You jump into a home renovation project, and enthusiastically remove some tiles. However, as you work, you become suspicious that those square tiles may be old enough to contain asbestos. What should you do?
Asbestos is a material that was used in tiles and insulation in homes and buildings from 1930-1980. The particles can become airborne, and pose a health risk if inhaled or ingested. Do not attempt to remove asbestos on your own. Hire a company that specializes in asbestos removal. If asbestos tiles are removed accidentally, a single exposure could pose only minor health risk. That said, a professional should finish the removal process.
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What If You Accidentally Removed Asbestos Tiles?
The good news is that a single exposure to asbestos probably will not pose a major health risk. However, you will want to contain all the particles as quickly as possible.
Wet the area with water in order to keep particles out of the air, then seal them in plastic. Seal all your clothing in a bag and take a shower. Vacuum the area thoroughly.
Test the Tile
First, before you panic, it is important to determine if the tiles actually contain asbestos. There are several simple ways to test for Asbestos. Stop handling the tiles, close off the area, and conduct a test as soon as possible.
Save some money by testing the tile yourself with a home Asbestos Test Kit. The kit allows you to take a sample and mail it to a lab. They will test you and let you know if the tile contains asbestos.
Hire Someone to Test the Tile
Contact a company that specializes in asbestos removal and hazardous materials. They can come to the house to remove the tile and test it at their facilities. This option is a bit more expensive.
Remove the Tiles Yourself – NOT RECOMMENDED
Even the most experienced DIY enthusiast should not attempt to remove asbestos tiles. What’s more, many local laws prohibit homeowners from removing asbestos themselves. Check your local statutes before you try to remove Asbestos tiles from your home.
In most areas, it is also illegal to dispose of asbestos with your regular trash service. Contact your local jurisdiction to find out about proper disposal practices.
If you are able to proceed with the Asbestos removal, you will need all the gear that the professionals use. This includes:
- Plastic sheeting to seal the area – It is important to contain all the asbestos particles in one area. You also need to cover all ventilation openings to make sure that particles don’t enter the vents.
- Full-face Respirator with Filtration – Asbestos particle inhalation poses a huge health risk. It’s important to wear a mask with a respirator and filter system that is approved to filter out asbestos particles.
- Disposable coveralls – Pieces of asbestos will fall onto your clothing during the removal process. Wear disposable coveralls during removal. Remove the coveralls immediately after working, and double bag them before disposal.
- Disposable gloves and disposable shoe covers – Don’t forget about your hands and feet! Don’t leave any area exposed during asbestos removal.
- Air purifier with a HEPA filter – HEPA is an acronym for “high-efficiency particulate air”. This means that a HEPA filter is designed to filter out any particles with a size of 0.3 microns or larger. Asbestos particles are typically 0.3-0.8 microns in size.
- Pump pressure sprayer – Wet asbestos particles are less likely to float in the air and cause an inhalation risk. Keep the asbestos wet as you remove it in order to weigh down particles.
- Wet wipes – Everything that has had contact with asbestos needs to be thoroughly wiped after each use.
- Vacuum with a HEPA filter – Vacuum the tools and the area regularly with a HEPA vacuum. Empty the vacuum in a sealed area.
- Sealed bags – All the asbestos that is removed must be placed in sealed bags.
Hire an Asbestos Removal Expert
As you can see, asbestos removal is a dangerous job that requires a lot of special equipment. Please leave this job to the experts! Look in your area for a hazardous waste company that specializes in asbestos removal.
Check with the company that they are up to date on local laws in regards to asbestos removal and disposal.
What is Asbestos?
Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral. Its flexible fibers were originally used because they are resistant to heat, corrosion, and electricity. It is mined from deposits in the earth.
Is Asbestos Dangerous?
Asbestos exposure can lead to cancer or other health conditions. It is considered to be highly toxic. If dust from asbestos is inhaled or ingested, the fibers become permanently trapped in the body. Since the fibers have carcinogenic properties, their presence in the human body can lead to cancer.
There are other health risks, too. The fibers can cause inflammation and scarring wherever they get lodged. This can cause pleural effusions and plaques, and even Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).
Every exposure to asbestos increases the risk for disease since more and more of the fibers get trapped in their bodies. People at the highest risk have been exposed to Asbestos many times over years.
Asbestos isn’t banned in the United States, but it is highly regulated by four different organizations, including the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Most manufacturers stopped using asbestos in the 1980s.
Where Can Asbestos Be Found?
Asbestos is most commonly found in homes and buildings built between 1930 and 1980. It was usually used in insulation and floor and ceiling tiles.
Does Asbestos Need to Be Removed?
If Asbestos is undisturbed, the particles will not be airborne. It is only dangerous if it gets broken up and the dust is in the air. This happens most commonly during renovation projects.
If you accidentally removed asbestos from your home, don’t panic! It is most likely that you didn’t inhale enough of these dangerous fibers to cause health problems. However, do not continue the project without the help of a professional!