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Identifying Asbestos Floor Tiles

 

Identifying Asbestos Floor Tiles

Identifying Asbestos Floor Tiles

For homeowners and builders, the importance of identifying asbestos floor tiles cannot be overemphasized. Asbestos in vinyl products, such as in floor tiles, can cause some serious illnesses like mesothelioma and asbestosis when inhaled and swallowed over a prolonged period. Asbestos, a silicate-based material, should then be identified and removed promptly and adequately to reduce the risks for these serious, often fatal, illnesses.

Carefully Examine the Tiles

Your first step is to review the floor tiles’ overall condition carefully. Keep in mind that asbestos will not be harmful to health when it’s in good shape and fully intact so check for damage, such as cracks and breaks. When the floor tiles are a bad condition, these will release asbestos fibers into the air and, thus, become a hazard to health.

In the case of damaged floor tiles, you should ideally contact an asbestos professional for prompt and proper removal of the materials. You – or the general contractor hired for the job – should not begin work on putting in a new floor without the completion of this task.

If the asbestos floor tiles are still in good condition, you may safely build over them. You should discuss options, nonetheless, with a flooring professional as there are still risks to the asbestos accidentally being released into the air.

Thoroughly Check for Discoloration

You should also check for discolored parts on the floor tiles. If you see parts with dark gray, grayish brown, black, or dark brown colors, then these likely have asbestos fibers already releasing their toxic compound into the air. The dark colors are due to the addition of asphalt as the main ingredient in these tiles.

Date the Tiles

You cannot obviously give an exact date for the asbestos tiles, but you can make approximations. These tiles were popular between the 1920s and 1960s, a period when the tiles were made in 9-inch squares (i.e., slightly thicker than contemporary vinyl tiles). You should be careful as the adhesive used in their installation might also contain asbestos, thus, emphasizing careful handling in their removal.

Carefully Collect a Tile Sample

The best way to determine that, indeed, the floor tiles contain asbestos to have these submitted for laboratory testing. You should use a utility knife in cutting a few samples free from the sub-floor before placing them in a plastic bag. You should tightly seal the bag to ensure that the asbestos fibers stay inside.

You should ideally cover the area wherein you cut the samples with duct tape. Your purpose: To reduce the risks of the asbestos fibers escaping into the air before removal can be made.

Submit for Laboratory Testing

While you can use home testing kits for the purpose, you are well-advised to submit the samples to an accredited laboratory. You will be required to send at least three samples for testing.

In most of these steps, you should wear a face mask and a pair of gloves as your protective gear. You shouldn’t take any risks in identifying asbestos floor tiles even for just a short period of exposure to their fibers.

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