Are you needing to have Asbestos removed from your residential or commercial property? If so, Element Roofing has the solution for you.

We offer residential and commercial asbestos removal in the entire Wellington region including Kapiti Coast, Upper Hutt and Eastbourne. If you would like a free quote on your asbestos removal job, get in touch with our team and we will be in touch right away.

Asbestos types

In New Zealand the two most common types of roofing that contain asbestos are:

Super six roofing

Super six roofing is an asbestos cement sheet, made primarily from concrete and asbestos, and can contain three different types of asbestos: chrysotile (white), crocidolite (blue), and amosite (brown). All super six roofing contains asbestos. Of all of the non-friable (bonded) asbestos containing materials (ACM), super six roofing presents one of the highest health risks due to its exposure to the elements, mostly by rain and wind. A large number of super six roofs are unsealed, meaning that they are more susceptible to weathering than those which have been sealed. As concrete is an alkaline material, it is susceptible to materials which are acidic in nature – including rain water. The slightly acidic rain water reacts with the concrete, breaking it down slowly over time resulting in asbestos fibre release.

Asbestos growing on a roof
Close up shot of Asbestos on a roof

Decramastic tile roofing

Decramastic roof tiles are bitumen or mastic based pressed metal tiles made in a scallop shape and have a stone chip coating similar in appearance to sandpaper. There are no risks associated with decramastic tiles as long as they remain undisturbed and in good condition. If, however, they get damaged or are removed incorrectly the asbestos exposure can become a genuine risk.

Not all decramastic tile roofs contain asbestos but more do than don’t. The only way to know for sure is to have your roof tested. We can come out and take a sample for you and send it off to the laboratory for testing.

If you have a roof that contains asbestos get in touch and we can arrange for the safe removal of your roof.

Eye level shot asbestos on a roof
Close up of asbestos on a roof
Asbestos on a roof

Suspect you require asbestos removal on your property? We work with experienced & licensed asbestos removal specialists.

Our team of asbestos removal contractors can perform safe asbestos removal in your property anywhere in the Wellington region, including Kapiti, Eastbourne and Upper Hutt.

Get in touch for a quote by filling in the form.

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About Asbestos

Asbestos is a substance which is a serious threat to thousands of New Zealanders and millions of people around the world.

Asbestos is a term used to describe a naturally occurring fibrous silicate mineral (rock forming minerals). The three most common types of asbestos found are white, brown and blue.’

White asbestos was the most common form that was used in New Zealand, followed by brown and blue to a lesser extent. Something to note is that under a microscope, white asbestos looks different to brown and blue asbestos.

White asbestos

Is a long, curly fibre which is flexible enough to spin and weave into fabric. Because it was so versatile, it was the most common type of asbestos used in building and household products.

Brown asbestos

Is a harsh, spikey fibre. A substance which was mostly mined in Africa and often used in cement sheet and pipe insulation. Other uses were in ceiling tiles, insulating board and thermal insulation.

Blue asbestos

Is a brittle fibre which easily repels water and is known for its excellent heat resistance. This substance was mostly mined in South Africa, Bolivia and Australia.

Because blue asbestos was used to insulate steam engines, and also found in some spray on coatings, cement products and pipe insulation – this increases the potential risk of airborne asbestos exposure for people who work in maintenance, repair and replacement work.

Blue asbestos is also claimed to be the most dangerous substance out of the three because its fibres are so thin. This means that they are easy to inhale and lodge in the linings of a person’s lungs. In saying that, all types of asbestos should be treated with equal caution because any of their fibres can be inhaled.

Asbestos has been around for a long time, thousands of years in fact. Archaeologists believe people living in the Stone Age used asbestos in their candle and lamp wicks.

Asbestos was also used approximately two thousand years ago to strengthen clay pots and make them heat resistant. Ancient Greeks and Romans wove asbestos into material for tablecloths and napkins. Even then, they knew asbestos was harmful. It was noticed at the time that slaves weaving asbestos into cloth had ‘sickness in the lungs.

In the Industrial Revolution, asbestos was mined and manufactured in large amounts. It was appealing to a lot of people as it was ‘flameproof’, waterproof and resistant to chemicals and electricity. The biggest appeal, though, was that it was very malleable, making it an excellent product for insulating boilers and engines, and also for building and binding things.

Once the mining of asbestos became mechanised, producing it became very cheap and soon it was a widespread product. However, the link between asbestos and ill health had not been thoroughly investigated until the 20th century.

