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Asbestos Question regarding popcorn ceiling


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I am not a professional inspector and I hope you don't mind me asking a question regarding asbestos on this board. I am generally a cautious person but I recently found out that popcorn ceilings can and probably do contain asbestos. Further I found that some adhesives used to stick tile down in houses may also contain asbestos.

I am VERY alarmed! Several years ago I helped a friend who was an odd job contractor remove popcorn ceiling and old tile from a house that was built some time in the 1970s. He did not mention any thing to me at all about potential asbestos exposure and I personally never had any idea that popcorn ceiling or tile adhesive might contain asbestos.

I have since learned that both of these products likely contained asbestos from reading literature. Could you guys provide me with your opinions? I worked on the ceiling and floors for several days. I did not where a mask at all and I am so afraid at the damage it might have caused. Again, I had no clue I was in any danger at all. Could you provide opinions and answers to the following questions:

In the mid 1970's was ALL popcorn ceiling material and flooring adhesive made from asbestos? I am trying to assess if I definitely have been exposed or if there is at least some chance that the house did not contain asbestos in these items.

If I was definitely exposed to asbestos, am I going to get sick? I know the effects might not show up for 20 or 30 years. If I breathed it in, am I definitely scarred on my lungs? Does anyone know what percentage of people who breathe asbestos get sick from it? Am I definitely already irreversibly harmed or can the body fight and expel asbestos and fully recover from it?

You can probably tell, I am quite frightened and do not know where to turn for reliable information.

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I forgot to mention that I did plenty of scraping of the popcorn with it falling in my face and plenty of mini-jackhammering of the tile because the adhesive was so strong. So I breathed plenty of dust and unfortunately probably asbestos. This is what I get for helping a friend out. So worried.

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No matter what you were working on you should have been wearing a mask of sorts in such a dusty environment.

Whatever you did inhale, I don't think there's anything you can do about it now. Also, I think that most of the problems that people had from asbestos were from longer term exposure.

Not much you can do about it now. Move on and live your life.

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One more bit of information...a random person on Yahoo Answers made the following statement:

"If it was a new house built in the 1970s and the 'popcorn' was sprayed or rolled on the new 'drywall' gypsum board, there is no asbestos.... The product used did not contain asbestos.

If the product was used in an older house, there may be asbestos in the underlying ceiling board."

Does this statment sound true to any of you professionals out there? If this statement is true then I feel a little better because I am fairly certain the house was built in the 1970s and that the popcorn ceiling was applied when the house was being built to new drywall.

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Yes I am older and wiser than I was then and obviously now I would not think of doing work like that without a mask on. On top of that I know nothing about construction or remodeling homes. I was simply doing grunt work for a friend. Thank you for the response.

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In the 1970s some popcorn ceilings had asbestos in them and some didn't. It's simply not possible for anyone on the planet to tell you for sure whether or not the ceiling that you worked on had asbestos in it. Anyone who tries to make an unequivocal statement on the subject is lying to you.

That said, you have certainly been exposed to asbestos. They were putting it *inside* blow dryers up into the 1980s. That is, people who used blow dryers were blowing the stuff right at their faces on a daily basis. It was used in brake linings through the 1990s. Anyone standing near a busy street corner would have breathed lungfulls of the stuff. Asbestos was used in over 3,000 different building products in the 20th century. You have breathed it. Welcome to the club.

Despite all of this, the vast majority of people who have developed cancer from it were people who worked with it in industrial settings for years on end. There have been very, very few cases of asbestos-induced cancer in people who have only been exposed to it in a residential setting.

Here's an idea: instead of fretting about something over which you have absolutely no control, how about, instead, you focus on things you can do to make your life and the lives of people around you richer?

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One more bit of information...a random person on Yahoo Answers made the following statement:

"If it was a new house built in the 1970s and the 'popcorn' was sprayed or rolled on the new 'drywall' gypsum board, there is no asbestos.... The product used did not contain asbestos.

If the product was used in an older house, there may be asbestos in the underlying ceiling board."

Does this statment sound true to any of you professionals out there? If this statement is true then I feel a little better because I am fairly certain the house was built in the 1970s and that the popcorn ceiling was applied when the house was being built to new drywall.

He/she simply does not know. The asbestos was in the gypsum board, in the tape compound, in the topping and sometimes in the popcorn.

The key word to understand is friable. Look it up and you should get a better understanding about your limited (as per your account) exposures.

I would educate myself by reading and then read somemore. Twenty-five years ago we were closing schools, evacuating entire neighborhoods and clogging the courts with lawsuits.

