A reader writes: “I manage several buildings and one has about 3,000 square feet of Vinyl Asbestos Tile (VAT) in the basement. I expect this floor to be stripped and waxed just like other hard floors. The vendor claims that I am wrong. Your opinion please.”

The short answer is to go to www.osha.gov and use their search engine to find guidance on this type flooring. A little bit longer answer follows. Asbestos at one time was hailed as a miracle fiber used in not only flooring but also insulation. When we refer to VAT we mean vinyl asbestos tile which usually comes in nine inch squares. The history of this type flooring was that it was a mix of vinyl and asbestos fibers that had proven to provide better durability than regular linoleum floors that had been used before. After a few years, it was determined that this type floor could release the very tiny fibers and when ingested, could result in illnesses related to asbestos contamination including mesothelioma (a form of lung cancer). It was banned from further use and the floor product was replaced by other products including VCT (vinyl composite tiles) that did not contain asbestos and actually proved to be more durable as well.

You and your vendor must follow OSHA guidelines on stripping, scrubbing and maintaining these floors. You do not want to direct the vendor to ignore those guidelines since it could not only endanger the health of tenants and custodial workers in the building but could open up all kinds of liability issues. Although I am certainly not an expert on this type flooring, I encourage you to seriously consider asbestos remediation (complete removal by qualified professionals) or at least covering it with either VCT or carpet. When covered correctly, this can reduce exposure and protect everyone involved, including yourself.

Asbestos should be taken seriously. Please consult with experts in this area and go to www.osha.gov for clear guidance.

Your comments and feedback are always appreciated. I hope to hear from you soon. Until then, keep it clean...

Mickey Crowe has been involved in the industry for over 35 years. He is a trainer, speaker and consultant. You can reach Mickey at 678-314-2171 or CTCG50@comcast.net.