Asbestos adhesive was used for asphalt flooring tiles and vinyl or linoleum sheet tile because it strengthened the flooring and made it more durable. It was also resistant to moisture, oil grease heat alkalis and acids. But then asbestos was found to be a health hazard. Newly laid floors with asbestos adhesives are not hazardous, but as water and/or weathering weakens the floors the asbestos crumbles and fibres are released in the air. Inhalation of asbestos fibres can cause mesathelioma cancer, and environmental experts and health professionals warn against the usage of asbestos adhesives for flooring.
Prepare the floor for removing asbestos adhesive. Switch off all heating and air-conditioning appliances that will aid air circulation. Cover all vents and openings with polythene sheets and secure with duct tape. Seal all small ducts fissures or openings with duct tape. Cover doorways with polythene sheeting. Experts recommend that the floor should be flooded with warm water for two days for optimum effects. This is because wet asbestos adhesive will not release unhealthy fibres into the air. If a two-day flooding is difficult a 30 minute flooding will do the job.
Wear a disposable work suit, gloves, boots, and eye protection. Also, be armed with heavy-duty polythene bags and duct tape and tools will help keep you safe from inhaling asbestos fibres. Take the mop, disposal towels, chemical solvent and scraper with you for the job. Check with the manufacturer if the chemical solvent you plan on using will work on asbestos adhesive. The chemical solvent should not be abrasive because any abrasive action will throw asbestos fibres into the air.
Apply the chemical solvent or amended water gently as required to the asbestos adhesive. Gentle rubbing with disposable towels or mopping should easily clean away the wet adhesive. Stubborn spots should be removed with gentle scraping. Do not grind or sand the adhesive because these actions release the asbestos fibres into the air.
Clean up and dispose of the asbestos. Cleaning up is the most important and difficult part in removing asbestos adhesive from the floor. Wipe all surfaces with a damp disposable towel. Rinse the cloth or towel and change the water at least twice. Wipe all the polythene sheeting where asbestos fibres could have settled. Put all the polythene sheets in heavy-duty waste bags and seal them with duct tape. Put the mop heads and disposable towels in disposable bags and seal them with tape. Inspect all surfaces for dust and wipe with damp disposable towel to get rid of any asbestos fibre deposit. Wash all the tools thoroughly. Wash any exposed skin thoroughly.
Clean and put disposable work suit in waste bag and seal. Wipe all other clothing with damp towel put all used towels in waste bag and seal. Take a shower to remove any possible fibre on your body.
Dispose of all waste. Disposing of the waste bags is the final part of removing asbestos flooring adhesives. The local EPA office will guide you about disposing the waste bags. You can either dispose of them at landfills that accept asbestos waste or you can inform your local waste hauler for a special waste pickup. There are also licensed contractors who will take asbestos waste for disposal.
Keeping the floor wet during the operation will pose a lesser risk to you and the rest of the house.
Resist the temptation of using abrasives or any other forceful method like cutting scrubbing or sanding because, through these methods, asbestos fibres will get suspended in the air.