Steps to take when you suspect asbestos in your roofing or building.
There was a time when asbestos was widely accepted as a construction material. It was used in thousands of products in Australia including drains, roofs, pipes, and gutters, among many others. It was also used for insulation, fireproofing, and sound-proofing of commercial and industrial structures. If your house was built before 1990, chances are, it contains asbestos.
Asbestos was popular because of its insulation properties, heat resistance, thermal efficiency, strength, malleability, and durability. Asbestos was one of the most widely used materials in manufacturing and construction. It wasn’t until the 1970s that people started to become aware of the negative health effects of asbestos. However, it wasn’t until December 2003 when Australia banned the use, import, reuse, and selling of asbestos materials.
The ban, however, does not apply to already existing homes and structures with asbestos. The widespread use of asbestos before its ban left the country with many legacy structures that still contain asbestos.
The following are the most common parts of residential properties that contain asbestos.
- Interior Wall Cladding
- Thermal Boards
- Roofing Shingles
- Corrugated Asbestos Roof Sheets
Types of Asbestos
Two types of asbestos were commonly used in residential homes. They are the bonded or non-friable asbestos and the loosely-bounded or friable asbestos.
Non-friable asbestos is the most commonly used asbestos in residential structures. Non-friable asbestos is more manageable than its loosely-bound counterpart. However, it becomes difficult to handle when the firmly-bound materials start to degrade and unravel.
Loosely-bound asbestos was more commonly used in commercial and industrial buildings that needed sound-proofing, fireproofing, and insulation. However, some homes used this type of asbestos in their old heaters, hot water systems, and in their vinyl floorings. Friable asbestos is made up of 100% asbestos and is easily turned into dust even with minimal pressure applied.
How to look for asbestos in your home
The most common locations where you can find asbestos are the bathroom, toilet, living areas, kitchen, and the backyard. Corrugated roof sheeting, chimney flues, and the lining under your eaves may also contain asbestos. This is all the more likely if your home was built during the 1980s or before.
Why was asbestos used in roofing materials?
Roofing materials used asbestos because of its many benefits. Some of them are:
- Asbestos is lightweight and provided a solution to the structural issues brought about by heavy roof loads.
- Asbestos increased the durability and lifespan of roofing materials.
- Asbestos does not rust, is heat resistant, and does not conduct electricity.
- Asbestos was cheap.
At that time, the use of asbestos made sense, and it was touted as the best roofing material. Asbestos was also incorporated into other roofing materials which include:
- Flashings and Vents
- Flat Sheets
- Corrugated Roofing
- Cement-Based Shingles
- Roofing Felt
- Roofing Tar
- Asphalt Liquids
- Caulking and Sealant
Effects of asbestos in your roofing
People can become exposed to asbestos in their workplace or homes. Here are some of the known health effects of exposure to asbestos.
It can cause respiratory problems.
When materials that contain asbestos are disturbed, they release asbestos fibres that you can breathe in. These tiny asbestos fibres get trapped in the lungs. Through prolonged exposure over time, these asbestos fibres can scar and inflame your lungs, which can cause serious respiratory diseases.
Prolonged exposure to asbestos can cause lung problems such as pleural plaques, pleural thickening, and pleural effusions.
It can cause cancer.
Asbestos is a carcinogen. Research shows that asbestos causes mesothelioma, a rare kind of cancer that affects the thin membranes in your chest and abdomen. It can also increase your risks of cancers of the lung, ovary, and larynx.
Smokers with asbestos exposure are at higher risk of developing lung cancer, compared with non-smokers. The time it takes to develop cancer from exposure to asbestos can take from 20 to 30 years.
It can cause asbestosis.
Asbestosis refers to the inflammation of the lungs, which can cause shortness of breath and, eventually, permanent damage in your lungs. Inhaling asbestos fibres over a prolonged period can cause this chronic disease. Asbestosis can be mild or severe. The symptoms become apparent after many years of exposure to asbestos.
Common symptoms of asbestosis include:
- Shortness of breath
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
- Persistent dry cough
- Chest tightness
- Fingertips and toes retain fluid, making them rounder
- Difficulty swallowing
- Swelling of the face or neck
- Blood in sputum
People who develop asbestosis are at higher risks of lung cancer.
Risk factors for developing asbestos-related diseases
The following factors will determine how likely you will develop asbestos-related diseases.
- The amount of asbestos fibre you were exposed to
- How long you were exposed to asbestos
- The source of the asbestos
- The size and chemical composition of the asbestos fibres
- Genetic factors
- Individual risk factors, such as a history of smoking
What can you do if you suspect that you roofs have asbestos?
Do not panic if you suspect that your house or building has asbestos materials in it. As long as it is not disturbed or damaged, they will not be of great risk. Touching or replacing such material by yourself is not recommended, however, because if handled improperly, it can release asbestos fibres in the air which one can inhale.
Call a trained and experienced asbestos professional to do the removal of the material. Asbestos roofing professionals can inspect your home for the presence of asbestos. They have the knowledge and experience to safely and efficiently perform the removal and replacement of materials that contain asbestos.
Professional roof professionals who are experienced in replacing roofs with asbestos can help replace your roof with safer and healthier roofing options. If you are removing materials with friable asbestos that have an area of at least 10 square metres, your asbestos removal contractor must be properly licensed. Your removal contractor will also help you with the proper disposal of your asbestos wastes. You can get a fine of up to $7,500 for improper handling and disposal of your asbestos wastes.
Call Amazing Roof Restorations for your roof replacement needs.
Amazing Roof Restorations provides fast and reliable roofing services in Newcastle and Hunter Valley areas. We offer you the best and safest roofing materials for your home. From tile roofs to metal roofing, we have the roofing material that you need. Contact us now for enquiries, and we will be happy to assist you.