSafeBC says hundreds of houses are demolished and renovated every month in B.C. with an increase over the summer months.

Five B.C. municipalities: Coquitlam, Vancouver, Saanich, Nanaimo and Port Coquitlam are working with WorkSafeBC and require those seeking demolition permits to provide results of an adequate hazardous material survey before issuing a permit.

Last month, Health Canada made changes to the way it describes the health risks associated with asbestos exposure. Chrysotile asbestos, mined in Canada and exported until the last operation in Quebec went bankrupt, used to be referred to on the department’s website as being less dangerous than other forms of the mineral.

But that section was removed in the last month, as was a reference to the risks associated with inhaling “significant quantities” of asbestos fibres.

The website now states “asbestos, if inhaled, can cause cancer and other diseases.”

The World Health Organization maintains all types of asbestos can cause lung cancer, mesothelioma, cancer of the larynx and ovary, and asbestosis.

BY TIFFANY CRAWFORD, VANCOUVER SUN JULY 14, 2015

ticrawford@vancouversun.com

With files from The Canadian Press

Ghosting In Your Home

Seeing Wall Shadows?

This is a different type of ghost that extends beyond the Halloween season. The “Ghosting” effect is also called Thermal Tracking which shows up as dark  stains on interior walls and ceiling surfaces. Warm, damp indoor air circulates within the home and touches cooler spots of the perimeter walls and condenses. Household air which is full of debris sticks to these damp surfaces leaving a stain over time. Stains show a silhouette of the wall framing either 16” or 24” off centre.

This effect is often prominent with defects in the building insulation and ventilation system. Settlement of wall insulation or inadequate installation creates voids, cold spots in the wall cavity. Inadequate ventilation can also develop when new installation of carpeting may restrict air flow under the interior doors ways. Higher than recommended humidity levels within the home can also contribute to Thermal Tracking. Beware that under the right conditions, home owners may even discover development of mold (fungi) in other areas of the living space.
At the end of the day: Track down and fix “Ghosting” Thermal Tracking by remediating air leakage, improve insulation where missing or inadequate and improve indoor air ventilation.

Babies exposed to mold more susceptible to asthma

Babies exposed to mold more susceptible to asthma

In the United States, one in 10 children suffers from asthma but the potential environmental factors contributing to the disease are not well known. Cincinnati-based researchers now report new evidence that exposure to three types of mold during infancy may have a direct link to asthma development during childhood.

These forms of mold — Aspergillus ochraceus, Aspergillus unguis andPenicillium variabile — are typically found growing in water-damaged homes, putting a spotlight on the importance of mold remediation for public health.

Lead author Tiina Reponen, PhD, and colleagues report these findings in the August 2012 issue of theJournal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, the official scientific publication of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.

In a long-term population study of nearly 300 infants,, researchers from the University of Cincinnati (UC), U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center assessed allergy development and the respiratory health of children annually for the first four years of life then again at age 7 — an early age for objective diagnosis of asthma in children. The team also monitored home allergens and mold. All infants enrolled in the study were born to at least one parent with allergies.

They found that 25 percent of children whose parents had allergies were asthmatic by age 7. Among the multiple indoor contaminants assessed, only mold exposure during infancy emerged as a risk factor for asthma at age 7.

“Previous scientific studies have linked mold to worsening asthma symptoms, but the relevant mold species and their concentrations were unknown, making it difficult for public health officials to develop tools to effectively address the underlying source of the problem,” explains Reponen, who is a professor in the UC College of Medicine’s environmental health department.

Mold – infants exposure to mould susceptible to asthma

The UC-based team used the environmental relative moldiness index (ERMI), a DNA-based mold level analysis tool, to determine that exposure to Aspergillus ochraceus, Aspergillus unguis and Penicillium variabile was linked to asthma development in the high-risk study population. The ERMI tool was developed by the EPA to combine analysis results of 36 different types of mold into one index that describes a home’s cumulative mold burden.

“This is strong evidence that indoor mold contributed to asthma development and this stresses the urgent need for remediating water damage in homes, particularly in lower income, urban areas where this is a common issue,” says Reponen. “Therapeutics for asthma may be more efficient if targeted toward specific mold species.”

Children included in this study were part of the Cincinnati Childhood Allergy and Air Pollution Study (CCAAPS), a long-term population-based study of more than 700 children from the Greater Cincinnati area. CCAAPS looked at the effects of environmental particles on childhood respiratory health and allergy development. Participants were identified during infancy as at high risk to develop allergies based on family medical history.

ScienceDaily (Aug. 2, 2012)

 

 

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BC Realtors want a list of former Grow-Ops

BC Realtors want a list of former Grow-Ops

BC Realtors want a list of former Grow-Ops

Real Estate professionals finding it challenging to provide due diligence to help home buyers. Process seems to have stalled.

SURREY – Wouldn’t you want to know if your home had formerly been a grow-op?  It’s information available in some Canadian cities with lists of houses used for drug operations.

For years, BC realtors have been trying to make a province-wide list and the remediation taken for each case, but the process seems to have stalled.

Kelvin Neufeld is the former president of the Fraser Valley Real Estate Board.  He says since 2006 he has been working on numerous drug task forces in the valley, as well as province-wide.

No matter how close they get to making a list of house drug history and remediation, privacy laws seem to get in the way.   “We would get to the point where we thought governments in the Fraser Valley would approve it. We would draft it all up and send it there and the lawyers would say, ‘Nope, you can’t do that, that’s in breach of the privacy act.'”

The Surrey realtor says there are two major problems with former grow-ops; one, is the condition of the home.

“Residential houses were never designed to be greenhouses.  They cannot take the moisture and then they are dumping pesticides and all the rest of the stuff in the yard.  This is a business.  It should be out on agricultural land.”

The other issue is proximity to crime.  “When was the bust?  Was it six months ago and I’m worried about moving my family in and the bad guys come and try to do a grow-rip because they don’t know that one has moved away?  That’s information that potential buyers should have,” explains Neufeld.

He adds BC does not have a standard for remediation following a grow-op.  Depending on the municipality, the steps to clean up a home are different.  He says that needs to be part of the assessment .     “Obviously, three marijuana plants in a garage does not ruin a house. But three hundred in the basement and four crops has absolutely trashed the house.”

But regardless how much realtors want it, Neufeld isn’t optimistic about getting a list here in BC.  “I don’t see any place [in this province] where that is going to happen.”

He says it will be up to the province to make it happen.  “There has to be a system where the province would back up all the municipalities where they could disclose any grow-ops where potential buyers can get the information they needs.”

Courtesy of News1130 – Erin Loxam  Feb 07, 2012