Asbestos and Solar Panel Installation

 Asbestos and Solar Panel Installation

In step with today's trends, many property owners have recently looked into installing solar panels and generating their own electricity. This is not only about cutting energy bills; it's also an essential step in making sustainable choices.

Before deciding to install this renewable energy source on buildings built before the 1980s, property owners should consider the risk of asbestos exposure. However, not everyone is alert to the potential connection between solar panel installation and possible exposure to asbestos. Given the building industry's extensive use of asbestos in varied products over the last century, many properties still may have roofing panels manufactured with this hazardous mineral, and herein lies the danger.

When disturbed, asbestos particles can remain in the air for hours due to their structure and size. The microscopic fibers can be easily inhaled or ingested, making asbestos dust one of the most toxic substances. Once inside the body, these tiny, sharp threads cause permanent damage, particularly to the lungs, and lead to devastating asbestos-related diseases such as:

One of the most frightening aspects of illnesses stemming from asbestos contamination is the decades-long latency period between exposure and first symptoms. It is why one should seriously take into consideration the health risks before deciding on solar panel installation, as it involves heavy drilling and, thus, the hazard of generating asbestos dust. Even if attaching the panels happens in the open air, the risk of damaging asbestos products still exists while drilling into asbestos-containing elements like:

The generated asbestos dust poses a risk not only to workers but also to residents in the vicinity. Therefore, handling solar panel installations carefully is crucial to prevent asbestos contamination.

Alternative Solutions for Benefitting From Solar Panels While Avoiding the Risk of Asbestos Exposure

A standard solution for dealing with asbestos-containing roofing when it is discovered is not to touch or contain it as it is. Solar panel installers might want to avoid drilling holes into an asbestos roof. Cases like this leave homeowners with the following possible options:

  • Install your panels after professionally removing asbestos and clearing the way for construction. Asbestos removal should not be undertaken lightly, so it is best to ensure the remover is a professional firm.
  • Apply non-penetrative mounting systems without directly drilling into the asbestos-containing material, like over-cladding the roof with steel. This way, a steel foundation acts as a load-bearing base for solar panels.
  • Find an alternative spot for the panels, eventually on the roof of another building on your property, such as a garage without asbestos roofing material.
  • Install solar panel awnings above your windows or doors. Depending on your home's or building's appearance and the space available on walls, this option would enable choosing an optimal tilt angle for direct sunlight. As an additional bonus, awnings may also keep direct sunlight out of your home, improving climatic comfort.

Why Should I Test Products in My Home for Asbestos?

It is often impossible to tell whether asbestos is embedded in a material, as the fibers are too small to be observed with the naked eye. Exposure to asbestos is responsible for serious respiratory conditions, so thorough testing is required to ensure your home is asbestos-free.