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Designated Substance Survey

Designated Substance Survey
Designated Substance Survey

What is a DSS?

  • Designated substances and other potential hazardous materials must be identified prior to engaging in any renovation or demolition activities that may potentially disturb these dangerous materials.
  • In order to properly dispose of hazardous materials and mitigate unnecessary exposure to workers and building occupants the DSS is performed.
  • The current list of designated substances recognized under the Ontario Ministry of Labour regulations include the following substances:
    • Acrylonitrile
    • Arsenic
    • Asbestos
    • Benzene
    • Coke oven emissions
    • Ethylene oxide
    • Isocyanates
    • Lead
    • Mercury
    • Silica
    • Vinyl chloride
  • Commonly found in materials used for the construction of homes, commercial, and industrial buildings. The following designated substances are often identified in most buildings:
    • Asbestos –May be present in building materials;
    • Lead – May be present in paint coatings, solder, bell & spigot pipe fittings, etc.;
    • Mercury – May be present in electrical switches, relays, thermometers, pressure gauge's, etc.
    • Silica – May be present in stone, concrete, masonry, etc.

Why is a DSS important?

  • Without a DSS, and without proper precautions to protect workers, significant delays in construction and building renovation projects may result; which translates into losses in time and money.
  • The primary purpose of the Occupational Health and Safety Act [OHSA] regulations are to protect workers from any health or safety hazards when on the job.
  • OHSA requires “project management” to perform a formal assessment to determine whether there are any “designated substances” present on the worksite.
    • Asbestos Testing – The Law Requires It!
  • Main routes of exposure for designated substances include:
    • Skin contact (or mucosa)
    • Inhalation (affecting the lungs and respiratory tract)
    • Ingestion

Health Effects

  • Occupational diseases are disorders of health that result from conditions in the workplace, usually from exposure to physical, chemical and psychological hazards.
  • Work related diseases result from or are made worse by working conditions. The field of occupational health involves both the prevention and management of occupational diseases and improving general work conditions.
  • Adverse effects include:
    • Psychological disorders
    • Musculoskeletal injuries and diseases
    • Lung disease
    • Various types of Cancer
    • Traumatic injuries
    • Occupational cardiovascular disease
    • Reproductive disorders
    • Neurotoxic disorders
  • Chemical hazards can cause skin to be destroyed by strong acids, alkalis, high concentrations of formaldehyde, ammonia, chromic acid and others.
  • Some chemicals may cause damage through continued exposure over time; examples include detergents, carbon tetrachloride, kerosene, and turpentine.
  • Metals, such as beryllium, chromium, cobalt, copper, gold, silver and zinc can produce skin reactions.
  • Skin effects include:
    • irritant and allergic contact dermatitis
    • folliculitis,
    • oil acne (blocked hair follicles by dusts and grease)
    • neoplastic lesions in the form of skin cancers, papillomas, and keratoses
  • Canada saw 904 workplace deaths in 2016. On average, Canadians work 230 days per year, this means there were nearly four work-related deaths per working day in this country. (Reference: *Fatalities accepted in 2014-2016 according to “Number of Fatalities, by Jurisdiction 1993-2016” summary table, statistics from the Association of Workers’ Compensation Boards of Canada & “Five Deaths a day: Workplace Fatalities in Canada, 1993-2005.” Centre for the Study of Living Standards)
  • There is a wide range of occupational conditions from lung disease resulting in asthma, hypersensitivity pneumonitis, chronic reduction in lung function and lipid pneumonias, to increased risk of pancreas, larynx, rectum, skin, bladder, scrotum cancer.
  • The appearance of a cancer is dependent on the time elapsed and exposure, often manifesting over a course of 20+ years.


  • GEP will ensure that you comply with government regulations, provincially, federally and locally.
    Our Services Include:
    • Designated Substance Surveying
    • Hazard Control/Safe Work Programs
    • Building materials sampling, investigation and identification
    • Air Sampling
    • Tendering/Managing Contracts
    • Abatement Consultation
    • Expert Witness Services
    • Asbestos Testing – *The Law Requires It!
  • Asbestos is a Designated Substance under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (Ontario Regulation 278/05 – Designated Substance — Asbestos on Construction Projects and in Buildings and Repair Operations; January 2011)
  • Commercial property owners and residential complexes with 6 or more individual units along with any property owner planning renovations have certain responsibilities with the possibility of asbestos being on their properties.
  • New regulations may be found on the ministry website.
  • Contact GEP to schedule a free consultation to determine what type of contaminants are of concern and what type of testing you might need to achieve your goals.

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