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asbestos - completely freaked out
Old 02-28-2009, 06:43 PM   #1
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asbestos - completely freaked out

We just found out today (a repair person's opinion, not a professional one) that we have asbestos tiles in our basement. Our place was built in the 60is.

For the most part the tiles are in very good shape. Well... I am totally freaked out since the same tiles are also in our laundry room. Now, in the laundry room, right at the door step, there's quite a few of them that are broken, with parts missing, exposing black-type glue. I am sure one/both of us have thrown a few pieces in the trash over the last few years. We have lived this way and kicked the tiles around for about 5 years (low priority since it was in the utility room only).

So, how bad is this? Are we all going to die? Do I need a mask to go into basement?

I have small kids in the house.

We will be calling a professional to check it out.
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Old 02-28-2009, 06:50 PM   #2
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Asbestos in inert form is harmless. It is only a problem if there are fibers floating around and said fibers are inhaled in significant amounts.

Chill, dude.
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Old 02-28-2009, 06:57 PM   #3
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What concerns me is that (apparently) broken tiles DO release fibers that linger for long, long time. Not to mention that we keep on kicking the same tiles (causing additional breaks over time). I am trying to stay calm, but worry none the less. I hate surprises like this one...
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Old 02-28-2009, 07:21 PM   #4
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If the tiles are 9" x 9" , 99% chance they do contain Asbestos fibers , and most adhesives until 1978 did. 12"x12" tiles, 90% chance they do not contain Asbestos, but the adhesive may.

Asbestos is not completly banned. Some brake and clutch linings sold today still can contain Asbestos . Some roof repair cement still does too.

As Khan said, chill out.

You can put tiles or sheet flooring over it if it still worries you . Removal by a Asbestos service company is going to cost over $1 sq ft , with about a $1000 minimum charge. ( Lot's of labor to set up a containment area, and permit fees too in some locals).

If you insist upon removal, get several bids. With construction in the tank, this type of work is on sale too.
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Old 02-28-2009, 07:24 PM   #5
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This is not something to be panicked about.
I had these same tiles in my basement, and I was initially concerned, too. First, the tiles probably do contain asbestos. Most floor tiles did in the 50s and 60s. In addition, the glue/mastic that holds them down may also contain asbestos.

The tiles are not at all dangerous if they are whole. If they crack into small bits they can release some asbestos.

You can cover them up or remove them. I needed to remove mine.

The people I contacted suggested that I remove the tiles myself. Yes, I could have hired an asbestos abatement guy to do it, but it would have cost many hundreds of dollars. If I had loose asbestos insulation/etc I definitely would have hired a pro, but this is not at all the same thing.

What I did:
- Got a good shop vac and bought a HEPA filter for it. The filter was expensive but I've usd it a lot since then and it was a good investment.
- Bought a flat-bladed spade and sharpened the end using a grinder.
- Bought a good respirator and put it on, along with some grungy clothes.
- Isolated the work area from the rest of the house. I taped the door shut, covered the registers, and turned off/taped "off" the thermostat for the duration of the project.
- Set up a box fan in one window exhausting air out of the workspace and opened another window on the opposite end of the room.
- Wet down the tiles with water and a little bit of detergent. This is to reduce the amount of loose dust/fibers even more.
- Scraped up the tiles with the shovel. Most came up whole which is what you want.
- Put all the tiles in a box, and put the box in a big garbage bag. According to the folks at my county hazardous waste office, these are NOT hazardous waste and could be put right in my trash.
- Vacuumed up the area really well with the shop vac. Dumped the slurry several times into the bags in the trash.
- I kept the box fan going a long time. I also vacuumed it a couple times.
- Threw away the respirator filters and washed the clothes a couple of times by themselves. Took a good shower.

I've talked to several people and nobody else did all this stuff, so it was probably overkill. I'm not an expert and this is not official advice on how this should be done.
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Old 02-28-2009, 07:27 PM   #6
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Remember that the people that were seriously injured by asbestos were shipyard workers who ground and breathed the stuff all day. A few loose tiles are nothing to panic over. I'd just replace the broken tiles and call it a day.
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Old 02-28-2009, 08:07 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lucija View Post
We just found out today (a repair person's opinion, not a professional one) that we have asbestos tiles in our basement. Our place was built in the 60is.

For the most part the tiles are in very good shape. Well... I am totally freaked out since the same tiles are also in our laundry room. Now, in the laundry room, right at the door step, there's quite a few of them that are broken, with parts missing, exposing black-type glue. I am sure one/both of us have thrown a few pieces in the trash over the last few years. We have lived this way and kicked the tiles around for about 5 years (low priority since it was in the utility room only).

So, how bad is this? Are we all going to die? Do I need a mask to go into basement?

I have small kids in the house.

We will be calling a professional to check it out.
Chill. The black glue is just that - glue. Primary concern is asbestos dust. Broken edges of the tile might release a bit of dust, but i wouldn't worry about it. Encapsulate with a heavy floor wax and get on with your remaining lives. Oh, and yes, you all are going to die. Me too.
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Old 02-28-2009, 09:02 PM   #8
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Asbestos is nothing to worry about. It's really no more harmful then fib erglass. It's just when you are sawing through thousands of pieces a day for years that it builds up in your lungs and can cause problem like 20 years later.
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Old 02-28-2009, 09:29 PM   #9
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Tell it to the judge, really. This happened during jury selection for a murder case. The judge kept yelling at potential jurors not to try to get off because she would send them back across the hall to the jury assembly room and they might be chosen for an asbestos case; those cases apparently go on for many months.

