Asbestos is a type of silicate mineral that was used heavily in decades past to create many different kinds of building materials, including floor tiles. Now, however, the health risks associated with accidentally inhaling or ingesting asbestos fibres are well known, and homeowners are becoming increasingly concerned about the possible presence of asbestos in their homes. There are several techniques you can use to ascertain whether your linoleum or vinyl floor tiles contain asbestos.
Consider the age of your home. Asbestos-related health risks became well-known in the 1970s, and after 1972 the material began to fall out of use in new construction in the United States. If you home was built prior to the 1980s, it is more likely to contain asbestos-laden products.
Examine any damaged tiles in your home. Asbestos is a fibrous material, and if you see fibres or a fluffy-textured material peeking through the tile, or if the material is crystalline in appearance or produces a great deal of dust, it may need further testing.
Hire a licensed asbestos professional to test your flooring. Because improper handling of asbestos can increase the amount of airborne asbestos fibres, it is important to have a professional test your flooring. Only a laboratory test can conclusively reveal if a material contains asbestos.
If you cannot avoid the suspected asbestos material, seal off the room or wear a respirator mask when in close proximity to the material. Because asbestos tiles are safe if encapsulated, you can save money by laying new tile on top of the asbestos-containing tiles rather than completely removing the old tiles.
Use caution when undertaking home improvements, and hire a licensed asbestos abatement contractor to minimise the risk of asbestos exposure. It is important to remember that even if your linoleum or vinyl tiles are asbestos-free, there may be asbestos-laden tiles beneath the top layer of tiles.