January 20, 2012

asbestos is a real problem

There is something to be said for asbestos products. They are inexpensive, very resistant to heat and fire, extremely durable and sturdy, yet, flexible enough to be installed even in the toughest spots. Hence it is not really surprising that the asbestos floor tile was very popular up until the 1980s. And as a matter of fact, some recently conducted studies suggests that most of the floor tiles back then consisted of two main components; vinyl and asbestos.
But as we all know there is unfortunately also another side to the story. As long as the asbestos floor tiles stay intact and remain undamaged, there is supposedly, and according to many experts, no need to be concerned. However, even little scratches or ruptures create enough of a risk for anybody on site or in close proximity, to develop serious health issues, including mesothelioma, asbestosis and certain forms of lung cancers.
Primarily for financial reasons, a lot of homeowners who exactly face this kind of problem decide to put a new layer of different flooring on top of the asbestos floor tiling. This approach is questionable though, as it may not fully resolve the issue of still having microscopically small and toxic dust particles finding their way out, getting airborne and potentially being inhaled by the homeowners.
The certainly better, yet, more costly option is to remove the damaged asbestos tiles entirely. However, that is not an easy task. Usually, all vinyl asbestos tiles were glued to the floor and it requires the adequate gear to get them removed. In this is the reason why it is highly recommendable to hire a professional asbestos removal company for the job. I strongly suggest not to add that to your 'do-it-yourself' list; the risk of doing severe damage to your health is simply too high.
I have kidney cancer and it might very well be that I got it from being exposed to asbestos, while I helped my father cutting and preparing asbestos sheets, which we later mounted on to the outside walls of our house. That was back in the mid 80s and according to my pathology report and the characteristics of my cancer, it is quite possible that I started to develop my disease over 20 years ago. This would pretty much fall into the time window where I got in unprotected contact with the material, on a daily basis over the course of several months.
Long story short; if you want to get rid of your asbestos floor tile, it is certainly advisable to hire an expert to get the job done safely and without exposing yourself to an unnecessary risk.
The author Tony Ulrich was diagnosed with kidney cancer in October of 2009. In his research on what his cancer could have been caused by, he came across with data that suggests a strong link to environmental toxics, such as asbestos.

Testing for Asbestos Contaminated Floor Tiles

If you have an older home that includes certain types of flooring such as asphalt tiles, vinyl and even sheet vinyl, it may have been installed using asbestos. It may surprise many to learn that asbestos has been used for 100's of years in many cultures. It was used due to its strength, durability, and anti-inflammatory properties.
Unfortunately, during the industrial revolution, asbestos became very popular and, at the time, was thought to be a good material for use building new homes and businesses. Of course, by the 1980's, the link between asbestos and mesothelioma was no longer able to be challenged by the makers. It was clear that asbestos was not the safe, durable product that had been advertised.
Of course, the use of asbestos fell sharply, but many homes and businesses were left with asbestos walls, ceilings and flooring.
What if My Tile Floor Tests Positive for Asbestos?
Tile flooring that was installed between the 1950's and through the early 1980's may contain asbestos. If the tiles are in good shape, tightly intact and there is no reason to remove them. You cannot become contaminated by asbestos simply by walking on a tiled flooring in which asbestos was used. Generally, you cannot tell if the tile was installed using asbestos just by visually looking at it.
Asbestos becomes dangerous when you disturb it, by pulling up the tile and placing new tile or flooring. The dust and fumes can get into your lungs, and you may become sick several years later. Many people may have replaced their floor tiles without even realizing that they contained asbestos, which means that they took no precautions when replacing the flooring.
Many people who are exposed to asbestos when it is disturbed, by actions such as changing tiles, may be at risk for developing mesothelioma, a serious asbestos related cancer. Now that the health concerns regarding asbestos have been exposed, it is vital to avoid removing tile in your home if it was installed before 1980. Instead, you will want to have it tested by a professional to see if asbestos is present. If asbestos is present, then you have to decide with the help of the professional the best course of action. If the tile is loose and chipped, replacing it may be the best option.
You do not want to take on the removal process on your own. You will need to hire a professional to come in and change out the tile so that they do so without causing risk to you and your family.
Final Thoughts
Many people who have been unknowingly exposed to asbestos have become ill years later with several different kinds of cancers, breathing issues and heart problems.

Cleaning old tile floors.

