Asbestos in Roofing Materials

A U.S. based contractor was recently fined for directing his workers to illegally dispose of hazardous waste, including the burning of roof shingles containing asbestos. The shingles had come from a renovation project his company had completed.

Contractors are particularly susceptible to asbestos exposure from roofing simply because of all the renovation projects they enter into. However, asbestos roofing materials were widely used through the 20th century, and anyone with a home 20 years older or more in particular should suspect that their roofing may contain asbestos. Even where the roofing is newer, it’s common practice in “DIY” or do-it-yourself situations to simply add a new layer of shingles onto existing layers. It’s not uncommon to find 3 or 4 layers of shingles on an older roof!

Asbestos in Roofing Materials
In actual fact, what is often called asbestos roofing is actually composed of a number of materials, including other mineral fibres and cement. The actual asbestos content ranged from manufacturer to manufacturer. In addition to the tiles themselves, asbestos can often be found in the putty or sealant used on the roof as well as a material known as “roofing felt” which was used on flat or pitched roofs.

It may seem crazy now, but asbestos was once considered the ideal material for construction materials, and for roofing in particular. It’s nearly indestructible and can withstand heat, moisture and normal wear and tear in a way that seems miraculous. It was only after workers who had been exposed to the material over decades began to develop the symptoms of deadly and incurable lung cancer that its hidden nature became known.

The material is not considered hazardous as long as it’s in tact. However, scratches, scrapes and any deterioration can result in the material becoming “friable”, meaning the asbestos can crumble. The danger to your health comes from inhaling asbestos fibres.

Call the Experts
Be safe rather than sorry – if your home was built before the 1980`s, then assume that it may contain asbestos in a variety of locations and call in the experts from GreenStream Environmental Services for help before any renovations. Please DO NOT DISTURB OR HANDLE the material in question. There is no “safe” level of exposure.

At GreenStream Environmental Services, we offer professional vermiculite and asbestos remediation services. In the Toronto area contact GreenStreamEnvironmental.ca at (416) 818-9414.

Featured in Mike Holmes’ magazine, HGTV’s Income Properties, W Network’s Love It Or List It and chosen by Homestars.com as “Best Toronto Asbestos Removal Company” based on customer ratings and reviews, GreenStream Environmental Services are fully-certified, trusted and insured professionals in the removal and disposal of commercial, industrial, institutional and residential asbestos, vermiculite and mould (hazardous and non-hazardous). Providing emergency service 24/7/365 for all of Toronto and the GTA (North York, Mississauga, Markham, Brampton, Scarborough, Ajax, Oshawa, and beyond) GreenStream has over 40 combined years of experience serving clients such as the City of Toronto, the Toronto District School Board and many more. For a free estimate in Toronto, the GTA and Southern Ontario, call today at 416-818-9414.  You’ll be glad you did.