Situation is a sticky one for sure. My father did renovation downstairs all on his own because he is a big money saver. He decided that it would be a great idea to completely remove all the old 12x12 floor tiles with a scraper, underneath is a black mastic that is flat and not sticky. He hasn't covered over the mastic yet. He also decided to remove all of the ceiling tiles as well. This renovation happened 4 or 5 months ago (I was never there during any of the renovation). I confronted him about the mess he could have potentially done and he smiled and said he was 60 years old anyways and he isn't really too concerned about it. However, I am concerned because I stayed there for a few weeks this last month, while visiting him and brought all my clothes and bedding over and even used his washer/dryer. My questions are these. 1. Assuming the floor tile and black mastic have asbestos would they be friable? 2. Assuming the ceiling tile had asbestos would that be friable? 3. I've been exposed by staying there several weeks. All the renovation happened in the basement and I stayed 2 stories upstairs not going anywhere near it. But still am concerned because hvac furnace, obviously. At this point, I believe my bedding is pretty much toast, and I only washed and dried a few outfits in the washer/dryer. But still my clothes were hung up inside the spare bedroom, so they could have been exposed as well. In addition, I wore those clothes in my vehicle, so would I need to replace the vehicle as well? I know it's a bit overboard, but these are actual questions that someone must think about. Perhaps over the top xD I will note that I had nothing to do with the renovation. Also, it's worth noting that he has had friends and family over (even spending the night), what would be their risk?

And finally, from what I learned. An air test in home is like 700 to 1200 bucks that I don't have. I would assume there is some sort of government testing in the area? Or does anyone know of an alternate or cheaper route? Hopefully someone with experience in the field might be able to shed some light here.


  • Before we knew the possibilities of danger from asbestos our brake shoes were made from it , popcorn ceilings we sprayed it on and in many cases 20 years later we removed it when it looked bad. I never tossed my clothes and have completed asbestos remediation using proper safety equipment and having talked to my doctor he was not concerned even though my exposure was well above the average person because of construction work. I think you may be getting excited where the true risk is very low. Just don't lick the old painted walls because most paints used to have lead fwiw
    – Ed Beal
    Dec 3, 2018 at 19:19

4 Answers 4


Your initial response was pure alarmism

Note that there is just one person that won a lawsuit for mesothelioma based on a 67 day exposure on board a ship. That is considered a short exposure to cause a problem. That's sixty seven days of intensive exposure on a ship.

This is like freaking out because someone snuck into your room and smoked cigarettes all night, exposing you to second hand smoke.

Yes, second hand smoke is dangerous. To a degree. But not like that.


I know of two people who died of mesothelioma. In both cases the people were exposed to friable asbestos every normal work day for 20 plus years. One was a friend who worked in a State office building that had asbestos lined air ducts. EVERYONE in that office was exposed, only a small percentage of them showed any symptoms. The other person was married to a worker at a Johns Manville asbestos insulation plant near us (long since closed down). Her husband died in the 1960s of lung cancer before the big scares about asbestos, but was a chain smoker, so there's no telling which one actually killed him. But she never smoked, nor allowed him to smoke in the house. However she washed his clothes every day after he got home from work, handling and breathing the asbestos dust in them. She developed mesothelioma in her 80s, some 30 years after he had died.

I took interest in this because I worked for a couple of summers for a company that rebuilt machines called "autoclaves" that are used to sterilize things in hospitals and laboratories. The old ones that we were paid to remove and rebuild were often insulated with asbestos batting. So even though we encapsulated it with cloth wrapping and a rubber sealing compound, in the process of encapsulating it we disturbed it quite a bit and although we wore masks, I know for sure that I inhaled quite a bit. That was 40 years ago now and I have no signs of lung issues whatsoever. I brought it up to my Doctor once and he told me that it's guaranteed that I have the asbestos fibers embedded in my lung tissue, but even 6 months of exposure is not likely enough to be of concern. As he put it, I will die WITH asbestosis, not FROM it.

The point of this is that all the rhetoric about this is hyperbolic in my opinion. Sure, SOME people may be stricken from casual exposure, but so far there in NO EVIDENCE of that being the case. The known issue is related to LONG TERM exposure of workers and their families that were surrounded by asbestos as part of their livelihood. But because nobody can adequately define that length of time, the ambiguity has turned into hyperbole and then into unnecessary panic over one-time casual exposures.


Yes, asbestos (friable or not) is dangerous. You have several issues: 1) floor tile, 2) mastic, 3) ceiling tile, 4) contamination of materials and clothes, 5) testing and cost, 6) abatement and cost, 7) time, 8) re-sale of your house

1) 12”x12” tiles are usually vinyl, not asbestos. 9”x9” tiles are either asbestos or asphalt. However, they’re not friable unless you get careless. You need to test them.

