Asbestos was first thought to be used a staggering 750,000 years ago, for the wicks of candles. And from that point, the naturally occurring fibrous material was used extensively.

Why was asbestos used in construction?

Everyone from the Ancient Egyptians right through to modern day construction workers saw the benefits of using asbestos.

And with these benefits include:

Cheap
Widely available
Strong
Insulating
Fire resistant
Heat resistant
Sound absorbing

Because of how versatile and great it was, asbestos was used in over 3000 products, from cement and insulation, to mattresses and other textured materials.

The dangers of asbestos

Whilst asbestos was used extensively in construction work until well into the 20th Century, the Romans were actually one of the first to recognise the dangers of asbestos, referring to a ‘sickness of the lungs.’

Long-term exposure to asbestos eventually leads to scarring of the lungs, known as asbestosis. Symptoms of this include:

shortness of breath
persistent cough
wheezing
extreme tiredness (fatigue)
pain in your chest or shoulder

Unfortunately, there’s no cure for asbestosis once it has developed, as it’s not possible to reverse the damage to the lungs. And it can actually lead to lung cancer.

Because asbestos-related illnesses take time to develop, symptoms were showing in those exposed decades earlier. But by the 1970s and 1980s, pressure was really mounting to bring an asbestos ban into place.

UK ban on asbestos

Blue (crocidolite) and brown (amosite) asbestos were the first to be banned in 1985. However, white (chrysotile) asbestos was not included in this initial ban.

Asbestos was only fully banned in the UK construction industry in 1999, including the use of white asbestos, making the manufacture and supply of all asbestos products illegal in the UK.

However, this only meant that asbestos materials could not be used in any future construction projects. It didn’t mean asbestos had to be removed from existing buildings. Existing asbestos materials can stay in use until they reach the end of their service life and so the material can still be found in many buildings across the UK.

What to do with asbestos roofing systems

Roofing was one of the most common uses for asbestos and so it’s found in various roofing systems. The reason why this is an issue, is because due to their age, the roofs, can begin to deteriorate causing hazardous materials to become introduced to the surrounding environment. This can pose dangers to workers as well as compromising your roof’s safety and performance,

If you suspect that you have an asbestos roofing system you should get it checked out right away.

We can complete an asbestos roof survey to test whether or not your roof contains asbestos. Asbestos testing is done by qualified experts. We’ll ensure that you are notified of the results at the first available opportunity and provide you with advice on how to resolve any highlighted issues.

If your roof does contain asbestos then we can help.

Asbestos overcladding is a cost effective roof refurbishment process that minimises the disruption at site and reduces the costly disposal of the existing asbestos roof sheeting that must be sent to licensed landfill.

Within the asbestos roof coating process, we insulate the roof to current warm roof regulations to make our clients more thermal efficient. During the asbestos overcladding process, we can also renew existing and new outer rooflights to maximise the natural daylight within the building.

For more information on our asbestos roof overcladding services, contact us at Roofing Consultants Group.