Asbestos Siding Shingles
When asbestos was seen as a wonder material instead of a danger to public health, it was common to find it in many elements of home construction like flooring, insulation, and roofing and siding materials like shingles that were used regularly in building houses.
Even though the Clean Air act of the late 1970s lead to heavy regulation of asbestos, building materials that contain asbestos often remain in homes – even up to today. If your house has certain kinds of roofing or siding, you may be at risk of asbestos exposure.
Why was asbestos used in siding?
As a building material, asbestos has several extremely beneficial properties– which is why often used in the first place. In addition to being highly resilient and durable, asbestos is both heat and chemical resistant. For siding, it was mixed into cement during production to strengthen and fireproof the material. Asbestos also provided extra insulation for the homes on which it was used.
Which is why even today it is possible that you may be living in a home with asbestos containing siding or shingles. If you think this is the case, you should hire a professional to test your exterior siding for any amount of asbestos material.
What kinds of siding contain asbestos?
Not every siding material contains asbestos. There are a few methods that you can use to identify whether your siding contains this dangerous substance or not:
Puncture marks – asbestos shingles will usually have puncturing along the edges for nails, and the edges will overlap with the row beneath.
The sound when tapped – if you tap on a shingle that contains asbestos, it will make a high pitched and sharp sound similar to that of a ceramic tile when struck.
The siding texture – asbestos cement roofing will have a flaky and sharp texture along the edge if you find a broken tile.
If you believe your house has asbestos cement siding, you can contact an asbestos abatement company to have it removed.
Which companies manufactured asbestos siding?
There are many companies who used to manufacture asbestos siding before it became more highly regulated, and who were able to continue selling their remaining stock after it ceased to be manufactured.
Here is a list of just a few of the most well-known companies:
• National Gypsum Company
• Bird Incorporated
While asbestos only became regulated in the US in the late 1970s, studies carried out many years prior to this revealed a link between asbestos and health problems. When manufacturing these products, these companies were likely aware to an extent of the risk to public health asbestos posed – and decided to put profits over people’s lives.
What are the risks of being around asbestos cement siding?
Asbestos is a dangerous building material because of the asbestos fibers that can enter the air. If these are inhaled, they become stuck inside the lining of your lungs and can’t be broken down, leading to serious health problems like scarring and potentially mesothelioma, an aggressive form of cancer.
If they aren’t damaged, asbestos siding shingles see very little human contact, therefore they don’t need to be removed since they aren’t highly likely to be dangerous. Tiles like these are referred to as nonfriable, they typically can’t release asbestos dust that makes the substance dangerous.
On the other hand, if your asbestos siding has been damaged over time by factors such as heat, weathering, and water, they may be considered friable, meaning that they can be easily broken up without much contact. In this state, the asbestos containing material is dangerous, as it can release asbestos fibers into the atmosphere.
Who is most at risk of health issues related to asbestos cement shingles?
If you live in a house that has asbestos cement siding that is considered nonfriable, you are likely not at risk of asbestos related health problems. Instead, those most at risk of health issues are the workers who installed asbestos siding shingles onto houses. This is because they spent a significant amount of time handling the material and, more importantly, cutting it, which is what releases the dangerous asbestos fibers.
Additionally, it has been found that the families of these workers are also often at risk of health issues like mesothelioma, despite not working in environments with significant amounts of asbestos. This is because asbestos fibers can easily become stuck to work clothing, which is then brought into the homes of the workers and released into the air.
What should I do if I think I may have asbestos roofing?
If you suspect that your house might have asbestos siding, removal may not necessarily be the best option, as this can displace the siding, releasing the dangerous fibers and posing a greater health risk than leaving it be. Instead, it can be covered with new siding, meaning that the fibers are prevented from getting into the air and the tiles underneath can’t be damaged.
However, if your asbestos cement siding is considered friable, having it removed entirely may be the safest option. While you could do this yourself, it is highly recommended that you hire a professional who can remove asbestos containing roofing products according to Environmental Protection Agency guidelines.
If you think that you may have a health issue because of asbestos materials in your home, you should contact your doctor as soon as possible. If you have been diagnosed with a health problem from asbestos exposure, you may be entitled to compensation from the company that produced the product containing asbestos – although asbestos related illness is a tragedy, hopefully this can bring some sense of justice. As experts in this area of law, you can contact us for a free consultation if you feel you may be entitled to this financial compensation.