Asbestos awareness in New Zealand became official in the 1930s. In 1938, the Report of the Interdepartmental Committee on Silicosis linked asbestos with deadly lung conditions. The government then reported that asbestosis is a disease similar to silicosis, and that asbestos is capable of producing deadly pulmonary disease.

Asbestos use

Places where New Zealand workers were exposed to asbestos were: railway workshops, the building industry, sawmilling, shipping and cement industries. Wharf workers, fitters, boil workers, electricians, carpenters were also exposed to asbestos.

The first time that raw asbestos was imported into New Zealand was in the late 1930s. It was used to make products that consisted of asbestos mixed in with cement. Manufacturing of these products continued until the mid 1980s.

In 1938, a factory in Auckland opened which produced asbestos cement products. Production continued until 1987. The factory employed up to 600 workers and they worked with white, brown and blue asbestos. New Zealand’s first asbestos regulations did not come into effect until 1978.

Asbestos ban

In 1984, it became illegal to import blue and brown asbestos into the country in its raw form. Asbestos containing products, which were also known as ACMs in New Zealand, were used until supplies ran out. From October 1st 2016, it became illegal to import asbestos containing products into New Zealand.

Asbestos in building materials

Buildings which were built, altered or refurbished from 1940 – mid 1980s are likely to contain ACMs. After the war production and with local manufacturing, there was a significant increase in raw asbestos imports. Over 2,000 tonnes were imported every year in the 1940s and increased to 5,000 tonnes in the 1960s and 1970s. The largest amount imported was recorded at 12,500 tonnes in 1975.

Buildings which were built after January 1st 2000 are less likely to contain ACMs, but some built after this time may contain ACMs.

Asbestos in the workplace

Until the mid 1980s, asbestos was used for as a fire retardant and insulation for:

  • Friction linings
  • Fire doors
  • Insulating board
  • Fuse boxes
  • Gas or electric heaters
  • Gaskets
  • Sprayed insulation
  • Lagging around pipes
  • Brake linings

In 2010, it was estimated that 600-900 people died from work related diseases in New Zealand. Of that number, around 170 people died from asbestos related diseases which made asbestos the single biggest cause of work -related disease deaths.

Breathing in airborne asbestos fibres is a serious health risk. Once fibres are inhaled, they lodge in the lungs and may cause diseases such as asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma.

Most asbestos related diseases take around 20 years before their symptoms start to show. Increase to health risk occurs when:

  • People inhale more fibres
  • Exposure is more frequent
  • Exposure occurs over a long period of time.

It is important to note that all types of asbestos can cause asbestos related disease.

Asbestos related disease and smoking

People who smoke are at a risk of developing lung disease, which includes lung cancer. However, for people who work with asbestos and also smoke, the risk becomes much greater of developing lung cancer than from asbestos exposure alone. This means that smokers who work with asbestos are more likely to develop an asbestos related illness than non- smokers.

The 3 main asbestos related diseases are:

  • Asbestosis – Is a restrictive lung disease that can be fatal. When asbestos fibres lodge into the lung tissue, they can scar the tissue and cause pain and long term breathing problems. As the disease progresses, the lungs progressively contract until they cannot expand fully for breathing. This takes many years to develop and there is no current cure. The other symptom is clubbed fingers, where the fingernails soften. The fingernails become misshapen and the fingernail ends bulge. This happens because of a reduction of oxygen blood to the fingers. Lungs of people with asbestosis tend to show a high asbestos fibre count which is the result of high exposure to asbestos.
  • Mesothelioma – Is a fatal asbestos related cancer. It affects the thin membranes of the lungs, abdominal cavities, heart and abdominal organs. When a person breathes in asbestos, the fibres lodge in the tissue surrounding the lungs. Over time, the fibres damage the tissue, creating tumours. It can take a long time before the signs of mesothelioma begin to show, 20-50 years. Early symptoms start as mild and most people do not seek medical attention until the disease is in its later stages. When diagnosed, most patients usually only have up to one year to live. The survival rate is very low, but improves if people seek medical attention early. It’s important to note that this disease has been found in people with relatively low exposure to asbestos.
  • Lung cancer – Asbestos related lung cancer is fatal. It takes many years to develop, but only a short time to spread to other organs. Developing this disease can be dependent on the duration of the patient’s asbestos exposure and the amount of asbestos fibres inhaled. Smoking adds to the effects of asbestos on the lungs. If you are a smoker and also exposed to asbestos, you will have a greater chance of developing lung cancer that either smoking or asbestos on its own. The size of the asbestos fibres influences where they lodge in the body and where the tumours may develop.