safe removal and decontamination
First of all, are you sure that there is asbestos in your floor tiles? Make sure your vinyl floor is actually coated with asbestos, not all vinyl floors contain this material. Take a soil sample and have it analyzed, the cost is minimal. On the other hand, if you decide not to check for asbestos in your floor, assume that it contains asbestos and treat it accordingly.
Is it safe to remove asbestos floor tiles?
Unlike many asbestos-containing materials, vinyl flooring with asbestos is generally safe. However, it’s a whole different story if you decide to remove it.
Vinyl is a type of plastic that has long been a popular material for tiles and floor tiles. In fact, old vinyl products containing asbestos can still be found in many buildings across Canada today, creating a risk for independent contractors and renovators.
The reason is quite simple: working with asbestos floor tiles can release toxic dust. The lack of awareness in the past has led to terrible illnesses over time among many workers. The latter must take several precautions to dispose of asbestos floor tiles safely and it is always better to leave the removal of these to qualified professionals!
The dangers of asbestos tile
Asbestos is a toxic mineral that manufacturers once mixed with many building materials. When these old materials are removed or moved, they release dust that can make people sick later in life.
Asbestos is fibrous, which means it can be separated into a soft, woolly consistency. The mixture of asbestos fibers in building materials makes them stronger and more resistant to heat. That’s why asbestos was a popular additive in vinyl flooring for much of the twentieth century. Unfortunately, inhalation of asbestos dust can lead to several serious diseases.
When you breathe in microscopic asbestos fibers, they can get stuck in your body forever since the human body fails to eliminate them. Instead, they can eventually lead to the buildup of scar tissue or genetic changes that can lead to cancer.
It is safer to assume that any flooring material installed before 1980 contains asbestos. Without a manufacturer’s label, you can’t determine if a product contains asbestos just by looking at it.
To make sure, you can ask an asbestos removal professional to inspect the material or send a sample of the flooring to a lab for testing.
Remove asbestos tiles safely, do business with experts to remove asbestos tile
Remember that it is better and safer to leave the removal of asbestos flooring to professionals. Indeed, these experts will use protective equipment against exposure to asbestos and will know what special procedures to apply to avoid contaminating the entire building.
As a general rule, the law requires licensed professionals to remove asbestos from commercial buildings. Some jurisdictions allow private owners to remove asbestos-containing materials themselves, although self-handling is not recommended.
Equipment for safe removal of asbestos flooring includes:
Plastic sheets to seal the work area: To prevent asbestos contamination from spreading, workers must cover air vents, doors and windows with plastic shutters and turn off heating, ventilation and air conditioning appliances. All items that cannot be removed from the work area should also be covered with plastic.
Respirator with HEPA filter: Regular dust masks do not protect against microscopic asbestos fibers. Each worker must wear a mask with a HEPA filter.
Air purifier with HEPA filter: Installing an air purifier in the work area reduces the risk of contamination.
Disposable coveralls and gloves: Asbestos is difficult to remove from clothing, even when washing it. Workers must wear disposable coveralls or clothing.
Water-filled pump sprayer: keep asbestos materials moist to prevent dust from entering the air. Workers should spray the flooring and any old adhesive underneath to keep it moist at all times. A solvent may be useful for dissolving the old adhesive.
Wet wipes or a HEPA vacuum cleaner: Workers should clean the work area and all tools with disposable wet wipes to avoid stirring asbestos dust. Another option is to use a vacuum cleaner with HEPA filter to trap dry dust.
Sealed plastic bags for disposal: Many jurisdictions require that asbestos-containing materials be collected and disposed of in specially designed and labelled bags.
Since removing tiles that include asbestos can be a risky task, it’s best to contact a team of experts for this part of your renovations. Several pieces of equipment are needed to ensure both health and safety and a specific procedure must be followed at all times, so save energy yourself and call on the pros!