Vinyl Asbestos Tile
Thursday October 08, 2009
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Vinyl asbestos floor tiles were made from vinyl with a component of asbestos fiber filler. They were typically available
in 9" and 12" squares. These tiles were commonly used and popular because of their resilience and the fact that asbestos is
fire retardant. In the mid 70s alarm bells started ringing when it was discovered that asbestos was the cause of several
serious pulmonary illnesses such as asbestosis, mesothelioma and even lung cancer.
In 1981 there were six major companies in the U.S. still producing vinyl asbestos tiles. When the danger of
confirmed, most companies took immediate steps to stop the use of asbestos. The last vinyl asbestos tiles were made in 1986.
Vinyl asbestos tiles proved to be a major health hazard when the tiles were being installed. They frequently had to be
sawn, cut and broken, exposing the workers to asbestos fibers. The dangerous asbestos fibers are microscopic, up to 700 times smaller than
a human hair. The fibers would float; easily being inhaled by workers and people in the vicinity. Because of their
microscopic nature, the fibers also settled on clothing and personal effects. This gave rise to a further hazard because they
then became transportable and could endanger others, particularly the families of asbestos workers.
Vinyl asbestos tile floors were also a health hazard to residents and occupants if the floor was damaged in any way. In
such cases the exposed edges released potentially harmful asbestos fibers.
Some old buildings still have asbestos vinyl flooring. The floor should never be sanded or dry buffed. If broken, or to be
removed, vinyl asbestos tiles should be handled by asbestos abatement workers only.
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