An attic situated in the official house of the governor general of Canada is tainted with asbestos material. And, it is not the only location the dangerous substance could be found in that structure.
Tenders have been invited by the NCC (National Capital Commission) for removing the asbestos material from the 1867 wing of the attic of the Rideau Hall. Remedial measures will start in this January and they should be finished before April 2013.
NCC spokesperson Jean Wolff says the attic is not occupied and asbestos material found there is stable as well as contained, and therefore, does not pose any human health risk.
Asbestos is being removed for preparing for copper roofing works in the future because that job could disturb the material if present, according to Wolff. As asbestos poses a human health risk when it is airborne, it is essential to remove the substance prior to the beginning of the roofing works, Wolff says.
Wolf says the ongoing work is a part of a long-term program for removing designated materials such as asbestos. Asbestos will be removed from the 6 official residences under the NCC management, according to Wolff.
He says Governor General Mr. David Johnston knows very well regarding the remaining work. Wolff said Johnston will be there in the residence at the time of asbestos removal. “All the routine activities at the hall will be performed as scheduled,” Johnston said.
As most of the attic job will occur directly over the residential areas, NCC has kept the power to order a stoppage of the work when residences are being used and also to ask the contractor to stop completely or to work somewhere else.
The work would be subject to regular aggressive air monitoring at the site’s perimeter. A consultant will be given the right to close down a work when it seems a leak may possibly occur or has occurred already.
Attic insulation containing asbestos is very common in old homes because asbestos was cheap and has excellent insulation properties as well. But, it has some unfortunate side effects as well. The consequences of asbestos exposure could be as benign as minor skin irritation. It could also be as terminal as mesothelioma and lung cancer. Because of its known hazards, asbestos is a highly regulated material and it should be handled with maximum care.