Asbestos is a natural fibrous material important in many different industries until the turn of the century. It was used for amongst others brake linings, installing drywall, shipbuilding, and in roof insulation. It was only in the 1990s that people became aware of asbestos’ dangerous carcinogenic effects, and it was banned entirely in the UK in the year 2000. Unfortunately the material had already been used for over fifty years, and we are still dealing with the after effects today.
Asbestos kills 5000 workers every year, and 20 tradesmen die each week simply from past exposure. Asbestos inhalation can cause a variety of respiratory problems, the most serious of which is lung cancer. Any structure which was built or refurbished before the year 2000 can potentially contain asbestos, so how can you find out if you have an asbestos problem in your building’s roof?
Asbestos is found in a variety of roofing components both indoors and outdoors. Interior ceilings were sometimes sprayed with an asbestos coating, and Asbestos Insulating Board was often used as a form of ceiling tile. On roofs themselves asbestos cement can be frequently found in the form of panels, gutters, insulation, roof shingles, siding, downpipes, or the entire roof itself. This government guide contains a useful diagram to identify where asbestos may be present on your property.
What Does It Look Like?
When mixed with other materials asbestos can be hard to detect, but in its regular form it comes in blue, brown, and white varieties. It is at its most dangerous when the small fibres are disturbed and become airborne through use of a drill or cutting equipment, so if in doubt avoid tampering with it. Airborne asbestos has no particular smell and is hard to spot, and the effects of inhaling it won’t show up for many years to come. Take a look at this useful gallery to help you identify asbestos; it could save your life.
How Can I Look For It?
You should never undertake a visual inspection yourself, and if you do stumble across something which may be asbestos do not attempt to disturb it. Any suspected asbestos fibres should only be investigated by a PASMA trained specialist. What you can do is try to track down any plans or documentation regarding your building, as these may contain vital clues as to the whereabouts of any asbestos on site.
What Happens If Asbestos Is Detected?
At Roofing Consultants we provide a full asbestos testing procedure to safely remove any samples from your site, which you can find more details of here. Our team removes potential asbestos samples using safe methods which limit the amount of asbestos particles released into the air. Any suspected asbestos is then transported in sealed containers and taken to be tested by our certified partners. Areas which have been damaged by the removal of materials are then made safe and weatherproof to prevent further disruption to your business.
Despite the dangers asbestos discovery is no cause for alarm as long as you treat it correctly and with respect. During our survey we can advise you on how to continue operating in its presence in a safe manner. Once the survey is completed we can then provide you with further advice on whether you require a full asbestos roof refurbishment or a simple small repair.
We specialise in a swift and un-intrusive method of commercial asbestos testing. If you feel your property may be at risk, contact one of our experts today and book a free site survey on 0800 046 1500.