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Glossary of Terms

We try our best to avoid jargon when discussing our Restoration and HAZMAT processes, but sometimes it slips out. Here are some of the less-common terms we might use.

Contact us if you have further questions (or need clarification).

Abatement

The ending, reduction, or lessening of something. This term is often used to describe the process of dealing with hazardous materials, such as mold or asbestos. For example, removal is not the only means of asbestos abatement, which is why we do not refer to the process as “asbestos removal”. Instead, asbestos and asbestos-bearing materials may be “enclosed” or “encapsulated” to prevent exposure to the fibres.

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Air Quality

The state of the air around us; a measurement of the pollutants in the air; a description of healthiness and safety of the atmosphere. We use sophisticated equipment to both measure air quality and to clean it in order to remove pollutants and hazards.

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Asbestos

A heat-resistant fibrous silicate mineral that can be woven into fabrics, asbestos was often used in fire-resistant and insulating materials. Asbestos fibres are strong, durable, non-combustible, and were used extensively in building construction for many years. Unfortunately, we now know that airborne asbestos fibres have a direct correlation to various health risks when inhaled into the lungs, so caution must be taken when handling this material. Depending on how and where it was applied, asbestos may not pose any risk, but if it is disturbed, such as during a renovation project, precautions must be taken. The abatement of asbestos must be performed in a strictly controlled environment by educated technicians.

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Assess/Assessment

We use the term assessment to refer to the process of determining the scope of your emergency or restoration project in order to provide a detailed estimate of the procedures and costs involved.

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Authorization Form

An Authorization Form is a document that we require a property owner to sign before we can begin work on-site. Also required by the insurance companies, this form is an agreement that gives us official and legal permission to be performing our services on your property.

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Biohazard

Biohazard is short-hand for “biological hazard”, and refers to biological substances that, when present, pose a threat to the health of living organisms, primarily that of humans. This can include medical waste or samples of a microorganism, virus or toxin that can affect human health. The potential danger, risk, or harm from exposure to such an agent or condition depends on the specific biohazard.

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Clearance Air Sampling

Clearance air sampling refers to the process of testing the air quality within a high-risk containment area to determine if it is sufficiently free of asbestos fibres (or other contaminants) to allow the safe dismantling of the containment area.

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Containment

Containment refers to the action of keeping something harmful under control, or within acceptable limits. For example, we may use the term “containment” to refer to the isolation system designed to effectively contain asbestos fibres (or other hazardous materials) within a high-risk work area where such materials are handled, removed, encapsulated, or enclosed.

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Contaminate

Contamination happens when something is made impure due to the exposure to (or the addition of) a poisonous or polluting substance. For example, we may refer to drywall or other building materials that have been infested with mold spores as “contaminated”.

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Decontamination Facility

A decontamination facility is a series of rooms constructed so as to allow a person to enter and leave a high-risk area without spreading hazardous or waste materials beyond the controlled space.

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Dehumidifier

A dehumidifier is a device that removes excess moisture from the air. We use dehumidifiers very frequently when on restoration projects involving unwanted water, such as after a flood or a storm.

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Designated Work Area

Designated work areas are used to restrict access to high-risk areas, such as during asbestos abatement. Only authorized persons are allowed to enter a designated work area, and they are typically marked by warning signs and by barricades, enclosures or other means of isolation.

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DIY

DIY is an abbreviation for “Do-It-Yourself”.

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DKI

DKI is an abbreviation for Disaster Kleen-up International, North America’s largest disaster restoration contracting organization. ProPacific is a proud member of DKI – you can learn more about them on our Restoration Services page and on the DKI website.

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Downspout

Downspouts (also called rain leaders or rain pipes) are pipes that carry rainwater from a roof to a drain or to ground level. In order to function efficiently (and meet new construction codes), rain water collection systems must be separate from the perimeter drain system around your house or commercial building.

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Eaves

Eaves are the part of a roof that meets or overhangs the walls of a building so they can carry rain water away. The primary function of the eaves is to throw rain water off the walls and to prevent the ingress of water at the junction where the roof meets the wall. The eaves may also protect a pathway around the building from rain, prevent erosion of the structures’s footings, and to reduce splatter on the wall from rain as it hits the ground. Eaves are usually connected to eavestroughs (also called rain gutters), which are usually connected to downspouts.

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Encapsulation

During asbestos remediation projects, encapsulation refers to the process of sealing an asbestos-containing material or surface with a product that penetrates the material and binds the fibres together, mitigating the risk.

