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  1. #1
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    Default Asbestos tile question

    I had an inspection the other day on an older home that had asbestos tiles in the basement. They were in "ok" condition, except for a couple of tiles that were cracked and a couple were broken. It also looked like there had been some water damage in a few places. Low spots and around the floor drain. I was wondering if anyone would be willing to share how they would report this. I would appreciate it since I’m a newbie to the field. Thanks, sorry no pictures.

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  2. #2
    Ken Bates's Avatar
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    Default Re: Asbestos tile question

    I advise my clients that if the tiles are being removed precautions employed with asbestos should be observed.

    You don't have to report on environmental issues and can defer them to experts.

    However, I tell my clients that if the tiles lift off easily there is no concern.
    But, if they have to scrape then masks and hepa filtered vacuums are recommended.


  3. #3
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    Default Re: Asbestos tile question

    john

    how do you know they are asbestos tiles, are you an asbestos expert---report it as possible asbestos like material. recommend they have the tile evaluated by a licenced asbsestos lab. how old is the house ?? don't say the words asbestos or mold unless you know you are certain, and we are home inspectors not lab technicians. yes sometimes asbestos and mold reaches out to us and is obvious, but be careful. that can kill a deal for buyer and your future with that agent

    charlie


  4. #4
    scott abraham's Avatar
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    Default Re: Asbestos tile question

    I would suggest that the tile be identified as possible asbestos containing material (PACM) requiring further testing for verification. Cracked tiles that are "hot" are the concern - this puts verified asbestos containing materials in the category of friable materials, meaning it is now a potential health threat. Also, in regards to water damage, in Texas, TCEQ defines areas less than 25 contiguous square of mold as non-health-threatening and can be categorized as requiring regular "housekeeping" techniques.

    - scott


  5. #5
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    Default Re: Asbestos tile question

    John.

    You find this useful in understanding the general implications of possible asbestos containing floor tile and adhesive:

    Floor Tile Removal - Minnesota Dept. of Health

    Michael Thomas
    Paragon Property Services Inc., Chicago IL
    http://paragoninspects.com

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Asbestos tile question

    Thank you all for the information! This will help me in the future when I run into Asbestos tile.


  7. #7
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    Default Re: Asbestos tile question

    A general rule of thumb is
    99% of 9x9 tile will contain some asbestos while
    99% of 12x12 tile will not contain asbestos.
    In both cases if the mastic is black it probably contains asbestos also.
    But as Charlie said you do not know for sure unless you have it tested.


  8. #8
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    Default Re: Asbestos tile question

    Damon,

    Great rule of Thumb, I will keep that in mind. But what I have learned is, that it's important to note that it is a "like substance" and I will use every time.

    Thanks


  9. #9
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    Default Re: Asbestos tile question

    While not a big fan of boilerplate text, I do have some for "jes such an emergency".

    This statement is in my report:

    NOTE ABOUT LEAD AND ASBESTOS: Tests for lead or asbestos are beyond the scope of this inspection. Concerning lead, any home painted prior to 1980 may have lead in the paint. Alternately, any home plumbed prior to 1988 could potentially have lead in the solder. Lead is especially damaging to children under six whose bodies are still developing.
    Concerning asbestos, if a home, or anything in it, was built during the heyday of asbestos mining, manufacturing, and application -prior to the mid-1970s- there is a very good chance some of materials will be asbestos-containing. The materials can be everywhere, outside and in, from the roof to the basement and are very difficult, if not impossible, to spot.

    Please see the following websites for further information regarding lead and asbestos:

    Lead Home | Lead in Paint, Dust, and Soil | US EPA
    What You Should Know About Lead Based Paint in Your Home: Safety Alert
    Lead in Your Drinking Water - Fact Sheet - Archive | Lead In Drinking Water Home | Safewater | US EPA
    Mesothelioma | Asbestos.com - The Leading Mesothelioma Cancer Resource
    Asbestos | US EPA

    Hope that helps.
    Bruce

    Bruce Thompson, Lic. #9199
    www.TylerHomeInspector.com
    Home Inspections in the Tyler and East Texas area

  10. #10
    George Bronx's Avatar
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    Default Re: Asbestos tile question

    Quote Originally Posted by Damon McCarty View Post
    A general rule of thumb is
    99% of 9x9 tile will contain some asbestos while
    99% of 12x12 tile will not contain asbestos.
    In both cases if the mastic is black it probably contains asbestos also.
    But as Charlie said you do not know for sure unless you have it tested.
    I hate to grave dig threads, but I had to say that this is pretty much categorically incorrect.

