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The linoleum floor in my kitchen was installed extremely poorly (long before I started renting the apartment). Many of the edges are curling and in some places, it was not cut to the correct size and they just left the excess curled over. I am concerned that the exposed backing has asbestos in it and was wondering if there is a way that I could seal the exposed backing? I am only going to live there for one more year and I suspect that if I go to the landlord, he will have the floor replaced without taking proper safety measures.

EDIT: Here are some pictures of the floor edges enter image description here enter image description here

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4 Answers 4

Asbestos is only dangerous when is disturbed to where it can be breathed in. If it is asbestos and even if it is in plain sight, if you are careful not to touch it, cut it, or crush it then none of the asbestos particles will be airborne and it will not harm you.

I don't recommend sealing it yourself regardless. Dealing with asbestos in any way can not and should not ever be in the domain of DIY. If you feel it has the potential of being disturbed and may be asbestos then I highly encourage you to talk to your landlord and convince him to deal with it in a safe manner.

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The problem is that it even when I make an effort to not disturb it, it sometimes accidentally gets bumped, say when I'm vacuuming or putting something under the sink. –  bwroga Apr 23 '13 at 14:24
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The US EPA has information on asbestos here: www2.epa.gov/asbestos If you're in the United States, there are laws your landlord must follow when dealing with asbestos. Have a trained professional test the material, and if they find asbestos, inform your landlord that it needs to be taken care of in a responsible and legal manner. –  Evan Johnson Apr 23 '13 at 14:33
    
@bwroga If this is the case then I think you should not attempt to seal it yourself and take this concern to your landlord. He should check if it is asbestos and hire a proper abatement company to deal with it. Anything less then I would be pressing charges. –  maple_shaft Apr 23 '13 at 14:34

This doesn't make sense. First if the floor was installed poorly long before you arrived then it wouldn't last that long - maybe 10 years. Asbestos was phased out of tiles in the early 80s. So is your kitchen tile 30+ years old? I cannot see this from a rental property. Now what is under your vinyl, who knows?

Also you mentioned that the vinyl is curling on the edges because of bad install. I have personally seen many forms of asbestos tile and they are all very rigid. They would not curl up like today's cheap tile sheets. So that is strike two.

Talk to your landlord and ask when it was installed. If it was 30 years ago or he doesn't know or if you don't trust him then get a DIY kit. Cut off a sample and send it in. If it has asbestos landlord has to pay for kit and removal in all states. In some states he would get heavily fined and you could be issued settlement damages. Again from what you are describing I personally do not think you have asbestos flooring.

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The flooring is not tile, it is one big sheet. I could possibly see the flooring as being 30 years old. When I moved in, it was obvious that my apartment had not received much upkeep over the years and any time it did, it was quick and shoddy. –  bwroga Apr 23 '13 at 22:11
    
This does not look like asbestos flooring. Can I say for sure? No. If you are worried get a kit and have it tested. If you are really worried this should be tested right away. It is obvious that this piece moves quite a bit from the picture so if it does contain asbestos you are probably putting a low amount in the air right now. –  DMoore Apr 24 '13 at 3:45
    
Also the floor is disgusting. Asbestos wouldn't be my only or main concern. –  DMoore Apr 24 '13 at 3:47

You are far more likely to die from worrying about asbestos than from asbestos.

I just finished dealing with the same thing you are. Where possible, I installed engineered flooring and underlayment over the linoleum. They look killer! :) My mother, a retired cyto-technologist, kind of laughed at me about my own asbestos concerns.

http://fumento.com/asbestos/asbest.html

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From the look of your floor, it looks like you need a new floor for hygiene purposes. Asbestos is dangerous because the crystals are extremely long and sharp and penetrate the cells that normally clean dirt from the lungs. The asbestos that would be coming from the area shown would be in pieces not the fine particles that are inhaled and cause illness.

Asbestos is not a toxin or poison, it is the physical structure that is dangerous. Inhaling fine particles is a problem. If you are forced to keep the floor, then any sealant that encapsulates the part that you are worried about will safeguard you.

When the Liberty Ships (Inexpensive cargo ships built during WWII) were built, the construction crews worked in areas that were being insulated with asbestos fiber. The particles were so thick in in the air that some cases it looked like a dust storm. The workers did not use masks and inhaled quantities of the fibers which caused the mesotheliomas and lung cancer years late.

There were enough cases of illness that attorneys put together a class action suit that stirred up tremendous hysteria. Of cause, it's dangerous to inhale the crystals. Auto Brake mechanics were at risk because of inhalation of the asbestos in brake linings.

In general, if it isn't inhaled, it isn't likely to be dangerous. So, as I said have the floor replaced or seal the areas which are friable. Once sealed, it is harmless.

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While there's quite a bit of information about asbestos here, it doesn't answer the question asked. –  Tester101 Jun 2 at 9:50

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