Asbestos is a naturally occurring stone, which was first discovered by Aristotle’s students in Greece. Its use in the construction industry dates back to thousands of years, however substantial mining of asbestos took place in the 19th century during the Industrial Revolution. It has many desirable properties: including resistance towards heat and fire, greater strength than that of conjugated steel, and strong binding capabilities, which makes it a cheap and versatile solution for the building industry.
There are six different types of asbestos; namely amosite, crocidolite, chrysotile, tremolite, actinolite, and anthophyllite, and each one has a distinct color. In the UK, crocidolite (blue asbestos), amosite (brown asbestos), and chrysolite (white asbestos) were widely used in the building industry. However, despite their wonderful properties, the use of asbestos was banned in the UK effective from the year 2020 .
Once used widely, it is now regarded as a silent killer. Health and Safety Executive (HSE) research states that asbestos-related disease mortality rates peaked in 2016 due to extensive latency periods . Hence, it is recommended to remove asbestos-containing products, especially if they are damaged and old.
This article has everything you need to know about asbestos, the use of asbestos roofs, health hazards, risk factors, in addition to removal and replacement solutions.
Asbestos and its Use in Roofing
One of the uses of asbestos in the building industry was roof construction. The asbestos roof is made from asbestos cement, which is a mixture of cement and asbestos. The presence of asbestos makes the roof fire-resistant, provides adequate insulation, ensures durability and strength, and gives the roof a matte finish. The asbestos cement can mold into any shape and imitate other expensive products such as wood, thus becoming one of the most inexpensive renovation materials in the building industry in the UK.
The use of asbestos is completely outlawed by the government. However, most of the buildings in the UK have asbestos cement sheets to this day. This is because of their widespread use in roofing and insulation in the 20th century, as they were once an extremely popular construction material.
Typically, the asbestos fibers account for 15% of the total cement mixture used in making roof tiles. The percentage might vary, according to the manufacturer. The chrysolite type, also known as white asbestos, is commonly used for building purposes as it is more pliable and softer than the other types.
How Long Does This Type Of Roof Last?
The durability of an asbestos roof mainly depends on the thickness of the cement mixture. Thinner roof tiles last up to sixty years. While the thicker ones, which are approximately a quarter of an inch dense, last for about eighty years. Their longevity depends greatly on weather conditions, especially the amount of sun and rain exposure.
Asbestos and its Health Hazards
Asbestos is a natural substance and is not dangerous in the environment. However, problems arise once they are mined, extracted, and widely used in the building industry. Statistics show that asbestos kills around five thousand workers each year, as twenty tradesmen die each week as a result of past exposure . The annual ratio of deaths from asbestos is greater than those of road accidents, which highlights its adverse impacts on human health.
How Does Asbestos Affect Our Health?
Asbestos fibers are microscopic. Once exposed, they can become airborne and water-borne, leading to their inhalation and ingestion by humans. This has no initial symptoms. An individual can be inhaling or ingesting asbestos fibers without even knowing it. These particles are non-biodegradable. It means that once they enter the respiratory or the digestive tract of an individual, they remain lodged in the respective organs permanently. They can prove to be fatal as the body cannot combat these tiny, hazardous asbestos particles.
They accumulate in the tissues of the lungs and abdomen. Initially, they cause soreness, inflammation, and scarring. If the exposure is prolonged, however, it can lead to chronic diseases including but not limited to the ones listed below.
- Lung Cancer.
- GIT Cancer.
- GIT ulceration.
- Pleural Thickening.
Asbestos in Your Roof – What are the Risks?
Asbestos in your roof is no longer a threat as long as it is not damaged. However, asbestos roofs can impose a risk when the fibers are no longer held in place by the cement. It happens when the tiles disintegrate and the cement weakens due to the impact of weather erosion over the years. That allows the fibers to break away and become exposed to the air.
Once the asbestos fibers are exposed to the air, they become a potential threat to humans. To prevent this, it is essential to remove your asbestos roof before deterioration worsens, and replace it with asbestos-free roofing products. This will not only ensure your safety but also that of the people living near you.
Asbestos Roof Removal And Replacement
There is no doubt that asbestos is a life-threatening fiber. The asbestos roof will disintegrate sooner or later, and when it does, it will affect numerous individuals. Its removal requires professional help where the utmost importance is given to the safety procedures to ensure minimum exposure of the fibers. Trained professionals offer quick and efficient removal services while making sure that the debris is taken care of and no residue is left behind.
UK Asbestos Regulations
The government of the UK has strict regulations to control who can remove asbestos-containing materials and how the procedure should be carried out. Asbestos removal must be carried out with the proper protocol to reduce the risk of asbestos fibre exposure. Some of the important protocols stated in the Control of Asbestos Regulation 2012  are as follows:
- If the asbestos-containing materials are in good, undamaged condition, then they must be left in place. However, their condition must be monitored at all times.