    In the last 4 years, I have taken thousands of floor tile samples from residential, commercial and industrial sites. I've been in many buildings where all the 9x9 had no asbestos and all the 12x12 did. While it is true that you will find 9x9 asbestos-containing tile more readily than 12x12 tiles, there is no general rule of thumb for calling out odds on the asbestos content of floor tile.

    The ironic part about floor tile today is that the 12x12 tiles that do contain asbestos have up to 5 times the amount of asbestos as their 9x9 predecessors. 9x9 tiles generally have/had 3 to 5% while the 12x12 tiles have upwards of 15% (remember, the U.S. EPA defines asbestos-containing material as anything having greater than 1%; OSHA says "any asbestos").

    The worst part, I think, is that most people don't realize that you can still buy asbestos-containing floor tiles (among other things) in the US. Its never been banned. You can go to Lowes, Home Depot, etc. and pick up a box of brand new floor tile that will say absolutely nothing about "asbestos", but will still have 10 to 15%. They use magic words like "natural fibers" or the the specific asbestos name like "Chrysotile" or the more generic group name "Serpentine". It really reads like a conspiracy and you can find it quite easilly if you know what to look for.

    If you're looking for a rule of thumb to use, try this one:
    "Floor tiles are suspect asbestos-containing materials."

    But, if they have to scrape then masks and hepa filtered vacuums are recommended.
    On a side note, not all HEPA filters are created equal. The hepa filter that is in my upright vacuum, is not the same as the HEPA filters used in the asbestos industry. The pore size on most commercial hepa filters is designed to filter "Removes 99.97% of common household dust, pollen, mites and other particles" (from the Kirby website) while the HEPA filters in the asbestos industry filter "99.97% of all particulates greater than .3 microns." Its like comparing filtering VW Bugs to ping pong balls. If you vacuum asbestos with a commercial vacuum, you are just throwing it into the air. Also, the masks use the same level of filtration the vacs do - typical dust masks won't cut it.

    Last edited by George Bronx; 06-20-2009 at 12:53 PM. Reason: grammar gestapo got me :p

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Asbestos tile question

    hmmm, that's odd. I have spent over 20 years with asbestos, but it was allmost completely all here in Oklahoma.


  12. #12
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    Default Re: Asbestos tile question

    I was more that a bit surprised to discover that (underlining mine):
    • III. TOXIC SUBSTANCES CONTROL ACT (TSCA) Authority:

      A. July 1989 EPA rule commonly known as the Asbestos Ban and Phaseout Rule (40 CFR 763, Sec. 762.160 - 763.179)

      NOTE: Much of the original rule was vacated and remanded by the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in 1991. Thus, the original 1989 EPA ban on the U.S. manufacture, importation, processing, or distribution in commerce of many asbestos-containing product categorieswas set aside and did not take effect.

      B. Federal Register, Nov. 5, 1993 (58 FR 58964), factual determinations:continuing restrictions on certain asbestos-containing products.

      In this FR notice, EPA stated its position regarding the status of its ban on various asbestos-containing product categories. The status is briefly summarized below:


      Products still banned -
      Six asbestos-containing product categories that are still subject to the asbestos ban include:
      1) corrugated paper, 2) rollboard, 3) commercial paper, 4) speciality paper, 5) flooring felt, and 6) new uses of asbestos.


      Products not banned -
      Asbestos-containing product categories no longer subject to the 1989 TSCA ban include: asbestos-cement corrugated sheet, asbestos-cement flat sheet, asbestos clothing, pipeline wrap, roofing felt, vinyl-asbestos floor tile, asbestos-cement shingle, millboard, asbestos-cement pipe, automatic transmission components, clutch facings, friction materials, disc brake pads, drum brake linings, brake blocks, gaskets, non-roofing coatings, and roof coatings.

      C. Federal Register, June 28, 1994 (59 FR 33208), Technical Amendment in Response to Court Decision on Asbestos

      Revised the language of the asbestos ban rule to conform to the 1991 Court decision. Contains definitions; manufacturing and importation prohibitions; processing, and distribution in commerce prohibitions. Also clarifies labeling requirements for specified asbestos-containing products.

      IV. SUMMARY

      A. BANS on some ACM products and uses remain at this time (April 1999)

      What are they?

