Are Asbestos Shingles on a Home Dangerous?

Asbestos is a mineral that was used for more than a century to create fire-resistant building materials.

Condition

One building material that sometimes contains asbestos can be found on the roofs of many older homes: shingles. Because exposure to asbestos can cause cancer, many homeowners are concerned about the safety of having asbestos shingles on their roof.

If the asbestos shingles are in good condition (i.e., not broken or damaged in some way), they are generally considered safe. It is only when asbestos shingles are in poor condition that they may release airborne asbestos fibers.

Asbestos Shingle Removal

Because an improper asbestos removal job can actually increase the odds of releasing asbestos fibers into the air, you should hire a licensed asbestos abatement specialist to take on the project.

Damaged Asbestos Shingles

If asbestos shingles on your home are damaged, do not allow anyone except a trained professional to access, touch or walk on the roof. Call an asbestos professional as soon as possible to seal off the area and prevent further release of asbestos fibers.

Shingle Composition

Asbestos roofing materials, including shingles, are usually composed of less than 30 percent asbestos. Asbestos shingles are often made from Transite, a material composed of Portland cement and asbestos, as well as other filler materials.

Long-term Health Effects

Exposure to asbestos, even in small amounts, may lead to lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, pleural plaques, mesothelioma and other forms of cancer. This health risks increase if the person exposed is also a smoker.

About the Author

Tucker Cummings is a freelance writer based in New England. She holds two Bachelor of Arts degrees from the University of New Hampshire and is a member of the Association of Professional Business Writers. Cummings is also a food writer and curates the blog, Brave New Breakfast.