Asbestos, once a cornerstone in the construction industry for its remarkable heat and fire-resistant properties, has a darker side, particularly in roofing applications. This naturally occurring mineral, while offering strength and durability, harbors significant health risks that have led to its decline in use.

The Dangers of Asbestos in Roofing Materials

In the past, asbestos was a common component in roofing materials, particularly cement tiles, which contained about 10 to 15 percent asbestos. Homes built before the 1970s often featured these asbestos-laden roofs, boasting a lifespan of 30 to 50 years. However, the durability of these roofs masked a lurking hazard.

Health Implications of Asbestos Exposure

The primary concern with asbestos is its potential to cause serious health issues. When asbestos fibers become airborne and inhaled, they can accumulate in the lungs and abdomen, leading to inflammation, scarring, and severe diseases like lung cancer. The minuscule nature of these fibers makes them particularly perilous, as they can easily become airborne during activities like roofing installation or repairs.

Identifying and Testing for Asbestos in Roofs

Determining the presence of asbestos in roofing is a task for professionals. Environmental consulting firms or specialized asbestos inspectors are equipped to take samples for laboratory testing. Due to the microscopic size of asbestos fibers, professional testing is essential, as visual inspections are insufficient.

Managing Asbestos in Existing Roofing

For homeowners discovering asbestos in their roofing, the decision to remove or maintain it depends on its condition. Undisturbed asbestos in good condition may not pose immediate health risks. However, if the roofing is damaged or deteriorating, it’s vital to consult with roofing experts, like Benson Contracting located in Glens Falls, NY, to evaluate the situation and decide on the safest course of action.

Safe Removal and Alternatives to Asbestos Roofing

The removal of asbestos roofing should always be handled by professionals, adhering to strict safety protocols to prevent fiber release. Modern roofing technologies offer safer, more sustainable alternatives, ensuring both durability and the health safety of occupants.

The Shift Away from Asbestos in Modern Roofing

The recognition of asbestos’s health hazards has led to its ban in many countries. Today, roofing companies prioritize the use of safer materials, moving away from asbestos to ensure the well-being of homeowners. This shift marks a significant step in the construction industry, aligning safety with innovation.


The legacy of asbestos in roofing is a reminder of the balance between material benefits and health risks. While it served a purpose in the past, the move towards safer, more sustainable roofing materials is a positive change for the construction industry and homeowners alike.