Asbestos is a naturally occurring substance that was once a highly regarded building material, well known for its ability to withstand fire and extreme temperatures.
Strength and durability were coupled with excellent sound absorption qualities that were extremely sought after in the construction industry. The seemingly miraculous qualities of asbestos can help to explain why the potentially dangerous side affects from exposure to asbestos, where brushed under the carpet for so long.
Asbestos comes in three main types – white asbestos or ‘chrysotile’, brown asbestos or ‘amosite’ and finally, blue asbestos or crocidolite. Blue asbestos is considered the most dangerous of the three, due to the very sharp and fine structure of its fibres.
Bonded asbestos, another type of asbestos, is manufactured from bonding asbestos fibres to other materials such as cement. You can still find this type of asbestos today in both the home and industrial or commercial buildings.
Bonded was regularly used in flat roofs, roof shingles and the corrugated roofs that are typically found in garages and other outbuildings. It is also found in textured paint on walls and ceilings, floor tiles and water and drainage pipes and it was heavily used in the manufacture of brake linings and insulation materials.
If disturbed and inhaled, particles can be extremely dangerous. Asbestos inhalation is known to cause some serious illnesses including and lung cancer. The dust can remain airborne for several hours and can also cling to fabric and other materials causing second hand asbestos exposure. Prolonged, long-term exposure greatly increases the risk of asbestosis.
For that reason the European Union has banned the use of all asbestos and its products and strict regulations now exist to prevent exposure to its particles.
Discovering asbestos in the roof, walls or flooring of your home or office can be frightening, but it is important to remember that asbestos is only harmful when the fibres are actually disturbed and become airborne.
If for example, your roof is not showing signs of wear and tear, then it is unlikely you will be at risk of exposure to asbestos. If asbestos is well maintained and covered with an impermeable layer of paint or other such substance, this will help prevent dust release and stop the asbestos being a threat to your health.
This is very important to consider, as many people simply panic when discovering and rush to replace an asbestos roof for a new one. This is not only an expensive option, but it can be a dangerous one. If the asbestos roofing is not removed by professionals it can release dangerous particles into the atmosphere.
A cheaper and sometimes safer option is to have the asbestos roof repaired by specialists and coated with a specially designed asbestos coating for roofs. That way the asbestos is not disturbed and you can safely extend the life of your roof. Wherever you discover asbestos, you must never try asbestos removal yourself – you should always consult a professional asbestos removal company.