The asbestos problem impacts everyone.”

John Engler, Politician

Pros and Cons of Asbestos

advantages and disadvantages of asbestos

Asbestos is a term that describes different sorts of natural silicate minerals. Asbestos has been used for a variety of different industrial production purposes as well as in construction.

However, in recent years, many countries prohibited the use of asbestos due to its health hazards.

In this article, the pros and cons of asbestos are examined in detail.

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Advantages of Asbestos

  1. Heat resistance
  2. Tensile strengths
  3. Asbestos is resistant to termites and other pests
  4. Weather resistance
  5. Asbestos is a flexible material with many different fields of application
  6. Use for thermal insulation can save energy and money
  7. Easy to clean
  8. Durable material
  9. Can be mixed with cement to ensure a longer lifespan
  10. Fire-resistant material
  11. Inexpensive construction material
  12. Low maintenance costs

Heat resistance

One important advantage of asbestos is that it has many important properties that make it valuable for construction purposes.

For instance, asbestos is quite heat resistant and will not suffer too much, even on quite hot days. It will not deform over time and the stability of a building will be ensured due to this heat resistance.

Tensile strengths

Another upside of asbestos is that it is rather flexible and tensile. While inflexible building materials may get flawed over time, asbestos will not suffer too much from outside tensions related to outside conditions, which also implies that there will be fewer issues regarding repairs or other efforts that need to be taken over time.

Asbestos is resistant to termites and other pests

Asbestos is also quite resistant against pests and termites. This may be especially important in regions where those pests are a big problem and other materials may not be suitable due to their lower level of resistance against those pests.

Therefore, in some regions of our planet, asbestos may perform significantly better in terms of pest resistance compared to other conventional construction materials.

Weather resistance

Asbestos can also be considered as quite weather-resistant. Roofs that are made out of asbestos can last for a quite long time before they have to be replaced.

Compared to wood and synthetic materials, asbestos usually has a much longer duration since it is better able to resist outside weather conditions.

Asbestos is a flexible material with many different fields of application

Asbestos can also be used for a huge variety of different purposes. It can be used in several industrial production processes as well as for the insulation of buildings and for roofing.

Thus, due to this extensive variety of purposes for which asbestos can be used, using this material has been quite popular for quite a while in the past.

Use for thermal insulation can save energy and money

The use of asbestos for insulation can also save you plenty of money since you can save plenty of energy in the long run. However, those energy savings also come at a high price which we will see later in this article when it comes to the problems related to asbestos.

Easy to clean

Asbestos is also quite easy to clean since the surface structure will not be suitable for dirt to stick too much. Therefore, asbestos can also be considered to be quite convenient in terms of cleaning and thus, it may be a good choice for homeowners who don’t want to renew the paint of their walls too often.

Durable material

Another advantage of asbestos is that it is quite a durable material. Roofs and insulations that are made out of asbestos can last for a quite long time. This can be quite beneficial since homeowners will not have to spend too much money on repairs.

Can be mixed with cement to ensure a longer lifespan

In order to maximize the lifespan of a building, asbestos can be mixed into the cement in order to produce asbestos-cement which is usually much more durable compared to conventional cement. Therefore, this material mix has been used many times just a few decades ago.

Fire-resistant material

Asbestos is also quite fire-resistant. Imagine you live in an apartment complex and a fire breaks out in your neighbor’s flat. Chances are that the fire might quickly spread onto the other flats of the building if it is made out of wood.

However, if an asbestos-cement had been used for construction, it may take longer until the fire spreads and you may have enough time to leave the building and to get to safety.

Inexpensive construction material

Asbestos is also a rather inexpensive construction material, which made it quite attractive to use for many construction companies a few decades ago. While it is still used from time to time, the majority of companies refrain from using asbestos nowadays due to the various health hazards.

Low maintenance costs

Since it is quite durable, insulations or roofs that are made with the help of asbestos also often do not require too much maintenance efforts.

In turn, also the maintenance costs that are related to the use of asbestos are usually rather low.

