There is a lot of controversy around the question as to whether or not asbestos tiles, or asbestos floor tiles respectively, should be removed at all from old houses. Some experts suggest not taking them out, others strongly recommend to have them entirely removed as soon as possible. Interestingly enough, either camp uses the exact same argument to support their point; the risk of being exposed to asbestos, which may result in severe diseases such as mesothelioma, asbestosis and lung cancer.
Asbestos has been widely used in all kinds of building supply products, and was known for its formidable characteristics with respect to heat and fire resistance, durability and low manufacturing costs. That's why we still see asbestos floor tile in many houses that were built prior to the 1980s. Around that time, the medical community alerted the public of alarmingly high numbers of newly diagnosed patients with asbestos induced diseases.
The material itself, if it is still intact and undamaged, does not pose any health risk. However, a problem occurs if the tiles are scratched or broken. To explain it in unsophisticated terms: the asbestos is contained inside the tile and only if the tile gets damaged, microscopic toxic fibers will airborne and contaminate the air.
A homeowner who has asbestos tile installed in his house, is faced with the question what to do. The options are to leave the tiles the way they are and cover them with a new layer of flooring, such ceramic tiles, parquet or hardwood. This solution is certainly less expensive than removing the asbestos tiles. However, some people are simply not comfortable with the thought of 'sitting' on a sealed up hazardous material, and much rather get rid of it entirely. The obvious alternative is to take out the floor in a do-it-yourself fashion, or to hire an asbestos removal company to take care of the task.
Removing old asbestos tiling is a tricky project and it is virtually impossible not to break or damage the tiles as they are being worked on. In almost all of the cases they were glued on to the floor and it therefore requires the right gear and some force to 'scratch' them off. This bears the risk of inhaling or ingesting the toxic dust particles and we already addressed the possible consequences if that happens.
Therefore and in my humble opinion, if I had to remove asbestos floor tile from my house, I would definitely leave it up to the experts. Because buying all the necessary gear, including the adequate protection and tools, plus taking care of the disposal of the old asbestos tiles, would probably cost me more than just hiring an asbestos abatement company.
Lastly, there is a law that clearly sets forth your responsibility to dispose any kind of hazardous material in an appropriate manner. Putting them out with your regular garbage or throwing them into a dumpster can have serious legal consequences. Under the CERCLA, the Comprehensive Emergency Response Compensation Liability Act, you and even your children can be held liable for any violations.