Identifying Asbestos Roof Tiles Identifying Asbestos Roof Tiles

The main problem with identifying asbestos roof tiles is that it is not exactly accurate to judge by visuals alone. The main reason why asbestos roof tiles need to be replaced by safer alternatives is because the asbestos fibers used to build the material pose a health hazard when inhaled or comes in contact with the skin. Although most asbestos products are not really hazardous per se, they can be when the fibers become airborne. Here are some pieces of information that you may find useful when identifying asbestos roof tiles.

Determine the Age of the Building

This is important because asbestos was only used starting from the early 20’s to the late 80’s. When a building is quite old, it may have a good chance of having asbestos building materials. Since asbestos building materials cannot be easily spotted with the naked eye, the best clue is to find out when the roof was actually built. Asbestos was not fully recognized as a health hazard up until the late 80’s when certain cancers have been linked its exposure. Therefore, old buildings do have a big chance of having this hazardous material. Usual areas that use asbestos building materials include those that need protection from fire. Because of its flame retardant qualities, it has been used around fireplaces and even exterior walls and roofs. 

What Color is Asbestos?

Asbestos is actually whitish, grayish or whitish blue in color. However, when mixed with other materials, it may be impossible to know whether asbestos has been added or not. Generally, tiles containing asbestos do have a gray, white, or bluish-white color.

Providing Samples for Lab Check

The only way to safely know whether the roof tiles contain asbestos or not is to have a sample professionally checked under a microscope that uses polarized light. When taking a sample, be very careful because asbestos dust can get into the lungs and cause cancer. Therefore, when deciding to get a sample, do so with certain precautions.

First of all, wear rubber gloves and a mask if necessary. To make the tiles safe for cutting, spray them with soapy water. The water will cause the fibers to remain intact even when the tile is cut. Find an inconspicuous area in the roofing and mark a square inch of tile. Cut the tile carefully and place it in a plastic container. Take the sample to an asbestos testing laboratory. Do not worry about the costs because tests do not cost an arm and a leg. If the tile has less than 1% of asbestos, then the results are negative. Just to make sure, take two or three samples for comparison.

Removing Asbestos Roof Tiles

When replacing the tiles with safer options, do not do so carelessly. Make sure to prevent the fibers from becoming airborne to avoid safety concerns. It is better to leave the task to trained professionals who can handle the situation safely. Unless you have the necessary skills, ask for professional service instead.

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