Many of us, often without knowing it, are living with some asbestos either in our homes, schools, workplaces and even hospitals so it makes sense to try and understand the real dangers posed by the different types of asbestos. And if you have to make a decision about what to do with asbestos on your premises, whether residential or industrial, you can make a more informed choice.
There are two main types of asbestos – friable and non-friable. Friable asbestos is the type that can be crumbled into small pieces with minimal pressure and, therefore, releases particles into the air which can be inhaled. This is the particularly dangerous type which can cause respiratory and lung disease such as mesothelioma and asbestosis.
Non-friable asbestos on the other hand will only release fibres into the air if it is broken up with tools or damaged in some way. This is why the advice given to anyone with an asbestos water tank in their home (at least in the UK) is to leave the tank in place and install a new tank alongside because breaking up the old asbestos cement tank to remove it from the loft poses a greater risk than leaving it in-situ. For an industrial roof there is good advice available both in terms of safety and cost regarding replacing the whole roof or leaving the existing asbestos roof in place and coating it with one of the commercially available products that are available.
Different countries have different regulations about the removal or repair of asbestos roofs and other asbestos-containing materials (ACMs). But what they have in common is the necessity to wear protective respiratory equipment and protective clothing such as overalls, gloves and footwear, and for those working with ACMs to be properly trained.
So whilst the thought of asbestos in your home or workplace may be worrying, if it is of the non-friable type and has not been damaged or altered in any way then the danger it poses is minimal.
If, on the other hand, industrial roofing that has become damaged or well-worn over time there may be no other option but to replace it completely using a trained and approved contractor who will follow the appropriate regulations.
Of course, another option for roofs with little damage or wear and tear is to repair it – there are many ethical and reputable companies who can offer advice on whether an asbestos roof repair is a viable option for your industrial or commercial premises. Depending on the state of your roof there are a number of different repair options such as over-cladding with a metal roof, using a coating such as Fibroseal to encapsulate the asbestos fibres or using a long-lasting tape to fix minor leaks. So an industrial roof repair does not have to be a difficult or expensive job.