Sorry, that was off-topic. Ok, now back to the original topic.
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Old 03-01-2009, 09:28 AM   #10
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Twenty years ago we discovered damaged asbestos pipe insulation in our clothes closet in an apartment we were renting. We emptied the closet and taped it shut. Later we bought a house where the basement was filled with asbestos pipe insulation. We contracted to have it taken out, splitting the substantial cost with the sellers. This was all a long time ago. No ill effects to date.
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Old 03-01-2009, 09:33 AM   #11
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Thanks guys for bringing me down to Earth... I did not really think we'll all drop dead tomorrow as a result on this.

Lakewood -- yes, they are 9x9 tiles

samclem -- what made you decide to remove vs. cover up?

Anyway, I am not really concerned risks from this point on... as you pointed out they can be removed/covered.

My main concern was, and still is, the level of exposure we had up until now. As I mentioned earlier, there's quite a few broken tiles in various stages of falling apart and crumbling -- and we all have repeatedly walked over them (since they are at the entrance to the room). Any toughs/experience on this?
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Old 03-01-2009, 09:41 AM   #12
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samclem -- what made you decide to remove vs. cover up?
They were curling up on the edges and coming up on their own. I wasn't (and still am not) sure what type of flooring I'll eventually install down there, but getting these out of the way seemed the best approach so I'd have maximum flexibility. It only took a day to get rid of approx 850 sq feet of them.
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Old 03-01-2009, 11:48 AM   #13
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Asbestos is nothing to worry about. It's really no more harmful then fib erglass. It's just when you are sawing through thousands of pieces a day for years that it builds up in your lungs and can cause problem like 20 years later.
Everyone telling the OP that his/her asbestos tiles are not worth getting excited about is right.

But your analogy is misleading and false. Chronic exposure to airborne asbestos has been proven to be very harmful. Asbestosis/mesothelioma is well documented, there is no equivalent condition related to glass fibers/fiberglass. If you know of one, tell us.

I can give dozens of links, but you can Google and pick one you trust.
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Old 03-01-2009, 12:38 PM   #14
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And we can tell stories of people who didn't work at the shipyards or in asbestos factories, like my dear elderly friend. Over dinner one night she said, sotto voce, "I've been diagnosed with cancer, asbestos-related." long pause "You know, you don't have it forever." Life.
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Old 03-01-2009, 12:42 PM   #15
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As mentioned -- if these aren't disturbed and leave fibers floating around, they're really not much of a hazard. If it makes you feel better, just overlay a new floor on top of it to bury the asbestos and prevent fibers from floating around.

Besides, asbestosis was generally only a serious issue for many people who worked for years around airborne asbestos fibers. No guarantees, just as non-smokers can get lung cancer and teetotalers can get cirrhosis, but more often than not this is the case.
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Old 03-01-2009, 01:44 PM   #16
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I hate to admit it but my Son and I removed ALL of the shingles from the side of a house we lived in back in 1975. They were the 1 X 2 foot ones that actually were called "asbestos siding". We took no precautions and put them in the back of a station wagon and took them to the dump in several trips. We were having the house resided with vinyl siding and could save the "rip off" cost. He and I are fine with no signs (yet) of asbestos related cancer. I also spent about a year in a very heavy "Agent Orange" area without any cancer related problems (yet).

If you are really concerned have some of the loose stuff analyzed - not all tile from that area of time contained asbestos. If it is, I would cover the basement ones with a new hardwood (or other solid) floor and then take the laundry room ones (the loose one) out and then put down a new floor to encapsulate the remaining ones. As I understand it they could be removed by using spray bottles to wet them down first, remove them wet and put them in a plastic bag . Today, disposing of them may entail a bit of a problem that you would have to check with the local authorities about.
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Old 03-01-2009, 08:32 PM   #17
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A friend had a contractor in do some work, and the contractor ended
up offering to get a guy in to remove some ceilings covered with that
crappy popcorn stuff. Halfway through that, friend was talking to
an enviromental engineer at a party who mentioned the stuff might
contain asbestos. He had it tested, and it did. The engineer tested
the airborne level and they were high too.

Fortunately he had a place to move. It's in arbitration now and likely
court soon. The shame if it is, the idiot contractor could have done the
test with a few minutes effort and $25 cost. And he's supposed to know
about this kinda stuff - it's one of the things you pay the 15% overhead for.
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Old 03-01-2009, 09:11 PM   #18
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I got an email from my clueless sister a few years ago:

"We scraped off the popcorn ceiling from the family room ceiling. Huge and messy job - but it's done!"
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Old 03-02-2009, 11:42 AM   #19
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I got an email from my clueless sister a few years ago:

"We scraped off the popcorn ceiling from the family room ceiling. Huge and messy job - but it's done!"
Depending on the locale and year, that popcorn ceiling might have asbestos, or it might not. Asbestos use started to phase out in 1978, but you might find it used in construction as late as 1986. Our current home, built in 1987, used a slurry of styrofoam bits in plaster, with no asbestos. (Still a messy job!)

I'd recommend getting a cheap test kit online. Results take about 2 weeks to come back.
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Old 03-02-2009, 12:42 PM   #20
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I've got a roll of asbestos sheeting that I bought back in the 1970's that I still occasionally use when I need to heat shield something - like soldering a pipe in a wall. I also run with scissors.

Maybe this should be posted in the Secrets thread.
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