Q: Do I need to worry about lead and asbestos when removing the paper and adhesive from old laminate finishing that covered my floor?

— M., Farmington, Connecticut

A: Tom Silva replies: Yes, in some cases you do need to worry about asbestos. And if you're worried about it, the smart thing to do is get the floor tested.

Let's say you're pulling up 30-year-old laminate from a fir-wood floor. There may be asbestos in that. It's hard to know for sure. Usually asbestos that's in tiles could be an asphalt-based product that won't fly so much, but my recommendation would still be, if testing shows there is asbestos, let a qualified, licensed contractor remove it for you.

With lead you also have to protect yourself. It's a homeowner's decision obviously, but if you want to remove it yourself, you want to make sure you cover yourself up well and use the correct kind of mask and gloves. But again, you've got to ask yourself whether or not you want to tackle it. Usually, the same people that will do the asbestos can also handle the lead for you too.
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