How Boston Roofers Deal with Asbestos in Massachusetts

How Boston Roofers Deal with Asbestos in Massachusetts

When it comes to the dangers involved in being a roofer, you probably think of things like falling or the extreme weather that can occur in Massachusetts. Would it surprise you to learn that one of the greatest dangers to roofers — not just in Boston or Massachusetts but all over the U.S. — is invisible and can be undetected for decades?

Many roofing shingles and tiles contain asbestos.

This excellent insulator and fireproofer is, unfortunately, also a deadly carcinogen.

Risk of Asbestos Exposure for Roofers

Asbestos is lightweight, durable, and cheap. It has excellent fireproofing capabilities and is an especially good insulator. It’s a fantastic product, so it’s no wonder that it has been used extensively in construction — and roofing — worldwide since its useful qualities were discovered in the early 20th century.

Another discovery about it, however, was kept secret from the public until the 1970s: Asbestos can cause cancer. It’s the only known cause of mesothelioma, a deadly form of cancer that can go undetected for 20-50 years after exposure.

Did You Know? The companies that made and manufactured asbestos products could no longer hide the dangers of asbestos by the mid-70s. After that, asbestos was used less and less in roofing products. Asbestos was rare in roofing materials after the 1980s, and all roofing products on the U.S. market have been free of asbestos since 2000.

How Asbestos is Dangerous to Boston Roofers

Two types of asbestos may be in some older roofing materials: friable and non-friable.

Friable roofing materials easily break apart and disintegrate. Because they fall apart so easily, these materials produce airborne asbestos fibers, which can be inhaled or swallowed.

Friable roofing materials can include:

  • Roof paint
  • Roof paper
  • Sprayed insulation

Non-friable materials are more stable and should not break apart as easily. They can be damaged, however, and create the same risks of inhalation or ingestion. Damage that can make non-friable asbestos airborne can occur from removal, demolition, bad weather, or excessive wear.

Non-friable roofing materials can include:

  • Cement roofing or paneling
  • Mastics
  • Patching compounds
  • Transite or CAV

With asbestos being removed from all roofing materials in the U.S. for over 20 years, you may think there’s nothing to worry about. Unfortunately, roofers may still be at risk of developing mesothelioma.

The odds are pretty high that you’ve worked on a roof from before 2000 at some point. Since it can take decades — 10-50 years — between exposure to asbestos and the development of mesothelioma or lung cancer, roofers may have been exposed for decades already. Because of the lifespan of some roofs, there may even be some asbestos-containing products still in use in the Boston area.

Roofers exposed to asbestos should consult a doctor if they start to experience the following symptoms:

  • Chest pain
  • Chronic phlegm
  • Lingering or persistent cough
  • Shortness of breath

These symptoms can be easily attributed to other illnesses, which contributes to the long latency period for mesothelioma. Detecting mesothelioma, asbestosis, or lung cancer early, however, can greatly increase the prognosis.

Massachusetts Asbestos Regulations

Massachusetts regulates asbestos closely. The state requires any project involving asbestos — including removal and disposal — to notify the Department of Environmental Protection and the Department of Labor Standards.

The state also provides a searchable database of records for asbestos projects so that roofers, construction workers, companies, and the public can see all asbestos projects for themselves.

Boston Roofers and Mesothelioma — Staying Safe

The possibility that roofers were exposed to asbestos in the past is sadly a real one. The companies that made asbestos products knew about the risks of exposure — of mesothelioma and other cancers and diseases — and hid that knowledge from the public. They chose to continue making money over doing the right thing.

When, decades later, the truth came out, they became potentially liable to all the people they harmed through their selfish actions.

So, if you’re a roofer working now, try to be aware of any time you’re working with asbestos products. When you may be, take precautions.

If you get a diagnosis for any diseases that asbestos can cause, however, it’s not too late to take action. You may be entitled to compensation from the companies that covered up the risks — compensation that can pay for treatment and your suffering.

A good mesothelioma attorney can help you understand your options and take some action to hold the companies that harmed you accountable for their lies. There are many good options, but if you’re in Boston, you can try a local Boston mesothelioma firm before you search elsewhere.

Keep the signs and symptoms of asbestos-related illnesses in mind if you’ve been working on roofs for more than a few years — and especially since before 2000. The eariler you can detect mesothelioma and other illnesses the better your treatment options and prognosis will be.