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Does your popcorn ceiling contain asbestos?

Texturized or “popcorn” ceilings used to be a popular way of hiding imperfections and improving acoustics. While this was an incredibly popular design element through much of the 20th century, the primary component of blown-on texture was asbestos up until the Clean Air Act of 1978. Asbestos fibers, when inhaled, are known to cause diseases such as asbestosis and mesothelioma.

Are you in danger? Understanding the product’s usefulness can be helpful in determining where else it might be lurking in your home.

Why is asbestos used?

Asbestos was unregulated and widely used in the U.S. prior to 1978. This naturally occurring group of fibrous silicate minerals have a high tensile strength, are virtually fire-proof and are resistant to electricity and heat. These attributes make asbestos a nearly perfect material to use in the production of anything from car parts to bed sheets.

By the time the Clean Air Act went into place, the risks associated with asbestos were widely known. The Act, however, only bans certain applications. For this reason, products that meet certain criteria can be made with asbestos.  

Along with popcorn ceilings, here are some other common home applications:

  • Ceiling tiles
  • Insulation (including inside HVAC systems)
  • Vinyl floor tiles
  • Vehicle parts
  • Flooring glue
  • Siding material
  • Plaster
  • Paint
  • Window caulking and glazing
  • Potting soils
  • Fireproof clothing

How to remove asbestos

Banning asbestos does not mean that it was removed from the homes in which it was applied. As the design pendulum has long been in the land of flat ceilings, many home owners are discovering that ridding their homes of textured ceiling applications is not a simple DIY project.

For those living or working in homes built prior to 1978 or as late as the 1980s,  do not disrupt the texture on your ceilings without first contacting a professional to determine what texturizing material was used. Without taking safety precautions, any disruption to existing asbestos will result in the release of thousands of hazardous fibers into the air.

If your home contains asbestos or you are not sure if it does, it’s critically important to find a reputable abatement company that can safely remove the material. If asbestos is identified, it’s important to see a physician who can help you understand the risks to your health.

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