What’s Asbestos and Why Is It Dangerous?

By A. Woody – The need for this post is a longtime coming for our market.  With the ages of the homes and the strong remodeling activity we are being confronted more and more by asbestos related challenges. On a recent consultation we noted a 9X9 green vinyl tile.  We were informed that it was installed early 1970’s.  Every alarm went off in our heads.  This was most likely vinyl asbestos tile. Later that same day we were in an apartment that had a vinyl tile in the kitchen that was installed also in the late 70’s.  Another alarm, this could be installed with an adhesive that is known to have asbestos in it.

We’ve all seen the lawyer ads for Mesothelioma claims.  This is a cancer growth located in the lining of the lungs and other organs.  It’s a very aggressive form of cancer that has claimed the lives of thousands of various laborers in many different industries and is caused by prolonged exposure to asbestos.  Asbestos is a natural mineral that was added to products to decrease the flammability of the product. Approximately 3000 new cases are diagnosed each year.  In excess of $30 billion has been set up in a federal trust fund that came from the largest civil action case ever in US court history.  Workers in the building trades, shipyard workers, electrical workers and more have been working with products and in environments where the tiny fibers that make up asbestos flew freely in the air.  It wasn’t till the late 1970’s to early 80’s where extreme focus was placed on the dangerous aspects of the mineral.  Asbestos was prized for its natural fire proof properties.  It was just at too high a price.

We are compelled to report our concerns to the customer and make sure they are fully versed in options when faced with these older hazardous products. There are two industry accepted solutions, well actually one is a solution the other is a cover-up.

First is to remove the asbestos.  This is the only real solution since it doesn’t leave the problem behind it eliminates it.  Unfortunately, it isn’t cheap and it’s hazardous. We certainly do not consider this a DIY project.  It should be conducted by a professional, certified contractor with experience in the removal of asbestos materials and the safety of the home going forward.  We don’t offer this service and we will only complete any flooring work when we have been provided documentation stating that the asbestos removal in complete.  We take this stuff seriously.

The other option is to cover it and forget it, for now.  So long as the asbestos material isn’t touched or worn on it will not release asbestos partials.  So this is often the course taken because it is the cheapest.  There are so many options with the advent of the locking profiles that almost any hard surface visual from wood to stone and ceramic looks can be achieved, or maybe you fancy a warm carpet.  Whatever your choice so long as the floor remains untouched, your fine. We do however want to suggest you do not glue over the asbestos material because the next homeowners may not be cautious as you and don’t know to ask about the old floor and just tear it up, exposing everyone in that home to asbestos. I don’t know about you but that would keep me up at night.

In conclusion, if you are faced with these options and you have the resources, please choose having the asbestos removed. As stewards to what we leave behind in our customers’ homes, we strongly believe it is our responsibility to leave the current and next homeowners a sturdy, sound, safe, healthy, beautiful home.

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