Asbestos is a toxic substance that has been linked to several diseases, including various types of cancer. It is a natural mineral, and has been used in numerous products for decades. Asbestos was used in kitchenware, insulation, fireproofing and piping, and many other applications. Asbestos felt or roofing felt is a mixture of asbestos and asphalt used to form a protective layer between the sheathing of the roof and the shingles.
Asbestos felt can be dangerous when handled improperly. Chances are that if it is on the roof, the residents of the house will not come into direct contact with it, and it is nonfriable. The term “nonfriable” refers to the ability of product to remain intact and not crumble. Generally, asbestos felt cannot be torn apart with bare hands. However, weather damage can soften the material and make it subject to breakage. When an asbestos-containing product breaks into pieces, the particles become airborne. Asbestos particles are hazardous when airborne, because it is the inhalation of asbestos that causes illness.
Exposure to asbestos can lead to several diseases, including asbestosis, a condition that causes scarring of the lungs, and several forms of cancer, including lung cancer, stomach cancer, rectal cancer and mesothelioma, a rare form of cancer that affects the lining of the chest and abdomen.
If you think the asbestos felt on your roof may be damaged, it is important to seek professional help immediately. It is not recommended that you remove any asbestos materials on your own. Likewise, you should never cut, saw, sand or otherwise break apart the materials, as this will send asbestos fibers into the air. Asbestos exposure is a serious matter and if you think there are asbestos-containing materials in your home or workplace, bring it to someone’s attention immediately.