      Under the Clean Air Act:
    • Most spray-applied Surfacing ACM
    • Sprayed-on application of materials containing more than 1% asbestos to buildings, structures, pipes, and conduits unless the material is encapsulated with a bituminous or resinous binder during spraying and the materials are not friable after drying.
    • Wet-applied and pre-formed asbestos pipe insulation, and pre-formed asbestos block insulation on boilers and hot water tanks.

      Under the Toxic Substances Control Act:
    • Corrugated paper, rollboard, commercial paper, specialty paper, flooring felt, and new uses of asbestos.

      B. EPA has no existing bans on most other asbestos-containing products or uses.
    Source:

    EPA Region 10 - Clarification on Ban of Asbestos-Containing Materials

    Last edited by Michael Thomas; 06-21-2009 at 06:46 AM.
    Michael Thomas
    Paragon Property Services Inc., Chicago IL
    http://paragoninspects.com

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Asbestos tile question

    Quote Originally Posted by scott abraham View Post
    Cracked tiles that are "hot" are the concern - this puts verified asbestos containing materials in the category of friable materials, meaning it is now a potential health threat. scott
    Your definition of friable doesn't jibe with the one from the Minnesota Dept of health (link).

    "Friable flooring includes any material containing more than 1 percent asbestos that can be crumbled, pulverized or reduced to powder with hand pressure."


  14. #14
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    Default Re: Asbestos tile question

    Tile has allways been a questionable material. (friable vs nonfriable).
    It seems to me most states treat it's removal different.
    Here in OK it drives ODOL crazy because they can't get their nose (or should I say fees) in it.
    You aren't going to get any significant fiber release out of it unless you drill, saw, pulverize... by some mechanical means.
    Neal, you are correct. Tile just laying there cracked is not friable.


  15. #15
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    Default Re: Asbestos tile question

    I don't say a word about it since it's specifically excluded in my contract and generally in my state SOPs. If it's damaged floor covering I might mention it but as far as containing asbestos, I don't know and don't care... not my deal. It's not what I said I'd do or what my licensing authority said I have to do.


  16. #16
    George Bronx's Avatar
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    Default Re: Asbestos tile question

    Quote Originally Posted by Damon McCarty View Post
    hmmm, that's odd. I have spent over 20 years with asbestos, but it was allmost completely all here in Oklahoma.
    Not entirely sure what you mean by this.


  17. #17

    Default Re: Asbestos tile question

    Good morning, All –

    Good discussion on asbestos. I have supervised literally hundreds of asbestos abatement projects and collected several thousand asbestos samples of the course of the last 20+ years. I was pretty sure this information was hammered out here some years ago. The asbestos “ban” simply was not what people thought it was. Many people would be horrified to learn that their drinking water is still brought to them via asbestos pipes, of which there are miles still in use. In fact, while OSHA has established an asbestos airborne permissible exposure limit permitting no greater than one fiber per 10 cc of air (as a time weighted average), the US EPA has established a maximum concentration limit in drinking water of no more than 70,000 fibers in the same volume of water! The reason for the apparently huge discrepancy has to do with the toxicology of asbestos.

    From the perspective of total body burden, a US Employer could legally allow an employee to inhale over 680,000 asbestos fibers per day. By contrast, the approximate body burden from drinking water at the MCL would be approximately 17 million fibers per day. Both of these burdens are within “acceptable” limits.

    I frequently use asbestos as a comparison with mould spores for those idiots who frighten people with B.S. about a spore count of say 20,000 mould spores per cubic meter being dangerous. If 20,000 mould spores per cubic meter of air is dangerous then one is forced to argue that mould spores are five times more dangerous than asbestos.

    Regarding the comment on HEPA filters – George Bronx is not quite correct. Let’s look at his statements:

    On a side note, not all HEPA filters are created equal.

    Actually, they are, to the extent that all HEPAs must meet minimum requirements. The term HEPA has a “legal” definition.

    The hepa filter that is in my upright vacuum, is not the same as the HEPA filters used in the asbestos industry.

    Yes, they are. But the performance of the unit as an whole, may not be that of a commercial vacuum unit used in the asbestos industry.

    The pore size on most commercial hepa filters is designed to filter "Removes 99.97% of common household dust, pollen, mites and other particles" (from the Kirby website) while the HEPA filters in the asbestos industry filter "99.97% of all particulates greater than .3 microns."

