Asbestos is something we hear a lot about. And if you have an older home, chances are you may have asbestos in certain locations.
Asbestos is a heat-resistant fibrous silicate mineral that was common in construction until the 1980s. It was banned once the list of health risks began to form. But banning it from production of current building materials doesn’t eliminate the fact that it still exists in homes and commercial properties that have been in place for decades. It doesn’t cause a problem until you start to remove it.
If you live in an older home that may have asbestos floor tiles in place, how you handle removal is of the utmost importance to your family’s health and safety.
According to the EPA, asbestos fibers pose a health risk when they are friable, meaning they crumble easily and release into the air. When asbestos fibers are inhaled, they lodge in the lungs and do not break down. Over time, this can lead to illness, including:
- Lung cancer
- Asbestosis – a non-cancer respiratory disease
- Mesothelioma – cancer of the lining surrounding the lungs, heart, and abdomen
Asbestos floor tiles do not post a problem unless they are disturbed. When you saw, sand, drill, or tear the tiles out, this can release fibers into the air where they can be inhaled.
Do you have asbestos tiles?
The only way to find out for sure is to have them tested. You can either hire an asbestos remediation expert or obtain a test kit in which you remove a floor sample, and mail it into an asbestos testing lab. The kit comes with instructions and you should wear gloves and a dust mask during the process.
If your home was built before 1980, there’s a good chance they contain asbestos because most flooring tiles manufactured during this time did.
The most popular size tile during this timeframe was 9×9. However, they did come in 12×12 and 18×18 as well, so size isn’t everything.
You may also notice a stained or oily appearance, which comes from asphalt, it’s main ingredient. You might also see a black adhesive underneath, which was commonly used to glue the flooring tiles down.
Living with asbestos tiles
One of the best ways to deal with asbestos tiles is to leave them in place. New vinyl, laminate flooring, hardwood, even carpet can successfully be installed over asbestos flooring without disturbing it and creating a further problem.
When you’re ready to remove the asbestos, seek direction from your local authorities and talk with a flooring expert before you being the process. The safest removal option is to have an asbestos remediation contractor remove the tiles. This will ensure the entire removal process is done per regulation to keep you safe during and after the process.
Have any questions about installing new flooring over asbestos tiles?