Asbestos Vinyl Sheet Flooring Backing


I need some risk assessment advice.

I recently moved into a new place and discovered vinyl sheet flooring with some damage, in the basement. Here is an image of it:

I am aware that old vinyl sheet flooring may contain asbestos backing material. Upon close inspection of the exposed backing material (in the areas of the image where the flooring is obviously damaged) I discovered what appear to be fiber bundles protruding from the material - it definitely seems like asbestos to me.

To prevent any further possible release of ACM, I have coated the exposed damage edge of flooring with silicone to bind the material.

I need some risk assessment at how bad this is though. I have only been here for about a month, the landlord has lived here for about 15 years possibly, so obviously this damage was cumulative and occurred slowly, not all at once. Given the extent of the visible damage in the photo, do you think serious contamination is a concern? That area may have been walked on and I am concerned about household contamination from things such as socks touching it and being washed with other clothes, dust tracked through the house, etc. What are your thoughts? This discovery has been quite distressing overall.

The backing material seems quite stable. I touched it with gloves very gently and the fiber bundles seem quite firm. The backing material itself is also well put together and does not fall apart when being touched gently.


Hi Cody
This previous post may help

Thanks for that post.

It kind of concerns me how it says that damage greater than your hand is no longer minor, as the damage around that edge is greater than my hand.

Do you think there is a serious concern of fiber release from this area though? See, no one here knows it is possibly asbestos and it is quite possible that this area was damaged even before the current residents moved in, as it was not a removal attempt or anything like that.

If you’re concerned, the material should be tested by a professional.

Wet it, remove it and get rid of it if it’s an issue. If you’re exposed to asbestos, the latency period to develop asbestos related diseases is 30-50 years. Do you smoke cigarettes, drink alcohol, or screw strangers? Life is a risk.:wink:


I do understand testing is the only definitive way, but based on appearance and age I think it is safe to presume it probably is asbestos.

I guess the bigger question is, if any of you discovered this in a house you were inspecting or even living in, would it cause extreme alarm or would you feel safe having encapsulated the edge as I did to prevent further damage and release? As I said, I’ve only been here a month and no one even knows that is potentially ACM. For all anyone knows, that damage could have been occured 20 years ago. Would the contamination potential be big, like spread all over the areas down there and throughout the house, or am I making too big of a deal out of this? There was no visible powder or dust around the damaged areas, and when I touched part of the material, it did not break apart or fragment.

Based on your response, I would assume you feel the threat I am thinking this may be is kind of blown out of proportion?

Thanks again for everyone that responded.

It depends on if you like “Holmes Inspection” on HGTV and the scare tactics for removal of Asbestos. I for one try to mention to people buying a home that you will find Asbestos in many products if it is 50 years old. If the asbestos is not damaged leave it alone. If it is damaged remove it with precautionary measures and If it is part of the heating system remove it following info set out by EPA or any Asbestos guidelines. Sheat covering like your picture is damaged on the corners and has no protection against release of the fibers. You should follow the advice to have it removed.

I would not be overly concerned for the small area pictured.

Who is at risk for an asbestos-related disease?

Everyone is exposed to asbestos at some time during their life. Low levels of asbestos are present in the air, water, and soil. However, most people do not become ill from their exposure. People who become ill from asbestos are usually those who are exposed to it on a regular basis, most often in a job where they work directly with the material or through substantial environmental contact.

You should not remove it! It is actually easer to encapsulate it. Areas that are lose or curing should be wet and picked up carefully then you can use a liquid floor leveler to encapsulate the entire mess. Removing is a chore and the action of removal is what will make the asbestos airborne!

Thank you for the advice.

I already went ahead and added silicone adhesive to the edge to seal and bind any fibers. I used a similar approach with adhesive glue based on lab recommendations when I’ve had to deal with asbestos before at another house.

See, my biggest thought regarding the damage on this area was the fact that this damage is classic wear damage and obviously occurred slowly over a long period of time. So would I be right in thinking that most of the fiber releases would have been small and distributed over time? Not the same as if, say, someone untrained came and ripped up the entire piece of floor one day?

Do you feel that after sealing the edge and preventing further damage, any further actions would need to be taken?

Again, many many thanks for the information!

It is a lid for a crawlspace access you need to remove the vinyl sheeting not try to encapsulate. If it was the entire floor I would agree but just a small section that to me is 4 feet by 3 feet. Not worth the encapsulating.

Cody there are only two things pertinant here 1) spend the money to have it professionally taken care of 2) Risk doing it yourself and exposing everyone in the home.
The choice is yours!

It looks like it’s too late to be careful, it’s been there for years with those exposed/damaged areas. The whole house is contaminated.

Cody don’t be cheap, take a sm all sample to a lab and get it tested. There is no need to be guessing and wondering\ for 30 bucks.


I don’t think it is a lid to a crawl space, it seems to be attached directly over the concrete floor.

Secondly, I am not planning on attempting removal myself. I understand the risks of that, and I don’t want to head in that direction at all.

Do you really feel the entire house is significantly contaminated due to this area in the basement?

This was obviously slow wear damage that took place over numerous years not all at once.

I am debating taking a sample in, but I believe I already saw asbestos fiber bundles when I looked at it up close (I compared it to some pictures of confirmed asbestos backing online). It doesn’t really change anything either… not like I have the money for air monitoring or anything like that if it is positive.

Thanks again,

Asbestos cannot be positively identified with the naked eye…It takes a professional with a microscope. Hence the $30.