Popcorn ceilings were extremely popular design features in the 1960s and 1970s. Some builders still use them today. Modern popcorn ceilings usually have paper fillers. But back in the day, builders often used asbestos. In fact, a popcorn ceiling from the 1970s or earlier might be up to 10 percent asbestos.

Asbestos-laced ceilings are safer than asbestos-laced walls, tiles, or floors. There’s less wear and tear on the ceiling. As long as asbestos isn’t exposed to air, it’s not a problem. But mostly due to gravity, ceilings wear out eventually. That’s especially true of decorative ceilings. So, if your ceiling is laced with asbestos, you cannot ignore the problem forever.

Asbestos Testing 

If you plan on staying in your home or want to make it as marketable as possible, professional asbestos testing is the best way to obtain peace of mind. Professionals who come onsite know how to extract and preserve samples. Therefore, test results are much more accurate. Results come much faster as well. A mail-in laboratory might take a month to analyze a sample and return results. An onsite professional team can complete this process in a few days.

Do-It-Yourself Asbestos Testing May Not Be As Accurate

Do-it-yourself testing is less accurate and much slower. But if you plan on selling your house quickly and aren’t interested in top dollar, a home test, with an assist from an offsite laboratory, might be a good idea.

DIY testing may be inaccurate and slow. But it is cheap and relatively easy. Before you extract a five-gram ceiling sample (five grams is a little more than a tablespoon), make sure you have the right equipment. Disposable coveralls are probably the most important equipment. These coveralls must indeed cover all. No part of your skin should be exposed to the air when you test for asbestos in a popcorn ceiling. 

To catch any asbestos-laced dust that escapes into the air, surround the work area with plastic sheets. Saturate the air and the ceiling test surface with water from a mister. Keep spraying mist as you test. The constant spraying suppresses dust and also keeps you from working too quickly and disturbing dust. 

After you loosen some test material with a knife, use disposable pliers to place it in a ziplock storage bag. Then, clean the area and throw away everything. That includes all your coveralls, tools used, and cleaning implements used. Finally, paint over the tested area and discard the paint brush. 

A laboratory can test the sample for asbestos fibers. These microscopic fibers are far too small to be visible to the naked eye. About 20,000 such fibers can fit in the space between Abraham Lincoln’s upped chin and upper lip on a U.S. penny.

Liability Issues

As long as asbestos remains entirely below the surface, the entire ceiling could be made of this substance and no one would ever get hurt. But these fibers are so tiny that even a hairline crack could be a major problem.

Constructive Knowledge and Asbestos Testing

Lack of knowledge is usually the best defense to premises liability matters, like asbestos exposure and falls. Homeowners cannot address problems they don’t know about. However, a legal principle called constructive knowledge often comes into play in these situations. Builders commonly used asbestos before 1980. So, if your home was built before then, or if your popcorn ceiling was installed or remodeled before then, the constructive knowledge rule probably applies. Owners in these situations should know that their ceiling is potentially hazardous.

Without this defense, a homeowner could face a big liability judgment, even if the victim was exposed decades previously. Given the high costs associated with cancer treatments and other such chronic illness treatments, a popcorn ceiling asbestos test is definitely the stitch in time that saves nine.

What To Do About Potential Asbestos Exposure

If you believe you may have disturbed asbestos in a home, office, or other structure, you should immediately contact your local health authority. Most states and cities offer asbestos testing services and maintain public lists of licensed asbestos removal companies. 

Some businesses will also be able to conduct air quality tests to see if the asbestos fibers have scattered to or contaminated any surrounding sites. 

If you believe that you were exposed to asbestos, you could be entitled to significant compensation—money you could use to cover the costs of asbestos removal services, pay for medical treatment, and preemptively protect your physical well-being. 

If you have been diagnosed with an asbestos illness, you may qualify for compensation without filing a lawsuit.

AsbestosClaims.law is your comprehensive resource for all things asbestos. We hope this information helps you. If you have any additional questions or concerns related to asbestos, including testing for exposure or how to file a claim, please get in touch by email at [email protected], us or call or text us at (206) 455-9190.