Anyone dealt twith cement/asbestos mix - roof sheets, who has some ideas about removal, sans risk?


I am a Chartered Surveyor working here since 2005 doing pre purchase surveys. The diagnostic checks provide by the vendor often recognise asbestos cement roof sheeting and has been mentioned by others it is not a dangerous form of asbestos unless disturbed - so why are you wishing to remove it?

Most diagnostic experts simply advise "periodic Inspection" within their reports and removal is not insisted upon.

There are other everyday products which contain traces of asbestos such as artex ceiling finishes and vinyl tiles. The dangerous forms of asbestos are the insulating materials used in abundance in boiler rooms etc and as a fireproofing system on steel structures - often in public buildings such as schools and hospitals - the asbestos fibres can be dangerous when the insulation breaks down and the fibres become airborne.

Asbestos cement roof sheets are not in that category.

Ours in cracking and crumbling. We have been told that it will eventually be a health hazard by someone who has no interest whatsoever because he is retired, cannot do it and so on but knows about the stuff incidental to his old business where most of his large hangars were roofed with it but the authorities made him change.

Forbidden Mike, it leeches dust and fibres into areas where the water runs. Peter, the regulations are changing to conform with ILO Convention 162 and decheteries who have the facilities are gradually being made to only accept from contractors. What was done until recently is not going to happen much longer, possibly even legally within months. Since dumping the stuff is now a criminal offence we are all driven into a corner, which is precisely why we have no choice but to find a lot of money we cannot actually afford to have it done by contractors.

DIY is not officially recommended but if you decide to do that, give it a good hose down first - much less dangerous when wet........

Use protective clothing to dismantle the asbestos and then ask your Mairie where the asbestos can be dumped. Some areas have their own disposal sites or more likely tthey will recommend a private company who will either allow you to dump it at their place or maybe even collect it. My local tip is very strict nowadays with user cards etc so it is now impossible to 'sneak' anything in without them spotting it so be careful !

Agreed Mike, hence the question has to be removed of personal preference.

For many years white asbestos/cement sheets were the material of choice for roofing outbuildings and industrial premises. There must be thousands of tons of this stuff, illegally dumped or buried on farms. Now it must be disposed of legally as it comes under the same regulations as blue asbestos.

When I was considering buying a house with an asbestos/cement tiled roof, I was told that this material is relative safe when left alone. The trouble starts when it is cut, or otherwise disturbed. So, if I wasn't planning to sell, and the sheets were in good condition, I would consider leaving them alone. The risks are probably less than working as a potter, handling mouldy hay, or coming into contact with many of the airborne hazards that we regularly encounter - not to mention tobacco smoking!

Jeanette. Has it got be removed or is this your preference. My daughter in the UK is a specialist asbestos surveyor, she does this for a living, she reports, tests and advises. You do realise that it can be painted and sealed. Obviously I don't know an awful lot about this coating, she is the specialist but, I could find out for you if it is purely a safety issue.

We need a complete rebuilt roof including all the woodwork, taking down and putting back up our solar tubes and all. 18K for everything, of which we were quoted 1.6K for the asbestos dismantled and removed.

mmm the cost - that must be keeping thousands of rotting asbestos sheets fixed up, that would be better for everyone - trashed right away....please can you tell me the quote you had, for your roof, Brian?

Ive got no idea how much pro *désamiantage* might cost... Ive googled it - for my region (brittany) - and there seems to be just one bloke, about 250 kms away.

Regrettably, as we know with an asbestos roof deteriorating quite fast and our solar collectors on it and all kinds of structural other things we need to have changed with it. The quote we had a while ago was scary, the guy who is likely to redo the roof will arrange for specialists to do it for us. Our 'ordinary builders' who were willing to do it quoted us far more than the roofer, so they will not be doing it. That much we know. Where we find the money is an entirely different question.

Im so grateful to you all for writing about this - as it is helping me think it through.

I suppose it may NOT be a good idea to ask the part timers to do it - because they may simply *not* be interested enough, in keeping the rules or listening to my safety lecture, and it would be impossible not to feel responsible if they take risks.

The thing is - I would not mind at all - doing the job myself - (removing the old roof sheets, that is- not fitting new ones - *IF* I didnt mind the climb. - Its not very high, but Im not as nimble on my pins as a decade or so ago) ..... because its very easy to see where the old asbestos/cement mix is a bit powdery, most of it is damp and mossy - and all reasonable precautions as listed - seem to me to deal pretty well with *white* asbestos risks ....

.....*for this particular situation*. I guess each set of circs needs evaluating separately.

(They would be hopelessly inadequate of course - for blue asbestos).

I know the risks are much greater for people who work with it regularly.

I know speciaIist companies who deal with all kinds of asbestos - exist - and I know they are expensive - I asked at the Mairie - for a local specialist - but they were mystified - (it could have been my french) ... no one seems to have any local 'asbestos specialists' info at all.

(I didnt ask at the waste depot - that might be an idea...) The work is usually done, locally as *ordinary roof repairs* - by non specialists, and many farm buildings still have heaps of the stuff - which is being replaced, somewhere nearby - often. (but by steel these days)..

