Asbestos Flooring Concerns
Asbestos has been used for various things since ancient times and, in fact, the ancient Greeks (who gave asbestos its name) and the ancient Romans recognized health risks associated with the mineral. Today we know that if asbestos fibers are inhaled, they can cause serious illnesses such as lung cancer.
Nevertheless, its fireproof quality and other useful traits made asbestos a staple of the building industry until quite recently. In the U.S., it is generally believed that houses built after 1980 are asbestos free but this is not absolutely true.
Asphalt asbestos floor tiles are generally dark in color. If you come across black tiles that are very old, there's a good chance they contain a high quantity of asbestos.
Any of these floor types might put asbestos fibers into the air if sanded, stripped, cleaned by abrasion, subjected to heavy foot traffic, violently demolished and so on.
One of the safest solutions can be to have your new floor simply installed over the old, asbestos floor. This prevents any disruption to the asbestos and, if the new floor is installed correctly, effectively seals it away forever. (Although if you sell your house you should let the buyers know the old asbestos floor is there.)
If you do have to deal with asbestos flooring - or you need a positive ID made - it is best to contact an asbestos professional. When you do, ensure that they have proper certification from the federal government.