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Asbestos in Popcorn Ceilings | How to Detect & What to Do

January 9, 2023

Popcorn ceilings, or ceilings that are decorated with a bumpy spray-on texture, were popular in homes built between 1950 and 1990. The textured spray was common due to its soundproofing abilities and resistance to heat. Unfortunately, many popcorn ceiling sprays contained asbestos – a dangerous mineral that can cause mesothelioma, lung cancer, asbestosis and many other serious health conditions.

Asbestos was not banned or regulated in the United States until the late 1980s. By this time, millions of homes and buildings already contained popcorn ceilings and were contaminated with asbestos. Unfortunately, exposure to asbestos through popcorn ceilings comes with significant health risks for residents and workers in these buildings.

Whether you are concerned about asbestos in your popcorn ceilings, have already discovered the presence of asbestos in the popcorn spray texture, or have been diagnosed with mesothelioma and are researching your legal options, use this guide for answers. The attorneys at Bailey & Glasser, LLP are here to help families affected by asbestos in popcorn ceilings.

Asbestos Contamination in Popcorn Ceilings

Popcorn ceilings are created by applying a dimpled, spray-on style of drywall to the ceiling of a room. Other names for popcorn ceilings include acoustic, blown-on, spray-on, stipple, stucco, textured and cottage cheese ceilings. These sprays were installed in homes until the mid-1980s. Some reports have found that asbestos is present in buildings constructed as late as the 1990s, however, due to the fact that asbestos products already in existence at the time of the ban were permitted to be used.

Unfortunately, ceiling sprays, including popcorn ceilings, often used asbestos as an ingredient. Estimates place the amount of asbestos present in popcorn ceiling sprays between 1 and 10 percent. If the ceilings in an older home have never been replaced, the spray-on texture may still contain asbestos. If you are planning any type of construction project or your popcorn ceilings are peeling off, it may be time to have an asbestos inspection performed.

Asbestos In Popcorn Ceilings

Do All Popcorn Ceilings Contain Asbestos?

Many, but not all, homes and structures built between the 1950s to the 1990s have textured ceiling sprays that contain asbestos. If a building was constructed outside of these years, this means a lower risk of asbestos contamination. In 1973, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) came out with the first ban on spray-on materials used for fireproofing or insulating purposes that contained asbestos.

In 1978, this ban was extended to other spray-on paints and materials. By 1990, the EPA passed a more comprehensive ban on spray-on surfacing materials made with more than 1 percent asbestos. Finally, in 2019, the EPA published a Final Rule that banned textured paints and block filler paints. This means that newer buildings and homes are much less likely to contain asbestos in spray-on substances.

How to Detect Asbestos in Your Popcorn Ceilings

First, determine if you have popcorn ceilings or if any type of ceiling spray was used in the construction of your home. Look at the ceilings in your home or workplace to search for visible bumps, lumps, dimples or a pockmarked surface. The depth of the “popcorn” effect may be shallow or deep. Textured ceilings are often white, off-white or beige in color, but they may have been painted many different colors.

If you have popcorn ceilings, this does not necessarily mean that you have been exposed to asbestos. Asbestos generally does not pose a health risk until it is disturbed. If asbestos particles are sent into the air, however, anyone who breathes them in is at risk of developing a deadly disease, including mesothelioma. If you are planning any construction project that involves your popcorn ceilings – even something as simple as drilling a hole in your ceiling to hang something – you must take the proper steps to protect yourself and others from potential asbestos exposure.

Have a licensed and qualified asbestos professional come to your home to test for the presence of asbestos in your popcorn ceilings. Asbestos testing is a delicate job that requires proper training and protective gear. Doing it yourself could expose you to health risks connected to asbestos fibers from touching or disturbing the ceiling spray. If asbestos is discovered, you will need professionals to remove it before proceeding.

What to Do if Your Popcorn Ceilings Have Asbestos

Popcorn ceilings have largely gone out of style. This leads to many homeowners engaging in projects to try to remove their spray-on textures. It is critical, however, not to touch your popcorn ceilings or begin work until you have dealt with the possibility of asbestos contamination with help from professionals.

If you have popcorn ceilings, avoid touching them. Do not use screws, nails or tape on the ceilings. Do not scrape the ceiling, including using a scraper as a textured spray removal technique. Do not throw anything at the ceiling. Avoid using any shelves that join with the ceiling. Do not use bunk beds in a room with popcorn ceilings, as this could place an individual closer to contaminated materials.

Do not use bunk beds in a room with popcorn ceilings

You may be able to leave your ceilings alone and avoid asbestos exposure. Check your ceilings periodically, however, for signs of problems or disrepair. It is generally time to remove popcorn ceilings if the spray has begun peeling off. To remove popcorn ceiling spray safely, hire a licensed asbestos removal company. An asbestos abatement professional can cover your ceilings so that asbestos dust does not escape during the removal process. Then, the company can completely remove asbestos-containing materials safely.

What Are Your Legal Options if You Were Exposed to Asbestos From Popcorn Ceilings?

If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma or another condition related to exposure to asbestos and believe that your popcorn ceilings are to blame, you may be entitled to financial compensation. The company that originally manufactured the spray-on texture that covered your ceiling may be held liable, or legally and financially responsible, for creating a dangerous product. With assistance from an asbestos attorney, you can file a product liability claim against the manufacturer.

If you were exposed to asbestos through popcorn ceilings at work, you may have grounds to bring a claim against your employer, such as a workers’ compensation claim or an individual lawsuit. If the company you worked for has gone bankrupt or is out of business, you may still be able to collect compensation from an asbestos trust fund. This is a fund set up by a company to pay victims of asbestos exposure even if the company goes bankrupt. An attorney can help you with this unique claims process.

