Ceiling tiles were another product that asbestos was commonly added to, giving them extra durability but, more importantly, added fire resistance — an important factor for any material used in ceilings.
As with all other asbestos building products, the discovery of a link between exposure to the material and higher risks of mesothelioma, absestosis, and lung disease brought a halt to the practice of using it in ceiling tiles but only after decades of use.
Ceiling tiles are a mixed bag when it comes to health risks as while they are difficult to remove intact in some cases, their location makes them safe from some of the wear and tear floor tiles receive.
Identifying Asbestos Ceiling Tiles
There’s no way to tell from a visual inspection if ceiling tiles contain asbestos or not, so the only way to be certain is to take a sample and send it to a testing lab.
Like other older materials that you believe may be contaminated, age isn’t necessarily a smoking gun when it comes to asbestos-containing material (ACM); not every manufacturer added the “wonder” mineral to their products so you’ll never know until the test is completed.
Most labs charge a reasonable fee — usually around $20 — for testing and the results are completed within a week or less from when they receive your sample.
Remove or Leave in Place
If you do have asbestos in your ceiling tiles the next step is to carefully consider your options, keeping in mind that asbestos is only dangerous and a health risk when it is friable and can be broken up with gently hand pressure, sending fibers into the air.
ACMs such as insulation and pipe wrap can be very dangerous but ceiling tiles are typically not a serious risk, as it’s difficult to reach them in day-to-day life and they’re completely safe as long as they’re left undisturbed.
They’re unfortunately often not aesthetically pleasing, leading many people to consider removal. Many states allow homeowners to remove contaminated ceiling tiles and other materials themselves but this should never be attempted if the material is fragile and crumbling or without the proper safety equipment (Tyvek suit, respirator rated for asbestos work, and goggles).
Professional Abatement Services
Most homeowners opt to call in the professionals when it comes to removing asbestos ceiling tiles. Most states require special licensing and certification and safety equipment to tackle asbestos work so you can’t simply hire any contractor in the Yellow Pages for the job.
Every worker on the job site must also be licensed for handling the material, which can lead to long projects and expensive bills when it’s time to finally settle up.
While expensive, for some the peace of mind of knowing that the asbestos is out of their home and that the work was done as safely as humanly possible is well worth the cost.