Asbestos Linoleum [Archive] - Ceramic Tile Advice Forums - John Bridge Ceramic Tile


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08-20-2001, 11:32 AM
I have 2 layers of linoleum currently on my floor. The house is 25 years old so the bottom layer is probably asbestos (or so I have been told). What are the health risks and how should I go about disposing of this stuff?

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Paul M.
08-20-2001, 12:41 PM
Is your bottom layer square tiles or is it a sheet vinyl? I'm assuming your top layer is sheet vinyl? Did sheet vinyl ever have asbestos, or just the tiles? I'm sure someone will be along shortly with some helpful info. on this.

08-20-2001, 02:07 PM
That is an interesting question. Someone else ask me the same thing today. I plan to cut a section tonight and see if the lower layer is sheet or tiles. And yes the top layer is sheet.

08-21-2001, 08:06 AM
The bottom layer is definately sheet vinyl. Any ideas?


John Bridge
08-21-2001, 04:40 PM
Hi Bynum,

What are you going to do after the linoleum has been removed? Maybe it doesn't need to be removed.

If it does, you wear a dust mask, sprinkle the area with water and go after it with a scraper. Not much of it is going to become airborne, and even if it did, there wouldn't be enough asbestos to choke a frog.

John (cough, choke) Bridge

08-21-2001, 04:49 PM
Try this website
it gives procedures but it basically boils down to what John says.

08-22-2001, 06:25 AM
I am planning on putting down tile, and from what I have read it would be best to not put it on top of vinyl.

Thanks for the help. I will check out the web site.

Bud Cline
08-22-2001, 09:22 AM
Hey sloooooow down guys.

What's the vinyl on, wood or concrete?

08-22-2001, 12:07 PM
The vinyl is on concrete.

Bud Cline
08-22-2001, 12:16 PM
In that case, I think it should be taken out. The life of your tile job depends on how well the vinyl is adhered to the concrete. If water or moisture ever becomes an issue the vinyl adhesive may be the first thing to give up.

If the tile is properly installed directly on the concrete then maybe moisture won't be an issue.

Don't cha just hate bad news?

08-29-2001, 07:39 AM
Thanks for the advice guys. I bought a scraper last night. It looks like I have some fun in my future:)

08-29-2001, 01:58 PM

Asbestos was used in both sheet vinyl and square tiles. If you have a 9" x 9" vinyl tile (VT), pre 1985 I'd bet money it has asbestos. This was also commonly called VAT for Vinyl Asbestos Tile. If you have a 9 x 9 VT over a sheet vinyl I'll bet they both have asbestos.

The good news is that the asbestos is part of the tile matrix. This means as long as you don't destroy the matrix you won't get much asbestos in the air. If you scrap it up in fairly large pieces you are on the right track.

Friable is the term used to define how easily a material can be crushed into fine pieces. If the tile is brittle and friable there is a much greater chance that it will release fibers into the air.

Don't sand or grind the material, this is the most common way to get the fibers up in the air where you can breathe them. A common "dust mask" will help keep out the "large chunks", but Asbestos fibers are measured in microns and they go right through a dust mask. If you want serious protection buy a half face respirator with a Magenta (HEPA) filter. 3M makes great 1/2 face respirators. Where you health is concerned a bit of over kill isn't a bad idea.

Isolate the area the same way you would if you were concerned about a lot of dust. If you do see dust use a spray bottle or small 1-gallon sprayer and set it on as fine a mist as possible and knock down the dust. "IF" fibers are released, they will stay in the air a long time, and will settle on surfaces in the house. Wipe everything down when you’re done and throw the rags in the trash.

The last bit of bad news is that you also have to be concerned about the mastic that was used to glue both products. Most mastics prior to 1985 used asbestos. You can take small samples to a laboratory in your city and they can test the material and tell for sure.

Asbestosis (the disease) generally has a latentency period of 15 to 25 years, which means it takes that long before you see the affect. Generally speaking people who have gotten asbestosis are people who worked in the manufacture of the raw products or the boiler/pipe insulation business. Never the less, Asbestos is a known carcinogen and any exposure (In my opinion) is too much if you can easily avoid it.

Bud Cline
08-29-2001, 02:39 PM
Now I'm sure to catch hell but here goes.

I don't want to dismiss the hazards of asbestos and I won't. But, I'm sure all the health hazards that came to be known from working with asbestos came from the manufacturing sector, these are the unknowing people that have suffered the most from working with airborn asbestos for years and even decades.

I wouldn't suggest anyone go into a known asbestos tiled area and begin to sand the tile for some reason. But at the same time, if the tile or sheet goods are removed as whole as possible, if the worker uses a face mask, if the worker doesn't eat a sandwich or continually pick his nose during the process, I just can't see any real harm in removing a little asbestos containing flooring.

I have always felt this way and I'm sure I remove this stuff on a regular basis and don't know it. The only time we ever discuss abestos abatement is when a commercial customer with deep pockets is involved, but these can be large amounts of flooring.

So anyone with solid verifiable information about asbestos removal hazards please speak up and correct my ignorance.

08-29-2001, 03:59 PM

I am not advocating anything other than Bynum removing the flooring. I would not hire an asbestos abatement contractor. If it were my job, I would "assume" it is asbestos and take some basic pre-cautions, and get rid of it much like John suggested, with some basic precautions. I simply added additional information because I think Bynum needs enough information to make an informed decision. How he chooses to handle from there is his own business just as how you handle this material is your business.

The information I posted comes from over 20 years experience as an Environmental Engineer working with industrial chemicals in soil, groundwater, air and other things like asbestos.

If this is my project, in my house, with my wife and kids, I will go the extra mile to make sure I don't leave any asbestos fibers floating around the place. You can argue all day long about how harmful you believe it is or isn't but it is a known carcinogen (It causes cancer). Of course cigarettes cause cancer and people smoke em all the time. To each his own.

I tried to keep my previous post non-technical but I'll provide a bit of technical information since you asked.

As I stated previously "Most" incidence of asbestos related disease come from industrial settings where people manufacture the raw products or where they have installed boiler/pipe insulation. Having said that there is a linear relationship between exposure to asbestos and cancer. To put it simply, the higher the rate of exposure the higher the rate of cancer.

There are hundreds of cases where family members merely exposed to a parents clothing after work now have asbestos related disease. If you want further information look into the situation in Libby Montana and the WR Grace asbestos facility. A simple web search will suffice.

OSHA's Permissible Exposure Limit (PEL) for industry is an 8 hour Time Weighted Average (TWA) of 0.5 fibers/cubic centimeter of air(f/cc). At this level OSHA believes you won't get cancer. Kewl, In 1980 the limit was 10 f/cc, in 1987 they lowered it to 2 f/cc and now it's 0.5 f/cc. Five years who knows? What I do know is that if I can keep it to ZERO I have ZERO risk. Seems real simple to me. OSHA regulations do not apply to a homeowner removing this material in their own home, but they do provide guidance.

Good luck with your project.

John Bridge
08-29-2001, 04:08 PM
Nobody's going to catch hell, but if you guys are going to write a book, take it over to the Hangout or the Mud Box.

John (choke, cough)

Bud Cline
08-29-2001, 05:46 PM

This is a subject that is raised repeatedly and Bill's information (though too technical for me) is still very valuable to all of us including DIY'ers. As he says it's a judgement call in a residential setting and those calls really can't be made without some information.

I just don't see a major risk in removing some questionable product from a residential setting.

But hey, I'm a smoker, that tells you my level of intelligence.