Popcorn ceilings were extremely popular from the 1950s to the 1980s. Before the dangers of asbestos were widely known, most popcorn ceilings were made from this deadly material. If you have popcorn ceilings in your home, they’re likely safe if left undisturbed. That said, it’s still a good idea to find out if they contain asbestos before you start your next home renovation project.

Are Asbestos Popcorn Ceilings Safe?

Often dubbed a “sleeping monster,” asbestos that lurks in building materials does not pose a risk until it is disturbed. At that point, it becomes extremely dangerous, putting anyone who breathes it in at risk for deadly diseases, such as mesothelioma.

If the popcorn ceilings in your home are in good shape, they likely will not release dangerous asbestos fibers. However, if you notice damage — or if you plan to make changes to your home that might disturb the popcorn ceilings — you will need to act.

Asbestos popcorn ceilings can be disturbed during renovations, natural disasters, and even normal wear and tear. The best plan of action is to test your popcorn ceilings for asbestos.

How to Tell if A Popcorn Ceiling Has Asbestos

After asbestos was mostly banned in 1978, popcorn ceilings were made with paper fiber. However, suppliers were allowed to legally sell their existing inventory of asbestos-containing products. Because of this, popcorn ceilings were installed in homes into the mid-1980s.

Did You Know?

It is advisable to hire an asbestos abatement professional to test your popcorn ceiling.

The risk of asbestos is most prevalent when products containing the mineral are disturbed. When this occurs, tiny fibers are released and can be inhaled by anyone nearby. It is well documented that there is no safe level of asbestos exposure.

Tips for Dealing With Asbestos Popcorn Ceilings

If you learn that your popcorn ceilings contain asbestos, follow these useful tips:

  • Do not use tape, screws, or nails in the ceiling
  • Do not scrape the ceiling
  • Do not put shelving in that connects with the ceiling
  • Do not use bunk beds in a room that has asbestos popcorn ceiling
  • Pillows or toys should not be thrown at the ceiling
  • Any peeling that begins is cause for the ceiling to be removed or enclosed
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Removing Asbestos Popcorn Ceilings

If you decide to have your asbestos popcorn ceiling removed, it is critical that you take the proper precautions and follow all guidelines set by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Some protective measures taken by asbestos abatement professionals are as follows:

  • Remove all furniture from the room with asbestos, and use plastic to cover anything that cannot be removed.
  • Turn off the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system to avoid asbestos contamination getting into other areas.
  • Seal the windows and doors with plastic flaps.
  • Ensure that people or pets not wearing protective gear stay out of the area.
  • Wear a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) respirator, and set-up an air purifier.
  • Wear disposable coveralls with hair and skin covered.
  • Keep the popcorn ceiling wet to prevent dust from contaminating the air.
  • Place asbestos-containing waste in sealed and properly-labeled plastic bags.
  • Call a trash-pickup or landfill service that is equipped to accept asbestos in advance to make arrangements for removal/disposal.

Failing to follow proper guidelines can be expensive. Damage due to poorly handled asbestos removal is usually not covered by insurance — and, more importantly, it can be deadly.

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7 authentic stories of mesothelioma patients who outlived their prognosis

Arthur Putt
Arthur Putt

Diagnosis: Pleural mesothelioma
Still Thriving: 5+ year survivor

Julie Gundlach
Julie Gundlach

Diagnosis: Peritoneal mesothelioma
Still Thriving: 17+ year survivor

John Stahl and Dee Stahl
John Stahl

Diagnosis: Stage 4 pleural mesothelioma
Still Thriving: 3+ year survivor

Mary Jane Williams
Mary Jane Williams

Diagnosis: Peritoneal mesothelioma
Beating the Odds: 15+ year survivor

Alexis Kidd and Christian Kidd
Alexis Kidd

Diagnosis: Peritoneal mesothelioma
Still Thriving: 16+ year survivor

Jill Litton
Jill Litton

Diagnosis: Peritoneal mesothelioma
Still Thriving: 14+ year survivor

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Seeking Justice for Asbestos Exposure

Many people have developed asbestos-related diseases as a direct result of working with or around asbestos popcorn ceilings. If you or a loved one were exposed to asbestos and were later diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease like mesothelioma, you may be entitled to compensation.

Get in touch with our dedicated team of Patient Advocates today by filling out our free case review form. We can evaluate your case and determine if you may be eligible for financial aid.

Written by:

Lead Editor

Laura Wright is a journalist and content strategist with more than 15 years of professional experience. She attended college at the University of Florida, graduating magna cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in journalism in 2008. Her writing has been featured in The Gainesville Sun and other regional publications throughout Florida.

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