    Well, I haven’t seen the Kirby website, but here’s the deal with HEPA filters – ALL HEPAs must be capable of capturing and retaining at least 99.97% of all monodispersed particles of 0.3 microns aerodynamic diameter.

    The reason the 0.3 µm size is referenced is because that is the size range most difficult to capture – particles larger than this size, and particles SMALLER than this size are EASIER to capture, and the capture curve of a standard HEPA looks similar to this:



    The above curve is actually for a respiratory protection filter, but the capture curves for all such filters are similar.

    If you vacuum asbestos with a commercial vacuum, you are just throwing it into the air. Also, the masks use the same level of filtration the vacs do - typical dust masks won't cut it.

    That part is correct!

    Cheers!
    Caoimhín P. Connell
    Forensic Industrial Hygienist
    Forensic Industrial Hygiene

    (The opinions expressed here are exclusively my personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect my professional opinion, opinion of my employer, agency, peers, or professional affiliates. The above post is for information only and does not reflect professional advice and is not intended to supercede the professional advice of others.)

    AMDG

    Last edited by Caoimhín P. Connell; 06-26-2009 at 09:53 AM. Reason: spellin'

  18. #18
    George Bronx's Avatar
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    Default Re: Asbestos tile question

    Quote Originally Posted by Caoimhín P. Connell View Post
    Regarding the comment on HEPA filters – George Bronx is not quite correct. Let’s look at his statements:

    On a side note, not all HEPA filters are created equal.

    Actually, they are, to the extent that all HEPAs must meet minimum requirements. The term HEPA has a “legal” definition.

    The hepa filter that is in my upright vacuum, is not the same as the HEPA filters used in the asbestos industry.

    Yes, they are. But the performance of the unit as an whole, may not be that of a commercial vacuum unit used in the asbestos industry.

    The pore size on most commercial hepa filters is designed to filter "Removes 99.97% of common household dust, pollen, mites and other particles" (from the Kirby website) while the HEPA filters in the asbestos industry filter "99.97% of all particulates greater than .3 microns."

    Well, I haven’t seen the Kirby website, but here’s the deal with HEPA filters – ALL HEPAs must be capable of capturing and retaining at least 99.97% of all monodispersed particles of 0.3 microns aerodynamic diameter.
    I went back and checked my replacement filters for my vacuum. They say HEPA-like
    I stand corrected.


  19. #19
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    Default Re: Asbestos tile question

    Here's a pic of some old tiles.

    The client gets a warning, avoid creating dust when renovating-type talk.

    , I'm not afraid to say it looks like the kind that contains asbestos, so treat it as if it does.

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  20. #20
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    Default Re: Asbestos tile question

    I started doing asbestos testing in the 80's and have to say that i NEVER tested a 9x9 that was not asbestos.

    I also have tested a lot of sheet flooring goods and 12x12 flooring that had asbestos too.


  21. #21
    Brian Johnson's Avatar
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    Default Re: Asbestos tile question

    The boiler plate sentence I use in my reports when necessary says "the floor tiles in the basement are the size, age, and type that may contain asbestos"
    always has worked for me!


  22. #22
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    Default Re: Asbestos tile question

    Given the excellent info and from what I understand, the whole question and concerns about tile are overblown? Still being manufactured, many products as noted contain asbestos, Canada still exports it.

    I do not mention it my reports because quite frankly it does not appear to be a concern based on the best available info.


  23. #23

    Default Re: Asbestos tile question

    Good morning, Raymond –

    Your question is a very good one, and unfortunately the US EPA, in a continuing down-spiral of credibility, has done much to confuse the issue.

    The hazards of asbestos are very real, and all asbestos should be handled with respect and caution. The caution expressed by your colleagues is well placed and prudent, and I would encourage them to continue to rely on the concept of “PACM” (presumed asbestos containing material), or otherwise as mandated by your code of practice.

    The problem lies with a series of recent actions by the US EPA that has left scientists, legal regulatory counsel and health professionals slack-jawed with disbelief. The EPA has recently made several policy shifts that have entered the realm of insanity, wherein they have even subdued their own legitimate scientists that have published studies that demonstrate the statements of the EPA are ENTIRELY AND COMPLETELY DEVOID OF SCIENTIFIC FACT, and as we saw in the last couple of days, a major EPA scientist came forward, and blew the whistle on them and described how the EPA attempted to scilence him (although he works for the EPA) through threats.

