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Asbestos in my Popcorn Ceiling?

Asbestos in my Popcorn Ceiling?

Popcorn ceilings were trending from the 1950s through the 1980s for several reasons. The paint was easy to apply, the texture covered imperfections, and it offered fire resistance. Now, popcorn ceilings are less popular and are usually one of a homeowner’s first updates. 

Homeowners who want to trade the outdated textured style for a more conventional ceiling face a big problem. There’s a good chance those once-trending popcorn ceilings contain vermiculite which could be asbestos-contaminated

Asbestos is a natural mineral that comes out of the ground. Unlike other rocks, asbestos breaks apart into fine fibers. When inhaled, asbestos is dangerous to human health because it causes cancer called mesothelioma.

Vermiculite ore is a naturally occurring sedimentary rock that contains one or more valuable minerals mined, treated, and sold for a profit. It is used in building materials like insulation because of its reaction to heat. When heated to a high temperature, vermiculite flakes expand 8-30 times their original size. Expanded vermiculite is lightweight, fire-resistant, and odorless.

Vermiculite ore does not inherently include asbestos, but it could contain asbestos, depending on where it was mined. 

A mine near Libby, Montana, was the source of 70 percent of all vermiculite sold in the United States from 1919 to 1990. During that time, there was an asbestos deposit at the mine, contaminating the vermiculite sold for insulation and other building materials for years. 

Homeowners should assume popcorn ceilings contain asbestos.

popcorn ceiling

Some states, like New York, have strict regulations regarding asbestos-containing material. The NYS Department of Health requires that material is tested for asbestos if a contractor works on anything with more than 10% vermiculite.

The only way to know with certainty if a textured ceiling contains asbestos is to have it tested by a trained professional, unlike loose-filled vermiculite used for insulation (which must be assumed asbestos-containing). 

What is the average cost of an asbestos assessment?

The average cost of a residential asbestos assessment can be between $600 and $2000, including initial testing and the possibility of further testing, which depends on the initial findings. 

For example, if an initial sampling determines that vermiculite is in a popcorn ceiling, additional testing is required separately to determine if it contains asbestos. 

The cost varies based on the technicians’ on-site time and the required samples. Asbestos technicians could work on-site between 30 minutes and 8 hours, depending on how much sampling is needed.  

Federal or state regulations predetermine the number of samples required. Any disturbed material gets tested with a minimum requirement of two samples per material. The number of pieces sampled could increase to seven at times. 

Who To Call

AMD Environmental Consultants specializes in asbestos testing, surveys, and inspections. Our asbestos-related services include pre-demolition and general building surveys, asbestos abatement air and project monitoring, bulk sampling, and laboratory analysis. 

environmental consulting Our team will determine the safest and most cost-effective action for residents or commercial property owners concerned about asbestos. 

What should homeowners do with the results of the asbestos assessment?

Once a homeowner receives the results of the asbestos assessment, they should provide the report to an abatement contractor. The contractor will give a price estimate for the abatement. 

File the report with house documents if no asbestos is detected

Homeowners should know that New York State law (Code Rule 56) provides asbestos testing exemptions for homeowners who own and live in a single-family home. Unlike contractors, they do not have to test for asbestos-contaminated materials. 

The bottom line with regulations relating to vermiculite in building materials is that they can be complex and confusing. AMD Environmental professionals have been advising homeowners about asbestos-containing materials for decades.

Visit AMD Environmental for more information about asbestos and environmental consulting.