Is Asbestos Roofing Harmful?
Your Guide to Asbestos And It’s Risks
Are you concerned about the presence of asbestos and whether asbestos roofing is harmful?
In this guide on asbestos roofing, we cover everything you need to know including:
- What Asbestos is
- Is asbestos roofing harmful? The health effects and risks
- How to tell if your roof is asbestos
- How much it costs to remove asbestos
What is Asbestos?
Many UK properties including homes, residential garages and commercial buildings still contain asbestos to this day.
And there’s a good reason why.
Asbestos is a construction material used throughout the 20th century for both commercial and residential building projects.
It was favoured by tradesmen because of how cheap it was to install (since it could be mined locally in the UK), and was great for homeowners as it was long-lasting, durable, and held up to the cold British winters.
In fact, asbestos was by definition, fit for purpose.
That was until we realised the harmful effects of its tiny, microscopic fibres.
Asbestos Roof Examples:
Do You Have an Asbestos Garage Roof?
Get a quote to replace your old asbestos garage roof with a 100% watertight roofing system.
Is Asbestos Roofing Harmful to Humans?
Although harmful, if left undisturbed asbestos only poses a small risk to your heath – depending on which type of asbestos it is.
It is more of a risk when damaged, moved, or disturbed.
This is when the asbestos fibres are released into the air and breathed into the lungs.
Known as the ‘silent killer’, it is estimated that 20 tradesman die each week to past exposure to asbestos.
When inhaled, the fibres do not decompose and so remain lodged inside the lung. This may lead to long-term lung damage via the following fatal diseases:
- Asbestos-related lung cancer
- Non-malignant plural disease
Who Is Most At-Risk?
You are at a higher risk of asbestos-related illness if you are exposed to asbestos for a long period of time.
This is common for tradesmen who may have worked with asbestos over several years. For example, plumbers, builders, or roofers.
It is vital that you are aware of where asbestos is commonly found for this reason.
For more information on who is at risk, please see the Health and Safety Executive campaign on asbestos awareness.
Where is Asbestos Roofing Commonly Found?
Here in the UK, asbestos was widely used in the construction of both residential and commercial building projects.
Asbestos roofing is most often found in garage roof panels and outbuildings. Even in 2023 there are estimated to be 1000s of garage roofs still containing asbestos.
You can spot an asbestos roof from the corrugated panels as well as a few other signs that we detail below.
How to Tell if Your Garage Roof is Asbestos
Due to its similarities with other materials such as cement fibre, it is difficult to tell if your garage roof is asbestos.
However, there are some subtle signs that can give you an idea of asbestos being present:
- Your garage or house roof was constructed in the 20th century
- Corrugated roofing panels
- Lichen growth on top of the roof
If you suspect asbestos in your garage roof, consulting a trained professional is highly recommended. There are suitable replacements for asbestos roof sheets such as steel, rubber, and GRP.
In the meantime, do not try to remove or dispose of it yourself and take precautions to not disturb the asbestos fibres.
Are All Corrugated Roofing Panels Asbestos?
Although corrugated panels are a tell-tale sign of asbestos, it is common for a number of other roofing sheets to incorporate this style such as steel or cement-fibre.
As such, not all corrugated roofing panels are asbestos.
If you suspect corrugated asbestos roofing in your home or garage roof, please consult a professional.
Is it Safe to Walk on an Asbestos Roof?
There are two reasons why you don’t want to walk on an asbestos roof. First, it will disturb the panels and make the harmful fibres go airborne.
Second, asbestos was used throughout the 1900s. As such, the panels are now old, degrading, and nearing the end of their days.
Walking on an asbestos roof risks breaking the panel and falling through, leading to a serious injury if you’re not careful.
How Much Does it Cost to Remove Asbestos?
Removing asbestos depends on the size of the panels and scale of the work involved.
For example, replacing an asbestos roof sheet may be a much easier job than digging out asbestos that is trapped inside the walls, since the walls are integral to keeping the building upright.
For a simple job like an asbestos garage roof replacement, you can safely remove the roof and replace it with a new one.
This re-instates the usability of your garage at the cost of around £2000, depending on the size of the garage.
Our discussion on the health effects of asbestos does not constitute health advice and is a reflection of our research from third-party sources and our experience in asbestos removal. Our research is derived from information provided by the British Lung Foundation, NHS England and other health organisations. If you feel you may be at risk to asbestos exposure, please seek professional medical advice.