Asbestos! It’s a strong fire-resistant fiber which was widely used in the past for fireproofing and insulation purposes. The problem with it is that is has these small, buoyant fibers which can easily be inhaled or swallowed by people. These damaging particles have been proven to cause a number of very serious diseases which including asbestosis, (which is a chronic disease of the lungs that makes breathing extremely difficult), and cancers. So, it’s little surprise then why folks are concerned when removing asbestos floor tiles from older buildings.
Vinyl floor tiles contain asbestos (vinyl, asbestos tile – VAT) and should be handled with extreme care when being removed. The first rule is to ensure the material is in non-friable state. Asbestos is considered non-friable when the material CANNOT be reduced to dust by hand pressure. Non-friable asbestos can become friable should the tile(s) be damaged or smashed, which could average these unhealthy fibers may be freed.
Removing these tiles is no easy picnic. To start with, you will need to use protective gear such as a respirator and safety glasses which will consequence in harder breathing and poorer vision. The removal of VAT has to be done in whole pieces so as to keep the material in a non-friable state. This method that it is not safe to grind, saw or drill to assist removal.
In most states, asbestos must only be removed by licensed asbestos abatement contractors who are fully equipped and educated in the safe removal and disposal of such materials. They will usually come armed with plastic sheets to stop the particles from moving freely. VAT’s are usually wetted down too, so as to prevent any particles from becoming airborne during the removal course of action.
Safely removing asbestos floor tiles is a serious business and they are usually placed in leak proof containers and marked clearly with wording similar to “DANGER ASBESTOS-CONTAINING MATERIALS”
Once removal has been achieved, the sealed containers are transported by the empowered agent to an EPA approved landfill site where it gets buried. There are formalities and administrative procedures necessary to record the job at hand, and the applicable authorities are presented with the appropriate documents for filing upon completion.
It is NOT recommended to attempt the removal of VAT yourself and there are probably penalties if you try to and get found out. Also, the waste product needs to be disposed of safely and cannot simply be dumped with your local trash.
For more detailed information and procedures regarding the safe removal of asbestos products, search online or contact your local authorities for an up to date fact sheet.