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spaceman spif 07-02-2012 05:19 PM

Possible asbestos danger
My house was built around 1960 and has a basement. It had a smell to it that I identified as coming from the basement carpet - likely mildewed. So I removed the carpet in one room and found old 12"x12" adhesive tiles underneath. Most of the tiles came up easily, and the remaining ones I was able to pry up fairly easy with a shovel. After I did that room I learned that tiles from the early 60's typically had asbestos, and these were likely the original tiles. I already threw away what I removed, so I have not taken any samples for testing and I haven't removed any more flooring since then.

Here's my question - if the tiles or adhesive do have asbestos, is it still safe to remove them if they pull up easily and I do not need to grind or chip at any of them?

ionized 07-02-2012 06:20 PM

The short answer is that if you don't break the tiles, you are OK. There are plenty of resources available on the web to guide you in removing that flooring. It will be time-consuming, but not all that dangerous and not dangerous to anyone if you take simple precautions. Local regulations may vary so check locally.

My belief is that a decade from now, the EPA will be saying, "Oh, that residential asbestos thing, it was never really a serious problem." They have to wait for the people that over reacted to retire before they can say that.

spaceman spif 07-03-2012 11:50 PM

That was my impression from what all I've read - that as long as I'm not generating dust in the air I should be okay. But the tiles are old and as a result they are stiff despite being adhesive tiles. So some of them have snapped as I've scraped them up. Is that a problem?

And I'm glad you mentioned checking with local codes. At the time I didn't even think of the fact I just tossed the tiles into the trash and carried them to the curb. I should probably check on that and make sure that's kosher!

ionized 07-04-2012 08:11 AM

Snapping tiles is not optimal. The asbestos is encapsulated in the tiles, but as soon as they break, you can release it. Look up the common precautions for this kind of work. They include keep your immediate work area somewhat wet with a sprayer or mister, wearing a respirator and disposable coveralls. When you are done for the day, carefully turn the coveralls inside out and dispose of them. Be sure that your hair is covered. There is a lot of surface area there to adsorb asbestos particles. Seal off adjacent areas as well as practical

You can do this safely, but look up the procedures. There are tons of resources out there.

Maintenance 6 07-06-2012 09:34 AM

Asbestos containing floor tiles are not considered friable material, so disposal should not be an issue. Keep them dampened to prevent airborne dust. Wipe everything down with damp cloth and package the cloth in plastic bags before it can dry. Not all floor tiles contain asbestos. Not all adhesives do either. Asbestos in tiles is encased in a pretty heavy matrix of other materials and the asbestos does not become airborne easily. Drilling or grinding would likely do it, but popping the tiles off..... not so much. The adhesive on the other hand can become an airborne hazard from scraping, so keep it wetted. Wear an N95 rated respirator with P100 cartridges, not a silly paper dust mask. Ionized has good advice about the coveralls, but don't be misled. Asbestos is an inhalation hazard, it won't absorb into your skin. What you don't want to do is breath any dust that clings to the coveralls as you remove them. Keep everything wetted and you won't have to worry about any dust. Add a little detergent to your spray water to make it cover better. Breaks the surface tension of the water.

rusty baker 07-06-2012 10:04 AM

The danger of asbestos in flooring is overblown, just like the lead danger in paint. Neither are a danger as long as common sense is used and some simple safety precautions.

Awoodfloorguy 07-06-2012 02:39 PM

It is very likely that these tiles contain asbestos. From what I have been told and researched it seems that the 9" X9" tiles were the ones that definitely had asbestos, but I am sure others did as well. I agree with the others, if you just dampen the tiles and wear a respirator, you will be ok.

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