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ENVIRONMENTAL HAZARDS - INSPECT, TEST, REMEDY
AGE of a BUILDING - how to determine
AIR POLLUTANTS, COMMON INDOOR
ASBESTOS CEILING TILES, Asbestos-Containing
ASBESTOS CEMENT ROOFING
ASBESTOS CEMENT SIDING
ASBESTOS DUCTS, HVAC
ASBESTOS FLOORING HAZARD REDUCTION
ASBESTOS FLOORING REMOVAL GUIDE
ASBESTOS-FREE INSULATION MATERIALS
ASBESTOS IDENTIFICATION IN buildings
ASBESTOS LIST of PRODUCTS
ASBESTOS MATERIAL REGULATIONS
ASBESTOS PHOTO GUIDE to MATERIALS
ASBESTOS REMOVAL, INCOMPLETE
ASBESTOS REMOVAL CERTIFICATION
ASBESTOS REMOVAL, WETTING GUIDE
ASBESTOS RISK ASSESSMENT
ASBESTOS TESTING LAB LIST
ASBESTOS UNDER the MICROSCOPE
CATHEDRAL CEILING INSULATION
CEILING FINISHES INTERIOR
CEILINGS, DROP or SUSPENDED PANEL
CEILINGS & WALLS, PLASTER TYPES
CERAMIC TILE, ASBESTOS in?
FLOOR TILE HISTORY & INGREDIENTS
FLOOR TILES ASBESTOS
INDOOR AIR QUALITY IMPROVEMENT GUIDE
INSULATION IDENTIFICATION GUIDE
METAL LATH, PLASTER & STUCCO
PLASTER TYPE IDENTIFICATION
SAFETY HAZARDS & INSPECTIONS
WORLD TRADE CENTER 9-11 DUST PHOTOS
Strategies for leaving asbestos-containing floor tiles or sheet flooring safely in place in a building: choosing an appropriate material to cover-up or coat the surface of a sound, well-adhered floor can protect against future damage or asbestos particle release in the building.
This article series assists building buyers, owners or occupants in reducing the risk of asbestos exposure from flooring that contains or is suspected to contain asbestos. We provide photographs and descriptive text of asbestos insulation and other asbestos-containing products to permit identification of definite, probable, or possible asbestos materials in buildings. Page top photo: vinyl asbestos floor tiles in the kitchen of a 1970's home - before covering over with epoxy floor paint.
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The most economical renovation procedure for asbestos-floor tiles would be to leave the tiles in place, picking up any very loose scraps for enclosure in plastic bags for disposal (your municipality may permit disposal as construction debris, or you may have to hand it over to an approved waste hauler - double-bagged it should not be an issue), followed by installing a new layer of flooring over the existing material.
Reader Question: What are the options for covering asbestos-suspect floor tiles or sheet flooring?
We are renovating a small bathroom that has resilient flooring of uncertain age, but from the style we think the floor tiles are from the 70s. We want to cover this floor tile to avoid an asbestos hazard. What are some options. - Anon.
Remember that the hazard from asbestos-containing floor tiles is not like something that's "radioactive" - if the flooring is not damaged, if you avoid making a dusty mess by demolition, and more, if it the flooring can be covered and protected from damage, it is not harmful if left in place.
Current best asbestos advice is to avoid the dust and mess of demolition of vinyl asbestos flooring if you can simply cover it with another material.
Examples of asbestos floor tile or sheet flooring cover-ups that can work
Advice for Coating or Painting Over Asphalt Asbestos Flooring or Vinyl Asbestos Floor Tiles Using a Rejuvenation Sealer or Gloss Coat
Our photographs below demonstrate the use of an epoxy floor paint to provide a durable and safe coating for a vinyl-asbestos tile kitchen floor that was otherwise in good condition. The original floor, installed when the home was built in the 1970's, was cleaned to provide a good bond for the epoxy floor paint. No sanding, ginding, or other dust-producing methods were used.
For periodic maintenance, the black epoxy floor is cleaned and re-sealed using the floor rejuvenation products shown below. The original expoxy paint coating was made in 2000; the photo at above right shows the condition of the floor around 2013, more than a decade later.
