Stone corrugated sheets containing asbestos were widely used in the construction industry as a versatile, light, durable and fire-resistant product for siding, roofing and insulation. The use of stone corrugated sheets was primarily in commercial property; however, some older homes and garages could have been built using this product. Asbestos is a fibrous naturally-occurring mineral that was woven together with other materials to create many building supply products. This product was used along with thousands of other asbestos containing products throughout the 1900s.
Asbestos containing building products have been a large contributor to asbestos related illnesses, such as mesothelioma and lung cancer. Asbestos fibers that enter the air when the stone-corrugated sheets are cut, drilled into or demolished are inhaled by workers and exposed individuals. When asbestos fibers are inhaled they can become trapped in the lungs or digestive tract of the exposed person leading to illness. Shortness of breath, cough, chest pain and bloody sputum are all symptoms of asbestos related illnesses such as asbestosis, mesothelioma and lung cancer. Asbestos related illnesses are difficult to treat, and can become evident years after the original exposure.
Because of the toxic nature of the fibers, not only the workers who have been around the asbestos containing materials are at risk. The fibers could have been transported to their family members on the worker’s clothing. The illnesses of those exposed to asbestos building supplies fueled many lawsuits and led to the guidelines from the EPA, OSHA and other governmental organizations to regulate the use, handling and disposal of asbestos containing products like stone corrugated sheeting.
Newer stone corrugated sheeting that is labeled asbestos-free does not carry the same health risks. If you have asbestos containing stone corrugated sheeting in your home, office or school, it is important that it is kept it in good condition, as to not transmit any dust particles into the air. Removal is complex and requires asbestos containment procedures; however, there is only a slight increased risk for illness to those exposed to intact asbestos products. Asbestos products are not used as frequently today as they were in the past, but are still found in some products.
Proper removal and disposal of asbestos containing stone-corrugated sheeting is essential for minimizing the health risks connected to this product. Using a licensed asbestos abatement specialist is recommended. However, if your home project encounters asbestos containing stone-corrugated sheets it is important to remember that the dust particles created when the sheets are broken are highly toxic. The use of dust masks and disposable overalls is essential at a minimum. Keeping the area wet to reduce the possibility of the fibers becoming airborne is also recommended.