Why You Need a Designated Substances Survey Report

Whether you are planning to completely renovate your home or just do some smaller maintenance work, renovation is the perfect time to assess your home and land for potentially hazardous substances. This kind of assessment is considered necessary especially when old houses are in question, because they were often constructed with potentially harmful materials (e.g. asbestos).

What is a Designated Substances Report?

Designated substances report or designated substances survey (DSS) includes a series of tests that aim to determine whether there are any hazardous substances present on the tested property, and is performed by certified inspectors only. DSS is synonymous with Hazardous Building Material Assessment (HBMA). There are various toxic substances that can be found in the construction material which might pose a serious threat to occupants’ and workers’ health during construction, demolition and restoration activities (e.g. asbestos, lead, mercury). Exposure to high concentrations of these harmful substances may result in very serious illnesses and health issues. This is why DSS is mandatory before any construction or demolition project, as stipulated by the Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act. 

What does a DSS test for?

There are many substances widely used in construction or that can exist in a home or building’s foundation that contain chemicals which can be detrimental to human health. Hazardous substances that have been designated in Ontario include: 

  • lead (in paints, concrete, piping and mortar) 
  • asbestos (in construction materials)
  • benzene (building materials, furniture, heating)
  • acrylonitrile (piping)
  • isocyanates (coatings, foams, insulation materials)
  • coke oven emissions
  • arsenic (building materials like treated lumber)
  • mercury (pressure gauges, thermometers, electrical switches and relays)
  • ethylene-oxide (solvents, antifreeze, adhesives, polyurethane foam)
  • silica (various construction materials)
  • vinyl-chloride (various construction materials, piping)

PCBs (most commonly found in caulking materials) are also often included within the DSS, even though they aren’t designated in Ontario. Many companies also include testing for molds and ozone depleting substances (in heating and cooling appliances), considering that they also present a health hazard and are found quite often.

Benefits of a DSS

Designated Substance Survey helps to determine which of the aforementioned substances is present on the premises and to locate the cause. Findings are confirmed through independent, certified lab reports that satisfy all Ontario requirements. DSS can accurately determine how contaminated the space is, so adequate measures can be taken as soon as possible. This is the best way to prevent unwanted exposure and any potential negative effects these hazardous substances might have on workers’ and occupants’ health. Aside from determining whether the property is contaminated and circumventing negative effects of the above listed substances, DSS also helps to eliminate the potential for management liability and compensation.

A certified DSS report is crucial for all construction, demolition and restoration works, as it enables management to make informed decisions, increasing safety and efficiency of the entire process. Inch by Inch Inspections’ highly trained staff is qualified to perform DSS reports and uses advanced diagnostic equipment to ensure a high degree of report accuracy. Inch by Inch Inspections adheres to the inspection guidelines of InterNACHI, providing high-quality service in Toronto and the GTA. Schedule your inspection and DSS today by calling 1-888-445-0737, or by filling out our online form.

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