Reader Question: how can I seal vinyl asbestos floor tiles so that I can leave the flooring in place?
I am looking for information on Armstrong diecut inserts from around 1952. Also are there any recommended ways to seal these floors so you can enjoy the look but without any asbestos concerns? Thanks, Sarah
[This Q&A originally appeared at ASBESTOS FLOOR TILE PHOTO ID GUIDE, June 2011.
Reply: residential vinyl-asbestos floor tiles in good condition can be gently cleaned and clear-coated or sealed - vinyl tile floor restoration
As we noted in quoting the US EPA and other sources,
Asbestos is safe and legal to remain in homes or public buildings as long as the asbestos materials are in good condition and the asbestos can not be released into the air.
About sealing vinyl-asbestos tile floors, especially in residential use where school or public regulations and public access worries don't apply, I've had great success using epoxy paints but you may find a shorter-term less durable but safe coating using clear-coating floor restorer products. You will need to repeat the coating from time to time.
We did this recently in a New York home.
if you maintain a hard clear coating on top of the floor surface you won't be releasing any measurable level of asbestos fibers by normal foot traffic.
Watch out: We advise against using any power equipment such as sanders, grinders, saws, or even steel-wool buffers on vinyl-asbestos flooring out of concern for the effect of grinding of the surface and concomitant release of asbestos particles into the building air.
Reader Question: Armstrong asbestos floor tile diecut inserts from around 1952 - ways to seal these floors?
Am looking for information on Armstrong diecut inserts from around 1952. Also are there any recommended ways to seal these floors so you can enjoy the look but without any asbestos concerns? Thanks, Sarah - Sarah 6/23/11
Reply: gentle cleaning followed by floor restorer clear coating protects from asbestos fiber release
We just did this recently in a New York home. The floor was washed with mild detergent and water. Then we used a spray cleaner recommended by the floor resetorer manufacturer.
The spray cleaner removes old wax residues. Next we used a magic marker to color in some gouges that had marred the floor surface. Finally we coated the flooring with the floor restorer product. The floor looked new, and great.
Also see ASBESTOS FLOORING HAZARD REDUCTION for more ways to reduce the asbestos hazard in asbestos-suspect or presumed asbestos-containing flooring.
Managing Asbestos in Place in buildings
Quoting below from the following U.S. EPA references includes some advice on managing asbestos in place in buildings:
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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Question: our home has asbestos-suspect floor tiles, prior flooding, and mold smells
I have a bedroom that smells of mildew and I know the room flooded once before we moved in. There are 2 asthmatics who live in the house so I pulled up carpet and pad. I found several pounds of sandy fine dirt underneath and decayed tiles. I never thought about asbestos until I got to the tile.
I figured it would be cement foundation. I have looked at the different websites and not seen this particular tile and are kind of afraid to touch it now. I want so badly to clean with soap, water, and bleach but are unsure if it is safe?
[I have provided some photos including the one shown at left]
I live in an extremely humid south-texas area and my home was built in 1955 so the deed says. If you have any advice for me
I would appreciate it very much. Right now my husband is in the hospital with pneumonia so I am trying to rid our home of any possible mildew before he comes home. - D.R.R. 8/26/2012
You are describing two different concerns: possible asbestos contamination from asbestos containing floor tiles under a carpet, and mold odors and a possible mold contamination problem in the building.
How to deal with asbestos-suspect floor tiles
The floor tiles in your (blurry so I'm unsure) photos look like vinyl flooring tiles that were made to resemble cork flooring. Some of these, depending on age, contain asbestos as fibers and filler.
The material in most floor tiles is not particularly friable (as long as you're not doing a messy demolition), and asbestos release from such tiles while covered by carpeting would most likely be below the limits of detection. More likely the dirt and debris you found atop the floor is soil that came through the overlaying carpeting, or it may be from deteriorating carpet backing or carpet padding. Best bet is to dispose of old, questionable carpets entirely, HEPA vacuum and damp-wipe clean the entire area.
Also see Asbestos Flooring Hazard Level of Risk and see ASBESTOS FLOORING REMOVAL GUIDE. Readers who are considering removing asbestos containing materials should also see ASBESTOS REMOVAL, Wetting Guidelines.
