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I'm moving to a new building in Toronto, and received this letter:

In 2005, the Ontario government introduced a new regulation under the Occupational Health and Safety Act regulating the management of asbestos in construction projects and building and repair operations, Ontario Regulation 278/05 – Asbestos on Construction Projects and in Building and Repair Operations (“O. Reg. 278/05”). This regulation updated requirements with respect to asbestos-containing materials (ACM) in Ontario, including requirements for the responsible management of ACMs in buildings. On November 1, 2007, certain new requirements become applicable.

To ensure compliance with the requirements, [apartment building] retained a well-known environmental consulting firm ("Great West Life") to provide advice and conduct asbestos-containing materials (“ACM”) surveys. The purpose of the surveys are to identify any ACM and, if identified, manage it in accordance with O. Reg. 278/05.

ACMs were commonly used in building construction, particularly prior to 1986, because of the unique characteristics of asbestos, including strength, heat resistance and chemical resistance. We are advised by our environmental consulting firm that it is only ACMs that are in poor condition, “friable” (i.e. material that can be crumbled, pulverized or powdered), mishandled or mismanaged that represent a potential exposure risk. Accordingly, the aim of a formal identification and management program is to ensure that existing ACM that are left in place are not allowed to deteriorate or be handled in a way that will create that risk. This letter will service as notification that ACM may be present in your suite.

The property is inspected annually to determine if any ACM requires removal. If removal is required, qualified technicians are brought in to complete the removal. It is also important that you seek and obtain [apartment building]’s approval if you intend to undertake or arrange any maintenance or renovation work that may disturb materials such as floor tiles and plaster. We also require that you provide this information to any other person in possession of, or occupying any portion of your unit.

I don't know how strict the regulations are in Ontario, and they couldn't tell me where exactly and in what quantity the asbestos was present in the building. It's a building built in the 70's to my knowledge, and it's a high rise apartment (around 25 floors).

My question is, is this a cause for concern, or are the regulations/compliance in Ontario good enough that I can rest assured the asbestos is sealed and not a danger to health? Or is it just a legal cover, and there's still a risk present that it's not inspected or maintained properly (or it's common to ignore/violate this regulation in a place like Toronto)?

I'd really like to move into this place, but if there's more than 1% chance that there might be exposed asbestos in the unit, that is too high a risk to take in my opinion.

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Regulations concerning asbestos management in residential tenancies is set out in O. Reg 278/05, under the Occupational Health and Safety Act. As your apartment building is already aware of asbestos-containing materials, they are bound to the responsibilities listed under s. 8. In particular, they are required to give you a record of information pertaining to your apartment:

(3) If this subsection applies, the owner shall,

(a) prepare and keep on the premises a record containing the information set out in subsection (4);

(b) give any other person who is an occupier of the building written notice of any information in the record that relates to the area occupied by the person;

Your building should be aware of all asbestos-containing materials in your apartment, and they should be taking the necessary steps to safely contain the material as needed.

The fact that your apartment told you the apartment has asbestos shouldn't alarm you. Almost all older buildings used asbestos, and it's safe so long as it isn't disturbed. Your building is aware of asbestos, and it's not trying to cover it up or hide it from you. I wouldn't consider it alarming. If you have any reasonable concerns about asbestos exposure, you can contact Toronto Public Health.

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  • Thank you! Is there a way I could request the information as to where exactly in the unit the asbestos is contained from them? – yusif Jun 15 '18 at 20:01
  • @yusif I'm not aware of any formally recognized way - you'd simply go up to your building manager and ask for such a record pertaining to your apartment. They'd likely provide it to you. – Zizouz212 Jun 16 '18 at 17:06
  • I did ask - she just said she can't get that record. Not sure if incompetence, or plain laziness... – yusif Jun 19 '18 at 15:24

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