What Is Asbestos?

As well as EPDM rubber roofing, commercial flat roofing and green roofing the team of specialists here at Flat Roof Experts are also able to bring in an asbestos removal company to remove this dangerous substance before replacing it with a high-quality rubber roof. Asbestos might seem like a thing of the past, a hazardous waste from a bygone era, but you’d be wrong. To date, 5000 deaths a year from asbestos-related illnesses are recorded and if you have a property that was built or refurbished before the year 2000 then you could be working or living near a roof that contains asbestos fibres and asbestos dust. If you’re based in Leeds, Bradford or the surrounding areas of Halifax, Keighley or Wakefield and require asbestos removal and replacement, be sure to get in touch with us here at Flat Roof Experts by phone on 01274 317 109 or online.

What Is Asbestos?

Asbestos is a group of microscopic fibres, called asbestos fibres. They were used in the construction of roofs, buildings and flooring across the UK for many, many years. Sprayed asbestos was used on ceilings and walls also. As of 2000 using asbestos in the construction of buildings is banned. Therefore, buildings built before then may contain harmful asbestos.

If these fibres are accidentally disturbed or damaged, asbestos dust is thrown into the air. This can be breathed in and cause serious health risks and have damaging health effects to your staff or, if it is a domestic roof, to your family.

Left dormant, asbestos poses very little risk but knowing it is there is reason enough to get it removed by a licensed contractor before the team here at Flat Roof Experts replace it with a safe EPDM rubber roof. Rain, storms and other things like the use of power tools or demolition can aggravate asbestos and cause it to linger in the air. Asbestos-related diseases may take decades to appear before they cause serious harm, removal of it from your commercial or domestic roofing is essential to maintaining high health and safety standards.

What Does It Look Like?

Owing to the fact that asbestos materials were used in a variety of products, and in a number of different industrial applications, what it looks like is hard to define. Asbestos flooring and boards can contain up to 25% of the fibres and will be light or dark grey in colour, However, these asbestos types can be painted over so to the naked eye, the bundles of fibres would look perfectly safe.

As thermal insulation, this risk of exposure is high but again, it looks different. The colours to look for are white, brown, grey, and pink. As its thermal insulation, it will look almost fluffy in texture. Finally, asbestos cement sheets is another asbestos type that is common in the UK. These are used on cladding and will be a light & dark grey colour.

This toxic, deadly material is made from naturally occurring asbestos fibres. These fibres are what make up the asbestos product and cannot be damaged by heat, electricity, or long term corrosion. This makes them an effective insulator, but will also pose a serious health risk. Raw asbestos materials are grown all over the world, though the main exporters of it are Russia, China, and Kazakhstan (with Russia making over half of the world’s supply). You can find asbestos minerals in huge quantities, it isn’t something that needs to be looked for very long. The presence of asbestos can also be found in other materials.

A lot of people believe the bundles of fibres are man-made, but, as we’ve established, they are not. The term is used to describe six bundles of fibres that make up these once-popular construction materials. These fibrous minerals are primarily made up of silicon and oxygen, but will often contain other elements.

Due to its insulating properties, vast amounts of asbestos were used before it was banned in 2000. It was used in buildings to insulate them and was also added to fire-retardant coatings, bricks, pipes, fireplace cement, and acid-resistant gaskets. These are just a few examples of what asbestos was used for, there are hundreds more, highlighting the scale of the problem.

Asbestos Types

There are two main asbestos types that are found in the UK. Chrysolite, also known as white asbestos, is used in buildings, homes and roofs. The second type is brown asbestos called Amosite which is used in buildings as thermal insulation.

Crocidolite, blue asbestos, is not very common in the UK and is usually found in Southern Africa.

Why Asbestos Is Dangerous?

Airborne asbestos can be very dangerous because it is microscopic, cannot be seen by the naked eye and can sit in your lungs for years before causing high-level health issues. Asbestos regulations were non-existent before 2000, this meant it was used in a range of different buildings. This widespread usage means it can affect anyone, from employees to family members without them knowing they have been exposed to it.

These once used insulation materials can cause, sadly, an incredible amount of illnesses and symptoms. The effects of exposure can cause anything from shortness of breath to asbestos-related cancers. The effects from exposure are caused because once inhaled, they create scarring on the lungs which can cause serious issues over time.

In general, there are four main illnesses that one can suffer from after coming into contact with asbestos. These will take time to develop and can often be fatal. To date, 20 asbestos-exposed workers a week die from asbestos-related illness. Per year, that’s around 5000 individuals with asbestos-related deaths, which is more than those killed on the road.