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Enclosure

When we are dealing with hazardous materials, the term enclosure refers to the process of keeping contaminants (such as asbestos fibres or mold spores) from spreading to adjacent occupied areas in a building. This goal is accomplished through physical barriers such as poly plastics, plywood, or metal sheeting.

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Evaporate

Evaporation refers to the process of converting or changing a liquid into a vapour, or gaseous state. For example, we employ evaporation to dry a variety of porous materials, such as lumber.

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Flocking

When we refer to flocking we are usually talking about heavily textured surfaces. The most common “flocked” surface you might encounter is a “popcorn” textured ceiling; the materials used to create these rough surfaces may include asbestos fibres.

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HAZMAT

HAZMAT is a short-hand for the term “HAZardous MATerial”. Sometimes called “dangerous goods”, HAZMAT in general refers to solids, liquids, or gases that can harm people, other living organisms, property, or the environment. Hazardous materials are often subject to chemical regulations.

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HEPA Filter

HEPA filter is an abbreviation for the term “high-efficiency particulate air filter”. HEPA filters are often used to improve and maintain air quality during asbestos abatement projects.

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Hoarding

Hoarding is a pattern of behaviour that is characterized by the excessive acquisition of and inability or unwillingness to discard large quantities of objects that cover the living areas of the home and cause significant distress or impairment. Hoarding may also be referred to as “pathological collecting” or, informally, “pack-ratting”.

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Humid

Humidity refers to the amount of water vapour in the air. In a structure such as a home or commercial building, high levels of humidity can result in a secondary problem of condensation forming in and around walls, which encourages the development of mold and mildew.

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Inert

If something is said to be inert, it means that it has no inherent power of action, motion, or resistance. We may use the term to refer to a material that contains a hazardous substance (such as asbestos) but where there is little or no risk.

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Infestation

An infestation refers to a harassing or troublesome invasion, and to the state of being invaded or overrun by pests or parasites. We often see insect or rodent infestations caused by unkempt living conditions, such as during a hoarding remediation project.

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Liability

The term liability can have many meanings, depending on the context that it is used. When we talk about liability, we are usually referring to a situation that someone is responsible for, or an action (or non-action) that increases the chance of risk occurring. For example, choosing to not follow WorkSafeBC protocols when removing asbestos from a workplace could result in putting employees at risk, causing a liability for the property owner. In this case, the property owner is liable – or responsible for – the health of the employees.

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Like Kind & Quality (LKQ)

LKQ is an abbreviation for “Like Kind & Quality”, a term that we use to refer to the process of replacing damaged, destroyed, or lost property with property of a similar type and condition.

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Mitigate

When we use the term mitigate, we are referring to the process of identifying potential risks and hazards at a job-site and then taking measures to lessen or limit further damages. For example, our team doesn’t only want to repair and restore a property with a mold infestation; we want to have a mitigation plan in effect to limit the chances of the mold returning.

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Mold

Mold (or mold spores) are growths of minute fungi commonly associated with decay or dampness. Molds are ubiquitous in nature – that is to say, mold is found everywhere (and especially in damp areas like Vancouver Island). Although a common component of household and workplace dust, when present in large quantities mold can present a health hazard to humans, potentially causing allergic reactions and respiratory problems. We follow a variety of practices to mitigate mold issues in buildings, the most important of which is to reduce moisture levels that can facilitate mold growth. Removal of affected materials after the source of moisture has been reduced and/or eliminated may also be necessary.

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Non-combustible

The term non-combustible refers to materials that will NOT ignite and burn when subjected to fire. Asbestos fibres, for example, are non-combustible – or fireproof – leading to widespread usage in a variety of building materials before those same fibres were linked to wide-spread health problems, including cancer and lung disease.

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Perimeter Drains

Perimeter Drains typically consist of trenches filled with gravel, containing a perforated pipe that redirects surface water and groundwater away from your home. A properly-functioning perimeter drain system prevents water from penetrating or damaging building foundations. Failed or inadequate perimeter drains can caused unwanted water or moisture build-up, which in turn may create an ideal breeding ground for mold spore growth.

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Permeate

When we are talking about permeation, we are referring to the ability of a liquid or vapour to “soak through” or “seep into” a second, porous material. For example, in the absence of a protective membrane, groundwater may permeate the minute holes in the concrete foundation of a building, potentially leading to the build-up of unwanted moisture and high levels of humidity (which in turn may lead to an abundance of harmful mold spores).

