Renowned for its properties of heat resistance, durability, and flexibility, as well as its relatively low cost, asbestos was used in a wide variety of construction materials in the United States from the late 1800s all the way up through the 1970s. Tiles, both for ceilings and floors, often contained asbestos, which provided insulation from extreme temperatures as well as sound.
After the recognition of asbestos as the health hazard substance in the early 1970s, the subsequent banning of its usage in fireproofing and insulation, corrugated paper, flooring and tiles reduced the levels of the mineral that would noticeably affect adults and children. Various professional services involved in the testing, inspections and removal of asbestos around the house and commercial building have come up with various sources of asbestos, including floor and ceiling tiles.
According to Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and in accordance with a simple visual inspection, one can note that floor tiles that are sized 9 by 9, 12 by 12 or fixed to the flooring with black adhesive contain asbestos if they were fixed before 1981. Here the asbestos may be present in either the adhesive used under tiles or the tiles itself.
A polarized light microscopy test in a designated laboratory will easily identify the specific type of asbestos fiber from the tiles and related materials. The same information can be found on the box the tiles came in, if one happens to have a box of extra tiles in their basement or storage area. In their intact form, the tiles pose little risk. However, prompt removal of any damaged asbestos-containing tiles by professionals who have the proper protective gear is necessary to keep exposures to a minimum level.