The sight of the corrugated asbestos roof has become far and few in between and the ones that do remain are starting to show signs of deterioration. Asbestos roofs which are corrugated are commonly referred to as ‘Super Six’ in which during inspections contamination of asbestos in soil can be observed from the asbestos roof deteriorating. While asbestos was mostly discontinued by the mid-1980s, the complete national ban on manufacture and the use of asbestos was only brought in on December 31st 2003.
Why Asbestos Cement Roofs ?
Asbestos was added into cement and other materials due to its unique tensile strength and resistance to heat and electricity. In most cases, cement roofing contains approximately 10-15% of bound asbestos.
Can the asbestos in roofs be released into the air ?
Roofs in good condition will be less likely to release asbestos fibres whereas over time, constant weathering and exposure can result in the roof being covered in moss and lichen and eventually leading to brittle and deteriorated asbestos roofs.
It is important to remember that most asbestos roofing is exposed exteriorly and chances of asbestos exposure is low as the fibres are unlikely to remain due to wind and rain. On the other hand, these exposed fibres can accumulate in nearby debris in gutters or soil in immediate areas surrounding the building.
What is the main concern with weathered asbestos roofs ?
The main concern people may have is whether they will be constantly exposed to asbestos fibres but the likely answer is that there really is negligible exposure. Unless you’re involved in clearing out gutters or conducting activities that will disturb the soil around the building then your risk factor is going to still be minor. Exposure risk increases for those involved in the maintenance around the area, so how then can this issue be solved?
How can we eliminate or reduce the risk of exposure from asbestos roofs ?
When it comes to ensuring that you can deal with a deteriorating asbestos roof and the accumulation of fibres in the gutters and soils, there are a few options. First ensure that you have an asbestos inspection by a qualified Asbestos Assessor to confirm that the material contains asbestos.
The simplest method to reduce the risk of exposure is to remove the affected debris and soil by capping with clean soil. It is important to note that given enough time and continuing roof deterioration, the asbestos contamination will still occur.
The next option would be to take it a step further and seal the deteriorating asbestos roof with appropriate paint or sealer, given that it isn’t covered with lichen and moss. Please note that cleaning through water blasting or the like is prohibited. This can cause wide spread contamination to other properties in which clean-up costs may be in the hundreds of thousands for even cleaning a small garage! The other option is to remove and replace the asbestos roof entirely as it negates the need for any further actions in relation to asbestos contamination.
Call Safe Environments for Asbestos Testing or an inspection of your house or commercial building
For an inspection of your roof to determine whether is contains asbestos, or would like a risk assessment carried out, please contact the Asbestos Check team at Safe Environments.
Author: Dennis Clemence
Dennis is a Property Risk Assessor at Safe Environments conducting inspections and assessments of asbestos and hazardous building materials. Dennis completed a Bachelor of Science Degree in Forensic Science at the University of Western Sydney. An action and initiative driven person Dennis has strong communication skills and has provided his time volunteering at a local Community Legal Centre to assist Solicitors in providing legal advice to clients. He has conducted a toxicological audits based on the GHS and Safe Work Australia advising on the general storage, handling and disposal of the various chemicals.