Are Asbestos Shingles On Your Roof?
Although not common anymore, a large amount of the houses in Vancouver were built before the 1980’s, so there is a very good chance if you are looking a buying or renovating an older home in Vancouver, you will come across or will have to deal with Asbestos.
Asbestos roofing was mass-produced during the 70s & 80s as it was more resilient to weathering than traditional slate shingles because they are soft and prone to weathering.
Canadian regulations along with widespread public concern about the hazards of asbestos, have resulted in a significant annual decline in the use of asbestos. Today it’s no longer allowed to be used in any building materials.
Asbestos roof shingles were instantly attractive they are lighter and less expensive than other types of roof shingles. Asbestos shingles were also valued for being fireproof, especially among those living in turn of the century communities where fire spread was a common concern.
While not able to match the endurance of slate, asbestos shingles were expected to last a minimum of 30 years, enhancing their desirability. They were also valued for being lightweight which significantly reduced the costs involved with shipping and installation.
Despite the ban, many buildings still have asbestos shingles on their roofs and if they are in good condition and left undisturbed, most times they are not a serious problem. The presence of asbestos in your home is not necessarily hazardous unless the material becomes damaged and in turn becomes airborne, releasing the fibers that make it a health hazard.
Asbestos siding was used extensively in buildings and homes from the 1930s until the 1970s. Even if asbestos shingles are on your home, if they are in good condition and left undisturbed, they are usually not a serious problem. The mere presence of asbestos in a home or a building is not hazardous. The danger is that asbestos materials may become damaged over time and become airborne. Damaged asbestos may release asbestos fibers and become a health hazard.
Asbestos On Roofs
In the late 1970’s the Emergency Protection Agency, a United States organization, classified it as a known carcinogen. By that time, however, asbestos had been widely used in a large number of construction products, including roofing products, and was a potential source of great harm to those who came in contact with it.
Asbestos was used in roofing products from the 1920’s through the early 80’s. Its use was so widespread that we now know asbestos-containing materials (products classified as containing at least 1% asbestos) can be found in nearly 80% of structures built prior to 1981. Some roofing products, like asbestos cement roofing, have a life expectancy of 30-50 years so it is likely that asbestos hazards still exist with roof structures that are in place today.
Asbestos was a popular component of many building materials because it was found to be extremely versatile and resistant to heat transfer. Because roofing needs to provide insulation and must be resistant to fire, asbestos was often added to roofing products to serve this purpose.
While asbestos was found in many different types of roofing products such as roofing shingles, asphalt roll roofing, cement roofing and roofing felt, it could also be found in other building products such as pipe covering, various insulation materials, drywall, siding, and even foundation cement compounds.
Hazards Associated with Asbestos Roofing Products
While asbestos exhibited many powerful characteristics as we’ve just described in this post, it also possessed other attributes that made it a very harmful substance. One of the most harmful attributes of asbestos was its microscopic fibers. Asbestos fibers can float freely through the air, particularly when asbestos-containing materials are disturbed, and can be easily inhaled by those in close proximity. Many who inhaled asbestos fibers were not even aware of the hazards they were being exposed to.
When inhaled, asbestos fibers lodge in the outer tissue linings of the lung and abdomen, a thin layer of cells known as the mesothelium. These lubricating membranes are integral to internal organ function. Over time, however, asbestos inflammation on the surface of these membranes can cause scar tissue plaques and an asbestos cancer known as mesothelioma. Many who worked with asbestos materials, particularly those who repaired, modified, or replaced older asbestos materials, may have been harmfully exposed to the material and are at risk to develop respiratory complications as a result of this exposure.
Lawsuits For Hazardous Materials.
Fortunately, those diagnosed with mesothelioma or other asbestos-related health complications may be eligible for compensation for their injuries. We now know that many asbestos product manufacturers were aware of the hazards that their products posed. Despite this, they continued to manufacture products with asbestos and expose hundreds of thousands to the deadly material without their knowing.
Many who have been wrongfully harmed by asbestos have turned to a lawyer for help in obtaining compensation for their health-related injuries. This was a dark time in our country’s construction history and one that hopefully won’t be repeated.
Although asbestos is not used anymore in roofs or other building materials, roofers and contractors still come across it from time to time. If you have an older home and you suspect your roof has some asbestos singles give us a call and we’ll be happy to take a look and make some recommendations.