The Australian National Health and Medical Research Council reveals that asbestos, a fibrous mineral, had numerous industrial and domestic uses in Australia during the 20th Century. In particular, people noticed that it had very desirable qualities that made it cheaper to build their houses cheaply.
Asbestos refers to a group of naturally-occurring silicate minerals, including: amosite (brown or grey asbestos), crocidolite (blue asbestos), and chrysotile (white asbestos). Such minerals feature fine, fibrous crystals. During the 20th century, asbestos roof shingles were the preferred material when people needed to roof their houses. This was due the physical property of such roof shingles, which possessed high durability, came at a cheaper price and were far much lighter than slate.
In addition, asbestos roof shingles provided very high fire resistance and insulation from heat. Moreover, the roof shingles had a life span ranging from 50 to 60 years, apart from being less bulky compared to siding panels, which were eight times thicker.
Unfortunately, when the roof shingles aged, they would decrease in their imperviousness to water, making moss growth quite common. Also, such shingles would become very brittle and break up during winter when temperatures dropped, once they started absorbing water.
Challenges of Asbestos Roof Shingles
Removing asbestos roof shingles is an expensive and delicate procedure, especially if they are damaged or weathered. In such damaged and weathered conditions, the previously strong and durable shingles can be easily crushed by hand. This would necessitate hiring professional removers to handle the delicate material. Such a professional contractor would possess the required expertise in handling and managing the removal of potentially-harmful asbestos material.
Remember that, you still have to be careful even when your roof shingles are in good condition. Any screws should be removed instead of being unscrewed. This is because unscrewing fasteners from the already-brittle shingles releases asbestos dust into the air, making you susceptible to inhaling the poisonous asbestos fibers.
A homeowner should never contract the services of a contractor who is ill-equipped for the job and inexperienced in handling asbestos. It's definitely a very challenging task, hence only an expert contractor can competently do it.
Safe asbestos roof removal would also involve proper disposal of the asbestos fiber. Moreover, pieces that break off during such a procedure must be handled carefully. Anyone attempting to carry out such a removal project must possess the necessary expertise and knowledge on how to eliminate risk of exposure; otherwise, both the homeowner, as well as the workers, would be susceptible to inhaling harmful asbestos dust.
Currently, there's widespread awareness of the serious health risks associated with inhalation of asbestos fibers. You are likely to develop asbestosis and mesothelioma (a form of cancer). What makes it even more challenging is the fact that such health conditions take several decades to develop.
That's why the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council expects an increased number of cases of asbestos exposure well into the 21st century. By all means, you must avoid any contact with this harmful substance, even if you don't immediately notice its harmful effects.