Thus, also from a cost perspective, asbestos can be regarded to be a quite preferable material, at least until it has to be removed.

Disadvantages of Asbestos

  1. High removal costs
  2. Repairs are risky
  3. Might be difficult to find qualified workers to deal with asbestos
  4. Use of asbestos implies health hazards
  5. People may have a bad feeling living in a home that uses asbestos
  6. Discussions with other owners in a housing complex

High removal costs

As we have seen before, there are some advantages related to the use of asbestos. This is the reason why it has been frequently used in the past. However, there are also some important issues related to the use of asbestos. One problem with asbestos is its high removal costs. Since asbestos is quite toxic to human health, it can only be removed by using special equipment.

The removal of asbestos also requires skilled workers that are familiar with the dangers related to it. Therefore, once insulations or roofs that have been made out of asbestos have to be removed, there will be significant costs for homeowners.

Repairs are risky

Not only the removal of asbestos is problematic, also repairs related to asbestos can be tricky and risky and quite often, but you will also need companies that have specialized in asbestos repairs.

In turn, it can be quite expensive in case you need one of such specialized companies to repair components that have been made out of asbestos at your home.

Might be difficult to find qualified workers to deal with asbestos

Depending on where you live, it might also be difficult to find any skilled workers at all when it comes to repairs related to asbestos. Thus, you might have to wait for a quite long time until you find a company that is skilled in asbestos repairs.

Use of asbestos implies health hazards

Asbestos also implies serious health issues for homeowners over time. It has been shown that the risk for lung cancer significantly increases if you live in a home that is contaminated with asbestos over a long period of time.

Thus, depending on the country you live in and the safety standards regarding asbestos, you might not want to buy or live in a home that has been constructed with the help of asbestos due to those health hazards.

People may have a bad feeling living in a home that uses asbestos

Many people know about the issues of asbestos and might also have a quite bad feeling living in such an asbestos-contaminated home. This is not only an issue if you buy such a property for yourself, it might also be problematic when you want to resell your home later on in your life since buyers may be quite skeptic and may refrain from buying a home due to the asbestos contamination and the health issues related to it.

Discussions with other owners in a housing complex

Especially if you own a flat in an apartment complex that uses asbestos insulation, chances are that you will have plenty of discussions with other apartment owners regarding the disposal of asbestos from the apartment complex.

While some property owners will vote for the disposal, some will vote against it and you might have to accept the preferences of the majority, even if they go against your wishes.

Thus, if you plan to buy a property that uses components of asbestos, better be prepared for extensive discussion with other flat owners regarding how to deal with the asbestos contamination in the future.

Top Asbestos Pros & Cons – Summary List

Asbestos ProsAsbestos Cons
Asbestos is heat-resistantSignificant removal costs
Tensile strengthHealth hazard
Weather resistanceRepairs are risky
Fire-resistantDifficult to find qualified workers
Asbestos is rather cheapPeople may not want to live in a home with asbestos
Can be mixed with cementDiscussions with other property owners
Asbestos is quite durable
Low maintenance efforts
Easy cleaning
Asbestos isolation can save you energy

Should You Use Asbestos?

Asbestos was quite a popular material and has been used for various different purposes in the past since it has many preferable characteristics.

However, the health hazards that come along with the use of asbestos are significant. In my opinion, we should not risk the health of people and therefore, we should refrain from the use of asbestos in construction and also in several other industries.

Many companies have already acknowledged this and refuse from using asbestos anymore.

Sources

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asbestos

https://www.asbestos.com/asbestos/

https://www.blf.org.uk/support-for-you/asbestos-related-conditions/what-is-asbestos

https://www.who.int/ipcs/assessment/public_health/asbestos/en/

About the author

My name is Andreas and my mission is to educate people of all ages about our environmental problems and how everyone can make a contribution to mitigate these issues.

As I went to university and got my Master’s degree in Economics, I did plenty of research in the field of Development Economics.

After finishing university, I traveled around the world. From this time on, I wanted to make a contribution to ensure a livable future for the next generations in every part of our beautiful planet.

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