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Old 02-22-2018, 06:31 PM   #1
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Does this type of removal make Asbestos Tile & Mastic friable?

I had asbestos tiles that were tested at a lab and came back positive for asbestos in tile and also in the black setting glue on back.

Last year, I decided to have it all covered with thin set by a contractor before installing new tile on top.

Contractor did not have any license for asbestos removal.

The employee was told not to remove or touch any tiles, but instead the contract stated he would use thinset to cover them.

He even said he knew that they were asbestos by sight because he once owned a servpro business and would charge 5k for removal if it were him.

Again, he was told not to touch them, only cover.

Well he was a maniac and took up at least 10 tiles by hammering, scraping them loose with a crow bar and generally insane smashing of them.

When I complained to his employer, they refused to hire an abatement company.

The company owner than wrote a rude and dismissive note saying that the tiles were loose and non friable so they didnt need a license.

But my photos, videos and the saved bag of trash shows otherwise.

Anyway, after I had everything remediated, I contacted this company for a refund.

They told me since I canceled the contract, I would have to arbitrate with them to get a refund.

I am now trying to figure out how to estimate how much and what released into the air during the unapproved removal.

Any advice or resources for figuring this out?

TL;DR Contractor employee removed asbestos tiles by smashing them, refuses to refund me, how to estimate asbestos content.
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Old 02-23-2018, 01:30 PM   #2
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Peter it sounds like you already brought out an abatement company to clean up the mess? Vinyl tiles are usually in the 2-6% asbestos range. The asbestos is locked into the structure of the tile. Simply cracking a tile does release some but not nearly as bad as grinding/sanding/crushing etc. Even then it's not a huge quantity due to the low percentage by content.

You also have to understand there are many different types of asbestos. Most of what we saw in our building products was Chrysotile asbestos. Now SOME studies suggest that Chrysotile is not as harmful as other types of asbestos (such as amphibole). But it is still a hotly debated issue. The official stance from all the major world health organizations is that any exposure at any level or type of asbestos is a hazard. But you have to understand that the same can be said for radiation. There is no safe level of radiation exposure because you never know when a particle or ray may hit your DNA in such a way that it creates a malignancy that flys under the radar of your immune system. There is no way to know when an asbestos fiber will implant in your lung and create an irritation that leads to a malignancy.

BUT radiation and asbestos is not something new to human beings. You are constantly breathing in asbestos fibers and constantly being bombarded with radiation. Both exist naturally in nature. If you take an air sample from virtually anywhere (but especially in cities and industrialized regions) and analyze it with an electron microscope you will see some asbestos fibers in the sample.

So what we try to do is minimize our exposure because there is a mathematical relationship between both radiation exposure and asbestos exposure that increases your chances of developing a disease. Something interesting we saw in occupational exposure is that you would have a worker breathing in tons of the stuff everyday yet they would never go on to develop an asbestos related cancer but their poor wife who was exposed to a tiny fraction via what he tracked into the house and via washing his clothes would go on develop an asbestos related cancer. We are all built different and some immune systems are more adapt at dealing with carcinogens than others. That is why no health organization can safely say that some level of exposure is safe (because mathematically we know a single fiber can potentially cause a cancer under the perfect storm even though it may be almost infinitely improbable).

So a more reasonable way to look at it things like asbestos/radiation and cancer is we want to minimize our exposure as much as reasonably possible. OSHA for example sets a standard for daily exposure to workers for asbestos (which is the same thing they do for radiation in the nuclear industry). Note that in both cases the acceptable exposure level is not 0. Does that mean that if you stay under that level of exposure you won't get radiation/asbestos related cancer? No it just means that mathematically something else is FAR more likely to kill you before the odds catch up to you. BTW anytime you get an X-ray or take a flight you increase your chance to radiation induced cancer. Your chances of developing cancer from that 1 event is not 0.

Another interesting thing is to look at the cancer and mortality statistics of the town of Asbest in Russia who specializes in mining and disrupting the stuff. It is elevated compared to the surrounding region but not hugely so which is kind of what we would expect mathematically. I mean in the asbestos hayday you had guys spraying, grinding, cutting, and in short constantly aerosolizing this stuff (often in confined spaces) daily for years on end. Many went on to get asbestosis which is from the raw damage of the fibers but plenty never got cancer. Now don't get me wrong it killed (and continues to kill) A LOT of people. But these people were exposed to unimaginable levels of it daily for decades. Compared to what we allow now it would be like the current radiation OSHA standards vs allowing workers to hang out near the reactor cores of Fukushima and Chernobyl. The thing with asbestos is due to the long latency period people often died of other things before it had a chance to get them (such as heart disease which kills 1 in 6).

Anyway this turned into a long winded post about Asbestos but I guess what I'm trying to get at is: Hey try to minimize your exposure best you can by taking reasonable steps as recommended by the health organizations around the world. Don't do anything stupid that would increase your exposure risk unnecessarily when it can be avoided. I take it you already had it abated to the best of your ability. Perhaps call the abatement company and see if they recommend doing anything else around the house (perhaps keep a hepa air filter running for a while). And ultimately don't get too caught up stressing over things that are mathematically improbable and now out of your control when it's far more likely other risks in your life will do you under.
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Old 02-23-2018, 04:10 PM   #3
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Pretty much any arguing is moot.

The empoyee knew the tile was asbestos, is not qualified to remove them, yet removed them anyways. The company is on the hook. Did you do the appropriate thing by hiring an abatement company? This is one time when lawyers are useful in making sure responsibility is placed where it belongs and in the right proportion.

Best of luck.

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Old 02-23-2018, 07:23 PM   #4
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Although asbestos is harmful there has been a proliferation of scammers out there that would scare a the beejessus out of homeowners so they can charge him a small fortune to remove it.Like the poster above said floor tiles have the fibers locked in so there's not much danger there. Heating pipes covered in canvas and containing asbestos in the form of plaster is where the danger is.
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Old 02-24-2018, 03:50 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by Peter
I am now trying to figure out how to estimate how much and what released into the air during the unapproved removal.
Not enough to make a difference. It was 10 tiles. Nobody in the house is going to drop dead tomorrow.
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Old 02-24-2018, 08:19 AM   #6
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John, thanks for that long winded post . I feel like with all Iíve read about contaminants and other hazards, your synopsis really does a great job in giving a practical, working understanding.
I anticipate this clarification will serve me well in the future.

OP, I appreciate your concern and encourage you to pursue this situation however you want, but I am fairly certain this contractor was not in any way trying to cut corners or create a dangerous situation for you or his crew. This sounds like a simple floor job and encapsulation is very often the most practical way to give you, the homeowner a good result without proposing crazy expensive removal options which are arguably unnecessary.
I have lost several jobs Iíve bid after I mention abatement for lead or asbestos. Generally, folks donít want their bathroom remodel to jump up ten grand in price. Itís a bad situation all around: fifty years ago we used questionable materials everywhere and now that science has taught us something, itís suddenly alarming everyone. (Rightly so, maybe)
It just sucks that good contractors are often the ones being punished for
honestly trying to do the best they can without charging themselves out of business.
I am not at all denying there are plenty of unscrupulous types out there just being hacks and putting everyone involved at risk. In reality, is doesnít sound like your tile guy is one of those. A local guy by me recently was busted for hiring a bunch of guys working for cash to gut several blocks of asbestos laden properties he had bought. These unfortunate workers were clueless and I feel this developer deserves a special kind of death. I think we hear these stories too often and just assume contractors are just out to get you.

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