Vinyl was first produced in the 1920s and continues to be used today. Made up of plastic resin, vinyl is used in many building and housing applications due to it being simultaneously flexible, sturdy, and durable. Unfortunately, some vinyl products may be dangerous because they contain asbestos.
Asbestos in Vinyl Products
The use of asbestos was common in vinyl because it made the product stronger and better insulated, while also being relatively inexpensive. Vinyl was used in all different kinds of structures such as residences, schools, and commercial buildings. Some of the common products asbestos was used in include:
- Vinyl sheet flooring;
- Vinyl wallpaper; and
- Vinyl Asbestos Tile (VAT).
There were numerous companies that manufactured vinyl products that contained asbestos, including:
- Armstrong World Industries;
- Congoleum Corporation;
- GAF Corporation; and
- Synkoloid Corporation.
Vinyl Products and Asbestos Exposure
In comparison to other products that contained asbestos, vinyl products are considered less dangerous. This is because asbestos in vinyl is not highly toxic and typically not friable. A product that is friable is susceptible to being broken, releasing fibers into the air through small amounts of pressure. As a result of this, the use of asbestos in vinyl was not prohibited. However, the use of asbestos began being phased out in the 1980s due to the health concerns that exposure to asbestos fibers raised.
While the use of asbestos in new products largely ended in the 1980s, older buildings and residences may still contain products with asbestos. However, if the material with asbestos is in good condition, the risk of exposure is relatively low. This is particularly true for products like tile or wallpaper, which are both considered non-friable. But, cutting, sanding, or disturbing these products can still release fibers into the air.
The most dangerous vinyl product is vinyl sheet flooring. This product often came in very large pieces, which were cut down to size to fit the particular application. It was common for vinyl sheet flooring to have an asbestos backing that is considered friable, meaning disturbing or damaging the product is likely to release fibers.
Due to the fact that vinyl wallpaper and floor tiles contain asbestos that is not considered friable, abatement of those products typically does not require a license. This means that a homeowner that comes across these materials can perform the removal themselves. If doing so, it is important to always wear proper personal protective equipment and dampen all tiles and wallpaper before removing them to limit the chance asbestos dust will be released. Importantly, vinyl sheet flooring must be handled by a professional.
Individuals exposed to asbestos fibers may be at an increased risk of developing serious health issues such as mesothelioma or asbestosis. If you have been diagnosed with a disease that you believe may be related to asbestos exposure, contact an experienced attorney today. At the Throneberry Law Group, our attorneys will travel to where you live to provide you the help you need.