2) If the mastic is old then it’s probably asbestos and, if so, it’s friable. You need to test it.

3) Ceiling tile could be asbestos and, if so, it’s friable. You need to test it.

4) If any of it tests “positive”, I’d toss it. It will be in everything and can puff up into the air when you walk, sit down, etc. and that’s serious. It can kill you...and your visitors.

5) Testing is cheap...it’s the agency’s report that costs. Test it yourself and do it now. Take two samples of each item you suspect. Send it in immediately and cross your fingers. (There are lots of kits on the market.)

6) Abatement is very expensive. Get a licensed and bonded abatement contractor. Get 3 bids and take out a loan if necessary.

7) Make this a priority. The longer you take, the more the asbestos dust will travel around and be more difficult to remove.

8) Don’t think you can sell your house and move away. The way “truth in selling” is going, your realtor will make you sign a disclaimer. If the buyer ever finds out, you’re liable...plus penalties.

  • not if, when. The new homeowner will know from a $8 asbestos test kit from Home Depot. When they detect it, boom, mesothelioma lawsuit. Their discovery will quickly turn u any "digital fingerprints" you left behind in society - the fact that you hired a consultant, this post, that you bought test kits at Home Depot, etc. So buy them at a faraway home depot, wear a fake beard, pay cash and take your toll tag off your car, don't buy gas or get a ticket either... Oct 20, 2018 at 19:57
  • Regarding 6-8, my read was that it was the home of the father of the OP. I'd say the OP should toss clothing and sheets and move on. (Oh, and don't stay there until an abatement company has been through.) Oct 21, 2018 at 23:31

I posted this same question on Houzz and got a completely different answer. This was the response:

""Ok...lets work with the basics:

1 Friable. What is friable? Friable is when something is PULVERIZED (turned to fine dust) and then thrown up into the air. The mastic is undisturbed = perfect. Undisturbed means NOT ground into a fine dust = NOT friable. The ceiling tiles were probably taken out "whole". Perhaps a few were broken. That means that 99.99999% of the products were NOT friable.

2 Asbestos filled products. What products have them and what (normally) do not. Most asbestos based material was created BEFORE 1982 (sold until 1985-1986...something like that). That means there are LIMITS to what could be available in the house. The 12x12 tiles do not normally contain asbestos. The old mastic *MIGHT have it...but might not. It depends on when the HOUSE WAS BUILT and when the tiles were INSTALLED (which year). Ceiling tiles may or may not have asbestos (see the 1982 comment above).

3 Risk to health. To be at risk for asbestos exposure, you have to have ASBESTOS in the space that has been pulverized and airborne. So far, the only thing (out of the three concerns listed) the ONLY thing that MIGHT cause "exposure" = the small amount of dust created when a ceiling tile broke. A small puff of material that would be created at the moment the tile was broken. That little puff is the "friable" stuff. That would be it. Everything else is stable and is NOT friable.

If you are extremely nervous (thinking about getting rid of a car because of potential asbestos cross contamination would rank as "extremely nervous"), you can send some samples to a lab to have them tested for asbestos. Each test is $75-$100 per sample. If you send a sample of the ceiling tile and of the mastic, you would be looking at $200 at most.

And then there is the TOTAL RISK when looking at a LIFETIME of exposure to FRIABLE asbestos fibre. If you think that a puff (barely visible to the naked eye when it happens) of material would create a 0.000001% "life time risk" of exposure. Imagine how much you have to be exposed to just to get to 1%.

And then imagine that it takes a lifetime risk exposure of 90% or higher will put you into the category of possible health risks. Some people, even after working for 30+ years in an Asbestos mine in Asbestos Quebec (yes...that's the name of a town), never experience any form of asbestos related health concerns.

I'm not down playing the concerns with asbestos. What I'm trying to do is put some perspective on it. Out of all the things that cause health issues in life, I would be more worried about the addictive properties of caffeine than the possible exposure to minute amounts of asbestos. But again, if you are extremely nervous, feel free to send off some samples to the lab. Pay the $100/sample and feel better about how much (or how little) you have been exposed to.""

Lee Sam with all due respect, you are simply wrong in your answer. This person SJ from Houzz was spot on. I called an abatement company and was virtually told the same thing. But... words are words... so I decided to get 3 samples from 1. The ceiling tile 2. The floor tile 3. The black mastic (all of them tested). After waiting a week, I finally got the results. Nothing contained asbestos. The mastic was old and still didn't contain any asbestos. Quit spreading lies and falsehoods around on this site. Also, a word of caution to anyone trying to get answers on this site. Beware. Houzz is more honest, more accurate, and doesn't feed into fear tactics.

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