Sustainable housing and real estate in Kitchener-Waterloo Region

Preventing Asbestos Exposure and GREEN Alternatives for the Home
July 6, 2009, 9:48 pm
Filed under: Guest Posts | Tags: , , , ,

My friend Joe Lederman at the Mesothelioma Cancer Center sent me this article on asbestos and asked me to repost it here. Asbestos can be found in many older homes and should be treated with caution. Special measures must be taken in its removal and disposal and it should only be handled by trained and protected professionals.

“Preventing Asbestos Exposure and GREEN Alternatives for the Home

Located in East Central Canada, Ontario is a province known for being the nation’s capital, most populous city and beautiful natural landscapes. Many potential home buyers are flocking to this great area and it is easy to see why. The path to home ownership is a wonderful experience but one that should be approached cautiously and vigorously. Having the assistance from a reliable Waterloo, Ontario Real Estate agent can make this process simple and stress free.

Highly regarded for its fire, heat and versatile qualities, asbestos was used in construction applications throughout the 20th century. Often appearing as insulation, piping, roofing and flooring, homes and buildings could still contain asbestos materials if they were built prior to 1980.


This should not make you jump out of your seat because asbestos exposure is easily preventable by taking simple precautions. There are many environmentally friendly forms of insulation that not only are healthy green building alternatives to asbestos, but may even help reducing annual energy costs.


If you locate any suspected asbestos, most experts advise to leave it alone. If you are having home renovations, performed, do not panic. A home inspector can determine the best course of action. In most cases, the best action is no action in regards to asbestos.

Long and frequent exposure to airborne asbestos fibers may lead to the development of a rare lung ailment known as mesothelioma. Diagnosis of these forms of asbestos lung cancer has been a difficult task for mesothelioma doctors because mesothelioma symptoms are so similar to other, less serious conditions. Manufacturers of asbestos obtained medical evidence of its corrosive qualities but continued shipping the substance anyways, leaving workers and homeowners exposed on a frequent basis.

Healthy Tips

The Health Canada Organization offers assistance and information in the prevention, disposal and removal of asbestos. They are federally responsible for helping citizens maintain and improve health at home and the work place. The inspection and removal of toxic substances must be performed by licensed abatement contractors who are trained in handling dangerous materials. They work under state and federal regulations to ensure no health concerns arise from improper removal.

The French speaking Canadian province, Quebec, is the main producer of asbestos in the country and has countered attempts at blacklisting the substance. The asbestos industry has conducted false research and propaganda in continuing the exportation of the product. Asbestos was used hundreds of thousands of products throughout the world. With the consistent growth in technology and public awareness, there are currently a number of products which replace the need for asbestos.

Once the area is asbestos free, environmentally sustainable materials should be considered including cotton fiber, cellulose and lcynene, water based spray polyurethane foam that can reduce energy costs annually.  These green options have the same beneficial qualities as asbestos, minus the health deteriorating and toxic components.”


How to be “green” in your greenspace.
July 3, 2009, 8:55 am
Filed under: Rebecca Sargent, Sustainability | Tags: , , ,

The exterior of a home can be a real asset or a real liability when trying to resell a property. Keeping the lawn well-maintained and green is especially important at this time and sellers are often keen on dumping chemicals and pesticides to ensure their lawn looks healthy and green. But there are other ways to keep your lawn green while being more “green” yourself.

For a healthy lawn, you need to start with healthy soil. Lawns grow best in soil that is a mix of clay, silt and sand and that is not too thoroughly packed. If the ground is thoroughly packed, consider aeration, the process of puling out plugs of soil to create air spaces so that water and nutrients can penetrate to the grass roots. A garden fork can be used to systematically prick holes in a smaller yard. An aerator can be rented at most equipment rental shops to do the job for larger yards.

Periodically adding organic mater like compost, manure or grass clippings helps to replenish the natural nutrients into the soil and lessens the amount of fertilizers necessary. A mulching lawn mower can help add nitrogen back into your lawn naturally and easily without any extra work on your part.

Having your own compost pile can allow you to cheaply and effectively nourish your lawn by adding a thin layer of compost to the entire lawn once or twice a year. The pH of the soil should be between about 6.2 to 6.5 for optimal growth. Adding limestone (powder or peletized) to the soil at of around 50 lbs per 1,000 sq. feet or wood ash anytime the ground is not frozen will help to decrease the acidity of the soil.

Mow high, but mow often.  This enables a thicker and deeper root system to develop and will create more resistant grasses. Leaving the grass a little bit longer will also help curb weed growth.

Consider switching to an electric or manual reel lawnmower. Modern day reel mowers are much more light weight and easier to use then older varieties and they are much quieter than their gas-powered counterparts.

reelmower_1If you find you need to stick with your gas-powered machine; change the oil, clean the air filter, sharpen the blades  and remove debris from the air passages around the engine regularly to help keep it running most efficiently.

Curb weeds by removing them and spraying any leftover root systems with a vingear solution. The vinegar will kill the grass as well, so be careful where it is sprayed. Most dandelions can be managed early by mowing the plants before they go to seed (before they get the white whispy flowers early in the season). You can also try adding corn gluten meal to the entire lawn during seed germination in early spring. This is considered a “pre-emergent” solution since it prevents roots from forming during seed germination and will prevent any additional new growth from occurring.


There are many ways to avoid using harmful or toxic chemicals on your yard. Keeping good soil and performing regular maintenance will also help reduce the amount of watering necessary to keep a green lawn.  If you’d like more suggestions, please ask!