Asbestos in Felt Roofing & Flooring

Many different construction materials can be encountered, whether at home or in the office. Felt roofing was a construction often used in housing projects because it provided additional fireproofing.

Asbestos-containing felt has proven particularly dangerous because if it is destroyed or damaged, the material becomes friable, which can release into the air easily. This is when it becomes the most dangerous.

Widespread Application

Asbestos-containing felts became especially popular due to its lightweight nature and fireproofing capabilities. In addition, if added to cement, asbestos improved strength. This was used in shingles with felt below it serving to improve water resistance from nature’s elements. 

In some cases, asbestos-containing products were also used in flooring. For example, these products were commonly used to pad or insulate tiles. Adding this to building materials helped to make them stronger so that they would be more durable. 

The Dangers

The United States government banned the use of these products in 1978, after finding it had many correlations with lung cancer and mesothelioma. Some of the most common places where these materials were commonly used include:

  • Schools
  • Homes
  • Offices
  • Pipe systems

Construction: Where Did They Use It?

Asbestos-containing materials were used in construction materials for many years because of its strength and ability to withstand temperatures of up to 1600 degrees Fahrenheit. Additionally, it works well for waterproofing homes. These factors made it the ideal choice for siding, roofing and piping as it also provided excellent durability against weathering. Homes with the greatest risk were built from the 1900s on to the 1970s, when the use of these products were at their height. 

Some of the places where you could encounter it included:

  • Generators
  • Panels
  • Sheetrock
  • Valves
  • Tar paper
  • Plaster
  • Filler
  • Flashing

Asbestos roofing cement is expected to last anywhere from 30 years to 50 years, meaning that some of the hazards most likely exist even today. However, one roofing study found that when the carcinogenic fibers have been properly encapsulated in felt roofing, they pose no threat. This becomes a bigger concern when they start to break down.