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Thanks for the responses! I just freaked when I read all the stuff online about this. Then when I read the friable part then I really freaked out because I was sraping, grinding and sanding like mad on the project and breathed plenty of whatever was flying around in the room. There was quite a bit of dust and of course I was directly underneath what I was scraping when I was doing the popcorn removing.

It seems with the danger involved there would be some kind of public service announcements on TV about this given so many houses have it. I do not smoke at all and exercise a decent amount so I am hoping my body can heal the damage from this. But reading the terms "scarring of lung tissue" put a scare in me because that sounds permanent and not repairable".

Thanks for the info and never again will I do this type of remodeling without a mask and protective clothing.

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Thanks for the info and never again will I do this type of remodeling without a mask and protective clothing.

I don't want to freak you out more, but we were told during an OSHA 10 cert course, that paper masks do little more than keep your face clean.

The particulates that cause the problems are small enough to go right through those masks.

Better get fit for a respirator if you're planning on jumping back in.

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Of course, upon my research I have found I might have been stirring up asbestos by using a hand jackhammer to bust out floor tile and mastic as well. The tiles looked like they were small square tiles of wood but who knows maybe it was vinyl containing asbestos made to look like wood...along with the potentially asbestos mastic underneath. They sure made some dangerous stuff in the 1970s. What were they thinking?

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one quart of cheap fabric softner, one tablespoon of Joy dish soap, one quart of warm water and one tablespoon of tsp - good for popcorn ceilings and wallpaper removal. Oh, if you are in Louisiana, add one stick of budder.

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At a nearby major university a ten story dormitory was built in the 60's. By using an asbestos laden ceiling coat the thickness of concrete floor/ceilings was reduced to meet fire separation and structural needs at cheaper cost. Fifteen yrs later a student noticed a thin film on top of the soft drink in a cup on her desk. Analysis found the material to be asbestos raining down invisibly from the ceiling coating.

Building was evacuated soon after, and an abatement done. Somehow, no class action lawsuits resulted, and the school launched an asbestos witch hunt that lasted for a number of years. They created, staffed, and trained a department within operation/maintenance that operated somewhat fitfully for a number of years before closing it down. Whether they got rid of all the cooties is likely never to be known.

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Marc, I did use a water sprayer to soften the popcorn tile when removing it. But at times I ran out of water and I am sure scraped plenty of it into dust. I just wish I knew if asbestos was the rule or the exception regarding popcorn ceilings installed in the 1970s to know if I likely breathed the bad stuff in or not.

The same goes for the tiles and mastic that I scraped and hammered up. The tiles certainly looked like real wood but they were in the form of small squares that appeared to contain even smaller squares of wood within each one. Don't know if they were vinyl with asbestos or not.

Same goes with the mastic it was VERY hard and darn near impossible to get up...even had to drill up some of the cement slab to get rid of it. The mastic was not gooey at all...just very hard and like superglue...maybe light brown in color.

Wish I could figure out if these items had asbestos and if so figure out how much danger and damage I now have.

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Les,

Are you saying that asbestos was DEFINITELY in the gypsam board and the taping compound in the 1970s?

I assume gypsam board is what is underneath the popcorn ceiling. If so, I scraped plenty of the dry gypsam board too.

Great even more asbestos that I inhaled. Sigh.

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Oh fer cryin' out loud,

Don't you get it. You've been exposed to asbestos in the air every day you've walked on the planet. That's why there isn't a huge uproar over exposure to it. Even if twenty or thirty years from now you come down with mesotelioma or asbestosis there will be absolutely no way you'll know whether it was because you were in the same room as a hair dryer, were in a house with friable asbestos tape sealing the inside of the forced air ducts, were exposed to asbestos dust in an auto shop while you waited to pick up your car, breathed it in while driving through a dust cloud along the interstate, got it while scraping that ceiling or from dozens of other possible ways you could have ingested or inhaled it.

You can't do anything about it, so why don't you stop fretting about it?

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Asbestos (naturally occuring) is a 3 2 crystalline structure.

Fiberglass (manufactured) is a 3 2 crystalline structure

with the same properties of asbestos

what are the health effects of Fiberglass?

it took 50 years for the health effects of asbestos to become known.

Fiberglass maybe safe

50 - 70 years will tell the tale...

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  • 2 years later...

Curious. I've always used water to weaken the popcorn before scraping it off. Comes off clean, the first time. Leaves it no longer friable too.

Marc

Hello Marc. You sound like you know what you're doing with this stuff. If I have the ceiling tested and it turns out to be asbestos - do you know if there is a cost associated with disposal at the proper locations here in Baton Rouge? Also, I read that instead of water, some people remove it by rolling paint over it to soften it and then scraping it while the paint is gooey. Have you ever tried this? Thanks
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