What Is Asbestos?

Asbestos is a group of six silicate minerals that are found naturally in deposits around the world. Asbestos fibers are thin, microscopic and needle-like. Asbestos is most dangerous in dust form, as it can become airborne and is more likely to be inhaled by a victim. Inhaling asbestos fibers can cause cancer and other major health problems. All six types of asbestos are confirmed carcinogens, according to the International Agency for Research on Cancer.

Types of Asbestos

There are two groups of asbestos minerals: serpentine and amphibole. Serpentine is the most common. Its fibers are long, curly and can be woven. Amphibole asbestos fibers are more difficult to work with, as they are straight and needle-like. Within the two groups of asbestos fibers are six main types:

  • Actinolite
  • Amosite
  • Anthophyllite
  • Chrysotile
  • Crocidolite
  • Tremolite

Chrysotile asbestos is most often associated with mesothelioma. It is also the type most commonly used, accounting for about 95 percent of asbestos used worldwide. This is because it is the only serpentine type of asbestos. Chrysotile asbestos is the most common kind found in popcorn ceilings and other textured sprays.

Where Else is Asbestos Found Today?

Asbestos can currently be found in millions of locations around the world. It is most commonly discovered in structures built and products made prior to the 1980s, as this is when the dangers of asbestos were publicized and regulations were finally enacted, in most countries. Asbestos may be present in older buildings, homes, schools, businesses, shipyards, factories, power plants and manufacturing facilities.

Asbestos exposure can happen at home or work. Residents who live in a structure that contains asbestos could be at risk of exposure if the asbestos gets disturbed, such as during a construction or renovation project. Construction workers, firefighters, builders and others who frequently work with asbestos-containing materials are also at risk of being exposed to asbestos and developing mesothelioma.

What Other Products Contain Asbestos?

Asbestos being present in a victim’s environment stems from this mineral being used in the creation of hundreds of building materials and consumer goods. Popcorn ceilings are just one example. Asbestos was used frequently in the manufacture of products for over a century. It was made popular by its low price, as well as its durability and resistance to heat and corrosion.

Some of the many products that may contain asbestos include:

  • Ceiling texture
  • Ceiling tiles
  • Roofing shingles
  • Vinyl floor tiles
  • Siding and wall panels
  • Adhesives, putties, glues and caulks
  • Spackling compounds
  • Cements
  • Joint compounds
  • Ducts and pipes
  • Insulation
  • Drywall
  • Felt
  • HVAC equipment
  • Electrical panels
  • Sheetrock
  • Furnaces and boilers
  • Gaskets
  • Automotive parts
  • Personal care products, such as talcum powder

If these products are disturbed or damaged, they can release asbestos particles or dust into the air. Asbestos can then get inhaled or ingested and eventually cause mesothelioma or other medical conditions. Anyone who comes into contact with these products is at risk. The National Cancer Institute states that there is no “safe” level of asbestos exposure. Frequent contact, however, increases related health risks.

What Illnesses Are Connected to Asbestos Exposure?

If you or your loved one was exposed to asbestos through popcorn ceilings, you could be at risk of developing a chronic or terminal illness. Asbestos can cause many different cancers and health problems that may affect a victim’s enjoyment or quality of life. Asbestos causes damage when the fibers become lodged in the mesothelium, or the thin membrane that surrounds most of the organs. An example is pleural mesothelioma, which is a cancer that affects the lining of the lungs.

Diseases associated with exposure to asbestos include:

If your popcorn ceilings contain asbestos that gets released at any time while you are living or working in the building, asbestos fibers could enter your body and cause irritation and scarring that lead to dangerous health problems. Common symptoms of asbestos-related illnesses include shortness of breath, a persistent cough, coughing up blood, pain or tightness in the chest, loss of appetite, chronic fatigue, fever, and night sweats.

How Can a Mesothelioma Attorney Help?

A successful asbestos claim for contaminated popcorn ceilings could result in financial compensation for your hospital bills, treatments, lost wages, pain and suffering, mental anguish, a loved one’s funeral or burial expenses, and more. A mesothelioma attorney can help you pursue the financial recovery that you and your family need, even if your case has to go to trial. A lawyer will answer your questions, connect you to vital mesothelioma resources, negotiate with insurance providers, hire experts and take other steps to help you during this difficult time.

What Is the Statute of Limitations on a Mesothelioma Claim?

A statute of limitations is a legal deadline to file a civil claim. Each state has unique statutes of limitations on mesothelioma lawsuits. Oftentimes, the statute of limitations is one to two years from the date of the victim’s mesothelioma diagnosis. If a surviving family member wishes to file a wrongful death claim for a death caused by exposure to asbestos, the statute of limitations typically starts counting down on the date of the victim’s death.

With only a few exceptions, the courts will refuse to hear a case that is brought after the statute of limitations has expired. This means you will lose the right to seek financial compensation if you file too late. It is important to consult with an attorney about a potential asbestos claim connected to popcorn ceilings as soon as possible, while you still have time to file a claim according to the deadline in your state.

Were You Exposed to Asbestos in Popcorn Ceilings? Get Help Today

To learn more about the dangers of asbestos exposure connected to popcorn ceilings, or to find out if you have grounds for a claim, contact Bailey & Glasser, LLP for a free case consultation. We are passionate about helping victims of asbestos exposure pursue justice and fair financial compensation. Call (866) 871-7971 today to speak to an intake specialist.