Lead and Asbestos Removal

When to worry, when to call in the pros


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


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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