Asbestos refers to a group of fibrous materials which are naturally occurring. These fibrous materials have high tensile strength and flexibility; they are widely used for roofing because they are resistant to heat, chemicals, and electricity.
The construction industry generally uses asbestos, such as in pipe installations, sprayed-on fireproofing, floor tiles, cement pipes and sheets, ceiling tiles, fire-resistant drywall, drywall joint compounds, roofing felts and shingles, and acoustical products.
Although widely used for years, the use of asbestos is declining, and today, very few installed products contain the material because they pose serious health risks. Which is why exposure to asbestos now is likely to come from the removal of asbestos, and during the renovation and maintenance of buildings and structures that contain asbestos.
Asbestos is hazardous to human health. So much, in fact, that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration of the US Department of Labor has established mandatory work practices for employers to follow to reduce workers’ exposure it. And there are training programs such as the Hazwoper 24 hour training course by OSHA to provide education on health hazards.
There are four classes defined by OSHA, each with more stringent control requirements than the last.
Class I: This type of work involves the removal of asbestos-containing thermal system insulation and sprayed-on or troweled-on surfacing materials. Workers performing removal task in pre-1981 construction must presume that insulation and surfacing material is ACM.
Class II: This type of work includes removal of ACM types of resilient flooring and roofing materials that are not thermal system insulation.
Class III: Includes the repair and maintenance where ACM or presumed ACM are disturbed.
Class IV: Defines the cleanup work in which asbestos-containing waste and debris gathered up during the construction, maintenance, or repair work of a structure.
Pros of Using Asbestos Roof
Asbestos is naturally occurring, so it is inexpensive to implement in homes and other products. For ages now, it has been widely used in the construction industry, such as for industrial, residential, and commercial spaces. Its widespread usage also comes from the fact that asbestos is not only inexpensive but is very easy to clean and maintain.
It does not burn easily. The fire-resistant property comes naturally to asbestos. It makes for an ideal solution for roofing, flooring, and thermal insulations. It is also resistant to electricity, making it perfect for installing near electrical outlets. Using asbestos as an additive with materials such as cement increases the lifespan of the product which is generally known as asbestos cement. And In addition to being highly durable and weather resistant, asbestos is also resistant to damage from termites.
When compared to plastic or wood, it provides better longevity.
Cons of Using Asbestos
There is little reason not to use asbestos, but the one reason that exists is big enough to deter industries from using asbestos in their construction work. There exist invisible micro-particles in asbestos that mix with air, and if inhaled for a long period and continuous span of time, can lead to serious health hazards.
The health hazards include lung cancer and mesothelioma. The latter is a rare type of cancer that occurs in the lungs; it affects the lining of the lungs, heart, or even abdomen. It is cancer listed as occurring from exposure to asbestos. There is currently no cure for mesothelioma, but prognosis has improved slowly over the years.
OSHA outlines strict guidelines for employees to follow to ensure employees’ health. The United States has outright banned some asbestos products.
Cost of Removing Asbestos
The cost of changing asbestos starts from $500 and can go up to $4500 depending on the area per square meter, location, and the resources required for the job. Labor costs can range from $200 to $700 per hour.
It sounds too much for a simple removal procedure, but the high price comes from the fact that asbestos is hazardous and thus requires special safety gear, including respirators, disposable gloves, rubber boots, eyewear, etc.
Only skilled workers must repair damaged asbestos. Due to the hazardous nature of the material, it is strictly advised for individuals with no proper training to stay clear of contacting such structures.
For employers of construction industries, the 24-hour HAZWOPER training is a very useful resource for employers to educate employees about the hazards associated with asbestos and what safety protocols to follow.