The four most common asbestos diseases:

Mesothelioma – This is a type of cancer that affects the lining of the lungs and chest cavity.

Asbestos-related lung cancer – The same as regular lung cancer, which can be caused by cigarette smoke. For every death by Mesothelioma, there is one for lung cancer.

Asbestosis in the chest – This is a scarring of the lungs and is caused by heavy exposure to asbestos.

Pleural Thickening – The pleura, which is the lining of the lungs, thickens and swells which can squeeze the lungs, causing discomfort.

If you suspect that asbestos materials have been disturbed and are airborne, you need to be extremely careful. These airborne asbestos fibres are invisible and will be released into the air. To give you an idea of size, they are roughly 10x smaller than the width of a human hair.

Asbestos materials can linger in the air for anything between 48-72 hours and will eventually settle. However, even a light wind can further disturb the fibres and cause an additional risk of you getting asbestos cancers and diseases if you’re exposed to it for a prolonged period of time. This is why it is so important to contact our team who will put you in touch with asbestos professionals who can dispose of it. Otherwise, you’re never going to be 100% that you aren’t vulnerable to asbestos exposure.

What To Do If Asbestos Is Disturbed

If you suspect that asbestos materials have been disturbed, stop whatever you’re doing immediately. By disturbing it, you have caused a significant health hazard. Everyone should stop what they are doing and a warning sign should be put up so no one accidentally suffers from the hazards of exposure. Then, report the problem to local asbestos experts (alternatively, you could get in touch with us here at Flat Roof Experts. We can put you in touch with someone who will remove it, and then we can replace it with a brand-new EPDM rubber roof). You should then get a sample of it for an official body to test it before getting a licensed contractor to remove it.

How To Identify Asbestos

Unfortunately, asbestos can be hard to identify because it was mixed in amongst other building materials. If you suspect there is asbestos in your floor tiles, garage roofs or insulating boards you must safely send a sample of the material to a certified asbestos testing lab.

You’ll then have a good idea of the danger posed by the material. If asbestos is discovered that is the time to get in touch with us at Flat Roof Experts, we’ll ensure a high-quality contractor comes in to remove the asbestos before we install an EPDM rubber roof.

How Widespread Is Asbestos?

The short answer is very widespread. A huge amount of construction happened across England and Wales before 2000 and because asbestos products like asbestos insulation, cement bonded asbestos and asbestos coating, were all incredibly cheap, they became a favourite among construction companies who would use it to build rows of houses and countless office buildings. Unless you know you live and work in buildings that were built after asbestos was banned in 2000 then you could be around asbestos waste material.

The Benefits Of Asbestos Removal

Our team of experts will get in touch with a trusted asbestos removal company who will come into your commercial or domestic property, remove asbestos and ensure that asbestos waste material is removed and disposed of safely. The contractors we bring in take care to remove the asbestos and leave no trace of it. From ceiling panels to garage roofs they have the tools, knowledge and experience to carefully remove asbestos.

Upon completion, you can relax knowing this hazardous dust has been removed and our team has replaced it with a state-of-the-art roof that poses absolutely no threat to your employees or family.

You could remove the asbestos yourself but the risks are just too great and the investment in the proper protective clothing and other equipment too high.

Disposing of asbestos in buildings is a complicated and delicate procedure. This, among other health risks, is why it has to be done by asbestos professionals. Once the asbestos blankets have been removed, they must be packed in UN-approved packaging and have a CDG (Carriage of Dangerous Goods) label placed on them. They are often double wrapped with a red inner bag and a clear outer bag.

The waste is then transported by people with a waste carrier license who will segregate the asbestos from other general waste, or keep it in a safe that can be locked. It is then taken to a licensed waste disposal site.

    Interested In Removing Asbestos And Replacing It With A EPDM Rubber Roof? Get In Touch With Yorkshire-based Flat Roof Experts

    We hope this blog has helped illuminate some of the issues around asbestos and encouraged you to look into your commercial or domestic property to examine whether asbestos is present. Our 20 years of experience working in the Leeds and Bradford area has allowed us to develop great relationships with high-quality asbestos removal experts. This makes us confident that we can help you.

    If it is and you’re based in Leeds, Bradford or the surrounding areas of Ilkley, Castleford or Wetherby and are looking for asbestos removal from your roofs, be sure to get in touch with us today by phone on 01274 317 109 or online.