Do Popcorn Ceilings Contain Asbestos?

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As the weather warms up, it is time to start thinking about summer projects in and around the house. Whether you are looking to sell your home and take advantage of low home inventories in the twin cities or you want to make an update to your home, there are always plenty of projects to fill the summer.

After a long winter of being indoors, it may seem like a good time to update your popcorn ceiling. Redoing a ceiling can be an ambitious undertaking. If the ceiling does not contain asbestos, your ceilings can be a great weekend project. A ceiling containing asbestos, however, is a risky project that should be left to the professionals.

Here’s what you need to know before you get out your scraper and start working on your popcorn ceiling.

Is my home at risk?

Although there was a ban on asbestos-containing paint in the late 1970s, companies that still had a supply could continue using what they had in stock. This means that ceilings done into the early 1980s are still at risk for containing asbestos.

In a ceiling that contains asbestos, the paint acts as a seal and can protect you from harmful exposure. Pay attention, however, for areas that are cracking, chipping or peeling. Asbestos can get into the air in your home once there is a break in the paint.

Testing your ceiling for asbestos

If you have noticed cracks in the paint or the popcorn ceiling must go, it is time to get it tested. Local hardware stores sell kits that can guide you through getting a sample to send in for analysis.

Get a sample from a closet or other out-of-the-way enclosed space that is away from people and pets. When you are getting a sample of the ceiling for the sample, be sure to use a protective mask over your face so that you do not breathe in dangerous asbestos fibers.

What to do about asbestos in my ceiling

If you discover that your ceiling does have asbestos, removing the “popcorn” look is no longer a do-it-yourself weekend job; it is time to call a professional. The process of scraping the popcorn off your ceiling will release asbestos into the air, and the exposure could lead to illnesses such as mesothelioma and asbestosis. When it comes to exposure to asbestos, there is no “safe” amount, so it is best to call people who have the right equipment.

No amount is safe

There was a time when asbestos was in nearly everything. It was flame-resistant, affordable and easy to mine. When people started developing mesothelioma and other asbestos-related illnesses, it seemed like only large amounts were a risk. Over the years, however, doctors have found that any amount of asbestos can make you sick.

Mesothelioma is an aggressive cancer that can take years to develop. When it comes to a home improvement project like this one, it is better to call a professional with the right equipment to do it safely.

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