Asbestos in Waterproofing Exposure and Risks

Waterproof coatings were used across the country to protect buildings and other structures from leaking. Due to the durable and waterproof qualities of asbestos, the mineral was commonly used in waterproofing materials as a way to protect buildings from the rain. Unfortunately, this exposed a lot of people to the carcinogenic qualities of asbestos, which can cause diseases such as mesothelioma.

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Asbestos in Waterproofing Explained

Asbestos waterproof coatings were made to prevent rain and underground water from damaging buildings. This thick waterproof coating was prepared by adding molten asphalt to a liquid composed of asbestos and water. The added asbestos fibers made the coating crack, fire and water resistant.

Asbestos waterproofing was mainly used to protect roofs, but over time, cracks can develop in asbestos roofs and case leaks. This brings damage, expense and perhaps a severe risk to health too.

Specialized roof coatings have been created to cover old asbestos roofs. This not only fixes the leak, but it also seals in the older asbestos to prevent it from contaminating the home. The new waterproof roofs are applied as a liquid and dry to form a watertight membrane that seals off the harmful asbestos fibers in the original roof. This is a solution for homeowners who don’t wish to replace the roof.

Did You Know?

Homeowners Used Waterproofing to Repair Asbestos Roofs

A leaking roof must be dealt with quickly, but many building owners can’t afford to dismantle and dispose of leaking asbestos roofs. Instead, they choose to repair their roof with a waterproof coating, which also often contained asbestos.

Before the creation of this new asbestos-free waterproof coating, asbestos was used in a variety of formats in the construction industry for waterproofing and membranes:

  • Asbestos Cement: Flat sheets used for interior and exterior walls, and for waterproofing under floor tiles.
  • Asbestos Flooring: Boards used under floors as a waterproof membrane.
  • Asbestos Cladding: Coloured waterproof wall cladding used as a splashback in kitchens and bathrooms.
  • Asbestos Roofing: Corrugated roof sheets used as a way to waterproof buildings.
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Asbestos exposure has led to thousands of mesothelioma diagnoses. If you’ve been diagnosed with mesothelioma, the Mesothelioma Justice Guide will help you understand your rights and know the next steps.

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Who Was Exposed to Asbestos in Waterproofing?

Many constructions workers would have been exposed to asbestos throughout their working lives. Waterproofing asbestos was used on various aspects of a build, including in roofs, flooring, walls, kitchens, bathrooms and the foundations.

Any area of a building prone to wet condition, such as bathrooms, toilets and laundry rooms, may have contained asbestos sheeting to waterproof these areas. Therefore, plumbers, joiners, pipefitters and other tradespeople may have come into contact with asbestos too.

Secondary Asbestos Exposure

It’s also important to note that anyone working in an area that contained asbestos dust may have also carried particles of the asbestos home on their clothes, shoes and hair, meaning that these fibers could enter the house and potentially expose family members in the vicinity.

Home and business owners may also be at risk when carrying out any checks around older buildings. Any construction or refurbishment carried out before 1980 could have been built using asbestos-containing materials, so it’s always best to ensure that an asbestos professional check the building before you remove any waterproof sheets.

New Hampshire’s Asbestos Bridges

Bridges built in New Hampshire from 1958-78 were constructed with an asbestos-containing waterproof membrane, designed to protect and preserve the concrete part of the bridge. However, as asbestos ages, it can become brittle and break away from the structure.

To protect the citizens of New Hampshire, the Department of Transportation began to address the asbestos on bridges built within this period and remove asbestos-containing material. This will help to safeguard for the future and is an excellent example of what many companies should be doing when it comes to being accountable for asbestos usage.

Access Asbestos Trust Funds

Compensation for treatment, loss of income and other damages are available through Asbestos Trust Funds. Mesothelioma patients exposed to asbestos in waterproofing may qualify.

Find Out If You Qualify

Health Risks of Asbestos in Waterproofing

People have known that asbestos causes mesothelioma since before the 1980s, yet because of the prevalence of asbestos in the U.S., it’s difficult to eradicate all remaining asbestos-containing products.

When asbestos is inhaled, the long, needle-like fibers can pierce the lining of the lungs, heart or abdomen. Over decades, asbestos fibers cause irritation to the healthy organ tissue, and can eventually trigger cancerous mesothelioma mutations in the cells.

Did You Know?

Mesothelioma Can Take Decades to Develop

It can take up to 50 years for mesothelioma symptoms to fully develop. Many people who were exposed to asbestos in waterproofing years ago, may only just be now developing symptoms.

Mesothelioma treatment has advanced significantly in the past decades. All patients have treatment options available to them to help improve quality of life or even extend life expectancy. Be sure to seek a second opinion on your diagnosis from a top mesothelioma specialist.

Seeking Justice for Mesothelioma

Many people developed mesothelioma as a result of working with products like asbestos in waterproofing. People who worked with these kinds of products before 1980 may still be diagnosed with mesothelioma in the years to come. If you have recently been diagnosed yourself, you may be able to claim legal compensation to help cover treatment costs.

For more information on how you may have been exposed to asbestos, contact our Justice Support Team at (888) 360-4215. Or request our FREE Mesothelioma Justice Guide to understand your options as a mesothelioma victim.

Mesothelioma Support Team
Stephanie KiddWritten by:


Stephanie Kidd works tirelessly as a dedicated advocate for the vulnerable and underrepresented. Stephanie worked as a copywriter for an agency whose focus was communicating safety procedures on construction work sites. With her extensive background in victim advocacy and a dedication to seeing justice done, Stephanie works hard to ensure that all online content is reliable, truthful and helpful.

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  6. Waterproof coatings. Retrieved from: Accessed on October 18, 2018.
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