When we think of the dangers asbestos poses, we often associate the tiny, carcinogenic fibres with easily visible structures, like roofing, ceilings, wall insulation and so on. One major asbestos threat often gets forgotten simply because it’s under our feet and not the first place we look. I’m talking about vinyl asbestos titles, or VATs.
Vinyl asbestos tiles are particularly dangerous because they’re easily mishandled. If the threat they pose isn’t respected during asbestos removal, they can release deadly fibres into the air.
The key with handling VATs is understanding their friability, or how easily they’re crumbled or broken into powder. If a given tile is non-friable – solid and not easily broken or crumbled – it’s far less dangerous, as VATs cause the most trouble when crumbled into dust. Friable VATs, be they poorly constructed or just old, are quite dangerous. One reason to have a trained asbestos removal company dispose of VATs for you is that the experts have a better idea of which tiles are friable and which aren’t.
Removing VATs is thus highly focused on keeping the tiles as non-friable as possible. Asbestos removal workers must assume every tile is a threat and treat it delicately. That means drills, saws, hammers or any equipment used to pulverize are absolute no-nos. It’s almost like we have to treat VATs like priceless glass.
One we have control of vinyl asbestos tiles, we follow a special procedure to transport them out of a given building. That may include wrapping them in plastic to ensure no loose fibres escape and taking them to EPA-approved landfill facilities where they are buried in a safe place.
As you can probably guess by now, VATs are not child’s play. Homeowners should not handle them at all. In fact, some regions prohibit homeowners from handling vinyl asbestos tiles without professional help.
As long as you respect VATs as the dangerous things they are and understand their delicacy and the expertise required to remove them, you’ll be safe.
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