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Asbestos in Shingles and Other Building Materials

Shingles were only one of several asbestos-containing products using in roofing and construction prior to the 1980s. Asbestos shingles generally refers to the common, inexpensive composite shingles used for most residential roofs.

Asbestos shingles were the first asbestos building materials to be manufactured and marketed in the U.S. They were the innovation of one H.W. Johns of New York City, who started his company in 1858. At that time, fires were a common hazard in America's cities and remained so during most of the 19th and early 20th centuries because of the widespread use of oil and gas lighting as well as open fireplaces. It was not unusual for a spark from a chimney to ignite someone's roof. Asbestos shingles promised to mitigate property damage and save lives. Asbestos shingles were sold in the United States through the 1970s under brand names like “Supradur”.

Ironically, H.W. Johns himself died of asbestos disease in the 1890s while still in his fifties. It is doubtful that he or his physicians understood the cause of his fatal illness - but later management of the company he founded, which eventually became Johns-Manville, certainly did. By the 1930s, medical science had confirmed beyond all doubt that asbestos was responsible for a range of respiratory diseases.

Although "new" uses of asbestos are prohibited in the U.S., many products on store shelves imported from China and elsewhere may still contain small amounts of this substance.

Shingles Products Containing Asbestos

The following partial list of shingles products were known to contain asbestos:

Product Name Start Year End Year
Flintkote Asbestos Cement Shingles
Flintkote Monticello Cement Shingles
Flintkote Roofing Shingles
GAF Ruberoid American Thatch Roofing Shingles
GAF Ruberoid American Thatch Shingles
GAF Timbertex Shingles
Johns Manville Cedargrain Asbestos-Cement Shingle 1907 1976
Johns Manville Colorblende Asbestos Shingles 1907 1976
Johns Manville Deepgrain Asbestos-Cement Shingles 1907 1976
Johns Manville Durobestos Asbestos-Cement Shingles 1907 1976
Johns Manville Fire-Glass Seal-0-Matic Roofing Shingles 1907 1979
Johns Manville Fire-King Seal-0-Matic Roofing Shingles 1907 1979
Johns Manville Standard Asbestos Shingles
National Gypsum Asbestos Cement Siding Shingles 1953 1981
National Gypsum Chromatone Siding Shingles 1954 1968
National Gypsum Dutch Lap Shingles 1954 1968
National Gypsum Hexagonal Shingles 1954 1965
National Gypsum Ranch-Style Shingles 1956 1969
United States Gypsum Siding Shingles 1937 1975

Hazards Associated with Shingle Products

When initially installed, asbestos shingles posed relatively little risk of asbestos exposure, as the shingle material safely encapsulates the asbestos fibers. Over time, however, as the shingles are worn with age or damaged by weather, fire, or accident, the shingles begin to break down and the asbestos material becomes friable. Friable asbestos is delicate to the touch and individual asbestos fibers can easily break loose and enter the atmosphere in that state. Inhaled asbestos fibers can eventually lead to the development of diseases like pleural mesothelioma and other serious respiratory complications.



InspectAPedia. “Asbestos in Building Roofing Materials - How to identify asbestos-containing roofing.”( Retrieved 9 January 2011.

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