    One of those amazing jaunts into insanity was seen on June 17, 2009, when EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson issued a Public Health Emergency (PHE) finding at the Libby Asbestos Superfund site in northwest Montana. This is the first time the EPA has ever issued a PHE, and the basis for the PHE was not established and was not founded in any rational thought discernable by legitimate scientists.

    The net result is that the EPA, far from what it thought the reaction would be, has drawn fire from scientists and health professionals across the country and muddied the waters on the hazards of asbestos. Since the EPA has recently been so profoundly wrong on so many issues (radon, and CO2 for example), many people are starting to wonder if asbestos is really an hazard at all, or is it another case of the EPA screaming about the sky falling.

    Yes, asbestos can pose a significant health hazard. No, not all asbestos is hazardous. Yes, it’s prudent to presume all asbestos is the most hazardous kind of asbestos. No, the Libby PHE was not warranted or supported by science. Yes, I am very cautious of asbestos, and I will go to great lengths to protect people from unnecessary asbestos exposure.

    The recent actions by the EPA have been an extreme embarrassment for those political supporters of the EPA since, even in their eyes, the EPA has truly gone off the deep end.

    By the way, for those who may want to know, for many years I taught the US EPA TSCA Title II asbestos course and included AREHA, and ASHA amongst other regulations.

    I have collected thousands of samples for asbestos, and I used to work in a lab that did asbestos analysis, and although I was never NIOSH 582 or McCrone certified, I have analyzed samples for asbestos. Upon seeing an older 9X9 tile, I think it would be prudent to identify the tile as PACM. Upon seeing a 12X12, I think it would be prudent to suggest the buyer consider a test, if they are concerned about asbestos. In general, asbestos exposures from VATs is far less of a concern than all other products.

    Cheers!
    Caoimhín P. Connell
    Forensic Industrial Hygienist
    Forensic Industrial Hygiene

    (The opinions expressed here are exclusively my personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect my professional opinion, opinion of my employer, agency, peers, or professional affiliates. The above post is for information only and does not reflect professional advice and is not intended to supercede the professional advice of others.)

    AMDG


  24. #24
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    Default Re: Asbestos tile question

    Thanks Caoimhín.

    In my opinion, we as inspectors are entering very dangerous territory by trying to define and substantiate what is an environmental concern, a safety, a health issue, a concern that falls outside the scope of standards.

    How far is an inspector to go? I believe we cannot address every concievable health, life and safety issue. If we start on disclosing one issue, are we obligated to a standard of care with other issues that could or may be considered and issue?

    While the SOP for inspections dictate a minimal standard it seems the envelope for standards is being widened to encompass all manner of percieved or required disclosure. This leads to the courts accepting as a standard of care within the profession which obligates inspectors to inspect beyond the norms, thus creating a duty of care/standard of care.

    Fwiw, my contract states The Inspection does not include hazardous materials that may be in or behind the walls, floors or ceilings of the property.

    And having checked Canadian case law cannot find any cases where home related asbestos has been link to health related matters in a home setting, at least at this point in timefwiw.

    Regards,



  25. #25
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    Default Re: Asbestos tile question

    Also from a Canadian small claims court appealed to Queens Bench of New Brunswick POV on abestos. Home inspection and disclosure of abestos on furnace.

    CanLII - 2001 NBQB 190 (CanLII)

    Last edited by Raymond Wand; 07-01-2009 at 07:04 AM.

  26. #26
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    Default Re: Asbestos tile question

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymond Wand View Post
    Also from a Canadian small claims court appealed to Queens Bench of New Brunswick POV on abestos. Home inspection and disclosure of abestos on furnace.

    CanLII - 2001 NBQB 190 (CanLII)
    I see the point you are making.
    Nobody is obligated to tell people that they or their families could be in danger.



  27. #27
    George Bronx's Avatar
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    Default Re: Asbestos tile question

    Quote Originally Posted by Caoimhín P. Connell
    Yes, asbestos can pose a significant health hazard. No, not all asbestos is hazardous. Yes, it’s prudent to presume all asbestos is the most hazardous kind of asbestos.
    Can you expand on this thought please? It goes against everything I have ever been taught.

    I will agree that there are materials that pose a lesser risk of exposure than others, but the statement "there is a safe/non-hazardous asbestiform" I cannot.

    By the way, for those who may want to know, for many years I taught the US EPA TSCA Title II asbestos course and included AREHA, and ASHA amongst other regulations.
    I'm assuming you meant AHERA and ASHARA


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