Linoleum, a popular flooring material, has been used in homes and commercial spaces for decades due to its durability and versatility. At the same time, asbestos, a mineral known for its fire-resistant and insulating properties, was prevalent in various building materials, including flooring, until its health hazards became widely recognized. 

As a result, it’s essential to consider whether old linoleum contains asbestos, especially in structures constructed before its dangers were well understood.


If you believe that you were exposed to asbestos, even as a child, speak to a healthcare provider about tests and screening to help diagnose lung-scarring and screen for asbestos-related diseases.

Understanding Linoleum and Vinyl Flooring

Linoleum is a natural flooring material composed of linseed oil, cork or wood flour, resins, and other raw materials. It was developed in the mid-19th century and gained popularity due to its resilience and eco-friendly components. Linoleum is often appreciated for its vibrant colors and patterns, and it’s considered a more sustainable option than many other flooring materials.

On the other hand, vinyl flooring is a synthetic material made from polyvinyl chloride (PVC). Vinyl flooring can replicate the appearance of various materials, including wood, stone, and tile. During the mid-20th century, it became popular because of its affordability, resistance to water, and easy maintenance.

“The overall evidence suggests there is no safe level of asbestos exposure.”

Source: National Cancer Institute (NIH)1

Linoleum vs. Vinyl 

Linoleum and vinyl are both popular flooring options that offer durability and versatility but differ in composition, appearance, installation, and maintenance. Here’s a more comprehensive comparison of the two: 

1. Composition:

  • Linoleum is a type of flooring made from natural, renewable resources like linseed oil, cork dust, wood flour, tree resins, and pigments. It’s famous for those looking for eco-friendly flooring options because of its renewable components.
  • Vinyl flooring is a synthetic flooring primarily made from polyvinyl chloride (PVC) resins, plasticizers, stabilizers, and color pigments. It is commonly used in various applications because of its strong resistance to water and durability. 

2. Appearance:

  • Linoleum: Linoleum comes in a range of colors and patterns. It typically has a matte or low-gloss finish and can be customized to create intricate designs and patterns.
  • Vinyl: Vinyl flooring is available in various designs, including wood, stone, tile, and abstract patterns. This technology can imitate the look of natural materials, complete with lifelike textures and shining, smooth finishes. 

3. Durability:

  • Linoleum: Linoleum is durable and can withstand moderate foot traffic. It’s less prone to scratches and gouges compared to vinyl.
  • Vinyl: Vinyl is, too, highly durable and can handle heavy foot traffic. It’s resistant to scratches and moisture, making it good foreign-moisture areas like bathrooms and kitchens. 

Image Asbestos 1910 3 article body
Nearly every building constructed before the mid-1980s contained asbestos products and building materials.
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4. Installation:

  • Linoleum: Linoleum sheets are often glued down to the subfloor during installation, which can be time-consuming and may require professional help for proper installation.
  • Vinyl: Vinyl flooring includes various installation options, including glue-down, click-and-lock, and peel-and-stick. This variety makes vinyl easier to install for DIY enthusiasts. 

5. Maintenance:

  • Periodic sealing is required to maintain the protective layer and increase the lifespan of linoleum. Regular sweeping and damp mopping are effective ways to clean it easily.
  • Vinyl is a low-maintenance, stain-resistant material easily cleaned with regular sweeping and occasional mopping. It does not require any additional sealing. 

6. Environmental Impact:

  • Linoleum: Linoleum is often considered more environmentally friendly due to its natural composition and biodegradability. It’s made from renewable resources and produces fewer harmful emissions during production.
  • Vinyl: Vinyl has raised environmental concerns due to its production involving non-renewable resources and potential emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). However, advances in technology have led to more eco-friendly vinyl options. 

7. Cost:

  • Linoleum: Linoleum is generally more expensive than basic vinyl flooring options due to its natural composition and manufacturing process.
  • Vinyl: Homeowners on a budget often prefer vinyl flooring due to its affordability. It’s a popular choice for those looking for a cost-effective option.

“Some asbestos fibers may bypass…your body’s natural defenses…and lodge deep within your lungs. Those fibers can remain in place for a very long time and may never be removed.”

Source: American Lung Association

Asbestos in Flooring and Its Risks

Asbestos, a naturally occurring mineral, was widely used in construction materials due to its fireproofing and insulating properties. It was commonly mixed with other materials, including flooring products, to enhance their strength and durability. However, asbestos is composed of tiny fibers that can become airborne when disturbed, posing a severe health risk when inhaled. 

Inhaling these tiny fibers can lead to them becoming lodged in the lungs and other areas of the body, potentially resulting in severe health problems such as asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma. Due to the health risks linked to asbestos exposure, many countries have implemented strict regulations and even banned its use.

Asbestos has no taste or smell.

You may not know you’re breathing it.

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Image Asbestos Linoleum article body

Asbestos in Linoleum Flooring

Older linoleum flooring, particularly that which was manufactured and installed before the 1980s, could contain asbestos. Asbestos was added to flooring materials to improve their strength and heat resistance. Vinyl tiles themselves typically didn’t contain asbestos, but the backing or adhesive used often had the harmful mineral. 

Identifying asbestos-containing linoleum can be challenging due to its invisible nature. Therefore, when dealing with older linoleum flooring, especially in buildings constructed before the 1980s, it’s recommended to take precautions and consider testing for asbestos before any renovations or removal.