I had devis from two other pro roofers, a while ago - only one of them recognized any risk - and added a bit extra for taking the stuff to the asbestos dump.

(This kind of roof material is accepted sans probs in the large waste depot - with approved asbestos dump, in a local town)

ah well - still dont know what to do -

but think I should definitely not, after all - allow the lads to do it.

Climbing is not so scarey if you do i like mountaineers - ie tie yourself onto the chimney maybe...use ropes,

The fellow who cuts the dead tops off my trees uses all mountaineering kit...(climbed to the top with a chain saw)

.....couldnt watch that.

Let's resolve this then. French laws have been tightened up to conform with Article 17 of the International Labour Organisation Convention No. 162 (Convention concerning Safety in the Use of Asbestos (Entry into force: 16 June 1989)), which stipulates asbestos removal should only be done by licensed personnel.

Article 17
1. Demolition of plants or structures containing friable asbestos insulation materials, and removal of asbestos from buildings or structures in which asbestos is liable to become airborne, shall be undertaken only by employers or contractors who are recognised by the competent authority as qualified to carry out such work in accordance with the provisions of this Convention and who have been empowered to undertake such work.
2. The employer or contractor shall be required before starting demolition work to draw up a work plan specifying the measures to be taken, including measures to-
(a) provide all necessary protection to the workers;
(b) limit the release of asbestos dust into the air; and
(c) provide for the disposal of waste containing asbestos in accordance with Article 19 of this Convention.
3. The workers or their representatives shall be consulted on the work plan referred to in paragraph 2 of this Article.

Just for good measure:

Article 18
1. Where workers' personal clothing may become contaminated with asbestos dust, the employer, in accordance with national laws or regulations and in consultation with the workers' representatives, shall provide appropriate work clothing, which shall not be worn outside the workplace.
2. The handling and cleaning of used work clothing and special protective clothing shall be carried out under controlled conditions, as required by the competent authority, to prevent the release of asbestos dust.
3. National laws or regulations shall prohibit the taking home of work clothing and special protective clothing and of personal protective equipment.
4. The employer shall be responsible for the cleaning, maintenance and storage of work clothing, special protective clothing and personal protective equipment.
5. The employer shall provide facilities for workers exposed to asbestos to wash, take a bath or shower at the workplace, as appropriate.
Article 19
1. In accordance with national law and practice, employers shall dispose of waste containing asbestos in a manner that does not pose a health risk to the workers concerned, including those handling asbestos waste, or to the population in the vicinity of the enterprise.
2. Appropriate measures shall be taken by the competent authority and by employers to prevent pollution of the general environment by asbestos dust released from the workplace.

While France has not yet ratified the Convention, they have implemented regulations in line with Article 17 that take in 18 and 19 and have stated the intention to ratify as soon as technical preparations are completed. That was scheduled for 2012 but will be this year some time. Whichever way, it has been regulated and if anybody wishes to delve they will find those regulations.

driving in a car will more than likely get you killed so should every one stop driving, there is a risk assessment for life and every one does one every second of the day, so when dealing with something new to you, do research.

as i said above wet the sheets, then bag up when come to dispose of.

also cement dust is more dangerous to humans than asbestos dust, every one breathes huge amounts in every day, the end result is that you can get respiratory problems, but not much is said about that.

removing an old asbestos roof is no problem as long as you wear once use overall, gloves and most important a good respiratory mask, soak the sheeting until it is wet and then remove carefully with out breaking, store in a draft free area away from any human and animal contact try to keep it wet.also bag it up if possible.

disposal of the stuff is a bit more tricky as you will have to check with the mairie about finding a disposal site.

try not to breath any dust in but it is not going to kill you unless you are in direct contact with the dust daily, use all precautions you can find and be careful.

Spot on!

OK, good advice. The people who remove the stuff are responsible for the disposal and are required to make an 'appointment' for the time to get it to the decheterie. Supposedly they have to have a particular period of time between the stuff arriving for particles and fibres to settle in the container before the next lot arrives. It includes them driving there with it well covered and contained and with protective clothing if necessary, which they must then wear again when it is delivered to the container. It is strict and probably dead right.

Hi Jeanette,

First and foremost - I am not an expert on asbestos removal, particularly in France. However I have removed roofing sheets similar to those you describe and disposed of them at an approved tip in the UK. The risk is all to do with the loose fibres generated when this material is disturbed, i.e. by cutting/breaking it. The safety precautions you have found appear eminently sensible to me. As for disposal, you should ask at either the dechetterie or at your Marie's office for guidance as to what is an acceptable level of protection to prevent the material from contaminating the environment.

They must strictly obey the regulations, have a decheterie that takes the sheets forewarned and no short cutting, working without protective clothing, masks and gloves, provide the vacuum cleaner themselves since they also have to dispose of the dust and clean the cleaner thoroughly. Really, it costs quite a lot though as we know too well, but really it requires a specialist company who do it properly. If not your insurance will cover nothing that goes wrong for starters.

We still have an entire 8½ metre long roof with the stuff on to have redone. To have that stripped will cost a lot. It is also white asbestos but my wife found out the proper regulations on removal before the last lot went and those are still pretty strict.