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That Old Roof Better be Checked for Asbestos!
Home Home Home Improvement
By: C. Michael Hunter Email Article
Word Count: 573 Digg it | it | Google it | StumbleUpon it


The characteristics of asbestos are why it has been incorporated into hundreds of commercial products. Properties such as incombustibility, high-tensile strength, resistance to corrosion, sound-proofing and thermal insulation are only some of the reasons why this material has been widely used by the construction industry.

The application of this component in many roofing materials has been thought to be hazardous to human health by causing several respiratory problems due to its friability, which is its capacity to crumble. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulates products containing more than one percent of asbestos and has separated the construction material into friable and non-friable substances. This is based on the amount of silicate fibers (dust) that are released when the substances are damaged or disturbed. Since this is quite hazardous, it is important to determine if the roofing material on a residence contains this hazardous substance.

Identifying Asbestos in Roofs

If a house was built before the 1980s, it more than likely contains some type of asbestos materials, according to many experts from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Only microscopic laboratory testing (polarized light microscopy) can confirm the presence of the substance when it is cut, sawed, and disturbed. It comes in various colors, depending on how it was used. The more common colors are white, brown, metallic blue, brown-yellow, and green.

Because of the technology used to manufacture asbestos now, it is easy to detect and distinguish it upon a visual inspection; however, a microscope is still needed to determine the type, presence, and amount of the substance.

Products with Asbestos

There are several products that may contain these hazardous fibers. This includes the following: roofing felt; asphalt shingles; roofing tiles; siding shingles; clapboards; sprayed ceiling coatings; troweled coatings; textured paints; ceiling tiles; and spackle.

Exposure to asbestos fibers is very risky as they are considered to be a carcinogen; inhalation of the dust is extremely harmful to human health. Therefore, it is imperative to identify any materials that may possibly contain this substance.

Essential Safety Reminders

Not ALL asbestos-containing products are dangerous, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Exposure is less likely to happen if the material is in good condition; however, if the products are disturbed due to repairs and renovations, it will more than likely lead to the fibers being released and put the occupants of the home at risk. To avoid this possibility, asbestos-containing products should be maintained in good condition. In addition, remember that when the product is damaged or disturbed, prompt isolation of the area should be done and the location should also be isolated to avoid disturbing the substance. After this has been accomplished, an inspector should be contacted immediately for a consultation.

Sometimes when roofing materials easily crumble and crush, it is mistakenly thought to be a result of the aging process. Although possibly true, it could also result from the crumbling of asbestos-containing products. While the degree of friability is usually gauged by how greatly the release of carcinogenic fibers will pose a health hazard, knowing how to identify this substance will help lessen the exposure of household members to its health risks. It is important to be familiar with the types of roofing materials that contains asbestos, especially with older homes. The residence should be checked for this substance so as not to compromise the health of all the household members!

C. Michael Hunter is an expert in residential and commercial roofing. To find out more about Houston Roofers, go to the main website at:

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