From the 1930s to the 1970s, asbestos shingles were used extensively in buildings as well as in homes. Before it was banned for use in construction materials, asbestos was a highly desirable mineral because of its fire resistant properties and its strength and durability. However, it was found that the very fiber that makes asbestos such a valuable industrial raw material also makes it dangerous to human health. There are literally hundreds of cases of illnesses and deaths related to the inhalation of asbestos fibers at the workplace or even at home.
What to Do
If you have asbestos shingles in your home, the first thing you need to do is to determine its condition. Materials containing asbestos are not per se hazardous to health. It is only when they are in bad condition, in a state of disrepair, or disturbed that they become potential hazards because there is a high risk of exposure to asbestos fibers released in the air as a result of the removal or disturbance.
What Not to Do
If, after assessment, the asbestos shingles are in good condition, the best thing to do is to leave it alone. Under no circumstance should the asbestos shingles in good condition be disturbed. Doing so may cause the asbestos fibers to become airborne, thus exposing you to its dangers.
If Asbestos Shingles are in Bad Condition
If asbestos shingles are in bad condition, you have two courses of action. That is, you can either repair the asbestos shingles or remove it entirely from your home.
When you want to repair asbestos shingles, it is best if you leave this kind of work to licensed professionals. However, for information’s sake, the process usually involves either of two methods: sealing or covering the asbestos shingles.
Sealing will either bind the asbestos fibers together or coats the entire material so that the fibers are not released. This type of repair may also be used, not only on asbestos shingles but also on insulations for pipes, furnaces and boilers.
Another way to repair asbestos shingles is by placing something over or around the material – in effect, covering the entire material to prevent the fibers from becoming airborne. The other course of action you may take is again best left to licensed professional workers experienced in removing asbestos shingles. They usually have all the necessary tools and protective materials to minimize the risk of exposure.
Of the two courses of action, removal is the more expensive method. In addition to being much more expensive, removal also poses the greatest risk of exposure to asbestos fibers. So, unless it is required by state or local regulations, this is usually reserved as the last option.