Bergen Tile & Linoleum Company History
We don’t often think about what’s in the floors we’re walking on – but if you live in an older home, perhaps you should. They could contain asbestos, a naturally occurring mineral and known cancer-causing agent that is responsible for the deaths of thousands of Americans each year – roughly 2,500 due to mesothelioma cancer alone.
For years, flooring materials made for homes, businesses, schools, hospitals and other buildings were manufactured with asbestos. The mineral’s long, thin, crystalline fibers made tiles strong, durable, flexible, and resistant to moisture, heat and scratches, and because the mineral could be easily harvested from huge mines in places like Africa and Canada, it was also inexpensive.
Asbestos tiles were sold at numerous locations throughout the United States, including a New York-based flooring retailer called Bergen Tile & Linoleum. Bergen did not manufacture flooring, but the company did distribute asbestos-containing flooring products such as those manufactured by Armstrong World Industries, Azrock Industries, Congoleum Corp. and Kentile Floors, Inc. Today, Bergen Tile operates an online flooring retail operation, selling carpeting, hardwood, laminates and vinyl flooring.
Asbestos Exposure Risk at Bergen Tile & Linoleum
Vinyl-asbestos floor tiles were typically sold in sheets or as individual floor tiles, usually 9” or 12” square, and came in various thicknesses. Because the extremely fine asbestos particles were encapsulated within the tiles, the products were not hazardous as long as they stayed intact. But once the flooring tiles cracked or were sanded, demolished or otherwise broken, asbestos fibers could become airborne and anyone in the vicinity ran the risk of inhaling them. If that happened, the miniscule particles could become embedded in a person’s lungs and possibly cause an asbestos-related disease like mesothelioma or asbestosis.
Occupations at Risk for Asbestos Exposure
Floor-tile installers, supervisors, carpenters, tapers, and other tradesmen and women who worked on sites where asbestos flooring was used may have been exposed to asbestos during their time on the job. Demolition workers. Factory workers who manufactured floor tiles, janitors, and people who did home renovation projects to install or remove the tiles also may have been affected.
Most manufacturers of asbestos-containing floor tiles stopped using the mineral in the 1980s: Armstrong eliminated asbestos in 1983, Congoleum in 1984 and Kentile Floors in 1986. By then, manufacturers had found an alternate way to make the tiles, reformulating their mixture with synthetic fibers, fillers, binders, resins and glass.
But just because tiles are not being made with asbestos anymore, it doesn’t mean they still aren’t a hazard. Asbestos tiles are still present in many old homes and buildings, and anyone doing demolition or repair work on old flooring should take the necessary precautions.
If you think you may have been exposed to asbestos in flooring sold at Bergen Tile & Linoleum or any other retailer, take the time to learn about the risk factors and treatment options for asbestos-related diseases.Sources
“Asbestos-related cancer deaths still rising in U.S.”
Vinyl-Asbestos Floor Tile – Product Description
Asbestos in Your Home