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Everything You Need to Know About Asbestos Tiles

Legally Reviewed by Joseph P. Williams on February 9, 2023

Asbestos tiles are floor or ceiling tiles containing asbestos, a naturally occurring mineral widely used in construction materials due to its fire-resistant and insulation properties.

However, inhaling asbestos fibers can cause serious health problems, including lung diseases and cancer. As a result, the use of asbestos in construction materials has been regulated or banned in many countries.

If you suspect your home has asbestos tiles, do not disturb them and have a professional inspect and test them. If removal is necessary, it should be done following proper safety protocols to minimize the risk of exposure to asbestos fibers. It is important to handle asbestos tiles with caution and to take steps to protect your health if you suspect they may be present in your home.

How to Identify Asbestos Tiles

Asbestos tiles can be difficult to identify without laboratory testing, but some general characteristics can indicate the presence of asbestos:

  • Age: Asbestos was widely used in construction materials before the 1980s, so tiles installed before this time may contain asbestos.
  • Texture: Asbestos tiles often have a gritty or sand-like texture.
  • Location: Asbestos tiles were often used in high-heat areas such as basements, around boilers and fireplaces, and in commercial kitchens.

Why Are Asbestos Tiles Dangerous?

Asbestos tiles are dangerous because when asbestos fibers are disturbed or inhaled, they can become lodged in the lung tissue and cause health problems such as lung diseases and cancer. Asbestos is a carcinogen, meaning it has been proven to cause cancer in humans. Inhaling asbestos fibers can lead to lung diseases such as asbestosis (a scarring of the lung tissue), mesothelioma (a type of cancer that affects the lining of the lung or abdomen), and lung cancer.

It is important to handle asbestos tiles carefully and to follow proper safety protocols if removal is necessary to minimize the risk of exposure to asbestos fibers.

How to Remove Asbestos Tiles

Removing asbestos tiles from a home should only be done by a professional with training and experience in handling asbestos materials. Here is the general process for removing asbestos tiles:

  • Preparation: The area around the asbestos tiles should be sealed off to prevent the spread of asbestos fibers during the removal process. This includes covering floors, doorways, and air ducts with plastic sheeting.
  • Testing: A professional should test the tiles to confirm they contain asbestos.
  • Personal protective equipment: The professional and anyone else in the area should wear protective equipment, including a respirator, gloves, and eye protection.
  • Removal: The asbestos tiles should be removed carefully to avoid breaking them and releasing asbestos fibers into the air. They should be placed in sealed plastic bags for disposal.
  • Clean-up: The area should be cleaned and vacuumed to remove any asbestos fibers. The professional should also ensure that the air in the area is safe to breathe.
  • Disposal: Asbestos tiles should be disposed of following local regulations for hazardous waste disposal.

It is important to note that removing asbestos tiles is a potentially dangerous process and should only be done by a professional trained in handling asbestos materials. Attempting to remove asbestos tiles without proper training and equipment can result in the release of harmful asbestos fibers into the air and put your health at risk.

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