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Asbestos in Tiles and Other Building Materials

Tiles are used for flooring as well as walls and in some cases, ceilings. Tiles are made from a wide number of products that range from stone to mineral fibers. Some of the mineral fibers once used included various types of asbestos. Asbestos was also once used extensively in acoustic tiles employed in the construction of dropped ceilings.

The use of asbestos-based tiles began in the early 20th century in response to the very real risk of fire that was a major public preoccupation of that time. In fact, firemen and fire safety organizations advised builders and homeowners to utilize asbestos in building materials, as their own experience with the material had shown it to have extraordinary fire-resistant properties. From the 1920s until the late 1970s, asbestos was used widely in all forms of building materials, tile included. Asbestos was also an ingredient in the various adhesives used to set tiles in place.

Tiles Products Containing Asbestos

The following partial list of tiles products were known to contain asbestos:

Product Name Start Year End Year
Armstrong Asphalt Tile
Armstrong Excelon Tile
Armstrong Rubber Tile
Armstrong Vinyl Asbestos Tile
Congoleum Asbestos Tiles 1959 1975
Flintkote Flexachrome Tile
Flintkote Tiles
GAF Sure-Stik Adhesive-Backed Vinyl Asbestos Tile

Hazards Associated with Tile Products

The highest risk of asbestos exposure was borne by the workers in the industrial plants where asbestos tiles were produced. Those workers literally labored within a cloud of asbestos dust, as the raw asbestos fiber that was being added to the products was well dispersed throughout the factory.

Installers of asbestos-based tiles and other building materials were also at risk, particularly if the tiles needed to be cut or any of the adhesive sanded down. In those situations the asbestos exposure risk increased significantly. It was later learned that mesothelioma was caused by exposure to asbestos.



Bowker, Michael. Fatal Deception: The Untold Story of Asbestos (New York: Touchstone, 2003)

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