How to deal with a possible indoor mold problem in the same area as the asbestos-suspect floor tiles
Because you note that a family member suffers from a respiratory illness, thus increasing the risks involved, you'll want to address household dust levels overall as well as a possible mold concern. Ask your physician for specific advice about exposures, risks, and cleaning in the home. To further address a possible mold contamination problem you'll need to:
See ACTION GUIDE - WHAT TO DO ABOUT INDOOR MOLD for procedures for dealing with your mold worry.
Question: how do I know if the flooring in our house is safe or is an asbestos hazard?
I would appreciate your help. I purchased a home that was built in the 1970's and recently had water damage and the insurance adjuster asked me to remove the tile so that the flooring underneath could dry.
I removed the flooring myself and now I have learned it may have asbestos. How do I tell and am I or my children in any danger because of this?
Your photo shows a bunch of what looks like vinyl tiles in boxes outdoors; from the photo I'm doubtful anyone could or even should try to identify exactly what tile this is, nor assert whether the tile in the photo (or other unseen flooring in your house) has asbestos or not.
If you knew the age of the flooring in the home (prior to early 80's) it would be reasonable (and safe) to treat the flooring as presumed asbestos-containing floor tile (PACM).
If you recognized a specific tile pattern in our online photo guide to asbestos tile you would know more certainly just what's probably there (some look like others);
Or you'd need to send a sample to a certified asbestos test lab (we list those contacts too at InspectApedia);
For a floor that is in place, intact, and is not being ground up or smashed about by demolition the level of risk is probably below the limits of detection.
For floor tiles that came up intact as those in your photo the quantity of asbestos fiber release should also be very low, as you were not breaking up the tiles; floor tiles are not friable - are not easily crumbled into dangerous dust.
Watch out: some floor tile mastics also contained asbestos filler or fibers. Beyond demolition or grinding or chopping PACM floor tiles, the greatest hazard you might create in any event would be running a conventional vacuum cleaner, thus blowing dust and (if present) asbestos particles into the building air.
In the article above ASBESTOS FLOORING HAZARD REDUCTION (found if you search InspectApedia.com for "asbestos floor tile hazard reduction") you'll see expert advice on what to do to minimize the hazard from asbestos containing floor tiles or PACM.
Watch out: If in your home there remains flood-damaged flooring that is loose or damaged and has to be removed and you want to minimize risk of possible stirring up of asbestos containing dust, also see ASBESTOS FLOORING REMOVAL GUIDE.
Question: signs of amateur and incomplete asbestos removal - what now?
I cam across your website while searching the internet about asbestos and had a couple of questions. I bought a house 3 years ago and my husband ripped up the carpet in the basement. underneath were tiles that looked like they may be asbestos tiles, so we had a certified company come in and clean up the broken tiles. we then laid carpet over the remaining tiles. I noticed recently that in the utility closet there seems to be small pieces of what looks like that tile on the floor, maybe left from a past contruction job the previous owner did. I would like to just paint over the floor to adhere anything that might be dangerous. is that a good option?
Also, the owner has a heat pipe running through the basment that was wrapped in asbestos. she seems to have had it removed and then built a sort of wooden enclsure from the ceiling around the pipe. I looked inside and can see from one of the openings a small piece of wrapping still remains. about a foot long. it looks like it has a honeycomb shape. half of it is off the pipe resting on the wooden enclosure covered in years of dust. can I just leave it alone? do I need to have it removed? it will be difficult to access it without removing some of the wooden enclosure. - S.D. 7/16/2013
S.D. please take a look at the article above, beginning at ASBESTOS FLOORING HAZARD REDUCTION -
Watch out: I would be more concerned about exposed friable asbestos materials in an occupied space or in the air path of HVAC equipment than in an enclosed pipe chase, for example. But I'd keep in mind that even asbestos left within an enclosed pipe chase may present extra costs when sooner or later someone needs to perform plumging or other work in that very area.
Questions & answers on how to minimize the risk of asbestos contamination in a building due to the presence of asbestos-containing floor tiles or asbestos-suspect floor tile coverings.
Ask a Question or Enter Search Terms in the InspectApedia search box just below.
Technical Reviewers & References
Related Topics, found near the top of this page suggest articles closely related to this one.