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Asbestos, notorious for its harmful health effects, requires careful handling and specialized knowledge to ensure proper disposal. Whether you accidentally disturbed these hazardous tiles during a home renovation project or discovered its presence during a property inspection, knowing what to do next is crucial.
Never try to repair or remove asbestos flooring tiles yourself. Mishandling asbestos materials can spread asbestos fibers around your property, leading to potential health hazards for you and anyone else who lives there. If you accidentally removed asbestos tiles, here are the steps you should follow to handle asbestos carefully before contacting a professional to handle asbestos removal.
What Is Asbestos and Why Was It Used in Buildings?
Asbestos was used as an inexpensive home construction material from the early 1940s to the ’70s. It had various construction purposes at the time, including thermal and acoustic insulation, roofing, and tiling. This is why homes built before 1975 had plenty of asbestos used in construction.
It wasn’t until the ’70s that information about the dangers of asbestos became widespread. More people learned that prolonged exposure to asbestos fibers led to lung disease. Asbestos wasn’t totally banned in the United States, but the substance was heavily regulated so that products could only legally have up to 1% of asbestos content.
While construction eventually shifted to less hazardous insulation and tile options, plenty of homes across the United States still had asbestos products used. As a result, many old houses and buildings still have asbestos in their insulation, ceiling, flooring tiles, and other materials unknown to their occupants.
How To Test for Asbestos Tiles
If your property was built before the 1980s, there’s a possibility that it has some asbestos materials, such as asbestos tiles. The most common tiles were the vinyl or linoleum tiles, though having these in your property doesn’t indicate that it has asbestos. There’s a way to test your ceiling tiles for asbestos. However, the United States Environmental Protection Agency recommends doing this only if your ceiling tiles show damage or you plan to renovate an old property and want to move the tiles. Always have an accredited asbestos professional remove a part of the tile, and they’ll have it inspected by a qualified laboratory.
What To Do if You Accidentally Removed Asbestos Tiles
For the most part, non-friable asbestos products, such as asbestos tiles, are unlikely to spread asbestos fibers in the air if they are left whole. However, damaged, cracked, and broken asbestos tiles can spread microscopic fibers. Friable asbestos, such as insulation and ceiling texturing, is more likely to crumble and spread fibers.
If you went ahead with renovating without checking and suspect you have accidentally removed asbestos tiles, follow these steps. You shouldn’t handle asbestos tile removal yourself, so these steps are designed to minimize the health risks until you can contact a professional who can remove the tiles safely.
- If the asbestos tiles are still whole and have no signs of damage, it’s best to leave it as is. Avoid cutting, hitting it, or doing anything to disturb it, as it can lead to releasing asbestos fibers.
- If the asbestos tiles are damaged, wet them with water to keep the fiber particles attached to the tile. Seal the tile in a plastic bag.
- Avoid dry brushing or rubbing your hands down, as it can potentially release asbestos fibers into the air. Instead, get a damp rag and wipe yourself down.
Seal off the room. Close the windows, vents, and air ducts leading to the room. Close the door and tape the bottoms to prevent gaps where asbestos fibers can escape. Don’t let anyone enter the room except a professional technician to handle asbestos removal.
- Remove your clothing, seal it in a plastic bag, and then take a shower.
- Contact a professional technician to handle asbestos tile removal.
A few safety precautions to note during this process:
- If you were wearing a respirator or disposable protective equipment, double-bag these and dispose of them.
- Avoid shaking the dust off your body. There’s no telling whether the dust has microscopic asbestos fibers that could launch into the air.
- Avoid using a vacuum cleaner to clean the room. The asbestos fibers could be a health hazard when disposing of your vacuum’s contents.
Removing Asbestos Tiles Safely: Why You Should Work With a Professional
Asbestos tiles can only be removed safely by a professional technician. Asbestos is a highly hazardous material that can pose serious health risks if improperly handled. Experienced technicians provide the following:
- Protective Gear and Equipment: Professional technicians have the right protective gear to ensure their safety when removing asbestos. They also have the necessary equipment to remove asbestos materials without potentially releasing asbestos fibers into the air.
- Experience: Technicians have undergone extensive training in asbestos removal. They know the best practices to ensure that asbestos is removed effectively while minimizing the risks to themselves, those on the property, and those in the vicinity who could end up inhaling the fibers.
- Regulation Compliance: Professional technicians know the latest local, state, and federal regulations for handling asbestos. Since the 1970s, laws have cracked down on properly handling and disposing of asbestos. They know how to contain your asbestos tiles, decontaminate your room, and dispose of the tiles in accordance with the law.
How Long Does Asbestos Stay in the Air?
Asbestos fibers can stay in the air for a long time, especially if disturbed and released into the atmosphere. Their airborne persistence depends on many factors, such as particle size, airflow, and ventilation. Asbestos fibers may remain suspended in a controlled environment for several hours or even days. However, in normal conditions, the fibers usually settle relatively quickly.
Regardless of how long it could stay in your room, it is crucial to note that inhaling any amount of asbestos fibers can be harmful, even if the fibers are only present for a short period. We strongly recommend avoiding asbestos exposure and leaving the removal to professionals.
Trust Restoration 1 of Bryan and College Station for Asbestos Removal Solutions
If you find yourself in a situation where you accidentally remove asbestos tiles, there are steps you can take to minimize the health hazard for yourself and those on the property. Once you’ve taken the proper steps, contact a technician to handle the rest of the asbestos removal process. Remember: asbestos removal is not a DIY job.
At Restoration 1 of Bryan and College Station, we understand the urgency of keeping your property safe for everyone, especially in cases like discovering asbestos. Our certified technicians can provide quick service and remove the hazard from your home.
Contact Restoration 1 of Bryan and College Station at (979) 341-6869 for assistance with asbestos removal for your property.