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Project Manager (PM)

Project Managers at ProPacific – who we commonly refer to as PMs – are professionals that take on the responsibility of the planning, execution, and closing of any project. When you work with ProPacific, you will be assigned a Project Manager who will oversee your entire project, providing a convenient and knowledgable point of contact during the course of your job. Additionally, your Project Manager is there to answer any questions that may come up while we are working at your job-site.

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Reinstate

Reinstatement refers to the act of restoring something to its previous state. For example, after a natural disaster such as a flood, we repair and restore your property in order to return it to its pre-disaster state.

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Remediate

To remediate something means to correct or improve a deficiency or problem. During a mold remediation project, for example, our team is trained to not only remove the mold spores, but also to correct – or remediate – the problem that allowed the mold to thrive in the first place.

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Rebuild

When we talk about rebuilding, we are referring to the point in a restoration or HAZMAT project where ProPacific and other sub-contractors are reinstating property back to its original state. Depending on the project, rebuilding may require carpenters, plumbers, electricians, and a variety of other specialized tradespersons.

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Refractory Cement

The word refractory, when used as a noun, refers to a material that is able to withstand high temperatures. Refractory cements are a type of cement used in the construction of heat-resistant concrete products, such as the bricks used to line a wood-burning stove or fireplace. Until the 1980s, asbestos was commonly used in the production of refractory cements, thanks to its non-combustible nature. As asbestos-containing refractory cements break down, small dust particles can become airborne; if this dust is inhaled into the lungs, serious health complications can arise.

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Restore

In our industry, the term restoration refers to the process of repairing or renovating a residential or commercial structure, so as to return it to its original condition after it has suffered some type of loss. Common causes of loss include floods, fires, or high winds. After any required emergency work is completed, the restoration process begins (this stage is also known as “restoration repair”).

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Toxicity

Simply put, toxicity is the degree to which a substance – referred to as a “toxicant” – can damage an organism, such as humans and animals. Examples of toxicants that we encounter include asbestos fibres and mold spores, both of which can cause serious health complications.

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VecLoader

VecLoader® is a brand-name of well-known, high-powered industrial vacuums. VecLoaders commonly used for the safe remediation of asbestos and other hazardous materials are fitted with HEPA filters, are completely self-contained, and feature negative-pressure air systems to negate the risk of exposure. Compared to the traditional “shovel and bag” method of removing asbestos, VecLoaders are efficient and safe, leading to reduced waste and shortened project timelines.

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Vermiculite

Vermiculite is a natural-occurring mineral used in a variety of building products, and most commonly in producing insulation. Some vermiculite insulation contains asbestos, which is now known to cause serious health complications if these tiny particles are inhaled. The most common brand-name of asbestos-containing vermiculite insulation is “Zonolite® Attic Insulation”, although other brands may also contain asbestos fibres. The most common supplier of asbestos-containing vermiculite came from a mine in Libby, Montana. While in operation from 1920’s until 1990, the Libby mine may have produced up to 80% of the world’s supply of vermiculite, which was unfortunately contaminated with a toxic form of naturally-occurring asbestos. Products made from vermiculite ore produced by the Libby Mine were not widely used after the mid-1980's and have not been on the market in Canada since 1990. Although not all vermiculite produced before 1990 contains asbestos fibres, it is reasonable to assume that if your building has older vermiculite-based insulation, it may contain asbestos. Further information can be found on the Health Canada website.

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Water Main

A water main is defined as “the principal supply pipe in an arrangement of pipes for distributing water”. That said, when we refer to a water main, we are usually referring to the underground pipe that connects your home or business to the city’s water supply, bringing drinkable water to your taps. As these lines are typically under a lot of pressure, when a water main is broken, a significant volume of water can build up very quickly, causing a flash-flood scenario. It is good practice to know the location of your water main shut-off valve so you are able to quickly stop the water flow in case of an emergency.

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WorkSafeBC

WorkSafeBC (the Workers’ Compensation Board) is an independent provincial statutory agency governed by a Board of Directors. It is funded by insurance premiums paid by registered employers and by investment returns. In administering the Workers Compensation Act, WorkSafeBC remains separate and distinct from government; however, it is accountable to the public through government in its role of protecting and maintaining the overall well-being of the workers’ compensation system. WorkSafeBC is committed to a safe and healthy workplace, and to providing return-to-work rehabilitation and legislated compensation benefits to workers injured as a result of their employment.

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