Q:

Does my linoleum contain asbestos?

A:

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Printing on the reverse side of linoleum tiles often provides a homeowner with information regarding whether the linoleum contains asbestos. Scraps of unused linoleum may contain this same information. About.com warns that flooring with manufacture dates from 1952 to 1986 likely contains asbestos. When trying to remove existing flooring, inspect the reverse of the tiles, as floor removal may release asbestos.

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Laboratory testing of the flooring is another method of testing toxicity. Labs require a 1-inch square sample of the material. About.com tells owners to place the sample in a zippered bag before packing and mailing it to a lab. Having the lab come to a home to collect a sample easily triples the cost of testing.

Even if the linoleum itself is free of asbestos, the San Francisco Gate warns that adhesives from the same time period also contain asbestos. Removal of the flooring that uses this adhesive may also expose the occupants of the area to the cancer-causing fibers. Many states have laws that prohibit owners from removing any asbestos-containing materials from their homes or businesses.

About.com recommends leaving asbestos flooring in place whenever possible. Unless the owner is planning to restore the wood flooring underneath the linoleum, placing new materials over the asbestos-containing materials safely seals the asbestos fibers in place. If the flooring requires removal, the Minnesota Department of Health recommends hiring a licensed asbestos removal contractor to complete the job.

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