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Blog Environmental Issues Asbestos Cement In Siding
Asbestos Cement In Siding
Environmental Issues
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When Portland cement is combined with asbestos fibers, asbestos cement is created. Prior to being banned in the 1970's asbestos cement was used to produce siding. Though only popular for a few years, it could remain on homes today. Many of the health risks associated with general asbestos will apply to this siding as well. Home inspectors should know how to quickly determine the presence of asbestos, and homeowners should learn this as well.

asbestos-building-materialsAsbestos was a very popular building material until it's ban in the 1970'sHistory of Asbestos Cement

Ludwid Hatschek, an engineer from Austria, was the first to develop a method of turning asbestos cement into sheets. This allowed it to be used in making siding and shingles. Years later it became a recommended material, as it was fire resistant. The National Board of Fire Underwriters issued this recommendation. Coming from a trust source, soon sales of asbestos cement siding were on the rise. Homes numbering in the hundreds of thousands would have this type of siding installed by the 1940's. It would not be until the latter part of the 1960's and early part of the 1970's that the media would start alerting the public as to the dangers of asbestos exposure. In 1973, asbestos was banned by the EPA and could no longer be used to create building materials.

Asbestos Cement Health Risks

When inhaled, asbestos fibers can cause a number of problems. Several types of lung cancer are linked to the inhalation of asbestos dust. When in good condition and not disturbed, asbestos typically does not pose any major health risks. However, once it becomes friable and can easily be crushed into powder, it poses serious health risks. It is best to never disturb asbestos, as only professionals with the proper protection and equipment should do so.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Asbestos Cement Siding

Asbestos cement siding is very fire resistant, is resistant to termites, and resistant to rotting. It can easily be painted, and is not hard to clean or maintain. A few of the disadvantages would be that is breaks easily, cannot be refurbished, and repairs may be impossible due to the fact that replacement pieces are no longer sold. Another disadvantage would of course be that it can present a health hazard.

Asbestos Cement Siding Maintenance

Maintenance is very important. The siding should be cleaned frequently. Any breaks or cracks should be sealed immediately to prevent asbestos fibers from becoming airborne. It is highly advisable to allow a professional to complete any necessary repairs. Impact damage may be minimized by using shrubbery or other plants to create a barrier between items and the home.
 
Should your home inspector tell you that asbestos cement siding is in place on a home you are hoping to purchase, an additional inspection may be needed in order to determine the condition of the asbestos. Should it already be in friable condition, removal and total replacement of the siding will be costly. This cost will need to be factored into your home spending budget, and may be cause for seeking a different home instead.

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Darin Redding
Written on Friday, 29 June 2012 00:00 by Darin Redding

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Last Updated on Sunday, 11 August 2013 13:42
 

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