Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Our Asbestos Adventure: What NOT to Do When Remodeling - Part 3

Catch up on Part 1 and Part 2 here. 

Eventually, we got about 80% of the tiles tore out of the basement, and things were looking good. We didn't have much left to do, and were excited since we'd been at it for weeks now.

We could see the light at the end of the tunnel... until everything came to a complete and utter stop, and we were absolutely terrified.

What happened to instill sheer terror into our hearts, you ask?

Well, I guess you would call it some sort of intuition on my part. One morning I woke up and something was nagging and pulling at my mind, but I ignored it and got ready for my day. All day at work, I knew something was wrong, but I just couldn't put my finger on it. As the day went on I grew more and more weary, and in my heart I just knew that something bad was lurking and waiting.

It wasn't until the next morning when I woke up with only one thought in my mind that I figured out what my subconscious had been trying to tell me:


Now, maybe if you were old enough to be aware during the big asbestos scare back in the 80's this random thought of mine wouldn't really seem to be so random. But people - I was born in 1985, and only heard whisperings of asbestos once or twice in my childhood, and those whisperings usually only concerned ceilings, never floors. And I haven't even heard that term uttered in many, many years.

Now it seems a little more weird, huh?

So, apparently my 6th sense was more in-tune with the dangers of asbestos than my conscious mind ever was, until I woke up that one morning and just knew in my heart that those tiles we'd been carelessly ripping out and tearing apart in our basement was asbestos.

But I was praying I was wrong.

So, what is asbestos and how bad, really, could it be? Turns out, pretty dang bad indeed.

From Wikipedia:

Asbestos is a set of six naturally occurring silicate minerals exploited commercially for their desirable physical properties. They all have in common their asbestiform habit, long, thin fibrous crystals. The inhalation of asbestos fibers can cause serious illnesses, including malignant lung cancer, mesothelioma (a formerly rare cancer strongly associated with exposure to amphibole asbestos), and asbestosis (a type of pneumoconiosis). Long exposure to high concentrations of asbestos fibers is more likely to cause health problems, as asbestos exists in the ambient air at low levels, which itself does not cause health problems.

Not good for us.

And the only way to be sure your tiles are or aren't contaminated with asbestos is to have them tested at a lab.

So we did.

And they found ours to be about 10% asbestos.


 As soon as we heard the results, we couldn't help but think about all the asbestos particles that we were, unknowingly, inhaling through the particles in the air as we broke apart the tiles, day after day after day. You can literally see the tile dust in the air in this photo.

Tile dust that was 10% asbestos!

Had we sealed our fate? Were we going to die a horrible death from lung cancer from this huge mistake? And how in the world were we going to get the rest of the tiles out of the basement without further exposure?

Read on and go to Part 4!
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  1. Yikes is right. However, I think it's best to remain calm. Forewarned is forearmed as they say. According to this article, only a percentage of asbestos workers have had problems (and they're wallowing around in it all day - every day for years). Get tested for issues, get professionals in to remove the rest and relax and enjoy your beautiful new (asbestos free) floors.

    Good luck and I hope it doesn't cost too too much,


  2. That is really scary and I wouldn't have thought of it. Good thing you did.


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