5 Min Read
Last Updated: 10/04/2023
Fact Checked

Written by Michelle Whitmer | Edited By Walter Pacheco

Do Popcorn Ceilings Contain Asbestos?

Popcorn ceilings installed in homes and businesses prior to 1980 may contain asbestos, a mineral that can pose a significant threat to your health. Typically, undisturbed ceilings aren’t a health risk, but you should still look into having asbestos removed safely to prevent potential future issues. 

Use of asbestos in textured ceiling materials was at its peak from around 1945 through 1980. Popcorn ceilings contained asbestos for its resistance to heat and corrosion. 

Is asbestos still used in popcorn ceilings? Asbestos is no longer added to popcorn ceilings because it’s a known health risk. The chances of your ceiling containing asbestos are low for any installations in the later 1980s or after. Newly constructed ceilings don’t use asbestos. 

Should I Test for Asbestos in my Popcorn Ceilings? 

If your popcorn ceiling is older and likely to contain asbestos, you may want to have it tested. You can’t tell if a ceiling contains asbestos just from its appearance or age. Testing is the only way to know for sure.

While undisturbed asbestos isn’t usually a problem, it’s easy to disturb and release harmful dust. Simply installing hooks or nails in the ceiling, accidentally scraping it during cleaning or killing a bug or kids kicking the ceiling from the top bunk bed can all release asbestos into the air.

Asbestos Testing Procedure:
  1. Hire a licensed asbestos professional to conduct an inspection.
  2. The professional will send the samples to a lab for analysis.
  3. You’ll receive a survey report with the test results.

It’s possible, but not recommended, to test for asbestos with a DIY kit. These kits exist to take samples you can send to a lab, but this method isn’t as accurate and increases your risk of asbestos exposure

Associated Health Risks of Asbestos Exposure 

Asbestos is a known carcinogen that can lead to a number of serious health problems, including mesothelioma and lung cancer. Toxic asbestos fibers in the air can be inhaled and become stuck indefinitely in the lungs. The fibers can cause inflammation and scarring that leads to cancer and other conditions. 

Asbestos is the primary cause of mesothelioma. While there are treatments for malignant mesothelioma, there is no cure. Swallowing or inhaling asbestos fibers can also cause other asbestos-related diseases

Asbestos-Related Diseases
  • Asbestosis
  • Diffuse pleural thickening
  • Laryngeal cancer
  • Lung cancer
  • Mesothelioma
  • Ovarian cancer
  • Pleural effusions
  • Pleural plaques
  • Pleuritis

The first signs of asbestos exposure are the symptoms of related diseases. These symptoms include shortness of breath, chest tightness or pain, dry cough, wheezing, difficulty swallowing, loss of appetite and weight loss. Unfortunately, there are no asbestos exposure signs that are noticeable before an asbestos-related disease develops. 

Removing Asbestos Popcorn Ceilings 

Improperly handling asbestos puts you and others at risk. If you have asbestos in your home, hire a licensed asbestos abatement professional. 

Laws and regulations regarding the safe handling of asbestos exist to protect public health. Attempting DIY removal may not only put you and loved ones at risk of developing a serious illness, but you could also face fines or other penalties.

Key Tips for Having Asbestos Removed
  • Verify the credentials and qualifications of any asbestos abatement company you’re considering hiring.
  • Ask for references from previous clients.
  • Discuss in detail how they approach removing asbestos from properties and how the process will impact you and your family before, during and after work.
  • Speak with more than one company to compare prices, approaches and timelines to find the best professional for your needs.

It’s best to call a professional with the right training and equipment to remove the asbestos. DIY measures can further expose you to harm. A trained expert is licensed to ensure proper ventilation and has the right protective gear. They know how to perform removal according to regulations, which prevents further exposure throughout the home.

What Should I Do If I’m Exposed to Asbestos in a Popcorn Ceiling?

Inform your doctor of any exposure to asbestos and try to document the exposure event in detail. Keeping a detailed record of how and when exposure happened can help your doctor better understand your situation. 

Let your doctor know if you work with popcorn ceilings often. Asbestos-related diseases take decades to develop from the point of exposure, so you likely won’t experience symptoms right away. Your doctor will monitor your health and may recommend regular mesothelioma screenings.

If you received a diagnosis of an asbestos-related disease like mesothelioma, seek the help of a specialist. A patient advocate can help connect you with one in your area. Patient advocates also offer support to both patients and their loved ones, connecting them with helpful resources such as support groups and financial assistance options. 

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