asbestos roofing shingles

Understanding the Dangers of Asbestos in Roofing Shingles

In the mid-20th century, asbestos was touted as the future material, admired for its durability and fire-resistant properties. However, as we came to understand the health hazards associated with it, its use in construction has been largely phased out. But for some homeowners, the threat is still very much present. 

Despite its known health risks, asbestos is still present in many homes today. For those who live in older homes, it’s essential to understand the potential dangers and know how to identify and adequately deal with asbestos roofing shingles.

In the mid-20th century, asbestos was touted as the future material, admired for its durability and fire-resistant properties. However, as we came to understand the health hazards associated with it, its use in construction has been largely phased out. But for some homeowners, the threat is still very much present.

Despite its known health risks, asbestos is still present in many homes today. For those who live in older homes, it’s essential to understand the potential dangers and know how to identify and adequately deal with asbestos roofing shingles.

Understanding the Dangers of Asbestos in Roofing Shingles

What is Asbestos?

Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral widely used in various construction materials due to its fire-resistant properties. It can be found in the environment in the form of long, thin fibers and is known for its durability and resistance to heat and chemicals. However, asbestos exposure can pose serious health risks such as lung cancer, mesothelioma, and asbestosis, as inhaling or ingesting the fibers can lead to respiratory issues and various other diseases.

Asbestos fibers were commonly used in roofing, siding, and insulation materials due to their strength and fire-resistant nature. The fibers were typically mixed with other materials to create robust, weather-resistant roofing products.

Asbestos roof shingles were commonly manufactured and supplied between the late 19th century and the early 1980s, with peak production occurring in the mid-20th century. However, due to the known health risks associated with asbestos exposure, its use in building materials has recently been heavily regulated or banned in many countries.

Roofing Shingles that Contain Asbestos

To determine whether roofing shingles contain asbestos, carefully inspect the material for signs of wear and tear, such as cracking, chipping, or breaking. Asbestos-containing shingles may become brittle and prone to damage over time, so any visible signs of deterioration could indicate the presence of asbestos.

Additionally, look for any manufacturing labels or documents that indicate the use of asbestos in the shingles. If such information is not readily available, consulting with a specialized contractor for a professional assessment and potential removal of the shingles is essential.

If you want to go the do-it-yourself route to determine if your roofing contains asbestos, you can get some DIY testing kits from Amazon. Take a sample and send it back off to the lab for testing. Results usually take about a week to return, but it is worth knowing if your roof contains any asbestos. Here are some DIY kits on Amazon:

How Do I Know If My Roof Shingles Are Asbestos?

To determine if your roof shingles contain asbestos, first consider the age of your house and the type of roofing materials used. If your home was built before the 1980s and has older roofing shingles with a unique texture, there is a possibility they may contain asbestos. Asbestos was commonly used in building materials before its health risks were widely known, and roofing shingles made with asbestos have a distinct appearance. Some corrugated roofing may also contain asbestos. 

You can contact a professional to test your roofing materials or get a DIY test kit for asbestos products. If your roof shingles are found to contain asbestos, it is essential to consult with asbestos professionals for guidance on proper removal and disposal. Asbestos exposure can pose serious health risks, so taking any necessary precautions when dealing with asbestos-containing materials in your home is crucial.

DO NOT ATTEMPT TO REMOVE ASBESTOS ROOFING SHINGLES YOURSELF

When Did They Stop Using Asbestos Shingles?

Asbestos was officially declared a health hazard in the 1970s, leading to stricter regulations and guidelines for its use. By the 1980s, the use of asbestos in building materials, including asbestos asphalt shingles, decreased significantly. It was in the late 1990s that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) formally banned the manufacturing, importation, processing, and distribution of asbestos-containing products, including asbestos shingles and siding.

The decline in the use of asbestos shingles can be attributed to increased awareness of the health risks, stricter regulations, and the development of safer alternative materials for construction.

Removing Asbestos Roofing and Siding

Hiring a certified, licensed asbestos contractor to remove asbestos roofing products and siding is crucial. Asbestos is a hazardous material that can cause serious health issues when not handled properly, and even asbestos dust can be dangerous. An asbestos abatement company will have the specialized equipment and techniques necessary to safely handle and dispose of asbestos, ensuring the homeowners’ and families’ health and safety.

Asbestos removal requires specific training and certification, and licensed contractors have the expertise to safely and effectively remove asbestos roofing and siding without putting anyone at risk. They also know the regulations and guidelines for removing asbestos, ensuring the process complies with all legal requirements. 

By hiring a licensed contractor, homeowners can have peace of mind knowing that the removal of asbestos roofing and siding will be done safely and professionally. It’s essential to prioritize the health and safety of your family by entrusting the job to a qualified and licensed professional.

Is Working with Asbestos Roofing and Siding Hazardous?

Working with asbestos roofing and siding can pose severe hazards to workers and individuals nearby. Asbestos materials are brittle, easily crumble, and release toxic fibers into the air. Factors such as aging, weathering, and improper handling can contribute to the friability of asbestos materials, increasing the risk of fiber release.

Exposure to asbestos fibers and inhaling asbestos fibers can lead to severe health risks, including respiratory issues, lung scarring, and a higher likelihood of developing lung cancer, mesothelioma, and asbestosis. Once inhaled, these fibers can cause irreversible lung damage, significantly impacting an individual’s overall health and well-being.

Activities such as drilling, cutting, sanding, or demolishing asbestos roofing and siding can disturb the materials and release fibers into the air. Improper removal techniques can also spread asbestos contamination, further putting individuals at risk of exposure.

In conclusion, the hazards associated with working with asbestos roofing and siding are significant and should not be taken lightly. It is essential to follow proper safety protocols and seek professional assistance to remove and handle asbestos materials to minimize the health risks to workers and the surrounding community.

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Rick Anderson