- Anyone who is exposed to asbestos fibers must be under the health surveillance of a doctor.
- The control for asbestos is 0.1 asbestos fibers per cubic centimeter of air.
Why Do You Need Asbestos Roof Removal?
“The danger which is least expected soonest comes to us.” (Voltaire)
Getting rid of your asbestos roof as soon as it is possible, is the best investment you can make. Here are some of the reasons why you should invest in this procedure:
- The most essential reason is that it ensures no asbestos-related illness is contracted by your family or visitors.
- An asbestos-free roof adds to the value of your house in the market.
- It helps to remove the unnecessary weight on the structure of the roof.
- Asbestos roof removal prevents contamination from water-borne asbestos fibre by safeguarding the stored tank water.
- A new roof will be able to support solar panels, air conditioning ducts, and other installations.
Why Do You Need A Professional Asbestos Roof Removal Contractor?
Asbestos roof removal contractors know what they are dealing with. They are trained in taking precautions to ensure the safest techniques are applied in the removal procedure. This is because the main aim is to contain the exposure of asbestos fibre, which can be a complicated job considering the tiniest amount of wind is enough to make these particles air-borne.
Following are some of the precautions taken by the asbestos roof removal contractors that assist in safe and efficient procedures:
- Gearing up with protective suits, gloves, masks, etc.
- Application of PVA glue before the commencement of the removal procedure to encapsulate the fibers and minimize exposure.
- Once the sheets are removed, they are wrapped in the builder’s plastic. After being properly taped, they are taken to the asbestos waste disposal depot.
- After the removal process is completed, the surrounding areas of your home such as the yard and ceilings, etc. are thoroughly vacuumed so that no debris is left behind.
How Can You Get A Roofing Contractor?
Since the removal of an asbestos roof is a tricky job that needs to be done under strict precautionary measures, we recommend you hire a roofing contractor. Not only will this ensure professionalism in the output but will also provide you with a hassle-free, time-efficient solution. Moreover, a roofing contractor will also assist in providing the best roofing replacement options which will enhance the value of your home and modernize your lifestyle at the same time.
To get a professional roofing contractor for asbestos roof removal in the UK, you can get information from the following accredited companies.
- Asbestos Removal Contractors Association (ARCA)
- United Kingdom Accreditation Service
What Are Asbestos Roof Removal Costs?
The overall cost of removal of an asbestos roof depends on the quantity that is needed to be dealt with. This means that the cost will greatly vary in terms of the area taken up by the asbestos cement.
A rough guide suggests that removal of the asbestos roof from the garage starts around £380 or £680 if the sides of the garage are included as well.
The cost of removing asbestos insulation ceiling boards starts from around £1,350.
Can You Remove The Asbestos Roof Yourself?
No, you cannot remove the asbestos roof yourself, as there is no formal training, tools, or license from the government in this case. It is essential to remove and dispose of asbestos material carefully to avoid contamination and health risks. The best way to do this, as we stated before, is by hiring a contractor.
You should not remove the entire asbestos roof yourself as that is an extremely dangerous risk and can go wrong in multiple ways. Do not damage the material and do not clear up any mess yourself, unless you are trained to do so and have the correct safety equipment. .
However, if you want to get rid of a small area of roof such as that of a garage or shed, then you are permitted to do that. Even then, you are required to follow the strict guidelines  that are provided by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). Their proper implication is the only way to achieve a safe, contamination-free asbestos removal.
The Final Word
If you are thinking about renovating your house, you might want to consider the renovation of your rooftop, especially if it is an asbestos roof. Renovating a roof requires a lot of precautions for the safe disposal of asbestos materials so, we at Kabi Roofing, deliver excellent working solutions under your budget, whilst creating an ideal roof for your house. We can help with your asbestos roof in London, West London and South West UK.
People Also Ask
- Is It Safe To Clean An Asbestos Roof?
Yes, there is a safe way to clean the asbestos roof, achieved by using the soft washing procedures recommended by the UK government. The use of biocide is the most effective and cost-friendly method to clean asbestos roofs. High-pressure cleaning of asbestos roofs is strictly prohibited as it imposes a great threat of contamination.
- Can You Roof Over Asbestos?
No. Roofing over asbestos increases the risk of contamination, as a new roof will require drilling in the existing one and leading to the spread of asbestos debris. Moreover, it will increase the structural weight which in some cases might be very dangerous if the building is incapable of holding this additional weight.
- Can You Replace Asbestos Roof Tiles?
Yes. This can be done by first removing the asbestos roof tiles and then replacing them with modern alternatives which use asbestos-free products.
- Does Asbestos Affect House Prices?
The presence of asbestos in houses can affect its market value to some extent. This mostly depends upon several factors including how much is present, where it is, and what state it’s in.
- Ban of asbestos in the UK
- HSE research on asbestos
- Statistics of asbestos fatalities
- Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012
- Asbestos removal at home
- HSE guidelines for asbestos removal