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Asbestos in Popcorn Ceiling

Asbestos was a popular material in the construction of homes and businesses for decades in the US and worldwide – despite the fact that studies have shown for a long period of time that it can lead to serious health problems.

Because of the carelessness of companies that manufactured asbestos containing products, people have developed severe health issues from exposure to this dangerous substance, such as mesothelioma and lung cancer.

One of the primary uses for asbestos, along with insulation and flooring, was in the construction of popcorn ceilings, also referred to as cottage cheese ceiling and stucco ceiling. Unfortunately, many people still have a popcorn ceiling in their home, and are unaware of the health issues they can cause.

Why was asbestos used in popcorn ceilings?

Asbestos was seen as a miracle material in construction as it was highly durable and resilient, and was able to resist heat and chemicals. Asbestos was included in spray on popcorn ceilings, with this look being most popular from the 1950s to the 1980s.

This aesthetic became popular among homeowners partially because the textured look was more forgiving, allowing for people without skills in plastering to do their own home decorating.

However, because these popcorn ceilings contained such high concentrations of asbestos – up to 10% in some cases – and were so frail and easy to damage, the risk of asbestos exposure from them was, and remains, particularly high.

How long was asbestos used in popcorn ceilings for?

Asbestos was first used in construction more generally in the late 19th century, and continued to be widely used in the US until health warning were issued in the 1970s. However, this doesn’t mean that asbestos use completely ceased, and it is actually still legal to use today despite being highly regulated.

Popcorn ceilings began to be used in the 1950s, but the products used to make them were banned from manufacture in 1978 with the introduction of the Clean Air act.

Nonetheless, companies were still allowed to use the remainder of their stock, meaning that these asbestos popcorn ceilings were being built into houses as late as the 1980s – well past the time when companies became aware of the associated health risks.

Which companies manufactured asbestos popcorn ceilings?

Popcorn ceilings were hugely popular in the last half of the 20th century, and popcorn ceiling texture products were therefore produced by a wide variety of companies. The most popular of these was Artex, to the extent that popcorn ceilings became known colloquially as Artex ceilings. Other companies known for asbestos production in the US include National Gypsum, Johns-Manville, and Armstrong World Industries.

Does my popcorn ceiling contain asbestos?

If your house has surfaces with a popcorn ceiling texture and was built before 1980, it is highly likely that you have an asbestos-containing popcorn ceiling. Although some popcorn ceilings that don’t contain asbestos are produced nowadays, they are significantly less on trend than they once were, meaning that a popcorn ceiling in your home is likely to be from the period where asbestos in popcorn ceilings was the norm.

It is important to note that the health risks associated with popcorn ceilings remain the same regardless of the percentage of asbestos in them – if ceiling is disturbed or damaged, you can inhale asbestos dust and develop illnesses, such as mesothelioma and lung cancer.

What are the risks of having an asbestos popcorn ceiling?

The diseases that can be contracted from having an asbestos popcorn ceiling in your home are numerous, and can even be fatal. The most deadly is pleural mesothelioma, a type of lung cancer that develops when asbestos fibers are inhaled and become stuck in the lung lining, creating scarring and eventually leading to the formation of malignant tumors.

Sadly, mesothelioma is currently incurable, and once diagnosed a patient will have a life expectancy of 18 months on average.

Because asbestos fibers are impossible to see or smell, you can never be sure whether they have entered the air from your popcorn ceiling. Therefore, the safest course of action is to have your ceiling tested – if it is found to contain asbestos, popcorn ceiling removal can be undertaken by asbestos abatement specialists.

How can I remove a popcorn ceiling?

If you identify asbestos in popcorn ceilings in your home and want to remove it, we highly recommend that you hire a professional who can follow the asbestos ceiling removal guidelines set by the Environmental Protection Agency. Popcorn ceiling removal is likely to release asbestos dust into the air and, therefore be more dangerous than leaving the ceiling alone if the proper precautions aren’t taken.

Some of the precautions that are taken by professionals when removing popcorn ceiling materials include:

  • Taking all of the furniture out of the room
  • Turning off heating and ventilation to avoid dust entering other areas of your home
  • Wearing protective gear such as a mask and disposable coveralls
  • Sealing off doors and windows
  • Keeping people without protective gear and pets away from the room where the ceiling is being removed
  • Disposing of the popcorn ceiling material through a trash pickup or landfill service equipped to deal with asbestos.

In the meantime, if you have an asbestos containing ceiling, it is important to avoid:

  • Scraping the coating off of the ceiling
  • Installing any screws or hooks into the ceiling
  • Using bunk beds in a bedroom with an asbestos ceiling
  • Throwing anything against the ceiling

Do I have a legal case if I experience asbestos related health problems?

If you have developed a health problem like mesothelioma or lung lining scarring, you may be entitled to compensation from the manufacturer of the popcorn ceiling product that has caused your illness.

You can talk to us for a free consultation if you think that you may have a case – our goal is to help victims of asbestos exposure find justice and peace in their situation.