I am performing a renovation of my upstairs bathroom, which initially had carpet. After pulling up the carpet, I discovered vinyl flooring, which was adhered to a plywood subfloor.

Although I was smartly wearing a p100 facemask style ventilator rated for mold and asbestos for most of the removal, I very stupidly pulled the vinyl flooring up in an attempt to prep the floor for a layer of thinset mortar for new ceramic tile. While it was not visible per se, I am certain this must have generated some kind of "dust" or particulate release, as I really tore up this backing, which stubbornly came off in non-uniform layers of varying sizes. I ultimately went to town on it with a scraper.

In my research into the possibility of wallboard containing asbestos, I now know there is a likelihood that the vinyl backing also contained it. Terrified, I removed the material from the house, put my clothes in the wash, showered, and vacuumed the hallway outside of the bathroom.

I am aware of the dangers of asbestos, and it has me positively shook. My question is, what should I do now? The clothes I used are in my washing machine, but it hasn't been run yet. With what I've learned, my plan was to remove these clothes and dispose of them in a plastic trash bag, then run the wash on empty to try and flush any trace fibers. All of the removed flooring was thrown through a second floor window and is in a pile next to my house - I planned to have that bagged and hauled away as well. Lastly, I was going to put the respirator back on and put the thinset mortar down as gently as I can (after wetting the remaining "stuck" backing) to seal the last of the fibers under the thinset - then tile as usual.

Paranoid as I am, I wanted to ask for advice somewhere before I did anything. Do I need to test for it / call an abatement service immediately? The bathroom door was open while I removed the materials, and even when closed the door has a half inch clearance, could these fibers have (or could still be) contaminating my whole house?

Thank you

Concerned DIYer

  • 2
    Your paranoia is probably going to take you before any asbestos exposure. Breaking tiles without the bathroom being sealed off and exhausted to move the fibers in the air out of the home. the entire area was probably contaminated. When we remove asbestos we wet it down reduce the fibers floating around. With that said there were people that worked entire lifetimes in asbestos plants and never had problems. I have taken down popcorn ceilings, pulled asbestos insulation , siding and some of that 50 years ago without a mask. What’s done is done, wipe surfaces with a damp rag and forget about it.
    – Ed Beal
    Commented Jan 19, 2021 at 23:09
  • Thank you Ed, that is a real weight off my shoulders. I will decontaminate as best I can and be more careful going forward. Commented Jan 19, 2021 at 23:21
  • We do take precautions today because it can be life altering, I grew up doing this stuff and we made lots of dust, lots of homes. Today now that I know I do wear a disposable suit and quality respiratory protection. I found out it is natural mineral in Northern California all the trenches I Doug as a young man? But I would not worry and there’s not much that could be done after the fact but a wipe down with a damp cloth. I hope your project turns out well.
    – Ed Beal
    Commented Jan 20, 2021 at 0:42
  • Please. Look at all the other questions tagged asbestos. You'll see the exact same answer in every. single. one. A) What's done is done. B) a one-time exposure has minimal danger.
    – FreeMan
    Commented Jan 20, 2021 at 13:19
  • Thank you as well FreeMan. I just wanted to be sure I checked all my boxes with the cleanup. I won't lie, I was pretty anxious about it, but it sounds like it is going to be ok. After I seal whatever is left of the backing with the thinset, I am going to go over all surfaces with a damp cloth and use a HEPA filter in a shopvac to get the carpets in the hall outside (all while wearing the respirator). Commented Jan 20, 2021 at 13:42


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