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How To Tell if Your Popcorn Ceiling Contains Asbestos

How to tell if your popcorn ceiling contains asbestos

You’re renovating or redecorating a home, and you want to modernize its aesthetic. As a contractor or someone who restores older homes, you know that the way things were once constructed is no longer considered the safest way to do it.

Among other questions, this may lead you to wonder, “How can you tell if your popcorn ceiling contains asbestos?” We’ll do our best to address this inquiry below.

What To Know About This Toxic Mineral and Its Use in Construction

If your home was constructed before 1990, then there’s a strong likelihood that a product containing asbestos was used during its construction. This is especially the case if the work occurred between what some refer to as the “high-risk period” for asbestos, which many have pinpointed between 1945 and 1980.

We point this out to highlight how, if your home or building ticks off any of these boxes, it’s best to assume that there’s asbestos contained in the popcorn ceiling and that it was used in countless other areas.

Steps To Take to Determine If There’s Asbestos in Your Ceiling’s Coating

If you’re thinking that you can just look at your ceiling and determine if it contains asbestos, then think again. Naturally occurring asbestos fibers are particularly small, so seeing them would be impossible for a person’s naked eye.

The only nearly foolproof way of knowing if your popcorn ceiling is asbestos-laden is to have it tested. So, how do you do that? There are two primary options, including:

Requesting an Appointment with a Licensed Asbestos Removal Professional

The safest option for determining if your popcorn ceiling contains asbestos is to have a professional, with the asbestos removal credentials that meet the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency requirements, come to your home or place or business to perform the test. Why?

They’ll come properly suited so they don’t get any potentially toxic fibers on them and thus others they come into contact with.

Plus, they’ll know how to properly cover cordon off the area where the sampling is occurring so none of them become airborne or plant themselves on surfaces where you (and others) can breathe them in, putting you at risk of developing asbestosis, mesothelioma, or other asbestos-related conditions.

Performing Testing Yourself

Although this shouldn’t be your first choice, if you’re not looking to hire an abatement professional, at the very least, you may want to strongly consider using an at-home asbestos testing kit before attempting to remove any popcorn ceiling yourself.

You can generally purchase these at your local hardware store, although some suggest that they don’t produce as reliable of results as professional testing can. Also, taking the sampling necessary to run this test yourself is extremely dangerous, potentially putting you at risk of making toxic asbestos fibers airborne.

Should you go the at-home testing route, you will need to send the sample to one of the certified labs listed in the test packaging.

Just research how long you can expect the turnaround on results to take and look at accuracy ratings for those facilities before you select where to send the test off.

How Do Laboratories Test Popcorn Ceiling Samples?

Since asbestos fibers are microscopic, lab technicians must place the samples they receive under a microscope for examination. They use one of two methods to view the slides under the microscope.

Those approaches include:

  • Polarized light microscopy (PLM): This is the primary method of assessing asbestos slides. It relies on the use of polarized light in the analysis of the fibers. This approach is effective at not only helping technicians identify asbestos fibers but also in differentiating whether there’s a presence of one type over another.
  • Transmission electron microscopy (TEM): This approach is often used when PLM results are unclear. It’s particularly effective at helping lab technicians identify the smallest of asbestos particles that TEM technology sometimes cannot pick up on.

What To Expect After Asbestos Testing of Your Ceiling Is Complete

After testing is complete, the laboratory you sent the sample to or the certified asbestos removal professional should follow up with you with a report that should outline the following:

  • Whether there was any presence of asbestos in the sample
  • How many asbestos fibers were identified in the sample you sent in
  • What types of asbestos fibers are included in the sample

What Should You Do After Reading the Results?

If the test results confirm the presence of asbestos, you’ll want to take extra caution to not take matters into your own hands and try to remove or otherwise disturb the popcorn ceiling.

Instead, if you still want to get rid of it, you’ll want to have a certified technician take care of it for you.

They’ll be able to suit up, cover your other belongings, safely remove this carcinogen, and minimize the chances of any of this toxic fiber going airborne.

Why Can’t I Take on the Removal of My Asbestos-Ridden Popcorn Ceiling on My Own?

We’ve mentioned above that there are inherent dangers when asbestos fibers become airborne. If you inhale it, it can cause you to develop debilitating conditions such as:

  • Asbestosis
  • Lung Cancer
  • Mesothelioma

In the case of the latter, it can grow within your body undetected for as long as decades, only rearing its ugly head once it has already caused irreversible harm. Thus, once diagnosed with mesothelioma, aggressive treatment is necessary to prevent a rapid deterioration of your condition.

Getting Help If Asbestos Affected Your Health

Here at Frost Law Firm, PC, we work closely with individuals who’ve had their lives upended by an asbestos-related diagnosis. While curing many of these diseases may not be an option, medical treatments that currently exist can provide patients with symptom relief and sometimes prolong their lives.

We want to speak with you about your diagnosis and prognosis so that we can advise you on how you may be eligible to recover a settlement.

Our Experience Is Personal

Scott L. Frost’s Family Experience with Lung Cancer

For most of his life, Scott L. Frost’s father, who was in the construction industry, worked with and sold products containing asbestos without knowing the materials were dangerous. He was diagnosed with lung cancer 40 years after starting his career, leading Scott’s family to fight like they had never fought before.

Pictured here with his wife of over 50 years, Scott’s father eventually succumbed to the cancer. Since then, Scott has made it his mission to do everything in his power to make sure corporations understand how dangerous asbestos is and prevent future generations from suffering as his family did, as well as support research that may lead to finding a cure.

We have a commitment to our veterans. Let us help.

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