“Generally, those who develop asbestos-related diseases show no signs of illness for a long time after exposure.”

Source: National Cancer Institute (NIH)2

How to Identify Asbestos in Linoleum

Identifying asbestos in linoleum can be done through professional testing. Asbestos testing involves taking material samples and analyzing them in a specialized laboratory. DIY testing kits are available, but hiring a professional is generally recommended to ensure accurate results.

Several companies that manufacture linoleum and other flooring materials, such as Congoleum Corporation and Armstrong World Industries, have faced asbestos-related lawsuits due to their products. These lawsuits have led to establishment of asbestos trust funds to compensate those who suffered asbestos-related illnesses.

Several health studies have shown that the spouses of asbestos workers are at an elevated level of risk for asbestos illnesses like lung cancer.3 4 5 6

Safe Removal of Asbestos-Containing Linoleum

If asbestos-containing linoleum needs to be removed, following proper safety procedures is crucial to minimize the risk of asbestos exposure. Asbestos removal should only be done by trained and certified professionals who understand the necessary precautions. Disturbing asbestos-containing materials without proper protection can release dangerous fibers into the air, endangering the health of anyone nearby.

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The Bottom Line on asbestos in old linoleum

While linoleum itself doesn’t inherently contain asbestos, older linoleum flooring, particularly in structures constructed before the 1980s, could have asbestos-containing backing or adhesive. When dealing with old linoleum flooring, it is essential to exercise caution due to the severe health hazards linked to asbestos exposure.

Do You Qualify For Compensation?

Quickly and easily find out how you were exposed by searching W.A.R.D., the largest asbestos database on the planet.


Professional testing and, if necessary, removal by certified experts are critical steps to ensure the safety of both occupants and workers. When in doubt, it’s always best to consult professionals to determine the presence of asbestos and take appropriate actions to mitigate potential risks.


Asbestos claims aren’t just a day in the office for Justinian C. Lane. 

They’re a mission.

In the past, workers exposed to asbestos were kept in the dark about the dangers of asbestos exposure. Among those workers were Justinian’s grandparents and his own father. 

Unfortunately, they were also kept in the dark about the compensation options available to them, such as asbestos lawsuits and trust funds. In their later years, they died from asbestos-related cancers.  

Because no one in Justinian’s family knew their options, they never received any compensation for the death of their loved ones. 

Today, we’re working to turn the tide. 

Significant compensation may be available to you if you have contracted an asbestos-related illness or injury. This includes workers as well as family members who have been exposed. 

Compensation is your key to receiving the medical treatment you need, funding asbestos removal services, and maintaining your physical well-being. 

Want to know one of the quickest and easiest ways to receive compensation? Let us talk to you about asbestos trust claims. This option can often avoid lawsuits altogether.

We want to hear your story, and more importantly, we want to bring redemption to it. 

Need help filing a claim? No problem, you can email us at [email protected]

Would you rather talk over the phone? Simply call or text us, at (206) 455-9190

You won’t pay a penny to us unless you receive money first, so there’s no risk. 

In addition to legal claims, veterans disability, social security and employment protection like workers compensation, FELA and The Jones Act for maritime workers, there are asbestos trusts that have been set up to compensate those harmed by asbestos without having to file a lawsuit.

The dangers of asbestos used to be an industry-guarded secret kept from suffering people like Justinian’s family. Not anymore. We’re bringing you the truth.

We’ve created numerous resources to help answer your questions and empower you with the information you need to know and act on. 

Our website has a wealth of information dedicated to things like health and safety, asbestos testing, asbestos removal, and legal information about compensation for asbestos injuries.

Are you a visual learner? No problem! 

Our YouTube page has infographics, an asbestos history series, and other helpful resources for you to check out!

Not sure where or when you were exposed to asbestos? 

Let W.A.R.D. help you!

The Worldwide Asbestos Research Database (W.A.R.D) is the largest asbestos information database, period.  If you need answers related to specific locations, products, or what type of compensation may be available to you due to asbestos exposure, W.A.R.D. is the place to start.

Working with us is risk-free. Unless you receive compensation money, there are NO FEES! Speak to us about asbestos litigation today.

Scientific Citation: Vinyl-Asbestos Floor Risk Exposure in Three Different Simulations., Zichella L, Baudana F, Zanetti G, Marini P., Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2021 Feb 20;18(4):2073. doi: 10.3390/ijerph18042073. PMID: 33672661; PMCID: PMC7924406. 1 National Cancer Institute (NIH), Asbestos Fact Sheet.
2 National Cancer Institute (NIH), Asbestos Fact Sheet.
3 Ferrante, D., Bertolotti, M., Todesco, A., Mirabelli, D., Terracini, B. and Magnani, C., 2007. Cancer mortality and incidence of mesothelioma in a cohort of wives of asbestos workers in Casale Monferrato, Italy. Environmental Health Perspectives, 115(10), pp.1401-1405.
4 Miller, A., 2005. Mesothelioma in household members of asbestos‐exposed workers: 32 United States cases since 1990. American journal of industrial medicine, 47(5), pp.458-462.
5 Reid, A., Heyworth, J., De Klerk, N. and Musk, A.W., 2008. The mortality of women exposed environmentally and domestically to blue asbestos at Wittenoom, Western Australia. Occupational and environmental medicine, 65(11), pp.743-749.
6 İşten, B.H.S.T.O. and Maruziyetler, E.T., 2021. Exposures Moved from Work to Home as a Public Health Hazard.