Concerns About Materials Containing Asbestos

I recently received this question from a concerned homeowner. I thought I would share our response with everyone because I know that this is a question that does not have a clear straight forward answer.

“Hello – My home was built in 1985 and has popcorn acoustic
ceilings. Could these possibly contain asbestos? I have read
conflicting information on the internet as to when building materials
and paints containing asbestos were banned. Thanks for your help.”

According to California law, anything that is sprayed or troweled on a substrate needs to be tested.

Below is a list provided by The State of Colorado that I found useful which applies to the US as a whole.

BANS ON USAGE of certain asbestos-containing materials (ACM):
* 1973, banned spray-applied surfacing ACM for fireproofing/insulating purposes.
* 1975, banned installation of wet-applied and pre-formed (molded) asbestos pipe insulation, and banned installation of pre-formed (molded) asbestos block insulation on boilers and hot water tanks (thermal system insulation).
* 1978, banned spray-applied Surfacing ACM for “decorative” purposes.
* 1989, and reconfirmed in 1993, banned six asbestos-containing product use categories:
Corrugated paper,
Commercial paper,
Specialty paper,
Flooring felt, and
New uses of asbestos.

*1990, prohibits spray-on application of materials containing more than 1% asbestos to buildings, structures, pipes, and conduits unless the material is encapsulated with a bituminous or resinous binder during spraying and the materials are not friable after drying.

The following uses of asbestos-containing material were not banned:
*Troweled-on surfacing asbestos-containing material.
*Asbestos-cement corrugated sheet, asbestos-cement flat sheet, asbestos clothing, pipeline wrap, roofing felt, vinyl-asbestos floor tile, asbestos-cement shingle, millboard, asbestos-cement pipe, automatic transmission components, clutch facings, friction materials, disc brake pads, drum brake linings, brake blocks, gaskets, non-roofing coatings, and roof coatings.

The EPA still allows, on equipment and machinery, spray-on application of materials that contain more than 1% asbestos where the asbestos fibers in the materials are encapsulated with a bituminous or resinous binder during spraying and the materials are not friable after drying; or for friable materials, where either no visible emissions are discharged to the outside air from spray-on application, or specified methods are used to clean emissions containing particulate asbestos material before they escape to, or are vented to, the outside air.

Next ArticleReducing Cooling Costs in Your Commercial Building