Any material containing asbestos is dangerous if it is not handled safely. Left alone and undisturbed it can be quite safe; sometimes for many years. The safest way to treat roof tiles containing asbestos, is to imagine that the microscopic fibres contained in the tiles, are like a swarm of resting bees at rest on the roof of a building. Try moving them and there could be trouble.

If an expert bee-keeper is the answer to removing them, expert asbestos removers are the only safe option for removing asbestos roof tiles. Call in the registered asbestos sampling or removal people. That way all people in and around the building, will be kept safe.

Left alone, asbestos roof tiles can be considered a safe and a durable surface offering years of protection for a building.

The danger occurs when they are moved or broken and the microscopic asbestos fibres become airborne and enter human lungs. Or they can come into contact with skin and eventually find their way into the body. Asbestos-related illnesses are usually fatal. It can take decades before symptoms of serious illness begin to show.


How can roof tiles containing asbestos, be recognised?


Tiles which contain asbestos include mastic or bitumen-based, pressed metal roof tiles that were produced prior to the early 1980s. All mastic or bitumen-based pressed metal roof tiles should be suspected of containing asbestos.

But other types of roof tiles containing asbestos also exist.  The safest way to confirm the presence or absence of asbestos is through sampling and then checked by an accredited laboratory. However, experienced sampling services can quickly advise of the likelihood of asbestos, using their experience across many different projects; they can quickly identify asbestos roofing tiles.

A photo of a roof can sometimes be all that is needed to indicate the likelihood or otherwise, if asbestos is contained in the roofing tiles, shingles or sheets. However, a specialist should be engaged to undertake asbestos sampling and testing.

In February 2018, The Metal Recycling Association became so concerned about the number of asbestos-containing roof tiles arriving at scrap metal yards without sufficient safety measures, that they issued an “industry alert.” Asbestos roofing materials require the same level of safety attention, whatever their form.  Many asbestos roofing materials have been present since the early 20th century.

Roofing shingles containing asbestos are manufactured from a mix of asbestos fibres and hydraulic cement. They were popular for their rigidity, durability and fire resistance. They would not warp or rot and were resistant to damage caused by insects. When asbestos cement was invented, it was already known that asbestos fibres had the potential to cause pulmonary diseases and it is believed that manufacturers may have already known about the potential dangers to health from asbestos cement.

With the harmful effects of asbestos beginning to be acknowledged, asphalt-based roofing products grew in popularity from the 1950’s.

But many buildings still have asbestos shingles on their roofs and if they are in good condition and left undisturbed, most times are not a serious problem. The presence of asbestos in any building  is not necessarily hazardous unless the material becomes damaged and in turn becomes airborne, releasing the fibres in to the atmosphere.


Recommended safe steps to take with asbestos roof tiles:

  1. Make contact with a company offering certified asbestos sampling and removal services.

  2. Send a photo of the roof for advice on the likelihood of asbestos. (Remember that any opinion of “likelihood” is not a certified result. But it can determine how much more investigation may be needed.

  3. Upon the first two steps being completed, a building owner can be guided by the certified sampling and removal company.

  4. A comprehensive service from a certified company will also work in with a building owner’s budgetary and occupancy constraints affecting the building.

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