Asbestos roofing headache

Written by
Dr Ayub Macharia

Today, I visited Egerton University and looking around saw many of their roofing material is asbestos. I am sure there are many institutions still roofed with Asbestos near your home.
Asbestos is a chemically inert mineral. It has unique features such as being fire resistant, does not conduct heat or electricity, has high tensile strength, is insoluble and odourless. Hence it a commonly used insulator.
Asbestos is normally woven into fabrics or mixed with cement and used in manufacturing many products such as roofing materials, ceiling and floor tiles, paper and cement products, textiles, coatings and friction products such as automobile clutch, brake,transmission parts and sewer pipes.
Asbestos is a hazardous material since it generates extremely fine fibers that remain suspended in air for hours. When left intact and undisturbed, asbestos materials do not pose a health risk. However Asbestos products may get disturbed through damage, disturbance, or deterioration over time and this may lead to the fibre being released into the air.If the fiber are inhaled, they may cause serious chronic health problems. Some of the chronic problems associated with Asbestos include

  • Asbestosis — Asbestosis is a serious, progressive, long-term non-cancer disease of the lungs. Symptoms of asbestosis include shortness of breath and a dry, crackling sound in the lungs while inhaling. There is no effective treatment for asbestosis.
  • Lung Cancer — The most common symptoms of lung cancer are coughing, shortness of breath, persistent chest pains, hoarseness, and anaemia.
    Mesothelioma –this is a rare form of cancer that is found in the lung, chest, abdomen, and heart and almost all cases are linked to exposure to asbestos. This disease may not show up until many years after asbestos exposure.
    People who work in the mining, milling, manufacturing of asbestos, and those who use asbestos and its products are more likely to develop lung cancer than the general population. The diseases cause long term serious social, economic and emotional problems.


  • Identify buildings near your area roofed with Asbestos
  • Confirm whether the roofing material is getting disturbed or has deteriorated over time.
    Do you think the local people are exposed to any dangers from the roofing material?
    Report your findings on this blog or to your nearest NEMA office.

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