Too much of a good thing" defines the problem with cleaning old tile floors. Years and layers of wax build-up seal in dirt that cannot be removed with simple mopping. To make these floors look like new again, you must strip them completely and wax them anew.
Set Up
1. Mix stripper as per the manufacturer's specifications in a large pail with a mop. This will be known as the "slop" bucket.
2. Pour clean water into the wringer pail with a mop. This is the rinse pail.
3. Set up the floor buffing machine, with a black stripping pad in place and the wet vac at the furthest part of the room, so no one will have to walk on the clean sections as they are completed. Plan on working toward the exit.
Stripping Off The Old Wax
1. Spread a generous amount of stripping solution with the slop mop in a small area (about 25 square feet). There should be enough solution on the floor that a match can float on it. Allow the solution to sit on the floor untouched for between five and ten minutes (consult the manufacturer's instructions, as times differ by product). The floor is at its most slippery at this point, as the old wax is emulsified.
2. Buff the floor with the rotary floor machine in a circular motion; then use a back and forth motion during a second pass over the area.
3. Use the putty knife to remove wax build up in corners, along wall boards and other tight places the machine cannot reach. Do not scrape into the tile; simply glide the putty knife over the surface.
4. Vacuum the area. Then, rinse with a well-wrung-out clear water mop. Wipe off any splashes on wall boards or furnishings promptly before they dry.
5. Repeat steps one through four until the entire floor has been stripped of old wax.
6. Allow floor to dry. Check for areas of old wax which need to be scrubbed again. Once all areas have been stripped of old wax, then remove all equipment from the area before proceeding to the final section.
Apply Floor Finish
1. Elegant Cleaning Service's technicians suggest floor finish be applied by pouring one to two cups of floor finish onto the floor.
2. Using a mop dedicated to floor finish only (do not reuse mops from earlier steps), spread the floor finish in a figure eight pattern. Work small sections, making sure to overlap whenever possible, pouring one to two cups of floor finish on the floor as needed.
3. Continue until the entire floor has received a thin first coat. Allow to dry for about 20 minutes. Humidity and air movement will affect the drying time; however, a thin coat should take no more than a 45 minutes to dry.
4. Clean and pack up stripping equipment while waiting for the floor to dry.
5. Apply two more thin coats of floor finish.
Tips & Warnings
Depending on wax build up, it may be necessary to strip a floor two or three times to remove all old wax. Multiple thin coats of floor finish are more effective than thick coats. The first coat of floor finish may be replaced by a coat of floor sealer. Make sure to clean stripping equipment immediately before old wax dries on the machines.
Old tile floor may contain asbestos; therefore, never scratch or try to remove tiles without proper protective equipment. If in doubt, consult a professional.

Identifying the Dangers of Asbestos in Floor Tiles

Asbestos in floor tiles are usually safe and even legal to keep in homes, unless they get disturbed in any way. As long as it remain in good condition, harmful asbestos fibers will never be released into the air to pose any health threat. But if you are planning to remodel your house and give its tiles a new look, it is best to consult with professionals first before even attempting to remove the floor tiles on your own.
Asbestos in Floor Tiles
For houses that have been built before 1985, a home asbestos test is a must. The dangers that an asbestos contamination poses to your family's health are numerous, and keeping on the safe side is always your best choice. Just as with asbestos in textured ceiling and in any other materials suspected of asbestos content, analysis should only be done by a qualified asbestos testing laboratory. A sample for this analysis should also be taken by a highly trained professional to prevent asbestos from contaminating the air inside your house.
A test for asbestos can lessen, if not completely eliminate the dangers of asbestos contamination in your home. Although it has been banned from use, some old houses may still have asbestos-containing materials built into it. Asbestos in tiles will not pose a threat unless the flooring gets cracked or damaged in any way. When this happens, attempting to fix or remove the damaged floor tile may not be a good idea. Again, a professional should be consulted to handle this problem.
Various environmental elements like heat, weathering, water and aging can weaken and make the tiles friable and more susceptible to damage. Friable floor tiles that are in danger of crumbling and becoming pulverized should be isolated and managed immediately. Floorings that are possibly asbestos containing should never be fixed or removed without proper precautions. Types that potentially contain asbestos include:
• asphalt-based floor tiles
• vinyl floor tiles
• sheet linoleum
• other older flooring materials glued down by mastic laced with asbestos
Asbestos testing in homes will keep your family safe from the health risks posed by asbestos inhalation. Lung diseases that include asbestosis, mesothelioma and lung cancer can be prevented by proper management of asbestos content.
If you prefer to take a sample of the flooring on your own to send to an accredited laboratory, be advised on how to do it right. Taking a flooring sample for asbestos testing is best done by a sharp knife. Scraping the surface of the tile may not be enough as it is ideal to get a square inch sample that has the mastic used to glue it to the floor.
Replacing asbestos floor tiles is not easy and attempts at removing them should be consulted with a professional first. Asbestos in floor tiles when released by any type of disturbance may lead to long-term indoor air contamination. Professionals may disapprove of removing the floor tiles, especially when they are fairly intact. However, renovations can be done by installing a new layer of flooring over the ones that have asbestos content.

