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Is There Asbestos on My Roof?
Have you wondered if the home you live in might be hazardous to your health? If you live in a house that was built before 1985, chances are that your home’s roofing may contain asbestos. A naturally occurring mineral found across the United States and all over the world, asbestos became a prized material in the home building industry in the early 1900s because its silk-like fibers are fire-resistant, sound-resistant, corrosion-resistant and incredibly strong.
Asphalt Roof Shingles
The popularity of asphalt roof shingles impregnated with asbestos fibers exploded when the National Board of Fire Underwriters campaigned in 1916 to eliminate wood-shingled roofs because they were a fire hazard. The new, asbestos-laden, asphalt-shingled tabs were easy for any homeowner to install and came in a variety of machine-cut shapes, sizes and colors. From the 1940s on, some asphalt-saturated roofing felt, which was laid beneath the shingles to provide additional insulation, fire resistance and protection from the elements, was also reinforced with asbestos fiber. Even some roof tar, used for sealing gaps around pipes, vents and chimneys and available in black, silver and white from any hardware store, contained asbestos from 1950 through 1980.
Unfortunately, when doctors first tried to spread the word that inhaling or ingesting asbestos fibers could cause lung diseases, many manufacturers purposely suppressed medical reports and ignored the evidence. They continued to put the toxic fiber in their building products up through the 1970s and failed to warn their employees or the public about its dangers. Even the National Building Code, which required the use of asbestos roofing in all federally financed homes, such as those underwritten by the Veterans Administration, did not remove the asbestos-requirement regulation until 1985.
The Switch to Fiberglass
When manufacturers finally succumbed to pressure from the Environmental Protection Agency and the medical community about the cancer-causing dangers of asbestos, roofing companies began to make the switch to fiberglass shingles and asphalt roofing without asbestos. But many older homes still have their asbestos-shingled roofs. If you are planning to re-roof an older home, you should know that cutting, sawing, drilling or tearing out the old asphalt-asbestos tab shingles may release dust into the air you breathe. Once airborne, asbestos fibers can be inhaled into the lungs, where they have the potential to cause severe diseases, including lung cancer and mesothelioma.
Moving into or living in a home covered with asbestos roofing is not inherently dangerous. If the roof is in good condition, you can leave it alone. But if your shingles are crumbling or your home improvement projects this year include replacing your aging roof, contact your county’s health department or a certified roofer to determine your local regulations for testing and safe abatement. While it might be legal in your state to remove an asbestos roof yourself, be sure to follow your municipality’s safety requirements to the letter if you choose to do so.
If you or someone you love has been affected by mesothelioma cancer caused by asbestos, you might be able to take legal action against the asbestos manufacturers responsible for your suffering. Please contact Baron & Budd online or call 855-280-7664 to learn more.