Sawdust is Bad, Asbestos is Worse


If you are a homeowner in Windsor Park, chances are good your attic is full of sawdust.

Don't believe me? Before you go ahead and rip down those old wood soffits to find out, read on for my word of caution.

I have found home renovations to be an excellent way to learn about the inner workings of a home. As we embarked on our home renovations, we discovered quite a few things about our 1950's bungalow. Mainly, that the floors weren't level, the walls weren't straight, wallpaper was hidden under several coats of paint throughout the entire house (even inside closets), and our attic was insulated with sawdust.

Now, having an attic full of sawdust is not such a terrible thing. It could be much, much worse. Let me explain.

Like most young couples on a budget, we had decided to save money by doing home renovations ourselves and for the most part, everything went well. With practice and patience we mastered the art and science of stripping wallpaper, mudding and sanding, painting walls and ceilings, leveling a floor, and cutting and painting trim and baseboards. By spring, the interior of our home was looking pretty good but our eavestroughs needed to be replaced and with quotes from exterior renovation companies ranging from $2,000.00 - $6,000.00, we moved outside to tackle our next project.

A quick consultation with YouTube and The Home Depot staff told us all we needed know — or so we thought — about replacing eavestroughs, soffits, and fascia, and we set to work pulling down the old, rusty leaf-filled eavestroughs. Next we tore down the first of several plywood soffits to be removed, and that's when we knew we were in trouble. There was none of the pink insulation we had expected to see in the attic. Instead, it was packed with sawdust.

There was so much sawdust (18+ extra-large garbage bags full in the end) that it began spilling out of the attic, covering the ground and us. Shocked that our attic was "insulated" with nothing but sawdust and at a loss about what to do about it, we called Nisby Home Renovations. Wayne, a contractor from Nisby, came to our home to discuss our options.

"Just be thankful that it was sawdust in there and not asbestos" Wayne said. "A lot of houses in this area have sawdust, but many have asbestos for insulation."

Asbestos? A known carcinogen? I had heard of asbestos before but I had not thought for a minute that the stuff might be in the insulation in our home. I wanted to learn more.

A quick Google search pulls up various articles detailing the use of asbestos roof insulation in residential and commercial buildings throughout Canada and confirms what Wayne told us. While the use of asbestos building materials including insulation has decreased significantly in the recent decades, homes built in Canada before the 1980's that have not undergone extensive renovations are likely to still have insulation containing asbestos. Asbestos poses a low health risk when left alone but if disturbed, asbestos material releases hazardous fibres into the air that when inhaled can lead to lung cancer and other diseases.

So while seeing sawdust in our attic and all over our yard was a shock and a mess to clean up, in the end we are very thankful that asbestos was nowhere in sight.

If you suspect there might be asbestos present in your home, try to avoid disturbing the asbestos material and visit It's Your Health - Vermiculite Insulation Containing Asbestos for more information on asbestos and minimizing your risk of asbestos exposure.


  1. Ugh, I have asbestos in my attic. I am 100% sure. Scared to touch anything up there!

  2. Is there anyway you can contact me? I asked my landlord before I moved in if there was any mold in the home because I had a stroke from the home prior to this one and ended up giving my large home back to the bank because of builder defects. The landlord knew of my auto immune disease illness and how my health was prior to me moving in and the home just flooded the past few months. My son and I have been unable to live there. We have been staying with people until we can get our things moved out while I am still paying 900 a month for rent so I continue to have a good rental reference. Well last week I went home to start packing and found this sawdust all over the shelves in the cabinets where our dishes sit. 3 shelves were full of this stuff and i looked closer and there was mouse or rat urine and droppings all inside of it. I was so sick to my stomach when i realized that we had been eating off these dishes for who knows how long! My son and I have both been so sick the entire time we lived in this home. I'd like to know how to find out if theres asbestos in the attic? and how do we have the sawdust tested? I have called the county and im filing a code of violation complaint against them so no other family is made sick from this home. I really need help and guided on how or what to do next? I know were moving asap. The landlord was so rude to me when i told her i saw this stuff and she treats me so poorly like shes better than everyone else or something. She should be trying to help and be as nice as she possibly can so I don't sue her!!!! It's so disturbing. Now that we have flooded and we have severe mold exposures I have to dump just about everything we own again. my email is Please contact me if you can advise me what to do next or who and where i can send this stuff for testing? Sincerely, Carrie


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