Roofers and Asbestos Exposure
Asbestos was used in many products in the 20th century due to its superior abilities as a lightweight, durable, inexpensive, insulating, and fireproofing material. Rather ironically, it was incorporated into roofing products to make them safer.
Roofers working with new materials are not likely to encounter asbestos. However, those working to maintain or demolish roofs are still at risk of exposure to the potentially deadly material.
The dangers of asbestos have been public knowledge since the mid-70s. As a result, most asbestos-containing roofing products were phased out of the market by the late 1980s. By the year 2000, all roofing products on the American market were asbestos-free.
Some older products known to include asbestos include:
- AAA hip and ridge shingles
- Careystone corrugated roofing
- Externit asbestos shingles
- Fire-chex ‘325’ shingles
- Flintcoat roofing
- Johns-Manville Blak-Kap duplex roofing
All roofing materials that contain asbestos are an immediate hazard to workers. Asbestos-containing products can be separated into 2 categories:
- Friable: When a material is friable, it easily breaks apart or disintegrates. They are much more likely to produce airborne asbestos fibers, putting nearby workers at risk of inhalation and ingestion.
- Non-Friable: Non-friable materials are more stable than friable asbestos products. However, if non-friable materials are damaged during demolition, excessive wear or bad weather, the asbestos fibers can still become airborne.
Some examples of friable roofing materials include:
- Niccolite (often used under wood shingles)
- Pipe insulation in roof spaces
- Roof paper
- Silver roof paint
- Sprayed insulation
Some examples of non-friable materials include:
- CAV or transite
- Cement roofing and paneling
- Felt paper
- Patch compounds