Asbestos - Removal of Commercial Roofing - EH: Minnesota Department of Health

Commercial Roofing Removal

What roofing materials contain asbestos?

In the past, asbestos fibers were added during the production of roofing materials to strengthen them, to increase their durability, and to provide a limited amount of insulation and fireproofing. The use of asbestos in roofing has declined rapidly since the early 1980s.

The following common roofing products may contain asbestos:

  • Adhesives
  • Coatings
  • Decking
  • Felts
  • Flashing
  • Mastics
  • Sealants
  • Shingles
  • Underlayment
  • Vapor retardants

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How do I know if the roofing contains asbestos?

The only way to tell if a material contains asbestos is to have a certified asbestos inspector collect samples of suspect asbestos-containing roofing materials and submit them to an analytical laboratory for analysis. Remember all layers and parts of the roof should be sampled. Asbestos may be in one layer or part and not in another. Consulting firms that conduct asbestos sampling are listed on the Minnesota Department of Health's (MDH) Find a Contractor or Consultant website. If you decide not to check for asbestos, you should assume it contains asbestos and treat it accordingly.

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When does the MDH regulate the removal of asbestos roofing?

Roofing that contains greater than 1% asbestos, when intact and in good condition, is generally considered "nonfriable" and is not hazardous if handled correctly. Nonfriable means it cannot be crumbled, pulverized or reduced to powder by hand pressure. Heat, water, weathering or aging can weaken roofing to the point where it is considered friable. Roofing materials can also be made friable during removal. Friable materials can release asbestos fibers into the air. Asbestos fibers present a health hazard to people who inhale them.

Asbestos roofing materials which are friable and which are in a quantity greater than 160 square feet, are regulated by the MDH. Mechanical methods of cutting the roof materials also may cause it to become friable. The removal of 5580 square feet or greater of asbestos roofing material using a rotating blade roof cutter with one or more blades, the edges of which are blunt, is regulated by the MDH. This amount is considered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to make greater that 160 square feet of asbestos roofing friable.

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If your roofing project is regulated by MDH, you must:

  • have a Minnesota asbestos contractor's license,
  • employ Minnesota certified workers and supervisors
  • provide the MDH with the correct notification and project fee.

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Are there other regulations that may affect my roofing project?

Yes. There are other regulations that may pertain to you project. MDH recommends that you consult these regulating agencies directly if you have any questions about these regulations.

  • Code of Federal Regulations, chapter 29, part 1926, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) laws. For more information, call the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry at (651) 284-5054.
  • Code of Federal Regulations, chapter 40, part 763, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) laws governing asbestos materials in schools. For more information, call EPA Region V in Chicago, IL at (312) 353-4353.
  • Code of Federal Regulations, chapter 40, part 61, EPA, National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP). For more information, call the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency at (651) 296-6300.
  • "The Applicability of the Asbestos NESHAP to Asbestos Roofing Removal Operations" EPA, Office of Air and Radiation, August 1994. For more information, call the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency at (651) 296-6300.

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How do I find out more information?

For more information about asbestos, contact the Asbestos Program at MDH through the internet or by telephone at (651) 201-4620.

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Updated Wednesday, October 31, 2018 at 05:26PM