Asbestos removal and roof renovation with insulation panels


Asbestos removal and roof renovation with insulation panels

16 Aug, 2022

Starting in 1983, our country implemented an EEC directive that banned the application of sprayed asbestos in construction, but it was only in 1992 - with Law 275/92 - that the production and trade of products containing it was definitively banned, with the cessation of all extraction, import and use activities.Since then, procedures for the removal of asbestos have been initiated, effectively opening up the construction market to new solutions: from ecological fibre cement to insulating panels for roofing. 

Asbestos was widely used in the construction industry, particularly during the economic boom - between 1960 and 1990 - because of its exceptional properties:

  • fire resistance,
  • thermal and electrical insulation,
  • sound-absorbing capacities,
  • ease of processing due to the fibrous structure,
  • acid and tensile strength,
  • ease of mixing with other substances such as cement.

In Italy, the main mining site was the Balangero mine in Piedmont, now closed for reclamation. Given its characteristics, it is not surprising that it found widespread use in the fields of construction, industry and transport in the form of countless artefacts.

Only to be declared very dangerous to human health.

What is asbestos and why is it dangerous?

Asbestos is a material of natural origin with a microcrystalline structure and a fibrous appearance. Its name derives from the Greek word asbestos meaning 'which never goes out' and is obtained as a result of mining.

The danger of asbestos is inherent in the material's ability to release fibres that are potentially inhalable by humans. It only takes a single asbestos fibre to cause serious respiratory diseases.

The dangerousness of this natural material is, however, related to its state of preservation.

It is certainly harmful when it starts to degrade and disperses its fibres into the environment through mechanical, wind, thermal stress or rainwater.

Asbestos defined as friable - because it can be reduced to dust by manual action - is significantly more dangerous than compact asbestos, which, by its nature, has little tendency to release fibres into the air.

The Eternit case

The low cost of asbestos combined with its ease of processing had led to experiments with mixtures with other materials and their large-scale use.

Thus, in 1901, the Austrian Ludwig Hatschek patented a new building material obtained by processing cement with asbestos giving it the name Eternit, i.e. eternal.

The products made from Eternit fibre cement were used in construction for the roofing of buildings, in the form of flat, corrugated or roofing tiles - both for private homes and industrial buildings - or as insulation for water pipes.

It quickly spread everywhere, which is why there are still several buildings with traces of asbestos today.

Initially, the danger of asbestos dust becoming airborne when asbestos began to wear and crumble was not known. What is certain is that it was discovered long before eternit was banned in Italy by the aforementioned Law 275/92.

From that moment on, eternit and asbestos began to be compulsorily removed from buildings when in a state of disrepair, through a decommissioning programme and simultaneous reporting to the relevant ASL to notify the presence of hazardous material.

The asbestos disposal procedure

The procedure of removing and disposing of asbestos (or eternit) is a delicate operation since, being composed of tiny fibres, it can be easily inhaled.

It must therefore be performed with the utmost respect for safety by specialised figures who must:

  • carry out an inspection for the presence of asbestos;
  • prepare and send documentation for the necessary authorisations to the ASL;
  • encapsulate asbestos by covering it with penetrating or cladding products;
  • reclaim the surrounding surfaces on which the asbestos product was resting;
  • remove the product;
  • dispose of asbestos in authorised storage centres or landfill sites

Remediation by encapsulation of asbestos is recommended in the case of exterior and interior surfaces in good condition, difficult to reach and with reduced thickness.
It is implemented by spraying, using primers and an insulating protective coat. In the case of deteriorated material, however, removal is compulsory.

The cost of asbestos removal is not fixed. There are regional price lists that provide a guide to quantifying the value of removal, encapsulation, packaging and disposal.
It is estimated to vary between 7 and 25 euros per square metre.

The costs are significant but there are also incentives for asbestos removal such as the 110% Superbonus and the 50% renovation bonus. The latter offers the opportunity to take advantage of the tax deduction for expenses incurred until 31 December 2021 with a maximum expenditure limit of 96,000 euro.

An alternative to asbestos: sandwich panel roofing

The decommissioning of asbestos, which came into force in 1992, opened up new scenarios that replaced a high-performance and inexpensive material such as Eternit had been until then with other solutions.

Over the years, there has been a proliferation of innovative, sustainable and high-performance materials that can replace asbestos in the building industry, in particular eternit for roofing.

An alternative is insulation panels that can be used for different types of roofing: from pitched to flat roofing.

The Isodomus faux tile panels offered by Isopan, for example, are pre-finished insulation panels whose surface finish consists of a sheet metal top layer that simulates the classic appearance of roof tiles.

This solution preserves the elegance of traditional forms while offering remarkable performance thanks to the polyurethane foam layer.

It is an appropriate construction solution for residential as well as commercial or industrial buildings. Moreover, it can be applied to any roof structure thanks to the fact that the insulation panels are light, durable, waterproof and easy to install.

We have seen how asbestos's performance characteristics and ease of processing, combined with its low cost, have for decades led this material to encroach into every sector for different uses: from construction, with eternit, to transport to clothing.

The setback caused by the very serious consequences for human health has opened up new scenarios especially in the field of construction. Today, roofing with insulating panels is an optimal solution that combines high performance, ease of use and versatility.

Written by

Rocco Traini - Technical Office Coordination
Rocco Traini - Technical Office Coordination

Engineer, and coordinator of the technical office, Mr Rocco Traini, supports the sales department to help customers find the best technological solution. With more than 10 years of activity in the Isopan world, he is today an expert in sandwich panels and their applications.

Visit the author's page

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