January 19, 2012

The Many Varieties Of Asbestos

Did you know that there is more than one type of asbestos? Many people are unaware of this and are basically shocked when they do learn about it. As it is, there is simply not enough information out there for people to really get all of the guidance that they need. The more you know about asbestos, including the various types that are out there, the safer you and your loved ones will be.
The Many Varieties Of Asbestos
You need to first understand that there are two separate families of asbestos. Within those two separate families are different kinds of asbestos. The two separate asbestos families are Amphibole and Serpentine. The main difference between the two families would be the structure of the mineral crystals. The mineral fibers that are in the Amphibole family of asbestos is sort of chain-like. The mineral fibers of the Serpentine family is more of layered sheets.
Within the Amphibole family, there is four different types of asbestos. These types are known as Amosite, Crocidolite, Actinolite and Anthophllite. You will find that Amosite is also known as "brown asbestos" and it is commonly found in the South Africian mines. Then you have the Crocidolite, which is sometimes referred to as "blue asbestos". This type of asbestos can be found in Canada, South Africa, the former Soviet Union and Austria. Actinolite is a rarer form of asbestos but still one to be cautious of because of the danger it presents.
As far as what you will find in the United States, you have Chrysotile, from the Serpentine family. This particular asbestos actually presents roughly 95% of all of the cases of asbestos in the U.S.
No matter which exact form of asbestos you are looking at, it is extremely dangerous. The asbestos fibers are very durable and should be approached with caution. These fibers are fire and heat resistant and they become airborne easier. Once these fibers are in the air, they can be trapped there for a long time. Even once the fibers settle, they are easily able to be stirred back up. When the asbestos fibers make it into the air and into the lungs of a person, serious damage is caused. However, the effects of the asbestos is usually not present for many years. In some cases, problems from the asbestos exposure may not surface for 40 years.
As you can imagine, this is a quiet, yet very deadly mineral that you have to be cautious of and that might just be harder to do than you think. This is because asbestos was used in hundreds of various materials that were used in the construction of homes for many years. If you have asbestos behind the wall you are probably fine. However, should you ever need to remodel or have a broken wall, you may be at risk for asbestos exposure and you will want to seek immediate help. Talk to professionals that are experienced in the proper removal of asbestos. If you are unsure as to whether or not your home contains asbestos, contact a professionally trained company to test your home. This is not something that you are going to want to wait on if you suspect that there may be asbestos in your home.

Asbestos Removal Industry: Cure Or Curse?

From wonder mineral of the ages to one of the worst banes of humanity. That, in a nutshell, is the story of asbestos. And the back story as well of one of the most controversial industries today, the asbestos removal industry.
The ancients considered asbestos magical and wove it into cloth. But it was during the Industrial Revolution that it began to be widely used for its heat- and chemical-resistant properties, mainly as insulation in turbines, boilers, kilns and ovens. It is also highly resistant to electricity. In the 20th century, there was even more widespread use of asbestos in buildings and homes, automobiles, and clothing. Asbestos products such as asbestos cement sheet walls and ceilings, and asbestos roof tiles were popular in home construction because they were believed to lessen the risks of fire. It has also been used in water and sewage systems. One of the heaviest users of asbestos was, in fact, the US military, especially the Navy, which used massive amounts in building warships and other vessels.
Asbestos Removal Industry
This was despite growing proof of the danger to health caused by asbestos exposure. Among the diseases linked to being exposed to asbestos are asbestosis, lung cancer, mesothelioma, a particular form of cancer directly caused by asbestos exposure, pleural plaques and pleural thickening.
Many large asbestos companies, in fact, continued to use it in construction and manufacturing well into the 1980s. They would hide their health hazard findings to get around the multi-million dollar lawsuits filed by victims of asbestos cancer. But as the evidence became cleared, government began banning the use of asbestos. Today, 60 countries have total or partial bans in place.
In the US, although the Environmental Protection Agency has no general ban on asbestos uses, it was one of the first pollutants regulated by the Clean Air Act and its use in many applications prohibited by the Toxic Substances Control Act.
With so much asbestos in houses and buildings, the problem now became how to remove it safely. This gave birth to what is now the multi-billion dollar asbestos removal industry. Much of the asbestos used in buildings comes in what is called bonded form, meaning it is mixed in with a another material like cement that it is unlikely to be released in harmful levels unless disturbed or broken.
Friable asbestos on the other hand, can easily become a powder and be released in the air as dangerous crystals that can be inhaled. Its most common use was in fire retardants sprayed onto building and house walls.
Because asbestos removal is a dangerous business, all asbestos abatement and removal workers are considered professionals who need to undergo state-approved training and certification. They are strictly required to wear safety clothing and asbestos abatement equipment. DIY asbestos removal, while possible, is not advised.
However, the growing demand for asbestos abatement services has also fueled a debate about the extent of asbestos hazards or whether the asbestos removal industry is simply cashing in on popular fears. There are also concerns about unscrupulous asbestos abatement companies following the prosecution of contractors hiring undocumented workers to undertake illegal removal work, thus exposing people to potentially painful or fatal health hazards.
In the end, though, as the saying goes, better safe than sorry. With proper regulation and enforcement of laws, it is best to have an asbestos removal industry around to safely remove an environmental and health threat that has long been in our midst.