***First of all, I am not sure if this is a “lung issue” or an “OCD issue.”***
My wife and I are trying to sell our house, and, as we are of limited financial means, I undertook to handle some updating (minor remodeling) myself. One of the projects was installing ceramic tile over a 20-square foot area. I removed 2 layers of older tile until I got down to the sub-flooring, which was covered with a layer of black adhesive.
There are 2 safety issues/concerns/potential hazards that have resulted from this.
1) I power-sawed a 40” x .0625” piece of cement board, which contained 25% respirable crystalline silica--which is a carcinogen—indoors with my two little girls in the adjacent room. This created a surprising amount of dust. (I didn’t realize that it was harmful until later in the afternoon after I researched it a bit).
2) One of the layers of tile that I removed was of the 1960’s vinyl-asbestos variety. From what I understand, while not as dangerous as pure asbestos or asbestos insulation, asbestos floor tiles present a potential health hazard. The black adhesive was also augmented with asbestos.
I went to the emergency room along with my daughters after the sawing incident, and the ER doctor said that there was no concern of any of us developing a long-term lung illness, such as cancer, from the cement dust. He said, “You’d get this amount of exposure just walking down the street.”
Also, after I realized that the tiles contained asbestos, I contacted my doctor and my daughters’ pediatrician. Both said that the exposure was insignificant, and “not to worry about it.”
I realize that asbestos and silica pose health risks mainly for people whose occupations involve daily exposure to them; however, I CANNOT stop worrying that we are all going to get sick.
I should say that I was diagnosed as having OCD/anxiety about 10-years ago, so it is hard for me to determine if my concern/paranoia is unfounded and irrational, or if it is legitimate. Part of the reason I think my concerns might be legitimate is because there was indeed harmful matter in the house—albeit a small amount—and because ER doctors, GP’s, and pediatricians are not pulmonologists. Maybe they were wrong.