Many products used in older South African buildings contain asbestos fibres. Prior to the promulgation of the Asbestos Regulations in 2008 it was legal to use, manufacture and import asbestos containing materials (ACM’s).
ACM’s were previously used in building materials such as: Roof sheets, roof tiles, gutters and downpipes, fascia and barge boards, eave soffits, ceilings, pipe lagging, window sills, floor tiles and countertops.
Loose asbestos fibres are now recognized worldwide as an extremely dangerous health hazard. Typical examples of conditions and activities which may result in the release of asbestos fibres are:
- Weathered and damaged asbestos containing roof sheeting and roof tiles.
- Cleaning of asbestos-containing roof sheeting and roof tiles.
- Repairs done to asbestos-containing materials.
- Removal of asbestos-containing materials.
Many older roofs of South African homes are clad with corrugated (Big Six profile) or ribbed (Canadian profile) asbestos sheeting. Although the installation of new asbestos roofs is now illegal, existing asbestos roofing may be retained so long as the roof covering remains in good condition.
Since the 1990’s fibre-cement building products, such as roof sheeting and roof tiles, which contain no asbestos, have been manufactured and used in South Africa. These products, similar in appearance to older ACM’s, are safe and legal.
All asbestos roofing and other ACM’s will deteriorate in time. Should HouseCheck home inspectors identify the possible presence of deteriorated ACM’s on the property, then HouseCheck will alert the client so that a registered ACM specialist can evaluate further.
However, it is the property owner who has responsibilities under law for the maintenance and eventual removal of asbestos products. In terms of law, South African property owners must now identify asbestos products on their property, conduct a bi-annual audit of the asbestos products, refurbish damaged asbestos sheeting to seal in (encapsulate) the fibres and safely dispose of asbestos sheeting which has been removed.
Various companies and products are specially licensed as registered asbestos contractors and are skilled in the cleaning, refurbishment, removal and disposal of asbestos roofing.