Prior to the 1980s, asbestos was a frequent component in vinyl sheet flooring, especially vinyl flooring with paper backing. Asbestos was popular in many different building materials due to its durability, strength, and resistance to high temperatures. These characteristics made asbestos an affordable solution for many industrial applications, as well as in homes and public buildings.
When Was the Use of Asbestos Stopped?
The first known deaths from exposure to asbestos fibers were recorded as early as the 1930s. By the 1960s, the link between asbestos exposure and mesothelioma was well-established. Beginning in the late 1970s, laws were passed banning and phasing out the most common uses of asbestos. Strictly speaking, asbestos has not been completely banned. A number of products still contain asbestos in regulated amounts. Those working with materials containing asbestos are now properly educated to ensure they use appropriate safety equipment, and wear protective clothing to limit the risks attached to using the substance.
Asbestos in Vinyl Flooring
Many types of vinyl flooring manufactured before 1980 contained asbestos. After 1980, asbestos use in this type of flooring was phased out. If paper-backed vinyl flooring in your home was manufactured prior to 1980, for safety’s sake, assume that it contains asbestos. Do not assume that because your home was constructed after 1979, your vinyl sheet flooring must be safe. Manufacturers were permitted to use up their remaining stocks of asbestos-containing materials, even after asbestos regulation began in earnest.
What Should I Do if My Vinyl Flooring Contains Asbestos?
As counter-intuitive as it sounds, your best alternative may be to disturb the flooring as little as possible. Asbestos is most dangerous when it is friable, meaning it crumbles easily or produces a powder, potentially releasing tiny fibers into the air. Generally, vinyl floor covering is considered to be non-friable, unless it is damaged or decaying. According to the Consumer Products Safety Commission, “usually the best thing is to LEAVE asbestos material that is in good condition ALONE.”
Asbestos-containing vinyl sheet flooring can be covered by other flooring material. However, take care not to nail, drill, tack, or otherwise disturb the existing flooring. If the flooring is damaged in some way or you feel you must remove it, contact your regional EPA office to locate a licensed asbestos abatement contractor. Asbestos removal is a hazardous process best undertaken only by a qualified professional.
Help for Asbestos Disease Sufferers
For many years, companies were aware of the risks associated with asbestos exposure, yet they continued to manufacture products containing asbestos. If you or someone close to you has developed a disease related to asbestos exposure, you may be entitled to compensation. Help may be available to cover the costs of medical bills and work missed due to illness. If you or someone you love has suffered harm due to asbestos exposure, contact Bergman Draper Ladenburg Hart today, for a no-cost, no-obligation consultation.